19 February 2018

The New Pennsylvania Map is Out

Following the complete inability of the legislature and the governor to agree on come up with something that meets the requirements of the Pennsylvania constitution, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has drawn the new Congressional map, and it appears to be a far fairer map:
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday imposed a new congressional district map that upends previous boundaries, renumbers districts across the state and gives a potential boost to Democrats in the 2018 House elections.

Under the court's redrawn map, districts more closely align with county lines and only 13 counties are split among two or three districts. By contrast, under the last map, enacted by the state legislature in 2011, more than twice as many counties were split among multiple districts.

In striking down that map last month as unconstitutional, the justices said the new districts should be as compact and contiguous as possible. Their new map, they wrote in an order, is “superior or comparable” to proposals submitted by the participants and interested groups during in the legal challenge that led to the historic ruling.

The reconfigured map prompted a sharp rebuke from top Republican legislators, who said honoring it would create a "constitutional crisis." Extending a political clash that has roiled the state for months, they said they might challenge the map — or the justices' authority to impose it — in federal court as early as Tuesday.
The US Supreme Court has already declined to review this, since the ruling is under the aegis of the Pennsylvania constitution, so I see it as somewhat unlikely that a Federal court overruling this.

The only way that I see an injunction is if the Supreme Court reverses itself and agrees to take the case directly.

They gave the legislature and governor an opportunity (albeit a short time) to come together on this, and they failed, so the court had to draw their own map.

18 February 2018

Ex-CIA Director Tells the Truth

On Fox News, (where else) Former CIA director James Woolsey admitted that the US routinely meddles in foreign elections, but "Only for very good cause," because, I guess it's OK when we do it.

You see laundering money to politicians in foreign countries is MUCH better than trolling on Facebook and Twitter:
Following a federal indictment of Russians accused of meddling in the U.S election, a former CIA director on Friday said the U.S. “probably” meddles in other countries’ elections, as well.

The Russian embassy flagged his comments.

When asked whether the U.S. interferes in other countries’ elections, James Woolsey said, “Well, only for a very good cause in the interests of democracy."

“Oh, probably, but it was for the good of the system in order to avoid communists taking over,” he told Laura Ingraham on her Fox News show on Friday night.

Woolsey served as CIA director under former President Clinton.
The New York Times has suddenly discovered this historical fact as well:
Bags of cash delivered to a Rome hotel for favored Italian candidates. Scandalous stories leaked to foreign newspapers to swing an election in Nicaragua. Millions of pamphlets, posters and stickers printed to defeat an incumbent in Serbia.

The long arm of Vladimir Putin? No, just a small sample of the United States’ history of intervention in foreign elections.

On Tuesday, American intelligence chiefs warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia appears to be preparing to repeat in the 2018 midterm elections the same full-on chicanery it unleashed in 2016: hacking, leaking, social media manipulation and possibly more. Then on Friday, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, announced the indictments of 13 Russians and three companies, run by a businessman with close Kremlin ties, laying out in astonishing detail a three-year scheme to use social media to attack Hillary Clinton, boost Donald Trump and sow discord.

Most Americans are understandably shocked by what they view as an unprecedented attack on our political system. But intelligence veterans, and scholars who have studied covert operations, have a different, and quite revealing, view.

“If you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all,” said Steven L. Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the C.I.A., where he was the chief of Russian operations. The United States “absolutely” has carried out such election influence operations historically, he said, “and I hope we keep doing it.”
Hypocrisy much?

This Has Gotta Hurt

Republican Kevin Nicholson is running in the primary for a chance to run against Tammy Baldwin's for US Senate.

His parents have donated the maximum to the Baldwin campaign:
This is amusing. Apparently, Kevin Nicholson's parents are staunch Democrats, so much so they'd rather give their money to Tammy Baldwin than a Republican, even if he's their own son.
Sharper than a serpent's tooth, neh?

Tweet of the Day


Yeah, pretty much.

17 February 2018

Brazil Shows Us What We Need for Good Healthcare

It appears that all you need is a community minded hyper-violent drug lord:
Thomaz Vieira Gomes, also known as 2N, is considered one of the most dangerous criminals in Rio de Janeiro, but recently he actually did something decent, albeit still illegal, for once.

He and his gang kidnapped two male nurses and made them vaccinate the poor people of his favela against yellow fever.

For months, Brazil has been dealing with a yellow fever epidemic that has already left dozens dead. Despite the Health Ministry’s plans to vaccinate millions of people in the hopes of containing the outbreak, immunisation centres struggle to keep up with the high number of patients, and, as always, the poorest communities are usually ignored.

………

On January 27th, the young gang leader and a few of his cronies descended on a local state-run clinic in two black cars, took as many syringes and vaccine doses as they could find, and kidnapped two of the male nurses on duty that night.

They then drove to the Amarelinho bar in Salgueiro where the two nurses spent hours administering yellow fever vaccines to members of the local community.

………

After doing their job, the two victims were reportedly taken back to their workplace.

………

Even the country’s former Minister of Environment took to Twitter to comment on this bizarre story, saying that while 2N is still an “a-hole” his actions were a “public service”.
I'm not entirely sure WHAT the lesson to be learned here, but I am sure that there IS a lesson to be learned here.

16 February 2018

He Needs to Be Updating Obituaries for the next 6 Months

According to a now-deleted tweet, New York Times reporter Eric Lipton, the real tragedy of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was that its victims were well spoken whites:

I really cannot read these comments in any other way.

I can think of no other term to describe this than, "White privilege."

Cowardly Pissant

Last year, Donald Trump signed an executive order repealing an Obama order limiting firearms access to people with psychological issues.

Now that someone has murdered 17 people at a high school, his administration is refusing to release a photo of his signing the order:
The White House has refused to release a photo of President Donald Trump signing a law making it easier for some people with mental illness to buy guns.

Despite repeated requests from CBS News, the White House press office has issued only a one-line response.

Mr Trump last year repealed an Obama-era rule allowing the names of certain people on mental health benefits to be entered into a criminal database.

The controversy follows a shooting by a suspect who had mental health issues.

………

CBS News says it requested a copy of the image - which White House photographers confirm exists - 12 separate times by phone or email.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders has only said in a note dated 19 April 2017: "We don't plan to release the picture at this time."

CBS News asked the White House again on Thursday to release the photo, but has not received a response.
He really is a chicken sh%$, isn't he.

Ronan Farrow Has Found His Journalistic Niche

Specifically, Farrow completely owns the "Powerful men behaving badly toward women," space:
In June, 2006, Donald Trump taped an episode of his reality-television show, “The Apprentice,” at the Playboy Mansion, in Los Angeles. Hugh Hefner, Playboy’s publisher, threw a pool party for the show’s contestants with dozens of current and former Playmates, including Karen McDougal, a slim brunette who had been named Playmate of the Year, eight years earlier. In 2001, the magazine’s readers voted her runner-up for “Playmate of the ’90s,” behind Pamela Anderson. At the time of the party, Trump had been married to the Slovenian model Melania Knauss for less than two years; their son, Barron, was a few months old. Trump seemed uninhibited by his new family obligations. McDougal later wrote that Trump “immediately took a liking to me, kept talking to me - telling me how beautiful I was, etc. It was so obvious that a Playmate Promotions exec said, ‘Wow, he was all over you - I think you could be his next wife.’ ”

Trump and McDougal began an affair, which McDougal later memorialized in an eight-page, handwritten document provided to The New Yorker by John Crawford, a friend of McDougal’s. When I showed McDougal the document, she expressed surprise that I had obtained it but confirmed that the handwriting was her own. 
I didn't care about this crap when Bill Clinton did it, and I don't care about it now.

The problem is not that Donald Trump f%$#ed Karen McDougal, it's that he f%$#ed the rest of us.

I Am So Going to Jail

Bob Muller has just indicted 13 Russians for trolling the election.

I gotta figure that my blog is going to pop up on his radar soon, and I look awful in orange. Damn:
The special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations on Friday with illegally trying to disrupt the American political process, including efforts designed to boost the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and hurt that of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The indictment represents the first charges by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, for meddling in the 2016 presidential election — the fundamental crime that he was assigned to investigate.

In a 37-page indictment filed in United States District Court, Mr. Mueller said that the 13 individuals have conspired since 2014 to violate laws that prohibit foreigners from spending money to influence federal elections in the United States.
Obviously, I am never a non-US citizen, but occasionally,* I am a troll, so there is a concern about legal jeopardy for me.

As I understand this, Mueller's interpretation of the law makes door to door canvassing, or volunteering in a campaign office by foreigners unlawful.

Of course, my standard caveat on such things, "I'm an engineer, not a lawyer, dammit!," applies.

*OK, maybe more than occasionally.
I love it when I get to go all Dr. Mccoy!