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Our story, integration


In response to two of David Brooks’ columns about “our” problems, 7/23 & an earlier one, I wrote the following. From the recommendations and replies, I gather I’m not the only one who feels this way…

 

Bill Abbott
Oakland California July 23
David,
The “we” you see is not the one I experience. You write,
We post-Cold War Americans haven’t really settled on what story we are a part of.
Really? I’m pretty clear what story I’m part of. Objective truth exists and is important. We are measured by how we treat the least among us. Science works because it is based on reality. Hope can overcome fear. Do unto others as we wish to be done to ourselves. The challenges we face mean we have no-one to waste, yet too many people are poor, marginalized and left behind. Women’s rights are human rights. Black lives matter. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Love wins. We don’t educate our neighbor’s children because of charity, we educate them because we will have to live with them. We are not perfect, we have never been perfect, but we can always get better. That’s my story. That’s the story of my country, and of humans in general.
The first President I voted for was Jimmy Carter, in 1976. I’m still waiting for a Republican I could vote for to appear on a ballot. Any ballot. Local, State or Federal.
In an earlier column, you wrote, “As a nation we seem to have lost all enthusiasm for racial integration.” Maybe that’s true for you. Its not true for me, or my friends, or our kids, or the cities and states we live in. Come visit us in Oakland. We are still working on it. Its hard work, that doesn’t mean its not the right goal.
Bill
546 Recommend
6 REPLIES
Mark Thomason commented July 24
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Mark Thomason
Clawson, MIJuly 24
@Bill Abbott — Not everywhere is California. To win, we need the politics of the Venn Diagram overlap. I don’t devalue what you say, nor what is said in other regions. I say there is enough in common to make a politics that will resonate with a majority of voters, without using hate and fear.
2 Recommend
TinyBlueDot commented July 24
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TinyBlueDot
AlabamaJuly 24
@Bill Abbott
Mr. Abbott, please consider running for office in some capacity. Your remarks are clear, intelligent, and convincing. And I agree with every word you wrote, perhaps especially the line, “We are measured by how we treat the least among us.”
Recommend
Leslie Durr commented July 24
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Leslie Durr
Charlottesville, VAJuly 24
@Bill Abbott Brooks isn’t talking to you or to many of us. He’s talking to the disaffected white people who have been co-opted by the Republicans to ‘look over there, not over here.’ And, yes, some of them actually read the NY Times.
Recommend
Au Gold commented July 24
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Au Gold
New Jersey, USAJuly 24
@Bill Abbott Well said!
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Pete Hollister commented July 24
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Pete Hollister
Oregon WIJuly 24
What a great comment. Bravo!
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Leslie Durr commented July 24
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Leslie Durr
Charlottesville, VAJuly 24
@TinyBlueDot We really need people like you who resonate with Bill Abbott’s words in places like Alabama to run; Oakland already has it down pat.
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The roots of “Enhanced Interrogation”


Since WWII, the United States forces have conducted one or another form or what’s now called SERE, “Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape”, training. The obvious intent is to prepare those going in harm’s way, particularly operating in or flying over enemy territory. Aircraft crash, or get shot down; unplanned and unforeseen events occur whenever service people are in enemy territory. Knowing how to shelter, hide, escape, fight back and resist interrogation are teachable skills and our services teach them.

SERE materials were at least one point of departure for the Bush II administration’s immoral and counter-productive “enhanced interrogation technique” debacle. None of the chicken-hawks in the Bush II administration had faced hostile fire or been trained to resist interrogation. But if you looked for experience and systematic application of illegal and immoral treatment to hostile captives, in the US Defense complex, you’d quickly find the Resistance training and the simulated interrogations.

And de-briefing of survivors of real interrogations by the bad guys, of course.

The simulated interrogations in SERE training should have taken in all that they could from real experience. And SERE would have training material explaining to the interrogators: what to do, how to do it, where our “bright lines” are, etc. Also, serious, real, experience of how the training interrogations were applied to our own people, how effective they were, what techniques we taught to oppose interrogation etc.

A number of people would have been derelict in their duty if all the records, training materials, etc, didn’t exist, and it would have been further dereliction if this stuff wasn’t brought out when “W” and Cheney wanted to throw out the rule book and start abusing prisoners. At least I hope so.

But there’s one other thing about SERE that poorly supports being used for enhanced interrogation techniques. Getting “actionable intelligence” is a goal of any interrogation, but North Vietnam, North Korea and Iraq were fighting propaganda wars as well as shooting wars, and they really wanted their captives to confess their “crimes” to the international media. Even after the length of their captivity made any factual revelation of limited value, fake confessions to evil intent and behavior were highly desired. No doubt SERE prepared trainees for this as well. Thus SERE interrogators weren’t just trying to get actionable intelligence, they were also trying to coerce fake confessions. Coercing fake confessions wouldn’t be any benefit if applied to “high value” al-Qaeda or ISIL captives. We wanted to know what they knew, not force them to say what we wanted to hear.

Whether the SERE playbook separated interrogation for facts from “interrogation” to coerce lies, the fact is that the two activities were NOT separated, in practice, by our enemies. How well our nation’s intelligence folks separated before they were tried on random victims isn’t something I expect I’ll ever know. And I’m biased against “enhanced” techniques, I confess that. But I can’t believe that either copying our enemies, or the nastiest people we could ask, or using part of SERE’s play book, would lead to anything additional to what conventional, well-understood, interrogation as practiced, without “enhancement”, would yield.

 

Tami Wilson


via Tami Wilson

I am shocked! Shocked! Common, racist, assertions, don’t appear to be supported by facts:


I was wading through comments on poorly edited, badly structured, opinion piece in the online New York Times and I found this familiar line of baloney in a comment.

“Me”, below, claims: “whites do NOT commit the majority of car jackings, robberies, muggings, murders”.

So I ran a quick look at real data from the FBI. No surprise, 2 of these 4 claims are hard to credit, the statement about robbery appears to be true, and, for murders, no group commits the majority. Blacks are the majority of murder victims. All in 2015. I’m going to check some other years learn more, and will post more here.

There are no discrete “car jacking” or “mugging” statistics, but Assault, Motor Vehicle Theft and Kidnapping would seem a fair approximation. The vast majority of all three are committed by whites.

Here’s my comment in context: Response to racist baloney . Or you can read it here:

“For 2015: https://ucr.fbi.gov/nibrs/2015/resource-pages/nibrs-2015_summary_final-1… 

The majority of murder VICTIMS are black. and a plurality of killers. I expect whites are the majority of killers of other whites.
Homicides:
of whites: 2101; of blacks: 2254; of other/unknown: 152
by whites: 2104; by blacks: 2507; by other/unknown (rounded) 603

Whites are NOT the majority of robbers, and blacks are:
Robbery:
of whites: 45,812; of blacks: 26,861; of other/unk (rnd): 5000
by whites: 26,369 of blacks 64,636; by other/unknown (rounded) 9,850

Assaults: Majority white and white
against whites: 799,095, against blacks, 352,449, against other/unk (rnd): 58,000
by white: 678,428 by blacks 413,872; by other/unknown (rounded) 81,000

Motor vehicle theft: Majority white and white
against whites: 118,314; against blacks 35,644, other/unk: (rnd) 14,000
by whites: 45,791 by blacks 21,544; by other/unknown (rounded) 37,000

Kidnapping/abduction: Majority white and white
of whites, 11,883, of blacks 4,175; by other/unk (rounded) 850
by white: 10,188 by blacks 6,299; by other/unknown 1,175

“Me” also claims “Mass shootings are extremely rare” – depends on how you define “mass shooting” and “rare”. We have a LOT of shootings and multiple victims are often hit.”

 

For thoughts on the original piece, “White Nationalism Is Destroying the West”, in general, see: Somebody has to say these things… or read it here:

“There are steps, small or large, still steps, between anti-immigrant positions, anti-Muslim positions and white nationalism. What, then, is the point of this poorly edited opinion piece? That anti-immigrant movements are a fertile recruiting ground for white nationalists? True, and hardly worth this much close reasoning. That Muslims are the stated, rejected, “Other”, but that white nationalism threatens Western liberalism in general? We’re past that point when discussing anti-Semitic advertising in Hungary. Asserted and accepted. Please go on. 

The last three paragraphs probably should be the first three, and then some support for the assertions in those paragraphs mustered as the body of the piece. As it stands ‘Western” variously means Europe, or Europe and America, and that is probably Europe and the United States of America. Canada dismissed as just more Europeans and Mexico omitted entirely.

Or, is “West” shorthand for “Western Democracy”? What about all the other democracies in the world that aren’t in Europe or even North America? Brazil? South Africa? Japan? South Korea? ( added after submitting to NYT: India? Pakistan? Australia? New Zealand? Argentina? Ghana? etc. etc. etc. )

Since the writer takes their definition of “West” and “White Nationalism” seriously, perhaps they could state and defend their definition, on the way to broader points. Supporting “White nationalism is in many ways a mirror image of radical Islamism.” would be a good start.”

 

 

 

Has anyone else seen this problem? Here’s a link to a web site:


link to list of fake news sources

https://docs.google.com/document/d/10eA5-mCZLSS4MQY5QGb5ewC3VAL6pLkT53V_81ZyitM/preview

It messes up mightily in Facebook.

Ms Trump’s speech, Ms Obama’s speech, discuss.


Here you go, then. The beginning of Ms. Trump’s speech from last night, and Ms. Obama’s speech from 8 years ago. The repeated parts are the beginning and end of a nice paragraph, in Ms. Trump’s first page, Ms. Obama’s 2nd page (3.5 vs 6 pages, total).  I note that Ms. Trump describes what her parents taught her, without reference to her spouse, while Ms. Obama describes something she and her spouse have in common. There’s also a desirable sentence in Ms. Obama’s original which Ms. Trump, significantly, does not claim. Giving credit to people you don’t know or don’t agree with isn’t really Mr. Trump’s “thing”. Ms. Trump might claim it for her parents or herself, but bringing it up in the context of her husband doesn’t do him any favors.

I’ve included Ms. Trump’s 2nd page because I found the her remark about Mr. Trump’s loyalty rather, uh, unexpected. With all due respect, nobody’s 3rd spouse, after 2 divorces, can really attest to someone else’s “loyalty”. IMHO.

Both speeches are worth reading, what you get here is the context for the sound bytes that are easy to find tonight. Go watch or listen to the complete works, they’re worth your time.

Ms Trump: Thank you very much. Thank you. You have all been very kind to Donald and me, to our young son Barron, and to our whole family. It’s a very nice welcome and we’re excited to be with you at this historic convention. I am so proud of your choice for President of the United States, my husband, Donald J. Trump. And I can assure you, he is moved by this great honor. The 2016 Republican primaries were fierce and started with many candidates, 17 to be exact, and I know that Donald agrees with me when I mention how talented all of them are. They deserve respect and gratitude from all of us. However, when it comes to my husband, I will say that I am definitely biased, and for good reason. I have been with Donald for 18 years and I have been aware of his love for this country since we first met. He never had a hidden agenda when it comes to his patriotism, because, like me, he loves this country so much. I was born in Slovenia, a small, beautiful and then communist country in Central Europe. My sister Ines, who is an incredible woman and a friend, and I were  raised by my wonderful parents. My elegant and hard-working mother Amalia introduced me to fashion and beauty. My father Viktor instilled in me a passion for business and travel. Their integrity, compassion and intelligence reflect to this day on me and for my love of family and America. From a young age, my parents impressed on me the

values that you work hard for what you want in life: that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise; that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily life. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son, and we need to pass those lessons on to the many generation to follow. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them. (Ms Trump repeated this about here. It’s not in the transcript.)

I travelled the world while working hard in the incredible arena of fashion. After living and working in Milan and Paris, I arrived in New York City twenty years ago, and I saw both the joys and the hardships of daily life. On July 28th, 2006, I was very proud to become a citizen of the United States — the greatest privilege on planet Earth. I cannot, or will not take the freedoms this country offers for granted. But these freedoms have come with a price so many times. The sacrifices made by our veterans are reminders to us of this. I would like to take this moment to recognize an amazing veteran, the great Senator Bob Dole. And let us thank all of our veterans in the arena today, and those across our great country. We are all truly blessed to be here. That will never change.

I can tell you with certainty that my husband has been concerned about our country for as long as I have known him. With all of my heart, I know that he will make a great and lasting difference. Donald has a deep and unbounding determination and a never-give-up attitude. I have seen him fight for years to get a project done — or even started — and he does not give up! If you want someone to fight for you and your country, I can assure you, he is the ‘guy’. He will never, ever, give up. And, most importantly, he will never, ever, let you down. Donald is, and always has been, an amazing leader. Now, he will go to work for you. His achievements speak for themselves, and his performance throughout the primary campaign proved that he knows how to win. He also knows how to remain focused on improving our country — on keeping it safe and secure. He is tough when he has to be but he is also kind and fair and caring. This kindness is not always noted, but it is there for all to see. That is one reason I fell in love with him to begin with. Donald is intensely loyal. To family, friends, employees, country. (A 3rd wife would know…) He has the utmost respect for his parents, Mary and Fred, to his sisters Maryanne and Elizabeth, to his brother Robert and to the memory of his late brother Fred. His children have been cared for and mentored to the extent that even his adversaries admit they are an amazing testament to who he is as a man and a father.   [snip]

 

Ms Obama: As you might imagine, for Barack, running for president is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother, Craig. I can’t tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I’ve felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life.

At 6-foot-6, I’ve often felt like Craig was looking down on me too … literally. But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, he wasn’t looking down on me. He was watching over me. And he’s been there for me every step of the way since that clear February day 19 months ago, when — with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change — we joined my husband, Barack Obama, on the improbable journey that’s brought us to this moment. But each of us also comes here tonight by way of our own improbable journey.

I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend. I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president. I come here as a mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world — they’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future — and all our children’s future — is my stake in this election. And I come here as a daughter — raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue-collar city worker and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

My dad was our rock. Although he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early 30s, he was our provider, our champion, our hero. As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on.

He never stopped smiling and laughing — even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier and worked a little harder.

He and my mom poured everything they had into me and Craig. It was the greatest gift a child can receive: never doubting for a single minute that you’re loved, and cherished, and have a place in this world. And thanks to their faith and hard work, we both were able to go on to college. So I know firsthand from their lives — and mine — that the American dream endures.

And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he’d grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine. He was raised by grandparents who were working-class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same

values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them. 

And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to the work he’d done when he first moved to Chicago after college. Instead of heading to Wall Street, Barack had gone to work in neighborhoods devastated when steel plants shut down and jobs dried up. And he’d been invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community.
The people gathered together that day were ordinary folks doing the best they could to build a good life. They were parents living paycheck to paycheck; grandparents trying to get by on a fixed income; men frustrated that they couldn’t support their families after their jobs disappeared. Those folks weren’t asking for a handout or a shortcut. They were ready to work — they wanted to contribute. They believed — like you and I believe — that America should be a place where you can make it if you try.

Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “The world as it is” and “The world as it should be.” And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and settle for the world as it is — even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations. But he reminded us that we know what our world should look like. We know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves — to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?

It’s the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls, in town squares and high school gyms — people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had — refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals. [snip]

 

 

Gavin Green remembers CAR journalist Russell Bulgin by CAR Magazine


Gavin Green remembers CAR journalist Russell Bulgin by CAR Magazine.

Russell Bulgin was a terrific automotive writer who also covered bicycles beautifully. A graceful and wide ranging writer, he died at a very young age, in 2002. If you’ve never read his stuff, search it out. I found out about him when his work started appearing in Autoweek, but he’d been in CAR and other publications years before that.

A sad loss, but someone I was glad to have shared the planet with.

You could do worse than starting with Mr. Green’s write up, but do search out Bulgin’s cycling work too!

Bill