Month: August 2017

While We are on the Subject of Abject Failure

Secretary of Defense James Mathis is trying to gin up support for US military involvement in the Ukraine:

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday that the Trump administration is “actively reviewing” whether to provide weapons to Ukrainians who are fighting Russian-backed rebels.

“On the defensive lethal weapons, we are actively reviewing it,” Mattis said during a press conference alongside Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

“I will go back, now, having seen the current situation, and be able to inform the secretary of State and the president in very specific terms what I recommend for the direction ahead.”

There is a permanent war party in Washington, DC, AKA, “The Blob,” and they haven’t won a war, since 1945, and they haven’t made the world a better place, or had a diplomatic success in almost as long a time.

They were the ones, in the person of Victoria Nuland, who fomented a coup and a civil war in the Ukraine in the first place.

And now these idiots are back in command of our foreign policy.

What the hell, it’s just more blood and treasure sacrificed on the altar of pointless American hegemony.


In response to threats and a blockade led by the House of Saud, Qatar has reopened full diplomatic relations with Iran:

Qatar said Thursday that it has restored diplomatic relations with Iran, marking a further break with Arab nations that have closed ranks against Qatar for its links to Islamist groups and others perceived as regional threats.

The decision ignores demands by Qatar’s neighbors — led by Saudi Arabia — to limit ties with Tehran and threatens to deepen the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in decades, which has complicated Washington’s policies in the Middle East.

Qatar hosts U.S. warplanes at a major air base and serves as a logistical hub for Pentagon operations.

“The State of Qatar expressed its aspiration to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The brief statement made no mention of the tensions that have roiled the Persian Gulf region since June, when Saudi Arabia and three other Arab nations severed ties with Qatar. The Arab bloc shut down borders, airspace and shipping lanes after accusing the tiny, energy-rich nation of backing terrorism because of ties with groups such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Qatar also has come under pressure to close down the powerful pan-Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera, which is based in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Qatar has denied the allegations and has weathered the boycott, not least by turning to Iran and Turkey for economic and military assistance.

Qatar recalled its ambassador from Tehran in early 2016 to show solidarity with Saudi Arabia after protesters ransacked the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and a consulate in the city of Mashhad. The attacks were triggered by Riyadh’s execution of a well-known Shiite Muslim cleric, and prompted Saudi Arabia to sever ties with Iran after accusing it of not protecting its missions.

When you look at the Saudi initiatives that have come to the fore since Mohammed bin Salman first rose to prominence in the House of Saud, the pointless and self-destructive confrontation with Qatar is only the latest clusterf%$#, it has been a very inauspicious start for the youngster.

I’ve always said that the House of Saud would fall sooner rather than later, and that the only choice was whether they fell like the House of Windsor (British Royals), or like the House of Romanov (the Russian Czars).

They seem determined to going the Romanov route.

You Cannot Blame the Deplorables or the Russians for This

The Pew Research Center just did a study, and it showed that black voter’s turnout fell in 2016.

A record 137.5 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Overall voter turnout – defined as the share of adult U.S. citizens who cast ballots – was 61.4% in 2016, a share similar to 2012 but below the 63.6% who say they voted in 2008.

This wasn’t Russian hacking. This wasn’t, as Lamberth Strether sarcastically noted, “Black voters are racist, sexist bros,” this was an incompetent, arrogant, and, uninspiring candidate with a history of winking and nodding to racism. (“They are often the kinds of kids that are called superpredators — no conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first, we have to bring them to heel.”)

This was a candidate who promulgated a Lord of the Flies management style in her campaign which created an incompetent, arrogant, and uninspiring campaign.

And the Democratic party establishment, the incompetent, arrogant, and, uninspiring Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the incompetent, arrogant, and, uninspiring DNC, and the legions of incompetent, arrogant, and, uninspiring consultants pulled out all the stops to fix the primary process for her.

Running against the most racist major Presidential candidate since Woodrow Wilson, somehow, she, and the entire Democratic Party establishment, could not get black voters to turn out.

These are not the people who should be running the Democratic Party. 

These are not consultants who candidates should pay to run their campaigns. 

These are not people who should hold elective office.

They need to go away.

New Foods

I tried a new food combination today, chicken & waffles.

I rather liked the textural combination of the fluffy waffle and the crisp skin off the chicken as well as the juxtaposition of the sweet syrup (real maple syrup next time) and savory/salty chicken.

Eating out was a bit of a challenge, fried chicken is best eaten with the hands and waffles and syrup is certainly fork and knife territory. (The wings were a particular challenge.)

I actually googled how to best eat chicken & waffles before ordering.

I enjoyed the culinary combination, and I would recommend it.

I’m not entirely sure of its origins, but I get the sense that hung over musicians played a significant roll in the origins of the dish.


John Oliver explaining the affection of Nazis for Donald Trump:

Nazis are a lot like cats: If they like you, it’s probably because you’re feeding them. Also, cats are like Nazis, but that’s a whole different subject.

Tweet of the Day

this is the most dccc response to a tragedy that i could ever imagine

— fake noosh (@COINCELPRO) August 16, 2017

Seriously, if we were to fire every strategist, consultant, and fund-raiser in the DCCC, and replace them with Dr. Who bobble heads, it would improve the chances of political victory for the Democratic Party.

Of course, if we were to replace them with all 13-29 doctors (they are hard to count), they would save the Democratic Party in the nick of time.

Yeah, That Would Be Great

It appears that the House of Saud has finally noticed that the majority of the citizens of Iraq are Shia, and they are determined to reestablish Sunni hegemony in the region, because, after all, it’s worked so f%$#ing well in Syria and Yemen:

Iraq and Saudi Arabia are negotiating a new alliance that would give Riyadh a leading role in rebuilding Iraq’s war-torn towns and cities, while bolstering Baghdad’s credentials across the region.

Meetings between senior officials on both sides over the past six months have focused on shepherding Iraq away from its powerful neighbour and Saudi Arabia’s long-time rival, Iran, whose influence over Iraqi affairs has grown sharply since the 2003 ousting of Saddam Hussein.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia have long been considered opponents in the region, but a visit by the Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to Riyadh last week and a follow-up trip to the UAE further thawed relations which had already been much improved by high-profile visits between the two countries.


“This visit was an important step in ensuring that Iraq returns to the Arab fold and is supported in doing so by friendly partners,” said the former Saudi minister of state Saad al-Jabri. “This necessitates limiting Tehran’s continued attempts to dominate Iraq and spread sectarianism. Broader engagement between Riyadh and Baghdad will lead the way for enhanced regional support for Iraq, especially from the Gulf states. This is essential after the capture of Mosul from Isis and as Iraq looks towards national reconstruction.” 

The House of Saud created ISIS, and now these arsonists want a piece of the action rebuilding after the conflagration.

A rapprochement between Sunni and Shia in Iraq is essential to the nation’s future as a unitary state.

Involving Riyadh in this process would be an unmitigated disaster.

Asshole Loser of the Day: Vinod Khosla

A California court has ordered a Silicon Valley billionaire to restore access to a beloved beach that he closed off for his private use, a major victory for public lands advocates who have been fighting the venture capitalist for years.

An appeals court ruled on Thursday that Vinod Khosla, who runs the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures and co-founded the tech company Sun Microsystems, must unlock the gates to Martins Beach in northern California by his property.

The decision is a major blow to Khosla and other wealthy landowners who have increasingly tried to buy up the internationally celebrated beaches along the California coast and turn public lands into private property.

The beach was a popular destination for fishing, surfing and other recreational activities for nearly a century, and the previous owners provided a general store and public restroom. But Khosla eventually bought the property and in 2010 closed public access, putting up signs warning against trespassing.

Khosla, who has a net worth of $1.55bn and does not live on the property, has faced multiple lawsuits and legislative efforts to get him to open up the gate to the beach near Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco. The law in California states that all beaches should be open to the public up to the “mean high tide line”.

The decision this week, affirming a lower court ruling, stems from a lawsuit filed by the Surfrider Foundation, a not-for-profit group that says the case could have broader implications for beach access across the US.

“Vinod Khosla, with his billions of dollars, bought this piece of property and said, ‘No, no, the public isn’t going to use this anymore. End of story,’” the Surfrider attorney Joe Cotchett said by phone on Thursday. “He got away with it for many years … This is probably one of the most important public right-of-access cases in the country.”

You know, maybe if we actually enforced the rules against the rich, we would have a better society.

Outside the Tent Pissing In

As you may have heard, Steve Bannon has left the White House.

So, as the saying goes, he has gone from inside the tent pissing out to outside the tent pissing in.

The interesting thing here is whether or not Bannon actually likes Trump and sees him as a means to an end.

His behavior over the next few months should tell us that.

I expect attacks against his former White House rivals, it’s whether those attacks extend to the Donald.

Damn! I was Hoping for a Trial in Open Court

The lawsuit agaisnt the CIA’s torture psychologists has been settled, so the rest of us won’t find out what they did:

A settlement in a lawsuit against two psychologists who were paid tens of millions of dollars to design torture techniques used by the CIA in black-site prisons was announced on Thursday. The terms of the settlement were undisclosed.

Two of the plaintiffs in the case, Suleiman Abdullah Salim and Mohamed Ben Soud, were held and brutalized in 2003 in a secret CIA facility in Afghanistan that prisoners called “The Darkness”. Salim, who is Tanzanian, and Ben Soud, who is Libyan, were eventually released and are now living in their home countries with their families.

A third plaintiff is a young Afghan computer engineer whose uncle, Gul Rahman, was tortured to death in November 2002 in the same facility.

The three filed the lawsuit in October 2015 against James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, contract psychologists who devised a menu of abusive interrogation methods and billed the CIA between $75m and $81m. The plaintiffs sought damages from the men for allegedly aiding and abetting torture, non-consensual human experimentation and war crimes.

You may recall that these were the guys whose lawyers inaccurately claimed that the maker of Zyklon-B weren’t held liable for their aiding genocide.

I’m not happy.  Their misdeed should have been revealed to the world.

Honestly, they should be spending the rest of their lives in jail.

TASS: Military & Defense – Russia’s 5th-generation fighter jet named as Su-57

Roll promotional video with cheesy music

The Sukhoi fighter jet, has had its name updated from T-50 (Basically the company’s internal designation meaning the 50th delta wing model) to the official Russian military designation Su-57. (Also here)

I don’t think that this means a whole bunch in the greater scheme of things, but have a promotional video for the 5th generation fighter.

It doesn’t reflect much in the way of a change in the status of the aircraft:  It’s still a limited production prototype, and the intended final engine is years down the road, but it does make for some decent videos.

Getting into a Fight with Uber Over “Principles” Is Like Trying to Have a Reasoned Argument with a Mosh Pit Full of Rabid, Syphilitic Monkeys.

The above title is a comments from a story about how Uber screwed over a customer whose stuff was stolen by one of their drivers.

The short version is that the driver drove off with his stuff, and Uber steadfastly refused to help him contact the driver, and when sued (small claims) lied to the court.

To quote the film Aliens, nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.


Here is Woody Allen seizing the moral high ground (odd thing to say these days) in regards to Nazis in Manhattan:

Between the Ages of 7 & 13, I Lived in Charlottesville

What the Dead Kennedy’s Said

Goddamn Virginia Nazis!

Nazis, not an exaggeration, see the photo, marched in Charlottesville over the weekend carrying firearms and wearing body armor, and were greeted by counter protesters.

One of the Nazis drove his car into protestors, killing one. (He’s been caught and jailed.

There is video of the attack, but I strongly recommend avoiding it.

Trump, who has called this sort of attack terrorism repeatedly in the past, responded with a lame ass “both sides do it” statement, which was quickly followed by widespread condemnation from a chorus of critics, including the New York Times and a startlingly large number of Republicans.

Following this, and the resignation of 3 members of his council of U.S. business leaders, Trump finally issued a grudging condemnation of white supremacists:

President Trump is facing a crossroad in his presidency — a choice between adopting the better-angels tone of a traditional White House or doubling down on the slashing, go-it-alone approach that got him elected in 2016.

On Monday, he tried to walk both paths — and satisfied neither supporters nor critics.

Mr. Trump, bowing to overwhelming pressure that he personally condemn white supremacists who incited bloody weekend demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., on Monday labeled their views as racist and “evil” after two days of issuing equivocal statements.

“Racism is evil,” said Mr. Trump, delivering a statement from the White House at a hastily arranged appearance meant to halt the growing political threat posed by the unrest. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

When law enforcement needs to pursue what happened as terrorism, and the media needs to describe it as terrorism.

The fact that this term, and those laws, are never applied when white people are involved has contributed to this problem.

Right wing terrorism accounts for more than 3 x the number of attacks from Islamists in the United States, but it’s not a priority, because of their ineffable whiteness.

It is white privilege writ large.

Pass the Popcorn, Uber Edition

As I have noted earlier, Travis Kalanick was removed as CEO of Uber, and I noted that the company is having problems finding a replacement, because, among other problems,* is that Kalanick imagines himself to be Steve Jobs, and has been meticulously planning a comeback.

While Kalanick shares some characteristics with Steve Jobs, most notably they are both frequently described as sociopaths, but Jobs actually had an eye for design and a vision beyond being a professional asshole.

But Kalanick is trying for a return to the captain’s chair, and has been marshaling his forces, while the people who are concerned about parade of increasingly toxic revelations are fighting him.

The main advocate of keeping Kalanick away from management is Benchmark Capital, a private equity firm, and they just upped the stakes by filing a lawsuit against Kalanick for fraud:

Benchmark Capital sued Uber Technologies Inc.’s former chief Travis Kalanick in an effort to oust him from the board, exposing a clash between two of the ride-hailing company’s most powerful and contentious shareholders during the middle of a CEO search.

The lawsuit on Thursday alleges Mr. Kalanick defrauded directors into giving him more control over the board by hiding a range of “inappropriate and unethical directives.”

The allegations center around a decision in June 2016 by Mr. Kalanick to expand the board to 11 seats from eight, effectively giving him control over the designation of those additional seats, the firm said.  

Benchmark, which has a seat on the board, said it never would have authorized that move had it known about the company’s “gross mismanagement and other misconduct at Uber,” citing sexual-harassment allegations at the company, the handling of a rape incident involving a passenger in India and a lawsuit from Google parent Alphabet Inc. over the alleged theft of trade secrets.

In a statement, Mr. Kalanick’s spokesman said the lawsuit is without merit and “riddled with lies and false allegations.” He said Benchmark is attempting to deprive Mr. Kalanick of his rights as a founder and shareholder and silence his voice.

It’s pretty clear that Kalanick was concealing this stuff from the board, as evidenced by the alacrity with which they defenestrated him when the revelations came to light.

Another group of investors, comprised of Kalanick bros and people who value a complete lack of ethics in the executive suite, are calling for Benchmark to leave the board.

I have a feeling that Benchmark is in a win-win situation:  Either they will beat Kalanick, or they will be bought out at significant profit.

I do think that Benchmark thinks that they will prevail in their lawsuit, because they gave Kalanick a month’s notice before filing the lawsuit, which implies to me that either they have incontrovertible evidence of fraud, or that the revelations of a trial would be disastrous for Uber’s investors:

The saga between the powerhouse venture firm Benchmark and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick continues. Following last week’s lawsuit revelation, Benchmark penned a public letter to Uber employees explaining why it is taking legal action against Kalanick, who remains on Uber’s board and controls two other, empty board seats.

Today, Benchmark doubled down on its decision, writing a note addressed to Uber employees, saying that not only should it sue, but “perhaps the better question is why didn’t we act sooner.” The firm said that when the CEO search began more than 50 days ago, Kalanick agreed in writing to “modify the company’s voting agreement to ensure that the board was composed of independent, diverse, and well qualified directors.” Benchmark is alleging that Kalanick has not followed through on this agreement and that he was warned more than a month ago that he would be subject to potential litigation.

(emphasis mine)

I plan to milk this for as much entertainment value as possible.

It’s like trying not to stare at a car wreck.

*Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?