Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Trump Problem

Quinnipiac Poll (emphasis mine):

Twenty percent of registered Republican voters said they would vote for Trump in the Republican primary, with 13 percent favoring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and 10 percent choosing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R).

However, Trump also dominated the “no way ” list, with 30 percent of Republican voters saying they would never vote for Trump in the presidential primary, while 15 percent said they would never vote for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and 14 percent said they would not vote for Bush. The real estate mogul also has a low favorability rating, with just 27 percent of voters viewing him positively.

You just can’t win if 30% of your own party will “no way” vote for you.

Endangered Animals On The Empire State Building

This could be cool:

TRAVIS Threlkel was standing on the roof of a building on Fifth Avenue and 27th Street looking uptown at his canvas. It’s hard to miss: It’s theEmpire State Building, and on Saturday evening he and his collaborator, the filmmaker and photographer Louie Psihoyos, will project digital light images of endangered species onto the building in an art event meant to draw attention to the creatures’ plight and possibly provide footage for a coming documentary. Although the men refer to the event as a “weapon of mass instruction,” Mr. Threlkel explained: “We’re going to try to create something beautiful. Not bum people out.” He added later: “Hopefully, this is one big domino. If we can tip it, it would be great.”

On Saturday, using 40 stacked, 20,000-lumen projectors on the roof of a building on West 31st Street, Mr. Threlkel and Mr. Psihoyos, director of the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” will be illuminating the night from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. with a looping reel showing what Mr. Psihoyos calls a “Noah’s ark” of animals. A snow leopard, a golden lion tamarin and manta rays, along with snakes, birds and various mammals and sea creatures will be projected onto a space 375 feet tall and 186 feet wide covering 33 floors of the southern face of the Empire State Building — and beyond, thanks to cellphones and Internet connections.


The Hubbub About Cecil

Seems like the Internet went absolutely bonkers yesterday about how a policeman killed a completely innocent black man dentist killed a completely innocent lion.  It’s important to understand exactly what he did.  He didn’t merely shoot and kill a lion who was iconic to the region and the center of a research study; he poached it:

ciceldentistWalter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the Lion, closed his practice and went into hiding after a worldwide firestorm erupted over him killing Cecil. Palmer claims he misunderstood the rules. The circumstances around Cecil’s death, Palmer’s barbaric past, and the fact that he has gone into hiding tells the story.

Palmer’s hunting guides, Theo Bronkhorst and Honest Ndlovu, appeared before a court in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and were charged with receiving a $50,000 bribe to help Palmer stalk and kill the animal. The operative word is “bribe.” Just the basic definition of the word alludes that Palmer had prior knowledge that he was committing an illegal act. Although Bronkhorst and Ndlovu have been charged, Palmer hasn’t even received a court summons for this atrocity.

Palmer used illegal hunting tactics to track and kill Cecil. During night hours, Palmer and his guides used a dead animal tethered to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park because they thought doing that would make the kill legal. Not so much. Baiting animals while hunting in the region is illegal, as is night hunting. Nothing about this “hunt” was legal. Hell, it’s unethical even from a sporting perspective.

Once they lured Cecil out of the park, they flashed a spotlight so Palmer could shoot the lion full of arrows. Palmer tracked Cecil for 40 hours, and then found the lion weakened from his injuries. Palmer finished off this slaughter with a gunshot.

“This is much closer to assassination than hunting,” said hunter and journalist Jonny Miles. “The trophy aspect is subordinate to the experience, to the knowledge required and the knowledge gained, to the very ancient relationship that you are experiencing with an animal that you are hunting for food.”

Miles added that, even by hunting standards, Palmer falls short of being ethical. Palmer has a past of unethical and illegal hunting practices. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to a license violation regarding the illegal killing of a black bear in Wisconsin. He killed the bear in an illegal location, similar to Cecil’s killing. He was charged with a felony but was only given a $3,000 fine and one year of probation.

Since being identified, Palmer has gone into deep hiding. He closed his dental practice, deleted any social media account associated with him, and is avoiding the press. He may be hiding from the public, but his silence is as telling as an admission of guilt.

His dental office:

The dentist is being condemned and rightly so, although perhaps the more healthy response is to donate to the researchers that had been tracking Cecil. These guys.

U.C. Officer shoots and kills Sam DuBose

Ray Tensing is the first officer in Cincinnati to face murder charges for killing someone in the line of duty.

The video proved to be crucial evidence to the grand jurors who indicted Tensing, and it stunned city officials, prosecutors and the relatives of shooting victim Samuel DuBose.

It also was a reminder that video, whether captured by witnesses on smart phones or by police officers themselves, is transforming the way fatal encounters involving police are investigated and perceived around the nation.

“It’s an absolute tragedy that anyone would behave in this manner,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said after publicly releasing the video. “It was senseless. It’s just horrible.

“He purposefully killed him.”

The video shows that Tensing, who stopped DuBose in Mount Auburn on July 19 for driving without a front license plate, speaks to him for a little less than two minutes before the fatal shot is fired.

When Tensing asks DuBose to take off his seat belt, DuBose says “I didn’t even do nothing” and turns his ignition key, starting the car. Tensing then reaches into the car with one hand and, with the other, fires a single shot into DuBose’s head.

DuBose did not appear to be belligerent or aggressive toward the officer before the shot was fired, though his lawyer, Stew Mathews, said Tensing feared he would be run over.

Mathews said charging his client with murder was “absolutely unwarranted.” He said he expected an indictment, but on lesser charges. “Murder is the purposeful killing of another,” Mathews said. “There wasn’t any purpose to kill this fella.”

Tensing, 25, faces 15 years to life in prison if he’s convicted.

Tensing claimed he was “dragged” by DuBose’s vehicle following an altercation during a routine traffic stop, and was therefore forced to open fire, shooting DuBose once in the head.

The conservatives at Legal Insurrection have tried to somehow come to Tensing’s defense with a breakdown of the video.  Certainly, their argument is likely to parallel that of Tensing’s attorneys at trial, i.e., Tensing had a reasonable fear that he would be dragged and since that fear was reasonable, he had a right to shoot in self-defense.  I don’t think that’s what the video reveals, and even the Legal Insurrection folks can’t make that claim stick

What’s worse for Tensing is what happens in the aftermath of the shooting, but still caught on the full video (not in the particular video above).  As The Guardian pointed out, you could see Tensing’s co-officers start to justify the shooting with amounts to be an obvious lie:

A Guardian analysis of the nearly 28 minutes’ worth of Tensing’s body-camera footage released by the prosecutor’s office also shows the aftermath of the shooting and reveals that on three occasions, two other police officers repeat Tensing’s account that he was dragged by DuBose, and one of these officers claims to have witnessed it occurring.

Tensing repeats, multiple times throughout the footage, the claim that he was dragged by DuBose’s vehicle. But at five minutes and 44 seconds into the video, he states: “I think I’m OK. He was just dragging me.”

To which a second officer, who stands out of the frame, replies: “Yeah, I saw that.”

Tensing continues: “I thought I was going to get run over. I was trying to stop him.”

Then, at six minutes and 54 seconds into the footage, while Tensing is seemingly conversing with the same officer, he states: “He was dragging me, man.”

The officer replies, “Yeah.” To which Tensing continues: “I got my hand and my arm caught inside.” The officer then replies, “Yeah, I saw that.”

The identity of this officer is not immediately clear. A copy of the University of Cincinnati police division’s information report on the shooting names university police officer Phillip Kidd as a witness to the entire event.

The information report, written by UC police officer Eric Weibel, states: “Officer Kidd told me that he witnessed the Honda Accord [DuBose’s vehicle] drag Officer Tensing, and that he witnessed Officer Tensing fire a single shot.”

Weibel’s report continues: “Looking at Officer Tensing’s uniform, I could see that the back of his pants and shirt looked as if it had been dragged over a rough surface.”

About 14 minutes into the video, while Tensing is still at the site of the shooting, but has now moved further away from DuBose’s crashed car, he is instructed by a third officer to indicate where the altercation had started.

This officer appears to be a member of the Cincinnati police department and wears a sergeant’s lapel on his arm. He states: “You can talk about anything you want except for what happened [sic]. The only thing that I ask of you is where did it start?”

Tensing replies: “I initiated the traffic stop at Vine and Thill.”

The two officers then clarify the direction Tensing was driving. The sergeant then states: “And, it looks like you got dragged if I’m understanding, looking …”

To which Tensing replies: “Yes.”

Tensing has pled not guilty.  It’s not clear whether the other officers are being investigated for complicity or conspiracy after the fact.  But they should be.

Remains Of The Day

Cool new archaeological discoveries at Jamestown announced today:

jamestownArchaeologists have uncovered human remains of four of the earliest leaders of the English colony that would become America, buried for more than 400 years near the altar of what was America’s first Protestant church in Jamestown, Virginia.

The four burial sites were uncovered in the floor of what’s left of Jamestown’s historic Anglican church from 1608, a team of scientists and historians announced Tuesday. The site is the same church where Pocahontas famously married Englishman John Rolfe, leading to peace between the Powhatan Indians and colonists at the first permanent English settlement in America.

Beyond the human remains, archaeologists also found artifacts buried with the colonial leaders — including a mysterious Catholic container for holy relics found in the Protestant church.

The Jamestown Rediscovery archaeology team revealed its discovery at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. The museum is helping to study and identify those buried in the church. The burials were first uncovered in November 2013, but the scientific team wanted to trace and identify its findings with some certainty before announcing the discovery.

Archaeologists have been studying the site since 1994 when the original James Fort — long thought to be lost and submerged in the James River — was rediscovered.

The team identified the remains of the Rev. Robert Hunt, Jamestown’s first Anglican minister who was known as a peacemaker between rival colonial leaders; Capt. Gabriel Archer, a nemesis of one-time colony leader John Smith; Sir Ferdinando Wainman, likely the first knight buried in America; and Capt. William West, who died in a fight with the Powhatan Indians. The three other men likely died after brief illnesses. They were buried between 1608 and 1610.

Read the whole thing.

Dumbest Gotcha Of The Day

Hillary Clinton is a hypocrite.  You know why?  Because after she gave her speech on climate change, she…. wait for it…. GOT ON A PRIVATE JET to take her to her next destination!

That’s the “story” from the right wing today as evidenced by, among other places, The Daily Mail which even provided video of Hillary’s hypocrisy (Look!  She’s boarding a private plane!).

I’m not sure what sure what this criticism is saying.  So Hillary Clinton is LYING when she speaks in opposition to climate change?  She’s actually a rightie on that issue?

Or maybe, Hillary is in favor of fighting climate change, but she doesn’t want to make sacrifices herself?  So, therefore, in order to show that she is TRULY against climate change, she is supposed to walk or ride a bike from Iowa to New Hampshire?

This is silly pointless criticism.

It should be stressed that the model of the private jet that Clinton was riding on, the Dassault Falcon, is one of the most ecologically efficient private jets on the market.  The particular model, the 900B, is a little old, but it still exceeds many modern ones in terms of its small carbon footprint.

As the Daily Mail points out, it gets burns 347 gallons of fuel per hour.  What the Daily Mail doesn’t say is that the Falcon has a cruising speed of 590 miles per hour.  That comes out to 1.7 miles per gallon.  A lot you say?  Consider that the jet is carrying 16 people (not including the crew).  16 people at 1.7 miles per gallon is fairly good.  For flight.

It’s also amusing the the Daily Mail makes a lot of the fact that Hillary boarded a FRENCH-made aircraft.  Like that has to do with climate change how?


Trump’s Lawyer May Be Dumber Than Trump

Another day, another Trump scandal.

This one is a little different.  Rather than Trump sending the media into a fervor, it was the reverse.

Trump, as we all now, has been making hay out of the supposed “rapists” that the government of Mexico is sending into America.  There’s no evidence that undocumented Mexicans are any more responsible for rape than any other group, and there’s no evidence that the government of Mexico is intentionally sending rapists to the United States.

But it’s Trump.

Anyway, The Daily Beast published an article quoting from a book written ages ago about Trump.  The book, from 1993, is titled Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, and in it, Ivana Trump (his first wife) reportedly made a statement during a deposition pursuant to the Trump divorce — that she was raped once by Donald Trump.  The details, according to the deposition according to the 1993 book according to the Daily Beast, can be read at the link.

Ostensibly, not much of a headline grabber, especially when Ivana releases a statement essentially denying the incident:


So there it is.  And that would have been it, had Donald Trump and his staff just let it go.

But noooooo.

Trump’s campaign adviser and legal counsel weighed in:

Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organization, defended his boss, saying, “You’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody. And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.”

“It is true,” Cohen added. “You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”

Uh, what?

Of COURSE a man can rape his spouse.  Sure, there used to be a “marital rape exemption” in almost every state, but now, non-consensual sex is, of course, illegal in all 50 states whether or not the perpetrator is married to the victim.

In New York, the marital rape exception was down away with in 1984, long before Donald and Ivana Trump divorced.  (FYI: In 1993, we saw the last state repeal the old rule holding that a husband could not rape their wife.  That state was North Carolina)

So Trump gets dinged by his own staff’s spread of misinformation.  How ironic.

But Mr. Cohen was undeterred from laying into The Daily Beast:

“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know,” Cohen ranted, according to the news website. “So I’m warning you, tread very f—ing lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. You understand me?


In further irony, Trump is distancing himself from Cohen.

“Mr. Trump speaks for Mr. Trump and nobody but Mr. Trump speaks for him,” a campaign source told CNN.

Cohen probably comes from that segment of conservative thought that believes there should be no such thing as marital rape.  In fact, there is a long history of conservative opposition to the very concept of marital rape. Recognizing that rape occurs within marriage requires believing that husbands don’t have automatic sexual rights over their wives’ bodies.

Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly has been a Republican delegate to eight national conventions, including in 2012. She ran for Congress on the Republican ticket, twice. She also has repeatedly said she doesn’t believe that marital rape exists.

“I think that when you get married you have consented to sex,” she said in a 2008 interview. “That’s what marriage is all about, I don’t know if maybe these girls missed sex ed.”

Trump Surge Continues Unabated

A new Economist/YouGov poll finds Donald Trump way ahead of the GOP presidential field with 28% support, followed by Jeb Bush at 14%, Scott Walker at 13%, Ben Carson at 7% and Rand Paul at 5%.

Key finding: “There is clearly a core group of registered voters who identify as Republicans that has coalesced around Trump’s tough talk and proposals. He is even more clearly in first place than he was two weeks ago”

Also interesting: “A separate YouGov poll completed Wednesday suggests a reason why the McCain controversy may not have affected Trump as much as some expected. Two out of three Republicans view McCain as a war hero. But fewer say they have a favorable opinion of him.”

A new CNN/ORC poll is the latest showing Trump at the top of the gigantic GOP field nationally, at 18%, with Bush at 15% and Walker at 10%.

I still maintain that Trump will not be the nominee.  He simply cannot go for months on end without saying something — eventually — that permanently puts his foot in his mouth, and offends even the base.

But if you want to hear some “experts”, read this Politico article: “HOW DOES TRUMP END?  16 experts from across the political spectrum share their visions”.  Surprisingly, a lot of think he can and will stick around as long as he wants, even becoming an independent third-party candidate.

Whatever happens, when historians try to explain how Trump could have happened at all, I think David Atkins has hit the nail on the head.  It is one of the best, most coherent explanations of the Trump phenomenon that I have ever read:

The Republican Party is locked into an autocatalytic cycle of increasing and self-reinforcing extremism.

The blue-collar white males who make up the GOP base are struggling more and more as business-friendly trickle-down economic policies continue to rob them of their economic security–but their inherent racism, sexism and distrust of government leads them to inherently reject reasonable liberal solutions in the fear that someone they don’t like might get a “handout” with their tax dollars. Hardcore political Republican partisans are slowly realizing that they no longer hold a silent majority in the country if they ever did, that every passing year demographic change makes their electoral prospects increasingly difficult, and that only a combination of gerrymandering, small-state-favoritism and accidental geographic political self-selection allows them to hold onto the House and Senate for now. And conservatives of all stripes can feel the ground shift underneath them irrevocably as liberals continue to win battles on social issues even as unfiltered left-leaning economic populism becomes increasingly mainstream.

Unwilling and unable to moderate their positions, the Republican base has assumed a pose of irredentist defiance, an insurgent war against perceived liberal orthodoxy in which the loudest, most aggressive warrior becomes their favorite son. It is this insurgent stance that informs their hardline views on guns: many of them see a day coming when their nativist, secessionist political insurgency may become an active military insurgency, and they intend to be armed to the teeth in the event that they deem it necessary. The GOP electorate isn’t choosing a potential president: they’re choosing a rebel leader. The Republican base doesn’t intend to go down compromising. They intend to go down fighting.

That’s why Donald Trump is so popular. That’s why the Republican Party’s brand is weak even among conservatives–because it’s too extreme for everyone else, but not extreme enough for them. And that’s why every other Republican candidate is saying increasingly outrageous things just to get noticed.

Louisiana Movie Theater Shooting Update


The gunman who opened fire inside a packed movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, Thursday night, was John Russel Houser, police said at a news conference this morning.

Houser, 59, who killed himself, is among three people who died, police said. The other two were Mayci Breaux, 21, of Franklin, Louisiana, who died at the theater, and Jillian Johnson, 33, of Lafayette, who died at the hospital.

Nine others were injured, including one who was in critical condition, police said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal praised two New Iberia teachers as heroes. One leaped over the other to shield her and pull a fire alarm:

“Her friend literally jumped over her, and in her account actually saved her life,” Jindal said during a press conference. “If she hadn’t done that … that bullet, she believed it would have hit her in the head.

“Even though she was shot in the leg, she had the presence of mind to pull the fire alarm to help save other lives.”

The gunman had a history of criminal/mental problems.  How he managed to get a semi-automatic handgun is not known yet.

Nothing will happen to change gun laws.

UPDATE:  Raw Story did some Internet digging on the shooter.  Confederate flag-waving right-wing nut?  You bet kids:

John Russell Houser, of Phenix City, Alabama, posted frequently across a variety of online forums — from political discussions to message boards for Oldsmobile enthusiasts — where he complained about “moral decay” and media brainwashing.

“America is so sick that I now believe it to be the enemy of the world,” he wrote under the name Rusty Houser in a December 2013 comment on Fellowship of the Minds. “I know next to nothing about Iran, but the little I do know tells me they are far higher morally than this financially failing filth farm.”

The 59-year-old Houser was less active on Facebook and Twitter, although he left behind some clues about his beliefs on those social media networks.

“If you don’t think the internet is censored, try reading a newspaper from a country that hates liberals the way I do,” reads his second — and last — Twitter post, from June 2013. The first argues that “Westboro Baptist Church may be the last real church in America [members not brainwashed].”

His Facebook account shows just two likes — the “I hate liberals!” political organization, which uses an avatar that reads “Stand with Rand,” and the Crossroads Irish-American Festival.

Posts on his Facebook page reveals an interest in limiting women’s influence over the church, a hatred for American culture, and complaints about liberals “brainwashing” Americans into hating their own country.

“The bible doesn’t ask me to like what it says, only to obey it,” Houser wrote. “Death comes soon to the financially failing filth farm called the US.”

Houser signed up for an account with Tea Party Nation in June 2013, but he was not an active commenter.

Posts on other forums reveal Houser’s belief that the U.S. was racist against white people, sterilization should be mandatory for welfare recipients and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was a more historically significant figure than the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Hitler accomplished far more than any other through ‘pragmatically forming,’” Houser posted in January 2015.

He wrote something of a manifesto in March 2013, when he asked for help channeling his anger and frustration as a white Christian man living under President Barack Obama.

1 Recognize a lost cause.It is too late.The US is oozing the puss of foolishness and perversion.

2 Find a positive way to exert your energies.I recommend laughing as often as possible.Here is something that is truly funny: since I accepted this it came to me that the president is doing exactly what Tim McVeigh did,only the president is much more effective.The way I see it,the faster he wrecks this nation, which in no way resembles what it’s founders envisioned,the faster working people with morals may re-assume I was for his re-election. I like his spending habits.etc……Truth and death always go hand in hand, and in our brave moments we can laugh. Whatever truth requires, I will accept.

3 Encourage whatever takes us forward. Right now, down is forward.

4 For the few who will understand this, it is my hope that you will see to one preparation for the coming downfall, which will be worse than a Mad Max scenario. That preparation is not storing up canned goods, munitions,etc, but to gather what will be necessary to put in your families food to insure a painless and certain death should the need arise.,if there are no cell phones,no TV,no power,gas,no stores,no police,etc.

5 If you are male, fight until the end, and enjoy it.People are good at what they enjoy, and your Maker would want it that way.

Houser argued in a January 2014 forum post that the United States needed a right-wing party like Greece’s neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” faction to restore its greatness.

GOP Candidate Ted Cruz Weighs In On…. Captain Kirk?

Ted Cruz gets interviewed for The New York Times Magazine and this exchange occurs:

You’re also a fan of ‘‘Star Trek.’’ Do you prefer Captain Kirk or Captain Picard?
Absolutely James Tiberius Kirk.

** a question or two later **

If you were a journalist interviewing you, what would you ask?
Who knows, I might well ask, ‘‘Kirk or Picard?’’ I’ve never been asked that before, and I actually have a strong opinion on it.

Well, that goes with being a Kirk person.
It does indeed. Let me do a little psychoanalysis. If you look at ‘‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’’ it basically split James T. Kirk into two people. Picard was Kirk’s rational side, and William Riker was his passionate side. I prefer a complete captain. To be effective, you need both heart and mind.

I thought your critique might go in a different direction, because ‘‘Next Generation’’ is more touchy-feely in its politics than the original.
No doubt. The original ‘‘Star Trek’’ was grittier. Kirk is working class; Picard is an aristocrat. Kirk is a passionate fighter for justice; Picard is a cerebral philosopher. The original ‘‘Star Trek’’ pressed for racial equality, which was one of its best characteristics, but it did so without sermonizing.

Do you have a suspicion about whether Kirk would be a Democrat or a Republican?
I think it is quite likely that Kirk is a Republican and Picard is a Democrat.

Yeah.  I don’t know that Kirk was “working class” and Picard was an “aristocrat”.  Seems like both series had pretty much done away with class, at least for Earth and other planet members of the Federation.

But Kirk a Republican?  Why?  Because he was working class?

And Picard a Democrat?  Why?  Because he didn’t fight and he used his brain?

Bill… help me out…

Jesus. ANOTHER Mass Shooting

Happened within the past few hours. A shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette Louisiana. 2 are confirmed dead. The shooter is dead. 8 appear to be wounded. It happened 20 minutes into the movie “Trainwreck”.

Ironically, President Obama had taped an interview for the BBC which was going to air in a few hours. In the interview, President Obama stated that his biggest frustration during his presidency was being unable to get any effective gun laws passed. Yep.

UPDATE: Eyewitness says the shooter was a middle age white man, and he was chasing a barefoot woman. Others say shooter stood up as movie was starting and began shooting indiscriminately.

UPDATE:3 confirmed dead, which includes the shooter, a 58 year old man.

On The Ashley Madison Hack

So, a few days ago, the website Ashley Madison was hacked and its 37 million customers could soon have their data leaked online by a crew calling themselves The Impact Team.  Ashley Madison, for the uninitiated, is a site that lets spouses cheat on their partners — kind of like a for adulterers. The Impact Team has threatened to release a huge trove of data beyond the snippets of information they already leaked from Avid Life Media, the owner of Ashley Madison and related properties Established Men and Cougar Life, if the cheating site was not shut down.

Why is Impact Team doing this?  Well, it seems they were particularly aggrieved at a service launched by Ashley Madison last year, promising it could delete users’ information so it was irrecoverable for $19. The hackers claimed that service didn’t do as advertised, and customers’ names and addresses were still stored on ALM’s servers.

“Full Delete netted ALM $1.7mm in revenue in 2014. It’s also a complete lie,” The Impact Team said in a notice alongside the leak, in which they also claimed to have taken complete control of ALM’s “office and production domains”, as well as “all customer information databases”.

If that is true, I think they have a point.

Now, I suppose the news of the leak is ho-hum news to a lot of people, but to 37 million — wait…. let’s just contemplate that number.


Ok.  Well to them this is potentially… bad.  REAL bad.

What disgusts me are people like Christian evangelist Franklin Graham, who posted a message on his Facebook page about the matter Wednesday afternoon, stating:

The Bible says, “be sure your sin will find you out.” Ashley Madison, the website for people who want to cheat on their spouses was hacked this weekend. Their slogan is: “Life is short. Have an affair.” Hackers threatened to reveal personal data related to 37 million users. I have news for all those worried cheaters out there wringing their hands—God already knew! His holy Word says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). Times may have changed, but God’s laws and standards never change—all sin has a price. The New York Daily News calls this an “‪#‎adultery‬ website.” Isn’t it a shame that immorality is such big business?

You know what?  F you, Franklin Graham.

Not being married nor inclined to cheat, I’m not personally affected by this hack, but it does establish a terrible precedent.  We don’t want to snicker at the cheaters who got caught because you never know what could be out in the dark hidden recesses of the web that reflects badly on you or. . .  and this is important . . . someone with the same name as you.  So I think we need to pay attention to this type of thing a little more closely.

New Sandra Bland Revelations

This just came out:

Sandra Bland, the black woman found hanging dead in a Texas jail days after a traffic stop, smoked or possibly swallowed a large amount of marijuana while in custody, her family’s attorney reported the district attorney as saying.

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis made the disclosure in a text message to attorney Cannon Lambert, who has called the state’s autopsy on the Chicago-area woman defective, Lambert said.

“Looking at the autopsy results and toxicology, it appears she swallowed a large quantity of marijuana or smoked it in the jail,” Mathis said in a text message to Lambert that the attorney provided to Reuters.

Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the text. Repeated calls to Mathis’ office were not returned.

“This will of course be very relevant in any future criminal or civil litigation,” the message from Mathis to Lambert said.

This doesn’t look good for the police of Waller county.  Even if actual murder is a leap, we KNOW this:

(1)  The dashcam, nor the eyewitness video, supports the officer’s account of what happened.  We don’t see her assaulting the officer.

(2)  The arrest was unwarranted.  Bland was under no legal obligation to extinguish the cigarette in her own car, even with a traffic stop.

(3)  If, as the Waller county police assert, Sandra Bland had attempted suicide in the past (she told them in her admittance paperwork), they should have put her on a suicide watch.  They did not do this.

(4)  If the toxicology of the autopsy is correct, how did marijuana get in her cell?

UPDATE – several hours later:

Medical examiners ruled the death of Sandra Bland a suicide by hanging, and the autopsy uncovered no evidence of a violent struggle,according to the Texas prosecutor Warren Diepraam, the first assistant district attorney of Waller County:

Diepraam said there were no defensive injuries on Bland’s hands. He said there were about 30 cuts on her wrists, and that the scarring suggests they were made two to four weeks ago, well before her arrest.

Diepraam said that toxicology tests found marijuana in Bland’s system, but he said further tests would be necessary to determine when she ingested it.

Jail intake forms filled out for Bland appear to show that she told jailers she tried to commit suicide last year, and that she had been “very depressed” in the past. But the answers on the forms are inconsistent.

Apparently, reporters were walked through graphic photos.  There is a concurrent investigation going on as to what happened at the roadside.


Major Earthquake Predicted “Any Day Now”

There was a 4.0 earthquake the other day in California yesterday morning.  The 2:41 a.m. earthquake on the border of Fremont and Union City occurred on the Hayward Fault at a depth of 5 miles.  Fremont and Union City are in the San Francisco and Oakland area.

That’s not the news.  The news is this: Tom Brocher, a scientist with the USGS, told CBS that the Hayward Fault is due to produce a major earthquake “any day now.”

Per CBS:

“The population is now 100 times bigger in the East Bay, so we have many more people that will be impacted,” said Tom Brocher, a research geophysicist with the USGS.

“We keep a close eye on the Hayward Fault because it does sit in the heart of the Bay Area and when we do get a big earthquake on it, it’s going to have a big impact on the entire Bay Area,” Brocher said.

While a 2008 report put the probability of a 6.7-magnitude or larger earthquake on the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system over the next 30 years at 31 percent, Brocher said the reality is a major quake is expected on the fault “any day now.”

“The past five major earthquakes on the fault have been about 140 years apart, and now we’re 147 years from that 1868 earthquake, so we definitely feel that could happen any time,” Brocher said.

Why isn’t everyone fraking out?  Why isn’t this front page news everywhere?

Two reasons.  Earthquake prediction is horrible.  The earth’s crust moves at a geologically slow rate.  Geologically slow.  So trying to predict when a major quake will come is tricky.  It has never been done with success.

The other reason? Bocher has been sounding the alarm on the Hayward Fault for a while now. In 2008, he was the lead author of a USGS report that described the fault as a “tectonic time bomb” and warned that a 6.8-7.0 magnitude quake could “could cause hundreds of deaths, leave thousands homeless, and devastate the region’s economy.” Among the factors that lead the report’s authors to suggest that the Hayward Fault is the country’s most dangerous one are the facts that it is the “single most urbanized earthquake fault in the United States” and that “critical regional gas and water pipelines and electrical transmission lines cross.”  You can read the full report here [pdf].

So when he says “any day now”,  you have to remember he is a geologist.  And to a guy who thinks in geological terms, “any day” doesn’t necessarily mean “within the next week”.  It means, literally, “any day”.  Could be tomorrow or maybe a couple of centuries from now.


Why Kasich Can’t Be President

John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, became the newest GOP presidential candidate earlier this week. He’s number 16 now — the 16th GOP presidential candidate.  I didn’t comment on it on this blog because… well, because he’s number 16 now.

And he seems reasonable by comparison to the others, except… not so much.  Let’s let Kasich himself recount the story, as told in his 2006 book:

84221218832128c6_fargo3.xxxlargeI was in my local video store looking for a movie to watch with my wife, Karen, during one of our few quiet evenings together at home. The clerk in the store recommended Fargo, a perversely dark crime story that had played to generally enthusiastic reviews. The movie even earned a Best Actress Oscar for Frances McDormand for her role as a pregnant Midwestern sheriff, and the guy behind the counter at Blockbuster assured me it was a great movie and that I should probably rent it.

So I did. Walked right over to that shelf where they had their general titles, grabbed a copy and took it home, and when Karen and I got to the part where they chop up a guy in a grinder we looked at each other and thought, What the heck are we watching here? It was billed as a comedy, but it wasn’t funny. It was graphic, and brutal, and completely unnecessary, and it rubbed us in so many wrong ways we had to shut the thing off right there in the middle… Next morning, I got on the phone to Blockbuster and demanded that they take the movie off their shelves.

Kasich writes that while he was “a fairly prominent local customer,” he didn’t demand any special treatment — “I was personally offended, and it had nothing to do with any kind of political stand.” He says someone in charge at the local Blockbuster agreed to label movies with graphic content more clearly, but he heard from friends that they didn’t actually change very much. So he called again:

I couldn’t say firsthand whether the situation had gotten any better, because I had taken my business elsewhere, but from all accounts not much had changed, so I called the store again to remind them of our deal, and it got to where Karen had to tell me to back off because I was driving everyone crazy. I’d made my point, she said, and it was time to move on, so I did, but not before the columnist George Will picked up on the story.

“On reflection,” Kasich wrote, he wasn’t “entirely sure that [this story] paints me in the best light,” and admitted, “In fact, it’s possible to look on my actions as the rantings of a wild man.”


Updates To Sandra Bland Death Including Possible Dash Cam Edits

Background is here — Unfortunately, not a new story.  Black person gets pulled over in a southern town and dies in police custody.  The person was Sandra Bland, a vibrant educated 28 year old woman from outside Chicago, who as down in Houston for a job interview, which she got.  After a verbal exchange with police following a traffic stop for failing to change lanes on July 10, she was arrested.  She was dead 3 days later.  Police say she hanged herself with a plastic bag inside the Waller County Jail.

There was video of the arrest from a passerby.  We now have the police dashcam video.  Here it is in full:

Yeah, I know it’s 52 minutes.  So I understand if you don’t want to watch.

But there is something funky about the video…. in two places.

At one point, a tow truck driver exits his vehicle and walks around State Trooper Brian Encinia’s car. Within seconds, the truck driver is seen making the same exit and walk, but Encinia, who can be heard recalling the traffic stop encounter in detail, is uninterrupted.

Minutes later, a white car appears on the screen and disappears two times, before reemerging and making a left turn.

In both cases, audio of Encinia’s voice continues without interruption. Watch the two clips:

One explanation could be that the equipment was faulty, but authorities have agreed to investigate whether or not officers tampered with the evidence.

My sense it is not edited, if only because it so obvious and bad.  But we’ll find out.

Of greater concern, is what wasn’t edited out of the video.  What you have his this officer following and following Bland, as if looking for a pretext to pull her over.  Driving while black, anyone?  And then she fails to make a signal while changing lanes.  And he pounces.  Bam!

And then, contrary to arresting officer’s affidavit that Bland “was swinging her elbows at me and then kicked my right leg in the shin,” causing “pain in my right leg and small cuts on my right hand,” the video clearly shows Brian Encinia being unnecessarily hostile to Bland — who is, by her own admission, annoyed that he had tailed her until he could manufacture a reason for pulling her over.

Encinia aggressively enters her vehicle, telling her that he will “yank you out of her” if she doesn’t comply with his directive “to step out of the car.”

“Step out or I will remove you,” he said.

“I’m getting removed for a failure to signal?” she asked.

“Get out of the car or I will remove you,” he replied.

“I’m calling my lawyer,” she said.

“I’m going to yank you out of here,” Encinia replied, and proceeded to do exactly that, at which point the situation quickly escalated.

A FURTHER THOUGHT:  Over at FDL, a blogger makes a reasonable argument why police may be culpable, even if the death was a suicide.

RIP Theo Bikel

Broadway’s original Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music; also Teyve in Fiddler on the Roof.  Also a good folk singer.  He was 91

Trump/Fox Thoughts

Another day of all-Trump news.  Only because some new polls showed him way ahead, but only one day of that poll was taken after Trump’s McCain comments.

I guess the latest is that Trump gave out Lindsay Graham’s phone number in a speech.  Intentionally.  Serious douche.

But the only thing I wanted to add was how Fox is handling the Trump story.  And the answer is….. delicately.  They don’t want to call him a jackass too much and alienate their viewers in the base.  So they just end up asking questions, i.e.,

Fox News Person:  Is Trump going to hurt the Republican party?  If only by sucking air from the other candidates?

Fox News Expert Guest:  Well, only time will tell.  He certainly has a strong following.

Fox News Person:  The polls don’t seem to have much to say about the backlash after insulting McCain.

Fox News Expert Guest:  They don’t, although whether something will happen in the future is the $64,000 question.

…. and so on.  Aaaaaaaalllll day.

It’s pretty funny.

The Great Donald Trump Performance Art Piece Is In The Last Act

SCENE:  A boardroom in Trump Towers.  Present is Donald Trump pacing the floor, and three senior executives sitting at the desk (Mr. A, Mr. B, and Mr. C).  Also sitting is one wet-behind-the-ears junior executive, Mr. Z.  Trump is on his cell phone.

TRUMP:  Tell him to go fuck himself!  No, tweet this: “Chris Matthews is STUPID!  And capitalize the word STUPID!”


Right.  Three exclamation points — same as usual!  No, make it FOUR!”

[The three senior executives murmur quietly “Ooooooh, four”]

[TRUMP hits the off button on his phone] 

TRUMP:  I love Chris.  Smartest journalist on the left.  [Gets an idea.  Hits intercom button.]  Savannah, call Chris and Kathy.  Set up a time when they can come for dinner.  Cafe Des Artistes. [Sits and addresses men at table]  Gentlemen, the immigration experiment has run its course.  I think we’ve found the xenophobic sweet spot of the base of the Republican party.  You fuckin’ nay-sayers thought the people would revolt and throw me out of the party.  Well, once again, I was right and you were wrong.  So apologize.

MR A:  Sorry, The Donald

MR B:  Sorry, The Donald.

MR C:  Sorry, The Donald.

[All look at Mr. Z]

MR Z:  I… Hi…. Um…. I wasn’t at that meeting.  I guess.  Sorry. I just… I just was hired last week.

[All look at TRUMP, who is frowning.  Then, a smile]

TRUMP:  Kid’s got brass balls. [Laughter from the senior executives]  I like that.  Hey, kid, you know why they’re called “brass balls”?

MR Z: Uh… No.  I don’t know.  W-why do they call them “brass balls”?

[Long pause]

TRUMP: [Stands, hits intercom button]:  Savannah, find out if there’s a joke about “brass balls” and why they’re called that.  Check the Joan Rivers archives.  If it ain’t there, call Gilbert Gottfried and ask him. [to execs] Funniest fucker that ever lived. [Sits]  Okay, gentlemen.  So what’s next for the campaign?  Any ideas?  Nothing too crazy for an idea.  In fact, the crazier the better.  I got fuckin’ 70% of the party in my hand.  Now what?

MR Z:  [clears throat]  Actually, Mr Trummm — The Donald — they told me to come to this meeting prepared with some ideas.  Now, I don’t claim to know everything about economics and I wouldn’t presume to know your views, but it seems to me —

TRUMP:  Whooooooa…… Mr. Brass Balls trying to make a name for himself.  I like that.  It seems to you what, Mr. Brass Balls?

MR Z:  Thank you, sir.  It seems to me that you’ve got the base in the palm of my hand, as you say —

TRUMP:  — Eatin’ it from right there.  Right from the palm of my hand.  I can pick up a doughy load of monkey poop and they would eat it right up.

MR Z:  Yyyyes, sir.  The base is eating poop outta your hand —

TRUMP:  [correcting him]  Monkey poop.  Keep going.

MR Z:  Right. Uh, so I was thinking we do something unexpected.  A shift.  But a surprise still.  To keep your name in the headlines.  Something nobody would expect.

TRUMP:  Like a shift?  But a surprise?  Like a shift surprise, you’re saying.  It will keep my name in the headlines.

MR Z:  Right.

TRUMP:  I don’t know what you’re saying.

MR Z:  Hear me out, sir.  A five point economic plan to address income equality.  Or a six point plan.  Or how-many-ever points you want.  But the point is to come out with a serious economic policy proposal.  And call it the, whatever, five-point plan to… I don’t know…. to return Dollars To The People.  Something like that.  Something serious.  And people will go, “Whoa.  We just thought he, you know, was a firebrand.”  Which is a good thing to be.  But now we surprise ’em, see, with something serious. And they all go, “Whoa that guy is a firebrand AND a serious thinker and a statesman.”

TRUMP:  Something serious….

MR Z:  Yes, sir.


TRUMP:  Da fuck?

MR A:  What I think our young associate here is trying to say is —

TRUMP:  know what he is saying.  He’s saying let’s kiss the asses of the Harvard fuckin’ Yale elites.

MR A:  Well, it’s —

TRUMP:  I didn’t get to the top of the polls by kisses the asses of the bluebloods.  Get the fuck out of here, kid.

MR Z:  Sir, if you would allow me to explain —

TRUMP:  Get the fuck outta here.  And tell Savannah to forget Gottfried.  I’m revoking your brass balls, and giving you STUPID balls.

MR Z:  Am I fired?

TRUMP:  Did I say — (fuckin kids these days!) — Did I say “You’re fired?”  No. I did not.  Get the fuck outta here.  To your desk or cube or whatever. [MR Z leaves]  Did I or did I not just explain about monkey poop?

MR B:  You did sir.  I was here.

TRUMP:  You were here.  Was he here?

MR C:  Apparently not.

TRUMP:  Apparently not.  [Pause — laughs very loudly and for a long time]  “Apparently not.”  That’s great.  That’s great!  I like that!  [laughs more, chokes a little]  “Apparently not” he says. [wipes tears from eyes with a very expensive monogrammed handkerchief]  “Apparently not” [Types something into on his cellphone, presumably “apparently not”.  All wait patiently until he’s done]   Okay, gentlemen.  Here’s the problem.  It’s no surprise that my poll numbers are through the fuckin’ roof and you and everybody else is wrong about me.  BUT, I don’t want to do this fuckin’ debate and they say that if I’m in the top ten, I gotta debate.  And of course, I’m in the top one?  Right?

EXECS:  Right, of course, you bet, etc.

TRUMP:  So I gotta start working now to bring my poll numbers down cuz I don’t wanna debate.  I mean, guys, I did this for a lark. To get my name in the papers.  Grease the skids of a few deals I’m working on.  Stuff that needs regulatory approval.  Nothing like having 70% of the base on your side to get the assholes in D.C. behind you, am I right?  “Mr. Chairman, to whom I give generous contributions to, did you know that 59 percent of the people in your district think I am the shit?  And while you contemplate that, could you tell your dickless friends at the FTC to approve my fucking merger already?”

[All laugh]

TRUMP: So what is it, boys?  Let’s brainstorm.  How can I still be outrageous and make headlines, and still be the darling of some of the base, but get lower in the polls?

[After a pause]

MR B:  Kick an aborted fetus through the goal posts at the Meadowlands?

MR A: Jee-zus, Stan.

MR B:  Too much?

MR A:  He has a bad back!

TRUMP [at the same time as Mr A]:  I have a bad back!

MR B:  Oh, right.

TRUMP:  [Under his breath….]  Meadowlands. [Then, in normal voice] No.  I need to say something.  Something really offensive.  It’s my mouth.  My golden mouth.  That’s my strength.

MR C:  But sir.  You’ve insulted an entire race of people and an entire country, an ally sir.  How can you top that?

TRUMP:  Fuck.  That was easy.  I took the base where it already wanted to go.  It’s not like I attacked any Americ–

[His face goes solid with surprise.  An idea!]

TRUMP:  I need to attack America.

MR A:  Like how the liberals attack America?

TRUMP [slapping A]:  No, not like how the liberals attack America.  I need to attack a sacred American cow of the right wing.

MR A:  Wall Street!

MR B:  Reagan!

MR C:  Fox News!

TRUMP:  Can’t be Fox News.  I need them to cover my outrageous attack.

MR A:  How about attacking drill baby drill?

MR B:  Or Sarah Palin?

MR C:  Our troops?

TRUMP:  Hmmmm, Sarah Palin.  Eeeh.  Our troops…… wait, wait, wait.

[Trump thinks harder.  Then the penny drops.  Yes!  The expression copies itself to Mr. A.  Yes!  Then to Mr. B.  Of course!]

MR C:  What?  What?!?  What is it??!?

trump mccain

Aaaaaand scene. I guess that was a little long.

But sure enough, Donald Trump went there.  Here it is:

Yes, this is particularly abhorrent.  Let’s go back to 1968.  Here’s McCain and Trump.


Trump was 21 years in 1968.  Vietnam?  Not for Donald.  He avoided the Vietnam War draft by getting repeated student deferments.  Opposed to the war, Trump was on his way to earning an Ivy League degree. And he had a job in his father’s real estate company.

When he graduated from college, Trump had a net worth of $200,000 ($1.4 million in today’s dollar). Meanwhile, John McCain was in a small North Vietnamese prison cell. His body was busted up from a plane crash — injuries that were only made worse by torture.  How did he get there?

On Oct. 25, 1967, McCain had destroyed two enemy MiG fighter planes parked on a runway outside Hanoi. He begged to go out the next day, too.

But as he flew into Hanoi again on Oct. 26, his jet’s warning lights began to flash.

“I was on my 23rd mission, flying right over the heart of Hanoi in a dive at about 4,500 feet, when a Russian missile the size of a telephone pole came up — the sky was full of them — and blew the right wing off my Skyhawk dive bomber,” he wrote in a 1973 account of his ordeal. “It went into an inverted, almost straight-down spin. I pulled the ejection handle, and was knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection.”

McCain regained consciousness when his parachute landed him in a lake. The explosion had shattered both arms and one of his legs. With 50 pounds of gear on him and one good limb, he struggled to swim to the surface.

North Vietnamese dragged him to shore. Then stripped him to his underwear and began “hollering and screaming and cursing and spitting and kicking at me.”

“One of them slammed a rifle butt down on my shoulder, and smashed it pretty badly,” he wrote. “Another stuck a bayonet in my foot. The mob was really getting up-tight.”

He was interrogated for four days, losing consciousness as his captors tried to beat information out of him. But he refused.

He shot enemy planes.  That’s a hero.  He survived a plane crash, beating and torture, and never talked.  That’s  a hero.

And that is saying nothing of the horrendous and valiant survival at the Hanoi Hilton and his long painful road to recovery.

A lot of people, myself included, believe that the Vietnam War was a mistake.   But people who haven’t been in war, in my view, are not in a position to question the valor of people who have.  This holds true for Trump.

Many people have already identified what Trump is doing — he is swiftboating — the very thing done to John Kerry in 2004 by the dirty trickster, Karl Rove.  I think all the Republicans who say they are outraged at Trump’s comments need to step up and apologize to John Kerry if they didn’t, as McCain did, defend him from the swiftboaters.  But I don’t expect it to happen.

UPDATE:  Hey, remember this….

This lovely one from Ann Coulter:

“Max Cleland should stop allowing Democrats to portray him as a war hero who lost his limbs taking enemy fire on the battlefields of Vietnam,” she writes, claiming that he “lost three limbs in an accident during a routine non-combat mission where he was about to drink beer with friends. He saw a grenade on the ground and picked it up. He could have done that at Fort Dix. In fact, Cleland could have dropped a grenade on his foot as a National Guardsman …. Luckily for Cleland’s political career and current pomposity about Bush, he happened to do it while in Vietnam.”

Cleland won the silver star for the battle of Khe Sanh.

Funny, I don’t remember any Republicans taking either Chambliss or Coulter to task for that one.


This was the entire announcement from the people at Huffington Post. Lets look at it:

[Huff Post Politics] A Note About Our Coverage Of Donald Trump’s ‘Campaign’

Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post
Danny Shea, Editorial Director, The Huffington Post

After watching and listening to Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president, we have decided we won’t report on Trump’s campaign as part of The Huffington Post’s political coverage. Instead, we will cover his campaign as part of our Entertainment section. Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.

Yup.  Like Pat Paulsen for President (1968) or Stephen Colbert for President (2008).  This is entertainment.

Gawker Is Imploding

More fallout from this debacle:

Tommy Craggs, the executive editor of Gawker Media, and Max Read, the editor-in-chief of, are resigning from the company. In letters sent today, Craggs and Read informed staff members that the managing partnership’s vote to remove a controversial post about the CFO of Condé Nast—a unprecedented act endorsed by zero editorial employees—represented an indefensible breach of the notoriously strong firewall between Gawker’s business interests and the independence of its editorial staff. Under those conditions, Craggs and Read wrote, they could not possibly guarantee Gawker’s editorial integrity.

Excuse me?  “Editorial integrity?”

Another Jailed Black Person “Hangs Herself”

Are you buying this?


According to authorities, an 18-year-old girl hanged her self in an Alabama jail. The inmate has been identified as Kindra Darnell Chapman by the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office.

Chapman was arrested on a first-degree-robbery charge for allegedly taking a cellphone and booked at Homewood City Jail Tuesday around 6:22 p.m., reports. She was last seen alive at 6:30 p.m by jailers and found unresponsive at 7:50 p.m. Officials report that Chapman used a bed sheet to hang herself.

Chapman was pronounced dead at Brookwood Medical Center. Homewood police are currently investigating this death.

This was Tuesday, the same day the story broke about Sandra Bland.

Now, we know very little about the facts.  But check it out.  Assuming the allegations are true, she hung herself because of a cellphone.  And while you are mulling the probability of that, consider that she was only in the 80 minutes between when she was last seen and when she was found dead, this girl had figured out and executed her own suicide with resources in the cell.

Is it all possible?  Sure.  But this is Alabama.

UPDATE:  I found this picture of her… a fuller one of the picture above.


Apparently, Kindra was pretty bad-ass.  (I found other pictures of her making the same gesture).

And a picture of her apparently with a gun.


Although, these pictures make it LESS likely that this girl would kill herself.  Obviously, she wasn’t weak.  I’ll bet she gave some sass.

Gawker Does The Right Thing . . . Too Little, Too Late Though

I was going to write about a certain story, but I didn’t want to promote it.  Basically, the Gawker news site put a story up online about a certain person you have never heard.  And it doesn’t matter who it is.  But he is the brother of someone in Obama’s cabinet, and the CFO of a major publishing company.

And the story was long and detailed, but the thrust of it was simple: this man, who has a wife and kids, paid $2,500 to have sex with a male escort.  How did Gawker get the story?  The male escort was trying to blackmail the man-in-question, and passed on texts and emails to Gawker.  Which Gawker published last evening.  They basically outed a guy and destroyed his personal and possibly his career.

Gawker’s story, written by Jordan Sargent, instantly and almost universally provoked unbridled scorn, and rightfully so.  The story had many problems — including the question of whether the subject was prominent enough to be covered at all.  And for the LGBTQ community in particular, the story brought back memories of people effectively weaponizing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity for blackmail and other threats.

Gawker’s editor-in-chief Max Read defended the story in a way that is utterly laughable, and it’s grounded in a premise that is very common when people want to wallow in others’ private lives, yet incredibly toxic.  He tweeted:

Ugh. Gawker wants you to think it is simply on the prowl to locate and punish adulterers who are vandalizing the sanctity of their marital vows. It’s just about solemn retribution for sinners. They are posing as the chivalrous defender of this man’s wife. (And note the sexist attitude of the tweet — what if a “married c-suite executive is cheating on her husband?)

But in truth, they are are hoping for clicks and pageviews so they can get revenue from their advertisers.  That’s all.  It’s not news — it is cllick-bait.

Even if you buy Read’s justification, you know it is a lie.  Read has no idea whether the CFO’s wife knew about the adultery or not. To justify the article, Read is feigning knowledge that he in fact completely lacks: the private, intimate understanding between the CFO whose life he tried to destroy and the wife whom he has deluded himself into believing he’s protecting.

A good rule of decency is to stay out of the private, personal, and sexual lives of consenting adults, absent some very compelling reason to involve yourself (such as damaging hypocrisy on the part of a political figure). The temptations to intrude into and sit in judgment of those aspects of other people’s lives are powerful, but they’re almost always lowly, self-degrading and scummy. If you have any doubts about that, reading that vile Gawker post will permanently dispel them.


I was going to write about all that, but Gawker just did the right thing, and took down the article.  Here’s the story about that, from, well, Gawker:

Yesterday, Gawker published a post about the CFO of Condé Nast attempting to pay a gay porn star for a night in a Chicago hotel. Today the managing partnership of Gawker Media voted, 5-1, to remove it. Executive editor Tommy Craggs, who helped edit the piece, was the sole dissenter.

The vote to remove the post, which was written by staff writer Jordan Sargent and edited by several other Gawker staffers, comes after widespread criticism from our own readers and other outlets. Along the Craggs, every other member of Gawker Media’s editorial leadership, including Gawker’s editor-in-chief Max Read and the executive editors of Gawker Media’s Politburo, strenuously protested removing the post.

The partners who voted to remove the post were Heather Dietrick, who serves as president and chief legal counsel; Andrew Gorenstein, who serves as the president of advertising and partnerships; chief operating officer Scott Kidder; chief strategy officer Erin Pettigrew; and chief executive officer Nick Denton, who founded Gawker Media in 2002. Along with Tommy Craggs, they belong to Gawker Media’s managing partnership, which Denton established in 2014 and whose members decide on all major company matters.

“The point of this story was not in my view sufficient to offset the embarrassment to the subject and his family,” Denton wrote in a lengthy statement issued on Friday afternoon. “Accordingly, I have had the post taken down. It is the first time we have removed a significant news story for any reason other than factual error or legal settlement.”

Score one for the mission-to-civilize.

Unfortunately, they don’t actually apologize.  They’re basically saying, we were right to post it, and we’re right to take it down.  Ugh again.

The Penny Drops

Over at the right wing site The Daily Caller — one of the many right-wing websites that has grown from a steady diet from Fox News and AM talk radio to form the final wall in the echo chamber — a lonely columnist quietly looks and Donald Trump’s antics and wonders aloud this:

What If The Base Is Wrong?

by Matt Lewis
Senior Contributor

One of the explanations for Donald Trump’s surging poll numbers goes like this: The base doesn’t trust Republican leaders on immigration. This manifests in support for a man who tells it like it is.

The problem with this is that the immigration schism on the right is largely about rhetoric. Almost everybody agrees we must secure the border, and even the most hawkish anti-immigration reform advocates won’t admit they want to deport the 11 million, or so, illegals. There are differences of opinion on whether to allow for a pathway to citizenship or to legalize them, but almost nobody is advocating for mass deportation.

As such, the real disagreement, it seems, is about rhetoric: Should we talk about immigrants in a way that suggests we believe they are children of God who (in most cases) are seeking a better life for their family — or should we assume most of them are rapists?

Based on Trump’s popularity, there is a market for doing the latter.

Now, suppose you’re a Republican “leader” tasked with winning elections today — and in the future. Demographic shifts suggest that doubling down on white, working class, non-college educated males from rural areas won’t cut it forever.

Putting aside the fact that you might support immigration reform on its merits, wouldn’t it make sense to try to tone down rhetoric guaranteed to turn off segments of the national electorate that are actually growing? (And here, I’m not just talking about Hispanics.) That way you might be able to win elections, finally secure the border, defend the right to life, cut job-killing regulations, etc.

This brings us to some fundamental questions about leadership: Should leaders merely reflect the opinions of their followers, or try to lead them? My take is that, ideally, leaders persuade followers to follow them. But sometimes that doesn’t work. And then we’re left with this: If you’re the captain of a ship, and your most vocal passengers insist you to steer towards something that looks to you like an iceberg, do you do it?

In other words he’s asking, “Can we win by putting forth nominee blowhards like Trump?”

The answer of course is “no”, but if the comments section is any hint, the base is, if nothing else, tenacious.  You pass their litmus test or else they’ll . . . well, I don’t know.  Not vote (which is good) or start a revolution with their guns from their confederate flag be-decaled Chevy pickups (not so good).

The Suspicious Death Of Sandy Bland

28-year-old Sandra Bland (also called Sandy).  She was visiting Texas from Naperville, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) to interview for a college job at her alma mater of Prairie View A&M.  She got the job.

On July 10, she tweeted this:

A view hours later, she was pulled over for a routine traffic violation (failure to use her turn signal).  Stories vary, but the police claim she was combative. The story ends this way: Sandy Bland died in a Texas holding cell on or around July 13, 2015:

Sandra Bland was found dead in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell on Monday at 9 a.m. after being arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a routine traffic stop, the I-Team has learned. Authorities say her death appears to be suicide. In numerous emails and phone calls to the ABC7 I-Team, her friends and relatives say they do not believe the official version of what happened and say this is a case of foul play in a county with a history racial intolerance.

Here’s a video that surfaced, purportedly depicting Bland’s July 10 arrest:

The full uncut video is here.

Quotes taken from the footage suggested that Bland objected to rough handling by the officer or officers who arrested her, and she’s quoted as saying:

You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear! … You slammed me into the ground and everything.

statement two days ago about Bland’s July 13 death in custody was published by the Waller County Sheriff’s Office to their Facebook page. The statement confirmed that Bland was arrested on July 10 (purportedly for failing to signal a lane change):

On Monday, July 13th, at approximately 09:00 am, a female inmate was found in her cell not breathing from what appears to be self-inflicted asphyxiation. CPR was immediately started and Waller County EMS notified. She was pronounced deceased a short time later. In order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, the Texas Rangers were immediately notified to conduct the death investigation. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards, Texas Attorney General and Waller County District Attorney’s Offices were notified. The name of the female is being withheld at this time while investigators speak with family members from another state. She was arrested on Friday, July 10th, for Assault on a Public Servant by a DPS Trooper and booked into the Waller County Jail. Sheriff R Glenn Smith states that any loss of life is a tragic incident and while the investigation is being conducted by outside agencies, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office will continue to observe the daily operations of the jail to always look for improvements and/or preventions of these incidents.

Oh.  Sheriff Glenn Smith thinks it is a “tragic incident”, does he?  Well, Sheriff Glenn Smith was fired from his job as police chief in Hempstead, Texas, after racism allegations were made against him and four of his officers, the Houston Chronicle reported.

He was fired in 2008 and elected shortly after by Waller County to be its sheriff.

Daily Kos columnist Shaun King has also reported that there have been other suicides recently at the county jail.

If that’s true, that doesn’t bode well.

LaNitra Dean, a friend of Bland’s, was one of many who told the ABC affiliate in Chicago they were skeptical of the circumstances under which Bland died:

The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life. Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually.

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told the outlet that he didn’t “have any information that would make [him] think [Bland’s death] was anything other than just a suicide.” Thousands of social media users signed a petition calling for the Department of Justice to do an autopsy on Sandra Bland.

A little more on Sandra Bland:


She had degrees. She belonged to a Black Greek Organization. She was employed. And she was about to start a new job.  Does this strike you as someone who would hang themselves in a cell?

Bland’s Facebook page shows that she was active in the Black Lives Matter movement and often posted about police brutality and racial injustice, including in videos she called “Sandy Speaks,” where she opined on race issues.

And about an hour ago:

Chicago media says:

FBI officials tell the ABC7 I-Team that agents are aware of the case and coordinating with local authorities. The Texas Rangers are currently investigating.

“They are monitoring the local investigation until it’s complete,” an FBI official said. That is the standard procedure, she said

Chattanooga Shootings

Well, someone went ballistic (so to speak) in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  It is all unfolding now, but he apparently shot up a Navy Recruitment Center.  This pic was posted on Twitter


The suspect has been killed.  That is confirmed   Not much known about him other than he was white and drove a Mustang.

A police officer has been shot but is in stable condition.  Four military officers were also shot — condition unknown but reports are there is “a lot of blood”.  Despite the fact that the shooter is dead, many places in Chattanooga remain on lockdown.

On the local Chattnooga news, they are taking strains not to speculate, but you can tell what they are thinking.

So I’ll say it: shooting at the military?  It sure sounds like someone might be buying into this Jade Helm 15 thing.


News conference held.  Some more info….

Investigators confirm Chattanooga, Tenn., shootings occurred at 2 different military buildings.  Three people, including police officer, being treated for injuries.  Four Marines killed.  Gunman killed as well.  He had multiple weapons. Authorities say no reason to believe anybody else was involved.  Motive unknown.

The shooting began about 10:45 a.m. at one recruiting center on Lee Highway in and ended about 30 minutes later at the facility on Amnicola Highway, where all of the deaths occurred.The United States attorney Bill Killian said that federal investigators would take the lead on the case, which he initially called an “act of domestic terrorism” before backing away, saying that the investigation would determine how the crime should be labeled.


I know they said we shouldn’t attach labels, but….  Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez?  Yeah, we shouldn’t come to a conclusion based just on the name, but it’s a pretty safe speculation that we can call it “terrorism”.  Domestic or foreign?  TBD.  Guess I was wrong about the Jade Helm thing.

Also, the police are manning the military recruitment stations in NYC.  And other places, I suspect.

2015 Emmy Nominations

I don’t watch a lot of television, virtually every show I watched this year (“Better Call Saul”,“Downton Abbey”,“Game of Thrones”,“Homeland”,“Orange is the New Black”,“Louie”,“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”,”The Newsroom”,”Orphan Black”,”Inside Amy Schumer”) was nominated.

I won’t make predictions about who will win; but I will italicized my HOPES.

“Better Call Saul”
“Downton Abbey”
“Game of Thrones”
“House of Cards”
“Mad Men”
“Orange is the New Black”

“Modern Family”
“Parks and Recreation”
“Silicon Valley”
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”


Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline”
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”


Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”
Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”
Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”
Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”


Timothy Hutton, “American Crime”
Ricky Gervais, “Derek Special”
Adrien Brody, “Houdini”
David Oyelowo, “Nightingale”
Richard Jenkins, “Olive Kitteridge”
Mark Rylance, “Wolf Hall”


Felicity Huffman, “American Crime”
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story”
Queen Latifah, “Bessie”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Honorable Woman”
Frances McDormand, “Olive Kitteridge”
Emma Thompson, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street”


Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”
Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”
Will Forte, “The Last Man On Earth”
Louis C.K., “Louie”
William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent


Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback”
Lily Tomlin, “Grace And Frankie”
Amy Schumer, “Inside Amy Schumer”
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Amy Poehler, “Parks And Recreation”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”


“The Amazing Race”
“Dancing With The Stars”
“Project Runway”
“So You Think You Can Dance”
“Top Chef”
“The Voice”


“The Colbert Report”
“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live”
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”
“Late Show With David Letterman”
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”


“American Crime”
“American Horror Story: Freak Show”
“The Honorable Woman”
“Olive Kitteridge”
“Wolf Hall”


“Drunk History”
“Inside Amy Schumer”
“Key & Peele”
“Saturday Night Live”


“Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Curtain, Poirot’s Last Case”
“Grace of Monaco”
“Hello Ladies: The Movie”
“Killing Jesus”


Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”
Ben Mendelsohn, “Bloodline”
Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey”
Peter Dinklage, “Game Of Thrones”
Alan Cumming, “The Good Wife”
Michael Kelly, “House Of Cards”


Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey”
Lena Headey, “Game Of Thrones”
Emilia Clarke, “Game Of Thrones”
Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife”
Christina Hendricks, “Man Men”
Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is The New Black”


Alan Alda, “The Blacklist”
Michael J. Fox, “The Good Wife”
F. Murray Abraham, “Homeland”
Reg E. Cathey, “House of Cards”
Beau Bridges, “Masters Of Sex”
Pablo Schreiber, “Orange Is The New Black”


Margo Martindale, “The Americans”
Diana Rigg, “Game of Thrones”
Rachel Brosnahan, “House Of Cards”
Cicely Tyson, “How To Get Away With Murder”
Allison Janney, “Masters Of Sex”
Khandi Alexander, “Scandal”


Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
Adam Driver, “Girls”
Keegan-Michael Key, “Key & Peele”
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Tony Hale, “Veep”


Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”
Niecy Nash, “Getting On”
Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”
Allison Janney, “Mom”
Kate McKinnon “Saturday Night Live”
Gaby Hoffmann, “Transparent”
Jane Krakowski, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”


Mel Brooks, “The Comedians”
Paul Giamatti, “Inside Amy Schumer”
Bill Hader, “Saturday Night Live”
Louis C.K., “Saturday Night Live”
Bradley Whitford, “Transparent”
Jon Hamm, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”


Christine Baranski, “The Big Bang Theory”
Gaby Hoffmann, “Girls”
Pamela Adlon, “Louie”
Elizabeth Banks, “Modern Family”
Joan Cusack, “Shameless”
Tina Fey, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”


Richard Cabral, “American Crime”
Denis O’Hare, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
Finn Wittrock, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
Michael Kenneth Williams, “Bessie”
Bill Murray, “Olive Kitteridge”
Damian Lewis, “Wolf Hall”


Regina King, “American Crime”
Sarah Paulson, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
Angela Bassett, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
Kathy Bates, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”
Mo’Nique, “Bessie”
Zoe Kazan, “Olive Kitteridge”


“The Americans” • Do Mail Robots Dream Of Electric Sheep? • FX Networks • Fox 21 Television
Studios and FX Productions
Joshua Brand, Written by

“Better Call Saul” • Five-O • AMC • Sony Pictures Television / Gran Via Productions
Gordon Smith, Written by

“Game Of Thrones” • Mother’s Mercy • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead,
Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions
David Benioff, Written by
D.B. Weiss, Written by

“Mad Men” • Lost Horizon • AMC • Lionsgate Television / UROK Productions
Semi Chellas, Written by
Matthew Weiner, Written by

“Mad Men” • Person To Person • AMC • Lionsgate Television / UROK Productions
Matthew Weiner, Written by


“Boardwalk Empire” • Eldorado • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions
Tim Van Patten, Directed by

“Game Of Thrones” • Mother’s Mercy • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead,
Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions
David Nutter, Directed by

“Game Of Thrones” • Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with
Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions
Jeremy Podeswa, Directed by

“Homeland” • From A To B And Back Again • Showtime • SHOWTIME Presents, Fox 21, Teakwood
Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet
Lesli Linka Glatter, Directed by

“The Knick” • Method And Madness • Cinemax • Cinemax Entertainment in association with Ambeg
Screen Products, Anonymous Content and Extension 765
Steven Soderbergh, Directed by


“Episodes” • Episode 409 • Showtime • SHOWTIME Presents, Hat Trick Productions, Crane Klarik
David Crane, Written by
Jeffrey Klarik, Written by

“The Last Man On Earth” • Alive In Tucson (Pilot) • FOX • 20th Century Fox Television
Will Forte, Written by

“Louie” • Bobby’s House • FX Networks • Pig Newton, Inc. and FX Productions
Louis C.K., Written by

“Silicon Valley” • Two Days Of The Condor • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with
Judgemental Films, Alec Berg, Altschuler Krinsky Works and 3 Arts Entertainment
Alec Berg, Written by

“Transparent” • Pilot • Amazon Instant Video • Amazon Studios
Jill Soloway, Written by

“Veep” • Election Night • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Dundee Productions
Simon Blackwell, Teleplay and Story by
Armando Iannucci, Story by
Tony Roche, Teleplay and Story by


“The Last Man On Earth” • Alive In Tucson (Pilot) • FOX • 20th Century Fox Television
Phil Lord, Directed by
Christopher Miller, Directed by

“Louie” • Sleepover • FX Networks • Pig Newton, Inc. and FX Productions
Louis C.K., Directed by

“Silicon Valley” • Sand Hill Shuffle • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Judgemental
Films, Alec Berg, Altschuler Krinsky Works and 3 Arts Entertainment
Mike Judge, Directed by

“Transparent” • Best New Girl • Amazon Instant Video • Amazon Studios
Jill Soloway, Directed by

“Veep” • Testimony • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Dundee Productions
Armando Iannucci, Directed by


“American Crime” • Episode One • ABC • ABC Studios
John Ridley, Written by

“Bessie” • HBO • HBO Films in association with Flavor Unit Entertainment and the Zanuck Company
Dee Rees, Screenplay and Story by
Christopher Cleveland, Screenplay by
Bettina Gilois, Screenplay by
Horton Foote, Story by

“Hello Ladies: The Movie” • HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Four Eyes Entertainment,
Quantity Entertainment and ABC Studios
Stephen Merchant, Written by
Gene Stupnitsky, Written by
Lee Eisenberg, Written by

“The Honorable Woman” • SundanceTV • Drama Republic and Eight Rooks Productions for BBC TWO,
co-produced by SundanceTV
Hugo Blick, Written by

“Olive Kitteridge” • HBO • HBO Miniseries in association with Playtone
Jane Anderson, Teleplay by

“Wolf Hall” • PBS • A Playground Entertainment and Company Pictures Production for BBC and
MASTERPIECE in association with BBC Worldwide, Altus Media and Prescience
Peter Straughan, Written by


“American Horror Story: Freak Show” • Monsters Among Us • FX Networks • 20th Century Fox
Ryan Murphy, Directed by

“Bessie” • HBO • HBO Films in association with Flavor Unit Entertainment and the Zanuck Company
Dee Rees, Directed by

“The Honorable Woman” • SundanceTV • Drama Republic and Eight Rooks Productions for BBC TWO,
co-produced by SundanceTV
Hugo Blick, Directed by

“Houdini” • HISTORY • Lionsgate Television and A+E Studios for History
Uli Edel, Directed by

“The Missing” • Starz • New Pictures & Company Pictures in association with Two Brothers Pictures,
Playground Entertainment & the BBC
Tom Shankland, Directed by

“Olive Kitteridge” • HBO • HBO Miniseries in association with Playtone
Lisa Cholodenko, Directed by

“Wolf Hall” • PBS • A Playground Entertainment and Company Pictures Production for BBC and
MASTERPIECE in association with BBC Worldwide, Altus Media and Prescience
Peter Kosminsky, Directed by


Tom Bergeron, “Dancing with the Stars”
Jane Lynch, “Hollywood Game Night”
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, “Project Runway”
Cat Deeley, “So You Think You Can Dance”
Anthony Bourdain, “The Taste”


“Antiques Roadshow”
“Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”
“Property Brothers”
“Shark Tank”
“Undercover Boss”


“Alaska: The Last Frontier”
“Deadliest Catch”
“Million Dollar Listing New York”
“Naked And Afraid”


“Bill Maher: Live From D.C.”
“The Kennedy Center Honors”
“Mel Brooks Live At The Geffen”
“The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special”
“Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek To Cheek LIVE!”


“The Colbert Report”
“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”
“Inside Amy Schumer”
“Key & Peele”
“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”


“The 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards”
“Key & Peele Super Bowl Special”
“Louis C.K.: Live At The Comedy Store”
“Mel Brooks Live At The Geffen”
“The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special”

I Venture In The Loony Bin So You Don’t Have To

This Jade Helm thing that I wrote about a couple of months ago is still going strong.  For those of you still unfamiliar with “Jade Helm 15”, it is the name of a US military operation, or a series of operations actually, that is taking place throughout the Southwest, and a little bit of the South.  Nothing new about that — it’s been done before.  But many right wing conspiracy nuts are convinced — convinced — that it is a US military coup and actually the military is… oh, I don’t know… coming to take your guns and put you in a FEMA camp.  Because Obama.

According to conspiracy theorists, Jade Helm starts today.

Anyway, I found THE site for all your loony right wing news that the mainstream media won’t tell you about because they’re scared or maybe even part of the Jade Helm operation.  It is link-a-riff-ic, so I will put the front page in below the fold (“Read More”).  But I especially like how the front page is segregated into a “News” column of stories, and an “Alternate News” column of stories, and the stories in both columns are pretty much the same (Jade Helm).  I’m not sure what the distinction is, but it must be pretty fine.

Here’s one my favorite photos from the All News Pipeline site.


The point, I guess, is that new malls have been built in America using. . . the designs from Nazi concentration camps . . . because . . . um . . . if you want to build a concentration camp, by God, it better look like the concentration camps from 70 years ago.  (None of this Japanese internment camps with their measly barbed wire fences — OUR concentration camps must have towers with triangle things on top.  And an Orange Julius!)

Don’t believe it’s happening. . . well if THIS VIDEO doesn’t convince you, NOTHING WILL!

And I uncovered this little piece of information — proof positive that something funny is happening.  I’ve edited it a bit, but you’ll get the gist:

UPDATE!!! Blue Bell Ice Cream ‘Refrigerated Morgue Trucks’ Join Military Convoy In Colorado Weeks After
Listeria Outbreak Shuts Down Ice Cream Production


By Stefan Stanford – All News Pipeline – Live Free Or Die

UPDATE!!! A customer service representative from Blue Bell has asked us to update our story with this official statement.:

The trucks you refer to in the post below, are trucks we are relocating from our closed branches to those that remain open. It just so happened that our trucks were traveling on the same highway as the military convoy, but there is no relation to their activity. Can you please update your story to reflect the correct information?

Thank You,

Jenny Van Dorf
Public Relations Market Specialist
Blue Bell Advertising Associates
1101 South Blue Bell Road
Brenham, TX 77833

Only weeks after declaring that it will be several months before Blue Bell Ice Cream begins producing ice cream again after a multi-state listeria outbreak linked to them, a dozen or so Blue Bell Ice Cream trucks were seen participating in a military convoy on Colorado roads as shared in the new videos below from DAHBOO777. We know from Bundy Ranch that the government uses vehicles such as the Budweiser truck seen in the image below to transport clandestine cargo. Why has Blue Bell suddenly gotten into the convoy business with the US military? Several rather disturbing possibilities are discussed below and the sudden timing of these events along with the unfolding of Jade Helm 15 in America leads us to believe that Blue Bell being shut down, forcing thousands to be laid off and furloughed, may be related to the closings of Wal Marts across America – simply, the US military needs what you have, and now. Blue Bell’s customer relations, reached at  979-836-7977, has totally danced around this subject when asked and in fact, has totally contradicted themselves with their explanation.


One theory that’s emerged is that these trucks are being used as ‘hidden in plain sight’ refrigerated morgues which can be used to carry bodies ‘out of sight out of mind’ and that theory ties right in with a recent disturbing email received by ANP just days ago in which we were warned that there is a very real possibility that US troops might soon have to kill American citizens. Back in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, the East Valley Tribune published a story called “New Orleans Left To The Dead And Dying” in which they tell us “the dying goes on – at the airport and an airport triage center where bodies are kept in a refrigerated truck”. A September 2014 story tells us that refrigerated trucks were used as portable morgues after 9/11.

“By the afternoon the school had been identified as a potential site for a temporary morgue. Refrigerated trucks were lining up outside, along Hudson Street.”

The precedent for use of these vehicles as portable out-of-site morgues has clearly been set.

With military exercises taking place across the country this summer and evidence that preparation is being made at the top for economic collapse, warnings have gone out that this could be a ‘summer of rage’ with more rioting across the country as the elite have contrived the perfect conditions for mass unrest across America.

While rare, listeria is the 3rd ranked cause of death from food poisoning in the United States and the fact that so many of these refrigerated Blue Bell trucks are taking part in a military convoy in Colorado with Jade Helm soon approaching is causing a lot of people to wonder ‘why,’. . .

[H]istory clearly tells us that these units can be used for nefarious purposes and, at this particular moment in time in the history of the United States, we should take nothing for granted. The question remains.:

Was that whole poisoning story a psy op done for the purpose of freeing up mobile refrigeration units (morgues) for the military’s Jade Helm 15 exercise, which targets Texas as hostile territory?

It’s only a question, not a claim. But if you watch the video below and you’re like me, it seems a little creepy to see so many ice cream trucks traveling with a military convoy.


The Iran Deal

Iran (on the one hand) and the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany (together with EU foreign policy chief)(on the other hand) finally reached an agreement to end the sanctions against Iran this morning after 22 months of intensive talks. As a result of the agreement sealed within the Islamic Republic’ outlined framework and red lines, the following achievements have been obtained in the field of nuclear and sanctions removal.

Under the accord, which runs almost 100 pages, Here are the main points:

Enrichment: Iran will reduce the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges it has from almost 20,000 to 6,104, and reduce the number of those in use from nearly 10,000 to half that. It also commits to using only its current models, rather than more advanced centrifuges it had wanted to install.

I think this is okay.  Critics might insist that Iran not have any centrifuges, but that’s unrealistic in the 21st century.  We should remember that Iran isn’t some back-desert country like Afghanistan.  It fact, it is much different that Iraq.  Look at Tehran — it could be any city in Europe or the U.S.


Stockpile: Iran committed to reducing its stockpile of enriched uranium from about five tons to 300 kilograms (less than 700 pounds) for 15 years. US officials say that at this level it would take Iran more than a year to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear weapon.

This is the issue where you are going to hear some of the deal critics just speak from a position of ignorance.  Both sides of the debate should listen to nuclear physicists on this issue.

Underground site: Iran committed to convert its Fordow enrichment site – dug deep into a mountainside and thought impervious to air attack – into a research center.

Presumably, we want the thing above-ground in case we have to bomb it.  I’m guessing.

Transparency: Iran will give more access to its nuclear program to the UN nuclear agency. If that agency identifies a suspicious site, an arbitration panel with a Western majority will decide whether Iran has to give the agency access within 24 days.

The inspection issue was something that the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had long vowed to oppose. So it is kind of a win.  But… access isn’t guaranteed and could be delayed, a condition that critics of the deal are sure to seize on as possibly giving Tehran time to cover up any illicit activity.  How?  Tehran would have the right to challenge the UN request and an arbitration board composed of Iran and the six world powers would then decide on the issue.   That would take time.

Reactors and reprocessing: Iran must redesign its nearly built reactor at Arak so it can’t produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.

That’s nice.

Sanctions: All US and European Union nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after experts have verified that Iran is hewing to its commitments. If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its obligations, those sanctions will snap back into place.  Iran agreed to the continuation of a UN arms embargo on the country for up to five more years, though it could end earlier if the International Atomic Energy Agency definitively clears Iran of any current work on nuclear weapons. A similar condition was put on UN restrictions on the transfer of ballistic missile technology to Tehran, which could last for up to eight more years, according to diplomats.

This was apparently a tough negotiation point.  Naturally, it was the reason Iran came to the table in the first place, so they HAD to get something.  Washington had sought to maintain the ban on Iran importing and exporting weapons, concerned that an Islamic Republic flush with cash from the nuclear deal would expand its military assistance for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other forces opposing America’s Mideast allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Iranian leaders insisted the embargo had to end as their forces combat regional scourges such as ISIS. And they got some support from China and particularly Russia, which wants to expand military cooperation and arms sales to Tehran, including the long-delayed transfer of S-300 advanced air defense systems – a move long opposed by the United States.

So when does all this happen?  The following is a summary the timeline for the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  There are no specific dates. It begins “upon conclusion of the negotiations”.

Finalization Day:

  • Iran and the major powers “endorse” the plan, known as JCPOA.
  • The “promptly” submit it to the United Nations Security Council for adoption “without delay”.
  • The European Union will “promptly” endorse the resulting United Nations Security Council resolution.
  • Iran and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will start developing arrangements to implement all transparency measures so that they are ready for Implementation Day.

Adoption Day:

  • Takes place 90 days after endorsement by the UN Security Council, or earlier by mutual consent of all the parties.
  • JCPOA participants will begin making necessary arrangements and preparations for the implementation of commitments.
  • Iran notifies IAEA that it will apply the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol (enhanced inspection regime) provisionally with effect from Implementation Day.
  • Iran starts implementing commitments relating to past nuclear activities.
  • EU will adopt a regulation lifting nuclear-related sanctions with effect from Implementation Day “simultaneously” with IAEA verification of agreed nuclear-related measures by Iran.
  • The president of the United States will issue sanctions waivers to take effect on Implementation Day.

Implementation Day:

  • Occurs when IAEA verifies Iran has complied with nuclear-related measures.
  • The EU suspends or terminates nuclear-related sanctions specified in Annex II of the JCPOA
  • The United States ceases application of nuclear-related sanctions specified in Annex II.
  • The United Nations terminates sanctions.

Transition Day:

  • Takes place eight years from Adoption Day, or earlier upon a report from the IAEA director-general stating the IAEA has reached a conclusion that all nuclear material in Iran remains for peaceful activities.
  • The EU terminates any remaining sanctions.
  • The United States terminates or modifies remaining sanctions including seeking necessary legislative changes.
  • Iran will ratify Additional Protocol on enhanced inspections.

Termination Day:

  • Takes place 10 years from Adoption Day provided no UN sanctions have been reinstated.
  • UN will pass resolution approving termination of JCPOA.
  • The UN Security Council “would no longer be seized of the Iran nuclear issue”, or close the file.

So now this is going to be all we talk about.  I’m already annoyed at the politicians who are demonizing the deal.  Some are saying we are “rewarding” Iran.  Well, yeah.  That’s what deals are.  They get something, we get something.  You have to be wary of those who are against the deal because they are against anything Obama does and/or they are against the idea of a deal at all.  Netanyahu, who has already called the deal an “historic mistake for the world”  falls into that latter category.  He thinks a deal (in this situation) is one where Iran loses and Isreal wins.  Netanyahu also states (correctly) that Israel is not bound by the deal.

Already the GOP candidates and pundits are giving over-the-top hyperbolic statements.  This reaction by Lindsey Graham is hysterical and bizarre:

“Iran Deal ‘Akin to Declaring War’ on Israel’”

Yeah, it’s just like that. Except for the “declaring war” part.

Mike Huckabee says:

”Shame on the Obama administration for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to ‘wipe Israel off the map’ and bring ‘death to America.'”

He’s Mr. Happy Fun Guy.

Scott Johnson of the PowerTools calls it…

Munich for our time...”

….but of course he would say that if President Obama deigned to accept Pepsi in lieu of Coke.

I am not saying I support the deal.  Like many Democrats, I am wary [UPDATE: Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of the deal is “cautious“].  But I think the thing to remember is… we can always go back to the way it is now.  Heck, we can always bomb if we have to.  This is, I’m sure, the best we can get, and I think we’re better off just trying it.

Have I Underestimated Trump?

I’ve written a little about The Donald’s antics, but not as much as others.  And that’s mainly because I have a very strong belief that his ride at the top of the polls is an aberration.  I remember in the 2012 election when every GOP candidate was, at some point, at the top of the polls.  During the Iowa caucus, it was Michele Bachmann, who turned to nobody’s surprise to be a huge washout.

I’m a little surprised, however, at how much airplay Trump is getting over MSNBC, CNN, and Fox.  And they often bring on very serious political analysts who say that Trump really is a factor.

Yes, Donald Trump is excelling. Thanks to his celebrity, a few epic flip-flops, and his willingness to pander to the most xenophobic element of the GOP’s base, the real-estate developer and reality-TV star is polling great.  But will he win the nomination?  No.

Being on top in a field of 17 (or so) is nice, but he’s not over 20% in any poll.  And I would suggest that the other 80% of likely voters in the GOP race are pretty rabid anti-trump.  He certainly won’t win the general with his views.  And he won’t win the GOP.  But he will get a lot of cameras turned toward him.  And the longer he does he will tarnish the GOP brand.

His popularity is so high, I propose, for two reasons: (1) his xenophobia (a polite way to say “racism”) appeals to the racist, er, xenophobic wing of the GOP; and (2) his combativeness with the mainstream media appeals to a broader cadre of conservatives.  But he’s got the support of Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, and that means he is not going to go away as fast as, say, 2012 Michele Bachmann,

This, in case anyone has any doubt, is GOOD news for the Democrats.  Trump is a gift to Hillary, especially when it comes to the Latino vote. And rather than douse the flames of anti-Mexicam rhetoric, he pours gas on it.  Just take the past 24 hours, following the escape of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who escaped from prison again this weekend on motorbike through a tunnel dug to his shower stall.

And so there it is.

Yes, Trump gets ratingm but it’s a loooong election season.  I think the media enjoys raising Trump up (and speculating that he’ll run as a third party candidate because of his ego) for the simple reason that it doesn’t MATTER right now.  Iowa doesn’t matter.  New Hampshire matters only a bit more.  Love him, or love to hate him… we might as enjoy Trump while he is around… because I maintain that he won’t be around much after South Carolina.

And Now Scott Walker

And I think that’s it.  With Scott Walker’s entry this morning, all the major candidates and more than a few minor ones are in the GOP race for President.  All the hats are thrown in the ring.  All the clowns are in the car.

What is it — 17?

Walker could be a contender.  He’s not very dynamic, which means the more colorful candidates could drown him out before he can build momentum.  He needs to stick around long enough for the herd to thin out of the nutbars, and then hit his stride.  He should be able to do that because he’s got a solid résumé as a small-government conservative. His social-conservative credentials are also strong, but without the culture-warrior baggage that sometimes brings. And Walker has won three difficult elections in a blue-ish state.  Plus — and perhaps most importantly — he’s reputed to be a favorite of the Kochs.

And not for nothing, but his campaign website has a good “missing page” webpage.

Greece Caves

greece-financial-crisis-cartoonWell, so much for those Greek folks vote.  And so much for challenging the austerity measures

After a marathon of negotiations last night, Greece agreed to asked-for reforms and a pledge to strap itself in a fiscal straitjacket to save its banks and stay in the euro.  Germany was the hard-liner that did not budge an each.  The deal worked out in Brussels requires approval from several European parliaments.

The Dow opened 150 points higher on the news.  Here’s the deal:

What Greece must do

  • By Wednesday, Greece’s ruling party, Syriza, must pass a host of policy changes as a show of good faith. Those include cuts to public pensions and sales tax increases demanded by Europe to increase Greek budget surpluses.
  • Then, over the following days and weeks, it must take other steps to modernize its economy, such as introducing fresh competition to a host of industries from bakeries to drug stores, privatization of the state’s power company and changes to labor laws that would would loosen the power of labor unions and make it easier for companies to fire workers.
  • Greece must also contribute 50 billion euros of privatized assets — such as state-owned companies — to a fund that will help Greece pay off its debt. A quarter of this fund could be used as a domestic economic stimulus, which could grow the economy and generate additional raise tax revenues for debt repayment. (1 euro buys $1.11.)

What Europe will do 

  • In coming days, Europe will advance a loan of 10 billion euros to help Greece make a 3.5 billion euro payment due to the International Monetary Fund on July 20 and keep its banking system alive. Germany will vote on the agreement as soon as Friday.
  • This is not part of the formal agreement, but it’s widely assumed that the European Central Bank, which has been funding Greek banks with emergency loans, will continue that help in light of the deal.
  • After Greece passes initial reforms, Greece will receive up to 77 billion more euros over three years. About a third of that will be used to strengthen its banking system, which has been shut down for two weeks amid rapidly declining deposits.
  • Europe will also commit to review Greece’s total debt burden, potentially giving the country more time to pay it back. But Greece will not get the reduction in face value of the debt that it has asked for.

In other words, Greece is going to try to grow its economy by firing workers and modernizing companies so that workers won’t be needed.  And with heightened unemployment and a strain on social services (if any), Greece’s tax base will…. uh…. grow?  No.  This is stupid.

Of course, the euro is stupid.  When you have 20 or so countries, each with different economic needs, sharing a single monetary policy but not a unified fiscal policy, this is bound to happen.  At any given time, money gets to be either be too tight or too loose for some EU members, and there wouldn’t be anything — like unemployment insurance — to balance it out. The euro, in other words, is a paper monument to peace and prosperity that has made the latter impossible for some countries.

None more so than Greece.

For us here in the U.S., assuming the Greek crisis is over, we can now turn our attention to China which, as I recently noted, is in some serious shit.

RIP: Roger Rees

He was 81.  Became well-known after starring in the epic stage production of  “The Life and Times of Nicolas Nickleby”.  He was also Lord John Marbury in “The West Wing”.  I saw him many years ago in.London in “The Real Thing”.  A phenomenal actor and a huge loss.

RIP Confederate Flag (In South Carolina)

After a contentious and often emotional debate in the SC House, with a lot of political wrangling (and attachments of bill-killing amendments, all of which failed), Governor Nikki Haley signed the bill yesterday, and the flag came down today

Well, that only took 5+ decades.

Here in North Carolina, they took down the Confederate flag from inside the state capitol building after complaints from civil rights leaders…. back in April 2013.  There wasn’t a lot of hullabaloo about it.  A couple of weeks ago, the NC Governor urged the legislature to pass a law to end the official designation of “civic club” for the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization and to stop issuing plates with the C.S. flag emblazoned on them.

But as of now, you can still get a license plate with the confederate flag on it.  Well, not RIGHT now.  There’s been a rush in the past couple weeks and the DMV is sold out (for the moment).

And there are other movements in other Southern states.


Gov. Robert Bentley ordered that four Confederate flags be removed from a monument on the state’s capitol grounds last week — a move that came after a Democratic lawmaker filed a bill that would have done just that.

But 1,000 flag supporters rallied at the Statehouse on Saturday, flying hundreds of Confederate flags and claiming its removal is an affront to their southern heritage.


Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration late last week halted the use of specialty license plates created by the state for the Sons of Confederate Veterans that featured the Confederate flag.


State House Speaker Philip Gunn said last week that the state’s current flag — which features the Confederate stars and stripes in its upper left corner — should be changed. But Mississippi voted in a 2001 referendum to keep the Confederate flag in place as part of its state flag. Lawmakers are unlikely to change it until a new legislative session begins in January.


Gov. Bill Haslam has said the Confederate flag should be removed from Tennessee’s Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plates. But proposals to end the specialty plates, at least, won’t be discussed until the state legislature meets again early next year.

Haslam has also called for the state to remove a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Ku Klux Klan founder and slave trader, from the Capitol.


Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered an end to Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plates that, like Georgia’s and Tennessee’s, featured the Confederate emblem.

RIP Omar Sharif

He just died from a heat attack.  He was 83.  “Doctor Zhivago” and “Lawrence of Arabia”.  Not to be confused with Maximillian Schell, who is still very much alive [UPDATE: no, he’s not] and did “Judgment at Nuremberg” and “Deep Impact”.

The Staten Island Ferris Wheel

It’s something everyone should do at least once in their life.  If they can.  And that’s… take the ferry out to Staten Island.

I’ve done that a few times.  You get on in lower Manhattan and go out to Staten Island and see the harbor, Statue of Liberty, etc.  It’s a nice way to kill an hour.

The problem is this: once you are in Staten Island, there’s not a lot to do (plus you have no means of transportation other than cabs).  So most people turn around and get on the ferry right back to Manhattan.  Which is nice.

But the governing bodies of Staten Island think they’ve got a way to get you to stay out there… and it’s a good one.

A big wheel:

Or, more precisely, a 630-foot-tall one that would become the world’s largest Ferris wheel.

It is the city’s latest and arguably most ambitious, if not audacious, attempt to draw tourists to Staten Island. Workers have begun laying the foundation for the wheel, which will carry as many as 1,440 riders at a time and will be visible across New York Harbor.

New-York-Wheel5 ferriswheel3

I like it.

Are We Under Cyberattack?

Imma just tell this story in Tweets

So United went down (It went up after 2 hours), and NYSE went down (it went up after 3 hours).  Also down (and now back up) today, the Wall Street Journal computers.


Many think this is a Chinese government hacking attack.  First of all, China is in some serious shit:

While most recent financial news has focused on the crisis currently facing Greece, another disaster is stirring further east that makes Alexis Tsipras’s problems look like chicken feed.

Since the middle of June, the prices of Chinese company shares have fallen by 30 per cent. That amounts to around $3.2 trillion dollars that has been wiped off the stock market in only a few weeks.

It’s hard to make sense of such a huge number, but this figure is higher than the UK’s GDP in 2013, a comparatively modest $2.7 trillion.

The sudden drop in prices came after months of solid growth. Since November last year, Chinese stocks had more than doubled, largely due to small retail investors – ‘mum and dad’ investors playing the stock market – using borrowed money.

There are concerns that the Chinese government’s response could be partially responsible for the sell-off.

Which is why the Asian markets did so bad yesterday.  Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index plunged as much as 8% before closing down 5.8% and China’s Shanghai Composite sank 5.9%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 3.1% to close at 19,737.64.  That’s what was facing Wall Street as it opened today.  (As I write this, the now-reopened Dow is down 238 points today).

But the theory that China might be behind these computer outages today could be supported by data from the Norse Intelligence Network,  a California-based online security company. The company offers up a real-time cyber attack map, which seemed to show at midday on Wednesday that China was the number-one attacker and the US was the number-one target:


I don’t know if this is usual or not.  But it looks like St. Louis is getting bombarded.

To be continued…..?

What The Judge Got Wrong (And Right) On Bill Cosby

That was a real tweet from a fictional person complaining about yesterday’s big story: Greece China The Presidential Election Bill Cosby.

It’s all that the news outlets talked about:

(CNN) Bill Cosby has admitted to getting prescription Quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with, newly released documents show.

The documents, dating back to 2005, stem from a civil lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand — one of the dozens of women who have publicly accused the comedian of sexual assault. The records were made public Monday after The Associated Press went to court to compel their release.

I cosbysweatthought it was old news, to be honest.  With four dozen women making these claims?  Who didn’t think he was a rapist?  I mean, even if you assume (as I do) that some of these women are just hopping on the bandwagon and making up things just to get some money… it doesn’t erase the fact that… well, there’s a friggin bandwagon of women who have the same allegations.  Of course there’s truth there.  The question hasn’t been whether Cosby is guilty of rape; the question is how many.

I’ve never been a Cosby fan, but I certainly had nothing against him.  And when the rumors first came out, I, like most people, remained neutral (and a little saddened) by the allegations.  But at some point, it reached a critical mass, and like everyone (or so I thought), I was very saddened and disgusted.  Although… as it turns out… apparently, Cosby still had his defenders.  I wasn’t aware of that.  Hopefully, they have all shut up now.

Anyway, the reason we know about Cosby — and I mean, really know — is because a sealed deposition was made public by a judge in response to a motion by the Associated Press.  And unsealing a sealed deposition, that is very unusual.  And troubling.

There are many reasons why sealed court records (and depositions) are good things that serve a public purpose.  For one thing, they allow court cases to settle.  That unclogs the courts by quite a bit.  So having things sealed from the public encourages litigants to settle their cases rather than fight it out at taxpayer expense.

Sealed court records and depositions also allow people to continue with their lives, giving them second chances.  A good example of this is the teenage drunk driver or drug user.  Many times, after serving their “time” (community service or whatever), records of their arrest and conviction are sealed so that it won’t dog them forever.  I think society is best served by this kind of compassion.

So the practice of sealing records is a good thing.  But it only works if people believe that when something is sealed, it STAYS sealed.  I mean, if sealing a record gets me to settle a lawsuit, why would I settle if I believed that some court could come along years later and UNseal it?  For that reason, it is (and should be) a high bar for a court to come along and unseal a record.

With this in mind, I read the opinion and other documents relating to the sealed record (these documents are attached to this post, under the fold)….

… and I think the judge erred in some respects.

Essentially, the media has been reporting that the judge allowed the deposition to be unsealed because Cosby was a hypocrite — his public persona as a moralist is contradicted by his testimony in which he essentially admits to giving Quaaludes to women in order to rape them.  No, I thought to myself, if only because I believe that people are neither all “white” nor all “black”.  They are not entirely villains or entirely heroes.  Very good people can do some very VERY bad things.  We are ALL contradictions.  Hopefully our “bad” is not as bad as Cosby’s.  But the judge didn’t do it because Cosby had been bad.  He did it because Cosby was being contradictory in his “persona”.

Now, I’ve heard the phrase “Hitler liked dogs and children” as a way to say, “Well if the bad outweighs the good, what difference does it make?”  And I hear that.  I don’t think that whatever good Bill Cosby did — his charity, his work in children’s education, etc. — outweighs his crimes.  I’m just saying that he’s not a hypocrite for being both GOOD and BAD; he’s human. I’m saying we shouldn’t change the legal burden for unsealing depositions simply because he’s moral in some ways and immoral (to say the least) in other ways.

I’m not the only one to think this.  Smerconish covered this as well, and here the results of his poll are at the right.Smerconish

Let me be clear lest anything think I am a Cosby defender:  The judge said that the interests of the Associated Press outweighed the privacy interests of Cosby — but NOT because Cosby was famous, and NOT because he was guilty of rape (in fact, the judge said that Cosby is innocent until proven otherwise)…. but because Cosby was being inconsistent with his morality.  That’s the core reason why Cosby was not entitled to have the deposition stay sealed.

And I am asking the reader to THINK about that reasoning behind the decision, separate and apart from the facts (and grotesque-ness) of Bill Cosby: Should a person’s privacy be invaded by the courts because that person is “morally inconsistent”?  Because that is the precedent of this decision.  And that principle, applied elsewhere (applied to YOU, dear reader) should be troubling.

Fortunately, the judge considered other factors.  And fortunately, on those factors, I think the court got it right.  For one thing, the court noted that the deposition, which was 10 years old, was under interim seal.  The court said (correctly in my view), that if Cosby was soooooo worried about his private statements in the deposition, he would have made a motion to make sure the deposition was permanently sealed a long time ago.  But Cosby and his lawyers didn’t.

So I’m okay with the outcome, although only partially okay with the rationale.

In the end, Cosby is toast and that’s the most important thing.  The truth will out, one way or another.  And once again, we are having the much needed conversation about rape.  Sadly, it doesn’t sink in.  I actually heard Gloria Allred on CNN yesterday woman-splaining to Wolf Blitzer in an annoyed voice (I’m paraphrasing): “And guess what, Wolf?  Even if a woman says yes, and then later on passes out for ANY reason, it is NOT consent and therefore it is rape!”.  And I shook my head.  Of course Allred was annoyed — here we are in the 21st century, and people STILL have to be told these things, and it blows my mind.

Rand Paul on Taxes and Slavery

Rand Paul recently spoke in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and to draw a line from taxes to slavery:

“Now you can have some government, we all need government,” the Kentucky senator said while discussing Thomas Paine and the role of government at the local public library. “Thomas Paine said that government is a necessary evil. What did he mean by that?”Paul said he believes that “you have to give up some of your liberty to have government,” saying he was “for some government.”

“I’m for paying some taxes,” continued Paul. “But if we tax you at 100% then you’ve got zero percent liberty. If we tax you at 50% you are half slave, half free. I frankly would like to see you a little freer and a little more money remaining in your communities so you can create jobs. It’s a debate we need to have.”


Slaves sitting around and complaining about their high tax rate.

Slaves sitting around and complaining about their high tax rate.

Greeks Vote “No” — Now What?

greece-financial-crisis-cartoonThe economic crisis in Greece is a pretty serious thing. And pretty easy to summarize if you haven’t been following it.

Greece is part of the European Union, meaning that its monetary unit is the same as that of all the other European countries.  Therefore, its economy is tied to theirs and (more importantly) vice versa.  To join the EU, a country has to show — among other things — that it is economically robust and doesn’t run a deficit greater than 3% of its GDP.  It’s now universally agreed that when Greece joined the EU back in 2001, it has essentially cooked its books.

The global depression that every country experienced hit Greece especially hard.  Over the past five years, Greece has borrowed €340bn from the EU and other international bodies.  To afford the debt repayments, Greece made huge cuts, leaving many impoverished.  When you lay off lots of government workers (as one of the many austerity measures that Greece did), you have less people paying taxes to the government.  And then the government is more unable to pay off debts.

In February, a fed-up population elected the left-wing Syriza party.  As Greece lagged on repayments, they were told to make more cuts, or lose aid. The Syriza government refused.  Then, on Sunday, the Greek people were asked if they rejected all the conditions tied to financial aid.  They Greeks voted a resounding “no”.  The big problem now is Greek banks are running out of money.

While Greece has some work ahead of it, I support the “no” vote.  Nameless faceless bankers should not condition future loans on the elimination of safety nets that exist to protect those who are least able to survive financial disadvantage.  Basically, the central bankers support hope to promotes balance Greece’s budgets on the backs of the unemployed, the poor, the mentally ill and the marginalized.

Greece needs Europe, and Europe needs Greece and everybody knows it.  They’ll work out some sort of deal, simply because all parties know they have to.  Hopefully, it will country leaders, and not bankers, calling the shots.

Crazy Women’s Soccer Finals As US Scores 4 Goals In The First 20 Minutes

Ultimately, the US won 5-2 against Japan in a lop-sided game.  Highlights here.

One would hope this would generate an interest in women’s team sports, but I highly doubt it.  But The US Women’s World Cup match on Sunday was the most-watched soccer game in the history of the United States. According to the NYT article linked above, more Americans watched Sunday’s game than watched the Stanley Cup final, Game 7 of the World Series between the Royals and Giants or the NBA championship final.

The victorious US women’s team will collect $2 million from FIFA. The men’s teams that lost in the first round (including the US men’s team) received $8 million from FIFA. The 2014 Men’s World Cup winner, Germany, received $35 million.

And Then There Were 8

I’ve got to just put a counter on the right hand column:

SURF CITY, N.C. — A North Carolina hospital confirmed Monday there has been another shark bite along the North Carolina coast — the eighth bite along the coast in less than a month.

A spokesman for the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune told WITN News a shark bite victim was brought into the hospital on Saturday.

The official said the bite happened in Surf City and the male victim was treated and released from the hospital. It is not known if the victim is a member of the military.

Taiwan TransAsia ATR-72: Pilot Error Combined With Engine Flameout

The crash was horrific, although remarkable, some survived.  But this pilot…. oy:

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The captain of a TransAsia Airways plane mistakenly switched off its only working engine seconds before it crashed in February, killing 43 people, according to Taiwan’s Aviation Safety Council.

The ASC’s latest report also showed that Captain Liao Jian-zong, who was at the controls, had failed simulator training in May 2014, in part because he had insufficient knowledge of how to deal with an engine flame-out on take-off.

“Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle,” Liao, 41, was heard to say on voice recordings seconds before the crash.

There appeared to be confusion in the cockpit as the two captains tried to regain control of the plane after the other engine lost power about three minutes into the doomed flight.

Liao reduced the throttle on the working engine but did not appear to realize his mistake until it was too late.

He tried to restart the engine before a junior first officer, who was also in the cockpit as part of his training, said: “Impact, impact, brace for impact.”

Those chilling words were the last heard on the data recordings, according to the latest report of the ASC’s investigation into the Feb. 4 crash in clear weather.

Taiwan has some serious pilot training issues.

Classic Films, as Understood by Drones


“12 Angry Men” (1957): A courthouse roof.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930): A conceptual triumph, it quickly becomes clear from above that there is actually heavy fighting on the Western front.

“Lawrence of Arabia” (1962): An actor who is most likely Peter O’Toole plays a suspected enemy combatant travelling across the Arabian Peninsula, assuming disguises and accruing armed associates.

“Airplane!” (1980): In this zany comedy, a commercial aircraft charts a normal flight path, exhibits some erratic movement upon descent, and lands safely.

“Hoosiers” (1986): A man, believed to be the actor Gene Hackman, is at the center of this eerie mystery set in the heart of Middle America, where unknown activities in school gymnasia are causing celebrations among locals.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975): In the opening scenes of this situational comedy, a man (Jack Nicholson?) enters a large building. Later, a different man leaves.

“Speed” (1994): After a passenger bus violates several traffic ordinances, it is hijacked by Keanu Reeves, drawing attention from police.

“Gravity” (2013): Sandra Bullock was nominated for an Academy Award for this solo performance as a woman emerging from a lake.

“Finding Nemo” (2003): A masterpiece of austere art-house filmmaking, this movie is a single tracking surveillance shot of the Pacific Ocean’s surface, concluding at a nondescript building, at 42 Wallaby Way in Sydney, Australia.

“Annie Hall” (1977): Two individuals, suspected to be Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, draw scrutiny following an erratic series of rendezvous in multiple urban centers.

“Rocky” (1976): In this tale of perseverance, a distinctive-looking man suffers grievous bodily harm as he runs up stairs, visits a butcher shop, and goes to the pet store.

“Citizenfour” (2014): In this global search mission, a treasonous American spying for Russia infiltrates the American intelligence community and steals a trove of classified national-security documents. He gives them to America’s enemies, as well as to reckless journalists, greatly endangering millions of innocent American lives.

“The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (1974): A normal day in New York City.

Roof’s Sister Asks For Donations

From a Charlotte TV station:

The sister of the suspected Charleston church shooter, Dylann Roof, is asking the public for donations — but not for her brother.

In a “Go Fund Me” post, Amber Roof is asking for $5,000 to pay for her and her fiance’s wedding, which was originally scheduled for June 21.

They canceled the wedding after her brother was accused of the shooting at Emanuel AME church just three days earlier.

In a post on the Go Fund Me page, Amber said canceling the ceremony cost them thousands of dollars and brought sorrow, pain and shame to her wedding day.

“Our wedding day was suppose to be the most important and special day of our lives. It was suppose to start our lives together with our new family. Our day was the exact opposite. Our wedding day was full of sorrow, pain, and shame, tainted by the actions of one man,” Amber said in the post.

Amber said she will donate 10 percent of the money raised to Emanuel AME.

So far, the couple has not rescheduled their wedding.

Must suck to be the sister of a racist mass murderer.  She seems to disavow her brother, referring to him as “one man”.

And it is nice the she intends to donate some of the money to the church.

Anyway, if you click on the link, the GoFundMe page is gone.  But here is a screenshot someone obtained before it was taken down.


I just hope she wasn’t bombarded with hateful messages.  On the other hand, maybe the whole thing was a scam.  Or maybe some nice person came alone and offered to pay for the wedding.  In any event, if the comments on this Facebook page are any indication, people are coming down pretty hard on her.

South Carolina Copycat Sharks

With seven confirmed shark attacks so far this summer, this really is the Summer of the Shark for North Carolina.

Now South Carolina is getting into the game:

shark-injury-bloodyA young boy visiting the Lowcountry from Utah was bitten by a shark off Isle of Palms Tuesday.

Kysen Weakley, 12, tells News 2 around 6 p.m., he was playing with a younger cousin in knee-deep water at IOP Park when he felt something bite his leg. According to Kysen’s mother, the shark wrapped its mouth around his leg and let go immediately. Kysen then took his cousin and rushed out of the water.

“I felt a prick in my leg.  I like turned around and saw the sharks fin like swimming away.” Kysen said.


Don’t Fear The Donald

As I noted yesterday, Donald Trump has escaped the GOP herd and shot up to second place in the polls as GOP 2016 presidential nominee.  This is largely due, everyone assumes, to his “straight talk” about how Mexicans and/or immigrants are criminals and rapists (although Trump “assumes” there are good ones as well).

Those words were spoken at Trump’s presidential bid announcement last week, and since then… Univision has said that would not air or participate in the Miss USA pageant (A Trump thing), NBC has refused to show Miss USA or other Trump-related shows (it will continue to air “Celebrity Apprentice” but without Trump, who was leaving anyway), Macy’s announced it will drop its Trump-related clothing line, and just moments ago, Serta (the mattress people) said they will stop selling Trump home-products (which nobody knew about anyway).

But as I say, Trump has gone up in the polls.  In Iowa, Trump is tied with Ben Carson for second place behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 10 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday. In New Hampshire, a CNN-WMUR poll last week had Trump in second place behind former Florida governor Jeb Bush with 11 percent. Trump also came in second behind Bush in a new national CNN-ORC poll released yesterday.

Democrats are popping champagne of course.  There is nothing better than having Trump as the face of the Republican party.  And he’s helping my sticking to his remarks.  “I like Mexico. I love the Mexican people. I do business with the Mexican people, but you have people coming through the border that are from all over. And they’re bad. They’re really bad,” Trump said last weekend on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “You have people coming in, and I’m not just saying Mexicans, I’m talking about people that are from all over that are killers and rapists, and they’re coming into this country.”

Nobody is quicker to tie Trump to the GOP than Hillary Clinton. She does not mention Trump by name — perhaps hoping to associate his views with the other 15 declared or likely GOP candidates.  “Recently a Republican candidate for president described immigrants as drug dealers, rapists and criminals,” Clinton told a raucous rally in Northern Virginia last week. “Maybe he’s never met them. Maybe he’s never stopped to ask the millions of people who love this country, work hard, and want nothing more than a chance to build a better life for themselves and their children what their lives are like.”

I don’t think that fools anybody.  Everybody knows that Trump said it.  But it hurts other candidates in two ways:

(1)  It cements the Republican Party as anti-immigrant and anti-Latino.  As even Romney realized, if you don’t reach out to Latinos, the fastest growing demographic, you lose.  And if Trump is surging in the polls from his racism, then it brands the whole party as racists.  Perhaps Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro — a descendant of Mexican immigrants seen as rising star in his party — said it best in a recent interview: Trump was “plainly insulting Mexicans… He will be in this campaign in many ways the face of the Republican Party, because he has higher name [identification] than almost all of them.”

(2)  The silence from the other GOP candidates will hurt each of them specifically in the general election.  Only Chris Christie and former Governor Pataki (polling dead last) have criticized Trump for his comments.  Other candidates are avoiding the question altogether, or waffling, or even supporting Trump.(Ted Cruz, the presidential candidate and tea party favorite, said this week that Trump was “terrific”and that he should not apologize because he “speaks the truth.”)

Trump will not be a candidate for President.  Like Michele Bachmann in 2012, he’s enjoying a very early leap in the polls.  Also, like in 2012, I suspect many of the candidates will enjoy a brief moment in the sun before the drop out.  This is Trump’s.  But if it were up to Democrats, his moment in the GOP would last forever and ever.  He’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Ave Maria

Ouch. Maria is leaving Sesame Street.

mariaIn the early 1970s, Sonia Manzano showed up to an audition on New York City’s Upper West Side, wearing a simple dress and “some cheap Indian sandals.”

Manzano, then a 22-year-old drama student at Carnegie Mellon University, was asked to play a game that would one day become known by its lyrics: “One of these things is not like the others.” She walked away with a job — playing Maria on PBS’s children’s TV show “Sesame Street.”

Forty-four years later, and she’s leaving.  That’s an incredible run.

Airlines Colluding? I Bet They Are!

Because of bankruptcies and mega-mergers over the past decade, the United States has gone from nine major airlines to four — Delta, Southwest, American and United — and those four fly about 80 percent of all domestic passengers.  So 14 years after the 9/11 attacks nearly drowned the airline industry in red ink, the limited competition has helped airlines post some of their biggest profits in history.  American, for example, which just merged with US Airlines, just logged $1.2 billion in profit, its most profitable three months ever.

I don’t begrudge these guys making a profit, but with only four airlines, it becomes very easy to collude.  They have a joint interest in keeping capacity tight, which they can now do, and keep prices up.  And it is fairly easy to “signal” each other of their intentions.

So this is a welcome development:

The U.S. government is investigating possible collusion between major airlines to limit available seats, which keeps airfares high, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

The civil antitrust investigation by the Justice Department appears to focus on whether airlines illegally signaled to each other how quickly they would add new flights, routes and extra seats.

A letter received Tuesday by major U.S. carriers demands copies of all communications the airlines had with each other, Wall Street analysts and major shareholders about their plans for passenger-carrying capacity.

Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce confirmed Wednesday that the department was investigating potential “unlawful coordination” among some airlines. She declined to comment further, including about which airlines are being investigated.

Thanks to a series of mergers starting in 2008, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United now control more than 80 percent of the seats in the domestic travel market. During that period, they have eliminated unprofitable flights, filled a higher percentage of seats on planes and made a very public effort to slow growth in order to command higher airfares.

It worked. The average domestic airfare rose 13 percent from 2009 to 2014, when adjusted for inflation, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. And that doesn’t include the billions of dollars airlines collect from new fees: $25 each way to check a bag and $200 to change a domestic reservation. During the past 12 months, theairlines took in $3.6 billion in bag fees and another $3 billion in reservation change fees.

All of that has led to record profits for the industry. In the past two years, U.S. airlines earned a combined $19.7 billion.

Get ’em!

No Shooting At Washington Navy Yard

Also no shootings at the White House, Capital, Pentagon, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, or the Smithsonian.

Yes, the nation is at Threat Level Bravo because of the fear that ISIS-inspired lone wolf terrorists may blow things up during our Fourth Of July, and the commentators in the news are saying that it is a good thing that dozens of federal, state and city law enforcement agencies descended on the Washington Navy Yard to respond to a tweet (maybe, or maybe a rumor of a tweet) that there were gunshots fired.

But nothing happened.

Look, I don’t want to rain on anybody’s Threat Level Bravo Parade, but it is the Fourth of July weekend, and there are going to be lots of things that sound a lot like gunshots fired everywhere  They’re called firecrackers.  I agree we should be diligent (if you see something, say something), but let’s take a breathe, shall we?

Laura Bassett Pulls A Bill Buckner

There’s not good video of this because of copyright blah blah blah; this Vine will have to do.

England’s Women’s World Cup dream concluded in the cruellest fashion with England defender Laura Bassett’s stoppage time own goal.  Bassett was in tears after slicing an intended clearance into her own net.  England had been holding their own against a very strong and dominant Japan.  Obviously, she was devastated.


But the nice news is that she got TONS of support.  #ProudofBassett trended hugely on Twitter.

(She probably still feels terrible though)

Down The Street From Me…. Murder Most Foul!

Oh my:

As a result of a joint investigation between the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the WSPD, along with the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office, investigators have charged two Pfafftown residents after finding human remains in their back yard.

During the course of a WSPD Missing Person investigation, information was obtained that led Investigators to a home located at 3555 Brookbank Drive. On June 26 authorities executed a search warrant on the house and investigators discovered human remains. The North Carolina State University Forensic Anthropology Unit and the Medical Examiner’s Office from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center assisted in the examination of remains before they were removed from the scene.

The human remains are currently being evaluated and Investigators are awaiting a positive identification as of this writing. Authorities have indicated that they have an idea of who the remains are, but will not be releasing that information pending a positive identification.

Upon presentation and review of the evidence collected thus far to the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office issued Warrants for Arrest for felonious Destruction of Body/Remains Concealment of Death, NCGS 14-401.22(E), were issued for 34 year-old Jason Michael Mitchell and 48 year-old Mary Utleye Mitchell.

I actually know a Jason Mitchell (but not a Mary Mitchell), but I don’t think he is 34 and he doesn’t live in Pfafftown.

Oh, yeah.  Not him.  There’s pictures accompanying the article.