Monday, January 16, 2017

It only sounds the same

Some say wait until next week

And whatever horror comes out of the mouth of The Tangerine Shitgibbon will be reversed by a new statement, tweet of what have you. Tangerine's latest remarks may not fall under that rubric as it apply directly to what would make his master Putin all warm and fuzzy, the dismantling of NATO.
In comments that are likely to create fresh tensions with the United States’ closest European allies, President-elect Donald J. Trump described NATO as “obsolete” in an interview published on Sunday and said other European nations would probably follow Britain’s lead by leaving the European Union.

Mr. Trump has made similar comments before. But the fact that he made them in a joint interview with two European publications — The Times of London and Bild, a German newspaper — and did so days before assuming the presidency alarmed European diplomats.

“I took such heat when I said NATO was obsolete,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror. I took a lot of heat for two days. And then they started saying, ‘Trump is right.’”

Mr. Trump also said that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union would “end up being a great thing” and predicted that other countries would follow. “People, countries want their own identity, and the U.K. wanted its own identity,” he said.

He criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany over her decision to welcome more than one million migrants.

“I think she made one very catastrophic mistake, and that was taking all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from,” he said. “And nobody even knows where they come from.”

On Russia, Mr. Trump said he hoped to strike a deal with President Vladimir V. Putin to reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles. He suggested that such an agreement could be part of a broader easing of tensions that would include lifting economic sanctions imposed after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

“They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,” he said. “For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are going to benefit.”

Mr. Trump was critical of Russia’s military intervention in Syria, including airstrikes in Aleppo that American officials say have hit hospitals and killed civilians, saying it had led to a “terrible humanitarian situation.”

Strikingly, however, Mr. Trump painted Ms. Merkel, the leader of a staunch American ally, and Mr. Putin, the president of a country who has often had adversarial relations with Washington, with the same brush. He described them as leaders he would trust at the beginning of his presidency, but noted that this could quickly change.

“Well, I start off trusting both — but let’s see how long that lasts,” he said. “It may not last long at all.”
I really can't see The Tangerine Shitgibbon trusting Merkel for very long, but as to Putin, we all know he has no choice but to go along with what Pooty wants.

When the Labor Secretary

Is best known for his constant violations of labor law, the intent of the President who allegedly selected him becomes quite clear. Workers are exploitable and expendable and are only there to enrich their betters. Sadly this asshole Puzder thinks he is one of the betters.
At first, Andrew F. Puzder’s California story sounds like one of the state’s sunny dreams come true: Midwestern lawyer stumbles into burger business, nurses storied chain back to health, wins industry plaudits and record profits.

But Mr. Puzder became an outspoken critic of his adopted state because of its vigorous workplace regulations. The mandatory rest breaks required by California made no sense, he felt, leaving restaurants understaffed when a rush of customers came in. His company paid millions of dollars to settle class-action lawsuits that accused it of cheating workers.

He spoke out against labor laws intended to benefit hourly workers like the ones who serve shakes and mop floors at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, the chains he runs.

“California has gone really from being this golden state, the state of opportunity, to being a kind of nanny state,” he said in 2009. “You can’t be a capitalist in this state.”

In the months before California passed a law last year raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2022, many business leaders kept their objections discreet, but Mr. Puzder was blunt: “How do you pay somebody $15 an hour to scoop ice cream? How good could you be at scooping ice cream?” he asked.

Now Mr. Puzder is relocating his corporate headquarters to Tennessee — and planning his own move to Washington, to become President-elect Donald J. Trump’s labor secretary. His nomination is moving slowly, with confirmation hearings pushed back indefinitely, allowing Democrats and labor advocates to prepare a drumbeat of questions: Can the head of a company accused of shortchanging workers serve as their champion? Does Mr. Puzder want to lead the Labor Department, or dismantle it? Will he enforce rules his company has been accused of violating? How will Mr. Trump make good on his vision of capitalism that is unfettered by regulations, yet also helps those left behind?
Not every worker has the choice of where to work, but every CEO has the choice to make his workers lives a misery or not. Puzder is one of those misery shits.

Why Republicans always smile

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rhiannon Giddens - La Vie En Rose

This is for Paris, and Beirut, and Kenya, and Charleston, and so many others; for countless innocent people devastated by terrorism- which is just a word for organized hatred and inhumanity. We have to keep seeing the world in shades of rose- we have to keep hoping for peace and working for change and believing that with our art, our love, our knowledge, and most of all, our empathy and understanding for our fellow human beings, we can make a difference. -- Rhiannon Giddens

Soon to be Yugest Tree Ever!

From the pen of Bill Day

Have you made your Pussyhat yet?

In advance of the Women's March on Washington, thousands of knitting women have been preparing pink Pussyhats for the marchers, to the delight of the pink yarn industry.
“I wanted to do something more than just show up,” said the 29-year-old screenwriter who lives in downtown Los Angeles, recalling how her professors at the all-girls’ Barnard College in New York City urged her to think about problems. “How can I visually show someone what’s going on? And I realized as a California girl, I would be really cold in D.C. — it’s not tank-top weather year-round. So I thought maybe I could knit myself a hat.”

And so the “pussyhat project” was born. Knitters — mostly women — started crafting handmade pink caps with cat ears, a reference to Trump’s vulgar statements about grabbing women’s genitals, which were revealed in a leaked video shortly before the election.

What started as a project among Suh, Jayna Zweiman and other friends at the Little Knittery in Atwater Village has turned into a global movement. Knitting groups at yarn stores, cafes and coffee shops from Seattle to Martha’s Vineyard have been churning out hats, and craft stores have reported a run on pink yarn. As word spread on social media, thousands of hats — knit with skeins of thick magenta or fuchsia yarn — have been made around the world, including in Australia and Austria. They’re all being sent to collections spots around the country and a basement in Virginia ahead of the Saturday march.

Anja Liseth, 41, who lives in Bergen, Norway, learned about the project from fellow knitters’ pictures on Instagram and promptly spent five evenings stitching five hats. “Made with Norwegian wool,” she said proudly.

“I feel that my contribution is important, and that since I’ve knitted these hats, part of me is there at the demonstration,” Liseth said, adding that she was bewildered by Trump’s win and attributes it to misogyny. “It feels really important, it’s such a big issue for me, that I also can be there in a sense to demonstrate, because in Norway, we have gender equality in a lot of areas.”

Liseth was among many knitters who said an essential part of the project was that it allowed women who cannot attend the national march to contribute.

“We want to see a sea of pink” on the national mall, said Kat Coyle, the owner of the Little Knittery and Suh’s knitting instructor.

Coyle, 54, who lives in Silver Lake, is the one who came up with the design and decided to keep it simple in order to maximize participation. The pattern, which is available for free online, is effectively a rectangle. It is folded and sewn together, and once the wearer puts it on, the corners poke out like cat ears. Some knitters have embellished their caps with beads and sparkly thread.
The perfect accessory for a cold winter day. Keep the noggin warm and let the world see where you stand.

R.I.P. Dick Gauthier

And so another robot disappears from our lives, Farewell Hymie The Robot

As close as I ever want to get to Trump

Alec Baldwin

When did reality turn upside down?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

She could have sung the phone book to perfection

Instead Eva Cassidy gave us her takes on great songs such as the classic "God Bless The Child"

Trump's additions to the White House

From the pen of David Horsey

Oklahoma's Chicken Shit King

Granted the chicken shit came from Arkansas, but the efforts of Oklahoma's Attorney General to allow Arkansas chicken factories to continue fouling and polluting Oklahoma waters earned him that title. And now the man who never met an industrial polluter he wasn't happy to take money from is up for nomination as head of the EPA.
A legal fight to clean up tons of chicken manure fouling the waters of Oklahoma’s bucolic northeastern corner — much of it from neighboring Arkansas — was in full swing six years ago when the conservative lawyer Scott Pruitt took office as Oklahoma’s attorney general.

His response: Put on the brakes.

Rather than push for a federal judge to punish the companies by extracting perhaps tens of millions of dollars in damages, Oklahoma’s new chief law enforcement officer quietly negotiated a deal to simply study the problem further.

The move came after he had taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from executives and lawyers for the poultry industry.

It was one of a series of instances in which Mr. Pruitt put cooperation with industry before confrontation as he sought to blunt the impact of federal environmental policies in his state — against oil, gas, agriculture and other interests. His antipathy to federal regulation — he sued the Environmental Protection Agency 14 times — in many ways defined his tenure as Oklahoma’s attorney general.

Now, Mr. Pruitt, tapped to head Donald J. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, will have the opportunity to engineer a radical shift in Washington. If confirmed by the Senate, he is expected to shelve the Obama administration’s aggressive environmental enforcement and embrace a more collaborative approach with the industries that the agency is charged with policing, many of which have helped him advance his political career.

The impact would stretch from the nation’s waterways to the planet’s climate, since the E.P.A. carries out and enforces rules to combat global warming.

“He has advocated and stood up for the profits of business, be it the poultry companies or the energy industry and other polluters, at the expense of people who have to drink the water or breathe the air,” said Mark Derichsweiler, who led the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality division responsible for overseeing the poultry-related cleanup. Mr. Derichsweiler retired in 2015 after 40 years with the state, frustrated with Mr. Pruitt’s approach.
Scott Pruitt has spent his time as Oklahoma AG suing the EPA to prevent its efforts to make water clean and air breathable. As head of the EPA he will be able to kill the EPA efforts in the cradle.

A session on Sessions

From Samantha Bee

Inaugural Logo?

Friday, January 13, 2017

New one from Band-Maid

In time for the Inauguration? "Don't You Tell Me"

If the press had any balls

From the pen of Kevin Siers

R.I.P. William Peter Blatty

Author of The Exorcist. I raise a cup of pea soup to your memory.

Your district has the highest number of enrollees

The success of the Affordable Care Act was nowhere greater than in the district of Congresswoman Ilena Ros-Lehtinen of Miami. To a decent caring human being the upcoming repeal vote in Congress would be a difficult dilemma. For Ms. Ros-Lehtinen no such problem, repeal she must.
There are 96,300 people enrolled in the Florida district represented by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, the highest number in the country, according to estimates by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Her district is followed closely by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, whose southwest Miami-Dade and Monroe County district has 92,500 enrolled in the insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, who opposes rescinding the law, has the third-greatest number at 94,100, followed by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, whose Hialeah to Naples district has 83,300 enrolled.

“These numbers should give them pause," said Dr. Mona Mangat, Florida-based board chairman of Doctors for America.

"These are not just numbers, they're people," said Mangat, an allergist in St. Petersburg. "These are people whose lives have been saved or changed because of the Affordable Care Act."

But will the high take-up rates cause Ros-Lehtinen, Diaz-Balart and Curbello to reconsider their support for repeal?

Ros-Lehtinen acknowledged that many in her district are worried about losing what she called the “positive aspects” of President Barack Obama’s signature law, including keeping children on their parents’ insurance through 26 and covering pre-existing conditions.

But Ros-Lehtinen argued that Obamacare – which she has consistently voted to oppose – “has been in an unsustainable downward spiral” since it started. She said the program needs “extensive changes” to sustain it, including eliminating the individual and employer mandates, which Democrats argue are key to expanding care to people who can not afford insurance.

Ros-Lehtinen cited a plan authored by Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, as a potential starting place.

But Democrats warn that Republicans, who have yet to coalesce around a replacement plan for Obamacare, are courting disaster in the insurance markets by looking to take apart the law. Democrats are planning a “Day of Action” on Saturday in various cities to mobilize grassroots opposition to the plan to roll back the act.

“While the Republicans may have an ideological opposition to the Affordable Care Act, they have to understand what it means in cost to their constituents’ cost in benefits, cost in quality of service, cost in access and cost in dollars,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “We’re hoping that they will listen.”

Diaz-Balart, who has also voted repeatedly to repeal the law, said he has been listening to his constituents and hears mostly complaints: Costs are increasing and doctors are increasingly unwilling to accept people with Obamacare, he said.
Like good little Republican boot lickers all, they areparroting the lies about ACA knowing full well it is all bullshit. Their hope, and not too far fetched a hope, is that the people who voted for them will forget by the next election that these good Republicans were the ones who screwed thwm.

Privilege has its cost

Sam Bee examines White Privilege

Believe me

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Not just another train song

Not when Eliza Gilkyson sings a song her father wrote, "Fast Freight"

Trust them

From the pen of Lee Judge

One little bit more won't hurt

In the waning days of the Obama administration, new rules for the NSA will allow the agency to share intercepted communications with the 16 other spy agencies in the US government without triggering privacy concerns.
The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch signed the new rules, permitting the N.S.A. to disseminate “raw signals intelligence information,” on Jan. 3, after the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., signed them on Dec. 15, according to a 23-page, largely declassified copy of the procedures.

Previously, the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The N.S.A.’s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information.

Now, other intelligence agencies will be able to search directly through raw repositories of communications intercepted by the N.S.A. and then apply such rules for “minimizing” privacy intrusions.

“This is not expanding the substantive ability of law enforcement to get access to signals intelligence,” said Robert S. Litt, the general counsel to Mr. Clapper. “It is simply widening the aperture for a larger number of analysts, who will be bound by the existing rules.”

But Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the move an erosion of rules intended to protect the privacy of Americans when their messages are caught by the N.S.A.’s powerful global collection methods. He noted that domestic internet data was often routed or stored abroad, where it may get vacuumed up without court oversight.
So 17 government agencies can sift through your raw data without restraint. And those agencies include all the private contractors they have hired. So there is a fair chance that half the United States will get a loot at your communications. And after January 20, so will Pooty.

Samantha's Letter of the Day - Pee

You Are Screwed

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

She's got this song

Rhiannon Giddens pays a fine tribute to Patsy Cline with her own magnificent "She's Got You"

Oh! that poor moth

From the pen of Benson


The standard procedure for going after large corporate criminals has been for a negotiated settlement involving an appropriately small payment of fines and recompense for the injured parties lawyers. The corporate criminal was usually allowed to neither admit or deny wrongdoing and promise never to do it again to avoid besmirching their spotless reputation. This is about to change with Volkswagen.
Volkswagen is on the verge of pleading guilty to criminal charges and paying $4.3 billion in fines, in a deal that would resolve a federal criminal investigation into its cheating on vehicle emissions tests, the automaker said on Tuesday.

The expected guilty plea and the recent arrest of a Volkswagen executive on conspiracy charges buck a pattern of companies essentially paying their way out of criminal accusations. While companies often face large fines for wrongdoing, it is far less common for them to admit to breaking the law.

As a result of the deal, Volkswagen could be required to cooperate with investigations into individual company employees, accelerating the pace of those cases.

A guilty plea would also be likely to weaken the company’s ability to defend itself against investigations by state attorneys general, and against lawsuits brought by shareholders who accuse Volkswagen of waiting too long to disclose the financial risk of its emissions cheating.

According to two people briefed on the settlement, Volkswagen is expected to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act, customs violations, and obstruction of justice. The people could not talk publicly about the deal because it was not yet final. Many of the 600,000 cars in the United States equipped with the emissions-cheating software were imported from Germany or Mexico.

The $4.3 billion in fines covers criminal and civil aspects of the government’s case, including environmental and customs-related penalties. The fines would bring the total cost of the scandal to Volkswagen in the United States to $20 billion, including settlements of civil suits by car owners, certainly one of the most costly corporate scandals in history.

The details of the deal, which requires the approval of the company’s management and supervisory boards, were provided by Volkswagen in a financial disclosure on Tuesday. Volkswagen said in the disclosure that money it had set aside for scandal-related costs would be insufficient to cover the latest agreement. A vote on the matter could come on Wednesday.
The world would be a better place if Holder had done this sort of settlement with the banksters and mortgage fraudsters.

Seth Meyers explains the confirmation hearings

That might be all it takes

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Preacher's Daughter

Maggie Rose

Replacing ACA with Vaporcare

From the pen of Phil Hands

A curiously muted response

If you were part of an industry that stood to lose millions of customers and Billions of dollars in revenue at the hands of a bunch of anarchic yahoos, what would you do? You would probably want to be a little more energetic in your response than the health insurance industry int the face of ACA repeal.
The speed of Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act has stunned health industry lobbyists, leaving representatives of insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical makers in disarray and struggling for a response to a legislative quick strike that would upend much of the American health care system.

The Senate is expected to take the first step by Thursday morning, approving parliamentary language in a budget resolution that would fast-track a repeal bill that could not be filibustered in the Senate. House and Senate committees would have until Jan. 27 to report out repeal legislation. Health insurance and health care for millions of Americans are at risk.

But far from reflecting the magnitude of the moment, the most prominent message from lobbyists that lawmakers saw in their first week back at work was a narrowly focused advertisement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce demanding the repeal of “Obamacare taxes,” especially an annual fee imposed on health insurance companies to help pay for the expansion of coverage under the health law.

“More than 20 million people could lose their health insurance, and states could lose billions of dollars in Medicaid money,” said Kenneth E. Raske, the president of the Greater New York Hospital Association. But, he added, many health care executives “don’t want to get on the wrong side of the new administration or the Republican majority in Congress.”

Health care professionals are not totally silent, but industries that were integral to the creation of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 are keeping their voices down as Republicans rush to dismantle it. Some Republican lawmakers are openly fretting about their leaders’ repeal strategy, saying they must develop an Affordable Care Act replacement before they repeal it. Five Republican senators proposed on Monday to extend the deadline for drafting repeal legislation by five weeks, until March 3. One of the five, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, said the extra time would allow Congress and the Trump administration to “get the policy right” as they try to arrange a smooth transition to a new system of health coverage.

But the naysayers are getting no cover from a major lobbying and advertisement blitz like the ones that blanketed the airwaves in 2009 and 2010.

To block the repeal effort, said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, “we need two or three Republicans to join us.”
Others in the health care industry lobbyists are marshaling their resources, but the insurance lobbyists seem to be setting their sights on shaping the currently chimerical replacement for ACA, no doubt to insure maximum profit with minimum service delivery. At this point the only ones not worried are the insane right wing yahoos who hate anything that may help people and those who don't care if Obamacare is repealed, they have their ACA coverage.

Former Lt Gen turned Russian agent?

Despite the reality before his eyes, Trump's National Security Adviser remains adamant that we should be cooperating with the Russian spy agencies against the Salafists and other extremists seeking to do us harm.
Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice for national security adviser, traveled to Moscow about a year after he took charge of the Defense Intelligence Agency to cultivate what he saw as natural allies in the fight against Islamist militants: Russia’s spy agencies.

It was June 2013, a briefly optimistic moment for both the Americans and Russians, and Mr. Flynn hoped to take advantage of it. During the trip, he met with the chief of the Russian military intelligence unit known as the G.R.U. — the same agency that has since been implicated in interference in the 2016 presidential election — and held an hourlong discussion with midranking officers at its headquarters.

Relations with Moscow have soured significantly since then, yet Mr. Flynn has grown only more vehement about the need for the United States to cultivate Russia as an ally. He even returned to Moscow in 2015, a year after he was forced into retirement from the Defense Intelligence Agency, to give a paid speech for RT, the Russian English-language news organization, which American intelligence agencies have deemed a propaganda tool in the Russian election-meddling.

During that trip he also tried repeatedly to meet officers at the C.I.A’s station in Moscow — housed inside the American Embassy — to press for closer ties with Russia’s spies. But C.I.A. officers in Moscow, who have an adversarial relationship with Russia, declined to meet with him.

Now, as Mr. Flynn, 58, prepares to play a leading role in setting national security priorities in the Trump White House, his pro-Russian tilt stands in striking opposition to the judgments of the intelligence agencies he will help oversee. In an extraordinary report released last week, the agencies bluntly accused the Russian government of having worked to undermine American democracy and promote the candidacy of Mr. Trump.

The report is likely to renew questions about Mr. Flynn’s avowed eagerness to work with Russia, and his dismissal of concerns about President Vladimir V. Putin, which have at times exceeded even that of Mr. Trump himself. Neither has shown any indication of being swayed by the intelligence report on Russian meddling, and the two will within weeks be in a position to reorder American priorities in favor of closer ties with Moscow.

Any shift toward Moscow would very likely put the new administration in direct conflict with senior military commanders and intelligence officials, as well as powerful Republicans, like Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. It may also rankle some of Mr. Trump’s own cabinet nominees — Gen. James N. Mattis, his choice for defense secretary, and Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas, the nominee for C.I.A. director, pushed the Obama administration to take a harder line on Russia.
Most people forget that Flynn was fired from the DIA because his obsession with all things Muslim, to the exclusion of all other threats, became delusional. It reminded too many people of Sterling Hayden's Gen Jack D Ripper and his obsession with bodily fluids in Dr. Strangelove. And we remember how that turned out.

Trump 1, America 0

Colbert gives a shout-out to Meryl Streep

Remember this when they talk about fixing things

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