Sunday, January 31, 2016

If it looks like a Duhk and sings like a Duhk


It probably is The Duhks, a Canadian group that loves just about any folk/traditional music they hear or write. "Mists Of Down Below" comes from the self titled album The Duhks.


Might work if there were a god


From the pen of Jeff Stahler



When you have to threaten voters


To get them to show up at the caucus, perhaps you don't have what it takes to be an elected leader. Ted Cruz and his brainy bunch took this route with his supporters.
Iowa's secretary of state on Saturday blasted Ted Cruz's campaign over a controversial mailer that aims to drive voters to the polls for Monday's caucuses by claiming they have committed "violations."

"Today I was shown a piece of literature from the Cruz for President campaign that misrepresents the role of my office, and worse, misrepresents Iowa election law," Paul Pate, a Republican, said in a statement Saturday.

The mailer gave the recipient, along with their neighbors, poor grades based on their individual voting history. On one side, the mailer reads: "ELECTION ALERT: VOTER VIOLATION," "PUBLIC RECORD" and "FURTHER ACTION NEEDED."

The other side of the mailer says "VOTING VIOLATION" in red letters at the top before text that reads:

"You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors' are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday's caucuses."

Cruz campaign spokeswoman Alice Stewart confirmed to CNN that the mailer was from the Cruz campaign.

"Accusing citizens of Iowa of a "voting violation" based on Iowa Caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act," Pate said in his statement. "There is no such thing as an election violation related to frequency of voting. Any insinuation or statement to the contrary is wrong and I believe it is not in keeping in the spirit of the Iowa Caucuses."
Republicans get so used to scaring people they start using it for everything and as Cuban Ted found out, it may not be the best idea ever.

Have you got a killer airbag?


If you have one of the many models of the 14 automakers that used Takata airbags (Check here) with the ammonium nitrate trigger that hasn't been recalled yet, you may want to see if the dealer will fix it anyway.
More than a decade after the first confirmed rupture of a Takata airbag in Alabama, and despite a vast recall spanning 14 automakers, a stark reality remains: Tens of millions of people drive vehicles that may pose a lethal danger but have not been repaired or, as in Mr. Knight’s case, have not even been recalled.

Since 2000, Takata has sold as many as 54 million metal “inflaters” in the United States containing ammonium nitrate, an explosive compound that regulators believe is at the center of the problem, according to an estimate by Valient Market Research and provided to The New York Times. About 28 million inflaters in 24 million vehicles have been recalled. And of the 28 million recalled inflaters, only about 30 percent have been repaired. The rest of the inflaters, about 26 million, have not been recalled.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stepped up its scrutiny of the problem, after a series of missteps over nearly a decade, but has stopped short of an immediate recall of all Takata airbags containing the compound. The agency does not have the authority to order people to stop driving the cars and has not advised people to avoid driving them.

Gordon Trowbridge, a spokesman for the safety agency, said that not knowing the exact cause of the ruptures prevented broader recalls.

“It is unknown why some inflaters perform better than others,” he said. “It is unknown why the same inflater, with the same propellant formulation, performs better in some vehicles than in other vehicles.”

Still, he added, “If N.H.T.S.A. believes a vehicle presents an unreasonable risk to safety, the agency would seek a recall.”

Car manufacturers, at the same time, have been reluctant to sound alarms. They would face huge costs if they needed to provide loaner cars for millions of owners. Of the 14 manufacturers affected by the Takata recalls, not one has offered a blanket policy of supplying loaners.

Regulators have no authority to order automakers to make loaner cars available, but Mr. Trowbridge said his agency had encouraged them to consider doing so and had encouraged car owners to ask for loaners.
Given the size of the recall, Takata was the largest manufacturer of airbags, many automakers are dragging their heels because of the cost. Replacements parts have also been a bottleneck to getting it done.

ACLU seeks to repair Jindal's damage


New Orleans is becoming a laboratory for the study of malfunctioning justice. The latest step involves the Orleans Public Defenders Office which has announced that it will refuse new cases because of a massive overload of current cases caused in part by reduced funding, attorney retirements and, to add insult to injury, a hiring freeze. This has resulted in a suit by the ACLU with the purpose of fixing a fucked up system.
In Louisiana the majority of local public defender offices’ budgets are cobbled together from defendants’ fines and fees, mostly from traffic tickets.

In the past year, cuts in state-appropriated funding, combined with a decline in revenue from local fees, have affected how those district offices can represent the poor. So far, four Louisiana parishes, including Orleans, have established waitlists for the indigent.

The OPD handles the vast majority of the city’s cases — serving more than 22,000 indigent clients last year — and needed 70 lawyers and an $8.2 million budget to “protects its clients’ constitutional rights,” according to estimates found by an American University report in 2006.

As of December, it had about 50 lawyers and a $6.2 million budget.

The unreliable funding scheme has led to emergencies like the one in Orleans Parish, forcing offices to resort to measures like refusing clients, according to Buskey and other lawyers behind the suit.

“We do hope in the end to help OPD and other defenders throughout the state,” he said. “We hope to ensure a guaranteed and stable funding system for public defenders so we don’t have these recurring crises every few months or every year.”

This wasn’t the first time the public was warned of impending constitutional crisis due to what Bunton termed an “unreliable” user-pay system.

During a December hearing with Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter, Bunton made an unusual request for judicial mercy, asking the judge to stop assigning new indigent defendants to his office until the caseload crisis is resolved.

Ultimately, Hunter refused to grant the request, but not before several witnesses testified on Bunton’s behalf. They included renowned defense lawyer Barry Scheck, a co-founder of the Innocence Project.

He cited his own research on the effects of inadequate defense on wrongful convictions. “The failure to have an adequately funded defense team … not only endangers the innocent, but it undermines public safety,” he said.

On Thursday, Buskey said the expert testimony “speaks volumes” about what’s going on in Louisiana and elsewhere in the country. Similar lawsuits have been brought in the past year against public defense systems in California, Idaho and Washington.

“I think we agree wholeheartedly. The summary of the whole testimony is you can’t run a public defender system like this,” he said. “You can’t seriously call this a functioning criminal justice system.”
So long as there are Republicans in a position to block it, systemic reform will remain a long term goal but without reform arrest becomes cruel and unusual punishment for those unable to pay for a lawyer.

GOP math never adds up



Saturday, January 30, 2016

From Massachusetts, lives in Boston now


Meg Hutchinson is an important part of the New England folk scene. "Hard To Change" is from her second album The Living Side.


I thought it was familiar


From the pen of Tim Eagan



Solitary


Along with the increase in numbers of people being thrown into prison, the portion of those being confined in solitary ahs increased as it became all too easy to get dumped there.
The use of solitary confinement has reached a watershed moment in the United States. Most experts — from correctional officials to academics — agree that the hardships placed upon thousands of isolated prisoners, some of whom are mentally ill, push them to a dangerous place. President Obama, citing the “devastating, lasting psychological consequences” solitary confinement can inflict, announced a ban this week on isolating juveniles in federal prisons and reduced the maximum number of days federal inmates can be isolated for a first offense from 365 days to 60.

But for many institutions, that path is strewn with challenges. Isolation has been a pillar of American justice since the 1800s and remains one of the first methods institutions use to punish and protect inmates.

“It is a needed tool within correctional management,” said Thomas N. Faust, director of the D.C. Department of Corrections. “And within my opinion, it’s a tool that corrections have to have. However, I think that we need to do a better job of it.”

A national survey released in September, conducted by Yale Law School and the Association of State Correctional Administrators, suggested that between 80,000 and 100,000 inmates are in isolated confinement — roughly the same estimate as a decade ago.

“It’s really hard to turn the Titanic,” said Deborah Golden, director of the D.C. Prisoners’ Project of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee. Reform at the state level “can’t be created overnight,” she added. “Facilities need to be built and designed, and people need to be hired. And the problem is that government bureaucracy is slow.”

Another problem, underscored by Obama’s call for greater transparency, is institutional opacity. Some facilities don’t keep records or disclose how often they isolate prisoners.
With many locales using solitary as a replacement for mental health care combined with poor record keeping and poor supervisory training, too many people are going through hell for too long with to little cause.

Cruising down Bullshit Boulevard


Bill Maher expounds on the displacement of truth by bald faced lies in the face of all evidence.


Guess which one would last 50 years?



Friday, January 29, 2016

At the height of her singing ability


Ella Fitzgerald sings "Cry Me A River", a song written for her but not released for racial reasons. Julie London got the first hit with it in 1955. Ella had to wait until 1961.


Its purpose is no longer military


The latest information on the F-35 Flying Brick would seem to confirm a suspicion that its real purpose has nothing to do with the military and everything to do with the enrichment its manufacturer and important supporters. Why else would we be buying 500 of the as yet dysfunctional sky sleds?
Tests of how Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 will perform in combat won’t begin until at least August 2018, a year later than planned, and more than 500 of the fighter jets may be built before the assessment is complete, according to the Pentagon’s test office.

“These aircraft will require a still-to-be-determined list of modifications” to be fully capable, Michael Gilmore, the U.S. Defense Department’s top weapons tester, said in his annual report on major programs. “However, these modifications may be unaffordable for the services as they consider the cost of upgrading these early lots of aircraft while the program continues to increase production rates in a fiscally constrained environment.”

The Defense Department plans a fleet of 2,443 F-35s for the U.S., plus hundreds more to be purchased by allies, including the U.K., Italy, Australia and Japan. The costliest U.S. weapons program, at a projected $391 billion, the F-35 is being produced even as it’s still being developed, a strategy a top Pentagon official once called “acquisition malpractice.”

Despite the plane’s many problems, “F-35 production rates have been allowed to steadily increase to large rates,” Gilmore said in his annual report to congressional defense committees.

The Pentagon wants to increase the number of F-35s purchased for the U.S. to 92 annually by 2020 from 38 last year. The number jumps to 120 a year when foreign sales are included. For this year, Congress added 11 aircraft to the 57 requested.
Note that the second paragraph says these first 500 purchased will have to be scrapped as the cost of upgrading them to a functional military weapon will be unaffordable. But don't delude yourself into thinking that Lockheed will provide any discount or rebate for the worthless items. Not in the contract.

We know which the GOP prefers


From the pen of Jim Morin


No surprise to anyone


The Pentagon "Brain Trust"
has decided that more troops, more equipment and MOAR WAOR is needed to beat DAESH because what else do we have in the arsenal?
Pentagon officials have concluded that hundreds more trainers, advisers and commandos from the United States and its allies will need to be sent to Iraq and Syria in the coming months as the campaign to isolate the Islamic State intensifies.

In meetings with President Obama’s national security team in recent weeks, military officials have told the White House that they believe they have made significant progress in the fight against the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, administration officials said. But to deal a lasting blow to the extremist Sunni militancy, also known as ISIS and ISIL, they believe that additional forces will be needed to work with Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian opposition fighters on the ground in the two countries.

In the past, the Pentagon’s requests for additional troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been met with skepticism by Mr. Obama, and his aides have said he has resented what he has regarded as efforts to pressure him. But the rise of the Islamic State has alarmed the White House, and a senior administration official said Thursday that the president is willing to consider raising the stakes in both Iraq and Syria.
And there is a steady stream of young officers who need to be blooded before being sent off to their Imperial outpost commands. One could wish that given his lame duck status, this would be the perfect time for President Obamato tell the "Brain Trust" to fuck off and fire the more obnoxious ones. After all, this is the only answer they ever come up with.

When the medicine is scarce


There are many useful drugs that have been developed and proven effective over the years for all manner of medical needs that are simply not made in a manner that makes enough profit for Big Pharma. Others may have problems with manufacturing or regulatory issues. Whatever the reason, they are in short supply and effect the outcome of patient treatments.
In recent years, shortages of all sorts of drugs — anesthetics, painkillers, antibiotics, cancer treatments — have become the new normal in American medicine. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists currently lists inadequate supplies of more than 150 drugs and therapeutics, for reasons ranging from manufacturing problems to federal safety crackdowns to drugmakers abandoning low-profit products. But while such shortages have periodically drawn attention, the rationing that results from them has been largely hidden from patients and the public.

At medical institutions across the country, choices about who gets drugs have often been made in ad hoc ways that have resulted in contradictory conclusions, murky ethical reasoning and medically questionable practices, according to interviews with dozens of doctors, hospital officials and government regulators.

Some institutions have formal committees that include ethicists and patient representatives; in other places, individual physicians, pharmacists and even drug company executives decide which patients receive a needed drug — and which do not.

An international group of pediatric cancer specialists was so troubled about the profession’s unsystematic approach to distributing scarce medicine that it developed rationing guidelines that are being released Friday in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“It was painful,” said Dr. Yoram Unguru, an oncologist at the Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore and a faculty member at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. “We kept coming back to wow, we’ve got that tragic choice: two kids in front of you, you only have enough for one. How do you choose?”

At the Cleveland Clinic, which has been unusually proactive in dealing with shortages and allowed a reporter access to personnel making decisions about them, one scarce leukemia drug, daunorubicin, was saved for patients in clinical trials, to avoid making the results invalid by substituting another drug. But when a different drug, methotrexate, was in short supply, pediatricians stopped giving it to all patients who required high doses, including those in research trials. “We didn’t want to say just because you’re on a clinical trial you get an advantage,” Dr. Rabi Hanna said.
The article in the NY Times describes some of the efforts to maximize the benefit of scarce drugs but provides no ideas for easing the shortages. At least none that don't call for jacking up the price like Pharma Bro did.

He seemed evil minded enough


But if the current ad campaign from an Evil Koch Bros. backed SuperPAC is any indication, Gov John Kasich of Ohio is secretly Bernie Sanders BFF. And they are demonstrating the evil of SuperPAC dark money by running a six figure attack ad campaign against him.
The Iowa-based American Future Fund is a conservative nonprofit linked to the billionaire brothers Charles Koch and David Koch, which since 2010 has inundated federal and state races with tens of millions of dollars.

But it seems that Kasich, while a Republican, is not right-leaning enough for the group.

“John Kasich — not a conservative. Not even a moderate. An Obama Republican,” the ad’s narrator says. The ad zeroes in on Kasich’s purported support of Common Core educational standards, Medicaid expansion and tax increases.

Airing in New Hampshire markets, the ad flurry follows Kasich’s recent surge in the Granite State. Kasich nabbed endorsements from two newspapers there and is making a strong showing in New Hampshire polls. But if American Future Fund has any say, he will flounder in the state’s primary, the first in the nation, on Feb. 9.
This SuperPAC has a history of attacking anyone not to the right of the Prince of Evil or the Evil Koch Bros. And it well illustrates the evil of dark money in our politics.
Like all 501(c)(4) nonprofits — or social welfare organizations — American Future Fund does not have to disclose its donors, so its cash flows are largely untraceable. Such nonprofits can’t make politics their primary purpose, but these groups continue to inject hundreds of millions of dollars into elections.

Its primary purpose, at least according to its tax filings, is “to educate and advocate for conservative, free market ideas.” Though in the past, watchdog groups such as Public Citizen have asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether American Future Fund’s true intent is to influence elections.

There are numerous examples of American Future Fund entering the political arena.

When Sen. Kelly Ayotte in 2012 voted against enhancing firearm background checks, American Future Fund spent $1.3 million in ads supporting the New Hampshire Republican. Leadership PACs of six Republicans gave a cumulative $105,000 to American Future Fund shortly before the pro-Ayotte ad campaign.

American Future Fund injects money in state races too. In 2014, American Future Fund spent about $360,000 in Nebraska’s gubernatorial election and Arkansas’ attorney general race.

The group even involves itself in island matters. The group sponsored ads in 2014 that attacked Puerto Rico’s Democratic Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla.
Trying to do whatever they can to push the government at all levels to the point of collapse so they can profit from the pieces, whoever they are.

For your health



Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Think of What You've Done"


Sarah Borges playing solo in this video.


Watch out for those Acme products


From the pen of Rob Rogers



The little shithead has been returned


Despite the hopes of many that he would spend the rest of his days in a Mexican jail, Ethan Couch has been returned to the US. It remains to be seen how he will be treated, as a juvenile or as an adult as he is now 18.
Mr. Couch, whose affluenza defense helped him avoid prison for a drunken-driving crash that killed four people in 2013, decided this week to drop his appeal in Mexico against deportation back to the United States.

Early on Thursday, Mexican immigration authorities confirmed that he was on his way to the airport, The Associated Press reported. Local media in Texas later covered his arrival at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, escorted by federal marshals.

He was later booked into a juvenile facility in Fort Worth, where he will be held overnight until a detention hearing, expected on Friday, Samantha K. Jordan, a spokeswoman with the district attorney’s office, said in an emailed statement.

At the hearing, the judge will decide whether to release him and put him back on probation, to hold him at the juvenile facility or to send him to the Tarrant County jail until Feb. 19, when a decision will be made on the request to transfer his case to adult court, said Sheriff Dee Anderson.

Mr. Couch’s controversial defense stirred debate over how wealthy, white defendants are treated in court. He was given probation after killing four people while driving drunk, after an expert witness testified that the teenager suffered from “affluenza,” a psychological condition stemming from his family’s wealth.

But in November last year, the Tarrant County district attorney’s office asked that his case be transferred from juvenile court to adult court, which could impose stricter probation terms. And in December, prosecutors began looking into whether Mr. Couch had violated his probation after a six-second video posted on Twitter appeared to show Mr. Couch at a drinking party with other youths.
Hopwfully his flight to Mexico will get him treated as an adult and allow his to be penalized accordingly.

Four Dildo Rangers left


And they promise to leave if the Feds don't prosecute the one wanted for a felony.
Four anti-government holdouts remain in the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Eastern Oregon, and they will end the standoff if the government agrees not to prosecute one who is wanted on a felony warrant, a member of the group said Thursday.

“There’s four of us here at the refuge. We’re not really inside the refuge, we’re in the driveway,” said David Fry, 27, one of the occupiers, who explained that the group had been in contact with law enforcement officials.

“We’re willing to leave,” he said, as long as no one is arrested, “and if they want to check the guns, if it’s stolen guns or what not, we’re agreeing to that.” One of the remaining activist, he said, faces a felony arrest.

“If they’re not willing to do that, we’re all just kind of willing to stay here and see what happens,” Mr. Fry said. “Are they really going to kill five people for refusing to drop a charge on a man?”

Law enforcement officials could not be reached for comment Thursday, but said earlier that they would “continue to work around the clock to empty the refuge of the armed occupiers in the safest way possible.” Roadblocks remained outside the refuge on Thursday, and law enforcement has vowed to stop and interrogate anyone who tried to enter or leave the refuge, saying that protesters who wanted to leave peacefully would be allowed to do so.

The standoff, which flashed into violent confrontation with law enforcement on Tuesday when eight members of the group were arrested and one was killed, appeared to be unraveling with the the jailed leader of the siege, Ammon Bundy, urging the remaining activists to go home.

Through a statement read by one of his lawyers, Mr. Bundy made another appeal Thursday morning. “My message still remains,” he said, speaking to the activists still at the refuge. “Turn yourselves in and do not use physical force.”

Instead, he urged the activists to “use the national platform we have to continue to defend liberty through our constitutional rights.” He added, “I will not abandon all that we have accomplished in the name of liberty for the sake of my own personal freedom.”

The police announced on Wednesday that they had arrested three more protesters. Over two days, 11 members of the group that has occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge have been arrested.

On his video, Mr. Fry said the arrests had prompted some people to leave the refuge — some in such a hurry that they left their guns behind.

He identified the person for whom there is an arrest warrant as “Sean.” That may be a reference to Sean Anderson, who has been seen in several videos, predicting bloodshed, saying that the government intended to kill the protesters, and even calling on supporters to join them at the refuge and kill anyone who tries to stop them.
This act is over, but some the characters are practicing for the next act where and when it will be.

GOP National Security Hoax



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Despite her name


Carrie Newcomer has been in the music business for a good long time, 15 albums long. "Betty's Diner" is also the name of her 'Best of' album





Their aim was true


From the pen of Tom Toles



The Evil Koch Bros. hate bad press


And they are quite certain that their money allows them to buffalo any journalists that arouse their ire, regardless of the truth or newsworthiness of the story. One such journalist is Jane Meyers.
Out of the blue in the fall of 2010, a blogger asked Jane Mayer, a writer with The New Yorker, how she felt about the private investigator who was digging into her background. Ms. Mayer thought the idea was a joke, she said this week. At a Christmas party a few months later, she ran into a former reporter who had been asked about helping with an investigation into another reporter on behalf of two conservative billionaires.

“The reporter had written a story they disliked,” Ms. Mayer recounts in “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” out this month from Doubleday. Her acquaintance told her, “‘It occurred to me afterward that the reporter they wanted to investigate might be you.’”

As it happened, Ms. Mayer had published a major story in the magazine that August about the brothers David and Charles Koch, and their role in cultivating the power of the Tea Party movement in 2010. Using a network of nonprofits and other donors, they had provided essential financial support for the political voices that have held sway in Republican politics since 2011. “Dark Money” chronicles the vast sums of money from the Koch brothers and other wealthy conservatives that have helped shape public dialogue in opposition to Democratic positions on climate change, the Affordable Care Act and tax policy.

Ms. Mayer began to take the rumored investigation seriously when she heard from her New Yorker editor that she was going to be accused — falsely — of plagiarism, stealing the work of other writers. A dossier of her supposed plagiarism had been provided to reporters at The New York Post and The Daily Caller, but the smears collapsed when the writers who were the purported victims made statements saying that it was nonsense, and that there had been no plagiarism whatsoever. Indeed, as one noted, Ms. Mayer had plainly credited his writing — though this was not mentioned in the bill of particulars that was passed around.

There was more. Ms. Mayer would learn that these same dark forces had dug into a friend from her college years, with some notion of using the friend’s later problems against her. “I’m 60,” Ms. Mayer noted. “That was a long time ago.”
Money talks and it can inspire a whole lot of bullshit to start walking. If the Evil Koch Bros. don't want the free press writing about what they do, maybe the Evil Koch Bros. should just stop doing it. Nahgah happen, but it's a nice idea.

The FBI makes its move


After a long wait, the FBI and local authorities finally made their move against the Bundys Dildo Rangers. The first move ended in a shootout and the capture of the Head Dildo Ammon Bundy.
The FBI has established checkpoints around a national wildlife preserve in Oregon where some armed activists still are believed to be holed up, saying the decision came out of "an abundance of caution."

Authorities arrested the leaders of the small group that has been occupying Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for more than three weeks during a traffic stop where gunfire erupted and one man was killed late Tuesday.

Jason Patrick, a new leader of the occupation, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that five or six members of the group agreed to continue the standoff.

The FBI said early Wednesday that anyone leaving the refuge would have to show identification and submit to a vehicle search. Only ranchers who live in the area surrounding the preserve will be allowed to pass the checkpoints...

The FBI said gunshots rang out after officers stopped a car carrying protest leader Ammon Bundy and others near the refuge. Activists said Robert LaVoy Finicum, a rancher who acted as a spokesman for the occupiers, was killed.

Federal officials said they had probable cause to arrest Finicum, who told NBC News earlier this month that he would rather die than be detained.

Protest leader Ammon Bundy and four other senior members were taken into custody following the confrontation along Highway 395, near the reserve in northeast Oregon around 4:25 p.m. local time, the FBI said.

A sixth person was arrested by Oregon State Police in Burns, Oregon, about 90 minutes later. The FBI said a seventh person was later arrested, 50-year-old Peter Santilli, a journalist who livestreamed events at the refuge.

The FBI said they also arrested an eighth person in Peoria, Arizona, in relation to the occupation.

All of those arrested face federal charges of conspiracy to use force, intimidation or threats to impede federal officers from discharging their duties, the FBI said.
The shootout may show that the Feds were right in waiting for their moment but now the die have been cast. We will see how many more want to 'suicide by cop'.

Took them long enough



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Harmonious sisters from the Northwest


They call themselves Joseph and "Tell Me There's A Garden" is a tasty example of what they can do.


R.I.P. Abraham Charles Vigoda


This time there is nothing fishy about the reports of your death at the age of 94, 34 years after you "died".

The real White Water scandal


From the pen of Jen Sorensen



When the Empire crumbles


Is the new proposed exit date for American troops to leave Afghanistan. The new thinking among the brass and bullshit boys in the Pentagon is that what we were unable to accomplish in 15 years can now be done sometime before the end of eternity.
Top U.S. military commanders, who only a few months ago were planning to pull the last American troops out of Afghanistan by year’s end, are now quietly talking about an American commitment that could keep thousands of troops in the country for decades.

The shift in mindset, made possible by President Obama’s decision last fall to cancel withdrawal plans, reflects the Afghan government’s vulnerability to continued militant assault and concern that terror groups like al-Qaeda continue to build training camps whose effect could be felt far beyond the region, said senior military officials.

The military outlook mirrors arguments made by many Republican and Democrat foreign policy advisers, looking beyond the Obama presidency, for a significant long-term American presence.

“This is not a region you want to abandon,” said Michèle Flournoy, a former Pentagon official who would likely be considered a top candidate for Secretary of Defense in a Hillary Clinton administration. “So the question is what do we need going forward given our interests?”...

In Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, U.S. officials said they have a willing and reliable partner who can provide bases to attack terror groups not just in Afghanistan, but also throughout South Asia for as long as the threat in the chronically unstable region persists.

The new American mindset also marks a striking change for Obama, who campaigned on a promise to bring American troops home and has said repeatedly that he doesn’t support the “idea of endless war.” And it highlights a major shift for the American military, which has spent much of the last decade racing to hit milestones as part of its broader “exit strategy” from Afghanistan and Iraq. These days, that phrase has largely disappeared from the military’s lexicon.
Imagine, if you will, a building the size of the Pentagon filled with people whose careers are based on their ability to piss up a rope. Now accept the fact that these same people are guiding our Imperial military policy from now until the Empire falls.

Be careful what you wish for


Down in Texas there is a Lt Governor by the name of Dan Patrick. He is not very smart despite his advanced position in Texas. He decided to ask for a grand jury to investigate Planned Parenthood because of a vile, doctored video alleging the sales of fetal body parts. He did not get what he wanted.
A grand jury here that was investigating accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood has instead indicted two abortion opponents who made undercover videos of the organization.

Prosecutors in Harris County said one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress — an anti-abortion group that made secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue — had been indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.

That leader, David R. Daleiden, 27, the director of the center, had posed as a biotechnology representative to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and surreptitiously record his efforts to procure tissue for research. Another center employee, Sandra S. Merritt, 62, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record.

The record-tampering charges accused Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt of making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud, for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston.

Abortion opponents claimed that the videos, which were released starting in July, revealed that Planned Parenthood was engaged in the illegal sale of body parts — a charge that the organization has denied and that has not been supported in numerous congressional and state investigations triggered by the release of the videos.

On Monday, the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, said in a statement that grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.
Now it is the Texas Governor's turn to try and destroy Planned Parenthood based on fraudulent information and flat out lies. Because down in Texas there is no end to these pricks.

He couldn't resist proving he is right



Monday, January 25, 2016

Oi! Lissen ta Izzi


Isabella Manfredi, lead singer of The Preatures with their breakout hit "Is This How You Feel"


Strange things happen in primaries


And The Ever Resourceful Tom Tomorrow has been good enough to track them for this primary season.

Always a bright side


From the pen of Tim Eagan



Another report on the F-35 Flying Brick


Will there ever be a report that will end the Pentagon's favorite Pie-In-The-Sky cost overrun weapons system? A video documentary by the producers of The Retro Report is the latest attempt.
By the time the F-35 program is fully up and running — with an American fleet of more than 2,400 planes planned by the late 2030s — projected total costs will exceed $1 trillion. One billion dollars will be needed just to pay for the highly advanced pilot helmets, running to $400,000 apiece. And though champions of the supersonic F-35 hail it as the ultimate sky fighter for the 21st century, skeptics ask if it is worth all the money and effort, or even if it will prove as effective in its mission as David’s little stone was in its day.

To put it mildly, the Joint Strike Fighter is a complex piece of machinery. History suggests that the more intricate a device is, the more ways there are for things to go wrong. Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, the Air Force officer in charge of F-35 development, stands firmly by the program, but he acknowledged to Retro Report that the plane’s initial design may have been overambitious and thus trouble prone.

Red flags went up even before the Pentagon awarded the contract to Lockheed Martin in October 2001. The Government Accountability Office, Congress’s research arm then known as the General Accounting Office, cautioned that assorted technological problems raised the specter of cost overruns, performance failures and production delays. All those fears were borne out. The project is seven years behind schedule, costs have soared, and eyebrows arched higher after a prototype was outmaneuvered by an older F-16 in a mock dogfight early last year.

It breaks with the past by meeting the requirements of three military branches — the Air Force, Navy and Marines — each of which traditionally developed its own planes. Three in one. Swiss Army knife. Jack-of-all-trades. These are some of the labels attached to the F-35.

As much as 80 percent of its parts are the same for all three services, including engines, fuselage, weapons and supersonic capability. Each branch, however, will have its own variant: a conventional takeoff and landing version for the Air Force, a model that can perform short takeoffs and landings on Navy aircraft carriers, and a helicopter-like design that makes possible the vertical landings desired by the Marines.

Having the services share most of the technology was meant to be a big money saver. But harsh realities intruded, in part because it is complicated, not to mention expensive, to give each branch what it wants. To help defray expenses, the United States has signed up eight other countries as paying partners. But at least one of them, Canada, may be rethinking its commitment. The recently elected prime minister, Justin Trudeau, promised during his campaign to pull out of the program, though he has yet to act on that pledge. A Canadian withdrawal, still not a certainty, would increase the costs for everyone else.
And so the cost will rise higher and higher, supported by the dispersal of manufacture into congressional districts across the land. The chances of it ever achieving dominance in any mission role is slim to none thanks to the requirement to do every mission role. Well, actually it will succeed in one mission, to make its manufacturers and supporters wealthy from the public tit.

Born to piss people off


Oh sure his sanctimonious, hypocritical pastor daddy may see him as anointed by his personal invisible sky demon to take over the world, but when he does he will probably be alone. In another segment of Ted Cruz's life he once again displays his talent for making enemies.
In late November 2000, with senior aides to George W. Bush holed up in Tallahassee, Fla., navigating the thickets of election law, a 29-year-old domestic policy adviser named Ted Cruz was given a humbling task: walk a stack of papers to Federal District Court.

A top lawyer for Mr. Bush’s campaign grabbed Mr. Cruz by the shirt, pulled his face close and instructed him not to screw up.

“It entails walking across the street and handing these papers to the clerk,” Mr. Cruz recalled responding. “I feel confident I can accomplish that task.”

Mr. Cruz, now a Texas senator and a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, rarely invokes the 2000 race and recount. He has largely disavowed the comparatively moderate Bush wing of the Republican Party in pursuit of conservative ideological purity.

Yet his initial venture into presidential politics is by turns a confirmation of, and a complication for, the professed Cruz image.

The race installed Mr. Cruz as a creature of the Republican establishment — but also helped initiate his divorce from it. He made plenty of enemies among party operatives, according to interviews with over a dozen former colleagues, though for reasons that had little to do with ideology.

“I was far too cocky for my own good,” Mr. Cruz wrote in his book, “A Time for Truth,” explaining how the burned bridges probably cost him a desired job in Mr. Bush’s White House, “and that sometimes caused me to overstep the bounds of my appointed role.”

On this point, Mr. Cruz and his detractors agree.
Who needs friends when the Rapture comes.

Nobody listened to little Bobby Jindal



Sunday, January 24, 2016

Yes, it is a very Lucky Barn


If Della Mae performing "Richland Woman Blues" is any indicator of the talent it hosts.


Prepare for the election spiels


From the pen of Brian McFadden

click pic to big


Another vanity candidate pokes his rich head up


The Donald Trump began his candidacy as an exercise for his massive ego and vanity but found a willing audience for his bluster and bombast. Now another overly rich person thinks he should give it a try. Here comes Bloomie!
Michael R. Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side.

Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has in the past contemplated running for the White House on a third-party ticket, but always concluded he could not win. A confluence of unlikely events in the 2016 election, however, has given new impetus to his presidential aspirations.

Mr. Bloomberg, 73, has already taken concrete steps toward a possible campaign, and has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend at least $1 billion of his fortune on it, according to people briefed on his deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss his plans. He has set a deadline for making a final decision in early March, the latest point at which advisers believe Mr. Bloomberg could enter the race and still qualify to appear as an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states.
A true vanity candidate with the money to run but totally lacking the charisma of a Trump or the vision of a Sanders. Sadly it will be his ego that is the final decider of anything he does.

That's mighty white of him


Now that the damage to the City of Flint has been maximized to the fullest extent possible by his appointed Commissars, Gov Snyder is very graciously returning some of the powers of governing to the duly elected mayor. And on the way he slapped down a couple of scapegoats for his disastrous handling of the whole thing.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on Friday suspended two state workers in connection with water testing failures in the Flint contamination crisis, and the state restored some powers to Mayor Karen Weaver.

Snyder, who NBC news reported has hired a public relations crisis firm, suspended two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality workers in an increasing national furor over elevated lead readings in tap water and the blood of some children...

Shortly before Snyder's announcement, the Michigan state treasurer said Mayor Weaver, who was elected in November to lead the city that is in receivership, can now hire and fire the city administrator and department heads.

Weaver met on Tuesday with President Obama over the water contamination crisis gripping her city. A state-appointed board on Friday unanimously recommended that some powers be returned to the Flint mayor as the financially strapped city transitions to local control from the state control that once included an emergency manager.

Flint's lead contamination problem came after a 2014 switch in water supplies to save money.

"I recognize, and we recognize, that we have a lot of work we have to do, I believe this is a step forward and I appreciate it," Weaver told the board via a conference call.
Neat trick! First Snyder pushes aside the elected mayor for a couple of his stooges who thoroughly fuck over the city, then when he is caught, he fires a few lower level stooges and partially gives the city back to the elected mayor so that she is stuck with the cleanup of his well designed mess. Truly a master criminal mind at work here.

The good old days



Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cherokee


Cat Power from her Sun album.


Do Amendments 5, 6 & 8 still apply


Those amendments, like all of the original 10 were designed to protect us from governmental overreach and misuse. But what if the functions are now performed by private corporations? Does the Constitution protect us from the free hand of private enterprise?
here are only two parts of the American criminal justice system that haven’t succumbed to privatization, according to research released on Thursday by In the Public Interest: the police and the courts. Everything else – including transportation, probation, food, electronic monitoring, psychiatric and drug treatment and fine collection – has been privatized somewhere in the country.

We’ve farmed out so many correctional services to private corporations that criminal justice is no longer a government function.

The stories about how private corporations cut corners in prisons in order to maintain their profit margins are horrendous and, unfortunately, have become commonplace in public discourse – especially in the past year.

For instance, there’s Management and Training Corporation, a Utah corporation contracted to run the Eastern Mississippi Correctional Facility. It faces a class-action lawsuit for cost-cutting that became so dangerous that inmates began losing their vision and their appendages from lack of oversight and medical care.

Or there’s the private Prisoner Transport Services of America, which employed officers who allegedly urinated on an inmate and held a shotgun to his head last summer during a transport from Florida to Pennsylvania; it’s being sued for denying a woman water during a two-day trip across Texas in August 2013.

And none of that is as bad as what inmates in Florida faced, when they were powerless to protect themselves as doctors employed by a private healthcare company watched them die while treating their cancers with Tylenol.

It’s not just prisoners whom private prison contractors leave in the lurch, though. Written into many of their contracts is the freedom to walk away from their agreements with the state – particularly when their profit margins diminish.

Not more than six weeks ago, Corizon – the largest private correctional health care provider in the country – broke its contract with the Florida Department of Corrections after the company realized that it was facing steep civil liability for its poor performance because the number of inmate deaths had hit a 10-year high under Corizon’s watch. Florida Department of Corrections secretary Julie Jones was left to figure out how to provide adequate healthcare for 75,000 people who rely on the state to stay minimally healthy.

At best the Corizon pullout was cowardly; at worst it was an out-and-out admission of the company’s guilt in providing substandard care to inmates. But above all, Corizon’s move was a clear warning to the public agencies that contract with them: we can leave whenever we want.

Granted, Corizon did give the State of Florida six months to rearrange its correctional healthcare – as though that’s a simple task. Still, nothing stops Corizon or any other private company from leaving their posts in the justice system as soon as the profit forecast looks gloomy. Moral obligation seemingly doesn’t motivate these private businesses, otherwise their management of prisoners wouldn’t be as bad as it clearly is to begin with.
Whether it's education or incarceration, government created systems are for the benefit of everyone in common. The commonwealth is another way to put it. When it becomes privatized it becomes for the benefit of a private few and no longer serves the commons, even though the commonwealth still pays for it. Justice is one of the most important services provided by the commonwealth. If it only serves the private wealth, is there Justice any longer?

Don't need Magnum PI for this one


From the pen of Tom Toles


Right now they just shoot them


But that is a rather extreme method of reducing the mentally ill. They would be much less threatening if they didn't have access to as much weaponry as they desire. And waiting for the good guys with guns to stop them is straight out of Cloud Cuckoo Land. So shouldn't there be some way of empowering the local sheriffs and police chiefs to get access to information about who isn't too tightly wrapped to control their access to deadly weapons?
Before issuing thousands of permits each year for North Carolinians to buy handguns, sheriffs in Mecklenburg, Union and some other counties across the state have gone through an oft-futile exercise.

Relying on statutory language allowing them to ensure each gun owner is of “good moral character,” they have submitted applicants’ names to large health care facilities seeking to learn whether anyone was suicidal or otherwise mentally unfit to own a pistol.

Under the 1968 federal Gun Control Act, the sheriffs’ offices are entitled to know whether an applicant is disqualified from owning a firearm because he or she has been found by a court to be mentally ill, unable to manage his own affairs or a danger to himself and others.

But except for those seeking concealed carry permits, who have long been required to release their mental health information, sheriffs say the door has almost always slammed shut on disclosure of any further information.

For years, most requests for mental health information have been caught in a legal stalemate between law enforcement needs and health facilities’ concerns about patients’ privacy – a conflict that’s a key part of the national debate over how to stem a seemingly endless spate of mass killings.

Recurring scenarios of heavily armed men, some possibly psychotic, firing randomly at defenseless children in Newtown, Connecticut, nursing home patients in Carthage, North Carolina., or parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina, church have left everyone from President Barack Obama to local cops grasping for answers. A number of the shooters in scores of mass killings had mental health problems, but still were able to legally buy guns.

Addressing the obstacles to keeping firearms away from mentally troubled people has emerged as an area of potential common ground among some stakeholders in the hard-bitten debate over gun control.

However, any attempt at compromises is sure to be complicated by thorny legal, ethical and political questions over how to balance mental health patients’ privacy, Americans’ Second Amendment rights to bear arms and the need to keep guns away from those posing a clear danger.

“We must continue to protect privacy,” said Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina, who wants to draft bi-partisan legislation to improve the flow of information. “But there should also be enough room for law enforcement to be alerted to specific concerns about those with mental illness and have the opportunity to investigate and determine if further action is necessary.”

The National Rifle Association, the nation’s leading gun rights group, could be one one obstacle. It takes the position that there must be “a formal process before stripping a person of a constitutional right” to own a gun, spokeswoman Amy Hunter said in a statement.
Is it any surprise that the NRA is standing up against public safety because that next gun sale is more important than someone's life.

Keeping it real



Friday, January 22, 2016

Sounds like a blast from the past


But "Call Off Your Dogs" is from the new album Side Pony from Lake Street Dive due out next month.


This is their best shot?


From the pen of Jim Morin


See how well they have turned things upside down


Instead of the Republican Party faithful arguing with each other as to which candidate is better for the party, they are now actively battling over which of the two front runners, Trump or Cruz, is the worst event for the party.
With Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz battling for the Republican nomination, two powerful factions of their party are now clashing over the question: Which man is more dangerous?

Conservative intellectuals have become convinced that Mr. Trump, with his message of nationalist-infused populism, poses a dire threat to conservatism, and released a manifesto online Thursday night to try to stop him.

However, the cadre of Republican lobbyists, operatives and elected officials based in Washington is much more unnerved by Mr. Cruz, a go-it-alone, hard-right crusader who campaigns against the political establishment and could curtail their influence and access, building his own Republican machine to essentially replace them.

The division illuminates much about modern Republicanism and the surprising bedfellows brought about when an emerging political force begins to imperil entrenched power.

The Republicans who dominate the right-leaning magazines, journals and political groups can live with Mr. Cruz, believing that his nomination would leave the party divided, but manageably so, extending a longstanding intramural debate over pragmatism versus purity that has been waged since the days of Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller. They say Mr. Trump, on the other hand, poses the most serious peril to the conservative movement since the 1950s-era far-right John Birch Society.

Yet many members of the Republican influence apparatus, especially lobbyists and political strategists, say they could work with Mr. Trump as the party’s standard-bearer, believing that he would be open to listening to them and cutting deals, and would not try to take over the party.

“He’s got the right personality and he’s kind of a deal-maker,” said Bob Dole, the former Republican senator and 1996 presidential candidate.

Of course, this willingness to accommodate Mr. Trump is driven in part by the fact that few among the Republican professional class believe he would win a general election. In their minds, it would be better to effectively rent the party to Mr. Trump for four months this fall, through the general election, than risk turning it over to Mr. Cruz for at least four years, as either the president or the next-in-line leader for the 2020 nomination.

And, even if Mr. Trump somehow found his way into the White House, the longtime Washington hands envision him operating as a pragmatist, leaving their power unchecked.

“We can live with Trump,” said Richard F. Hohlt, a veteran lobbyist, reflecting his colleagues’ sentiment at a Republican National Committee meeting last week in Charleston, S.C. “Do they all love Trump? No. But there’s a feeling that he is not going to layer over the party or install his own person. Whereas Cruz will have his own people there.”
This appears to be a real Lady And The Tiger choice for the party with one small difference. For the current Republican Party, both doors have a tiger behind them.

He never really did care


But now that the Outlaw Jersey Whale Chris Christie is getting himself pumped up about his White House run, he has essentially forgotten about his responsibilities as Governor of New Jersey.
Gov. Chris Christie’s return to New Jersey was swift and efficient: He flew to his home state on Monday night after a campaign trip to Iowa. The next day, he sliced through a towering pile of legislation awaiting his signature, approving 93 bills and blocking 62 others from becoming law.

By Wednesday, Mr. Christie was off to address the State Legislature — in Concord, N.H.

The governor’s drive-through appearance in New Jersey was no aberration. As Mr. Christie, a Republican, pursues a long-shot bid for the presidency, he has nearly vanished from the State Capitol in Trenton.

A review of his activities in New Jersey found that Mr. Christie, who has started past years by proposing grand legislative compromises on issues like public pensions and criminal justice, has called on lawmakers to pass only one specific law in 2016.

Mr. Christie spent 191 days entirely outside New Jersey last year, and since 2016 began, he has held only two public events in the state: his annual State of the State address, and a joint appearance with legislative leaders to unveil an agreement on casino regulation.

The governor has also been using his executive powers only sparingly, creating just two commissions and task forces over the last year, compared with the roughly two dozen he convened in his first term. When he has issued executive orders, it has most often been to lower the state flag in honor of someone’s death.

Being criticized for spending more time on the campaign trail than at home is an occupational hazard for sitting governors running for president, but Mr. Christie’s absence has been particularly felt in New Jersey.

Democrats and Republicans in Trenton described Mr. Christie as having abandoned the commanding political role he played earlier in his tenure, when by force of personality and public argument he cajoled Democratic lawmakers into enacting sweeping reforms.
And there is no doubt that the upcoming snowstorm gives him an extra reason to be out of state.

Kim Jong Pudge randomly detains US student


Once again in need of attention the world's greatest attention whore Kim Jong Pudge has made a move for the spotlight. As usual, other than his standard attention whoring, no one knows quite why he did it.
North Korea has detained a U.S. university student, the third western citizen known to be held in the isolated state, for committing a "hostile act" and wanting to "destroy the country's unity," its government said Friday.

Otto Frederick Warmbier, 21, of the University of Virginia, was in North Korea for a five-day New Year trip and was detained at Pyongyang airport on Jan. 2 ahead of a flight back to China, said Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours, which organized the visit.

According to the North's official KCNA news agency, Warmbier entered North Korea as a tourist and "was caught committing a hostile act against the state," which it said was "tolerated and manipulated by the U.S. government."

The U.S. State Department, in a statement, said it was aware of reports that a U.S. citizen had been detained in North Korea but gave no other details, citing privacy concerns.

Johnson said China-based Young Pioneer Tours was in contact with Warmbier's family and U.S. officials.

"We are in touch with Otto's family, the U.S. State Department and the Embassy of Sweden in Pyongyang and doing all we can to secure his release," Johnson told Reuters.

The Swedish Embassy represents U.S. interests in North Korea.

KCNA said Warmbier had entered the country with an "aim to destroy the country's unity." It did not elaborate.
His crime was probably that of being Moe when the border guards started a round of Eeny, Meeny, Miney Moe.

Always focus on the important



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Do they make Valentine's Day carols?


Mary Lou Lord sings "My Buddy Valentine" from her most recent album.


As many shifts as necessary



Maybe Obama should convert


Since there seems to be no way to put paid the the absolute lie that he is a muslim, perhaps he would be better served if he converted. With most Republicans to willing and stupid to disbelieve that piece of happy horseshit, it is no surprise that it has spread overseas as well. And to the one area that can spot an infidel a mile away.
One of the most persistent and widespread of these conspiracy theories gets more specific than its American variant: Obama isn't just a Muslim, this theory goes.... he's a Shiite Muslim.

This week, as the Obama administration announced that it was lifting sanctions on Iran as a result of a U.S.-led nuclear deal with Tehran reached in July, Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, the head of general security for the emirate of Dubai, suggested that Obama's "Shiite roots" had helped him get elected in a bid to bring the United States and Iran closer.

"Mission accomplished," he added.

In follow-up tweets, Tamim suggested that Israel was actually behind the election of Obama and that the U.S. president would probably visit a number of Shiite religious sites in Iran soon.

It's worth noting that Tamim isn't an obscure figure. He is a former police chief of Dubai. His Twitter account has more than 1.2 million followers, and his tweets about Obama were retweeted hundreds of times. And neither is this the first time that this rumor has found voice.

Last year, a video featuring former Iraqi member of parliament Taha al-Lahibi appeared online and showed Lahibi reasoning that Obama's "Shiite background" had led him to work with Iran. Around the same time, Syrian writer Muhydin Lazikani told the London-based al-Hiwar television channel that Obama was the "son of a Shiite Kenyan father." The rumor goes back as far as the 2008 election, when state-run Iranian papers published articles that suggested Obama was a Shiite Muslim. There were even celebrations in Iraq's Shiite strongholds when he won the election in November 2008.
While those spreading the rumors were grinding their particular political axes, it does show the influence of the American president that they insist on using even the lies told about him.

Are you looking too?


Feel The Bern!


Could Jeb! be anymore hapless?


With his campaign currently swirling around the bowl and aiming for the drain despite having a $100 Million SuperPAC on his side, some are now wondering if that SuperPAC Right To Rise might be the cause of this Bush Family electoral disaster.
When Jeb Bush and his allies began helping the “super PAC” supporting him raise more than $100 million last year, his bid for the Republican nomination seemed like a safe bet. But as Mr. Bush’s campaign continues to lag, his backers are increasingly turning their frustrations over his foundering candidacy on the group, Right to Rise, and its inability to influence the race.

Some donors quietly worry about how the cash-rich group is spending its money, confounded by how few tangible results the tens of millions it has pumped into the race so far have yielded. Others have expressed dismay with negative ads Right to Rise has run and a 15-minute pro-Bush documentary that it produced.

The frustrations spilled into full view at a private meeting Friday at the Palace Hotel in Midtown Manhattan between Mike Murphy, the group’s chief strategist, and roughly three-dozen donors. Barry Volpert, a partner at the private equity firm Crestview Partners, sharply questioned Mr. Murphy about ads his group had aired attacking Senator Marco Rubio, one of Mr. Bush’s chief rivals for the nomination.

The concern over the negative ads is shared by some donors who have long worried that if Mr. Bush does not win the nomination, such attacks could irreparably harm the eventual nominee. Mr. Volpert, who has associates supporting Mr. Rubio, specifically raised concerns about damaging the Florida senator.

The exchange was the only contentious moment of the gathering, but the rebuke was representative of the growing turmoil between Bush supporters and Right to Rise, as well as a general sense of frustration and anger over what many Bush backers see as lost opportunities.

Some in Mr. Bush’s campaign wish that the group had done more over the summer to blunt the attacks from Donald J. Trump, who depicted their candidate as “low-energy,” and highlight Mr. Bush’s record as governor of Florida.
Jeb! isn't the first Bush to lose an election but he is the first to shit the bed before the first vote has been cast. And lots of people are curious as to why such a rich SuperPAC has signally failed to move public opinion. Maybe nobody is really trying.

It's Good To Be The King



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A hoppin' country trio


Eden's Edge lasted until 2013 when the lead singer Hanna Blaylock left the group. Before that happened they performed "Too Good To Be True"


Depends on where you live


From the pen of Matt Wuerker



Drones aren't all they are cracked up to be


For starters, the Air Force is having a problem keeping them up in the air when they are flying. Something is making them fall from the sky. That is if they can get enough drone "pilots" to get them up to begin with.
A record number of Air Force drones crashed in major accidents last year, documents show, straining the U.S. military’s fleet of robotic aircraft when it is in more demand than ever for counterterrorism missions in an expanding array of war zones.

Driving the increase was a mysterious surge in mishaps involving the Air Force’s newest and most advanced “hunter-killer” drone, the Reaper, which has become the Pentagon’s favored weapon for conducting surveillance and airstrikes against the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other militant groups.

The Reaper has been bedeviled by a rash of sudden electrical failures that have caused the 21/2-ton drone to lose power and drop from the sky, according to accident-investigation documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Investigators have traced the problem to a faulty starter-generator, but have been unable to pinpoint why it goes haywire or devise a permanent fix...

The aircraft losses pose another challenge for the Air Force as it struggles to provide sufficient drone coverage for counterterrorism operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Mali and Cameroon, among other countries.

Despite a surge in requests from field commanders, the Air Force last year had to curtail its drone combat missions by 8 percent because of an acute shortage of pilots for the remote-controlled aircraft. Things have gotten so bad that the Air Force is offering retention bonuses of up to $125,000 to its drone pilots, who have long complained of overwork.

The Air Force also has contracted out more drone missions to private companies to meet what one general called “a virtually insatiable appetite” from military commanders for airborne surveillance.
Sitting safely in a dark room is not the same as flying but at least you don't have to worry about your ride falling out of the sky like an F-35.

Iowa does like its alcohol


In this case they mean the stuff they call ethanol and put in your gas tank, with government assistance. And it is that government assistance that opponents of Cuban/Canadian Ted Cruz want voters to believe he will eliminate. And given what he believes, he probably would, if given the chance. And that is Ted's big stumbling block in Iowa.
Gov. Terry Branstad did not endorse any GOP rival but singled out Cruz for his opposition to federal support for ethanol, a corn-based fuel that advocates say is crucial for jobs in the corn-producing state.

The issue had the potential to hurt Cruz in Iowa as much as or more than the endorsement Tuesday of rival Donald Trump by tea party icon Sarah Palin. Ethanol is politically potent in Iowa, where one advocacy group estimates 73,000 people have jobs associated with it. And it tests the conservative coalition.

While Republicans rally around a message aimed at cutting government, Iowa Republicans do like government help for ethanol. According to a Des Moines Register poll in December, 61 percent of likely Iowa GOP caucusgoers support the federal mandate that helps the fuel.

“I think it would be very damaging to our state” if Cruz won Iowa’s caucuses, Branstad told television station WHO-TV after speaking to an Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. “I believe it would be a big mistake for Iowa to support him.”

Branstad also answered “yes” when he was asked whether he wanted Cruz to be defeated.

The slam against Cruz could be a boost to New York billionaire Donald Trump, who is neck and neck with the Texas senator in Iowa and who quickly tweeted and amplified Branstad’s opposition to Cruz.
That's a pretty heavy slam when the Governor and fellow Republican doesn't just support another but actively wants you defeated. This should let us see how well Daddy Rafael's crazy ass sky demon helps his anointed one.

A brilliant idea



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

She likes playing in groups


In addition to her own solo career and sitting in with lots of groups, Norah Jones has formed a rockabilly group, Puss N Boots, and a country group The Little Willies. Here The Little Willies do Kris Kristofferson's "For The Good Times"


Must be Bernie's pronunciation


From the pen of Joel Pett



This should put him over the top


The concept of endorsements by well known and/or respected people was a way to boost electoral prospects in days gone by. With the advent of greater communications, including those who dig deep for dirt, this electoral ploy has lost its effectiveness. Still candidates seek out favorable endorsements because they don't yet hurt your chances, unless you pick a real turkey. With that in mind, let's look at the latest endorsement and potentially the next future one for The Vulgar Yam, Donald Trump.
For Donald Trump, was an endorsement from the daughter of a rugged, gun-toting Westerner the prelude to an appearance later today with another person who tries to sell a similar persona?

Trump, the national front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, for now has won the formal endorsement of the daughter of legendary actor John Wayne.

"We need someone like Mr. Trump with leadership qualities, someone with courage, someone that's strong, like John Wayne," Aissa Wayne said Monday, surround by cowboy hats, saddles, and clothing that her father used in his craft. "If John Wayne were around, he'd be standing right here instead of me."

The endorsement took place at a museum dedicated to Wayne in his birthplace of Winterset, Iowa, more than an hour drive away from a later event that Trump says will include a "big announcement" featuring “a very special guest in attendance.”

Asked by reporters in Iowa whether Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate, would be endorsing him at the rally in Ames, Trump offered neither a confirmation nor a denial: "That I won't say."

However, the billionaire competing with Senator Ted Cruz at the top of the polls in Iowa did say he's a "big fan" of Palin and that his event tonight would be "tremendous," without sharing any additional details.

"We'll talk about that later," he said. "I think everyone is going to be very impressed, and nobody knows who it is, and that's fine."
Unlike Michele Bachmann, The Vulgar Yam got the right John Wayne in the right town in Iowa. Still the public waits with bated breath to see if The Princess Dumbass of the Northewoods, Snowflake Snooki herself will be the next to embrace the Hair That Roared.

Another one of those California ballot initiatives


This one immediately draws support for the full blown populism it embraces. And it will be opposed, tooth and claw, by corporations and big money political donors.
Altria. Chevron. AT&T. These names may seem like a random assortment of Fortune 500 and blue-chip U.S. corporations. But they are among the donors that gave the most money to California state Assemblyman William Brough.

Of course, Brough is far from alone in accepting the financial help of corporate America when it comes to fighting elections. But if a seemingly outlandish proposal by a local California lawyer gets onto the ballot, he will not be able to stay shy about those donating to his cause.

Nor will any other politician in the state. John Cox, an activist businessman, wants to require legislators to walk into their assembly chamber wearing the logos of their biggest sponsors.

The shock tactic aims to find its way onto the ballot for November, a goal that will be made possible by gathering 365,880 signatures. That effort is already under way, after the state attorney general approved the text of the petition earlier this month. The nonprofit running the campaign, California Is Not for Sale, has committed $1 million for the project.

The group is also traveling the state with life-size cutouts for all 120 members of the California Senate and Assembly and one for Gov. Jerry Brown. Each cardboard politician’s torso is adorned with his or her most significant backers, like NASCAR sponsors on a driver’s racing suit.

“This will be on the ballot in 2016. That is our guarantee,” the organization says on its website. “The only question is whether Californians will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ We think that it will be ‘yes’ by an overwhelming majority.”

The specific language of the petition mandates “stickers or badges displaying the names of their 10 highest campaign contributors” yet leaves the specifics to the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

Ultimately, the purpose of the gimmick is to call attention to the role of vast sums of money in financing campaigns, at the state, local and federal levels. By increasing the transparency behind who has paid for politicians’ races, voters theoretically would get a better idea about what happens to bills behind the scenes.
This is really a gimmick, yet it also has a real possibility of passage. And in its own way it is the pinnacle of free speech. If you are free to give as much as you want to politicians, the the public should be free to know who you are.

A barnyard joke



Monday, January 18, 2016

A non traditional folk sound


Judy Collins with a stellar band singing "Pretty Polly"


The Flint Michigan Saga


As told to us from Gov Snyder's viewpoint by Tom Tomorrow

And neither should we


From the pen of Stuart Carlson



Why Muttonhead O'Reilly won't go


Sure, he has promised to move to Ireland if Bernie Sanders is elected (Great reason to vote for Bernie). but as Henry Farrell rports in the Washington Post, Ireland is not all that Muttonhead might believe.
It would seem that O’Reilly’s nearest Irish ancestor was his great-grandfather. This means that he misses the cut-off for automatic Irish citizenship by one generation. If you have one Irish grandparent, you qualify for Irish citizenship — but unless O’Reilly’s grandparent or parent formally applied, he’s out of luck. He does have a second possibility though — paying to become a citizen. Ireland, like many other countries, provides citizenship to individuals who are willing to invest or donate a large sum of money to the benefit of the Irish economy.

What would O’Reilly get in return for his money? First off, a tax system that is not all that different from the U.S. tax system for top earners, and arguably a little less favorable. The effective top Irish income tax rate is a little over half of income.

In the rather unlikely event that Sanders was elected president in a landslide of socialist enthusiasm, turning the Senate and the House socialist, and introducing punitive taxes to impoverish rich Fox News opinionators, O’Reilly would still be in trouble. Even if he lived in Ireland, he would have difficulty avoiding U.S. taxes unless he renounced his U.S. citizenship. The United States continues to regard U.S. expatriates as taxpayers, no matter where they reside. Ireland and the United States have a double taxation treaty, to prevent people being taxed twice for the same income — this might provide some loopholes for royalties and the like, but probably not enough to make an enormous difference. O’Reilly would likely find himself paying to support Sanders’s socialist American utopia from overseas...

The Irish attitude to guns is going to be a serious culture shock. First, he’ll be far worse off than he would be in rural Oregon. While there will surely be cops closer than 40 miles away, those cops will almost certainly be unarmed. In Ireland, police only carry arms under special circumstances. Most Irish police officers don’t even have firearms training.

Furthermore, gun ownership is highly restricted in Ireland. People have to apply for a license to own a gun, and are likely to be refused under many circumstances. Furthermore, there are heavy restrictions on kinds of guns that they are allowed to own — roughly speaking, guns for sport and hunting (sports pistols; shotguns; some kinds of rifles) are okay, but handguns of the kind that O’Reilly could use for “self-defense” are not, let alone automatic weapons. Gun rights are not a topic of political debate in Ireland — Ireland’s most conservative party, which is now the majority party in the government, has just introduced new restrictions, without any significant public opposition.
Poor Muttonhead, his dream country is just that, a dream.

Do you know who is buying your government?


In some cases the buyers and/or the big money backers are known to the public. Now, however, thanks to the Citizens United ruling, SuperPACS are able to collect unlimited funds from any source around the globe without having to reveal any identities.
“This letter serves to officially notify the Federal Election Commission that Priorities USA Action will file its reports on a monthly basis to the Commission as of January 1, 2016,” it read.

Sounds harmless enough. But that little note — and more just like it from other super PACs — allows top presidential bankrollers to remain hidden as the campaign grows white hot.

That’s because, thanks to a quirk in federal law, such letters give those super PACs the power to withhold their January donors’ names until well after the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries are conducted next month.

Also secret: the potentially massive amounts of money the donors are contributing in order to affect the outcome of those crucial contests.

Instead, the super PACs will file campaign finance disclosure reports that only include contributions they’ve received through December...

Here’s how the super PAC filing loophole works:

Most major super PACs filed just one campaign finance disclosure report during 2015, as the law allows them to do.

But this month, these “semi-annual” super PAC filers who’ve spent money in the New Hampshire primary campaign race face a choice.

They may choose to do nothing, maintain their current status and be required to submit a “pre-primary” report on Jan. 28 — 12 days before New Hampshire’s Feb. 9 primary.

Such a pre-primary report would reveal everyone who’s given a super PAC money — and how much — through Jan. 20. (Because of a 36-year-old FEC ruling, presidential caucus contests such as the one Iowa conducts on Feb. 1 don’t trigger such reports.)

Or, as many super PACs already have, they may this month notify the FEC that they’re switching to a monthly filing schedule.

Doing so exempts a super PAC from filing Jan. 28 pre-primary reports, and therefore, revealing their income from Jan. 1 through Jan. 20.

Instead, they’ll file a report disclosing their 2015 fundraising on Jan. 31 and another report detailing their January fundraising on Feb. 20, per FEC rules.

Some presidential race-focused super PACs pulled a similar donor-hiding switcheroo ahead of the 2012 election, although this time around, super PACs are raising exponentially more money to promote their candidates of choice — or lambaste those they oppose.

Technically, the FEC could deny such filing change requests. But the agency almost never does.
Theoretically all monies should be raised domestically, but if you don't know who gave it, you don't know where it came from. If you commit a crime, you can know who accused you but if you vote you have no idea who is outbidding you for the candidates affections.

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