Tuesday, February 21, 2017

She grew up in Cabbagetown


So anything that Canadian Amy Millan sings should be good, like "I Will Follow You Into the Dark"


Policy change


Going forward all references to The Tangerine Shitgibbon will now be President Beetlefart. Thanks to John Oliver for the inspiration.

Sources


From the pen of Bill Schorr



Creating more value than Trump ever will


Immigrants and refugees, the target du jour of some of our less contented citizens, are proving to be a healthy shot in the arm to formerly dying areas of this country. New people with new ideas and, unlike their Teabagger/Trumpoon detractors, a willingness to work and create new lives.
While President Trump has cast incoming refugees in a sinister light, the influx into the beleaguered communities along New York’s old Erie Canal has been a surprising salve for decades of dwindling population and opportunity.

The impact has been both low-budget and high-tech: Foreign-born students from countries like Iran have flocked to programs — and paid tuition and fees — at upstate schools offering advanced scientific degrees, while street-level entrepreneurs have started shops offering knickknacks and takeout for curious locals, and exotic staples and calls home for homesick émigrés.

Local businesses have found cheap, willing labor in the rolling stocks of refugees, while resettlement agencies have used federal funding to assist with their assimilation, creating work for everyone from refrigerator sellers to house painters.

“People left and left housing vacant,” said Shelly Callahan, the executive director of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees in Utica. “So when refugees came in, the prices were cheap, and they were ready to put in the sweat equity that a lot of people weren’t anymore.”

And that, in turn, “put properties back on the tax rolls,” Ms. Callahan said.

All told, upstate communities took in nearly 95 percent of the some 5,000 refugees New York accepted during the last fiscal year, according to the state’s Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance. Perhaps nowhere has that impact been more profound than in Buffalo, the self-described “City of Good Neighbors,” where about 10,000 refugees have been placed over the last decade.

“One of the reasons that Buffalo is growing, that Buffalo is getting stronger, that Buffalo is getting better, is because of the presence of our immigrant and our refugee community,” Mayor Byron W. Brown, a Democrat, told several hundred recent arrivals at a town-hall meeting in early February.

The stance of Mr. Brown and other upstate leaders sharply contrasts to President Trump’s remarks casting refugees as potentially “very bad and dangerous people,” bent on bringing “death and destruction” to America.

Other critics, while less hyperbolic, note the new arrivals often cost the government money in the form of food stamps, cash assistance and Medicaid benefits, as many begin new lives here below the poverty line. Schools also sometimes struggle with language needs and some school districts have been the subject of embarrassing, and costly, lawsuits relating to their treatment of refugee students.

Still, economists say that such upfront costs are usually mitigated by immigrants’ long-term benefits to a community, a desire amplified by their often traumatic pasts.

“The drive for citizenship and the drive for a permanent home is a pretty powerful drive,” said Paul Hagstrom, a professor of economics at Hamilton College, who has studied the impact of refugees on upstate cities.

And unlike native upstaters, they tend to stick around. “My kid and every other kid here graduates from college and moves somewhere else,” Mr. Hagstrom said. “Refugees, they stay.”
Some people see the initial costs os refugees as expenses instead of the investments thy turn out to be. All those whiny white folks who want to turn them out could do well to follow their example.

Hottest new investment


With the installment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and Republican control of both Houses of Congress the hottest investment these days are for profit schools of all types. With the removal of all those pesky requirements that teachers be qualified and students actually learn something, the prospect of ballooning profits is on the horizon.
Since Election Day, for-profit college companies have been on a hot streak. DeVry Education Group’s stock has leapt more than 40 percent. Strayer’s jumped 35 percent and Grand Canyon Education’s more than 28 percent.

You do not need an M.B.A. to figure out why. Top officials in Washington who spearheaded a relentless crackdown on the multibillion-dollar industry have been replaced by others who have profited from it.

President Trump ran the now-defunct Trump University, which wound up besieged by lawsuits from former students and New York’s attorney general, who called the operation a fraud. Within days of the election, Mr. Trump, without admitting any wrongdoing, agreed to a $25 million settlement.

Betsy DeVos, the newly installed secretary of education, is an ardent campaigner for privately run schools and has investments in for-profit educational ventures.

While Ms. DeVos’s nomination attracted a flood of attention, most was focused on the K-through-12 system and the use of taxpayer-funded vouchers for private, online and religious schools. Higher education was barely mentioned during her confirmation hearings.

Yet colleges and universities are the institutions most directly influenced by the federal government, while public schools remain largely in the hands of states and localities. So it is in higher education that the new administration’s power is likely to be felt most keenly and quickly.

Under the Obama administration, the Education Department discouraged students from attending for-profit colleges, arguing recently that the data showed “community colleges offer a better deal than comparable programs at for-profit colleges with higher price tags.”

The for-profit sector has about 8 percent of those enrolled in higher education, according to the Education Department, but it has 15 percent of subsidized student loans.

While some career training schools delivered as promised, critics argued that too many burdened veterans, minorities and low-income strivers with unmanageable tuition debt without equipping them with jobs and skills that would enable them to pay it off.
Regulatory elimination along with increased access to public funds should make these investments winners in everybody's portfolio in the years ahead.

Like a fart in a Beetle


John Oliver examines The Tangerine Shitgibbons ability to suck to attention from every other news event.


Wanted



Monday, February 20, 2017

You Can't Talk to Me Like That


But it sure sounds like Nikki Lane wants you to.


The Creation of Policy


Tom Tomorrow shows us how the new drained swamp White House makes policy. Get used to it, it's the new normal.

Not what he smoked but where


From the pen of Marian Kamensky



A House divided


Not the United States, yet. The Tohono O’odham tribe living along both sides of the US-Mexican border stands threatened with division if The Tangerine Shitgibbon's Marvelous Fantastic Fence were to ever get built. And they don't like it one bit.
A wall would not just split the tribe’s traditional lands in the United States and Mexico, members say. It would threaten an ancestral connection that has endured even as barriers, gates, cameras and Border Patrol agents have become a part of the landscape.

“Our roots are here,” Richard Saunders said, standing by a border gate in San Miguel, which he and his wife pass through — when it is open — to visit her grandparents’ graves, 500 yards into Mexico. “Our roots are there, too, on the south side of this gate.”

The Tohono O’odham — they call themselves “desert people” — have been around since “time immemorial,” Mr. Jose likes to say; they and their predecessors were nomads in the region for thousands of years, roaming for water and food on mountains and lowlands.

After the Mexican-American War and then the Gadsden Purchase in 1854 delineated the border for good, most of the tribe’s land was left in present-day Arizona, where it still controls 2.8 million acres — a territory about the size of Connecticut — while a smaller piece became part of what is now the Mexican state of Sonora.

The tribe has 34,000 enrolled members, according to its chairman, Edward D. Manuel. Half live on the reservation in Arizona, 2,000 are in Mexico and the rest left for places where job prospects were better. Those who have stayed might work for the tribal government, its Desert Diamond Casino, the schools or businesses like the Desert Rain Cafe, which serves chicken glazed in prickly pear and smoothies made from saguaro fruit, on Main Street in Sells, the reservation’s largest community.

The Tohono O’odham (pronounced Toh-HO-noh AW-tham) reservation has been a popular crossing point for unauthorized migrants and one of the busiest drug-smuggling corridors along the southern border, in part because the federal government strengthened the security at other spots. While a 20-foot-tall steel fence lines the border in San Luis, Ariz., to the west, and Nogales, Ariz., to the east, here the border is a lot more permeable, guarded by bollards and Normandy barriers measuring eight feet, maybe, and, in some areas, sinking in the eroding ground.

Tohono O’odham leaders acknowledged that they were straddling a bona fide national security concern. The tribe reluctantly complied when the federal government moved to replace an old barbed-wire fence with sturdier barriers that were designed to stop vehicles ferrying drugs from Mexico. It ceded five acres so the Border Patrol could build a base with dormitories for its agents and space to temporarily detain migrants. It has worked with the Border Patrol; hardly a day goes by without a resident or tribal police officer calling in a smuggler spotted going by or a migrant in distress, said Mr. Saunders, the director of public safety.

The tribe regularly treats sick migrants at its hospital and paid $2,500 on average for the autopsies of bodies of migrants found dead on its land, mostly from dehydration. (There were 85 last year, Mr. Saunders said.)
The problems faced along this stretch of border illuminate the paucity of thought given to the idea of a wall, if it was ever a real idea. So far it stands as a crude but effective lure for the uninformed.

Trump's Best Friend Putin


John Oliver exposes the Putin/Trump relationship


He has given us so many reasons



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Blood Moon


Skye Wallace


Another Country Heard From


In the never ending race to lick the Boots of Donald




The Good Old Days of Religious Freedom


From Jesus and Mo:



The Eternal Whipping Boy


The Estate Tax, or as it should be know, the capital gains tax on previously untaxed earnings, is once again in the Republicans sights. Despite it bringing in a significant amount of revenue while doing no harm to anyone and, indeed, affecting only a few percent of the population, the wealthy owners of Republican Party have a particular jones for this tax.
The future of the estate tax is in debate again. President Trump promised to eliminate it during the campaign last year. “No family will have to pay the death tax,” Mr. Trump said at the Detroit Economic Club in August. “It’s just plain wrong and most people agree with that. We will repeal it.”

Whatever happens, statistics show that very few families actually pay the tax — and those that do are subject to a series of interconnected other taxes.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Repeal the estate tax,’ but it’s like squeezing a balloon,” said Alexander A. Bove Jr., an author and estates lawyer with Bove & Langa in Boston. “Something has to give when you do that.”

Estates are now taxed at 40 percent. But with an exemption of the first $5.49 million per individual — and nearly $11 million per couple — the average effective rate can be much lower. Using Internal Revenue Service data from 2013, the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center calculated that the average size of estates paying the tax that year was $22.7 million, and that they paid an effective rate of 16.6 percent.

Few estates are large enough to require any payment. In 2015, only 11,917 estates filed I.R.S. Form 706, “United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return”; 4,918 of them owed any tax, paying a total of $17.1 billion.

“This tax paid by very, very wealthy people and the rate they pay is reasonable,” said Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy for the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “A lot of this money has never been taxed before. Working-class people pay payroll taxes every week, and for wealthy people that’s not how it works.”

One big advantage the current estate tax gives to wealthy heirs is in the treatment of capital gains, which are taxed at a rate of 0 percent for anyone in the 10 and 15 percent income tax brackets, 15 percent for most others, and 20 percent for anyone in the top 39.6 percent bracket. But under current rules for estates, no capital gains are paid on assets up to the exempt level, and assets over that amount pass to heirs at the current market value, shielding them from tax on any gain in prices that may have already occurred. The I.R.S. found in 2015 that stock and real estate — assets likely to appreciate — made up more than half of all estates subject to tax.

Resetting the cost-basis, or value, of an inherited asset can be an important benefit. “The person who inherits it can sell it with no tax,” Mr. Bove said. “That’s a big advantage when you combine it with the exemption of almost $11 million for a couple.”

The estate tax has two siblings, the gift tax and the generation-skipping tax.

The gift tax is imposed on any transfer of more than $14,000 in one year to any single individual. The total value of gifts given during someone’s lifetime lowers their estate tax exemption.

The generation-skipping tax applies to gifts larger than the estate tax exemption that go to anyone 37 years and 6 months younger than the gift-giver. It’s devised to keep wealthy families from avoiding one generation of estate tax by transferring the money directly to grandchildren.
Simply put, the Estate Tax affects very few people, but the taxes and fees necessary to replace the lost revenue will fall on all of us.

He just can't help himself


The Tangerine Shitgibbon once again pulled a humongous and totally dismissable lie out of his ass as he preached to his zombie minions instead of working.
Swedes reacted with confusion, anger and ridicule on Sunday to a vague remark by President Trump that suggested that something terrible had occurred in their country.

During a campaign-style rally on Saturday in Florida, Mr. Trump issued a sharp if discursive attack on refugee policies in Europe, ticking off a list of places that have been hit by terrorists.

“You look at what’s happening,” he told his supporters. “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”

Not the Swedes.

Nothing particularly nefarious happened in Sweden on Friday — or Saturday, for that matter — and Swedes were left baffled.

“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,” Carl Bildt, a former prime minister and foreign minister, wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Trump did not state, per se, that a terrorist attack had taken place in Sweden.

But the context of his remarks — he mentioned Sweden right after he chastised Germany, a destination for refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war and deprivation — suggested that he thought it might have.

“Sweden,” he said. “They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening in Brussels. You look at what’s happening all over the world. Take a look at Nice. Take a look at Paris. We’ve allowed thousands and thousands of people into our country and there was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation. There was no nothing. So we’re going to keep our country safe.”

Contrary to Mr. Trump’s allegations, nearly all of the men involved in terrorist assaults in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, in Brussels on March 22 last year, and in Nice, France, on July 14, were citizens of France or Belgium.

As the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet noted, Twitter users were quick to ridicule Mr. Trump’s remark, with joking references to the Swedish Chef, the “Muppets” character; Swedish meatballs; and Ikea, the furniture giant.
If only we had the Swedish Chef as President instead of The Tangerine Shitgibbon. He had the most creative way of making Brussels Sprouts.

The originals



Saturday, February 18, 2017

From Down Under and Left Handed


Courtney Barnett has a lot going for her as she sings "Depreston" in Brisbane.


The Belfry has a combover


From the pen of Taylor jones



Kim Jong Pudge went too far


And the Chinese government has just pulled back sharply on his economic chain.
China will suspend all imports of coal from North Korea until the end of the year, the Commerce Ministry announced Saturday, in a surprise move that would cut off a major financial lifeline for Pyongyang and significantly enhance the effectiveness of U.N. sanctions.

Coal is North Korea’s largest export item, and also China’s greatest point of leverage over the regime.

The ministry said the ban would come into force Sunday and be effective until Dec. 31.

China said the move was designed to implement last November’s United Nations Security Council resolution that tightened sanctions against the regime in the wake of its last nuclear test.

But experts said the move also reflected Beijing’s deep frustration with North Korea over its recent missile test and the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half brother in Malaysia.

Kim Jong Nam had been hosted and protected by China for many years, and his murder, if proved to be conducted on Pyongyang’s orders, would be seen as a direct affront to Beijing, experts said.

China has also come under significant international pressure to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, while Chinese President Xi Jinping is believed to have become increasingly irritated by Kim Jong Un’s behavior.

North Korea is China’s fourth-biggest supplier of coal. Although China announced last April that it would ban North Korean coal imports to comply with U.N. sanctions, it made exceptions for deliveries intended for the “people’s well-being” and not connected to North Korea’s missile programs.
This is a nice kick in the nuts for Chairman Pudge and the exceptions will let China tell him when he is being good or bad. On the other hand maybe now the Best Korean peasants will be able to heat their homes and have more hours of electricity.

The usual Republican budget shit


The Tangerine Shitgibbon's White House staff has put together a preliminary draft of his first budget and so far it looks very much like the standard Republican wish list. Any programs designed to help people or make life better is scheduled to be axed.
The White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending, including longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.

Work on the first Trump administration budget has been delayed as the budget office awaited Senate confirmation of former Representative Mick Mulvaney, a spending hard-liner, as budget director. Now that he is in place, his office is ready to move ahead with a list of nine programs to eliminate, an opening salvo in the Trump administration’s effort to reorder the government and increase spending on defense and infrastructure.

Most of the programs cost under $500 million annually, a pittance for a government that is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year. And a few are surprising, even though most if not all have been perennial targets for conservatives.

Mr. Trump has spoken volubly about the nation’s drug problems, yet the list includes the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, which dispenses grants to reduce drug use and drug trafficking. And despite Mr. Trump’s vocal promotion of American exports, the list includes the Export-Import Bank, which has guaranteed loans to foreign customers of American companies since the 1930s.

While the total amount of annual savings of roughly $2.5 billion would be comparatively small, administration officials want to highlight the agencies in their coming budget proposal as examples of misuse of taxpayer dollars. An internal memo circulated within the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday, and obtained by The New York Times, notes that the list could change. Proposals for more extensive cuts in cabinet-level agencies are expected to follow.

During his campaign, Mr. Trump promised large but unspecified cuts to rein in the deficit, even as he promised to protect programs for his working-class voters and to drastically expand spending on the military, roads, bridges and airports. While the memo in no way resolves that contradiction, it suggests that he could lean toward a small-government philosophy that conservatives like Mr. Mulvaney have fiercely advocated.
Overall the cash flow will be diverted from any citizen based program and re-directed to the military and corporate welfare to insure that the wealthy remain so. Surprisingly for a bunch of people who praise their own business acumen, they resist raising revenues when a yuge deficit is apparent. They seem more interested in a mafia style bust-out than running the country smoothly.

The Paradox of IOKIYAR


Bill Maher's New Rules examines the invincibility bestowed on assholes for being a Republican.



Sell by date has passed



Friday, February 17, 2017

From her newest album


Sara Watkins sings "Say So"


The First One


From the pen of Lee Judge



R.I.P. Robert Michel


A decent human being and a sane Republican, the last of his kind.

Seth Meyers takes a closer look at Trump's presser



You inherited a fortune, we elected a mess


Colbert on The Tangerine Shitgibbons press conference


I'm crazy too



Thursday, February 16, 2017

When she fell in love


Serena Ryder's next album Harmony included this song "For You"




Identify the problem


From the pen of Kevin Siers



He's Just Not That Into You


Congress, and most importantly the Republican segment of Congress, is finding that is not just the title of another so-so Ben Affleck movie but a real description of Precedent Donald Trump's need for Congress.
After moving to start rolling back the Affordable Care Act just days after President Trump was sworn in last month, Republican lawmakers and Mr. Trump have yet to deliver on any of the sweeping legislation they promised. Efforts to come up with a replacement for the health care law have been stymied by disagreements among Republicans about how to proceed. The same is true for a proposed overhaul of the tax code.

The large infrastructure bill that both Democrats and Mr. Trump were eager to pursue has barely been mentioned, other than a very general hearing to discuss well-documented needs for infrastructure improvements. Even a simple emergency spending bill that the Trump administration promised weeks ago — which was expected to include a proposal for his wall on the Mexican border — has not materialized, leaving appropriators idle and checking Twitter.

At this point in Barack Obama’s presidency, when Democrats controlled Washington, Congress had passed a stimulus bill totaling nearly $1 trillion to address the financial crisis, approved a measure preventing pay discrimination, expanded a children’s health insurance program, and begun laying the groundwork for major health care and financial regulation bills. President George W. Bush came into office with a congressional blueprint for his signature education act, No Child Left Behind.

But in the 115th Congress, the Senate has done little more than struggle to confirm Mr. Trump’s nominees, and Republicans ultimately helped force his choice for labor secretary, Andrew F. Puzder, to withdraw from consideration on Wednesday in the face of unified Democratic opposition.

The House has spent most of its time picking off a series of deregulation measures, like overturning a rule intended to protect surface water from mining operations. For his part, Mr. Trump has relied mostly on executive orders to advance policies.

The inactivity stems from a lack of clear policy guidance — and, just as often, contradictory messages — from the Trump administration, which does not appear to have spent the campaign and transition periods forming a legislative wish list. Democrats have also led efforts to slow the confirmation of nominees to Mr. Trump’s cabinet who might otherwise be leading the charge.

“When you spend a lot of time talking about policy and debating policy in the presidential campaign, it is far easier to be specific about legislation when you get into office,” said Austan Goolsbee, who served as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration. “President Trump spent the campaign fleshing out nothing in detail, so it’s not really a surprise that they can’t even agree on priorities, much less on actual legislative detail.”

House Republicans say slow and steady was always the plan. “We are 100 percent on pace with the 200-day plan we presented to President Trump and to members at our retreat,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker Paul D. Ryan, wrote in an email. “Budget first (check), then regs (check), then Obamacare bill (in process and on schedule), and then tax (after Obamacare).”
Congressional Republicans find themselves stuck with a White House resident who would rather issue Imperial Decrees than work with a bunch of sqabbling bozos to pass legitimate legislation. And they don't know what to do about it so they are falling back on the old, "This is just as we planned" routine. And even they aren't buying it.

Colbert asks, "Are you fucking kidding me?"


Stephen looks at the many Trump treasons.


Moe is the smart stooge


Samantha Bee examines the life of Lyin' Paul Ryan


The Neo-Bolsheviks



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

At The Purchaser's Option


Rhiannon Giddens


Like the good old days


From the pen of Kevin Siers



Home of Sun Baked Brains


No question about it, the Arizona government needs to spend more time indoors and out of the sun. The latest bit of loonytunes to come from that not quite august body concerns state sanctioned executions. The latest protocol from the Arizona department of corrections.
As states have faced challenges to carrying out executions by lethal injection, various work-arounds and alternatives have been proposed, including the return of electric chairs and firing squads. Arizona may have come up with the most original concept yet: an invitation for lawyers to help kill their own clients.

With drugs that can legally be used for lethal injections in short supply, the Arizona department of corrections’ latest execution protocol states that attorneys for death row inmates are welcome to bring along their own.

The protocol says that “the inmate’s counsel or other third parties acting on behalf of the inmate’s counsel” may provide the department with a sedative, pentobarbital, or an anesthetic, sodium pentothal, if they can obtain it “from a certified or licensed pharmacist, pharmacy, compound pharmacy, manufacturer, or supplier”.

Attorneys, though, said the idea is ludicrous. Megan McCracken, a lethal injection expert at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said the clause is “unprecedented, wholly novel and frankly absurd. A prisoner or a prisoner’s lawyer simply cannot obtain these drugs legally, or legally transfer them to the department of corrections, so it’s hard to fathom what the Arizona department was thinking in including this nonsensical provision as part of its execution protocol.”

Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender who works on death penalty cases in Arizona, said he was “at a loss” to explain the provision, which he said presents “ethical issues as well as legal issues. It’s not legal for me as a lawyer to go out and procure drugs for a client. So legally it’s impossible and ethically as well, my job is to make sure that my client’s rights are protected and not to work with the state to ensure that it carries out the execution … If the state wants to have the death penalty it has the duty to figure out how to do it constitutionally, it can’t pass that obligation on to the prisoner or to anyone else.”

The department of corrections did not respond to a request to elaborate on the reasoning behind the clause.
How curious that a staunchly right wing state should propose something almost identical to a procefure from the most Communist People's Republic of China which is famous for billing the families of executed prisoners for the bullet that killed them. Politics does have a circular nature.

It's Funny 'Cause It's Treason


Stephen Colbert looks at Michael Flynn's brief time in the White House.


A matter of priorities



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