August 5, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 8:15 PM

JUST ANOTHER PROUD BOY (profanity/depravity alert):

The Dayton Shooter Was The Lead Singer Of A "Pornogrind" Metal Band (Ellie Hall, 8/05/19, BuzzFeed News)

The man who killed nine and injured 27 in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, was the lead singer of a "pornogrind" metal band, a genre defined by its explicit subject matter and themes of gore and violence, specifically sexual violence and necrophilia, BuzzFeed News has learned. [...]

A former classmate from Bellbrook High School told BuzzFeed News that in 2011 or 2012, Betts made a "hit list" that included mostly girls at the school. When teachers found the list, the school went into lockdown and Betts was later suspended, the classmate said. He tended to play threats off as a joke, the classmate added, and no one seemed to take them very seriously.

The list, one classmate told the Washington Post, included "girls and all of these really pretty vile things that he was going to do to them." She added, "All the girls were really freaked out. He got kicked out of school for it."

And woman who attended high school with Betts told the Daily Beast she got text messages from him, saying she was on his "rape list."

Posted by orrinj at 7:40 PM


Posted by orrinj at 6:19 PM


The Incredible Shrinking GOP: Trump is turning the Republican Party even whiter and more male than before, with profound consequences for party and country alike. (MATT FORD, August 5, 2019, New Republic)

Hurd's departure leaves a largely monochromatic party even less racially diverse than it already was. He and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott are the only black Republican members of Congress. A Washington Post analysis last week noted that there were only 14 nonwhite Republicans among the party's 273 members who serve as federal lawmakers or state governors. Among 302 Democrats who serve in those positions, by comparison, one-third are nonwhite. Those figures, the Post noted, largely reflect the racial composition of the Republican Party itself.

Two of the House's 13 Republican women--Roby and Indiana's Susan Brooks--have also already said that they would not run again in 2020. Brooks's decision to retire was particularly ominous: She had been tapped to serve as the House Republicans' recruitment chair. While neither party is close to gender parity in Congress, their decision will likely amplify a deep gender imbalance among Republican lawmakers. Just over a third of House Democrats are women, compared to 6 percent of House Republicans. Last fall, the Senate Judiciary Committee's Republican members hired an outside woman lawyer to question Christine Blasey Ford, apparently cognizant of the bad optics of eleven Republican men interrogating her. Politico's Playbook newsletter noted on Friday that the House Republican caucus includes more members named Jim than women running for reelection.

Congressional retirements only tell part of the story. Since Trump took office two years ago, a small but notable number of state and local GOP elected officials have also switched parties. Four Kansas women lawmakers made the jump last December, pointing both to state-level dynamics as well as the president. California Assemblyman Brian Maienschein cited Trump and the party's overall right-wing drift as factors when he joined the Democrats in January. So did Andy McKean, the longest-serving Republican in the Iowa legislature, when he defected in April. "Some would excuse this behavior as 'telling it like it is' and the new normal," McKean told reporters when he announced his decision. "If this is the new normal, I want no part of it."

Some departures partially reflect the shift in suburban districts away from Trump's GOP. Others symbolize what the party is losing along the way. In 2017, Hawaii Republicans ousted their House minority leader, Beth Fukumoto, after she criticized Trump's sexism and racism at a local Women's March; Fukumoto left the party shortly thereafter. Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the chief justice of California, told reporters she switched her registration from Republican to no party after watching the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. And former Texas judge Elsa Alcala cited Trump's attacks on four women lawmakers of color when she left the GOP last month.

"At his core, his ideology is racism," she wrote. "To me, nothing positive about him could absolve him of his rotten core."

Meanwhile, Democrats are left to struggle with the fact that co-opting entire demographic groups, based just on Republican hatred of them, means that you get the conservatives and moderates too.  It means, no matter how hip and happening the Progressives are among your elites, the moderates have the advantage for the nomination.

Posted by orrinj at 6:03 PM


Posted by orrinj at 5:46 PM

60-40 NATION:

Walmart faces pressure to stop gun sales after latest U.S. mass shootings (Nandita Bose, Melissa Fares, 8/04/19, Reuters)

Years of public pressure led Walmart, the largest U.S arms retailer, to end assault rifle sales in 2015 and in 2018 to raise the minimum age for gun purchases to 21. Some gun control activists and Walmart customers now want the retailer to drop sales of guns and ammunition altogether.

The weekend shooting in Texas unfolded at a popular Walmart store in the border city of El Paso, killing 22 people. In the other weekend mass shooting, in Dayton, Ohio, a gunman killed nine people.

Many people took to social media to post about the deadly shooting using the hashtags #walmartshooting," "#boycottwalmart," and "#guncontrolnow."

Guns Down America, an advocacy group that runs campaigns for gun control, began a petition to urge more change at Walmart late on Monday.

The petition calls on Walmart to stop selling firearms, pledge it will no longer make contributions to lawmakers who take money from gun rights lobby the National Rifle Association, and fund gun buybacks. It also pushes Walmart to use its political influence to advocate for legislative changes to raise the standards for gun ownership in America.

Posted by orrinj at 1:12 PM


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Housing prices are the easiest thing to prop up because you can just admit immigrants to replace your population decline.
Posted by orrinj at 12:30 PM


All the Disturbing Parallels Between Radical Islam and White Nationalism (JONATHAN V. LAST  AUGUST 5, 2019 , The Bulwark)

White nationalism is a thing in America, again. This is not new, exactly. We had the KKK and very real, very dangerous white nationalists in operation--with all of the attendant layers of support in the culture--60 or 70 years ago.

It has now re-emerged. And while this growth is still in its early stages, the reemergence is real. Anyone who will not concede that point is either foolish or operating in very bad faith.

You can see all of the analogs to the Islamic terror food chain, in miniature. White nationalists have their terrorist actors, such as Patrick Crusius. They have their ideological theorists, such as Richard Spencer, who provide the intellectual framework for terrorism without getting their hands dirty. Russia is not exactly a state sponsor, but more like a state-sympathizer.

If you look around what has become mainstream American conservatism over the last four years, you see some people who look like Anjem Choudary, insisting that there is no such thing as white nationalism. (See Dennis Prager twist himself into a logic pretzel here, for example.) And then a larger number of people who mouth de minimis condemnations of the actual terror acts and then turn around and continue to stoke the fires of racial grievance with abject nonsense. Like Amy Wax.

And while it should go without saying, it does not help to have, as the president of the United States, a man who claims that Mexican immigrants are murderers and rapists.

White Nationalist Does Massacre. Now the Gaslighting Begins. (ADELE M. STAN AUGUST 5, 2019, The American Prospect)

The attack was actually a deep-state "false flag" operation, tweeted conspiracy theorist Mark Taylor, the self-described "firefighter prophet." Brendan Dilley, who hosts a MAGA-themed YouTube program, took to Twitter to ascribe the El Paso massacre to antifa, the often pugilistic anti-fascist movement. Two days later, the president of the United States, he of the alpha Twitter feed, blamed the media for both the attack in El Paso, Texas, and a subsequent massacre at a bar in Dayton, Ohio. For the small-time gaslighters like Dilley and Taylor, it was an epic assist from the Big Guy.

Taylor and Dilley are but two of the right-wing social media personalities who traffic in outlandish theories involving the so-called "deep state" or advancing the cryptic comments of an anonymous commenter who goes by the moniker "Q" in what has become known as the QAnon movement, which works on a premise that is an outgrowth of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. That phantasmagorical theory nearly got a family restaurant shot up in December 2016 when a man with a gun drove from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., with the aim of liberating children who were said to be held in the restaurant for the alleged pleasure of top figures in the Democratic Party. Thankfully, the round he shot lodged in the restaurant's door, and the gunman was apprehended by police.

Last week, Yahoo News reported that an internal document from the Federal Bureau of Investigation designated the spread of such conspiracy theories as a violent threat to the population at large. From the leaked document: "The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts."

As Juliet Kayyem, a former official in the Department of Homeland Security, notes in the Washington Post, acts of violence committed in the name of white nationalism or white supremacy are often cast as the work of a "lone wolf." But in reality, she says, "there are no lone wolves." While Kayyem primarily focuses her attention on message boards 4chan and 8chan (the latter has been disabled since it was used to disseminate the El Paso killer's racist screed), there's a whole cottage industry of right-wing talkers, preachers and pontificators whose utterances seem designed to prompt the unhinged to unleash mayhem upon unsuspecting people.

Wiktionary defines the term "stochastic terrorism" this way: "The use of mass public communication, usually against a particular individual or group, which incites or inspires acts of terrorism which are statistically probable but happen seemingly at random."

Kayyem describes the 8chan and 4chan internet spaces, where anonymous commenters often post misogynistic, racist and other hateful messages, as places where stochastic terrorism is stoked. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:16 PM


The Only Thing Trump Should Say Right Now Is "I'm Sorry" (TIM MILLER  AUGUST 5, 2019, The Bulwark)

I'm sorry for my role in stoking racial divisions in this country. 

I'm sorry for re-entering the political arena on a fraudulent racist platform where I knowingly lied about my belief that the first black president was actually born in Africa. 

I'm sorry for launching my presidential campaign on the backs of Mexican immigrants, claiming that many are rapists and murderers. 

I'm sorry that I made the head of an anti-immigrant hate site my campaign's chief strategist. 

I'm sorry for leading rage-filled rallies that stir up animus against my political foes and people of color. 

I'm sorry to Khizr and Ghazala Khan. I'm sorry to Judge Gonzalo Curiel. 

I'm sorry to all the minority students who have been told on the playground that the president will deport them. 

I'm sorry to the American green-card holders who we detained in airports just because of their country of origin. 

I'm sorry I spent a week winking and nodding at white nationalists after they killed an innocent woman in Charlottesville. 

I'm sorry that I said that we should have fewer immigrants from "shithole countries" and more from Norway. 

I'm sorry to everyone who received a bomb from Cesar Sayoc, a person who said my rallies were a "new found drug." 

I'm sorry for telling four minority women duly elected to serve in Congress that they should go back to where they came from.

I'm sorry that we caged citizen Francisco Galicia in a disgusting human kennel without due process just because of the color of his skin. 

I'm sorry to the asylees and refugees who I have treated as subhuman because they came from Muslim countries, or countries in Central America. I'm sorry to all the aspiring refugees who have not been welcomed to the land of the free because the bigots I put in positions of power have ensured we accepted the fewest number of refugees in decades.  

I'm sorry to Shaima Swileh who spent a year away from her dying American toddler because she had a Yemeni passport. I'm sorry to all the Americans whose family members couldn't come to see them because we put a ban on travel from Muslim countries. 

I'm sorry about the lies I told about Middle Easterners and people with Ebola coming into our country through a southern border caravan. And sharing a dubious story about a "prayer rug" found miles from the border. 

I'm sorry that I lied about the number of white people murdered by blacks. 

I'm sorry that I can't help myself but make barely coded racist attacks against "the blacks" generally and black athletes, congress members, and urban communities in specific. 

I'm sorry that I made a joke in Pensacola about people in the panhandle murdering immigrants. 

...all you have left are a couple Merrick Garland clones.

Posted by orrinj at 12:08 PM


America Should Talk to the Houthis (Robert Malley, Aug. 5, 2019, NY Times)

The residents of Sana seem stunned and angry at what they view as the wildly disproportionate international attention garnered by every single Houthi missile or drone attack on Saudi Arabia, compared to the regular, destructive Saudi-led coalition bombings Yemenis have endured since March 2015.

It is hard to know how freely locals can speak. Many perhaps privately fault the Houthis for recklessly taking on their northern neighbor. If so, the sentiment is well hidden. Even the leaders of a party traditionally close to the Saudis and at odds with the Houthis expressed heartfelt fury at Saudi Arabia.

A quip doing the rounds in Sana: If the Saudis just handed me the price of a missile, I would destroy my house for them. Sana residents are exasperated at the bombing of a cemetery: even our dead are unsafe, they tell you.

Houthi supporters are also puzzled as to why their attacks on Saudi Arabia are attributed to Iranian dictates, as if their being at war with the kingdom wasn't explanation enough. The world's focus on their cross-border operations has only further convinced them that this is what it will take to attract global interest and get the Saudis to change course. Saudi Arabia has too much to lose to risk it; Yemenis have too little to lose to care.

A visitor in Sana also notices a surprising sense of internal stability. The Houthis are building something akin to a police state -- the lack of checkpoints or other markers of security in the capital announcing their effective stranglehold.

Most people in Sana, rightly, consider the United States to be complicit in the war, an enabler of the Saudi-led coalition that wages it. Americans, understandably, would recoil at the Houthis embracing "Death to America" and "Curse the Jews" as their slogans, scrawled as graffiti on the city's walls. But Sana's residents warmly welcome the rare American visitor.

The Houthi leadership knows all this -- the popular hostility toward the Saudi-led coalition; the remarkable control the movement has achieved -- and finds other justifications for self-confidence. Time, they feel, is on their side. Despite formidable military disparities, they have stood up to a coalition of wealthy, powerful states backed and armed by the West.

As in all the direct Shi'a v. Wahhabi conflicts, America is on the wrong side of this one.

Posted by orrinj at 11:59 AM


El Paso Shooting Suspect's Manifesto Echoes Trump's Language (Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, Aug. 4, 2019, NY Times)

At campaign rallies before last year's midterm elections, President Trump repeatedly warned that America was under attack by immigrants heading for the border. "You look at what is marching up, that is an invasion!" he declared at one rally. "That is an invasion!"

Nine months later, a 21-year-old white man is accused of opening fire in a Walmart in El Paso, killing 20 people and injuring dozens more after writing a manifesto railing against immigration and announcing that "this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas."

The suspect wrote that his views "predate Trump," as if anticipating the political debate that would follow the blood bath. But if Mr. Trump did not originally inspire the gunman, he has brought into the mainstream polarizing ideas and people once consigned to the fringes of American society.

While other leaders have expressed concern about border security and the costs of illegal immigration, Mr. Trump has filled his public speeches and Twitter feed with sometimes false, fear-stoking language even as he welcomed to the White House a corps of hard-liners, demonizers and conspiracy theorists shunned by past presidents of both parties. Because of this, Mr. Trump is ill equipped to provide the kind of unifying, healing force that other presidents projected in times of national tragedy. [...]

"The people who carry out these attacks are already violent and hateful people," said Nathan P. Kalmoe, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University who has studied hate speech. "But top political leaders and partisan media figures encourage extremism when they endorse white supremacist ideas and play with violent language. Having the most powerful person on Earth echo their hateful views may even give extremists a sense of impunity."

This has come up repeatedly during Mr. Trump's presidency, whether it be the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Va., or the bomber who sent explosives to Mr. Trump's political adversaries and prominent news media figures or the gunman who stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue after ranting online about "invaders" to the United States.

David Livingstone Smith, a philosophy professor at the University of New England and the author of a book on dehumanization of whole categories of people, said Mr. Trump had emboldened Americans whose views were seen as unacceptable in everyday society not long ago.

"This has always been part of American life," he said. "But Trump has given people permission to say what they think. And that's crack cocaine. That's powerful. When someone allows you to be authentic, that's a very, very potent thing. People have come out of the shadows."

...the point of society/culture is to stop Fallen Man from authentic behavior.

Posted by orrinj at 12:04 AM


Trump's combination gun-immigration reform 'reminds me of the 1930s in Germany,' Rep. Jerrold Nadler says (The Week, 8/04/19)

"What's the connection between background checks and immigration reform?" he asked on Morning Joe. "That we have to keep guns out of the hands out of the invading hordes of less-than human people coming across our border? That's the implication." 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


George P. Bush: 'White Terrorism' Is 'Real And Present Threat' (PETER HASSON, August 04, 2019, Daily Caller)

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said "white terrorism" is a "real and present threat" following the mass shooting in El Paso Saturday that left 20 people dead and dozens of others wounded.

Bush cited his service as a naval officer in Afghanistan in calling for greater vigilance against violent white supremacists.

"I believe fighting terrorism remains a national priority. And that should include standing firm against white terrorism here in the US," Bush said in a statement released Saturday evening. "There have now been multiple attacks from self-declared white terrorists here in the US in the last several months. This is a real and present threat that we must all denounce and defeat."

The Next George Bush Bet Everything on Trump (ELAINA PLOTT, MAY 2019, The Atlantic)

Before the last presidential election, few people were giving much thought to George P. Bush's existence. That changed in August 2016. At the time, the Bush family was resolutely #NeverTrump. But at a Texas GOP gathering, Bush broke ranks. He told activists that, although it was a "bitter pill to swallow," the time had come to get behind Donald Trump in order to "stop Hillary Clinton."

As the Texas GOP's victory chair--the person leading the state party's election efforts--he said he didn't have much of a choice. "I couldn't look grassroots activists in the face and say, 'Well, Trump is good enough for you, but not for me,'‚ÄČ" he told me at CrossFit. He said his father understood. "To be honest with you, I think he took it a little easier than the rest of my family ... My uncle, though--that did require a sit-down." He delivered the news in the library of the 43rd president's home in Dallas, whereupon his uncle expressed concern that the endorsement could be "a short-term gain for a long-term cost." As for George W. Bush's relationship with Trump today: He "is not going to be the one to engage in a war of words on Twitter." If he were asked for advice, Bush continued, the former president would sit down with the current one and provide it. But that advice hasn't been requested, so what Bush describes as a "contentious relationship" continues.

Bush's endorsement may have made for awkward conversations with his family, but it served him well with other Texas Republicans. He constantly fields questions from voters about just how aligned his politics are with his family's. The biggest misconception, he said, is "that I'm in lockstep with them on everything." He cited public funding of Planned Parenthood as one point of disagreement. He said other members of his family were "pretty much in support of that," but he's been against abortion rights his whole political career. It's an issue that Bush, who is Catholic, says is "core to my values."

For Bush, endorsing Trump, however tepidly, was a chance to add another bullet point to his I'm-my-own-man list. Yes, he had the same concerns about the real-estate mogul as many other traditional Republicans did, the biggest one being whether he could defend Trump's character to his children. Bush told me it's a reservation "that I still have, honestly." But he managed to express his concerns about Trump without the holier-than-thou tenor that helped tank the careers of so many other Republicans, including his father.

In the lead-up to Bush's 2018 reelection campaign for land commissioner, this was smart politics: Texas favored Trump over Clinton by a 9 percent margin. His endorsement also opened the door to a friendship with Trump's eldest son, Don Jr., who agreed to headline a fundraiser for Bush in New York last summer, only to pull out at the last minute, after Jeb Bush condemned Trump's family-separation policy as "heartless" on Twitter. "Don called me and said, 'Look, I'm in an awkward position. I can't do this.' And I said I understood," Bush told me. (He says his father responded "So what?" to the fallout.) Thereafter, he tried to reassure voters that he still had his "own message," distinct from his family's. "I also have my own friendships," he added.

Some in Texas--including those Democrats who understood Bush's political need to endorse Trump--wondered whether, in his general silence on presidential positions important to Texas, such as immigration, Bush was now sliding too far in Trump's direction. They were also beginning to wonder whether the young Hispanic Republican's potential to unite Texas voters might go unrealized.

"Eight years ago, he was kind of this rising star," says James Aldrete, a Democratic strategist in Texas. "But Trump has taken the party," and Bush has decided, to his father's embarrassment, to go along. To stay relevant at this point, Aldrete thinks that Bush would have to commit to "reshaping and saving" his party. "You haven't seen that courage from him so far."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


China and the Difficulties of Dissent (Simon Leitch, 8/05/19, Quillette)

China is an ethnonationalist, corporatist, authoritarian state. The government harasses, imprisons, or murders those who demand the right to vote. It engages in cultural genocide and seeks to make the Chinese dictatorship ideologically inseparable from the self-image of the Chinese people. It protects its domestic economy from foreign competition, subsidises all its important industries, mandates that government officials sit on the boards of all large companies, and does not allow independent labour unions. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

60-40 NATION:

How Gun Control Groups Are Catching Up to the N.R.A.  (Reid J. Epstein, Maggie Astor and Danny Hakim, Aug. 4, 2019, NY Times)

The political momentum in the gun control debate has shifted in the year leading up to this weekend's mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, with gun control advocates taking a more empowered stance and the National Rifle Association consumed by internal power struggles.

The major gun control organizations, propelled by funding from supporters like Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, and grass-roots networks across the country, have helped enact new laws -- mostly in Democratic-controlled states -- and, for the first time in 25 years, passed a significant gun control bill in the House.

But the gun lobby's structural advantages, built over decades and defended by President Trump and congressional Republicans, remain in place: an N.R.A. budget that dwarfs what even Mr. Bloomberg has spent, a Republican Senate majority disinclined to consider gun-control legislation, and a base of primary voters for whom the N.R.A.'s endorsement is a critical seal of approval.

The net effect is a playing field on gun issues that is far more level than it has been since N.R.A.-backed Republicans took over Congress in 1994, sparking one of the country's most bitter, partisan culture wars.

Lobbies are all well and good, but it's the fact that voters, especially younger ones, want restrictions that will shape gun policy going forward--to the extent the Court allows us to follow the Constitution.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Post says: Ban assault weapons now (Post Editorial Board, August 4, 2019, NY Post)

Crush This Evil (THE EDITORS, August 4, 2019, National Review)

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump tweets, stays out of sight for hours after shootings (JONATHAN LEM, 8/05/19, AP)

As the American nation reeled from two mass shootings in less than a day, US President Donald Trump spent the first hours after the tragedies out of sight at his New Jersey golf course, sending out tweets of support awkwardly mixed in with those promoting a celebrity fight and attacking his political foes.

Even the bubble was calling him to account, so he needs a day to find someone else to blame.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Charles Darwin's Two Faulty Metaphors (George Stanciu, August 4th, 2019, Imaginative Conservative)

Charles Darwin's notion of the survival of the fittest remains a sacred idea in science--no indeed, in modern Western culture. The imagined war of every organism against every other represents a profound enculturation of science, prejudicing theories and obscuring the facts. The evidence, however, clearly shows that nature is not competitive but cooperative.

"Charles Darwin was a master of metaphor, and much of his success may be attributed to his uncanny feel for timely comparisons that virtually compel understanding," according to Stephen Jay Gould, a paleontologist and evolutionary biologist. The principal metaphors used by Darwin were the struggle for existence and natural selection. Gould finds these "wonderfully apt and poetic."

The metaphor problem is far bigger than that, because his ur-metaphor is that Nature functions like the farm breeding with which he was familiar.  He begins from intelligent design.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'Darkest day in Indian democracy': India revokes special status for Kashmir amid crackdown
 (SBS, 8/05/19)

India's government revoked the special status of Kashmir in a bid to fully integrate its only Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country, the most far-reaching move on the troubled Himalayan territory in nearly seven decades.

Interior Minister Amit Shah told parliament the federal government would scrap Article 370, a constitutional provision that grants special status for disputed Kashmir and allows the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to make its own laws.

They can't keep the main parts of the country together in the long term, nevermind an ersatz portion.