29 November 2012

A Lesson in Economic Statistics from the Shrill One

Paul Krugman explains why Italian productivity has fallen precipitously over the past decade or so:
Dean Baker, in correspondence, makes an interesting point about the mysterious productivity collapse in Italy — namely, that a big chunk of it could be a statistical illusion. This is always something you should consider when you see something strange in economic data.

Here’s the story: Italy, with its combination of extensive regulations and weak enforcement, used to have a lot of “black labor” — workers who weren’t on the books, so as to evade various government-imposed requirements. But then came reforms that made keeping part-time workers, etc., on the books less onerous — and the hidden labor came into the open. Measured GDP wasn’t affected, because statisticians were already making imputations for the shadow economy; so the result was a decline in measured productivity.
It's a reasonable explanation.  It's not like Italy has stopped being Italy since 1995.

Entering the Euro zone has brought changes, but nothing that would have their actual productivity dropping off a cliff like this graph pr0n.

I Don't Know Whether to Feel Schadenfreude, or to be Appalled

I'm not q big fan the USPTO's tendency to grant a patent to everything these days, and I'm even less of a fan of Apples use of its patent portfolio as an alternative new ideas, but the folks at Cuppertino just got hit with a completely bogus patent claim:
An apparent shell company has filed a $3 million patent infringement lawsuit against Apple for including headphones with its iPhones.

A company called Intelligent Smart Phones Concepts sued Apple last week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Apple infringed on U.S. Patent No. 7,373,182. The abstract for "Wireless Mobile Phone Including a Headset" describes an interface that allows a removable headset "to receive at least telephony audio signals from the phone, and to provide audio signals to the phone."
Seriously, keep patent examiners away from toilet paper, because they will sign off on anything.

EU to Spanish Consumers Defrauded by Banks: Drop Dead

So Spanish banks lied to their customers, selling them preferred shares and telling them that they were government insured accounts, and now the EU is requiring that they get wiped out as part of a bailout:
Yves here. We’ve flagged in earlier posts how the Spanish banking crisis had the potential to become destabilizing politically, as if Spain wasn’t already at considerable risk of upheaval. Spanish depositors were pushed to convert their deposits into preference shares, which they were told were just as safe. That of course was never true.

This was a simple desperation move by the banks to save their own skins, customers be damned, by raising equity from the most unsophisticated source to which they had access. And now that that gambit failed, these shareholders are due to have those investments wiped out unless the Spanish authorities can cut a deal to spare them. The conditions of a bank rescue, which Spain did try to resist, was to have equity holders wiped out, or at least haircut. And that plan is now about to be set in motion. Having losses imposed on small savers who were in many cases conned by their own bank to buy these preference shares is going to do serious harm as well as further delegitimate the government.
Remember that quote from the Icelandic President? It's only two posts down.

He's right: bail out the people and jail the bankers.

I Gotta Cut Down on the Coffee

I was at work, and I was looking at a hinged plastic (Pelican type) case with some custom padding in it.

We are putting custom padding in the case so that we can ship equipment to the customer.  (No more details)

I was trying to figure out why it was harder to closer than the earlier ones did, so I was loading the equipment , and then trying to load it without the equipment.

Eventually, I determined that there was not something interfering with the equipment, which might crush some delicate electronics, but that the hinge was a bit different, but that's not a problem, because it does not clamp the equipment any more tightly.

I was using a sheet of paper as a sort of a feeler gauge in order to figure out where the interference was, and a co-worker walked up behind me and said something to the effect of, "Everything OK with the case?"

I yelped loudly, and jumped about 6 inches in the air, which stunned the hell out of both of us, and then we both started laughing, as I said, "Too much coffee."

I think I might have been hyper-focusing a bit,

It's Jobless Thursday?

Initial claims fell by 23,000 to 393,000.

We are still getting too much noise from hurricane/superstorm Sandy, I think that maybe by the 2nd week of December we will be getting good data.

Deep Thought

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

28 November 2012

Holy Sh%$, We Are Running out of Gullible Idiots

I understand that all resources are finite, but I never thought that it would apply to human gullibility and stupidity, indicating a continuing fall in trading volume.

His explanation is that we are finally running out of rubes willing to trust Wall Street:
The uptrend bit is easy: volumes, at least until 2009, always went up over time, especially when they were helped along by things like decimalization and high-frequency trading. But what explains the downtrend? It’s not the decreasing number of stocks: that might explain a bit of what’s going on in the US, but it wouldn’t explain the rest of the world.

Instead, I think that what we’re seeing is the slow death of the stock-market investor — the kind of person who subscribes to Barron’s, idolizes Warren Buffett, and thinks of stock-market investing as a do-it-yourself enterprise. During the dot-com bubble, lots of people thought they were really smart when it came to stock-market investing, and then after the dot-com bubble burst, the rise of discount brokerages helped encourage new people to step in to the market and try their luck.

Nowadays, however, the message is sinking in: it’s a rigged game, you can’t win, and you’re better off with a passive strategy.
It is very hard for me to believe, but the idea that Wall Street is finally running out of hard-working, regular folks who are willing to be cheated is not an unreasonable thesis given this data.

Telco Breakup Has Hit the Mainstream

Because it's hit the New York Times:
Since 1974, when the Justice Department sued to break up the Ma Bell phone monopoly, Americans have been told that competition in telecommunications would produce innovation, better service and lower prices.

What we’ve witnessed instead is low-quality service and prices that are higher than a truly competitive market would bring.

After a brief fling with competition, ownership has reconcentrated into a stodgy duopoly of Bell Twins — AT&T and Verizon. Now, thanks to new government rules, each in effect has become the leader of its own cartel.

The AT&T-DirectTV and Verizon-Bright House-Cox-Comcast-TimeWarner behemoths market what are known as “quad plays”: the phone companies sell mobile services jointly with the “triple play” of Internet, telephone and television connections, which are often provided by supposedly competing cable and satellite companies. And because AT&T’s and Verizon’s own land-based services operate mostly in discrete geographic markets, each cartel rules its domain as a near monopoly.

The result of having such sweeping control of the communications terrain, naturally, is that there is little incentive for either player to lower prices, make improvements to service or significantly invest in new technologies and infrastructure. And that, in turn, leaves American consumers with a major disadvantage compared with their counterparts in the rest of the world.

On average, for instance, a triple-play package that bundles Internet, telephone and television sells for $160 a month with taxes. In France the equivalent costs just $38. For that low price the French also get long distance to 70 foreign countries, not merely one; worldwide television, not just domestic; and an Internet that’s 20 times faster uploading data and 10 times faster downloading it.
It's not from their editorial board, it's from former Times correspondent David Cay Johnston, whose beat is consumer protection and tax loopholes, but the fact that anyone gets space in the "Gray Lady" to suggest that deregulation will not create a telecommunications utopia is worth noting.

Irony, You're Soaking in It!

So, some neighborhoods in New York were set up as completely private. Their streets were private, and everything was behind fences.

Well, after hurricane Sandy, they are asking for a bailout:
Sea Gate looks the same as many storm-scattered waterfront communities do. Home after home torn apart by the ocean. Streets filled with sand. Shattered sidewalks and clogged sewers. A sea wall, which had already been inadequate to the task of safeguarding residents, reduced to rubble.

Ordinarily, New York City or other governmental entities might take over the tasks of restoring a middle-class neighborhood like this. But Sea Gate, with its 850 homes on Coney Island’s western tip, is not an ordinary neighborhood. It is a 113-year-old private, gated community, where the razor-wire-topped fences and armed security checkpoints that keep outsiders from its streets, beaches and parks serve as a constant reminder that the residents of this community have chosen to live somewhat apart.

Once the gilded retreat of the Vanderbilt family, Sea Gate, like other gated communities in New York, preserved its exclusivity with the promise that the residents would assume the costs of community upkeep, maintaining their own streets, parks and sewer systems and even fielding the distinct Sea Gate Police Department.

The special status endured, through occasional controversy and political efforts to open the streets to the public, because of the community’s self-sufficiency.

But the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy to Sea Gate, in Brooklyn, and another gated community, Breezy Point, in Queens, was so monumental that residents who are already struggling to figure out how they will pay to rebuild their homes say they cannot afford to pay the additional cost of repairing communal infrastructure. So neighborhoods that have long held the rest of the city at arm’s length now seek the financial embrace of the city, state and federal governments.
This is not public infrastructure, it's private infrastructure.

They don't have streets, they have a communal driveway. If they wanted it protected, they should have had insurance.

If they want public help for their private property, then the public needs PUBLIC access to those streets.

The city has already bulldozed sand off the streets and vacuumed sand out of the storm drains, and until their public spaces are once again public, that should be it.

H/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Who Says that Irony is Dead?

Donald Trump is suggesting that Republicans need to be more appealing to minorities.

Jeebus. Guy did everything but use the "N-word" to describe Barack Obama.

27 November 2012

Because No One in Washington Believes In Public Works for the Public Good

Duncan Black wonders why Obama's infrastructure plans have so much added complexity in order to accommodate private investors:
I like me some infrastructure spending. I do not know why the government, which can borrow money for free, needs a rube goldberg machine with added middlemen to make it happen.
This one is simple: There is a Washington consensus about public projects these days, it's that giving some rich dude the opportunity to earn a profit at taxpayer expense, is essential because of capitalism.

What are you a commie pinko or something?

Yes, the free market mousketeers are basically corrupt ratf%$#s.

BTW, that is one seriously fat cat.

Your Morment of Eric Arthur Blair*

Barack Obama, who has prosecuted more whistle blowers under the espionage act than all the Presidents combined, just signed the whistleblower protection act:
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is praising President Obama's signing of S. 743, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), into law earlier today. The legislation provides millions of federal workers with the rights they need to report government corruption and wrongdoing safely. The bill reflects an unequivocal bipartisan consensus, having received the vote of every member in the 112th Congress, passing both the Senate and House of Representatives by unanimous consent over the past couple of months. The text of the bill can be read here.
It's like something out of The Onion.

*You know, George Orwell.

No, I Was Not Arrested Today

Yes, I know that there was a a naked protest at John Boehners office today, against cuts in AIDS funding, but I was not involved in this.

If I had been there, and got naked, and had my hairy ass hauled into jail, the newspaper stories would have included the phrase, "A protester in a Wookie costume."

That is all.

26 November 2012

My God, Actual Regulation!

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has effectively shut down Intrade, the online gambling house futures trading exchange, for US investors:
Facing accusations that it allowed American investors to bet on the outcome of wars and other world events without the blessing of regulators, Intrade announced on Monday that it was closing its Web site to United States residents.

The disclosure, which referred to "legal and regulatory pressures," was released hours after American authorities sued the company, which is based in Dublin, over its popular trading network. Investors log on to Intrade by the thousands to bet on the outcomes of elections, the weather and even whether the United States will bomb Iran.

But in a civil complaint filed in federal court in Washington, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission took aim at the company and an affiliate for offering the contracts outside traditional exchanges and without regulatory approval. The agency also accused the companies of "making false statements" to regulators and violating a past order barring it from offering so-called prediction contracts outside traditional exchanges.

"Unfortunately this means that all U.S. residents must begin the process of closing down their Intrade accounts," the company said on its Web site. "We understand this announcement may come as a surprise and a disappointment, and we apologize for the short notice and haste required to deal with this."
I'm stunned.

I'm pleased, but I am stunned.

It's a refutation of the philosophy of the "free-market mousketeers" who are inclined to allow all kinds of crazy sh%$ to pretend to be high finance, as opposed to a particularly abusive casino, in which the house takes even more than Vegas.

BTW, Intrade's record sucked too, witness the gyrations in the 2008 Democratic and 2012 Republican primary markets.


Will President Obama Restore the Rule of Law During His Second Term?

This has been another episode of simple answers simple questions.

Not Enough Bullets

If I were Al Sharpton, I'd be Screaming at Her
Remember Carly Fiorina?  The former CEO of HP?  The one who first came to prominence by presiding over massive accounting irregularities masquerading as blockbuster sales at Lucent?

Well, when she got fired as CEO, HP employees are reported to have spontaneously burst into song, specifically the song Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.

I'm sure that she cried all the way to the bank, because she got a $40 million dollar golden parachute.

She knows what the problem with the good old USA is, it's that public employees' unions have it too good: (at about 3 minutes into the video.
Carly Fiorina, who reportedly stood to receive more than $42 million after being ousted at HP in 2005, says that public workers should receive less benefits because “it is not fair” that unions are “so rich.”

During a Sunday panel segment on NBC, MSNBC host Al Sharpton asserted that Congress must agree to raise taxes on the wealthy before cutting spending.

“This is about fairness,” he explained. “Why do we need to need to deal with the tax on the rich first? Because we must ensure Americans we are dealing with fairness. We keep talking about shared sacrifice, there was not shared wealth and shared prosperity. So, you’re asking people that didn’t enjoy the good times to share in paying for the tab that they never enjoyed.”
Most of the American public might think that a an unbroken record of failure, capped by a $40 million golden parachute might be a bigger problem than the the deferred compensation known as a mortgage.

Seriously, business management seems to be a petri dish for sociopaths.

H/t Chris in Paris at Americablog.

Someone Here Should Be Going to Jail, and It Ain't Kim Dotcom

It turns out that most of the evidence in the case against Kim Dotcom and Megaupload was kept on their servers at the request of the US government:
A fresh legal bid to throw out the case against Kim Dotcom in the United States is being made after claims of an FBI double-cross.

Evidence has emerged showing the Department of Homeland Security served a search warrant on Mr Dotcom's file-sharing company Megaupload in 2010 which he claims forced it to preserve pirated movies found in an unrelated piracy investigation.

The 39 files were identified during an investigation into the NinjaVideo website, which had used Megaupload's cloud storage to store pirated movies.


Mr Dotcom said Megaupload co-operated with the US Government investigation into copyright pirates NinjaVideo and was legally unable to delete the 39 movies identified in the search warrant.

Mr Dotcom said: "We were informed by (the US Government) we were not to interfere with the investigation. We completely co-operated.


The FBI application to seize the sites said the "Mega Conspiracy" members were told by "criminal search warrant" in June 2010 "that 39 infringing copies of copyrighted motion pictures were present on their leased servers". The application was approved to allow the seizure of the domain names.
Someone was outright lying to judges in both the United States and New Zealand in order to do a favor for the pukes at the MPAA.

This is what happens when you make the conscious decision to use the powers of government as the enforcement arm of private interests.

It is inherently corrupt, and inherently corrupting.

(on edit)

If you want to make the argument that the MPAA is just being a zealous protector of its client studios, it's not.  It's about power.

If the movie studios were to look at the effect of low levels of file sharing, like that which was done by some Megaupload customers, they would know that shutting down the file storage site cost them money:
A new paper suggests that box office revenues were negatively impacted after the shutdown of Megaupload. The dip in revenues was most visible for average size and smaller films. According to the researchers this may have been caused by the loss of word-of-mouth promotion by people who used the popular file-hosting site to share movies. For blockbuster movies the Megaupload shutdown had the opposite effect.

In common with every file-sharing service, Megaupload was used by some of its members to host copyright-infringing movies.

For this reason the MPAA was one of the main facilitators of the Megaupload investigation, which ultimately led to the shutdown of the company in January.

The movie industry was quick to praise the government’s actions, but a new report suggests that Megaupload’s demise actually resulted in lower box office revenues.

Researchers from Munich School of Management and Copenhagen Business School published a short paper titled “Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload.” The study analyzes weekly data from 1344 movies in 49 countries over a five-year period, to asses the impact of the Megaupload shutdown on movie theater visits.

The researchers theorize that some films may actually benefit from piracy due to word of mouth promotion, and their findings partly support this idea.
So some level of file sharing can help, particularly with smaller films, like indie films.

There appears to be less/no benefit to larger films, probably because most of the studio blockbusters are crap, and so word of mouth is a bad thing.

This is not about protecting the artist. This is about protecting the do-nothing job of the studio chief's brother in law.

Or, to be a little bit less flip, it's about shutting down potential distribution and publicity channels that threaten the movie and record distributors' ability act as an intermediary and charge a toll.

Signs of the Apocalypse

The fact that I am actually approvingly quoting American Conservative magazine.

Specifically, I am quoting an article by Bruce Bartlett, in which he excoriates the modern Republican Party for going completely bat sh%$ insane:

A couple of weeks before the 2004 election, Suskind wrote a long article for the New York Times Magazine that quoted some of my comments to him that were highly critical of Bush and the drift of Republican policy. The article is best remembered for his quote from an anonymous White House official dismissing critics like me for being “the reality-based community.”

The day after the article appeared, my boss called to chew me out, saying that Karl Rove had called him personally to complain about it. I promised to be more circumspect in the future.

Interestingly, a couple of days after the Suskind article appeared, I happened to be at a reception for some right-wing organization that many of my think tank friends were also attending. I assumed I would get a lot of grief for my comments in the Suskind article and was surprised when there was none at all.

Finally, I started asking people about it. Not one person had read it or cared in the slightest what the New York Times had to say about anything. They all viewed it as having as much credibility as Pravda and a similar political philosophy as well. Some were indignant that I would even suspect them of reading a left-wing rag such as the New York Times.

I was flabbergasted. Until that moment I had not realized how closed the right-wing mind had become. Even assuming that my friends’ view of the Times’ philosophy was correct, which it most certainly was not, why would they not want to know what their enemy was thinking? This was my first exposure to what has been called “epistemic closure” among conservatives—living in their own bubble where nonsensical ideas circulate with no contradiction.


I later learned that the order to ignore me extended throughout Rupert Murdoch’s empire. For example, I stopped being quoted in the Wall Street Journal.* Awhile back, a reporter who left the Journal confirmed to me that the paper had given her orders not to mention me. Other dissident conservatives, such as David Frum and Andrew Sullivan, have told me that they are banned from Fox as well. More epistemic closure.


I hit upon the idea of ignoring the academic journals and looking instead at what economists like John Maynard Keynes, Irving Fisher, and others said in newspaper interviews and articles for popular publications. Recently computerized databases made such investigation far easier than it previously had been.

After careful research along these lines, I came to the annoying conclusion that Keynes had been 100 percent right in the 1930s. Previously, I had thought the opposite. But facts were facts and there was no denying my conclusion. It didn’t affect the argument in my book, which was only about the rise and fall of ideas. The fact that Keynesian ideas were correct as well as popular simply made my thesis stronger.


For the record, no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy’s problems than Paul Krugman. The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades.


For the record, no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy’s problems than Paul Krugman. The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades.
This is a particularly deep vein of schadenfreude.

25 November 2012


Grace under pressure
In protest of increasing management interference in the news (primarily of the right wing variety) two co-anchors on stations WVII and WFVX in Bangor, Maine, announced their resignations on the air, and later cited excessive management interference in the news process:
Citing a longstanding battle with upper management over journalistic practices at their Bangor TV stations, news co-anchors Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio announced their resignations at the end of Tuesday’s 6 p.m. newscast.

Michaels and Consiglio, who have a combined 12½ years’ service at WVII (Channel 7) and sister station WFVX (Channel 22), shocked staff members and viewers with their joint resignations Tuesday evening.

“I just wanted to know that I was doing the best job I could and was being honest and ethical as a journalist, and I thought there were times when I wasn’t able to do that,” said Consiglio, a northeastern Connecticut native who broke in with WVII as a sports reporter in April 2006.

Not everyone was shocked by the on-air resignations.

“No, that was unfortunate, but not unexpected,” said Mike Palmer, WVII/WFVX vice president and general manager. “We’ll hire experienced people to fill these positions sooner rather than later.”

Neither reporter had told anyone of their decisions before Tuesday’s newscast.

“We figured if we had tendered our resignations off the air, we would not have been allowed to say goodbye to the community on the air and that was really important for us to do that,” said Michaels, the station’s news director, who has spent six of her 15 years in Bangor’s radio and TV market at WVII.

Both Michaels, 46, and Consiglio, 28, said frustration over the way they were allowed or told to do their jobs — something that has been steadily mounting for the last four years — became too much for them.
For what it's worth, Mike Palmer, the aforementioned general manager, got some national ink in 2006, when he issued an edict forbidding any coverage of anthropogenic climate change until, "Bar Harbor is underwater."

The fact that they surprised management by quitting on the air is telling.  They knew that the could not trust them.

Big surprise that one of the stations is a Fox affiliate.

H/t A Siegel at the big orange Borg.

24 November 2012


There are indications that MDMA (aka Ecstasy, E, X, and XTC) is showing promise in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder, and limited clinical trials have been ordered:
Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress have recently contacted a husband-and-wife team who work in suburban South Carolina to seek help. Many are desperate, pleading for treatment and willing to travel to get it.

The soldiers have no interest in traditional talking cures or prescription drugs that have given them little relief. They are lining up to try an alternative: MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, a party drug that surfaced in the 1980s and ’90s that can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection. Government regulators criminalized the drug in 1985, placing it on a list of prohibited substances that includes heroin and LSD. But in recent years, regulators have licensed a small number of labs to produce MDMA for research purposes.
(emphasis mine)

I'm an engineer, not a doctor, dammit,* so I really don't have an informed opinion as to the therapeutic value of the drug, but when one considers the fact that THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in Marijuana) is denied this sort of research exemption, despite the fact that therapeutic effects have been fairly conclusively shown with Glaucoma and Multiple Sclerosis, as well as indications that it, much like MDMA, might be effective in the treatment of PTSD, it seems to me that something is seriously out of kilter with this process.

*I Love It when I get to go all Doctor McCoy!!!

I Hear Talibaptist Heads Exploding

I have a feeling that they will not appreciate this ad:

23 November 2012

Matt Taibbi is Right

When he observes that Paula Broadwell's hagiography of David Petraeus was indistinguishable from what the rest of what the press corps said:
The book is so one-sided that it is almost supernaturally dull, and I was forgetting about it just minutes after I put it down.

Then it hit me – it was an interesting book, after all! Because if you read All In carefully, the book's tone will remind you of pretty much any other authorized bio of any major figure in business or politics (particularly in business), and it will most particularly remind you of almost any Time or Newsweek famous-statesperson profile.

Which means: it's impossible to tell the difference between the tone of a reporter who we now know was literally sucking the dick of her subject and the tone of just about any other modern American reporter who is given access to a powerful person for a biography or feature-length profile
.(Emphasis Mine)

Modern American journalism, by which I mean access journalism, where sucking up to highly placed sources trump shoe leather and intellect is deeply flawed.

22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Celebrated by having a turkey dinner with my wife's mom, aunt, and uncle.

We had a good time, and we discovered that Agave nectar is a good substitute for corn syrup in pecan pie.

This its a good thing, because Sharon, Natalie, and Charlie all have various levels of allergies to corn, but everyone can eat this variant.

I have been off my laptop all day, snag I am not turning it on now.

Posted via mobile.

21 November 2012

I Saw Skyfall Tonight

Family was in town for Thanksgiving, so we all went to see the new Bond film, Skyfall

Daniel Craig ... James Bond
Judi Dench Judi Dench ... M
Javier Bardem ... Silva
Ralph Fiennes ... Gareth Mallory
Naomie Harris ... Eve
Bérénice Marlohe ... Sévérine
Albert Finney ... Kincade
Ben Whishaw ... Q

Skyfall is a very good movie, though I'm not sure that it's good Bond per se.

It does not feel like a Bond movie. It feels more like a police procedural, with a bit of John Le Carre and the Bourne movies.

It's very well done though, and much more character driven than any other Bond movie that I've seen. We do get a much more complete picture of James Bond, who he is, and why he is who he is than we have ever gotten before.

My initial impressions:
  • Daniel Craig is magnetic. 
  • Javier Bardem was wonderful to watch, but I wasn't impressed by the character. As a Bond villain, he was a bit "meh", and the attempt to graft in some sexual kinks seemed forced.
  • Albert Finney had a relatively small role, but it was important all the same, it provides a lot of the insight into Bond's character, and he's just plain fun to watch. (He is also clearly enjoying himself while on camera)
  • Ben Whishaw was good as a very geeky "Q".
  • Ralph Finnes was a complex and watchable character.
  • Judy Dench was kind of playing Judy Dench more than she was playing "M".
Recommended. I'd call it 8 out of 10.

No other blogging today.

20 November 2012

We are So Lucky that Petraeus is Done

Because his goal at the CIA was to get out of the intelligence collection and analysis business, so that he could go fully into the assassination business, or as Marcy Wheeler puts it, "moar dronz":
When I saw DHS is acquiring more drones this morning, I joked that the policy response of government agencies when they fail at their core function is to ask for more drones.


I swear, when I made that joke, I had not yet read how the CIA closed its climate change center because David Petraeus thought it more important to hunt terrorists with drones.

The center was designed as a small unit of senior specialists focused on the impact that environmental changes could have on political, economic and social factors in countries of concern to the United States. The analysts probed questions such as, under what scenarios might a massive drought cause large-scale migration, and when might a government’s failure to respond to a devastating flood open the door for terrorist groups to win over the local populace?

Analysts at the center worked to develop warning software that combined regional climate projections with political and demographic information, and held climate war games looking at what might happen in extreme scenarios, such as if rapid glacial melt caused the ocean’s major currents to shut down.

The center didn’t focus on the science behind climate change but instead relied on data from other government agencies as well as recommendations — including ones in a report released just over a week ago — from the National Academy of Sciences (Greenwire, Nov. 9).

But congressional Republicans skeptical of the science behind climate change sought to block the center’s funding shortly after it was launched. Those efforts failed, but sources say the center received little internal support after Panetta left the CIA in 2011 to take the top job at the Defense Department. Under his successor, David Petraeus, the agency was highly focused on terrorism, specifically targeted killings using armed drones. [my (Wheeler's) emphasis]
The diddling Director, it seems, thought taking out an American teenager with a drone was more important than responding to a crisis that is already leading to migration and increased credibility for terrorist groups.

Even without the devastating take down of Petraeus's record by Michael Hastings,* the reporter who took down General Stanley McCrystal, it's pretty clear that we as a nation are in a much better position with someone, anyone, else at the helm of the CIA.

*The nickel tour of Hastings:  Iraq surge was the aiding and abetting ethnic cleansing, his bronze star was political in nature, the Afghan surge was a failure, his first tour in Iraq (training security forces) was a miasma of corruption and weapons going to death squads.

Quote of the Day

H/t Bluegal at C&L.

An Open Letter to Anonymous

Anonymous, or someone purporting to be Anonymous is claiming that they thwarted attempts by Karl Rove and other Republican activists to hack electronic voting systems in swing states.

Let me make this clear: I would like to talk to you, or to a representative.

I do not know if this legitimately from anonymous or not, and I'd like to get clarification.

If true, I'd love to have the goods on whoever attempted to hack the vote.

You could contact email, Skype, some form of secure chat, stretched string and a paper cup, or a f%$#ing carrier pigeon.

Obviously, I have no way to know if the claims are true, but I'd love to hear from you.

And yes, I know that this is serious tinfoil hat stuff.

Full letter follows.

Journalists Who Should Be Working as Pastry Chefs

Declan Mccullagh, everyone's favorite "Draw by crayon Libertarian,"* has a scoop.  That Senator Pat Leahy had an amendment to the privacy bill in his committee that would allow warrantless access to your electronic communications by a big honking number of federal agencies.

One small problem though, he got his hands on an out of date draft that had never been seriously considered, and was not put forward by Leahy:
This would be particularly disturbing in the wake of the scandal surrounding Generals Petraeus and Allen, whose emails were exposed during a wide-ranging and questionable FBI investigation and have brought the discussion of limits on the surveillance state to the fore. But when reached by phone, Patrick Leahy’s spokesperson David Carle bluntly said the article was “wrong.”

The version of the bill that Declan McCullagh excerpts in his report appears to be one of many that have been drafted and passed around, but is not a version that would be considered seriously at a hearing to review the bill next week.

“Senator Leahy does not support broad carve outs for warrantless searches of email content,” says a Senate Judiciary aide. “He remains committed to upholding privacy laws and updating the outdated Electronic Privacy Communications Act.”

A person who has been privy to conversations about the impending bill intended to update privacy protections around digital communications for the modern age said that this was a “snapshot of a discussion point” and that it’s inaccurate to say it’s the version being pushed forward. This particular draft of the bill incorporates amendments suggested by Senator Chuck Grassley who has expressed concern that too much privacy protection for our email could negatively impact safety tasks.
OK, That's a bit of an oops.

So, he accused Pat Leahy of trying to take away our privacy rights on the basis of a draft from Charles Grassley. ……… Oops.

What is Mccullagh's response to all of this? He claims that his story forced Leahy to change his bill:
Sen. Patrick Leahy has abandoned his controversial proposal that would grant government agencies more surveillance power -- including warrantless access to Americans' e-mail accounts -- than they possess under current law.

The Vermont Democrat said today on Twitter that he would "not support such an exception" for warrantless access. The remarks came a few hours after a CNET article was published this morning that disclosed the existence of the measure.
Not even a mention of reports that it was never a real amendment, and that Chuck Grassley was the author of the draft.

So, he took a draft from a Republican, one that is consistent with that Senator's history, and ascribed it to a Democrat, because, you know, Democrats are evil!

Not surprising.

Declan McCullagh was one of the chief promoters of the "Al Gore invented the Internet meme."

His editors need to smack him upside the head with a clue-by-four, and tell him to get the facts straight.

*Not my bon mot. It's from the always entertaining Andrew Orlowski of The Register.

19 November 2012

Please, Do This

In 1968, my father said, "Those stupid bastards, they've nominated Nixon. There's no way that they will win now."

He was, of course, spectacularly wrong, but I feel much more secure in saying that I support Charlotte Allen's call for Sarah Palin to be the 2016 Republican nominee:
The Republican Party has been doing a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing since the presidential election. Half the conservative columnists and bloggers say the GOP lost because it overemphasized social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. The other half says the party didn't emphasize them enough. And everyone denounces Project ORCA, the campaign's attempt to turn out voters via technology.

But I've got a suggestion for cutting short the GOP angst: Sarah Palin for president in 2016.

You think I'm joking? Think again.
Read the rest of the article. There's not a bit of snark. She's serious.

I so want to see this.

I think that we could have a 40 state Democratic victory.

The difference between Palin and Nixon is two fold:  She's as dumb as a bag of hammers, and she believes her own PR.

I'm Surprised that It Made It a Full Day

The far right wing caucus of the Republican Party (I know, it buggers the mind), released a paper saying that the current copyright regime destroys markets, and needs to be reformed:
Right after the Presidential election last week, Chris Sprigman and Kal Raustiala penned an opinion piece suggesting that one way the Republicans could "reset", and actually attract the youth vote, would be to become the party of copyright reform. We had actually wondered if that was going to happen back during the SOPA fight, when it was the Republicans who bailed on the bill, while most of those who kept supporting it were Democrats. Since then, however, there hadn't been much movement. Until now. Late on Friday, the Republican Study Committee, which is the caucus for the House Republicans, released an amazing document debunking various myths about copyright law and suggesting key reforms.
Among other things, it stated that the purpose of copyright is to benefit society, not to provide a revenue stream to content owners, and among other things, calls for an expansion of fair use.

Basically, they said all the things that I have been saying for years.

Have no fear though. Less than 24 hours later, the IP Mafia browbeat them into withdrawing the report.

Well, there's another chance to pick up the youth vote that they just pissed away.

H/t Firedog Lake;

A copy of the Report from the Republican Study Committee after the break:

It Appears that the Afghans Fault US On Our Commitment to Human Rights

Because Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered a takeover of the prison at Bagram:
President Hamid Karzai ordered Afghan forces to take control of the American-built Bagram Prison and accused American officials of violating an agreement to fully transfer the facility to the Afghans, according to a statement from his office on Monday.

The move came after what Mr. Karzai said was the expiration of a two-month grace period, agreed to by President Obama, to complete the transfer of the prison at Bagram Air Base.

At issue in particular are 57 prisoners held there who had been acquitted by the Afghan courts but who have been held by American officials at the prison for more than a month in defiance of release orders, Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for President Karzai, said in an interview.

Afghan officials were also concerned about the status of new detainees being captured by American troops. The Afghans feel those detainees should be transferred to their control under the deal signed by the two countries this year.

Mr. Faizi said hundreds of new prisoners were being held by American authorities in a closed-off section of Bagram Prison, which the American military calls the Detention Facility in Parwan. American forces, mainly Special Operations troops carrying out night raids, have been arresting more than 100 suspected insurgents a month, Afghan officials said.
So we are being lectured with justification about our commitment to human rights by Hamid f%$#ing Karzai.

God Bless America

There is a Difference Between a Conservative Democrat and a Disloyal Democrat

That's Gotta Leavea Mark!
Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, and on the list for the 2016 nominee, appears to have been actively working to maintain a Republican majority in the state senate:
IIf the New York state Senate remains controlled by the Republican Party, it won’t be because of the voters. Democrats have 30 seats, with 32 required for a majority. They’re also ahead in two races currently being recounted. Simcha Felder, who won a Senate seat on the Democratic and Conservative Party lines in Brooklyn, has already announced that he will caucus with the Republicans. If the Democrats end up with a majority, there is a good chance a bunch of conservative Democrats will switch parties to ensure that the GOP retains control. One guy who’s staying conspicuously out of the fight: Democratic governor and 2016 presidential contender Andrew Cuomo.
But it’s not just that Cuomo’s not trying to help his party win a majority that voters actually voted for. He has at times actively hindered their chances. Cuomo signed off on gerrymandered state Senate districts and did not demand independent, nonpartisan redrawing. In doing so he intended to preserve the status quo — Republicans in charge of the state Senate, Democrats in charge of the more representative assembly — but voters in New York pretty clearly decided that they preferred Democrats in charge of both houses, even with districts drawn specifically to make that nearly impossible.
And if Republicans get their majority, with the tacit support of Cuomo, the governor will have once again shown that he is not the progressive figure he will likely try to sell himself as if he runs for president. His tenure so far has been marked by flashy liberal victories on issues like gay marriage, along with a quietly conservative economic agenda: A property tax cap, total neglect of mass transit, and (partial) support for fracking. Even on economic issues where Cuomo has more liberal priorities, he rarely pushes his Republican friends particularly hard. (A Republican-controlled state Senate will almost certainly block a minimum wage increase Cuomo ostensibly supports.) There’s a reason, in other words, that the National Review loves him.
You can also see Chris Hays unload a case of whup ass on him as well. (see vid)

Let's be clear here: In every case where Andrew Cuomo had to make a decision regarding the state senate, that decision cut to favor Republican control of the state senate to the maximum degree that political realities make it possible.

If there is a lesson to the Democratic party regarding the career of Joe Lieberman, it is that there is a difference between a conservative Democrat and a disloyal one.

Cuomo seems to be inclined toward the latter.

 I don't know who is going to be the Democratic nominee in 4 years, but I really hope that it is not him.

H/t Crooks and Liars.

18 November 2012

This Might Explain the Problems We Have With General Officer Corps

The Washington Post details the rock-star lifestyle of US General Officers (Generals and Admirals), and it goes a long way toward explaining some of the problems that exist with them.

Simply put, they have no connection to reality, and they have every incentive to delay their retirement well past the limits their usefulness:
Then-defense secretary Robert M. Gates stopped bagging his leaves when he moved into a small Washington military enclave in 2007. His next-door neighbor was Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, who had a chef, a personal valet and — not lost on Gates — troops to tend his property.

Gates may have been the civilian leader of the world’s largest military, but his position did not come with household staff. So, he often joked, he disposed of his leaves by blowing them onto the chairman’s lawn.

“I was often jealous because he had four enlisted people helping him all the time,” Gates said in response to a question after a speech Thursday. He wryly complained to his wife that “Mullen’s got guys over there who are fixing meals for him, and I’m shoving something into the microwave. And I’m his boss.”

Of the many facts that have come to light in the scandal involving former CIA director David H. Petraeus, among the most curious was that during his days as a four-star general, he was once escorted by 28 police motorcycles as he traveled from his Central Command headquarters in Tampa to socialite Jill Kelley’s mansion. Although most of his trips did not involve a presidential-size convoy, the scandal has prompted new scrutiny of the imperial trappings that come with a senior general’s lifestyle.

The commanders who lead the nation’s military services and those who oversee troops around the world enjoy an array of perquisites befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags, press their uniforms and track their schedules in 10-minute increments. Their food is prepared by gourmet chefs. If they want music with their dinner parties, their staff can summon a string quartet or a choir.

The elite regional commanders who preside over large swaths of the planet don’t have to settle for Gulfstream V jets. They each have a C-40, the military equivalent of a Boeing 737, some of which are configured with beds.
In a war zone, I could understand why a general might have someone to take care of ordinary day-to-day tasks, but for someone deployed to the wilds of Alexandria, Virginia, they can take out their own trash, and mow their own damn lawn.

The ratio of officers to enlisted men is not now 1:5.  For most of history, it was 1:10.  Additionally, we now have more general officers, with 1.5 million active duty military, than we did at the height of the 2nd world war when we had 12+ million men under arms.

The terms "top heavy" and "bloated" come to mind.

Deep Thought

H/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

17 November 2012

An Update of a Classic

Click for full size

Why Not Bullpup
It looks like the Russians are updating the AK series assault rifle: (Paid subscription required)
Russia's legendary Kalashnikov assault rifle may get a new lease on life as its designers try to improve the weapon's operational parameters and attract orders from the country's defense ministry and paramilitary agencies.

The iconic, original 7.62-mm AK-47 rifle entered service in 1949 and since then has undergone several modernizations, mainly aimed at increasing accuracy. The 5.45-mm AK-74M version from the 1990s remains the primary individual weapon for the Russian armed forces. Besides the smaller caliber it differs from the basic model only in its polymer forearm and side-folding buttstock, as well as an improved muzzle-recoil compensator.

However, despite reliability and simplicity in use and maintenance, the Russian military has never been happy with the rifle, because it demonstrated poor accuracy in unstable positions. The problems are due to the AK's design—its heavy internal mechanical parts move fast when the weapon is fired, producing heavy blowback that disrupts aim . The Avtomat Kalashnikova—or “AK,” as it is officially known—has also been criticized for poor ergonomics, including a nonadjustable buttstock. And use of optical or night sights, as well as other mounted equipment, was limited by the obsolete rail on the left side of the receive
The issue is that the source of the Rifle's legendary reliability, heavy parts traveling relatively long distances with lots of "wiggle" room, also adversely effect accuracy, because they shake the weapon as it fires.

The new rifle, the AK-12, tweaks the action, while improving ergonomics and adding a Picatinny style rail to mount accessories.

What is interesting here is how they are just tweaks, as opposed to some more ambitious developments which used counter-masses to mitigate the felt recoil.

Whiney Beotch of the Day: John McCain

Just in case you don't know, the entire Republican Jihad over Susan Rice and Benghazi is about two things: They desparetely want a real Obama scandal, and they realize that if they kill her nomination to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, then the likely alternative is John Kerry, which would open up the other Massachusetts Senate seat, to a run by Scott Brown.

Leading the charge are Lindsay "Mincing Fool" Graham, and John "McCrankypants" McCain, and now we find out that McCain skipped a classified briefing on Benghazi in order posture in front of the press:
I have to tell you something that just happened on Capitol Hill, and that is our senate producer Ted Barrett just ran into John McCain and asked about something that we’re hearing from Democrats, which is John McCain is calling for more information to Congress, but he had a press conference yesterday instead of going to a closed briefing where administration officials were giving more information. Well, Ted Barrett asked John McCain about that, and it was apparently an intense very angry exchange and McCain simply would not comment on it at all.
(Emphasis original)

John McCain seems to have spent most of his entire political career in a fit of pique directed at people who he thinks unfairly kept him from becoming president.


16 November 2012

Snatching defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Some people call the US Senate, "the World's greatest deliberative body". I call the US Senate, "A petri dish for narcissistic sociopaths," thanks to the need for unanimous consent (of failing that a vote of 60 Senators) to proceed.

Theoretically, the Senate Democrats can change filibuster rules by a simple majority vote at the start of the next Congress.

Unfortunately, it appears that Harry Reid does not have the votes to make a meaningful reform:
Democrats don’t have the 51 votes they need in the Senate to change filibuster rules that could make it harder for the GOP minority to wield power in the upper chamber.

Lawmakers leading the charge acknowledge they remain short, but express optimism they’ll hit their goal.

“I haven’t counted 51 just yet, but we’re working,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a leading proponent of the so-called constitutional or “nuclear” option, in which Senate rules could be changed by a majority vote.

“We’re building the momentum right now,” Udall said. “It’s hard to say at this point, but I think it’s looking very good. The last two years have really helped coalesce people’s minds around the idea that we need to change the way we do business.”

The problem for Udall and other supporters of filibuster reform is that many veteran Democratic senators remember when the filibuster was a useful tool in their years in the minority.

In the tradition-bound Senate, these veterans aren’t thrilled with changing the upper chamber’s rules, particularly with the use of the controversial constitutional option — which has never been used to change the chamber’s rules.
It's all well and good to respect Senate tradition, but part of that tradition was to use a bit of restraint, and using the filibuster for the little things.

It's sh%$ like this that makes people voting for Republicans.

As repugnant as their agenda, and their values, are at least Republicans are willing to fight for them.

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

Just one bank this week.
  1. Hometown Community Bank, Brazelton, GA

Full FDIC list

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

Sometimes an Ear Worm is a Good Thing

This has been going through my head the whole day.


15 November 2012

It's Jobless Thursday!

And the number of initial claims hit an 19 month high, up 79K to 439K.

The consensus is that it was an artifact of the devastation of Frankenstorm Sandy.

In other, probably more significant news, the Euro Zone is back in recession, and ECB president  Mario Draghi is busy suggesting that it's better to cut spending than it is to raise taxes, even though tax cuts have less stimulative effects than does government spending.

I swear, there is not a single economic "authority" in the entire Euro Zone who has any morals at all.

They have all somehow bought into the idea that creating pain for most of the members of a society is somehow an independent good.

Your Republican Profile in Morality of the Day

US Representative, medial doctor, and tea-baggers Scott DesJarlais, is a Republican who ran on family values.

It's not been revealed that he encouraged his wife and a lover to have abortions (yes, plural), and slept with his patients:
A decade before calling himself “a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” Tennessee physician and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage, according to the congressman’s sworn testimony during his divorce trial.

Obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the couple’s 2001 trial transcript also confirms DesJarlais had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn. During one affair with a female patient, DesJarlais prescribed her drugs, gave her an $875 watch and bought her a plane ticket to Las Vegas, records show.

DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson did not respond to requests for comment. The attorney for the congressman's ex-wife said that at this point she does not have any comments to issue on her ex-husband's testimony.

The transcript corroborates accounts given to the Times Free Press in October by one of the patients who had a sexual relationship with DesJarlais. The newspaper continues to grant her anonymity, along with all the women due to the nature of the testimony.

DesJarlais, a family-values conservative who rode 2010’s tea party wave to Washington, testified his ex-wife’s earlier abortion stemmed from medical concerns.

“... [She] was on an experimental drug called Lupron and was not supposed to have gotten pregnant. There were potential risks. It was a therapeutic,” he said.

DesJarlais backed a second abortion after she returned from a military stint in Saudi Arabia a few years before they married in 1995.
Except for the whole f%$#ing your patients thing (a violation of medical ethics), as a liberal, I support his right to practice his lifestyle.  He has the right to be a pig felching scumbag.

Interestingly enough, Scott DesJarlais thinks that the government should prevent people from practicing his lifestyle.

As Stephen Colbert notes, "Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais stands adamantly against abortion except when it endangers the political life of the father."

H/t Andrew Rosenthal for the vid.

14 November 2012

I Have an Endorsement for President in 2016

The Honorable Martin O'Malley, governor of the state of Maryland:
He said President Barack Obama’s re-election was a “pretty strong signal” to Republicans that voters want them to drop what he described as “obstructionist” positions on issues such as immigration.

On the fiscal cliff, he said, “I am hopeful that [Republicans] see that writing on the wall and will want to do [a deal] sooner rather than later in order to shed their sort of Tea Party obstructionist stench.
(emphasis mine)

I shook his hand, and exchanged about a dozen words with him at Hanukkah House (It's a Baltimore thing) in 2003, and I thought that he was going to be President one day.

The fact that he's bringing it, I can't imagine another Democrat with national profile using the word, "Stench" to describe his opponents.

We need more of this.

In fact, I want him to choose Alan Grayson as his running mate. (Not gonna happen)

Deep Thought

Oh Crap!

Israel just killed Ahmed al-Jabari, head of Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades, and they posted the video on Youtube.

This is going to get ugly.

13 November 2012

Stewart Misses the Point

Jon Stewart faults his own journalistic chops on l'affaire Petraeus:

Yes, he interviewed Paula Broadwell, and did not pick up anything untoward, but so did a lot of people.

What he has is enough self-awareness to realize that he missed a big story.

It could be worse. Robert MacNeil, formerly of the MacNeil/Lehrer report, on November 22, 1963, at Dealy Plaza, he ran into a man, and asked where he could find a phone.

The man he ran into was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Journalists don't have any more senses than the rest of us, and Jon Stewart has an almost unrivaled ability to call out bullsh%$ in a clear and concise matter.

I do think, and Jon Stewart would agree, that it's f%$#ed up that a comedian is arguably one of the finest journalists on cable today, but we are living in a f%$#ed up world.

Paul Ryan Assumes the Role of a Scooby Doo Villain Bigot

They tore off the mask, and Paul Ryan's response was, "I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling N*****s:
Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin on Monday blamed Democratic turnout in “urban areas” for the loss by the Republican presidential ticket last week, saying he was surprised that he and Mitt Romney did not do better in the nation’s big cities.

“The surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout especially in urban areas, which gave President Obama the big margin to win this race,” Mr. Ryan said in an interview with WISC-TV. “When we watched Virginia and Ohio coming in, and those ones coming in as tight as they were, and looking like we were going to lose them, that’s when it became clear we weren’t going to win.”

The remarks prompted scorn from some liberals who viewed Mr. Ryan as blaming inner-city minorities for the Republican defeat.
Including this liberal.

What a miserable excuse for a human being.

I Gots to Get Me a Super PAC

Stephen Colbert retires his Super Pac, and talks with his lawyer.

Spoiler: He gets to keep all the money and do whatever he wants with it.

I am laughing and wicked pissed off.

Support Gay Marriage

The folks at College Humor are all over this.

12 November 2012

Who Knew that I Would Be the Proprietor of a Cat House?

No, I don't mean a house of prostitution, I mean a house for cats.

You may recall that I have a bit of a cat infestation.

We have still been unable to figure out how the cat is getting in, so I'm attempting to provide an alternative place to escape the weather.

The first floor overhangs the basement by about 2 feet, so I've used some plywood to make a shelter, where we can set out food, and the feral cats in the neighborhood can shelter there.

Hopefully RP, the cat that has found a way to break into our house, will find this a suitable alternative, and stay the F%$# out of my house.

(on edit)

I added a picture of the little cat shelter. It's not painted, but the cats don't care.

Also, as to the folks that would argue that my making a cat-house would be giving into terrorists, all I can say is, "Welcome to life with cats." It is what it means to love cats.

11 November 2012

Who Knew that Big Bird Came from Jersey?

Signs of the Apocalypse

James Fallows of The Atlantic, has written the following:
For the first time in my conscious life, the Democratic party is now more organized and coherent, and less fractious and back-biting, than the Republicans. It is almost stupefying to imagine that.

He's right, and it's a sign of the end of times.

I fully expect cats to start sleeping with dogs.

*Oh My F%$#ing Flying Spaghetti Monster.

OK, This is F%$#ing Nuts………

The US Army's next infantry combat vehicle, the successor to the Bradley is set to weigh more than an M-1 tank:
What may weigh more than an M1 Abrams tank and carry 12 soldiers? The Army's Ground Combat Vehicle. New weight estimates for GCV, released this week by the Congressional Budget Office, will likely go over like a lead ballon with the program's critics in Congress and in the Army itself.

Depending on the model and add-on armor package, an M1 weighs 60 to 75.5 tons. According to the CBO report, the General Dynamics design for the GCV weighs 64 to 70 tons. BAE s proposal is still heavier, at 70 to 84.

There's a tactical reason for all this weight: It's armor. The Ground Combat Vehicle is supposed to replace the Army's current frontline infantry carrier, the M2 Bradley, carrying more foot troops in back -- nine instead of six -- and protecting them better against everything from rocket-propelled grenades to roadside bombs. Even the most heavily uparmored models of the M2, at almost 40 tons, proved too vulnerable for the worst streets in Baghdad during the "surge," so commanders often sent 70-plus-ton M1s to clear the way. Even some of those M1s blew up, in part because the insurgents could build huge improvised explosive devices, in part because the M1's armor is mostly on the front to protect against enemy tanks, not on the underside.
Let's start with the first thing: The Bradley could carry 9 troops if they went with an unmanned remotely operated turret, (see also here) which eliminates the gunner, and his station, which rotates along with the turret.

Even the Israeli Namer, the highest weight IFV in the world, does not top 60 tons, and unlike the US army, they do not have to deploy half way around the world.

It should also be noted that the Nammer does not carry an autocannon in the turret, it carries either a .50 cal machine gun or 40mm grenade launcher, because the Israelis realized that they would have to reduce the armor levels to keep the weight to a manageable level.

The US army should separate what it wants from what it needs, as the Israelis did.

If they do that, and avail themselves of new developments in armor that are in the pipeline, they could keep the weight below 60 tons.

10 November 2012

Deep Thought


I Haz a Sad

The Big E has finished its last tour, and it will be decommissioned and scrapped:
ABOARD THE USS ENTERPRISE - The world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier ended its remarkable career at sea on Sunday when it pulled into its home port for the final time after participating in every major conflict since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

The USS Enterprise began shutting down its eight nuclear reactors almost as soon as it arrived at its pier at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, where thousands of cheering family members and friends welcomed the ship home from its 25th and final deployment after nearly eight months at sea. The ship will never move on its own power again and will eventually be scrapped in Washington state.


The Navy will officially deactivate the Enterprise on Dec. 1, but it will take several more years for it to be decommissioned as its reactors are taken out. About 15,000 people are expected to attend the deactivation ceremony, which will be its last public ceremony after several days of tours for former crew members.

09 November 2012

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Heritage Bank of Florida, Lutz, FL
  2. Citizens First National Bank, Princeton, IL
Two more banks this week.

Full FDIC list

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

How is Karl Rove Different From Solyndra?

I'm not sure, and neither are the rich pigs who donated to Crossroads GPS.

Petraeus Resigns

He resigned as head of the CIA after admitting to having an affair, and it is rumored that she may have had access to his emails.

Great Googly Moogly.

Over ½ Million Uncounted Ballots?

In Arizona there are over 600,000 uncounted ballots state wide, both early votes and provisional ballots.

It appears that the problems with people voting in person were worst in the precincts with the highest level of minority voters.

Arizona is one of the states required by the Voting Rights Act to pre-clear, what a surprise.

F%$# That

Yes, I am quoting Repo Men
John Boehner is say that
tax cuts for the rich should be extended for a year as a start of negociations:
Obama’s proposal is at odds with the position of House Speaker John Boehner, who earlier Friday said all the tax cuts -- including those for the rich -- should be extended until next year to provide more time to work out a bigger deal on taxes and spending cuts.

``I’m proposing that we avert the fiscal cliff together in a manner that ensures that 2013 is finally the year that our government comes to grips with the major problems that are facing us,’’ Boehner said.
I will make a point here: John Boehner cannot be trusted, so tax increases on the rich pigs need to be passed at the start.

I should be clear here:  I do not mean that the Orange Avenger of Congress® is tremendously dishonest by the standards of the Republican party,* but rather that he is incapable of keeping his promises, because is arguably the most incompetent and most ineffectual House Speaker in at least the past 100 years.

If he promises something, get it in your hand before moving on to the next item.

*Which is kind of like saying that he is the world's tallest midget.

John Roberts Looks to Keep Pigment Rich Folks From Voting

It's no surprise that mere days after non white voters gave Democrats their margin of victory in the Presidential and Senate elections, the Roberts court has decided to review the voting rights act:
The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to review a legal challenge to the Voting Rights Act, a landmark law adopted in 1965 to protect African-American voters who had faced decades of discrimination at the polls.

The court's decision comes just days after a presidential election in which Latino and African-American voters played a big role in re-electing Democratic President Barack Obama, reflecting a basic shift in national demographics.

The high court accepted an appeal brought by Shelby County, Alabama, challenging a core provision of the act that requires nine states and several local governments with a history of bias to get federal permission to change their election procedures.

Arguments in the case will likely be heard by the Supreme Court in early 2013, with a decision expected by the end of June.

Some justices on the nine-member court, including Chief Justice John Roberts, have signaled in earlier cases discomfort with policies that draw distinctions based on race.

In a 2009 Voting Rights Act case, the Supreme Court avoided ruling on the law's constitutionality. The court suggested that the federal "preclearance" requirement may no longer be needed or constitutional. Roberts, dissenting from a 2006 voting-rights decision, criticized what he called "a sordid business, this divvying us up by race."

Make no mistake here, this is the conservative wing of the supreme court looking to get Jim Crow voting regulations going again, because it favors conservatives in elections.

"The America that elected and reelected Barack Obama as its first African-American president is far different than when the Voting Rights Act was first enacted in 1965. Congress unwisely reauthorized a bill that is stuck in a Jim Crow-era time warp," he [Edward Blum, professional bigot and American Enterprise Institute Scholar*] said in a statement.
Yes, Mr. Blum, no racism in the good old USA. 

You might want to check out the Jezebel post, "Twitter Racists React to 'That Nigger' Getting Reelected."

*But I am repeating myself.

08 November 2012

Why Do Conservatives Keep Defending Child Rapists

First, it was the Catholic Church, and now it's the Conservative Party in the UK which is trying blame the victims and those reporting the abuse:

Downing Street has denounced “trial by Twitter” and a “silly stunt” by the ITV presenter Phillip Schofield who ambushed David Cameron live on air by handing him an internet-sourced list of suspected paedophiles - causing a shocked Prime Minister to complain of a “witch hunt” against gay people.

Schofield was forced to apologise after it emerged he had “misjudged the camera angle” and the names of several former senior Conservative politicians were visible on a card which he thrust into the hands of the Prime Minister before an audience of around 1.2 million. “You know the names on that piece of paper,” the This Morning presenter told the Prime Minister. “Will you be speaking to those people?”

The presenter claimed to have found the names of the Conservative Party figures in “three minutes” during a “cursory glance at the internet” for details of a scandal relating to abuse at children’s homes in north Wales during the 1970s and 1980s.
It's been about 30 years since this all happened, so I'm not sure why they are going into full stonewall mode over this, unless a major Tory icon of that period, was somehow involved in the original abuse or the original cover up.

H/t Atrios.

We've Always Been at War with Eastasia

The Pentagon is claiming that Iranian aircraft fired on a US drone while in international airspace:
Iranian warplanes shot at an American military surveillance drone flying over the Persian Gulf near Iran last week, Pentagon officials disclosed Thursday. They said that the aircraft, a Predator drone, was flying in international airspace and was not hit and that the episode had prompted a strong protest to the Iranian government.

The shooting, which involved two Russian-made Su-25 jets known as Frogfoots, occurred on Nov. 1 and was the first known instance of Iranian warplanes firing on an American surveillance drone. George Little, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said the Defense Department’s weeklong silence about the episode was a result of restrictions on the discussion of classified surveillance missions. He answered questions about it during a Pentagon news conference on Thursday only after it had been reported by news organizations earlier in the day.

Even so, the failure to disclose a hostile encounter with Iran’s military at a time of increased international tensions over the disputed Iranian nuclear program — and five days before the American presidential election — raises questions for the Obama administration. Had the Iranian attack been disclosed before Election Day, it is likely to have been viewed in a political context — interpreted either as sign of the administration’s weakness or, conversely, as an opportunity for President Obama to demonstrate leadership.


“Our aircraft was never in Iranian airspace,” Mr. Little said. “It was always flying in international airspace.”
Yeah, right.

We Finally Find Some Vote Fraud

And it's a Republican:
Authorities in New Mexico are investigating an Albuquerque father who allegedly showed up at a polling place to vote on behalf of his 18-year-old son, news station KOB reported on Tuesday night.

According to Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, elections workers got suspicious when the silver-haired father showed up to vote and told them he was born in 1994. He was still allowed to cast a ballot, but the workers took down his license plate number when he left. Later, he showed up at a different location and voted under his own name, according to KOB.


The elder Pino later called Schwartz to tell him he had made a mistake by voting on behalf of his son, but said his son had given him permission. Both were registered as Republicans at the same Albuquerque address, according to KOB.
Seriously, how many times have I said that the 'Phants are like the Soviets, in that you know what they are doing, because they accuse us of doing it?