Monday, April 22, 2024

Fun, Fun, Fun, 'til Their Daddy Takes Their T-Bird Away


There are lots of choice phrases in that opinion piece:
"when you depend upon an act of Congress to help keep the lights on ... NPR, whose response to Berliner is a lot like its reporting: one-sided, tone-deaf, ill-advised and insanely self-important ... the breathy staccato ubiquitous in its on-air programming"
And the author winds up with this bottom-line proposition: 
"[NPR] is free to believe that it’s a balanced and even-handed news organization. But it is not entitled to taxpayer support. Is it really too much to ask that NPR indulge in its delusions on its own dime? It’s a fair proposition." 
Fair indeed.

BTW, that taxpayer support runs to $525 million in FY24 from the federal government alone. Every other media entity in the country manages to keep its lights on without putting its hand in the taxpayer's pocket. How much longer must we pay for breathy staccato tone-deaf self-importance?
 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

We Don't Need No Thought Control (Hey! NPR! Leave That News Alone!)


Do we, kids? Hell no! Just another brick in the wall.

 

Thursday, April 18, 2024

As a Young Boy, Joe Biden Dreamed of Choosing Freedom Over Democracy - D'oh!


C'mon Man!© It was the best Joe Biden speech ever!

 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

NYT Election Poll Has No Good News For Biden

It's been an interesting news day on the domestic front, with The New York Times publishing a poll it did with Sienna College on the upcoming election. Biden's staffers will not be happy. 

Since the NYT put its story about the poll behind a pay wall, here's the Daily Mail story, which is free, the way nature intended the internet to work.

The barebones polling results are at: April 2024 Toplines NYT Sienna College Poll of Registered Voters Nationwide

The biggest bucket of cold water for Biden comes from the results for these two questions:
Who did you vote for in the 2020 presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden?
Donald Trump - 36%
Joe Biden - 43%
And,
If the 2024 presidential election were held today, who would you vote for if the candidates were [Biden and Trump]:
Donald Trump - 46%
Joe Biden - 45%
Well, well, well. An interesting number of Biden voters from 2020 say they will vote for Trump this time. 

Those poll results are without including voters who only 'lean' one way of the other, and without considering election scenarios with third and fourth party candidates. Both of those contingencies favor Trump over Biden more strongly. 

Looking at the Daily Mail's story, it seems the key reason for those results is the much larger number of voters who remember the Trump years as "mostly good" (42%) versus Biden's years (25%).  

C'mon Man!© Stop the malarkey and make this election a contest!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

FBI Gets the Most Expensive Government Office Building Ever - Twice!





















That new FBI HQ will take more than a decade to build and will cost $3.5 billion, or maybe $4.5 billion

Why so much? Because this is the kind of marquee government project where no one bids low, and the taxpayers will just have to brace themselves for sticker shock. 

Indeed, the cost is so high that GSA is going to set up a special funding mechanism.
To support the funding for a new FBI headquarters, the Biden administration proposes setting up a Federal Capital Revolving Fund.
Under this proposal, Congress would appropriate the total amount of money needed for the project upfront. GSA would then repay the revolving fund, over the course of 15 years, by taking out about $233 million each year from the Federal Buildings Fund.
Of course, in an election year, we cannot assume that a future Congress will be happy to up-front billions for the FBI. Still, that's probably the way to bet. 

How odd that the old FBI HQ, the Hoover Building, the one that is now totally obsolete and decrepit, was the most expensive government office building ever at $126 million back when it was built in the 1970s. There are great details on that project here

Yes, the Hoover Building was even more expensive than the Pentagon, which cost a mere $83 million

How lucky for the FBI that they'll step from one record-setting costly building to another. It's like a wonderful government tradition of sacred cows and cost overruns! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Video Released From Ecuador's Forced Entry Into Embassy of Mexico

 

Mexico's diplomatic facility in Quito was far from a Gingo-style Fortress Embassy. It didn't take that Ecuadorian team much force to enter it, but you can see that they came equipped with the tools, including a battering ram. 

As it happened, the most resistance the Mexican embassy staff put up was to push a cabinet against that incredibly flimsy front door, and that was of no use at all.

Of course, in the orderly world of the Vienna Convention, the final responsibility to protect an embassy from physical intrusion rests with the host nation. When that same host decides to raid your embassy itself, there are no good options other than to delay that intrusion as long as possible and hope to make the host nation pay a political cost. 

How do you delay that kind of entry into a building? If Mexico were paying for my advice, I'd start by having them search for "FE/BR" and browse the available products.
  
  

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

State Department Internal Dissent Memos Continue as Usual (The Independent Can Reveal)

"As The Indpendent can reveal," there has been a virtual earthquake of internal protest within the State Department over the war in Gaza, resulting in a tsunami of dissent memos. 

An "unprecedented flood" of them to be exact. Read about it here: State department sees unprecedented flood of internal dissent memos over Gaza war
State department staff sent at least eight internal dissent memos to express disagreement with US policy on Israel and Gaza during the first two months of the war, The Independent can reveal.
A further memo was sent last month from the US embassy in Jordan, warning of increasing instability across the region due to Israel’s ongoing war, according to a person familiar with the matter, bringing the total number to at least nine.
Such a high number of internal dissent memorandums – a formal process by which staff can express concerns internally to a policy – highlights the widespread opposition within the department to the Biden administration’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza.
But, what's this? If you read 30 paragraphs into that 33-paragraph story you find some context:
There were an average of almost nine dissent messages per year sent to Washington between 1972 and 2017, according to the Foreign Service Journal.
So there have been nine internal dissent memos so far in the last half year, as the Independent can reveal, compared to an average of "almost nine" (so then, eight?) per year over the last half century. 

To ask the greatest of all philosophical questions: so what?


Saturday, April 6, 2024

Greta Thunberg Arrested Again, This Time With Two New Friends


Well, that certainly took long enough! I'd often wondered what kind of crazy puberty blockers Greta Thunberg must be on, since she did not look like any other late-teen Swedish girl. 

Now it appears Nature has finally shown up, and I'm happy for her. 

More protests like this, and I might reconsider my negative attitude toward climate road-blockers. 


Kirby: But That Was in Another Country!



Admiral-Spokesperson Kirby, the White House's alternative to Spokesperson-in-Chief Cringe John P. Air, was interviewed on Fox News where Martha MacCallum asked him about the obvious parallel between Israel's mistaken attack last week in Gaza and our own mistaken mass killing three years ago in Afghanistan. 

He replied:
"But that was in another country; and besides the wench is dead."
Well, technically, that was first said in Christopher Marlowe's play, The Jew of Malta, but forgive me for hearing it when Kirby said the same thing in longer form:
“Well, look, these are events that happened three years apart, two different geographic locations, two different countries, two different sets of circumstances, two different types of threat[s] that were being evaluated, and [two completely] different militaries that were involved, with two different chains of command. So, I think we’ve got to be careful comparing both events too closely."
The only difference that matters between those two particular mistakes in war is that Israel immediately and honestly took responsibility for their mistake and held those who committed it to account. We did neither.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

You Have Read of the Alien and Sedition Acts, Haven't You?


The Sedition Act that Adams signed into law surpassed anything dreamt of by our modern Thought Police.

Opposition party journalists and even a sitting U.S. Congressman - Matthew Lyon, a Republican Representative from Vermont - among others were jailed for intent and design to defame the government and President Adams. 

(On second thought, some of them probably do dream of that.) 

And the deportation powers of the Alien Act went well, well, beyond anything promised by the next Trumpening. 

It's frankly wild that Adams has the reputation of a pluperfect liberal.

How To Admit a Mistake in War, And How Not To

Off-Broadway Security Theater Opens in the NYC Subways

The biggest selling point of NYC's newest infatuation, an odd weapons detection system called Evolv, is that it runs on a can of artificial intelligence that, in some mysterious way, scans crowds as fast as they can pack into a venue and detects all the guns and knives there may be in that crowd. 

Don't call it a common metal detector, says Evolv, it's a terribly sophisticated "weapons detector" due to that can of AI. 

Here, I am reminded of a sentence in the old WWII novel The Caine Mutiny, where the protagonist figures out that the incredible all-encompassing system of Navy Publications is "a system built by geniuses to be run by imbeciles." 

That's what Evolv is selling. Anyway, that's what NYC's Mayor hopes will happen when he equips his imbeciles with Evolv. 

But, hey, what's this news story? Evolv doesn't really work as advertised? Read it here: NYC’s AI gun detectors hardly work

Best quote:
Evolv claims its AI-equipped scanners use “safe, ultra-low frequency, electromagnetic fields and advanced sensors to detect concealed weapons.” The company’s CEO has said the machines can detect any type of weapon, from guns to bombs to large tactical knives. But the 2022 pilot — as well as industry testing and more recent probes by the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as a class-action lawsuit filed by shareholders — suggests Evolv’s scanners are far less effective than advertised.
That lawsuit alone ought to be enough to bring down the curtain on this latest production of security theater. It credibly alleges Evolv paid for 'independent' testing and also revised test reports before they were made public. In short, the thing doesn't work. 

Evolv has trouble reliably detecting some of the most popular small handguns that many of us in the USA carry (ask me how I know), as well as many kinds of knives. 

Mister Mayor, you can find many better ways to spend whatever funds you have for public safety than by bringing such a discredited system to the subways.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

A Split Screen News Story For the History Books

 

Well, now, there's a hell of a split screen image in this election year! 

Trump goes to the wake of a murdered police officer, and at the same time, nearby, Biden holds the biggest campaign fundraiser of all time ever. To carry that off, he needed Obama to lend his crowd appeal, and even brought in Bill Clinton as a chick magnet. 

Meanwhile, Trump paid off the mortgage on the NYPD widow's home and started an education fund for her one year-old child. 

Even mainstream news media are framing that as a side-by-side contrast. 

Did the political geniuses on Biden's reelection campaign team think that would be a good idea? Biden must have. C'mon Man!©, stop the malarky and ask yourself why your poll numbers are dragging on the ground.

AP's "Indefensible Abuse and Atrocious Inhumanity" Wins an Award


I'm sure you've seen that particular photo. Probably you also saw the video of that same atrocious event, in which we saw Palestinian men from Gaza in a absolute state of ecstasy because they were beating the dead naked body of an Israeli woman with a stick. 

Incredibly, that was not the very most atrocious video of the abduction, rape, and murder of teenaged Israeli women and others that went online October 7th, proudly uploaded by Hamas for the excitement of its supporters. Anyone who is the least bit curious about why Gaza is now being reduced to a pile of rubble over the corpse of the last Hamas fighter should review any of that material. 

After twenty years of experience with Hamas running Gaza as a launching pad for more or less constant attacks on Israelis, it's clear that a Carthaginian solution is the only kind there can be to the Hamas problem.    

And what's wrong with that? Taking the long view, you'll notice that Carthage never caused any trouble for anybody ever again. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Assange Gets Half a Step Closer to Being Extradited

 

I've gone up-to-date on our Julian Assange theme song. This Annie Lennox cover version is not quite to my taste musically, but she is easily pale enough to represent the prison-face Assange. 

The occasion for this update is the bad news Assange and his supporters received today from the UK High Court: 

LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's extradition to the United States from Britain was put on hold on Tuesday after London's High Court said the United States must provide assurances he would not face the death penalty. 

-- snip -- 

[His lawyer's objections had been] that Australian-born Assange arguably would not be entitled to rely on the First Amendment right to free speech as a non-U.S. national and, while none of the existing charges carried the death penalty, he could later face a capital offence such as treason, meaning it would be unlawful to extradite him.

-- snip -- 

The judges invited the U.S. authorities to provide assurances on these matters, saying if they were not forthcoming by April 16, then Assange would be granted permission to appeal. 

However, they rejected his lawyers' argument the case was politically motivated or that he would not receive a fair trial.

On balance, it looks like Assange is screwed. Extradition is looming unless the Biden administration wants to throw the case by refusing to provide those mild assurances the High Court asked it for. 

Will it? Maybe. I can't imagine what election year calculations are going on in the White House, DOJ, and the Biden campaign. 

But one thing I do know. I am thoroughly tired of Assange's self-aggrandizing fantasy about the death penalty. He thrills his supporters with the prospect of the USA sending him to the chair in this or possibly another alternative universe. It's mawkish. Find a better way to build your self-esteem.

Condolences, but Assange isn't charged with any offense that is punishable by death. For that, he'd have to have violated the Prime Directive, or something equally grave.  



Monday, March 25, 2024

UN: Why So Choosy About Which Atrocities You Condemn?

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Recognizing One, Two ... How Many Palestinian States?

Cue the rainbows and unicorns, because Hope is just about ready to break out once again in this world of trouble. Or in parts of Europe, anyway. 

Read about it here: Ireland standing ready to recognise Palestine state 'gives hope'.
Ireland, Spain, Malta and Slovenia standing ready to recognise the Palestine state has given Palestinians "hope," [Palestinian ambassador to Ireland Dr Jilan Abdalmajidits] has said.
Earlier, in a joint-statement, the four countries' prime ministers said they were ready to recognise the Palestine state when the "circumstances are right".
You may wonder what, exactly, are those circumstances? And who decides when they are 'right?' 

Who knows? To my mind, only after all Hamas fighters have been killed will there be any point in even thinking about post-conflict reconstruction. But that's why I'd never make an EU small country Prime Minister. 

Before you break out the champagne, see this part of the statement:
"We agreed that the only way to achieve lasting peace and stability in the region is through implementation of a two-state solution, with Israeli and Palestinian States living side-by-side, in peace and security," the statement said.
Now, that phrase "Palestinian States" - plural states, as in more than one state - is literally correct, since there are two of them, one run by Hamas in Gaza and the other run by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. 

Yes, I know that's not the intended meaning of the phrase, but just a bit of linguistic ambiguity. However, its the almost poetic blurting out of an awkward truth, all the same.  

If any EU small country PMs want to see an Israeli state side-by-side with a single Palestinian state, then someone will first have to make peace between the two Palestinian states that currently exist. Good luck with that.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

First Saudi Male AI Robot Gets Handsy With Female Reporter


Just too funny. 

Is it something in the sand, or the silicon, over there?

Monday, March 11, 2024

Latest Update From Embassy Haiti: Still Evacuating Non-Essential Staff

At 3PM Eastern time the embassy website posted this update: U.S. military conducts operation to augment security of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti 
At the request of the Department of State, the U.S. military conducted an operation to augment the security of the U.S. Embassy at Port-au-Prince, allow our Embassy mission operations to continue, and enable non-essential personnel to depart.
This airlift of personnel into and out of the Embassy is consistent with our standard practice for Embassy security augmentation worldwide, and no Haitians were on board the military aircraft.
Our Embassy remains focused on advancing U.S. government efforts to support the Haitian people, including mobilizing support for the Haitian National Police, expediting the deployment of the United Nations-authorized Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission, and accelerating a peaceful transition of power via free and fair elections.
As announced in September 2023, the Department of Defense is postured to provide robust enabling support for the MSS, including planning assistance, information sharing, airlift, communications, and medical support.
Haitians please note that "no Haitians were on board," meaning, we are not taking sides in your local conflict. 

U.S. voters please note that "our Embassy remains focused on a laundry list of highly unlikely, not to say laughable, ways to fix Haiti." Anyway, that's my free interpretation of the third para in that update. 

Meanwhile, I'm sticking with my favorable impression of Jimmy 'Barbecue' Chérizier. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
     

 

Thursday, March 7, 2024

"The Washington Elite" Benefit From DOD-Run VIP Medical Care

In case you have ever wondered why there might be a strong appeal of populism in contemporary American politics, look no further than this story: VIP health system for top US officials risked jeopardizing care for rank-and-file soldiers

Yes, an OIG investigation found that this VIP practice resulted in your government "prioritizing medical care by seniority rather than medical need." I don't suppose that should raise any ruckus among the hoi polloi, do you? 

A few key quotes:
Through a unit at the White House, government personnel were routinely allowed to receive treatment under aliases, providing no home address or insurance information. For some of them, the care was free, as Walter Reed had no way to bill for it or waived charges.
White House officials, senior military and other national security leaders, retired military officers, and family members have all benefited. The Washington elite could jump the line when filling prescriptions, book appointments through special call centers, and receive choice parking spots and escorts at military hospitals and other facilities, including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, according to the Pentagon’s inspector general.
At Walter Reed, the program is available to Cabinet members; members of Congress; Supreme Court justices [think RBG]; active-duty and retired generals and flag officers and their beneficiaries; members of the Senior Executive Service who retired from the military; secretaries, deputy secretaries, and assistant secretaries of the Department of Defense and military departments; certain foreign military officers; and Medal of Honor recipients.
I agree with giving special privileges for that last category, incidentally. As for "the Washington elite," I'd prefer that they use the ordinary federal group health insurance plans - which are excellent, by the way - that all the feds have.

That ought to be elite enough for anyone. 
 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Carter-Baker Commission: "Absentee Ballots Remain the Largest Source of Potential Voter Fraud.”

Here's a political Blast From the Past that might just become popular again in the current election year, a high-level bipartisan commission that called for tightening up ballot integrity, with a particular warning about absentee ballots. 

The Democrat half of the commission was chaired by Jimmy Carter, so you might think its report should have credibility with the left today, and that report warned: “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”
In response to these concerns [of photo identification, new voting technology, and growing numbers of absentee and mail ballots], former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, agreed to co-chair a bipartisan commission, housed at Washington D.C.’s American University, to examine these and other outstanding election reform issues. The final report, titled “Building Confidence in U.S. Elections,” stressed the important role of elections in the nation’s democracy and made a series of recommendations, including: 
* A national system to connect state and local voter registration lists 
* Voter identification based on a universally available REAL ID card 
* Policies to improve voter access for all communities, as well as innovations like vote centers and voter information lookup sites 
* Stronger efforts to combat fraud, especially in absentee voting 
* Auditable paper backups for all voting technology
The Carter-Baker Commission report is downloadable here.

Ukraine Encounters Unforeseen Problem - Rodent Damage to Weapon Systems


This had been reported on previously by UK press (here), but I hadn't noticed it until now.
Weaponry systems in Ukraine, many of which were supplied by European countries, have been rendered unworkable, not due to Russian interference, but because of damage caused by mice and other rodents. Seemingly, these creatures have developed a preference for cable insulation made of corn fiber over synthetic materials. This predilection leads to malfunctioning electrical installations, rendering the expensive equipment essentially worthless, and requiring rapid overhauling. 
-- snip -- 
Several European countries have supplied a wide range of weapon systems. However, the dilemma of ensuring electrical insulation durability has become a sticking point for newer equipment. This issue affects a multitude of nations where ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) guidelines are making their way into the arms industry.
Something will have to give. Either tear out the eco-friendly wiring, or consider all those lovely weapon systems to be expendable.

Presumably both sides will dispense with the environmental justice stuff and get on with the business of killing their fellow man. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Give That Prime Minister a MAGA Hat


I'll bet A. Blinken didn't see that coming. There he was, having a pleasantly innocuous 'press availability' with his host, the Big Guy in Albania, when that guy peeled out of formation and gave a shout out to Donald Trump and his successful effort to make NATO grow a spine.
But one thing I can say, I had the privilege to be prime minister for Albania in NATO when the former president was there. And despite the rhetoric, despite the colorful way to confront adversaries, I don’t see that NATO was weakened. On the contrary, what was decided before continued to be the case. Every country continued to put more money and to put more effort in increasing the NATO budget. So now, elections are elections, Trump is Trump. American politics is American politics. But I think United States is something more than that. And what makes United States one of a kind in the – in our community of countries and of people all around the world is that United States cannot and will never, in my view, shy away from what are the principles and the values to be protected, whatever it takes. And so I’m not afraid of anything, but of stopping or wavering to continue and protect ourselves through protecting the right of Ukrainians to live in their country, to have their own house intact, to have their children grow there, and to have a common future with everyone else, without being threatened to be wiped out from maps based on ninth, thirteenth, fifteenth, whatever century. Because if this Pandora box opens then I can tell you we have a lot of maps in this region, but we have to see the future, and it’s only the future that will unite us.
So no, I don’t think that NATO will be weakened. I don’t think the United States will shy away from their role and from their leadership. I then that when elections will be over, American business is American business.

The PM is distinctly not concerned about our upcoming national election. 

Well, after all, Trump was the first POTUS to give weapons (the Javelin, our most advanced anti-tank rocket) to Ukraine. Obama never did. And he also blocked completion of Russia's Nord Stream II pipeline. So, he kinda does deserve some credit here.

It wouldn't be going too far to expect to see that impromptu endorsement appear on Trump campaign material soon. And if that ad can focus on A. Blinken's face when the PM said all that, it would be extra great.

Red State Tom Joad and the Gripes of Wealth

 

Today's sad economic news of the new dustbowl migrants, five million strong, who are pouring out of high tax Blue states and heading for a better life in the southeast, moves me to freely translate Tom Joad's speech at the end of GOW.

“Well, maybe like Biden says, a fella ain’t got no income of his own, but on’y a piece of what he leaves you have — an’ then—“
“Then what, Tom?”
“Then it don’ matter. Then I’ll be all aroun’ in Texas or mebe Florida. I’ll be everywhere a fella can keep some-ah his money. Wherever they’s a fight to lower tax rates, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a robber, I’ll be cheerin’ him on. If Biden knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad at guv-a-mint — I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re goin’ to school with no loans an’ they know a job’l be ready. An’ when our folks keep the stuff they earn an’ live in the houses they bought–why, I’ll be there. See?”

 That's even more touching than the original text, I think.  


Sunday, February 11, 2024

FBI Agents Abroad "Spendin' Gs, Glocks Poppin' Like Ozone"

 

I was remiss in my post yesterday about traveling FBI officials, commercial sex, and karaoke bars not to post this video. 

I'm reliably informed it was the Number 1 most popular tune those drunken agents were belting out at every foreign karaoke joint they hit, big cigars in hand. 

You can imagine it:

Uhh, uh uh uh 
It's big pimpin' baby 
It's big pimpin', spendin' G's 

[Note: Remaining Lyrics REDACTED for a dozen different reasons] 

Glocks popping like ozone

They love it. 

A Bit Strong, IMHO, Protestor Tells HRC "You Will Burn!"


They were escorted out. Proving once again the '60s wisdom, "step out of line, the Man come and take you away" (Buffalo Springfield, For What It's Worth, 1967).  

Saturday, February 10, 2024

FBI Agents Abroad Find Commercial Sex An Unfortunate "Cultural Thing," End Up Resigned Or Retired

Kudos to National Public Radio, our government-supported media, for reporting on a FOIA disclosure that details the sexual hijinks of FBI officials "on assignment overseas." 

Does that mean posted overseas, and therefore under the authority of a Chief of Mission, AKA The Ambassador, or just traveling overseas TDY? From the NPR report, I'm not sure. 

Here it is: New DOJ watchdog report details FBI officials' misconduct with foreign prostitutes.
Six FBI officials working on assignment overseas solicited or had sex with prostitutes, including at a karaoke bar, a massage parlor, and a gentlemen's club, and then were not forthcoming when questioned by investigators, according to a document released by the Justice Department's internal watchdog.
The DOJ's Inspector General's Office made public in 2021 a barebones, one-page summary of its findings that FBI officials had accepted "commercial sex" while on duty abroad, but it did not disclose any details on the misconduct itself.
Now, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Inspector General's office has released what's known as a Report of Investigation that dates to Oct. 20, 2021. The 37-page document is heavily redacted, including all references to the identities of the FBI officials as well as the country or countries where the misconduct took place, but it provides a wealth of new details about the six officials' actions.
It seems that our heroes, the traveling FBI agents, frequently accepted opportunities for commercial sex offered to them by their overseas law enforcement counterparts. 

Thinking of this from the government point of view, I wonder if those offers created a protocol problem in that they put our officials in the position of having to accept a gift in order to avoid embarrassment to the host government? Could be.

One of the offenders quoted in the OIG report seems to be making that sort of excuse.
In that same section of the report, an FBI official whose name is blacked out told investigators that he has paid for commercial sex but there have been "zero occasions" where a foreign country has "tried to leverage him as a result of their providing him with a prostitute, adding this is a 'cultural thing unfortunately.'"
I can see how that might happen. It's after work, the locals take our FBI agent out to a cop bar for drinks, then show him the local sights, and end the night with a freebie sent up to his hotel room compliments of his new buddies. 

That's been known to happen even within CONUS, "unfortunately." How much more likely that it will happen among benighted foreigners? 

Once back home, however, there were consequences imposed for that misguided cultural exchange.
The officials' actions violated multiple FBI policies, including failing to report contacts with foreign nationals, and failing to report their own misconduct as well as their colleagues' misconduct.
The report says three of the officials implicated in the report resigned, two retired and one was removed from his position.
Let that be a lesson to federal law enforcement officers in general. From now on, leave the tricky overseas cross-cultural stuff to intelligence community people who have the aptitude and training for it. 
 

Lots of Old-Man-Yelling-At-A-Cloud Energy But No Rebuttal of Special Counsel's Report

 
There have been only 21,000 views of Joe Biden's most ill-advised press conference, despite 2 million White House YouTube subscribers? 

Are internet surfers having trouble locating it, or something? 

Well, at least CNN has seen it, and CNN actually posted this response: Fact check: Biden makes three false claims about his handling of classified information:
Biden was combative, forcefully rejecting Hur’s claims that he has a poor memory. But the president was also repeatedly inaccurate, making three claims that were clearly contradicted by [Department of Justice special counsel] Hur’s report.
Specifically, CNN notes three times POTUS made what can only be characterized as false claims concerning where his "willfully retained" and shared classified documents have been all these years, how they were stored, and what level of sensitivity they had. 

This is black-and-white stuff. POTUS was not exonerated by the report - quite the opposite - and his emphatic denials at that presser did not rebut anything in the report. 

Hur decided not to prosecute for the embarrassing reason that a jury might take pity on forgetful and belligerent Grandpa Biden and overlook his culpability. That's a great legal dodge, but a strong political hit since that old man yelling at a cloud is the Chief Executive of the USA. 

That press conference will leave a big mark.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

"Wake Up, Mister Jalamneh, it's Time For Your Shot"

"Hamas confirmed that Jalamneh was one of its members. The Jenin Brigade, which includes a number of Palestinian armed resistance groups, said in a statement that two of the three men were members of Islamic Jihad" (it says right here). 
This week's killing of a Hamas leader inside a West Bank hospital generated a lot of amateur commentary of the Geneva Convention-sort. Do the laws of war really prohibit troops from posing as doctors to attack an enemy in a hospital? 

Put precisely, the question is: was the Israeli action a "ruse of war" - and perfectly legitimate - or a "perfidy" of the sort the Convention prohibits?

Frankly, who cares? Modern conflict against sub-state adversaries inside dense urban terrain renders quaint any of the notions that govern war between nation states. 

Israeli troops (or maybe they were civilian agents) entered a hospital posing as medical staff or patients to carry out the highly targeted assassination of a Hamas leader and two associates who were themselves posing as patients. Was that ruse or perfidy?

It doesn't matter. Whichever, it was occurring on both sides. Hospitals lose their protected status under the laws of war when they are used for military purposes. Any surviving Hamas leaders ought to be on notice that they need to avoid hiding in hospitals - or using hospitals as arms depots, or hostage prisons, etc., etc. - if they want to stay on the good side of the Geneva Convention. 

 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Socializing Costs to Maximize Private Profit (In the Name of Compassion, Of Course)

UK news media has observed outrage over Democrat-run Maine town's luxury digs for migrants, which is more than most of our domestic news media have done. The key quotes, from my main point of interest:
Maine State Housing Authority budgeted nearly $3.5 million to cover the rents of 60 migrant families in five buildings in Brunswick for two years. 
They are expected to eventually get permission to work and start earning to pay their own way. 
The state is also allocating $100,000 to help dozens of Brunswick migrants process their asylum applications and secure work permits. 
A bus service is in the works to help the migrants get into town.
In other words, the Maine State Housing Authority and other official bodies are providing a bald-faced example of government picking up the social costs of that cheap labor some businesses love so much, especially those in the construction, agriculture, retail, and hospitality industries. 

California has gone a giant step further and, starting last week, will enroll all undocumented immigrants in Medi-Cal, California's version of the federal Medicaid program for people with low incomes. Even states that haven't taken that step are nevertheless facing financial collapse due to their own mandates to provide emergency room treatment, primary care, dental care, and childbirth to illegal migrants. 

Some state hospital systems, such as Denver's, are now asking for federal government bailouts to rescue them from their own decisions. Or, phrasing it more generously, to share their compassion with taxpayers in all 50 states.  

I suspect that the 22,000 illegal migrants whom Denver reports used its hospital system without charge in the past year just might be employed somewhere or other. Perhaps we might ask those employers to share a bit of that compassion before passing the bill along to the rest of us? 

Say, wasn't there once a great ruckus raised by the populist left over businesses that dumped the social costs of low-wage jobs on to the taxpayer? I believe there was. Socializing costs to maximize private profit was once an issue. For example, this:
“When big companies use the Walmart loophole to force workers on to Medi-Cal, taxpayers pick up the tab,” said California Labor Federation head Art Pulaski. Medi-Cal is the state’s health care program for the poor, elderly and disabled. 
“Today we are putting legislators on notice that it’s time to hold big corporations accountable to pay their fair share for health care like the rest of us.”
That fine statement was issued back in 2013. You could say the same thing today only now the problem is coming from our elected officials instead of Wal-Mart.
 

Friday, January 12, 2024

Sadder But (Maybe) Wiser, HRC's Seminar Students Give Her a Poor Review


HRC word cloud - WaPo (2015)





















What's with kids today? Some disappointed students took to the news media this week to criticize Hillary Clinton for putting on an "uninspiring class" at Columbia University, and also "failing to loosen up" (sic, really? Loosen up? Hillary?). 

You can read about it here. Some choice quotes:
The student said it felt like Clinton became less relatable as the semester continued.
-- snip --
The student said she believed Clinton could have "been more honest" with the students.
"Usually whenever you start to… get to know [politicians] more on a personal basis, you start to like them a little bit more because they become more humanized. Over the course of the semester, though, I feel like Hillary Clinton became more of a politician than she was at the end."
I'm shaking my head ruefully. She thought Hillary would be relatable and honest? Has it been her experience that politicians become humanized when you sit in a chair and listen to them? 

Those students could have saved themselves whatever money Colombia charged them for that seminar if they had just done a careful read of the word cloud above. You see how the words UNETHICAL and LIES stand out? That's how WaPo readers saw HRC when she was running for President. 

She hasn't gotten any better behaved or more honest since then. Today you'd probably find BITTER in the center of that cloud, but no other changes.

Write it off, you naïve college kids. Consider yourselves lucky to have learned a big life lesson early.