I suppose it's been fun reading all of those articles about how self-driving taxis were about to be on the road, but the new CW is starting to sink in.
The only escape for Uber imagined by Kalanick was to delete drivers and their wages from the picture through the development of autonomous vehicles. But it is increasingly clear that this is another massive gamble that Uber cannot win, at least not in time to save itself. Most experts, including those previously bullish on self-driving technology such as the Economist magazine, have recognized that autonomous vehicles are at least 20 years from fruition.
Maybe it sinks in just quickly enough to stop the state from making tons of policy decisions based on a fantasy, which is the only reason I've ever cared about this, especially as even if they worked, the self-driving car fantasy of removing the need mass transit was dumber than than the idea that they would work in the first place...
●Gerrymandering: On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal this fall of a lower court ruling that struck down Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn state Assembly map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Over the past three decades, the high court has repeatedly held that partisan gerrymandering could in theory run afoul of the Constitution, but it has never struck down any maps on these grounds because it’s never been able to decide upon a standard for when to do so. If, however, the Supreme Court changes course and sides with the district court, a ruling in this case could establish a sweeping precedent leading to a wave of lawsuits against partisan gerrymanders nationwide.
Republicans aggressively gerrymandered Wisconsin after they gained full control of the state’s government following the 2010 GOP wave. Their Assembly lines were particularly effective: Republicans won a commanding majority in the chamber in 2012 even as Barack Obama carried Wisconsin by seven points and Democratic legislative candidates won more votes statewide than Republicans did. And as shown in the map at the top of this post, Republicans maintained a lopsided 64-35 majority in 2016, despite the fact that Donald Trump won the state by less than one percent of the vote.
While it has regularly invalidated maps for improper racial gerrymandering, the Supreme Court, as noted above, has never struck down a map for excessive partisanship despite 31 years of precedent that partisan gerrymandering could theoretically be unconstitutional. In a 2004 case on this topic, Justice Anthony Kennedy, as the deciding vote, refused to strike down the map at issue on the grounds that it represented an unfair partisan gerrymander. However, Kennedy effectively opened the door for future challengers if they could ever come up with a new standard for evaluating such claims—a standard that would have to satisfy the court’s perennial swing justice.
Continuing to have trouble setting aside time to focus on work with the kids home for the summer.
After taking my mom to her doctor appointment and subsequent errands on Tuesday, I spent most of Wednesday through Friday sick in bed with a fever and sore throat, but no other obvious symptoms. Now I'm finally feeling better, and Robby has decided that since Tropical Storm Cindy's gift of some ridiculous number of inches of soaking rain will prevent him from doing his usual maintenance out at our church this weekend, this is the best time to disrupt the downstairs living area and try to finish constructing Connor's loft bed.
If I didn't have to take the kids to swim lessons today, I'd probably flee to the library and try to get some serious work done. Maybe that strategy will work next weekend, if I can find someplace to go that isn't closed for the holiday.
In other news, Steam is having their annual sale and I've discovered that most of their older LEGO games (pre-Marvel) are PC-only. I really wanted to put the Harry Potter games on my laptop so that I could play them without broadcasting them to the rest of the household. There's also a PC game that Connor wants that is too resource intensive for his poor old gaming PC. But I read on Twitter last night that Starship Titanic is on Steam for $1.49, so I'll get that if nothing else. I've been wanting to play it again ever since I saw Passengers.
I'm also realizing how much cheaper and easier to find the PlayStation 4 is compared to the Nintendo Switch, and that's probably also the better platform to choose if I want to play Kingdom Hearts 3, assuming it ever gets released.
For seven years, House Speaker Paul Ryan and congressional Republicans told us they had “a better way.” Many voters took them at their word. We’re finding now, however, that Republicans had no replacement plan, instead cobbling one together last minute. Most likely, congressional Republicans believed they’d never have to actually repeal Obamacare. I’m betting many of them are praying that enough colleagues oppose the bill so that it simply dies, allowing them to blame Democratic obstruction.
At the end of the day, I don’t want another tax cut at the expense of another father not being able to get his daughter the lifesaving care I was able to provide my daughter. No father should have to choose between back-breaking debt and his child’s life. That is the inevitable result of the Senate proposal.
Republicans need to own the fact they’ve created a monster by lying to the base for the last seven years. They need to come clean. The truth is that they don’t really think this is a good bill. They are afraid of their own voters, to whom they gave a bad idea as a battle cry.
So on the bill, Dean Heller (NV) is a no. a real no. A profile in courage no. And Rs are mad at him. Rand Paul is a probable no (he’s enough of a jerk to do it, to spite his peers). The other conservatives are fake nos. Cruz, e.g., is in it for the attention. Collins and Murkowski? Maybe Murkowski, hard to trust Collins. Flake, Portman? We’ll see but if it fails, it won’t fail by one. None of them have the courage for that.
When each day brings more news than we are used to seeing in a week, and the kind of news that only the most catastrophic imagination can accommodate, we find ourselves talking about the Reichstag fire. Time feels both accelerated and slowed down, and so we imagine that we have been talking about the fire for years. It is the new president’s new clothes: invisible, yet always present in our perception of him.
The Reichstag fire, it goes almost without saying, will be a terrorist attack, and it will mark our sudden, obvious, and irreversible descent into autocracy. Here is what it looks like: On a sunny morning you turn on the television as you make coffee, or the speaker in your shower streams the news, or the radio comes on when you turn the ignition key in your car. The voices of the newscasters are familiar, but their pitch is altered, and they speak with a peculiar haste. Something horrible has happened—it is not yet clear what—and thousands are dead, and more are expected to die. You hear the word “terror.” You feel it. [...]
The actual fire in the Reichstag—the German parliament building—burned on the evening of February 27, 1933. Adolf Hitler had been appointed chancellor four weeks earlier, and already he had begun placing restrictions on the press and expanding the powers of the police. Yet it is the fire, rather than Hitler’s toxic first steps, that is remembered as the event after which things were never the same, in Germany or in the world. [...]
To totalitarianism watchers, Trump’s campaign rallies, which segued into his victory rallies, including his “America First” inauguration, have looked familiar and perhaps more worrisome than an imaginary future fire. To historians of the twenty-first century, however, they will likely look like logical steps from the years of war rhetoric that preceded them, not quantum leaps. A nation can be mobilized only if it knows its enemy and believes in its own peril.
It is not clear how many Germans attended that May Day parade because the spirit moved them and how many were compelled by fear or force. Four and a half decades later, in “The Power of the Powerless,” the Czech dissident Václav Havel described an individual who “lives within a lie,” the lie of the official ideology, without consciously accepting or rejecting it. Totalitarianism robs a person of the very ability to form an opinion.
“In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.”
~Sen. Harry Reid, letter to then-FBI Director James Comey, October 30, 2016
At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—Rove Plays The New McCarthy, GOP Lies About It:
The GOP is flopping around trying to play the denial game on Rove's New McCarthyism. Rove didn't mention Democrats they say. Oh really?
"Moderation and restraint is not what I felt -- and moderation and restraint is not what was called for. It was a moment to summon our national will -- and to brandish steel. MoveOn.org, Michael Moore and Howard Dean may not have agreed with this, but the American people did."
So the DNC Chair is not a Democrat? Fucking liars. But wait it gets better.
Ontoday’sKagro in the Morningshow: The weekend’s here, so let’s get ready for Trump to go nuts. His Bayrock buddies are back in the news. How history dealt with leaders who lose it. Another Qatar backgrounder. Trump’s getting richer off the presidency. And is getting big tax refunds, too?
The Justice Department on Friday petitioned the US Supreme Court to step into an international legal thicket, one that asks whether US search warrants extend to data stored on foreign servers. The US government says it has the legal right, with a valid court warrant, to reach into the world's servers with the assistance of the tech sector, no matter where the data is stored.
The request for Supreme Court intervention concerns a 4-year-old legal battle between Microsoft and the US government over data stored on Dublin, Ireland servers. The US government has a valid warrant for the e-mail as part of a drug investigation. Microsoft balked at the warrant, and convinced a federal appeals court that US law does not apply to foreign data.
The government on Friday told the justices that US law allows it to get overseas data, and national security was at risk.
Donald Trump's White House is positively toxic. Friday's news alone was a tour de force of the all-encompassing virulence that's now seeping from Trump throughout the entire executive branch and everything it touches.
Trump's days start with a crack-of-dawn phone call about everything Russia that's clearly aimed at distracting him and his thumbs from Twitter. Why his aides aren't just jingling some keys in front of him is a mystery, but the call is nothing but a venting session intended to soothe a sulking and brooding pr*sident.
Trump's entirely self-generated Russia predicament apparently has him miffed at his White House counsel Don McGahn. Somehow, McGahn has failed to stop Trump from engaging in a series of self-defeating, ill-advised, impulsive, and often petulant behaviors that have now made him the central focus of an obstruction probe. And make no mistake, that's McGahn's fault in Trump's view.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also causing a bit of consternation at the White House because, instead of hiring every appointee pushed his way, he's been "reviewing candidates" and insisting on a departmental assessment as he reportedly tries to restructure the agency. (Honestly, this news is a bit of a head scratcher since Tillerson helped gut the agency of expertise and has mostly functioned as a Trump minion with respect to Russia.) But whatever the problem with filling positions there, it appears to be a two-way street, with some Tillerson picks being entirely sidelined by the White House (similar to the difficulty Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has experienced with trying to get White House sign-offs on his top posts.)
And then there's Trump's inspirational jabs at his cabinet heads, like when he pantomimed firing his Veterans Affairs chief Friday during a bill signing for the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. At the East Room ceremony, Trump joked with VA Secretary David Shulkin that he was sure the law would be "properly implemented," to which Shulkin responded, "Absolutely."
Smiling, Trump responded, “Better be, David, or …” He then made a pistol with his right hand, aimed it at Shulkin and mouthed his signature words: “You're fired!”
Nothing like a little light humor from someone with sociopathic tendencies.
Rick Perry may now be able to remember the name of his own agency—though we can’t be sure. However, it’s clear that he can’t remember basic science. In a visit to the climate denial promotion zone, also known as CNBC, Perry showed that he was right up there in the clan of Republicans who have taken Trump’s election as an excuse to not just deny that people have anything to do with climate change, but to trash the most basic aspects of why there is climate change.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry made it official on Monday: He denies the science behind human-caused climate change—specifically, the fact that burning fossil fuels increases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, trapping more heat. Asked whether he believes CO2 is “the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate,” Perry replied, “No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”
Those blasted oceans. Always fiddling with the knobs. But Perry’s response didn’t sit well with the people who have to deal with climate’s little brother,the weather.
It is critically important that you understand that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the primary cause [of climate change]. This is a conclusion based on the comprehensive assessment of scientific evidence. It is based on multiple independent lines of evidence that have been affirmed by thousands of independent scientists and numerous scientific institutions around the world. We are not aware of any scientific institution with relevant subject matter expertise that has reached a different conclusion. …
Without this fundamental understanding of science, it is impossible to discuss potential policy changes in meaningful ways.
Perry may need to get his smart glasses to read that one to him. Short version: The weather men say your thinking is mostly cloudy with a 100 percent chance of being wrong.
A federal judge has temporarily halted the Trump regime’s attempt to deport more than 100 Iraqi Christians, mostly Chaldean Catholics, following a class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU. Families, advocates, and experts have argued the deportations back to Iraq would be "like sending cattle to a slaughter”:
The Justice Department had argued that the detainees, including many who were recently rounded up after decades in the United States, must go to immigration court to try to remain in the country, not U.S. District Court. But the American Civil Liberties Union said they might be deported before an immigration judge can consider their requests to stay.
[U.S. District Judge Mark] Goldsmith heard arguments Wednesday. He said he needs more time to consider complex legal issues.
Potential physical harm “far outweighs any conceivable interest the government might have in the immediate enforcement of the removal orders before this court can clarify whether it has jurisdiction to grant relief to petitioners on the merits of their claims,” Goldsmith said.
“The court took a lifesaving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, in response to Judge Goldsmith’s decision. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”
Detroit’s Iraqi community has been rallying for the release of the detainees, some of whom have spent decades in the U.S., others nearly their entire lives:
"My father has been here for almost 30 years. This is my home. This is his home, and this is his country," said 22 year old Rita Ghanam. Ghanam's father Sarmad Ghanam is one of the detainees now awaiting his fate in a prison cell in Youngstown, Ohio.
Ghanam says her father was taken from his home in front of her younger sister on Sunday.
"They're pulling him out and he said 'I just want to kiss my daughter. I might not see her again,' and they wouldn't even allow him to kiss her," said Ghanam.
32TB of unreleased, private Windows 10 builds, along with source code for certain parts of the driver stack, have been leaked to BetaArchive, reports The Register.
The dump appears to contain a number of Windows 10 builds from the development of codenamed Redstone 2. Redstone 2 was released earlier this year, branded as the Creators Update.
Some of these builds are built for 64-bit ARM chips, and some are said to include private debug symbols. Microsoft routinely releases debug symbols for Windows; the symbols contain additional information not found in the compiled Windows binaries that helps software developers identify which functions their code is calling. The symbols normally released are public symbols; while they identify many (though not all) functions and data structures, they don't contain information about each function's variables or parameters. The private symbols, in contrast, contain much more extensive information, giving much more insight into what each piece of code is doing and how it's doing it.
How far will Republicans in Missouri go to push their pro-life agenda? So far it seems, that they are willing to ban women who use birth control from even working. In what can only be described as pure zealotry, Republicans are trying to pass legislation to allow discrimination against women for their personal reproductive choices.
Missouri’s Senate is considering legislation that would allow employers and landlords to discriminate against women who use birth control or have had abortions. The bill, which has the support of the state’s governor, Eric Greitens, was approved by the Missouri House Tuesday.
This is so utterly invasive, bizarre and out-of-control that it almost defies logic. It is absolutely incomprehensible and un-American. Except that Republicans are hyper-obsessed with controlling women’s bodies. So this makes perfect sense according to the puritanical framework from which they operate.
Given the Senate’s vote on June 14, it it seen as likely to approve the updated version of SB 5. This would mean that landlords could refuse to offer housing to women based on their reproductive health choices, while employers could fire female staff members who were using birth control, or refuse to hire them. And while of course this isn't information most landlords or employers have access to, under SB 5 they could ask women what forms of reproductive health care they are using.
Never underestimate the lengths to which Republicans will go to take us back in time. This is positively repugnant. What’s next? Are landlords and employers going to go to the gynecologist with their female employees as well? Are they going to sign off on their pelvic exams and ultra sounds and the like? This is why our choices at the local, state and federal ballot box matter so much. Lawmakers like these should never be allowed anywhere near women—never mind near state legislatures where they can come up with hideous laws like these. If this travesty of a law does pass, let’s hope with all our might that lawyers sue the hell out of the governor and Republicans and take it all the way to the Supreme Court. This is tantamount to punishing women simply for being women and making free choices for themselves.
…It seemed that innovation in mobile devices was beginning to slip away from Silicon Valley…. That all changed abruptly when Steve Jobs stepped onstage at Moscone Center in San Francisco and asserted he was introducing “three revolutionary products” in one package—the iPhone…. Four members of the original development team will discuss the secret Apple project, which in the past decade has remade the computer industry, changed the business landscape, and become a tool in the hands of more than a billion people around the world…
The White House is becoming increasingly frustrated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a close-knit circle of aides over the slow pace of hiring and a chokehold on information and access to Tillerson, according to senior Trump administration officials and others familiar with the rift.
Tillerson simply refuses to put people Trump hasn’t named into jobs he won’t pay for. However, Rex does seem to adding his own layer of molasses to Trump’s slow-down-machine.
Tillerson also sketched a lengthy timeline for his internal review that would include a period of study and planning through 2017 and changes to the department’s structure and staffing next year.
The former Exxon CEO looks to be in no hurry to fill empty posts. So any Trump associates expecting that job as undersecretary of excessive graft should take a nap until … say this time next year.
Naturally, Trump isn’t happy with Tillerson. But then, Trump isn’t happy with Spicer, or Bannon, or Priebus, or anyone else. However, unlike those others, the secretary of State seems to be doing anything but hurrying to make amends with the boss.
Others involved in the process, however, said Tillerson aides have sat on or ignored White House requests for action on personnel.
"Summer starts today! Which used to mean news would slow to a trickle, padded out by gratuitous T&A reports from the beach and stories about skunks with their heads stuck in peanut butter jars. Oh, I miss those days."
"Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell showed us a draft of his top-secret new health care legislation…and wouldn’t you know it, the bill includes a big tax cut for rich people. They're calling the plan 'Better Care.' As in, just imagine how much better this plan would be if the people who wrote it cared."
"The American Health Care Act---an act which answers the question, what if a bus-stop ad for a personal injury lawyer was a health care policy?"
"We don’t know too much about what will be in the final [Trumpcare] bill because all of the negotiations so far have taken place behind closed doors. They even put a sock on the doorknob so no one barges in while they're screwing poor people. It's just polite."
"Today was National Vanilla Milkshake Day. Or as Mike Pence calls it: Spicy Tuesday!”
Your west coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
Donald Trump raised the profile of the FBI's Russia investigation by fueling speculation about whether President Obama wiretapped his phones. He then fired the guy in charge of that investigation, triggering the appointment of a special counsel. He also publicly and privately took steps to stymie that investigation, resulting in a probe into whether he obstructed justice. Now he's losing patience and he knows who the real culprit of his calamity is: White House counsel Don McGahn. Politico writes:
Trump started the week by giving McGahn, a loyal supporter who was among the first Washington establishment figures to sign on with his presidential campaign, a dressing down in the Oval Office for not doing more to squash the Russia probe early on.
The episode — recounted by four people familiar with the conversation — came as part of a broader discussion on Monday about the president’s frustrations with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which now includes the question of whether Trump himself tried to obstruct the investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey.
This is just so laughable. Trump has single-handedly driven this probe, starting with whom he hired to run his campaign to his incessant and incriminating tweets. But somehow McGahn is at fault for not squashing the probe. Perhaps, he should have broken both of Trump's thumbs and flushed his phone down the toilet. That would have been a start.
The Russia probe is now being almost entirely handled by Trump's personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz, while McGahn focuses on things that normal White House counsels do, like vetting appointees and judges and offering legal advice about legislation and executive orders. But by taking aim at McGahn, Trump is once again cutting off his nose to spite his face.
McGahn’s fall from the president’s good graces is particularly noteworthy because he occupies such a crucial role in the White House. He’s one of the few senior members of the administration with Washington chops. As a former commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, longtime campaign lawyer, and former attorney to House Republicans, he knows how to work the government’s levers of power, even if that involves jamming them up.
Donald Trump begins many mornings at 6:30 AM with a call with a member of his Russia defense legal team, according to a new Washington Postreport on Trump’s current emotional state and the latest infighting among his top advisers.
His advisers have encouraged the calls — which the early-to-rise Trump takes from his private quarters in the White House residence — in hopes that he can compartmentalize the widening Russia investigation. By the time the president arrives for work in the Oval Office, the thinking goes, he will no longer be consumed by the Russia probe that he complains hangs over his presidency like a darkening cloud.
It rarely works, however. Asked whether the tactic was effective, one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed.
These are the strategic minds running the White House? People who think that having Donald Trump begin his day by rehashing the thing that makes him most angry will help him set it aside and go on with his day? It’s not working, of course. Boasting 22 sources, because that’s how badly Trump’s team is leaking these days, the article reports that:
Some in the White House fret over what they view as the president’s fits of rage, and Trump’s longtime friends say his mood has been more sour than at any point since they have known him. They privately worry about his health, noting that he appears to have gained weight in recent months and that the darkness around his eyes reveals his stress.