Lees and Orts

We’re hard pressed to select the quote that best epitomizes the ReThugs’ Malthusian 1 view of us 2: Is it Chuck Grassley’s (ReThug-IA), uttered shortly after the Senate passed their midnight “tax” bill:

I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.

Or vampiric Orin Hatch’s (ReThug-UT) thoughts on funding CHIP:

I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.

Either way, the gloves are off, people.

HBO says we have to wait ’til 2019 for Game of Thrones. They’re so wrong; it’s all Game of Thrones all the time.

À la lanterne!

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If you thought the preceding was hyperbole, watch motherfucking Dean Heller (ReThug-NV) have a citizen with stage 4 cancer ejected from his town hall meeting for daring to ask about healthcare and Obamacare.

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The difference an Administration makes…

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As type the market is up, technically, a huge shit pile for the year, which nice and all, and s’posedly the result of the anticipated tax cuts for the rich. Hoo haa: Trickle up is working!!

Except…the market is already at Jimmy Stewart heights, and certainly well above any historical average. In fact, if you take a look at the S&P, you notice an interesting pattern –

P/E ratio 25.5 – Let me just note a healthy economy sits around 15, which means stocks are significantly overpriced. But don’t take our word for it; 2001 (the dotcom bubble) and 2008 (the subprime mortgage bubble) were the last time the P/E crept this high. Both good times, n’est-ce pas?
Earnings Yield 3.9% – Low enough to make Jason Statham cry, tolerated by investors to this point only because interest rates have been nonexistent. But rates are rising making business investments look like crap.
Corporate Debt – Massive, just freaking massive. And the earnings to pay these debts isn’t there (think Sears.) And as the interest rates rise, so does the real risk of bankruptcy.

Add the facts that the Obama economic boom is on its last legs, and the ReThugs are intent on redistributing America’s wealth up to the 1%. If this happens, shortly awterfward we’ll be looking at deep recession, one that — if Brownback’s Kansas ‘experiment’ is any guide– will overshadow both 2001 and 2008.

Folks will lose their jobs and the ReThugs will respond by cutting more government services, taking huge whacks at SS, Medicaid and Medicare, making it worse. The president* will send forth Sewer Rat Barbie to tell us it’s all the fault of the immigrants, the unemployed and Hillary Clinton.

The only way it could get worse is if the president* starts a nuclear war with DNK while inciting a conflagration in the Middle East.

So we got that going for us.

Lees and Orts

Show 2 footnotes

  1. The laboring poor, to use a vulgar expression, seem always to live from hand to mouth. Their present wants employ their whole whole attention, and they seldom think of the future. Even when they have an opportunity of saving they seldom exercise it, but all that is beyond their present necessities goes, generally speaking, to the ale house. An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1978.
  2. Where us equals everyone with less than seven-figure incomes.

Lees and Orts

Well…the site is now mostly alive.

As opposed to only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive, and thus tinkering continues in the background…

Lees and Orts

…was listening to the ReThugs’ Head Weasel this morning on NPR as I prepared the Astas’ breakfast. Basically, he just lied and lied and lied, without compunction or shame. The following is an even handed rebuttal…

Gobble Gobble

So, it’s been what – 2 months since the last mass ruminant hunt?

Which means we are soon due yet another NRA nut-job publicly displaying his constitutional right to bear arms, perhaps as soon as the fast approaching winter holidays.

Normally we would submit that this time of year would be immune, indeed inviolate from said insanity, but we don’t live in normal times, n’est-ce pas?

Which is just another way of saying don’t act all shocked if some city’s annual presentation of The Nutcracker 1 or A Christmas Carole 2 inadvertently takes center stage showcasing neither the Mouse King or Morley, but America’s insane love affair with guns.

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And since it IS that time of the year…what we’re reading:

Lees and Orts

Jesus fuckin’ ke-rist! [SARCASM] Thanks, Obama! [/SARCASM]

“The targeted men were known as members of Al Qaida,” the activist said on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

Military officials in Yemen believe that hundreds of Al Qaida and Daesh militants who deserted their former bastions in Abyan, Hadramout and Shabwa provinces are hiding in scattered villages or on rough mountains in Baydha.

Local media reports have recently said that three Al Qaida leaders in Shabwa were killed in recent drone strikes in Baydha…

…The recent US drone strikes have also killed five civilians, displaced residents and caused panic in the two areas.

The activist said that five civilians, mainly farmers, were killed in three separate air strikes this week.

“The air strikes have caused great panic among civilians. The targeted areas have no functioning schools or hospitals,” the activist said.

It is worth noting that drone strikes have increased almost exponentially since The Idiot has taken office; we can expect ‘friendly fire’ on American soil soonish.

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And finally, some appropriate entertinment:

Lees and Orts

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Coincidentally just down the road from Wayne LaPierre’s house.
  2. Which just so happens to be near Sen. Richard Burr’s (Second Biggest NRA Whore, total NRA donations though this year $6 + million. Only Sen. John “Dead Man Walking” received more blood money from the NRA.

Lees and Orts

A woman on a bike gestures with her middle finger as a motorcade with US President Donald Trump departs Trump National Golf Course October 28, 2017 in Sterling, Virginia. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski
This picture, snapped by a White House photographer traveling with the president as he left his golf course in Sterling, VA, went viral almost immediately……The woman’s name is Juli Briskman. Her employer, government contractor Akima LLC, wasn’t so happy about the photo. They fired her over it…

By Tuesday, her bosses called her into a meeting and said she had violated the company’s social media policy by using the photo as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook.

“They said, ‘We’re separating from you,'” said Briskman. “Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off ‘obscene.'”

Briskman, who worked in marketing and communications at Akima for just over six months, said she emphasized to the executives that she wasn’t on the job when the incident happened and that her social media pages don’t mention her employer. They told her that because Akima was a government contractor, the photo could hurt their business, she said… 1

Despite getting fired, she said she has no regrets about the attention her public show of displeasure with Trump received. In fact, she said she’s happy to be an image of protest that resonates with many Americans.

“In some ways, I’m doing better than ever,” she said. “I’m angry about where our country is right now. I am appalled. This was an opportunity for me to say something.”

Lees and Orts || WNBTv

All Hail Mother Opportunity! 2

“Consumer advocates say programs mean rich get better protections.”

Increasingly, insurance carriers are finding wildfires, such as those in California, are an opportunity to provide protection beyond what most people get through publicly funded fire fighting. Some insurers say they typically get new customers when homeowners see the special treatment received by neighbors during big fires.

Lees and Orts || WNBTv

Americans, I have some bad news for you:

You have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide margin…

Consider this, you are the only people in the developed world without a single-payer health system. Everyone in Western Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore and New Zealand has a single-payer system. If they get sick, they can devote all their energies to getting well. If you get sick, you have to battle two things at once, your illness and the fear of financial ruin. Millions of Americans go bankrupt every year due to medical bills, and tens of thousands die each year because they have no insurance or insufficient insurance. And don’t believe for a second that rot about America having the world’s best medical care or the shortest waiting lists: I’ve been to hospitals in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Singapore, and Thailand, and every one was better than the “good” hospital I used to go to back home. The waits were shorter, the facilities more comfortable, and the doctors just as good.

This is ironic, because you need a good health system more than anyone else in the world. Why? Because your lifestyle is almost designed to make you sick.

Let’s start with your diet: Much of the beef you eat has been exposed to fecal matter in processing. Your chicken is contaminated with salmonella. Your stock animals and poultry are pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. In most other countries, the government would act to protect consumers from this sort of thing; in the United States, the government is bought off by industry to prevent any effective regulations or inspections. In a few years, the majority of all the produce for sale in the United States will be from genetically modified crops, thanks to the cozy relationship between Monsanto Corporation and the United States government. Worse still, due to the vast quantities of high-fructose corn syrup Americans consume, fully one-third of children born in the United States today will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives.

Of course, it’s not just the food that’s killing you, it’s the drugs

Lees and Orts || WNBTv

Show 2 footnotes

  1. We’d like to think so, but the Feds throw an absolute ton of tech work their way.
  2. Eat the rich!

Lees and Orts

Regarding the putatively illegal contract with Whitefish to restore power to Puerto Rico:

PREPA’s decision to contract Whitefish could be a costly one.

While the Whitefish spokeswoman says it’s “not possible at this time to estimate” the cost of completing the work, the hourly wages the firm is reportedly charging for its contracted workers are eye-popping.

“Under the contract, the hourly rate was set at $330 for a site supervisor, and at $227.88 for a ‘journeyman lineman,'” The Washington Post reports. “The cost for subcontractors, which make up the bulk of Whitefish’s workforce, is $462 per hour for a supervisor and $319.04 for a lineman. Whitefish also charges nightly accommodation fees of $332 per worker and almost $80 per day for food.”

UTIER, the electrical workers’ union of Puerto Rico, tweeted its consternation at those rates. “We need support and help, but under these conditions it is impossible and questionable. Who allowed this?”

Who, indeed?

Lees and Orts

Lees and Orts

Charles Blow has been killin’ it of late. Sadly, to little or no avail…

What has happened is that the ground keeps lurching more rightward beneath Flake’s feet, toward fundamentalism and fanaticism. Indeed, Flake was a Tea Party darling who got scalped by Steve Bannon-ism.

Trump-era Republicans have accepted depravity and vitriol as the price they’re willing to pay to have a person willing to fight the people and institutions they distrust and detest. Encouraging violence isn’t disqualifying. Defaming Mexicans and Muslims is not disqualifying. Bragging about sexual assault is not disqualifying. Being a pathological liar is not disqualifying. Coddling white supremacists is not disqualifying. Attacking Gold Star families is not disqualifying.

None of it is disqualifying. To the contrary, it is supremely satisfying. the Moral Majority has become the iniquitous minority.

This Republican Party is the party of Trump and Bannon, not Flake and Corker.

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Question a four-star Marine Corps general? White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders nearly blanched at the thought.

“I think that — if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate,’’ she said in response to a relatively benign question in the latest he-said, she-said Washington drama…

…Is it appropriate to challenge a general?

If the answer to that isn’t a resounding “Yes!” to anyone having even a nodding acquaintance with history, reason has taken an extended vacation.

Remember Gen. William Westmoreland, who led our troops in the Vietnam War and kept reassuring us we were winning? If he’d have been questioned more closely by the press and his policy-making bosses, who bought his misrepresentations, we may have saved thousands of American and Vietnamese lives.

And what of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his conduct in the Korean conflict? President Harry Truman fired MacArthur because he was running wild, unchallenged by others in the government who didn’t question him enough
.
President John F. Kennedy acknowledged he should have been questioned more aggressively by the press and should have questioned his generals more closely before the Bay of Pigs fiasco. “I only wish the papers had done their job,” he said later…

…And let’s recall that four-star Gen. Colin Powell was among the cast of characters who led us into the Iraq War in search of weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist…

…To be sure, the officer ranks in the American military are worthy of respect and admiration. Generals don’t get those stars for nothing.

But they are mortal. They are fallible. And they need to be challenged — by the president, by the people and by the press.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board succinctly call out out the blindingly obvious what our local paper has even refused to comment on. Sad days, indeed.

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Last May, nearly 100 demonstrators gathered around the Islamic Da’wah Center in downtown Houston, squaring off against one another in competing camps.

The “Stop Islamization of Texas” protest was, on its face, largely similar to any number of other tense, vitriolic demonstrations that percolated through 2016. On the one end: a crew carrying Confederate flags, #WhiteLivesMatter banners, and heavy weaponry. On the other: counter-protesters with signs decrying Islamophobia, calling for communal unity, and a bubble machine going at full blast.

The organizers behind the anti-Islam protesters, however, never showed. And now, over 16 months later, we know why.

As CNN reported last week, the protest was put together by the “Heart of Texas” Facebook page – a page that was revealed last month as one of the fake accounts operated out of Russia. Unlike the November anti-Hillary Clinton, pro-secession rallies the page attempted to organize across Texas, the May protest not only brought armed protesters, but a raft of counter-protesters to face down those calling for “white power!”…

…the revelations point to an even darker reality than the protest itself unveiled. Not only did the “Heart of Texas” page call – successfully – for protesters to bring firearms (“concealed or not!”) but Russian operatives were able to convince armed white supremacists to congregate in downtown Houston, facing off with dozens opposed to their message. Given recent events in Charlottesville, the fact that Russian operatives organized rifle-toting white nationalists into a confrontation with counter-protesters should give pause to politicians on both sides of the aisle – all the more as one of the comments on the “Heart of Texas” page called to “blow…up” the Islamic center.

Lees and Orts

Lees and Orts

So…it’s WiFi’s turn.

Over the weekend a WPA2 KRACK hack was announced. Remember to use HTTPS for everything, especially if you’re browsing away from the house, which usually has a perimeter of 300 feet, discouraging drive-by hacks. Less if (like moi) you’ve turned portions of your abode into a large Faraday cage. And keep checking here for patches and updates, though Microsoft has already patched the vulnerability.

We’re guessing it’s Androids/LINUX/Apple systems that are going to take it in the shorts for a while…

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It’s flu season again, so for everyone in the cheap seats: THE FLU VACCINE DOES NOT CAUSE INFLUENZA.

I don’t care what the latest celebrity wingnut is espousing, much less what your Uncle Bob says, or even your own ‘personal experience’, the fact is THE FLU VACCINE DOES NOT CAUSE INFLUENZA.

How do I know this? Easy – it’s science; flu vaccines are either created with an inactivated virus that cannot cause illness, or by a process using a recombinant technology that contains no virus at all.

Yes, children –even YOUR children– should be inoculated against the flu: Last flu season (2016-2017) over 100 U.S. children died from the flu. Over 80% of those who died were not vaccinated. 1

Get your flu shot, make sure you do the same for your kids.

Quit listening to pinheads.

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Speaking of good drugs…

Psychedelics have shown promising results in the treatment of depression and addictions in a number of clinical trials over the last decade. Imperial College London researchers used psilocybin – the psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in magic mushrooms – to treat a small number of patients with depression, monitoring their brain function, before and after.

Images of patients’ brains revealed changes in brain activity that were associated with marked and lasting reductions in depressive symptoms and participants in the trial reported benefits lasting up to five weeks after treatment.

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial, who led the study, said: “We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments.

“Several of our patients described feeling ‘reset’ after the treatment and often used computer analogies. For example, one said he felt like his brain had been ‘defragged’ like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt ‘rebooted’.

“Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary ‘kick start’ they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a ‘reset’ analogy.

Back in the day we referred to this as “sweeping out the dust bunnies”, using  either acid, mescaline, the ever popular cow-pie-growing mushrooms, or the famous ‘magic mushrooms‘ – they all work.

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By now everyone not living under a rock 2 is aware that Equifax pretty much gave away every single American’s PII 3 data last month: Name, DOB, Social Security number, current and past addresses, pretty much everything Joe Hacker needs to open a new credit card (or take out a new mortgage) in your name.

There is really only one way to fight this – freeze your credit at all 3 reporting companies. This makes it impossible for anyone –including yourself 4 — to open new credit of any kind.

Of course that’s the first thing Equifax did, make I easy for you to freeze your credit. Except in doing so you had to agree to arbitration over any Equifax misuse of your data. And, you had to pay. In other words…same as it ever was. 5

If you have yet to freeze your credit, Last Week Tonight put together a Equifax-spoofed web site with three easy inks to do so.

I would highly recommend you do this now.

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It will be instructive to see which way the Generalissimo jumps on this one.

The federal government’s long campaign to try to choke off rampant conspiracy theories about the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy is threatening to end this month in massive confusion, if not chaos.

Within the next two weeks, the National Archives is legally obligated to release the last of thousands of secret documents from government files about the assassination, most of them from the CIA, the FBI and the Justice Department.

And there is every indication that the massive document dump—especially if any of it is blocked by President Donald Trump, the only person empowered under the law to stop the release of the files—will simply help fuel a new generation of conspiracy theories.

Trump, no stranger to conspiracy theories, including totally unsubstantiated theories about a link between Ted Cruz’s father and JFK’s death, has not yet revealed his plans for the documents. His friend and political adviser Roger Stone, the Republican consultant who is the author of a book claiming that President Lyndon Johnson was the mastermind of the Kennedy assassination, said last week that he has been informed authoritatively that the CIA is urging Trump to delay the release of some of the JFK documents for another 25 years. “They must reflect badly on the CIA even though virtually everyone involved is long dead,” Stone said in a statement on his website.

The CIA has not confirmed or denied reports that it has appealed to Trump to block the release of some of the files on grounds that the documents might still somehow endanger national security if made public. In a cryptic statement last week, the spy agency said only that it “continues to engage in the process to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously unreleased CIA information.”

If the entire document dump is set loose on the public, it will be a massive thing; the documents could refute or confirm the most popular and outlandish conspiracy theories of a disbelieving public that has been continually lied to since Ike. At the least it’s bound to make the CIA look bad, regardless of any role they had to play.

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The New Yorker has done us a public service by running a profile on Mike Pence; this so we’re aware of what sort of sub-Hell we’ll be facing in 18 months when Mueller’s taken out the trash. It’s certainly worth the read; we’ll whet your appetite

  • Joel K. Goldstein, a historian and an expert on Vice-Presidents who teaches law at St. Louis University, refers to him as the “Sycophant-in-Chief.”
  • Pence exudes a low-key humility, but, McCawley told me, “he’s very ambitious, even calculating, about the steps he’ll take toward that goal.”
  • There was so little to do in the way of entertainment, (his brother) Gregory Pence recalled, that “we sometimes got in the car with our parents on Friday nights and followed after the fire truck.”
  • Mike Pence’s childhood nickname: Bubbles, because “he was chubby and funny.”
  • “When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, ‘Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!'”
  • “Marc Short, the head of legislative affairs in the Trump White House, credits Pence for the Kochs’ rapprochement with Trump. ‘The Kochs were very excited about the Vice-Presidential pick,’ Short told me. ‘There are areas where they differ from the Administration, but now there are many areas they’re partnering with us on.'”
  • Over the fireplace in the Vice-President’s residence, he has hung a plaque with a passage from the Bible: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

The DEMs really need to step up in 2018, hold their pure noses and elect more Democrats or we’re in for a generation of back-sliding trouble.

Lees and Orts

Show 5 footnotes

  1. No, the flu vaccine does not cause autism. How do I know this? Again, because science…
  2. Or in the White House.
  3. Personally Identifiable Information.
  4. Without first unfreezing your credit.
  5. Pretty amazing that nearly 40 years later David Byrne is still relevant, n’est-ce pas?