Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Los Angeles


Honey County


A gentle, faithful steed


From the pen of Jim Morin



Another Trump Failure


Seth Meyers on Trump's Drug Efforts


Don't worry, we've got this


Stepen Colbert


When you can't win on your merit



Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Like A Wave


Cat Clyde


Time to take him out


From the pen of Jim Morin




Trump's tax scam feeds into a favorite security scam


From the New Deal stock buybacks by corporations were looked upon as stock manipulation and banned by law. And then in 1982 under the benevolent evil of Ronald Reagan, the SEC made them legal. Since then corporate management has used them to divert $Trillions into their pockets at the expense of consumers, workers and small shareholders. And the latest Republican/Trump tax scam is spurring a new surge in buybacks.
President Trump promised that his tax cut would encourage companies to invest in factories, workers and wages, setting off a spending spree that would reinvigorate the American economy.

Companies have announced plans for some of those investments. But so far, companies are using much of the money for something with a more narrow benefit: buying their own shares.

Those so-called buybacks are good for shareholders, including the senior executives who tend to be big owners of their companies’ stock. A company purchasing its own shares is a time-tested way to bolster its stock price.

But the purchases can come at the expense of investments in things like hiring, research and development and building new plants — the sort of investments that directly help the overall economy. The buybacks are also most likely to worsen economic inequality because the benefits of stocks purchases flow disproportionately to the richest Americans.

The tax overhaul is the cornerstone of Mr. Trump’s economic plan. It has been a big win for companies, offering lower corporate rates and a permanent break on overseas profits. Warren E. Buffett said in his annual letter to investors on Saturday that his company, Berkshire Hathaway, enjoyed a $29 billion gain thanks to the new tax law.

What companies do with the trillions of dollars they’re bringing back to the United States, and the money they will save each year on their tax bills, will in large part determine whether the plan is a success or a failure.

As the tax cuts kick in, companies have laid out a variety of uses for the money. Some are paying out one-time bonuses to employees. Others are raising salaries. Others plan to open new factories.

In the fourth quarter, American companies’ investments in things like factories and business equipment grew by 6.8 percent. That was the fastest growth rate since 2014, but far from the giant surge in capital spending that was promised ahead of the tax overhaul.

But the buying back of shares is also at record levels.

Almost 100 American corporations have trumpeted such plans in the past month. American companies have announced more than $178 billion in planned buybacks — the largest amount unveiled in a single quarter, according to Birinyi Associates, a market research firm.

Such purchases reduce a company’s total number of outstanding shares, giving each remaining share a slightly bigger piece of the profit pie.

The flurry of planned buybacks has been good for the stock market. Early this month, stocks were down more than 10 percent from their January peak. The prospect of companies flooding markets with “buy” orders helped the market recoup some of its losses.

The broader impact on the economy is less clear. Economists believe a rising stock market benefits the economy, helping support consumer and business confidence. But the vast majority of the billions of dollars in planned share purchases will benefit the richest 10 percent of American households, who own 84 percent of all stocks. The top 1 percent of households own about 40 percent of all stocks.

Ultimately, the effect of the rising stock market depends on how those wealthy investors use their windfall. It helps the economy more, for example, if they put the money toward productive new companies than if they invest in government bonds.

Companies typically decide to make long-term investments in things like new workers and factories based on whether they will make the company more profitable — not merely because the companies are sitting on a pile of money that they otherwise would have paid in taxes.

At a news conference Thursday, the head of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, acknowledged that many companies were spending their money on buying their own shares.

“Right now we’re going to have an adjustment where you see probably more dividends and share buybacks than wage increases,” Mr. Hassett said. “But going forward we’re going to see a lot of capital formation and wage growth.”
Just like the preacher's heaven, wait until later for the economy to improve. Until then stand aside while we divert $Billions into our pockets.

Bashir got his gas


And a new UN report
links those gas bombs and rockets to North Korea. Not the finished product, but all the necessary parts to produce it as well as some ancillary help putting it all together.
North Korea has been shipping supplies to the Syrian government that could be used in the production of chemical weapons, United Nations experts contend.

The evidence of a North Korean connection comes as the United States and other countries have accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons on civilians, including recent attacks on civilians in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta using what appears to have been chlorine gas.

The supplies from North Korea include acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers, according to a report by United Nations investigators. North Korean missile technicians have also been spotted working at known chemical weapons and missile facilities inside Syria, according to the report, which was written by a panel of experts who looked at North Korea’s compliance with United Nations sanctions.

The report highlights the potential danger posed by any such trade between Syria and North Korea, which could allow Syria to maintain its chemical weapons while also providing North Korea with cash for its nuclear and missile programs.

The possible chemical weapons components were part of at least 40 previously unreported shipments by North Korea to Syria between 2012 and 2017 of prohibited ballistic missile parts and materials that could be used for both military and civilian purposes, according to the report, which has not been publicly released but which was reviewed by The New York Times.

Neither the report’s authors nor members of the United Nations Security Council who have seen it would comment, and neither would the United States’ mission to the international agency.

The eight experts who make up the panel all come from different countries and possess specific expertise in areas like weapons of mass destruction, maritime transport and customs controls. Since 2010 the panel has had a mandate from the Security Council to investigate possible sanctions violations by North Korea and present its findings in an annual report.
To blame North Korea without mentioning Russia some how fails to paint a complete picture. We know that Russia supplies North Korea with the necessary rocket fuels why not the gas precursors? And ships may be a preferred transport method but Russia does make a convenient alternative. And with Donny in the WHite house Pooty would get no opposition to doing whatever he wanted. A possibility.

Trevor doubts he would run


The Daily Show


Stephen's audience laughed


When he played Trump's Rambo claim


Well, Donny would do it



Monday, February 26, 2018

I Went To The Well



After the shooting stops


Tom Tomorrow
reviews the various ways that the national conversation avoids actually doing anything about it.

NRA approved Russian trolling


From the pen of Monte Wolverton



Is killing 29 miners the way to the Senate?


In the old days if you led the state militia unit that gunned down striking miners the answer would be yes and nowadays Bloody Don Blankenship, who killed 29 miners with his cost cutting and union busting is trying to see if it still works in West Virginia.
The devastating explosion in the Upper Big Branch coal mine killed 29 men in 2010 and scarred West Virginia like few events in modern memory. Don Blankenship, the head of the mining company, went to prison over it.

Not many people would call that a springboard for a career in politics.

Yet when Mr. Blankenship emerged last year from his one-year sentence for conspiracy to violate mine safety laws, rather than express remorse or contrition over the tragedy, he announced a run for the United States Senate, in a state where coal has been as much a cultural identity as an economic one.

His return to the public eye has reawakened painful memories in West Virginia, especially for relatives of the disaster’s victims. “You took 29 lives away from families like mine,” said Judy Jones Petersen in an interview, as if she were addressing Mr. Blankenship. Her brother, Dean Jones, was killed in the disaster. “Shame on you for coming back,” she said.

At one of Mr. Blankenship’s meet-and-greet events with voters, a knot of protesters held signs: “You must be joking.”

But in the coal fields, many people don’t think his candidacy is a joke at all. He has found support there for his claim to be a victim himself, pursued unfairly by federal prosecutors and mine safety inspectors. He brazenly calls himself a former “political prisoner.”

“They railroaded him,” said Steve Blair, a retiree who worked in mines run by Mr. Blankenship when he was the chief executive of the Massey Energy Company, once the largest coal producer in central Appalachia. “The federal government turned everybody loose to testify against him, just to get rid of him.”

Mr. Blair, 61, wearing a West Virginia University cap, forked up his steak and eggs at a Bob Evans restaurant recently in Logan. The town, once a Democratic stronghold, is emblematic of how vehemently voters in Appalachia have rejected the national party: Mr. Blair voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but four years later, the sitting president lost the Democratic primary in Logan County to a protest candidate in a Texas prison.

A burly man who is certain in his views, Mr. Blair had a ready explanation for the long decline of the coal industry. “One word: Obama,” he said. “I was put out of business by Obama.”

Mr. Blankenship claims that the federal government, not the coal company, is to blame for the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine near Montcoal, W.Va. Investigators found no evidence to support his claims, but he is running for office in an era of nationwide voter credulity for conspiracy theories.

And his candidacy is unfolding in a state where many people embrace a sense of persecution over coal’s decline. Economists say that a host of factors are responsible, chiefly the abundance of cheap natural gas, which has undercut coal in the energy marketplace. But that is not what many West Virginians choose to hear.
One word, Obama, so much easier to say and understand than a mine owner using them to suck all the value out of their work and calling a fatal mine disater just the cost of business. So sad because their grandparents would have known where the real danger lies.

Now that Bibi is facing prison


He needs his BFF Cadet Bone Spurs to start a war with Iran as soon as possible to distract everybody from his crimes. And the willing Cadet is working to destroy a hard won working agreement with the US, Europe and Iran. Europe hopes to counter Cadet Bone Spur's stupidity by taking the agreement to the next level.
The trans-Atlantic talks, which are being led by a low-key State Department official, Brian H. Hook, are fraught with risks — not least that Mr. Trump may reject whatever the Europeans offer him. He has called the agreement “the worst deal” ever and has demanded that Britain, France and Germany fix it by May 12 or he will pull the United States out.

Talking points that Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson recently circulated to American diplomats in Europe warned that “in the absence of a clear commitment from your side to address these issues, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.”

The instructions, which were shown to The New York Times, stipulate that the Europeans agree to three key fixes: a commitment to renegotiate limits on missile testing by Iran; an assurance that inspectors have unfettered access to Iranian military bases; and an extension of the deal’s expiration dates to prevent Iran from resuming the production of nuclear fuel long after the current restrictions expire in 2030.

European diplomats said there was scope for an agreement on missiles and inspections, but not yet on the length of the deal. They argue that rewriting those terms would break the bargain they struck, not only with Iran but also with Russia and China, two other signatories. And breaching the deal, they say, would free Iran to pursue nuclear weapons again.

That is why, as the two sides prepare to meet again in Berlin next month, the Europeans are floating the concept of an add-on deal, which would extend rather than upend the existing deal. In Paris last week, they asked Mr. Hook to guarantee that if they agreed to an extension, Mr. Trump would promise not to tear up the accord on some other pretext.

Mr. Hook, a Republican lawyer who is the State Department’s director of policy planning, said he would bring the request back to Washington. European diplomats said they worry that Mr. Trump’s scorn for the deal runs so deep that he would find other reasons to pull out. Last month, he warned that the accord “is under continuous review, and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time.”

Even if Mr. Trump did pledge to abide by the deal, it is far from clear that a successor deal would be endorsed by Russia or China, let alone the Iranians, who signaled in recent weeks that they are planning a new project — a fleet of nuclear-powered ships, fueled by Iranian-made reactors — that they say would justify resuming the production of nuclear fuel as the limits imposed by the deal expire over the next dozen years.

Still, the mere fact that the United States and Europe are trying to work out a compromise attests to the desire, on both sides, to find a solution that would satisfy Mr. Trump while not unraveling the deal.

The president’s national security team — Mr. Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster — has on three occasions talked him out of ripping up the deal. With each deadline to reimpose sanctions on Iran, that task gets harder.
Cadet Donny desperately wants to tear up this deal created by Obama so it will take a massive effort or at the least a palace coup to stop Cheeto Mussolini from his own Battle of Adowa.

Just be thankful you didn't get Eric


John Oliver smiles at Don Jr in India


Explaining something to the dumbest student in class


John Oliver on Arming Teachers


The real reason?



Sunday, February 25, 2018

America


Sol Heilo, formerly of Katzenjammer


The Devil is a master of disguise and takes on many forms.


From the pen of Jim Morin



This might be their best chance


As the Olympics ends, North Korea and South Korea go back to being two seperate countries with their own flags and governments. In spite of that old stick up his ass Pence it was a good time.
The 23rd Winter Olympics came to a festive close on Sunday, with athletes from the two Koreas marching into the cold stadium together, but wearing different uniforms and waving the flags of their own countries.

Although some athletes also carried flags showing a unified peninsula, the fact that so many were carrying distinct national flags was a pungent sign that the truce between North and South Korea that had marked these Olympic Games might already be dissipating.

The 22 North Korean athletes — as well as the hundreds of cheerleaders and security minders who accompanied them — will now depart for home across the heavily fortified border that divides the two nations.

But even before the closing ceremony began, the hiatus from the nuclear crisis that the Olympics had offered was clearly ending. On Friday, Mr. Trump announced harsh new sanctions against North Korea. And hours before the ceremony began on Sunday, a spokesman from the North’s Foreign Ministry described the sanctions as an act of war even as Mr. Moon met with the North Korean delegation Sunday afternoon.

After that meeting, and shortly after the Olympic ceremony began, the presidential palace said in a statement that North Korea had indicated it was willing to talk to the United States. But differences are wide, and only the coming weeks and months will show whether the Olympic diplomacy has had a lasting effect.

There were highlights aplenty. South Korea broke out in a frenzy over curling as its women’s team racked up one surprising win after another, all the way to a silver medal. Chloe Kim, 17, the Korean-American snowboarder, astonished judges and crowds with a near-perfect gold medal run on the halfpipe.

Esther Ledecka of the Czech Republic became the first woman to win a gold medal in two sports in a single Winter Games, while Yuzuru Hanyu, the men’s figure skating champion from Japan, returned after a four-month hiatus because of an ankle injury and captured his second consecutive Olympic gold medal. After a spine tingling shootout, the American women’s ice hockey team beat Canada to win the gold medal for the first time in two decades.

Norway dominated the medals table, collecting 39 over all, 14 of them gold. The United States won 23 medals, and South Korea 17.

North Korea never made it to the medal podium. The only athletes to qualify for the Olympics on merit, Ryom Tae-ok, 19, and Kim Ju-sik, 25, placed 13th in the pairs figure skating. All the other athletes in the North’s delegation placed last or near the bottom in their events.

And the unified Korean women’s ice hockey team, the only team to include North and South Korean athletes on its roster, lost all five of the games they played at the Olympics.

But perhaps the most important achievement of the Pyeongchang Games was that they were peaceful. In his speech at the closing ceremony, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, thanked the athletes from South Korea and North Korea.

“You have shown how sports bring people together in our very fragile world,” he said.
The possibilities of talks between the US and North Korea raise the specter of another international giveaway by the Great Orange Peckerhead. With a decimated State Department bereft of so much knowledge and experience and the World's Lousiest Negotiator overseeing any talks, this is probably the best time for Kim Jong Pudge to get any positive deal. And the Great Orange Peckerhead can always rely on his friend Putin to help.

Trust in God, Your Lawmakers Aren't Doing Shit


And God speaks to Stephen Colbert


His day will come, soon



Saturday, February 24, 2018

Domination


Band Maid


Back in the day, they were under the bed


From the pen of Jack Ohman



R.I.P. Ruby Nanette Bernadette Theresa Fabares


As Nanette Fabray you were a most accomplished actress, comedienne, singer and dancer, adept onstage and film and TV. They don't make them like you anymore.


Damn! Another Gag Clause


Sometimes that presription you pick up and use your insurance to pay for may cost less for cash than your insurance's co-pay. Your pharmacist can't tell you about this because of a clause in their contract with the drug middleman.
As consumers face rapidly rising drug costs, states across the country are moving to block “gag clauses” that prohibit pharmacists from telling customers that they could save money by paying cash for prescription drugs rather than using their health insurance.

Many pharmacists have expressed frustration about such provisions in their contracts with the powerful companies that manage drug benefits for insurers and employers. The clauses force the pharmacists to remain silent as, for example, a consumer pays $125 under her insurance plan for an influenza drug that would have cost $100 if purchased with cash.

Much of the difference often goes to the drug benefit managers.

Federal and state officials say they share the pharmacists’ concerns, and they have started taking action. At least five states have adopted laws to make sure pharmacists can inform patients about less costly ways to obtain their medicines, and at least a dozen others are considering legislation to prohibit gag clauses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said that after meeting recently with a group of pharmacists in her state, she was “outraged” to learn about the gag orders.

“I can’t tell you how frustrated these pharmacists were that they were unable to give that information to their customers, who they knew were struggling to pay a high co-pay,” Ms. Collins said.

Alex M. Azar II, the new secretary of health and human services, who was a top executive at the drugmaker Eli Lilly for nearly 10 years, echoed that concern. “That shouldn’t be happening,” he said.

Pharmacy benefit managers say they hold down costs for consumers by negotiating prices with drug manufacturers and retail drugstores, but their practices have come under intense scrutiny.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers said in a report this month that large pharmacy benefit managers “exercise undue market power” and generate “outsized profits for themselves.”

Steven F. Moore, whose family owns Condo Pharmacy in Plattsburgh, N.Y., said the restrictions on pharmacists’ ability to discuss prices with patients were “incredibly frustrating.”

Mr. Moore offered this example of how the pricing works: A consumer filling a prescription for a drug to treat diabetes or high blood pressure may owe $20 if he uses insurance coverage. By contrast, a consumer paying cash might have to pay $8 to $15.

Mark Merritt, the president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents benefit managers, said he agreed that consumers should pay the lower amount.

As for the use of gag clauses, he said: “It’s not condoned by the industry. We don’t defend it. It has occurred on rare occasions, but it’s an outlier practice that we oppose.”

However, Thomas E. Menighan, the chief executive of the American Pharmacists Association, said that such clauses were “not an outlier,” but instead a relatively common practice. Under many contracts, he said, “the pharmacist cannot volunteer the fact that a medicine is less expensive if you pay the cash price and we don’t run it through your health plan.”
Some states are passing new laws to fight back against this practice but so far on the federal level only Sen Susan Collins is talking about it and we know what good that does. And let's face it, if Congress did take up this issue they would probably ban states from preventing the practice.

We register sex offenders


Because they can continue to be a hazard to women and children but, thanks to the diligent efforts of America's biggest terrorist organization, there is no registry for the greatest threat in this country to those women and children.
Lawmakers convene next week under pressure to consider limits on the purchase of assault rifles. But as congressional aides on both sides of the debate scramble to draw up background reports and statistics on the issue for their bosses, they’ll run into a basic informational roadblock: No one has any idea how many assault rifles are in circulation.

That’s intentional. By law, the government isn’t allowed to gather that metric and put it in a modern, searchable electronic database.

“Those numbers don’t exist because there’s no national registry,” said Jan Kemp, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “Because by law, we are not allowed to have a national registry.”

The gun industry’s argument against a registry that tracks the sale of guns goes like this, according to former ATF agent Mark Jones: If the government kept a database on firearms sold, it would have a de facto registry of gun owners, and if that existed, then the government would be just a step away from being able to confiscate people’s guns.

“The gun industry says they’re afraid that the government will come and take their guns away,” Jones said.

Jennifer Baker, director of public affairs for the National Rifle Association, said the NRA is opposed to any sort of national gun registry, and said that knowing how many assault rifles are in circulation would be of no help to lawmakers considering legislation. (The NRA also has come out against raising the minimum age to buy an assault rifle to 21.)

“There’s no reason for the government to have a registry,” Baker said. “There’s no public safety reason for this other than having a roadmap to confiscating guns.”

The Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has heightened scrutiny of assault rifles. The killer used an AR-15 rifle, one of the most popular weapons in America both among general gun owners (the National Rifle Association calls it “America’s Most Popular Rifle”) and mass shooters (it has been used in 11 mass shootings since 2012, according to Stanford Geospatial Center, Stanford Libraries and USA Today research). AR-15 rifles and their cousins are special because although they are semi-automatic weapons and therefore only fire one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, they are known for being accurate and easy to modify with accessories such as extended magazines, to shoot hundreds of bullets without reloading, and bump stocks, to allow faster shooting.

Parkland student survivors have been calling for a ban on all assault weapons in the wake of the shooting, while President Donald Trump has voiced support for raising the minimum age to buy such weapons from 18 to 21. Trump said he has spoken with many members of Congress who support the increased age restriction.

The National Firearms Act forbids “any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established.” Several restrictions added to congressional appropriations bills also prohibit ATF from requiring gun dealers to submit their inventories to law enforcement. The effect is to prevent ATF from setting up a system that would allow electronic retrieval of gun owners’ personal identification information, and from consolidating or centralizing records provided by firearms dealers.

Practically, that means firearm dealers retain their own records on gun sales and only give that information to ATF when or if they go out of business. Once with ATF, the records must be stored in a non-electronic form that is not easily searchable – currently in a warehouse of paper files in Martinsburg, West Virginia. The ATF cannot request information, such as how many AR-15s have been sold that year, from firearms dealers, and searching their own paper database for that information is next to impossible.
But there is no need for the killers to worry, the Trump administration is currently dismantling the ATF so that even if they allowed to do anything, there won't be anyone in the office to do so. And it is probably just as well there is no count of the amount of weapons available, the number would probably make you sick.

Donald Trump Jr's Bollywood Movie Trailer


From The Late Show


Worried about the wrong kind of mass shooting


Trevor Noah on the Florida lagislative votes


Bloody Wayne





Friday, February 23, 2018

Sweetest Decline


Beth Orton


NRAman Rockwell update



Harden our schools


From the pen of Dave Granlund



When running for the Senate


Or any other influential political office, the NRA allows its running dogs greater leeway in talking about gun control than it normally does. Take for example, Florida Governor Rick Scott who is term limited, so he has chosen to run for the Senate. And following the Parkland Massacre it is politic to show some support for gun control.
Gov. Rick Scott and top state lawmakers proposed on Friday the most significant move toward gun control in Florida in decades, in defiance of the National Rifle Association, though some of their ideas fell short of what student advocates pleaded for after they lost 17 classmates and staff members last week in one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.

The governor, a Republican, backed raising the minimum age to buy any firearm, including semiautomatic rifles, to 21 from 18, a restriction opposed by the N.R.A., one of the most powerful special interest groups in Tallahassee. The minimum-age limit already exists for handguns, and it would have prevented Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old shooting suspect, from lawfully purchasing the AR-15 the police say he used to massacre 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

Mr. Scott’s plan, largely endorsed by House and Senate leaders, would not arm teachers, though lawmakers said their proposal would create a “marshal” plan to allow teachers who have had enough hours of training with law enforcement to be armed on campus.

Mr. Scott also said he would push to ban “bump stocks,” which enable semiautomatic rifles to fire faster, and would ask for $500 million for mental health and school safety programs, including requiring at least one armed police officer for every 1,000 students at public schools.

“I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun,” Mr. Scott said at a news conference unveiling his proposals. “I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun.”

The N.R.A. said on Thursday that it opposes the age restriction. President Trump said on Friday that he supports it, and Mr. Scott said he had not spoken to the N.R.A. about his proposals.

Mr. Scott, who is widely expected to run for a United States Senate seat this year, also broke with the president and the N.R.A. by not endorsing putting more armed personnel in schools, an idea fiercely opposed by the students from Stoneman Douglas High.

“I disagree with arming teachers,” Mr. Scott said. “My focus is on bringing in law enforcement. I think you need to have individuals who are trained, well trained.”
The governor can call for these steps knowing that his legislature will kill any steps that annoy the NRA. The only one that might pass is allowing trained teachers to carry into class if they qualify, one of the NRA's favorite stupid ideas. One thing is very clear, that nasty old fraud runner Rick Scott needs to be kept out of the Senate.

It looks much larger when he holds it


Stephen Colbert hears Trump and doubles down on the Orange Buffoon


If your willing to cap some fools...


Trevor Noah on the gun control debate


GOP Congress loves guns




Thursday, February 22, 2018

Crescent City


I'm With Her


When you make them grow up too fast


From the pen of Christopher Weyant




Following up on a previous post


We posted perviously on a truck dealership that was able to avoid costly pollution controls because they installed rebuilt engines that are exempt under a convenient loophole.The dealership was a benefactor of a local university that generated a favorable study on the pollution created. Now the the university is asking the federal government to ignore the study.
The president of a Tennessee state university, under fire for an academic study on truck emissions that was paid for by a local trucking company, has asked federal officials to disregard the study, at least for now, in its review of pollution regulations that could benefit the company.

In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, Philip B. Oldham, the president of Tennessee Technological University, warned that “experts within the university have questioned the methodology and accuracy” of the study, and that an investigation was being conducted into its findings.

The letter was dated Monday and sent to Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the E.P.A., as well as Representative Diane Black, Republican of Tennessee, who had pushed Mr. Pruitt and the E.P.A. to approve a change in regulations that would exempt certain heavy-duty trucks from a requirement to install modern emissions control systems.

One of the main beneficiaries of such a change would be Fitzgerald Glider Kits of Byrdstown, Tenn., the country’s largest manufacturer of so-called glider trucks, which are equipped with rebuilt engines that do not have modern emissions controls. The company paid for the study, and had offered to build a new research center for Tennessee Tech on land owned by the company.

The study, which concluded that pollution from glider trucks was no worse than from trucks with modern emissions controls, was cited by Mr. Pruitt when he announced in November he would make the regulatory change requested by Ms. Black. Last June, Mr. Oldham had signed a letter endorsing the study.

The Obama administration had moved to eliminate the exemption for the glider trucks, given the health threat associated with their emissions. The E.P.A., in its own analysis, estimated last year that gliders emitted nitrogen oxide levels during highway operations that were 43 times as high as those from trucks with modern emissions control systems.

The E.P.A., in a written statement Wednesday, said that Mr. Pruitt’s move to exempt the glider trucks was based on a legal determination that the agency did not have the authority to regulate them, not the findings of the Tennessee Tech study.

“E.P.A. did not rely upon the study or even quote directly from it,” the statement said, adding that the agency “only noted the existence of the study,” and its findings, when Mr. Pruitt moved to exempt the glider trucks.
So Dirty Little Pruitt has been forced to seek another excuse for allowing the filth to continue being spewed. Dirty Little Pruitt should be glad all people do is yell insults at him when he flys.

The Daily Show on the Parkland Massacre


Trevor Noah looks at what to do about guns



Trevor Noah examines the NRA smear campaign


What the GOP wants us to forget



Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Blues In My Heart


Duke Robillard with Catherine Russell


When Congress returns


From the pen of Monte Wolverton



Will his intel pipeline pay for his white elephant


As things stand right now, Jared Kushner is facing a $1.2 Billion mortgage maturity on a building he bought for top dollar just before the market collapsed. He is also the son-in-law of Cheeto Mussolini and has access to all the classified information he can ask for, despite lacking a security clearence.
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information, prompting an internal struggle with John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, over who should be allowed to see some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets, according to White House officials and others briefed on the matter.

Mr. Kushner is one of dozens of White House officials operating under interim security clearances because of issues raised by the F.B.I. during their background checks, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the clearances. The practice has drawn added scrutiny because of Rob Porter, the former staff secretary who resigned under pressure this month after domestic abuse allegations against him became public.

Mr. Porter’s post entailed handling and reviewing the flow of documents to and from the president, which routinely includes highly classified material. He had been allowed to continue in the job for more than a year with a stopgap clearance even though the F.B.I. had informed the White House of the damaging accusations against him.

Mr. Kushner’s clearance has afforded him access to closely guarded information, including the presidential daily brief, the intelligence summary Mr. Trump receives every day, but it has not been made permanent, and his background investigation is still pending after 13 months serving in Mr. Trump’s inner circle.

Now Mr. Kelly, his job at risk and his reputation as an enforcer of order and discipline tarnished by the scandal, is working to revamp the security clearance process, starting with an effort to strip officials who have interim clearances of their high-level access. In a memo issued on Friday, Mr. Kelly said he would revoke top clearances for anyone whose background check had been pending since June 1 or earlier, and review such clearances every month thereafter.

Mr. Kushner, frustrated about the security clearance issue and concerned that Mr. Kelly has targeted him personally with the directive, has told colleagues at the White House that he is reluctant to give up his high-level access, the officials said. In the talks, the officials say, Mr. Kushner has insisted that he maintain his current level of access, including the ability to review the daily intelligence briefing when he sees fit.

But Mr. Kelly, who has been privately dismissive of Mr. Kushner since taking the post of chief of staff but has rarely taken him on directly, has made no guarantees, saying only that the president’s son-in-law will still have all the access he needs to do his job under the new system.

“As I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio including overseeing our Israeli-Palestinian peace effort and serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico,” Mr. Kelly said in a statement the White House released on Tuesday in which he refused to address Mr. Kushner’s security clearance or elaborate on his memo.

“Everyone in the White House is grateful for these valuable contributions to furthering the president’s agenda,” Mr. Kelly said of Mr. Kushner. “There is no truth to any suggestion otherwise.”

It is unclear whether Mr. Kushner would need to review highly classified information. His current portfolio — which includes acting as an intermediary with Mexico, trying to forge Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, participating in an economic dialogue with China and working on revising the North American Free Trade Agreement — seems unlikely to involve major intelligence or national security secrets. But Mr. Kushner, by dint of his relationship with Mr. Trump, has wide-ranging access to the president and the information that he sees, and senior advisers to the president typically require such access to perform their duties.
As things stand now Kelly can beat Jared only one way, if Jared pays off the mortgage on 666 Fifth Ave or pays down enough to refinance, something so legitimate money source wants to do now. If the market for classified info is good enough he might get to keep his building.

Hallelujah! William Franklin Graham Jr. has gone to The Devil


Whatever you may think he did that was good, there is no way God would take someone who unleashed Franklin Graham upon the innocent.

The Kids are All Right!


And in just one week after the Parkland Massacre their rganizational reaction has been a wonder and a joy. While the first attempt to influence a gun control bill did not succeed, they are stirring the pot well and good now.
Seven days after the killing of 17 people at the Broward County school, Republicans, who dominate government in the state, are facing pressure unlike any they have experienced before to pass legislation addressing gun violence. The State Legislature is in session for roughly two more weeks, and Republicans have concluded that it would be catastrophic to wrap up without doing something to address the mounting outcry.

The debate now is over what counts as doing enough.

Republicans split — sharply, and sometimes face to face — with student demonstrators over that question on Wednesday morning. Having arrived in Tallahassee overnight, the young activists quickly set about advocating for sweeping new gun restrictions, included expanded background checks for gun purchases and an outright ban on the sale of military-style firearms. One student, Alondra Gittelson, 16, confronted the powerful speaker of the Florida House, Richard Corcoran, demanding to know why “such a destructive gun” — the AR-15 rifle — is widely accessible.

“How is an individual in society able to acquire such a gun?” Ms. Gittelson asked Mr. Corcoran on the House floor.

Mr. Corcoran’s reply, that he saw the rifle as a legitimate hunting weapon and did not believe a ban would help matters, encapsulated the far more conservative instincts of Florida’s Republican-controlled government.

Stopping well short of the clampdown sought by survivors of the school shooting, Mr. Corcoran, Gov. Rick Scott and other Republicans appear set on pursuing a narrower resolution — a package of incremental measures that would improve certain background checks and bolster mental health services and school security.

The developing clash over firearms could help define Florida politics in a critical election year, testing Republicans’ decades-old grip on state government and handing proponents of gun control a potent issue to wield with moderate voters. In a state where the National Rifle Association has long held powerful influence — every governor for 20 years has been an ally of the group — even fierce supporters of gun rights now say Republicans cannot afford to seem passive in response to gruesome scenes of violence.
Doing nothing is no longer an option so the fallback position is to nickle and dime the kids and their supporters with little laws that sound good and do nothing of substance. I don't think the kids will buy into that shit, but their parents are better trained.

Colbert on Parkland


And he gets serious about the students who are doing what the adults won't


The State of Trump's Affairs


Stephen brings us up to date


The kids can spot a fraud








Tuesday, February 20, 2018

As Time Goes By


Rickie Lee Jones & Madeleine Peyroux


Say his name or he won't listen


From the pen of Milt Priggee



If you aren't rich you will be fucked


After decades of nibbling and nibbling at the social safety net, the total Republican control of the government has allowed them to finish the job on some of the programs and make viable plans to eliminate the rest. And when the next recession hits there will be nothing left to catch you.
It is hardly premature to ask, in this light, how the Trump administration might manage the fallout from the economic downturn that everybody knows will happen. Unfortunately, the United States could hardly be less prepared.

Not only does the government have precious few tools at its disposal to combat a downturn. By slashing taxes while increasing spending, President Trump and his allies in Congress have further boxed the economy into a corner, reducing the space for emergency government action were it to be needed.

The federal debt burden is now the heaviest it has been in 70 years. And it is expected to get progressively heavier, as the budget deficit swells.

To top it off, a Republican president and a Republican Congress seem set on completing the longstanding Republican project to gut the safety net built by Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, which they blame for encouraging sloth, and replace it with a leaner welfare regime that closely ties government benefits to hard work.

As noted in a new set of proposals by leading academics to combat poverty, published Tuesday by the Russell Sage Foundation, anti-poverty policies and related social-welfare benefits over the last quarter-century “have largely shifted from a system of guaranteed income support to a work-based safety net.”

The economists Hilary Hoynes of the University of California, Berkeley, and Marianne Bitler of the University of California, Davis, pointed out in a recent paper that “the safety net for low-income families with children has transformed from one subsidizing out-of-work families into one subsidizing in-work families.”

And yet, as many unemployed Americans discovered the last time recession hit, government benefits that require recipients to hold a job become worthless when there is no work to be had.

Using a broad definition of income and poverty that includes the effects of the complete array of government tools to support low-income families, Professors Hoynes and Bitler concluded that food stamps were critical to stem poverty.

Had food stamps not been available, they estimated, the share of Americans under 65 living below the poverty line would have exceeded 11 percent in 2010, almost 1.5 percentage points more than was the case. The share of Americans in extreme poverty — with less than half the resources of the simply poor — would have exceeded 4 percent, about a third more than it turned out to be. Unemployment insurance had a roughly similar impact on poverty levels.

What is critical to note is that each of the two programs did more to relieve extreme poverty during the depths of the Great Recession than even the earned-income tax credit, the main source of government support for low-income Americans.

Indeed, expenditures per capita from the earned-income tax credit increased only modestly after the recession hit. And spending by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the patchwork of state-run programs that emerged from welfare reform in 1996 to replace the poor’s entitlement to federal cash assistance, did not respond to the recession at all.

This is a problem for vulnerable Americans bracing for the next economic shock, because if Mr. Trump and his colleagues in Congress have their way, the only surviving bit of the social safety net when the next recession hits will probably require beneficiaries to work. The earned-income tax credit is likely to survive unscathed. Food stamps are not.
But those core programs are going to be unfuned, eliminated or tied up in insurmountable requirements. If you don't have it, you ain't gonna get it. Please go off into a corner and die quietly.

Trump isn't the only corrupt national leader


John Oliver shows us Bugsy Netayahu and spouse.


Plenty more kids when we need them



Monday, February 19, 2018

Rock On Little Jane


The Mike + Ruthy Band


News From Another Universe


But as Tom Tomorrow shows us, the names may be very different, but the storylines always seem the same.

Pachyderm Pilate washes his hands


From the pen of Sean Delonas



When the drills and backpacks don't work


We mark our decline as a civilized nation by what steps we take after another commonplace shooting in the public arena. The latest, the Parkland Massacre, brings to Florida members of a support group for families of those gunned down by evil people clinging to their 2nd Amendment.
A child is shot to death. Maybe at school, maybe at the movies. It is all over TV, all over Twitter, just like the last mass shooting.

Then the cameras go away, and the parents are left in a wilderness of heartbreak. They do not know how to plan a funeral, where to get a therapist. They’re not aware that scammers will try to fund-raise off their grief, that conspiracy theorists will question their tragedy, or that — hard to believe — they might, eventually, be O.K.

But lots of people do know.

“When we had this happen to us, had our daughter slaughtered, we didn’t know what to do, or what was going to happen next,” said Sandy Phillips, whose 24-year-old daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was one of the 12 killed in the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. in 2012. “We didn’t want to live. It was horrific. And nobody else understood, except other survivors.”

So it is that Ms. Phillips and her husband, Lonnie Phillips, are raising money to travel to Parkland, Fla., where the Phillipses will quietly let the families of 17 of America’s latest victims of mass gun violence know that they are there to listen, to advise, to hug, to cry, and, perhaps, to recruit them to the ranks of the most committed gun-control activists in the country.

The mass shootings of recent years, the proliferation of grief from rural Oregon to the tip of Florida, have forced hundreds of family members into an unwanted fellowship. Veterans like the Phillipses serve as guides in the immediate aftermath, introducing the bereaved of Sandy Hook to those of San Bernardino and the parents of Virginia Tech to those of Roseburg, in a loose but growing network.

Some mourn in private. Some confront politicians, join gun-control groups and flock to rallies. But whether they turn to advocacy or not, many gravitate toward one another, checking on each other by Facebook or phone whenever another gunman strikes.

In a gun-control debate that often splinters along ideological lines, no one speaks more powerfully than those who survived a high-profile shooting, or the families of those who did not. The power of their testimonials goes beyond their authenticity: They, unlike politicians and advocates, can usually avoid the accusation that they are politicizing a tragedy.

Recognizing the emotional heft of such stories, groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety often make themselves available to survivors and victims’ families in the aftermath of mass shootings, sometimes even paying for them to travel to meet other survivors and advocates or to attend rallies, hearings and meetings with politicians. Everytown, the group founded and funded by the former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, runs a network of about 1,500 family members and shooting survivors who are trained in activism, including many who were affected not by mass shootings but by the smaller ones that occur daily.

They join a long tradition of families who have turned private heartbreak into public advocacy. There is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which has successfully shifted public awareness around drunken driving and pushed for tougher laws. There is John Walsh, who became a well-known anti-crime TV personality after his son was kidnapped and killed. There are the parents of people killed by undocumented immigrants, who have seen their campaign against illegal immigration taken up by President Trump.

The difference is that mass-shooting survivors have yet to win any major victories on the federal level. So they do what they can, hoping that when the next mass shooting happens, more people will take to their cause.
There is hope this time as the students are showing a fierce anger that hopefully will power something good. And they and others are not politicizing a tragedy, politics is the means to getting something done.

John Oliver on Parkland


And John calls Bullshit on one of Trump's Bullshit spinners


John Oliver on Trump's Foreign Policy


Or gross lack thereof


Happy President's Day


On this day we remember those men who filled the office with honor and dignity, unlike today.



Sunday, February 18, 2018

Anything Worth Saving


Chelsea Williams


The White House embraces their favorite winter sports


From the pen of Brian McFadden



Quote of the Day


This is about us begging for our lives; this isn’t about the GOP, this isn’t about the Democrats, this is about us creating a badge of shame for any politicians accepting money from the NRA and using us as collateral
- Cameron Kasky, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla

Most of the time we don't need him


But there are some times when the country needs an actual leader in the Oval Office. Someone who can assess and make the decisions needed to confront a foreign power that is interfering in the most basic process of your political system.
After more than a dozen Russians and three companies were indicted on Friday for interfering in the 2016 elections, President Trump’s first reaction was to claim personal vindication: “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!” he wrote on Twitter.

He voiced no concern that a foreign power had been trying for nearly four years to upend American democracy, much less resolve to stop it from continuing to do so this year.

The indictment secured by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, underscored the broader conclusion by the American government that Russia is engaged in a virtual war against the United States through 21st-century tools of disinformation and propaganda, a conclusion shared by the president’s own senior advisers and intelligence chiefs. But it is a war being fought on the American side without a commander in chief.

In 13 months in office, Mr. Trump has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow for its intrusion or to defend democratic institutions against continued disruption. His administration has at times called out Russia or taken action, and even Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, speaking in Germany on Saturday, called evidence of Russian meddling “incontrovertible.” But the administration has been left to respond without the president’s leadership.

“It is astonishing to me that a president of the United States would take this so lightly or see it purely through the prism of domestic partisanship,” said Daniel Fried, a career diplomat under presidents of both parties who is now at the Atlantic Council. He said it invariably raised questions about whether Mr. Trump had something to hide. “I have no evidence that he’s deliberately pulling his punches because he has to, but I can’t dismiss it. No president has raised those kinds of questions.”

Rather than condemn Russia for its actions, Mr. Trump in the past has said he accepts the denial offered by President Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Trump has not imposed new sanctions called for in a law passed by Congress last year to retaliate for the attack on America’s political system, or teamed up with European leaders to counter a common threat. He has not led a concerted effort to harden election systems in the United States with midterm congressional elections on the horizon, or pressed lawmakers to pass legislation addressing the situation.

Michael A. McFaul, an ambassador to Moscow under President Barack Obama, called Mr. Trump’s reaction to the indictments “shockingly weak” and said he should instead have criticized Mr. Putin for violating American sovereignty or even announced plans to punish Moscow.

“Instead, he just focused on his own campaign,” Mr. McFaul said. “America was attacked, and our commander in chief said nothing in response. He looks weak, not only in Moscow but throughout the world.”
Yes, he looks weak and perhaps the only one who knows how weak he really is lives in Moscow in a gilded palace that makes our Tangerine Shitgibbon look like a pauper. And maybe that is why Tangerine looks so much like one who has sold out his country.

Emma Gonzales



He's plainly a traitor


Bill Maher's monologue


New church in town



Saturday, February 17, 2018

See You Around


I'm With Her


Math is easy


From the pen of Daryl Cagle



His words have many meanings


From the pen of Kevin Siers



The Dirty Little Secret is Officially Out


And the chief beneficiary of that 'secret' who loudly and often proclaimed its non-existence is suddenly clammed up, quiet as a church mouse. Normally when an incursion upon our national sovereighty occurs, the president of record will make national statement about preventing it from happening again. Cheeto Mussolini has gone into hiding at Mar-A-Lago until his advisers can give him some kind of out strategy.
After more than a dozen Russians and three companies were indicted on Friday for interfering in the 2016 elections, President Trump’s first reaction was to claim personal vindication: “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!” he wrote on Twitter.

He voiced no concern that a foreign power had been trying for nearly four years to upend American democracy, much less resolve to stop it from continuing to do so this year.

The indictment secured by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, underscored the broader conclusion by the American government that Russia is engaged in a virtual war against the United States through 21st-century tools of disinformation and propaganda, a conclusion shared by the president’s own senior advisers and intelligence chiefs. But it is a war being fought on the American side without a commander in chief.

In 13 months in office, Mr. Trump has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow for its intrusion or to defend democratic institutions against continued disruption. His administration has at times called out Russia or taken action, and even Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, speaking in Germany on Saturday, called evidence of Russian meddling “incontrovertible.” But the administration has been left to respond without the president’s leadership.

“It is astonishing to me that a president of the United States would take this so lightly or see it purely through the prism of domestic partisanship,” said Daniel Fried, a career diplomat under presidents of both parties who is now at the Atlantic Council. He said it invariably raised questions about whether Mr. Trump had something to hide. “I have no evidence that he’s deliberately pulling his punches because he has to, but I can’t dismiss it. No president has raised those kinds of questions.”

Rather than condemn Russia for its actions, Mr. Trump in the past has said he accepts the denial offered by President Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Trump has not imposed new sanctions called for in a law passed by Congress last year to retaliate for the attack on America’s political system, or teamed up with European leaders to counter a common threat. He has not led a concerted effort to harden election systems in the United States with midterm congressional elections on the horizon, or pressed lawmakers to pass legislation addressing the situation.

Michael A. McFaul, an ambassador to Moscow under President Barack Obama, called Mr. Trump’s reaction to the indictments “shockingly weak” and said he should instead have criticized Mr. Putin for violating American sovereignty or even announced plans to punish Moscow.

“Instead, he just focused on his own campaign,” Mr. McFaul said. “America was attacked, and our commander in chief said nothing in response. He looks weak, not only in Moscow but throughout the world.”

The president’s silence has not necessarily stopped lower levels of his administration from responding to Russian actions, sometimes going further than Mr. Obama, who was also criticized for not doing enough to counter Moscow’s threat. The Trump administration has decided to send weapons to Ukraine so it can defend itself against Russian intervention, and recently imposed sanctions on more human rights violators. After Russia ordered the American Embassy in Moscow to shed most of its staff, the administration responded by ordering Russia to close its consulate in San Francisco and diplomatic annexes in New York and Washington.

Likewise, in just the past few days, the Trump administration formally blamed Russia for an expansive cyberattack last year called NotPetya and threatened unspecified “international consequences.” The nation’s intelligence agency directors, including those appointed by Mr. Trump, unanimously warned in congressional testimony that Russia was already meddling in this year’s midterm elections.

Mr. Trump’s own aides readily acknowledge the reality that he does not. Besides describing Russian interference as undeniable on Saturday, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, said Mr. Mueller’s charges made clear that Russia had been engaged in a “sophisticated form of espionage” against the United States.

“With the F.B.I. indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain,” he said.
Cheeto's involvement in all this has not been made clear yet, but he is the Chief-In Chief of the government so if this ends this current Russian spy ring then evidence or not he will have to be taken down with the rest.

He tunneled under the border


Bill Maher speaks with Vincente Fox


It don't come easy


Bill Maher New Rules


One idea that might work



Friday, February 16, 2018

One Heart


Leftover Cuties


The NRA Curriculum


From the pen of Jim Morin



The targets speak up


And they are not at all willing to accept useless thoughts and prayers. The students who lost 17 of their friends and classmates are not staying quiet after the Parkland Massacre.
“Blood is being spilled on the floors of American classrooms, and that is not acceptable,” ­David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., said Thursday in an interview.

“By working through bipartisanship and working through our differences . . . we can make an actual change. And who knows? Maybe we could save some children’s lives.”

In the familiar aftermath of America’s latest mass shooting, something new stood out: This time, the kids who survived the rampage on Wednesday were demanding to know why the adults who run the country had not done more to prevent it.

The comments came in an outpouring that began Wednesday and had not stopped by Thursday night. On Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook, they remembered peers and teachers and struggled with the emotion of the moment. Many students were interviewed on national TV, some for much of the day.

The pleas for action from Parkland struck a sharp contrast with the almost nonexistent ­debate on Capitol Hill over ­preventing gun violence. Calls to ban the semi­automatic weapon used by the shooter were considered a non-starter in a Republican-controlled Congress where lawmakers are heavily influenced by the National Rifle Association. Funding for new mental health services — one idea raised by some Republicans — would test conservative lawmakers’ commitment to cutting social spending.

A push to restrict “bump stocks,” the device that was used to accelerate gunfire during the massacre at a music festival in Las Vegas in October, seemed like it might succeed last fall with backing from the National Rifle Association. But momentum slipped within a few weeks. At the same time, the Trump administration and congressional Republicans sought ways to loosen existing restrictions on guns.

Students in Parkland called leaders’ lack of action inexcusable, pointing specifically to the age of the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, 19.

“How are we allowed to buy guns at the age of 18 or 19? That’s something we shouldn’t be able to do,” Lyliah Skinner, who survived the shooting, told CNN.

Guillermo Bogan, who is home-schooled but has friends at Douglas High, said the alleged shooter’s age shows the selfishness of the gun industry.

“Some people will just do anything for a dollar,” Bogan said at a midday vigil for the victims. “There should be a background check — are you mentally ill or are you not mentally ill? And clearly he was mentally ill.”

Some students had harsh words for President Trump, who committed to tackling “the difficult issue of mental health” in an address to the nation that did not mention further gun restrictions.

Speaking to CNN, Douglas High student Isabella Gomez singled out Trump’s remark that students needing help should “turn to a teacher, a family member.”

“What could our teachers do in that situation, rather than save themselves, just as we were?” Gomez said. “I feel like he really needs to take into consideration all this gun control.”
As someone said, asking Trump to do anything about gun control is like asking a rock to take a hike with you. But if these students stay active, many will be able to vote in 2020.

If they do nothing, vote them out of office


Jimmy Kimmel on the Parkland Massacre


A Trumpoon suffers from his own vote


The Daily Show


From 4 years ago



Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Comeback Kid


Lindi Ortega


NRA wins again


From the pen of Kevin Siers




























From the pen of Bill Schorr



Trump's Inaugural Committee Raised $107 Million


And the tax return for the committee indicates that roughly a quarter was spent on the company that organized the whole thing, a large chunk was spent on bloated salaries for the committee and staff and the requisite bling and fully $26 Million was paid to a company created in Dec 2016 and run by an adviser to Melania Trump.
President Trump’s inaugural committee paid nearly $26 million to an event planning firm started by an adviser to the first lady, Melania Trump, while donating $5 million — less than expected — to charity, according to tax filings released on Thursday.

The nonprofit group that oversaw Mr. Trump’s inauguration and surrounding events in January 2017, the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, had been under pressure from liberal government watchdog groups to reveal how it spent the record $107 million it had raised from wealthy donors and corporations.

Its chairman, Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a longtime friend of Mr. Trump, had pledged that the committee would be thrifty with its spending, and would donate leftover funds to charity.

But the mandatory tax return it filed with the Internal Revenue Service indicates that the group’s charitable donations included only an already publicized $3 million for hurricane relief, plus a total of $1.75 million to groups involved in decorating and maintaining the White House and the vice president’s residence.

The 116-page filing indicates that the overwhelming majority of the funds went toward expenses related to the inauguration, with the biggest share — nearly $51 million — split roughly evenly between two companies.

One of the companies, WIS Media Partners of Marina del Rey, California, was created by a longtime friend of Mrs. Trump, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, according to a person familiar with the firm. Records show that the firm was created in December 2016, but otherwise there is very little information available about it.

Ms. Winston Wolkoff made her name planning Manhattan society galas and has subsequently been brought on as a senior adviser to the first lady’s official government office.

Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump, said that the first lady “had no involvement” with the inaugural committee, “and had no knowledge of how funds were spent.”

Ms. Winston Wolkoff is not paid for her work in the first lady’s office, according to Ms. Grisham, who said Ms. Winston Wolkoff is classified as “a special government employee.”

Much of the money paid to Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm and other event production companies likely was passed through to other vendors who provided goods or services on a subcontractor basis.

Ms. Winston Wolkoff personally received $1.62 million for her work, according to one official from the inaugural committee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the details publicly. The official said that Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm paid the team used by Mark Burnett, the creator of “The Apprentice,” whose involvement in the inaugural festivities was requested by Mr. Trump.
In the event that any planning was done, it is nice that they left a residue for charity when they were finished.

If you pay the right politician


You can keep the loophole that allows you to sell trucks with filthy polluting rebuilt engines for less than those with newer cleaner engines.
But there is something unusual about the big rigs sold by the Fitzgeralds: They are equipped with rebuilt diesel engines that do not need to comply with rules on modern emissions controls. That makes them cheaper to operate, but means that they spew 40 to 55 times the air pollution of other new trucks, according to federal estimates, including toxins blamed for asthma, lung cancer and a range of other ailments.

The special treatment for the Fitzgerald trucks is made possible by a loophole in federal law that the Obama administration tried to close, and the Trump administration is now championing. The trucks, originally intended as a way to reuse a relatively new engine and other parts after an accident, became attractive for their ability to evade modern emissions standards and other regulations.

The survival of this loophole is a story of money, politics and suspected academic misconduct, according to interviews and government and private documents, and has been facilitated by Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has staked out positions in environmental fights that benefit the Trump administration’s corporate backers.

The loophole has been condemned in recent weeks by an array of businesses and environmentalists: major truck makers like Volvo and Navistar; fleet owners like the United Parcel Service; lobbying powerhouses like the National Association of Manufacturers; health and environmental groups like the American Lung Association and the Consumer Federation of America; and some Fitzgerald competitors in Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt’s home state.

“This just does not make any sense to me,” said Christine Todd Whitman, who served as head of the E.P.A. during the first George W. Bush administration. “Everybody breathes the same air, Democrats or Republicans. It does not matter. This is about keeping people healthy.”

But the Fitzgerald family has had influential allies. In addition to Mr. Pruitt, they include Representative Diane Black, a Republican who is a candidate for Tennessee governor, and Tennessee Technological University, a state university that produced a study minimizing pollution problems associated with the trucks.

Ms. Black introduced legislation in 2015 to protect the loophole when it was first in line to be eliminated by a stricter diesel emissions rule under the Obama administration. That bill failed, but after the election of Mr. Trump, she turned to Mr. Pruitt to carve out an exemption to the new rule — scheduled to take effect last month — and presented him with the study from Tennessee Tech.

Fitzgerald had not only paid for the study, which has roiled the faculty at Tennessee Tech and is the subject of an internal investigation, but it had also offered to build a new research center for the university on land owned by the company. And in the six weeks before Mr. Pruitt announced in November that he would grant the exemption, Fitzgerald business entities, executives and family members contributed at least $225,000 to Ms. Black’s campaign for governor, campaign disclosure records show.

The multiple donors allowed the company to circumvent a Tennessee state law intended to limit the size of campaign contributions by corporations and political action committees. The donations — many of which came through a series of limited liability companies tied to the family — represented 12 percent of the money Ms. Black had raised from outside sources through last month, the records show.

Tommy Fitzgerald, an owner of Fitzgerald, said the actions by Ms. Black and Mr. Pruitt were good public policy and not special favors to his company.
It is said that you have to spend money to make money but you also need people shameless enough to do what you want in return. But just don't think of it as bribery.

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