30 April 2016

Passover is Over

We are going to an Italian restaurant.

They brought us a basket of bread with sliced garlic oil to dip the bread in.

I have died and gone to Chomaytz heaven.

Posted via mobile.

The Democratic Party Bears Far More Blame on This That the Republican Party.

Over at Medium, Steve Five notes that, "If These Two Win, This is Going To Be The Sh%$tiest Election in US History," with the charming sub hed of, "Dear God When Will It Be Over Please Make It Stop."

He's right:
After last night’s sweeping wins by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it appears even more likely that the two will become their respective party’s nominees. But according to multiple different polls and recent data, these are the sh%$tiest candidates in recorded history and this election will be a total mess.

A recent CBS poll has Clinton at 52% unfavorable rating, with Trump at 57% unfavorable. These are the lowest favorability ratings of presumptive nominees since CBS began polling, and other polls show similar findings. Clinton’s sh%$tiness has been seen as a major problem for the Democratic party, while the only consolation to the Democrats is that Donald Trump is statistically sh%$tier, to the point that he is potentially starting a civil war within the Republican party. If either of these two are elected, they will be the least favored nominee to become president in the history of polling.


If Clinton and Trump win their party nominations, we’re in for six months of peak sh$%tiness. Trump saving $2 Billion on ad revenue means he can outspend a cash-strapped Clinton after the primaries, and his sh$%ty rhetoric and fistfuls of money will force a hawkish Clinton to at turns go tough on him and differentiate herself with a market-tested party unification approach.


One thing is certain, if Clinton and Trump become their party’s nominees, it will be a race to the bottom. With Trump’s schoolyard rhetoric and Clinton’s distrustfulness, a heated general election fight will turn off an already election-fatigued American populace. According to the data, no matter who wins, a majority of Americans will lose.
I think that the assessment is fundamentally accurate.

It's a f%$#ing mess, but Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are two different phenomena.

Donald Trump is the proverbial black swan. The Republican party could not have predicted him, or what he would be, or his ascendance.  No one could have predicted this.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has been a known quantity for decades, and she record of failure that would make Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld blush, whether it is Iraq, NAFTA, Hillary Care, crime bill, Libya, Syria, the Ukraine, or any other signature of her issues.

But the Democratic Party establishment, following the script to Blazing Saddles, has decided that, ""We've gotta protect our phoney baloney jobs, gentlemen!"

It is the Iron Law of Organizations Institutions, where power WITHIN an organization is pursued at the expense of the power OF that organization.

The Democratic Party establishment has consciously chosen its course for the most venal of reasons, and the rest of us will pay for this.

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

29 April 2016

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

We had the 2nd bank failure of the year, Trust Company Bank of Memphis, TN.

 This has us are ⅓ of the way through the year with only two bank failures.

28 April 2016

F%$# Me, I Agree with the Orange One ……… Not Trump, the Other Orange One

I mean John Boehner, who is most assuredly not a fan of Ted Cruz:
“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former Speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
That's my sense of Ted Cruz as well.

I have never in my life seen someone as widely loathed as Ted Cruz in public life.

Ear Worms

I have had the Beatles song "Norwegian Wood" going through my head for about 3 hours.

I'm about ready to burn the whole country down.

Posted via mobile.

27 April 2016

I Really Thought That It Was Impossible for Him to Make Me Loathe Him Any More

But Ted Cruz proved me wrong when he announced the wildly premature choice of Carly Fiorina as his running mate:
Ted Cruz just suffered one of the worst drubbings of his presidential campaign, losing badly in five states, falling further behind Donald Trump and watching his dim hopes of capturing the Republican nomination fade further.

Yet less than 24 hours later, the senator from Texas did something normally reserved for presumptive nominees rather than struggling underdogs: He announced a vice presidential running mate.

In choosing Carly Fiorina for that spot here Wednesday, Cruz reached for a political lifeline at a time when he is running out of them. Facing a must-win situation against Trump in next Tuesday’s Indiana primary, Cruz is trying one un­or­tho­dox maneuver after another in hopes of extending the race and forcing a contested Republican convention in Cleveland — his only hope for becoming the nominee.

The announcement was designed in part to sharpen the contrast with Trump that Cruz is trying to draw. Introducing Fiorina at an afternoon rally in downtown Indianapolis, Cruz highlighted the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive’s fierce exchanges with Trump and her refusal to back down from him when she was a candidate.
The juxtaposition of the two of them is way worse than either one of them alone.

This is like watching a dog vomit, and then eat its own barf.

Not Long Enough

Child rapist and money launderer Dennis Hastert has been sentenced to 15 months in prison:
Mr. Hastert, whose date to report to prison has yet to be set, was ordered to pay $250,000 in fines, never to contact his victims and to receive sex-offender treatment.

“If there’s a public shaming of the defendant because of the conduct he’s engaged in, so be it,” Judge Durkin said.
Hopefully, given the nature of the crime and the length of sentence, he spends his time in a at least a medium security prison.

Are You Sh%$ting Me?

It appears that some people in Europe are so sick and tired of the consequences of Angela Merkel's, and Germany's, incompetent hegemony that they are hoping that Italian governance can fix Europe.

When Italy is your solution to your governance woes, you are in up a certain creek without a paddle:

As the European Union begins to disintegrate, who can provide the leadership to save it? German Chancellor Angela Merkel is widely credited with finally answering Henry Kissinger’s famous question about the Western alliance: “What is the phone number for Europe?” But if Europe’s phone number has a German dialing code, it goes through to an automated answer: “Nein zu Allem.”

This phrase – “No to everything” – is how Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, recently described the standard German response to all economic initiatives aimed at strengthening Europe. A classic case was Merkel’s veto of a proposal by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to fund refugee programs in Europe, North Africa, and Turkey through an issue of EU bonds, an efficient and low-cost idea also advanced by leading financiers such as George Soros.

Merkel’s high-handed refusal even to consider broader European interests if these threaten her domestic popularity has become a recurring nightmare for other EU leaders. This refusal underpins not only her economic and immigration policies, but also her bullying of Greece, her support for coal subsidies, her backing of German carmakers over diesel emissions, her kowtowing to Turkey on press freedom, and her mismanagement of the Minsk agreement in Ukraine. In short, Merkel has done more to damage the EU than any living politician, while constantly proclaiming her passion for “the European project.”

But where can a Europe disillusioned with German leadership now turn? The obvious candidates will not or cannot take on the role: Britain has excluded itself; France is paralyzed until next year’s presidential election and possibly beyond; and Spain cannot even form a government.

That leaves Italy, a country that, having dominated Europe’s politics and culture for most of its history, is now treated as “peripheral.” But Italy is resuming its historic role as a source of Europe’s best ideas and leadership in politics, and also, most surprisingly, in economics.
Italy?  Italy is the solution to the EU's governance problems?

If you are holding up Italy as a better alternative on governance of anything, you have dug yourself into a very very deep hole.

Well, there was some Good Primary News Yesterday

As I noted a few months ago, Chris Matthews' wife, Kathleen, was running for Congress, and that Chris Matthews was pimping his show to her campaign donors.

Running against her was a wine mogul who spent over $1o million dollars, and the winner was the people of Maryland's 8th district, because very liberal constitutioal law professor Jamie Raskin beat them both:
State Sen. Jamie Raskin defeated self-funded businessman David Trone and former television news anchor Kathleen Matthews in the most expensive congressional primary race in the nation — a crowded contest in Maryland’s Montgomery County-based 8th District.


The campaign to succeed Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the district was competitive and costly. Van Hollen's decision to run for the Senate created a rare open seat.

Candidates competing for the seat spent more than $14 million since last year – more than $10 million of it by Trone, who finished second.

Trone, founder of the Total Wine & More retail stores, blanketed the district – which stretches from Montgomery County north into Frederick and Carroll counties – with television and radio ads and mailings. “We don’t take money from PACs, lobbyists or corporations,” was a prominent campaign message. His strategy included a push to win over voters who are using absentee ballots.


Raskin won by about 7,000 votes, holding a 34 percent to 27 percent advantage over Trone. Matthews took third at 24 percent.
If Raskin wins the general, and it is a very safe district, then Raskin will be the only out atheist in Congress.

It's a little thing, and I am still stuck with Dutch Ruppersberger in my district, but I'll take it.

Classic Chutzpah

Darnell Earley, the former emergency manager of Flint, Michigan is trying to get the impoverished town to pay for his legal defense of his poisoning them:
Former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley tried to bill the cash-strapped city $750 an hour for an attorney to sit with him while he was questioned last month in Washington by a congressional committee and to represent him in ongoing criminal investigations related to the Flint drinking water crisis, records obtained by the Free Press show.

Earley, whose office was searched by state investigators on Feb. 29, and who told the City of Flint on March 11 that he is under criminal investigation in connection with the lead contamination of Flint's drinking water, wants the city to pay legal fees that already have topped $75,000 and continue to grow, records obtained under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act show.

Flint City Councilwoman Jacqueline Poplar reacted with outrage Friday when she learned of the Earley invoices from a Free Press reporter.

"If he did send a bill — shame on him," Poplar said. "The City of Flint shouldn't be giving him a dime for legal fees or anything else. I would like him to refund every penny the City of Flint paid him to take us down this road."
The classic definition of Chutzpah is the child who murders his parents, and demands mercy as an orphan.

Mr. Earley comes pretty close to that standard.

26 April 2016

The Voters have Spoken ……… the Bastards

Sanders loses Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Delaware.

What's more, both Donna Edwards and Joe Sestak lost the Senate primaries in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

I am seriously bumming.

They Should Name this Cat Incitatus

In Rhode Island, there is a Cat running for President:

Take Denise Rachiele, who was surprised to see a presidential campaign office — Mr. Trump’s — pop up a few doors down from her pet store, All About Pets. Now, her windows are decorated with fake campaign posters for her cat, Stump.

“He felt he was more qualified, or at least as qualified, as Mr. Trump,” joked Ms. Rachiele, who said she had not decided whom she would support on Tuesday.
What? You don't know who Incitatus was?

Read a f%$#ing book!

Quote of the Day

"We thought America was the best in the world," he said. "But unfortunately this happened, and it made us [think] like American police are the same as our police in Burma."
Eh Wah the manager of Klo & Kweh Music Team, a Burmese/Karen band after Oklahoma cops stole $53,000 from him using asset forfeiture,
There is a happy ending here:  After the Washington Post wrote a story about this (link above), the cops and the prosecutors have done the right thing, and dropped the bogus charges, and sent him his money back.

A Feature, Not a Bug

In Kansas, Secretary of State Kris Korbach has managed to so hamstring voter registrations that ⅔ of voter registrations in Kansas are not being processed:
Voting rolls in Kansas are in "chaos" because of the state's proof-of-citizenship requirements, the American Civil Liberties Union has argued in a court document, noting that about two-thirds of new voter registration applications submitted during a three-week period in February are on hold.

Kansas is fending off multiple legal challenges from voting rights activists, and just months before the state's August primary, the status of the "dual registration" system remains unclear. Federal judges in separate voter-registration lawsuits unfolding in Kansas and Washington, D.C., could rule at any time. There's also greater urgency because registrations typically surge during an election year.

Kansas is one of four states, along with Georgia, Alabama and Arizona, to require documentary proof of citizenship — such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers — to register to vote. Under Kansas' challenged system, voters who registered using a federal form, which hadn't required proof of U.S. citizenship, could only vote in federal races and not in state or local races. Kansas says it will keep the dual voting system in place for upcoming elections if the courts allow its residents to register to vote either with a federal form or at motor vehicle offices without providing proof of citizenship.
This guy has been engaging in a felony concpiracy to deprive people of their rights for years.

When do we throw his sorry racist ass into a PMITA prison ?

So Not a Surprise

In all the commotion about the Panama Papers, we tend to ignore the fact that most of the dodgy finance that is used to hide wealth from the tax man occurs right here in the good old US of A, most notably in Wyoming and Delaware.

Well there is a an address in Delaware that is the "Headquarters" of the tax avoidance activities of Donald Trump, the Clintons, and 285,000 other shell corporations:
There aren’t many things upon which Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree, especially as they court very different Delaware voters ahead of a primary on Tuesday. But the candidates for president share an affinity for the same nondescript two-storey office building in Wilmington. A building that has become famous for helping tens of thousands of companies avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in tax through the so-called “Delaware loophole”.

The receptionist at 1209 North Orange Street isn’t surprised that a journalist has turned up unannounced on a sunny weekday afternoon.

“You know I can’t speak to you,” she says. A yellow post-it note on her computer screen reads “MEDIA: Chuck Miller” with the phone number of the company’s director of corporate communications. Miller can’t answer many questions either, except to say that the company does not advise clients on their tax affairs.

The Guardian is not the first media organisation to turn up at the offices of Corporation Trust Centre, and it’s unlikely to be the last.

The term tax haven may evoke images of exotic locales, but Panama actually ranks as the 13th most attractive spot for hiding assets, while the US lies third.

This squat, yellow brick office building just north of Wilmington’s rundown downtown is the registered address of more than 285,000 companies. That’s more than any other known address in the world, and 15 times more than the 18,000 registered in Ugland House, a five-storey building in the Cayman Islands that Barack Obama called “either the biggest building in the world, or the biggest tax scam on record”.

Officially, 1209 North Orange is home to Apple, American Airlines, Coca-Cola, Walmart and dozens of other companies in the Fortune 500 list of America’s biggest companies. Being registered in Delaware lets companies take advantage of strict corporate secrecy rules, business-friendly courts and the “Delaware loophole”, which can allow companies to legally shift earnings from other states to Delaware, where they are not taxed on non-physical incomes generated outside of the state.


Both the leading candidates for president – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – have companies registered at 1209 North Orange, and have refused to explain why.

Clinton, who has repeatedly promised that as president she will crack down on “outrageous tax havens and loopholes that super-rich people across the world are exploiting in Panama and elsewhere”, collected more than $16m in public speaking fees and book royalties in 2014 through the doors of 1209, according to the Clintons’ tax return.
The routine corruption in the United States is mind buggering.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen!

What a surprise. People are using facial recognition to stalk porn stars. I expect this to extend to non porn stars shortly:
This story originally appeared on Global Voices Advocacy

The developers behind “FindFace,” which uses facial recognition software to match random photographs to people’s social media pages on Vkontakte, say the service is designed to facilitate making new friends. Released in February this year, FindFace started gaining popularity in March after a software engineer named Andrei Mima wrote about using the service to track down two women he photographed six years earlier on a street in St. Petersburg. (They’d asked him to take a picture of them, but he never got their contact information, so he wasn’t able to share it with them at the time.)

From the start, FindFace has raised privacy concerns. (Even in his glowing recommendation, Mima addressed fears that the service further erodes people’s freedoms in the age of the Internet.) In early April, a young artist named Egor Tsvetkov highlighted how invasive the technology can be, photographing random passengers on the St. Petersburg subway and matching the pictures to the individuals’ Vkontakte pages using FindFace.

“In theory,” Tsvetkov told RuNet Echo, "this service could be used by a serial killer or a collector trying to hunt down a debtor.”
It ain't just the government that is creating a panopticon.  The private sector is moving there even faster.

25 April 2016

These Guys Could not Find their Ass with Both Hands

In what is a clear desperation move, Ted Cruz and John Kasich have divided up at least three upcoming primaries:
Donald Trump's two remaining Republican presidential opponents campaigned Monday after striking an agreement on a strategy to divvy up three states holding primaries in the coming weeks -- an unusual and urgent arrangement aimed at stopping the mogul from clinching the GOP nomination.

The campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich released written statements within minutes of each other Sunday night calling for Kasich to stop competing in Indiana and for Cruz to clear the way for Kasich in New Mexico and Oregon. They called on allied third-party groups to do the same.

Speaking to reporters here in Borden before a Monday morning rally, Cruz said it was "big news today that John Kasich has decided to pull out of Indiana to give us a head-to-head contest with Donald Trump." He said the division of resources in key primary states "made sense from both campaigns."
As Charlie Pierce notes, "With conspirators like these, Caesar would have spent March 15 in a brothel, avoided the Senate for a month, and died of old age in his summer place in Gaul."

The level of incompetence here buggers the mind.

Schwer zu Sein a Yid

We had a safety training meeting at work today.

It started at 12:30 today.

Pizzas arrived a half hour before that, and because it is Passover, I could not have any.


Only 3 days in, and I am already Jonesing for Homaytz.

It's hard to be a Jew.

Yeah, but None of the Good Munchies Can Be Eaten

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the leading Askenazi (Easter European) Halachic authorities has ruled that Marijuana is kosher for Passover.

Of course, even if you smoke pot, you still cannot have ice cream sandwiches or Fig Newtons®, how the f%$# do you deal with the munchies:
Getting baked on Passover is no longer just for matzah, a leading Orthodox rabbi ruled, after sniffing (but not smoking) some cannabis leaves recently.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, widely considered the leading living ultra-Orthodox halachic authority, ruled that marijuana is kosher for Passover and can be either eaten or smoked over the eight-day Jewish festival, during which strict dietary laws apply, according the pro-Cannabis online magazine cannabis.org.il.

Kanievsky gave the ruling in response to a question from the pro-marijuana group Siach, meaning both plant and conversation.

Kanievky stipulated that in normal circumstances the plant is considered a member of the kitniyot group of legumes and pulses that are banned on Passover among Jews of Ashkenazi origin. But, he said, if used for medical purposes, cannabis is permitted for Jews from all backgrounds.

Kitniyot include rice, corn and beans. They have always been permissible to Sephardi Jews on Passover, but have been banned by Eastern and Central European rabbis since the 1200s when they were sometimes mixed with wheat. Refraining from the consumption of wheat products is among the central facets of the Passover holiday
It's leavened grain products, whether wheat, rye, spelt, oats, and barley (the 5 traditional grains) that are forbidden, not wheat products, which is why most Matzoh is made from wheat.

The someone screwed on that bit.

Of course, as any agronomist knows, Marijuana is not, and has never been a legume, and it not typically grown next to the 5 grains, so how it would ever be considered Kitniot is beyond me, though, of course, cooking it into brownies or cookies would be chomaytz.

And the EU Implosion Continues Apace

The Austrian right wing Freedom Party just scored a surprise win in its Presidential elections:
Austria is braced for political turmoil with fears that the landslide victory for a rightwing populist and gun-carrying candidate in Sunday’s first-round presidential vote could trigger snap elections.

Norbert Hofer, of the rightwing Freedom party (FPÖ), defied pollsters’ predictions to beat the Green party’s Alexander Van der Bellen into second place, gaining 36% of the vote. The two candidates will go head to head in a run-off ballot on 22 May.

While the presidential post is mainly a ceremonial role, Hofer has threatened to make use of a right to dissolve parliament before the 2018 elections, warning other candidates in a TV debate that “you will be surprised by what can be done [by a president]”.

Hofer, a youthful 45-year-old who is partially paralysed after a paragliding accident, has campaigned for disability rights and is seen as having lent a friendly face to a party that balances virulently anti-immigration and Eurosceptic messages with leftist stances on welfare issues, led by firebrand Heinz-Christian Strache.

Hofer, who claims to protect himself in the “uncertain times” of the refugee crisis by carrying a Glock gun, scored overwhelming victories in all of Austria’s states apart from Vienna. In Styria, Burgenland and Carinthia – border states most affected by the refugee trail from the Mediterranean to central Europe – Hofer managed to gain 40% or more.
Let's ignore the racism right now.*

The policies of the FPÖ are support for the welfare state, which the German dominated EU is trying to minimize, and it is skeptical of an increasingly anti-democratic structure and culture in Brussels.

It's not surprising that this party is popular. Their positions are popular.

Meanwhile the mainstream parties have stapled themselves to EU policies that are based on delusional economics that are causing pain and misery for the vast majority of the population.

It's no wonder that the 2nd place party was the Greens, with the two mainstream parties getting absolutely demolished:

Austria’s two main parties, which clung to a majority in the last national elections in 2013 after having run the country for most of the past 70 years, have seen approval ratings slump as they flip-flopped on the migration issue. The government’s inconsistency added to simmering domestic discontent about rising unemployment and economic stagnation.

The presidential candidates running for Faymann’s Social Democrats and Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner’s People’s Party took 11 percent each, and were eliminated from the run-off. They managed to beat only Richard Lugner, an octogenarian shopping-mall operator and socialite famous for his appearances at Vienna’s Opera Ball together with celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.
The European experience has not yet failed, but it has been digging itself into a hole for decades.

It has become detached from, and disdainful of, the people that it is supposed to serve, ad its response to increasing hostility from ever larger segments of the populations is to build the walls higher on their fortress mentality.

*Apart fromthat Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Useless Meatbag of the Day

Former Senator Jim Webb, who seems to think that a little genocide is just a misunderstanding between friends:
Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) is not happy about former President Andrew Jackson being bumped from the front of the $20 bill.

Webb joined conservatives in blasting the Treasury Department's decision to bump Jackson to the back of the bill in order to put legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the front. He wrote Sunday in a Washington Post op-ed that the decision was "an indication of how far political correctness has invaded our educational system and skewed our national consciousness."

"This dismissive characterization of one of our great presidents is not occurring in a vacuum," he wrote. "Any white person whose ancestral relations trace to the American South now risks being characterized as having roots based on bigotry and undeserved privilege. Meanwhile, race relations are at their worst point in decades."
This racist asshole argued that despite, "Jackson's involvement in the events that led to the Trail of Tears, he argued that the former President was not genocidal because he raised an orphaned Native American baby as his son."

Andrew Jackson ignored a Supreme Court ruling, and sent in troops to send the Cherokee on a death march to Oklahoma.

F%$# Webb, and f%$# his Neo-Confederate bullsh%$.


This episode of linkage has Hamaytz. Here is the Ramen Song, by my little girl:

24 April 2016

Koch Brothers Want to Strip Mine the Grand Canyon ……… Literally

And you have to figure that, staunch libertarians that they are, they will find a way to extract subsidies from the taxpayer to do this:
Amid rumors that Charles and David Koch will be withdrawing their presence at the Republican National Convention, it has been revealed the billionaires have been funneling money into an Arizona-based group fighting a plan to ban uranium mining around the Grand Canyon, which would also protect 1.7 million acres of land.

The proposal is supported by 80% of Arizona residents, environmental groups, and native tribes, the Guardian reports. Yet, Greg Zimmerman of the Center for Western Priorities has found that a non-profit group, the Prosper Foundation, is fighting to block the move. The group received 83% of their total budget, over $1.5 million, from an organization called American Encore.

Zimmerman, digging deeper, found that American Encore is run by one Sean Noble, a man with very close ties to the Koch brothers. A donor from a Koch brothers’ “dark money” funding network has also channeled cash to the group.

“Prosper, which was formed in 2013, covers nearly its entire budget with funds from Koch-backed American Encore—formerly known as the Center to Protect Patient Rights. According to tax filings, American Encore has funded 83 percent of Prosper Inc.’s total budget since its creation, donating over $1.5 million to the organization in 2013 and 2014,” Zimmerman wrote for ThinkProgress.
What a surprise.

I can think of no better reason for increasing the inheritance tax than these guys, who seem to think that they to deserve to run the world because they won the birth lottery.

I'm Not Sure that Hillary Wants this Endorsement………

Charles Koch just said that Hillary Clinton might make a better President than the potential Republican nominees:
Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, a key source of financing for conservative Republican causes along with his brother, said Democrat Hillary Clinton might make a better president than the candidates in the Republican field.

Koch, in an interview to air on Sunday on ABC's "This Week" program, said that in some respects Bill Clinton had been a better president than George W. Bush, who Koch said had increased government spending. Then when asked if Hillary Clinton would be a better president than the Republicans currently running, he said, "It's possible, it's possible."
Not a big surprise.

After all, Hillary is arguably the best Republican in the race.

Endorsements in the Maryland and Pennsylvania Senate Races

In Maryland, I endorse Donna Edwards, because on every issue where they differ, she is right, and Chris Van Hollen is wrong.

While he now disavows this position, he has been receptive to cutting Social Security, which is reason to never support him in the primary.

In Pennsylvania, the Senate Primary race is between Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty.

Sestak would be a slam dunk in this campaign, except for the fact that he defeated Arlen Specter, who had switched parties to Democrat, in the 2010 primary, which has so enraged Chuck Schumer that he has dumped a ton (something around $2 million) of money on the non-entity (she came in a distant 4th in a 4 man race for Governor in 2014) Mcginty.

She's never held elective office, so there's not a whole bunch of record to go after, but she has taken a lot of energy money, including over $100,000.00 from fracking interests, and she's trying to run as an environmentalist.

So, it's clear that she thinks that you fool enough people for long enough to get into office, and her dismal performance in the gubernatorial primary 2 years ago does not bode well for her ability as a campaigner, so no, just no.

Please, make Chuck Schumer cry.

OBama Really Wants His Poodle to Stay in the EU

Obama is now saying that if Britain votes to leave the EU, there won't be a free trade deal with Britain for over 10 years.

This is, of course, a shameless attempt to threaten the British voters into staying in the EU, so that US influence on this body is not diminished.

The US (IMNSHO correctly) that the UK will blindly promulgate US policies and US interests within the European Union:
The UK could take up to 10 years to negotiate trade deals with the US if it leaves the EU, Barack Obama has said.

In a BBC interview, the US president said: "It could be five years from now, 10 years from now before we were able to actually get something done."

Britain would also have less influence globally if it left, he added.

His warning over trade has angered UK campaigners for leaving the EU - with UKIP leader Nigel Farage dismissing Mr Obama's comments as "utter tosh".
As much as it pains me to agree with him, Nigel Farage is right.

23 April 2016

Linkage, Guaranteed Chomytz Free*

Prince died on Thursday. An eclectic artist who played a plethora of instruments, produced music, and directed and acted in movies.

He also had the best cameo ever on Animaniacs, which says a lot: (Actual dialogue from the show)

H/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

*Chomaytz is leavened bread, which is forbidden during the days of Pesach (Passover).

22 April 2016

What Joe Biden Said

In an interview with the New York Times, Biden makes a very trenchant point:

“I like the idea of saying, ‘We can do much more,’ because we can,” Mr. Biden said in an interview on the Washington-to-Wilmington, Del., Amtrak train he has ridden throughout four decades in national politics.

“I don’t think any Democrat’s ever won saying, ‘We can’t think that big — we ought to really downsize here because it’s not realistic,’ ” he said in a mocking tone. “C’mon man, this is the Democratic Party! I’m not part of the party that says, ‘Well, we can’t do it.’”
It puts something about Hillary's campaign for President in perspective.

Much like a dog chasing a car, she has no idea what to do if she catches the Presidency.

21 April 2016

Light Posting for the Next Few Days

We are frantically preparing for Pesach, which, ironically enough feels like a long slog through the desert.

Tomorrow is the first Seder.

So I am kind of busy.

Posted via mobile.

Deep Thought

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

20 April 2016

Useless Meatbag of the Day

Phillip Bump of the Washington Post, who wrote that Bernie Sanders wasn't telling the truth about his average donation being $27, because the current average is actually $27.88, and some months, it has gone as high as $29.14.

Much pearl clutching ensues.

When most of the internet called him a ……… well ……… "Useless Meatbag", he whined about it the next day


I Like this Catch 22

Uber and Lyft claim that their drivers are independent contractors, not employers.

Now San Francisco, accepting the Not-a-Taxi-is Really-a Taxi services argument, has has issued a notice that the drivers therefore require business licenses:

Uber and Lyft drivers have cruised the streets of San Francisco for years. But the city has now decided that drivers who work for more than seven days in a year need a business license.

Nearly 37,000 people have been identified by the city as drivers for either Uber or Lyft, according to a press release issued on Friday by city treasurer José Cisneros.

Cisneros did not say how the city came across a list of names, but the notice being sent to drivers comes from "two years of enforcement work, including multiple requests for information and subpoenas to get sufficient data about business operations" from companies like Lyft and Uber.

Knowing that both Lyft and Uber have both actively fought having information released, it's likely the data wasn't passed over voluntarily. San Francisco was not listed as a city that had requested data in Uber's transparency report, although its airport has information about 44,000 drivers.

"Uber partners with entrepreneurial drivers and as independent contractors, they are responsible for following appropriate local requirements," an Uber spokesperson said.

Lyft, on the other hand, was worried that forcing registration would compromise driver privacy.


Cisneros will start by sending out three batches of letters to the identified drivers over the coming days, according to the SF Chronicle. Each driver will need to register him or herself as a business within the next 30 days and pay a $91 annual registration fee and display the registration in the vehicle, or face additional fines. If each driver registers, that generates approximately an extra $3.37 million for the city's coffers.


Now San Francisco is flipping the argument around on the ride-hailing companies arguing that if their drivers are truly independent contractors, then they need these business licenses to be able to operate in the city.
Sweet, sweet schadenfreude.

They Are Taking the Genocidal Maniac and Slave Owner off the Front of the $20 Bill

And replacing him with abolitionist Harriet Tubman: (I love the irony)
Black abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman will appear on the front of the $20 bill, relocating the slaveholding former president Andrew Jackson to its rear, and founding father Alexander Hamilton will remain on the face of the $10 bill.
Now is time to start a campaign to get Jackson the architect of the Trail of Tears, completely off the $20 bill.

The man was ineluctably evil, and should not be celebrated.

Quote of the Day

But first, what would motivate any young person today to pull the plug?

Well maybe they should consider this for a moment. Who most wants you to stay on the grid? The advertisers. Your boss. Human Resources. The advertisers. Your parents (irony of ironies – once they distrusted it, now they need to tag you electronically, share your Facebook photos and message you to death). The advertisers. The government. Your local authority. Your school. Advertisers.

Well, if you’re young and have an ounce of pride, doesn’t that list say it all? So f%$# you, I’m Going Off The Grid.
Stephen Fry
(%$%# mine)

How Utterly Proper

George Osborne, the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer, has decided to exempt people that he sees as significant from money laundering regulations:

George Osborne this afternoon accepted an amendment to the Financial Services Bill which will see some Politically Exposed Persons and their families exempted from these anti-money laundering rules. Ministers will now “exclude specified categories of persons” from the list of so-called PEPs, as Osborne says it is “disproportionate” for banks to include MPs and relatives on the watch list. Mossack Fonseca will be able to whisk MPs and their families through the account opening process…
(emphasis original)

And once again, I have to note that this is not The Onion, it is reality ……… reality completely indistinguishable from the the pages of a parody magazine.

I am beginning to wish that Guy Fawkes had succeeded in the Gunpowder Plot.

H/t Naked Capitalism


Hillary Clinton won by double digits in New York.


Posted via mobile.

19 April 2016

F%$# Me, I Agree with Michael F%$#ing Kinsley

Michael Kinsley is the epitome of a mindless contrarian.

I refer to this mindset as "Michael Kinsley Disease".

And after nearly 4 decades of being shallow, and facile, and wrong, he finally gets one right when he calls out the foreign policy establishment in Washington, DC as immoral and incompetent:
Can our nation survive without taking advantage of the wisdom of self-described “foreign policy elites”? That is the question posed on Page 1 of The Post’s print edition on Saturday, under the headline “Foreign policy elites indecisive on Trump.” The Post’s Karen DeYoung reports that 121 Republican national security experts have signed a petition saying they would not serve in a Donald Trump administration, should democracy serve them up such an opportunity. Actually, in their eyes, it is less an opportunity than a possible obligation. We all have to decide whether to vote for Trump, which is a pretty easy decision for most people I know. But “foreign policy elites” have the further obligation of deciding whether to work in a Trump administration. This, apparently, is not an easy decision at all.


If you ask me (which no one is doing), I think our country might survive quite well without the advice of “foreign policy elites” — or without the guidance of retired generals such as David Petraeus. A Post columnist last week recommended retired generals in general, and Petraeus in particular, as a good source of presidents. This is a brilliant idea. Petraeus had to resign as director of the CIA after he got caught in a scandal involving both sex and classified information, so he covers all the bases in competing with the Clinton machine. And he certainly qualifies as a member of the foreign policy elite.

What, after all, have foreign policy elites of either party done for us lately? Paying attention to “foreign policy elites” has given us nothing but heartbreak in the past three and a half decades. That’s right, three and a half decades, or a third of a century if you prefer. That’s how long we’ve been mired in the Middle East. At first it was considered gauche and naïve to use the Vietnam-era term “quagmire” to describe the United States’ situation in the Middle East. No one objects to calling it a quagmire anymore.


Perhaps what’s so remarkable about this terrible recent history is how many countries we have managed to screw up without affecting our own very much. That’s what allows us to give ourselves credit for good intentions, without the need for any beneficial result. Or perhaps what’s so remarkable is that we’re still paying the slightest attention to foreign policy elites.
 I will put this down to a stopped clock being right twice a day.

It Turns out That There Is an Upside to Cruz Getting the Nomination

Congressman Peter King (R-NY) has said that, "I think I’ll take cyanide if Ted Cruz gets the nomination."

I don't think that he means it, but if Cruz gets the nomination, we need to shadow King with a pitcher of red Koolaid.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

The title of this article is, "I Wrote “ISIS Beer Funds!!!” in a Venmo Memo and the Government Detained My $42."

This is not The Onion

There have been similar issues with Iranians sending money by the peer to peer payment service during the Persian new year.

Good Point, But Wrong

Over at The New Republic, David Dayen observes that observes that that transcripts from Hillary Clinton's speeches to the Vampire Squid are irrelevant, because she has always been in Wall Street's pocket anyway:
I don’t want to see the transcripts from Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches.


The actual transcript is unnecessary because we already have enough in the public domain to know the real issue with these speeches: the rapport and camaraderie between political leaders and financial institutions, which results in a frame of mind that accepts their arguments and privileges their views. In fact, the best example of this comes from a speech that Clinton habitually touts as an example of her get-tough approach to Wall Street.

On the stump and in debates, including last week’s in Brooklyn, Clinton highlights a speech she made at Nasdaq in December 2007, in the thick of the foreclosure crisis. “When I was serving as the senator from New York, I did stand up to the banks,” Clinton said last week. “I did make it clear that their behavior would not be excused.”

In the speech, available here, she castigated Wall Street for “playing a significant role in the current problems,” for fueling irresponsible mortgage lending through securitization, and for having “shifted risk away from people who knew what was going on onto the people who did not.” Clinton has been criticized for this speech, however, because of a few lines where she said “there’s plenty of blame to go around” for the housing bubble, and that “homebuyers who paid extra fees to avoid documenting their income should have known they were getting in over their heads.”

You can read this as a throwaway nod to personal responsibility, a typical politician’s remark, when the thrust of the speech indicts Wall Street. I would argue that spreading around responsibility for something that was a demonstrably criminal action by lenders fits with Wall Street’s moralizing about deadbeat borrowers who should have known the risks. It’s a form of public shaming. And it arguably led to the lack of accountability we saw for the financial crisis—after all, if everybody is responsible, then ultimately nobody is responsible


When something could have been done to pressure mortgage servicers, Hillary Clinton, like many politicians, adopted their argument that they were prevented from helping homeowners. She believed their claims that they were hamstrung, when they weren’t. And I have to believe that’s attributable to proximity, access, and whose arguments get priority of place.

Wall Street purchases that priority of place simply by donating to campaigns, bringing politicians in for chats, marinating them in its worldview. Finance executives can make very compelling arguments about the complex intricacies of the financial system. They can sound charming and smart and logical. And in a moment of truth, they can get the payoff, when a powerful politician like Hillary Clinton makes a reasonable-sounding statement about mortgage servicers needing legal immunity.
On a strictly factual level, DDay is right:  We do not have to read her transcripts in order to know that she is, always has been, and likely always will be be Wall Street's stooge.

The only question is whether Hillary and her Evil Minions or not she will be a bigger stooge than Barack and his Evil Minions.

Needless to say, this sucks like 1000 Hoovers all going at once.

That being said, her the fact that she is a suck up to Wall Street means nothing without sound bites for the press to make it a real issue for most of the voting public.

That is the reality of our culture, media, and political system,


The Who, Can't Explain:

18 April 2016

Obamacare in a Nutshell

Marcy Wheeler sees the elephant in the room about Obamacare, and by elephant in the room, I mean Republican thinking:
Partly, though, Obamacare is designed to underinsure people, because there’s a belief that unless people feel the sting of obtaining care, they’ll get too much of it. “Bending the cost curve” under Obamacare is largely driven by increasing the costs of actually using insurance to the end user as opposed to, say, eliminating the many layers of private profit that doesn’t actually improve health care but makes it expensive.
This is the problem at the core of Obamacare, and it is why allowing a Medicare buy in or a public option would have been so helpful.

It would have created an alternative to the contemptible greedheads who Obama shovels money at, and an infrastructure to move onto real publicly funded healthcare.

Hillary Clinton Is the Kindest, Bravest, Warmest, Most Wonderful Human Being I've Ever Known

Over at Daily Kos, a diary has the best title ever:
Hillary Clinton is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known

By Steven D Monday Apr 18, 2016 · 1:45 PM EST 2016/04/18 · 13:45

I've finally come around, after seeing so many diaries on Daily Kos extolling her deserving qualities and virtues, to realizing that Hillary Clinton really is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known. Laugh all you want, but I can prove that she possesses each of those in abundance.
Read the rest, it's marvelous snark.

Quote of the Day

I believe Hillary Clinton is the George H. W. Bush of 2016.
Taylor Marsh
She notes that, "Bush 41 ran and won as Reagan’s third term, exactly like Secretary Clinton is running for Obama’s third term." 

It is a particularly significant observation because she was a big supporter of Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Boaty McBoatface Wins!

And the crowd goes wild:
The internet has spoken -- and "RRS Boaty McBoatface" is the people's choice to name a $300 million state-of-the-art polar research ship.
Over 7,000 names were submitted to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) poll which closed April 16, but "Boaty McBoatface" won easily with 124,109 votes. 

It all began when the NERC invited the public to christen the 129-meter long icebreaker, the largest and most advanced British research vessel to date.

They asked for names that were inspirational, such as a historical figure or a landmark.

However, after former BBC presenter James Hand cheekily suggested the Boaty moniker it quickly became the crowd favorite over more traditional names like "RRS Henry Worsley" after the British explorer who died in January while attempting a solo, unaided mission across the Antarctic.


It spawned countless silly riffs.

A UK train service from Portsmouth to Waterloo was briefly renamed "Trainy McTrainface" much to the amusement of its passengers.


There's no guarantee that they will follow through on the public's choice but whatever its name, the vessel will be setting sail for Antarctica in 2019.
I think that an MP should bring this up during question time, because it would be epic.

17 April 2016

Oh Snap!

The Parliament for the Belgian province of Wallonia and Romania will not approve the EU-Canada trade deal.
The government of the French-speaking Belgian region of Wallonia has refused to ratify the EU-Canada free trade agreement approved by the Belgian cabinet, the region's minister-president said.
"As long as we do not have all the guarantees…. it will be impossible for us to ratify such a text [the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)], and it is not possible to give full powers to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to sign it either," Paul Magnette was quoted by the RBTF broadcaster as saying late on Wednesday.
The opponents draw a parallel between CETA and the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which has been criticized for the lack of transparency in the negotiations and the power it would give to international corporations at the expense of small and medium-sized businesses.
The guarantees appear to deal primarily with the Investor State Dispute Settlement system, while Romania is upset that it does not have visa free travel to Canada, and the lack of support on this matter from its EU partners:
Romania will not ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada which was concluded in 2014, as an angry reaction to the refusal by Ottawa to lift the visa requirement of its nationals, but also for the lack of EU solidarity for solving the issue.

The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published a position regarding Canada maintaining the visa requirement for Romanian citizens, expressing disappointment that Ottawa had not delivered on its promise to solve the issue, contained in the Statement of the 2014 EU-Canada summit.

Canada has a visa-free regime with all EU countries except Romania and Bulgaria.
These deals no longer being a sure thing is good.

Tariff barriers are minimal now, and these deals are really about giving rent seekers like Pharma, Music, Film, and Finance an opportunity for increased profits.

The secondary goal is to create a regime where profit trumps government power and the will of the people.

Shutting this down shutting this down is a very good thing.

Yet Another of My Cousin's* Brilliant Ideas

As you may be aware, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein* (D-CA) have proposed a bill requiring that all encryption include a back door for the authorities. It appears that the bill as written also outlaws things like MP3 and JPEG files:
The proposed bill put forward by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to force US companies to build backdoors into their encryption systems has quickly run into trouble.

Less than 24 hours after the draft Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016 was released, more than 43,000 signatures have been added to a petition calling for the bill to be withdrawn. The petition, organized by CREDO Action, calls for Congress to block the proposed law as a matter of urgency.

Meanwhile, in the technical world, experts have been going through the legislation and pointing out glaring holes in the draft bill. Bruce Schneier, the guy who literally wrote the books on modern cryptography, noted that the bill would make most of what the NSA does illegal, unless No Such Agency is willing to backdoor its own encrypted communications.

"This is the most braindead piece of legislation I've ever seen," Schneier – who has just been appointed a Fellow of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard – told The Reg. "The person who wrote this either has no idea how technology works or just doesn't care."

He pointed out that it isn't just cryptographic code that would be affected by this poorly written legislation. Schneier, like pretty much everyone, uses lossy compression algorithms to reduce the size of images for sending via email but – as it won't work in reverse and add back the data removed – this code could be banned by the law, too. Files that can't be decrypted on demand to their original state, and files that can't be decompressed back to their exact originals, all look the same to this draft law.
In the, "Has no idea how technology works or just doesn't care," issue, I will go for both.

This bill is a mindbogglingly stupid idea.

*Full disclosure, my great grandfather, Harry Goldman, and her grandfather, Sam Goldman were brothers, though we have never met, either in person or electronically.

16 April 2016

The House of Saud Needs to Go Cheney Itself

It appears that the corrupt Neanderthals in Ryadh are upset about a bill in Congress that might make them accountable for their support of terrorists:
Saudi officials have long denied that the kingdom had any role in the Sept. 11 plot, and the 9/11 Commission found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.” But critics have noted that the commission’s narrow wording left open the possibility that less senior officials or parts of the Saudi government could have played a role. Suspicions have lingered, partly because of the conclusions of a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks that cited some evidence that Saudi officials living in the United States at the time had a hand in the plot.

Those conclusions, contained in 28 pages of the report, still have not been released publicly.

The dispute comes as bipartisan criticism is growing in Congress about Washington’s alliance with Saudi Arabia, for decades a crucial American ally in the Middle East and half of a partnership that once received little scrutiny from lawmakers. Last week, two senators introduced a resolution that would put restrictions on American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which have expanded during the Obama administration.

Families of the Sept. 11 victims have used the courts to try to hold members of the Saudi royal family, Saudi banks and charities liable because of what the plaintiffs charged was Saudi financial support for terrorism. These efforts have largely been stymied, in part because of a 1976 law that gives foreign nations some immunity from lawsuits in American courts.

The Senate bill is intended to make clear that the immunity given to foreign nations under the law should not apply in cases where nations are found culpable for terrorist attacks that kill Americans on United States soil. If the bill were to pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the president, it could clear a path for the role of the Saudi government to be examined in the Sept. 11 lawsuits.

Obama administration officials counter that weakening the sovereign immunity provisions would put the American government, along with its citizens and corporations, in legal risk abroad because other nations might retaliate with their own legislation. Secretary of State John Kerry told a Senate panel in February that the bill, in its current form, would “expose the United States of America to lawsuits and take away our sovereign immunity and create a terrible precedent.”

The bill’s sponsors have said that the legislation is purposely drawn very narrowly — involving only attacks on American soil — to reduce the prospect that other nations might try to fight back.


The bill is an anomaly in a Congress fractured by bitter partisanship, especially during an election year. It is sponsored by Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York. It has the support of an unlikely coalition of liberal and conservative senators, including Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, and Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. It passed through the Judiciary Committee in January without dissent.
My heart is bleeding borscht over their discomfort.

We Voted Today

Today was the first day for Maryland early voting, so Sharon* and I went to vote.

I noticed three things:
  • The oddest campaign sign of the season (see picture) wherein one Ray Bly campaigns as a mentally ill child abuser.
  • There were no Hillary Clinton signs outside of the early voting sites.
  • Maryland has gone from touch screen to optically scanned paper ballots.
I have to figure that the Clinton campaign has strip mined staff from Maryland for their "firewall" in New York State.

The change from touch screen to optoscan is a good thing in my opinion.

It's faster, and it retains a paper trail for a possible recount.

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

15 April 2016

Bernie Sanders Walks the Union Walk

Bernie Sanders walked the picket line with striking Verizon workers, and then the thin skinned CEO of the telco called the Senator contemptible.

Bernie responded that he welcomed the contempt of the these overpaid CEOs.

It a appears that the membership of the Transit Workers Union Local 100 also appreciated the contempt shown by those CEOs , because their membship overwhelmingly voted to endorse Sanders for the New York primary on Wednesday.

Not a surprise.  After all, his opponent was on the board of directors for the virulently anti-union Walmart for years.

So Not a Surprise

And in what might be the last chapter of the lack of investor due diligence that is the blood testing firm Theranos, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it will ban the top three executives at the firm from the test business:
Theranos, the high-profile clinical laboratory company, had a day of reckoning yesterday. That’s when The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a story revealing that Theranos was sent a letter by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) providing notice of sanctions.

In a letter to Theranos executives, CMS said it is prepared to:
  • revoke the company’s CLIA certificate;
  • impose a fine of $10,000 per day;
  • suspend and cancel the lab’s approval to receive Medicare payments; and
  • impose a two-year ban on the owner, operator, and laboratory director for owning or operating a clinical laboratory.
Pathologists and medical laboratory professionals will recognize that these are among the most severe sanctions that CMS can impose on a laboratory under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). Further, clinical pathologists who currently serve as medical directors of CLIA laboratories will find it useful to read the entire letter sent to Theranos on March 18, as it describes how CMS viewed the responses that Theranos provided following a January 25, 2016, letter from CMS describing deficiencies identified during an inspection of the Theranos CLIA lab facility in Newark, California.


“After careful review, we have determined that the laboratory’s submission does not constitute a credible allegation of compliance and acceptable evidence of correction for the deficiencies cited during the CLIA recertification and complaint survey completed December 23, 2015, and does not demonstrate that the laboratory has come into Condition-level compliance and abated immediate jeopardy. In general, we find that the statements made in the allegation of compliance and evidence of correction: 1) failed to adequately address the deficient practice cited; 2) are incomplete and failed to meet the criteria of acceptable evidence of correction; 3) do not ensure sustained compliance; and 4) show a lack of understanding of the CLIA requirements.
Less than a year ago, Theranos had a valuation in the billions, because it was promising a new technology that would allow for inexpensive blood tests on just a drop of blood. (A little finger stick)

The technology has never worked, even under the most controlled conditions, like demonstrations to investors, but it was treated like the next big thing for reasons that have never made sense to me.

My guess is that the founder of the company, Elizabeth Holmes, dazzled people with a rather spot on impersonation of Steve Jobs (she only wears black turtle necks), which convinced people who knew better that the nothing-burger business model of dot-coms could be applied to healthcare.

14 April 2016

I Just Saw the Debates

Hillary and Bernie went toe to toe in Brooklyn.

I was watching, and Charlie was hooting and hollering like it was the denouement of the next Star Wars movie.

He has Hillary pegged as being part of the Empire.

My quick take:
  • It was the most contentious debate yet.
  • Wolf Blitzer could be replaced as moderator by a toaster with a not particularly advanced operating system.  (I should note here that it is not my intent to offend any toasters)
  • Hillary Clinton kept filibustering, and it drove Charlie nuts.
  • Hillary Clinton seemed to be seething with barely suppressed anger at times.
  • It really is a treat to hear Bernie Sanders say, "Yuge."
No clue as to what the pundits will be saying in the morning.

    Thanks Elizabeth

    The Federal Reserve and the FDIC just rejected the living wills required under Dodd Frank of the 5 largest banks in America:
    “The goal to end too big to fail and protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts remains just that: only a goal,” Thomas M. Hoenig, the vice chairman of the F.D.I.C., said in a statement.

    The regulators were responding to the so-called living wills that banks must submit to regulators on a regular basis to explain how the banks plan to enter bankruptcy in an orderly fashion in case of a crisis. The living wills are a requirement of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, intended to help make large financial institutions less of a threat to the wider economy.

    The Fed and the F.D.I.C., which jointly oversee the largest banks, agreed that the plans put forward by five of the big banks, JPMorgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, State Street and Bank of New York Mellon, were “not credible or would not facilitate an orderly resolution under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.”

    Only one of the biggest banks, Citigroup, was given a passing grade by both agencies, though it too was told that its plans needed improvements. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley received passing grades from only one of the two agencies.
    Of course the Vampire Squid got a passing grade.

    BTW, the only reason that this happened is because Elizabeth Warren nailed Fed chair Janet Yellen to the wall over her inaction on this Dodd Frank requirement:

    A serious dust-up occurred on July 15, 2014 during a Senate Banking hearing between Senator Elizabeth Warren and Fed Chair Janet Yellen on the matter of these living wills. Warren told Yellen that at the time of its collapse in 2008, Lehman Brothers had $639 billion in assets and 209 subsidiaries and it took three years to unwind the bank in bankruptcy. Warren singled out JPMorgan Chase for comparison, saying that it has $2.5 trillion in assets and 3,391 subsidiaries.

    Dodd-Frank specifically states that these wind-down plans must be “credible” each year or the Fed and FDIC must reject them and force the banks to take remedial steps such as simplifying their structure or selling off assets.

    Yellen was clearly not prepared for this line of questioning and stumbled badly in her answers to Warren. She said the Fed was pursuing a “process,” that the plans are “complex” with some banks submitting plans that are “tens of thousands of pages.” Yellen then summed up with this:

    “I think what was intended is this interpretation you’re talking about, whether they’re credible, in other words, do they facilitate an orderly resolution, and I think we need to give these firms feedback.”

    This hearing came more than six years after the greatest Wall Street banking collapse since the Great Depression and Warren was visibly agitated by these stonewalling answers from Yellen. Warren responded:
    “I have to say, Chair Yellen, I think the language in the statute is pretty clear, that you are required, the Fed is required, to call it every year on whether these institutions have a credible plan — and I remind you, there are very effective tools that you have available to you that you can use if those plans are not credible, including forcing these financial institutions to simplify their structure or forcing them to liquidate some of their assets — in other words, break them up.

    “And I just want to say one more thing about this process, the plans are designed not just to be reviewed by the Fed and the FDIC, but also to bring some kind of confidence to the marketplace and to the American taxpayer that in fact there really is a plan for doing something if one of these banks starts to implode.”

    The public has never been allowed to see those 10,000 pages of what it would take to unwind one of the banking behemoths but is instead provided with a mere glimpse of each bank’s plan. Warren’s reference to bringing “confidence to the marketplace” was called into further question yesterday when the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its own study on the living wills, which they refer to as “Resolution Plans.”

    The GAO noted that the FDIC’s Board of Directors determined that all of the 2013 plans submitted by systemically important banks with more than $250 billion in nonbank assets were “not credible” or “would not facilitate an orderly resolution under the Code.” The Federal Reserve, however, made no such determination and simply said the banks would have to improve their plans going forward.

    The GAO also gave low marks to the regulators in terms of public transparency on the living will process, writing in the report that “FDIC and the Federal Reserve are considering publicly providing more information about their resolution plan reviews. Federal Reserve officials told us that while they were continuously evaluating the release of more plan information into the public domain, they did not have a time frame for reaching a decision on this issue. FDIC officials also told us that the regulator was considering disclosing more information about its review process but had not yet reached the point of sharing such information with the public.”
    Warren is one of the good ones.

    I Will Dine on His Tears, and They Will Be Sweet

    It looks like I Heart Radio, the company known as Clear Channel before Bain Capital looted it, is on the edge of collapse, and it looks like Rush Limbaugh will be facing a far less generous contract when it is renewed:
    One of the favorite pastimes for sports fans is commiserating over the worst contract their home team ever made; guffawing over management’s decision to waste tens of millions of dollars for a player who never justified the huge payday. (See: Gilbert Arenas.)

    For talk radio, there’s probably only one contract that enters that realm of notoriety: Rush Limbaugh’s eight-year, $400-million deal, signed in the summer of 2008 with his longtime radio employer Premiere Radio Networks.

    Owned by Clear Channel Communications, which has since changed its name to iHeartRadio, Premiere’s Limbaugh deal instantly dwarfed any payout in AM/FM history. (Only Howard Stern’s contract with Sirius was larger.) The contract, which included a staggering $100 million signing bonus, never panned out as the wheels began to come off Limbaugh’s radio empire.

    This year, his contract is up and the timing couldn’t be worse. The talker is facing ratings hurdles, aging demographics, and an advertising community that increasingly views him as toxic, thanks in part to his days-long sexist meltdown over Sandra Fluke in 2012. (He’s also stumbling through the GOP primary season.)

    Concurrently, iHeartRadio’s parent company, iHeartMedia, is heading to court, teetering on bankruptcy. The once-dominant radio behemoth is saddled with $20 billion in debt, thanks to a misguided leveraged takeover engineered by Bain Capital in 2008, the same year the radio giant inked its disastrous Limbaugh deal.
    I am so amused that in its own way, Mitt Rmoney's bucket shop is involved in Limbaugh's downfall.

    I am VERY amused.