Month: August 2020

I Know That I Shouldn’t Be Happy at Other People’s Misfortune, But

I am unreasonably happy about Liberty University suffering from a mass exodus of athletes of color because the “university” is a thoroughly racist place.

The moron Moral Majority was founded as a racist reaction to integration by Jerry Falwell, so I’m thinking that being hoist by their own racist petard to be profoundly amusing:

In mid-June, as the pandemic surged across the country, hundreds of students were living on Liberty University’s campus. Tayvion “Tank” Land was one of them, taking a summer math class with about 10 other students—half of them his football teammates.

One Thursday morning, class was partway through when the instructor told one of Land’s teammates that he needed a tutor. Sensing some reticence, Land said, the instructor followed up with an attempt at a joke. “Don’t be scared,” he allegedly told the player. “I’m not going to pull out my whip and hit you with it.”

Land and his teammate are Black, the instructor is white, and the joke came during a period of intense scrutiny of the way Black people are treated in this country, and of the unwelcoming atmosphere Black students face at Liberty in particular. In fact, Asia Todd, a top freshman on Liberty’s women’s basketball team, had announced earlier that month that she was transferring “due to the racial insensitivities shown within the leadership and culture” at the school.

Land had finally had enough, too. When I talked to him recently, he told me it was that moment in class that convinced him he had no choice but to transfer. He was done with the slights and general discomfort of being a young Black man on a campus where the student body, not to mention the population of professors and senior leadership, is overwhelmingly white.



— Tayvion Land (@LandTayvion) June 22, 2020

Land’s departure was big news at Liberty, where a year before he’d been the highest-rated football recruit to ever sign with the school. His teammate, roommate, and close friend, Kei’Trel “Tre” Clark, who was also in the math class, decided to transfer as well, saying, “due to the cultural [incompetency] within multiple levels of leadership, it does not line up with my code of ethics.” On July 17, a third Black teammate announced plans to leave but didn’t specify why.


Jerry Falwell Sr., the legendary televangelist and school founder, famously talked of building a football program on the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus that could someday compete against Notre Dame. “This was when all we had was a local church and rented public school buildings. Everybody thought he was crazy,” Falwell Jr. once said of his father’s early aspirations. Those dreams seemed especially improbable back then, coming only a few years after Falwell Sr. founded a K–12 school in Lynchburg that the local paper called “a private school for white students.” But Falwell Jr. has dreamed even bigger than his father, aiming to turn one of the nation’s largest Christian universities into what Notre Dame is for Catholics and BYU is for Mormons: the home team for millions of believers.


“In order for them to attract the kind of players they need to become a top Division I school, they need to go recruiting people, Black and white, who aren’t necessarily perfect fits for a place like Liberty,” said John Fea, a historian of American religion at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. “They’ve gotta go beyond the megachurch youth group.”

In our conversation just before his announcement, Land made it clear that football was never a problem for him at Liberty. The training facilities at the school were top notch. He’d acquitted himself well as a freshman defensive back, playing in 11 of 13 games, including five starts, and finishing with 23 tackles. He was projected to start as a sophomore. It was everything he dealt with off the field, Land said, that made it hard for him to recommend the experience to anyone else.

As the saying goes, when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

The origins of Liberty “University” are steeped in racism, so it should come as no surprise that it remains a racist cesspool.

Interesting Tech

Solid fuel for ramjets and rockets is generally some sort of plastic or rubber, oxidizer, and powdered aluminum.  (The devil is in the details, don’t try this at home)

A new technology involving replace the aluminum particles aluminum-lithium alloy particles.

It prevents the formation of large aluminum droplets and corrosive combustion by-products: (paid subscription required)

A Purdue University spinoff will test an improved propellant for solid-fuel ramjet propulsion systems in hypersonic weapons under more than $1.1 million in contracts from the U.S. military.

Adranos is developing a solid rocket fuel, called Alitec, which uses aluminum-lithium (Al-Li) alloy powder instead of aluminum in the propellant mix, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing corrosive effects.


Aluminum powder is used in solid propellants as an additive to increase their density and combustion temperatures and stabilize the burn. But the metallic fuel forms large molten droplets that burn slowly. This results in a performance loss of up to 10%, which prevents a rocket from realizing its full range and payload capacity. The fuel also emits hydrochloric acid, which damages the environment and corrodes launch equipment.

Aluminum-lithium fuel has demonstrated increased performance through better combustion and higher efficiency. The large difference in boiling points between aluminum and lithium causes microexplosions of the metallic drops, reducing agglomerates. In addition, Al-Li virtually eliminates hydrochloric acid production while also improving theoretical specific impulse. Adranos calculates that Alitec could increase missile range by up to 68% and booster payload by 65%.


The latest contracts have been awarded by the Army’s Aviation and Missile Center and the Defense Department’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office. Under the contracts, tests at Purdue’s Zucrow Labs will use a heated air system capable of simulating a Mach 4 flight environment to determine Alitec’s functionality within a solid-fuel-ramjet hypersonic propulsion system.


About F%$#ing Time

Yesterday, the California AFL-CIO released a resolution stating that they intend to disaffiliate with police and border patrol unions, citing how both perpetuate racial and economic injustice, as well as violent oppression. They write in the resolution:

“The California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, will continue to build and support the movement for income equality by confronting racial and economic injustice and commits to vanquish oppression, authoritarianism, and cruelty in all their form, disassociating from unions who perpetuate these acts of violence. (i.e., police unions and the border patrol union) and expel from this body any member or affiliate who is a member of any Fascist or White Supremacist organization or member or affiliate who pursues policies and/or activities directed toward the purposes of any Fascist or otherwise White Supremacist Ideology.”

The resolution is the first one in the nation passed by a state AFL-CIO board and could be a sign of things to come.

Seeing as how police departments have always been the sharp (and enthusiastic) end of the spear when it comes time to suppress organized labor, this should be a no-brainer for the national union.

I So Wish that Sanders Were the Nominee

Elon Musk, welfare queen and libertarian, decided to go after Bernie Sanders’ proposal for a wealth tax, Sanders notes that most of Musk’s wealth is from government subsidies. (Literally, Tesla would not have generated a penny of profit without the various subsidies that it has benefited from and resold)

Elon Musk believes that everyone should have the initiative that he had, and inherit an emerald mine:

Bernie Sanders showed Friday he isn’t afraid to call out hypocrisy – particularly when it comes from someone like Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Musk on Friday tweeted out a meme critical of Sanders and his brand of socialism. The tweet was in response to an article about a bill Sanders introduced Thursday that would place a 60% tax on the wealth gained by billionaires such as Musk during the coronavirus pandemic. The meme, dubbed the “Official Bernie Sanders drinking game!” showed a picture of Sanders along with the text: “Every time the Bernster mentions a free government program, chug somebody else’s beer.”

Sanders, who’s no neophyte when it comes to defending his leftist views and programs, wasn’t about to back down from such criticism. In a tweeted response, he called out Musk for benefiting to the tune of billions of dollars from government subsidies and linked to an article from The Los Angeles Times that detailed the assistance Musk and his companies have received.

“Every time Elon Musk pokes fun at government assistance for the 99%, remember that he would be worth nothing without $US4.9 billion in corporate welfare,” Sanders wrote. “Oh, Elon just l-o-v-e-s corporate socialism for himself, rugged capitalism for everyone else.”

Elon Musk is one disfiguring accident away from being a super-villain.


The above is a Japanese proverb which states, “There is no medicine for stupidity.”

I am referring to North Paulding High School, which I wrote about a few days ago when they suspended students for revealing the complete unpreparedness of the school for dealing with coronavirus transmission.

Well today, North Paulding High is gong online for at least 2 days following a spike in infections:

The Paulding County high school that became infamous for hallways crowded with unmasked students will retreat online for at least a couple days this week after revealing that a half-dozen students and three staffers were diagnosed with COVID-19.

The district said it needs time to disinfect the North Paulding High School building and look for other potentially infected individuals.

“On Monday and Tuesday, the school will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and the district will consult with the Department of Public Health to assess the environment and determine if there (are) any additional close contacts for confirmed cases who have not already been identified,” Paulding Superintendent Brian Otott wrote in a letter to parents Sunday.

Otott said parents will be notified Tuesday evening about whether North Paulding High School will reopen Wednesday.

Parents whose children go to the school might want to get a doctor’s note to keep them out of school for, “Unspecified health issues.”

This goes for members of the sports team in spades.

The only thing that the administration is interested in is passing the buck.

Deliberate Sabotage

Trumps new appointed Postaster General has rearranged and decimated senior management in a part of the ongoing attempts of the Trump administration to undermine the viability of vote by mail.

It’s been called a “Friday night massacre.”

Trump is going to be dragged out of the White House kicking and screaming in January if Joe Biden and his Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) incompetents manage not to completely screw up the campaign:

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy unveiled a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s mail service, displacing the two top executives overseeing day-to-day operations, according to a reorganization memo released Friday. The shake-up came as congressional Democrats called for an investigation of DeJoy and the cost-cutting measures that have slowed mail delivery and ensnared ballots in recent primary elections.

Twenty-three postal executives were reassigned or displaced, the new organizational chart shows. Analysts say the structure centralizes power around DeJoy, a former logistics executive and major ally of President Trump, and de-emphasizes decades of institutional postal knowledge. All told, 33 staffers included in the old postal hierarchy either kept their jobs or were reassigned in the restructuring, with five more staffers joining the leadership from other roles.

The reshuffling threatens to heighten tensions between postal officials and lawmakers, who are troubled by delivery delays — the Postal Service banned employees from working overtime and making extra trips to deliver mail — and wary of the Trump administration’s influence on the Postal Service as the coronavirus pandemic rages and November’s election draws near.


Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), chair of the House subcommittee responsible for postal oversight, called the reorganization “a deliberate sabotage” to the nation’s mail service and a “Trojan Horse.”


The structure displaces postal executives with decades of experience, moving some to new positions and others out of leadership roles entirely, including McAdams, Williams and chief commerce and business solutions officer Jacqueline Krage Strako, who previously held the title of executive vice president and chief customer and marketing officer.


Earlier Friday, congressional Democrats demanded an investigation of DeJoy’s cost-cutting initiatives, which postal workers blame for delivery slowdowns.

A letter signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and seven other Democrats, including Connolly, urged Postal Service Inspector General Tammy L. Whitcomb to examine how DeJoy came to implement policies that prohibit postal workers from taking overtime or making extra trips to deliver mail on time, and how such delays specifically affect election mail.

This is a toxic mix election tampering and Trump’s vendetta against Amazon.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

A protester saw a cop who he believed was behaving inappropriately, so he posted the photo to Twitter, and he and those who retweeted him were charged with felony cyber harassment.

The extremes to which prosecutors go to protect police officers from the consequences of their malfeasence boggle the mind: (Note:  After this blew up in the media, the prosecutor dropped charges)

When Kevin Alfaro noticed a masked police officer befriending a counterprotester who had threatened him at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Nutley, N.J., on June 19, he whipped out his phone and took a picture.

Then he tweeted: “If anyone knows who this b—- is throw his info under this tweet.”

Now, Alfaro and four others who retweeted the post have been charged with cyber harassment, a fourth-degree felony that carries up to 18 months of incarceration and a $10,000 fine.

A complaint sent July 20 to Georgana Sziszak, who retweeted the post, first reported by the Verge and reviewed by The Washington Post, claims that the tweet caused the officer to “fear that harm will come to himself, family and property.”


Alfaro wrote on a GoFundMe page that he was at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on June 29 when a group of counterprotesters became physically threatening. He then saw a Nutley police officer, later identified as Detective Peter Sandomenico in Sziszak’s summons, acting friendly with the counterprotesters. Sandomenico had covered up his badge number and was wearing a “Blue Lives Matter” mask, Alfaro added.

“As a citizen exercising my First Amendment rights, I felt threatened that a public servant was befriending blatant racists,” Alfaro said.

We need to make it a crime for uniformed officers to cover their badges, and every single person involved in bringing these charges should be under criminal investigation.

Most of This Is Completely Unconstitutional

In response to Republican attempts to run out the clock on pandemic relief, which Trump has characterized as Democratic stonewalling, Trump has issued a profoundly constitutionally dubious executive order which appeared geared toward his reelection, with a side order of killing Social Security.

Briefly, he has issued an order for $400/week supplemental unemployment payments, a suspension of Social Security tax payments, deferring student loan payments and cutting interest, and extending the eviction moratorium.

The first two items are very clearly unconstitutional, Congress has exclusive power over taxation under, and I’m not sure that he has authority over either the student loan or eviction actions.

The interesting thing is that anyone who is a landlord has standing to challenge the executive order, since they can show damages to themselves personally.

I expect this to hit court (more likely courts) by the close of business on Monday:

President Trump took executive action on Saturday to circumvent Congress and try to extend an array of federal pandemic relief, resorting to a legally dubious set of edicts whose impact was unclear, as negotiations over an economic recovery package appeared on the brink of collapse.

It was not clear what authority Mr. Trump had to act on his own on the measures or what immediate effect, if any, they would have, given that Congress controls federal spending. But his decision to sign the measures — billed as a federal eviction ban, a payroll tax suspension, and relief for student borrowers and $400 a week for the unemployed — reflected the failure of two weeks of talks between White House officials and top congressional Democrats to strike a deal on a broad relief plan as crucial benefits have expired with no resolution in sight.


“We’ve had it,” he added, repeatedly referring to his directives as “bills,” a term reserved for legislation passed by Congress. He accused the Democrats of holding up negotiations with demands for provisions that appeared to have little to do with the pandemic, though he made little mention of comparable items in the $1 trillion proposal Republicans unveiled last month.

Democrats have refused to agree to that plan, pressing instead for a far more expansive economic relief package, at least twice as large, that would provide billions more for states and cities and food aid, and revive the lapsed $600-per-week enhanced federal jobless aid payments. (Republicans are proposing to revive the payments, but at a rate of $400 a week.)


It was unclear whether the aid would even materialize if lawsuits are filed challenging their legality. Mr. Trump walked away from the lectern after just a few questions from reporters about his claim that he had the ability to circumvent Congress.


Shortly after the event on Saturday, the White House released texts of the measures — one executive order and three memorandums — which included several flourishes that read like political documents in accusing Democrats of playing games. One invoked the Stafford Act, a federal disaster relief statute, to divert money from a homeland security fund and allow states to use money already allocated by Congress to help people who have been laid off amid the coronavirus pandemic, effectively allowing them to apply for disaster relief to cover lost wages. The mechanism would pull from the same fund that covers natural disasters in the middle of what is expected to be a highly active hurricane season.


It was unclear how quickly states, whose unemployment systems had already been overburdened by the record numbers of new jobless claims, would be able to adjust to a new system, or whether they will have the resources to supplement an additional benefit.


He also retroactively signed a memorandum suspending the payroll tax from Aug. 1 through the end of 2020, though the order would just defer the payment of the taxes. (Mr. Trump vowed that if re-elected in November, he would extend the deferral and the payments.)

If Mr. Trump tried to make a payroll tax cut permanent, it would have a drastic effect on the funding of Social Security, which he has previously vowed not to cut.

Trump has actually promised to permanently eliminate the Social Security and Medicare taxes, so that “vow” is inoperative.

The memorandum that Mr. Trump called a moratorium on evictions did not revive the expired moratorium that was part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law passed in March. Instead, it said that federal policy was to minimize evictions during the pandemic and that officials should identify statutory ways to help homeowners and renters.

So his actions on evictions translate to, “¯_(ツ)_/¯”.  Weak tea.

Needless to say this is a political ploy, and there likely to be weeks, if not months of legal challenges before they might take effect.

Still Over 10%

Obviously, this is movement in the right direction, though there are still indications that the BLS survey has not handled the unique circumstances of the pandemic. (There are also some more tinfoil hat possibilities, but Very Serious People don’t discuss such things)

Hiring increased in July for the third straight month, though overall gains have yet to restore half of the U.S. jobs lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.

July’s addition of 1.8 million jobs and a lower unemployment rate of 10.2%, after a peak of nearly 15% in April, showed the U.S. economy continued to mend during the summer coronavirus surge. It also reflected how far the economy has to go to overcome the shock from the pandemic and related lockdowns.

The U.S. now has about 13 million fewer jobs than in February, the month before the coronavirus hit the U.S. economy, the Labor Department said on Friday. Unemployment remains historically high. Before the coronavirus drove the U.S. into a deep recession this year, the unemployment rate was hovering around a 50-year low of 3.5%.

“We’re in a pretty strong rebound,” said David Berson, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. chief economist. “But the downturn was so big—the hole that was dug was so deep—that it will still take probably at least a couple of years to dig ourselves out.”

It might take longer than that, since supplemental unemployment benefits have ended, and eviction moratoriums are coming to an end.

Still anyone who calls double-digit unemployment good news need their head examined.

Powerful Bank CEOs Lead to Money Laundering

A study shows that the more unchecked authority that bank CEOs have, the more likely that the banks will be involved in money laundering and other criminality.

Obviously, correlation does not prove causation, but ultra-powerful CEOs tend to be indistinguishable from sociopaths, so criminality logically follows their imperative to hit “the numbers”.

We have seen again and again how rock-star CEOs lead to unbalanced people running companies for their own personal benefit and twisted egos:

Banks with powerful CEO’s and smaller, less independent, boards are more likely to take risks and be susceptible to money laundering, according to new research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The study tested for a link between bank risk and enforcements issued by US regulators for money laundering in a sample of 960 publicly listed US banks during the period 2004-2015.

The results, published in the International Journal of Finance and Economics, show that money laundering enforcements are associated with an increase in bank risk on several measures of risk. In addition, the impact of money laundering is heightened by the presence of powerful CEOs and only partly mitigated by large and independent executive boards.

It’s not just banks that need to abolish the Cult of the CEO.

Unhorrible News on Unemployment

At least to the degree that 1.19 million initial unemployment claims can be called not horrible, because by the standards of before this March, such a number would be considered catestrophic.

I’m wondering what’s going to happen with the unemployment rate tomorrow:

Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to the lowest since March, offering a ray of hope for an economy still battered by the pandemic.

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell by 249,000 to 1.19 million in the week ended Aug. 1, Labor Department data showed Thursday. That was the largest improvement in almost two months. Continuing claims — the total number of Americans claiming ongoing unemployment benefits in those programs — decreased to 16.1 million in the week ended July 25, the lowest since April.

Even with the drop, initial claims were more than five times pre-crisis levels. Analysts have cautioned that it could take some time to confirm a sustainable trend in improvement — especially if the expiration of the weekly $600 in federal benefits discouraged some from filing claims. With cumulative job losses numbering in the tens of millions, it will take not just steady improvement in the number of weekly claims, but also in hiring, for the labor market to rebound to any semblance of its pre-pandemic state.


The labor market had been showing signs of stalling in recent weeks as a resurgence in virus cases, beginning in mid-June, led a slew of states to halt or even reverse reopenings. That surge has begun to ebb, potentially supporting hiring, but the outlook could deteriorate once again as businesses exhaust funds from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Meanwhile, the extra $600 in weekly jobless benefits that have helped keep incomes and spending afloat in recent months has expired, threatening the fragile economic rebound.

If we don’t see the $600/week coming back soon, we’re going to see massive knock-off effects.

Another Progressive Upset

What’s more, he came in 3rd, despite out fundraising all of his opponents.

It’s unlikely that Marquita Bradshaw will win the general, this is Tennessee, after all, but it is clear that status quo Democrats are in a place that is not resonating with the voters.

I think that a lot of this comes down to Bernie Sanders energizing the base.

I don’t think that Sanders will run in 2024, but I would like to see AOC run.

She will be 35 in October of 2024, and so she would be constitutionally qualified:

A political novice, Marquita Bradshaw pulled out a surprising victory on Thursday to secure the Democratic nomination for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race, paving the way for her to take on Bill Hagerty, the winner of a bitter Republican primary battle.

“The progressive movement is undeniable,” Bradshaw tweeted to her followers. “Thank you all so much for your support and this victory. It’s time to put hardworking people first.”

The Memphis Democrat faced four challengers: Robin Kimbrough, James Mackler, Gary Davis and Mark Pickrell. Bradshaw won the race with 35.5% of the vote. Kimbrough had 26.6% and Mackler had 23.8%. Davis and Pickrell trailed with each winning less than 10% of the vote.


Still, Bradshaw beat out a better-known and better-funded challenger. Previously, Mackler ran briefly in 2018 for former U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s seat until former Gov. Phil Bredesen joined the race. He bowed out and endorsed Bredesen.

This time around, Mackler received Bredesen’s endorsement and had already been running a campaign aimed at the two leading Republican candidates. He had the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.


Bradshaw is an organizer for and involved with local and statewide efforts of the environmental group Sierra Club. Through those efforts she has focused much of her attention on environmental justice, and how, she said, people of color are disproportionately impacted by environmental policy. It’s something she would focus on in the Senate.

“We started this campaign by listening to voters and taking in empirical data in order to shape policy,” she said. “We included them in that process and we got feedback. Moving forward, we can do this together.”

Since she announced her campaign, Bradshaw raised $8,420, according to her most recent Federal Election Commission filing. Comparatively, Mackler raised $2.1 million to run in the race. In that time, he has spent $1.5 million.

Needless to say, I expect that Bradshaw will be “Ghosted” by the DSCC, because controlling the Democratic caucus in the Senate is more important to Chuck Schumer and his Evil Minions than it is to control the Senate.

So Not a Surprise

We now have a report that Facebook fired an employee after the collected information showing that senior executives interfered with the moderation process to protect right-wing sources.

The worst offender appears to be Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s VP of Global Policy, a former member of the George W. Bush administration, but it’s clear that this has to be done with the explicit support and approval Mark Zuckerberg, given that he is a control freak who has complete control of the company.

This is why Dems need to get serious about antitrust with regard to the tech giants after the election:

After months of debate and disagreement over the handling of inflammatory or misleading posts from Donald Trump, Facebook employees want CEO Mark Zuckerberg to explain what the company would do if the leader of the free world uses the social network to undermine the results of the 2020 US presidential election.


For the past week, this scenario has been a topic of heated discussion inside Facebook and was a top question for its leader. Some 2,900 employees asked Zuckerberg to address it publicly during a company-wide meeting on Thursday, which he partly did, calling it “an unprecedented position.”


While there are signs Facebook will stand up to Trump in cases where he violates its rules — as on Wednesday when it removed a video post from the president in which he claimed that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19 — there are others who suggest the company is caving to critical voices on the right. In another recent Workplace post, a senior engineer collected internal evidence that showed Facebook was giving preferential treatment to prominent conservative accounts to help them remove fact-checks from their content.

The company responded by removing his post and restricting internal access to the information he cited. On Wednesday the engineer was fired, according to internal posts seen by BuzzFeed News.

With heightened internal tensions and morale at a low point, concerns about how the company handles fact-checked content have exploded in an internal Workplace group dedicated to misinformation policy.

Last Friday, at another all-hands meeting, employees asked Zuckerberg how right-wing publication Breitbart News could remain a Facebook News partner after sharing a video that promoted unproven treatments and said masks were unnecessary to combat the novel coronavirus. The video racked up 14 million views in six hours before it was removed from Breitbart’s page, though other accounts continued to share it.


But some of Facebook’s own employees gathered evidence they say shows Breitbart — along with other right-wing outlets and figures including Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, Trump supporters Diamond and Silk, and conservative video production nonprofit Prager University — has received special treatment that helped it avoid running afoul of company policy. They see it as part of a pattern of preferential treatment for right-wing publishers and pages, many of which have alleged that the social network is biased against conservatives.


On July 22, a Facebook employee posted a message to the company’s internal misinformation policy group noting that some misinformation strikes against Breitbart had been cleared by someone at Facebook seemingly acting on the publication’s behalf.

“A Breitbart escalation marked ‘urgent: end of day’ was resolved on the same day, with all misinformation strikes against Breitbart’s page and against their domain cleared without explanation,” the employee wrote.

The same employee said a partly false rating applied to an Instagram post from Charlie Kirk was flagged for “priority” escalation by Joel Kaplan, the company’s vice president of global public policy. Kaplan once served in George W. Bush’s administration and drew criticism for publicly supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s controversial nomination to the Supreme Court.


Past Facebook employees, including Yaël Eisenstat, Facebook’s former global election ads integrity lead, have expressed concerns with Kaplan’s influence over content enforcement decisions. She previously told BuzzFeed News a member of Kaplan’s Washington policy team attempted to influence ad enforcement decisions for an ad placed by a conservative organization.

Facebook did not respond to questions about why Kaplan would personally intervene in matters like this.

These and other interventions appear to be in violation of Facebook’s official policy, which requires publishers wishing to dispute a fact check rating to contact the Facebook fact-checking partner responsible.

“It appears that policy people have been intervening in fact-checks on behalf of *exclusively* right-wing publishers, to avoid them getting repeat-offender status,” wrote another employee in the company’s internal “misinformation policy” discussion group.

Individuals that spoke out about the apparent special treatment of right-wing pages have also faced consequences. In one case, a senior Facebook engineer collected multiple instances of conservative figures receiving unique help from Facebook employees, including those on the policy team, to remove fact-checks on their content. His July post was removed because it violated the company’s “respectful communication policy.”


News of his firing caused some Facebook employees to say that they now fear speaking critically about the company in internal discussions. One person said they were deleting old posts and comments, while another said this was “hardly the first time the respectful workplace guidelines have been used to snipe a prominent critic of company policies/ethics.”


In other cases, Facebook itself will quietly remove a fact-check applied by one of its partners. That appears to be what happened with a March 25 post from Diamond and Silk. The duo wrote on Facebook, “How the hell is allocating 25 million dollars in order to give a raise to house members, that don’t give a damn about Americans, going to help stimulate America’s economy? Tell me how? #PutAmericansBackToWorkNow.”

In Mark Zuckerberg’s company, some animals are more equal than others.

Tweet of the Day

Space exploration is being used by billionaires as a narrative management tool to sell the myth of unlimited expansionism. These guys know ecosystemic collapse is coming at us far faster than their little space dildos can happen but they need the idea of it to keep us at bay.

— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) August 7, 2020

This is a cynical view of the the oligarchs’ space activities, but there is precedent.

One need only look at all the libraries named after the 19th robber-barons.

Worst Metaphor Ever

There are any number of reasons to vote for Joe Biden for President.

OK, that is not true. There ara any number of reasons to vote AGAINST Donald Trump.

I honestly cannot think of a reason to vote for Biden beyond, “Have you seen the other guy?”

That being said, describing this decision as the equivalent of break-up sex is just plain wrong for a number of reasons:

  • Making ANYTHING like sex with Joe Biden is not going to motivate anyone, except, perhaps Jill Biden. (Don’t make me quote Jules from Pulp Fiction
  • How often do people have breakup sex anyway?  My experience with my partners is that when they want to say goodbye, they don’t exchange bodily fluids.
  • The central thesis of the argument is that, once Trump is defeated, progressives will be given a pass on not supporting Dems in 2 years.  Na ga na happen.  The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) will continue to blame every failure on the “left” while treating them like absolute crap.

Please, just stop:

Today I see people whose politics I largely share getting upset about things. Here are Briahna Joy Gray and David Sirota, upset that John Kasich may play a role in the Democratic National Convention. Here is Anand Giridharadas grappling with how to welcome the energy and support of the “Lincoln Project” without ceding power to the very same people who brought us the Iraq War, torture, and predatory mortgages and financial fraud.

The metaphor for how I think that “we” (for a suitably nebulous we) should deal with the 2020 election is “breakup sex”.

Our current relationship with the Democratic Party is intolerable. The people who run the institution do not share our values, at least not in any way that matches the urgency of the catastrophe our world has become. We’ve tried for two Presidential election cycles to reform the party from the inside, using the primary process, and not succeeded, both for reasons fair and foul. Yet the pathology of our first-past-the-post electoral system and the logic of Duverger’s tendency means it would harmful to do the natural thing and form our own political party. Under electoral systems like ours (which it should be among our highest priorities to change) splitting a broad coalition disempowers the entire coalition, handing elections and power to people whose interests and values are so far from our own we would never have been anywhere near a coalition with them. Within the Democratic Party our values are undermined, coopted, sacrificed on the alter of a cynical realism that the well-remunerated realists quietly prefer. If we split from the Democratic Party, we hand power to a coalition that is, at the moment, an unabashedly fascist death cult. Things are tough all over. This is intolerable. We have to find a way out.

I think there is a way out. A fair number of us, described sometimes as “Bernie or bust”, argue that we should withhold our support from the Democratic Party, despite electoral realities, unless they earn our support with candidates and platforms that represent us. Sometimes this is taken a principled stand, to be taken regardless of consequence. But often it is justified in game-theoretical terms: If institutional Democrats know that we are trapped, that we will always hold our noses and vote with them, then we will have no leverage in the party. We have to demonstrate a willingness to accept the short-term risk of spoiling elections in order, over the longer term, to gain bargaining power within the Democratic coalition so that our values and interests actually get represented.

There is a lot to be said for this view, but it is kneecapped when it is put into practice on individualized, atomized terms. Most of us, compelled by the logic of negative partisanship, hold our noses and vote for the “corporate Democrat” who we expect will betray us, but who will probably not murder us like the other guy might. Others vote for Jill Stein or Howie Hawkins, or don’t show up at the polls. The inconsistency dilutes the potential effectiveness of the strategy. If the goal is actually to wield power, our withholding or supplying votes must be a matter of coordinated, collective action rather than individualized expressive choice. We need a union that can credibly threaten to strike, not individuals some of whom rage quit.

So, breakup sex. I think, in this year of our lord 2020, we should actively, enthusiastically, passionately support the Democratic Party and the prototype institutional Democrat who leads its ticket. They always try to convince us that letting the other team win would be the end of the world, but this year the horde of rabid predators is pretty visible while they are crying wolf. As soon as the election has passed, I think we should form a distinct organization that would not be a political party in the sense of participating in our country’s deeply flawed public primary process, but that would, like a political party, sometimes moot its own candidates for public office and help get them placed on ballots (whether as organization representatives or notional independents). Sometimes is an important word in that description. Most of the time, it hopefully would not. The organization would simply endorse the Democratic party candidate, keeping whole the not-Republican coalition. But, if a high (supermajority) threshold of the membership decides that the Democrat would not represent our values effectively, that the risk of spoiling the election is acceptable given whoever the Republican would be and is outweighed by the possibility our better candidate might win, then we would run that candidate and organize on their behalf with energy and unconflicted enthusiasm. Defecting from the Democratic Party, when it makes sense, makes much more sense as a collective rather than individual choice.

No, just no.

It will never be the right time for the  Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) to support the left, and there will never be the right time for the left to hold the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) to account.

That is just how the game works.

The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) will never respect the left.  Nor will they respect a progressive agenda.

Still, with the primary defeats of faux Democrats like Eliot Engel, Lacy Clay, and Joseph Crowley, and the threat to corporate Democrat Richard Neal in Massachutts, it is entirely possible that they can come to fear their base, as the Republican Party Establishment does.

This should be the goal.

Today in Evil

In an attempt coverup reckless disregard for the safety of their students and their staff, administrators at North Paulding High School in Dallas, GA have suspended students who have reported unsafe and dangerous conditions:

At least two North Paulding High School students have been suspended after sharing images of a school hallway jammed with their mostly maskless peers, and the principal has warned other students against doing the same.

North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga., about an hour’s drive from Atlanta, was thrust into the national spotlight this week when pictures and videos surfaced of its crowded interior on the first and second days of its first week back in session. The images, which showed a sea of teens clustered together with no face coverings, raised concerns among online commenters and parents over how the district is handling reopening schools during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Facing a fierce online backlash, Paulding County Schools Superintendent Brian Otott told parents and guardians in a letter that the images “didn’t look good.” But he argued that they lacked context about the 2,000-plus student school, where masks are a “personal choice.”

Certainly, posting to social media from school is a no-no, but listen to this message from the principal where he explicitly states that any criticism will be punished:

#Exclusive recording from North #Paulding High telling kids they will be punished for sharing to social media about conditions. Plus new #COVID19 cases in Cherokee County Schools and a football player in Henry County tests positive… details @cbs46 #Atlanta #backtoschool

— Jamie S Kennedy (@Jamie_S_Kennedy) August 6, 2020

This is illegal retaliation, and the administrators should be frog-marched out of the school in hand cuffs.

I Still Want to Abolish the Patent Court

Technically, it’s full name is US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and I have little good to say about this institution.

For that matter, neither does the US Supreme Court, which has taken to overruling the C.A.F.C.’s extreme views on IP on an almost routing basis.

But today, I wholeheartedly approve of their ruling stating that the federal judiciary must cease using the PACER document access system as a cash cow for the courts:

The federal judiciary is overcharging for public access to online court records, an appeals court ruled Thursday in a decision that could result in lower fees to search and download case documents.

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said affordable access to public records is critical for oversight and transparency in the nation’s court system.

“If large swaths of the public cannot afford the fees required to access court records, it will diminish the public’s ability ‘to participate in and serve as a check upon the judicial process — an essential component in our structure of self-government,’ ” wrote Judge Todd M. Hughes, who was joined by Judges Alan D. Lourie and Raymond C. Clevenger III.

The ruling does not eliminate the paywall for the service known as PACER, an acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records. But the decision upholds a District Court finding that the current 10 cents per page charge is “higher than necessary to operate” the system. The court limited fees to the amount needed to cover the cost of providing access to docket information online.


The lawsuit was filed in 2016 by three nonprofit organizations. The National Veterans Legal Services Program, National Consumer Law Center and Alliance for Justice claimed that the dime-per-page fee unlawfully exceeded the cost of running the system. The cost of storing data has declined since the inception of the courts’ electronic repository in the 1980s, while PACER fees have increased.

The administrative office has used the money to pay for projects such as flat-screen TVs for jurors, to send notices to bankruptcy creditors and to fund a study by Mississippi for its own court system.

This is a good decision.
More generally, any time that an enforcement agency derives income directly from its basic operations, it is corrosive to good governance.

I’ll Have What She’s Having

In Case You Don’t Get the Reference

The New York State Attorney General has has filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA for pervasive corruption and self dealing.

When I heard that news, I reacted like Meg Ryan at the deli:

The chief executive of the National Rifle Association and several top lieutenants engaged in a decades-long pattern of fraud to raid the coffers of the powerful gun rights group for personal gain, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the New York attorney general, draining $64 million from the nonprofit in just three years.

In her lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James called for the dissolution of the NRA and the removal of CEO Wayne LaPierre from the leadership post he has held for the past 39 years, saying he and others used the group’s funds to finance a luxury lifestyle.

She also asked a New York court to force LaPierre and three key deputies to repay NRA members for the ill-gotten money and inflated salaries that her investigation found they took.


The attorney general requested that the court bar the four men — LaPierre, general counsel John Frazer, former treasurer Woody Phillips and former chief of staff Joshua Powell — from ever serving in a leadership position for a New York charity in the future.


Her investigation, which began in February 2019, found “a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA that was illegal, oppressive, and fraudulent,” according to a statement by the attorney general’s office.


Meanwhile, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced Thursday that his office filed a separate lawsuit against the NRA Foundation, which is based in Washington. Racine accused the organization of being a puppet of the NRA, despite legal requirements that it independently pursue charitable purposes. Instead, Racine said his office found, the foundation repeatedly lent the NRA money to address its rising deficits.

James said at a news conference Thursday that she is seeking to dissolve the NRA because of the brazenness of the group’s violations of law.

“The corruption was so broad, and because they have basically destroyed all the assets of the NRA,” she said. “Enough was enough. . . . No one is above the law, not even the NRA.”

Her office cited as a precedent its previous action against the Trump Foundation, which led Trump to shut down the charity in 2018 amid allegations he used it for his personal benefit.

The irony here is delicious.


The lawsuit also claims LaPierre failed to report large sums of personal income to the IRS. James’s office said it found that the NRA chief funneled personal expenses through an outside public relations firm, allowing him to avoid reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal income.

James said Thursday that she was referring those findings to the IRS. She also said that if her office uncovers criminal activity, it will be referred to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

In response, the NRA said Thursday that it was filing its own federal lawsuit against James, alleging that the attorney general has violated the group’s free-speech rights and has been unfairly targeting the gun rights lobby since she began campaigning for the office.


Thoughts and prayers today to the NRA, which is losing money and political power so quickly that by the end of this case, there might not be anything left to dissolve,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.

(emphasis mine)

This irony is even more delicious.

Experts in tax law said the deep investigation into the NRA’s finances showed the potential for state officials to vigorously enforce nonprofit rules.


The Washington Post and other news organizations subsequently revealed how the NRA directed funds to board members and how LaPierre racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges at a Beverly Hills clothing boutique and on foreign travel.


A central fraud embedded in NRA finances, James’s suit claims, was a secret agreement to pass questionable expenses through its Oklahoma-based advertising agency, Ackerman McQueen.


A very large portion of those hidden expenses were for personal trips and expenses for LaPierre, the New York suit contends. In a deposition in a separate lawsuit last year, LaPierre acknowledged he did not report any of the NRA-paid expenses as personal income to the IRS and claimed they were business expenses.


The partnership between the NRA and the public relations firm began to crack after James, then a candidate for New York attorney general, announced in summer 2018 that she planned to launch an investigation into the NRA if she won. LaPierre hired a new law firm, led by then-Ackerman McQueen chief executive Angus McQueen’s estranged son-in-law. That attorney, Bill Brewer, urged that the NRA to audit Ackerman McQueen’s bills in preparation for James’s probe.

I’m hoping that Wayne LaPierre ends up destitute and in prison.