Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Transitioning Out Of Reality
Make the Yuletide Not So Bright
Some things The Dude just can't abide
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
New wave protest
Lily Kershaw sings "Miss America"
Flags have no big words to confuse
Our Good Friends
For 15 years we have been wasting lives and Billions of dollars in Shitholsistan, the world's most famous sand trap. And as we try to get out of it Afghan leaders are turning to the only country that can help, the country that has financed the Taliban since its inception, Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is critical because of its unique position in the Afghan conflict: It is on both sides.Fifteen years of waste and the idea that this was unknown is beyond belief.
A longtime ally of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has backed Islamabad’s promotion of the Taliban. Over the years, wealthy Saudi sheikhs and rich philanthropists have also stoked the war by privately financing the insurgents.
All the while, Saudi Arabia has officially, if coolly, supported the American mission and the Afghan government and even secretly sued for peace in clandestine negotiations on their behalf.
The contradictions are hardly accidental. Rather, they balance conflicting needs within the kingdom, pursued through both official policy and private initiative.
The dual tracks allow Saudi officials plausibly to deny official support for the Taliban, even as they have turned a blind eye to private funding of the Taliban and other hard-line Sunni groups.
The result is that the Saudis — through private or covert channels — have tacitly supported the Taliban in ways that make the kingdom an indispensable power broker.
In interviews with The New York Times, a former Taliban finance minister described how he traveled to Saudi Arabia for years raising money while ostensibly on pilgrimage.
The Taliban have also been allowed to raise additional millions by extorting “taxes” by pressing hundreds of thousands of Pashtun guest workers in the kingdom and menacing their families back home, according to Vali Nasr, a former State Department adviser.
Yet even as private Saudi money backed the Taliban, Saudi intelligence once covertly mediated a peace effort that Taliban officials and others involved described in full to The Times for the first time.
Playing multiple sides of the same geopolitical equation is one way the Saudis further their own strategic interests, analysts and officials say.
But it also threatens to undermine the fragile democratic advances made by the United States during the past 15 years, and potentially undo efforts to liberalize the country.
He wants to keep his gold plated toilet
Not even in office yet and The Great Orange Fungus is trying to cancel a contract for a new Air Force One from Boeing. The Manhattan Mental Midget seems to think the cost of a new plane is outrageous. This is the same guy who will force the country to pay yuge sums for his protection because the White House, which is set up for his protection, is beneath his tasteless style.
The post appeared to come out of the blue: Mr. Trump had not focused during the campaign on the cost of Boeing’s plans for a next-generation plane for the president.Maybe when they tell him that for his plane to be Air Force One, they will have to paint over his name, he might relent. But then again the idea of not settling his saggy old cheeks on a gold plated toilet seat must be a horrifying idea for him. It might force him to live full time in Trump Tower in NYC to soothe his agitated pea brain.
And his criticism of the contract to build on a newer Boeing 747-8 airframe raised the possibility that he might prefer to keep flying his own, well-appointed 757.
The Secret Service and the Defense Department might object to Mr. Trump keeping his own airplane. Beyond convenience, Air Force One carries an array of top-secret communications gear for conducting everyday business — and for managing a global crisis, if required, while aloft. It is also equipped with a number of never discussed security features.
The current Air Force One, with its white and blue design recognizable around the globe, is aging. There are actually two of the Boeing 747-200B planes, each bearing the famous call sign only when the president is aboard. The Air Force designates them VC-25A.
They were commissioned by President Ronald Reagan and delivered during the term of his successor, President George Bush. The new plane, which the Defense Department had hoped to deliver to the White House by 2023, would have been more powerful, able to travel farther and more technologically advanced.
But given Mr. Trump’s Twitter post, it is unclear when — or whether — Air Force One will get an upgrade.
The care and nurture of The Big Lie
Samantha Bee shows us how one piece of Republican bullshit became America's favorite sandwich filling.
A true prophet
Monday, December 05, 2016
One of their early favorites
"A Bar In Amsterdam" has remained a crowd favorite with Katzenjammer fans
The Evolution of the Electoral College
As described by the fantastic Tom Tomorrow, who was probably there.
Their bank accounts come in many diverse sizes
46% of Americans are Heartless Fools
That is the percentage of people who believe that there any value in torture. Torture is a war crime made illegal by several treaties and laws of the United States. And according to trained interrogators, torture is worthless and ruins any information that the victim may have had.
The findings on torture were among the starkest. Among Americans, 46 percent said torture could be used to obtain information from an enemy combatant, while 30 percent disagreed and the rest said they did not know. On a more general question, one in three said torture was “part of war,” just over half called it “wrong,” and the rest said they did not know or preferred not to answer.It seems that you need to let your country be run by people like Dick Cheney and Bugsy Netanyahu to think torture will get you anything.
Torture is a war crime, according to international law. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said recently that she had reasonable grounds to open an investigation into allegations of torture by American forces in Afghanistan.
On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump endorsed waterboarding, claiming that “it works.” He has suggested a shift in thinking since his election, saying that his nominee for defense secretary, Gen. James N. Mattis, believes there are more effective tactics for extracting important information from detainees.
In the survey, only Israelis, Palestinians and Nigerians seemed to endorse torture as enthusiastically as Americans. In Afghanistan, by contrast, 83 percent of those surveyed said torture was wrong; in Colombia, that number was 85 percent.
Worldwide, two-thirds of those surveyed said torture was wrong, though on the more specific question of whether it could be used to extract information from an enemy fighter, just under half said it was wrong.
He once lived in public housing
And now believes that others should not get the same benefit he did. Ben Carson, Brain Surgeon and Thoroughly Incompetent Human Being has been named as The Great Orange Fungus's choice for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
“Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” Mr. Trump said in a statement Monday morning. “We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities.”The only possible hope is that Dr. Ben is too unqualified to act upon GOF's agenda, which likely consists of tearing down all low cost housing and putting up more gold plated Trump Towers.
“Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans,” he added. “He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”
With no experience in government or running a large bureaucracy, Mr. Carson, 65, publicly waffled over whether to join the administration. He will oversee an agency with a $47 billion budget, bringing to the job a philosophical opposition to government programs that encourage what he calls “dependency” and engage in “social engineering.”
He has no expertise in housing policy, but he did spend part of his childhood in public housing, said a close friend, Armstrong Williams, and he was raised by a dauntless mother with a grammar-school education. In his autobiography he stressed that individual effort, not government programs, were the key to overcoming poverty.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees programs that provide vouchers and other rental assistance for five million low-income families, fights urban blight and helps struggling homeowners stave off foreclosures.
Idiot-Child Trump tweets insults at China
And China responds with diplomatic warnings that our Stupid As Fuck President Elect is on the verge of making serious problems real in China-US relations.
China warned President-elect Donald J. Trump on Monday that he was risking a confrontation over Taiwan, even as Mr. Trump broadened the dispute with new messages on Twitter challenging Beijing’s trade policies and military activities in the South China Sea.What the Chinese will probably do is delegitimize Donny and ignore him. They will deal with and take their cues from those around him at the next level down. Neither country can afford to eliminate the One China policy but the Chinese are better able to conduct economic warfare.
A front-page editorial in the overseas edition of People’s Daily, the official organ of the Communist Party of China, denounced Mr. Trump for speaking Friday with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, warning that “creating troubles for the China-U.S. relationship is creating troubles for the U.S. itself.” The rebuke was much tougher than the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s initial response to the phone call, which broke with decades of American diplomatic practice.
For his part, Mr. Trump seemed to take umbrage at the idea that he needed China’s approval to speak with Ms. Tsai. In two posts on Twitter, he wrote: “Did China ask us if it was O.K. to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!”
China often uses the overseas edition of People’s Daily to test-run major policy pronouncements. In a pointed rejoinder to Mr. Trump, the editorial said that pushing China on Taiwan “would greatly reduce the chance to achieve the goal of making America great again.”
By going after China’s policies on trade and security, Mr. Trump appeared to be confirming his intent to take a tougher line with the Chinese leadership across a broader range of issues — and further dampened hopes in Beijing that he might step back from the campaign rhetoric he has used, including threats of punishing trade tariffs.
That could put President Xi Jinping in a difficult position, forced to choose between playing down Mr. Trump’s attacks and risking a backlash at home, or raising the stakes by pushing back more forcefully and setting China on a potential collision course with the United States, its most important trading partner.
To replace the Naval Observatory Clock
Sunday, December 04, 2016
Murder has always been a popular theme
In the musical folk tradition. So popular that it occasionally shows up in musical theater such as this example, "Miss Otis Regrets" by Cole Porter. Ethel Waters made one of the first recordings.
Much too close to reality
Having severely punished Carrier
By turning the few jobs "saved" through his flunky Mike Pence's efforts into profit centers for the company, The Great Orange Fungus is blustering that anyone else who tries it will be smacked down with a yuge tariff.
President-elect Donald Trump fired another warning shot Sunday at U.S. companies considering moving their operations out of the country, threatening “retributions or consequences” such as a hefty border tax if they do.Talk tough with this mouth and tweets but give away the store when it is time to deal. No doubt about it, Carrier exposed just what corporations can expect from Mr. Bluster.
The pronouncements came in a string of early morning tweets. Trump said he intends to incentivize businesses to stay in America by lowering corporate taxes and slashing regulations, two key components of his economic agenda. But he also warned that companies with offshore factories would face a 35 percent tariff on goods sold back to the United States.
Trump’s comments follow his direct intervention in an Indiana factory owned by Carrier, which makes heating and air-conditioning units, where production was scheduled to shift to Mexico. Trump announced last week that he had negotiated a deal to keep the plant in the state. Indiana promised to provide Carrier about $7 million in incentives, while the company would invest $16 million in the factory over the next two years.
On the stump, Trump espoused an aggressively protectionist stance toward international trade, and his skepticism of the benefits of globalization resonated with many middle-class voters who bore the brunt of its downside.
But since his election, his advisers have softened some of his most heated rhetoric. Trump’s picks for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, said that they would pursue bilateral trade agreements with other countries but remained wary of sweeping regional deals. Ross also said that blanket double-digit tariffs on goods from Mexico and China — which many economists warned could spark a damaging trade war — would only be used as a last resort.
But Trump’s comments Sunday indicate that he is not backing away from one key pledge: to punish companies that offshore jobs.
“We're living through the greatest jobs theft in the history of the world,” Trump said last week.
Trump celebrated the Carrier deal with a tour of the factory last week, followed by a rally in Cincinnati to kick off his “thank you” tour.
SNL burns the Twit with the Tweets
Hear It Sunday, Forget It The Other 6 Days
Saturday, December 03, 2016
Lovin' In My Baby's Eyes
Covered by Shannon McNally
To Protect and Serve
R.I.P. Peng Chang-kuei
You created the original General Tso's Chicken and the NY Times details how it turned into the slop we eat today.
Lyin' Ryan and Dr Death agree
The top priority of the Republican Congress is the repeal of the ACA, ending health insurance for 20 Million people. The effective date will be pushed out beyond the next election to help them keep their seats. It will also let them tell enough lies to convince people they didn't lose anything and it they did, the Republicans didn't do it.
Republicans in Congress plan to move almost immediately next month to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as President-elect Donald J. Trump promised. But they also are likely to delay the effective date so that they have several years to phase out President Obama’s signature achievement.Nobody will get anything from this pack of thieves but if their usual strategys work, the fools that are harmed will blame the wrong people.
This emerging “repeal and delay” strategy, which Speaker Paul D. Ryan discussed this week with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, underscores a growing recognition that replacing the health care law will be technically complicated and could be politically explosive.
Since the law was signed by Mr. Obama in March 2010, 20 million uninsured people have gained coverage, and the law has become deeply embedded in the nation’s health care system, accepted with varying degrees of enthusiasm by consumers, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and state and local governments.
Unwinding it could be as difficult for Republicans as it was for Democrats to pass it in the first place and could lead Republicans into a dangerous cul-de-sac, where the existing law is in shambles but no replacement can pass the narrowly divided Senate. Democrats would face political pressure in that case as well.
It is not sheer coincidence that at least one idea envisions putting the effective date well beyond the midterm congressional elections in 2018.
“We are not going to rip health care away from Americans,” said Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which shares jurisdiction over health care. “We will have a transition period so Congress can develop the right policies and the American people can have time to look for better health care options.”
Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the Senate health committee, said: “I imagine this will take several years to completely make that sort of transition — to make sure we do no harm, create a good health care system that everyone has access to, and that we repeal the parts of Obamacare that need to be repealed.”
He is not in the China market
Which is probably why he called the President of Taiwan, which has a population of 25 Million and maybe soon a Trump resort. In doing so he effectively insulted the government of China which has a population of 1.4 Billion and nothing with the Trump name on it.
Breaking decades of American diplomatic practice, he caught the Chinese government off guard by lunging into the most sensitive of its so-called core interests, the “One China” policy agreed to by President Richard M. Nixon more than four decades ago.Perhaps Donny's corporate "buddies" will make it clear to him that Taiwan is nothing compared to the China market and if they choose, China can make a lot of American companies scream and Donny can't bribe Beijing.
“This is a wake-up call for Beijing — we should buckle up for a pretty rocky six months or year in the China-U.S. relationship,” Wang Dong, an associate professor at the School of International Studies at Peking University, said Saturday. “There was a sort of delusion based on overly optimistic ideas about Trump. That should stop.”
Chinese leaders covet stability in their relationship with Washington, and perhaps for that reason, they have allowed fairly rosy assessments of Mr. Trump to appear in the state-run news media. Many of those accounts have depicted the president-elect as a practical operator devoid of ideology, the kind of person China might find common ground with despite his threats of a trade war.
In the hope of maintaining a relatively smooth relationship as Mr. Trump begins his administration, Beijing will probably take a wait-and-see attitude despite his phone call with Ms. Tsai, said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University.
Indeed, China’s first official reaction, from Foreign Minister Wang Yi, was fairly benign — though it was firm in reiterating the One China policy, under which the United States formally recognized Beijing as China’s sole government in 1978 and broke ties with Taiwan a year later. No American president or president-elect had spoken to a Taiwanese president since then.
Mr. Wang blamed Ms. Tsai’s government for arranging the call. “It won’t stand a chance to change the One China policy agreed upon by the international community,” he said.
A follow-up statement from the Foreign Ministry on Saturday, noting that the ministry had filed a formal complaint with the United States government, was similar in tone. It urged “relevant parties in the U.S.” to “deal with the Taiwan issue in a prudent, proper manner.”
Colbert scorches Trump & Leprechauns
Another good idea
Friday, December 02, 2016
When Canadians cover Chuck Berry
You get the husband/wife duo of Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet k/a Whitehorse singing "Nadine"
After 50 years what else can they do?
We mourn the loss of two memorable characters
Rest In Peace
Milt Moss, who really did eat that whole thing.
Andrew Sachs, who served maybe not so well at Fawlty Towers, Que?
Trying very hard to stop an accurate vote count
In another effort to twist words beyond any imaginable meaning, Republicans and their running dogs are working desperately hard to prevent recounts in the three states where Republican efforts at election fraud came closest to the surface.
Supporters of President-elect Donald J. Trump have filed legal challenges in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan in a suddenly robust effort to stop the presidential election recount efforts there.Donald's remarkable ability to project on others his own actions makes his calls about election rigging all the more plausible. And now the party is compelled to bring out the big guns and if possible distort the law to prevent any untoward discoveries of its signature election frauds.
Bill Schuette, the attorney general of Michigan, said that the recount, initiated by Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, put Michigan voters at risk of “paying millions and potentially losing their voice in the Electoral College in the process.”
“This court cannot allow a dilatory and frivolous request for a recount by an aggrieved party to silence all Michigan votes for president,” Mr. Schuette, a Republican, said in a court filing.
A lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission filed in Federal District Court by the Great America PAC, the Stop Hillary PAC and Ronald R. Johnson, a Wisconsin resident, argued that the recount could “unjustifiably cast doubt” on Mr. Trump’s victory in that state.
The plaintiffs argued that the recount, which began across the state’s 72 counties on Thursday morning, should be halted immediately, in part because there is a substantial chance that it cannot be accurately completed by the deadline of Dec. 12. In 2011, a statewide recount took close to a month.
In Michigan on Friday, where the recount is still pending, the Board of State Canvassers met to consider an objection to the recount by Mr. Trump.
Lawyers for Mr. Trump told the canvassing board, which is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, that it should not allow a recount to proceed, describing it as needless, too expensive and not required by Michigan law. Besides, Ms. Stein came nowhere near winning the state.
“This recount petition is absolutely unprecedented in the history of Michigan election law,” said Gary Gordon, a lawyer for Mr. Trump and his campaign.
A lawyer for Ms. Stein, Mark Brewer, said Mr. Trump’s campaign was making a “desperate attempt” to avoid a recount. “I would remind everybody that the original source of the allegation that this election was rigged was Mr. Trump,” Mr. Brewer told the board.
Colbert on Trump Presidential Text Capability
This is Pay-To-Play
Thursday, December 01, 2016
Another Brooklyn based band
Whose members came from all over the country to the center of the universe, New York City. Oakley Hall does "Take My Hand, We're Free" from their 2007 album I'll Follow You.
It's a vision thing
In the upside down world of Trump ethics
His most often repeated accusation against Hillary Clinton may be, in Donny's eyes, David Petraeus's highest recommendation.
Donald Trump, on the campaign trail, would occasionally compare the criminal investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information to the case of former CIA director David Petraeus. In Trump’s view, Petraeus, who pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information, was pursued unfairly, while Clinton deserved to be treated more harshly.Besides, the general is a man with a mistress, unlike HRC and Donny.
“The system is rigged,” Trump tweeted after the FBI recommended Clinton not be charged. “General Petraeus got in trouble for far less. Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment.”
That assessment has long irked Clinton supporters and even the FBI — which feels Petraeus’s case was a clear cut example of criminal wrongdoing with aggravating factors, while Clinton’s was not. And now, Petraeus is under consideration for a job in Trump’s administration — possibly even as secretary of state, the job Clinton used to hold.
Petraeus and Trump met earlier this week, and Trump wrote on Twitter that he was “very impressed!”
Finally the FARC'in war is over
It took 50 years and some political jiggery pokery to get the peace treaty approved, but peace between the government of Colombia and FARC rebels has been approved by the Colombian Senate after an earlier attempt was voted down in a referendum.
Colombia’s Congress approved a revised peace accord with the country’s largest rebel group on Wednesday night, a vote that was most likely the final hurdle in ratifying the troubled agreement whose earlier version had been rejected in a referendum this fall.It may not be a perfect deal, but after 50 years, it is about time to say, Enough Is Enough!
By pushing the new deal through Congress, the government bypassed voters this time, who had turned down the accord by a narrow margin on Oct. 2.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives, controlled by President Juan Manuel Santos’s governing coalition, voted overwhelmingly for the agreement. But congressional opponents of the deal had walked out of the chamber in protest before the vote took place.
On Twitter, Mr. Santos expressed “gratitude to Congress for approving the new accords.” His chief rival and predecessor, Álvaro Uribe, in an earlier Twitter post, said the congressional action was an attempt to replace a popular mandate.
Mr. Santos’s opponents in the Congress were furious the new accord had been pushed through with what they said was too little time to either comment or review the changes. The president, who has staked his legacy on ending the long conflict with the rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, consulted his opponents shortly after the referendum was defeated, but he has largely kept them in the dark since, they said.
The Congress’s vote brings to a close what had become one of the country’s biggest political dramas in decades.
After years of tense talks in Havana, rebel and government negotiators announced in August they had reached a deal to end a half century of war which left more than 200,000 people dead. The next month, the rebels arrived to the port city of Cartagena, where a celebratory signing was held before world leaders and televised to the nation.
Just one piece remained: A popular vote to approve the accord, which polls had shown would be a shoo-in. Instead, it lost by a narrow margin. Then days later, in another twist, Mr. Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In their announcement of the prize, the Norwegian judges acknowledged the referendum’s defeat but said they hoped that the prize would “give him strength to succeed in this demanding task.”
Though most voters supported peace with the rebels, many, noting the FARC’s long history of kidnappings and killings, felt the deal offered too much leniency, including reduced sentences in exchange for confessions. Yet Mr. Santos also faced a challenge in renegotiating new terms with the rebels, who had been promised new lives as civilians and a clean slate.
Analysts say the new deal took some steps to address some of the objections.
Stephen Colbert has lots of reservations
Senate passes useful, functional bill
And if your heart did not stop cold at that revelation, you probably have no fear of a repetition because it still has to get through the House whose stooges are more more affordable for ticket bot owners.
The U.S. Senate doesn’t want you to have to fight a robot for a chance to see the hit musical “Hamilton.”This will cut deeply into the profits of the Bots owners and actually make the rest of the country like New York which recently passed its own version of the bill. Hopefully it can be delayed until Preznitent Trump can veto this abomination.
Senators have unanimously passed a bill sponsored by Republican Jerry Moran of Kansas that would prohibit automated scalping software known as “ticket bots” from buying up seats for theater shows, concerts or sports events and reselling them at inflated prices.
“Scalpers who cut in line, then buy mass quantities of tickets just to resell them at higher prices make it difficult for people to get tickets for themselves and their families,” Moran said in a statement after the vote on Wednesday night. “This bill helps level the playing field for consumers.”
Moran’s Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016, also known as the BOTS Act, is designed to prevent ticket bots from circumventing online ticket-purchasing rules that limit the number of seats a person can buy for sought-after entertainment events.
The bill also bars the sale of tickets over state lines that were bought through a ticket bot “if the seller participated in, had the ability to control or should have known about the violation.”
The BOTS Act now must pass the U.S. House of Representatives before being signed into law by the president.
Always respect the flag
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