By Ben Folds
Hey, I have that shirt!
There was a time not long ago when the title of this post would invoke in most Americans the assumption of a work of fiction, perhaps a novel by Tom Clancy.
Today, of course, it invokes current events, and looking at that title, one might assume this to be a reference to some current Washington Post story. Indeed, if you came across this post because it was tweeted or facebooked, that is almost certainly what you think we are talking about here.
A press release:
WASHINGTON, DC — The following is a statement issued today from Muslim Advocates Public Advocacy Director Scott Simpson calling on Cherokee Guns in Murphy, North Carolina and Allison Outdoor Advertising to take down a billboard that invites gun violence against Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib – most of whom have received credible assassination threats. Muslim Advocates is encouraging supporters to send emails to Allison Outdoor Advertising and Cherokee Guns asking them to take the billboard down immediately:
“This billboard puts the lives of these congresswomen in immediate danger and needs to be taken down right away. It labels the four women as harbingers of the apocalypse and then invites people to purchase guns ‘1 mile [ahead] on right.’
These women have already received multiple, credible death threats inspired by similar rhetoric and attacks. Someone has already been charged for an assassination threat against Congresswoman Omar where the suspect said ‘I’ll put a bullet in her fucking skull’ and the assassination attempt that wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was only a few years ago.
Much of the media is irresponsibly downplaying this deeply concerning billboard as ‘mocking.’ This is not a joke and it’s not an insult. This is encouraging gun violence against elected officials.
This is also an anti-Muslim attack. The owners of Cherokee Guns have a Facebook post advertising a similar bumper sticker that is rife with disgusting anti-Muslim slurs including a reference to ‘Infidels for Trump’ and an invitation for patrons to ‘eat a piece of bacon’ to receive the sticker.
Food festivals and houses of worship are being shot up by white nationalists and this billboard invites more violence. Allison Outdoor Advertising must take the billboard down and Cherokee Guns must stop its dangerous, anti-Muslim attacks before the worst happens.”
Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.
For many years, scientists who studied biology, behavior, and ecology (under the name of various disciplines) looked at resources, including and especially food, as a major determinant of social structure in social animals, herd structure in herd animals, and so on. Then, there was a revolution and it quickly became apparent that sex, not food, underlies everything and is the ultimate explanation for the variation we see in nature. That pair of dimes lasted for a while, then the other penny dropped and thanks to key research done by a handful of people (including me, in relation to human evolution), it became apparent that there was a third significant factor, that ultimately trumped sex as an organizing force. Food.
I hate it when the author of a book about something historical (history = written records) or even contemporary requires a paleolithic or prehistoric context. If I had a dime for every first chapter I’ve seen where a perfectly expert expert drones ignorantly on about how their book is a follow on of something that started in Olduvai Gorge and side stepped the Neanderthals and all that, I’d have several dollars. Praise the gods that Julian Cribb, in his new book Food or War, only does that for a few paragraphs and does it well!
This book is important, impressive, and a must read.
Food has organized society, politics, war, settlement, colonialism, and the economy more than any single factor, and food has been revolutionized by those things as well. As a simple way to understand this, consider any particular traditional food ask yourself, “would this even be possible were it not for the ability to sail up wind in a ship?” The answer, once you get to it, will almost always be no. Plantains, grass-based cereal crops, maize, potatoes, cassava, a range of vegetables such as tomatoes and various gourds and squash, green leafy things, all of it, are now available to grow in each and every habitat they can be grown in, not just the habitats that happen to be in the geographical region they were domesticated in. And, importantly, this transition happened centuries ago, depending on where one looks. Much of it happened before missionaries or explorers accounts even have a chance to flesh out the details of native live, and certainly long before anthropologists or other professional observers arrived on the scene.
Food or War is the book you must read now to understand the complex historical dynamics behind what you are eating.
The book covers food up to the present, and all the major considerations related to it. Drought, loss of land, climate change, migration, foodies, permaculture, organic farming, and on and on are all addressed in this well written scholarly but for everyone volume. And Cribb makes a stab at projecting into the future, and suggesting what we may consider doing about our food related problems.
This is not a happy book. A book dedicated to Paul Ehrlich is not going to be a happy book. It is a black book with blood red writing and a skull and crossbones on the cover. The title puts an or between the words food and war. This is not the read you need to get you away from the awful discourse polluting our psyches at this moment in history. But it is the book you need to read in order to understand and contextualize many of our policy related problems in the here and now. Plus, it is simply very well written, very well researched, and you will learn things. Many things.
Here’s the TOC:
I strongly recommend this book. It is available for pr-order, coming out in September.
First, a few important military facts. Tanks are not the main way the US military fights a war. They are certainly used, but less then might be assumed given recent events in Washington DC. Also, our enemies are less and less likely to use tanks against us. Our long distance and air-assault artillery means that any nation we go up against that puts most of its eggs in the tank basket loses in a few days. Tanks for the memory, tanks, but tanks are becoming somewhat passe in regular warfare. Continue reading Don’t be afraid of Trump’s Tanks
You are probably aware that the DNC has just put the kibash on having a climate change related debate in the primary process.
Climate change, Perez says, is a single issue and no single issue is worthy of elevation to this level. Here are some of my thoughts on this, and below find a link to Adam Siegel’s excellent post on the subject, where you will also find the DNC’s position.
The climate crisis is not a single issue, Mr. Perez. It is an existential issue that permeates all of the other issues, an economic issue that will shape our entire agenda, an issue of national security that should be of great concern, and the number one premier health issue of the century. It is a moral issue that tests our the ability of our elected Democrats and candidates to lead.
The moment at hand has bee a long time coming. This is the first election cycle in which climate change and its effects are being taken serious by almost all Democratic candidates and voters. This issue has to be part of the conversation from now on, indefinitely.
Perhaps instead of driving climate change into a corner, or ignoring it, you actually meant to challenge the current framing of such a debate. Indeed, Democrats do not have to debate “climate change.” We all know it is real, critically important, and that we must address it. That is not a matter of debate.
But we do need to discuss, and debate, the solutions. What kind of Green New Deal do you want, candidate? How do you propose we harness market forces to hasten the transition away from fossil fuels? Do you like bridge fuels like Methane or are you on board with following a direct line to zero-Carbon? What about Carbon pricing, fee and dividend? How can we keep the economic benefit that will come with decarbonization in the US, by supporting local union industry in the construction of wind, solar, and storage facilities? Can the benefits of this energy transition be made available to most citizens? Is there a way to have economic benefits that go to more than the 10%? Should there be improved national best practices and regulations to push utilities to help more with this? What about divestment from funds that invest in fossil fuel extraction, processing, and distribution? What is your favorite pipeline story and what does it tell us about our commitment to changing things? What sorts of mandates can hasten widespread access to technologies like heat pumps and geothermal heating and cooling?
There is, indeed, a great deal to debate. Not climate change per se, but rather, how we save the future for our children and grandchildren. As noted by “Climate Hawks Vote,” climate change is a single issue: the survival of humanity. That is worth a debate.
Have a look at this thoughtful and informative post by energy expert A. Siegel to see how debating climate change can work as a political tool to the benefit of Democratic candidates and the party.
Coming out against a climate or energy debate is ethically questionable and politically foolish. Lets expand, rather than contract, this vitally important conversation.
Good work, mateys! Joe Biden’s new climate plan is pretty much in line with the Green New Deal. Way to pressure!
This moves Biden from bottom to middle tier for me, which makes me feel better about the fact that he is crushing everyone else in early polls.
California Convention. Since California a) has more electoral votes and more national party delegates than any other state, and b) is a Super Tuesday state now, all of the sudden for the first time in memory, the California Convention received additional special attention outside of California.
And, candidates were sorted. Have a look:
Yay Warren! Yay Sanders! Yay Buttigieg! Yay Harris! Boo Hefferlooper, Boo that other guy!
Perhaps California Democrats are not the same as other Democrats, but in fact, they aren’t different. The outliers in the Party of Kennedy and Wellstone are the right wingers found here and there in Old Dixie or or the High Plains, and a few machine cities or country states in Appalachia or the south. I think we saw some of the herd thinned out in California.
Head to heads. In a recent Quinnipiac poll held in Texas, Biden beat Trump in the head to head, but Trump beat all the other tested candidates. In Michigan, Biden and Sanders trounced trump in the head to head, and Warren, Harris, and Buttigieg did fine. Who cares. Trump was going to win Texas anyway, since Texas is populated with so many god fearing evangelicals who love them their transgressors.
Warren. Warren remains a weak third, but consistent in that spot. In the frontline primary states (New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina) it is typically Biden and Sanders in first (strong) and second place. In the latest North Carolina poll (which is not South Carolina, but still, has a lot of African American voters and it is near South Carolina) that held true, but Warren pulled a very strong third (39-22-15). But generally, Warren, while usually in third place, does not break single digits and is statistically in the same bed as Harris and Buttigieg.
Yang, Gabbard, Ryan and Inslee are number one candidates. And by that, I mean, if you round up their numbers, the get to 1%. I don’t see a way up for them, even though this is very early in the race. Klobuchar, Booker, and Castro are consistently in the wings, the one digit 1-3 point wings, and there are things about them that might make them factors later on. They seem to be keeping their powder dry. O’Rourke and Buttigieg could possibly be described as candidates that peaked but then sort of guttered. They are still in the race, but at the moment they were supposed to ride into town on their dark horse, the horse was doing something else that day.
Until proven otherwise, it feels like a race between Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris, with Warren and Harris ready to move ahead at any moment, though the Buttigieg-O’Rourke-Booker faction looms small in the background.
In other words, I have no faith in the idea that it is a totally open race. It is a race between twenty-whatever people in which a maximum of five are for real, and we know who the top two or three are and the next two or three will come from a small set of the remainders.
I also have no faith in the order of the leaders. Biden has a history of guttering. I don’t see Sander support moving because of Sanders, but rather, because he absorbs support from other candidates. If ever there was a primary season where an early adoption of a veep is tempting, it is this one. A wavering Biden could be surpassed by a suddenly formed team of two of the top non-front runners, as long as one of them is Sanders. I hasten to add this piece of classic advice about vice presidents: Don’t do that. No talk about the vice president until the convention.
(Hickenlooper and Delaney need new campaign managers. Or just don’t bother.)
There is a new poll pitting various Democrats against Trump. Before you complain to me that we should not be looking at polls because it is not election day, think again and take note of the fact that polls are data and I’m a data-oriented scientist, so don’t even say that to me. (I’m working on a post that will serve as an answer to that complaint every time it comes up on Facebook)
Anyway, this is a Quinnipiac University poll taken in Pennsylvania. Quinnipiacis a good poll. Details are here. Also note that I’m not posting this poll because its results show something I want to push, or use to cause your hair to burst into flames. I’ve not looked at the results, yet here I am writing this blog post. I will now look at the results, figure out a good way to show them to you, then finish the post. brb.
The poll has a LOT of interesting data that will figure as important down the road as the number of candidates cull out and we get to see the results of a bunch of natural experiments (like, which non-dropping out candidate tends to accrete which demographic as they drift away from dropper-outer-candidates).
But here is what the head to head shows:
These results vary considerably when adjusting for age, gender, and race. Note that in this sort of matchup, reaching above 50 is considered by pollsters as a sort of magic number. Only Biden does that here, but Sanders is (obviously) vert close.
I think the most important message here is this: The candidates do not vary much in this very early indication of their electability, even if they vary a great deal in how they rank among Democrats.
Putting aside the head to head and looking at some of the other data, among registered democrats, Biden has 39% support, Sanders has 13% support, with Harris, Warren at 8%, Buttigieg at 6%, Booker at 5%, O’Rourke at 2%, and Klobuchar at 1%. Nobody else registers. Someone else has dropped, interesting, to an apparent low at 2%. I’m thinking people realized, “no, no, NOT someone else, pleasssseee!!!”
Again, that varies by age, gender, race, etc. Among the young, Biden and Sanders are essentially tied (Biden just ahead, 29-27), while among the old, Sanders barely registers and Biden swoops (Biden: 47%, Sanders 4%). Putting both Biden and Sander aside for a moment, and digging into the demographic weeds, Harris, Warren, and Buttigieg pop among those with higher incomes (Sanders gets very little support there, Biden plenty). Harris pops among older folks, Booker and Buttigieg do a bit better with younger folks. Liberals like Buttigieg and Warren.
You don’t see this too often. An “expert,” in this case a journalist that covers the issue, presents a case, and Rachel Maddow looks at her like, “what, are you nuts or something?” then politely tells her so.
Starting after about 8:20.
I’m thinking they are both probably right.
This is imperfect but, well, here it is, in several parts.
This is the scanned part with the searchable text along side it. It is split into many files because the original scans are so large. You can search across several files using a variety of searching tools on any given computer system. Adobe Acrobat may work for you on some OSs.
The report is huge because, instead of being a searchable PDF file, it is a file of 448 pictures of a report. For the record, AJ Barr is pretty much of a dickhead for releasing the report in this form. From a technological point of view, that is obstruction of public justice.
Anyway, here it is in 11 bite size parts:
Enjoy! I’ve only started to read it, but boy, is it interesting. Every page so far.
There is a lot more to come in this saga. I recommend, if you are reading this on the first day or two of the report’s release, try to ignore what everyone is saying. Give the experts a chance to actually read the damn thing, rather than being forced by their producers to say something interesting about a VERY DENSE 448 page report when the printer is still hot.