18 October 2017

The Very Definition of Concern Trolling

Douglas Schoen, former Clinton pollster and current Fox News "Democrat", has advice for the Democratic Party, "Genuflect to Wall Street:
Many of the most prominent voices in the Democratic Party, led by Bernie Sanders, are advocating wealth redistribution through higher taxes and Medicare for all, and demonizing banks and Wall Street.

Memories in politics are short, but those policies are vastly different from the program of the party’s traditional center-left coalition. Under Bill Clinton, that coalition balanced the budget, acknowledged the limits of government and protected the essential programs that make up the social safety net.
Mass incarceration, particularly of people of color, destroying welfare, NAFTA, etc.

Yeah, good times, good times.

Go Cheney yourself.

Consider the Source

Andrew Ross Sorkin, the New York Times's cheerleader for Wall Street and its ilk, has finally noticed that Silicon Valley unicorns valuations are 6 pounds of sh%$ in a 5 pound bag:
Uber is said to be worth $62.5 billion. Airbnb is valued at $31 billion. Elon Musk’s SpaceX Technologies is valued at $21 billion, and Pinterest at $12.3 billion.

Those eye-popping valuations regularly fill articles and water-cooler conversations in Silicon Valley, all under the umbrella of “unicorn” companies — a term for private companies that are said to be worth more than $1 billion. That moniker now applies to at least 135 businesses, making the descriptions of them as unicorns, well, less apt. (Maybe donkeys?) Early investors and employees spend countless hours calculating and recalculating how much their stake is worth.

Here is some bad news for them: Those valuations may be a bit of myth — or perhaps wishful thinking.

In Palo Alto, Calif., just down the road from many of the biggest tech companies and the most influential venture capitalists, a professor at Stanford University has quietly been working on a project to crunch the valuation numbers behind some of these private companies.

Ilya A. Strebulaev and another professor working with him, Will Gornall of the University of British Columbia, have come to a startling conclusion: The average unicorn is worth half the headline price tag that is put out after each new valuation.

And if the special side deals that most unicorn companies offer to certain investors — more on this sleight of hand in a moment — are taken into account, almost half of the companies would fall below the $1 billion threshold.
Of course, Sorkin still cannot bring himself to drop the F-bomb (Fraud), but this is systemic fraud.

I don't just want to see sanity and honesty in Silicon Valley, I want to see venture capitalists frog-marched out of their offices in handcuffs.

This is Called, "Owning It."

The Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond, has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn is an, "Existential challenge to our economic model," Jeremy Corbyn wholeheartedly agrees with the Conservative official:
Jeremy Corbyn will say the chancellor, Philip Hammond, is right to call the Labour party an “existential challenge to our economic model” as he pledges to lead a government that will overturn the economic status quo.

Corbyn will tell the Co-operative party conference on Saturday that Labour would forge a fresh consensus for a modern economy, which would allow digital platforms and technological advancement such as automation to flourish in ways that empowered workers.

Responding to Hammond’s warning in his speech at this month’s Conservative conference, Corbyn will say the chancellor is “absolutely right” to say that Labour is threatening to destroy the current economic model, adding that the current system “allows homelessness to double, 4 million children to live in poverty and over a million older people not getting the care they need”.
This is how you do it.

Tweet of the Day

Yea, pretty much.


Sand cats are the only cats that live exclusively in the desert, and sand kittens have just been filmed for the first time.

Cute alert:

17 October 2017

Interesting Twitter Fact

I would note that most, if not all, of these statues to genocidal anti-Semites have been erected since the fall of the USSR.

It ain't just history.

H/t Mark Ames.

Tweet of the Day

This tweet is making the rounds:

This is my favorite response:
Many of the responses to Lewinsky's tweet are respectful and considerate.

There are a fair number, however, are beyond contempt.

My guess is that there is a high correlation with these tweets and, "I'm with her," bumper stickers.

H/t naked capitalism.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Kevin Wilshaw, a longtime of the National Front in the UK, and a self-admitted Nazi, has eschewed his previous radical racism and come out as having a Jewish mother and being Gay:
A white supremacist active as recently as the start of this year says today he is publicly renouncing 40 years of hate. Speaking on Channel 4 News he comes out as gay for the first time – and admits to a violent past. After a lifetime of involvement with the far-right Kevin Wilshaw announces on Channel 4 News that he is leaving the movement – at the same time publicly coming out as gay.

The well known National Front organiser in the 1980s was still active in white supremacist groups earlier this year – including speaking at events.

But tonight on Channel 4 News he explains for the very first time why he is publicly disavowing the movement – sharing his secrets, explaining how he was both a Neo-Nazi and of Jewish heritage , while admitting to violent acts and what motivated his hatred.

Kevin Wilshaw also opens up about his Jewish mother.

“She was part Jewish, maiden name was Benjamin, we have Jewish blood on that side.
And here is the money quote:
Mr Wilshaw admits that being a Nazi who is gay – but with a Jewish background – is a contradiction.
Gee, you think?

BTW, Mr. Wilshaw, according to Jewish law, you are Jewish, because your mother was Jewish.

This is f%$#ed up and sh%$.

Nope, No Anthropogenic Climate Change Here

Yep, a Hurricane, hitting Ireland
A hurricane is hitting Ireland.

You heard that right, Ireland

This is the furthest east time ever that a hurricane has been observed in the modern era:
The system formerly known as Hurricane Ophelia is moving into Ireland on Monday, bringing "status red" weather throughout the day to the island. The Irish National Meteorological Service, Met Éireann, has warned that, "Violent and destructive gusts of 120 to 150km/h are forecast countrywide, and in excess of these values in some very exposed and hilly areas. There is a danger to life and property."

Ophelia transitioned from a hurricane to an extra-tropical system on Sunday, but that only marginally diminished its threat to Ireland and the United Kingdom on Monday, before it likely dissipates near Norway on Tuesday. The primary threat from the system was high winds, with heavy rains.

Forecasters marveled at the intensification of Ophelia on Saturday, as it reached Category 3 status on the Saffir-Simpson scale and became a major hurricane. For a storm in the Atlantic basin, this is the farthest east that a major hurricane has been recorded during the satellite era of observations. Additionally, it was the farthest north, at 35.9 degrees north, that an Atlantic major hurricane has existed this late in the year since 1939.

"Ophelia is breaking new ground for a major hurricane," National Hurricane Center scientist Eric Blake wrote on Twitter. "Typically those waters much too cool for anything this strong." He also added, "I really can’t believe I’m seeing a major just south of the Azores." Seas near where Ophelia intensified Saturday were 1-2 degrees Celsius above normal.
It goes without saying that we are in for some serious hurt over the next few years.

It also follows that climate change deniers are full of crap.

Headline of the day

It's Time for Democrats to Stop Being Such Gormless Chumps
The Week
The thesis of the article is that Democrats need understand that Republicans have no respect for the traditions of government, and that the Democrats insistence on preserving these niceties, when Republicans end them as soon as they become inconvenient, is a sucker's game:
One of the most marked characteristics of 21st century political history is the one-sided application of political norms. Democrats have done things like abolish earmarks, adopt "PAYGO" budgeting (in which the long-term stability of the national debt is written into the budget process), and respect the "blue slip" rule, which gives senators a veto over judicial appointments in their home state.

In return, Republicans have shredded those norms the moment they got in the way of their application of power. Word is, they now plan to use imaginary future growth to sidestep PAYGO rules, and it seems likely that the blue slip rule is next on the chopping block.

It's time for Democrats to stop being such gormless chumps, and start matching Republicans' procedural hardball.
The problem right now is that there is no blow-back for Republicans doing this, because when the Democrats get back in power, they pretend that the past never happened.

To quote David Mamet (he wrote the script), "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue."

An Old Hollywood Story

Here is a gem buried in a discussion about plans for the tech giants to take over the entertainment world:
Several times in conversations with people in Hollywood, I heard the tech people referred to as “dumb money” — the sort of outsiders (in the past, they came from oil, then from finance) who parade through town looking to call the shots. One Hollywood executive who has worked often with tech companies told me: “I wouldn’t say we’ve looked at them with fear, no.”
Yeah, pretty much.

I Have a Script Treatment for the Sharknado XIX

It appears that scientists have discovered that sometimes, alligators hunt and kill sharks:
American alligators are frequently seen ambling around golf courses in Florida as players warily compete their rounds. But new research suggests the reptiles partake in a far more outlandish habit when away from the greens – eating sharks.

US researchers have documented instances of alligators preying upon small sharks along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. A study, published in the journal Southeastern Naturalist, claims to be the first scientific study of the largely unseen struggle between the two feared predators.

“The frequency of one predator eating the other is really about size dynamic,” said James Nifong, a researcher at Kansas State University. “If a small shark swims by an alligator and the alligator feels like it can take the shark down, it will, but we also reviewed some old stories about larger sharks eating smaller alligators.”
Nature in all its glory.

16 October 2017

Germany Hegemony in Europe, Civil Turmoil in Spain, Fascists in Austria ……… I'm Sensing a Pattern

As the saying goes, "History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes, and Vienna is today's episode of European slam poetry:
Austria became the latest European country to take a sharp turn right on Sunday, with the conservative People’s Party riding a hard-line position on immigration to victory in national elections and likely to form a government with a nationalist party that has long advocated for an even tougher stance.

The result puts the 31-year-old foreign minister and People’s Party leader, Sebastian Kurz, in line to become Austria’s next chancellor after a campaign in which he emphasized the need to strengthen border controls, reduce caps on refugees and slash benefits for newcomers.

Much of Kurz’s rhetoric echoed positions long held by the Freedom Party, which for decades has anchored the far right of politics in this nation of 8.7 million.

With nearly all results counted as of Monday morning, the Freedom Party was in second place at 27.4 percent, with the ruling Social Democrats trailing close behind at 26.7 percent. The People’s Party was the decisive winner, at 31.6 percent.
 I hope that I'm just being alarmist here, but I fear that I'm being prescient.

The Obvious Point Is That the Kurds Don't Have Their Sh%$ Together

I'd like to see a Kurdish homeland some day, but it's not going to happen until Kurdish dynastic conflicts don't take precedence over their own sense of nationhood.

Until then, they will be played off against each other for the benefit of other peoples:
After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government carried out a military assault on Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation’s Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

The deadly clashes pitted two crucial American allies against each other, with government forces seizing Kirkuk from Kurds who had intended to build a separate nation in the northern third of Iraq.

The Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence from Iraq in a referendum three weeks ago. The United States, Baghdad and most countries in the region had condemned the vote, fearing it would fuel ethnic divisions, lead to the breakup of Iraq and hobble the fight against the Islamic State.

Iraqi government troops and the Kurdish forces, known as pesh merga, are both essential elements of the American-led coalition battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Both forces are supplied and trained by the United States.

Despite the resounding success of the referendum, Iraqi forces were able to take Kirkuk in a single day and with little fight, partly because it is a multiethnic city of Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs, and partly because the Kurds themselves were divided.

Baghdad had forged an agreement with the Kurdish faction that controlled most of the strategic points of Kirkuk, allowing government forces to sweep into much of the city without firing a shot. But skirmishes with another Kurdish faction left nearly 30 dead and dozens wounded, according to local hospitals.
(emphasis mine)

They are a people, but they are not yet a nation.

Of Course, It's P G & F%$#ing E

Well, authorities are now looking at the potential cause of the devastating fires in northern California.

At the top of the list is tree branches hitting power-lines.

The power-lines in the area are operated by Pacific Gas and Electric, and PG&E has a very long history of short changing basic maintenance to improve the bottom line for shareholders.

This resulted in it being hit with significant fines for (quick Google) the Butte Fire (2015), the Rough and Ready fire (1994), the San Bruno gas explosion (2010), and (of course) poisoning people in Hinkley with toxic waste. (the movie Erin Brokovich was based on this)

The fires started almost simultaneously with reports of power outages around the origin points.
As the first reports came in Sunday night of numerous fires that would grow into one of the most destructive wildfire disasters in California history, emergency dispatchers in Sonoma County received multiple calls of power lines falling down and electrical transformers exploding.

In all, according to a review of emergency radio traffic by the Bay Area News Group, Sonoma County dispatchers sent out fire crews to at least 10 different locations across the county over a 90-minute period starting at 9:22 pm to respond to 911 calls and other reports of sparking wires and problems with the county’s electrical system amid high winds.

State fire officials said Tuesday that they are still investigating the cause of the blazes, which as of late Tuesday had killed 17 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in Sonoma, Napa and other Northern California counties.

But the reports of the power equipment failures began to turn the spotlight on PG&E, the giant San Francisco-based utility, raising questions about how well it maintained its equipment in the area and whether it adequately cut back trees from power lines to reduce fire risk — as required by state law.


PG&E and other large utilities in California have a long history of being found responsible for major wildfires because of inadequate maintenance of their power lines.

In April, the state Public Utilities Commission fined PG&E $8.3 million for failing to maintain a power line that sparked the Butte Fire in Amador County in September 2015. That fire burned for 22 days, killing two people, destroying 549 homes and charring 70,868 acres.

CalFire announced last year that it will seek to force PG&E to pay $90 million in firefighting costs. More than 1,000 lawsuits and claims are still pending against the utility.

“It was more than just a lack of maintenance. It was a complete disregard for their requirements of vegetation management in rural areas,” said Burlingame attorney Frank Pitre, who sued on behalf of the victims.
PG&E claims that these winds were "hurricane force", which is a lie.

Winds were in the 45 mph range (sustained) with gusts (3-5 seconds) to 75 mph, which are not at all unusual for California.

If they hadn't been bingeing on their own seed corn to overpay senior management, PG&E would have had no problems, and the current disaster would not have happened.

These sorts of disasters will get worse with the impact of anthropogenic climate change.

California privately owned utilities in general, and PGE in particular, have a long record of  neglecting maintenance, and PUC has an equally long history of being in bed with these companies.

Now might be a good time to look at making municipally owned utilities easier via the initiative petition process.

It gives cheaper rates and better run utilities.

Strike while the iron, and the forest, and a few thousand homes, are hot.


Yes, I enjoy these sorts of videos, but I am a dull guy:

15 October 2017

This is Why Obama's Knifing Ellison in the DNC Race Makes a Difference

DNC Chairman Tom Perez has appointed a fierce opponent of the minimum wage to its finance committee, because ……… Hell because the New Dem wing of the Democratic Party needs to accommodate abusive employers, slumlords, Wall Street, and evil people in general, because they want their money to pay for overpriced incompetent consultants:
Various sources have reported that Tom Perez, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, has appointed Atlanta native Dan Halpern to the finance committee of the party.
Specifically, he will be part of a squad of deputy national finance chairs. As the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports:

Halpern chaired Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s mayoral campaign in 2009 and served as a trustee for then-President-elect Barack Obama’s 2008 inaugural committee. Halpern also is immediate past chairman of the Atlanta Housing Authority Board of Directors and a past chairman of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

In a party that says it’s trying to be progressive, Halpern is a strange direction. As the head of Jackmont Hospitality and the GRA, Halpern has reliably opposed the minimum wage. His record thus far suggests a hostility towards the kind of worker-friendly policies that the Bernie-era Dems are supposedly pursuing. It suggests Perez, and Perez’s backers and friends, have not gotten the memo about economic justice.

In Halpern’s home state of Georgia, according to Politifact “Senate Bill 314 called for raising Georgia’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but it didn’t get so much as a hearing.”

Why? Halpern’s people—the Georgia Restaurant Association—claimed that there would be a potential loss of 21,000 jobs, ignoring the increased possibility for consumer spending, for new jobs, for giving hungry people a hand up. Everything must benefit the boardroom, you see, or it’s not worth doing. As Politifact helpfully reminds us, “Georgia’s minimum wage is technically $5.15 an hour (Georgia Code 34-4-3) and has been since 2001. But the vast majority of Georgia employers (some say more than 99 percent) must comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which means they have to pay their employees the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.” If given god-like sway over the business, Halpern and his GRA would probably prefer to keep this amount even lower.

Hardly surprising. When a guy is described by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as a “Georgia Democratic moneyman,” it’s safe bet he couldn’t give two hoots in hell for a single mother making minimum wage at McDonald’s.
Is it any wonder that the Democratic Party brand is in the sewer?

This sort of crap is toxic.