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.