31 December 2022

Happy New Year!

Hopefully, it will be a better year for everyone, except for the billionaires.

I'd do a year end roundup, but it would go like:

  1. January, uninformed poorly written rants with profanity.
  2. February, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity.
  3. March, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity.
  4. April, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity.
  5. May, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity.
  6. June, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity.
  7. July, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity and a statement about the Rolling stones.
  8. August, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity.
  9. September, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity.
  10. October, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity.
  11. November, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity.
  12. December, uninformed poorly written rants with bowdlerized (%$#) profanity.

And Trump is still not in jail. 

Hippo Gnu Yarrr!!!!

Snark of the Day

Portland Startup to Mine Artisanal Bitcoin Using Only Slide Rules and Graph Paper
jwz:, yes, THAT JWZ.

It's funny because it is funny, and it's funny because it is Jamie Zawinski.

30 December 2022


Over at the Financial Times, they ask the question, "Doesn’t anyone do due diligence any more?"

It's all a pump and dump game now for investors:

It’s been a lousy month for the reputation of professional investing.

No, it's just a revelation of the truth.

The collapse of FTX revealed that everyone from racy hedge funds to staid pension and sovereign wealth funds had been throwing money at a cryptocurrency exchange with weaker financial controls than Enron.

Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to 11 years in prison for Theranos, a fraudulent blood-testing scheme that deceived Oracle founder Larry Ellison and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Shares in tech companies that went public during the 2020-21 Spac frenzy are down sharply, and many crypto firms are teetering. BlockFi declared bankruptcy on Monday despite its claim of being “backed by the best” including SoFi, Tiger Global and Peter Thiel.

Doesn’t anyone do due diligence any more? The boring process of checking that potential investments can live up to their promises has fallen completely by the wayside. Due diligence once meant sending bankers to check that a mining company really had a working gold mine, hiring accountants to scour the books and asking lawyers to identify contracts that could prove troublesome in a bankruptcy.

These investment firms are interested in getting in early, pumping up the price, and then finding idiots that they can unload their stakes to before the house of cards collapses. 

It's all a scam now.

I Want to Go to Glasgow

Where police were called in to break up a 3000 person game of hide and seek at Ikea.

This is a group of people who know how to party:

Police were called to the Glasgow branch of the Swedish furniture giant on Saturday after thousands of people threatened to turn up for a mass game of hide and seek.

Plans were announced on Facebook to turn the store at the Braehead shopping complex into an impromptu playground.

The trend for using Ikea’s giant warehouses for games began in Europe a few years ago - and has seen people hiding in fridges, under beds and in the firm’s big blue shopping bags.

At some point on Saturday, staff at Braehead became aware of a Facebook thread suggesting some 3,000 youths were about to descend on the store.

As well as drafting in extra security, Ikea contacted Police Scotland, who dispatched five officers.


The trend for using Ikea for hide and seek started in Belgium in 2014 and spread rapidly around Europe, with Ikea bosses initially allowing the events.

In Holland an astonishing 32,000 Facebook users signed up for a game in Eindhoven, as well as 19,000 in Amsterdam and 12,000 in Utrecht.

However in 2015, IKEA was forced to impose a ban because the events were getting out of control.

Citing health and safety a spokesman explained: ‘We need to make sure people are safe, and that’s hard if we don’t know where they are.’

Beats Swedish Meatballs.

A Coda

We now knows what happens when a sexist human trafficker Andrew Tate tries to dunk on Greta Thunberg.

He embarrassed himself, all of twitter dunked on him, and (according to some reports) Romanian authorities discovered that he was in the country because he posted a clap-back video which featured pizza boxes that the would not be recycling.

The boxes revealed that he was in Romania, and authorities arrested him for rape and human trafficking.

It should be noted that this was only Greta Thunberg's SECOND Tweet.

This is the most Viking thing since the sack of Lindisfarne.

The G.O.A.T. is Gone

I am referring, of course, to Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, the greatest soccer player of all time, has died at the age of 82 of complications of cancer.

I'm not much of a follower of soccer, but I knew who, and what, Pelé was, and he was indisputably the greatest of all time.

Here are some highlights:

29 December 2022

Unemployment Numbers Today



Initial unemployement claims edged slightly higher last week, from 214,000 to 225,000, with the 4-week moving average basically flat, and continuing claims rose by 41 thousand to 1.7 million.

I think that the continuing claims are more important than the initial claims.

While the number of people losing jobs is relatively low, those people are remaining out of the job market for much longer.

I do not think that wage pressures are driving inflation, so I think that the Fed should take its foot off the brake.

I do think that we are on the way to a recession, and possibly already in one.

Typically when recessions are declared, they are dated to before the statement.

Then again, what do I know, I'm an engineer, not an economist, dammit!*

*I love it when I get to go all Dr. McCoy!

Why is Covid better than Southwest Airlines?

Because it's airborne.
—Not me, it was DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS

It's an epic take-down, and I wish I had been the one who came up with this.

Why the Vikings Scared the Hell out of Europe for 500 Years

The Norsemen were known as fierce and implacable warriors, we can see that in one of their descendents, Greta Thunberg.

There was a little spat on Twitter between the young anthropogenic climate change activist and former professional kickboxer and generally dodgy character Andrew Tate:

Ms. Thunberg would have to sack a monastery to get anymore Viking.

FWIW, she stopped there, because she knew that it was time to drop the microphone.

Unfortunately for Mr. Tate, the rest of the Twitterverse smelled blood in the water, and went into a feeding frenzy, and Andrew attempted to continue to fight on a battlefield that was already lost:

Oh snap!

It appears that among other things, Karma is a 19 year old descdendent of Vikings on the autism spectrum.

I've not heard good things about Romanian prisons.

28 December 2022

An Interesting Effect of School Closures

This is fascinating.

With all the discussions about remote education, (and masking) and the possible effects on children's socialization, there is remarkably little hard data on the effects, particularly in the long term.

We talk about learning loss, but in the long term, we don't know if it is something short term like summer "Learning loss."

What we do have though, is some hard numbers on juvenile suicide, and suicides dropped off significantly during school shutdowns.

FWIW, this is not because of closer parental supervision, the majority of youth suicides occur at home.

The cause of this is not clear.  It may be school bullying, it may be ordinary stress from the social aspects of being in school.  (Charlie says that you are the worst person you ever will be in middle school)

It is not unreasonable to suggest that suicide rates are a good proxy for mental health, and as such, it appears, that whatever other effects there were from remote learning, there was a significant increase in mental well-being.

This should surprise no one.

It has always been the case that child and teen suicides fall during the summer months, when school is out.

School is a deliberately unpleasant place, with the enforcement or rigid regimes with little rhyme or reason.

These days, it is even worse, because the educational reform establishment believes that the way to make schools "Better" is to make the environment more punitive and regimented.

Today in Good Writing

Sublime verbiage

Naomi Wu has a devastating takedown on Dyson's abortive Zone™ Air-Purifying Headphones.

It turns out that while this might have provided some protection to the wearer, it would have made every Covid positive wearer a super spreader.

"Snot cannon," is a wonderfully evocative term, and it also serves to make the whole concept less marketable.

Mostly though, I just love the name, "Snot Cannon."

If there were a Pulitzer for snark, Naomi Wu would be on the short list.

Philosophy That You Can Use

We just had a useful description of the essential aspects of an asshole from 2015.

We all know an asshole when we see one, I see one when I look in the mirror every day, but it is nice to have the characteristics defined, if just because it provides a warning when one is headed in that direction:

If you asked me what it means to call someone an "asshole" before I really thought about it, I probably would have suggested an “expressivist” analysis. The word, I might have elaborated, is just another term of abuse, a way of simply expressing one’s disapproval. Much as if one had said “Boo on you!”, one isn’t trying to say something that can be true or false, correct or incorrect. The job of foul language like “asshole” isn’t to describe the world, but simply to express one’s disapproving feelings, in an ejaculatory or cathartic burst facilitated by inherently emotive words.

I decided this was completely wrong one day in the summer of 2008, while surfing in a crowded line up. I was watching a guy brazenly break the rules of right of way and thought “Gosh, what an asshole”. That wasn’t a new thought, but I then noticed, for the first time, that this thought has what philosophers call “cognitive content”. I was trying to say that the guy in question was properly classified in a certain way. Other law-abiding surfers weren’t properly classified under that term, and so it could be true or false, correct or incorrect, to say that this guy was, in fact, an asshole.

That got me thinking about what it would be for someone to qualify as an asshole. Harry Frankfurt partly inspired this. I thought: Frankfurt put his finger on “bullsh%$”, and I am a philosopher, so I should define “asshole”. After considerable tinkering and with the help friends, I settled on this definition: the asshole is the guy who systematically allows himself special advantages in cooperative life out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunises him against the complaints of other people.

(%$# mine)

And there you have it.

He goes further into some other turns of phrase, how, "Oops," is va rather neutral and fact based statement when something small goes wrong, but largely ironic when something big, and then proceeds to go onto other, more Anglo-Saxon, terms.

He goes onto explain that these are not just epithets, they are rather precise definitions of objective reality.

Quote of the Day

During natural disasters, "looting" is quite often, "People getting what they need to survive from closed stores."
Atrios, on the Buffalo Police deciding to pull officers off rescue duty in order to pursue people breaking into stores

It makes me want to quote what might have been Kanye West's last not-insane public statement, "If you see a black family, it says they're looting; see a white family, it says they're looking for food," referring to the media coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

I guarantee that the cops will focus their efforts in black and brown neighborhoods.

27 December 2022

Scientists Gaslight Snails

As Anna Russel would say, "I'm not making this up, you know."

A group of neuroscientists have implanted memories in snails

This is a highly complex biochemical procedure, using RNA to transfer memories from a trained snail to an untrained sale, but to the layman, this is chemically assisted gaslighting.

Also, who trains snails?

Transferring memories from one living thing to another sounds like the plot of an episode of “Black Mirror.” But it may be more realistic than it sounds — at least for snails.

In a paper published Monday in the journal eNeuro, scientists at the University of California-Los Angeles reported that when they transferred molecules from the brain cells of trained snails to untrained snails, the animals behaved as if they remembered the trained snails’ experiences.

David Glanzman, a professor of neurobiology at U.C.L.A. who is an author of the new paper, has been studying Aplysia californica, a sea snail, and its ability to make long-term memories for years. The snails, which are about five inches long, are a useful organism for studying how memories are formed because their neurons are large and relatively easy to work with.

In experiments by Dr. Glanzman and colleagues, when these snails get a little electric shock, they briefly retract their frilly siphons, which they use for expelling waste. A snail that has been shocked before, however, retracts its siphon for much longer than a new snail recruit.

Recently, the scientists realized that even when they interfered with their trained snails’ brain cells in a way that should have removed the memory completely, some vestige remained. They decided to see whether something beyond the brain cells’ connections to each other — namely, RNA — could be hanging on to the memory.


To understand what was happening in their snails, the researchers first extracted all the RNA from the brain cells of trained snails, and injected it into new snails. To their surprise, the new snails kept their siphons wrapped up much longer after a shock, almost as if they’d been trained.

Next, the researchers took the brain cells of trained snails and untrained snails and grew them in the lab. They bathed the untrained neurons in RNA from trained cells, then gave them a shock, and saw that they fired in the same way that trained neurons do. The memory of the trained cells appeared to have been transferred to the untrained ones.

Importantly, when the researchers gave the new snails a drug that keeps chemical tags from being added to DNA, the memory did not transfer. That is in line with other experiments that have suggested that blocking the formation of such tags blocks the formation of long-term memory in snails and some rodents, said Dr. Glanzman. That suggests that what they are seeing is in fact related to memory, and not something else to do with the influx of new RNA.

Science was glorious, isn't it?

Florida, Man

Dominatrix Trio Propose Tax-Funded Sex Dungeon At Council Meeting
Outkick on the Florida Dominatrix who demanded public funding for her dungeon
Yes, it's clearly a publicity stunt, and yes, her presentation needs some work.  She needs to take the craxy up a notch to reach "epic", but it's still a profoundly weird, but iwht a bit more prep, there could be some great role play here. (Pun sorta intended)

26 December 2022

The Stupid

It appears that we have hit another milestone in antivaxx insanity, with measels and chickenpox exploding in the United States due to reduced vaccinations.

We are killing ourselves and our children:

A rapidly growing measles outbreak in Columbus, Ohio — largely involving unvaccinated children — is fueling concerns among health officials that more parent resistance to routine childhood immunizations will intensify a resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Most of the 81 children infected so far are old enough to get the shots, but their parents chose not to do so, officials said, resulting in the country’s largest outbreak of the highly infectious pathogen this year.

“That is what is causing this outbreak to spread like wildfire,” said Mysheika Roberts, director of the Columbus health department.


More than a third of parents with children under 18 — and 28 percent of all adults — now say parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their children for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) to attend public schools, even if remaining unvaccinated may create health risks for others, according to new polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health-care research nonprofit.


Adam Moore, a father of three in the Detroit suburbs, said none of his children — 9, 12 and 17 and enrolled in private school — have received routine childhood immunizations, let alone vaccines for the coronavirus or flu. He values personal liberty and says the government has no right telling people what to do with their bodies.

“I find it a hard argument when the government says we’re all for individual liberty on abortion rights and all this other stuff, but when it comes to vaccinations, there’s no such thing as ‘my body, my choice,’” said Moore, 43, an account manager for a marketing company.

I will explain this with small words:  When someone gets an abortion it does not effect anyone but the woman, but when someone refuses to get vaccinations, it creates epidemics which involve the whole community.

Moore, who describes himself as Republican-leaning, said he does not view childhood diseases such as measles and polio, which have resurfaced in recent years, as threats. But if the deadly Ebola virus were circulating, he said, he would want his children to get vaccinated.

Measles kills people, polio cripples them for life, but only Ebola is a scary problem because ……… I guess if you are "Republican-leaning" because it comes from Black people in Africa?


A few weeks ago, [Chief Medical Officer for Alasks, Dr. Anne] Zink, an emergency room doctor, saw her first case of chickenpox when a young woman walked into the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Palmer covered in large, painful lesions. The woman said she and her family did not believe in vaccinations and told Zink she thought chickenpox no longer existed.

Seriously?  Have you seen the ads for the Shingles Vaccine that appear on most major sports broadcasts?  They all say that it comes from the Chicken Pox virus.

Have you ever talked to someone who has had Shingles?  I've had Shingles.  It is some of the most excruciating pain that I have ever experienced.

If I could find a way to monetize stupidity in the United States, I'd be richer than Elon Musk Bernard Arnault.

Hell, I'd be able to buy and sell him 10 times over.


A Lifesize Verion of the Mousetrap Game: (Too much free time)

25 December 2022

Live by Regulatory Arbitrage, Die by Regulatory Arbitrage

Saroff's Rule applies

Remember SPAC?  They were a way of going public while avoiding the normal reporting and due diligence normally required when a company makes an initial public offering.

The short version is that you create a company that does nothing, have people invest in it, have an initial public offering, which is easy because there is nothing to report, and then you acquire a real privately held company, and the resulting company goes public without any real review of the the real company.

It's allure is that it can make IPOs far less transparent, which the banktsters and the venture capitalists love.

For small and retail investors, at best you are paying your vigorish to the banksters, and in the worst case, they lose their money, because they do not have access to the normal reporting required by law.

It appears that, as a result a growing history of poor performance, and changes in regulation and law, SPACS are liquidating left and right:

During the boom in blank-check companies, their creators couldn’t launch them fast enough. Now they are rushing to liquidate their creations before the end of the year, marking an ugly conclusion to the SPAC frenzy.

With few prospects for deals soon and a surprise tax bill looming next year, special-purpose acquisition companies are closing at a rate of about four a day this month, nearly the same pace they were being launched when the sector peaked early last year.

Roughly 70 special-purpose acquisition companies have liquidated and returned money to investors since the start of December. That is more than the total number of SPAC liquidations in the market’s history, according to data provider SPAC Research. SPAC creators have lost more than $600 million on liquidations this month and more than $1.1 billion this year, the data show.


Those SPACs that came late to the game are often struggling to find deals. Falling stock prices and rising interest rates have essentially frozen the market for new public listings, making it difficult for executives to meet their two-year deadline to find a deal. Many of those deadlines are coming up in the first half of next year.

A 1% federal tax on share repurchases that is part of new climate, health and spending legislation has accelerated liquidations. Winding down a SPAC and returning cash to the investors could be considered a repurchase of the company’s existing shares, which would face the buyback tax beginning next year. Some analysts project SPAC liquidation losses will top $2 billion in the coming months.


Also called a blank-check company, a SPAC is a shell firm that raises money from investors and lists publicly with the sole purpose of merging with a private company to take it public. After regulators review the deal and it is completed, the company going public replaces the SPAC in the stock market.

Such mergers burst onto the scene as popular alternatives to traditional initial public offerings in 2020 and 2021. The boom turned into a bust during this year’s market reversal.

An exchange-traded fund tracking companies that went public this way is down more than 70% this year, dragged down by losses in startups such as sports-betting firm DraftKings Inc. and electric car maker Lucid Group Inc. Companies that went public via SPACs have performed worse than other newly public companies this year.

First, let me remind you of what I call  Saroff's Rule, "If a financial transaction is complex enough to require that a news organization use a cartoon to explain it, its purpose is to deceive."

Second, this was always just an exercise in regulatory arbitrage, and regulators should have recognize that and acted accordingly.

We're Screwed

It has been known since well before Covid was a thing that Coronavirus results in a compromized immune system, at least for a few months following an infection.

We now have Covid studies showing that https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/even-mild-covid-cases-can-have-lasting-effects-on.

If you are wondering about the spiking numbers for RSV and Influenza this winter, this is the cause, not some bogus "immune deficit" from wearing masks:

The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, suggests COVID-19 can have an impact on the immune system many months after the virus is contracted – even among these who have mild symptoms.
In a collaboration, including scientists from Flinders University and the University of Adelaide, researchers used a cohort of 69 people who had contracted COVID-19. Of those, 50 had mild symptoms, six had moderate infection, with seven classed as severe and a further six categorised as critical.
They found the immune system of participants was ‘significantly altered’ for up to six months after infection took place.
‘The study found substantial dysregulation of immune cell numbers that was strongest at 12 weeks post infection, but was still evident in most cases for up to six months and potentially even longer,’ Professor David Lynn said.
As well as an increased number of immune cells and antibodies, the authors also found a strong dysregulation of gene expression – the information stored in DNA that governs the way cells react to changing environments.
Researchers said they were ‘surprised’ that they could not find any direct correlation between the disease severity and the extent of immune dysregulation, while Professor Lynn said there were no clear indications as to why people recovered at different rates.

This isn't, "Just the flu," and we are seeing a huge number of secondary infections and long term disability.

Letting this run its course is a public health disaster.

Stay Classy, Greg

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has bused migrants to the Vice Presidential residence in Washington, DC, and left them out on the street in single digit weather.

Putting people at risk like this has to be breaking some laws, particularly since they are sent across state lines, and I would like to see US Attorneys in Texas and Washington, DC looking into this:

Three busloads of migrants were dropped off outside the Washington DC home of US vice-president Kamala Harris late on Christmas Eve, the latest episode in an escalating battle between the Joe Biden White House and the governors of southern Republican states over federal immigration policy.

The Central and South American migrants, believed to be sent from Texas, were dropped off in below-freezing temperatures, with some wearing only sweatshirts and shorts.

Texas’s far-right governor, Greg Abbott, has previously sent buses to Harris’s Naval Observatory home. An organizer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, Amy Fischer, told local news station ABC7 that Abbott orchestrated the drop off as a political stunt.

“It really does show the cruelty behind governor Abbott and his insistence on continuing to bus people here without care about people arriving late at night on Christmas Eve when the weather is so cold,” Fischer said.

The group took the travelers to the shelter of a local church where they were given warm food and clothes.

The only reason that I don't want to see Greg Abbott frog marched out of his offices in handcuffs is because he is a paraplegic.

They would have to wheel him out in handcuffs.

Baby, It's Cold Outside


As you are no doubt aware, much of the United States is now experiencing a bomb cyclone, with associated extremely low temperatures, blizzards, and extremely high winds.

Yesterday, we saw 7°F (-14°C) in Owings Mills, MD and high winds, though no blizzard.

Needless to say, in addition to blizzards and dozens of deaths, there has been widespread disruption of airline flights over one of the busiest weekends of the year:

A wild winter storm enveloped much of the US on Saturday, bringing blizzards, freezing rain, flooding and intense cold close to record lows. More than a dozen deaths were attributed to the storm. Holiday travel and utilities were disrupted, with around 1.4 million homes and businesses left without power by late afternoon.

Forecasters said the storm, a “bomb cyclone” or “bombogenesis”, was caused by a collision of cold, dry air from the north and warm, moist air from the south.

More than 200 million people were under some form of winter advisory or warning in “one of the greatest extents of winter weather warnings and advisories ever”, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

As the system pushed as far south as Texas, many faced the coldest Christmas Eve for decades. The storm, named Elliott, downed power lines, littered highways with accidents and led to mass flight cancellations. It stretched 2,000 miles from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the Mexico border. Temperatures were drastically below normal from the Rockies to the Appalachians.

I will break my embargo on blogging at work to note that we lost power on Friday at work, and we all had to go home 3 hours early.

Thankfully, there are no such at home.

These events are described as once in a century, but they have become increasingly common as a result of global warming.

24 December 2022

Look Out Below

US durable goods orders fell by 2.1% in November, far worse than the consensus of a 1.1% fall.

Most of the fall is from a decline in commercial aircraft sales, which is not surprising, much like real estate, that market is driven by interest rates, but this is still bad news.

The Fed is getting the recession that they want:

The numbers: Orders for manufactured goods sank 2.1% in November in another sign of slackening demand in the U.S. economy as the year winds down.

Fewer contracts for commercial jets explained most of the weakness last month. But orders minus transportation and a key measure of business investment posted just very small increases.

Orders rise in an expanding economy and shrink when growth weakens. A variety of measures point to waning demand for goods due to a more fragile economy and a shift in consumer spending toward services such as travel and recreation.

Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast a 1.1% decline in orders for durable goods — or products meant to last at least three years.

Key details: Orders for aircraft nosedived 36% last month, reflecting typical seasonal swings in contract signings. Demand for new cars and trucks also fell slightly.

The transportation segment is a large and volatile category that often exaggerates the ups and downs in industrial production.

I expect a recession next year.

Imagine That?

In news that should surprise no one,  the new FTX management team has found over $1 billion in assets squirreled away all over the world by the now insolvent crypto exchange.

This ain't your grand-parent's couch cushions:

FTX, the insolvent CeFi exchange, has unearthed $1B worth of assets including $720M in cash stored in hundreds of bank accounts, the company said in a court hearing on Tuesday.

FTX’s new management team, who took control of the company on Nov. 11 under bankruptcy court proceedings,said the cash is held in various U.S. financial institutions and that Bahamas-based FTX has access to an additional $500M.

“We are reaching out to all of those banks and changing the signatories on the accounts so that we can get access to the accounts and move the cash as much as we can to authorized depository institutions,” said Mary Cilia, FTX’s new CFO.

Cilia said that an additional $130M worth of fiat cash is held by Japanese institutions. However, she said Japanese regulators are earmarking those funds to redeem local FTX customers.

Gee, they didn't keep their assets in cryptocurrency? There's a shocker.

Don’t Throw Me in That Briar Patch!


Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) has the vapors over the House Ways and Means Committee releasing Donald Trump's tax returns. It appears that he b elieves that this could lead to could lead to the release of tax teturns for Supreme Court Justices.

Maybe it is a matter of concern if you are a hypocrite from Texas, but for the the rest of us, this appears to be an unalloyed good:

The House Ways and Means Committee released the executive summary of a report on former President Donald Trump's tax returns late Tuesday, and the findings were about what you'd expect. The headline seems to be that the IRS was not conducting its mandatory audits of a sitting president while Trump was that president. Longtime viewers may remember that Trump used to promise he would soon release his returns, but they were under audit so he couldn't. (He could've.) After a while, he stopped even offering the audit excuse and just waged an all-out legal war to keep them out of public view. You'll be shocked to learn that the returns in question feature red flags regarding charitable contributions, "related party loans," and various deductions Trump has claimed since 2015.

But maybe the funniest element here has been the extended histrionics from House Republicans at the prospect that Trump's tax returns could be released. As a reminder, every presidential candidate since Nixon has voluntarily released their tax returns except Trump, the guy whose eponymous foundation and university have been shuttered for extremely above-board business practices, and whose flagship company was found guilty of criminal tax fraud earlier this month. If you're curious whether Joe Biden is getting shady kickback payments from Hunter Biden via his laptop or whatever, you could start your investigation by reviewing his tax returns for the last few years. They're posted on his website! But the public getting a look at the tax returns of his predecessor, Mr. Legal Man, is a national emergency.

It's such an emergency, in fact, that Rep. Kevin Brady took to the microphones to warn of the slippery slope we're toeing up to on this dark day in American history.

The Supreme Court is the most opaque institution in the Federal government.  We do not know how corrupt they are, though between Clarence Thomas and Bret Kavanaugh, I am pretty sure that there are some snollygosters on the court.

Releasing their tax returns would go a long way toward deterring corruption at the court.

Elections Matter

Biden appointed noted anti-monopoly advocate Lina Khan to head the FCC, and  she has made aggressive moves against anticompetitive behavior.  The latest case is getting Mastercard not to block competing payment networks.

While I have been generally unimpressed with Joe Biden's priorities, I have been rather impressed the the people that he has hired, except, of course Pete Buttigieg:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an order Friday requiring Mastercard to not block competing debit payment networks from having the customer data they need to process payments.

The FTC said in a release on Friday that Mastercard must provide customer account information to competing networks to let them process debit payments, stating that it violated provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act requires banks to allow at least two unaffiliated networks on every debit card to give merchants a choice of which network to use for a debit transaction. It also prohibits payment card networks from stopping merchants from using other networks.

But the FTC alleges that Mastercard has been using illegal business tactics to require merchants to route debit card payments through its network.


The release states that Mastercard used its own control over a process called tokenization to stop the use of competing networks. Tokenization is a process through which a cardholder’s primary account number is replaced with a different number to protect the account number during certain stages of a debit transaction, according to the FTC.


The FTC said in its release that it voted 4-0 to issue its complaint and accept a consent agreement, and it will publish a description of the agreement soon. The agreement will be subject to public comment, and then the FTC will decide whether to make the agreement final.

It's nice to see antitrust regulators doing their job.

23 December 2022

She's an Entitled Sociopath

The good folks at the Daily Beast have obtained a copy of the guide that was given to Kyrsten Sinema staffers when they started, and it is a f%$#ing trip.

It is a measure of her level of self-importance and solipsism.

This is way beyond the sort of, "Asshole boss who expects his secretary to pick up their cleaning," thing.

More importantly is the fact that one of her staffers leaked this to the press.  Sinema is not someone who can get and keep loyal and competent staff:

Always have a “room temperature” bottle of water on hand for her at all times. Make sure you get her groceries. And book her a weekly, hour-long massage.

These are just a few of the tasks, framed in a dizzying array of do’s and don’ts, that have fallen to the staffers for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), according to an internal memo obtained by The Daily Beast.

The 37-page memo is intended as a guide for aides who set the schedule for and personally staff Sinema during her workdays in Washington and Arizona. And while the document is mostly just revealing of Sinema’s exceptionally strong preferences about things like air travel—preferably not on Southwest Airlines, never book her a seat near a bathroom, and absolutely never a middle seat—Sinema’s standards appear to go right up to the line of what Senate ethics rules allow, if not over.

One section of the staffer guide explains that the senator’s executive assistant must contact Sinema at the beginning of the work week in Washington to “ask if she needs groceries,” and copy both the scheduler and chief of staff on the message to “make sure this is accomplished.” It specifies Sinema will reimburse the assistant through CashApp. The memo also dictates that if the internet in Sinema’s private apartment fails, the executive assistant “should call Verizon to schedule a repair” and ensure a staffer is present to let a technician inside the property.

The Senate ethics handbook states that “staff are compensated for the purpose of assisting Senators in their official legislative and representational duties, and not for the purpose of performing personal or other non-official activities for themselves or on behalf of others.”

To quote the late Billy Mays, "But wait, there's more!"


“Kyrsten works hard, but is protective of her personal time,” reads the very first paragraph of the document, which explains that Sinema has “time-consuming commitments outside of this job.” Those commitments seem to be a reference to her extensive schedule of training and competing in marathons and Ironman events—which are referenced numerous times in the memo—as well as her other job teaching classes at Arizona State University.

“Do not schedule anything, ever, outside of ‘regular’ work hours without first getting Kyrsten’s permission,” the document reads. “She will very, very rarely agree to work outside the regular hours, so only ask if it’s a big deal.”

The memo is clear that Sinema doesn’t start work before 8:45 a.m. and staffers should not schedule anything after 8 p.m. In fact, it specifies that the senator is “often not reachable” after 8 p.m. during the week, which would make her highly unusual among U.S. senators.

The document also makes clear that much of Sinema’s time outside of “regular hours” consists of exercising and training for athletic competition. “She wakes up very early to work out, and sleep is very important to her,” it says. The memo also specifies that on weekends, she “needs a later start to accommodate her training schedule,” which entails scheduling no work obligations earlier than 1 p.m.

Apparently, facilitating Sinema’s athletic schedule was a core duty for her official staff. The memo instructs aides to add Sinema’s races to her calendar and to “consult with her” on how much recovery time she will need afterward. “These activities are very important to her and should be protected,” it says.

Another section laid out in detail Sinema’s eating schedule. “Due to her very high level of activity, she is always hungry and needs to consume a lot of protein each day,” it reads, specifying that she has to eat between 12 and 12:30 p.m., 2 and 2:30 p.m., and 5 and 6:30 p.m. It states Sinema brings her own lunch and snack to work, but that she cannot be scheduled beyond 6:30 p.m. without staff “ensuring she has dinner.”

Sinema’s commitment to athletic pursuits also extended into regular hours. The memo explains that Sinema must be scheduled for two 45-minute physical therapy sessions during the week, even specifying that her work calls could be scheduled during those appointments. She also expected to be booked for a weekly hour-long massage, even if it were in the middle of the legislative workday, according to a former Sinema aide who spoke to The Daily Beast and was granted anonymity to describe the workings of the senator’s office.


“KS does not like to fly,” the memo reads, using the senator’s initials. “It is your job to make her as comfortable as possible on each flight.”

Unsurprisingly, some staffers found these instructions—and Sinema’s zeal in ensuring they were followed to the letter—to not only be onerous but detrimental to the overall staff’s mission to serve constituents, craft policy, and communicate that work to Arizona.

“When I look back, it’s unbelievable the amount of time staffers spent just to accommodate her,” said the former aide.

There is something seriously wrong with the distinguished gentlewoman from Arizona.

Notes on the Former Democratic Party Golden Boy

Carl Beijer has some notes on the revelation that rising Democratic Party star Sean McElwee's colluded with Sam Bankman-Fried's efforts to find straw political donors and his subsequent defenestration from Data for Progress, the organization that he ran and founded.

It appears the he was coercing employees to take money from the Crypto-Fraudster Bankman-Fried and then donate that money to candidates of his choice.

Until his firing, the political press had had presented him as the, "Avatar of a rising generation of millennial leftists," only he was loathed by the left, and bragged that he was seen as, "Kind of a sell-out." (First link)

Mr. Beijer notes that the "real" left has loathed him for years:

Sean had a small network of loyalists and a larger audience of sympathizers among mainstream Democrats, but among rank-and-file activists and organizers, in left media and academia, from the lowliest dirtbag left Twitter posters to staffers in the House and Senate, Sean has long been regarded as an ambitious opportunist. This is not a story of the left being hoodwinked and watching their hero crash and burn; this is a story of journalists believing his hype for years and the left saying “we told you so.”
McElwee is an archetype of the corrupt grifter that permeates the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment).

The press loves them, particularly, as is the case of Sean McElwee, when they preside over alcohol soaked happy hours. (Second link)

His ascendance is an indication of the venality and corruption of both the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) and the political press that covers them.

The Epitome of Looting

After 30 years of profiteering, the Martha Wright-Reed Bill has been passed, which gives the FCC authority to regulate the rapacious prison cell phone companies for in-state calls.

Contacts between inmates and their loved ones decrease prison violence, mental illness, and recidivism, but there is a profit to be made, so these phone companies pay kickbacks to the prisons and jails, and rates can exceed $1.00/minute for the inmates of the people that they call.

By comparison, for those carriers who charge domestic long distance rates, it tends to be in the 5¢ a minute.

The prison-industrial complex may be even more corrupt than the military-industrial complex:

A brand-new law (awaiting only the president’s signature) will let the Federal Communications Commission directly regulate rates in the notoriously predatory prison calling industry. Under the threat of having to provide a solid product for a reasonable price, companies may opt to call it a day and open up the market to a more compassionate and forward-thinking generation of providers.

Prison calling systems depend on the state and the prison system, and generally have run the gamut from good enough to shockingly bad. With a literally captive customer base, companies had no real reason to innovate, and financial models involving kickbacks to the prisons and states incentivized income at all costs.

Inmates are routinely charged extortionate rates for simple services like phone calls and video calls (an upsell), and have even had visitation rights rescinded, leaving paid calls the only option. Needless to say, this particular financial burden falls disproportionately on people of color and those with low incomes, and it’s a billion-dollar industry.

It’s been this way for a long time, and former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn spent years trying to change it. When I talked with her in 2017, before she left the agency, she called inmate calling “the clearest, most glaring type of market failure I’ve ever seen as a regulator.” It was an issue she spent years working on, but she gave a lot of credit to Martha Wright-Reed, a grandmother who had organized and represented the fight to bring reform to the system right up until she died.

This has been going on for decades, and has been ignored.  It's good that this has changed.

22 December 2022

We are Screwed

A new evaluation of the Greenland ice fields indicates that they are melting 2 orders of magnitude faster than previously believed.

If the Greenland ice sheet goes away, sea levels rise 7.2 meters, and that does not include the geological spring back from the removal of the weight of ice from the islands it up.

We are f%$#ed:

Greenland's glaciers are melting 100 times faster than previously calculated, according to a new model that takes into account the unique interaction between ice and water at the island’s fjords.

The new mathematical representation of glacial melt factors in the latest observations of how ice gets eaten away from the stark vertical faces at the ends of glaciers in GGreenland. Previously, scientists used models developed in Antarctica, where glacial tongues float on top of seawater — a very different arrangement.

"For years, people took the melt rate model for Antarctic floating glaciers and applied it to Greenland's vertical glacier fronts," lead author Kirstin Schulz, a research associate in the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement. "But there is more and more evidence that the traditional approach produces too low melt rates at Greenland's vertical glacier fronts."

The researchers published their findings in September in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Every time the scientists who study need to adjust their models, the numbers get worse.

I may have beach front property in the not too distant future.

The Rats Turn on Each Other

FTX co-founder Gary Wang and Alameda research CEO Caroline Ellison, have pled guilty and will be cooperating with prosecutors.

One would think that as deep a student of philosophy as Sam Bankman-Fried would understand the concept of the Prisoner's Dilemma:

FTX co-founder Gary Wang and former Alameda Research co-CEO Caroline Ellison have both pleaded guilty to federal charges, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, said Wednesday.

Wang pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Ellison pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The charges were released the same night that former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was en route from the Bahamas to New York, where he faces eight federal criminal charges from the same prosecutors who accepted plea deals from Ellison and Wang. The duo's plea agreements were signed Monday, the day Bankman-Fried was originally supposed to return to the U.S. before a court hearing in the Bahamas devolved into chaos.

SBF is now in the United States, free on $250,000,000.00 bond. (This is not decimal place error.)

Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced former cryptocurrency executive, was granted release from federal custody in a Manhattan court on Thursday under highly restrictive bail conditions, including a $250 million bond secured by his parents’ interest in their California home and a requirement that he remain in home detention with them.


Mr. Bankman-Fried, 30, appeared in federal court just hours after his extradition from the Bahamas, where he was arrested at a luxury apartment complex on Dec. 12. FTX, the exchange that Mr. Bankman-Fried founded, was based in the Caribbean nation.

One hopes that there will be dozens of people who will end up serving decades incarcerated.  It's the only thing that will deter future wrongdoing.

It's Thursday, So

I think that the economic news is good, but the market disagrees, and finds continued low initial unemployment claims and an upward revision of 3rd quarter GDP a reason for a sell-off.

Needless to say, the incentives for Wall Street are somewhat perverse.  They find good news to be bad news because it will lead to more Fed rate hikes:

The U.S. labor market remains historically tight and resilient consumer spending propelled stronger economic growth this summer than previously estimated.

But economists say higher interest rates resulting from the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tame inflation could weigh on growth and hiring in the coming year.

New filings for unemployment benefits rose by a seasonally adjusted 2,000 last week but remain at historically low levels, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The 216,000 claims last week were in line with prepandemic levels, when the labor market was also tight, suggesting that employers are holding on to workers despite concerns about an economic slowdown.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said third-quarter economic growth was stronger than previously estimated. The economy grew at a 3.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate, up from an earlier estimate of 2.9%, largely due to higher estimates of consumer spending. The third-quarter number snapped two consecutive quarters of contraction.

Taken together, the two reports point to an economy in expansion despite the Fed’s aggressive pace of interest-rate increases. Fed officials are looking to cool the economy to bring down inflation, which hit 40-year highs earlier this year. 

The Federal Reserve is going to destroy us all.

Cold as Hell. Funny as F%$#, but Cold as Hell

Santa, baby.

Quote of the Day

Charlie Crist has been a major political figure there for decades, and I can’t tell you a single thing that he stands for except “looking like a man who would be cast as a politician on a network television show.”
—Hamilton Nolan at In These Times, musing on the profound dysfunction of the Florida Democratic Party and their selection of former Republican Charlie Crist as their gubernatorial nominee this year.

He's an optimist.

He thinks that it is incompetence and a lack of focus.  It's not, it is corruption.

As I noted recently (2 days ago), "The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is not in the business of winning elections.  The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is in the business of paying for their kids private school educations."

The structure of the party, particularly in Florida, is directed toward people personally enriching themselves at the expense of their supporters and donors.

21 December 2022

Gee, You Think?

I understand that the first casualty of war is the truth, but the assertions from anonymous sources that Russia blew up the Nord Stream 1 & 2 pipelines has always been bullsh%$.

All they needed to do to cut off Europe was to shut the valve on their end.

People who promulgated this, the anonymous, "Five European officials with direct knowledge of security discussions," lie are either liars, stupid, or both: (Truth is always the first casualty of war)

After explosions in late September severely damaged undersea pipelines built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe, world leaders quickly blamed Moscow for a brazen and dangerous act of sabotage. [This link has the anonymous quote above] With winter approaching, it appeared the Kremlin intended to strangle the flow of energy to millions across the continent, an act of “blackmail,” some leaders said, designed to threaten countries into withdrawing their financial and military support for Ukraine.

But now, after months of investigation, numerous officials privately say that Russia may not be to blame after all for the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines.

“There is no evidence at this point that Russia was behind the sabotage,” said one European official, echoing the assessment of 23 diplomatic and intelligence officials in nine countries interviewed in recent weeks.

Some went so far as to say they didn’t think Russia was responsible. Others who still consider Russia a prime suspect said positively attributing the attack — to any country — may be impossible.

 Again, why would Russia blow up a pipeline when it could simply shut off the supply, and had, in fact already shut off much of the supply, is laughable.


Given the relatively shallow depth of the damaged pipelines — approximately 80 yards at the site of one explosion — a number of different actors could theoretically have pulled off the attack, possibly with the use of submersible drones or with the aid of surface ships, officials said. The list of suspects isn’t limited only to countries that possess manned submarines or deep-sea demolitions expertise.

While a depth of 80 meters is roughly twice the depth one would normally see with recreational divers, you can reach depths of over 120 meters with various alternative gas mixtures, and even then, there are plenty of remotely operated ROVs that could deliver an explosive to that depth.

It should be noted that the warhead weight for a heavyweight torpedo is 200-300 kg, and a lightweight torpedo has a warhead in the 50-100  kg range, an ROV with a warhead of this range would not require any particularly difficult design or manufacturing work.

What Part of “Comcast” Don’t You Understand?

We don't care, we don't have to ……… we're Comcast
Gee, Comcast "customer service" agents are "accidentally" refusing qualified poor folks from federal subsidies.

It could be incompetence, but we are talking about Comcast, so it's safer to assume that this was driven by a malicious profit motive, because that is how they roll:

People with low incomes can get free Internet service through Comcast and a government program, but signing up is sometimes harder than it should be because of confusion within Comcast's customer service department.

Massachusetts resident Tonia Williams qualified for the US government's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides $30 monthly discounts, and for Comcast's Internet Essentials Plus, a $30 monthly service for low-income people that is essentially free when combined with the ACP discount. But when she tried to use the ACP discount with Comcast's low-income service, Comcast incorrectly told her she wasn't eligible because she was already a Comcast customer.

Williams, a certified nursing assistant who was not working when she spoke to Ars, was eventually able to get free home Internet service for her family. But she faced several hassles and said she would have given up if it hadn't been for David Isenberg, a Falmouth resident who's been helping low-income people in his town navigate the process. Isenberg knew Williams because she was previously a home health aide taking care of Isenberg's wife's uncle.


The confusion is related to a Comcast rule that makes customers ineligible for Internet Essentials low-income service if they have been a Comcast subscriber in the previous 90 days. That rule and another one related to unpaid bills are not supposed to apply to people who also qualify for the federal ACP program.

Comcast can call it an error all they want, but it appears that their customer service representatives are forcing customers to jump through unreasonable hoops to get their lowest cost tier.

I am inclined to believe that this is not poor training, but rather a mandate to up-sell.

Tweet of the Day

Clearly, Elon Musk is a socialist, because he loves being publicly owned.

Can We Please Just Burn Them to the Ground?

I am referring, of course to Wells Fargo, which once again has to been caught systematically defrauding its customers, and fined a record $3,700,000,000.00.

Given the massive fines paid by the criminal enterprise masquerading as a financial institution (but I repeat myself) in the past, it is highly that this will not deter them.

The senior executives should be frog marched out of their  offices in handcuffs, and the corporation should be dissolved, their shareholders should be wiped out, and the existing infrastructure, banks and the like, should be broken up into small pieces with geographic scope:

Wells Fargo’s yearslong mistreatment of its customers has resulted in another record-breaking fine and a warning that more restrictions on its ability to do business could soon follow.

On Tuesday, the bank agreed to pay $1.7 billion in penalties and another $2 billion in damages to settle claims that it engaged in an array of banking violations over the last decade that harmed millions of consumers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said.

The latest developments contribute to a picture, years in the making, of Wells Fargo as one of America’s worst-run big banks. For decades, the 170-year-old bank has struggled to fix its practices despite run-ins with regulators, even as employees and customers continued to identify new problems.

The consumer protection bureau said Wells Fargo did not record customer payments on home and auto loans properly, wrongfully repossessed some borrowers’ cars and homes and charged overdraft fees even when customers had enough money to cover purchases they made with their bank cards. Wells Fargo stopped the conduct this year as part of a larger effort to clean up other unlawful practices stretching back to 2011, the filing said.

The fine is the largest ever imposed by the regulator, breaking a previous record of $1 billion, also set by an action against Wells Fargo. It brings the total penalties the government has levied against the bank for mistreating customers and investors to $6.2 billion since 2016 and almost $20 billion since the financial crisis.


The consumer protection bureau’s director, Rohit Chopra, told reporters on Tuesday that the action against the bank “should not be read as a sign that Wells Fargo has moved past its longstanding problems or that the C.F.P.B.’s work here is done.”


“Wells Fargo’s rinse-repeat cycle of violating the law has harmed millions of American families,” Mr. Chopra said in a statement. “This is an important initial step for accountability and long-term reform of this repeat offender.”

Burn them to the ground, salt the earth.

The DoJ, SEC, CFPB, OCC, etc. should do good here.

I know that you are asking here, "What is good?" To quote Arnold Schwartenegger, it is to, "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!"

20 December 2022

Pass the Popcorn

Leeroy Jenkins!!!

The House Ways and Means Committee has voted to release Donald Trump's tax returns.

I think that we are going to discover that the Donald is far further from the billionaire that he claims to be.

One interesting reveal is that the IRS ignored its own rules and did not audit his taxes until the Committee demanded his taxes.

I'm waiting with bated breath for the papers to com out:

The House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday voted 24-16 to release former president Donald Trump’s tax returns, capping a protracted legal and political battle that began when Trump was in the Oval Office.

Democrats have for more than three years pushed to make Trump’s tax returns public, and the documents were finally made available to the Ways and Means Committee late last month after the Supreme Court denied a last attempt by Trump to withhold the records.

After the vote, the committee revealed that the Internal Revenue Service had failed to audit Trump’s returns during his first two years in office despite a rule mandating such reviews, and never completed any audits while he served.

The IRS began its first audit of Trump’s returns on the same day that Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), the Ways and Means chairman, sent a written request in April 2019 for the information, and then assigned the bulk of the work to just one agent, the panel said.
Funny how that works.


In its investigation, the Ways and Means Committee homed in on a little known provision in the IRS’s internal rules that has mandated tax audits for sitting presidents since 1977. The panel found that the program was effectively dormant under the Trump administration.

And after the IRS did start an audit in 2019, Trump took a number of steps to try to slow it down, such as seeking information under the Freedom of Information Act, “failing to provide all the facts needed,” and other measures. The IRS’s shortage of needed employees also slowed down the audit, the report said.

The release of Trump’s tax information is the most sweeping such actions taken by Congress in a half-century. A similar action involving a president has not occurred since 1973, when the IRS turned over President Richard M. Nixon’s tax returns to a congressional committee.

I am amused.

Only 1½ Centuries Late

The House of Representatives has voted to remove the bust of Roger B. Taney from the building, and replace it with a bust of Thurgood Marshall.

For those of you are missing the history, Taney, then the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was the author of the infamous Dredd Scott decision,  which declared that black people could not be citizens of the United States, and that slaves could never be free.

Taney's bust being placed in a place of honor in the US Congress was an travesty.

As a Maryland history aside, the Maryland small town of Taneytown has nothing to the the aforementioned Supreme Court Justice, the town was named after Raphael Taney, one of the first people to own land in the area.

Headline of the Day

Why Petulant Oligarchs Rule Our World
—Paul Krugman writing in the The New York Times
It's not a bad way of saying that, every billionaire is a policy failure.

Where's the Money in That?

One of the surprises in November's midterm election was in Washington's 3rd Congresssional district, where barely funded Marie Gluesenkamp Perez defeated a firmly MAGAt candidate Joe Kemp in a red district.

How did she win? By aggressively recruiting and using volunteers to canvass door to door.

Just a few miles south, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who got significant DCCC support her defeat defeating the contemptible corrupt incumbent Kurt Schrader, (Schrader refused to endorse her, and went on to endorse right-wing independent candidate for Oregon governor) went well funded and, got anan office full of paid staffers, lost in a blue leaning district.

This Gluesenkamp Perez's campaign seems to be an inexpensiveness and low risk route to electoral success.  This strategy does not preclude any other actions, because the resources required are relatively small.

This is why the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) will studiously avoid learning lessons from this campaign, because efficiency cost the consultants money, because they get a percentage of the media buys.

Amid the punditry and late-night quarterbacking of the postelection season, a major lesson is getting lost: The importance of volunteers knocking on doors.

It's not getting lost, it is being studiously ignored, for the above stated reasons. 

A case in point is the astonishing victory that an army of volunteers more than 500 strong, most of them young mothers, pulled off in the last weeks of the race in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District that includes Vancouver.

The pollsters at FiveThirtyEight had given Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, a down-to-earth auto body shop owner and Democrat, a 2% chance of winning the district against Joe Kent, a career soldier and rising MAGA Republican star who was crushing Gluesenkamp Perez in their debates.

Frightened by Kent’s white nationalist extremism, hundreds of people volunteered for Gluesenkamp Perez. Tim Gowen, the campaign field director, a college friend of Gluesenkamp Perez, was swamped; but he was all in for marshaling these recruits.

Crucially, Gowen identified key volunteers and gave us a green light to form a “call squad” of 12 people — not to call voters, but to call volunteers, many of them first-timers, and dispatch them around the community to influence voters at their doors. Half of the squad were volunteers from the district, and half were people of color who had been trained by Base Building for Power, a school for grassroots organizers. A squad member phoned each volunteer several times a week, assigning shifts and offering encouragement and advice.

In all, the volunteers knocked on nearly 40,000 doors, narrowly clinching the race for Gluesenkamp Perez. FiveThirtyEight called her win “the biggest upset of the election.”


Early on in Gluesenkamp Perez’s campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decided it had bigger fish to fry, leaving her largely to fend for herself. Just across the river, the party threw its weight behind Jamie McLeod-Skinner, the incumbent in Oregon’s District 5, south of Portland. The DCCC funded a field staff at least five times larger than Glusenkamp Perez’s but recruited many fewer volunteers. McLeod-Skinner lost by 2 points.

The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is not in the business of winning elections.  The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is in the business of paying for their kids private school educations.

To paraphrase General Smedley Butler, "The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is a racket."

19 December 2022

Yeah, like He Will Be Prosecuted

So, rather unsurprisingly the January 6th committee has referred Donald Trump for prosecution, and, named, "Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kenneth Chesebro," as possible co-conspirators.

They also referred 4 members of Congress, likely future speaker Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, and Andy Biggs for refusing to comply with the committee's subpoenas.

Call me a cynic, but I do not expect anything to come of this.

There are way too many people inside the beltway who hold their culture of impunity to be sacrosanct:

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol accused former President Donald J. Trump on Monday of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an act of Congress and one other federal crime as it referred him to the Justice Department for potential prosecution.

The action, the first time in American history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution, is the coda to the committee’s 18-month investigation into Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in a violent mob of the former president’s supporters laying siege to the Capitol.

The criminal referrals were a major escalation for a congressional investigation that is the most significant in a generation. The panel named five other Trump allies — Mark Meadows, his final chief of staff, and the lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kenneth Chesebro — as potential co-conspirators with Mr. Trump in actions the committee said warranted Justice Department investigation. The charges, including a fourth for Mr. Trump of conspiracy to make a false statement, would carry prison sentences, some of them lengthy, if federal prosecutors chose to pursue them.

Yeah, you mean Merrick Garland?  Not gonna happen.  He's too dedicated to the norms fairy.


The executive summary, a 154-page narrative of Mr. Trump’s relentless drive to remain in power after he lost the 2020 election by seven million votes, identifies co-conspirators who aided Mr. Trump. But it singles out the former president as the primary cause of the mob violence.

“That evidence has led to an overriding and straightforward conclusion: The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the summary stated. “None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.”


The panel also referred four Republican members of Congress to the House Ethics Committee — including the man seeking to become the next speaker, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California — because of their refusal to comply with the panel’s subpoenas.

There should be aggressive criminal investigations, with an eye toward making people flip on their co-defendants, but that is not going to happen.

Nothing to see here, move along.