Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Level of religious tolerance in the 25 most populous nations

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Chart showing nations arranged using two axes: social hostilities (SH) and government restrictions (GR). China has very high GR and extremely low SH. Japan is at the bottom for both GR and SH. The US is moderate for both. Nations very high in GR are Iran (low SH), Russia (more SH) and Indonesia (high SH). India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, and Bangladesh are all high in GR and very high in SH.

Written by Leisureguy

29 November 2022 at 12:50 pm

The story behind the Equality v. Equity meme

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On the left three children standing on boxes to see over the fence to watch a baseball game. The tallest boy on a box stands way above the fence, but the shortest, even standing on a box, cannot see over the fence. On the right, the tallest boy no longer has a box but can still see over the fence, and his box, added to the box the shortest boy already had, enables the shortest boy to now see over the fence.

Craig Froehle, who created the idea behind the meme above, has an interesting article in Medium on how the idea came about. He wanted to shift the focus from equality of aid to equality of outcomes.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2022 at 1:55 pm

Corporations are reporting record profits — but there’s something wrong with the picture.

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Chart showing how, from 1985 to 2018, the median male income lost ground against rising expenses until the expenses (college, transportation, health care, and house) exceeded the income.

An article by Oren Cass in American Affairs, published Spring 2020, has some disturbing content. The article begins:

It sounds like an absurd riddle, or perhaps a kindergarten-level math problem: the median male full-time worker earned $314 per week in 1979, while his counterpart at the median in 2018 earned $1,026;1 who was better off? In fact, the question proves fiendishly difficult, even as its answer lies at the heart of understanding America’s economic progress and challenges.

The easiest answer is that $1,026 is 227 percent larger than $314, case closed. People lacking even rudimentary training in economics know that’s not right, however. Inflation reduces the value of money over time, so $1 in 2018 is not the same as $1 in 1979. But how much inflation has occurred? Economists have numerous methodologies and indices for making estimates, and they have engaged in long-running battles over which are most appropriate in which circumstances.

Unfortunately, the most common estimates produce opposite an­swers to our question. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s “Consumer Price Index” (CPI), the 2018 worker’s $1,026 in 2018 earnings is worth only $297 in 1979 dollars—or 6 percent less than the $314 in 1979 dollars earned by the 1979 worker. But according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s “Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index” (PCE), the 2018 income is worth $353 in 1979 dollars—a 13 percent gain.

Fortunately—though, in a larger sense, most unfortunately—we need not litigate between them to answer our question, because nei­ther offers an appropriate benchmark. Price indices are not intended to, and do not, describe all the forces acting on a household budget against which a changing wage might most reasonably be compared. To put rising nominal wages in context, inflation is not the right technical mechanism. Nor is it conceptually valid. What does it mean, after all, to say that a 2018 dollar is worth twenty-nine or thirty-four 1979 cents? No currency exchange counter exists at which one can be swapped for the other. Our worker cannot travel back in time to spend today’s earnings in a market of yore. . . 

Continue reading.

The whole article is worth reading, but let pick out one factoid from it:

Weeks the median male worker needed to work to afford a year’s worth of major expenses (house, a car, health care, and education) for a family of four in:

1985: 30 weeks (out of 52)
2018: 53 weeks (out of 52)

But corporations are doing great.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2022 at 6:21 pm

The gods of Silicon Valley are falling to earth. So are their warped visions for society

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Moya Lothian-McLean writes in the Guardian:

The new gods are running into a bit of trouble. From the soap opera playing out at Twitter HQ, the too-big-to-fail bankruptcies in the cryptocurrency space, to mass tech layoffs, the past month has seen successive headlines declaring a litany of woes facing the bullish tech boyos in Silicon Valley and beyond.

The minute-by-minute coverage of Elon Musk’s escapades and the global levels of interest in the FTX collapse both go well beyond what you’d expect from a business story. I’m willing to gamble a few Bitcoins that the popular fixation has little to do with any particular interest in successful software engineering; rather it is the personalities who inhabit these spaces, and the philosophies that propel them in their godlike ambition. What is their end goal, we wonder. What drives them, beyond the pursuit of growth? It is easy to assume that money is all that motivates the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Musk and Jeff Bezos. Except, when you start to examine the mindsets of these men, it’s clear that cash is far from the whole story.

The concept of “effective altruism” has had its day in court after FTX, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange announced that, oops, it was mysteriously short of $8bn and would be filing for bankruptcy, post haste. As the dust – and fraud allegations – settle, the personal guiding principles of FTX’s millennial chief executive, Sam Bankman-Fried, have come to the fore. Bankman-Fried ostensibly was driven into crypto by an adherence to the “effective altruism” movement. Originally espousing giving as much targeted time and money to philanthropy as possible, EA has been morphed by its most prominent practitioners into getting very, very rich and then spending that money on projects that better the human race. This “earn-to-give” philosophy is dependent on data-driven analysis of what causes offer the best returns of “betterment”. It’s utilitarianism with a god complex.

Since Bankman-Fried’s spectacular fall from grace, it seems as if this doctrine may be doomed to the same downward spiral as its most famous disciple. It’s hard to argue that you possess the best instincts to improve the prospects of the human race when you can’t even keep your own affairs – or billions in customer funds – in order.

Then there was the allegation last week by the Insider journalist Julia Black that Musk, along with other billionaires, appear to be engaged in their own personal eugenics programme via a movement called “pronatalism”. Black writes that pronatalism – an ideology centred on having children to reverse falling birthrates in European countries, and prevent a predicted population collapse – is “taking hold in wealthy tech and venture-capitalist circles”, with the aid of hi-tech genetic screening.

Musk has championed pronatalist ideas publicly. Privately the Tesla co-founder is, in his own words, “doing my part”; he has 10 children known to the public, two of whom are twins he fathered with an AI expert who serves as an executive for his Neuralink company. But the ideas go beyond Musk and into the canyons of Silicon Valley; the world’s richest and most powerful people see it as their duty, Black claims, to “replicate themselves as many times as possible”.

Black’s subjects also namecheck effective altruism, longtermism (which prioritises the distant future over the concerns of today), and transhumanism (the evolution of humanity beyond current limitations via tech), as complementary philosophies. The concept of legacy is key to understanding our tech pioneers. As one interviewee tells Black,  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2022 at 1:04 pm

Rebecca Solnit comments on class warfare in the US

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Rebecca Solnit comments in Facebook on that post. (And at the link you can see additional comments she made):

My friend Nancy posted this and I said Please Lord, just one movie in which city folk represent decency and sanity and country folk are wacked to hell and back (besides Cold Comfort Farm, which is great, but English and from the 1930s). To which I might add the old conceit in which the city represents decadence and the countryside wholesomeness has bedeviled the English-speaking world for several centuries and is now a fixture and a curse upon American politics, the right having convinced rural people that, first, they are the wholesome Real Americans and second that we city folk despise and hate them.

Hate them for their wholesome traditional ways, rather than maybe we don’t hate them or maybe we hate intolerance and racism and the repression that hides abuse of all kinds (and maybe not a few city people are refugees from those idyllic-looking rural places that want to kill queer people, unsubmissive women, immigrants, and dissenters). I will give it to Barbara Kingsolver’s new book Demon Copperfield, in that it portrays a lot of violence, cruelty, trapped ness, and addiction in rural America. Aunt June who went to Knoxville is maybe the strongest moral force in the book and the most cleareyed character. Thanks to Susan for reminding me that Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is another portrait of rural America as unwholesome, and so is Jane Smiley’s retelling of King Lear in A Thousand Acres. What other classics of the unwholesome countryside are there? I think Thomas Hardy straddles the divide, loving some things and recognizing the cruelty and repression of others.

I grew up in a suburban cul-de-sac, the last subdivision before the country, on the edge of dairy farms. Our street was a spur off a long street, and I and learned to ride (western, of course) at the end of the long street become dirt road dead-ending in a horse pasture. I’ve spent many of the best days of my life in rural and wild places, and I admire the skill and toughness of people who work the land and tend it, but it’s probably assumed that since I’m urban, left, and environmental I hate rural people. And it’s true that I grew up among middle-class white people who mocked and ridiculed Dolly Parton and country music and southern accents, but I haven’t heard that nastiness in a long while.

I got an essay out of it years ago, titled “One Nation Under Elvis”: “The story that racism belongs to poor people in the South is a little too easy, though. Just as not everybody up here, geographically and economically, is on the right side of the line, so not everyone down there is on the wrong side. But the story allows middle-class people to hate poor people in general while claiming to be on the side of truth, justice, and everything else good.” In other words, a vile class war pretends to be an anti-racist war. I’ve met rich urban/northern racists and poor southern/rural antiracists. Categories are leaky.

To all this I’ll add a few paragraphs from this great column from four years ago by Paul Waldman (but please note that just as far from all conservatives/MAGA nuts are rural, so not all rural people are conservatives/MAGA nuts). Waldman writes: In the endless search for the magic key that Democrats can use to unlock the hearts of white people who vote Republican, the hot new candidate is “respect.” If only they cast off their snooty liberal elitism and show respect to people who voted for Donald Trump, Democrats can win them over and take back Congress and the White House.

The assumption is that if Democrats simply choose to deploy this powerful tool of respect, then minds will be changed and votes will follow. This belief, widespread though it may be, is stunningly naive. It ignores decades of history and everything about our current political environment. There’s almost nothing more foolish Democrats could do than follow that advice.

Before we proceed, let me be clear about what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that the desire for respect isn’t real. As a voter says in “The Great Revolt,” a new book by conservative journalist Salena Zito and Republican operative Brad Todd, “One of the things I really don’t get about the Democratic Party or the news media is the lack of respect they give to people who work hard all of their lives to get themselves out of the hole.”

But the mistake is to ignore where the belief in Democratic disrespect actually comes from and to assume that Democrats have it in their power to banish it.

It doesn’t come from the policies advocated by the Democratic Party, and it doesn’t come from the things Democratic politicians say. Where does it come from? An entire industry that’s devoted to convincing white people that liberal elitists look down on them.

It’s more than an industry, actually; it’s an industry, plus a political movement. The right has a gigantic media apparatus that is devoted to convincing people that liberals disrespect them, plus a political party whose leaders all understand that that idea is key to their political project and so join in the chorus at every opportunity. https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/why-democrats-cant…/

[I’d also add that the Democrats reliably advocate for legislation–access to healthcare, education, social services, clean water, etc.– that would benefit anyone poor or struggling and most people who are rural (if not big farming and ranching interests), but this is often ignored by the mainstream media and the right just plies them with the red meat of ideological issues, with the help of conservative Christian churches obsessing about abortion, sexuality, “traditional families” aka patriarchal repression, and lately critical race theory, trans kids, and other us-vs.-them frames.]

p.s. Eric Michael Garcia, the author of this genius tweet, is the author of a book on autism titled We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation. Link in comments. [Comments here – LG]

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2022 at 10:57 am

The Town That Went Feral

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In the New Republic Patrick Blanchfield reviews a brief history of an effort to put Libertarianism into practice in Grafton NH. (Like all previous attempts, it was an utter failure, and for the same reason: a reliance on mere logic, with no consideration given to experience — and as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. observed, “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

The review begins:

In its public-education campaigns, the U.S. National Park Service stresses an important distinction: If you find yourself being attacked by a brown or grizzly bear, YES, DO PLAY DEAD. Spread your arms and legs and cling to the ground with all your might, facing downward; after a few attempts to flip you over (no one said this would be easy), the bear will, most likely, leave. By contrast, if you find yourself being attacked by a black bear, NO, DO NOT PLAY DEAD. You must either flee or, if that’s not an option, fight it off, curved claws and 700 psi-jaws and all.

But don’t worry—it almost never comes to this. As one park service PSA noted this summer, bears “usually just want to be left alone. Don’t we all?” In other words, if you encounter a black bear, try to look big, back slowly away, and trust in the creature’s inner libertarian. Unless, that is, the bear in question hails from certain wilds of western New Hampshire. Because, as Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling’s new book suggests, that unfortunate animal may have a far more aggressive disposition, and relate to libertarianism first and foremost as a flavor of human cuisine.

Hongoltz-Hetling is an accomplished journalist based in Vermont, a Pulitzer nominee and George Polk Award winner. A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (and Some Bears) sees him traversing rural New England as he reconstructs a remarkable, and remarkably strange, episode in recent history. This is the so-called Free Town Project, a venture wherein a group of libertarian activists attempted to take over a tiny New Hampshire town, Grafton, and transform it into a haven for libertarian ideals—part social experiment, part beacon to the faithful, Galt’s Gulch meets the New Jerusalem. These people had found one another largely over the internet, posting manifestos and engaging in utopian daydreaming on online message boards. While their various platforms and bugbears were inevitably idiosyncratic, certain beliefs united them: that the radical freedom of markets and the marketplace of ideas was an unalloyed good; that “statism” in the form of government interference (above all, taxes) was irredeemably bad. Left alone, they believed, free individuals would thrive and self-regulate, thanks to the sheer force of “logic,” “reason,” and efficiency. For inspirations, they drew upon precedents from fiction (Ayn Rand loomed large) as well as from real life, most notably a series of micro-nation projects ventured in the Pacific and Caribbean during the 1970s and 1980s.

None of those micro-nations, it should be observed, panned out, and things in New Hampshire don’t bode well either—especially when the humans collide with a newly brazen population of bears, themselves just “working to create their own utopia,” property lines and market logic be damned. The resulting narrative is simultaneously hilarious, poignant, and deeply unsettling. Sigmund Freud once described the value of civilization, with all its “discontents,” as a compromise product, the best that can be expected from mitigating human vulnerability to “indifferent nature” on one hand and our vulnerability to one another on the other. Hongoltz-Hetling presents, in microcosm, a case study in how a politics that fetishizes the pursuit of “freedom,” both individual and economic, is in fact a recipe for impoverishment and supercharged vulnerability on both fronts at once. In a United States wracked by virus, mounting climate change, and ruthless corporate pillaging and governmental deregulation, the lessons from one tiny New Hampshire town are stark indeed.


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“In a country known for fussy states with streaks of independence,” Hongoltz-Hetling observes, “New Hampshire is among the fussiest and the streakiest.” New Hampshire is, after all, the Live Free or Die state, imposing neither an income nor a sales tax, and boasting, among other things, the highest per capita rate of machine gun ownership. In the case of Grafton, the history of Living Free—so to speak—has deep roots. The town’s Colonial-era settlers started out by ignoring “centuries of traditional Abenaki law by purchasing land from founding father John Hancock and other speculators.” Next, they ran off Royalist law enforcement, come to collect lumber for the king, and soon discovered their most enduring pursuit: the avoidance of taxes. As early as 1777, Grafton’s citizens were asking their government to be spared taxes and, when they were not, just stopped paying them.

Nearly two and a half centuries later, Grafton has become something of a magnet for seekers and quirky types, from adherents of the Unification Church of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon to hippie burnouts and more. Particularly important for the story is one John Babiarz, a software designer with a Krusty the Klown laugh, who decamped from Big-Government-Friendly Connecticut in the 1990s to homestead in New Hampshire with his equally freedom-loving wife, Rosalie. Entering a sylvan world that was, Hongoltz-Hetling writes, “almost as if they had driven through a time warp and into New England’s revolutionary days, when freedom outweighed fealty and trees outnumbered taxes,” the two built a new life for themselves, with John eventually coming to head Grafton’s volunteer fire department (which he describes as a “mutual aid” venture) and running for governor on the libertarian ticket.

Although John’s bids for high office failed, his ambitions remained undimmed, and in 2004 he and Rosalie connected with . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 November 2022 at 6:15 pm

Using guns to kill debate — and democracy

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The use of openly displayed firearms to intimidate and silence is particularly a problem in the US, which has more guns in civilian hands than it has civilians. Mike McIntire reports in the NY Times (no paywall):

Across the country, openly carrying a gun in public is no longer just an exercise in self-defense — increasingly it is a soapbox for elevating one’s voice and, just as often, quieting someone else’s.

This month, armed protesters appeared outside an elections center in Phoenix, hurling baseless accusations that the election for governor had been stolen from the Republican, Kari Lake. In October, Proud Boys with guns joined a rally in Nashville where conservative lawmakers spoke against transgender medical treatments for minors.

In June, armed demonstrations around the United States amounted to nearly one a day. A group led by a former Republican state legislator protested a gay pride event in a public park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Men with guns interrupted a Juneteenth festival in Franklin, Tenn., handing out fliers claiming that white people were being replaced. Among the others were rallies in support of gun rights in Delaware and abortion rights in Georgia.

Whether at the local library, in a park or on Main Street, most of these incidents happen where Republicans have fought to expand the ability to bear arms in public, a movement bolstered by a recent Supreme Court ruling on the right to carry firearms outside the home. The loosening of limits has occurred as violent political rhetoric rises and the police in some places fear bloodshed among an armed populace on a hair trigger.

But the effects of more guns in public spaces have not been evenly felt. A partisan divide — with Democrats largely eschewing firearms and Republicans embracing them — has warped civic discourse. Deploying the Second Amendment in service of the First has become a way to buttress a policy argument, a sort of silent, if intimidating, bullhorn.

“It’s disappointing we’ve gotten to that state in our country,” said Kevin Thompson, executive director of the Museum of Science & History in Memphis, Tenn., where armed protesters led to the cancellation of an L.G.B.T.Q. event in September. “What I saw was a group of folks who did not want to engage in any sort of dialogue and just wanted to impose their belief.”

A New York Times analysis of more than 700 armed demonstrations found that, at about 77 percent of them, people openly carrying guns represented right-wing views, such as opposition to L.G.B.T.Q. rights and abortion access, hostility to racial justice rallies and support for former President Donald J. Trump’s lie of winning the 2020 election.

The records, from January 2020 to last week, were compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nonprofit that tracks political violence around the world. The Times also interviewed witnesses to other, smaller-scale incidents not captured by the data, including encounters with armed people at indoor public meetings.

Anti-government militias and right-wing culture warriors like the Proud Boys attended a majority of the protests, the data showed. Violence broke out at more than 100 events and often involved fisticuffs with opposing groups, including left-wing activists such as antifa.

Republican politicians are generally more tolerant of openly armed supporters than are Democrats, who are more likely to be on the opposing side of people with guns, the records suggest. In July, for example, men wearing sidearms confronted Beto O’Rourke, then the Democratic candidate for Texas governor, at a campaign stop in Whitesboro and warned that he was “not welcome in this town.”

Republican officials or candidates appeared at 32 protests where they were on the same side as those with guns.  . .

Continue reading. (no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

26 November 2022 at 4:01 pm

In the US, violent crime is down, not up

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Check it out. (Trigger warning: Charts and graphs at link.)

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25 November 2022 at 2:38 pm

China’s gold stockpiling is dollar warning sign

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I’m wondering whether this time the GOP will actually force the US to default on its debt. Certainly the GOP has flirted with that in the past, and today more than ever before the GOP has aligned itself with Russia and seems inclined to act as Putin wants. The article by David Troy I just blogged talks about this, and now it looks like China is expecting it to happen. William Pesek reports in Asia Times:

One of the worst-kept secrets in global central banking is the extent to which Chinese officials are swapping dollars for gold.

Governor Yi Gang’s team at the People’s Bank of China isn’t admitting as much. The PBOC doesn’t have to, though, given the clear policy trajectory Chinese leader Xi Jinping has pursued in recent years: internationalizing of the yuan as the top rival to the dollar.

Xi’s position hasn’t changed so much as other governments are catching on that trust is waning in the global reserve currency and an alternative to the dollar is badly needed.

Particularly as the US national debt zooms past $30 trillion, inflation is at 40-year highs, the Federal Reserve is pushing the biggest economy into recession and a band of firebrand Republicans threatens to play politics with Washington’s debt limit again.

Not surprisingly, central banks that once hoarded dollars are buying gold at the fastest clip on record. In the July-September quarter, central banks more than quadrupled gold purchases from a year earlier — adding nearly a net 400 tonnes to already sizable stockpiles.

These figures from the World Gold Council are no aberration. The year-to-date flurry of gold buying already well surpasses any 12-month period since 1967. This has traders guessing who the real whales are here.

Punters doing the math can confirm that about 90 tonnes worth of purchases can be traced to Turkey (31.2 tonnes), Uzbekistan (26.1 tonnes), India (17.5 tonnes) and other developing nations. The other 300 tonnes, it’s widely assumed, bear Chinese fingerprints.

Xi’s ambitions to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 November 2022 at 6:28 pm

Musk’s Twitter Buy Makes No Sense – Unless It’s Part of Something Bigger

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Dave Troy writes in Byline Times:

Ever since Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, plunged the world into an endless stream of speculation and condemnation around his purchase of Twitter, the biggest unanswered question has been: why?

For many, his ultimate goals seem to be a mystery. As someone who has followed the company and its role in information warfare closely, I believe we need to use a different set of lenses to evaluate what’s happening.

First, it’s not a very attractive business, and it probably isn’t worth what Musk paid for it based on business metrics alone. He will struggle to service the debt payments associated with it, and he could try to improve profitability by slashing headcount and charging for services like Twitter Blue (which will provide a verified “checkmark” but may not include identity verification). That subscription feature may generate around $100 million a year if it has high uptake — nothing compared to the company’s $3.7bn in 2021 revenues.

It’s also important to realise that co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey endorsed Musk’s takeover bid. Why? Dorsey actually believes Twitter never should have been a company, but rather a foundational protocol on which a Twitter-like service could be built for the benefit of all — rather like the foundational Internet protocols that have enabled the web and email. Dorsey retained his shares in Musk’s Twitter; he said in April, “Elon is the singular solution I trust,” and he seems to be standing by that assessment.

Twitter cost Musk and his consortium of investors about $44 billion — denominated in United States dollars. That seems like quite a lot to pay. However, just as home mortgage payments get less expensive in real terms as time goes on, if you had a high degree of confidence that the value of a dollar would go down, perhaps dramatically, you might not care very much about price — especially if you thought your new asset could help you devalue the dollar.

Looking closer at the biggest investors (among them Musk, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, Qatar, and Dorsey), all of them have an interest in challenging the US dollar. Musk and Dorsey are major Bitcoin fanatics, and believe it’s the future of money. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have expressed interest in displacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. It is a peculiar characteristic of the investor list that all of them are interested in displacing the dollar.

Of course, this strategy is also one favoured by Vladimir Putin. His disastrous war in Ukraine is about more than territorial gains — it’s also a challenge to the West and what he perceives as unreasonable Western hegemony. He intends to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 November 2022 at 5:53 pm

The origins of the US Thanksgiving holiday

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Heather Cox Richardson has a nice explainer on the origins of US Thanksgiving. She writes:

The past week has brought seven mass shootings in the United States. Twenty-two people have been killed and 44 wounded. I’ll have more to say later about our epidemic of gun violence, but tonight, on the night before Thanksgiving, when I traditionally post the story of the holiday’s history, I simply want to acknowledge the terrible sorrow behind tomorrow’s newly empty chairs.

Thanksgiving itself came from a time of violence: the Civil War.

The Pilgrims and the Wampanoags did indeed share a harvest celebration together at Plymouth in fall 1621, but that moment got forgotten almost immediately, overwritten by the long history of the settlers’ attacks on their Indigenous neighbors.

In 1841 a book that reprinted the early diaries and letters from the Plymouth colony recovered the story of that three-day celebration in which ninety Indigenous Americans and the English settlers shared fowl and deer. This story of peace and goodwill among men who by the 1840s were more often enemies than not inspired Sarah Josepha Hale, who edited the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, to think that a national celebration could ease similar tensions building between the slaveholding South and the free North. She lobbied for legislation to establish a day of national thanksgiving.

And then, on April 12, 1861, southern soldiers fired on Fort Sumter, a federal fort in Charleston Harbor, and the meaning of a holiday for giving thanks changed.

Southern leaders wanted to destroy the United States of America and create their own country, based not in the traditional American idea that “all men are created equal,” but rather in its opposite: that some men were better than others and had the right to enslave their neighbors. In the 1850s, convinced that society worked best if a few wealthy men ran it, southern leaders had bent the laws of the United States to their benefit, using it to protect enslavement above all.

In 1860, northerners elected Abraham Lincoln to the presidency to stop rich southern enslavers from taking over the government and using it to cement their own wealth and power. As soon as he was elected, southern leaders pulled their states out of the Union to set up their own country. After the firing on Fort Sumter, Lincoln and the fledgling Republican Party set out to end the slaveholders’ rebellion.

The early years of the war did not go well for the U.S. By the end of 1862, the armies still held, but people on the home front were losing faith. Leaders recognized the need both to acknowledge the suffering and to keep Americans loyal to the cause. In November and December, seventeen state governors declared state thanksgiving holidays.

New York governor Edwin Morgan’s widely reprinted proclamation about the holiday reflected that the previous year “is numbered among the dark periods of history, and its sorrowful records are graven on many hearthstones.” But this was nonetheless a time for giving thanks, he wrote, because  . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

24 November 2022 at 9:29 am

AOC Calls Out Lauren Boebert For Her ‘Thoughts And Prayers’ Tweet After Colorado LGBTQ+ Club Shooting

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Alan Herrera reports in Comic Sands:

New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out Colorado Republican Representative Lauren Boebert for “elevating anti-LGBTQ hate rhetoric” after Boebert published a tweet in which she offered “prayers” to the victims of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs.

Boebert had earlier called the shooting—which resulted in five deaths and at least 25 injuries—”absolutely awful” and offered “prayers” to the victims and their families, adding:

“This lawless violence needs to end quickly.”

Ocasio-Cortez responded shortly afterward and noted that Boebert’s tweet rings rather hollow considering she has “played a major role in elevating anti-LGBTQ+ hate rhetoric and anti-trans lies.”

Ocasio-Cortez added that Boebert has used her time in Congress to block “even the most common sense gun safety laws,” concluding:

“You don’t get to ‘thoughts and prayers’ your way out of this. Look inward and change.”

Indeed, Boebert is one of the most high-profile anti-LGBTQ+ members of Congress, sharing bigoted opinions about members of the Biden administration and even complaining about the existence of drag bars.

Boebert has previously made headlines for . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2022 at 5:18 pm

Why women aren’t from Venus, and men aren’t from Mars

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In Nature, Emily Cooke interviews Gina Rippon:

Early research into schizophrenia alerted neuroscientist Gina Rippon to what she now calls the myth of the gendered brain, a term she used in the title of her first book. By examining examples taken from brain–behaviour research during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, right up to contemporary studies, the book, published in 2019, investigates the desire to find biological explanations for gendered societal norms. Rippon argues that our brains are not fixed as male or female at birth, but are instead highly plastic, changing constantly throughout our lives and influenced by the gendered world in which we live.

The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience that Shatters the Myth of the Female Brain was written in part, she says, to address dubious research, or what is sometimes called neurotrash. Rippon first encountered it in the 2000s. At the time, she was working at the Aston Brain Centre, part of Aston University in Birmingham, UK. Shocked by the misuse of sex and gender reporting in neuroscience, she became set on changing the rhetoric. Rippon is now professor emeritus of cognitive neuroimaging at Aston University.

What is neurotrash?

It is what we’d generally call pseudoscience — bringing a kind of scientific legitimacy to an argument.

Early brain images were very seductive, with people thinking, ‘Brilliant, we can find the God spot,’ for instance. Images were hijacked by self-help gurus, relationship counsellors and even those espousing single-sex education. Just adding a picture of the brain in, say, book chapters on why boys and girls are different gave tremendous credibility. Also, the beginning of this century saw ‘neuro’ everything. Just put ‘neuro’ in front for that sexy science-y feel — for example, neuromarketing or neuroaesthetics.

The word neurotrash highlights misleading information: telling stories that might be partly true, sustaining stereotypes and feeding myth continuation, for example about the right brain and left brain. This is the idea that the brain is a ‘game of two halves’, when in fact the whole of your brain is working for you the whole of the time.

These stories were often well written and certainly more accessible than arcane journals. They also resonated with people’s experiences. We believed that men and women were different, and here were the scientists saying ‘you’re right, and this is why’.

How did your own research in the field take shape?

I began my career in the 1980s, and became interested in sex differences in the brain and how different regions could be better configured for various tasks — making me one of the people I subsequently criticized.

When setting up my own laboratory, I had a range of cognitive tests, such as verbal fluency tasks or visuospatial tasks, that would allegedly differentiate men from women reliably. However, over a period of 18 months I frustratingly didn’t find any differences, so became dispirited. The research made me realize that the whole right-brain, left-brain idea is based on very shaky evidence — possibly not something to hang my future research career on. So I stopped doing that sort of work and moved on, becoming involved in dyslexia research.

In 2006, shortly after I’d joined Aston, the engineer Julia King became the university’s first female vice-chancellor. She was interested in the under-representation of women in science, and wanted to know what researchers at Aston were doing that might be relevant to understanding this.

Aware that brain imaging was being used to talk publicly about neuroscience, I reviewed how the field pursued the belief in the male versus the female brain. Horrified by the discipline’s misuse, I wrote a review and started a public conversation.

At the 2010 British Science Festival, I gave a talk about the so-called differences between women’s and men’s brains, showing that, when you look at the data, they’re not that different after all. I was trying to dispel the stereotypical myths that men are ‘left-brained’ — logical, rational and good at spatial tasks — and women are ‘right-brained’ — emotional, nurturing and good at verbal tasks.

We’re not from Mars or Venus (to quote relationship counsellor John Gray’s 1992 book), we’re all from Earth! I assumed that people would thank me and just move on, but it caused an absolute furore and gave me early exposure to media backlash.

One favourite comment (now . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2022 at 11:20 am

Source of the problem

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Written by Leisureguy

21 November 2022 at 4:48 pm

Amy Coney Barrett urged to step away from gay rights case because of faith affiliation

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The US Supreme Court has some serious problems, which it is working hard to avoid recognizing or doing anything about. Stephanie Kirchgaessner writes in the Guardian:

Former members of Amy Coney Barrett’s secretive faith group, the People of Praise, are calling on the US supreme court justice to recuse herself from an upcoming case involving gay rights, saying Barrett’s continued affiliation with the Christian group means she has participated in discriminatory policies against LGBTQ+ people.

The former members are part of a network of “survivors” of the controversial charismatic group who say Barrett’s “lifelong and continued” membership in the People of Praise make her too biased to fairly adjudicate an upcoming case that will decide whether private business owners have a right to decline services to potential clients based on their sexual orientation.

They point to Barrett’s former role on the board of Trinity Schools Inc, a private group of Christian schools that is affiliated with the People of Praise and, in effect, barred children of same-sex parents from attending the school.

A faculty guide published in 2015, the year Barrett joined the board, said “blatant sexual immorality” – which the guide said included “homosexual acts” – had “no place in the culture of Trinity Schools”. The discriminatory policies were in place before and after Barrett joined.

The schools’ attitude, the former People of Praise members said, reflect the Christian group’s staunchly anti-gay beliefs and adherence to traditional family values, including – they say – expelling or ostracizing members of the People of Praise “community” who came out as gay later in life or their gay children.

“I don’t believe that someone in her position, who is a member of this group, could put those biases aside, especially in a decision like the one coming up,” said Maura Sullivan, a 46-year-old who was raised in the People of Praise community in South Bend, Indiana. Sullivan identifies as bisexual and recalls coming out to her parents, who were members of the People of Praise, when she was 19.

“They decided that I wasn’t allowed to be around my sister, who was 13 at the time, without them around, because I could ‘influence’ her in bad ways. Stuff like that. So I had a tenuous relationship with my family,” she said. “To be cut off from my family was the ultimate loss of community.” Sullivan and her parents, who are no longer members of the faith group, have since repaired their relationship, she said.

Questions about the People of Praise’s attitude toward LGBTQ+ members and their families, and Trinity Schools’ policies, have resurfaced because the supreme court will hear oral arguments on 5 December in the case of 303 Creative LLC v Elenis.

It centers on a Christian website developer, Lori Smith, who has claimed an anti-discrimination law in Colorado has violated her right to free speech over same-sex marriage, which she says goes against her religious faith. Smith has said the Colorado law has forced her to “create messages that go against my deeply held beliefs” since she cannot legally turn away gay couples seeking her website services.

Barrett said in her confirmation hearing that her personal religious beliefs would not interfere with her abilities to be an unbiased judge. Conservatives have also lashed out against any suggestion that her affiliation with a Christian sect could compromise her independence.

But some former members of the faith group say . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 November 2022 at 4:04 pm

A Revised “Ostrom’s Design Principles for Collective Governance of the Commons”

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Christopher Allen writes at Life with Alacrity:

The traditional economic definition of “the commons” are those resources that are held in common and not privately owned. This is closely related to economic concept of public goods, which are goods that are both non-excludable (in that individuals cannot be effectively excluded from use) and non-rivalrous (where use by one individual does not reduce availability to others).

My own personal definition for the commons is broader — any regenerative, self-organizing complex system that can be drawn upon for deep wealth. These can include traditional commons, such as lumber, fish, etc., but can also include other regenerative systems such as communities, markets, intellectual property, etc.

In 2009, Elinor Ostrom received the Nobel Prize in Economics for her “analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”. In that, she listed 8 principles for effectively managing against the tragedy of the commons.

However, I’ve found her original words — as well as many adaptions I’ve seen since — to be not very accessible. Also, since the original release of the list of 8 principles there also has been some research resulting in updates and clarifications to her original list.

I also wanted to generalize her principles for broader use given my broader definition of the commons, and apply them to everything from how to manage an online community to how a business should function with competitors. I went to the original version, more contemporary research, as well as a number of modern adaptions to define a new set of design principles.

My first draft divided up her 8 principles into 10. I then ran this list by a number of experts in this field, and here is my second draft based on their feedback. This draft in fact breaks up her principles into 12 different ones, but I have retained her old numbering system as there are large number of works that refer to the original 8. In addition, there appears to be some differences in thoughts on number 8, so I’ve included two variations.

Ostrom’s Design Principles for Collective Governance of the Commons

or

How to Avoid the Tragedy of the Commons within Self-Organizing Systems

1A. DEFINE AUTHORIZED USE: The community of those who have the right to use the common resource is clearly defined.

1B. DEFINE COMMONS BOUNDARIES: The boundaries of the commons are clearly defined so as to separate the usage rules from the larger environment.

2A. MAKE COSTS PROPORTIONAL: Costs for using and maintaining the commons are proportional to the benefits that those users receive from the commons.

2B. PAY ALL COSTS: People that use the commons keep costs inside the local system as much as possible. They do not externalize costs either to neighbors or future generations.

3A. DECIDE . . .

Continue reading.

See also a very interesting article by Eula Biss in the New Yorker, The Theft of the Commons.” (no paywall) It begins:

On the train to Laxton I was facing backward, heading south from Scotland, with the fields of England rushing away from me. I searched their dark creases and their uneven hedges for something I didn’t know how to see, something I wasn’t even certain was visible. I was trying to locate the origins of private property, a preposterous pursuit. There in those hedges, I was looking for a living record of enclosure, the centuries-long process by which land once collectively worked by the landless was claimed by the landed. That land already belonged to the landed, in the old sense of ownership, but it had always been used by the landless, who belonged to the land. The nature of ownership changed within the newly set hedges of an enclosed field, where the landowner now had the exclusive right to dictate how the land was used, and no one else belonged there.

From my backward-facing seat, I saw a long stone wall on the crest of a cliff. “The Wall,” John Berger writes, “is the front line of what, long ago, was called the Class War.” Walls, fences, hedges, and ditches were all used to mark the boundaries of enclosed land, so that sheep could be kept there, or some other profit could be pursued. Enclosure is how nearly all the agricultural land in Britain came to be owned by less than one per cent of the population. In “The Making of the English Working Class,” the historian E. P. Thompson writes that enclosure was “a plain enough case of class robbery, played according to fair rules of property and law laid down by a parliament of property-owners and lawyers.”

The pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower were not property owners but economic migrants financed by property owners. They were also communists, in that they agreed to work communally and share the profits of their labor for the first seven years of their settlement, though that agreement did not last beyond the first year. They settled on land held by the Wampanoag people, who did not practice the absolute ownership of land. Among the Wampanoag, rights to use the same plot of land could overlap, so that one family might hold the right to fish in a stream and another might hold the right to farm the banks of that stream. Usage rights could be passed down from mothers to daughters, but the land itself could not be possessed.

I once saw some old suitcases lying open on a museum floor, each full of living sod, the work of the South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere. His art, the museum catalogue explained, was an effort to reimagine deleted scenes from history. Enclosure would seem to be one such scene. Deleted, perhaps, because it unfolded so slowly, in the course of about five hundred years. It began in the Middle Ages and was completed by acts of Parliament in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This land revolution set the stage for the Industrial Revolution. Enclosure, Marx argued, is what produced the landless wage workers who became the proletariat. Historians disagree on that, so it is safer to say that enclosure produced Romantic poetry, a literature marked by nostalgia for a lost world. “All sighed,” the landless poet John Clare wrote, “when lawless law’s enclosure came.”

Clare was a homesick poet, always trying to write himself back to the open fields of his childhood. “Unbounded freedom ruled the wandering scene,” he wrote, “Nor fence of ownership crept in between.” After writing four books of poetry, he was certified insane and admitted to an asylum. But he absconded from the asylum and walked eighty miles back to the place he was from. He slept in ditches and ate grass and believed he was going back to his first love, who was no longer alive. Ever since I saw those suitcases on the museum floor, Clare has walked eighty miles through my mind carrying a suitcase of his native sod.

Laxton is the one remaining village in England that was never enclosed, and where tenant farmers still work the land coöperatively, as they have for at least the past seven hundred years. They use the open-field system, cultivating crops on narrow strips of land that follow the curvature of the hills. There are no hedges or fences between these strips, and working them requires collaboration among the farmers.

In the time before enclosure, shared pastures where . . .

Continue reading. (no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

20 November 2022 at 5:26 pm

Elon Musk is speaking out against government subsidies. Here’s a list of the billions of dollars his businesses have received.

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Jason Lalljee reports in Business Insider:

  • Elon Musk’s companies have received billions in government subsidies over the last two decades.
  • In 2021, Musk has opposed higher taxes for the rich, and said the government shouldn’t control “capital.”
  • He recently said he opposes government subsidies. One of his companies accepted them as recently as April.

The richest person in the world says he doesn’t want any help from the US government, but his companies have actually gotten billions of dollars worth.

Like many other wealthy Americans, Musk has spoken out against a proposed “billionaires’ tax” from Sen. Ron Wyden, writing on Twitter in October that “eventually, they run out of other people’s money, and then they come for you.”

More recently, he spoke out against government subsidies and tax incentives for US businesses. In a recent interview with TIME, he said the government was not a good “steward of capital.”

And at a Wall Street Journal summit this month, Musk said the government should “just delete” all subsidies from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill President Joe Biden recently signed into law. Biden’s bill included $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, which would seem to help one of Musk’s companies, Tesla Motors.

However, over the years, Musk’s companies — Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity — have received billions of dollars from government loans, contracts, tax credits, and subsidies. According to a Los Angeles Times investigation, Musk’s companies had received an estimated $4.9 billion in government support by 2015, and they’ve gotten more since.

Here’s a look at some of the federal and state-level government subsidies that have contributed to building Musk’s empire. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

20 November 2022 at 4:23 pm

Highly processed foods can be considered addictive substances based on established scientific criteria

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Ashley N. Gearhardt and Alexandra G. DiFeliceantonio have an interesting study at Wiley Online Library:

Abstract

Background

There is growing evidence that an addictive-eating phenotype may exist. There is significant debate regarding whether highly processed foods (HPFs; foods with refined carbohydrates and/or added fats) are addictive. The lack of scientifically grounded criteria to evaluate the addictive nature of HPFs has hindered the resolution of this debate.

Analysis

The most recent scientific debate regarding a substance’s addictive potential centered around tobacco. In 1988, the Surgeon General issued a report identifying tobacco products as addictive based on three primary scientific criteria: their ability to (1) cause highly controlled or compulsive use, (2) cause psychoactive (i.e. mood-altering) effects via their effect on the brain and (3) reinforce behavior. Scientific advances have now identified the ability of tobacco products to (4) trigger strong urges or craving as another important indicator of addictive potential. Here, we propose that these four criteria provide scientifically valid benchmarks that can be used to evaluate the addictiveness of HPFs. Then, we review the evidence regarding whether HPFs meet each criterion. Finally, we consider the implications of labeling HPFs as addictive.

Conclusion

Highly processed foods (HPFs) can meet the criteria to be labeled as addictive substances using the standards set for tobacco products. The addictive potential of HPFs may be a key factor contributing to the high public health costs associated with a food environment dominated by cheap, accessible and heavily marketed HPFs.

INTRODUCTION

There is evidence that an eating phenotype exists that reflects the hallmarks of addiction (e.g. loss of control over intake, intense cravings, inability to cut down and continued use despite negative consequences) [1]. Based on meta-analyses, approximately 14% of adults and 12% of children exhibit this addictive-like eating phenotype, commonly called food addiction [23]. Although some have questioned the utility of applying an addiction framework to food intake [47], food addiction is associated with mechanisms implicated in other addictive disorders (e.g. impulsivity, reward dysfunction and emotion dysregulation), as well as a lower quality of life and a poorer response to weight-loss treatments [189]. Controversy exists surrounding the role of the food in triggering this addictive-like eating phenotype. Some propose that it is the act of eating regardless of the type of food consumed that is addicting [10], or that while the type of food is important, it is impossible to classify food as addictive due to the complex nature of foods and the lack of a single addictive agent/compound [45]. Food is necessary for survival and a key evolutionary pressure that has shaped reward and motivation systems across species [1112]. Addictive drugs that deliver high doses of reinforcing substances through rapid delivery systems tap into these systems, potently activate them and can lead to maladaptive patterns of behavior [13]. Highly processed foods (HPFs) are evolutionarily novel products made possible through modern food technology that provide refined and rapidly delivered primary reinforcers, specifically calories in the form of refined carbohydrates and added fats [11416]. The debate that remains concerns whether a refined and optimized delivery system of calories can produce comparative effects to a refined and optimized delivery system of addictive drugs.

The ability to resolve the debate about whether certain foods are addictive is hindered by a lack of identified scientifically based criteria with which to evaluate the addictiveness of certain foods. In contrast, there is a general consensus around the criteria for identifying whether someone is exhibiting an addictive phenotype [17], which has allowed for clearer criteria to guide the investigation into whether certain individuals exhibit addictive-like eating [23]. There is no comparable standard for evaluating if a substance is addictive, which contributes to the conflicting explanations for why certain foods are (or are not) addictive [18].

To allow for progress on this debate, we propose a set of scientifically based criteria for the evaluation of whether certain foods are addictive. Specifically,  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 November 2022 at 12:35 pm

DHS: The Twenty-Year Boondoggle

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I earlier blogged about the counterproductive incompetence manifested by DHS. That turns out to be the tip of the iceberg. Amanda Chicago Lewis reports in The Verge:

Just a week after 9/11, while the country was still reeling, a series of letters began arriving at news organizations and Senate offices. The envelopes were innocuous, indistinguishable from other mail, but inside was a white powder, a rare bacteria that can be fatal if inhaled — anthrax. Five people died, and 17 were sickened in one of the most deadly biological attacks in US history. Yet anthrax had the potential to inflict far more harm: if the spores had been released from a rooftop in downtown Washington, DC, it might have infected hundreds of thousands of people. One letter included the message, “DEATH TO AMERICA,” perhaps indicating more to come. But how could we plan for a silent, odorless killer?

Responding to the universe of new threats facing the country soon became an all-out scramble, consuming the public and the federal government’s attention for several years. The man that President George W. Bush chose to manage America’s preparation for a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incident was a renowned physicist and weapons expert named Penrose “Parney” Albright.

Albright is exactly the kind of guy you’d want in charge of protecting the country from a devastating attack. Known for his candor and ingenuity, he is one of those people with a talent for both hard science and political science. He had excelled at places like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) because he knew how to bring big, complex projects across the finish line.

So as the Bush administration finalized its plans for a new Department of Homeland Security, ultimately bestowing him the title of assistant secretary for science and technology, Albright was alarmed to find that the people around him were not as prepared.

“There was almost nobody in the senior leadership at the Department of Homeland Security who really understood the details of what it took to run a cabinet agency,” he told me. When DHS officially began operations on March 1st, 2003, everything was so haphazard that one undersecretary worked out of a former cleaning closet with a shower curtain for a door. There was no human resources professional to help Albright hire people and no bank account for his budget. When he tried to type out an email, an orange bar would pop up, freezing everything for three to four minutes; DHS employees soon took to calling this the “orange screen of death.”

The dysfunction might have been funny, in a Dilbert-meets-Veep way, if the stakes weren’t so high. Albright was overseeing a project called BioWatch, a system intended to detect traces of biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. Bush described BioWatch in his 2003 State of the Union as “the nation’s first early warning network of sensors,” which would initiate processes to mobilize hospitals, alert the public, and deploy supplies from the national stockpile.

There was only one problem: BioWatch never functioned as intended. The devices were unreliable, causing numerous false positives. “It was really only capable of detecting large-scale attacks,” Albright explained, because of “how big a plume would have to be” for the sensors to pick it up. And the system was prohibitively slow: every 24 hours, someone had to retrieve a filter and then send it to a laboratory for testing, which might then take another 24 hours to discover a pathogen.

“The time required after BioWatch might pick up evidence of a toxin and the time required to get it to somebody who might be able to reach a conclusion there might be a terrorist attack — my God, by that time, a lot of people would have gotten sick or died,” former Senator Joe Lieberman told me.

Albright did his best to make it work. He ramped up  . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article:

. . . These days, the mess at the Department of Homeland Security is one of the only things that all of Washington can agree on. Disliked by both Democrats and Republicans, DHS has metastasized into the worst version of what we imagine when we think of bureaucracy: rigid, ineffective, wasteful, chaotic, cruel. Since its inception, DHS has been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List,” which highlights programs vulnerable to “fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.” It consistently has the lowest morale of any federal agency with more than a thousand employees, according to the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

“It’s like an agency no one wanted and everyone is stuck with,” said Juliette Kayyem, assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at DHS from 2009–2010.

“Even for someone who is kind of cynical, it was shocking,” said John Roth, the DHS inspector general from 2014–2017. “You do a little scratching, and there was just rot underneath.”

We see the downstream effects of the Kafkaesque ineptitude at DHS every day, even if we don’t recognize the connection between headlines about alleged sexual abuse at migrant detention centers, billions of dollars disappearing into fraudulent disaster aid, and the erasure of text messages likely detailing an attempted coup. DHS functions as a loose confederation of subagencies, meaning that the absurdity of security procedures at airports is attributed to the Transportation Security Administration, not to DHS, and the anemic response to Hurricane Katrina was blamed on the Federal Emergency Management Agency, not its parent organization. Yet the tensions between these satellite operations and the cabinet secretary’s headquarters in Washington, DC, are crucial to understanding DHS.

“I would call it unwieldy,” said Kevin McAleenan, who served as acting secretary of homeland security in 2019 after working at the department since it was founded. McAleenan recalled moments when he saw people at headquarters “trying to direct activities they didn’t understand very well and mission sets they weren’t familiar with and legal frameworks they hadn’t studied, and I thought, ‘This isn’t going to work. We’re not going to overcome the problem of expertise or, in this case, the lack of expertise.’”

Some consider the Department of Homeland Security successful because there has not been another major terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11. And it’s true that only about a hundred people have died on US soil from Islamic terrorism in the past two decades. But domestic terrorism and mass shootings are on the rise, with Americans now justifiably afraid of malls, parades, supermarkets, churches, and elementary schools. Militias plot against democracy. A deadly virus has killed over a million Americans. Foreign governments infiltrate social media and snatch our data. Storms and wildfires grow bigger and more frequent every year. Tens of thousands of migrants linger in refugee camps at the southern border. Those that make it across face what one high-level whistleblower called “a system that involves widespread abuse of human beings.”

All of this is under the purview of DHS. . .

Written by Leisureguy

17 November 2022 at 9:07 pm

How to Argue

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More useful videos in this post on Open Culture.

Written by Leisureguy

17 November 2022 at 5:04 pm

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