Thursday, February 21, 2019

Happy Hour Thread


How Many People Are Scared To Pull Open This Curtain

Sadly I think it's a lot.

A judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors — among them, U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta — broke federal law when they signed a plea agreement with a wealthy, politically connected sex trafficker and concealed it from more than 30 of his underage victims.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra, in a 33-page opinion, said that the evidence he reviewed showed that Jeffrey Epstein had been operating an international sex operation in which he and others recruited underage girls — not only in Florida — but from overseas, in violation of federal law.

“Epstein used paid employees to find and bring minor girls to him.,’’ wrote Marra, who is based in Palm Beach County. “Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.’’


How'd That Happen

In our our weird modern era of social media, I have mixed feelings about potential employers dumpster diving through your web presence to see what you do on your off time, but I think an exception can be made for the social media of the person you're hiring to do your social media.

The Old White Duke

1971. You know, before some of us thought white supremacy was bad.

SHH Don't Tell Anyone About The Nazi Terrorist

As far as I can tell, Seamus Hughes unearthed these court filings but otherwise the Justice Department has been quiet about this.

A Tuesday court filing in a Maryland district court alleges that a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant had ties to white supremacist contacts, a weapons stockpile, and a hit list of political and media figures ranging from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to Nancy Pelosi to the Democratic Socialists of America.

The lieutenant, Christopher Paul Hassan, was assigned to Coast Guard headquarters in D.C. when he was arrested last week in Silver Spring, MD. But in making the case that he should be held until his trial, U.S. attorneys alleged Hassan had written a draft letter to a well-known neo-Nazi leader weeks after the attack in Charlottesville and another draft in which he wrote, “I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.”

Actually Going To Websites Is An Unpleasant Experience

And after years of that, I don't do it very much. Of course #notallwebsites, but most of the big ones. Even the ones that don't bombard you with browser choking text covering ads take forever to load, and since they are larded up with javascript etc., it isn't like the "old days" when you could scroll through a website as it was loading. If you don't wait the 30 seconds or more for it to load fully, it's going to be jumping around all over the place as you try to read it.

The Kids Today aren't even going to know what a browser is soon, or it'll be like "that thing that lets me read wikipedia," because everyone is trying to kill off "the internet" as it once was.

The Halifax Examiner Does It Again!

How an arms deal went wrong. Said deal involved South Africa still under apartheid, Portugal, France, and Nova Scotia in Canada. Oh my! My first thought on reading this in-depth investigative report was: Why is it up to a tiny publication in Halifax to investigate and report on an international, high stakes arms deal? My second thought: Thank goodness we have someone like Tim Bousquet willing and able to do so. We need more of this kind of investigative journalism and if the big, corporate news outfits won't do it, then it is up to us to support the independent news outlets that do. Please consider subscribing to Tim's newsletter, The Halifax Examiner  so that this kind of reporting can continue.

Morning Thread

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

America's Worst Editorial Board

The New York Times.

Though this is a pretty common way of operating for big city editorial board past and present. Pretend to be on the side of the hippies, unless the hippies might actually win, and then find a way to disagree with and distance themselves from the hippies.

Happy Hour Thread

Get happy.

Oh, Elon

Never tweet.

In the past 24 hours, Tesla has treated us to more of the same. Yesterday afternoon, Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla would produce 500,000 cars in 2019, which would have been a significant increase in forecast from the 400,000 deliveries mentioned by Musk on January 30th in the company’s fourth quarter shareholder letter. Musk quickly clarified that he “meant to say” Tesla would be producing at an annualized rate of 500,000 cars per year by the end of 2019, which is a huge difference, obviously amounting to 100,000 cars.

This morning, the market received the news that Tesla's general counsel, Dane Butswinkas, would be leaving the company after only two months on the job.

If I Gotta Go, The Planet's Gonna Go With Me

I certainly don't think all people think this way, but it's enough of a trope that a scary number of people might.

America's Worst Newspaper

The New York Times.

Nice Things

We're a rich country and we can afford a lot of them. We just choose not to. There isn't actually a tradeoff. There is no deal such that we can choose "free public college" OR universal pre-K/daycare. Neither are actually that expensive relative to the amount going through the money bazookas to things like combat planes that can't fly in the rain and welfare for rich people. Butwhatboutthis is a dumb game to play. We can afford it all, and if the #3 priority looks like it is going to make it across the finish line before the #1 priority, probably best not to try to kneecap #3.

Republicans Aren't Supergeniuses

One sad thing is that many Democrats really believe they are. Even when Karl Rove ran the show, they weren't. John Kerry almost won, which is a fact everyone forgets and pretty amazing given everything, including campaign coverage, that was going on in 2004. And really they're just getting stupider. They've gone from thinking Rush Limbaugh was good to keep the rubes riled up, to being the rubes that listened to Rush Limbaugh, to thinking that Jim Hoft, the stupidest man on the internet, is their intellectual leader. Sure the right has a lot of advantages - money, various aspects of the media (including a general worship of money), etc. - but they still really are just a bunch of idiots.

A lot of this is because I am too online, but back in the early days of the Trump administration, even liberals treated Bannon like he was some sort of master strategist. IGNORE THIS TWEET!!! THAT TWEET IS THE IMPORTANT ONE THEY ARE TRYING TO DISTRACT US FROM!!! No Trump is a big dumbass who vomits nonsense into his phone. There is no supergenius strategy behind it (yes he has certain instincts of a showman and a conman, but they aren't exactly expert level instincts, especially with the brain worms).

DON'T DO THIS!!! THIS IS WHAT THE REPUBLICANS WANT US TO DO!!! Shut up. This generation of Republicans is just a 20something in a diaper in a dumpster which is about to catch on fire.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


I'm certainly not against schools etc. closing when snow shows up, and it doesn't take much to make life miserable for anyone who has to drive, but the amount of general panic every time we have a bit of snow in the forecast this winter has been a bit bizarre. 3 inches of snow just isn't a big deal, aside from the driving issue. Life will go on.

Tuesday Night

Tomorrow is...

Sure, Elon

I do not know how this company does not get sued out of existence.

The entrepreneur made the comment on a podcast with Cathie Wood and Tasha Keeney of ARK Invest, a firm that owns shares in the company. Tesla's automated driver assistance system Autopilot has garnered both positive attention for the sophistication of its features and negative attention for its association with a number of high-profile accidents.

"I think we will be feature complete — full self-driving — this year," Musk said. "Meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up and take you all the way to your destination without an intervention, this year. I would say I am of certain of that. That is not a question mark."

Afternoon Thread


Tuesday Crass Commercialism

The perfect gift for all your MAGA friends and family. The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump.


Back when I was The Man Who Saved Social Security some weirdo invited me to speak at a retirement policy conference in DC. There was consensus agreement that our retirement system was fucked, and also consensus agreement that expanding Social Security was unpossible. So proposals ranged from The Left (how about...state-level add ons to Social Security which are just like more Social Security but only in some states!!) and the Right (well, if we make 401ks opt-out instead of opt-in, experiments show a 25% increase in contributions so surely if we re-run this experiment for another 45 years it'll work out better this time).

One of my points in the discussion was that I didn't know why all these plans, whatever their merits otherwise, were so damn complicated and put the burden of handling this complexity onto individuals. The conservative guy response was, "Social Security is so complicated! Have you actually looked into the benefit formulas!" Also something about "individual responsibility" as if working for 45 years isn't individual responsibility enough.

And, you know, I have looked into the benefit formulas some. They are complicated! But they're sitting on a computer in a warehouse somewhere and nobody has to worry their beautiful minds about them. I work, some money is taken out of my pay, and when I retire the government starts sending me the check. Nerdy bureaucrats are paid a salary to deal with the complexities. Ideally I don't have to do a damn thing!

Of course policy implementation is complex and transition costs are potentially costly. There's no reason the burdens of either need to be placed on the shoulders of voters. The idea that anything good must be made just a little bit miserable for normal people is pervasive.

Better Things Are Not Possible

I just want a presidential candidate who tells it like it is.