Sunday, April 29, 2018

Last Call For The Wolf Among The Sheep

The White House Correspondents' Dinner did have a comedian last night, Michelle Wolf, and she unloaded on Trump, the press, and the whole nine yards in the most brutal takedown since Colbert.

Do watch the whole thing, it's hysterical.

Here's your money quote though:

“You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you use to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric. But he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster and now you’re profiting off of him. And if you’re going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money because he doesn’t have any.”

Needless to say, the Sunday shows have been howling all day about this.  Hit dogs holler the loudest. But as Steve M. points out, Wolf's real accomplishment was upstaging Donald Trump.

Since Trump descended that escalator in 2015, no one's managed to upstage him -- except a comedian who was as harsh and vulgar as he is.

Clinton aide Philippe Reines told us last month that the Democrats should run someone in 2020 who'll get down and dirty the way Trump does, who'll be as brazen and uncensored. Last night suggests that he has a point -- except that nearly all the coverage of Michelle Wolf is negative.

So you can't seize attention from Trump except by being Trump, but if you are Trump, they'll slam you. You can't win.

Democrats need to keep that in mind.  No matter what the Dems' message is in 2020, it will be drowned out by the Trump Show.  "Hillary Clinton didn't have a platform" was the biggest lie of 2016, and I expect the same will be true of the Dem running in 2020.  The media certainly didn't care.  What they cared about was Trump, because Trump sold copy, commercials, and clicks.

Clinton wasn't news until she lost.

Looking Through The Genes Catalog

Last week an arrest was made in the 40-year old Golden State Killer case, and it seems like one of America's most notorious unsolved serial killers was nabbed thanks to DNA evidence.  But that evidence meant California investigators went through commercial DNA databases from online genealogy companies to catch a killer, and not through criminal databases. 

Police may have their man, but at what cost to the rest of us in an era where data privacy already is greatly flawed and companies have, and own, your genetic information?

No one has thought about what are the possible consequences.”The trail of the Golden State Killer had gone cold decades ago. The police had linked him to more than 50 rapes and 12 murders from 1976 to 1986, and he had eluded all attempts to find him. 
In the years since, scientists have developed powerful tools to identify people by tiny variations in their DNA, as individual as fingerprints. At the same time, the F.B.I. and state law enforcement agencies have been cultivating growing databases of DNA not just from convicted criminals, but also in some cases from people accused of crimes. 
The California police had the Golden State Killer’s DNA and recently found an unusually well-preserved sample from one of the crime scenes. The problem was finding a match. 
But these days DNA is stored in many places, and a near-match ultimately was found in a genealogy website beloved by hobbyists called GEDmatch, created by two volunteers in 2011. 
Anyone can set up a free profile on GEDmatch. Many customers upload to the site DNA profiles they have already generated on larger commercial sites like 23andMe. 
The detectives in the Golden State Killer case uploaded the suspect’s DNA sample. But they would have had to check a box online certifying that the DNA was their own or belonged to someone for whom they were legal guardians, or that they had “obtained authorization” to upload the sample. 
“The purpose was to make these connections and to find these relatives,” said Blaine Bettinger, a lawyer affiliated with GEDmatch. “It was not intended to be used by law enforcement to identify suspects of crimes.”

But joining for that purpose does not technically violate site policy, he added.
Erin Murphy, a law professor at New York University and expert on DNA searches, said that using a fake identity might raise questions about the legality of the evidence. 
The matches found in GEDmatch were to relatives of the suspect, not the suspect himself. 
Since the site provides family trees, detectives also were able to look for relatives who might not have uploaded genetic data to the site themselves.
On GEDmatch, “it just happens they got lucky,” said Dr. Ashley Hall, a forensics science expert at the University of Illinois in Chicago. 
23andMe has more than 5 million customers, and has 10 million. But the DNA in databases like these are relevant to tens of millions of others — sisters, parents, children. A lot can be learned about a family simply by accessing one member’s DNA. 
“Suppose you are worried about genetic privacy,” Ms. Murphy said. “If your sibling or parent or child engaged in this activity online, they are compromising your family for generations.”

If I'm DeAngelo's defense attorney, I'm moving to have all this DNA evidence tossed on on that technicality.  And even though from a genetic perspective, I'm adopted and I'd like some genetic testing done for the possibility of hereditary diseases, I'm loathe to do so for exactly these reasons.

It's a lot to think about in the era of privacy.  When I was in school the Human Genome Project was just getting underway.  20 years later we have commercial DNA databases with millions of subjects.  It's something that needs regulation, and fast.  It doesn't meet the Dr. Ian Malcolm test:

"Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

We've got to get a handle on this fast, because it's going to be used again, and quickly.  The intersection of Silicon Valley tech, police investigation, and data privacy is already a massive trainwreck.

Sunday Long Read: Rebuilding In Boise

Idaho, like nearly all of the Rocky Mountain states, flipped heavily to Trump and the GOP in the last six years (and even then Colorado is purple at best).  Democrats have been all but wiped out between the Mississippi River and the West Coast, and the Gem State is no exception. 

Coming out of the wilderness and getting back to the kind of balance that brought Western Dems to power won't be easy, but in this state, there's at least one candidate who isn't waiting around and wants to surf the blue wave right into the Governor's office.

Shake Paulette Jordan’s hand and you likely won’t forget it. Her handshake is firm enough to be just shy of crushing, and she’s an expert at that disarming, straight-in-the-eye engagement. Jordan wants to make sure you know that she sees you. She’s tall — just under 6 feet — and her years on the basketball court compound the air of dominance with which she navigates a room. You could call it cocky. Or you could just use the word her supporters use: confident.

On a blustery day in March, Jordan is in Boise, Idaho, for an evening fundraiser featuring local indie-rock darlings Built to Spill. She’s spent a fair amount of time in the state capital, both as a representative of her tribe, the Coeur d’Alene, and the tribes of the Northwest, but also as a member of the Idaho state legislature. 
But Boise isn’t home. That’s up north, in the Idaho Panhandle, just outside of Plummer, Idaho, where her family grows timothy hay and bluegrass. As a teen, Jordan’s parents or grandparents drove her an hour each way, every day, to go to school at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Washington — a city where another Democrat, Lisa Brown, is making national headlines running as a candidate in an area previously assumed to be a Republican stronghold. 
“Lisa Brown is really great,” Jordan told me at a coffee shop just blocks away from the capitol building. “She’s a nice lady. But I don’t do nice. That’s not me.” 
At 38, after serving just two terms as a state representative, Jordan is not a conventional gubernatorial candidate. Until she resigned to dedicate herself full-time to running for governor, she was the only left-leaning legislator from North Idaho to survive the 2016 Trump wave that took out even the most established Democrats in the area. She’s a progressive, but declines comparisons to Bernie Sanders; she’s a woman of color, running to become the US’s first Native American governor, in a state that is 82% white. In the Idaho house, she refused to toe the party line. She’s referred to state Rep. Heather Scott, a far-right legislator and favorite liberal enemy, as a friend. 
And while the bulk of the Idaho Democratic establishment has endorsed Jordan’s opponent, Boise school board member A.J. Balukoff, Jordan has earned the support of the progressive PAC Democracy for America, Planned Parenthood, Our Revolution, and was among the first five candidates endorsed on the national level by Indivisible. In January, Jordan was asked to speak at the national Women’s March gathering in Las Vegas; while there, she met and was endorsed by Cher. 
Her candidacy has come to symbolize the breadth of the post-Trump wave of candidates who are energizing Democrats on both the local and national levels. When Mic ran a brief piece about Jordan in January, it stamped a picture of Jordan with “Young, Progressive, and Running.” At least 250,000 people shared or liked the piece on Facebook — several thousand more than live in all of North Idaho. 
Jordan’s not a centrist or a moderate, nor is she a veteran or a handsome white guy with two kids, like many of the candidates who have been forwarded by the Democratic Party to win over swing states and districts. And she’s not intimidated by calls, such as those from her opponent, that she should bide her time. “I think I bring more experience this time around and had leadership roles that Paulette hasn’t had,” Balukoff, who previously ran for governor in 2014, told Idaho Politics Weekly. “I think people should stay with me this time around. She may be what we need next time.” 
“We’ve seen this attitude all across the country, especially with female candidates,” Jordan said in reference to the article, which had been published just days before. “We saw it with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. We see it now. People say, well, not this time. But my grandmothers were always at the forefront. They’d say, we make the difference we want to see.” 
Jordan has caught the national eye as a Native woman, and a progressive at that, who is vying to make history in a conservative state. In Idaho, however, she’s marketed herself as an independent, straight-talking, ranch-raised woman, in touch with the needs of people outside of urban areas and willing to work across the aisle to find solutions that work. But ahead of the May 15 primary, she still needs to persuade Idaho Democrats — many of whom remain convinced of their party’s impotency and irrelevance across the state — that the person they choose to run in a long-shot race against Republicans actually matters.

I have no idea if Jordan can succeed outgoing GOP Gov. Butch Otter, , who is hanging up his hat after 3 terms, let alone win her primary against Balukoff.  But keep an eye on her.  She's the kind of candidate the Dems need right now and in the future.

Throwing The New Guy In The Deep End

There's no rest for the wicked as newly confirmed Trump Regime SecState Mike Pompeo is already off on his first leg of the "Sorry We Didn't Have A Secretary Of State For Two Months" Tour and is already trying to put out fires in the Middle East.

As Saudi Arabia considers digging a moat along its border with Qatar and dumping nuclear waste nearby, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Riyadh on his first overseas trip as the nation’s top diplomat with a simple message: Enough is enough.
Patience with what is viewed in Washington as a petulant spat within the Gulf 
Cooperation Council has worn thin, and Mr. Pompeo told the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, that the dispute needs to end, according to a senior State Department official who briefed reporters on the meetings but who was not authorized to be named. 
Last June, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led an embargo by four Arab nations of Qatar, accusing the tiny, gas-rich nation of funding terrorism, cozying up to Iran and welcoming dissidents. Years of perceived slights on both sides of the conflict added to the bitterness. 
Mr. Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex W. Tillerson, spent much of his tenure trying to mediate the dispute, which also involved Egypt and Bahrain, but without success. The Saudis, keen observers of Washington’s power dynamics, knew that Mr. Tillerson had a strained relationship with President Trump and so ignored him, particularly because Mr. Trump sided with the Saudis in the early days of the dispute.

But Mr. Pompeo is closer to Mr. Trump and thus a more formidable figure. And in the nearly 11 months since the embargo began, Qatar has spent millions of dollars on a Washington charm offensive that paid off earlier this month when its leader, Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, had an Oval Office meeting with Mr. Trump during which the president expressed strong support for the tiny country.

So Mr. Pompeo came here to deliver the same message to Mr. Jubeir at an airport meeting Saturday afternoon; to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later that night; and to King Salman in a meeting planned for Sunday: Stop. 
Confronting Iran, stabilizing Iraq and Syria, defeating the last of Islamic State, and winding up the catastrophic civil war in Yemen are seen in Washington as increasingly urgent priorities that cannot be fully addressed without a united and more robust Arab response. 
Mr. Pompeo arrived in Riyadh on the same day that Houthi forces in Yemen shot eight missiles at targets in the southern Saudi province of Jizan, killing a man. The fusillade was the latest sign that Yemen’s blood bath is a growing threat to the region.

I'm thinking that the Saudis are going to continue to tell the State Department to go screw themselves because they know they can go over Pompeo's head to Trump the same way they did with Rex the Wreck.  It's sad that at this point everyone is freely admitting how awful Tillerson was at this job, and that how Pompeo is actually an improvement somehow, but the point is that the real problem with America's foreign policy is Donald Trump, and until that changes, nobody's going to take us seriously.

Qatar might get a break, but the Saudis do love picking on them, and Trump does love a bully, so who knows?
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