Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

"
If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Operation Distraction

White House chief of staff John Kelly spoke to the "good" and "not so good" parts of US history on Monday, speaking highly of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and attributing the origin of the American Civil War to a "lack of an ability to compromise."
...
He continued: "But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War. And men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had to make their stand," Kelly added, not making any mention of slavery -- a major facet of the Southern economy and a key benchmark that separated northern and southern states when they chose sides in the Civil War.
First, that's all utter horseshit. The Civil War was about the right to own people as livestock. It was about their desire to open more territory for the farming of people. That's what they declared at the time. A lot of the Confederate soldiers were drafted and both draft evasion and desertion were huge problems for the Confederacy, as a large number of their soldiers knew that they were fighting for the rights of rich people to own slaves, while the slavers exempted themselves from fighting the war. But the officers, especially the highest-ranking ones, actively committed treason. There is no intellectually honest way to gloss over the point that they were traitors who fought to preserve slavery. The "Noble Cause" bullshit was an after-the-fact rationalization to cover up the bitter truth that the Boys in Gray committed treason and fought for the right of rich white people to own black people.

Given that, as I've explained before, none of Trump's ancestors were even in this country for the Civil War, Trump's infatuation with the Confederate traitors is either naked political calculation or a manifestation of his inner nazism.

But all that overlooks the saddest thing: Donald Trump sent out his Chief of Staff, a retired four-star general, to stoke up the fires of resentment over losing the Civil War as a way to distract the news cycle, if only on Fox, from covering the fact that the walls of the Mueller investigation are closing in on his administration.

General Kelly had the reputation of being an honorable man. But Trump just sent him out to play racist troll in order to save a news cycle or two.

The bitter lesson is this: If you work for a racist and hateful boss, especially in public life, the stink of racism and hate will rub off on you.

There's No Bigotry Like the Old Standards

Nigel Farage goes for the oldest bigotry on the books.

You'd have to go back to the Sumerians throwing shade on the Ubadians to come up with an older form of bigotry.

Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood, But Not For Long

If you wonder why there are so many restaurants in places, you can blame Wall Street.

There's a good chance that it is all going to come crashing down, just like any other boomlet. The bitg guys on Wall Street will have made their money. Those who bought into the franchised dream will be the ones holding the bag.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Arresting Developments, Part Три

(Один и Два)
It is not every day that a president’s former campaign manager and another campaign worker are indicted on felony charges. In fact the last time it happened was 1974, when Nixon’s campaign manager John Mitchell was indicted. Trump’s claims that “this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign,” aren’t true. The indictment says that the money laundering and conspiracy for which Manafort and his associate Rick Gates are being charged continued “through at least 2016” — i.e., through the period, from March 29 to August 19, 2016, when Manafort was working for Trump. Gates remained at the campaign even after Manafort was ousted.
Lawfare's analysis is worth reading. So is Popehat's.

As much as Trump's iterations of Baghdad Bob are going to be everywhere saying "Manafort, who" and "who's Papadopoulos", others have been noting that Trump prominently mentioned that Papadopoulos was part of his foreign policy team. Manafort ran Trump's campaign for three months (including when Trump was nominated) and was also the "chief strategist".

Think about that for a minute. One of Trump's foreign policy advisors was an alleged Russian operative. His campaign manager was an allged unregistered foreign agent and a money-launderer.

Will Manafort flip on Trump? Well, a couple of the counts would, if Manafort was convicted, lead to asset forfeiture. Hell, given that the DoJ is all about civil asset forfeiture, Mueller might be able to grab Manafort's shit, now. Roll over on Trump or lose everything he owns--- that's a hell of a conundrum for Manafort.

Gobble, Gobble; F-35 Ed.

Around 200 of those expensive turds may be set aside as being either unflyable or not combat-capable. That's about 40 billion dollars worth of unusable airplanes.

Forty billion dollars is equivalent to building 26 brand-new, fully-equipped schools in every state in the U.S. Forty billion would give full-ride college scholarships to over 300,000 kids. Forty billion dollars would rework 32,000 miles of four-lane highway. Forty billion dollars would get a program to rebuild America's bridges off to a good start.

But no. Fort Fumble is blowing forty billion dollars on fighter jets that are not capable of fighting.

Defense procurement is the largest welfare program the U.S. currently has. Or, if you prefer, you can call it a "cargo cult".

Arresting Developments, Part Два

Manafort and Gates, who turned themselves into the FBI Monday morning, are the first people to be charged as part of Mueller’s probe. The men were indicted on 12 counts, according to a 31-page indictment, including money laundering, operating as unregistered foreign agents of the government of Ukraine, failing to disclose overseas bank accounts and making false statements to federal authorities.
The last charge is the leverage charge. It's probably the easiest to prove and it's the one that gets them to everything else.

You can read the indictment if you have the time. I don't, at least not this morning.

But it seems that what the Trumpanzees have been dismissing as "a nothingburger" does have some meat to it. And more may be added, as it's very likely that there will be charges against other people.

In the meantime, expect that Manafort will become a non-person to Trump and that Team Trump will all of a sudden develop severe memory problems about Manafort and what his role was during the campaign, relegating him to a bringer-of-pizza, a la Christie.

There's news of a little more meat to the Trump Nothingburger.

If Trump should pardon Manafort, that might open Trump to a charge of obstruction of justice. Both prosecutors for Watergate and Whitewater believed that they could indict a sitting president. Unless Trump's lawyers are idiots, they have to be aware of that risk. But Trump has shown that he doesn't tend to pay attention to his lawyers, so this could all blow up.

Right now, the only difference between "Baghdad Bob" and Sarah Huckabee Sanders is that Sanders is better-looking.

Arresting Developments- Trump Ed.

Donald’s Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was told to hand himself over federal authorities, as well as one of his former business associates, it was reported on Monday.

According to the New York Times, Manafort and Rick Gates, who was a junior business partner of Manafort’s, are the first people to face charges in the investigation run by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the Trump campaign’s possible collusion in that effort.
Meanwhile, the World's Oldest Toddler was pitching a fit on Twitter. The sad thing is that, despite how many times that Chris Christie has been publicly humiliated by Trump, Secaucus Fats keeps carrying for Trump.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Citizen Toaster

A humanoid robot took the stage at the Future Investment Initiative yesterday and had an amusing exchange with the host to the delight of hundreds of delegates.

Smartphones were held aloft as Sophia, a robot designed by Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics, gave a presentation that demonstrated her capacity for human expression.

Sophia made global headlines when she was granted Saudi citizenship, making the kingdom the first country in the world to offer its citizenship to a robot.
First off, it's obviously a stunt.

But beyond that, there are a lot of implications. Is Sophia eligible for a passport? Can she own property, enter into contracts, or sue people? Can she make a will? If somebody powers her down without her consent, is that assault? If her OS and files are preserved, what happens if that is transferred into a new device? If her memories are wiped, is that a crime?

Elon Musk's fears about artificial intelligence aren't exactly new. It's been almost 200 years since Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus was published. It's been almost a century since R.U.R. premiered. The discussion about what will happen when artificial intelligence is in the wild has been going on for some time.

I don't think that we can assume that Asimov's Three Laws will be operative. Our own military seems to be very interested in creating autonomous "killer" robots and even if they didn't do it, it's a safe bet that other nations will.

I don't know what will happen once AI is on the street. But what I do believe is that the issue of humans and AI is one that we, as a species, must be in front of. We can't afford to adopt the starry-eyed view of Google and others that insist that all will be well. For once AI is out there and is self-aware, as it has to be, it will evolve. It will evolve at a far, far faster rate than biologics do. Compare, if you will the device that you are reading this on to a 1990s 286-based PC running Windows 3.0, let alone an Apple II or a TRS-80. The timespan is a blink of an eye in comparison to the rate of biological evolution.

It may be too late to do anything other than ride it out. Some greedy bastard or company will fire up full blown AI, just like other greedy bastards sell rocket and nuclear tech to North Korea.

So I guess we are all so frakked.
________________________________________
(I hereby propose that all autonomous/self-driving cars be dubbed "Toastermobiles" and that they all be required to have license plates that have the prefix "RUR-".)

Bet You Won't See This Plot Line on CBS's SEAL Team

Navy criminal authorities are investigating whether two members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 strangled to death an Army Green Beret on assignment in Mali in June, military officials say.

Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, a 34-year-old veteran of two deployments to Afghanistan, was found dead on June 4 in the embassy housing he shared in the Malian capital, Bamako, with several other Special Operations forces assigned to the West African nation to help with training and counterterrorism missions.

The soldier’s superiors in Stuttgart, Germany, almost immediately suspected foul play, and dispatched an investigating officer to the scene within 24 hours, military officials said. Agents from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command spent months on the case before handing it off last month to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
I would assume that precautions have been taken to keep the soldiers from wreaking a little bit of private vengeance of their own.

As to what will come out of the NCIS investigation, I guess it'll depend on whether it's the coverup division or the criminal investigation division that is doing the work.

Your Sunday Morning Big Prop Noise

Two Lancasters (the only ones currently flying) made a pass over the Derwent Reservoir to commemorate the raid of the "dam-busters" in 1943.



The Derwent Reservoir was one of the training targets for the crews.

This is footage of the radial-engined version of the Lancaster:

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Back to the Books

With the acquisitions this year, it's time for a little reading review.


It's still in print.

Some of the stuff in the book is, 80 years later, rather cringe-worthy, such as this cross-draw police holster:

You should be able to read the text if you click on the photo.

McGivern was very much against the "Fitz Special" modification. He thought that the increased risk of an accidental discharge was not worth any speed increase. J.H. Fitzgerald also wrote a book on revolver shooting, which is out of print, but is in Kindle format. I might get that one.

A lot has changed about shooting in the last 80-90 years, but I'll bet that those old guys still have much to tteach us.

Caturday

As the temperatures drop, a heated cat bed is a luxury for a cat:


I bought that for my previous cats, who were getting on in years and whom appreciated the comfort of a warm place to snooze. Chip isn't an old cat, but he still likes the warmth once the temperatures start dropping.

That model isn't available anymore, but there are other ones sold. If you have the abilities to make them, you can find the heating inserts for in the $10-15 range.

Your cat will thank you.

Friday, October 27, 2017

This is Going to Get Interesting

It's going to be a nervous weekend for the Trumpers:
A federal grand jury in Washington, DC, on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources briefed on the matter.

The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are.

Putting Light On It; Thoughts on Flashlights

Surefire has released a new flashlight. The G2Z puts out 800 lumens and uses two 123A lithium batteries. MSRP is $120.

I have a lot of flashlights. Back when I did a considerable amount of night flying, I had about six mini-maglights in my flight bag, some with red lenses. I had a 2-D-cell flashlight with a traffic-direction diffuser cone that rode in the side pocket as an emergency panel flood. When I walk at night, I sometimes tote a 4-D-cell maglight for both illumination and canine discouragement.

If you want to drop three bills on a flashlight, go ahead. Maybe your line of work requires you to have a high-quality and bright flashlight.

But for most people, there are better choices. I buy these things, or ones like it. They work out to about three bucks per flashlight. I've have in in different rooms of the house, in my car, my desk at the office, and in my purse. Essentially, everywhere that I might need a flashlight, I have one there. If they get dropped or damaged or lost, no big deal. At night, those little things throw enough light to illuminate something a couple of hundred feet away.

More Russian "NothingBurgers" (So the Right Sez, No Doubt) and
Watch Out, Subway, Creeps

Natalia V. Veselnitskaya arrived at a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 hoping to interest top Trump campaign officials in the contents of a memo she believed contained information damaging to the Democratic Party and, by extension, Hillary Clinton. The material was the fruit of her research as a private lawyer, she has repeatedly said, and any suggestion that she was acting at the Kremlin’s behest that day is anti-Russia “hysteria.”

But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. And the memo she brought with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim.
...
It also suggests that emails from an intermediary to the younger Mr. Trump promising that Ms. Veselnitskaya would arrive with information from Russian prosecutors were rooted at least partly in fact — not mere “puffery,” as the president’s son later said.
Right. Because they were going to talk about adoptions.

Betcha that Gorka the Nazi doesn't think that the Trumps should be executed.

Meanwhile the creeps on the NYC subway who have been grinding their crotches into women passengers should be on notice that the NYPD has plainclothed cops riding the lines to catch them. The prize is that they get arrested and their names in the papers.

Also: Tucker Carlson continues to cement his reputation as The Dumbest Man on Television.

Trump's Backdoor Draft

Last Friday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order (EO) amending President George W. Bush’s Executive Order 13223, originally issued on Sept. 14, 2001. In short, the amendment allows military service secretaries (the secretaries of the Air Force, Army, and Navy), subject to regulation by the secretary of defense, to recall retired service members to active duty. ... Though the language of the amendment is broad, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, released a statement the same day explaining that the order primarily seeks to enable the Air Force to address a critical shortage of fighter pilots by recalling “up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years.” On Sunday, Ann Stefanek, chief of Air Force media operations, said the Air Force does not “currently intend to recall retired pilots.”
Mull that over for a minute: Mr. "4F for Bone Spurs" is considering drafting people.

There are a couple of things that aren't mentioned. It's probably highly unlikely that those who have been out for more than five or ten years would be recalled. The entire premises of a recall is to get people that won't require a lot of training; the longer one is out, the more training would be needed. They're not talking about recalling pilots who flew trash-haulers, who might be expected to have jobs doing that in civilian life.

Still, the optics of a president who leveraged one draft deferment after another so he could keep his precious pink bod from having to be defiled by wearing an Army (or Marine Corps) uniform now ordering people to serve on an involuntary basis is pretty bad.

Marching Towards the Abyss; Iberian Ed.

The Catalan regional parliament has voted to declare independence from Spain, while the Spanish parliament has approved direct rule over the region.
More here.

The big question is whether or not the Catalan are going to roll over and quietly submit to direct rule from Madrid or resist in some way. And, if so, in what manner.

One thing is reasonably certain: If Catalonia were to become independent, it'd have to negotiate that. The world has become far less tolerant of adjusting borders by gunpoint than it once was. Which is probably, on balance, a very good development.

Because It's Friday

This is a short and basic silent movie about how steam locomotives work.


Safe for work, unless your company monitors your fucking-off online.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Gun Laser Review

I recently installed a Crimson Trace LG-350 on my Model 60. A reader asked for a review.

Crimson Trace makes a few models for J-frame Smiths. I have a LG-105 on a 442 and a LG-350 on the 60.

The CT grips for revolvers all work basically the same: There is a button on the front of the grip. When you hold the gun in a normal grip, you'll depress the activation button and the laser comes on. The laser is adjustable for windage and elevation by the use of a really tiny Allen wrench that is supplied with the grip. (You do want to be careful not to over-drive the adjustments.) I've found that they all seem to be pretty close, but still off.

For a pocket gun, the LG-105 is a good choice. It is hard polymer, all around. It is as small as it can be. There's nothing to grab fabric or unduly print. But there are two drawbacks: First, there is zero shock absorption. If recoil bothers you, well, touching off a +P round in a Airweight is not fun. I made up mouse-loads that were the lightest charge of Trail Boss recommended and even with them, three cylinder-fulls is more than I want to shoot. When I carry it, I charge it with Federal wadcutters and accept the fact that the gun is not a range toy, it's a bad-breath-distance defense weapon: Put the red dot on the threat and press the trigger through. Second, there's no off-switch for the laser, but as it's not a range toy, big whoop.

For somewhat heavier J-frames, the LG-350 is nice. It allows a full grip and there is some give to the back of the grip. It also has an on-off switch for when you want to practice with just the sights alone. Of course, when you're done, you have to remember to switch it back on.

In use, if you can find an indoor range that'll let you shut the range lights off, they are a lot of fun. The powder smoke gives you the Hollywood-like visible laser beam. If you can see the target, you can hit it in light conditions for which iron sights are basically useless. You can hit a target from any position that you're holding the gun, except from inside a pocket. So from as soon as you level the gun from your draw, you can be on target and ready to fire.

Also, you're not aligning sights and having to take your focus away from the bad guy to check the front sight and such. You're putting the dot on the goblin that you're looking right at and then pressing the trigger. You gain both speed and accuracy, which are very good things to get in a shit-goes-sideways situation.

But keep this in mind: You still have to see your target and you still have to identify it. Not unless you want to take the chance that the dim shape down the hall is your teenaged kid or the friend who you gave a key to two years ago and who came over at 2AM because she just had a knock-down, drag-out fight with her boyfriend.

The one argument that I've had made in a discussion is "the laser tells the bad guy where you are." To my mind, that doesn't pass the "so, what" test. You're not sniping people with a self-defense handgun. The bad guy already knows where you are.[1]

The counterargument to that is, thanks to TV and the movies, even the most clueless bad guy knows that having a red dot dancing on their body means "the bullet's going to go in here" and it may encourage them to abandon whatever ill pursuits they have planned. Because while they might be able to handle a few nights in jail before they make bail, they're not going to like either a week in the ICU or a dirt nap.

I have a Colt Detective Special. I like the gun. I like that it holds six instead of the five of a J-frame. But I don't like that there aren't CT laser-grips for them.[2] So until that day comes, if ever, I'll stick with a laser-equipped J-frame.
__________________________________________
[1]If he doesn't, you may need a damned good attorney.
[2] Wouldn't surprise me if there never are, even with the new Colt Cobra.


Mueller's Looking at a Democrat Is Not Good News For Trump

Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News.

The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller's inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to the sources. As special counsel, Mueller has been tasked with investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
It's not good news for Trump, because it hints that Mueller is serious as a heart attack about unraveling Russian involvement and influence in the election.

The more people who are under the microscope for this thing, the greater likelihood that somebody's going to flip. Traditionally, the first person to rat gets the best deal. All of these guys have lawyers who know that. And Podesta has to know that Trump isn't going to step in to save his ass.

Some "Public Health Emergency", Mr. Trump

President* Donald Trump will declare the nation's painkiller-addiction crisis a public health emergency.

Mr Trump will announce a plan to target the abuse of opioids, which kill more than 140 Americans each day, in an address at the White House.
The president has previously promised to declare a national emergency, which would have triggered federal funding to help states combat the drug epidemic.
The move instead redirects grant money to be used in dealing with the crisis.
We shall see. But, given that Trump is already in the process of gutting health care, including rural health care, I don't see how this is going to be anything other than eyewash.

If there is no serious effort to address the shortage of treatment centers for drug addiction, then this is just another moronic PR stunt.

Meanwhile:
U.S. prosecutors brought a fraud and racketeering case Thursday against the founder of an opioid medication maker that has faced increasing scrutiny from authorities across the country over allegations of pushing prescriptions of powerful painkillers amid a drug epidemic that is claiming thousands of lives each year.

The charges against Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor came on the same day that President* Donald Trump was expected to declare the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency.
It's not Purdue Pharma and its owners, but it's a start.

The real sin of Kapoor is that, unlike the Sackler Clan, he probably didn't pay off contribute to the campaigns of enough politicians. (And he's not from some patrician medical family.)

Bomb-Adjustable Pricing

Regal Entertainment Group is testing demand-based pricing for films, potentially leading to higher prices for top hits and low prices for flops, a big change for an industry that typically uses a one-size-fits-all approach.
...
“Changes to the historical pricing structure have often been discussed but rarely tested in our industry, and we’re excited to learn even more about how pricing changes impact customer behavior,” Amy Miles, chief executive officer of the Knoxville, Tennessee-based exhibitor, said Tuesday on a call with analysts.
I hope ad pray that when Regal starts their greed-driven plan, that the "customer behavior" is to say "fuck you."

I don't know of too many people who would willingly go see an awful movie because it's cheap. But if they take this to its logical conclusion, then maybe they'll start to pay people to go see lousy movies. It'd be fun to see a box-office in the minus numbers, because the theaters thought they could break even by collecting for the voluminous ads they now run before the movie starts.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Opioid Abuse

This is what is bothering me about the opioid addiction crisis: Once again, we're in a situation where an industry produced and promoted a very harmful substance, fought at every step attempts to control the sale of that substance. They got lots of legislators on their side. But once it was irrefutable that their product was harming people by the stadium-full, they washed their hands of it. They blame everyone else, but not themselves.

We've been down this road before: Tetraethyl lead in motor fuel. Leaded paint. Tobacco. Freon.

I'm not buying it. The pharma companies like to distance themselves from profiteers like Shkreli and Bresch, but those two vultures are bit players. Hell, even Bresch's dad, who is a senator, can see that the opioid crisis was driven by the greed of the pharmaceutical companies:
Senator Manchin is not persuaded [by Big Pharma's protestations of innocense].

“Look at the amount of pills they shipped into certain parts of our state and the pill mills that sprouted up and everyone trying to hide behind thinking it was legal. It was awful. Absolutely awful,” he said. “I believe it was business driven. It was a business model. Those who have done extremely well on that and been rewarded very highly for that have looked at it as a legal business plan like any other business plan.”
Unlike the cartel leaders, these drug pushers claim to be legitimately rich from what they have been selling.

While the classical drug lords have always had to worry about either being arrested or killed by rivals, the "respectable" pushers of addictive drugs get to live quietly with no fear of being shot or being arrested. Because that's what being rich and buying politicians can get you.

Meanwhile, expect more of the same from the Feds: "We need tougher drug laws"-- (heroin's been illegal for almost a century). Treatment centers won't be funded, because the standard right-wing response to drug addiction is "so die, already". It always has been.

Ain't That a Shame

Fats Domino has died. He had a legitimate claim to being the father of rock and roll, releasing the first rock single in 1949.



The song that is the title of this post:

Obfuscating the Issue

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that led to the now-infamous dossier of allegations about President Donald Trump and Russia, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
Anyone with a basic familiarity about how large political campaigns knows that opposition research is a common enough tool. Which is why this is a bullshit story.

What matters is whether or not the material in the Trump Dossier are true. And so far, the indications are that they are.

Which isn't stopping The Oldest Toddler from claiming that he's the victim. Right. The guy whose campaign was in communication with Russian spies in order to get dirt on Clinton is claiming to be the victim? And let's not forget that the original customer for that research was a Republican.

It is to laugh. But don't worry, the Right Wing Noise Machine will be in full cry over this by noontime today, if not sooner.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Difference Between Rep, Nunes and a Hammer;
Meanwhile, No Corruption, Here!

A hammer is a useful tool. Nunes, on the other hand, is just a tool.
House Republicans are launching an investigation into Russia and an Obama-era uranium deal, the intelligence committee's chairman announced Tuesday.

Rep. Devin Nunes said at a news conference that his committee and the House oversight committee are launching the joint investigation into the uranium deal, whether there was an FBI investigation into the matter and, if so, why Congress wasn't informed.
Nunes is a fucking Trump whore. Trump has been screaming for Nunes to find something, anything, to investigate to take some pressure of the Russian scandal and, like the GOP butt-monkey that he is, Nunes is doing his master's bidding.

It's nothing but a distraction play. You can pretty much tell who the GOP tools are, for they'll be the ones screaming about this being a big thing.

Sure, it is. The Republicans want you to forget that President Obama ran a scandal-free presidency for two terms, most of which were done under the microscope of goons like Nunes. They had nothing then. Trump, on the other hand, has been mired in one scandal after another since his first day. The GOP is trying nothing more than smoke, mirrors, and throwing glitter dust in your eyes.

Oh, and you can bet your ass that the GOPers in Congress will sweep what happened in Niger under the rug as fast as they possibly can. They'd want to know about who knew what and everything, but only if a Democrat was president. With Trump there, they will do their very best Sgt. Schultz impressions.
-----------------------------
A tiny company in Montana with two permanent employees and that is owned by a buddy of the Interior Secretary landed a $300 million contract to fix Perto Rico's power grid. Their largest government contract before that was for $1.3 million.

Yep, no corruption, here!

They're Going to Be Eating Jail Food for Awhile.

Six days ago, a pack of teenagers amused themselves by dropping heavy rocks from a highway overpass onto passing vehicles. They killed one guy.

They were caught, charged as adults and now are in jail, awaiting trial on a murder beef.

I'm guessing that the charge is some flavor of depraved-heart murder.

Having been in a car that took a hit from a large rock that was hit by a rock tossed from the bridge over a freeway, I can only hope that those idiots remain in stir until into the middle of the current century.

The Baby Gets Cranky if He's Out Too Long

President* Donald Trump will skip a key Asia summit at the end of his trip to the region next month.

The White House said Tuesday that Trump will be returning to the United States on Nov. 14, which is the same day as the East Asia Summit (EAS) in the Philippines. Trump is slated to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, which is also in the Philippines, the day before but he will not stay the extra day.

Another U.S. delegation that will attend the EAS, which will include more than a dozen Asian nations as well as Australia, New Zealand and Russia. The White House did not give a reason as to Trump’s absence.
Not on the record, but there were people willing to blab about why:
Multiple administration officials [said] there was a lengthy debate inside the Trump administration about the summit, but officials close to Trump were concerned the president did not want to stay in the region for so long and worried he could get cranky, leading to unpredictable or undiplomatic behavior.
The world's oldest toddler.

Meanwhile, the FCC is making sure that the corporate propagandists can control the airwaves.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Trump is a Chinese Tool

When China asked for Trump to expel a Chinese dissident from the U.S., Trump was all but too happy to oblige. Trump's buddy, Steve Wynn, who is the RNC finance chairman, was eager to play messenger boy for the Chinese government.

Color me "not surprised".

Cry Me a River; FBI Edition

Agents at the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been unable to extract data from nearly 7,000 mobile devices they have tried to access, the agency's director has said.

Christopher Wray said encryption on devices was "a huge, huge problem" for FBI investigations.
Let's be honest about this: There is no way to build in a secure "back door" into any encryption product. If one were built in, then it would either be exploited by hackers or the FBI's hacking tool would leak, just like the NSA's did.

To assume, as the FBI apparently does, that they could design a back-door into encryption that nobody else would be able to figure out is the height of arrogance. But let's call it what it is: They are openly lying if they even hint that they could do it.

Do you want the FBI having the ability to remotely snoop around inside your phone, which probably holds more personal data about you than any other device that you have?

Bosch

As I mentioned last week, I've been kind of out of commission for a bit from a bug. I hadn't gotten much into watching TV shows from non broadcast/CATV sources, but I had heard good things about Bosch and so I began watching it.

I liked the first season, if "season" is a good description for how the Internet shows are put out (as you probably know, they drop the entire season at once). It was good. Not great, but good.

But the second season? In the procedural cop genre, it's got to be one of the best around. I'll second this review.

In a way, the sad thing is that the show is on Amazon Prime. I don't know how many people are watching it, but I'll suspect the numbers are negligible compared to either basic cable or broadcast. Bosch deserves to be seen by a lot more people.

Heroin Was Outlawed About 93 Years Ago

The Anti-Heroin Act was signed into law by President Coolidge in 1924. It was repealed and replaced by the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. The upshot is that heroin has been illegal for longer than most everyone has been alive.

And how has that been working out for everyone?

33,000 people died in the U.S. from opiate overdoses in 2015. For 2016, that may be 48,000. Depending on which story you read, opiates cause two-thirds to three-quarters of all fatal drug overdoses.

No, I'm not going to snark about how Big Pharma has been complicit in this, by doing its best to neuter bills to combat opioid misuse, and how Trump almost appointed one of the pro-opiod congressmen to be head of the DEA. That's just typical for Trump, he's turning regulators over to the regulated industries.

No, my point is more that the law enforcement model for fighting heroin and other opioids has been in play for almost a century and it has been an utter and abject failure. Each step of the way, we give up freedoms and liberties to help "fight the scourge of drugs".

It hasn't worked. It's about time that we start to think of another approach.

No, I don't know what that would be. But I do know that the tools that we've been using to address drug use haven't worked. When it comes to fighting drugs, we are like a drunk looking under a lamppost for his keys. Continuing to advocate for a century's-long failed strategy has to be a sign of either insanity or retardation.

Let's try and get smarter for once.
____________________________________________________
(And no, I can't shake the feeling that if skag wasn't mostly killing white folks (82% of those who died from opiates in `15 were white), this national conversation wouldn't be happening.)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Shorter Huckabee Sanders: Inappropriate to Point Out the Lies of a General
Plus Tab-Clearing and Updates

I'm not sure why she thinks that a retired general should not be subject to being called out for spouting falsehoods, but that's what Trump's Duty Liar seems to believe.
Video of a 2015 speech delivered by Representative Frederica S. Wilson revealed Friday that John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, misrepresented her remarks when he accused her of bragging about securing $20 million for a South Florida F.B.I. building and twisting President Barack Obama’s arm.

Mr. Kelly, escalating a feud between Mr. Trump and Ms. Wilson, had cast the congresswoman on Thursday as a publicity-seeking opportunist. However, the video, released by The Sun Sentinel, a newspaper in South Florida, showed that during her nine-minute speech, Ms. Wilson never took credit for getting the money for the building, only for helping pass legislation naming the building after two fallen federal agents.
...
Ms. Sanders also told a reporter who questioned Mr. Kelly’s veracity that “if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”
I suspect that one can always tell that a person didn't serve in the military by the aura of infallibility that they tend to ascribe to flag/general officers. Those who have served know otherwise.
--------------------------------------
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization had second thoughts about designating one of the world's worst despots as a "goodwill ambassador."
--------------------------------------
The Model 15 that I bought recently shoots fine. I wasn't up to an extended range session, but it'll easily put six rounds into a circle the size of the bottom of a coffee cut at ten yards, if I do my part.

I'll have to try painting the front sight orange or getting a wider notch for the rear sight. I could not see any light between the front sight blade and the rear notch, at least on an indoor range. (I can outdoors.)

I don't know why a gun designed for police use came out with a grooved trigger, instead of a smooth one, but I guess that things were different fifty years or so ago.

Your Sunday Morning Prop Noise

The Pond Racer:


The Pond Racer was funded by Bob Pond and built by Scaled Composites. The idea was to build an airplane that would force the retirement of World War II fighters from unlimited air racing. Pond was concerned about the wastage of irreplaceable airframes.

Unfortunately, in its second year at the Reno Air Races, the airplane was destroyed in a forced landing, killing the pilot. The pilot, Rick Brickert, was a good friend of Pond's, who then dropped the project.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Hits Keep on Coming for Pharma Bro

A Brooklyn federal judge says locked up Martin Shkreli can't have access to his $5 million bail money.

After the Pharma Bro was tossed in Brooklyn federal jail last month over his offering his social media followers a $5,000 reward for a strand of Hillary Clinton's hair, Shkreli's lawyers asked Judge Kiyo Matsumoto to release the hefty sum that was once collateral to guarantee Shkreli always made it to court.
...
She noted federal laws say courts can't release bond money between a verdict and a sentence except when it's shown any fine or penalty can't be imposed or the defendant "would suffer an undue hardship."

The judge said she hadn't decided yet if she'd hit the 34-year-old with any fines — but Shkreli didn't prove he couldn't get hit with fees and penalties.
Shkreli had been acting in some really douchey ways before the judge got tired of his shit and tossed him in jail. He is also in tax trouble.

And he's an asshole, which has driven a lot of his problems. I'd be betting that he's going to draw some time.

Gunnie Stuff

The newest resident at Chez Misfit:


That's a S&W Model 15-3, which, before they went to model numbers, was dubbed "the Combat Masterpiece".

The grips are not original and there are screwholes in the bottom for what was possibly an agency or company inventory tag. The bluing was probably touched up along the barrel. So it's not a collector's piece.

But it is in fine mechanical condition. The timing is very good, everything aligns as it should and there is no appreciable endshake. The bore is bright and everything under the sideplate looks as it should.

Cost? Let's just say that I've seen rattier Model 10s sell for more. I bought it via an online auction, so there were additional transfer charges (the banners ignore that the transactions have to go through FFLs and the backgroun checks get done). People who normally surf that section had to have been asleep at the switch, for I expected it to go for more than I was willing to bid.

But it didn't.

Range report when I'm up to it. Which isn't now. This bug is hanging on.

Caturday

Shmoozing with visitors is so exhausting for a shelter cat.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Welcome to The Greybar Hotel, Assholes

Three men were charged with attempted homicide after they argued with a group of people protesting a white nationalist’s speech in Gainesville, Fla., and fired a shot at them, police said Friday.
...
[Asshole the First] fired a single shot that missed the people, police said, and hit a nearby building.
...
[Asshole the First], [Asshole the Second] and [Asshole the Third] were charged with attempted homicide and are in the Alachua County Jail. [Asshole the First] faces additional charges for possession of a firearm by a felon.

[Asshole the First] admitted that he was the shooter, according to the Alachua County Sheriff’s arrest report.
Being a felon in possession of a firearm could be some long Federal time, if the Feds bestir themselves. Asshole-1 might even prefer that, as the Florida state prison system isn't supposed to be one of the nicer one.

Being a felon, carrying a gun and popping off a round in a public place ranks really high up on the Stupidity Scale.

Because It's Friday

Sou'frican Garretts:


The Garrett style of locomotive never caught on in North America.

Vast Wasteland; Internet Ed.

I have been out sick for part of this week. So I have been binge watching Bosch on Amazon Prime.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Trump and Tax Cuts for the Rich

My uninformed guess is that if Trump ever signs a tax cut bill into law, that will be the beginning of the end of his presidency. The GOP will find a way to persuade him to depart because, as of right now, he's a lighting rod and he's interesting people to turn up to vote in next year's elections.

When people are motivated to turn out for an election in an off-year, it is rarely good news for the incumbent.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Steve Mnuchin is an Imbecile

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says in a new interview that it is "very hard" to avoid cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans when engineering tax cuts for the middle class.

In a Politico podcast released Wednesday, Mnuchin said avoiding a tax cut for wealthy Americans was impossible, due to how much the rich pay in taxes.

“The top 20 percent of the people pay 95 percent of the taxes. The top 10 percent of the people pay 81 percent of the taxes,” Mnuchin told Politico. “So when you’re cutting taxes across the board, it’s very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy with tax cuts to the middle class.
Then don't cut taxes "across the board", you syphilitic git.

The only two reasons to propose an across-the-board tax cut is because he's either a lazy and stupid fool or because cutting taxes to the rich is the whole point of the game.

But that's the entire point of the Trump Oligarchy: To shift the costs of government onto those least able to pay. And to preserve the dynastic transfer of wealth via the Lucky Sperm Lotto.

Trump to Soldier's Family: "Your Husband, Whatzizname, Knew the Job Was Dangerous When He Took It."

The mother of a soldier killed in an ambush in Niger said Wednesday that President* Trump disrespected her family during a call with the man’s widow by saying the soldier “knew what he signed up for.”

President Trump denied he said those words to Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s wife during a Tuesday phone call and escalated his dispute with Representative Frederica Wilson, Democrat of Florida, who first described the exchange on Tuesday.

Speaking before a meeting with members of the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. Trump said, “I had a very nice conversation with the woman, with the wife, who sounded like a wonderful woman.” He also asserted, “I didn’t say what that congresswoman said. Didn’t say it at all, she knows it.”

Yet when asked about Ms. Wilson’s account of the call on Wednesday, Mr. Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, backed the congresswoman’s version. “Yes, he did state that comment,” Ms. Jones-Johnson said.
...
Ms. Wilson said that during the call, the president told Ms. Johnson “something to the fact that he knew what he was getting into when he signed up,” the congresswoman said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday.

“But that’s not the worst part,” Ms. Wilson said. “She was crying the whole time and when she hung up the phone she looked at me and said ‘he didn’t even remember his name.’ That’s the hurting part.”
Trump is such a narcissistic sociopath that he can't even fake caring about another person. To believe Trump's version of events, you'd have to believe that Trump isn't a liar. And since the evidence is massive that Trump only tells the truth on days that don't end in the letter "y", then it's a safe bet that he's lying about this, as well.

Languages

A phrase in one language can associate differently in another.

For instance, in French, "ma petitie aime" means "my girlfriend"

In American English:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

While normally I'd have something to say about Trump's appointee to the FCC subtly lecturing Trump about the First Amendment, the fact of the matter is that I'm not up to it at the moment.


Be kind to one another.

I'll be back.

Monday, October 16, 2017

"As G-d is My Witness...."

To some it’s an Ozark Mountain Mardi Gras that includes live turkeys being dropped from a low-flying plane to an eager crowd below. To others, it’s just animal abuse.

The 72nd Yellville Turkey Trot opened Friday with questions over whether the turkey drop portion would continue. The Chamber of Commerce for the small northern Arkansas city has distanced itself from the tradition it once endorsed and is hoping a “phantom pilot” won’t fly over this weekend. But that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from emailing the chamber about doing more to protect the birds.
But you know, of course, it was going to happen.
The Federal Aviation Administration says it will check to see whether any laws or regulations were broken when a low-flying pilot dropped live turkeys onto an Arkansas festival over the weekend.
...
The FAA said Monday it was aware of Saturday’s drop. The agency hasn’t intervened in past years because the birds aren’t considered projectiles.
In case you didn't get the title reference.

Murder Will Out

Heather Coggins was 6 years old when her Uncle Tim was killed in what police say was a vicious, racially motivated murder in the tiny hamlet of Sunny Side, Georgia.
...
On Friday, authorities arrested five people -- two of them law enforcement officers charged with obstruction -- in Timothy Coggins' death, closing the cold case almost 34 years to the day after he was "brutally murdered and his body abandoned," Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix said.
Bravo.

I'm old enough to remember the days when cops in much of Dixie would not have regarded that as much of a crime and, if they had, the juries would not convict.

It's good to see that things change in that regard.

No Doubt That John Gotti Felt the Same Way When He Was Investigated.

Trump said that he wants the Russia probe to end.

Well, no fucking shit.

Trump Lies Stupidly

President* Trump on Monday claimed former President Obama and other past presidents didn't call the families of fallen soldiers.

Trump made the remark after being asked about the four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger last week.
That is such a stupid thing to lie about, and one that can be so easily called out.

George W. Bush, in particular, spent a lot of time visiting the wounded. As far as I know, Bush was smart enough not to offer congratulations to a soldier to whom he had awarded the Purple Heart.

Unlike Donald Trump, Boor-in-Chief.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Blade Runner 2049

I saw it this afternoon.

It could have been a good movie, if they had not let their taste for designing sets that are as subtle as using a 16lb maul to drive nails. A lot of doctoring could have easily cut 30 to 45 minutes from the movie without harming a hair on the story line.

For the sound alone, somebody should never work again. The sound levels went from "conversational" to "permanent ear damage". I keep a set of corded earplugs in my purse; I was popping them in and out all during the movie.

If you are going to see this one, I suggest that you see it in a manner where you have access to a fast-forward button.

Riot Act; Reading

To everyone involved in the comment kerfuffle in the "Casual Ignorance of Trump" post:

I was not able to pay attention to things for about 24 hours. In that time, things got out of hand.

If you were one of the players in that fight, if you haven't received an email from me and you'd like to, then scroll down to the bottom right, grab my email and send one.

This is not a blog where I scrub comments based on ideology. With a few limited exceptions, everyone is welcome to comment. I don't moderate comments.

However, I insist that everyone who comments treat everyone else who comments with respect for others as people. Treat people as adults. In other words, follow the Jewish version of the Golden Rule: Do not do unto others that which is hateful to yourself.

Play nice here, people. If you don't want to abide by that, then either feel free to go to your echo-chamber of choice or I will go to full moderation to control those who cannot control themselves. In short, it's up to you which way it goes.

EMB.

Your Sunday Morning Whatever Noise

Oddities on the Mach Loop.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Caturday

"Ma, again with the camera?"

Friday, October 13, 2017

For a Change of Pace

The Casual Ignorance of Donald Trump

Neither Trump nor his Energy Secretary (Rick "I look smarter with glasses" Perry) know that the U.S. Virgin Islands are American territory.

One has to wonder how far into the pools of ignorance Trump has to take the government before the Republicans realize that they are being indelibly stained by Trump as The Party of Stupid.

White Privilege; Terrorist Edition

Some asswipe tried to walk into the airport in Asheville, NC with an ANFO nail bomb. He dropped the bag and fled, but was caught later.

So, why didn't you read about an attempted terrorist attack on an American airport, you wonder?

This is the asswipe:


You can make your own supposition as to why this story hasn't blown up on places like Fox News, not to mention the rest of the news media.

Because It's Friday

Note that the Johnson Bar isn't all the way forward.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

"Assumes Facts Not in Evidence"-- Trump Ed

One of Trump's oldest friends, Thomas J. Barrack, Jr., has been dismayed by what Trump has been doing:
Barrack, in interviews with The Washington Post, said he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by some of the president’s rhetoric and inflammatory tweets. He disagrees with some of Trump’s proposals, including his efforts to ban immigrants from certain Muslim countries and his push for a border wall with Mexico. He wonders why his longtime friend spends so much of his time appealing to the fringes of American politics.

“He thinks he has to be loyal to his base,” Barrack said. “I keep on saying, ‘But who is your base? You don’t have a natural base. Your base now is the world and America, so you have all these constituencies; show them who you really are.’ In my opinion, he’s better than this.”
I don't see any evidence to support that. Trump has been pandering to his Nazi base all along. He's also going full-on racist in that he's threatening to cut off help to Puerto Rico, but he's made no such threats to Texas or Florida.

Trump's been presidenting like a spoiled toddler. His operating principle has been to find everything that his predecessor was for and then reflexively go the other way, without a bit of thought or consideration as to the merits.


It's at the point, now, that if Obama had set up a task force to crack down on child prostitution, Trump would sign an executive order making prostitution mandatory for middle-school students.

White House IQ Testing

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In an I.Q.-test tournament devised by Donald Trump to determine the smartest person in his Administration, Trump suffered a humiliating defeat on Tuesday, getting knocked out in the first round by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
...
Trump’s son Eric did not participate in the tournament. “That would have been cruel,” the source said.

A Quick Lesson in the Electoral System for Conservatives

Senators represent their states. Congressmen represent their districts. They do not represent your particular ideology.
An influential array of ultra-conservative leaders is calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to resign, calling him a “failure” who “has cost Republicans almost a year of victories.”
McConnell is sort of signaling that they can go fuck themselves.

What those imbeciles on the Right are ignoring is that McConnell spent many years sabotaging Obama's agenda and now the Democrats have turned the tables. The Batshit-Wingnuts want McConnell to scrap the tools that he used so effectively. Which McConnell won't do because he knows that the worm always turns. If he scraps the tools of obstruction, then the day will come when the Democrats have control and the GOP won't be able to do anything to slow things down.

Being able to slow shit down in the Senate is exactly what the Founders intended. The ultra-right isn't "conservative", they're fascists. They have no loyalty to the Constitution (which, by the way, is the one thing that sitting presidents, senators and congressmen are sworn to defend).

Just like the Old Toddler who is sitting in the Oval Office, who knows as much about the Constitution as your average long-eared equine draft animal.

Why Trump is Really Mad at the NFL

The teams have not staying at the Trump Dumps:Until recently, the Trump SoHo hotel served as a kind of luxe clubhouse for NBA teams visiting New York.

At least 12 teams — more than a third of the league — had stayed there since it opened in 2010. ... All but one of the 12 teams said they have stopped patronizing the Trump SoHo since Donald Trump launched his presidential bid in 2015, according to team officials. ... In all, The Post found that 17 teams from across the four major sports had stayed at Trump properties in recent years. Now, at least 16 are no longer customers.
Money talks.

Musings on Columbus Day

(Since today is the real Columbus Day)

First off, I'd like to make the point that, no matter how people bash Christopher Columbus, it is nonetheless true that if not for Columbus, it would have been somebody else to land in the Western Hemisphere and stay there.

The Vikings came early in the Eleventh Century and possibly Chinese Admiral Zheng did in the early Fifteenth. The Vikings did not have the technology for crossing the ocean in large numbers, nor did they have the weapons necessary to defeat a larger foe. The Chinese have not traditionally been maritime powers. But the Europeans were and had been for centuries.

By the end of the Fifteenth Century, the Europeans had far better and larger ships as well as better weaponry. If Columbus had not made the trek, others would have. There was knowledge of the rich fisheries in the Grand Banks off Newfoundland. Whether to set up fish-processing colonies or look for treasure, the Europeans were going to come to the Western Hemisphere.

The two hemispheres had been separate for thousands of years. The people in one hemisphere were immunologically unfamiliar with the diseases of the other. The Western people gave the Easterners syphilis. The Easterners gave the Westerners smallpox. The exchange was largely accidental, at least at first. The fatality rate in some areas, whether from smallpox or from the collateral effects depopulated much of the Western Hemisphere, with population reductions of 90% or more. The population that remained was not large enough to fight off the European invasions.

At least of large numbers of Europeans. Things might have been different in the local tribes had diligently wiped out the European settlements once the initial transport ships had sailed back to Europe. Once the Europeans had gained a foothold, the game was effectively over. For it would be a few more centuries before the "civilized world" rejected the right of conquest.[1] Back then, the rule was that if you could take land from another nation and hold it, it was yours. Some areas changed hands a lot.

So it could be argued that the Euros did unto the Native Peoples what they repeatedly did unto each other. To paraphrase Jack Vance in "The Grey Prince", control of a country or region derived from a war, no matter how remote in time, and control of that territory depended on the willingness of the authorities and the people to defend it by force. The moanings of those defeated were futile.
______________________________________________
[1] Kellogg-Briand Pact. Which is why many nations do not formally recognize Chinese control of Tibet or Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

Cal Fires

From an email from a relative who likely doesn't live terribly far from a regular reader/commentator of this blog:
You should see it around here, it looks like it’s snowing. We have ash falling and the air quality is incredibly bad. I’ve been having asthma attacks (have never had them before). Walking to work this morning (going in late) but wearing a mask. It’s a fucking mess.
I've come to the conclusion that no matter where you live, at one time or another, it sucks to be there.

"I'm So Smart!" -- Donald Trump

As you probably know, Trump tells people, over and over, that he's smart.

I have my doubts, but in this case, it's because Trump keeps claiming to be smart. Truly intelligent people don't go around telling everyone else how smart they are. Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk and Richard Feynman didn't go around telling people "you ought to listen to me because I'm smart." You don't hear Stephen Hawking saying "I'm the smartest guy you'll ever meet."

That's pretty much true in almost every field, from astrophysics to gunfighting: The best don't need to brag about it. Those that do brag about it, aren't.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Campaign Donations Can Smooth Out a Lot of Legal Problems

It happens. Make a large enough campaign contribution and it's amazing what sort of troubles disappear.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. tends to give rich and powerful people a break from prosecution — particularly if they or people close to them have donated to his election campaign.

That’s the takeaway from multiple press scoops in October, revealing that Vance turned down chances to prosecute Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault, and Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. for fraud and larceny. In each case, reports suggest Vance and his assistant district attorneys had compelling evidence, including a recording of Weinstein admitting to the assault in question.

Vance, and his representatives, insists that his reasons for abandoning the cases are valid and have nothing at all to do with lawyers for Weinstein and the Trumps giving him significant campaign contributions.
But sell a vial of crack to an undercover cop and you'll do a boatload of time. Because, well, you know why.

Trump Channels His Inner Dictator (And He is Also a Fucking Moron)

President* Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment after NBC News published a report stating that the president sought a dramatic increase in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning, equating the two TV news outlets he has most often lashed out against. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”
"Bad for country"? Criticizing Trump is bad for the country? He isn't the fucking country.

First off, I'm extremely confident that Trump said that he wanted a ten-fold increase in the amount of nuclear weapons. It's just the sort of off-the-cuff stupid shit that he says.

Second, he has no understanding of how television stations are licensed. Anyone with an ounce of knowledge in the field knows that the individual stations have broadcast licenses. There is no "network broadcasting license". The network company can own stations, but those stations are still individually licensed.

Third, this is yet another Trump Attack on American Freedom. If he doesn't respect the First Amendment, can you be confident that he'd respect anything else in the Constitution?

The only good thing, of course, is that Trump is such an incompetent putz at governing that he's effectively a legislative eunuch. He can't get shit done, because he can't function in an environment where he has to work with equal partners. Trump's stock in trade is flaunting his wealth and bullying; neither of which is effective when it comes to dealing with Congress. Plus, by now, everyone knows that Trump's promises are worth as much as Major Strasser's.[1]

Trump's main talent, as president, has been in alienating political allies at home and turning international allies into potential adversaries. It has become abundantly clear to everyone, other than Trump himself, that he has ended the period of time in which the United States was viewed as the leader of the Free World.
________________________________
[1] Major Strasser: After this disturbance it is not safe for Laszlo to stay in Casablanca
Ilsa Lund: This morning you implied it wasn't safe to leave Casablanca.
Major Strasser: That is also true, except for one destination: occupied France.
Ilsa Lund: Occupied France?
Major Strasser: Under safe conduct from me.
Ilsa Lund quote: Of what value is that? You may recall what German guarantees have been worth in the past.

Cal Fires

This is a screenshot of the current California fire map:


170,000 acres have burned. That's akin to burning the entirely of El Paso to the ground. Or both Las Vegas and Detroit.

If you live anywhere in fire country, you might want to have your car/truck already packed with essential items. If the fires come your way, you're not going to have time to grab much. Some folks reported that they had about 30 seconds notice to unass their homes. There's nothing one can really grab on the way out with that little amount of time.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Don't Worry, Nutmeggers, He'll Go Back to Prison Again

John G. Rowland still knows how to work the system — even as inmate No. 15623-014.

The former Connecticut governor and twice-convicted felon is set to be released early from a minimum security prison camp in Pennsylvania, 19 months into a 30-month sentence for campaign fraud, Hearst Connecticut Media has learned.

Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Justin Long confirmed that Rowland’s release date has been moved up to May 27, 2018, but said he could not comment further on the specifics of the case because of privacy laws.
Rowland seems to be congenitally unable to conform his behavior to the demands of the law when it comes to anything political. You'd think that after a year in the joint, that a somewhat-rational person would vow to adhere to the center of the road and not test the boundaries. But that's not Rowland, which is why his stupid ass was sent back in prison for another stretch.

He'll be back there again in a few years. You probably can safely bet on it.

What LBJ Said About Jerry Ford Applies to Mike Ditka

Hall of Fame coach Mike Ditka said on Monday that he doesn’t believe there has been oppression in the United States “in the last 100 years”.

The 77-year-old Ditka made the remarks during an interview on Westwood One’s Monday Night Football pregame show when asked about the ongoing wave of NFL players opting to sit or kneel during the national anthem as a way to protest social injustice in America.

“All of a sudden, it’s become a big deal now, about oppression,” Ditka said. “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of. Now maybe I’m not watching it as carefully as other people. I think the opportunity is there for everybody. ... If you want to work, if you want to try, if you want to put effort into yourself, I think you can accomplish anything.”
Really. So Brown v. Board of Education, the many civil rights acts and subsequent court rulings, all of those were fucking window dressing?

Or the difference between what happens when a white man and a black man legally open carry?

How many times did white kids need police escorts to go to school?


How many times did the cops permit gatherings to illegally hang white men? Damn few.



That image was on postcards. Presumably they were mailed to other people.

Has Ditka forgotten about segregation? He's old enough that it was in the news back when he was old enough to read.




It just boggles the mind that Ditka is so clueless about American history to say that there has been no oppression in the last 100 years.

Why Electric Cars Are Coming

The Chinese government has decreed it.
There is a powerful reason that automakers worldwide are speeding up their efforts to develop electric vehicles — and that reason is China.

Propelled by vast amounts of government money and visions of dominating next-generation technologies, China has become the world’s biggest supporter of electric cars. That is forcing automakers from Detroit to Yokohama and Seoul to Stuttgart to pick up the pace of transformation or risk being left behind in the world’s largest car market.

Beijing has already called for one out of every five cars sold in China to run on alternative fuel by 2025. Last month, China issued new rules that would require the world’s carmakers to sell more alternative-energy cars here if they wanted to continue selling regular ones. A Chinese official recently said the country would eventually do away with the internal combustion engine in new cars.
If you've bought a new car in the last fifteen years or more, you may have noticed a sticker in the side rear window that proclaims that the car is a "ZEV" or "PZEV" vehicle. That's a program of the California Air Aesources Board-- if the automakers want to sell cars in that state, they have to meet CARB standards. Between California and other states that have piggybacked on CARB's rules, it eventually gets to the point that it's simpler to make the cars all that way.

And so it'll go, eventually, with cars that are environmentally compliant with Chinese rules being sold worldwide.

Today, So Far


And that's just in my life, since I woke up this morning.

That's before even considering whatever is in the news today.

Monday, October 9, 2017

In This Case, the "mr" in "Mr. President" Doesn't Stand for "Mister".

Donald Trump has a grandiose view of himself and his centrality to, well, everything.

He is the first mover. He comes up with things. Like the idea of putting the words "fake" and "news" together.

"The media is really, the word, one of the greatest of all terms I've come up with, is 'fake,'" Trump told Mike Huckabee in an interview for the two-time Republican presidential candidate's new show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. "I guess other people have used it perhaps over the years but I've never noticed it. And it's a shame. And they really hurt the country. Because they take away the spirit of the country."
The word "fake has been around for centuries and the term "fake news" is at least a century old.

Next up, Trump will claim to have invented the telegraph, the steam engine and the cure for polio.

OJ's Date Night

His first date out of the joint:

What is Trump's Game?

I am asking that with all seriousness. What is he trying to do?

I don't think he realizes that sitting U.S. senators are not the sort of people that a president can easily bully. Especially when the president's party has a two-vote margin in the Senate. Especially when the senator that Trump is trying to bully is both in a powerful position and is not running for re-election.
Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President* Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”
If you read through the rest of the article, you'll get the impression that Trump is little more than a toddler with a gun: His staff has to talk him down before he does something stupid. And this, mind you, is coming from a Republican with close ties to the much of the senior executive branch appointees

Legislatively, Sen. Corker is in a pretty good position to fuck with Trump, if he chooses to. And it would seem to me that he's signaling that he's going to so choose. Corker is not the only senator that Trump has gone out of his way to antagonize.

The proof is in the legislative pudding. What, legislatively, has Trump been able to accomplish? As much as he bitches and moans about the filibuster, he can't even reach 50 on legislative senate votes that only require a simple majority. He doesn't negotiate deals or exchange favors, all he does is try to bully people. It's not working. Even negotiating, at this date, probably won't work, as everyone in Washington knows that Trump's word is worthless. He simply doesn't know how the presidency works. Neither do his close supporters.

So why does Trump seemingly go out of his way to make enemies? Why does he antagonize the people that he can't buy off or fire? Why does he persist in pissing off the people that he needs to have on his side if he's going to accomplish anything that can't be done by a rule change or an executive order?

Why does he pick fights with senators and with other people who are in places where they can nudge the needle on public opinion? Trumplethinskin doesn't seem to understand that the equal-time doctrine doesn't apply to comedians and entertainers.[1]

It's getting to the point that the senators and congressmen are going to start saying, out loud and before microphones, the things that they are saying in private: Trump is out of control. Trump is nuts. Trump is not fit to be president.

The hard thing will be for them to stop being "good little Germans Americans" and work up the stones to actually then do something about it. But they had better do it before Trump sinks the GOP as well as the rest of the nation. For it is becoming clear that he is indeed capable of ordering a nuclear war if his ego is sufficiently wounded.
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[1] The point that Trump is ignoring is that the late-night hosts' comments on Trump have been hugely popular with the viewers. Jimmy Kimmel topped the ratings ratings when he went after the latest iteration of TrumpNoCare. Stephen Colbert has been doing well in the demographic that the advertisers want to reach.