30 November 2016

Quote of the Day

Steve Mnuchin is the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis — he managed to participate in all the worst practices on Wall Street
Senator Elizabeth Warren, on his record of peddling financial toxic waste at the Vampire Squid, which he followed by running a bank (Indymac) which was the worst on foreclosure servicing in the nation.
Mnuchin is Trump's nominee for Treasury Secretary.

How Unsurprising

Fresh on statements that he would not attempt to have Hillary Clinton prosecuted, Donald Trump is contacting foreign governments to pressure them to investigate the Clinton Foundation:
While President-elect Donald Trump earlier announced a U-turn on investigating Hillary Clinton, he is now reportedly planning to pressure foreign governments to look into the finances of the Clinton Foundation.

During one of the campaign debates, Trump said once he is in the oval office he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s alleged misgivings, including the use of a private email server and involvement in the Clinton Foundation.

“You'd be in jail,” he warned his rival if he were to win the election.

After his election victory he made a U-turn on the threat. But according to the New York Post, the Trump administration would pressure foreign governments to investigate the financial dealings of the Clinton Foundation.
He gets to look magnanimous, and he gets to look shocked when he is "Forced" by new facts uncovered by foreign governments to go after a possible rival.

How convenient.

Doesn't This Violate Anti-Torture Treaties?

Police in Prince Edward Island have promised to arrest drunk drivers and take them into custody.

While they are being taken to the station, the police will make the detainees listen to Nickelback.

The horror.


Are Economists Partly Responsible for Donald Trump's Shocking Victory in the US Presidential Election?
Mainstream economics has glorified inequality and rent-seeking by calling it, "free trade," and the ensuing disaster for the bottom 90% of Americans gave us an inverted traffic cone as President elect.


Barack Obama said that he can’t pardon Edward Snowden because he has not been presented before a judge.

This is a blatant and transparent lie.

The President's powers with regard to federal offenses are very broad.

They can grant clemency on a whim.  The person need not to have been charged, nor do the offenses need to be specified.

Just witness Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, and George H.W. Bush's self-serving pardons of his Iran Contra co-conspirators.

Worst Constitutional Law Professor Ever


Is Microsoft Purposefully Degrading/Crashing Internet Explorer to Bully Users into Upgrading to Windows 10 & Edge?
Of course they have.

Haven't you noticed that your computer slows down following the upgrades that Microsoft releases when a new OS comes out?

Do you think that a browser would be a bridge too far?

The Clintons are a Cancer on the American Body Politic

I am not talking about Hillary Clinton losing the election, though that is where the buck stops for that debacle, I am talking about the legacy of pain and misery for the poor and minorities that they have left in their wake.

First, of course was the 1994 crime bill, the one that Hillary Clinton supported in racially charged terms when she said that we, "Have to bring them to heel."

While we have the benefit of hindsight, the Clintons could not have known that Nixon's removal of lead from gasoline would have crime falling 25 years hence, (see here, here, and here) and there was a national hysteria over crime.

Second and perhaps more significant, and more contemptible was, the Clinton's systematic dismantling of Welfare, reducing it to little more than a block grant routinely used by states as a slush fund, while severe poverty in the United States has skyrocketed:
Twenty years ago today, President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, better known as the Welfare Reform Act. Clinton promised it would “end welfare as we know it.”

And it did. Because of the reform act, welfare funding now is called TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – with a strong emphasis on “temporary.” Unlike before, welfare recipients now have a clock ticking when they first start receiving benefits. They are cut off from receiving federal benefits after five years (and in some states, it’s less).

The bill also changed how the federal government manages welfare dollars. Now, states get the money first and decide how to distribute it. Before, needy families received cash benefits directly through the federal welfare program.

This has meant welfare money has gone to some pretty surprising items, such as college scholarships for middle-class college students, and relationship counseling for married or seriously dating couples.


In the Reveal episode “A Welfare Check,” Marketplace reporter Krissy Clark digs into one of the biggest changes to come out of the reform: States get to manage their welfare dollars. This leaves them with a lot of freedom to choose how to spend the money, and they just have to state that the money is going to one of these four purposes:


And what they found was a stark change in how states use welfare dollars. Before reform, states were pretty much in the same place. The overwhelming majority of welfare dollars went to cash assistance. That share has gotten smaller and smaller since 1996, and in 2014, 26 percent of all TANF dollars in the country went to cash assistance. The rest has gone to other things entirely.

In Michigan, for example, the state spends nearly $100 million a year in TANF money on college scholarships. For more than a decade in Oklahoma, TANF dollars funded relationship classes for seriously dating and married couples of all income brackets.
In Indiana it goes to phony anti-abortion "Pregnancy Crisis Centers", which are contractually bound not to inform women of all their health options, because, one way to reduce out of wedlock births, one of the goals of the bill, is to force women to carry their fetus to term.

This was foreseeable, and it was part of a pattern of the Clinton Presidency, turning things into block grants, farming out government functions to more expensive private contractors because it produced political advantage, aggressive deregulation (including repealing Glass-Steagall), etc.

While I have some small fondness for the Clinton Presidency, it is largely an artifact of the Republican's attempted coup impeachment attempt, because the Clintons were bad for the country, and a disaster for the Democratic Party.

The radio show is embedded below:

Today in Completely Tasteless and Offensive Crap

Oh, my f%$#ing God, It's Real!
Performing a Holocaust themed skating routine, complete with striped uniforms and yellow stars:
The wife of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, sparked outrage on social media by performing a Holocaust-themed ice skating routine that quickly went viral.

Tatiana Navka, a former Olympic figure skating champion, performed with actor Andrey Burkovsky, each wearing concentration camp uniforms and yellow Stars of David.

The two skated to the song “Beautiful That Way,” by Israeli singer Achinoam “Noa” Nini. The song was featured in a 1997 Italian-language Oscar-winning Holocaust film, which Navka said was the inspiration for the performance. She also said in an Instagram post that she wanted the performance to teach children about the Holocaust.
I have no words.

29 November 2016

Nope, No Corruption Here

Now that Hillary Clinton isn't going to be President, the government of Australia is ending its contributions to the Clinton foundation:
Australia has finally ceased pouring millions of dollars into accounts linked to Hillary Clinton’s charities.

Which might make you wonder: Why were we donating to them in the first place?

The federal government confirmed to news.com.au it has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.

The Clinton Foundation has a rocky past. It was described as “a slush fund”, is still at the centre of an FBI investigation and was revealed to have spent more than $50 million on travel.

Despite that, the official website for the charity shows contributions from both AUSAID and the Commonwealth of Australia, each worth between $10 million and $25 million.
We'll be seeing a lot more of this, because the Clinton Foundation was structured to create this sort of, "moral ambiguity," and now that Hillary Clinton will never be President, expect to see a lot of people ending the relationship with the organization.

The Clintons won't suffer, they never made any money from the Foundation, but it was an instrument for them to keep their "Posse" together, and the band ain't getting back together.

I Didn't Think That It Was Possible, but Donald Trump Just Disappointed Me

Maddow has some more on this sorry excuse for a human being
OK, not just disappointed. I am also horrified, but I kind of expect to be horrified by him.

I did not expect to be disappointed, because my expectations are so f%$#ing low, but the inverted traffic cone has outdone himself.

Specifically, Trump's appointee as deputy national security adviser, Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland, who is infamous for outing her brother as gay to her family while he was dying of AIDS:
In between Twitter claims that he lost the popular vote due to voter fraud instead of due to alienating over half the nation by being the dictionary definition of "The Worst," President-elect Donald Trump somehow finds time to fill out his staff with people you wouldn't trust to pick up dog sh%$.

As the Washington Blade reports, Trump's pick for deputy national security adviser is basically a monster. Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland, FOX News contributor and former Pentagon official during the Reagan administration, outed her gay brother, who was dying of AIDS, to their family.

The Blade is referring to a 2006 New York Magazine article, when McFarland was gearing up to challenge Hillary Clinton for her Senate seat, which unearthed a 1992 letter to her then-estranged parents:

“Have you ever wondered why I have never had anything to do with Mike and have never let my daughters see him although we live only fifteen minutes away from each other?” she wrote. “He has been a lifelong homosexual, most of his relationships brief, fleeting one-night stands.”
McFarland tried to downplay the letter at the time, claiming it was a form of therapy to deal with abuse she and her siblings had suffered at the hands of their parents—abuse both her parents and at least one of her siblings denied.

“It’s a complete fabrication,” Tom Troia told the New York Post back in 2006 regarding his sister’s allegations. “If I had one word to describe my sister, it would be ‘evil.’”


Former Geroge W. Bush National Security Council member Peter D. Feaver told The Times McFarland's job is supposed to be "the place where bad ideas die," but as Donald Trump's other appointees make glaringly clear, there is no longer such a place.

(%$ mine)

There is also the long history of resume padding, as Maddow discusses above, but that doesn't disappoint me:  I expect sh%$ like that from a Trump administration.

Quote of the Day

But, if the global Left is to have any meaning in the future of the world, and I would argue that the global Right will destroy us all if it doesn’t, then it must get beyond post-structural paralysis and go back to the future of fighting not just for social justice issues but for equity based upon class. Empowerment is not just about language, it’s about capital, who’s got it, who hasn’t and what role government plays between them.

All sex is not rape, but most poverty is.
David Llewellyn-Smith
(emphasis mine)

H/t naked capitalism

Mistake, My Ass

The US military has now admitted to bombing Syrian government forces in September, but claims that it was an unfortunate accident.

This happened days after a cooperation deal was cut between the Russians and the US, and it had the effect of torpedoing the deal.

I do not believe that it was a mistake.  I believe that someone in the US chain of command did this deliberately to queer the deal.

Of course, you will never find out who, but you can fire those in the chain of command for incompetence, and that should have been done at the time.

Get the F%$# Over Yourselves

The British have come up with a new fiver, and vegetarians are losing their sh%$ because there are tiny quantities of animal fat used in the process of making the notes:
Britain's new £5 note contains animal fat, the Bank of England confirmed on Twitter.

In reply to a user who asked if the substance is used, the central bank said that there is "a trace of tallow in the polymer pellets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes."

Tallow is the fat that surrounds a cow's organs and is often used in soaps and candles.

Vegetarians and vegans reacted furiously to the news that animal fat is used in the note, which is the first to be made of polymer and has been touted as Britain's most advanced ever.

Twitter user Steffi Rox asked "what consideration was given to vegans & their human rights," while another user said the news gives a whole new meaning to the term "blood money."
As an aside, this tallow is also used in credit cards, many plastic toys, wire insulation, etc.

Still, this does not prevent the Granola crowd from going full Sepoy Mutiny over this.

Sorry, but society does not have any obligation to accommodate your particular lifestyle choices in the production of currency, though if I were in Parliament, I would put forth a bill to replace the plastic bills with ones made from dried beef, but I'm kind of a jerk.

On second thought, I would make the currency from veal confined in boxes until the calf's throats were slit.

28 November 2016

From the Former Kaplan Test Prep Company, Now a Subsidiary of Amazon.com

The Washington Post quoting an anonymous group of "experts" comes up with a blacklist of Russian propaganda sites.

It is, as Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept notes, a mishmash of dubious methodology juxtaposed with calls for "official investigations".

If you want a point by point take-down of the facts, or lack therof, in the WaPo story and its pet anonymous bloggers (see attached Herblock cartoon), read Greenwald, but if you want moral outrage done right, I would suggest that you read Matt Taibbi's commentary in Rolling Stone, who meticulously dissects how the Post ignored even the most basic of journalistic due diligence.
Last week, a technology reporter for the Washington Post named Craig Timberg ran an incredible story. It has no analog that I can think of in modern times. Headlined "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say," the piece promotes the work of a shadowy group that smears some 200 alternative news outlets as either knowing or unwitting agents of a foreign power, including popular sites like Truthdig and Naked Capitalism.

The thrust of Timberg's astonishingly lazy report is that a Russian intelligence operation of some kind was behind the publication of a "hurricane" of false news reports during the election season, in particular stories harmful to Hillary Clinton. The piece referenced those 200 websites as "routine peddlers of Russian propaganda."

The piece relied on what it claimed were "two teams of independent researchers," but the citing of a report by the longtime anticommunist Foreign Policy Research Institute was really window dressing.

The meat of the story relied on a report by unnamed analysts from a single mysterious "organization" called PropOrNot – we don't know if it's one person or, as it claims, over 30 – a "group" that seems to have been in existence for just a few months.

It was PropOrNot's report that identified what it calls "the list" of 200 offending sites. Outlets as diverse as AntiWar.com, LewRockwell.com and the Ron Paul Institute were described as either knowingly directed by Russian intelligence, or "useful idiots" who unwittingly did the bidding of foreign masters.


What this apparently means is that if you published material that meets their definition of being "useful" to the Russian state, you could be put on the "list," and "warrant further scrutiny."


Any halfway decent editor would have been scared to death by any of these factors. Moreover the vast majority of reporters would have needed to see something a lot more concrete than a half-assed theoretical paper from such a dicey source before denouncing 200 news organizations as traitors.

But if that same source also demanded anonymity on the preposterous grounds that it feared being "targeted by Russia's legions of skilled hackers"? Any sane reporter would have booted them out the door. You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won't put your name to your claims? Take a hike.


Most high school papers wouldn't touch sources like these. But in November 2016, both the president-elect of the United States and the Washington Post are equally at ease with this sort of sourcing.


Even worse, the Post apparently never contacted any of the outlets on the "list" before they ran their story. Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism says she was never contacted. Chris Hedges of Truthdig, who was part of a group that won the Pulitzer Prize for The New York Times once upon a time, said the same. "We were named," he tells me. "I was not contacted."


Helping Beltway politicos mass-label a huge portion of dissenting media as "useful idiots" for foreign enemies in this sense is an extraordinarily self-destructive act. Maybe the Post doesn't care and thinks it's doing the right thing. In that case, at least do the damn work.
Also, note that Mark Ames notes that whoever is running their official Twitter account is a Ukranian fascist:  (I am not using metaphor here, I am talking real fascists)

It appears to be that the Washington Post could not even be bothered to read this guy's Twitter feed.

They cited someone who is blogging in his pajamas who lives in his parents' basement.

Just Read This

Masha Gessen writes about her family history and Donald Trump.

What makes this difference is that her great-grandfather was part of the Bialystok Ghetto Judenrat, and her Grandmother was a censor for Stalin:
I grew up knowing that my great-grandfather smuggled guns into the Bialystok ghetto for the resistance, which staged an armed uprising there in August 1943. As an adult, researching a book about collaboration and resistance, using my own family history, I found out why my great-grandfather had been in a position to arm the resistance: he was one of the leaders of the Bialystok Judenrat, the Nazi-appointed Jewish council that ran the ghetto.

My great-grandfather’s story was at once an extreme and a typical example. Criminal regimes function in part by forcing the maximum number of subjects to participate in the atrocities. For nearly a century, individuals in various parts of the Western world have struggled with the question of how, and how much, we should engage politically and personally with governments that we find morally abhorrent.

With the election of Donald Trump—a candidate who has lied his way into power, openly embraced racist discourse and violence, toyed with the idea of jailing his opponents, boasted of his assaults on women and his avoidance of taxes, and denigrated the traditional checks and balances of government—this question has confronted us as urgently as ever. After I wrote a piece about surviving autocracy, a great many people have asked me about one of my proposed rules: “Do not compromise.” What constitutes compromise? How is it possible to avoid it? Why should one not compromise?

When I wrote about my great-grandfather in a book many years ago, I included the requisite discussion of Hannah Arendt’s opinion on the Jewish councils in Nazi-occupied Europe, which she called “undoubtedly the darkest chapter of the whole dark story” of the Holocaust. In her book Eichmann in Jerusalem she asserted that without Jewish cooperation Germany would have been unable to round up and kill as many Jews as it did. I quoted equally from the most comprehensive response to Arendt’s characterization of the Judenrat, Isaiah Trunk’s book Judenrat, in which he described the councils as complicated and contradictory organizations, ones that had functioned differently in different ghettos, and ultimately concluded that they had no effect on the final scope of the catastrophe.

When my grandmother—the Judenrat leader’s daughter—read the manuscript of my book, she demanded that I remove the Arendt quote. I told her I could not: as controversial as Arendt’s view was (and continues to be, forty years after her death), one cannot write about the Jewish councils and not acknowledge it. But I sincerely assured my grandmother that I viewed her father, who had been a local politician before the war, as a deeply moral man who did only what he thought was best for his people. My grandmother refused to understand; she and I did not speak for a few years after the book came out.


That was the argument [that the job would get done by someone anyway] my other grandmother used when she became a censor for the Soviet government. Her argument was by no means a moral cop-out. On the contrary, it was a moral choice. She had been trained to be a history teacher, but she decided that she could not engage in the act of active lying, especially to children. She did not want to use her charm, beauty, and kindness to make children think the way Stalin wanted them to think. So she became a censor. Her job was to open personal mail that arrived from abroad, read it, and block it if it contained banned material, such as a copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls or Western natural-science magazines that an émigré kept sending his scientist brother.


In Bialystok ghetto, my great-grandfather’s responsibility in the Judenrat was to ensure that the ghetto was supplied with food. He ran the trucks that brought food in and took garbage out, he ran the canteen and supervised the community gardens that a group of young socialists planted. He also discouraged the young socialists from trying to organize a resistance movement: it would be of no use and would only jeopardize the ghetto’s inhabitants. It took him almost two years to change his mind about the resistance efforts, as he slowly lost hope that the Judenrat, by generally following the rules and keeping the ghetto inhabitants in line, would be able to save at least some of them.

As in other ghettos, the Judenrat was ultimately given the task of compiling the lists of Jews to be “liquidated.” The Bialystok Judenrat accepted the job, and there is every indication that my great-grandfather took part in the process. The arguments in defense of producing the list, in Bialystok and elsewhere, were pragmatic: the killing was going to occur anyway; by cooperating, the Judenrat could try to reduce the number of people the Nazis were planning to kill (in Bialystok, this worked, though in the end the ghetto, like all other ghettos, was “liquidated”); by compiling the lists, the Judenrat could prevent random killing, instead choosing to sacrifice those who were already near death from disease or starvation. These were strong arguments. There is always a strong argument.


We cannot know what political strategy, if any, can be effective in containing, rather than abetting, the threat that a Trump administration now poses to some of our most fundamental democratic principles. But we can know what is right. What separates Americans in 2016 from Europeans in the 1940s and 1950s is a little bit of historical time but a whole lot of historical knowledge. We know what my great-grandfather did not know: that the people who wanted to keep the people fed ended up compiling lists of their neighbors to be killed. That they had a rationale for doing so. And also, that one of the greatest thinkers of their age judged their actions as harshly as they could be judged.

Armed with that knowledge, or burdened with that legacy, we have a slight chance of making better choices. As Trump torpedoes into the presidency, we need to shift from realist to moral reasoning. That would mean, at minimum, thinking about the right thing to do, now and in the imaginable future. It is also a good idea to have a trusted friend capable of reminding you when you are about to lose your sense of right and wrong.
She is right, whether there are realistic ways to work with Trump, they need to be viewed through a moral lens, and not whether they provide a temporary or minor respite.

Now is not the time to talk about the need to come together, it is the time to talk about right and wrong.

Betsy Devos' Educational Paradise

Detroit's privatization of its schools is a complete clusterf%$#, even charter school and voucher advocates find it so.

There is a preponderance of private for profit operators and abysmal results, to the degree that New Orleans is doing an order of magnitude better.

This is largely because of the pernicious effect of the DeVos family donating huge sums of money to short circuit any review or oversight of charter schools and voucher recipients.

Well, now it has reached its logical conclusion, with the state of Michigan arguing that literacy is not a right, and so there can be no review of the catastrophic state of affairs in Detroit:
The State of Michigan wants a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to establish a constitutional right to literacy.

"The United States Supreme Court and Michigan courts recognize the importance of literacy," state lawyers wrote in a response last week to a suit filed on behalf of Detroit school children. "But as important as literacy may be, the United States Supreme Court has unambiguously rejected the claim that public education is a fundamental right under the Constitution. Literacy is a component or particular outcome of education, not a right granted to individuals by the Constitution."


"The response completely fails to engage with the 136-page complaint’s specific and detailed allegations documenting the extreme and indefensible conditions that deny children access to literacy in Detroit schools: classrooms without books or teachers, sweltering and freezing temperatures, vermin infestations, and buildings that are literally falling apart," Eidmann said. "Each day that the state chooses to fight this lawsuit is another day of education lost that may never be recovered. Would the state try to wash its hands of this matter if the students suffering were not children of color from low-income families?"

The lawsuit filed Sept. 13 on behalf of seven Detroit schoolchildren claims the State of Michigan has failed to provide them with basic literacy, a foundation of all education and a precursor to active citizenship. It asks the federal courts to order remedies, including "evidence-based literacy reforms," a systemic approach to instruction and intervention as well as fixes to crumbling Detroit schools.
A shorter version of this is that the State of Michigan is saying that children of minorities do not deserve a proper education.

Props to the Associated Press

They have just updated their definition of "alt-right" to say that it means racist dirtbags:
Recent developments have put the so-called “alt-right” movement in the news. They highlight the need for clarity around use of the term and around some related terms, such as “white nationalism” and “white supremacism.”


“Alt-right” (quotation marks, hyphen and lower case) may be used in quotes or modified as in the “self-described” or “so-called alt-right” in stories discussing what the movement says about itself.

Avoid using the term generically and without definition, however, because it is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters’ actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience. In the past we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist.
While the AP's position on copyright is maximalist and counter-productive, (they act as if fair use excerpting does not exist) this is a very worthwhile update to their standards.

Quote of the Day

The crime-fighting case against cash is overstated. Last year, a risk assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing conducted by the U.K. government found that regulated institutions such as banks (like HSBC) and accountancy service providers (like the Panamanian tax-shelter specialist Mossack Fonseca) posed the highest risk of facilitating the illicit storage or movement of funds. Cash came in a close third, but if we’re going to cite unlawful transactions as a rationale for banning cash, it only makes sense to ban banks and accounting firms first.
Elaine Ou


Rolling some more Olbermann:

27 November 2016

She Really Needs to Go to Jail

We get some more stories about Theranos, and it sounds more like a Mafia family than it does a medical testing business:
If you think your Thanksgiving dinner conversation will be awkward and stressful this year, just be glad you and your family weren’t involved with Theranos.

As the once highly regarded blood-testing company crumbles under technological scandals and regulatory sanctions, the death toll of relationships among neighbors, friends, families, and long-standing partners is mounting. With lawsuits, investigative reports, and new accounts from a whistleblower, the company’s culture and inner-workings—which Theranos worked hard to obfuscate—are finally becoming clear. And what’s emerged are patterns of dishonesty, callousness, and litigiousness—if not outright belligerence.

Perhaps most startling of the recent revelations is the identity and family drama of one Theranos whistleblower: Tyler Shultz, grandson of George Shultz, the former secretary of state, who also happens to be a Theranos advisor. An exposé by The Wall Street Journal lays out how in the course of eight months, Tyler Shultz went from a bright-eyed Theranos employee to disgruntled whistleblower, personally disparaged by Theranos’ then-president and desperately trying to convince his grandfather to wash his hands of the doomed company.

Fresh out of college, Tyler Shultz started working with Theranos’ assay validation team in 2013, which was in charge of monitoring the precision of its blood test results. He noted wild inaccuracies on some tests before being moved to the company’s production team, where he witnessed the company’s blood testing machines failing quality controls. Both issues were flagged years later in federal inspection reports, validating Shultz’s allegations. But at the time, then-president Sunny Balwani had pressured employees to ignore the problems, Shultz said. (Balwani stepped down from the company earlier this year and was banned by federal regulators from running a clinical lab for two years.) Nevertheless, Tyler Shultz e-mailed his findings and concerns directly to Elizabeth Holmes, the company's founder and CEO.

Days later, Shultz got a message back—from Balwani. “We saw your email to Elizabeth,” Balwani wrote. “Before I get into specifics, let me share with you that had this email come from anyone else in the company, I would have already held them accountable for the arrogant and patronizing tone and reckless comments.” He went on to belittle Shultz’s intelligence and understanding of the company’s technology. “The only reason I have taken so much time away from work to address this personally is because you are Mr. Shultz’s grandson,” Balwani added.

Shultz quit Theranos that day, intending to leave the professional drama behind. However, it was just the start of his family drama. It seems that Holmes called up the elder Shultz directly to inform him of his grandson’s actions and threatened that his grandson would “lose” if he pursued the allegations. While Tyler Shultz was still gathering his things to leave Theranos, his mother called and implored him to stop “whatever you’re about to do!”

After that, Shultz said his relationship with his grandfather became strained—and remains that way. Holmes made a surprising and uncomfortable appearance at his grandfather’s house the following Thanksgiving. She also attended his subsequent 95th birthday. Tyler Shultz did not. Meanwhile, the younger Shultz says Theranos has had him followed by private investigators and pressured by lawyers.
It gets far worse from there.

This is a company that knew that it was peddling snake oil, and used intimidation and a culture of fear to  suppress the truth.

This isn't just a bunch of people who believed their own PR.  This is conscious deliberate fraud, and Holmes and Balwani need to be in the dock.

Tweet of the Day

Of course, the day for this tweet is Cthanksgiving:
H/t naked capitalism

26 November 2016

Worst Constitutional Law Professor Ever? Maybe He's Just a F%$#ing Idiot.

Barack Obama has spent most of the last 8 years expanding the powers of the Presidency, because, after all his motives are virtuous.

This is, of course is the very antithesis of the reasoning of the founding fathers, who endeavored to create a system where the bulwark against tyranny DIDN'T depend on the good intentions of those holding power.

I put Obama's relentless quest for more executive power down to hypocrisy and narcissism.

I may have been wrong, maybe he's just an idiot.

Obama has just expanded his powers as Commander-in-Chief when he knows that Donald Trump will be succeeding him:
The Obama administration is giving the elite Joint Special Operations Command — the organization that helped kill Osama bin Laden in a 2011 raid by Navy SEALs — expanded power to track, plan and potentially launch attacks on terrorist cells around the globe, a move driven by concerns of a dispersed terrorist threat as Islamic State militants are driven from strongholds in Iraq and Syria, U.S. officials said.

The missions could occur well beyond the battlefields of places like Iraq, Syria and Libya where Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has carried out clandestine operations in the past. When finalized, it will elevate JSOC from being a highly-valued strike tool used by regional military commands to leading a new multiagency intelligence and action force. Known as the “Counter-External Operations Task Force,” the group will be designed to take JSOC’s targeting model — honed over the last 15 years of conflict — and export it globally to go after terrorist networks plotting attacks against the West.

The creation of a new JSOC entity this late in the Obama’s tenure is the “codification” of best practices in targeting terrorists outside of conventional conflict zones, according to the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss administration deliberations. It is unclear, however, if the administration of President-elect Donald Trump will keep this and other structures set up by Obama. They include guidelines for counterterrorism operations such as approval by several agencies before a drone strike and “near certainty” that no civilians will be killed. This series of presidential orders is known as the “playbook.”
Essentially, this will put JSOC on a direct channel to the White House, making it easier for the White House to initiate such actions with only the barest review from the rest of the military or from the Pentagon bureaucracy.

Obama just stood this up, and he's going to be handing it to Donald Trump.

This is so stupid on so many levels that it buggers the mind.

This Just In

Fidel Castro is still dead.

Needless to say, there a lot of folks at the CIA who are bumming that they didn't get to kill him.

25 November 2016

Canny Political Move

Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein has filed for a recount for Wisconsin, and is raising money for similar challenges in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

She is looking to raise something north of $7 million in her efforts, and there is a good chance that she will hit that target.

Of course, Stein and the Green Party do not directly benefit from such a challenge, they will have lost in all three states at the end of any count, but this action grants her, and the Green Party, some much needed publicity, and at the end of the day, she will have a list of those people who donated to the cause.

Those donors are a well that she, and the Green Party, can return to at a later date.

It is a no lose situation for Stein and the Greens.

My Bad

I have been remiss in recording bank and credit union failures as part of my "Bank Failure Friday" series

The 14th credit union failure of the year happened on November 9, Valley State Credit Union, of Saginaw, Michigan.

I missed it because it was under a different part of the NCUA list.

What Bernie Says

Bernie Sanders reviews Donald Trump's infrastructure plans, and finds them lacking, noting that it is a plan to use taxpayer funds to create private gains.

Your mouth to God's ear.

Just the Thing to Fix Education: Pyramid Schemes, Mercenaries, and a Hatred of Public Education

Donald Trump has selected Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.

For those of you are unaware of her background, she is married to the Amway heir (Pyramid scheme, check), is the brother of Blackwater founder Erik Prince (Mercenaries, check), and she has been at the forefront of replacing public schools with charter schools and vouchers to religious schools (Hates public education, check).

I am not surprised, but I am a bit disappointed.

Trump has made a number of pro-Charter statements.

Still, Betsy DeVos is a pretty heady mix of wing-nuttery, corruption, and evil.

24 November 2016





Posted via mobile.

23 November 2016

The Answer Should be, "No".

While I am not a big fan of Nancy Pelosi, she learned the lesson of the Social Security fight with George W. Bush in 2005, when her response was simply "no."

No counter proposals, no deals, just, "No".

It worked, and it did a lot of damage to the both Bush and the Republican Party.

Paul Ryan, the "zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin" is proposing to privatize Medicare.

Nancy Pelosi gets it, and once again, her strategy will be "No", no counter proposals, no deals, just, "No":
Democrats are wandering around in the wilderness once again, shut out of power in Washington after losing a close, hard-fought presidential battle. The last time this happened, after the 2004 elections, the newly reelected president, George W. Bush, over-read his mandate and launched an ill-fated effort to partially privatize Social Security, providing a rallying point for Democrats to begin turning things around.

In an interview with me, House Dem leader Nancy Pelosi argued that history might repeat itself, if House Speaker Paul Ryan — with Donald Trump’s blessing — makes good on his hints to press forward with his plans to privatize Medicare. Pelosi vowed that Democrats would remain united in the battle to stop Ryan’s plan, a goal she described as crucial to defeating it, just as unity enabled Dems to block Bush’s Social Security plan.

“At that time, we committed to each other that we would be unified and disciplined,” Pelosi said. “Bush had just been elected. He gave us an opportunity by saying he would partially privatize Social Security. Everybody stuck together. The opportunity that we have now is the equivalent of the opportunity we had in ’05.”

In that 2005 fight, Pelosi recalled, Democrats actively avoided developing an alternative plan to Bush’s. Instead, Democrats said their plan was to defend Social Security, a very popular government program. At the time, some Democratic strategists warned against uncompromising opposition. But the gamble paid off. Observers noted that Bush’s plan sank in popularity as Dems remained unified behind a refusal to budge in defense of Social Security, a move that was widely credited with helping to put Dems on track to winning back Congress in the 2006 elections.
Now is not the time to listen to the the professional political consulting class of the Democratic Party, who will advise a counter-offer, and compromise, and bipartisanship.

Their advice is horrific policy, and even worse politics, and Pelosi is right to eschew the inevitable calls to capitulation.

These consultants are, with the possible exception of Dick Cheney, the most excessively overemployed people on the eastern seaboard, and they should be fired ……… Out of a cannon ……… and into the sun.

The Term is Idiot Savant

It appears that people are trying to find a method to the Trump madness, and so theyu\ are throwing around terms like, "Demagogic genius.

I think that the term political idiot savant is more accurate, if somewhat politically incorrect.

Then again, politically incorrect is the new black for the next few years.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

It doesn't float, it's just so ugly that it repels the water
2 weeks ago, I noted that the extended range munition which was a large part of the justification for the new Zumwalt class destroyers was too expensive to procure, and now we discover that the latest whiz bang ship broke down because it leaks:
The Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced guided missile destroyer had to be towed from the Panama Canal after experiencing “engineering issues,” a spokesman for the service said Tuesday in a statement.

The USS Zumwalt, which cost $4.4 billion, will remain at Naval Station Rodman, a former U.S. base in Panama, to repair problems that surfaced this week while the ship cruised to its new homeport in San Diego, said Cmdr. Ryan Perry, a spokesman for the Navy’s Third Fleet. He said it was unclear how long the ship would remain in Panama.

“The schedule for the ship will remain flexible to enable testing and evaluation in order to ensure the ship’s safe transit to her new homeport,” Perry said in a statement.

USNI News, a publication of the U.S. Naval Institute, reported the ship was in the canal when it lost propulsion. Crew members also saw water intrusion in bearings that connect electrical motors to drive shafts, it reported.

The 610-foot-long Zumwalt was billed as the most capable surface combat ship in the world when it was commissioned last month in Baltimore. But the most recent issues were not the first it has faced since it left shipbuilder General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Maine in September.

The Zumwalt suffered a similar seawater leak in September and another unspecified engineering problem in October, according to USNI News.
This is becoming a bit of a theme in US defense procurement, and if it continues, it's going to get very ugly.

A Bright Side to Brexit

While there is a lot of talk about wealth being lost, for the overwhelming majority of the British public, there is very little wealth to be lost, and Theresa May's plans to deal with the fallout involving the end of the stupid and self destructive austerity program:
When the initiative to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union was being debated, many people, including many economists, predicted the country would be hit with a severe recession. It didn't happen. The economy seems to be moving along fine, with no recession in sight, although the London real estate market is not looking very good. Of course the UK has not left the European Union yet, or even developed a plan to do so, but it is unlikely that many would want to place much money on that recession bet today.

Apparently, the conservative government has now abandoned its plans for further austerity and a balanced budget. It is expected to spend an additional $187 billion over the next five years (roughly 1.0 percent of GDP) to boost the economy and create jobs. According to the NYT, this spending is a direct response to concerns over the plight of working class people who voted for Brexit in large numbers.

This outcome is worth noting, because the boost to the economy from additional spending is likely to be larger than any drag on growth as a result of leaving the European Union. This would mean that the net effect of Brexit on growth would be positive. Of course the UK government could have abandoned its austerity path without Brexit, but probably would not have done so. Given the political context, working class voters who wanted to see more jobs and a stronger welfare state likely made the right vote by supporting Brexit. This doesn't excuse the racist sentiments that motivated many Brexit supporters, but it is important to recognize the economic story here.
If this continues, the wealthy may take a hit, but the bottom 99% might do quite a bit better.

OK, I am Now Mildly Excited

I've been hearing about the EM drive for some time.

It's a space propulsion system which requires no reaction mass or fuel.

I've been dubious, but NASA has published a favorable report in a peer reviewed journal, which means that the concept is credible on a mainstream level.

I look forward to the tests:
NASA scientists have been daydreaming about a new kind of engine that could carry astronauts to Mars in 70 days without burning any fuel. Now, in a new paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Propulsion and Power, they say that it might really work.

The paper, written by astrophysicists at NASA's Eagleworks Laboratories, tested a electromagnetic propulsion system, or “EM drive,” that generates a small amount of thrust simply by bouncing microwaves around a cone-shaped copper chamber. No propellant goes in, no exhaust comes out, and yet, somehow, the engine can make things move.

If you think that news sounds too good to be true, you've got good instincts — it just might be. This “impossible” fuel-less engine appears to violate one of the fundamental laws of physics.


That's Newton's third law of motion. It's the principle that explains why pushing against a wall will send an ice skater zooming in the opposite direction. It also explains how jet engines work: As hot gases are expelled out the back of the plane, they produce a thrusting force that moves the plane forward.

But the EM drive doesn't work that way. Its thrust seems to come from the impact of photons on the walls of the copper cavity. That would be like moving a car forward by just banging against the windshield.


According to the new paper, yes. The Eagleworks scientists report that their machine generated 1.2 millinewtons of thrust per kilowatt of electricity pumped in. (That electricity could come from solar panels in a hypothetical spaceship.) That's a fraction of thrust produced by the lightweight ion drives now used in many NASA spacecraft, National Geographic noted, but it's a lot more than the few micronewtons per kilowatt produced by light sails, a proven technology that generates thrust using radiation from the sun.
I'd like to see some orbital testing, and a theoretical model explaining how it works, but I am now officially intrigued.

Tweet of the Day

As an reminder, Erica Garner is the daughter of Eric Garner, who was murdered as a result of an illegal police choke hold.

Oh, yeah, this tweet too:

H/t naked capitalism

Oh, Your Poor Delicate Snowflakes

Well, Donald Trump has disavowed the NeoNazis supporting him, though he continues to support bigot in chief Steve Bannon, and these ill-conceived sons of wombats throw some major butt hurt.

Do you all want some whine with that cheese?

22 November 2016

You Ever Have One of Those Days?

As pilots say, "Any landing that you can walk away from is a good one."

I will be so glad when today is over.

Posted via mobile.

21 November 2016

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, Would You Please Go Now!

Seriously, George W. Bush's poodle needs to drink a big glass of shut the f%$# up.

Your time has passed, and 3rd way neoconservative foreign policy/neoliberal economic policy was a bad idea when you went into Iraq, and it's a worse idea now:
Tony Blair is positioning himself to return to British politics, it has been reported.

The controversial former Prime Minister is engineering a comeback because he feels he can fill a political vacuum caused by Theresa May being a “light weight” and Jeremy Corbyn being a “nutter”, The Sunday Times reports. A source said Mr Blair is sourcing premises near Westminster in order to relocate 130 staff to the UK’s political hub.

A source allegedly told the newspaper: “He’s not impressed with Theresa May. He thinks she’s a total lightweight. He thinks Jeremy Corbyn’s a nutter and the Tories are screwing up Brexit. He thinks there’s a massive hole in British politics that he can fill.”

In response, a representative or Mr Blair reportedly said he has not made a decision to relocate the company there.
New Labour may have been necessary to defeat the Tories in the 1990s (I would argue that Thatcher fatigue paved the way for the that victory), but today, all this is going to do is get more votes for the right wing racist UKIP and ensure that Scotland remains terra incognita for Labout.

The Blairites are a spent force.  Ed Millibrand's drubbing following his efforts to be just a little bit less awful than the Tories is proof of this.

Tony Blair is loathed by everyone who isn't a dead-ender member of parliament.

A bit of doggerel on this after the break (Apologies to Dr. Seuss and Art Buchwald):

Meritocracy, My Ass

It appears that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and his brother got into Harvard because their father donated $2½ million.

When one considers the obvious influence that we wields with the President-elect, this does not bode well for the rest of us:
I would like to express my gratitude to Jared Kushner for reviving interest in my 2006 book, “The Price of Admission.” I have never met or spoken with him, and it’s rare in this life to find such a selfless benefactor. Of course, I doubt he became Donald Trump’s son-in-law and consigliere merely to boost my lagging sales, but still, I’m thankful.

My book exposed a grubby secret of American higher education: that the rich buy their under-achieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations. It reported that New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school. At the time, Harvard accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of twenty.) 

I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.

“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” a former official at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”


I began working through the list, poring over “Who’s Who in America” and Harvard class reunion reports for family information. Charles and Seryl Kushner were both on the committee. I had never heard of them, but their joint presence struck me as a sign that Harvard’s fundraising machine held the couple in especially fond regard.

The clips showed that Charles Kushner’s empire encompassed 25,000 New Jersey apartments, along with extensive office, industrial and retail space and undeveloped land. Unlike most of his fellow committee members, though, Kushner was not a Harvard man. He had graduated from New York University. This eliminated the sentimental tug of the alma mater as a reason for him to give to Harvard, leaving another likely explanation: his children.

Sure enough, his sons Jared and Joshua had both enrolled there.
This raises an obvious question: Why did their father, who went to NYU, a highly respected school, drop millions of dollars to get his kids into Harvard?

Because going to Harvard is like become a made man for the mob.

The undergraduate experience at Harvard, according to a alumni (a relative who is in academe and former Clinton economist Brad Delong), is simply not that special.

That does not matter: it is an entrée into American nobility.

It's why the banksters who blew up the world never faced the possibility of jail time: It was inconceivable that the Ivy League educated prosecutors would frog march the Ivy League educated banksters out of their offices in handcuffs.

It's a twisted satire of noblesse oblige.

I Expect Trump's Supreme Court to Overturn This on Appeal

A federal court has just ruled that Wisconsin's state house district are an unconstitutional Gerrymander:
A panel of federal judges on Monday ruled that Wisconsin’s 2011 legislative redistricting plan, created by Republican leaders virtually in secret, is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.

The map “was intended to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters … by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats,” wrote federal appeals court Judge Kenneth Ripple, the senior judge on the three-judge panel, adding that “the discriminatory effect is not explained by the political geography of Wisconsin nor is it justified by a legitimate state interest.

“Consequently, Act 43 constitutes an unconstitutional political gerrymander,” Ripple wrote.

The 116-page decision, with a 40-page dissent from U.S. District Judge William Griesbach, was issued several months after the panel heard testimony in federal court in Madison. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, the third judge on the panel, joined Ripple in the court’s 2-1 decision.


The Democrats contend they have found a way to measure unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders designed to give a “large and durable” advantage in elections to one party — a measure the U.S. Supreme Court said was lacking in previous redistricting cases. The measure, called the efficiency gap, shows how cracking (breaking up blocs of Democratic voters) and packing (concentrating Democrats within certain districts) results in wasted votes — excess votes for the winners in safe districts and perpetually inadequate votes for the losers.

Lawyers for the Democrats said the 2011 plan, which changed boundaries for all of the state’s Congressional and state Senate and Assembly districts, was drawn specifically to disenfranchise Democratic voters.

Republicans have countered that as the majority party, they can draw the maps any way they choose, short of creating districts that disenfranchise racial minorities.
I really hope that the ruling sticks, but I expect that whatever partisan hack that Trump appoints to be on the prevailing side of a 5-4 decision saying that the voters can go Cheney themselves.

Quote of the Day

There is, however, a more intelligent form of class politics. This starts from the fact that class isn’t a state of mind but an objective fact: if you’re in a position of subordination to an employer, you’re working class whatever you feel. This means that being working class unites otherwise disparate people. The immigrant chambermaid, the skilled coder whose boss is a tw@#, and the academic facing the neoliberalization of the university are all working class. This means they have some common interests. All would benefit from increased control in the workplace and increased bargaining power
Lambert Strether on Naked Capitalism
@# mine

It wasn't Mr. Strether wot said this, it was Chris Dillow.


Have Monty Python's silly olympics:

20 November 2016

The Human Cost of the Wild Blue Yonder Crowd

If you look at activities in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, the overwhelming majority of the missions could be accomplished by low cost low performance Turboprop aircraft, and the reduced logistical tail would have eliminated many of the casualties from the huge number of convoys that fast jets required:
The U.S. Air Force has been continuously at war for more than 25 years. From the opening minutes of Desert Storm to the present, there has not been a time when the Air Force was not flying combat missions in support of national security objectives, often simultaneously in widely separated locations. The vast majority of that burden has been borne by the fighter/attack force, which has been continuously employed for over two decades without a break. The effectiveness of that force and its versatility remain undisputed. Yet these operations have not been without their challenges, particularly of the logistical sort. Combat operations in the 1990s were easy to support logistically, flown from NATO, Saudi, and Kuwaiti airbases under permissive conditions. But from the early days of Enduring Freedom when A-10s moved into Afghanistan, the logistical burden of supporting our legacy fighters jumped precipitously because the supply routes into Iraq and Afghanistan were never free from hostile threat. The high fuel consumption of legacy fighters necessitated a very intensive logistical effort conducted at significant cost in blood and treasure.

Today in Syria and northern Iraq, the Air Force avoids this problem by flying from distant bases, a concept of operations that adds excessive flying hours to its aging jets at exorbitant cost. If there was no alternative to fast jets, this would largely be an unavoidable burden. But modern turboprop-powered light attack aircraft offer a capable, viable alternative for providing air support in irregular conflicts. Light attack aircraft, operating in place of some legacy fighter/attack aircraft in current or future irregular conflicts, offer an opportunity to greatly reduce the fuel burden imposed by air operations, offset the high cost of employing airpower, and expand our definition of “global reach.” Had the Air Force done this a decade ago, we might also have reduced the number of Purple Hearts awarded to servicemen and their families.


Combat operations drive high fuel consumption. In 2006, as Central Command argued for a surge in Iraq, the majority of the U.S. military’s fuel use (58 percent) was jet fuel, dwarfing the next largest category (marine diesel) at 13 percent. In 2008, total fuel deliveries to Iraq and Afghanistan exceeded 90 million gallons per month — 20 percent of the entire Defense Department consumption. Because of the poor in-ground petroleum transport infrastructure in Iraq and especially in Afghanistan, the heavy use of fuel in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom can be directly tied to casualties incurred by ground operations required to get the fuel to U.S. bases, particularly airbases. Overall, roughly half of the total tonnage hauled overland was fuel, with the Army bearing the lion’s share of the ground transportation burden for all of the services. Air Force airpower supported the Army’s wider campaign, but the Army itself moved and protected the fuel needed to make that happen.


The same document also quotes the British Ministry of Defence in assessing that between 2001 and 2010 a whopping 39 percent of the total killed in action of U.K. uniformed personnel and contractors (over 190) was related to resupply efforts.


The direct link between fuel and casualties is not news. However, the impact of high fuel consumption by Air Force fighter/attack aircraft remains poorly understood and rarely discussed. If there were no alternative to the current jet fleet, the discussion would be moot. But for the kind of challenges faced in Iraq, Syria, Africa, the Philippines, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, there is a viable alternative: a turboprop-powered light attack aircraft. Air Combat Command has a designation for its proposed light attack aircraft: the OA-X. Among its other capabilities, the fuel consumption of OA-X is known to be a fraction of the consumption of fast jets. [A note here, technically, not all of the aircraft here are turboprops, the turbofan powered Textron Scorpion gives similar advantages.]


OA-X can be operated from austere airstrips, providing true tanker independence and the ability to operate effectively with substantially less fuel support than legacy fighters. The PT6A engine is extremely resistant to foreign object damage, always possible on unimproved strips. The fuel burned in an hour by a cruising OA-X will be burned by an F-15E in eight minutes of ground taxi. In March 2010, the AT-6B and T-6C flew 24 sorties in 2010’S Joint Force Experiment (JEFX)  at Nellis Air Force Base. In total, the two aircraft flew 46 flight hours and burned 15,640 pounds of fuel, averaging 340 pounds per hour. That’s around the amount that it takes to fuel a two-tank F-15E to half capacity. On a per-hour basis, OA-X will use between 3 to 5 percent the fuel of an F-15E and 6 to 10 percent of an F-16C. A single 5,000-gallon fuel truck, sufficient to top off an F-15E for a two-hour sortie, will supply OA-X for over 90 hours of flight.
The US Air Force will not do this unless it is forced to, because tactical air is dominated by white scarf guys on both the bomber and the fighter sides of the coin, and the idea of aircraft being selected through this sort of holistic process is an anathema to them.

More Professional Class Arrogance

It is now becoming clear that Clinton’s ground game — the watchword for defenders of her alleged competence — was actually under-resourced and poorly executed. Like so much else in this election, her field strategy was hostage to the colossal arrogance and consequent incompetence of the liberal establishment.

At the heart of the failure was the notion of the “new emerging majority.” According to this argument — pushed by, among others, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira — women, Latinos, blacks, and skilled professionals who support the Democrats were becoming the demographic majority. Thus the traditional white working-class base of the Democratic Party could be sidelined.

Back in July Chuck Schumer summed it up: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

From this theory and strategy flowed a deeply flawed set of tactics, and a badly fumbled get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort.

A labor organizer in Ohio, who wished to remain anonymous, reports that Clinton’s early GOTV effort there focused on Republicans in the mistaken belief a significant number of them could be peeled away. This play largely failed. And it also involved serious opportunity costs: traditional Democratic constituencies like African Americans and the white working class were neglected, and Clinton ended up badly under-performing Obama among both groups, especially in the Rust Belt.

Only in the last two weeks, according to this labor source, did the Democratic Party outreach effort really switch back to traditional Democratic voters. By then, it was too late. Due to lack of preparation, the voter lists guiding the effort had not been updated. Because poorer voters tend to relocate more frequently than home-owning suburbanites, many addresses were wrong. And for lack of more frequent contact the campaign was often unsure about the voters’ current political attitudes.


The Clinton campaign’s assumption seems to have been that actual people living on the ground in actual places knew less about the population around them than did the data-savvy professionals at campaign headquarters in Brooklyn.


The computer-obsessed Clinton campaign — having lost touch with people but not big data — seems to have inadvertently turned out Trump voters!


A point for the Left in all this: the DNC’s ideas are not only bad because they don’t advocate the social-democratic redistribution we would like to see — they are also bad because they don’t work at a purely technical level.

Their arrogance and contempt for the working class produced a flawed political theory, which in turn produced a bad strategy, which in turn produced a tactically inept ground game.

Too busy congratulating themselves and concurring with each other, the Clintonites couldn’t even get the rudiments of the campaign correct.
The larger point here is that smug self-satisfied professionals are neither the basis for governing electorate nor are they a basis for a campaign.

This was shown by the debacles in 1994, 2004, 2010, 2104, and 2016.

It is only when the Republicans step on their own dicks (impeachment, Iraq, financial crisis, Mitt Rmoney) that this strategy, and this class, manages to win elections.

Deep Thought

I just realized why Mike Pence agreed to be Trump's running mate.

It was the only way that he could get tickets to Hamilton.

19 November 2016

We Are Completely F%$#ed

And not in a good way. First, the North Pole is 36° F (20° C) degrees above normal:
Political people in the United States are watching the chaos in Washington in the moment. But some people in the science community are watching the chaos somewhere else — the Arctic.

It’s polar night there now — the sun isn’t rising in much of the Arctic. That’s when the Arctic is supposed to get super-cold, when the sea ice that covers the vast Arctic Ocean is supposed to grow and thicken.

But in fall of 2016 — which has been a zany year for the region, with multiple records set for low levels of monthly sea ice — something is totally off. The Arctic is super-hot, even as a vast area of cold polar air has been displaced over Siberia.


Twitter’s expert Arctic watchers also are stunned. Zack Labe, a PhD student at the University of California at Irvine who studies the Arctic, tweeted out an image on Wednesday from the Danish Meteorological Institute showing Arctic temperatures about 20 degrees Celsius higher than normal above 80 degrees North Latitude.
Also, we now have indications that Antarctica's Southern Ocean may no longer be able to absorb excess CO2, which means that levels of greenhouse gasses make increase even more rapidly:

Already, initial data from an array of ocean floats suggest that upwelling waters could be limiting how much CO2 the Southern Ocean absorbs each year. This raises new questions about how effective these waters will be as a brake on global warming in decades to come.

“The Southern Ocean is doing us a big climate favour at the moment, but it’s not necessarily the case that it will continue doing so in the future,” says Michael Meredith, an oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. Meredith is heading a series of expeditions over the next five years to help document the uptake of heat and carbon. “It really is the key place for studying these things.”


Hints of something similar have been seen before. In 2007, a team led by Corinne Le Quéré, now director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Norwich, UK, published a study in Science indicating that the rate of carbon uptake by the Southern Ocean decreased between 1981 and 2004. The authors blamed the changes on the winds that encircle the Antarctic continent. The speed of those winds had increased during that time, probably as a result of the hole in the stratospheric ozone layer over Antarctica and possibly because of global warming. Stronger winds are better able to pull up deep, ancient water, which releases CO2 when it reaches the surface. That would have caused a net weakening of the carbon sink.
This is real end or the world stuff, and in a few weeks, we will have a global warming denier in chief.


Signs That You Are Getting Old

You are in a bedroom, and you are thinking, "Where the f#&@ are my pants?" and you haven't had a date that is one for the ages.

Posted via mobile.

18 November 2016

Knowing is Worse than Not Knowing

Remember when I said that I would not be speculating on Trump cabinet appointments because it just made thing worse and drove me crazy?

I may have been excessively optimistic.

Trump has announced that he will be nominating a racist dirtbag for US Attorney General (Jeff Sessions), a right wing lunatic who was fired as head of the DIA for his incompetence and an abusive management style as National Security Adviser (Michael Flynn), and a Teabagger who is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers as  as C.I.A. Director (Mike Pompeo).

Charlie Pierce has the details.

Of particular note here is that this appears to be putting the stake through the heart of whatever faint hope there was that Trump would not buy into the mindlessly bellicose national security consensus.

We are in for more, and possibly stupider, wars during the Trump Administration.

17 November 2016

Our Narcissistic Press

Donald Trump is an iconoclast who blithely ignores the norms of civil society.

It appears that the only time that the press cares about this is when he President elect ditches the 4th estate for a steak dinner:
On Tuesday night, Donald Trump committed a huge no-no. This was nothing trivial like empowering white hate groups or waging public and legal vendettas against his enemies—he’s been doing those things all along. For the first time since winning the presidency last week, he sneaked away from the pool of reporters tasked with knowing his whereabouts all day every day to dine at a fancy Manhattan steak house.

This may sound like a minor infraction, but it is actually a matter of incredible importance, as many journalists have explained in the hours since.

Trump had traduced yet another vital norm, except instead of simply noting an objection to the violation, and assuming the importance of the broken protocol, reporters have been at pains to defend it. ………


When Trump announced that white nationalist publisher Steve Bannon would be his chief strategist next year, the political media wasn’t entirely sure how to process it. Early reports depicted Bannon, the executive chairman of the racist agitprop website Breitbart, not as a hero figure to white supremacists and neo-Nazis but as a “combative” strategist or a “conservative firebrand.”


For most readers here, and probably for most Americans, it’s self-evident why the “no white supremacists in the White House” norm should stand. People generally grasp that racism is a horrifying value, even if they’re unfamiliar with the kind of violence and subjugation that occurred when white supremacists controlled government in the past.
The author, Brian Beutler, goes on to exhort that the press observe when norms are being violated and explaining why this is a bad thing.

He's an optimist, and I am a pessimist, so I see it as efidence of an insular and cynical press which is only concerned about the violation of norms when it's their ox that is gored.

We saw this in 2009 when Republicans decided to filibuster everything coming down the pipe in the Senate, and within a few weeks, the reporting was that 60 votes were required for passage.

We also saw this with torture, signing statements, and a whole range of other mischief.

I do not expect this to change, particularly given increasingly corporate nature of the major news outlets and the decades of working the refs by Republican operatives.

I expect to see the press swooning over some staged commander codpiece moment engineered by Trump's at some point in the next 18 months.

It's the sort of bullsh%$ that the press eats up: It's easy writing for the reporter, and click bait for the publisher.