21 January 2020


I love the way that this scene is composed. It's like a Utagawa Hiroshige print:

20 January 2020

Gee, You Think?

I will note that stating the blatantly obvious is probably as good as a Washington Post will get so long as Fred Hiatt is running the show on that department, but when an Op/Ed is titled, "The Tacit Alliance of Militia Members and Border Patrol Agents Is Getting out of Control," you are pretty firmly into, "Well, Duh!" territory, particularly when you scrupulously ignore that the behavior of Customs and Border Patrol is the product of s deeply racist and abusive culture:
The leader of the militia group United Constitutional Patriots was arrested April 20 by the FBI on a federal weapons charge. As The Post reported, “The United Constitutional Patriots came to public attention this month after the emergence of videos that showed men stopping and detaining people crossing the border.” The videos included two that, CNN reported, appeared to feature a UCP member impersonating a Border Patrol agent. Another video showed armed men in military-style uniforms detaining dozens of migrants. “Customs and Border Protection agents arrive and collect migrants but do not ask the group with guns to disperse or take their weapons elsewhere,” The Post reported.

Vigilantism is always a threat to democracy, but the militia videos are especially troubling because of the appearance that civilians were masquerading as law enforcement officials — in at least one, according to The Post, members could be heard shouting “Policia, alto!” or “Police, stop!” — and because federal agents encountered the vigilantes without confronting them.
The null hypothesis is that CBP is actively partnering with civilian racist thugs because  ……… wait for it ……… CBP is run by and for racist thugs.

Maybe mentioning that the CBP is a corrupt and bigoted organization would help create a greater understanding the whole situation.

Our Friends in Riyadh

The FBI believes the Saudi Arabian government “almost certainly” helps its citizens flee the country after they are accused of serious crimes, “undermining the US judicial process,” according to a newly declassified document obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

The surreptitious action is done, in part, to spare the wealthy Persian Gulf kingdom embarrassment, the FBI said. Intelligence officials believe the flights from justice will continue without intervention by the American authorities.

Saudi officials “are unlikely to alter this practice in the near term unless the US Government directly addresses this issue with (Saudi Arabia) and ties US cooperation on (Saudi) priorities to ceasing this activity," according to the FBI.

The details are contained in an intelligence bulletin dated Aug. 29. The FBI released the document Friday as part of a recent law pushed by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and signed by President Donald Trump last month that requires the FBI to publicly disclose what it knows about the Saudi government’s suspected role in helping its citizens avoid prosecution in the U.S.

The eight-page bulletin is heavily redacted and does not specify what the Saudi officials may have done, nor does it contain information about the size and scope of the practice.

But the document provides the first public acknowledgement by federal officials about the role Saudi operatives have likely played in the disappearance of numerous citizens who have gotten into legal trouble while in the U.S.


The revelation comes a year after an investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive found multiple cases where Saudi students studying throughout the U.S. vanished while facing manslaughter, sex crimes and other felony charges, with the suspected assistance of their government. The cases occurred under several U.S. administrations.

The news organization revealed criminal cases involving at least seven Saudi nationals who disappeared from Oregon before they faced trial or completed their jail sentences on charges ranging from rape to manslaughter, including those who had surrendered their passports to authorities.
I'm generally not a fan of remand without bail, but it appears that to be a subject of the House of Saud accused of a serious crime, they are by definition a flight risk.

Tweet of the Day

Particularly since today is the MLK holiday:

This is the best comment I've seen about the FBI's statement about Martin Luther King today ignoring the fact that J. Edgar Hoover had a literally murderous vendetta against him.

19 January 2020

A New Frontier in Editorial Incoherence

The New York Times editorial board REALLY wanted to endorse Amy Klobuchar, despite the fact that she has never been able to break 3%.

My theory is that they are impressed that she is a complete and utter turd to her staff, and they want a kiss-up/kick-down kind of person.

So, instead, they endorsed both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, to avoid mockery. (No link, they don't deserve my minuscule traffic)

If you find the OP/ED, it's just a Google away, you will note that their endorsement of Warren is an exercise in negging. ("Gifted Storyteller", etc.)

The editorial board of the Times is more than comfortable with the status quo, which does pretty well for people like them, so they want more of the same, just without Trump.

Had to Change My Wife's Tire

It was as uneventful as a tire change on a road with a minimal shoulder.

Unfortunately, my huffing and puffing for about a half an hour in 31° (F) weather has left me with a runny nose and a headache.  (I am currently hydrating)

18 January 2020

Snark of the Day

Crackpot conspiracy theories get easy traction on the internet, [but] they’re less likely to do well in federal court.
John Schindler, former NSA analyst, of the former NSC Chairman Michael Flynn's defense team's descent into tin foil hat territory.
It's not surprising that his defense as gone nuts.  They caught it from their client.

Clearly, We are Preparing to Invade Endor

This would explain why the newly constituted US Space Force will have a camouflage uniform.

The alternative, that they have discovered space jungles, is too absurd to consider.

Needless to say, Twitter is going insane over this:
The U.S. Space Force on Friday offered a first look at its utility uniforms with its service name tape, unleashing a torrent of mockery over the decision to use a camouflage pattern for a military branch associated with the dark endlessness of the universe.

“Space Force” soon began trending on Twitter — mostly not because of excitement about the uniform.

“Smart call on the Space Force camouflage,” one Twitter user wrote. “Never know when you’re gonna have to blend into a space jungle or hide behind a space bush.”

“I’m dressed better for Space Force than this and I’m wearing $10 leggings from Target,” said one woman, who shared a photo of leggings with images of cats floating in space.

Another person posted a picture of a camouflage pattern next to a completely black box. “Study these carefully until you can see the difference,” he wrote in response to the Space Force.
The reality, as it usually is, is actually a bit more prosaic.

Their new uniform is, except for the various badges, reuses the existing camouflage uniforms, because, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Why spend all that money on a new uniform?

Then again, why spend all that money on standing up the cockamamie idea of a Space Force in the first place?

Headline of the Day

Boris' Bonkers 'Bung a Bob for Big Ben Brexit Bongs' Bid Bombs
The Mirror, on Boris Johnson's failed crowdfunding of ringing Big Ben's bells. (The clock is being refurbished, so it would cost about £500,000.)
This is the best headline ever.

When Barr Demands that Apple Unlock Their Phones

He claims that this is the only way for law enforcement to get into locked phones.

He is lying.

What this is really about is their wanting to be able to hack phones remotely, which, of course, will be used without a warrant by the US state security apparatus to do things like fight terrorism and spy on girl friends:
President Donald Trump's bizarre friendship with his buddy Tim Cook is in trouble. With Apple once again refusing to allow the FBI to unlock a terrorist's iPhone (two of them, actually, this time around), the president sent out a tweet the other day that said, "We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers, and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great Country."


In the current situation, the two handsets that the FBI wants Apple to open belong to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The latter allegedly killed three people last month at a Navy base in Pensacola, Florida during an act that is being called terrorism. Because the FBI asked Apple to unlock the phones, it appeared that companies like Cellebrite and Grayshift could not unlock any iPhones running on iOS 13. But Bloomberg reports that Cellebrite recently pushed out an update to its machines that will allow law enforcement agencies to extract and analyze information from several locked iPhone models.


And that brings us to this question, if the FBI can open both of Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani's iPhones without Apple, why is President Trump, Attorney General Barr, and the FBI putting pressure on Apple to unlock these phones? Perhaps it has to do with setting a precedent for the future when Apple comes up with a way to block the latest technology used by Cellebrite and Grayshift. However, the president should tread lightly here; he certainly doesn't want to lose the "friendship" he has with the man he once called Tim Apple.
Why are they putting pressure on apple?  Because Cellbrite and Grayshift's devices require physical possession of the device, and hence a warrant.

They, and by that I mean the US state security apparatus, want to be able to spy on citizens without having to go to court.

The British are Living the Chinese Curse

You know the curse, "May you live in interesting times."

It's actually not a Chinese curse, its origin is likely British.

Which is ironic for the British business who have been repeatedly reassured that Brexit will not make any difference in how they do business.

It has been clear from day 1 that the pro-Brexit crowd would not go for a Brexit-In-Name-Only, where the regulatory landscape would still conform almost completely to EU standards.

The Tories, and their pro-Brexit allies have always said that this was about sovereignty, and now the Chancellor has confirmed that there will be no formal synchronization of EU and UK regulations and standards.

Businesses, particularly the City of London, are freaking out:
Sajid Javid, the UK chancellor, has delivered a tough message to business leaders to end their campaign for Britain to stay in lock-step with Brussels rules after Brexit, telling them they have already had three years to prepare for a new trading relationship.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Javid quashed any prospect of the Treasury lending its support to big manufacturing sectors — which include cars, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and food and drink — that favour alignment with EU regulations.

“There will not be alignment, we will not be a ruletaker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union — and we will do this by the end of the year,” Mr Javid said, urging companies to “adjust” to the new reality.

But with Brexit now less than a fortnight away, business leaders are eyeing the upcoming trade talks with Brussels with trepidation.

The EU wants the UK to stay in line with its regulations in return for a zero tariffs, zero quotas trade deal but Boris Johnson, prime minister, has repeatedly said he wants to break free from the bloc’s rules.


Philip Hammond, the previous chancellor, fought to maintain alignment with the EU but Mr Javid made it clear that the Treasury was now under new management. He suggested being comfortable with some companies suffering from Brexit.
The complaint here is that Boris Johnson  and his Evil Minions did exactly what he promised.

No sympathy from me.