Tuesday, March 28, 2017

TRUMP'S WINNING SO MUCH WE NEED A CHECKLIST

Remember when Donald Trump claimed there would be so much winning when he was president that we ran the risk of getting bored with it?



It looks like it's time for a winning update. Let's go to the president's "Winning" checklist ...

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So, are you bored yet?

- Mark

Hat tip to Nick for the "winning" list.

Monday, March 27, 2017

I HAVE THE DEMOCRATS RIGHT WHERE I WANT THEM, CLAIMS TRUMP

Via Zero Hedge we learn that Donald Trump may be more delusional than we were thinking yesterday (and the day before, and the day before ...). Check this out.

Donald Trump is taking a crazy page straight out of Alex Jones' reality challenged Infowars. He's asking why the House Intelligence Committee isn't investigating the Clintons because, you know, the "Trump Russia story is a hoax" ...


Rather than call it a night with these Tweets, Trump decided to double down on the buffoonery. According to Trump, he's got the Democrats right where he wants them. Why? Because Obamacare's going to collapse. And when it does - and this is the real sneaky part - it's going to force the Democrats to make a deal with him ...


Who would have thought that embarrassing himself, humiliating the GOP, and making America's political system look like it's governed by a gang of unhinged baboons was part of Trump's master plan to bring the Democrats to the bargaining table?

Smart man that Donald Trump. [cough, cough]

Seriously. Who ties his shoes in the morning?

Sigh ...

- Mark

TRUMP POISED TO PICK TWO NEW BUDGET EXPERTS ... INTRODUCING MR. SMOKE AND DR. MIRRORS

From The Economist ...


- Mark

MAUREEN DOWD: "Dear Donald, You got played"


From the NY Times, "Dear Donald, You got played" ...

********


Your whole campaign was mocking your rivals and the D.C. elite, jawing about how Americans had turned into losers, with our bad deals and open borders and the Obamacare “disaster.”
And you were going to fly in on your gilded plane and fix all that in a snap.
You mused that a good role model would be Ronald Reagan. As you saw it, Reagan was a big, good-looking guy with a famous pompadour; he had also been a Democrat and an entertainer. But Reagan had one key quality that you don’t have: He knew what he didn’t know.
You both resembled Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons, floating above the nitty-gritty and focusing on a few big thoughts. But President Reagan was confident enough to accept that he needed experts below, deftly maneuvering the strings.
You’re just careering around on your own, crashing into buildings and losing altitude, growling at the cameras and spewing nasty conspiracy theories, instead of offering a sunny smile, bipartisanship, optimism and professionalism.
You promised to get the best people around you in the White House, the best of the best. In fact, “best” is one of your favorite words.
Instead, you dragged that motley skeleton crew into the White House and let them create a feuding, leaking, belligerent, conspiratorial, sycophantic atmosphere. Instead of a smooth, classy operator like James Baker, you have a Manichaean anarchist in Steve Bannon.
You knew the Republicans were full of hot air. They haven’t had to pass anything in a long time, and they have no aptitude for governing. To paraphrase an old Barney Frank line, asking the Republicans to govern is like asking Frank to judge the Miss America contest – “If your heart’s not in it, you don’t do a very good job.”
You knew that Paul Ryan’s vaunted reputation as a policy wonk was fake news. Republicans have been running on repealing and replacing Obamacare for years and they never even bothered to come up with a valid alternative.
And neither did you, despite all your promises to replace Obamacare with “something terrific” because you wanted everyone to be covered.
Instead, you sold the DOA bill the Irish undertaker gave you as if it were a luxury condo, ignoring the fact that it was a cruel flimflam, a huge tax cut for the rich disguised as a health care bill. You were so concerned with the “win” that you forgot your “forgotten” Americans, the older, poorer people in rural areas who would be hurt by the bill.
As The Times’ chief Washington correspondent Carl Hulse put it, the GOP falls into clover with a lock on the White House and both houses of Congress, and what’s the first thing it does? Slip on a banana peel. Incompetence Inc.
“They tried to sweeten the deal at the end by offering a more expensive bill with fewer health benefits, but alas, it wasn’t enough!” former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau slyly tweeted.
Despite the best efforts of Bannon to act as if the whole fiasco was a clever way to bury Ryan – a man he disdains as “the embodiment of the ‘globalist-corporatist' Republican elite,” as Gabriel Sherman put it in New York magazine – it won’t work.
And you can jump on the phone with The Times’ Maggie Haberman and The Washington Post’s Robert Costa – ignoring that you’ve labeled them the “fake media” – and act like you’re in control. You can say that people should have waited for “Phase 2” and “Phase 3” – whatever they would have been – and that Obamacare is going to explode and that the Democrats are going to get the blame. But it doesn’t work that way. You own it now.
You’re all about flashy marketing so you didn’t notice that the bill was junk, so lame that even Republicans skittered away.
You were humiliated right out of the chute by the establishment guys who hooked you into their agenda – a massive transfer of wealth to rich people – and drew you away from your own.
You sold yourself as the businessman who could shake things up and make Washington work again. Instead, you got worked over by the Republican leadership and the business community, who set you up to do their bidding.
That’s why they’re putting up with all your craziness about Russia and wiretapping and unending lies and rattling our allies.
They’re counting on you being a delusional dupe who didn’t even know what was in the bill because you’re sitting around in a bathrobe getting your information from wackadoodles on Fox News and then, as The Post reported, peppering aides with the query, “Is this really a good bill?”
You got played.
It took W. years to smash everything. You’re way ahead of schedule.
And I can say you’re doing badly, because I’m a columnist, and you’re not. Say hello to everybody, OK?
Sincerely, Maureen
*********
- Mark

FOX NEWS IS BAD FOR AMERICA, SEAN HANNITY LEARNS



Ted Koppel explains to Sean Hannity what most of America already knows ...



- Mark 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

HOW WE JUSTIFY FAITH IN SCIENCE ...



Richard Dawkins offers up one of the best mic drop moments for explaining why the scientific method is superior to, say, faith based systems here ...



In case the audio isn't good enough, here's the money quote ...

If you base medicine on science, you cure people. 
If you base the design of planes on science, they fly. 
If you base the design of rockets on science, they reach the moon. 
It works ... bitches!

- Mark

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WHEN IT COMES TO CONNECTING THE TRUMP-RUSSIAN DOTS, REP. DEVIN NUNES IS EITHER REALLY INEPT, OR SIMPLY BAD AT LYING

When it comes to getting to the bottom of Russian intervention in our 2016 presidential election, there's some serious incompetence going on in the halls of Congress. Either that, or the GOP leaders in the House Intelligence Committee - but especially Rep. Devin Nunes - are not very good at lying.


Let's consider the following question(s) ...

Is it a crime if someone hacked your computer, stole documents, and then selectively leaked the information to deliberately damage or hurt you? You bet. However, what if a foreigner did the hacking? Let's  make that a Russian hacker. Is it still a crime? According to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), if a foreigner is involved in hacking and releasing information, it's less of a crime.

It might not even be that important.

However - and this is the strange part - according to Rep. Nunes and his colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, while foreign hackers might not be a problem in his book, writing about those who speak with hackers and their collaborators leaves you open to criminal prosecution.

To recap. If you're a foreigner and you commit a crime, it's probably not that important, according to Rep. Nunes. But those who write about the criminal activity should be prosecuted.

Welcome to Donald Trump's America, where writing about the crime is more important than the actual crime. And it's all brought to you by the Republican Party, who suddenly don't care if foreigners attack and subvert America's democratic process.

But wait. It gets better (or is that worse?).

It turns out that Rep. Devin Nunes, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, not only doesn't seem to care about foreign (Russian) hackers, but he claims he doesn't know anything about some of Donald Trump's very public and biggest sycophants, Carter Page and Roger Stone, who had direct contact with (or knowledge of) the players involved in the hacking.



Here's the real fun part: Rep. Devin Nunes was on Donald Trump's Presidential Transition Team when Carter Page and Roger Stone were very publicly running around Trump Towers.

And he's the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

What this means is that as head of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Nunes, is either inept or not very good at lying to the press about what he knows.

Either way something's wrong.


What's clear is that the Republicans need to participate in the appointment of an independent prosecutor. This is absolutely necessary if we're ever going to get to the bottom of Russia's assault on America's democracy.

Absent this, the GOP is simply participating in and allowing the gradual erosion - and even collapse - of the American democratic experiment.

- Mark

Monday, March 20, 2017

REP. ADAM SCHIFF CONNECTS TRUMP-RUSSIAN DOTS ... IT'S CLEAR THERE ARE FEW "COINCIDENCES" AND, YEAH, TRUMP'S IN TROUBLE


Rep. Schiff, Part I.

The Trump-Russia dot connecting (string of coincidences?) begins at 6:30 into the clip, and clearly opens Donald Trump to accusations of treason ...



Rep. Schiff, Part II.

More Trump-Russia dot connecting, with Rep. Schiff weaving together a stream of "coincidences" beginning at 2:44 into the clip ...


The real interesting part here is how Rep. Schiff compares Russia's 2016 cyberattack break-in of the Democratic National Committee's computers to Richard Nixon's Watergate break-in by a group of people (the "plumbers"), who ultimately were convicted and went to jail (before Nixon's resignation).

The number of Russian-related lies by the Trump administration's appointees, and cabinet members, make it clear there are few coincidences in the Trump-Russian story. So, yeah, there was collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.


After today, you know a Tweet storm's coming.

Stay tuned ...

- Mark

TAX EVASION JUNKIES ... THE REALITY OF AMERICA'S FINANCIAL ELITES, AND THE BANE OF OUR ECONOMY


I've been writing about the tax shelter game for some time now. Still, this clip (and Bernie Sanders) reminds us why corporations, and people like Donald Trump, don't pay their fair share of taxes. Tax loopholes, generous tax write-offs, offshore tax havens, and regular bailouts leave you and me to pick up the tab for basic services and a skyrocketing national debt ...


Think of this the next time Trump talks about eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax.

- Mark

Click here for an informative op-ed discussion on the AMT from the Denver Post.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

SUNDAY NIGHT READING (March 19, 2017)



BluExit: A modest proposal for separating Blue States from Red (New Republic).

Rep. Joe Kennedy III slams Paul Ryan on ACA repeal - then forces GOP lawyer to admit major exclusion (Daily Kos).

What the world's nations are best at, revealed in one map (Independent).

In a place of need, an unhealthy contradiction (Washington Post).


JUST INTERESTING/STUFF TO KNOW
Here's the reality about illegal immigrants in the United States (NY Times).

L.A. officials to ICE: Stop calling yourselves police (CNN).

It's finally here: Radioactive plume from Fukushima makes landfall on America's West coast  (Environews).

The night I fired Donald Trump (Pollstar).


THE GOP's "HATE THE DARKIES" FEST CONTINUES
Francisca Lino, mom of six, is about to be deported. Her congressman protested and was handcuffed (Washington Post).

U.S. citizen detained nearly 24 hours in San Ysidro (NBC News).

Man breaks into mosque, rips up copies of Quran (Huffpost).

Afghans who worked for U.S. are told not to apply for visas, advocates say (NY Times).


BAKERSFIELD IN THE NEWS ... IT'S NOT GOOD (again)
'A hidden health crisis': Toxic stress driving up Kern death rates (Bakersfield Californian / AcesConnection).

These are the 10 most White Trash cities in California (Home Snacks).


GOP NEANDERTHALS
Rep. Steve King: 'We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies' (Yahoo!).

'Is that not correct?: Male GOP lawmaker asks why men should pay for prenatal coverage (Washington Post).


TRUMP'S MORE PATHETIC THAN WE THOUGHT
After pledging to donate salary, Trump declines to release proof (NBC News).

Trump's salary will be donated at the end of the year, says Sean Spicer (NBC News).

The astonishing dysfunction of Trump's State Department, in one quote (Vox).


RUSSIAN/TRUMP CORRUPTION ALERT
This level of corruption is unprecedented in the modern history of the presidency (Esquire).

Bharara hints in tweet that he was fired because he was investigating Trump (Raw Story).

Republicans are becoming Russian accomplices (Washington Post).

Memos: CEO of Russia's state oil company offered Trump adviser, allies a cut of huge deal if sanctions were lifted (Business Insider).

Rachel Maddow just aired Trump's dirty Russian money laundry (American News X).

Leak reveals Rex Tillerson was director of Bahamas-based U.S.-Russian oil firm (The Guardian).


"LIKE A DRUNKEN SAILOR ..." COMES TO LIFE
Admiral, seven other charged with corruption in new 'Fat Leonard' indictment (Washington Post).

Prostitutes, vacations and cash: The Navy officials 'Fat Leonard' took down (Washington Post).


FROM YOUTUBE
"No thanks": Best DHS checkpoint refusals EVER (Top Buzz)!

Adidas rejects student,s commercial made for them, and now it's going so viral they probably regret it (Bored Panda).


MISCELLANEOUS
Bootstrap myth exposed: White inheritance key driver in racial wealth gap (Channel 3000).

Mom pulls gun on another mom at Texas elementary school's drop-off line (HuffPost).

This GOP senator just attributed a well-known liberal quote to Ronald Reagan (Washington Post).

There is no deep state (The New Yorker).

Before you cut foreign aid to fund defense, consider where it goes and what it does for U.S. troops and national security (CSIS).

- Mark