Sunday, July 21, 2024

"Help Me, Help Me, Aaron Sorking, You're My Only Hope!"






















The present moment calls for the fastest-talking re-write man in the business, if Hillary is going to make a convincing case at the Democratic nominating convention next month. 

By an amazing coincidence, that man has a piece in the NYT today.  

Sure, she and Bill immediately made a ritual endorsement of Kamala right after the Biden news broke, but NEVER count the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock out, not when political death is on the line. 

Get a preview of how she might handle the opportunity Joe Biden just handed her here: what would happen in The West Wing's parallel universe?

Friday, July 19, 2024

Drone Strike Near U.S. Embassy Branch Office Tel Aviv, EBO Escaped Damage


You've no doubt seen the news reports by now. The most reliable reports indicate the aerial vehicle was an enhanced (longer range) Iranian-made drone, and it was launched from Yemen. The drone was not detected by Israeli warning systems, it struck a good 400 feet from the EBO, killing one resident and injuring several others.

Bottom line: unmanned aerial vehicles are the new conventional weapon, they are largely impractical to defeat, and a responsible nation will ensure that its diplomats have a reasonable degree of protection against them through emergency preparedness, training and orientation of its personnel, and by hardening its diplomatic premises to the extent feasible. 

  

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Election 2024: Looks Like I Picked the Wrong Week to Quit Sniffing Glue

This week is the Republican's national convention, but far bigger news is coming from the Democrat side where the drama continues practically hour by hour as they try to sort out, at this late date, who'll be on their ticket.

Efforts grow to convince Joe Biden to drop out, but - C'mon Man! - he's having none of it.     

Rep. Jared Huffman of California, who in recent days had organized fellow Democrats to pressure the DNC to delay nominating Biden, called the party’s new, slower timeline [for the nomination of a candidate] “a positive step,” but said it was not likely to alleviate concerns about Biden’s viability. 

-- snip --

“Many of us are perplexed that he continues to say he’s either tied or winning in the polls,” Huffman said. “We don’t understand what factual universe that is coming from.” 
Avoiding delusion is a good thing. especially when it's self-delusion. Good luck with that, Rep. Huffman, maybe you'll succeed where no one else has so far. And plenty of Democratic leaders have tried, up to but not (as of today) including Obama. 

FYI, you can find the factual universe of adverse polling results for Biden at this NYT's article: Biden Called ‘More Receptive’ To Hearing Pleas to Step Aside

Tick ... tick ... tick ... 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Senator 'Gold Bar Bob' Menendez: 9 Terms in Congress, 16 convictions

My least favorite corrupt public official was elected to six terms in the House (1993 to 2005) and three in the Senate (2006 to 2018), thirty years in all. Justice finally caught up with him today, which was in spite of his inspired defense that he was only doing his job when he traded official actions for cash, gold, and other gratuities. 

Sadly, he's probably sincere in that claim, and I bet a lot of his congressional colleagues think the same thing. 

Maybe justice will get around to those others someday. For today, a jury found Menendez guilty of all 16 counts in his indictment. He'll appeal, of course. 

Meanwhile, we'll see how hard the Senate pushes for his expulsion, which is the only way for it to be rid of him because he'll never resign. He's even running for reelection as an Independent!

If the voters of New Jersey can spare Bob for a few years, the Bureau of Prisons would like to have a talk.


Monday, July 8, 2024

Now Revealed: "Otherworldly Humanoid" Visited Pentagon, Eisenhower, Nixon, in 1957


I can't vouch for the investigative journalism of this Gaia outfit, but that lady does seem extremely well informed about the aliens, even the fact that the female ones wore flat shoes. That's the kind of detail that communicates believability. 


Sunday, July 7, 2024

Biden Explains Away That Debate Performance to ABC News


Biden doubles down on debate explanations in ABC News exclusive interview.
"Yeah, look. The whole way I prepared, nobody's fault, mine. Nobody's fault but mine. I-- I prepared what I usually would do sitting down as I did come back with foreign leaders or National Security Council for explicit detail. And I realized-- partway through that, you know, all-- I get quoted the New York Times had me down, ten points before the debate, nine now, or whatever the hell it is. The fact of the matter is, what I looked at is that he also lied 28 times. I couldn't-- I mean, the way the debate ran, not-- my fault, nobody else's fault, no one else's fault."
If you ask me, John Belushi did it better.


Thursday, July 4, 2024

Open Labs Poll "Panic Inducing" For Democrats

It's bad news all around for Biden after that debate. In particular, this leaked polling memo ‘shook Democrats in their boots,’ says former Obama adviser.
The polling memo from Open Labs, leaked to Puck News, showed how President Biden’s support was sliding following his panic-inducing debate performance Thursday.
The Open Labs memo noted the “largest single-week drop” in Biden’s vote share since it began horse-race tracking in late 2021, which it noted came as Biden already faced a “challenging” election landscape before the debate.
You may wonder exactly who is doing all this leaking. My guess is that the White House screwed up by publicly blaming the handlers and aides who tried to prepare Biden for that debate. His piss-poor performance must be their fault, goes the blame-shifting logic. 

And what's the defensive response of desperate low-level Washington apparatchiks when their careers are threatened? To leak whatever they know that's damaging to their enemies. Every leak has a purpose.  

Whoever leaked it, this one result alone is devastating:
In Pennsylvania, the state that now represents the tipping point, POTUS trails Trump by 7.3pp.
There is much more, and none of it good for Biden. Read it all here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

It's That Time in the Election Cycle When We Turn On Third Party Candidates


To be very clear - he did not / not eat a dog. It was a goat. On everything else he is guilty as charged, but not the dog. Get that straight. 

Vanity Fair just took a big swing at Robert Kennedy Jr., who is polling somewhere below ten percent, but that's enough to make him a possible spoiler in swing states. 

Here it is: RFK Jr.’s Family Doesn’t Want Him to Run. Even They May Not Know His Darkest Secrets, and here's a quote from the seventh paragraph in that fairly long article.
After initially denouncing his candidacy last summer, most of the 105 Kennedy relatives —including Bobby’s eight siblings, the largest branch of the family—had hoped his campaign would collapse under the weight of his many bizarre claims and alliances with anti-vax cranks and Trumpworld figures like Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson. Instead the family has played defense, going public only when Kennedy’s statements went so far out of bounds they had no choice, like when he suggested COVID was “ethnically targeted” to spare Jewish and Chinese people; or his claim that anti-vaxxers suffered worse oppression than Anne Frank (a statement sister Kerry called “sickening and destructive”); or when he claimed there was a mysterious alternative shooter in the death of his father in 1968 (going so far as to interview Sirhan B. Sirhan in prison and proclaim him innocent); or that the CIA was possibly involved in the assassination—claims that caused deep pain for his siblings.
Mind you, all that comes before they get to RFK Jr.'s old heroin addiction and his molestation of a young women he employed as a nanny for his children. 

RFK Jr. blows all that off as old news, which, I have to say, it is. No less damning for being long known, though, and almost certainly a lot of it is new news to many voters, especially those who weren't even born yet when RFK Jr. was neck-deep in all the traditional Kennedy family vices.
"I had a very, very rambunctious youth," said Kennedy ... So, you know, Vanity Fair is recycling 30-year-old stories. And, I'm not, you know, going to comment on the details of any of them, but it's, you know, I am who I am," he added.
He was age 45 when he wouldn't stop feeling up the nanny, but then I suppose Kennedys have a prolonged adolescence. 

Well, you know, all that appalling history is, you know, who he is, and, you know, he isn't going to look so good to some voters before, you know, they decide between him and the other choices on the ballot.

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Two Maldives Ministers Arrested For Attempted Sorcery on President Muizzu

 

I take no position on the guilt or innocence of the two sorcery suspects, although one of them is a woman and therefore perhaps the more likely to be in touch with the forces of the netherworld. 

We outsiders must let the Maldivian justice system run its course, while we respect the cultural differences involved here. Should the two suspects be adjudicated and found guilty, then let justice be done. If the Maldives is anything like Saudi Arabia when it comes to witchcraft trials, the guilty parties will not get the chance to clog up the courts with endless frivolous appeals.    

As a minor functionary of [the foreign affairs department of the Washington DC area's largest employer], my main concern with the Maldives - my only concern, really - is how to get a U.S. diplomatic presence set up there as quickly as possible in compliance with the wishes of Congress. 

Frankly, if sorcery can offer any help with that goal, I am willing to suspend my disbelief and give witchcraft a try. 

   

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Fuhgeddaboudit! Trump One Point Up Over Biden in New Jersey Poll

There's a new Coefficient Poll of New Jersey voters that has Trump favored over Biden 41% to 40%, with RFK Jr at 7% and the rest undecideds. 

Well, considering that NJ has a large Democrat advantage in voter registrations, that result is likely either a fluke or the reaction of voters still stunned by that CNN debate performance. 

Either way, the link above includes many, many, crosstabs with in-depth opinion results. Please peruse for your use and enjoyment. 


----------------------------------

A robotic-sounding voice does a good breakdown of that expression for the benefit of the New Jerseyisms-impaired. 




Thursday, June 27, 2024

RIP Kinky Friedman

Nice Presentation on New London Embassy, Where Physical Security is Achieved By "Sleight of Hand"

 

Ah, the Crystal Fortress! 

Was a glass cube on a small site located in a former industrial zone worth a billion dollars? I'd say that it was, at least for those who appreciate architectural understatement in their diplomatic premises. 

Please enjoy this quick program about "how the US built its most hi-tech and controversial embassy," and join me in my high regard for OBO.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Assange Flies, Stella Cries, Bitcoin Buys Fancy Rides

 

Well, it was a sudden ending to Assange's long and mostly self-imposed incarceration in the UK, but at last he has flown the coop. 

His fans will be happy to know that an anonymous donor has paid $500,000 in Bitcoin for his exec jet ride from prison to the Land Down Under. I'm still unclear about who chartered the jet and why the trip would cost so much, but c'est la vie, which is French for "forget it Jake, it's Chinatown." 

Once back home Assange was joyously reunited with his lawyer, prison squeeze, and now wife, Stella, and their two little kids. Frankly, she bothers me. 

At age 41 she's spent the last 13 years working for Assange and carrying on a forlorn prison romance. That would be okay in the plot of a Hallmark Channel movie, but with the two kids she'll have to be a lot more hardnosed with Assange now that he's free. 

First of all, he does not strike me as the family man type who likes to stay at home at night, will get a steady job and help with the kids. Far from it. 

Not to mention that the two rape accusations against him which the Swedish government dropped a few years ago could, possibly, be brought back now that Assange would lack the excuse that he feared extradition to the U.S. if he were to surrender himself to Sweden.   

She, on the other hand, does strike me as the 'waiting outside the prison gates' type that is so familiar to correctional institutions the world over. Those romances typically don't survive freedom, or not for very long.   



  









Good luck to you, Mrs. Assange, but I hope you'll have something to fall back on if it turns out that marriage isn't really his bag.
 

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

First Contingent of Kenya Police Arrive in Haiti, Just 2,100 Troops Short of a Full Deployment
























It's not exactly The 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, but perhaps an almost equally epic 400 Kenyans at Haiti. 

At least it is if you listen to Kenya's President Ruto at his sending-off ceremony for The 400.
"This mission is one of the most urgent, important and historic in the history of global solidarity. It is a mission to affirm the universal values of the community of nations, a mission to take a stand for humanity," [Kenyan President William] Ruto said.
Wow. The most urgent, important and historic in the history of global solidarity?? That is a whole lot to live up to, especially when all that responsibility is placed on a small force of police. 

Read the whole Reuters report here

The key points from Reuters:
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) -The first planeload of Kenyan police arrived in the Haitian capital on Tuesday to launch a peacekeeping mission in the Caribbean country that has been ravaged by gang violence- just as deadly protests overwhelmed security forces at home ... while in Nairobi police opened fire on demonstrators trying to storm the parliament, with at least five protesters killed, dozens wounded and sections of the building set ablaze.
That attack on Nairobi's parliament was not related to the Haitian deployment but was instead over new taxes.
As a line of Kenyan police streamed out of the plane on Tuesday morning, a small crowd, mostly airport personnel, greeted them on the tarmac. Some of the helmet-wearing officers unfurled a Kenyan flag and danced in a group.
The Kenyan police are expected to be joined by officers from Jamaica, the Bahamas, Barbados, Chad and Bangladesh, which together are slated to form a 2,500-strong peacekeeping mission funded primarily by the United States.
They danced? U.S. forces don't dance much on deployments, so maybe that's a cultural exchange we might look into. 

I can see the wisdom of that. Could be it's just a good idea to celebrate hopeless missions up front, considering that no one will feel like dancing once they are over and the cost has been paid. 

What costs are they? The ancient Greek poets knew. 

Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passest by, 
That here obedient to their laws we lie.

Friday, June 21, 2024

U.S. Consular Officer In El Salvador Not a Big Fan of Tattoos


So there is a limit to a U.S. citizen's rights, and the Supreme Court just found it. 

Please be advised that there is no right to bring foreign national spouses into the country, and no, the USG does not need to go into a lot of detail about it when they cite concerns about the criminality of said spouse. 

The adjudication of Department of State v. Muñoz turned on the matter of tattoos, specifically, those tats on the Salvadoran husband of the respondent, an LA civil rights lawyer. 

The tattoos actually sound pretty modest from the details given in the opinion, but still, our consular staff in Salvador must be experts on tat interpretation, and I will back their judgement as to the undesirability of admitting someone with those inkings into the USA.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

'Glock Switches' Are the Reality That Washington Thinks Bump Stocks Are

Here's some alarming data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about a current surge in simple and cheap devices that can be used to convert common semi-automatic firearms to full-auto operation. See the link below.
According to a 2023 report by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 5,454 guns with machine-gun conversion devices were taken into ATF custody at crime scenes between 2017 and 2021, a 570% increase in the five-year period. Between 2012 and 2016, the ATF seized 814 guns equipped with such devices, according to the report.
The hitch, politically speaking, is that those devices ATF is seizing are not 'bump stocks,' and it's solely bump stocks that various Congressmen are at the moment focused on banning ever since the Supreme Court affirmed that they are currently legal since they do not modify a firearm's operation. 

No, these are so-called 'Glock switches,' which are bits of plastic or metal that replace the slide cover plate on the back of a striker-fired pistol - not only Glocks, but "Glock" has become by now the generic name for any kind of pistol that might be featured in a rap video - and thereby override the sear and allow for continuous fire so long as there are rounds in the gun. 

In other words, it does exactly what half of Congress and one third of the Supreme Court think that bump stocks do, but they don't.  

Here's a typical news report on Glock switches. 

If you are very, very, old, and oriented to crime and gun news, you might recall that in the 1970s there was a panic about cheap semi-auto pistols, often knockoffs of the MAC-10, that could be fired full-auto if the operator knew how to manipulate a button on the slide. They were generically known as "choppers" and were the weapon of choice for drug dealer shootouts in places like Miami, i.e., big MAC attacks. 

The Glock switch has brought those days back. Just google the term and you'll see what I mean. 

The path is open for some Congressional and Executive Branch action on machinegun conversions, or at least it could be, if only the politicians who are most engaged on this topic would drop their bump stock fixation. 
  

Friday, June 14, 2024

No Bump Stock Necessary



On the occasion of the U.S Supreme Court's ruling on the legality of bump stocks, and also the occasion of Associate Justice Sotomayor's revelation that she fails to have any comprehension of what a bump stock is and does, I am posting the above clip from the 2018 movie Sicario: Day of the Soldato as a public service.

In this clip, Benicio Del Toro uses his left index finger to 'bump fire' a semi-automatic pistol and empty the magazine in a couple seconds.  

No bump stock was necessary for him to do that, just some mechanical aptitude. 

Sotomayor wrote in her dissent:
"All the textual evidence points to the same interpretation. A bump-stock equipped semi-automatic rifle is a machine gun because (1) with a single pull of the trigger, a shooter can (2) fire continuous shots without any human input beyond maintaining forward pressure."
"With a single pull of the trigger" is absolutely factually incorrect. If I recall the oral arguments correctly, the USG's own expert witness repeatedly tried to correct Sotomayor on her failure to grasp the fact that a separate trigger pull is needed to fire each and every round from a semi-auto. 

The trigger has to first be pulled, then released to travel forward until it resets, then pulled again in order to fire more than one round. For each and every round. If you were to just pull the trigger back and hold it back, the weapon would fire no more than one round.  

A 'bump stock' is a device that speeds up that cycle of pull-release-pull, and that is all it does. 

Or, as Del Toro demonstrates, you can just hold your index finger steady and push the trigger against it, using the gun's recoil to bounce the trigger back and forth. Bang-bang-bang and you'll spray a lot of rounds out without good control of exactly where they're going. 

A very poor practice, if you ask me, but it makes for a good movie stunt.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Back to Harry Dunn, Inquest Wrap-Up: Empty Threats, and When's the Movie?

Finally, the official verdict on the Harry Dunn fatal road traffic accident of five years ago is in. 

Northamptonshire coroner Anne Pember has determined that he died of “injuries sustained during a head-on collision” with a car on the wrong side of the road. 

Yes. Surprising, I know. She really got down to the bottom of that mystery. Evidently the wheels of official inquiry grind exceedingly slow over there, but they grind exceedingly fine. Or something like that. 

The UK government's somewhat lame response is here.
 
Coroner Pember's bottom line was two recommendations ("prevention of future deaths notices") for the local ambulance service - who, if you ask me, got away extremely lightly - and one for the visiting forces at RAF Croughton that they provide some driver training. If I recall correctly from years-ago news stories, that training has already been instituted. 

Of course, all of that was just a backdrop for the latest news media hit by the Mum and her unscrupulous mouthpiece. Their act has gotten stale and predictable, but it still had a little more news value than I found in that skimpy coroner's report. 

Here's a good account of the coroner's conclusions and an even better account of the family's objections, in its entirety: Dunn family accuse US government of obstructing inquest after coroner criticism

The family of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn have said they are looking forward to working with “the next government to establish this public inquiry” after accusing the US government of “obstructing” their son’s inquest.  

Both representatives of the US embassy and driver Anne Sacoolas were absent from the four-day inquest – prompting spokesman Radd Seiger to say the US government’s position is that “lives of UK citizens like Harry ultimately do not matter”. 

Mr Seiger told the PA news agency that Labour had promised the family a public inquiry into how Sacoolas was able to cause Harry’s death and leave the country after diplomatic immunity was asserted on her behalf.  [TSB note: notice that we are not told exactly who in Labour promised him that. Don't believe it until someone with a name says so in public.]   

Northamptonshire coroner Anne Pember criticised the US government over a lack of training for diplomatic personnel at RAF Croughton before Mr Dunn’s death.

She recorded his death as being as a result of “injuries sustained during a head-on collision” with a car on the wrong side of the road. 

Ms Pember also issued three prevention of future death notices: two to the Health Secretary regarding drugs carried by paramedics and overstretched ambulance services, and one to the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence addressing the US’s training of drivers in the UK.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, reiterated her “disgust” at Sacoolas’s and the US Embassy’s decision not to attend the inquest – labelling it “disrespectful” to her son.

She told reporters: “It further bolsters my opinion that they have no regard for myself or my family, our wider family – they just don’t care.”

Sacoolas appeared before a High Court judge at the Old Bailey via video-link in December 2022, where she pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

She was advised against attending her sentencing hearing by her employer, which prompted the family to say they were “horrified” that the US government was “actively interfering in our criminal justice system”. [TSB note: the remote court appearance was coordinated with the court in advance and done with the agreement of the Crown Prosecution Service. It interfered with nothing but the family's revenge fantasies.]

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb handed her an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Addressing the US government’s role prior to Harry’s death, Mr Seiger told PA: “It was not enough for them to kill Harry. It wasn’t enough for them to then kick Harry’s family in their darkest hour and seek to deny and delay the justice that they were entitled to.

“As we have all seen this week their attitude and approach to keeping their British hosts safe has been laid to bare and they have positively obstructed the Coroner’s inquiry and deprived the family of the answers they were entitled to as to why no-one has ever addressed the issue of safety of UK citizens.

“The next question is why have the UK governments over the years been happy to sit on the sidelines watching this scandal unfold.

“This Tory government have refused to get involved. Labour have promised us a public inquiry into the way we were treated and the failure on the part of both governments over the decades to address the issue of safety which has led to thousands of people being killed and seriously injured.”

He continued: “The UK government have also now seen how the US government treats our courts and judges.

“The question for the next British government is are they just going to stand by and let the Americans continue to treat us all and our lives with such contempt.

“The US ambassador at the time of Harry’s death was Woody Johnson. He told the UK government after he died that there were far more important things than Harry’s life.

“That is the American government’s position. The lives of UK citizens like Harry ultimately do not matter. 

“We won’t let them get away with it and we look forward to working with the next government to establish this public inquiry.

“We were all horrified as a nation to see how the US government treated Harry’s family. This must never happen again.

“The American national anthem ends land of the free home of the brave. They haven’t demonstrated an ounce of bravery at all preferring to run, hide and obstruct.”

Obstructing? By the American driver providing her testimony without the spectacle the family wanted? That's not obstructing, but more like not playing the other side's game. 

I like how Seiger played his pitchman role and rattled off that long string of complaints and empty threats. It’s the same tune he’s been playing for five years now, so he ought to have it down pat. 

Which makes we wonder, yet again, why he and the Mum don’t go large by writing an as-told-to book, or better yet, a movie deal? They must have more than enough friendly journalists who could help with that by writing a book or movie treatment. 

And then, yet again, I wonder whether the family's Rasputin might be such a loose cannon that he's spoiling the deal for any publisher or studio that's interested in doing business with the family. 

Recall that the first legal firm they engaged in their U.S. civil suit left the case after expressing mysterious concerns about ethical conflicts. The most likely suspect for those ethical conflicts was the pitchman himself, or so I suspected. 

Serious money could be involved in a book and/or movie deal, and that brings serious oversight by serious lawyers. It could just be that they've decided to keep away from this deal so long as the family remains inseparable from their spokesman. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Back to Harry Dunn, Inquest Day Two: Expressions of Remorse, Performative Outrage Toward USG


The report at the link above is the best of the inquest reporting that I've seen today. None of them go beyond the few facts presented by the American driver plus her expressions of regret and remorse. 

It was a fatal road traffic accident caused when a recent arrival to the UK instinctively drove on the wrong side of the road for about 20 seconds. That's it. There is nothing more to see here, and nothing more to learn about the accident that the driver could provide. 

But there is still more emotional-political grief that can be wrung out of the tragedy, and it will be so long as the Dunn family remains in thrall to their 'advisor.' 

Although none of his promises to them have ever panned out - not his assurance that the driver did not have diplomatic immunity, not his promise of McDonalds-coffee-spill-lawsuit-$millions, not his rock-solid guarantee that the driver will be extradited for trial, and so on - the family still seems to prefer his next soothing vision to the reality of grieving for its loss. 

As for his latest false promise that the driver would return to the UK for the inquest either in person or by live link, that was obviously a non-starter. The only reason for a live appearance would be for the family to badger the driver to its heart's content. Rather like a lite version of that very popular Olde English sport of bearbaiting

The driver declined the invitation to be the bear.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Back To Harry Dunn, Inquest Kicks Off Five Years Later

It's an odd practice, I think, but in the UK they wait until a death has happened and all the criminal and civil consequences have been settled - possibly years later - before holding a coroner's inquest. What more can there be to learn about the death at that point? 

At yesterday's opening day of the long-awaited albeit futile proceeding, the main thing we learned was that the mother of the victim hasn't moved on with her life yet, and probably never will. She and her horrendous 'advisor' spent most of their time hating on the American driver for the fact that she will not attend the inquest in person, just as they have done for the past five years. 

Of course she will not be present at that or any other event in the UK, not after five years of hate, slander, and political attacks on her, mostly directed or assisted by the Mum. Instead, the driver will submit some testimony via her local counsel on the inquest's second day. 

Here's a summary of what happened yesterday, Harry Dunn inquest begins with killer's absence 'bitterly disappointing' to family:
An inquest into the circumstances of a motorcyclist’s death is beginning in Northampton without the teenagers convicted killer present.
Harry Dunn was killed on August 27 2019 when the motorcycle he was riding was struck near RAF Croughton by a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road.
His killer, Anne Sacoolas, then fled back to the United States claiming diplomatic immunity, but later pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving in October 2022.
Sacoolas absence has been described as "bitterly disappointing" by Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles.
She said it is "incomprehensible" as a mother that Sacoolas would "hide", stating it is “disrespectful to Harry."
She said the inquest is "incredibly painful" but that she is "hopeful" of getting answers.
The family hope to learn why more wasn’t being done to improve safety around American airbases in the UK and that they are "deeply concerned" the issue is being neglected.
The mother said her son’s death "feels like yesterday," and that he is "desperately missed."
HM Coroner for Northamptonshire, Anne Pember, issued a request to US government employee Anne Sacoolas last year in which she invited her to attend the inquest remotely.
But it was confirmed in court that Sacoolas would not be appearing in person or via video link.
Sacoolas’s lawyer, Ben Cooper KC, told a pre-inquest review hearing in November that the US citizen was "keen to assist the inquest."
According to the proposed witness list, Sacoolas’s evidence is set to include a "significant statement" from her, sections of her police interview in October 2019 and her witness statement penned in December last year.
Alongside family members, emergency service crews that treated Harry Dunn are due to give evidence before the coroner.
Harry’s father, Tim Dunn, who arrived in the area shortly after the crash in 2019 said it "looked like a hospital scene” and that the night felt like a "nightmare."
Harry’s twin brother Niall said his brother had helped him with social anxiety, stating “I wouldn’t be where I am now" without Harry. "Everyday we feel the effect of him not being here" he said, and that he "smiles less, feels less joy."
The US State Department asserted diplomatic immunity on behalf of Sacoolas and she was able to leave the UK 19 days after the fatal collision.
The 45-year-old appeared before a High Court judge at the Old Bailey via video-link in December 2022, where she pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.
Sacoolas was advised against attending her sentencing hearing by her employer, which prompted the family to say they were "horrified" that the US Government was "actively interfering in our criminal justice system."
Justice Cheema-Grubb handed Sacoolas an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. The inquest is due to last four days with Sacoolas’ evidence read on the second day.

It'll be Groundhog's Day for Team Harry again tomorrow, and every other day, for so long as social media exists.  


Friday, June 7, 2024

To U.S. Cits Arrested Abroad: Help Us Help You, and Read the Country Information Pages

You may have read about several American tourists who were recently busted in the Turks and Caicos islands for carelessly leaving a few cartridges in their carry-ons. One of them was just released after paying a large fine (rather than jail), and naturally he blames the State Department for his troubles: American arrested in Turks and Caicos says it's unclear if State Dept. was on 'US side' or 'Turks side' 

Here's something that I find perfectly clear. The State Department's first responsibility is to warn and advise travelers, and it does so. But that requires the travelers to read, which is where even the best of intentions can go wrong.
"We went on a vacation. Our biggest concern was making sure the kids had their swimsuits, their puddle jumper, sunscreen," Hagerich said. "It wasn't looking for travel alerts. I didn't believe we were going to an area in place that we would feel unsafe."

That's an expensive lesson learned. In retrospect maybe he should have looked for those travel alerts. There are plenty of them out there, especially the warning here, and most especially the country travel page here, where you will find this warning in large red text:

We urge all travelers going to the Turks and Caicos Islands to carefully check their luggage for stray ammunition or forgotten weapons before departing from the United States. Read the "Local Laws" section and our alert titled "Check Your bags!" below for more information.

If our returning tourist feels underloved by the USG, well, then he ought to have taken the State Department's advice and read up on local laws at his destination. He would have discovered that the Second Amendment does not travel with you to foreign jurisdictions, and maybe even would have checked his bag for loose rounds. That would have been a precaution more important than double checking on the sunscreen.

Hillary Braces For Her Longest Day


That day will be November 5, 2024, henceforth to be known as D-for-Democracy Day. But, of course, only if you vote Hillary's way. You wouldn't want to frustrate democracy by voting for the wrong candidate.

If democracy will be on the ballot, is it even possible to vote against it? That seems illogical.

I'd ask Hillary about that myself except she limits who may reply to her posts to people she follows or mentions. Evidently democracy is so important that it must be protected by prior restraint of speech.  

Hillary's tin ear for rhetoric is still as bad as ever, despite having been in politics basically all her life. She didn't even learn anything from the long decades she understudied the Glibmaster-in-Chief himself, Bill Clinton.

Speaking of Bill, where is he in this final battle for big "D" democracy? I do hope he hasn't dodged the draft again.    

Thursday, June 6, 2024

C'mon Man!©, POTUS Had a Confusing Time at Normandy

First he faced backwards, confusing his French hosts.


Not a good look for someone insisting on his mental alertness five months out from the election. 


Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Constant Carnivore Caught in Corrupt Conversation (Menendez Does Morton's 250 Nights a Year)

Politico has a nice story today about how the FBI first tumbled to Senator Menendez's latest corrupt doings while conducting surveillance on an unassuming expense account dinner in Washington DC. 

Read it here: The steakhouse stakeout that entangled Bob Menendez.
That evening, two FBI investigators, posing as a husband and wife, were inside the steakhouse eavesdropping on a trio of Egyptian men seated at a table, including one who was the subject of their investigation.
Then Menendez and his now-wife, Nadine, joined the men. And the senator — who infamously goes to Morton’s much of the time he’s in D.C. and charges meals to his political action committee — ended up in the middle of the steakhouse stake out.
Lots of dramatic details there that measure up to any good cops-n'-robbers movie.
It’s unclear who investigators were there to watch. But two of the investigators testified that their target was someone who came in from New York and arrived at the steakhouse in a car with Washington, D.C., diplomatic plates. The FBI couple inside were equipped with a cover story and a concealed video camera that took silent footage. Another investigator was in a van with cameras outside the steakhouse. Another, who did not testify Tuesday, had posed as an Uber driver.
Get that. Just like in every movie stake-out you've ever seen, there was some unlucky agent who had to sit outside in a van while the FBI's pretend couple wined and dined inside!

And for you ladies, please be aware that you might not be free of FBI surveillance even when in the ladies room.
One of the FBI investigators, Terrie Williams-Thompson, who posed as the wife and at one point got up to follow Nadine Menendez to the bathroom, testified that the men did most of the talking during the dinner. Silent video footage shows Menendez pouring wine and Helmy smoking at the table, which is on the Morton’s patio, where smoking is allowed.
Thank God the FBI didn't catch any of those characters smoking inside the restaurant. They're in enough trouble as it is. 

Speaking in Menendez's defense, his mouthpiece told the judge that Menendez was doing nothing that night that he doesn't do most nights.
Defense attorneys portrayed the meeting as an innocent one at Menendez’s regular spot — not a shady meeting of criminal co-conspirators. Adam Fee, Menendez’s attorney, told the judge overseeing the case that when the senator is in D.C., he probably eats “at that same restaurant at that same table 250 nights a year.”
Fee told the judge, “you can find Senator Menendez having the same dinner with diplomats and other government officials almost every night of the workweek at Morton's in Washington, D.C.”
Just as I suspected!

Sunday, June 2, 2024

HRC and The Cherished Legal Principle of 'Id Quod Circumiret, Circumveniat'

So Trump has been convicted for miscategorizing as legal expenses what DA Bragg considered to be campaign expenses, which is some sort of a crime in New York state. 

Hey, remember when Hillary and the DNC committed the very same violation and in the very same state? Sure, it was in the news back in 2022 when the Federal Election Commission fined them both a bit over $100,000.
Political candidates and groups are required to publicly disclose their spending to the FEC, and they must explain the purpose of any specific expenditure more than $200. The FEC concluded that the Clinton campaign and DNC misreported the money that funded the [Russian] dossier, masking it as “legal services” and “legal and compliance consulting” instead of opposition research.
That was just a fine, whereas New York County DA Alvin Bragg is going for a jail sentence in Trump's case. (Jail is probably too much of a stretch, but if that happens, the campaign rally he'll hold in the yard at Riker's Island will be the political event of all time.) 

However, this all leaves me unsatisfied. We are told again and again that no one is above the law even as many people are very obviously above the law, and that very definitely includes Hillary with her 193 classified emails among the 50,000 or so that she hid from FOIA public disclosure by illegally doing all her official SecState email business on an unauthorized private server. 

That's a lot of laws that were broken, and with no legal consequence whatsoever. 

What do you want to bet that, if Trump returns to the Oval Office, his first step after cutting off his ankle monitor might be to have the DOJ prosecute Hillary for those grave election offenses that she committed back in 2016? 

Well, isn't there a statue of limitations that has run out by now? Yes, there is. But DA Bragg didn't let that stop him in Trump's case, and I think Trump could find someone equally ruthless to bring justice to HRC. 

It's an election year, after all. Let's make it interesting. 

Saturday, May 25, 2024

HRC: Don't Hate Me For Not Being Perfect

We've all heard that Hillary Diane Rodham (and sometimes) Clinton wakes up some mornings in a puddle of dried vomit after self-medicating with a couple boxes of chardonnay. It's so sad. Let's hope she'll get the professional help she needs. 

Well, I don't know that about the vomit for a fact, but it's a good guess given the tone of her remarks in a NYT interview published today. For instance, consider this remarkable neurotic loop:
And in a blunt reflection about the role sexism played in her 2016 presidential campaign, she said women were the voters who abandoned her in the final days because she was not “perfect.”
She blames women voters for demanding the impossible of her. This is her latest avoidance of reality, after she first blamed the scary Russians and their obvious agents of influence consisting of two female candidates in 2016, Green Party nominee Jill Stein and Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard. 

(That's particularly rich about the Green Party. I mean, they're even more minor than the Libertarians. It's a fourth party at best. Stein got 1.07 percent of the popular vote and no Electoral College delegates in 2016. But Hillary, in her obsessive need to blame anyone else for her own failure, accuses even Stein of being a willing tool of Putin in his nefarious schemes to keep Hillary from being elected President.)   

She accepts no blame for herself, needless to say. Watch her "Russians! Russians! Russians!" interview here.

Hillary's mental health crisis will be on full display as we enter the final stretch to election 2024.  So long as she has media access and there are wine stores that deliver, she'll be treating her fans to prize displays of blame-shifting such as the New York Times saw today. 


Thursday, May 23, 2024

Will the Constitution Save Sen. Menendez From Prosecution? 'Speech and Debate' Done for Profit

 
My least favorite corrupt public official might just wriggle off the hook of those 16 charges he's facing, thanks to the immunity that Senators have concerning 'speech and debate.'

It's in Article I, Section 6, Clause 1: "Senators and Representatives ... shall in all cases except Treason, Felony, and Breach of the Peace be privileged from Arrest ... for any Speech or Debate in either house."

Apparently, that is broad enough to cover any official communication, including the ones Menendez had about, for instance, putting and releasing holds on appropriations to Egypt. Delivering those appropriations was one of the ways Menendez earned his gold bars and six-figure cash, but the speech and debate clause severely hampers his prosecutors from presenting their case to the jury. 

Well, well, well. Really, what were the Founding Fathers thinking in Philadelphia when they ratified that? 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Today's Polling From Blue New Hampshire, Independents Swing From Biden to Trump


It's still a long way to November, but polling results like this must be causing grief in the Biden campaign. 

Combine that with the polling averages and generic ballot questions which also favor Trump, and it's not looking good for Biden. 

C'mon Man!©, you'd better pull a rabbit out of your hat at that debate you wanted. 

Official Condolences Found Lacking in Churlishness and Bellicosity

 

Predictably, lots of internet hoopla is being raised over that short and simple statement of official condolences:
The United States expresses its official condolences for the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and other members of their delegation in a helicopter crash in northwest Iran. As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
That's what states say when a foreign head of state dies, plus the references to human rights and freedoms. It would be juvenile and ill-mannered for spokesmen to do something like an end zone dance. 

International organizations, such as the UN and NATO, do the same. The UN was officially saddened, and its statement reads “The Secretary-General expresses his sincere condolences to the families of the deceased and to the Government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Okay by me. 

The UN Security Council observed a moment of silence, which personally I'd have found awkward, but was in accordance with the protocol for such occasions. In the same way, a funeral isn't the time to start an argument or pick a fight no matter how justified. 

NATO expressed “Our condolences to the people of Iran for the death of President Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and others who perished in the helicopter crash.” Again, okay by me, and sounds like it was written by an adult. 

That's how the death of adversaries used to be handled when Washington was run by serious people, like Eisenhower, for instance. He did not perform any silly-ass melodrama when Stalin died. To the contrary, he issued his Chance for Peace speech. 

If we had leaders of Eisenhower's ability today, they might conceive of something similar toward Iran. They don't measure up to Ike, of course, but at least some of them don't lower themselves to doing an end zone dance. 

Ike's act of statesmanship would not measure up to contemporary standards of adolescent dick-wagging.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Six Year-Old Plays Hotel California; If It's a Little Bit Faked, I Don't Want to Know


"We are all just prisoners here, of our our derice." Adorable. 

And, not to read too much into the choice of material, but she's Chinese and singing about being trapped in a place you can never leave.  


Assange Gets to Appeal Extradition on Vague First Amendment Considerations

 

I like this new version of our Julian Assange Update Theme, what with that '60s feel and the heavy-handed anti war visuals. Please enjoy! 

As for Assange, you can be sure he's only gotten more pale than ever during the years he's spent in the UK's worst prison. His vitamin D deficiency must be so great by now that he ought to welcome the prospect of doing a stretch in a sunny Colorado Supermax. But no, that lightweight is still fighting extradition. 

From Reuters today: 
After Monday's hearing, two senior judges said Assange's argument that he might not be able to rely on the U.S. First Amendment right to free speech deserved a full appeal - which is unlikely to be held for months. 

 -- snip -- 

Had Monday's ruling gone against him, Assange's team said he could have been on a plane to the U.S. within 24 hours, ending more than 13 years of legal battles in Britain. 

It could be many months until the appeal is heard, and then that decision could be taken to the UK Supreme Court. 

-- snip -- 

Assange was first arrested in Britain in 2010 on a Swedish warrant over sex crime allegations that were later dropped. 

Since then, he has been variously under house arrest, holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London for seven years and, since 2019, held in the Belmarsh top security jail.
 
This decision is taken as good news by Team Assange, even though it stretches out his prison time for "many months" on top of the almost 14 years he's already spent in confinement, half of it self-imposed. 

Does this guy just like prison? Is he now institutionalized to such an extent that he sees no better way to spend his life than behind bars wearing government underwear? I assume that he once had higher aspirations. But, that's his business. 

If it were me, I'd rather drop all appeals and go face the music in the U.S. legal system. Realistically, he'd be out in a couple years, provided he is even convicted. There is a live possibility that his jury could deadlock and the case would be dropped. If convicted, down the road he could even get a commutation of sentence, as happened to his co-conspirator Bradley Manning. 

Either way, in a U.S. prison he could see the (sun)light at the end of the tunnel. I'd pick that.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

U.S. Capitol Police: Apparently This Happened Right Under Our Noses



At least this time the Capitol Cops didn't leave a pistol in a men's room or get seen reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion while manning an access control post. 

But it's still pretty embarrassing to stumble across a baggie of cocaine in a work area, even if "the area is heavily trafficked by various contractors and employees" and is also near where they process prisoners.

Who knows how these things happen, the USCP press release seems to be pleading. 

Possibly some drug testing of those various contractors and employees is in order, but far be it from me to tell the Capitol Cops how to handle embarrassing news.   
 

A Gentleman Never Passes the Blame to His Wife, But Senator Menendez Did

My least favorite corrupt public official is using a bold strategy in an attempt to save his ass from 16 charges of bribery, acting as a foreign agent, obstruction of justice, and extortion. To wit, he blames everything on his wife.

Read about the trial's first day here: Bob ‘Gold Bars’ Menendez throws wife under the bus claiming she hid bribes in opening statements at trial:
In a courtroom in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday, defense lawyer Avi Weitzman told the jury that the senator knew nothing of the gold bars and cash, which had been recovered from his New Jersey home by FBI agents in June 2022.
Mr. Weitzman argued that it was Nadine Menendez who accepted the lavish bribes, hid them from her husband and then served as a messenger between the senator, his co-defendants and Egyptian officials.
These are the same gold bars and cash that were stashed in places far from Menendez's control, such as inside the pockets of his clothes hanging in his closets. 

Oh, she's fiendishly clever alright. I can't imagine how she tricked Menendez into doing things in his official capacity that advanced the financial interests of his co-defendants without his ever catching on. 

Will this trickster wife accusation work? Will this New Jersey jury hang up the way the last one did?

More to come.    

  

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

These Ancient Hippie Performances Just Harsh My Mellow


If geezers really must do this, at least learn some Rolling Stones songs. That I'd listen to. 

But Rockin' in the Free World? That invites people to notice that it will have to be rockin' in the not-so-free world if you're a Ukrainian whose democratic preference is for one of the opposition parties that Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council banned two years ago

It seems democracy is too valuable to let just anybody vote. 

BTW, when is Ukraine's next election? Does anyone know? 

Trick question! Ukraine's present government has declared martial law, and, unfortunately, no elections are allowed under martial law. Any Ukrainians who wish to rock in that free world will have to wait until their government allows them.

  

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Jimmy 'Barbeque' Chérizier More Than a Match For 1,000 Kenyan Kops

NPR justified some of its federal tax money today by interviewing the most interesting figure to come out of Haiti in .. ah .. in ever. 

Read it here.
And Jimmy Chérizier, known as Babekyou in Haitian Creole — or Barbecue — is one of the most powerful and notorious gang leaders. He heads the G9 federation of gangs. He is the man who convinced many of Haiti's gangs to stop fighting each other and start fighting the government.
Then he's a coalition builder. I call that a credential, not a problem.
He claims the system made him who he is. As a policeman, he said, he learned that politicians created the gangs, that they used them and the police to do their dirty work, to target their business rivals and their enemies. And so he started fighting against the political elite to try to change the system.
To put it very mildly indeed, he is not the first leader of an armed movement to think exactly that way. One man's gangster being another man's freedom fighter, and all.
Barbecue said the gangs are preparing for a long fight. He said he expects a lot of bloodshed and eventually, the international forces will get tired and they will leave.
That’s exactly what has always happened in the past, going back to the 1910s and Haiti's occupation by the U.S. Marine Corps. That’s the way to bet today. 

This is no simple criminal. This is the natural leader of Haiti's poor. ‘Not the hero you want but the hero you need.’ 

Furthermore, it looks like Babekyou is more than a match for the motley U.S.-backed Coalition of the Reluctant that is his promised, but not yet arrived, opposition. That force is to be led by Kenya and filled out with troops from the Bahamas, Bangladesh (which BTW brought cholera to Haiti the last time it did good works there), Barbados, Benin, Chad and Jamaica. 

That’s who Jimmy is up against? Really? Barbados has a military consisting of 600 men, and the rest on that list don't have much more. If those places combined their military forces they might raise a couple thousand men and a few goats. Good luck to them if they enter the world of pain that is Haiti.

And what pillars of stability and good government they are! Chad and Benin ought to think twice before entering this conflict, since Babekyou could probably take over those places after he’s done with Haiti. 


Monday, May 13, 2024

Please Give This 'Panic Room' Guy OBO's Address

I have serious reservations about the higher end of the home security market, which it seems to me spirals way out of the bounds of common sense. But, hey, if people - even ones who do not lead drug cartels - will pay big money for secret doors and gimmicks like smoke screen generators, who am I to object if someone supplies that demand? 

The New York Post has a story today about who's buying 'panic rooms'? Despite the subhead, it is, in fact, who you would think.
For not-so-average New Yorkers, there’s Bill Rigdon of Panic Room Builders — who caters to clients with homes worth around $10 million at a minimum.
“The people below that can’t get their head around spending $50,000 for a door,” Rigdon told The Post.
Rigdon builds panic rooms averaging between $100,000 and $200,000 — but can quickly cost well above that. The rooms are equipped with a host of defensive measures and life support such as food, water, plumbing, medical equipment, power sources and communication systems.
Beyond ballistic doors that can stop AK-47 rounds and up, Rigdon’s panic rooms can have electrified handles, smoke-screen launchers, concealed nozzles for blasting dyed pepper spray at intruders and remotely controlled robots or drones armed with shotgun shells.
As with Humble and Vranicar, the names and addresses of Ridgon’s clients are all protected by strict non-disclosure agreements, but he said the city has become “a different ballgame” with “1% of 1% customers” in recent years.
This is where my good friends in OBO come in. They could show this home security guy what the 1% of the 1% of the 1% can afford. We consider $50,000 for a door just getting started

And I hope he comes ready to paint on a big canvas, because we can definitely push the boundaries of common sense. Get us going on a good Fortress Embassy and we'll solve problems that he didn't even know people had in ways that he can't begin to imagine.
 
 

Friday, May 10, 2024

Mano-a-Mano-y-Otro-Mano (Let's Settle This)


Did you see RFK Jr's debate challenge? Now we're talking! The voters need a way to judge the cognitive fitness of this year's candidates, and how better to do that than in a winner-take-all sudden death debate? 

I imagine a debate stage arranged like the three-way Mexican Standoff at the end of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. What's Spanish for "let's get it on?"

Read it here: RFK Jr says he’ll eat brain worms and ‘still beat’ Biden and Trump in debate!!!
Kennedy was speaking after the New York Times published a startling story about a 2012 deposition in which he said a previous neurological problem “was caused by a worm that got into my brain and ate a portion of it and then died”.
“I offer to eat five more brain worms and still beat President Trump and President Biden in a debate,” Kennedy posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
“I feel confident of the result even with a six-worm handicap.”
That's some great pre-fight trash talking. This is what we need in the 2024 election cycle.

Let the best man win. Or anyway, the man with the least damage to his brain. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Soylent Green, Set in 2022, Pretty Much Nailed It


Tip: When the police tell you "the scoops are on their way! I repeat, the scoops are on their way," believe them and beat feet.
  

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Early Soviet Sci-Fi Appealed to Proletarians on the Fourth Planet From the Sun


Aelita Queen of Mars.
  
See the whole subversive thing here at the Internet Archive, where it has been restored and colorized by capitalists who are providing a public good by acting in their private interests. 

On behalf of Adam Smith, you're welcome.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Not Impressed With Columbia's Lecturer on Revolution


As if the university take-overs weren't already community theater-level versions of Mao's cultural revolution, some fanboy at Columbia was inspiring himself by scribbling Mao-ish slogans while reenacting The Long March through Hamilton Hall. 

Since the NYPD released photos, we can all be vicariously radicalized by the three slogans that some deep thinker left on a chalkboard. 
1. Attack when your enemy is weak and you are strong. 
With respect to Mao, that one really isn't original to him, or to China, or to modern history. In fact, it misses the point of all the revolutionary movements that did just the opposite. They lost the battles but won the campaigns. And I include Nathaniel Greene of our Revolutionary War in that group. Greene's quote is "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." He usually lost tactically, but defeated Cornwallis strategically, where it counts. See also the history of the Vietnam War, or the history of whatever it is we call the twenty years we spent in Afghanistan. 
2. Political power comes from the barrel of a gun. 
Get out of here! The sentiment isn't wrong, and it's been put less dramatically by better men (like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. - "every society rests on the death of men"). But has our chalkboard lecturer ever asked himself who is it in America that has all the guns? Hint: it's not his side. In any case, when the city authorities decided to exercise some power of their own and end that pitiable insurrection it did so with ease. No firearms were needed. 
3. The countryside surrounds the city. 
Comrade, you ought to consult a map. In America it's the suburbs that surround the city. And that speaks to political and cultural alignment as well as to the geography. 

With all the time he must have had on his hands in Hamilton Hall, why didn't that guy ever read a book about the Halls's namesake and how he helped lead a vastly inferior force to defeat the British Empire? That would be an education in revolution worth the tuition.


We're On The Road to Rafah (But Not Everyone is Allowed Out)

The subject of immigration to the U.S. from Gaza is definitely in the air in Washington DC today. 

Briefly, the Biden administration is talking up the idea of bringing in more Gazans to the U.S., and that requires they first exit Gaza via the border crossing at Rafah. However, that genius plan is being blocked by the refusal of Egypt to allow some of those Gazans onto the Egyptian side of their common border. 

By a fortunate coincidence, the current issue of State Magazine has an informative article about the State personnel who are standing by to process those Gazans who are lucky enough to be allowed into Egypt. 

Read it here: Road to Rafah. This quote stands out:
“In some cases, departing citizens and LPRs [Lawful Permanant Residents] saw their hopes extinguished when they received somber news that a family member would not be allowed into Egypt.”
Would it be entirely crazy to explore why Egypt won't allow some Gazans into their territory before we get serious about moving them over here to ours? 

And on a side note, why do we have so many Lawful Permanant Residents who do not permanently reside in the USA? You might think that would be a requirement.

House Releases Testimony That Suggests a Missed Opportunity For Orderly Withdrawal From Afghanistan

Interesting old testimony about the Afghanistan withdrawal was released yesterday by the House. 

It turns out that former Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad had a recollection of the decisions surrounding the withdrawal that differed from the general narrative about that event. 

See Biden pursued botched Afghanistan withdrawal against diplomats’ advice: ex-negotiator:
Biden could have demanded that the Taliban and Afghanistan government reach a separate peace agreement before US troops left the country, which Khalilzad said was his recommendation.
“Secretary Blinken and I, I believe, did recommend that conditionality. That’s my judgment, that conditionality would be the prudent thing to do,” Kalilzad told the committee in his Nov. 8 interview. “But then the response was, ‘Can you get the other side – the Talibs – not to go back to fighting?”
Such an agreement could have been based on an early 2021 peace negotiation that Khalilzad said visualized a “peace government,” which would have given the Taliban an equal share of power over Kabul with the Western-backed Afghan government.
-- snip --
Despite the fiasco, Khalilzad told lawmakers that State Department officials had predicted the power-sharing initiative would not have lasted longer than three years without a continued US presence in the country.
However, any agreement may have prevented the Taliban from taking complete control of Afghanistan before US forces departed, allowing for a less panicked and rushed evacuation process.
Khalilzad’s transcript represented the committee’s fifth tranche of documents released this year that related to its investigations into the bugout.

The couple years of breathing space that might have come from a power-sharing government would have prevented the panicky rush to the exits that we saw when the presumptive Afghan government which we left behind collapsed overnight.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Embassy In a What?


I appreciate the sentiment behind this ill-named bill, but really, there is no 'there' there. 

We'd all like to see new diplomatic presences spring up overnight in all those little Pacific islands. How else could we counter the malign influences of what I like to call the ChiComs? 

But a serious legislative initiative requires some substance, and this bill is all wishful thinking.

From the bill's text:
 
    The Embassy in a Box Act:
Requires the State Department to develop an “embassy in a box concept” that provides expedited procedures and physical resources needed to stand up new diplomatic missions overseas.
Requires the secretary of State to issue guidance so the Department can build new embassies more quickly and save taxpayer dollars.

So then, the bill requires the SecState to figure out what the hell Senator Risch means by an "Embassy in a Box" and then use a magic wand to dispel all the realities of limited resources and even more limited physical infrastructure on those tiny islands that the bill describes as "austere locations."

Apparently, the catchphrase "Embassy in a Box" is supposed to bridge the gap between our wish and our reality.  

From my own simple point of view, I'd rather focus on creating a "Box In an Embassy" on the assumption that our staffers may need a safe place to ride out any local Tong Wars. This kind of thing, for example.

Good luck, Senator, but I think this is the kind of bill that doesn't survive contact with reality. 

Friday, April 26, 2024

Miss Dismal Is Back And This Time It's a Grudge Match


She's fighting a battle for nothing less than Democracy and Freedom, provided, of course, that you think those things require some kind of authority to pre-clear the news and opinion you see. 

This time she's going private sector, and why not? Her government gig at the Disinformation Governance Board was such a fiasco its charter was rescinded after only three weeks, which must be a record for Federal government reaction time. The Biden Administration couldn't drop that bad idea fast enough.

Well, now it sounds like Miss Dismal is looking for revenge on all the scoffers who laughed her out of town. And what better time to do that than during an election year? 

I hope she's bringing her best Mary Poppins voice because it will be a tough slog all the way to November.   

Thursday, April 25, 2024

C'mon Man!©, Pay Attention Or Don't Use a 'Prompter


Or else, just pause your whole campaign and let Gavin Newsom play in the big game.

Every Nacht is Kristallnacht at Columbia University


On the one hand, it is staggering to see this sort of open and raw antisemitism in the U.S. (and UK, Australia, Canada, etc.).

On the other hand, the more the population of the U.S. resembles, say, the General Assembly of the UN, the more it will exhibit the common attitudes of the General Assembly toward Israel, not to mention toward the U.S. in particular and Western civilization at large. 

BTW, while not every criticism of Israel can be regarded as antisemitism, what we see today on Columbia and many other locations meets the definition.    

    

Secret Service Agent on Veep Detail Snaps "Entirely"

When an on-duty Secret Service agent acts out a bundle of bizarre behaviors, escalating to the point that she assaults her shift leader and needs to be wrestled to the ground, physically restrained, and disarmed, well, that requires serious oversight by the administration and by Congress. 

In fact, if yesterday's incident fails to bring on an oversight hearing, that would be something even more bizarre than the behavior of Special Agent Herczeg. 

This news story names names and brings the incident back to a question of Secret Service hiring policies, Secret Service Scuffle Prompts DEI, Vetting Scrutiny:
Herczeg also screamed at the special agent in charge (SAIC), rattling off the names of female officers on the vice president’s detail and claiming they would show up and help her and allow her to continue working. At that point, other agents on the scene believed Herczeg was suffering from a mental lapse, and the superior officer, SAIC, approached her to tell her she was relieved from the assignment.
“That’s when she snapped entirely,” one source recounted.
Appparently, she hadn't snapped entirely until the other agents at the scene needed to remove her pistol and handcuff her.

We can only hope Special Agent Herczeg gets the mental health treatment she needs. And it wouldn't hurt at all if the Secret Service itself were given some shock therapy.   


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?