Thursday, October 21, 2021

Why does the U.S. still have soldiers in Syria?


I realize once the U.S. commits to a troop deployment, its really hard to end it. That seems to be because of political pressure or perceived pressure (no one wants to seem like they've "lost" and pulling out soldiers looks like a loss), but also because the military always resists removing U.S. forces from anywhere once they are there.

Why is that? Is their budget tied to a particular deployment and people within the military are trying to protect their own budgetary fiefdom? Do people just get psychologically attached to the status quo? Keeping soldiers supplied and rotating in and out in a faraway and mostly hostile country is a logistical challenge, one that the U.S. military is really good at meeting, but still wouldn't it be easier just to wind things down when the original purpose for the deployment is over?

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

No one gets mad at Google anymore since they changed their corporate name to Alphabet

How can this possibly do anything to help Facebook?

A horrible map can make me feel better

One surprise in the 2020 election was that Trump gained ground with Latino voters. Latinos are one of the fastest growing populations in the U.S.  While the Latino (or Hispanic or Latinx or whatever your favorite term is) population in the U.S. is a lot more diverse than it is often given credit for, it was hard to understand how the guy who called Mexicans rapists, fucked up the recovery effort from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, tried to associate the entire Spanish speaking community in the U.S. with MS-13, stole children from Latino parentsregularly scare-mongered about the Spanish-speaking hordes swarming the border, and made less than zero effort to campaign for any Latino votes could gain votes with that group.

While Trump just gained a few percentage points with a group that overall still leans Democrat, the possible implications for Trump's gain with Latinos are potentially staggering. It throws a monkey-wrench into the "Republicans are facing demographic doom" and "Blue Texas" theories that Democrats use to reassure themselves about the future. I personally have still not been able to fully get my head around it. If Latinos end up splitting more evenly between the two parties or even could be viewed as a area for further Republican growth that could completely transform Republicans' entire electoral strategy going forward, especially in a state like Texas.

But it looks like it isn't. Texas Republicans are still working off the assumption that Latino=Democrat, at least in their gerrymandering efforts. It is weird that I find that reassuring?

Friday, October 15, 2021

There is no evidence at all that Sinema is a moderate

Why do news articles keep referring to Senator Sinema as "the moderate Arizona Democrat"? She isn't publicizing her views on anything. "What does Kirsten Sinema want" has become a common title for news articles. Even her colleagues in Congress have no idea and have been asking her repeatedly what part of the reconciliation bill she likes and what she doesn't like. If we don't know what ever actual views are, how can anyone say whether those views are moderate or extreme?

The word "moderate" should mean more than opposing progressives. But that seems to be the entire basis for calling Sinema a "moderate." To call her a "former progressive" or "anti-progressive" would be a lot more accurate than "moderate."

(P.S. Can Blogger catch on to the fact that there is now a high profile public figure named Sinema which should not be autocorrected to "Cinema" every singe time I type her name. I think I went back and got them all. Let me know if I missed any)

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Enforce the 1/6 Commission subpoenas today

Now that they have had a long weekend to work on it, there is absolutely no reason they can't file legal action to enforce the subpoenas today.

Seriously, if they are going to do it, why wait a single day longer? It's not like Steve Bannon is going to change his mind or respond to another strongly worded letter. There is a legal theory that congressional subpoenas expire at the end of the legislative session. That issue hasn't been definitively settled by the courts yet, but you can bet your ass that the federal courts, packed with Trump judges, will use that theory to squelch the 1/6 investigation if given the chance. That means that Congress only has 14.5 months to enforce its subpoenas. Given how long the court process can take, that isn't much time at all.

I'm not exactly sure how the process works. I've read some things that talked about the committee might recommend to Attorney General Merrick Gartland to file a case to enforce the subpoenas, and others that talked as if the House Committee (or maybe the House majority) can bring its own lawsuit. However it is done, they need to do it now. Every day they don't is another indication that they are not serious about this.

ADDING: I hope this means the criminal referral happens tomorrow and that criminal complaints are already prepared and are ready to go:

Friday, October 08, 2021

Enforce the subpoena

This is great news! Congress finally has a rock-solid way to hold Steve Bannon into account. All the House Committee has to do is file a legal action to enforce the subpoena.

Like do it today. Honestly, if the Committee didn't already have their lawyers draft the legal papers and have them ready to go, they are not taking this seriously.

The Age of the Stupid

I got bored with writing the "look how stupid Republicans are" posts long ago. Years ago, I wondered why seemingly non-stupid Republicans seemed to be posturing to make their party the party of the stupid. But the stupid stuff they did in those days was amateur hour by today's standards. Since then, the GOP charged head-first into a campaign strategy that is utterly devoid of any policy proposals and instead embraced moronic grievances that are almost always premised on some stupid misunderstanding of how things are. The post-Trump era, I would argue, is even dumber than when Trump was in office. Having jettisoned any coherent ideology beyond outright racism and owning the libs (with only the vaguest sense of what libs actually believe), listening to Republican politicians talk these days makes me feel like my thinking brain is oozing out my ears. Stupidity is the air they breathe. It is so ubiquitous it has become unremarkable.

And then I see something like this. One of the Republican party's rising stars is claiming that a medicine to treat parasites in livestock "won the Nobel Peace Prize" and bashed the Biden Administration for not getting doctors to prescribe it for COVID. Two doctors did win the Nobel Prize in Medicine (not the Peace Prize) for their work showing that ivermectin was effective at treating roundworm parasites (not COVID). Really dumb right? Except that it's also dangerous because people who  see Greene's remarks will take ivermectin instead of getting vaccinated or (if they are infected) getting actual treatment for COVID. Greene's remarks aren't just hilariously funny, they could plausibly lead to people's deaths. Not too long ago, if a politician made a dumb and potentially dangerous statement like that reporters would track her down and ask follow-up questions. But none of that is going to happen now because Marjorie Taylor Greene regularly makes mind-numbingly dumb statements. It's not newsworthy, it's expected. So she goes unchallenged. They all do.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021


Every lawyer who does litigation has had a witness who ignores all their instructions and wrecks their case, so my sympathies to Joe Sibley for trying to represent the worst attorney in America at his deposition:

Throughout all of this, attorneys for both sides kept trying to convince Giuliani to stop talking.

He revealed details that included trash talk about Sidney Powell: “She wasn’t as collegial maybe is a nice way to put it, which isn’t unusual for lawyers that tend to be prima donnas.”

He was met with protestations from his own attorney at times. At one point, Giuliani was asked about reporting suggesting that, on the night of the election, he told a group of senior Trump advisers in the White House to “just say that we won.”

Giuliani attorney Joe Sibley kept interjecting to say “we’re asserting privilege” and to tell Giuliani “don’t disclose whatever you said to them,” but Rudy plowed ahead.

“You asked a question and I’m going to finish it,” he fumed to the plaintiff attorney. “And I’m hardly going to tell someone to make an allegation and just say it without having substantial amount of proof of it.”

Giuliani obliquely suggested that he would never — never — make an allegation without heaps of evidence.

“And everything I alleged, I have at least one and usually 10 or 15 affidavits to support except nobody wants to look at them,” he added.


Monday, October 04, 2021

Trump was really stupid to rely on NDAs

I hope the Amarosa arbitration decision does open the flood gates, but I never understood why the Trump Administration relied so much on non-disclosure agreements throughout their presidential term. Since 2016 there have been articles explaining that the unlike private companies, the federal government cannot enforce NDAs. I  blogged about the issue in 2016 and again in 2018. With all that discussion about how federal NDAs are not going to be enforced, why did Trump continue to depend on them to keep his secrets? Were people just afraid to tell him that one of his favorite tricks from the private sector wouldn't work?