Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Nothin' Feels Right But Doin' Wrong

Sarah Shook & The Disarmers

Back to Abbie Normal

From the pen of Steve Sack

Eat Brussels Sprouts Day

We called them 'Poop Balls'

The Power of Doing Nothing

When the World's Greatest Orange Money Launderer is elected to the Presidency with help from his little Russian buddy, the first thing he has to look out for is an investigation from the Department of Justice. Putting one of your pet's in charge helps, but there is too much scrutiny at the top. One can always obstruct any investigation but that carries another set of risks. Or one could just leave a shitload of positions unfilled, providing no leadership or direction to those who can hang your criminal ass.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly emphasized the return of the rule of law during his presidency, but the department dedicated to enforcing the law has remained without key leaders since he took office.

Under the George W. Bush administration, executive branch nominees below the attorney general would be “dismayed” at having to wait two or three months between being named by the president and starting their new job, recalled a former U.S. attorney. Now, that “seems lightning fast.”

Among Justice Department positions still requiring Senate confirmations, assistant attorneys general and U.S. attorneys represent some of the most glaring absences. Taken together, less than half those slots have Senate-confirmed leaders.

Among both groups – who help provide leadership and set law enforcement priorities in national security, fraud, civil rights, cybercrime and many other areas -- less than half of the positions have leaders confirmed in the Senate process

But is the president or the Senate to blame? It depends who you ask.

Some former DOJ officials point to a broken system in a Senate hijacked by partisan battles, while others say President Donald Trump should be pushing harder for certain nominees, such as the two named to be assistant attorneys general for the National Security Division and Criminal Division. The fact that those nominees have not been confirmed demonstrates either a lack of understanding on their importance on Trump’s part, or damage done by his administration’s attacks on DOJ, said Megan Stifel, a former attorney in DOJ’s National Security Division who helped draft the FISA Amendments Act.

“What other explanation is there? This isn’t three months into his presidency, this is a full year later,” said Stifel, who characterized the absence of an NSD leader as “almost mind-blowing.”

“These are positions vital to our national security, they are not supposed to be political,” she continued. “The lack of a (Senate-confirmed nominee) raises more questions as the days go on.”

Trump has nominated people for nine of the 11 assistant attorney general positions, but the Senate has confirmed just four, leaving seven slots filled by temporary leaders.

Those are acting assistant attorneys general, but former officials say it isn’t the same. One practical issue is that among DOJ officials, only three people have the authority to sign applications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General and the Assistant Attorney General for National Security. In recent comments to the Palm Beach Forum Club, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the absence of a Senate-confirmed national security division leader meant he and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been trading off on signing the applications, which eats up about half-an-hour every day.

“It’s a daily exercise that has to get done,” said Stifel, who declined to characterize how many warrants are signed on an average day, citing security concerns.

(Any such applications related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign was involved would presumably fall to Rosenstein alone, since Sessions is recused from that matter.)

Former Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher said the main difference between confirmed and acting leaders is the ability to set a strategy on crime and then oversee its implementation.
Call it marking time or treading water, the temporary or acting personnel are place holders who keep the machinery running at idle waiting for someone to set the policy. And given the horrid policies of President Shithead that may not be all that bad. But where it is bad, it is dangerous to the safety and well being of the United States.

Stephen reviews SOTU

So much bullshit to wade through

Storm Daniels on Jimmy Kimmel

A Sad State

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Soul No. 5

Caroline Rose

A right way and a wrong way

From the pen of Pat Bagley

It never was meant to smoke

Industrial hemp is truly the plant with a thousand uses andall of them stifled in this country because of that flaming asshole Harry Anslinger. What few products are found in this country are made from foreign grown hemp and the profits sent overseas.
The Romans have been using it since the days of Julius Caesar, but not to get high. Both Washington and Jefferson grew it.

Now that several states have legalized the use of marijuana for some recreational and medical purposes, one of the biggest untapped markets for the cannabis plant itself — at least one variety — could be as a building tool.

The most sustainable building material isn’t concrete or steel — it’s fast-growing hemp. Hemp structures date to Roman times. A hemp mortar bridge was constructed back in the 6th century, when France was still Gaul.

Now a wave of builders and botanists are working to renew this market. Mixing hemp’s woody fibers with lime produces a natural, light concrete that retains thermal mass and is highly insulating. No pests, no mold, good acoustics, low humidity, no pesticide. It grows from seed to harvest in about four months.

A strain of the ubiquitous Cannabis sativa, the slender hemp plant is truly weedlike in its ability to flourish in a wide variety of climates, growing as high as 15 feet and nearly an inch in diameter. The plant’s inner layer, the pith, is surrounded by a woody core called the hurd. This is the source of the tough fiber, which can be used for rope, sails and paper.

Hemp is typically planted in March and May in northern climes, or between September and November below the Equator. Once cut, usually by hand, plants are left to dry for a few days before they’re bundled and dumped into vats of water, which swells the stalks. Those dried fibers are then blended for a variety of uses, such as adding lime. This creates block-like bricks known as hempcrete.

Industrial hemp contains a mere 0.3 percent of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the substance responsible for the buzz when smoking weed. The cannabis present at a reggae fest, for instance, contains as much as 20 percent.

The two strains look different, too. Hemp’s sativa is taller; the shorter indica has resiny trichomes accounting for its psychoactive power. The rule goes: the better the budding flower, the poorer the hemp.

Also unlike pot, you can’t grow hemp in an indoor hydroponics setup; the plant’s deep roots need to spread, so outdoor cultivation is required. The plant’s seeds and leaves can be eaten raw, dried into powder or pressed into oils.

Getting a mature plant in just a few months — with less fertilizer than needed for industrial crops like corn, and without chemical fertilizers or bug sprays — makes the potential for profit huge. As hemp taps water underground, its long roots circulate air, which improves soil quality — another boon for farmers looking to rotate crops.

Battling the plant’s powerful drug connotation might be the toughest hurdle for farmers and builders, and is possibly a more formidable obstacle during the Trump administration. The plant is still highly regulated.

This January, though, California legalized use of the plant in full. And the federal farm legislation of 2014 legalized hemp’s cultivation for research purposes in universities in states where it’s been approved by law. New York now funds a research initiative for as much as $10 million in grants toward hemp businesses, with participation in the pilot program from institutions that include Cornell University.

Still, in the United States special permits are needed to build with hemp, and the requirements can vary by county and state. The first modern hemp house was constructed in 2010, in North Carolina. There are now about 50 such homes in the country.
During World War II hemp prohibited status was lifted because the navy needed rope and hemp made the best. But when the shooting stopped, the hemp competition got the ban reinstated and know-nothings at all levels of government have kept it that way. It is time for this to stop.

Sounds positively subversive

What do you get when you put two of America's richest men and America's skeeviest banker together? One thing is a potentially game changing healthcare company.
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced on Tuesday that they would form an independent health care company to serve their employees in the United States.

The three companies provided few details about the new entity, other than saying it would initially focus on technology to provide simplified, high-quality health care for their employees and their families, and at a reasonable cost. They said the initiative, which is in the early planning stages, would be a long-term effort “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”

The partnership brings together three of the country’s most influential companies to try to improve a system that other companies have tried and failed to change: Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world; Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company led by the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett; and JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States by assets.

It also illustrates the rapid changes affecting the health care industry in the United States, where lines that have separated traditionally distinct sectors, like care provision and insurance, are increasingly blurred. CVS Health’s deal last month to buy the health insurer Aetna for about $69 billion is just one example of the shifts underway.

“It could be big,” Ed Kaplan, who negotiates health coverage on behalf of large employers as the national health practice leader for the Segal Group, said of the announcement. “Those are three big players, and I think if they get into health care insurance or the health care coverage space they are going to make a big impact.”

Mr. Kaplan said larger insurers were frustratingly inefficient when it came to fixing problems like people visiting the emergency room when they did not need to, or requiring a doctor’s visit for routine tasks like refilling a prescription.

“There should be a way to avoid things like that, but they’re not really innovating,” he said of the health insurance companies. “They’re talking a good game, but they’re not really doing it.”

He said Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase would face challenges such as assessing risk and other skills that competing insurers are skilled at, but that they could hire talented employees to provide that.

“The health care system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “Hard as it might be, reducing health care’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.”
So far it is only talk, but the potential is immense and the three men involved got noses as hard as anybody in the business world and the money and influence to walk any walk they talk about.

NAFTA has been good to agriculture

And that is why farm state Republicans have been worried about what our Bull-In-A-China-Shop in Chief President Shithead might end up doing as he tries to re-negotiate NAFTA.
Republican lawmakers from farm states have a loud, clear message for President Donald Trump: Don’t betray the rural voters who helped elect you by blowing up the trade agreements they rely on.

If you do, they’re warning, it could cost the Republican party in the 2018 midterm elections.

Rural state lawmakers want to hear reassurance from Trump in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that he won’t abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement. But they aren’t expecting it.

The president recently said pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement “would be frankly a positive for this country,” a quote that sent chills through the farming economy.

“You can talk about a better trade deal and push Humpty Dumpty off the wall, but putting Humpty Dumpty back on the wall is difficult,” said Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican who served on the Trump presidential campaign's Agricultural Advisory Committee.

“That’s the thing we want to avoid at all costs,” Roberts said. “You pull the trigger on that and you’re going to make a bad situation at farms even worse.”

Negotiators for the United States, Canada and Mexico sounded slightly more positive about the prospects for agreement on updating NAFTA after the sixth round of talks concluded Monday in Montreal. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters he hoped “We start seeing some breakthroughs between now and the next round” of discussions, slated for late February in Mexico.

Even if Trump stays with NAFTA, however, Roberts worried that agriculture could be a lesser priority in NAFTA renegotiations or even be used as some kind of bargaining chip to get a better deal for manufacturing.

Fooling with NAFTA’s rural provisions could be politically costly. Voters who live in rural areas gave Trump a 61-34 percent advantage over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to network exit polls. Kansans voted overwhelmingly for Trump, by 56-36 percent.

The rural vote will be a factor in some of the most competitive Senate and House elections in the country this November, including races in Missouri, Indiana and California.

Mexico and Canada are the number two and three destinations for U.S. agricultural exports, approaching a combined $40 billion in sales in 2016. Our northern and southern neighbors are particularly important markets for dairy, meat and grain grown in the United States. Sales of some key exports, however, have been slipping amid heightened competition and rising tensions between the Trump administration and the Mexican and Canadian governments.

Democrats Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Joe Donnelly of Indiana are seeking re-election in states the president won by double digits in 2016, making them some of the most vulnerable members of the Senate. Missouri ranked 13th among states in terms of agricultural sales in 2016, while Indiana was 10th, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

California, alone, produces more than a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. The California Farm Bureau Federation notes that Canada is the second largest export destination for the state’s agricultural products, while Mexico is fifth.
As the Orange Bumblefuck tries to impress his 'base' and hurt those who have offended his snowflake sensibilities, he may seriously hurt those who loved in '16 but whould hate him if he fucks up their markets. Until then everybody can only cringe and wait.

Broadcast whiplash

Stephen Colbert covers Fox Nooz and the Firing

His Plan Would Have Been To Hit A 2nd Iceberg

Seth Meyers takes a Closer Look

Sanctions? What sanctions?

Monday, January 29, 2018

If It's Alright With You

Catherine MacClellan

Tangerine battles The Chimera

Tom Tomorrow
brings us the full history of the decades long battle of the Deep State Chimera against The Tangerine Shitgibbon.

See No Evil Hear No Evil

Two from the pen of Bill Schorr

The New Loan Sharks

Now that the last loan sharking industry, payday lenders, have been protected from prosecution and inconvenience by the Trump administration, a new group of sharks are making themselves known as they try to take advantage of the wave of sexual harassment suits.
Accusations of sexual harassment have felled dozens of executives, but in one quiet corner of the financial world, the #MeToo movement looks like a golden opportunity.

Companies that offer money to plaintiffs in anticipation of future legal settlements are racing to capitalize on sexual harassment lawsuits.

That is setting off alarms in some quarters because the industry, like payday lenders, has a history of providing cash at exorbitant interest rates to customers who need the money for living and sometimes medical expenses.

The largely unregulated companies have operated with less public scrutiny than the rest of the litigation finance industry, which provides money to law firms to fund commercial lawsuits.

Historically, settlement-advance businesses have targeted personal injury and medical malpractice plaintiffs, many of them referred by their lawyers. But in recent months, lawyers say, more pitches are directed at women with sexual harassment claims.

For example, days after news broke of the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment, LawCash, a settlement-advance company, was trying to cash in. “Sexual abuse is a crime #HarveyWeinstein,” read a LawCash tweet. The Brooklyn company offered cash upfront to sexual abuse plaintiffs “if you or someone you know is in need of financial help.”

The settlement-advance firms get paid back only if a plaintiff collects money from a lawsuit. They make money by charging interest rates as high as 100 percent, which they are able to do because technically the money is considered an advance — not a loan — and therefore is not subject to state usury laws.

Consumer groups call the industry predatory. The companies counter that they are providing a vital service to people without other options.

Legal and business experts said there are scores of firms providing advances to tens of thousands of plaintiffs each year. The largest firms make cash advances totaling up to $40 million a year, according to an unpublished 2014 report by Diligence, a business intelligence firm.

Legal Bay of Fairfield, N.J., is one of the settlement-advance firms trawling for sexual harassment clients.

In one October news release, Christopher R. Janish, its chief executive, said he had “set aside a large portion of their presettlement cash advance funding specifically for plaintiffs of sexual harassment cases.” The next month, the firm trumpeted its “special focus for victims of unwanted sexual advances.”

Mr. Janish said he did not know if the pitches had landed any clients. “It just really is more of a public awareness and branding thing,” he said.
Contingency loans like contingency law suits lose more often than they win but there is still no call for charging 100% interest on money lent. Between legal fees and the advances there won't be much left for the plaintiff. But the lenders and lawyers will prosper.

New Wave

Three Annapolis graduates
are poised at the forefront of a new wave of Democratic politics. Hoping to leverage their military success into political success, these three women, building on the energy of the Women's March to become the first female Annapolis graduates in Congress. And they have the decency to be Democrats.
Their military journeys began at the United States Naval Academy, where Ms. Luria and Ms. McGrath were plebes together when Ms. Sherrill was a senior.

Now they are on a mission that no female Annapolis graduate has accomplished: to win seats in Congress.

A powerful wave of political activism is animating women in the era of President Trump, stoked by women’s marches and the movement to expose sexual misconduct. More than 390 women are running for Congress, a record number, and they are overwhelmingly Democrats.

But the three Naval Academy graduates, all Democrats themselves, are offering something that breaks through — the kind of military credentials and academy service that have propelled men to office since the founding of the country. And they are running in swing districts where military service is likely to resonate and where Democrats must win to wrest control of the House from Republicans.

“It’s incredibly important that I decided to serve my country before deciding to run for office,” said Ms. Sherrill, whose path to the House became easier on Monday when her Republican opponent, Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, announced his retirement. “That shows where my center is.”

But Democrats have the trickier task — flipping enough seats in often gerrymandered Republican districts to take the House. Ms. Luria is running in the Tidewater Region of Virginia, home to the world’s largest naval base and the headquarters of the Christian Broadcasting Network. If she wins her primary race, she is likely to face Representative Scott Taylor, a freshman Republican with his own military credential, as a Navy SEAL.

The district where Ms. McGrath is running in Kentucky sprawls across 19 rural and urban counties that include Lexington. But her contest, even with her compelling background, might be the toughest of the three. Many Democrats in Washington prefer her primary opponent, Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington, who is better known and can fund much of the race with his own money.

Ms. McGrath has gained a measure of celebrity with an initial campaign video highlighting her military experience and her criticism of Mr. Trump. It has attracted more than one million page views and, more important, generated more than $1 million in campaign contributions.

The New Jersey district that Ms. Sherrill is running in went for Mr. Trump by less than a percentage point, then voted for the new Democratic governor, Phil Murphy.

All three women lean heavily on their military backgrounds to promote their campaigns, with photos in uniform dominating their websites. But they also share the challenges of any first-time candidate: raising money, building an organization and avoiding rookie mistakes.
Facing opposition not only from Republicans but the Democratic establishment which has its own order of whose turn it is to run for an office, it is all uphill for them. But they faced that before when they entered the Naval Academy. The Democratic Party would do well to foster more candidates like these three.

Samantha Bee's Apology Race Around The World

Part 1

Part 2

The rot was evident years ago

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Smooth & Groovy

Lindsey Lou & The Flat Bellies

The upcoming GOP election campaign

From the pen of David Horsey

R.I.P. Addison Morton Walker

Sixty eight years drawing America's favorite goof off and all the other inhabitants of Camp Swampy, the base the Pentagon forgot. Beetle Bailey and all the others will miss you.

Cameras on Trump, Eyes and Ears on China

The Tangerine Shitgibbon may suck the oxygen out of a room when he enters, but China was right there bringing a breath of fresh air to the economic forum. And eating Tangerine's lunch at the same time.
President Trump used the World Economic Forum meeting to woo investors and business leaders by reassuring them that “America first does not mean America alone.” But it was clear in Davos, Switzerland, this past week that geopolitical momentum lay with Beijing, not Washington.

At one end of town, President Michel Temer of Brazil welcomed an unexpected offer from Beijing for Latin American nations to work closely with a Chinese initiative, known as the Belt and Road, intended to spread its economic and diplomatic influence abroad.

At the other end of town, a senior Chinese diplomat helped introduce the prime minister of Pakistan at a breakfast meeting. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi used his talk to praise the rapidly expanding Chinese investments in his country, including to build power stations and a large port.

One of the best-attended speeches at the forum was that of Liu He, a member of China’s ruling Politburo, who promoted the Belt and Road initiative, also known as One Belt, One Road. Participants here said the Chinese initiative was already rivaling more established, traditionally American-led, international institutions.

“The China One Belt, One Road is going to be the new W.T.O. — like it or not,” said Joe Kaeser, the chief executive of Siemens, the German industrial giant, referring to the World Trade Organization.

Belt and Road takes its name from the idea that Beijing is spreading its influence along the ancient Silk Road that once linked imperial China to the Roman Empire and to the medieval Europe of Marco Polo. But that was not the only push to extend its presence abroad that Beijing was trying to showcase.

Belt and Road has been a centerpiece of the foreign policy of President Xi Jinping, and his promises of a “China Dream” of restoring his nation to past greatness. Unveiled in Kazakhstan in 2013, Belt and Road started as a plan to revive economic, investment and diplomatic links across Central Asia.

The plan gradually extended to include the Mideast, Europe and eastern Africa, with Beijing promising hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in highways, rail lines, ports, power stations and other infrastructure, much of it through loans from Chinese state-owned banks

Critics have been skeptical that projects bankrolled through the initiative will bury the recipients in debt and cause considerable environmental damage. It has also been criticized as an easy line of financing for authoritarian regimes. China says its projects will be environmentally and financially sound, and that it does not seek a say in how other countries are governed.
President Shithead may want to Make America Great Again, but China is the one stepping into the vacuum left behind as other countries turn away from the arrogant asshole in the White House. Perhaps his motto should be Making China Great In Our Place.

Weekend Update

Good until Will comes out.

George W Bush expresses his gratitude

SNL cold opening

A Religiulous Mystery

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Sue Foley

Missing out on the latest trend in DC

From the oen of Bill Schorr

100 years ago

Just as the slaughter of The Great War was winding down, having killed approximately 20 Million people, the Spanish flu struck. Over a very short period of time it killed more than twice as many people as the war with a speed that astonished the medical community.
The flu arrived as a great war raged in Europe, a conflict that would leave about 20 million people dead over four years.

In 1918, the flu would kill more than twice that number — and perhaps five times as many — in just 15 months. Though mostly forgotten, it has been called “the greatest medical holocaust in history.”

Experts believe between 50 and 100 million people were killed. More than two-thirds of them died in a single 10-week period in the autumn of 1918.

Never have so many died so swiftly from a single disease. In the United States alone, it killed about 675,000 in about a year — the same number who have died of AIDS in nearly 40 years.

As the country muddles through a particularly nasty flu season — one that the Centers for Disease Control says has killed 24 children in the first three weeks of January and 37 since the start of the flu season — the 1918 nightmare serves a reminder. If a virulent enough strain were to emerge again, a century of modern medicine might not save millions from dying.

One hundred years ago, a third of the world’s population came down with what was dubbed the Spanish flu. (It got its name when the king of Spain, Alfonso XIII, his prime minister and several cabinet ministers came down with the disease.)

The flu brought life to a standstill, emptying city streets, closing churches, pool halls, saloons and theaters. Coffin makers couldn’t keep up with demand, so mass graves were dug to bury the dead. People cowered behind closed doors for fear they would be struck down.

In Philadelphia, news stories described priests driving carts through the streets, encouraging people to bring out the dead so that they might be buried.

In New York there were accounts of people feeling perfectly healthy when they boarded the subway in Coney Island and being taken off dead when they reached Columbus Circle.

Entire families succumbed.

In Tyler County, West Virginia, John Linza, his wife and two of their sons died on the same day. Two other sons died just days before them. The last Linza, an infant, died the day after his parents.

In the southwestern tip of Virginia, J.W. Trent, his wife and two sons fell ill. They were preceded in death by all four of their young daughters — Hattie, Mary, Ellen and Ruby.

In 10 weeks, the flu killed 20,000 in New York City and produced 31,000 orphans.
My father lived through the flu epidemic and service in World War II and he always said the flu was much more frightening than combat because the Army gave you a gun and taught you how to fight back. There was nothing to be done about the flu. And even now with modern medicine we might not be able to do much against a similarly virulent strain of flu.

Donny didn't say Boo

Like the late TV huckster Ron Popeil, President Shithead's speech at Davos was all about how America was open for business, when he wasn't talking about himself. But of all the industries the Tangerine Shitgibbon tried to boost, he forgot to mention the marijuana business.
President Donald Trump told world leaders that America is open for business. But one budding U.S. industry — marijuana growers and sellers — sees irony in this boast, which comes as they feel forced by the administration to invest millions in cannabis businesses across the border.

Take Privateer Holdings, one of the biggest U.S. venture capitalist firms in the cannabis industry, and MedMen, a major operator of dispensaries and production facilities. They are leading a group of U.S.-based cannabis companies that, having raised hundreds of millions in cannabis funding, are looking to Canada and overseas where their financing and investment is out of reach of regulatory roadblocks and the Trump administration’s threatened crack down on legal marijuana sales.

“Our hope is that this sounds the alarm,” said Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Privateer Holdings. “The United States is falling behind the rest of the world. Jobs, capital, investment is flowing to other countries.”

Trump took his “America first” speech Friday to the crowd of global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where he touted strong U.S. economic growth and tax cuts while pitching the United States as the ideal place for foreign business and investment. “Now is the perfect time to bring your business, your jobs, and your investments to the US,” Trump said.

Those in the cannabis industry, though, say the president’s sales pitch rings hollow.

“People would welcome that gesture, but there is nothing that is warm and fuzzy about his body language that would suggest that there is a green light and safe harbor to invest in marijuana,” said Matt Karnes of Greenwave Advisors, an industry financial firm. “His administration has made it clear there are still risks looming.”

The reason? U.S.-based cannabis leaders say it’s clear the Trump administration wasn’t thinking of the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry during Friday’s speech, which came just three weeks after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the administration would encourage enforcement of federal laws against marijuana use even in states that have legalized it.
Maybe it is Attorney Elf Sessions insane antipathy to marijuana that kept him from boosting it. And then again, maybe if he tried some for the improvement of his memory he might have remembered to mention it.

Samatha Bee on the Secretary of Foreheads

Are you there God, it's me Dumbass

Bill Maher looks at The Orange Monkey's racism

Chinese spy ??

Friday, January 26, 2018

Oh Cumberland

Matraca Berg w/NGDB

A lightning bolt up their ass might work

From the pen of Monte Wolverton

How to guarantee labor will lose

Demote essential senior civil servants so they must answer to political stooges. That way they would be incentivized to quit and be replaced with people who better understand what the president wants.

The Trump administration’s efforts to reverse the direction of federal labor policy appear to have accelerated with a proposal to demote the senior civil servants who resolve most labor cases.

Under the proposal, those civil servants — considered by many conservatives and employers to be biased toward labor — would answer to a small cadre of officials installed above them in the National Labor Relations Board’s hierarchy.

The proposal could pave the way for a pronounced shift in the day-to-day workings of the agency, making it friendlier to employers named in complaints of unfair labor practices or facing unionization drives.

Peter B. Robb, the agency’s general counsel and a Trump appointee, outlined the proposal this month in a conference call with the civil servants, known as regional directors, according to a letter sent by the directors to Mr. Robb.

The regional directors and their staffs typically resolve more than 85 percent of the roughly 20,000 cases filed with the agency each year over disputed labor practices without involving the general counsel, the top enforcement official.

The proposal follows a series of aggressive changes in posture at the agency since last fall, when Republicans gained a majority on the five-member board.

In early December, a mere two weeks into his tenure, Mr. Robb released a memo announcing the end of many of his predecessors’ initiatives, including a campaign against employers who improperly classify workers as contractors, and featuring a long a list of hot-button issues on which regional directors were required to seek input from his office.

“New general counsels will at some point signal cases they want to look at,” said Wilma B. Liebman, a former chairwoman of the labor board. “But this was so sweeping and so fast that it was just kind of startling.”

That same month, the agency overturned a key Obama-era ruling that had made it easier to hold companies responsible for labor-law violations at companies they do business with, such as franchisees and contractors.

Mr. Robb came to his position after a career largely spent representing management, including handling part of the Reagan administration’s litigation against the air traffic controllers’ union that waged an illegal strike in 1981. Most labor historians say the government’s hard line in firing the controllers contributed to organized labor’s decline in subsequent decades, said Joseph A. McCartin, a history professor at Georgetown University.

The labor board’s general counsel is confirmed by the Senate. The counsel has independent authority as a prosecutor, derived from the National Labor Relations Act, and performs other duties on behalf of the agency’s board, which acts as its highest court of appeals.

Demoting the regional directors — there are 26, including two vacancies — and inserting a new group above them would most likely require board approval. The regional directors’ account suggested that the new officials would probably be civil servants as well, rather than political appointees.

Michael J. Lotito, a lawyer with the management-side firm Littler Mendelson, who has discussed the proposal with officials at the agency, said they had assured him that it was largely a response to budget cuts reflecting a significant decline over several decades in the number of labor charges filed.

He said some of the savings could come from staff reductions among managers and supervisors at the regional offices, achieved in part through attrition.

The agency itself said that “given budgetary issues, the general counsel is assessing the current organizational structure for possible changes,” but added, “No specific plan involving the restructuring of our organization has been developed.”
Combine traditional Republican underfunding with the insertion of political termites and you can eliminate any protections labor might have enjoyed in the past. Just another stall in the Augean Stables that Trump and his handlers are creating in what was once a functioning government.

Leave the money on the dresser

Stephen does Donny

See them in a different light

Trevot Noah explains the Republican smear campaigns against the Mueller team

Know your enemy

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Pay Us No Mind

The Staves

Another Trump win

From the pen of Jim Morin

Trump's America First will make America last

And the meeting at Davos is making that clear to anyone paying attention. While President Shithole fusses and sputters nonsense, the other nations present are working on as many as 35 trade pacts, only one involving the US.
President Trump is arriving at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to explain his “America First” approach at a moment when the world is moving ahead with a trade agenda that no longer revolves around the United States.

The world marked a turning point in global trade on Tuesday, when 11 countries agreed to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, announcing they had finalized the pact and expected to sign a deal on March 8 in Chile. It was a remarkable moment for a beleaguered agreement that was conceived and constructed by the United States, then abandoned by Washington when Mr. Trump took office last year.

As the world’s largest economy and architect of many international organizations and treaties, the United States remains an indispensable partner. But as the global economy gains strength, Europe and countries including Japan and China are forging ahead with deals that do not include the United States.

Thirty-five new bilateral and regional trade pacts are under consideration around the world, according to the World Trade Organization. The United States is party to just one of them, with the European Union, and that negotiation has gone dormant. The United States is also threatening to withdraw from one of its existing multilateral agreements — the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada — if it cannot be renegotiated in the United States’ favor.

“Maybe there was some sort of presumption on the part of the president and his team that if the U.S. said stop, this process would come to a halt,” said Phil Levy, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and an economist in the George W. Bush administration. “What this shows is that’s not true. The world just moves on without us.”

In July, Japan signed a wide-ranging new trade deal with the European Union — a step the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, referred to as hoisting “the flag of free trade high amidst protectionist trends.” The European Union pushed ahead with a major update to its agreement with Mexico, while China pursued a pan-Asian agreement, among other deals.

Business interests in the United States are watching with alarm as other countries strike agreements that exclude American exporters. For example, ranchers in Canada and Australia will be able to sell beef at lower prices in Japan than their American competitors, who will be subject to higher tariffs because the United States is not party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The other nations are not just peremptorily ignoring the US because they can't afford to give up the US market, but neither can they embrace the Tangerine Shitgibbon because they know they can't trust his word and never know when he will start flinging poo to please his MAGAts. It's a narrow path to walk.

SuperPac money for honest government?

Not two ideas you normally see together in the same sentence, but it is currently happening in Missouri as large cash donations to a group called Clean Missouri has Republicans worried about their 'rice bowls'.
A proposed ballot measure that would make sweeping changes to state government is picking up momentum — and cash.

Missouri Republicans are starting to take notice.

A group called Clean Missouri has been collecting signatures to put a constitutional amendment before state voters that would ban all lobbyist gifts to legislators larger than $5; require legislators and their staff to wait two years before becoming lobbyists after they leave the Capitol; and rework how legislative districts are drawn.

Earlier this month Clean Missouri received a $250,000 donation from MOVE Ballot Fund, a St. Louis-based political action committee connected to a nonprofit of the same name.

Three days before the donation to Clean Missouri, MOVE received a $300,000 donation from the Open Society Policy Center, the lobbying arm of liberal billionaire George Soros’ philanthropic network. MOVE reported raising only $100 before that donation.

Sam Cooper, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, said the donation was an example of hypocrisy by Democrats, who have hammered GOP-aligned groups over the last year when they’ve taken steps to shuffle money around to conceal its source.

Cooper keyed in on the provisions in the ballot measure that would reform legislative redistricting.

“Under the guise of ‘Clean Missouri,’ they’ve accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from George Soros in order to rewrite the Missouri Constitution in an attempt to disenfranchise Missouri voters,” Cooper said. “I wish I could say I was surprised, but after years of getting their tails kicked at the ballot box, I guess using Soros money to redraw legislative districts is the only chance they have of winning.”

The comparison between the Clean Missouri donation and GOP-aligned nonprofits working to obfuscate donors is inaccurate, said Molly Fleming, the group’s executive director, because MOVE set up its PAC specifically to be as transparent as possible about its efforts to support Clean Missouri.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity presented by the Clean Missouri effort to make our state government more open and accountable,” Fleming said. “Big money and political insiders have been running the show for too long — leaving working people out in the cold.”

Sean Nicholson, executive director of Clean Missouri, said the group’s proposal has earned “support from across the political spectrum because everyone can see what’s been going on in Jefferson City. We’re all ready to restore integrity, transparency and accountability in our state government.”

The redistricting provisions of the proposed ballot measure would turn over the task of drawing legislative districts to a nonpartisan expert, whose work would then be reviewed by a citizen commission. Competitiveness would be a required criteria for drawing districts, and an independent state demographer would help create the maps, which are set to be redrawn after the 2020 census.

The goal, according to Clean Missouri, is to ensure legislative maps are drawn fairly, rather than being drawn to protect incumbents or to unjustly favor one party.
Wow! Limiting lobbyist gifts and fair re-districting, no wonder the Republicans are concerned and already rolling out the big lies to muddy the waters. The very idea of fair elections has them pissing themselves.

How America Hacks Its Own Elections

Trevor Noah looks at Gerrymandering

Stormy Weather

Seth Meyer's takes a Closer Look at Trump's hush money payment

We let the NRA put her in danger

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Young Adult

Inara George

God responds to conservachristian frauds

Now that's an ugly gargoyle!

From the pen of Jack Ohman

Trump gets back to "work"

And Stephen works him over

One group did lose in the Trump Shutdown

Trevor Noah remembers the Dreamers

The Many Faces of Donald Trump

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Gretchen Peters

By a draft dodger, no less.

From the pen of Jeff Danziger

Getting a raise from the tax bill?

Don't hold your breath. Since the passage of the bill anumber of companies have given bonuses to their workers but few have given raises. And expectations that corporations that have sat upon huge piles of cash investing in their companies or their workers may easily exceed reality.
For the most part, though, they are not indicative of the windfalls that companies are reaping from the $1.5 trillion tax law — and how much of that money that might trickle through to workers in the years to come.

Companies are acknowledging this in their fourth-quarter earnings reports and other financial disclosures, which earmark just a sliver of their future tax savings for direct and indirect investments in workers.

Bank of America’s bonuses will cost the bank $145 million in 2018, or about 5 percent of the nearly $2.7 billion in savings it is expected to reap in 2018 from a lower, 21 percent corporate tax rate. Apple’s bonuses will cost $300 million, a fraction of the $40 billion, at least, that the tech giant is saving from a single provision in the law, which allows it to return earnings held overseas at less than half the rate it would have paid under the old system.

And two days before Walmart snagged glowing headlines for handing out $400 million in bonuses and lifting its minimum wage at a cost of $300 million, the nation’s largest retailer by sales unveiled a plan to buy back company-issued debt. The cost of the buyback: $4 billion.

The gap between what companies are saving and how they are, so far, rewarding workers, doesn’t mean that the new law won’t eventually lead to substantial wage increases. Economists across the political spectrum agree it’s simply too soon to tell whether — and to what degree — that will happen.

The flurry of high-profile bonus announcements “are hard to interpret,” said Mihir Desai, an economist at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School whose research supports the idea that corporate tax cuts lead to at least modest wage increases. “They may well be evidence for these gains, but just as well may be an example of savvy public relations. The reality is we’ll have to wait for a few years and good empirical work to really know the answer.”

Before Mr. Trump signed the tax bill in December, few companies had committed to rewarding workers if it passed. Since then, more than 200 have pledged bonuses, wage increases or other benefits for employees that are specifically tied to the new law, which includes deep cuts to business tax rates. The new law lowers the corporate rate to 21 percent, from a previous high of 35 percent, and it includes a 20 percent deduction for many owners of so-called pass-through companies, who pay taxes on their profits at individual income tax rates.

Republicans have celebrated the bonus announcements as part of a concerted party strategy to build public support for the new law. “Tax reform is working,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, said on Thursday, before citing the Apple bonus announcement. “Workers are coming home and telling their families they got a bonus, or they got a raise, or they got better benefits.”

The bonus announcements are, in some ways, a relatively easy opportunity to generate positive headlines and, perhaps, curry favor with Mr. Trump.

“Certainly, a lot of what you’re seeing is bonuses, rather than wages. It’s a one-time thing — you don’t have to do it again. It’s political, obviously. It’s P.R.,” said Jim O’Sullivan, the chief United States economist at High Frequency Economics.
One time events and when time comes to give out raises, who will remember if they don't show up?

Big Oil will profit

But will there be any advantage for Republicans from the Tangerine Shitgibbon's offshore drilling plans? We can assume that Interior Secretary "Hinky" Zinke will benefit but what of others?
As coastal Republicans in Florida and the Carolinas lobby the Trump administration to exempt their states from new offshore oil drilling plans, their GOP counterparts in California have largely been silent, apparently torn between angering voters at home and upsetting their pro-drilling colleagues in Congress.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has already said he will exempt Florida from expanded offshore oil drilling, after that state’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, objected to the Jan. 4 announcement. U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, a Republican from coastal South Carolina, has been seeking an exemption for his state, and Zinke quickly contacted him after Sanford criticized the decision on CNN.

In California, however, the 14 Republicans in the U.S. House have been cautious on the issue, in part because several face tough 2018 campaigns. Two of those, Ed Royce of Fullerton and Darrel Issa of San Diego County, have already stated they will not seek reelection. Some of Trump’s other policies, such as changes in the new tax law that hurt blue states such as California and New York, are already giving Democrats wedge issues they can use against opponents.

“If there is an endangered species in California, it is the Southern California oceanfront Republican,” said Bill Whalen, the chief speechwriter for former California Gov. Pete Wilson and now a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution. The demographics are changing in Southern California, and opposition to Trump’s policies, and Trump himself, is hurting GOP prospects in some districts, he said.

So far, Issa is the only California House Republican member to criticize Trump’s drilling plan, which he did six days before announcing he was stepping down. A spokesman for Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, said the congressman was supportive of the proposal, but said he was not available to explain why.

Other GOP lawmakers, including Royce, Mimi Walters of Orange County and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, have not issued statements and their offices did not respond for comment.

Zinke announced his plan on Jan. 4 to offer 47 new offshore leases in federal waters off of Alaska, the west coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast. He said the leases would “strike the right balance to protect our coasts and people while still powering America and achieving American Energy Dominance.”

Lawmakers in Alaska, Louisiana and other oil-friendly states applauded the plan. But leaders in states dependent on coastal tourism, including California, Oregon and Washington, have harshly criticized it.
Every coastal state stands to be damaged by off shore drilling and given the way this administration has operated it is likely that the leases will be off the coasts of blue states. Florida may have Mar-A-Shithole but the Carolinas, for example, have many Trumpoons who love vacationing on their beaches.

Hooray! We got 3 more weeks!

Trevor Noah exposes the joke

Trump blames the President for Trump Shutdown

Seth Meyers Takes A Closer Look

After only one year

Monday, January 22, 2018

Show Your Colors


When you make your own news

Like Trump you get to cycle it in your own fashion, as Tom Tomorrow shows us.

The whole world is stunned

From the pen of David Fitzsimmons

Little Crappy Ship stuck in the ice

Because the decommissioned light cruiser USS Little Rock noe resides in Buffalo harbor, the Navy decided it would be a good idea to commission the next Little Rock, one of the over priced and under capable Little Crappy Ships program, in Buffalo. Between a few delays in its departure and a wicked cold spell, it is now stuck in the ice at Montreal.
The commissioning of the USS Little Rock was held in Buffalo last month, on a day so cold that people’s breath billowed through the air as they spoke.

Partway through the ceremony, snow began falling — sideways — on the thousands of attendees.

It might have been a sign.

Still, none of it stopped a string of military officials and a bundled-up delegation from Arkansas from singing the praises of the Navy’s newest warship for more than an hour.

One Navy official spoke of the combat ship’s “adaptability, speed and maneuverability.” A Navy chaplain bowed his head in prayer to bless the Little Rock before it sailed to its home port, Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville.

“We commend this ship, the USS Little Rock, to your care and divine providence,” the chaplain said. “Grant them fair winds and following seas.”

Despite the benedictions, the ship’s maiden voyage has gotten off to a rather inauspicious start. A week after it was commissioned, as it made its way up the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the USS Little Rock became trapped by ice near Montreal.

It has remained stuck there since Christmas Eve, the Toronto Star first reported, thanks to “unusually heavy ice conditions.”

A Navy spokeswoman told The Washington Post that other ships had made it through the area without trouble in late November and early December. Because of bad weather, the USS Little Rock’s departure from Buffalo had been pushed back after its Dec. 16 commissioning, and it was further delayed during a routine port visit in Montreal, she said.

“Significant weather conditions prevented the ship from departing Montreal earlier this month and icy conditions continue to intensify,” Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson said in a statement. “The temperatures in Montreal and throughout the transit area have been colder than normal, and included near-record low temperatures, which created significant and historical conditions in the late December, early January timeframe.”

Temporary heaters and 16 de-icers have been added to the USS Little Rock, and its crew members — some 70 officers and personnel in all — have been given new cold-weather clothing while staying on the ship for training and certification during the delay, Hillson added.

“Keeping the ship in Montreal until waterways are clear ensures the safety of the ship and crew, and will have limited impact on the ship’s operational schedule,” she said. “While in port, the crew of Little Rock will continue to focus on training, readiness and certifications.”
This is bad and good. The Little Rock will stay until the ice is gone because its hull is too thin to hazard a trip through ice filled waters. The extra time will allow for more training so hopefully it won't hit any other ships in passing. Now if it was only mission capable or even had a mission.

R.I.P. Bradford Dillman

You were not really a bad guy, you were just trying to feed 6 kids.

Like watching Republicans govern

Rattlesnake Ridge like its namesake critter is in the process of shedding a large portion of the ridge. A 20 acre portion, about 4 million cubic yards. Currently it is moving at a rate of about 2 and a half inches a day but that may change.
The fissure was first spotted in October on Rattlesnake Ridge in south central Washington State, overlooking Interstate 82 and the Yakima River. Since then, a 20-acre chunk of mountainside — roughly four million cubic yards of rock, enough to fill 25 football stadiums to the top of the bleachers, eight stories up — has been sliding downhill. Geologists can measure its current speed — about two and a half inches a day — but they cannot say for certain when, or if, it might accelerate into a catastrophe. And they are powerless to stop it.

“The mountain is moving, and at some point this slide will happen — it’s just a matter of when,” said Arlene Fisher-Maurer, the city manager in Union Gap, population about 7,000, just north of the ridge.

The usual course of events when nature comes unhinged is for researchers and responders to look back in time, trying to understand what happened, as they assess and address the damage done. Here it is precisely the opposite: They are looking forward in time at a disaster in waiting, in which all is still potential and nothing is certain.

The worst-case scenarios — considered unlikely but possible — have the slide breaking loose suddenly and roaring down toward the Yakima River, blocking the channel and flooding the valley, or burying the interstate that runs along the river, carrying 30,000 vehicles a day. Either would mean big trouble for a rich agricultural district where apples and hops are king, about two and a half hours’ drive from Seattle.

By giving scientists, officials and the people who live nearby so much time to stew over what could be happening, the slow-motion nature of the slide — at least so far — has already created tensions. About 75 people have been evacuated from nearby houses that may or may not ever be damaged. The local road at the foot of the hillside has been closed. Irrigation canal operators stand ready to open dams and take water from the river if it is blocked by a rock slide. Alternate highway routes have been mapped out, in case the interstate becomes impassable.

Current projections, based on dozens of motion sensors that have been installed on the ridge, suggest that the collapse is most likely to happen sometime in late February.

“In a lot of disasters, you don’t have as much warning as months — hardly any,” said Jeff Emmons, the emergency management director for Yakima County. “It’s a unique thing.”

In the last few weeks, the main mass of rock has been moving toward a gravel quarry at the base of the ridge. The company that runs the quarry has stopped operations and has voluntarily offered to put up evacuated residents in nearby hotels for five weeks at its own expense, though the cause of the crack has yet to be formally determined.

Some things, though, are clear. The slide is occurring in a rumpled layer cake of volcanic rock, or basalt, laid down by eruptions that began about 17 million years ago, interspersed with thin deposits of silt and other sediments. Over time, the layers have folded upward, forming the ridge, and the topmost basalt layer is now sliding over the sedimentary layer beneath it.

Many landslides are caused by infiltration of rainwater or groundwater, but geologists think that water is not involved in this case at all, just gravity.
A slow motion disaster that can't be stopped, can only be watched. Like watching the Republicans in DC try to run a government. And despite the long lead time, it will be ignored by President Shithole when it happens.

The best representation of Us is Us

Samantha Bee talks to the real forgotten working class

Just like a real press conference

SNL Open

To all past and present members of the military

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sixth Sense

Imelda May

Evangelical End Times

From the pen of Pat Bagley

A lying young twit as Deputy Chief of Staff

The Office of National Drug Control Policy may not be the biggest mover and shaker in Washington DC but drug policy can be a matter of life and death to some people. In the Trump administration the policies are so important that a lying 23 year old has been appointed Deputy Chief of Staff.
While in college, late in 2014 or early in 2015, Taylor Weyeneth began working as a legal assistant at the New York firm O’Dwyer & Bernstien. He was “discharged” in August 2015, partner Brian O’Dwyer said in an interview.

“We were very disappointed in what happened,” O’Dwyer said. He said that he hired Weyeneth in part because both men were involved in the same fraternity, and that the firm invested time training him for what was expected to be a longer relationship. Instead, he said, Weyeneth “just didn’t show.”

In a résumé initially submitted to the government, Weyeneth said he worked at the firm until April 2016. When an FBI official called as part of a background check in January 2017, the firm said Weyeneth had left eight months earlier than the résumé indicated, O’Dwyer said.

A spokesman at the Office of National Drug Control Policy — where Weyeneth, 24, is deputy chief of staff — said Weyeneth was unavailable for comment. In replies to The Post, the White House did not address questions about Weyeneth’s work at the law firm.

An administration official previously said that Weyeneth revised his résumé to correct “errors.” In a revised résumé, Weyeneth said he worked at the law firm from November 2014 to August 2015. Details of his time there and the circumstances of his departure have not been previously reported.

A Jan. 14 Post story detailing Weyeneth’s rapid rise at the drug policy office, or ONDCP, prompted 10 Democratic senators on Wednesday to write President Trump. The lawmakers, including Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), expressed “extreme concern” about Weyeneth’s promotion and unfilled drug policy jobs.

“You have claimed that the opioid epidemic is a top priority for your administration, but the personnel you have staffing these key agencies — and the lack of nominees to head them — is cause for deep concern,” the letter said.

Following his graduation, in May 2016, Weyeneth served as a paid member of Trump’s presidential campaign and then as a volunteer with the transition, arranging housing for senior administration officials. He worked closely with Rick Dearborn, now White House deputy chief of staff.

Weyeneth’s only professional experience after college and before becoming an appointee was working on the Trump campaign and transition.
One can only imagine the depth of the brown ring around his nose. Unless he is someone's boy toy.

The man has the body of a seal

Weekend Update has Stormy Daniels and Robert Mueller as guests.

He is polite

Saturday, January 20, 2018

No Man's Land

Kristina Train

Hats in the ring

From the pen of Kevin Siers

On the March again

Women around the country and around the world
are taking to the streets, inspired by the failed government of Donald Trump they are protesting and networking to build the movement for change.
usting off pink knit hats and brandishing colorful signs, marchers gathered Saturday in the shadow of the capital’s Lincoln Memorial, in midtown Manhattan and in scores of other venues across the country — not aiming to recreate the record-shattering crowds of the Women’s March a year ago this weekend, but vowing to make a mark at the ballot box.

Seeking to send a message of female empowerment and solidarity in the face of a divisive presidency that began a year ago Saturday, activists staged protest marches and voter-registration drives, with the #MeToo movement of recent months serving as a dramatic inflection point.

In Los Angeles, crowds gathered in Pershing Square for a rally before marching to Grand Park in front of City Hall.

The lineup was celebrity-heavy: Scheduled to take the stage were Scarlett Johansson, Megan Mullally, Olivia Munn, Olivia Wilde and Alfre Woodard.

Scarlett Cunningham-Young, 11, stood next to eight of her friends and their families, holding a sign with a quote by Malala Yousafzi. It was her second year attending the women’s march and she said she felt inspired being around the thousands of other marchers.

“I hope that this country wakes up and realizes that women and girls have voices too,” she said.

Sarbjit Singh, representing the group Sikhs of LA, set up a stand in Grand Park to feed marchers as they arrived.

“We’re here for human rights and we’re here for women’s rights,” said Singh as handed out bowls of rice and curry to bystanders. Volunteers also passed out tea and water.

In New York, crowds were backed up for dozens of blocks leading to the rally site on the edge of Central Park. Marchers in sashes with the words #MeToo and #TimesUp were at a standstill on side streets where pink "No Parking" police signs on barricades blocked off sidewalks.

Deborah Seidman, 58, created a design in the shape of a woman's body with the words "MeToo" and a raised fist in the center. Another marcher had a sign that read "I'm with her," with arrows pointing in every which direction.

Allies also took to social media to show support. “Last year was the reckoning — this year is the battle,” tweeted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In Washington, groups gathered under crystal-clear skies, with the monuments of the National Mall as an iconic backdrop. Brazilian drummers warmed up the crowd to cheers.

Nearly within shouting distance, President Trump was in Washington, having delayed a planned trip to his Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, as a government shutdown took hold and lawmakers scrambled to negotiate a compromise.

More than 4,500 people marched through downtown Dallas. Many said they felt the need to demonstrate that Texas, a historically red state, is rapidly diversifying, especially in its largest cities.

"I'm rooting for Texas to become a swing state," said Andres Ramirez, 35, of Ft. Worth, who works in a call center and is campaigning for the Democrat who is attempting to unseat local U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions.

Attorney Marita Covarrubias, 54, brought her 17-year-old daughter and friend. "Living here in Texas, you don't see a lot of social activism," said Covarrubias, who grew up in Santa Monica and graduated from UC Berkeley. "Unfortunately things have not improved over the past year. Women really need to get together to take action on these issues."

In Atlanta, thousands of activists gathered at a squat, brightly painted warehouse in a poor but gentrifying neighborhood southwest of downtown as organizers set up booths on voting, women’s healthcare and civil rights.

Rather than march again, organizers of Power to the Polls planned the event to inspire more progressive candidates to run for office, register voters and educate activists on how they can effectively mobilize people to vote.

The point is to go beyond another feel-good moment, said Janel Green, one of the organizers of the Atlanta Women’s March last year. “We’ve already mobilized,” she said. “It’s time now to translate that momentum into impacting elections. We’ve got to develop strategies to mobilize and inform voters.”
Getting together is the beginning of what will come. Some of the special election results so far have benefitted a lot from what happened last year. May this year bring forth bigger and better results.

Trevor tries to explain Trump on Immigration

From the Daily Show

Stephen of Trump's first

How did we ever survive.

A #TrumpShutdown should distract them

Friday, January 19, 2018

One Of These Days


Got to make those quotas

From the pen of Steve Sack

Es la ley

Ok, I used Spanish in the header just for fun but there is a law that requires top level White House staffers to submit financial disclosures and have them certified by the Office of Government Ethics. This is supposed to be a check on them using their offices for self enrichment. So far 5 top level staffers still have not had their disclosures certified.
A year into Donald Trump’s presidency, records show five of his top staffers still have not secured final approval of their financial reports — disclosures that are required by law to ensure Americans that these senior officials aren’t personally benefiting from their White House jobs.

Another four staffers received certification by the Office of Government Ethics after McClatchy first requested their forms last month.

The delay is likely due to Trump staffers either refusing to disclose mandated information to OGE, failing to resolve a conflict of interest or violating an ethics law or regulation, according to two ethics experts familiar with the long-standing process. But delays can also occur when White House ethics officials don’t force staffers to comply or because OGE is behind on paperwork.

The number of Trump staffers without certification a year after inauguration is not normal, according to Walter Shaub, who served as OGE director until he quit in protest in July and joined the Campaign Legal Center. “That’s a high rate of failure or delay—and those are the ones the White House knows OGE will review, so the problem might be even worse with the reports that don’t come to OGE,” he said.

The forms are part of an ethics process designed to identify potential conflicts of interest after an examination of staffers’ sources of income, assets and debts.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said the administration is working to get forms certified. “The process of getting a final certification from OGE is lengthy and tedious, just as it is with presidential nominees,” she said. “We will continue to work closely with OGE until this process is complete.” OGE declined to comment.

Ethics experts say the administration has failed to make ethics a priority despite the president’s repeated pledge to “drain the swamp” of business as usual in many ways. From the moment Trump resisted calls to place his vast business holdings in a type of trust he doesn’t control or benefit from, his team has disregarded ethics requirements and norms.

For example, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner -- both of whom are top aides in the White House -- were fined for late financial reports and several top White House staffers, including former chief strategist Steve Bannon, failed to file termination reports after being fired last summer.

“The White House has resisted being held accountable for substantive ethics standards,” said Kathleen Clark, an ethics lawyer who previously worked for the Washington, D.C. government and the Senate Judiciary Committee and now teaches at Washington University School of Law. “There have been repeated instances of the White House resisting holding officials accountable for violating ethics standards.”
It is well known the Trump family has a well known dislike of ethics. To this can be added a dislike of the law and we can also extend this dislike to the Tangerine Shitgibbons official White House 'family. It may be the law but Trump and his stooges are above that sort of stuff.

Is This Racist Racist?

Samantha Bee

He thinks he's Stephen Hawking

Seth Meyers takes a Closer Look at the guy who recognized a camel.

So many winnings

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Joke

Brandi Carlisle

When Sarah spoke the truth

From the pen of Adam Zyglis

Section 702, It Lives!

And through its continued existence, the NSA continues to have no restrictions on how it can snoop on Americans as long as it can cobb up a foreign connection.
The Senate passed a bill on Thursday to reauthorize a powerful government authority to conduct foreign surveillance on U.S. soil, sending the president a six-year extension of the program just one day before a statutory deadline.

The 65-to-34 vote on the legislation, which the president is expected to sign into law, marks the end of a months-long debate that exposed sharp divisions between privacy advocates and national security hawks in Congress. Lawmakers have struggled over whether to limit the spy authority the intelligence community has identified as one of its most important surveillance tools.

The program, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, allows the National Security Agency to collect from U.S. companies the emails and other communication of foreign targets located overseas. But federal law enforcement agents can scour the database for information about Americans who have been in touch with those foreign targets, and many lawmakers wanted to force the government to obtain a warrant before doing so.

The legislation that passed the Senate on Thursday, and the House last week, requires law enforcement agents to procure a court order before they view the content of database searches for information about Americans, if they want to later use what they find in criminal cases. There is no such restriction in cases involving counterterrorism, counterintelligence and counterespionage.

Efforts to impose more stringent limits failed in both chambers. In the House, proponents of tighter privacy controls were unable to gain enough support for an amendment that would have required the government to secure warrants for database searches. In the Senate, opponents’ efforts to stymie progress also fell short this week, when senators eked out just enough votes to move the bill over an important procedural hurdle despite a last-minute call from Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to slow down the debate and consider amendments to the measure.
Section 702 was the pillow on the face of the 4th Amendment which had provided some protection against warrantless search and seizure. Its elimination held out slim hope of the resurrection of the 4th but now there is nothing.

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