October 31, 2014

How to think about the question "Was Mary Burke fired from Trek?"

Christian Schneider offers 4 pointers:
1.  The debate seems to be largely one of semantics...
If your father and brother decided they wanted to remove you from your position in the family company, they wouldn't label you "fired." They'd probably do what they could to shield you.
2.  When asked for sales number from Burke’s European days by the Associated Press, John Burke said that he “did not have detailed financial records from that far back, but there was one year where the company had a loss.” The idea that a multimillion dollar corporation that operates around the world doesn’t keep financial records from 20 years ago is preposterous.  If there are no records, then where does Mary Burke get the numbers that she raised sales from $3 million to $50 million? Further, how is it that Trek has enough institutional memory to trash its ex-employees who are named in the initial story, but can’t seem to remember why Mary Burke left the company?...
These are Schneider's substantive points. Point 3 is just tweaking liberals for treating this one secretive big corporation different from others. Point 4 refers to the assertion made (by whom?) that Burke "moved Trek’s European offices from Frankfurt, Germany to Amsterdam because she 'didn’t care for the German people' and because Amsterdam 'better reflected her lifestyle.'" I don't see what that has to do with whether Burke was fired, and Schneider seems to be repeating what he admits is "entirely hearsay" because it might offend the many people of German extraction who live in Milwaukee, "the most German city in America."

Anyway, that hearsay, even if true, is paraphrase. A preference for Amsterdam as a base for an American bike company might be quite sound, and who knows what casual things one might say explaining that decision to confidantes. 

A thuddingly simplistic interpretation of the risks advertising on "The Daily Show."

Jaime Fuller at WaPo points out the "Daily Show" bit where Jon Stewart acknowledges that Koch Industries is one of the show's sponsors and runs a parody of their ad in which the voiceover listing good things the company does is replaced by a list of bad things, like "rearranging polar bears" and "lubricating birds."

Fuller articulates the "lesson": "Make sure that the content surrounding your ad buy doesn't disagree with you and have the ability to try and neutralize the effectiveness of your ad. Because they probably will."

That's a thuddingly simplistic interpretation. It could be a perfectly good choice for Koch Industries to put its ad on "The Daily Show" even knowing that it would trigger the parody.

"The Daily Show" continually slams the Koch brothers, whether they advertise on the show or not. At least the ad provides some counterweight, some nudge toward skepticism about the world view presented on the show. And the parody is so heavy-handed that some listeners might begin to think: Is it really that bad? Or even: What are liberals so afraid of here?

Some independent thoughts might arise. Like: Dark money? Don't Democrats have their own "dark money"? And: There's something creepy about fixing upon and demonizing 2 particular American citizens.

"I don’t care who you are, if you’re African-American in this country, you know what the deal is … the deal that you’re black."

Said Spike Lee, who was asked what he tells his own children about race. It was: "People who get in trouble are the people who forget they’re black."

"If the court puts Texas back under federal preclearance, it will be a victory for Eric Holder and the Department of Justice..."

"... which is using lawsuits in Texas and North Carolina as test cases to try to restore preclearance to those states that seem to be engaging in the most discrimination. The DOJ got lucky to draw as the trial judge in the Texas voter ID case Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, an Obama appointee who drafted a well-reasoned and comprehensive opinion slamming the state of Texas for discriminatory and unconstitutional conduct."

Writes lawprof Richard Hasen at Talking Points Memo.

To you, this may be Halloween.

To me, it was the last day I could win my snow bet with Meade...

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... and I won.

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October 30, 2014

White tree.

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"The men who are sitting in their offices or in cafes watching this video will... be able to comfortably assure themselves that they don’t have time to sit on hydrants..."

"... in the middle of the day and can’t properly pronounce 'mami.' They might do things to women that are worse than catcalling, but this is not their sin." Says Hanna Rosin, analyzing the racial politics of that woman-walking-down-the-street viral video.

"Beyond Taibbi's behavior, whatever it might have been, it really sounds like Omidyar has no idea what he wants to do with the company."

"That really bodes ill for The Intercept."

"Keats said I was right to invite him: due to its glutinous texture, gluey..."

"... lumpishness, hint of slime, and unusual willingness to/disintegrate, oatmeal must never be eaten alone."

"Why Don’t We Eat Swans Anymore?"

"[R]oast swan was a favored dish in the courts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, particularly when skinned and redressed in its feathers and served with a yellow pepper sauce," writes Monica Kim in Modern Farmer.
Swans have been the property of the Crown since around the twelfth century, but Edward IV’s Act Concerning Swans in 1482 clearly defined that ownership. To this day, Queen Elizabeth II participates in the yearly Swan Upping, in which the royal Swan Master counts and marks swans on the Thames, and the kidnapping and eating of swans can be considered a treasonous crime....

“Nobody has ever requested swan,” says Mark Lahm, chef and owner of Henry’s End in Brooklyn. Lahm’s restaurant is one of the few in New York to focus on wild game and has claimed to serve every meat imaginable: bear, turtle, kangaroo—everything, except swan. “Swan is not an animal that is hunted and besides it has the ‘cute’ factor going for it,” Lahm says. “I cannot imagine it on my menu.”
But there are places in the United States where swans are considered pests, threatening other native species of birds. And the Queen is irrelevant here. Would you eat swan? If you want to know how it tastes, it's "delicious — deep red, lean, lightly gamey, moist, and succulent."

At the Orange Café...

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... feel free to talk about whatever subjects I have failed to raise for your commentary thus far today.

And, by the way — stop me if you've heard this — you can support this blog — if that's something you'd like to do — by doing your Amazon shopping going in through The Althouse Portal.

"10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Man."


"Is Social Psychology Biased Against Republicans?"

Apparently, it is.

"This astonishing photograph shows [9-year-old] Axel Moss cowering in fear..."

"... as the 3-foot tall winged monster lunged towards him."

RELATED: "Maybe the last picture is the first picture and they lost the kid in the shark tank.'/"Only way for the third picture to make sense would be if the wife ate him."

"Nurse Kaci Hickox left her Maine home Thursday morning for a bicycle ride with her boyfriend as police could only watch."

"'It's a beautiful day for a bike ride,' the defiant nurse cheered to assembled reporters as she and Theodore Wilbur wheeled off."
"You could hug me. You could shake my hand. I would not give you Ebola... I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based... I’m fighting for something much more than myself. There are so many aid workers coming back and it scares me to think of how they are going to be treated, how they are going to feel."

"These women have been treated like cattle."

"They have been subjected to physical and sexual violence, including systematic rape and sex slavery. They've been exposed in markets in Mosul and in Raqqa, Syria, carrying price tags."

"Rather than try to train their provosts and professors to act like prosecutors," colleges are outsourcing their investigation of sexual assault to former prosecutors.

NPR reports:
"The phone starts ringing, you know, the first day after Labor Day, and I sort of joke that I'm like legal 911," Perkins says. The schools are "stressed like you cannot believe," [said Djuna Perkins is a former prosecutor who is now an investigator-for-hire]. They would rather have someone else handle the investigations, she adds, "because they, at a certain point, might feel a little bit out of their element."...
Perkins interrogates the students:
That means asking questions like, "Well, when you did this particular thing was she making pleasurable moans? Was she lifting her pelvis to get clothes off? That all sort of goes into the mix," Perkins explains...

Perkins has had several cases that involved S&M that was at least initially consensual; she says it takes a lot of experience and training to remain consistently fair and nonjudgmental.

"'Cause my real reaction when students are talking about stuff like that — I'm like, 'oh my God, these kids, what are they doing?' " Perkins says with a laugh.

"A 29-year-old terminal cancer sufferer who had previously spoken of her plan to take her life on November 1 has had a change of heart."

"In a video released on Wednesday, Brittany Maynard said she hasn't decided when she'll end her life, but it remains a decision that she's determined to make before getting too ill."

Wisconsin State Journal runs the Trek-fired-Burke story.

The article "Former Trek executive says Mary Burke was forced out in mid-1990s" went up about a half hour ago. Yesterday, we saw this story on a clearly conservative website, and I think it's significant that it has now passed through the journalistic filters of this mainstream newspaper. (For reference: the Wisconsin State Journal endorsed Obama in 2008 and Romney in 2012. It endorsed Walker in 2010.)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke was forced out of her job at her family’s company, Trek Bicycle, in 1993, a top-ranking company executive at the time said Wednesday. However, Trek CEO John Burke rejected that assertion, saying his sister left on her own and that allegations she was fired are “a highly orchestrated move by Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign.”
What's the evidence of orchestration by the Walker campaign? It's strange to lob an allegation like that as you're trying to cast doubt on another allegation. I haven't seen anything tying the Trek-fired-Burke story to Walker, and considering the years of harassment Walker has received from the John Doe investigation, it's hard to understand why he'd risk engaging in some "highly orchestrated move."

Anyway, the story that appeared in the Wisconsin Reporter was based on allegations from Gary Ellerman, who is the Jefferson County Republican Party chairman and who himself seems to have been fired from Trek. The Wisconsin Reporter has received a $190,000 grant from the Bradley Foundation and the foundations president is Walker’s campaign chairman.

But the Wisconsin State Journal story is based on the statements of Thomas Albers, who worked at Trek from 1982 to 1997 and was chief operating officer and president in the last 4 years of that stint. Albers was responding to questions asked by reporters who were apparently checking out the truth of what Ellerman had said:
“We were losing a significant amount of money,” Albers said. “A lot of the people that reported to her in Europe were threatening to leave because of her management style. She wanted things done her way and people said that she wasn’t listening to them, that she didn’t value their input.”...

Albers, who oversaw finances and manufacturing, said Richard Burke sent him to Europe to evaluate Mary Burke’s performance after John Burke had determined that a change was needed. Albers said he later organized a meeting in Waterloo at which Burke had to explain the company’s poor performance to about 35 executives....
John Burke purports not to remember that meeting, though Albers says he was there. Do Mary and John Burke want to say that Albers is lying? Albers has contributed to Republican candidates, including a paltry $50 to Walker. He left Trek, we're told "on good terms in 1997 to become CEO of Specialized Bicycle Components," and he had something nice to say about Mary Burke: "I’ve always thought she was very bright. She has an outstanding education." But "I just don’t think she was ready for that job in Europe."

ADDED: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had the Trek-fired-Burke story up last night with the headline "Ex-Trek execs with conservative ties say Mary Burke was forced out." The Journal Sentinel ties the story to criticism of Mary Burke's 2-year service as commerce secretary in the Doyle administration. (Jim Doyle, a Democrat, was governor just before Walker.)

Why is the NYT exposing the Democratic Party's pandering to black people?

The top story at its website since last night begins:
In the final days before the election, Democrats in the closest Senate races across the South are turning to racially charged messages — invoking Trayvon Martin’s death, the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Jim Crow-era segregation — to jolt African-Americans into voting and stop a Republican takeover in Washington....

In North Carolina, the “super PAC” started by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, ran an ad on black radio that accused the Republican candidate, Thom Tillis, of leading an effort to pass the kind of gun law that “caused the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.”

In Georgia, Democrats are circulating a flier warning that voting is the only way “to prevent another Ferguson.” It shows two black children holding cardboard signs that say “Don’t shoot.”

The messages are coursing through the campaigns like a riptide, powerful and under the surface, largely avoiding television and out of view of white voters. That has led Republicans to accuse Democrats of turning to race-baiting in a desperate bid to win at the polls next Tuesday.
Why would the NYT push what seems to be a Republican talking point? Why would the NYT direct the entire country to look at ads that the Democratic Party supposedly only wants black people to see? It's possible that the NYT is simply following neutral journalistic principles, but I find it hard to believe that, on the eve of the election, the NYT isn't trying to help Democrats.

So the question becomes: How can this exposure of blatant race-baiting be thought to help the Democrats? I'll list all the ideas I can think of right now, and you can help me refine and add to the list and also opine on the soundness of the various listed points. There are 2 aspects to soundness: 1. Whether the proposition is true, and 2. Whether the editors at the NYT believe it.

1. The racial material in the ads is aimed at black voters, but other voters looking on are alerted to their otherwise more marginal concern about racial matters in America, and seeing these materials tips them toward voting Democratic, and therefore it's helpful to give wider exposure to these ads.

2. Race has not been a sufficiently important issue in this election, and nothing is happening right now to drive it forward. The NYT is looking at an array of possibly newsworthy stories with a racial angle, and this was the best one they could find. There's at least some potential to get some candidates talking about Trayvon Martin and Ferguson again.

3. Lure Republicans into talking about race, because you've got to get them talking about race to create the risk that they'll say something stupid about race. Those damned Republicans have been tight-lipped, and this might loosen them up.

4. It's a longer game. The NYT sees this election as a disaster for Democrats, so kick them while they're down, build some semblance of distance, and make that a foundation upon which to build a Democratic victory in 2016.