Month: April 2018

How is the Trump Cabinet Like a Song by Queen

Thomas Homan has been acting head of ICE for over a year.

For reasons that are not particularly clear, his nomination has been on hold since November, has resigned as acting head of ICE:

Thomas Homan, the Trump administration’s top immigration enforcement official, announced Monday that he plans to step down from his job, less than six months after Trump nominated him to be director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Homan was named ICE’s acting director soon after Trump took office in 2017, and the tough-talking, barrel-chested former Border Patrol agent quickly became an unapologetic enthusiast for the administration’s more aggressive enforcement approach.

Under Homan, immigration arrests surged 40 percent after agents scrapped an Obama administration policy of targeting serious or violent criminal offenders in favor of casting a wider net. Homan said those living illegally in the United States “should be afraid” that his agents could be coming for them.

The article engages in some Kremlinology to try and explain this, suggesting that he had fallen out of Trump’s favor, but I think that it is more likely that there was something in his background that would have prevented his confirmation by the Senate:

Thomas Homan, President Trump’s pick to permanently lead the nation’s immigration enforcement agency, has been in limbo since his nomination last November — and Democratic senators want to know why.

In a letter released Friday, nearly 20 Senate Democrats said they want the Department of Homeland Security to hand over documents shedding more light on Homan and his formal nomination to become the next director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The nomination of Homan, who has been leading the immigration agency in an acting capacity since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, has stalled since it was officially submitted to the Senate on Nov. 14, 2017, with no confirmation hearing nor movement in the chamber.


Democratic senators said DHS needs to give more information to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee before the nomination can proceed, but the department has yet to do so. The fact that it took Trump nearly 10 months to officially nominate an ICE director was also “striking,” Democrats wrote, “given the priority this Administration claims to place on immigration enforcement.”

“We understand that the Trump Administration may be concerned about Mr. Homan answering questions under oath about his leadership of ICE, as well as the possibility that Mr. Homan’s nomination could be defeated in the Senate,” the Democrats wrote in the letter. “However, the Senate is an independent branch of government and has a responsibility under the Constitution to provide its advice and consent on this nomination.

The fact that DHS has been unwilling to provide full documentation, and that this is juxtaposed with the spectacular flame out of Doctor Feelgood Ronny Jackson is ……… Curious ……… to say the least.

I gotta figure that there is something truly embarrassing in Homan’s background, and that senior White House staff, along with senior Republicans in the Senate, know what it is.

Some Commentaries on the White House Correspondents’s Dinner

First, read Matt Taibbi, who unloads a righteous can of whup ass on the chorus of whines from the “elite” press that must be read, and while both the New York Times and the Washington Post published articles that similarly extolled the virtues of comedy and the condemned the general uselessness of the establishment press.  (Here and here)

Basically, it’s the same pathetic self important hurt feelings that we saw after Stephen Colbert cut the White House press corps(e) a new asshole in 2006.


Michelle Wolf’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner routine. Much butthurt ensues:

And Rudd Falls on Her Sword

Amber Rudd has been in the unenviable, and nonviable, position of having to defend a racist attempt to expel legal immigrants from the Caribbean that was initiated by her predecessor, the current Prime Minister

She could not really reverse the policy, or blaming her predecessor, so she has been a political punching bag for the past few weeks.

Then, this Friday, the Guardian got its hands on a memo proving that she was enforcing arbitrary deportation quotas, something that she had categorically denied:

Amber Rudd’s insistence that she knew nothing of Home Office targets for immigration removals risks unravelling following the leak of a secret internal document prepared for her and other senior ministers.

The six-page memo, passed to the Guardian, says the department has set “a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18” and boasts that “we have exceeded our target of assisted returns”.

It adds that progress has been made on a “path towards the 10% increased performance on enforced returns, which we promised the home secretary earlier this year”.

The document was prepared by Hugh Ind, the director general of the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement agency, in June last year and copied to Rudd and Brandon Lewis, the then immigration minister, as well as several senior civil servants and special advisers.


The issue has become particularly toxic because of coverage of the Windrush generation – many of whom have been made destitute, homeless and denied benefits and healthcare because of the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy towards those it deems to be lacking appropriate documentation to be in the UK.

It appears that this latest revelation was enough to force her out:

Amber Rudd has dramatically resigned as home secretary, after repeatedly struggling to account for her role in the unjust treatment of Windrush generation migrants.

The home secretary was forced to step down after a series of revelations in the Guardian over Windrush culminated in a leak on Friday that appeared to show she was aware of targets for removing illegal migrants from Britain.

The pressure increased late on Sunday afternoon as the Guardian revealed that in a leaked 2017 letter to Theresa May, Rudd had told the prime minister of her intention to increase deportations by 10% – seemingly at odds with her recent denials that she was aware of deportation targets.

Rudd was facing a bruising appearance in the House of Commons on Monday. Downing Street sources said that in preparing for her statement, new information had become available which convinced Rudd she had inadvertently misled parliament – and she had therefore phoned the prime minister on Sunday to tender her resignation.

More significant than Rudd’s departure is the fact that she was a distraction from Theresa May’s role in creating and enforcing the “hostile environment” policies of the Home Office when she was Home Secretary.

A Donation Request from Twitter

The Democrats are suing @WikiLeaks and @JulianAssange for revealing how the DNC rigged the Democratic primaries. Help us counter-sue. We’ve never lost a publishing case and discovery is going to be amazing fun:

More options:

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 20, 2018

I am well aware that the DNC sued CREEP in the 1970s and got a settlement, but Wikileaks did not hack the DNC, the GRU did.

Wikileaks plays the role of the Washington Post, though they lack the charm of Woodward and Bernstein, in this drama.

Quote of the Day

I have no idea if Sanders would have fared better against Trump than Clinton did. But I do know that Clinton was the worst possible person to answer the angry accusations of a populist insurgency from either the protectionist right or the socialist left. She was too much a contented representative and beneficiary of the very political and economic establishments against which Trump directed his fire.

Damon Linker

Tru dat.

You Had Me at, “Bulldoze the Business School”

Martin Parker, a former professor at a business school, is suggesting that business schools should be shut down:

Visit the average university campus and it is likely that the newest and most ostentatious building will be occupied by the business school. The business school has the best building because it makes the biggest profits (or, euphemistically, “contribution” or “surplus”) – as you might expect, from a form of knowledge that teaches people how to make profits.

Business schools have huge influence, yet they are also widely regarded to be intellectually fraudulent places, fostering a culture of short-termism and greed. (There is a whole genre of jokes about what MBA – Master of Business Administration – really stands for: “Mediocre But Arrogant”, “Management by Accident”, “More Bad Advice”, “Master Bullsh%$ Artist” and so on.) Critics of business schools come in many shapes and sizes: employers complain that graduates lack practical skills, conservative voices scorn the arriviste MBA, Europeans moan about Americanisation, radicals wail about the concentration of power in the hands of the running dogs of capital. Since 2008, many commentators have also suggested that business schools were complicit in producing the crash.

Having taught in business schools for 20 years, I have come to believe that the best solution to these problems is to shut down business schools altogether. This is not a typical view among my colleagues. Even so, it is remarkable just how much criticism of business schools over the past decade has come from inside the schools themselves. Many business school professors, particularly in north America, have argued that their institutions have gone horribly astray. B-schools have been corrupted, they say, by deans following the money, teachers giving the punters what they want, researchers pumping out paint-by-numbers papers for journals that no one reads and students expecting a qualification in return for their cash (or, more likely, their parents’ cash). At the end of it all, most business-school graduates won’t become high-level managers anyway, just precarious cubicle drones in anonymous office blocks.

These are not complaints from professors of sociology, state policymakers or even outraged anti-capitalist activists. These are views in books written by insiders, by employees of business schools who themselves feel some sense of disquiet or even disgust at what they are getting up to. Of course, these dissenting views are still those of a minority. Most work within business schools is blithely unconcerned with any expression of doubt, participants being too busy oiling the wheels to worry about where the engine is going. Still, this internal criticism is loud and significant.

I would highly suggest that you click through and read the rest of the article.

Faster, Better, Cheaper

An uptick in exports has led Saab to increase spending on its Gripen E program:

Strengthening interest in the Gripen E has prompted Saab to accelerate its investment in the programme, with the step to include the introduction of enhancements intended to heighten the product’s attractiveness to prospective buyers.

“Due to the strong interest in Gripen E/F, Saab has now accelerated the pace of investment to develop the system for future exports,” the company disclosed in a quarterly results announcement on 26 April.

Chief executive Håkan Buskhe describes the measure as relating to “industrialisation, and also some key development on features for the export market”. While he declines to identify specific updates, he notes: “There are things that will enhance the product that we have seen during the development time for the Gripen E.” This process began for launch customer the Swedish air force in 2013.

Buskhe says Saab received fresh interest in the new-generation fighter from several undisclosed nations during the first three months of this year. The company cites a long list of prospective customers for the type, including Austria, Bulgaria, India and Slovakia.

Saab will deliver its first production examples of the Gripen E to Sweden and export buyer Brazil next year and the nations will receive a combined total of 96 examples up to 2026. Buskhe says the level of interest being shown in the product is consistent with previous forecasts of a total production run of at least 400 units.

The Gripenis less than half the size, and less than half the direct operating costs, of its competitors, while being (at least) nearly as capable in terms of everything but payload and range.

It’s been on budget, and on schedule, and (unlike the F-35) nations have the information to incorporate their own weapons into the aircraft.

It’s not surprising that it’s doing well:  It’s in a very similar position to that of the Mirage III in the 1960s.

Bill Cosby Found Guilty of Sexual Assault in Retrial – The New York Times

Time's up! #BelieveWomen #Ihaventforgottenaboutyou

— Larry Wilmore (@larrywilmore) April 27, 2018

Larry Wilmore on the Conviction

Bill Cosby has been convicted of sexual assault.

I really don’t know what to say, except that I think that the trial, and the conviction, were long overdue, his accusers have been treated abysmally, and their accusations only began to be taken seriously when a man, stand up comic Hannibal Buress, started talking about what he had been doing. (Major props to Buress though for talking about it.)

I’m hoping that Larry Wilmor addresses this in an upcoming podcast.

I’ll definitely listen.

Corrupt Son of a Bitch

Mick Mulvaney, head of the OMB and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, just admitted that he requires a payment from some people to talk to them in an official capacity.

Why hasn’t he been frog marched out of his office in handcuffs?

Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told banking industry executives on Tuesday that they should press lawmakers hard to pursue their agenda, and revealed that, as a congressman, he would meet with lobbyists only if they had contributed to his campaign.

“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress,” Mr. Mulvaney, a former Republican lawmaker from South Carolina, told 1,300 bankers and lending industry officials at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington. “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”


Mr. Mulvaney, who also runs the White House budget office, is a longtime critic of the Obama-era consumer bureau, including while serving in Congress. He was tapped by President Trump in November to temporarily run the bureau, in part because of his promise to sharply curtail it.


Asked about the comments, John Czwartacki, a spokesman for Mr. Mulvaney, said: “He was making the point that hearing from people back home is vital to our democratic process and the most important thing our representatives can do. It’s more important than lobbyists and it’s more important than money.”

No, he was describing how he extorted donations from lobbyists.

Seriously, even by the standards of the Trump administration, this is brazenly corrupt.

England Doesn’t Need the City of London Either

The EU’s chief negotiator has stated that the EU does not need the City of London, and has no plans to create a special relationship with the UK financial sector. (FYI, the City of London is a 1 square mile area which is the heart of the British financial industry, the City of Londonis to London as Wal Street is to New York City)
No one needs the City of London except for a a small number of overpaid prats in Savile Row suits.

Finance is has become increasingly parasitic as it has grown to subsume larger portions of the UK (and US) economy, and the City of London is even worse than Wall Street, because while they both spend much of their effort on speculative activities of little or no benefit, the City of London’s special products are money laundering and tax evasion, which benefits no one:

The EU does not need the City of London, and Theresa May’s “pleading” for a special deal for the UK’s financial services sector will not be rewarded, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said.

In his toughest rebuff yet to the demands made by the British prime ministerin her landmark Mansion House speech, Barnier suggested the City would be granted nothing more generous than that enjoyed by Wall Street.

“Some argue that the EU desperately needs the City of London, and that access to financing for EU27 business would be hampered – and economic growth undermined – without giving UK operators the same market access as today,” Barnier said at a meeting of finance ministers in Sofia, Bulgaria. “This is not what we hear from market participants, and it is not the analysis that we have made ourselves.”

I am not surprised at Barnier’s comments.

The EU has plenty of expertise in tax evasion, it constitutes almost the entire economy of Luxembourg, and money laundering ain’t rocket science.

The Brexit could be an opportunity for the British to turn their economy toward more productive and more honest endeavors, with the added benefit of reducing inequality, but the Tories hate that idea, and they are in charge, for a while, at least.

Not Learning the Lessons of Cuba

What a surprise, our policy of sanctions against Russia does not hurt Putin’s political standing among Russian citizens.

If anything, it improves his political positions, because hardships can be blamed on an aggressively overbearing United States.

Seriously, this sh%$ kept the Castros in power for 60 years (and counting) in Russia, why should we expect anything different this time?


8 Ways to Piss off Your Cat: (Not recommended unless you like finding crap in your stereo headphones)

Hypocrisy, Arrogance, and Bigotry Are Not a Good Combination

Last year, I noted that MSNBC media personality Joy Reid had been caught throwing around bigoted homophobic comments on her now defunct blog, particularly as pertains to Florida politician Charlie Crist.

She made a perfunctory apology, and it faded into the background, until this week.

New homophobic posts were uncovered on the internet archive the Wayback Machine, and now Joy Reid is claiming that these were the result of hackers.

The wayback isn’t the only archive service.
There’s more out there…just waiting to be found.

The internet is forever.

— Queef Whisperer🕵️ (@queefagain) April 25, 2018

She has variously claimed that hackers accessed her blog after the fact and changed the posts, or that the Wayback Machine has been hacked, an allegation which the good folks there politely called bullsh%$, as did an analysis by The Daily Beast.

Unfortunately, as this colorfully named Twitter user observes, her blog posts have been archived by a number of archiving services over a rather long period:

According to the Library of Congress, Reid’s blog was archived on their local server on January 12, 2006–two days after the blog post in question was authored. Reid has so far decided against contacting the Library of Congress regarding the hacking allegations.

Oh Snap.

Also, see this Twitter thread, it gives a good survey of what was posted.

Also, the LBGT group PFLAG just rescinded an award that they intended to present to Reid, and she has had to cancel an appearance at an event with former New York US Attorney Preet Bharara.

My guess is that Reid is being honest when she says that she does not recall making those posts, but I put that down to her memory, and not hackers going after her 10 years ago.

Headline of the Day

Amber Rudd stumbles toward total ineptitude over Windrush

The Guardian

Amber Rudd is in a no win situation, of course.

This cock-up was created by her predecessor at Home Secretary, probably deliberately, but seeing as how the prior Home Secretary is one Theresa May, now Prime Minister, and as such is Rudd’s boss, (for a while, at least), she is precluded from pointing at the person who created the problem in the first place.

Hopefully, this takes both Rudd and May down.

A Star Mangled Spanner

It appears that Scientists have managed to adapt 3D metal printing to zero gravity, and have produced a small wrench.

This is actually tougher than it sounds, since the powdered metals used can be explosive in the right (wrong?) proportions, and there is no gravity to hold them down.

This did not actually go into space, they produced the parts on a “vomit comet” flying a parabolic course.

Credit where credit is due, the pun comes from Arthur C. Clarke.

And He’s Gone

Ronny Jackson withdraws as from his nomination to head the Veterans Administration:

Ronny L. Jackson, President Trump’s embattled nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, withdrew from consideration Thursday amid mushrooming allegations of professional misconduct that raised questions about the White House vetting process.

“The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated,” Jackson, the White House physician, said in a defiant statement. “If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years.”

Jackson’s nomination had become imperiled even before Capitol Hill Democrats on Wednesday released new allegations of misconduct. The claims include that he had wrecked a government vehicle after getting drunk at a Secret Service going-away party.

The allegations were contained in a two-page document described by the Democratic staff of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee as a summary of interviews with 23 of Jackson’s current and former colleagues. The document also described Jackson’s “pattern” of handing out medication with no patient history, writing himself prescriptions and contributing to a hostile work environment where there was “a constant fear of reprisal.”

I have a feeling that Dr. Feelgood’s promotion to 2 star admiral might be delayed as well.

Journalism Fail

If you read stories about student loans in new sources like, “The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and CNBC,” you have probably seen quotes from student loan expert “Drew Crowd”.

The kicker is that Drew Cloud does not exist. He is a fraud promulgated by the student loan firm Lend EDU:

Drew Cloud is everywhere. The self-described journalist who specializes in student-loan debt has been quoted in major news outlets, including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and CNBC, and is a fixture in the smaller, specialized blogosphere of student debt.

He’s always got the new data, featuring irresistible twists:

One in five students use extra money from their student loans to buy digital currencies.

Nearly 8 percent of students would move to North Korea to free themselves of their debt.

Twenty-seven percent would contract the Zika virus to live debt-free.

All of those surveys came from Cloud’s website, The Student Loan Report.

Drew Cloud’s story was simple: He founded the website, an “independent, authoritative news outlet” covering all things student loans, “after he had difficulty finding the most recent student loan news and information all in one place.”

He became ubiquitous on that topic. But he’s a fiction, the invention of a student-loan refinancing company.

After The Chronicle spent more than a week trying to verify Cloud’s existence, the company that owns The Student Loan Report confirmed that Cloud was fake. “Drew Cloud is a pseudonym that a diverse group of authors at Student Loan Report, LLC use to share experiences and information related to the challenges college students face with funding their education,” wrote Nate Matherson, CEO of LendEDU.

Before that admission, however, Cloud had corresponded at length with many journalists, pitching them stories and offering email interviews, many of which were published. When The Chronicle attempted to contact him through the address last week, Cloud said he was traveling and had limited access to his account. He didn’t respond to additional inquiries.

And on Monday, as The Chronicle continued to seek comment, Cloud suddenly evaporated. His once-prominent placement on The Student Loan Report had been removed. His bylines were replaced with “SLR Editor.” Matherson confirmed on Tuesday that Cloud was an invention.

One hopes that editors at the publications that were taken in by the fraud are busy cutting their reporters new assholes over this one.