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.