Tag Archives: US Government

The Forever Wars

The Pentagon has deployed several hundred Marines to northern Syria, the Washington Post and CNN reported this week. Their mission: firing long-range artillery to help recapture Raqqa, ISIS’s self-proclaimed capital city.

The Marines are equipped with M777 howitzers, which can fire GPS-guided explosives up to 25 miles.

That’s a big change from the “train, advise, and assist” role U.S. forces have been playing so far — although as with many previous troop deployments to Iraq and Syria, it was not debated, let alone authorized, by Congress.

But the White House press secretary brushed off a question about the move, saying that sending “several hundred advisers” did not amount to “hostile action.”

Right-wing radio host John Fredericks asked Sean Spicer on Thursday whether Trump was committed to seeking congressional authorization for new deployments.

“I think there’s a big difference between an authorization of war than [sic] sending a few hundred advisers,” Spicer replied. “And I think most in Congress would probably agree with that as well. I think that’s a big difference between a hostile action and going in to address some certain concerns, whether it’s certain countries in the Middle East or elsewhere.”

Spicer referred the question to the Department of Defense. But when reached by The Intercept, a Pentagon spokesperson disputed Spicer’s characterization.

“This is fire support,” said Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a public affairs officer for the Marine Corps, explaining that the new deployment would fire long-range artillery in an assault on Raqqa. “They will be providing partner support for the Syrian Democratic Forces.”

First: Spicer has turned out to be the most craven coward ANY White House has ever sent out to put lipstick on a pig.

Second: Fire support = boots on the ground.

Get used to this; we’ll be sending in first hundreds, then thousands more “advisors.”

The Forever Wars

Incoming!

Incoming!

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A bright-red, mock “incoming missile” message that was mistakenly sent to all wing personnel at Spangdahlem Air Base on Tuesday was recalled in about eight minutes.

It wasn’t enough time to cause widespread panic but it was just enough time for someone to take a screen shot of the image and post it to social media, causing the wing some embarrassment as people poked fun at the error on Facebook and it was first reported by Air Force Times.

The message, which read, “MISSILE INBOUND. SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!” originated in the command post of the 52nd Fighter Wing, spokesman Maj. Bryon McGarry said.

Since this is The Stars and Stripes that we’re talking about, there were no comments on the article.

Which is a crying shame, ’cause servicemen are rather inventive that way.

Incoming!

The Day After

Seems apt, n’est-ce pas? 1

The Day After

Show 1 footnote

  1. Also in popular rotation right now, that Swayze classic, Red Dawn. Though, personally? We find Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, with Steve Gruppenführer Bannon reprising the Dr. Strangelove role, a better fit in these strange days.

The Holman Rule


File this under It’s Not Like We Didn’t See it Coming news:

House ReThugs 1 yesterday reinstated an arcane procedural rule that will enable individual lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of any individual federal worker — down to $1. Because…useless stoopid government workers!

Given, use of the Holman Rule would not be simple; a majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment.

But all that really means is the Congress Critters would make massive dealswheel n’ deal among themselves: “I’ll support you’re gutting OSGA if you’ll support me emptying out the EPA.” Yet another step toward “making ‘murika great(ish) again.”

Hear hear, Deplorables. Hear hear!

The Holman Rule

The problem here is the Deplorables (not to mention, please don’t mention the Dims) err –oh, so often– in their assumption the ReThugs will act In Good Faith. Their mistake is believing the Kasich’s, the Rubio’s, the Cruz’s and (Thor save us) the fucking Griffith’s all sincerely desire to institute the best policies for all of America.

Nothing could be further from the truth; they just want what’s best for them. Take the ACA: Repealing ‘Obamacare’ will strip millions (who cannot otherwise afford it) of their health insurance. Just a “bug” of ReThug policy? Nope, it’s the primary goal. And, since it ticks off one of his campaign promises, our Manchurian President-elect will be fine with that.

The Manchurian President-elect also insisted throughout his campaign that the way the current Federal government is run “is bad, it’s very bad. Sad.” 2 In the way of the ReThugs it therefore follows that the Federal government under said individual WILL BE bad, very bad. Why? Because it is a necessary step to the Manchurian President-elect & ReThug’s plan to privatize as much of it as possible, thereby proving the ‘free market’ is the answer to all things.

Given the Manchurian President-elect’s cabinet picks, and now the disinterment of the Holman Rule, it won’t be long before whole Departments either disappear or are gutted, probably starting with the EPA and Education. Energy will slowly follow along, simply because Perry is a tool and it will take him some time to figure out how best to ruin that Department. 3

But the crème de la crème of the ReThug douchery will arrive with tax cuts for the rich (concomitant with fewer services for everyone else) and the inevitable push to “privatize” Social Security. 4

Give these bastards enough time and the whole country will make Brownbackistan look enlightened.

The Holman Rule

Show 4 footnotes

  1.  Actually, this was the brain fart of Rep. H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.).
  2. The data is in on that and, at best, it’s a push. Moreover, the worst of the waste in the Federal government comes from the largest spender: The Department of Defense. Which never seriously gets touched. Even though it’s over 50% of the total annual budget.
  3. Pro Tip: Just be yourself, Ricky. That should have the department in shambles in no time.
  4. When a ReThug says “privatize”, hold on to your wallet; what he really mean is “allow a bunch of my old white buddies, already wealthy, to manage {whatever} in order to make them richer by carving out huge fees from you suckers, all while providing negligibly better to worse service. Oh, and I get a nice kickback.”

Fan Mail From Some Flounder

11 December 2016

Generalissimo,

The president-elect has so far lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes 1, run a campaign that obviously benefitted from the direct meddling of Russian intelligence services, and who’s business interests are so convoluted that every past White House ethics lawyer says he will unavoidably be in violation of the emolument clause in the U.S. Constitution immediately he takes his oath of office.

In addition the president-elect appears to believe, much as Richard Nixon did, that by the very nature of the office the president is above the law, that the president-elect can not have a conflict of interest simply because he would be president. 2

That being the case, and the fact the intent of the Electoral College was to specifically thwart the possibility of a charismatic tyrant manipulating public opinion and coming into power 3, shouldn’t the electors vote Clinton into office this coming Monday?

Randy White,
Olathe

Randy,

You lay out a solid argument for the electoral college to turn to Clinton, though you elided the notion of ‘poor administration of government.’ It is a lesser known purpose of the Electoral College: “…the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration…” and the electors should be “…able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration.” 4

There can be no doubt that the president-elect has shown with his cabinet picks –plutocrats and political naïfs all–, not to mention his storied bankruptcies, that he would not be a good steward of the government.

So, yes, the Electoral College should take all of this into consideration and not confirm the Manchurian President-elect.

However you ignore the fact that the GOP will do anything to grab and keep power; they would never select Clinton. Moreover, the electors were hand picked by their state parties based on loyalty to that party, not common sense. 5  6

Which, I suppose, is just another way of saying the Trump’s electors from Oklahoma are not interested in solemn deliberation: They just want to keep fracking, earthquakes in Kansas and Missouri aside.

No, the best you could hope for is the House of Representatives ending up picking someone like Pence, Kasich, or perhaps even Paul Ryan. Or perhaps the House of Representatives will override the Electoral College override and the Manchurian president-elect anyway.

Our advice? Just bend over and spread ’em.

Best Regards,
Generalissimo Francisco Franco

Fan Mail From Some Flounder

Show 6 footnotes

  1. Which in 19 states (should) automatically trigger a recount.
  2. If you think this trivial, imagine ANY Democrat taking the same position, especially Clinton. Right – the screaming from the GOP and alt-right media would be deafening.
  3. Federalist #68.
  4. Again, Federalist #68.
  5. Though there seem to be exceptions.
  6. Which is undoubtedly why a couple of lawsuits have been brought in order to free electors in 29 states from requirements that they vote for the candidate who won their state’s popular vote.

Hot New Amenity

The U.S. Secret Service is the hot, new “amenity” at Trump Tower, where desperate brokers are trying to lure well-heeled clients into the building on Fifth Avenue that has served as President-elect Donald Trump’s home as well as his campaign and transition headquarters.

Less than a week after Trump was elected, prominent New York real estate agency Douglas Elliman blasted out an email with the subject: “Fifth Avenue Buyers Interested in Secret Service Protection?” to advertise a $2.1 million, 1,052-square-foot condo in the tower on 721 Fifth Avenue.
“The New Aminity [sic] – The United States Secret Service,” screamed the flier sent in an email on Nov. 13 for a one-bedroom apartment on the 31st floor, represented by brokers Ariel Sassoon and Devin Leahy.

“The Best Value in the Most Secure Building in Manhattan,” it stated.

On our dime, of course; whether the costs are $500,000 a day or $3 million a year to rent a floor in Manchurian President-elect’s gaudy, the cost of providing security for the buffoon will be footed by the taxpayers.

Hot New Amenity

As The Band Plays ‘Nearer My God To Thee’

WASHINGTON — President-elect…has selected Senator Jeff Sessions, a conservative from Alabama who became a close adviser after endorsing him early in his campaign, to be the attorney general of the United States, according to officials close to the transition.

Mr. Sessions was also under consideration for secretary of defense, creating debate within the Trump transition team over which job he should fill. 1 Rudolph Giuliani was kicked to the back of the line

Mr. Sessions, a former prosecutor elected to the Senate in 1996, serves on the Judiciary Committee and has opposed immigration reform as well as bipartisan proposals to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences.

As The Band Plays ‘Nearer My God To Thee’

Oscar winners, sports stars and Bill Gates are building lavish bunkers — with amenities ranging from a swimming pool to a bowling alley — as global anxiety fuels sales and owners “could be the next Adam and Eve.”

Given the increased frequency of terrorist bombings and mass shootings and an under-lying sense of havoc fed by divisive election politics, it’s no surprise that home security is going over the top and hitting luxurious new heights. Or, rather, new lows, as the average depth of a new breed of safe haven that occupies thousands of square feet is 10 feet under or more. Those who can afford to pull out all the stops for so-called self-preservation are doing so — in a fashion that goes way beyond the submerged corrugated metal units adopted by reality show “preppers” — to prepare for anything from nuclear bombings to drastic climate-change events. Gary Lynch, GM at Rising S Bunkers, a Texas-based company that specializes in underground bunkers and services scores of Los Angeles residences, says that sales at the most upscale end of the market — mainly to actors, pro athletes and politicians (who require signed NDAs) — have increased 700 percent this year compared with 2015, and overall sales have risen 150 percent. “Any time there is a turbulent political landscape, we see a spike in our sales. Given this election is as turbulent as it is, we are gearing up for an even bigger spike,” says marketing director Brad Roberson of sales of bunkers that start at $39,000 and can run $8.35 million or more (FYI, a 12-stall horse shelter is $98,500). 2

As The Band Plays ‘Nearer My God To Thee’
Under current law in 2017, a single parent with one child can take a $9,400 standard deduction and two $4,100 exemptions, thus reducing her taxable income by $17,600. Trump would replace that combination with a $15,150 standard deduction, making $2,450 more income subject to tax. And bigger families would get hit even harder—their taxable income under Trump’s plan would go up by $4,100 for each additional child, relative to current law.

…in 2017 a single parent with one child who claims the standard deduction would face a 25 percent tax rate on adjusted gross income (AGI) between $53,050 and $68,550, compared with just a 15 percent rate under current law.
As The Band Plays ‘Nearer My God To Thee’

The citizens of the United States have a right to the good faith consideration of each Supreme Court nominee. In an attempt to subvert the will of the people expressed in the reelection of President Barack Obama in 2012, the current Senate has willfully failed to make a timely assertion of their advise and consent right.

There is legal precedent in United States v. Olano which ruled that the holder of a constitutional right may waive the right by engaging in an excessive delay in exercising it.

Merrick Garland was nominated on March 16, 2016, more than 237 days ago, greatly exceeding the previous maximum consideration delay of 125 days. The Senate has waived its right. Please proceed with Judge Garland’s appointment. 3

As The Band Plays ‘Nearer My God To Thee’

Hey there shitheads. Remember me? Yeah, it’s James fucking Madison. Third Secretary of State? Supervisor of the Louisiana Purchase? Fourth President of the United States of America? That guy. How’s it going?

What’s that? You’re scared? You’re worried you might elect as the next President a misogynistic turkey leg that somehow escaped the state fair, fell into a bale of hay, and inexplicably managed to bankrupt six companies? Oh dear, that sounds stressful. And nobody saw it coming? Wow, that sucks. I mean, Jesus Christ, how did nobody consider that one day, some insane demagogue might incite a populist rebellion and threaten to shit on our country? How did no one think to create some kind of safeguard?

OH WAIT. I DID. IN FUCKING 1787.

Remember that Constitution you guys all say you loooove so much? Yeah, I wrote that shit. All of it. Even though for some reason you assholes keep thinking it was Jefferson. And because I’m way smarter than all of you, I wrote in a little something I call the Electoral College.

ARTICLE II SECTION 1, NIMRODS. Maybe if you had paid attention in civics class instead of fantasizing about having seven seconds in heaven with Joey Leibowitz during free period you would know about it. But here, let me break it down for you…

As The Band Plays ‘Nearer My God To Thee’

(Washington) State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, says he’ll introduce a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would allow felony prosecution of protesters who purposely break the law to disrupt economic activity, for example by blocking traffic or sitting on railroad tracks…

…An ally of the fossil-fuel industry whose district includes two oil refineries, Ericksen said he was aiming at punishing environmentalists, tribal activists and others who have illegally obstructed oil and coal trains, pipelines and similar projects.

Ericksen’s proposal, not yet introduced in bill form, would make it a class C felony when illegal protests aimed at causing economic disruption jeopardize public safety and property, according to a news release. It also would make organizations that sponsor or fund such protests liable for triple the economic damages caused.

I completely support your First Amendment right to protest. You do not have the First Amendment right to block a train,” Ericksen said in an interview.

He pointed to continuing anti-fracking protests in Olympia, where activists have set up camps over railroad tracks. He said his proposal would not apply to legal protests, such as peaceful picketing.

There are already laws on the books allowing police to remove demonstrators blocking streets or railways. In recent months, dozens of protesters have been arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges for blocking freight and passenger trains in Bellingham and Vancouver, Wash.

State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said she was “kind of shocked” to even hear of Ericksen’s idea.

As The Band Plays ‘Nearer My God To Thee’

(the) election has serious ramifications for us all. And when it comes to the surveillance state, it’s unlikely that a person who ran as the self-described “law and order” candidate will attempt to constrain surveillance programs or work to limit law enforcement access to private data. As a former section chief for internet freedom in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor argued, “We can’t trust…with today’s NSA.”

Surveillance is a feminist issue. At its core, contemplating the surveillance state, as Dr. Nicole Shepherd writes, “necessarily involves questioning its underlying power relations” and drawing upon “decades of [feminist] experience in dealing with precisely [the same] questions in different contexts.” What’s more, the people most targeted by and vulnerable to surveillance don’t look like me. As Alvaro Bedoya, the Executive Director of Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy & Technology, argues, “There is a myth in this country that in a world where everyone is watched, everyone is watched equally.” People of color, activists, and community organizers disproportionately are targets of the surveillance state.

Here are five things you can do to help you protect yourself from the surveillance state under (the incoming) administration. Many of my suggestions will echo those already made by others, so please do check those out too…

As The Band Plays ‘Nearer My God To Thee’

Show 3 footnotes

  1. In case you’ve forgotten, Sessions was deemed too racist to become a Federal judge. One supposes he’s repented, changed his ways and has offered Alabama’s constituency an enlightened leadership in Congress, n’est-ce pas? Heh heh heh…
  2. Yet another case of folks with more money than sense; this is LA, for pity’s sake. The biggest threat to the area is a massive earthquake, followed by the resulting tsunami – the very last place you want to be in that event is underground.
  3. This is the second such petition; this one has more than enough signatures for the WH to review and respond to it.

More Trump Stupidity

Over at the WaPo –and every other decent news org— we discover that some ancient (2013) NSA hack toolz have been made “public.” 1 2 3 4 5 Said the New York Times:

“Most of the code was designed to break through network firewalls and get inside the computer systems of competitors like Russia, China and Iran. That, in turn, allows the N.S.A. to place ‘implants’ in the system, which can lurk unseen for years and be used to monitor network traffic or enable a debilitating computer attack.”

Though NSA-level tools being made available is news in itself, we bring it up because…

…which is relevant because:

Got that? Trump has started receiving intel briefs and has vehemently stated that he will not allow his campaign staff (or his putative White House staff/administration) to receive bribes fees from foreign powers for “speaking.”

Except of course for Gen. Flynn, well known for his Russian sympathies, not to mention his penchant for taking speaking fees from Russia.

So we have a pretend Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States; one who has serially expressed his admiration for Vladimir Putin and who has strong business ties with Russia; whose top military/foreign affairs advisor loves Russian rubles 6; whose erstwhile campaign chief, Paul Manafort, appears to have been on the take to the tune of $12.7 million in undisclosed and definitely without a single doubt boy howdy this is dirty money and lots of it! potentially illegal cash payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine; a candidate whose wife just spent last weekend  with gal pal Wendi Deng Murdoch (Rupert’s ex-wife and now reportedly dating Vladimir Putin)  “sight seeing” 7 in Croatia….

If this were a novel it would take someone of David Cornwell’s caliber to pull off with a straight face.

As it is, it’s a farce of an election that will rightly destroy the Republican party as currently constituted. And not a moment too soon.

More Trump Stupidity

Show 7 footnotes

  1. Your gonna have to buy them…if you know who to contact and have enough secret money to put in a non-risible bid. Right, not something you’re conversant with.
  2. Though…bitcoins? Not sure I would trust their use at this point; there is other cryptocash available — NOT worked over by major governmental players– to offer reasonably safe alternatives. Though, given we’re talking intel agencies here, maybe that’s the point: perhaps this is a reverse honey-pot, perhaps NSA or whomevah has deliberately leaked via back channels some old software that is fully loaded with undetectable RATs, hoping to discover (via the cryptocash trail) new power players. If that seems overly Machiavellian, then you don’t know your alphabet agencies, my friend.
  3. Although you can see what’s in the tool set here. Go ahead; don’t be afraid.
  4. They were posted to a staging server run by something known as the Equation Group.
  5.  Also available – NSA’s ANT division catalogue of exploits for…well, everything. Oh, you haven’t seen that? Here you go
  6. Though, honestly? I expect Flynn insists on dollars; probably small, unmarked bills – nothing larger than a $20.
  7. Ugh.