Month: May 2019

Another Day, Another Mass Shooting………

This time, it’s Virginia Beach, Virginia:

A gunman killed 12 people and injured at least four others in a Virginia municipal building, in the latest deadly mass shooting to roil the United States.

Authorities said an employee opened fire and shot “indiscriminately” Friday afternoon in a Virginia Beach municipal building that houses several city departments.

Four police officers responded to the scene and “engaged” in a “longterm gun battle” with the suspect, who was armed with a 45 caliber handgun with extended magazines and a sound suppressor, police said.

There seems to be one of these every few weeks.

F%$# the NRA.


Charlie doing standup and Sharon* doing the camera work:

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

Meanwhile, in Nevada

Felon reanfranchisement is now the law in the Silver State:

Nevada’s governor has signed criminal justice reform bills that restore voting rights to convicted felons and streamlines the process for sealing low-level marijuana convictions.

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed both the measures Wednesday as the legislative session continues on in its final days.

The voting rights legislation gives felony offenders the right to vote after being released from prison, instead of granting certain felons the right to vote two years after being released.

Sisolak says some 77,000 state residents will have their voting rights restored due to the legislation.

Felon disenfranchisement has always been an explicitly racist enterprise, and it needs to end.

I Knew That the Name “Sununu” Was Involved

New Hampshire just abolished the death penalty.
In order to do so, they had to override the veto from the Governor.

I did not know who the Governor was, but I knew his last name had to be Sununu, because whenever some Republican in New Hampshire does something Reagan type psychotic, you know that a Sununu had to be involved:

Lawmakers in New Hampshire voted Thursday to abolish the death penalty, overriding a veto from the state’s Republican governor and making it the 21st state to abandon capital punishment.

The vote by the New Hampshire Senate capped months of uncertainty about what would happen to capital punishment in the state, the last in New England to still have the death penalty.


Lawmakers in New Hampshire had tried to abolish the death penalty before but narrowly failed, running headlong into gubernatorial vetoes and, in 2014, falling short by a single vote.

After Gov. Chris Sununu (R) vetoed a bill last year abolishing the death penalty, lawmakers passed another measure this year with enough support to withstand a veto.

This bill “changes the penalty for capital murder to life imprisonment without the possibility for parole,” stripping away the possibility of a death sentence for such crimes.

Political dynasties are truly toxic.

BTW, While We Are Talking About Impeachment

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) received a standing ovation Tuesday evening at his first public event since becoming the first Republican to call for President Trump‘s impeachment.

At a town hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amash criticized House Republican leadership, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whom he called the “so-called leader.”

“I read the Mueller report. I’m sure he didn’t read it,” Amash said of McCarthy. “He resorted to ad hominem attacks; that’s the kind of ‘leadership’ we now have in Congress.”

 Nancy Pelosi needs to understand that her cowardice is neither good policy nor good politics.

Someone Is Looking to Steal from Us

Specifically, the healthcare executives who are calling for a rollback on anti-kickback laws.

They claim that this will allow for, “Innovation.”

What they really want is a way to goose their profits and their salaries, because this about self-dealing, not improving the quality or efficiency of healthcare.

Whenever I hear someone talk about how deregulation will allow for innovation, I am reminded of Paul Volker’s quote on financial innovation, that, “The only thing useful banks have invented in 20 years is the ATM.”

Let us be completely clear, this is about legalizing larceny, nothing else:

Beth Hughes’ job involves closely partnering with physicians to sync Sioux City, Iowa-based MercyOne’s operations and move the health system forward. But one regulation continues to stand in her way—the Stark law, the president of MercyOne’s Western Iowa region said.

The Stark law is meant to curb Medicare and Medicaid spending by prohibiting a physician for making referrals that financially benefit the doctor. That combined with the federal anti-kickback statue have impeded new payment models by limiting incentives used to reward progress, providers said, noting that they can incur significant financial penalties even if they didn’t intend to violate the regulations.


“Being creative with value-based care flies in the face of fraud and abuse laws,” Hughes said as organizations like MercyOne aim to reduce hospital readmissions and length of stay. “You can try to get an exception, but most people are discouraged because it is a long and arduous process. Those laws may be inhibiting our ability to creatively align ourselves with providers.”

More than 36% of 162 healthcare executives surveyed by Advis said that fraud and abuse laws don’t support new models of care—the most common answer to what regulations stand in the way of changing healthcare for the better. Fraud and abuse laws were followed by Medicare conditions of participation and state licensure laws as well as limits on telehealth reimbursement.

If this doesn’t sound like a license to cheat and steal, you have the political and financial acumen of Little Orphan Annie.

It Appears that Voting Him Immunity was a Bridge too Far

Benjamin Netanyahu has been unable to form a government, so there will be snap elections.

I think the fact that he was going to use the new government to grant himself for immunity for impending corruption charges was a major contributing factor:

Israel’s parliament has voted to dissolve itself after Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government, in a move that will lead to a second round of elections just one month after the country held a national poll.

At a suspenseful gathering that ended weeks of unsuccessful bartering and brinkmanship, the Knesset voted to disperse and call new elections, set for 17 September.

Coalition talks stalled after far-right former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, a Netanyahu ally-turned-rival, refused to back the prime minister.

Netanyahu needed support from Lieberman’s ultranationalist party, Yisrael Beiteinu, for a majority in Israel’s parliament.


Lieberman, whose party’s base includes largely secular Russian-speaking Israelis, wanted guarantees that the prime minister would back legislation to insist ultra-Orthodox Jews, also known as haredi, undertake mandatory national service like other Israelis.

Netanyahu, however, also needed the 16 seats from ultra-Orthodox parties for a 61-seat majority of parliament’s 120 seats. Those parties demanded that the existing exemption from conscription for seminary students stays in place.

“The Likud surrendered completely to the haredi,” Lieberman said before the parliamentary vote on Wednesday.


This time, Netanyahu, 69, was under additional pressure to form a government as he faces potential indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases. He denies any wrongdoing, labelling the accusations as a “witch hunt”.

His loyalists had been planning to grant him immunity in the next parliament. A draft law they proposed would overrule court decisions and in effect protect the prime minister, although Netanyahu has not publicly backed the plan.

I cannot but think that the plans for immunizing Bibi were giving his coalition partners some serious concerns that they would pay for giving him a get out of jail free card.

Mueller Speaks

Unfortunately, he’s still not particularly good at communicating, but it appears to me that what he implied was, “of course he obstructed justice, so do your job, Congress,” though as is often noted, your mileage may vary:

Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, declined on Wednesday to clear President Trump of obstruction of justice in his first public characterization of his two-year investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mr. Mueller said, reading from prepared notes behind a lectern at the Justice Department at a hastily called public appearance.

He also noted that while Justice Department policy prohibits charging a sitting president with a crime, the Constitution provides for another remedy to formally accuse a president of wrongdoing — a clear reference to the ability of Congress to conduct impeachment proceedings.

Although it lasted less than 10 minutes, the news conference presented an extraordinary spectacle of a top federal law enforcement official publicly stating that the president’s conduct had warranted criminal investigation, even though it was impossible to indict him for any crimes. Mr. Mueller delivered his statement on his last day as special counsel, saying it was his final word on his investigation and he was returning to private life.

I’ve always said that it would be the coverup, and not the crime, and rather remarkably, Fox News’ pet, “judge,” Andrew Napolitano has observed that this is basically what Nixon got impeached for:

Judge Andrew Napolitano does not mince words.

Appearing on Fox Business’ Varney and Co. after Robert Mueller’s morning press conference, Napolitano told host Stuart Varney that the special counsel had essentially told the country that he “had evidence that he committed a crime but we couldn’t charge him because he’s the President of the United States.”

“This is even stronger than the language in his report,” Napolitano added. “This statement is one hundred and eighty degrees from the four-page statement that Bill Barr issued at the time he first saw the report.”

Fairly anodyne, until you consider the fact that it was on Fox F%$#ing News, huh.

So, considering that statement against interest, I’m going to go with what Eduardo Martinez Jr. said on McSweeney’s, and suggest that Congress is obligated to start a formal impeachment process, though he says it in an earthier manner, “Do Your F%$#ing Job.”

Sorry Nancy, but ironic clapping is not enough.  Your actions are not just bad politics, it will depress Democratic base turnout, but it is a deliberate shirking of constitutional responsibility:

Hey, Congress.



I know this is inconvenient. I know what I’m about to tell you to do is hard, and complicated, and may not even, in the end, actually produce results. But I promise you, it’s never been more important to do what needs to be done. Do what, you ask?



I’m sorry. I, in no way, mean to be aggressive or abrasive or imply that there are not enormous consequences to whatever happens next. This is a historical decision, no doubt, but it’s almost like HE’S THE F%$#ING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA JUST DOING CRIMES WHILE YOU ARE ARGUING ABOUT CIVILITY.


Just do your f%$#ing job.

Because if not.

We’ll find other people who will.


Bye David

David Whitley, the now former Secretary of Stat of Texas, has resigned following a botched attempt to disenfranchise about 100,000 Hispanic Texans:

Texas’s acting secretary of state, David Whitley (R), resigned Monday just months after leading the botched voter purge of nearly 100,000 suspected noncitizens that erroneously also targeted U.S. citizens, efforts that drew rebukes from a federal judge and numerous voter rights groups.

Whitley’s departure came as the Texas Senate failed to confirm him to the position by a two-thirds majority on the last day of the legislative session. He submitted his resignation letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) “effective immediately” just before the final gavel, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman. Abbott accepted his resignation shortly afterward, praising his “moral character and integrity.”

What Greg Abbot means when he says, “Moral character and integrity,” is, “This guy is trying to keep n*****s from voting, and I approve.”

Whitley, a gubernatorial appointee and former aide to Abbott, spent less than six months overseeing Texas elections. He will leave office best known for the disastrous elections-integrity operation that wrongly identified thousands of naturalized citizens as suspected noncitizens illegally registered to vote.

He revealed the investigation in January, causing unsupported fears of rampant voter fraud while emboldening Republican politicians who had made similar voter fraud claims — including President Trump. Whitley’s office had claimed that, of 95,000 suspected noncitizens, 58,000 had voted in at least one Texas election over the last 18 years. Letters sent to all those suspected noncitizens threatened to disenfranchise them unless they proved their citizenship within 30 days.

The numbers on this, “A federal judge ordered Whitley to stop his voter purge of noncitizens after it turned out only about 80 on his original list had actually been ineligible to vote.”

I am sure that Greg Abbot will find someone even worse.

Civil Society Organization is an Oxymoron

At least where the Ukraine is concerned.

Sure enough one of the signatories is “NGO ‘CentreUA'”—same NGO, funded by Omidyar, Soros, USAID, that organized Maidan revolution. That’s like a gun pointed at Zelensky’s head. Outrageous.

— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) May 24, 2019

These organizations are threatening to foment a coup against the new President of the Ukraine unless he acquiesces to their demands.

Here is a list of the most significant of their demands:

  • Don’t revisit the Ukrainian language law, which has the effect of removing citizenship from Russian speakers and other minorities.
  • No coalition talks with opposition parties.
  • No negotiations with the Russians without a US minder.
  • Attempt no rapprochement between the Ukrainian and Russian churches.
  • Don’t fight the IMF restrictions on the country.
  • Continue to move toward joining NATO.
  • Continue to move toward joining the EU.
  • Don’t attempt wealth redistribution. (In one of the most unequal countries on earth)
  • Continue the blockade of Russian media.

These are not the demands of concerned non-governmental agencies, this is a CIA wet dream.

If you wonder why so many governments seem to feel that “Civil Society” organizations are CIA fronts, it’s because so many of them ARE CIA fronts.

Consider the Source

Rachel Maddow, who has been banging the, “Julian Assange is a Russian agent,” drum relentlessly for the past 2+ years has realized that her ox is gored as well:

Rachel Maddow has aired a segment condemning the new indictment against Julian Assange for 17 alleged violations of the Espionage Act.

Yes, that Rachel Maddow.

MSNBC’s top host began the segment after it was introduced by Chris Hayes, agreeing with her colleague that it’s surprising that more news outlets aren’t giving this story more “wall to wall” coverage, given its immense significance. She recapped Assange’s various legal struggles up until this point, then accurately described Assange’s new Espionage Act charges for publishing secret documents.

“And these new charges are not about stealing classified information or outsmarting computer systems in order to illegally obtain classified information,” Maddow said. “It’s not about that. These new charges are trying to prosecute Assange for publishing that stolen, secret material which was obtained by somebody else. And that is a whole different kettle of fish then what he was initially charged with.”

“By charging Assange for publishing that stuff that was taken by Manning, by issuing these charges today, the Justice Department has just done something you might have otherwise thought was impossible,” Maddow added after explaining the unprecedented nature of this case. “The Justice Department today, the Trump administration today, just put every journalistic institution in this country on Julian Assange’s side of the ledger. On his side of the fight. Which, I know, is unimaginable. But that is because the government is now trying to assert this brand new right to criminally prosecute people for publishing secret stuff, and newspapers and magazines and investigative journalists and all sorts of different entities publish secret stuff all the time. That is the bread and butter of what we do.”

Publishing information that someone else does not want published is journalism.

Anything else is stenography.

More Refugees

Chad Haag considered living in a cave to escape his student debt. He had a friend doing it. But after some plotting, he settled on what he considered a less risky plan. This year, he relocated to a jungle in India. “I’ve put America behind me,” Haag, 29, said.

Today he lives in a concrete house in the village of Uchakkada for $50 a month. His backyard is filled with coconut trees and chickens. “I saw four elephants just yesterday,” he said, adding that he hopes never to set foot in a Walmart again.

More than 9,000 miles away from Colorado, Haag said, his student loans don’t feel real anymore. “It’s kind of like, if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it really exist?” he said.

Some student loan borrowers are packing their bags and fleeing from the U.S. to other countries, where the cost of living is often lower and debt collectors wield less power over them. Although there is no national data on how many people have left the United States because of student debt, borrowers tell their stories of doing so in Facebook groups and Reddit channels and how-to advice is offered on personal finance websites


But the fact that people are taking this drastic measure should bring scrutiny to the larger student loan system, said Alan Collinge, founder of Student Loan Justice.

More and more every day, e resemble a 3rd world country.

100 Years Ago Today

Observations of an eclipse from multiple locations proved that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was correct:

On May 29, 1919, a solar eclipse forever altered our conception of gravity, rewrote the laws of physics and turned a 40-year-old, wild-haired scientist into a global celebrity — the very personification of scientific genius.

It was a very good day for Albert Einstein.

The 1919 eclipse across South America and Africa provided direct evidence for Einstein’s mind-bending theory of gravity. He proposed in 1915 that gravity isn’t a spooky force acting across space but rather is a feature of the essence of space and time. Gravity is the warping and curving of the fabric of the universe.

Einstein’s theory — the general theory of relativity — was hailed by the physicist J.J. Thomson as “one of the greatest achievements of human thought.” It has been confirmed by many more observations over the century, including the detection of gravitational waves and the first picture of a black hole just this year. He cracked a fundamental code of the universe.


Einstein had emerged from obscurity in 1905 with a series of astonishing papers that obliterated classical notions about time and space. But his greatest achievement came a decade later, in 1915, when he described the equations governing gravity. He’d figured out a fundamental feature of the universe, using merely the power of his brain. But was it true? What if his equations were just a mathematical fancy, something that looked nifty on paper but did not correspond to physical reality?

Einstein proposed an experimental test. A solar eclipse would block the sun’s light and allow scientists to study starlight passing close to the sun. His theory predicted that the sun’s gravitational field would displace the starlight by a certain amount compared to where they would be under classical theories of gravity.

British astronomer Arthur Eddington led an expedition to observe the eclipse from two locations, one in Brazil and one on the island of Principe near the African coast.

The stars backed Einstein.

Break out the champagne, or not, depending on how you feel about General Relativity.

Today’s Must Read

Philadelphia Enquirer columnist Will Bunch has what I believe to be the definitive word on what the Democratic Party should be doing in the age of Trump.

His thesis is pretty straighforward, the Democrats need to stop being cowards:


The timidity of Democrats in response to Trump’s take-no-prisoners is disappointing, even after watching decades of battered-dog politics from the center-left. The slow-motion House Democratic strategy of finally issuing some subpoenas after several months in power, then watching them get ignored and finally tied up in court as the clock ticks toward the 2020 election appears hopeless in the face of all-out Roy Cohn-ism. And yet the Democrats are politically terrified of using the only power that matches Trump’s tactics – an impeachment inquiry, and the expanded powers that flow from that.

Read the rest.

A Thought for Memorial Day

US Army Major (Ret) Danny Sjursen observes what should be obvious, that “Yes, My Fellow Soldiers Died in Vain.”

Amid the hagiography of the troops, and the non stop commercials for the holiday, we need to acknowledge, as James Tiberius Kirk does, “The illogic of waste ……… the waste of lives, potential, resources, time.”

Don’t allow people who will never face jeopardy themselves to use the deaths of those who did to prosecute their psychopathic agenda.

Quote of the Day

I Expect Nothing, and I am Still Disappointed.

—Charles E. Saroff

My son.  (Not exactly his quote, it’s from a meme, but he said it without a pause)

He’s a big Bernie supporter, and not a fan of Peter Buttigieg’s policy free Presidential bid, but when I told him that his campaign was literally selling access to big bundlers in an attempt to “maintain momentum”.  (Completely legal, but still sleazy)

He Should Not Apologize

Lately, Bernie Sanders has been criticized for his opposition to the Vietnam War, the invasion or Iraq, and a potential invasion of Iran.

He has refused to apologize, and he should continue to refuse, because he was, and is, right, and his critics are, and were, wrong:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took aim at calls for him to “apologize” for his refusal to support U.S. armed conflicts in the Middle East, saying Friday that he was “right” about past U.S. wars and would continue to advocate against war with Iran.

In a tweet, Sanders wrote that he will “apologize to no one” for supporting peaceful diplomatic efforts over armed conflict with Iran, citing U.S. wars in Iraq and Vietnam as examples of past U.S. armed responses that resulted in long-running and exhausting wars.

“I was right about Vietnam. I was right about Iraq. I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran. I apologize to no one,” the senator tweeted, along with a video explaining his stance against war with the country.

I was right about Vietnam.

I was right about Iraq.

I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran.

I apologize to no one.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 24, 2019

In the topsy-turvy world inside the Beltway, being right is somehow indicates that he is not “serious” about foreign policy.

Needless to say, this is complete bullsh%$.

This Also Explains Theranos

In this examination of toxic individualism to describe how Uber was a Silicon Valley success and a real world failure, (most disastrous IPO in history) it explains a lot about the general lawlessness that permeates the culture.

Essentially, this is Ayn Rand applied to the real world, and failing completely, as it did with Sears:

Uber is now a massive, publicly traded company. Anyone can buy Uber shares at a valuation of about $70 billion. This isn’t bad for a company losing billions of dollars a year, but it’s a fraction of the $120-billion valuation the IPO’s bankers initially floated. It’s roughly what private investors valued it at three years ago, when the company made $7.43 billion less revenue.


But some of it should go to Silicon Valley’s cultural divergence from the business reality. Investors loved the company not as an operating unit, but as an idea about how the world should be. Uber’s CEO was brash and would do whatever it took. His company’s attitude toward the government was dismissive and defiant. And its model of how society should work, especially how labor supply should meet consumer demand, valorized the individual, as if Milton Friedman’s dreams coalesced into a company. “It’s almost the perfect tech company, insofar as it allocates resources in the physical world and corrects some real inefficiencies,” the Uber investor Naval Ravikant told San Francisco magazine in 2014.


But plenty of companies have experienced founders and do things VCs like. What set Uber apart—and the reason it generated the Uber-for-X phenomenon—was its marketplace model.

The company used computers to restructure the driving labor market (“corrects some real inefficiencies”). Why have a dispatcher send cabs all over a city when an algorithm could do the same thing—with no labor cost or organizational infrastructure, and probably with better results? The cab companies, with their own complex institutional histories, were suddenly irrelevant. Drivers drove and riders rode—and the only thing necessary to connect them was an app on a phone. The model didn’t just make financial sense to people trained to think in Silicon Valley in the 2000s; it made ideological sense.


For early Uber investors, Uber was everything that disruption was supposed to be. You took an app, created by a small number of people in a San Francisco office, and used it to erase the institutions—formerly called businesses—that used to sit between the buyers and sellers of services. It wasn’t just a company; it was a company that destroyed the need for other companies. It was pure and uncut Economics 101, capitalism as it was meant to be. And if by eliminating much of the labor that it previously took to organize car services, the company would also generate billionaires … well, to the innovators go the spoils.


In Uber’s world, there is no such thing as collective action. Every person is an individual particle of the market, freely interacting with all the others, unless there is pesky government meddling. Uber really was about the triumph of individualism, an ethos that infuses Silicon Valley so thoroughly that it’s hard for most here to see. Companies that fit that pattern are more likely to garner VC attention, get funding, and find success. That’s how Silicon Valley shapes the world.

But they cannot sustain companies within their bubbles of influence forever. They must leave the nest for the public markets, where they are judged on their bottom lines. So far, the market says: This company is worth $50 billion less than its executives and bankers thought.

And in Uber’s world, the market is always right.

Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman once said, “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled,” the same applies for business, only we need to replace “technology”, with business, and “public relations” must replaced with “ill-conceived and juvenile philosophy”.

Objectivism has failed wherever it has met reality, leaving misery in its wake.

Mission F%$#ing Accomplished

I wholehearted the proposal by Bernie Sanders and Barbara Lee to  levy a tax on financial transactions

The idea is that by increasing the cost of high frequency trading and other forms of speculation, these parasitic activities would be reduced:

This week Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Barbara Lee are introducing bills in the Senate and House for a financial transaction tax (FTT). Their proposed tax is similar to, albeit somewhat higher than, the FTT proposed by Senator Brian Schatz earlier this year. The Sanders-Lee proposal would impose a 0.5 percent tax on stock transactions, with lower rates on transfers of other financial assets. Senator Schatz’s bill would impose a 0.1 percent tax on trades of all financial assets.

At this point, it is not worth highlighting the differences between the bills. Both would raise far more than half a trillion dollars over the next decade, almost entirely at the expense of the financial industry and hedge fund-types. In the case of the Schatz tax, the Congressional Budget Office estimated revenue of almost $80 billion a year, a bit less than 2.0 percent of the budget. The Sanders-Lee tax would likely raise in the neighborhood of $120–$150 billion a year, in the neighborhood of 3.0 percent of the federal budget.

While the financial industry will make great efforts to convince people that this money is coming out of the middle-class’ 401(k)s and workers’ pensions, that’s not likely to be true. This can be seen with some simple arithmetic.

Take a person with $100,000 with a 401(k). Suppose 20 percent of it turns over each year, meaning that the manager of the account sells $20,000 worth of stock and replaces it with $20,000 worth of different stocks. In this case, if we assume the entire 0.5 percent specified in the Sanders-Lee bill is passed on to investors, then this person will pay $100 a year in tax on their 401(k).

While no one wants to pay more in taxes, this hardly seems like a horrible burden. After all, the financial industry typically charges fees on 401(k)s in excess of 1.0 percent annually ($1,000 a year, in this case), and often as much as 1.5 percent or even 2.0 percent.

One of the arguments against the tax is that the forecast revenues are overstated, since there will be less speculative activity as a result of the higher costs.

This a feature, and a highly attractive feature at that, and not a bug, or, as Randall Munroe noted in his xkcd web comic, Mission F%$#ing Accomplished.