Friday, November 30, 2018

Got Your Number


Serena Ryder


Pocket Lint


From the pen of Kevin Siers



The Biggest, Most Beautiful Gut


From the pen of Jim Morin



One more chance to start turning Georgia blue


One election battle in Georgi
a is still undecided and headed for a runoff, the Secretary of State. A Democratic victory for that office could do much to put Georgia on the road back to honest and fair elections.
Election Day was three weeks in the past, and Kenneth Royal, a 37-year-old salesman who supported Stacey Abrams for governor, could have spent the chilly Wednesday evening at home, putting politics out of his mind.

Instead, Mr. Royal, stung by Ms. Abrams’s narrow defeat, was manning a phone bank, trying to persuade fellow Democrats that the runoff election next week for Georgia secretary of state was not some obscure postscript, but a crucial battle over minority voting rights.

The issue of whether the state’s elections are managed fairly grabbed hold of Georgia in the midterms, and has not let go. Brian Kemp, the Republican who ran for governor while still serving as secretary of state, oversaw voting roll purges, registration suspensions, and an Election Day rife with problems — all of which, critics said, were meant to suppress minority voting.

Like many Democrats around the country, Mr. Royal believes that those tactics worked, and essentially cheated Ms. Abrams out of victory in an excruciatingly close race. And he sees the coming race for secretary of state as a way to set some things right.

“Was it stolen? I think it was,” Mr. Royal said of the election. “What I’m thankful for is that we’ve been able to shed light on what’s been going on for a long time.”

Mr. Kemp and other Republicans brush aside such views as the complaints of sore losers, and say their policies protect the integrity of elections. Mr. Kemp will be sworn into office in January.

Democrats preparing for the runoff, meanwhile, may find it difficult to rekindle the passion that animated Georgian voters for the general election on Nov. 6, when some 3.9 million ballots were cast.

Even so, the party hopes to add Georgia to a string of victories in secretary of state contests this year, including three states — Arizona, Colorado and Michigan — where Democrats flipped control of the office, with promises to expand the franchise and protect voter rights.

Democrats regard those gains as crucial to their broader effort to reverse what they see as an erosion of voting rights across the country at the hands of Republicans.

When Ms. Abrams finally acknowledged that Mr. Kemp had won, she said Georgia had suffered an “erosion of democracy” under Mr. Kemp.

That same day, she said that she would work to support Mr. Barrow in the secretary of state runoff, calling him “a man of principle and good will who will administer his responsibilities for the people — not his party.”

Since then, she has raised money for Mr. Barrow and recorded a radio ad for him. “I won’t stop until we guarantee a fair fight for future elections,” she says in the ad. “The other side thinks we’ve given up — that because I didn’t win, we won’t come back out. Let’s prove them wrong.”
It is fun to imagine what the results would be if everybody registered was able to quickly and easily cast an honest and verifiable vote but Democrats need to win the runoff first so, Let's Go Georgia!!. Get out one more vote!

The helicopter excuse


Trevor Noah


In his own word salad


Stephen Colbert


1 in 4 is a failure




Thursday, November 29, 2018

No Roots


Alice Merton


Poor defense


From the pen of Christopher Weyant



Thanks Don


From the pen of Kevin Siers



A handshake deal


From the pen of Milt Priggee



Another step to weaken our military


Perhaps it is on Vladimir Putin's orders or maybe it is Trump's jealousy of men and women who have the courage he lacks. Or simply because he is astonishingly incompetent. Whatever reason, under Trump's aegis another step has been taken to defer the military's readiness for the future.
Camp Lejeune’s 55,000 shiny solar panels, like other renewable energy projects on military bases across the country, are on the front lines of a plan to provide backup power in case terrorists, cyber saboteurs or violent weather cripple the nation’s electric grid.

But President Donald Trump has all but eradicated the words “renewable energy” from the agenda and, according to two former Pentagon officials, slowed progress toward upgrading emergency electricity supplies at bases like Camp Lejeune.

Now it’s no longer clear that the Pentagon will make use of all of the solar farms installed both to combat global warming and to enhance national security at U.S. installations here and abroad.

McClatchy gathered data on more than 70 bases that have partnered with electric utilities in solar energy projects that were part of an effort toward replacing decades-old backup systems relying on costly and sometimes unreliable diesel generators.

Only a couple of dozen bases, mainly small ones, have so far incorporated their solar projects into new, computer-commanded configurations known as “microgrids,” as experts recommend. Microgrids blend and distribute energy from multiple resources to provide reliable emergency power at less cost.

A microgrid could include large-scale battery storage and any of a range of options, including solar, natural gas, diesel generators, biomass, wind turbines, geothermal, hydrogen-based fuel cells and even small-module nuclear reactors. If any of these sources failed or needs replenishing, the computer program would instantly switch to another.

“I am concerned, and I am frustrated,” said Dennis McGinn, a retired admiral who as an assistant Navy secretary managed both that service’s and many of the Marine Corps’ energy needs during Obama’s second term. Progress, he said, “has slowed down,” even while private-sector technology is leaping ahead.

After Hurricane Florence’s tropical winds and days-long deluge hammered Camp Lejeune last month, knocking out power for days, the rows of solar panels installed by Duke Energy were useless. On a normal day, they feed Duke’s other customers in and around Jacksonville, N.C. Three years after its activation, the system was not yet fully wired so its electricity could be redirected to the base during an emergency.

As a precaution a few days before Florence hit, Duke turned off the solar project that converts photons in the sun’s rays to electricity, in case flooding or other conditions might make it a safety hazard, company spokesman Randy Wheeless said.

Lejeune and the nearby Marine Air Station at Cherry Point, N.C.. relied on their diesel generators to ride out days of post-Florence power outages.

The rising risks to the U.S. electric grid in recent years have awakened the Pentagon to the possibility that a lengthy outage could paralyze military bases if their backup diesel generators, most of which experts say are poorly maintained, perform poorly.

The cyber threat is now so great that federal agencies must contend with tens of thousands of incidents each year. Last March, a government alert revealed the FBI and Department of Homeland Security had detected that “Russian government cyber actors” had gained “remote access” to U.S. energy sector networks.

“What the Army has recognized is that there is an increasing possibility of a longer event,” said Executive Director Michael McGhee of the Army Office of Energy Initiatives. “There is now sophistication among people who want to do harm to the power grid.”

Further, the catastrophic damage from Hurricanes Sandy, Harvey, Florence and Michael on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts since 2012 could be a harbinger of worse onslaughts to come. Scientists warn that seas warming from climate change will produce ever stronger hurricanes in the years ahead.
So the initiatives begun by the military to protect and preserve the power necessary for its systems are given short shrift by a buffoon who wants to go back to coal for their needs. Orange Julius sure as hell ain't no Caesar.

Trump and more Trump


Trevor Noah


You can Buy his love


Seth Meyers on Trump loyalty


Mueller Claus is coming to town


Stephen Colbert


Lock Who Up ?



Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Rolling Thunder


The Watson Twins


Breathe you In My Dreams


Trixie Whitley


2nd Amendment not made for black folks


Trevor Noah


Pie-In-The-Eye Statements


From the pen of Tom Toles



He never read it


From the pen of Jim Morin



Not Just forest floors need raking


From the pen of Jack Ohman



New factories or similar


Trevor Noah on Trump's standard promises.


It's about time



Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Down Home Girl


Rainbow Girls


A 'Great' Mind at Work


Thanks to the brilliance of Tom Tomorrow


Monday, November 26, 2018

Lover, Lover, Lover


Jenn Grant


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Through Your Eyes


Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folks


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Hometown


Haley Bonar


Friday, November 23, 2018

Two Cold Nights In Buffalo


Courtney Marie Andrews


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Alice's Restaurant


Arlo

OK it's Thanksgiving Day you should be eating, family talking or watching football. If you must be online, here is the classic trash tale.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sweet Troubled Man


Jill Andrews


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Blue Bayou


Linda Ronstadt


Monday, November 19, 2018

Detourist


Upstate Rubdown


What to get the kid for Xmas


If your kid deserves a lump of coal but you don't like the optics of it, Tom Tomorrow has the perfect gift to give the little darling.

Not a good idea


From the pen of John Cole



History repeats itself


From the pen of David Fitzsimmons



To prove their ignorance is valid


An increasing number of parents are exposing their children to dangerous diseases previously brought under control by vaccines, by refusing those vaccines for their children. And now, in a school where parents claim their god is too stupid or too cruel to allow vaccination, chicken pox has rerached epidemic proportions.
Chickenpox has taken hold of a school in North Carolina where many families claim religious exemption from vaccines.

Cases of chickenpox have been multiplying at the Asheville Waldorf School, which serves children from nursery school to sixth grade in Asheville, N.C. About a dozen infections grew to 28 at the beginning of the month. By Friday, there were 36, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.

The outbreak ranks as the state’s worst since the chickenpox vaccine became available more than 20 years ago. Since then, the two-dose course has succeeded in limiting the highly contagious disease that once affected 90 percent of Americans — a public health breakthrough.

The school is a symbol of the small but strong movement against the most effective means of preventing the spread of infectious diseases. The percentage of children under 2 years old who haven’t received any vaccinations has quadrupled since 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Like the Disneyland measles outbreak in 2015, the flare-up demonstrates the real-life consequences of a shadowy debate fueled by junk science and fomented by the same sort of Twitter bots and trolls that spread misinformation during the 2016 presidential election. And it shows how a seemingly fringe view can gain currency in a place like Asheville, a funky, year-round resort town nestled between the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.

“The school follows immunization requirements put in place by the state board of education, but also recognizes that a parent’s decision to immunize their children happens before they enter school,” the school explained in a statement to Blue Ridge Public Radio.

Jennifer Mullendore, the medical director of Buncombe County, N.C., was unambiguous: “We want to be clear: Vaccination is the best protection from chickenpox.”

“When we see high numbers of unimmunized children and adults, we know that an illness like chickenpox can spread easily throughout the community — into our playgrounds, grocery stores, and sports teams,” she said in a news release.

But not all parents seemed to grasp the gravity of the outbreak. Nor does everyone see the rationale behind vaccines, which some believe — contrary to scientific evidence — cause more severe health issues than they’re meant to cure. The claim of an autism risk, though it has been debunked, has remained a rallying cry of the anti-vaccine movement.

Chickenpox is serious, warns the CDC, “even life-threatening, especially in babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.”
What most people see as a relatively benign childhood disease can have serious consequences with adults. Shingles is a common adult reprise of the disease and while there is a vaccination for shingles, well you know. What is less well known is that chickenpox can occur in adults who did not have the disease or the vaccination in a much more serious, and potentially fatal form. Getting the vaccination does more than just protect your idiot spawn.

People just like it


John Oliver illumintes the threat


Tin Pot Trump



Sunday, November 18, 2018

Slung-Lo


Erin McKeown


Mitch clarifies


From the pen of Tom Toles



Bear with him


From the pen of Rob Rogers



Just Oozing Empathy


From the pen of Ed Wexler



Coming Attraction



Voter Fraud


Kate McKinnon opens SNL


New religion







Saturday, November 17, 2018

Share The Moon


Indigo Girls


Image vs Reality


From the pen of John Cole



The New Decorum


From the pen of Monte Wolverton



Cadet Bone Spurs not fit for command


The Constitution places the President as the civilian Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces. Thanks to the creeping militarization of the government since Vietnam, some presidents think they are snappy military geniuses because of the title.
He canceled a trip to a cemetery in France where American soldiers from World War I are buried. He did not go to the observance at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day. He has not visited American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan.

And shortly after becoming commander in chief, President Trump asked so few questions in a briefing at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., that top military commanders cut the number of prepared PowerPoint slides to three — they had initially planned 18 — said two officials with knowledge of the visit.

The commanders had slotted two hours for the meeting, but it lasted less than one.

Rhetorically, Mr. Trump has embraced the United States’ 1.3 million active-duty troops as “my military” and “my generals” and has posted on Twitter that under his leadership, the American armed forces will be “the finest that our Country has ever had.” But top Defense Department officials say that Mr. Trump has not fully grasped the role of the troops he commands, nor the responsibility that he has to lead them and protect them from politics.

“There was the belief that over time, he would better understand, but I don’t know that that’s the case,” said Col. David Lapan, a retired Marine who served in the Trump administration in 2017 as a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. “I don’t think that he understands the proper use and role of the military and what we can, and can’t, do.”

On Wednesday, it was Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who visited American troops on the border with Mexico in the latest military deployment under Mr. Trump’s watch. Mr. Mattis traveled to Base Camp Donna in Texas, where he met with troops who have been webbing concertina wire to keep out an approaching caravan of migrants the president has likened to an “invasion.”

Pentagon officials have privately derided the deployment of nearly 6,000 active-duty troops as a morale killer and an expensive waste of time and resources, put in motion by a commander in chief determined to get his supporters to the polls. The troops, who are providing only logistical support, will be there until Dec. 15.

“It’s always better to come down and see it for real,” Mr. Mattis said in talking with troops.

Like two recent former presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Mr. Trump came to office without having served in the military. Former President George W. Bush served in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War but never left the country, and questions were raised about how often he reported for duty. All three had complicated relationships with the armed forces.

Mr. Trump has also not made special trips to seek out deployed troops elsewhere, as his predecessors did. President George Bush was a lame-duck president, three weeks away from Mr. Clinton’s inauguration, when he traveled on New Year’s Day 1993 to shake hands with troops deployed to Somalia.

Mr. Trump has also appeared to avoid responsibility as commander in chief when a Navy SEAL, William “Ryan” Owens, a chief warfare special operator, was killed last year in Yemen.

The president seemed to blame his generals for the death, in a mission that he had authorized, when he told Fox News that military commanders “came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected.”

The president continued: “And they lost Ryan.”

Mr. Trump’s aides said that he was so personally distraught knowing that the SEAL had died under his command that he flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for the return of the body — something presidents generally have not done for a single death.

But last weekend in France, Mr. Trump skipped a visit to a cemetery of American World War I soldiers killed during the Battle of Belleau Wood because, Mr. Trump said this week in a tweet, rain grounded his helicopter and the Secret Service told him driving was too disruptive to traffic. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and John F. Kelly, the Marine general turned White House chief of staff, went instead.

His decision days before the midterm elections to send troops to respond to what he insisted was a crisis at the southwestern border remains of deep concern to Defense Department officials. He has taken an unusually keen interest in the issue — so much so, military officials said, that Mr. Trump has repeatedly called Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, the head of the Pentagon’s Northern Command who oversees operations on the nation’s borders, for updates over the past few weeks.
The military, as with other presidents, makes a useful backdrop for political posturing, but Donny has no sense of politcal imaging. Blowing off the cemetary visit just wasn't in the cards because there was no one to cheer him. Normally it would be frightening to see the military without civilian oversight. But when that civilian has the emotional temperment of a child, maybe it is best, for now.

Like God complaining about being bullied


Trevor Noah on the New House


Twins



Friday, November 16, 2018

The Kind You Can't Afford


Madeleine Peyroux


Weapon of Choice


From the pen of Jim Morin



When you cut taxes


Dave Granlund



Every Good Boy Needs A Slush Fund


And in the world of politics that fund is often referred to as a Leadership PAC. And various watchdog groups are going to present the Federal Election Commission with a wealth of examples of the slushy part of PACs in hope of getting them regulated like regular campaign funds.
Sen. Johnny Isakson used political contributions for nearly $60,000 worth of events at an Oregon golf club.

Rep. Pete Sessions paid football’s Dallas Cowboys nearly $27,000 for a political event.

And Sen. Rand Paul spent more than $4,000 in political contributions when he visited London.

Watchdog groups and five former members of Congress will cite those cases and similar spending Friday as the Federal Election Commission closes a 60-day public comment period. The FEC is reviewing whether to tighten the rules for leadership PACs that critics say some lawmakers use for personal perks.

The commission for the first time is seriously considering banning members of Congress from using political contributions for personal matters.

The watchdogs found Isakson’s leadership PAC, 21st Century Majority Fund, spent $59,145 for “PAC events” at the Bandon Dunes golf club in Bandon, Oregon, in June, July and September 2018, yet 26.7 percent of the Georgia Republican’s leadership PAC spending in the 2018 cycle went to contributions.

Isakson’s office did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Sessions’ leadership PAC, PETE PAC, spent $36,337 at a St. Regis resort in Deer Valley, Utah in May 2018 — more than three times the $10,263 in receipts PETE PAC took in that month.

It also paid the Dallas Cowboys $27,000 for a “PAC event” in August 2018, while 33.6 percent of the PAC’s overall spending in the 2018 cycle went towards contributions. Sessions, a Texas Republican, lost his bid for re-election last week. His office did not return phone calls seeking comment.

In September, Paul’s RANDPAC or Reinventing a New Direction, spent more than $4,000 on meals, transportation, including $353 for “travel” paid to Historic Royal Palaces, which the report says manages the tourist destination the Tower of London, and $889 to the Mirror Room, which it described as an upscale hotel restaurant.

It said it found “no discernible connection between Sen. Paul’s spending in London and any officeholder duties or candidate expenses” and no evidence that the London trip was a fundraiser. It noted that 14 percent of RANDPAC’s spending in the 2018 cycle went toward contributions.

Paul’s office said the expenses were related to fundraisers that the Kentucky Republican held in London. The campaign provided McClatchy with copies of invites to London fundraising events.

“This is the definition of fake news, as we have said over and over that these were fundraising expenses for multiple events with dozens of donors that made nearly $80,000 for RANDPAC,” Paul spokeswoman Kelsey Cooper said. “Every charity and political cause has fundraising expenses and to characterize them as anything else is a total lie.”

The FEC’s initiative to curb such spending was spurred by a July report from the watchdog groups that allege that a number of office holders and candidates routinely use fundraising for leadership political action committees to pay for golf outings, sports events and expensive dinners. Paul’s spending at restaurants in Italy and Malta in 2017 was mentioned in the July report.

Since its initial report, the spending has continued, said Brendan Fischer, director of the federal reform program at the Campaign Legal Center.

“This speaks to the importance of the FEC clarifying the rule,” Fischer said. “In the absence of guidance from the FEC, lawmakers feel they have the freedom to use leadership PACs as slush funds.”

Many members of Congress typically have two fundraising accounts: A campaign account and what is known as a leadership PAC. There is already a personal use ban on campaign accounts, but there is no stated ban on personal spending from leadership PACs.

If the FEC sides with the watchdogs, it would treat leadership PAC spending as similar to campaign account spending, meaning increased scrutiny of leadership PAC expenses.

Leadership PACs were first permitted in 1978 to allow members of Congress to donate money to other political campaigns and help them attain leadership positions. Campaign Legal Center and Issue One, the nonpartisan watchdog agencies, found candidates only used an average of 45 percent of leadership PAC funds for that purpose over the last three election cycles.

In a draft of its letter to the FEC, obtained by McClatchy, the groups say that between April 1 and Sept. 30, leadership PACs spent at least $124,162 at the luxury Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, $160,809 at St. Regis resorts, $53,165 at Ritz-Carlton hotels, $46,121 at the Charlie Palmer Steak restaurant near the U.S. Capitol and $19,760 at Disney properties.
Changing the campaign funding rules this way would be a real kick in the lifestyle nuts of some Congress critters. And it would force them to do some work and find a new way to enjoy a financial slushy.

Trump's hiking the Tallahassee Trail


Seth Meyers takes a Closer Look


Florida, the Florida of States


Trevor Noah on Florida's Great Failure


Bert & Ernie ?


Stephen Colbert on the level of Trump insanity


The rich don't share



Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cactus Tree


Joni Mitchell


The value of the NRA


From the pen of Pat Bagley



Excretes shit from both ends


From the pen of John Cole



Sex Above All Else


When a Category 4 hurricane comes blowing through your neighborhood if you are like most people you won't be there and if you are you are hunkered down somewhere hopefully safe. The spotted seatrout laughs at you, he came for the sex.
On Aug. 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall about 5 miles east of Rockport, Tex. The category 4 storm had an eye wider than the length of Manhattan, wind gusts up to 145 miles per hour and a 10 foot storm surge. The catastrophic storm resulted in at least 103 deaths in the United States.

But amid this destruction, one thing seemed to weather the storm quite well — spotted seatrout, which were busy making babies as the eye of the hurricane passed over their spawning grounds.

“Their urge to reproduce, or that inclination, is so strong that not even a hurricane can stop them,” Christopher Biggs, a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin and first author of the study, said.

Mr. Biggs and his colleagues reported their discovery, which was based on underwater audio recordings, last week in Biology Letters. The resilience of these fish suggests that they and their relatives, popular for recreational fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, may cope surprisingly well with increases in human activity and other temporary disturbances.

To see if the species could reproduce well enough to keep up with recreational fishers, Mr. Biggs and Brad Erisman, a marine biologist and lead author of the study, have been monitoring spotted seatrout reproduction.

Their team has been looking at spawning: when fish cast eggs and sperm into the water that meet, fertilize and develop into a new population, if all goes well. The team wants to know when the fish start, how long they go and how temperature and saltiness, which fluctuate in the estuary near Port Aransas, Tex., might affect their behavior in different locations.

But because the water is murky, they can’t just dive in and look. Instead, they rely on these fish’s unusual audible mating calls. In this species, as well as other drum fish named for their sounds, the males cry out in grunts and pulses during spawning. An individual sounds like a panther standing behind a trickling stream of water. And when many call together, they can evoke a chorus of chain saws.

When news of Harvey’s strength and direction was announced, Mr. Biggs was at a conference in Florida. He raced home to Texas and took a boat out to retrieve his recorders. He recovered about half before he had to evacuate, and the storm took most of the rest.

Audio analysis of the six months of rescued recordings revealed some surprises. First, despite previous work suggesting spawning coincided with changes in the moon, their survey showed the fish population spawned daily.

And then the two recorders that survived the hurricane yielded another unexpected finding.

At first, the researchers thought the storm’s noise was too loud to hear anything. But when it calmed, they heard the fish spawning — the day before the storm, in its eye and the day after.

“That was completely surprising when you consider the total destruction on land,” he said.

Following the hurricane, the fish began spawning earlier in the day, possibly cued in part by temperature changes in the water.

“You would think if they felt their environment getting that disrupted, they would just go somewhere else, but yet they were still hunkered down right in the same spots that they had been before,” Mr. Biggs said.

Whether they stopped during the worst of it and restarted in the calm, however, we may never know.
And the Christopher Walken fanfish was heard calling for more cowbell.

Donny's Bad Days


Seth Meyers takes a Closer Look


Time Travel & Bigfoot Man


Stephen Colbert - Here we go & Here we are


Good Boy!



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Happy Pills


Norah Jones


Competition


From the pen of Jim Morin



The Odd Wizard


From the pen of Kevin Siers



The Pride of Texas



When hospitals merge


They always make big noises about how much it will help the patients reveive better care and services. In fact, recent studies are showing that the only ones helped are hospital management and owners who get to raise prices to suit their bonuses. There is little or no benefit to patients.
The nation’s hospitals have been merging at a rapid pace for a decade, forming powerful organizations that influence nearly every health care decision consumers make.

The hospitals have argued that consolidation benefits consumers with cheaper prices from coordinated services and other savings.

But an analysis conducted for The New York Times shows the opposite to be true in many cases. The mergers have essentially banished competition and raised prices for hospital admissions in most cases, according to an examination of 25 metropolitan areas with the highest rate of consolidation from 2010 through 2013, a peak period for mergers.

The analysis showed that the price of an average hospital stay soared, with prices in most areas going up between 11 percent and 54 percent in the years afterward, according to researchers from the Nicholas C. Petris Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

The new research confirms growing skepticism among consumer health groups and lawmakers about the enormous clout of the hospital groups. While most political attention has focused on increased drug prices and the Affordable Care Act, state and federal officials are beginning to look more closely at how hospital mergers are affecting spiraling health care costs.

The latest giant hospital consolidations continue to stir concerns. Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives, two large chains, are expected to become one of the nation’s largest groups — with 139 hospitals in 28 states — by the end of the year. And two of Texas’ biggest systems, Baylor Scott & White Health and Memorial Hermann Health System, recently announced plans to combine.

The New Haven area has witnessed the most significant decline in competition. Yale New Haven Health, one of the largest hospital groups in Connecticut, took over the only competing hospital in the city and has also aggressively expanded along the state’s coast. The group recently added another hospital to its collection, merging Milford with its Bridgeport location.

Although the price of a hospital admission in the New Haven-Milford area was already three times higher than in other parts of the state, prices surged by 25 percent from 2012 to 2014, compared with 7 percent elsewhere in the state, according to the Petris Center.

In the national analysis, a third of the metropolitan areas experienced increases in the cost of hospital stays of at least 25 percent from 2012 to 2014, from roughly $12,000 to at least $15,000.

Prices rise even more steeply when these large hospital systems buy doctors’ groups, according to Richard Scheffler, director of the Petris Center.

“It’s much more powerful when they already have a very large market share,” said Mr. Scheffler, who recently published a study on the issue in Health Affairs. “The impact is just enormous.”

Thousands of Connecticut residents were stranded without a local hospital last year when another big hospital group, Hartford HealthCare, battled the state’s biggest health insurer over how much it would charge for patient care.

Its six hospitals are clustered around the state capital and are the only resort for residents in broad swaths of the eastern part of the state. This month, it announced plans to add a seventh hospital to its network.

“These systems are empire-building, there’s no question,” said Jill Zorn, a senior policy officer for the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, which seeks to improve access for residents. “But to whose benefit?”
Thar's gold in them thar sick people! So much so that they probably don't need to defraud Medicare like Rick Scott did. But given the chance some of them will.

Florida - Just Dicking Around


The Daily Show


Colbert on the Slovenian Evita



Oh No !!




Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Callin' My Name


Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones


No country for the little schmuck


From the pen of Joel Pett



It can be confusing


From the pen of Jim Morin



Billion dollar company run by multi-billionaire


And it is apparently so strapped for cash it needs the state and city of New York to give it a combined $1.5 Billion in tax breaks and incentives to build and stock an East Coast headquarters in the Borough of Queens. That's a bigger robbery than former Queens resident John Gotti ever managed and they put Gotti away for life.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio stood together Tuesday to announce that they had emerged victorious from a nationwide competition to lure tens of thousands of Amazon jobs to New York.

But the big question people are asking is what did they offer the company, in terms of tax subsidies and other benefits, and what will New York City get in return?

Amazon finally gave some answers on Tuesday morning.

“Amazon will receive performance-based direct incentives of $1.525 billion based on the company creating 25,000 jobs in Long Island City,” the company wrote in a blog post formally announcing the deal, most of which come from a state tax credit. “Amazon will receive these incentives over the next decade based on the incremental jobs it creates each year.”

The state also offered a capital grant to the company that could total as much as $500 million that Amazon can use to build new offices.

And it will also apply for additional incentives through existing city programs available to any company, Amazon said. Tax experts said those programs, for hiring workers in boroughs outside Manhattan and for commercial development, could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.

For its part, the company said it would "donate space on its campus for a tech start-up incubator and for use by artists and industrial businesses” and for a new school, as well as make investments in infrastructure and green space. It also agreed to spend $5 million on training and internship programs and to participate in “job fairs and resume workshops” at the nearby Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in the country.

“We are thrilled that Amazon has selected New York City for its new headquarters,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement with Amazon and Mr. Cuomo.

But as the details emerge, many are likely to be angry that the costs — in crowded subways, rising home prices and strained sewers — could far outweigh the benefits of possibly 25,000 new workers making an average of $100,000.

Some already are.

“We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this,” Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will represent a neighboring Queens community, wrote on Twitter. “The community’s response? Outrage.”

Local politicians were promising protests.
Standard big money deal among the gantse machers and the tax payers will pay more to make them richer. And as usual with hinky real estate deals, the public will not have any say in the matter. Another reason, when you shop on line, research it on Amazon and buy it somewhere else.

Trump's electoral dyspepsia


Stephen Colbert


A Study In Fraud


Seth Meyers takes a Closer Look at Republican grifters


Never Forget




Monday, November 12, 2018

What Makes A Man


Amy Black


Trump's Week Of Orange Poutrage


And that intrepid reporter Tom Tomorrow is there to report the pips and squeaks of the Great Orange Humperdoo as him get mad.

Putin leaves it to the locals


From the pen of John Cole



Smokey the Trump


From the pen of Ed WExler



We can't win the war


And it looks like we can't even train the locals to win it in our stead. A company of 50 elite commandos trained by the US and sent to protect a "safe" district was wiped out in a fight with the Taliban.
One pickup truck after another arrived at the government compound in a district capital in Afghanistan on Sunday, pulling around to the back of the governor’s office to unload the dead, out of sight of panicked residents.

Soldiers and police officers, many in tears, heaved bodies of their comrades from the trucks and laid them on sheets on the ground, side by side on their backs, until there were 20 of them.

The dead all wore the desert-brown boots of Afghanistan’s finest troops, the Special Forces commandos trained by the United States. Four days earlier, the soldiers had been airlifted in to rescue what is widely considered Afghanistan’s safest rural district, Jaghori, from a determined assault by Taliban insurgents.

Early on Sunday, their company of 50 soldiers was almost entirely destroyed on the front line. And suddenly, Jaghori — a haven for an ethnic Hazara Shiite minority that has been persecuted by extremists — appeared at risk of being completely overrun by the Taliban.

A small team of journalists from The New York Times went into Jaghori’s capital, Sang-e-Masha, on Sunday morning to report on the symbolic importance of what everyone expected to be a fierce stand against the insurgents.

Instead, we found bandaged commandos wandering the streets in apparent despair, and officials discussing how they could flee an area almost entirely surrounded by the Taliban. By the end of the day, we were on the run, too.

Officials told us that more than 30 of the commandos had been killed, and we could see, on the streets and in the hospitals, 10 other wounded commandos. An additional 50 police officers and militiamen were also killed in the previous 24 hours, according to the militia’s commander, Nazer Hussein, who arrived from the front line with his wounded to plead for reinforcements.

“This is genocide,” Commander Hussein said. “If they don’t do something soon, the whole district will be in the Taliban’s hands.”
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The disaster sparked a protest by Hazaras in Kabul, who railed against what they said was government inaction, but even that took a deadly turn. The demonstration had just ended on Monday when a suicide bomber struck, killing three women and three men, one of them a police officer, according to a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.
The government has no control of the battlefield and we don't have the resouces necessary to do it for them. Why the Fuck are we still there ??

Walls and Borders


In the lame duck session of this lame ass Congress, the administration of The Orange Humperdoo will push for the biggies that excite his people, the Wall and crueler immigration laws that would have kept the Trump family out if we had them back then.
The White House is racing to finish a sweeping new immigration plan focused on enforcement that could be introduced before Democrats take control of the House. It would include funding for the border wall, restrictions on asylum and cuts to legal immigration, according to four people familiar with the plans.

But the plan is already receiving pushback from factions within the West Wing who are urging the president to agree to a more moderate plan that would limit cuts to legal immigration and protect young immigrants who came to the United States as children.

“There is a schism within the White House over this issue,” said Jessica Vaughn, a former State Department foreign service officer and director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. “There are some folks who think it’s important to push those provisions now under the guise of merit-based immigration reform. And others who are opposed to that. They want the emphasis to be on enforcement.”

This latest enforcement proposal would partially serve as a permanent legislative change to measures Trump took Thursday to confront the caravan of migrants nearing the United States by invoking national security powers used to implement last year’s “travel ban” to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally.

The two plans are setting up a new battle within the Republican Party between immigration hardliners, led by White House adviser Stephen Miller, who wants to rewrite the U.S. legal immigration system, and more centrist Republicans and business leaders who want to protect the young immigrants, known as Dreamers, and provide greater access to foreign workers.

Democrats won control of the House on Tuesday. That means Trump will be working with a divided Congress come January so this is seen as a last-ditch effort to craft a new immigration package more to his and other Republicans liking. But any measure will be difficult to pass, especially one focused on enforcement, when Congress is also trying to avoid a government shutdown over changes in a spending bill and trying to push through other difficult measures such as a sweeping farm bill.

“I think the lame duck session of Congress is a great opportunity to pass immigration reform so I may still have some important work to do when I get back,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo, minutes after he conceded his re-election bid on Tuesday. “I sure hope we have a chance. This would be the best time to do it especially because we can probably expect more gridlock or even worse gridlock in the next Congress.”

Congress will be in session for 12 work days between now and its holiday break — the so-called lame duck session —and a new Congress is sworn in in January. In that time, it has to pass a spending bill before Dec. 7 or the government will have to shut down with no funding.

Earler this year, Trump warned that a “good shutdown” may be necessary to force Democrats to agree to spend more than $20 billion on a border wall. But he appeared to back away from those threats this week after seeing the election results.

Trump told a news conference Wednesday he’s “not necessarily” committed to a shutdown and indicated Democrats may be willing to work with him.

“I speak to Democrats all the time and they agree that a wall is necessary,” Trump said. “We want to build the whole wall at one time, not in chunks.”

Democrats are unlikely to be in a negotiating mood during the lame-duck session, given their pick up of 30 seats, so far, in Tuesday’s midterms.

Trump is seeking to decrease numbers and address a group of thousands of migrants traveling toward the U.S. border. He used the group as a final rallying cry as the midterm campaigning wound down, saying the group included criminals who made up an “invasion” of the U.S. He deployed military troops to the border.

He desperately wants to gain funding for his wall in order to fulfill his signature campaign promise as he looks toward 2020.

The White House and Congress have repeatedly tried and failed to craft a successful plan that would fund the wall and provide protections for so-called Dreamers who have been able to work and remain in the United States under the original Deferred Action for Childhoold Arrivals law.
The Orange Humperdoo really, really wants his wall but it is such a bad idea that nobody can put together an acceptable plan. But they won't stop trying, they never do.

Call (571) 585-3730


John Oliver on some of Trump's swamp monsters


And a repeat performance at Arlington today



Sunday, November 11, 2018

Going Home


Mary Fahl


The Last Days of World War I


Michael Palin details the end, including the last men killed.


On the 11th hour of the 11th day of November


In the year 1918, the leaders of the combatant nations of Europe decided to stop slaughtering each other. Four years earlier through a chain of events driven by arrogance, malice, stupidity and even vanity they began a war that their military leaders thought would be over quickly, with each thinking they would be on the winning side.



They were wrong, very wrong. The generals grievously underestimated the effects of the new improved methods of industrial killing and completely failed to alter their strategies and tactics. For the next four years the soldiery of France, Germany, Austria and England and Her Commonwealth Allies merrily slaughtered each other for God and Country. Russia, Turkey, The Balkan States, Italy and The United States joined in for part of the time.



Finally, after giving the world advanced military aircraft, poison gas weapons and U-Boat warfare,Germany and Austria reached a point where they could no longer continue the fight and requested an armistice. It took effect 100 years ago.And in the end precious little was achieved except to put off the second half of the war until 1939.




Bullet Holes In The Sky


Mary Gauthier


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Wayfaring Stranger


Rhiannon Giddens


What you thought he said


From the pen of Chan Lowe



You know the drill


From the pen of Jeff Koterba



Respect for veterans


Search high and low in the Trump playbook and you will only find lip service to those who have served their country and are now serving their country. Trump doesn't do service. And a trip to an American cemetary in France to honor those who died in the war that ended 100 years ago tomorrow is too much for the Orange Humperdoo to handle.
President Trump flew 3,800 miles to this French capital city for ceremonies to honor the military sacrifice in World War I, hoping to take part in the kind of powerful ode to the bravery of the armed forces that he was unable to hold in Washington.

But on his first full day here, it rained on his substitute parade weekend.

Early Saturday, the White House announced Trump and the first lady had scuttled plans, due to bad weather, for their first stop in the weekend’s remembrance activities — a visit to the solemn Aisne Marne American Cemetery, marking the ferocious Battle of Belleau Wood.

It was not completely clear why the Trumps were unable to attend. The cemetery is 50 miles from Paris. Perhaps the president was planning to travel on Marine One, which is occasionally grounded by the Secret Service.

But the sight of dignitaries arriving at other sites outside Paris, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, led some foreign policy analysts to speculate the U.S. commander in chief just wasn’t up for it.

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow,” David Frum, who served as a speechwriter to former president George W. Bush, wrote in tweets. Trump is actually staying at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris.

So began a weekend in which Trump — battling on a number of political fronts in Washington — seemed distracted and disengaged.
The only decent excuse would be if he had a Wilsonian stroke 100 years after another racist in the White House had one. Worrying about how many indictments Mueller is going to drop on his family doesn't cut it.

He's the Gift that Never Stops Taking


Bill Maher on Trump


Dress Code: Collusion Casual


Stephen Colbert


They never hid from the rain



Friday, November 09, 2018

Petite Fleur


The Hot Sardines


No border problems for this caravan


From the pen of Steve Sack



One problem removed


From the pen of Kevin Siers



Stop The Count, We Might Lose


In standard fashion, after a casual count gives a Republican an election win, the party immediately goes into stop the count mode regardless of the number of uncounted ballors remaining. In Florida and Georgia, after strenous efforts to keep potential Democrats from the polls, the Republicans now want to stop counting the votes of those who did succeed in voting.
With his margin of victory in Florida’s Senate race narrowing, Gov. Rick Scott phoned in the lawyers. Addressing reporters in Tallahassee on Thursday night, Scott (R) declared that he was suing to stop Democrats from stealing what he said was his midterm victory over incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. His ire in particular zeroed in on two South Florida counties.

“Every Floridian should be concerned there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward counties,” Scott said. “I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the people of Florida.”

Back in Washington, President Trump echoed the allegation. “Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!” the president blasted out on Twitter.

Republicans have piled on about alleged ballot-box shenanigans and dirty tricks, layering the aftermath of a contentious election with new drama.

But the whole situation in Florida also feels like a repeat of past political upheaval. That’s thanks to Broward County.

For decades, the county has regularly been a hot zone for election-night chaos in both statewide and national races, including the infamous 2000 presidential election. Years of problems have only slapped additional coats of paint on the county’s sordid reputation as a black hole for ballots. Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, the target of Scott’s legal action, has been accused in recent years of illegally destroying ballots and mismanagement.

As The Washington Post reported Thursday, Florida election officials have until Saturday to tally votes to determine whether both the Senate and gubernatorial races will head to a recount. But Snipes on Thursday fueled the latest Broward controversy — and conspiracy theories — when she failed to explain how long her office’s count would take.

But the criticism also is politically tinged. Broward is Florida’s biggest Democratic stronghold, meaning the county is a convenient punching bag for Florida’s GOP as well as outsider candidates hoping to take on the mainstream Democratic Party. And with the country’s election process again under siege, Broward’s track record is once more of national significance.

Sandwiched between Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, rubbing up against the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades, Broward is 1,323 square miles of interlocking suburbs as well as the city of Fort Lauderdale. According to Snipes’s office, the county is home to approximately 593,000 registered Democrats and 252,000 registered Republicans. The balance makes Broward particularly significant in the tight, high-wire races that have come to define the state.

The grand tour of Broward’s ballot problems starts with the most controversial presidential election of recent memory. After the close finish between George W. Bush and Al Gore, reports emerged of partially punched paper ballots that may have been improperly disqualified — known forevermore as “hanging chads.” The Gore campaign pushed for manual recounts in four Florida counties — Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Volusia and Broward.
The last time the Republicans stopped a vote count in Florida, we got W as preznitent. This time is just as bad if they succeed.

Someone let the air out of a Michelin man


Seth Meyers embraces the presidential meltdown


OMG! Am I ..... black ?


Stephen Colbert recounts


Time to shut it down



Thursday, November 08, 2018

The Murder of Lewis Tyree


The Hello Strangers


The Great Divide shifts


From the pen of David Fitzsimmons



Having given us the Borg


Bill Gates
now wants to get into our shit.
Bill Gates believes the world needs better toilets.

Specifically, toilets that improve hygiene, don’t have to connect to sewage systems at all and can break down human waste into fertilizer.

So on Tuesday in Beijing, Mr. Gates held the Reinvented Toilet Expo, a chance for companies to showcase their takes on the simple bathroom fixture. Companies showed toilets that could separate urine from other waste for more efficient treatment, that recycled water for hand washing and that sported solar roofs.

It’s no laughing matter. About 4.5 billion people — more than half the world’s population — live without access to safe sanitation. Globally, Mr. Gates told attendees, unsafe sanitation costs an estimated $223 billion a year in the form of higher health costs and lost productivity and wages.

The reinvented toilets on display are a culmination of seven years of research and $200 million given by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which the former software tycoon runs with his wife, since 2011. On Tuesday, Mr. Gates pledged to give $200 million more in an effort get companies to see human waste as a big business.
Having given us the world's premier shitty operating system, he finds he just can't get away from crap.

Now he resigns


Finally Brian Kemp, Secretary of State of Georgia and notorious vote fixer, has resigned from his office. Ostensibly it is to remove any taint from the final count. Or perhaps that should be any further taint.
Brian Kemp, the Republican who has claimed victory in Georgia’s governor’s race, said on Thursday that he was resigning as secretary of state, removing himself from the process of determining whether he had in fact been elected.

With some ballots still to be counted, his Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, is just shy of enough votes to force a runoff. Ms. Abrams has not conceded, and The Associated Press and other major news organizations say the race is still too close to call.

Mr. Kemp attracted mounting criticism during the campaign for his management of an election in which he was also a candidate, but he had dismissed repeated calls from Democrats for him to resign in the weeks before Election Day.

Mr. Kemp made no mention of the elections process on Thursday in his resignation letter to the outgoing Republican governor, Nathan Deal, saying he was resigning because he wished “to focus on the transition to my gubernatorial administration.”

Appearing with Mr. Deal at a morning news conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Mr. Kemp said, “I think in light of where we are now, this will give public confidence to the certification process, even though, quite honestly, it’s being done at the county level.”

Robyn A. Crittenden, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services, will become the acting secretary of state and oversee the certification of Georgia’s election results. Ms. Crittenden is assuming the office at a volatile moment in Georgia, with Ms. Abrams’s campaign still raising pointed questions about the integrity of the election.

Ms. Crittenden will also supervise runoffs in at least two other statewide races, one of them for secretary of state, as well as one for governor if Ms Abrams’s campaign succeeds in forcing one.

As Mr. Kemp’s resignation took effect at 11:59 a.m. Thursday, his office said he had won 50.3 percent of the vote and held a lead of about 63,000 votes over Ms. Abrams. To win the governorship, Mr. Kemp must have an outright majority.

But Ms. Abrams’s campaign believes there is still a potential path to a runoff, once all remaining absentee and provisional ballots are tabulated.

“Why is Brian Kemp rushing to declare himself the winner even as additional votes come in that could change the outcome?” an email circulated by Ms. Abrams’s campaign asked on Thursday morning.

Mr. Kemp’s resignation as secretary of state appeared to render moot a federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday by the nonprofit group Protect Democracy demanding Mr. Kemp’s recusal. A hearing in that case was scheduled for Thursday.
Kemp did all he could and if he failed to suppress or block enough votes to win, so be it. Now it's up to Robyn A. Crittenden to make sure the last votes aren't counted.

A dog's breakfast of election results


Samantha Bee


8%


Stephen Colbert


Who would have thought it ??



Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Old Dangerfield


Sierra Hull with Ethan Jodziewicz on bass and Eddie Barbash on sax


Ramblin' (Wo)man


Cat Power


Maybe next time ?


From the pen of Dave Granlund



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