Month: October 2015

Not this Sh%$ Again!

Obama has decided to put boots on the ground in Syria, and as near as I can figure, it’s because we cannot admit that our policy has failed:

In a dramatic shift in policy, the United States is preparing to send about 50 special operations forces to Syria within days to begin training and assisting “moderate” rebels fighting the Islamic State.

The U.S. military has sent elite forces into Syria before to conduct short in-and-out raids, but the move will for the first time keep American service members on the ground — and in harm’s way — in a four-plus year conflict that has killed over 200,000 people. It marks a significant departure in strategy for a White House that has repeatedly ruled out any U.S. “boots on the ground” in either Iraq or Syria and bristled at any suggestion that the American forces would take part in combat.

The U.S special operations forces being deployed to Syria will not play a direct combat role, at least initially, a senior defense official said Friday. Instead, the small number of commandos will focus more on advising local Arab and Kurdish rebels who are fighting the Islamic State in northern Syria.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Defense Department is not ruling out direct action raids in the future, but for now, “they will remain singularly at the headquarters” of the rebel groups, to ”help with operational planning.”

Still, the American forces could come under fire in their new mission, which could last weeks or months, officials said.

This is nucking futs.

The problem here is that we have mindlessly supported the policy goals of  the House of Saud.

As Pepe Escobar aptly notes, “But the problem was never Iran. The problem is the ideological matrix of goons who metastasize into Caliphs: Saudi Arabia,” and now that it has proven to be an abject failure, we have do double down, because our state security apparatus is unwilling to the failure of this policy.

So, now the White House and the Pentagon are so afraid that someone, anyone, else might approach something resembling a resolution in Syria that we are now supporting al Qaeda affiliated groups that we are calling “Moderates”.

This is insanity.  This is stupidity.

This is  ……… There are no words.

So, When White Folks Start to Oppose a Policy, Obama Starts to Listen

After 6 years of failure, and complaints from teachers, poor and minority have complained that the Obama administration’s support of relentlessly mindless testing and a corporate for profit model for public schools.

Well, now that the protests are reaching into white school districts, Obama finally has to pay attention to parents and teachers, as opposed to listening to corrupt grifter and banksters who are determined to make their fortunes off of public education money:

Faced with mounting and bipartisan opposition to increased and often high-stakes testing in the nation’s public schools, the Obama administration declared Saturday that the push had gone too far, acknowledged its own role in the proliferation of tests, and urged schools to step back and make exams less onerous and more purposeful.

Specifically, the administration called for a cap on assessment so that no child would spend more than 2 percent of classroom instruction time taking tests. It called on Congress to “reduce over-testing” as it reauthorizes the federal legislation governing the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools.

“I still have no question that we need to check at least once a year to make sure our kids are on track or identify areas where they need support,” said Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, who has announced that he will leave office in December. “But I can’t tell you how many conversations I’m in with educators who are understandably stressed and concerned about an overemphasis on testing in some places and how much time testing and test prep are taking from instruction.”

As a new generation of tests tied to the Common Core was rolled out last spring, several states abandoned plans to use the tests, while others renounced the Common Core, or rebranded it as a new set of local standards. And some parents, mostly in suburban areas, had their children opt out of the tests.

(emphasis mine)

That last bit is exactly the same racist tripe that Duncan used 2 years ago, when he stated his mystification over the the fact hat there were white suburban parents were opposing his ruining the public schools.

I don’t think that either Duncan or Obama understand why white people are finally turning on their educational vision, but I do think that they understand the political reality.

Black people, brown people, and teachers they could ignore, but once it was white folks, they were forced to at least pretend to listen.

This Yid a Better Catholic than Russ Douthat, Who Knew?

From the, “Even this Jew Knows This,” department, we have a group of Catholic theologians objecting to Ross Douthat’s writings on the Church and the Pope, not because there is anything inherently heretical about his writings, but because he os so ignorant of the basic principles of the Church that it is embarrassing:

If you haven’t read Mr. Douthat’s piece, it’s worth a look—just keep a nitroglycerin pill handy, because it is a shocker, depicting the pope as a figure of “ostentatious humility” (naughty pope, rubbing his simplicity in our overfed faces) who is attempting to change that which Mr. Douthat says “the pope is supposed to have no power to change,” namely “Catholic doctrine.”

Now, if you find yourself wondering, since when is the pope (or a synod, for that matter) unable to call for a change in church doctrine, well, that’s a good question. The pope and the synod can in fact change doctrine, but not dogma.

Put simply, dogma is the stuff you have to accept if you’re going to call yourself Catholic. It’s the Creed we recite every Sunday—things like the incarnation, the Trinity and the communion of the saints that we hold as undeniable tenets of our faith—plus any pronouncements that popes have invoked infallibly, which has happened almost never. The Assumption of Mary was such a pronouncement; so is the Immaculate Conception.

Doctrine, as the term is most commonly used (including here by Mr. Douthat), refers to the church’s moral teachings, which develop over time as new questions and also new insights arise. Doctrinal teachings—of which the church’s stance regarding divorce is one—do not change often or easily. They can even be mistaken for dogma by the amount of resistance made at the suggestion of any alteration. But they are certainly capable of development. In fact that was one whole point of the synod—to reflect on the various questions of family today, in light of our tradition and the lived experience of Catholics, and consider what if any comments, including potentially changes in practice, should be offered.

I’ve known of this difference for years, even though there really is not an equivalent in Judaism, formalized doctrine implies a central authority that is lacking in Judaism, but it appears that Mr. Douthat does not.

This is a stupid that rivals Maureen Dowd at her most Maureen Dowd.

Go figure.

H/T Charlie Pierce

Northrop Grumman Wins Contract for New Bomber

NG beat out a coalition of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. (paid subscription required)

My guess is that this was largely driven by the desire to make sure that all the primes had business. Boeing has the new tankers, LM has the F-35, and now NG has this:

Northrop Grumman is the winner of the Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) contest, beating a rival team with six times its annual sales.

The U.S. Air Force announced Oct. 27 that Northrop Grumman beat a Boeing/Lockheed Martin team in a competition to develop and build 100 of the bombers, which are expected to reach initial operational capability in the mid-2020s. The Pentagon says the next phase of the work, engineering and manufacturing development (EMD), should cost $21.4 billion in 2010 dollars, including the delivery of an unspecified number of test aircraft.

Another $1.9 billion has already been spent on risk reduction, bringing both competing teams through the initial design phase. In 2016 dollars, the estimated EMD cost is $23.5 billion, the Pentagon says. The B-2 cost $37.2 billion to develop in 2016 dollars.

The Air Force also says that the average procurement unit cost for the Northrop Grumman bomber (which does not have a formal designation yet) will be $511 million in 2010 dollars, assuming a 100-aircraft buy ($564 million in 2016 dollars). This figure, the result of two independent Pentagon estimates, is lower than the $550 million (2010 dollars) goal that was set in 2011, when then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved the start of the program.


For the time being, however, the make-up of Northrop Grumman’s team is a secret, as are most attributes of the program. Not even the engine subcontractor is disclosed, although the Air Force said today that all major subsystems have been selected. Although most analysts agree it is overwhelmingly likely that the bomber will resemble a smaller cousin of the B-2, a blended wing-body aircraft with two engines and an unrefueled radius of action of around 2,500 nm, no such details have been confirmed.

Note that the range is less than half that of the B-52 and the B-2, and 15 less than that of the B-1, which has been criticized for excessive use of tankers in combat operations.

The payload is not public, but given that it will have two engines, I would expect to be far less than that of the B-2’s 40,000 lbs (to say much less of the B-52’s 70,000 lb payload, and the B-1’s 75,000 lb payload).

My guess is that this would place around a 25,000 lb payload, which means that we are spending an awful lot of money for a similar payload and range performance of the B-47, a medium bomber that first flew in 1947. (FWIW, Aviation Week has pegged the payload and range even lower)

And you wonder why I lament US weapons development and procurement.

Details of the selection process also remain highly classified, but it is likely that the winning bid rested on Northrop Grumman’s operational experience with wide-band, all-aspect stealth technology on the B-2 bomber and the still-secret RQ-180 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) unmanned air vehicle.

But the winning formula was most likely not just a question of delivering more stealth or more range. In LRS-B, the winner had to meet a complex set of requirements that stress risk reduction, an open systems architecture, agile management and manufacturing technology.

The USAF wants its strategic bomber, and because its first pass at this, the Next Generation Bomber, was expensive enough to make the B-2 look cheap, they trimmed away enough requirements to end up with something equivalent to the FB-111, which really isn’t a strategic bomber at all.

This is absurd.

It’s Good Policy. It’s Good Politics, and So the Tories and the Lib-Dems Will Not Support It

But all the leaders of the other major parties are demanding that the National Heal Service be protected against predatory investors:

Leaders of almost every major political party in the United Kingdom have signed an appeal not to allow a transatlantic trade deal known as TTIP become the Trojan horse that allows American business interests to take over the NHS.

The appeal, organised by the trade union Unite, has achieved the rare feat of bringing together all of Northern Ireland’s main political parties. TTIP, or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, would free up trade between the US and the EU, by allowing companies from either side of the Atlantic to operate under the same rules.

One of its most controversial elements would be the creation of a new supranational court, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) through which foreign investors could sue governments, or the EU, over any action or legislation that hurt their businesses. It is feared that an American private healthcare firm which was prevented from buying up part of the NHS would be able to go to the ISDS and claim millions of pounds in compensation from the British government for lost business.


The appeal has also been signed by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the Ukip leader Nigel Farage, the Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, and by Peter Robinson of the Democratic Unionist Party, and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness.

The organisers, from Unite, say that they approached the Conservatives asking for support but were refused, and are awaiting a reply from the Liberal Democrats.

The Tories have been wanting to privatize the NHS since it began operations in 1948, and the Liberal Democrats have specialized in being completely useless and ineffectual since before Lloyd George died, so their actions are not surprising.

Unfortunately, in the mad rush for a bad deal, it is very likely that privatized healthcare, with its associated excessive spending and poor health outcomes, will be in the UK’s future.

Why Videotaping Cops Needs to Be Universal

Roid Rage

Does anyone out there think that Richland County Senior Deputy Ben Fields would have been fired if his assault hadn’t been caught on video tape?

The South Carolina Sheriff’s deputy captured on video forcefully removing a student from class has been fired, the local sheriff said Wednesday, less than a week after the incident at Spring Valley High School first came to the public’s attention.

Richland County Senior Deputy Ben Fields was already suspended after videos of him flipping and tossing a black female student across a classroom went viral online.

Fields was told of his firing late Wednesday morning

“What he should not have done is throw the student,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. “Police officers make mistakes too. They’re human and they need to be held accountable, and that’s what we’ve done with Deputy Ben Fields.”

Lott said he wouldn’t describe Fields as remorseful, but rather sorry it all happened.

Of course he is sorry that it all happened.

He’s lost his job.

BTW, in addition to being a school resource officer he was a football and strength training coach:


Fields said in during his deposition for a federal lawsuit filed against him that he is a competitive power lifter, saying it is a “sport,” where you “try to lift as much as you can at one time.”

In his deposition, Fields says he does not take steroids, but has not been tested for steroids in the past. He said he has taken supplements, including Creatin, to help build muscles.

(emphasis mine)

Yeah. We believe him when he says that he’s not juicing. (not)

If his behavior had not been caught on video, this steroid addled loon would still be abusing school children.

For all of the wanktastic tirades against police accountability by the FBI director, the problem is not cameras, it’s bad cops and a culture that coddles and protects them.

This is not a Surprise

As far as trade agreements are concerned, the recent focus here on Techdirt and elsewhere has been on TPP as it finally achieved some kind of agreement — what kind, we still don’t know, despite promises that the text would be released as soon as it was finished. But during this time, TPP’s sibling, TAFTA/TTIP, has been grinding away slowly in the background. It’s already well behind schedule — there were rather ridiculous initial plans to get it finished by the end of last year — and there’s now evidence of growing panic among the negotiators that they won’t even get it finished by the end of President Obama’s second term, which would pose huge problems in terms of ratification.

One sign of that panic is that the original ambitions to include just about everything are being jettisoned, as it becomes clear that in some sectors — cosmetics, for example — the US and EU regulatory approaches are just too different to reconcile. Another indicator is an important leaked document obtained by the Guardian last week. It’s the latest (29 September) draft proposal for the chapter on sustainable development. What emerges from every page of the document, embedded below, is that the European Commission is now so desperate for a deal — any deal — that it has gone back on just about every promise it made (pdf) to protect the environment and ensure that TTIP promoted sustainable development. Three environmental groups — the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth Europe and PowerShift — have taken advantage of this leak to offer an analysis of the European Commission’s real intent in the environmental field. They see four key problems:

The leaked text fails to provide any adequate defense for environment-related policies likely to be undermined by TTIP. For example, nothing in the text would prevent foreign corporations from launching challenges against climate or other environmental policies adopted on either side of the Atlantic in unaccountable trade tribunals.

The environmental provisions are vaguely worded, creating loopholes that would allow governments to continue environmentally harmful practices. The chapter lacks any obligation to ratify multilateral agreements that would bolster environmental protection and includes a set of vague goals with respect to biological diversity, illegal wildlife trade, and chemicals.

The leaked text includes several provisions that the European Commission may claim as “safeguards,” such as a recognition of the “right of each Party determine its sustainable development policies and priorities” but none would effectively shield environmental policies from being challenged by rules in TTIP.

There is no enforcement mechanism for any of the provisions mentioned in the text. Even if one were included, it would still be weaker than the enforcement mechanism provided for foreign investors either through the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism or the renamed investment court system.

This is how this is really supposed to work.

You make promises to protect the people, and then declare that an agreement is essential, so you cannot keep those promises.

The goals of these deals are, and have been for as long as I remember, has been to screw the ordinary citizen at the for the benefit of the already obscenely rich.

Prodigious Puffed up Phallus Produces Peril for Passaic, Paramis, Packanack, Pascoag, Pelham, and Philadelphia*

Everything the military does tends toward the phallic.
Compensating for Something?

Every time we drive north on 95 from Baltimore, we see some aerostats (tethered blimps}.

It’s all a part of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) and today, a tether broke:

The U.S. military has two giant, unmanned surveillance blimps it uses to watch the East Coast from a base in Maryland. And one of them escaped its tethers Wednesday and floated aimlessly over Pennsylvania, downing power lines and cutting off electricity for tens of thousands of residents.

The incident started shortly after noon, when the blimp became detached from its anchor, NORAD said. Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled to ensure it didn’t collide with other aircraft. By late afternoon, the dirigible had come down to the ground near Moreland Township in Pennsylvania — after drifting more than 100 miles — but not before leaving a trail of damage in its wake.

It was unclear how the aerostat got loose and how it came down, said John Cornelio, a spokesman for NORAD. He added it was possible that the aerostat’s helium could have run out.


The blimp wreaked plenty of havoc. Frederick Hunsinger, the public safety director for Columbia County, Pa., said in an interview that the blimp’s heavy tether dragged for 20 miles across his county. There were no injuries within county borders, but the damage caused 35,000 to lose electricity, he said. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania canceled classes as a result; 911 phone lines were overwhelmed.


Known as the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS, the blimp is technically an aerostat — a term for a lighter-than-air craft that is tethered to the ground. The $2.7 billion program is on a three-year test run to see whether it can help detect cruise missiles or enemy aircraft from 10,000 feet above ground.


The JLENS program “continues to drain money from taxpayers even though it serves no strategic purpose,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said. “This incident is just another example of the problems inherent in an ill-conceived network of floating blimps that don’t provide any advantage over aircraft we’ve already bought.”

I am sure that the 35,000 people who lost power would agree with Representative Speier.

It does see  to be yet another DoD program where they are procuring without a meaningful need.

*What can I say? The juxtaposition of penis humor and alliteration are comedy gold., and yes, it is one of the reasons that I made this post..


Are InfiniLaw Schools Scamming Students and the Federal Government?

H/T Atrios, who also pithily notes both that the not-for-profit schools are hip deep in this sh%$ as well.

He further notes that law professors are overpaid, and that the suggestion that they would make money hand over fist if they went back to the private sector is specious.

If you do the math, associates are expected to Bill about 1800 hours a year, which given the rule of thumb that you need to work somewhere between 1⅓ and 1½ hours for each billable hour is a soul destroying work environment.

Do the math.  That is  48-54 hours a week, year in and year out.

The people who are teaching future lawyers are doing so because they don’t want that life.

This is why you have so many top flight lawyers are so eager to become judges.

Because Grave Robbing is the Christian Thing to Do

It looks like everyone favorite arts and crafts themed band of Talibaptist bigots have expanded their activities into dealing in stolen archaeological artifacts:

This is how it’s done. Oligarchs pillage and loot so they can push their own version of history on everyone.

In 2011, a shipment of somewhere between 200 to 300 small clay tablets on their way to Oklahoma City from Israel was seized by U.S. Customs agents in Memphis. The tablets were inscribed in cuneiform—the script of ancient Assyria and Babylonia, present-day Iraq—and were thousands of years old. Their destination was the compound of the Hobby Lobby corporation, which became famous last year for winning a landmark Supreme Court case on religious freedom and government mandates. A senior law enforcement source with extensive knowledge of antiquities smuggling confirmed that these ancient artifacts had been purchased and were being imported by the deeply-religious owners of the crafting giant, the Green family of Oklahoma City. For the last four years, law enforcement sources tell The Daily Beast, the Greens have been under federal investigation for the illicit importation of cultural heritage from Iraq.

These tablets, like the other 40,000 or so ancient artifacts owned by the Green family, were destined for the Museum of the Bible, the giant new museum funded by the Greens, slated to open in Washington, D.C., in 2017. Both the seizure of the cuneiform tablets and the subsequent federal investigation were confirmed to us by Cary Summers, the president of the Museum of the Bible.

For their part, Hobby Lobby is claiming it’s just screwed-up paperwork. Nothing more than that. Just a customs mix-up that has taken well over 4 years to resolve. Not really.

Here’s hoping that there will be a criminal prosecution, and a very pious Muslim cellmate, in their future.

I’m Begiunning to Think That US and Allied Military Forces Are Targeting MSF Hospitals

Last week, as a part of the Pentagon’s “investigation” of a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) bombing in Kunduz, sent in investigators ……… in a tank ……………… which ground much of the evidence to dust:

A US tank has forced its way into the shell of the Afghanistan hospital destroyed in an airstrike 11 days ago, prompting warnings that the US military may have destroyed evidence in a potential war crimes investigation.

As calls grow for independent inquiry into Kunduz airstrikes, the president of Médecins Sans Frontières demands that those responsible are held to account

The 3 October attack on the Médécins sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz killed 10 patients and 12 staff members of the group.

In a statement on Thursday, the medical charity, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said they were informed after Thursday’s “intrusion” that the tank was carrying investigators from a US-Nato-Afghan team which is investigating the attack.

“Their unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear,” MSF said.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reported intrusion, which came as new evidence emerged that US forces operating in the area at the time of the attack knew that the facility was a hospital.

And now we have another MSF hospital bombed, this one in Yemen.

Considering the US record on such things,* one has to wonder if perhaps our military establishment is sick of

Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition targeting rebels in Yemen have destroyed a small hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in the northern province of Saada, although there were no deaths and only one injury, the aid group said Tuesday.

The first of several strikes came around 11 p.m. on Monday and hit a building housing the facility’s administration offices, according to Hassan Boucenine, the aid group’s head of mission in Yemen who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone from the southern port city of Aden.

No one was inside at the time, he said, adding that by the time a second strike targeted the main nearby building about 10 minutes later, its occupants — some 12 staff and patients — had been evacuated.

“This attack is another illustration of a complete disregard for civilians in Yemen, where bombings have become a daily routine,” Boucenine said later in a statement by the group, also known by its French acronym MSF.

It urged coalition forces to explain the circumstances around the attack, saying that the hospital’s GPS coordinates were regularly shared with the Saudi-led coalition and its roof was clearly identified with its logo. The bombing of civilians and hospitals is a violation of international humanitarian law, it added.

The group operates in eight Yemeni governorates at a time when many foreign aid groups and even United Nations personnel have been evacuated. In its statement, it said the destroyed hospital had treated roughly 3,400 patients were since MSF began supporting it in May.

The Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition has been launching airstrikes against Yemen’s Shiite rebels, also known as Houthis, and their allies since March. Saada, the Houthis stronghold, has faced a particularly intense bombardment.

The United Nations said the facility was the 39th health center hit since the violence escalated in March, adding that critical shortages of fuel, medication, electricity and water could mean many more will close. Amnesty International said the strike may amount to a war crime and called for an independent investigation.

MFS treats anyone regardless of politics, and I’m beginning to think the Pentagon, and the Saudi state security apparatus, don’t like this.

It does seem rather similar to the spate of bombing of well documented Al Jazeera facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

*Donald Rumsfeld justified the bombing of hospitals during the initial invasion of Afghanistan, because they were treating combatants, which was a remarkably blithe admission of war crimes, since treating the enemy does not remove a hospital’s protected status.

Quote of the Day

If you’re keeping score at home, in Syria, we’ll be fighting alongside the people against whom we’ll be fighting in Syria. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And the friend of my friend is the enemy of the enemy of my friend. And the friend of the devil is a friend of mine. This isn’t foreign policy. It’s a Lewis Carroll poem, and it’s getting to be a longer one.

Charlie Pierce on how the misruling class in DC seems determined to put boots on the ground in Syria.

It appears that Obama’s statements in 2003 that he opposed “Stupid Wars” is now inoperative.

Jeremy Corbyn Just Pulled a Fairly Savvy Political Move

One of the main reasons for Labour’s pasting by the Tories in the last election, aside from Ed Millibrand trying to run as a phony Tory, was that Scotland, a traditional Labour stronghold, turfed out nearly the entire party.

Corbyn’s solution is to create ‘federal’ Scottish Labour party with significant autonomy:

Britain’s opposition Labour Party haemorrhaged Scottish voters and seats in this year’s General Election but newly installed leader Jeremy Corbyn may have a novel new way to get Scots back on the party’s side.

His idea is to hive off Scottish Labour altogether, meaning that the party north of the border will be able to propose tailor-made policies that are more attractive to voters in Scotland.

Policies on welfare and Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons programme, are said to be targeted by Scottish Labour.

Corbyn, who won by a landslide leadership victory vote just over a month ago, told The Sunday Times that he is aiming to create a “federal” party in Scotland.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale supports this idea as she aims to tell parliament on Monday that Labour will seek greater “autonomy” in Scotland and use the powers of Holyrood [the capitol district of Edinburgh, Scotland] to have greater control over policies such as welfare.


Not everyone in Labour is happy about. One source inside the party’s National Executive Committee told The Times, “This looks worryingly like Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale are trying to sneak through a secret plan to break up the Labour party.”


The Labour Party depends on voter support from Scotland. Usually, according to electoral data, Scots vote for the Scottish National Party or Labour. In 2010, Scottish voter support for Labour cratered and the party lost 91 seats across Britain. The Scottish National Party stayed the same with only 6 seats.

However, the Scottish referendum in September 2014 boosted support for the SNP. In the 2015 General Election, Labour was more or less wiped out in Scotland, and the SNP gained 50 seats. The former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont resigned a month after the referendum and quipped that the Labour party north of the border was being treated like a “branch office.”

So, Corbyn’s plans to create a federal party seems to be a good idea to win back voters.

Labour has taken Scotland for granted for decades, and in the last election, they literally ran against Scotland, publicly refusing to deal with the Scottish National Party under any circumstances, even if it means that Labour would be unable to form a coalition government.

Obviously, there are some issues where there is little common ground (Trident) but the campaigns run by Labour for the last generation have all been about being a little bit nicer than the Conservatives, while remaining in the pocket of the financial interests in the City of London.

Once the banksters blew up the world, that whole “Fellating banksters while not being quite so awful as the Conservatives,” schtick has gotten old.

It has the additional advantage of jamming up the “New Labour” pukes, because any resurgence of the party’s fortunes has to involve Scotland, and the right wing of the party has now been forced to put themselves into an even deeper hole.

It’s actually a pretty savvy move.

Donald Trump is Just F%$#ing with Us Now

Trump defends Islamic head coverings, says women want to wear them: "It's easy—you don’t have to put on makeup.”

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 26, 2015

His latest bit, he just said that women might wear burkas because they find makeup too inconvenient:

Trump was speaking about foreign policy, which lead into his critique of anti-Muslim sentiments.

Here are his comments in full:

Then I saw women interviewed. They said, ‘We want to wear them. We’ve worn them for a thousand years. Why would anyone tell us not to?’ They want to! What the hell are we getting involved for? Fact it’s easier. You don’t have to put on make-up. Look at how beautiful everyone looks. Wouldn’t it be easier? Right? Wouldn’t that be easy?


The Donald is trolling us, and this is a troll that is more trollish than Goatse. (If you do not know what Goatse is, do not google it. Ever. Trust me on this one.*)

*The same goes for Lemonparty. Do not go there.
Of course, if you had a choice between any of these and Donald Trump, any sane person would go with Goatse and Lemonparty, but barring a time machine and an accident involving an ancestor of Donald Trump’s, the best you can do is cut your losses.

Quote of the Day

What we have seen take place is nothing less than a feral and unhinged scream from the swamp of reaction that resides in our culture, where every crank with a computer resides, consumed with bitterness and untreated angst, much of it in the form of self loathing over their own inadequacies and lack of talent – not to mention in some cases a jump from the extreme left to extreme right of the political spectrum, with all the psychological dysfunction such a metamorphosis describes.

—John Wight at Counterpunch on observing the torrent of abuse that Seumas Milne has endured since become Jeremy Corbyn’s communications chief

Seriously, the public freak-out over Labour being run by a guy who is ……… Labor ……… is kind of a major mindf%$#.

There is Someone Less Popular than Barack Obama in Kansas

It’s Kansas Governor Sam Brownback:

Only 18 percent of Kansans are “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) job performance, according to a poll from Fort Hays State University released Friday.

In comparison, President Barack Obama (D) had a job approval rating 10 points higher in the deep red state than the Republican governor: 28 percent.

“This could be some of the lowest approval ratings of any Kansas governor in history,” Bob Beatty, a political scientist at Washburn University, told the Topeka Capital-Journal on Saturday.

It appears that the people of Kansas aren’t evil, they are just kind of slow.

That’s why it’s taken 4 f%$#ing years for them to get the fact that they are dealing with a delusional psychopath.

Seriously, folks, what were you waiting for, for him to start carrying around a white Persian cat?

This Is a Feature, Not a Bug

According to recently leaked documents, it appears that the TTIP will not contain meaningful environmental standards:

The EU appears to have broken a promise to reinforce environmental protections in a leaked draft negotiating text submitted in the latest round of TTIP talks in Miami.

In January, the bloc promised to safeguard green laws, defend international standards and protect the EU’s right to set high levels of environmental protection, in a haggle with the US over terms for a free trade deal.

But a confidential text seen by the Guardian and filed in the sustainable development chapter of negotiations earlier this week contains only vaguely phrased and non-binding commitments to environmental safeguards.

No obligations to ratify international environmental conventions are proposed, and ways of enforcing goals on biodiversity, chemicals and the illegal wildlife trade are similarly absent.

The document does recognise a “right of each party to determine its sustainable development policies and priorities”. But lawyers say this will have far weaker standing than provisions allowing investors to sue states that pass laws breaching legitimate expectations of profit.

“The safeguards provided to sustainable development are virtually non-existent compared to those provided to investors and the difference is rather stark,” said Tim Grabiel, a Paris-based environmental attorney. “The sustainable development chapter comprises a series of aspirational statements and loosely worded commitments with an unclear dispute settlement mechanism. It has little if any legal force.”


US officials maintain that few such cases are ever likely to be brought under the TTIP, which could wipe away tariffs in the world’s largest ever free trade deal.

However, environmental cases accounted for 60% of the 127 ISDS cases already brought against EU countries under bilateral trade agreements in the last two decades, according to Friends of the Earth Europe. Europe’s taxpayers paid out at least $3.5bn to private investors as a result.

Natacha Cingotti, a trade campaigner for the group, said that only a carve-out of environmental protections from the tribunal process could prevent such cases mushrooming after a TTIP deal.

“This new leak illustrates that the European commission is not serious about protecting essential safeguards for citizens and the environment in the context of the TTIP talks,” she told the Guardian. “Powerful corporate polluters are likely to get VIP treatment under it, while the only chapter that could bring strong language to protect essential regulations to build a sustainable future is weak and unenforceable.”

This is what always happens, because the goal of all of these deals has been to encourage a race to the bottom in terms of labor and environmental standards while making sure that the interests of parasitic financial interests are protected at all costs.

This has always been what drives these deals.