30 June 2016

I Believe that I Have Said this Before, bit it Bears Repeating

It's becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between people talking on their cell phone Bluetooth comma and people who have issues with schizophrenia.

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29 June 2016

Not the Onion: Hillary Clinton Proposes Welfare for Rich White Boys

She has now proposed that entitled rich kids who launch startups will get 3 years forbearance on their student loans:
Hillary Clinton has a bold plan to ensure the bright future of every hardworking American who has the considerable resources required to start his or her own company: three years of student debt deferrals, for every single startup founder. Wonderful news for our striving technocrat class—they need all the help they can get.


What else do we need? Less debt, obviously. And who are the people most in need of debt forgiveness? The sort of people—overwhelmingly highly educated, white, male people—who launch startups.

Enter Hillary’s plan:

Hillary is committed to breaking down barriers and leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs and innovators who are launching their own start-ups. Hillary will allow entrepreneurs to put their federal student loans into a special status while they get their new ventures off the ground. For millions of young Americans, this would mean deferment from having to make any payments on their student loans for up to three years—zero interest and zero principal—as they work through the critical start-up phase of new enterprises. Hillary will explore a similar deferment incentive not just to founders of enterprises, but to early joiners – such as the first 10 or 20 employees.
What’s more, the economic benefits will trickle down to those of us who don’t have the courage or inheritance (“more than 80% of funding for new businesses comes from personal savings and friends and family”) to start our own hovercraft-sharing services and toothpaste disruption ventures. Startups, with their famously long lifespans and reliable revenue models, will eventually provide jobs (well, independent contractor agreements) for all of us down the road, as long as they don’t shutter due to lack of users, like Washboard did, or succumb to an overwhelming tide of warranted criticism, like SketchFactor.
This is, of course, absurd, but it is a window into who Hillary Clinton's views on society and virtue, and as Lambert Strether pithily notes,  it ain't a pretty picture:
Exactly as with health care (“never, ever”), Clinton seeks to destroy education as a public good. Therefore, she seeks, like a Victorian, to sort the worthy creditors, from the unworthy (and to create another complex administrative apparatus filed with credentialed 10%-ers (her base (ka-ching)) to do the sorting for her.
Her statements on single payer mirror this, as does her comments on Sanders' tuition proposal, where she wanted to establish a whole new bureaucracy, and the attendant costs, and humiliation to the recipients.

Hillary Clinton in her teens supported Barry Goldwater.  She has described herself as a former "Goldwater Girl."

It looks like you can get the girl out of the Goldwater, but you can't get the Goldwater out of the girl.

I am so glad that I live in Maryland, where my vote does not count.

Deep Thought

I was at my doctor for a check up, and he told me a Russian proverb that says, “A Husband is a head of the family, but the wife is the neck of the family.”

The head is in charge, but the neck moves the head right, and the neck moves the head left, and the neck moves the head up, and the neck moves the head down.

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28 June 2016

Senseless Bombs, but No Boot Laces

Clinton confidant, likely selection for Secretary of Defense, and full time psychopath, Michele Flournoy has announced that she does not want to send ground troops into Syria, she just wants to drop bombs on children:
Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy said Wednesday that she does not advocate sending U.S. ground troops to Syria to fight President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

On Monday, Defense One, the national security and defense news outlet of Atlantic Media, reported that Flournoy had “called for ‘limited military coercion’ to help remove Assad from power in Syria, including a ‘no bombing’ zone over parts of Syria held by U.S.-backed rebels.”

Reporter Patrick Tucker interpreted those comments, which Flournoy made at a Center for New American Security conference, to mean that she “said she would direct U.S. troops to push President Bashar al-Assad’s forces out of southern Syria and would send more American boots to fight the Islamic State in the region.”


After publication, Flournoy wrote a letter to the editor of Defense One denying that she advocates “putting U.S. combat troops on the ground to take territory from Assad’s forces or remove Assad from power.”

Tucker told The Intercept that Defense One did not issue a correction because they felt they accurately reported Flournoy’s policy position. “Strike weapons at standoff distance is troops,” said Tucker. “Those are military personnel. That is U.S. military power — at war with the Assad regime. There is just no way around it.”

He added, “We took a very inclusive use of the word ‘troops,’ one that matched the literal definition of ‘troops,’ but nowhere do we ever suggest or say ‘ground troops.'”

Flournoy did not deny the entire report that she favors increased U.S. intervention; for instance, she acknowledged her support for U.S. “strikes using standoff weapons — to retaliate against Syrian military targets” to enforce the no-bomb zone.


Flournoy’s stated foreign policy position would still increase U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war beyond what President Obama and top military officials have been willing to commit.
Yes, blowing up schools and children, and women, and the elderly is wonderful, because it's American bombs.

That worked so well in Libya.

Impeach Clarence Thomas

Generally, I think that Supreme Court justices should not be impeached for their legal opinions, but this is bad enough that he needs to be fired ……… out of a cannon ……… and into the sun:
"It imposes a lifetime ban on gun ownership for a single intentional nonconsensual touching of a family member...the majority seeks to expand that already broad rule to any reckless physical injury or nonconsensual touch. I would not extend the statute into that constitutionally problematic territory."
"Non-consensual touching" is nice, I think. Sonny Liston once engaged in that professionally, I believe.
What a contemptible excuse for a human being.

Read Taibbi

He makes what should be the obvious point, "If you believe there's such a thing as "too much democracy," you probably don't believe in democracy at all:
In 1934, at the dawn of the Stalinist Terror, the great Russian writer Isaac Babel offered a daring quip at the International Writers Conference in Moscow:
Everything is given to us by the party and the government. Only one right is taken away: the right to write badly.
A onetime Soviet loyalist who was eventually shot as an enemy of the state, Babel was likely trying to say something profound: that the freedom to make mistakes is itself an essential component of freedom.

As a rule, people resent being saved from themselves. And if you think depriving people of their right to make mistakes makes sense, you probably never had respect for their right to make decisions at all.

This is all relevant in the wake of the Brexit referendum, in which British citizens narrowly voted to exit the European Union.

Because the vote was viewed as having been driven by the same racist passions that are fueling the campaign of Donald Trump, a wide swath of commentators suggested that democracy erred, and the vote should perhaps be canceled, for the Britons' own good.

Social media was filled with such calls. "Is it just me, or does #Brexit seem like a moment when the government should overrule a popular referendum?" wrote one typical commenter.

On op-ed pages, there was a lot of the same. Harvard economics professor and chess grandmaster Kenneth Rogoff wrote a piece for the Boston Globe called "Britain's democratic failure"………


I would argue that voters are the critical ingredient to save elites from themselves, but Sullivan sees it the other way, and has Plato on his side. Though some of his analysis seems based on a misread of ancient history (see here for an amusing exploration of the topic), he's right about Plato, the source of a lot of these "the ancients warned us about democracy" memes. He just left out the part where Plato, at least when it came to politics, was kind of a jerk.

The great philosopher despised democracy, believing it to be a system that blurred necessary social distinctions, prompting children, slaves and even animals to forget their places. He believed it a system that leads to over-permissiveness, wherein the people "drink too deeply of the strong wine of freedom."


You have to be a snob of the first order, completely high on your own gas, to try to apply these arguments to present-day politics, imagining yourself as an analog to Plato's philosopher-kings.


"Too much democracy" used to be an argument we reserved for foreign peoples who tried to do things like vote to demand control over their own oil supplies.


It doesn't mean much to be against torture until the moment when you're most tempted to resort to it, or to have faith in voting until the result of a particular vote really bothers you. If you think there's ever such a thing as "too much democracy," you probably never believed in it in the first place. And even low-Information voters can sense it.
He's right.  As political philosopher and political prankster Dick Tuck once said, "The people have spoken, the bastards."

At the end of the day, an fair election is a fair election.

The Intrigue Behind New Labour's Attempted Coup

As you may or may not have heard, the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) just voted no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

The ostensible reason for this is that Corbyn was not sufficiently supportive of the EU in the recent Brexit vote, which is not a surprise, given that he has always been a Euroskeptic on the left.

The absurdity, of course, is that they are saying that he should have been more supportive of Tory Prime Minister David Cameron's exercise in stepping on his own dick.

Someone does not understand the concept of "Opposition Party", methinks.

The reality, of course, is that this has been in the works ever since Corbyn won party elections 9 months ago, because 3rd way politicians are more than willing to destroy the chances of their party to win an election in order to maintain their own power within the party.

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

The PLPs will claim that they fear that Corbyn would lead them to an electoral catastrophe, but they were the ones who put Ed Miliband, who is a poster child for electoral incompetence in charge the last time around.

That being said, it appears that there is a method to this madness: On July 6, the Chilcot Report, an investigation into how the UK found itself part of the invasion of Iraq, will come out, and Corbyn has been very clear that once it does come out, he will apologize on behalf of Labour, and will (depending on the specifics) label Tony Blair a war criminal:
No rational person could blame Jeremy Corbyn for Brexit. So why are the Blairites moving against Corbyn now, with such precipitate haste?

The answer is the Chilcot Report. It is only a fortnight away, and though its form will be concealed by thick layers of establishment whitewash, the basic contours of Blair’s lies will still be visible beneath. Corbyn had deferred to Blairite pressure not to apologise on behalf of the Labour Party for the Iraq War until Chilcot is published.

For the Labour Right, the moment when Corbyn as Labour leader stands up in parliament and condemns Blair over Iraq, is going to be as traumatic as it was for the hardliners of the Soviet Communist Party when Khruschev denounced the crimes of Stalin. It would also destroy Blair’s carefully planned post-Chilcot PR strategy. It is essential to the Blairites that when Chilcot is debated in parliament in two weeks time, Jeremy Corbyn is not in place as Labour leader to speak in the debate. The Blairite plan is therefore for the parliamentary party to depose him as parliamentary leader and get speaker John Bercow to acknowledge someone else in that fictional position in time for the Chilcot debate, with Corbyn remaining leader in the country but with no parliamentary status.

Yes, they are that nuts.

If the fault line for the Tories is Europe, for Labour it is the Middle East. Those opposing Corbyn are defined by their enthusiasm for bombing campaigns that kill Muslim children. ……… Never underestimate the Blairite fury at being shown not just to be liars but to be wrong. Iraq is their Achilles heel and they are extremely touchy about it.
See also here, where Martin Odoni memorably tells the MPs opposing Corbyn, who he calls, "Red Tories", to "Get Stuffed":

With the Chilcot Report into the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq War due for release net week, that ‘riddance’ is now urgent. Corbyn made clear months ago that he is in favour of 2003 Prime Minister Tony Blair being tried for war crimes, should Chilcot find solid evidence of deceit to get a war declaration – which seems inevitable. If Corbyn is still Labour leader on 6th July, he will condemn Blair and his allies in the Chilcot debate without reservation. The ‘New Labour’ brand of watered-down Toryism will be finished, and every member of the party who voted for the Iraq War will be permanently tarnished by it. The only way of avoiding it is to have a leader who will fight to protect them, which Corbyn will not do.
Of interest is that as leader of Labour, Corbyn does not have need to be nominated by at least 15% of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), and I can see no way that he loses a popular vote if an actual leadership election occurs.   (Just 9 months ago, he scored the largest victory in a Labour leader election ever).

I'd make a Game of Thrones reference here, but I don't watch the show.

Stopped Clock, Philippines Edition

Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines Donald Trump is due to be sworn in in a few days.

Today, he told the Catholic Church to STFU about birth control:
The Philippines' tough-guy president-elect is turning his bare-knuckles campaign tactics on a potent adversary: the Roman Catholic Church and its opposition to artificial birth control.

Rodrigo Duterte, who takes office Thursday, is known for never mincing words or shying from a fight. He has threatened, presumably in jest, to chop off the penises of men who resist his proposals for wide-scale vasectomies, according to a report by the Associated Press on Monday. And he is on record as cursing the pope after a papal visit to the Philippines caused massive traffic jams in Manila.

But despite his famously vulgar utterances, Duterte appears to be dead serious about his crusade to lower the birthrate in his impoverished and fast-growing country of 102 million, where the majority-Catholic population has increased by 10 million in six years. The Philippines' birthrate of 2.9 children per family is much lower than in many African countries, where some average more than six children per family, but it is much higher than in Europe and in other Asian countries, including Japan and South Korea, which average 1.4 and 1.2 average births per family, respectively.

"I will reinstall the program of family planning. Three is enough," Duterte said Monday in a speech in Davao City, where he has governed as mayor or vice mayor for 22 years and where he instituted an ambitious policy of birth control and sterilization.

On Sunday, speaking on his weekly TV show from Davao, Duterte accused the church of keeping the public "in total ignorance" about birth control and frightening Catholics into submission. “You tell the children that they will go to hell. You always use that to scare them. But that is not true. Hell is here,” he told the audience, according to the website Politiko. Roman Catholic officials in the Philippines have opposed artificial birth control and advocate only natural family-planning methods.
This guy does appear to be a bit of a nut job, but he's right on this issue.

27 June 2016

Women of American: 1 — The State of Texas: 0

The Supreme Court just ruled that Texas' antiabortion law is unconstitutional:
Putting the right to abortion back on the same constitutional footing the Supreme Court laid down nearly a quarter-century ago, a divided Supreme Court on Monday swept away new forms of state restrictions on the way clinics can function. Together with recent refusals by the Court to allow states to narrow the scope of the abortion right itself, the new ruling in Whole Woman’s Health Clinic v. Hellerstedt thwarted a wave of new laws against women’s choice to end pregnancy.


The Casey decision had partly reaffirmed the basic abortion rights ruling of 1973, Roe v. Wade, but still protected a wide range of choice for a women to seek an abortion up to “viability” — the point at which the fetus would be capable of living if delivered from the woman’s body. Many state legislatures have recently tried to ban abortions before that point, but the Supreme Court has refused to hear defenses of those new laws, and Breyer’s opinion noted that the Court still follows the 1992 standard.

At issue in the new case, named for an abortion clinic in San Antonio, were two parts of a Texas law (“H.B. 2”) passed by the legislature three years ago. Both provisions were ruled unconstitutional Monday: a requirement that any doctor performing an abortion have a privilege to admit patients to a regulate hospital within thirty miles of the clinic; and a requirement that every abortion clinic’s facilities be upgraded to equal those of a surgical center.

Unlike the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the five-Justice majority refused to accept the word of the Texas legislature that both of the measures it enacted would protect women’s health. The task of judging whether a law puts an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to abortion, the new ruling declared firmly, belongs with the courts, not the legislatures.

Both of the restrictions in H.B. 2, the Court declared, put an undue burden on a woman’s access to abortion, and thus cannot stand. Although the Court’s opinion never once questioned the motives of the state legislature, even though challengers to the two restrictions had argued that the health-and-safety argument was a cover for anti-abortion sentiment, his opinion was filled with findings that the legislation would do just the opposite, and imperil the health of pregnant women.
I expected a 4-4 tie.

There are about 20 states where new abortion restrictions are now likely to be reversed.

Good news today.

Tweet of the Day

I'm not sure if the folks at Facebook and Twitter consider this a feature or a bug, but to my mind it's a bug.

H/t naked capitalism

Daym! They Just Made Donald Trump Look Classy

A group called Tramps Against Trump will send you nude selfies for voting against Trump:
While lots of women have shown their opposition to the billionaire in a range of ways, one group is taking a particularly unique approach. They’re called Tramps Against Trump, and if you vote for anyone but Donald Trump, they will send you a nude photo.
I need to talk to NASA.  I have to leave this world.

The Internal Polls Must be Fascinating

I don't know what the Hillary Clinton campaign is seeing in their polls, but one of her PACs is dumping 10½ million dollars into Pennsylvania.

The Republicans haven't won a Presidential election in Pennsylvania since 1988.

Obviously, it is illegal for an independent PAC to coordinate, this has no relation to what the Clinton campaign is thinking (and according to Gilbert and Sullivan, married men never flirt).

If you believe that, then I have some swamp land in Florida you might be interested in purchasing.

One can look at this as the Clinton campaign taking nothing for granted, (glass half full) but if the past is precis, and panic mode does seem to be how the Clinton campaign operates, so I am inclined to see this glass as half empty.

Quote of the Day

It seems to me that the alleged “good guys” — the liberal, cosmopolitan class of which I myself am a part — have fallen into habits of ridiculing, demonizing, writing off, or, in our best moments, merely patronizing huge swathes of the polities to which we belong. They may do the same to us, but we are not toddlers, that is no excuse. In the United States, in Europe, we are allowing ourselves to disintegrate and arguing about who is to blame. Let’s all be better than that.
Chris Arnade
The comment is about the Brexit, but I think that it can be applied more generally.

Well, That Didn't Take Long

Writing, (where else) in The Telegraph Boris Johnson just wrote an editorial, "I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe – and always will be."

He's like a dog who has finally caught that car, and has no clue what to do with it.


A house cat and a lynx hang out at the zoo. Cuteness overload!

Good Point

While there is a lot of finger pointing about the Brexit vote, there is a point to be made that the elites who support the EU and the Neoliberal agenda:
Over the past decade, elites broke the world, and were unrepentant about their failure. They created the conditions for the worst economic crisis in nearly a century, and made sure that their elite friends at the top would scoop up the post-crisis gains, stranding the vast majority of people. They decided their project of globalization and liberalization mattered more than democracy. Brexit is among the first tangible responses.

Yes, the victorious campaign to leave the European Union won on the basis of xenophobia and the demonization of immigrants. For anyone of a cosmopolitan bent it’s a terrible outcome. And those with long enough memories to remember the last time European nations broke apart instead of coming together will be pained by the outcome.

But if you tell people you know what’s best for them for years and years while their prospects wither and their lives are immiserated, at some point you should expect some kind of reaction. Practically all of the U.K.’s elites—including the leaders of both major political parties—supported remaining in the EU, and couldn’t convince enough of their citizens to go along. Democracy was the poison pill that halted the European project. And now, its architects have a choice to make: admit nothing is wrong with their abhorrent excuse for leadership and lose the rest of the continent, or change course and embrace the views of their citizens instead of ignoring them.

Consider how Europe acted after the 2008 financial crisis. They demanded balanced budgets and even surpluses from member countries that had no ability to both run them and provide for their citizens. They viewed every appeal from those countries, assembled mostly in southern Europe, as a personal affront. They turned a global recession into a morality play, so they could scold the weak sisters of the Eurozone as lazy slugabeds who deserved to suffer.

And they didn’t just do this out of spite: they explicitly wanted to empower multinational conglomerates at the expense of independent domestic producers. Last year’s list of demands for the Greek economy from the “troika” (the European Union, European Central Bank and the IMF) had little to do with preventing corruption and furthering economic opportunity. They were mostly about breaking the power of the local publishing industry, journalists, olive oil makers, mom and pop retailers, and so on. The goal was to make way for outside corporations and throw over the internal political and social culture.


But you must pair that with the arrogance of the elites, both in London and Brussels, to the growing desperation in the countryside. The technocratic administration of policy in the EU is obtuse to the average Briton or Italian or Frenchman. They viewed democracy the way most people view mosquito bites, as a nuisance rather than a collective voice worth listening to. Euroskepticism grew amid this neglect. For all the talk of burdensome migration, Leave did best in rural communities with few, if any, immigrants. These are the cities and towns that lost out from globalization, where deindustrialization has wiped them out and left them flat. Anger at economic stagnation played as much of a role in Brexit as anger at faceless foreigners allegedly ruining British society.


What Leave offers, a toxic stew of isolation and racism, isn’t any good either. But when elites spend this long doing nothing for large swathes of the population, they’re willing to listen to anyone with a different idea.
I would also note that these elites, with their "Rising Tides Lift All Boats" rhetoric have been consistently wrong for the past 50 years, and disastrously wrong over the past decade.

The rule by the "Technocrats" leads to not just undemocratic, but anti-democratic actions, and a complete lack of accountability.

This is how we ended up in our current state of affairs and how the EU ended up being run by people who are blithely wrong, because there are never any consequences to them or their policies when they are wrong.

The strength of democratic institutions is that if those making policy have screwed up badly enough, that they get tossed out and replaced.

Absent this, those in power will continue pursue failed policies, because they have no incentive to admit failure and fix things.

26 June 2016

And the CIA's History of Ineptitude Continues

What a surprise. The weapons that the CIA is showering on its pet rebels in Syria have largely been resold on black markets:
Weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels have been systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials.

Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, F.B.I. officials believe after months of investigating the attack, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The existence of the weapons theft, which ended only months ago after complaints by the American and Saudi governments, is being reported for the first time after a joint investigation by The New York Times and Al Jazeera. The theft, involving millions of dollars of weapons, highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of programs to arm and train rebels — the kind of program the C.I.A. and Pentagon have conducted for decades — even after the Obama administration had hoped to keep the training program in Jordan under tight control.

The Jordanian officers who were part of the scheme reaped a windfall from the weapons sales, using the money to buy expensive SUVs, iPhones and other luxury items, Jordanian officials said.

The theft and resale of the arms — including Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades — have led to a flood of new weapons available on the black arms market. Investigators do not know what became of most of them, but a disparate collection of groups, including criminal networks and rural Jordanian tribes, use the arms bazaars to build their arsenals. Weapons smugglers also buy weapons in the arms bazaars to ship outside the country.


The training program, which in 2013 began directly arming the rebels under the code name Timber Sycamore, is run by the C.I.A. and several Arab intelligence services and aimed at building up forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The United States and Saudi Arabia are the biggest contributors, with the Saudis contributing both weapons and large sums of money, and with C.I.A. paramilitary operatives taking the lead in training the rebels to use Kalashnikovs, mortars, antitank guided missiles and other weapons.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results, then McLean, Virginia is America's version of Bedlam.

Yeah, This is Going to Bring the Party Together

I understand that in US politics party platforms don't count for much.

Still, the fact Clinton and DNC members of the platform committee have voted against a meaningful increase to the minimum wage, and for fracking and the TPP promises to make the Democratic convention a mess:
The battle over the official Democratic Party platform began in earnest this Friday at a nine-hour meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, and already the sparks of tension seem to be outweighing the calls for “unity.”

The Democratic Party’s platform is an official statement of values on a wide range of issues, and while it is officially non-binding, the platform serves as a crucial guidepost for the entire party. The 2016 platform committee comprises fifteen members, with five members chosen by Bernie Sanders, six chosen by Hillary Clinton, and four chosen by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Bernie Sanders himself had conflicting feelings about the progress and concessions made on Friday, releasing a statement on his website that said he was “pleased” with certain aspects but was “disappointed and dismayed” at other decisions, particularly those regarding trade.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Sanders representative on the committee, attempted to insert language into the platform that stated Democrats would not hold a vote on the widely derided Trans-Pacific Partnership deal in order to effectively end the plan’s prospects, but the committee rejected Ellison’s proposal so as to avoid indirectly criticizing President Obama on the issue, despite both Sanders and Clinton being against the deal.


The Democrats also voted to include the $15 minimum wage into the platform, even calling the current rate of $7.25 a “starvation wage.” However, there arose some confusion over this particular issue among progressive critics, as two further amendments introduced by Ellison that would have indexed the minimum wage to inflation, making it a truly “livable wage,” were voted down.


Bill McKibben, a Sanders appointee to the committee and prominent environmentalist who co-founded 350.org, attempted to insert language on both a carbon tax and a national moratorium on fracking, but both proposals were rejected in perhaps the most disappointing move of the proceedings.


The committee also rejected a single-payer Medicare-for-All plan in a decisive blow to one of Sanders’ key domestic policies. Hillary Clinton has stated in this election cycle that single-payer healthcare will “never, ever come to pass” despite supporting universal healthcare for most of her career. According to a Gallup poll conducted in May, 58% of Americans support a federally funded healthcare option. Only 48% of those polled wished to continue the Affordable Care Act.

Progressives and Sanders supporters vocalized their frustrations with what they saw as continued obstinance in the face of wide support for these programs and ideas. “What was passed was a solidly neoliberal platform — 90% of what we wanted is not getting in,” said Caleb-Michael Files, the digital strategist for People for Bernie Sanders.


Sanders has repeatedly stressed since the end of the campaign season that his endorsement of Clinton would depend on her platform and how closely her goals aligned with his own campaign’s. Sanders remained defiant in the closing of his statement on the platform, vowing to continue to fight for the issues as the platform continues to be debated in the coming weeks:
“If our pro-worker amendments do not carry in St. Louis we will reintroduce them before the full platform committee in Orlando, Florida. If we do not win in Orlando we can carry them to the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Our job is to pass the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”
This is not a surprise.  Neither Clinton nor Wasserman-Schultz feel the slightest need to make nice with the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

Their goal is to assert control, and this might very well throw the election to the short fingered vulgarian.

The Blairites Strike Back

The Blairites in Labour have taken advantage of the Brexit vote to attempt to remove Jeremy Corbyn as head of the party:
Jeremy Corbyn will attempt to confront the crisis facing his leadership on Monday morning as he enters emergency talks with the deputy Labour leader, Tom Watson, amid a series of further shadow cabinet walkouts and a likely vote of no confidence from his MPs.

The Labour leader, who was left reeling after his decision to sack the shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, was followed by the resignations of 11 senior shadow cabinet members, said he would not “betray the trust” of the people who voted for him by stepping down. He vowed to stand against anyone challenging him for the leadership.

But Corbyn has come under huge pressure from the resignations, which will pitch politicians against Labour party members who elected Corbyn by an overwhelming majority in a battle for the heart of the party.

Arguing that his focus was keeping his party together through turbulent times, Watson said: “It’s very clear to me that we are heading for an early general election and the Labour party must be ready to form a government. There’s much work to do.”

Corbyn responded late on Sunday, saying he regretted the resignations but was determined to reshape his shadow cabinet over the next 24 hours. “I was elected by hundreds of thousands of Labour party members and supporters with an overwhelming mandate for a different kind of politics … I am not going to betray the trust of those who voted for me– or the millions of supporters across the country who need Labour to represent them.

“Those who want to change Labour’s leadership will have to stand in a democratic election, in which I will be a candidate,” he added, arguing that the referendum result underlined how shut out of the political system millions felt.

Writing in the Guardian, Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union, warned MPs tweeting and briefing against their leader that they could face mandatory deselections if they continued with their disloyalty. “Those Labour MPs plunging their party into an unwanted crisis are betraying not only the party itself but also our national interest at one of the most critical moments any of us can recall,” he wrote.

The grassroots movement Momentum also began mobilising to protect Corbyn, with phone banks being set up to contact up to 100,000 supporters ready for another leadership battle. A petition had attracted almost 200,000 signatures to save the leader, and a protest is being planned outside parliament on Monday evening at the same time as the leader will face the vote of no confidence.
They have been waiting since his election to stage this.

I hope that the folks opposing Corbyn lose, and that its aftermath will be the removal of Blairites from senior positions in the party.

It's a Self Licking Ice Cream Cone

Terrorism has increased by 4500% since we overthrew Iraq and Libya and tried to overthrow Syria:
An analysis of terror attacks since 2002 suggests U.S. efforts to combat terrorism — i.e., the “war on terror” — have led to a dramatic increase in death and suffering from terrorism.

Published this year on Sept. 11, Paul Gottinger, a staff reporter for Reader Supported News, analyzed incidents of terrorism from George Bush declaring the war on terror in the aftermath of 9/11 through the present, and found a staggering 6,500 percent increase in terrorism. Gottinger, who used data provided by the State Department in his analysis, found that casualties have increased by 4,500 percent.

Countries occupied by or being bombed the U.S. military seem to fare worst of all:
“[F]rom 2007 to 2011 almost half of all the world’s terror took place in Iraq or Afghanistan – two countries being occupied by the US at the time.

Countries experiencing US military interventions continue to be subjected to high numbers of terror attacks, according to the data. In 2014, 74 percent of all terror-related casualties occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Syria. Of these five, only Nigeria did not experience either US air strikes or a military occupation in that year.”

Further illustrating the devastating impact of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Gottinger’s report showed that terror attacks in that country jumped from 208 in 2002 to 11,000 by 2005.

In a Dec. 10 appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz suggested the Middle East was more stable before the war on terror began.
The thesis that the US is a force for good in the world is simply not supported by the facts.

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Uber Gets Even More Evil

First Uber has redefined it app to conceal when it charges surge prices to its users:
An Uber exec recently disclosed that the company knows when you are more likely to pay surge pricing. (It’s when your phone battery is just about to die.) But with a potential app change Uber is rolling out, this might not matter, because you probably won’t notice that surge is even in effect.

The app change, The Verge reports, would eliminate the blue-and-black circle that pops up before you hail a ride, letting you know that your trip will cost you two or three times what it usually does. On that screen, users also have to manually input the surge percentage, a sort of formal acknowledgement they know the ride will cost extra. (Like guac.)

Instead, now when you order a ride, you’ll see a set fare, a small line of text letting you know there’s an additional cost, and no second confirmation or indication of the surge multiplier.
Did you notice that especially evil bit there? It jacks up the rates when it knows that your battery is about to die?  That is deeply evil on a level  that buggers the mind:
Other than the company’s notoriously lax attitude about background checks, allegations of drivers kidnapping and raping riders, and that, um, interesting new logo, the worst thing about Uber is surge pricing. And, not surprisingly, the company has figured out exactly when you are more likely to pay double or triple the cost of your ride: when your phone battery is low.
This is a company with a multi-billion dollar valuation, which means that this is a company that our society (or at least our financial system) lionizes.

This is a particularly searing indictment of the values we hold as a society.

25 June 2016

Might Make a Faster Pig

GE's entry

Pratt & Whitney's version
Or they might make a pig with longer range.

But it will still be a pig.

The pig in question is the F-35, and the addition of a variable cycle engine might increase its performance:
The U.S. Air Force is poised to award General Electric and Pratt & Whitney contracts for adaptive cycle technology development that will pave the way toward an active procurement program for a sixth-generation fighter engine as well as the potential reengining of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Contracts for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) are expected to be valued at up to $1 billion apiece for the two engine-makers, setting the stage for a 21st-century version of the “great fighter engine war” between GE and Pratt over dual-sourced engines for the F-15 and F-16. Although Pratt now runs both key U.S. military development programs with the F135 for the F-35 and the engine for Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Long-Range Strike Bomber, AETP opens up potential competition for both the reengining of F-35s as well as proposed sixth-generation fighters for the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

AETP is specifically aimed at maturing three-stream engine technology now considered vital to achieving the high-speed, long-endurance performance requirements of the Navy’s future F/A-XX and the Air Force’s F-X sixth-generation fighters. Although it remains unknown whether the F/A-XX will emerge as a twin-engine design, the three-stream concept is designed to be scalable across a wide thrust range. The AETP is, however, targeted initially at a 45,000-lb.-thrust-class engine baselined to fit within the existing confines of the F-35A engine bay. This makes it a contender to replace the F135 from the mid-2020s onward.


The third stream provides an extra source of air flow that, depending on the phase of the mission, is designed to provide either additional mass flow for increased propulsive efficiency and lower fuel burn, or additional core flow for higher thrust and cooling air. It also can be used to cool fuel that provides a heat sink for aircraft systems. The third stream can also swallow excess air damming up around the inlet, improving flow holding and reducing spillage drag.

At the heart of adaptive engines are variable-geometry devices that dynamically alter the fan pressure ratio and overall bypass ratio, the two key factors influencing specific fuel consumption and thrust. Fan pressure ratio is changed by using an adaptive, multistage fan. This increases fan pressure ratio to fighter engine performance levels during takeoff and acceleration, and, in cruise, lowers it to airliner-like levels for improved fuel efficiency. The third stream, which is external to both the core and standard bypass duct, is used to alter the bypass ratio.
I think that the cooling application might be the most important.

Both the F-22 and F-35 are basically thermos bottles which rely on their fuel as a heat sink for cooling other systems, which creates issues when the aircraft sits on the tarmac too long, or when the fuel becomes hot sitting in the sun, which has the USAF repainting all their fuel trucks white.

Any potential improvement in range or performance would be important for the F-35, which is shaping up to be a major pig.

24 June 2016

Report: Prominent NeoCon Robert Kagan To Headline Fundraiser For Clinton

Robert Kagan, the Neocon who has was a major force for invading Iraq (and has supported pretty much every single misbegotten use of force by the Pentagon since Pershing was on active duty), is fundraising for Hillary Clinton:
A prominent neoconservative intellectual and early promoter of the Iraq War is headlining an official campaign fundraiser for Hillary Clinton next month, Foreign Policy has learned. The move signals a shift in the Clinton campaign’s willingness to associate with prominent Republicans and is the latest sign of how far some GOP defectors are willing to go to block a Donald Trump presidency.

Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, will speak at a Hillary for America fundraiser in Washington’s Logan Circle neighborhood on July 21. According to an invite obtained by FP, the “event will include an off-the-record conversation on America’s continued investment in NATO, key European allies and partners, and the EU.”


On Wednesday, Clinton picked up the endorsement of Republican Brent Scowcroft, who served as a national security adviser to Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, and held formal or advisory positions in the administrations of former Presidents Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.


But while Scowcroft hails from the GOP’s realist school of thought, a less-interventionist worldview that some liberals subscribe to, Kagan remains firmly in the neoconservative wing — an ideology centered around the use of military force, the forcible removal of dictators, and the importance of spreading democracy around the world.
The American people are in for a positively hideous next 4 years, with a choice between a life support system for a hair weave, and Attila the Hun.


H/t Talking Points Memo.

So Not a Surprise

Uber has been lying about the wages of its drivers.

It's not much more than a job that requires you to ask if, "You want fries with that?"

Good Point

Over at Angry Bear, Sandwichman makes a good point: For all the claims that "workplace flexibility" increases employment, the societies with the fewest worker protections have the lowest workforce participation rates:
In its report on “The long-term decline in prime-age male labor force participation,” President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers writes:
Conventional economic theory posits that more ‘flexible’ labor markets—where it is easier to hire and fire workers—facilitate matches between employers and individuals who want to work. Yet despite having among the most flexible labor markets in the OECD—with low levels of labor market regulation and employment protections, a low minimum cost of labor, and low rates of collective bargaining coverage—the United States has one of the lowest prime-age male labor force participation rates of OECD member countries.
Although it has indeed become conventional, the ‘flexible’ labor markets mantra is not a theory. It is dogma. An article of faith. The theory behind the nostrum of flexible labor markets is Milton Friedman’s natural rate theory of unemployment, which, as Jamie Galbraith pointed out twenty years ago, was constructed by adding expectations to the empirical Philips Curve observation of a relationship between unemployment and inflation:
The Phillips curve had always been a purely empirical relation, patched into IS-LM Keynesianism to relieve that model’s lack of a theory of inflation. Friedman supplied no theory for a short-run Phillips curve, yet he affirmed that such a relation would “always” exist. And Friedman’s argument depends on it. If the Phillips relation fails empirically— that is, if levels of unemployment do not in fact predict the rate of inflation in the short run—then the construct of the natural rate of unemployment also loses meaning.
Obama and his evil minions® should not be surprised by this.

Endorsing general crappiness to the working man has never increased labor force participation rates, because, absent a hyper-Dickensian society, people then opt out of the workforce if they can.

Your Brexit Update

It's been close all night, but the trend has been clear

The geographic divide is pretty clear

The history of EU elections mitigates against this coming to fruition
I've been following EU Referendum Results.

There were 46,501,241 votes cast, with 15,203,370 leave votes and 14,157,273 stay votes counted at this point, which means that Brexit leads by 51.8% to 48.2% and the stay votes will need to get 56.1% of the remaining vote to win.

So, my prediction appears to have been wrong, and Britain will vote for a Brexit.

Rather unsurprisingly, there was a significant geographic divide, with England and Wales going Brexit, and Scotland going stay. (middle pic)

The question, of course, is what it all means.  I'm inclined to believe, as Moon of Alabama posits, that neither Cameron, nor the EU, nor the City of London will meekly accede to this vote as the bottom pic clearly shows.

I rather expect that we will be talking about "When the Brexit finally happens" 10 years from now.

The pics will pop up if you click on them.

23 June 2016

Marilyn Mosby, Your ADA is Trying to Lose These Cases

The officer most responsible for the death of Freddie Gray, Caesar Goodson has been acquitted after a mindbogglingly inept attempt at prosecution:
A Baltimore judge acquitted the police officer facing the most serious charges in the death of Freddie Gray on Thursday, delivering a broad rebuke of a case that he said lacked evidence.

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 46, drove the transport van in which Gray sustained fatal injuries. He is the second officer cleared in the high-profile case. Four other officers could still face trial.

After an eight-day bench trial, Circuit Judge Barry Williams found Goodson not guilty on charges that included second-degree depraved-heart murder and three counts of manslaughter.

The acquittal cast doubt on the remaining criminal cases in which the other officers face similar but lesser charges. Legal observers said Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who drew widespread praise and also condemnation after charging the officers in May 2015, must now re-evaluate the remaining cases.
My guess is that this guy was looking at getting a PBA endorsement when he runs against Mosby for DA.

This is disgraceful.

Jimmy McMillan for President

Yet more evidence that the rent is too damn high:
A popular narrative of the U.S. housing market has been that big city prices are locking out young buyers, feeding a cycle in which a growing number of people are forced to rent at ever higher rates as demand overwhelms supply. Throw in the fact that wages haven’t kept pace, and you have a world where a wide swath of Americans can't save enough to ever buy that first home.

The reality may be a bit more complicated. It's true that, when combined with a lack of government support for affordable housing, this situation has pushed the number of cash-poor renters to a new high. Some 26 percent of U.S. renters paid at least half their income to landlords in 2014, up from 20 percent in 2001, according to the State of the Nation’s Housing report, published on Wednesday by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
Unfortunately much of our economic policy has conflated price increases in real estate prices with economic prosperity, which has led to shelter become increasingly difficult for ordinary people to obtain.

We need to stop viewing housing and real estate as a way to generate returns that exceed inflation, and we need to discourage unproductive speculation in real estate.  (Full disclosure, I am speaking against my own interest as a homeowner with a 30 year fixed rate mortgage)

Osama, Take Me Now!

After being fired as Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski is getting a paid gig at CNN as a commentator.

That sound is my head exploding.

OK, so Now the Brexit Polls Have Closed

My money is still on a close race, where the not-England parts of the UK have the Brexit rejected.

That being said, I think that there are some in this election, and when taken in juxtaposition:
  1. When ignoring the political opportunists (Hi, Boris), I think that the pro-Brexit campaigners have overwhelmingly relied on nativism, bigotry, and anti-immigrant sentiment in their campaign.
  2. The substantive complaints made about the EU by the pro-Brexit forces are essentially correct.
  3. Because of items 1, item 2 has simply not been a meaningful part of the campaign.
Personally, I believe that if the EU continues as it does, (An undemocratic font of German political hegemony and German economic mythologyz) it will lead to another war in Europe.

We can see the tensions deriving from the EU inflicting pain and suffering on the ordinary citizenry in order to protect the elites, and this (along with there being no meaningful leftwing opposition to the EU) has led to the rise of reactionary and bigoted parties across Europe.

The UK pulling out of the EU could be the dick punch that it needs to realign itself from an unelected (the European Parliament is a glorified debating society) imperial bureaucracy unto a real democratic institution.

As an aside, there are some secondary benefits to a Brexit:
  • It should reduce the incidence of foreigners using London real estate for "in case of popular uprising" bolt holes, which would make the city more affordable for ordinary Brits.
  • It should reduce the size, and hopefully influence, or Britain's bloated and corrupt financial sector.


Who amongst us does not like to listen to Richard Feynman:

22 June 2016

Thanks, Hillary

What a surprise, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton aggressively supported the right wing coup in Honduras.

Now we discover that the government's US trained military has been assassinating indigenous environmental activists:
Berta Cáceres, the murdered environmental campaigner, appeared on a hitlist distributed to US-trained special forces units of the Honduran military months before her death, a former soldier has claimed.

Lists featuring the names and photographs of dozens of social and environmental activists were given to two elite units, with orders to eliminate each target, according to First Sergeant Rodrigo Cruz, 20.

Cruz’s unit commander, a 24-year-old lieutenant, deserted rather than comply with the order. Cruz – who asked to be identified by a pseudonym for fear of reprisal – followed suit, and fled to a neighbouring country. Several other members of the unit have disappeared and are feared dead.

“If I went home, they’d kill me. Ten of my former colleagues are missing. I’m 100% certain that Berta Cáceres was killed by the army,” Cruz told the Guardian.

Cáceres, an indigenous Lenca leader who won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 for a campaign against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam, was shot dead in her home in March. Before her murder, she had reported 33 death threats linked to the campaign and had warned international human rights delegates that her name was on a hitlist.

According to Cruz, Cáceres’s name appeared on a list given to a military police unit in the Inter-institutional Security Force (Fusina), which last summer received training from 300 US marines and FBI agents.


Cáceres’s daughter, Bertita Zúñiga, said Cruz’s testimony strengthened the family’s calls for an independent international investigation to find the intellectual authors.

“This shows us that death squads are operating in the armed forces, which are being used to get rid of people opposing government plans. It shows us that human rights violations are state policy in Honduras.”
Hillary Clinton's foreign policy cred is a myth.

She has been wrong, and continues to be wrong, on Everything.

It's Official, I am a Complete Idiot

I got the date of the Brexit vote correct when I gave my prediction as to the outcome, but I got today's date wrong.

Today is the 22nd, not the 23rd the day of the vote.

My prediction still stands though.

If I Have my Time Zones Right, the Brexit Polls Closed an Hour Ago

My prediction is that the UK WILL vote to remain in the EU, with the difference being votes in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland making the difference.
It's a pity to my mind, as well reinforce the culture of German hegemony in EU governance.

Posted via mobile.

21 June 2016

This Business Will Get out of Control. It Will Get out of Control and We'll Be Lucky to Live through It

And we have the first attempted assassination of a Presidential candidate of the season, by one Michael Steven Sandford, a British National:
A Briton who tried to grab a police officer's gun at a Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas said he wanted to shoot the US candidate, court papers say.

Michael Steven Sandford, 20, did not enter a plea when he appeared before a judge in Nevada and was remanded in custody until a hearing on 5 July.

He is charged with an act of violence in a restricted area.

He had reportedly tried to seize the gun after saying he wanted Mr Trump's autograph at Saturday's rally.

He said he had been planning to try to shoot Mr Trump for about a year but had decided to act now because he finally felt confident enough to do so, court papers say.

I'm sure that the bloke from Dorking (Seriously, he is from Dorking, Surrey) won't be the last one this campaign season.

This is nuts.

Crap that I Don't Care About

I really don't care about musical chairs at the various Presidential campaigns.

I really do not care that Trump just fired his thuggish campaign manager, I just don't.

The wall to wall coverage of this is self-referential naval gazing.

F%$# the Teabaggers

I understand how the Teabagger wing of Republican Party gave us Donald Trump.

I also understand how Trump has done the nearly impossible, which is to make what is arguably the least electable candidate for President since Michael Dukakis the front runner, which must seriously roast Teabagger chestnuts:

This, then, is the ultimate outcome from the tea party takeover of the Republican Party by people like Wendy Day. She contributed to Trump’s ascent by blowing up the party and is now upset that it’s not her own candidate Ted Cruz who was the victor.

Cry me a river, Ms. Day.

And welcome to your worst nightmare: President Hillary Clinton.
I under the that is a schadenfreude moment, but what about the rest of us?

The rest of use are going to have to live with the consequences of this:  More war, more sucking up to Wall Street, more neoliberal economics, more privatization of essential government services, and more job destroying trade deals.

Thanks, Teabaggers.

This Reminds Me of the Railroad Industry

I worked at GE Transportation System in the early 1990s aas a locomotive systems engineer.

After years of contraction and decay, they were recapitalizing.

Standard line was that they had gotten to the point where they had to recapitalize, but it was something more basic: The Wall Street types who believed that railroads were dying had finally looted all they could, and they had been replaced by management that actually believed in railroads.

Freight rail in the Us has been on a generally upward path since.

Well, we are seeing the same thing in the newspaper business these days, with the jargon of the official launch of Tronc, formerly Tribune Publishing being a particularly egregious example.

As Allison Hantschel observes, "Media Companies Hate News, the Internet, Employees and their Own Customers:
Or, as the Hip Happening Kids Today call it, #Tronc:
CasSelle: We produce tons of great content every single day. We’re really focused on how we we deliver it to people in a way they want to consume it more and more. 

Vasquez: One of the key ways we’re going to harness the power of our journalism is to have an optimization group. This Tronc team, will work with all of the local markets, to harness the power of our local journalism, feed it into a funnel, and then optimize it so we reach the biggest global audience possible.

Yes, Tronc shall take the corn feed of journalism and funnel it into the optimization-group goose, to make delicious foie gras that will be consumed by the digital natives.

It arguably gets worse from there. And what’s genuinely sad is that people who talk like this typically don’t understand how the internet actually works—that’s why they lean on buzzwords—or have any notion of how to communicate with journalists, who tend to bristle at this stuff.
These are internal employee videos designed to PUMP YOU UP about your newfound place not at Tribune Publishing, a recognizable name that at least still sounded impressive, but at Tronc, which sounds like you stepped on a duck.
I understand that conventional journalism in general, and the newspaper business in particular, faces challenges, but the bigger problem is that upper management does not believe in the product: Journalism.  (Of course, there is also the fact that Sam Zell ran the company into the ground).

Our MBA/Wall Street/Private Equity management "Culture" does nothing but loot.

20 June 2016

What a Surprise, the Swiss are Running away from the EU

After have been in process to join the EU for 24 years, Switzerland has withdrawn its application:
The upper house of the Swiss parliament on Wednesday voted to invalidate its 1992 application to join the European Union, backing an earlier decision by the lower house. The vote comes just a week before Britain decides whether to leave the EU in a referendum.

Twenty-seven members of the upper house, the Council of States, voted to cancel Switzerland’s longstanding EU application, versus just 13 senators against. Two abstained.

In the aftermath of the vote, Switzerland will give formal notice to the EU to consider its application withdrawn, the country’s foreign minister, Didier Burkhalter, was quoted as saying by Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
So not a surprise.

Not Your Call

Well, after a freakout from the right wing, the DOJ has agreed to release the full transcripts from the Orlando shooter during his rampage:
The Orlando killer pledged allegiance to the Islamic State while in the midst of murdering 49 people at a gay nightclub last weekend. But for a few hours Monday, we couldn't read that part of Omar Mateen's phone conversations with dispatchers and police because the FBI took it out of transcripts of 911 calls it released.

To Republicans, the redacted transcripts were yet another example of how the Obama administration is mishandling this whole war on terror by ducking every opportunity to avoid talking about the real issues behind it — and specifically, Islam.


The pressure worked. The FBI reversed course Monday afternoon and released the redacted parts of the transcript in which Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, saying the political debate over the redaction had become a distraction.
It's more than that, it's public records, and the Department of Justice wanted to suppress these records because they did not approve of that message:
[FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ron] Hopper Hopper said authorities also did not want to “give credence to individuals who have done terrorist acts in the past.”

“We’re not going to propagate their violent rhetoric,” he said.
Mr. Hopper, that decision is is not your call, nor should it be.

Your job is not to determine what news is available to the general public.


Here is an interesting technique for choopping up an onion. I will have to try this at Trial By Fire on July 4th weekend, when I will be making Cornish Pasties, because it looks a lot easier than what I have been doing.

Full disclosure: I know, and have discussed medieval cooking with Milton Friedman's son, David.

19 June 2016

This Wouldn't Have Happened If the Original Story Hadn't Gotten a Lot of Ink

The USAF inspector general lost over a decade of corruption and mismanagement files back, and now, following surprisingly extensive coverage of this mishap, they appeared to have rectified the error. I thought that the loss was suspicious, and I don't think that the recovery efforts were as herculean as the article implies.

My guess is that no one wanted to try to recover the data, but it got too hot not to try:
The U.S. Air Force says it has recovered files from 100,000 inspector general investigations dating back to 2004.

In a short, four-sentence statement released midday on Wednesday, service officials said the Air Force continues to investigate the embarrassing incident in which the files and their backups were corrupted.

“Through extensive data recovery efforts over the weekend and this week, the Air Force has been able to regain access to the data in the Air Force Inspector General Automated Case Tracking System (ACTS),” the statement reads.


The inspector general’s office investigates claims of waste, fraud, and abuse within the Air Force.
It may be innocent, but it smells like a 3 dead dead gopher in august.

This May Be the Most Decorated Cat in History

Pooli, AKA Princess Papule, was a ship's cat born in 1944 who served on the attack transport USS Fremont, earning three service ribbons and four battle stars:
A World War II veteran cat today celebrates her 15th birthday.

And she can still get into her old uniform with its three service ribbons and four battle stars.

The cat, Pooli, short for Princess Papule, was born July 4, 1944, in the Navy yard at Pearl Harbor, her present owner, Benjamin H. Kirk, said.

Kirk explained that Pooli was taken aboard the attack transport USS Fremont that day by his nephew, James I. Lynch, now a specialist in administrative services for the Board of Education.

Pooli saw action at the Marianas, the Palau group, the Philippines and Iwo Jima. And she became a shellback when the ship crossed the equator.

Kirk revealed that when battle stations rang, Pooli would head for the mail room and curl up in a mail sack.
Now this is a life well lived.

Finally a Small Reason to Buy Windows 10

Microsoft has added a (still Beta) feature to Windows 10, which will allow users to do a clean install of the OS to remove crapware that manufacturers install in their PC's:
Windows 10 already includes ways to clear out applications and data to repair misbehaving systems or prepare them to be sold, courtesy of the Refresh and Reset features added in Windows 8. Microsoft is now adding a third option: a new refresh tool.

Currently available only for Windows Insiders, the new tool fetches a copy of Windows online and performs a clean installation. The only option is whether or not you want to preserve your personal data. Any other software that's installed will be blown away, including the various applications and utilities that OEMs continue to bundle with their systems.
This is an upgrade from Microsoft that actually is an improvement, as opposed to, for example, the abomination that is ribbon.

Quote of the Day

You know someone has lived a life when, at their funeral, you can see Kris Kristofferson get introduced to the president of Turkey.
Charlie Pierce on the funeral of Muhammad Ali
Truly a remarkable live.

18 June 2016

This Fetish with "Freedumb Bomz" Is Becoming Tiresome

It turns that for much of the State Department, the lesson to be learned from the disaster that is Iraq, where we used violence to institute regime change, and the disaster that is Libya, where we used violence to institute regime change, and the disaster that is Syria, where our support for Saudi and Turkish use of violence to institute regime change, is yet more violence to institute regime change:
Robert S. Ford, a former ambassador to Syria, said, “Many people working on Syria for the State Department have long urged a tougher policy with the Assad government as a means of facilitating arrival at a negotiated political deal to set up a new Syrian government.”

Mr. Ford, who is now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, resigned from the Foreign Service in 2014 out of frustration with the administration’s hands-off policy toward the conflict.

In the memo, the State Department officials wrote that the Assad government’s continuing violations of the partial cease-fire, known as a cessation of hostilities, will doom efforts to broker a political settlement because Mr. Assad will feel no pressure to negotiate with the moderate opposition or other factions fighting him. The government’s barrel bombing of civilians, it said, is the “root cause of the instability that continues to grip Syria and the broader region.”

“The moral rationale for taking steps to end the deaths and suffering in Syria, after five years of brutal war, is evident and unquestionable,” it said. “The status quo in Syria will continue to present increasingly dire, if not disastrous, humanitarian, diplomatic and terrorism-related challenges.”

The memo acknowledged that military action would have risks, not the least further tensions with Russia, which has intervened in the war on Mr. Assad’s behalf and helped negotiate a cease-fire. Those tensions increased on Thursday when, according to a senior Pentagon official, Russia conducted airstrikes in southern Syria against American-backed forces fighting the Islamic State.

The State Department officials insisted in their memo that they were not “advocating for a slippery slope that ends in a military confrontation with Russia,” but rather a credible threat of military action to keep Mr. Assad in line.
Because declaring war on the Assad regime, and their Russian allies is clearly the road to peace.
In this case, the memo mainly confirms what has been clear for some time: The State Department’s rank and file have chafed at the White House’s refusal to be drawn into the conflict in Syria.
Because there is something clearly wrong about not going to war in a country with little or no strategic significance because we do not like the guy in charge.

Hey, it doesn't matter that all the military forces, excepting the Kurds, who oppose Assad are affiliated with either ISIS or al Qaeda, or that the Kurds are being bombed by our "allies" the Turks, who are supporting ISIS, the solution to the problem is clearly more war.

Let's also be clear that this sort of unilateral action, which absent a security council resolution would be illegal under international law, would likely entail a response from the Syrians with significant Russian aid, which is their right under international law.

The "Moar Bomz" crowd have a 3 decade long record of failure.  Perhaps it is time to tell them to shut the f%$# up and get another job in a different industry.

They need to be asking, "Do you want fries with that," for a living.