Thursday May 2nd, 2019 13:35 Let’s all make a note of this

Yesterday, the Attorney General of The United States said this, out loud, on camera, while sitting in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“[If an investigation is] based on false allegations, the president does not have to sit there constitutionally and allow it to run its course. The president could terminate the proceeding and it would not be a corrupt intent because he was being falsely accused.”

I think we should all take note of this particular moment in time.

Because the simple-language translation of that is: “The president can do anything he wants, and if anyone ever accuses him of breaking the law, all he has to do is say ‘No I didn’t’ and it’s case closed.”

That’s not an alarmist interpretation of what just happened. It’s simply listening to the words and following the logic of those words.

To explain, in an orderly fashion:

  1. Barr is specifically referring to investigations based on false allegations.
  2. Common sense tells you it’s impossible to prove that an allegation is false until after it’s been investigated. Otherwise, it’s not an investigation at all – you’re just taking someone’s word.
  3. Barr is very plainly telling us that the president can decide an allegation is false before an investigation has been conducted or completed. And he does not have to provide independently-verified proof of an allegation being false.
  4. Therefore, the president must be taken at his word, as there are no means to validate his claim that the allegation was false.
  5. If that is true, the president has full legal authority to declare a true allegation to be false. All he has to do is lie (which is not exactly out of the realm of possibility for a politician).**

And that’s how you end up with this sort of thing:

In this country, when someone says “that person committed a crime,” we have organizations like the police and the FBI and the DOJ that are chock-full of professional investigators whose job it is to figure out whether or not an accusation is true, and whether or not that can be proven in court.

In this country, you don’t get to just say “I didn’t do that,” and then demand that the police/FBI/DOJ stop bothering you.

In this country, nobody is above the law.

At least, that’s how things worked up until yesterday.

**Seriously, just try to imagine this happening to you. Imagine you could stop the police from investigating anything you ever did, simply by claiming you didn’t do it. Now, if you’re a GOP supporter, imagine Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders having that power. Still sound like a good idea?
In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Wednesday April 17th, 2019 14:42 Hypocrisy in real time

I just wanted to put this up on the ol’ intertubes an additional time, because it’s pretty much the best example of IOKIYAR* I’ve ever seen.

*It’s OK If You’re A Republican
In: Other, PoliticsNo Comments

Friday February 22nd, 2019 12:30 Fraudulent crickets

The Mark Harris story in North Carolina has only one valid reaction gif:

There is no possible manner in which I can quantify the volume at which a looped track of “OF COURSE THEY DID” is replaying in my head.

Any idiot who’s ever worked with absentee ballots knows they were breaking the law. It was patently obvious that the fraudster McCrae Dowless was going to do something illegal. The candidate’s son explicitly told his father that this was going to happen. Then, after the fact, it was painfully apparent they hadn’t bothered to try to hide it.

Hell, for a minute there, I was suspicious that they were faking all of this in an attempt to forcibly create a clear story of voter fraud for alternate political purpose. They were all just so bad at it.

But that’s not the ‘of course they did’ moment.

That moment was when I looked for the responses of the literally hundreds of Republican candidates and elected officials who had previously railed about voter fraud for years on end.

The ones who immediately enacted or shredded laws in the name of stopping voter fraud the instant Shelby County vs Holder came down. The ones who saw nothing wrong with voter intimidation squads or ID requirements that conveniently had a disproportionate effect on voters who tend to vote against them. The ones that tried to perpetuate the buffoonishly idiotic claim that 3 million illegal immigrants voted in 2016.

The ones who should be, right now, shouting from the rooftops that, right here, is undeniable proof that election fraud can happen.*

But instead:

*Seriously, they’ve been operating all this time with absolutely zero credible evidence. I would be ecstatic if someone so enthusiastically proved me right.

In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Thursday February 7th, 2019 16:03 My eyes are lying bastards

I grew up in the great John Stewart era of The Daily Show (I was 16 when he started, so let’s just say that qualifies and move on). As such, I’ve not been a big fan of Trevor Noah. But when he and his team get it, they really get it:

This morning, the Failing NY Times™ had pretty much the same graph on their front page:

First thing I must say is: Spot on, Ronny Chieng. Seriously, any idiot can look at that thing and figure it out. At least, any idiot without a vested interest in pretending that they can’t.

That brings us to this afternoon, when I heard about the *president complaining on Twitter that he was being harassed by nefarious congresscritters exercising their so-called ‘Constitutional obligations of their offices and oaths.’

I mean, Bill Kristol was mocking him for this. More than once. Bloody Bill Kristol, lifelong Republican and man who never met a war he didn’t like.

Somewhere else in the thread, my eyes landed on this:

Now that there is pretty straightforward. So, let’s do some quick math:

Number of indictments:
Republicans: 209
Democrats: 3

Number of convictions:
Republicans: 113
Democrats: 1

Number of people sentenced to prison:
Republicans: 36
Democrats: 1

Okay, that’s pretty damning. But the list clearly shows that more Republicans have been in office, and thus have had more time for bad things to happen. So let’s do that math:

Republican indictments per year: 7.1
Democratic indictments per year: .1
Ratio: 71:1

Republican convictions per year: 3.8
Democratic convictions per year: .05
Ratio: 76:1

Republicans sent to prison per year: 1.2
Democrats sent to prison per year: .05
Ratio: 24:1

Now, before someone goes off to cite this as proof that the FBI (they’re the ones in the DOJ who collect the evidence) has it out for Republicans and are just letting the Democrats off the hook, let’s take a look at who’s been running the FBI all this time. You know, aside from the president who is the head of all federal law enforcement.

J. Edgar Hoover, May 10, 1924 – May 2, 1972, Republican
Clarence M. Kelley, July 9, 1973 – February 15, 1977, Republican
William Webster, February 23, 1978 – May 25, 1987, Republican
William S. Sessions, November 2, 1987 – July 19, 1993, Republican
(are we sensing a pattern here?)
Louis Freeh, September 1, 1993 – June 25, 2001, Republican
Robert Mueller, September 4, 2001 – September 4, 2013, Republican
James Comey, September 4, 2013 – May 9, 2017, Republican (turned Independent in 2016)
Andrew McCabe, February 1, 2016 – January 29, 2018, Republican
Christopher A. Wray, August 2, 2017 – Current, Republican

That’s damn near 100 years of Republicans running the FBI.

If every single one of the post-Hoover directors were out to get Republicans and shield Democrats, you guys have some serious internal problems with your party.

So, to review some facts:

  • When a Republican is elected president, it is 76 times more likely that someone in the administration will be convicted of a crime than if a Democrat held the office
  • Every single head of the FBI has been a Republican, and it appears they have faithfully executed their duty to pursue criminal activity in the White House
  • Attorneys General of the United States are presidential appointees and Harry Truman was the last full-term president to not change his immediately upon taking office (Reagan was the only one since who didn’t do it on Jan. 20. He waited until Jan 23.)
  • In case that last point was confusing, I’m saying that all the indictments and prosecutions took place at the behest and with the approval of someone that the president personally nominated to do exactly that job.
  • In case you think they don’t also vigorously pursue Democrats, I will point you to the 10 separate investigations into Benghazi.

Thus, when Trump says that investigating his administration is harassment, my only response is:

Yes, Mr. President. It is most certainly harassment. So long as I don’t believe my lying eyes.

In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Monday October 22nd, 2018 14:33 Trump claims you may have saved $5 last year with regulation cuts

Math. It’s so hard.

I ran by this idiotic phrasing all last week, with “Trump Claims $1.6 Billion a Year Saved From Cutting Red Tape” being one of my favorites.

First, the population of the US is about 325 million. Divide $1.6 billion by that and you get about $4.92.

A crisp fiver for every man, woman and child in the country.

And what do we give up for this largesse? Nothing of importance. Just bothersome environmental regulations. You can check out a more complete list here, but I’ll give some highlights:

  • Companies who build oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico no longer have to bother with proving that they can afford to remove them when all the oil has been drained from the site – meaning they get to just abandon the thing**
  • Bridges built by local and state governments are no longer required to fall into the cumbersome category of ‘bridge that won’t wash away in a flood’
  • You are free to use lead ammo and tackle in national parks – lead isn’t good enough for your gas tank, but feel free to fling it around our national treasures
  • Coal companies can once again dump mine runoff directly into local streams and rivers, bringing back the classic ‘blood of the innocent’ river color we’re all so fond of
  • Ensured you could once again easily buy plastic bottles of water in national parks, despite what a bunch of filthy hippies the National Park Service said about the reduction program being good for the land and a successful program overall

Sounds like a deal to me. Where do I pick up my $5?

Oh. Wait.

The money goes to the companies. Not the public. So I get nothing. And neither do you.

Well, you can go to a national park, fill something full of lead, then throw a plastic bottle over the edge of the bridge you’re on – which is being washed away by acid-filled demon-blood water, then fall in yourself. As long as the river is heading towards the gulf, you’ll be stopped from washing out to sea by the nearest abandoned oil rig.

Woo, freedom.

**Back in 2010, the Obama administration ordered the plugging of inactive wells in the gulf – about 3,750 of them. Any well that submitted a plan to restart use at any point in the future (of often-multi-decade leases) were not listed as inactive. These were only the ones the oil companies themselves functionally admitted were completely useless.

There were also about 27,000 abandoned (not inactive) wells there at the time.

Removing or plugging the shallow-water wells costs between $4-10 million each, and now that cost can be shifted to the taxpayer. Deep-water wells costs hundreds of millions to remove, but we’ll ignore that inconvenient fact for now.

Again, math is hard, so I’ll do it for you:

Just the inactive ones:
3,750 inactive wells X $4 million (minimum) each = $15 billion

All of them:
27,000 X $4 million (minimum) each = $108 billion

Since that’s all tax money, the government will need an extra $46.15 (or $332.31 if we want to do the job right) from everyone***.

Enjoy your $5.

***Not from the companies that built the rigs, though. They just got a tax cut.

In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Wednesday August 8th, 2018 11:10 Affirmative security defense FTW

I didn’t notice this until the election coverage last night brought it bubbling up, but it appears that Ohio has created an affirmative legal defense for data breaches in cases where the company took the reasonable steps necessary to protect themselves.

Computer law badass Sharon Nelson has more detail and insight on this, but generally reaches the same conclusion I did:

About damn time.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

If you’re the sec person/on the sec team and you’re all

but then some attackers come at you like

and they’re really clever, so you go

then your users are all

but you show them this new law like

and the lawyers got your back, tellin users

so your company can be all

In: Computers, News, PoliticsNo Comments

Friday July 13th, 2018 01:28 The conspiracy of goalkeepers

Years back, one of my favorite Premiere League seasons of all time saw Edwin Van der Sar at Man U and Petr Cech working for Chelsea, with both sides in a heated title run.

My Villa did pretty well too, but nevermind that now.

As a player, I only remember doing part of a single season as the dedicated keeper. But I do remember being a de-facto backup for a number of teams.

The coaches/captains consistently saw me as more useful elsewhere, but I always did love being a keeper. It’s a huge responsibility and one that not infrequently leaves you bearing the brunt of blame for goals.

You also get to be the commander of the entire defense, shaping play to your will [as much as one can]. For as many shots that get past, you get to be the hero for every one that doesn’t. You get to make an enormous contribution to the team, albeit one with great risk of failing that same team.

And while your teammates respect the skill required, the greatest respect comes from other keepers. Only they can truly appreciate a spectacular save, be it the inevitable result of reading the situation to anticipate the oncoming attack or reacting to good effect while functionally blind.

Long story short, I have unending respect and admiration for quality goalkeepers. If for no other reason than:

The other 10 can score all day long, but if your keeper lets in just one more than you scored, it’s all for naught.

Now, I had started this post before Tuesday’s epic England-Croatia match. I then did and still do hold great respect for this man, Jordan Pickford.

pickford

He came out of nowhere, in terms of the international stage. He was with smaller clubs until signing with Everton last year. Commentators and opinion-writers for the sport generally panned the selection when it first was known.

For the uninitiated, it’s positively bonkers that a 24-year-old with a single EPL season under his belt would not only be selected for his national team. The side was known to be relatively weak in general; this was still one of the more questionable decisions at the time, despite how well he later embarrassed his detractors.

Your usual keeper of quality is older than 90% of the team, has proven himself in multiple leagues in multiple countries. Your usual keeper of quality would burst out laughing at the idea that a team with a 24-year-old in goal had a real chance to make the World Cup semis.

I mention that i began this post days ago because it was only today my mind drew a line between that man and an American politician.

Namely, Trey Gowdy.

In politics, he’s a relatively young man with, not just an relatively unremarkable but also relatively short body of work as an elected official, compared to his contemporaries. One that also jumped well above his expected station to so quickly chair House Oversight.

Unlike Pickford, one of the clear standouts at this year’s Cup, his performance is somewhat lacking.

Whether you believe or not that some actionable failure/crime was committed in the Banghazi incident, the man utterly failed to prove a damn thing. Those hearings were voted into existence on May 8, 2014 and didn’t end until December 12, 2016.

In 29 months, at a cost of somewhere between $6-7 million dollars of our (the taxpayers) money, absolutely zero was produced beyond a report of their findings, which, for all its rhetorical jabs, never once concluded that Secretary Clinton was at fault for the deaths of those brave soldiers.

Some things might have smelled a bit fishy, but any reasonable person should be able to accept that the committee had more than enough time and resources to discover the truth. In the end, that was their conclusion.

Now, working on the topic of possible FBI malfeasance concerning the 2016 election, he’s doing even less of a job to keep [what is the ball in this metaphor] out of the back of the net.

Note: I will omit commentary on the manner in which today’s testimony was handled, despite obviously having something to say

Based on Gowdy’s questions, he appears to be probing the possibility that someone, at some point, did something to interfere in the 2016 election and that it was done for partisan goal of preventing Donald Trump from being elected.

And that’s where my mind tied him to Pickford.

Pickford is tasked with not letting bad things happen that will hurt his team. In theory, Gowdy is tasked with the same goal. The FBI and DOJ are his field players, and he is there to stop anything that gets past them.

So, if the FBI – the effing FBI that most Americans spent a lifetime being taught to respect – set out to sabotage the campaign of Donald Trump, it should at least be a little bit of a shock that they failed so miserably.

In the ‘sabotage Trump’ theory of events, the FBI, a massively powerful arm of the US government, was actively involved, at the highest levels, in a conspiracy to steal the presidency from Donald Trump, and their public acts in furtherance of that goal were:

  • They publicly announced an investigation into Trump’s opponent’s actions as Secretary of State.
  • They released large amounts of officially-reviewed communications in connection with that investigation into Trump’s opponent, giving them to Republican-led committees with known track records of leaking such information to the press*.
  • They released more caches of those communications involving Trump’s opponent, multiple times, over the course of several months, ending shortly before the election was held.
  • They kept almost perfectly silent about ongoing investigations into Trump and his campaign, specifically in regards to now-known interactions between Trump, his businesses and his campaign with Russian officials during said campaign.**
  • The FBI publicly stated that Russia, specifically, was attempting to exert influence on the 2016 election. At the time, they made no accusations of any kind nor linked said interference to either campaign.
  • When people began learning about Trump/his companies/his campaign’s involvement with Russian citizens, entities, government-affiliated companies and government officials, the FBI deferred all questions, offering little to no substantial information
  • The FBI director, mere weeks before the election, personally announced a return to the investigation into Trump’s opponent, long after the first investigation found no actionable criminal or civil violations.

***(see bottom)

If Jordan Pickford set out to prevent England from winning the cup, he did a similarly bad job. He was a rock in the goal. Stopped penalties, amazing strikes and surprise headers. Surely he could have let one in here or there. But all the while, it appeared to any objective observer that he was doing all he could to thwart his opponents rather than his own team.

The phrase ‘own team’ being operable because the vast majority of the FBI are registered Republicans. This is fact.

Thus, to suggest that the FBI was working on behalf of Hillary Clinton is the same as suggesting Jordan Pickford was working for Croatia and every other team England faced.

In which case they were both pathetically inept in achieving their intended result.

Which would mean all of those keepers of quality were cruelly duped in their respect for Pickford, as would be all the other LEOs of the nation in having any respect for the quality, stature and honor of the FBI.

And I find it difficult to posit that, in both cases, those entire nations could be so subverted with so little evidence left to prove such an act.

*The same press that then-candidate Trump named as enemies of the nation, whom he later not-so-slyly suggested were acceptable targets for murder

**While those investigations were later revealed, whether anything done was illicit or not is still to be determined. I don’t like the man, but we, as Americans, should be fair.

***I’ve personally seen teenage girls organize a more effective conspiracy to give someone they don’t like an unflattering nickname.

In: News, Other, PoliticsNo Comments

Wednesday April 11th, 2018 15:20 Fundamental Facebook filing flub

Mmmmmm…the alliteration.

But seriously, folks. A lot of people have been spending the last day and a half looking at or talking about this guy:

105122436-GettyImages-94438

There’s been an incredible amount of discussion of social responsibility on the part of social networks, whether social networks should be regulated, if social networks have become ubiquitous enough to warrant a government-sponsored takeover, and blahblahblah.

One problem: Facebook is not a social network.

Say it with me: Facebook is a market research and advertising platform.

It’s just one that conducts its business in an, honestly, revolutionary manner. Ol’ Creeptastic got the people to come to the advertising, instead of the other way around. That’s bloody brilliant.

Sure, it started as a ‘social network.’ But we didn’t even have the term back then. By the time that existed, FB had long since ceased to fit in the mold.

Take, for example, the subject broached by Sen. Chris Coons. He mentioned the fact that it took an entire year for FB to properly remove the options for advertisers to choose the race of the people they wanted to see their advertisements.

First off, I can’t take another breath without jumping for joy that not only was it Captain Cracker McGingerton who brought up FB’s tacit support of racial discrimination, but his name is Coons. Can’t make that stuff up.

Now, I am no longer a developer, nor was I ever on the level of Zuck or probably anyone that works for him.

But I know damn good and well that, at a social network, this is how things would go:

  1. Controversy begins, and eventually goes as far as to appear on TV news
  2. CEO sees controversy
  3. Every dev in the entire company gets an email to remove the federal-law-breaking feature from the site immediately
  4. That tick box is gone within the hour
  5. CEO goes on TV and says he’s sorry, this has been removed, and everyone involved has been fired

Conversely…

On an advertising platform with a massive global presence, it might take a good while for them to plan out how to remove that feature without losing too much revenue or pissing off the wrong people. A year sounds about right.

There is absolutely no possibility that this was a technical problem. The advertising part of FB is little more than a machine that prints money. There’s no old code sitting around. There’s no quirky workarounds that might throw things off. That thing is kept in perfect working order 24/7/365.

So, they could have stopped openly flaunting discrimination laws. They just didn’t didn’t do it right away.

This clearly shows that ads, not users, are the core of not only their profit strategy, but the company as a whole. You don’t risk openly breaking federal laws otherwise.

Thus, an advertising platform.

If we could just start thinking about it like that, all of these conversations will get a whole lot easier.

Also, if people could start dealing with the fact that, complicated TOS or not, they voluntarily agreed to let FB do every single thing they’re currently doing, that would help as well.

In: Computers, News, PoliticsNo Comments

Thursday April 5th, 2018 14:00 A soldier on police shootings

This is probably the most rational, calm, even-handed thing I’ve ever read on the topic. Coming from a guy who did his policing in a literal war zone, it’s pretty hard to disagree.

A few small excerpts:

In the months we were in Diyala, our troopers faced constant attacks. IEDs claimed lives. Men died to ambushes. Indirect fire was a frequent threat to our combat outposts. Our troopers fought pitched battles in the streets, called in air strikes, fired thousands of artillery rounds, and killed, wounded, and captured dozens of terrorists. By the end of the deployment, they’d reclaimed thousands of square kilometers from al-Qaeda and left it a broken, spent force.

Do you know how many innocent civilians we killed in that entire deployment, which spanned hundreds of engagements with the enemy? Exactly two. One to small-arms fire and one to a wayward artillery shell.

But rather than emphasizing odds, probabilities, and patterns, training sometimes fills cops’ minds with ideas like, “The worst can always happen” or, “Any encounter can go bad.” These statements are true, but incomplete. They’re not the same thing as saying, “Every encounter is equally likely to go bad.” Good officers, like good soldiers, know that each encounter takes place against the background of a much larger context, with multiple factors influencing the outcome.

A person can be concerned about officer safety and realize the truth that officer safety isn’t the mission. A person can believe blue lives matter and understand that accepting sometimes extraordinary risk is part of the job. A person can support the police and still demand a very high level of tactical and strategic awareness even from the youngest officers. To put them on the street is to declare to the public that they are up to the job.

In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Monday March 26th, 2018 12:27 Before the march

There is little that hasn’t been said about this weekend’s massive protests.

But I still find it difficult not to react when I look at a television and see an 11-year-old kid basically saying “People are being murdered and I can’t tell if anyone cares or if anyone is ever going to do something to stop it.”

When little girls can no longer live blissfully unaware of such horrors, we adults done screwed things up.

The weekend’s activity managed to lead me back to something one of the organizing youths said earlier this month:

But, he clarified, he doesn’t feel like he’s the one who should be calling for this. “I shouldn’t have to! I’m 17,” he said, but he and his classmates feel that adults — both voters and policymakers — have failed them. “When your old-ass parent is like, ‘I don’t know how to send an iMessage,’ and you’re just like, ‘Give me the fucking phone and let me handle it.’ Sadly, that’s what we have to do with our government; our parents don’t know how to use a fucking democracy, so we have to.”

Whichever way you lean in the debate, the point applies:

We have not, in all the many long years for which this has been a political sticking point, settled this question. Not in any way that everyone agrees on. Not in any way that either side agrees on. Not in any way at all.

We have left it to a bunch of teenagers who are only bothering to clean up our mess because it seems to them like the most effective way to avoid getting shot at school.

In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Whois

IT guy, dev, designer, writer.

Got a degree in print journalism from UF but history dealt some bad cards to that industry, so I moved back to an earlier love: the computer.

Was recently at ZMOS Networks, but am now the Senior IT Associate at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

My name is moderately common, as are a couple screen names, so always look for the logo to make sure you're reading something with official Km approval.

You can get to me directly with kyle(@)kylemitchell.org