September 22, 2017

A Modestly Humane Proposal

Clearly the the vast majority of Puerto Ricans need a haven to retreat to while their island undergoes the months of massive repairs recently made necessary by Hurricane Maria. I suggest that Texas is the ideal repository for the two million or so displaced Puerto Ricans the storm has left in its wake. Texas is the largest state with the largest population and by far the largest economy of any of the states within hailing distance of Puerto Rico, and thus best suited for the admittedly burdensome task of providing services for this unexpected addition to its population.

Relocating a few million Puerto Ricans to Texas on humanitarian grounds for the next few years would be in the best interests of our nation. We should support any effort to further this end.

September 08, 2017

Capitalism 101

Joseph Loughran is listed president of the opaquely named US information solutions, a division of Equifax, the credit score people.

On July 29 of this year, it became apparent that a security breach had allowed outsiders months of access to Equifax's consumer credit information, files on somewhere in the neighborhood of 145 million Americans, containing pretty granular stuff collected by Equifax to create a baseline for deciding if a given consumer is good for another round of credit.

On September 7, Equifax publicly admitted the breach, causing its stock to dive.

On August 1, on the other hand, Joseph Loughran, the president of US information solutions, sold what Equifax stock he owned for $584,099.

September 05, 2017

DACA

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel. Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.

Barack Obama, President

Multiple Pinocchios Cannot Tell Half The Politicfacts Of It

Reviewing these first months of the Trump presidency calls to mind this previously posted photo, sharing a ruinousness between them.

Mostly Harmful

September 03, 2017

Walter Becker, February 20, 1950 – September 3, 2017

Admittedly the locus classicus of the musical trend lampooned so fondly by Yacht Rock, Walter Becker's band Steely Dan placed more and more layers of sonic embroidery on their recorded music as the years went by, not allowing an aural cranny to be overlooked where a pair or so of complementary arpeggios might comfortably fit. The marvel is that with Becker and Donald Fagan and half the sessions musicians in LA working on the Steely Dan product, they managed to pull together so many wonderfully accomplished pieces.

August 31, 2017

Good Dog

Sugar the Dog, R.I.P.

August 29, 2017

The Quality of Mercy

Trump's pardon of Joe Arpaio interrupts an ongoing judicial process in federal court involving the ex-sheriff and, well, the federal court itself.

Arpaio's trouble was caused by his flouting the federal court's direct instructions: the court told "Sheriff Joe" what he needed to do and what he needed to stop doing, and he ignored the court and went on doing things the cruel stupid way he'd been doing them for years.

Implicit in Trumps' act was the assumption that the executive's Article II pardoning power in this case is inherently greater than the adjudicating powers of the judiciary under Article III.

Now, a presidential pardon may apply balm to the lash of criminal guilt that attaches to the individual accepting it, but a pardon does not carry with it the power to deny the court, the federal third-branch-of-government court in particular, any level of review, and indeed judgement, it should chose to bestow on the matter. That's not something it's in the power of the pardon to stop.

“He was extremely distressed with the mischaracterization of the conviction,” [Arpaio's attorney] Goldman said. “It was extremely hurtful and upsetting to him that it was being reported that he was convicted of racial profiling."

“The sheriff is not a racist and has never been a racist, and any type of such accusation was upsetting and extremely distressing to him,” Goldman said.

The racial profiling lawsuit was brought in civil court by the American Civil Liberties Union. The judge trying that case not only found that Arpaio's policies constituted racial profiling, he also found Arpaio to be in civil contempt of court and referred him to another judge for the criminal contempt.

—Kiefer and Wingett Sanchez, Judge won't vacate former Sheriff Joe Arpaio's contempt conviction without oral arguments, AZCentral.com, August 29, 2017.

In this nation it is enough to be a lifelong avowed racist and commit treason in defense of slavery to qualify for a statue downtown celebrating the noble Southern heritage of, well, racism and treason.

Arpaio's racism of the deed was duly noted by the court, which, according to his attorney, distresses Sheriff Joe. Admitted racism has become déclassé. What a difference a civil war makes.

August 28, 2017

Politifaction

In the first eight months of the Trump presidency, norms are being violated so frequently that it's hard, in the inevitable glare of the next new enormity in line, to pay particular attention to the fine spreading network of cracks accumulating in the body politic as a result of all this malignant activity.

August 22, 2017

On Many Sides. Many Sides

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn resigned his position as special adviser to President Donald Trump on Friday, saying he didn’t want “partisan bickering” to cloud the work of the administration.

—David Benoit, Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2017

Carl Ichan did what he came to Washington to do, and having done it, smartly absconded.
Cleverly, the WSJ's story of Ichan's perceived conflict of interest swallows itself into visual nothingness, Cheshire-Cat-like before the eye of the beholder

August 18, 2017

When Life Imitates Wes Anderson

At the start of the Great Depression in 1929, Maria Theresa engaged two people presenting themselves as "Colonel Townsend" and "Princess Baronti" to sell the necklace for US$450,000. Realising that the current economic conditions would make it almost impossible to reach the asking price, the pair began offers at $100,000, signing on Archduke Leopold of Habsburg, the destitute grandnephew of Maria Theresa, to vouch for the necklace's authenticity. Deals were negotiated with the jewelers Harry Winston and Harry Berenson, but eventually the pair sold the necklace to David Michel of New York City for $60,000, of which the pair claimed $53,730 as expenses. When informed of the sale, Maria Theresa took the matter to court, eventually resulting in the recovery of the necklace, the jailing of Archduke Leopold, and the flight of Townsend and Baronti from the authorities.

The Napoleon Diamond Necklace

August 17, 2017

The Evolution of the Psychology of Water Cooler Chat From Quip to 30-Page Exegesis 1870-2017

Now that the proposed country-wide March on Google has been postponed in the aftermath of Charlottesville, it may be useful to spend time otherwise wasted paying attention to that by reading a take on the situation from Daniel Davies at Crooked Timber.

August 15, 2017

Call the Ad Council

This ad is chasing me around the internet, the one in the rectangle below Don Baylor's stats, the one that asks "What is x if the square root of the sum of x and 15 added to the square root of x is revealed to be 15?"

This is a relatively trivial math problem and I'm not sure why brilliant, its creator, thinks I care enough about mathematics to want to be asked about it over and over, but brilliant's ad team keeps planting it on pages I'm visiting.

So enough. Stop. 49. Let it rest.

He Is Unfit to Be President

Let's hear it for the 25th Amendment.

August 08, 2017

Diplomacy!

"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen... he has been very threatening beyond a normal state. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before," he said.

Immediately following this pronouncement, North Korea let it be known it's seriously considering a strike on Guam, a major American presence in East Asia.

So, President Trump warned the North Koreans that a nuclear holocaust awaited them if they made any more threats, and immediately North Koreans responded by doing just that.

This is what's known as calling a bluff in diplomacy.

August 07, 2017

Surreal Estate News

Go ahead, pay $90,000 for an acre or so of San Francisco. Hijinks ensue.

July 23, 2017

Post Lateral Left

It’s also worth noting that for all their fame, not only did Berkman really accomplish nothing but Goldman didn’t either. They never connected with actual workers movements, nor did they become involved in the IWW, which certainly welcomed leading anarchists as organizers and propagandists. They were independent operators and are massively overrated as historical figures, especially Goldman, who used her fame to give speaking tours that made her a good bit of money and avoided the hard work of organizing.

—Eric Loomis, Lawyers, Guns & Money, July 23, 2017

Being massively overrated is the thing about historical figures, though. The underrated go unreported, as they say.

July 22, 2017

American Modal is Ordinal Number to Noun

American Might Is Second To None

American Shant is Fourth with a bullet

American Ought is Fifteenth and dropping.

July 03, 2017

Breaking Science Update

The Higgs boson is too evanescent to ever be glimpsed directly. The Higgs boson may be detected by carefully examining its remains. Its prior existence is inferred from its wrack.