Month: May 2021

Quote of the Day

There are infinite kinds of irresponsible books that a well-credentialed media insider can write.

First are the total farces of fact. These include former New York Times chief Jill Abramson’s mangling of basic details about her subjects in her book on new media, or the time that Naomi Wolf, once an adviser to Al Gore, learned on the air in an interview with the BBC that the thesis of her latest book was based on her complete misreading of a nineteenth century legal definition.

A second variety of irresponsible books are those whose primary purpose is to market their authors at the expense of humane and rational thinking and behavior. For example, The Problem From Hell allowed Samantha Power to parlay her journalism into a Beltway policy career as the human face of the American forever war. Hillbilly Elegy’s J.D. Vance is reportedly preparing a run for the Republican nomination for Senate in his home state of Ohio.

And then there are books whose fusion of factual inaccuracy and moral sophistry is so total that they can only be written by Malcolm Gladwell.

—Noah Kulwin in The Baffler

I love me a scathing review, and this one is entertaining, and the subject is so eminently deserving of the treatment, that it is a joy to read.

It is also more generally an indictment of the “Very Serious People” sit as gate-keepers to acceptable thought in our society.

Our Government Needs to Stop Hiring Psychopaths

The Biden Administration has announced that it will be appointing Richard Nephew as assistant envoy to Iran.

He’s kind of a classic foreign policy sadist, particularly as he is a former Obama Administration sanctions expert, but he’s written a book where he brags about hurting ordinary citizens through the sanctions that he devised.

Colloquially, it’s called saying the quiet part out loud. Legally, it’s called a crime against humanity:

The Joseph Biden administration has named Richard Nephew as its deputy Iran envoy. As the former principal deputy coordinator of sanctions policy for Barack Obama’s State Department, Nephew took personal credit for depriving Iranians of food, sabotaging their automobile industry, and driving up unemployment rates.

Nephew has described the destruction of Iran’s economy as “a tremendous success,” and lamented during a visit to Russia that food was still plentiful in the country’s capital despite mounting US sanctions.

Nephew’s appointment to a senior diplomatic post suggests that rather than immediately returning to the JCPOA nuclear deal, the Biden administration will finesse sanctions illegally imposed by Trump to pressure Iran into an onerous, reworked agreement that Tehran is unlikely to join.

Doubling down on bad policy and ignoring agreements that have been signed because ……… American Exceptionalism.  Great policy there.

You see, he wrote a book:


Entitled “The Art of Sanctions: A View From The Field,” the book’s cover image features two Caucasian hands drawing a rope for a noose, presumably to strangle some insufficiently pliant Global South government. Its contents read like a list of criminal confessions, detailing in chillingly clinical terms how the sanctions Nephew conceived from inside an air-conditioned office in Washington immiserated average Iranians.

With his candor, Nephew has shattered the official US rhetoric about “targeted sanctions” that exclusively punish “bad actors” and their business cronies while leaving civilian populations unharmed.


Nephew also patted himself on the back for tripling the price of chicken “during important Iranian holiday periods,” thereby “contribut[ing] to more popular frustration in one bank shot than years of financial restrictions.”

Next, he boasted of more sanctions targeting civilians to prevent Iranians from obtaining the assistance they needed to repair their cars. “Iran’s manufacturing jobs and export revenue were the targets of this sanction,” Nephew wrote.


In response to online criticism, Nephew has claimed that “the main target” of the sanctions regime he designed was “the oligarchs.” But his book on “The Art of Sanctions” tells another story.

Nephew fondly recalls how he structured sanctions to sabotage Iranian economic reforms that would have improved the purchasing power of average people. The Obama administration destroyed the economic prospects of Iran’s working-class majority while ensuring that “only the wealthy or those in positions of power could take advantage of Iran’s continued connectedness,” he wrote. As “stories began to emerge from Iran of intensified income inequality and inflation,” Nephew pronounced another success.

Rather unsurprisingly, the government of Venezuela has submitted Nephew’s books and articles as evidence of war crimes to the ICC

Yesterday, we officially submitted before the International Criminal Court the book “The Art of Sanctions” and the article “Evaluating the Trump Administration’s Approach to Sanctions: Venezuela”, both by @RichardMNephew, advisor to Obama and Biden for the imposition of sanctions

— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) May 18, 2021

Richard Nephew’s books and articles are also evidence that he is too stupid, and too criminal, to hold a security clearance, much less hold a senior position in the any Presidential administration.

Pass the Popcorn

Manhattan DA District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has convened a criminal grand jury to investigate the Trump Organization.

I am not going to get my hopes up, if prominent Republicans went to jail for crimes, Karl Rove would be sharing a cell with Dick Cheney:

Manhattan’s district attorney has convened the grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict former president Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself, should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges, according to two people familiar with the development.


The move indicates that District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s investigation of the former president and his business has reached an advanced stage after more than two years. It suggests, too, that Vance thinks he has found evidence of a crime — if not by Trump, by someone potentially close to him or by his company.

I so want to see Trump in the dock.

Some People Cannot Resist Posting Kittens

For me, it’s farts:

A woman on TikTok has left people in stitches with her story about a time she ripped a fart in a spin class that led to a total evacuation of all people on the premises.


“This one time I went to a spin class after a heavy night of drinking and 4am kebabs…”

Then it happened.

“…And I farted a fart that smelled so bad that a girl threw up and they had to evacuate the gym because they thought they had a sewage problem.”

She was apparently glad to finally get it off her chest.

“I was too embarassed to tell them it was just me. So now, eight years later, I’m telling you guys.”


Tell me your greatest fart stories. Can you beat that? #fyp #gym #gymproblems #fart #spinclass #hangover #embarrassing #ohno #fartsfordays #drunk

♬ Oh No – Kreepa

How is this woman still single?  Not mocking her.  Women who find farts funny are rare and should be treasured.

Also, it beats my story of Prednisone fueled farts, when I let one site slip out silently that violated the chemical weapons convention at the same time that my my dad loudly farted while we were in the car, and he took the blame from the rest of the family for 15 minutes until I fessed up.

When You’ve Lost Silly-Con Valley

It looks like even the gonifs running Silicon Valley unicorns have decided that special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) are too dodgy for them.

I did not think that there was a financial instrument sufficiently duplicitous for the masters of the universe to object.

I was misinformed:

Startup chief executives are turning a cold shoulder to SPACs.

Skeptical CEOs say they are turning down offers from special-purpose acquisition companies, deleting their solicitous emails and tapping the brakes on merger deals amid nosediving shares and disappointed investors.

So-called blank-check companies, which go public with no assets and then merge with private companies, exploded in popularity last year as a mechanism for startups to raise a lot of money with more speed and fewer regulatory hurdles than a traditional initial public offering.

Startup chief executives are turning a cold shoulder to SPACs.

Skeptical CEOs say they are turning down offers from special-purpose acquisition companies, deleting their solicitous emails and tapping the brakes on merger deals amid nosediving shares and disappointed investors.

So-called blank-check companies, which go public with no assets and then merge with private companies, exploded in popularity last year as a mechanism for startups to raise a lot of money with more speed and fewer regulatory hurdles than a traditional initial public offering.


Among 44 technology startups that completed a SPAC deal from the start of 2020 through this past April, share prices have on average fallen 12.6%, according to data provided by Minmo Gahng and Jay Ritter, public-stock researchers with the University of Florida. More than half of the tech stocks declined more than 20%. The research is based on the share closing price on May 17.


Enthusiasm for SPACs waned after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced new accounting mandates last month and stepped up scrutiny of other SPAC practices. Another deterrent for startups is mounting litigation from stock traders against SPACs, alleging conflicts of board members, breaches of fiduciary responsibilities and misleading statements, among other things. Some fund managers said they have put a moratorium on new SPAC investments, and one San Diego-based family office, Sky and Ray, said since last year it has slashed its SPAC holdings to five from 104. 

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve heard of a Wall Street scam falling from favor because the intended pigeons came to their senses before it all collapsed.

It’s not the beginning of the end for Wall Street as casino, but perhaps, it is the end of the beginning.

H/T Naked Capitalism

Fasten Your Seatbelts, It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Ride

Yet again, we have the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season before the start of the season on June 1

Ana shouldn’t get particularly strong, but it’s the 7th year in a row that we have had a named storm before the start of th season.

Anthropogenic climate is change, and we are getting hammered by it today. 

It’s only going to get worse:

Although Ana has some tropical characteristics, it is considered “subtropical” because it is associated with a low-pressure system in the upper atmosphere, and its maximum winds are located farther from its center. Ana should not strengthen significantly above its current maximum of 45 mph winds and should dissipate by early next week as it moves away from Bermuda.

Despite its relative weakness, Ana is notable for a couple of reasons. This is the seventh consecutive year, dating to 2015, in which a “named” storm has formed in the Atlantic basin—which includes the northern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico—before June 1. The beginning of June traditionally marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Due to this trend toward earlier storms, which is at least partly attributable to climate change and the Atlantic Ocean warming earlier, the US government’s National Hurricane Center has considered moving the start date of the season to May 15. However, in something of a compromise, the agency decided to begin forecasting storms earlier but not declare an earlier official start.

“To provide more consistent information on the potential for late May and early June systems,” the agency said, it would begin to provide tropical weather outlooks four times daily, beginning on May 15.

Those outlooks have been needed this year. In addition to Ana, forecasters tracked another disturbance on Friday and early Saturday in the Gulf of Mexico that showed some signs of organizing. However, it moved inland, into the Central Texas coast, early on Saturday before attaining status as a tropical depression.

This is not going to end well.

Support Your Local Police

Just a brief rundown on police misconduct in the news recently.

William Jennette was suffocated by prison officers, and when he said he could not breath, one officer replied, “You shouldn’t be able to breathe, you stupid bitch.”

Recently released police dashcam and body cam video has revealed that, Louisiana State Troopers beat Ronald Greene to death (see also here).  They then refused to make a report to the coroner and told the family that he had died in a car crash.

And finally, we have the Springfield, Illinois cops who confiscated and spilled a man’s daughter’s ashes claiming that they contained drugs

Thin blue line, my ass.

Nope, No Racism Here

Carlette Duffy decided to get her home appraised, and though that her home was being low-balled because she was black, so, she got another appraisal and had a white friend pose as her brother, and that appraisal was more than double the previous two.

Even if you do all the right things, you pay just for the color of your skin, and this is a fact.

People who claim that racism is over because of Obama, or the Easter Bunny, or whatever, are full of crap:

A Black Indianapolis homeowner who had a nagging suspicion that her house was lowballed in two appraisals last year went to great lengths to conceal her race in a third. She removed photos of herself and her relatives and had a white friend pose as her brother for the appraiser’s home visit.

The result? The appraisal of Carlette Duffy’s home more than doubled.

Duffy’s home, which was assessed by different companies last year, was first appraised at $125,000, then $110,000 and finally $259,000 in November, according to the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. The nonprofit announced this month that it had filed housing discrimination complaints on Duffy’s behalf with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

If you don’t think that bigotry and racism is an ongoing and pernicious problem, you are a hypocrite and a moron.

Clearly, We Need More of This, Not Less

Colorado has added a requirement that job postings must include a salary range, so as to minimize wage disparities between white men and everyone else.

In response, companies have begun posting job openings specifically excluding Colorado, because they can keep wages lower if the applicants do not know what they are willing to pay.

The solution to this is not to revoke the Colorado statute, but to make it universal:

DigitalOcean is looking to hire a front-end software engineer who, if working remotely, is free to live anywhere in America, Canada, Germany, or Netherlands, but not in Colorado.

The US state in 2019 approved the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act and then formulated rules to apply the law [PDF], which went into effect on January 1, 2021. The statute requires, among other things, that companies posting job listings for in-state or remote positions include a salary amount or salary range. The intended purpose of the regulation is to prevent pay disparities.

DigitalOcean, which advertises about how it supports “a diverse and inclusive workplace,” does not explain specifically why it won’t consider hiring Colorado residents for remote positions, but its now-changed help wanted ad does make clear that Colorado is to blame.

“This position may be done in NYC or Remote (but not in CO due to local CO job posting requirements),” the online post said.


Many other firms have included similar language in their job ads.

Alcohol e-commerce platform Drizly is also looking for a remote Senior Software Engineer, anywhere except Colorado. “Please note: this role can be performed remotely anywhere in the United States with the exception of Colorado,” its job listing explains.


In a post last November to legal website JD Supra, Littler Mendelson PC attorneys Jennifer Harpole and Joshua Kirkpatrick, wrote that an exemption to the compensation inclusion requirement “makes it even more likely that multi-state employers with remote jobs will exclude Colorado workers from consideration…”

Make it a national requirement.  Problem solved.

Not this Sh%$ Again

France underwent a demographic transition in the late 1700s, with falling birthrates, and France is still here.

The Black Death in the 1300s killed off ½ of Europe’s population, and this was followed by an increase in productivity and standard of living that remains unparalleled to this day.* In fact, we know that the plague hit Poland only because of the skyrocketing wages, and the attempts of ruling elites throughout Europe to suppress those wage increases.

Japan has had falling working age populations for year, but the GDP per working age person has been growing faster than in the United States.  (Total GDP has been growing more slowly though.)

Falling populations are good for most of the population, but because of the laws of supply and demand, it means that the elites have less leverage to keep wages and other remuneration lower, so they do not do as well, so we periodically get hand wringing articles from journals of conventional thought, in this case from the New York Times, suggesting that the end of population growth world wide in the next 50 years or so is an oncoming disaster.

Using American Social Security numbers, if the demographic transition results in an increase in taxes from 7½% to (for example) 15%, but wages increases by 20% because dollars are chasing fewer workers (Supply and Demand, Econ 101), the most people are MUCH better off than they were before.

The only people who lose in this situation are people who employ low wage workers, because they will have to pay higher wages.

My heard bleeds for these ratf%$#s.

*Also, the increase in standard of living led to the adoption of underwear, which led to paper, which led to one of the first information revolutions, but that’s another story.

So Not a Surprise

Members of the National Endowment for Democracy were caught on tape claiming credit for the Belarus protests, which have generally been represented as internally driven.

So not a surprise.  The NED was created by William Casey to allow elements of the US State Security Apparatus to engege in regime change activities without supervision by civilian authorities.

Yes, I know, RT is the source, but they have it on tape:

A pair of notorious Russian pranksters posing as leading Belarusian opposition figures have duped the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) into revealing the extent of US involvement in Eastern European political movements.

In a video call posted on the online channel of pranksters Vovan and Lexus, senior representatives of the American agency disclosed that they have actively financed and supported anti-government campaigns in the region. The officials from the NED, which is funded by Congress and describes its role as “supporting freedom around the world,” also revealed that they are coordinating efforts with prominent political activists in a range of countries, including Russia.


During the call, Nina Ognianova, who oversees the NED’s work with local groups in Belarus, outlined the wide-ranging programs the agency bankrolls in the country, insisting that “a lot of the people who have been trained by these hubs, who have been in touch with them and being educated, being involved in their work, have now taken the flag and started to lead in community organizing.

Ognianova claimed that, through this work, the NED played a role in igniting the colossal street protests that rocked Belarus after long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko declared victory in the country’s presidential election last August. The opposition and many international observers say the vote was rigged in his favor, and tens of thousands took to the streets for demonstrations each weekend after the election.


The comments are likely to add fuel to Lukashenko’s previous controversial claims that the widespread domestic opposition to his government is being stoked from abroad.

Gee, you think? 

On a more serious note, allowing jokers from the CIA and other TLA acronym organizations to dictate US foreign policy without any civilian oversight is worse than a crime, it is a mistake.

This Ain’t Rocket Science

Specifically, supplying oxygen to fighter pilots has been a known quantity for well over 50 years, but somehow or other, Lockheed-Martin has been able unable to make this work on the F-35.

NASA has done a study, and found that the Joint Strike Fighter has problems not shared with other aircraft using onboard oxygen generate systems.

The F-35 office had declared this a tempest in a tea pot, which is typical for them:

Between 2011 and 2017, more than a dozen U.S. Air Force F-35 pilots reported experiencing oxygen-deprivation symptoms. NASA has obtained new information that may help solve the mystery behind these physiological episodes and wants to study the issue more deeply. But the F-35 Joint Program Office is disputing the findings.

The recently released—but not widely circulated—report from the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) pinpoints a lag time between the pilot’s breathing pattern and the aircraft’s life-support system, due to differences between mask pressure and line pressure. It is the first independent review focused on the hypoxia-like episodes reported by pilots in the Lockheed Martin F-35 for more than a decade.


The NESC’s work builds on a 2017 report that assessed pilots’ physiological episodes in other fighter aircraft (AW&ST March 28-April 10, 2016, p. 23). That study was driven by a congressional mandate to the U.S. Navy to conduct an independent review of the episodes in Boeing F/A-18 and T-45 aircraft going back to 2009. But the mandate did not cover the F-35. The new report is part of a larger pilot-breathing assessment that includes F/A-18 and F-15D data using CRU-103 or CRU-60 breathing gear. 


But the F-35 data set, the first of its kind, was subsequently embargoed by the Air Force, and the NASA team had to wait about a year for the service to release pilot–breathing data for independent analysis. F-35 pilots admitted in interviews with the NESC that information about breathing problems had been suppressed over concerns about protecting the program.

Bottom line:  The Pentagon wants its over-priced and under-performing mistake jet, and if a few pilots have to experience suffocation, it’s a small price to pay.

Chile: 1 — Chilean Elites: 0

Chile held elections for a constitutional assembly to rewrite their constitution this week, and it was a disaster for the right wing, where they failed to come even close to getting the ⅓ necessary to block changes to the constitution.

Hopefully, the privileged position of the military, indigenous rights, a completely dysfunctional pension system, elector reforms, the role of the Catholic Church, and taxation will be addressed.

It’s likely that what emerges will be better than what brutal dictator Agusto Pinochet forced on the nation, but that’s an awfully low bar.

Now I Understand the Full Court Press against AMLO

There has been a steady drum beat of accusations against Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in places like the New York Times.

My assumption is that AMLO is taking actions that generally favors the “Have Nots” over the “Haves”, and this is why we see alarm from the usual suspects.

I haven’t followed this closely, but his recent decision to replace the Bank of Mexico governor with one who favors people over finance is a very good indicator of where he intends to go:

President López Obrador said Friday that he will replace the current central bank governor with an economist who supports a “moral economy” — an economy in which the well-being of everyone is prioritized over the wealth of the few.

Speaking at his regular news conference, López Obrador said he won’t nominate current Bank of México Governor Alejandro Díaz de León for a second term after it concludes at the end of November.

López Obrador, a fierce critic of the neoliberal economic policies he says were implemented by successive governments during the 36 years preceding his arrival in the National Palace, said he would instead nominate an economist with “a lot of prestige” who is better attuned to Mexico’s social needs.

How Convenient

Is anyone surprised that, the guards on duty when Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in prison, will serve no jail time in a deal that they cut with prosecutors?

If they got jail time, maybe they might say something ……… inconvenient:

The two Bureau of Prisons workers tasked with guarding Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself in a New York jail have admitted they falsified records, but they will skirt any time behind bars under a deal with federal prosecutors, authorities said Friday.

The prison workers, Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, were accused of sleeping and browsing the internet instead of monitoring Epstein the night he took his own life in August 2019.

They were charged with lying on prison records to make it seem as though they had made required checks on the financier before he was found in his cell. New York City’s medical examiner ruled Epstein’s death a suicide.

As part of the deal with prosecutors, they will enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department and will serve no time behind bars, according to a letter from federal prosecutors that was filed in court papers Friday. Noel and Thomas would instead be subjected to supervised release, would be required to complete 100 hours of community service and would be required to fully cooperate with an ongoing probe by the Justice Department’s inspector general, it says.

I’m SO sure that the investigation of Epstein’s death is going to be scrupulous and extensive.

Why Cap and Trade Sucks

At the core of Cap and Trade carbon controls is trading of tax credits, and the creation and trading of tax credits is a function which actively encourages fraudulent behavior. 

Case in point is the Massachusetts Audubon Society, which announced its intention to log thousands of acres that it was preserving in western Massachusetts so that it could then sell credits for not chopping down the trees.

Of course, it never actually intended to chop down these cheese, this was just a way to create carbon credits that had no basis in reality, and then sell them to polluting business, with no actual reduction in emissions.

In addition to the Mass Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy is notorious for its sale of meaningless carbon offsets:

The Massachusetts Audubon Society has long managed its land in western Massachusetts as crucial wildlife habitat. Nature lovers flock to these forests to enjoy bird-watching and quiet hikes, with the occasional bobcat or moose sighting.

But in 2015, the conservation nonprofit presented California’s top climate regulator with a startling scenario: It could heavily log 9,700 acres of its preserved forests over the next few years.

The group raised the possibility of chopping down hundreds of thousands of trees as part of its application to take part in California’s forest offset program.

Spoiler, the never intended to log this land.  They are engaging in a humbug.

The environmental organization has become a bunch of snollygosters.


The Air Resources Board accepted Mass Audubon’s project into its program, requiring the nonprofit to preserve its forests over the next century instead of heavily logging them. The nonprofit received more than 600,000 credits in exchange for its promise. The vast majority were sold through intermediaries to oil and gas companies, records show. The group earned about $6 million from the sales, Mass Audubon regional scientist Tom Lautzenheiser said.

On paper, the deal was a success. The fossil fuel companies were able to emit more CO2 while abiding by California’s climate laws. Mass Audubon earned enough money to acquire additional land for preservation, and to hire new staff working on climate change.

But it didn’t work out as well for the climate, unless Mass Audubon actually intended to start acting more like a timber company. The project wouldn’t achieve anywhere near the claimed levels of reduced carbon emissions if the nonprofit was getting credits for forests that were never in danger of aggressive logging. And every time a polluter uses a credit that didn’t actually save a ton of carbon, net emissions go up, undermining the point of the program.


New research by the San Francisco nonprofit CarbonPlan provides evidence that this is occurring: It shows that landowners in the program routinely maximize the number of trees they assert they could chop down if they weren’t given carbon credits, even if they have little history of logging or have mission statements in sharp opposition to such practices.

The research suggests the program could be significantly exaggerating the amount of carbon savings achieved.

The nearly universal pattern we see in the data,” said Danny Cullenward, policy director at CarbonPlan and a coauthor of the study, corroborates concerns that “those projects are not delivering real climate benefits.”

(emphasis mine)

If you have direct tax on carbon, you eliminate this sort of fraud, what’s more you can treat the carbon tax in the same way that a value added tax is, and refund upon export, and charge upon import, so as to make sure that bad actors on global warming don’t get an effective subsidy for that bad behavior.

Consider the Source

The New York Times editorial board is a font of conventional thinking. (Note that I did not say, “Wisdom.”)

You won’t find bold new or visionary ideas, but it is a good marker of where the conventional, “Wisdom,” is going, so their OP/ED calling for the end of qualified immunity for police officers might be an indication of a sea change in the elite consensus:

When a Minneapolis jury last month convicted the former police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd on May 25, 2020, many Americans celebrated. At last, a moment of accountability, if not quite justice, in the face of persistent police brutality.

But for all the justified relief at the verdict, a troubling reality lurks: Had Mr. Chauvin not been criminally prosecuted — as the vast majority of police who kill in the line of duty are not — he may well have faced no consequences at all.


Qualified immunity arose out of an 1871 civil rights law that made government officials, including police officers, financially liable for violating a person’s constitutional rights. In a series of rulings starting in the late 1960s, the Supreme Court decided that an officer is immune from liability unless it can be shown that he or she broke “clearly established” law in the process. The burden is on the plaintiff to make this showing, and the bar is absurdly high: If no other court has previously ruled in a case involving an essentially identical set of facts, the law is determined to be not “clearly established.”

Examples of courts splitting hairs to give a pass to even egregious misconduct abound: the prison guard who pepper-sprayed an inmate in the face “for no reason at all”; the officer who fired at a nonthreatening dog and missed, accidentally hitting a 10-year-old child lying nearby on the ground; the officers who stole $225,000 in cash and rare coins while executing a search warrant; the officer who shot a 14-year-old boy after he had dropped a BB gun and raised his hands.

“I don’t think there’s any serious argument but that the qualified immunity doctrine as it currently exists is completely off the rails,” said Barry Friedman, a law professor at New York University and a founder of the Policing Project, which aims to give the general public a role in shaping law enforcement policy. “It makes no sense whatsoever and gives police officers far more leeway than they ought to have.”

In short, it’s hard to see what is qualified about qualified immunity.


In practice, qualified immunity has become what Justice Sonia Sotomayor has called an “absolute shield” that “tells officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished.”

The court has also expressed the concern that individual cops will be bankrupted by judgments. This simply doesn’t happen. To the contrary, governments virtually always foot the bill for police wrongdoing. One study found that officers personally paid only .02 percent of the dollars that plaintiffs were awarded.


Ending or curtailing qualified immunity would not be a cure-all for police brutality. By the time it becomes an issue, the harm has already been done. While holding people and departments accountable is important, it’s even more important to ensure that the harm doesn’t occur in the first place. “Police misconduct is often a systemic problem. These are not just bad apples but bad barrels,” said Joanna Schwartz, a law professor at U.C.L.A. who studies police misconduct. “We should be thinking about how to reduce the harm, not just pay people.”


The more immediate solution is legislative. Congress is currently considering the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a far-reaching bill addressing racial discrimination and excessive force by law enforcement officers. One provision would eliminate the “clearly established” defense and prevent cops from relying on their own belief that their conduct was lawful. Unfortunately, that has become the bill’s main sticking point, as most Republicans have sided with police unions in opposing any liability for individual officers.


If the rule of law means anything, it means that those sworn to enforce it should not be above it.

The current state of policing int he United States is needlessly corrupt and brutal. 

It must be reformed, and many, if not most, of its current members need to removed.

He is an Evil Son of a Bitch

I am referring to Charles Koch, who has been lobbying for increased evictions relaxed regulations while investing in real estate.

The famously Libertarian Koch, whose family fortune came from selling energy technology to Stalin, is engaging in a classic case of rent seeking behavior, basically being a leech on society by the definition of Ayn Rand (יִמַּח שְׁמו) who Charles Koch is a big fan of.

I guess it’s capitalism for thee and socialism for me from him:

Billionaire Charles Koch’s foundation has bankrolled three conservative legal groups leading the court battle to eliminate prohibitions against tenant evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic in America.

At the same time, Koch’s corporate empire has suddenly stepped up its real estate purchases during the pandemic – including making large investments in real estate companies with a potential financial interest in eliminating eviction restrictions.


But since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Koch Industries has been plowing money into real estate.

In March this year, the Wall Street Journal published a report headlined Charles Koch Is Betting Big on Distressed Real Estate. The paper reported that the billionaire’s corporate conglomerate “is emerging as a major real-estate investor during the pandemic, using its robust cash reserves to buy properties at beaten-down prices and betting on a longer-term recovery”.

I might suggest that Mr. Koch arrange for burial at see when he passes on, because the line to piss on his grave would be awfully long otherwise.

The Arizona “Vote Audit” Gets Even More F%$#ed Up

It turns out that Maricopa County may have to trash all of its voting machines as a result of the Cyber Ninjas clown show.

There are requirements that voting authorities maintain control of their voting equipment, and this has been a fairly clear violation of these regulations.

Luckily for county authorities, the bill that passed the state house authorizing this bad guerilla theater vote audit puts the state on the hook for all the costs involved:

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told Maricopa County officials in a letter on Thursday that her office may not allow the county to reuse hundreds of vote-counting machines that the county gave the state Senate for its general election audit.

The county broke the chain of custody, or the procedures for properly securing and tracking the machines, when it was required to give the machines to the state Senate under subpoenas, Hobbs wrote in a May 20 letter to the county’s Board of Supervisors, Recorder and Elections Department director.

Hobbs said she consulted with officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who said the machines shouldn’t be used again because there is no way to fully determine whether the machines were tampered with while out of the county’s custody.

Hobbs wrote that if the county tries to use the machines again, even if it performs a full analysis in an attempt to determine whether the machines were still safe to use, her office would “consider decertification proceedings.” In Arizona, voting systems must be certified to be used in elections.

Replacing the machines would cost the county millions. But the Senate signed an agreement with the county that said the county is not liable for any damages to the equipment while in the Senate’s custody, so it’s unclear whether the county would be on the hook for the costs.

The county leases its voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems under a three-year, $6.1 million agreement that runs through December 2022.

Dump the old machines, and use hand marked publicly counted paper ballots.

It won’t cost you any money, it’s all on the state, and you will end up with a more secure system.