Monday, August 21, 2017

When it's fist bumping time on the bayou

From the pen of Ed Wexler

Tough as they come

It seems that some members of the White House team want to show the world they have brass balls that clank loudly when they walk. And they think that North Korea is the perfect problem to use to display their temple bells.
Not since 2002, as the United States built a case for war in Iraq, has there been so much debate inside the White House about the merits — and the enormous risks — of pre-emptive military action against an adversary nation.

Like its predecessors, the Trump administration is trying to pressure North Korea through sanctions to dismantle its nuclear program. But both President Trump and his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, have talked openly about a last-resort option if diplomacy fails and the nuclear threat mounts: what General McMaster describes as “preventive war.”

Though the Pentagon has prepared options to pre-emptively strike North Korea’s nuclear and missile sites for more than a decade and the past four presidents declared that “all options are on the table,” the rote phrase barely seemed credible, given the potential for a North Korean counterstrike against Seoul, South Korea, that could result in tremendous casualties in a metropolitan area of 25 million people.

But as the Trump administration moves ahead on Monday with a new round of long-planned military exercises that involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops, computer simulations of escalating conflict and perhaps overflights of nuclear-capable aircraft, the White House is determined to leave the impression the military option is real.

“Are we preparing plans for a preventive war?” General McMaster asked recently in a television interview, defining the term as “a war that would prevent North Korea from threatening the United States with a nuclear weapon.”

He answered his own question: “The president’s been very clear about it. He said he’s not going to tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the United States.”

Much of this could be posturing, designed to convince the North’s unpredictable dictator, Kim Jong-un, and Chinese leaders who are eager to preserve the status quo, that they are dealing with a different American president who is determined to “solve” the North Korean problem, as Mr. Trump puts it, rather than hope that sanctions will eventually take their toll.

But even if Mr. Trump has no real intention of using military force, convincing adversaries and allies that he is willing to make a move that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all considered too dangerous has significant value.

Whether Mr. Trump is truly prepared or bluffing, presidential advisers, military officials and experts whom the White House has consulted leave little doubt in conversations that the Trump administration is confronting North Korea’s nuclear program with a different set of assumptions than its three immediate predecessors.
What the masterminds in DC see as a small preventive war is viewed in Pyongyang as an existential threat and they will not hold back any of their weapons. Whether or not any of their weaponry reaches the US is irrelevant, they will wreak havoc upon their neighbors as they go down.

New strategy same as the old strategy

Before the election Cheeto Mussolini was all about bringing the boys home from Shitholeistan. As he prepares to reveal his new grand strategy for that poor misbegotten country, leaks are coming out that it will be the same as all the other new grand strategies that came before it.
President Trump, who has been accused by lawmakers of dragging his feet on Afghanistan, has settled on a new strategy to carry on the nearly 16-year-old conflict there, administration officials said Sunday. The move, following a detailed review, is likely to open the door to the deployment of several thousand troops.

“The president has made a decision,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on an overnight flight that arrived in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday. “I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous.”

Mr. Mattis declined to say what steps the president had ordered, including on troop levels, saying that the president wanted to outline the new approach himself.

The defense secretary received the authority in June to send as many as 3,900 troops to Afghanistan so that the United States military could expand its efforts to advise Afghan forces and support them with American artillery and airpower. But Mr. Mattis has refrained from building up the American force there until the Trump administration agreed on a broader strategy.

The White House said in a statement that Mr. Trump would address the American public and American troops “on a path forward for America’s engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia” in a speech at Fort Myer, Va., Monday night.

American military commanders have argued during the monthslong policy assessment that the additional troops would enable the United States to reverse gains made by the Taliban and militant groups like the Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate, the Islamic State in Khorasan.

Administration aides, under orders to let Mr. Trump announce the details, hinted that any American commitment to increase force levels would require steps by the Afghans, like doing more to fight corruption.

Mr. Trump’s Monday evening speech will be his first nationally televised prime-time address since he spoke before Congress in January and follows a week of controversy over his reaction to the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Va.
So we will endure Cheeto's horrid speaking style, even if it is written by someone else, as he dresses up the same old shit with some fancy new geegaws. And in Shitholeistan more soldiers and Afghans will die to no good end. If nothing else is achieved, we do know how it will turn out. Same as all those strategies that came before.

John Oliver on Trumps week

Understanding your heritage

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A common experience

For many women put to song by Patty Larkin. "Not Bad For A Broad"

R.I.P. Jerome Levitch

A prodigious clown, film maker and philanthopist, all France is in mourning for Jerry Lewis.

Very strange "good people"

From the pen of David Horsey

If Trump successfully bans immigration

Then the EPA's whole hearted embrace of the killer pesticide chlorpyrifos will start harming Americans who will be flocking to the fields for the available jobs. With its best known effect of lowering the intelligence of children of workers it will guarantee a steady stream of new Republicans in the younger generations.
In the weeks before the Environmental Protection Agency decided to reject its own scientists’ advice to ban a potentially harmful pesticide, Scott Pruitt, the agency’s head, promised farming industry executives who wanted to keep using the pesticide that it is “a new day, and a new future,” and that he was listening to their pleas.

Details on this meeting and dozens of other meetings in the weeks leading up to the late March decision by Mr. Pruitt are contained in more than 700 pages of internal agency documents obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information request.

Though hundreds of pages describing the deliberations were redacted from the documents, the internal memos show how the E.P.A.’s new staff, appointed by President Trump, pushed the agency’s career staff to draft a ruling that would deny the decade-old petition by environmentalists to ban the pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

Chlorpyrifos is still widely used in agriculture — on apples, oranges, strawberries, almonds and many other fruits — though it was barred from residential use in 2000. The E.P.A.’s scientists have recommended it be banned from use on farms and produce because it has been linked to lower I.Q.s and developmental delays among agricultural workers and their children.

At a March 1 meeting at E.P.A. headquarters with members of the American Farm Bureau Federation from Washington State, industry representatives pressed the E.P.A. not to reduce the number of pesticides available. They said there were not enough alternative pesticides to chlorpyrifos. They also said there was a need for “a reasonable approach to regulate this pesticide,” which is widely used in Washington State, and that they wanted “the farming community to be more involved in the process.”

According to the documents, Mr. Pruitt “stressed that this is a new day, a new future, for a common-sense approach to environmental protection.” He said the new administration “is looking forward to working closely with the agricultural community.”

Three days before Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, Dow Chemical had separately submitted a request to the agency to reject the petition to ban chlorpyrifos, calling the scientific link between the childhood health issues and the pesticide unclear, agency records show.
Well now, as it has a clear cut effect on the profits of such a responsible corporate citizen, then we must applaud the EPA chief's decision and hope his stock went up accordingly.

R.I.P. Richard Claxton Gregory

From poverty to the stage to full time social activism, comedy helped you open the doors.

A plan for Shitholeistan

According to the latest reports, Secretary of Defense Mad Dog Mattis got the Tangerine Shitgibbon to agree to a policy for Shitholeistan that Mad Dog agrees with.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that President Trump, who had been accused by lawmakers of dragging his feet on Afghanistan, had settled on a new strategy after a “rigorous” review.

“The president has made a decision,” Mr. Mattis told reporters on an overnight flight that arrived in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday. “I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous.”

Mr. Mattis received the authority in June to send nearly 4,000 troops to Afghanistan so that the United States military could expand its efforts to advise Afghan forces and support them with American artillery and air power. But Mr. Mattis had refrained from building up the American force there until the Trump administration settled on a broader strategy.

Mr. Mattis declined to say what steps the president had ordered, including troop levels. He added that Mr. Trump wanted to announce the details to the American people, and that the president was expected to do so in coming days.

The decision to send troops is just one component of a strategy that is also expected to outline ways to pressure Pakistan to shut down the sanctuaries that the Taliban and other extremist groups have maintained on its territory.
Naturally Tangerine has to be the one who reveals the policy. The real question is whether or not it involves 'fire and fury' upno Pakistan. It worked so well with North Korea.

Will Pence eclipse him?

Bill on The King of Low

Bill Maher's monologue

Quick and Easy Flag Guide

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Walking each other home

Mary Gauthier from her 2014 album Trouble & Love

By his acts you shall know him

Former Trump neighbor in Gitmo

Having lived in Queens,
a mere 3 minute walk from where the Tangerine Shitgibbon lived, Guantanamo Forever prisoner Saifullah Paracha (Forever prisoner? How is that possible?) has plans, following his 70th birthday, to write to Tangerine and ask for his release, as a neighborly gesture.
The war-on-terror prison’s oldest captive, a former Pakistani businessmen, turned 70 Thursday. Like President Trump, he once lived in Queens.

Forever prisoner Saifullah Paracha was captured in Thailand in July 2003. After being taken to a U.S. detention site in Afghanistan, he was brought to this island prison in September 2004.

“I never thought I’d be here at the age of 70,” he said in remarks released Thursday by his legal defense team from the London-based nonprofit Reprieve. “I always expected that by the time I was 70, I would be home with my wife and family.”

He also observed that long before his capture he lived in New York, “in Queens, Jamaica Estates — Donald Trump’s old neighborhood. Our houses were on the same road. I am going to write to him to ask him to release me.”

Paracha has never been charged with a crime. But the inter-agency U.S. Periodic Review Board has repeatedly upheld his status as an indefinite Law of War detainee, citing his “continued refusal to take responsibility for his involvement with al-Qaida,” including having had contacts with Osama bin Laden and the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

In March he told the parole board: “I deeply regret becoming involved with individuals who turned out to be al-Qaida. It horrifies me to think that I may have helped to enable indirectly, unwittingly to carry out their terrorist attacks on the U.S This will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
As Paracha is also suffering the ailments that come with age, it would be right neighborly for Trump to release him. Then they could get together over taco bowls at Trump Tower and talk about old times in the 'hood.


Stephen Colbert opening monologue

These colors can't run

Bill Maher - New Rules

Go all the way, Donny

Friday, August 18, 2017

Nothing, Not Nearly

Laura Marling

About those good genes.....

From the pen of Milt Priggee

Donny says he will dump Bannon

But the man whose reputation revolves around his saying "You're Fired!" can't seem to do that in the White House. Discussions are underway as to how he will be fired.
President Trump has told senior aides that he has decided to remove Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled White House chief strategist who helped Mr. Trump win the 2016 election, according to two administration officials briefed on the discussion.

The president and senior White House officials were debating when and how to dismiss Mr. Bannon. The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time.

As of Friday morning, the two men were still discussing Mr. Bannon’s future, the officials said. A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but the move was delayed after the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va.

Mr. Bannon had clashed for months with other senior West Wing advisers and members of the president’s family.

But the loss of Mr. Bannon, the right-wing nationalist who helped propel some of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises into policy reality, raises the potential for the president to face criticism from the conservative news media base that supported him over the past year.

Mr. Bannon’s many critics bore down after the violence in Charlottesville. Outraged over Mr. Trump’s insistence that “both sides” were to blame for the violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead, human rights activists demanded that the president fire so-called nationalists working in the West Wing. That group of hard-right populists in the White House is led by Mr. Bannon.

On Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York, Mr. Trump refused to guarantee Mr. Bannon’s job security but defended him as “not a racist” and “a friend.”

“We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Bannon’s dismissal followed an Aug. 16 interview he initiated with a writer with whom he had never spoken, with the progressive publication The American Prospect. In it, Mr. Bannon mockingly played down the American military threat to North Korea as nonsensical: “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”
No word yet on who might take over Bannon's responsibilities, but Trump does need a strategist as he has no idea what he is doing.

For about 45 minutes

When Trump tweeted bad, Colbert found a real Pershing quote for him

Seth Meyers - A Closer Look

Another day, another Trump distraction

Quote of the Day

From the transcript of the Martin Shkreli jury selection:
Juror No 144: “I heard through the news of how the defendant changed the price of a pill by up-selling it. I heard he bought an album from the Wu-Tang Clan for a million dollars.”

The court: “The question is, have you heard anything that would affect your ability to decide this case with an open mind? Can you do that?”

Juror No 144: “I don’t think I can because he kind of looks like a dick.”

But they did give the metal back to the British

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Same Old 45

Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles

The Orange Vandal

From the pen of Kevin Siers

A horrible idea

You can be sure somewhere Republicans are working to make it a law. And just because it can't pass this time you can also be sure the Republicans will dig up the rotting idea and try again. Like in Texas with their copycat Peckerchecker Bill.
A bill to restrict which bathroom transgender people can use in public buildings and schools died in the Texas Legislature on Tuesday evening, a rare defeat for social conservatives in a state they usually dominate.

The failure of the so-called bathroom bill at the end of a special legislative session was the second time in three months that the bill had fallen short, and it deepened the ideological discord within the Texas Republican Party. But it did not kill the issue entirely.

The Republican lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, who pushed for the bill’s North Carolina-style restrictions on transgender bathroom use, virtually guaranteed that the issue would arise again in future legislative sessions. And it is still possible that Gov. Greg Abbott, who supported the bill, will recall lawmakers for a second special session to give the bill another chance at passage.

“You know why it’s going to be back next session? Because the people will demand it,” Mr. Patrick told reporters Tuesday night. “The issue is not going to go away.”

Opponents of the measure, including gay rights activists, corporate executives, transgender Texans and both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, hailed the bill’s demise in the special session as a significant achievement, even if it proves to be short-lived. The Legislature had previously failed to pass it during the regular session that ended in May.

“Defeating this discriminatory and dangerous legislation in Texas is a huge victory that will have an impact far beyond the Lone Star State,” Kasey Suffredini, the acting chief executive of Freedom for All Americans, a national gay rights and transgender rights group, said in a statement.

In the special session, conservative lawmakers passed a version of the bill in the Texas Senate, where Mr. Patrick presides, but the moderate Republicans who lead the Texas House never referred it to a House committee, so it was effectively dead on arrival in the chamber. Another version, written by a House lawmaker, was never given a hearing.
Failed in regular session and in a special session called for the purpose of passing this immoral piece of shit. And like good Republicans everywhere they will keep trying because the voters have a bad habit of forgetting to blame them for making their lives miserable.

Short term or long term

As our Fearless Leader whines on about how unfairly we are treating his good friends the neo-Nazis, KKK and other racist assholes, he is creating a breach between the White House and the Republican Party, the US military and corporate leaders.
President Trump found himself increasingly isolated in a racial crisis of his own making on Wednesday, abandoned by the nation’s top business executives, contradicted by military leaders and shunned by Republicans outraged by his defense of white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville, Va.

The breach with the business community was the most striking. Titans of American industry and finance revolted against a man they had seen as one of their own, concluding Wednesday morning they could no longer serve on two of Mr. Trump’s advisory panels.

But before Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group and one of Mr. Trump’s closest business confidants, could announce a decision to disband Mr. Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum — in a prepared statement calling “intolerance, racism and violence” an “affront to core American values” — the president undercut him and did it himself, in a tweet.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Thank you all!”

The condemnation descended on the president a day after he told reporters in a defiant news conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan that “alt-left” demonstrators were just as responsible for the violence in Charlottesville last weekend as the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who instigated protests that led to the death of a 32-year-old woman, struck down by a car driven by a right-wing activist.

Five armed services chiefs — of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines and the National Guard Bureau — posted statements on social media condemning neo-Nazis and racism in uncompromising terms. They did not mention Mr. Trump by name, but their messages were a highly unusual counter to the commander in chief.

Republicans, too, issued new denunciations of the hatred on display in Charlottesville, although some remained vague about Mr. Trump’s remarks.

No one from the president’s team has resigned as of yet, but some spoke candidly on Wednesday about whether they could continue to work much longer for a man who has expressed such sentiments. Most incensed among Mr. Trump’s top advisers, according to three people familiar with the situation, was Gary D. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, who told people around him that he was offended, as a Jew and as an American, by the president’s reaction to the violence in Charlottesville.
They may be edging away from him to day but will it last? Just like those who remained in Hitler's Fuerherbunker, Trump's loyalists are staying by his side. As for the Republicans, they remind me of a flock of birds that I watched as a hawk struck. When the hawk hit they all scattered but were all back within a minute. "Hey did you see what happened to Mikey? Yeah, it was terrible but look, bird seed!!" They will return to the fold.

Trump shows us who he is

Stephen Colbert rips Trump

Trump is a lying racist

Don't believe me? Watch Seth Meyers Closer Look

Scare the shit out of them

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

She used to play with her brothers

Now Danielle Nicole (nee Schneleben) has her own band and the Blues thanks her. "Take It All"

It just comes out naturally

From the pen of Kevin Siers

The Republicans are finally realizing

The what they saw as a chocolate log floating in their punchbowl is no such thing. Donald Trump is turning out to be the biggest turd that ever floated in Washington DC.
President Trump reverted Tuesday to blaming both sides for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., and at one point questioned whether the movement to pull down Confederate statues would lead to the desecration of memorials to George Washington.

Abandoning his precisely chosen and carefully delivered condemnations of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis from a day earlier, the president furiously stuck by his initial reaction to the unrest in Charlottesville. He drew the very moral equivalency for which a bipartisan chorus, and his own advisers, had already criticized him.

“I think there is blame on both sides,” the president said in a combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower in Manhattan. “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”

Mr. Trump defended those gathered in a Charlottesville park to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups,” he said. “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”

He criticized “alt-left” groups that he claimed were “very, very violent” when they sought to confront the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups that had gathered in Charlottesville.

President Trump reverted Tuesday to blaming both sides for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., and at one point questioned whether the movement to pull down Confederate statues would lead to the desecration of memorials to George Washington.

Abandoning his precisely chosen and carefully delivered condemnations of the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis from a day earlier, the president furiously stuck by his initial reaction to the unrest in Charlottesville. He drew the very moral equivalency for which a bipartisan chorus, and his own advisers, had already criticized him.

“I think there is blame on both sides,” the president said in a combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower in Manhattan. “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”

Mr. Trump defended those gathered in a Charlottesville park to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups,” he said. “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”

He criticized “alt-left” groups that he claimed were “very, very violent” when they sought to confront the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups that had gathered in Charlottesville.
Once again displaying the stability and covfefe that a true orange leader needs has resulted in scaring the shit out of the Republicans in Congress.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan called white supremacy “repulsive” and said “there can be no moral ambiguity.” Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida, tweeted: “Blaming ‘both sides’ for #Charlottesville?! No.” Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said white nationalists in Charlottesville were “100% to blame” and wagged his finger at the president for suggesting otherwise.

“The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win,” Mr. Rubio said on Twitter moments after Mr. Trump’s remarks. “We can not allow this old evil to be resurrected.”

Senator Todd Young of Indiana, a freshman Republican, wrote: “This is simple: we must condemn and marginalize white supremacist groups, not encourage and embolden them.”

Even members of Mr. Trump’s own military appeared to take quick offense to their commander’s words. Hours after the president spoke, the Marine Corps commandant, General Robert B. Neller, wrote in a tweet that there is “no place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act.”
Even Steve Scalise, a noted suck-up to racists at election time, condemned Trumps remarks.We can only imagine that all that is restraining the GOP from impeaching Trump is the knowledge that Pence would soon follow based on Mueller's investigations.

Some real "good people"

Seth Meyers recognizes some people on the right side of history.

Trump "is one of the biggest whiners in the United States"

Stephen Colbert rips Trump, again.

Where did we go wrong?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hands of Time

Margo Price

Similar in origin

From the pen of Bill Day

Remember Korea?

With Trump's latest Grand Distraction totally obfuscating last week's blunder in the US, one of the most endangered countries has spoken up to tell Donald to stuff it.
With his public alarmed by President Trump’s recent threats to North Korea, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea issued an unusually blunt rebuke to the United States on Tuesday, warning that any unilateral military action against the North over its nuclear weapons program would be intolerable.

“No one should be allowed to decide on a military action on the Korean Peninsula without South Korean agreement,” Mr. Moon said in a nationally televised speech.

As a candidate for the presidency, Mr. Moon, a liberal who took office in May, said he would “say no to the Americans” if necessary. But he has aligned South Korea more closely with its military ally than many had expected. Though he suspended the deployment of a United States missile defense system opposed by China, he reversed that decision last month after North Korea tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But President Trump’s threat to bring “fire and fury” to North Korea, along with other statements from American officials about the possibility of war, has unnerved many South Koreans and put pressure on Mr. Moon to live up to his campaign promise. “Our government will do everything it can to prevent war from breaking out,” he said in his speech Tuesday.

Mr. Moon’s pushback was the latest indication that Mr. Trump’s unorthodox approach to foreign policy, coupled with Pyongyang’s rapid progress toward its goal of nuclear missiles that can reach the mainland United States, was putting new strain on the longstanding alliance. And it underscored how Mr. Trump’s volatile language is sowing division with an ally whose help would be vital to the success of any American military campaign on the divided peninsula.
There might be the beginning of a shared antipathy to Cheeto MUssolini here. Obviously neither half of the peninsula is thrilled by what Cheeto thinks is clever brinksmanship. And it would do us well to remember that there is another country involved here with much more to lose than we do.

Everyone wants him fired

Calls for the extermination elimination of Steve Bannon from the White House crew have come from just about everyone, Democrats, Independents, Sane Republicans, even Conservative of the Old School. About the only ones who still stand with Steve Bannon are the racist assholes and Donald Trump.
Rupert Murdoch has repeatedly urged President Trump to fire him. Anthony Scaramucci, the president’s former communications director, thrashed him on television as a white nationalist. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, refused to even say he could work with him.

For months, Mr. Trump has considered ousting Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist and relentless nationalist who ran the Breitbart website and called it a “platform for the alt-right.” Mr. Trump has sent Mr. Bannon to a kind of internal exile, and has not met face-to-face for more than a week with a man who was once a fixture in the Oval Office, according to aides and friends of the president.

So far, Mr. Trump has not been able to follow through — a product of his dislike of confrontation, the bonds of a foxhole friendship forged during the 2016 presidential campaign and concerns about what mischief Mr. Bannon might do once he leaves the protective custody of the West Wing.

Not least, Mr. Bannon embodies the defiant populism at the core of the president’s agenda. Despite being marginalized, Mr. Bannon consulted with the president repeatedly over the weekend as Mr. Trump struggled to respond to the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. In general, Mr. Bannon has cautioned the president not to criticize far-right activists too severely for fear of antagonizing a small but energetic part of his base.

But what once endeared him to the president has now become a major liability. After the president waited two days to blame white supremacists for the violence in Charlottesville, there is new pressure from Mr. Trump’s critics to dismiss Mr. Bannon.
Bannon has stayed out of the limelight, which is a plus with Trump, but his advice has largely left Trump looking like an ignorant, weak-willed asshole. At some point, Trump will realize this is not a good thing.

Trumps anger at racist assholes takes last place

Stephen Colbert lists all that comes ahead of them in Trumpoonia.

Even Tiki condemned the Nazi KKK Trump supporters

Seth Meyers takes a closer look at Der Trumpenfuehrer latest disaster.

Americans love a failure

Monday, August 14, 2017

They still write them like that

Yesterday we posted the MonaLisa Twins doing a Beatles cover. Today its one of the Austrian twins, Mona and Lisa Wagner's original numbers in the classic early Mersey style. "This Boy Is Mine"

One of the keys to survival

Is the ability to recognize the existential threat among all the noise around us. Tom Tomorrow illustrates how well the average Trumpoon does this.

Knock it out of the park

From the pen of Bob Englehart

Trump caves

His continuing failure to condemn the Nazis, KKK and other white racist assholes who rallied in Charlottesville this weekend and sent one of their dimmer colleagues to drive his car into a peaceful counter protest proved unable to withstand the increasing pressure to condemn it.
President Donald Trump bowed to overwhelming pressure that he personally condemn white supremacists who incited bloody demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend — labeling their racist views “evil” after two days of equivocal statements.

“Racism is evil,” Mr. Trump said. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Several of the president’s top advisers, including his new Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, pressed Mr. Trump to issue a more forceful rebuke after his comment on Saturday that the violence in Charlottesville was initiated by “many sides,” prompting nearly universal criticism.

That pressure reached boiling point early Monday after the president attacked the head of the pharmaceuticals company Merck, who is black, for quitting an advisory board over his failure to call out white nationalists.

Merck’s chief executive, Kenneth C. Frazier, resigned from the president’s American Manufacturing Council on Monday, saying he objected to the president’s statement on Saturday blaming violence that left one woman dead on “many sides.”

Less than hour later, Mr. Trump, responded on social media as he departed his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., for a day trip back to Washington.

Mr. Trump’s shot at one of the country’s best-known black executives prompted an immediate outpouring of support for Mr. Frazier from major figures in business, media and politics. “Thanks @Merck Ken Frazier for strong leadership to stand up for the moral values that made this country what it is,” Paul Polman, the chief executive of Unilever, wrote on Twitter.
If that dumbass has the sense to let Frazier go in peace he might still be holding out but then he wouldn't be the Cheeto Mussolini we have all come to despise.

Why tax 'reform' is near impossible

Since the beginnings of this country, taxes have been necessary and unwelcome. From the time the first one was imposed to the current day additions, subtractions, exemptions, deductions and all manner of alterations have been made to the tax code. It is huge, complex, provides employment to a substantial sector of the population and is so full of so many favorite oxen that any attempt to change it will gore more than a few.
With U.S. Congress members focused during their August recess on finding ways to lower the corporate tax rate, industry groups and other sectors of society are gearing up to fight proposed changes to the personal income tax.

While tax cuts for business have garnered the most headlines, lobbyists and lawmakers have conceded that rewriting the corporate tax code will be a long slog.

Tackling personal tax rates will be easier, many argue. Looking for an easier legislative win ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, most lawmakers in the Republican majority want to cut individual incomes taxes. President Donald Trump has been pushing hard for tax changes this year.

Still, proposed changes to the personal tax code have already stirred opposition from realtors, home builders, mortgage lenders and charities. These groups say proposed changes will hurt home sales and cut charitable contributions.

The National Association of Realtors issued an "August Recess Talking Points" circular imploring members to remind lawmakers that "Homeowners must be treated fairly in tax reform" to avoid "another housing crash."

The group cited a report it commissioned from PwC that estimated home values could quickly dive more than 10 percent if the tax plan becomes law.

To simplify the tax code, Republicans have proposed eliminating nearly all tax write-offs including those for state and local taxes, then doubling the standard deduction. This would eliminate the incentive to itemize and should drastically reduce the number of taxpayers who do so.

Currently, many taxpayers use itemized deductions, claiming write-offs for things like charitable contributions, interest paid on a mortgage and state and local taxes. If the standard deduction becomes larger, fewer taxpayers will need to itemize, reducing the incentive to hold a mortgage or contribute to charity.

Currently, about 30 million taxpayers claim the mortgage interest deduction, with about $70 billion in total claims, according to Robert Dietz, an economist with the National Association of Homebuilders.

Estimates suggest more than half of taxpayers would stop itemizing under the proposed plan, Dietz said, warning that this would create a large ripple effect through the economy. He said people in early years of a mortgage would suffer most, along with prospective home buyers.

Home builders are also fighting the proposed tax code changes.

"I don’t think I would call that a cakewalk," said Jerry Howard, the head of the National Home Builders Association, saying the proposal will face fierce resistance from his group, which represents 130,000 builders. He noted that members operate in every congressional district and employ more than 7 million people.

Charitable organizations are not arguing against increasing the standard deduction. But they are asking members of Congress to consider creating a “universal deduction,” so taxpayers taking the standard deduction can get additional credit for donations without itemizing.

Taxpayers claim an estimated $13 billion each year in charitable deductions. Charities fear giving would plummet if the standard deduction were doubled without creating a universal deduction.
And these are just three groups who are protecting their turf. There are more lobbying to keep their particular favor and in this battle it is not the best idea that will win but the best financed and the Members of Congress are looking forward to the debate.

John Oliver condemns Trump

Speaking about Charlottesville.

We did it before, we can do it again

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A good cover band is true to the original

A great cover band does that and makes you remember who they are, as well. Like the Mona Lisa Twins with their cover of The Beatles "If I Fell"

The New Statuary

From the pen of Brian McFadden

Like a drunk on a highwire

Richard Nixon was the first Madman in the Oval Office and he had a pre-Alzheimer's Kissinger to advise him, not very wisely but attuned to the dangers such diplomacy could involve. Now, all these years later we have Cheeto Mussolini trying to impress his base, telling them to hold his beer while he tries it, with nobody capable of providing any diplomatic.
After a four-day fusillade of apocalyptic threats against North Korea, President Trump left many in Washington and capitals throughout the Pacific wondering whether it was more method or madness. Among those wondering were members of Mr. Trump’s own administration.

It was not the first time in his unconventional presidency that Mr. Trump had unnerved friend and foe alike, but never before had it seemed so consequential. Unrestrained attacks on uncooperative members of his own party, the “dishonest media” and the cast of “Saturday Night Live” generally do not raise fears of nuclear war. But as with so much with Mr. Trump, the line between calculation and impulse can be blurry.

In the broadest sense, Mr. Trump’s “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” warnings fit the strategic imperatives of the advisers who gave him classified briefings at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., over the last week. The president showed resolve in the face of Pyongyang’s defiance, as his aides had counseled, while increasing pressure on China to broker some kind of deal to denuclearize the tinderbox Korean Peninsula.

But Mr. Trump, who bridles at being stage-managed, ignored their advice to project dignified steadfastness. Carefully calibrated briefings for the president by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis came out through a Trump bullhorn, magnified and maximized for effect. For perhaps the first time in generations, an American leader became the wild card in a conflict typically driven by a brutal, secretive despot in Pyongyang.

“On the U.S. side, the tradition has been steely resolve and preparation,” said Dennis C. Blair, a retired admiral and head of the United States Pacific Command who went on to serve as director of national intelligence. “But now we have a president who reacts to braggadocio with an attempt to top it on his own side. He’s out there in territory he thinks is familiar, which is meeting exaggerated statement with exaggerated statement, convincing the other side that we’re tough, you’re going to fold.”

In other words, the magnitude of the challenges that Mr. Trump faces has grown dramatically, but his tone has not. And it remains to be seen if the don’t-mess-with-me attitude that cowed Republican primary rivals like Jeb Bush will have a similar effect on a regime that has managed to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States while making progress toward miniaturizing a nuclear warhead that would fit on top.
And unlike Nixon, Cheeto doesn't enjoy the thrill of wandering the halls of the White House drunk while talking to the portraits.

Donald The Dictator?

Bill Maher makes a Trump prediction and other stuff.

Gene pool or cesspool?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bones outnumber the heart

But Vanessa Peters song "206 Bones" from her album The Burden of Unshakeable Proof will clarify which she feels is more important

A common problem

From the pen of Christopher Weyant

And Mueller marches on

In the continuing saga of Trump's sell out to Russia for the election, Special Counsel Robert Mueller keeps on plugging away in his quest for the truth of the matter. His latest point of interest is Reince Priebus.
In a sign that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will remain a continuing distraction for the White House, the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is in talks with the West Wing about interviewing current and former senior administration officials, including the recently ousted White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, according to three people briefed on the discussions.

Mr. Mueller has asked the White House about specific meetings, who attended them and whether there are any notes, transcripts or documents about them, two of the people said. Among the matters Mr. Mueller wants to ask the officials about is President Trump’s decision in May to fire the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, the two people said.

That line of questioning will be important as Mr. Mueller continues to investigate whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice in the dismissal of Mr. Comey.

No interviews have been scheduled, but in recent weeks Mr. Mueller’s investigation has appeared to intensify. Late last month, he took the aggressive step of executing a search warrant at the Alexandria, Va., home of Paul J. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman. Legal experts say Mr. Mueller may be trying to put pressure on Mr. Manafort to cooperate with the investigation.

Although it has been clear for months that Mr. Mueller would interview Mr. Trump’s closest advisers, the recent inquiries come as the president is heading into the fall pushing his priorities in Congress, including a tax overhaul, with the constant distraction of a federal investigation.

Ty Cobb, a special counsel to the president, declined to comment, saying only that the White House would “continue to fully cooperate” with Mr. Mueller’s inquiry. He has frequently said that the White House would cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s investigation and that he hoped it would be completed quickly. Mr. Priebus did not return messages seeking comment.

Mr. Mueller has expressed interest in speaking with other administration officials, including members of the communications team. But Mr. Trump’s allies are particularly concerned about Mr. Mueller’s interest in talking to Mr. Priebus, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who worked closely with Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign. Mr. Trump’s confidants at the White House say Mr. Trump was never fully convinced that Mr. Priebus would be loyal to him.
So Mr Priebus, having been thrown under the bus by his loyalty challenged boss, may come out from under the bus singing like a canary. A canary that knows the song very well.

Hoping Kim will blink first

As Cheeto Mussolini keeps his chode base all fired up with his high school treats to the other bad haired dictator in North Korea, the military that would be carrying out his dire threats is doing nothing out of the ordinary.
President Trump continued to beat war drums on Friday against North Korea and, unexpectedly, said he would consider a military option to deal with an unrelated crisis in Venezuela. But though he declared that the armed forces were “locked and loaded,” there were no indications of imminent action in either part of the world.

For all the bellicose language emerging from the president’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., the United States military was taking no visible steps to prepare for a strike against North Korea or Venezuela. The Pentagon reported no new ships being sent toward the Korean Peninsula or forces being mobilized, nor were there moves to begin evacuating any of the tens of thousands of Americans living in South Korea.

The contrast between the heated words and the lack of apparent preparations suggested that Mr. Trump may still be counting on a resolution to the standoff with North Korea as it works to develop a nuclear arsenal capable of reaching the United States. After escalating his rhetoric against North Korea twice on Friday, Mr. Trump emerged from a late-afternoon meeting with his national security team offering a somewhat more restrained message, vowing to give diplomacy a chance.

“Hopefully it’ll all work out,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “Nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump, that I can tell you. Hopefully it’ll all work out, but this has been going on for many years.”

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, who traveled to New Jersey on Friday to brief Mr. Trump after returning from Asia, said the president’s tough language was part of an overall strategy intended to bring North Korea to the negotiating table.
So Cheeto hopes his words will scare Kim Jong Pudge the same way it has scared the rest of us. Then when Kim blinks, Cheeto will brag about what a great negotiator he is. Then he can concentrat on his wars with Iran and Venezuela.

It's Troll Time

Bill Maher recognizes the new Raison d'etre of the Republican Party

A turd by any other name still stinks

Friday, August 11, 2017

Little Lies

But great music from I'm With Her

New Stinkum from the Tangerine Shitgibbon

From the pen of Adam Zyglis

August 11, 2017

Meanwhile in Shitholeistan

Our great Millennial Military Failure trudges on with our Air Force showing that after 17 years it still does not know exactly who is under all those bombs they drop.
Afghan officials said on Friday that American warplanes killed 16 civilians as they tried to flee an area in eastern Afghanistan controlled by Islamic State militants.

Hajji Saz Wali, the governor of Haska Meena District in the southern part of Nangarhar Province, said the victims included women and children; eight were from one family, and four others from a second family. It was the second time since July 24 that an airstrike in that district killed civilians, according to Afghan officials.

The latest victims died Thursday afternoon when the vehicles they were traveling in were hit by American airstrikes believed to be targeting Islamic State militants in the area, Mr. Wali said. It is not known how many were wounded, he added.

A spokesman for the American military in Kabul said military officials were aware of the reports but would not comment immediately.

Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, confirmed that casualties had occurred in the area but said that officials would release details later.
So you watch out there, Kim Jong Pudge! With luck you might be under one of the thousands of bombs we drop every year.

When any attack is an existential threat

There is no such thing as a measured military response. And that is the point where the reckless testing of Kim Jong Pudge and the insupportable bluster of Cheeto Mussolini has gotten us.
North Korea’s threat on Thursday to test-fire ballistic missiles soon near the American territory of Guam deepened the challenge confronting the Trump administration: how to defang Pyongyang’s missile programs without risking all-out war.

President Trump has made clear that his goal is to deny North Korea the capability to field a long-range nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the United States.

And though the Pentagon still hopes for a diplomatic solution, highly classified military options are at the ready, last seriously debated when the Clinton administration pondered pre-emptive action to try to thwart North Korea’s nuclear program.

Even a limited strike against a North Korean missile on its launching pad or the shooting down of a missile in midair would pose risks that the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, might retaliate, setting off a spiral of escalation that could plunge the Korean Peninsula into war.

“In the event of a first strike against Kim, even a non-nuclear option, it is highly likely that Kim would retaliate at least conventionally against South Korea,” said James Stavridis, a retired four-star admiral who is now dean of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. “This almost certainly would create an upward spiral of violence which would be extremely difficult to manage or to mitigate.”

On Thursday, however, North Korea raised the stakes by saying that it was considering a plan to test-fire four intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missiles in international waters near Guam, home to American air and naval bases as well as a Thaad antimissile system.

Mr. Trump hinted broadly later in the day that he has his own military options in mind. “Obviously we’re spending a lot of time looking at, in particular, North Korea,” he told reporters, “and we are preparing for many different alternative events.”

But few of the military options are straightforward, and some former Pentagon officials involved in war planning for North Korea pointed to the complexities.

A major consideration would be whether and when to evacuate American and other allied civilians, which is no small feat as Seoul, a city of about 10 million, is within range of North Korea’s rockets and artillery and the North Korean military is also armed with chemical and biological weapons.

“With all this talk, what I worry about is a serious miscalculation,” said James D. Thurman, a retired Army general who served as the top United States commander in South Korea from 2011 to 2013. “Before we start talking about all these military options, we have to decide what are we going to do with the U.S. citizens over there.”

He estimated that at least a quarter-million Americans would have to be moved.
When the shooting starts there is no way to controlwhat will happen next. So does Cheeto move them or sacrifice them, because North Korea knows that in the event of any attack, they are going down and they are determined to take as much as possible with them.

A common language

From the pen of Kevin Siers

Stephen Doesn't Want The Earth To Blow Up

And Stephen shows where Trump threatens to be the president of NK

Just say No

Whether it is drugs or Trumps as Seth Meyers explains in a Closer Look.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Sung by Jade Bird

Deadly but their breath is fresh

While we are divided

As the latest crisis of the Trump's Mouth continues, the various elements of the Trump administration are divided along the lines of Sanity/Insanity.
Senior American officials sent mixed signals on North Korea on Wednesday as President Trump’s “fire and fury” warning rattled allies and adversaries alike, a sign of his administration’s deep divisions as the outcast state once again threatened to wage nuclear war on the United States.

The president’s advisers calibrated his dire warning with statements that, if not directly contradictory, emphasized different points. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson stressed diplomacy and reassured Americans that they could “sleep well at night,” while Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said North Korea risked “the end of its regime and the destruction of its people” if it did not “stand down.”

“I don’t think there is a single policy at work,” said Ellen L. Frost, a longtime Asia specialist at the East-West Center, a Honolulu-based research organization. “I’m not even sure that Trump cares about having a consistent policy on any subject.” Instead, she said, the president’s fire-and-fury threat was a play to demonstrate toughness to his political base “followed by more nuanced cleanup operations on the part of Tillerson and Mattis, who are walking a political tightrope.”
That is a sure fire way to not impress anyone who is paying attention. One thing is certain, Trump has gotten Kim Jong Pudge to make some real threats and has his base properly scared shitless though they do not comprehend the real reason for being scared. In the meantime China sees a chance to ramp up its efforts to solidify its dominance over Southeast Asia while the Shit-For-Brains in Chief is otherwise distracted by his own brilliance.
With America’s Asian allies unnerved by President Trump’s threat to bring “fire and fury” to North Korea, China sees a chance to capitalize on the fear and confusion and emerge as the sober-minded power in the region, according to analysts who study the Chinese leadership.

In dealing with new American presidents — there have been eight since Richard Nixon opened relations with the country — China’s leaders have looked for a few important qualities, mainly reliability and credibility.

Even if they had doubts about a president’s affinity for China, if he was deemed “kaopu,” or reliable, Chinese officials could expect some stability during even the prickliest disagreements.

Mr. Trump has increasingly been seen in China as unreliable, or “bu kaopu.” His statement this week that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues to threaten the United States with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles has only deepened that perception, analysts say.

But rather than make that judgment public, in the state-run news media or in official remarks, China’s leaders are sitting back, content to watch Mr. Trump’s credibility falter among American allies and adversaries alike, the analysts said.

“The Chinese don’t like North Korea’s nuclear program, but the current situation does serve their longer-term interests in eroding American leadership, because it provides a whole new set of circumstances in which America shows its weakness,” said Hugh White, a former senior defense strategist in the Australian government.

Mr. Trump’s threat has particularly unsettled America’s main Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, adversaries and neighbors of North Korea that have increasingly vocal lobbies for acquiring their own nuclear weapons to counter Pyongyang’s.
And the Chinese won't even have to work up a sweat, Trump will leave a hole where AMerican leadership was and the Chinese will walk in to fill the void. Is there anything vital to America that Trump will not destroy?

Colbert says, "Say Your Prayers"

The monkey who saw the magic trick

Seth Meyers on the latest Trump distractions

All Distraction All The Time

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

From her first post-drinking album

Nicole Atkins sings the title cut "Goodnight Rhonda Lee"

The Lady or The Tiger

From the pen of Lee Judge

R.I.P. Glen Travis Campbell

After so many wonderful years, you will be gentle on our memories.

When his mouth is running

You never can tell if his brain is connected until you hear what he has said. And Cheeto Mussolini's latest turd in the punchbowl of reality apparently came out while his brain was thinking bigly thoughts about something else.
President Trump delivered his “fire and fury” threat to North Korea on Tuesday with arms folded, jaw set and eyes flitting on what appeared to be a single page of talking points set before him on the conference table at his New Jersey golf resort.

The piece of paper, as it turned out, was a fact sheet on the opioid crisis he had come to talk about, and his ominous warning to Pyongyang was entirely improvised, according to several people with direct knowledge of what unfolded. In discussions with advisers beforehand, he had not run the specific language by them.

The inflammatory words quickly escalated the confrontation with North Korea to a new, alarming level and were followed shortly by a new threat from North Korea to obliterate an American air base on Guam. In the hours since, the president’s advisers have sought to calm the situation, with Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson assuring Americans that they “should sleep at night” without worrying about an imminent war.

But the president’s ad-libbed threat reflected an evolving and still unsettled approach to one of the most dangerous hot spots in the world as Mr. Trump and his team debate diplomatic, economic and military options.

The president had been told about a Washington Post story on North Korea’s progress in miniaturizing nuclear warheads so that they could fit on top of a ballistic missile, and was in a bellicose mood, according to a person who spoke with him before he made the statement. His team assumed that he would be asked about North Korea during a scheduled media appearance tied to his opioid meeting, but Mr. Trump had not mentioned his comment during a conference call beforehand that focused on North Korea.
Huuly Gee, let's have a war on the spur of the moment! And as his dementia increases, when will he suddenly remember he has to nuke North Korea or whatever country pops into his addled mind.

Stephen says "Everything's Gonna Be Fine"

One is more fun for Trump

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

I Told You I Was Mean

Elle King

What's For Lunch?

From the pen of Bill Day

R.I.P. Haruo Nakajima

Putting on that rubber suit for a dozen films, did it ever get easier to play Godzilla?

Following North Carolina's Success

With their repugnant Peckerchecker Bathroom Bill, the Lone Brain Cell State of Texas decided they would jump off the same cliff. While the dooly elected yahoos in The Lege hooted and hollered for the bill, the adults in the state have begun to come out of their comas and shout out, "Whoa There, Little Fellas!"
With little more than a week left in Texas’ 30-day special legislative session, a barrage of corporate advertising and activism has the potential to sink legislation restricting transgender bathroom use that has been a flash point in the state’s culture wars.

Social conservatives and the state’s powerful lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, have backed the legislation. Gay rights groups, business groups and the House speaker, Joe Straus, one of the few powerful moderate voices in the Texas Legislature, have opposed it. But after the State Senate, where Mr. Patrick presides, passed a bill, a narrower one is showing few signs of life in the 150-member House.

The effort is now focused on the House version, but State Representative Jonathan Stickland, one of the bill’s 46 co-authors and a member of the Tea Party-backed Freedom Caucus, said he was pessimistic about its chances of being allowed to advance to a vote.

“I think the Straus team has already decided that they are not going to let it out,” said Mr. Stickland, who, like other members of the staunchly conservative caucus, persistently defies the speaker’s leadership. “This is clearly part of a national agenda that is being pushed by the progressive left, and I think that that is just all coming to a head here.”

The Senate bill would require transgender people to use bathrooms in schools and local government buildings corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificates or state-issued identification cards. The House bill would prevent school districts and county or local governments from adopting or enforcing nondiscrimination ordinances that would allow transgender people to use bathrooms of their choice. The ordinance override provision is also an element in the Senate bill.
As usual the "Freedom Caucus" so-called Libertarian assholes include the big government imposition of their wet dream on local governments because you can only be free to be them.

All talk and no walk

One of the major functions of the federal government is to provide funding for necessary projects for the common good that are beyond the local or state budgets. In addition to improvements in living, they provide substantial injections of money into the economies involved. Under Cheeto Mussolini there has been bigly amounts of talk about infrastructure investment and Trump's Dick sized actual investments.
The deterioration of the nation’s infrastructure has raised widespread concerns about safety, quality of life and the impact on economic growth. Politicians in both parties have declared the issue a priority. So far, there is no sign of a solution.

In 34 states, spending on government construction projects was lower last year than in 2007, adjusting for inflation. The trend has continued this year. Public construction spending in June was 9.5 percent lower than during the same month last year.

Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, said many states were struggling financially. Illinois, for example, briefly suspended work on 900 projects in early July during a standoff over the state’s budget.

“It’s always easier to defer new construction than to stop paying people who are on the payroll or the welfare rolls,” he said. “A lot of states are under real stress.”

Governments have cut back most sharply on new construction projects. Even so, the nation’s existing infrastructure continues to age and deteriorate.

The average road surface was 28 years old in 2015, up from 23 years old in 2000. Schools, power plants and airports also are getting older. Slower population growth means less demand for new construction — but also fewer tax dollars for repairs.

Arizona has reduced spending on public construction every year since 2007. State lawmakers, reluctant to raise taxes, have diverted money from highway work to pay for public services like Medicaid and prisons. One Arizona county, Navajo, has shifted from aiming to repave roads every 20 years to repaving every 40 years.

Roads are the largest category of public works, accounting for about a third of annual public works spending. The federal gas tax, at 18.4 cents a gallon, is the largest source of funding for those projects, but it is not indexed to inflation and has not been raised since 1993. It would need to be 31 cents a gallon to restore its buying power.

Since 2012, 31 states have enacted some kind of increase in transportation funding, according to Transportation for America, an advocacy group.

Indiana in April increased its gas tax and indexed it to future inflation.

California in April also passed its first gas tax increase in more than two decades.

And last month, West Virginia passed a package of higher taxes, including an increase in its gas tax, estimated to lift road funding by $140 million a year.

The Trump administration says it is still working on an infrastructure plan that would supplement the increases in state funding. Mr. Trump’s budget proposed just $200 billion in new infrastructure spending, plus unspecified incentives for private investment that it hopes will add another $800 billion over 10 years. But he also proposed larger cuts in projected public works funding.
For all the talk, little has been done nor will it be done. Anything effective would require tax increases on the owners of the Republican Party and the 1% are having none of that on their dime.

We don't really need to know

But Seth Meyers gives us a closer look at the latest Trump Troubles.

You don't have to answer, just think about it

Monday, August 07, 2017

Two red headed Texas blues pickers

Carolyn Wonderland is joined by Bonnie Raitt on "Ain't Nobody's Fault But Mine"

Not exactly fake as we would imagine

It appears that Tom Tomorrow has the straight skinny on those phone calls everybody else thinks were imaginary.

This week's American Dream

From the pen of Nate Beeler

From Prince of Thieves to King of Liars

Cheeto Mussolini's election
to the White House did elevate the man who has never met a lie he doesn't like. In Cheeto's case it has opened vast new worlds to lie about that he never knew existed.
Fabrications have long been a part of American politics. Politicians lie to puff themselves up, to burnish their résumés and to cover up misdeeds, including sexual affairs. (See: Bill Clinton.) Sometimes they cite false information for what they believe are justifiable policy reasons. (See: Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam.)

But President Trump, historians and consultants in both political parties agree, appears to have taken what the writer Hannah Arendt once called “the conflict between truth and politics” to an entirely new level.

From his days peddling the false notion that former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, to his inflated claims about how many people attended his inaugural, to his description just last week of receiving two phone calls — one from the president of Mexico and another from the head of the Boy Scouts — that never happened, Mr. Trump is trafficking in hyperbole, distortion and fabrication on practically a daily basis.

In part, this represents yet another way that Mr. Trump is operating on his own terms, but it also reflects a broader decline in standards of truth for political discourse. A look at politicians over the past half-century makes it clear that lying in office did not begin with Donald J. Trump. Still, the scope of Mr. Trump’s falsehoods raises questions about whether the brakes on straying from the truth and the consequences for politicians’ being caught saying things that just are not true have diminished over time.

One of the first modern presidents to wrestle publicly with a lie was Dwight D. Eisenhower in May 1960, when an American U-2 spy plane was shot down while in Soviet airspace.

The Eisenhower administration lied to the public about the plane and its mission, claiming it was a weather aircraft. But when the Soviets announced that the pilot had been captured alive, Eisenhower reluctantly acknowledged that the plane had been on an intelligence mission — an admission that shook him badly, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said.

“He just felt that his credibility was such an important part of his person and character, and to have that undermined by having to tell a lie was one of the deepest regrets of his presidency,” Ms. Goodwin said.

In the short run, Eisenhower was hurt; a summit meeting with the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev collapsed in acrimony. But the public eventually forgave him, Ms. Goodwin said, because he owned up to his mistake.

In 1972, at the height of the Watergate scandal, President Richard M. Nixon was accused of lying, obstructing justice and misusing the Internal Revenue Service, among other agencies, and resigned rather than face impeachment. Voters, accustomed to being able to trust politicians, were disgusted. In 1976, Jimmy Carter won the presidency after telling the public, “I’ll never lie to you.”

President Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction in trying to cover up his affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, during legal proceedings. Chris Lehane, a former Clinton adviser, said Mr. Clinton’s second-term agenda suffered during his impeachment, yet paradoxically his favorability ratings remained high — in part, Mr. Lehane said, because “the public distinguished between Clinton the private person and the public person.”

But sometimes it’s easier to tell what’s false than what’s a lie. President George W. Bush faced accusations that he and members of his administration took America to war in Iraq based on false intelligence about whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bush and his team emphasized and in some cases exaggerated elements of the intelligence that bolstered the case while disregarding dissenting information, leading critics to accuse them of lying. Among those who said Mr. Bush had lied was Mr. Trump.

Over the past two decades, institutional changes in American politics have made it easier for politicians to lie. The proliferation of television political talk shows and the rise of the internet have created a fragmented media environment. With no widely acknowledged media gatekeeper, politicians have an easier time distorting the truth.
Lies can be tactical or strategic or, as with Cheeto, simply because he is in way over his head and he will never admit he knows nothing. Lies may change the course of events but they are no fuel to run the world with.

Back to the future?

The rise of computers in everyday life has been accompanied by the rise of hackers whose disruptions of our computerized life may be for fun or profit. International maritime shipping may soon go back to good old radio waves to back up navigation in the face of potential hacking of GPS systems.
Ships use GPS (Global Positioning System) and other similar devices that rely on sending and receiving satellite signals, which many experts say are vulnerable to jamming by hackers.

About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea and the stakes are high in increasingly crowded shipping lanes. Unlike aircraft, ships lack a back-up navigation system and if their GPS ceases to function, they risk running aground or colliding with other vessels.

South Korea is developing an alternative system using an earth-based navigation technology known as eLoran, while the United States is planning to follow suit. Britain and Russia have also explored adopting versions of the technology, which works on radio signals.

The drive follows a series of disruptions to shipping navigation systems in recent months and years. It was not clear if they involved deliberate attacks; navigation specialists say solar weather effects can also lead to satellite signal loss.

Last year, South Korea said hundreds of fishing vessels had returned early to port after their GPS signals were jammed by hackers from North Korea, which denied responsibility.

In June this year, a ship in the Black Sea reported to the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center that its GPS system had been disrupted and that over 20 ships in the same area had been similarly affected.

U.S. Coast Guard officials also said interference with ships' GPS disrupted operations at a port for several hours in 2014 and at another terminal in 2015. It did not name the ports.

A cyber attack that hit A.P. Moller-Maersk's IT systems in June 2017 and made global headlines did not involve navigation but underscored the threat hackers pose to the technology dependent and inter-connected shipping industry. It disrupted port operations across the world.

The eLoran push is being led by governments who see it as a means of protecting their national security. Significant investments would be needed to build a network of transmitter stations to give signal coverage, or to upgrade existing ones dating back decades when radio navigation was standard.

U.S. engineer Brad Parkinson, known as the "father of GPS" and its chief developer, is among those who have supported the deployment of eLoran as a back-up.

"ELoran is only two-dimensional, regional, and not as accurate, but it offers a powerful signal at an entirely different frequency," Parkinson told Reuters. "It is a deterrent to deliberate jamming or spoofing (giving wrong positions), since such hostile activities can be rendered ineffective," said Parkinson, a retired U.S. airforce colonel.
With the large numbers of ships travelling through various bottlenecks like the English Channel and the Sunda Strait, accurate navigation is vital and the small loss of accuracy is a small price to pay for safety.

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