Link Roundup, 10/11/2018

From the Washington Post: Profile of the hit squad assembled by the Saudis to kill Jamal Khashoggi.

From The Register: Microsoft just added 60,000 patents to the Open Innovation Network.

From Business Insider: In a strange and unprecedented move, Chief Justice Roberts has referred unspecified ethics complaints regarding Brett Kavanaugh to lower court justices for review.

From Motherboard: A deep dive into the challenge of moderating 2 billion Facebook users.

From CBS: White House meeting between Trump and Kanye is an apocalyptic vortex of stupidity.


    1. I read the article and the sense that I got is that the economy is doing well and things are generally going well for the white suburban men, so they are largely happy with Trump. As one person indicated – I may not like his disruptions, messaging, etc, but he is getting things done, so I’ll put up with the things I dislike. That also is similar to what one former associate of mine said in January of 2017. Basically he said, his messaging may be bad, but if he can get this nation moving again, then I will support him. I mentioned this incident in a reply to an earlier column in this blog. This guy is also quite negative in his outlook and tends to be misogynistic, but is a typical white suburban late middle aged man. These people tend to be relatively well off and the booming economy, is beginning to help them. Thus, a small amount of the benefit from the trickle down approach is finally beginning the reach them. That is not true of the less well off, however.

      That outlook is based on short term and immediate thinking. It does not look at the long term trends. With that outlook a man (it is typical of men) would conclude that the entire Obama Administration was a failure, because the country was not “moving”. However, the entire Obama Administration was largely spent recovering for the financial collapse of 2008 under the GWB Administration. True there were mistakes, but in general Obama cleaned up the mess GWB left and put some very positive trend lines in place. Those fundamentals have largely enabled the positive economic news under Trump, for which he is taking full credit. Enough said, but this is the same life outlook that led to the triumph of Naziism in Germany during the 1930’s.

      On the other hand, Trump has done much to destroy the sound economic base that Obama left. Trump supported and signed a massive tax decrease for the wealthy and corporations. That drastically increased the income inequity in the U.S. He has started a tariff war, that does not appear to be going well, despite the spin on NAFTA. Positive progress on a host of other fronts has been halted and reversed. These include civil rights and fossil fuel emissions. Climate change is being ignored and environmental regulations destroyed. All this will result in a massive backlash that will begin to be felt in the near future. The hurricanes that have hit the U.S. in the last two years, are are a wakeup call.

      Many of us realize this and don’t buy that outlook. There may be some gender basis for the tendency of many men to focus on the short term. My life experience indicates there is some substance to that statement. I do not think exclusively in the short term and tend to be cautious, But then my career has been spent building large infrastructure projects with projected long life spans.

      1. “There may be some gender basis for the tendency of many men to focus on the short term.”

        If the economy was built around a “women first!” approach, women would be pleased with a woman who created short term gains for women, even if that woman was insufferable. This goes for ethnic and religious stratification as well.

        What’s funny about this New York Times article is it’s every liberal snowflake’s argument about ‘privilege’ written in dead-eye, non-ironic straightforwardness: these men’s biggest complaint about 45’s behavior is that other people complaining about it stresses them out, so they don’t want to talk about politics with other people because it stresses them out. Meanwhile 45’s administration is sending many legal refugees back to their countries to face possible death, caging children, reinstating the formal blind eye the justice department turns to extrajudicial killings of police officers of people of color, and chiseling away women’s rights and their access to health — among much more that I can’t think off the top of my head.

        In short, people are suffering and dying as direct results of actions taken by this administration, but white men are more worried about feeling inconvenienced about talking about it than they are concerned with the suffering — because “We’re more concerned with the economy.” Yeah, whatever, Mr. “I’m concerned with ballooning deficits under Obama.”

        Anyway, it’s not surprising to see 45’s behavior normalized by feckless Ohioans, it’s just disheartening to see the major swing toward Republican approval right before the midterms and to see educated white men complaining about not being able to talk about politics because they’re afraid their friends and neighbors will get upset with them. It’s like, dude, if your friends and neighbors are upset, maybe you should fucking listen to them.

  1. In your Fukuyama article, you had mentioned East Asian ethno-states. Recently, I found a pair of articles that provide a picture of what Japan is going through right now.

    First off, this article by Cory Doctorow which discusses Japan’s demographic struggle, its insular nature, and how it’s a glimpse into the future (or in some cases, the present) of other nations which are similarly ethnically homogenous:

    As well, here’s an article by Izanau, a company that seeks to connect foreign workers with Japanese companies in order to bring them in to work there. It talks about Japan’s struggles with xenophobia, how there are Japanese people who understand that inviting more individuals from overseas to work in Japan is integral for the country’s future on the world stage, and overall paints a more optimistic picture of the current situation there. The article might be a tad biased and idealistic based on the company that published it, but I think it deserves a read nonetheless.

    Going back to the Doctorow article, one person in the comment section, acrostic, wrote something that hit close to home based on where I’ve come from, Internet-wise:

    “I’ve written this a few times, but as someone who grew up on the net, I’ve seen a direct path leading from GameFAQs “Life, The Universe, and Everything” to Something Awful, to 4chan, to 8chan and niche hate sites/subreddits.

    I strongly suspect that a lot of people with rough childhoods/lives indulged in shock humor, but the people who stuck around had deeper issues. With each iteration, the culture gets both more toxic and more concentrated.

    (Ex: Something Awful would make a bunch of grey guys walk around in a swastika shape because it was funny to watch people freak out, folks on /pol/ on 8chan are literal nazis)”

    While I never had a rough childhood, I was given near-unrestricted and unsupervised Internet access in my teenage years. I went deep into 4chan, but never went farther than that. I may tell more of this story another time, but the short version is that I developed a set of mental tics, habits and subconscious bugs that I’m still trying to unlearn today, and am glad I avoided falling in with the alt-right crowd.

    My personal experiences and acrostic’s comment have served to remind me that (touching on a topic of one of my previous comments) things won’t get better just because an older cohort of people are passing away. It’s going to be an uphill fight that takes years. Pay attention to who and what younger people are looking at online, particularly the whole “skeptic” community and its content creators on YouTube. Work with others to create articles, videos, etc. that provide counter-arguments which refute the work of the “skeptics”.

    1. That boing-boing piece takes the bolder position on Japan that I hesitated to embrace, not having visited the place myself. But that’s pretty much what it looks like from the outside. I always cringe a little when people describe Japan as a liberal democracy. It has always seemed like they transposed most of the authoritarian structures of the pre-war order onto a new arrangement, and just added a few token elections.

      When I tell people that America is still poised to be the global economic, military and political leader of the 21st century, I’m thinking about how much better we are positioned than places like Japan or Germany to adapt to a global order. Trump is embarrassing, but we’ll purge him in short order. Other countries probably won’t be so lucky with their xenophobic kleptocrats.

  2. This was supposed to go on top but for some reason got buried in Dins’ thread:

    Supreme Court upholds North Dakota voting law specifically targeting indigenous (read: North Dakota’s largest minority) population:

    In Georgia, the Republican running for governor is also the secretary of state in charge of voting. Through no circumstance or surprising coincidence whatsoever, 53,000 voter applications are being stalled and voting locations in predominantly black districts are being closed:

  3. So, Fortune Magazine is reporting that Ford has lost at least 1 billion dollars (not sure if sales or actual losses) due to the puppet tryant’s trade tariffs. Stock is down 29% this year.Looks like they are using it as an excuse to destroy the financial fabric of 24,000 families, or 12% of their workforce. That is just the direct job losses, let alone the spinoff losses.

    I am not sure what is worse. This “just a tool capitalism” corporation, or the single individual that is responsible for worldwide chaos. Actually, we all know that answer to that.

    I am fairly certain, no, I am positive, that I can make a solid case that this madman has done more damage to global finances, let alone to democracy, than bin Laden.

    Someone, please, tell me, why is he still alive? The Russians have no problems getting to anyone, the Saudi’s operate with impunity, the Israeli’s kill Iranian scientists, the North Korean madman whacks his brother, the U.S, made up playing cards for Iraqi’s they wanted dead or alive.

    But no one can touch the person that does the most harm? Surely there must be powerful organizations out there thinking “we can’t let this continue”.

    1. You have to cut this shit out. Coercion, like persuasion and the others, is merely one tool of politics, not better or worse than the others. I have no particular attachment to “nonviolence” as a political principle. Violence works when it works.

      It never works if deployed merely to vent frustration. In fact, it always fails when deployed that way. Cut it out. Not just here, but in your own head. That Taxi Driver crap is gonna get you, us, and everything you care about absolutely nowhere. Uncoordinated, undisciplined violence is as useful and burning your own house down. Get your head right. There are no shortcuts to a better world.

      There may one day be a reason to use coercive force to accomplish a valuable goal. It won’t be done by you or me, and it won’t be done outside an accountable, organized framework. Stop it.

      1. Why don’t you ask the IRA about how their tactics ultimately worked. Why not ask the Israeli’s about the impact of the King David Hotel on their genesis as a country. How about ask Iran what the impact of the CIA and MI6 in 1953 were?

        So, tell me, why targeted violence, as you say is part of the political toolbox, not on the table? The U.S. has used that tool so many times, it is not even worth counting them. Why could not some major organization, and I don’t count this as just countries, decide “enough”.

        As Michael Corleone said, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

        But this is your blog. I will respect your wishes. I will stop.

        Besides, it seems that every month you drift closer to my mindset anyway. I compare the tenor of your work last week to what it was 20 months ago, and I see a definite shift.

      2. Supreme Court upholds North Dakota voting law specifically targeting indigenous (read: North Dakota’s largest minority) population:

        In Georgia, the Republican running for governor is also the secretary of state in charge of voting. Through no circumstance or surprising coincidence whatsoever, 53,000 voter applications are being stalled and voting locations in predominantly black districts are being closed:

      3. Georgia is notorious for voter suppression. This is not the first time tens of thousands of new voter registrations have been turned down. The real question is: how do you seek redress when the deck is stacked against you?

      4. I’m not going to get baited into writing about violence right now. It’s not the time or the place, and it could only lead to misunderstandings. You need to tone it down. We’re all frustrated and angry, but this kind of spouting off could lead to serious negative consequences and it has no upside.

      5. Chris, it is your blog. You can write and moderate as you choose. I will cease with the discussion of my choice of solutions, however, I do note the phrasing you use in your last post.

        Of course, neo-nazi groups like the Proud Boys, deep in Blue country NYC, seem to have not received the memo about “violence is bad” and so far, it is working for them. Guess we will see how this all plays out in the next 6-25 months, assuming there is a federal election in 25 months.

      6. Violence isn’t “bad.” Coercion, like the other 2.5 different kinds of power has its place. Our starry-eyed ideas about the power of non-violence come mostly from insulation born of privilege. A lot of that privilege is being burned away.

        But violence is cheap, and as such people are tempted to deploy it at the wrong time, through the wrong methods, individually, to satisfy no goal but to soothe their own emotional frustration. None of the other forms of power, not even insanity, are consistently wielded as poorly, toward such miserably unproductive ends as violence.

        In short, we are nowhere near a situation in which any of us will have a good reason to use violence toward a productive end. Otherwise, it would be easier to write about it productively. There are too many emotional and imaginative leaps necessary to describe a valid coercive scenario outside an official use of violence (police, military, etc). Too many opportunities in those leaps for dangerous misunderstandings. Just drop it.

    2. Dins, for the sake of argument, let’s say you go that route – what in this vast expanse of majesty that we call Earth is there to stop *anyone* from using that as a precedent to make excuses to do the same to any future American president; or really, ANY leader across the world?

      There wouldn’t be any. Effectively, all you’re saying is is that if one perceives any given leader as enough of a threat, it’s perfectly alright to throw everything out the proverbial window and go for damn broke. And in an increasingly unstable and polarized world like ours, to say that’s like pouring gasoline on an open fire is the understatement of the century.

      Now, understandably, one might make the retort that drastic measures should and indeed *must* be taken before something truly irreversible happens. Surely I’m not suggesting that we just stand by and ALLOW some unforeseen horror to occur?

      Well yes, that’s actually exactly what I’m saying. You cannot justify your actions based on a potential. If it’s not happening in your face, at this *exact* moment or you know beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that it’s in fact going to happen – all you’ve done is make a martyr out of the absolute last person that’s deserving of it.

      We are not Vladimir Putin. We are not the Saudis. We are not Kim Jong Un. Goodness knows we have a hell of a lot to answer for as a country, but cross *that* line and there’s no going back. Stick a fork in the American Experiment. It’ll be done.

      1. Perfectly reasoned and stated. If those of us who believe in law and order succumb to the vile tactics of desperate people, “they” will have won it all.

        Dins, your frustration is shared but your solution is not. Please do not use this forum to advocate violence. Chris has warned you and he is right. Stop this.

  4. These ethics complaints will go nowhere as there is no possible punishment in any case. The Justice Department is not going to prosecute Kavanaugh for perjury and Impeachment and removal is not possible as long as the Republicans have one or both houses of Congress. John Roberts should have just thrown these ethics complaints into the garbage or used them for toilet paper as that would have been a more honest response. The Supreme Court is going to become like the Lochner court and dismantle the welfare state and the administrative state and damn the consequences to our country.

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