Tag: Bureaucracy

Of Course They Did

The Federal Communications Commission’s broadband data dramatically underestimates the number of Americans without access to home Internet service, a new study has found. The actual number of people lacking home-broadband access is about twice as high as the FCC estimate, the study found.

The FCC has said that 21.3 million Americans live in areas without access to fixed broadband with 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds. But FCC data is widely known to be flawed, because it counts an entire census block as served even if only one home in the census block can get service. Census blocks have an average of 4,000 residents.

The real number of Americans without access to wired or fixed wireless broadband is 42.8 million, slightly more than double the FCC estimate, according to the study released yesterday. The study was conducted by BroadbandNow, a company that provides an online tool for checking broadband availability.

The free market mousketeers at the FCC are desperate to show that their policy of subsidies without accountability to the likes of Verizon, Comcast/Xfinity, Frontier, CenturyLink, AT&T, and Satan* will create a broadband utopia.

It’s bullsh%$, of course, which is why the US has the poorest performing and the most expensive internet service in the world, but this is an ideological position, not a fact based one.

Good Point

Ian Welsh has a very interesting analysis of the US policy of assassinations targeting leaders of organizations hostile to American interests.

Specifically, he notes that it doesn’t work, think about how many Taliban #2s have been drones, but we continue.

His conclusion, one I wholeheartedly agree with, is that assassination of leaders does not work to stop properly functioning organizations, and that the reason that we continue to use this strategy is because US institutions are fundamentally dysfunctional, where the loss of a leader can put the whole organization at risk:

The assassination strategy the US pursues is interesting, not in what it says about the US’s foes, but what it says about the American leaders. Al-Qaeda’s “No. 2 Man” has been “killed” so often that it’s a running joke, and Taliban leadership is regularly killed by assassination. Bush did this, Obama really, really did this. Probably a lot of these stories are BS, but it’s also probably safe to assume that a lot of leadership has been killed.

The Taliban is still kicking the coalition’s ass.

Leadership isn’t as big a deal as people make it out to be–IF you have a vibrant organization in which people believe. New people step up, and they’re competent enough. Genius leadership is very rare, and a good organization doesn’t need it, though it’s welcome when it exists. As long as the organization knows what it’s supposed to do (kick Americans out of Afghanistan), and everyone’s motivated to do that, leadership doesn’t need to be especially great, but it will be generally competent, because the people in the organization will make it so.

American leaders are obsessed with leadership because they lead organizations in whose goals no one believes. Or rather, they lead organizations for whom everyone knows the leadership doesn’t believe in its ostensible goals. Schools are led by people who hate teachers and want to privatize schools to make profit. The US is led by men who don’t believe in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Police are led by men who think their jobs are to protect the few and beat down the many, not to protect and serve. Corporations make fancy mission statements and talk about valuing employees and customers, but they just want to make a buck and will fuck anyone, employee or customer, below the C-suite. They don’t have a “mission” (making money is not a mission, it’s a hunger if it’s all you want to do); they are parasites and they know it. [I would add that our military works toward getting retired generals comfortable sinecures at Lockheed Martin]

Making organizations work if they’re filled with people who don’t believe in the organization, or who believe that the “leadership” is only out for themselves and has no mission beyond helping themselves, not even enriching the employees or shareholders, is actually hard. People don’t get inspired by making the C-suite rich. Bureaucrats, knowing they are despised and distrusted by their political counterparts, and knowing that they aren’t allowed to do their ostensible jobs, as with the EPA generally not being allowed to protect the environment, the DOJ not being allowed to prosecute powerful monied crooks, and the FDA being the slave of drug companies and the whims of politically-connected appointees, are hard to move, hard to motivate, making it hard to get to anyone to do anything but the minimum.

So American leaders, and indeed the leaders of most developed nations, think they’re something special. in fact, getting people to do anything is difficult, and convincing people to do the wrong thing, when they joined to actually teach, protect the environment, make citizens healthier, or actually prosecute crooks, even more so. Being a leader in the West, even though it comes with virtually complete immunity for committing crimes against humanity, violating civil rights, or stealing billions from ordinary citizens, is, in many respects, a drag. A very, very well-paying drag, but a drag. Very few people have the necessary flexible morals and ability to motivate employees through the coercion required.

So American leaders, in specific, and Westerners, in general, think that organizations will fall apart if the very small number of people who can actually lead, stop leading. But that’s because they think that leading the Taliban, say, is like leading an American company or the American government. They think it requires a soulless prevaricator who takes advantage of and abuses virtually everyone and is still able to get people to, reluctantly, do their jobs.

Functioning organizations aren’t like that. They suck leadership upwards. Virtually everyone is being groomed for leadership and is ready for leadership. They believe in the cause, they know what to do, they’re involved. And they aren’t scared of dying, if they really believe. Oh sure, they’d rather not, but it won’t stop them from stepping up.

This not only explains the failure of our assassination policy, it explains the failure of our business, politics, and military.

What we are seeing (taken from the comments to Mr. Welsh’s post) is that our managers are Ayn Rands John Galt made flesh.

Oh Snap!

Donald Trump’s stacked environmental science review panel just reported that the White House’s rollback of environmental regulations lacks proper justification:

A top panel of government-appointed scientists, many of them hand-selected by the Trump administration, said on Tuesday that three of President Trump’s most far-reaching and scrutinized proposals to weaken major environmental regulations are at odds with established science.

Draft letters posted online Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board, which is responsible for evaluating the scientific integrity of the agency’s regulations, took aim at the Trump administration’s rewrite of an Obama-era regulation of waterways, an Obama-era effort to curb planet-warming vehicle tailpipe emissions and a plan to limit scientific data that can be used to draft health regulations.

In each case, the 41 scientists on a board — many of whom were appointed by Trump administration officials to replace scientists named by the Obama administration — found the regulatory changes flew in the face of science.


Legal experts said the advisory body’s opinion could undermine the Trump administration’s rollbacks in the courts. “The courts basically say if you’re going to ignore the advice of your own experts you have to have really good reasons for that,” said Patrick Parenteau, a professor of law with the Vermont Law School. “And not just policy reasons but reasons that go to the merits of what the critiques are saying.”

Many scientists on the advisory board were selected by Trump administration officials early in the administration, as President Trump sought to move forward with an aggressive agenda of weakening environmental regulations. During the first year of the Trump administration, more than a quarter of the academic scientists on the panel departed or were dismissed, and many were replaced by scientists with industry ties who were perceived as likely to be more friendly to the industries that the E.P.A. regulates.

This crew can’t even set up a biased jury right.

It’s both pathetic and reassuring.

Hearts and Minds

The Washington Post has gotten its hands on internal documents that show that the US state security apparatus has been lying about progress in Afghanistan for most of the war.

Gee, that does not sound like the Vietnam war at all.

We are doing the same thing that we did in Vietnam because we learned the wrong lesson from Vietnam.

The lesson that was “learned” was that we “lost” because the American public stopped supporting the war, which makes counter-insurgency primarily an exercise in PR.

It’s a convenient explanation, because it means that there is no accountability for Pentagon officials or members of the military, the American public failed them.

It’s also complete bullsh%$.

The war was lost because the NLF (Viet Cong) and the the NVA beat the US military.

They defined the terms of engagement, and in so doing, they played to their strengths and our weaknesses, just like the Taliban is now.

A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.

The U.S. government tried to shield the identities of the vast majority of those interviewed for the project and conceal nearly all of their remarks. The Post won release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year legal battle.

In the interviews, more than 400 insiders offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare.

With a bluntness rarely expressed in public, the interviews lay bare pent-up complaints, frustrations and confessions, along with second-guessing and backbiting.

To quote (not) Tallyrand, “They have forgotten nothing, and they have learned nothing.”

There needs to be a thorough and independent investigation of how we were defeated in Vietnam Afghanistan, and those who made a dogs breakfast of it need to be called out.

It’s called accountability, and it is all too rare for general officers in the US military.

The Most Evil Bureaucracy in Government

Matt Stoller is on this.

He is talking, of course about one of the (many) misbegotten spawn of the Clinton administration, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) which among other things, literally assigned a price to raping children in prison. (adults too)

This is just one of the abominations, coal ash comes to mind, that these people have been hip deep in:

Today I have a treat for you, an issue of BIG written by an anonymous government lawyer buried deep in the bowels of American bureaucracy. One of the reasons Americans are losing faith in our political institutions is because laws passed by democratically elected officials increasingly don’t matter. One of my favorite regulators, Rohit Chopra at the Federal Trade Commission, said explicitly, as a sort of challenge to the commission, that “FTC orders are not suggestions.”

Of course, laws and regulators that affect the powerful are increasingly suggestions, and that’s why we’re in a political crisis. This anonymous lawyer is going to lay out one of the key institutional mechanisms by which economists and corporate interests wreck our ability to actually have laws take effect once they’ve been passed.

His explanation of how bureaucracy works will show that we should be paying attention this Wednesday to an obscure nomination of a corporate lawyer, Paul J. Ray, to be head of an agency of economists, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA. Because OIRA is where power really lives in Washington. It’ll be interesting to see if any Senators show up; Democratic Presidential nominee Kamala Harris is on the relevant Senate committee.

Why Congress Couldn’t Outlaw Prison Rape

Prison rape is one of the most horrifying and abhorrent practices in American culture. Prison rape is pervasive, a form of soft torture so extensive it is the butt of endless jokes in popular culture (as John Oliver noted in a long segment on how Hollywood jokes about the practice). In 2003, Congress unanimously passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, a bill directing the Attorney General to issue regulations detecting and eliminating prison rape in Federal jails. In 2012, Erich Holder finally did so.

Congress gave discretion to the Attorney General, but because of an obscure regulatory agency, Holder didn’t have the final word. Instead, the Department of Justice was required to conduct an extensive cost-benefit analysis of its proposed rule and submit it to a small group of economists in the White House for their thumbs up on whether the Attorney General would be allowed to finalize the rule.

This group of economists is located in an obscure agency called the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA, staffed at the time by a close friend of Obama, legal legend Cass Sunstein. Most agencies wishing to put out a must draft an extensive Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) detailing the costs and benefits of the rule, justify the need for the rule to OIRA, and make any changes OIRA economists demand. In this instance, technocrats issued a 168-page RIA questioning how much money the rape victims would be willing to pay to avoid rape, or how much they would be willing to accept in exchange for being raped. (The estimates were $310k to $480k for an adult victim, and $675k for a juvenile victim, for the ‘highest’ form of sexual assault.)

In the end, the regulations put forward were cruel and weak, exempting immigration facilities and putting “tight restrictions on inmates who report rape.” It also removed the requirement that prisons actually *do* anything except have a plan to reduce prison rape. Failure to execute on the plan meant they’ll need another plan.


The Regulatory Impact Assessment is here, if you want to to go through the cost/benefit analysis of prison-based sexual assault. Or you can just read a key paragraph, which details the amount it is ‘worth’ per victim.-

They also did their best to stop Congressionally mandated regulations for backup cameras (backing over your own kids), coal ash, favored vapes, etc.

OIRA has the authority to do all of this because of Executive Order 12,866, which was signed by President Clinton in 1993 “to reform and make more efficient the regulatory process.” Every president since Clinton has reaffirmed E.O. 12,866, often with their own “twist;” Obama emphasized that agencies should “consider…values that are difficult or impossible to quantify,” and Trump has put in place a regulatory budget. Regardless (especially since OIRA never took consideration of values impossible to quantify seriously), E.O. 12,866 has the end result of elevating economists above scientists and public health experts and giving economists a veto over all health, safety, and environmental regulations.

This may be worse than Clinton’s crime bill, devastation of the social safety net through “Welfare Reform”, and the repeal of Glass Steagall.

The good news is that OIRA is established by executive order, and so can be shut down by executive order.

Unfortunately, the only candidate likely to do this is Bernie Sanders.

Read the whole article for more horror stories about how OIRA has monetized the public good.

The Computer is Your Friend

Someone was ranting about how HR evaluation software is less accurate than reading the entrails of a recently slaughtered gazelle. (See below, it’s worth the read)

Someone gave me this strategy for getting a human being to look at your resume, and it is brilliant:

So, job seekers, in case no one has told you this:

Always put the job description in tiny white text at the bottom of your resume so the resume scanner software picks you up as a 100% match but it’s imperceptible to the human eye

— Michele Hansen (@mjwhansen) November 14, 2019

Full Twitter thread after the break:

Also this

I Missed This Yesterday

One of the problems with Congressional hearings is that each committee member gets 5 minutes to ask questions, which leads to grand-standing on their part, and filibustering on the part of the witnesses.

It’s one of the reasons that Mueller’s report, which clearly showed obstruction of justice, landed with a wet splat on the public consciousness.

Yesterday’s impeachment investigation resolution makes a serious attempt to fix this:

The House of Representatives voted 232-196 Thursday morning to approve a resolution laying out how public impeachment hearings will be conducted on “whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America.”


The most significant provision in the resolution exempts the Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings from a rule that ordinarily limits questioning of witnesses to five minutes per committee member. Though the resolution leaves the five-minute rule in place for most members, it allows Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff to extend his own question time to as much as 45 minutes, so long as he gives equal time to Republican ranking committee member Devin Nunes.

These are important changes because they will allow Schiff and the team of lawyers working for him to focus their time on the impeachment hearings and to spend significant amounts of time asking probing questions during those hearings. The new rules help ensure that the hearing will not be a disjointed process, constantly jumping from one questioner to the next, without giving anyone time to build a coherent narrative.

The resolution provides that “the chair may confer recognition for multiple periods of such questioning,” so Schiff could potentially spend an indefinite amount of time questioning witnesses if circumstances warrant such an extension.

And, in what could prove to be an especially consequential aspect of this provision, Schiff and Nunes may also delegate their questioning time to “a Permanent Select Committee employee.” That means that professional counsel, who have both the skill set to conduct an effective interrogation and the ability to devote all their time to preparing for hearings, will be able to question witnesses.

These inquiry-specific rules appear to be an acknowledgment that the House’s ordinary rules for committee hearings, which often turn hearings into feasts of grandstanding, are inadequate to the awesome task of impeaching a president.

If only this could be done on a more regular basis.

Aggressive Enforcement of Metrics Lead to Cheating

Ayn Rand style completion works about as well in the healthcare industry as it did at Sears:

On a Thursday morning this past April, 61-year-old Darryl Young was lying unconscious in the eighth-floor intensive care unit of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. After suffering from congestive heart failure for years, Young, a Navy veteran and former truck driver with three children, had received a heart transplant on Sept. 21, 2018. He didn’t wake up after the operation and had been in a vegetative state ever since.

Machines whirred in his room, pumping air into his lungs. Nutrients and fluids dripped from a tube into his stomach. Young had always been fastidious, but now his hair and toenails had grown long. A nurse suctioned mucus from his throat several times a day to keep him from choking, according to employees familiar with his care. His medical record would note: “He follows no commands. He looks very encephalopathic” — brain damaged.

That day, in another wing of the hospital, where a group of surgeons, cardiologists, transplant coordinators, nurses and social workers gathered for their weekly meeting in a second-floor conference room, his name came up.

“Anything on Darryl Young?” asked cardiologist Dr. Darko Vucicevic, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by ProPublica.


The recordings show that the transplant team was fixated on keeping him alive, rather than his quality of life or his family’s wishes, because of worries about the transplant program’s survival rate, the proportion of people undergoing transplants who are still alive a year after their operations. Federal regulators rely on this statistic to evaluate — and sometimes penalize — transplant programs, giving hospitals across the country a reputational and financial incentive to game it. Newark Beth Israel’s one-year survival rate for heart transplants had dipped, and if Young were to die too soon, the program’s standing and even its own survival might be in jeopardy.

June 30, Zucker explained at the meeting, was the date of the next report by a federally funded organization that tracks transplant survival rates. “If he’s not dead in this report, even if he’s dead in the next report, it becomes an issue that moves out six more months,” he said in the recording.


In the ensuing months, the doctors continued to leave Young’s family in the dark, according to his sister Andrea and employees familiar with Young’s care. They didn’t want to run any risk that the people who loved him would interfere with their agenda: boosting the program’s numbers. “I’m not sure that this is ethical, moral or right,” Zucker told the team at the April meeting, but it’s “for the global good of the future transplant recipients.”


Arthur Caplan, head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine, reviewed transcripts of the recordings, including discussions about Young. “The management of this patient is egregiously unethical,” he said. “Prolonging ‘dying’ to preserve a flawed transplant program makes a mockery of transplant medicine and is an assault on both ethics and compassion.”

This is unalloyed evil, and everyone who knew of it, and refused to report it, should be banned from the practice of medicine forever.

About the 737 MAX………

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has issued a report saying that FAA inspectors for the 737 MAX were not qualified:

A whistleblower has claimed America’s Federal Aviation Administration misled investigators checking whether FAA personnel were fully qualified to sign off Boeing 737 Max training standards.

A letter published by the US Office of the Special Counsel (OSC) claims that the FAA had contradicted itself in statements it made about air safety inspectors’ (ASIs’) qualifications and their competence to sign off crucial Boeing 737 Max training standards and materials.

Potentially, a whistleblower told the OSC – essentially a federal watchdog – 11 out of 17 ASIs working for the FAA’s Seattle-based Air Evaluation Group either did not have the right classroom training or the required on-the-job training to perform their duties correctly.

The allegations will pour fuel on the fire burning under Boeing’s 737 Max and its controversial MCAS software system, which was sneakily included in the new airliner in such a way that it could take control from the pilots in a way which wasn’t obvious to them to avoid a stall.

I think that recertification of the 737 MAX is going to be a lot more difficult than Boeing envisions, because neither the EU nor China are going to take the FAA’s word on this.

The Worst Member of the Trump Administration

I know that this is a target rich environment, but Wilbur Ross, who just threatened to fire people at NOAA for reporting the weather accurately, is high up on any list:

The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at the federal scientific agency responsible for weather forecasts last Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that Friday by the agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, disavowing the National Weather Service’s position that Alabama was not at risk. The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew accusations from the scientific community that the National Weather Service, which is part of NOAA, had been bent to political purposes.

NOAA’s statement on Friday is now being examined by the Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times, and employees have been asked to preserve their files. NOAA is a division of the Commerce Department.


The Commerce Department disputed the account on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur L. Ross Jr. “Secretary Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane Dorian,” the department said in a statement issued by a spokesman.


The accusations against Mr. Ross are the latest developments in a political imbroglio that began more than a week ago, when Dorian was bearing down on the Bahamas and Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Ala., posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”


Mr. Ross, the commerce secretary, intervened two days later, early last Friday, according to the three people familiar with his actions. Mr. Ross phoned Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president.

Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode.


Craig N. McLean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, sent an email to staff members Monday notifying the agency that he was looking into “potential violations” in the agency’s decision to ultimately back Mr. Trump’s statements rather than those of its own scientists. He called the agency’s action “a danger to public health and safety.”


Richard Hirn, general counsel for the National Weather Service Employees Organization, said what made the NOAA episode extraordinary, though, was that it was not part of an overarching policy dispute on a contentious topic like climate change. “This is just to cover up an embarrassing mistake the president made,” he said.

Mr. Hirn, who said he has worked with the agency through six administrations, added that, “Never before has anybody tried to politicize the weather in all the administrations I’ve worked with.”

Seriously, impeach Ross, and then go after Donald Trump.

F%$# that, just impeach Trump.

Poster Child for Lack of Moral Standing

I am referring to the organization generally known as the US Olympic Committee (It’s actually the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee).

They have gotten their panties in a bunch because athletes have used the medal awards ceremonies to protest issues of racism and law enforcement misconduct.

Some have kneeled, some have used an outstretched fist, and not the OSOC is threatening sanctions.

This is an organization that covered up the sexual abuse of Larry Nassar,  was complicit in corruption at the 2002 winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and was the proximate or contributing cause of dozens of other scandals.

F%$# them.  They  have no moral standing whatsoever to claim to be guardians of the Olympics or of the Olympic ideal.

Recognizing Reality

The Code of Conduct for Federal Judges has been changed, and it appears that it will prohibit sitting judges from attending Federalist Society events:


For anyone concerned about the unseemly mingling of politics and the judiciary, a little-noticed formal ethics opinion issued in February by the committee responsible for the Code of Conduct for United States Judges may offer hope.

Judges are bound by the Code of Conduct, which comprises five canons and associated formal opinions issued by the committee, which provide ethical guidance. Substantial speech and associational restrictions are imposed on active judges to preserve the judiciary’s independence and integrity.


For many years, the Code of Conduct committee ducked the issue of judicial participation in the Federalist Society, in part, it seemed, because many powerful judges (see above) either have been or are associated with the organization.

The committee now appears to have drawn a line with its issuance of advisory opinion No. 116 expanding the scope of prohibited political activity. The Federalist Society is not mentioned by name, but the opinion is directed to the propriety of participation by judges in programs or membership in groups engaged in public-policy debates.

The prohibited political activities include those involving “hot-button issues in current political campaigns” or that are “politically-oriented” or have “political overtones.” Public perception also plays a vital role, as the opinion bars judges from participation that would “give rise to an appearance of engaging in political activity” or “would otherwise give the appearance of impropriety.”

The committee also warned judges that they should stay away from groups “where the funding sources are unknown or likely to be from sources engaged in litigation or political advocacy.” The New York Times noted of the Federalist Society’s 2015 annual report, the organization “discloses who contributes most of its money. But it also takes anonymous contributions, from players including the Mercer family, which was a major backer of Donald Trump.” The annual report listed 14 anonymous donors on the “platinum” level — those giving $100,000 or more.


The expanded definition of prohibited political activity does not endanger the Federalist Society , nor its ability to function as a conduit of conservative ideology for lawyers and academia. It simply makes the continued participation of judges in the organization indefensible.

Sitting judge’s hobnobbing with a partisan group like the Federalist Society has always been indefensible and corrupt.

Now it’s just official.

You Remember That Racist Group that the Border Patrol Management Just “Discovered?

Yet again the old proverb, “A fish rots from the head,” is spot on:

When news broke that thousands of current and former Border Patrol agents were members of a secret Facebook group filled with racist, vulgar, and sexist content, Carla Provost, chief of the agency, was quick to respond. “These posts are completely inappropriate and contrary to the honor and integrity I see — and expect — from our agents day in and day out,” Provost said in a statement. “Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable.”

For Provost, a veteran of the Border Patrol who was named head of the agency in August 2018, the group’s existence and content should have come as no surprise. Three months after her appointment to chief, Provost herself had posted in the group, then known as “I’m 10-15,” now archived as “America First X 2.” Provost’s comment was innocuous — a friendly clapback against a group member who questioned her rise to the top of the Border Patrol — but her participation in the group, which she has since left, raises serious questions.

Provost is one of several Border Patrol supervisors The Intercept has identified as current or former participants in the secret Facebook group, including chief patrol agents overseeing whole Border Patrol sectors; multiple patrol agents in charge of individual stations; and ranking officials in the Border Patrol’s union, who have enjoyed direct access to President Donald Trump. (It is technically possible that someone else posted in the group using the individuals’ accounts.) The group’s existence has already generated at least two investigations from lawmakers and internal Department of Homeland Security oversight bodies.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to the DHS Inspector General’s office last week specifically requesting that investigators examine whether Provost and Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan knew about or had previously addressed the problem of government personnel posting “violent, racist, misogynistic comments and pictures” in the “I’m 10-15” group. 

CBP needs a thorough cleaning, from top to bottom, or, to paraphrase Aliens, “Nuke the entire agency from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.”

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

The headline in American Conservative, :Americans Shocked to Find their Rights Literally Vanish at U.S. Airports,” pretty much says it all.

The article is about how the Department of Homeland Security, CBP, and ICE have asserted that they have the right to search your digital devices without a warrant, probable cause, or access to an attorney.

I seriously need to consider an app that allows people to encrypt their devices and put the decryption key in escrow with your attorney.

Speaking of Law Enforcement Misconduct

You’ve probably read about a secret racist Facebook group that almost half of the members of CBP belonged to.

They did things like posting bigoted memes and jokes about shooting immigrants.

It was a blockbuster when ProPublica revealed this a week ago, and management was shocked, and promised a thorough investigation.

Well, in news that surprise no one,  Customs and Border Protection knew about this for years, and never did anything about it.

When you consider the scope of the Facebook group, particularly when juxtaposed to the gratuitous brutality of the organization, this is not a surprise:

Customs and Border Protection officials have been aware for up to three years that a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents was posting offensive messages — far longer than previously reported.

Border Patrol leadership knew about photos posted to the group as far back as 2016, when agents reported them, according to a current Homeland Security official. The images — several of which were provided to POLITICO — show agents engaging in conduct that includes simulating sex acts and taking selfies while defecating. A former DHS official said he was aware of the Facebook group during the past year.

Neither official knew of any serious punishment ever leveled at members of the Facebook group.

ProPublica reported Monday that comments in the “I’m 10-15” Facebook group posted as recently as last week mocked the death of a 16-year-old detained Guatemalan migrant, made bigoted remarks about throwing a burrito at two Latina congresswomen, and posted obscene and misogynistic illustrations of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The group’s name refers to the code used to signal “aliens in custody.”


But screen shots provided to POLITICO and interviews with the two DHS officials indicate that the agency wasn’t blindsided by ProPublica’s report. Staffers in CBP’s public affairs office monitored the Facebook group over the past year “as a source of intelligence” to see “what people are talking about,” according to the former DHS official.

“We were not talking about ‘10-15’ as a liability or an asset or as an item of concern,” the former official said.


The DHS inspector general’s office — the department’s internal watchdog — has launched an investigation into the recent Facebook posts, officials said Tuesday. 

Nearly half of DHS was in this group.

Anyone who was in this group should have their clearances pulled until it can be shown that there has been no wrongdoing.

Why You Should Never Give to the DCCC, Part Gazillion

The DCCC is still enforcing its blacklist of consultants who work with primary challengers, and they have chosen Dan Lipinski, who is anti-abortion, anti-gay, and who literally inherited his from his father.

Needless to say, this has pissed off a lot of party activists, and I would argue, right thinking people:

Progressive groups are coming to the aid of Marie Newman after at least four consultants dropped her campaign under pressure from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s new policy to cut off vendors working with primary challengers.

Politico reported Friday morning that a consultant had dropped Newman’s campaign as recently as Wednesday. She’s taking a second shot at unseating incumbent Dan Lipinski in Illinois’s 3rd District after she came within 2.2 points of beating him in a 2018 primary. Democracy for America, or DFA, is endorsing Newman and will fundraise for her, a spokesperson for the group told The Intercept. Politico reported that the DCCC was clear with the consultants that if they continued working against Lipinski, their future business with the party would suffer.

The DCCC policy, critics say, will have the effect of protecting white male incumbents defending seats against challengers in an increasingly diverse party. That’s the case with Lipinski, who inherited the seat from his father in 2005 and has retrograde views when it comes to much of the Democratic agenda, including his opposition to marriage equality and abortion rights. He voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the signature legislation House Democratic leaders are trying to save in their campaign against Medicare for All.

While some House Democrats have strongly objected to the DCCC policy, others, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, support it. The DCCC says the policy doesn’t discourage primary challengers and that anyone who wants to run for office can do so without them. The DCCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The DCCC would rather stand with a so-called Democrat who has stood against reproductive, immigrant, and LGBT rights and a $15 minimum wage rather than allow a fair competition and choice for voters,” said Alexandra Rojas, head of Justice Democrats. “The Democratic Party leadership is choosing machine politics over ushering in a new generation of leaders and the fundamental idea of democracy. Dan Lipinski needs to go and Marie came within 1,600 votes of defeating him with progressive support in 2018. We look forward to Marie finishing the job, but have not made a formal endorsement at this time.”

Newman told Politico and confirmed to The Intercept that the two mail firms that dropped her campaign did so specifically because of the DCCC policy implemented by Rep. Cheri Bustos, who chairs the committee. Newman said that a number of consultants unaligned with the DCCC reached out to her on Friday and that she is putting her campaign back together. “It’s tricky,” she told The Intercept. “This has been very expensive for my campaign — it’s cost time and money and effort and frustration, but we’re working through it.


NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsed and heavily backed Newman in 2018. The group’s president reacted angrily to the DCCC’s move against her.

Let me be clear: I have very little use for any consultant supported by the DCCC, I think that they over charge and under perform, but the DCCC creating such a blacklist, and choosing Dan Lipinski as their hill to die on, is really beneath contempt.

Once Again, May Chooses the Stupid Option

Given the clusterf%$# that is Brexit, it’s not surprising that there was someone toiling away in a back office trying to plan for a no-deal scenario.

Well, now that May has been given 6 more months to get nothing done, she has shuttered the office planning for a no-deal.

May is being short sighted and stupid, but I am repeating myself:

Emergency planning for No Deal was called off today after the Brexit delay was written into law.

Civil servants were reportedly told to stand down from urgent meetings meant to ensure the UK is ready to leave the EU without a deal.

The move comes after the Brexit date was moved from April 12 to October 31 following a late-night Brussels summit.

The decision comes as citizens and businesses – including L’Oreal, Tesco and BMW – were continuing to stockpile for No Deal.


Officials had been working around the clock to make sure Britain would not suffer if we crashed out of the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

Government sources today said the work has been put on the back burner now the cliff edge deadline has been pushed back.

A Cabinet source told The Sun: “We’re easing off on the No Deal preparations because it’s not the priority at the moment.

Six more months of incompetence and inaction does not  justify abandoning preparation for the worst case.

Not planning for the worst case scenario on something as potentially disruptive as Brexit is governmental malpractice.

The UN Plans to Set up a Concentration Camp for Rohingya

This sort of sh%$ is why am not a fan of civil society groups.

Between their providing sanctuary for genocidal maniacs in Rwanda, and their agreeing to staff Serbian detention camps in Kosovo, I’ve never been impressed.

I understand the need to provide aid, if you aren’t, then you have no job, but not when it makes you complicit in ethnic cleansing.

I understant the conflict inherent in their role: If they don’t supply aid, they don’t have a job, but the UN proposal to basically maroon Rohingya refugees on a barren and flood prone island int he Bay of Bengal is simply indefensible:

Human rights groups have reacted with horror to reports of United Nations draft plans to help relocate thousands of Rohingya refugees from Bangladeshi camps to a barren, flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal.

A document drawn up this month by the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN’s food aid arm, and seen by Reuters, has revealed how the agency supplied the Bangladeshi government with detailed plans of how it could provide for thousands of Rohingya being transported to the island on a voluntary basis.

Dhaka has long insisted that it is unable cope with the dramatic influx of refugees to camps in Cox’s Bazar since a brutal crackdown by the Burmese military in August 2017, said by UN investigators to have been conducted with “genocidal intent”, prompted some 730,000 Rohingya to flee their homes.

Relocation to the uninhabited, remote island of Bhasan Char has been touted as a solution to chronic overcrowding. But many Rohingya are fearful to go and human rights experts warn that the move to an island made of silt and vulnerable to frequent cyclones could spark another crisis.

The revelation of draft WFP plans, including a timeline and a budget for how the agency and its partners “may facilitate the identification, staging, forward movement, reception, and sustainment of refugees” on Bhasan Char, was met with outrage on Monday.

“What the hell is the WFP thinking? Bangladesh’s plan to move Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char looks like a human rights and humanitarian disaster in the making so UN agencies should be talking about how to stop this ill-considered scheme, not facilitate it,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

This is being complicit in the Myanmar genocide of the Rohingya.