Wednesday, May 31, 2017
From the state that gave us Mitch McConnell
Joan Shelley proves that good can be found anywhere if you look for it. Take "The Push And Pull" from her latest, self titled album.
The score they wanted
Freedom of Religion means all religions
And the fundamental rights enumerated in the Constitution are are not subject to popular vote. The New Jersey town of Basking Ridge found these truths to be quite evident at the cost to its taxpayers of $3.25 Million.
The 2015 decision made by the planning board in Bernards Township, N.J., a majority-white suburb of 26,000 people, came after significant public opposition to the mosque that thrust the community into the national spotlight and spurred religious discrimination lawsuits from the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge and the Department of Justice.I hope the Satanists are paying attention. Religion makes people goofy and can lead to their paying out big money.
On Tuesday, the township learned the cost of its six-year-old decision: $3.25 million.
As part of a settlement of the suits, the township must allow construction of the mosque to begin at its original proposed location, according to the Justice Department. Bernards Township will pay the Islamic Society $1.5 million in damages and $1.75 million in attorney fees and require town officials to submit to diversity and inclusion training.
“Municipalities around the country should pay close attention to what happened in Bernards Township,” Adeel A. Mangi, lead counsel for the mosque, told My Central Jersey. “The American Muslim community has the legal resources, the allies and the determination to stand up for its constitutional rights in court and will do so.”
The board hadn’t denied a building application for a house of worship in at least 20 years. It defended its 2015 decision by citing code changes created after the Islamic Society filed its application.
In 2011, the organization purchased a four-acre plot on Church Street for the mosque. It was in a residential zoning district that allowed places of worship, as long as they were built on properties with three or more acres.
Then in 2013, the township enacted a new ordinance that changed raised the minimum acreage to six. The township also said the mosque needed more parking spaces than churches or synagogues because of worship schedules.
In 2016, the Islamic Society sued the town in federal court and a Department of Justice complaint followed, alleging that the town discriminated based on religion.
“Federal law requires towns to treat religious land use applications like any other land use application,” Acting U.S. attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “Bernards Township made decisions that treated the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge differently than other houses of worship. The settlement announced [Tuesday] corrects those decisions and ensures that members of this religious community have the same ability to practice their faith as all other religions.”
18% of the ownership and a ton of influence
And with that, 3 major institutional owners, Black Rock, Vanguard and State Street Advisers helped push a climate friendly shareholder proposal to a 62% win.
ExxonMobil management was defeated Wednesday by a shareholder rebellion over climate change, as investors with 62.3 percent of shares voted to instruct the oil giant to report on the impact of global measures designed to keep climate change to 2 degrees centigrade.The resolution was only non-binding but management would ignore it at their own peril. With the big shareholders flexing their muscles, eliminating board members does not remain beyond reach.
The shareholder rebellion at the ExxonMobil annual meeting in Dallas was led by major financial advisory firms and fund managers who traditionally have played passive roles. Although the identity of voters wasn’t disclosed, a source familiar with the vote said that major financial advisory firm BlackRock had cast its shares in opposition to Exxon management and that Vanguard and State Street had likely done the same. All three financial giants have been openly considering casting their votes against management on this key proxy resolution.
The shareholder vote on climate change came on a day when President Trump appeared to be nearing a decision on whether to exit the Paris climate agreement, underlining the deep political and economic divisions over how to deal with the global challenge. Even as the Trump administration’s commitment to the climate accord wavered, the Exxon vote showed that climate concerns were gaining ground in the business world.
BlackRock and Vanguard are the biggest shareholders in ExxonMobil, owning 13 percent, or $43.6 billion worth, of the company’s stock. State Street Global Advisers, another big financial advisory firm that has called for greater climate disclosures, is close behind with 5.1 percent of the stock. The vote by them against management marked an important step for groups that have been trying to force corporations to adopt greater disclosure and transparency about the financial fallout of climate change.
BlackRock, which said that climate disclosure is one of its top priorities, had warned on its website that “our patience is not infinite.”
“This is an unprecedented victory for investors in the fight to ensure a smooth transition to a low carbon economy,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, a trustee of the New York Common Retirement Fund which sponsored the proxy resolution. “Climate change is one of the greatest long-term risks we face in our portfolio and has direct impact on the core business of ExxonMobil.”
The resolution says that the company “should analyze the impacts on ExxonMobil’s oil and gas reserves and resources under a scenario in which reduction in demand results from carbon restrictions and related rules or commitments adopted by governments consistent with the globally agreed upon 2 degree [Celsius] target.”
The resolution adds that “this reporting should assess the resilience of the company’s full portfolio of reserves and resources through 2040 and beyond, and address the financial risks associated with such a scenario.”
It notes that other major oil companies including BP, Total, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell have endorsed the two degree analysis.
The Republican Wall
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Since her career began 30 years ago
It is probable than everything worth saying has been said about Party Larkin. "Booth Of Glass" from her 1999 'a gogo' album
The Why of Donald Trump
As explained by the resolute Tom Tomorrow.
It's good enough for Pollard, Walker and Hanssen
The Morning After
Monday, May 29, 2017
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Listening To The World
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Daphne and the Mystery Machines
Friday, May 26, 2017
Courtney Marie Andrews
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Chased out of music by KKK threats
Linda Lyndell was a white gospel singer from Florida back in those days of racial harmony, the 60's [NOT!]. Having sung in support of James Brown and Ike & Tina, Stax Records produced her only two single of which "What A Man" was her second and aroused the ire of the cement heads in the KKK and such. Their threats caused her to retire from performing for the next 25 years, coming back to it after Salt N Pepa sampled her only hit for their hit.
In his own words
Seth Meyers takes a closer look at the damage Trump does.
Feels warm and fuzzy all over
When mutual defense is the idea
It does not make any friends when a nation's leader fudges on the mutual defense part of the deal. And when he spews previously disproven junk instead it does seem like he is pursuing his BFF Putin's agenda for NATO.
President Trump on Thursday once again refused to explicitly endorse NATO’s mutual defense pledge, instead lecturing European leaders on what he called their “chronic underpayments” to the military alliance.Lord knows what stupidity is going through his mind. And is this the result of his civilian advisors? It is hard to imagine any Pentagon types dissing NATO. One thing is sure, any cracks in the solidarity of NATO can only serve Cheeto Mussolini's boss, Vladimir Putin.
Speaking at the opening of a new NATO headquarters, Mr. Trump offered a vague promise to “never forsake the friends that stood by our side” in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks — a pledge that White House officials later said amounted to an affirmation of mutual defense.
But European allies are likely to see Mr. Trump’s words as falling far short of the robust endorsement of NATO’s Article 5 clause, the “one-for-all, all-for-one” principle that has been the foundation of the alliance since it was established 68 years ago after World War II.
Mr. Trump’s repeated refusal to endorse that principle as a candidate, and now as president, has raised fears among allies in NATO about whether the United States would automatically come to their defense in the event of an attack.
In an interview with The New York Times just before officially claiming the Republican nomination last July, Mr. Trump said that if he was elected, the United States would come to the defense of the Baltic States against a Russian invasion only if those small countries spent more on their military and contributed more to the alliance.
“If they fulfill their obligations to us,” Mr. Trump said in the interview, “the answer is yes.”
Other top American officials have offered reassurances. Traveling on Air Force One this week, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson told reporters, “Of course we support Article 5.” But until those words are spoken by Mr. Trump, leaders of other NATO nations seem bound to remain concerned.
Trump, Math And Colbert
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Something by an up 'n coming young musician
Julien Baker sings her song "Something" which might get confusing when she introduces another something she wrote.
So that's what they mean
The ultimate Republican policy
it is quite simple, let taxpayers money be collected and used to create large expensive projects like airports, bridges, highways. Then sell them off to private investors at a low enough price (well below market) to guarantee a profit for a well run business.
The Trump administration, determined to overhaul and modernize the nation’s infrastructure, is drafting plans to privatize some public assets such as airports, bridges, highway rest stops and other facilities, according to top officials and advisers.Anyone who wonders how this will work need only look at the cities, counties and states that have been fucked over to build sportsball stadiums and arenas. So far the public has never won on any of these deals. The status of municipal parking in Chicago or the Indiana Toll Road should give clear warnings that any and all of these schemes are merely licenses to steal.
In his proposed budget released Tuesday, President Trump called for spending $200 billion over 10 years to “incentivize” private, state and local spending on infrastructure.
Trump advisers said that to entice state and local governments to sell some of their assets, the administration is considering paying them a bonus. The proceeds of the sales would then go to other infrastructure projects. Australia has pursued a similar policy, which it calls “asset recycling,” prompting the 99-year lease of a state-owned electrical grid to pay for improvements to the Sydney Metro, among other projects.
In the United States, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) explored privatizing Midway International Airport several years ago but dropped the idea in 2013, after a key bidder backed away. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says such projects should be encouraged.
“You take the proceeds from the airport, from the sale of a government asset, and put it into financing infrastructure,” Chao said. St. Louis is working with federal officials to try to privatize Lambert International Airport, she said.
Officials are crafting Trump’s initiative, and he has yet to decide which ideas will make the final cut. But two driving themes are clear: Government practices are stalling the nation’s progress; and private companies should fund, build and run more of the basic infrastructure of American life.
A far-reaching proposal from the Trump administration earlier this year to take the nation’s air-traffic control system out of government hands was fueled, in part, by frustration at sluggish efforts to modernize technology.
To speed up infrastructure projects, officials are preparing to overhaul the federal environmental review and permitting system, which they blame for costly delays. Trump asked advisers whether they could collapse that process, which he said takes at least 10 years, down to four months. “But we’ll be satisfied with a year,” Trump said. “It won’t be more than a year.”
Trump is making us so safe
That we don't need to spend any more money on states security to counter terror threats. Since Cheeto Mussolini has such great security why should we spend any more tax dollars that can be re-purposed by your friendly neighborhood billionaire.
President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget would cut $667 million in federal grants to states for security against terrorist threats, a reduction that local officials are certain to fight after Monday’s deadly bombing in Britain spurred fresh questions about U.S. security.Terror attacks in this country are rare and they always hit ordinary people so the ones getting the tax breaks can rest easy.
Since 2003, the Department of Homeland Security has doled out billions of dollars to help state and local governments shore up their terrorism prevention and response capabilities.
Trump’s 2018 budget request to Congress targets for reduction the Homeland Security Grant Program, whose three components fund a range of preparedness activities, like equipment purchases, training and planning, among other programs.
Terrorist attacks on U.S. soil remain rare, but their random nature has attracted a lot of attention – and dollars – since 2001. The U.S. Conference of Mayors said Tuesday that Trump’s proposed cuts to the homeland security grants amounted to a broken promise.
“Throughout the campaign, President Trump vowed to make the country stronger and to keep all Americans safe,” said Tom Cochran, the group’s CEO and executive director. “It’s ironic that the morning after the deadly terrorist attack in Manchester, his budget proposes significant cuts to key homeland security programs, a direct contradiction to what he repeatedly promised.”
Stephen does the budget
The proud, the few, the disposable
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
8 years between her 1st and 2nd albums
And for most of that time Madeline Peyroux was playing around Europe honing her chops. Most people might say it wasn't necessary but they still enjoy how she grew. "Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky (From Now On)" from her album Secular Hymns
Some prayers even God won't touch.
R.I.P. Nedenia Marjorie Hutton
As Dina Merrill you so often acted well off sophisticated women, natural for some one who grew up in Mar-A-Lago when it was a private home.
Another raid in Yemen
Better planned this time by the Spec Ops folk who are looking forward to a longer stay in that poor, abused country. Unlike the previous raid, this one lost nobody and, until we learn otherwise, seems to have killed fewer collateral persons.
Members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 killed seven militants in central Yemen during an early Tuesday raid on a compound associated with Al Qaeda, American military officials said.The information gathered by these raids will determine if and when we move into Yemen and establish long term bases for another Middle East eternal war.
It was the first ground raid in Yemen that the military has acknowledged since Navy SEALs carried out a similar attack in late January — the first such operation authorized by President Trump. One Navy SEAL team member died and three others were injured in that mission, and as many as 25 civilians were killed.
In a statement after the operation, the United States Central Command said the latest raid targeted a compound in the governorate of Marib that was linked to the Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.
“During this operation, U.S. forces killed seven AQAP militants through a combination of small-arms fire and precision airstrikes,” the statement said, referring to strikes by drones, helicopters or attack planes.
Since the ill-fated raid on Jan. 29, American commandos, sometimes working in concert with special operations forces from the United Arab Emirates and local Yemeni allies on the ground, have carried out several clandestine raids that the military calls “site exploitation” missions.
These missions are designed to provide the American military with more information about the Qaeda leadership and operations, as well as insights into other extremist groups in the country. The Central Command statement said the raid was conducted with the support of the beleaguered Yemeni government, which has been fighting a two-front war: one with Arab allies against Houthi rebels in the western part of the country, and another against Qaeda militants in the country’s central and eastern regions.
R.I.P. Roger George Moore
You were the most saintly Bond ever.
We aren't the only ones Trump lied to
One of his more stunning campaign promises was to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, in contradiction of 60 years of US policy. As with most of his promises, he has yet to keep that one.
Israeli officials say Trump has led them astray by failing to follow through on repeated promises to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.Another worthless promise from an incompetent man. Why is anyone surprised.
“For the record, we recognize Washington, D.C.,” said Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. who now serves as deputy minister for diplomacy in the Netanyahu government. “We’re not going with Philadelphia. We’re not going with New York. We’re sticking with Washington, D.C. But that recognition is not reciprocated. It’s odd.”
For the last 60 years, U.S. policy has been to recognize no state as having sovereignty over Jerusalem. The issue is so contentious that the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and ruled that Jerusalem-born Americans can’t list Israel as their birthplace on their passports.
Oren, a member of the centrist Kulanu party, said Trump had lost credibility with some Israelis who believed him when he promised during his campaign for the presidency to move the embassy. Oren said he understood that doing so would be controversial and would anger some Palestinians, but he thinks the repercussions will be greater if Trump backs down from his promise.
“If it had been a one-off and he said it one time,” Oren said, the promise could be forgotten. “But he said it several times. It was a staggering campaign promise.”
The battle over the embassy is only one example of the issues that are testing Trump’s bond with the Netanyahu government.
Some Israeli officials were on edge after Trump allegedly disclosed highly classified intelligence gathered by Israeli officials to Russian officials. Even Trump’s visit Monday to one of Judaism’s holiest sites, the Western Wall, was complicated by Israeli reports that U.S. officials had told Netanyahu he should not join Trump because the wall, which was captured from Jordan in 1967, “isn’t your territory.”
“This is in the West Bank. It is a private visit by the president, and it’s not your business,” a U.S. official said last week, according to Israel’s Channel Two News.
The same news report quoted a White House spokesperson later saying the comments “do not reflect the U.S. position, and certainly not the president’s position.”
A weekend wrap-up
Stephen Colbert brings it all together
Trump Tax Cuts For All The Right People
Monday, May 22, 2017
We should be past this
But we are not and through the good offices of the Tangerine Shitgibbon and his Evil Elf we may grow a new crop.
Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa perform "Strange Fruit"
Rob Quist for Montana
For those of us old enough to remember the first GOP crook, Tom Tomorrow's "Then And Now' with the second GOP crook is uncomfortably close. But remember, those who are not taught their history in public school are condmned to repeat the worst parts of it.
Horrid little man
They are one pest the Orkin Man can't reliably get rid of for you. There are however various laws and rules that restrain lobbyists from working in government until the taint of their previous employer has worn off. But to keep the persons who may be of value, there are also waivers from these laws and rules. In the Trump administration, these waivers have been given out like beads at Mardi Gras. As might be expected, the Office of Government Ethic is curious to see the many waivers in all the government agencies.
The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose any ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who now work in the White House or federal agencies.No doubt about it, the Trump administration has a lot to hide and the determination to keep it hidden.
The latest conflict came in recent days when the White House, in a highly unusual move, sent a letter to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, asking him to withdraw a request he had sent to every federal agency for copies of the waivers. In the letter, the administration challenged his legal authority to demand the information.
Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.
Mr. Shaub, who is in the final year of a five-year term after being appointed by President Barack Obama, said he had no intention of backing down. “It is an extraordinary thing,” Mr. Shaub said of the White House request. “I have never seen anything like it.”
Marilyn L. Glynn, who served as general counsel and acting director of the agency during the George W. Bush administration, called the move by the Trump White House “unprecedented and extremely troubling.”
“It challenges the very authority of the director of the agency and his ability to carry out the functions of the office,” she said.
In a statement issued Sunday evening, the Office of Management and Budget rejected the criticism and instead blamed Mr. Shaub, saying his call for the information, issued in late April, was motivated by politics. The office said it remained committed to upholding ethical standards in the federal government.
“This request, in both its expansive scope and breathless timetable, demanded that we seek further legal guidance,” the statement said. “The very fact that this internal discussion was leaked implies that the data being sought is not being collected to satisfy our mutual high standard of ethics.”
President Trump signed an executive order in late January — echoing language first endorsed by Mr. Obama — that prohibited lobbyists and lawyers hired as political appointees from working for two years on “particular” government matters that involved their former clients. In the case of former lobbyists, they could not work on the same regulatory issues they had been involved in.
Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama reserved the right to issue waivers to this ban. Mr. Obama, unlike Mr. Trump, automatically made any such waivers public, offering detailed explanations. The exceptions were typically granted for people with special skills, or when the overlap between the new federal work and a prior job was minor.
Ms. Glynn, who worked in the office of government ethics for nearly two decades, said she had never heard of a move by any previous White House to block a request like Mr. Shaub’s. She recalled how the Bush White House had intervened with a federal agency during her tenure to get information that she needed.
There is no end to this prick
John Oliver spends more time than usual on the latest week in Stupid Watergate. And the near future is not rosy.
Another religious mystery
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Creole Love Call
While the version of Duke Ellington's song for the movie Cotton Club had the ethereally haunting voice of Patricia Baskerville, the original recording with Adelaide Hall has the wonderful scatting that the movie version replaced with instrumentation. Here is the original and to my tastes, still the best "Creole Love Call"
While Trump does his thing
Impossible to audit
But every once in a while it is possible to glimpse the exotic accounting practices of the Pentagon as they seek the impenetrability of Hollywood accounting. Our latest peek at their machinations comes from the metod used to purchase the vast amounts of fuel used by the individual services.
The Pentagon has generated almost $6 billion over the past seven years by charging the armed forces excessive prices for fuel and has used the money — called the “bishop’s fund” by some critics — to bolster mismanaged or underfunded military programs, documents show.Lord knows how much the brass will skim if they get an extra, unnecessary $54 Billion. They are doing quite well with the current pittence Congress allots them. An I hope you will never again wonder why we can't have good things in this country anymore.
Since 2015, the Defense Department has tapped surpluses from its fuel accounts for $80 million to train Syrian rebels, $450 million to shore up a prescription-drug program riddled with fraud and $1.4 billion to cover unanticipated expenses from the war in Afghanistan, according to military accounting records.
The Pentagon has amassed the extra cash by billing the armed forces for fuel at rates often much higher — sometimes $1 per gallon or more — than what commercial airlines paid for jet fuel on the open market.
Under a bureaucracy that dates to World War II, the Defense Department purchases all of its fuel centrally and then resells it at a fixed price to the Air Force, Navy, Army, Marine Corps and other customers, who pay for it out of their own budgets. The system is intended to reduce duplication and promote efficiency.
The Defense Department is the largest single consumer of fuel in the world. Each year, it buys about 100 million barrels, or 4.2 billion gallons, of refined petroleum for its aircraft, warships, tanks and other machines.
The practice of exploiting fuel revenue to plug unrelated gaps in the defense budget has escalated in recent years, prompting allegations — and official denials — that the accounts are being used as a slush fund.
Pentagon officials defended the arrangement.
Congress has routinely approved their requests to skim off the fuel-purchasing accounts as a straightforward way to balance the Defense Department’s books. Lawmakers, however, are increasingly questioning the budgeting methods that have enabled the Pentagon to accumulate large windfalls from fuel sales in the first place.
The obscure accounting policy exemplifies the enormous scale and complexity of the U.S. military’s business operations, and how waste and inefficiency in the defense bureaucracy can dwarf what Washington spends on other parts of the federal government.
Such fiscal problems are deeply rooted. For the past
quarter-century, the Defense Department has failed to meet a congressional mandate to clean up its books so it can pass an audit — the only federal agency that has failed to do so.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is preparing for a military buildup. President Trump has said that he will ask Congress to add $54 billion to next year’s defense budget, about a 10 percent spike over current spending caps.
Donny is a very funny man
The Tangerine Shitgibbon has traveled to Saudi Arabia and given a speech calling for action against Wahabi terrorists.
President Trump sought to rally leaders from around the Muslim world on Sunday in a renewed campaign against extremism, rejecting the idea that the fight is a battle between religions even as he promised not to chastise them about human rights violations in their own countries.It is doubtful that Tangerine understands that the majority of the 9/11 murderers waere Saudis and the bulk of worldwide terrorist funding comes from Saudi coffers. What is worrisome is the possibility that Cheeto Mussolini, in his search for a large distraction, will start a war with Iran at the request of the Saudi terrorist paymasters. The worst possible choice is the hallmark of the Shitgibbon presidency.
Mr. Trump, who during last year’s presidential campaign said he thought that “Islam hates us” and proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, sounded different themes in a speech to Muslim leaders here in the Saudi capital. While declaring terrorism to be a “battle between good and evil,” he said that it should be fought by “decent people” of all religions.
Coming on the second day of Mr. Trump’s inaugural trip overseas as president, the address was designed as the centerpiece of his stop in Riyadh, where he met with Arab leaders and convened a larger gathering of Muslim leaders. In effect, the speech was meant as a reset from the harsher tone and policies Mr. Trump adopted as a candidate last year and in the early days of his presidency.
“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations,” Mr. Trump said. “This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people, all in the name of religion. People want to protect life and want to protect their religion. This is a battle between good and evil.”
While he has criticized President Barack Obama and others for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” his staff sought to ensure that he not use it in the speech here to this Muslim audience. The advance excerpts sent out by the White House had him instead embracing a subtle but significant switch, using the term “Islamist extremism.” Some experts say the word Islamist reflects extremists without tarring the entire religion.
But when that moment in the speech came, Mr. Trump went off script and used both words, Islamic and Islamist. “That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds,” Mr. Trump said. It was unclear whether he stumbled over the different word or consciously rejected the change suggested by the text.
Either way, he sought to put more of the burden on Muslim leaders, calling on them to do more to confront extremism in their midst. “The nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them,” he said. “The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries and, frankly, for their families and for their children.”
Trump's Official Family sings Cohen's Hallelujah
SNL's cold open
And news from the rest of the world
Despite what he would like, all the news is not about Trump.
Mommy is Mad At Donny
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Big, Big World
The Angel Band sings of getting lost and found in the "Big, Big World"
Sign of the Times
When you put a corporate lapdog in charge
You can expect the corporations who pay him to celebrate their new found freedom from regulation and responsibility. That is just what is occurring in the oil and gas industry as pesky rules that make companies stop dumping poisonous shit everywhere and clean up what was previously dumped are eliminated.
Devon Energy, which runs the windswept site, had been prepared to install a sophisticated system to detect and reduce leaks of dangerous gases. It had also discussed paying a six-figure penalty to settle claims by the Obama administration that it was illegally emitting 80 tons each year of hazardous chemicals, like benzene, a known carcinogen.That neverending conservative love for foul air and polluted water will probably reach heights not seen sincethe first half of the last century. And those responsible will sit back thinking their money made from it will somehow protect them fom the consequences.
But something changed in February just five days after Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general with close ties to Devon, was sworn in as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Devon, in a letter dated Feb. 22 and obtained by The New York Times, said it was “re-evaluating its settlement posture.” It no longer intended to move ahead with the extensive emissions-control system, second-guessing the E.P.A.’s estimates on the size of the violation, and it was now willing to pay closer to $25,000 to end the three-year-old federal investigation.
Devon’s pushback, coming amid an effort to ease a broad array of federal environmental rules, is the first known example under the Trump administration of an accused polluter — which has admitted violating the law — backing away from a proposed environmental settlement. It is already being hailed by other independent energy companies as a template for the future.
“Not in our wildest dreams, never did we expect to get everything,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance, a Denver-based association of independent oil and gas companies. “We were kind of used to getting punished.”
The extraordinary about-face reflects the onset of an experiment in President Trump’s Washington that is meant to fundamentally reorder the relationship between government and business. Across the federal government, lobbyists and lawyers who once battled regulations on behalf of business are now helping run the agencies they clashed with.
Mr. Trump and his team believe that loosening the regulatory grip on business will help the economy, create jobs and allow Americans “to share in the riches,” as he said during the campaign. But in the energy field, environmentalists, Democrats and even some in the industry fear the efforts will backfire, harming health and safety without creating much economic benefit.
In just the last three months, with Mr. Pruitt in charge, the E.P.A. postponed a long-planned rule requiring companies like Devon to retrofit drilling equipment to prevent leaks of methane gas — a major contributor to climate change — and to collect more data on how much of the gas is spewing into the air.
The Interior Department, meanwhile, announced this month that it would reconsider a separate rule limiting the burning of unwanted methane gas from wells drilled on federal and Indian lands, a process called flaring. That announcement came the same day the Senate narrowly rejected industry calls to repeal the same rule.
Interior officials have also announced their intention to repeal or revise a contentious rule requiring companies like Devon to take extra steps to prevent groundwater contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, a drilling technique in which chemicals and water are forced into rock formations.
Orange Sphincter to the rescue
Bill Maher casts Donald Trump and his minions as super heroes to explain WTF is going on.
Friday, May 19, 2017
A Ruthie Foster Reprise
Because she is good. Like when she sings "Richland Woman Blues"
Whine from his own vinyards
One Senator is seizing the opportunity
Rising to the moment you might say. However you say it Bob Casey, a man who grasped the middle of the road as if the yellow line were real, is making his presence known in serious opposition to The Tangerine Shitgibbon.
Mr. Casey is not behaving like a senator approaching a re-election race next year in a state Mr. Trump carried, erasing any expectation that vulnerable Democrats would edge toward Mr. Trump en masse and distinguishing himself from some more reticent colleagues.Bob Casey is a man who has quietly maintained his integrity until times like now when it is most needed. He is up for re-election in '18 and may have an eye on the White House for '20 but now he is working the Cheeto Mussolini beat.
Nor is Mr. Casey behaving, according to some friends and supporters, entirely like himself — or, at least, the iteration they had come to expect during his even-tempered decade in Congress under presidents not named Trump.
Yet, as the anti-Trump movement continues, it has accommodated a leadership role for Mr. Casey, 57, the son of a governor from a suddenly-red state, initially elected to the Senate as an anti-abortion, pro-gun product of Scranton, Pa. — that irrepressible exporter of blue-collar political narratives for Bidens and Clintons and most any other candidate with a credible Rust Belt connection and a story to tell.
Of course, times change, and senators, too.
But Mr. Casey insists his higher gear has existed all along, suggesting that his circumstances have shifted far more than his legislative priorities, which have long skewed toward a familiar sort of Democratic Catholicism: programs for children, people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups.
“We’re in a period of time where we’ve never been before,” Mr. Casey said in an interview at his office in the Capitol — once occupied by another noted Catholic Democrat in the Senate, John F. Kennedy. “I’ve been fighting these battles for years.”
Composure is central to the Casey political brand. There is a family joke about a stubborn mood ring given to Mr. Casey in the 1970s: It never changed colors.
Still, admirers say they can identify Mr. Casey’s recent spark.
“Trump has gotten his Irish up,” said Paul Begala, the Democratic strategist who first encountered Mr. Casey when his father, Robert P. Casey, ran successfully for Pennsylvania governor in 1986.
The Casey family’s opposition to abortion is enshrined in a Supreme Court decision: Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which, in 1992, reaffirmed Roe v. Wade but upheld part of a Pennsylvania law regulating access to abortions during the elder Mr. Casey’s tenure. The former governor died in 2000.
During his time in the Senate, though, the younger Mr. Casey has become an ally of sorts for Planned Parenthood, fighting Republican efforts to defund the organization.
“I think our party is a much bigger tent than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” Mr. Casey said in his office, where a Pope Francis doll is perched beside his desk. He suggested that work on economic priorities for Democrats could transcend social issues.
It's the Watergate Express
And Seth Meyers take his shot at explaining
It's hard to keep up
But Trevor Noah does what he can to explain the Trump scandal
Useful information for your trip
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Viewing the world through rose colored eyeballs.
B.I.H. Roger E. Ailes
It took you 20 years but you fucked the United States pretty damn good.
A turd floating in a sea of self-pity
In truth is there any way to describe our Illustrious Whiner-In-Chief who is becoming notorious for pissing and moaning about how mean everybody is to him at every opportunity. His latest mewling puke fest came by way of his beloved Twitter after the man he put in charge of the Russo-Trumpinvestigation appointed a Special Counsel.
President Trump lashed out on Thursday, saying he was the target of an unprecedented witch hunt, a day after the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to investigate ties between his presidential campaign and Russian officials.Contrast the tweets which were probably done during an unsupervised period when he should have been asleep. The official statement obviously came when he was surrounded by the adults.
In a pair of early morning tweets, Mr. Trump cited, without evidence, what he called the “illegal acts” committed by the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and the campaign of his former opponent, Hillary Clinton — and said they never led to the appointment of a special counsel.
“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!” Mr. Trump wrote, misspelling counsel.
Moments later, Mr. Trump added, “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
The tweets, shortly before 8 a.m., were a stark contrast to his muted reaction to the announcement on Wednesday evening that Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, had been named to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
In a statement released by the White House, the president said: “As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”
How Mr. Trump should respond to the appointment was the subject of brief, but lively debate in the Oval Office, several senior officials said, with most of the president’s aides counseling a conciliatory tone. Mr. Trump often takes his most combative stances early in the morning on Twitter.
Preparations for Donald's World Tour
He could at least smile
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
A bit of Memphis soul
Amy Black with an excellent backing group asks "What Makes A Man" from her album Memphis.
The Generosity of Trump
They have too much to lose
While members of Congress are assimilating the latest Trump Russian revelations and wondering if it is time to find and dust off their long unused spines, one group know it can never do anything of substance about him. The senior Republican leadership knows full well their nuts are in a salad shooter if they ever give up Cheeto Mussolini.
The revelation, based on contemporaneous notes kept by Mr. Comey, heightened the unease among Republicans on Capitol Hill and produced new calls for Mr. Comey to testify. But it did not seem to stir Republican leaders to any new level of urgency. Their position has puzzled Democrats, political analysts and many in the news media who keep asking: What will it take for leading Republicans to abandon Mr. Trump given the escalating White House chaos and its impact on the policy agenda?You can say it many ways but ultimately it comes down to protecting their currently gold plated meal tickets. And a center point of the Republican Party has always been that greed supercedes country.
But as they survey the political and investigative landscape, Republicans say they have good reasons for not being swept up in what they see as the self-inflicted disorder rocking Mr. Trump and his White House.
Top Republicans on and off the Senate Intelligence Committee say they have yet to see convincing evidence of Mr. Trump colluding with the Russians during the presidential campaign, despite the intense scrutiny. Without such proof, Republicans are reluctant to engage in undermining Mr. Trump.
House and Senate Republicans say that the inquiries being conducted by the intelligence committees and other panels are more than sufficient and capable of producing results.
Republicans are loath to accede to Democratic demands of any kind. What is the point of being in control of the House and Senate if they are going to acquiesce to heated Democratic cries for a special counsel or a select committee?
Republicans are acutely aware that if they turn on Mr. Trump, they run the risk of alienating the voters who made him president, voters the Republican Party is going to badly need in the midterm elections.
While Democrats and growing numbers of independent voters are digging in against Mr. Trump, conservatives in red states that provide the party majorities in the House and Senate are still standing by him. It is the same reasoning behind the Republican push for their health care bill — they need to mollify the base even at the risk of alienating other voting blocs.
He is having a good laugh
As he surveys the havoc he has created with the election of his Giant Orange Stooge as president of the US. And like anyone who has started a good joke, he can't resist adding some more to it. And so Putin trolls the US government.
President Vladimir V. Putin, deriding as “political schizophrenia” a furor in Washington over President Trump’s sharing of classified intelligence with Russia, said on Wednesday that he was ready to give American lawmakers “a record” of the Oval Office meeting between Mr. Trump and senior Russian diplomats.Such a fine mix of real and fanciful will no doubt keep Putin laughing for some time to come. And what stories he will tell his grandchildren.
Mr. Putin, speaking at a joint news conference in Sochi, Russia, with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, did not specify what record he had of the meeting between Mr. Trump; the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov; and Moscow’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey I. Kislyak. Mr. Putin insisted the whole episode was a tempest in a teacup, whipped up for political reasons.
“If the U.S. administration finds this appropriate, we’re ready to provide a record of the conversation between Lavrov and Trump to the U.S. Senate and Congress,” the Russian president said. The Russian word for “record” can refer to an audio recording, but the Interfax news agency quoted a Kremlin aide, Yuri V. Ushakov, as telling reporters that Moscow had in its possession a written record of the conversation, not a recording.
Officials in Washington have said that Mr. Trump disclosed to Mr. Lavrov highly classified information provided by Israeli intelligence about a planned terrorist operation by the Islamic State extremist group.
Mr. Putin dismissed that claim, saying, “It’s hard to imagine what else these people who generate such nonsense and rubbish can dream up next.”
He also returned to a favorite Kremlin theme: that Russia is the victim of Russophobic hysteria gripping the political establishment, notably Mr. Trump’s foes, in the United States.
“What surprises me is that they are shaking up the domestic political situation using anti-Russian slogans,” Mr. Putin said. “Either they don’t understand the damage they’re doing to their own country, in which case they are simply stupid, or they understand everything, in which case they are dangerous and corrupt.”
Someday the boy will be someone important
They hacked Trump's mouth
Seth Meyers on Trump and Russians and Comey, Oh My!
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Neil Young writes good songs
And Red Horse, a supergroup collaboration of Eliza Gilkyson, Lucy Kaplansky and John Gorka, does well with "I Am A Child"
Vlad did pay for it before the election
Cop, Veteran, US Citizen don't mean nothing
Not to the thugs being hired to handle customs these days. One such person, a New York police officer, Army veteran and citizen of the US found himself detained for hours by the ignorant thugs hired these days by US Customs as he returned from a post deployment vacation overseas. His crime was being Muslim.
Syed Ali is an American citizen, an officer in the New York Police Department, a combat veteran and a major in the United States Army Reserve. But none of that made a difference at passport control last month when he arrived at Kennedy Airport on an evening flight from Istanbul.With Trump detaining citizens and passing secrets to the Russians, I have to say I haven't felt this safe in years!
After landing, Officer Ali was led from passport control to a holding area for what Customs and Border Protection refers to as secondary screening. But instead of a quick check to confirm his identity, Officer Ali said, he was held for hours, past midnight. When he asked, after more than an hour of waiting, whether it would take much longer, an officer threatened to incarcerate him, he said.
“If you can’t sit patiently, I can gain compliance from you by putting you in a detainment cell,” he recalled a Customs and Border Protection officer’s telling him.
“I feel like my rights were violated,” Officer Ali said in an interview, still sounding a little shaken. “Are you telling me that every guy with the last name Ali is a terrorist? Are you telling me every guy with brown skin coming in from overseas is a terrorist?”
Officer Ali’s trip was part of a vacation to decompress after a two-year military deployment to Kuwait, where he had served in Operation Inherent Resolve, the mission to combat the Islamic State. In September, he is scheduled to return to his regular job with the Police Department, where he most recently worked in the transit unit.
Officer Ali is one of a number of Muslim Americans who have complained that since the start of the Trump administration they have been subjected to additional scrutiny when returning from abroad, facing hours in airport custody and what they described as hostile questioning. A retired North Carolina police chief, Hassan Aden, recounted an experience similar to Officer Ali’s, also at J.F.K., in March.
Puts ripples in his julep
Mitch certainly doesn't like excitement, it puts ripples in his julep and quivers his wattles. It also makes it harder for him to cover-up Tangerine Shitgibbon's collusion and admitted espionage with the Russians.
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who has been largely silent on President’s Trump’s increasing troubles concerning Russia, carefully pleaded with the administration to stop impeding the Republican agenda Tuesday morning as Democrats prepared to use their limited powers to pressure the White House to reveal more detail about the president’s meeting with Russian officials.Old Mitch the Turtle knows that the information passed by Tangerine to the Russians was just keeping his end of the bargain. And if that damned Shitgibbon can stop raising a ruckus every other day, Mitch can see that he his held harmless by Congress.
“I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview on Bloomberg Television on Tuesday morning, reflecting an increasingly frustrated Republican majority over the near standstill of any policy agenda in the wake of Mr. Trump’s many contentious statements. As if to emphasize that point, when he took the Senate floor on Tuesday, Mr. McConnell again criticized the Affordable Care Act.
The inscrutable Mr. McConnell did not go as far as Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who on Tuesday suggested in a statement that the information discussed by Mr. Trump with the Russians might have endangered allies.
They paid for it so he gave it to them
They being the Russians who worked so hard and at great expense to get The Tangerine Shitgibbon elected. So when Tangerine fired the FBI director for getting too close with his investigations, he thought it was safe to invite his Russian spy handlers to the oval office to hand off a few secrets, from a now former ally's spies, while their "press crew" planted a few bugs. And to distract from the election and the bugs he admits he passed on the secrets.
President Trump boasted about highly classified intelligence in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week, providing details that could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected, a current and a former American government official said Monday.Tangerine believes he has the "absolute right" to declassify any secrets he pleases. And for their efforts, he has probably already passed on quite a few and can be expected to send over anything more his good friends ask for.
The intelligence disclosed by Mr. Trump in a meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, was about an Islamic State plot, according to the officials. A Middle Eastern ally that closely guards its own secrets provided the information, which was considered so sensitive that American officials did not share it widely within the United States government or pass it on to other allies.
Mr. Trump’s disclosure does not appear to have been illegal — the president has the power to declassify almost anything. But sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it was a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship.
In fact, the ally has repeatedly warned American officials that it would cut off access to such sensitive information if it were shared too widely, the former official said. In this case, the fear is that Russia will be able to determine exactly how the information was collected and could disrupt the ally’s espionage efforts.
Trump Leaks, Colbert Speaks
What a good puppet he is
Monday, May 15, 2017
A sweet love song with a hint of bitter
Courtney Patton sings "What I Didn't Say" with some help from Jaime Wilson
A man child in his promised land
And Tom Tomorrow shows us that sadly for us it is not turning out as promised.
Not quite the wall he wanted
The US has become like Trump
Loyalty, a variant of fealty, must be given Trump but don't expect any to be returned. So it has become with people in the country we invaded and just can't figure out how to get out. Afghans who have loyally worked for the US for 5 years at great risk of their lives were promised a special visa for entry into the US, until Trump.
It has been two months since the flight landed at Newark Liberty International Airport, delivering Abdul to a country that had promised him safety.This is the kind of nasty ingratitude reflects from the top. And the idea that we can look forward to dependable service from our future employees in Afghanistan has disappeared like Trump's honesty. And turned Abdul from a good friend to a disposable item to be thrown away.
But the 25-year-old Afghan, holding a visa that allowed him to move to the United States after five years of serving the U.S. government in Afghanistan, has never officially set foot on U.S. soil. Instead, he stepped off the plane into a bewildering journey through U.S. immigration detention, during which he was stripped of his visa and placed in a holding facility for illegal immigrants without ever being told why.
Advocates say Abdul is the first known person to have his Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) revoked upon arrival to the United States but is among a few recipients of that visa to face a heightened level of scrutiny — and to be held in detention — since President Trump promised to tighten the nation’s borders.
Because the special visas are reserved for those who have risked their lives to help the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, program advocates say Abdul’s detention sends a troubling message to others who might consider helping the U.S. military at a time when the Trump administration is weighing an expanded military role in Afghanistan.
“I don’t understand why I’m being held here as a prisoner when I served the American government,” Abdul said in a recent interview through an interpreter at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center just outside the airport here.
After Abdul’s trip from Kabul on March 13, U.S. border officials denied him entry, kept him in an airport hallway for nearly two days, initially denied him access to a lawyer and had him sign a document that he couldn’t understand, he said. The document stated that Abdul had been stripped of his visa.
U.S. officials have provided no reason for denying Abdul entry. A rough transcript of his interview, as prepared by border officials, includes no questions or answers pertaining to a national security threat or criminality, instead hinting at a miscommunication about bureaucratic aspects of his visa.
They are weighing the costs
Formerly considered invincible like an unclimbed mountain, Donald Trump is starting to show handholds and safe routes out of the valley for some intrepid Republican Senators. I expect that massive constituent push back over the much promised ACA repeal helped them to see the way.Whatever, their unwavering support for Cheeto Mussolini is now starting to shimmer.
Senate Republicans, increasingly unnerved by President Trump’s volatility and unpopularity, are starting to show signs of breaking away from him as they try to forge a more traditional Republican agenda and protect their political fortunes.As Rep. Adam Schiff told Bill Maher on Real Time, many Republicans want to get him to sign off on their favorite agenda items before they turn on him and tear him to pieces. The real danger to them is whether he will collapse and bring them all down before they are ready.
Several Republicans have openly questioned Mr. Trump’s decision to fire the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and even lawmakers who supported the move have complained privately that it was poorly timed and disruptive to their work. Many were dismayed when Mr. Trump seemed to then threaten Mr. Comey not to leak negative information about him.
As they pursue their own agenda, Republican senators are drafting a health care bill with little White House input, seeking to avoid the public relations pitfalls that befell the House as it passed its own deeply unpopular version. Republicans are also pushing back on the president’s impending budget request — including, notably, a provision that would nearly eliminate funding for the national drug control office amid an opioid epidemic. And many high-ranking Republicans have said they will not support any move by Mr. Trump to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.
So far, Republicans have refrained from bucking the president en masse, in part to avoid undermining their intense push to put health care and tax bills on his desk this year. And the Republican leadership, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, remains behind Mr. Trump.
“All the work that goes into getting big things done is hard enough even in the most tranquil of environments in Washington,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican operative who worked for John A. Boehner when he was the House speaker. “But distractions like these can become a serious obstacle to aligning the interests of Congress.”
When Congress and the White House are controlled by the same party, lawmakers usually try to use the full weight of the presidency to achieve legislative priorities, through a clear and coordinated vision, patience with intransigent lawmakers and message repetition. Mr. Trump’s transient use of his bully pulpit for policy messaging has upended that playbook.
“It does seem like we have an upheaval, a crisis almost every day in Washington that changes the subject,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who has been trying to advance health care legislation, said in a television interview on Thursday night.
The latest subject-changing crisis has been the fallout from Mr. Trump’s sudden dismissal of Mr. Comey, who was leading the F.B.I.’s investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Trump suggested last week that he might have surreptitiously taped his conversations with Mr. Comey, and on Sunday two Republican senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said the president should turn over any such tapes, if they exist.
Trump is Schroedinger's Asshole
John Oliver explains
With his own words
Sunday, May 14, 2017
You want Salome with that?
Virginia O'Brien was a singer and actress whose gimmick was an immobile face. It got her in the door but as you can see by this clip from the movie Du Barry Was a Lady she wasn't always wedded to it.
Nothing more to say
The American solution to the Russian collusion
From Lawrence Tribe:
The time has come for Congress to launch an impeachment investigation of President Trump for obstruction of justice.
The remedy of impeachment was designed to create a last-resort mechanism for preserving our constitutional system. It operates by removing executive-branch officials who have so abused power through what the framers called “high crimes and misdemeanors” that they cannot be trusted to continue in office.
No American president has ever been removed for such abuses, although Andrew Johnson was impeached and came within a single vote of being convicted by the Senate and removed, and Richard Nixon resigned to avoid that fate.
Now the country is faced with a president whose conduct strongly suggests that he poses a danger to our system of government.
Ample reasons existed to worry about this president, and to ponder the extraordinary remedy of impeachment, even before he fired FBI Director James B. Comey and shockingly admitted on national television that the action was provoked by the FBI’s intensifying investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia.
Even without getting to the bottom of what Trump dismissed as “this Russia thing,” impeachable offenses could theoretically have been charged from the outset of this presidency. One important example is Trump’s brazen defiance of the foreign emoluments clause, which is designed to prevent foreign powers from pressuring U.S. officials to stray from undivided loyalty to the United States. Political reality made impeachment and removal on that and other grounds seem premature.
No longer. To wait for the results of the multiple investigations underway is to risk tying our nation’s fate to the whims of an authoritarian leader.
Comey’s summary firing will not stop the inquiry, yet it represented an obvious effort to interfere with a probe involving national security matters vastly more serious than the “third-rate burglary” that Nixon tried to cover up in Watergate. The question of Russian interference in the presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign go to the heart of our system and ability to conduct free and fair elections.
Consider, too, how Trump embroiled Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite Sessions’s recusal from involvement in the Russia investigation, in preparing admittedly phony justifications for the firing on which Trump had already decided. Consider how Trump used the vice president and White House staff to propagate a set of blatant untruths — before giving an interview to NBC’s Lester Holt that exposed his true motivation.
Trump accompanied that confession with self-serving — and manifestly false — assertions about having been assured by Comey that Trump himself was not under investigation. By Trump’s own account, he asked Comey about his investigative status even as he was conducting the equivalent of a job interview in which Comey sought to retain his position as director.
Further reporting suggests that the encounter was even more sinister, with Trump insisting that Comey pledge “loyalty” to him in order to retain his job. Publicly saying he saw nothing wrong with demanding such loyalty, the president turned to Twitter with a none-too-subtle threat that Comey would regret any decision to disseminate his version of his conversations with Trump — something that Comey has every right, and indeed a civic duty, to do.
To say that this does not in itself rise to the level of “obstruction of justice” is to empty that concept of all meaning. Obstruction of justice was the first count in the articles of impeachment against Nixon and, years later, a count against Bill Clinton. In Clinton’s case, the ostensible obstruction consisted solely in lying under oath about a sordid sexual affair that may have sullied the Oval Office but involved no abuse of presidential power as such.
But in Nixon’s case, the list of actions that together were deemed to constitute impeachable obstruction reads like a forecast of what Trump would do decades later — making misleading statements to, or withholding material evidence from, federal investigators or other federal employees; trying to interfere with FBI or congressional investigations; trying to break through the FBI’s shield surrounding ongoing criminal investigations; dangling carrots in front of people who might otherwise pose trouble for one’s hold on power.
It will require serious commitment to constitutional principle, and courageous willingness to put devotion to the national interest above self-interest and party loyalty, for a Congress of the president’s own party to initiate an impeachment inquiry. It would be a terrible shame if only the mounting prospect of being voted out of office in November 2018 would sufficiently concentrate the minds of representatives and senators today.
But whether it is devotion to principle or hunger for political survival that puts the prospect of impeachment and removal on the table, the crucial thing is that the prospect now be taken seriously, that the machinery of removal be reactivated, and that the need to use it become the focus of political discourse going into 2018.
A good man on the Democrats side
Bill Maher talks to Rep Adam Schiff
If Clapper is worried
That the shitshow known as The Trump Administration is a threat to our established way of government then you can take it to the bank that we have a very serious problem. Remember Clapper was a man who had no problems abusing and disposing of the 4th Amendment.
James R. Clapper Jr., a former director of national intelligence, said on Sunday that he found the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to be “very disturbing” and that the country’s systems of checks and balances was “under assault” by the White House.The various Sunday shows also had a stream of Trump apologists trying to defend the indefensible.
Mr. Clapper, interviewed by Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said that America’s democratic institutions were being attacked externally, a reference to Russia’s interference in the election last year, and internally.
“Internally from the president?” Mr. Tapper asked.
“Exactly,” Mr. Clapper said.
Mr. Clapper also rejected President Trump’s repeated citing of Mr. Clapper’s Senate testimony in dismissing the F.B.I. investigation into possible connections between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Repeating statements he made last week, Mr. Clapper said that his testimony to the Senate that he had not known about the investigation until Mr. Comey disclosed it publicly, “should not be considered exculpatory.”
“The bottom line is, I don’t know if there was collusion, and I don’t know of any evidence to it,” Mr. Clapper said. “I can’t refute it, and I can’t confirm it.”
Mr. Clapper said on CNN that sensitive investigations were kept as compartmentalized as possible. In a separate appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” he said he had left counterintelligence investigations to the F.B.I.
Mr. Clapper also rebutted repeated assertions by the White House that Mr. Comey had lost the support of the F.B.I.’s rank and file, saying that the sudden dismissal on Tuesday was “very disturbing” to bureau employees.
The concerns about the firing have extended beyond Washington. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday showed that 29 percent of Americans approved of the decision, and 38 percent disapproved.
Sean gets spicey
Melissa McCarthy reprises Sean Spicer better than Sean himdelf.
Sunday is a good day for this
Saturday, May 13, 2017
The Next Big Bang
From Vanessa Peters and Ice Cream On Mondays
Wondering why Trump does that?
what if Trump is exactly as he appears: a hopeless narcissist with the attention span of a fruit fly, unable to maintain consistent beliefs or commitments from moment to moment, acting on base instinct, entirely situationally, to bolster his terrifyingly fragile ego.
Another NC Senator, another Impeachment?
The last time an American President faced impeachment for a real crime, it was a senator from North Carolina, Sam Ervin, who led the Senate investigation. That time Sam Ervin rose to the occasion. Now we face another impeachment and another senator from North Carolina who has to show us if he has the integrity needed to lead the Senate investigation.
This much is less ambiguous: Now the committee’s chairman as it investigates ties between President Trump’s associates and Russia, the unobtrusive Mr. Burr is shrugging into a spotlight he never expected and does not especially seem to relish.The choice in Senator Burr's hands really is between his country and his party and either way he may well be digging his own political grave. Few people in history have the moral fiber to stand up for what is right in his position, will he be one?
The senator’s thorny position — a Republican lawmaker investigating the Republican president, whom he embraced last year on the campaign trail in his own re-election bid — has grown more trying by the day.
Mr. Burr, 61, has watched a fellow Republican, Representative Devin Nunes of California, fumble the House Intelligence Committee inquiry, raising the stakes for a Senate panel that many view as the only credible chance to hold the administration to account on Capitol Hill.
The senator has emerged, whether he likes it or not, as the lawmaker who might well be tasked with undermining not only a president he has supported vocally but the entire Republican Party in a period of unified rule, championing an inquiry that could consume what was supposed to be period of conservative policy feats. His supporters insist he is beholden to no one, noting his pledge last year never to seek office again after his re-election.
But at the same time, Mr. Burr’s independence was forcefully questioned after reports in February that he had spoken with the White House and engaged with news organizations to dispute potentially damaging articles about associates of Mr. Trump’s having contact with Russian intelligence operatives. Democrats have grumbled that Mr. Burr was slow-walking his investigation, calling for a special counsel to take up the case.
Then there was the small matter of Mr. Trump’s firing Mr. Comey on Tuesday, throwing the bureau’s own investigation into flux and further elevating the Senate review. On Friday, the Senate’s burden seemed to grow again after Mr. Trump suggested in a series of threat-laced early-morning Twitter posts that there may be secret tapes of Mr. Comey’s conversations with the president.
Mr. Burr, rarely emotive in his exchanges with reporters and generally reluctant to second-guess the administration, has not concealed his concerns in recent days.
“The timing of this and the reasoning for it doesn’t make sense to me,” he said the morning after the firing. He allowed that the circumstances had made the committee’s task “a little more difficult.”
If it smells like a skiunk
It is either a skunk or some dumb critter that got too close to a skunk. Or it may be a little skunk that lost a squirt-off with a old bull skunk, like Trump in his relations with Putin. And when you have to proclaim yourself president over 100 days after your inauguration it is in large part because people think you smell like a skunk.
Mr. Trump sometimes hands the maps out to visitors as a kind of parting gift, and a framed portrait-size version was hung on a wall in the West Wing last week. In conversations, the president dwells on the map and its import, reminding visitors about how wrong the polls were and inflating the scope of his victory.All show and no boat. Poor Cheeto Mussolini looks for all the shiny baubles on the tree and could care less about the tree. He doesn't realize that even the people who voted for him want him to tend the tree. And the whole world knows how to get his goat and make him look and act like a fool.
At the root of Mr. Trump’s unpredictable presidency, according to people close to him, is a deep frustration about attacks on his legitimacy, and a worry that Washington does not see him as he sees himself.
As he careens from one controversy to another, many of them of his own making — like his abrupt decision to fire the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, who was leading an investigation into the president’s associates — Mr. Trump seems determined to prove that he won the election on his own. It was not Russian interference. It was not Mr. Comey’s actions in the case involving Hillary Clinton’s emails. It was not a fluke of the Electoral College system. It was all him.
He sits in the dining room or Oval Office stewing over the Russia inquiry that Mr. Comey was managing, arguing to anyone who will listen that the matter is all a Democratic-inspired conspiracy to undermine the validity of his victory. Even as he was defending his decision to dismiss Mr. Comey last week, Mr. Trump signed an executive order creating a commission to investigate voting fraud in a quixotic effort to prove his unsubstantiated contention that he would have won the popular vote against Mrs. Clinton but for millions of ballots that were illegally cast against him.
Mr. Trump burns with frustration over not getting enough credit for winning the nation’s highest office after having never so much as run for City Council or town alderman. He ran when pundits predicted he would not, stayed in when they were certain he would drop out, never lost his core supporters and, amid a dysfunctional campaign that was known for self-inflicted wounds, propelled himself to victory over the vastly more experienced Clinton machine. He expected to be celebrated for it, and that has not happened.
“There’s a lot of anger. I’ve talked with him about it,” said Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a friend of Mr. Trump’s. “No other president in history has faced the barrage of press attacks, people calling for him to be impeached before he took the oath of office.”
“I think the way Trump looks at this is — the big club they’ve tried to get at him is the Russia collusion argument,” Mr. Ruddy added. “Trump sees this as a political attack, not a fair attack on him.”
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