Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Sound fishy to you?

We have a Detecto glass bathroom scale that we have used for several years.

It displays your weight to one decimal place.

I weigh myself daily, and sometimes more than once a day, though I record my weight in a spreadsheet only on Saturdays.

In my experience, if I weigh myself more than once on the same day, even no more than a few minutes apart, I never get the same weight on each try.

In my daily experience I have never got an odd digit after the decimal place, and rarely have I got one in the last digit before the decimal place.

Less, notably less, than 1 % of the time.

Krugman on the Nativist wave


These days calling someone a “know-nothing” could mean one of two things.

If you’re a student of history, you might be comparing that person to a member of the Know Nothing party of the 1850s, a bigoted, xenophobic, anti-immigrant group that at its peak included more than a hundred members of Congress and eight governors.

More likely, however, you’re suggesting that said person is willfully ignorant, someone who rejects facts that might conflict with his or her prejudices.

The sad thing is that America is currently ruled by people who fit both definitions.

And the know-nothings in power are doing all they can to undermine the very foundations of American greatness.

The parallels between anti-immigrant agitation in the mid-19th century and Trumpism are obvious.

Only the identities of the maligned nationalities have changed.

After all, Ireland and Germany, the main sources of that era’s immigration wave, were the shithole countries of the day.

Half of Ireland’s population emigrated in the face of famine, while Germans were fleeing both economic and political turmoil.

Immigrants from both countries, but the Irish in particular, were portrayed as drunken criminals if not subhuman.

They were also seen as subversives: Catholics whose first loyalty was to the pope.

A few decades later, the next great immigration wave — of Italians, Jews and many other peoples — inspired similar prejudice.

Read the whole piece in the Times.

By the way, the waves of immigrants greeted by The Statue of Liberty were pretty heavily low wage types, many of whom did not speak English.

And criminals were more common among them than in the native population.

Immigrants from Italy, for example, brought us the Mafia.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Letterman's new show

Letterman has a monthly interview show on Netflix.

The first show is a good interview with Barack Obama.

The ex-president displayed his usual good humor, decency, well-informed intelligence, dignity, sensitivity, tact, and gravity.

The contrast with the ignorant, boorish thug in The White House could not be more stark.

An MLK Day assault on Bozo

Donald Trump is a racist, says Charles Blow in the Times.

He begins with a definition pointing to one specific and common meaning of the term.

Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. 

I think we can read "or" for that "and".

As to capabilities, anyone who accepts both that IQ is highly heritable and heavily dependent on genetic endowment and that the average IQs of blacks and whites are about 15 points apart is a racist in that sense.

Likewise, anyone who accepts that blacks are taller and heavier than Japanese, on average, and that this difference, assuming equally favorable environmental factors, is a matter of genetic endowment, and that being taller and heavier are advantages in many sports, is a racist in that sense.

As to character, I suppose we can take that as a reference to behavioral dispositions.

So anyone who thinks both that there are heritable differences in the behavioral dispositions of the races, making some superior to others in relevant respects, would be a racist on this definition.

In the past, for instance, it was commonly alleged that blacks were lazier, more promiscuous, and more thuggish than whites or others, and that these traits are heritable and these differences due to differing genetic endowment.

Blow does not, in defining "racism", allude to such things as hostility, contempt, or dislike.

Nor does he allude to any notion that such racial differences do or would call for or justify any form of racial discrimination or any particular political arrangements.

But he does say, quite accurately, this.

These beliefs are racial prejudices.

He does not say they are the only racial prejudices, nor does he say (and it would be untrue to say) that prejudices are always or necessarily unfavorable, injurious, regrettable, to be condemned, or even false.

And he says this.

The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.

I would have thought the racial caste system was the institutional shape of white supremacy in America rather than something white supremacy had been used to develop, but never mind.

He goes on,

Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.

But his particular definition of racism and his remarks about prejudice and white supremacy are equally irrelevant to this "understanding" concerning Trump's words and deeds.

And with no more than that he makes the following claims, to which also the given definition and history lesson do not seem at all relevant.

It is not a stretch to say that Trump is racist. 

It’s not a stretch to say that he is a white supremacist. 

It’s not a stretch to say that Trump is a bigot.

Those are just facts, supported by the proof of the words that keep coming directly from him. 

But I am not aware of anything he has said that supports the claim Trump is a racist in the sense that Blow has specified.

Nor that he is a white supremacist.

Nor even that he is a bigot.

Which is not to deny he is a racist in the sense defined, or that there is considerable evidence that he is.

And the evidence is even better that he has often and deliberately invited the support of whites who include but are not limited to racists, Nativists, white nationalists, and white supremacists.

Which in turn of course is part of the evidence that he personally is racist in the sense defined and that he himself wants some of the things he wants, as president, because of that racism.

Here is a bit more in the general propaganda assault on The Duce for racism, in celebration of MLK Day, in liberal media, proving everywhere it is entirely possible to use false, immaterial, or merely pretended claims to convict a man of something of which he is actually guilty.

Donald Trump’s Racism: The Definitive List

The Duce embraces Martin Luther King

He gave a televised, brief, and perfectly orthodox liberal speech applauding King and endorsing his vision and values.

The usual MLK day thing.

The main stream media broadcast it accompanied by live commentary from black and other opinion leaders and network talking heads, insisting he is a racist.

Which, when asked recently by a newsie for the TV, he denied, insisting he is the least racist person you would ever meet.

"Je ne suis pas raciste. Je suis la personne la moins raciste que vous ayez jamais interviewée", a déclaré dimanche soir à des journalistes le président américain depuis son club de golf de West Palm Beach, en Floride, où il dînait dimanche avec le chef de la majorité de la Chambre des représentants Kevin McCarthy.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Trump "legitimates" language that "was previously not acceptable"

Trump’s Immigration Remarks Outrage Many, but Others Quietly Agree

What is meant in this piece by "was not acceptable"?

And it matters to whom, and where.

The article, otherwise intelligent and accurate in many respects, misleadingly ignores the fact that speech subject to legal punishment in many parts of Europe is completely legal in the US, where PC speech codes are not enforced by the government but only by fierce social pressure, including punishment by employers.

There is pushing back both in Europe and America, but there is more to push back against, and the cost is much higher, in Europe.

So when President Trump said he did not want immigrants from “shithole” countries, there was ringing silence across broad parts of the European Union, especially in the east, and certainly no chorus of condemnation.

In fact, some analysts saw the remarks as fitting a pattern of crude, dehumanizing and racist language to describe migrants and asylum seekers that has steadily edged its way into the mainstream. 

Coming from the White House, such words may be taken by some as a broader signal that racism is now an acceptable part of political discourse.

“What we see now is a conscious policy to reintroduce language that was previously not acceptable in debate,” said Gerald Knaus, the director of the European Stability Initiative, a Berlin-based research organization that has played a leading role in forming recent European migration policy.

To be sure, Mr. Trump’s choice of words drew condemnation from around the world. 

Botswana and Haiti asked for meetings with American diplomats to clarify what Mr. Trump said and what he believes. 

The president of Senegal, Macky Sall, was one of many who saw racism in the remarks. “Africa and black people deserve the respect and consideration of all,” he wrote on Twitter.

Even the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, weighed in, declaring Mr. Trump’s comments “particularly harsh and offensive.”

But the political reality is that migration has become a salient issue — and not only for right-wing, populist and nativist politicians. 

Across many affluent societies, people are anxious about technological change, rising inequality and stagnant wages, and they have focused their ire at the global flows of capital and, especially, labor. 

There are also concerns about demographic change, as the world becomes less white and as western societies age.

The Duce, throughout his campaign and since, has defiantly insisted he will not comply with PC speech codes.

As for his merely salty and derogatory but not clearly racist language, it has never been unacceptable in private to anyone but the hypersensitive and the hopelessly anti-profane.

Certainly its use was not unacceptable to those in the White House who have privately called him a moron, and worse.

For that matter, even much more plainly racist talk in non-public settings has never been unacceptable to all - the Klan and the Aryan Brotherhood have always been with us, it seems, recently cheek by jowl with the Black Muslims and the Black Panthers - and has been rigidly unacceptable "in polite company" maybe only for ten minutes in 1975.

All the same, it is absolutely beyond question that the attitudes, speech, and conduct of the anti-immigrant right, both in Europe and in America, sometimes feature a degree of scorn for the countries from which immigrants come, for their cultures, for their customs, for their non-Christian or non-Protestant religions, for their languages, or for being economically and politically failed states and nearly failed states.

And at the same time it is beyond question that rejection -  some with but also some without scorn or contempt - of immigrants is driven in part by their being racially, or even merely ethnically (think of the opposition in the western countries to immigrants from the eastern ones, within the EU), different from the peoples of the states to which they come.

What we are seeing among Europeans and Americans is a widespread Nativism, a determination to prevent significant changes to the cultural, linguistic, religious, ethnic, or racial compositions of their countries by people who, in those countries, believe they are threatened by such changes to the demographic status quo, often having an exaggerated idea of its homogeneity to begin with, much as the hostility to multiculturalism often rests on such error.

For example, it has always been more accurate to speak of America as a cultural, ethnic, religious, and racial salad bowl than a melting pot, anyway - and three cheers for the Statue of Liberty.

Now as in earlier times, we are all of us "hyphenated Americans," though very, very few of us have or have had the seriously divided loyalties so feared by Wilson and both the earlier and later Roosevelts.

But it is only the pro-immigration folks, always aware their policies do and will upset existing demographics and sometimes pursuing this precisely as a goal, who have insisted on outright criminalization of the speech, the aims, or the values of their political opponents.

Perhaps because our discourse does not much damn them as anti-white racists, Christianophobes, anti-Brits or French or Italians, or anti-Catholics - or anti-Semites, when we consider their opposition to Israel's specifically Jewish character - some or all of which they not infrequently are.

He deserved prison, but his treatment was shamefully harsh and the sentence draconian

If he wins the nomination from Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and a solid Democrat, Maryland may get its first Republican senator in a while.

The too far left and single issue sexual radicals will like him.

But the bulk of Democrats?

Chelsea [Bradley] Manning Files for Senate Run in Maryland

Chelsea Manning, the former Army private convicted of disclosing classified information, has filed to run for Senate in Maryland, according to federal election filings.

Ms. Manning, who was found guilty of leaking more than 700,000 government files to WikiLeaks in 2013, would face Senator Benjamin L. Cardin in the Democratic primary race this year. 

Mr. Cardin is Maryland’s senior senator and the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In 2012, the senator cruised to victory in the general election after winning the Democratic primary race with nearly 75 percent of the vote.

Ms. Manning, a transgender woman formerly known as Bradley Manning, received a 35-year prison term for disseminating a vast trove of government documents that included incident reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and dossiers on detainees being imprisoned without trial at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The sentence was the longest ever imposed in a leak case. 

President Barack Obama commuted it in the final days of his presidency, calling it “very disproportionate.”

Trump 1, WSJ 0

MSNBC just played the tape, and he said "I'd probably have a great relationship with Kim Jong Un."

Trump vs. the Wall Street Journal: What did he say about his relationship with Kim Jong Un?

People have regularly misquoted him on this one, even sometimes leaving out the word "probably," a word that surely is good evidence what he said was "I'd", a contraction for "I would", and not "I probably have . . . ."

He has been attacked for asserting he already had such a relationship with Kim before he ever met or spoke to him.

DACA resuccitated

DACA Participants Can Again Apply for Renewal, Immigration Agency Says

But does this put them in only partial compliance with the court ruling?

The federal government said on Saturday that it would resume accepting renewal requests for a program that shields from deportation young immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States as children.

In a statement, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services said that “until further notice,” the Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, “will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded” in September, when President Trump moved to end it.

The decision came after a federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction on Tuesday ordering the Trump administration to resume the DACA program.

The agency said on Saturday that people who were previously granted deferred action under the program could request a renewal if it had expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016. 

People who had previously received DACA, but whose deferred action had expired before Sept. 5, 2016, cannot renew, but can instead file a new request, the agency said. 

It noted that the same instructions apply to anyone whose deferred action had been terminated.

But officials also said they were not accepting requests from individuals who have never been granted deferred action under DACA.

Notorious among bored and ignorant newsfreaks

Is There Life After Liberalism?

Hitler? Stalin? Abimael Guzman?

After what, exactly?

Bullshit sells well, maybe especially in academia.

Bullshit about history, ideology, contemporary politics, and the future, all in one place.