Month: July 2017

Let him go! We will not. Let him go! We will not.*

Selected Tweets

#Scaramucci sells his company, loses his wife & then his job. Sounds like a rich man’s country song.#YouGotTrumped

— Jonathan (@CrashDavis757) July 31, 2017

Anthony Scaramucci has resigned to spend more time with his… well, no, that’s not gonna work.

— Matt Goldich (@MattGoldich) July 31, 2017

aww congrats to Scaramucci for taking his paternity leave!!! love when men set such good examples!!!!!!

— Elaine Filadelfo (@ElaineF) July 31, 2017

Comedians Protest Anthony Scaramucci’s Ouster. Has Trump blamed Obama yet?

— Jay Novarra (@Ominabeshi) July 31, 2017

RT if you’ve had a period that lasted longer than Scaramucci

— Allure (@Allure_magazine) July 31, 2017

It should be illegal to fire anyone before SNL does their bit. #MoochOut #Scaramucci @Scaramucci

— Askhole (@BlowNob) July 31, 2017

The Trump administration really is a sh%$ show.

After last week’s Night of the Long Knives, which saw the Press Secretary quitting and the Chief of Staff fired and left on the tarmac to find his way home, Anthony Scaramucci, the architect of these changes, was fired today.

Seriously, I’ve had encounters with the Department of Motor Vehicles that have taken more time to go through the system than this guy did:

President Trump on Monday removed Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, the White House announced, ousting him just days after Mr. Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the president’s senior staff.

“Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best.”

Mr. Scaramucci’s abrupt removal came just 10 days after the wealthy New York financier was brought on to the West Wing staff, a move that convulsed an already chaotic White House and led to the departures of Sean Spicer, the former press secretary, and Reince Priebus, the president’s first chief of staff.

In a Twitter message just before 5:30 on Monday morning, just hours before the announcement about Mr. Scaramucci, Mr. Trump insisted that there has been “No WH chaos!”

The decision to remove Mr. Scaramucci became public as Mr. Kelly, who replaced Mr. Priebus as the top adviser in the White House, began his first day in charge of the White House staff. He told aides gathered in early-morning staff meetings that he intended to impose a new sense of order and operational discipline that had been absent under his predecessor.

Mr. Scaramucci had boasted about reporting directly to the president, not the chief of staff. But the decision to remove him came at Mr. Kelly’s request, the people said.

It was not clear whether Mr. Scaramucci, who is known informally as “The Mooch,” will remain at the White House in another position or will leave altogether. The White House had originally said that his official start date as a government employee was to be August 15, although he appeared to begin performing his duties immediately.

I called my dad about potential metaphors for Mr. Scaramucci’s short tenure this afternoon, and he was extremely amused at recent developments.

He made an interesting observation, that new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly just had what is probably the best day in his job that he will ever have.

It’s all down hill from here.

We do, however need to have a few moments of silence for all the gags that have been written, and now must be thrown away.

The writers for the late night shows must be furiously rewriting opening monologues as we speek.

*Not my bon mot. DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS came up with it.

Karma is a Bitch, and He Should Die in Jail

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been found guilty of criminal contempt and faces up to 6 months in jail.

It’s not long enough. This guy has spent the past 30 years trampling the rule of law and abusing his position, but it’s a good start:

The immigration policies that elevated former Sheriff Joe Arpaio to fame were the same that would ultimately lead to his political demise and conviction of a federal crime.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton found Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt of court, finding that he willfully violated a federal judge’s order.

The sentencing phase will begin Oct. 5. Arpaio faces up to six months in confinement, a sentence equivalent to that of a misdemeanor.

Bolton’s ruling follows a five-day June and July trial, in which Department of Justice prosecutors argued that the 85-year-old had intentionally flouted a federal judge’s orders halting Arpaio’s signature immigration round-ups.

Honestly, his anti-Hispanic activities are really a small part of his wrongdoing.


This is a deeply evil man, and he needs to spend the rest of natural life in prison.

Of course, the maximum sentence is only 6 months, but I think that some other rocks will be turned over in the interim.

Quote of the Day

My objection is not just academic or aesthetic or cultural; it’s also political. I don’t believe in technocracy. I don’t think I (or people like me) am qualified to lead the country or to have a Clinton-like position in this country because I went to good schools or read a lot of books. There’s a limited place for expertise in a democracy, but it’s limited. I know I’m in the minority here on this, but I get no comfort from the fact that Barack Obama reads great literature (that was a Facebook post a while back) or that Chelsea Clinton knows how to name drop Arendt. For me, that doesn’t reflect the legitimate needs for some limited expertise. Nor does it reflect the requirements of good leadership, and it sure as sh%$ is not about democracy. It’s about social class, social standing, and social signaling.

Cory Robin on his Twitter exchange with Chelsea Clinton over her clueless use of the Hanna Arendt quote, “The Banality of Evil.”

Mr. Robin is not intending to be deeply profound, he correctly sees this as just some bullsh%$ on the internet, but in a very real way, he has put his finger on the pulse of what is wrong with the current Democratic Party.

The current mission of the party is to produce the feeling of virtue with the top 10% of social strata that believes themselves not to be sociopaths, which might explain why it’s been performing so poorly among the rest of the country.

Support Your Local Law Enforcement

Well now we have seen at least 34 cases tainted by evidence tampering by the Baltimore cops:

Maryland prosecutors have tossed 34 criminal cases and are re-examining dozens more in the aftermath of recent revelations that a Baltimore police officer accidentally recorded himself planting drugs in a trash-strewn alley.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said that, in all, 123 cases are under review in the wake of a scandal in which one officer has been suspended and two others put on administrative duty. Body cam footage revealed nearly two weeks ago showed one of the officers planting drugs when he didn’t realize his body cam was recording. The Baltimore Police Department’s body cams, like many across the nation, capture footage 30 seconds before an officer presses the record button. The footage was turned over to defense attorneys as part of a drug prosecution—and that’s when the misdeed was uncovered.


Mosby added that the authorities are likely to dismiss many more cases, and they have reviewed hundreds of body cam videos. At least one other is suspicious, she said.

The real question is how common this sort of behavior really is.

My guess is that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.


A virtual reality homage to the classic Ah-Ha video Take On Me:

Well, We Finally Knows What Makes a Federal Judge Call Bullsh%$ on the FBI

The FBI was saying that it needed 17 years to accomodate a Freedom of Information Act request.

The judge was having none of it:

Getting answers to Freedom of Information Act requests is often a protracted and tiring process, but how long a wait is too long?

One federal judge just came up with an answer: 17 years.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler bluntly rejected the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s proposal that documentary filmmaker Nina Seavey wait until the year 2034 to get all the law enforcement agency’s records for a request pertaining surveillance of anti-war and civil rights activists in the 1960s and 1970s.

The request involved an unusually large amount of material — about 110,000 pages of records at the FBI and more at other agencies — but Seavey said waiting almost two decades for the complete files wasn’t viable for her.

You can run the numbers: 110,000 pages taking 17 years with 50 weeks a year working 5 days a week, and you hve a processing rate of less than 26 pages a day.

This is bullsh%$, and it’s a coverup in an attempt to protect the reputation of J. Edgar Hoover, who should be remembered primarily as a Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria

“Literally, they were talking 17 years out. I’m 60 years old. You can’t do that math,” the George Washington University professor and documentarian told POLITICO this week. “It wasn’t going to work for me.”

The FBI said it has a policy of processing and releasing large requests at a pace of 500 pages a month, while Seavey, represented by D.C. transparency lawyer Jeffrey Light, had proposed 5,000 pages a month. (At one point, the FBI thought it had about 150,000 pages of responsive records, which would’ve meant a 25-year wait.)

Justice Department lawyers and the FBI argued that going faster than 500 pages a month would disrupt the agency’s workflow and create the possibility of a few massive requests effectively shutting down the rest of the their FOIA operation.

Kessler didn’t buy it.


Ultimately, Kessler ordered the FBI to process 2,850 pages a month, which should get Seavey the records she’s seeking within three years.


It’s not the first FOIA case to produce staggering estimates of how long the government would need to make records public. Last year, the State Department rebuffed a request for emails of aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying it could take 75 years to work through the material.

Yeah, that’s a f%$3ing coverup too, but tragically, it was a coverup of basically nothing driven by unreasoning paranoia, which created the appearance of guilt.

But of Course

Of course, the office has been irrelevant for a while, see Iraq-Bush, Libya-Obama, Yemen-House of Saud, etc., but it’s a bit of a bummer anyway:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is reportedly considering closing the Office of Global Criminal Justice, a tiny agency with a meager budget of $3 million a year, located within the State Department.

According to its website, the office “advises the Secretary of State . . . on issues related to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” It “also coordinates U.S. Government positions relating to the international and hybrid courts currently prosecuting persons responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity—not only for such crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia—but also in Kenya, Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, and elsewhere in the world.”

Furthermore, it deploys “a range of diplomatic, legal, economic, military, and intelligence tools to help expose the truth, judge those responsible, protect and assist victims, enable reconciliation, deter atrocities, and build the rule of law.”

The New York Times reported that human rights advocates saw the proposal as an example of “the Trump administration’s indifference to human rights outside North Korea, Iran and Cuba.” Human rights activists also said that shutting the Office “would hamper efforts to publicize atrocities and bring war criminals to justice.” Newsweek reported, however, that the Obama administration also reportedly considered downgrading the office and merging it with another agency.

Let’s be clear:  If we consider the House of Saud to be an essential ally, any war crimes office is necessarily a joke.

OK, This Explains a the Furor………

As a part of the Brexit, the UK is renegotiating export deals with the US.

One of the sticking point is chlorine washed chicken.

In the EU and the UK, cleanliness is required at every step of the process, while in the US, the carcasses are washed with a solution of water and chlorine because the chickens are raised in in extreme conditions, and the chlorine washing is required to make ensure that the chickens are safe to eat:

The disturbing prospect of chlorine-washed chickens from the US going on sale in British shops in a post-Brexit trade deal last week sparked an explosive row at the heart of Government.

But beyond the politics lies the story of why American poultry needs such drastic chemical treatment – and of the horrendous conditions at the farms where they are bred and reared.

Now whistleblower farmers have revealed the full horror of the suffering to The Mail on Sunday, including how:

  • Tens of thousands of super-sized ‘Frankenstein’ birds are crammed in vast warehouses.
  • The chickens, which weigh up to 9lb, often buckle under their weight and must live without natural sunlight.
  • Chickens frequently die before they reach maturity and many are left covered in their own faeces, turning warehouses into vile breeding grounds for disease.

Unlike in the UK and Europe, there are no minimum space requirements for breeding chickens in the US. America also does not have any rules governing lighting levels in the sheds and, crucially, its farms have no maximum allowed level of ammonia, which indicates how much urine and faecal matter is present. This means there is no limit on how much can fester inside the sheds.

There is no legal requirement to wash US chickens in chlorine or other disinfectants, but 97 per cent of its birds are cleaned in this way after slaughter.


Another reason poultry in the US is chlorinated is that farmers are not required to vaccinate against diseases such as Salmonella. Britain and the EU have widespread vaccination programmes.


Leah Garces, of the Global Animal Partnership, an animal welfare group, added: ‘The fact we have to wash our food in chlorine to make it safe indicates that we are not doing farming right in the first place. It indicates how unhealthy we are raising our birds.’

While UK chicken farmers are not wholly free from criticism from animal welfare campaigners, there are strict regulations that must be followed. In the UK and Europe, poultry farmers must not keep more than 17 chickens per square metre in their sheds. There are also rules governing available natural light, temperature and the maximum levels of ammonia.


Shraddha Kaul, of the British Poultry Council, said: ‘We strongly reject any move to import chlorine-washed chickens as part of a makeweight in trade negotiations with the US.

‘Chlorine is used as a catch-all. It is an approach which means it doesn’t matter how badly you treat your chicken, you can just clean it away at the end of the process.’

This reflects a very big difference in philosophy, the Europeans bake in sanitation throughout the process, while in the US, you hose the chickens down with disinfectant when they hit the slaughter house.

Of course, lousy chicken and a race to the bottom is the par for the course in free trade deals, so limeys need to eat their mutant steroid and antibiotic fetid chicken, and they need to like it.

Private Prisons

In Estancia, New Mexico, a private prison is threatening to close unless the authorities throw some more people in prison:

The company that has operated a private prison in Estancia for nearly three decades has announced it will close the Torrance County Detention Facility and lay off more than 200 employees unless it can find 300 state or federal inmates to fill empty beds within the next 60 days, according to a statement issued Tuesday by county officials.

“This is a big issue for us,” Torrance County Manager Belinda Garland said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s going to affect Torrance County in a big way.”

Jonathan Burns, a spokesman for CoreCivic — formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America — had this to say about the closure:

“The city of Estancia and the surrounding community have been a great partner to CoreCivic for the last 27 years. CoreCivic is grateful for the support the community has shown through the years and we’re honored to have been a part of that community. Unfortunately, a declining detainee population in general has forced us to make difficult decisions in order to maximize utilization of our resources.”

Garland said the prison’s imminent closure will affect the county in a number of ways, not the least of which is that the county, which does not have its own jail, will have to find another place to house the 40 to 75 inmates it sends there each month.

Seriously, holding a town for ransom in an attempt to get law enforcement to lock up more people.

That is pretty f%$#ing cold.

If You Are Suggesting that John McCain is Playing 3D Chess, You are an Imbecile

Let’s be clear: McCain is neither intelligent enough to come up with this, and he is far to vain and chatty to keep his mouth shut for the requisite 24 hours of so to make it work.

He did this, because he was upset that people were calling him out on the “straight shooter” myth that he has cultivated his entire political career, and I believe that acted in this manner because of his own self regard.

But in the interest fairness, I will quote the theory: (%$# mine)

I’m not sure if it’s really being appreciated just how comprehensively the Republicans were just f%$#ed over.

See, the Republicans have been trying to pass these godawful healthcare bills through a process called budget reconciliation, which, among other things, protects the bill from being filibustered in the Senate and only requires a simple majority of 50 votes (rather than 60, which the Republicans don’t have).

The thing is, the Senate can only consider one budget reconciliation bill per topic per year. Of course, if the bill dies in committee and never comes to an official vote, it doesn’t count- which is why they’ve been able to keep hammering away at the issue.

This bill, though, was allowed to come to the Senate floor, because the Republicans thought they’d secured the votes. Collins, Murkowski and the Democrats would vote no, everyone else would vote yes, and Pence would break the tie. And then McCain completely f%$#ed them. And it was almost certainly a calculated move; he voted to allow the bill to come to the floor. Had McCain allowed it to die in committee, McConnell could have come back with yet another repeal bill; but he let it come to a vote, and now they can’t consider another budget reconciliation bill for the rest of the fiscal year. The Senate needs 60 votes to pass any kind of healthcare reform now.

So now they’re caught between a rock and a hard place. Either they concede defeat on the issue and try again later (causing a big, unpopular stink that could damage elections if they try it before the midterms, or risking losing the slim majority they already have if they wait) or they actually sit down with the democrats like adults and write a halfway decent healthcare bill.

This is amazing.

While I admit that his actions MAY have had the stated effect, I think that was a happy accident.

Simply put, this is not how John McCain plays the game.

Also, the idea that McConnell gives a flying f%$# about Senate procedure, and won’t wreck 200+ years of dysfunction tradition to get his way is simply delusional.

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Even by the Standards of the Trump Administration, This Has Been a Sh%$ Show

First, of course, is that Sean Spicer quit, because Trump hired Anthony “Boneitis Guy” Scaramucci as communications director.

Then the Boneitis Guy gave a profanity laden rant/interview to the New Yorker, where among other things, he said:

Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own c%$#,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the f%$#ing strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.” (Bannon declined to comment.)

And then, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus got fired as chief of staff, and was left on the tarmac at Andrews AFB without a ride home.

And then Anthony Scaramucci’s wife filed for divorce while she was 9 months pregnant, and actually had the child while “Mooch” was busy watching Trump doing an impression of Benito Mussolini in front of several thousand Boy Scouts.

It’s no wonder that Matt Taibbi predicts that the, “Anthony Scaramucci Era Will Be Freakish, Embarrassing, Short.”

I already miss Anthony Scaramucci. Of course, he hasn’t officially been fired yet (checks Twitter), or committed suicide by jumping into boiling steak fat at his Gotti-esque Hunt and Fish Club restaurant in Manhattan (checks Twitter again). But it sure seems like he’s not long for this earth. Even by Trumpian standards, has any federal official had a more disastrous rollout?

The big headline this morning is that the new White House Communications Director got upset and decided to call Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker and go full-on Glengarry Glen Ross without asking for background or off-the-record privileges.

In the call, Scaramucci hounded Lizza to give up his sources, threatened to fire the entire White House communications staff, and gave what Saddam Hussein would have described as the mother of all quotes in an effort to bash fellow backstabbing Trump insider Steve Bannon:

“I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the f%$#ing strength of the President.”


In the space of a week, Trump’s new press expert demonstrated that he a) didn’t know how to hold off-the-record conversations b) didn’t understand that cameras and microphones keep rolling even when the red light is off and c) doesn’t bother to check the other public statements made by administration officials before he makes statements of his own. An alien crashed on earth and given a two-minute tutorial on dealing with reporters would have done a better job.


His hire horrified even hardened mutants like Bannon (“Over my dead body will you get this job!” Bannon is reported to have yelped, when he heard the Scaramucci news). Spicer, who for months had effortlessly gulped down Trump administration lies like a vulture guzzling battery acid, resigned in protest at Scaramucci’s arrival (an “unusual choice of hills to die on” was the New Yorker‘s comment).


Long live Mooch (checks Twitter).  

If I was a screenwriter, and pitching this to a bunch of producers, and the producers were tripping on LSD, they would still throw me out of their office saying that the script was completely unbelievable.

Roman Emperor Nero would look at this sh%$, and say, “This is f%$#ed up.”

Roman Emperor Caligula could not be reached for comment.

A Foreseeable Consequence of 23 Years of Bad Foreign Policy

For the past 23 years, the US has:

  • Refused to talk directly with the DPRK (North Korea).
  • Overthrew a despot who terminated his WMD Program (Gadaffi).
  • Not followed the Agreed Framework of 1994 with the DPRK.  (They did for a few years)
  • Refused recognition of the government of the DPRK.
  • Overthrew another despot on false pretenses (Saddam Hussein).  
  • Started a proxy war to overthrow another despot (Assad). 
  • Refused to end the Korean war (Really, it’s still going on).

Are we surprised then, that they develop nuclear weapons and have now developed an ICBM that can likely strike the west coast of the mainland United States?

They are neither crazy nor stupid, and every move we have made since Bill Clinton lacked the guts to follow his 1992 1994 agreement with the DPRK.

It really is the most logical course of action for them to take, because nuclear weapons work as a deterrent from us:

North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday that, for the first time, appeared capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States, according to experts — a milestone that American presidents have long declared the United States could not tolerate.

The launch, the second of an intercontinental missile in 24 days, did not answer the question of whether the North has mastered all the technologies necessary to deliver a nuclear weapon to targets in the lower 48 states. But just a few days ago, the Defense Intelligence Agency warned the Trump administration that the North would probably be able to do so within a year, and Friday’s test left little doubt that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, is speeding toward that goal.

The missile launched on Friday remained aloft for roughly 47 minutes, according to American, South Korean and Japanese officials, following a steep trajectory that took it roughly 2,300 miles into space. It then turned and arced sharply down into the sea near the northernmost Japanese island, Hokkaido.

If that trajectory had been flattened out — a step the North may have avoided for fear of provoking an American military response — the missile could have put a number of major American cities at risk, experts say. The Pentagon was quick to declare that the “North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.” That statement, while true, ignored the potential long-term implications of the launch.

“Depending on how heavy a warhead it carries, this latest North Korean missile would easily reach the West Coast of the United States with a range of 9,000 to 10,000 kilometers,” or 5,600 to 6,200 miles, said Kim Dong-yub, a defense analyst at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul. “With this missile, North Korea leaves no doubt that its missile has a range that covers most of the United States.”

Accept reality and deal directly with Pyongyang before they have a missile that can strike Washington, DC.

We already know that the DPRK is working on a boosted fission warhead, which is an essential part of the warhead miniaturization process, and we know that they will literally starve their people to death to develop this capability, because they believe that they are facing an existential threat from the United States.

Just talk to them, and while you are at it, end the f%$#ing Korean war.  It’s absurd that we are still under a temporary truce after 75 years.


Someone in finance finally realizes that being an asshole is not synonymous with being innovative:

This is F%$#ed Up and Sh%$

Yesterday I wrote about a Pakistani crime ring operating out of the of a number of Democratic Congressional offices.  (As if that wasn’t weird enough).

It turns out that they got fired once the investigations of equipment and data theft became known by every office at which they worked, except for Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office.

She did not fire her larcenous staffer until after his arrest for fraud:

When a computer expert who worked for congressional Democrats was accused of stealing computers and data systems in February, members of Congress cut him loose within days, leaving Imran Awan with no supporters five months later.

Except for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The Weston Democrat has not explained in detail why she continued to employ Awan until Tuesday when she fired him — after he was arrested on bank-fraud charges at Dulles International Airport in Virginia attempting to board a flight to Pakistan.

And she has not elaborated on what work Awan did for her after he lost access to the House computer network.

She declined to answer questions about Awan in Washington on Wednesday, and her spokesman, David Damron, accompanied her to the House floor while instructing a reporter that Wasserman Schultz would not take questions about her former employee.


But months after Awan was fired by everyone else, Wasserman Schultz grilled Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa in May over why computer equipment was confiscated from her office as part of the investigation into Awan even though she was not under investigation.

“Under my understanding, the Capitol police are not able to confiscate a member’s equipment when the member is not under investigation,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It is their equipment and it is supposed to be returned.”

Verderosa told Wasserman Schultz that he couldn’t return the equipment without the permission of the investigation.

Am I the only one who thinks that this is hinky beyond words?

There are only two reasons I can see behind this, either Awan has something truly damming on DWS, or DWS hired Awan to spy on her colleagues in Congress.

Something here is crookeder than ……… sh%$ ……… I’ve run out of analogies.

A Well Deserved Repudiation of Cultural Relativism

A court in Ontario sentenced an Iranian immigrant for beating and raping his wife repeatedly for 18 months, well below the recommended sentence, with the justification that he was operating under the cultural norms of Iran.

The appellate court overruled this sentence and gave the offender a 4 year sentence, saying that Canadians need to behave according to Canadian standards:

The woman, a recent immigrant from Iran, suffered brutal spousal abuse but didn’t even realize it was against the law.

After moving to Canada in 2009 her husband forced the woman, whose identity is protected by the court, to have sex with him by hitting her, pulling her hair, pinching her and forcefully removing her clothes. “She cried out quietly so the children would not hear,” court was told.

He also slapped, kicked and punched their two sons and hit them with a belt. Once he locked them outside the house on a snowy winter day wearing nothing but shorts and T-shirts until their mother came home and rescued them.

When the husband was convicted of sexual assault and assault, Justice William Gorewich of Ontario court sentenced him to 18 months, citing mitigating factors that included the lack of a criminal record. The judge also noted a “significant cultural gap” between behaviour that is accepted in Canada and in Iran, and the “cultural impact” of changing countries.

That didn’t cut much muster with the Ontario Court of Appeal, nor should it have.

On appeal by the Crown, Justices Mary Lou Benotto, Alexandra Hoy and David Doherty found the 18-month sentence to be “manifestly unfit”and they imposed a far tougher, and entirely appropriate, four-year sentence.

They also went out of their way to send a powerful, timely message to the lower courts and the public in general that “cultural norms that condone or tolerate conduct contrary to Canadian criminal law” must not be a mitigating factor in sentencing. “Cultural differences do not excuse or mitigate criminal conduct,” the appeals court held.

If that were the case “some women in Canadian society would be afforded less protection than others.” In effect “it would … create a second class of person in our society — those who fall victim to offenders who import such practices.”

I wholeheartedly approve of this ruling.

I don’t care if you come from WifeBeatIstan, there is no excuse for domestic abuse.  Ever.

Quote of the Day

This is vile. John McCain was never anyone’s white knight. This is the man who ushered in the age of troll candidacies by tapping Sarah Palin as his running mate. This is the man who caved to Donald Trump even after Trump had the audacity to mock his time as a POW. This is the man who called his own wife a c%$# in public. This is a man who has spent all this time acting as if all the Bad Republicans were forcing him to go along with their nefarious deeds while voting in lockstep with them. He is not a reluctant Republican. He’s a sh%$bag, same as the rest of them.

Drew Magary at GQ

(%$# mine)

Something Seriously Weird

The indespensible Matt Tiabbi has looked into the Government takeover of the government-sponsored entities (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and found it odd.

Not only is it odd, but it runs completely counter to the normal way that the Treasury Department handled rescues during the financial crisis.

For the bailouts of both the auto companies and AIG, the Secretary of the Treasury Timothy “Eddie Haskell” Geithner could not get the government out of those businesses, but with Fannie and Freddie, they retained a permanent ongoing interest:

In August 2012, a few months before Barack Obama told Mitt Romney the Eighties had called and wanted their foreign policy back, the U.S. government made a momentous and little-discussed decision. It unilaterally changed the terms of the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, seizing all of the companies’ profits.

The government originally insisted on a 10 percent annual dividend in exchange for what ultimately became a $187 billion rescue. In 2012, the government quietly changed that 10 percent deal to one in which the state simply seized all profits. Government regulators euphemistically described this as “fully capturing financial benefits.” The press paid almost no attention to this event.


They had gone bust during the crash years for a variety of reasons, mostly due to incompetent and corrupt management. But by the summer of 2012, with the real estate market in recovery, the companies weren’t bust anymore. On the contrary, they were about to start making money again – enormous piles of it, in fact.

The government has always insisted it didn’t know this. Not just in the summer of 2012 but numerous times since, officials have insisted that they needed 100 percent of Fannie and Freddie’s profits because they wanted to protect taxpayers from likely future losses, and because Fannie and Freddie would otherwise be unable to pay back what they owed.

Mario Ugoletti, a special adviser to the director of the federal housing agency, said in 2013 of the companies’ debts that it was “unlikely that [Fannie and Freddie] would be able to meet that amount consistently without drawing additional funds from Treasury.”

But documents just released in a court case show that the government privately believed just the opposite before it made its historic decision to “sweep” the GSE revenues.

One key document is a memo from Mary Miller, assistant Treasury secretary for the financial markets, to then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Dated December 11th, 2011, Miller writes to Geithner that “Freddie is expected to be net income positive by the end of 2012, and Fannie by the end of 2013.”


The only reason this story is hitting the headlines at all this week is because the government’s 2012 decision triggered an all-out pitched battle between two investor groups. Those who bet on Fannie and Freddie’s revival were wiped out by the government’s 2012 decision, while those who shorted the firms have made fortunes.

The documents that came out this week were released in a lawsuit brought by Fannie and Freddie shareholders who believe that the government stole billions of dollars in profits from them.

Well, that last bit explains cui bono, doesn’t it.

I’m wondering if the firm Warburg Pincus, where Geithner secured a job as president, had short positions on Fannie and Freddie, but I am a cynical SOB.

Then I decided to put on my cynical hat, and thought perhaps the Obama administration was attempting to move the GSE’s function, and their government backing, to Wall Street, so as to privatize the profits and socialize the risks, to benefit the finance industry at the expense of ordinary Americans.

This did seem to be the modus operandi of the Obama and his Evil Minions, and that the easiest way to take down the GSE’s would be to eliminate the major constituency for the supporting them, their investors.

It appears to have worked:

Lurking underneath the scandal derisively termed “Fanniegate” is a monstrous struggle for future profits. The fight here is not just about the profits generated by the GSEs, but what to do about them generally. Finance lobbyists have successfully forged a bipartisan consensus that the companies need to be privatized. Essentially, Wall Street wants to step into the shoes of Fannie and Freddie.

In most versions of GSE reform currently winding their way through Congress, the same too-big-to-fail banks that blew up the mortgage markets in 2008 would assume most of the responsibilities of Fannie and Freddie. Crucially, securitized mortgages would continue to enjoy government backing under many of these proposals.

Privatized profits, socialized losses. Who doesn’t love that formula?

It would be the ultimate triumph for Wall Street, and the ultimate shocker ending to the crash era. After nearly blowing up the planet with a mortgage bubble and getting bailed out by taxpayers, banks would now be handed control of the real estate markets and granted permission to reap massive profits trading government-backed mortgages until the end of time.

I kind of hope that it’s petty corruption by Geithner, who, after all, is a rather petty fellow, because the other alternative is that the policies of the Obama administration with regard to the finance industry were at their core ineluctably evil.

The counter argument to this theory is the massive program of prosecuting the Wall Street banksters for their crimes, but even George W. Bush prosecuted more aggressively than the Obama administration did.

Quote of the Day

One of the keys to understanding its origins is that the program was launched not because of a threat to U.S. security, but because of a perceived opportunity. That is always a danger sign, prompting powerful national-security bureaucrats to begin thinking about a “win” for the United States. (Think Vietnam and Iraq.)

Gareth Porter In the American Conservative of all places.

It’s in a surprisingly well written article about how we ended up supporting al Qaeda forces in Syrian civil war.

Ahhh ……… The Glories of the Free Market

Hospitals have had problems with staffing their emergency rooms, and have taken to contracting with a company called EmCare.

The result has been exorbitant fees charged by out of network doctors:

Early last year, executives at a small hospital an hour north of Spokane, Wash., started using a company called EmCare to staff and run their emergency room. The hospital had been struggling to find doctors to work in its E.R., and turning to EmCare was something hundreds of other hospitals across the country had done.

That’s when the trouble began.

Before EmCare, about 6 percent of patient visits in the hospital’s emergency room were billed for the most complex, expensive level of care. After EmCare arrived, nearly 28 percent got the highest-level billing code.

On top of that, the hospital, Newport Hospital and Health Services, was getting calls from confused patients who had received surprisingly large bills from the emergency room doctors. Although the hospital had negotiated rates for its fees with many major health insurers, the EmCare physicians were not part of those networks and were sending high bills directly to the patients. For a patient needing care with the highest-level billing code, the hospital’s previous physicians had been charging $467; EmCare’s charged $1,649.

“The billing scenario, that was the real fiasco and caught us off guard,” said Tom Wilbur, the chief executive of Newport Hospital. “Hindsight being 20/20, we never would have done that.” Faced with angry patients, the hospital took back control of its coding and billing.

Newport’s experience with EmCare, now one of the nation’s largest physician-staffing companies for emergency rooms, is part of a pattern. A study released Monday by researchers at Yale found that the rate of out-of-network doctor’s bills for customers of one large insurer jumped when EmCare entered a hospital. The rates of tests ordered and patients admitted from the E.R. into a hospital also rose, though not as much. The use of the highest billing code increased.


In the study, the researchers examined nearly nine million visits made to emergency rooms run by a variety of companies between 2011 and 2015, using data from a single insurance company that does business in every state. In exchange for access, the researchers agreed not to identify the insurer. Insurers and health care providers typically sign contracts forbidding them to reveal the prices they have agreed to, and the national trends in surprise billing detected by the Yale team are consistent with a broader study by government researchers.

The new data suggests that EmCare, part of publicly traded Envision Healthcare, did not sign contracts with the insurance company and was able to charge higher prices.

Fiona Scott Morton, a professor at the Yale School of Management and a co-author of the paper, described the strategy as a “kind of ambushing of patients.” A patient who goes to the emergency room can look for a hospital that takes her insurance, but she almost never gets to choose the doctor who treats her.

This actually highlights a flaw in Obamacare:  Whatever protection you have goes away when you get out of network services.

The larger picture is that for-profit healthcare is inefficient and morally bankrupt.