05 May 2021

I am Gobsmacked

But in a good way.

In a moved that surprised me the Biden administration has announced that it favors waiving Covie vaccine patents

I had hoped that they would eventually do this, but I expected that there would be 6 months of denials and alibis until the moral outrage forced them to take this move.

Happy to be wrong:

The Biden administration on Wednesday threw its support behind a controversial proposal to waive intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines, with liberals framing it as a necessary bid to speed the shots to billions in the developing world, while the drug industry warned of devastating effects to vaccine production.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the United States will now move forward with international discussions to waive the protections for the duration of the pandemic. U.S. officials helped block a World Trade Organization proposal that was introduced last year to stop enforcing patents for coronavirus-related medical products. Dozens of developing countries have pushed for the proposal, arguing that it would allow them to rapidly produce their own generic vaccines, rather than wait months or years for sufficient doses.

………

The decision to go forward with the waiver after weeks of internal deliberations was finalized at a White House meeting on Tuesday with President Biden, said senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the deliberations. Staff at the meeting included Tai, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients, and Bruce Reed, deputy chief of staff for policy, all of whom supported the decision. But Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who had concerns about the waiver, was not included in the meeting, the people said. The Commerce Department declined to comment.

Of course Gina Raimondo wasn't involved.  She's a complete corporate stooge, and she would always take the side of whoever is closest to Wall Street, much as she self-dealt to herself and her Wall Street buddies as Governor of Rhode Island.

………

Administration officials have acknowledged their uncertainty about whether the waiver will actually speed up production of coronavirus vaccines across the world. The mRNA vaccines, made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, require special technology that most countries do not have access to, raising questions about which countries will actually have the technological capacity to manufacture the complicated vaccines.

The reporter clearly doesn't know the technology, as Corey Docterow observes, mRNA vaccines can pack most a whole vaccine factory in the space of a closet

So, is it a lie? MRNA vaccines are super-new tech. Maybe their manufacture is so esoteric that only the richest, most powerful countries can make them?

Nope.

“Rapid development and deployment of high‐volume vaccines for pandemic response” (DOI: 10.1002.amp2.10060) is an open access, peer-reviewed paper in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Journal of Advanced Manufacturing and Processing:

https://aiche.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/amp2.10060

Its co-authors are an interdisciplinary team of chemical engineers, infectious disease specialists and vaccine specialists from Imperial College London and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

The authors aren’t specifically addressing themselves to the question of global development of mRNA vaccine production, but are instead concerned with any kind of generic rampup in production — either in response to a new virus, or because of an mRNA-based vaccine breakthrough for an existing virus. They reason that any kind of annual covid shot will occupy the majority of existing mRNA vaccine production facilities, so any new global vaccination project will require that new production sites be built.

 ………

I know, I just blockquoted all of that, so it would be redundant to bullet it below, but JESUS F%$#ING HOLY GODDAMNED SH%$BALLS, does this ever bear repeating:

  • New facilities will be 99–99.9% smaller than conventional vaccine facilities
  • They will be 95–99.7% cheaper than conventional vaccine facilities
  • You could use a single room in a conventional vaccine factory to make more vaccine doses of mRNA vaccines than the entire output of the rest of the factory
  • New vaccines can be made 1,000% faster than previous vaccines

There’s more, like the fact that you only need part of the facility to be a high-spec clean-room, and the rest can be built on more conventional lines.

For $20m, they say they can build a facility where, for $100m/year, they can turn out 1b doses/year, using a single 5L bioreactor.

(%$# mine)

Run the numbers there.  That's a cost of $0.12/dose. 

Add in the cost of regulatory compliance, packaging, maintaining a cold chain while shipping it a few hundred (as opposed to a few thousand) miles, and tracking lots, and you are still below $10/dose.

The Pharma powers that be are opposed to any sort of relaxation of IP regulations not because duplicating their instrumentality is hard, but because it is trivially easy, and said technology is publicly developed and publicly funded.

They want to continue to extract their rents and keep their ill-gotten gains, because they want another yacht to water-ski behind.

About that "Labor Shortage"

Service Workers Aren’t Lazy — They Just Don’t Want to Risk Dying for Minimum Wage
Jacobin

As I have noted before, "If only there were some sort of proxy for value that we could offer workers

We have seen more than a few examples of this

As March drew to a close, Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor in the Strip District found itself without enough workers for the upcoming spring and summer rush, and it certainly did not have enough workers to open the shop to its desired seven days a week schedule.

Then, on March 30, the parlor announced it would more than double the starting wage for the roles, going from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour, a scoop that seemed to captivate workers throughout the region and one that earned a significant amount of local media coverage.

"It was instant, overnight. We got thousands of applications that poured in," Maya Johnson, general manager of Klavon's, said. "It was very overwhelming, very. People were coming in by the next day that it broke on the news, they were coming in, filling out paper applications. I was doing on-the-spot interviews."

If you cannot find workers, just pay them more, and you will find them.

Linkage

I did not realize that The Who released a protest song 2 years ago. It's a wonderful bluesy piece:

04 May 2021

Took Long Enough

Oregon state Representative Mike Nearman, who allowed right wing terrorists into the state house, has been charged with first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass.

I'm surprised that he got charged at all:

An Oregon lawmaker who let violent far-right demonstrators into the state Capitol during a Dec. 21 special session was criminally charged on Friday with first-degree official misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass.

Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, was caught on security videos opening a door and allowing demonstrators to enter the building. He had been under investigation since at least January for enabling the breach.
He was caught on tape, and it took them 4 months to charge this mook?

What is up with that?

………

The first-degree official misconduct charge is for allegedly knowingly taking action that constituted an unauthorized exercise of his official duties to benefit someone else, according to court filings. The second charge is for allegedly abetting another person to enter and remain in the Capitol.

………

Oregon’s Capitol has been closed to the public for the last year due to the pandemic. On Dec. 21, lawmakers were in the building for the third special session of 2020, which Gov. Kate Brown called to extend the state’s eviction moratorium, create a relief fund for landlords and pass wildfire and COVID-19 related funding.

As House lawmakers debated rules for the one-day proceeding around 8:30 a.m., Nearman left the chamber and exited a door near where right-wing demonstrators had gathered to protest the state’s coronavirus restrictions. Demonstrators, including some carrying rifles, were circulating outside the north face of the Capitol and one man carrying a large flag waited just outside the door that Nearman opened, according to security footage obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive through a public records request. Nearman exited and walked around the man with the flag, making no effort to keep him from entering the Capitol.

Surveillance video showed that once Nearman allowed demonstrators into the northwest Capitol vestibule, the group clashed with Oregon State Police and Salem police who tried to keep them out of the building. Demonstrators attempted to push past police, who rushed to eject the initial insurgents and physically block the doorway Nearman had just opened.

They have him on at least 4 cameras.  He's been cut way too much slack by law enforcement.

He should have been frog marched out of his office in handcuffs months ago.

And Yet He Remains a Respected Part of the DC Establishment

A federal judge just called former Attorney General William Barr a liar.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson just accused him of deliberately misleading her, Congress and the public about his characterization of the results of the Mueller investigation.

Furthermore, she notes that his description of the memos that avoid public disclosure through the FOIA process.

Why this man has a law license is beyond me:

A federal judge in Washington accused the Justice Department under Attorney General William P. Barr of misleading her and Congress about advice he had received from top department officials on whether President Donald J. Trump should have been charged with obstructing the Russia investigation and ordered that a related memo be released.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington said in a ruling late Monday that the Justice Department’s obfuscation appeared to be part of a pattern in which top officials like Mr. Barr were untruthful to Congress and the public about the investigation.

The department had argued that the memo was exempt from public records laws because it consisted of private advice from lawyers whom Mr. Barr had relied on to make the call on prosecuting Mr. Trump. But Judge Jackson, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011, ruled that the memo contained strategic advice, and that Mr. Barr and his aides already understood what his decision would be.

………

Her rebuke shed new light on Mr. Barr’s decision not to prosecute Mr. Trump. She also wrote that although the department portrayed the advice memo as a legal document protected by attorney-client privilege, it was done in concert with Mr. Barr’s publicly released summary, “written by the very same people at the very same time.”

………

The ruling came in a lawsuit by a government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, asking that the Justice Department be ordered to turn over a range of documents related to how top law enforcement officials cleared Mr. Trump of wrongdoing.

At issue is how Mr. Barr handled the end of the Mueller investigation and the release of its findings to the public. In March 2019, the office of the special counsel overseeing the inquiry, Robert S. Mueller III, delivered its report to the Justice Department. In a highly unusual decision, Mr. Mueller declined to make a determination about whether Mr. Trump had illegally obstructed justice.

………

But instead, Judge Jackson wrote, Mr. Barr and his aides had already decided not to bring charges against Mr. Trump. She reprimanded the department for portraying the memo as part of deliberations over whether to prosecute the president. She noted that she had been allowed to read the full memo before making her decision, over the objections of the Justice Department, and that it revealed that “excised portions belie the notion that it fell to the attorney general to make a prosecution decision or that any such decision was on the table at any time.”

………

The Justice Department argued that the emails were exempt from disclosure and filed sworn affidavits about their contents by lawyers for the Office of Management and Budget during the Trump administration. But Judge Jackson insisted on reading the emails for herself and wrote that “the court discovered that there were obvious differences between the affiants’ description of the nature and subject matter of the documents, and the documents themselves.”

More so than Donald Trump, Roger Stone, or Rudolph Giuliani, William Barr needs to be in the dock.

First, he was US Attorney General, and should be subject to a higher standard of behavior than your standard political hack, and second, he is a fixture of the Washington, DC establishment, and someone needs to poke a hole in their own innate sense of impunity for the whole corrupt edifice.

That he can still practice law is an abomination.

This is How You Weed Out the Militia Types

Once again making a joke of, "Protect and Serve," police are some of the public servants least likely to get a vaccine.

This is a good thing:  It is a canary in a coal mine.

When you tell a police officer, get a vaccine, or you are suspended, and they take the suspension, 9 times out of 10, they are right wing militia types who have infiltrated the police.

These are the cops who generate your problems with brutality, racism, and million dollar judgement.

Let them go:

Police officers were among the first front-line workers to gain priority access to coronavirus vaccines. But their vaccination rates are lower than or about the same as those of the general public, according to data made available by some of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.

The reluctance of police to get the shots threatens not just their own health, but also the safety of people they’re responsible for guarding, monitoring and patrolling, experts say.

At the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, just 39 percent of employees have gotten at least one dose, officials said, compared to more than 50 percent of eligible adults nationwide. In Atlanta, 36 percent of sworn officers have been vaccinated. And a mere 28 percent of those employed by the Columbus Division of Police — Ohio’s largest police department — report having received a shot.

“I think it’s unacceptable,” Joe Lombardo, the head of Las Vegas police and sheriff of Clark County, said of the meager demand for the shots within his force.

………

Police hesitancy also means officers may be vectors of spread to vulnerable people with whom they interact during traffic stops, calls for service and other high-contact encounters. That could thwart efforts to restore community trust in a moment of heightened scrutiny after last month’s conviction of ex-officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd.

“Police touch people,” said Sharona Hoffman, a professor of law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University. “Imagine having a child in the car who’s not vaccinated. People would want to know if a police officer coming to their window is protected.”

Make it mandatory and fire the cops who refuse.  They are refusing to support public health.

You will end up with a better police force.

03 May 2021

Good Riddance, You Incompetent Prat

DCCC chair in the last election cycle, who has seen her chances to advance in House leadership as a result, will not be running for reelection in 2022.

In a just world, she would be run out of town on a rail.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Moline announced Friday she would not seek reelection next year after serving since 2013 in a northwest and west-central Illinois district that has trended increasingly Republican.
She does not know how her district will change in redistricting.
………

At one time, Bustos had been viewed as a rising star among House Democrats, demonstrating an ability to win in largely Republican territory.

No, she managed to get mentored by Nancy Pelosi, which is why she got, and mismanaged her time as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, most egregiously when she explicitly stated that consultants working on primary challenges would be blacklisted by the organization.

It's called saying the quiet part out loud, and it is very very stupid.

I'm not sure if Pelosi is just a bad judge of people, in the early 2000s, she pushed Anthony Weiner and Deborah Wasserman Schultz who were similarly disastrous in their own special ways, or if she decided that the best way for her to remain speaker was to support flawed individuals as a part of the next generation.

I think that she may be following the advice of Lord Julius, "When you're running a bureaucracy the best way to safeguard your job is to make sure you're the only one who knows how the whole thing works." (Pelosi might also be following he advice of Weisshaupt, but that is enough of a deep dive into Cerebus quotes)

Her path up the Democratic Congressional leadership is done for a very long time, and she knows it, so she's looking to cash in as a lobbyist or a pundit.

Pass the Popcorn

The  Executive Office for United States Trustees, a division of the Department of Justice tasked with overseeing bankruptcy proceedings in the United States, just unleashed a huge can of whup-ass on Wayne LaPierre and the NRA.

It isn't often that you hear terms like, "Failed to provide the proper oversight," "Personal expenses were made to look like business expenses," and that their regulatory issues with the New York AG are, "Not a legitimate reason for filing bankruptcy."

It's extremely rare for the trustee to say things like this, or to call for a bankruptcy to be halted, or to call for appointing a trustee.

The NRA is in a world of hurt, and if there is any justice in this world, Wayne LaPierre will end up sharing a cell with Matt Gaetz and Roger Stone.

The National Rifle Association’s hopes of end-running a legal challenge in New York were dealt a serious blow on Monday when a Justice Department official rebuked its leadership and called for the dismissal of its bankruptcy filing or the appointment of an outside monitor to oversee its finances.

Lisa L. Lambert, a lawyer in the United States Trustee’s office, which is part of the Justice Department, said the “evidentiary record clearly and convincingly establishes” that Wayne LaPierre, the longtime N.R.A. chief executive, “has failed to provide the proper oversight.” For a number of years, she added, “the record is unrefuted that Wayne LaPierre’s personal expenses were made to look like business expenses.”

Mr. LaPierre and the N.R.A. had filed for bankruptcy not because of any financial distress, but as a strategy to avoid litigation in New York, where the attorney general, Letitia James, is seeking to shut down the organization and claw back millions of dollars in allegedly misspent funds from Mr. LaPierre and three other current or former executives.

………

“The N.R.A. is in real trouble,” said Adam J. Levitin, a professor specializing in bankruptcy at Georgetown University. “The U.S. Trustee rarely gets involved in this sort of motion, much less urges dismissal, a trustee or an examiner. I cannot see an outcome where the N.R.A. comes out unscathed. I think the real issue is what remedy the judge grants.” 

John Pottow, who teaches bankruptcy at the University of Michigan Law School, called the trustee’s intervention “a glaring signal of profound dysfunction” at the N.R.A., adding that such an intervention by the trustee “doesn’t happen very often.”

“The N.R.A. has stated that it is seeking refuge from the New York attorney general’s actions and wishes to change its state of incorporation,” she added. “That can be done outside of bankruptcy. It is not a legitimate reason for filing bankruptcy.”

Shut them down, take their domain names, and take their mailing and donor lists.

Don't allow LaPierre to resurrect his scam under a different name.

The ammosexuals community will doubtless find another outlet for their political priorities, after all, they have won the war against common sense gun laws for a generation, but at least that new organization won't rob them blind.

Just Give them Money


Essential Musical Accompaniment

It's "Teacher Appreciation Week", and the I agree with Anne Helen Petersen, if you have chosen to do any of the standard teacher appreciations, doughnuts, Starbucks, socks (!), or other various gifts, you are doing it wrong.

Just give them money, and while your are at it, fund the public schools:

All across the United States parents and caregivers are receiving and forgetting instructions on what they’re supposed to be preparing for their preschool and elementary school kids’ teachers. That’s because next week is officially “Teacher Appreciation Week,” an official holiday orchestrated by a combination of Classroom Parents and PTAs that, over the course of the last four decades, has exploded into an intricate, overly-complicated, largely hollow performance of gratitude.


This year, Teacher Appreciation is particularly overdetermined, because most teachers have had an ass of a year — attempting, based on their location and particulars of their situation, to balance potential COVID exposure, extreme hygiene theater, in-person learning, distance learning, hybrid learning, vitriolic attacks from parents on their unions, and generalized demoralization. Depending on the state and strength of union, many elementary and high school teachers may be struggling to make ends meet; almost everywhere, ECE teachers receive truly garbage pay. That was true before the pandemic, and as with so many jobs deemed “essential,” the garbage pay feels even more insulting. 

………

Temporarily setting aside the fact that this is the sort of labor that almost always falls upon mothers, and serves as yet another way in which working moms, less financially stable moms, single moms, and/or less mobile moms can “fail” at public performances of proper motherhood…and also setting aside the many parents are already paying up to a third of their income on daycare and preschool…and also setting aside the fact that those failures often filter down and serve as sources of shame for children…and also setting aside the fact that making participation in these weeks “optional” is at once bullshit and gaslighting, these gifts don’t actually make the teacher feel supported

………

………These gifts can simultaneously “mean well” and serve to protect parents from larger, tougher, more challenging understandings of what support can and should look like.

So what does that support look like? The easiest route, at least in this moment, is money, filtered for actual use in the form of an actually useful giftcard. Depending on your background, you may or may not have internalized the idea that giving money as a means of thanks is tacky or untoward. That is bullshit posturing and you should forget it. A giftcard to Target will actual support a teacher in a way that a desk full of breakfast items cannot.

But that solution is also fairly shallow. There are several ways that you, as a parent or a caregiver or just an adult in the world, can support the teachers in your life in far more meaningful ways. In public, you can show up and back them and their unions at rallies. You can defend them when people start talking shit about them and their unions in Facebook Parent Groups. You can write them with specific and non-performative and non-passive-aggressive ways that they have impacted your child’s life, and be very clear that you don’t expect a response. 

In private, you can vote for politicians and support policies — especially education levies — that move to robustly fund public education. You can vocally support national plans that conceive of childcare and preschool as essential infrastructure: a market failure that demands public investment in order to 1) be affordable & and accessible to all families and 2) pay a living wage.

Preach it!

We under-invest in education, and we allow charlatans to extract tax dollars through charter schools.

Show them the money.

Who Gets Custody of Microsoft Bob?

Unless it has something to do with political scandal, I rarely talk about celebrity divorces.

It's just not my business.

On the other hand, the snark in the title is too good make a comment about Bill and Melinda Gates's impending divorce.

Also, which is funnier, "Microsoft Bob," or "Clippy" in the title?

02 May 2021

I Am Not Sure How I Feel about This

Both DARPA and NASA are moving forward with plans to develop nuclear thermal rockets.

While nuclear thermal propulsion do not match the efficiencies of electric (Ion, etc.) propulsion (an ISP of about 1000 for nuclear thermal as versus up to 5000 for electric propulsion and about 300-500 for chemical rockets) they provide more efficiency than chemical rockets, and more thrust than electric propulsion. 

It makes a lot of sense for satellites in various earth and lunar orbits where you need to change position rapidly. 

I'm not sure how sanguine I am about the possibility of putting a few hundred pounds of enriched uranium in orbit though.

From the NASA story:

More than sixty years after the U.S. began serious studies into nuclear propulsion for space travel, NASA is taking the first steps on a new path to develop nuclear-powered engines for crewed missions to Mars by the end of the next decade.

The agency is reviewing industry responses to the first phase of a plan with the Energy Department to mature a prototype nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) reactor and engine design for use in space. The congressionally directed initiative, which is also supported by ongoing NASA/Energy Department research into advanced nuclear fuels, will ultimately lead to the building and testing of demonstrators.

Beyond this, the vision extends to the potential development of a full-scale nuclear-powered system for a crewed mission to Mars that would be launched in 2039. The new capability, which could be based on either NTP or synergistic nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) technology, would also provide power for future crewed and robotic deep-space exploration missions as well as faster, more responsive resupply flights to lunar and Martian outposts.

NEP is about having more energy available for an electric propulsion.

It is still a low thrust system, but provides much more delta V over time.

DARPA's proposal is more about providing satellites that can move between geostationary orbits and lunar orbits quickly and flexibly to deal with treats presented by some sort of rival in space:

A nebulously named “Deterrence Layer” is on the drawing board for the National Defense Space Architecture, and that could mean the return of a functioning U.S.-operated, nuclear-powered satellite in orbit by 2025 for the first time in 60 years.

The need for the Deterrence Layer may depend on what China and Russia do next. If rival militaries establish a presence in the region of deep space between geostationary and lunar orbits, the U.S. Defense Department believes a future spacecraft—an “advanced maneuvering vehicle” (AMV)—will be needed to charge out as far as the Moon, hopefully just to remind an adversary to keep a tight leash on any nefarious plans in cislunar space.

………

What is envisaged for the AMV is a propulsion system that produces a high amount of thrust compared to its weight yet is significantly more efficient than chemical propulsion.

………

In the NERVA ground tests and SNAP-10A orbital tests, NASA and the military used a fission reactor fueled by highly enriched uranium, the same radioactive material used to make nuclear warheads.

For DRACO, DARPA has specified a technology shift to high-assay, low enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel. Unlike weapons-grade uranium fuel that is typically enriched to 80%, HALEU is by definition only enriched between 5% and 20%—although the exact level is not being released. HALEU in the form of uranium metal will be furnished by the government to GA-EMS for the DRACO reactor.

The choice of HALEU exploits a bureaucratic loophole created by former President Donald Trump. His presidential memorandum signed on Aug. 20 delegates approval for the launch of a spacecraft using uranium that is enriched below the 20% threshold to the head of the sponsoring agency instead of the White House. In effect, the memorandum transfers the launch authority decision for DRACO from the president to the secretary of defense, perhaps along with the risk in case anything goes wrong.

Nuclear loopholes in space.  Now THERE'S a reassuring term.

I understand the advantages of such a system, but I am concerned about the potential safety risks, both for NTP and NEP propulsion.

If You Thought That There Was a Speck of Sanity in Law Enforcement………

Then you should read just how cops believed the weirdest conspiracy theories during the Black Lives Matter protests.

I want what they are smoking:

The graffiti on a port-a-potty in a gravel pit was, in the opinion of one Washington state resident, a sign that anti-fascists might blow up a nearby dam. Another local was convinced that a young man reading signs was actually an “Antifa or BLM scout.” A third person warned, via an anonymous email tip, that her ex-husband was part of an anti-fascist group that was coming to burn down the town.

All these complaints were forwarded throughout police ranks in Washington, where officials urged vigilance against the leftist threat.

As racial justice protests flared across the country in summer 2020, so did conservative fears of leftist protesters. From Oregon to Virginia, social media lit up with rumors about anti-fascists (“antifa”) or Black Lives Matter participants, who were allegedly coming to terrorize small towns.

Anacortes, a scenic city of 17,000 in coastal Washington, was no exception. From June to August 2020, the city’s police department received repeated tips about supposed antifa threats, according to police documents obtained by the government transparency nonprofit Property of the People and shared with The Daily Beast. Even some of the most absurd claims found their way up to state-level law enforcement, those documents show.

………

The documents, obtained via Freedom of Information request, reveal the absurdity of some of last year’s complaints.

………

The following month, another alleged antifa threat, even wilder than the others, found its way to the Skagit County Sheriff, documents show. In this case, it involved two overturned port-a-potties in a gravel pit near a boat launch in Concrete, Washington.

One of the port-a-potties had been spray painted with the acronym “ACAB,” short for “all cops are bastards.” The other was tagged with an A in a circle, an anarchist symbol. But where some observers might have seen common vandalism symbols, the tipster who photographed the port-a-potties saw something more ominous—maybe even part of a plot to blow up a dam.

………

“When individuals and law enforcement have been whipped into such a paranoid frenzy that they’re primed to see ‘antifa’ or ‘BLM’ terrorist conspiracies literally in the toilet, the situation is a powder keg,” Shapiro said. “There’s a direct line from this sort of deliberately induced political hysteria to violent, repressive crackdowns on progressive dissent.” 

The police were clutching at any potential excuse to foment violence and beat up (riot against) protesters.

It's not conducive to the proper functioning of a democratic society.

Continue Pushing

If Joe Biden has a virtue as President, it is that he will do the right thing if he has no alternative, a characteristic that he does not share with his three predecessors. 

That being the case, the continuing efforts by Democrats in Congress to push Medicare expansion should continue:

Congressional Democrats are planning to pursue a massive expansion of Medicare as part of President Biden’s new $1.8 trillion economic relief package, defying the White House after it opted against including a major health overhaul as part of its plan.

The early pledges from some party lawmakers, led by prominent members of its liberal wing, threaten to create even more political tension around a package that is already facing no shortage of it. The expansion push comes as Biden on Wednesday stressed in his first address to Congress that he is still committed to making health care more affordable.

They specifically aim to lower the eligibility age for Medicare to either 55 or 60, expand the range of health services the entitlement covers and grant the government new powers to negotiate prescription drug prices. Party lawmakers say their approach could offer new, improved or cheaper coverage to millions of older Americans nationwide.

………

The early efforts reflect a broader belief among congressional Democrats that they must more aggressively seize on their narrow but powerful majorities to push policies that long have been stalled in Washington — no matter their cost. Many party lawmakers have pushed Biden at times to spend sky-high sums, sometimes even more than the president himself says he supports, arguing that they have a political mandate to pursue vast economic change.

Also, let us not forget, lowering the age of Medicare eligibility is also exquisitely good policy. It creates a 25% savings right off the back.

But health-care revisions are likely to present a significant challenge, threatening to open rifts not just between the two parties but within the Democratic caucus itself. In an early sign of trouble, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) told The Washington Post on Wednesday that he opposes expanding Medicare eligibility even as he supports broader adjustments to the Affordable Care Act.

Of course Manchin opposes expanding Medicare.  He's an evil hypocrite.

………

For many Democrats, the most enticing target is Medicare, as they try to deliver on their 2020 campaign promises to make health insurance affordable and available. Biden himself endorsed a policy report after the party’s presidential primaries — part of a “unity” effort among Democratic contenders, including Sanders — that called for lowering the Medicare enrollment age and expanding the health services it covers.

Make Manchin vote against this.  Make Sinema vote against this.  Make the rest of them vote against Medicare expansion.

Make them pay the cost for being narcissistic amoral assholes.

Boeing Still Can't Make Planes

The FAA will audit Boeing following the discovery of a serious manufacturing flaw.

The short version of this is that Boeing has systematically dismantled procedures to allow employees to report safety issues on the shop floor to senior management, because the management fetishist MBA culture that was imported from McDonnell Douglas when they acquired the firm.

Since McDonnell took over Boeing with Boeing's money, they have systematically dismantled every advantage that Boeing once they came on board:

Boeing Co. is facing an audit to determine why changes in its manufacturing practices on the 737 Max led to a hazard that went unnoticed for almost two years.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees Boeing and has meted out multiple civil penalties against the planemaker in recent years, said in a statement Thursday that it is also investigating the origin of the manufacturing flaw.

“These initiatives are part of our commitment to continually evaluating and improving our oversight of all aspects of aviation safety, recognizing that catching errors at the earliest possible point enhances what is already the world’s safest form of transportation,” the agency said.

………

The flaws in the electrical components raise new questions about Boeing’s ability to monitor safety issues within the company. The lack of a robust internal safety review and oversight system was cited repeatedly by multiple reviews of the 737 Max crashes.

Until recent months, Boeing didn’t have what is known as a Safety Management System, which requires an organization to conduct more robust risk analyses of design features, open channels for employees to raise concerns and involve senior management.

………

The changes to how certain electrical components were installed on the 737 Max occurred in 2019. At the time, Boeing concluded it was such a minor change that it didn’t require FAA approval, the agency said in a statement. Similarly, Boeing employees who are deputized to act on behalf of the federal regulator also didn’t approve of the changes.

………

The electrical problem was deemed serious enough that the agency said it was waiving the normal period for public comment and would require the repairs as soon as Boeing completes a bulletin detailing them.

Boeing is being run by finance guys, and their business model is tor burn the the company down for the insurance money.

01 May 2021

Support Your Local Police

A cop in Georgia (where else?) was planning to arrest black people to prevent them from voting

He is also hooked up with white supremacists online.

Am I the only one who thinks that this guy is not an isolated case?

A former Middle Georgia sheriff’s deputy bragged in text messages with members of an alleged extremist group that he had beaten a Black person he arrested and planned to charge Black Georgians with felonies to keep them from voting, according to an FBI affidavit.

The ex-Wilkinson County deputy, Cody Richard Griggers, of Montrose, was fired last November after the FBI contacted the sheriff there about an investigation into illegal guns and their alleged ties to a California man said to have made violent political statements on Facebook.

Griggers, 28, a former Marine, pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court in Macon to one count of possession of an unregistered firearm, a crime the authorities discovered in their probe, which began last summer. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in July.

………

Griggers, in the texts, was said to have claimed he was making and gathering illegal firearms and explosives.

Griggers, who is white, “also expressed viewpoints consistent with racially motivated violent extremism, including the use of racial slurs, slurs against homosexuals and making frequent positive references to the Nazi holocaust,” prosecutors said in a statement on Wednesday announcing Griggers’ plea.

The prosecutors said that on Nov. 19 last year that the FBI searched Griggers’ patrol car and found a machine gun “with an obliterated serial number,” a weapon he was not allowed to have in his patrol car.

It was Griggers’ statements in text messages, however, that most concerned Wilkinson Sheriff Richard Chatman.

………

“I beat the (expletive) out of a (racial slur) Saturday. (Expletive) tried to steal (a gun magazine) from the local gun store. ... Sheriff’s dept. said it looked like he fell,” the affidavit noted, quoting Griggers.

Griggers went on to write that the beating was for him “sweet stress relief.”

………

The affidavit also said Griggers had texted how he “intended to charge black people with felonies in order to keep them from voting.”

“It’s a sign of beautiful things to come,” he wrote, according to the affidavit. “Also I’m going to charge them with whatever felonies I can to take away their ability to vote.”

Griggers had worked as a deputy in Wilkinson County — which lies just east of Macon and has a population of about 9,000 people, about 40% of them Black — for just over a year, the sheriff said.

According to the FBI affidavit, Griggers also discussed “killing liberal politicians” with other members of the text group, writing they could “make it look like Muslims” were responsible.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, and I am not just talking about the Wilkinson County sheriff's department.

Police departments across the nation are objectively pro-white supremacist.


RTead more here: https://www.bnd.com/news/nation-world/national/article251004169.html#storylink=cpy

My Opinion of Him Has Risen (It Could Not Have Fallen More)

After putting his foot in his mouth,

Joe Rogan offers a pithy and apparently sincere apology.

He said some tremendously stupid things about Covid Vaccines, and when called out, he replied as follows, "I'm not a doctor, I'm a f---ing moron."

In a world of mealy mouthed apologies, it's kind of refreshing, though Joe Rogan remains, and will probably be, a  f---ing moron:

Popular Spotify podcast host Joe Rogan on Thursday sought to clarify his recent controversial comments that young, healthy people don't need a COVID-19 vaccine.

During a conversation on his most recent episode of "The Joe Rogan Experience," the comedian made it clear that he wasn't anti-vaccine, and people should not necessarily be looking to him for medical advice.

"I'm not a doctor, I'm a f---ing moron, and I'm a cage fighting commentator ... I'm not a respected source of information, even for me. But I at least try to be honest about what I'm saying," Rogan said.

Rogan's initial comments drew backlash from multiple critics as harmful and irresponsible, including from many infectious disease experts and even Biden administration officials.

For someone who says outrageous crap for a living, it's kind of refreshing when they quickly recognize that they f%$#ed up.

This is Horrifying

45 people have been killed in Israel in a crowd crush during Lag B'Omer celebrations at Mount Meron.

It appears that this situation has been predicted for over a decade, but political pandering, and a general unwillingness of the political establishment to challenge the Heredi ultra-Orthodox demands for impunity:

The man underneath Avraham Nivin was already limp and lifeless. The men above him were thrashing and flailing. The men to his sides were screaming for help and struggling to breathe.

And crushed in the middle of these limbs and torsos — his legs trapped, his shoes and glasses lost in the melee, his body perpendicular to the floor — was Mr. Nivin himself.

………

He survived, but 45 others did not — turning a night that began as a pilgrimage for tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews, and a joyous return to something approaching post-pandemic normality, into one of the deadliest peacetime tragedies in Israeli history.

………

By Friday night, the stampede had prompted a surge of soul-searching about religious-secular tensions, the resistance to state authority displayed by some ultra-Orthodox Israelis and, above all, questions of blame, responsibility and negligence.

Gee, ya think?

For more than a decade there have been concerns and warnings that the religious site on Mount Meron in northern Israel was not equipped to handle tens of thousands of pilgrims who flock there each year to commemorate the death of a revered second-century rabbi.

Actually, that's one explanation, the more common reason given for this holiday is the end of a plague against Rabbi Akiva's students almost 2 centuries earlier.

In 2008 and 2011, reports by the state comptroller, a government watchdog, warned of the potential for calamity there. The leader of the regional government said he tried to close it at least three times. In 2013, the regional police chief warned in an official investigation of the possibility of a lethal stampede. And in 2018, a prominent ultra-Orthodox journalist called it a death trap.

And yet the government still authorized this year’s event, raising questions about its culpability and whether its reliance on ultra-Orthodox political parties had trumped concerns for public safety.

Of course it was politics.  This is Bibi Netanyahu we are talking about.

………

Israel has been racked by tensions between the secular mainstream and ultra-Orthodox Israelis, also known as Haredim, particularly during the pandemic. Among secular Jews, there was widespread anger about a disregard for coronavirus regulations within parts of the ultra-Orthodox community.

………

The night reached its crescendo shortly after midnight, as packed crowds gathered in a cramped open-air arena beside the tomb to sing, dance and watch the lighting of ceremonial bonfires.

The festivities turned to horror afterward as celebrants attempted to leave via a steep, narrow gangway that descends down a short set of steps to a narrow, covered passageway.

………

The Israeli authorities had placed no restrictions on the number of attendees, despite warnings by some health officials about the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

………

For the Haredi community — which was disproportionately hurt by the coronavirus crisis, both by the disease and by the stinging rebukes of secular society — it felt like a particularly cruel turn of events.

………

The compound on Mount Meron includes several large gathering grounds with bleachers and stages, connected by a series of alleyways and path. The 2008 comptroller report said that various additions and changes to the site had been made without the approval of the local and district planning and building committees.

………

Despite the warnings that the infrastructure could not safely bear large crowds, one former official, Shlomo Levy, who had chaired the Upper Galilee Regional Council, said he had come under political pressure to cancel a warrant he had issued in 2008 to close the tomb compound because of safety concerns.

Mr. Levy told Kan, Israel’s public radio, that the public security minister at the time told him he was afraid to touch the site and that it was a “hot potato.”

That wariness likely stemmed from the disproportionate political power long held by ultra-Orthodox parties in Israel’s coalition system. The ultra-Orthodox have been crucial members of successive Netanyahu-led governing coalitions.

One would hope that there would be some changes in behavior as as a result of this tragedy, but I would not hold my breath over this.

30 April 2021

Headline of the Day

Will "Goldman Penis Envy" Crash the Economy Again?
Matt Taibbi

The point of his article is that there are a lot of actors in Wall Street like Lehman, who are small enough that they feel that they have to massively over-leverage to compete with the Vampire Squid, but large enough to crash the system.

“We called it ‘Goldman Penis Envy,’” says Lawrence McDonald, former Lehman trader and author of A Colossal Failure of Common Sense. In telling the Gelband story, he explains that Fuld and Gregory were so desperate to beat out Goldman and become the richest men on Wall Street, they chased every bad deal at the peak of the speculative bubble.

“These tertiary financial institutions, in order to win business away from the big players, they have to continually juice their offerings, offer more leverage, more goodies,” says McDonald. “Dick and Joe, they wanted to do these banking deals, to steal Goldman’s business by offering more.”
He's suggesting that the collapse of Archegos Capital Management is a taste of things to come.

He's probably right.

Adventures in Google™ Adsense™

I don't pay a whole bunch of the attention that Google™ Adsense™ serves on my blog, but occasionally,I see somethng truly odd:

I don't understand how Google™ Adsense™, given the enormous amount of data that they have on me, would think that I care one whit about intestinal parasites in horses.

Please note: once again, that I do not vet, nor do I endorse any ad that appears on my site, and I reserve the right to mock both the ads that appear on my site, as well as the advertisers.

Also, please note, this should be in no way construed as an inducement or a request for my reader(s) to click on any ad that they would not otherwise be inclined to investigate further. This would be a violation of the terms of service for Google Adsense.

Deep Thought

Only Psychopaths and True Believers Are Willing to Put Up with the Bullshit in Politics, Because There Are More Psychopaths Than True Believers, So the Psychopaths Make the Rules.

It was a throw away line by me at the Stellar Parthenon BBS, in a more general discussion of dysfunctional politics, but it was well received, so I thought that I would share it here.

29 April 2021

Biden's Speech

I didn't watch it, I prefer to read the transcript.

The only thing close to the surprise was his pre-K childcare/education proposals, which are a good idea from both a policy and a political standpoint.

On the other hand, he is the first President who I can bear to listen to in at least 20 years.

I Could Walk There


Magnificent Desolation







Less than 5 miles from my house, there are exposed chunks of the mantle, at Soldiers Delight.

Because of the unique chemistry of the area, very low calcium and very high magnesium in the soil, we have what can be called a, "Barrens".

Standing among patches of muddy snow on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland, I bent down to pick up a piece of the planet that should have been hidden miles below my feet.

On that chilly February day, I was out with a pair of geologists to see an exposed section of Earth's mantle. While this layer of rock is usually found between the planet's crust and core, a segment peeks out of the scrubby Maryland forest, offering scientists a rare chance to study Earth's innards up close.

ven more intriguing, the rock's unusual chemical makeup suggests that this piece of mantle, along with chunks of lower crust scattered around Baltimore, was once part of the seafloor of a now-vanished ocean.

Over the roughly 490 million years since their formation, these hunks of Earth were smashed by shifting tectonic plates and broiled by searing hot fluids rushing through cracks, altering both their composition and sheen. Mantle rock is generally full of sparkly green crystals of the mineral olivine, but the rock in my hand was surprisingly unremarkable to look at: mottled yellow-brown stone occasionally flecked with black.

“Those rocks have had a tough life,” says George Guice, a mineralogist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Because of this geologic clobbering, scientists have struggled for more than a century to determine the precise origins of this series of rocks. Now, Guice and his colleagues have applied a fresh eye and state-of-the-art chemical analyses to the set of rocky exposures in Baltimore. Their work shows that the seemingly bland series of stones once lurked underneath the ancient Iapetus Ocean. 

More than half a billion years ago, this ocean spanned some 3,000 to 5,000 miles, cutting through what is now the United States’ eastern seaboard. Much of the land where the Appalachian mountains now stand was on one side of the ocean, and parts of the modern East Coast were on the other.

This is wicked cool.

Did Not Expect This

It should come as no surprise that the Department of Justice planned to indict all 4 officers involved in George Floyd's murder on Civil Rights charges

What does surprise me is that the DoJ planned to arrest Derek Chauvin in the court house in the event of a not-guilty verdict or a mistrial.

Leading up to Derek Chauvin's murder trial, Justice Department officials had spent months gathering evidence to indict the ex-Minneapolis police officer on federal police brutality charges, but they feared the publicity frenzy could disrupt the state's case.

So they came up with a contingency plan: If Chauvin were found not guilty on all counts or the case ended in a mistrial, they would arrest him at the courthouse, according to sources familiar with the planning discussions.

(emphasis mine)

These folks were sh%$ting their pants over the possibility that a bigot on the jury would blow everything up.

A Stopped Clock Moment

The 2nd worst Democrat in the Senate, Joe Manchin, has announced his support for IP waivers for generic Covid vaccines.

Of course, this might have something to do with his Kid's business, as Heather Bresch probably still has outstanding stock options with the now a part of  Upjohn, Mylan.

Mylan is/was a generic drug manufacturer :

Sen. Joe Manchin expressed support for the World Trade Organization proposal to temporarily suspend enforcement of patent and intellectual property enforcement for Covid-19 medical treatments.

The waiver request, led by India and South Africa and backed by a coalition of countries, would allow more widespread global production and distribution of generic coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments.

Asked about the waiver proposal on Thursday, Manchin said it sounded like a good idea.

“I’ve always been a supporter of generics coming on,” said Manchin, speaking to The Intercept on Capitol Hill.

I really don't care what his motivation is, it lends a some "Centrist" cred to the effort to place limits on the reach of IP.

The West Virginia Democrat referenced the fact that the U.S. government financed the research, development, and domestic deployment of coronavirus vaccines. He noted that the drug companies “shouldn’t” generate profits from a product sponsored by taxpayers.
This qualifier applies to every major pharmaceutical development over the past few decades.

Big pharma has devolved into an orgy of rent-seeking.  (Which seems to be my theme for tonight)

I See the Problem

 Look at this graph:

It might not look like much, but it shows how our economy has been taken over  by rent seekers.

IP, which only makes money to the degree that it is subsidized through government action, has increased by a factor of 5.

Even considering the rise in software as a product, it's clear that an increasing portion of our economy has been diverted to unproductive rent seeking.

It's a drag on our economy, and contributes to inequality.

Tweet of the Day


Boom!

Drops mic.

Generally Favorable Economic News


H/t Calculated Risk for the graph pr0n
First, initial jobless claims fell to 553,000 last week.

This is definitely a good trend.

Also, US GDP grew at a blistering 6.4% annual rate in the last quarter. (See the graph)

Yes, this is unequivocally good news. 

It's getting tough to be pessimistic.

We are still down from where we started though.

28 April 2021

Their Tears Will Salt My Soup

When I see a headline like this:
Richest Americans Face Biden's Tax Hike With Anger, Denial, Grief

I smile.

It seems that many of these folks, who were born on 3rd base and thought that they had hit a triple, are so personally offended to be made pay their fair share.

They are losing their sh%$ over the lower tax rate for capital gains going away.

They keep saying things like, "Over-taxing success is un-American."

Oh, you poor delicate snowflake.  Your subsidy is going away, and your feelings are hurt.

F%$# you with Cheney's dick.

"Insanely Cheap," Huh?

It turns out that photovoltaic solar energy has gone from one of the most expensive electricity sources to one of the cheapest in the the past few years.

Rather unsurprisingly, there has been no such drop in the cost of nuclear power. 

Increasingly, fossil fuel generators are not competitive, which should help with our climate change problem:

In the year 2000, the International Energy Agency (IEA) made a prediction that would come back to haunt it: by 2020, the world would have installed a grand total of 18 gigawatts of photovoltaic solar capacity. Seven years later, the forecast would be proven spectacularly wrong when roughly 18 gigawatts of solar capacity were installed in a single year alone.

………

“When I got this job in 2005, I thought maybe one day solar will supply 1% of the world’s electricity. Now it’s 3%. Our official forecast is that it will be 23% by 2050, but that’s completely underestimated,” Chase says.

“We’ve got to the point where solar is the cheapest source of energy in the world in most places. This means we’ve been trying to model a situation where the grid looks totally different today.”

………

“The International Energy Agency now says solar is providing the cheapest energy the world has ever seen. But we’re headed towards a future of insanely cheap energy.

"Inanely cheap energy."

I like the sound of that.

Lock Him UP!! Lock Him UP!! Lock Him UP!!

The FBI just raided Rudolph Giuliani’s apartment in connection with his unregistered lobbying for the Ukraine.

Federal investigators on Wednesday seized cellphones and computers from Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City who became President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, stepping up a criminal investigation into Mr. Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, three people with knowledge of the investigation said.

F.B.I. agents executed search warrants around 6 a.m. at Mr. Giuliani’s apartment on Madison Avenue and his Park Avenue office in Manhattan, carting away the electronic devices, Mr. Giuliani confirmed in a statement.

The execution of search warrants is an extraordinary action for prosecutors to take against a lawyer, let alone a lawyer for a former president. The move marked a major development in the long-running investigation into Mr. Giuliani, which examines some of the same people and conduct that were at the center of Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial.

………

The investigative actions on Wednesday were expansive, with agents also serving a grand jury subpoena on Mr. Giuliani’s executive assistant, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

One of the warrants for Mr. Giuliani’s devices indicated that the federal investigators were searching for communications between him and several Ukrainian officials, including the former president, Petro Poroshenko, and two former prosecutors who had helped Mr. Giuliani collect information about the Bidens in Ukraine, one of the people said.

F.B.I. agents also executed a search warrant on Wednesday morning at the Washington-area home of Victoria Toensing, a lawyer close to Mr. Giuliani who had dealings with several Ukrainians involved in the hunt for information on the Bidens, according to people with knowledge of that warrant. The warrant was for her cellphone.


………


The federal authorities have largely focused on whether Mr. Giuliani illegally lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, who were helping Mr. Giuliani’s dirt-digging campaign. At the time, Mr. Biden was a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan and the F.B.I. had sought for months to secure Justice Department approval to request search warrants for Mr. Giuliani’s phones and electronic devices.

And William Barr almost certainly corruptly intervened to quash those subpoenas while he was still Attorney General

Even more than Giuliani, Barr needs to face consequences for his actions, because the Attorney General of the United States of America needs to meet a higher standard.

The culture of impunity in Washington, DC needs to end.

 

Unleash the Free Market


This graph explains how the American healthacre system is failing.

If the market worked, healthcare costs would continue to increase, but they don't.

Referring to the linked article, here are the money quotes:

  • Average health care spending per person per month for enrollees ages 60-64 in large employer plans ($1,061) is 38% higher than average monthly spending for traditional Medicare beneficiaries ages 65-69 ($770) (Figure 1). This comparison understates the savings that could be realized by shifting 60-64 year olds to Medicare, since one would expect 65-69 year olds to have roughly 20-25% higher spending, because health needs rise with age.
  • Average monthly health care spending for large employer plan enrollees ages 60-64 is similar to that of traditional Medicare beneficiaries in their early 70s, who tend to use more health care services than people in the younger age cohort.

New Amazon Union Drive in Staten Island


What the song says

Following the union election loss at the Amazon Bessemer, Alabama warehouse, a union drive has been started at their Staten Island facility.

Hopefully, the union should learn lessons from what happened in Bessemer.

Specifically, don't run a "Hot shop" effort, contact people out of work, and get in management's face from the start of the campaign:

In some ways, Amazon workers’ more than yearlong struggle for adequate COVID-19 protections and against corporate retaliation at the company’s Staten Island facility in New York City helped pave the way for this month’s unionization attempt at the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse.

Now, as the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) seeks a second election through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), filing official objections Friday charging Amazon with engaging in illegal interference to defeat the union, Staten Island “JFK8” warehouse workers with The Congress of Essential Workers (TCOEW) tell Truthout they aren’t deterred by the outcome. Rather, their on-the-ground experiences in Alabama, where the unionization effort gained national attention but ultimately failed, have taught them hard lessons that will inform their own approach to unionizing JFK8.

………

TCOEW organizers say one thing they’ve learned is to take a slower, more cautious approach in order to build enough internal support within the large warehouse for an independent union. “We’re just trying to get all the pieces in order so that we do it effectively rather than just rushing into it,” Palmer says.

JFK8 has several advantages over Bessemer, they say. For one thing, the warehouse has been around longer, and TCOEW organizers have more direct experience at the facility and a good reputation and influence among the workforce. Moreover, New York is a union-friendly state.

Please, make Jeff Bezos' life a living hell. 

Also, pass the PRO act.  It is good policy and good politics.

This is a Feature, Not a Bug

Given the education policies of Obama Administration, and its support for the most rapacious of the chrter school looters, it should be no surprise that  Seth Andrew, former, "Senior advisor and superintendent-in-residence at the U.S. Department of Education, " and , "enior advisor in the Office of Educational Technology," was charged with stealing from the charter school that he founded.

It is a perfect metaphor for the increasingly corrupt and increasingly segregated world of  charter schools:

A former senior adviser in the Obama administration was arrested Tuesday on charges that he stole more than $200,000 from a network of charter schools that he founded and used the money to get a lower interest rate on a mortgage for a Manhattan apartment, federal prosecutors said.

The founder, Seth Andrew, 42, is accused of taking money from bank accounts controlled by Democracy Prep Public Schools, which teaches mostly low-income students of color in New York and other states, and using it for the purchase of a $2 million apartment, prosecutors said.

Mr. Andrew is charged with one count each of wire fraud, money laundering and making a false statement to a bank. The first two charges both carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and the third carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, according to a statement on Tuesday from Audrey Strauss, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the assistant director-in-charge of the New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Today Andrew himself is learning one of life’s most basic lessons — what doesn’t belong to you is not yours for the taking,” Mr. Sweeney said in the statement.
Don't you know the first rule of charter schools, "The only crime is to get caught."

This guy got caught.

"If You Had Any Balls, You'd Say 'Oh, My God, What Is That Thing?' Then Scream and Cut Your Mic."

There is a story, I'm not sure if it is urban legend, that Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins said this when discussing what Neil Armstrong should say when he set foot on the moon.

I hope that the story is True.

Michael Collins died today.  He was 90 years old.

 

27 April 2021

Poor Messaging

Yale academics have written a study showing that Democratic Party anti-racism messaging harmed the party politically.

Obviously, some of the this can be ascribed to the racism of a portion of the electorate, but there is also the issue that anti-racism messaging has been offered as an alternative to basic issues of social justice, labor rights, and inequality.

That's why Hillary Clinton's, "Basket of Deplorables," quote was so damaging.

The subtext was, "If you did not have the talent and initiative to get a post-graduate degree at an elite institution, screw you."

The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) has completely eschewed issues of socioeconomic class, because they are creatures of the top 1%, and racial reductionist statements allow them to check the various "social justice" text box while continue to serve the agenda of the economic elites.

The is the exact opposite of the answer that Jesse Jackson gave during his 1988 Presidential campaign when he was asked, "How you are going to get the support of the white steelworker?" and he replied, "By making him aware he has more in common with the black steel workers by being a worker, than with the boss by being white."

Bernie Sanders message in 2016 and 2020 was very similar, and (thankfully) Biden appears to be governing more toward the Jackson end of the Democratic Party ideological spectrum than he is toward the Clinton/Obama side of the spectrum, even if he did not campaign that way:

Beginning about a decade ago, the Democratic Party went through two important changes related to racism. The first is that the backlash against Barack Obama made far more white liberals aware of how deeply racial resentment inspired American conservatism. (Black people had by and large realized this all along.)

The second is that the party, which in previous years had painstakingly avoided the impression its agenda was mainly designed to help minorities, began emphasizing this very point. That change occurred in 2016, when Hillary Clinton started infusing her rhetoric with conscious appeals to racial equity. And it continued in 2020 — even though Joe Biden employed less race-conscious rhetoric than his more progressive rivals, he still cast some of his plans as explicitly anti-racist.

But is it working? Yale political scientists Micah English and Josh Kalla have found that adding explicitly race-conscious ideas to Democratic messages reduces their support. English and Kalla’s experiment borrows real-world messages from Democratic politicians and tests them with both a race-conscious component and a mix of race and class messaging. In either instance, telling subjects that a proposal would reduce racial inequity makes them less likely to support it:

 

Bigotry is evil, and it needs to be fought on every level, but using anti-racist virtue signaling as an alternative to meaningful change in a profoundly dysfunctional society, ends up harming both the progressive project and the ability to fight racism, because it reduces every government action to a zero sum game where the only determinant is ethnicity.

It's the Fraud, Stupid


It's Called Fraud

As I have noted a few times, any in depth examination of Facebook would reveal systematic fraud

Recently revealed emails uncovered in the fraud lawsuit against the social media network show Facebook was deeply aware that it was providing false information to advertisers, which seems to be a slam-dunk case of fraud.

Both Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandburg are famously "Hands On", and this is at the core of their business.

They knew that they were defrauding advertisers, and they took their money anyway:

Carolyn Everson, one of Facebook’s most senior advertising executives, said the company had to “prepare for the worst” over claims that it overstated the potential reach of its advertisements, according to newly released court filings.

The world’s largest social network has been fighting a class-action lawsuit in California since 2018 over claims that its figure for its “potential reach”, which told advertisers how many people saw their ads, included duplicate and fake accounts.

Facebook has argued that the numbers were only estimates and that advertisers are charged for actual clicks and impressions, rather than for the potential reach of an ad.

But according to filings in the lawsuit that were unredacted over the weekend, Everson, the vice-president of Facebook’s global business group, wrote an email in 2017 that said the metric “clearly impacted [advertisers’] planning”.

“We are going to get really criticized for that (and justifiably so),” she said. “If we overstated how many actual real people we have in certain demos, there is no question that impacted budget allocations. We have to prepare for the worst here.”

………

The lawsuit, which was filed in northern California in 2018 by a small-business owner, alleges that Facebook executives knew the potential reach figure was “misleading” and took no action to correct it in order to “preserve its own bottom line”.

It points to research showing Facebook had suggested potential reach in certain US states and demographics that was greater than the actual populations in those geographies.
A Financial Times investigation in 2019 found similar discrepancies in Facebook’s ads manager, an online tool to help advertisers build campaigns, even though the company made some changes to its potential reach definition earlier that year.

They knew that the metrics were complete crap, and they tried to bury the information and continued to use the bad data to get paid.

Break out the cuffs, Ponch.

From the Department of About F%$#ing Time

It looks like members of Congress are getting sick and tired of skyrocketing operational costs and fiscal obfuscation by the Department of Defense, and will be pushing back against any increase in acquisition.

Unfortunately, the excessive costs of the program has been baked into the program, with the DoD signing off a model that is clearly intended to maximize rent seeking by Lockheed-Martin: (Paid subscription required)

In response to new delays to the F-35 fighter program, senior House Democrats are threatening to limit aircraft production and end the practice of adding funding for aircraft the Pentagon never requested.

The laundry list of program problems includes cost overruns, a large engine backlog at the depots, funding cuts to an already temperamental predictive maintenance system and delays to essential upgrades.

“If this program continues to fail to significantly control and reduce actual projected sustainment costs, we may need to invest in other affordable programs and backfill an operational shortfall of potentially over 800 tactical fighters,” Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), House Armed Services Committee (HASC) tactical air and land forces subcommittee chairman, said during a hearing on the F-35 program.

………

Now that Democrats control the Senate, Garamendi and Norcross may turn the tide and prevent lawmakers from increasing the F-35 quantity in future budget requests. During the fiscal 2021 budget cycle, the HASC failed to convince the other defense committees not to add extra F-35s.

………

F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, agrees with Abba’s assessment. Delays in delivering required support equipment and technical data, along with the increased work scope for F135 power module repairs, are driving the depot shortfalls, he said.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) acknowledges that the Pentagon is taking steps to increase depot repair capacity for the F135 power module, but the GAO says the number of capable aircraft will remain an issue in the near term.

………

Along with those delays, the cost of the engine is growing. The increase, likely 3% for the 15th production lot, is the result of Turkey being removed from the program after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opted to purchase the Russian-manufactured S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system.

………

Meanwhile, the F-35’s logistics system is experiencing yet another round of upheaval. The Pentagon was in the process of transitioning its Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) to a new cloud-based network, the Operational Data Integrated Network (ODIN), by 2022. But the Pentagon has directed a “strategic pause” for the move to ODIN because of a 42% funding cut in fiscal 2021.

………

Other delays plaguing the program include the slowdown of Technology Refresh 3 (TR-3) and Block 4 development. Lockheed Martin waived $60 million in fees because of the delays to TR-3, the hardware providing the F-35 additive processing power, memory and open-systems architecture. The company says the delays were caused by supplier challenges related to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Lockheed knows that they have the DoD, and particularly the USAF by the short hairs, and the "Mistake-Jet" continues to eat the operational capabilities of the USAF. 

The tail, now controlled by the contractors, is devouring the teeth.