29 February 2020

Biden Wins Decisively in South Carolina

Bernie Sanders came in a distant second place, with Tom Steyer in third despite devoting millions of dollars to the state contest (He has now announced that he is dropping out of the race)

As to the effect on the election, I think that this is generally bad news for Sanders, who underperformed IMHO, and Michael Bloomberg, who, while not on the ballot, has been selling himself as an alternative to a flagging Biden campaign.

Super-Tuesday is in 3 days, and I have no predictions beyond that  some of the also-rans are likely dropping out after that.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. scored a decisive victory in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, reviving his listing campaign and establishing himself as the leading contender to slow Senator Bernie Sanders as the turbulent Democratic race turns to a slew of coast-to-coast contests on Tuesday.

Propelled by an outpouring of support from South Carolina’s African-American voters, Mr. Biden easily overcame a late effort by Mr. Sanders to stage an upset. The victory in a state long seen as his firewall will vault Mr. Biden into Super Tuesday, where polls open in just over 48 hours, as the clear alternative to Mr. Sanders for establishment-aligned Democrats.

Mr. Biden, the former vice president, captured just under 50 percent of the vote, well ahead of Mr. Sanders, who had 20 percent. Tom Steyer, the California billionaire, was a distant third, followed by Pete Buttigieg and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. The victory enabled Mr. Biden to significantly narrow Mr. Sanders’s pledged delegate lead, but he did not appear poised to overtake him.

The Irony is Delicious

As a result of US sanctions, Huawei has been locked out of Google's play store.

For most phone manufacturers, this would be something near to a death blow, but since Huawei is large enough to set up a rather competent app marketplace of its own, as well as being able to create its competent equivalents of Google's services.

This has the effect of creating a parallel ecosystem for the Android operating system, which means that, because the OS is open source, Google is at risk of losing much of its control over Android, including its ability to spy on millions (billions?) of users.

So, Google has gone to the Trump administration hat in hand to roll back the sanctions and bring Huawei back into the fold:
As Huawei takes the initiative to create its own homegrown alternative to the Play Store, Google has reportedly pleaded with the White House to offer it an exemption to again work with the Chinese tech giant.

Huawei's inclusion on the Trump administration's Entity List has had dramatic consequences for the company's handset business, preventing it from using Google Mobile Services (GMS) on its latest phones and tablets.

According to German wire service Deutsche Press Agentur, Android and Google Play veep Sameer Samat has confirmed that Google has applied for a licence to resume working with Huawei.


Huawei has said that if Google got an exemption, it would promptly update its newest phones to use Google Mobile Services.

That said, Huawei's strategy has focused on hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. These preparations have seen the firm invest over $1bn on its app ecosystem, with more than 3,000 engineers working on the AppGallery, according to a statement from the company released earlier this week.

It has also made deals with Western app developers and content providers, most notably Sunday Times publisher News UK, to make its services appear less barren.


Huawei has also introduced the ability to download progressive web apps, dubbed "Quick Apps" by the firm, through the AppGallery, which should bump up the app availability numbers – even if they lack the sophistication of a dedicated native app.

It's likely this that has motivated Google to take the initiative. Although losing Huawei as a customer is a significant financial body blow to Mountain View, given its enduring popularity in Europe and Asia, it would pale compared to the damage caused by a new product that starts to loosen its stranglehold on the Android sphere.

Google Mobile Services can cost as much as $40 per device, and it's likely that many phone vendors, particularly on the cheaper end of the spectrum, would welcome a less-expensive alternative.

Complicating matters for Google, the biggest Chinese phone manufacturers (Oppo, Xiaomi and Huawei) have teamed up to simplify the process of deploying apps to their in-house stores.

With Google claiming a cool 30 per cent on all Play Store sales, this represents a huge threat to its bottom line.
I'm kind of hoping that the request for a waiver is denied, because anything that hurts Google is good for the rest of us.

28 February 2020

What Is an Emergency without Looting?

Given that he is a former pharmaceutical executive, this is not a surprise:
Members of Congress and advocacy groups are voicing outrage after Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar—a former pharmaceutical executive—repeatedly refused during House testimony Wednesday to guarantee that any coronavirus vaccine or treatment developed with taxpayer money will be affordable for all in the U.S., not just the rich.


During testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday, Azar was pressed multiple times to vow that vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus will be priced fairly and made affordable for all U.S. households.

"We would want to ensure that we'd work to make it affordable," Azar told Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), "but we can't control that price because we need the private sector to invest."
You don't need the private sector to invest.

The research will be government funded, and you have tools, such as a threat to invoke Biden-Dole march in rights on most of their patent portfolio, to coerce basic human decency out of these firms.

Paging Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair once observed that, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Reports that the Democratic establishment is willing to burn the party to the ground so that they can preside over the ruins is proof of this.

The army of overpaid incompetent consultants, and their friends on the revolving door track at the DNC, realize the iff Bernie Sanders wins, then their personal gravy train comes to an end.

Of course they are willing to produce long lasting damage to the party in order to preserve their position within the party.

It's the Iron Law of Institutions, "The people who control institutions care first and foremost about their power within the institution rather than the power of the institution itself. Thus, they would rather the institution "fail" while they remain in power within the institution than for the institution to "succeed" if that requires them to lose power within the institution."
Dozens of interviews with Democratic establishment leaders this week show that they are not just worried about Mr. Sanders’s candidacy, but are also willing to risk intraparty damage to stop his nomination at the national convention in July if they get the chance. Since Mr. Sanders’s victory in Nevada’s caucuses on Saturday, The Times has interviewed 93 party officials — all of them superdelegates, who could have a say on the nominee at the convention — and found overwhelming opposition to handing the Vermont senator the nomination if he arrived with the most delegates but fell short of a majority.

Such a situation may result in a brokered convention, a messy political battle the likes of which Democrats have not seen since 1952, when the nominee was Adlai Stevenson.

“We’re way, way, way past the day where party leaders can determine an outcome here, but I think there’s a vibrant conversation about whether there is anything that can be done,” said Jim Himes, a Connecticut congressman and superdelegate, who believe the nominee should have a majority of delegates.
In the words of Mel Brooks, "We gotta protect our phony baloney jobs."


Grind Them into the Dirt, and Then Salt the Earth

I am, of course, referring to Pacific Gas & Electric, which is now facing $2.1 billion fine for its negligence causing multiple wildfires:
California regulators increased penalties against PG&E Corp. to $2.1 billion for violations tied to the catastrophic wildfires ignited by the company’s power lines in 2017 and 2018.

The penalty would be the largest ever imposed by the California Public Utilities Commission, the agency said in a statement Thursday.

The decision, which becomes final if PG&E agrees to the terms within 20 days, increases a prior penalty settlement by about $462 million. It also would require that any tax savings associated with the payments be applied to the benefit of PG&E customers. Those savings may exceed $500 million.


The state’s revised penalty would bar PG&E from recovering about $1.8 billion in wildfire-related costs from ratepayers, require the company to spend $114 million on system enhancements and corrective actions and pay a $200 million fine to the state’s general fund. 
PG&E needs to be shut down, and its assets seized by the government.

To quote Corporal Hicks, "Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

Why We Love The New Yorker

The New Yorker has this illustration for their cover story on Trump's incoherent response to CoViD-19.

It's beautiful, man.

Given the level of disruption now, I rather hope this to be a Katrina moment for the Trump administration.

However, given the general deterioration of the news media since 2005, I rather expect that the ongoing cluster-f%$# of the Corona Virus crisis will be abandoned in for in depth coverage some outrageous tweet.

We are living in interesting times, and not in a good way.


Have some Cyanide and Happiness:

27 February 2020

Her Honor

She self-published a children's book and then used her position to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars of sales:
In her three years as mayor, a seat she often described as her "dream job," Catherine E. Pugh sought to burnish the image of her adoptive hometown, a city battered by rioting, a soaring murder rate, and a history of corruption at City Hall and in the police department.

Yet, as she was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy, Pugh personified the dysfunction that has long permeated Maryland’s largest city and sown distrust among its 600,000 residents.

“This became a very large fraud,” U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow said before punishing Pugh for using her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s books to generate more than $800,000 in income while failing to deliver tens of thousands of the books to youngsters.
The fraudulent sales to entities with business before city and state government helped fund straw donations to Pugh’s political campaigns and allowed her to buy and renovate a second home in Baltimore.
2 of the past 4 mayors of Baltimore have been charged with corruption while in office.

Another Day, Another Shooting

At a brewery in Milwaukee, with at least 5 dead:
Officials said they are investigating why Anthony Ferrill — a 51-year-old electrician with a wife, grandchildren and a Doberman he adored — walked into his workplace and began shooting Wednesday afternoon, leaving five dead before killing himself.

On Thursday, a chilly wind blew through the deserted Molson Coors complex with its soaring red “Miller” beer sign, its employees sent home and the work halted on the factory floor. Residents across this Midwestern city grieved and gathered at a community prayer vigil. Relatives of the victims began making plans to bury the dead.

The five victims — utility workers, machinists and electricians — came from across southern Wisconsin to work at the iconic brewery, Molson Coors chief executive Gavin Hattersley said at an afternoon news conference. They were identified as Jesus Valle Jr., 33; Gennady Levshetz, 51; Trevor Wetselaar, 33; Dana Walk, 57; and Dale Hudson, 50.
Welcome to the new normal, and f%$# the NRA.

Because it Worked SO Well for President Garfield

Someone seems to forget that the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was passed in response to the assassination of James A. Garfield by a disgruntled office seeker.

This is not a good precedent:
The White House this week confirmed it is combing through federal agencies to identify employees not sufficiently loyal to President Trump to facilitate their ouster, sparking concerns the administration could run afoul of long-established civil service laws.

The administration is examining employees throughout the government to find anyone taking action officials decide represents an effort to undermine Trump, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox News Monday. Gidley did not specifically mention career employees, who are statutorily protected against political retaliation, but did note the “millions” of individuals agencies employ. By contrast, there are only about 4,000 political appointees in government.

“It’s not a secret that we want people in positions that work with this president, not against him, and too often we have people in this government—I mean the federal government is massive, with millions of people—and there are a lot people out there taking action against this president and when we find them we will take appropriate action,” Gidley said.

His comments followed reports in Axios that the administration maintains “deep state” hit lists of employees to fire and the president has tasked the head of the Presidential Personnel Office, Johnny McEntee, to purge “bad people” who are not loyal to him. The latter report mentioned only political appointees, who serve at the pleasure of the president and can be dismissed at will, but Gidley’s comments this week appeared to go further.

“Time and time again we see in the media reports from people in the bowels of the federal government working against this president,” he said.
This is not going to end well.

26 February 2020

Adventures in Cowardice

ABC News, which has has been targeted by James O'Keefe's Veritas Project, has responded by complete capitulation.

Why our media sucks wet farts from dead pigeons:
ABC News suspended one of its veteran correspondents late Tuesday for unguarded remarks he made in a video by operatives of Project Veritas, the conservative group that records “undercover” footage of mainstream journalists to bolster its accusations of media bias.

The network disciplined David Wright, who reports for ABC’s signature news programs, including “World News Tonight,” “Good Morning America” and “Nightline,” several people confirmed late Tuesday.
He was venting at a bar, and he was venting about how ABC was more interested about eyeballs and ratings than it was about actual news.

Oh, the horror.

This is a Feature, Not a Bug

As a result of a new privacy law in California, many businesses have reduced the amount of data that they collect:
Last year, a major U.S. airline went looking for all the things it knew about its passengers. Among the details it had gathered, the company found, were consumers’ food preferences—information that seems innocuous but that could also reveal a passenger’s religious beliefs if they select a kosher or halal meal. So the airline decided to stop saving the food-preference information, according to Integris, the data privacy startup that helped the airline review its data practices. (Integris declined to name its client.)

Instead, the airline will ask passengers what they’d like to eat before every flight.

Recently, treasure hunts like this one have been taking place across industries and all around the country. Companies are mapping the data that they own, and some, like the airline, are proactively scrubbing sensitive information to avoid trouble.

When companies cut back on hoarding sensitive data, consumers win. Less of their private information is susceptible to data breaches and leaks, viewable by unscrupulous company insiders, or available to be sold to data brokers or advertisers.

This is a surprising turn: Data about consumers can be wildly lucrative—it fuels a $100 billion-plus digital-advertising industry, among other things—and companies generally like to gather as much of it as they can. But something changed this year. A new state law, the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, has turned data from an unadulterated asset into a potential liability.


The CCPA, in effect since Jan. 1, grants several new digital rights to Californians. They can now ask companies for a copy of the information the firms know about them, limit how that data is shared or sold, and demand that it’s deleted altogether.

Businesses also have to disclose new details about the personal information they gather and who they share it with.

Many companies have been setting up new tools to allow Californians to exercise these new rights, and some, such as Microsoft, have extended them to all their customers. But the law has had a second-order effect, too, that has an impact on almost every consumer: It has pushed some firms to slim down their troves of personal consumer data.

That’s because the CCPA’s new transparency requirements make it less attractive to hoover up everything there is to know about consumers. By gathering less, a company can avoid having to make damning disclosures about what kinds of data it keeps, and potentially turn privacy into a selling point.

Plus, companies can now get in legal trouble if they’re found to have not taken “reasonable” measures to safeguard particularly sensitive data such as Social Security numbers—a good reason to just get rid of that information if they don’t need it.

“That’s a huge incentive for companies not to collect those categories of information unless they absolutely need to,” says Ross, who co-authored the California ballot initiative that led to the CCPA. 
This is an unalloyed good, because privacy is an unalloyed good.

Sir, About F%$#ing Time, Sir

The Marine Corps Commandant, General David Berger, has issued an order banning Confederate symbols from all Corps installation:
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has ordered all Confederate-related paraphernalia to be removed from Marine Corps installations, his spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.


The document did not say when all of the Confederate-related paraphernalia needed to be removed by.

Berger’s spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose that the commandant had sent a directive to his senior staff ordering all installations to get rid of symbols of the Confederate States of America.
The adoration of people who tried to destroy the United States by some of the military needs to be nipped in the bud.

A Followup on the Debate

And the Award for Best use of a Breakfast Club Metaphor Goes To
First, I now have an explanation as to why some of the more ordinary statements about inequality and the like were booed by the debate crowd, it is likely that Bloomberg bought a significant portion of the tickets, because they cost in excess of $1,700:
Candidates on the debate stage were markedly rowdier on Tuesday — and they weren’t the only ones. Throughout the night, the audience seemingly was, too.

In moment after moment, including when Sen. Bernie Sanders pressed former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on the overwhelming support he receives from billionaires, the audience responded effusively with boos. Notably, in several instances, the reaction seemed to favor Bloomberg, who was once again confronted by multiple candidates over issues including “stop and frisk” and alleged sexist comments.

The apparent support for Bloomberg from the crowd raised questions about whether there was an outsized presence of his supporters in the audience, given the extensive cheers he seemed to garner at the event compared to the Nevada debate. Speculation on Twitter was only amplified by a local news article that went viral, which claimed tickets started at a whopping $1,750 to $3,200 for donors looking to sponsor a package of events, including the debate. An update was later published to indicate that these ticket options were removed from the Charleston County Democrats’ website.
This is actually kind of reassuring. My first take was that South Carolina Democrats were a bunch or retrograde morons.

Bribery and corruption actually sounds better.

My second take is that Buttigieg's sneering attack on 60's revolutionary politics was effectively an attack on the Stonewall riots:

A Morrisette Moment
After Sanders responded by calling for nuance in US views toward foreign leaders — and by tying his views on Cuba to former President Barack Obama’s stance on the country — Buttigieg argued against Sanders’s position and claimed it demonstrates why the senator is unfit to be the Democratic presidential nominee:
The only way you can [restore American credibility] is to actually win the presidency, and I am not looking forward to a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump with his nostalgia for the social order of the ’50s and Bernie Sanders with a nostalgia for the revolution politics of the ’60s. This is not about what coups were happening in the 1970s or 80s, this is about the future. This is about 2020.
(emphasis mine)

The, "Revolution politics of the ’60s," ended the Vietnam war, gave us civil rights, and was the genesis of the gay rights via among other things, the Stonewall Riots.

Buttigieg would never have served in the military, or married his husband without those pesky 60s revolutionaries.

Seriously, Mayor Mayo is a poster child for unconscious privilege.

Speaking of privilege,  Chris "Tweety" Matthews' grilling of Elizabeth Warren about her challenging Bloomberg on his treatment of women, because Matthews cannot imagine believing the woman, is one for the ages:
During the presidential debate in South Carolina on Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren used some of her speaking time to remind voters that former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg allegedly once told a pregnant employee of his to “kill it”—“it” as in the fetus. Longtime MSNBC host Chris Matthews was, by all indications, appalled by what he heard. But it wasn’t the part about Bloomberg’s alleged discrimination that seemed to disgust him—it was that Warren was making such a fuss about how she believed the woman was telling the truth.
Why does Tweety have a job?

25 February 2020

The Horror………(Debate Edition)

9:07 OK, I'm done. Time to pick up Nat.

9:06 Michael Bloomberg mentions the naked cowboy, a New York City institution.

9:05 Sanders notes that the profit motive is what drives hospitals out of rural areas.

9:04 Pete Buttigieg who systematically excluded blacks from political participation in South Bend, argues for more black political participation. Cognitive dissonance.

9:03 Klobuchar calls free public tuition as a give away to rich kids. F%$# her with Cheney's dick.

9:01 Steyer just said the truest thing of the evening, that every major policy issue in the United States has a subtext of race. Major Props.

9:00 Biden is asked about helping inequality on race, and he talks about entrepreneurship grants.

8:59 Michael Bloomberg is a self-important pompous ass.

8:57 Klobuchar talks about building coalitions on housing and education, and Charlie says that he wants to go into airplane mode, as in FLYING INTO A BUILDING.

8:56 F%$# me, they are now taking questions from Twitter. Just f%$#ing kill me.

8:55 Buttigieg notes that he is married to a school teacher.

8:54 Sanders largely echoes Warren on this.

8:53 Warren savages charter schools and high stakes testing. Probably got a few teacher votes there.

8:52 Bloomberg gives a full throated defense of charter schools, because of course he does, because Wall Street sees it as a profit center.

8:50 Steyer suggests term limits for Senate, excuse me while I vomit.

8:49 Sanders is just weak on gun control.

8:47 Buttigieg goes after Sanders for not opposing the filibuster. Mayo Pete is right. Kill the filibuster.

8:46 Klobuchar claims that she can get gun control because she is from Minnesota? Whiskey Tango Forxtrot?

8:45 Sanders asked about his votes against gun control, he notes that they were bad votes, and he was wrong. Best possible response.

8:44 Warren notes that the problem is the filibuster.

8:43 Biden claims that he beat the gun manufacturers, notes that there are 150 MILLION gun deaths since the passage of the Brady Bill. Maybe he means 150 thousand?

8:42 Gayle King and Nora O'Donnell are now joined by Margaret Brennan, Major Garrett, and Bill Whitaker.

8:40 OMFG!!!! There is a Mike Bloomberg add!!! Motherf%$#er!

8:38 Advertising break. Walmart ad, f%$# Walmart.

8:37 Warren notes (correctly) that the actual progressive agenda is overwhelmingly popular. Line of the night so far, "We have to choose hope over fear."

8:36 Bernie notes that he polls better against Trump than anyone else on stage.

8:35 Bloomberg: I may have funded Graham, but I also funded Democrats. Theme of the night for everyone but Warren is, "Bernie is dangerous."

8:34 Klobuchar speaks, and my son, Charlie, who does not drink, wants my rum. I want my rum.

8:33 Steyer notes that Biden wrote that awful crime bill in the 1990s.

8:31 Biden notes that Steyer bought a horrific private prison.

8:30 Buttigieg talks about how Sanders is a danger to the party.

8:29 Steyer claims that the current choices are a Democratic Socialist and a Republican.

8:28 Lots of cross talk. The moderators are losing control.

8:25 Klobuchar goes on Jihad against Medicare for All.

8:25 Sanders is asked about how to pay for Medicare for All, and Sanders notes that Lancet article that shows that Sanders saves $450 billion annually.

8:23 Bloomberg denies the baby story, Buttigieg notes that it's going to be litigated until election day.

8:22 Colloquy between Warran and Bloomberg, and Warren, and Warren again demands release from the non-disclosure agreements.

8:21 Now, Warren is telling the Bloomberg the "Kill the Baby," story.

8:19 Bloomberg's response, "A noun, a verb, and 911."

8:18 Warren is asked about why she said that Bloomberg is not the safe choice. Woo hoo!!!!!! She goes after how Bloomberg donated to Lindsey Graham and other right wingers. Bloomberg wincing. HAH!!!!

8:17 Klobuchar specifically says that Bloomberg's stop and frisk program was racist. She raises voter suppression. Good for her.

8:16 Buttigieg is asked about his dubious racial record, and he goes kumbuya. Meh.

8:15 Bloomberg is asked about stop and frisk, and he shucks and jives.

8:14 Props to CBS for only having 2 moderators on stage on at a time.

8:13 Biden says that he will win South Carolina.

8:12 Pete has a hissy fit over that. He's crying all the way to the wine cave.

8:11 Sanders states his support for the increase in the minimum wage, free college tuition, and Medicare for all. Then he calls out Buttigieg's sucking up to billionaires.

8:10 Joe Biden changes the subject, brings up the valid point that Sanders' record on gun control is weak, and wraps himself in the flag of Barack. Probably the best he can do.

8:08 Pete Buttigieg talks about how the real problem is divisiveness. I just realized that Mayor Mayo is a poster child for Backpfeifengesicht, a face that begs to be slapped.

8:07 Warren argues that she has achieved more success than Sanders. Respectful, and a good point.

8:05 Bloomberg suggests that Sanders is Putin's version of the Manchurian Candidate. I want a f%$#ing drink, so bad right now. He'll, I'm tempted to smoke crack after that.

8:04 They ask Sanders why, if the economy is so good, how can he argue for socialism. Big fat one up the middle for Sanders who rattles off how many people are not doing well.

8:03 CBS is partnering with Twitter, #DemDebates. I'll use #DeezeNuts.

8:02 The 7 candidates, Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar, Steyer, & Bloomberg.

8:00pm And the debates start the standard network fluff pretending that this is the Super Bowl. It's more like the Super Bowel.

I will attempt a limited live blogging of the Presidential debates.

I have to leave pick up my NJ from rehearsal at about 9 pm, so I can't drink, and obviously, I'll be unable to comment then, because I will be on the road.

I will be SOBER!

Damn your eyes.

In Preparation for the Debates, Here is a Medical Study

It's from The Lancet, and it shows that Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all plan more than pays for itself:
Although health care expenditure per capita is higher in the USA than in any other country, more than 37 million Americans do not have health insurance, and 41 million more have inadequate access to care. Efforts are ongoing to repeal the Affordable Care Act which would exacerbate health-care inequities. By contrast, a universal system, such as that proposed in the Medicare for All Act, has the potential to transform the availability and efficiency of American health-care services. Taking into account both the costs of coverage expansion and the savings that would be achieved through the Medicare for All Act, we calculate that a single-payer, universal health-care system is likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure, equivalent to more than US$450 billion annually (based on the value of the US$ in 2017). The entire system could be funded with less financial outlay than is incurred by employers and households paying for health-care premiums combined with existing government allocations. This shift to single-payer health care would provide the greatest relief to lower-income households. Furthermore, we estimate that ensuring health-care access for all Americans would save more than 68 000 lives and 1·73 million life-years every year compared with the status quo.
When they ask Sanders, "How will you pay for this?", his response, "How can you pay for not doing this?"

Live in Obedient, Fear, Citizen

The Indiana supreme court has ruled that removing a GPS tracking device from your car is not theft, and hence cannot be used to get a warrant.

I'm not surprised that a cop would make this argument, but I am surprised that a lower court judge would accept this:
An Indiana man may beat a drug prosecution after the state's highest court threw out a search warrant against him late last week. The search warrant was based on the idea that the man had "stolen" a GPS tracking device belonging to the government. But Indiana's Supreme Court concluded that he'd done no such thing—and the cops should have known it.

Last November, we wrote about the case of Derek Heuring, an Indiana man the Warrick County Sheriff's Office suspected of selling meth. Authorities got a warrant to put a GPS tracker on Heuring's car, getting a stream of data on his location for six days. But then the data stopped.

Officers suspected Heuring had discovered and removed the tracking device. After waiting for a few more days, they got a warrant to search his home and a barn belonging to his father. They argued the disappearance of the tracking device was evidence that Heuring had stolen it.

During their search, police found the tracking device and some methamphetamine. They charged Heuring with drug-related crimes as well as theft of the GPS device.

But at trial, Heuring's lawyers argued that the warrant to search the home and barn had been illegal. An application for a search warrant must provide probable cause to believe a crime was committed. But removing a small, unmarked object from your personal vehicle is no crime at all, Heuring's lawyers argued. Heuring had no way of knowing what the device was or who it belonged to—and certainly no obligation to leave the device on his vehicle.

An Indiana appeals court ruled against Heuring last year. But Indiana's Supreme Court seemed more sympathetic to Heuring's case during oral arguments last November.


Last Thursday, Indiana's highest court made it official, ruling that the search warrant that allowed police to recover Heuring's meth was illegal. The police had no more than a hunch that Heuring had removed the device, the court said, and that wasn't enough to get a search warrant.
This is yet another example of why you can never depend on the local constabulary to protect your civil rights.

24 February 2020

From the Department of "About F%$#ing Time"

There is a bill in California which would tax companies with overpaid CEOs:
In response to growing income inequality, some California lawmakers are looking at the possibility of tying tax rates for corporations to the gap between how much they pay their CEOs and what their average employees take home. That’s the idea behind state Senate Bill 37, legislation first introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) in December 2018.

Currently, California taxes corporations at a rate of 8.84 percent, and financial institutions at a rate of 10.84 percent. Under SB 37, corporations making over $10 million annually would be subject to a tax rate between 10.84 and 14.84 percent (12.84 and 16.84 percent for financial institutions), depending on the ratio of their CEO salaries to average worker wages. Companies with a ratio of more than 300 to one would pay the highest rate. SB 37 would also increase these tax rates for companies outsourcing to independent contractors or workers in foreign companies.

Revenue generated by the law would go to educational and early childhood programs. “The goal of SB 37 is to shrink income inequality,” said Sen. Skinner in a January 2020 hearing, adding, “The design of SB 37 … recognizes that reliance on state services increases when corporations underpay their workers.”
Personally, I'd just start levying a payroll tax on companies for a salary over $400,000.00 (The Salary of the President of the United States), but I'll take what I can get.

WSJ Editorial Page Draws Blood

Unfortunately, the worst OP/ED page in the United States drawn blood from their own reporters, as reported by the Washington Post*:
The Wall Street Journal’s China staff is urging the newspaper to apologize for a headline that prompted the Chinese government to expel three of its journalists last week.

The email from the Journal’s China bureau to the top officers of the paper’s parent companies, in effect, sides with the Chinese, who have demanded an apology and retaliated with the expulsions last week.

The headline in question — “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia” — appeared on an opinion column written by academic and foreign affairs specialist Walter Russell Mead in the Journal on Feb. 3. The column was a commentary on the health of China’s financial markets, rather than a reference to the coronavirus outbreak there.

Chinese officials and ordinary citizens have protested that “sick man” is a racist phrase once used by Westerners to denigrate China during and immediately after the era in which colonial powers dominated and exploited the nation.
This was egregious enough that Mr. Mead disavowed the headline to his own article:
Mr. Mead, the writer of the op-ed, suggested in a Twitter post on Feb. 8 that he was opposed to the headline, writing, “Argue with the writer about the article content, with the editors about the headlines.” He declined to comment for this article.
I don't think that the WSJ can fix this problem, though its editorials are routinely called out as false by the front page of the WSJ.

Unfortunately, dishonest, hypocritical, and (quite frankly) insane editorials from the Journal have been baked into its DNA since well before Rupert Murdoch took over the paper

*Ironically, the Washington Post OPO/ED page is the 2nd worst editorial page among the major papers.

Fredrick Samuel Hiatt, Would You Please Go Now?

Normally, I'd suggest that the most batsh%$ insane bit of punditry over the past week or so would be Chris Matthews likening Bernie Sanders' victory in the Nevada caucus to the Nazi defeat of France in 1940.

This week, I'd be wrong, because Washington Post editorial editor Fred Hiatt just penned an article stating that Bernie Sanders is the real climate change denier because he isn't listening to the opinions of oil company executives:

Unfortunately, there is no magic wand to make such things happen, as Patrick Pouyanné told me last week. Pouyanné is one of those people whose hatred Sanders might welcome; he is chairman and chief executive of Paris-based Total, one of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies.
As Dan Froomkin pithily notes,(Cleaned up from a Twitter post) "The author of this piece, Fred Hiatt, runs the Washington Post’s opinion side. And as I have long argued, he has done more damage to the Post brand than anyone since Janet Cooke."


Guilty, Guilty, Guilty

Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of sexual assault in a New York court Monday, the first conviction to emerge from the dozens of misconduct allegations against the once-powerful movie producer.

The jury determined that Weinstein forced oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in July 2006 and raped former aspiring actress Jessica Mann at a hotel in 2013.

He was found not guilty of the most severe charges, of predatory sexual assault, which would have acknowledged a pattern that included forcing sex on actress Annabella Sciorra in 1993 or 1994.

Weinstein, 67, faces at least five years and up to 25 on the count of first-degree criminal sex act for his assault on Haleyi, and up to four years on a third-degree rape count for the Mann encounter. The judge can consider running the sentences consecutively, for a maximum of 29 years. Sentencing is scheduled for March 11.
Here's hoping that he never sees the outside of stir again.

23 February 2020

Bernie's Houses

One of the criticisms of Bernie Sanders is that he has 3 homes, his primary residence, his DC residence, and a vacation home, and that this is excessive for a self-proclaimed socialist.

The three houses combined have a value that is a rounding error for the homes of Obama, Clinton, or Biden, as this TikTok video shows:


The US Navy publicly wants to expand its fleet to 350 ships, but the Littoral Combat Ship program is such a clusterf%$# that they are looking at retiring the first 4 ships of the class, despite the fact that they are only 6 years old:
The US Navy is looking to retire the first of four littoral combat ships, despite being just over half a decade old.

Despite a push to reach 335 ships by 2030, the Navy is seemingly more than happy to ditch its LCS fleet, even though many of the ships have at least one to two decades of life left in them.

The ships are non-deployable and have been since they were initiated in the early 2000s. Since their inception, they have been plagued with developmental woes and quality control issues.

The Navy is currently looking to retire two LCSs from the Freedom class, as well as two from the Independence. Of these ships, the youngest is the USS Coronado, which is less than six years of age.

While a revolutionary concept surrounding the ability for a “modular” ship to fulfill many missions, the LCS program proved too much to juggle, particularly with expanding roles and design specs that kept changing.
The LCS has always been ill-conceived, undermanned, fragile, and undergunned.

It's core feature was supposed to be swappable combat modules, but they never worked, and could never have worked overseas because of security issues.

Why a few dozen general officers have not been fired over this is beyond me.

More Boeing Bad News

This is aircraft manufacturing 101, don't leave garbage in the aircraft, and Boeing cannot do this:
Boeing Co. has found debris inside the fuel tanks of about two-thirds of undelivered 737 MAX jets inspected so far, according to federal and aviation-industry officials, indicating a bigger production-related problem than the company previously suggested.


While Boeing disclosed the debris problem publicly earlier this week, the latest details shed more light on the scale of the issue. Industry officials said Boeing has so far inspected about 50 of roughly 400 MAX planes awaiting delivery once regulators allow the jet back in the air. Materials left behind include tools, rags and boot coverings, according to industry officials familiar with the details.


On Friday, the Boeing spokesman said inspections first found the fuel-tank debris in late November and immediately notified the Federal Aviation Administration. He said the manufacturer has added safeguards to prevent workers from leaving materials inside fuel tanks at its 737 factory in Renton, Wash., and beefed up efforts across the company.


The inspections have raised red flags, some of the officials said, because Boeing’s commercial-airplane unit traditionally has been recognized as a leader in devising systems to combat such production lapses. All tools used inside aircraft are supposed to be logged and tagged, with employees double-checking each other to verify each piece of equipment is removed. The Boeing spokesman said the company has ramped up such checks to prevent future problems.
Boeing has become a hedge fund that makes aircraft, and hedge funds do not build aircraft well.

22 February 2020

Bernie Crushes it in Nevada

Sanders has been declared the decisive winner of the Nevada caucus, getting nearly half of the caucus votes, and scoring more than double of his nearest competitor, Joe Biden.

Needless to say, someone at MSNBC will call this a potential disaster.

(Performs quick Google)

Yep, Tweety delivers.

Chris Matthews compares the Sanders victory to the Nazi invasion of France.

What the f%$# is wrong with these people?

This is Will Never Save Money

Will Roper, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, wants to restructure the cost profile of the next US fighters to front load the costs, on the theory that this will save money down the road through Silicon Valley style "Distruption."

Well, that just pegged my bullsh%$ meter:
The U.S. Air Force’s acquisition chief said Feb. 18 that he expects a congressional backlash over how a recent revamp of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) procurement strategy could drive up the average procurement unit cost (APUC) of a sixth-generation fighter.

But the Air Force remains committed to an acquisition strategy for an F-22 replacement that accepts higher upfront costs in order to save money during the sustainment phase of the program, said Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force, speaking during an “Ask Me Anything” webinar for the service’s acquisition workforce. The Pentagon calculates APUC by dividing total procurement costs, including recurring and nonrecurring bills, by the number of units purchased.


But Roper, who was appointed in 2017, said in early 2019 that the strategy had changed. The details of the highly secretive NGAD program are murky, but Roper has compared the new acquisition strategy to the business model for the Apple iPhone. Apple does not sustain the iPhone beyond a few years, so it makes profits by charging a premium on the design at the point of sale. Although the upfront cost is higher, Apple’s business model incentivizes an external community of software developers to create applications for the iPhone at little to no cost.

Roper wants to apply a similar philosophy to the development of the next generation of combat aircraft. He wants traditional defense prime contractors to transition away from a sustainment model for profits and incentivize them to focus on design by offering them a premium.
An iPhone has a life of about 3 years., and with the exception of electricity to keep it charged, it has a sustainment cost of $0.00.

A fighter aircraft is a completely different life cycle.

This is a particularly disastrous form of bullsh%$ bingo.

Not Just Brooklyn, the Bronx Too

The latest diss of Bernie Sanders is that he shouts too much.

This is complete bullsh%$.

He is just talking like a New York Jew:
Sen. Bernie Sanders opened Tuesday night’s debate with an impassioned response to a question about one of his signature policy planks: Medicare for all.

“Right now we have a dysfunctional healthcare system [with] 500,000 Americans every year going bankrupt,” he said, his voice growing louder with each word. Sanders spoke emphatically of the injustice in forcing patients to face both their health issues and outrageous hospital bills.

After the debate, a pattern emerged: The Brooklyn-born candidate was too angry, too loud, too passionate. CNN’s S.E. Cupp tweeted, “How is Bernie Sanders already this angry, and it's just his opening statement.” Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also mocked Sanders for being “angry.” And, shortly after the debate—during which Democratic candidate Rep. Tim Ryan quipped to Sanders, “You don't have to yell” during a fossil fuel debate—his campaign started selling stickers that read, “You don't have to yell. Tim Ryan 2020.”

As the pundits weighed in, some Jewish Americans pointed out that the way Sanders speaks is just how a lot of Jewish people, particularly those from Brooklyn, speak. Some said that perceiving his speech patterns as inherently angry or abrasive was ignorant at best and anti-Semitic at worst. Following the debate, many American Jews voiced their disappointment over critiques against Sanders’s speech patterns: 
Yeah pretty much.

On my mom's side, from the Bronx, a lot of them talk like Bernie.

On my dad's side, Los Angeles and San Francisco, not so much.

It's Not the Money Asymmetry, It's the Power Asymmetry

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez notes what should be obvious, that the problem with inequality in our society is not the money, it's the power:
On Monday morning, Jeff Bezos announced the creation of a new $10 billion environmental foundation, the Bezos Earth Fund. This is on top of the $2 billion he already committed to the Bezos Family Foundation to build preschools and fight homelessness.

The combined sum might be a fraction of his net worth, and Bezos might have a history of standing in the way of political efforts to address some of the same problems he seeks to address with his charity. Even so, many would argue that his efforts are still praiseworthy.

In a Martin Luther King Jr Day discussion with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued for a very different perspective. If Jeff Bezos “wants to be a good person,” she said, he should “turn Amazon into a worker cooperative.” She argued that our primary message to billionaires shouldn’t be that we want to redistribute their money. Instead, it should be that “we want their power.”

In making this distinction, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez was giving voice to an idea with deep roots in socialist thought — that the unequal distribution of wealth is just a symptom of the deeper problem of the unequal distribution of economic power.
Inequality is a self-reinforcing phenomenon.

As inequality increases, the powerful are increasingly in the position of stacking the deck in their own favor.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

21 February 2020

Tweet of the Day

Now THAT is some world class snark.

I Am Not Cynical Enough

Yes, what you see below is Trump and his evil minions claiming that lower drug prices made the opioid prices worse.

What the actual f%$#?

Quote of the Day

If Bloomberg can’t handle being asked by Warren how many NDAs he’s had signed, just imagine when Trump offers him a box to stand on and asks him how it feels to have to spend $4 million per friend.
Matt Taibbi
 Tru dat.  At least Trump knows how to attack back.

And the Supreme Court Will Probably Buy this Bullsh%$

The right wingers at the Supreme Court have for years used the first amendment to shut down common sense regulation of predatory businesses.

My prediction is that they will do this again, and say that the first amendment protects ISP's rights to resell your browser history:
The US state of Maine is violating internet broadband providers' free speech by forcing them to ask for their customers’ permission to sell their browser history, according to a new lawsuit.


ACA Connects, CTIA, NCTA and USTelecom are collectively suing [PDF] Maine’s attorney general Aaron Frey, and the chair and commissioners of Maine’s Public Utilities Commission claiming that the statute, passed in June 2019, “imposes unprecedented and unduly burdensome restrictions on ISPs’, and only ISPs’, protected speech.”

How so? Because it includes “restrictions on how ISPs communicate with their own customers that are not remotely tailored to protecting consumer privacy.” The lawsuit even explains that there is a “proper way to protect consumer privacy” - and that’s the way the FCC does it, through “technology-neutral, uniform regulation.” Although that regulation is actually the lack of regulation.

If you’re still having a hard time understanding how requiring companies to get their customers’ permission before they sell their personal data infringes the First Amendment, the lawsuit has more details.

It “(1) requires ISPs to secure ‘opt-in’ consent from their customers before using information that is not sensitive in nature or even personally identifying; (2) imposes an opt-out consent obligation on using data that are by definition not customer personal information; (3) limits ISPs from advertising or marketing non-communications-related services to their customers; and (4) prohibits ISPs from offering price discounts, rewards in loyalty programs, or other cost saving benefits in exchange for a customer’s consent to use their personal information.”

All of this results in an “excessive burden” on ISPs, they claim, especially because not everyone else had to do the same. The new statute includes “no restrictions at all on the use, disclosure, or sale of customer personal information, whether sensitive or not, by the many other entities in the Internet ecosystem or traditional brick-and-mortar retailers,” the lawsuit complains.
Listen, I think that we should get some stakes, honey, and a few anthills of REALLY pissed off ants, and have a heart to heart with the senior executives of ACA Connects, CTIA, NCTA and USTelecom.

Perhaps we should bring in their lawyers for a consult as well.

20 February 2020

Oh the Huge Manatee!

The EU is going to black the Cayman Islands as a money laundering nation.

This will be a big problem for the folks working in the City of London, since a big part of their business is tax evasion and money laundering through former British colonies:
The Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory, is to be put on an EU blacklist of tax havens, less than two weeks after the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc.


The EU’s blacklist is an attempt to clamp down on the estimated £506bn lost to aggressive tax avoidance every year but member states are not “screened” in the process of drawing up the blacklist.

Territories linked to member states have also avoided the blacklist and the UK had heavily lobbied to protect its overseas territories from such scrutiny in the past.

On Wednesday, EU ambassadors judged that the islands in the western Caribbean Sea are not effectively cooperating with Brussels on financial transparency, the Financial Times reported.

The Cayman Islands will join Fiji, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu and the three US territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands, on the “non-cooperative” list.
For the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, think of the poor bankers, who will have to find productive work.

The horror ………

A Feature, Not a Bug

We are now seeing indications that the 2020 census, which will go digital and online, is likely to crash and burn like the Iowa caucuses or the roll out of Obamacare.

I would argue that the failure of the census will not be a cluster-f%$# (incompetence) but a rat-f%$# (deliberate sabotage).

If the process descends into failure, it gives corrupt individuals the opportunity to manipulate the date for partisan political advantage.

The Republicans have been trying rat-f%$# the census for decades:
The stakes are high when a major civic exercise involves a large population, new technology that has not been thoroughly tested and an entire country waiting on the results.

Just ask the organizers of the Iowa caucuses, which offered a cautionary tale on the technological woes that could befall a big political event. Some observers worry that this year's census carries the same potential for mayhem — except on an infinitely larger scale.

The U.S. Census Bureau plans to try out a lot of new technology. It's the first once-a-decade census in which most people are being encouraged to answer questions via the internet. Later in the process, census workers who knock on the doors of homes that have not responded will use smartphones and a new mobile app to relay answers.

A government watchdog agency, the Census Bureau's inspector general and some lawmakers have grown concerned about whether the systems are ready for prime time. Most U.S. residents can start answering the questionnaire in March.

“I must tell you, the Iowa (caucus) debacle comes to mind when I think of the census going digital," Eleanor Holmes Norton, the congressional delegate for the District of Columbia, said this week at a hearing on the census.

Cybersecurity is another worry. Experts consider the census to be an attractive target for anyone seeking to sow chaos and undermine confidence in the U.S. government, as Russia did in the 2016 presidential election.

In a worst-case scenario, vital records could be deleted or polluted with junk data. Even a lesser assault that interfered with online data collection could erode public confidence. In 2016, a denial-of-service attack knocked Australia’s online census offline, flooding it with junk data.
Why am I thinking that there might be a Republican operative who is thinking about passing access codes to the GRU?

About F%$#ing Time

Kickstarter employees have voted to unionize.

You know, foosball tables and good food in the cafeteria does not excuse management from treating people badly.

Unionization is the only logical response:
Kickstarter employees voted to form a union with the Office and Professional Employees International Union, which represents more than 100,000 white collar workers. The final vote was 46 for the union, 37 against, a historic win for unionization efforts at tech companies.

Kickstarter workers are now the first white collar workers at a major tech company to successfully unionize in the United States, sending a message to other tech workers.


“I feel like the most important issues [for us] are around creating clearer policies and support for reporting workplace issues and creating clearer mechanisms for hiring and firing employees,” said RV Dougherty, a former trust and safety analyst and core organizer for Kickstarter United who quit in early February. "Right now so much depends on what team you’re on and if you have a good relationship with your manager... We also have a lot of pay disparity and folks who are doing incredible jobs but have been kept from getting promoted because they spoke their mind, which is not how Kickstarter should work.”

In the days leading up to Kickstarter vote count, Motherboard revealed that Kickstarter hired Duane Morris, a Philadelphia law firm that specializes in labor management relations and “maintaining a union-free workplace.” Kickstarter confirmed to Motherboard that it first retained the services of Duane Morris in 2018 before it knew about union organizing at the company, but would not go into detail about whether the firm had advised the company on how to defeat the union and denied any union-busting activity.


But in 2018, a heated disagreement broke out between employees and management about whether to leave a project called “Always Punch Nazis” on the platform, according to reporting in Slate. When Breitbart said the project violated Kickstarter’s terms of service by inciting violence, management initially planned to remove the project, but then reversed its decision after protest from employees.

Following the controversy, employees announced their intentions to unionize with OPEIU Local 153 in March 2019. And the company made it clear that it did not believe a union was right for Kickstarter.

In a letter to creators, Kickstarter’s CEO Aziz Hasan wrote in September that “The union framework is inherently adversarial.”
Yes, it;s inherently adversarial for there to be checks and balances on your behavior, Azis.

How about you have a nice cup of ……… Well, you know.

It's Called Playing the Refs

The Washington Post has an article describing how right-wingers have taken control of Facebook's anti-fake news efforts.

Basically, it's the same game plan that they have been doing for years with the old press.
  • Claim bias.
  • Coordinate claims.
  • Get Republican politicians to threaten the media organizations.
Rinse, lather, repeat:
Facebook created “Project P” — for propaganda — in the hectic weeks after the 2016 presidential election and quickly found dozens of pages that had peddled false news reports ahead of Donald Trump’s surprise victory. Nearly all were based overseas, had financial motives and displayed a clear rightward bent.

In a world of perfect neutrality, which Facebook espouses as its goal, the political tilt of the pages shouldn’t have mattered. But in a videoconference between Facebook’s Washington office and its Silicon Valley headquarters in December 2016, the company’s most senior Republican, Joel Kaplan, voiced concerns that would become familiar to those within the company.

“We can’t remove all of it because it will disproportionately affect conservatives,” said Kaplan, a former George W. Bush White House official and now the head of Facebook’s Washington office, according to people familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect professional relationships.


The debate over “Project P,” which resulted in a few of the worst pages quickly being removed while most others remained on the platform, exemplified the political dynamics that have reigned within Facebook since Trump emerged as the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee to the White House in 2016. A company led mainly by Democrats in the liberal bastion of Northern California repeatedly has tilted rightward to deliver policies, hiring decisions and public gestures sought by Republicans, according to current and former employees and others who have worked closely with the company.
It's easy to define media frauds, and because, as Stephen Colbert so eloquently noted, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias," it means that conservative favored stories are more likely to be false.

Republicans are arguing against impartial standards because they are demanding equality of outcomes, which, unsurprisingly is one of their main complaints about liberals.

F%$# them with Cheney's dick.

Best Post Debate Meme Evah!

DC posted this at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

This is unbelievably f%$#ing brilliant.

19 February 2020

Dr. Evil Would Get This

Roll Tape!
Facebook has now announced that Russian provocateurs spent as much as $100,000.00 on political ads in 2016.
Seriously?  In a campaign where both sides spent billions, this is beneath the level of chump change:
Providing new evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Facebook disclosed on Wednesday that it had identified more than $100,000 worth of divisive ads on hot-button issues purchased by a shadowy Russian company linked to the Kremlin.

Most of the 3,000 ads did not refer to particular candidates but instead focused on divisive social issues such as race, gay rights, gun control and immigration, according to a post on Facebook by Alex Stamos, the company’s chief security officer. The ads, which ran between June 2015 and May 2017, were linked to some 470 fake accounts and pages the company said it had shut down.

Facebook officials said the fake accounts were created by a Russian company called the Internet Research Agency, which is known for using “troll” accounts to post on social media and comment on news websites.

The disclosure adds to the evidence of the broad scope of the Russian influence campaign, which American intelligence agencies concluded was designed to damage Hillary Clinton and boost Donald J. Trump during the election. Multiple investigations of the Russian meddling, and the possibility that the Trump campaign somehow colluded with Russia, have cast a shadow over the first eight months of Mr. Trump’s presidency.
I'm wondering if the incompetent Hillary Clinton campaign might have played a bigger role in this clusterf%$# than any potential foreign interference.

Of course, that conclusion would mean that any number of incompetent political consultants would have to find honest work, and as we know, the motto of the Democratic party is, "We gotta protect our phony baloney jobs."

Drunk/Live Blogging the Democratic Debates

11:00 On to the Daily Show. (Or not, it appears that they are running reruns of of South Park)
10:57 Sanders goes back to being Sanders in his closing statement. Sanders implacable positions are his strong point. Even of they disagree, voters liek consistency.

10:57 Someone is heckling Joe Biden. I cannot understand what they are saying.

10:53 We have the candidates recite memorized statements. Meh.

10:52 Closing statements.

10:49 Advertisement break. I am completely sh%$ faced.

10:48 Chuck Todd asks about brokered convention. Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? MRDA.

10:46 Klobuchar is pissed off at Buttigieg. So am I.

10:43 Buttigieg notes that Klubuchar was the Democrat most likely to support Trump judges. That will leave a mark.

10:42 Klobuchar invokes 99 year old Hispanic veteran. Pander much?

10:40 This is clearly the most contentious debate so far.

10:33 Another ad break.

10:29 Warren may have had the line of the night, "We cannot be friends with Mitch McConnell." It is a winning line.

10:29 Biden has clearly decided to go after Bloomberg's wealth. It's a good tactic,

10:27 Sanders is accused of being a socialist. Take a drink. Sanders notes that the rich get plenty of socialism.

10:22 I am completely sh%$ faced.

10:21 Buttigieg invokes that he is not a millionaire. AGAIN Take a drink.

10:21 The fact that the candidates have to f%$#ing raise their f%$#ing hands to get recognized if f%$#ed up and sh%$.

10:18 Bernie Sanders notes that Billionaires pay less in taxes than their secretaries, and Bloomberg takes umbrage, despite the fact that his lobbying led to this.

10:14 Vanessa Hauc asks about how rolling back Trump's give away to mega corps and billionaires will somehow or other hamper small businesses. What the f%$# is wrong with you?

10:11 Mayor Mayo is claiming that the problem is the two most polarizing people on the state (Sanders and Bloomberg). This is the least inspiring chant of Kumbaya ever.

10:09 Biden calls for prosecuting polluting executives. I don't believe him, but this is a good talking point.

10:04 Sanders is challenged on his call for a fracking ban, and he comes right back to the questioner, saying that anthropogenic climate change is a moral issue and a crisis, and there can be no compromise. This is actually playing to Sanders' strength, because he gets to show how he is not going to kowtow to lobbyist.

10:02 Warren is challenged about her call to end drilling and mining on public lands.

10:00 Bloomberg calls for rejoining the Paris agreement.

9:59 Climate change is the next subject. Biden is asked first, and his response is largely word salad. Take a drink.

9:57 Captain Morgan's rum is like drinking perfume.

9:56 No insurance funded anti-M4A ads. I am surprised.

9:53 Ad break, and I am drunk.

9:52 Biden is now begging to have some questions thrown his way. Take a drink.

9:50 Klobuchar calls Buttigieg a loser. (His disastrous Indiana Secretary of State campaign) Hah!!!! Drink.

9:48 Calling out Klobuchar not being able to recall the President of Mexico is bullshit, and I HATE Klobuchar.

9:47 Sanders notes that Bloomberg wanted to cut social security and ACTIVELY CAMPAIGNED for Bush in 2004. Good point.

9:45 Biden notes that Bloomberg could release them this moment. Nice hit.

9:42 Oh, snap. Warren's response, "Bloomberg's defense is that I've been nice to SOME women." Calls for Bloomberg to release the women from the non disclosure agreement. Blood drawn, and Bloomberg is sounding awfully snippy.

9:39 Bloomberg is challenged on his refusal to release his tax returns. His response is, "We're working on it, but it will take a while, until after most of the delegates are allocated." Asshole. Take a drink.

9:35 The shot at Bernie on his health status. What Sanders has released is a detailed description of health status.

9:33 Klobuchar is confronted on her refusal to investigate police misconduct and the case of of a highly dubious conviction. She shucked and jived on this.

9:31 Warren notes that "Stop and Frisk" was intended to terrorize peoples of color, and that Bloomberg's apology was profoundly insincere/

9:29 Bloomberg is still defending, "Stop and Frisk." He claims that he stopped it when it got out of hand. HE DID NOT. As Biden notes, Bloomberg was FORCED to abandon the policy, he fought dropping the policy tooth and nail. Point Biden.

9:26 Biden notes that Bloomberg called Obamacare a "Disgrace". Good point, but Biden is largely invisible.

9:26 Warren went after Klobuchar's plan, and notes that it constitutes only 2 paragraphs.

9:24 Sanders notes that we are the only industrialized nation that does not have public health system. Drink.

9:22 Klobuchar's claiming Post-It Notes for Spain Minnesota is kind of amusing.

9:19 Warren (IMHO correctly) accuses of Buttigieg and Klobuchar of having phony healthcare plans, sand makes the point that take the wins and move forward. (Not unreasonable) I like her description of Klobuchar's plan as a "Post-It Note".

9:16 Amy Klobuchar claims that nominating a woman will end misogyny on the internet, because that worked so well in 2016. That level of stupid is worth a double.

9:14 Buttigieg accuses Bernie of fomenting nastiness on the internet. Seriously? Twitter is a f%$#ing cesspool, and the "Bernie Bros" is a fraud.

9:11 Colloquy between Sanders and Buttigieg, and Buttigieg restates Bloomberg's republican talking
points about Medicare for All.  Take a drink.

9:09: Buttigieg makes the point that Bloomberg is not a a real Democrat.  Touche.

9:07: Biden says that he polls best, so he should be the nominee.  Meh.

9:05: Klobuchar piles on too, goes with her, "I'm the only heartland-American here," schtick.  Drink.

9:02: First question, to Sanders, "Why won't Bloomberg be the moderate who can beat Trump?

Sanders response, "You need turnout, and Mayor Stop and Frisk won't drive turnout."

Bloomberg, "Medicare for all, is taking people's insurance away."  Bullsh%$.''

Warren unloads a can of whup ass, and notes that Boomberg has said a lot of Trumpesque misogynist sh%$.  Take a drink.

9:00: Introductions. 

8:59:  I am doing rum (Captain Morgan's) and coke.

I am liveblogging/drunkblogging the debates again, and this time,I will be using a slightly modified version of Matt Taibbi's drinking game.

18 February 2020

End Stage Capitalism

Aside from pockets of overt racism, one of the more weirdly unpleasant corners of Twitter comes from its “promoted” content. What ostensibly started as a tool for big-name brands to drive the “reach” and “impact” of whatever message they might be promoting, it’s since devolved into another kind of marketing tool that’s just kind of.... weird. Not weird in the tracking-you-everywhere-you-go kind of way, but weird, in the just plain weird way.

Not unlike the bonkers hallucinations reported by patients on death’s door, the spammy, click-baity, and sometimes downright disturbing promoted tweets cropping up onto people’s feeds are symptomatic of Twitter’s own ad platform rotting from the inside out.

Here’s a recent example: This week, freelance journalist Tyler Coates apparently had a grisly promo for an organ-buying service crop up onto his feed.

There is something profoundly broken in our economic system.

In Other Unsurprising News

This has been known for over 80 years.  It's why New York introduced the medallion system in 1937:
Five years ago, Travis Kalanick was so confident that Uber Technologies Inc.’s rides would prompt people to leave their cars at home that he told a tech conference: “If every car in San Francisco was Ubered there would be no traffic.”

Today, a mounting collection of studies shows the opposite: Far from easing traffic, Uber and its main rival Lyft Inc. are adding to congestion in numerous U.S. downtowns.

Officials in San Francisco, Chicago and New York have cited congestion as the main rationale for new fees they recently enacted on Lyft and Uber rides in each of the cities. Other regulators around the country are considering similar fees. Uber and Lyft no longer pledge ride-hailing will reduce traffic, acknowledging that they add to congestion, though they say some studies overstate their role in the problem.

The app makers initially thought their technology would create seamless trips, with four strangers forsaking their own cars for a shared ride. Cutting-edge algorithms, they believed, would steer behavior through pricing and route-matching, letting drivers spend little time between trips. Riders leaving their cars at home would then increasingly hop on buses, bikes or walk in a gridlock-easing ripple effect.
Seriously, the ability of charlatans to take a pile of crap and give it a shine by calling it disruption.

Unsurprising News Out of Germany

And better yet, it does not involve the rise of fascism in the country.

A study in Germany has shown that the inclusion of a private option in parallel with public health insurance raises costs for everyone:
German residents would save an average of €145 ($157) per year on health insurance costs if the privately insured paid into one statutory health insurance system, according to a study published on Monday by the IGES Institut in Berlin.

Privately insured people living in Germany — top earners, public officials and high-income self-employed workers — earn on average 56% more than publicly insured people, the survey found. The study, commissioned by the German non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation, estimates that the public health insurance system would have between €8.7 billion and €10.6 billion of added revenue if the privately insured paid into it.

Even if the fee losses incurred by doctors as a result of the abolition of private health insurance were compensated, the study said, each insured German resident would save an average of €48 annually.

The study based its estimates on the 2016 data, the most recent data available, from an annual survey of around 12,000 households. In 2016, around 8.8 million German residents were privately insured, a similar total to now, while 70.4 million had the statutory health insurance system — that figure currently sits at 73.2 million.
Private for profit insurance makes healthcare better exactly never.