Monday, July 31, 2017

You don't always get it right


Like what Courtney Marie Andrews sings about in "Let The Good One Go"


Ready for the New Normal


In a world that should never have seen the light of day, Tom Tomorrow illuminates what will be the New Normal of public life in Imperial Trumpsylvania.

Ah, Mooch, We Hardly Knew Ye


And that was just fine for most people. One person who knew too much of Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci was the new White House Chief of Staff who convinced Cheeto Mussolini to sack his good buddy and throw him on the trash heap of bad staff picks.
President Trump on Monday removed Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, the White House announced, ousting him just days after Mr. Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the president’s senior staff.

“Anthony Scaramucci will be leaving his role as White House Communications Director,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “Mr. Scaramucci felt it was best to give Chief of Staff John Kelly a clean slate and the ability to build his own team. We wish him all the best.”

Mr. Scaramucci’s abrupt removal came just 10 days after the wealthy New York financier was brought on to the West Wing staff, a move that convulsed an already chaotic White House and led to the departures of Sean Spicer, the former press secretary, and Reince Priebus, the president’s first chief of staff.

In a Twitter message just before 5:30 on Monday morning, just hours before the announcement about Mr. Scaramucci, Mr. Trump insisted that there has been “No WH chaos!”

The decision to remove Mr. Scaramucci became public as Mr. Kelly, who replaced Mr. Priebus as the top adviser in the White House, began his first day in charge of the White House staff. He told aides gathered in early-morning staff meetings that he intended to impose a new sense of order and operational discipline that had been absent under his predecessor.

Mr. Scaramucci had boasted about reporting directly to the president, not the chief of staff. But the decision to remove him came at Mr. Kelly’s request, the people said.

It was not clear whether Mr. Scaramucci, who is known informally as “The Mooch,” will remain at the White House in another position or will leave altogether. The White House had originally said that his official start date as a government employee was to be August 15, although he appeared to begin performing his duties immediately.
Fired before he officially started, he was the man who never was. And just as well, no one who works for Cheeto should ever get more headlines than he does.

Just where he said it would be


From the pen of Steve Sack



R.I.P. Jeanne Moreau


You put the Femme back in French cinema

Some are saying...


That Vladimir Putin's efforts to improve relations with the US have failed with the implosion of the Cheeto Mussolini administration and the latest Congressional sanctions. That assumes that Putin really wanted to improve relations.
A little more than a year after the Russian effort to interfere in the American presidential election came to light, the diplomatic fallout — an unraveling of the relationship between Moscow and Washington on a scale not seen in decades — is taking its toll.

President Vladimir V. Putin bet that Donald J. Trump, who had spoken fondly of Russia and its authoritarian leader for years, would treat his nation as Mr. Putin has longed to have it treated by the West. That is, as the superpower it once was, or at least a major force to be reckoned with, from Syria to Europe, and boasting a military revived after two decades of neglect.

That bet has now backfired, spectacularly. If the sanctions overwhelmingly passed by Congress last week sent any message to Moscow, it was that Mr. Trump’s hands are now tied in dealing with Moscow, probably for years to come.

Just weeks after the two leaders spent hours in seemingly friendly conversation in Hamburg, Germany, the prospect of the kinds of deals Mr. Trump once mused about in interviews seems more distant than ever. Congress is not ready to forgive the annexation of Crimea, nor allow extensive reinvestment in Russian energy. The new sanctions were passed by a coalition of Democrats who blame Mr. Putin for contributing to Hillary Clinton’s defeat and Republicans fearful that their president misunderstands who he is dealing with in Moscow.

So with his decision to order that hundreds of American diplomats and Russians working for the American Embassy leave their posts, Mr. Putin, known as a great tactician but not a great strategist, has changed course again. For now, American officials and outside experts said on Sunday, he seems to believe his greater leverage lies in escalating the dispute, Cold War-style, rather than subtly trying to manipulate events with a mix of subterfuge, cyberattacks and information warfare.

“One of Putin’s greatest goals is to assure Russia is treated as if it was still the Soviet Union, a nuclear power that has to be respected and feared,” said Angela Stent, the director of Eurasian, Russian and East European studies at Georgetown University. “And he thought he might get that from Trump,” said Ms. Stent, who was the national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia during the administration of George W. Bush.
Pooty may not have been lifted up by Trump, but with Trump at the helm, the US Handbasket is on a fast track to the bottom and what more could Pooty ask for?

John Oliver returns and Does The Mooch



All that golf and his handicap still sucks



Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hole In My Pocket


Ruthie Foster from the Restless Soul album.


Fail all by itself


From the pen of David Horsey



The Turtle as Resistance


Not intentionally
but Doyle McManus writes that much of the blame for the failure of the repeal of ACA/Obamacare belongs squarely on the owlish shoulders of Mitch McConnell.
Presidents succeed when they deliver on their core campaign promises, and tend to fail when they don’t. A president who thinks strategically tries to begin his tenure with a legislative victory, to bolster an image of competence and strength.

Instead, President Trump’s first big legislative effort just ended in a stinging loss. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but McConnell, the owlish Kentuckian with a now-dented reputation as a legislative wizard, was the man in charge.

What went wrong?

First, McConnell and his Republicans had no plan — in part because they never expected Trump to win the presidential election. That meant many GOP senators had never done the hard work of figuring out what kind of Obamacare replacement they wanted, and what compromises they might accept if they ever had a chance to negotiate. There was no consensus about the kind of policy outcome they were seeking, beyond something they could call “repeal.”

Second, McConnell didn’t use the regular legislative process. Instead of sending healthcare to Senate committees for deliberation, he assembled a panel of 13 GOP senators, all white men, to write a bill behind closed doors.

That had two effects. It locked Democrats out of the process. And it offended Republicans who weren’t included.

There was a pragmatic reason for the backroom process. McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan decided to make Obamacare part of a budget bill that would need only 51 votes to pass. That, they thought, meant they wouldn’t need any Democratic help, so they didn’t even try to take a bipartisan approach. The strategy would also allow them to make the bill a vehicle for cutting taxes.

But the strategy backfired. Sen. John McCain of Arizona complained that the leadership produced “a proposal behind closed doors in consultation with the administration, then [sprang] it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it's better than nothing” — a direct rebuke to McConnell.

Finally, the process went from bad to worse, culminating in a grotesque proposal — the “skinny repeal” — that McConnell promised would never become law. He asked Republican senators to ignore its substance and vote for it as an act of pure party loyalty. Three of them — McCain, Lisa Murkoswki of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — refused.

McConnell was not the only architect of this failure. Trump helped. Although the president exhorted Republicans to pull together behind something, it was clear he didn’t really care what the something was. His lobbying effort consisted largely of warning GOP dissidents that he’d punish them if they didn’t fall in line. And the bluster didn’t sway the three holdouts.
When they write new textbooks on how to pass legislation, this example will get pride of place for how not to do the process. Both The Turtle and The Shitgibbon fucked up bigly and for that we are gratreful.

Is Trump's usefulness finished?


Is Cheeto Mussolini no longer of any use to Putin? With the presence of his agents in the highest offices of the land, how much more use can a blustering, bullying failure be?
Your geopolitical nemesis is suffering a political meltdown and says you’re partly to blame. Angry legislators have slapped you with new sanctions, which their president says he will sign. What’s a resurgent autocracy to do?

In Moscow, it’s time for some game theory.

Regardless of whether the Kremlin believes its own denials of interfering in the 2016 elections, there is one undeniable truth: Russia is now Washington’s greatest political foe. Understanding that President Trump is “tied hand and foot,” as one foreign policy hawk here put it, Moscow is weighing options for retaliation.

After a dalliance on the Trump train, Russia is once again channeling the ruthless realism that drives its political id, and embracing its role as antihero.

“Okay, you think we’re bad guys, we’re going to be bad guys, and we’ll see whether you like it or not,” said Konstantin Eggert, a television political commentator, describing the Kremlin thinking.

Russia’s decision on Friday to expel dozens, perhaps hundreds, of American diplomats and other embassy staff marks the first salvo in retaliation to American sanctions that promises to be unpredictable and fraught with emotion. It is built on the frustrations of a Russian leader who perhaps thought that a Trump presidency could change everything, and then watched those hopes dissolve in scandal and recriminations.

The Russian establishment has been angry with the West before but rarely so filled with contempt. It is far worse than several years ago, when tensions rose to fever pitch over a pro-Western revolution in neighboring Ukraine, sold on Russian television as a nationalist uprising with echoes of fascism.

“No one was scared by the first [2014] sanctions, it was almost fun,” said Andrei Kolesnikov, a veteran member of Vladi­mir Putin’s press pool, who co-wrote a 2000 book of interviews with the Russian president and traveled with him to Finland recently. “Now there’s a sense among Russian officials that everything is very serious. And they’re all looking at Vladi­mir Putin to see what to do.”
No doubt Putin will tap dance on Donny's head in the months ahead. Without a functioning State Dept. and agents inside and outside of government who is there to stop him? Some golf playing old moron who can't repeal Obamacare with majorities in both Houses of Congress?

The Mooch - An Analysis


By Samantha Bee


Time to Rebrand



Saturday, July 29, 2017

One of my old favorites


Maria Muldaur singing "Midnight At The Oasis" from 1974


Just a pause...


From the pen of Steve Sack



Some hope on the horizon


For seven years the Republicans in Congress have been running vote after vote to repeal the ACA/Obamacare so when the smoke cleared after Election Day and the GOP controlled the White House and Congress, they rejoiced. At last they could repeal the hated black guy's legislation. Except for one small problem, they were all big on the WHAT but had no idea about the HOW of the deal.
The Republican Party’s seven-year quest to undo the Affordable Care Act culminated Friday in a humiliating failure to pass an unpopular bill, sparking questions about how steep the costs will be for its congressional majorities.

While lawmakers have not completely abandoned the effort, they are now confronting the consequences of their flop. Not only has it left the GOP in a precarious position heading into next year’s midterm elections, but it also has placed enormous pressure on the party to pass an ambitious and complex overhaul of federal taxes.

Strategists argued for months that Republicans risked more by not acting and alienating their conservative base than by passing an unpopular repeal bill that could turn off swing voters. They now live in the worst of both worlds — with nothing to show for seven years of campaign promises, even though dozens of vulnerable lawmakers cast votes that could leave them exposed to attacks from Democrats.

“This is an epic failure by congressional Republicans,” said Tim Phillips, president of the conservative Koch network group Americans for Prosperity. “But it’s time to pivot to tax reform. There’s no time to pout.”

In the moments after the a bare-bones repeal bill failed early Friday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said it was “time to move on.” But there seemed to be little stomach afterward among Republicans on Capitol Hill for acknowledging outright failure on their top campaign promise.

Lawmakers did agree, however, that when they return to Washington after Labor Day, they must succeed in their rewrite of the tax code after seven months that have seen too many of their top agenda items untouched.

“We’ve asked the voters for a lot,” said Rep. James B. Renacci (R-Ohio), who is leaving Congress after his current term to run for governor. “They’ve given us the House. They’ve given us the Senate. They’ve given us the presidency. It’s time to give them something back and get something done.”

Off the Hill, the collapse of the repeal effort has left conservative activists fuming about how the GOP could have flinched and pondering payback for the party establishment — particularly several moderate senators who voted for ACA repeal legislation when it had no chance of becoming law only to balk when it did.
And as is the new trend among the Republicans, the failure is blamed on the moderates rather than the fire eating radicals who won't take yes for an answer. The ones who made repeal unpalatable to a large majority of the public want to try again. And 2018 is the time to work hardest to rid Congress of their pestilence.

GOP Sens grope for their balls


And Stephen Colbert shows it to us


Trumping on


Trevor Noah's take on Cheeto Mussolini


Who ya gonna turn to?



Friday, July 28, 2017

A Strange Boy


Joni Mitchell from her Hejira album.


Trump Scouts


From the pen of Jack Ohman



Looks like Wells Fargo dropped another dookie


The new revelation about their banking practices involves the forced purchase of insurance upon borrowers of car loans. This follows upon the practice of opening unnecessary accounts and illegal adjustments to home loans in bankruptcy.
More than 800,000 people who took out car loans from Wells Fargo were charged for auto insurance they did not need, and some of them are still paying for it, according to an internal report prepared for the bank’s executives.

The expense of the unneeded insurance, which covered collision damage, pushed roughly 274,000 Wells Fargo customers into delinquency and resulted in almost 25,000 wrongful vehicle repossessions, according to the 60-page report, which was obtained by The New York Times. Among the Wells Fargo customers hurt by the practice were military service members on active duty.

Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks in the United States, is struggling to repair its image after a scandal in which its employees created millions of credit card and bank accounts that customers had never requested. That crisis, which came to a head last year, toppled Wells Fargo’s chief executive and led to millions of dollars in fines.

The bank also stands accused of having made improper adjustments to the terms of the home loans of customers who were in bankruptcy, which Wells Fargo denies.

Asked about the findings on auto insurance, Wells Fargo officials confirmed that the improper insurance practices took place and said the bank was determined to make customers whole.

“We have a huge responsibility and fell short of our ideals for managing and providing oversight of the third-party vendor and our own operations,” Franklin R. Codel, the head of consumer lending at Wells Fargo, said in an interview. “We self-identified this issue, and we made the right business decisions to end the placement of the product.”

The report, which was prepared by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman, looked at insurance policies sold to Wells customers from January 2012 through July 2016. The insurance, which the bank required, was more expensive than auto insurance that customers often already had obtained on their own.

National General Insurance underwrote the policies for Wells Fargo, which began to require the insurance on auto loans as early as 2006. The practice continued until the end of September.

For borrowers, delinquencies arose quickly because of the way the bank charged for the insurance. Say, for example, that a customer agreed to a monthly payment of $275 in principal and interest on her car loan, and arranged for the amount to be deducted from her bank account automatically. If she were not advised about the insurance and it increased her monthly payment to, say, $325, her account could become overdrawn as soon as Wells Fargo added the coverage.

The report tried to determine how many Wells Fargo customers were hurt and how much they should be compensated. It estimated that the bank owed $73 million to wronged customers.

State insurance regulations required Wells Fargo to notify customers of the insurance before it was imposed. But the bank did not always do so, the report said. And almost 100,000 of the policies violated the disclosure requirements of five states — Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Tennessee and Washington.
Any other business outside of humongous banking would be slapped with RICO indictments up the wazoo for all this. At the very least, Well Fargo should have their banking license rescinded and its parts sold off to repay the damaged customers. Not gonna happen but a boy can dream.

Selling public assets for private profit


This has long been a keystone of Republican policy, letting tax dollars create great works of value then sell them to a small group of their already wealthy friends to make them even more huge profits. Just as long as they kick back a fair share to the Republicans who made this possible. The latest targets are the assets of the Bonneville Power Administration.
Nearly half of the nation’s hydropower electricity comes from more than 250 hydropower dams that were built on the Columbia and its tributaries — a vast and complex arc of industry and technology that touches tens of millions of lives across the West every day.

Google taps the river’s energy to power a data center 90 minutes east of Portland, Ore. — drawn there by some of the cheapest, most environmentally friendly electricity in the nation. Farmers farther upriver in Washington State pump irrigation water into alfalfa fields — with both the water and the electricity supplied by a dam. The Space Needle in Seattle uses Columbia River electricity to slowly spin tourists in its sky-view restaurant. High-voltage transmission lines shoot south to California.

Now, the Trump administration has proposed rethinking the entire system, with a plan to sell the transmission network of wires and substations owned by the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency that distributes most of the Columbia basin’s output, to private buyers.

The idea is part of a package of proposals that would transform much of the infrastructure in the United States to a mixture of public and private partnerships, lowering costs to taxpayers and improving efficiency, administration officials said. Assets of two other big public power operators, based in Colorado and Oklahoma, would be sold, too, if Congress approves the measure.

Debates about government and its role in land and environmental policy are always highly charged. But perhaps nowhere could the proposed changes have a more significant impact than along the great river of the West — fourth largest by volume in North America, more than 10 times that of the Hudson. Privatization would transform a government service that requires equal standards across a vast territory — from large cities to tiny hamlets — into a private operation seeking maximum returns to investors.

Wringing profits from a system that has provided electricity at cost would inevitably raise prices, critics of the idea said, while supporters envision a streamlined grid open to innovations that government managers cannot imagine.

Those stakes start with the scale. Grand Coulee alone, the biggest dam on the river, ships power to 10 states and creates enough electricity to power all the households in Missouri for a year. The 12 million cubic yards of concrete it contains is enough to build a highway from Seattle to Miami.

The possible fate of that system is raising alarms for some, and questions for almost everyone whose life connects to the river.

“The uncertainty is the biggest thing of all: How would it work?” Terry Oxley, the captain of the tugboat, the Crown Point, said as he gazed out over the water, hands flicking the controls with practiced aplomb. Mr. Oxley, 63, has worked the tugs for 39 years.

“I guess I want more input,” he added. “Who’s going to control it? Who’s going to have the say so? When are they going to release the water, the flood control, the spill patterns for the fish? It’s such a big deal, and it’s all intertwined.”
With the power being sold at cost, there are huge profits to be made by selling some, if not all assets to people who know how to wring every last penny out of their assets. And since no one lives forever, you know their profit pictures will all be short term.

Follow the rooster


Seth Meyers Closer Look




Stephen does a Fandango


On The Mooch's phone call


As they reveal their true selves.



Thursday, July 27, 2017

She wants to know


Carolyn Wonderland tells it all Jammin' in the Van


R.I.P. June Foray


The voice of a 1000 characters, most memorably Rocket J. Squirrel and Natasha Fatale.
“June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc,” said Chuck Jones, the legendary animator who proposed her star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. “Mel Blanc was the male June Foray.”

Scouts Dis-Honor


From the pen of Kevin Siers



Government doesn't run on tweets


And the US military
made this clear when they announced that Cheeto Mussolini's tweet about transgenders in the military did not change anything as it was not official.
The military’s policy permitting transgender individuals to serve remains in place, the country’s highest military officer said on Thursday, clarifying some of the confusion surrounding President Trump’s announcement on Twitter that transgender people would no longer be accepted or allowed in the military

In a letter to the military service chiefs, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the policy on who is allowed to serve will not change until the White House sends the Defense Department a rules change and the secretary of defense issues new guidelines.

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,” General Dunford said in the letter, first reported by Reuters. “As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”

General Dunford’s guidance is the first indication from the Pentagon about one of the central questions that arose from Mr. Trump’s abrupt announcement, made in a series of tweets on Wednesday: What will happen to transgender people serving around the world?
When Cheeto tweets jump, some may jump as high as they can. The US military replys, "Awaiting your orders, sir!"

Republicans are all about pain


And if you are not rich enough for them to return your call, they want you to feel your pain. As part of that princile, the Republicans have blocked a bill that would allow VA doctors, who generally know more than Republicans, to prescribe marijuana as a pain relief in states where it is currently legal.
Republican lawmakers have blocked a vote on a bill that would have allowed Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana as a pain treatment in states where the drug is legal.

The House Rules Committee stopped a proposed “Veterans Equal Access” amendment from moving to debate on the House floor by keeping the measure out of the House’s proposed VA funding bill for next year.

The sponsor of the House provision, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore, said he was “bitterly disappointed” that his amendment was sidelined.

“This is a subject that has gained a great deal more attention and momentum,” Blumenauer told McClatchy. “More people recognize that the VA has really failed our veterans when it has come to pain management, opioids and opioid dependency.”

He noted that his amendment had the bipartisan support of nine Democrats and nine Republicans. “But somehow the [13 member] House Rules Committee decided it wasn’t going to allow this amendment.”

The Rules Committee’s move makes it more difficult for the provision to be approved this year, but not impossible: the Senate's fiscal 2018 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill contains a similar provision, and that means the amendment could still make it into the final bill when the two chambers meet later this year to negotiate a compromise.

The measure would have allowed VA doctors to consider medical marijuana for interested patients and complete the forms necessary to participate in state medical marijuana programs. With marijuana illegal under federal law, VA physicians and other providers are prohibited from recommending medical marijuana or filling out the needed paperwork.
We suspect that another cause of GOP intransigence is their investment in pharmaceutical companies that provide huge amounts of opiod pain relievers to users and abusers alike. It would not do to endanger their profits.

Stephen fixes the ending.


And he breaks a sad truth to Caitlyn Jenner.


Taint it the Truth


Samantha Bee on the spreading disease plague that is Donald Trump


Going to the root of the problem



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

She has moved so easily into her new music


It makes you wonder what else she is capable of and will we see it. "When It's My Time" gets down and blue for Imelda May.


Who could have expected.....


From the pen of Jim Morin



Trump has a reason to stay in Shitholeistan


All that good money that various mining companies will pay him if he can make the damn country safe enough to let them exploit some serious mineral deposits there. Maybe not the $1 Trillion number kicked around some years ago but large enough to entice a pea brain like Cheeto Mussolini.
The lure of Afghanistan as a war-torn Klondike is well established: In 2006, the George W. Bush administration conducted aerial surveys of the country to map its mineral resources. Under President Barack Obama, the Pentagon set up a task force to try to build a mining industry in Afghanistan — a challenge that was stymied by rampant corruption, as well as security problems and the lack of roads, bridges or railroads.

None of these hurdles has been removed in the last eight years, according to former officials, and some have worsened. They warn that the Trump administration is fooling itself if it believes that extracting minerals is a panacea for Afghanistan’s myriad ills.

“It would be dangerous to use the potential for resource exploitation as a selling point for military engagement,” said Laurel Miller, a senior analyst at RAND who served until last month as the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “The barriers to entry are really quite considerable, and that kind of argument could fuel suspicion about America’s real intentions in Afghanistan.”

But for Mr. Trump, as a businessman, it is arguably the only appealing thing about Afghanistan. Officials said he viewed mining as a “win-win” that could boost that country’s economy, generate jobs for Americans and give the United States a valuable new beachhead in the market for rare-earth minerals, which has been all but monopolized by China.

China already has a $3 billion contract to develop a copper mine about 25 miles southeast of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Officials said Mr. Trump was determined not to spend American lives and treasure in Afghanistan only to watch China lock up its rare-earth deposits, which are used to make products from wind turbines to computer chips.

Mr. Silver, the chemical executive, may head an effort to maximize the rights for American companies to extract these minerals, according to a senior official.

Mr. Trump’s interest also reflects how his military advisers have struggled to present him with other persuasive reasons to send troops to the country, where the United States has been at war since 2001.
China is also interested and has a huge advantage over the US, it is not trying to kill everyone who doesn't want them but is willing to work with whomever it needs. So what this means is that Trump has to turn Shitholeistan from a backwater Imperial outpost to a full scale Imperial colony exploitable by the finest American businessmen available. Can he do it ??

New Ethics Chief has very flexible ethics


And while he may be very good at working within government processes, he does seem rather shaky on the purpose of his position.
David J. Apol, named by President Trump last week as the new head of the Office of Government Ethics, has repeatedly clashed with colleagues over his career at the agency as he sought to roll back or loosen ethics requirements on federal employees, including those in the White House, three former senior officials at the agency said.

But the tension has been building for at least a decade, during two stints Mr. Apol served at the Office of Government Ethics, his former colleagues said. Mr. Apol has argued that the agency is often too rigid in interpreting conflict-of-interest laws, they said.

As recently as this spring, Mr. Apol had a disagreement with Walter M. Shaub Jr., the departing director, when Mr. Apol suggested that Derek T. Kan, then a general manager at Lyft, the car-sharing service, should not be required to sell his vested stock options in the company before he accepted a job at the Department of Transportation as the head of policy.

Mr. Shaub said he overruled Mr. Apol, who has served as general counsel of the agency since 2014, arguing that many policy matters now before the Department of Transportation could affect Lyft’s financial fate — including possible actions related to self-driving cars and the car-sharing industry.

“It was so immediately obviously crazy,” Mr. Shaub said. He said Mr. Apol’s general approach to government ethics was “loosey-goosey.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Apol conceded that he had at first questioned whether a divestment was necessary in this case, although he added that he ultimately agreed with Mr. Shaub. But he proudly acknowledged that he had frequently raised questions about how the agency interprets federal ethics laws that govern the activity of 2.7 million federal employees in more than 130 executive agencies, including the White House.

“As an attorney in the office, I thought it was useful to ask if all the assumptions we made and practices we had were necessarily the best way to do things,” Mr. Apol said. “I would oppose changing the rules in any way that did not protect the public’s trust.”

One early test for Mr. Apol could be a decision he must make on Anthony Scaramucci, recently named as Mr. Trump’s communications director. Mr. Scaramucci seeks a tax break that will help him save tens of millions of dollars when he sells his stake in the investment firm SkyBridge Capital.

So-called certificates of divestiture are offered to incoming federal employees as a way to make it easier for the wealthy to take government jobs without major tax consequences. But Mr. Shaub has questioned if Mr. Scaramucci is entitled to such a benefit because he had entered into a deal to sell his stake in SkyBridge before he was hired for the White House communications job.

Mr. Apol said he had not yet decided if Mr. Scaramucci should get the tax benefit.

In the past seven months, Mr. Apol has played a central role in making major ethics decisions related to the Trump administration, including reviewing the financial disclosure report and issuing certificates of divestiture for Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and for other senior appointees.

Already, according to staff members at the Office of Government Ethics, Mr. Apol has advocated consulting with the White House before he issues certain policies — like one establishing rules related to legal defense funds that some Trump administration officials are setting up. He also wants to check with the White House before the office sends letters to members of Congress who have raised questions about White House ethics matters.

“Moves like this jeopardize O.G.E.’s independence,” Mr. Shaub said.
He sounds as flexible as a Hindu Nautch dancer and his OK of Jared Kushner shows he is aware of which side of the bread is buttered. Besides, who needs ethics when we have Trump in the White House?

Trevor does Mitch very well


And explains the Trumpcare zombie, too.


The Madman who rules on Planet Turd


Colbert on Donny Boy Scout


Great Expectations



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lucky Barn is the location


And "Subtle Love" is the title of this sweet song from Joan Shelley


If only we knew how badly he spelled


From the pen of Bill Schorr



Real ticks are spreading


Ticks have always been a problem
in warmer climates and now as our climate warms up their range is reaching farther north than ever before. And the ones coming up are more aggressive than previously and vectors of dangerous diseases.
With the expansion of the suburbs and a push to conserve wooded areas, deer and mice populations are thriving. They provide ample blood meals for ticks and help spread the pests to new regions.

Originally from the Southeast, the lone star tick, for example, is heading north; it can now be found in 1,300 counties in 39 states. The blacklegged tick, also called the deer tick, is expanding its territory, too. In a recent study, Dr. Eisen reported a nearly 45 percent increase since 1998 in the number of counties with blacklegged ticks.

Thomas Mather, director of the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center, said it used to get reports of three or four lone star ticks in the greater Chicago area each year. Now, it is receiving up to 15.

When a tick species marches into a new region, it poses a double-barreled threat, said Jerome Goddard, extension professor of medical and veterinary entomology at Mississippi State University.

First, the species brings diseases from its original location. Second, the ticks pick up new pathogens from animals in their new ecosystem.

Physicians and patients in a tick’s new home may be less familiar with the diseases it carries. They can overlook symptoms or attribute them to a different cause, delaying effective treatment.

The best known threat is Lyme disease. Cases in the United States increased from about 12,000 annually in 1995 to nearly 40,000 in 2015. Experts say the real number of infections is likely closer to 300,000.

But scientists are finding ticks carry more than just Lyme: At least a third of known tick-borne pathogens were found in the last 20 years. Heartland virus and Bourbon virus, which can prove fatal, were discovered in just the last five years.

Powassan virus, a rare but dangerous pathogen that can cause permanent brain damage or death, can be passed from tick to human in just 15 minutes. It was discovered in 1958, and an average of seven cases are reported each year. Earlier this month, a resident of Saratoga County, N.Y., who had Powassan disease died.

Dr. Gary Wormser, founder of the Lyme Disease Diagnostic Center at New York Medical College, said the most worrisome tick-borne contagion he sees is babesiosis, which can cause malaria-like symptoms and require hospitalization. A few of his patients have died from it; several required intensive care.

Before 2001, babesiosis was not found in Westchester, N.Y. But Westchester Medical Center has diagnosed at least 21 cases in the past year. A study of babesiosis in Wisconsin found a 26-fold increase in the number of cases between 2001 to 2003, and 2012 to 2015.

In places where the lone star tick is gaining prevalence, doctors also are seeing an increase in cases of alpha-gal syndrome, a strange allergy to red meat induced by tick bites.

Alpha-gal is a sugar molecule carried by the lone star tick. When the tick bites a human, it activates the immune system, which starts producing alpha-gal antibodies.

The body becomes wired to fight alpha-gal sugar molecules, which are abundant in red meat. Eating meat can trigger allergic reactions, from an itchy rash to anaphylactic shock.
It would be nice if the government would spend as much money seeking a cure for these diseases as they do on research to weaponize them. But we can delay any though of that until we get a real government in Washington.

How sharper than a serpent's tooth


It is to have a thankless Senator
. And this modification of the original Shakespeare is well applied to the senior Senator from Arizona, John McCain. Except for a brief interlude in North Vietnam, John has had access to the best government provided health care possible from his cradle in Panama to his imminent grave. And to say thank you to all the taxpayers who have ponied up for this, he is dragging his own sick self back to DC to vote for the repeal of the ACA and the elimination of health insurance for over 30 Million of his fellow citizens.
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, is set to arrive at the Capitol at 2:45 p.m., despite a diagnosis of brain cancer, to cast his vote on whether to begin debating legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

After seven months of strategizing, debate and closed-door meetings, the Senate finally is voting. Senate Republican leaders can afford to lose only two Republicans. One is almost certainly gone, Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Senators Dean Heller of Nevada, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are still on the fence, but leaders think they can win them over. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, one of the most vocal opponents of the Republican bill to replace the health care law, now appears ready to at least debate it.

If the motion to begin debate passes, the first vote will be on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. That is likely to fail, and would be followed by a vote on the Senate Republican bill to replace the health law.

If that also fails, Senate leaders may fall back on a narrow bill that repeals the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that nearly everyone have health insurance, a separate mandate that most employers offer their employees health insurance and a repeal of the medical device tax.

The goal of that would be to simply get senators to negotiations with the House on a final repeal measure.
Nice to know these evil fuckers have a backup plan if their Plan C fails. It remains to be seen if the ever appreciative Sen. McCain will be around for that vote. His cancer is an aggressive kind, the same kind that killed his friend Ted Kennedy.

The only crime so far


Stephen Colbert on the Art of Self Pardoning


Boggles the mind



Monday, July 24, 2017

Linda with friends Dolly & Emmylou


Blue Train from her album Feels Like Home


I hope they find a cure


From the pen of Dave Granlund



Not sure I want Trump to end up this way


But the way Tom Tomorrow explains the current Russian crisis, his ending would just right for Cheeto Mussolini.

Having assailed the elfin A.G.


Cheeto Mussolini
has now bleated out a tweet asking why "our beleaguered A.G." hasn't been busily distracting the rubes with an unnecessary investigation of Hillary.
President Trump turned up the pressure on his own attorney general on Monday, calling him “beleaguered” in a tweet questioning why the Justice Department is not investigating Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Trump’s comments are remarkable because if the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is beleaguered of late it is largely because of Mr. Trump himself.

In an interview last week with The New York Times, Mr. Trump said he never would have nominated Mr. Sessions if he knew he intended to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling and the Trump campaign. Those comments raised speculation that Mr. Sessions would quit, but he did not. Instead, Mr. Sessions said he would stay on as attorney general “as long as that is appropriate.”

Mr. Sessions has made it a priority to address violence, gangs and drugs — carrying out Mr. Trump’s inaugural pledge to end “American carnage.” But his tense relationship with Mr. Trump has overshadowed his agenda at the Justice Department. Mr. Sessions was the first senator to endorse Mr. Trump’s candidacy and was an architect of his populist message on immigration and trade.

In his tweet, Mr. Trump returned to campaign rhetoric, suggesting his Democratic opponent should be the subject of an investigation into murky ties to Russia, not him.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump tweeted that “so many people” were asking why Mr. Sessions and the special counsel were not looking into Mrs. Clinton and her deleted emails.

After winning the election, Mr. Trump declared that the Justice Department should not pursue investigations of Mrs. Clinton. But some of his outside advisers have called for him to push for such an inquiry. Mrs. Clinton also faced investigations into her family’s foundation and her use of a private email server.
Either Cheeto is so shallow he will say anything to make him look good or his dementia has trashed his short term memory.

Is he capable of giving testimony?


Jared Kushner
had to fill out a very detailed form listing among other things, foreign contacts and details of his finances. Somehow the whiz kid, most noted for overpaying for a prestigious property at the top of the market, managed to 'forget' to include over 100 contacts that should have been included and over $1 Billion in financing. Naturally when he was called to testify before Congress, he was not required to give his testimony under oath or in public.
President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, emerged Monday from a private, two-hour-long meeting with congressional investigators and said his meetings last year with Russians were not part of any attempt by Moscow to disrupt the presidential election.

“All of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign,” Mr. Kushner said on the White House grounds. “I did not collude with Russians, nor do I know of anyone in the campaign who did.”

He said President Trump won the election because he had a better message and ran a smarter campaign than Hillary Clinton, not because he had help from Russia.

“Suggesting otherwise ridicules those who voted for him,” Mr. Kushner said in brief remarks. He took no questions from reporters.

In his prepared remarks to investigators, Mr. Kushner said he had been unaware that a June 2016 meeting he attended at Trump Tower was set up in the hope that a Russian lawyer would provide the Trump campaign with damaging information about Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Kushner, who gave his statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday, said he went to the meeting at the request of the president’s eldest son, Donald J. Trump Jr. Mr. Kushner said he did not read an email forwarded by the younger Mr. Trump saying that the Russian government was providing dirt about Mrs. Clinton as part of its effort to help the Trump campaign.

In his prepared remarks, Mr. Kushner gave his first public explanation of his contacts with Russian government officials and other Kremlin-connected people over the past year. He acknowledged that after the November election, he sought a direct line of communication to the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. He characterized that action as a routine part of his job in establishing foreign contacts for Mr. Trump’s transition team.

In the remarks, Mr. Kushner flatly denied any collusion: “I had no improper contacts. I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government.”
We don't know yet what Jared said but we can tell from his remarks that he is in way over his head and the Republicans need to handle him carefullyso he doesn't do a Junior on them.It would be nice if they also pulled his security clearence and relieved him of duties he will never fulfill.

Life's solutions can be simple



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Everything Comes Apart


Nina Violet


Vlad cares for his ward


From the pen of David Horsey



The Land of The Cool Khat


In Ethiopia there is not much to do. The government is trying to change that and rebuild the economy of Ethiopia. The government has one serious quandary, the growing and selling of khat is one of the major sources of revenue. The government also sees khat as an impediment ot its efforts to revitalize the country.
The country’s government, which rules the economy with a tight grip, is worried that the habit could derail its plans to transform Ethiopia into a middle-income country in less than a decade ― a national undertaking that will require an army of young, capable workers, it says.

Khat is legal and remains so mainly because it is a big source of revenue for the government. But there are mounting concerns about its widespread use.

As many as 1.2 million acres of land are thought to be devoted to khat, nearly three times more than two decades ago. And the amount of money khat generates per acre surpasses all other crops, including coffee, Ethiopia’s biggest export, said Gessesse Dessie, a researcher at the African Studies Center Leiden at Leiden University.

That payoff, and the dwindling availability of land, has pushed thousands of farmers to switch to khat, he said. The changes have come as the government has pushed farmers off land that it has given to foreign investors in recent years.

Often associated with famine and marathon runners, Ethiopia is trying to change its global image by engineering a fast-growing economy, hoping to mimic Asian nations like China. It has poured billions of dollars into industrial parks, roads, railways, airports and other infrastructure projects, including Africa’s largest dam.

In cities across the country, skyscrapers grow like mushrooms, and along with them, dance clubs, restaurants and luxury resorts. According to government statistics, the country’s economy has been growing at a 10 percent clip for more than a decade.

But for all the fanfare surrounding what is often described as Ethiopia’s economic miracle, its effects are often not felt by the country’s young people, who make up about 70 percent of the nation’s 100 million people. There simply are not enough jobs, young people complain, often expressing doubt over the government’s growth figures.

It is because of this lack of jobs, many say, that they take up khat in the first place ― to kill time.

“It’s a huge problem,” said Shidigaf Haile, a public prosecutor in Gonder, a city in northern Ethiopia, which was rocked by violent protests last year, mainly by young people over the absence of jobs.

More than half of the city’s youth now chew khat, Mr. Shidigaf said. Many gather in khat dens away from prying eyes.

“It’s because there is a lack of work,” he added, saying there were numerous cases of people who were so dependent on the leaves, sold in packs, that they turned to petty crime. The government recognizes the problem, he said, but so far it has not been tackled directly.

“It’s bad for Ethiopia’s economic development because they become lazy, unproductive, and their health will be affected,” he said.
What to do? Khat is too deep in the economy and daily life of the country to easily root it out and its widespread use is hindering efforts to provide an alternative to chewing khat.Ethiopia is really caught between a rock and a hard place.

Trump's Loyalty


Seth Meyers and a Closer Look at Trump and his idea of loyalty.


Look ahead to the future


Hat available from Wonkette.com
Jesus you find on your own



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cook For You


Kellie Rucker singing and playing the harp.


Not that I want to know


From the pen of Joel Pett



Olive Yang, Drug Running, CIA Supported Burmese Warlord


All that and prison and torture too and you still managed to live to be 90. Truly a Badass.

He hasn't done anything wrong


But make no mistake Cheeto Mussolini has gas and he knows how to use it has the power to pardon anybody he chooses. And he says that with the sense that he does not know the limits of that power.
President Trump on Saturday asserted the “complete power to pardon” relatives, aides and possibly even himself in response to investigations into Russia’s meddling in last year’s election, as he came to the defense of Attorney General Jeff Sessions just days after expressing regret about appointing him.

Mr. Trump suggested in a series of early morning messages on Twitter that he had no need to use the pardon power at this point but left the option open. Presidents have the authority to pardon others for federal crimes, but legal scholars debate whether a president can pardon himself. Mr. Trump’s use of the word “complete” seemed to suggest he did not see a limit to that authority.

“While all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us,” he wrote on Twitter. “FAKE NEWS.”

The Washington Post reported in recent days that the president and his advisers had discussed pardons as a special counsel intensifies an investigation into whether associates of Mr. Trump and his campaign conspired with Russia to intervene in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Mr. Trump also responded on Saturday to an article by The Post reporting that Mr. Sessions may have discussed campaign activities and policy with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, last year, despite his public statements to the contrary. In the article, The Post cited intercepted communications between Mr. Kislyak and his home office in Moscow. Mr. Trump excoriated the newspaper and expressed no concern about his attorney general’s conduct.
Given the sleaziness of his administration, he could stay very busy pardoning his staff and appointees of various federal crimes, but he is mistaken if he believes he can pardon himself. He will have to trust President Pence to do that.

Sam gives a shout out to Loony Louie Gohmert


While discussing transgender confusion among Republicans during House general orders.


Collusions Eleven


Stephen Colbert touts the newest blockbuster hit of the summer.


The progress of denial



Friday, July 21, 2017

Oh how the rose is red


And "Lily's Fair" sung by Terra Lightfoot


The Senate will conduct any impeachment trial


From the pen of Glenn McCoy



Now that they are insured


The black guy gave them affordable health insurance
and they never forgave him for it so when it came time to elect a congressmoop, they went with the moop who promised to repeal it. And now that repeal may actually happen, millions of people are starting to realize it would be a very bad idea.
Five years ago, the Affordable Care Act had yet to begin its expansion of health insurance to millions of Americans, but Jeff Brahin was already stewing about it.

“It’s going to cost a fortune,” he said in an interview at the time.

This week, as Republican efforts to repeal the law known as Obamacare appeared all but dead, Mr. Brahin, a 58-year-old lawyer and self-described fiscal hawk, said his feelings had evolved.

“As much as I was against it,” he said, “at this point I’m against the repeal.”

“Now that you’ve insured an additional 20 million people, you can’t just take the insurance away from these people,” he added. “It’s just not the right thing to do.”

As Mr. Brahin goes, so goes the nation.

When President Trump was elected, his party’s long-cherished goal of dismantling the Affordable Care Act seemed all but assured. But eight months later, Republicans seem to have done what the Democrats who passed the law never could: make it popular among a majority of Americans.

Support for the Affordable Care Act has risen since the election — in some polls, sharply — with more people now viewing the law favorably than unfavorably. Voters have besieged their representatives with emotional telephone calls and rallies, urging them not to repeal, one big reason Republicans have had surprising trouble in fulfilling their promise despite controlling both Congress and the White House.

The change in public opinion may not denote newfound love of the Affordable Care Act so much as dread of what might replace it. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that both the House and Senate proposals to replace the law would result in over 20 million more uninsured Americans. The shift in mood also reflects a strong increase in support for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor that the law expanded to cover far more people, and which faces the deepest cuts in its 52-year history under the Republican plans.

Most profound, though, is this: After years of Tea Party demands for smaller government, Republicans are now pushing up against a growing consensus that the government should guarantee health insurance. A Pew survey in January found that 60 percent of Americans believe the federal government should be responsible for ensuring that all Americans have health coverage. That was up from 51 percent last year, and the highest in nearly a decade.
The Republicans, especially the ignorant sods in the Fredom Caucus are realizing it is much easier to prevent people from getting something than it is to take away what they enjoy and know is good for them.

Because he has no defense


Our Great Orange Protector Cheeto Mussolini
has commanded his minions to find all the dirt they can on Robert Mueller and his team of investigators as they dig deeper into the ordinary workings of the Trump crime family along with their espionage activities.Whatever they find will be magnified a thousand fold and given to his horde of flying monkeys to fling at Special Counsel Mueller.
President Trump’s lawyers and aides are scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation — or even build a case to fire Mr. Mueller or get some members of his team recused, according to three people with knowledge of the research effort.

The search for potential conflicts is wide-ranging. It includes scrutinizing donations to Democratic candidates, investigators’ past clients and Mr. Mueller’s relationship with James B. Comey, whose firing as F.B.I. director is part of the special counsel’s investigation.

The effort to investigate the investigators is another sign of a looming showdown between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller, who has assembled a team of high-powered prosecutors and agents to examine whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers aided Russia’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election.

Some of the investigators have vast experience prosecuting financial malfeasance, and the prospect that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry could evolve into an expansive examination of Mr. Trump’s financial history has stoked fears among the president’s aides. Both Mr. Trump and his aides have said publicly they are watching closely to ensure Mr. Mueller’s investigation remains narrowly focused on last year’s election.

Mr. Trump also said Mr. Mueller would be going outside his mandate if he begins investigating matters unrelated to Russia, like the president’s personal finances. Mr. Trump repeatedly declined to say what he might do if Mr. Mueller appeared to exceed that mandate. But his comments to The Times represented a clear message to Mr. Mueller.

“The president’s making clear that the special counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said during a news briefing on Thursday.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the special counsel, declined to comment.
Cheeto wants Mueller to only look for the turd that he has hidden away where it can't be found. Mueller, like any good prosecutor is following the evidence and if it uncovers Trump's Friendly Money Laundry along with his espionage, so be it. Don Cheeto needs to remember that confession is good for the soul.

Samantha Bee explains the Voter Suppression Commission



Colbert is still the greratest


Talking about Trump


When you blow hard and suck harder



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sweet Troubled Man


Jill Andrews


He's doing just fine as he is


From the pen of R J Matson



Putin & His Toys


Trevor Noah shows us the toys he likes and the toys he doesn't.


Doubleheader


The Nevada Parole Board
is reviewing the case of Orenthal James Simpson to determine if he is eligible for parole. His chances are quite good he will get parole.

Also Ford Motor Company will begin selling their new Ford Bronco in the second half of this year, about now.

Coincidence ?? We shall see.

Trump's Last Bank


The last legitimate bank
willing to lend him money, Deutsche Bank, is now under serious investigation because of its association with Donald Trump and Donald Trumps association with big time money laundering.
During the presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump pointed to his relationship with Deutsche Bank to counter reports that big banks were skeptical of doing business with him.

After a string of bankruptcies in his casino and hotel businesses in the 1990s, Mr. Trump became somewhat of an outsider on Wall Street, leaving the giant German bank among the few major financial institutions willing to lend him money.

Now that two-decades-long relationship is coming under scrutiny.

Banking regulators are reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit, which caters to an ultrarich clientele, according to three people briefed on the review who were not authorized to speak publicly. The regulators want to know if the loans might expose the bank to heightened risks.

Separately, Deutsche Bank has been in contact with federal investigators about the Trump accounts, according to two people briefed on the matter. And the bank is expecting to eventually have to provide information to Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

It was not clear what information the bank might ultimately provide. Generally, the bank is seen as central to understanding Mr. Trump’s finances since it is the only major financial institution that continues to conduct sizable business with him. Deutsche Bank has also lent money to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and to his family real estate business.

Although Deutsche Bank recently landed in legal trouble for laundering money for Russian entities — paying more than $600 million in penalties to New York and British regulators — there is no indication of a Russian connection to Mr. Trump’s loans or accounts at Deutsche Bank, people briefed on the matter said. The bank, which declined to comment, scrutinizes its accounts for problematic ties as part of so-called “know your customer” banking rules and other requirements.

And with one of its most famous clients headed to the White House, the bank designed a plan for overseeing the accounts of Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner and presented it to regulators at the New York State Department of Financial Services early this year. The plan essentially called for monitoring the accounts for red flags such as exceptionally favorable loan terms or unusual partners.

Additionally, the New York regulators recently requested information related to the hundreds of millions in loans Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management division provided Mr. Trump, one of the people said, paying particular attention to personal guarantees he made to obtain the loans. Those guarantees have declined as the loans were paid down and the property values increased, but it remains a source of interest to the regulators.
Donald's position as the seller of overpriced real estate makes him the perfect foil for for money launderers and Russia makes the perfect source of money to launder. Trump and Russia perfect together and guaranteed to get your money squeaky clean.

Not impressive by any standard


Seth Meyers takes a closer look at Trump 'N Stuff so we don't have to.


GOP has every angle covered



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

There is a musician called Hemming


She has a website and an album. This song, "Vitamins" is on it.


What he has made in America


From the pen of Jack Ohman



The mark of a failed president


When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was unable to pass his horrible Trumpcare or even simply repeal the ACA/Obamacare with no replacement, Cheeto Mussolini threw a hissy fit and cried to his minions to "Let Obamacare Fail". That this would endanger the lives of millions of Americans and show his total lack of leadership never occurred to the Man In The Cheap Blue Suit.
The seven-year Republican quest to undo the Affordable Care Act appeared to reach a dead end on Tuesday in the Senate, leaving President Trump vowing to let President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement collapse.

Mr. Trump declared that his plan was now to “let Obamacare fail,” and suggested that Democrats would then seek out Republicans to work together on a bill to bury the Affordable Care Act. If he is determined to make good on that pledge, he has plenty of levers to pull, from declining to reimburse insurance companies for reducing low-income customers’ out-of-pocket costs to failing to enforce the mandate that most Americans have health coverage.

“It’ll be a lot easier,” Mr. Trump said at the White House, adding: “We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”

The fate of the repeal effort looked to be sealed on Tuesday, when a last-ditch attempt to force a vote to abolish the health law without a replacement fell short of support. The majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, seemed resolved to force senators to vote next week, but by Tuesday afternoon, it was clear he did not have 50 votes even to clear a procedural hurdle before considering a repeal-only measure.

The collapse highlighted a harsh reality for Senate Republicans: While they freely assailed the health law when Mr. Obama occupied the White House, they could not come up with a workable plan to unwind it that would keep both moderate Republicans and conservatives on board. It was an enormous embarrassment for a party that rode electoral waves to control first the House, then the Senate and then the White House, but has not been able to deliver a major legislative victory.

“This has been a very, very challenging experience for all of us,” Mr. McConnell said. “Everybody’s given it their best shot, and as of today, we just simply do not have 50 senators who can agree on what ought to replace the existing law.”

The reaction on Wall Street was muted. Stocks spent most of the day lower as shares of health insurers declined, and the dollar, which has steadily lost ground for most of the year, slipped further.

Mr. Trump has considerable leverage to gum up the works of the Affordable Care Act. He could throw insurance markets into a tailspin at any time by cutting off the subsidy payments to insurers, as he has threatened to do. He could further destabilize the markets by not enforcing the mandate that most Americans have health insurance.

And he could cancel advertising and other efforts to encourage enrollment under the Affordable Care Act when the annual sign-up period begins in November. A barrage of negative statements from the administration could project an official view that the health law is collapsing, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I guess we should be happy that he doesn't have any clue about being a president but he is surrounded by folks who do know how to destroy so until he is removed he will create a great deal of damage.

The Absurdities of Trump


Seth Meyers tries to explain them without laughing


Look for The 3 Fingered Sphincter



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Catch Me If You Can


Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds


The only thing Trump will make in America


From the pen of Kevin Siers



Last night Mitch lost 2 Senators


When Ted Cruz's mini-me Mike Lee and his own mini-me Jerry Moran came out against Mitch McConnell's Killer "health Care" Bill it effectively killed any hope of the bills passage at this time. With a mindless base howling for repeal of the ACA/Obamacare and an equally mindless President too Mitch had to do something. So he threw ACA/Obamacare repeal off the cliff.
With their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in tatters, Senate leaders on Tuesday pushed to vote on a different measure that would repeal major parts of President Barack Obama’s health law without a replacement — but that plan appeared also to collapse.

Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, all Republicans, immediately declared they could not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement — enough to doom the effort before it could get any momentum.

“I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” Ms. Capito said in a statement. “I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.”

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio hinted strongly that he too would oppose it.

The collapse of the Senate Republican health bill — and the failing struggle to find yet another alternative — highlighted a harsh reality for Senate Republicans: While Republican senators freely assailed the health law while Mr. Obama occupied the White House, they have so far not been able to come up with a workable plan to unwind it that would keep both moderate Republicans and conservatives on board.

By midday Tuesday, the Republican Party’s seven-year-old promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act appeared broken. At the White House, President Trump said his plan was now “to let Obamacare fail,” suggesting Democrats would then seek out Republicans to work together on a health measure.
Despite controlling the White House and both Houses of Congress the frequently delusional President Trump thinks the people will blame the Democrats. One thing is certain, he and the Republicans will be all over Fux Nooz trying to sell that bullshit.

It's Russia Week For Colbert, Too




Order of Business



Monday, July 17, 2017

Who's Your Fool


Kat Wright and her band ask the eternal question. From their Audiotree Session.


Just your basic collusion


For those who may be confused, Tom Tomorrow illustrates the current status of Donald Trump Jr's collusion obfuscation. Tune in tomorrow for the latest changes.

Gotta love it to wear it


From the pen of Bill Day



R.I.P. Martin Landau


Bela Lugosi rose from the dead when you played him in "Ed Wood"

Mitch's Killer "Health Care" Bill really in limbo


Mitch and his goons
still want to bring it to a vote as soon a possible, but the absence of Grampa Walnuts McCain makes it almost certain to fail a vote at this time.
A top Senate Republican vowed on Sunday to bring the party’s health care bill to a vote as soon as possible, even as detractors said they would use a delay caused by the absence of Senator John McCain to mobilize further opposition to the measure.

“I believe as soon as we have a full contingent of senators, that we’ll have that vote,” the No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”The timing of the Senate vote is crucial. The more it is delayed, the more likely the bill is to fail, supporters and opponents say. Moreover, the Senate schedule will soon be packed with other legislation, like an increase in the statutory limit on federal borrowing and spending bills for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. In addition, Republicans are eager to cut taxes and simplify the tax code.

The Senate has struggled to pass a health care bill, delaying a vote on a previous version of the legislation in June.

Several Republican senators have expressed reservations or outright opposition to the new version as well, and Republicans need Mr. McCain’s vote to have any chance of passing it.
Grampa Walnuts is currently recuperating from a surgical procedure to remove a blood clot in his head. Initial reports were optimistic that a week's recovery was all he needed. Others are saying that is far too rosy an outlook for an 80 year old man.
The statement from Mr. McCain’s office said a two-inch blood clot was removed from “above his left eye” during a “minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision” at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, “following a routine annual physical.” Surgeons there are not conducting interviews. Mr. McCain’s communications director, Julie Tarallo, said further information would be made public when it became available.

A craniotomy is an opening of the skull, and an eyebrow incision would be used to reach a clot in or near the left frontal lobes of the brain, neurosurgeons who were not involved in Mr. McCain’s care said.

“Usually, a blood clot in this area would be a very concerning issue,” said Dr. Nrupen Baxi, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

He added, “The recovery time from a craniotomy is usually a few weeks.”

A statement from the Mayo Clinic Hospital said that the senator was recovering well and in good spirits at home, and that tissue pathology reports would come back in several days.

But many questions have been left unanswered, including whether Mr. McCain had symptoms that prompted doctors to look for the clot. In June, his somewhat confused questioning of James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, led to concerns about his mental status, which he later jokingly dismissed by saying he had stayed up too late watching baseball the night before.

“Usually, a blood clot like this is discovered when patients have symptoms, whether it’s a seizure or headaches or weakness or speech difficulties,” Dr. Baxi said. “Generally, it’s not found on a routine physical because doctors would not know to look for it.”

The cause of the clot has not been disclosed. The possibilities include a fall or a blow to the head, a stroke or certain brain changes associated with aging. Mr. McCain is 80.
Mitch will have to wait a little longer, maybe even until Grampa Walnut's replacement is named by the Arizona Governor. We shall see.

Presidenting is easy



Sunday, July 16, 2017

Speak Low


The Divine Sarah Vaughn sings the Kurt Weill/Ogden Nash tune "Speak Low" from the musical One Touch of Venus.


Kris Kobach, "Super Hero??"


From the pen of Brian McFadden



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