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 Her government gig at the Disinformation Governance Board was such a fiasco its charter was rescinded after only three weeks, which must be a record for Federal government reaction time.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?

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%
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.