Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fake academic publishing spam: Sociology Mind edition

My faithful correspondent, Asafa Jalata, editor of the SCIRP  fake academic publication: Sociology Mind (does anybody even know what that title is supposed to mean?), writes me again today. Nothing special---Jalata, who seems still to be on the sociology faculty at the University of Tennesee Knoxville, just wants to let me know what his fake academic journal lists as articles it has published and that he'd be happy to receive paper submissions from me. Why I am on his list, I don't know: I'm not a sociologist, and have never published anything resembling sociology. On the other hand, I guess, in some sense, I have, and thereby know something about minds. So I know my own, which tells me to put this email in my junk folder.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Schumer gun rights video "too dark" to air

 Paul Ryan is whining about last week's sit-in, which deprived him  and his caucus of needed peace when they ignored popular demand to pass common sense gun restrictions.  Paul, it is time to put on your big boy pants and answer your phone. The universe is calling to tell you that it is time to regulate gun sales

Meanwhile, Amy Schumer released a video, not shown on her show, because it was "too dark", meaning "true". It points out that unlike everyone and just about everything else in the US, gun manufacturers and dealers are immune from lawsuits. Congress, under George W Bush, granted the industry special rights in 2005, and the rest of us are shit out of luck, to quote Schumer's  video below:

Inside Amy Schumer

Update: The Hill reports that Ryan might allow a vote involving gun legislation,  though it is unclear what that legislation involves.

Foreign fundraising felonies: Trump edition

Donald Trump put his son in charge of email fundraising, and the evidence is that Donnie Jr. may be in over his head. His operation sent out a spate of emails which ended up in spam folders, and then another round that went to members of the British parliament. Let Josh Marshall take it from here:
Accepting contributions from foreign nationals is illegal of course though in this case it seems more a matter of incompetence than criminal intent, as though Trump has bought his email list not for a party list vendor but maybe from a Nigerian email scammer. In any case, it's not just the UK. It turns out some or perhaps all members of the Icelandic parliament have also receiving fundraising emails from the Trump campaign asking for money.
Imagine what a proud moment this is for you as an American (from the IcelandMonitor ...)
At least three prominent Icelandic politicians have received an e-mail from US presidential candidate Donald Trump asking for money to fund his campaign. Leader of the Left-Green Alliance Katrín Jakobsdóttir was one of those to receive the e-mail yesterday afternoon, in which Trump pledged personally to match any donation made in the next 48 hours from his own pocket.
“I’m fighting back against Crooked Hillary and her pathetic cronies, as well as the dishonest liberal media, and I need your help,” reads the e-mail.
Or here, another bewildered Icelandic MP is quote in Iceland Magazine ...

“I have no idea why he emailed me the letter,” MP Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, a member of the Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) and one of the emails recipients, told Morgublaðið newspaper. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, head of the Left Green Party, received an email from Trump. “This whole matter is very perplexing. The letter left me speechless,” she said.
Late Update: And bizarrely enough, there's more. Trump has apparently also been hitting up the entire Australian parliament for contributions ...
Perhaps little Donnie was unaware that it is illegal to accept political contributions from non-US nationals.

Update: Not only did Trump spam the entire Icelandic parliament, Josh Marshall reports:
I've now confirmed that Trump and sons have also been sending emails to all the MPs in Australia and Denmark. I have unconfirmed reports that MPs in Canada also received them. Indeed, Labor MP Tim Watts of Australia tells me he's gotten a flood of emails from the Trump's asking for money to defeat Crooked Hillary.
Now, you're likely asking: what on Earth is going on here? Obviously, it is strictly against US election law to receive campaign contributions from foreign nationals. I suspect knowingly soliciting them is likely also illegal. And when you're soliciting money from foreign parliamentarians it's probably a pretty good bet they're not US citizens. But obviously, as big as a buffoon as Trump is, and as crooked as he is, there's no possible way his campaign is intentionally soliciting small donor contributions from members of foreign parliaments. Somehow this must be incompetence in how they bought their email solicitation lists. But how?
Candidly I didn't know you could easily buy the email list of all members of the Icelandic parliament. But it seems like you can.
Now a few people suggested that maybe someone was just pranking Trump - going to the website and signing up various foreign parliamentarians and dignitaries. But this seems far too systematic for that. It does appear to be every member of each parliament. You'd need to collect each email and then manually add them in on the Trump website, somehow get them to confirm the opt-in confirmation email. It's too complicated. These are lists that were almost certainly added from within the campaign.
The only plausible answer seems to be that the Trump campaign either dealt with a sloppy or disreputable list broker or was so desperate after its horrible May FEC report was released that it went to a broker and just said they wanted every list and they'd sort it all out later. I confess that both scenarios seem a little farfetched. But some version of one of them basically had to happen, unless there's a prankster actually inside the campaign.
To give another example, I heard this morning from a Democratic Senate Chief of Staff who also got the emails. Folks like that get fundraising emails from everyone under the sun. No surprise. But he told me he never gets them at his email. And it's obvious why. You're not allowed to do that and it's the easiest thing in the world to scrub a list of all the .gov addresses.
Another update: fair election groups will file a complaint with the FEC.  Given its track record, expect a response in 2031.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Trump supporters more likely to have racist attitudes

File this under: no shit, sherlock:
Supporters of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump are more likely to describe African Americans as "criminal," "unintelligent," "lazy" and "violent" than voters who backed some Republican rivals in the primaries or who support Democratic contender Hillary Clinton, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.
Ahead of the Nov. 8 election to replace Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, the poll also showed significant numbers of Americans in both the Republican and Democratic parties view blacks more negatively than whites, harbor anxiety about living in diverse neighborhoods and are concerned that affirmative action policies discriminate against whites.
Republicans in the survey expressed these concerns to a greater degree than Democrats, with Trump supporters presenting the most critical views of blacks. 
The Reuters/Ipsos poll asked people to grade whites and blacks on a series of personal traits. The results were then analyzed to compare how each respondent rated whites with how they rated blacks.
In nearly every case, Trump supporters were more likely to rate whites higher than blacks when their responses were compared with responses from Clinton supporters.
    For example, 32 percent of Trump supporters placed whites closer to the top level of "intelligence" than they did blacks, compared with 22 percent of Clinton supporters who did the same.
About 40 percent of Trump supporters placed whites higher on the "hardworking" scale than blacks, while 25 percent of Clinton supporters did the same. And 44 percent of Trump supporters placed whites as more "well mannered" than blacks, compared with 30 percent of Clinton supporters.
  It's just one survey, but I'm guessing these results, unlike most, would be reproducible. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Supremes: abortion restrictions require evidence

Whodda thunk it---3 years later, Wendy Davis is vindicated, and the anti-abortion laws in Texas and 7 other states voided.
The US supreme court on Monday struck down one of the harshest abortion restrictions in the country and potentially paved the way to overturn dozens of measures in other states that curtail access, in what might be the most significant legal victory for reproductive rights advocates since the right to abortion was established in 1973.
The 5-3 ruling will immediately prevent Texas from enforcing a law that would have closed all but nine abortion clinics. But in a coup for abortion rights supporters, the court also in effect barred lawmakers from passing health measures backed by dubious medical evidence as a way of forcing large numbers of abortion clinics to close.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the opinion for the majority and was joined by justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, andAnthony Kennedy, whose support was key to determining if the liberal or conservative bloc of the court would prevail.
“We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes,” Breyer’s opinion read. “Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access … and each violates the Federal Constitution.”
The case began in 2013, when Texas Republicans, on the heels of an 11-hour filibuster by state senator Wendy Davis, passed one of the most expansive abortion restrictions in the country. The bill, known as House Bill 2, requires abortion providers to have staff privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic and requires clinics to meet expensive, hospital-like building and equipment standards.
Lawmakers claimed these were critical safety measures. But abortion providers argued that HB 2 was a gambit designed to shut clinics down in large numbers. On the day the admitting privileges requirement took effect, in November 2013, the number of Texas abortion clinics plummeted from 41 to 22. Today, there are 18. Had the requirement for clinics to meet hospital-like rules gone into effect, another nine would have shut down. Last year, the four liberal justices plus Justice Anthony Kennedy blocked that requirement until the court could resolve the case.
Around the country, highly similar laws in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin threatened to shutter another 13 abortion clinics.
Monday’s ruling could give abortion providers in those states ammunition to have those laws struck down in the lower courts.
This is key:
On Monday, the majority ruled that courts should in fact scrutinize the medical evidence behind burdensome abortion restrictions.
This can devastate the full spectrum of bogus anti-abortion laws, including the cruel and unnecessary vaginal probe ultrasounds for early abortions required by many states. (The Pennsylvania version never passed. Nonetheless, the anti-abortionists in the state house never give up and just passed this:)

Friday, June 24, 2016


 I don't usually rely on J.K.Rowling for political insight, but I think her tweet summed things up very nicely:
Scotland will seek independence now. Cameron's legacy will be breaking up two unions. Neither needed to happen.
Plus there is the matter of Ireland:
The demand will be loud and instant for Scotland to assure its own destiny by breaking free of the UK. This is precisely the kind of “material change” that the Scottish National party always said would be enough to warrant a second referendum to follow the one held in 2014. And this time, surely, there will be a majority for independence. So a first legacy of 23 June could well be the imminent break-up of the UK.
The implications will be profound for Northern Ireland too. The return of a “hard border” between north and south imperils a peace that was hard-won and too often taken for granted. Note this morning’s warning from Sinn Féin that the British government has “forfeited any mandate to represent the economic and political interests of people in Northern Ireland”.
And for all we can tell from the rumblings of nativist parties in Europe, the EU itself might collapse from further copycat votes in Italy, France, the Netherlands.

It's hard to believe but now easier to imagine that the possible twin collapse of the UK and the EU was instigated by a craven British upper-class twit of a politician aiming to gain a temporary advantage in an intra-party fight.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"The Speaker's mailbox is not answering": #No bill no break

Straight outta Congress.

 Ryan and his crew slunk away in the night, adjourning several days early in order to avoid dealing with gun legislation. I don't know what this shows, or what it portends, but this is worth watching. Also worth phoning your congressperson.

btw---I've called Paul Ryan's offices in DC and WI, only to get a recording telling me: "The speaker's mailbox is not answering": a perfect metaphor for his refusal to consider gun control legislation.

Fact checking Trump

Yesterday, Trump read a speech from a teleprompter, and NPR has done a remarkable job fact checking it. Some excerpts of their annotated transcript below:
This includes fixing all of the many disaster trade deals. And they are disastrous. They are destroying our country. Because it's not just political system that's rigged, it's the whole economy.
It's rigged by big donors who want to keep wages down.
[Trump himself has said during this cycle that wages are "too high." He said it in a November debate in response to a question about raising the minimum wage, then repeated the point the next day on MSNBC's Morning Joe. Since then, he has walked that comment back, telling Meet The Press' Chuck Todd in May, "I have seen what's going on. And I don't know how people make it on $7.25 an hour." He added he would like to see an increase, but that states — not the federal government — should do it. — Danielle Kurtzleben]
It's rigged by big businesses who want to leave our country, fire our workers, and sell their products back into the U.S. with absolutely no consequences for them.
[Donald Trump has expressed great outrage over trade deals leading to the offshoring of American jobs. But when it comes to his own Trump-branded products, the vast majority are made overseas. — Tamara Keith]
It's rigged by bureaucrats who are trapping kids in failing schools. It's rigged against you-the American people. Hillary Clinton and as you know, most people know, she's a world-class liar. Just look at her pathetic email server statements, or her phony landing.
Or her phony landing in Bosnia where she said she was under attack. And the attack turned out to be young girls handing her flowers. A total and so - Look, this was one of the beauts. A total and self serving lie.
[The Washington Post Fact Checker did an excellent piece on this. And, yes, it was a four-pinocchio whopper. In AP video from the time, she does appear to be holding a bouquet of flowers. — Tamara Keith]
Brian Williams' career was destroyed for saying less.
[Brian Williams did lose his post as anchor of NBC Nightly News, the network's signature program. He's now an anchor on MSNBC. Their inaccurate claims about being under fire in aircraft were remarkably similar. — Tamara Keith]
Just remember that.
Yesterday, she even tried to attack me and many businesses.
[True, she did. — Tamara Keith]
But here, and this is the way it is, is bottom line. I started off in Brooklyn, New York, not so long ago, with a small loan and built a business that today is worth well over 10 billion dollars.
[It depends on your definition of small. Trump says the loan was $1 million, which by most standards is not small. Additionally, the Washington Post fact checker finds that Trump benefited from significantly more help than that from his father, a successful real estate developer. — Tamara Keith]
And that's the kind of thinking we need in our leadership of our country. I've always had talent for building businesses, and importantly, for creating jobs. That's a talent our country desperately needs. I'm running to end unfairness and put you the American worker first. It's about time.
We're going to put America first. And we're going to make America great again. This election will decide whether we are ruled by the people or by the politicians.
Here is my promise to the American voter.
If I'm elected President, I will end the special interest monopoly in Washington D.C. Very important.
[Donald Trump has said that he loves "the idea of campaign finance reform" and regularly decries the influence of money in politics, but he has yet to outline how he would "end the special interest monopoly in Washington, D.C." His website does not list campaign finance reform, money in politics or checking the influence of lobbyists in the section devoted to issues. His campaign chairman Paul Manafort was formerly a partner in a successful lobbying firm. — Tamara Keith]
The other candidate in this race has spent her entire life making money for special interests. And I will tell you, she's made plenty of money for them. And she's been taking plenty of money out for herself. Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and even theft. She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund, doing favors for oppressive regimes. And many others, and really, many, many others in exchange for cash. Pure and simple folks. Pure and simple.
Then when she left she made $21.6 million giving speeches to Wall Street banks and other special interests. And in less than two years secret speeches that she doesn't want to reveal under any circumstances to the public. I wonder why. Together she and Bill made $153 million giving speeches to lobbyists, CEOs, and foreign governments in the years since 2001.
[According to CNN, the Clintons did earn $153 million in speaking fees since 2001. Bill Clinton earned the bulk of that money. Hillary earned $21.7 million TOTAL. According to CNN it was just $1.8 million — still not tiny — which came from big banks. It's unclear where the rest came from (Trump would argue it was all some sort of "special interest") but it seems the bulk was not from Wall Street, as Trump is clearly implying. — Will Huntsberry]
Our country will be better off when we start making our own products again. Bringing our once great manufacturing capabilities back to the shores.
[According to a report from Michael Hicks, Ball State professor, 9 out 10 manufacturing jobs have been lost to mechanization, not trade policies. "No matter how you measure it, 2015 was the record year for manufacturing production in the USA. Right now manufacturing in Indiana and the USA is at record levels. There's no ambiguity on this... To be sure, our trade deficits have cost us manufacturing jobs. The high-end estimates are that today we have 1.5 million fewer manufacturing jobs across the nation because of foreign trade. All the other 6 million or so lost manufacturing jobs are due to mechanization, better technology and better production practices. Today's typical factory workers make twice as much 'stuff' in an hour as they did in 1977. For every manufacturing job lost to trade, nearly 9 have been lost to machines. But trade also creates jobs. We have 7 million more transportation and logistics jobs alone, likely attributable to trade since the 1970s." — Will Huntsberry]
I mean we have to bring our manufacturers back to the United States. Desperately needed. Desperately we need those jobs. And we need it even from our psyche.
One of the really great things and one of the first major bills that George Washington signed. Was amazing when I saw this for first time. The encouragement and protection of manufacturing in America. Our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, warned us by saying: The abandonment of the protective policy by the American government will produce want and ruin among our people. In other words, we have to protect our country. I have decided and visited cities and towns across America, all across America. And seen the devastation caused by the trade policies of BIll and Hillary Clinton. And it's total devastation. All over New York. All over Pennsylvania. All over New England. All over the country.
Hillary Clinton supported Bill Clinton's disastrous and totally disastrous NAFTA. Just like she supported China's entrance into the World Trade Organization.
[It's very hard to tease out the exact effects of NAFTA because of the many economic factors at play. However, by several nonpartisan analyses, it is not "disastrous." In 2003, the Congressional Budget Office characterized the 1994 agreement as having a "very small positive effect on U.S. gross domestic product." A 2015 study from the Congressional Research Service likewise characterized the effect on the economy as "relatively small" and also noted that it's difficult to put exact numbers on the effect. They added, "In reality, NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters."
One additional bit of context: It's true that trade deals, broadly speaking, are sometimes disastrous on the micro level — that is, a trade deal can be disastrous for a person whose job is moved to another country. But on the macro level, trade deals often provide broader, less readily visible benefits (like cheaper goods for U.S. consumers). — Danielle Kurtzleben]
We've lost nearly one-third of our manufacturing jobs since these two Hillary-backed agreements were signed.
[U.S. employment in manufacturing has dropped by 27 percent since January 1994 when NAFTA took effect. Since 2010 jobs in manufacturing have seen a slight uptick. — Tamara Keith]
Among the worst we've ever done. Among the most destructive agreements we've ever signed.
Our trade deficit with China soared 40 percent during Hillary Clinton's time as Secretary of State. A disgraceful performance for which she should not be congratulated but rather scorned.
[The U.S. trade deficit with China grew by approximately 39 percent from 2009 to 2012, the years that Clinton was secretary of state. However, it would be hard to put much responsibility for U.S. trade policy and the imbalance on the secretary of state. — Tamara Keith
As the AP pointed out when Trump attacked Clinton on the U.S.'s trade deficit with China, "In her role as the nation's top diplomat, Clinton had no direct control over the difference in the cost of U.S. imports from China versus its exports to the nation. — Danielle Kurtzleben]
Though I was not in government service, I was among earliest to criticize the rush to war. And yes, even before the war ever started.
[Politifact has rated this claim as False, saying they "didn't find any examples of Trump unequivocally denouncing the war until a year after the war began." In fact, in Sept. 2002 he told Howard Stern, "Yeah, I guess so" when questioned as to whether he supported the invasion of Iraq. — Jessica Taylor]
But Hillary Clinton learned nothing from Iraq. Because when she got into power she couldn't wait to rush us off to war in Libya. She lacks the temperament and the judgement and the competence to lead our country. She should not be president under any circumstances.
In the words of Secret Service agent posted outside the Oval Office. Somebody that saw her a lot.
[According to a Politico report, the Association of Former Agents of the United States Secret Service has put out a statement questioning whether that agent could possibly have been stationed where he said he was stationed, and whether he could have seen what he claims. — Tamara Keith]
And knows her probably better than almost anybody. 'She simply lacks the integrity and temperament to serve in the office. From bottom of my soul, I know this to be true. Her leadership style, volcanic, impulsive, disdainful, and disdainful of the rules, set for everyone else hasn't changed one bit.'
Perhaps the most terrifying thing of Hillary Clinton's foreign policy is that she refuses to acknowledge the threat posed radical Islam.
In fact, Hillary Clinton supports a radical 550 percent increase in Syrian refugees coming into the United States. And that's an increase over President Obama's already high number.
[Politifact has rated this "mostly true" — Clinton said during a Sept. 2015 appearance on Face the Nation that she wanted to increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed in to somewhere between 10,000 to 65,000 people In 2015, the U.S. allowed in about 2,000. So that would be more than a 500 percent increase. — Jessica Taylor
As NPR's Michele Kelemen has recently fact-checked, the high number of refugees that Trump claims the Obama administration is allowing into the country is described as more of a trickle by activists working on behalf of refugees. -Arnie Seipel]
Under her plan, we would admit hundreds of thousands of refugees from the most dangerous countries on Earth with no way to screen who they are, what they are, what they believe, where they come from.
[This repeats a claim that Trump made in is speech right after the Orlando attacks, which was false. There is indeed a lengthy system in place, which begins with the UN identifying people as refugees. Their names and fingerprints are then run through criminal and terrorism background checks, and are cross-referenced with classified material. The entire process takes about one to two years. — Jessica Taylor]
Already, hundreds of recent immigrants and their children have been convicted of terror activity inside the United States.
[A 2015 Migration Policy Institute study found that just three resettled refugees had been arrested on terrorism charges, though this depends on the definition of "refugee" — for example, they did not count the Tsarnaev brothers of the Boston Marathon bombing because they had been brought to the U.S. as kids after their parents had been granted asylum. Politifact found that "about 140 migrants have been charged with or are credibly believed to have been involved in jihadist extremist activity in the United States since the World Trade Center attacks. Some number more — up to a maximum of 184 additional individuals — are children of immigrants" Those are incomplete, so it's unclear how large the numbers are. — Jessica Taylor]
The father of the Orlando shooter was a Taliban supporter from Afghanistan. One of the most repressive anti-gay and anti-woman regimes on earth.
[In an interview with CNN, the shooter's father condemned the Taliban, and CNN reported that one of the quotes where it seemed he had sympathized with the terrorist group had been mis-translated. He called these groups "the enemy of humanity." — Jessica Taylor]
This is just a taste. Read the whole annotated transcript here. But his closing is a thing of ---well, it's a thing:
Americans, Americans, the people that we love. Americans. America first. Make our country great again. Americans are going to start believing in the future of our country.
We are going to make America rich again.
We are going to make America safe again.
We are going to make America great again. And great again for everyone. Everyone. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much everybody. I appreciate it.