Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pope Francis and Gay Rights

 


Pope Francis is out to change minds and change hearts:

In a documentary that premiered Wednesday in Rome, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples, departing from the position of the Vatican’s doctrinal office and the pope’s predecessors on the issue.

The remarks came amid a portion of the documentary that reflected on pastoral care for those who identify as LGBT. 

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis said in the film, of his approach to pastoral care.

After those remarks, and in comments likely to spark controversy among Catholics, Pope Francis weighed in directly on the issue of civil unions for same-sex couples.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope said. “I stood up for that.”

This is a stunning development, and it is important to see how this affects Catholics world wide. It should not be seen solely as a rebuke of what is going on with the United States Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett nor should it be seen as another attack on Trump. But it helps! 

Friday, October 16, 2020

No One Should Die in Jail

 


Reuters has an incredible story out today about the staggeringly high number of people who are dying in jail while awaiting trial:

The U.S. government collects detailed data on who’s dying in which jails around the country – but won’t let anyone see it. So, Reuters conducted its own tally of fatalities in America’s biggest jails, pinpointing where suicide, botched healthcare and bad jailkeeping are claiming lives in a system with scant oversight.

They tell the story of a man who was jailed and then left untreated for the injuries he suffered while in custody. Harvey Hill died after being held on a misdemeanor charge that would have brought him no time in prison and would have fined him no more than $500.

Hill’s is one of 7,571 inmate deaths Reuters documented in an unprecedented examination of mortality in more than 500 U.S. jails from 2008 to 2019. Death rates have soared in those lockups, rising 35% over the decade ending last year. Casualties like Hill are typical: held on minor charges and dying without ever getting their day in court. At least two-thirds of the dead inmates identified by Reuters, 4,998 people, were never convicted of the charges on which they were being held.

Unlike state and federal prisons, which hold people convicted of serious crimes, jails are locally run lockups meant to detain people awaiting arraignment or trial, or those serving short sentences. The toll of jail inmates who die without a case resolution subverts a fundamental tenet of the U.S. criminal justice system: innocent until proven guilty.

We have a serious problem here and it's time to wake up to the fact that we need serious reform of the judicial system as well as the way we handle people who are awaiting trial.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Modern Policing is a Shakedown Racket


There is no need for this, other than to extract revenue from poor people. This is how local governments "raise taxes" without actually making rich people pay their fair share.

About 30 minutes east of Atlanta lies a small city led by a female mayor and an all-women council. The police chief is a Black woman, as is the municipal judge and the court solicitor.
The City of Pine Lake, Georgia, prides itself as a liberal oasis in an otherwise conservative-leaning state, a community that backed Stacey Abrams' 2018 gubernatorial campaign and has a history of gay or lesbian city council members. But there's a not-so-progressive reality in Pine Lake as well — systemic racism in the way the city has brought in revenue. 
Though the city has fewer than 800 people, the police department writes hundreds of traffic tickets every year along Rockbridge Road — a stretch of county road that skirts the edge of town — and court documents reveal that a vast majority of tickets are issued to Black drivers from the surrounding county and other cities. Black residents in the area say this stems from aggressive policing tactics that date back many years and still linger today.
The mayor and police chief disagree, and say it's simply a matter of who's frequenting Rockbridge.
"It is true that the majority of tickets are given to people of color," Mayor Melanie Hammet told CBS News. "The demographic reality is that a majority of those driving through Pine Lake are people of color."

If a municipality has revenue or cash flow problems, the solution is never to raise money through a bonding bill or an increase on property taxes. The police are not there for public safety. They are there to confiscate money from poor people and tie them up in a vicious cycle of fines, fees, mandatory court appearances, warrants, and arrests. 

This is the bullshit that pollutes our existence right now. Think of the untold numbers of people in America right now that have a bench warrant or an unpaid fine hanging over their heads because they went a little too fast through a contrived speed trap in the middle of nowhere. All the stress and pain and anxiety created by these traps built into our unfair legal system are constantly ruining the lives of people we don't give a second thought.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

You Gotta Be Kidding Me

 


I find this to be a game-changing accusation, one worthy of figuring out. The implications of Trump being positive for COVID-19 and then exposing himself to other people is bad enough. We are at a point where he is hospitalized and his doctors and his handlers are frantically correcting one another, trying to establish a narrative that has no credibility. None of them are credible at all.

Trump exposed himself to his political opponent. He endangered Joe Biden's life as well as the lives of everyone around him. He exposed his own family to COVID-19. That's not just his erstwhile wife and his adult children and their spouses. He exposed his own juvenile son and his grandchildren to COVID-19 as well. He exposed everyone who works to keep him safe and secure and well fed and comfortable.

What a fucking disgrace.

There are reports that Trump's secret service detail is angry. For what has to be the first time in over 20 years, the protective detail around the president is not leaking information and betraying the trust instilled in them. Look at the parade of disgraceful agents, beginning with Dan Bongino. Where are they when it is long past time to start talking about how unfit for office Trump really is and why have they been silent for so long.

The entire Executive Branch is a betrayal of the American idea. All of the cabinet officers must get together and decide whether or not they are going to put the Constitution first or their own short-term interests. There is no reason to even consider keeping Trump in office. They should meet, they should vote on whether or not to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump, and they should let Mike Pence be president until January 20, 2021. We already know that if there's a free and fair election, Joe Biden is going to win anyway.

Why continue with this debacle?

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Trump Lies About Everything

 

One of the standout lies from last night's disastrous presidential debate was when Trump made the claim that 308,000 veterans died waiting for care because of something that President Obama and Vice President Biden somehow didn't do.

We all know that Obama and Biden inherited two wars and an avalanche of claims from veterans because of the way Bush and Cheney ran the government. They started those wars and failed to anticipate the results. Thousands of our troops died and many times that number came home wounded and injured. The relentless deployments left far too many men and women with the after effects of multiple tours of duty overseas. Blaming them for what happened with the VA system is ludicrous, especially given the fact that the GOP blocked funding for Veterans as often as possible.

I mean, honestly. What can you do with lies like this?

President Donald Trump’s allegation at Tuesday’s debate that former Vice President Joe Biden’s policies while in office killed hundreds of thousands veterans rests on a five-year-old inspector general report that found widespread problems with Veterans Affairs record keeping but does not directly connect deaths to delayed care from department officials.

The report — compiled in the wake of the 2014 VA wait time scandal where numerous hospital administrators were found to cover up wait times at their medical centers — drew headlines at the time as another sign of incompetence and mismanagement at the embattled department. 

[...] 

Biden disputed both allegations. Trump’s campaign team tweeted out news coverage of the 2015 report in support of the president’s attack just minutes after the debate remarks.

In the report, the VA Inspector General looked into reports of nearly 900,000 pending enrollment applications within the department’s health care system as of September 2014. However, investigators “could not reliably determine how many pending records existed as a result of applications for health care benefits.”

Trump will lie about everything he can come up with. We have never fully appreciated the efforts undertaken by the Obama/Biden administration to solve problems that were dumped on them and exacerbated by Mitch McConnell's obstruction policies. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Trump's Campaign Managers Are Always in Trouble


The most dangerous job in America is being Trump's campaign manager:

President Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale was taken from his Fort Lauderdale home by police Sunday afternoon after his wife reported that he was armed and threatening suicide.

The police, called by his wife, went to the house in the Seven Isles community, an affluent area in which houses have access to the water. They made contact, “developed a rapport” and negotiated his exit from the house, the police said in a statement. He was taken to Broward Health Medical Center under the Baker Act, which provides for temporary involuntary commitment.

Parscale has millions and millions of dollars that he was able to extract from notorious tax cheat and deadbeat billionaire Trump. He probably took that money out of the campaign that Trump is pretending to run for president but which actually serves as a massive slush fund for all the crimes we don't know about yet. 

Let's hope Brad gets the help he needs before he goes to Federal Prison for fraud and other alleged crimes.

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Brutal Nightmare of Conservative Media


This is one of the top stories at Tucker Carlson's shitpost extravaganza, otherwise known as the Daily Caller (no link because fuck them).

It's like a descent into madness. Here we have a white nationalist publication that supports the white nationalist president currently leading an entire nation to a suicidal stand inside of the Fuhrer bunker. It's a story written out in near-perfect tones of derision and outrage, signaling that we will soon have a new FBI Director.

Conservative crying bitch Mark Meadows is handling the dirty work today. He is forced to prop up the absurd claim that mail in ballots are anything other than a great idea in a time of global pandemic. This is because, as soon as a majority of Americans vote, Trump and his criminal enterprise will fall back under the jurisdiction of a Biden Justice Department and then everyone's going to jail. Wheee! 

It's not going so great. FBI Director Christopher Wray would very much like to avoid having to go to jail so he is, more or less, just trying to do the job he was handed without getting too deep into the weeds with QAnon and Trumpism. This means that a lackey like Meadows is going to have to stick the knife in his back. The fact that he is using Tucker's white nationalist website to do it is one thing. It's entirely another thing to see the White House Chief of Staff attack the FBI Director who was appointed by the WHCOS's boss in a conservative media outlet.

We are witnessing a circular firing squad. Instead of attacking the Democrats, they're going after each other. I mean, talk about your brutal nightmares. If it wasn't so entertaining, I'd say we need less of this and more of the conservatives just going after the Never Trumpers. But, no. We now get three or four layers of outright fratricide to watch and read.

You hate to see it.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Distressed


Once a fixture at the administration's coronavirus briefings, Dr. Deborah Birx has confided to aides and friends that she has become so unhappy with what she sees as her diminished role as coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force that she is not certain how much longer she can serve in her position, sources familiar with her thinking tell CNN. 

Birx has told people around her that she is "distressed" with the direction of the task force, describing the situation inside the nation's response to the coronavirus as nightmarish. 

According to people familiar with her thinking, Birx views Dr. Scott Atlas, a recent addition to the task force, as an unhealthy influence on President Donald Trump's thinking when it comes to the virus.

In other words, "I would love to resign on principle but that ship has sailed."

Monday, September 21, 2020

We Do Not Have a Functioning CDC Right Now



This is bullshit:

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday abruptly reverted to its previous guidance about how coronavirus is transmitted, removing language about airborne transmission it had posted just days earlier. 

 "A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency's official website. CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted," Jason McDonald, a CDC spokesman, said in a response emailed to CNN.

The guidance had been quietly updated on Friday, according to the CDC's website. CNN was first to report the change on Sunday. The CDC responded to CNN just before noon on Monday to say it was reverting to the previous guidance.

Despite several studies that have shown the novel coronavirus can spread through small particles in the air, the CDC page now says that Covid-19 is thought to spread mainly between people in close contact -- about 6 feet -- and "through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks." This is the same language it posted months ago.

There is no way to say this without sounding shrill. The CDC has stopped functioning as an agency. It is now an arm of the Trump Re-Election Campaign. It is no longer a Federal agency devoted to protecting the American people or using science to advance our understanding of diseases.

People need to start walking out the door. I understand that there are no more whistleblower protections in place. Hell, there aren't many Inspectors General left either. But, damn. We are in a terrible place right now and people are dying.










Monday, September 14, 2020

Mass Hysterectormies Performed at ICE Facility in Georgia


There is an ICE facility in Ocilla, Georgia that is run by a private company called LaSalle Corrections. It is being used to house immigrant women who have been detained by the United States government. Here's what we know so far.

Female detainees were given hysterectomies without fully understanding why they needed to have them.
Several legal advocacy groups on Monday filed a whistleblower complaint on behalf of a nurse at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center documenting “jarring medical neglect” within the facility, including a refusal to test detainees for the novel coronavirus and an exorbitant rate of hysterectomies being performed on immigrant women.

The nurse, Dawn Wooten, was employed at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia, which is operated by LaSalle Corrections, a private prison company. The complaint was filed with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by advocacy groups Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network.
Multiple women came forward to tell Project South about what they perceived to be the inordinate rate at which women in ICDC were subjected to hysterectomies – a surgical operation in which all or part of the uterus is removed. Additionally, many of the immigrant women who underwent the procedure were reportedly “confused” when asked to explain why they had the surgery, with one detainee likening their treatment to prisoners in concentration camps.
“Recently, a detained immigrant told Project South that she talked to five different women detained at ICDC between October and December 2019 who had a hysterectomy done,” the complaint stated. “When she talked to them about the surgery, the women ‘reacted confused when explaining why they had one done.’ The woman told Project South that it was as though the women were ‘trying to tell themselves it’s going to be OK.’”
“When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies,” the detainee said.
How do you find the words to explain how unthinkable this is? It is an evil that has infected our society in a way that all but guarantees that we have failed to stop it from taking root in the first place. I mean, there's no hyperbole here! This is cruel! It's inhuman! It's the exact opposite of everything this country is supposed to stand for!

That's Trumpism for you. It never fails to attain a level of viciousness that would never have been believed just a decade ago.

The party of life, my ass.

UPDATE:



Saturday, September 12, 2020

No More QAnon Bullshit


This has to stop:
Police and local officials on the West Coast are battling multiple raging fires. They're also fighting a wave of misinformation from false rumors spread in neighborhood Facebook groups and on far-right websites that antifa activists were setting the blazes.
At least six groups have issued warnings about the false rumors, including some pleading with the public to stop sharing the misinformation.

“Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON,” the Douglas County Sheriff's Office wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.
The false claims also became fodder for the now-sizable online QAnon community, which began amplifying various false reports earlier in the week.
Whatever needs to be done to regulate the flow of misinformation and put a stop to it has to start with understanding that it affects public safety. People are dying because they are being mislead intentionally in order to spread a dangerous conspiracy theory/ideology through mass hysteria. This is the kind of actual hysteria that kills people. QAnon is the asshole who yells 'fire' in a crowded movie theater, laughs when people are trampled, and gets away with it because Facebook says its alright to do these things.

This is unbelievable. This is what law enforcement has to deal with? Seriously?

This is a form of domestic terrorism. Not only is it being used to ratfuck an election, it's a threat to public safety.

The attorneys general for these Western states need to have a quick confab and begin with putting together a lawsuit against any social media company that actively entertains and spreads QAnon information. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Fox News -- they are all liable for this. Any Republican spreading it should be liable as well. Start with massive fines and criminal prosecutions for disseminating threats and information that deal directly with public safety considerations.

Once the fines hit, and once these companies realize that they need to de-platform the people who spread QAnon misinformation, it will probably take years to deprogram the acolytes of stupidity. And if this was just about wacky hats and memes on comment threads, that would be one thing. We have individuals with guns ready to shoot people because they are inundated with bullshit that isn't true. Someone better do something fast.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Understanding the Meltdown


I don't know about you, but when I go looking for a diversion, I really don't need to hear more bad news on top of all the bad news we're faced with each and every day. However, the need to understand what's happening in our world takes precedent. As Antarctica goes, so goes the whole planet.

Scientists may just have identified Thwaites Glacier's Achilles heel.

This Antarctic colossus is melting at a rapid rate, dumping billions of tonnes of ice in the ocean every year and pushing up global sea-levels.

Now, a UK-US team has surveyed the deep seafloor channels in front of the glacier that almost certainly provide the access for warm water to infiltrate and attack Thwaites' underside.

It's information that will be used to try to predict the ice stream's future.

"These channels had not been mapped before in this kind of detail, and what we've discovered is that they're actually much bigger than anyone thought - up to 600m deep. Think of six football pitches back to back," said Dr Kelly Hogan from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

"And because they are so deep, and so wide - this allows a lot more water to get at, and melt, Thwaites' floating front as well as its ice that rests on the seabed," she told BBC News. 

If you need some good news, think of the dedication of these scientists. They may not be able to solve the problem but the fact that they're working on it is worth praise.




Tuesday, September 8, 2020

You Planted Those Seeds, Dammit


I did warn you:
In late July, America was briefly enthralled with “Unsolicited Seeds from China,” which started showing up in mailboxes in all 50 states. These mystery seeds prompted warnings from the USDA, which said people should not plant them, and should instead alert their state agricultural authority and mail them to the USDA or their local officials.
Many Americans heeded this advice. Many more decidedly did not.
You stupid sons of bitches, what am I going to do with you?
Based on documents I’ve read, the scale of the mystery seed operation was much larger than I had originally suspected and than was originally reported. Conservatively, it is safe to say that tens of thousands of Americans received what they perceived to be Chinese mystery seeds in July. Some states, like North Carolina, had more than 1,000 people contact the department of agriculture having received unsolicited seeds. Others, like New Mexico, had roughly 100 recorded seed receivers. Many of these seed receivers, regardless of location, panicked.
"About a month ago, I did receive seeds from China. I guess China because it looks like Chinese writing. I thought, 'Oh cool, maybe Burgess seeds or one of the seed companies send me some seeds.' And, umm, like a dumbass, I planted them, not knowing there was a problem," a woman in New Mexico said in a voicemail left with the state's department of agriculture in late July. "And now, I've been battling this for a couple weeks. Now, where I planted them, and I remember where I planted them, everything that's in the garden where I planted them are having a hard time and are starting to die … I really don't know what to do at this point, so could somebody call me back and give me a little bit of direction about this? I know I'm a dumbass."
America, we had a good run. The decline is real, and the fall of this great nation is at hand. But, then again, maybe we'll just sacrifice some boats and keep on truckin'.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

No Love For Trump in the Ruins of Kenosha


This is an example of deliberate misinformation and manipulation.
US President Donald Trump has visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, to back law enforcement after the police shooting of a black man sparked civil strife.
The Republican president sought to blame "destruction" in the Midwestern city on local Democratic leaders.
Kenosha was rocked by days of violence after Jacob Blake was shot in the back by officers.
Opinion polls show Mr Trump is cutting into his Democratic rival Joe Biden's lead ahead of November's election.
The president is pushing a strong "law and order" message ahead of the vote. Mr Biden has accused Mr Trump of stoking racial division.


Trump does not care about the people of Kenosha or anything that resembles "law and order." He cares about being photographed in the "ruins" of a city that is run by Democrats so that he can scare enough people into voting for him.

If he can persuade people that things are really out of control he can win a handful of people over to his cause. The thing is, there is no cause! There's nothing that Trump stands for except producing more liberal tears. So, fuck this guy. He represents a nihilism that is almost unimaginable in modern America. He can't bring jobs, reform, or a cure for COVID-19 so he's going to bring what he has left--fear.

His campaign is a weaponization of fear and manipulation. That's all it is.

And this will work with low information voters, it really will in this day and age. There are far too many people who believe that Trump is looking out for them when all he's trying to do is survive for another four years and continue stealing as much money as possible. The good news is that there are fewer and fewer low information voters because, well, when you're getting hammered economically, you tend to wise up. Tens of millions of Americans are now radicalized to vote Trump out of office. This is no small thing. Contrast that with the Biden candidacy, which is an emphatic rejection of fear and intolerance.

A "law and order" president does not go through as many lawyers, judges, and Attorneys General as this one.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Handpicked Criminal Denies His Criminal Activity


This is the sort of question everyone should ask of a Republican these days.

"Has Donald Trump promised to pardon you?"

When asked that question today, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy shat himself I mean stammered and what the hell is going on with these people?

This is how bad the criminal activity has gotten. When asked about it in the open, Trump's lackeys are stumbling around for answers. A flat "no" is all they have to say. Unless, of course, they're planning on having some wiggle room when the FBI begins questioning them in February or March of next year.

Meanwhile, CREW has filed a criminal complaint against DeJoy for, among other things, being Trump's handpicked criminal to carry out crimes so that Trump can stay in office and keep criming. No, you couldn't make this up if you tried. Yes, these people are going to prison.

And, no. None of this is normal and no Democratic appointee would ever be allowed to act like this in public.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Count on Biden Winning by Six Points


The media loves a horserace, and 2020 is no different. My opinions are not meant to convince you or reassure you, but here's what I believe will happen on Election Day.

Trump will try to steal the election. He will be assisted in this endeavor by the Russians, the Saudis, and probably some combination of the UAE, China, and Turkey. Their efforts will largely fail because the turnout will overwhelm previous elections and hew very closely to the 2018 Blue Tsunami that swept the GOP out of power in the House and out of power in numerous states. The rejection of Trumpism will mean electoral defeat.

I think Biden will win the popular vote by at least six points, perhaps seven million votes in total. That may be conservative, but he is not the same figure as Hillary with the same baggage. The panic you see right now ignores the fact that it is still summer and the numbers won't start to harden for at least a month, if not longer. Trump has done nothing to appeal to the center and he has done nothing but celebrate an unstable, unreasonable base that will vote only for white supremacy. There is no other appeal with Trump, nothing else that redeems him and no other way that he appeals to Americans. He represents white power and nothing more.

Remember this phrase. "The cake is baked."

That means that the race is largely already decided. Trump is not going to win any more voters over to his side. The opposition to his presidency hardened within weeks of him taking office. Americans have to turn out and vote if they want change. I believe that there are enough to end his presidency and these are the voters who voted in 2018 to put a stop to the criminal insanity of GOP governance. Structurally, the Republicans control enough of the country to hold back a massive landslide that would otherwise leave them with 30 Senate seats and 100 House seats.

If we're really, really lucky, that's what Election Day 2022 will look like in terms of repudiating the last four years. But that's the optimist speaking here. The realist says we're in for a tough road ahead.

What concerns me is that the American people are never going to be "reasonable" in the years ahead. What should be a four hundred electoral vote for the Democratic candidate blowout will probably be about 325 for Biden. It will be convincing enough to force Trump and his army of lawyers to fight a rearguard action against being hurled out of office that will fail. They will scare people, they will muddy the transition, and then the pardons will come in a flurry. Biden and Harris will take over a broken government that is littered with destruction, empty chairs, and overflowing paper shredders.

The media will be depressed by this outcome. They want four more years of chaos and upheaval. The far right wants to crush their enemies, who happen to be other Americans. The far left wants a 1917 styled revolution that destroys the moderate wing of the Democratic Party as well as all other pretenders. Nobody will be happy.

The thing I have to remember is that a centrist campaign for the presidency is going to drive me crazy. Biden will appeal to every single voter that he can get and try to win Ohio, Texas and Georgia. This is probably not the wrong strategy, but it won't inspire the people who handed him the nomination.

If the GOP holds the Senate, we're in for at least two years of paralysis and gridlock, which the media will love.

I'm probably wrong, but there it is.

Monday, August 10, 2020

What the Hell Happened With Kodak?


When I wrote about this earlier, I was convinced that this was an example of Trump-era insider trading. It's the kind of thing that is blatant, out in the open, and will largely go unpunished because there's no one minding the store.

Turns out, there are some legs to this story:
Shares of Eastman Kodak Co. KODK, -24.93% plummeted 45% in active premarket trading Monday, after reports the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. is withholding its planned $765 million loan after the deal came under regulatory scrutiny. The stock had rocketed 13-fold in two days, after it was announced on July 28 that the IDFC would provide Kodak a the loan to help produce the ingredients to maker generic drugs. Under question how Kodak controlled the disclosure of the loan, as the stock soared 25% in active trading the day before the news was reported, amid active stock option trading. Kodak disclosed on Friday that it appointed a special committee to oversee and internal review of recent activity by the company and related parties in connection with the announcement of the potential government loan. As of Friday's close of $14.88, the stock had pulled back 55% since July 29.
I'm still not convinced anything will come of it. Senator Kelly Loeffler and Senator Richard Burr should have been forced to resign for their COVID-19 profiteering. In the Trump era, the only maxim that applies is, "you must let me wet my beak."



Friday, August 7, 2020

All We Asked For Was Justice

 

The simple act of asking for justice is happening in Louisville right now.  What's extraordinary about this effort is that it even has to happen at all. The lack of justice here is breathtaking. An African-American woman was killed in her own home by overzealous, militarized cops looking for the wrong person. 

How much longer do you think people are going to be polite when this is going on?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Insider Trading Right Out in the Open


When it comes to our current political and economic climate, the insider trading is pretty easy to spot:

Eastman Kodak Company KODK 377.9% shares skyrocketed 222% on Tuesday after the company announced it's pivoting to drug ingredient development and announced a large government loan.
Benzinga's PreMarket Prep co-host Dennis Dick said on Tuesday morning’s show that he noticed some suspicious trading activity in both the Kodak stock and options market on Monday ahead of the news.
“All I want to know is who got the memo yesterday? Look at the pop on this thing yesterday ahead of the news. That’s a big candle. That’s the biggest up move it’s had in two months,” Dick said.
I guess someone has to clean up. There are no honest ways of making a living anymore.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Don't Plant Those Seeds


If you receive a bag of seeds in the mail from China, tell your local officials and don't bother trying to inform our incompetent Trump-run government about it:

Officials in at least four states are urging residents to report any unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to have been sent from China, warning that they might be invasive or otherwise harmful.
The agriculture departments in Washington State, Louisiana, Kansas and Virginia have issued statements in recent days, noting that residents had reported receiving packages of seeds in the mail that they had not ordered. Based on photos, the seeds appear to have been mailed in white pouches displaying Chinese lettering and the words “China Post.”Some of the packages were labeled to say they contained jewelry, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
Packages of seeds have also been sent to residents in Utah, Arizona and Ohio, according to local news reports.

What's a Trump regime official or potentate or acting deputy vice chairman going to do about it?

Seriously, this is probably just an effort by a Chinese company to distribute their product illegally. It's  likely nothing nefarious beyond that. But we don't have a State Department. We don't have a functioning set of agencies that could respond. We have screaming, diaper-clad toddlers working for the ultimate fool who could easily screw up a one car parade.

In other words, if this happens to you, the Federal government is going to be of no use in helping to deal with the problem the way that it would have in decades past. And I think people all over the world are beginning to realize that they can exploit the inherent stupidity in Trump voters and get them to work against American interests and their own economic self-interests. I'm not going to be surprised when the Chinese start sending AK-47s and poison to individual Americans, and that's probably the next thing that's coming in the mail.


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Courage of Mitch Landrieu


Cities all over America are responding to the needs of their citizens. In New Orleans, under the leadership of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, they're at the forefront of understanding that we need to have a reckoning with the past and look at how racial inequality has robbed Americans of their dignity.
Mitch Landrieu catapulted from progressive philanthropy darling to household name when he ordered the removal of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans while serving as mayor in 2017.
Now, he’s organizing public conversations about race and opportunity while creating a program to help produce elected officials willing to prod their communities toward equity. And on Tuesday, Landrieu will testify remotely at a hearing of the House Natural Resources subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands about his belief that all of the nation's Confederate monuments should be removed from public land.

The hearing itself carries a weighty name: "Monumental Decisions: A Long Overdue Reckoning With Racist Symbols on Our Public Lands."
But as Landrieu establishes himself as an evangelist of equity, questions loom. Is Landrieu, who has long been supported by good-government groups and other arms of the monied liberal establishment, able to facilitate sweeping change? Or is he merely a voice of those with power seeking to adjust a few things?
"We've been headed towards this moment, this situation, for a long, long time," Landrieu said in an interview from his home in New Orleans. "We, particularly white Americans, have been putting off all but the emergency work needed to wind up anywhere else."
The removal of Confederate symbols is one part of that, but we need to understand that red lining, discrimination, and a lack of economic opportunity are all evils that need to be cured as well. Landrieu gets it, and that means he'll be remembered as a pioneer of how to bring our society out of the dark ages of racism.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

What is an Employee?


This is a really interesting development in the debate over who is considered an "employee" and who is considered an expendable, disposable human being:
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday that she would file a lawsuit against Uber and Lyft, claiming that the companies have been improperly misclassifying their drivers as contractors rather than employees to save millions of dollars in compensation.
“We’re suing because these companies have built their billion-dollar business that misclassifies their drivers as contractors,” she said during a morning news conference conducted on Zoom.

The complaint, seeking a declaratory judgment, was submitted to Massachusetts Superior Court in Suffolk County.
Healey said that these companies do not pay unemployment or workers' compensation benefits, helping them save millions of dollars annually.
“Taxpayers and other companies are essentially paying when Uber and Lyft misclassifies workers,” she said. “The bottom line is that Uber and Lyft have gotten a free ride for far too long.”
 If you're barely paying people a living wage and sticking taxpayers with the cost of providing health care, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation then you're an evil corporation. Wal-Mart, for example, has always deliberately underpaid their workers and skated by on the idea that SNAP benefits will be there to bridge the gap between extreme poverty and starvation.

A fundamental redesign of the system of work starts with deciding who gets to be a worker and who gets to profit from that work. Any discussion of solving America's problems that does not include a course correction on how we compensate workers is foolish.

Monday, July 13, 2020

That's Doctor Fauci to You


Incredible as it may seem, the White House is attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci instead of taking steps to save the lives of the American people:
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta shared insight Monday morning into how Dr. Anthony Fauci — the visible face of the White House's coronavirus task force — has been feeling since the White House tried to discredit him.
Asked by "New Day" anchor John Berman about reports Fauci will be at the White House later on Monday, Gupta responded, "I think he wants to stick around. I think he's feeling a little beaten up by all this — I think there's no question about it — but he has seen a lot of support."
Gupta, who speaks regularly to Fauci, continued, "Again, we are learning as we go along here. Nobody knew everything from the very start, including Dr. Fauci, but that's very different than saying the guy was intentionally wrong or somehow misleading in some way, which seemed to be the suggestion."
Any expertise or credibility that threatens Trump's reign of error must be destroyed, apparently. Anyone who has the experience and knowledge to keep the American people safe and stop the spread of the pandemic is a political "threat" to Trump and this should be exposed for what it is by the media--an admission of incompetence and guilt and nothing more.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Trump Has Exploited the White Supremacy of the GOP


It would be far too easy to dismiss this photo as an anachronism and as something that wasn't already in the water in terms of our politics. This was from 2012, and it was a real sentiment at the time.  There were anti-President Obama demonstrations on a regular basis and they were vicious and racist in nature. Thanks to the Tea Party, it was mainstreamed into our living rooms.

The difference then from right now was, neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan would have been caught dead endorsing this message because it would have resulted in condemnation from the larger GOP establishment. That is what Trump smashed through in 2016 and eradicated in the first year of his presidency. In fact, his destruction of these things is entirely why the GOP deserves to lose every election this year.

No Republican fears condemnation from Mitt Romney. They shit themselves at the thought of a swarming horde being unleashed by a Trump tweet. The takeover has been complete for a while.

Without an establishment to protect the party, you get Trumpism and the poison that comes with it. The white supremacy is a feature not a bug with these people. They want it, and they want to create an environment where it exists without having to pay the price for it.

In some rare cases, you will have an unemployed pundit, a former elected official, or a Mitt Romney who will say "Black Lives Matter" but that's only because they were not compelled by shame to say it sooner. In other cases, a figure like Paul Ryan will entirely remove themselves from the political arena in order to escape accountability. And then you have the full-on, white-power people who Trump thinks will be there to get him re-elected. They won't say it because they are the dead-enders who will stand as long as they can until forced to retire.

If this country can bring back the idea of shame, that might make a difference. Without it, the lowest people will continue to parade around like their ideas mean something.

The same force that is driving the name change of Washington D.C.'s ridiculously non-competitive NFL franchise is pushing directly against the history of this country. It used to be fine to have policy positions that delivered whites the supremacy they felt was always theirs. A Romney-Ryan ticket would have been great for suburban whites and a shit sandwich for everyone else. Tax cuts, reductions in SNAP benefits, letting kids at school go hungry remain mainstream Republican principles dressed in neater themes. Your garden variety Liz Cheney lives for the day when they can openly crap on poor people, rake in the donations, and live in a world free of Trump's reign of error.

They are just counting the days until they are in the minority again. They know the public will blame Democrats for everything that isn't perfect. President Obama dealt with that until the day he left office. And the media is trained to be skeptical of equality and tolerant of conservatives who are willing to complain about being treated unfairly. All the shit that doesn't work, that's because a Democrat wanted it that way and not because a Republican president broke every goddamned thing and left the treasury empty and the military disemboweled.

Change is now hitting this country so hard in the face that it is necessary to pause and think about what's happening. The danger is not that the GOP is going to win close races anymore. The elections of 2020, 2022, and 2024 are going to come in rapid fire succession and each one will be more and more of a tsunami that swamps the old establishment of white supremacy in this country. If you don't get everything you want this November, just wait. The anger that will be unleashed will continue to push forward and will gain in strength. We might end up with 12 states that will cling to the idea that the Republican Party is the only way to go. Those states will see precipitous calamities and declining standards of living while they take in more tax dollars than they pay out, and Democrats will still struggle to explain why that is happening.

The only thing that can stop these forces is justice itself. If we don't make that our goal, nothing else is going to be fixed. You can't correct the course of this country without ensuring that everyone is treated fairly before the law. When people can walk down the street and not be afraid of being killed by a police officer, then and only then will you see a return to the focus on external issues and philosophical ideas. We gotta have equal treatment under the law right the fuck now, and we gotta smash the living shit out of Trump's white power ideology.

Nothing else matters until it has all be swept away and discredited. If we don't wipe out these ideas now, they'll continue to seep into the cracks of our failing democracy and break up the country.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Criminals Are Still Incredibly Stupid


My theory is that you will never, ever hear about the intelligent and capable criminals because they're too smart to be caught. In Europe, they're rolling up an entire criminal network because someone thought this was a good idea:
A top-secret communications system used by criminals to trade drugs and guns has been "successfully penetrated", says the National Crime Agency.
The NCA worked with forces across Europe on the UK's "biggest and most significant" law enforcement operation.
Major crime figures were among over 800 Europe-wide arrests after messages on EncroChat were intercepted and decoded.
More than two tonnes of drugs, several dozen guns and £54m in suspect cash have been seized, says the NCA.
While the NCA was part of the investigation, it was initiated and led by French and Dutch police, and also involved Europol - the EU agency for law enforcement cooperation.
Wil van Gemert, deputy executive director of Europol, told a press conference in the Hague that the hacking of the network had allowed the "disruption of criminal activities including violent attacks, corruption, attempted murders and large-scale drug transports".

You only need one person to be your single point of failure.

If something similar to this is in use in America, you can well assured that the FBI won't crack it until someone compromises the network and gives up the evidence. Unless, of course, someone issues a search warrant and decides to have a look at the wireless carrier that is allowing these devices to operate.

There is no possibility of a "secret, encrypted, protected" large-scale commercial wireless communication network. No government would ever tolerate such a thing. They can advertise that they provide this to you, but companies like this are likely cutting deals with government agencies to open up their system for inspection.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Wet Wipes Litter the Ground Where the Queen Vacations



Walkers are relieving themselves in the grounds of Queen Elizabeth's Scottish residence, staff have said.
Employees at Balmoral Castle, which the Queen frequently visits for holidays throughout the year, have complained about wet wipes being left on the estate and urged people not to use the spot as an outdoor toilet.
Most public facilities are closed in the United Kingdom due to the country's lockdown, but people are allowed to exercise and socialize outside, leading many to seek quiet public places if nature calls during a day out.
"Disappointed to see so many wipes discarded on the Estate today. Next to paths and monuments. Please remember there are no public toilets open for miles around at the moment," staff at Balmoral wrote.
"Part of the problem is that we are seeing a lot of non biodegradable wipes being discarded in the countryside," they added. "Also, people are choosing to relieve themselves right next to busy paths or monuments rather than move a little bit further away to avoid contamination."
A person who cleans themselves with a wet wipe is a person with a plan. Why don't we celebrate that?
If you don't want to see this trash, then put up some bins and relax.
This is a first world problem of the highest order, and who's got time for any of that right now?

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Let's Regulate and Break Up Facebook




A growing list of companies say they'll join an advertiser boycotton Facebook in protest of what they say are the site's failures to stop the spread of hate.
 
A civil rights coalition, which includes the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP, launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign last week when it called on major corporations to put a pause on advertising on Facebook, citing the company's "repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms."
 
Within days, outdoor retailers REI, The North Face, and Patagonia said they were in. Other companies, including Upwork and Dashlane, joined too.

We are not living in a period of "good government." The corruption we're seeing at all levels of the public and private sectors is not something that can be sustained. When you see the value of Facebook plummet like this, you have to ask yourself, "was that really the value of the company in the first place?"

In as much as Facebook could monetize your data, freely given, yes. But the reality is, without proper regulation, a company like this cannot continue to operate in the same way for very long. An activist, law-respecting government would have already regulated how Facebook uses data and what it sells it for. A government that protects consumers would have already broken up the company and would be looking at Amazon and a host of others because their business model--screwing people eight ways to Sunday--isn't the sort of thing that should be tolerated.

And no, Facebook is not being censored. It's being brought into the 21st Century, kicking and screaming like an anarcho-libertarian problem child.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

It Was Always Bullshit


If you're reading this out of context, like I just did, don't worry.

This is what John Bolton put into his book about his time in the Trump Regime. This is what former Chief of Staff John Kelly said about Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. And that's Trump's response--how else are we going to stop the caravans?

The caravans were just a bunch of bullshit. Everything about Trump and his regime is a criminal act that has gone unpunished.

Thanks again, GOP. You own this mess. You own this fiasco. You own all of it, forever.

Monday, June 8, 2020

A List of Trump's Transgressions Against Democracy


The great Bill Moyers has written an eloquent list of what Trump has done to destroy our democracy.

I'm putting this here for reference purposes because hell yeah, I agree with this.

He has declared himself above the law, preached insurrection by encouraging armed supporters to “liberate” states from the governance of duly elected officials, told police not to be “too nice” while doing their job, and gloated over the ability of the Secret Service to turn “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” loose on demonstrators — to “come down on them hard” if they get too “frisky.
He has politicized the Department of Justice while remaking the judiciary in his image.
He has stifled investigations into his administration’s corruption, fired officials charged with holding federal agencies accountable to the public, and rewarded his donors and cronies with government contracts, subsidies, deregulations, and tax breaks.
He has maligned and mocked the disadvantaged, the disabled, and people of color.
He has sought to politicize the military, including in his entourage the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs (dressed in combat fatigues), as his orderlies unleashed chemical fumes on peaceful protesters – all so that the president could use them as stage props in a photo op, holding up a Bible in front of a historic church, just to make a dandy ad for his re-election campaign.
He has purged his own party of independent thinkers and turned it into a spineless, mindless cult while demonizing the opposition.
He has purloined religion for state and political ends.
He has desecrated the most revered symbols of Christian faith by converting them to partisan brands.  
He has recruited religious zealots for jobs in his administration, rewarding with government favors the electoral loyalty of their followers.
He has relentlessly attacked mainstream media as purveyors of “fake news” and “enemies of the people” while collaborating with a sycophantic right- wing media – including the Murdoch family’s Fox News — to flood the country with lies and propaganda.
He has maneuvered the morally hollow founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, into compromising the integrity of the most powerful media giant in the country by infusing it with partisan bias.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Ban the Use of Rubber Bullets


Halsey is one of many artists that are looking for a way to formally begin the process of banning the use of rubber bullets:
Kacey Musgraves and singer-songwriter Victoria Monét are among a host of artists who have called on the police in the US to ban the use of rubber bullets.
Halsey revealed she was among a number of people who have been hit by rubber bullets during recent peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd.
“[The police] fired rubber bullets at us. We did not breach the line. Hands were up. Unmoving. And they gassed and fired,” Halsey posted recently with photos of the altercation.
“This hit me through layers of fabric and for that, I am extremely privileged. At close range it would have caused serious injury.”
There's a way to skirt this issue and claim that the use of rubber bullets and pepper spray and those pepper balls fired out of paintball guns is actually the humanitarian application of advanced crowd control techniques. That's all bullshit. A device fired at people that can cripple or maim them is just as bad as shooting them with bullets if it is done without any regard for public safety. You have people who have lost an eye or have been severely injured by these things. I support banning their use outright.

Crowd control is necessary because of what? In order to suppress the will of the people who have decided to protest? Why is there a need for it in the first place when all it does is put the police in a position to abuse their power? There used to be widespread use of dogs and water cannons as well. The military has these vehicle-mounted devices that emit painful sound waves. When aimed at demonstrators, they can cause severe injury to hundreds of people at once.

This is all you need to know about the Active Denial System, and when you do read about it, try not to panic if you can imagine what Trump would do with it if he knew it was available for his own personal use.

None of this is humane and none of it should be used.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

A Symbol of Distress


It should be noted that General Michael Hayden was a creature of the Republican establishment. He ran several intelligence agencies during the George W. Bush administration. I do not believe him to be a hysteric nor do I think he has become a flower child hippie in his retirement.

This is a serious wake-up call to the American people. It should not pass without comment.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Experts Weigh In


Well, do I base all of my decisions on what Megan McArdle thinks or do I adopt Nate Silver's tone of mighty overcorrection and go down with guns blazing?

Listen, the mustard man is on to something here. We should listen to epidemiologists, but perhaps not the ones that are afraid to speak up in case Trump fires them.

Never in American history--and I don't use this comparison lightly--have we been less prepared for a disaster and more inundated with the foolhardy opinions of wankers than we are right now. People who have zero experience, training, or credentials are writing opinion pieces seen by millions without any regard for the harm or disinformation they are spreading.

The coronavirus sure is dangerous, but what's more of a threat are the hacks and weasels who think they understand it better than the experts.