Bombastic

Google cancels diversity all-hands meeting; "social terrorists" dox Google; and more.


  • “War is essentially the health of the State. The ideal of the State is that within its territory its power and influence should be universal. As the Church is the medium for the spiritual salvation of man, so the State is thought of as the medium for his political salvation. Its idealism is a rich blood flowing to all the members of the body politic. And it is precisely in war that the urgency for union seems greatest, and the necessity for universality seems most unquestioned. The State is the organization of the herd to act offensively or defensively against another herd similarly organized. The more terrifying the occasion for defense, the closer will become the organization and the more coercive the influence upon each member of the herd. War sends the current of purpose and activity flowing down to the lowest levels of the herd, and to its remote branches. All the activities of society are linked together as fast as possible to this central purpose of making a military offensive or military defense, and the State becomes what in peacetimes it has vainly struggled to become—the inexorable arbiter and determinant of men’s businesses and attitudes and opinions. The slack is taken up, the cross-currents fade out, and the nation moves lumberingly and slowly, but with ever accelerated speed and integration, towards the great end, towards that ‘peacefulness of being at war.'”

  • Thus wrote Randolph Bourne, a century ago.

  • In these crazy sped-up times, it may be hard to see what is at stake in the current moment. America and North Korea are on the verge of war, or, as our reality TV president puts it this morning, we are “locked and loaded.” Supporters of President Trump’s bombastic rhetoric, like his adviser Sebastian Gorka, say it’s about time someone took care of North Korea, speaking of the millions of lives at risk the way you might talk about taking care of the trash. If the escalating rhetoric from both sides leads to a shooting war, it will become much harder—if not impossible—for Americans to question Trump’s authority. Such is the logic of war and the psychology of the herd. For all of us who remember how 9-11 transformed the presidency of George W. Bush, this is a very perilous moment. The silence of our leaders is deafening.

  • The Korea crisis is heating up at the same time that the multiple investigations into Trump’s connections to Russia inch further into his business operations, as Benjamin Siegel reports for ABC News. Now congressional investigators wants to question his longtime secretary, Rhona Graff.

  • Opposition watch: Netroots Nation has returned to its roots as a conference focused on grassroots political organizing, David Weigel reports for The Washington Post.

  • Joan Walsh reports for The Nation on the new crop of women running for Virginia’s statehouse, and how archaic practices from national Democratic PACs may hinder their progress.

  • Town hall meetings held by Republican lawmakers during the August recess are as raucous as those in the spring, David Weigel reports for The Washington Post.

  • Voting matters: NPR’s Pam Fessler reports on an ongoing investigation by the state of North Carolina into reports that some county voting systems were hacked in last year’s election.

  • From 2008 to 2016, state and local GOP leaders in Indiana expanded early voting stations in heavily Republican Hamilton county and shrunk them in the state’s biggest Democratic country, Marion, Fatima Hussein reports for the Indianapolis Star. Hamilton County saw a 63% increase in absentee voting as a result, while Marion saw a 23% decrease. Other Republican counties took similar action and reported corresponding increases.

  • The Nation’s Patrick Lawrence writes that the DNC wasn’t hacked by the Russians and that a “locally executed leak is the far more likely explanation.” He bases this judgment on the work of a group of former intelligence officials, the “Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity,” and centers his claim on the work of a pseudonymous individual who claims to have “metadata” showing that the material stolen from the DNC’s servers was transferred at “22 megabytes per second,” a speed faster than most household broadband services.

  • As Brian Feldman points out in New York magazine, Lawrence’s article is written “in techno-gibberish that falls apart under even the slightest scrutiny.” For one thing, connection speeds are measured in megabits per second, not megabytes. And many enterprise operations have access to higher speed services.

  • The Nation’s story is being celebrated by Breitbart News’s Ian Mason as putting the Russian hack story into “freefall.” Well done, my former comrades, well done.

  • Diversity matters: Google cancelled an all-hands meeting to discuss the issues raised by ex-employee James Damore in his attack on diversity, citing concerns that alt-right activists were targeting specific employees whose crowd-sourced questions (Google uses an internal tool called Dory) had leaked, Steven Musil and Richard Nieva report for CNet.

  • NewCo’s John Battelle is furious that trolls—he calls them “social terrorists”—who started to dox Google staffers prior to the all-hands meeting managed to derail the conversation.

  • This is civic tech: Zack Quaintance reports for GovTech on a new fellowship that is giving city data scientists in-depth training on methodologies, cybersecurity, machine learning, agile development, data visualization and more.

  • ICYMI: A long-read for the weekend: Jean Twenge in the Atlantic on whether the first generation to grow up in America not knowing a world pre-Internet and addicted to their smartphones are on the verge of a mental health crisis.

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