20 October 2017

Headline of the Day

Thanks, Obama: Trump Plans to Make It Easier to Kill Civilians with Drones

True dat.


This SNL sketch is both hilarious and terrifying:

19 October 2017

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen!

Someone leaked the ICE asset forfeiuture guide to The Intercept, and it is a truly chilling:
An internal handbook obtained by The Intercept provides a rare view into the extensive asset seizure operations of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, an office that trains its agents to meticulously appraise the value of property before taking it.

HSI’s 71-page “Asset Forfeiture Handbook,” dated June 30, 2010, underscores the role seizures play in “helping to fund future law enforcement actions” and covering costs “that HSI would otherwise be unable to fund.” It thus offers an unprecedented window into ICE’s wide-ranging asset forfeiture operations and the premium the agency places on seizing valuable property. Forfeiture proceeds can bolster ICE’s partnerships with local police departments, which are now the subject of heightened debate given the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration agenda.
 We need to change the rules on asset forfeiture, because we have cops engaging in shakedowns

This Is the Stupidest Thing I've Read All Day, including Twitter

There is a happy ending though, because the author of this post on Reddit has finally realized that you don't have to pay to take books out of the library.

How do people not know this?

Admittedly, I live just outside Baltimore City, where the local library is known as the "Enoch Pratt Free Library," which is a bit of a tell, but I am still stunned.

Keith Ellison, Please Resign as Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee

I know that you and Tom Perez are supposed to be working together well, but once again, the so called centrists have decided retribution against perceived slights from the left takes precedence.

Just quit. Don't tell Perez why, he doesn't deserve an explanation, and don't discuss it with the press, just leave.

Let the action speak for itself:
A shake-up is underway at the Democratic National Committee as several key longtime officials have lost their posts, exposing a still-raw rift in the party and igniting anger among those in its progressive wing who see retaliation for their opposition to DNC Chairman Tom Perez.

The ousters come ahead of the DNC's first meeting, in Las Vegas, Nevada, since Perez took over as chairman with a pledge this year to unite a party that had become badly divided during the brutal Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton 2016 primary race.


The removal and demotion of a handful of veteran operatives stood out, as did what critics charge is the over-representation of Clinton-backed members on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, which helps set the terms for the party's presidential primary, though other Sanders and Ellison backers remain represented.
Those who have been pushed out include:

  • Ray Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic chairman and longtime DNC official who ran against Perez for chair before backing Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. Buckley lost his spots on the Executive Committee and DNC Rules Committee.
  • James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute and prominent Sanders backer, is no longer co-chair of the Resolutions Committee and is off the Executive Committee, a spot he has held since 2001.
  • Alice Germond, the party’s longtime former secretary and a vocal Ellison backer, who was removed from her at-large appointment to the DNC.
  • Barbra Casbar Siperstein, who supported Ellison and Buckley, was tossed from the Executive Committee.
The moves exposed a rift in the partnership between Perez and his deputy chair, Ellison, who have publicly broadcast their "bromance" since Perez tapped Ellison for the post in a show of unity after their hard-fought race this year for the party's chairmanship.
It's one thing to make nice for the good of the party, and ignore, among other things, an Islamaphobic whisper campaign during the contest for DNC chair.

It's another thing to stand idly by while these same people continue a vendetta against the liberal wing of the party.

Walk away.  It's time.  Just walk away.

I Did Not Expect This

Warning, graphic video
The officers who brutalized David Dao on a United Airlines flight a few months ago have been fired:
According to the initial police report, Dao was said to have pushed away an officer's arm, causing "the subject to fall, hit, and injure his mouth on the armrest on the other side of the aisle." Another officer corroborated that account, but none of this is visible on the videos passengers posted online.

Thomas Demetrio, Dao's attorney, said video evidence is what doomed the officers.

"Do not state something that is clearly contrary to video viewed by the world," he said in a statement. "Our cell phones are the best deterrent to ensure mistreatment becomes a rarity."

The inspector general inquiry said that officers had "deliberately removed material facts from their reports." Aviation officials fired the security official who had "improperly escalated the incident" as well as an official involved in removing facts from a report on the incident.
You have the constitutional right to tape LEOs in action.  Use it.

As the counselor notes, "Cell phones are the best deterrent to ensure mistreatment becomes a rarity."

This May Be the Worst Thing That I Have Ever Said

We just had a workplace shooting in Maryland and Delaware yesterday.

3 dead and 6 wounded. Just another day at the office.

My wife and I were discussing this as I was getting ready to go to work, and I said, "My advice is always to shoot the boss, not your co-workers."

Sharon,* ever the optimist, asked a very wise question, "How about not shooting anyone."

Without thinking, I replied:
This is America, that's not an option.
That was literally the first thought in my head, like some kind of like a Rorschach test.

That may have been the worst thing that I have ever said in my entire life.

I'm not sure if it reflects poorly on me, on our society, on my understanding of our society, or the universe.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

18 October 2017

The Very Definition of Concern Trolling

Douglas Schoen, former Clinton pollster and current Fox News "Democrat", has advice for the Democratic Party, "Genuflect to Wall Street:
Many of the most prominent voices in the Democratic Party, led by Bernie Sanders, are advocating wealth redistribution through higher taxes and Medicare for all, and demonizing banks and Wall Street.

Memories in politics are short, but those policies are vastly different from the program of the party’s traditional center-left coalition. Under Bill Clinton, that coalition balanced the budget, acknowledged the limits of government and protected the essential programs that make up the social safety net.
Mass incarceration, particularly of people of color, destroying welfare, NAFTA, etc.

Yeah, good times, good times.

Go Cheney yourself.

Consider the Source

Andrew Ross Sorkin, the New York Times's cheerleader for Wall Street and its ilk, has finally noticed that Silicon Valley unicorns valuations are 6 pounds of sh%$ in a 5 pound bag:
Uber is said to be worth $62.5 billion. Airbnb is valued at $31 billion. Elon Musk’s SpaceX Technologies is valued at $21 billion, and Pinterest at $12.3 billion.

Those eye-popping valuations regularly fill articles and water-cooler conversations in Silicon Valley, all under the umbrella of “unicorn” companies — a term for private companies that are said to be worth more than $1 billion. That moniker now applies to at least 135 businesses, making the descriptions of them as unicorns, well, less apt. (Maybe donkeys?) Early investors and employees spend countless hours calculating and recalculating how much their stake is worth.

Here is some bad news for them: Those valuations may be a bit of myth — or perhaps wishful thinking.

In Palo Alto, Calif., just down the road from many of the biggest tech companies and the most influential venture capitalists, a professor at Stanford University has quietly been working on a project to crunch the valuation numbers behind some of these private companies.

Ilya A. Strebulaev and another professor working with him, Will Gornall of the University of British Columbia, have come to a startling conclusion: The average unicorn is worth half the headline price tag that is put out after each new valuation.

And if the special side deals that most unicorn companies offer to certain investors — more on this sleight of hand in a moment — are taken into account, almost half of the companies would fall below the $1 billion threshold.
Of course, Sorkin still cannot bring himself to drop the F-bomb (Fraud), but this is systemic fraud.

I don't just want to see sanity and honesty in Silicon Valley, I want to see venture capitalists frog-marched out of their offices in handcuffs.

This is Called, "Owning It."

The Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond, has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn is an, "Existential challenge to our economic model," Jeremy Corbyn wholeheartedly agrees with the Conservative official:
Jeremy Corbyn will say the chancellor, Philip Hammond, is right to call the Labour party an “existential challenge to our economic model” as he pledges to lead a government that will overturn the economic status quo.

Corbyn will tell the Co-operative party conference on Saturday that Labour would forge a fresh consensus for a modern economy, which would allow digital platforms and technological advancement such as automation to flourish in ways that empowered workers.

Responding to Hammond’s warning in his speech at this month’s Conservative conference, Corbyn will say the chancellor is “absolutely right” to say that Labour is threatening to destroy the current economic model, adding that the current system “allows homelessness to double, 4 million children to live in poverty and over a million older people not getting the care they need”.
This is how you do it.

Tweet of the Day

Yea, pretty much.


Sand cats are the only cats that live exclusively in the desert, and sand kittens have just been filmed for the first time.

Cute alert:

17 October 2017

Interesting Twitter Fact

I would note that most, if not all, of these statues to genocidal anti-Semites have been erected since the fall of the USSR.

It ain't just history.

H/t Mark Ames.

Tweet of the Day

This tweet is making the rounds:

This is my favorite response:
Many of the responses to Lewinsky's tweet are respectful and considerate.

There are a fair number, however, are beyond contempt.

My guess is that there is a high correlation with these tweets and, "I'm with her," bumper stickers.

H/t naked capitalism.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Kevin Wilshaw, a longtime of the National Front in the UK, and a self-admitted Nazi, has eschewed his previous radical racism and come out as having a Jewish mother and being Gay:
A white supremacist active as recently as the start of this year says today he is publicly renouncing 40 years of hate. Speaking on Channel 4 News he comes out as gay for the first time – and admits to a violent past. After a lifetime of involvement with the far-right Kevin Wilshaw announces on Channel 4 News that he is leaving the movement – at the same time publicly coming out as gay.

The well known National Front organiser in the 1980s was still active in white supremacist groups earlier this year – including speaking at events.

But tonight on Channel 4 News he explains for the very first time why he is publicly disavowing the movement – sharing his secrets, explaining how he was both a Neo-Nazi and of Jewish heritage , while admitting to violent acts and what motivated his hatred.

Kevin Wilshaw also opens up about his Jewish mother.

“She was part Jewish, maiden name was Benjamin, we have Jewish blood on that side.
And here is the money quote:
Mr Wilshaw admits that being a Nazi who is gay – but with a Jewish background – is a contradiction.
Gee, you think?

BTW, Mr. Wilshaw, according to Jewish law, you are Jewish, because your mother was Jewish.

This is f%$#ed up and sh%$.

Nope, No Anthropogenic Climate Change Here

Yep, a Hurricane, hitting Ireland
A hurricane is hitting Ireland.

You heard that right, Ireland

This is the furthest east time ever that a hurricane has been observed in the modern era:
The system formerly known as Hurricane Ophelia is moving into Ireland on Monday, bringing "status red" weather throughout the day to the island. The Irish National Meteorological Service, Met √Čireann, has warned that, "Violent and destructive gusts of 120 to 150km/h are forecast countrywide, and in excess of these values in some very exposed and hilly areas. There is a danger to life and property."

Ophelia transitioned from a hurricane to an extra-tropical system on Sunday, but that only marginally diminished its threat to Ireland and the United Kingdom on Monday, before it likely dissipates near Norway on Tuesday. The primary threat from the system was high winds, with heavy rains.

Forecasters marveled at the intensification of Ophelia on Saturday, as it reached Category 3 status on the Saffir-Simpson scale and became a major hurricane. For a storm in the Atlantic basin, this is the farthest east that a major hurricane has been recorded during the satellite era of observations. Additionally, it was the farthest north, at 35.9 degrees north, that an Atlantic major hurricane has existed this late in the year since 1939.

"Ophelia is breaking new ground for a major hurricane," National Hurricane Center scientist Eric Blake wrote on Twitter. "Typically those waters much too cool for anything this strong." He also added, "I really can’t believe I’m seeing a major just south of the Azores." Seas near where Ophelia intensified Saturday were 1-2 degrees Celsius above normal.
It goes without saying that we are in for some serious hurt over the next few years.

It also follows that climate change deniers are full of crap.

Headline of the day

It's Time for Democrats to Stop Being Such Gormless Chumps
The Week
The thesis of the article is that Democrats need understand that Republicans have no respect for the traditions of government, and that the Democrats insistence on preserving these niceties, when Republicans end them as soon as they become inconvenient, is a sucker's game:
One of the most marked characteristics of 21st century political history is the one-sided application of political norms. Democrats have done things like abolish earmarks, adopt "PAYGO" budgeting (in which the long-term stability of the national debt is written into the budget process), and respect the "blue slip" rule, which gives senators a veto over judicial appointments in their home state.

In return, Republicans have shredded those norms the moment they got in the way of their application of power. Word is, they now plan to use imaginary future growth to sidestep PAYGO rules, and it seems likely that the blue slip rule is next on the chopping block.

It's time for Democrats to stop being such gormless chumps, and start matching Republicans' procedural hardball.
The problem right now is that there is no blow-back for Republicans doing this, because when the Democrats get back in power, they pretend that the past never happened.

To quote David Mamet (he wrote the script), "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue."

An Old Hollywood Story

Here is a gem buried in a discussion about plans for the tech giants to take over the entertainment world:
Several times in conversations with people in Hollywood, I heard the tech people referred to as “dumb money” — the sort of outsiders (in the past, they came from oil, then from finance) who parade through town looking to call the shots. One Hollywood executive who has worked often with tech companies told me: “I wouldn’t say we’ve looked at them with fear, no.”
Yeah, pretty much.

I Have a Script Treatment for the Sharknado XIX

It appears that scientists have discovered that sometimes, alligators hunt and kill sharks:
American alligators are frequently seen ambling around golf courses in Florida as players warily compete their rounds. But new research suggests the reptiles partake in a far more outlandish habit when away from the greens – eating sharks.

US researchers have documented instances of alligators preying upon small sharks along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. A study, published in the journal Southeastern Naturalist, claims to be the first scientific study of the largely unseen struggle between the two feared predators.

“The frequency of one predator eating the other is really about size dynamic,” said James Nifong, a researcher at Kansas State University. “If a small shark swims by an alligator and the alligator feels like it can take the shark down, it will, but we also reviewed some old stories about larger sharks eating smaller alligators.”
Nature in all its glory.