30 June 2021

The Solution to this Problem is Democratic Legitimacy

Didier Reynders, the European Union's justice minister is arguing that challenges to EU law on the basis of national law threaten to break up the organization.

That nations in the EU are taking these steps is no surprise.  The EU has no democratic legitimacy.

It has been, since its origins as the European Coal and Steel Community, a profoundly undemocratic institution.

The European Parliament is about as ineffective as the Roman Senate under Caligula,* and posesses far less power than said august Roman institution.

Ordinary voters still have a voice in their local government and in their local judiciary, while they have none (by explicit design) in the EU.

As such challenging EU dictum through the local courts is a logical, and likely popular, strategy, particularly in the face of German hegemony within the The European Commission:

The EU’s justice commissioner has vowed to fight back against a proliferation of legal challenges and rulings by member states that have attacked the supremacy of EU law, warning that they could destroy the union itself.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Didier Reynders said that this increased questioning of the primacy of EU law — and the right of the European Court of Justice to have the final word — created a “spillover effect” that had emboldened others to follow suit.

In a sign of the perceived threat, the European Commission this month launched legal proceedings against Germany in response to an explosive ruling by its constitutional court last year that the ECJ had acted beyond its competence in a case related to European Central Bank bond-buying.

This ruling is actually an artifact of German hegemony.  Bashing the lazy and profligate south has been a winning electoral strategy in Germany since the adoption of the Euro as a currency.

The next big legal challenge Brussels is bracing for is a decision by the Polish constitutional tribunal, which could come on July 13, on whether certain elements of the EU’s treaties are compatible with the constitution. The case, brought by Poland’s nationalist government, is regarded by legal experts as the most serious challenge yet to the EU’s legal order.

If the EU, and the Eurocrats, fail to realize that without political legitimacy through meaningful democratic processes these problems will only get worse.

Democracy is inconvenient, and a pain in the ass sometimes, but absent a muscular application of this concept to EU governance, the EU may cease to exist.

*The real history of Caligula appointing his favorite horse, Incitatus, to the Roman Senate is actually saner than is commonly represented. He threatened to appoint the horse to the Senate in order to demonstrate just how dysfunctional the body was.

It was a prank intended to humiliate the Senate.

Should Have Died in a Prison Cell

War criminal, serial liar, and complete incompetent Donald Rumsfeld has died at age 88

Don't bother reading the obituary.  They make little to no mention about lying us into war or directly authorizing torture.

I imagine that he's down in hell now, being waterboarded by Saddam Hussein, who has doubtlessly achieved trustee status by now.

29 June 2021

New York Mayor Primary Election and Ranked Choice Voting

With the counting of the in-person votes being more or less finished (this is the famously corrupt and incompetent New York City Board of Elections, after all), what looked like a run-away victory has turned into a nail biter.

Just to remind you, the voting was that you could rate candidates from 1 to 5, and the votes were tabulated based on the first choice initially, giving Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams 31.6%,  former de Blazio counsel Maya Wiley with 22.3%,  former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, with 19.7%, and smug asshole Andrew Yang with a dismal 11.7%.

With a normal US style election, what the British call, "First Past the Post," Adams would be the next mayor of New York.

This was not a normal US style election though, it was ranked choice voting, which is also called instant runoff voting (IRV), though it's not exactly instant, as we can see from the delay of a bit over a week.

Additionally, the top two finishers were originally numbers 1 and 3 in the first vote.

With IRV,  if no one gets a majority on the first vote, then the person with the lowest total votes in the first round has their votes struck from the tally, and those voters second choice is counted instead.

If no one still has 50%+1 of the votes, the procedure is repeated until someone does have an absolute majority.

In this case, Katheryn Garcia overtook Maya Wiley, and it appears that she is pretty close to Eric Adams, something on the order of 2-3%, with thousands of absentee ballots not yet counted. 

Then those numbers were withdrawn, because they mistakenly included test data, but it is clear that the top 2 at the end of the process will be Adams and Garcia, and that it will be close.

Given that Eric Adams is Black, these results illustrate interesting point about instant RUNOFF voting, which is an artifact of most (if not all) runoff voting systems in the United States, which is that runoff votes allow white voters to get behind the proverbial "White Guy", which is why it has been a fixture of voting in the South for years.

Without getting into the weeds of the relative merits of first past the post versus instant runoff voting versus proportional representation, I think that it is clear that any runoff system, whether instant or traditional, will make it more difficult for a minority candidate to win.

It's troubling, and so I have mixed emotions about the whole process:

The New York City mayor’s race plunged into chaos on Tuesday night when the city Board of Elections released a new tally of votes in the Democratic mayoral primary, and then removed the tabulations from its website after citing a “discrepancy.”

The results released earlier in the day had suggested that the race between Eric Adams and his two closest rivals had tightened significantly.

But just a few hours after releasing the preliminary results, the elections board issued a cryptic tweet revealing a “discrepancy” in the report, saying that it was working with its “technical staff to identify where the discrepancy occurred.”

By Tuesday evening, the tabulations had been taken down, replaced by a new advisory that the ranked-choice results would be available “starting on June 30.”

Then, around 10:30 p.m., the board finally released a statement, explaining that it had failed to remove sample ballot images used to test its ranked-choice voting software. When the board ran the program, it counted “both test and election night results, producing approximately 135,000 additional records,” the statement said. The ranked-choice numbers, it said, would be tabulated again.

………

For the Board of Elections, which has long been plagued by dysfunction and nepotism, this was its first try at implementing ranked-choice voting on a citywide scale, and skeptics had expressed doubts about the board’s ability to pull off the process despite its successful use in other cities.

Under ranked-choice voting, voters can list up to five candidates on their ballots in preferential order. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of first-choice votes in the first round, the winner is decided by a process of elimination: As the lower-polling candidates are eliminated, their votes are reallocated to whichever candidate those voters ranked next, and the process continues until there is a winner.

………

A few hours later, the board disclosed its unspecified discrepancy, and it was not at all clear Tuesday night how accurate the most recent tally was, or if it was accurate at all.

The results may well be scrambled again: Even after the Board of Elections sorts through the preliminary tally, it must count around 124,000 Democratic absentee ballots. Once they are tabulated, the board will take the new total that includes them and run a new set of ranked-choice elimination rounds, with a final result not expected until mid-July.

………

If elected, Mr. Adams would be the city’s second Black mayor, after David N. Dinkins. Some of Mr. Adams’s supporters have already cast the ranked-choice process as an attempt to disenfranchise voters of color, an argument that intensified among some backers on Tuesday afternoon as the race had appeared to tighten, and is virtually certain to escalate should he lose his primary night lead to Ms. Garcia, who is white.

It appears that I'm not the only one who thinks that runoffs tend to disadvantage minority candidates.

………

While it is difficult, it is not unheard-of for a trailing candidate in a ranked-choice election to eventually win the race through later rounds of voting — that happened in Oakland, Calif., in 2010, and nearly occurred in San Francisco in 2018.

The winner of New York’s Democratic primary, who is almost certain to become the city’s next mayor, will face Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, who won the Republican primary.

Yeah, that racist clown is the Republican nominee, so the primary is the real election here, even if the eventual nominee is found in bed with Donald Trump.

………

Other close observers of the election separately expressed discomfort with the decision to release a ranked-choice tally without accounting for absentee ballots.

Yeah, this has been completely mismanaged.

BTW, did I mention that the board of elections also sent out the absentee ballots late in 2020? 

The good citizens of New York are in for a bumpy ride.

Tweet of the Day


The use of the word "Literally" here is accurate.

Right-Wingers Hate Their Cable Companies More Than They Hate Democrats

This is why the Republican dominated legislature in Ohio has backtracked on its attempt to ban municipal broadband.

People really, really, really, really, really, really hate their cable companies:

After coming close to imposing a near-total ban on municipal broadband networks, Ohio's Republican-controlled legislature has reportedly dropped the proposed law in final negotiations over the state budget.

The final budget agreement "axed a proposal to limit local governments from offering broadband services," The Columbus Dispatch wrote. With a June 30 deadline looming, Ohio's House and Senate approved the budget and sent it to Gov. Mike DeWine for final approval on Monday night, the Dispatch wrote.

As we wrote earlier this month, the Ohio Senate approved a version of the budget containing an amendment that would have forced existing municipal broadband services to shut down and prevented the formation of new public networks. The proposed law was reportedly "inserted without prior public discussion," and no state senator publicly sponsored the amendment. It was approved in a party-line vote as Democrats opposed the restrictions in municipal broadband.

The House version did not contain the amendment, and it was dropped during negotiations between the House and Senate.

Lawmakers apparently relented to public pressure from supporters of municipal broadband and cities and towns that operate the networks. People and businesses from Fairlawn, where the city-run FairlawnGig network offers fiber Internet, played a significant role in the protests. FairlawnGig itself asked users to put pressure on lawmakers, and the subscribers did so in great numbers.

If Democrats want to win, they should claim that Republicans want the cable companies to have monopolies on broadband (true), and that they support robocalling by Indian and Pakistani telemarketers. (True enough)

We'd have 65 seats in the Senate, and 320 in the House.

 

28 June 2021

Toyota USA Needs a Major Management Shakeup


Best Tweet on the Subject
Because the car manufacturer leads in campaign donations to members of the "Sedition Caucus" since January 6

I understand the need for companies to spread the campaign donations around, I've always felt that the current system is more extortion than it is bribery, but you can donate to Republicans without being the single most aggressive of people who supported the insurrection at the Capitol:

Nearly three-dozen corporate PACs have donated at least $5,000 to Republicans who objected to certifying the 2020 election, yet Toyota leads by a substantial margin.

………

By the numbers: Data compiled by the left-leaning watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington show Toyota gave $55,000 to 37 GOP objectors this year.

  • That equates to a quarter of the bloc that voted to nullify President Biden's win after the Capitol siege.

  • Toyota gave more than twice as much — and to nearly five times as many members of Congress — as the No. 2 company on the list, Cubic Corp., a San Diego-based defense contractor.

  • The Japanese automaker's donations this year included a February contribution to Rep. Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican who has been one of Congress' most vocal election conspiracy theorists. According to an organizer of the "Stop the Steal" rally prior to the Capitol attack, Biggs also helped put on that event, a charge Biggs has denied.

What they're saying: "We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification," a Toyota spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Axios. 

This is a bummer.  

I have a 2004 Toyota Prius with about  ¼ million miles on it, and I like the car, I consider it my midlife crisis car,* but it is getting long in the tooth, and it's getting to be time to find a replacement.

I WAS considering a newer Prius, possibly a Prime plug-in, but I try to avoid buying from companies with stupid and psychotic management.  (It's actually it's a REMARKABLY high bar to clear with American management these days.)

Any recommendations from my reader(s) for a decent reliable high MPG car not from Toyota?

*Yeah, a 2004 Prius as my midlife crisis car. I am the dullest motherf%$#er on the face of the earth.

Boeing Still Cannot Make Aircraft

The FAA has announced that it is delaying certification of their new 777X variant because of design maturity and potentially disastrous problems with its control systems.

Everyone employed at Boeing's Chicago headquarters beyond the janitors and secretaries need to be fired ……… and into the sun:

In yet another blow to Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration last month formally denied the jet maker permission to move forward with a key step in certifying its forthcoming giant widebody airplane, the 777X.

In a sternly worded letter dated May 13, which was reviewed by The Seattle Times, the FAA warned Boeing it may have to increase the number of test flights planned and that certification realistically is now more than two years out, probably in late 2023.

That could push the jet’s entry into commercial service into early 2024, four years later than originally planned.

Clearly, someone at Boeing decided to, "Take off their engineer hat and put your management hat on," with predictable results.*

Boeing is suffering death by MBA.

………

The FAA cited a long litany of concerns, including a serious flight control incident during a test flight on Dec. 8, 2020, when the plane experienced an “uncommanded pitch event” — meaning the nose of the aircraft pitched abruptly up or down without input from the pilots.

Boeing has yet to satisfy the FAA that it has fully understood and corrected what went wrong that day.

After all the troubles with the 737 MAX, you think that they would have that one at the top of their, "To Do" list, but in their rush to meet schedule, and to move production to a non-union facility, they screwed the pooch AGAIN.

“The aircraft is not yet ready,” [local FAA manager Ian] Won wrote. “The technical data required for type certification has not reached a point where it appears the aircraft type design is mature and can be expected to meet the applicable regulations.”

An FAA official, who asked not to be identified in order to speak freely, said the drag on 777X certification is now “the subject of a lot of attention” at high levels both within the agency and at Boeing.
The FAA got burnt by Boeing with the 737MAX, and they are now dubious of Boeing's claims.

The reputational damage to the Seattle aircraft manufacturer from its rampant managerialism is ongoing and an existential threat to its continued viability as a going concern.

*This is a paraphrase of a comment made to Thikol engineer Roger Boisjoly by an unnamed manager when he warned of the danger of launching the Space Shuttle Challenger in very low temperatures.

For those who don't know your history, the o-rings in the solid booster failed, and the Challenger blew up.

Linkage

Where's Waldo, the movie:

27 June 2021

From the Department of About F%$#ing Time

The Department of Justice has sued Georgia over over its new racist voting laws

Personally, if evidence of a conspiracy to deprive citizens of their civil rights is found, and this is clearly fits the legal definition of a conspiracy, I'd like to see a criminal investigation with some of the principals subject to the risk of jail time:

Justice Department officials announced a federal lawsuit Friday against Georgia over new statewide voting restrictions that federal authorities allege purposefully discriminate against Black Americans, the first major action by the Biden administration to confront what it describes as efforts by Republican-led jurisdictions to limit election turnout.

The legal challenge takes aim at Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, which was passed in March by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp (R). The law imposes new limits on the use of absentee ballots, makes it a crime for outside groups to provide food and water to voters waiting at polling stations, and hands greater control over election administration to the legislature.

The 46-page federal court filing came as numerous GOP-majority state governments have been seeking to impose new voting restrictions in the wake of President Biden’s victory over Donald Trump last November. Trump has spent months waging a baseless effort to discredit the result, making false and unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud.

In Georgia, Black voters helped drive record turnout for the presidential election and handed the state to Biden, who became the first Democrat to win its electoral votes in 28 years. High levels of Black voter turnout also helped Democrats Raphael G. Warnock and Jon Ossoff sweep the U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia in January, ensuring full Democratic control of Congress.

Among other things, this lawsuit moves to bring Georgia under the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act again, and this is a good thing.

Politicians should not be allowed to prevent people from voting because they vote against those politicians. 

As an aside, if you live in Georgia, register as a Republican, and vote for the Trump-nuts in their primary so as to make a chance of Democratic victory in the general election more likely.

Jeebus

Portland, Oregon hit 114°F (45.5°C) Today.

If the death toll in the Pacific Northwest from high temperatures over this weekend is not in the thousands, I would be very surprised.

Even for houses with air-conditioning, this is likely to be more heat than they could handle: 

Portland again reached a new record temperature late Sunday afternoon, hitting 112 degrees and breaking the previous records set earlier Sunday and Saturday, the National Weather Service announced on Twitter.

The high temperature for Portland International Airport reached 108 degrees Saturday, surpassing the city’s all-time record of 107, first set in 1965. By 2:20 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Portland had surpassed that record by three degrees. The record now stands at 112 as of 5 p.m. Sunday.

Portland normally has a handful of 90°F+ days a year.

In the 4 years that I lived in Portland, it never broke 100°F. (Update, Checked the record, I was wrong.  From August 1976 through August 1980, there were 10 100°F+ days)

Obviously, this is weather, and not climate, but it is clearly anthropogenic climate change driven weather.


26 June 2021

An UNBELIEVABLY Appropriate Use of the KKK Act

Various Biden campaigners have sued Texas terrorists who attempted to force their campaign bus off of the road in October of last year under the Klu Klux Klan act of 1871.

This seems about right:

Timothy Holloway clutched the wheel of a Biden-Harris campaign bus last October, swerving and dodging as one hostile car bearing a Trump flag after another tried to run him off a Texas highway.

“We were terrified,” Holloway said in a news release. “They were clearly trying to scare us and prevent us from arriving at our destination in peace.”

The tactic worked — the Biden campaign canceled the rest of the day’s events, saying it feared for the safety of campaign staffers, supporters and local political candidates. Some prominent Republicans cheered the effort by the self-proclaimed “Trump Train,” while President Donald Trump himself lauded their efforts, calling the drivers “patriots” who “did nothing wrong.”

Now, Holloway — along with a White House staffer, a former Texas lawmaker and a campaign volunteer — are suing several members of the caravan, accusing them of violating the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which bars violent election intimidation, as well as local Texas laws. The group is also suing local law enforcement, claiming they failed to provide protection.

“Those on the bus feared injury or for their lives. All suffered lingering trauma in the days and months thereafter,” says one of a pair of federal lawsuits filed to the Western District of Texas court on Thursday. “The events of October 30 arose from a campaign of politically motivated intimidation.”

………

The case isn’t the only recent attempt to invoke the Ku Klux Klan Act against Trump supporters. In February, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, invoked the Klan Act in a lawsuit against Trump, Rudolph W. Giuliani and two extremist groups whose members are accused of participating in the insurrection. Thompson alleged that Trump and Giuliani violated the act by inciting the riots with false claims of a rigged election. The lawsuit is ongoing.

This was terrorism, pure and simple, and they should be treated at LEAST as severely as the Muslim losers that the FBI entraps in their sting operations.

Take their guns while the trials are going on, and seize their trucks, as they are the instruments of the crimes.

Tweet of the Day


There is a LOT in this seemingly innocuous question.

25 June 2021

Never Walking the Walk

One of the reasons that liberals and progressives are given no respect is because when the rubber hits the road, and they need to abide by their own morality, they refuse to do so.

Case in point, the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School in Massachusetts, where administrators are going scorched earth over a unionization effort by teachers.

In case you don't recognize the name, "Paulo Freire," he was a Marxist educator, who wrote extensively on how the current model of education did not meet the needs of the poor and downtrodden.

Not exactly the sort of philosophy that is compatible with going Walmart on your staff:

In 1968, Paulo Freire, a famous Brazilian philosopher, authored the book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a Marxist argument for using education to empower the downtrodden. In 2013, a charter school named in his honor was founded: the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School (PFSJCS), located in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Now, in a display of the universe’s sense of humor, teachers at PFSJCS say that the school’s leadership is engaging in union busting.

In March 2020, the school’s professional staff of about 26 people — mostly teachers, along with a few other employees such as guidance counselors — unionized with UAW Local 2322 in Massachusetts. Zack Novak, one of the teachers who helped lead the union drive, said that several years of experience working in unionized public schools had led him to expect certain standards of treatment that he didn’t see at PFSJCS. ​“At charter schools in general, the climate is much different. I noticed people being treated unfairly by the administration,” Novak said. ​“The only way to get ahead was if the powers that be liked you. That’s not an equitable environment for teaching staff.”

Novak sent out an email notifying everyone at the school that the staff had unionized in March of last year. The same day, he says, he was pulled into a meeting with administrators, which he interpreted as an assertion of their power. At the end of the school year, he said, he was offered a new contract to come back — but that contract was rescinded before the next school year began, for no apparent reason. He believes that his involvement in organizing the union was the motivating factor.

In July 2020, the school hired Gil Traverso as its new executive director, to replace a retiring predecessor. Since then, union members say, labor relations have been awful. According to Carol Huben, a PFSJCS teacher, the first ominous sign was ​“a really strong pattern of not responding to union communications.” Next, she said, teachers were warned or disciplined after posting innocuous pro-union messages in their Zoom backgrounds at bargaining meetings.

Then, Huben said, came the most serious blow to the union: a dozen teachers whose contracts were up last year were ordered to reapply for their own jobs — and none of them were rehired. The union said in a press release that ​“no explanation was offered for their non renewal of contracts.” Huben also said that management is warning newly hired teachers to beware of the union. The union has filed complaints over more than 20 incidents since Traverso’s hiring, teachers said.

Primates in general, and humans in particular, are hard wired for fairness, and when they see, "Liberalism for thee and not for me," it disinclines them from considering the idea of people working for the collective good.

It's the hypocrisy, stupid.

Training Will Not Help.

Training does not reduce incidences of abusive law enforcement conduct. This has been shown over, and over, and over, and over again

What DOES help is firings and prosecutions, because the misconduct arises from the perceived impunity of police officers.

They don't do this because they are poorly trained, they do this because they CAN do this, so the brutality of the Ocean City police needs to be treated as the crime that it is:

A year before video of the violent arrests of six Black teenagers in this Maryland resort town went viral, spurring calls for reform and demands for an investigation, a police lieutenant grabbed a White man who was shouting insults at officers and punched him in the face.

The Ocean City Police Department said the lieutenant’s actions were “within policy” that day on the crowded boardwalk, where the population swells with nearly 8 million visitors each year, and officers on foot and bicycle are charged with maintaining a “family friendly atmosphere.”
This is the problem.  The Police think that thier behavior is OK, and it is NOT.

………

Records released by the department show its officers use force a couple hundred times a year during arrests that are concentrated in the summer season. Policing experts say such confrontations illustrate the importance of de-escalation techniques, especially in today’s charged law enforcement environment. While limited, publicly available data shows the violent arrests in Ocean City have involved both Black and White civilians, with a disproportionate percentage of use-of-force incidents involving Black people.

At a time when Maryland and other states are launching new efforts to hold police officers accountable, and the nation is paying closer attention to police treatment of minorities, the June 6 and 12 arrests of several young Black men have drawn national attention.

The incidents — in which unarmed teens were shocked by Tasers, held down on the ground and repeatedly kneed in the rib cage — are generating questions about how a popular vacation spot polices its visitors, and whether officers should do more to de-escalate confrontations before resorting to force.

The real question should be about how a popular vacation spot polices its police.

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan says that if people obey the law and are courteous to each other, they have nothing to worry about. “We have ordinances, and we do need to enforce those ordinances,” he said. “Our goal is compliance, and if people comply there’s really no issue. The majority of people do.”
And here is the crux of the issue:  The people of Ocean City, as represented by the Mayor, see the job of the police as being keeping the n*****s down, with a secondary roll of keeping non-townies in their place.

Tweet of the Day


Can we PLEASE give it back to Mexico?

He Won't See 22½ Months

Derek Chauvin, who murdered George Floyd, and tried to do the same with many of the people he encountered, (in addition to being a tax cheat) was sentenced to 22½ for murdering George Floyd.

It's nice that he got a sentence commensurate with his actions, which were callous and heinous, but I'm inclined to believe that he's going to get preferential treatment in terms of prison assignments and by the parole board, so I don't expect him to serve this in a maximum security prison, which the sentence would generally require, and I expect him to serve only a small portion of the actual sentence, rather than the ⅔ of the sentence generally required for parole:

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced Friday to 22 and a half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.

Before Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill announced the sentence inside a courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center, members of members of Floyd’s family spoke about the impact of his murder. Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd wept as he struggled to speak.

“I wanted to know from the man himself,” he said, addressing Chauvin. “Why? What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on our brother’s neck?”

Philonise Floyd, another of Floyd’s brothers, wiped his eyes as he spoke and asked the judge for closure by giving Chauvin the harshest sentence possible.

………

“I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family,” Chauvin said in a brief statement before he was sentenced. His defense team has indicated they will appeal.

Cahill’s decision started with the state’s sentencing guidelines which recommend 12 and a half years in prison for a conviction on unintentional second-degree murder for someone with no criminal history.

The prosecution asked for 30 years, or twice the highest recommended sentence of 15 years.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank reiterated the four aggravating factors the prosecution hoped would sway the judge to add years to Chauvin’s prison sentence — that Chauvin abused his position of authority, treated Floyd with particular cruelty, that the crime was seen by several children and that Chauvin knew the restraint of Floyd was dangerous
.

I would add another reason for a harsh sentence:  This sort of behavior is ROUTINE for police officers in the United States, and thus the sentence needed to be severe in order to provide deterrence to other malefactors on police forces throughout the country.

Still, I expect him to be out into home confinement or some-such within 2 years.

24 June 2021

Say What You Will about the French, but They Do Not like Nazis

So, unlike government representatives than almost any other country in the EU, they were unamused to stumble on a Nazi event at a celebration of Kiev's birthday.

If they had been from any other EU nation, (and the Brits) they would have done their best impression of Sergeant Schultz, and pretended that they had seen nothing, but the French are slightly less accomodating of those who want to lionize Nazis. 

Given that the US has been actively cultivating Neo-Nazis in the FSU for years, we know how US government officials would have reacted to this.

The French, however, theyy take it kind of personally:

After a group of French senators visiting Kyiv to celebrate the city’s birthday stumbled across a far-right event involving children, Ukraine’s western allies no longer have any excuse not to demand action.

On the last weekend of May, the Ukrainian capital Kyiv celebrates its “birthday”, marking the day in 482 when the city was, according to legend, founded.

………

This year, however, there was another – very different – kind of event. On Andrievskiy Descent, a scenic, historic road in central Kyiv, members of the Ukrainian far-right party Right Sector and its youth wing, Right Youth, put on a militaristic show for children. They invited kids to shoot from air rifles at a paper target of the Kremlin and at pictures of Colorado beetles (a derogatory term for Russians).

This rather macabre scene coincided with a visit to the city of three French senators to Ukraine. Nathalie Goulet, Jean-Pierre Moga and Joel Guerriau were all in Kyiv for its birthday celebrations, and apparently witnessed Right Sector’s display.

They did not like what they saw.

On June 10, the delegation officially submitted a request to the French Foreign Ministry to “know what the position of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs [is] on this subject and what measures it intends to take to avoid the contagion of this deadly ideology.”

“The neo-Nazi parties are developing increasingly visible activities, including in the centre of Kyiv, with shooting ranges, practices of assembling and dismantling Kalashnikovs and recruitment offices for young people for militias that clearly claim Nazi ideology,” their joint letter read.

The senators also claimed that they had seen pro-Nazi memorabilia being sold by Right Sector cadres, including identity papers of members of SS-Sonderkommando units.

………

Bubbling under the surface for decades, the far-right came to mainstream attention following the Maidan Revolution of 2014. Far-right elements were present in the protests against then president Viktor Yanukovych, and had a higher degree of organisation, ideological zeal and propensity to violence than the bulk of the protesters.

The far right were supported by the US State Department, the CIA, and the Orwellian named National Endowment for Democracy.

The West needs to stop supporting Nazis in the former Soviet Union states.

It's Jobless Thursday!

Initial unemployment clams remained steady last week, and the less volatile 4-week moving average rose slightly.

I don't find this a surprise.

We are not even close to being out of the proverbial woods:

A recent downward trend in worker filings for jobless benefits stalled in mid-June amid other signs the labor market continues to gradually recover.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial unemployment claims, a proxy for layoffs, moved slightly lower last week to a seasonally adjusted 411,000 from an upwardly revised 418,000 the prior week, when claims rose. The four-week average for claims, which smooths out volatility in the weekly figures, rose slightly off a pandemic low to 397,750.

While last week’s initial claims were higher than projected and claims overall remain above pre-pandemic levels, their downward trajectory, along with a pickup in hiring, a declining unemployment rate and optimistic consumer sentiment, points to gains for the U.S. labor market.

Claims are down sharply from the depths of the Covid-19-induced downturn during 2020, and are hovering at levels half of what they were in January this year. Weekly claims totals are down more than 40% from the 742,000 total posted the week ended April 3.

………

The report showed new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft—so-called core capital-goods orders, a closely watched proxy for business investment—declined 0.1% in May from April. Such orders were up 2.7% the prior month.

………

The Commerce Department also released updated calculations of U.S. gross domestic product—a broad measure of the economy’s output of goods and services. The update said GDP rose at an annual rate of 6.4% in the first quarter, matching previous estimates. 

It's going to be interesting to see what happens as extended unemployment benefits wind down.

This injection of money into the economy is a large reason why we've had a decent recovery.

The Schadenfreude Drought is Over

Did you hear that the New York State appellate court just suspended Rudy Giuliani's law license pending a more permanent disposition?

The court basically said that  his lies in court in support of Trump had been so egregious that a permanent disbarment should be on the menu:

Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former top federal prosecutor, New York City mayor and lawyer to a president, had his law license suspended after a New York court ruled on Thursday that he made “demonstrably false and misleading statements” while fighting the results of the 2020 election on behalf of Donald J. Trump.

The move was a humbling blow to a man who was once known as a law-and-order crusader and whose political ambitions and creative courtroom tactics against mob bosses turned him into a fixture on national television.

The New York State appellate court temporarily suspended Mr. Giuliani’s law license on the recommendation of a disciplinary committee after finding he had sought to mislead judges, lawmakers and the public as he helped shepherd Mr. Trump’s legal challenge to the election results. For months, Mr. Giuliani, who was Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, had argued without merit that the vote had been rife with fraud and that voting machines had been rigged.

In its 33-page decision, the court said that Mr. Giuliani’s actions represented an “immediate threat” to the public and that he had “directly inflamed” the tensions that led to the Capitol riot in January.


“The seriousness of respondent’s uncontroverted misconduct cannot be overstated. This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden,” the decision read.

Courts and law bars hate ruling on things political, but this rat-f%$#ing is so pervasive, that they feel that they have no choice but to act.

Given that Giuliani has not actually practiced as a lawyer, except for his Trump related rat-f%$#ing, for years, it won't effect him much financially, but it marks his exit from respectable society. 

Or at least, that's what I hope.  After all Roy Cohn remained a fixture of society well after his "sell by" date.

The 3rd World Welcomes Florida

If you are thinking that sh%$ like buildings falling down for no reason is a symptom of 3rd world dysfunction, then the the collapse of a condominium tower in Surfside, Florida is a pretty good indication that something is very wrong in Florida, though my guess is that this is not isolated to the sunshine state:

After the dust had settled and the fog of incredulity had lifted, Soriya Cohen had only prayer and hope and questions — lots of questions — about the abrupt and violent collapse of a 12-story oceanfront condominium tower in Surfside early Thursday morning.

First and foremost in Cohen’s mind was the whereabouts of her husband, Brad Cohen, whom she had not seen or heard from since part of the Champlain Towers South Condo came crashing down, wiping away 55 units in mere seconds.

Brad Cohen was inside one of those units on the 11th floor along with his brother, Gary Cohen, said Soriya Cohen, when the building collapsed at 1:23 a.m., the time that Miami-Dade Fire Rescue first responded to a call for help at the condominium tower. Soriya Cohen had spent the night with their daughter at a different building in neighboring Miami Beach.

………

It will likely be months or even years before engineers and other experts know exactly why a part of the Champlain Towers South came crashing down.

Before those answers are found, search and rescue crews will continue the painstaking work of picking through a mountain of rubble, looking for even the faintest signs of life that might be buried inside the two-story-high pile of debris.

More than 20 hours after the partial collapse, the death toll remained unknown. Officials confirmed at least one death, and said 35 survivors were pulled from the wreckage, with 10 injured persons treated at the scene and at least two transported to a hospital.

Miami-Dade County police said as many as 99 people are reported missing. There were 102 people from the building who had been accounted for. The part of the tower that collapsed held 55 units. The remainder of the 136-unit tower remained standing, though residents have been evacuated.

………

Security camera footage of the collapse looked eerily similar to a controlled demolition, minus the flash of explosives. One side of the tower buckled first before more of the structure collapsed into a pile of rubble. The cause of the collapse is unknown, though one building expert deemed it “an oddity of biblical proportions” for the 40-year-old structure to fall unexpectedly.

Climate change driven rising water tables, typically Floridian lax building codes and enforcement, and general poor maintenance are the likely causes.

Still this is profoundly 3rd world sh%$.


RisingRead more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article252324218.html#storylink=cpy
 

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article252324218.html#storylink=

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article252324218.html#storylink=cpy

23 June 2021

There Was a Primary in New York Last Night

The Democratic primary for mayor was conducted by ranked choice voting (also called instant runoff voting), so the the results won't be certain for a few days,

It appears that the 2nd worst candidate has won, with Eric Adams getting about ⅓ of the first round vote.

Adams is a machine politician, and (among other things) expressed support for the restoring the NYPD's racist stop and frisk policies.

The worst candidate was Andrew Yang, the former Presidential candidate, who (among other things) based his candidacy on harassing the homeless, crypto-currency, and self-driving cars.

Eric Adams, who ran for mayor of New York City on a message intensely focused on issues of public safety, emerged on Tuesday with a substantial lead in the Democratic primary, but fell well short of outright victory in a race that will now usher in a new period of uncertainty.

With 82 percent of the results in, Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, was the first choice of 31.6 percent of those who voted in person on Tuesday or during the early voting period, as New Yorkers chose a leader to steer the city’s reopening and economic recovery.

The initial outcome capped an intensely acrimonious campaign defined by debates over public safety and the economy, political experience and personal ethics, as the candidates presented sharply divergent visions for how they would lead New York into its post-pandemic future.

Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, was in second with 22.3 percent; Kathryn Garcia, a former sanitation commissioner, was in third with 19.7 percent. Either would become the city’s first female mayor.

Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate, was a distant fourth, and was the first candidate to concede on Tuesday night, a striking development after he had spent months as the dominant candidate in the race.

Yang was never the dominant candidate in the race.  He was just well funded, and presented a shiny bauble for the press to cover.

There was also the (not quite decided) race for Manhattan District Attorney, which is a classic first past the post where Alvin Bragg is leading Tali Farhadian Weinstein by about 3½% with 84% reporting.

I hope that Weinstein loses.  In addition to spending millions of her own dollars, ran ads which could be credibly reported as racist, being tied at the hip to Wall Street, and was one of the very rich people who were revealed to have paid next to no taxes.

Given that the Manhattan DA is at the center of many investigations agaings Donald Trump, Weinstein is ……… Problematic, to put it mildly.

Finally, in upstate New York, a black Socialist woman has defeated the incumbent in the primary in Buffalo:

India B. Walton knew her bid to unseat the entrenched 16-year mayor of Buffalo was a long shot.

………

A self-described democratic socialist, Ms. Walton, 38, has never held political office, and she was challenging Mayor Byron Brown, 62, who was seeking a fifth term, had served as chair of the state Democratic Party and was once was mentioned as a candidate for lieutenant governor. Few people thought she could win. Mr. Brown mostly tried to ignore her campaign.

But on Tuesday, Ms. Walton defeated Mr. Brown in the city’s Democratic primary, making it almost certain that she will become not only the first woman elected mayor in New York State’s second-largest city, but also the first socialist at the helm of a large American city in decades.

Her upset on Wednesday shocked Buffalo and the nation’s Democratic establishment as most of the political world was more intensely focused on the initial results of the still-undecided mayoral primary in New York City. Her win underscored the energy of the party’s left wing as yet another longtime incumbent in the state fell to a progressive challenger, echoing the congressional wins of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman.

If Ms. Walton wins in the general election in November — a likely result in a city that leans heavily Democratic — she would join the growing ranks of Black female mayors elected to lead other major U.S. cities, including Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, Kim Janey in Boston and London Breed in San Francisco.

………

Ms. Walton, whose campaign was backed by the Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America, said she preferred not to get caught up in the semantics of labels — describing her ideology as focused on “putting people first.”

The last time a socialist was the mayor of a large American city was 1960, when Frank P. Zeidler stepped down as Milwaukee’s mayor. And it was more than a century ago when a socialist won a mayoral race in New York: In 1911, George R. Lunn, of the Socialist Party of America, was elected mayor of Schenectady, according to Bruce Gyory, a Democratic political consultant.

While rare, socialist mayors are not unheard-of: Bernie Sanders took office in 1981 as mayor of Burlington, Vt., a city one-sixth the size of Buffalo, before being elected to Congress nearly a decade later.


Ms. Walton ran an unabashedly progressive campaign in a Democratic city of about 250,000 people — about 37 percent of them Black — that had elected mostly white men as mayors for nearly two centuries. (Mr. Brown became the city’s first Black mayor in 2006.)

She said she supported implementing rent control protections. She pledged to declare Buffalo a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants. And she vowed to reform the city’s Police Department, arguing in favor of an independent civilian oversight board and changing the way police officers respond to mental health calls.

“Our police budget is as high as it’s ever been, and crime is also up, so something is not working,” she said.

People suggesting that campaigning on reform of the police, take note.  It's a winner, at least in a Democratic primary.

Law enforcement in the US is broken, as is painfully obvious from this picture.

………

Mr. Brown’s actions suggested that he did not take Ms. Walton’s challenge seriously. He refused to debate her — “Maybe he believed pretending I didn’t exist was going to make the race go away,” Ms. Walton said — and he did not campaign vigorously, failing to fund-raise as aggressively as he had in previous primaries or spend on ad buys until late in the race.

“I think it was almost a perfect storm that was working against the mayor in this case, but it was brought about by his nonchalance in this race,” said Len Lenihan, the former Erie County Democratic chairman.

Rule 1 of politics:  People will not vote for someone who never asks for their vote.

………

Under Mr. Brown, Buffalo, in western New York, has undergone a resurgence in recent years with the construction of major projects in the downtown area. But the city’s poverty rate is more than twice the national average, and its unemployment rate, while improving, has not fully recovered to prepandemic levels.

Indeed, there was a sense among some residents who voted for Ms. Walton that low-income communities were not reaping the benefits of downtown development.

………

Upstate New York has large swaths of rural and conservative areas, but many of its cities are reliable Democratic strongholds with large minority communities that left-wing activists see as fertile ground to replicate the upsets they have staged downstate. So far, democratic socialists have picked up seats in the House, the State Legislature and the New York City Council, but Ms. Walton’s win would mark the first time a D.S.A.-backed candidate won a citywide election in New York.

This is a good start

Ms. Walton’s win was also buttressed by extensive support from the Working Families Party, which had previously endorsed Mr. Brown. The party helped her campaign set up an online fund-raising operation, a large field program with hundreds of volunteers and a text message and phone bank operation that made 19,000 calls on the night before the election — in a contest where fewer than 25,000 voters cast ballots.

This is an explicit "F%$# You" to "Ratface Andy" Cuomo, who has done his best to kill the WFP trough riders on legislation.

………

Ms. Walton is an organizer for activist groups that supported the state’s bail reforms and legalizing recreational marijuana. Last summer, she gained exposure marching against police brutality in the protests following George Floyd’s death.

She ultimately decided to run, she said, because Mr. Brown had failed to implement meaningful reforms at the Buffalo Police Department and because of what she saw as his poor response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Again, BLM is a winning cause, unless you are a Democrat cowering fear to Republican racists and corrupt police unions.

Her first step should be to reassure various developers who have incentive deals that the city of Buffalo will abide by their contracts, but that the recipients of taxpayer largess need to abide by the terms of their contract as well.

It is interesting how New York State seems to be the epicenter of Socialist political victories in the US.

Headline of the Day

When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to Eat Squid From a Clamp, That’s a Moray
New York Times
It's an interesting article, but I have to think that they spent WAY more time on the headline than they did on a story about Moray Eels hunting on land.

I'll Take Deeply Racist Company Culture for $500, Alex

I'm referring, of course, to the Chocolate Factory, AKA Google, who has shuttered a diversity training program because the graduates were systematically underpaid, and too many of the quit.

This is racism presented as performative anti-racism:

Google has scrapped a scheme designed to train and hire engineers from diverse backgrounds – after people who made it through the program to become Googlers complained they were screwed over in pay.

The engineering residency program, known as Eng Res, has run since 2014. It’s aimed at those who don’t quite qualify as entry-level engineers; these folks are then trained up in various departments in the Chocolate Factory, and after a year they’re either hired as a proper developer or dropped.

The idea is to identify and top up the skills of people who show potential but have not had the same opportunities as others to learn and grow, or have faced unfair career-limiting hurdles, prior to applying for a role at Google. Newbie coders get a place at one of the world’s biggest names in tech, and Google gets a workers from a diverse range of backgrounds.

But after completing the program, alumni are given lower salaries, smaller bonus payments, and no stock units compared to their peers, a group of over 500 current and former Googlers have claimed.

Over time, this pay gap creates “systemic pay inequities,” according to presentation given to the web giant's top brass by Eng Res graduates, Reuters reports.

Now, Google has dropped Eng Res altogether. A spokesperson told The Register a new program will be put in place.

It appears that the salary/bonus/stock option deficit was on the order of tens of thousands of dollars, and followed them throughout their careers.

I gotta figure that this blatant racism is central to Google corporate culture.  They think that "Those People" should be grateful for having a place at Google, and that this justifies underpaying them.

Guck Foogle.

22 June 2021

I Do Not Fantasize about Jeff Bezos' Frozen Body Spinning through the Vacuum of Space for All Eternity

I fantasize about him being abducted by aliens and made to work in their fulfillment centers as a slave.

That is all.

Bipartisan is a Synonym for Scam

Why am I not surprised that the "Bipartisan" Senate infrastructure plan is primarily about giveaways to politically connected operators through privatization.

Privatization is where private operators are paid to take ownership of public assets.  (Think Chicago parking meter deal fiasco)   

It's always about sacrificing the public weal to the altar of private profit:

………

But the really scary piece is labeled “Public private partnerships, private activity bonds, and asset recycling.” In the name of building world-class infrastructure, these lawmakers would sell it off in fire sales to private financiers. We have lots of experience with infrastructure privatization that strongly suggests it should be avoided.

There was a time when Democrats did oppose such schemes; it was during the Trump administration. To the extent that Trump had an infrastructure vision, it was rooted in privatization. Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, who would each take high-level jobs in the Trump administration, wrote a paper before the 2016 election outlining their vision: $1 trillion in investment provided by private bond buyers, who would be guaranteed a tax credit to buy the bonds, interest on the debt, and an equity stake with dividends (with up to a 10 percent profit margin). It adds the usual song and dance about how private enterprise is so much more efficient than the public sector, therefore saving money overall.

It takes about two seconds to recognize how ridiculous this is. The government doesn’t require a 10 percent margin on equity, tax credits, and interest payments. That’s a layer of profit that gets built into the expenditure. Governments usually contract out design and construction to private contractors, but there are only two ways for these companies to reduce ownership and operation costs below what the public sector would spend, while still being profitable. They can cut back, either on safety or labor or maintenance; or they can extract a lot of profit from users of the infrastructure (think toll roads). If the infrastructure isn’t inherently profitable, like a bridge in New York City or a toll road in southern California might be, the upgrade probably won’t get built.

Democrats rightly and loudly objected to giving up public assets to private investors at the time. The biggest money-makers would be favored, they said, and less lucrative projects in rural or impoverished areas shunned. Governments would not only lose ownership but democratic control over roads, water systems, electrical grids, and who knows what else. As companies manage costs, it could lead to less resilient, more dangerous infrastructure. And the public would have a high likelihood of being gouged.

Bipartisanship is most often a beard used to defraud the taxpayers,

C%$# Suckers

Mitch Mcconnell and Evil Minions just filibustered the"For the People" act, because if there is anything that Republicans agree on, it's that N*****s should never vote:

Senate Republicans banded together Tuesday to block a sweeping Democratic bill that would revamp the architecture of American democracy, dealing a grave blow to efforts to federally override dozens of GOP-passed state voting laws.

The test vote, which would have cleared the way to start debate on voting legislation, failed 50-50 on straight party lines — 10 votes short of the supermajority needed to advance legislation in the Senate.

Republicans, particularly Senate Republicans, are not the opposition, they are the enemy, and must be treated as such.

118°F (48°C) Above the Arctic Circle

It happened in Verkhojansk, Eastern Siberia today.

Anthropogenic climate change is a bitch:

Newly published satellite imagery shows the ground temperature in at least one location in Siberia topped 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) going into the year’s longest day. It’s hot Siberia Earth summer, and it certainly won’t be the last.

………

The 118-degree-Fahrenheit temperature was measured on the ground in Verkhojansk, in Yakutia, Eastern Siberia, by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel satellites. Other ground temperatures in the region included 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) in Govorovo and 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) in Saskylah, which had its highest temperatures since 1936. It’s important to note that the temperatures being discussed here are land surface temperatures, not air temperatures. The air temperature in Verkhojansk was 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius)—still anomalously hot, but not Arizona hot.

But the ground temperature being so warm is still very bad. Those temperatures beleaguer the permafrost—the frozen soil of yore, which holds in greenhouse gases and on which much of eastern Russia is built. As permafrost thaws, it sighs its methane back into the atmosphere, causing chasms in the Earth.

………

The same region also suffered through a heat wave that led to a very un-Siberian air temperature reading of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) exactly a year ago to the day from the new freak heat. It’s the hottest temperature ever recorded in the region. It was also in the 90s last month in western Siberia, reflecting that the sweltering new abnormal is affecting just about everywhere. And it’s not just the permafrost suffering; wildfires last year in Siberia pumped a record amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, ensuring more summers like this are to come.

Even if we do all the right things, this is going to end up very poorly in the near to medium term, and we are doing NONE of the right things, so we are looking at a truly apocalyptic scenario.

21 June 2021

How Convenient

It turns out that Uber and Lyft were paying community groups to act as AstroTurf in favor of the Gypsy cab companies.

Hoocoodanote?

At the end of February, an impassioned op-ed appeared in The Chicago Crusader, a well-established Black newspaper in the city. Titled “Why Independent Workers Want to Stay Independent,” the op-ed argued that gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft are a “lifeline” to communities of color by providing “a flexible way to work.”

One week later the exact same op-ed was published in the bilingual El Dia Newspaper. Two months later, a version of it appeared again in Crain’s Chicago Business newspaper.

Similar articles and op-eds riffing on the theme of “protecting” independent work have popped up in local publications all over the country, from Colorado to Massachusetts to New Jersey to New York.

In some of these states the articles have a common thread: Their authors represent organizations that serve communities of color and have received recent donations from Lyft, and in some cases Uber or DoorDash.

The op-eds are one facet of a multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign aimed at fighting regulations that would require the companies to treat drivers and delivery workers as full-fledged employees. Over the past several months, news outlets have detailed political action committees set up by Uber and Lyft in New York and Illinois. The Markup found that the practice was even wider spread, occurring in other states and often involving alliances with local community groups.

It's not an alliance, it's prostitution.

Tweet of the Day


Literally 99% of all economic coverage on jobs these days is an exercise in ignoring this fact.

About F%$#ing Time

Finally, the courts are starting to rule against the modern-day slavery ring that is the NCAA.

It's a fairly limited ruling, (9-0) simply stating that their limits of scholarships that the NCAA places on athletes are a violation of antitrust law, but it's a start:

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that the N.C.A.A. could not bar relatively modest payments to student-athletes, a decision that underscored the growing challenges to a college sports system that generates huge sums for schools but provides little or no compensation to the players.

The decision concerned only payments and other benefits related to education. But its logic suggested that the court may be open to a head-on challenge to the ban by the National Collegiate Athletic Association on paying athletes for their participation in sports that bring billions of dollars in revenue to American colleges and universities.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh seemed to invite such a challenge.

“Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. “And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The N.C.A.A. is not above the law.”

While this is good for athletes, it might be better for students in general, since the top schools openly collude on financial aid awards and tuition for students more generally, which should be targeted by antitrust authorities.

I think that this could be a precedent for this as well.

I'm Still Testing Out the New Email Subscription System

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I Can't Even

A street fair celebrating diversity and food trucks was canceled after a furor over their banning a food truck operated by Israeli immigrants.

That's kind of like banning a Chinese food truck because of the PRC's treatment of the Uighurs, or a Turkish one because of the treatment of the Kurds, or an Indian one for the treatment of the Muslims in India, or an Irish one for their status as a tax dodge, etc.

This is inexcusable, it is bigotry, pure and simple, and the BDS crowd in Philadelphia is really, really stupid.

To quote (not) Tallyrand, "This is worse than a crime, it is a mistake."

 A decision to disinvite a food truck selling Israeli food from a Philadelphia food festival scheduled for Sunday drew public criticism and dismay that resulted in the cancellation of the event.

Moshava Philly, a mobile Israeli food business, was supposed to participate in Taste of Home, billed as an “event celebrating diversity through food, art, entertainment, community,” presented by nonprofits Eat Up the Borders and Sunflower Philly.

On Saturday, Moshava posted on Instagram that the organizers told the food truck not to come because of rumors of a protest because of the Israeli business’ presence and that they opted to “uninvite us for fear that the protesters would get aggressive and threaten their event.”

With ongoing backlash, Sunflower Philly, one of the North Fifth Street event sponsors, announced Sunday on social media that the entire fair was canceled.

“Due to the ongoing situation with one of our events partners @eatuptheborders and @moshava_philly we have decided to cancel the ‘Taste of Home’ event,” said the group Facebook post.

The only people who win here are the proprietors of Moshava Philly, who are going to do a land office business over the next few weeks.

Email Subscriptions to This Blog Will Be Changing on July 1

Google is removing the email subscription functionality from Feedburner, and killing the existing email subscriptions in July.

I am looking for a replacement, and will announce, probably repeatedly, whenever I have selected a replacement.

Sorry for the short notice.

Posted via mobile.

20 June 2021

Father's Day Off

Grilled some chicken and some zucchini, but no blogging today.

Still dealing with the fallout from that ferschlugginer water heater.

19 June 2021

It's Officially Juneteenth

This is the first Juneteenth that is an official Federal holiday, thanks to the legislation recently passed by Congress and signed into law.

Juneteenth celebrates the arrival of Union troops in Galveston, freeing the slaves in Texas.

Most of the mainstream media describe as something to the effect of, "Informed the slaves of their freedom," but this is not true.

The slaves knew that they had been freed for years, their owners however, continued to use terrorist tactics to keep them enslaved, and the Union troops enforced the newly freed slaves freedom at the point of a bayonet pointed at the heart of their white former owners.

Even after losing the war, Southern slave holders tried to keep blacks as property, and had to be disabused of that notion by the threat of lethal force: (H/T Bear who Swims for the link)

………

My change in emotion comes after learning from historian friends that the oft-repeated tale of Union soldiers arriving in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865 to inform enslaved African Americans that they were free is pure fiction. Not because they weren’t legally freed 2-½ months earlier when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Or technically freed 2-1/2 years before when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring slavery null and void in areas under rebellion, very much including Texas.

Rather, I now know, the big lie is the incessantly repeated canard that Galveston’s po’ ignant Black folks didn’t know they was free, and that U.S. Major Gen. Gordon Granger had to read a proclamation to spell it out for them.

In fact, they most certainly did know.

………

If Galveston’s Blacks already knew they were free, obviously so too did their slaveholders, who nonetheless kept them in bondage — not by cunning or deceit or ignorance, but by the brute force and tactics of dehumanizing torture they had been using for 200 years.

Gen. Granger didn’t bring liberation by words on a scroll but by troops with fixed bayonets.

………

On the outside chance that Down’s 2015 essay may have been superseded by new historical research, I spoke with him this week. It hasn’t been, he said, reiterating; “It’s not that Gen. Granger was giving information to the enslaved people. He was giving it to the masters” — at the barrel of a gun.

………

None of this is to say that African Americans, or all Americans, shouldn’t celebrate the well-intentioned holiday to Black freedom just created. But if you’re still clutching to any vestige of the popular myth, consider that well before Lee’s surrender, with the Confederacy clearly losing the war, slaveholders from throughout the South relocated their human property to Texas in advance of Union troops to preserve slavery for as long as they could.

………

 For them, I’ll explain: It’s called teaching what actually happened, and what didn’t. And what happened in Galveston on June 19, 1865, is that Gen. Granger arrived to forcibly liberate Black people from intransigent slaveholders who everyone knew were free.

That’s the true history of Juneteenth — along with a message that somehow has eluded the South and their white supremacist inheritors today:

You lost the damned war. Surrender already.

You lost. Get over it.

Even after surrendering, the South needed to be forced not to be evil at the barrel of a gun.

This lesson should be remembered, and perhaps emulated.

Also, in this case, (for once) I agree with John Roberts:  Remedial measures should not be limited to the former states of the Confederacy, but instead should be extended nation wide.

It's time to pry their guns from their cold, dead hands.

Busy Day

The water heater gave up the ghost today.

It didn't stop heating water, but it started to leak.

Had to call a plumber to locate the valve, and I'm now working with a wet-dry vac on the basement.

No hot water in the house until it is replaced this Monday.

18 June 2021

Data Point of the Day

Did you know that about 90% of Californians have lower taxes than Texas?

It's true.  Texas, and this applies to a lot of so-called "Low Tax Jurisdictions".

They are not low tax states for the bulk of their population, they are just low tax states for rich people and large corporations.

This certainly matches the experiences of two people I know/knew, an author and an artist.

The former found his taxes and fees lower in Maryland than in Pennsylvania, and the latter found the same case for New Hampshire and Massachusetts:

………

These statistics are relevant, though, to any discussion of why so many people have been leaving California. Taxes often dominate public discussions of such trends, thanks in part to the unrelenting efforts of Republican policy entrepreneurs Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore, whose 14th annual, mostly tax-based economic competitiveness report for the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council is out this month. But it’s awfully hard to argue that taxes have been the main thing driving the California exodus, given that (1) it has been concentrated among the less affluent, (2) their No. 1 destination has been Texas, according to 2010-2018 Internal Revenue Service data that I tallied up early last year and (3) lower-income and middle-income people face higher effective tax rates in Texas than in California.


………

Middle-class taxes are lower in Nevada, the No. 2 beneficiary of net migration from the Golden State, but for a household at the 2019 California median income of $75,235 the 1.8 percentage point difference in effective tax rate adds up to $1,354 whereas the difference in average annual rent for an apartment or house between metropolitan Los Angeles and metro Las Vegas is $6,336, according to Apartment List’s April estimates.

For those in the top 1% of the income distribution, who in California in 2018 had adjusted gross incomes that started at $680,687 and averaged $2.2 million, the story is much different.

I'm thinking that people who protest against inequality should try to address things like states tax codes, particularly those with no income tax, like Washington, Texas, and Florida, and those with flat income tax rates, like Massachusetts, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

Soaking the rich is popular right now, and the number of people who actually relocate for tax purposes is very small.