Tag: Incompetence

Closing the Barn Door Before the Cow Leaves

Nevada is is dropping the vote tabulation system that failed so ignominiously in Iowa.

All things considered, I’d go after Shadow, Inc. for a refund:

The Nevada Democratic Party said Tuesday that it will not use the app at the center of the technical difficulties causing delayed results in Iowa’s caucuses.

“NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada on February 22nd,” the state party’s chairman, William McCurdy II, said in a statement. “We will not be employing the same app or vendor used in the Iowa caucus.”

The app was developed by Shadow, a software company in Denver. Representatives for the firm didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Whoever at the DNC decided to push these guys on various state parties should be fired ……… Out of a cannon ……… and into the sun.

Iowa Caucuses Tonight

The vote count has not budged from 1.9% reporting for something like 2 hours.

In 2016, they were at over 90% reporting at this time, but since it appears that they employed the geniuses from the Clinton campaign who f%$#ed up their political models completely, the app is not working well, so the state party is holding results back for, “quality control”.

In reality, they aren’t holding back results for, “quality control.”

In the best case they are holding back for, “Employing blithering idiots to handle critical infrastructure,” and in the worst case, they are holding back results for, “Electoral fraud.”

I guess that we will find out in the morning.

Standings with 1.9% reporting, which means that it’s still a crap shoot are:

  1. Sanders (27.7%)
  2. Warren (25.1%)
  3. Buttigieg (23.8%)
  4. Klobuchar (11.8%)
  5. Biden (11.1%)

No analysis, because the numbers are to preliminary, and too dodgy, reports are that state party officials are verifying by hand, to make any analysis beyond this xkcd cartoon:


Tweet of the Day

Hate to say it but reports claiming US military leaders were “stunned” when our totally normal president took their most extreme suggestion is military PR. Of course they knew it was a possibility, and they were ok with it; otherwise they wouldn’t suggest it to a lunatic.

— Alex Kotch (@alexkotch) January 5, 2020

This take is not completely accurate.

It increasingly seems that there are elements within the Trump administration, the foreign policy establishment, and the state security apparatus who have been doggedly trying to go to war with Iran for decades.

Still, whoever was involved in this decision needs to be named and shamed.

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.

There Is Bad, and There Is Stupid, and Then There Is Pacific Gas & Electric

Even by the standards of for profit utilities, PG&E has an egregiously horrible safety and maintenance record.

Maybe it’s time to consider nationalizing the grid, because PG&E clearly has no interest in doing anything with an even remotely related to maintaining their infrastructure:

PG&E Corp. failed to adequately inspect and maintain its transmission lines for years before a faulty line started the deadliest fire in California history, a state investigation has found.

In a 700-page report detailing the problems that led the Caribou-Palermo transmission line to malfunction on Nov. 8, 2018, sparking the Camp Fire, investigators with the California Public Utilities Commission said they found systemic problems with how the company oversaw the safety of its oldest lines.

State fire investigators had previously determined that PG&E equipment started the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people, and the company hasn’t disputed the findings. But the new report goes well beyond earlier findings, alleging numerous serious violations of state rules for maintaining electric lines and specific problems with upkeep of the transmission line that started the fire.


“The identified shortcomings in PG&E’s inspection and maintenance of the incident tower were not isolated, but rather indicative of an overall pattern of inadequate inspection and maintenance of PG&E’s transmission facilities,” the report by the commission’s safety and enforcement division found.

Investigators also found that PG&E crews hadn’t climbed the tower that malfunctioned and sparked the Camp Fire since at least 2001, a violation of company policy requiring such inspections on towers that have recurring problems.

The whole f%$#ing company needs to be condemned as a public nuisance.

Is Anyone Surprised by This?

Because I see the news that the Keystone Pipeline just had an oil spill of almost ½ million gallons to be profoundly unsurprising.

Trans Canada (or whatever the f%$# they are called these days) has a long history of spills and poor safety practices:

Approximately 383,000 gallons of crude oil have spilled into a North Dakota wetland this week in the latest leak from the Keystone Pipeline, further fueling long-standing opposition to plans for the pipeline network’s extension.

With about half an Olympic swimming pool’s worth of oil covering roughly half an acre, the leak is among the largest in the state, said Karl Rockeman, who directs the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality’s division of water quality. But the spill does not appear to pose an immediate threat to public health, he added, as people do not live nearby and the wetland is not a source of drinking water.

For environmental groups, though, the leak was further evidence that Canada-based pipeline owner TC Energy should not be allowed to build the controversial Keystone XL addition, which would stretch more than 1,000 miles from Alberta into the United States. The Trump administration approved the plan in 2017 after years of protests, but the project was blocked by a federal judge who called for further study on environmental impacts.

“With each one of these major spills that happens on the Keystone pipeline system, it becomes clearer and clearer that this is not safe,” said Doug Hayes, an attorney leading the Sierra Club’s work on Keystone XL. Critics worry about a similar mishap contaminating one of the hundreds of waterways along Keystone XL’s expected path, he said.

This Explains a Lot

It turns out that members of the secret police are extraordinary in their mediocrity:


Autocrats depend on a capable secret police. Anecdotal evidence, however, often characterizes agents as surprisingly mediocre in skill and intellect. To explain this puzzle, this article focuses on the career incentives underachieving individuals face in the regular security apparatus. Low‐performing officials in hierarchical organizations have little chance of being promoted or filling lucrative positions. To salvage their careers, these officials are willing to undertake burdensome secret police work. Using data on all 4,287 officers who served in autocratic Argentina (1975–83), we study biographic differences between secret police agents and the entire recruitment pool. We find that low‐achieving officers were stuck within the regime hierarchy, threatened with discharge, and thus more likely to join the secret police for future benefits. The study demonstrates how state bureaucracies breed mundane career concerns that produce willing enforcers and cement violent regimes. This has implications for the understanding of autocratic consolidation and democratic breakdown.

I’m wondering how this can be more broadly applied to the US state security apparatus.

Thanks, Mark

Hundreds of millions of phone numbers linked to Facebook accounts have been found online.

The exposed server contained more than 419 million records over several databases on users across geographies, including 133 million records on U.S.-based Facebook users, 18 million records of users in the U.K., and another with more than 50 million records on users in Vietnam.

But because the server wasn’t protected with a password, anyone could find and access the database.

Each record contained a user’s unique Facebook ID and the phone number listed on the account. A user’s Facebook ID is typically a long, unique and public number associated with their account, which can be easily used to discern an account’s username.


Some of the records also had the user’s name, gender and location by country.

Seriously, f%$# Zuck.

Karma, Neh?

California authorities issued an arrest warrant for blundering conservative operative Jacob Wohl, who is now due to be arraigned on a felony charge next month, court records show.

As The Daily Beast first reported earlier on Wednesday, Wohl and a former business partner were both wanted on a warrant signed in Riverside County on Aug. 19.

The warrant was recalled after Wohl—best known for a spree of bizarre, half-baked political schemes—appeared in court on Wednesday. He was released on his own recognizance until his Oct. 24 arraignment on a charge of unlawful sale of securities, prosecutors said.

The allegation that Wohl and Johnson unlawfully sold securities centers on one of Wohl’s financial companies, Montgomery Assets. A warrant application filed by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office notes that the three-year statute of limitations on the case was set to expire at the end of August 2019, meaning prosecutors had to file by the end of last month if they wanted to pursue charges.

“In 2016 Jacob Wohl and Matthew Johnson represented themselves as members of a company called Montgomery Assets,” the warrant application reads. “On July 27, 2016 through August 27, 2016 Jacob Wohl and Matthew Johnson offered for sale unqualified securities in violation of California Corporations Code 25110 which has a three year statute of limitations and must be tolled by the issuance of an arrest warrant.”


In November 2018, Wohl teamed up with Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman for a spectacularly failed attempt to concoct a bogus sexual assault smear against then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The pair also attempted to fake a similar allegation against Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, which flopped after The Daily Beast obtained audio of Wohl and Burkman trying to pressure a potential “victim” into making a false allegation against Buttigieg.

In February, Wohl faked a death threat against himself, then reported the bogus crime to Minneapolis police. This summer, a phone number associated with Wohl was used to threaten a former GOP campaign worker, although Wohl denied involvement in the incident.

Never Give to the DNC

There are a number of reasons why not to give to the Democratic National Committee: It is ineffective, DNC Chair Tom Perez is clueless, and it is dominated by political consultants who make their money off the revolving door between the committee and private business.

It doesn’t help that these consultants are over priced and incompetent, otherwise, I would be complaining about President Hillary Clinton.

And now we know that the organization is completely unwilling to take even baby steps toward accountability and competence, because they just nixed an internal committee that would review spending and report to the DNC members who theoretically run the organization:

A proposal to bring unprecedented oversight to the way that the Democratic National Committee spends the billion dollars it raises between presidential elections was rejected by the DNC Rules and Bylaw Committee Tuesday, after a spirited debate highlighting that there is no independent oversight reporting back to the DNC’s 450 members.

The decision did not come without some Rules Committee members saying that the oversight issue was legitimate. But they did not feel that creating a new elected committee to review the DNC’s spending decisions was the best approach. The oversight proposal was the last piece of business from the DNC’s post-2016 Unity Reform Commission recommendations, which sought to heal the party’s internal divides after that cycle.

“I am disappointed,” said Jim Zogby, a longtime DNC member and Arab-American human rights leader, who noted that Tuesday’s proposal was the latest in a series of efforts to introduce greater transparency and oversight before 2020’s election.


“Look, I’ve been a DNC member—this is my 27th year. I was an executive committee member for 16 years. The issue of never seeing the budget, never being able as a member to evaluate the budget, sticks in my craw. I think it should stick in the craw of every member of the body,” he said. “At the end of the day, the ability to know how money is spent, and have some say in it, or, at least, as the [DNC] bylaws call for, to evaluate it, is essential for the governing body of any organization.”


Leone’s last point was referring to the current DNC leadership, under Chair Tom Perez, saying that the party’s spending has been much more transparent and accountable than in previous years. Another objection came from David McDonald, an RBC member from Washington, who said looking retrospectively could distract from current campaigns.

So let me get this straight:  We can’t let the members know how the money is spent, because it might distract from us spending our money in stupid ways.


“The [DNC] chair simply cannot appoint the committee that oversees the finances of the chair and the expenditures that are determined by the chair. That simply makes no sense,” he said. “We would not get into trouble—and we have had trouble—if the Finance Committee… [had had] an oversight committee that can do the due diligence and report back to us, ‘This happened. That happened. This didn’t happen. That didn’t happen. We make these recommendations for the future.’”

The DNC does not want to know when they do stupid things:  It’s how friends and relatives of current DNC staffers make their money, spending on stupid sh%$, and then getting a percentage of their ineffectual advertisement buys.

Corruption is the goal, not an accidental byproduct of incompetence.

Great Job, Nancy

Nancy Pelosi has been putting faux Democrats with a history of recruiting other faux Democrats since she has led the party in the House of Representatives.

I thought that she had truly scraped the bottom of the barrel with Steve Israel, who she literally praised as reptilian, but she has truly screwed the pooch with Cheri Bustos:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is in full-blown turmoil.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) was set to make an unplanned trip to Washington from her district Monday amid an outcry from top black and Latino lawmakers over a lack of diversity in the campaign arm’s senior management ranks.


POLITICO reported last week that black and Hispanic lawmakers are furious with Bustos’ stewardship of the campaign arm. They say the upper echelon of the DCCC is bereft of diversity, and it is not doing enough to reach Latino voters and hire consultants of color. In addition, several of Bustos’ senior aides have left in the first six months of her tenure, including her chief of staff — a black woman — and her director of mail and polling director, both women.

I would note that the complaint here is that the consultants of color aren’t getting the patronage jobs that they deserve.

In response to the outcry, Bustos has agreed to participate in diversity and inclusion training for DCCC employees. An August training had previously been scheduled for just staff.

“Chairwoman Bustos is coming back because she understands how important it is for her to hear from staff directly and to reassure them that we have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion at every level,” said DCCC spokesman Jared Smith.

This is exactly what she said in response to the outrage of her setting up a blacklist for primary challengers.

She promised to listen, but then did nothing.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

“She plans to approve changes to the structure before she leaves town and wants to get staff input as we work to build a stronger DCCC and make sure our team, from senior leadership on down, reflects the full range of diversity that gives the Democratic Party its strength,” Smith added. “She looks forward to reaching out to her colleagues to get their input, address their concerns and update them on the progress we are making.”


The all-staff meeting was “very emotional all around,” according to a committee aide. Multiple employees of the campaign arm got visibly upset and at least one demanded to hear directly from Bustos about the ongoing issues. She was not present.

Of course she wasn’t there.  She does not give a sh%$ what the staff thinks.

Some employees expressed anger during the meeting that the campaign arm’s executive and deputy directors are not people of color. Others complained that only a small number of people of color are in positions reporting directly to Jaslow, contrary to Bustos’ past promises to increase diversity in the senior DCCC ranks.

In addition, DCCC employees worried about how the lingering tensions with Democratic lawmakers would affect the campaign arm’s ability to collect member dues.
One current staffer complained that this is the third issue during Bustos’ tenure that caught employees off guard. The other two were a controversial vendor blacklist and outcry over a planned fundraiser with a Democrat who opposes abortion rights.

She’s a conservative Democrat, she thinks that the only way that Democrats can win is to dog whistle to the Handmaiden’s Tale crowd and racists.

Unfortunately for Nancy Pelosi, Cheri Bustos is too crass, and perhaps too stupid pretend otherwise.

Democratic sources said an all-staff phone call with Bustos on Saturday didn’t go much better. The Illinois Democrat only “briefly” apologized for comments about her family’s racial background that had inflamed some lawmakers and DCCC employees. In response to complaints about the DCCC’s diversity, she has noted that her husband is of Mexican descent, that her children are half-Mexican and that her son is marrying an African-American woman.

Ah, the “Some of my best friends,” stratagem, which never really worked.


Bustos’ senior team did acknowledge anger among staffers that they did not know about the POLITICO article before it published. They promised to have a better internal communication strategy moving forward, according to multiple sources who participated in the call.

Shows that she does not have her staff’s back.


But multiple Democratic sources said they left Saturday’s call feeling like little is actually being done to address the diversity issues that have been simmering for months, or that Bustos understands the totality of the problem.

It’s not about  Bustos understanding anything, she just doesn’t care.

I don’t think that Pelosi cares either beyond the obvious optics.  Otherwise, she would not have appointed Bustos to such a sensitive position.

Bustos is heading the DCCC because Pelosi thinks that she has skills sucking up to rich ratf%$#s.

This has been the only criteria Pelosi has used for decades, and it’s finally biting her in the ass.


If Speaker Pelosi Does Not Want to Use the Congress, I Would like to Borrow It for a Time

In a talk to the Congressional Progressional Caucus, Chuck Schumer revealed that he completely was blindsided by Nancy Pelosi’s capitulation on the immigration bill.

He expected the Speaker to but forward a better bill, and make a reasonable compromise in conference committee, not complete capitulation:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., ventured across the Capitol complex on Tuesday afternoon to meet privately with House members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Schumer’s attendance at a House meeting was unusual, and a handful of CPC members, including Reps. Jared Huffman and Barbara Lee of California, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, took the opportunity to press Schumer on the Senate’s performance during the fight late last month over an emergency spending bill related to the border crisis.

House Democrats broadly considered the Senate bill to be far too weak, handing President Donald Trump billions of dollars with no real requirements that the federal government improve conditions at the camps where migrants are concentrated. Many House Democrats worried that, under the Senate bill, Trump would be able to siphon money away from humanitarian relief toward policing migrants. The House, in response, passed an alternative bill that mandated that contractors improve conditions or lose contracts. The Senate took up a vote on the House bill and rejected it, instead sending its own version over to the House.


Schumer, in response to questions, told the Progressive Caucus members that the Senate had always expected the House to pass a stronger bill, after which the two chambers would negotiate a compromise — either informally or through a conference committee. Instead, House leaders simply waved through the Senate bill without letting him know they planned to cave. Schumer “truly didn’t expect the House to pass the Senate bill unamended,” said one person in the room — a recollection that was confirmed by multiple others.

“He said he was surprised the House didn’t ask for a conference committee. It could have,” said another member in the room. “But he also gave a somewhat lame answer on Senate Dems actions.”


The House bill, which was strengthened after negotiations with the CPC, required detention center contractors to meet certain humane conditions or have their contracts revoked, among other mandates. That bill passed the House but failed in the Senate, and House leaders have blamed the lopsided Senate vote against the House version as forcing their hand.

The House still had the opportunity to move to conference, but elected not to do so. Schumer’s analysis maps with that of Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., who made a similar point at the Netroots Nation conference last week. “The complete assumption on the Senate side was that Speaker Pelosi would take it to conference, and she didn’t,” said Merkley.

Seriously, Pelosi is not even trying any more.

Clapping ironically and hippie punching does not make a political leader.

Maybe California Rate Payers Should Burn Them to the Ground

The Wall Street Journal has revealed that Pacific Gas and Electric has systematically short changed its maintenance and infrastructure obligations for years, and the federal judge tasked with overseeing the utility is less than amused.

So are everyone else in the Golden State:

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a major story based on extensive Freedom of Information Act disclosures, providing evidence of PG&E’s systematic, willful neglect not just of maintenance but even of inspections of its transmission lines, despite knowing full well that their decrepit state constituted a serious fire risk. At least some officials appear to have labored under the misapprehension that making a point of not knowing about the condition of many of their assets would somehow absolve them of responsibility.

The raw facts are appalling and led a judge tasked to monitor PG&E after past safety violations to demand answers, pronto. From a Wall Street Journal story mere hours after it broke its account about the PG&E’s willful negligence:

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered PG&E Corp. to respond, “on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis,” to a Wall Street Journal article that said the company has failed to upgrade hundreds of miles of high-voltage power lines despite knowing they could fail and spark wildfires.

William Alsup, a U.S. district court judge in Northern California, is overseeing PG&E’s probation after the company was convicted of safety-related violations following a natural-gas explosion that killed eight people in 2010. After an online version of the article was published Wednesday, he gave the company until July 31 to file a “fresh, forthright statement owning up to the true extent of the Wall Street Journal report” not to exceed 40 double-spaced pages.

“In the past, the offender has responded to some of the Court’s questions by filing thousands of records and leaving it to the judge to find the needles in the haystacks,” the judge wrote.

Now to the account that got Judge Alsup so riled up. From the Journal:

The failure last year of a century-old transmission line that sparked a wildfire, killed 85 people and destroyed the town of Paradise wasn’t an aberration, the documents show. A year earlier, PG&E executives conceded to a state lawyer that the company needed to process many projects, all at once, to prevent system failures—a problem they said could be likened to a “pig in the python.”

Even before November’s deadly fire, the documents show, the company knew that 49 of the steel towers that carry the electrical line that failed needed to be replaced entirely.

In a 2017 internal presentation, the large San Francisco-based utility estimated that its transmission towers were an average of 68 years old. Their mean life expectancy was 65 years. The oldest steel towers were 108 years old.

Even as fire risks increased starting in 2013 due to sustained droughts, it kept putting off upgrading its oldest transmission lines. But at least as bad is that PG&E was grossly, one might even say deliberately, ignorant of the state of its network. How can you be in the business of operating a network and not have basic information about its historical and current condition?

You know, this might be a good time for people to start collecting signatures to repeal the bill that the utilities pushed through making it harder for municipal and state takeovers more difficult.

Unions Behaving Badly

Uber and Lyft have already lost the suit and are now required to treat their employees as, well, employees, and there a bill was passed further extending this, but the SEIU is allying itself with the Gypsy cab companies to roll back these protections.

I guess that they think that getting some dues trumps the rights of workers that they are pretending to represent.

California’s labor movement recently seemed on the verge of a new era for worker rights. A state court ruled that workers in the gig economy should have many of the protections of employment, like a minimum wage and overtime pay. And the State Assembly passed a bill codifying that ruling and adding more protections.

But any celebration was premature. Behind the scenes, a few large unions had been meeting with the giants of the ride-hailing industry, Uber and Lyft, to discuss a way to exempt drivers from full employment protections, according to union and industry officials. The talks have created deep rancor within the labor ranks and set unions against one another.

Exempting Uber and Lyft from classifying drivers as employees would provide huge savings in labor costs and allow the companies to avert what could be an existential threat to their business.

In return, Uber and Lyft — which currently classify drivers as contractors — have publicly proposed to recognize a labor organization that would represent drivers’ interests on certain issues. The companies have also discussed providing drivers with benefits like retirement saving and paid time off and setting certain pay standards.

At a meeting of union officials within the last two weeks, the executive director of the California council of the Service Employees International Union, one of the unions in discussions with Uber and Lyft, put forth a proposal along these lines, according to two people who attended the meeting.

But on a conference call on Friday with the executive director, Alma Hernández, and several S.E.I.U. officials in California, one of the union’s national leaders, Heather Conroy, appeared to reject the idea, according to a person on the call. Ms. Conroy said the union supported full employee status, including the California bill that would enshrine it.

The change in the S.E.I.U.’s apparent openness to exploring less than full employment status comes amid considerable opposition to the idea both inside and outside the union. One local in California, the United Healthcare Workers West, has threatened to oppose such a proposal publicly, according to the union’s president, Dave Regan.

In mid-June, Héctor Figueroa, the head of a large S.E.I.U. local in New York, wrote of a similar proposal, “Collective bargaining without a minimum wage, which is what this would be, means that we are forced to bargain for what should already be rightfully ours.” Mr. Figueroa also criticized the companies’ attempt at negotiating a “back-room deal” in California.

David Huerta, the president of the United Service Workers West, an S.E.I.U. local in California, said in a statement, “Neither Alma nor S.E.I.U. have ever pushed forward anything that would take away employee status for gig workers or advocate for independent contractor status for any gig worker.” Mr. Huerta said he has attended internal and external meetings about gig workers with Ms. Hernández.


“We won a court case that gave workers rights,” said Cesar Diaz, the political and legislative director for the State Building and Construction Trades Council. “To cut some kind of deal that takes away rights, that is not what labor unions are about.” Mr. Diaz said that any move to include exemptions in the legislation could open the door to denying full employment protections to workers in other sectors.

In its 2018 decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that workers should be considered employees if they perform a task that’s part of the “usual course” of a company’s business. Most legal experts concluded that driving was central to Uber’s business and that drivers must be considered employees under the ruling, said Veena Dubal, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

This May, the state’s Assembly passed a bill that would extend the ruling in certain respects and limit it in others. The court ruling applied mainly to minimum wage and overtime laws, while the legislation, Assembly Bill 5, would apply to all aspects of employment, including unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation and paid sick days. At the same time, the bill exempted certain high-paying professions from the Supreme Court ruling, such as doctors and real estate agents.


In July, the State Senate will hold hearings on the measure. Legislators working with Uber and Lyft could attach an exemption for drivers or write separate legislation to do so.

Despite the S.E.I.U.’s insistence that it supports the bill and full employment status for drivers, the union appears willing to continue negotiating with Uber and Lyft. It has created what it calls a “national bargaining committee to provide national leadership on the negotiations” with the companies, according to an email dated June 21 from Ms. Conroy, an executive vice president of the union, that was reviewed by The New York Times.


To fight their legislative battle in California, Uber and Lyft have resorted to a longstanding tactic: trying to mobilize drivers. Uber sent one message to drivers through its app saying that “unless the California Legislature takes action to modernize the law, you could lose your ability to work with multiple apps and control when and where you choose to drive with Uber,” then urged drivers to sign a petition. Uber said tens of thousands of drivers signed.

But it’s not clear how effective the tactic will be in an era of rising driver frustration over pay and arbitrary treatment, as well as regular driver protests.


Nicole Moore, a member of the organizing committee for Rideshare Drivers United, a driver group, said many drivers were upset by the efforts of Uber and Lyft to enlist them in fighting against employment status.

“I have never seen so many angry messages about ‘How dare they say I should advocate against my own rights?’” Ms. Moore said.

Nicole Moore is right.

This behavior is so abusive, self-destructive, short-sighted, and corrupt that you would think that the union executives are members of management, or a part of a venture capital firm..

PGE: Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!

The investigation is complete, and Cal Fire has determined that PGE, and its poorly maintained infrastructure, are responsibe for the disastrous Camp fire:

Investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have concluded that Pacific Gas & Electric equipment caused the devastating Camp fire that destroyed nearly 14,000 homes and killed 85 people, most of them elderly, last year.

The conclusion of the Cal Fire probe marks a milestone in the recovery from the worst wildfire in modern California history.

“Cal Fire has determined that the Camp fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric located in the Pulga area,” the agency said in a news release Wednesday.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection in part because of losses from the Nov. 8 fire, which scorched more than 153,000 acres and has put new pressure on utilities to improve the safety of their power distribution systems.

Scores of lawsuits have been filed against the state’s biggest utility on behalf of people who lost their homes, loved ones and pets. They accuse the utility of failing to properly maintain its equipment.

Why there are no criminal indictments against PGE executives, when it is clear that their neglect of their infrastructure was a deliberate business strategy, and it is equally clear that fires were the results, and that it was foreseeable that people would die as a result, and people DID die as a result.

This appears to me to be a reckless disregard for human life, and that appears to make it some sort of felony to me.

These guys need to be in the dock.

This is a Declaration of Unconditional Surrender

The US military has stopped issuing assessments on who is in control of various parts of Afghanistan.

This cannot be construed as anything but an admission of abject defeat, but anyone with the vaguest sense of history knew that this would be the case 18 years ago:

The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan has stopped assessing which districts in the country’s 34 provinces are controlled by the government or by insurgents, meaning nearly every metric to measure success of America’s longest war is now either classified or no longer tracked.

For about three years, NATO’s Resolute Support mission had produced quarterly district-level stability assessments that counted the districts, total estimated population and total estimated land area that Kabul controlled or influenced, as well as those under the sway of insurgents and those contested by both sides.

Officials have stopped the assessments because they were “of limited decision-making value” to Army Gen. Scott Miller, commander of the Resolute Support mission, the coalition told the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, according to a quarterly report published late Tuesday.


Taliban insurgents have been expanding their influence in rural areas, and while they’ve yet to seize a major city, they’re believed to be stronger than at any point since the war began over 17 years ago — a major boon for the group as it continues direct negotiations with the U.S. aimed partly at an American troop withdrawal.

The numbers are bad, so stop collecting the numbers.

The culture of the PowerPoint warriors.