Donald Trump has named South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as his ambassador to the UN. This is, as Dan McLaughlin says over at National Review, a little puzzling. It's puzzling first because it's not clear why Haley would want the job. And it's puzzling second because she has no foreign policy background and has criticized Trump in the past:

Does the willingness to hire Haley tell us much about Trump? I doubt we will see much in the way of ideology as the basis of any of Trump’s hires outside of the jobs that handle immigration and trade policy. Sure, it shows Trump hiring a former critic, but first, Haley endorsed Trump in the general election and stuck by that endorsement without wavering (unlike, say, Kelly Ayotte or Joe Heck, who now seem persona non grata with Trump); second, it could sideline a potential (if unlikely) 2020 primary threat by bringing her inside the tent without giving her a position of great influence; and third, it rewards an early Trump endorser, South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster, who will now become Governor and could run in 2018 as the incumbent.

Conservatives just can't bring themselves to admit what Trump is up to, can they? So let's cut through the chaff and go straight to Wikipedia:

Haley was born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, on January 20, 1972, to an Indian Sikh family.

Haley is a woman, and she's the daughter of immigrants. Trump wants a few non-white non-males in his cabinet, and he likely couldn't care less about the UN. So why not? He's not rewarding anyone and he's not worried about 2020. Nor does he care that Haley is bizarrely unqualified for a job that dozens of people would kill for. He's just checking off a box.

Trump's win was a victory against the malevolent forces of political correctness, right? So surely there's no longer any need to let political correctness stop us from pointing out the obvious?

Shorter Washington Post: Trump advisor and alt-right superstar Steve Bannon set up a charity in 2012 which was then used to pay nearly $2 million in salaries to himself and two other Breitbart writers over the next four years. Bannon supposedly worked 30 hours a week for the charity while also working full-time for Breitbart. The other two worked 40 hours a week for the charity. How did they manage that? "They all work long hours," the charity's spokesperson said.

Well OK then! In other news, Donald Trump's foundation admitted to the IRS in 2015 that it had engaged in illegal self-dealing. It also admitted that it had done this in previous years.1 Trump denied this all through the campaign, but it was probably an oversight. After all, he just signs the forms, he doesn't read them.

And in yet other news, the Clinton Foundation continues to have done nothing wrong, as near as I can tell. Funny how these things work out, isn't it?

1This presumably includes the Tim Tebow football helmet, various enormous portraits of Trump, fines paid to Palm Beach, etc. These are all things the foundation paid for that Trump should have paid for out of his own pocket.

For the print issue coming out in a couple of weeks, Josh Harkinson has written a definitive account of the alt-right. You should read it. Here's one particular bit I want to highlight:

The coexistence of racism and sexism in the so-called manosphere dates back to the dawn of the internet. One early men's rights site, Fathers' Manifesto, interspersed references to Warren Farrell's book The Myth of Male Power with calls to exile blacks from America.

[Alt-right pioneer Richard] Spencer readily admits that women make up a small portion of the alt-right, but he has also said that most women secretly crave alt-right boyfriends because they want "alpha genes" and "alpha sperm." He also believes women are unsuited to some roles in government: "Women should never be allowed to make foreign policy," he tweeted during the first presidential debate. "It's not that they're 'weak.' To the contrary, their vindictiveness knows no bounds."

Revelations of Trump's sexist comments and his bragging about grabbing women's genitals only helped forge stronger ties between the racist and sexist wings of the alt-right. After the bombshell revelation of the Access Hollywood tape, Spencer said it was "ridiculous" and "puritanical" to call Trump's behavior sexual assault, adding, "At some part of every woman's soul, they want to be taken by a strong man." Far-right blogger RamZPaul responded to the Trump tape by saying, "Girls really don't mind guys that like pussies, they just hate guys who are pussies."

A big chunk of the alt-right is populated by social misfits who have been repeatedly rejected by women and are bitter about it. This makes them suckers for leaders who assure them they aren't misfits. What's really happening—and this can be a very beguiling story—is that women toy with them and laugh at them as part of a deliberate ploy to emasculate strong men and keep them from their rightful leadership positions. Because of this, a bitter resentment of women runs through almost every strain of the alt-right.

I don't know if the alt-right is a truly important new development or just a passing fad—a new name for a lot of the same old resentments that have been around forever. But to the extent the alt-right is important, it's worth knowing how central this particularly toxic brand of sexism is to the whole movement—even if it doesn't often get a lot attention. This is also why it's not right to simply call them racists or neo-Nazis. A lot of them are indeed that, but they're so, so much more.

From the LA Times:

A Texas judge blocked President Obama's bid to expand overtime pay protections to millions of Americans on Tuesday, thwarting a key presidential priority just days before it was set to take effect. The Labor Department rule would have doubled the salary level at which hourly workers must be paid extra for overtime pay, from $23,660 to $47,476. Siding with business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Texas District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III halted it.

Hmmm. This sounds oddly familiar:

It’s the fourth time in 21 months that a federal judge in Texas has issued a nationwide injunction blocking one of President Barack Obama’s executive orders [actually, it was a federal regulation –ed]. The other Obama initiatives stymied in Texas courtrooms involved shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation, mandating bathroom access for transgender students, and requiring labor-violation disclosures by federal contractors.

....U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III in Sherman, Texas, rejected a request by the federal government to limit any order to the states that filed the lawsuit and issued a preliminary injunction blocking the new salary cutoff nationwide.

I guess that's that. If you want a local judge to block an Obama initiative and apply his ruling to the entire country, go to Texas. Apparently they're all willing to do it down there.

In case you're interested, here's the key paragraph from the judge's ruling:

To be exempt from overtime, the regulations require an employee to (1) have [executive, administrative or professional] duties; (2) be paid on a salary basis; and (3) meet a minimum salary level....The salary level was purposefully set low to “screen[] out the obviously nonexempt employees making an analysis of duties in such cases unnecessary.”...But this significant increase to the salary level creates essentially a de facto salary-only test.

In other words, exempt employees are supposed to be executive, administrative or professional workers paid on a salary basis. The salary level itself is included in the regulations solely as a convenience. It's pretty much inconceivable that anyone making less than $23,000 has any bona fide EAP responsibilities, so there's no point in bothering with the other two tests.

However, someone making $47,000 might very well have genuine EAP responsibilities. Thus, categorically excluding everyone under that level means that some EAP workers will likely get classified as nonexempt solely on the basis of a salary test. This thwarts the will of Congress, which specifically intended that EAP duties had to be taken into account.

That's the judge's ruling, anyway. I'll bet Obama is sorry now that he appointed him.

Ben Carson, one week ago:

Business manager and close friend Armstrong Williams said Carson won't join the incoming Trump administration and would only serve as an unofficial adviser...."Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he's never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency."

Ben Carson today, asked about his qualifications after being offered a position as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development:

"I know that I grew up in the inner city," Carson said. "And have spent a lot of time there. And have dealt with a lot of patients from that area. And recognize that we cannot have a strong nation if we have weak inner cities. And we have to get beyond the promises and start really doing something."

In other words, he has no qualifications at all. I suppose Trump finally found the one thing Carson wouldn't mind crippling.

The whole thing is kind of weird. My guess is that Trump is pretty desperate to get Carson on his team because he doesn't want the press to be able to say that his cabinet is all white. And Carson is probably the only black person Trump knows aside from Mike Tyson and Don King. But if that's the case, why not offer him HHS? That would make at least some borderline sense since Carson is a doctor. Or maybe Surgeon General. Or the Department of Commerce, since Carson has lots of grifting experience.

Still, I guess we have to look at this from Trump's point of view:

The MIT Technology Review updates us on the progress in computer lip reading:

In one project, a team from the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science has developed a new artificial-intelligence system called LipNet. As Quartz reported, its system was built on a data set known as GRID, which is made up of well-lit, face-forward clips of people reading three-second sentences....When tested, the system was able to identify 93.4 percent of words correctly. Human lip-reading volunteers asked to perform the same tasks identified just 52.3 percent of words correctly.

....Another team from Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science, which has been working with Google DeepMind, has bitten off a rather more difficult task. Instead of using a neat and consistent data set like GRID, it’s been using a series of 100,000 video clips taken from BBC television. These videos have a much broader range of language, with far more variation in lighting and head positions....The Oxford and DeepMind team managed to create an AI that was able to identify 46.8 percent of all words correctly.

....Differences aside, both experiments show AI vastly outperforming humans at lip-reading.

For some reason, this had never occurred to me as a near-term use of AI—despite Stanley Kubrick's warning half a century ago about the dangers of berserk computers who can lip read.

But of course, it makes total sense. Reliable, widespread use of computer lip reading is still a little ways off, but it's pretty obvious that it will start to work tolerably well in real-life situations within a few more years. The implications for our future panopticon society are pretty obvious.

Here's a Donald Trump timeline on climate change:

2012: The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

2014: Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air - not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of hearing this nonsense.

2015: Obama's talking about all of this with the global warming and ... a lot of it's a hoax. It's a hoax. I mean, it's a money-making industry, okay? It's a hoax, a lot of it.

January 18, 2016: I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China. Obviously, I joke. But this is done for the benefit of China, because China does not do anything to help climate change.

August 11: I would say it goes up, it goes down, and I think it’s very much like this over the years. We’ll see what happens. I mean, we’ll see what happens. ... Certainly, climate has changed.

September 13: There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of “climate change.”

September 26: I do not say that [climate change is a hoax].

Today: "I think there is some connectivity" between humans and climate change, Trump says.

So there you go. A year ago climate change was a hoax. Three months ago climate change had gone up and down. Two months ago it was no longer a hoax. Today it's definitely for real and partly caused by humans.

Yet another disappointment for his fans. On the bright side, I'm sure he has no intention of actually doing anything about climate change, even if he now claims to believe in it.

Steve Bannon, in July:

Donald Trump today:

Well, I guess that settles that! I'm sure we'll be hearing an announcement from Trump shortly that he's decided to accept Bannon's resignation.

During the 2016 election, the chant of "Lock her up" followed Donald Trump everywhere he went. And he reveled in it. He promised on national TV to do exactly that, and during the final days of the campaign—after James Comey released his calamitous letter—he practically spoke about nothing else. Hillary Clinton was the most corrupt person ever in history, and when he became president he'd make sure she spent the rest of her natural days behind bars.

His fans loved it. But apparently they're going to be disappointed:

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump essentially said: "never mind," signaling that he does not intend to pursue investigations into his rival's use of a private email server or the financial operations at the Clinton family's global foundation.

In an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, Kellyanne Conway, the former Trump campaign manager and a senior adviser to his transition, said the president-elect wanted to "move beyond the issues of the campaign" and confirmed that Mr. Trump did not want his promised Clinton investigations to take place.

"If Donald Trump can help her heal, then perhaps that's a good thing," Ms. Conway said.

Isn't that sweet? Trump is going to help Hillary Clinton "heal." What a guy.

Of course, he's also signaling that he won't undertake the most corrupt use of the Justice Department since Watergate. So that's a positive, I guess.

Anyway, the bottom line here is that shipping Hillary off to Sing Sing was never something Trump planned to do in the first place. It just sounded good and made his crowds happy. Once the election was over, he didn't care anymore. I wonder how many more of Trump's promises fall into that category? His supporters are about to find out just how far the Trump con goes.

Three years ago James Reston Jr. published The Accidental Victim, arguing that Lee Harvey Oswald was actually trying to kill Texas Gov. John Connally, and hit JFK only by accident. Some of the evidence comes from items collected after Oswald was arrested:

A Secret Service officer named Mike Howard was dispatched to Oswald’s apartment. Howard found a little green address book, and on its 17th page under the heading “I WILL KILL” Oswald listed four men: an FBI agent named James Hosty; a right-wing general, Edwin Walker; and Vice President Richard Nixon. At the top of the list was the governor of Texas, John Connally. Through Connally’s name, Oswald had drawn a dagger, with blood drops dripping downward.

Oddly, this page was subsequently ripped out of the little green book. No one knows how it happened. Reston also argues that Oswald had plenty of reason to hate Connally (as head of the Navy Department he had refused Oswald's request to restore his honorable discharge from the Marines) and no reason to hate JFK. What's more, Oswald's wife repeatedly testified that that Connally was Oswald's target.

I've never heard this theory before, and Reston's book doesn't seem to have gotten much attention. But his conclusion is clear:

For 53 years, a cottage industry has developed over the motive for the Kennedy assassination. It had to be connected to the Mafia or the Russians or the Cubans or Oswald’s Marxist beliefs or Jack Ruby’s petty crimes in the Dallas underworld....[But] Oswald was no coldhearted professional assassin under orders. The real answer to the reasons he took aim are to be found in his frustrations and obsessions. And the real tragedy of Dallas lies in the accidental death of a president who just happened to be in the line of fire.

So what's the deal here? Is this a real thing? Or just more JFK assassination crankery? If nobody believes Reston's theory, I'd at least be curious to hear the debunking.