16 October 2021

And the Regime Change Mousketeers Run Riot

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has made normalization and the dropping of economic sanctions conditional on regime change in Syria.

Enough is enough.

The US has literally spent a decade literally funding al Qaeda (Jabhat al-Nusra, etc.) in an attempt to change the regime in Syria, and the only result has been more war and more misery for the average Syrian.

The fact that Bashar al-Assad is the least bad option for Syria is a tragedy, but this is a direct consequence of the US, Turkey, and the Petty Princes of the Persian Gulf choosing the worst possible proxies in their attempt at remaking the Levant in its own image.

It is worse than a crime, it is a mistake:

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed US opposition Wednesday to normalization with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has seen growing acceptance from Arab nations that have concluded he won the brutal civil war.

Meeting with his Israeli and UAE counterparts, Blinken said that US President Joe Biden’s administration’s policy on Syria was largely focused on humanitarian relief.

“What we have not done, and what we do not intend to do, is to express any support for efforts to normalize relations or rehabilitate Mr. Assad,” Blinken told a joint news conference, not referring to Assad as president.

The United States has not “lifted a single sanction on Syria or changed our position to oppose the reconstruction of Syria until there is irreversible progress toward a political solution, which we believe is necessary and vital,” Blinken said.

A US law known as the Caesar Act came into force last year that punishes any companies that work with Assad as he seeks to rebuild after a decade of war.

The Caesar Act, accompanied by a slew of US sanctions on Syrians close to Assad, aims to force accountability for human rights abuses and to encourage a political solution in Syria.

I've heard this song many times, and it always ends the same way, instability and pain for the country that the US purports to "Help." 

It needs to stop.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

It turns out that police killings are more than twice what the official statistics report.

This is not a surprise.  It is law enforcement that reports and collects the numbers: 

In 2019, the FBI claimed to be compiling the first-ever database of police use of force, including killings of citizens by officers. It was, of course, not the first-ever database of police killings. Multiple databases have been created (some abandoned) prior to this self-congratulatory announcement to track killings by police officers.

What this database would have, however, is information on use of force, which most private databases didn't track. Whether or not it actually does contain this info is difficult to assess, since the FBI's effort does not compile these reports in any easily-accessible manner, nor does it provide readable breakdowns of the data -- something it does for other things, like crimes against police officers.

It also does not have the participation of every law enforcement agency in the nation, which prevents the FBI from collecting all relevant information. It's also voluntary, so even participating agencies are free to withhold incident reports, keeping their own official use-of-force/killing numbers lower than what they actually may be.

………

A recent study published by The Lancet says the official numbers are wrong. And they're off by a lot. Utilizing outside databases compiled by private citizens/entities and data obtained from the USA National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), the researchers have reached the conclusion that law enforcement self-reporting has resulted in undercounting the number of killings by officers by thousands over the past four decades.
We found that more than half of all deaths due to police violence that we estimated in the USA from 1980 to 2018 were unreported in the NVSS. Compounding this, we found substantial differences in the age-standardised mortality rate due to police violence over time and by racial and ethnic groups within the USA.

So basically, the FBI report is a lie on any number of levels.

According to this study [PDF], the NVSS did not report 55% of deaths attributable to police violence, resulting in an undercount of ~17,000 deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers. There are a lot of contributing factors, not the least of which is law enforcement's hesitancy to report or provide data on their own possible wrongdoing.

But there are other contributors. Misclassification of deaths often starts in the coroner's office. Some coroners and forensic examiners work hand-in-hand with local law enforcement, resulting in pressure to define cause of death as something unrelated to force applied by officers. One way to fix this ongoing contributor to underreporting is to protect coroners and examiners from other government agencies.
Coroners and forensic medical experts also propose that to avoid incorrect assignment of cause of death due to pressure from the police, politicians, or the deceased family members, forensic pathologists should work independently from law enforcement. Additionally, forensic pathologists often must investigate and testify in cases of police violence. To ensure that pathologists are free from pressures that could influence these cases, pathologists should be awarded whistleblower protections under the law.

And the problem is compounded throughout the whole criminal justice apparatus.

Eliminate qualified immunity.  Make police officers carry their own liability insurance, and allow the insurers to review their personnel files.

Insurance companies do a good job of spotting high risk individuals.

Also, ban moonlighting by cops, reduce overtime, and institute mandatory (paid) counseling fore every cop.

When cops put in 55 hours a week on the job, and 20 hours a week doing a security gig, they are fatigued and more likely to make tragic mistakes.

As to counseling, when every cop has to talk with a therapist, there is no longer a stigma associated with doing so, and perhaps it will help with PTSD issues that are endemic in law enforcement.

15 October 2021

Strike at John Deere

Thousands of workers at John Deere Deere have gone on strike, adding an exclamation point to what has been a year of increased labor activism.

This was inevitable once the rank and file voted 9 to 1 to reject the contract negotiated by the UAW.

The UAW negotiated a lousy deal, and this time, the rank and file demanded, and got a chance to see the full language of the contract, which given the recent history of concessions and corruption at the union, did not pass muster.  (Members are trying to change the election procedures to provide for directi elections of union leaders in response to this)

So now, we have the largest strike in the automotive industry in decades:

More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday, the first major walkout at the agricultural machinery giant in more than three decades.

The union had said its members would walk off the job if no deal has been reached Wednesday. The vast majority of the union rejected a contract offer earlier this week that would have delivered 5% raises to some workers and 6% raises to others at the Illinois company known for its green tractors. 

………

Thirty-five years have passed since the last major Deere strike, but workers were emboldened to demand more this year after working long hours throughout the pandemic and because companies are facing worker shortages.

“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” said Chuck Browning, vice president and director of the UAW’s Agricultural Implement Department. “We stay committed to bargaining until our members’ goals are achieved.”

The UAW attempted to get the workers to agree to the abolition of pensions for new hires, small wage hikes, all while Deere profits, and Deer executive compensation, skyrocketed.

The UAW has been increasingly timid in its negotiations at least the 1980s, and with recent revelations of corruption at the highest level of the union, workers are much more skeptical of the deals that the union negotiates.

Looks Like I'll be Getting a Booster Soon

An outside FDA panel has recommended booster shots for Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients.

Seeing as how J&J is what I got in April, it's the only vaccine certified corn free, and the rest of my immediate family is allergic to corn, it was our best option.

Since there are no mix and match boosters right now, if the FDA follows their advice, I'll probably get a booster in the next 4-6 weeks:

A panel of outside experts on Friday advised the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine for people 18 and older, with a recommendation it be given at least two months after the first shot.

The unanimous recommendation on the Johnson & Johnson booster will be taken up by the FDA, which is expected to make a decision within days. The move will chart a path forward for the 14 million people in the United States who have received the vaccine, many of whom have felt left behind as widely used shots employing a different technology garner greater attention from researchers and the public.

The committee’s decision marked another turning point in the story of coronavirus shots, arriving 10 months after regulators authorized the first vaccine, a development that helped alter the course of the pandemic, which has claimed more than 722,000 lives in the United States.

Of course, with most of the world still unvaccinated because of vaccine shortages, there is an ethical issue attached to getting boosters while so many people in poorer countries lack a first vaccine.

For Sharon* and Nat, it's a no-brainer, they have underlying health issues, but for Charlie and me, the moral calculus is far less clear.

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

Not Surprising If You Know Oregon History

The DDOS leaks of the membership records of the Oath Keepers militia group, have revealed dozens of Oregon police on their roster.

As I have noted before, Oregon banned black residents at its founding, and was the most Klan dominated state ever in the 1920s, so it is not a surprise if you know the history:

An analysis by OPB of hacked data uncovers police officers, sheriff’s deputies and military in Oregon who had joined the far right militia group since 2009.

In early summer 2018, it looked as though Oregon voters might get a chance to ban assault weapons in the state.

………

The proposed Oregon ballot measure met stiff legal challenges and was kept off the ballot, but not before militia groups like the Oath Keepers used the proposed gun restrictions as a rallying cry to bring hundreds of people out to a gun rights rally in Salem.

And those recruitment efforts by the Oath Keepers appear to have had some effect.

Not long after the pro-gun rally in Salem, Portland police officer Joseph Webber appears to have joined the Oath Keepers militia, an anti-government, anti-immigrant extremist group that was thrust into the national security spotlight for its role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

According to data leaked earlier this month and reviewed by OPB, Webber — who is still a Portland police officer — is among more than two dozen current and former police officers, sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers, and members of the military in Oregon who appear to have joined the Oath Keepers militia since the group was founded in 2009. OPB compared data in the Oath Keepers leak against public records, social media and state law enforcement certification information to verify the information.

………

The hacked Oath Keepers data was sent to the transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets, which provided the information to journalists and researchers. In several cases across the country, journalists and citizen sleuths have been able to confirm law enforcement and military members using the leaked data. New York City police officers and a detective in the Hudson County prosecutor’s office were in the leaked data, prompting investigations from those two agencies.

The data include names, membership join dates and contact information for nearly 40,000 people across the country who at one point paid dues to the organization, including more than 1,000 names in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Except where people paid the approximately $1,000 for a lifetime membership, it’s not clear from the data if people are still members.

These officers joined a terrorist organization.  Pull their law enforcement license, and take their guns away from them, even if you have to pry them from their cold, dead hands.

Megyn Kelly at Her Most Eloquent

It's a fart video, because I have to post fart videos:

It's probably Kelly's best journalistic moment.

14 October 2021

Don't Send Bill Mumy Up*

OK, so William Shatner just became the oldest man ever in space when he took a short hop on Jeff Bezos' flying space penis.

Upon returning the Star Trek actor waxed philosophical about the need to protect the Earth, which is actually a bit deeper than I had expected:

William Shatner came back to Earth "overwhelmed" with the value of life on our planet, he said in a recent interview.

The actor and comedian, best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk on "The Original Series" of "Star Trek" (1966 to 1969, and several movies), was the starring crew member on Blue Origin's NS-18 suborbital flight that launched and landed Wednesday (Oct. 13).

In an interview with NBC's "Today" on Thursday (Oct. 14), Shatner said he was "overwhelmed" with the view out the window of the New Shepard spacecraft and what he perceived as a contrast between the "life" on Earth and the "death" he saw in space, echoing comments he made shortly after landing.

"We need to take care of the planet, but it's so fragile," he said. "There's this little tiny blue skin that is 50 miles wide, and we pollute it, and it's our means of living."

Still, it's basically just a marketing gimmick from Jeff Bezos and his Evil Minions™, and means little in the greater scheme of things.

*Not my joke.  It's adapted from a joke DC made on the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

It's Jobless Thursday

A very good week, with initial unemployment claims falling to 293,000, the first time that this number has fallen below 300,000 since the before time.

It's good news, and breaks the basically flat trend of the past 4 weeks:

Companies are holding on tightly to employees at the same time few other workers are available and prices are rising in wholesale markets facing supply constraints, both factors contributing to higher inflation.

Shortages of materials are driving up the cost of goods, while the tight labor market is pushing up wages.

New applications for unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, declined to a seasonally adjusted 293,000 last week, the Labor Department said. It marked the first week since the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020 that jobless claims fell below 300,000, though applications remain above 2019’s average. A proxy for the number of people receiving unemployment benefits also fell to the lowest level since March 2020.

I'm not too worried about inflation, which was at 0.4% for August (about 5% annually), which is significantly lower than what we saw in April, May, and June, 0.8%, 0.6%, and 0.9% respectively.

I remain worried about the current job situation though.

Boeing's Death Spiral

First, we discover that a former Boeing test pilot was indicted for lying to the FAA.

I really hope that he flips on his superiors, because I am certain that he did not do this on his own initiative:

A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted a former top pilot for Boeing, Mark Forkner, in connection with statements he and the company made about its troubled 737 Max jet, the culmination of a long investigation.

Mr. Forkner is accused of deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration and of “scheming to defraud Boeing’s U.S.‑based airline customers to obtain tens of millions of dollars for Boeing,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

Prosecutors contend that Mr. Forkner provided the aviation agency with “materially false, inaccurate and incomplete information” about flight control software implicated in two crashes in 2018 and 2019 in which 346 people were killed. That software, known as MCAS (for Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) was designed to push down the plane’s nose in certain situations.

“In an attempt to save Boeing money, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators,” Chad E. Meacham, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement. “His callous choice to mislead the F.A.A. hampered the agency’s ability to protect the flying public and left pilots in the lurch, lacking information about certain 737 Max flight controls.”

………

At the time, Mr. Forkner was Boeing’s chief technical pilot, a senior position responsible for the company’s interaction with the F.A.A. group that determined what kind of training pilots would need before flying the Max.

During a simulated test flight in November 2016, Mr. Forkner discovered that the software could be triggered at slower speeds, including those commonly experienced during takeoff and landing. Soon after, he shared his discovery with a colleague, saying in an instant message “I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” according to the filing.

I so hope that he flips on his superiors.

And then there are the structural deficiencies discovered in the 787 Dreamliner and the fact that they found that two nips (micro bottles) of Tequila in the new Air Force One that they are manufacturing:

Boeing Co. is dealing with a new defect on its 787 Dreamliner, the latest in a series of production slip-ups that have delayed aircraft deliveries and drawn increased U.S. government scrutiny.

The new problem involves certain titanium parts that are weaker than they should be on 787s built over the past three years, people familiar with the matter said. The discovery is among other Dreamliner snafus that have left Boeing stuck with more than $25 billion of the jets in its inventory.

The finding is fresh evidence that the plane maker is still trying to fix its manufacturing operations, despite a nearly two-year push by Chief Executive David Calhoun to restore Boeing’s reputation for building quality jets. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating Boeing’s quality controls. The company acknowledged it hasn’t solved the problem of junk left over from the production process, such as two empty tequila mini-bottles found in September on a new Air Force One jet under construction.

………

Earlier this year, inspections of 737 MAX aircraft found a pocketknife left in a wheel well and a soiled lavatory, people familiar with the debris said. “Though we are still falling short of our goal of zero FOD for every aircraft we deliver, our customers acknowledge the progress we are making,” the Boeing spokesman said, referring to foreign-object debris.

The under-strength parts are an artifact of Boeing attempting to outsource as much as possible, which was a classic case of know-nothing MBA bullsh%$.

The pocket knife, tequila bottles, and what sounds like sh%$ in the toilet?  Those sound like sabotage from a thoroughly demoralized workforce.

Thank you, but I will fly Airbus for a while.

Today in Toxic Narcissism

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has resigned to run for Governor of Oregon.

Spending 37 years as a "Made Man" as an NYT reporter and columnist qualifies him for literally nothing.

Of course, recent experience has showed that an overweening ego stoked by a prominent position in the media has not been a good indicator of performance in public service:

After 37 years at The New York Times as a reporter, a high-level editor and an opinion columnist, Nicholas Kristof is leaving the newspaper as he considers running for governor of Oregon, a top Times editor said in a note to the staff on Thursday.

Mr. Kristof, 62, has been on leave from The Times since June, when he told company executives that he was weighing a run for governor in the state where he grew up. On Tuesday, he filed to organize a candidate committee with Oregon’s secretary of state as a Democrat, signaling that his interest was serious.

It's bad news for the citizens of the great state of Oregon, but good news for New York Times readers.

H/t Atrios.

Can We Please Give Texas Back to Mexico?

Texas has a law requiring that if a school has books about "controversial issues" they also have to carry books taking the opposite side, so they school has to carry books saying that there is no racism, that slavery is good, that homosexuals need to be burned at the state, and, apparently, they need to carry books either denying the existence of the Holocaust, or books that say that the Holocaust was a good thing.

At least, that is the case in Southlake Texas, just north of Dallas and Ft. Worth:

A top administrator with the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake advised teachers last week that if they have a book about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also offer students access to a book from an “opposing” perspective, according to an audio recording obtained by NBC News.

Gina Peddy, the Carroll school district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, made the comment Friday afternoon during a training session on which books teachers can have in classroom libraries. The training came four days after the Carroll school board, responding to a parent’s complaint, voted to reprimand a fourth grade teacher who had kept an anti-racism book in her classroom.

A Carroll staff member secretly recorded the Friday training and shared the audio with NBC News.

“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Peddy said in the recording, referring to a new Texas law that requires teachers to present multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” issues. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust,” Peddy continued, “that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”

“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher said in response.

“Believe me,” Peddy said. “That’s come up.”

At first, I thought that the Ms. Peddy was just a horrible person, but rather, she has the worst job in the world, she has to make accommodations in the curriculum to the parents in the district, some of whom are no doubt wacko, my parents are first cousins, X-Files wannabe, black helicopter, tinfoil hat wearing, stupid, dim-witted, thinks pro wrestling is real* nut jobs.

I rather imagine that she has to tell her teachers to carry flat earth books as well.

We really need to give Texas back to Mexico, or to Spain, or to France, or maybe sell it at a garage sale.

*Sorry, I think that I just channeled the comedian Denis Leary.

 

Lucy, Football, and Steve Bannon

The House select committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection is is moving to hold Stephen Bannon in criminal contempt of Congress for not complying with their subpoena.

Considering the Congressional record on this, I see this as more theater than anything else.

If you expect to see Bannon frog-marched in handcuffs before the committee, I would suggest that you review the fable of Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football:

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol announced on Thursday that it will move to hold Stephen K. Bannon in criminal contempt for not complying with its subpoena as it seeks to force former Trump administration officials to cooperate with its inquiry.

Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said the panel will meet Tuesday when the House returns to Washington to vote to adopt a contempt report.

“The Select Committee will use every tool at its disposal to get the information it seeks, and witnesses who try to stonewall the Select Committee will not succeed,” Thompson said in a statement.

The decision to pursue a criminal complaint signals the committee’s aggressive approach as it tries to avoid the standoffs that bedeviled congressional Democrats during the Trump administration. At the time, drawn-out legal battles frustrated attempts to scrutinize the Trump White House and federal agencies.

Members of the select committee have argued that the situation is different now with Donald Trump out of office, saying they believe the Biden Justice Department will assist their efforts to investigate the most serious attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 by taking up criminal complaints to help enforce its subpoenas.

“We expect the Justice Department to adhere to the principle that no one is above the law,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the committee, said earlier this week.

A successful prosecution for contempt, which is classified as a misdemeanor, could lead to Bannon facing a fine of up to $100,000 and a one-year sentence in federal prison.

It should be noted that Bannon left the Trump administration in 2017, so Trump's assertion of privilege about the events of January 6, 2021 is particularly specious, since the privilege only applies to communications within the executive branch, and Steve Bannon had been a private citizen for almost 4 years at that time.

Of course, this won't make a difference.  Bannon will never see the inside of a court room over this.

13 October 2021

George F%$#ing Will?

The man who briefed Ronald Reagan for the 1980 debates using Jimmy Carters' stolen briefing books, has just written an adulatory review of a Robert E. Lee biography that excoriates the general.

I am rather surprised that Will would do this for a book that calls Lee a dullard, a hypocrite, and a traitor:

In 1935, the year before Margaret Mitchell’s magnolia-scented novel “Gone With the Wind” began 21 months on bestseller lists, Douglas Southall Freeman, the son of a veteran of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s legions, published, to critical acclaim and commercial success, the final two volumes of his worshipful four-volume biography of Lee. Freeman called Lee “the Southern Arthur” who “accepted fame without vanity and defeat without repining.”

………

Lee was unambiguously a traitor, guilty of, in the Constitution’s language about treason, “levying war against” the United States. He also was a bore. His life coincided with extraordinarily complex controversies — about the nation’s nature, civic duty, the meaning of patriotism and the demands of honor. Remarkably, there is no record of his expressing a thought (here is a Lee sample: “Never exceed your means”) more interesting than Polonius’s bromides (“Neither a borrower nor a lender be”).

Princeton’s Allen C. Guelzo, an eminent Civil War historian, has now published exactly what the nation needs as it reappraises important historical figures who lived in challenging times with assumptions radically unlike today’s. “Robert E. Lee: A Life,” Guelzo’s scrupulously measured assessment, is mercifully free of the grandstanding by which many moralists nowadays celebrate themselves by indignantly deploring the shortcomings of those whose behavior offends current sensibilities. But by casting a cool eye on Lee, Guelzo allows facts to validate today’s removals of Lee’s name and statues from public buildings and places.

Contemporaries gushed about Lee’s gentility, dignity, probity, manners, presence, composure, etc. If mid-19th-century America had been a debutante ball, Lee, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at 22 without a single demerit, would have been a paragon. Life then was, however, a moral test. Lee flunked.

Lee, Guelzo writes, “raised his hand” against the nation that, as an Army officer, he had sworn to defend. He did so for an agenda that a much greater man, Ulysses S. Grant, called one of “the worst for which a people ever fought.” Lee thought slavery was a “greater evil” to White people than to Black people. He enveloped himself in what Guelzo calls a “cloud of pious wishes” and decided, as Guelzo tartly says, “it was up to the whites to decide when enough was enough.” Guelzo writes that to Lee, slavery’s victims were “invisible, despite their presence all around.” His indifference was “cruelty in self-disguised velvet.” Not well disguised, when he presided at the whipping of three recaptured runaways, ordering a constable to “lay it on well.”

George F. Will's gleeful take-down of Robert E. Lee is not something that I would have expected from one of the shock troops of the "Reagan Revolution."

It would be more readable if he didn't insist on using terms and references primarily chosen to impress upon the reader his "Staggering Genius."  

We use DuckDuckGo just as well as he can.

I Did Not Realize How Awful the Mississippi Abortion Case Is

The basic argument is that the 14th amendment does not apply to laws that were in effect at the time of its passage in 1868. (Renquist and Scalia loved this argument)

This would mean that bans on birth control, miscegenation,  homosexuality, 

It's also profoundly ahistorical.  The 14th amendment was SPECIFICALLY passed to overrule existing state and local laws that undermine equal rights under the Constitution.

The constitutional right to abortion is under concerted attack by a deeply conservative Supreme Court. Last month, the Supreme Court permitted Texas’ ban on abortion at six weeks to go into effect in a one-paragraph ruling decided without full briefing and oral argument, stripping inhabitants of the Lone Star State of constitutional rights enjoyed in the rest of the country. On Dec. 1, the court will consider the constitutionality of Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In Dobbs, Mississippi is urging the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade and take away from millions of Americans the fundamental right to control their bodies, choose whether and when to start a family, determine their life course, and participate as equals in American life.

But the right to abortion is not the only fundamental right at risk. The arguments being advanced by Mississippi, if accepted, would destabilize a central part of the court’s jurisprudence protecting fundamental constitutional rights. As a result, Dobbs also threatens the fundamental rights to use birth control, marry a loved one, and make decisions about sexual intimacy.

………

For good reason, state practice in 1868 has never been a measure of what fundamental, personal rights are guaranteed against state infringement by the 14th Amendment. This is illustrated not only by Roe and Casey—which explicitly rejected the idea that the state practice in 1868 fixes the fundamental rights for all future generations—but also by many other landmark Supreme Court rulings vindicating the 14th Amendment’s promise of liberty for all.

For example, in 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, holding that the freedom to marry a person of another race is a fundamental right. It did not matter that anti-miscegenation laws had been common in Virginia as far back as the colonial period because, under the 14th Amendment, the right to marry cannot be infringed by the government.

Similar examples abound. In 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court struck down a restriction on the use of birth control dating back to 1879, holding that it infringed on the right of a married couple to choose whether to start a family and bear children. The fact that restrictions on birth control had a long historical lineage did not give the government the right to intrude on a married couple’s decision about whether and when to start a family.

………

All of these landmark precedents are now in the crosshairs. If the fundamental rights protected by the 14th Amendment are determined by looking to state practice in 1868—as Mississippi and its allies urge—Loving’s holding protecting the right to marry as a fundamental right would be in doubt, as would many other landmark precedents, including Lawrence and Obergefell.

………

Indeed, the amicus brief filed in Dobbs on behalf of Texas Right to Life—and signed by Adam Mortara, a former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, and Jonathan Mitchell, the architect of S.B. 8—demonstrates that Dobbs is just the beginning, and conservatives are seeking a much larger jurisprudential reversal. In urging the Supreme Court to overrule Roe, the brief contends that virtually all of the court’s fundamental rights jurisprudence is questionable. It explicitly rejects Loving’s reasoning, arguing that the Supreme Court was wrong to recognize a fundamental right to marry in that case. It claims that Lawrence and Obergefell are “lawless” rulings and urges the Supreme Court in Dobbs to leave “those decisions hanging by a thread.”

I expect that at least 3 of the Justices to support this morally and intellectually bankrupt argument, because they are corrupt hacks. 

Actually, 6 of them are corrupt hypocritical hacks, but some of them are sufficiently perceptive to understand making a ruling this patently absurd would reap the proverbial whirlwind.

5 Dead, 2 Wounded in Mass Shooting in Norway

This is odd for two reasons, mass shootings are rare in Norway, and the shooter was armed with a bow and arrow.

This is some profoundly weird sh%$: 

A man armed with a bow and arrow killed five people and wounded two others in a series of attacks in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg on Wednesday, local police said.

The suspect was in custody, police added.

"The man used a bow and arrow ... for some of the attacks," police chief Oeyvind Aas told reporters. The police were investigating whether other weapons had also been used, he said.

"The man has been apprehended ... from the information we now have, this person carried out these actions alone," Aas added.

Given that the last mass shooting in Norway was Anders Breivik who killed 77 people, most of them teenagers, this is not so bad.

Unlike Breivik, I don't think that whoever this is will have close ties to the American far right.

Bow and arrow is just not their style.

Dafuq???????

Pornhub has released this year's most common search terms on its site by state. 

Some are pretty normal, like Milf (Mothers I'd Like to F%$#), threesome, lesbian, ebony, teen, skin, and Asian.

And then you have the slightly odd search terms,  Montana has, "Librarian," Oklahoma has, "Goth Hospital," North Carolina and Connecticut have, "Step Sister," Michigan has, "Racist," Florida has, "Boats," and Colorado has, "Droopy Balls."


Yes, this Kevin James,
aka Paul Blart mall cop.

And then there is Tennessee, which has, "Kevin James," as its most popular search term

How on earth does Kevin James end up as the most popular search term anywhere?

You can learn a lot about a person by looking at their search history, but you might be better off not knowing some things.

A poll of the United States was apparently taken to find out each state’s most common search terms on Pornhub. Most are rather unsurprising, but Tennessee seemingly has a fetish for not a type of pornography but rather a particular man: Kevin James. Yes, you read that right. According to the graphic, Tennessee has the unique distinction of obsessively searching for Kevin James porn.

Is it a real poll? Probably not, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from having fun on Twitter. The same graphic has trended in the past, too. 

I so want this to be true. 

The idea that the home of Elvis is obsessively searching for Kevin James pr0n is simply too weird for words.

12 October 2021

This is Joe Arpaio Level Sh%$

 LA County Sheriff Alex Vianueva has established a "Public Integrity Unit" whose responsibilities appear to consist entirely of harnessing his critics.

This is exactly what Joe Arpaio did, and I'm inclined to believe that this is more the exception than the rule:

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is apparently incapable of being reformed. Over the years, the LASD has run an illegal prison informant program, one that culminated in an FBI investigation during which the LASD threatened FBI agents and federal witnesses.

But what can one really expect from an agency willing to staff itself with statutory rapists, thieves, and cops considered unable to be hired anywhere else? The department is so internally corroded it has become the home for gangs and cliques of rogue officers who revel in deploying excessive force and violating rights.

The only thing that can bring the LASD down is its critics and its oversight. The Department knows this and that's why it's taking action to clean itself up. Oh wait, it's the other thing.
The unit, named the Civil Rights and Public Integrity Detail, has pursued a long-running investigation into one of Villanueva’s most vocal critics, L.A. County Inspector General Max Huntsman, and others despite sheriff’s officials being told by the FBI and state law enforcement officials that it appeared no crimes had been committed, a senior sheriff’s official said.

The team also has an open criminal inquiry into a nonprofit that is run by a member of a county board that oversees the sheriff and is associated with county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, both of whom have clashed fiercely with Villanueva and called for his resignation.
This internal hit squad has traveled so far out of bounds even notorious cop defenders don't feel like defending it. The LASD's union has warned the rank-and-file from interacting with the "Public Integrity Detail" due to some "unconventional" questioning tactics when speaking to officers. And the DA says it's so obviously dirty he wants nothing to do with it.

This is the Thin Blue Line, and it is corrupt, and oft murderous.

This culture needs to be expunged from society.

Good Point

Award winning Science Fiction writer Ted Chiang has an interesting perspective on the threat that many folks in tech think is posed by the development of artificial intelligence.

Specifically, he notes that the behavior of a rogue murderous AI is indistinguishable from a Silicon Valley startup.

When one looks at the characteristics of the T-800 from the Terminator, they do match those of a Silicon Valley startup: 

This summer, Elon Musk spoke to the National Governors Association and told them that “AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.” Doomsayers have been issuing similar warnings for some time, but never before have they commanded so much visibility. Musk isn’t necessarily worried about the rise of a malicious computer like Skynet from The Terminator. Speaking to Maureen Dowd for a Vanity Fair article published in April, Musk gave an example of an artificial intelligence that’s given the task of picking strawberries. It seems harmless enough, but as the AI redesigns itself to be more effective, it might decide that the best way to maximize its output would be to destroy civilization and convert the entire surface of the Earth into strawberry fields. Thus, in its pursuit of a seemingly innocuous goal, an AI could bring about the extinction of humanity purely as an unintended side effect.

This scenario sounds absurd to most people, yet there are a surprising number of technologists who think it illustrates a real danger. Why? Perhaps it’s because they’re already accustomed to entities that operate this way: Silicon Valley tech companies.

Consider: Who pursues their goals with monomaniacal focus, oblivious to the possibility of negative consequences? Who adopts a scorched-earth approach to increasing market share? This hypothetical strawberry-picking AI does what every tech startup wishes it could do — grows at an exponential rate and destroys its competitors until it’s achieved an absolute monopoly. The idea of superintelligence is such a poorly defined notion that one could envision it taking almost any form with equal justification: a benevolent genie that solves all the world’s problems, or a mathematician that spends all its time proving theorems so abstract that humans can’t even understand them. But when Silicon Valley tries to imagine superintelligence, what it comes up with is no-holds-barred capitalism.

………

Insight is precisely what Musk’s strawberry-picking AI lacks, as do all the other AIs that destroy humanity in similar doomsday scenarios. I used to find it odd that these hypothetical AIs were supposed to be smart enough to solve problems that no human could, yet they were incapable of doing something most every adult has done: taking a step back and asking whether their current course of action is really a good idea. Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations. Corporations don’t operate autonomously, of course, and the humans in charge of them are presumably capable of insight, but capitalism doesn’t reward them for using it. On the contrary, capitalism actively erodes this capacity in people by demanding that they replace their own judgment of what “good” means with “whatever the market decides.”

We already have soulless automata who will pursue their twisted agendas with no regard for human life, and they are called corporations.

I think that they might be a more immediate threat.

We Have Found the Best Political Ad of This Election Cycle

They are running an advertisement in the Governor's race in New Jersey. 

It appears that Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican candidate, he spearheaded an effort to ban swearing when he was Raritan Borough Councilman.

In New Jersey.

Seriously, what the f%$3 is this guy's problem.

Its INCREDIBLY low hanging fruit for opposition research, and they ran with it:.

This is beautiful.

Well, This Is Old School

Seriously, people go postal every day now, but to have someone go postal at an actual post office, that hearkens back to the days of the George Herbert Walker Bush administration.

Well, it happened this evening:

Three employees have died after a shooting at a postal carrier facility in Memphis' Orange Mound neighborhood Tuesday afternoon.

Among the dead at the United States Postal Service facility is the suspected shooter, who died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Lisa-Anne Culp, a spokesperson for the FBI.

I hate the fact that we live in a society where this is notable only because it invokes a sort of perverse nostalgia.

There is something profoundly wrong with out society..