November 2017 Archives


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Charles Bethea's New Yorker piece on GOP pedophile Roy Moore discusses "the early eighties, when Roy Moore was, many people say, a regular visitor to the [Gadsden] mall:"

This past weekend, I spoke or messaged with more than a dozen people--including a major political figure in the state--who told me that they had heard, over the years, that Moore had been banned from the mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls. Some say that they heard this at the time, others in the years since. These people include five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees. (A request for comment from the Moore campaign was not answered.)

"Gadsden's current law-enforcement community," the New Yorker continues, "could not confirm the existence of a mall ban on Moore:"

But two officers I spoke to this weekend, both of whom asked to remain unnamed, told me that they have long heard stories about Moore and the mall. "The general knowledge at the time when I moved here was that this guy is a lawyer cruising the mall for high-school dates," one of the officers said. The legal age of consent in Alabama is sixteen, so it would not be illegal there for a man in his early thirties to date a girl who was, say, a senior in high school. But these officers, along with the other people I spoke to, said that Moore's presence at the mall was regarded as a problem. "I was told by a girl who worked at the mall that he'd been run off from there, from a number of stores. Maybe not legally banned, but run off," one officer told me. He also said, "I heard from one girl who had to tell the manager of a store at the mall to get Moore to leave her alone."

The second officer went further. "A friend of mine told me he was banned from there," he said. He added, "I actually voted for Moore. I liked him at one time. But I'm basically disgusted now, to be honest with you.

Rude Pundit attempts to shame Moore's fellow Republicans by pointing out that "You are at a crossroads right now with the candidacy of Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate. As of now, Moore is accused of:"

  • Forcing a 14-year-old girl to fondle his dick through his underwear while he fondled her through hers.
  • Trying to force a 16-year-old girl to give him a blow job in his parked car.
  • Skeeving on teenage girls so much as a 30something year-old man that a mall in Gadsden, which, c'mon, Alabama, that is pretty much the Alabama-est place in Alabama (except for maybe Dothan), that people talked about Moore being banned from the place in the early 1980s.

"It's a gut check, Alabama," he writes:

You can prove everyone wrong, or you can just keep being fuckin' Alabama, with your shit education system, your shit health care, your shit economy, and your shit government.

Of course, Trump has a tweet for the occasion:

@rexrode_lisa "@realDonaldTrump you date girls young enough to be your daughter.That's perverted" Dated. No, that's talent. -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2013

As the piece asks, "Is it possible, though, that Trump is as bad, if not worse, than Moore?"

After Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was finally publicly outed after decades of alleged sexual abuses toward women, a #metoo hashtag formed and a dam broke. Suddenly it seemed that every time we turned on our computers, every time we received a phone alert, it was yet another man outed as an abuser.

The worst of the worst of sexual abusers, though, are those who abuse children. Roy Moore, the right-wing Christian nut-job who's running for Senate in Alabama has been accused of doing just that. Five women have now come forward alleging that Moore "dated" them and worse while they were teens and he was in his 30s.

Samuel Warde also mentioned Trump's tweet:

However, in the midst of all the drama surrounding the Moore accusations - an extremely awkward 2013 tweet by Trump has resurfaced in which he appears to be bragging about the "talent" behind his ability to date women younger than his daughter.

"Trump had bragged to Howard Stern," Warde reminds us, "about walking in on contestants as the owner of the Miss USA pageant:"

"I'll go backstage before a show, and everyone's getting dressed and ready and everything else. And you know, no men are anywhere. And I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant. And therefore I'm inspecting it," he told Stern, adding: "Is everyone okay? You know they're standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that."

Trump is much like Roy Moore--they're both skeevy creeps, just fishing in different ponds.

alternative history

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Chris Zappone brings us more "cultural Marxism" hogwash [see here and here for background], this time from Australia. "The good news is that 'cultural Marxism' isn't real," Zappone continues, but "The bad news is that people believe it is anyway:"

"Cultural Marxism" is a viral falsehood used by far-right figures, conspiracy theorists, and pundits to explain many ills of the modern world.

Zappone then gives us some history:

A search of archives shows right wing columnist Andrew Bolt first mentioned it in his writing in 2002. [...] A 2003 article from the US-based Southern Poverty Law Centre described cultural Marxism as a "conspiracy theory with an anti-Semitic twist" that was then "being pushed by much of the American right".

"In a nutshell, the theory posits that a tiny group of Jewish philosophers who fled Germany in the 1930s and set up shop at Columbia University in New York City devised an unorthodox form of 'Marxism' that took aim at American society's culture, rather than its economic system," the report states.

"Like a conspiracy theory," Zappone points out, "cultural Marxism gains its power from its ability to be applied broadly to many aspects of modern life:"

The willingness of swaths of the public to accept such views also reflects unease over real-world issues like economic uncertainty, fears of terrorism, and anxiety with demographic change.

The nature of information and views shared on social media means even things that never happened can become a political issue if enough people agree they exist.

I'm not at all interested in hearing the Right's alternative history--it's not any closer to reality than their "alternative facts" are.


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The "perpetual grievance state" of Southern whites has led to absurdity, reports C&L:

In a new poll from Winthrop University, 46% of white Southerners said they agree or strongly agree that white people are under attack in the U.S.

Conservatives have made a type of backlash politics their cornerstone for many years and this new poll exemplifies how they live in a constant perpetual state of white grievance.

"They live off their feelings of victimization and persecution at the hands of the left," the piece observes:

AM talk radio's mission statement is not to discuss policies or politicians, but to make their listeners hate the left so much that they would rather vote for a pedophile than a Democrat.

Sometimes, their persecution complex becomes ludicrous:

Yes, they hold all the cards in Congress and in the White House, but as usual, they are always the aggrieved party and always oppressed by the media.


Caitlin Flanagan discusses how we're reckoning with Bill Clinton's sex crimes, and expresses dismay at "How vitiated Bill Clinton seemed at the last Democratic convention:"

Bill's being a grandfather was intended to send a different message: don't worry about him anymore; he's old now. He won't get into those messes again.

Yet let us not forget the sex crimes of which the younger, stronger Bill Clinton was very credibly accused in the 1990s.

Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, and Kathleen Willey are all familiar names:

It was a pattern of behavior; it included an alleged violent assault; the women involved had far more credible evidence than many of the most notorious accusations that have come to light in the past five weeks. But Clinton was not left to the swift and pitiless justice that today's accused men have experienced. Rather, he was rescued by a surprising force: machine feminism. The movement had by then ossified into a partisan operation and it was willing--eager--to let this friend of the sisterhood enjoy a little droit de seigneur.

No tolerance, right?!

NSA's TAO work

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Cybersecurity expert Jake Williams writes about the NSA for the NYT:

Mr. Williams had written on his company blog about the Shadow Brokers, a mysterious group that had somehow obtained many of the hacking tools the United States used to spy on other countries. Now the group had replied in an angry screed on Twitter. It identified him -- correctly -- as a former member of the National Security Agency's hacking group, Tailored Access Operations, or T.A.O., a job he had not publicly disclosed. Then the Shadow Brokers astonished him by dropping technical details that made clear they knew about highly classified hacking operations that he had conducted.

America's largest and most secretive intelligence agency had been deeply infiltrated.

"They had operational insight that even most of my fellow operators at T.A.O. did not have," said Mr. Williams, now with Rendition Infosec, a cybersecurity firm he founded. "I felt like I'd been kicked in the gut. Whoever wrote this either was a well-placed insider or had stolen a lot of operational data."

"The jolt to Mr. Williams from the Shadow Brokers' riposte was part of a much broader earthquake that has shaken the N.S.A. to its core," the piece continues:

Current and former agency officials say the Shadow Brokers disclosures, which began in August 2016, have been catastrophic for the N.S.A., calling into question its ability to protect potent cyberweapons and its very value to national security. The agency regarded as the world's leader in breaking into adversaries' computer networks failed to protect its own. [...]

And there is broad agreement that the damage from the Shadow Brokers already far exceeds the harm to American intelligence done by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who fled with four laptops of classified material in 2013.

"At the heart of the N.S.A. crisis is Tailored Access Operations, the group where Mr. Williams worked," the article explains:

T.A.O.'s most public success was an operation against Iran called Olympic Games, in which implants in the network of the Natanz nuclear plant caused centrifuges enriching uranium to self-destruct. The T.A.O. was also critical to attacks on the Islamic State and North Korea.

It was this arsenal that the Shadow Brokers got hold of, and then began to release.

Like cops studying a burglar's operating style and stash of stolen goods, N.S.A. analysts have tried to figure out what the Shadow Brokers took. None of the leaked files date from later than 2013 -- a relief to agency officials assessing the damage. But they include a large share of T.A.O.'s collection, including three so-called ops disks -- T.A.O.'s term for tool kits -- containing the software to bypass computer firewalls, penetrate Windows and break into the Linux systems most commonly used on Android phones.

Evidence shows that the Shadow Brokers obtained the entire tool kits intact, suggesting that an insider might have simply pocketed a thumb drive and walked out.

But other files obtained by the Shadow Brokers bore no relation to the ops disks and seem to have been grabbed at different times. Some were designed for a compromise by the N.S.A. of Swift, a global financial messaging system, allowing the agency to track bank transfers. There was a manual for an old system code-named UNITEDRAKE, used to attack Windows. There were PowerPoint presentations and other files not used in hacking, making it unlikely that the Shadow Brokers had simply grabbed tools left on the internet by sloppy N.S.A. hackers.

There may be a foreign connection:

Lurking in the background of the Shadow Brokers investigation is American officials' strong belief that it is a Russian operation. The pattern of dribbling out stolen documents over many months, they say, echoes the slow release of Democratic emails purloined by Russian hackers last year.

economic games

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The Atlantic looks at very bad arguments for killing the estate tax, and observes that "this little law [about $20 billion this year in federal revenues] inspires a great commotion during each tax debate:"

To its opponents, it is the ultimate (literally) punishment on success and an affront to the family legacy that each striving individual hopes to leave. To its supporters, it is a necessary bulwark against inherited plutocracy, which offends the national virtue of merit over privilege.

The "death tax" misnomer has "succeeded in persuading many Americans that the law threatened upper-middle class families:"

In a 2001 Gallup survey, 17 percent of Americans said they feared they owed estate taxes, at least eight times higher than the actual figure. From a marketing perspective, this was quite brilliant.

From a descriptive standpoint, it was quite misleading. To the extent that the estate tax is a "death tax," it is the least effective tax ever devised--not because it fails to discourage death, but because it fails, even more basically, to tax it. In 2013, 2.6 million people died. Fewer than 5,000 of them had taxable estates. That means, each year, the so-called death tax fails miserably in its job, missing more than 99.8 percent of the year's deaths.

"The idea that the estate tax is destroying the lives of thousands of ordinary family farmers is an urban legend (or, technically speaking, a rural legend)," the piece continues:

In the early 2000s, the American Farm Bureau Federation failed to name a single example of a farm lost to the estate tax. This year there are fewer than 100 farms in the U.S. that will owe any estate tax in the U.S., according to TPC estimates. Their average tax rate will be approximately 6 percent.

Corey Robin explains how Trump's fantasy capitalism undermines the GOP's tired economic arguments:

Already, Republicans have all but abandoned one of their traditional hobbyhorses: the need to reduce the debt and the deficit. Despite the fact that the GOP tax plan would add some $2 trillion to the national debt, Republicans have barely batted an eye. The truth is, being in the red is something the GOP raises concerns about only when Democrats are in power, as an argument against spending on social programs.

"Trump himself," reveals Robin, "may be an even deeper problem with this argument:"

The reactionary Keynesian believes government should put cash into the hands of the investor class because they are the most talented, visionary, and worthy. We know they are worthy because they are rich; the market wouldn't have rewarded them if they weren't deserving of reward. Markets discipline everyone, the idea goes, imposing obstacles and challenges that only the very best can overcome. But Trump tells a completely different story.

Trump, it hardly need be said, is no critic of capitalism. He champions property and profit, and celebrates wealth--especially his own. Capitalism is more than an economic system for Trump. It is a space of revelation, the place where men announce and disclose who they are--winners and losers, successes and failures.

"Trump is happy to enrich the one percent," Robin continues, "himself included:"

Not because he truly believes that the rich are the most deserving, or because he believes they will create jobs and drive economic growth. But simply because, to him, the economy is a game, and he likes to win.

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