18 March 2018

Quote of the Day

The problem isn't simply that these people weren't prosecuted (though they should have been). It's that they weren't even shamed enough to think that maybe the public spotlight wasn't the best thing for them.
Duncan "Atrios" Black
Atrios is talking about the torturers, like Gina Haspel, who were emboldened by Obama's refusal to persecute even the worst of them.

Obama's decision to, "Look forward, not back," on torture did not put the chapter behind us, because, not only did it not put torture behind us, it Endorsed torture and torturers.

Barack Obama, and his AG at the time, Eric "Place" Holder are not stupid people, and they had to know that a failure to prosecute constituted and endorsement of torture.

Tweet of the Day (Possibly the Tweet of the Millenium)

This is pure brilliance.

16 March 2018

Tweet of the Day

This reminds me of this scene in Life of Brian.


The Lexington has been found:

15 March 2018

Quote of the Day

Kobach wants to be governor, which is not something Kansas deserves. Hell, it’s not what Hell deserves.
Charlie Pierce
Oh snap!

A Good Point on the Qualcomm/Broadcom Mess

It's has the kibosh put on this because CFIUS determined that it was a threat to US security.

This was not because the Singaporean firm Broadcom was a security risk by its actions or its location, but because it is aggressively leveraged to grow through acquisitions, while Qualcomm invests heavily in technology.

They explicitly said that the Private Equity/Hedge Fund type operations constitute a threat to American technological accomplishments, because it results in disinvestments.

The only conclusion that one can reach then is that the whole Private Equity/Hedge Fund business model is a threat to America:
By the normal standards of U.S. national security, the government’s ruling on Tuesday to delay and potentially derail the acquisition of high-tech company Qualcomm by the Singaporean company Broadcom was startlingly smart and gobsmackingly wonderful.

It was smart because it extended its definition of U.S. security interests to maintaining our advantage in the development of the most advanced forms of technology, in this case, the 5G communications systems that will be critical to both driverless cars and network security in coming decades. The government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS for short) wrote that it feared that if Qualcomm, the nation’s leading developer of 5G technology, were purchased by Broadcom, its research would suffer and a Chinese high-tech company, Huawei, would likely surge past it to become the global leader in security technology.

In the past, CFIUS has blocked several Huawei attempts to purchase U.S. tech companies because they would have involved the transfer of security-related technology to a company that CFIUS has demonstrated has ties to the Chinese military. CFIUS—an interagency committee headed by the Treasury Department, but also consisting of more than a dozen departments and agencies, ranging from Defense to Commerce—is in the business of ruling on potential foreign purchases of U.S. companies that have national security implications. Tuesday’s ruling was groundbreaking in that the issue wasn’t whether Singapore’s Broadcom itself posed a security risk by favoring the Chinese—nothing in the CFIUS letter even hinted at that—but rather, that the purchase might simply reduce Qualcomm’s capacity to conduct high-end research, thereby enabling Huawei and the Chinese to develop advanced technology before we do, which could give them a military advantage.

But why would Qualcomm’s purchase by Broadcom diminish Qualcomm’s commitment to research? This is the gobsmacking part of the CFIUS letter.

Because, in the words of the letter, “Broadcom’s statements indicate that it is looking to take a ‘private-equity’-style direction if it acquires Qualcomm, which means reducing long-term investment, such as R&D, and focusing on short-term profitability.”

Let that sink in for a moment. The staffers of CFIUS—probably the most business- and security-savvy civil servants in the government, headed by those at Treasury—are saying that the private-equity control of companies, which is a dominant feature of current American capitalism, reduces investment and results in profit extraction. CFIUS does not go on to say that the purchase of U.S. companies not only by foreign companies but by U.S. private equity firms, too, also leads to reduced investments and the kind of profit extraction that has enriched the 1 percent at the expense of other Americans; that’s not CFIUS’s mission. But having baldly stated that private equity leads to profit extraction, that’s the inescapable conclusion that any reader of CFIUS’s letter must reach.

The CFIUS letter goes on to specify the way in which Broadcom follows the private equity model of purchasing companies by taking on debt, and paying off that debt by reducing expenditures and funneling revenue into profits. “Broadcom has lined up $106 billion of debt financing to support the Qualcomm acquisition,” CFIUS writes, “which would be the largest corporate acquisition loan on record. This debt load could increase pressure for short-term profitability, potentially to the detriment of longer-term investments. The volume of recent acquisitions by Broadcom has increased the company’s profits and market capitalization, but these acquisitions have been followed by reductions in R&D investment.”
This is not something I would expect from the Trump administration.

I can only conclude that the higher ups only read the recommendations, and not the explanation.

The way I would, and have, put this, is that, "There is nothing that cannot be ruined by an application of modern American Financial techniques."

14 March 2018

International Pun of the Day

Russian to Judgement
Craig Murray
He's discussing the recent poisonings of a Russian double agent in Russia.

He's skeptical of the current narrative, as we all should be in this world of "81mm Aluminum Tubes."

I'd take his arguments at the link with a grain of salt, but I love the pun.

Headline of the Day

Verizon Forced To Briefly Give A Damn About Its Neglected Broadband Networks
New York state is suing Verizon for broken promises.

We really need to end barriers to municipal broadband to compete with these ratf%$#s.

The Gray Lady Drops the "T-Word"

The New York Times editorial board has come out against Gina Haspel running the CIA, and called her a torturer.

No euphemisms here:
President Trump has displayed enthusiasm for brutality over the past year. He has told the police to treat suspects roughly, praised President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines for murdering people suspected of drug ties and called for the execution of drug dealers.


Previously, anyone alarmed by Mr. Trump’s cavalier embrace of government-sanctioned cruelty was reassured by his vow to accept the advice of his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, who opposes Torture and promised at his Senate confirmation hearing that he would uphold American and international laws against it.

Now we have reason to be uneasy yet again.

When it comes to Torture, no American officials have been more practiced in those heinous dark arts than the officers and employees of the Central Intelligence Agency who applied it to terrorism suspects after 9/11. Few American officials were so directly involved in that frenzy of abuse, which began under President George W. Bush and was ended by President Barack Obama, as Gina Haspel.


As an undercover C.I.A. officer, Ms. Haspel played a direct role in the agency’s “extraordinary rendition program,” under which suspected militants were remanded to foreign governments and held at secret facilities, where they were Tortured by agency personnel.

Ms. Haspel ran the first detention site in Thailand and oversaw the brutal interrogations of two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Mr. Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times in a single month; his C.I.A. Torturers bashed his head into walls and subjected him to other unspeakable brutalities. This cruelty stopped when investigators decided he had nothing useful to tell them.


The use of Torture and secret foreign prisons — think of the deeply disgraceful events at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq — was a boon to terrorist groups, helping their propaganda and recruitment efforts. Such activities were also an irritant to key allies and even put American forces and personnel at risk of legal liability and being subjected to harsh treatment when they are detained.

Ms. Haspel is reportedly respected by many C.I.A. officers. But she effectively ran an illegal program, and her promotion to such a top administration position, unless she forcefully renounces the use of Torture during her confirmation hearing, would send an undeniable signal to the agency, and the country, that Mr. Trump is indifferent to this brutality, regardless of what Secretary Mattis believes. Members of Congress and public interest groups need to stand up and make clear that, otherwise, the appointment is wrong.
(Emphasis mine)

She, and her defenders, are saying that she was just obeying orders.

That argument did not carry the day in Nuremberg, and they should not carry the day now, and the New York Times agrees.

Silly Rabbit, Jail Is Not for White Folks

This is one Very white person
And corporate criminals don't come any whiter than Elizabeth Holmes:
Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of blood testing startup Theranos, has been charged with engaging in a "massive fraud" by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC says she and the company's president raised more than $700 million using an "elaborate, years-long fraud in which they exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance."

No, she won't be going to jail over this. In fact, even though she faces some serious penalties over the charge — she's losing control of the company and won't profit if it is sold — she also doesn't have to admit wrongdoing as part of a settlement with regulators.

To recap, Theranos was once a Silicon Valley favorite because of its promise that its technology could allow for a wide variety of blood tests with just a droplet of blood. That all began to fall apart when the Wall Street Journal raised serious questions about the accuracy of the tests, prompting a government agency to shut down one of its labs.


Here's are some of the things Holmes has agreed to do to settle with the SEC.

She'll give up financial and voting control of the company.
  • Holmes has to pay a $500,000 fine.
  • She cannot be a director or officer of a publicly traded company for 10 years. Theranos is a privately-held company, which means she can continue to be CEO.
  • She has to return 18.9 million shares of Theranos stock.
  • She will give up her majority voting control of the company by converting her shares to Class A Common shares from Class B Common share

She should be in jail, and she should be banned from managing publicly traded companies for life, but she does not even have to admit liability.

Well, I suppose she's commiserating with David Petraeus about how unfair this all is.

About PA-18

It's appears to be heading to a recount with a margin in the ¼% to ½% range (about 600 votes), with the Democrat leading.

In any case, it appears to be a roughly 20% swing from Trump, so whether or not the Democrat, Connor Lamb, or the Australopithecus, Rick Saccone actually ends up filling out remaining term of  Tim Murphy, who resigned following allegations of sexual improprieties.

Whatever the results, I expect the Democratic party establishment to claim that this shows that they need to make no changes to their strategy, because, as Upton Sinclair noted, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

(Update 24 hours later) Lamb has been declared the winner by a few hundred votes.

No update on the recount.