• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Lady V on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    Lady V on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    wnc-n on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    ghost2 on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    seagrl on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    n-wnc on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    Em on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    n-wnc on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    Sweet Sue on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    CB on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    CB on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
    Em on Tales from 2016 GOTV: True…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare occupy wall street OccupyWallStreet Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    August 2016
    S M T W T F S
    « Jul    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The Simple Fix for Intellectual Property Laws
      Epi-pen, which is used to stop allergic reactions which could kill people, costs about $300 in the US, per pen. Its manufacturing cost is about $1. A lot of people are upset. This is what happens when you grant monopoly production/sale rights to people (otherwise known as “intellectual property” which is a bullshit formulation). The […]
  • Top Posts

The Republicans “Oh S^&*!” Moment

oh_ebd37d_221443I suspect it came on Tuesday when they realized they would have to run with The Donald they had.

They bet the whole enchilada on Hillary getting indicted. This apparent truth absolutely floors me but they seem to have talked themselves into it. How could they lose? After all, Jim Comey is one of their guys: lifelong, conservative, hard-ass Republican. Remember how he and John Ashcroft were buddies?BUT, as we have seen before, Comey has a conscience. Not much of one. It struggles under the weight of so much indoctrination from his party. Nevertheless, it surfaced at his press conference on Tuesday, buried underneath all that robotic recitation from Newt Gingrich’s “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control”, the primer that juvenile Republicans cut their teeth on.

Comey is … an apostate.

Duh-duh-duhhhhhhhh!

They just could not believe that he wasn’t going to step forward and save them from the spectacle of Hillary Clinton talking about policy and issues with Donald Trump during debates this fall. She’s not supposed to be there. Bernie is, or someone else that hasn’t been sufficiently vetted by the Democrats.

Here they were, having blown off their own primaries, confident that Comey was going to disqualify Hillary from running for president. Then they’d be home free, baby! It wouldn’t matter who their nominee was. The Democrats would be a broken party with a power vacuum at the top, babbling incoherently on CNN about climate change or something. Gowdy had to conclude the Benghazi fiasco last week, having found nothing but a series of unfortunate events. But the emails were going to finally nail Hillary FOR-EVER. Bwahahahahahhhhhhhh!

And it didn’t happen. Did they hear Comey right? Did he say no charges? No reasonable prosecutor would indict?

What about an UNreasonable prosecutor? Can we get one of those?

Turns out this is not possible.

You know, this batch of Republicans aren’t too bright. They’re not like the 90’s era Republicans who made House of Cards look like hopscotch. They haven’t got the media savvy of the Bushies who manipulated the American public into endless war and came up with such jolly and memorable slogans as “Cut and Run” and “Freedom Fries”.

OMG, this fall is going to be so ugly. They are going to get slaughtered at the polls.

 

Putting “Extremely Careless” into perspective

According to James Comey, head of the FBI who happens to be a Republican, after sifting through 50,000+ emails at a cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayer, he was able to dig up 113 emails that contained classified material. Some of this classified material was classified after the mail was sent, some was buried in email threads, which, as anyone who gets email threads at work can verify can sometimes be mind bogglingly long and hard to follow. The recipient can’t control what other people send to her.

Let’s do the math:

113 classified emails/50000 emails total = .23%. (I rounded up)

I can only assume that James Comey went through all of Condoleeza Rice’s emails and Colin Powell’s emails and Madeline Albright’s emails for comparison and that none of our three most recent Secretary of State’s emails contained anywhere close to that number of unintentional violations.

That would be about 2 tenths of 1% of emails.

What would be considered “extremely careful”? Shouldn’t Comey provide a scale so we know what would be considered rigorously careful? Presumably, 50000 emails would contain 0 classified emails unintentionally passed between communicants.

In the absence of any data from other Secretaries of State, we have no way to know just how egregiously bad Clinton’s numbers are.

So, James Comey, Republican, can say whatever he likes about the standard of care that was applied here. There is no way of knowing whether this is higher or lower than any other secretary of state who used private emails.

Ok, then.

Happy Fourth of July and other stuff

dave-dicello_750There are no bad views in Pittsburgh on the Fourth of July. Some are better than others but you really can’t miss a good fireworks display. Best Spots are probably the Dravosburg and West Mifflin area,  Grandview, and a couple streets down from me. And there’s always Kennywood.

Happy Fourth!

Other stuff:

I’ve read in different places that Barack Obama may decide to become a venture capitalist after he leaves the White House, feeding on the corpses of geeks who ran out of early discovery money before they could develop their drugs into blockbusters.

Check out my post from 2011 on Their Plans for Us to get a better sense of what I’m talking about. And yes, the ACS representative really did say that those of us who were unemployed should borrow from “friends, family and fools” in order to work our asses off in our own start up for years before some venture capitalist came along to bail us out.

I’m reminded of the altruism, fairness study of monkeys who don’t think the game is fair if they get less than 30% of the fruit. But it’s OK if vulture capitalists cash in big on the backs of hard working researchers who should be grateful they get 1% back on their blockbuster patents they are forced to sell.

Well, he’ll be trying to fund cancer and orphan disease biological treatments and who can argue with that? If you have cancer or some metabolic disease, this is pretty sweet. But as I have said before, this kind of research has two major characteristics: 1.) It’s a business model that really does feed on the weak. A person with a life threatening disease will not complain about side effects, isn’t likely to sue you if you extend their lives and will pay whatever it takes to get better. Biologicals don’t have the same patent hurdles as many small molecule drugs and for cancer and life threatening orphan diseases they are “fast tracked”. In other words, the FDA will look the other way on many safety profiles. The potential profits are enormous. 2.) Other diseases will be deprioritized. Got heart disease, schizophrenia, or a life threatening bacterial infection? Too f&*(ing bad. Those small molecule therapies don’t get fast tracked, are subject to a lot of patients suing over side effects, are too difficult and expensive to research because of the blood-brain barrier or aren’t taken for long enough periods of time for the dough to roll in.

That’s the harsh reality. Vulture capitalism in new biological therapies is all about maximizing shareholder value while minimizing research at the cost of innovation in other areas. It puts researchers at risk because unless they are early geniuses or incredibly lucky, they will be job hopping from one shaky startup to another and it deprives harder science of the long term funding it needs to make progress.

But don’t take my word for it, listen to Chris Viehbacher, former CEO of a large pharmaceutical who is now into venture capitalism:

In Viehbacher’s view, Big Pharma is still trying to act in the way the old movie studios once operated in Hollywood, with everyone from the stars to writers and stunt men all roped into one big group. Today, he says, movie studios move from project to project, and virtually everyone is a freelancer. In biopharma, he adds, value is found in specializing, and “fixed costs are your enemy.”

Fixed costs are other words for “people who have spent most of their adult lives in a lab getting PhDs in very hard subjects”. These people require life sustaining things like food, water, shelter and money to pay off their student loans. Those things are baaaaad. They’re your enemy.Well, we’ll have none of that. But thanks to Chris Viehbacher, we have the entire working person’s grievance summed up in one paragraph.

By the way, Chris, specializing is important but even specialists have to work in project teams to do real discovery research. A star specialist is only effective if he or she can work in a team of people who put away their egos to focus on their goals. Pharma research has very, very few Mark Zuckerbergs (thank God). In fact, Mark Zuckerberg types who study molecular biology are just as likely to go work on Wall Street as a start up lab because they know where the money is when they have to make a living, didja ever think about that, Chris? But I digress.

and Chris also said…

“It is cheaper. But research and development is either a huge waste of money or too, too valuable. It’s not really anything in between. You don’t really do things because it’s cheaper. The reality is the best people who have great ideas in science don’t want to work for a big company. They want to create their own company. So, in other words, if you want to work with the best people, you’re going to have go outside your own company and work with those people … And, you want to work with them, why do they want to work with you? The reality over the last 10 years is, (a small biotech) wouldn’t get caught dead working with one of these big cumbersome pharma companies. Once you have a funding gap, suddenly there’s a much greater willingness of earlier-stage companies to work with Big Pharma. We’re looking earlier and people who are early need help.

It would take many posts to unpack what Chris is really saying in this paragraph. Let’s just say that to those of us who used to do this kind of research, this is transparent BS pitched to future investors and says more about the only thing that Chris and his droogs feel is a measure of success and value in life. This is from a man who likely never stepped foot in the labs he ran. Discovery sometimes takes a long time, patience and continuity. That’s how we do science. Everything else is either a get-rich-quick scheme or low hanging fruit built on the backs of others- who worked in those big corporate labs for years and years doing the heavy lifting in research.

But it’s the image of Viehbacher and his investors waiting around for early stage companies to have a funding gap, where presumably they can’t pay their top stars anymore, that really fuels my contempt for these predators. “Nice lead compound you got there. Be a shame if something *happened* to it.” This is venturing into Martin Shkreli territory.

And Barack Obama wants to be one of them?

Some presidents build libraries, some presidents build multinational charitable foundations, some presidents look for FDA loopholes, researchers on the edge of bankruptcy and desperately sick people to make a killing in the market.

***************************************************************

Antecdotal evidence of *something*:

I walked to the bus stop the other day on the way home from work. The buses must have been piled up in traffic upstream because the sidewalk was crowded with about 100 people. That’s an estimate, probably a good one. I didn’t want to block the sidewalk so I stood where I could. It turns out it was in a line that was quickly forming in front of another line of people backed up against the side of a building. All of the sudden, there was a voice behind me, “Is there a good reason you stood in front of me??”. I turned around to see a tall African American man behind me. He looked casually dressed, like he just came from a Pirates game. I looked like I just came from my air conditioned office floor in a tech company with my company lanyard hanging from my neck. I just said “No” and turned away just as the bus pulled up.

It’s just the buses held up in traffic and crowded bus stops with no place to stand. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar, not a socio-political statement. Anyway, there was no way I could stand behind him because there was a f^*&ing building there and then, people standing in front of me. So, you know, we’re all in this whole bus thing together.

Then I got on the bus and stumbled on the foot of a white woman who was taking up way too much space (she wasn’t obese) on the side bench seating including sticking her legs out into the aisle. “Excuse me”, I muttered as I quickly took my seat down the aisle and across from her. She too was a casually dressed, graying blonde who looked her age. She gave me the stink eye for several blocks before she got off in mid town.

WTF?? I suddenly felt like the target for Trump supporters AND anti-Bernie people who wanted to pick a fight.

This is going to be an ugly summer.

I ran into a bunch of POC tweeters yesterday who just assumed I was a Bernie supporter because I didn’t think the turn to the left in the Democratic platform was a slap to Obama. The internet is a rough place and I’m used to it, but the level of anger and assumptions, including that I had deliberately used a “sepia toned” photo of myself for some nefarious purpose was hillariously over the top.

Look, POC, calm your g&* damned tits for crying out loud. It was eight years ago that Donna Brazile and Paul Begala fought it out on national TV over the Democratic party ditching its “old coalition” for “eggheads and African Americans”. (They both missed the point, IMHO) This year, thanks to an angry electorate and a definite shift in voter sentiment against getting the shitty end of the economic stick in the past eight years with no bankers going to jail and years of absolutely the worst job market since the Great Depression, the Democratic party seems to slowly be turning back to its roots and in the direction of the left.

Those of you who *think* this turn is a slap to Obama should seriously ask yourselves why the party struggling to embrace its identity with working people and more liberal values looks like it is disrespecting Obama.

I’m not saying your perception is wrong. I’m saying the reason is not what you think it is.

I’ll leave it at that. You’re smart enough to figure it out. It’s got nothing to do with racism.

 

 

 

#Brexit, appliances, eucatastrophes and GoT crackpot theories

maxresdefault

What has the EU ever done for us?

Hi everybody, I have to go mow the lawn. It’s a nice day out today and I want to get it over with so I can do more fun things. But first, some thots about Brexit.

David Cameron is a ditz. He called his voters’ bluff one too many times. Unfortunately, the people who voted for exiting the EU are dragging all of the young and well educated with them. It’s funny how this turned out to be a referendum on immigration and all those furiners taking jobs. Why is it that the well connected who are making out like bandits in the globalization deal escape scrutiny time after time?

I blame Rupert Murdoch. Wherever his “news” channels are strongest so is the redirection of righteous indignation onto the backs of the people who are least able to defend themselves.

Anyway, I wanted to point out that this globalization meme is truly stupid and well-meaning politicians should stop cuddling up to the propagators of this nonsense. Instinctively, we know that globalization is the excuse that is being used to tear down social safety nets. The reasoning is that goods for Americans, for example, are cheaper when they are made elsewhere. But is that really true?

Here’s a challenge: next time you’re in Lowes or Home Depot, go visit the appliance department. Try to figure out which refrigerators and ranges are made here in the US and which are made in Korea by price. There are brands that are made here in the US but they do not carry a premium price. In fact, the most expensive appliances, the ones that everyone wants and needs, are made in Korea. Not only that but sales reps will tell you confidentially that the current generation of those $3200 refrigerators are not supposed to last more than 7-10 years.

That’s globalization for you. And people buying new appliances know this in their bones. They know they’re being conned. What can you do? You can’t let your food spoil. But you gotta wonder where all the cost savings went. If the appliances are no longer cheaper but the labor is, then the difference is pure profit and it’s going into someone’s pocket. Not ours, obviously.

Globalization as we know it is really about a global casino, shareholder value, 401K’s. Did you notice that on Friday when the market dropped, we were all told not to look at our 401Ks? That’s what the gamblers would prefer. They don’t want you to look at how the value of your hard earned money, your retirement plan, is taking a plunge and will continue to do so. “Leave it alone, don’t think about it” is the message we get. Otherwise, you might get angry and they don’t want you to get angry and pull YOUR money out of THEIR market. Don’t look until we have to retire and find that all these monumental shocks left us with a lot less than the financial consultants said. They won’t promise you a guaranteed rate of return or even that you’ll have any principal left.And it’s all up to you. If you don’t plan, if you’re not playing the game correctly, well, it’s you’re fault for not being them.

I don’t buy the idea that nothing can be done about this kind of globalization. As Larry Elliott writes in his post in The Guardian:

The risk is that if the mainstream parties don’t respond to the demands of their traditional supporters, they will be replaced by populist parties who will. The French Socialist party has effectively lost most of its old blue-collar working class base to the hard left and the hard right, and in the UK there is a danger that the same thing will happen to the Labour party, where Jeremy Corbyn’s laissez-faire approach to immigration is at odds with the views of many voters in the north that supported Ed Miliband in the 2015 general election, but who plumped for Brexit last week.

There are those who argue that globalisation is now like the weather, something we can moan about but not alter. This is a false comparison. The global market economy was created by a set of political decisions in the past and it can be shaped by political decisions taken in the future.

A smart politician is one who will see Brexit as the eucatastrophe it is, no pun intended. It might be too late for a do-over in Britain, but the American election is months away. It is not too late to turn this ship around. Even if Hillary is ahead of The Donald, she should take a good look at how the landscape has changed and take advantage of it to craft new policies, policies that will ensure lasting political change. Obama failed to take advantage of his opportunities from 2008-2010. Hillary should sieze on hers now even at the risk of offending some of her donors in Silicon Valley.  The pressure on regular non-rich Americans has been building for years now. It got significantly worse in the last 8 years as the finance industry and big business benefitted from lax oversight to push more and more people into a Gig Economy. That’s where you’re valuable when you’re young and single and willing to job hop. But as soon as you grow up and want a steady job and a family and a house, the jobs mysteriously dry up.

Brexit shows us what can happen when voters have a chance to express themselves. Voters are angry and they are motivated and they want to make a point. David Cameron thought throwing them a bone of a referendum would be just another Scotland independence vote where the whiners and complainers would get trounced and shut up about it already. But he seriously misread the electorate. They’re sick of being taken advantage of and if they’re going down, they’re going to take everyone else with them. And just like the UK, we have a bunch of angry white guys with big erections that they are going to parade all the way to the voting booth. The economy is not booming, we aren’t doing well and unlike the angry Bernie supporters, who at least know who to blame, the Trump supporters will lash out at anyone who isn’t a white male American.

Better to give them policies that will curb the malefactors of great wealth and stop expecting the working class to foot the bill all time than to see us all wake up after the conventions feeling like we’ve been thoroughly f^&*ed.

********************************************************************

Tonight is the season finale of Game of Thrones. Here are my crackpot theories about how what’s going to happen:

  1. We will find out tonight just who was the recipient of Sansa Stark’s letter and plea for help. Everyone assumes it was Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger. But I think Sansa has grown a clue in the last six years. She made a deal with someone in the Vale. Was it Lord Royce or SweetRobin? In any case, Littlefinger may be losing his edge. If you’re planning to come to someone’s rescue, make sure you get the specific reciprocal rewards on paper, preferably signed in blood.
  2. Whatever Sansa does, there will be a faction of fans who will be critical. They’ve been complaining for years now that she’s been too much of a passive pushover. But since she started taking control of her life this season and making some controversial decisions, they’ve become even more hostile and critical that “She’s doin’ it wrong”. Also, there are some fans who are very negative that she might be losing her girlish innocence to be replaced by a calculating survival mode. Thus Game of Thrones continues to reflect current political realities. Even in the fantasy realm, Cenk Uygar is tiresome, sexist asshole. The pattern is obvious, Cenk. Your slip is showing. Calm your tits already.
  3. What is in the crypts of Winterfell? I mean, seriously, there’s some secret lurking down there that we don’t know about. And why is it that “there must always be a Stark at Winterfell”? The first book opened in the crypts when Ned took Robert down there to check out Lyanna’s grave. But various characters are always finding some excuse to go down there and light some candles. Maybe this is what Littlefinger is truly interested in. Sansa’s just the cheesecake dessert.** Whatever is down there is what he’s really after.
  4. Tonight, we will probably get confirmation that R+L=J. Was Jon reborn last week under a bleeding star of the circular pattern of dead and dying bodies? Was the “salt and smoke” from the Ramsay’s burning victims and the sweat of battle? Will Melisandre be the ultimate sacrifice? Will she finally understand the signs she sees in the fire?

Add your own crackpot theories in the comments.

* *  Here’s another crackpot theory. We all know how Ramsay Bolton had a thing for cutting off various body parts from his victims. What if Ramsay did a bit of FGM on Sansa? I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones to even be imagining this but I could see him doing it, considering what he cut off of Theon Greyjoy. In that case, Sansa may decide to become a born-again virgin and get her kicks from wielding power instead. Oooo, Cenk isn’t going to like that.

Dracarys.

Filibuster on guns. Have you had #Enough?

From Lady V in the comments:

9 pm Weds: Live stream of gun control filibuster happening now in the Senate:http://livestream.com/accounts/300260/events/4963928

“Senate Democrats led by Chris Murphy of Connecticut ground the Senate floor to a halt Wednesday, vowing to speak as long as necessary to force the Senate to take action to address gun violence.
‘I am prepared to stand on the Senate floor and talk about the need to prevent gun violence for as long as I can. I’ve had #Enough,’ he tweeted. For hours, Murphy and other Democratic senators took turns demanding the Senate take up a variety of gun control measures, though it is not clear any of them would have the votes to pass.
Murphy listed off mass shootings and talked about expanding background checks for gun buyers and banning gun sales to people on terror watch lists.’ (USA Today)

Since Orlando shooting, 100 people have been murdered with guns.

This is going to be a tough nut. Fox News and other right wing media has promoted an atmosphere of Learned Helplessness where gun control is concerned.

America makes rest of world nervous

We are a train wreck in progress. Some observations in the past couple of days:

1.) Donald Trump is like the ultimate blog troll before you figured out how to keep him from posting in your comments section.He camps out there with his other annoying droogs and writes inflammatory jackassery.

2.) “I am not politically correct” is just another way of saying “I don’t give a flying f^&* about anyone else’s feelings”. I used to think it was a response to Democratic operatives using accusations of racism to shut up critics of Obama and maybe it started out that way. But this has gone way beyond that. Now it’s just an excuse to use the worst bullying behavior.

3.) According to Republicans, “All Constitutional Amendments are equal except some are more equal than others.” I actually heard one on CNN say something to the effect that sure, we should have investigated the shooter more thoroughly to stop him from doing his worst but he was a native born American citizen and, therefore, his right to buy assault weapons could absolutely not be violated.

WTF, Republicans. Seriously. There is nothing sane or rational about this position. Ok, nevermind. Most of you still don’t believe in evolution or climate change either.

4.) It took 8 years but I am finally on Obama’s side. His righteous indignation yesterday was the correct response to Donald’s stupid self-aggrandizing belligerence. I only wish that he had been able to muster as much passion over the fate of the long term unemployed or the monumental greed and callousness of the bankers.

The bad thing is that we have to continue to witness this battle of the politicians in the wake of a tragedy. Unfortunately, it’s necessary. The Democrats can’t be cowed by an orange blowhard into looking passive. It’s a power dynamics thing.

 

 

Maybe not the most tasteful metaphor in light of the massacre in Orlando but still apt. You can’t meet overt aggression with passivity. Donald and his droogs will jump all over that.

Nice to see Hillary making the point about how we can’t take shampoo on a plane but anyone in American can buy an assault weapon. Can we get Bernie to join in?

We can’t all get along until we can make Donald STFU.

Religious Extremism, Guns and Public Safety: Pick 2

You can’t have all three.

Discuss.

BTW, when I say “Religious Extremism”, I am referring to any religion. There are many more Christian extremists in this country than there are Muslims. A lot of them have guns.

Mountain Meadows Massacre? 120 people killed

David Koresh? 76 people killed

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 702 other followers