July 1, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 12:50 PM

MAYBE NOMINATE BETTER PEOPLE?

Head of Virginia GOP steps down amid Corey Stewart's Senate campaign (Jenna Portnoy and Laura Vozzella, June 30, 2018, Washington Post)

Whitbeck has presided over a particularly dismal stretch for Virginia Republicans, who lost all three statewide offices last year and saw their overwhelming majority in the House of Delegates dwindle to the narrowest possible margin.

Virginia is also the only Southern state Donald Trump lost in 2016 presidential election, and the last statewide election Republicans won there was in 2009, when Robert F. McDonnell was elected governor. [...]

Stewart, who narrowly lost the GOP nomination for governor in June after attacking illegal immigration and calling for protection of what he called "Confederate heritage," has promised a "ruthless" and "vicious" campaign against Kaine.

Posted by orrinj at 8:27 AM

"NOT IN SPITE OF BUT BECAUSE OF":

Remarks on Signing the Bill Providing Restitution for the Wartime Internment of Japanese-American Civilians  (President Ronald Reagan, August 10, 1988, Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building, Washington, DC)

The Members of Congress and distinguished guests, my fellow Americans, we gather here today to right a grave wrong. More than 40 years ago, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry living in the United States were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in makeshift internment camps. This action was taken without trial, without jury. It was based solely on race, for these 120,000 were Americans of Japanese descent.

Yes, the Nation was then at war, struggling for its survival, and it's not for us today to pass judgment upon those who may have made mistakes while engaged in that great struggle. Yet we must recognize that the internment of Japanese-Americans was just that: a mistake. For throughout the war, Japanese-Americans in the tens of thousands remained utterly loyal to the United States. Indeed, scores of Japanese-Americans volunteered for our Armed Forces, many stepping forward in the internment camps themselves. The 442d Regimental Combat Team, made up entirely of Japanese-Americans, served with immense distinction to defend this nation, their nation. Yet back at home, the soldiers' families were being denied the very freedom for which so many of the soldiers themselves were laying down their lives.

Congressman Norman Mineta, with us today, was 10 years old when his family was interned. In the Congressman's words: "My own family was sent first to Santa Anita Racetrack. We showered in the horse paddocks. Some families lived in converted stables, others in hastily thrown together barracks. We were then moved to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, where our entire family lived in one small room of a rude tar paper barrack." Like so many tens of thousands of others, the members of the Mineta family lived in those conditions not for a matter of weeks or months but for 3 long years.

The legislation that I am about to sign provides for a restitution payment to each of the 60,000 surviving Japanese-Americans of the 120,000 who were relocated or detained. Yet no payment can make up for those lost years. So, what is most important in this bill has less to do with property than with honor. For here we admit a wrong; here we reaffirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.

I'd like to note that the bill I'm about to sign also provides funds for members of the Aleut community who were evacuated from the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands after a Japanese attack in 1942. This action was taken for the Aleuts' own protection, but property was lost or damaged that has never been replaced.

And now in closing, I wonder whether you'd permit me one personal reminiscence, one prompted by an old newspaper report sent to me by Rose Ochi, a former internee. The clipping comes from the Pacific Citizen and is dated December 1945.

"Arriving by plane from Washington," the article begins, "General Joseph W. Stilwell pinned the Distinguished Service Cross on Mary Masuda in a simple ceremony on the porch of her small frame shack near Talbert, Orange County. She was one of the first Americans of Japanese ancestry to return from relocation centers to California's farmlands." "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell was there that day to honor Kazuo Masuda, Mary's brother. You see, while Mary and her parents were in an internment camp, Kazuo served as staff sergeant to the 442d Regimental Combat Team. In one action, Kazuo ordered his men back and advanced through heavy fire, hauling a mortar. For 12 hours, he engaged in a single-handed barrage of Nazi positions. Several weeks later at Cassino, Kazuo staged another lone advance. This time it cost him his life.

The newspaper clipping notes that her two surviving brothers were with Mary and her parents on the little porch that morning. These two brothers, like the heroic Kazuo, had served in the United States Army. After General Stilwell made the award, the motion picture actress Louise Allbritton, a Texas girl, told how a Texas battalion had been saved by the 442d. Other show business personalities paid tribute-Robert Young, Will Rogers, Jr. And one young actor said: "Blood that has soaked into the sands of a beach is all of one color. America stands unique in the world: the only country not founded on race but on a way, an ideal. Not in spite of but because of our polyglot background, we have had all the strength in the world. That is the American way." The name of that young actor--I hope I pronounce this right--was Ronald Reagan. And, yes, the ideal of liberty and justice for all--that is still the American way.

Thank you, and God bless you. And now let me sign H.R. 442, so fittingly named in honor of the 442d.

Thank you all again, and God bless you all. I think this is a fine day.



Posted by orrinj at 8:22 AM

AMNESTY IS NOT ENOUGH:

What It Costs to Be Smuggled Across the U.S. Border: Bribes and shakedowns. Days in hideaways without food. For many fleeing violence in Central America, this is what thousands of dollars gets them on the journey to the United States. (NICHOLAS KULISH, JUNE 30, 2018, NY Times)

MATAMOROS, Mexico -- Shortly before dawn one Sunday last August, a driver in an S.U.V. picked up Christopher Cruz at a stash house in this border city near the Gulf of Mexico. The 22-year-old from El Salvador was glad to leave the one-story building, where smugglers kept bundles of cocaine and marijuana alongside their human cargo, but he was anxious about what lay ahead.

The driver deposited Mr. Cruz at an illegal crossing point on the edge of the Rio Grande. A smuggler took a smartphone photograph to confirm his identity and sent it using WhatsApp to a driver waiting to pick him up on the other side of the frontier when -- if -- he made it across.

The nearly 2,000-mile trip had already cost Mr. Cruz's family more than $6,000 and brought him within sight of Brownsville, Tex. The remaining 500 miles to Houston -- terrain prowled by the United States Border Patrol as well as the state and local police -- would set them back another $6,500.

It was an almost inconceivable amount of money for someone who earned just a few dollars a day picking coffee beans back home. But he wasn't weighing the benefits of a higher-paying job. He was fleeing violence and what he said was near-certain death at the hands of local gangs.

"There's no other option," Mr. Cruz said. "The first thought I had was, 'I just need to get out of here at whatever cost.'" [...]

Mr. Cruz's story provides an unusually detailed anatomy of the price of the journey. The money paid for a network of drivers who concealed him in tractor-trailers and minibuses, a series of houses where he hid out, handlers tied to criminal organizations who arranged his passage, and bribes for Mexican police officers to look the other way as he passed.

Even with his family's payment, he slept amid filth and vermin. He watched guides abandon some migrants who could not keep up, and guards prod others to become drug mules. Sometimes the smugglers identified him by a numeric code, other times by an assumed name. But as often as not, they simply called him "the package," to be moved for profit like an illicit good.

For Mr. Cruz, it was worth it. "They can build as many walls as they want," he said, referring to American officials. "They can send as many soldiers to the border as they want, but a people's need and desire for a better life is stronger."

Posted by orrinj at 8:05 AM

hISTORY eNDED IN 1776:

On the Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of the Moderns (Benjamin Constant, 1819)

First ask yourselves, gentlemen, what an Englishman, a Frenchman, and a citizen of the United States of America understand today by the word "liberty."

For each of them it is the right to be subjected only to the laws, and to be neither arrested, detained, put to death, or maltreated in any way by the arbitrary will of one or more individuals. It is the right of everyone to express his opinion, choose a profession and practice it, to dispose of property, and even to abuse it; to come and go without permission, and without having to account for his motives or undertakings. It is everyone's right to associate with other individuals, either to discuss their interests, or to profess the religion that he and his associates prefer, or even simply to occupy their days or hours in a way that is most compatible with his inclinations or whims. Finally it is everyone's right to exercise some influence on the administration of the government, either by electing all or particular officials, or through representations, petitions, demands to which the authorities are more or less compelled to pay heed. Now compare this liberty with that of the ancients.

The latter consisted in exercising collectively, but directly, several parts of the complete sovereignty; in deliberating, in the public square, over war and peace; in forming alliances with foreign governments; in voting laws, in pronouncing judgments; in examining the accounts, the acts, the stewardship of the magistrates; in calling them to appear in front of the assembled people, in accusing, condemning or absolving them. But if this was what the ancients called liberty, they admitted as compatible with this collective freedom the complete subjection of the individual to the authority of the community. You find among them almost none of the enjoyments we have just seen form part of the liberty of the moderns. All private actions were submitted to a severe surveillance. No importance was given to individual independence, neither in relation to opinions, nor to labor, nor, above all, to religion. The right to choose one's own religious affiliation, a right that we regard as one of the most precious, would have seemed to the ancients a crime and a sacrilege.

In the domains that seem to us the most useful, the authority of the social body interposed itself and obstructed the will of individuals. Among the Spartans, Therpandrus could not add a string to his lyre without causing offense to the ephors. In the most domestic of relations the public authority again intervened. The young Lacedaemonian could not visit his new bride freely. In Rome, the censors cast a searching eye over family life. The laws regulated customs, and as customs touch on everything, there was hardly anything that the laws did not regulate.

Thus among the ancients the individual, almost always sovereign in public affairs, was a slave in all his private relations. As a citizen, he decided on peace and war; as a private individual, he was constrained, watched and repressed in all his movements; as a member of the collective body, he interrogated, dismissed, condemned, beggared, exiled, or sentenced to death his magistrates and superiors; as a subject of the collective body he could himself be deprived of his status, stripped of his privileges, banished, put to death, by the discretionary will of the whole to which he belonged.

Among the moderns, on the contrary, the individual, independent in his private life, is, even in the freest of states, sovereign only in appearance. His sovereignty is restricted and almost always suspended. If, at fixed and rare intervals, in which he is again surrounded by precautions and obstacles, he exercises this sovereignty, it is always only to renounce it.

I must at this point, gentlemen, pause for a moment to anticipate an objection that may be addressed to me. There was in antiquity a republic where the enslavement of individual existence to the collective body was not as complete as I have described it. This republic was the most famous of all: you will guess that I am speaking of Athens. I shall return to it later, and in subscribing to the truth of this fact, I shall also indicate its cause. We shall see why, of all the ancient states, Athens was the one that most resembles the modern ones. Everywhere else social jurisdiction was unlimited. The ancients, as Condorcet says, had no notion of individual rights. Men were, so to speak, merely machines, whose gears and cog-wheels were regulated by the law. The same subjection characterized the golden centuries of the Roman Republic; the individual was in some way lost in the nation, the citizen in the city. We shall now trace this essential difference between the ancients and ourselves back to its source.

All ancient republics were restricted to a narrow territory. The most populous, the most powerful, the most substantial among them, was not equal in extension to the smallest of modern states. As an inevitable consequence of their narrow territory, the spirit of these republics was bellicose; each people incessantly attacked their neighbors or was attacked by them. Thus driven by necessity against one another, they fought or threatened each other constantly. Those who had no ambition to be conquerors, could still not lay down their weapons, lest they should themselves be conquered. All had to buy their security, their independence, their whole existence at the price of war. This was the constant interest, the almost habitual occupation of the free states of antiquity. Finally, by an equally necessary result of this way of being, all these states had slaves. The mechanical professions and even, among some nations, the industrial ones, were committed to people in chains.

The modern world offers us a completely opposing view. The smallest states of our day are incomparably larger than Sparta or than Rome was over five centuries. Even the division of Europe into several states is, thanks to the progress of enlightenment, more apparent than real. While each people, in the past, formed an isolated family, the born enemy of other families, a mass of human beings now exists, that under different names and under different forms of social organization are essentially homogeneous in their nature. This mass is strong enough to have nothing to fear from barbarian hordes. It is sufficiently civilized to find war a burden. Its uniform tendency is towards peace.



Posted by orrinj at 7:50 AM

OUR ROBOT OVERLORDS CAN'T REPLACE US SOON ENOUGH:

Making Distracted Driving Worse (Fredrick Kunkle, 7/01/18, The Washington Post)

Madeleine McCarty, a lab manager in the psychology department at the University of Utah, put me behind the wheel of a Dodge Ram pickup. The track was pretty simple, with just a couple of turns and stop signs.

Then she attached a little button to my finger that clicked on and off when pressed against the steering wheel. She also fitted me with a buzzer that vibrated against my collarbone. Next, we adjusted a small, shaded lightbulb so that when the light bulb was illuminated, its reflection appeared on the inside of the windshield in my field of vision.

These two stimuli -- the buzzer and the reflected light bulb -- were supposed to mimic the sorts of unexpected things drivers need to look out for. Whenever the buzzer vibrated or the light bulb changed color from orange to red, I was supposed to click the button on my finger. My reaction times would be collected by a computer.

Then McCarty started heaping on the cognitive load: To set a baseline for the experiment, she asked me to listen to a sequence of numbers and repeat them (with a slight delay) while we continued to drive around the track, all the while responding to the buzzer and the blinking light.

Then we got down to the nitty-gritty. McCarty rode shotgun as I drove the course testing three different hands-free navigation systems: Dodge's built-in system, followed by Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto.

All I had to was ask Dodge, Siri or Google to direct me to the nearest coffee shop, the nearest library or the nearest Italian restaurant while driving at least 10 mph on the track and keeping up with the light bulb and buzzer. On another run, I had to drive, watch for the light, respond to the dang buzzer and perform a separate task on a touch screen mounted to the dashboard. In each case, it soon became clear why we had to sign legal waivers to do the test.

It drove me batty. It felt like complete overload. [...]

It's also potentially deadly, of course. An estimated 3,500 people die because of distracted driving every year.

Strayer said he believes a sharp increase in traffic fatalities in recent years, particularly for pedestrians and bicyclists, is a direct consequence of the ubiquity of smartphones and other distractions drivers now face in the Information Age.

"There's too much stuff. It's too complicated to use. It's supporting tasks that really shouldn't be done while you're driving, and it leads to high levels of distraction," Strayer said. "If you start to overload a driver, they're just not going to see what's down the road."

The value of the lives we're going to save is incalculable.

Posted by orrinj at 7:46 AM

EAT YOUR HEART OUT, PAT VENDITTE: