Month: September 2018

About F%$#ing Time

The latest FAA authorization bill gives the agency the right to regulate seat spacing:

The recently announced multi-year deal to reauthorize the FAA contains many gifts for industry, from new rules restricting the misuse of service and support animals to policies that advance the safe integration of commercial drones. But a provision tucked in the bill that would clear the way for the FAA to regulate minimum seat sizes has some industry watchers concerned that Congress may be overstepping its bounds.

Section 577 of H.R. 302—the legislative package containing the FAA reauthorization bill—would give the agency one year to issue regulations that establish minimum seat dimensions for all commercial aircraft operating in the U.S. These would include minimums for seat pitch, width and length.


The proposed regulations—if approved—would likely be felt most acutely by the ultra-low-cost carriers (ULCC), which have high-density seating to maintain their low unit costs. 

This does not mean that the FAA will act, and they have seemed disinclined to do so, but I think that political pressure will eventually lead to meaningful action.

That;s the First One

An F-35 has crashed in South Carolina its pilot ejected safely:

An F-35 fighter jet crashed in South Carolina, the US Marine Corps said, in the first such incident to affect the most expensive defence programme in the world.

A statement said the crash occurred in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina, at approximately 11.40am on Friday.

“The US Marine pilot ejected safely,” the statement said, adding that there were no civilian injuries and both the health of the pilot and the cause of the crash were being evaluated.

If it’s the Marines, then it is the “B” model.

I’m wondering if this is just the normal course of things, or if it is another glitch in the program.

Wrist Slap

Elon Musk has to resign as chairman of the board and he, and Tesla, have to pay a small fine, which looks like meaningful enforcement, but has little real consequence: He still runs the company, he is still the largest share holder, so it is a distinction without a difference:

Elon Musk is to step down as chair of Tesla for three years and pay a fine after reaching a deal with the US financial regulator over tweets he made about taking the firm into private ownership.

Under the settlement Musk would remain as chief executive but must leave his other post within 45 days. Both he and the company will each pay a $20m (£15.3m) fine.

The entrepreneur has overseen two tumultuous months for the car company that battered Tesla’s share price and Musk’s reputation. Last Friday Tesla’s share price was down close to 14% as investors lost confidence.

 Weak tea.

Headline of the Day

Of Course Ted Cruz Should Be Publicly Ostracized

Ian Welsh

This is in response to the hand wringing by Washington’s “Very Serious People” over protesters confronting Cruz in a restaurant.

Mr. Welsh has a very good rejoinder:

If you could have only one rule for creating a good society it would be the following:

Elites must experience the consequences of their behavior.

Making Ted Cruz’s dining experiences uncomfortable is clearly an inadequate response.

When there is no accountability by the decisions made by the elites, their decisions are self interested and destructive.

Back Loaded Bribery

Following years of fronting for the natural gas industry, Vicki Fuller, the former chief investment officer of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, secured a lucrative do-nothing sinecure from the Williams Companies, a major player in the energy market:

New York State’s former top pension investment officer was appointed to the board of a natural gas conglomerate after the pension system bought up the company’s bonds, rejected demands to divest from fossil fuels and supported multimillion-dollar pay packages for the company’s executives after the firm’s stock price had dropped.

Vicki Fuller was appointed as a director of The Williams Companies on July 31st — the same week she left her position as the chief investment officer of the New York State Common Retirement Fund.

The CIO job — appointed by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli — is considered one of the world’s most powerful financial positions, directing $207 billion of investments for a system responsible for safeguarding the retirement savings of more than a million current and former state employees and their beneficiaries. Fuller will be granted $275,000 worth of salary and company stock every year for the part-time position serving on Williams’ board.

The move comes during an increasingly bitter policy debate between the comptroller’s office and environmental groups over whether the pension fund should divest itself from fossil fuel companies that contribute to climate change. In correspondence with DiNapoli over the last two months, major environmental groups have asked whether Fuller’s new position is a reward for her and DiNapoli’s ongoing opposition to selling off the fund’s fossil fuel holdings.


“Ms. Fuller’s appointment calls into question the integrity of the management of the New York State Common Retirement Funds by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli,” wrote 30 groups to state ethics officials. “It is outrageous to us that a person can one day be CIO of the New York state pension funds and the next day take a well-compensated appointment as a board member of the corporation into which she oversaw — or even directed — large investments while helping to shield the company from an adverse divestment decision by the funds.”


The decision to launch an investigation will be up to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which is largely comprised of commissioners appointed by a governor who himself has ties to Williams. WNYC previously reported that a Cuomo-led political group raked in $100,000 from Williams earlier this year, and Cuomo’s own re-election campaign this year is run by a registered lobbyist for Williams who is on leave from her firm. At the same time, Williams is asking the Cuomo administration to approve a controversial pipeline that environmentalists say threatens the state’s waterways.

What is shocking about corruption in the United States is not the law-breaking, it is what is technically legal.

Breaking My Embargo of Job Talk

Generally, my rule of thumb is not do discuss my job. To do otherwise is an invitation for termination

But this one is too good.

I was talking to James, our welder, and he complained that frequently when we are half way through the project, the goals change.

I replied with the following:

Sad life.

Probably sad death.

At least there is symmetry.

Made my fucking day, it did.

Monsanto is Killing Us All, Cuba Edition

It turns out that Cuba is having no problems with colony collapse disorder and related bee issues.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that sanctions have kept Monsanto and its ilk out of the island nation:

Alberto Quesada loads a flatbed lorry in a field in the middle of the night for a two-hour drive to the dense mangrove swamps on the Gulf of Batabanó. “It’s important that they wake up in their new habitat,” he says of his cargo of bees. In the summer his 30,000 hive-dwellers feast on coastal flowers; in the autumn they forage on milkweed and morning glories further north. Around October it is off to the mountains, as Cuba’s trees reach their prime, before he brings the bees back to his farm about an hour’s drive from Havana. There, they have their pick of palm, mango and avocado trees, fresh vegetables—an uncommon luxury in Cuba—and a garden teeming with sunflowers, lilies and bougainvilleas. The diets of these well-travelled insects are more diverse than that of most Cubans.

It is good to be a bee in Cuba. Beekeepers elsewhere lose around 20% of their colony in the winter. Climate change, parasites, the intensification of pesticide use, urbanisation and an obsession with tidiness are causing colonies to collapse. “We mow our lawns and trim our hedges so much that there are now fewer places even for wild bees to nest,” says Norman Carreck of the British-based International Bee Research Association.

Communism has done Cuba few favours but it has proved a boon for its bees. Impoverished farmers cannot afford pesticides. A lack of modern equipment and little economic incentive to farm mean much of the island’s vegetation is wild in a way that keeps bees well nourished and produces high-quality honey.

While honey production in most countries has taken a hit along with hives, Cuba’s healthy bees have been busy. The population is growing by an average of 7,000 hives a year, each yielding around 52kg of honey in 2017, double the average from American hives. Although nine-tenths of total production, around 10,000 tonnes last year, is managed by private farmers like Mr Quesada, they are obliged to sell it to the government at a little over $600 a tonne. It is then exported, mostly to Europe, where it fetches $4,600 a tonne for ordinary honey and $14,000 for the 16% that counts as organic. Were a costly certification process not required, much more could fetch such a premium.

The modern way of farming looks set to destroy itself.

As Napoleon Said, “Never Stop Your Enemy from Stepping on His Own Dick.”*

I am referring, of course, to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, which had Christine Blasey Ford (literally) schooling Senators on the neurology of human memory, Brett Kavanaugh raging in all of his entitled white frat boy glory, (he literally threatened Democratic Senators) and Lindsey Graham completely lost his sh%$ had a hysterical hissy fit for the ages.

Most tellingly, Ford, unlike Kavanaugh, specifically and explicitly stated that there should be an FBI investigation of the allegations, while Kavanaugh evaded the question.

Only one of them sounded like they had something to hide.

Disclosure: I did not watch the hearings, I checked out some live blogs and clips.

It was a complete sh%$ show for the Republicans.

*That is my translation from the original French of, “N’interrompez jamais un ennemi qui est en train de faire une erreur.”


The trailer for the new Doctor. I am SO stoked:

Tweet of the Day

Yes, let's get back to those halcyon days of "normal news," like the Iraq War, Katrina, the financial crisis, bailouts, no prosecutions of Wall St, the BP spill, Hurricane Sandy, widening inequality & Dems losing every level of government while MSNBC pundits made millions…

— David Sirota (@davidsirota) September 26, 2018

Yeah, self involved myopia does seem to be the rule for the mainstream media.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen!

It appears that, in violation of California law, police are using disappearing message apps so that there will be no proper record of their misdeeds:

In a disturbing trend, government officials and police departments have been thwarting public oversight by using communications apps that automatically delete messages.

The latest example comes from Southern California, where an investigation by Al Jazeera and the ACLU of Southern California revealed last week that the Long Beach Police Department was using an app called TigerText to send self-erasing messages. The department’s effort to subvert transparency appears to have been intentional: Supervisors were instructing officers to use the app whenever they wanted to keep potentially damaging information secret — including in cases of police killings.

The LBPD’s decision to systematically destroy communications is an outrageous violation of California’s public records laws and the legal obligation to preserve records that could come up both in criminal cases and civil rights lawsuits against the department. And this decision — made by the police department in the city ranked the 13th deadliest in the nation for police killing — is also a glaring example of the mindset of impunity that prevails in some police departments.

We really need a Federal law enforcement agency which is single tasked with policing the police.

And Another Shoe Drops

Yesterday, I mentioned another allegation against Kavanaugh, and now we have a given-under-oath statement from Julie Swetnick about Kavanaugh about drunken parties at which girls were raped:

On the eve of a critical Senate hearing that could decide the fate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a third woman came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct in the early 1980s even as partisan anger deepened on both sides.

The revelations shocked Capitol Hill, where Republican lawmakers are seeking to advance a nomination that legal scholars and lawmakers say could cement a conservative majority.

Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial elevation, once expected to move smoothly through the Senate, now hangs on the votes of a handful of GOP senators who said they were troubled by the late-breaking claims. Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska all said they would determine their votes after Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.


On Wednesday, Ms. Swetnick issued a sworn statement, made public in a tweet by attorney Michael Avenatti, alleging that between 1981 and 1982, she became aware of efforts by Judge Kavanaugh and his high-school friend, Mark Judge, to “ ‘spike’ the ‘punch’ ” at house parties she attended with drugs “and/or grain alcohol” and “target” women.


Ms. Swetnick claimed she attended more than 10 house parties in the Washington area between 1981 and 1983 with Judge Kavanaugh and Mr. Judge, and saw them “drink excessively and engage in highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls” and grabbing them “without their consent.”

She said that in 1982, she was drugged and raped by a group of boys, and said Messrs. Kavanugh and Judge were “present” when she was victimized. She said witnesses could verify her account and that she told people about the attack shortly after it happened.

She also said she had a “firm recollection” that at these house parties, boys lined up outside rooms “waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room,” and that those boys included Judge Kavanaugh and Mr. Judge.

And now we have a 4th accusation, this one from 1998, when Kavanaugh was in his mid-30s, but apparently was still a drunk who abuses women: (He’s probably got a gambling problem)

The Senate Judiciary Committee inquired about at least one additional allegation of misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to a transcript of a phone call released by the committee Wednesday.

Republican Senate investigators asked Kavanaugh about the new complaint during a call on Tuesday between Kavanaugh and committee staff.


The anonymous complaint that was sent to Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, claimed that Kavanaugh physically assaulted a woman he socialized with in the Washington, D.C., area in 1998 while he was inebriated.

The sender of the complaint described an evening involving her own daughter, Kavanaugh and several friends in 1998.

“When they left the bar (under the influence of alcohol) they were all shocked when Brett Kavanaugh, shoved her friend up against the wall very aggressively and sexually.”

“There were at least four witnesses including my daughter.” The writer of the letter provided no names but said the alleged victim was still traumatized and had decided to remain anonymous herself.

It’s pretty clear that ¾ of the Republicans in the Senate would be willing to vote for Kavanaugh if he were to rape a page on Mitch McConnell’s desk, but it’s also clear that they are going to pay for this bullsh%$.

And now the Republicans are trying to roll out a woman prosecutor to do their dirty work at the hearing tomorrow.

Want Some Cheese with that Whine?

FCC Chairman, and spokes model for corruption, Ajit Pai is very upset at California’s new (pretty weak tea) net neutrality rules:

California’s attempt to enforce net neutrality rules is “illegal” and “poses a risk to the rest of the country,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said in a speech on Friday.

Pai’s remarks drew an immediate rebuke from California Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who authored the net neutrality bill that passed California’s legislature and now awaits the signature of Governor Jerry Brown.

California’s net neutrality rules are “necessary and legal because Chairman Pai abdicated his responsibility to ensure an open Internet,” Wiener said in a press release.

“Unlike Pai’s FCC, California isn’t run by the big telecom and cable companies,” Wiener also said. “Pai can take whatever potshots at California he wants. The reality is that California is the world’s innovation capital, and unlike the crony capitalism promoted by the Trump administration, California understands exactly what it takes to foster an open innovation economy with a level playing field.”

Would someone please take that big coffee mug and shove it up his ass?

Without lube preferred.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen!

Documents obtained by the ACLU of Montana and reviewed by the Guardian have renewed concerns from civil rights advocates about the government’s treatment of indigenous activists known as water protectors.

Notably, one record revealed that authorities hosted a recent “anti-terrorism” training session in Montana. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency also organized a “field force operations” training to teach “mass-arrest procedures”, “riot-control formations” and other “crowd-control methods”.

A US justice department intelligence specialist told the Guardian the terrorism training was an annual presentation not specific to Keystone. But the ACLU noted that its records request was specifically about the pipeline protests, suggesting that authorities considered the session relevant to Keystone preparation.


“Treating protest as terrorism is highly problematic,” said German, noting that the US government has long labeled activism as “terrorism”, once claiming that filing public records requests was an “extremist” tactic. “It’s an effective way of suppressing protest activity and creating an enormous burden for people who want to go out and express their concerns.”

The “terrorist” and “extremist” labels can be used to justify brutality and a militarized operation, said Andrea Carter, an attorney with the Water Protector Legal Collective, a group that has represented Standing Rock defendants.

It should be noted that this all occurred under the Obama administration.

Do you think hat it would better or worse under Trump?

Time for Another Blogger Ethics Panel

CNN had an interview with “Typical female Republicans,” and ((big surprise) they are all actually highly tied in party activists.

It’s kind of like asking Josef Stalin about the Holodmor:

This CNN panel of “Republican women voters” was a massive fail, as we’ve pointed out over the weekend. We now have a guide to each of the women on the panel and who they actually are.

And yes, the consensus is that CNN failed all journalistic standards in this segment. But I would argue their standards are about “both sides,” not journalism, and in that respect they acted completely according to plan.

This segment is pure propaganda worthy of Fox News, and it’s more pernicious because we are expected to think of CNN as the “unbiased” one. CNN is forever desperate to bring a “both sides” angle to every issue for “balance,” but by insisting that the side that excuses sexual assault must have a place at the table, they legitimize rape culture rather than bring balance to the discussion.

As I have said many times, “Both Siderism” picks a side, and it is the side that lies and cheats that always wins in a both-sider argument.

And CNN was so desperate to have a pro-Kavanaugh segment that they formed a panel of “average Republican women voters” made up of easily discoverable Republican paid operatives and political candidates. I think the term is “crisis actor.” Heh.

The panel of 5 women includes 3 candidates, 2 party officials, a major Ted Cruz donor, and a Fox News regular.

It’s like the the “Rent-a-Crowd” outside of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

I mentioned that there were some unalloyed benefits of the entire Brett Kavanaugh debacle.

There are two immediate benefits that come to mind, first, this spectacle has reminded people how hapless/complicit that Joe Biden was in the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas 25 years ago:

In the past week, it’s been hard to flip on cable news without hearing the name Anita Hill. And that’s not good for Joe Biden, who’s thinking of running for president in 2020.

“This is going to educate who is under the age of 35 and may not have grown up knowing Joe Biden’s role in all of this,” said a Democratic strategist who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

It’s been 27 years since the law professor electrified the nation with her testimony about the sexual harassment she faced from Clarence Thomas, who was then up for confirmation to the Supreme Court.

That hearing was widely considered a disaster, a textbook case of how not to treat a woman who comes forward. Republican senators went after Hill and tried to make her seem like a liar, a mentally ill person and a spiteful jilted lover. But Democrats held the majority at the time, and Biden, then a senator from Delaware, was the chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee and, more than anyone else, could determine the direction and parameters of the discussion.


In 1991, most significantly, Biden did not call three other witnesses to testify who could have strengthened Hill’s allegations. But in other ways, too, Hill said she felt like she was left out to dry, without an ally on the committee.

“Most evident from the televised Judiciary Committee hearings was the fact that I sat in that hearing room without a patron on the panel. That image still resonates,” she wrote in a 1995 essay.

From the beginning, Biden said he recognized that Hill’s allegations against Thomas were “a giant incendiary bomb.” But he didn’t act like they were, according to Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, who wrote Strange Justice, a thorough book about the Thomas confirmation battle.

This is good because if 2016 taught us anything, it is that septuagenarian defenders of the status quo are not good news for the party or the country.

Even if you want a centrist squish, it’s clear that we need someone who can credibly present themselves as an agent of change.

The other good news is that Susan Collins has finally been forced to reveal that her moderation is a myth, because when the vote is important and close, she will always vote with Republicans:

The campaign has also substantially weakened Collins. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling puts Collins’ approval underwater (35 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove) and finds that 48 percent of Mainers are opposed to confirming Kavanaugh. Even more importantly, the polling finds that 53 percent of Mainers say that Collins’ handling of the Kavanaugh nomination has made them view her less favorably, while only 19 percent view her more favorably. Last year, the same pollster found her at 59 percent approval and 34 percent disapproval. Just this week, Wall Street Journal polling suggests that support for Kavanaugh’s nomination has slipped dramatically, with 38 percent of registered voters opposing his nomination, a surge from 29 percent opposed a month ago (only 34 percent support him, with the remaining 28 percent undecided). Among women, 28 percent favor the nomination and 42 percent oppose.

It would be a very good thing if this ended her career.