Montana GOP candidate body-slams Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs

Could the political climate continue to devolve? We are seemingly living in an alternative facts, fake news, post-factual alternate universe where the alt-right is position close to the seat of power. The media has been labeled as enemy of the people by the President, whose recklessness has trickled down to brazen acolytes like Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in a special congressional election in Montana. Gianforte explicably attacked Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. There were no video of the incident, but there is audio, which didn’t dissuade Gianforte’s campaign from releasing an alternate version of what happened:

“Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

Fortunately, journalistic integrity is still alive, and from Fox News no less.

Merriam Webster, who has been killing it on Twitter since Trump became president, had the best commentary:

Brief history of insurance

My health insurance broker, Gerry Silverman, has written a brief history of insurance which has over 3,000 years of history. Gerry writes:

Insurance has a history that dates back to the ancient world. Over the centuries, it has developed into a modern business of protecting people from various risks. The industry has been profitable for many years and has been an important aspect of private and public long-term finance.

Insurance, to me, is a mechanism humans have developed to facilitate, enhance and protect consumerism. We get insurance to offset risk, to counteract the possibility of mishaps. This is not judgment on my part, but I do find it fascinating how we have come to this. We arrive in this world not owning anything and when we leave this world we will not be able to take anything with us. So the concept of ownership is something that we have developed, primarily because of our biological instincts for survival. We amass food, shelter, and whatever for survival. Somewhere along the way we invented ownership. Once we have entitlements, we invented insurance to protect those entitlements. Consumerism is fascinating.

Benjamin Wittes recounts what James Comey told him

This post by Benjamin Wittes on his Lawfare blog sheds light on the Comey firing. Wittes is a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He’s also a friend of Comey’s and has unique insights into what Comey faced from the Trump White House.

Wittes wrote:

 Comey understood Trump’s people as having neither knowledge of nor respect for the independence of the law enforcement function. And he saw it as an ongoing task on his part to protect the rest of the Bureau from improper contacts and interferences from a group of people he did not regard as honorable.

A very interesting and worthwhile read.

The daily headlines are starting to look like they came from an Alan Moore graphic novel

This is from today’s New York Times:

Trump Told Russians That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From Investigation

Seriously. Furthermore, the article features this photo:

As we know, the White House barred American journalists from President Trump’s meeting in the Oval Office with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak. So photos from the meeting, including the one above, come exclusively from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So no American reporters allowed, yet Russian photographers were. In. The. White. House.

The FCC takes first steps toward dismantling Net Neutrality Protections

From Wired:

 THE BROADBAND INDUSTRY has scored a major victory: The Federal Communications Commission just took the first step toward overturning its own Obama-era net neutrality protections.

The rules won’t disappear overnight. In a party-line vote today, the FCC formally agreed to start the process of gathering feedback before drafting a more specific plan, which could take months (#bureaucracy). But FCC chair Ajit Pai has made it clear that, barring a successful legal challenge, the agency will give up its authority to actually enforce net neutrality regulations.

The rules that prevent Internet Service Providers from blocking, throttling or discriminating against (via paid prioritization or “fast lanes”) any content will now certainly begin to be whittled away thanks to a 2-1 party-line vote at the FCC.

I am an early cord-cutter and have been getting all my television content from internet access. I rely on being online and consume a lot of data, averaging 300+ GB monthly. The average U.S. household monthly broadband usage in 2016 was 190 GB. Without net neutrality protections, ISPs will get to do whatever they want. Will the free market be able to rein in abuses? Or will innovations actually happened due to increased competition? I think I should expect my bill to increase.

Chris Cornell, Soundgarden and Audioslave Frontman, Dies at 52

From the New York Times:

  Chris Cornell, the powerful, dynamic singer whose band Soundgarden was one of the architects of grunge music, died on Wednesday night in Detroit hours after the band had performed there. He was 52.

The death was a suicide by hanging, the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon. It said a full autopsy had not yet been completed.

It looks like depression has taken another. David Foster Wallace, Robin Williams and Alexander McQueen are high profile suicides by hanging. Chris Cornell joins the list of gone-too-soons. RIP.