Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Monday, August 31, 2015

The Egos Have Landed

by digby

This is the day American jumped the shark:

It's over folks.

We know it helps

by digby

But it doesn't matter. People are dying who do not have to die because a bunch of yahoos insist their useless, violent hobby must be protected:

The first Willie Horton of the Cycle

by digby

And it's against the middle son of the man whose campaign ran the first one:

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

You knew it was only a matter of time before one of these guys ran a revolting ad like this, right?

How do you like it Jeb?

I don't think it will help him.  He's in a party full of very deluded people who think Trump's got the right idea. Talk about being caught between a rock and hard place --- of your own making.

Is Marco dumb or just "uncurious" #likeW

by digby

Steve Benen caught a Rubio pulling a Mitt, which isn't a good thing:

It was arguably the biggest takedown of the 2012 presidential campaign. In the third debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican complained, “Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917…. Our Air Force is older and smaller than at any time since it was founded in 1947.”

The former governor had used the same argument many times on the stump, and the prepared president pounced. “Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed,” Obama explained. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. It’s what are our capabilities?”

It was a rough moment for Romney, whose canned talking points were made to look ridiculous.

And yet, there was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) last week, delivering a big speech on foreign policy, embracing Romney’s argument as his own.

“[President Obama] wasted no time stripping parts from the engine of American Strength. He enacted hundreds of billions in defense cuts that left our Army on track to be at pre-World War II levels, our Navy at pre-WWI levels, and our Air Force with the smallest and oldest combat force in its history.”

As Bloomberg politics dryly reiterated:
[T]he numbers of ships and planes don’t define U.S. military capabilities. Modern warships, notably aircraft carriers and submarines, are far more effective and lethal than their World War II predecessors.
No kidding.

This isn't the first time Rubio has made a truly embarrassing foreign policy gaffe like this:
At the recent CPAC gathering, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a likely Republican presidential candidate, seemed to stumble on one of the basic facts of the Middle East. “The reason Obama hasn’t put in place a military strategy to defeat ISIS is because he doesn’t want to upset Iran,” the Florida Republican said. 
The senator seemed confused. In reality, President Obama has put an anti-ISIS military strategy in place, and that’s fine with Iran, since Iran and ISIS are enemies.

I’d hoped that Rubio just misspoke, or had been briefly poorly but an aide, but apparently not - -at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this afternoon, the far-right Floridian continued to push this strange theory, pressing Secretary of State John Kerry on the point. “I believe that much of our strategy with regards to ISIS is being driven by a desire not to upset Iran so they don’t walk away from the negotiating table on the deal that you’re working on,” Rubio said. “Tell me why I’m wrong.” 
And so, Kerry told him why he’s wrong.

For those who can’t watch clips online, here’s the heart of the exchange.
KERRY: What’s important, senator, with respect to your question is to understand this. And I think this has been a misread by a lot of people up here on the Hill, to be honest with you. There is no grand bargain being discussed here with regards to this negotiation, this is about a nuclear weapon potential. That’s it. And the president has made it absolutely clear they will not get a nuclear weapon. Now the presumption by a lot of people up on the Hill here has been that we somehow aren’t aware of that goal even as we negotiate that goal. Our negotiation is calculated to make sure they can’t get a nuclear weapon. It’s really almost insulting that the presumption here is that we’re going to negotiate something that allows them to get a nuclear weapon.

RUBIO: Well I haven’t discussed about the nuclear weapon but I – and I’m not saying there is a grand bargain – what I’m saying is that I believe that our military strategy towards ISIS is influenced by our desire not to cross red lines That the Iranians have –

KERRY: Absolutely not in the least.

Rubio went on to insist that many of our Sunni allies in the region – including Jordan and U.A.E. – feel as if we’ve kept them “in the dark” about the nuclear talks with Iran, reducing our “trust level” in the region.

Again, Kerry had to patiently explained to the Republican, “Senator, that is actually flat wrong.”

Honestly, it was like watching a competent teacher trying to explain the basics of current events to a student who failed to do his homework. Andrea Mitchell said the Secretary of State took Rubio “to school.”
Rubio is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. His claim to fame, such as it is, is supposed to be foreign policy. But when he talks about it he looks like this guy:


Trump's Village allies

by digby

Here's The Donald's latest atrocity:

“If you think that Huma isn’t telling Anthony—who she’s probably desperately in love with in all fairness to Anthony because why else would she marry this guy? Can you believe it? Can’t see straight—Look, think of it, it’s coming through Huma, she’s got lots of stuff, lots of information and she’s married to a bad guy. … Do you think there’s even a five percent chance that she’s not telling Anthony Weiner—now of a public relations firm—what the hell is coming across? Do you think there’s even a little bit of a chance? I don’t think so … Are there any women in this room who are in love with their husbands who wouldn’t be telling them everything?”

He later told NBC news:

"I don't think she should have been part of the people receiving it, whether it's confidential, why would she be involved?"

You know how women are, amirite? AMIRITE????

Chris Cillizza told Andrea Mitchell this morning that nobody cares about this. But one of Mitchell's other guests pointed out this is actually very important because Clinton is Abedin's "whole world" so it is relevant.

Let's not kid ourselves. Trump is doing their dirty work for them. The Village gossips find any reason to discuss Abedin absolutely thrilling:

That's the level of discourse we have coming from the mainstream press. So you can easily see why they wouldn't find anything Trump says to be particularly shocking. That's where he's getting it.

Why did they do that? Well, they don't want to get scooped like they did with that titillating John Edwards bombshell ever again:

This stuff comes right out of the right wing fever swamp. It's been one of their favorite tropes for 25 years: Hillar is a cold, frigid old feminist lesbian who can't keep Bill happy at home.  And far too many people in political circles, even on the Democratic side, have been willing to roll around in the pig dung with them on this stuff.

If you don't know that this is why the GOP and the press want to dig around in those emails you really were born yesterday.


Ten years ago today

by digby

Via Think Progress timeline:

Wednesday, August 31
1:45AM CDT — FEMA REQUESTS AMBULANCES THAT DO NOT EXIST: “Almost 18 hours later, [FEMA] canceled the request for the ambulances because it turned out, as one FEMA employee put it, ‘the DOT doesn’t do ambulances.’” [Wall Street Journal]

11:20 AM CDT — FEMA STAFF WARNED BROWN THAT PEOPLE WERE DYING AT THE SUPERDOME: Three hours later, Brown’s press secretary wrote to colleagues complaining that Brown needed more time scheduled to eat at a restaurant: “He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes. We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you.” [AP]

NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS ARRIVE IN LOUSIANA, MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, AND FLORIDA: Troops arrive two days after they are requested. [Boston Globe]

superdome2.jpgTENS OF THOUSANDS TRAPPED IN SUPERDOME; CONDITIONS DETERIORATE: “A 2-year-old girl slept in a pool of urine. Crack vials littered a restroom. Blood stained the walls next to vending machines smashed by teenagers. ‘We pee on the floor. We are like animals,’ said Taffany Smith, 25, as she cradled her 3-week-old son, Terry. … By Wednesday, it had degenerated into horror. … At least two people, including a child, have been raped. At least three people have died, including one man who jumped 50 feet to his death, saying he had nothing left to live for. There is no sanitation. The stench is overwhelming.”” [Los Angeles Times, 9/1/05]

PRESIDENT BUSH FINALLY ORGANIZES TASK FORCE TO COORDINATE FEDERAL RESPONSE: Bush says on Tuesday he will “fly to Washington to begin work…with a task force that will coordinate the work of 14 federal agencies involved in the relief effort.” [New York Times, 8/31/05]

JEFFERSON PARISH EMERGENCY DIRECTOR SAYS FOOD AND WATER SUPPLY GONE: “Director Walter Maestri: FEMA and national agencies not delivering the help nearly as fast as it is needed.” [WWL-TV]

waterisrising22.jpg80,000 BELIEVED STRANDED IN NEW ORLEANS: Former Mayor Sidney Barthelemy “estimated 80,000 were trapped in the flooded city and urged President Bush to send more troops.” [Reuters]

3,000 STRANDED AT CONVENTION CENTER WITHOUT FOOD OR WATER: “With 3,000 or more evacuees stranded at the convention center — and with no apparent contingency plan or authority to deal with them — collecting a body was no one’s priority. … Some had been at the convention center since Tuesday morning but had received no food, water or instructions.” [Times-Picayune]

PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY DECLARED FOR ENTIRE GULF COAST: “After a natural disaster, short and long-term medical problems can occur. Diseases like cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and mosquito-borne illnesses tend to break out under these conditions.” [WCBS-TV]

bushplane.jpgBUSH SURVEYS DAMAGE FROM AIR FORCE ONE: President Bush flew over New Orleans on Air Force One. “During the 35-minute tour, Bush clearly saw from his vantage point the damage to the football stadium in New Orleans as well as the flooded neighborhoods, wiped out bridges and slabs of foundations where houses used to stand.” [Fox News]

CHERTOFF “EXTREMELY PLEASED WITH THE RESPONSE” OF THE GOVERNMENT: “We are extremely pleased with the response that every element of the federal government, all of our federal partners, have made to this terrible tragedy.” [Department of Homeland Security]

EARLY AM — BLANCO AGAIN TRIES TO REQUEST HELP FROM BUSH: “She was transferred around the White House for a while until she ended up on the phone with Fran Townsend, the president’s Homeland Security adviser, who tried to reassure her but did not have many specifics. Hours later, Blanco called back and insisted on speaking to the president. When he came on the line, the governor recalled, “I just asked him for help, ‘whatever you have’.” She asked for 40,000 troops.” [Newsweek]

4PM CDT — BUSH GIVES FIRST MAJOR ADDRESS ON KATRINA: “Nothing about the president’s demeanor… — which seemed casual to the point of carelessness — suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.” [New York Times]

7PM CDT — CONDOLEEZZA RICE TAKES IN A BROADWAY SHOW: “On Wednesday night, Secretary Rice was booed by some audience members at ‘Spamalot!, the Monty Python musical at the Shubert, when the lights went up after the performance.” [New York Post, 9/2/05]

8PM CDT — FEMA DIRECTOR BROWN CLAIMS SURPRISE OVER SIZE OF STORM: “I must say, this storm is much much bigger than anyone expected.” [CNN]

Today was the day he did this:

After he returned to Washington he held that bizarre, stiff press conference as we watched people begging to be rescued from the top of their houses.

The New York Times described it the next day:

George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

I wrote that morning:

The pictures coming out of New Orleans are all horrible. But the income disparities among the citizens are brought into stark relief by this tragedy. Everyone is affected of course, but those who had little to begin with are truly left with less than nothing now. A whole lot of people who were hanging by a thread already just dropped into total despair. That dimension of the tragedy really makes my heart ache

Think Progress has a very thorough timeline of events, here. 

"This place is going to look like Little Somalia"

by digby

I wrote about how the media helped create the delayed response to Katrina today for Salon:

“This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.” — Army Times, September 2, 2005
When the levees broke in those early days after Hurricane Katrina, Americans found themselves watching a disaster unfold before their eyes for the second time in four short years. Indeed, sometimes it felt as if the entire decade had been nothing but one disaster after another. As the flood waters rose and overhead shots showed people walking waist deep through toxic floodwater and desperately waving for help from their rooftops, the scope of the crisis became clear.
Unfortunately, almost from the beginning a narrative took shape that would seriously affect the response: The police had abandoned their duties and the city was under attack from roaming gangs of African American thugs, threatening people in their homes and businesses.
There were two famous photographs of Katrina victims published in the media on Tuesday August 30, 2005. In the first, a black New Orleans resident is described as walking through water after having “looted a grocery store,” while in the other, the white subjects were said to have “found” bread and water from a local grocery story. It was the beginning of a couple of days of rising hysteria, particularly on the right, about “looting” and violence.
The most famous example of this from the national punditry was perhaps a column by the Wall Street Journal’s  Peggy Noonan, who wrote:
As for the tragic piggism that is taking place on the streets of New Orleans, it is not unbelievable but it is unforgivable, and I hope the looters are shot. A hurricane cannot rob a great city of its spirit, but a vicious citizenry can. A bad time with Mother Nature can leave you digging out for a long time, but a bad turn in human behavior frays and tears all the ties that truly bind human being–trust, confidence, mutual regard, belief in the essential goodness of one’s fellow citizens.
There were many more long disquisitions and much hand-wringing  among right wingers about the necessity of shooting looters. Some, like Ted Frank of the American Enterprise Institute, finding summary execution to be the “compassionate” approach:
I think shooting looters is a compassionate way to protect the safety and well-being of law-abiding citizens. Time after time it has been shown that the way to prevent deadly anarchic riots is to take firm decisive action to prevent matters from getting to a tipping point.
Mostly what anyone had actually seen at that point were shots of people inside Big Box stores taking goods in the presence of police, who had made a deliberate decision to stand down since they were in the middle of one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent memory and protecting Walmart’s junk didn’t seem like something worth worrying about when bodies were floating down the street.
But beyond the footage of looting, there were rampant, over-the-top rumors of violence, but no pictures of it despite the fact that photographers and film crews were all over the city. Still, the idea took hold and reports of running street battles and armed gangs were everywhere. Most of the world watched in horror in those early days at the devastation and carnage being wreaked by mother nature and crumbling infrastructure. But the mainstream press breathlessly reported on a city that no one could see — a city in a “war zone” in which average citizens were being randomly killed everywhere.
Here’s a fairly typical example of the hysterical reporting from the AFP:
New Orleans was primed for all-out combat Friday, as Iraq-tested troops with shoot-to-kill orders moved into the hurricane-devasted city to quell rioters and looters.
The deployment of 300 members of the Arkansas National Guard came ahead of a tour of the affected region by President George W. Bush, who vowed “zero tolerance” for the armed gangs terrorising the flooded city.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said the guardsmen had been authorized to open fire on “hoodlums” profiteering from the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, which is believed to have left thousands dead.
“These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well trained, experienced, battle tested and under my orders to restore order in the streets,” Blanco said.
“They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded.
“These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will,” she said.
Four days after the killer storm slammed into the US Gulf Coast, New Orleans was still plagued by gunbattles and rapes, with gangs of looters and carjackers roving the streets and bodies just left lying by the roadside.
Residents reported survivors dropping dead in shelters or gunned down outside the New Orleans convention center. Hospitals were evacuated after power ran out and helicopters ferrying patients and babies drew gunfire.
“This is a war zone,” said Melissa Murray, 32, a Louisiana state corrections officer helping in the relief effort.
As you can see, the officials themselves were stoking the sense of panic.
Here was a typical right wing blog post during this period:
Security has become a major concern now, because the NOPD is ineffective and the looters terrorists are roaming the streets. Word is now that they’re lighting buildings on fire, but I can’t confirm that. Anyway, we have to run guard shifts and patrol and it limits our downtime.
It is a zoo out there though, make no mistake. It’s the wild kingdom. It’s Lord of the Flies. That doesn’t mean there’s murder on every street corner. But what it does mean is that the rule of law has collapsed, that there is no order, and that property rights cannot and are not being enforced. Anyone who is on the streets is in immediate danger of being robbed and killed. It’s that bad.
And then the world saw something that no one ever expected to see in the most powerful and wealthy nation on earth –tens of thousands of Americans abandoned at the New Orleans convention center with no water, no food, pleading with a local celebrity, Harry Connick Jr, to do something, anything, to help them. Somehow, Connick, (along with camera crews) had been able to fight through the wild street gangs to find out for himself what was going on. Hour after hour we watched the shocking scenes of mostly elderly men and women and mothers with young children — the most vulnerable residents of the city who hadn’t been able to evacuate — left abandoned to fend for themselves. The sun was shining, there was no flooding near the center. Camera crews were in and they were everywhere. There were scenes of military vehicles driving by old ladies in wheelchairs as people screamed for help.
All over the country, all over the world, people couldn’t believe what they were seeing.  And they asked themselves, “Where is the government, where is the Red Cross?
We found out a few days later that the Red Cross was told not to go into the city by the authorities (which authorities is still a point of dispute) because it was unsafe, what with the roaming thugs killing and raping and all. The government needed to stop all the violence before food and water and medical help could be deployed.
The next year, the LA Times took a look back at the reporting and what they found wasn’t pretty:
Journalists and officials who have reviewed the Katrina disaster blamed the inaccurate reporting in large measure on the breakdown of telephone service, which prevented dissemination of accurate reports to those most in need of the information. Race may have also played a factor.
The wild rumors filled the vacuum and seemed to gain credence with each retelling — that an infant’s body had been found in a trash can, that sharks from Lake Pontchartrain were swimming through the business district, that hundreds of bodies had been stacked in the Superdome basement.
“It doesn’t take anything to start a rumor around here,” Louisiana National Guard 2nd Lt. Lance Cagnolatti said at the height of the Superdome relief effort. “There’s 20,000 people in here. Think when you were in high school. You whisper something in someone’s ear. By the end of the day, everyone in school knows the rumor — and the rumor isn’t the same thing it was when you started it.”
Follow-up reporting has discredited reports of a 7-year-old being raped and murdered at the Superdome, roving bands of armed gang members attacking the helpless, and dozens of bodies being shoved into a freezer at the Convention Center.
Fox News, a day before the major evacuation of the Superdome began, issued an “alert” as talk show host Alan Colmes reiterated reports of “robberies, rapes, carjackings, riots and murder. Violent gangs are roaming the streets at night, hidden by the cover of darkness.”
The Los Angeles Times adopted a breathless tone the next day in its lead news story, reporting that National Guard troops “took positions on rooftops, scanning for snipers and armed mobs as seething crowds of refugees milled below, desperate to flee. Gunfire crackled in the distance.”
“I don’t think you can overstate how big of a disaster New Orleans is,” said Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, a Florida school for professional journalists. “But you can imprecisely state the nature of the disaster. … Then you draw attention away from the real story, the magnitude of the destruction, and you kind of undermine the media’s credibility.”
They did more than undermine their own credibility. Their irresponsible rumor-mongering delayed the response. This fear-mongering about the city being overrun by armed thugs resulted in hours and hours of suffering in the hell of the convention center and the Superdome, not to mention all the other places where people were huddled and frightened waiting for a rescue that was being held back because of rumors the press passed on to officials and officials then looped it back to them as fact.
And there can be little doubt about what made all this so believable to the Peggy Noonans of the world:
“If the dome and Convention Center had harbored large numbers of middle class white people,” [Times-Picayune Editor Jim] Amoss said, “it would not have been a fertile ground for this kind of rumor-mongering.”
BATON ROUGE, La. — They locked down the entrance doors Thursday at the Baton Rouge hotel where I’m staying alongside hundreds of New Orleans residents driven from their homes by Hurricane Katrina.
“Because of the riots,” the hotel managers explained. Armed Gunmen from New Orleans were headed this way, they had heard.
“It’s the blacks,” whispered one white woman in the elevator. “We always worried this would happen.”

Windows 10 — Spyware Disguised as an Operating System

by Gaius Publius

If you're like me and work on a Windows-based system, you get these popups from time to time offering to "upgrade" you to Windows 10, Microsoft's latest and greatest, for free. Normally these upgrades cost $100 or so.

Me, I'm still on Windows 7, since like many I consider Windows 8 both half-baked for professional use and a data-suck for entertainment use. About the first, it was clear when Windows 8 first came out that you couldn't do serious work using that "tiles" screen, and the "Desktop" screen was so like Windows 7, why not just stick with Windows 7, which, after the Vista disaster, actually worked?

About the second, it was also clear that almost everything the casual user wanted to do from that "tiles" screen required (or strongly encouraged the use of) a "Microsoft account" — clearly an attempt to jump-start a massive Microsoft database to compete with Steve Jobs' "Apple account" database.

Most large businesses I work with have avoided Windows 8, and most new systems, like the one I'm using now, can even today be bought with Windows 7. In short, Windows 8, like Vista, was a failure. Windows 7 "fixed" Vista. Would Windows 10 "fix" Windows 8?

I decided to find out. And it didn't take long to discover that Windows 10 is not only worse than Windows 8, it is worse in a worse way. It's one thing to install an application that spies on you. It's another when that spyware application you just installed is the operating system, and controls the whole machine.

Is Windows 10 Worth Installing?

The answer is No, if you're asking me. In fact, it's worth never installing. I'd avoid it until the final minute you're forced to change, and even then, you should hesitate to upgrade. Reason? Under its default settings, Windows 10 is widely reported to be spyware, an operating system that watches you work, even offline, and reports back to Microsoft anything it feels like reporting. If you approve the licensing agreement — and how can you use any software without clicking "I Agree"? — you're giving Microsoft permission to collect any data they can get (based on your settings) and share it in any way they want.

Windows 10 is the ultimate privacy violator — an operating system that wants to watch everything you do and send back whatever it finds or figures out about you.

Windows 10: A Microsoft Spy That Runs Your Computer

I have no direct evidence of this, since I've not seen the OS, nor will I ever attempt to install or use it. But the reports are many. Here's one, posted to LinkedIn (a LinkedIn account may be required; my emphasis except where noted):

Windows 10 – Microsoft’s Big Data-grabbing (or spying?) OS

It’s been a couple of weeks since the launch of Windows 10 and the numerous voices raising concerns over privacy and how it uses personal data are not getting any quieter.

Many of the concerns stem from the fact that if users follow the software’s recommendations and stick to default settings while installing their free upgrade, they are effectively giving Microsoft permission to directly monitor pretty much everything they do on their machines. This includes offline activity such as editing files stored locally in private folders on your computer, as well as everything you do online.

It doesn’t stop there, though. As well as monitoring and storing records of this activity, people installing the upgrade are - perhaps unknowingly if like many they have become complacent about reading privacy policies – giving Microsoft permission to share it with unspecified “partners”, for unspecified reasons.

Although the terms and conditions are incredibly vague about why they are doing this, it’s become clear there are several reasons. These include collecting personal data for targeted advertising purposes (by Microsoft or their partners) as well as to gain a deeper understanding of how their products are being put to use by their millions of users.

Privacy in the cloud

Windows 10, running under its default settings, is clearly designed to learn as much about us as it can. The rapid spread of cloud-based software-as-a-service platforms, such as Microsoft’s own Office 365 and Adobe’s Creative Suite, has introduced us all to the idea of software providers gathering data on how we use their products. However integrating this kind of monitoring into the core of the OS (Operating System) takes things to a whole new level. We might have got used to the idea that our activity within the container of a certain program or service is being analysed somewhere, by someone, for some reason. But the fact that this level of scrutiny is now applied to everything we do on our computers is causing many commentators and online security experts to issue warnings.

Even the contents of your emails and documents stored in private, offline folders can be subject to scrutiny and “disclosure” (to unspecified parties), according to the wording of Microsoft’s privacy policies. Of course, it’s quickly become apparent that this is why Microsoft, which has traditionally charged users around $100 to upgrade to the latest version of their OS has, in an uncharacteristic act of generosity, given it away for free. $100 multiplied by the 14 million who updated in the first day alone is clearly a lot of revenue for them to pass up on. However, while the strategical soundness of some of Microsoft’s recent actions have been questioned, this was far from a stupid move on their part. And there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Of course Microsoft want payment for using their services, only this time they are happy to take it in personal data rather than cash.

There's more, including information about the Personal Advertising ID, a unique identifier that will follow you onto any MS system you use, including Xbox:
One new concept users are becoming aware of is the Personal Advertising ID. Every user on every installation of Windows 10 is assigned one of these, and if you use other Microsoft devices such as a phone, tablet or Xbox games console, your data will be scooped up from those too. By default, details on every web site you visit, your physical location, every command you type or speak to the computer and countless other data points are recorded and uploaded to Microsoft. From there, they will be shared with producers of apps you download and give permission to run on your system, as well as advertisers.
And yes, there's even more bad news than that.

Windows 10 Wants to Share Your Wi-Fi Connection with Your Contacts

Here's another intrusion. Windows 10 wants to give users near you access to your Wi-Fi connection. This comes from Krebs on Security (emphasis in original; some links removed so as not to encourage upgrading):

Windows 10 Shares Your Wi-Fi With Contacts

Starting today, Microsoft is offering most Windows 7 and Windows 8 users a free upgrade to the software giant’s latest operating system — Windows 10. But there’s a very important security caveat that users should know about before transitioning to the new OS: Unless you opt out, Windows 10 will by default prompt to you share access to WiFi networks to which you connect with any contacts you may have listed in Outlook and Skype — and, with an opt-in, your Facebook friends.

This brilliant new feature, which Microsoft has dubbed Wi-Fi Sense, doesn’t share your WiFi network password per se — it shares an encrypted version of that password. But it does allow anyone in your Skype or Outlook or Hotmail contacts lists to waltz onto your Wi-Fi network — should they ever wander within range of it or visit your home (or hop onto it secretly from hundreds of yards away with a good ‘ole cantenna!).

I first read about this over at The Register, which noted that Microsoft’s Wi-Fi Sense FAQ seeks to reassure would-be Windows 10 users that the Wi-Fi password will be sent encrypted and stored encrypted — on a Microsoft server. According to PCGamer, if you use Windows 10’s “Express” settings during installation, Wi-Fi Sense is enabled by default.

“For networks you choose to share access to, the password is sent over an encrypted connection and stored in an encrypted file on a Microsoft server, and then sent over a secure connection to your contacts’ phone if they use Wi-Fi Sense and they’re in range of the Wi-Fi network you shared,” the FAQ reads. ...

There's a yes-but noted further in the article — Yes, but you have to opt in on a network-by-network basis. However, as the original writer notes, "many users are conditioned to click 'yes' to these prompts, and shared networks will be shared to all Facebook, Outlook, and Skype contacts (users can’t pick individual contacts; the access is shared with all contacts on a social network)."

Here's my yes-but to Microsoft — Yes, but why in god's earth do you want this information in the first place?

The Functionality of "Cortana" Comes With a Privacy Price

"Cortana" is Microsoft's name for its Siri-like "digital assistant." The problem is, to "serve" you better, Cortana learns everything it can about you (my emphasis):
Cortana is a personal digital assistant, a kind of silicon secretary who can help make your life easier. Instead of searching for things you ask Cortana - so if you want to know what the weather forecast is, how many pounds are in a kilo, who's winning the football or when Jim's birthday is, you'll ask and Cortana will give you the answer. ...

Cortana is designed to learn about you and store what matters in her Notebook. That means she'll silence your phone during your favoured quiet times, warn you about travel issues and remind you that your friends owe you money. ...

Cortana won't just listen to you, she'll understand you, and she'll be aware of everything from your location to your personal preferences.

So when you ask her to book a hotel, she'll find the kind of hotel you like in the kind of area you like to stay in at the kind of price you want to pay. If you're in an airport she'll anticipate that you need a boarding card and will have it ready when you unlock your phone.
To disable all that data collection, you apparently have to disable Cortana, though I'm not sure even that will disable the spying — and given Microsoft's history, I would never trust them to tell me the truth anyway.

Edward Snowden's famous PRISM slide. Notice the date of Microsoft's collusion.

There were even stories, unsearchable now, of Microsoft using Windows 3 to spy on its beta-test customers, to read their hard disks and report what it found. I can't verify those stories today, but I can verify that I heard them at the time.

Paying a Price for the iHipster Life

Will the current generation of Steve Jobs–loving, faux-hipster iCool people surrender all that privacy for a little "convenience" and some implied in-crowd self-branding? According to the original article above, 14 million people updated to Windows 10 in the first day alone. At $100 per registration, Microsoft surrendered almost $1.5 billion to get something from them.

What did Microsoft give back? Something like this?

iHipsters working at a control-freak company. Apple's counter-factual self-branding is brilliant (source).

My entirely personal advice? The hipsters are paying a very heavy price. Never use Windows 10 until you know for sure it can never spy on you. And even then give it a second thought. Make Microsoft and the NSA work to find out every fact of your online and offline life. If they want to know what days you sleep in and why, make them come to the door and ask.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



How y'all doin'?

by Tom Sullivan

Axel Foley: What? Y'all the second team?
Detective McCabe: We're the first team.

Eat black-eyed peas? Sure. Grits? Occasionally at Waffle House. Collard greens? Never. Say y'all? Once in a blue moon. Maybe. A lot of things you pick up over time. Y'all wasn't one of them.

When as a kid I moved South, the mannerisms, food, and culture (and religion) were pretty foreign. As were the accents. Over time, though, like Henry Higgins I could pick out what part of town people were from by their accents. There are few things more annoying than hearing some blond-haired, southern Californian actor attempting one of those one-size-fits-all, made-for-TV southern accents. The variations are too rich and subtle for that. Although inmigration has watered down accents somewhat overall, occasionally you can still hear one like this from a feisty friend of mine. (Underestimate her because of her accent at your peril.)

Writing in Salon yesterday, Cameron Hunt McNabb examined theories of how the ubiquitous Southernism y'all came into being. Commonly thought a contraction of "you all," that doesn't exactly work:

In academic circles, many subscribe to Michael B. Montgomery’s suggestion that “y’all” descends from the Scots-Irish “ye aw” and not directly from “you all.” He cites a 1737 letter by a Scots-Irish immigrant in New York as an example: “Now I beg of ye aw to come our [over] here.”

Montgomery’s argument relies on two observations about “y’all’s” unique place among English contractions. First, contractions in English place stress the first word and contract the second, such as in the case of “they’re,” where “they” is stressed while “are” has been shortened. But “y’all” does not conform to this pattern. Instead, it stresses the second word, “all,” and contracts the first, “you.” Secondly, there are no other contractions that involve “all” in English, whereas we have lots of contractions involving “will,” “not,” and “are.” These irregularities suggest a more complex origin, such as a cognate word, like “ye aw.”

Except no one really knows. But when you hear Brooklyn-born Eddie Murphy playing a cop from Detroit saying "y'all," as well as a few non-southern attendees at Netroots Nation, it has clearly spread beyond its southern roots. Would that other cultural exports from the South were as harmless.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Trump and stopped clocks

by digby

He's right about Club for Growth. They are a pack of thieves.

“They’re a pack of thieves,” Trump told Breitbart News as he was leaving Nashville’s Rocketown facility. He had just finished delivering a high-energy speech to an overflow crowd of more than 1,000 people.

Trump was attending the annual convention of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, which describes itself as “the grassroots Republican wing of the Republican Party.”

“They [the Club for Growth] came to my office looking for money. I turned them down. That’s why they’re after me,” Trump told Breitbart News.

Earlier in the week, the Club for Growth attacked Trump for his proposal to penalize Ford Motor Company for putting a car manufacturing plant in Mexico rather than Tennessee.

“Donald Trump’s threat to impose new taxes on U.S. car companies will hurt the American economy and cost more American jobs,” David McIntosh, President of the Club for Growth, said in a statement.

“It should thrill liberals and Democrats everywhere that Trump wants to create new taxes and start a trade war to force American companies to work where he demands,” McIntosh added.

Yeah, I don't think the Club for Growth understands Trump at all. He's not about ideology. He's about America winning victories and getting rid of all the bad people. Well, actually tha is an ideology but we're not supposed to talk about it.



Bush's heckuva week

by digby

CBS White House reporter Mark Knoller shared his reporter's notebook from the week Katrina hit:

sun aug 28 CRAWFORD, Day 27 of ranch vacation (26 days at ranch)

Pres Bush summons reporters to the Marine One hangar at his ranch (adjacent property, really) to make 1130am/ct [central time] statement on the forthcoming Hurricane Katrina - promising to do everything in the federal government power to respond and minimize suffering. He also spoke of the completed draft constitution in Iraq. And its importance. No questions.

At Camp Casey, protests hold a prayer service. Rev Al Sharpton arrives late, but takes part. Later in the day, actor Martin Sheehan [sic: should read "Sheen"] arrives to support Sheehan.

mon aug 29 CRAWFORD. Day 28 of ranch vacation (27 days at ranch).


Bush and FLOTUS [first lady] depart ranch to TSTC Airport and AF-1 [Air Force One] en route: EL MIRAGE, AZ: Arrive Luke AFB [Air Force Base] and m/c [motorcade] to the RV Park to try to drum up interest among senior citizens for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that goes into effect in January. Urges seniors to fill out the forms required to qualify for the plan. Also uses his remarks to offer prayers and pledges of aid to those hard hit by Hurricane Katrina:

"I want the folks there on the gulf coast to know that the federal government is prepared to help you when the storm passes."

Also uses speech to trumpet draft constitution in Iraq and US determination to see the mission through. Declares "I am very optimistic" about Iraq.

Also uses speech to offer assurances to border states that he shares their concern about border security and illegal immigration. Back to airport and AF-1 to:

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA: Arrives Ontario Intl Airport and m/c [motorcade] to holding room. Then to the James L Brulte Senior Center for another "conversation" on Medicare. Then back to airport and AF-1 to:

CORONADO, CA: Arrives Naval Air Station North Island and m/c to the Hotel Del Coronado for RON [remain overnight]. Some anti-war protestors demonstrate nearby.

tue aug 30


CORONADO, CA: After a morning conference call briefing on Katrina, Bush m/c to Naval Base Coronado for speech marking 60th Anniversary of VJ Day. Begins remarks with words of concern for Katrina victims.

"The federal state and local governments are working side by side to do all we can to help people get back on their feet. and we have got a lot of work to do."

Uses body of speech to draw parallels between WWII and the War on Terrorism.

"I made my decision: we''ll stay on the offensive, stay with the people of iraq. and we will prevail."

Sits for interview with Armed Forces Radio and TV and then visits with wounded military personnel at Naval Medical Center San Diego. Presents Purple Heart to one wounded navy corpsman. Also meets with doctors from the USN Hospital Ship Mercy to salute their service to victims from last year's tsunami.

Back to NAS North Island and AF-1 back to: CRAWFORD, TX: Day 29 of ranch vacation (28 days at ranch)

Arrives TSTC Waco and Marine One back to the ranch.

wed aug 31 CRAWFORD, TX: Day 30 of ranch vacation (29 days at ranch)

***Bush ends working vacation and departs for DC***

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush ends his ranch vacation two days early, departing about 1010am/CT by Marine One to TSTC Waco and boards AF-1.

On the way back to DC, AF-1 flies over New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi and Mobile, giving mr bush a aerial view of some of the flooding and destruction.

He spends 35 minutes looking out the left side of the aircraft.

Back at the White House, he meets with his task force on the hurricane response, and then in the rose garden, makes a statement vowing a massive relief operation. But he says "this recovery will take a long time. this recovery will take years."

thu sep 1 WH. [White House]

Bush has usual briefings. His schedule dominated by Katrina response including a 10a meeting with DefSec Rumsfeld and Gen Myers. Bush discusses the economic impact in a lunch meeting with Fed Chairman Alan Greespan. Then discusses it with his economic team.

At 2p, Bush meets with his dad and former Pres Clinton - who agreed to help raise private contributions for hurricane relief, as they did for the tsunami that struck Asia late last year.

Bush makes statement and discusses gasoline shortage and soaring prices - urging americans to use energy prudently declaring "don't buy gas if you don't need it."

Later in the day, WH announces Pres Bush is asking congress for a supplemental appropriation of $10.5 billion for hurricane relief including ½ billion for DOD.

Senate voting late tonight. House tomorrow.

fri sep 2 WH.

On the way to Marine One for a trip to the hurricane zone, Pres Bush makes a 9A statement to reporters in which he concedes that the results of the federal response so far "are not acceptable." But he believes the response itself has been good.

But he also says: "I want to assure the people of the affected areas and this country that we'll deploy the assets necessary to get the situation under control."

Further, he says, "we'll get on top of this situation. and we're gonna help people that need help."

Boards Marine One for Andrews AFB, boards AF-1 en route:

MOBILE, AL: Arrives Mobile Regional Airport and takes part in briefing on Katrina's impact from FEMA Director Mike Brown, Gov. Bob Riley of AL, Gov. Haley Barbour of MS and others.

Bush says: "my attitude is if it's not going exactly right we're gonna make it go exactly right. If there's problems, we're gonna address the problems. and that's what I've come down to assure people."

But he doesn't blame FEMA, telling director Michael Brown - "Brownie, you've done a heck of a job."

Boards Marine One for aerial tour of hard hit areas of Alabama and Mississippi, landing in:

BILOXI, MS: Bush boards m/c for ground tour of hurricane ravaged neighborhoods. On a debris strewn street, Bush encounters two sisters, sobbing about the loss of their home and belonging, the older woman looking for clothes for their son. Bush hugs them and offers comfort. Bush walks further down the street to a Salvation Army canteen truck to talk with aid givers and recipients.

During a chat with reporters, he says:

"we're gonna clean all this mess up. the federal government is gonna - will spend money to clean it up." Bush calls the destruction "unbelieveable."

He disputes assertions that the US military commitment in iraq hurt the disaster response along the gulf coast:

"We've got a job to defend this country in the war on terror, and we've got a job to bring aid and comfort to the people of the Gulf Coast, and we'll do both. We've got plenty of resources to do both."

He clarifies his "unacceptable" statement of earlier in the day: "I am satisfied with the response. I'm not satisfied with all the results."

He is clearly awestruck by the level of devastation: "these are tough times. This is a storm the likes of which, you know, I pray I never see again."

Back to the airport and Marine One to:

NEW ORLEANS: Arrives Louis Armstrong Intl Airport in Kenner, LA., for meetings with Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin. Then boards Marine One for aerial tour of the flooding and destruction.

Lands at Hammond Street Bridge to view work being done to repair 17th Street Levee that collapsed and allowed the flooding of the city. Offers attaboys to workers. The same to personnel at the nearby Coast Guard station. Then Marine One back to the airport and final statement of the day.

Says he knows people are suffering.

"I'm not going to forget what I've seen. 084 I understand the devastation requires more than one days' attention. it's gonna require the attention of this country for a long period of time.

"This is one of the worst natural disasters we have faced with national consequences. and therefore there will be a national response.

"I believe that the great city of new Orleans will rise again and be a greater city of new Orleans."

Boards AF-1 for flight back to Andrews.

Arrives WH around 830p. Heads to Oval Office to quickly sign the $10.5-Billion emergency funding bill for hurricane relief.

sat sep 3 WH
***Chief Justice William Rehnquist Dies tonight at age 80***

With Rumsfeld, Myers and Chertoff at his side, Bush delivers his Saturday radio address live from the Rose Garden. He announces he's dispatching 7000 more active duty troops, army and marines, to the disaster zone.

Admitting that some victims are not getting the help they need, Bush vows to change that: "In America, we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need. And the federal government will do its part."

sun sep 4 WH.
Bush begins day attending 8A Sunday worship service at St. John's.

At 10a, Bush makes a statement in the Roosevelt Room, paying tribute to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died last night.

"He was extremely well respected for his powerful intellect. He was respected for his deep commitment to the rule of law and his profound devotion to duty. He provided superb leadership for the federal court system, improving the delivery of justice for the American people, and earning the admiration of his colleagues throughout the judiciary."

Bush departs via m/c at 1021am for the American Red Cross to tour their disaster relief operation. Makes statement of support, urging contributions. Is back at the WH by 1110a.

Keep in mind that there were bodies floating in the flood waters all over New Orleans.

Tatoo them?

by digby

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Saturday that if he were elected president he would combat illegal immigration by creating a system to track foreign visitors the way FedEx tracks packages.

Mr. Christie, who is far back in the pack of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, said at a campaign event in New Hampshire that he would ask the chief executive of FedEx, Frederick W. Smith, to devise the tracking system.

Immigration has become a top issue in the Republican campaign, with the front-runner, Donald J. Trump, having vowed to deport the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country and to build a wall along the United States’ southern border.

“At any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It’s on the truck. It’s at the station. It’s on the airplane,” Mr. Christie told the crowd in Laconia, N.H. “Yet we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them.”

He added: “We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in.”

Fed-ex bar codes all it's packages and puts them through scanners everywhere they go.

Is he suggesting that we tattoo bar-codes on humans and put them through scanners everywhere they go? I don't know what else he could be talking about.

There's a history of tattooing people to keep track of them. Not a good history.


Funny headline 'o the day (to me anyway)

by digby

It's a good article. But anyone who's been reading me over this past decade knows that I've been writing about that problem for a very long time so this revelation falls into the "you don't say" category.

I consider them nothing more than torture devices more that 90% of the time. And police seem to be reluctant to use them in the situations they are designed for. So, they're useless.

Ten years ago today 

by digby

This was how it unfolded:


MIDDAY — CHERTOFF CLAIMS HE FINALLY BECOMES AWARE THAT LEVEE HAS FAILED: “It was on Tuesday that the levee–may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday–that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap and that essentially the lake was going to start to drain into the city.” But later reports note that the Bush administration learned of the levee breach on Aug. 29. [Meet the Press, 9/4/05; AP]

PENTAGON CLAIMS THERE ARE ENOUGH NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS IN REGION: “Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said the states have adequate National Guard units to handle the hurricane needs.” [WWL-TV]

MASS LOOTING REPORTED, SECURITY SHORTAGE CITED: “The looting is out of control. The French Quarter has been attacked,” Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said. “We’re using exhausted, scarce police to control looting when they should be used for search and rescue while we still have people on rooftops.” [AP]

U.S.S. BATAAN SITS OFF SHORE, VIRTUALLY UNUSED: “The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore. The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents. But now the Bataan’s hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty.” [Chicago Tribune]



Here's what the right had to offer that day:

I think it's time to face facts. That place is going to be a Mad Max/thunderdome Waterworld/Lord of the Flies horror show within the next few hours. My advice is to prepare yourself now. Hoard weapons, grow gills and learn to communicate with serpents. While you're working on that, find the biggest guy you can and when he's not expecting it beat him senseless. Gather young fighters around you and tell the womenfolk you will feed and protect any female who agrees to participate without question in your plans to repopulate the earth with a race of gilled-supermen. It's never too soon to be prepared.

And then this:

Knuckle Smacking [Jonah Goldberg ]
Doc Bainbridge chastises me for my insensitivity and implores my more mature colleagues to take me to task. He even goes so far as to call me Taranto-esque, for what that's worth.

Perhaps Professor Bainbridge — of whom I am a fan — thinks something really awful will befall the denizens of the Superdome and therefore making a joke at their expense is wrong. My guess is that it will simply be a really unpleasent time for the remainder of the day, but hardly so unpleasent as to sanctify them with refugee or some other victim status. I assumed the reference to gill-growing and whatnot made it clear where I was coming from. I'm sorry if we don't always fulfill the good professor's expectations around here. But it can't be all brandy-snifters and Latin puns in the Corner.

Immediate reactions to tragedy are always telling. And it only got worse as the week wore on.


Playing Washington for a sucker

by Tom Sullivan

Nicholas Kristof offers a reverie this morning on "our extraordinary national inheritance, one of the greatest gifts of our ancestors — our public lands." Visionaries such as Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot fought to preserve them for the enjoyment of all:

Their vision reflected a deep belief at the time, among Republicans as well as Democrats, in public services that transcended class. The result was the world’s best public school system at the time, networks of public libraries, public parks and beaches, and later a broad system of public universities and community colleges.

Those are at risk today in a venal culture driven more by bottom lines than common goods. One half expects any day to hear a plan to sell off Yellowstone or Yosemite as "weekend homes for Internet tycoons," as Kristof suggests. The Midas cult has not yet taken drills and sledgehammers to our heritage the way ISIS has to the cradle of civilization. But while our financial cult's methods are more subtle, its goals are similar: to erase the very memory of a culture. Here, monuments to collective achievements dim the gleam of personal shrines erected to Self.

Public universities accessible to all are under threat from the cult's policy drills and sledgehammers. Washington Monthly  profiles LSU Chancellor F. King Alexander, whose fight to preserve public higher education puts him at odds with efforts to remove the public from higher education. At a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing this summer chaired by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, LSU's King Alexander argued for more federal regulation:

The “greatest challenge facing public universities,” King Alexander explains, is that states today spend about half as much on higher education on a per capita income basis as they did in 1981. This is a direct result, he says, of a regulatory failure built into federal law. In other areas of federal policy, such as transportation and health care, federal dollars come with strings attached—states have to pitch in a set amount of money too. That’s not the case for higher education, where money follows the student to private and public colleges alike, and states have no requirements to fund public universities at a certain (or indeed any) level. The result is that when states are under budget pressure, as they have been in the years since the financial crisis, they slash spending on higher ed. The burden of those cuts then gets shifted to students, in the form of higher tuition, and to the federal government, in greater spending on grants, tax credits, and subsidized student loans.

Pouring more money into federal higher education support, argued Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, will do no good so long as states keep disinvesting in it. Freshman Republican Bill Cassidy of Louisiana reluctantly agreed, “I’m against states being mandated to do something, but it appears unless states are mandated to do something they’re not going to do so.” The hearing did not go in the direction Lamar Alexander had wanted. He hopes to rewrite the Higher Education Act (HEA) to remove "costly and burdensome federal red tape imposed on states and colleges."

To that end, King Alexander wants federal dollars to come with strings requiring states to live up to their obligation to provide adequate public funding as so many state constitutions (and statehood enabling acts) require. He believes "that as a condition of federal higher education aid, states should be required to provide a minimum amount of their revenues to their public colleges and universities." King succeeded in getting a “maintenance of effort” provision into a piece of 2008 federal legislation that set a floor for state funding as a qualification for federal support. While many states cut their funding to within 1 percent of the floor, they did not go below it. Not until the law expired.

The disagreement over maintenance of effort is one over the proper role of the federal government. Lamar Alexander reflected the Republican Party’s view on states’ rights when he told me that maintenance of effort “usurp[s] the prerogative of the constitutional authority of governors and legislators to decide how to spend state dollars by, in effect, being coercive.” King, for his part, describes himself as a “federalist” when it comes to education policy and says “states’ rights is George Wallace standing in front of the Alabama admissions office not letting anybody in.” To King, the debate over maintenance of effort is nothing less than a battle over whether Americans of modest birth will have anything like the same opportunities as the affluent to better themselves through higher education. Spend enough time around King, and you get the sense that he became a public university president less because he wants to run a school than because it provides him a parapet from which to fend off the hordes trying to destroy public higher education.

King has been making his arguments for twenty years, but until recently Democrats were more focused on expanding the direct student aid program to help poor and middle-class students by increasing Pell Grants and middle-class tax credits, and creating generous repayment plans for student loans. But as student loan debt has risen and governors like Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker in Wisconsin cut higher education budgets, Democrats are increasingly realizing that their unquestioning advocacy of federal direct aid has allowed states to play Washington for a sucker. That’s why they chose King Alexander as their witness.

There is a cost to maintaining a country and its character. Not just in blood, but in treasure. Too many of our leaders quick to spend the former are more miserly when it comes to the latter.