Month: March 2018

The Process Is Simple, Choose a Rich and Stupid Candidate, Get Him to Make Huge Media Buys, and Profit

I think that I have divined a method to the madness at the DCCC and the DNC.

They push candidates that have nothing to recommend them but money (see Cisneros, Gil) then they boost these candidates, who, having no clue, run poor campaigns where they overspend on expensive media on the advice of consultants, and those consultants get a percentage of the media buy, and walk away with their pockets full, win or lose.

It is the Upton Sinclair quote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it,” made manifest.

This explains the latest shenanigans in Minnesota. It’s looting by the political consultant class:

Jeff Erdmann of Eagan is a football coach at Rosemount High School who wants to add a term in Congress to his resume.

He hopes to run against first term Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis in Minnesota’s 2nd District.

But Erdmann said he faces an obstacle in gaining the DFL Party endorsement in the form of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


DCCC officials made it clear money drove their choice to back Craig, he added.

“We didn’t talk anything about my background, my success as a teacher, as a coach any of the values that I hold. All they wanted to talk about was where we thought we could get money-wise.”


In Minnesota’s 3rd District in the western suburbs, another wealthy Democrat, Dean Phillips, also won early DCCC backing.

Democrat Adam Jennings is also in the race and hoping for the chance to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen. Jennings said the DCCC wouldn’t even speak with him.

“There is kind of an establishment big-money component to all of this, and the more I think about it the more motivated I get to run.”

The folks at the DNC and the DCCC hang out with the political consultants, they break bread with them, and in many cases, they marry them, and in a few years, the do a tour as political consultants themselves, and get rich giving bad advice to candidates.

They are deciding this on the basis of what butters their bread best, and not winning elections or getting good people into office.

They are parasites, and you cannot negotiate with a parasite, you can only remove it.

Yeah, This Amuses the Hell out of Me Too

It appears that Donald Trump is having a devil of a time finding counsel willing to represent him,

My guess is because as is clear to even my legal mind, Donald Trump is the client from hell:

Two more high-power attorneys have had to turn down President Donald Trump. Tom Buchanan and Dan Webb confirmed to The Daily Beast that Trump reached out to them about representing him, and that they couldn’t do it.

“President Trump reached out to Dan Webb and Tom Buchanan to provide legal representation,” they said in a statement. “They were unable to take on the representation due to business conflicts. However they consider the opportunity to represent the President to be the highest honor and they sincerely regret that they cannot do so. They wish the president the best and believe he has excellent representation in Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow.”


Buchanan and Webb’s decision highlights the challenges the president has faced in assembling a legal team to represent him for matters related to the Mueller probe. Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that numerous lawyers were eager to work for him. But so far, his team has been shrinking rather than expanding.

There are good clients, and bad clients, and awful clients, and then there is Donald Trump, and lawyers simply do not want to deal with his crap.


Sauce for the Gander, I Guess

At Least, There is Symmetry

It turns out that we may have another dress figuring in a Presidential sex scandal:

I honestly thought Stormy Daniels’ friend Alana Evans was just trolling CNN with this, but maybe there’s something to it.

During a much longer interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto, Stormy’s friend Alana Evans told him she was unaware of any texts, pictures or video but there was one thing. One little thing.

“All I know is that Stormy still has the dress that she wore rom that night,” Evans told Sciutto.

Nonplussed, he asked, “And she kept that for what reason?”

As if everyone’s mind didn’t go to Monica Lewinsky’s little blue dress. Please.

Of course, the Republicans are not going to do anything if this whole mess pans out, even if Trump were to, “Put half a dozen children on a spit and toast them at the flame that comes out of his mouth,” as playwright Christopher Fry so colo(u)rfully put it many years ago, the Republican base would continue to support him.

Still, watching him squirm on a matter which won’t have the effect of f%$#ing up the world for the next few decades amuses me.


A miscarriage of justice in the UK. It was a joke, not hate speech:

Some Skunkworks History Revealed

Lockheed’s Skunk Works has finally revealed some of its earliest efforts on stealthy drones:

In 2001, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works secretly flew a flying wing unmanned air vehicle (UAV) with a roughly 9m (30ft) wingspan with modular wings and a bulbous fuselage as a technology demonstrator for a family of aircraft.

As the company prepares to celebrate the Skunk Works’ 75th anniversary in June, Lockheed decided to reveal the existence of the formerly secret project at the Los Angeles County air show on 24 March in Lancaster, California, which lies few miles north on Highway 14 from the unit’s headquarters in Palmdale.

Lockheed’s “X-44A” greeted visitors at the entrance of the five-year-old local event near Edwards AFB, a storied flight test centre for the US Air Force and NASA.

Although the project’s existence is no longer a secret, Lockheed is not yet prepared to offer many details beyond the year of its first flight and its role as a demonstrator for a family of UAVs.

If anyone is going to the air show, see if you can get a Q&A session with a Lockheed rep.

Please Go Away Now

Hillary Clinton, again, and this time, she has managed to piss off the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which spent 2015 and 2016 with its thumb on the scales for her by raising money for her new PAC on the same day as the DNC is doing a fundraising event. (Yes, I know, NY Post, but still………)

I really hope that this is just another attempt to raise money for the various parasites that constitute the Clinton inner circle, because the other alternative, that she is seriously considering running for President again in 2020, is simply too horrible to contemplate:

Just as Democratic donors thought they’d finally put away wallets for Hillary Clinton, she’s coming back to NYC for a fundraiser for her nonprofit — while also creating a party stink by throwing the bash at the exact same time as an event for DNC chairman Tom Perez.

Clinton will be in town on April 30 for her “Onward Together” organization, to support young political leaders.

With great fanfare, Clinton announced in an email to her 2016 supporters that she is launching the Onward Together Leadership Council and that they could become charter members — in return for coughing up at least $10,000.

Seriously, the level of delusion self absorption is stunning, and it is tremendously destructive to both the party and our political discourse.

“Spring” in Maryland

1PM: Snow Squall

2 hours later: Sunny and 60 degrees

2 hours after that: Sleeting

It’s March 25.

It’s officially been Spring for days.

It started snowing a little bit after noon.

By 1 pm we had a full snow squall.

And then, it was followed by warmer temperatures and clear skies, which was in turn followed by a frozen mix.

Enough already!!!!!

Holland Gets It

Dutch voters have narrowly rejected a law that would give spy agencies the power to carry out mass tapping of Internet traffic delivering a setback to Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government.

Dubbed the “trawling law” by opponents, the legislation would allow spy agencies to install wire taps targeting an entire geographic region or avenue of communication, store information for up to three years, and share it with allied spy agencies.

With 89 percent of the vote from a referendum counted on Thursday morning, the “no” vote was 48.8 percent, against 47.3 percent “yes.”

The tapping law has already been approved by both houses of parliament. Rutte’s government had backed a “yes” vote, saying the law was needed to make the country safer, and though the referendum was non-binding Rutte has vowed to take the result seriously

It’s the right thing, and I cannot imagine American voters doing the same thing.

Of course, Rutte is under no obligation to do anything about this, so I expect some cosmetic breast beating, and perhaps the creation of a do-nothing commission to study the program, which will allow Holland to spy on its citizens.

I’ve Heard This Story Before

Luxury homes in Manhattan are selling at the biggest discounts on record as owners grow tired of waiting for buyers to match their price.

Homes priced at $4 million or more that went into contract in the first 12 weeks of the year had their asking prices cut by an average of 10 percent, the most in data going back to 2012, according to Olshan Realty Inc. Final sale prices, which won’t be known until the deals close, will probably reflect even greater reductions, said Donna Olshan, president of the brokerage that compiled the report.

“Most things at $4 million and above are selling 15 to 20 percent below the original ask,” Olshan said. “It’s a data point that screams: The market is overpriced!”

Owners who prevail in selling their homes are conceding that Manhattan’s luxury market is brimming with choices, and that even well-heeled buyers are sensitive to price. Shoppers with cash are no longer bidding up properties to record levels, and sellers who recognize the new reality are the likeliest to succeed, Olshan said.

If things are bad now, what happens when there is crack-down on money laundering?

Also, what happens when banks start getting burnt by this?

Two words, “Lehman Brothers, 2008.”

OK, that’s two words and one number.

Would You Like to Play Global Thermonuclear War?

The Trump administration has announced that John Bolton will be the next chairman of the National Security Council, replacing H.R. McMaster.

Even among the Neocons, John Bolton is known as a foaming at the mouth war monger, and I would expect him to aggressively lobby for military strikes against the DPRK and Iran.

This will not end well:

President Trump named John R. Bolton, a hard-line former American ambassador to the United Nations, as his third national security adviser on Thursday, continuing a shake-up that creates one of the most hawkish national security teams of any White House in recent history.

Mr. Bolton will replace Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the battle-tested Army officer who was tapped last year to stabilize a turbulent foreign policy operation but who never developed a comfortable relationship with the president.

The move, which was sudden but not unexpected, signals a more confrontational approach in American foreign policy at a time when Mr. Trump faces mounting challenges, including from Iran and North Korea.


Mr. Bolton, an outspoken advocate of military action who served in the George W. Bush administration, has called for action against Iran and North Korea. In an interview on Thursday on Fox News, soon after his appointment was announced in a presidential tweet, he declined to say whether Mr. Trump should go through with a planned meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

We are all gonna die.

Live in Obedient Fear, Union Brothers

Scotland Yard has admitted Special Branch officers passed information to a controversial network that blacklisted construction workers.

It follows a six-year battle to find out if the Metropolitan Police supplied the intelligence on trade unionists.

The force says its investigation had “proven” the allegation, which will be investigated by a public inquiry.

Workers who say they were unfairly barred from jobs have already received millions of pounds in compensation.

In 2016, the union Unite reached a settlement with construction firms that resulted in 256 workers sharing more than £10m in compensation.

At the heart of the claims, which were made by hundreds of workers, was evidence that firms accessed a “blacklist” that logged workers’ trade union activities.

The list was used by dozens of construction firms to vet those applying for work on building sites.

When the files were found to contain details of individual’s political activities, the workers demanded that Scotland Yard disclose whether undercover police had colluded in supplying intelligence.


In a letter to the workers’ lawyers, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin said the findings of the Metropolitan Police’s internal investigation, completed two years ago, were so sensitive that they were sent directly to the then commissioner.

The letter states: “Allegation: Police, including Special Branches, supplied information that appeared on the Blacklist, funded by the country’s major construction firms.

“The report concludes that, on the balance of probabilities, the allegation that the police or Special Branches supplied information is ‘proven’.

This scheme did not spring full grown from the forehead of  the Yard.

Politically connected builders leaned on elected officials, who in turn leaned on law enforcement.

Hopefully, this will be investigated more deeply.


Belgium is planning to acquire a replacement for its F-16 fleet, and the leader in this contest is the F-35 mistake jet.

It now turns out that the government concealed options from the lawmakers to get the procurement approved:

Belgium’s future fighter program has been thrown into turmoil after it emerged that cheaper options to extend the life of the country’s F-16 Fighting Falcons had been deliberately hidden from ministers.

The scandal, which has already resulted in the suspension of several military officers and civil servants, came to light after the leaking of a Lockheed Martin assessment dated April 2016 to several Belgian news outlets on March 20. The documents suggested the country’s F-16s could be upgraded and given another six years of operational life, making a new fighter purchase less urgent than government officials had previously contended.

Defense Minister Steven Vandeput told the country’s Parliament that he had not been made aware of the report about the potential life extension option.

“If this report actually exists, if its content is accurate, and if the defense [ministry] has decided not to share it, there is a problem,” Vandeput told a Belgian radio station.

Yes, it is a problem.

Welcome to the military-industrial complex, Belgium.

This is an Excellent Idea

In New York, there are proposals to prevent employers from requiring workers to stay connected to the job when they are off of work:

New Yorkers are used to having their happy hours interrupted with emails or calls from the boss.

But a new proposal being floated in the City Council could give them the right to hit ignore.

A measure protecting private-sector employees from penalties for ignoring after-hours or weekend work communications is gaining steam among New York Democrats, while drawing concern from business groups.

Councilman Rafael Espinal (D., Brooklyn) introduced the bill in the New York City Council on Thursday, and state Sen. Diane Savino (D., Staten Island) is working on her own version to introduce in the state legislature.

“It’s important for workers to be able to draw a line between their work lives and personal lives,” said Mr. Espinal.

Mr. Espinal’s legislation is modeled after the “Right to Disconnect” law that passed in France last year. His legislation would make it illegal for an employer with more than 10 workers to require employees to access their work-related communications outside of normal work hours. It would prohibit employers from taking action against employees for not responding. It doesn’t apply to government workers.

Proponents says such a law would help labor regulations adapt to the smartphone era, when people’s leisure and office hours are often blurred.

I would also suggest requiring that people who are on call be paid for on call time.

Basically, all of this is employers taking from employees in order to cover for their own lack of organization skills.

Applying Software Ethos to the Real Word

I am referring, of course to Elon Musk and Tesla Motors.

The author draws analogies to the bad old days of the US auto industry, where shipping was more important than shipping it right:

The idea that Silicon Valley could reinvent the auto sector the way Apple reinvented mobile phones is an appealing one, and by some metrics Tesla has done just that. The Silicon Valley automaker’s distinctive product features — blistering performance, long-range batteries and slick touchscreen interfaces –have beguiled legions of fans and investors, giving the impression that the future of the auto industry had suddenly arrived.

But recent reports call that glowing future into question. After 15 years, it’s increasingly clear that Tesla has nothing to offer in the area that, as the tech analyst Horace Dediu puts it, is where “almost all meaningful innovation occurs”: the production system.

Throughout its history, Tesla has been plagued by poor manufacturing quality and missed production deadlines. And now, CNBC’s Lora Kolodny has the scoop on Tesla operations tasked with “reworking” and “remanufacturing” poor quality cars and parts, illustrating a deeper problem than the poor quality itself. By reworking vehicles after they come off the line at its Fremont, California, assembly plant at a dedicated remanufacturing facility in nearby Lathrop — and even reportedly in its service centers — Tesla is taking automotive manufacturing back to dark ages.

Once upon a time, this was the standard practice for Detroit’s automakers. Driven by logic derived from Henry Ford’s manufacturing system, U.S. automakers kept production cranking in order to maximize efficiencies of scale, and then repaired defective cars after they rolled off the line. Though many factors contributed to the decline of the Big Three in the 1970s and 80s, the inefficiency and apathy entrenched in company culture by this approach to quality was one of the most important.

In contrast, Toyota’s cars may not have had the dramatic, chrome-draped designs or V8 performance of American competitors, but the legendary Toyota Production System (also known as TPS, or “lean”) did away with rework, and its dependable, high-quality cars eviscerated Detroit’s market share. By systematically eliminating all forms of waste — “muda” — from its manufacturing, Toyota found that both capital efficiency and quality benefited enormously from building cars right the first time.


Tesla seems either uninterested in or oblivious to the historical lesson here. On last quarter’s earnings call, chief executive Elon Musk told analysts that Tesla doesn’t see TPS as a model for his company, even as he reiterated his goal of “productizing” Tesla’s factories.

Manufacturers have learned that it’s better to get it right the first time over the past few decades, computer programmers, not so much.

Hence we see the bloated software that is as full of bugs as it is full of new features that no one really needs.

Rinse, lather, and repeat, and we have Elon Musk’s Tesla.

A Cool Idea That Isn’t Going Anywhere

Saab is once again is considering marinizing the Gripen fighter for carrier use.

Technically, the airframe is already well suited to carrier use, but who is going to buy it?

The only countries that operate, or will operate, carriers with arrester gear are the US, France, China, Russia, Brazil, and India.

That’s a small market, since only Brazil and India won’t buy their own aircraft, and that is a very small production:

Based on the in-development Gripen E, the model would be capable of operating from aircraft carriers configured either for short-take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) or catapult-assisted take-off but with arrested recovery (CATOBAR) operations.

“We have a fully certified design that has been signed off by Saab management for the maritime version of Gripen,” says Tony Ogilvy, head of marketing for the Gripen M. “It’s in our portfolio, but it is only a design. We have not taken it to the next critical step, which will require a customer.”

Ogilvy’s background is carrier aviation. During a three-decade career in the UK Royal Navy he flew Blackburn Buccaneers for 12 years and British Aerospace Sea Harriers for six, including from several of the service’s carriers. He contends that Saab’s model-based systems engineering approach offers a “very high level of fidelity” that should, if a Gripen M customer is obtained, result in a concept demonstrator that works well first time.


Given that Sweden has no plans for aircraft carriers, the two potential markets for the Gripen M are Brazil and India.

The Brazilian air force has ordered 28 single-seat Gripen Es and eight two-seat F-model examples, being developed with Embraer. Its new fighters will be delivered between 2019 and 2024, including eight single-seaters and seven twin-seaters built in Brazil.

The nation’s navy is also interested in replacing its retired aircraft carrier, the Sao Paolo, although this requirement has yet to be fully defined. Should Brazil’s plans for such a new vessel gain traction, it could provide an opportunity for the Gripen M.

In India, Saab, Boeing and Dassault have responded to a request for information for 57 carrier-based fighters. India has one STOBAR-configured ship, equipped with RAC MiG-29Ks, and has plans for an additional example. Longer term, it has plans for a more potent CATOBAR carrier, potentially using General Atomics’ electromagnetic aircraft launch system, as opposed to conventional steam catapults.

There is a whole flock of ducks that need get in a row before Saab can even think about putting in a serious bid.

Not gonna happen.

Cool idea though.

Quote of the Day

Saying that Russia has undermined American democracy is like me – middle-aged, five foot nine, and unblessed with jumping ability – saying that the Brooklyn Nets Russian-born center Timofy Mozgov undermined my potential career in the National Basketball Association.

Paul Street on Counterpunch.

If we are really worried about our democratic process being compromised, we need to look at the corporate media, the entrenched elites, the feckless punditry, and the political consultant class first.

They’ve done a way better job at compromising democracy than Vladimir Putin.

Hell, they may very well have done a better job at compromising democracy than Benito Mussolini.