Thursday, September 21, 2017

In War of Elton John Lyrics, Kim Jong Un Calls Trump "Honky Cat," "Yellow-Wigged Toad"

North Korean leader Kim Jung Un. (photo: Linda Davidson/Washington Post)
North Korean leader Kim Jung Un. (photo: Linda Davidson/Washington Post)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
20 September 17

n what some security experts fear could be a high-stakes war of Elton John lyrics, minutes after Donald Trump called Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man,” the North Korean dictator responded by calling Trump “Honky Cat.”

As he issued the Elton John-based attack, Kim warned that he had an extensive collection of the singer-songwriter’s albums and was prepared to weaponize every lyric in them.

The White House immediately struck back, warning Kim that “any further provocation involving an Elton John lyric, especially ‘Tiny Dancer,’ will be seen as an act of war.”
But any hope that Kim would be silenced was short-lived.

Responding to the White House, Kim stated, “I see the bitch is back,” before signing off, “Goodbye, Yellow-Wigged Toad.”


+30 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-09-20 18:07
this is classic. The war of Elton John lyrics has begun. It is much better than a nuclear war. Kim Jong Un's father was a fan of Elvis, so moving up to Elton John is good to see.

I sure as hell would prefer to be a Rocket Man than a Honky Cat. The name fits Trump very well. I have a feeling it will stick.

Honky Cat

They said, get back, honky cat
Better get back to the woods
Well, I quit those days and my redneck ways
And, oh, the change is gonna do me good

You better get back, honky cat
Living in the city ain't where it's at
It's like trying to find gold in a silver mine
It's like trying to drink whiskey from a bottle of wine

Oh, yeah

get back, honky cat
get back, honky cat
get back

+2 # Caliban 2017-09-20 22:46
You have to love Elton, but the lyrics in question (and those for most of Elton's hits) were written by the great Bernie Taupin.

+5 # James Klimaski 2017-09-21 02:50
Hope this battle remains only a war of words until the two of them pass on to oblivion.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Facebook allowed ads to target terms like 'Jew hater' and 'How to burn jews'

The Facebook sign and logo is seen in Menlo Park, California on November 4, 2016.  / AFP / JOSH EDELSON        (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Not good Facebook.
ProPublica’s Julia Angwin, Madeline Varner, and Ariana Tobin have a disturbing article about the ease with which they were able to buy advertising space on Facebook that targeted clearly anti-semitic keywords and phrases. These “categories,” weren’t ones the authors came up with, they were provided by Facebook’s advertising system itself.
Until this week, when we asked Facebook about it, the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of “Jew hater,” “How to burn jews,” or, “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’”
To test if these ad categories were real, we paid $30 to target those groups with three “promoted posts” — in which a ProPublica article or post was displayed in their news feeds. Facebook approved all three ads within 15 minutes.
After being contacted about this, Facebook pulled these phrases out and blamed an algorithm that created the “categories.” This all comes after weeks of revelations, including the fact that Facebook, after denying there was any evidence for months, admitted to having sold at least $100,000 worth of advertising to Russian bot accounts, and promoting right wing propaganda. The way an algorithm like the anti-semitic one is created is clearly driven by an ability to match a venn diagram of enough groups of people to make advertising targeting attractive to any potential customer—even Hitler apparently. When the reporters found “Jew hater,” the sample size was too small, unless coupled with some other “categories,” to buy an ad.
Facebook’s automated system suggested “Second Amendment” as an additional category that would boost our audience size to 119,000 people, presumably because its system had correlated gun enthusiasts with anti-Semites.
Instead, we chose additional categories that popped up when we typed in “jew h”: “How to burn Jews,” and “History of ‘why jews ruin the world.’” Then we added a category that Facebook suggested when we typed in “Hitler”: a category called “Hitler did nothing wrong.” All were described as “fields of study.”
ProPublica is clear to point out that the more heinously named categories have very small numbers of people in comparison to the majority Facebook patrons.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Republicans rush to destroy healthcare with 'cruel' bill that smashes both ACA and Medicaid

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, speaks about the Senate Republican's healthcare bill at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, June 27, 2017..Republicans eager to repeal "Obamacare" suffered a deeply embarrassing setback Tuesday when shrinking support forced them to postpone votes on their controversial health care overhaul, one of President Donald Trump's top priorities. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and the Republicans are so fixated on blowing up everything that Barack Obama touched, that they don’t give any thought to how many people are caught in the explosion. While it may have seemed that their efforts to annihilate the American health care system with a poorly-constructed, hastily assembled, fundamentally awful bill ended in failure back in August, they’re back. And they’ve doubled down on a bill that would:
  • Give states the option of ending protection on pre-existing conditions
  • Allow insurance companies to raise rates when someone becomes ill
  • Implement a formula that robs blue states to fund red states
That last point makes the bill especially attractive to some Republican Senators. Even though the bill would hurt people in their owns states, it would hurt people in California and New York so much worse. In fact, the bill is specifically designed to attack the states that have done the most to help their own citizens. The more programs and assistance a state has implemented, the more it’s punished. The more slothful, stingy, and insensitive a state has been, the greater its reward. That’s an idea Republicans can sell.

As the New York Times puts it …
It is hard to overstate the cruelty of the Graham-Cassidy bill. It would eliminate the mandate that even healthy people buy health insurance, end the subsidies that help people purchase coverage and stop the expansion of Medicaid. It would offer states block grants they could use to help people get insurance but would leave people at the mercy of individual state legislatures and, over all, would provide $239 billion less than what the federal government would spend under current law between 2020 and 2026, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
This is a not just a threat to the ACA, not just an end to Medicaid. It’s a bill expressly designed to harm people for the crime of living in blue states. And it’s very, very close to passing. 

URGENT: There’s a new Obamacare repeal bill in the Senate. (Yes, AGAIN.) Call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to save our healthcare.

Of course, Republicans didn’t restrict their attacks to only blue states. Among those states most harmed by Graham–Cassidy are Alaska, Maine, and Arizona. States that, by a total coincidence, are home to Republican senators who voted against the last attempt to thoughtlessly disrupt one sixth of the economy and the lives of millions of Americans.

That doesn’t mean that Graham–Cassidy is going to be voted down by the same crew. It could just as easily mean that one or more of those Republican senators acts on the lesson of “independent thought will be punished” and joins the rest of the collective in the “yes” column. After all, the whole purpose of this bill is to divide up the money the federal government doles out for health care into block grants given to each state, and it’s already been demonstrated that the formula used to determine the cut that each state gets can easily be tweeked to make it much larger, or punishingly small.

Republicans are literally playing with numbers to kill Americans in the states that dont’ go their way. Death panels turn out to be real after all.

This bill is not only destructive to healthcare, the way Republicans are pushing it through the Senate represents the end of that chamber as a debating body. Under the pretense that holding public hearings would just allow Democrats to bring up issues — which Republicans won’t tolerate — Mitch McConnell has clamped down on the process in a way that hasn’t been seen in over a century.

And that’s just the start. The way in which McConnell intends to push the bill through, allowing no debate, no amendments, no objections, has never been done. It’s an absolutely unprecedented expression of single-party rule.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Trump: These Storms Are the Biggest We’ve Ever Seen! But Also, We’ve Seen Bigger.

Donald Trump in Texas. (photo: Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images)
Donald Trump in Texas. (photo: Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images)

By Emily Atkin, The New Republic
17 September 17
hen hurricanes Harvey and Irma were each barreling toward the United States, the president couldn’t help but be amazed. “Hurricane looks like largest ever recorded in the Atlantic!” Trump tweeted (correctly) a few days before Irma made landfall in Florida. The week before, he expressed similar wonderment at Harvey, which was the most extreme rainfall event in American history. “HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming,” he said in one tweet. “Now experts are calling #Harvey a once in 500 year flood!” he said in another.

But now Trump, when confronted with the fact that climate change likely turned these storms into the record-breaking events they were, has changed his tune. Maybe those storms weren’t so big after all.

Sam Stein @samstein

Trump, finally, asked about if hurricanes are changing his views of climate change.

“We’ve had bigger storms than this,” he responds.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pope Says Humanity Will 'Go Down' if It Does Not Address Climate Change

Pope Francis talks to journalists during a press 
conference aboard a plane to Rome at the end of his visit to Colombia 
September 11, 2017. (photo: Andrew Medichini/Reuters)
Pope Francis talks to journalists during a press conference aboard a plane to Rome at the end of his visit to Colombia September 11, 2017. (photo: Andrew Medichini/Reuters)

By Philip Pullella, Reuters
11 September 17
ope Francis said the recent spate of hurricanes should prompt people to understand that humanity will “go down” if it does not address climate change and history will judge those who deny the science on its causes.

“If we don’t turn back, we will go down,” Francis told reporters on Sunday on the plane returning from Colombia. Francis strongly backed the 2015 Paris agreement on reducing global warming, from which the United States withdrew this year.

Francis spoke as hurricane Irma pounded central Florida as it carved through the state with high winds, storm surges and torrential rains that left millions without power, ripped roofs off homes and flooded city streets.

Francis was asked about recent hurricanes, including Irma and Harvey, and if political leaders who do not want to work with other countries to stem global warming should be held morally responsible for future effects on the planet.

“You can see the effects of climate change and scientists have clearly said what path we have to follow,” he said, referring to a consensus by scientists that global warming is caused by human activity such as fossil fuels.

“All of us have a responsibility, all of us, small or large, a moral responsibility. We have to take it seriously. We can’t joke about it,” he said. “Each person has their own. Even politicians have their own.”

Ahead of the Paris summit in 2015, Francis wrote a major encyclical, or papal letter, on the care of the environment which backed the gradual elimination of fossil fuels to stem global warming.

The accord, agreed on by nearly 200 countries, aims to cut emissions blamed for global warming. The United States committed to reducing its own by 26 to 28 percent, compared with 2005 levels, by 2025. Many world leaders criticized Trump for pulling out.

“If someone is doubtful that this is true, they should ask scientists. They are very clear. These are not opinions made on the fly. They are very clear. Then each person can decide and history will judge the decisions,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris agreement shortly after visiting the Vatican in May. The Vatican had urged him to stay in the accord.

A Vatican official said at the time that the U.S. move was a “slap in the face” for the pope and the Vatican.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Growing ethical crimes of Sarah Huckabee-Sanders


This week WH spokeshill Sarah Huckabee-Sanders seems to be intent on building a greater and greater pile of ethical and moral gaffes and crimes than any other Press Secretary in History.  First of all she advocated for an ESPN reporter to be fired because she had said the Donald “There are Nice Nazis/Both Sides/The Alf-Left came Charging/My father doesn't rent to Niggers/I don’t like black people touching my money/The Central Park Five should have been executed/Look at my Black Guy/Mexicans are Rapists/Muslims cheered 9/11” Trump is a “White Supremist.”

I mean who could ever get an impression like that?

According to former Federal Ethics Watchdog Walter Schaub that may have been a crime.
This law essentially states certain government employees -- including the president, vice president and "any other executive branch employee" -- are prohibited from influencing the employment decisions or practices of a private entity (such as ESPN) "solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation."
Breaking this law can lead to a fine or imprisonment up to 15 years -- possibly both -- and could lead to disqualification from "holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States."

Now it might be argued that Huckabee-Sanders suggested that Jemele Hill be fired wasn’t “solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation” because we don't really know what her party is, but we do know what part Trump is in and that that party has had a direct association with White Supremacy ever since the KKK supporting Dixiecrats split off from the Democratic Party because Truman desegregated the military and their nominee for President in 1948, Strom Thurman, became a Republican. 

Also the fact that former KKK Grand Dragon David Duke ran for Governor of Louisiana as a Republican is a bit of a hint of which party they think is on their side.

On top of this, Huckabee-Sanders also this week openly claimed that former FBI Director James Comey should be prosecuted by the DOJ because they didn’t like that he leaked his own notes to the press and he gave testimony that Trump doesn’t like.

Speaking yesterday in the White House’s daily media briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Comey had violated the Privacy Act, a law regulating how personal information can be used and publicized by federal government agencies.
Huckabee Sanders said the Department of Justice (DOJ) should look into prosecuting former FBI Director James Comey.
In response, close Comey confidant Ben Wittes told The Hill the charges against his friend were a “disgusting abuse” by the White House and its press secretary.
“It is, substantially, completely frivolous and it would warrant nothing more than amusement were she not doing it from the White House podium,” Wittes, a legal journalist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution said.
Democrat Representative for California Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee which is investigating the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials, said he believed the White House was engaged in a smear campaign.
“This is not what cooperative, innocent people do,” he said. “Cooperative innocent people work with prosecutors, not against them,” Swalwell added.
Her claims just by complete and total coincidence were also repeated by Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekoluw and interestingly it was noticed by Preet Bharara.

As i’ve previously written these actions by Sanders and Sekolow could be themselves considered witness intimidation and obstruction. 

As the news broke, I was on the phone with Stephen Kohn, partner at a law firm focused on whistleblower protection. We’d been talking about where the boundaries lay for Comey in what he could and couldn’t do with the information about his conversations with the president. Kohn’s response to the story about Kasowitz, though, was visceral.
“Here is my position on that: Frivolous grandstanding,” he said. “First of all, I don’t believe the inspector general would have jurisdiction over Comey any more, because he’s no longer a federal employee.” The inspector general’s job is to investigate wrongdoing by employees of the Justice Department, which Comey is no longer, thanks to Trump — though the IG would have the ability to investigate an allegation of criminal misconduct.
“But, second,” he continued, “initiating an investigation because you don’t like somebody’s testimony could be considered obstruction.And in the whistleblower context, it’s both evidence of retaliation and, under some laws, could be an adverse retaliatory act itself.”
And lastly in the very same press conference Huckabee-Sanders also claimed that Trump’s debt ceiling deal with Schumer and Pelosi was greater bipartisanship than Obama was able to accomplish in his entire 8 years, (Full Briefing Video)

Huckabee Sanders said, “This president has done more for bipartisanship in the last eight days than Obama did in eight years.”
But of course that’s just plain bullshit.

Here are the facts.
Because of divided government, Obama relentlessly pursued Republican votes, and almost all of his domestic policy achievements came from bipartisan deals.
Here is a brief list of Obama’s bipartisan deals via a Real Clear Politics article:
1), The Recovery Act
2). Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
3). Dodd Frank
4). Surveillance reform
5). Food Safety Bill
6). mandatory prison sentence reform
9). 2010 tax cuts
10). 2012 tax cut deal to raise taxes on the very wealthy
11). the sequester
12). numerous CRs negotiated with Republicans to keep the government open
The list above is partial, and there are dozens of more legislative accomplishments during the Obama years that were bipartisan and never got the credit or attention that they deserved.
So to sum up, in one single presentation Sarah Huckabee-Sanders may have violated federal ethics rules, committed witness intimidation and also full on slander against a former President.

Well, aren’t we glad that Trump likes to give high profile heavy responsibility jobs to strong “smart” capable women like Huckabee-Sanders and WH communications director Hope Hicks (only after he’s previously fired guys like Sean Spicer and Anthony “Bannon wants to suck his own cock” Scaramucci that were his first choices for those exact same jobs)?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Beauty Is Truth and Truth Is Factual

Garrison Keillor. (photo: A Prairie Home Companion)
Garrison Keillor. (photo: A Prairie Home Companion)

By Garrison Keillor, Portland Press Herald
12 September 17

Facts have a tendency to bring us down a notch. Even presidents must yield to them.

ruth begins with facts. Facts are solid, like bricks. You build a house out of facts, the wolf won’t blow it down. But you drop a fact on your foot, it hurts.

I learned this as a boy, living near the Mississippi River in Minnesota when I discovered that where the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi near Cairo, Illinois, the Ohio is actually larger than the Mississippi. So it’s the Mississippi that flows into the Ohio. The Ohio is the big show. This fact was shocking to me. I was proud of the river, spent hours on the shore, skipped stones on it, and I felt diminished by the new information. To go from Father of Waters to a mere tributary is a definite fall.

Facts have that tendency to bring us down a notch. I’d been 6-foot-3 since I was in high school and now I’m a half-inch short of that. If people ask, I still say 6-3 but it’s not true and I know it. I’m shrinking.

Even presidents must yield to facts. The horse-faced William Henry Harrison lasted only a month in the White House. He was a military hero, having defeated the Shawnees at the Battle of Tippecanoe in Indiana, and he was anxious to show his intellectual acuity and so, having defeated Martin Van Buren in the 1840 election, Harrison composed a massive speech for his inauguration and stood and delivered it for two hours in a cold rain, a 68-year-old man, hatless, coatless, and then attended three inaugural balls. His wife had stayed home sick and wasn’t there to advise him. A couple weeks later, feeling very ill, he took to his bed. Pneumonia was the diagnosis, though it’s now believed he had a bacterial infection from drinking bad water, there being no sewers in Washington at the time. His doctor dosed him with opium and repeated enemas, and the treatment likely hastened his end.

He had written the speech himself and the first sentence gives you an idea of the style: “Called from a retirement which I had supposed was to continue for the residue of my life to fill the chief executive office of this great and free nation, I appear before you, fellow citizens, to take the oaths which the Constitution prescribes as a necessary qualification for the performance of its duties; and in obedience to a custom coeval with our government and what I believe to be your expectations I proceed to present to you a summary of the principles which will govern me in the discharge of the duties which I shall be called upon to perform.”

In other words, “You elected me president and now I shall address you.”

As he lay in the White House, in an opioid stupor, with a hose up his rear end, W.H.H. might have dreamed of Tippecanoe when he rode around waving his sword at Tecumseh’s warriors, or maybe he revisited the debacle on the Capitol steps, the crowd standing glumly in the cold rain listening to 8,445 words of hogwash and horse feathers which, what with the rain and the lack of a megaphone, were incomprehensible to most onlookers, a faint murmurous croaking like a cricket in the weeds. In the space of one month, a hero became the butt of a joke – Longest Speech led to pneumonia which led to Shortest Term in Office.

Now it appears he died by drinking water that contained his own waste, the executive chamberpot having been emptied on ground near the White House well.

As the current occupant cuts his prime rib under the John Adams inscription on the dining room mantel (“May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof”), he seems impervious to reality. Like many real estate salesmen, the gentleman has a poetic imagination. Any man who comes away from a visit to Houston and says people there are happy is eating the wrong mushrooms. He has stood in a cold rain for seven months, pretending the sun is shining, winning the admiration of a shrinking bloc of barflies, bikers, and Baptists, and now he is drinking bad water, and eventually reality will catch up with him. It always does. He is headed for Harrisondom.

W.H.H. had a large vision of westward expansion but he should’ve thought about sanitation. The Romans had built a massive sewer, the Cloaca Maxima, back in Jeremiah’s day and a system of aqueducts by the time Jesus was in the third grade. Wake up and smell the excrement.