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.