Saturday Morning Coffee

Going through a few of the open tabs on my iPad with a cup of coffee this morning:

At Talking Points Memo: I saw this Associated Press report: DOJ Lawyer: Steele Said Russian Intelligence Believed it Had Trump Over a Barrel. Looks like Bruce Ohr met with Christopher Steele, who shared some information that did not make it into the dossier Steele wrote for Fusion GPS.  This is one reason why Trump wants to discredit Ohr – he likely knows things the White House would rather keep under wraps.

On a related note, William Saletan lays it all out at Slate:: We Already Know Trump is Betraying His Country.  This is a pretty good rundown of how Donald Trump has put Russia and his wallet before America, including some thoughts on why, all in one place.

At The Atlantic, Yuval Noah Harari lays out his thoughts on Why Technology Favors Tyranny.  He touches on something I’ve given a lot of thought to: how will social norms change as technology replaces workers in the last remaining jobs that don’t require complex education or training (e.g., long-haul truck drivers). If dying industry led to right-wing populism in rust-belt states, what happens when artificial intelligence replaces every worker who drives something for a living?

Fred Clark, a progressive Christian, writes about the intersection between religion and politics, among other things, at Slactivist.  In a series he calls “The MAGA Commission”, Clark discusses the Great Commission Christ gave his followers to spread his word and how the purpose and identity of evangelical Christianity has shifted from this missionary work to politics.  Part One linked above; Parts Two and Three are also up.  Clark is an excellent writer, and I urge all of you to check out his work.  His exegesis of the truly awful (both as writing and theology) Left Behind books and films is especially interesting – and funny as…hell (sorry).

Another Progressive Christian and former megachurch pastor fired for his “provocative” (read: “progressive”) writing, John Pavlovitz asks Christians to Stop Blaming God for your LGBTQ Hatred. He thinks Christians should stop applying the Bible to other people’s lives. Like Clark, Pavlovitz is a great writer, and like Clark has a blog name I wish I’d thought of myself: Stuff That Needs to be Said.  Go check him out.

Some good reading this morning that could take you on a nice stroll through the internet. Enjoy the holiday weekend.

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Music Review: Get a Little

G. E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band released Get a Little on Liberty Records in 1992, while performing as the house band on the long-running late-night comedy show. Fans who enjoyed the band’s instrumental segues into and out of commercial breaks will find plenty to enjoy in this collection of music, including some solid lyrics rarely heard by the television audience.

A rhythm and blues style dominates this recording from the first cut, which is also the title track.  Winding in and out of a very basic blues rhythm set with drums and piano, the band’s very good horn section alternates between helping keep the beat and dueling with Smith’s eloquent guitar.  As Smith sings “Long legs, tight dress, whoo baby, I’m impressed” to the lucky lady from whom he wishes to “Get a Little,” he implores her further with rich but urgent solos.  This song opens the effort strongly, hooking blues and rock fans alike to listen further. Continue reading

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Gillespie challenges Warner

Washington lobbyist and Republican political operative Ed Gillespie made Virginia political news last week with this video announcement that he plans to challenge Mark Warner for Senate this year. This decision apparently pleases Virginia GOP political activists: state Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins, for example, called Gillespie a “good candidate” in this Bearing Drift op-ed (intended more to frame Jeff Shapiro as a Warner supporter than to call for a Gillespie run).

Some think Governor McAuliffe’s success offers reasons for optimism despite Warner’s popularity (57% total approval rating according to this poll).  Bearing Drift columnists Norm Leahy and Paul Goldman argue in a Washington Post editorial that Gillespie’s lobbying background won’t hurt him given the way McAuliffe overcame his own political fundraiser history.  And Shaun Kenney, also at Bearing Drift, makes a case that Warner should fear Gillespie’s candidacy, mostly because he believes the challenger will be able to mobilize conservatives in the state while painting Warner as responsible for the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading

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From the Archives: Augusta National, Women, and Social Norms (April 5, 2009)

Augusta National, Women, and Social Norms

NOTE: Augusta admitted its first female members, Darla Moore and Condoleeza Rice, in August 2012.  Virginia Rometty was not invited to join.

A pretty big golf tournament kicked off this morning in Augusta, Georgia, at the course Bobby Jones built.  This is one of the most prestigious major tournaments for professional players at perhaps the single most exclusive private golf club in the world. The club has no membership application process, and the only way to join is by invitation.  Until 1990, Augusta had never invited a black person, and did so then only after the three organizations that govern professional golf said it would no longer permit clubs which discriminate to host tournaments.  This was a pretty big deal, and the bid deal today is that the club still has no female members.

This could change very soon.  This very tradition-oriented club has one that will force a decision on admitting women: it has always offered membership to the incumbent CEO of International Business Machines.  IBM recently promoted a woman, Virginia Rometty, to that position.  Augusta will now have to admit a female member or break this long-standing tradition, exposing the club as worried at least as much about the gender of its members as their positions in the corporate world or place in society. Continue reading

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Foggy Bottom Reboot

Since a hacker destroyed the old version of the site, I’ve been putting together a new version.  I plan to import as much content as I can from the old and hope to reconstruct something that will hold readers’ interest.  Expect a few posts over the holidays and an attempt to begin posting regularly on 1 January 2014.

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