Month: July 2016

Not ISIS/ISIL/IS/Whatever

After the shootings in Munich, everyone seemed intent on claiming that it was ISIS/ISIL/IS/Whatever.

I was dubious because the shooter was of Iranian extraction, and thus probably Shia rather than Sunni, and because it was reported that he was shouting anti-Turkish slurs.

Well, police now think that was inspired by Anders Behring Breivik’s shooting spree in Norway:

The 18-year-old gunman who killed nine people in Munich was obsessed with mass shootings but had no known links to the Islamic State group, German police say.

Written material on such attacks was found in his room, and Munich’s police chief spoke of links to the massacre by Norway’s Anders Behring Breivik.

The gunman, who had dual German-Iranian nationality, later killed himself.

His name has not been officially released but he is being named locally as David Ali Sonboly.


Friday evening’s attack at the Olympia shopping mall also left 27 people injured, including children. Ten of them are critically ill, including a 13-year-old boy, police say.

Seven of the dead were teenagers. Three victims were from Kosovo, three from Turkey and one from Greece.

Police say the Munich-born gunman had been in psychiatric care, receiving treatment for depression.

Authorities are also checking reports that he may have been bullied by his peers, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said.


Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae said there was an “obvious” link between the attack and Friday’s fifth anniversary of Breivik’s attacks in Norway, when he murdered 77 people.

The killer reportedly shouted anti-foreigner slurs during the rampage and yelled “I’m German” at one man who challenged him.

Literature about mass killings was found at his home including a German-language translation of the book Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters.

Mr De Maiziere said the suspect had researched a 2009 school shooting in Germany as well as the Breivik attack.

So it appears not to be terrorism, but what qualifies as run of the mill white male American type violence.

That last sentence is so f%$#ing depressing.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? The Clinton Campaign is now Trying to Red Bait Trump?

It appears that the Clinton campaign is now trying to claim that the DNC hacked emails are a campaign by the Russian FSB to benefit Donald Trump’s campaign.

The idea of casting Trump as some sort of Manchurian Muscovite Candidate is completely nonsensical, and the claims in this article has claims from anonymous experts who present no concrete proof for their accusations:

An unusual question is capturing the attention of cyberspecialists, Russia experts and Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia: Is Vladimir V. Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election?

Until Friday, that charge, with its eerie suggestion of a Kremlin conspiracy to aid Donald J. Trump, has been only whispered.

But the release on Friday of some 20,000 stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, many of them embarrassing to Democratic leaders, has intensified discussion of the role of Russian intelligence agencies in disrupting the 2016 campaign.

As an aside here, I would note that it’s right for people to be shocked here, because the US never meddles in other nations elections. (And, as Sir William Schwenck Gilbert wrote, “Married men never flirt.”)

The emails, released first by a supposed hacker and later by WikiLeaks, exposed the degree to which the Democratic apparatus favored Hillary Clinton over her primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and triggered the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party chairwoman, on the eve of the convention’s first day.

Proving the source of a cyberattack is notoriously difficult. But researchers have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies, which were the same attackers behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. And metadata from the released emails suggests that the documents passed through Russian computers. Though a hacker claimed responsibility for giving the emails to WikiLeaks, the same agencies are the prime suspects. Whether the thefts were ordered by Mr. Putin, or just carried out by apparatchiks who thought they might please him, is anyone’s guess.

On Sunday morning, the issue erupted, as Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, argued on ABC’s “This Week” that the emails were leaked “by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump” citing “experts” but offering no other evidence. Mr. Mook also suggested that the Russians might have good reason to support Mr. Trump: The Republican nominee indicated in an interview with The New York Times last week that he might not back NATO nations if they came under attack from Russia — unless he was first convinced that the countries had made sufficient contributions to the Atlantic alliance.

The accusations are repulsive, and they reek of desperation, and they are every bit as offensive as Donald Trump’s suggestion that Ted Cruz’ dad was involved in the assassination of JFK.

This is not the image that the Clinton campaign wants to promulgate.

I would also note that if the folks at the DNC were doing their job properly the emails would have been rather anodyne.

This really is the equivalent of the unmasked villain at the end of a Scooby Doo episode saying, “I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for your meddling kids.”

Another Reason to Find Tim Kaine as VP Nominee Repugnant

In addition to his support for requiring children to tell their rapist about their abortions (parental notification laws) , and his dubious record on labor (big supporter of “right to work” laws), and his ignoring his “heartfelt” opposition to the death penalty when it was politically expedient (allowed a mentally retarded black man to be executed), there is the fact that as soon as he became head of the DNC, succeeding Howard Dean, he completely dismantled the 50 state strategy that gave Democrats control of the House and Senate: (Yes, I know that this is an old article)

Barack Obama campaigned for President on the message of Change. Many changes were necessary amidst the failed policies of the Bush White House. The country was going in the wrong direction and we were in a major economic collapse. As President Barack Obama has made many changes, most for the good. One, however, was bad. He replaced Gov. Howard Dean as Chair of the DNC and appointed Tim Kaine who immediately dismissed the 183 DNC field organizers and terminated the 50 State Strategy. That concept is failing and, as a consequence, Democrats are suddenly losing elections. For four years under Howard Dean the Democratic National Committee funded a 50 state strategy which paid for DNC field organizers on the ground in every state. These organizers built local and county organizations which assisted candidates at every level. What happened and how do Democrats turn things around?

The conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton’s selection of Kaine as her running mate was savvy, but the more I hear about him, the more he reveals himself to be a f%$#ing horror show.

I am so glad that I don’t live in a swing state, so I can not vote for the Democratic Presidential ticket without feeling guilty.

My First Reaction was to Invoke the Wizard of Oz

Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has resigned as head of the DNC:

The Democratic National Committee chairwoman resigned under fire Sunday, on the eve of a national convention meant to project competence and unity in contrast to the turbulence of the Republicans’ gathering last week.

The disarray threatened to upend Hillary Clinton’s plan to paint the Democrats as the party best prepared to lead a divided and anxious country and herself as the leader who can offer an optimistic alternative to Republican Donald Trump.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida was forced aside by the release of thousands of embarrassing emails among party officials that appeared to show co­ordinated efforts to help Clinton at the expense of her rivals in the Democratic primaries. That contradicted claims by the party and the Clinton campaign that the process was open and fair for her leading challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The news that the DNC was in the tank for Hillary is not really news, but the fact that we now have incontrovertible proof of it was unexpected.

She’s landed on her feet though, as the Clinton campaign has announced that she, “Will serve as honorary chair of her campaign’s 50-state program to help elect Democrats around the country.”

One thing that we can be certain of now is that DWS will never be the Speaker of the House.

I rather hope that this makes it more likely that Tim Canova defeats her in the primary.

Pelosi Comes Out Against TPP

I am inclined to believe that this not a change of heart, but rather political realities forcing her to do the right thing:

Today, EFF joined a broad coalition of other public interest groups at Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office in San Francisco, to present her with a petition carrying an incredible 209,419 signatures with a request to oppose the introduction of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the post-election “lame duck” session of Congress. And with your help, we succeeded! In a letter that she handed us at our meeting, Leader Pelosi wrote:

As Congress and the American people review the finalized terms of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), we must put American workers first to allow our economy to grow and America to succeed. Please be assured that I will oppose the TPP as it is currently written or any deal that attempts to separate commerce from the environment and will work to ensure that our nation’s trade policies include increased transparency, more consultation, and stronger protections to create jobs, strengthen human rights, and preserve the environment.

Yes, I am rather cynical about this.

Least Surprising News out of the Republican National Convention

It turns out that the RNC was a bonanza for male prostitutes:

It’s been a great week for gay escorts in Cleveland.

Male prostitutes contacted by The Post said business is booming and Republican National Convention attendees — most of them married — are clamoring for their services.

“Business has been way better. I’ve seen 10 clients so far,” one male escort said.

“Most of them were first-timers. You could tell they were nervous, but once they became more comfortable, they seemed to be having a good time.”

Another escort said he had already earned $1,600 since Monday — over six times the amount he usually makes.


One gigolo who charges $250 an hour said he’s been making about $800 per day since the convention kicked off — all from men visiting from Florida, Louisiana and Washington, DC.

“Usually I need to go out of town,” he said with a chuckle.

Most men paid to have sex, but one client requested to “do his business in the corner” while watching his wife in bed with the escort.


“The Republicans have a lot of delegates in the closet, let’s put it that way.”

Party of family values my ass.

H/t Joe.My.God.

More of This

I support Black Lives Matter and related groups, but this does not mean that I necessarily approve of some of their tactics.

That being said, I wholeheartedly approve of BLM activists blockading the Chicago Police’s secret torture site:

Activists on Wednesday night marched in North Lawndale and also blocked the entrance to the Chicago Police Department’s notorious Homan Square site.

The Homan Square building has been a source of controversy ever since the Guardian exposed the “off-the-books interrogation compound” in February of 2015. The profile documents claims that detainees were routinely kept from contacting family or legal representation.
The protest was organized by the Let Us Breathe Collective and Black Youth Project 100 to demand a transition in how tax dollars are allocated, namely an “investment into new alternatives to keep Black communities safe and a divestment from police and legislative systems that are violent towards Black communities,” according to a statement.

Activists used chains, tubes, bike locks and ladders to bind themselves together, blocking the entrance path. Other nearby protesters set up tents and a “Free Store” that offered provisions.

 Well done.

What a Surprise, Obama Lied

When Obama said that if the UK approved a Brexit it would move to the back of the queue for negotiation trade deals, he was lying:

The US is hoping that a quick trade and investment deal with the UK after it leaves the EU could kickstart the stalled negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which has met increasing resistance on the continent.

As well as serving the US’s purposes, such an agreement would be welcomed by the UK government as proof that it can recreate the necessary web of trade links post-Brexit.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has just spent two days in the UK talking with the prime minister’s officials and with the new foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, exploring what form such a UK-US trade deal might take.

As The Guardian explains: “The UK cannot formally sign any trade deals with other countries or trading blocs until it has left the EU, but it appears to be accepted that negotiations on the outline shape of such deals can start before that happens.”

As an aside, it appears that chief among US goals is to make current and future steps toward privatization of the British NHS irreversible:

One of the issues raised by those advocating leaving the EU was that remaining a member state would see the UK obliged to sign up to a TTIP deal that included ISDS. The fear was that ISDS would make re-nationalising privatised NHS services prohibitively expensive if US companies were involved. In theory, the latter might try to use the ISDS provisions in TTIP to claim that their future profits had been “expropriated” by nationalisation, and to demand compensation.

However, the UK could now sign up to a US investment treaty with significantly fewer protections than those offered by TTIP’s ICS system, which is what the EU is still pushing for. Instead of Brexit helping to protect the NHS, it may end up bringing in a system that protects it less than if the UK had stayed in the EU.

This would be a very bad thing.

Hoo Boy!

Wikileaks has released thousands of internal Democratic National Committee emails, revealing that the organization was aggressively in the tank for Hillary Clinton. (Big surprise, though it is a violation of its organization charter)
These included discussions of using Sanders religion against him, which kind of surprised me, because it’s “our side” that is doing it:

As Hillary Clinton prepared to announce her 2016 running mate, a trove of nearly 20,000 emails were released by WikiLeaks on Friday, providing an embarrassing inside look at Democratic Party operations on the eve of the Democrats’ national convention.

The emails from the Democratic National Committee include discussions of Clinton’s chief rival for the presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.); details of perks provided to party donors attending the convention; and email exchanges between party officials, journalists and others.

The emails were released with an announcement by WikiLeaks on Twitter that linked readers to a WikiLeaks page inviting visitors to “Search the DNC email database.” A search box sits underneath a one-paragraph introduction:


Friday’s digital document dump follows a report last month by The Washington Post that Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee, gaining access to an entire database of opposition research. DNC and Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment Friday as reporters and campaign staff began to assess the situation.

One email written May 5 to DNC communications director Luis Miranda from another party official suggests looking at Bernie Sanders’ faith.

“It might may [sic] no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief,” the email from “” says. “Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.”

At the very least the author of the letter, DNC CFO Brad Marshall, the author of this email, should be fired, but I do not expect this to happen, since he is clearly a FoH. (Friend of Hillary)

Of further interest is that the emails contain information that Hillary Clinton’s “Fund Raising” for the state party was actually laundered back into her campaign:


Other emails show DNC staff in damage control over allegations from the Sanders campaign, when a report—corroborated by a Politico—revealed the DNC’s joint fundraising committee with the Clinton campaign was laundering money to the Clinton campaign instead of fundraising for down-ticket Democrats.………

Between this and the choice of the pro-TPP, pro-abstinence education, pro-parental notification laws Tim Kaine as her VP pick, I think that a lot of the folks from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party are, to quote the Dixie Chicks, “Not ready to make nice.”

Kaine? Seriously?

Hillary’s choice of Tim Kaine as her running mate has confirmed that her opposition to the TPP was pure puffery.

Kaine is one of the staunchest supporters of the TPP in the Senate.

No big surprise actually.

In addition to everything else, it serves as some hippie punching which is so favored by the Democratic establishment.

I am so glad that I live in Maryland, where my Presidential vote does not matter.

Microflaccid Screws the Pooch

A court in France has ruled that Windows 10 illegally invades user privacy, as well as being too insecure:

A French regulator has issued Microsoft a formal warning over Windows 10, saying the operating system collects excessive amounts of personal data, ships that information illegally out of the EU, and has lousy security.

The warning comes from the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), an independent data privacy watchdog with the power to levy fines against companies. The CNIL has been investigating Windows 10 since its launch and has now drawn up a damning list of criticisms.

“The CNIL has decided to issue a formal notice to Microsoft Corporation to comply with the Act within three months,” said the group on Wednesday.


Chief among the regulator’s concerns is the amount of information Windows 10 slurps up about its users and sends back to Microsoft’s servers. While all recent flavors of Windows send some information back to Redmond, Windows 10 harvests much more and the CNIL considers this intrusive and also not needed to run the OS.

It could also be breaking the law. The collapse of the Safe Harbor agreement last year didn’t stop this flow of data from French users back to the US, and the CNIL is concerned that Microsoft made no attempt to comply with the law. The watchdog estimates that there are at least 10 million Windows users in the Euro nation.

This in addition to buying Nokia’s cell phone business, where they wrote down over 7 billion dollars , and then they sold off the Nokia brand.

And then there is the whole ribbon thing in the more recent versions of Office.

Why is this company still a going concern?

NBA Does the Right Thing

I’m rather shocked that the NBA is pulling the 2017 All Star Game from Charlotte because of North Carolina’s anti-gay law.

I don’t expect sports leagues to do the right thing, so I am pleasantly surprised:

The NBA announced Thursday it will move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte due to North Carolina’s law that bars local governments from extending civil rights protections to gay and transgender people.

“The NBA has decided to relocate the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte with the hope of rescheduling for 2019,” the league said in a statement.

“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2,” as the law is commonly known.

I’m Doing a Happy Dance Here

Roger Ailes has left the building:

In the dark for days, Fox News staffers finally got word on Thursday about the future of their network.

The news was delivered in person by Rupert Murdoch, the 85-year-old media mogul who started Fox News with Roger Ailes 20 years ago.

It was an unexpected visit, and with stunned employees listening in Fox’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters, Mr. Murdoch announced that Mr. Ailes was out as chairman and chief executive. Mr. Murdoch himself would be taking over Fox News in the interim.

Mr. Ailes was not there. Mr. Murdoch had barred him from the building starting on Wednesday, according to one person briefed on the matter. The person said Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, had learned Mr. Ailes was trying to get some of his on-air stars to criticize those who cooperated with investigators looking into accusations of sexual harassment against him.


Mr. Murdoch will assume the role of chairman and will be an interim chief executive of the Fox News channel and Fox Business Network until a permanent replacement for Mr. Ailes is found. His interim role is intended to ensure stability during the rest of the presidential race, and to be taken as a signal that the network is not on the verge of a wide-ranging overhaul, said a person briefed on the matter. Mr. Murdoch plans to be “extremely engaged” and had already been attending some news meetings because Mr. Ailes has had health issues recently, the person said.

I think that a lot of this is also driven by the fact that Fox News has horrible demographics, the average age of a viewer is 68, which means that the audience is literally dying off.

To change this, the network needs an extensive rework, and Ailes was clearly not the man for the job.

My guess is that they will stick with the current format and lineup through the elections, and then they start rearranging the deck chairs.

From the Department of about F%$#Ing Time………

It appears that we might finally be seeing the end of Robert Mugabe.  His most consistent power base, the “War Veterans” are calling for his ouster:

Zimbabwe’s war veterans association, which has played a key and sometimes violent role in supporting President Robert Mugabe, has released a statement withdrawing its backing for him.

It accuses Mr Mugabe of dictatorial tendencies, egocentrism and misrule.


BBC World Service Africa editor James Copnall says that even in the most difficult moments of his 36 years in power, Mr Mugabe could always rely on the war veterans – his former comrades in Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle in the 1970s.

They were loyal supporters who sometimes provided him the muscle for political violence, our correspondent adds, so this development will be quite a blow.

“We note, with concern, shock and dismay, the systematic entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies, personified by the president and his cohorts, which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle,” warned the statement released on Thursday after a meeting of representatives from across the country.

Sources told the BBC Zimbabwe analyst Lewis Machipisa that the statement reflected not only the views of some war veterans, but also senior military figures. Mr Mugabe relies heavily on the military to remain in power.

I followed the state of affairs in Zimbabwe for a couple of years, and then gave up.

I figured that nothing would ever change, particularly with the explicit support of the surrounding regimes.

I hope that we are seeing a change for the better in Zimbabwe.

We’ve Known This for Thirty Years

Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defense shield continues to reveal itself to be an expensive mirage:

The system designed to defend American cities and towns against a nuclear attack by North Korea is “simply unable to protect the U.S. public” and will remain ineffective unless Congress exerts rigorous oversight, according to a new report.

The report, to be released Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, recommends that the Obama administration halt the expansion of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, known as GMD, until its technical problems have been solved.

“The story of this system is a cautionary tale about how the lack of appropriate oversight of a politically charged missile defense program has led to a system in tatters,” said the report, written by three physicists with expertise in missile defense.

“Despite more than a decade of development and a bill of $40 billion, the GMD system is simply unable to protect the U.S. public,’’ the authors wrote.


The report notes that in “heavily scripted” flight tests that are “set up for success,” GMD interceptors have often failed to hit mock enemy warheads. In the seven most recent tests, interceptors destroyed their targets just three times, the report says — a finding consistent with conclusions of the Pentagon’s operational test and evaluation office.


The report said members of Congress and Pentagon officials insisted on deploying and expanding the system at a rapid pace—at the expense of sound procurement and engineering.

“Repeatedly,” the report said, “the Pentagon has sacrificed quality, shortened engineering cycles and sidestepped acquisitions best practices to meet a deadline imposed by political rationales rather than technical realities.”


The physicists write that “the continued development of the GMD system without adequate oversight and accountability, and the continued fielding of interceptors without adequate testing, means the system is not even on a path to achieving a useful ability to intercept ballistic missiles.”

As if the F-35 weren’t proof enough, it’s clear that our defense industry  is completely dysfunctional.

Wisconsin Voter ID Law Gets Spanked in Federal Court

Yesterday, the 5th circuit gave the state of Texas a wedgie over its racially discriminatory voter ID law, and now Wisconsin just got spanked over its voter ID law:

Wisconsin voters who do not have photo identification will be able to vote in November’s presidential election, a judge ruled on Tuesday, the latest development in a long fight over a state law Democrats say is aimed at keeping minorities from the polls.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman temporarily eases the impact of a 2011 Wisconsin law requiring voters to show photo identification before being allowed to cast a ballot.

“Although most voters in Wisconsin either possess qualifying ID or can easily obtain one, a safety net is needed for those voters who cannot obtain qualifying ID with reasonable effort,” Adelman said in his order.


Republicans say voter ID laws are needed to prevent voter fraud. But Democrats say the laws are really intended to make it more difficult for poor African-Americans and Latinos – who skew Democratic in their politics – to vote.

Under Adelman’s temporary injunction, people without ID can vote if they sign an affidavit at the polls declaring that they could not reasonably obtain photo identification and explaining why.

Allowable reasons include lack of a birth certificate or other documents required to obtain a photo ID, lack of transportation, disability and a tight work schedule.

I think that we are seeing this because Scalia is no longer.

Judges don’t like having their decisions overturned by a higher court, and now that there is one fewer minority and civil rights hostile reactionary on the Supreme Court, the lower courts are more willing to enforce the clear meaning of the Voting Rights Act.

The Oracle of Delphi Has Nothing on The Onion

The Onion:  Nostra-Dumb-Ass

In November 2012, The Onion suggested that a Shrieking White-Hot Sphere Of Pure Rage would be the favored Republican nominee in 2016:

Sources say the screaming orb might be the only potential candidate that would tap into Republicans’ deep-seated, seething fury after this election.

Look at the video.  The Shrieking White-Hot Sphere Of Pure Rage is indistinguishable from Donald Trump.

The Onion is not staffed by comedians, it is staffed by psychics.

This Means More Slavering War Monger

There are reports Hillary Clinton is looking for extensive “national security” experience in her VP pick.

A quick translation from beltway bullsh%$ is that she is looking for someone who is thoroughly inculcated in the solipsistic dysfunction that qualifies as conventional political wisdom in the nation’s capital, which means that unthinking support for self-destructive wars and an unrestrained military-industrial complex:

Facing a fall contest against a Republican opponent focused on law and order, Hillary Clinton has narrowed her search for a vice-presidential candidate, telling several potential running mates that she needs a No. 2 who would bring national security experience to the Democratic ticket.

Mrs. Clinton’s shortlist includes James G. Stavridis, a retired four-star Navy admiral who served as the 16th supreme allied commander of NATO, and Senator Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

She is widely expected to present her choice at a rally in Miami on Saturday, according to people involved with the planning who discussed private conversations on the condition of anonymity.

If this report is true, it’s a tell:  Hillary is looking to engage in an even more extensive program of wasting American blood and treasure in foreign lands.

I’m so glad that I live in Maryland, so my vote does not matter, and I do not have to vote for her.