30 November 2018

Useless Sack of Sh%$ of the Day*

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, (Kos) founder and proprietor of the Daily Kos.

Ane he posted this on the day that Bernie Sanders got 63 Senators to support his proposal to stop American support for Saudi atrocities in Yemen, Kos has a hissy fit.

He's gone establishment, which means that he's gone to the side of the incompetent, expensive, and useless consultant community in DC, which means that he's a part of the problem.

It's notas bad as, for example trying to assert progressive bona fides, which is what the guy he quotes does, but it does have a general of hypocrisy and desperation about it.

As Pogo said, we have met the enemy, and he is us.


*Full disclosure, I was banned from Daily Kos, and I should have been banned for what I did (Sock puppeting) over a decade ago.

29 November 2018

Tweet of the Day


Given her justaposition of unlikability, incompetence, and complete lack of political instincts, I am not sure how Theresa May remains at 10 Downing Street.

Clearly She is a Russian Agent

2016 Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein has negotiated a settlement securing competent and transparent voting in Pennsylvania:


PA Recount Settlement a Victory for Voters Everywhere

Posted by Robert Blackmon 46pc on November 28, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2018

Contact: Dave Schwab, schwab@jill2016.com 518-610-2708



Historic PA recount settlement is a victory for voters everywhere - Jill Stein.

Today, Green Party 2016 Presidential nominee Jill Stein announced the formal settlement of her 2016 lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit called for an end to the use of paperless voting machines known to be vulnerable to hacking, tampering and error, and for the reform of unworkable recount procedures that prevent verification of the vote. The settlement guarantees that Pennsylvania will provide new voting systems using paper ballots by 2020, followed in 2022 by automatic robust audits after every election to confirm the accuracy of the vote before results are certified.

Stein declared, “This is a critical victory for everyone concerned with the integrity of our elections. We congratulate the state of Pennsylvania for raising the bar not only for Pennsylvanians, but for voters everywhere. By agreeing to end the use of paperless voting machines, Pennsylvania is not only safeguarding its citizens’ right to vote. By example, the agreement is also a big step towards the retirement of paperless voting machines that one in four voters across the nation are still required to use, despite their demonstrated vulnerability to hacking, tampering, and error. Automatic robust audits provide an essential safeguard by cross-checking paper ballots against machine totals using hand counts and the human eye to make sure every election is verified before the results are official. These two reforms are a first step to restoring confidence in our broken elections.”

Read the Settlement Agreement
Not a big fan of the Greens.

I see them as a group of rich white liberals whose primary goals is to alleviate their guilt, not changing politics of society.

That being said, they aren't Communist Russian stooges.

The Fall of Empire

For the 3rd year in a row life expectancy has fallen in the United States:
Life expectancy in the United States declined again in 2017, the government said Thursday in a bleak series of reports that showed a nation still in the grip of escalating drug and suicide crises.

The data continued the longest sustained decline in expected life span at birth in a century, an appalling performance not seen in the United States since 1915 through 1918. That four-year period included World War I and a flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in the United States and perhaps 50 million worldwide.

Public health and demographic experts reacted with alarm to the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual statistics, which are considered a reliable barometer of a society’s health. In most developed nations, life expectancy has marched steadily upward for decades.

“I think this is a very dismal picture of health in the United States,” said Joshua M. Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Life expectancy is improving in many places in the world. It shouldn’t be declining in the United States.”
The last time I've heard of something like this, it was in the USSR in the mid 1980s.

Between a bloated and corrupt financial sector, a bloated and corrupt healthcare system, and a bloated and corrupt defense establishment, (I see a theme) we have been eating our seed corn for years, and we are running out.

Not good.

28 November 2018

Who's an Antifa Icon Again?


Liberté, Egalité, Gritté!


At his day job


My favorite non political Gritty meme
It appears that the Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty has become an icon of the left:
Last week, a headline on neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer read like something from an alternate universe: “Alt-Right Icon Gritty Seeks to Follow Adolf Hitler’s Footsteps and Become Time’s 2018 Man Of The Year”. It was at least the third piece the site has posted in the last month proclaiming Gritty – the googly-eyed, giant, orange, hockey-playing monster mascot for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers – as a symbol of the far right.

As it happens, the Daily Stormer is playing catch-up, in reality trying to re-appropriate Gritty as a symbol – to take him away from their ideological opponents on the left. Because, you see, Gritty was already a partisan. Gritty, this smiling muppety nightmare on skates, is antifa.

………

When Gritty was unveiled in September, the immediate reaction was horror and revulsion (including from this very publication). But within hours, the tide began to turn, thanks largely to Gritty’s early Twitter activity – particularly when he told cross-state rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins to “Sleep with one eye open tonight, bird” – as well as his instant visual meme-ability. The gigantic face, the wide mouth set in a permanently crazed smile, and the massive swirling eyeballs made Gritty a grotesque underdog in a social media world of aesthetic perfection. He is hideous, yes, but one cannot help love him for it – recalling for many hockey fans the historically rough-and-tumble Flyers, or, for others, the city of Philadelphia itself and its famously aggressive sports fans. His entrance to the Flyers’ first home game of the season further solidified his status as a sympathetic destructive force: he came in on a wrecking ball.

Then, very quickly, Gritty’s relationship to hockey, or sports, fell by the wayside. Into the mix, another underdog cause attached itself to Gritty: the political left.

A few days after Gritty first appeared, Jacobin magazine, a socialist publication, tweeted simply: “Gritty is a worker.” Whether it was this tweet which sparked what has come since, or whether Jacobin caught on very early to Gritty’s leftist memeification is difficult to ascertain, but in the weeks since, Gritty’s image has been used by anti-fascist protesters, anti-Trump protesters, and in countless left-wing memes.
I am amused, and completely flummoxed.

Making Bernie Sanders Look George H.W. Bush

When Bernie Sanders talks socialism, Jeremy Corbyn says, "Hold my coconut water," (He doesn't drink alcohol).

Case in point, his proposal to require that company's customers and employees have a vote on executive compensation.

But wait, there's more:  He would put an end to stock options, and force companies to name their highly paid executives:
Customers of Britain’s 7,000 biggest companies would be given the right to vote on the pay of top executives under plans for a clampdown on boardroom pay being considered by Labour.

A report commissioned by Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, calls for an annual binding vote on executive packages to include all stakeholders – including employees and consumers.

Other suggestions include scrapping all forms of share options so that executives are paid only in cash, a ban on golden handshakes and punitive fines for directors of companies that persistently fail to pay the minimum wage. The report also proposes that all companies in Britain with more than 250 staff would have to reveal the names of employees paid more than £150,000 a year. [$190,000.00]

………

Party sources stressed it would be wrong to assume all the suggestions would make it into the party’s next manifesto but Long-Bailey and McDonnell are well disposed towards five key reforms proposed by Sikka:

  • That executive remuneration contracts in large companies be made publicly available
  • That executive remuneration be in cash, because rewards in share options, shares and perks invited abuses.
  • That pay differentials between executives and employees analysed by gender and ethnicity be published
  • Company law be amended to give all stakeholders the right to propose a cap on executive pay and bonus package
  • The remuneration of each executive at large companies be subject to annual binding vote by a range of stakeholders.
Stakeholders includes shareholders, long-term customers and employees.

Labour believes an attempt to curb boardroom pay is justified by the lack of restraint shown by company boards and the failure of voluntary codes to have any impact on executive remuneration. Sikka’s proposed reforms would apply to the 7,000-plus companies in the UK that have 250 or more employees, accounting for more than 10 million workers.
Good politics and better policy.

I so want Corbyn to become PM.

Unfortunately, what May hands him will be a complete sh%$ show.

27 November 2018

How Convenient

The White House is refusing to allow the only administration who heard the Khashoggi murder tapes testify before Congress.

Now we know why John Bolton refused to listen to the tapes, he can mischaracterize what happened without crossing the legal line for perjury:
The White House has denied preventing the CIA director, Gina Haspel, from briefing the Senate on the murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.

The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and the defence secretary, James Mattis, are due to give a briefing on US relations with Saudi Arabia to the entire Senate behind closed doors on Wednesday, ahead of a vote that could cut off US support for Riyadh’s military campaign in Yemen.

On a national security issue of such importance, it would be customary for a senior intelligence official to take part, Senate staffers said. On this occasion, the absence of the intelligence community is all the more glaring, as Haspel travelled to Istanbul to hear audio tapes of Khashoggi’s murder provided by Turkish intelligence, and then briefed Donald Trump.

Senior senators – including the chairman of the foreign relations committee, Bob Corker – have called for Haspel to appear, but there was no sign on Tuesday evening that she will take part.

Officials said that the decision for Haspel not to appear in front of the committee came from the White House, but the national security adviser, John Bolton, denied it. “Certainly not,” he told reporters, but left it unclear why there would be no intelligence presence.

………

Bruce Riedel, a veteran CIA official and an expert on the US-Saudi relationship at the Brookings Institution, said: “Gina [Haspel] has been the case officer on this. She traveled to Turkey and she is the one who listened to the tapes and is reported to have briefed the president multiple times.

“This is further evidence that the White House is trying to outdo the Saudis in carrying out the worst cover-up in modern history,” Riedel added.
An incompetent coverup?

Hoocoodanode?

And Mississippi is Mississippi

The Senate runoff in mississippi was tonight, and racist moonbat Cindy Hyde-Smith beat Mike Espy by about 9%.

It's a creditable performance by the former Secretary of Agriculture, he did better than Hillary Clinton in 2016, but close only matters in horse shoes and hand grenades.

This is Called Looting

GM has spent over $14 billion on stock buybacks, so now it's time for massive layoffs.

We need to call this what it is:  looting.

Stock buybacks are popular because senior executive's compensation is largely in the form of stock options, so by buying back the stock, they are taking money that should be spent on new products, new plants, and new equipment, and putting it in their own pockets.

The job cuts are popular because the leeches on Wall Street flock to stocks of companies that lay off lots of people, further lining the pockets of sociopathic executives.

It should noted that this behavior was considered illegal stock manipulation until the adoption of SEC Rule 10b-18 in 1982 under the Reagan administration.

It might have been the worst decision of the whole Reagan administration, and that's saying a lot.
“We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences,” explained GM CEO Mary Barra in perfect corporate-speak in the statement released this morning, as employees are fretting about their jobs.

The phrase, “changing market conditions,” in regular English means that sales are skidding in the US despite enormous incentives. GM’s new-vehicle deliveries in the US plunged 11% in the third quarter and are down 1.2% for the year. In Canada, GM’s sales have dropped 1.6% so far this year. GM apparently expects these “market conditions” to worsen further, and it’s getting ready for it.

So GM is going to cut 15% of its salaried workers and salaried contract workers. At the end of 2017, GM had 54,000 salaried workers in North America. Of them 52,000 are in the US.

The Vampire Squid Abides

Goldman Sachs has made the most reprehensible healthcare decision of the year, which is saying a lot, when they decided that it makes no sense to invest in cures, because if you cure someone, they won't buy any more of the drugs.

Basically, they redefined medicine as hooking patients into a lifelong pattern of drug use:
Goldman Sachs analysts attempted to address a touchy subject for biotech companies, especially those involved in the pioneering "gene therapy" treatment: cures could be bad for business in the long run.

"Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in an April 10 report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

"The potential to deliver 'one shot cures' is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies," analyst Salveen Richter wrote in the note to clients Tuesday. "While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow."
F%$# the Vampire Squid.  They, and f%$# the whole degenerate for-profit health care system needs to be dismantled root and branch.

Finally, Some Good News


Watch NASA Staff Lose their Sh%$ Completely (about 2:55)
NASA's InSight probe nailed the landing on Mars:
NASA has not botched a Mars landing since December 1999, when the Polar Lander fell silent following its powered descent to Planum Australe. Then came the successes of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, the Phoenix lander and, in 2012, the bellwether Curiosity rover, which discovered organic materials and habitable environments on Mars.

Still, NASA downplayed the chances of InSight surviving atmospheric entry, descent and landing (EDL) on the wide, flat plains of Mars’ Elysium Planitia, located 4.5 deg. N. Lat. and 135.9 deg. E. Long., about 340 mi. (550 km) away from where Curiosity is exploring Gale Crater.

With an 8.1-min. time delay for radio signals from Earth to reach Mars 91 million mi. away, flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) here had little to do but watch and wait as InSight shed its cruise stage and dived into the Martian atmosphere at 11:47 a.m. PST (2:47 p.m. EST) on Nov. 26, with the probe still traveling at more than 12,000 mph.

A tense 6.5 min. followed as InSight, built by Lockheed Martin, traveled the final 77 mi. to the surface of Mars. Its ablative heat shield, composed primarily of crushed cork, reached temperatures as high as 2,700F—hot enough to melt steel—as friction from Mars’ atmosphere bled the spacecraft of kinetic energy, gradually trimming its speed to 295 mph.

At 11:51 a.m. PST, a mortar fired to release InSight’s 39-ft.-dia. supersonic parachute, which inflated with a force of 12,500 lb./ft.2, leaving the probe free to shed its heat shield, deploy three shock-absorbing landing legs and activate a ground-facing radar system to relay altitude and descent rates to the onboard flight computer.

Finally, a dozen Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-107N retrorockets, each capable of providing 68 lb. of force, pulsed to steer InSight clear of its discarded backshell and parachute and slow its speed to 5.5 mph for a soft landing on Mars at 11:54 a.m. PST. “This never gets old,” JPL chief engineer Rob Manning said during NASA’s landing webcast.
Unfortunately, no Mohawk guy, but a good time was had by all.

26 November 2018

Why to Ignore Public Radio Pledge Time

Did you hear the bit that they did about Amazon on Morning Edition?

It was all about how Amazon's AI was ushering in some sort of shoppper's utopia, while studiously ignoring the awful record of the firm on the labor and the environment.

If they throw their lot in with Amazon because of its sponsorship money, they don't need yours.

Force the choice:
There are dozens of reports detailing how Amazon’s shipping policies negatively effects both the environment and workers, but one wouldn’t have any idea either was a concern after listening to NPR’s sexed-up report (Morning Edition, 11/21/18), “Optimized Prime: How AI and Anticipation Power Amazon’s 1-Hour Deliveries.”

The report, detailing the “Artificial Intelligence” behind Amazon’s delivery systems, relies entirely on interviews with Amazon flacks. The only people NPR speaks to are Brad Porter, the head of robotics for Amazon operations; Jenny Freshwater, director of software development; and Amazon VP Cem Sibay. No outside parties were sought for comment, let alone anyone remotely adversarial, such as labor organizers or environmental activists.

Indeed, the words “labor,” “worker” or “employee” are nowhere to be found in the six-minute report: Christmas packages simply deliver themselves with the help of brilliant Amazon execs and this mysterious AI technology. If Amazon’s marketing department wrote and produced a segment on their AI technology for NPR, it’s difficult to see how it would have been any different. Host Rachel Martin and correspondent Alina Selyukh all but literally exclaim “gee whiz”:

………

What economists? What does “latest chapter of industrialization” even mean? NPR, using Amazon’s spokespeople and paraphrasing a nebulous cohort of “economists,” recasts “criticism,” such that it is, as a generic, sanitized critique against an industry trend presumably out of Amazon‘s control, rather than directing criticism at Amazon themselves—a employer notorious for worker abuses ranging from wage theft, Orwellian working conditions, intimidation, retaliation and union-busting.

None of these widely documented concerns—all of which make cheap two-day shipping possible—were mentioned at all. Nor were the equally well-documented environmental downsides to two-day shipping, a convenience that, despite NPR’s “oh wow, how do they do that” excitement, creates tons of gratuitous, harmful carbon emissions.
Seriously: If you are a member, tell them to go Cheney themselves comes pledge time.

Sucks to be Zuck

Facebook allows you to download all your data to your computer.

Lately, there have been so many people doing this that the hardware has been overwhelmed, and so the downloads are very slow.

As near as I can figure out, the only reason to download your data is if you are planning to delete your Facebook account.
Starting in 2010, Facebook started giving users the option to download their Facebook data, the collection of posts, photos, friends and even previous locations that Facebook has collected from you over the years.

Until this spring, when Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal became public, a lot of people didn’t even know that this data download was an option. There’s probably a good reason for that: Downloading your user Facebook data is the kind of thing you might do right as you’re deleting your Facebook account altogether. Facebook even prompts users to do this on the “Permanently Delete Account” screen.

So it’s interesting, then, that there are a lot of people trying to download their data from Facebook this month. So many, in fact, that it’s causing delays on Facebook’s end as the company tries to fulfill all those data requests.

………

Not all download requests are from users preparing to delete their accounts, of course, though it’s certainly a common process. We also don’t know much about how common download requests actually are. How many people normally request their data? Is this spike in traffic rare? How does it compare to previous spikes? Facebook wouldn’t say.

The timing is interesting, though. It’s been one week since the New York Times published a bombshell report about how Facebook’s top executives handled the fallout of the 2016 presidential election, during which Russian trolls used the service to try and sow discord among voters. The NYT story led to a lot of other negative press for the company in the week since, and more calls for people to delete Facebook.
Why do I have the sense that Mark Zuckerberg right now is clenched so tight that he is mainlining fiber supplements.

Heh.

BTW, the procedure for downloading Facebook data is pretty straightforward:
  1. Go to Facebook settings.
  2. Click on your Facebook information.
  3. Click on, "Download Your Information." 
  4. Set your download settings.
  5. Click on, "Create file."
  6. Wait
  7. and wait………
  8. Download the zip file.  (mine was 13 MB after about 20 minutes)

I Think that I Saw This Dr. Who Episode


Break Out the Sonic Screwdriver
It appears that the Gell Guards have taken over the White House.

It's either that, or the person decorating the White House has the creepiest sense of style ever.

Wait ……… This just in ……… It's the creepiest sense of style ever:
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something filled with the coagulating blood of one’s enemies. The Trump household apparently wasn’t content turning the White House into a dark alternate dimension where all hope dies for just one year—this house of horrors has now become an annual holiday tradition.

The White House has shared an official look at First Lady Melania Trump’s latest holiday decor at the White House. Last year, Mrs. “Be Best” turned the hallways of the presidential residence into a living nightmare straight out of Get Out or Voldemort’s bathroom. Shadowy branches crept over the walls, reaching forth to suck out the souls of anyone who dared trespass the darkened walkway. This year, she’s changing it up a bit with some good old-fashioned blood cones.
Shudder………

When this Goes Nationwide, Look Out Below

Expanding a program already in place in New York City and Miami, the US Treasury will be requiring full purchaser information on all cash real-estate transactions.

It's called Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs), and it has been expanded to include Boston; Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle (US Treasury link).

I do not know how much real estate in these areas is criminals and despots trying to conceal their ill gotten gains, but my guess is that, at least at the high end, it is quite a lot.

Assuming that the GTO regime is relatively strict, and given the vicissitudes of the Treasury, and the fact that the current President almost certainly laundered money for Russian oligarchs, I have my doubts.

25 November 2018

The Good News is that They Just Completed the First Ever Full Audit of the Pentagon

The bad news is that they just completed the first ever full audit at the Pentagon.

The audit was, to use military jargon, a complete clusterf%$#:
The Pentagon has failed what is being called its first-ever comprehensive audit, a senior official said on Thursday, finding U.S. Defense Department accounting discrepancies that could take years to resolve.  

Results of the inspection - conducted by some 1,200 auditors and examining financial accounting on a wide range of spending including on weapons systems, military personnel and property - were expected to be completed later in the day.

“We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters, adding that the findings showed the need for greater discipline in financial matters within the Pentagon.

“It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion dollar organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial,” Shanahan added.
No, the fact that you did an audit was bureaucracy 101, and you f%$#ing failed in f%$#ing flying colors.
Shanahan said areas the Pentagon must improve upon based on the audit results include compliance with cybersecurity policies and improving inventory accuracy. In a briefing with reporters, he did not provide a figure detailing how much money was unaccounted for in the audit.

It was unclear what consequences there would be after the audit, but Shanahan said the focus would be on fixing the issues.
Translation:  How do we overpay contractors to wallpaper this over.
A 1990 federal law mandated that U.S. government agencies be audited, but the Pentagon had not faced a comprehensive audit until this one was launched in December.

Defense officials and outside experts have said it may be years before the Pentagon is able to fix its accounting gaps and errors and pass an audit.
I'm not sure how to fix the mess, but a good start is to remove the authority of the people who created the mess.

A good start would be for there to be another Truman Commission, but given the predilection of politicians these days for grandstanding, and their deep distaste for the hard work involved in real oversight, I'm not holding my breath.

An Important Phrase to Know: Stochastic Terrorism

For those of you who have never heard the termStochastic Terrorism , (See also the Wiki) it refers to terrorism that is, "Statistically predictable but individually unpredictable."

What this means is that invocations toward terrorism in the media that are calculated to create "lone wolf" actors who will then engage in terrorism to further the aims of the speaker.

When you look at people like Glenn Beck (Tides Foundation), Alex Jones (Everyone), Anwar al-Awlaki (The secular west), and Bill O'Reilly (George Tiller).

O'Reilly publicly called Tiller a, "Baby Killer," and then piously eschewed any responsibility when the doctor was assassinated.

I am far less concerned about Anwar al-Awlaki than I am the rest of them, because the right wing deliberately uses this technique to silence voices from the left.

Liberal talk radio still has yet to recover from the assassination of Alan Berg in 1984.

They do this because it works, and no one will stop them.

Where the Democrats Won't Go, but Should Go

Because going after the rampant wage theft in America today would upset their big money donors:
………

If the Democrats’ job number one heading into 2020 is to win back some of those white working-class voters who deserted them in 2016, this general problem of wage theft seems like an awfully good place to start. It affects many millions of Americans of all races and in all places. Yet I don’t hear many Democrats talk about it. No one in the broader public even knows what “wage theft” means. Somebody stole your pay packet as you walked home from work? No. It’s what employers extract from employees in not paying them what they’ve earned.

There are two notable exceptions to this silence that I’m aware of (though one is not a Democrat). Bernie Sanders has a bill that would impose a 100 percent tax on large employers for every dollar an employee needs in public assistance like food stamps; he has singled out Amazon, whose warehouses are going to be stuffed to the gills with part-timers for the next month. As is Bernie’s wont, that seems a bit grandiose, but at least he’s trying to get the issue discussed, so good on him for that. (I wonder why a lot of more main$tream Democrat$ are aver$e to $ocking it to Amazon….)

And Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who is a Democrat, has legislation that would similarly tax companies (though at a lower rate than Sanders) whose employees need public assistance and would offer some tax credits to companies that did the right thing and raised wages. So, stick and carrot, in other words. The Senate actually voted on it during the farm bill debate last June, and while it lost, it got the support of every Democrat. Note, every Democrat: Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, everyone. Democrats are and will be divided on some cultural issues, but on something like this, they can be 100 percent united.

Wages, work, and the idea that if you work full-time you deserve a decent life have to be the cornerstones of what Democrats present to people in 2020. Medicare for All and free college, which constitute most of what I’m hearing out of the newly energized left that will be seated in the next House of Representatives, are secondary. Medicare for All failed in Vermont, and free college does nothing for the 65 percent of young people who don’t go to college. But everybody (mostly) works. Everybody is entitled to a good wage. If the Democrats haven’t firmly associated themselves with these simple ideas by 2020, they have failed.
And they will embrace failure, like they always do, because too many of them and theirs secure their sinecures by sucking up to rich donors and doing their bidding.

This Business Will Get out of Control. It Will Get out of Control and We'll Be Lucky to Live through It.


A Sh%$ Mess of Planes and Guns


Geography is a Bitch
Russia and the Ukraine are having confrontations over ship transits in the black sea, which has culminated in the Russians seizing 3 Ukrainian military vessels after a ramming, and a possible exchange of gunfire.

In response, the Ukrainian President is calling for martial law:
The Ukrainian president has proposed the imposition of martial law after Russian forces shot at and seized three Ukrainian navy vessels in the Black Sea, injuring six crew members according to Kiev, in a major escalation of tensions between the two countries.

On Monday, Ukrainian MPs will vote on whether to declare nationwide martial law in response to the attack following an emergency war cabinet held by the president, Petro Poroshenko. He said that the imposition of martial law would not imply a declaration of war and was only intended for defensive purposes.

The UN security council will also hold an emergency meeting on Monday about the incident following a request from Ukraine, the US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley confirmed.

Sunday was a day of rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine, with hostilities focusing on the Kerch strait, which connects the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea. Russia has constructed a $3.69bn (£2.7bn) bridge over the strait following its occupation of Crimea to link the Russian mainland and the peninsula. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, officially opened the bridge in May.

The FSB, Russia’s principal security agency, said its patrol boats had seized three naval vessels from Ukraine and used weapons to make them stop, adding that the boats had entered its territorial waters illegally.
About the only thing that could make this worse is if the, "Very Serious People," in the US foreign policy and defense establishments, aka, "The Blog," decide that this should be a problem for them to fix.  (Which, of course, they will)

We are completely screwed.

God: 1 - Man Who Thinks that He is God: 0

Specifically, I am referring to Jeff Bezos.

It appears that Amazon has been forced into private negotiations in Minnesota, because they were f%$#ing with the state mandated prayer breaks for its Somali immigrant workers.

Normally, immigrants tend to be less demanding, and harder to organize, because they remember how things were back home, but when you try to go after their religion  ……… BOOM!!!
Soon after Hibaq Mohamed immigrated to Minneapolis from Kenya, where she had been living as a refugee, in 2016 she got a job at a new Amazon warehouse near the city. At first, she enjoyed packing boxes for delivery to consumers.

But over time, she said, Amazon required her and her co-workers to pack at a faster rate, at least 230 items an hour, up from 160. Ms. Mohamed, who is Muslim, said that Amazon let her take paid breaks to pray, as required by state law, but that her managers had told her that she still needed to keep pace.

“There is just pressure,” Ms. Mohamed, 24, said. “The people they don’t fire worry one day they will be fired.”

Ms. Mohamed and scores of East African colleagues, many of them, like her, born in Somalia, responded in an unusual way for Amazon workers: They organized to complain.

Now, tied together by a close cultural connection and empowered by a tight labor market, they appear to be the first known group in the United States to get Amazon management to negotiate.

………

Last week, Amazon offered some compromises at its facilities in the Minneapolis area. The company said it would require a general manager and a Somali-speaking manager to agree on any firings related to productivity rates, designate a manager to respond to individual complaints within five days and meet with workers quarterly.
Jeff Bezos' tears are sweet.

24 November 2018

They Define Themselves by their Hate

At the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, two women kissed, and the Talibaptists completely lost their sh%$:

Seriously.  All these folks have is hate.

I really feel sorry for them.

This was a dance number from the Broadway play, "The Prom," which is about a girl in Indiana who wasn't allowed to bring her girlfriend to the prom.

Good for the producers of that musical, and for NBC, and bad on the haters.

The haters' tears are sweet to me.

The dance number is below: (The kiss is at about 3:13_

Only In the United States


Yes, this a copy of a letter from an insurer that is asking someone to do a GoFundMe before they will approve a procedure.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is rightly horrified by this, and so should we all.

No

The New York Times, David Sanger and William Broad ask ask the following:
Saudis Want a U.S. Nuclear Deal. Can They Be Trusted Not to Build a Bomb?
No, of course not, particularly not with MBS running the show.

This has been another episode of simple answers to simple questions.

It's Genocide

There are increasing (weak tea) concerns in the west over China's treatment of its Uygur pupulation in the west of the country.

What they are not saying is that Beijing's efforts in Xinjiang are an attempt to destroy them as a distinct people, which is by any definition genocide:
Few governments send ambassadors to China to be brave about human rights. Envoys to Beijing are scholars of realism, their fine minds applied to a delicate task: managing profitable relations with a deep-pocketed, unapologetic dictatorship.

It is, therefore, a big deal that at least 14 ambassadors from Western countries, led by Canada, have come together to confront China over its mass detentions of Muslims in the far-western region of Xinjiang, most of them ethnic Uighurs. Officials say the purpose is to stamp out extremism. In a letter leaked to Reuters, a news agency, the ambassadors have asked to meet Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party’s boss in Xinjiang. A hardliner transferred from Tibet, Mr Chen oversees a gulag into which perhaps a million Uighurs have been sent for “transformation-through-education”, many for indefinite periods without trial.

Millions more endure surveillance by facial-recognition cameras, smartphone scanners and police patrols at every turn. Some must host officials as houseguests, sent to assess their loyalties. China calls these measures vital after terrorist attacks carried out in recent years by Uighur fanatics.
This is genocide.

It is a deliberate and systematic attempt to destroy the Uighurs as a people.

Let me repeat:  This is genocide.

Another Free Market Failure

Pai's FCC has doubled down on deregulation and tax cuts, and as a result investment in wireless infrastructure has declined.

It's exactly the opposite of what one would expect from the world view of the free market mousketeers, but it is exactly what you would expect if you were dealing with monopolists working to maximize their profits:


You'll recall that one of the top reasons for killing popular net neutrality rules was that it had somehow killed broadband industry investment. Of course, a wide array of publicly-available data easily disproves this claim, but that didn't stop FCC boss Ajit Pai and ISPs from repeating it (and in some cases lying before Congress about it) anyway. We were told, more times that we could count, that with net neutrality dead, sector investment would spike.

You'll be shocked to learn this purported boon in investment isn't happening.

A few weeks ago, Verizon made it clear its CAPEX would be declining, and the company's deployment would see no impact despite billions in tax cuts and regulatory favors by the Trump FCC. Trump's "tax reform" alone netted Verizon an estimated $3.5 billion to $4 billion. A recent FCC policy order, purporting to speed up 5G wireless deployment (in part by eliminating local authority over negotiations with carriers), netted Verizon another estimated $2 billion. And that's before you even get to the potential revenue boost thanks to the repeal of net neutrality and elimination of broadband privacy rules.

Ironically, Verizon's dip in CAPEX came right on the heels of the wireless industry and Ajit Pai, in perfectly coordinated unison, trying to claim that a CAPEX rise in 2017 was directly due to the repeal of net neutrality. They ignored an important point however: net neutrality wasn't even repealed until June of this year. If this endless roster of favors was to impact network investment, accelerate network deployment, and unleash a magical wave of "innovation," that should all be happening right now. And yet, the opposite is happening. And of course it's not just Verizon. AT&T and Sprint are also reducing overall CAPEX:
This is no surprise.

Monopolists spend their money extracting rents and buying politicians, not on improving their products.

Linkage


Megyn Kelly's worst nightmare:

23 November 2018

Forfeit their Assets and Throw them in Jail

It looks like the family that pushed Oxycontin on the world is looking well-deserved at civil and criminal exposure:

Members of the multibillionaire philanthropic Sackler family that owns the maker of prescription painkiller OxyContin are facing mass litigation and likely criminal investigation over the opioids crisis still ravaging America.

Some of the Sacklers wholly own Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, the company that created and sells the legal narcotic OxyContin, a drug at the center of the opioid epidemic that now kills almost 200 people a day across the US.

Suffolk county on Long Island, New York, recently sued several family members personally over the overdose deaths and painkiller addiction blighting local communities. Now lawyers warn that action will be a catalyst for hundreds of other US cities, counties and states to follow suit.

At the same time, prosecutors in Connecticut and New York are understood to be considering criminal fraud and racketeering charges against leading family members over the way OxyContin has allegedly been dangerously overprescribed and deceptively marketed to doctors and the public over the years, legal sources told the Guardian last week.

“This is essentially a crime family … drug dealers in nice suits and dresses,” said Paul Hanly, a New York city lawyer who represents Suffolk county and is also a lead attorney in a huge civil action playing out in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, involving opioid manufacturers and distributors.

………

The Sackler name is prominently attached to prestigious cultural and academic institutions that have accepted millions donated by the family in the US and the UK. It is now inscribed on a lawsuit alleging members of the family “actively participated in conspiracy and fraud to portray the prescription painkiller as non-addictive, even though they knew it was dangerously addictive”.

………

Now Hanly and other high-profile lawyers working on opioid litigation expect the family members to be sued by name as part of the multi-district litigation in Ohio. In federal court, lawsuits filed by more than 1,200 cities, counties and municipalities across the US, against Purdue and other corporate defendants, have been brought together in the hands of federal judge Dan Polster.

………

“They’ve been hiding behind a corporate structure and it’s high time they paid a price,” he said.
Yes, it's high time.

I'd like to see them sharing cells with Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, James Goreman, James Cayne, Dick Fuld, and Josef Ackermann, but my guess that all of them will stay free and rich.

Ethics, Schmethics, the Story of Facebook

It turns out that, at least until it gets press coverage, Facebook is cool with allowing a child bride to be auctioned off on its site, because they really don't give a f%$#:
Facebook failed to prevent its platform being used to auction a 16-year-old girl off for marriage in South Sudan.

Child early and forced marriage (CEFM) is the most commonly reported form of gender-based violence in South Sudan, according to a recent Plan International report on the myriad risks for adolescent girls living in the war-torn region.

Now it seems girls in that part of the world have to worry about social media too.

Vice reported on the story in detail yesterday, noting that Facebook took down the auction post but not until after the girl had already been married off — and more than two weeks after the family first announced the attention to sell the child via its platform, on October 25.

Facebook said it first learned about the auction post on November 9, after which it says it took it down within 24 hours. It’s not clear how many hours out of the 24 it took Facebook to take the decision to remove the post.

A multimillionaire businessman from South Sudan’s capital city reportedly won the auction after offering a record “price” — of 530 cows, three Land Cruiser V8 cars and $10,000 — to marry the child, Nyalong Ngong Deng Jalang.

………

The more than two-week delay between the auction post going live and the auction post being removed by Facebook raises serious questions about its claims to have made substantial investments in improving its moderation processes.

Human rights groups had directly tried to flag the post to Facebook. The auction had also reportedly attracted heavy local media attention. Yet it still failed to notice and act until weeks later — by which time it was too late because the girl had been sold and married off.
This is a feature of the monster that Mark Zuckereberg created, not a bug.

Your Mouth to God's Ear

There has been a ruling involving a small French advertising firm which could completely reshape online advertising.

Basically, the court ruled that consent to collect information could not be passed onto third parties though a contract under the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations.

If this stands, it will completely reshape internet advertising, IMNSHO for the better:
A ruling in late October against a little-known French adtech firm that popped up on the national data watchdog’s website earlier this month is causing ripples of excitement to run through privacy watchers in Europe who believe it signals the beginning of the end for creepy online ads.

The excitement is palpable.

Impressively so, given the dry CNIL decision against mobile “demand side platform” Vectaury was only published in the regulator’s native dense French legalese.
………

In plainer English, this is being interpreted by data experts as the regulator stating that consent to processing personal data cannot be gained through a framework arrangement which bundles a number of uses behind a single “I agree” button that, when clicked, passes consent to partners via a contractual relationship.

………

The firm was harvesting a bunch of personal data (including people’s location and device IDs) on its partners’ mobile users via an SDK embedded in their apps, and receiving bids for these users’ eyeballs via another standard piece of the programmatic advertising pipe — ad exchanges and supply side platforms — which also get passed personal data so they can broadcast it widely via the online ad world’s real-time bidding (RTB) system. That’s to solicit potential advertisers’ bids for the attention of the individual app user… The wider the personal data gets spread, the more potential ad bids.

That scale is how programmatic works. It also looks horrible from a GDPR “privacy by design and default” standpoint.
This cuts to the core of the current advertising model, and Google and Facebook's current dominance of online advertising.

It should get very interesting.

22 November 2018

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

I am entering a tryptophan induced coma.

Good times ..... Good times.


Posted via mobile.

21 November 2018

What it Looks Like When You Have a Petulant Child Running Your Country


The path of the proposed canal


I do not a reason for this canal beyond spite
No, this is not another Trump story, this about how Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud (MBS) is literally planning to cut Bahrain off from the rest of the Arabian peninsula:
The Saudi government appears to be close to announcing the winner of a tender to dig a canal along the border with Qatar, effectively transforming the peninsula nation into an island.

The tender process for the ambitious project to dig a 60-kilometre navigable canal closed on June 25 with Saudi media reporting at the time that the results would be announced in September.

A senior government official signalled on Friday that the final approvals for the project may be in the works.

“I am eagerly awaiting details on the implementation of the Salwa island project, a great, historic project that will change the geography of the region,” Saud Al Qahtani, a senior adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said on Twitter.
Seriously, there is no justification for this canal beyond isolating Qatar. 

A boat from Bahrain to Abu Dabi around the peninsula is 275 miles, through the canal it is over 300 miles, and the House of Saud is planning to put a nuclear waste dump on the Qatar side of the canal.

Even by the standards of the medieval and inbred descendents of Ibn Saud, this MBS is a train wreck.

Signs of an Upcoming Fiasco

As if Theresa May's truly horrible Brexit deal were not bad enough, it appears that May's weakness, even pro-Brexit forces imploding, has emboldened Spain, which is considering reasserting its claim to Gibraltar:
The Spanish government has threatened to reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal over the issue of Gibraltar, demanding that last-minute changes be made to the text ahead of a crunch summit.

The country’s foreign minister said Spain would not back the proposals at the European Council unless it received assurances that the agreement would not apply to Gibraltar.

But Downing Street said it would not exempt Gibraltar or any other British territory from the agreement – putting the two governments on a collision course ahead of the meeting this weekend.

“The negotiations between Britain and the EU have a territorial scope that does not include Gibraltar, the negotiations on the future of Gibraltar are separate discussions,” Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell said on Monday morning in Brussels.

“This is what needs to made clear, and until it is clarified in the withdrawal agreement and in the political declaration on the future relationship, we cannot give our backing.”

Spain has long resented Britain’s claims on Gibraltar, a British overseas territory that is home to around 30,000 people, and has previously threatened to use Brexit to wrest concessions on the issue.
This a sign of just how weak the British position is.

There is no good ending for this for London.

This is a Change in Rhetoric, not a Change in Policy

You have likely heard about Donald Trump's embrace of the House in response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

I believe that it is a contemptible statement, but that it does not constitute a change in policy.

The White House has had its tongue so far up the Saudi ass that it's been tasting tonsils for over 20 years.

Barack Obama is the one who initially gave the full throated support of the Saudi brutal war on Yemen.

The Bush (II) administration aggressively suppressed connections between the House of Saud and the 911 hijackers.

Clinton bent over backwards to avoid facing the fact that, as became clear after things like the Khobar Towers bombing, that the Saudi state security apparatus was hopelessly compromised.

And then there's Bush (I) who considered Prince Bandar bin Sultan to almost be a member of his family.

Trump's behavior is completely within the mainstream of the past 35+ years of American foreign policy.

The only difference is that Trump is too stupid, and too impulsive, not to lie about it.

20 November 2018

This Will Never be Adopted

Researchers have made some remarkable progress on artificial "noses" that could replace the use of dogs.

I do not believe that any element of the state security apparatus in the United States, because this is the last thing that they want.

Instead, they want Clever Hans,* which is to say an animal that they can cue in a subtle manner in order to confirm their own biases.

When a cop pulls over someone for driving while black, the last thing that he wants is a device which will provide a fair and unbiased review of the evidence, said peace officer just wants to bust an, "uppity n****r."

*Wikipedia has the skinny on the horse, "Clever Hans (in German: der Kluge Hans) was an Orlov Trotter horse that was claimed to have performed arithmetic and other intellectual tasks." The horse was actually reading the body language of his trainer without his knowledge.

How Can the Most Reviled Companies in America Maintain their Crown?

Why, by claiming that bigotry is covered by their first amendment corporate rights, of course.

Seriously, these are so toxic that Andrew Cuomo should be offering them multi-billion dollar subsidies.

Yes, I am talking about the big cable companies:
A US appeals court ruling today said that cable companies do not have a First Amendment right to discriminate against minority-run TV channels.

Charter, the second-largest US cable company after Comcast, was sued in January 2016 by Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios Networks (ESN), which alleged that Charter violated the Civil Rights Act of 1866 by refusing to carry TV channels run by the African-American-owned ESN. Allen, a comedian and producer, founded ESN in 1993 and is its CEO; the lawsuit seeks more than $10 billion in damages from Charter.

Charter argued that the case should be dismissed, claiming that the First Amendment bars such claims because cable companies are allowed "editorial discretion." But Charter's motion to dismiss the case was denied by the US District Court for the Central District of California, and the District Court's denial was upheld unanimously today by a three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

UPDATE: The appeals court also ruled against Comcast in a similar civil rights case in which ESN seeks more than $20 billion. Comcast had argued in a brief that "the First Amendment prohibits plaintiffs from suing to alter Comcast's selection of a programming lineup." But today's ruling allows ESN's lawsuit against Comcast to proceed as well.


………

Charter argued that ESN's "claim is barred by the First Amendment because laws of general applicability cannot be used 'to force cable companies to accept channels they do not wish to carry,'" the appeals court panel noted.

But while cable companies do have some First Amendment speech protections, they are not free to discriminate based on race, the panel said. Section 1981 of US law, which guarantees equal rights in making and enforcing contracts, "does not seek to regulate the content of Charter's conduct, but only the manner in which it reaches its editorial decisions—which is to say, free of discriminatory intent," the judges wrote.

"Section 1981 prohibits Charter from discriminating against networks on the basis of race," judges also wrote. "This prohibition has no connection to the viewpoint or content of any channel that Charter chooses or declines to carry."

………

The appeals court ruling summarized some of the claims made against Charter:
In addition to recounting Entertainment Studios' failed negotiations with Charter, Plaintiffs' amended complaint also included direct evidence of racial bias. In one instance, [Charter VP of programming Allan] Singer allegedly approached an African-American protest group outside Charter's headquarters, told them "to get off of welfare," and accused them of looking for a "handout." Plaintiffs asserted that, after informing Charter of these allegations, it announced that Singer was leaving the company. In another alleged instance, Entertainment Studios' owner, Allen, attempted to talk with Charter's CEO, [Tom] Rutledge, at an industry event; Rutledge refused to engage, referring to Allen as "Boy" and telling Allen that he needed to change his behavior. Plaintiffs suggested that these incidents were illustrative of Charter's institutional racism, noting also that the cable operator had historically refused to carry African-American-owned channels and, prior to its merger with Time Warner Cable, had a board of directors composed only of white men. The amended complaint further alleged that Charter's recently pronounced commitments to diversity were merely illusory efforts to placate the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
You do have to admire the cable companies' "Purity of Essence" here.

19 November 2018

Not Enough Bullets………

After running a former icon of American retail into the ground, Sears executives are seeking to secure for themselves about $25 million in bonuses, even though the company is in bankruptcy:
Sears is seeking court approval to pay executives as much as $25 million in annual bonuses while the company struggles to restructure in bankruptcy.
Three top executives could get nearly $1 million each if the company goes out of business. If Sears remains in business, they could get nearly $500,000 each for hitting the top performance targets.

Sears filed two different types of bonus plans in bankruptcy court Thursday. The first is for the top 18 "key" executives, who would collectively get as much as $2.1 million per quarter up to a maximum of $8.5 million. The bonuses would only be paid in full if Sears reaches its cash-flow targets. Sears Holdings, which includes both Sears and Kmart, has been burning through cash at a rate of about $125 million a month.


A second retention bonus plan was designed to encourage 322 other unnamed executives to stay put during Sears' reorganization. They would collectively get $16.9 million over the course of a year, which works out to an average of about $52,000 annually per executive. No executive could receive more the $150,000 in bonuses for staying with the company during the bankruptcy process.
Seriously:  These folks are all likely subject to non-compete agreements, but still they are going to get millions of dollars.

It's, "Heads I win, tails you lose," capitalism, and it needs to stop.

Another Reason to Love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

She has just announced her support for Justice Democrats, a group dedicated to primarying corporatist tools in the Democratic Party:
Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday threw her weight behind a new national campaign to mount primaries against incumbent Democrats deemed to be ideologically and demographically out of step with their districts.

The incoming star congresswoman from New York again put the Democratic establishment on notice that she and activist groups on the left aren’t content with a Democratic-controlled House: They are determined to move the party to the left.

"Long story short, I need you to run for office," Ocasio-Cortez said Saturday on a video conference call hosted by Justice Democrats, as the group launched a campaign dubbed “#OurTime.” Justice Democrats supported Ocasio-Cortez's primary campaign against powerful Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.).

"All Americans know money in politics is a huge problem, but unfortunately the way that we fix it is by demanding that our incumbents give it up or by running fierce campaigns ourselves," Ocasio-Cortez added. "That's really what we need to do to save this country. That's just what it is."

The incoming congresswoman's chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, a co-founder of Justice Democrats, was blunter.

"We need new leaders, period," he said on the call. "We gotta primary folks."

The group said it wants Democratic members of Congress to be representative of their diverse communities and support liberal policies like "Medicare for all," abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, implementing a "Green New Deal" and rejecting corporate PAC donations. On the campaign trail, Ocasio-Cortez talked about forming a "corporate-free caucus" as a means to push for reform. That type of group, if it forms, could turn out to be the left's counterpart to the Freedom Caucus, which pushed Republican leadership to the right.

“I don't think people who are taking money from oil and gas companies should be drafting climate legislation,” Ocasio-Cortez said on the call.
Good for her.

The Democratic Party establishment needs to learn to fear their base.

Right now, they just loath their base.

There's the Bad Day at the Office, the Terrible Day at the Office, the Apocalyptic Day at the Office, and then There's………

And then there is waking up in the morning, and not only do you realize that you are running the Cleveland Browns, but you discover that you have to deny that you are interviewing Condoleeza "130,000 Ton Dead Weight" Rice to be your next football coach:
Condoleezza Rice and Cleveland Browns General Manager John Dorsey shot down the day’s most surprising NFL report, that the team wanted to make the former U.S. Secretary of State and national security adviser the first woman to interview for a head coaching position.

Rice, a lifelong Browns fan, used the buzz generated by the report, from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, to call for an increase in the number of women in the coaching ranks. “I love my Browns — and I know they will hire an experienced coach to take us to the next level,” she wrote (via the Associated Press).

"On a more serious note, I do hope that the NFL will start to bring women into the coaching profession as position coaches and eventually coordinators and head coaches. One doesn’t have to play the game to understand it and motivate players. But experience counts — and it is time to develop a pool of experienced women coaches.

“BTW, I’m not ready to coach, but I would like to call a play or two next season if the Browns need ideas! And at no time will I call for a ‘prevent defense’!”

Dorsey added that Rice “has not been discussed” as a candidate to succeed Hue Jackson.
 This has to be the most thankless job on the face of the earth.

I Don't Get It

The Canadian curling gold medalist was just ejected from a competition for excessive drunkenness.

Ummmm......What could possibly posses someone do curling sober?
A Canadian curling team that includes an Olympic gold medalist was ejected from a curling event in Alberta on Sunday for being “extremely drunk,” breaking brooms and swearing.

Ryan Fry, Jamie Koe, Chris Schille and DJ Kidby were kicked out of the Red Deer Curling Classic, according to the CBC, and forfeited their final match. The event is part of the World Curling Tour.

Tweet of the Day

Linkage


Helmet cam view of a dogfight between two Viggens:

18 November 2018

Cue Upton Sinclair

One of the many insightful and evocative things that he said was, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

We see this quote made manifest with big donors deciding that they need to fund more progressive candidates even while the parasitic consultant class in Washington, DC insists on trying to deliver rich guys who stand for nothing.

I understand why: If they the only thing to recommend a candidate is his money, then he will spend a lot of money, and the consultants get paid a percentage of the media buys.

Still the fact that the rich pigs of the Democratic Party get this is significant:
As the debate rages among Democrats about how best to position the party to defeat President Trump in 2020, many big donors are signaling early support for expanding and firing up the party’s liberal base rather than backing centrist appeals targeting the Rust Belt.

Even though middle-of-the-road Democrats helped propel the party to broad gains in the House in the midterm elections this month, especially in coastal suburbs, influential donors signaled in postelection meetings that their priority would be to back progressive appeals in Sun Belt states.
Actually, if you look at the elections, the unexpected wins were overwhelmingly from people from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party, though a lot of this might be because the DCCC and DNC went out of their way to ensure that they staked out safe seats for people who stand for nothing but fund raising.
Efforts in particular to register and mobilize minority and low-income voters in the South and Southwest, they said, present greater potential return on investment for Democrats than trying to win back the white Midwestern voters who helped elect Mr. Trump.

While left-leaning Democrats fell short in some high-profile races across the South — most notably Representative Beto O’Rourke’s effort to defeat Senator Ted Cruz in Texas and Stacey Abrams’s narrow loss in her campaign to become governor of Georgia — the gains they made underscored the changing demographics of traditionally Republican states and the long-term opportunity for Democrats, the donors said.

………

That assessment aligns with the passions of the party’s increasingly powerful small-donor base, creating a potentially potent early financial foundation for prospective presidential candidates who appeal to the party’s left flank.
There really needs a return to the 50-State Strategy, which devolved authority, and money, from the party headquarters to the state and local organizations.

Everyone wins but the incompetent leeches inside the Beltway.

Tweet of the Day

I have to agree.

This is one of the greatest call signs for a pilot ever:


Needless to say, I'm sure that his wingmen are sick and tired of being called, "The Pips."

Dutch Triffids

The overuse of antibiotics by agriculture are a public health threat.

A story out of Holland shows that the aggressive use of of anti-fungals for the tulip crop has resulted in the introduction of massively resistant fungi into the environment.

We really need to be a lot more proactive in keeping human trugs out of farmer's fields in the first place.

The consequences are simply too dire.

This is Going to Become a Disaster


I propose that it be named Zeitverschwendung


France and Germany are starting to set up requirements for their next generation fighter, and it will be a complete disaster.

I know this from one data point, it's size.

The aircraft will have 2 engines in the 30,000 lb thrust class, which implies a massive, and massively expensive, aircraft.

This is the start of a cycle.

It starts with over aggressive specifications and unrealistic schedule and budget, and as the already excessive cost climbs, the program slips, and is restructured in the quest to find cost sharing partners, and finally, a fleet hobbled by inadequate numbers and excessive costs:
France and Germany’s pursuit of a next-generation combat aircraft for the 2040s may have been plagued by quarrels over workshare and export opportunities in recent weeks, but behind the scenes there appears to be agreement about the way forward.

National internal studies into the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) have concluded that advanced future threats need to be met with a system of systems that has a manned fighter at its heart, supported by and connected to legacy fighters and a family of ground- and air-launched unmanned aircraft systems-—some expendable, some recoverable, and others with very-low-observable attributes.

………

Few details have been broadcast about the NGF’s architecture, but the proposals certainly indicate a large twin-engine, low-observable platform. Studies call for the development of 30,000-lb.-class powerplants. The resulting platform is likely to be larger and heavier than the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafales it is envisaged to replace, more in the size class of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor or even the Northrop Grumman YF-23.

………

Dassault presented this tailless, twin-engine NGF design at the Euronaval defense show in Paris in October. Credit: Dassault Aviation Concepts

Some sense of scale could be drawn from the potential size of the weapons bay, which likely will be sized to fit a future French standoff nuclear weapon.

The current weapon, the ASMP, is a 5.38-m-long (17.7-ft.) ramjet-powered weapon. The French are reportedly studying hypersonic performance for the next generation, ASN4G, which likely will be a similar size.

Another consideration of scale will be France’s ambition to develop a carrier-
borne version, to replace the Rafale M deployed on its Charles de Gaulle carrier. Carrier operations will result in size and weight limitations. The naval version of the Rafale has a lower maximum takeoff weight than its land-based counterpart. However, France plans to replace the Charles de Gaulle with a new carrier, to be operational in the late 2030s, which will be developed to operate with the NGWS.
We already have the unrealistic specifications down pat.

Senator Bat Boy

The next Senator from the state of Florida will be Rick Scott, AKA "Governor Bat Boy".

This sucks like 1000 Hoovers all going at once:
Gov. Rick Scott became Florida’s next senator on Sunday, a feat delayed by a grueling 12-day recount that arrived at the same inexorable truth that emerged deep into election night: Mr. Scott, a Republican who entered the public arena only eight years ago, has become a formidable political force.

After all the vote-tallying, accusation-trading and lawsuit-filing, Mr. Scott’s Democratic opponent, Senator Bill Nelson, accepted defeat once a manual recount showed him still trailing, by 10,033 votes out of more than 8.1 million cast.

Mr. Nelson’s concession brought Florida’s turbulent midterm election to its long-awaited close after a statewide recount did nothing to alter the race’s outcome, other than narrow the margin between candidates in the profoundly divided state.
So, after buying himself the Governorship with money he got scamming Medicare, he has now bought himself a Senate seat.

 F%$#.