Late Night Drama Open Thread: There’s No Self-Pity Like White Male Self-Pity

bernie bro death threats morin

(Jim Morin via GoComics.com)
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The first professional sophist claimed that Man is the measure of all things, and the (white) men in charge have yet to get over it…

And the thing is, they still feel like the victim(s) here. Further reading:

Rolling Stone, “Pro-Bernie Trolls on Why They Harassed Nevada’s Democratic Chair”. Guy who sent text messages you’re fired bitch… someone will hurt you… with images of slaughtered animals to the personal number of Nevada state Democratic party Roberta Lange —

… You’re right, stuff like that doesn’t benefit the campaign, but it’s not necessarily about his campaign, as [much as] it is [about] anger. And I’m not justifying any threats or anything like that, but I would justify people who were upset. Because there is clearly stuff that should not have happened that did happen on Saturday. I can speak for myself: that was very upsetting to me, and the person I was viewing it with, because it felt like democracy was stolen. Like, people weren’t getting their voices heard…

Jezebel‘s political subblog The Slot, “We Called Up Bernie Fans Who Threatened Nevada Dem State Chair and Asked Them to Explain Themselves” —

… “I can’t really say for sure if there was an intention on that,” he replied. “I don’t really want to say too much.”

He was “of a younger age,” he explained—older than 18 but younger than 25. “This is our first primary,” he said. “And watching the convention on Saturday, watching the livestream, was very frustrating. I think there were a lot of people who were angry. But I don’t personally have anything against anybody. I never had any intentions of any negative actions or anything like that. I made that very clear. A lot of people are angry.”

I asked if he would’ve done the same thing if he knew people would be able to call him back.

“I wouldn’t have done it had I not been hyped up and angry,” he said. “ But I’m not saying I did anything. I’m not saying I made any threats. I had no intention of threatening anyone.”…

Nobody understands that they have been misunderstood! Wounded! Deeply wounded in their feelings! Their precious, precious feelings!



Iraqi State of Emergency: The Parliamentary Occupation

Yesterday a large number of Iraqi Shi’a stormed into the Green Zone in protest and occupied the Iraqi Parliament. The immediate driver of this activity was a call by Muqtada al Sadr for the Iraqi Parliament to actually convene and take a vote on pending legislation to force Iraqi Prime Minister al Abadi to replace ministers with non-partisan technocrats. The real cause of the unrest is with the way power is currently portioned out within the Iraqi government, which is partially done by sectarian allotment among Sunni Arabs, Shi’a Arabs, and Kurds. When the current Iraqi government’s institutions and structures were being rebuilt one of the reforms was a very, very soft form of consociational (confessional) representation. Perhaps the best known example of this type of system is in Lebanon where certain numbers of seats in the Lebanese Parliament and certain ministerial and military positions are reserved for members of specific Lebanese sects in order to force power sharing, compromise, and the creation of a functional civil space among the often hostile and antagonistic Lebanese sects.

Iraq’s system isn’t a full consociational system as the elections to Parliament are based on party lists, not sectarian quotas regarding seats. Though in practice the party lists have produced a Shi’a majority bloc, with both Kurdish, Sunni, and mixed sectarian minority blocs within the Iraqi Parliament. Iraq’s consociational system instead focuses on having some ministerial positions allotted in a consociational manner to force power sharing and compromise. It has, unfortunately, not always worked effectively, and has been a source of serious contention, and a conduit for corruption. One of Prime Minister al Abadi’s goals has been the reform of this system by transitioning it away from consociationalism based on sectarian confession (Shi’a and Sunni) and ethnicity (Kurd) and towards a technocratic form of government. Unfortunately this has been stalled out; largely because those currently benefiting from the consociational system don’t want to give up those benefits so the legislation is stalled and a quorum cannot be produced in Parliament. The longer it drags on, the more the frustration grows. And today a lot of that boiled over. The good news is that the Iraqi Security Forces are not treating this as a type of activity that requires a counterterrorism response. This is a very good sign and watching the response of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Interior Ministry will provide us with important information going forward.

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Open Thread: Snowden and the Unasked Questions

There’s a sub-branch of linguistics where the experts search for the words that don’t exist in a particular language — sometimes because certain subjects are considered too dangerous to speak of directly. From the Washington Post‘s Wonkblog, “New study: Snowden’s disclosures about NSA spying had a scary effect on free speech”:

.[I]t’s difficult to judge the effect of government-spying programs. How do you collect all the utterances that people stopped themselves from saying? How do you count all the conversations that weren’t had?

A new study provides some insight into the repercussions of the Snowden revelations, arguing that they happened so swiftly and were so high-profile that they triggered a measurable shift in the way people used the Internet.

Jonathon Penney, a PhD candidate at Oxford, analyzed Wikipedia traffic in the months before and after the NSA’s spying became big news in 2013. Penney found a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned “al-Qaeda,” “car bomb” or “Taliban.”

“You want to have informed citizens,” Penney said. “If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate.”

Even though the NSA was supposed to target only foreigners, the immense scale of its operations caused many to worry that innocent Americans were getting caught in the dragnet. A Pew survey in 2015 showed that about 40 percent of Americans were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that the government was spying on their online activities.

The same survey showed that about 87 percent of American adults were aware of the Snowden news stories. Of those people, about a third said they had changed their Internet or phone habits as a result. For instance, 13 percent said they “avoided using certain terms” online; and 14 percent said they were having more conversations face to face instead of over the phone. The sudden, new knowledge about the surveillance programs had increased their concerns about their privacy.

Penney’s research, which is forthcoming in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, echoes the results of a similar study conducted last year on Google Search data. Alex Marthews, a privacy activist, and Catherine Tucker, a professor at MIT’s business school, found that Google activity for certain keywords fell after the Snowden stories were splashed on every front page. Both in the United States and in other countries, people became reluctant to search for terrorism-related words such as “dirty bomb” or “pandemic.”…

The Wikipedia data suggest that the Snowden revelations had a noticeable impact on people’s Wikipedia behaviors, says Penney. “I expected to find an immediate drop-off in June, and then people would slowly realize that nobody is going to jail for viewing Wikipedia articles, and the traffic would go back up,” he said. “I was surprised to see what looks to be a longer-term impact from the revelations.”…

Of course people will find a way around the Forbidden Terms — people always do, whether it’s Siberian nomads referring to Grandfather (Bear) or devout Jews not speaking the name of their god — but wasn’t there a time when “Watch what you say, watch what you do” was righteously mocked as un-American?



Balloon Juice Bunker Standoff Update: Won’t Someone Think of the Cows!

Earlier today efgoldman asked about what was happening with Cliven Bundy’s cows.

The short answer is that the BLM, coordinating with the Department of Justice, is trying to figure out what to do with them. They are still under a seizure order from a Federal court due to the unpaid grazing fees and the overdue fines on those fees.

However, BLM has several concerns:
1) There are still Bundys and their supporters at his Bunkerville Ranch and in the surrounding communities that could place BLM personnel at risk.

2) In relation to item 1, Cliven Bundy has sent violently threatening letters to many of the companies that BLM would contract with to do the removal, transport, and/or house the cattle. So none of the companies want to get involved. This is almost a textbook example of the state level crime known as terrorizing/making terroristic threats.

3) The cattle are a special breed of Brahman, imported from India, that can handle high heat, little water, and sparse vegetation. They are also known for having particularly unpleasant dispositions and have been compared to Cape Buffalo. So they are naturally smart and ornery and Bundy has essentially let them go feral. So this isn’t like rounding up the normal, dimwitted cows we often see on TV. Rather it is trying to round up large, nasty, smart, aggressive, feral animals. And trying to do so in harsh conditions with a potential threat of human directed violence against those doing the round up.

4) It is also important to remember that Bundy doesn’t brand his cattle – it is estimated that 3/4 of his herd (approximately 750 out of 1,000 total) are unbranded. Nor has he taken proper care of them. So in addition to being feral, and a specialty breed, because they’ve not had proper veterinary care there is no telling what they are carrying disease wise. This means that bringing them anywhere where they can come into contact with other ranchers’ cattle, or even people, is not a good idea. In order to do this right they would have to a) round them up, b) transport them in a controlled manner to a containment facility – at this point they become temporary property/in custody of the State of Nevada, c) have each cow evaluated by a veterinarian, d) go through a complete course of treatment for whatever they might have, e) be reevaluated to make sure they’re disease free, and then finally to f) be made available for auction with the proceeds going to pay off Cliven Bundy’s outstanding grazing fees and the fines and interest that has accrued on them. That last step of putting them up for auction only comes after Cliven Bundy is given a chance to pay his overdue fees and the fines and the court costs to reclaim his cattle. If he refuses to do so, or fails to do so, the BLM can apply to the State of Nevada Brand Inspector to sell the unbranded cattle. If the application is approved the cattle can then, finally be auctioned, but only the approximately 750 or so without brands. I do not know what happens to the remaining branded cattle.

It is important to keep in mind that Bundy owes over a million dollars in fees, fines, and court costs, but his 1,000 head herd is only valued at around $800,000 and only the unbranded 3/4 (750) can be auctioned or sold to recoup the fees and fines. So that reduces the estimated value of a sale to about $600,000. The estimates of a round up are right around the same price as the estimated value of all of Bundy’s cattle. So no matter what happens he’s going to cost the taxpayers more money than can be recouped in settling the matter. I’ve not seen anyone provide an estimate on damage his cattle has cost, or even how that money could be recouped, but it probably raises the financial stakes here a lot as well.

Since all of the above is a real pain in the tookhas, right now no one is doing anything but monitoring the situation. Some of it is that I’m not really sure anyone really knows the best way to go about all of the above so that Cliven Bundy and his cattle don’t cost the taxpayer any more money than they already have. You’re only other option is to basically slaughter the entire herd where they currently are, which I’m pretty sure is not legal at all.



Saturday Morning Cartoons Open Thread

It was such a beautiful prospect, for us chaos muppets, but the New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza says it’s not gonna happen:

In the Wall Street Journal, on Monday, Benjamin Ginsberg, a longtime Republican Party lawyer who is most famous for the role he played as the Bush campaign’s legal counsel during the 2000 Florida recount, caused a stir in political circles. In a piece called “Flirting With a Chaotic GOP Convention,” Ginsberg argued that Republican leaders need to take seriously the idea that there might not be a candidate who has secured more than half of the 2,472 delegates needed to win the Party’s nomination when Republicans meet at their convention, in Cleveland, next July…

… In the media, this situation is often referred to as a “brokered convention”—but that’s a misnomer, because there are no convention brokers. That job doesn’t exist anymore. When it was normal for convention delegates to gather and decide on their party’s nominee, brokers—state party leaders, labor or other interest-group bosses—acted as managers of blocs of delegates. These days, nobody even knows who the delegates are, much less exercise any control over them. The more precise term for a situation in which the nominee isn’t clear after the primaries is a “contested convention.”

How likely is a contested convention? Not very. In fact, it may be infinitesimal…

It’s hard to see now, but the large field of Republican candidates will almost certainly be winnowed down to three or four contenders after the voting happens in the first three states—Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The G.O.P. field has already been gradually compressing, as candidates who have found little support in the polls, or from donors and party insiders, have dropped out of the race… In previous cycles in which contested conventions were predicted, the dynamic of winnowing eventually produced a two-person race and then a clear winner. If Donald Trump is one of those two candidates this time, there will be enormous pressure on the Republican Party establishment to consolidate its support for one of his rivals, and the others will be driven from the race. Aside from Trump’s rise, the oddest thing about the 2016 race is that the G.O.P. establishment has been slow to pick an alternative. Usually this happens in the year before the election. But this time, it seems likely that it will take a few caucuses and primaries to offer some clarity before the Party decides on its mainstream choice. Avoiding a potentially disastrous contested convention will serve as an added incentive for the Republicans to rally around a single candidate…

For all the 2014 braggadocio about the GOP’s “deep bench”, what seems to have happened is that every candidate on offer had such shallow support that a whole bunch of second- (third-, fourth-) stringers weren’t discouraged from jumping into the competition face-first. Sure, by every rule of “normal” politics, it’ll be down to three or four candidates after March 1st, if not sooner — but “normal” hasn’t been a big factor in this cycle’s GOP competition, so far.
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Apart from wishing (further) confusion to our enemies, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Open Thread: Another One Bites the Dust

Per Politico:

Harvard University professor Lawrence Lessig abandoned his Democratic presidential run on Monday, capping a candidacy that failed to get any real traction at all.

Lessig, an outspoken academic who had been a vocal proponent of campaign finance reform, said he was dropping his bid for the White House in a YouTube video.

The Harvard academic didn’t raise a notable amount of money and failed even to get into the Democratic presidential debates. He acknowledged as much in his announcement…

I watched the video. Unless you enjoy whiny self-justification, or need a sleep aid, I wouldn’t bother.

Professor Lessig has chosen a most worthy and important issue, and if he’d had the smarts to aim his doomed candidacy at the Republican party — which even he acknowledges is the source of the big-money rot and its greatest enabler by a huge factor — I’d have had more sympathy for the man. As it is, he’s just the Goo-Goo cherry on our Second Gilded Age’s shit sundae, a high-minded bludgeon aimed at exactly the wrong target.



Late Night Open Thread: Freedumb Caucus – Curses, Foiled Again!

From the Reuters article:

Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives’ most influential conservative group told Reuters on Monday it was too late to stop an extension of the federal debt ceiling this week, but they will not hold it against the expected next House Speaker, Paul Ryan.

Representatives Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Mick Mulvaney, founders of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, told Reuters in an interview that there was not enough time for House Republicans to rally around a list of demands for raising the $18.1 trillion U.S. borrowing limit.

Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner is working with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders to finalize terms of an extension of federal borrowing authority through March 2017 along with a $112 billion deal to ease military and domestic spending caps for two years, according to House and Senate aides and lawmakers…

However, [Mulvaney] said Ryan’s first big test would be a spending bill to keep government agencies open past a current shutdown deadline of Dec. 11. This would have to produce “at least something better than we would have gotten under Mr. Boehner.”

Mulvaney said that in his view, that would mean not raising any discretionary spending caps without an equal amount of spending cuts elsewhere.

That’s Meadows in the twitter pic, wishing he had a mustache to twirl. As I interpret it, the Freedumb-Humpers Caucus will present a list of absolutely non-negotiable demands along with this bill to President Obama, and he will inform them they are free to pound sand into the orifices of their choosing. Then they will go on to their next outrage, because that is what they do, just like my little rescue dogs shriek impotently at the mailman every day, never slacking at their self-appointed “responsibilities”. Read more