CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS OFFERS SAGE ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION! — Who Knew The Chief Is A Bob Dylan Fan?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/the-best-thing-chief-justice-roberts-wrote-this-term-wasnt-a-supreme-court-opinion/2017/07/02/b80a5afa-5e6e-11e7-9fc6-c7ef4bc58d13_story.html?hpid=hp_regional-hp-cards_rhp-card-politics:homepage/card&utm_term=.e2bd08831f97

Robert Barnes reports in the Washington Post:

“It was the ninth-grade commencement address for the Cardigan Mountain School, an elite boarding school for boys grades six through nine. Sitting up front under a large white tent as John Glover Roberts Jr. took the stage was graduating student John Glover Roberts III.

. . . .

Roberts’s commencement address was not publicized in advance, but it was recorded by the school, uploaded to YouTube and is slowly gaining attention. Several readers emailed the link to me. One person wrote, “I’m a Democrat and I can’t stand the guy’s views, but I was in tears.”

There is nothing about the Supreme Court or the law in the short speech, although each graduating Cougar received an autographed, pocket-size Constitution along with his certificate.

Instead, the address was personal, understated and popular probably because it touched on universal themes, such as a parent’s worry about whether he or she is making the right decisions for their child.

Driving through the gates after leaving a student at Cardigan, Roberts said, parents travel a “trail of tears” to an “emptier and lonelier house.”

Roberts is considered one of the Supreme Court’s better writers, and his public addresses show a quick wit and professional timing. He first asked the Cardigan students to turn and applaud their parents and others who had guided them.

He joked that he would later be able to report that his speech was “interrupted by applause.”

Success, he reminded them, comes to those who are unafraid to fail. “And if you did fail, you got up and tried again. And if you failed again, you got up and tried again. And if you failed again — it might be time to think about doing something else.”

Roberts said commencement addresses customarily wish graduates success. He thought it better for them to experience challenges.

“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly,” Roberts said, “so that you will come to learn the value of justice.”

Betrayal “will teach you the importance of loyalty.” Loneliness will instruct people not to “take friends for granted.” Pain will cause someone “to learn compassion.”

“I wish you bad luck — again, from time to time — so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life,” Roberts said. “And understand that your success is not completely deserved, and that the failure of others is not completely deserved, either.”

A commencement speech is supposed to offer “grand advice,” Roberts said, so his first was to recognize the exalted perch from which they started — a school with a 4-to-1 student-teacher ratio, where students dine in jackets and ties, and tuition and board cost about $55,000.

Through his son, Roberts had come to know many of the students, he said, and “I know you are good guys.”

“But you are also privileged young men, and if you weren’t privileged when you came here, you’re privileged now because you have been here,” Roberts said. “My advice is: Don’t act like it.”

He urged them, at their next school, to introduce themselves to the people “raking the leaves, shoveling the snow or emptying the trash.” Learn their names, smile and call them by name. “The worst thing that will happen is you will become known as the young man who smiles and says hello,” he said.

Another thing:

“You’ve been at a school with just boys. Most of you will be going to a school with girls,” Roberts said.

Long pause.

“I have no advice for you.”

In his speech, Roberts quoted Socrates and, not surprisingly, he ended it with the words of “the great American philosopher, Bob Dylan.”

Roberts has quoted Dylan in judicial opinions, and he’s not alone. The New York Times a few years ago noted a study that found Dylan the most-quoted songwriter in judicial opinions, and said Roberts had “opened the floodgates” by quoting the Bard of Minnesota in a 2008 dissent.

The song he quoted at the commencement speech was “Forever Young.” Roberts is an unusual parent. Now 62, he and Jane married rather late in life. Their contemporaries are welcoming grandchildren, while they have two high-schoolers, Jack and his sister Josephine.

“May you build a ladder to the stars

And climb on every rung

May you stay forever young.”

The wishes expressed by Dylan for his son, Jesse, are “beautiful, they’re timeless, they’re universal,” Roberts said.

But the phrase that gives the song its title and refrain — forever young — is unrealistic, the chief justice said. It can’t come true.

“That wish is a parent’s lament,” he said.”

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Read the full report at the link.

I agree with some of the Chief Justice’s opinions, others not so much. Gosh, I have to wonder why all of his jurisprudence doesn’t show the same empathy, humor, understanding of the “underdog,” and acknowledgement of the role of privilege in our society (which is often mistaken for “pure merit” by the “privileged”) as demonstrated by this speech. Just look at the number of GOP politicians and even judges today who use their privileged positions to “dump on” the less fortunate rather than compassionately addressing their problems. At the same time, many of these same individuals use their their own privileged positions to further enrich the privileged and further empower the powerful at the expense of the rest of society. Go figure.

PWS

07-05-17

 

NBA SUPERSTAR STEPH CURRY JOINS LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA’S PRO IMMIGRATION CAMPAIGN!

http://www.vibe.com/2017/06/steph-ayesha-curry-lin-manuel-ham4all/

VIBE reports:

Lin-Manuel Miranda early this morning announced his latest and most important contest yet: the #Ham4All challenge in support of Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition.

“Hamilton has crisscrossed the country—New York, Chicago, San Francisco. Next stop…Los Angeles!” wrote the playwright in an open letter. “I’m thrilled to be back again with another great Hamilton experience, this time benefiting a cause that’s not only at the heart of Hamilton but particularly close to me—immigration. I’m raising money for the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition, which is comprised of 12 amazing organizations.”

READ: Lin-Manuel Miranda To Be Inducted In The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Shortly after making the announcement, Golden State Warrior and NBA champion Stephen Curry and his wifey-in-crime Ayesha Curry entered the challenge, making a donation of their own—performing their favorite Hamilton track and throwing down the gauntlet to the next celebrity, in one fell swoop.

“We all feel strongly about supporting these important organizations fighting to protect immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers who want to make a better life for themselves and their families,” the couple captioned on Instagram, urging Olivia Munn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to join the fight. “The grand prize winner will join us and Lin-Manuel at the LA opening on August 16th. We think that this will be the biggest Hamilton sweepstakes yet, but we need your help…”

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Read the complete story and get links to more information about the “Immigrants: We Get The Job Done Coalition” at the above link. Compare Miranda’s positive, upbeat message about immigration with the steady stream of fear-mongering, xenophobia, implicit racism, and, let’s face it, outright lies about migrants coming from the Trump Administration.

PWS

06-28-17

Willie To Jeffie: “You Need To Toke Up, Dude!” — Challenges AG To Take A Hit Before Targeting Weed!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/willie-nelson-jeff-sessions_us_591d4534e4b034684b0960d9

Ed Mazza reports in HuffPost:

“Country music legend Willie Nelson has some advice for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said marijuana is only “slightly less awful” than heroin.

Nelson, a longtime advocate for legal pot, told Rolling Stone:

“I wonder if he’s tried both of them. I don’t think you can really make a statement like that unless you tried it all. So I’d like to suggest to Jeff to try it and then let me know later if he thinks he’s still telling the truth!”
The 84-year-old County Music Hall of Famer has his own brand of marijuana, Willie’s Reserve, for sale where it’s legal and often speaks highly of his own personal experiences with the drug.

Rolling Stone asked if there’s been a downside to his own habit.

“I haven’t run into any yet,” he said. “I guess if you go somewhere where it’s illegal, that’s a pretty good downside.”

Police have arrested the singer several times for marijuana-related offenses.”

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Don’t think this will be happening anytime soon!

PWS

05-19-17

“Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money . . . .” — But, Bipartisan Legalization Is What Undocumented Residents REALLY Need, Says N. Rappaport in THE HILL!

Quote from “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” by Warren Zevon, check it out here: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/w/warren_zevon/lawyers_guns_and_money.html

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http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/329310-noncriminal-immigrants-facing-deportation-need-legalization

Nolan writes in a recent op-ed from The Hill:

“The absence of due process protections is permissible because IIRIA “clarified” that aliens who are in the United States without inspection are deemed to be “arriving.” In other words, they are not entitled to the rights enjoyed by aliens who have been admitted to the United States because, technically, they are not in the United States. This legal fiction has been accepted now for more than 20 years.

Previous administrations arbitrarily have limited expedited removal proceedings to aliens at the border and aliens who entered without inspection and were apprehended no more than 100 miles from the border after spending less than 14 days in the country.

But Section 235(b)(1)(A)(iii)(ll) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorizes expedited removal proceedings for any alien “who has not been admitted or paroled into the United States, and who has not affirmatively shown, to the satisfaction of an immigration officer, that the alien has been physically present in the United States continuously for the 2-year period immediately prior to the date of the determination of inadmissibility.”

President Trump can use expedited removal proceedings to deport millions of noncriminal aliens without hearings before an immigration judge or the right to appeal removal orders to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

The only way to stop him is to find a way to work with him on a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a legalization program. And time is running out.

The Trump administration is quickly identifying ways to assemble the nationwide deportation force that President Trump promised on the campaign trail.

Preparations are being made for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to hire 5,000 new officers and for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hire an additional 10,000. Also, ICE has identified 27 potential locations that could increase its detention space by 21,000 beds, and CBP plans to expand its detention capacity by 12,500 spaces.

But it is not too late to work on a deal that would meet the essential political needs of both parties … yet.”

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Go over to The Hill at the link to read Nolan’s complete op-ed.

I agree with Nolan that given the huge backlogs in the U.S. Immigration Courts, the Administration will use every device at its disposal to avoid the Immigration Courts and completely eliminate due process protections for as many individuals as possible. Moreover, as I have pointed out in a recent blog, to date the Article III Courts have been willing to turn a blind eye to the rather obvious due process and statutory issues involved in expedited removal. See http://wp.me/p8eeJm-IG.

To state the obvious: “Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum” is meaningless without a fair opportunity to be heard on the asylum application before an impartial adjudicator, with a meaningful opportunity to present evidence, and represented by counsel of one’s choice. And, the idea that individuals who have spent months in detention in the U.S. aren’t entitled to “due process” in connection with their asylum applications (which are “life or death” applications) is facially absurd.

Yeah, I know that the Third Circuit in Castro v. DHS spent the whole decision on a turgidly opaque discussion of jurisdiction and and “suspension of habeas.” Surprising how folks living in the “ivory tower” with lifetime job security can sometimes drain all of the humanity out of “real life” tragedies.

But, frankly, in four decades of being a “highly interested observer” of immigration litigation, I’ve never seen an Article III Court, including the Supremes, be deterred from running over supposed statutory limitations on judicial review when motivated to do so. Perhaps it will take some Federal Judge’s nanny, maid, gardener, driver, handyman, neighbor, fellow church member, student, or in-law being swept up in the new “DHS dragnet” to “motivate” the courts here.

In the meantime, as pointed out to me by Nolan in a different conversation, there is some hope for due process in the Third Circuit’s dictum in Castro. In “footnote 13,” the court actually indicates that there might be a “constitutional break point” for review of expedited removal:

“Of course, even though our construction of § 1252 means that courts in the future will almost certainly lack statutory jurisdiction to review claims that the government has committed even more egregious violations of the expedited removal statute than those alleged by Petitioners, this does not necessarily mean that all aliens wishing to raise such claims will be without a remedy. For instance, consider the case of an alien who has been living continuously for several years in the United States before being ordered removed under § 1225(b)(1). Even though the statute would prevent him from seeking judicial review of a claim, say, that he was never granted a credible fear interview, under our analysis of the Suspension Clause below, the statute could very well be unconstitutional as applied to him (though we by no means undertake to so hold in this opinion). Suffice it to say, at least some of the arguably troubling implications of our reading of § 1252 may be tempered by the Constitution’s requirement that habeas review be available in some circumstances and for some people.”

I suspect that the Administration eventually will push expedited removal and credible fear denials to the point where there will be some meaningful judicial review. But, lots of folks rights are likely to be trampled upon before we reach that point.

Nolan’s suggestion for a bipartisan legislative solution certainly seems reasonable and highly appropriate from the viewpoint of both sides. The Administration is about to invest lots of resources and credibility in a “war to deport or intimidate just about everybody” that it is likely to lose in the long run. But, advocates are likely to be bleeding resources and losing individual battles for some time before the tide eventually turns, if it ever does. Anything that depends on litigation as the solution has many risks and unpredictable outcomes that might leave both sides unsatisfied with the results.

Sadly, nobody in the Administration seems interested in solving this issue. The policy appears to be driven by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a lifelong opponent of immigration reform who seldom if ever has a kind word to say about any immigrant, legal or undocumented.

Secretary Kelly has become “Sessions’s Parrot,” apparently devoid of any original or constructive thoughts on the subject of immigration. In particular, his recent “put up or shut up” outburst directed at Congressional Democrats who sought some meaningful oversight and clarification of his enforcement policies did not seem to be an entree for better dialogue.

Although there almost certainly is a majority of Democrats and Republicans in favor of reasonable immigration reform, which the majority of the country would also like to see, leadership of both parties seems fairly discombobulated. There seems to be “zero interest” in putting together a legislative coalition consisting of Democrats and a minority of Republicans to get anything done. And, even if such a coalition were to coalesce, President Trump likely would veto any constructive result in the area of immigration.

As I’ve pointed out before, there are a number of reasons why folks don’t always act in their best interests or the best interests of the country. But, I appreciate Nolan’s efforts to promote “thinking beyond conflict.” I want to think that it can come to fruition.

PWS

04-20-17

 

“Don’t know much about history, Don’t know much biology, Don’t know much about science book, Don’t know much about the French I took . . . .” — Decades Of Anti-Science, Education Bashing, Dissing The Arts, And Anti-Intellectualism By The GOP Have Left Us With The Wasteland Of Donald Trump!

Quote from “Don’t Know Much About History,” Music & Lyrics By Sam Cooke http://www.songlyrics.com/sam-cooke/don-t-know-much-about-history-lyrics/

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/04/14/daily-202-trump-doesn-t-know-much-about-history-it-s-making-his-on-the-job-training-harder/58f06ba2e9b69b3a72331e84/?utm_term=.19018fb0f4f4

James Hohmann writes in the Washington Post:

“THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump believed he could convince China to pressure North Korea to stop its nuclear activities. Then President Xi Jinping tutored him on the history of the region.

“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, recounting the session at Mar-a-Lago. “You know, I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power over North Korea. But it’s not what you would think.”

This comment is funny because, in 2011, Trump claimed that he has read “hundreds of books about China over the decades,” including works by Henry Kissinger, American journalists and Chinese novelists. Looking to do more business with Beijing, he provided a list of 20 books about China to Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, that he said had helped him understand the country, its politics and its people. “I know the Chinese. I’ve made a lot of money with the Chinese. I understand the Chinese mind,” Trump said six years ago. His list had some surprising titles on it, including “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”

Color me skeptical that Trump has read anything by Amy Chua.

— Even if he has, the fact our president needed an introductory tutorial on Sino-Korean relations to understand how hard it is to contain Pyongyang is just the latest illustration of one of his blind spots: He and his inner-circle have very little sense of history.

— It is a cliché, but there is truth to it: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

— Trump has committed several small but memorable faux pas since the inauguration:

He mentioned Abraham Lincoln during a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee last month. “Most people don’t even know he was a Republican,” Trump said. “Does anyone know? Lot of people don’t know that!” (Most likely, every person in the ballroom knew and has attended at least one Lincoln Day dinner.)

On Lincoln’s birthday in February, Trump tweeted out an obviously fake quote from the 16th president: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” He later deleted it.

Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice,” he said at a Black History Month event. (Douglass died in 1895.)

“Have you heard of Susan B. Anthony?” he asked at a Women’s History Month reception in March.

In January, Trump said Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) – who is best known for almost getting beaten to death as he marched on Bloody Sunday in Selma – is “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results.” There are things Lewis could be fairly criticized for, but no one who knows anything about the civil rights movement would agree that being “all talk” is one of them.

— Those four gaffes were tailormade to go viral on social media, but the president has made other comments that perhaps better underscore his lack of depth on U.S. history. Only someone who doesn’t understand the ugly history of the 1930s, for example, could have so wholeheartedly embraced “America First” as a mantra, let alone made it a rallying cry in his inaugural address. The slogan was first popularized by Nazi sympathizers.

— Trump has embraced Andrew Jackson as his political idol, hanging his portrait in the Oval Office and even flying to Nashville on his 250th birthday to lay a wreath on his tomb. In a speech there, he identified with the seventh president because he took on the “arrogant elite.” “Does that sound familiar?” Trump said with a sly smile.

Yet the very next week, in Louisville, the president claimed the mantle of Henry Clay. “Henry Clay believed in what he called the ‘American system,’ and proposed tariffs to protect American industry and finance American infrastructure,” the president said in a long riff. “Like Henry Clay, we want to put our own people to work. … Clay was a fierce advocate for American manufacturing. … He knew all the way back, (in the) early 1800s, Clay said that trade must be fair, equal, and reciprocal. Boom!”

Anyone who has a passing familiarity with 19th century history knows how goofy it is to embrace both Jackson and Clay. “They were absolutely feral enemies,” Fergus Bordewich, a Clay biographer, told Time after Trump’s speech. “They absolutely hated each other. They shared almost no views in common.”

— Sean Spicer’s cringe-worthy comments this week that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s actions were worse than Adolf Hitler’s suggested a more endemic problem of historical illiteracy in the White House. The press secretary has since apologized for saying that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing.” He also referred to concentration camps as “the Holocaust centers.”

Because Spicer made his comment on the first day of Passover, the observant staff members at the Anti-Defamation League had their phones and televisions off. So they didn’t find out until Wednesday night what had happened. Leaders of the group reached out to the White House yesterday to offer a training session on the Holocaust. “The organization has taught classes on Hitler’s murderous campaign — which exterminated 6 million Jews and millions more LGBT people, Poles, socialists and others — to more than 130,000 law enforcement professionals and 35,000 teachers,” Julie Zauzmer reports. ADL is willing to offer a free session to Spicer or “anyone at the White House who may need to learn more about the Holocaust.” Spicer didn’t respond to an email about whether he’d do it.

— Trump has admitted that he is not intellectually curious. In a moment of candor, he told The Post’s Marc Fisher last summer that he has not read any biographies of presidents. He said he would like to someday but never has time. Then he explained that he does not need to read extensively because he reaches the right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense.” Trump told Marc he is skeptical of experts because they can’t see the forest through the trees and lack his good instincts.

— This is a break with many of his predecessors. Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton all invited elite historians for private dinners at the White House. Each thought deeply about his place in history as he mulled weighty decisions. Bush, who majored in history at Yale, heavily employed historical analogies in his speeches. John F. Kennedy even hired Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to be his in-house historian.

— Trump’s very dark world view is one of the ways his lack of historical perspective manifests itself. David Nakamura contrasts how Obama and Trump see the world in a piece for today’s paper:

“Addressing the United Nations last fall, Obama took a moment to highlight for fellow world leaders what he called ‘the most important fact’ about the state of global affairs: Human existence on planet Earth is good — and getting better. War is down, he said, while life expectancy is up. Democracy is on the march, and science has beaten back infectious diseases. A girl in a remote village can download the ‘entirety of human knowledge’ on a smartphone. A person born today, Obama concluded, is more likely to be safer, healthier, wealthier and better-educated — and to see a path to prosperity — than at ‘any time in human history.’”

President Trump does not inhabit this world: “To Trump, the world is ‘a mess,’ as he said during a White House news conference this week. ‘It’s crazy what’s going on,’ Trump said. ‘Whether it’s the Middle East or you look at — no matter where — Ukraine — whatever you look at, it’s got problems, so many problems. Right now, it’s nasty.’”

“President Obama constantly reminded us that our own times are not uniquely oppressive,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and author at Rice University. “There’s a feeling due to the 24-7 news cycle that everything is a crisis mode, when the fact of the matter is, Americans have it better now than ever before.”

During a town hall-style event with young people in Malaysia in September, Obama blamed the flow of information bombarding news consumers on televisions, computers and smartphones for making it appear “as if the world is falling apart.”“Everybody is shouting and everybody hates each other,” Obama said. “And you get kind of depressed. You think, ‘Goodness, what’s happening?’”

Trump, of course, consumes most of his news from cable television and Twitter.

What’s behind Trump’s growing flip-flops

 

President Trump is changing his tune on NATO, China’s currency, Syria and many other policies he campaigned on. The Post’s Jenna Johnson looks at why his stances have shifted now that he’s in the White House. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

— Bigger picture: One important reason the new president has flip-flopped so much in recent daysis because he has never grappled deeply or seriously with most issues. Trump has typically staked out whatever position was most politically expedient at that moment and then confidently argued for it, untethered by core convictions beyond a desire to make money, build his brand and win elections.”

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Read Hohmann’s entire piece at the above link. Trump is the logical culmination of years of “know-nothingism” by the GOP.

PWS

04-16-17

“Another one bites the dust, And another one gone, and another one gone” — Nunes Out Of Russia Investigation!

Quote from “Another One Bites The Dust,” sung by Queen, Songwriter: Deacon, John; here’s a link http://www.metrolyrics.com/another-one-bites-the-dust-lyrics-queen.html

The NY Times reports:

“WASHINGTON — Representative Devin Nunes, the embattled California Republican who is chairman of the Intelligence Committee, announced on Thursday he would step aside from leading his committee’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to disrupt last year’s presidential election.

His announcement was made on the same morning that the House Committee on Ethics said Mr. Nunes was under investigation because of public reports that he “may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”

Read the full report here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/us/politics/devin-nunes-house-intelligence-committee-russia.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

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COMPROMISED:

Former National Security Adviser, Gen. Mike Flynn

U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions

House Intelligence Chair, Devon Nunes (R-CA)

Who’s next??????

PWS

04/06/17

 

 

 

 

NYT: Tilting At Windmills — Trump’s Coal Mining Fantasyland — “Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back, To your hometown, To your hometown!”**

**Bruce Springtsteen — My Hometown

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/business/coal-jobs-trump-appalachia.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

Hiroko Tabushi writes in the NY Tmes:

“In Decatur, Ill., far from the coal mines of Appalachia, Caterpillar engineers are working on the future of mining: mammoth haul trucks that drive themselves.

The trucks have no drivers, not even remote operators. Instead, the 850,000-pound vehicles rely on self-driving technology, the latest in an increasingly autonomous line of trucks and drills that are removing some of the human element from digging for coal.

When President Trump moved on Tuesday to dismantle the Obama administration’s climate change efforts, he promised it would bring coal-mining jobs back to America. But the jobs he alluded to — hardy miners in mazelike tunnels with picks and shovels — have steadily become vestiges of the past.

Pressured by cheap and abundant natural gas, coal is in a precipitous decline, now making up just a third of electricity generation in the United States. Renewables are fast becoming competitive with coal on price. Electricity sales are trending downward, and coal exports are falling.

All the while, the coal industry has been replacing workers with machines and explosives. Energy and labor specialists say that no one — including Mr. Trump — can bring them all back.

“People think of coal mining as some 1890s, colorful, populous frontier activity, but it’s much better to think of it as a high-tech industry with far fewer miners and more engineers and coders,” said Mark Muro, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

“The regulatory changes are entirely outweighed by these technological changes, not to mention the price of natural gas or renewables,” Mr. Muro said. “Even if you brought back demand for coal, you wouldn’t bring back the same number of workers.”

. . . .

“In 1980, the industry employed about 242,000 people. By 2015, that figure had plunged 60 percent, to fewer than 100,000, even as coal production edged up 8 percent. Helped by automation, worker productivity more than tripled over the same period, according to data from the federal Energy Information Administration and the Brookings Institution.

And a recent study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment predicted that automation was likely to replace 40 to 80 percent of workers at mines.

Automation makes mines more “safe, efficient and productive,” said Corrie Scott, a Caterpillar spokeswoman. “While mines would not need as many drivers, they will need more people who use and understand the latest technology,” she said.

“However way you spin it, gas and renewables are going to continue to replace coal,” said Nicolas Maennling, senior economics and policy researcher at Columbia University and an author of the automation study.

“And in order to stay competitive, coal will have to increase automation,” he said. “What Mr. Trump does will make little difference.”

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Yup,  I understand the President is a leader, not a technocrat. That’s why a good political leader surrounds him or herself with competent staff and also draws on the huge wealth of technical expertise available in the Federal Civil Service.

Surrounding yourself instead with idealogical know-nothings and sycophants like Bannon, Miller, and Priebus is pure political malpractice at the highest level.

(Note that I didn’t include Conway in the group. I think she’s probably the smartest of the bunch. She was the “brains” behind what has to go down as one of the most unexpected electoral triumphs in American political history, regardless of whether or not you like the result. And I wouldn’t accuse her of being a sycophant. But, she is totally loyal to a fault, and therefore keeps throwing herself on her sword over and over for The Leader. I also didn’t include Spicer. He has his bad days, for sure. But, he has the hardest job in Washington, and that includes The Leader himself. I actually doubt anyone could do it better. He won’t last too long. But, after he’s gone, not only Melissa McCarthy is likely to miss him.)

PWS

03/30/17

HAIL, HAIL ROCK & ROLL: IN MEMORIUM: Chuck Berry, “Godfather Of Rock & Roll” — Today’s Rock Stars Owe Him Big Time For His Pioneering Work!

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/19/arts/music/chuck-berry-rock-innovator.html?emc=edit_nn_20170320&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=79213886&te=1&_r=0&referer=

John Caramanica writes in the NY Times:

“Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” wasn’t the first rock ’n’ roll song, but it was the best and brashest of the genre’s early advertisements. Released in 1956, it opens with a nimble, bendy guitar riff — a prelude to the one that would be perfected a year later, on “Johnny B. Goode” — that serves as an intrusion and an enticement. Then Mr. Berry describes the fever, “the rockin’ pneumonia,” that was soon to grip the country.

“My heart beatin’ rhythm/And my soul keep-a singin’ the blues,” he sang. “Roll over Beethoven/And tell Tchaikovsky the news.”

Plenty of artists would go on to cover “Roll Over Beethoven” — the Beatles streamlined and sweetened it; Electric Light Orchestra distended it into an overlong, pompous shuffle with a snatch of the Fifth Symphony; Paul Shaffer and his band made a sleek version as the theme to the 1992 film “Beethoven,” about a St. Bernard with the composer’s name.

But those covers lacked the panache, the transgressive potential, the unexpected twists and turns of the Chuck Berry originals.

Mr. Berry, who died on Saturday at his home near St. Louis, was the first true rock ’n’ roll superstar. When in his late 20s he emerged from St. Louis onto the national scene, the genre wasn’t yet codified. In its infancy, rock was hybrid music, and Mr. Berry was its most vivid and imaginative alchemist.

From the mid-1950s through the end of that decade, he concocted a yowling blend of hopped-up blues, country and then-emergent rhythm & blues that ended up as the template for what became widely accepted as rock ’n’ roll (though the term predated his rise).”

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Great musician, entertainer, and stage performer whose influence will continue as long as rock and roll is played!

I find it interesting how the “mainstream culture” eventually adopts and idolizes folks like Chuck Berry and Mohammad Ali. In their “heydays,” both were considered dangerous renegades, not cultural idols.

The largely white-driven mainstream America often tried to suppress and deny their achievements and even subjected them to prosecutions that looked more like persecutions. (Regardless of its morality, how many white Rock and Rollers have transported underage girls, and lots of other “illegal stuff,” across state lines for “immoral purposes,” do you think? How many were prosecuted — twice for the same crime in Berry’s case — and sent to prison?) In both Ali’s and Berry’s cases, their careers never completely recovered from their well-publicized legal problems.

Contrast this with the great “outlaw” country singer Johnny Cash (another of my personal favorites) who was “busted” seven times for misdemeanors (if he were an immigrant, he undoubtedly would have been characterized as a “dangerous repeat offender” not fit to live in America) but never spent more than one night in jail.

I have absolutely no difficulty with “mainstream America” recognizing folks like Berry and Ali for their amazing contributions to our world and adopting them as “folk heroes.” To me, it shows why the “cultural wars” being waged today by Trump and the GOP are ultimately doomed to failure.

But, it would be better if in posthumously recognizing great African Americans like Berry and Ali, all of us also acknowledged that contemporary society had it wrong about their contributions and probably treated them unfairly during their “prime of greatness.”

PWS

03/20/17

 

TGIF: immigrationcourtside MUSIC: He Wasn’t The First Ever, But “Weird Al” Is The Greatest Music Parodist Of All-Time (IOW, The “Tom Brady” Of Music Parody) — And, The Self-Admitted “World’s Biggest Nerd” Does It All With Permission!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/style/2017/02/16/how-weird-al-eclipsed-almost-every-star-he-ever-parodied/?tid=a_classic-iphone

From the Washington Post:

“LOS ANGELES — One day last summer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, on break from “Hamilton,” stopped by neighbor Jimmy Fallon’s house in the Hamptons. They both love music and Fallon has a listening room in the basement, so it wasn’t long before they were downstairs sharing another passion: “Weird Al” Yankovic.

“I said, ‘Do you know “Polka Party!”?’ ” Fallon says. “He’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, I know it word for word.’ ”

Fallon threw Yankovic’s 1986 record on the turntable, and the Broadway phenomenon and the late-night TV star sang along to an accordion-driven medley that covers 12 songs in three minutes, from Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” to Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach.”

“Picture Jimmy Fallon and I sitting in a basement laughing our asses off singing, ‘I’m gonna keep my baby, keep my baby, keep my baby,’ ” Miranda says.

“We were crying, laughing and singing,” Fallon says.

They’re not alone.
Yankovic has sold millions of albums, played 1,616 shows and outlasted so many of the stars he once spoofed. His most recent album, 2014’s “Mandatory Fun,” featured parodies of Iggy Azalea, Lorde and Pharrell Williams, a polka medley and his usual smattering of original songs. The album hit No. 1. At 57, he’s now readying a complete set of his 14 studio recordings, plus an album of bonus tracks. “Squeeze Box,” on sale through a PledgeMusic drive until the end of February, will naturally come in an accordion-shaped box. “Comedy recording and funny songs go back to the earliest days of the record industry,” says Barry Hansen, better known as Dr. Demento, the radio host who introduced Yankovic to the public 40 years ago. “But Al is unique. There’s nothing like him in the history of funny music.”

For Chris Hardwick — the comedian who created the Nerdist empire and hosts two game shows, “@midnight” and “The Wall” — Yankovic is more than a musical success story. He’s a triumph for all the oddballs and outsiders.”

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I remember during my “Jones Day phase” giving a lift in the family Suburban to one of my colleagues and his wife. As she thumbed her way through our shoe box of cassette tapes, his wife wondered aloud about a family whose musical tastes ran from Beethoven to “Weird Al” (although I actually think that Beethoven would have understood the connection). Yeah, we were pretty weird and nerdy.

My personal Weird Al favorite is “Girls Just Want to Have Lunch” (parodying, of course, Cyndi Lauper’s hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun) from his 1985 smash hit album “Dare to be Stupid.” Here’s a link to the music video on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bu6HJDYWf68

Happy listening/viewing!

Happy Friday!😎🍻

PWS

02/18/17