Thursday, February 21, 2019
Last Train To Clarksville
Why teachers strike
From the pen of Bill Schorr
The Art of The Deal
Of course they don't like a real Green New Deal
R.I.P. Peter Halsten Thorkelson
You may have been Monkee-ing around on TV but you really could play and you were funny. Thanks for it all Peter Tork.
Fathers should listen to their sons
The more so if the father is an evangelical preacher who has spent a lifetime delivering lies and deceit from his pulpit. Unfortunately, Republican candidate Mark Harris did not listen to his son John when John told him several times he was hiring a crook.
Contradicting his father’s previous denials, the son of Republican Mark Harris testified Wednesday that he told the candidate multiple times that he had concerns about the political operative hired to run an absentee ballot campaign in Bladen County.As Shakespeare might have said, 'How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have an honest child'. And when that child is an assistant U.S. attorney it is not too smart to believe the crook.
The testimony from John Harris rebutted suggestions by Harris and his campaign that they’d seen no red flags about McCrae Dowless, who is now at the center of allegations into voting irregularities in the 9th Congressional District.
John Harris’ dramatic testimony came on the third day of a hearing by North Carolina’s State Board of Elections that could decide the nation’s last unresolved congressional race and has drawn national attention — and it left his father in tears.
“I love my dad and I love my mom,” John Harris said as his father cried. “I certainly have no vendetta against them, no family scores to settle, OK? I think they made mistakes in this process, and they certainly did things differently than I would have done them.”
His parents did not know he was going to testify.
John Harris, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of North Carolina, first raised concerns about ballot collection in Bladen County on the night of the Republican primary in 2016. Mark Harris finished second in that race, but third-place finisher Todd Johnson collected 221 of 226 mail-in absentee ballots in Bladen County in the race.
John Harris again raised concerns in April 2017, a day after Harris first met with Dowless about running an absentee ballot program in Bladen and Robeson counties. First in a phone call and then in subsequent emails, the younger Harris warned his father of both political and legal ramifications of hiring Dowless. Harris said his father told him McCrae assured them he operated legally.
“They believed what McCrae had assured them,” Harris testified. “I didn’t because I had done a deep dive into the numbers. ... I was right, unfortunately for all of us.”
The Pill Pushers
Trevor Noah on the opioid manufacturers
No one's going to take away your cows
Seth Meyers on Trump's Fake Moos
This land is your land....
Working faster than you think
An Enabling Act by any other name....
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Lake Street Dive
Trump has Vlad confused
Not a real emergency
An Orange Alert
Looking to avoid what little they do pay in taxes
The Big Swinging Dicks on Wall St are looking for ways to pillage the poor areas of America. To do so they plan to use a little noticed part of The 2017 Trump Tax Scam that gives them huge tax breaks for 'investing' in those areas.
Hedge funds, investment banks and money managers are trying to raise tens of billions of dollars this year for so-called opportunity funds, a creation of President Trump’s 2017 tax package meant to steer money to poor areas by offering potentially large tax breaks.Right now it is hard to lnow what will happen but even well intentioned investors will have to face the Law of Unintended Consequences. It is not hard to imagine that few of the investors will be well intentioned.
Little noticed at first, the provision has unleashed a flurry of investment activity by wealthy families, some of Wall Street’s biggest investors and other investors who want to put money into projects ostensibly meant to help struggling Americans. The ranks of those starting such funds include Anthony Scaramucci, the New York hedge fund executive who served briefly as Mr. Trump’s communications director.
More than 80 of the funds have sprung up since January 2018, even though the Trump administration has not finalized regulations governing them. Managers of the funds are seeking to raise huge sums of money by pitching investors on a combination of outsize returns and a feel-good role in fighting poverty.
The flood of capital is raising hopes as well as concerns. Those who championed the provision, which provides for a hefty tax break on long-term investments, believe the money can help distressed towns and neighborhoods that are still feeling the effects of the financial crisis and have barely benefited from the nine-year economic expansion. Skeptics worry that the funds will mostly target real estate and other projects that probably would have attracted investment even without the tax break, and may not deliver the returns being dangled.
The provision that created the funds was added to the tax law by Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, and had been supported by Democrats and Republicans in previous legislation. It provides capital gains tax relief for investors who finance projects in about 8,700 so-called opportunity zones spread across the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Local officials selected the zones from a group of areas deemed eligible for the designation under a federal formula that factors in income and poverty levels. The federal government has not finished setting guidelines for what types of projects qualify or what information fund managers must provide to investors and to the government.
The designated areas include heavily distressed tracts in cities like Detroit and Gary, Ind. But some zones are in gentrifying areas like the old downtown section of Las Vegas and parts of Long Island City, Queens, where Amazon said it would build a huge corporate campus before reversing course last week.
The advent of the funds has spawned conferences around the country and has drawn interest from a variety of financial players. So far, most of the funds have focused on real estate investments. Many of the Wall Street funds are geared toward major metropolitan areas on the East and West Coasts, particularly New York City. That has fueled concern that the tax break could help regions that already enjoy substantial investment.
If you need a political consultant
You may be well advised to steer clear of Andy Yates, co-founder of the Cornelius-based Red Dome Group. In testimony at the hearing regarding GOP ballot fraud in North Carolina's 9th district, Mr Yates admitted he believed that noted ratfucker McCrae Dowless was totally above board in his operations because Dowless told him so.
The Bladen County political operative at the center of possible election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District assured the top consultant for Republican Mark Harris’ campaign that he was running a legal operation throughout the 2018 election, the consultant said Tuesday.It would appear that Mr Yates did not work hard enough to protect his reputation and his business. In the world of Republican politics however, he may be making a name for himself in future campaigns.
And he believed McCrae Dowless through Harris’ upset victory in the primary and an apparent victory in the general election. He believed Dowless until Monday, the first day of testimony before the state board of elections into voting irregularities in the district.
“I don’t know what to believe about McCrae Dowless. I don’t know whether or not to believe anything Mr. Dowless ever told me,” said Andy Yates, co-founder of the Cornelius-based Red Dome Group, a political consulting firm.
Yates testified on the second day of the board’s hearing that Dowless knew the details of absentee ballot law well and preached that he and his workers were following it carefully. He spoke one day after workers for Dowless outlined the illegal collection of mail-in absentee ballots.
“I’ve worked too hard to build up my reputation in this business, worked too hard to build up Red Dome, to hire one person and let all that be torn down,” Yates said.
State board investigators on Monday said they had uncovered “a coordinated, unlawful and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme operated during the 2018 general election in Bladen and Robeson counties.” The counties are located within the 9th district. The state board has declined to certify results in the district. Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in unofficial totals.
Dowless, a convicted felon and elected official in Bladen County, is at the center of the investigation. Dowless declined to testify Monday unless he was granted immunity. Yates said Harris personally hired Dowless to conduct get-out-the-vote operations in Bladen County before Harris hired Yates.
“I felt Mr. Dowless was a done deal before I was even brought onto the campaign,” Yates testified.
In several hours of testimony, Yates explained Dowless’ relationship with the Harris campaign — chronicling near-daily phone conversations between himself and Dowless, Dowless’ craving of political information, “frequent conversations” between Harris and Dowless and how little oversight Red Dome had over Dowless, which did not require him to turn in printed invoices.
Stuck in old fashioned scandals
Stephen Colbert on Bernie
What it really means
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Where has all the money gone?
From the pen of Pat Bagley
The real emergency
From the pen of David Fitzsimmons
Somebody change his diaper, please.
He has so many stats
Clarence writes an opinion
And in this opinion he states that the court need to re-examine a 1964 libel ruling, New York Times v. Sullivan, that made the standard more difficult for a public official to sue for libel. With the Orange Hemorrhoid whining about everybody being mean to him, one has to believe this idea came from Ginny's lips to Clarence's ear at the request of OH.
ustice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday called for the Supreme Court to reconsider New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling interpreting the First Amendment to make it hard for public officials to prevail in libel suits.The is no way the Orange Hemorrhoid should have an easier path to suing citizens but Clarence likes his monthly bj so there is no way he will cross Ginny. Expect the Federalist Society to actively seek cases to work up to the Supremes so Clarence might get his wish.
He said the decision was the product of unprincipled “legal alchemy” that had no basis in the Constitution as understood by the people who drafted and ratified it.
“New York Times and the court’s decisions extending it were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law,” Justice Thomas wrote.
Justice Thomas, writing only for himself, made his statement in a concurring opinion agreeing that the court had correctly turned down an appeal from Katharine McKee, who has accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. She sued Mr. Cosby for libel after his lawyer accused her of dishonesty, and she lost based on cases stemming from the 1964 decision.
“I agree with the court’s decision not to take up” Ms. McKee’s case, Justice Thomas wrote. “I write to explain why, in an appropriate case, we should reconsider the precedents that require courts to ask it in the first place.”
“We did not begin meddling in this area until 1964, nearly 175 years after the First Amendment was ratified,” Justice Thomas wrote of the Sullivan decision, which placed constitutional limits on what had until then been state-law claims. “The states are perfectly capable of striking an acceptable balance between encouraging robust public discourse and providing a meaningful remedy for reputational harm. We should reconsider our jurisprudence in this area.”
Justice Thomas’s statement came in the wake of complaints from President Trump that libel laws make it too hard for public officials to win libel suits.
“I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money,” Mr. Trump said on the campaign trail. “We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.”
It is indeed hard for public figures to win libel suits. They have to prove that something false was said about them, that it harmed their reputation and that the writer acted with “actual malice.” That last term is misleading, as it has nothing to do with the ordinary meaning of malice in the sense of spite or ill will.
The sing-song that gets stuck in your head
The Invitation to a Wall Christening
The Moment of Truth
Monday, February 18, 2019
Leave Without You
The Republican stock in trade. And Tom Tomorrow shows us how through lies and distortions, the Republicans try to make us fear everything that will make our lives better.
Round and round we go
From the pen of Monte Wolverton
Just the beginning
Cyberattacks on US businesses by Chinese and Iranian hackers have greatly increased under The Orange Outrage at the same time as he underfunds or eliminates entirely US government efforts to stop them and protect us.
Businesses and government agencies in the United States have been targeted in aggressive attacks by Iranian and Chinese hackers who security experts believe have been energized by President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last year and his trade conflicts with China.As Trump breaks one agreement after another countries like China and Iran see no reason to respect any other agreements we may have. And with Russia gearing up for the next election and Trump working to remove any defense against their efforts we may see the re-election of the Golfing Cheez Doodle even if his family are the only ones who vote for him.
Recent Iranian attacks on American banks, businesses and government agencies have been more extensive than previously reported. Dozens of corporations and multiple United States agencies have been hit, according to seven people briefed on the episodes who were not authorized to discuss them publicly.
The attacks, attributed to Iran by analysts at the National Security Agency and the private security firm FireEye, prompted an emergency order by the Department of Homeland Security during the government shutdown last month.
The Iranian attacks coincide with a renewed Chinese offensive geared toward stealing trade and military secrets from American military contractors and technology companies, according to nine intelligence officials, private security researchers and lawyers familiar with the attacks who discussed them on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements.
A summary of an intelligence briefing read to The New York Times said that Boeing, General Electric Aviation and T-Mobile were among the recent targets of Chinese industrial-espionage efforts. The companies all declined to discuss the threats, and it is not clear if any of the hacks were successful.
Chinese cyberespionage cooled four years ago after President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping of China reached a landmark deal to stop hacks meant to steal trade secrets.
But the 2015 agreement appears to have been unofficially canceled amid the continuing trade tension between the United States and China, the intelligence officials and private security researchers said. Chinese hacks have returned to earlier levels, although they are now stealthier and more sophisticated.
“Cyber is one of the ways adversaries can attack us and retaliate in effective and nasty ways that are well below the threshold of an armed attack or laws of war,” said Joel Brenner, a former leader of United States counterintelligence under the director of national intelligence.
Federal agencies and private companies are back to where they were five years ago: battling increasingly sophisticated, government-affiliated hackers from China and Iran — in addition to fighting constant efforts out of Russia — who hope to steal trade and military secrets and sow mayhem. And it appears the hackers substantially improved their skills during the lull.
Russia is still considered America’s foremost hacking adversary. In addition to meddling widely and spreading disinformation during United States elections, Russian hackers are believed to have launched attacks on nuclear plants, the electrical grid and other targets.
Threats from China and Iran never stopped entirely, but Iranian hackers became much less active after the nuclear deal was signed in 2015. And for about 18 months, intelligence officials concluded, Beijing backed off its 10-year online effort to steal trade secrets.
With a rusty piece of rebar
John Oliver explains how Brexit will fuck England royally
Grand Theft Trump
Way above par solution
Covering his fat ass
Sunday, February 17, 2019
He said he could
From the pen of Nate Beeler
Trump salutes his followers
This is your pilot on Fox Fake News
Brexit? Now Move It
One legacy of the British Empire was the focus on London as the financial center of Europe.Even as part of the EU, the finacial center stayed and grew in London. And now in anticipation of Brexit all the banks that made London their European hub are parceling out their offices across Europe.
In Paris, an empty Art Deco postal office is on its way to becoming Bank of America’s headquarters for its European brokerage arm. Where telegraph operators once tapped out messages, hundreds of traders and sales people will be working by spring.London will still have its share of banks, it won't become some jerkwater branch office any time soon. But the dicks swinging in the City won't be as big as before.
In Frankfurt, Morgan Stanley’s European hub will double its staff of 200. Germany’s financial center, which wooed financial firms in London with a “Fall in love with Frankfurt” video, is welcoming investment bankers from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.
The financial landscape of Europe is changing as banks shift employees and hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of assets from London to new subsidiaries across the bloc in time for Britain’s divorce from the European Union, a process known as Brexit, on March 29.
Banks are adjusting contracts with “Brexit clauses” to protect themselves if the separation is chaotic. Lawyers are checking regulations, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, to gird for possible future contractual disputes.
Cities across the Continent have been vying for a piece of an industry that represents about 7 percent of Britain’s gross domestic product and more than a million jobs there.
Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin and Luxembourg will be the first to secure new business as financial services companies gauge how profitable London remains. In the next months, these cities, along with Madrid and Milan, will find more traders, compliance teams, human resource managers and technology workers in their midst. Amsterdam will become home to more European markets.
One big Brexit beneficiary is Dublin, where Bank of America, Citigroup and Barclays are expanding their ranks. “Dublin is our headquarters for our European bank now, full stop,” said Anne M. Finucane, vice chairwoman of Bank of America, which employs more than 800 people there.
“There isn’t a return. That bridge has been pulled up,” Ms. Finucane told the European Financial Forum on Wednesday. “From a trading perspective, likewise Paris would be the European trading arm.”
Since January, there have been near-daily revelations about what Britain stands to lose after leaving the European Union. Britain’s Office for National Statistics this week showed growth last year was the weakest since 2009, and growth in the last quarter was 0.2 percent.
Many financial companies are redeploying staff by the dozens — not the hundreds — because they are waiting to see whether the end is a messy breakup or a phased withdrawal, said David Pascoe, senior vice president for Europe at Cartus, a relocation company that moves 162,000 people a year.
So far, banks from the United States have relocated fewer than 1,000 employees from London. But the number could grow to 5,000 as the March deadline approaches, said banking officials and analysts.
“We’re seeing such a diverse range of cities because banks are saying they’re not going to be caught out again by having all their operations in one city,” Mr. Pascoe said. “They don’t want one country upsetting their operations again.”
Jost & Che on Trump's Wall
SNL more coherent than reality
The SNL cold open
He was all they knew
Saturday, February 16, 2019
Presidents set precedents
From the pen of Steve Sack
The Ravenous Beast
False like everything else about Trump
Between a rock and an Orange place
Presidents are allowed to have hairball ideas and the president's party will generally voice support for them, even if they have reservations and don't actually follow through. Up to now the Republican Party has voiced support for Mango Mussolini's hairball ideas but only voted for a few that they approved of, the balance of their efforts going to stifling the Democrats. Now Mango's naked power grab with his fake national emergency declaration has left the Republicans with their collective nuts in a salad shooter.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, spent the last two weeks hammering out a deal on federal spending and border security with colleagues from both parties, reassured by a sense that Congress was finally asserting itself as a civil, stabilizing force.The GOP Senate is so habituated to walking in lock step with the leadership that most can't imagine doing anything else. This will do great damage to the party unless the strength of the opposition to Der Trumpenfuehrer's junior varsity Enabling Act convinces them their political lives are in serious jeopardy if they don't stand up for our country. Time to let you MoC know what you think.
The feeling did not last. On Friday, President Trump mounted one of the most serious executive branch challenges to congressional authority in decades, circumventing Congress with an emergency declaration. It would allow him to unilaterally divert billions of dollars to a border wall and presented his Republican allies on Capitol Hill, who labored on a legislative compromise, with the excruciating choice of either defending their institution or bowing to his whims.
The president’s move left Senate Republicans sharply divided, and it remains to be seen whether they will act collectively to try to stop Mr. Trump or how far into uncharted territory they are willing to follow a headstrong president operating with no road map beyond his own demands.
“With him you always have to expect the unexpected,” said Ms. Capito, speaking on the phone from her kitchen in Charleston, W.Va., exhausted from a week of late-night talks at the Capitol.
The Republican resistance to Mr. Trump’s emergency declaration was much more pronounced in the Senate than in the House, where a few Republicans — in the minority but more closely aligned to Mr. Trump — groused. But most of the conservative rank and file embraced it.
After threatening to kill the spending compromise needed to keep the government open, Mr. Trump opted to cite a national emergency to pry loose additional funding to build a wall longer than the 55 miles in the bipartisan agreement. It was the divisive step that Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, Ms. Capito and most other Republicans in the Senate had forcefully urged him not to take, because it would establish a precedent they feared future Democratic presidents would use against them.
The decision left Mr. McConnell, a professed guardian of the Senate’s prerogatives and power, joining with Mr. Trump in supporting an executive branch end run greater than any of the incursions into the legislative process he often accused President Obama of pursuing. Fellow senators said Mr. McConnell, a former member of the Appropriations Committee, was unhappy with the declaration but saw it as the only way to pass the spending bill.
Some top Republicans, led by Mr. McConnell, pivoted quickly to say they supported the president’s action because it was the only option left to him after Congress failed to meet his demands for wall funding. Mr. McConnell has even begun offering the president strategic advice on how best to push his plan, aides said.
But Mr. McConnell is also warning Mr. Trump of the damage it could inflict on the party heading into the 2020 elections. Other Republicans portrayed it as a gross violation of the constitutional separation of powers, a blatant disregard by the president for Congress’s fundamental role in determining how federal dollars are spent.
“He is usurping congressional authority,” Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a veteran member of the Appropriations Committee, said in an interview. “If the president can reallocate for his purposes billions of dollars in federal funding that Congress has approved for specific purposes and have been signed into law, that has the potential to render the appropriations process meaningless.”
Several other Senate Republicans publicly and privately joined Ms. Collins in describing the move as a flagrant breach of congressional jurisdiction and a dangerous precedent. Their numbers raised the clear possibility that enough Republican defectors could join with Senate Democrats to provide a majority to disapprove of the president’s decision should the opportunity arise.
Four Republicans might be enough to join with Senate Democrats and pass legislation rebuking the president, and leadership aides put the number of potential defectors as high as 10. But the unrest seemed well short of the sort of partywide revolt necessary to override a veto by Mr. Trump of any legislative attempt to prevent his declaration of an emergency, leaving a legal challenge as the only recourse.
Buggywhip investors didn't like cars
Mitch "The Turtle" McConnell as Senate Majority Leader has plans to use the proposed Green New Deal as a weapon against the Democrats. The Turtle's opposition has some basis in politics, you don't want to give the other side any breaks. But Mitch has his own 'investment in buggywhips' or in his case coal.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to put Democratic presidential candidates in an uncomfortable position by forcing them to vote on the controversial Green New Deal being pitched by rising Democratic star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.Yes it is a cheap cynical ploy, that's what The Turtle does so well. However, in doing so he harms the people of Kentucky who are once again left with no means to recover from the decline of a failing industry. And the cynical ones are the mine owners who seek to suck as much as possible out of their properties before abandoning them and the people they have used up and will cast away. But they will stand with The Turtle because the Turtle will stand for them.
But he also wants to promote his own long-held support for not-so-green measures.
The Kentucky Republican routinely accused former President Barack Obama of waging a “war on coal” for imposing clean air standards on aging power plants.
And earlier this week, McConnell urged the Tennessee Valley Authority to keep open a coal-fired Kentucky power plant that the utility deemed unreliable and too expensive to repair.
“Kentuckians strongly oppose moving away from coal,” McConnell said in a video address to the utility that rejected his pitch Thursday, saying it wasn’t economically feasible to keep operating the final burner at the Paradise plant in Muhlenberg County.
“Coal has helped fuel our country’s greatness and it needs to be part of our energy future,” McConnell said.
The Green New Deal is a sweeping congressional resolution with few details but ambitious goals that aim to combat the effects of climate change. While it doesn’t mention coal, or oil and gas, it calls for meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the U.S. “through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.” It also calls for zero-emission vehicles and manufacturing.
While Kentucky is the third-leading state for coal production, the state has lost coal jobs in recent years, in part because the state doesn’t have as much metallurgical coal, used in steel making, as neighboring West Virginia. The number of jobs in Kentucky dropped to a record low of just over to 6,400 in 2018.
The loss of jobs, along with coal’s history in the state, leaves many lawmakers wary of what they see as overly aggressive efforts to combat climate change. They’re eager to shield the coal industry from further decline and to aid miners and their families.
In the Senate, McConnell has derided “show votes” that won’t clear the chamber, but this week he sped up the process to get the Democrats’ climate change measure to a vote, invoking the Senate rule that allows legislation to be brought directly to the Senate floor without committee consideration.
“I’ve noted with great interest the Green New Deal,” McConnell told reporters. “We’ll give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal.”
Democrats howled, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York accusing McConnell of a “cheap, cynical ploy.”
Trump claims to be human
Bill Maher rips the Puritans
What's in a name?
A lesson to be learned
Goodbye Old Friend
Friday, February 15, 2019
Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
Be afraid of the good in life
The new re-organized government
I want to hunt my own yogurt
Or a president with any values
Our national emergency
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