Saturday, February 25, 2017

Good advice and all that jazz

Madeline Peyroux and friends do "Don't Wait Too Long"

There is always one

From the pen of Matt Danes

When the fighting stops

Win or lose, countries that provided recruits for the fight have to face the problem of the return of those still alive. Imbued with ideology, innured to the destruction and hooked on the adrenaline rush of facing death and surviving, they seldom easily fit into the peaceful land they return to.
Tunisia has sent more fighters abroad to join the ranks of the Islamic State than any other country. And now, as the Islamic State takes a battering on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, the country is at odds over what to do if and when they come home.

Tunisians have been dealing with a frenzied polemic in recent weeks, as secularists have raised fears that a returning wave will bring further mayhem to this fragile state and Islamists have been forced to condemn the jihadists.

“How can we accept those people who are professionals in war, in the use of arms and have a culture of being terrorists?” asked Badra Gaaloul, a civil-military analyst who heads the International Center of Strategic, Security and Military Studies. “We in Tunisia are in crisis, and we cannot accept these people.”

“It is a nightmare for Tunisia,” she added. “We are not ready for that.”

The concern is not academic. Ms. Gaaloul, among others, points to the experience of Algeria, which suffered through a decade-long insurgency in the 1990s when jihadists returned from Afghanistan set on establishing Islamic law, and the army led a brutal war to crush them.

Already there are signs that some of the 5,500 Tunisians who have gone abroad, according to United Nations estimates, are seeking new targets at home and in Europe, where Tunisians have been implicated in several recent terrorist cases in France and Germany.

For Tunisia, there is no easy solution. The new Constitution does not allow the government to bar them. They can be locked up for joining a terrorist group, or for committing crimes abroad, but cases are hard to build and charges difficult to prove. The president proposed amnesty, only to be vigorously opposed.
Like fighting cancer, if all the cells don't die, it will just keep coming back.

Everybody loves Djibouti

And those that love it best build military bases there, first the United States and now China. And China is building right next door, like neighbors in a housing development.
With no shared border, China and the United States mostly circle each other from afar, relying on satellites and cybersnooping to peek inside the workings of each other’s war machines.

But the two strategic rivals are about to become neighbors in this sun-scorched patch of East African desert. China is constructing its first overseas military base here — just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, one of the Pentagon’s largest and most important foreign installations.

With increasing tensions over China’s island-building efforts in the South China Sea, American strategists worry that a naval port so close to Camp Lemonnier could provide a front-row seat to the staging ground for American counterterror operations in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

Established after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Camp Lemonnier is home to 4,000 personnel. Some are involved in highly secretive missions, including targeted drone killings in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, and the raid last month in Yemen that left a member of the Navy SEALs dead. The base, which is run by the Navy and abuts Djibouti’s international airport, is the only permanent American military installation in Africa.

Beyond surveillance concerns, United States officials, citing the billions of dollars in Chinese loans to Djibouti’s heavily indebted government, wonder about the long-term durability of an alliance that has served Washington well in its global fight against Islamic extremism.

Just as important, experts say, the base’s construction is a milestone marking Beijing’s expanding global ambitions — with potential implications for America’s longstanding military dominance.

“It’s a huge strategic development,” said Peter Dutton, professor of strategic studies at the Naval War College in Rhode Island, who has studied satellite imagery of the construction.

“It’s naval power expansion for protecting commerce and China’s regional interests in the Horn of Africa,” Professor Dutton said. “This is what expansionary powers do. China has learned lessons from Britain of 200 years ago.”

Chinese officials play down the significance of the base, saying it will largely support antipiracy operations that have helped quell the threat to international shipping once posed by marauding Somalis.

“The support facility will be mainly used to provide rest and rehabilitation for the Chinese troops taking part in escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, U.N. peacekeeping and humanitarian rescue,” the Defense Ministry in Beijing said in a written reply to questions.
Well, they do perform peace keeping functions so I guess your average Chinese swabbie would want someplace nearby for a little rest, a nice bowl of noodles and a few Tsingtao to wash it down. And it does so annoy the Pentgon brass when someone else builds a military facility next door.

The Tiger Woods of Hypocrisy

Seth Meyers on Trump's Golf, Town Halls and good soup.

What other ideas has he borrowed?

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Fruits of 'Good Christian' Hate

Rhiannon Giddens sings about the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing one "Birmingham Sunday" in 1963

Don't make them like they used to

From the pen of Jim Morin

He goes right, we go left

But that will not stop the Democrats from adopting a Republican game plan to deal with the hard right agenda of President Beetlefart.
Reduced to their weakest state in a generation, Democratic Party leaders will gather in two cities this weekend to plot strategy and select a new national chairman with the daunting task of rebuilding the party’s depleted organization. But senior Democratic officials concede that the blueprint has already been chosen for them — by an incensed army of liberals demanding no less than total war against President Trump.

Immediately after the November election, Democrats were divided over how to handle Mr. Trump, with one camp favoring all-out confrontation and another backing a seemingly less risky approach of coaxing him to the center with offers of compromise.

Now, spurred by explosive protests and a torrent of angry phone calls and emails from constituents — and outraged themselves by Mr. Trump’s swift moves to enact a hard-line agenda — Democrats have all but cast aside any notion of conciliation with the White House. Instead, they are mimicking the Republican approach of the last eight years — the “party of no” — and wagering that brash obstruction will pay similar dividends.

“My belief is, we have to resist every way and everywhere, every time we can,” when Mr. Trump offends core American values, Mr. Inslee said. By undermining Mr. Trump across the board, he said, Democrats hope to split Republicans away from a president of their own party.

“Ultimately, we’d like to have a few Republicans stand up to rein him in,” Mr. Inslee said. “The more air goes out of his balloon, the earlier and likelier that is to happen.”

Yet Democrats acknowledge there is a wide gulf between the party’s desire to fight Mr. Trump and its power to thwart him, quietly worrying that the expectations of the party’s activist base may outpace what Democratic lawmakers can achieve.

“They want us to impeach him immediately,” said Representative John Yarmuth, Democrat of Kentucky. “And of course we can’t do that by ourselves.”

Some in the party also fret that a posture of unremitting hostility to the president could imperil lawmakers in red states that Mr. Trump won last year, or compromise efforts for Democrats to present themselves to moderate voters as an inoffensive alternative to the polarizing president.
Moderate voters? Hel, you get them on your side by making it clear how much Trump and his stooges are taking out of their pockets and away from their lives. People lash out when they are hurt and they need someone to direct their anger. Trump did it and so can the Democrats.

7th Infantry Division has a new division chaplain

And he is a Muslim. Which makes him no more and no less holy than any other denomination, it just puts him in charge of the spiritual needs of some 14000+ soldiers of all denominations.
He was offered the job of chaplain for an entire division, an honor for anyone in his field, but a milestone in his case. After a ceremony this summer, Shabazz will become the first Muslim division-level chaplain in the history of the U.S. military – a Muslim spiritual leader for more than 14,000 mostly Christian soldiers.

Shabazz, who’s dedicated his life to working across religious lines, found it hard to keep calm as he received the news at his desk on Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington.

To get a sense of what a long shot this might’ve seemed like to Shabazz, consider the numbers. He’s one of only 56 Muslim chaplains in the entire U.S. military; the Army alone has around 1,400 chaplains. He said more than 140 other chaplains of his rank were vying for division-level jobs. And the number of Muslim division chaplains in the military’s 241-year history: Zero.

“When you get the call saying you have been bestowed a division, the news is kind of like, unearthly,” Shabazz said. “The list is so small and it’s such a tough cut.”

With four months until the ceremony that will make him chaplain of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division at Lewis-McChord, Shabazz has plenty of time to think about taking on such a visible role in an age of open anti-Muslim hostility. He’d like to think his transition will be as smooth as those of his Christian peers, but he knows that not everyone will welcome him as warmly as the senior officers who gave him a standing ovation when the news was announced at a meeting on base.

“For me, a regular old guy from Louisiana, I look to the heavens and say, ‘Why me?’ ” Shabazz said. “As the day gets closer, I’m sure I’ll have more anxiety and think about it more. I’m extremely proud to have been on this journey for 20 years and never would’ve imagined that I’d be chosen to be the first.”

“Islamic guy in a leadership position?” he said. “If I think about it too much, it’ll get overwhelming.”
No word on how his Commander-In-Chief will react but we wish him well as most of his duties have nothing to do with which invisible sky demon has dominion over you.

Republican Party's Greatest Disaster

Our various wars in the Middle East continue to drag on after a futile 15 years and there is no end in sight. So far the only ones to profit from them are the top military brass who have a road to promotion regardless of how badly they fail and the Defense industries that have a constant market for their goods.
It’s hardly controversial these days to point out that the 2003 invasion (aka Operation Iraqi Freedom), far from bringing freedom to that country, sowed chaos. Toppling Saddam’s brutal regime tore down the edifice of a regional system that had stood for nearly a century. However inadvertently, the U.S. military lit the fire that burned down the old order.

As it turned out, no matter the efforts of the globe’s greatest military, no easy foreign solution existed when it came to Iraq. It rarely does. Unfortunately, few in Washington were willing to accept such realities. Think of that as the twenty-first-century American Achilles' heel: unwarranted optimism about the efficacy of U.S. power. Policy in these years might best be summarized as: “we” have to do something, and military force is the best—perhaps the only—feasible option.

Has it worked? Is anybody, including Americans, safer? Few in power even bother to ask such questions. But the data is there. The Department of State counted just 348 terrorist attacks worldwide in 2001 compared with 11,774 attacks in 2015. That’s right: at best, America’s 15-year “war on terror” failed to significantly reduce international terrorism; at worst, its actions helped make matters 30 times worse.

Recall the Hippocratic oath: “First do no harm.” And remember Osama bin Laden’s stated goal on 9/11: to draw conventional American forces into attritional campaigns in the heart of the Middle East. Mission accomplished!

In today’s world of “alternative facts,” it’s proven remarkably easy to ignore such empirical data and so avoid thorny questions. Recent events and contemporary political discourse even suggest that the country’s political elites now inhabit a post-factual environment; in terms of the Greater Middle East, this has been true for years.

It couldn’t be more obvious that Washington’s officialdom regularly and repeatedly drew erroneous lessons from the recent past and ignored a hard truth staring them in the face: U.S. military action in the Middle East has solved nothing. At all. Only the government cannot seem to accept this. Meanwhile, an American fixation on one unsuitable term—“isolationism”—masks a more apt description of American dogma in this period: hyper-interventionism.

As for military leaders, they struggle to admit failure when they—and their troops—have sacrificed so much sweat and blood in the region. Senior officers display the soldier’s tendency to confuse performance with effectiveness, staying busy with being successful. Prudent strategy requires differentiating between doing a lot and doing the right things. As Einstein reputedly opined, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

A realistic look at America’s recent past in the Greater Middle East and a humbler perspective on its global role suggest two unsatisfying but vital conclusions. First, false lessons and misbegotten collective assumptions contributed to and created much of today’s regional mess. As a result, it’s long past time to reassess recent history and challenge long-held suppositions. Second, policymakers badly overestimated the efficacy of American power, especially via the military, to shape foreign peoples and cultures to their desires. In all of this, the agency of locals and the inherent contingency of events were conveniently swept aside.

So what now? It should be obvious (but probably isn’t in Washington) that it’s well past time for the U.S. to bring its incessant urge to respond militarily to the crisis of the moment under some kind of control. Policymakers should accept realistic limitations on their ability to shape the world to America’s desired image of it.

Consider the last few decades in Iraq and Syria. In the 1990s, Washington employed economic sanctions against Saddam Hussein and his regime. The result: tragedy to the tune of half a million dead children. Then it tried invasion and democracy promotion. The result: tragedy—including 4,500-plus dead American soldiers, a few trillion dollars down the drain, more than 200,000 dead Iraqis, and millions more displaced in their own country or in flight as refugees.

In response, in Syria the U.S. tried only limited intervention. Result: tragedy—upwards of 300,000 dead and close to seven million more turned into refugees.

So will tough talk and escalated military action finally work this time around as the Trump administration faces off against ISIS? Consider what happens even if the U.S achieves a significant rollback of ISIS. Even if, in conjunction with allied Kurdish or Syrian rebel forces, ISIS's “capital,” Raqqa, is taken and the so-called caliphate destroyed, the ideology isn’t going away. Many of its fighters are likely to transition back to an insurgency and there will be no end to international terror in ISIS’s name. In the meantime, none of this will have solved the underlying problems of artificial states now at the edge of collapse or beyond, divided ethno-religious groups, and anti-Western nationalist and religious sentiments. All of it begs the question: What if Americans are incapable of helping (at least in a military sense)?

A real course correction is undoubtedly impossible without at least a willingness to reconsider and reframe our recent historical experiences. If the 2016 election is any indication, however, a Trump administration with the present line-up of national security chiefs (who fought in these very wars) won’t meaningfully alter either the outlook or the policies that led us to this moment. Candidate Trump offered a hollow promise—to “Make America Great Again”—conjuring up a mythical era that never was. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton offered only remarkably dated and stale rhetoric about America as the “indispensable nation.”
How many more years of waste and folly can we expect? Given the type of people we elect, we are probably facing war without end, amen.

Your Morning Colbert

Wherein Stephen examines the madcap antics of the new Nazis.

Trump's Jobs

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thirty five years ago

This was topping charts and filling jukebox coin slots.

You pay for what you get

From the pen of David Fitzsimmons

The jawbone of an ass

President Beetlefart has used a part of his time in office making grandiose promises about trade and tariffs and scaring the shit out of businesses. And they are scared because while other Presidents have made promises, this is the first time a stark staring lunatic has been in the White House with the support both houses of Congress in the hands of like minded lunatics.
President Trump has talked about border tariffs and new trade deals that many people in aerospace fear could raise the cost of American airplanes bought by foreign airlines or governments. And if Boeing’s sales or profits suffer, its nerve-system supply chain — more than 13,000 companies across the United States, and more than 1.5 million jobs — would most likely feel the pain, too. At SmartCells, 50 full-time employees and a few dozen temporary workers stamp out cushion pads on heavy machines. Executives work in a red building everyone calls the barn, and first names are the rule. Washington feels far away, but it is on just about everybody’s radar.

“Let’s hit it with a two-by-four and see how it reacts, then get a plan,” said Bob Bishop, the chief operations officer at SmartCells, describing Mr. Trump’s hard-charging style. “That doesn’t always work.”

The anxiety, said Mr. Bishop, 46, a former deputy county sheriff who voted for Mr. Trump, centers not so much on politics as economics, specifically the intense competition with the French airplane maker Airbus, which competes toe to toe with Boeing for jet orders in countries around the world in a delicate game of narrow cost differences and giant contracts.

Mr. Trump has said he would seek a 45 percent tariff on imports from China, for example, to protect American jobs, and a 20 percent tariff on goods from Mexico. If business costs for Boeing go up as a result, the company — the nation’s single largest exporter by dollar volume — probably would not be able to raise prices on its airplanes to make up the difference, because then it would lose customers to Airbus. For workers and suppliers, the fallout could be brutal.

“We’ve got such a huge network here — anything that curtails exports hurts the entire supply chain,” said John Thornquist, the director of the aerospace office at the Washington State Department of Commerce. “We’re very vulnerable.”

Companies that sell to Boeing, or sell to other companies that build Boeing components, said that even predicting a trade war was risky, with so many variables — politics, economics, multiple countries — all in play. A modern commercial jetliner can have up to six million components that must be engineered and tested to safety standards, even before assembly starts.

“We’re trying to do our best due diligence to put together an assessment, but at this time, the best we can do is just monitor day by day,” said Maurizio Miozza, the vice president for development and strategic planning at Umbra Cuscinetti, an Italian company that makes precision parts for Boeing and that has about 100 employees north of Seattle. But, he added, “the picture is not rosy.”
Just one example of why business is fearful of a president who will speak about things of which he knows nothing and a Congress that will do anything to prove their rhetoric is valid.

Mexico won't be our Holding Pen

In addition to hopefully paying for President Beetlefart's Fabulous Fence, he apparently thinks Mexico will hold all the undocumented persons who can not, for whatever reason, be shipped back to their country of origin. Mexico's response to that suggestion was a nice diplomatic "Fuck You", "Fóllate" in the original.
Mexico is not happy – actually, angry – about President Donald Trump’s expectation that it would hold tens of thousands of apprehended migrants who can’t be immediately deported, regardless of where they come from.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray vowed Wednesday that Mexico will not accept the Trump’s administration “unilateral” directives and that President Enrique Peña Nieto will make that clear to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly when they meet on Thursday.

“I want to make clear, in the most emphatic way, that the government of Mexico and the people of Mexico will not accept decisions that, in a unilateral way, are imposed by another government,” Videgaray told reporters in Mexico City.

Videgaray said the Mexican government would not hesitate to turn to the United Nations to denounce actions by the United States.

The release of the documents signed by Kelly outlined how immigrants entitled to a court appearance would no longer be released into the United States to await their hearing date. If they couldn’t be deported to their home country, many would be sent to wait in Mexico.

The two nations have long seen the issue of immigration as a sovereign issue.

While advocating for the fair treatment of Mexican nationals living and apprehended in the United States, Mexican officials have been tolerant of the United States rights to impose its own policies. But Jorge Guajardo, Mexico's former ambassador to China, said the expectation that Mexico would take U.S. detainees without serious bilateral talks is step too far.

“You can’t just unilaterally decide something like this without the other country cooperating,” Guajardo said. He pointed out that many people of many nationalities, not just Central Americans, enter the United States from Mexico.
How like President Beetlefart to actually believe he can dump his shit anywhere he pleases and those lucky enough to receive it should be thankful. To him, "Su casa es mu casa" applies to the world.

Awesome record

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A child of Philadelphia

Birdie Busch has always kept a place in her heart for the "City Of Brotherly Love"

We all want to know

From the pen of Jim Morin

R.I.P. Lorenz Albert Van DeLinder III

As Larry Coryell you were no purist but made whatever music you liked into jazz that many liked.

More than just in bed with...

The e-mails ordered released by a judge last week show that President Beetlefart's carefully selected head of the EPA was cock in mouth with big oil and other polluters who wanted to make a few more buck ignoring safety and health rules and regulations.
During his tenure as attorney general of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt, now the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and political groups with ties to the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch to roll back environmental regulations, according to over 6,000 pages of emails made public on Wednesday.

The publication of the correspondence comes just days after Mr. Pruitt was sworn in to run the E.P.A., which is charged with reining in pollution and regulating public health.

“Thank you to your respective bosses and all they are doing to push back against President Obama’s EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states,” said one email sent to Mr. Pruitt and an Oklahoma congressman in August 2013 by Matt Ball, an executive at Americans for Prosperity. That nonprofit group is funded in part by the Kochs, the Kansas business executives who spent much of the last decade combating federal regulations, particularly in the energy sector. “You both work for true champions of freedom and liberty!” the note said.

The companies provided him draft letters to send to federal regulators in an attempt to block federal regulations intended to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas wells, ozone air pollution, and chemicals used in fracking, the email correspondence shows.

They held secret meetings to discuss more comprehensive ways to combat the Obama administration’s environmental agenda, and the companies and organizations they funded repeatedly praised Mr. Pruitt and his staff for the assistance he provided in their campaign.

The correspondence points to the tension emerging as Mr. Pruitt is now charged with regulating many of the same companies with which he coordinated closely in his previous position. As attorney general of Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt took part in 14 lawsuits against major E.P.A. environmental rules, often in coordination with energy companies such as Devon Energy, an Oklahoma oil and gas producer, and American Electric Power, an Ohio-based electric utility.

The emails show that his office corresponded with those companies in efforts to weaken federal environmental regulations — the same rules he will now oversee.

“Please find attached a short white paper with some talking points that you might find useful to cut and paste when encouraging States to file comments on the SSM rule,” wrote Roderick Hastie, a lobbyist at Hunton & Williams, a law firm that represents major utilities, including Southern Company, urging Mr. Pruitt’s office to file comments on a proposed E.P.A. rule related to so-called Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction Emissions.

The most frequent correspondence was with Devon Energy, which has aggressively challenged rules proposed by the E.P.A. and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, which controls drilling on federal lands — widespread in the west. In the 2014 election cycle, Devon was one of the top contributors to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which Mr. Pruitt led for two years during that period.
Such is the man supposedly charged with protecting our environment, a fully paid for agent of the polluters who would destroy it for a few dollars more. So now no town, no neighborhood is safe from becoming a dump for their shit because their profit is more valuable to Pruitt than your life and well being.

A yuge and wonderful beginning

A new McClatchy-Marist Poll has more than half the voters polled believing that President Beetlefart has done illegal and/or unethical acts involved with his many conflicts of interest.
More than half of voters believe Donald Trump has done something illegal or unethical as he faces potential conflicts of interest by continuing to own his businesses while serving as president, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.

Even more voters – nearly six in 10 – say Trump’s conduct as president makes them feel embarrassed, according to the poll.

Those who think Trump has done something illegal, unethical or embarrassing include large numbers of independent voters.

Matt Boyer, 40, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who does research for a large think tank, said he believes Trump is engaged in unethical behavior because he continues to profit from his businesses.

“He is generating benefit to his enterprise,” he said. “The rest of the executive branch can’t participate in this behavior.”

Just before he became president, Trump announced he would put his businesses and assets in a trust to be run by his two oldest sons and that he would have “no involvement whatsoever” in the businesses. The agreement did not go as far as ethics officials wanted because he retains ownership and did not use a blind trust.

Twenty-eight percent of voters think Trump did something wrong while 25 percent think he did something unethical but not illegal. Forty-two percent said he has done nothing wrong while six percent are unsure.

Just a month after his inauguration, Trump’s presidency is mired in turmoil. He faced massive protests over his sweeping temporary halt on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, ousted his national security adviser after he lied about his contact with Russian officials and watched as his labor secretary nominee withdrew from consideration after fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill failed to support him.

Only 41 percent of registered voters say they approve of the job Trump is doing as president, compared to 49 percent who disapprove. Those numbers are weaker than other presidents at comparable time in their presidencies, according to national surveys.
Dick Nixon was in his second term before people started to think he was a crook and Beetlefart has done it right out of the gate. One has to wonder how quickly His Fraudulency willburn out at this frantic pace.And when it's Flame-On will he include Bannon and his herd of asshole? We wait and hope.

Colbert on His Illegitimacy

President Beetlefart is so good for Stephen

To make a few dollars more

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

She grew up in Cabbagetown

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

Policy change

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


From the pen of Bill Schorr

Creating more value than Trump ever will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hottest new investment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like a fart in a Beetle

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


Monday, February 20, 2017

You Can't Talk to Me Like That

But it sure sounds like Nikki Lane wants you to.

The Creation of Policy

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

Not what he smoked but where

From the pen of Marian Kamensky

A House divided

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump's Best Friend Putin

John Oliver exposes the Putin/Trump relationship

He has given us so many reasons

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Blood Moon

Skye Wallace

Another Country Heard From

In the never ending race to lick the Boots of Donald

The Good Old Days of Religious Freedom

From Jesus and Mo:

The Eternal Whipping Boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He just can't help himself

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

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

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

Not the Swedes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The originals

Saturday, February 18, 2017

From Down Under and Left Handed

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

The Belfry has a combover

From the pen of Taylor jones

Kim Jong Pudge went too far

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The usual Republican budget shit

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Paradox of IOKIYAR

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

Sell by date has passed

Friday, February 17, 2017

From her newest album

Sara Watkins sings "Say So"

The First One

From the pen of Lee Judge

R.I.P. Robert Michel

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

Seth Meyers takes a closer look at Trump's presser

You inherited a fortune, we elected a mess

Colbert on The Tangerine Shitgibbons press conference

I'm crazy too

Thursday, February 16, 2017

When she fell in love

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

Identify the problem

From the pen of Kevin Siers

He's Just Not That Into You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colbert asks, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

Stephen looks at the many Trump treasons.

Moe is the smart stooge

Samantha Bee examines the life of Lyin' Paul Ryan

The Neo-Bolsheviks

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

At The Purchaser's Option

Rhiannon Giddens

Like the good old days

From the pen of Kevin Siers

Home of Sun Baked Brains

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's Funny 'Cause It's Treason

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

A matter of priorities

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Taller Children

Elizabeth & the Catapult

So all you media types can eat it!

From the pen of Trevor Irvin

With our security establishment in a mess

Putin makes another move that would have elicited a strong counter response from any real President. His deployment of a new land based cruise missile is in violation of a 1987 treaty between the two countries.
Russia has secretly deployed a new cruise missile despite complaints from American officials that it violates a landmark arms control treaty that helped seal the end of the Cold War, administration officials say.

The move presents a major challenge for President Trump, who has vowed to improve relations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and to pursue future arms accords.

The new Russian missile deployment also comes as the Trump administration is struggling to fill key policy positions at the State Department and the Pentagon — and to settle on a permanent replacement for Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser who resigned late Monday. Mr. Flynn stepped down after it was revealed that he had misled the vice president and other officials over conversations with Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.

The ground-launched cruise missile at the center of American concerns is one that the Obama administration said in 2014 had been tested in violation of a 1987 treaty that bans American and Russian intermediate-range missiles based on land.

The Russia missile program has been a major concern for the Pentagon, which has developed options for how to respond, including deploying additional missile defenses in Europe or developing air-based or sea-based cruise missiles.

But it is politically significant, as well.

It is very unlikely that the Senate, which is already skeptical of Mr. Putin’s intentions, would agree to ratify a new strategic arms control accord unless the alleged violation of the intermediate-range treaty is corrected. Mr. Trump has said the United States should “strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.” But at the same time, he has talked of reaching a new arms agreement with Moscow that would reduce arms “very substantially.”

The deployment of the system could also increase the military threat to NATO nations, which potentially would be one of the principal targets. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is scheduled to meet with allied defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday.
The idea that Precedent Trump would or could form a coherent response to this provocation is so ludicrous. Our Secretary of State is busy working on his oil deal with Russia and the National Security adviser canned and his replacement not yet in office, Pooty has no fears he will be opposed on any of his moves.

The Conundrum of Flight

Airlines have perennially failed to operate at a profit without abusing their employees and passengers and cutting every corner possible, including safety. Despite this, the airline industry wants us to believe they can band together and operate the nations air traffic control system fairly, efficiently and most important to those who fly, safely.
Major airlines and their trade associations are pushing hard to overhaul the nation’s air traffic control system, urging the Trump administration to take it out of government hands for the first time in nearly 60 years.

They have taken their effort to the White House, meeting last week with President Donald Trump.

His administration has not yet said whether it will back the plan to transfer the system from the Federal Aviation Administration, where it’s been since the agency’s beginnings in 1958, to a private entity.

In her Senate confirmation hearing last month, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was noncommittal.

“Obviously this is an issue of great importance,” she told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “This is a huge issue that needs to have national consensus.”

They’re facing opposition from Democrats and a few congressional Republicans, including Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran and groups representing general-aviation manufacturers. They said privatization could hurt small airports and companies that make business and personal aircraft. They’re concerned that the new board governing the system would raise fees for smaller planes to use the airspace.

The issue could tie up a long-term reauthorization of the FAA, which lawmakers must pass by Sept. 30. The failure of Congress to pass a similar bill in the summer of 2011 nearly brought the country’s aviation system to a halt.

“I know that will continue to be a major piece of contention,” Moran said in an interview. “It divides the aviation industry.”

The industry wants to accelerate the rollout of NextGen, a satellite-based control system that would replace ground-based radar technology. Privatization supporters believe that a nongovernment organization could finish NextGen more quickly and efficiently than the FAA.

Moran, a member of the commerce committee, wants the FAA to use available technology to finish the job. He called the privatization plan “a step further than necessary.”

The National Business Aviation Association said in a statement Monday that it could not support any plan to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system.

“The U.S. has the world’s safest, most complex and most diverse aviation system, and significant progress is being made on implementation of NextGen,” it said. “We want to continue that progress, and not have the debate get distracted by a decades-old push by the airlines to take over the nation’s aviation system.”
The idea that the airlines would adequately fund NextGen to the finish or be able to operate it efficiently without shortchanging general aviation in the process is ludicrous. But with the lunatics running the asylum it it altogether too possible.

Colbert on National Security

Stephen Colbert bitchslaps the new White House Senior Douchebag Miller

But where it is required by law.....

Monday, February 13, 2017

Who Killed The Moonlight

Nicole Atkins from her album Slow Phaser

Trumpentine Greetings

Our faithful Tom Tomorrow brings us a handful of Donald Trumps favorite Valentine greetings that he will send to his one true love.

The cure can be worse than the disease

From the pen of John Cole

R.I.P. Alwin Lopez Jarreau

Al Jarreau sang a shit ton of great music with little regard for genre.

They know when you have nothing

The latest confrontation between voters and the Republicans who pretend to represent them has once again found the GOP stooges with little to say because they never imagined they would have to provide answers to questions they did not want asked. Most of those questions were about the chimerical GOP replacement for ACA/Obamacare.
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, a durable Wisconsin Republican who has served in the House since 1979, had little to offer in response. “If I could give you an answer today, I would, but I can’t,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said at a town-hall-style meeting on Saturday, where about 70 people packed a room at the Pewaukee Public Library.

Ms. Roelandts’s question and others like it are being asked with increasing anger and urgency across the country, and Republicans have found themselves on the defensive — for all their fury aimed at repealing the law, so far they have not offered an alternative.

Soon after, a man yelled to Mr. Sensenbrenner: “How many times did you vote to repeal without knowing what the replacement would be? How many times? Dozens!”

While Mr. Sensenbrenner did not face the kind of anger that some of his peers did in recent days, he must answer the same question: Is this opposition a sign of a sustainable organic movement, or one that will soon flame out? And like his colleagues, he is also coming to grips with how much he will be saddled with the combative comments made by President Trump.

Mr. Sensenbrenner, in an interview, attributed the turnout at his gatherings to “organized opposition by people who were on the losing side of the election.”
In imitation of their Orange Figurehead, they try to blame the unrest on others but the clear fact is they never planned to replace ACA/Obamacare after they repealed it and now are facing voters who don't want to lose it. Once again the Republican Party is showing thatin its current form it is totally unable to govern.

KKK Wizard ascends to new position

As the old saying goes, "The Only Good Klansman Is A Dead Klansman". From that we can now determine that Frank Ancona, imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is now officially a Good Klansman.

What does he mean when he says words...

John Oliver examines the relationship to Donald Trump and The Truth

The Four Seasons of Trump

Sunday, February 12, 2017

She has a friend named Milo

And he must be a wonderful guy because Claire Lynch wrote a wonderful song about "Milo".

In the White House playroom

From the pen of David Horsey

GOP doesn't mind if this group dies

With the access to medical care provided by ACA, many opioid addicts were able to access treatment and begin the salvaging of their lives. That access to medication and programs will probably be one of the first things to go when the Republicans start slicing up ACA.
If Congress and President Trump succeed in dismantling the Affordable Care Act, he will have no insurance to pay for his medication or counseling, and he fears he will slide back to heroin.

“If this gets taken from me, it’s right back to Square 1,” he said. “And that’s not a good place. I’m scary when I’m using. I don’t care who I hurt.”

As the debate over the fate of the health law intensifies, proponents have focused on the lifesaving care it has brought to people with cancer, diabetes and other physical illnesses. But the law has also had a profound, though perhaps less heralded, effect on mental health and addiction treatment, vastly expanding access to those services by designating them as “essential benefits” that must be covered through the A.C.A. marketplaces and expanded Medicaid.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning research group, calculates that 2.8 million people with substance use disorders, including 220,000 with opioid disorders, have coverage under the A.C.A. As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate communities nationwide, public health officials say the law has begun to make a critical difference in their ability to treat and rehabilitate people.

“Of all the illnesses, this is one where we’ve seen very dramatic changes and where we stand to lose the most ground if we lose the A.C.A.,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and chief executive of the National Council for Behavioral Health, adding that treatment programs have begun to be integrated into primary care clinics and health care systems nationwide.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump pledged to rid the country of Obamacare but also to address the opioid epidemic and expand access to drug treatment. Many of the states hardest hit by opioids — including Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky — voted for Mr. Trump, but some Republican governors have expressed concern about what might happen to people being treated for addiction if their party repeals or scales back the health law.

John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, where the Medicaid expansion has covered 700,000 people, has been particularly outspoken about its success in his state. “Thank God we expanded Medicaid because that Medicaid money is helping to rehab people,” Mr. Kasich said during a bill signing in January.
Trump, naturally. was speaking out of both sides of his mouth on this issue but the reality is the GOP in Congress have no use for junkies, except their own children, and will throw them all on the garbage heap as soon as they can.

Best Korea pops off missile

And so far The Tangerine Shitgibbon has not responded with a tweeted "Oh Yeah, Mine's Bigger!". Perhaps it is the presence of Japanese Prime Minister Abe who has a lot more skin in this game than Donny that is tempering him.
A projectile believed to be a modified version of the North’s intermediate-range ballistic missile Musudan took off at 7:55 a.m. from Banghyon, a town near North Korea’s northwestern border with China, and flew 310 miles before falling in the sea, the South Korean military said. Earlier, the United States Strategic Command issued a statement identifying the missile as a medium- or intermediate-range system that “did not pose a threat to North America.”

South Korea condemned the missile launching, saying that it violated a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions that bar North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missile and nuclear weapons technologies. It also said the North had launched the missile to raise tensions over its weapons programs and to use it as leverage in dealing with the Trump administration.

“We see this as part of an attempt by the North to grab attention by demonstrating its nuclear and missile capabilities and to counter the new United States administration’s strong policy line against North Korea,” the South Korean military said in its statement.

The missile launch came as Mr. Trump is hosting Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, on an official visit, but it was unclear if the test was intended as a political message.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Abe hastily arranged a joint appearance in response. “North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable,” Mr. Abe said, calling on the country to comply with all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Looking grim, Mr. Trump said nothing about the missile launch, but pledged to staunchly back Japan. “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent,” he said. The two leaders are at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s club in Palm Beach, Fla., where they are meeting over the weekend.

The United States Strategic Command statement identified the missile North Korea launched as “a medium- or intermediate-range ballistic missile.”
Lord knows what it took to keep Tangerine from exploding in wrath at his fellow dictator with a funny haircut, but he deserves a modicum of praise for letting those better able than he to respond.

The New Spicey

Melissa McCarthy again.

Sunday's lesson from Matthew

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Much like Jimi Hendrix

Eva Cassidy is a musical legend who had most of her recordings released after her death. This recording of her singing "Nightbird" less than a year before her passing might well serve as an epitaph to a beautiful talent.

Another Trump product line has been dropped

Incentive for drug innovation

On the face of it, the orphan drug priority review was meant to spur pharmaceutical companies to continue necessary but unprofitable drug production. Instead Big Pharma has used it as a legal means to jack up prices sky high.
An old steroid treatment, long available outside the United States, received approval this week for a rare disease that afflicts about 15,000 Americans. Though not previously approved in the United States, the drug, deflazacort, has for years been available to patients suffering from the devastating and fatal disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy; families can import it from abroad for about $1,200 per year on average.

The new list price for the drug? $89,000 a year.

After rebates and discounts, the net price will be $54,000 a year, said Marathon Pharmaceuticals Chief Financial Officer Babar Ghias in an interview.

The company sought approval for deflazacort as an “orphan drug,” a special approval pathway intended to encourage the development of drugs for very rare diseases. With orphan designation, the company gets seven years of exclusive rights to sell the drug in the U.S., even though it has long been available as a generic in other countries.

The company also scored a valuable “priority review” voucher, essentially a ticket that it can use to get a future drug reviewed by regulators faster — or that it can sell to another company for hundreds of millions of dollars.

In theory, these vouchers exist for a good reason: Regulators want to encourage companies to invest in developing drugs for rare diseases that afflict children. But when old drugs already being used for a disease go through the approval process to earn a voucher — and a high price — it has raised questions about whether the incentives are being misapplied.

“It seems like it’s yet another example of gaming the system,” said Aaron Kesselheim, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “How many examples of this do we have to see before we can start to rethink the priority review voucher as a means of incentivizing innovation? This also seems to be another example of gaming the Orphan Drug Act, which was intended to try and encourage research into new therapeutic entities for people who have rare diseases — and it doesn’t seem like this is that.”
The greed of pharmaceutical companies is extraordinary in the ease with which it can turn a well intentioned law into just another paving brick on the road to Hell.

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