Thursday, March 31, 2016

That's what you tell yourself

But Etta James knew it wasn't true which is why she sang "Damn Your Eyes"

This year same as the last

From the pen of Matt Wuerker

A big company deserves a big investigation

And the investigation into Exxon Mobil's decades long efforts to distort and cover up climate change research has been growing lately.
Attorneys general from Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands announced Tuesday that they would join Eric T. Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general, in his investigation into whether Exxon Mobil lied in decades past to investors and the public about the threat of climate change.

The additional participation was announced during a news conference at Mr. Schneiderman’s offices in Lower Manhattan announcing support from 15 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands for the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

Attorneys general from Vermont, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut and the Virgin Islands, as well as former Vice President Al Gore, attended the event.

While none of the other officials present, aside from Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Claude Walker of the Virgin Islands, announced inquiries of their own, Mr. Schneiderman said, “not every investigation gets announced at the outset.”

Mr. Schneiderman began his investigation in November. His staff is looking at whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks — some as recently as last year — conflicted with the company’s own scientific research.

Part of that inquiry includes the company’s funding, for at least a decade, of outside groups that worked to dispute climate science, even as its in-house scientists were describing the possible consequences of climate change, along with the areas of uncertainty.

Mr. Schneiderman said, “The First Amendment, ladies and gentlemen, does not give you the right to commit fraud.”

The attorneys general have a range of laws to work with, including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. Mr. Schneiderman has statutes specific to New York, including the Martin Act, which gives the government broad investigative powers; laws allowing the state to take action against “persistent fraud or illegality”; and the state’s deceptive business and trade practices act.
Or as Sir Walter Scott wrote, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we practice to deceive".

DAESH, Child of Saud, turns on parent

Saudi Arabia, which has terrorized the Muslim world for years with its cruelly anti-humanist stain of Wahabist Islam backed by unlimited oil money, is now seeing that fundamental, and fundamentally flawed, religious extremism turned back upon itself.
The video spread rapidly across the kingdom, shocking a nation struggling to contain a terrorist movement seen as especially dangerous not just because it promotes violence, but also because it has adopted elements of Saudi Arabia’s intolerant version of Islam — a Sunni creed known as Wahhabism — and used them to delegitimize the monarchy.

“Wahhabism is fundamental to the Islamic State’s ideology,” said Cole Bunzel, a scholar of Wahhabi history at Princeton University and the author of a recent paper on Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State. “It informs the character of their religion and is the most on-display feature, in my opinion, of their entire ideology.”

Among 20 terrorist episodes in Saudi Arabia since late 2014, the killing of Sergeant Rashidi was the third in which citizens had secretly joined the Islamic State and killed relatives in the security services. In each case, they justified their acts by saying Saudi Arabia practiced a corrupted version of the faith, a charge aimed at a kingdom that holds itself up as the only true Islamic state.

The Islamic State, like Al Qaeda before it, accuses the Saudi monarchy of corrupting the faith in order to preserve its power. But Qaeda networks in the kingdom were dismantled years ago, and the group’s leadership abroad has discouraged killing Muslim civilians.

The Islamic State, however, has been able to infiltrate the kingdom through digital recruiting, and it has found devotees willing to kill fellow Sunnis, as well as Shiites, to destabilize the monarchy.

Now the Islamic State poses a new challenge, by turning aspects of Saudi Arabia’s fundamentalist creed against it. Wahhabism has been molded over the years to serve the interests of the monarchy, emphasizing obedience to the rulers and condemning terrorist attacks, even against those seen as apostates.

Still, among the Islamic State’s many enemies, Saudi Arabia is the only one that considers the Quran and other religious texts its constitution, criminalizes apostasy and bans all forms of unsanctioned public religion.
Wahabism grew because it justified the lust for power of the tribe of Saud. And now it is being turned against the Sauds by another group with a lust for power. And all of it is wrapped up in the cheap paper of religion.

The heart of the American idea

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Some of that Norwegian jazz

Rebekka Bakken singing "Powder Room Collapse" in English.

R.I.P. Anna Marie Duke

You worked a miracle becoming identical cousins but we loved you anyway.

The All-Purpose Solution

From the pen of Jim Morin

Loyal to the end

After starting the campaign/debate season with loud demands that the sixteen losers support whoever wins, last night we were treated to the spectacle of the remaining three stooges throwing their promises on the trash heap along with their honor and integrity.
None of the three remaining Republican presidential candidates would guarantee Tuesday night that they would support the eventual GOP nominee for president, departing from previous vows to do so and injecting new turmoil into an already tumultuous contest.

Mogul Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich were each given a chance during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee to definitively state they would support the nominee. All three declined to renew their pledge. As recently as March 3, in a Fox News debate, all three said they would support the nominee.

“No, I don’t anymore,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, when asked if he remains committed to the Republican National Committee pledge he previously signed.

Cruz was asked three times by Cooper whether he would support the nominee. Each time, he declined to pledge to support the nominee no matter what.

"I'm not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and attacks my family," Cruz said, referring to Trump.

When Cooper followed up, Cruz replied: "Let me tell you my solution to that: Donald is not going to be the GOP nominee."

Cooper pressed him a third time. Cruz responded: "I gave you my answer."

Kasich said he would have to "see what happens" in the race before he could answer the question.
Most people don't put much stake in political promises, but these three are turning on their own kind. There once was honor among thieves. Nowadays we just have thieves.

They rewrite our history and our language

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A pop band from England

Annaca sings "Haunted"

How low can it go?

From the pen of Tom Toles

Mitch McConnell hands victory to unions

His determination to not let that black guy(my term, Mitch uses an older term) in the White House get any more wins has left the Supreme Court with only 8 justices. 8 is an even number that can be equally divided.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it was unable to resolve a major challenge to organized labor, and the result was a defeat for a group of California teachers who claim their free speech rights are violated when they are forced to pay dues to the state’s teachers union.

The court said it was split 4 to 4 on the issue, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. It was the most important case yet in which the eight-member court was unable to reach a decision.

Conservative groups directly asked the court to overturn a 1977 decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, that favored the unions. That ruling said that states could allow public-employee unions to collect fees from nonmembers to cover the costs of workplace negotiations but not to cover the union’s political activities.

At oral argument, it appeared the groups would get their wish. The conservative justice Scalia had actually been the best hope for unions beyond the four liberal justices. But his questions seemed to make clear that he sided with the challengers.

When the court is evenly split, it affirms the decision of the appeals court that considered it. In this case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said it was bound by the Abood decision and turned down the challenge.

Public unions saw the split decision as a victory.

“The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a political ploy to silence public employees like teachers, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, higher education faculty and other educators to work together to shape their profession,” said National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García.
And there will be more decisions like this thanks to Mitch McConnell.

The Secret Service has the last word

And despite the best efforts of either a dedicated gunhumper or a magnificent troll to petition for open carry at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Ohio is already an open carry state(unless you are a 12 year old black child with a toy gun) and they wanted that privilege extended to the convention site.
The Secret Service said it would forbid attendees to carry firearms at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, neutralizing an effort by gun rights advocates that had put pressure on the candidates to take a side on the issue.

“Only authorized law enforcement personnel working in conjunction with the Secret Service for a particular event may carry a firearm inside of the protected site,” Kevin Dye, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement Tuesday.

The debate over whether to permit guns at the Quicken Loans Arena in the second-largest city in Ohio flared in the past week after an online petition appeared on, taking issue with the arena’s anti-weapons policy in a state that allows “open carry” of firearms.

“This is a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk,” said the petition, which had gathered more than 50,000 signatures by Tuesday morning.

As momentum over the issue grew, the Republican candidates faced increasing pressure to take a position.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Donald J. Trump, the G.O.P. front-runner, said that he had yet to review the petition, but added that delegates risked becoming “sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evildoers and criminals.”

He said he was a “very, very strong person for the Second Amendment.”

The other Republican contenders, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, have not commented on the petition, but Mr. Cruz has been a vocal opponent of so-called gun-free zones. Messages left with their campaigns on Tuesday were not immediately answered.

The fight against gun-free zones has been propelled by Republicans in recent years partly as a response to the drumbeat of mass shootings in the United States. Gun rights advocates have pushed a “good guy with a gun” argument: that licensed gun owners could save lives during such shootings.

Mr. Trump, who has a wide lead in the delegate count and is under Secret Service protection, said in January that he would eliminate gun-free zones on “my first day” in the White House.

Among the latest battlegrounds is Texas, where a law was approved last year to allow licensed gun owners to carry them in buildings at state universities, setting off protests by some faculty members and student groups.

The Secret Service said Tuesday that it had the authority to ban guns from sites visited by presidential candidates under its protection.
And once again, thanks to the Secret Service, the candidates can swagger, clank their balls and talk tough on guns in the safety of a gun free zone.

Sarah explains Bernie

And asks you to vote, regardless of who you vote for.

Sarah Silverman is Voting for Bernie Sanders by alexandra61

I'm With Liz

Monday, March 28, 2016

Take two friends last names

To make a band name and then add a third for harmonies & bass and you have Underhill Rose. Ad if you listen to them sing "Not Gonna Worry" chances are you won't either.

Seems like a Fair Witness

Tom Tomorrow gives us a dialogue with an observer from another world seeking to understand our elections process.

They do have the same goal

From the pen of Rob Rogers

Putting lipstick on some pigs

The New York Times in a reacharound to the Republican Senate has attempted to paint some of the endangered Senators in this years election as "moderate". It tries to do so by highlighting the one issue where they do not follow the lockstep march of their colleagues.
She may not always telegraph it, but the freshman senator is locked in a herculean battle with the state’s popular Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan. As one of five Senate Republicans running for re-election in states that supported President Obama in both 2008 and 2012, Ms. Ayotte is seen as particularly vulnerable this November, and a major reason national Democrats, now on the short end of a 54-46 Republican majority, are optimistic about taking back the Senate.

Six years ago, Ms. Ayotte was part of a Republican wave that swept Democrats out of power in blue states like Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as swing states like New Hampshire. For Ms. Ayotte and other Republicans from that class, 2016 was always going to be a difficult year to run for re-election because more Democrats vote in presidential years. But with the possibility that Donald J. Trump, the most divisive Republican presidential candidate in a generation, will head the ticket, the party’s task may be all the more arduous.

She may not always telegraph it, but the freshman senator is locked in a herculean battle with the state’s popular Democratic governor, Maggie Hassan. As one of five Senate Republicans running for re-election in states that supported President Obama in both 2008 and 2012, Ms. Ayotte is seen as particularly vulnerable this November, and a major reason national Democrats, now on the short end of a 54-46 Republican majority, are optimistic about taking back the Senate.

Six years ago, Ms. Ayotte was part of a Republican wave that swept Democrats out of power in blue states like Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as swing states like New Hampshire. For Ms. Ayotte and other Republicans from that class, 2016 was always going to be a difficult year to run for re-election because more Democrats vote in presidential years. But with the possibility that Donald J. Trump, the most divisive Republican presidential candidate in a generation, will head the ticket, the party’s task may be all the more arduous.
Her siding with Democrats was always like that of Susan Collins of Maine, disappearing in the wind when the crucial vote for passage came up. Indeed, the most used button on her desk is the "vote like Mitch" button.

Not sure what took them so long

Hard on the heels of notorious Art Pope Stooge and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signing the latest pervy bathroom bill from the Republican controlled legislature, a lawsuit has been filed to overturn it.
The plaintiffs, a coalition of individuals and civil liberties groups, charged that the bill approved on Wednesday by the Republican majorities in the General Assembly, and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, violated the Constitution and federal anti-discrimination laws.

“Let’s be clear: The legislature and Governor McCrory have done nothing less than encourage discrimination,” said Chris Brook, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, a gay rights group, said, “Our national partners have told us that this is the most sweeping and the most dangerous anti-L.G.B.T. bill they’ve seen at least this session, and in quite a while.”

Several large companies and business groups have protested the law, and opponents have predicted an economic backlash against the state.

The state General Assembly called a special session to take up the bill, at a cost of $42,000, held no hearings, allowed little debate and passed the measure hours after it was introduced. Republicans supported it unanimously, while many Democrats walked out in protest. Mr. McCrory, who is running for re-election this year, quickly signed it.
This law does need to be overturned as soon as possible. I do have to say I am saddened that voter ID laws in North Carolina and other states were not legally challenged with such alacrity. Those are the laws that will keep us oppressed by the GOP.

Torn between 2 lovers

On the one hand is that creep who has been stalking you and none of your friends can stand either, but he does have a huge prick. And on the other hand, your current squeeze, a total asshole, always making fun of other people despite his cute little prick but he does have a yooge bank account. So if you are a Republican, who do you choose?
As Mr. Cruz seeks to unite the disparate factions of the Republican Party that are bonded only by their dead-set opposition to Donald J. Trump, a high-wire act is required: welcoming the top ranks of the same establishment he has spent years excoriating while not abandoning the hard-line conservatives who like him in part because of his attacks on party leaders.

While the Romney and Bush endorsements drew headlines, what has been just as striking is the sound of silence from the vast majority of Republican elected officials and leading donors. Nearly two weeks after Senator Marco Rubio dropped out of the race, there has been no mass rush to Mr. Cruz, even as he appears to be the last line of defense against a Trump nomination.

The decision by so many leading Republicans to remain on the sidelines is all the more notable because it appears inversely proportional to the scale of concern about Mr. Trump. His recent attacks on Mr. Cruz’s wife and soaring unpopularity among women, minorities and college-educated voters have left many in the party more convinced than ever that, with Mr. Trump as their standard-bearer, they are churning toward a political iceberg this fall.

But this fear has not been enough to coax them in Mr. Cruz’s direction.

“They’re afraid of Trump’s voters and they hate Cruz,” explained Senator Lindsey Graham, who has tried to rally his colleagues behind Mr. Cruz. “But if I can swallow my pride, they can, too.”
Most people haven't had the practice swallowing that Miss Lindsey has and that is why their pride remains sourly in their mouths. And Ted Cruz still doesn't have any friends beyond the village idiot.

The Bird Is The Word

New Bernie ad

Just a thought....

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rocking a classic

That became a classic itself. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts doing "Crimson & Clover"

Even the bravest have their limits

From the pen of Brian McFadden

click pic to big

Happy Easter

Today's Sunday School lesson courtesy of Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian.

At what point do you make yourself a hazard

Because when you become a hazard, to yourself and/or to others, the state usually finds a need to legislate that hazard. And the latest need to rear its head is walking. Specifically walking while texting or otherwise distracting yourself to the point that you don't know where you are or where you are going.
Experts say distracted walking is a growing problem around the world as people of all ages become more dependent on electronic devices for personal and professional matters.

Experts also note that pedestrian deaths have been rising in recent years. Eleven percent of all fatalities in 2005 involved pedestrians, but that figure rose to 15 percent in 2014.

The rise in deaths coincides with states introducing bills that target pedestrians and/or bicyclists. For instance, a bill pending in Hawaii would fine someone $250 for crossing the street with an electronic device. In recent years, similar bills have failed in states including Arkansas, Illinois, Nevada and New York.

“Thus far, no states have enacted a law specifically targeting distracted bicyclists or pedestrians,” said Douglas Shinkle, transportation program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures. But he added that “a few states continue to introduce legislation every year.”

The measure recently introduced by General Assembly member Pamela Lampitt (D) would ban walking while texting and bar pedestrians on public roads from using electronic communication devices that are not hands-free. Violators would face fines of up to $50, 15 days imprisonment or both, which is the same penalty as jaywalking.

Half of the fine would be used to pay for safety education about the dangers of walking and texting, Lampitt said.
Some of us might say that this is passing up an opportunity to hand out some much needed Darwin Awards. Another issue is finding police who will take the time to enforce such a small offence, perhaps a repurposing of Meter Maids could solve this. But do we really need the state holding our hands this tightly?

The Origin of the Easter Egg?

Saturday, March 26, 2016

"What's The Matter?"

The Leftover Cuties from their album The Spark & The Fire

Actually it was the "well regulated militia" part

From the pen of Clay Bennett

I have no desire to copulate with him

Bill Maher disbelieves any woman would have sex with Ted Cruz

A hot time in the old town tonite?

The several days and nights of the Republican convention are shaping up to be a fright fest for the delegates. Following the Brussels attack, all the delegates are now imagining themselves in the crosshairs of the thousands of DAESH goons who have driven their Toyotas across the ocean just for that purpose. Add to that a volatile stew of itching to be violent goobers waiting to defend their Trumpenfuehrer's right to the crown.
Organizers for the Republican National Convention are preparing security for the gathering in Cleveland in July amid an unusually combustible environment, in which the threat of terrorist attacks is now joined by the unpredictable behavior of foes and supporters of GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s terrorist bombings in Brussels, officials representing law enforcement, the Republican National Committee and the city of Cleveland say they will be prepared for whatever comes their way when an estimated 50,000 people converge on the Lake Erie city for the July 18-21 convention.

“Our goal is to develop and implement, with numerous participating agencies, a seamless security plan that will create a safe and secure environment for our protectees, other dignitaries, event participants and the general public,” said Kevin Dye, a spokesman for the Secret Service.

Still, some security experts say recent events suggest challenges...

“During the formation of the Secret Service’s overall plan for the RNC, each participating agency is tasked based on their jurisdiction and particular area of expertise,” Dye said. “The expertise of each participating law enforcement, public safety and military agency is critical to the success of the coordinated security plan.”

On Monday, the day before the Brussels attack, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus predicted that there will be no problems with safety in Cleveland.

“We prepare for all contingencies. We will have over $50 million in security at the convention,” Priebus said on “CBS This Morning.” “We’ll be prepared; it’ll be fine. And I guarantee you’ll have a good time and it will be a fun convention in Cleveland.”

Despite a sizable lead in delegates won in primary election contests, Trump could fall short of the majority needed to win on the first ballot, forcing a contest inside the convention. He suggested last week that there might be chaos if he doesn’t leave Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, the site of the convention, as the Republican presidential nominee.

“There could very well be riots,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
And the latest addition to the GOP fear cocktail is the demand that gun humpers be allowed to carry in the convention hall to protect themselves from DAESH. And if the weather is hot and muggy as it usually is at that time of the year, well you can only hope you have enough popcorn.

The Cost of War

Bernie Sanders ad

Do you have your Butter Lamb for Easter?

Your Easter dinner just isn't complete without a butter lamb on your table.
Butter lambs are practically unique to Western New York, which helps explain why we all need one, whether we’re Polish or not, and why expats thank God that Wegmans carries them. The only place in the world that makes this whimsical confection, to anyone’s knowledge, is Camellia Meats. Camellia, whose stand sits at the southeast corner of the Broadway Market, received the butter lamb business from the hallowed hands of Malczewski Poultry, famous for making the lambs for decades.

“He came to us because of our Polish heritage. Being on the East Side of Buffalo since the 1930s, we had the background already. He helped us out the first year, getting everything together. The year 2012 was our first Easter. It was cool because I was excited, I was a little younger – I’m 26 – and my dad put me in charge when it came to making them. It was fun for me, ’cause I grew up with the butter lamb. It was fun to be a part of it.”

Twenty tons of butter every year, Cichoki estimated, go into fattening those butter lambs. They are molded at Camellia’s Genesee Street facility. Pastry artists apply the butter curls that make the wool.

Leading the parade of butter lambs for sale is the giant $16.99 “head-turned” lamb, its face turned adorably toward you. Then there’s the $13.99 “straight-faced” lamb, looking straight ahead. And so on, down to the wee quarter-pounder in its iconic blue and white box.

Each lamb’s rear bears a flag reading “Alleluia.” Around each lamb’s neck is a ribbon, either red or orchid.

“The red is traditional because of the Blood of Christ,” Cichoki said. “The orchid was introduced by Dorothy (Malczewski) because it was her favorite color.”

Whichever color you choose, take care not to toss it if, emulating the faithful, you put your butter lamb in your Easter basket and bring it to a priest to get it blessed.

“If you take it to get it blessed, you have to burn the ribbon,”
If your market doesn't carry butter lambs, you need to ask why.

For our safety

Friday, March 25, 2016

Singing and playing her viola

Lydia Luce has traversed the country learning her trade. Performing "Love You True"

The Old School Republican Response

From the pen of Jeff Danziger

It was only a matter of time

After all the tirades and hogslop from Donald Trump about how terrible Muslims are and what he will do to them, DAESH has finally got around to exploiting his shit with a video including his quotes.
A new video released by what appears to be a propaganda wing of the Islamic State cites remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the aftermath of this week's deadly terror attacks in Brussels.

The video, titled "The Exile of Islam and Brussels Attacks" and produced by the al-Battar media group, is a nine-minute montage of spliced footage and commentary about the terrorist bombings in the Belgian capital, which killed 31 people and injured hundreds more.

"The crusade jets including the Belgian [sic] are still bombing the Muslims in Iraq and Levant in the day and the night, killing children, women, old, and destroying mosques and schools," an Arabic speaker says, according to Newsweek. (Belgium is a member of the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition, though its military role is rather circumscribed.)

The video then incorporates the audio recording of comments made by Trump in a phone interview after news of the carnage broke, likely as propaganda to prove the success of the jihadists' plots.

"Brussels was one of the great cities — one of the most beautiful cities of the world 20 years ago — and safe," Trump intones. "And now it’s a horror show — an absolute horror show."

After the attacks, the Republican front-runner called for closing borders and encouraged the use of torture when pursuing militant groups. Critics argued that both his and rival candidate Sen. Ted Cruz's proposals — Cruz said law enforcement should "patrol and secure" Muslim neighborhoods — were heavy-handed, likely illegal and could potentially deepen radicalization.

As WorldViews has noted earlier, the Islamic State specifically wants the West to react with panic and alarm. A memo circulated by the group's supporters in November appeared to exult at Europe's fraying unity in the face of various political and economic crises.

An escalation of Islamist militancy, as well as growing fears over an influx of refugees and migrants, have presented a perfect cocktail for right-wing parties across the continent skeptical of both immigration and European unity. Their opponents call for calm and point to the profound complexity of the militant threat.
There is not yet any smooth cooperation between DAESH and Europe's right wing parties, but as they have similar goals then like the use of Donald's quotes, it will only be a matter of time.

If you are stupid enough to shoot up junk

Then you are most definitely stupid enough to go the next step and shoot up fentanyl. You problem would be you are not smart enough to know how pure it may be and how long you have left to live.
Fentanyl, which looks like heroin, is a powerful synthetic painkiller that has been laced into heroin but is increasingly being sold by itself — often without the user’s knowledge. It is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine. A tiny bit can be fatal.

In some areas in New England, fentanyl is now killing more people than heroin. In New Hampshire, fentanyl alone killed 158 people last year; heroin killed 32. (Fentanyl was a factor in an additional 120 deaths; heroin contributed to an additional 56.)

“It sort of snuck up on us,” said Detective Capt. Robert P. Pistone of the Haverhill Police Department in Massachusetts. He said that a jump in deaths in 2014 appeared to be caused by heroin, but that lab tests showed the culprit was fentanyl.

Fentanyl represents the latest wave of a rolling drug epidemic that has been fueled by prescription painkillers, as addicts continue to seek higher highs and cheaper fixes.

“It started out as an opioid epidemic, then heroin, but now it’s a fentanyl epidemic,” Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts, said in an interview.

Fentanyl has been used since the 1960s in medical settings to treat extreme pain on a patch or in a lozenge. In recent decades, illicit fentanyl has seeped into the United States from clandestine labs in Mexico.

“For the cartels, it’s their drug of choice,” Ms. Healey said. “They have figured out a way to make fentanyl more cheaply and easily than heroin and are manufacturing it at a record pace.”
Cheap and you can cut the hell out of it and still keep the junkies happy. But there is always a way to go one step to far and with fentanyl that is just a little step farther. And so it has gotten that much easier to clean the gene pool.

Oil companies determined to push up gas prices

There is little question that the Big Oil companies have taken the low prices of gasoline very personally and will do all they can to raise those prices. The jawboning part has begun as their many spokesweasels have spread out to all the media to tell everybody the prices are coming, the prices are coming!
Prices at the pump are climbing quickly as oil prices firm and the summer driving season approaches. On Thursday, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose above $2 a gallon for the first time since Dec. 31 — albeit by only a penny.

Across the country, according to the AAA motor club, drivers are paying 31 cents more per gallon than only a month ago.

The principal reason for the rise in gasoline prices is the roughly 50 percent spike in the American oil benchmark from $26 a barrel on Feb. 11 to just over $40 a barrel before crude prices sputtered in the last couple of days.

But there are a variety of other factors pushing gasoline prices up, particularly on the West Coast. A recent power outage at Exxon Mobil’s refinery in Torrance, Calif., a plant that has still not fully recovered from an explosion early last year, has slowed gasoline production. Californians are paying an average of $2.73 a gallon for regular gas, according to AAA, 72 cents higher than the national average and 42 cents more than they were paying a month ago.

Much of the recent price rise is from changes in seasonal driving habits, including spring break road trips. At the same time, many refineries are retooling to produce summer blends, which leads to a temporary decline in local fuel production.
All the usual reasons for jacking up the price, but in the end it all comes down to how much the Saudis are pumping and how much are we using. Pay attention to those numbers and ignore all the talk-talk.

R.I.P. Garry Shandling

It really did not matter whose show it was, you were funny and now too soon gone.

Wayne LaPierre's Favorite Bitch

Thursday, March 24, 2016

She needs to lose the Joe Cocker twitching

But Jocelyn & Chris Arndt are on their way to making their name writ large in the music world.

The McConnell Rule

From the pen of David Horsey

click pic to big

R.I.P. Joe Garagiola

A Catcher Who Called a Better Game on TV

The wheels of justice turn slowly

So slowly that a man who spent the best years of his life happily trying to kill every Muslim in Bosnia has finally been convicted of his crimes.
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was convicted by U.N. judges of genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the worst war crime in Europe since World War Two, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Karadzic, 70, the former president of the breakaway Bosnian Serb Republic, was found guilty on 10 out of 11 charges brought by war crimes prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. He would appeal the decision, his legal adviser said.

"The accused was the sole person within Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb Republic) with the power to prevent the killing of the Bosnian Muslim males," said presiding judge O-Gon Kwok, in a reference to the 8,000 killed at Srebrenica.

"Far from preventing it, he ordered they be transferred elsewhere to be killed," the judge said.

Karadzic was acquitted of one count of genocide in various towns across Bosnia during the war of the 1990s.

The three-judge panel said Karadzic was "at the apex of power," heading the self-styled Bosnian Serb Republic and Supreme Commander of its armed forces, when crimes were committed by his troops.

Judges said the 44-month siege of Sarajevo could not have happened without his support; that he committed crimes against humanity in an attempt to purge Muslims and Croats from parts of Bosnia; and that he had intended to eliminate the Bosnian Muslim males of the town of Srebrenica.
The wheels turn slowly but they do turn. Sometimes, however, the result is thin gruel for those who were victimized.
Outside, Hatidza Mehmedovic, who lost her entire family at Srebrenica, said she was enraged by the verdict, and no punishment could have been harsh enough.

"He can live in a cushy prison while I have to live in Srebrenica, where his ideology is still in place," she said.

"I have no sisters, no brothers, no husband."

Just another salesman with a shoddy product

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Covering Bob Dylan

Back when he wrote fine songs, Joan Baez sings "I Pity The Poor Immigrant"

Should Be a Famous Quotation

Thanks be to Charles Pierce for the quote from President Obama in response to the cowardly suggestion of Cuban anchor baby Ted Cruz.
"As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which, by the way, the father of Sen. Cruz escaped for America, the land of the free," he said.
Mr. President, you could send Ted back to the Cubans.

The old guy got it.

From the pen of Drew Sheneman

Another Republican, another sex scandal

This time it involves the sanctimonious Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley and a good (former?) friend who was Alabama's top cop.
The affair allegations Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) is facing down this week is one of those moments.

Here's the story: On Tuesday, the two-term governor fired the state's top cop. That same day, the now-fired top cop told that Bentley had been having an affair with one of his top advisers. And he said he could prove it.

The governor has denied affair rumors in the past, calling them "ridiculous." But he hasn't been able to shake that over the past year, whether in unsubstantiated blogs or in the halls of Alabama's capitol. There has been a rumor swirling he was having an affair with his chief adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. (Mason is married, but Bentley's 50-year marriage officially ended this fall, an abrupt ending that Bentley has said shocked him.)

What follows next is a tale of furtive glances at dropped cellphones, secretly recorded audio tapes and political intrigue. Head over to to read the whole drama from reporter John Archibald, who broke the story. Below are four of the most eyebrow-raising details from Bentley's affair allegations, as alleged by Spencer Collier, the former head of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, to Archibald.
The details have all the making of a stinky scandal among people altogether too close to each other. Get your popcorn ready for this one.

Trading one kind of smoke for another

Hotchkiss Colorado was a coal mining town. With the collapse of the coal business, Hotchkiss has lost its main support. Having spurned marijuana sales earlier, the good people of Hotchkiss are taking the time to reconsider their previous stand.
This mountain town of coal miners and organic farmers wasted no time in saying no to marijuana. After Colorado’s 2012 vote legalizing marijuana, local leaders concerned about crime and the character of their tranquil downtown twice voted to ban the recreational and medical pot shops springing up in other towns.

But then coal crumbled. One mine here in the North Fork Valley has shut down amid a wave of coal bankruptcies and slowdowns, and another has announced that it will go dark. The closings added to a landscape of layoffs and economic woes concussing mining-dependent towns from West Virginia to Wyoming. And as Hotchkiss searches for a new economic lifeline, some people are asking: What about marijuana?...

“People have been tightening the belt or just plain moving away,” said Robbie Winne, who runs The Rose, a secondhand clothing shop along Hotchkiss’s main street. She said she supported the marijuana plan as a way to entice more visitors, or at least capture some traffic as people passed through on their way to ski towns.

Like other supporters of marijuana sales, Ms. Winne said that while pot was no panacea, at least it could perk up business and tax revenues. Colorado collected about $135 million in taxes and fees from marijuana sales last year, and small governments have taken in millions from local sales taxes. In the tiny town of DeBeque, near the Utah border, officials told Colorado Public Radio that they were considering using the tax money from marijuana to start a scholarship fund or repair streets, curbs and gutters.

Wendell Koontz, a coal-mine geologist and the mayor of Hotchkiss, said it was not worth the price to pay. He said he worried about whether the three-person marshal’s office and small town staff were enough to deal with the complications of new marijuana businesses, and about the reputation of a place that proclaims itself the “Friendliest Town Around.”

“There’s a concern that kind of atmosphere could be lost,” he said. “And once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Others say it is time for a bold move. Mary Hockenbery, a New Mexico transplant who runs an eclectic art gallery in an old church, has been a leading voice behind the initiative. Coal is not coming back, she said, and though she and others have tried to spruce up the main street with cosmetic measures like new flower boxes, the town needs more.
Marijuana sales may fill up a few store fronts but it looks like too many people see weed sales in the same light as a casino, a financial savior for the town. But no casino yet has saved a town without a solid base to begin with. And coal was that base and what they need to replace.

Getting it ass backwards

As Der Trumpenfuehrer usually does.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

To Love Somebody

Lizz Wright does the Bee Gees classic right.

Cuba in one easy picture

From the pen of Matt Wuerker

R.I.P. Andrew S Grove

Or should I say Goodbye Mr. Chips.

Arizona, Idaho and Utah get up and do it!

Oh, That Biden Rule!

Samantha Bee takes on the McConnell gang

I missed that part of the Constitution

Monday, March 21, 2016

Heart Of Soul

Beth Orton from her 2006 album Comfort Of Strangers

Many wonder where Trump came from

And now thanks to the hard work of Tom Tomorrow, we can reveal the creation of The Incredible Trump in easy to understand pictures with word balloons.

President Mitch

From the pen of Jeff Danziger

It's not government regulation that is sinking Big Coal

That honor is going to the Banksters of America who are declaring their unwillingness to finance any more coal projects. The result is that after hauling away so many mountain tops, Mr. Peabody's Coal Company is itself being hauled away to bankruptcy court.
America’s coal industry is now facing another dark hour, but this time there are few financiers willing to save it.

Mr. Morgan’s bank, now JPMorgan Chase, announced two weeks ago that it would no longer finance new coal-fired power plants in the United States or other wealthy nations. The retreat follows similar announcements by Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley that they are, in one way or another, backing away from coal.

While coal has been declining over the last several years, Wall Street’s broad retreat is an ominous sign for the industry.

“There are always going to be periods of boom and bust,” said Chiza Vitta, a metals and mining analyst with the credit rating firm Standard & Poor’s. “But what is happening in coal is a downward shift that is permanent.”

On Wednesday the world’s largest private-sector coal company, Peabody Energy, said that it might have to file for bankruptcy protection, following a path already taken by three of the nation’s other large coal companies.

Peabody has been trying to sell three of its mines in Colorado and New Mexico to raise cash. But the sale to Bowie Resource Partners appears to have stalled amid the difficult financing environment. Bowie did not comment. A Peabody spokesman said the company “stands ready to complete the sale of assets to Bowie.”

Coal, like railroads, steel and other engines of the nation’s industrial expansion in the 19th and early 20th centuries, helped drive Wall Street’s profits for generations. More than a century later, the coal industry is in a free fall and the banks are pulling away.
Coal companies can deal with regulations, one way or another they have done so for years. One thing a coal company can't do without is financing. If the banks won't deal with you, Jack, you dead.

The Wall or Waffles

John Oliver looks at Donald Trump's Wall and proposes an alternative

When we vote, he wins and we win

Sunday, March 20, 2016

If you are going to Canada

When Trump wins the election, you will find many talented musicians there like Amelia Curran singing "Tiny Glass Houses"

When you absotively, posolutely don't want to vote.

From the pen of Brian McFadden

click pic to big

Everybody has a reason

Not voting is not a crime in this country though at the levels it has reached, it is seriously degrading the governing of our country. The Census Bureau as part of it current surveying has asked why people don't vote and received some interesting answers.
During the last presidential election cycle in 2012, well over a third of eligible American voters – 41.4% – didn’t vote. As part of its nationwide current population survey, the Census Bureau asked them why.

“Voting doesn’t matter” isn’t among the list of options on the questionnaire. Since you probably are a voter yourself, you might be surprised to find out that most of the 41.4% of eligible Americans who didn’t vote in 2012 provide reasons that don’t neatly fit under the category “apathy”.

The most common reasons given are “too busy, conflicting schedule” (which is given by 19% of people who didn’t vote) and simply “not interested” (16%). For the uncynical, that latter comes the closest to supporting the widely held theory that Americans simply don’t care enough to vote. But it still only explains part of the story.

Usefully, the Census Bureau also give us some clues as to what the real people behind those numbers look like. The demographic data suggests there’s a lot more to low voter turnout than apathy. It also suggests that the most obvious explanation for these responses – that social shame means people are tweaking the truth here – just doesn’t cut it.

Take “illness or disability” for example. Only 3% of 18-24 year olds who didn’t vote said it was for those health reasons compared to 42% of those age 65 and over. Age also makes a big difference in how likely someone is to say they were “out of town” – the youngest respondents were three times more likely than the oldest to give this reason. That also seems plausible since Americans age 18 to 24 are the most mobile age group in the country. The “out of town” response also varied with income – 24% of those earning $150,000 and over said it was why they hadn’t voted compared to 3.5% of respondents earning less than $10,000.

Simply getting to the polls is a problem for some – particularly black Americans. In the Census Bureau data, 6% of black Americans said they didn’t vote because of “transportation problems” compared with 3% of white Americans.

Once you have eliminated the responses “not interested”, “forgot to vote”, “didn’t like candidates or campaign issues” and (possibly ungenerously) “too busy” from the list of reasons, the remaining responses show that 49% of Americans didn’t vote because they believed they couldn’t vote or would face serious obstacles.
Half of those who didn't vote saw an obstacle to voting without the help of Republican Voter Obstruction. See, the Republican horrors of letting people vote were always imaginary.

Can't afford a lawyer in Louisiana?

You can count yourself among the truly fucked because even if one is provided for you by the state he has far to big a case load to to do anything more than ask your name. And even if the court orders an attorney to represent you pro bono, he may not know anything about criminal law.
The constitutional obligation to provide criminal defense for the poor has been endangered by funding problems across the country, but nowhere else is a system in statewide free fall like Louisiana’s, where public defenders represent more than eight out of 10 criminal defendants. Offices throughout the state have been forced to lay off lawyers, leaving those who remain with caseloads well into the hundreds. In seven of the state’s 42 judicial districts, poor defendants are already being put on wait lists; here in the 15th, the list is over 2,300 names long and growing.

A system that less than a decade ago was set on a course of long-needed improvement is succumbing to years of draining resources, just as the state is facing a fiscal crisis that could make things much worse. Judges throughout the state have ordered private lawyers to represent people for free, prompting objections from members of the private bar. Some lawyers being conscripted are tax and real estate lawyers without any background in courtrooms or criminal law: “No prior experience is necessary,” wrote a district judge in Lafayette in a recent plea for volunteers.

Here in the state with the country’s highest incarceration rate, hundreds of those without counsel are sitting in prison, including more than 60 people in New Orleans whose cases have either been put on a wait list or refused altogether by the local public defender’s office.

With felony caseloads already far above the professional standard, the public defender concluded that turning down cases was the only ethical option. In January, the American Civil Liberties Union sued over this in federal court.

With the state in deep fiscal distress, and with higher education and health care funding already slashed, further cuts to the public defenders are possible, and perhaps likely.

“Obviously, it’s an obligation that they have to be adequately funded,” said E. Pete Adams, the executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association. “But it’s also an obligation to fund a lot of other things in this state that are right now in jeopardy.”
Thanks to the genius of Jindal economics, Jindal Justice has blossomed across the state. But this is only the beginning. We can probably expect something similar in other Republican despoiled states like Kansas, Wisconsin and Michigan.

If you want to get even

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Doesn't matter how many times you were born

Irish singer/songwriter Brigid O'Neill has the right of it. "You're Never Gonna Get To Heaven"

Getting Mitch to yes

From the pen of Bill Day

'Looty' Leutkemeyer tries to impress his bosses

And instead of showing the American Bankers Association how tough he is, he got his ass handed to him by his erstwhile target Sen. Elizabet Warren.
"I've always seen myself more as a Princess Leia-type (a senator and Resistance general who, unlike the guys, is never even remotely tempted by the dark side)," she wrote. "Clearly the Force is not strong with Congressman Luetkemeyer (maybe he’s a Trekkie)."

Of the congressman's remarks, Warren wondered: "Why would he go out of his way to say something so sexist and offensive? Is he hostile to all women? Clueless? Afraid?"

Ultimately, she came to the following conclusion: "This is all about money."

"Luetkemeyer probably thinks that he’ll make big bucks from his Wall Street friends off of his sexist remarks," Warren wrote.

The congressman—who has received close to a million dollars from big banks, hedge funds, and credit card companies and ranks among the top 10 recipients of campaign contributions from payday and other short-term, high-interest lenders—is a "Wall Street yes-man," she charged, whose insult was "just one more way to earn chits and try to cash in big time with that audience."

"Let me be clear: No amount of offensive remarks will stop me from standing up to House Republicans who are bought and paid for by the big banks," Warren said. "And no amount of name-calling will keep me from fighting for Wall Street reform, for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and for real accountability when the big banks break the law."

She concluded: "They can call me Darth Vader or Voldemort or the Wicked Witch of Massachusetts for all I care—but I won’t be neutered. I won’t be muzzled. And I won’t stop fighting to level the playing field for working families."
And Looty Wormtongue crawled back into his hole.

Rather than waste $Millions fighting it

General Mills has decided to be the second major food processor to label GMO's in their products.
General Mills has announced it will start labeling products with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients, becoming the second major food company to make the transition following Campbell Soup’s decision last month.

The news comes as another blow to Big Food following the Senate’s rejection of Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-Kan.) Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (SAFE) Wednesday. The bill, dubbed by opponents as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, would have prevented states—namely Vermont—from requiring labeling of GMOs and stopped pending state laws that require labeling to go into effect.

Jeff Harmening, head of General Mills’ U.S. retail operations, addressed the national GMO debacle in a letter and explained that since his cereal company will be forced to label GMOs in Vermont by July 1—which is when the state’s labeling mandate takes effect—it should also extend GMO labeling to products sold across the nation.

He wrote in a letter, We need a national solution for GMO labeling, posted on the company website:

I have been eagerly awaiting a resolution of the GMO labeling debate in Washington and am disappointed that a national solution has still not been reached.

As the discussions continue in Washington, one thing is very clear: Vermont state law requires us to start labeling certain grocery store food packages that contain GMO ingredients or face significant fines.

We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers and we simply will not do that.

The result: consumers all over the U.S. will soon begin seeing words legislated by the state of Vermont on the labels of many of their favorite General Mills products.

The Cheerios maker’s announcement was praised by GMO labeling proponents. Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group group’s senior vice president of government affairs, said the decision reflects the sentiment of the majority of Americans who want to know if they’re eating GMOs.

“Nine out of 10 Americans want the right to know whether their food contains GMOs—just like consumers in 64 other nations,” Faber said. “Like General Mills, we hope Congress will craft a national, mandatory GMO labeling solution and welcome the opportunity to work with industry to find a solution that works for consumers and works for the food industry.”
Most people aren't old enough to remember, but we went through the same kind of happy horseshit just to get the ingredients listed on food packages. And we still don't know half the chemicals in our foods because of exemptions. This is a good time to start buying General Mills and Campbells products to make it clear to the others that there is an advantage to be had.

Marked down 30% this week only

Come browse the selection at Congressmans Wearhouse

Creeps and losers coming out of the woodwork

The lunatic base of the Republican Party along with all the unaffiliated filth and scum of this country is solidly in Der Trumpenfuehrer's corner. In response the Republican establishment elite are dragging out every body they can get their hands on in support of their Trump Lite, The Next Messiah, Ted Cruz.
The Texas senator got a big boost from anti-Trump forces Friday when 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney announced on Facebook that he would vote for Cruz in Utah, which has caucuses Tuesday. Former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, who ran for president in 1996, issued a statement endorsing Cruz as a “fearless leader” and promised to work for his election. Gramm was named the campaign’s senior adviser on economic issues and a liaison to members of Congress.

“This week, in the Utah nominating caucus, I will vote for Senator Ted Cruz,” said Romney, who stopped short of a full endorsement, saying he also liked the remaining contender, Ohio Gov. John Kasich...

Former Cruz-hater Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has endorsed Cruz, as well.

Cruz is about 230 delegates behind Trump and hopes to block him from winning the 1,237 delegates needed outright for the nomination by the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. If Trump falls short, that would open the convention to other competitors after the first ballot, in which delegates are expected to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged...

As part of a big fund-raising push, several of the pro-Cruz superPACs that operated separately have united under Trusted Leadership PAC. “We’re going for the late-breaking Ted Cruz vote,” said Kellyanne Conway, president of one of the groups, Keep the Promise I, who said in an interview that the combined superPac just received over $2 million in donations. “Trump gets his voters early.”
Romney still knows how to hedge a bet as he keeps one eye on Kasich, but Miss Lindsey Graham has gone whole hog for Ted, calling for more smelling salts as she lay prostrate on her fainting couch.

But can they dance on the head of a pin

Friday, March 18, 2016

Sierra stopped by Music City Roots the other day

And sang her "Lullaby" for the crowd. Music City Roots was nice enough to post the video.

It works both ways

From the pen of Kevin Siers

How to guarantee failure

If you are the Environmental Protection Agency, the proper political way to get rid of you is to pile on the regulatory tasks you have to perform, cut down the funding to perform those tasks and constantly harp about the shortfalls in performance. The Republicans and some Democrats have perfected this to an art.
The agency’s responsibilities have never been greater, and its resources have never been so strained. Created in 1970 by President Richard M. Nixon, the E.P.A. is charged with writing, carrying out and enforcing regulations under existing laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Its rules impose restrictions on business, industry and agriculture, limiting the amount and types of pollutants that can be emitted into the air and water, as well as where and how landowners can use their property. The regulations can sometimes impose billions of dollars of costs on industry, requiring companies to install expensive pollution control technology and in some cases to shut down polluting facilities.

But President Obama’s effort to combat global warming has transformed that mandate. The president’s climate policies require regulations so sweeping that the E.P.A. has essentially been tasked with transforming major sectors of the American economy, including the auto industry and the electric power sector, over the next decade.

Because those global warming regulations have been issued under the legal authority of an existing law, the Clean Air Act, it could be difficult for a Republican president to simply repeal them outright. But substantially weakening the agency that enacts the rules could effectively hamstring Mr. Obama’s climate change legacy.

Historically, environmental regulations have required polluters to install new equipment like so-called smokestack scrubbers and catalytic converters in cars, factories and power plants. But Mr. Obama’s current suite of climate change regulations, if enacted, would go far beyond that. The E.P.A. would effectively change how automobiles are propelled (with electricity, not gasoline) and how electricity is delivered (via wind and solar, not coal), said Bob Persciacepe, the agency’s deputy administrator during Mr. Obama’s first term.

“We are at a pivotal moment in time, when, in fits and starts, the world is dealing with climate change and every country has to play an important role,” he said. “E.P.A. has been put in the spot to do this. The weight on their shoulders is heavy.”

All of this is supposed to be accomplished under tight budgets imposed by a hostile Congress. The agency’s spending under Mr. Obama has been cut between 10 and 20 percent below the budgets of the previous three administrations, when adjusted for inflation. The agency’s budget has averaged about $8.8 billion annually under Mr. Obama, compared with (in today’s dollars) $9.7 billion under George W. Bush, $10.6 billion under Bill Clinton and $10.4 billion under the elder George Bush. The agency’s 15,408 employees are its fewest since 1989.

As the E.P.A. has taken on more work with fewer resources, problems have proliferated. Last year, after the E.P.A. accidentally spilled three million gallons of toxic wastewater from an abandoned mine into the Animas River in Colorado, a government report found that it lacks the technical skills to handle such tricky projects.

Meanwhile, the agency has also been criticized for its implementation of a regulation known as “Waters of the U.S.,” which would expand pollution controls over the nation’s rivers and streams.

“It’s clear E.P.A. cannot currently handle the issues on its plate,” Representative Scott DesJarlais, Republican of Tennessee, said Thursday.
It is clear that the EPA has been hamstrung by the coalition of polluter owned congressmen. And as anyone who has had to breathe dirty air or drink befouled water should realize, it is well beyond time to replace those bastards.

Because they placed themselves above the law

The question of when/if we the public will ever see the full Senate report on CIA torture has come down to whether the Senate ever relinquished control of the report.
Appellate judges on Thursday sounded rather skeptical about efforts to disclose a secret Senate committee report about harsh CIA interrogations.

The judicial doubts, in turn, reinforced the long odds against the public ever seeing even a redacted version of the highly sensitive report that took five years and $40 million to complete. Democratic senators attribute much of the cost to the CIA itself.

Judges, including a recent finalist for the Supreme Court, repeatedly pressed questions about the American Civil Liberties Union’s request for the highly sensitive report, which was prepared while Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

It’s a case in which Feinstein’s words matter; as do the sometimes competing words of her successor as committee chair, Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina. The key question is whether Congress surrendered control of the final report when Feinstein transmitted it to the executive branch in December 2014.

The Obama administration doesn’t think so, and at least one judge seemed to agree during a 35-minute oral argument Thursday.

“I think you’re straining real hard,” Senior Judge Harry Edwards told ACLU attorney Hina Shamsi, adding that “it doesn’t look like they gave up control.”

Control is important, because Congress exempted itself from the Freedom of Information Act. While the CIA is subject to the document-disclosure law, Edwards said Thursday that it seemed a “reach” to think that the spy agency ended up effectively owning the congressional report.

Informally dubbed the “torture report,” the 6,963-page document remains tightly classified, though a summary was released in December 2014. The inquiry details how the CIA during the George W. Bush administration detained suspects overseas and subjected them to brutally coercive but ultimately ineffective techniques.

The measures recounted in the 525-page public summary included dragging naked detainees across floors, depriving them of sleep for up to a week, threatening them with death and subjecting them to a forced “rectal feeding” with a puree of hummus, raisins, nuts and pasta with sauce.

Last May, while declaring that “this case is no slam dunk for the government,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected the ACLU’s bid to compel the release of the report.

Boasberg cited, in part, a June 2009 letter from Feinstein and Burr, in which they stressed that the “notes, documents, draft and final recommendations, reports or other materials” relating to the committee’s then-ongoing investigation would “remain congressional records” and thus “are not CIA records under the Freedom of Information Act” even if stored in a reading room at a CIA facility.
So many of our tax dollars paid for that torture and, thanks to modern espionage techniques, every other government that has any interest in it knows what the full report says. But the American public must be kept in the dark so that those who should have stopped the torture can maintain their dignity and power over we the people.

His true worth

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Covered all those dynamite tats

So you would concentrate on Beth Hart singing "Caught Out In The Rain"

Hillary responds to Trumpenfuehrer ad

With a masterpiece of stiletto precision

He still has a small dick

From the pen of Rob Rogers

It sure looks good on paper

But the Pentagon's prized, and very expensive, missile defense system is about to be deployed without any testing of a key component essential to its proper functioning.
The components, called alternate divert thrusters, are vital to the high-precision guidance required to intercept and destroy an enemy warhead traveling at supersonic speed – a feat likened to hitting one speeding bullet with another.

The interceptors, deployed in underground silos at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County and at Ft. Greely, Alaska, are the backbone of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) – the nation’s main defense against a sneak attack by North Korea or Iran.

The interceptors are multi-stage rockets, each with a 5-foot-long “kill vehicle” at its tip. The 150-pound kill vehicle is designed to separate from its rocket in space, fly independently at 4 miles per second and crash into an enemy warhead, destroying it.

The performance of the divert thrusters, which are supposed to keep the kill vehicles on course during their final approach to their targets, has been a source of concern for several years. In response, the Missile Defense Agency oversaw development of a new and supposedly better version, the alternate divert thruster.

An outside panel of experts privately advised the agency to put the alternate divert thrusters through “hot fire” testing, in which they would be revved up on the ground to see whether they burned smoothly and delivered adequate propulsion.

But in order to stay on schedule for a planned expansion of the GMD system, none of the 40 thrusters that are being installed on 10 new interceptors will undergo hot-fire testing, government officials told the Los Angeles Times.

Forgoing the tests “increases the risk for reliability issues going undetected,” according to a newly released report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The report says that such testing “verifies proper performance and workmanship.”
Gee, that sure makes me feel safer, knowing that the deployment schedule is of more importance than the proper functioning of a system that has long odds of success even if all things work properly. And all the $Billions spent on this project are, when all is said and done, pissed away. But promotions all around for meeting the all important deployment schedule.

So many things to say No to and so little time

The poor Republican Senate under Master Asshole Mitch McConnell just doesn't have the time to waste on that black guys Supreme Court nominee. At least, not until after the anticipated Republican disaster in November.
A day after Mr. Obama announced Judge Garland, who serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as his choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, the battle lines could hardly have been drawn more starkly.

“When it comes to filling the current Supreme Court vacancy, which could fundamentally alter the direction of the court for a generation, Republicans and Democrats simply disagree,” Mr. McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. “We simply disagree. Republicans think the people deserve a voice in this critical decision. The president does not. So we disagree in this instance and as a result, we logically act as a check and balance.”

Mr. McConnell said Republicans planned to move on with other important legislative business. Senate Democrats, by contrast, planned to step up their demands that Republicans hold hearings and a vote on Judge Garland, who won praise from several Republican senators when they approved him for the appeals court in 1997.

Senate Democrats, who have turned “Do Your Job” into a rallying cry in recent weeks, planned to walk across the street to hold a midday news conference outside the Supreme Court. Then, Judge Garland was scheduled to arrive at the Capitol for his initial meetings — first with Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and then with Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader.
A few of the more endangered Republican Senators have threatened to break away from the herd, but Mitch won't even talk to the man.

C'mon, is it really hard to understand?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

She has a good voice for this cover

Kristina Train, an American singer based in London, does a laudable version of the Sandy Denny classic "Who Knows Where The Time Goes"

People who play at civil war

Reach out to help those who know the real thing. Game of Thrones cast and HBO have partnered with the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit organization that works to provide global humanitarian aid to refugees in Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and more

Mrs Trump hits a bump

From the pen of Jeff Danziger

Oh, The Shame Of It All!

Imagine you are a rich Republican who likes giving money to the party. Now imagine giving money to that same party after they have nominated a misogynistic, racist bigot for president. Imagine the taint on your reputation and legacy if you support such a vile creature. And in real life some Republican donors are facing just such a situation.
As Donald Trump inches closer to becoming the U.S. Republican nominee, many of the party's big donors fear they will tarnish their reputations should they contribute to a candidate who has insulted women, Hispanics and Muslims.

Some flatly reject the notion of ever funding his campaign.

In interviews with Reuters, 22 members of the Republican money class spoke of the “anguish,” “struggle,” and “Catch-22” they now find themselves in, especially in light of the violence at Trump rallies and the candidate’s refusal to denounce it.

Two additional high-profile Republican donors, Gaylord Hughey of Texas, who backed Jeb Bush's Super PAC, and Ronald Firman of Florida, who poured more than $2 million into a conservative Super PAC, said they were still undecided and hoped Trump would tone down his inflammatory rhetoric and urge his supporters to eschew violence.

Trump won at least three states on Tuesday but his loss in Ohio means the Republican nominating convention in July may be contested if he falls short of winning a majority of delegates in the state-by-state contests.

Republican donors are a testing ground for Trump, who is under pressure to soften his tone to win independent voters. Even an unorthodox campaign like his is expected to need some money for television ads and staff should he reach the general election. The billionaire real estate developer may find it difficult to fund this with his own wealth.

Throughout the 2016 election, many establishment donors have viewed themselves as dedicated soldiers, willing to go to any lengths to prevent either Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, or her rival Bernie Sanders from winning the Nov. 8 election to succeed President Barack Obama.

But some Republicans said they worried that becoming a Trump donor could taint legacies, family names and personal brands. Many said they disagreed with his protectionist trade policies, his calls for the building of a wall on the Mexican border and his proposal for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Being what they are, there will always be some rich Republicans willing to give no matter how bad the nominee is. But the wide and deep streams of cash usually enjoyed by Republicans will be flowing less this year.

The President did his job, The GOP Slackers won't.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Originally written as Weed Smokers Dream

It was later modified with new lyrics as the more marketable "Why Don't You Do Right" and recorded by many singers since including Julie London.

Old habits die hard

From the pen of Dan Wasserman

Even God can't stand Ted Cruz

Samantha Bee presents the evidence

The Cuban Embargo is dead

Now is the time for Congress to stop jerking off and give it a decent burial. In advance of his trip to Cuba, President Obama has relaxed restrictions on travel, dollar exchange and doing business in general.
The new regulations include:

▪ Individual travel — Americans on people-to-people educational tours to the island used to have to travel in organized groups. Now they can plan their own itineraries as long as they keep records for five years showing they’ve engaged in a full-time schedule of educational exchanges.

Individual travelers can also make trips under the auspices of an organization that sponsors people-to-people exchanges in which case the burden of record-keeping falls to the sponsor.

“These changes, coupled with the arrangement recently announced by the Departments of State and Transportation allowing up to 110 non-stop flights daily between the United States and Cuba, will significantly increase the ability of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba to directly engage with the Cuban people,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

“We have enormous confidence in the American people to act as ambassadors for the things we care about,” said Rhodes.

But Americans still aren’t allowed to go to Cuba to lounge on the beach. “Travel for tourist activity remains prohibited by statue,” said Andrea Gacki, acting deputy director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

▪ Banking regulations — Treasury outlined a series of new banking regulations that could ease bankers’ reluctance to engage with Cuba. The new rules make it clear that U.S. financial institutions will be able to process cash, travelers checks and other U.S. dollar-denominated monetary instruments indirectly presented by Cuban financial institutions.

Correspondent accounts at third-country financial instruments also may be denominated in U.S. dollars, and U.S. banks will be allowed to open and maintain bank accounts for Cuban citizens in Cuba who receive payments in the United States for authorized transactions and send those payments to Cuba.

Funds may also be transferred from a bank outside the United States, pass through U.S. financial institutions and then be transferred to a bank outside the United States without worry about the stiff penalties of the past.

Decriminalizing the use of U.S. dollars in third-party transactions with Cuba has been a big issue for financial institutions that have been subject to billions of dollars in U.S. fines over the years. Rhodes said previous U.S. restrictions had “shut Cuba out from parts of the international financial community.”

As more Americans travel to Cuba, these U.S. visitors “will be dropping more and more dollars in Cuba and Cuba wants to be able to spend them,” said Augusto Maxwell, a Miami attorney who heads Akerman’s Cuba practice.

“Now they’re afraid of spending these dollars around the world because whenever they’re routed to a U.S. financial institution, the banks have seized them,” he said. With the rule change, now Cubans and the Cuban government “can use these dollars directly,” said Maxwell.

The changes also will “improve the speed, efficiency and oversight” of U.S. financial transactions with Cuba, said Gacki.

▪ Hiring — U.S. companies can hire Cuban nationals, in a non-immigrant status, to work or perform in the United States provided that no additional payments are made to the Cuban government related to their sponsorship or hiring. That means Cuban athletes, artists, performers and others who obtain the necessary visas will be allowed to come to the United States and earn salaries and stipends above their basic living expenses.

▪ Cargo — Vessels and aircraft leaving the United States with cargo for Cuba and for other destinations will now be able to call on Cuba and continue on their routes to make further deliveries without applying for a specific license.

▪ Exports — U.S. companies were allowed to open offices and establish a physical presence in Cuba under a previous rule change. Now they can export or reexport items to Cuba to establish and maintain those offices. The United States also will adopt a policy of case-by-case review of U.S. exports and reexports to Cuban entrepreneurs that would help the private sector export its own products.

▪ Grants and scholarships — Under a new provision, educational grants, scholarships and awards may be granted to Cubans.
And I hope President Obama invites the Castros to a return visit to the US so they can travel to North Carolina and jointly piss on Jesse Helms grave.

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