31 July 2016

The Politics are So Brutal Because the Stakes are So Small

Often said about academe, but also true of community theater, apparently.

30 July 2016

IMF Internal Report Says That the Screwed the Pooch in Greece

An internal report reveals that IMF staff gave engaged in favoritism toward the EU and the Euro in the handling of the ongoing Greek financial crisis:
The International Monetary Fund’s top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory.

This is the lacerating verdict of the IMF’s top watchdog on the fund’s tangled political role in the eurozone debt crisis, the most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions.

It describes a “culture of complacency”, prone to “superficial and mechanistic” analysis, and traces a shocking breakdown in the governance of the IMF, leaving it unclear who is ultimately in charge of this extremely powerful organisation.

The report by the IMF’s Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) goes above the head of the managing director, Christine Lagarde. It answers solely to the board of executive directors, and those from Asia and Latin America are clearly incensed at the way European Union insiders used the fund to rescue their own rich currency union and banking system.

………

In an astonishing admission, the report said its own investigators were unable to obtain key records or penetrate the activities of secretive "ad-hoc task forces". Mrs Lagarde herself is not accused of obstruction.

“Many documents were prepared outside the regular established channels; written documentation on some sensitive matters could not be located. The IEO in some instances has not been able to determine who made certain decisions or what information was available, nor has it been able to assess the relative roles of management and staff," it said.

The report said the whole approach to the eurozone was characterised by “groupthink” and intellectual capture. They had no fall-back plans on how to tackle a systemic crisis in the eurozone – or how to deal with the politics of a multinational currency union – because they had ruled out any possibility that it could happen.

………

This pro-EMU bias continued to corrupt their thinking for years. “The IMF remained upbeat about the soundness of the European banking system and the quality of banking supervision in euro-area countries until after the start of the global financial crisis in mid-2007. This lapse was largely due to the IMF’s readiness to take the reassurances of national and euro area authorities at face value,” it said.

………

In Greece, the IMF violated its own cardinal rule by signing off on a bailout in 2010 even though it could offer no assurance that the package would bring the country’s debts under control or clear the way for recovery, and many suspected from the start that it was doomed.

The organisation got around this by slipping through a radical change in IMF rescue policy, allowing an exemption (since abolished) if there was a risk of systemic contagion. “The board was not consulted or informed,” it said. The directors discovered the bombshell “tucked into the text” of the Greek package, but by then it was a fait accompli.

………

The injustice is that the cost of the bailouts was switched to ordinary Greek citizens – the least able to support the burden – and it was never acknowledged that the true motive of EU-IMF Troika policy was to protect monetary union. Indeed, the Greeks were repeatedly blamed for failures that stemmed from the policy itself. This unfairness – the root of so much bitterness in Greece – is finally recognised in the report.

“If preventing international contagion was an essential concern, the cost of its prevention should have been borne – at least in part – by the international community as the prime beneficiary,” it said.
So, even with institutions in the tank for the Euro, the currency continues to fail.

I still say that the solution is to get the Germans out of the Euro, sooner, rather than later.

What About the Higher Ups?

6 low level employees have been charged for allegedly falsifying reports in the Flint, Michigan lead tainted water crisis:
A special investigator for the Michigan Attorney General's office said six state employees who were criminally charged today hid and manipulated data last summer that showed a change in drinking-water sources was poisoning people here.

Liane Shekter-Smith, Adam Rosenthal and Patrick Cook worked for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; and Nancy Peeler, Corinne Miller and Robert Scott worked for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services last summer and are charged in the case filed this morning in Flint District court.

………

The Health and Human Services employees "effectively buried" research indicating high lead levels in children's blood from July through September 2014 could be connected to the switch in water sources and needed further research, Seipenko said.

The epidemiologist researching the tests wasn't yet finished with her report when Peeler and Scott "worked together to produce a graph of elevated blood levels without applying any statistical method. Peeler, relying on this unscientific graph, drafted and sent (an) unfounded email to MDHHS management (that) inappropriately concluded that the switch of water sources was not the cause of elevated blood levels within the children," Seipenko said.

Peeler was manager of the Early Childhood Health section of MDHHS, and Scott is acting coordinator and data manager for the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program at the MDHHS. Miller was director of the Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention at MDHHS, Seipenko said.


………

Smith faces charges of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. Cook is charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to engage in misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty. Rosenthal is charged with misconduct office, conspiracy to tamper with evidence or engage in misconduct in office, and tampering with evidence as a public officer engaged in a willful neglect of his duty.

Peeler, Miller and Scott are charged with misconduct in office, conspiracy to commit misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty.
These do not appear to particularly high level employees.

Ignoring these results was clearly a directive made at a more senior level, probably at the level of Governor Rick Snyder's cabinet, but I see no evidence of a higher level investigation so far.

It's pretty clear that his office had to be involved in authorizing the cover up.

I Have This Strange Urge to Be Taken into Custody in Sweden

In Sweden, a police officer was out sun bathing with friends, when she discovered that a friend's cell phone had been stolen.

She went into action in a thoroughly nontraditional uniform:
The Swedish off-duty police officer has told The Local about the story behind this viral picture [not posting it here, it's at the link] capturing the moment she wrestled a brazen criminal to the ground – while wearing a bikini.

Mikaela Kellner and her friends were sunbathing in the Rålambshov park in Stockholm when a man walked up to them pretending to sell magazines for homeless people. When he refused to take no for an answer, but instead lingered around their blankets, she started suspecting that something was wrong.

"I told my friends to keep an eye on their things. But as soon as he left one of my friends said 'where did my mobile phone go?'" Kellner told The Local on Thursday.

She explained that the man had used his magazines to cover the mobile phone, picking it up without anyone noticing when he left. Let's just say this was a decision he would soon come to regret.

"There was no time, so I ran after him, maybe 15 metres or so. One of my friends is also a police officer, so we got hold of him. He tried to get away so we held onto him harder," she said.

They called their colleagues on duty who were able to get there to arrest him.

Kellner has been a police officer for 11 years, but it is the first time she has nabbed a suspect while wearing a bikini. She said a picture she posted on Instagram quickly went viral after Aftonbladet wrote about it.
I'm kind of surprised that this hasn't hit the late night talk shows, it seems ready made for them.

29 July 2016

North Carolina Voter ID Law Struck Down

Most importantly, the court found that the law was specifically and deliberately discriminatory:
Most damming, [sic] The appeals court — citing a lower court’s findings — noted that North Carolina legislators not only sought data breaking down voting practices by race, but then crated the law’s new provisions to single out practices disproportionately popular among African Americans, like early voting and provisional ballots.
This means that the court may place the state of North Carolina under the preclearance requirement of Section 3 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  (It was Section 4(b) that was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court), because there was a finding of deliberate discrimination.

My Heart Bleeds Borscht for These Rat F%$#S

What a surprise, since the US Treasury has started to require more disclosure in cash only real estate purchases in the United States, this market has imploded.

Seriously, there is no way that everyone involved in the process didn't know that it wasn't money laundering, and as the saying goes, "You f%$# with the bull, you get the horns."

More of this:
Cash sales of homes – mostly the domain of foreign and affluent buyers – fell to 32% of total home sales in April, down 2.8 percentage points from a year ago, according to a new report from CoreLogic. For the first four months, cash sales dropped to 34%, the lowest since 2008.

In Florida, the number one destination for foreign homebuyers, cash sales accounted for 46% of sales, and in New York, for 44%, both decreasing as well. The “strong dollar” and “global uncertainty” were blamed.

In Manhattan and Miami, the luxury condo markets are already getting mauled. For example, we reported that in Manhattan, condo prices plunged 14% in just three months.

We also reported that foreign investors were pulling back, particularly Chinese investors, the most prolific of all foreign buyers. The number of homes they purchased over the 12-month period had plunged 15%.

So is it just the “strong dollar” and “global uncertainty?” Or could there be more to the story?

Today, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced that it would expand a program it had kicked off in January to identify and track secret homebuyers who hide behind shell companies.

The expanded program will “temporarily require US title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind shell companies used to pay ‘all cash’ for high-end residential real estate in six major metropolitan areas,” up from the two areas designated in January, Manhattan and Miami, among the biggest destinations of global wealth:

FinCEN remains concerned that all-cash purchases (i.e., those without bank financing) may be conducted by individuals attempting to hide their assets and identity by purchasing residential properties through limited liability companies or other opaque structures.
Real estate purchases in the US have been a perfectly good way to launder large amounts of money, no questions asked. Brokers and banks and other industry professionals have played along. Everyone in the world knew it. And they came to launder their cash.

These folks don’t mind paying a little extra. So as an industry-pleasing side effect of this influx of opaque money, luxury home prices soared, from where they trickled down to the rest of the market.
The criminal activity in the real estate market is increasingly pricing ordinary people out of homes, so it's nice that the T-men are doing this.

Economy Grew at Less Than ½ of Forecasts in Q2



Forecasts were generally at a 2.5% annual rate, and the actual rate was 1.2%:
The U.S. economy expanded less than forecast in the second quarter after a weaker start to the year than previously estimated as companies slimmed down inventories and remained wary of investing amid shaky global demand.

Gross domestic product rose at a 1.2 percent annualized rate after a 0.8 percent advance the prior quarter, Commerce Department figures showed Friday in Washington. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 2.5 percent second-quarter increase.

The report raises the risk to the outlook at a time Federal Reserve policy makers are looking for sustained improvement. While consumers were resilient last quarter, businesses were cautious -- cutting back on investment and aggressively reducing stockpiles amid weak global markets, heightened uncertainty and the lingering drag from a stronger dollar.
So it's 3 months until the general election, and the economy is slowing down.

Lovely.

Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty We Are Free at Last!

Today, the Windows 10 free upgrade offer and its associated nagware ends. I am so ready to be done with this crap:
Microsoft has offered its free upgrade to Windows 10 for one year to the day now. Although most users interested in the upgrade have probably already taken it, anyone who has been putting off the move to Windows 10 has mere hours left to install the new OS.

The free upgrade to Windows 10 officially ends July 29 11:59 PM UTC-10. That translates to 2:59 AM PDT and 5:59 AM EST July 30. According to a Microsoft representative, all upgrades must be completely finished prior to this time.
BTW, if you are interested, there are a number of law suits suits against Microflaccid's remarkably persistent and deceptive attempts to force an upgrade on unsuspecting users.

Linkage


This is f%$#ing mind boggling: (H/t Charlie for finding it)



Wow.

28 July 2016

Google™ Adsense™ F%$#s it Up Again

I don't live in Pennsylvania.

I'm well on the pink side of the Democratic Party.

And still Google™ Adsense™, somehow figures that I need to have ads from Republicans on my site.

Oh well, I suppose that it's better that they spend their money here, as opposed to somewhere useful.

My standard disclaimer on any post about the aforementioned service applies:
Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google Adsense.

So Not a Surprise

Research has found that gun fondling (the ammosexual life style) is closely associated with bigoted attitudes:
In America, support for some gun control policies, such as universal background checks, is above 90% percent, and yet mass shooting after mass shooting fails to incite action from politicians.

The popular explanation for this failure to act, so well evoked by commentators like Igor Volsky, is that the NRA has bought and paid for many politicians, who refuse to vote against their paymasters to support common sense gun control measures. And it’s true that the NRA has used its leverage and war chest to apply pressure to politicians and beat back gun control efforts

However, this NRA-centric narrative is inadequate to explain why efforts to control America’s gun violence epidemic keep failing.

Recently, we analyzed two separate data sources about Americans’ attitudes toward guns and gun control, and found that there is major, less-examined factor that influences the gun control debate: the racial identity and racial attitudes of gun owners, and those who support or oppose gun control legislation.

Put simply, America’s gun problem is a white supremacy problem in disguise.
This is not a surprise.

The modern history of gun control begins with restrictive gun legislation signed into law in California in the 1960s by Ronald Reagan.

It was in response to the open carry activism of the Black Panthers, which culminated with them walking into the state legislature packing heat.

The rather tepid Gun Control Act of 1968, followed California's law, and this, along with white panic over the perceived threat of Black radicals led to the NRA going batsh%$ insane, and now we have a significant portion of our political process driven by the paranoid ammosexual movement.

Debbie Wasserman Thrown Under Bus

Then they backed up the bus, ran her over again, then broke out the steamroller, then got some kerosene and set fire to the remains, and finally sprinkled holy water over the ashes to ensure that she would never rise again.

This Politico article is as nasty a hit job I've seen on anyone in the media,

Among other revelations:
  • Ignoring a DNC fund raising need to raise funds for her own campaign from Joe Biden.
  • She also ignored another DNC need at the same meeting to ask Biden to show up to her daughter's bat Mitzvah.
  •  Described her as, "An increasingly imperious and politically tone-deaf chair who often put her own interests ahead of party functions.."
  • Hassled Obama staffers seats at an event, allegedly for her big donors, and then gave those seats to her family.
Read the rest:  It's brutal.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz may very well be more loathed by her fellow party members than Ted Cruz is loathed by his.

I cannot help but think that they actually want her to lose the primary to Tim Canova this August.

h/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

27 July 2016

This is an Insanely Good Idea

The Labour party should set up a fund to help people on low incomes become MPs, the frontrunner for the party’s leadership has said.

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour’s members of parliament needed to be drawn from people who were facing the brunt of government policy so that they would understand what was at stake.

The diversity fund would help party members in the top 100 target seats from working class backgrounds with selection costs, which the Corbyn campaign says can amount to as much as £4,500.

“If the party is to win back the five million predominantly working-class voters lost since 1997, then we must reflect those we seek to represent. It is not enough to be for working people – we have to be of working people as well,” the candidate argued.

“Because if at the next election we as a party have hardly any candidates from the frontline of Tory cuts then it will be very hard to be heard by voters we need to win back.
I think that this should be considered in the United States as well..

Who Needs Legal Ethics?

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) are requesting that the organization's "White Shoe" law firm, Perkins Coie, be removed from the case for gross conflicts of interest:
A high profile law firm is now caught up in the DNC WikiLeaks mess. A group of Bernie Sanders supporters filed a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, and the now-former chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz. In a letter sent Monday, they are demanding that attorneys from Perkins Coie LLP be removed from the case due to a conflict of interest. New emails discovered through the WikiLeaks dump show that attorneys from the law firm have given strategy advice to hurt Sanders, well before he dropped out. To add fuel to their claim, they’ve now discovered that attorneys from Perkins Coie are representing both the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign.

………

Internal emails discovered through WikiLeaks show that Perkins Coie attorneys advised the DNC on how to fight allegations from Bernie Sanders. This spring, the Sanders campaign accused Hillary Clinton of ‘laundering’ money through the Clinton Victory Fund. Marc Elias, who serves as the Clinton campaign’s general counsel and also a partner at Perkins Coie, fired off an email to DNC staff stating:
My suggestion is that the DNC put out a statement saying that the accusations the Sanders campaign are not true. The fact that CNN notes that you aren’t getting between the two campaigns is the problem. Here, Sanders is attacking the DNC and its current practice, its past practice with the POTUS and with Sec Kerry. Just as the RNC pushes back directly on Trump over “rigged system”, the DNC should push back DIRECTLY at Sanders and say that what he is saying is false and harmful the Democratic party. [emphasis added]
………

However, attorneys for Bernie Sanders supporters contend that the federal court rules bar Perkins Coie lawyers from representing the DNC as defense counsel in the case. They say that the Perkins Coie attorneys may become “potential material witnesses” or “defendants” in the case and should be disqualified. They plan to file an official motion in court.
Seriously, what is up with this?

Some of the partners, i.e. the bosses at the firms, are working for a political campaign, and are likely to be called as witnesses, and they are still representing the DNC?

This is f%$#ed up.

Headline of the Day

Why I’m Supporting the Demonic Creature That Emerged From the Depths of Hell In This Year’s Presidential Election
Gavin Speiller
I don't need to explain this one, do I?

And No One Goes to Jail for Killing Freddie Gray


I am so voting for Marilyn Mosby next time she runs
Following repeated setbacks in court, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby dropped charges against the remaining Freddie Gray defendants:
The criminal case in the death of Freddie Gray has ended with the top prosecutor failing to convict any of the six police officers involved in the arrest last year that sparked riots in the city and fueled nationwide debate over fatal police encounters involving black men.

Facing a judge who repeatedly said there was insufficient evidence in the cases, the Baltimore state’s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, on Wednesday dropped criminal charges against three officers still awaiting trial. A judge found three other officers not guilty after separate trials in May, June and July.

After a brief court hearing, Mosby spoke in the West Baltimore neighborhood where Gray had been arrested and described her decision to drop the charges as “agonizing.”

The prosecutor conceded that Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry G. Williams “does not agree” with the state’s argument that officers committed crimes by failing to buckle Gray in the back of a police van in which he later fell and broke his neck. If the government continued with more trials, she said, prosecutors faced a “dismal likelihood of conviction.”
On the way out, she explicitly accused elements of the Baltimore PD of conspiring to sabotage the investigation, which they clearly did:
Mosby also accused police of undermining — and in some cases impeding — the investigation by refusing to serve search warrants against fellow officers and making up memos to impugn key witnesses. The city’s police commissioner issued a statement defending the integrity of the investigation, saying 30 seasoned detectives “worked the case tirelessly to uncover facts.”

Attorneys and other advocates for the officers have defended the pursuit of Gray, a frequent target of arrests who ran from a high-crime area when he saw an officer.
One of the lessons here is that you cannot allow a police department to investigate its own members ……… ever.

He's just F%$#ing with Us Now


This is an epic troll
At a press conference, Donald Trump just called for Russia to hack Hillary's emails:
Donald Trump appeared to incite Russia to hack into and publish Hillary Clinton’s private emails, as her campaign sounded “alarm” at growing evidence of a foreign power “interfering in an American election”.

………

Trump, meanwhile, speaking at a press conference in Florida, raised the stakes again, as he urged Russia to hack into and release Clinton’s emails from the personal server she used while she was secretary of state.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said.

“I think you you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next.”

The Republican nominee added: “They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted ... I hope they do ... because you’d see some beauties there.”
Trump has since stated that he was being sarcastic, which is no surprise.

Over the past week, we've seen what can only be described as a campaign of Red baiting by the Clinton campaign (seriously, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?), I would be inclined to be sarcastic as well:
Donald Trump says he was "being sarcastic" when he suggested Wednesday that Russia should find Hillary Clinton's missing emails.

"Of course I'm being sarcastic. And they don't even know frankly if it's Russia," Trump said in an interview with Fox News' Brian Kilmeade set to air in full Thursday morning.
Even by the standards of the the crazy season that is a Presidential campaign, this season is completely batsh%$ insane.

Sean Hannity: Turd of the Day

It appears that Sean Hannity went into a Wawa in Philadelphia, tried to cut in line for a sandwich, did not know how to use their ordering system, and then blamed Black Lives Matter for the fact that people did not appreciate his rudeness.

He had two bodyguards with him, which probably explains why he thought that he was safe trying to cut in a hoagie line.

Do not get in between a Philadelphian and their sammich, capiche?
Conservative radio pundit and Fox News host Sean Hannity came to Philadelphia presumably to stain the Democratic National Convention.

Instead, he seems to have disrespected the region's favorite convenience store and gratuitously insulted African-Americans, thereby staining his own reputation.

At least that's the story according to a few different sources, led by Twitter satirist E. Mo Black.

There's documented proof that Hannity was at the Wawa on Broad and Walnut streets in Center City at some point on Monday night.
Unfortunately, the man who took this picture left before Hannity allegedly lost his composure and demanded service ahead of everyone else.

That account of what happened was shared by E. Mo Black in a series of glorious tweets you can read in full here. Below is the abridged version.

The wilful display of elitist bigotry depicted here, followed by such a laudable show of nonviolent vigilante justice, is so becoming of the universe that we all sort of want it to be the truth.
Two of the tweets:




People of Philadelphia, I salute you.

26 July 2016

Yeah, Well, Whatever………

Hillary Clinton has now been officially nominated for President by the Democratic Party.

I need a drink.

Ha Ha!

Notwithstanding the fact that the his Blairite opposition has settled on a single competitor to run against Jeremy Corbyn to head labour, but the current Labour leader still has a strong majority in polls:
Jeremy Corbyn is the overwhelming favourite to win the Labour leadership contest, according to the latest Opinium/Observer poll, which shows he has more than twice the level of support among party supporters as his challenger, Owen Smith.

The online poll finds that among those who say they back Labour, 54% support Corbyn against just 22% who would prefer Smith. Some 20% say they are undecided and 4% say they do not intend to vote.

The findings offer further proof that grassroots support for Corbyn remains firm despite weeks of bitter conflict between the leader and Labour MPs at Westminster, a large majority of whom backed a vote of no confidence in him after the EU referendum.
This is not a surprise.

What is also not a surprise is that Labour is not polling well, because they managed to appear more f%$#d up than the Tories, which is no small thing, considering that they just made Boris f%$#ing Johnson their foreign minister.

The Blairites are more than willing to destroy Labour to maintain their positions within the party.

Not ISIS/ISIL/IS/Whatever

After the shootings in Munich, everyone seemed intent on claiming that it was ISIS/ISIL/IS/Whatever.

I was dubious because the shooter was of Iranian extraction, and thus probably Shia rather than Sunni, and because it was reported that he was shouting anti-Turkish slurs.

Well, police now think that was inspired by Anders Behring Breivik's shooting spree in Norway:
The 18-year-old gunman who killed nine people in Munich was obsessed with mass shootings but had no known links to the Islamic State group, German police say.

Written material on such attacks was found in his room, and Munich's police chief spoke of links to the massacre by Norway's Anders Behring Breivik.

The gunman, who had dual German-Iranian nationality, later killed himself.

His name has not been officially released but he is being named locally as David Ali Sonboly.

………

Friday evening's attack at the Olympia shopping mall also left 27 people injured, including children. Ten of them are critically ill, including a 13-year-old boy, police say.

Seven of the dead were teenagers. Three victims were from Kosovo, three from Turkey and one from Greece.

Police say the Munich-born gunman had been in psychiatric care, receiving treatment for depression.

Authorities are also checking reports that he may have been bullied by his peers, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.

………

Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae said there was an "obvious" link between the attack and Friday's fifth anniversary of Breivik's attacks in Norway, when he murdered 77 people.

The killer reportedly shouted anti-foreigner slurs during the rampage and yelled "I'm German" at one man who challenged him.

Literature about mass killings was found at his home including a German-language translation of the book Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters.

Mr De Maiziere said the suspect had researched a 2009 school shooting in Germany as well as the Breivik attack.
So it appears not to be terrorism, but what qualifies as run of the mill white male American type violence.

That last sentence is so f%$#ing depressing.

At Some Point in the Not Too Distant Future, Chris Pine Will Be the Only Actor in Hollywood



Seriously, he's in EVERYTHING these days.

25 July 2016

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? The Clinton Campaign is now Trying to Red Bait Trump?

It appears that the Clinton campaign is now trying to claim that the DNC hacked emails are a campaign by the Russian FSB to benefit Donald Trump's campaign.

The idea of casting Trump as some sort of Manchurian Muscovite Candidate is completely nonsensical, and the claims in this article has claims from anonymous experts who present no concrete proof for their accusations:
An unusual question is capturing the attention of cyberspecialists, Russia experts and Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia: Is Vladimir V. Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election?

Until Friday, that charge, with its eerie suggestion of a Kremlin conspiracy to aid Donald J. Trump, has been only whispered.

But the release on Friday of some 20,000 stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, many of them embarrassing to Democratic leaders, has intensified discussion of the role of Russian intelligence agencies in disrupting the 2016 campaign.
As an aside here, I would note that it's right for people to be shocked here, because the US never meddles in other nations elections. (And, as Sir William Schwenck Gilbert wrote, "Married men never flirt.")
The emails, released first by a supposed hacker and later by WikiLeaks, exposed the degree to which the Democratic apparatus favored Hillary Clinton over her primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and triggered the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party chairwoman, on the eve of the convention’s first day.

Proving the source of a cyberattack is notoriously difficult. But researchers have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies, which were the same attackers behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. And metadata from the released emails suggests that the documents passed through Russian computers. Though a hacker claimed responsibility for giving the emails to WikiLeaks, the same agencies are the prime suspects. Whether the thefts were ordered by Mr. Putin, or just carried out by apparatchiks who thought they might please him, is anyone’s guess.

On Sunday morning, the issue erupted, as Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, argued on ABC’s “This Week” that the emails were leaked “by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump” citing “experts” but offering no other evidence. Mr. Mook also suggested that the Russians might have good reason to support Mr. Trump: The Republican nominee indicated in an interview with The New York Times last week that he might not back NATO nations if they came under attack from Russia — unless he was first convinced that the countries had made sufficient contributions to the Atlantic alliance.
The accusations are repulsive, and they reek of desperation, and they are every bit as offensive as Donald Trump's suggestion that Ted Cruz' dad was involved in the assassination of JFK.

This is not the image that the Clinton campaign wants to promulgate.

I would also note that if the folks at the DNC were doing their job properly the emails would have been rather anodyne.

This really is the equivalent of the unmasked villain at the end of a Scooby Doo episode saying, "I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for your meddling kids."

Headline of the Day

Uber's Dud Private Dick given a Hard Time by Judge in Stiff Surge Case.

The short version is that The Register has an article about a setback that the sociopaths Uber suffered in court after the judge found their use of a private detective to dig up dirt on critics.

Another Reason to Find Tim Kaine as VP Nominee Repugnant

In addition to his support for requiring children to tell their rapist about their abortions (parental notification laws) , and his dubious record on labor (big supporter of "right to work" laws), and his ignoring his "heartfelt" opposition to the death penalty when it was politically expedient (allowed a mentally retarded black man to be executed), there is the fact that as soon as he became head of the DNC, succeeding Howard Dean, he completely dismantled the 50 state strategy that gave Democrats control of the House and Senate: (Yes, I know that this is an old article)
Barack Obama campaigned for President on the message of Change. Many changes were necessary amidst the failed policies of the Bush White House. The country was going in the wrong direction and we were in a major economic collapse. As President Barack Obama has made many changes, most for the good. One, however, was bad. He replaced Gov. Howard Dean as Chair of the DNC and appointed Tim Kaine who immediately dismissed the 183 DNC field organizers and terminated the 50 State Strategy. That concept is failing and, as a consequence, Democrats are suddenly losing elections. For four years under Howard Dean the Democratic National Committee funded a 50 state strategy which paid for DNC field organizers on the ground in every state. These organizers built local and county organizations which assisted candidates at every level. What happened and how do Democrats turn things around?
The conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton's selection of Kaine as her running mate was savvy, but the more I hear about him, the more he reveals himself to be a f%$#ing horror show.

I am so glad that I don't live in a swing state, so I can not vote for the Democratic Presidential ticket without feeling guilty.

24 July 2016

My First Reaction was to Invoke the Wizard of Oz


Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead
Debbie Wasserman Schultz has resigned as head of the DNC:
The Democratic National Committee chairwoman resigned under fire Sunday, on the eve of a national convention meant to project competence and unity in contrast to the turbulence of the Republicans’ gathering last week.

The disarray threatened to upend Hillary Clinton’s plan to paint the Democrats as the party best prepared to lead a divided and anxious country and herself as the leader who can offer an optimistic alternative to Republican Donald Trump.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was forced aside by the release of thousands of embarrassing emails among party officials that appeared to show co­ordinated efforts to help Clinton at the expense of her rivals in the Democratic primaries. That contradicted claims by the party and the Clinton campaign that the process was open and fair for her leading challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The news that the DNC was in the tank for Hillary is not really news, but the fact that we now have incontrovertible proof of it was unexpected.

She's landed on her feet though, as the Clinton campaign has announced that she, "Will serve as honorary chair of her campaign’s 50-state program to help elect Democrats around the country."

One thing that we can be certain of now is that DWS will never be the Speaker of the House.

I rather hope that this makes it more likely that Tim Canova defeats her in the primary.

23 July 2016

Pelosi Comes Out Against TPP

I am inclined to believe that this not a change of heart, but rather political realities forcing her to do the right thing:
Today, EFF joined a broad coalition of other public interest groups at Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's office in San Francisco, to present her with a petition carrying an incredible 209,419 signatures with a request to oppose the introduction of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the post-election "lame duck" session of Congress. And with your help, we succeeded! In a letter that she handed us at our meeting, Leader Pelosi wrote:
As Congress and the American people review the finalized terms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), we must put American workers first to allow our economy to grow and America to succeed. Please be assured that I will oppose the TPP as it is currently written or any deal that attempts to separate commerce from the environment and will work to ensure that our nation's trade policies include increased transparency, more consultation, and stronger protections to create jobs, strengthen human rights, and preserve the environment.
Yes, I am rather cynical about this.

Least Surprising News out of the Republican National Convention

It turns out that the RNC was a bonanza for male prostitutes:
It’s been a great week for gay escorts in Cleveland.

Male prostitutes contacted by The Post said business is booming and Republican National Convention attendees — most of them married — are clamoring for their services.

“Business has been way better. I’ve seen 10 clients so far,” one male escort said.

“Most of them were first-timers. You could tell they were nervous, but once they became more comfortable, they seemed to be having a good time.”

Another escort said he had already earned $1,600 since Monday — over six times the amount he usually makes.

………

One gigolo who charges $250 an hour said he’s been making about $800 per day since the convention kicked off — all from men visiting from Florida, Louisiana and Washington, DC.

“Usually I need to go out of town,” he said with a chuckle.

Most men paid to have sex, but one client requested to “do his business in the corner” while watching his wife in bed with the escort.

………

“The Republicans have a lot of delegates in the closet, let’s put it that way.”
Party of family values my ass.

H/t Joe.My.God.

More of This

I support Black Lives Matter and related groups, but this does not mean that I necessarily approve of some of their tactics.

That being said, I wholeheartedly approve of BLM activists blockading the Chicago Police's secret torture site:
Activists on Wednesday night marched in North Lawndale and also blocked the entrance to the Chicago Police Department’s notorious Homan Square site.

The Homan Square building has been a source of controversy ever since the Guardian exposed the “off-the-books interrogation compound” in February of 2015. The profile documents claims that detainees were routinely kept from contacting family or legal representation.

The protest was organized by the Let Us Breathe Collective and Black Youth Project 100 to demand a transition in how tax dollars are allocated, namely an “investment into new alternatives to keep Black communities safe and a divestment from police and legislative systems that are violent towards Black communities,” according to a statement.

Activists used chains, tubes, bike locks and ladders to bind themselves together, blocking the entrance path. Other nearby protesters set up tents and a “Free Store” that offered provisions.
 Well done.

What a Surprise, Obama Lied

When Obama said that if the UK approved a Brexit it would move to the back of the queue for negotiation trade deals, he was lying:
The US is hoping that a quick trade and investment deal with the UK after it leaves the EU could kickstart the stalled negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which has met increasing resistance on the continent.

As well as serving the US's purposes, such an agreement would be welcomed by the UK government as proof that it can recreate the necessary web of trade links post-Brexit.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has just spent two days in the UK talking with the prime minister's officials and with the new foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, exploring what form such a UK-US trade deal might take.

As The Guardian explains: "The UK cannot formally sign any trade deals with other countries or trading blocs until it has left the EU, but it appears to be accepted that negotiations on the outline shape of such deals can start before that happens."
As an aside, it appears that chief among US goals is to make current and future steps toward privatization of the British NHS irreversible:
One of the issues raised by those advocating leaving the EU was that remaining a member state would see the UK obliged to sign up to a TTIP deal that included ISDS. The fear was that ISDS would make re-nationalising privatised NHS services prohibitively expensive if US companies were involved. In theory, the latter might try to use the ISDS provisions in TTIP to claim that their future profits had been "expropriated" by nationalisation, and to demand compensation.

However, the UK could now sign up to a US investment treaty with significantly fewer protections than those offered by TTIP's ICS system, which is what the EU is still pushing for. Instead of Brexit helping to protect the NHS, it may end up bringing in a system that protects it less than if the UK had stayed in the EU.
This would be a very bad thing.

Hoo Boy!

Wikileaks has released thousands of internal Democratic National Committee emails, revealing that the organization was aggressively in the tank for Hillary Clinton. (Big surprise, though it is a violation of its organization charter)
These included discussions of using Sanders religion against him, which kind of surprised me, because it's "our side" that is doing it:
As Hillary Clinton prepared to announce her 2016 running mate, a trove of nearly 20,000 emails were released by WikiLeaks on Friday, providing an embarrassing inside look at Democratic Party operations on the eve of the Democrats' national convention.

The emails from the Democratic National Committee include discussions of Clinton's chief rival for the presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.); details of perks provided to party donors attending the convention; and email exchanges between party officials, journalists and others.

The emails were released with an announcement by WikiLeaks on Twitter that linked readers to a WikiLeaks page inviting visitors to "Search the DNC email database." A search box sits underneath a one-paragraph introduction:

………

Friday's digital document dump follows a report last month by The Washington Post that Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee, gaining access to an entire database of opposition research. DNC and Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment Friday as reporters and campaign staff began to assess the situation.


One email written May 5 to DNC communications director Luis Miranda from another party official suggests looking at Bernie Sanders' faith.

"It might may [sic] no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief," the email from "marshall@dnc.org" says. "Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist."
At the very least the author of the letter, DNC CFO Brad Marshall, the author of this email, should be fired, but I do not expect this to happen, since he is clearly a FoH. (Friend of Hillary)

Of further interest is that the emails contain information that Hillary Clinton's "Fund Raising" for the state party was actually laundered back into her campaign:
………

Other emails show DNC staff in damage control over allegations from the Sanders campaign, when a report—corroborated by a Politico—revealed the DNC’s joint fundraising committee with the Clinton campaign was laundering money to the Clinton campaign instead of fundraising for down-ticket Democrats.………
Between this and the choice of the pro-TPP, pro-abstinence education, pro-parental notification laws Tim Kaine as her VP pick, I think that a lot of the folks from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party are, to quote the Dixie Chicks, "Not ready to make nice."

22 July 2016

Kaine? Seriously?

Hillary's choice of Tim Kaine as her running mate has confirmed that her opposition to the TPP was pure puffery.

Kaine is one of the staunchest supporters of the TPP in the Senate.

No big surprise actually.

In addition to everything else, it serves as some hippie punching which is so favored by the Democratic establishment.

I am so glad that I live in Maryland, where my Presidential vote does not matter.

Microflaccid Screws the Pooch

A court in France has ruled that Windows 10 illegally invades user privacy, as well as being too insecure:
A French regulator has issued Microsoft a formal warning over Windows 10, saying the operating system collects excessive amounts of personal data, ships that information illegally out of the EU, and has lousy security.

The warning comes from the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), an independent data privacy watchdog with the power to levy fines against companies. The CNIL has been investigating Windows 10 since its launch and has now drawn up a damning list of criticisms.

"The CNIL has decided to issue a formal notice to Microsoft Corporation to comply with the Act within three months," said the group on Wednesday.

………

Chief among the regulator's concerns is the amount of information Windows 10 slurps up about its users and sends back to Microsoft's servers. While all recent flavors of Windows send some information back to Redmond, Windows 10 harvests much more and the CNIL considers this intrusive and also not needed to run the OS.

It could also be breaking the law. The collapse of the Safe Harbor agreement last year didn't stop this flow of data from French users back to the US, and the CNIL is concerned that Microsoft made no attempt to comply with the law. The watchdog estimates that there are at least 10 million Windows users in the Euro nation.
This in addition to buying Nokia's cell phone business, where they wrote down over 7 billion dollars , and then they sold off the Nokia brand.

And then there is the whole ribbon thing in the more recent versions of Office.

Why is this company still a going concern?

NBA Does the Right Thing

I'm rather shocked that the NBA is pulling the 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte because of North Carolina's anti-gay law.

I don't expect sports leagues to do the right thing, so I am pleasantly surprised:
The NBA announced Thursday it will move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte due to North Carolina’s law that bars local governments from extending civil rights protections to gay and transgender people.

“The NBA has decided to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte with the hope of rescheduling for 2019,” the league said in a statement.

“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2,” as the law is commonly known.

21 July 2016

I'm Doing a Happy Dance Here

Roger Ailes has left the building:
In the dark for days, Fox News staffers finally got word on Thursday about the future of their network.

The news was delivered in person by Rupert Murdoch, the 85-year-old media mogul who started Fox News with Roger Ailes 20 years ago.

It was an unexpected visit, and with stunned employees listening in Fox’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters, Mr. Murdoch announced that Mr. Ailes was out as chairman and chief executive. Mr. Murdoch himself would be taking over Fox News in the interim.

Mr. Ailes was not there. Mr. Murdoch had barred him from the building starting on Wednesday, according to one person briefed on the matter. The person said Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, had learned Mr. Ailes was trying to get some of his on-air stars to criticize those who cooperated with investigators looking into accusations of sexual harassment against him.

………

Mr. Murdoch will assume the role of chairman and will be an interim chief executive of the Fox News channel and Fox Business Network until a permanent replacement for Mr. Ailes is found. His interim role is intended to ensure stability during the rest of the presidential race, and to be taken as a signal that the network is not on the verge of a wide-ranging overhaul, said a person briefed on the matter. Mr. Murdoch plans to be “extremely engaged” and had already been attending some news meetings because Mr. Ailes has had health issues recently, the person said.
I think that a lot of this is also driven by the fact that Fox News has horrible demographics, the average age of a viewer is 68, which means that the audience is literally dying off.

To change this, the network needs an extensive rework, and Ailes was clearly not the man for the job.

My guess is that they will stick with the current format and lineup through the elections, and then they start rearranging the deck chairs.

From the Department of about F%$#Ing Time………

It appears that we might finally be seeing the end of Robert Mugabe.  His most consistent power base, the "War Veterans" are calling for his ouster:
Zimbabwe's war veterans association, which has played a key and sometimes violent role in supporting President Robert Mugabe, has released a statement withdrawing its backing for him.

It accuses Mr Mugabe of dictatorial tendencies, egocentrism and misrule.

………

BBC World Service Africa editor James Copnall says that even in the most difficult moments of his 36 years in power, Mr Mugabe could always rely on the war veterans - his former comrades in Zimbabwe's liberation struggle in the 1970s.

They were loyal supporters who sometimes provided him the muscle for political violence, our correspondent adds, so this development will be quite a blow.

"We note, with concern, shock and dismay, the systematic entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies, personified by the president and his cohorts, which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle," warned the statement released on Thursday after a meeting of representatives from across the country.

Sources told the BBC Zimbabwe analyst Lewis Machipisa that the statement reflected not only the views of some war veterans, but also senior military figures. Mr Mugabe relies heavily on the military to remain in power.
I followed the state of affairs in Zimbabwe for a couple of years, and then gave up.

I figured that nothing would ever change, particularly with the explicit support of the surrounding regimes.

I hope that we are seeing a change for the better in Zimbabwe.

We've Known This for Thirty Years

Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense shield continues to reveal itself to be an expensive mirage:
The system designed to defend American cities and towns against a nuclear attack by North Korea is “simply unable to protect the U.S. public” and will remain ineffective unless Congress exerts rigorous oversight, according to a new report.

The report, to be released Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, recommends that the Obama administration halt the expansion of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, known as GMD, until its technical problems have been solved.

“The story of this system is a cautionary tale about how the lack of appropriate oversight of a politically charged missile defense program has led to a system in tatters,” said the report, written by three physicists with expertise in missile defense.

“Despite more than a decade of development and a bill of $40 billion, the GMD system is simply unable to protect the U.S. public,’’ the authors wrote.

………

The report notes that in “heavily scripted” flight tests that are “set up for success,” GMD interceptors have often failed to hit mock enemy warheads. In the seven most recent tests, interceptors destroyed their targets just three times, the report says -- a finding consistent with conclusions of the Pentagon’s operational test and evaluation office.

………

The report said members of Congress and Pentagon officials insisted on deploying and expanding the system at a rapid pace—at the expense of sound procurement and engineering.

“Repeatedly,” the report said, “the Pentagon has sacrificed quality, shortened engineering cycles and sidestepped acquisitions best practices to meet a deadline imposed by political rationales rather than technical realities.”

………

The physicists write that “the continued development of the GMD system without adequate oversight and accountability, and the continued fielding of interceptors without adequate testing, means the system is not even on a path to achieving a useful ability to intercept ballistic missiles.”
As if the F-35 weren't proof enough, it's clear that our defense industry  is completely dysfunctional.

Wisconsin Voter ID Law Gets Spanked in Federal Court

Yesterday, the 5th circuit gave the state of Texas a wedgie over its racially discriminatory voter ID law, and now Wisconsin just got spanked over its voter ID law:
Wisconsin voters who do not have photo identification will be able to vote in November's presidential election, a judge ruled on Tuesday, the latest development in a long fight over a state law Democrats say is aimed at keeping minorities from the polls.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman temporarily eases the impact of a 2011 Wisconsin law requiring voters to show photo identification before being allowed to cast a ballot.

"Although most voters in Wisconsin either possess qualifying ID or can easily obtain one, a safety net is needed for those voters who cannot obtain qualifying ID with reasonable effort," Adelman said in his order.

………

Republicans say voter ID laws are needed to prevent voter fraud. But Democrats say the laws are really intended to make it more difficult for poor African-Americans and Latinos - who skew Democratic in their politics - to vote.

Under Adelman's temporary injunction, people without ID can vote if they sign an affidavit at the polls declaring that they could not reasonably obtain photo identification and explaining why.

Allowable reasons include lack of a birth certificate or other documents required to obtain a photo ID, lack of transportation, disability and a tight work schedule.
I think that we are seeing this because Scalia is no longer.

Judges don't like having their decisions overturned by a higher court, and now that there is one fewer minority and civil rights hostile reactionary on the Supreme Court, the lower courts are more willing to enforce the clear meaning of the Voting Rights Act.

The Oracle of Delphi Has Nothing on The Onion


The Onion:  Nostra-Dumb-Ass
In November 2012, The Onion suggested that a Shrieking White-Hot Sphere Of Pure Rage would be the favored Republican nominee in 2016:
Sources say the screaming orb might be the only potential candidate that would tap into Republicans' deep-seated, seething fury after this election.
Look at the video.  The Shrieking White-Hot Sphere Of Pure Rage is indistinguishable from Donald Trump.

The Onion is not staffed by comedians, it is staffed by psychics.

20 July 2016

This Means More Slavering War Monger

There are reports Hillary Clinton is looking for extensive "national security" experience in her VP pick.

A quick translation from beltway bullsh%$ is that she is looking for someone who is thoroughly inculcated in the solipsistic dysfunction that qualifies as conventional political wisdom in the nation's capital, which means that unthinking support for self-destructive wars and an unrestrained military-industrial complex:
Facing a fall contest against a Republican opponent focused on law and order, Hillary Clinton has narrowed her search for a vice-presidential candidate, telling several potential running mates that she needs a No. 2 who would bring national security experience to the Democratic ticket.

Mrs. Clinton’s shortlist includes James G. Stavridis, a retired four-star Navy admiral who served as the 16th supreme allied commander of NATO, and Senator Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

She is widely expected to present her choice at a rally in Miami on Saturday, according to people involved with the planning who discussed private conversations on the condition of anonymity.
If this report is true, it's a tell:  Hillary is looking to engage in an even more extensive program of wasting American blood and treasure in foreign lands.

I'm so glad that I live in Maryland, so my vote does not matter, and I do not have to vote for her.

I Did Not Expect This

The Republicans have called for reinstating the Glass Steagall law separating commercial and investment banking:
Both major political parties are now calling for an overhaul of the financial industry through the return of Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era banking law.

Paul Manafort, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign manager, told reporters gathered in Cleveland Monday that the GOP platform would include language advocating for a return of that law, which was repealed under President Bill Clinton.

“We also call for a reintroduction of Glass-Steagall, which created barriers between what big banks can do,” he said.

Including that language in the GOP platform comes shortly after Democrats agreed to similar language in their own, calling for an “updated and modernized version” of the law.

A party platform is not binding but is thought to reflect the values of the party. And the GOP platform has not yet been officially released, although the convention is expected to approve it later Monday.

Nonetheless, the embrace of Glass-Steagall by both parties is a telling indication of how unpopular Wall Street remains with the public, years after the financial crisis.
The devil, of course, is in the details, and on both sides of the aisle, any "updated and modernized" version of the law will almost certainly be riddled with loopholes and hence meaningless, but it is surprising that this ended up a part of the Republican platform.

Wikileaks Releases 300K Emails from Turkish AKP

There have not been any bombshells discovered (yet), but the release of a year's worth of emails from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP party should prove to be rather interesting:
Over the weekend, the Internet may have saved the regime of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as protestors organized online to fight a military coup, and Erdogan himself addressed the nation via Apple’s Facetime video-calling app. Today, however, Erdogan may remember that he doesn’t particularly like the Internet, after all—as hundreds of thousands of his ruling party’s alleged private correspondences spills onto the web.

On Tuesday, WikiLeaks published what it’s calling the Erdoğan Emails, a searchable collection of 294,548 emails it says are leaked from the AKP, Turkey’s ruling political party, and the organization president Erdoğan led before he was elected president. Turkish citizens and the world community are still struggling to understand the context of Turkey’s coup and the crackdown that’s followed, all of which could make this alleged Erdoğan leak more significant than the secret-spilling group’s average data dump. However, at the time of writing, it’s not at all clear yet what exactly the Turkish-language megaleak contains, or if the emails are what Wikileaks claims they are.

“The material was obtained a week before the attempted coup. However, WikiLeaks has moved forward its publication schedule in response to the government’s post-coup purges,” reads a note posted with the release on WikiLeaks’ site. “We have verified the material and the source, who is not connected, in any way, to the elements behind the attempted coup, or to a rival political party or state.”
I did a quick search of the data (for Bilal, Erdoğan's remarkably corrupt son), so the search works, but given my complete lack of understanding of the Turkish language, it proved of little use to me.

Hopefully someone in the expat community (Turkey is blocking access to the site) will do a deep dive.

I So Hope that DWS Loses the Primary

We now have reports that Bernie Sanders will cmapaign against Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in the upcoming Congressional primary:
In an interview with USA Today, Bernie Sanders announced plans for the Sanders Institute and other educational and political organizations to continue the revolution his campaign spawned.

Sanders will also be campaigning for at least 100 progressives around the country—including democrat Tim Canova, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s primary congressional challenger.

………

With Sanders’ endorsement for Clinton behind him, his next steps leading up to the Democratic National Convention are to maintain a progressive presence within the party. As Wasserman Schultz was spared in negotiations for Sanders’ endorsement, the next best way to maintain a progressive presence is by ensuring she loses her reelection bid to a more progressive alternative like Tim Canova.

Canova has already raised over $2 million in his congressional race against Wasserman Schultz, in large part thanks to contributions from disenfranchised Sanders supporters. His momentum has received backlash from Democrats keen on keeping Wasserman Schultz in Congress.

………

Even though Wasserman Schultz’s Democratic primary is just around the corner—on August 30—she has consistently refused to debate Canova, and has limited her exposure as DNC chair. While Wasserman Schultz has avoided the public eye, Canova has exposed a litany of her policy shortfalls among progressives. The Miami Herald reported that Wasserman Schultz broke down in tears after the Florida AFL-CIO declined to endorse her, due to her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement—which Canova staunchly opposes.
Gee. She has a sad, because a labor union declined to endorse her because she has proved herself implacably hostile to the needs and desires of that union.

This is how politics is supposed to work.
Canova’s support for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau guidelines pushed Wasserman Schultz to flip-flop in her support for payday lenders. He also recently challenged Wasserman Schultz’s vote in favor of the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act, which allows pension and benefit cuts to 400,000 American workers—many of them teamsters and union members.
Gee, supporting loan sharks, the TPP, and gutting union pensions?  I can't imagine why, "the Florida AFL-CIO declined to endorse her."

I so hope she is sent packing in the primary.

I Did Not Expect This from This Circuit

The full court of appeals for the 5th circuit just suspended most of Texas' voter suppression law:
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Texas’s strict voter-ID law discriminates against minority voters, and it ordered a lower court to come up with a fix for the law in time for the November elections.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, one of the most conservative in the country, declined to strike down the law completely but said provisions must be made to allow those who lack the specific ID the law requires to be able to cast a vote.

Nine of the 15 appellate judges who heard the case generally upheld a district court’s finding that 600,000 people, disproportionately minorities, lack the specific kind of identification required — a driver’s license, military ID, passport or weapons permit, among them — and that it would be difficult for many to secure it.

African American, Hispanic and poor voters were most likely to be affected, the court found.

………

“It would be untenable to permit a law with a discriminatory effect to remain in operation” for the coming election, wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Catharina Haynes for the majority, made of up five judges nominated by Democratic presidents and four nominated by Republicans.
This is good news and responsible Jurisprudence.

You don't generally get that from the 5th circuit, which can give the late Antonin Scalia a run for his money on bile inspired craziness.

Truth be told, the dissent took it to a level that would have made "Fat Tony" feel inadequate:
“By keeping this latter claim alive, the majority fans the flames of perniciously irresponsible racial name-calling,” wrote Judge Edith J. Jones. She compared the majority with “Area 51 alien enthusiasts who, lacking any real evidence, espied a vast but clandestine government conspiracy to conceal the ‘truth.’”
I could make a statement about her choking on her own bile, but ……… Hell, she is showing signs of spiritual bile toxicity.  It's undeniable.

19 July 2016

Speaking of Paranoid Megalomaniacs in Turkey

It's been three days since the coup attempt, and Erdogon is using it as an excuse to destroy the civil service and make it another one of his private fiefdoms:
Turkey’s post-coup crackdown took a more sinister turn on Tuesday after tens of thousands of teachers were fired and all the country’s university deans were told they faced suspension.

The licences of 21,000 staff working in private schools were revoked, more than 15,000 employees at the education ministry were sacked, and the state-run higher education council demanded the resignation of 1,577 university deans.

The purge is part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s heavy-handed attempt to root out supporters of Fethullah Gülen, the US-based cleric accused of orchestrating the failed revolt, whose movement is accused of infiltrating state institutions.

………

The suspensions followed Monday’s purge targeting other ministries and state institutions.
The employees include 9,000 police, 2,745 judges, 8,777 from the interior ministry 1,500 from the finance ministry, 257 staff working at the prime minister’s office, at least 100 from the National Intelligence Agency MIT, 399 from the family and social affairs ministry and 492 from the religious affairs ministry.

………

There was speculation that Mr Erdogan might try to put in place a state of emergency so as to take full control of all state institutions.
It's pretty clear that they had a list of people to purge long before the attempted coup was set in motion.

This is not going to end well.

Well, this is Reassuring

Did you know that there is a bunker at Incirlik air base that contains dozens of nuclear weapons?

With the attempted coup and other recent developments in Turkey, this fills me with a sense of dread:
The U.S. and NATO face serious questions about the wisdom of stationing nuclear weapons in Turkey after commanders at Incirlik air base, which houses potentially as many as 50 B61 thermonuclear weapons, were implicated in the attempted overthrow of President Recep Erdogan.

………

Incirlik is located outside of Adana in southern Turkey, just 100 nm from the so-called Islamic State terrorist group’s headquarters in Aleppo, Syria. Since Turkey agreed to allow counter-Islamic State air operations from the base one year ago, it has become an epicenter for attacking ground targets within Syria.

Now, as Erdogan “purges” his military and police ranks of opposition elements, and as the commander of Incirlik is arrested and replaced, how does America reconcile the fact that a longstanding NATO ally lost control of its military with U.S.-owned nuclear weapons in the mix?

“I can’t remember another time when a base where the U.S. has nuclear weapons was directly involved in a coup, and also where the host government cut off the ability to operate in and out of the base,” says Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists. “The physical protection of the weapons is not the issue because they have their own security unit and backup power, but it’s a precarious situation that requires the U.S. to rethink why it has nuclear weapons in Turkey. The situation is so unique, and it’s evolving so rapidly that this is just not a place you want to have nuclear weapons deployed.”
As an FYI, the B-61 is a "dial bomb", and it's yield can vary from 0.3 to 360 kilotons.

And it's in a country that just had a violent attempted coup which is run by a paranoid megalomaniac who has been given carte blanch by the attempted coup.

Pleasant dreams.