31 January 2021

See the Democratic Party Establishment (There Is No Democratic Party Establishment) Run. Run Democratic Party Establishment (There Is No Democratic Party Establishment), Run. Run, Run, Run


When I talk about the consultancy racket among the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment), this is what I mean.

Read His Lips

$2000.00 stimulus checks are popular. Their popularity was such, even in Georgia, that it led to the Democrats taking control of the Senate.  (It was a big part of the campaigning for the runoff)

Now, the very serious people are trying to scale back and means test the stimulus to irrelevancy.

It is patently clear that this is bad policy and even worse politics.  It is George H.W. Bush's no new taxes pledge all over again:

On January 4, Joe Biden made an unequivocal pledge, telling voters that by electing Democrats to Georgia’s senate seats, “you can make an immediate difference in your own lives, the lives of people all across this country because their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check, that money that will go out the door immediately to people who are in real trouble.”

Now they are counting the $600, so $1400 is the new 2000, saying that it will take months to pass the bill, making overtures to Republicans, etc.

A little more than a decade later, the public option fight should be a harrowing cautionary tale for Biden on both the policy and the politics. He had a front-row seat in watching a bad-faith Republican opposition kill a much-needed initiative, and then use Democrats' failure to deliver to win at the polls. He of all people should know that this story never ends well.

………

The $2,000 checks initiative does not have to go down the same way the public option went down. The president and congressional Democrats do not have to do what weak-kneed, wimpy Democrats of the past have so often done. They do not have to negotiate against themselves, word-parse their way out of campaign pledges and delude themselves into thinking that Republicans are good-faith legislative partners.

They could instead try to use their election mandate — and the weakened state of the GOP — to demand full survival checks, rather than pretending that bad-faith Republican senators have any standing to make policy arguments.

The "Very Serious People" are going to "reasonable" themselves into losses in 2022 that make the 2010 blood letting look like a walk in the park.

I am Amused

Given his increasingly erratic behavior, and his reputation for stiffing his lawyers, it comes as no surprise that a majority Trump's impeachment defense team just quit on him.

I'm wondering if they got fed up over his wish to re-litigate the election, or if he was pushing to testify before the Senate. 

It does not matter, I am amused:

Former President Donald Trump's five impeachment defense attorneys have left a little more than a week before his trial is set to begin, according to people familiar with the case, amid a disagreement over his legal strategy.

It was a dramatic development in the second impeachment trial for Trump, who has struggled to find lawyers willing to take his case. And now, with legal briefs due next week and a trial set to begin only days later, Trump is clinging to his election fraud charade and suddenly finds himself without legal representation.

Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, who were expected to be two of the lead attorneys, are no longer on the team. A source familiar with the changes said it was a mutual decision for both to leave the legal team. As the lead attorney, Bowers assembled the team.

I am amused.

30 January 2021

It's Cold Out, Wear a Hat

Sharon* needed to pick up some stuff at the Wegmans in anticipation of the upcoming snowstorm, and her foot is bothering her, so I drove her there and helped her shop.

It was cold, so I wore a hat:

Yes, this is an aardvark hat.

Also, yes, Sharon* was mortified.

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

Seeing as How I Mentioned the PRO Act………

Here is a brief rundown of The PRO Act, which passed the House the last session, and died in the Senate.

The cynic in me believes that if it were not headed to certain death at the hands of Mitch McConnell, it would not have passed the house, because it is an amazingly good bill.

The high points:

  • Expands the definition of employer, to make it more difficult for employers to classify their employees as "Independent Contractors."
  • Narrows the definition of supervisor who cannot unionize.
  • Increases data reporting requirements for the NLRB.
  • Makes it illegal to threaten to shut down if unionized or to lock out workers.
  • Repeals ban on secondary strikes, secondary boycotts, and jurisdictional strikes.
  • Makes mandatory anti-union meetings illegal.
  • Requires employers to maintain existing working conditions in the event of an impasse. 
  • Sets a strict timeline for employers to negotiate with a union.
  • Allows union members to refuse to handle cargo from other business which are on strike.
  • Makes it illegal to have mandatory arbitration or forbid employees from entering class-action suits.
  • Requires employers to supply names of potential union membership voters.
  • Reduce the restrictions on what constitutes a bargaining unit.
  • Allows the union to specify the type (in person, by mail, etc) and location of a union recognition ballot.
  • Speeds up unionization elections.
  • Increases damages for unfair labor practices.
  • Expands coverage of illegal immigrant workers.
  • Makes NLRB orders self enforcing.  (Don't have to have a court ruling in addition to the NLRB decision)
  • Creates personal liability for managers and officers who engage in unfair labor practices.
  • Repeals right-to-work laws.

Given that there is actually a chance of this passing with a Democratic Senate this time around, I'm dubious that we will anything as expansive in scope hitting the floor of the house.

The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is fine with pro-labor legislation as performative legislation, but as actual law, the Blue Dogs and the New Dems have no interest in offending their corporate masters.

And In Gender Equity News

A study has shown that weakening unions increases gender inequality:

Barbara Biasi, assistant professor of economics at the Yale School of Management, recently published a study that concluded that eliminating unions increases the gender gap in wages.

She looked at data from Wisconsin, before and after Scott Walker eliminated collective bargaining rights in 2011, in his Koch-funded effort to destroy unions. 

………

Barbara Biasi, an assistant professor of economics at Yale SOM, had an opportunity to examine this question when Wisconsin passed Act 10, legislation that essentially weakened the power of teachers’ unions. Afterward, schools had much more latitude in deciding how much to pay teachers.

Five years after union agreements expired, male teachers earned about 1% more per year than female colleagues with similar experience and skills, reported Biasi and her co-author, Heather Sarsons at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The gender gap was even higher among younger teachers.

The anti-union wing of the Democratic Party (the identity politic folks) has always dismissed unions as bastions of racism and sexism, and the history clearly shows that, but dismissing unions hurts the people that they claim to want to help.

Pass the damn Pro Act, and strengthen the rights of workers to organize.

For the Love of God, I Want to See Him Testify in Full Costume

The Republicans will make sure that the Senate impeachment trial as lengthy and involved as possible, so you know that they will insist on a complete slate of witnesses and exhibits.

Well now, the Q-Anon Shaman guy is offering to testify against Trump.

If we were to put his testimony up on pay-per-view, we would pay off the federal debt:

Al Watkins, a lawyer for accused Capitol rioter Jacob Chansley, is offering his client as a witness in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Chansley is better known in popular culture as the “QAnon Shaman” or, as Watkins called him, the “guy with the horns and the fur” who was photographed raiding the U.S. Capitol Complex on Jan. 6.

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that Watkins “said it’s important for senators to hear the voice of someone who was incited by Trump.”

………

When asked whether he was offering Chansley’s testimony against Trump in the Senate with hopes of leniency, Watkins told Law&Crime via email that the answer “is a loud ‘no.'”

………

In that appearance, Watkins said Trump’s “hyperbole” and “innuendo” resulted in the attack on the Capitol which left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Two other officers who were at the Capitol that day have since died by suicide.

………

Chansley stands indicted by a federal grand jury of six counts, namely: civil disorder; obstruction of an official proceeding; entering and remaining in a restricted building; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building; violent entry and disorderly conduct in a capitol building; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capitol building. The FBI caught him after he was photographed in the Capitol and identified by the press.

Trump’s impeachment trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 8.

We know that there are not 13 Republicans who will vote to convict, so you want to be sure that as many people as possible watch them put their tongues up Trump's ass.

Having this clown testify will be must see TV.

Make the Republicans defend the indefensible in front of millions of people.

Oh, Canada!

The Canadian Parliament has passed a resolution asking that the white supremacist group the Proud Boys to be declared a terrorist organization.

I don't think that this could happen in the US, because the Republicans see the Proud Boys as a critical part of their base.

29 January 2021

Not Walking the Walk

In response to years of poor decisions by upper management, they Ohio Democratic Party is laying off most of its employees and replacing them with temps, because the new management thinks that short term MBA style thinking and abusing your employees is a good look for the Democratic Party.

This is the single stupidest thing that I've ever heard of a member of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) doing who was not working on Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential campaign:

More than half of the permanent staffers at the Ohio Democratic Party have been let go under the leadership of the party's new chairman, multiple Democratic sources have confirmed.

………

Earlier this month Democrats installed a new chairman, Liz Walters, an elected official from Summit County, to replace ex-chairman David Pepper, who decided to step down after the election.

Ms. Walters promised an overhaul of the party, which has struggled in recent statewide election cycles. Both parties are now looking ahead to a newly competitive U.S. Senate race with Rob Portman’s surprise retirement announcement and a gubernatorial race in 2022.

Sam Melendez, director of the party's Main Street Initiative, said on Twitter on Friday that he was being let go. The program he headed was started in 2015 to recruit and train local candidates.

………

The party's data department staffers are among those also let go, sources say.

Yeah, outsourcing your IT to high priced consultants always results in lower costs and more effective services, said no one ever.

Employees were laid off with no more than a week's notice and no severance, sources say, and the staffers being let go are expected to be replaced with independent contractors in a bid to save money.

………

"I have a bunch of information to share with stakeholders before I comment to the press," [Liz Walters] said.

………

In 2018 the Ohio Democratic Party became the first state party to recognize a chapter of the Campaign Workers Guild, which represented seasonal campaign organizers during the 2018 midterm election who sought better pay and working conditions.

Interesting factoid at the end, and I can't help but wonder if maybe this is about taking out the union as well.

Outsource the seasonal campaign organizers to a Washington consultancy group, and let them treat your workers like shit, because this is what the Democratic Party is all about in Ohio, I guess.

Hypocrites and morons.

This Man Deserves a Raise and a 10 Year Contract


I have no idea whether or not Brian Williams knew that this was coming, or someone in the control room decided to take their piss, but this is fucking beautiful.

28 January 2021

You Heard About that Insurrection?

We are now seeing evidence that the conspirators began planning in November, which makes the whole "Seditious Conspiracy," charges a lot easier to prove.

If they manage to flip some of these folks, I think that we are going to see the names from the Trump Administration or Trump Campaign to come up:

Three self-styled militia members charged in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol began soliciting recruits for potential violence within days of the 2020 presidential election, later training in Ohio and North Carolina and organizing travel to Washington with a busload of comrades and a truck of weapons, U.S. authorities alleged Wednesday.

A four-count indictment returned in D.C. laid out fresh details and allegations against Jessica Marie Watkins, 38, and Donovan Ray Crowl, 50 — both of Woodstock, Ohio — and Thomas E. Caldwell, 66, of Berryville, Va. The three, all U.S. military veterans, are accused of conspiring to obstruct Congress and other counts, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

………

Real-time conversations recovered from a walkie-talkie-style app captured Watkins discussing a group of about 30 to 40 “sticking together and sticking to the plan” during the breach, according to court documents previously filed in the case.

In a 15-page indictment unsealed Wednesday, prosecutors revealed new allegations, accusing Watkins of contacting recruits on Nov. 9, six days after the election, for a “Basic Training” camp outside Columbus, Ohio, in early January so they would be “fighting fit by innaugeration.” Prosecutors also allege that Watkins participated in a “leadership only” conference call via an encrypted app, and that Caldwell arranged with another person bringing “at least one full bus 40+ people coming from N.C.” and weaponry ahead of Jan. 6.

………

In a phone interview last week, Rhodes said Caldwell helped “Stop the Steal” protesters navigate arriving in D.C. for a protest in November but that Caldwell is not a dues-paying member of Oath Keepers and does not hold any leadership position in the organization. Rhodes said he did not know Caldwell to be taking any action on Jan. 6 on behalf of Oath Keepers.

Rhodes said Watkins is a member in Oath Keepers.

In their planning, according to prosecutors, the group cited the perceived direction of President Donald Trump, embracing his false claims of election fraud and readying for a fight in apocalyptic terms.

“Trump wants all able-bodied Patriots to come” to the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, Watkins is quoted as saying on Dec. 29.

“If Trump activates the Insurrection Act, I’d hate to miss it,” she added, according to the indictment.

Asked earlier by a recruit what to prepare for, Watkins allegedly wrote in November that if Biden became president, “our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as AmericIans to fight, kill and die for our rights.”

I would be stunned if Trump associates (Roger Stone?) was not involved in this.

Initial Unemployment Claims and 2020 GDP Today

Unemployment claims fell by 61,000 to a still horrifyingly high 847,000 and US GDP fell by 3.5% in 2020, the most since the 1946 demobilization.

This is with about $4 trillion in emergency stimulus legislation.

And now we are rushing way too fast to rolling back pandemic measures, which is going to lead another round of shutdowns as ICUs fill up.

We are fucked.

27 January 2021

Sikorsky-Boeing Takes Wraps Off Defiant X Design For U.S. Army’s FLRAA | Aviation Week Network


Much Smaller Footprint than a Tilt Rotor

After putting out a representative demonstrator, Sikorsky has revealed off of its Defiant-X helicopter for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program.

It does not achieve the same speeds as the tilt-rotor competitor V-280 Valor from Bell, 280 kt (520 km/h) from the Bell offering as versus and 250 kt (465 km/h) for the coaxial compound helicopter, but its footprint on the ground and on takeoff and landing, and its agility during takeoff and landing should be significantly greater than the V-280.

Also, the helicopter should be significantly more agile during takeoff, landing, and autorotation, because of lower disk loading.

One lingering uncertainty surrounding the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft has centered on the service’s ultimate requirements for the advanced rotorcraft that will replace its Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters.

When the Army launched the precursor Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) program in 2013, it provided industry with a “model performance specification”—placeholder requirements that would allow them to begin designing an aircraft.

The result was a pair of 30,000-lb. gross-weight-class demonstrators—the 280-kt. Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor and 250-kt. Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant, a coaxial rigid-rotor compound helicopter—both substantially larger and faster than the 22,000-lb. gross-weight UH-60M they are designed to replace.

Now, almost halfway through the CDRR phase, the answer to that lingering question about the Army’s requirements may be becoming clearer. The Sikorsky-Boeing team has taken the wraps off its Defiant X offering for FLRAA, and the design differs only in detail externally from the SB-1 now in flight test.

In terms of overall size, the Defiant X has the same operational footprint as the demonstrator, says Jay Macklin, Sikorsky’s director of Future Vertical Lift business development. The Defiant X also fits within the operational footprint of the Black Hawk, which the FLRAA is intended to replace beginning in 2030.

The Defiant X design has been optimized to meet Army requirements for survivability, maneuverability and agility in the objective area, or “at the X,” says Macklin, so that troops can be landed and offloaded quickly and safely during an air assault.

I favor the coaxial helicopter over the tilt rotor.

It seems simpler and safer.

Today in Great Opening Sentences

Like fetid sludge seeping from a clogged storm drain, former White House Press Secretary and Wicked Witch of the Lies Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the first Trump accomplice to announce she's running for office, in her case as governor of Arkansas.
Abby Zimet on Common Dreams

Seriously, Abby, stop pussy-footing around and tell us how you REALLY feel.

Destroying Wall Street for the Lulz


This is Beautiful


The Hedge Funds are Pissants


Too True


The inevitable sea shanty


The real bottom line

It appears that a bunch of Redditors have taken down at least 2 hedge funds, and on one side are the titans of Wall Street saying something must be done to stop this, and on the other side is literally everyone else in the world, who are pointing and laughing:

GameStop’s stock price continued to soar in after-hours trading last night to over $300. While many are waiting for it to come crashing back down, it might be too late for some major hedge funds. With the stock still sitting at well over $250 a share (unthinkable just last year when it was trading at under $5) after the market reopened, Melvin Capital, one of the largest hedge funds betting against the company, is reportedly getting out of the game after suffering major losses, seemingly driven out by amateurs trading on their phones and joking on Reddit in what continues to be one of the most bizarre stories of 2021 so far.

“Melvin Capital closed out its short position in GameStop on Tuesday afternoon after taking a huge loss,” the fund’s manager told CNBC this morning.

The firm, which was worth about $12.5 billion before the battle between short sellers and Redditors began, bet big against GameStop and a number of other companies, only to see 30% of the fund disappear over the last few days. That prompted other billionaires to swoop in and lend Melvin $2.75 billion to help cover the losses. Andrew Left, a notorious short-seller activist, also announced in a new YouTube video today that his investment firm moved away from most of its bets against GameStop’s stock at “a loss of 100%.”

………

Meanwhile, the ensuing chaos caused GameStop stock trading to be temporarily halted yet again this morning and caused outages on the trading app Robinhood. Other companies like Blackberry and AMC are also seeing smaller, though still dramatic stock climbs, as Reddit traders attempt to go boost other companies massively shorted by big hedge funds.

All of this is the culmination of a long game that’s been brewing on the WallStreetBets subreddit for a while now as amateur day traders decided to turn the misfortunes of a floundering brick-and-mortar game seller into their cause celebre for dunking on professional investment firms. In some ways it’s a very complicated story driven by the weird mechanics of Wall Street, but in other ways it’s a familiar tale of extremely online people trying to stick it to someone, in part to make a buck, but also for the “lulz.” Here’s a quick rundown of how things got here.

Short version:  A bunch or Redditors, seeing that the moribund console game store GameStop was the most shorted stock in America, decided to take down said short sellers by bidding up the price and creating a "Short Squeeze".

The mechanism is such that the hedge funds are incredibly exposed to this, and at least one had to be bailed out by other Wall Street Parasites because it was essentially insolvent.

What's more, it appears that the same thing is happening with AMC Theaters, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Blackberry as I am typing this. (Scroll down) 

One thing that is not clear at this point is whether some other hedge fund type entity might be involved in this on the other side, though even if they did, they have done nothing illegal, since the information, "Let's do it for the lulz," is both accurate and publicly available.

One thing that is clear at this point is that this entire affair is showing most of the short selling activity out there serves no useful purpose, and that the arguments in favor of it, basically that shorting stocks create a financial incentive aggressive due diligence of companies, are 6 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag.

It is one step removed from the infamous Bucket Shops of the early 1900s.

26 January 2021

Nope, No Conspiracy Here

So, now we discover that the civilian administration of the Pentagon forbade the head of the Washington, DC National Guard for initiating any action in the event that the January 6 protests went pear shaped.

It sounds to me like the White House had a lot more foreknowledge of the Capitol Insurrection, and they the manipulated the instruments of the state for foment those actions.

I'm thinking that former Army Secretary McCarthy has got a lot of  'splainin' to do:

The commander of the D.C. National Guard said the Pentagon restricted his authority ahead of the riot at the U.S. Capitol, requiring higher-level sign-off to respond that cost time as the events that day spiraled out of control.

Local commanders typically have the power to take military action on their own to save lives or prevent significant property damage in an urgent situation when there isn’t enough time to obtain approval from headquarters.

But Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard, said the Pentagon essentially took that power and other authorities away from him ahead of the short-lived insurrection on Jan. 6. That meant he couldn’t immediately roll out troops when he received a panicked phone call from the Capitol Police chief warning that rioters were about to enter the U.S. Capitol.

“All military commanders normally have immediate response authority to protect property, life, and in my case, federal functions — federal property and life,” Walker said in an interview. “But in this instance I did not have that authority.”

Walker and former Army secretary Ryan D. McCarthy, along with other top officials, briefed the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday behind closed doors about the events, the beginning of what is likely to become a robust congressional inquiry into the preparations for a rally that devolved into a riot at the Capitol, resulting in five people dead and representing a significant security failure.

………

But the restrictions the Pentagon placed on Walker also contributed to the delay. He needed to wait for approval from McCarthy and acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller before dispatching troops, even though some 40 soldiers were on standby as a quick reaction force. That standby force had been assembled in case the few hundred Guard members deployed that day on the District’s streets to assist police with traffic control and crowd management needed help, Walker said.

………

McCarthy said he worked hard to ensure authority was pushed back down the chain of command to Walker ahead of the inauguration, during which Walker oversaw the 25,600 troops that came to the District. As for the preparations ahead of Jan. 6, McCarthy said, “It was everyone just being very careful. When you go back to times when we’ve done this, like June, we wanted to make sure we were very careful about the employment — careful about fragmentary orders.”

Had he not been restricted, Walker said he could have dispatched members of the D.C. Guard sooner. Asked how quickly troops could have reached the Capitol, which is two miles from the D.C. Guard headquarters at the Armory, Walker said, “With all deliberate speed — I mean, they’re right down the street.”

………

Walker recalled how Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who has since resigned, asked him on a call in the run-up to Jan. 6 to have National Guard troops at the ready.

“All he said was, ‘If I call you, will you be able to help?’ ” Walker said. “And I said, ‘Yes, but I need permission. So send a formal request,’ and I never got it, until after the fact.”

The request came, but only at 1:49 p.m. the day of the attempted insurrection. Sund called Walker to say rioters were about to breach the building and the Capitol Police would soon request urgent backup.

“I told him I had to get permission from the secretary of the Army and I would send him all available guardsmen but as soon as I got permission to do so,” Walker said. “I sent a message to the leadership of the Army, letting them know the request that I had received from Chief Sund.”

Permission from the Pentagon to activate the full D.C. Guard wouldn’t come for another hour and fifteen minutes, according to a Defense Department timeline of events, as members of Congress barricaded themselves in their offices and hid from a marauding horde trying to undo the results of the Nov. 3 election. It would take nearly three hours before Miller authorized the D.C. Guard to “re-mission” and help the Capitol Police establish a perimeter around the Capitol.

………

In an interview with The Post, Sund recalled Army staff director, Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, saying, “I don’t like the visual of the National Guard standing a police line with the Capitol in the background.”

Piatt, in a statement, initially said he didn’t make those remarks or any comments similar to them. Later, he backtracked, saying he didn’t recall citing such concerns but note-takers in the room told him he may have said that. Piatt, who wasn’t in the chain of command, was leading the call while waiting for the Army secretary to receive approval for the full activation of the D.C. Guard from Miller.

………

Memos obtained by The Post show how tightly the Pentagon restricted Walker ahead of the events.

In a Jan. 5 memo, the Army secretary, who is Walker’s direct superior in the chain of command, prohibited him from deploying the quick reaction force composed of 40 soldiers on his own and said any rollout of that standby group would first require a “concept of operation,” an exceptional requirement given that the force is supposed to respond to emergencies.

McCarthy was also restricted by his superior, Miller. In a Jan. 4 memo, McCarthy was prohibited from deploying D.C. Guard members with weapons, helmets, body armor or riot control agents without defense secretary approval. McCarthy retained the power to deploy the quick reaction force “only as a last resort.”

It's patently clear that the civilian leadership of the Pentagon, and possibly elements of the uniformed services, intended to hamstring an effective response against a a violent protest against the electoral vote certification.

What needs to be known now is how the White House passed these directives down the chain of command.

It's important for the impeachment.

I, for One, Welcome Our New Inflatable Rat Overlords

Now that Joe Biden has fired corrupt National Labor Relations Board general counsel Peter Robb, it appears that Scabby the Rat is safe for now.

Robb, a former union busting lawyer, has been on a jihad against the union mascot Scabby the Rate, First Amendment be damned.

Hopefully, the new NLRB council won't be such a corrupt unethical bastard:

The fate of Scabby the Rat is up in the air after President Joe Biden forced out National Labor Relations Board general counsel Peter Robb, who had made it one of his top priorities to deflate the union protest symbol, and tapped a new acting general counsel on Monday.

In one of his first acts after taking office Jan. 20, Biden sent the Trump-appointed Robb and deputy NLRB general counsel Alice Stock packing. On Monday, Biden tapped NLRB Chicago regional director Peter Sung Ohr to be acting general counsel.

Legal experts say those shake-ups could mean the end of Robb's attempt to muzzle the rat based on a legal theory that unions violate the National Labor Relations Act when they deploy the fanged, red-eyed rodent in so-called secondary boycotts.

………


And the general counsel has the authority to decide which cases can continue to proceed before the board, said Alyssa Busse, a union-side attorney at Allison Slutsky & Kennedy PC, which could mean the end of cases that seek to upend precedent protecting the inflatable pest.

"Even though the general counsel is separate from the board, the general counsel still has significant influence on which cases are brought before the board," Busse said.

………


The general counsel's office is challenging an NLRB administrative judge's ruling that the display, which shamed Lippert "for harboring rat contractors," may have embarrassed company officials but did not block customers or workers. Robb wanted the board to consider doing away with two Obama era decisions that gave workers the right to use banners and Scabby during secondary protests as long as they were not confrontational or disruptive.

In October, the NLRB sought public input on whether it "should alter its standard" and limit workers' rights to display the rat and banners during secondary protests.

Those comments, now submitted to the board, put the case even closer to a decision that could upend the current law, clarify it or leave it untouched.

………


But a more likely path is that the acting general counsel will drop the case against Lippert Components, according to Andrew D. Midgen, an attorney at labor-side firm Pitta LLP.

"Even though the [Lippert] case is fully briefed, the acting GC has the authority to withdraw the complaint. There are good grounds within the NLRA and Supreme Court precedent that decides prosecutorial and adjudicatory decision-making within the agency," Midgen said. "As long as it's a prosecutorial decision, then the final authority rests within the acting GC. The decision as to whether to pursue a complaint is a prosecutorial decision."

Whether the board issues a decision on the Lippert case, or another case pending at the board over Scabby, Ohr could also change the guidance to NLRB regional offices on how to handle relevant cases and what legal theories they must pursue, experts said.

Robb's office issued multiple memos in recent years ordering regional offices to pursue cases in which unions allegedly violated the NLRA by using the rat and other long-recognized symbols of labor protests that often pop up during union demonstrations.

Here's hoping that this is the beginning of a trend.

One of the worst things that Obama did when he got into office was to knife labor in the back by abandoning the  the Employee Free Choice Act.

It was horrible policy, and worse politics.

Holy Shit! He's Launching the Orbital Laser Satellites!

I am referring to Elon Musk, who is in the process of adding lasers to his massive StarLink internet satellite constellation.

I understand thatthe official line is that this a technology that involves communications capability, and no ability to do damage, but he would say that, wouldn't he

Let's look at the check list:

  • Trace of a vaguely German accent
  • Eccentric megalomaniac
  • Massive wealth
  • Space lasers
  • Expensive cars
  • Legions of fanatical followers
  • White Persian cat

For the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, hide the Persian Cats!!!!

Of course, I know that the added lasers are to facilitate satellite to satellite communications, and that they are not a part of any weapons system ……… Yet.

But you have to admit that the Bond Villain aspects of Musk's life are striking.

25 January 2021

Bill Gates is now a Mass Murderer

Oxford promised to make their vaccine open source, and then Bill Gates strong-armed them into selling exclusive rights to AstraZeneca, because Bill Gates is philosophically opposed to the free exchange of information.

There will be tens of thousands of people will die of Covid-19, particularly in poor countries, because open source gives him butt-hurt.

Next time you see Bill Gates, ask him why he decided to kill thousands.

More chilling is that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is dedicated to promulgating his twisted view of public health on the rest of the world:

In a business driven by profit, vaccines have a problem. They’re not very profitable — at least not without government subsidies. Pharma companies favor expensive medicines that must be taken repeatedly and generate revenue for years or decades. Vaccines are often given only once or twice. In many parts of the world, established vaccines cost a few dollars per dose or less.

Last year only four companies were making vaccines for the U.S. market, down from more than 20 in the 1970s. As recently as Feb. 11, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, complained that no major drug company had committed to “step up” to make a coronavirus vaccine, calling the situation “very difficult and frustrating.”

Oxford University surprised and pleased advocates of overhauling the vaccine business in April by promising to donate the rights to its promising coronavirus vaccine to any drugmaker.

………

A few weeks later, Oxford—urged on by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—reversed course. It signed an exclusive vaccine deal with AstraZeneca that gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights and no guarantee of low prices—with the less-publicized potential for Oxford to eventually make millions from the deal and win plenty of prestige.

………

Even as governments shower money on an industry that has not made vaccines a priority in the past, critics say, failure to alter the basic model means drug industry executives and their shareholders will get rich with no assurance that future vaccines will be inexpensively available to all.

“If there were ever an opportunity” to change the economics of vaccine development, “this would have been it,” said Ameet Sarpatwari, an epidemiologist and lawyer at Harvard Medical School who studies drug-pricing regulation. Instead, “it is business as usual, where the manufacturers are getting exclusive rights and we are hoping on the basis of public sentiment that they will price their products responsibly.”

………

Oxford backed off from its open-license pledge after the Gates Foundation urged it to find a big-company partner to get its vaccine to market.

“We went to Oxford and said, Hey, you’re doing brilliant work,” Bill Gates told reporters on June 3, a transcript shows. “But … you really need to team up.” The comments were first reported by Bloomberg.

AstraZeneca, one of the U.K.’s two major pharma companies, may have demanded an exclusive license in return for doing a deal, said Ken Shadlen, a professor at the London School of Economics and an authority on pharma patents—a theory supported by comments from CEO Soriot.

“I think IP [intellectual property, or exclusive patents] is a fundamental part of our industry and if you don’t protect IP, then essentially there is no incentive for anybody to innovate,” Soriot told the newspaper The Telegraph in May.

Some see the Gates Foundation, a heavy funder of Gavi, CEPI and many other vaccine projects, as supporting traditional patent rights for pharma companies.

“[Bill] Gates has staked out this outsized role in the vaccine world,” Love said. “He has an ideological belief that the intellectual property system is a wonderful mechanism that is necessary for innovation and prosperity.”

In just the next year, it is clear Bill Gates will ultimately be responsible for more deaths than Osama bin Laden was on 9/11.

Tweet of the Day


Just so you know, as New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and columnist Tom Friedman does not, Larry Hogan is still governor of Maryland, where Friedman lives.

Seriously, Tom "The Mustache of Inanity" Friedman has finally exceeded the capacity for others to mock him.

Maybe he should get a Pulitzer for self-mockery.

Impeach ……… Again

Let's be clear, inciting sedition, even if it might be protected by the 1st amendment, and I am not sure, I am an engineer, not a lawyer dammit,* but it can still be a legitimate charge for an impeachment.

So I do approve of the new impeachment charges that the House just delivered to the Senate.

If he is convicted, he loses his pension, and his secret service protection, and it would likely result in his being forbidden from holding office ever again.

I will note that impeachment is, and has always been intended to be, a political process in addition to being a quasi-judicial process, and the Democrats must jam up the Republicans as much as is humanly possible.

Make them pay for their obsequious prevarication with regard to Trump:

Nine House managers walked across the Capitol to inform the Senate that they were ready to prosecute the former president for “incitement of insurrection.” And the Justice Department opens inquiry into an “improper attempt” by officials to overturn the presidential election.
At this point, even many members of the "Q Collective" have realized that Trump screwed them, and in the still quite spaces the Republican establishment wants him gone too.

Making this establishment go to the mat for an inverted traffic cone is just desserts.

 *I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!
Yes, I know, it's kind of a stretch, but I cannot resist going all Dr. McCoy.

Linkage

What crimes were committed when the Capitol was stormed?  A lawyer has the answers:

24 January 2021

Today in Schadenfreude

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that Alex Jones can be sued for libel by parents of the Sandy Hook mass shooting victims.  (Also various other sundry people that he accused of being false flag actors)

It was enough of a slam dunk that they did not even bother to write an opinion:

An empire built on conjecture, conspiracy and a series of fake homeopathic cures for various ailments stands to be sued into oblivion after a Friday ruling by the Supreme Court of Texas.

Without comment, the Lone Star State’s highest civil court found that America’s foremost conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, and his flagship media outlet, InfoWars, are subject to liability in four separate defamation lawsuits filed over the past two-plus years. Those lawsuits were filed by parents of children who were killed during the Sandy Hook massacre and by a man Jones and his network falsely identified as the perpetrator of the Parkland massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

………

Immediately after the 2012 shooting that left 20 children and six teachers dead in Newtown, Connecticut, Jones used his by-then vast platform to spread the idea that the murders were part of a “false flag” operation meant to scare the population into giving up their guns and Second Amendment rights. Jones also smeared the parents of the dead children, calling them “crisis actors.” None of those claims were true but the pernicious ideas gained traction among the easily-influenced.

………

“Our clients have been tormented for five years by Mr. Jones’ ghoulish accusations that they are actors who faked their children’s deaths as part of a fraud on the American people,” Bankston said in a statement at the time, “Enough is enough.”

………

Marcel Fontane, a Massachusetts resident who has never been to Florida, also sued Jones and InfoWars during the spring of 2018 after being singled out by Jones and InfoWars reporter Kit Daniels–falsely accusing him of being the Parkland shooter in a vain attempt to link the massacre to the political far-left. The outlet also published a photograph of Fontaine wearing a satirical t-shirt depicting several former Communist historical figures.

Here's hoping that they take him for all he has.

To quote Billie Ray Velentine from the movie Trading Places, "You know, it occurs to me that the best way to hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people."

H/t Ecop at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Fuck Me, I Agree With Pat Buchanan's Rag

At the American Conservative, they write, "Don't Let the Riots Legitimize Facial Recognition Tech," and they are correct.

Law enforcement has an endless appetite for expansion of their powers, and will always do so.

Letting the Capitol insurrection to give additional powers to the US State Security Apparatus is a bad idea, particularly given the predilection of law enforcement to ignore right wing terrorists to go after left wing protesters.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

In response to the Supreme Court ruling Carpenter v. United States in 2018, whcih stated that law enforcement had to get a warrant to track people via their cell phones, elements of the US State Security Apparatus are purchasing exactly the same data from commercial suppliers without a warrant.

We need to make it illegal for US law enforcement to get private data from commercial suppliers that would otherwise require a warrant, if just because it would knock the pins out from underneath literal vampire* capitalist Peter Thiel's business plan for Palantir.

Purchasing commercial information should not be allowed to be an excuse for using commercial vendor as a cut-out to the 4th amendment:

A military arm of the intelligence community buys commercially available databases containing location data from smartphone apps and searches it for Americans’ past movements without a warrant, according to an unclassified memo obtained by The New York Times.

Defense Intelligence Agency analysts have searched for the movements of Americans within a commercial database in five investigations over the past two and a half years, agency officials disclosed in a memo they wrote for Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.

The disclosure sheds light on an emerging loophole in privacy law during the digital age: In a landmark 2018 ruling known as the Carpenter decision, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution requires the government to obtain a warrant to compel phone companies to turn over location data about their customers. But the government can instead buy similar data from a broker — and does not believe it needs a warrant to do so.

“D.I.A. does not construe the Carpenter decision to require a judicial warrant endorsing purchase or use of commercially available data for intelligence purposes,” the agency memo said.

Mr. Wyden has made clear that he intends to propose legislation to add safeguards for Americans’ privacy in connection with commercially available location data. In a Senate speech this week, he denounced circumstances “in which the government, instead of getting an order, just goes out and purchases the private records of Americans from these sleazy and unregulated commercial data brokers who are simply above the law.”

………

It has been known that the government sometimes uses such data for law enforcement purposes on domestic soil.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year about law enforcement agencies using such data. In particular, it found, two agencies in the Department of Homeland Security — Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection — have used the data in patrolling the border and investigating immigrants who were later arrested.

………

The military has also been known to sometimes use location data for intelligence purposes.

In November, Vice’s Motherboard tech blog reported that Muslim Pro, a Muslim prayer and Quran app, had sent its users’ location data to a broker called X-Mode that in turn sold it to defense contractors and the U.S. military. Muslim Pro then said it would stop sharing data with X-Mode, and Apple and Google said they would ban apps that use the company’s tracking software from phones running their mobile operating systems.

………

Mr. Wyden’s coming legislation on the topic appears likely to be swept into a larger surveillance debate that flared in Congress last year before it temporarily ran aground after erratic statements by President Donald J. Trump, as he stoked his grievances over the Russia investigation, threatening to veto the bill and not making clear what would satisfy him.

The the 4th amendment should never be for sale.

*I do mean this characterization of Thiel literally.  He is literally a vampire who wants to use the blood of the young to extend his lifespan.

23 January 2021

A Real Vote of Confidence in the F-35

Following the decision to acquire new-build F-15s for the USAF for the first time in 16 years, the news that the U.S. Air Force is discussing additional purchases of the F-16 as well must be seen as evidence that the force is less than enamored of the performance of the F-35 at this point:

U.S. Air Force officials are talking about ordering new Lockheed Martin F-16s two decades after signing the last production contract.

A review of the tactical aircraft portfolio now underway is set to deliver another Air Force acquisition shake-up in the fiscal 2023 budget request, with F-16s, Boeing F-15EXs, a new breed of so-called attritable aircraft and a next-generation fighter competing for a pool of production funding once monopolized by Lockheed’s F-35A.

………

U.S. Air Force officials are talking about ordering new Lockheed Martin F-16s two decades after signing the last production contract.

A review of the tactical aircraft portfolio now underway is set to deliver another Air Force acquisition shake-up in the fiscal 2023 budget request, with F-16s, Boeing F-15EXs, a new breed of so-called attritable aircraft and a next-generation fighter competing for a pool of production funding once monopolized by Lockheed’s F-35A.

Call me a cynic, but my guess is that the Air Force took a look at the costs of maintaining and operating an all F-35 fleet, and realized that it was simply not possible.

The reasons for the shift in resources has evolved in public statements over time. When Air Force officials requested funding in 2019 to order the first eight of up to 144 new F-15EXs, they justified the unexpected move as a response to an urgent need. Recent inspections had determined that an aging fleet of F-15Cs require new wings to remain airworthy, and the existing training pipeline and infrastructure made F-15EXs a more expedient option than the F-35A.

But the tactical aircraft fleet review could establish a permanent combat role for nonstealthy fighters for decades to come. The F-15EX not only represents a convenient option for an urgent F-15C replacement, but its centerline weapon station with a 7,500-lb. load capacity also may fill a gap in the Air Force’s force structure for a tactical aircraft that can carry a rocket-boosted hypersonic glide vehicle.

………

Roper also put Lockheed on notice about the Air Force’s frustration with the F-35A’s sustainment costs. Lockheed has committed to reducing the average hourly cost to operate the F-35A to $25,000 by 2025, a roughly 25% reduction compared to 2018 levels. But as his resignation approached, Roper was not satisfied with the pace of the reduction, as the Air Force seeks to add new F-35s to the fleet at an annual rate of 48-60 jets a year.
I believe that the technical term for this is overpriced and under-performing.

Yeah, Me Too


A throw away tweet


My throw away response

I agree with Mike Caulfield statement on Twitter's take-down and appeals process,  that it is arbitrary, opaque, and the subject has no inkling as to the process.

I would not be writing about this, except that this happened to me.

About a week ago, I got locked out of Twitter for a post I made in June.

Someone posted a sign a McDonald's which appears to state that they are out of happy meals, though they use the term "Boy Toys."

The poster suggested that he was sad, because he wanted his "twinks", a slang term for young, and young appearing, gay men.

My response was that he was being "Homonormative, (a play on the term "Heteronormative") and that "Wymyn" (An 80s radical feminist spelling for "Woman") might want their "Boy Toys" as well.

It was pretty anodyne, though every 2 weeks of so, it showed up in someone's feed, and they would ask, "What the heck is Wymyn?"

When I got the ban, I appealed the decision, which was likely automated, and was probably driven by someone flagging it.  (No accounting for humor, I guess)

That I got a Twitter Timeout™ was actually kind of  a thrill, I have been in a bit of a competition with my son Charlie after Twitter flagged him for suggesting that Meghan McCain do something anatomically dubious with a cactus.

I submitted an appeal, and then nothing happened.

After 4 days of not being able to access twitter, I deleted the tweet.

But just before I deleted the tweet, I came across Mr. Caulfield's essay, and I agree with his assessment of the appeals process:

So that would be my recommendation to Twitter. Either cancel the appeals process, apply it narrowly to suspensions, or speed it up. At the very least, inform people engaging in it what the average time for resolution is. And while my suspension probably won’t derail national or international efforts against COVID-19, I can’t help but think of all the medical researchers and public policy people out there using Twitter to communicate and collaborate. So as much as Twitter seems to think any deference to academic culture is a thumb on the scale, I really hope they can have someone write up a list of experts more important than me and take a bit more care before they ban them. I assume what I was hit with was based on a programmatic scan, not trolls gaming reporting. But the anti-vaccine trolls are out there and I know they are reporting the heck out of anyone that gets in their way. If Twitter doesn’t make a nominal effort to protect those researchers, there will be much more high-profile (and damaging) bannings to come.

(Incidentally the fact that the report does not actually tell me if I have been banned by a programmatic scan –having 5g and vaccines in the same tweet — or via a report is very bad in terms of both transparency and utility. I actually need to know whether it is a troll report or algorithm. If it’s an algorithm, it’s a lightning strike, and I go on the way I have. If the trolls have found me, that’s a different problem, and one I need to be alerted to.)

When we talk about the size of the online giants, what is frequently ignored is the generally poor quality of user* services. 

Terms and services are poorly written, arbitrarily enforced, and completely lacking in any measurable human involvement.

It would not be at all unreasonable to require that the large online service sites to provide clearer processes, along with the ability to contact an actual human being.

The quality of the services would improve, at least from the end user perspective, and it would make the enormous scale that entities like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have achieved more expensive, which might aid smaller challengers and mitigate against further growth.

*They not customers, the advertisers are the customers, the users are the product.

Without Racism, the Right is Nothing

WaPo writer Phillip Bump defends Joe Biden from accusations that targeting racism is in fact an attack on the whole right wing movement in an essay titled, "Biden’s targeting of racist extremism is being portrayed as an attack on the right itself."

The ever-racist Rand Paul has accused Biden's of, "Calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book."

Paul is saying that, "Biden thinks Republicans are racist liars."

I think that Joe Biden's entire political career shows that he is willing to work with Republicans, and he does not think that they are [all] racists liars.

This is complete bullshit.  It is clear that Biden's efforts and  pronouncements are a NOT apart of deliberate effort to demonize and perhaps prosecute the his political opposition.

His entire career mitigates against this accusation.  Biden has always gone along to get along with the most contemptible people in politics.

However, there is a way that Rand Paul's accusation IS accurate.

Specifically, it should be noted that the modern conservative movement, at least back to the days of William F. Buckley's endorsements of segregation (And arguably as far back as the founding of the Republic), racism has been inseparable from the political right in the United States.

It is transparently obvious that meaningful sustained efforts to fight racism in will necessarily target the right wing.

Short version of this argument:  If Rand Paul is concerned that Joe Biden's fighting racism is an attack on him, then Rand Paul needs to stop being a racist dirt-bag.

22 January 2021

A Question for My Older Brother



Do you find this characterization, that "The East Coast is kind but not nice, the West Coast is nice but not kind," to be accurate?

I do know that you have been less than enamored of the culture of the West Coast at times.

I Do Not Approve

The 7 year interval between leaving the service and being able to become Secretary of Defense is there for a reason, to ensure that the Department of Defense is under civilian controls.

It has only been waived twice before, for George Marshall in 1950, and James Mathis in 2017, and now Lloyd Austin has been confirmed as SecDef less than 5 years after leaving the service.

I do not approve.

This limit was put in place for a good reason, that you do not want the inmates running the asylum, but not it appears that this is likely to become a common state of affairs:

The Senate on Friday confirmed Lloyd J. Austin III as defense secretary, filling a critical national security position in President Biden’s cabinet and elevating him as the first Black Pentagon chief.

The 93-2 vote came a day after Congress granted Mr. Austin, a retired four-star Army general, a special waiver to hold the post, which is required for any defense secretary who has been out of active-duty military service for less than seven years. It reflected a bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill that it was urgent for Mr. Biden to have his defense pick rapidly installed, a step normally taken on a new president’s first day.

That Mr. Austin is not the first black SecDef not matter.

This is corrosive of civilian control of the military.

Oops!


An Emily Litella moment for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer worthy of his niece Amy Schumer.

Note to self:  Don't confuse the words, "Insurrection," and "Erection."

You Cannot Blog Without Memes


The Original


The Final Frontier


Meme2
Bernie Sanders showed up at the inaugeration as ……… well ……… Bernie Sanders, in a coat and mittens that he has worn for quite some time and a high order meme detonation occurred:
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is a fierce advocate of fair wages and a former presidential candidate who lost the Democratic nomination to now-President Biden. And thanks to his practical clothing choices he is also now the center of a seemingly endless flood of altered pictures that dominated some corners of the internet in the hours after Mr. Biden’s socially distanced inauguration on Wednesday.

Amid the dark suits and bright coats dotting the Capitol steps, Mr. Sanders was photographed sitting masked, cross-legged and bundled up in a bulky coat and mittens against the frigid weather in Washington, D.C. Soon after, the image, taken by the photographer Brendan Smialowski for Getty Images, began to circulate on social media inserted into a wide array of photographs and scenes from movies and artworks.

On a day all about Mr. Biden, it was in some ways appropriate that Mr. Sanders, whose strongest political support in the presidential race came from young voters, would nonetheless be the star of the day’s biggest meme by doing nothing but sitting and crossing his arms. In their primary competition, Mr. Sanders enjoyed a significantly larger online following than Mr. Biden, especially among those who often communicate through memes.

Though other memes starring Mr. Sanders were often used to say something — he wore what appears to be the same coat in a 2019 fund-raising video in which he is “once again asking for your financial support,” a line that has been repurposed in a litany of ways — there was no such deeper meaning to the newest meme. Instead of using his image to make an argument, he was simply placed into new contexts, with his pose, outfit and expression themselves serving as the joke.
Just a quick note, if you think that those mittens are fabulous, and they are, don't contact the teacher who made them as a gift asking for some, she has a day job.
BuzzFeed News reported that Mr. Sanders got his mittens from Jen Ellis, a second-grade teacher in Essex Junction, Vt., who made gloves on the side. She said she sent him a pair after he lost a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

Ms. Ellis tweeted that the mittens were made from repurposed wool and lined with fleece.

In an interview with CBS, Mr. Sanders laughed off the attention.

“In Vermont, we dress, we know something about the cold,” he told Gayle King. “And we’re not so concerned about good fashion. We just want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today.”
The reason that  this meme has exploded is because, as Bradley Whitford notes, "They know he would have worn exactly the same thing if he had won the presidency. "

21 January 2021

It's Jobless Thursday

US initial unemployment claims fell by 26,000 to 900,000 last week, and the4-week moving average rose to 848,000 from 824500.

These are not good numbers by any measure:

About 900,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits last week as the labor market struggles to recover this winter.

The number of jobless claims last week was down slightly from the week ended Jan. 9, when applications jumped by more than 100,000 to 926,000. The Labor Department said the increase for the Jan. 9 week—initially estimated as the largest weekly increase since March—was smaller than previously thought.

Jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, remain above the pre-pandemic peak of 695,000 and are higher than in any previous recession for records tracing back to 1967.

“Covid hasn’t let up, and it’s still creating massive amounts of economic havoc,” AnnElizabeth Konkel, economist at jobs site Indeed, said.

As Covid-19 infections increased into the winter, states and localities imposed new capacity restrictions on businesses such as restaurants. Further, some consumers remain hesitant to eat indoors, travel or go to a movie theater, reducing demand at places that remain open.

Delayed filings by workers over the Christmas and New Year holidays, as well as $300 a week in extra jobless benefits included in a coronavirus-relief package signed into law last month, also could have factored into the large claims increase for the week ended Jan. 9. Still, the four-week moving average for claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, rose in the week ended Jan. 9.

Things are not going to get better until a larger stimulus is passed, and the pandemic recedes.

In Case You Were Wondering Just How Toxic the BJP Is………

It appears that the veneration of Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, is now a thing in India.

I would argue that India is further down the road to Fascism and genocide that Trump ever got, and that the opposition, though careerism and incompetence, cannot seem to do anything to stop it:

Last Sunday, in a nondescript building in the India city of Gwalior, 200 miles south of Delhi, a large crowd of men gathered. Most wore bright saffron hats and scarves, a colour evoking Hindu nationalism, and many held strands of flowers as devotional offerings.

They were there to attend the inauguration of the Godse Gyan Shala, a memorial library and “knowledge centre” dedicated to Nathuram Godse, the man who shot Mahatma Gandhi. The devotional yellow and pink flowers were laid around a black and white photograph of Godse, the centrepiece of the room.

On 30 January 1948, Godse stepped out in front of Gandhi and shot him three times at point-blank range. A fervent believer in Hindu nationalism, Godse thought Gandhi had betrayed India’s Hindus by agreeing to partition, leading to the creation of Pakistan, and by championing the rights of Muslims. In 1949, Godse was hanged for Gandhi’s murder.

In the following decades, Godse was widely decried as a terrorist and traitor, the murderer of the “father of India”. Yet, in recent years, as Hindu nationalism has moved from an extremist fringe to mainstream Indian politics – the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) has a Hindu nationalist agenda at their core – Godse’s public reputation has steadily shifted from being condemned as traitor to being venerated as a misunderstood Indian patriot.

Meanwhile, Gandhi’s vision of a secular India with equal rights for all religions has been eroded and subjugated since the BJP came to power in 2014.

“Godse did the right thing by killing Gandhi,” said Devendra Pandey, 53, national secretary of Hindu Mahasabha, the Hindu nationalist organisation behind the memorial library. He was vocal in his belief that India should be declared “a country rightfully for Hindus” and that its 200 million Muslims should move to Pakistan.

“Godse considered Gandhi as his father, so to kill him must have caused him great pain but he had a very real reason,” he said. “Godse took action because Gandhi betrayed India – this library will teach the next generation how Godse was a true nationalist martyr.”
At some point there will be a reckoning in India over the country's embrace of bigotry and its increasingly aggressive attempts to expel and subjugate Muslim Indians.

Tweet of the Day


The QAnon Congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, submitted articles of impeachment against Joe Biden, because ……… OK, I have no desire to figure out what is going on in that head, thank you very much. 

In response, Jo from Jersey, who has been, "Blocked by Chachi," tagged her as "Klan of Green Gables."

I wish that I had thought of that slam.

20 January 2021

OK, This Promise was Kept

Joe Biden has shutdown the Keystone XL pipeline:

One of President Biden’s first acts upon taking office was to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the long-debated project to transport crude from Canada’s oil sands to the United States.

But Canadian officials, notably in Alberta, the province where the pipeline originates, are not giving up so fast.

The nearly 1,200-mile Keystone XL was intended to carry crude oil from Canada to Nebraska, where it would connect with an existing network to deliver the crude to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

In canceling the pipeline, Mr. Biden took some of his first steps toward reversing the legacy of the Trump administration, which revived the project after it was rejected by President Barack Obama in 2015.
Good.

Elections have consequences.

As He Was Leaving

On his way out the door, Donald Trump issued about 70 pardons and a similar number of commutations.

Along with the usual suspects, people who might testify against him and Jared's dad, we do have some mild surprises:

  • Randall "Duke" Cunningham, whose corruption was legendary. (He literally had a menu of bribes)
  • Steve Bannon. probably because he knows where the bodies are buried.
  • Kwame Kilpatrick,(D) who got 28 years for rampant corruption as Mayor of Detroit. 
  • A bunch of entertainers.
  • Aviem Sella, Jonathan Pollard's handler for Israel.

None of these are much of a surprise, except perhaps Kilpatrick.

Trump has now slithered out of the White House, so that should be the end of it.

Meanwhile, in DC

Republicans in Congress are using the right-wing insurrection on January 6 as an excuse for bills targeted primarily at peaceful protesters like Black Lives Matter.

Republicans never miss an opportunity to use a crisis to rat-fuck the country, do they?

In September, Florida governor and Trump ally Ron DeSantis proposed a bill dubbed the Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act to create new criminal penalties for offenses commonly committed during protests. He said it was needed to stop the “professional agitators bent on sowing disorder and causing mayhem in our cities” following months of largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests.

Hours after a far-right mob stormed the Capitol at the behest of the president, Florida Republicans introduced a version of the bill. That night, DeSantis said the violence in Washington shows that lawmakers “have no time to waste to uphold public safety” and must “swiftly pass this bill.”

DeSantis isn’t alone. Within the past year, lawmakers in 24 states have introduced at least 45 bills to create new penalties or increase criminal penalties for offenses related to protesting, discourage cuts to police funding, and provide protections to people who drive their cars into protesters or shoot protesters in an alleged act of self defense. Six of those bills—one in Utah, one in Mississippi, one in West Virginia, one in Tennessee and two in South Dakota—have been signed into law.

But the bills aren’t aimed at reining in the kind of violent insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol, and federal prosecutors already have a litany of charges at their disposal to hold the perpetrators accountable. The bills seek to criminalize conduct typically associated with Black Lives Matter protests, like blocking streets or highways and camping out at state capitols. Provisions of DeSantis’s bill seek to discourage local governments from cutting police budgets, but what happened on Jan. 6 can’t be pinned on a lack of police funding or intelligence—the FBI knew extremists were planning to commit violence in Washington days before, and Capitol Police rejected offers for additional manpower from the National Guard. While some police officers were brutally attacked or took action to protect the lives of others, others shook hands with a member of the mob. One police officer even took a selfie with the insurrectionists.

This is why I oppose changes to the current laws in response to the January 6 insurrection.

The people who will be enforcing these laws, cops, prosecutors, etc.  are objectively pro-fascist and institutionally, if not necessarily personally, racist.

All that more laws get you is more opportunities for abuse.

Illinois Takes Steps to Fix Policing in the State

It's not as extensive as it could be, there were some last minute bad cop favoring amendments, but the Illinois police reform bill has made it to the Governor's desk, who has announced his support for the bill.

The way that we know that this is a good bill is that the police unions are completely losing their shit over this, as well they should.

The high points of the bill are:

  • Expanding a database of police misconduct and requiring that those records be kept.
  • The elimination of cash bail.
  • Reduces the scope unions to negotiate disciplinary and certification issues.
  • Resisting arrest citations must include the predicate charge for the original arrest.
  • Expanded reporting on killings and applications of force.
  • Whistleblower protections.
  • Bans the use of military equipment.
  • Requires that redistricting on the state level be based on permanent locations, and not where someone is incarcerated.
  • Applies tighter standards to the use of force.
  • Narrows the felony murder statute.
  • Expands the list of crimes that would result in an officer being decertified.
  • Adds a duty to intervene for officers who witness police misconduct.

Unfortunagely, two of the best portions got dropped at the last minute:

  • Eliminating qualified immunity for police officers, which means that bad cops with bad records (see the NYPD's David "Bullethead" Grieco) are going to have to spend lots of money for liability insurance.
  • Completely eliminating the right to collective bargaining for the police on discipline matters. 

All in all, a very good bill, but I still want qualified immunity gone.

Buh Bye!


You will not be Missed

So, Joe Biden is now the President of the United States of America.

I am posting this in advance, so if anything untoward has happened, I'll deal with that later.

In any case, it's good that he's gone, and here is some musical accompaniment.

Linkage

 

This is captivating: