In what the folks at Naked Capitalism describe as the most American headline ever, we know that. "In a year of pain, one silver lining: fewer mass shootings."
This is f%$#ed up and sh%$.
This really is remarkable.
The overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats voted with Mitch McConnell to proceed on the veto override on the Defense Authorization Bill, kneecapping Bernie Sanders' filibuster to get a vote on $2000.00 pandemic stimulus payments.
In case you are wondering, if you look at the vote totals, more Democrats voted for the motion to proceed than Republicans did, 41-39.
You can always argue that it the perfect is the enemy of good enough, but , as TAP Executive Editor David Dayen tweeted, this was a losing tactic both politically and policy wise, "Somewhere in between "Dems are turncoats for not filibustering the NDAA" and "it's Repubs whatcha gonna do" is the idea that it would've been good politics to at least deny enough votes to force Perdue and Loeffler to leave the campaign trail in Georgia."
For a more extensive take down, I would take you to David Sirota and Andrew Perez's analysis of what they call, "Senate Democrats’ Motion To Concede On $2,000 Checks."
Instead, as Republicans saber rattled about the need to pass the defense bill, 41 Democrats obediently voted with McConnell, allowing him to move the defense bill forward without a vote on the checks. That included “yes” votes from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and vice-president elect Kamala Harris, the lead sponsor on a bill to give Americans monthly $2,000 checks during the pandemic. One day before her vote to help McConnell, Harris had called on the Republican leader to hold a vote on her legislation.
They capitulated Even Though It Was to Their Political Advantage Not to Capitulate.
They are playing to lose, because they just don't care.
It's careerism run amuck.
Think about that the next time the DNC, DCCC, or the DSCC calls for donations.
I'm doing my laundry right now, because otherwise, I start 2021 with no clean underwear.
I'll start drinking later, once I pick up Charlie from work.
Luke Letlow, a Republican congressman-elect, after consistently campaigning without a mask, has died of Covid-19.
Thoughts and prayers, I guess.
As the saying goes, "バカにつける薬はない".*
*Pronounced in Japanese, "baka ni tsukeru kusuri wanai", which means, "There is no medicine for stupidity." Apologies for any inaccuracies in the text, I do not know Japanese.
In responce to increasing calls from both sides of the aisle to hold a vote on the House's clean $2000.00 stimulus check bill, Mitch McConnell has introduced a dirty bill, including a provision for a complete repeal of Section 230 of the CDA, not because he gives a crap about Section 230, and also a bit about setting up a commission to study election fraud, but because he is trying to kill the movement toward making a larger payment.
This will give Democrats an excuse to cave, and I think that they will try to do so.
Hopefully, Sanders will stick to his guns, and keep the Senate in Session for the mandatory debate the Senate rules require without unanimous consent.
In the mean time, if you see McConnell, throw your shoe at him, and if you see Amy McGrath, thank her for 6 more years of Moscow Mitch:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has thrown a wrench into Congressional approval of an increase in government stimulus relief checks from $600 to $2,000. The House voted overwhelmingly on Monday to increase the payments, as President Trump had advocated for. Instead of voting on the House bill, however, McConnell blocked it and instead introduced a new bill tying higher stimulus payments to Section 230's full repeal, according to Verge, which obtained a copy of the bill's text.
It's a tangled web, but the move is tied to Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorizes $740 billion in defense spending for the upcoming government fiscal year. "No one has worked harder, or approved more money for the military, than I have," Trump said in a statement about the veto, claiming falsely that the military "was totally depleted" when he took office in 2017. "Your failure to terminate the very dangerous national security risk of Section 230 will make our intelligence virtually impossible to conduct without everyone knowing what we are doing at every step."
So what does this have to do with McConnell's latest political maneuvering? Think of it as a move to appease Trump with regard to Section 230, while also effectively ensuring that the $2,000 increase in stimulus checks will never pass in the Senate. “During this process, the president highlighted three additional issues of national significance he would like to see Congress tackle together,” McConnell said in a floor statement Tuesday afternoon. “This week, the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus.”
McConnell is a cancer on the American body politic, but the last election cycle, the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) decided that it was more important to have an expensive candidate, who would generate lots of consultant commissions, than it would to have a good candidate.
The Lincoln Project raised $4.8 million between November 24th and December 16th hyping the Georgia Senate runoff elections.— Rob Pyers (@rpyers) December 30, 2020
Since then, it has spent $1.1 million on independent expenditures in those races and paid Steve Schmidt $1.5 million. https://t.co/BT5roJBmCt pic.twitter.com/mCS1B7wsxF
The Lincoln Project was always a scam.
It's purpose is to extract money from gullible liberals by showing them sparkly things on MSNBC, not to fix the Republican Party or our politics.
Mr. Pyers is calling them out after they called out Ted Cruz for taking donations for SC Republican Senate candidates, and keeping most of the money.
The Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives has has adopted new rules and a new structure to make it more like a parliamentary caucus, with a single chairman, and the ability to whip its members.
Additionally, Jaypal has made it clear that if people find this too restricting, she is fine with them leaving the caucus. (i.e. don't let the door hit your ass on the way out)
Given the narrow Democratic margin in the next Congress, 10 seats if the members leaving to join the Biden administration are replaced by Democrats, a cohesive Progressive caucus, even if it drops to 50 members or so, can exert real power.
While Joe Biden signed off regarding making the direct payments so miserly in the stimulus bill, Bernie Sanders is promising a filibuster of the veto override of the Defense Authorization Bill, which would delay the vote for at least 3 days, unless the house bill to raise payments to $2000.00 gets an up or down vote in the Senate.
I get that the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) came together with a zeal and a competence that is never seen opposing wars, or ill-guided tax cuts, or genocide, and anointed Biden, but Bernie is still being Bernie:
For most of the last few decades, budget standoffs in Washington tended to follow the same script: Republicans threatened to block some domestic spending bill or fully shut down the government unless Democrats agreed to let the GOP own the libs with something bad like a JPMorgan giveaway, a tax break for the rich or a draconian cut to a social program.
When Democrats controlled Congress, they never mustered the courage to respond with their own version of the same shrewd tactics. Even toward the end of the Bush era when the Iraq War was deeply unpopular, they never made a serious attempt to hold up a bloated GOP-written Pentagon bill in order to try to get their way on a progressive initiative.
But at the end of one of the worst years in recent history, it seems things are changing.
In a long overdue script-flipping move, Sen. Bernie Sanders is now moving to halt a major defense bill until and unless Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell allows a full vote on legislation to give millions of starving Americans $2,000 in emergency aid. That legislation passed the House yesterday over opposition from a majority of House Republicans, who tried their best to deny their own constituents much-needed aid.
Now the bill is in McConnell’s hands, and Sanders is pulling a McConnell on McConnell. He is imperiling the GOP boss’s top priority — the defense bill that authorizes pay increases for soldiers, military training, new weapons systems, while also complicating attempts to draw down troops deployed in Afghanistan. That McConnell-backed legislation could be stalled unless he agrees to Sanders’ demands and stops obstructing a progressive priority.
Sanders could keep the Senate in session until New Years Day, limiting the ability of corrupt Georgia Senators Purdue and Loeffler to campaign in the runup to the runoff.
I am heartened by this, but I expect the Democrats to figure out a way to capitulate, because that is what Democrats do, particularly in the Senate, and particularly under the leader ship of Chuck Schumer.
I may be wrong but I think there's room at the Four Seasons.— The Palaeoanthropologist (@HamishAlexande6) December 29, 2020
The favorite hotel of the Proud Boys is shutting down for 3 days rather than deal with them, and their violent protests, and virus spreading behavior at the inauguration.
Scott Morrison Isn’t the Australian Trump — He’s a Margaret Thatcher Tribute Band
I do not know enough of Australian politics to know that this is true, but it is a wonderful turn of phrase.
Fresh on the heels of Proposition 22 passing in California, Grubhub sets it sights on f%$#ing its employees out of tips, because it will reduce their potential responsibilities to those employees:
California-based workers for food delivery app Grubhub have reacted angrily to changes to the platform which they say discourage tipping, saying they would wipe out the supposed benefits of new gig worker rules in the state.
Last month, California passed Proposition 22, which though falling far short of the benefits received by full-time employees, gave gig workers a limited number.
Weeks after the ruling, Grubhub reduced its default tip amount from about 20 percent to zero, adding a suggestion to “leave an optional tip on top of driver benefits.”
Like other apps, Grubhub added an additional “benefit” fee, in its case $1.50, to each order in California—though that money is put into a centralized pot for which only a limited number of drivers are expected to fully qualify.
Under Proposition 22, workers receive a healthcare stipend, provided they clock at least an average of 15 hours per week on one of the gig apps. However, in order to qualify, workers must already be the primary policyholder on an existing healthcare plan.
To get the full stipend, workers must put in at least 25 hours per week. The companies only count “engaged” time, not including periods spent driving without an assigned job — estimated to be about a third of all time spent on the road, according to a University of California, Berkeley, study. No allowances are made for time off or sickness. Data shared by Uber suggested that about three-quarters of its own drivers would not meet this threshold.
But a study by University of California, Santa Cruz, in May determined that “delivery workers are particularly dependent on tips, which account for 30 percent of their estimated earnings.”
“I keep records,” said Jeanine, a Grubhub worker in the San Francisco Bay Area. “And there’s been a complete flip. It’s stunning.”
She shared with the Financial Times a breakdown of her tips on the platform both before and after the change. On two consecutive Saturdays she completed the same number of orders—eight—but on the first Saturday, before the change, 100 percent of her customers left at least a small tip—totalling $61.03.
On the second Saturday, five of her eight customers left no tip, with the rest totalling $24.71.
Uber and DoorDash last week said they would raise prices in order to fund Proposition 22 benefits, though as yet only Grubhub has made changes to its tipping system.
Yes, vote for the bullsh%$ initiative pursued by the gig economy companies, because they have the workers' interests at heart.
If you believe that, then I have some swamp land in Florida for you.
How Amy Coney Barrett and Barack Obama Transcended Petty Partisanship To Crush Community Activists in Chicago
This details how Obama's need for a monument to himself by way of his Presidential library will, as I noted about a year ago, desecrate one of Fredrick Law Olmstead's crown jewels, and that his has been aided and abetted by one Federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett:
Proving that architectural narcissism isn’t a quality limited to the outgoing forty-fifth president, Barack Obama is currently attempting to erect a hideous 235-foot tower, a monument to himself and his presidency, in a park in Chicago, over the objections of community groups. Local organizations fighting the project recently suffered a defeat at the hands of a federal review, which concluded in Obama’s favor. But according to the Wall Street Journal, a key ally in the approval process last summer was then judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has since, of course, become Trump’s latest addition to the Supreme Court.
Obama’s papers will live elsewhere; this $500 million project is not a presidential library but a museum celebrating the former president, overseen by the Obama Foundation, whose board is made up of a distasteful gang of financiers, with private equity well represented. As Wall Street Journal opinion writer James Freeman sardonically noted last week, Obama is impinging on “treasured green space to realize his vision of a self-tribute in stone and glass.” The groups fighting the project argue that it will wreak environmental damage on Jackson Park. They argue that the project will destroy much of the natural life in the park, including four hundred trees. They also say the tower will interfere with needed sunlight during the day, cause light pollution at night, and interfere with bird migration (the park is apparently a well-known route for birds).
The community activists also fear that the project will lure a large number of tourists and car traffic, disrupting what is currently a relatively calm and natural retreat. They also find the design of the project garish and vulgar, at odds with the aesthetics of the Frederick Law Olmsted–designed park, a historic 1893 World’s Fair site which was restored back to naturalistic parkland after the fair. The activists have presented alternative designs and traffic plans, but the Obama Foundation has ignored them — as arrogant multimillionaires tend to do when faced with suggestions from the little people.
This is tremendously apropos of the legacy of a man why my brother calls, "Our President Harding."
He looked the role, and he gave great speeches, but when push came to shove,
he never put anything ahead of himself, and now, he's going to befoul one of the great
public spaces in the world, (plus a f%$#ing luxury golf course) because it's
always about him.
And I am happy as hell that Portland’s Woodrow Wilson High School is changing its name. (They have narrowed it down to 5 names)
Woodrow Wilson was a hypocritical racist dirt-bag.
Now change the mascot, the teams are called the "Trojans", and I don't think that you should name a team after a brand of condoms and ……… What? ……… Homer's Iliad? ……… Never mind.
Amason's charity program supports hate groups.
Not a surprise. It doesn't matter if it's the American Civil Liberties Union, or the America Nazi Party, Amazon gets its vig from purchases in either case:
AmazonSmile, which launched in 2013, would seem to be one of the mega-corporation’s less overtly awful functions: it’s a simple service that adds a surcharge to Amazon purchases and donates it to a participating charity of a shopper’s choice. However, UK-based media organization openDemocracy has found among those eligible charities were over 40 anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-choice groups.
I’ll put a bow on it, I’ll scream it, I’ll whisper it, but I am here to tell you that Amazon is a terrible company.
openDemocracy identified powerful anti-LGBTQ+ groups that are, at the time of this writing, live on AmazonSmile’s search portal. They list the Indiana chapter of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group the American Family Association, whose radio host and figurehead Bryan Fischer has said that the “Nazi party...was rooted in the homosexual movement.” There’s also Focus on the Family, which spawned the SPLC-designated hate group the Family Research Council. Of founder James Dobson, the SPLC writes that “no one has spread the anti-gay gospel as widely, or with as much political impact.”
We don’t know how much money these hate-mongering groups have raised directly via AmazonSmile, but this disturbing news has come to light at a time when Amazon’s revenue has gone through the roof thanks to a captive customer base stuck at home during a pandemic.
My old axiom, "If they treat their employees like sh%$, how do you
think that they will treat you as a customer," should be expanded from, "You as a customer," to, "All of us as a society."
I give you the, "Roomba that curses when bumped into things modification."
And now, Trump has signed the stimulus package, so there will be no additional stimulus money going out to ordinary people.
I'm not going to try and guess whether this is just that Trump wanted the attention, or wanted to torture Mitch McConnell (So say we all), or some sort of political jujitsu against Democrats, but with a government shutdown off of the table, it's pretty clear that there will be no increase in stimulus payments:
President Trump unexpectedly capitulated Sunday night and signed the stimulus bill into law, releasing $900 billion in emergency relief funds into the economy and averting a Tuesday government shutdown.
White House officials didn’t explain why the president decided to suddenly back down and sign into law a bill he had held up for nearly a week and had referred to as a “disgrace” just days earlier.
Trump signed the bill while vacationing in Florida and on a weekend when he had allowed unemployment benefits for 14 million Americans to expire.
He had demanded changes to the stimulus and spending package for a week, suggesting he would refuse to sign it until these demands were met. This continued defiance caused lawmakers from both parties to panic over the weekend, worried about the implications of a government shutdown during a pandemic. It was unclear what prompted him to change his mind late Sunday, but he was under tremendous pressure from Republicans to acquiesce.
In the same statement, he said “much more money is coming, and I will never give up my fight for the American people!”
After Trump signed the bill into law, Democrats attacked him and said his decision to drag the process out for days was harmful to many Americans.
The government would have shut down on Tuesday if Trump hadn’t acted. In addition to containing money to fund government operations, the spending package also includes emergency relief money that finances a new round of stimulus checks, unemployment aid, and small-business assistance, among other things.
I am not sure how the politics of this plays out, but I'm pretty sure that Pelosi and Schumer have lost here, because losing is what they do.
First, it appears that this was a suicide bombing with the remaining tissue samples found on site being identified as Anthony Quinn Warner , a 63-year old "IT Guy", who transferred his house to some random woman in California in late November, and the truck was blaring the Petula Clark song Downtown before it detonated.
There are also scattered reports that the bombing might have been motivated by 5G conspiracy theories:
Anthony Quinn Warner was responsible for the Christmas morning explosion that rocked downtown Nashville, officials said Sunday, and he was killed in the blast.
Investigators matched human remains found at the scene with Warner’s DNA, confirming suspicions that he blew himself up in a recreational vehicle, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch told reporters. Law enforcement said they were still investigating a motive behind the incident.
Warner, 63, was unmarried and rarely ventured from his home, according to neighbors, living for years with his parents and then by himself. He once owned an alarm company, and he protected his home with an array of security cameras, rarely returning a neighborly wave and not responding to an offer of Christmas dinner, neighbors said in interviews.
In November, Warner transferred his property at 115 Bakertown Rd. to a Los Angeles woman for “$0,” according to property records of a quitclaim deed. The woman said in a brief telephone interview that the FBI told her not to discuss the matter and declined to comment.
A Nashville real estate firm, Fridrich & Clark Realty, confirmed that Warner worked there as a computer consultant for about 15 years before announcing his retirement earlier this month. “The Tony Warner we knew is a nice person who never exhibited any behavior which was less than professional,” co-owner Steve Fridrich wrote in a statement.
The officers heard a strange recorded warning, which started to play a 15-minute countdown, coming from the RV. Officers started knocking on doors, contacting dispatch to get access codes to buildings, clearing them floor by floor, warning residents who answered to gather family members and safely evacuate.
“That’s stuff that I’ll never forget, the sound of the announcement saying … ‘Evacuate now,’” said Amanda Topping, one of five officers who spoke to reporters during a morning news conference. “Just odd. And I’m pacing back and forth because I kept on having to turn pedestrians around.”
The RV began to play music — officer Tyler Luellen told reporters he later learned it was “Downtown” by Petula Clark. The officers prepared themselves, some going back to their cars for heavier gear.
While it is unknown whether the AT&T building was the intended target, experts on critical infrastructure said the Christmas morning episode makes clear that federal and local authorities and the private sector ought to find ways to reduce their vulnerability, either through moving key pieces to more fortified locations or building in redundancies.
As Alice Liddell would say, "Curiouser and Curiouser."
It appears that some philanthropists have come to realize that the structures of philanthropies in the United States don't generate much in the way of charity for the level of tax deductions provided.
Given my background, I founded a small charity in the early 1990s,* this remains an area of interest for me.
There has been a massive growth in various charitable organizations, and a commensurate growth in the taxes not paid, but not a growth of the actual charity provided:
A group of high-profile philanthropists and foundations, along with estate and gift tax experts, have come together to push for reforms to charitable giving laws that would increase the amount of money available for nonprofits.
Their goal is to unlock some of the US$1 trillion sitting in private foundations and donor-advised funds (DAFs) that is not obligated to be distributed to nonprofits under current law. The group, known as the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving, also aims to make it easier for the 90% of taxpayers who don’t itemize to gain a tax benefit for giving to charity.
“The purpose is to get money to working charities so they can put money to work,” says Ray Madoff, a professor of estate and gift tax estate planning, at Boston College, and the main force behind the U.S. initiative along with Houston philanthropist John Arnold.
Under current regulations—established in 1969, according to Madoff—private foundations are obligated only to pay out 5% of their assets to public charities annually. The rest can be invested as the foundation chooses, and can be passed down through generations.
DAFs, which have been an increasingly popular way to set aside money for charity, allow individuals to make donations into an investment fund managed by a public nonprofit, and get an immediate tax deduction. There is no requirement for funds to be distributed to a qualified public charity, since the DAF itself is managed by one.
The existence of these tax-advantaged vehicles, which today hold US$1 trillion in assets, raises a question that Madoff has studied for years. That is: What is society getting in return for not receiving those tax dollars? The answer, she realized, was “a lot less than we think.”………
And while individuals do actually make grants to charities from their DAFs, they aren’t required to do so. “It’s not that everybody is not spending anything, it’s that the vehicle facilitates large contributions of money—and there are definitely US$1 billion DAF accounts that are subject to no payout requirements,” Madoff says.
Another problem is that private foundations can meet their annual 5% payout requirement by distributing funds to a DAF instead of directly to an operating charity.
The U.S. provides “significant tax benefits,” Madoff says, “but we only get them halfway there, and the [law isn’t] doing much to get the money all the way to charities.”………
This coalition is asking Congress and the incoming presidential administration of Joseph Biden, for “emergency charitable stimulus” legislation to require private foundations to boost their annual payout rate to 10%, and to require a mandatory payout rate of 10% for DAFs, for three years, specifically to facilitate more dollars reaching charities hit by the Covid-19 crisis. According to the Independent Sector, an organization that supports the nonprofit sector, 7% of nonprofits in the U.S. are expected to close because of the pandemic.
“When tax benefits only apply to 10% of the population, then we are amplifying the voices of the wealthiest,” Madoff says. “It’s really important that tax benefits be available for all taxpayers.”
The group also believes Congress should ensure that private foundations can’t meet their payout obligations by transferring funds to a DAF, or by paying family member salaries (which is currently allowed by law).
For DAFs, the group is recommending that all funds in these vehicles are distributed within 15 years. They are also recommending an “aligned benefit rule,” that would allow a donor to get a break on capital gains taxes and estate and gift taxes upon funding their DAF, but would withhold the income-tax deduction until distributions are made to a public charity.
Modern charity increasingly serves as an employment guarantee to the Professional Managerial Class (PMC)†, which explains, for example, why college has become so expensive.
It all goes to special assistants to the senior VP in charge of filling out useless paperwork.
Endless number of people sending reports and creating data that never gets used for anything useful.
It's all Dave Graeber's Bullsh%$ Jobs.
*Even today, total turnover is probably less than $½ million a year, and it has no employees.
†Or, as I call them, the Democratic Party establishment's (There is no Democratic Party establishment) base.
States like New Hampshire and Connecticut, who have large numbers of people who work in other states, are attempting to claw back taxes that would have been collected if they still went into the office:
The rise of remote workers during the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court over which state gets to tax their income.
More than a dozen states submitted legal briefs this week to weigh in on a petition that New Hampshire filed with the court in October to stop Massachusetts from taxing residents working remotely. The petition says Massachusetts doesn’t have the right to tax the income of New Hampshire residents who previously commuted to their jobs in Massachusetts but now work from home.
The case hasn’t yet been scheduled for a private conference among Supreme Court justices, who will decide whether they will grant it a hearing. A ruling would have significant budget implications for states that have lost billions of dollars in tax revenue during the pandemic and could set a precedent on taxing remote workers that endures past the coronavirus crisis.
The U.S. Congress has for years discussed setting clearer rules for interstate taxation disputes, but hasn’t passed any legislation. New Hampshire took its complaint directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has original jurisdiction over disputes between two or more states.
This does raise some interesting issues, and I would expect it to make it to the Supreme Court, as this is a classic sort of interstate conflict that they resolve, but I'm an engineer, not a doctor, dammit!*
Given that Amazon's model for its Ring security cameras is its ability to collect extensive data on its users, and their neighbors.
Their plan is to monetize your data, and to share your data with law enforcement to further additional sales.
This model, where there are hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals and organizations with access to the cameras, it should come as no surprise that their system was hacked, and the hackers used their control of the network to harass people:
Dozens of people who say they were subjected to death threats, racial slurs, and blackmail after their in-home Ring smart cameras were hacked are suing the company over “horrific” invasions of privacy.
A new class action lawsuit, which combines a number of cases filed in recent years, alleges that lax security measures at Ring, which is owned by Amazon, allowed hackers to take over their devices. Ring provides home security in the form of smart cameras that are often installed on doorbells or inside people’s homes.
The suit against Ring builds on previous cases, joining together complaints filed by more than 30 people in 15 families who say their devices were hacked and used to harass them. In response to these attacks, Ring “blamed the victims, and offered inadequate responses and spurious explanations”, the suit alleges. The plaintiffs also claim the company has also failed to adequately update its security measures in the aftermath of such hacks.
Ring has not said who is behind the hacks, and victims say they still do not know who accessed their homes through the devices.
Repeatedly, Ring blamed victims for not using sufficiently strong passwords, the suit claims. It says Ring should have required users to establish complicated passwords when setting up the devices and implement two-factor authentication, which adds a second layer of security using a second form of identification, such as a phone number.
However, as the lawsuit alleges, Ring was hacked in 2019 – meaning the stolen credentials from that breach may have been used to get into users’ cameras. That means the hacks that Ring has allegedly blamed on customers may have been caused by Ring itself. A spokesperson said the company did not comment on ongoing litigation.
The lawsuit also cites research from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others that Ring violates user privacy by using a number of third-party trackers on its app.
My old axiom applies, "If they treat their employees like sh%$, how do you think that they will treat you as a customer?"
Amazon is a pernicious and corrupt organization, and cannot be trusted with your privacy.
Progressive voters can’t move Biden left, but Trump can move the Dem Party left. https://t.co/kaMiF5JltX— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) December 23, 2020
Last night, I made some pea soup for the Shabbos mean, and it brought back some memories.
It was a 1963 Chevy nova.
Given that Stephen, who was relatively new to driving, was going to do some of the driving, and the fact that the Nova had never really done highway driving, we went north along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Just off of the PCH, in Buellton, California, is a restaurant which is renowned for its pea soup, Pea Soup Andersen's.
We were in the area around dinner time, and my dad decided that we would eat dinner there.
I don't remember what I had, except for the soup, which was truly first rate.
What sticks in my memory was what happened after dinner.
I tried to get some toothpicks out of the toothpick machine, but it was jammed.
I tried to unjam it, and when I turned it upside down, because it appears that a toothpick was stuck underneath the roller, the top came off, spilling toothpicks all over the floors.
While the tres of the family remained in the booth, staring at me in poorly disguised amusement, I had to flag down the waitress and apologize. (I did unjam the machine)
I'm still getting razzed by my brothers over this, after almost 44 years.
Between grossly mismanaging the Harvard endowment, using school funds to bail out a corrupt protege, making Obama's economic team a cesspool of sexism, his championing the repeal of Glass Steagall, and his suggestion that it might make economic sense to use African countries as toxic waste dumps, Larry Summers has a long and inglorious record.
Now he is making the talking heads tour, claiming that a one time stimulus payment of $2,000.00 might overheat the economy.
Assuming that every single person in the United States got a check, (They won't, it would probably be less than half that) this would be about $660 billion, or about 3% of GDP.
I do not know how Larry Summers has achieved the positions of authority and prestige that he has, but he may very well be the single most overrated person inside the Washington, DC establishment:
Liberal economist Larry Summers said Thursday sending out $2,000 stimulus checks to Americans would be a “mistake,” making him the first prominent Democratic figure to come out against more direct relief.
Larry Summers is not a liberal economist. He is a a Robert Rubin Democrat.
- In an interview with Bloomberg, Summers argued the federal government shouldn’t focus on boosting consumer spending with direct assistance because it runs the risk of a “temporary overheat” of the economy.
- Summers noted he’s not “enthusiastic” about $600 checks either, which both parties in Congress already agreed to, for the same reason.
- Summers is generally seen as a left-of-center economist—but he’s previously drawn criticism from progressives for favoring policies that helped big banks as well as mismanaging stimulus negotiations during the Great Recession under Obama.
Why this guy is not treated as if he were as radioactive as bottled water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant?
He's always wrong, he's is toxic to his co-workers and subordinates, and he's shown this again, and again, and again, and again.
There was a massive explosion in downtown Nashville this morning.
What is known at this time:
What is not known at this time:
Given the current spate of right wing terrorism in the US in the past year or so, that is the most obvious place to point fingers, but it could be just be some guy who really hates AT&T: (That's a pretty big suspect list)
In the hours immediately following an urban explosion like the one that rocked Nashville on Friday morning, investigators are focused on two things: safety and collecting evidence.
"They're really kind of determining how it happened, almost more so than why," said Adam Hall, assistant professor in Biomedical Forensic Sciences at the Boston University School of Medicine.
"It's difficult, if not impossible, to say how long it would take them to identify an individual or individuals of interest. But at the same time, whatever physical evidence is collected is likely being prioritized for analysis so at least they can determine the type of explosive that was used, because that can give some indication as to what the source may have been."
Nashville authorities believe an explosion that occurred in downtown Nashville early Christmas morning was an "intentional act" and sparked by a vehicle.
Police came across a suspicious RV parked outside an AT&T building near Second Avenue and Commerce Street before 6 a.m., when initially responding to calls of shots fired in the area, said Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron.
The RV was playing a recording indicating it contained an explosive device and telling people to evacuate the area, police have confirmed.
Three people were hospitalized with injuries, police said.
Investigators' first task is to make sure there are no secondary or tertiary devices in the area that could injure law enforcement or civilians, he said.
Though authorities said there are no indications of additional devices, police were going door-to-door with dogs in the downtown area to search nearby buildings Friday morning.
Hopefully, we'll have more information before the start of the work week.
In advertising, there are two philosophies behind advertising, contextual advertising, where you base you ads on what the user is doing, or looking at, or looking for, when you serve the ad, and behavioral advertising, where the advertiser tracks the user across the internet by creating a dossier of everything that they do.
They are called tracking-based and contextual advertising respectively.
The claim of the trackers has always been that they create more effective ads as versus contextual advertising, though the best evidence seems to show the exact opposite.
To me, the "advantage" of tracking based advertising is that it creates tremendously high barriers for new market entrants, because they have to replicate the massive databases of user information of the incumbents.
It appears that Facebook's managers on their advertising side are similarly dubious of the claims of tracking-based ads, alleging that Facebook's claims are fraudulent.
Get the cuffs, Ponch:
Facebook is currently waging a PR campaign purporting to show that Apple is seriously injuring American small businesses through its iOS privacy features. But at the same time, according to allegations in recently unsealed court documents, Facebook has been selling them ad targeting that is unreliable to the point of being fraudulent.
The documents feature internal Facebook communications in which managers appear to admit to major flaws in ad targeting capabilities, including that ads reached the intended audience less than half of the time and that data behind a targeting criterion was “all crap.” Facebook says the material is presented out of context.
The documents emerged from a suit currently seeking class-action certification in federal court. The suit was filed by the owner of Investor Village, a small business that operates a message board on financial topics. Investor Village said in court filings that it decided to buy narrowly targeted Facebook ads because it hoped to reach “highly compensated and educated investors” but “had limited resources to spend on advertising.” But nearly 40 percent of the people who saw Investor Village’s ad either lacked a college degree, did not make $250,000 per year, or both, the company claims. In fact, not a single Facebook user it surveyed met all the targeting criteria it had set for Facebook ads, it says.
The lawsuit goes on to quote unnamed “employees on Facebook’s ad team” discussing their targeting capabilities circa June 2016:One engineer celebrated that detailed targeting accounted for “18% of total ads revenue,” and $14.8 million on June 17th alone. Using a smiley emoticon, an engineering manager responded, “Love this chart! Although if the most popular option is to combine interest and behavior, and we know for a fact our behavior is almost all crap, does this mean we are misleading advertiser [sic] a bit? :)” That manager proceeded to suggest further examination of top targeting criteria to “see if we are giving advertiser [sic] false hope.”………
The complaint also cites unspecified internal communications in which “[p]rivately, Facebook managers described important targeting data as ‘crap’ and admitted accuracy was ‘abysmal.’”
I would argue that Facebook's whole advertising model is fraudulent.
*See here for earlier posts.
Once again, it appears that charter schools are once again misusing public funds:
Primavera online charter school, like many businesses this spring, sought help from the federal Paycheck Protection Program to weather the economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chandler, Arizona, school received a PPP loan of nearly $2.2 million, the largest forgivable loan among the 132 Arizona charter schools that obtained them.
But Primavera's loan appears to have been more of a bonus than a lifeline.
The school, which like all Arizona public schools didn't lose state funding because of the pandemic, ended its fiscal year on June 30 with $8.8 million in the bank – almost double the annual payroll costs for its 85 teachers, records show.
The school also shipped $10 million to its lone shareholder: StrongMind, an affiliated company owned by Primavera's founder and former CEO Damian Creamer.
An Arizona Republic review of more than 100 charter school financial records, audits and federal Small Business Administration documents found the overwhelming majority of the Arizona charter schools that obtained PPP loans didn't need the money.
"The PPP loans are taxpayer dollars intended to help the needy, not the greedy," [charter school auditor Jason] Todd said.
The Republic found that most of the charter schools getting PPP funds padded their cash balances (savings accounts), and a few for-profit charter operations, like Primavera, gave money away to shareholders that matched or exceeded their PPP loan amounts.
A 2018 Republic investigation found the state's charter school industry, which gets more than $1 billion annually from the state general fund, has produced several multi-millionaires through self-dealing and lax oversight.
Creamer is among the prominent figures who've made millions of dollars operating Arizona charter schools. His online alternative school boasts more than 20,000 full- and part-time students. Primavera paid Creamer $10.1 million in 2017 and 2018.
"The Trump administration's faulty design and mismanagement of the Paycheck Protection Program let thousands of mom-and-pop businesses slip through the cracks without adequate aid while charter schools cashed in," [president of Accountable Us, Kyle] Herrig said.
Herrig's organization said that the PPP loans given to Creamer's interests "merit further investigation" because his "businesses seem to have fared well throughout the pandemic."
Arizona Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, who also is a member of the Charter Board, said she was astonished by The Republic's findings.
"It saddens me those dollars are not going to students," she said. "It's very excessive. These dollars should be going where they are needed most, and that's the students and instructional needs."
Corruption is a feature and not a bug for charter schools.
Destroying the teachers' unions, and stealing public money for private profiteers are the raison d'être of the charter school movement.
That is why the audits. If fraud can happen, it is happening.
The American Hospital Association wants the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to suspend its price transparency regulations, because it's too burdensome.
They just don't want to be held to account for their deliberately opaque pricing structures and policies.
If there is one thing that hospitals get right, it's how to charge people as much as is humanly possible:
- The American Hospital Association filed an emergency motion for a stay, which means it's seeking to stop the government from enforcing its price transparency rule, set to go into effect Jan. 1 if the law is not struck down in federal appeals court.
- The AHA is still awaiting a final verdict from the court after the three-judge panel heard oral arguments in October. In the meantime, the group is hoping to bar the law from going into effect as hospitals are overwhelmed by the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines and record-high COVID-19 caseloads.
- Emergency relief is warranted, AHA said, because CMS will start conducting audits of price transparency compliance and those not following the regulations face financial penalties, the parties said in a Monday filing.
Dive Insight:A CMS bulletin from last Friday led AHA to file the emergency request with the federal appeals court. The notice informed providers that CMS is prepared to "audit a sample of hospitals for compliance starting in January" and those providers found in violation will face civil monetary penalties.
AHA argues that halting the policy is necessary given the "exceptional circumstances" the industry faces.
Meanwhile, the hospital lobby is still waiting on the ruling from federal appeals court. But after listening to oral arguments back in October, industry experts don't feel AHA will prevail in the case, which is seeking to knock down the law.
The three-judge panel seemed highly skeptical that it is unlawful for the government to compel providers to publish the negotiated rates they reach with insurers for services provided to patients.
The hospitals can literally turn over pricing data at the press of a button, but the hospitals want to continue to profit over secrecy, and they are hoping to put one over on the incoming administration.
After an audit of the algorithm, the resume screening company found that the algorithm found two factors to be most indicative of job performance: their name was Jared, and whether they played high school lacrosse.—Dave Gershgorn on Quartz about how algorithms reinforce bias.
I would argue that this is a feature, and not a bug.
When you look at the "Gig Economy", and AI "Expert Systems," the unspoking selling point is that they are, "money laundering for bias."
When I said that, "I expect to see double digit numbers of pardons on a weekly pardons moving forward," last night, I thought I was describing a worst case.
I was wrong. Trump just issued 26 new pardons today, many for his co-conspirators.
He may break 3 digits for a week.
No, this is not The Onion.
Trump is demanding a repeal of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and he is objecting to changing the names of military bases named after traitors:
President Trump made good Wednesday on his repeated threats to veto a $741 billion defense spending bill, setting up what is expected to be the first successful veto override of his presidency during his last weeks in office.
The House and Senate each passed the defense bill earlier this month with strong veto-proof majorities, rejecting Trump’s insistence that it be changed to meet his oftentimes shifting demands. Both chambers are expected to sustain the two-thirds majorities needed to override the president’s veto, despite pledges from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other stalwart Trump allies not to cross the president’s wishes.
In his veto message, Trump complained that the legislation includes “provisions that fail to respect our veterans’ and military’s history” — a seeming reference to instructions that the Defense Department change the names of installations commemorating Confederate leaders. He also scorned the bill as a “ ‘gift’ to China and Russia,” slammed the bill for restricting his ability to draw down the presence of U.S. troops in certain foreign outposts, and excoriated lawmakers for failing to include an unrelated repeal of a law granting liability protections to technology companies that Trump has accused, without significant evidence, of anti-conservative bias.
Trump and his advisers have repeatedly objected to various provisions in the behemoth defense legislation, including its mandate to the Pentagon to rename the 10 military installations bearing titles that honor the Confederacy and the bill’s limitations on reducing troop levels in Germany, South Korea and Afghanistan.
Trump’s insistence that the defense bill become a vehicle for a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects companies from bearing legal responsibility for content third parties post on their websites, became a breaking point between the president and congressional Republicans during the final days of negotiations over the legislation. Trump views its repeal as a way to punish social media companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter.
It's stupid and petty, but Trump does Stupid and Petty better than anyone.
My loyal reader(s) are no doubt aware that I was unimpressed with the stimulus package that the Congressional Democrats capitulated themselves into.
It appears that Donald Trump is equally unempressed, as
he is strongly implying that he will veto the bill if the individual
payments are not increased from $600 to $2,000:
President Trump’s last-minute move to reject a sweeping coronavirus relief package is escalating confusion and panic among Republicans while setting the stage for an uncomfortable confrontation Thursday that could lead GOP lawmakers to object to their own president’s demand for larger stimulus checks for Americans.
The chaos is unfolding against the backdrop of another threatened government shutdown, with funding set to lapse starting Tuesday unless a spending bill to keep federal operations running is signed into law along with the virus aid bill. While the president hasn’t explicitly threatened a veto, his defiance of a deal negotiated by his own administration could spark a standoff that could conceivably last until Joe Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday that Democrats would seek to pass a bill at a short Thursday House session that would provide $2,000 checks, though the measure could easily be blocked by Republicans, as it would require unanimous consent from House members.
I would note here that Pelosi could bulldoze her way through the requirement for unanimous consent, but she doesn't want the $2,000.00 payment either.
They could write a 2 page bill, and get it though in 1 or 2 days.
It would be good politics and good policy, but for whatever reason, Pelosi is not willing to call Trump's bluff.
The politics of this are fascinating:
………Pass the popcorn.
Trump started by decrying “wasteful” spending in the relief bill, tallying up a bunch of funny-sounding programs (amberjack fish, haha! Asian carp! Poultry production technology!). I believe all these programs are in the omnibus section of the bill, not the COVID relief section. First, it’s a stupid gimmick to define programs in a couple words that are actually pretty vital. (Poultry production technology would add efficiencies and perhaps save lives in the production process, to use one example. Here’s an entire conference about it.) Second, the spending, while not wasteful, also doesn’t add up to much. The fourteen programs explicitly identified total $3.849 billion, in a bill of $2.2 trillion (between the $1.3 trillion discretionary spending and the $892 billion in COVID relief.
Trump went on to say that the $600 direct payments in the bill were “ridiculously low,” and that he wanted $2,000, gesturing toward cutting the “wasteful” spending and using the proceeds. Trump didn’t quite say he would veto the whole package, just that he would “ask Congress to amend” it.
For the record, it would cost about $380 billion to increase the value of the payments by $1,400, and Trump identified $3.8 billion. I did the math, his calculations would add $13.91 to everyone’s check. But the numbers sound big in nominal terms, so he gets away with relying on the innumeracy of the public. But who cares about the cost when people are suffering? We have skyrocketing poverty and falling personal income. Checks for $2,000 are obviously better than $600.
But that universe of people, while in need, is about 2-3 percent of the total workforce. By contrast something like 80 percent of the public, everyone making $100,000 or less, is getting the check. From a messaging standpoint of “what’s in it for me,” that’s just going to take precedence. Moreover, you can see the two payments, from CARES and this bill, as a leveler of decades of soaring inequality, and really the least you can do for a population that has had the rules of capitalism rigged against them. Even if they weren’t means tested, giving everyone thousands of dollars means more to those at the lower end.
The politics, then, argue for higher payments. It was Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans who kept them artificially low. Now here comes Trump asking for them to be nearly tripled. It’s amazing that he waited until after losing the election to flash the old-time populism and wedge both parties, but here we are. And then came the moment where Mitch McConnell’s head blew up like in Scanners.
As soon as Trump posted that video, I suggested that the House pass a one-page bill, increasing the checks from $600 to $2,000. Much to my delight in seeing that political instincts in the Democratic Party aren’t totally dead, about 10 minutes later, Nancy Pelosi suggested the same thing, saying she would offer unanimous consent to amend the bill. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) even wrote the amendment. (I gave it a name: the $2,000 Does Offer Long-Lasting Available Relief or $2,000 DOLLAR, Act.) Eventually, Chuck Schumer got on board as well. Joe Biden hasn’t said anything, but he was on the record for seeking more money when he became president. So the Democratic leadership beat him to it, and called Trump’s bluff.
Now, a word on “unanimous consent”: it would be better to just pass a bill in the House, and demand its takeup in the Senate. Unanimous consent needs to be, well, unanimous; one Republican House member can derail it. If you move a bill, every House Republican has to go on the record of whether they stand with Trump for spending $380 billion in a direct transfer to low- and middle-income people. Every one of those that doesn’t gets a campaign ad in 2022 about how “you needed that extra money, and Congressman X voted to not give it to you.” So yes, #ForceTheVote.
This puts McConnell in a terrible spot. There’s an election in Georgia in two weeks that will determine his Senate majority. The only reason McConnell passed this bill is to save Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue’s careers and preserve his control of the Senate. He put an artificial $900 billion cap on it, which Donald Trump and Democrats now are united in regarding as puny. If McConnell resists the change, he’s all alone in denying money to the American people. These checks poll extremely well, and both Democrats in Georgia are already running on the $2,000 level. If McConnell resists, losing the Senate is a much likelier scenario. If he doesn’t, people get $2,000.
There are so many amazing subplots here. Trump can’t stand McConnell for abandoning his overthrow-the-election gambit, so he sticks in the final knife. The threat, by the way, is real: there are only 10 days left in this Congress, and Trump doesn’t have the bill yet (which is being “enrolled,” essentially double-checked for errors). He could “pocket veto” the bill and just not sign it, and in 10 days the clock would run out, and there would be no bill for anyone. The new Congress would have to start all over.
This would be a disastrous scenario—unemployment programs would expire, the eviction moratorium would lift, and more. Already this snafu is delaying the flow of relief. And the only man holding it up is Mitch McConnell. This upends the entire shift of the multi-racial working class away from the Democratic Party, and re-focuses the spotlight brightly on McConnell. Trump handed the Democrats a total gift here, and if they play it right, the payoff for people—literally—will be incredible.
Because of the upcoming holiday, unemployment claims number were released a day early, and while down a bit, it initial claims remain above eight hundred thousand:
The number of workers seeking unemployment benefits fell last week, amid signs the economy is continuing to recover, but at a slowing pace.Additionally, household spending and income dropped in November:
New jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, came in at 803,000 for the week ended Dec. 19, down from an upwardly revised 892,000 the prior week, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.
The latest figures marked a retreat from a three-month high. Still, claims are hovering at their highest levels since recent peaks in September, as states and local municipalities impose fresh restrictions on social and business activity to combat a surge in coronavirus cases.
Household spending dropped for the first time in seven months and layoffs remained elevated as a surge in virus cases weighed on economic recovery.
After going on a shopping spree this summer, consumers closed their wallets last month, cutting spending by 0.4%, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. They cut spending on services such as restaurant meals, as well as purchases of goods, including big-ticket items like cars and appliances.
Household incomes also took a hit as the effects of federal aid programs put in place earlier this year fade. Household income—measuring what Americans received in wages, investment returns and government aid—fell 1.1%, the third drop in four months.
We have been coasting on expired stimulus, and the economy is running out of momentum.
Basically, the government is alleging that the pharmacists at the retail giant were so overworked that they were unable to perform due diligence of dodgy prescriptions.
I would love to see this level of scrutiny applied to Amazon:
The Trump administration sued Walmart Inc. Tuesday, accusing the retail giant of helping to fuel the nation’s opioid crisis by inadequately screening for questionable prescriptions despite repeated warnings from its own pharmacists.Walmart's defense appears to be, "I don't want to deal drugs, but it would cost too much money to do the job right."
The Justice Department’s lawsuit claims Walmart sought to boost profits by understaffing its pharmacies and pressuring employees to fill prescriptions quickly. That made it difficult for pharmacists to reject invalid prescriptions, enabling widespread drug abuse nationwide, the suit alleges.
The country’s largest retailer by revenue, Walmart has been expecting this complaint and sued the federal government in October to fight the allegations pre-emptively. That suit accuses the Justice Department and DEA of attempting to scapegoat the company for what it says are the federal government’s own regulatory and enforcement shortcomings.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit alleges Walmart created a system that turned its network of 5,000 in-store U.S. pharmacies into a leading supplier of highly addictive painkillers. The allegations date to June 2013, according to the suit.
“Many of these prescription drugs would never have hit the streets if Walmart pharmacies had complied with their obligations,” said Maria Chapa Lopez, a U.S. attorney in Tampa, Fla., who is one of several prosecutors involved in the suit.
Walmart started with cut-rate prices on opioids that initially drove shoppers to its stores, the government alleges. Middle managers—under direction from executives at company headquarters—pressured pharmacists to work faster, the suit says, believing quick-fill prescriptions drew customers to stay and keep shopping.
Many of the alleged problems centered in Walmart’s compliance unit, which oversaw dispensing nationwide from the company’s main office in Bentonville, Ark., the suit says. Walmart allegedly ignored repeated warnings that the company had understaffed its pharmacies as pressure to sell quickly caused mistakes and put patients’ health at risk, according to the complaint.
Pharmacists allegedly got little help from compliance managers who for years didn’t share information between stores, and in many cases refused requests to give blanket rejections to suspect prescribers even after rival retailers had done so, the suit says.
“Rather than analyzing the refusal-to-fill reports, the compliance unit viewed ‘[d]riving sales and patient awareness’ as ‘a far better use of our Market Directors and Market Manager’s time,’” the Justice Department said, quoting a company compliance director. “Given the nationwide scale of those violations, Walmart’s failures to follow basic legal rules helped fuel a national crisis.”
My old axiom applies, "If they treat their employees like sh%$, how do you think that they will treat you as a customer?"
I knew that he has fetishized deficit reduction for years, but these are extraordinary times, and Joe Biden appears unable to move behind old habits.
When Biden said, "Nothing would fundamentally change," he meant it, and and he intends to stick to it.
This is a recipe for disaster:
If there is any consistent throughline in Joe Biden’s long career, it is his commitment to the ideology of austerity.
He has obsessively pushed for Social Security cuts for decades, and he is stocking his administration with deficit hawks — including today’s announcement that notorious Social Security cutter Bruce Reed will be White House deputy chief of staff. Biden has even threatened to veto Medicare for All legislation on the grounds that it costs too much (even though Congress says it would actually save a lot of money).
Now, in the whittling down of the stimulus legislation, we see the first concrete example of how Biden’s ideology can change policy in the here and now — and in deeply destructive ways.
However, the New York Times reminds us today that Biden was “not an idle bystander in the negotiations.” On the contrary, the paper of record tells us that the president-elect played a decisive role in making sure the legislation was cut in half. Here is the key excerpt:
With Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate far apart on how much they were willing to accept in new pandemic spending, Mr. Biden on Dec. 2 threw his support behind the $900 billion plan being pushed by the centrist group. The total was less than half of the $2 trillion that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, had been insisting on.
Mr. Biden’s move was not without risks. If it had failed to affect the discussions, the president-elect risked looking powerless to move Congress before he had taken the oath of office. But members of both parties said his intervention was constructive and gave Democrats confidence to pull back on their demands.
That last line of Biden’s statement is arguably the most disturbing foreshadow of all: He is depicting the process — which starved America for months and now skimps on benefits — as a terrific “model” for the future.
But now we see what Biden austerity means in practice. It means meager $600 survival checks instead of $1,200 checks in the same package that pours money into the Pentagon, gives rich people big new tax breaks and doubles funding for Congress’s own private health care system. It means inadequate unemployment benefits in a bill that devotes $6 billion to making business executives’ meals tax deductible and $3 billion to a tax break for landlords.
If Biden is allowed to be Biden, the way that Obama was allowed to be Obama, and the activists and progressives allow themselves to be put back into the "veal pen," in 2024, we are going to see someone far worse, and far more competent, than Donald Trump elected in 2024.
And a partridge in a pear tree.
Donald Trump just issued a slew of Christmas pardons, and while I am not surprised at his pardoning potential witnesses agaisnt him, I am a bit disappointed that he also found time to pardon Blackwater's war criminal mercenaries and the corrupt former Congressmen:
In an audacious pre-Christmas round of pardons, President Trump granted clemency on Tuesday to two people convicted in the special counsel’s Russia inquiry, four Blackwater guards convicted in connection with the killing of Iraqi civilians and three corrupt former Republican members of Congress.
It was a remarkable assertion of pardon power by a president who has disputed his loss in the election and might be only the start of more to come in the final weeks before he leaves office on Jan. 20.
Among those pardoned was George Papadopoulos, who was a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and who pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to federal officials as part of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
Also pardoned was Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2018 in connection to the special counsel’s inquiry. Both men served short prison sentences.
Mr. Trump recently pardoned his former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty twice to charges including lying to the F.B.I. in connection with the inquiry into Russian involvement in the election. The president in July commuted the sentence of Roger J. Stone Jr., his longtime adviser who was convicted on a series of charges related to the investigation. Both men have maintained their innocence.
Mr. Trump’s pardon list also included four former U.S. service members who were convicted on charges related to the killing of Iraqi civilians while working as contractors in 2007.
One of them, Nicholas Slatten, had been sentenced to life in prison after the Justice Department had gone to great lengths to prosecute him. Mr. Slatten had been a contractor for the private company Blackwater and was sentenced for his role in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad — a massacre that left one of the most lasting stains of the war on the United States. Among those dead were 10 men, two women and two boys, who were 8 and 11.
The three former members of Congress pardoned by Mr. Trump were Duncan D. Hunter of California, Chris Collins of New York and Steve Stockman of Texas.
A tabulation by the Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith found that of the 45 pardons or commutations that Mr. Trump had granted up until Tuesday, 88 percent aided someone with a personal tie to the president or furthered his political aims.
And by nullifying the legal consequences of convictions in the Russia inquiry, Mr. Trump escalated a long campaign, aided by his departing attorney general, William P. Barr, to effectively undo the investigation by Mr. Mueller, discredit the resulting prosecutions and punish those who instigated it in the first place.
I expect to see double digit numbers of pardons on a weekly pardons moving forward.
I have to agree with the cartoonist, the fact that a woman is raining down death and destruction upon black and brown people throughout the world is not a cause for celebration, a better solution is to stop the bombing:
In a historic first, the Navy has recommended a female officer to command an aircraft carrier.
Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt is one of six officers recommended to command a nuclear-powered carrier in fiscal 2022. Also selected for the job were Capts. Colin Day, David Duff, Brent Gaut, David-Tavis Pollard and Craig Sicola.
Naval Air Forces did not respond to requests for comment from Bauernschmidt, or questions about when the captains will be assigned to carriers and what having a woman serving in this role will bring to the force.
Bauernschmidt has already broken barriers in her Navy career since leaving the Naval Academy in 1994. She became the first woman to serve as executive officer on a nuclear warship, the carrier Abraham Lincoln, in 2016.
The definitive word on this is Caitlin Johnstone's essay, "Biden Will Have The Most Diverse, Intersectional Cabinet Of Mass Murderers Ever Assembled."
It is not enough that women or minorities have an equal opportunity to oppress. The oppression should stop.
This proposal to weaponize federalism against the right wing is fascinating.
The short version is that it is an invitation for Republicans to destroy themselves in the same way that Sam Brownback destroyed his political career and nearly destroyed the state of Kansas though his insane adherence to the dogma of tax cuts:
As the euphoria fades, reality sets in. America remains divided geographically, with no relief from our partisan stalemate on the horizon. If we want to hold the republic together, we need to get creative.
There’s a little-noted firewall protecting Republican politicians from the consequences of their rhetoric. Embedded protections at the federal level mean red-state voters never feel the full consequences of electing idiots. No one pays for the stupidity of Republican economic policy because Congressional stalemate and the Federal bureaucracy block Republicans from creating the dystopia of their dreams.
Want to rescue America? Embrace a soft secession. Frederick the Great once explained, “defending everything defends nothing.” Stop trying to civilize the red states. Instead, embrace the progress that can be achieved at state levels. Remove the blue state welfare system that insulates rural white Republicans from the consequences of their politics. The stark geographic split in our politics is as much an opportunity as a threat. Earn progressive policy wins for blue states by offering Republicans the chance to live in the country they’re trying to create. If Democrats truly believe in the power of their policies, they should be ready to weaponize federalism.
Use federalism to exploit the disconnect between the priorities of Republican politicians and the priorities of their voters. Pass progressive policies in the House with state-level opt-out provisions. In some cases, sweeten those bills with offers Republican elected officials (and their donors) can’t refuse, but their voters will hate. Bait Republican Senators into passing them.
Pass a national $15/hour minimum wage bill. To lure Republicans into backing it, offer opt-outs that would let Republicans realize one of their most fantastic dreams, elimination of the minimum wage in their states. Republican Senators would jump at the opportunity. Bait Republican Governors or Legislatures into stripping wage protections from workers and watch what happens at election time.
Offer Republicans a state-level opt out provision which grants those opt-out states the right to pass up the additional upper-income tax increase and receive all of their Medicare & Medicaid taxes as a block grant. In other words, dangle in front of them the chance to eliminate Medicare and Medicaid in their states. Would they turn that down? Hell no.
Most importantly, Republican elected officials would finally face the consequences of their politics. What would happen to Republican politicians in Ohio when voters next door in Pennsylvania suddenly had access to cheap universal health care? What would happen to those voters when no worker in neighboring Pennsylvania was earning less than a living wage?………
Would it be cruel to let red states fall behind? No, it’s democracy and it’s entirely fair. At some point it becomes a message of simple respect for democracy and the continuation of the American project. One of the reasons racist whites sit beyond the feedback loop, immunized from the consequences of their choices, is that Democrats haven’t let them experience the consequences of their choices. Let red states live in the country their leaders want to create, to the extent possible without dragging down other states.
We can hold the country together and potentially soften the impact of our political divide by granting states more rights and more consequences. Odds are, this will inspire a revolt in Baptistan as soft R voters wake up to the consequences of their choices, but perhaps it won’t. It doesn’t matter. Win where you can win. Achieve progress where it’s available, and let Republicans live in their own mess. It’s a small price to pay to avoid a second Civil War.
The obvious question here is, "But what if Republicans, actually improve the status of their states, through their delusional policies?
Well, if their policies actually work, then we adopt those policies.
If not, let the Republicans cut their own throats.
I reserve the right to reprint any email correspondence on my blog.
If you want to keep your correspondence private, please tell me.A member of the Democratic wing of the Democratic party, and a fan of Bernie who thinks Neoliberal (DLC/New Dem) trickle down conomics sucks.
Mechanical Engineer with a background in defense, electronics packaging, medical & food equipment, transportation, and manufacturing.
In my spare time (Hah!), I am the developer of the Firefox addon, bbCode for Web Extensions (bbCodeWebEx).
I have two cats, a black cat, and a gray and white long hair cat, who keep me on my toes. (Because he keeps attacking my feet)
I am a Jew and a Zionist, who is married to a woman with exquisitely bad taste in men, and I have two remarkable children with her.
It's a posting ground for my more-or-less annual personal newsletter, 40 Years in the Desert.(PDF's available at link)
I find that if I wait until year's end I miss stuff from earlier in the year.
40 Years is put out the old fashioned way, it's printed out on ledger sized paper with 4 pages and mailed to people, total circulation of about 100.
I'm just not the holiday card kind of guy. A warning, if you comment here, I may use it in my paper publication.
You will get credit, and if I can get your addy, you will get at least the issue where you are quoted (probably a lot more, I rarely trim my list).
If someone actually wants to pay for an issue...I don't know, I guess a buck, but you can get the PDF's free.I intend to post at least a couple of times a week,