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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

David Brooks Has Finally Figured Out Why People Hate Hillary Clinton

New York Times columnist David Brooks. (photo: PBS)
New York Times columnist David Brooks. (photo: PBS)

By Jessica Roy, New York Magazine
 
n a stunning feat of investigative journalism, New York Times columnist David Brooks has finally determined exactly why the American people find Hillary Clinton so unlikable.

It's because she doesn't have any hobbies.

Hmm. That doesn't seem right.

"What exactly do so many have against her?" Brooks wonders. "I would begin my explanation with this question: Can you tell me what Hillary Clinton does for fun? We know what Obama does for fun — golf, basketball, etc ... But when people talk about Clinton, they tend to talk of her exclusively in professional terms."

Yes. Hillary Clinton's likability problem does not stem from the fact that we inhabit a society still influenced by subtle sexism, but instead that she just doesn't seem all that fun. Maybe if she didn't take the job of running for leader of the free world so damn seriously, she'd have more time for knitting, or Ping-Pong, or binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls.

Of course the kind of fanatical work ethic that's valued in men is scorned in women: Because she's a woman, Clinton's dogged dedication to her job becomes a hurdle to overcome instead of a strength. But even if his theory is true and people wish Hillary would show us her softer side, exactly why they expect that of her does not factor into Brooks's column. In fact, the word woman doesn't appear once in the article.

Naturally, all this leads to the question ... what does fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders do for fun? No freakin' idea.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Climate Change Could Wreck Yellowstone, Statue of Liberty, Other Cherished Sites

Yellowstone National Park. (photo: John Kalla)
Yellowstone National Park. (photo: John Kalla)

By Katie Herzog, Grist

29 May 16

lobal warming isn’t just bad news for beach babes and polar bears: It could also be devastating for UNESCO World Heritage sites across the globe.

According to a new report, there are 31 World Heritage sites in 29 countries at risk due to rising temperatures and sea levels, melting glaciers, and intensified storms, droughts, and wildfires. These include major tourist attractions like Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado and the city of Venice, Italy.

“Some Easter Island statues are at risk of being lost to the sea because of coastal erosion,” said Adam Markham, lead author of the report. “Many of the world’s most important coral reefs, including in the islands of New Caledonia in the western Pacific, have suffered unprecedented coral bleaching linked to climate change this year. Climate change could eventually even cause some World Heritage sites to lose their status.”

There is, however, one place conspicuously absent from the report: Australia. The Guardian reports that the Australian government requested that a chapter on the Great Barrier Reef — which is at risk from increased temperatures, ocean acidification, and coral bleaching — be removed from the list, fearing that its inclusion would hurt tourism. Australian climate scientist Will Steffen told the paper that the reef’s omission was “frankly astounding” and reminiscent of “the old Soviet Union.”

See photos of some of the at-risk sites below — minus, of course, the Great Barrier Reef.

Easter Island.
Djenne Mosque, Mali.
Stonehenge, England.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Advice for Divided Democrats

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)
Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. (photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
29 May 16
 
ith the Democratic primaries grinding to a bitter end, I have suggestions for both Clinton and Sanders supporters that neither will like.

First, my advice to Clinton supporters: Don’t try to drum Bernie Sanders out of the race before Hillary Clinton officially gets the nomination (if she in fact does get it).

Some of you say Bernie should bow out because he has no chance of getting the nomination, and his continuing candidacy is harming Hillary Clinton’s chances.

It’s true that Bernie’s chances are slim, but it’s inaccurate to say he has no chance. If you consider only pledged delegates, who have been selected in caucuses and primaries, he’s not all that far behind Hillary Clinton. And the upcoming primary in California – the nation’s most populous state – could possibly alter Sanders’s and Clinton’s relative tallies.

My calculation doesn’t include so-called “superdelegates” – Democratic office holders and other insiders who haven’t been selected through primaries and caucuses. But in this year of anti-establishment fury, it would be unwise for Hillary Clinton to relay on superdelegates to get her over the finish line.

Sanders should stay in the race also because he has attracted a large number of young people and independents. Their passion, excitement, and enthusiasm are critically important to Hillary Clinton’s success, if she’s the nominee, as well the success of other Democrats this year, and, more fundamentally, to the future of American politics.

Finally and not the least, Sanders has been telling a basic truth about the American political economic system – that growing inequality of income and wealth has led inexorably to the increasing political power of those at the top, including big corporations and Wall Street banks. And that political power has stacked the deck in their favor, leading to still wider inequality.

Nothing important can be accomplished – reversing climate change, creating true equal opportunity, overcoming racism, rebuilding the middle class, having a sane and sensible foreign policy – until we reclaim our democracy from the moneyed interests. The longer Bernie Sanders is on stage to deliver this message, the better.

Next, my advice for Sanders supporters: Be prepared to work hard for Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination.

Some of you say that refusing to fight for or even vote for Hillary will show the Democratic political establishment why it must change its ways.

But the “Democratic political establishment” is nothing but a bunch of people, many of them big donors and fundraisers occupying comfortable and privileged positions, who won’t even be aware that you’ve decided to sit it out – unless Hillary loses to Donald Trump.

Which brings me to those of you who say there’s no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

That’s just plain wrong. Trump has revealed himself to be a narcissistic, xenophobic, hatemonger who, if elected, would legitimize bigotry, appoint Supreme Court justices with terrible values, and have direct access to the button that could set off a nuclear war.

Hillary may not possess Bernie Sanders’s indignation about the rigging of our economy and democracy, or be willing to go as far in remedying it, but she’s shown herself a capable and responsible leader.

Some of you agree a Trump presidency would be a disaster but claim it would galvanize a forceful progressive movement in response.

That’s unlikely. Rarely if ever in history has a sharp swing to the right moved the political pendulum further back in the opposite direction. Instead, it tends to move the “center” rightward, as did Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Besides, Trump could do huge and unalterable damage to America and the world in the meantime.

Finally, some of you say even if Hillary is better than Trump, you’re tired of choosing the “lesser of two evils,” and you’re going to vote your conscience by either writing Bernie’s name in, or voting for the Green Party candidate, or not voting at all.

I can’t criticize anyone for voting their conscience, of course. But your conscience should know that a decision not to vote for Hillary, should she become the Democratic nominee, is a de facto decision to help Donald Trump.

Both of my morsels of advice may be hard to swallow. Many Hillary supporters don’t want Bernie to keep campaigning, and many Bernie supporters don’t want to root for Hillary if she gets the nomination.

But swallow it you must – not just for the good of the Democratic Party, but for the good of the nation.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

RIM COUNTRY GAZETTE BLOG IS BACK FROM VACATION

Photo: Granddaughter Fern terrorizing pigeons in France.  
 
We appreciate your patience.  We were in France visiting children and grandchildren in the countryside with very limited internet access.

While we were away, Donald Trump clinched the GOP nomination, so we have work to do.  Let's get at it.  Our first post is below.

Elizabeth Warren Is Emerging as Leading Democratic Voice Against Trump

Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo: Andrew Harper/Bloomberg)
Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo: Andrew Harper/Bloomberg)
By Annie Linskey, The Boston Globe
 
lizabeth Warren was working on puzzles with her three grandchildren on a trip to Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago when she checked her laptop and saw that Donald Trump had gone after her on Twitter.

“I got a notice that he’d attacked me,” Warren said.

Trump called Warren a “flunky” and — after months of deploying devastating nicknames for his political rivals — debuted one for her: “Goofy Elizabeth Warren.”

“I laughed out loud,” Warren recalled when she saw the nickname. She sought out a quiet place to respond. “I left the kids and went to the other room and wrote the tweets,” Warren said.

Thus began a highly unusual digital debate between two of the most prominent politicians in America. It stretched more than four hours — with Warren and Trump sparring in personal terms in near real time. She called him “a bully” who “spews insults and lies.” He called her a “fraud” who is “weak and ineffective” and “not Native American.”The two picked up where they left off on Wednesday with a new series of exchanges.

The Trump vs. Warren tweets attracted massive amounts of news coverageand are a potent reminder of Warren’s ability to harness social media for a cause or a candidate. They thrust her back into the national political spotlight after months of being overshadowed by fellow progressive Bernie Sanders, who is also an able communicator on social media.

Warren’s ability to effectively confront Trump — rare among politicians — is also fresh evidence of the edge she brings as a surrogate for the Democratic Party and the strength she could offer the national ticket, particularly given how Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign struggles to come across as authentic and is failing to connect with younger voters.

Warren’s name has been floated as a potential vice president for Clinton, and even Vice President Joe Biden considered asking her to be on his ticket when he was thinking of mounting a bid last August.And though Warren has deep ideological differences with both Biden and Clinton, her willingness to engage so aggressively with Trump has been widely seen as an audition for the attack dog role usually filled by vice presidential candidates.

In some ways, both Warren and Trump benefit from the Twitter tussle. They each seem to relish the exchange, which has rallied both parties’ bases.

“The more Donald Trump thrusts Elizabeth Warren in the middle of the national spotlight, the better it is for Democrats this November because her ideas are enormously popular,” said Adam Green, c0-founder of the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “Of all people, it’s surprising that he’s willing to give her such a platform.”

Clinton’s campaign stays in touch with Warren’s camp on a regular basis.

“We are grateful to see leaders of all stripes calling him out for his divisive comments,” said Christina Reynolds, a Clinton spokeswoman. “As a leader and major advocate in holding Wall Street accountable, Senator Warren’s voice is particularly important and we are glad she’s helping lead the fight.”
A Trump spokeswoman didn’t comment.

Warren combines a measure of Internet-friendly snark with policy-heavy attacks that — so far — push back at his antics without making the mistake of overshooting, as some of his Republican primary opponents did.

The most recent burst of exchanges began May 3. The US Senate was in recess for a Mother’s Day break, and Warren was in California visiting her daughter’s family.

Warren and her family watched television together as Indiana primary results rolled in, seeing Trump prevail in 85 of the state’s 92 counties. Then, shortly after polls closed, word spread that Trump’s main competitor, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, would drop out.

“The kids had gone off to bed,” Warren said in a brief interview with the Globe. “And I just thought, ‘This man is truly dangerous. He is reckless and he is dangerous.’ ”

Warren said she fired up her laptop and “wrote some posts calling him out.”

These messages, some posted on Facebook and others on Twitter, were shared widely and viewed by more than 45 million people, Warren’s staff said. She has nearly 420,000 followers on her personal Twitter account.

Trump didn’t respond until three days later, when Warren was again with her daughter’s young family.

“I expected he’d punch back,” she said.

“This felt very much like Donald Trump,” Warren said. “Way too many people have spent way too much time brushing him off. I’m not going to brush him off.”

Trump, for his part, is relying on lines of attack used by former senator Scott Brown during the 2012 Brown vs. Warren campaign: The presumptive Republican nominee has called her “ineffective” and focuses on her unsubstantiated claims of Native American ancestry.

“Goofy Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton’s flunky, has a career that is totally based on a lie,” Trump wrote May 6. “She is not Native American.”

Warren quickly shot back.

“We saw when Scott Brown attacked my family & his staff made tomahawk chops & war whoops. They lost big. MA voters knew better.”

They picked up again a few days later with a series of exchanges.

In fact, a scroll through Warren’s campaign Twitter feed shows that the only topics Warren has tweeted about this month are Donald Trump and the Republican primary.
It’s all the more surprising given that Warren has yet to endorse in the Democratic race, which has stretched much further than anyone believed possible last year. Out of the 14 female Democrats in the US Senate, Warren is the only one who hasn’t yet endorsed Clinton.

Warren is closer to Sanders on the big issues, including regulating Wall Street. But it’s not out of the question that she’d join with Clinton if asked.

Nine months ago, Warren sat down with Biden as he was considering a presidential bid.

Biden, like Clinton, has close ties to the financial services industry that Warren rails against — but she was open to being on the ticket with Biden.

The vice president never officially offered Warren the job. But after the pair met last Augustin the lush quarters of the Naval Observatory, he asked Warren to look around.

“If I have my way,” he told her, “you’ll be living here.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Donald Trump, President of the Confederacy

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally. (photo: Charlie Leight/Getty Images)
Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally. (photo: Charlie Leight/Getty Images)


By Chauncey DeVega, Salon
17 May 16
 
A decades-long pattern of racist appeals has left the Republican Party with no one but the racists

here are two consistent themes about the American right-wing in the Age of Obama. First, racism and conservatism is now one and the same thing. Second, the Republican Party is the United States’ largest white identity organization. I am not the only person to have made such observations.

Of course, Republicans and conservatives find these twin facts offensive and unbelievable. They hold onto their founding myth of Lincoln and “Great Emancipator” while simultaneously being dependent on voters from the former Confederacy for power—states that still fly and honor the American swastika, a rebel flag of treason and anti-black hatred.

Despite their protests, the evidence is overwhelming.

The ascendance of Donald Trump and his coronation as the presumed 2016 Republican presidential candidate is the logical outcome of a several decades-long pattern of racism, nativism, and bigotry by the American right-wing and its news entertainment disinformation machine.

For example, in response to the triumphs of the black freedom struggle and the civil rights movement, the Republican Party has relied on the much discussed “Southern Strategy.” Lee Atwater, master Republican strategist and mentor to Karl Rove explained this approach as:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “N****r, n****r, n****r.” By 1968 you can’t say “n****r”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N****r, n****r.”

Ronald Reagan and other Republican elites would leverage Atwater’s approach to winning white voters and elections. To point, Reagan began his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the locale where American civil rights freedom fighters Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were killed by white racial terrorists. In that speech, Reagan signaled to the ghosts of Jim and Jane Crow and the neo-Confederacy by stating his support for “states’ rights.”

Reagan would continue to use overt and coded racial appeals to gin up white support through his references to a “lazy,” “violent” and “parasitic” class of black Americans who he described as “welfare queens” and “strapping bucks.” George Bush would continue with the Southern Strategy when he summoned up white racist stereotypes and fears of “the black beast rapist” in the form of Willie Horton during the 1988 presidential election.

The Age of Obama witnessed an explosion of anti-black racism by the Republican Party and conservatives en masse. Birtherism, the rise of the Tea Party, the use of antebellum language (which was used to defend the Southern slaveocracy) such as “secession” and “nullification”, both overt and coded racist invective by Republican officials and news media, and a pattern of disrespect towards both the idea and literal personhood of Barack Obama as the United States’ first black president has been the norm. This deluge of anti-black animus towards Barack Obama does not exist in a separate universe outside of American society: it has real impact on the values and behavior of citizens.

To wit: in discussing his recent work on racial attitudes and political polarization, Professor Michael Tesler has noted how:

After at least two full decades of being unrelated to party identification, both old fashioned racism and anti-black affect have once again become significantly linked to white partisanship in the age of Obama…After at least two full decades of being unrelated to party identification, both old fashioned racism and anti-black affect have once again become significantly linked to white partisanship in the age of Obama.

In all, Barack Obama’s presidency has been so disruptive to the white right-wing political imagination that it has resurrected a type of overt racism which was thought to be largely vanquished from American public life.

The intersection of white racism (“modern” and “old-fashioned”), nativism, a sense of white victimhood, and grievance mongering in the form of conspiracy theories and other unfounded beliefs is evident in other ways as well. 

Fifty-four percent of Republicans believe that Barack Obama is a “secret Muslim.” Forty-four percent also believe that Obama was not born in the United States. Forty-two percent of Republicans believe that Muslims should be banned from the United States. Sixty-four percent of Republicans believe that “racism” against white people is as big a problem as discrimination against black Americans. 

In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 66 percent of Republican and Republican-inclined respondents want to return to the “good old days.. This number is higher for Trump backers. It is important to note that this era was one of Jim and Jane Crow anti-black racism, legal sexism, and unapologetic discrimination against gays and lesbians. This yearning for a return to a fictive golden age of white male Christian domination over American social and political life is reflected in other work that shows how white people are much more pessimistic about their futures than Hispanics and African-Americans.

Donald Trump is not a political genius. He understands what the Republican base yearns for and has been trained to believe–like a sociopolitical version of Pavlov’s dog–by its leaders.

Trump says that Muslims should be banned from the United States because Republican voters respond to such hatred and intolerance.

Trump lies that undocumented Hispanic and Latino immigrants are rapists and killers who want to attack white women because Republican voters find such rhetoric compelling.

Trump uses social media to circulate white supremacist talking points about “black crime” because modern conservatives nurtured on “law and order” politics believe that African-Americans are out of control “thugs” possessed of “bad culture” who live to prey on innocent and vulnerable white people.

Trump talks about China “raping” the United States because this arouses anger and fear of a new “yellow peril” where the manhood and honor of (white) America is sacrificed to a “sneaky” and “scheming” “Oriental” horde who twist their Fu Manchu mustaches and seduce white women in opium dens while simultaneously negotiating multibillion dollar trade deals.

And perhaps most damning, Donald Trump has been endorsed by neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and the Ku Klux Klan: he has been reluctant to publicly reject and denounce their support.

The corporate news media has aided and abetted “Trumpmania” by normalizing his racist, nativist and bigoted behavior. In response to Trump’s crucial win in last week’s Indiana primary, Slate’s Isaac Chotiner skewered this failure of journalistic integrity and responsibility among the TV news chattering class as:

On TV Tuesday night, there was hardly a whimper. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox contented themselves with bright chatter about Ted Cruz’s hurt feelings, about Donald Trump’s political skill, about the feckless, pathetic Republican establishment. None of the commentators I saw mentioned the import of what was happening. Large chunks of the media have spent so long domesticating Trump that his victory no longer appeared momentous. He is the new normal….There was little talk of ideology, or racism, or bigotry, or fascist appeals. Instead, the conversation was about process; Trump had been fit into the usual rhythms of an election season. The closest thing I heard to open-mouthed shock came from Rachel Maddow, who wondered, correctly, why out of 330 million people the Republican Party had chosen this particular reality-television star.

Elizabeth Bathory was a 16th century Hungarian countess who killed hundreds of young virgin girls and then bathed in their blood with the hope that it would maintain her beauty. Since at least the end of the civil rights movement, the Republican Party and movement conservatives have followed a similar “beauty” regimen. Instead of the blood of female virgins, they have washed themselves in racism and bigotry in order to buoy their political vitality.

Donald Trump decided to move this political ritual out of the shadows and into the light of prime time television and the 24/7 news cycle. Trump, with his background in professional wrestling and reality TV simply took what has always been implied by the American Right-wing and made it obvious.

This move vanquished Trump’s Republican rivals.

The question now becomes, will Trump’s version of Elizabeth Bathory be enough to defeat Hillary Clinton and win the White House in November 2016?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

'Transgender people are not imposters intending to deceive unsuspecting girls.'

  GEORGE TEMPLETON  
        COMMENTARY        
By George Templeton
Gazette Columnist 

Fractured We and the Bathroom Conundrum
The relationships of gender identity were shown in the comedy movies Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman and Mrs. Doubtfire with Robin Williams.  They reveal its malleability.  They were not about a permanent, innate and consistent behavior rooted in the mind or that some feel that they don’t belong in the body they were born into.
It’s different than the slippery slope alleging that our Federal Government authorizes any curious fourteen year old boy to use the girl’s rest room.  We have serious laws about sexual assault, and this isn’t that.  Transgender people are not imposters intending to deceive unsuspecting girls.
A “cisgender” person’s sex matches their birth certificate, their biological genome, their bodies, and their personal identity.  It does not depend on appearances, orientation, mental, or physical characteristics.  By this definition, everyone of an original gender group is and always remains the same.  Laws based on this assumption guarantee problems because they require a manly female to use the woman’s rest room.  They are self-referential because they create the problem they are supposed to fix.  They exist within the tension between narrow legal precedent and broad morality. 
Some people are born differently.  They would have to prove what they are.  What they look, act, and sound like is not enough.  If you are different, they’ve got you trapped, identified as one of those people.
Transgender people can’t feel comfortable unless they use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.  Otherwise, they would be viewed as “out of place” and could be harassed by laws requiring them to prove their gender.  What does one do if they don’t look male or female according to expectations or were born with blurred characteristics?  What if they are a female muscle builder or a long haired male?  Rock Hudson, the manly movie star, was gay.  He did not look that way.
Elected
It is part of election politics.  New state laws would roll back and prohibit anti-discrimination policies in employment, the public square, the marketplace, and municipalities.  The law is authoritative, taking away personal responsibility.  It implies that it represents the “will of the American people”, so why should anyone buck the tide? 
John Kavanagh, Arizona Republican, introduced a 2013 restroom bill that would have prevented transgender people from using the restroom of their chosen gender identity, but it failed before reaching Governor Brewer.  Now conservative lawyers in the deep pocketed Arizona Alliance Defending Freedom are manufacturing problems by writing laws for state legislators that divide Americans.  They are interested in “reasonable” fees and want people to be able to sue for $2500 plus psychological and emotional damages resulting from seeing a person who does not belong.  The police must cringe at the likelihood of being swamped by calls from hysterical girls.  Lawyers are the only winners when the states, Federal government, and people who have always got along in the past sue each other. 
Now’s Their Chance
This hullabaloo could be a reaction to “legislation from the bench”, allowing gay marriage.  Strict conservatives will never be able to accept that.
Some folks are deeply worried about the possibility of inappropriate exposure to the opposite sex.  State’s rights mean this can play out differently depending on the situation.  It matters whether bathroom policies result in discrimination at schools receiving federal funding or whether you might be called upon to “Show me your ….” to use a public bathroom.  Some state regulations would go so far as to require you to dress according to the sex shown on your birth certificate.
Absolute Truth
Pat Robertson depersonalizes transgender people, forgetting that the last will be first.  He claims a greater discrimination against the bulk of the American people will occur if there aren’t laws that roll back LGBT protections.
The TV preacher explained to this enthralled mega-congregation that if you had doubts about all the animals coming out of Noah’s ark and the sun and moon stopping at the battle of Jericho, you were persecuting his tribe.  It was an unconstrained supernatural war with liberals, and his congregation would be either in the light or dark.  There could be no in-between.  His religious freedom required you to have no doubt that God did not make those kinds of people.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, reaches further from the Bible than any justice when he chastises his opposition saying, “For them, truth is all relative.  There is no absolute truth anymore, so they can bend the rules and twist it however they want to push their agenda.”
There Is No Doubt about It
God’s laws are revealed in the simplest things.   In power electronics, a good question is, where does the energy go?  Conservation of energy is fundamental to the ac current we have in our homes and it manifests itself in motors, transformers, power supplies, and the complex math that describes ac power by separating stored energy from losses.  It is in the earth and moon’s motions and how they appear from our frame of reference.  The sun does not move around the earth.  The earth’s mass, orbital, and rotational motions contain a lot of energy.  It does not make sense that God would choose only one time to violate his own laws as a publicity stunt. 
How we know anything at all is a very old question going back to the beginnings of philosophy.  Most people think that we can intuitively know the concept of identity.  Descartes claimed, “I think, therefore I am.” It becomes increasingly unclear as we move away from such simple ideas.
The ancient Greeks gave us the logic that mathematics and rational thought are based upon.  We once thought that it was the path to understanding and absolute truth, but not anymore.  Math is a universal language, coming from geometry.  It is a way of thinking that is much more than just a set of repeated boring operations.
The gambling casino works because of the mathematics of expectation, but that is based on independent events that are equally probable, can be intuitively identified, and are countable.  There are “after the fact” tests for randomness, shown by the bell curve, but they do not have complete certainty.
When nature imperfectly aims at a target, the bell curve emerges in the long run.  It is the link between intuition and experience, between thought and observation.  Probability helps us, because it bounds the uncertain.  Statistics are an abstraction, especially when they concern polls, people, and pills.  It is the individuals that are real.
To make use of the statistical functions of the bell-curve’s random variable is to in some way know them.  They are numbers that can’t be known, but to know that they can’t be known is to know them.  It goes in circularity, round and round, regenerating and paradoxically feeding back.  Our thoughts are self-referential and incomplete, containing ambiguity that denies an absolute truth.
The distinction between truth and belief is blurred in books written by PHD philosophers who see no difference.  You can believe anything you want to.  It is only in the simplest relationships, like the conservation of energy, that truth can be separated from belief.  The deeper reality is that self-referential ambiguity is precisely what unites us in faith.  In a way, this partly justifies Mr. Perkins contention, but it cannot fix the transgender bathroom dilemma.
Global Commodes
The ancient Greeks had communal baths and toilets, often with no privacy.  Their culture viewed gender in terms of relationships instead of body parts.  Could it be that they were partly right? 
Greek baths reflected a culture answering to technology that had no sewers, plumbing, and little understanding of disease.  Two thousand years later those problems have gone away, but many reality demons remain.
In India, tens of millions of people have no bathroom.  It is not the focus of the bathroom leading to sexual assault, but its lack.
An old-fashioned bathroom in China consisted of a bare concrete floor that slopes toward a hole in the middle, with a garden hose to accomplish the flushing.  People who can’t squat were discriminated against.
In contrast, the expensive Tokyo hotel had a toilet that was so complicated that you needed to consult the user’s manual before going.
Where I grew up, some families were still using out-houses.  They were not heated.  The better ones had two holes and a seat that you sat on.  No flushing was necessary.
The overseas night club had a second floor urinal.  It splashed into the open sewer along the street below.  It works well in places where it often rains.
The only restroom at the tropical train station had a twenty foot plugged latrine that was overflowing leaving urine everywhere to ankle depth.  There was no cooling and it was 110 degrees with near 100 percent humidity.  The only ventilation was a tiny window at the far end, about the size of a sheet of paper.  The sun shone through it revealing a green fog that condensed and dripped from everything.
It’s not nice!  In Europe, they put bathtubs in hotel rooms but not commodes.  There was only one, serving all the hotel rooms, and it was located one hundred yards through the snow, outside, containing barely enough room for one person.  There was no problem with voyeurism, but you could be attacked traveling between your room and the toilet.
When I told the waitress, put lots of hot sauce on those tacos, I made a mistake that would hit me three quarters of the way between Seattle and Yuma.  Thank God, the roadside rest area had a toilet.  Imagine my dismay when I found that it was filled with feces extending two feet above the toilet seat and there were beer cans imbedded in what was like a large pile of modeling clay.
Then, there is the only rest-stop between Phoenix and Payson, closed for years, leaving just the road side bushes.
What Really Matters
We have selected leaders who would destroy what has always worked, and what we should appreciate, just to divide us.  It’s time to let them go.  Sanitation, health, and availability matter more and are less expensive than the inherent discrimination of creating special bathrooms for fuzzy classifications of misunderstood human beings.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Donald Trump Named in Latest Panama Papers Leak

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (photo: John Taggart/Getty)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (photo: John Taggart/Getty)

By teleSUR
 
At least 140 politicians from more than 50 countries are linked to offshore companies.
epublican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been linked to anonymous companies created by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, according to documents released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists known as the ICIJ, according to an NPR report.

The leaked documents show that the Trump empire is linked to 32 offshore companies, including the real estate project Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama.

His name appears 3,540 times in the database, but according to media reports that doesn’t mean he is directly involved since Trump has sold his name to other investors in different countries.

The latest release of documents includes the names of more than 320,000 people and companies around the world, including politicians, businesspeople and movie stars.

Among the people named in the papers are Argentine President Mauricio Macri, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud, and actress Emma Watson.

Offshore companies are not illegal, but are often used to evade taxes.

Mossack Fonseca has rejected the publishing of this database, which they say was stolen from their offices. They have announced legal actions against ICIJ, according to a statement.

“Beside being obtained illegally, the database is filled with errors and leads to wrong conclusions among people, companies and middlemen,” said Mossack Fonseca in a statement. “The use of stolen private information is a crime in every state that we work in.”

Friday, May 13, 2016

Trump Promises Paul Ryan That He'll Sound Slightly Less Like Hitler

Donald Trump. (photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)
Donald Trump. (photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)
By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
 

n what is being hailed as a productive closed-door meeting between two leaders of the Republican Party, Donald J. Trump promised House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday that he would try to sound slightly less like the former German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.

Speaking to reporters at the U.S. Capitol after the meeting, the presumptive G.O.P. nominee said that Ryan had expressed concern that so many of the billionaire’s public utterances were reminiscent of the Third Reich.

“Paul basically said, ‘Can you help me out here? Can you not sound like Hitler all the time?’” Trump said. “And I was like, ‘Paul, I can absolutely do that for you.’”

As an example, Trump said, “Instead of saying I am going to round up people based on their religion, I’ll say that’s just a suggestion. Just like that, I’m fifty per cent less Hitlerish.”

Trump acknowledged that the challenge for him will be to sound somewhat less like Hitler to please congressional Republicans while still sounding enough like Hitler to avoid alienating his key constituencies of Nazis and white supremacists.

“Figuring out just how much like Hitler I’m going to be at any given time is the kind of thing I’ve always been fantastic at,” he said.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Kenya Burns 106 Tons Of Ivory


“A time has come when we must take a stand and the stand is clear…Kenya is making a statement that for us ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants,” Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s current president said.

SOURCE NationofChange 

Kenya Nairobi National Park just set fire to the largest stockpile of ivory yet. Over 106 tons of ivory, taken from elephant tusks and rhino horns, was burned in order to protest illegal ivory trade. They are hoping this will send a message saying ivory no longer has commercial value.

“A time has come when we must take a stand and the stand is clear…Kenya is making a statement that for us ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants,” Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s current president said.

Despite this fight, the demand for ivory continues to put the future of elephants and rhinos in danger, as hundreds of thousands continue to die every year for their tusks. Let’s hope this move the Kenyan government has made will help spread the message that the poaching of animals to sell their tusks is not okay!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why Bernie Will, Should and Must Stay in the Race




Bernie has substantively — even profoundly — changed American politics for the better.
 
By Jim Hightower
Nation of Change

Surprisingly, this week’s prize for “Stupidest Political Comment in the Presidential Race” doesn’t go to Donnie Trump or Ted Cruz.

Rather, the honor goes to the clueless cognoscenti of conventional political wisdom. These pundits and professional campaign operatives have made a unilateral decision that Bernie Sanders must now quit the race for the Democratic nomination. Why? Because, they say: “He Can’t Win.”

Actually, he already has. Sanders’ vivid populist vision, unabashed idealism, and big ideas for restoring America to its own people have jerked the presidential debate out of the hands of status quo corporatists, revitalized the class consciousness and relevance of the Democratic Party, energized millions of young people to get involved, and proven to the Democratic establishment that they don’t have to sell out to big corporate donors to raise the money they need to run for office.

Bernie has substantively — even profoundly — changed American politics for the better, which is why he’s gaining more and more support and keeps winning delegates. From the start, he said: “This campaign is not about me” — it’s a chance for voters who have been disregarded and discarded to forge a new political revolution that will continue to grow beyond this election and create a true people’s government.

From coast to coast, millions of voters have been “Feeling the Bern.” That’s the campaign slogan that grassroots supporters created to express their passion for the unconventional presidential run being made by Bernie Sanders.

Yes, passion — an outpouring of genuine excitement that is (as we say in Texas) “hotter than high school love.” All this for a 74-year-old Democratic Socialist who is openly taking on the corporate plutocracy that’s been knocking down the middle class and holding down the poor. Sanders is the oldest candidate in the race — yet, politically, he’s the youngest candidate, exuberantly putting forth an FDR-sized vision and agenda to lift up America’s workaday majority. And, guess what? It turns out that workaday Americans really value democracy over plutocracy, so that’s where his passionate support comes from.

Need I mention that the moneyed powers — and the politicians hooked on their money — hate this affront to their cozy politics-as-usual/ business-as-usual system? Especially shocking to them is that Sanders’ supporters have found their way around the usual Wall of Big Money that the establishment always throws us to thwart populist campaigns. This time, though, a counter-force of common folks has created a widely-successful campaign fund of their own to support their Bernie Rebellion. How successful? A whopping $182-million has been raised in millions of small donations. How small? They average $27 each.

That’s a revolution, right there! Every revolution needs a slogan, so here’s one that used to be on the marquee of a vintage, locally-owned motel just down the street from where I live in Austin: “No additives, No preservatives, Corporate free since 1938.” That perfectly sums up the unique people’s campaign that Bernie-people have forged for themselves.

The keepers of the Established Order fear this grassroots uprising by no-name “outsiders,” and they know that this year’s Democratic nomination is still very much up for grabs, so they’re stupidly trying to shove Sanders out before other states can vote. But Bernie and the mass movement he’s fostering aren’t about to quit — they’ll organize in every primary still to come, be a major force at the Democratic convention, and keep pushing their ideals and policies in the general election… and beyond.

As Sanders puts it: “I run not to oppose any man or woman, but to propose new and far-reaching policies to deal with the crisis of our times… It may be too late to stop the billionaire class from trying to buy the presidency and congress… But we owe it to our children and grandchildren to try…We need to face up to the reality of where we are as a nation, and we need a mass movement of people to fight for change.”

That’s what real politics should be — not merely a vacuous campaign to elect a personality, but a momentous democratic movement fighting for the common good.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Utter Truthlessness of Donald Trump

The cover of 'TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald' by Timothy O'Brien. (photo: Warner Books)
The cover of 'TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald' by Timothy O'Brien. (photo: Warner Books)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
10 May 16
 
And more lessons from this week's Sunday showz.
eing our semi-regular weekly survey of the state of Our National Dialogue which, as you know, is what The Clash would have come up with had they recorded, "Derp Or Glory." 

We don't ordinarily touch on the Sunday Showz from the cable networks, but we have to say that Exasperated Jake Tapper on CNN has become one of our favorite new television programs. On Sunday, for reasons wholly related to Donald Trump, he hosted Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods. And the word salad bar was wide open!
"I want to help and not hurt, and I am such a realist that I realize there are a whole lot of people out there who say, 'Anybody but Palin.' I wouldn't want to be a burden on the ticket and I recognize that in many, many eyes, I would be that burden. So, you know, I just want the guy to win. I want America to win."
She'll settle for Secretary of State, I guess. And, sadly, the other half of the 2008 Republican ticket seems to have come loose from his moorings. Also on CNN, John McCain has surrendered to surreality because that's all he has left.
"You have to draw the conclusion that there is some distance, if not a disconnect, between party leaders and members of Congress and the many voters who have selected Donald Trump to be the nominee of the party," McCain said when asked about the comments by House Speaker Paul Ryan and his close friend Sen. Lindsey Graham, both of whom have so far refused to back Trump. "You have to listen to people that have chosen the nominee of our Republican Party," McCain said. "I think it would be foolish to ignore them."
So he says about a vulgar talking yam who began his campaign by ridiculing the torments of the damned that McCain endured in North Vietnam. (This is right up there with his sucking up eight years later to the forces who slandered his daughter in 2000. Why does it always seem that the way to gain John McCain's favor is to treat him as badly as possible?) He then went on to defend his choice of running mate and to propose one for He, Trump.
"I don't often make a comment like this. But she was treated terribly by what we know as the mainstream media and that's the only thing I will ever resent about my presidential campaign is her treatment by the media. It was disgraceful."
And McCain's suggested running mate this time around? None other than my new friend, Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, who is Sarah Palin, if you substitute pig testicles for moose jerky. From The Washington Examiner:
Asked about Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, whose name has been floated as someone the Trump campaign may be vetting, the Arizona senator heaped praise on her. "Joni Ernst would be tremendous. She is really remarkable," said McCain. "I think there's a number of members in the Senate."
Genius! I can't wait to see what the folks in the writer's room of Exasperated Jake Tapper have for a season finale.

On the networks, however, this week's House Cup goes to my man Chuck Todd, who always has been the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. Todd had He, Trump over for a chat and, after a few minutes of stunning incoherence on the subject of election law, we were treated to this amazing moment of television.
TODD: Wait a minute. Let me stop you there. You just said, "Businesses might pay a little bit more." You just said, "Business might pay a little bit more, but we're going to get 'em a massive tax cut." You just said it within ten words.
TRUMP: No, no. I didn't say it. Excuse me. I said they might have to pay a little bit more than my proposal, Chuck. I said they might have—
TODD: Oh, your proposal. Okay. I just wanted to get that clear.
TRUMP: —yeah, than my proposal.
TODD: Fair enough.
TRUMP: I'm not talking about more than they're paying now.
TODD: Got you.
TRUMP: We're the highest taxed nation in the world. Our businesses pay more taxes than any businesses in the world. That's why companies are leaving. So they may have to pay a little bit more than my proposal, is what I mean. I assume you knew that. I assume you know that.
TODD: Got you. Okay. No, no, no, no. I just wanted to clear that up.
TRUMP: Okay, good. Good, I'm glad you cleared it up—
Forget that little pat on the head there at the end. My man Chuck Todd had He, Trump pinned. The way you know that is that He, Trump had to resort to a barefaced non-fact about how we are "the highest-taxed nation in the world." (This is not within an area code of the truth. Criminy, even PolitiFact noticed.) And what do we get for pushback? "Fair enough" and two "gotchas."

This is going to be a real crisis for elite political journalism from now until November, perhaps the deepest crisis elite political journalism has faced since the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, and that one didn't turn out well at all. The Republican Party is about to nominate an utterly truthless fellow who doesn't know how much he doesn't know and is prepared to lie his way past everything he doesn't know anyway. I'm afraid that elite political journalism is so wedded to "balance" that it is in no way prepared to cope with a post-reality candidate. (Professor Krugman shares this concern.) "Fair enough" and "gotcha" are not appropriate answers to the assertion by a candidate that he plans to heal the national economy by setting up a roulette wheel and two blackjack tables in the Department of the Treasury.

If hope is not a plan, then bluster and bombast are even less of one. Elite political journalism has a greater responsibility to the Republic than "balance" or "objectivity." This is going to be a long six months.