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Ashley Madison

A few weeks ago, hackers claimed to have stolen a wealth of data from the website Ashley Madison, a site that purports to enable people to have extra-marital affairs. They claimed this would reveal real-life details of millions of Ashley Madison users and threatened to release this data if Ashley Madison didn’t close shop. They then released it this week. Several prominent people have been outed as well as several not-so-prominent people and that’s just in the first few days.

One of the more interesting things to come out of this is a look at how Ashley Madison actually functions. There have been allegations for years that Ashley Madison was overpromising, to say the least. There were allegations that the gender ratio was massively skewed and that thousands of fake profiles were on the site to separate men from their money (you have to pay for interactions through the site). The release of the data seems to confirm some of these allegations, which would make Ashley Madison sleazy even by the standards of … uh … sites that enable adultery.

So how much adultery are we talking about here? Ashley Madison claims to have 37 million members, but most estimates I’ve seen indicate, at most, two million active users. Furthermore, a lot of them are just playing around and not actually having affairs. Dan Savage:

There are lots of “fakes and flakes” on hookup sites and apps. Talk to anyone who has actually looked for sex partners online and they’ll bitch about about the flakes and fakes who wasted their time. They’ll bitch about all the people—scores of them, some of them dogs—who exchanged text messages with them, swapped sexy photos with them, and shared their fantasies with them and then disappeared on them—went silent, ghosted them, blocked their numbers—when it was time to meet up and fuck. Sometimes they disappeared on them after making concrete plans to meet up and fuck. So finding spouse’s name on Ashely Madison—if you decide to search for it—doesn’t mean your spouse ever intended to cheat on you.

Of course, to a lot of people, especially women, the difference between a spouse who planned to cheat and one who actually did is academic. I have some sympathy for people who feel trapped in loveless or sexless marriages and want some intimacy. If people want to have open marriages or whatever, that’s their lookout (although the key word there is “open”, not deceptive). But in the end, the Ashley Madison users were people looking to have a cheap affair. Maggie, from my first link:

One of my serious university boyfriends (he was 28 when I was 19) once told me, “Maggie, nobody can take advantage of you unless you have larceny in your heart.” It took me a while to understand what he meant, which is this: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. Ashley Madison holds out the promise of something for nothing: Extracurricular sex without monetary cost, commitment or risk. But as with all such offers, it’s a lie: Pussy costs, and free pussy is the most expensive kind. And Noel Biderman, AKA “Ashley Madison”, has figured out a way to tack on a hefty surcharge.

Exactly. Ashley Madison makes money not just off of deception and infidelity but off of gullibility. Its users wanted to believe they could have an affair without complications or expense. Many bought into this fantasy so hard that they couldn’t be bothered to get an anonymous gmail or hotmail account, using their work e-mail accounts (including many government employees). Hell, I have two anonymous e-mails accounts and the only thing I’m cheating on is sleep.

Despite the vileness of Ashley Madison and the stupidity of their clients, I am however getting increasingly uncomfortable with the gloating over this. It’s really not my business what other people are doing with their lives. Rolling in the details of this mass doxing like a dog in a dead possum is just awful. So I will not be commenting on anyone whose name comes out, even if it’s some hypocritical religious right figure or prominent politician. Glenn Greenwald:

That the cheating scoundrels of Ashley Madison got what they deserved was a widespread sentiment yesterday. Despite how common both infidelity and online pornography are, tweets expressing moralistic glee were legion. Websites were created to enable easy searches of the hacked data by email address. An Australian radio station offered to tell listeners on air if their spouse’s names appeared in the data base, and informed one horrified woman caller that her husband did.

It’s hard to overstate the devastation to some people’s lives from having their names published as part of this hack: not only to their relationships with their spouses and children but to their careers, reputations, and – depending on where they live – possibly their liberty or even life. What appears on the internet is permanent and inescapable. All of the people whose names appear in this data base will now be permanently branded with a digital “A.” Whether they actually did what they are accused of will be irrelevant: digital lynch mobs offer no due process or appeals. And it seems certain that many of the people whose lives are harmed, or ruined, by this hack will have been guilty of nothing.

In short, everything is awful. Ashley Madison is awful for offering this service and milking desperate men for every dime they could get. The people who used Ashley Madison were greedy and stupid. The hackers are awful for putting this information out there, no matter how much they try to cloak it in social justice rhetoric. And the people digging through the database and gloating over the suffering of cheaters and cheatees are awful.

I don’t have any political slant on this. The government should go after people who hack databases no matter how slimy the victims or how noble the sentiment. It’s not like the hackers were exposing government abuses of power or something.

Making Black Lives Really Matter

I can’t believe I’m going to say this but … ahem … is this thing on? … I agree with Hillary Clinton.

Last week, she met with members of the Black Lives Matter movement. Hillary has a lot to answer for. As First Lady and then as Senator she actively supported the harsh prison sentences and militarized police tactics that have led to two million Americans being incarcerated, millions more under some kind of supervision and cops with assault weapons and body armor assaulting Americans mostly for drugs.

The 2016 candidate even gave suggestions to the activists, telling them that without a concrete plan their movement will get nothing but “lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it.”

“Look, I don’t believe you change hearts,” Clinton said, arguing that the movement can’t change deep seated racism. “I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we could do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them, to live up to their own God-given potential.”

She is absolutely correct, although probably for reasons she would disagree with. I think it was P.J. O’Rourke who defined a statist as someone who thinks government can change human nature. Government can not make people less racist, assuming that racism is the problem here. Government can, however, make itself less powerful, less intrusive, more accountable and more respectful of our basic civil liberties. In other words, it can create a system whereby human weaknesses and failings — greed, power-lust or even racism — have less ability to damage the lives of its citizens.

She’s also right about Black Lives Matter. Right now, they don’t have any solid proposals for how to deal with any of the problems they are worried about. They are reminding me increasingly of Occupy Wall Street which had an issue (wealth inequality, bailouts) but no idea of what to do about it.

Raising awareness is a good thing. But ultimately, it has to be followed by concrete action or it’s just noise. And I’ll give Mrs. Clinton credit for saying so.

The Biggest Corporate Welfare

Scott Walker — supposed conservative — has become just the latest politician to dole out a few hundred million in corporate welfare:

Last year, two New York City hedge fund owners purchased the Milwaukee Bucks, a down-at-the-heels N.B.A. team. The new owners smiled, took a victory lap around this handsome lakeside city and laid down their terms.

We’ll keep the Bucks in Milwaukee, the owners said, if the public foots half the cost of a $500 million arena. (The owners spoke of their “moral obligation” to the city and pledged $100 million toward their arena, with the remainder coming from other private funds.) N.B.A. officials acted as muscle for the owners and warned that if Wisconsin did not cough up this money within a year’s time, the league would move the team to Las Vegas or Seattle.

These opening feints were right out of the professional sports owner handbook. From start to desultory end, Milwaukee offered a case study in all that is wrong with our arena-shakedown age.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Wednesday to subsidize the arena, which could cost the public twice as much as originally projected. Echoing the owners’ arguments, the governor proclaimed that the arena, a practice complex and a promised “entertainment district” would spur a renaissance for downtown Milwaukee and attract tourists. Income taxes paid by the pro athletes, the governor said, would fill local coffers.

The governor is repeating the standard mantra of stadium extortionists everywhere. It is categorical nonsense. Twenty years of economic research has shown that the economic benefits of stadiums are somewhere between non-existent and slightly negative. Sports teams mostly affect how people spend their money, not if. It is true that that taxes paid by the athletes would pay for a stadium … in a century.

The ability of extremely rich men who own extremely successful business to extract hundreds of millions in public welfare from cash-strapped cities and states is baffling. The lack of benefits of stadium building has been known for years, but sports teams, including my Braves, are still able to work this scam to perfection.

In reality, the power should flow the other way. Sports teams benefit from being in big cities way more than the big cities benefit from having sports teams. Do you think the Yankees would be making hundreds of millions of dollars if they moved to Louisville? They still got a billion dollars in subsidies for their stadium. Would the Milwaukee Bucks, sans subsidies, make more money in Vegas or Seattle than they do in Milwaukee? I doubt it. Seattle just gave up a basketball team and Las Vegas has … um … a lot more than a sports team going for it.

The most recent baseball team that moved was the Montreal Expos. That move benefited the Expos way way more than it benefited Washington. They went from an empty stadium and minimal revenue to a full stadium and overflowing coffers. Sports teams should be begging to play in the big markets, not holding them for ransom.

There are two problems that underlay the subsidies to sports. The first is plain ordinary corruption. It’s not just sports stadiums; cities invest tens of millions into “big projects” that are going “stimulate the economy” and “revitalize downtown”. When I was growing up in Atlanta, we heard those same arguments dragged out for Underground Atlanta, World of Coca Cola and the Olympics. Yet, somehow, it didn’t work. The area around the Olympic Stadium (later Turner Field) was still a dump. Sports teams have an advantage in terms of visibility and the ability to give guaranteed luxury seats to powerful politicians. But fundamentally, this shakedown goes on every day. And sports teams have become very skilled in doling out cash to local community groups and working lobbyists so that they can ride that well-greased track.

The problem that is more specific to sports teams is a basic prisoner’s dilemma. Everyone knows that cities would be better off not caving into the demands of sports teams. But the cities and states are afraid of losing their teams to other cities and states that give in. They could say “no” but it only works if everyone else does too. What you would need is for state and city governments to sign onto a compact: no city or state will subsidize a sports stadium … ever.

That won’t happen, of course, because politicians love this. Scott Walker is far, far from the only politician doling out this particular brand of corporate welfare. The political class love it because they get to claim credit for keeping a sports team in town and building a huge stadium. They love it because it sounds good to say your going to stimulate the economy, even if the stimulus never happens (see Obama, Barack). They get wined and dined by rich team owners and corporate sponsors.

It’s a win-win. The only people who lose are the taxpayers and, really, who cares what those plebs think?

Clinton on Education: MAWR MONEY!

One of the reason I harp on Trump: Hillary Clinton is slowly unveiling her ideas for running the country. And they are terrible:

Today, Hillary Clinton is beginning the launch of her plan to allegedly make college more accessible to Americans without forcing them into huge loads of debt. Her plan has a price tag estimate of $350 billion over 10 years.

Half that money would be granted to states that agree to increase their own education spending with the goal of having “no loan” four-year degrees. It would be made for by tax hikes on the rich, as always.

This is mind-bogglingly stupid. The reason college costs have gone up so dramatically is because of the bottomless promise of the Feds to pay for it. Yes, states have cut the amount they spend on higher ed. But between grants and loans, the Feds have more than made up for it. And by simply pouring trainloads of money into higher ed, the Feds have eliminated any incentive for efficiency.

It gets worse. A substantial amount of the money would be used to encourage colleges to do the very thing that has made higher education so expensive:

To improve the nation’s 60 percent college graduation rate, Clinton would offer grants to schools that invest in child care, emergency financial aid and other interventions to boost completion. Students entering college are older and have more family responsibilities than those a generation ago, yet many institutions have been slow to respond to their needs. Investing in on-campus support systems could help, as could Clinton’s proposal to allow federal student aid to be used for online career training programs offering badges or certificates, rather than degrees.

In other words, Clinton wants college to invest yet more money in administration. This is precisely the problem higher education is having. Over the last two decades, faculty hires have been flat. Many universities now depend on adjunct faculty who are poorly paid. Meanwhile, the number of administrator have soared as have their salaries. And yet Clinton wants them to do more of this.

So, under Clinton, we would basically spend $350 billion to do … exactly what we’ve been doing for the last twenty years. And this is the best the Democratic Party has to offer right now.

First Debate

Surprise! I actually watched (most of) tonight’s debate, around tucking kids into bed. I must say that Fox News did a good job moderating, going after the candidates in a way that the MSM has completely failed to go after Clinton. Megyn Kelly, in particular, asked some tough questions. This is a good thing for the GOP because it will help separate the contenders from the pretenders.

My quick take:

Marcio Rubio did very well (despite the tough abortion question). He was relaxed, genial and had a grasp on the struggles of the middle class. I think — or maybe hope is the right word — that he has put himself back into the conversation.

I was unimpressed by Bush. No one laid a glove on him but he didn’t really make the case to me that he should be the front-runner. To be honest, I was kind of reminded of Romney in 2012. It seemed like Bush just didn’t want to get bloodied while the other candidates took each other out. “Last man standing” worked for Romney, but it may not be enough this time.

I was surprisingly unimpressed by Walker. He didn’t do badly but he didn’t jump out at me either and I’m having trouble, 15 minutes after the debate ended, remembering anything significant he said. This is part of Walker’s style, though.

I have really soured on Mike Huckabee. He’s big government in every way — a massive social conservative and opposed to any meaningful budget cuts. He’s also a supporter of the Fair Tax gimmick, which I oppose.

I liked Ben Carson a lot, not necessarily as a candidate but as a person. Of all the candidates, he seemed the most likable and the least politicized and the most unaffected by the spotlight. But he also didn’t show any credibility on policy and seemed to disappear at times. He would definitely win the “who would you like to have a beer with” competition (Rand would call for straight whiskey). His line about how we are our minds and not our skin was moving.

John Kasich made the case that he belong in the race, giving a great answer on gay marriage and highlighting his solid experience. I expect him to stay in this for a while.

I was once very high on Chris Christie, but I don’t think he brings anything unique to the table (other than flogging his 9/11 experience, which is not as impressive as he thinks). And his record in New Jersey is poor.

Rand Paul didn’t impress me that much either, I must say. I like Paul in the mix and I like him in the Senate. I think his chances of winning the nomination are basically zero.

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump had some one liners but neither seemed to make any real statement that they should be President.

I didn’t see the “kids table” debate earlier in the day but I’m told that the only candidate who did well was Fiorina. I’m not surprised. She’s very smart and savvy and she’s the only one that I think has a chance of getting back onto the big stage. I think there’s a very good chance she will be the Vice Presidential nominee.

So, right now, my impression of the candidates is:

Front-runners: Bush, Walker, Trump
Back in the Coversation: Rubio, Kasich
Call it a Night, Fellas: Christie, Cruz, Paul, Carson, Huckabee

YMMV.

The Fix Is In

Just in case you were wondering … yes, both of our parties are bought and paid for by the same people:

For some wealthy donors, it doesn’t matter who takes the White House in 2016—as long as the president’s name is Clinton or Bush.

More than 60 ultra-rich Americans have contributed to both Jeb Bush’s and Hillary Clinton’s federal campaigns, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data by Vocativ and The Daily Beast. Seventeen of those contributors have gone one step further and opened their wallets to fund both Bush’s and Clinton’s 2016 ambitions.

After all, why support just Hillary Clinton or just Jeb Bush when you can hedge your bets and donate to both? This seems to be the thinking of a group of powerful men and women—racetrack owners, bankers, media barons, chicken magnates, hedge funders (and their spouses). Some of them have net worths that can eclipse the GDPs of small countries.

The amounts we’re talking about are small by rich people standards — a few thousand dollars. But the principle is crystal clear: they want “in” no matter who wins.

This is something a lot of people — particularly those of a lefty persuasion — fail to understand. For the monied interests who control the political process, elections aren’t about philosophy or politics or policy. They’re not about abortion or the deficit or healthcare or war. They’re about pull. They’re about influence. The big donors don’t care who is elected as long as they have their ear. Sometimes it’s not even just about influence; often it’s about keeping the government from screwing you over after the election (this is how companies that wanted to stay out of politics — like eBay and Microsoft and Apple — ended up dragged into it). Think about what will happen to these guys if Clinton wins and they haven’t given her money.

Want to stop this? Stop making our government so powerful. Stop making it so that donations to Presidential campaigns can buy ten figure returns. Or prevent ten figure losses. Until that changes, the rich will continue to find ways to buy politicians of every stripe.

(Ironically, two of the few rich politicos who actually care about policy are the Koch Brothers, who mostly support Republicans but have also thrown their support behind gay marriage, criminal justice reform, social justice causes and personal liberty. But the irrational hatred of the Koch’s is so intense that labor unions stopped donating to the United Negro College Fund because the Koch’s gave the UNCF a ton of money.)

There’s something else though; something that’s been bubbling away in my mind for a while. Right now, Donald Trump is the front-runner among Republicans. There are many, like me, who dismissed him as the flavor of the month — a temporary enthusiasm for whatever is new on the menu. But I don’t think that’s it. There are many Democrats who claim that Trump’s popularity is because the Republicans are a bunch of evil racists and Trump is an evil racist and therefore that’s why he’s popular. I don’t think that’s it either. Peter Suderman, among others, made the argument that Trump is appealing to people precisely because he’s uninterested in policy and is acting like a YouTube comments section. That might be part of it, but I don’t think that’s the main reason for Trump’s popularity.

No, this is the reason Donald Trump is surging at the polls. Because many people … Republicans, Democrats or independents … feel like the system is rigged. Especially with a Clinton-Bush showdown looming, they feel like the system is run by monied insiders deciding which particular group of oligarchs is going to rule.

Think about what happened in the financial crisis. Millions of people saw their savings vanish. Millions lost their homes. Millions lost their jobs. But the fat cats on Wall Street? They got a bailout. They got to walk away with their seven figure golden parachutes and zero criminal charges. And that all happened under one of the most liberal Administrations in history. And the two politicians who did the most to ensure we had a financial apocalypse? They wrote the financial reform bill. Chris Dodd and Barney Frank were neck deep in the financial industry so naturally Obama picked them to fix it.

Naturally.

People feel the game is rigged. They feel like Washington isn’t listening to them. And they perceive — rightly or wrongly — that Trump is not for sale because he’s funding his own campaign. They perceive — rightly or wrong — that he’s going to change things and shake up Washington.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought Trump’s McCain gaffe would finish him. I was wrong. Angering the establishment wing of the GOP like that just made him more popular because it played into the idea that Trump doesn’t give a shit what the crusty moneybags think.

I like the sentiment. But much like the Ron Paul campaigns of previous Presidential seasons, I just think it’s being poured into the wrong vessel. I don’t think a President Trump would shake things up. He’s an insider too. And a number of his ideas are either unconstitutional or dangerous. I don’t think he’s serious about changing Washington.

But then again, I don’t think any of them are. And maybe it will take a Trump — like it once took a Perot — to scare out politicians into doing their damned jobs.

The Field Closes

The first Republican presidential debate is set for Thursday. I will probably not be able to watch or will watch on a delay (my wife is working late that night, so I have the Betas). But the most significant thing is that Fox has narrowed the 17 — I shit you not — 17 candidates down to 10 so that they will all fit on stage. Those 10 are Donald Trump (currently leading the field), Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich.

That means that seven candidates are out. And I have to say that it’s like those seven are finished. Not because they aren’t in the debate but because they are currently polling so low, it’s unlikely they can bring themselves back into the picture barring an amazing debate performance, which they won’t get a chance at. Those seven are Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.

And that’s a pity. Trump isn’t going away any time soon, but his negatives are sky high (which you would expect, given that his campaign has zero policy proposals. In mock polling, he loses to Bernie Sanders by twenty points. In taking over the stage, he’s bumping Perry — who is likely doomed from his 2012 gaffe but actually strikes me as a reasonable candidate. He’s also bumping Santorum, who is intensely disliked in some quarters but is one of the few candidates to grasp the pinch many middle class people are feeling. The rest are mainly vanity candidates although Fiorina has some charisma.

Looking at the ten remaining, I’m not terribly high on anyone in the current field. I’ve warmed up to Rubio lately but I think this race is going to quickly narrow to Walker vs. Bush. And if Trumpism spooks enough of the GOP establishment, they will go to Bush, barring some catastrophic gaffe.

So, right now, I’m thinking we’re seeing a 2016 showdown of Bush v. Clinton. Didn’t we already do this?

PP, CMP, Videos, Oh my!

Over the last couple of weeks, an organization called the Center for Medical Progress has released a series of undercover videos alleging that Planned Parenthood has been selling parts of aborted fetuses for medical research. Posing as representatives of a medical research company, they have made inquiries about acquiring fetal tissue for research. On the videos, Planned Parenthood representatives discuss how to provide the tissue. They also joke about the procedure and talk about how abortion providers can carry out abortions to spare organs that medical researchers want.

Selling parts of aborted fetuses for profit is illegal. However, asking for compensation for the costs of harvesting those organs is legal. Right now, it appears that Planned Parenthood is in compliance with the law.

Planned Parenthood and the medical companies are countering with allegations that the videos are deceptively edited and several companies have sought a court order to prevent further releases of the videos. Ken White breaks that down here. The short version is that the Center for Medical Progress can not be forced to not show the videos unless they have already waived their first amendment rights by signing non-disclosure agreements. There also appear to be issues with the Center for Medical Progress sting videos taken in California, which is a two-party state. The Center, however, has indicated that they intend to release more videos.

In general, I tend to shy away from the abortion issue. People are too entrenched on the issue. If the Center for Medical Progress has broken the law — either by violating a non-disclosure agreement or taping someone in California without their consent — they should be punished accordingly. And if Planned Parenthood or other organizations have broken the law by selling fetal tissue for profit, they should be punished accordingly. The courts seem well on their way to sorting this out.

The Republicans, however, are using this in yet another effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood doesn’t get money for abortions. They do, however, get money from grants and from Medicaid for providing birth control and disease screenings to poor women and the Republicans now want to shut that off. I have to say that I’m against this. Planned Parenthood provides abortions. This has never been a secret. Abortion is a nasty business. That has never been a secret either. But their abortion business and their birth control operations are separate and trying to defund the latter because of the behavior of the former is, effectively, trying to ban abortion through the back door.

No, it’s worse. Cutting off Planned Parenthood from federal funds will have no effect on their abortion business. It will simply mean fewer women getting contraception and more women having babies (and having more abortions). It will mean fewer women getting condoms and more women catching diseases. And while you might say “Hey, let them pay for their own birth control!” guess who’s going to have to pick up the bill for those babies and diseases? Unless the Republicans are also willing to shut off Medicaid, WIC, food stamps and everything else … including for children … this is not a move to save the government money. And it is doubly not a move to save money because the Republicans want to divert that money to ineffective faith-based programs that will result in more poor women having babies and getting diseases.

There’s one other aspect of this, though. One I’m hesitant to get into, but one I think is important. The thing is … while I disagree with the Republicans, I understand where they’re coming from.

The pro-choice side has a very long history of trying to run away from the gruesomeness of abortion. They’ve tried to keep protesters from showing signs of aborted fetuses; they’ve tried to block informed consent laws that tell patients how abortion works; they try to pretend that the procedure is no more significant than having a boil lanced.

But this is nonsense. Abortion is a gruesome business. Most medicine is. I had my gallbladder out a few years ago and that was still nasty despite being done through a laparoscope. If you work in medicine for any period of time, you will see things that make your stomach turn. And then you will get inured to it.

If there have been laws broken, that needs to be punished. But there is nothing illegal about providing fetal tissue — at cost — to medical research companies. The alternative is to incinerate the tissue. But there’s also nothing wrong with abortion opponents pointing out that harvesting of fetal cells exists and that abortion providers try to accommodate that demand. This is part of the debate. It is perfectly acceptable to say to pro-choicers, “If you think abortion, should be legal, this is what you think should be legal.” And honest pro-choicers, like Elizabeth Nolan Brown, have accepted that. I accept that (although I oppose most late-term abortion).

The outraged response to this from the Left; the reflexive defensiveness; the attempt to impugn the Center for Medical Progress as “extremists” (which they are) instead of addressing their claims represent a real problem for the pro-choice movement. They don’t like to talk about what abortion entails.

This is not unique to the pro-choice movement. Pro-death-penalty people don’t like to talk about botched executions and the likelihood that the lethal injection combo we use causes excruciating pain. War advocates don’t like to see pictures of dead children. But that doesn’t change the reality of these policies (or their necessity, if you think them necessary).

The pro-choice movement, which I reluctantly agree with, is trying to run away from the reality of what they support. I don’t think they can.

Mullah Omar Dead

Afghan Intelligence is reporting and the Taliban are confirming that Mullah Omar is dead, having perished two years ago in a Pakistani hospital.

I have no idea how this will affect the situation in Afghanistan. I suspect the impact will be small since Omar was largely a symbolic figure. Still … at least the man who crafted the vile Taliban state can’t do any more harm.