16 October 2019

America's Finest News Source

Democrats Launch New ‘Listen Up, Hayseeds’ Campaign To Connect With Rural Voters

Unveiling the new nationwide messaging strategy after six months of planning and research, the Democratic Party launched its “Listen Up, Hayseeds” campaign Monday to win over rural voters. “Hey, you redneck simpletons, put down your whittling sticks, drag yourself away from the Cracker Barrel, and let us tell you how it is,” said a team of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on the debut commercial, part of a widespread advertising blitz that will be played at NASCAR races and monster truck rallies across the country.
Nostradamus has nothing on The Onion.

2 Years Ago, He Would Have Walked, Particularly in Texas

But it's 2019, so shooting a woman in her own home without seconds after you see her, and neglecting to identify yourself as a police officer, is now enough to get you fired, arrested, and charged with murder:
A former Fort Worth officer has been arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, according to jail and court records.

Aaron York Dean, 34, resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department on Monday morning. Early Saturday morning, he shot and killed Jefferson, 28, inside her home on Allen Avenue while responding to a call from a neighbor about the front door being open, police said.

Dean was listed as an inmate in the Tarrant County Jail as of 6:50 p.m. Monday night, according to records. At about 9:50 p.m., he bonded out of jail.
Here's hoping that this will make cops think twice, or maybe 3 or 4 times, before shooting with no warning and no cause.

Yeah, and He's Mobbed Up Too

The good folks at ProPublica have looked at Donald Trump's property tax filings and his statements to banks, and find conclusive evidence of fraud:
Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.

For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call “leasing momentum.” Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013.

A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”

New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.”

The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges. Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate.
This is the least surprising thing that I have heard in at least a month.

Even if he weren't Donald Trump, we would find this going on, because this, and exploiting political connections for profit, is pretty much what all real estate developers do.

15 October 2019

The Horror………

The kids were at school this evening, so I had to pick them up from the Metro station at about 10 pm.

That meant that I had to watch the Democratic Presidential debates Sober.

Tekeli li!!!  Tekeli li!!!!

Rule 1 of Granting Power to the FBI


Rule number 2 is see number 1:
In an October 2018 ruling unsealed and posted on October 8, 2019 by the Office of the Director of Intelligence, the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) found that the employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation had inappropriately used data collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The FBI was found to have misused surveillance data to look into American residents, including other FBI employees and their family members, making large-scale queries that did not distinguish between US persons and foreign intelligence targets.

The revelation drew immediate outcry from privacy advocates and renewed calls for the termination of FISA and USA FREEDOM Act that authorized bulk intelligence collection. President Donald Trump signed a bill extending Section 702 collection authorizations for six years in 2018; the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced earlier this year that the administration would seek the extension of authority for collection of call data granted under the USA FREEDOM Act.

In a statement emailed to Ars Technica, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani, said:
The government should not be able to spy on our calls and emails without a warrant. Any surveillance legislation considered by Congress this year must include reforms that address the disturbing abuses detailed in these opinions. Congress and the courts now have even more reason to prohibit warrantless searches of our information, and to permanently close the door on any collection of information that is not to or from a surveillance target.
The FBI remains the bastard child of J. Edgar Hoover.

Tweet of the Day


When issues of war and peace come up in America, the only way to get an accurate story is to find a foreign source.

14 October 2019

What a Concept

We now have a term for the mediocrities who go from failure to failure with lavish funding because they are children of extremely rich parents, the "Glass Floor."

This is pretty much where Rome was when it began to collapse:
In 2014, Zach Dell launched a dating app called Thread. It was nearly identical to Tinder: Users created a profile, uploaded photos and swiped through potential matches.

The only twist on the formula was that Thread was restricted to university students and explicitly designed to produce relationships rather than hookups. The app’s tagline was “Stay Classy.”

Zach Dell is the son of billionaire tech magnate Michael Dell. Though he told reporters that he wasn’t relying on family money, Thread’s early investors included a number of his father’s friends, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

The app failed almost instantly. Perhaps the number of monogamy-seeking students just wasn’t large enough, or capping users at 10 matches per day limited the app’s addictiveness. It could also have been the mismatch between Thread’s chaste motto and its user experience. Users got just 70 characters to describe themselves on their profiles. Most of them resorted to catchphrases like “Hook ’em” and “Netflix is life.”

After Thread went bust, Dell moved into philanthropy with a startup called Sqwatt, which promised to deliver “low-cost sanitation solutions for the developing world.” Aside from an empty website and a promotional video with fewer than 100 views, the effort seems to have disappeared.

And yet, despite helming two failed ventures and having little work experience beyond an internship at a financial services company created to manage his father’s fortune, things seem to be working out for Zach Dell. According to his LinkedIn profile, he is now an analyst for the private equity firm Blackstone. He is 22.

America has a social mobility problem. Children born in 1940 had a 90% chance of earning more than their parents. For children born in 1984, the odds were 50-50.

Most accounts of this trend focus on the breakdown of upward mobility: It’s getting harder for the poor to become rich. But equally important is the decline of downward mobility: The rich, regardless of their intelligence, are becoming more likely to stay that way.
You know, this explains a lot:  Donald Trump, Dan Lipinski, Liz Cheney, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Jared Kushner, and Hunter Biden.  (also, those folks from Hyannis Port)

Get lucky with the right parents, and any sad sack can become a mover and a shaker.

Burying the Lede

In a story about the rapidly unfolding debacle in northern Syria, they weight until the 9th paragraph to note that the US is looking at evacuating the nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik Air Base in response to the instability and chaos in the region:
………

And over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans for evacuating roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons that the United States had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border, according to two American officials.

Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages. To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago.

“I think this is a first — a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at US forces,” Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies wrote last week.

For his part, Mr. Erdogan claims nuclear ambitions of his own: Only a month ago, speaking to supporters, he said he “cannot accept” rules that keep Turkey from possessing nuclear weapons of its own.

“There is no developed nation in the world that doesn’t have them,” he said. (In fact, most do not.)
This is unbelievably dangerous.

Also, given the nature of the potential nuclear exchanges these days, the forward deployment of nuclear weapons, particularly in a country run by a delusional megalomaniac, seems to be a profoundly unfortunate decision.

Don't Worry About the Russians Messing with the Elections

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hosting informal talks and small, off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists, commentators and at least one Republican lawmaker in recent months to talk about issues like free speech and discuss partnerships.

The dinners, which began in July, are part of Zuckerberg’s broader effort to cultivate friends on the right amid outrage by President Donald Trump and his allies over alleged “bias” against conservatives at Facebook and other major social media companies. "I’m under no illusions that he’s a conservative but I think he does care about some of our concerns,” said one person familiar with the gatherings, which multiple sources have confirmed.

News of the outreach is likely to further fuel suspicions on the left that Zuckerberg is trying to appease the White House and stay out of Trump’s crosshairs. The president threatened to sue Facebook and Google in June and has in the past pressured the Justice Department to take action against his perceived foes.

“The discussion in Silicon Valley is that Zuckerberg is very concerned about the Justice Department, under Bill Barr, bringing an enforcement action to break up the company,” said one cybersecurity researcher and former government official based in Silicon Valley. “So the fear is that Zuckerberg is trying to appease the Trump administration by not cracking down on right-wing propaganda.”
If you aren't worried about Mark Zuckerberg rat-f%$#ing the elections to cover his own ass, and his own fortune, you are either terminally stupid, comatose, or a liar.

This is, after all, the business that promulgated genocide and ethnic violence in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Kenya, South Sudan, etc. for a few bucks.

Headline of the Day

Even WeWork's Phone Booths Reek of Death
Gizmodo
It turns out that the phone booths in their office space are contaminated with formaldehyde, aka embalming fluid.

Way to keep the eye on the ball, dudes.

Linkage


This take-down of Australian mining billionaire, abusive employer, and wannabee politician, Clive Parker, is a true thing of beauty. Watch the whole thing:

13 October 2019

Light Posting for a While

Some family stuff needs tending to.