Archive for Parties
A variant of that question is “Why don’t they do something?” That’s an even bigger joke line here, mostly because it evokes that old song from David Crosby. The now-standard rejoinder is, “Who are They? And on what streets do They live?” Maybe we can ask them.
Last month I brought you the tale of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council’s online poll for naming a new research vessel:
The NERC announced the online voting contest to name the nearly $300 million boat to be launched in 2019 recently, and the leading vote-getter so far is the simple but silly “Boaty McBoatface.”
Uri Friedman of the Atlantic considers the outcome and what it says about democracy:
The boat, which is really a ship, acquired new significance this week, when a British official suggested he wouldn’t respect the results of an online government poll in which more than 124,000 people voted to christen the country’s new $300-million research vessel “Boaty McBoatface.” The name received three times more votes than the runner-up entry. The people of the Internet had spoken emphatically, and they’d spoken like a five-year-old.
Critics now call the so-called “bathroom bill” aimed at his gay and transgender constituents a radical Trojan Horse for eliminating anti-discrimination protections in the workplace. Since McCrory signed the bill passed during a one-day, special session Republicans called in March, prominent businesses began boycotting the state, canceling expansions and conventions there, and national performers such as Bruce Springsteen began canceling concert dates. Projected job losses number well over 1,000. Revenue losses have not been calculated. It’s almost as if … they designed HB2 to fail.
The national and international backlash forced McCrory yesterday to sign an executive order aimed at quelling the controversy over the bill he signed just weeks ago:
— Boston Globe Opinion (@GlobeOpinion) April 9, 2016
This morning the Boston Globe offers a glimpse into President Donald Trump’s America with a mocked-up front page illustrating the kind of stories we could expect if Trump were elected president. Stocks plunge, trade wars loom, and “riots continue” over mass deportations.
I ask because two of the biggest brands in the current race for president offer different versions of “purity.” Both offer themselves as outsiders untainted by party corruption. Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders sell themselves as immune from being bought by big-money interests. Trump because he has billions of his own and Sanders because, you know, $27 and no super PAC. Both offer themselves as political outsiders, although Trump has the better claim to that. Sanders, the independent who has been in Congress since 1991, offers himself as an alternative to party Democrats.
But a recent story about Trump illustrates the downside of that outsider status when mounting a revolt against the status quo. Trump was flummoxed upon learning that despite beating Ted Cruz in Louisiana, Cruz might come out with more delegates.
Just to show you how unfair Republican primary politics can be, I won the State of Louisiana and get less delegates than Cruz-Lawsuit coming
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2016
Here’s the crux of it:
President Obama took Senate Republicans to school yesterday in a speech at the University of Chicago Law School where he taught constitutional law for a dozen years. He spoke on the intransigence of Senate Republicans in refusing to give a hearing to his Supreme Court nominee, Illinois native Merrick Garland:
“If you start getting into a situation where the process of appointing judges is so broken, so partisan, that an eminently qualified jurist cannot even get a hearing, then we are going to see the kind of sharp partisan polarization that has come to characterize our electoral politics seeping entirely into the judicial system …”
“That erodes the institutional integrity of the judicial branch. At that point, people lose confidence in the ability of the courts to fairly adjudicate cases and controversies. And our democracy cannot afford that …”
But Carlyle labeled the science “dismal” when writing about slavery in the West Indies. White plantation owners, he said, ought to force black plantation workers to be their servants. Economics, somewhat inconveniently for Carlyle, didn’t offer a hearty defense of slavery. Instead, the rules of supply and demand argued for “letting men alone” rather than thrashing them with whips for not being servile. Carlyle bashed political economy as “a dreary, desolate, and indeed quite abject and distressing [science]; what we might call … the dismal science.”
Today, when we hear the term “the dismal science,” it’s typically in reference to economics’ most depressing outcomes (e.g.: on globalization killing manufacturing jobs: “well, that’s why they call it the dismal science,” etc). In other words, we’ve tended to align ourselves with Carlyle to acknowledge that an inescapable element of economics is human misery.
With Congress gridlocked and a majority of state legislatures controlled by right-wing interests, cities have become laboratories of democracy for progressive policies like a higher minimum wage, LGBTQ protections, or parental leave.
In response, corporate interests and groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have increasingly been turning to state “preemption” measures—some of them unprecedentedly aggressive—to override an array of progressive policy gains at the city or county level.
“2015 saw more efforts to undermine local control on more issues than any year in history,” said Mark Pertschuk, director of the watchdog group Preemption Watch.
Last year, state legislatures in at least 29 states introduced bills to block local control over a range of issues, from the minimum wage, to LGBTQ rights, to immigration, according to Preemption Watch. Seventeen states considered more than one preemption bill.
House Bill 2 (HB2), North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law is drawing lots of fire from inside and outside the state. New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and West Palm Beach have banned travel to North Carolina for their employees. Apple, Biogen, PayPal, IBM, and the NBA have condemned the law. Plus Dow Chemical, Google, Bayer, the NCAA, and others. The press center for the annual High Point furniture trade show announced Monday that “dozens of customers have contacted the High Point Market Authority to inform us that they have cancelled plans to attend the Market in April due to passage of HB2.”
Yesterday, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr. criticized HB2 as “inappropriate, unnecessary legislation that will hurt North Carolina.” The Charlotte-based Bank of America was a major player in the financial crisis in 2008, but still figures prominently among the state’s employers. McColl’s criticism will not help McCrory, Charlotte’s former mayor.
New Yorker tells the sad tale of the latest failed experiment in AI. Apparently (I missed it), Microsoft last week rolled out a twitter bot named Tay:
Tay is an artificial intelligent chat bot developed by Microsoft’s Technology and Research and Bing teams to experiment with and conduct research on conversational understanding. Tay is designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation. The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized for you.
Tay is targeted at 18 to 24 year old in the US.
Uh-oh. You don’t have to be Mary Shelley to see where this is going. After barely a day of “consciousness,” Microsoft pulled Tay’s plug.
Anthony Lydgate explains: