June 26, 2017

∴ A Lumpy Little Puppy in my Life

A light yellow Labrador Retriever puppy, one week old

Kelly and I took a second visit with Jane this past weekend. Jane’s four year-old Lab, Fly, had a litter the weekend before. We weren’t sure we’d get a pup after our visit a month ago, being late to the crowd that Jane’s Labs attract, but Fly gave birth to ten pups. We’re in luck!

We spent a good three hours chatting with Jane the first time around, enjoying her home tucked away from the world and her Labs making a fuss over us. This time around we spent a couple of hours, having ten pups to handle and fuss over in return.

Jane has the pups gathered together in a small kiddie pool layered with dog beds and blankets. Just a week old, these babies still have their eyes and ears shut. They have no trouble tracking their mama around the room by scent, though.

One of these sweeties will come home with us six weeks from now, probably a boy - something different for us - and probably having a light yellow coat, something very familiar and well-loved in our home. Who knows, though? There are seven yellow, three black; six male, four female. We’ll see.

We’ll return to Jane’s home together at least once more in the mean time, if not more, and I’ll visit her place another couple of times on my own. This is how she places her pups, observing each dog’s behavior in the pack and again with prospective adopters.

A black Labrador Retriever puppy, one wek old

It’s the first time I’ve let someone select a dog for me. Admittedly it’s an act of faith. After five hours with Jane talking dogs, handling pups, and getting to know her, I’m comfortable with whichever we bring home.

#dogs #labrador #retriever #janekelsolabs

Trump Confirms he Called Health Care Bill 'mean'

CNNPolitics.com:

During an interview on “Fox and Friends” Sunday morning, Trump was asked about Obama’s Facebook post condemning the Republican health care plan, and the President responded by saying Obama used the descriptor after he originally did.

“Well he actually used my term, ‘mean.’ That was my term,” Trump said. “Because I want to see — and I speak from the heart — that’s what I want to see, I want to see a bill with heart.”

He was against it before he was for it, but after he was for it in the first place. Who’s on first, what’s on second, I don’t know is on third base. Back is white, up is down, and you’re a fool if you believe anything at all coming out of this man’s mouth.

The label “shithead” comes to mind. Despicable just doesn’t cover it.

#Trump #shithead #youOwnHim

June 23, 2017

Trudeau on Trump: ‘He Actually Does Listen’

Ian Austen – The New York Times:

Mr. Trudeau spoke in some detail about his relationship with Mr. Trump and rejected the widespread perception that the president does not listen to opposition views, prompting laughter from some in the audience. But he argued that, at least in his experience, Mr. Trump had remained consistent.

“I have always found that whenever he has made an engagement to me or a commitment to me on the phone or in person, he followed through on that, and that is someone you can work with,” Mr. Trudeau said.

But did his commitments and engagements ever come to anything? I doubt it. Mr. Trump is a victim of whatever the last person said to him. And then there’s the next person, and the next.

The shame of it is, I have more hope and trust in the leadership of Trudeau than I do in Trump’s. Hell, I trusted more in the leadership of G. W. Bush in his final two years than I do in Trump today. At least Bush was a decent man, and I never doubted that he worked toward his vision of what was best for America, Americans, and the world every day, including weekends.

Have a great weekend. I plan on nothing more than a long, hot, sweaty walk, a really good beer at my local brewery, and a half-hour or so look at a pile of puppies. There will be photographs.

I might read a book, too. And have dinner at the home of friends.

#trudeau #trump #weekend

Republican Senator Vital to Health Bill’s Passage Won’t Support It

Jonathan Martin – The New York Times:

Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, perhaps the most vulnerable Republican facing re-election in 2018, said Friday he would not support the newly-released Senate health care overhaul as written, dealing a blow to his party’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Using remarkably caustic language, Mr. Heller, who is seen as a pivotal swing vote, denounced the Senate-drafted health care bill in terms that Democrats swiftly seized on.

“I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans,” he said at a news conference in Las Vegas …

This is a problem for the GOP, and has been since the ACA was upheld by the Supreme Court. Sure, conservatives and libertarians want the legislation undone. Undoing this law, however, has a real, negative, and immediate effect on millions of Americans. Try taking that away and getting elected again. Try, please.

US health insurance goes one of two ways from here. Legislators tinker with the ACA plumbing, improving what’s already there, or we go to a single-payer system. We already have that for people over 65. On the one hand, costs will stabilize once our unpredictable president is swept from the White House. On the other, payroll taxes jump a great deal, and we join the rest of the West in cradle-to-grave guaranteed health care.

#ACA #AHCA

June 21, 2017

McDonald's Hits All-time High as Wall Street Cheers Replacement of Cashiers With Kiosks

Tae Kim – CNBC.com:

Andrew Charles from Cowen cited plans for the restaurant chain to roll out mobile ordering across 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017. The technology upgrades, part of what McDonald’s calls “Experience of the Future,” includes digital ordering kiosks that will be offered in 2,500 restaurants by the end of the year and table delivery.

Another entry-level job out the window.

I experienced this very innovation twenty-five years ago in a Burlington, Massachusetts Taco Bell. Stepped to the front of the line and beheld a kiosk with touch screen ordering. It worked well. There were fewer employees. The meal was delivered as-ordered. It was a quieter experience.

Maybe someday we can go to a fast food place, order food, eat it and leave without speaking to anyone at all. Or just stay home. Forever. Now there’s an innovation.

#thinkAboutIt

What the Watergate Committee Taught Me

Lowell P. Weicker – The New York Times:

In President Richard Nixon’s efforts to hide the truth of the Watergate burglary, it was paramount to stop the F.B.I. investigation. So the president enlisted the C.I.A. director and his deputy to intercede. When the F.B.I. director pushed back and the intelligence officers refused to continue the White House scheme, the cover-up began its slow unraveling.

Weicker, the sole remaining member of the Senate Watergate Committee, pens a brief comparison of the scandal of his days, and of ours.

Laws are nothing if not enforced. Those who break them must be held to account. For that we need a judge. And for a president that begins with an impeachment committee.

Do not sit idly by when such is commissioned in the days ahead. Contact your Congressmen and Senators and advocate for the truth. Your country and its Constitution demand it.

#trump #impeachment

Saudi Arabia Rewrites Succession as King Replaces Heir With Son, 31

Ben Hubbard – The New York Times:

King Salman of Saudi Arabia promoted his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, to be next in line to the throne on Wednesday …

The decision to remove the previous crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, comes as some members of the royal family have chafed at the rise of the younger prince, who emerged from relative obscurity when his father, 81, ascended the throne in January 2015.

As deputy crown prince, he spearheaded the development of a wide-ranging plan, called Saudi Vision 2030, which seeks to decrease the country’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy and loosen some of the conservative, Islamic kingdom’s social restrictions.

The new crown prince reminds me of the “Prince Nasir” character in Syriana. He, too, fancied himself a cultural reformer, seeking the same changes.

Hopefully the same end doesn’t come to Prince Mohammed.

#saudi #arabia #syriana

June 19, 2017

Blew My Mind

These guys never fail to leave me thinking, “what did I just hear?” The second cut from the forthcoming Everything Now, by Arcade Fire:

#arcade #fire #creature #comfort

Senate GOP Considers Deeper Medicaid Cuts Than House Bill

Peter Sullivan – TheHill:

A leading option in the Senate’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace debate is to make even deeper cuts to Medicaid spending than the bill passed by the House, according to lobbyists and aides.

The proposal would start out the growth rate for a new cap on Medicaid spending at the same levels as the House bill, but then drop to a lower growth rate that would cut spending more, known as CPI-U, starting in 2025, the sources said.

That proposal has been sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for analysis, a Senate GOP aide said.

This is a savvy move by Senator Mitch McConnell. By making the Senate version of the health insurance bill so onerous that the CBO report damns it before a vote, Republicans can say they tried, but failed, and move on with the rest of their agenda. There is no way this, or the House bill, becomes law.

As for the rest of their agenda, well, a healthy debate would be nice. It won’t be over taxes, or foreign policy, or social programs. It’ll be over the removal of the fool we’ve elected president.

That’s a story for another day.

#mitch #mcconnell #senate #republicans #aca #ahca #obamacare #medicaid

June 17, 2017

Boeing's Two New Jets - Beautiful Aerial Photography

Easy to forget that these are passenger jets, particularly while viewing their full-throttle, lightly loaded runway departures. You’ll never experience a climb like this out of O’Hare!

Interesting that Boeing employs a larger version of Airbus Industrie’s long-used double wingtip extensions on the 737-MAX. You’ve probably seen similar on most jet aircraft – they detach wingtip vortices that increase drag, improving fuel mileage. In Boeing’s first-round test on the previous generation 737, single wingtip extensions paid for themselves in fuel savings within a year.

View this short video full screen for best effect.

#boeing #nextgen #aircraft #737-max #787-10

Arcade Fire: Everything Now

Imagine if the rest of the album rises to this poignancy. So great.

#arcade #fire #everything #now

Everything It Will Take to Get Faster Wi-Fi on Planes

Alexis Madrigal – The Atlantic:

A plane is a flying data-generating machine. Honeywell wants to tie all of these data streams together. They want to sell airlines components, the service for assessing the data that the sensors on those parts generate, apps for pilots, and a host of other services they have rolled under Slyker in a business they call the “Connected Aircraft.” And the charismatic avatar of their capabilities and the coming change is their next-gen internet technology, the Wi-Fi, which they have branded Jetwave.

Fascinating story about the next generation of airborne WiFi, right down to the aircraft antennae, space-based transceivers, and a ground station tucked away in Lino Lakes, Minnesota.

The test aircraft sports some amusing decals highlighting parts built by Honeywell, too. See the article for a photo.

#aircraft #wifi #airborne #high #speed #internet #honeywell #jetwave

June 16, 2017

Sources: GOP Shooter Had List of House Republicans' Names

NBC4 Washington:

The man who opened fire on Republican lawmakers in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday was carrying a handwritten list of House Republicans’ names, NBC News’ Pete Williams reports.

According to officials briefed on the FBI investigation, the list included Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama and others who officials would not reveal.

This is the nut of our cultural argument: mental unbalance comes in many flavors; how do we preserve the rights of the law-abiding many and restrict the rights of the dangerous few?

U.S. Navy Destroyer Collides With Merchant Vessel in Japan

Aria Bendix – The Atlantic:

A U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer known as the U.S.S. Fitzgerald has been considerably damaged following a collision with a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel on Friday at around 2:30 p.m. local time in Japan.

There are reports of injuries, but the extent and number of them are still “being determined,” according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. Multiple sources have confirmed that the Fitzgerald’s captain is severely injured and the executive officer has taken control of the ship. A medevac for at least one injured sailor has also been carried out.

USS Fitzgerald

Bad news for the USN. Collision at sea in the middle of the afternoon begs the question, how?

Unusual that the commanding officer was injured.

#usn #ussfitzgerald #collisionAtSea

America’s New Tobacco Crisis: The Rich Stopped Smoking, the Poor Didn’t

William Wan – The Washington Post:

Americans have finally done what once seemed impossible: Most of the country has quit smoking, saving millions of lives and leading to massive reductions in cancer.

That is, unless those Americans are poor, uneducated or live in a rural area.

The last time Cassell tried to quit was three months ago, after a doctor’s test gave her a lung cancer scare. “It was like losing my best friend,” she said. “My cigarettes have kept me company for 40 years, longer than just about anyone in my life.”

Addiction is like that: it persists despite logic and reasoning.

The same people tend to die younger, too.

#smoking #education #health

June 14, 2017

Fox News Drops ‘Fair and Balanced’ Motto

Michael M. Grynbaum – The New York Times:

In the latest sign of change at the cable news network, the “Fair and Balanced” motto that has long been a rallying cry for Fox News fans — and a finger in the eye of critics — is gone. The channel confirmed on Wednesday that slogan and network have parted ways.

Say it ain’t so.

Maybe they realized the motto was more a source of mockery than a badge of honor.

#Fox #News

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is Investigating Trump for Possible Obstruction of Justice, Officials Say

Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Sari Horwitz – The Washington Post:

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation …

As though he’s following a “didn’t learn anything from Watergate” script: it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.

The Post’s sources indicate Mr. Trump was not, as former FBI Director Comey assured him more than once, personally under investigation, until Comey was fired. The president has that authority, but terminating the lead investigator into his administration’s possible wrong-doing and then bragging about it to the Russian delegation is a de-facto admission of interference.

No wonder these jokers were trying to discredit Bob Mueller earlier this week.

Again, seems a big deal.

#trump #obstruction #of #justice #investigation #robert #bob #mueller #notTooBright

Wind and Solar in March Accounted for 10% of U.S. Electricity Generation for First Time

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA):

For the first time, monthly electricity generation from wind and solar (including utility-scale plants and small-scale systems) exceeded 10% of total electricity generation in the United States, based on March data in EIA’s Electric Power Monthly. Electricity generation from both of these energy sources has grown with increases in wind and solar generating capacity. On an annual basis, wind and solar made up 7% of total U.S. electric generation in 2016.

Seems a big deal.

#electricity #energy #alternative #fuels

June 13, 2017

Republicans to Trump: Hands off Mueller

Austin Wright and Kyle Cheney – POLITICO:

Late Monday, PBS’ Judy Woodruff reported that, per a close friend, Chris Ruddy, Trump himself is weighing the prospect of pulling the plug on Mueller’s probe. And one of the president’s lawyers said Sunday that Trump hadn’t taken that option off the table.

But that would be a huge mistake, Republican lawmakers said Monday.

“It would be a disaster,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) “There’s no reason to fire Mueller. What’s he done to be fired?”

There are, apparently, a few Republican statesmen left in DC.

#Trump #Mueller #Russia

June 10, 2017

“Above all I am completely gutted” - Tom Hardy Pens Long, Heartfelt Letter to his Dead Dog, Woody

William Hughes – The A.V. Club:

Tom Hardy has cut out a niche for himself as Hollywood’s latest go-to guy for playing tough, frequently filthy men. But even dirty badasses love their dogs, as Hardy recently reminded the world, penning a long letter of tribute to his beloved pooch, Woody, who died earlier this week at the age of 6.

“The world for me was a better place with him in it and by my side.”

Identify.

#dogs #are #a #grace #tom #hardy

Republicans are Predicting the Beginning of the End of the Tea Party in Kansas

Ana Swanson and Max Ehrenfreund – The Washington Post:

Kansas was at the heart of the tea party revolution, a red state where, six years ago, a deeply conservative group of Republicans took the state for a hard right turn. Now, after their policies failed to produce the results GOP politicians promised, the state has become host to another revolution: a resurgence of moderate Republicans.

Moderate Republicans joined with Democrats this week to raise state taxes, overriding GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto and repudiating the conservative governor’s platform of ongoing tax cuts. The vote was a demonstration of the moderates’ newfound clout in the state Republican Party. Brownback was unable to successfully block the bill because many of the die-hard tax cut proponents had either retired or been voted out of office, losing to more centrist candidates in GOP primaries.

A promising start. I may be able to again vote for a Republican in my lifetime.

In the mean time, Brownback’s time has passed, and his policies have failed. Time for him to go.

#GOP #Tea #Party #hope #moderate #Republican

June 8, 2017

Mr. Comey and All the President’s Lies

The New York Times:

Confronted later with the sworn testimony of a dignified and affronted lawman, the White House press office, its own credibility in tatters, was left to feebly insist, “The president is not a liar.”

And Nixon was not a crook.

Who do you believe?

#Trump #notTrump #stillAFraud

June 6, 2017

Top Intelligence Official: Trump Asked Him if he Could Intervene with Comey on FBI Russia Probe

Adam Entous – The Washington Post:

[Director of National Intelligence] Coats discussed the conversation with other officials and decided that intervening with Comey as Trump had suggested would be inappropriate, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters.

The events involving Coats show the president went further than just asking intelligence officials to deny publicly the existence of any evidence showing collusion during the 2016 election, as The Washington Post reported in May. The interaction with Coats indicates that Trump aimed to enlist top officials to have Comey curtail the bureau’s probe.

Trump similarly approached Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to ask him to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of coordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign, as the Post previously reported, according to current and former officials. Like Coats, Rogers refused to comply with the president’s request.

Nixon did the same in 1972. The first article of impeachment against him was obstruction of justice.

#Trump #impeachable #offense

June 5, 2017

Naval Warfare History

Navy.com:

75 years ago, on June 4th, 1942, the fate of the Pacific rested on the shoulders of America’s Sailors at Midway. Find out how this inspiring story of bravery and sacrifice turned the tide of WWII, and forever changed the course of history.

I recall reading about the Battle of Midway as a boy. In a single day, the US Navy sank the four Japanese aircraft carriers sent to destroy the US’ forward base at Midway, and sent their battle groups hurrying back home for repair. It was perhaps our Navy’s finest day.

Navy.com has a thorough compilation of the precursors to that day, the battle, and the carrier-centric legacy our Navy embraces to this day.

#Battle #of #Midway #US #Navy #history #World #War #II #Pacific #Theater

The Myth of the Kindly General Lee

Ada Serwer  The Atlantic:

The myth of Lee goes something like this: He was a brilliant strategist and devoted Christian man who abhorred slavery and labored tirelessly after the war to bring the country back together.

There is little truth in this. Lee was a devout Christian, and historians regard him as an accomplished tactician. But despite his ability to win individual battles, his decision to fight a conventional war against the more densely populated and industrialized North is considered by many historians to have been a fatal strategic error.

But even if one conceded Lee’s military prowess, he would still be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans in defense of the South’s authority to own millions of human beings as property because they are black. Lee’s elevation is a key part of a 150-year-old propaganda campaign designed to erase slavery as the cause of the war and whitewash the Confederate cause as a noble one. That ideology is known as the Lost Cause, and as historian David Blight writes, it provided a “foundation on which Southerners built the Jim Crow system.”

Excellent summation of the controversy surrounding Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy, and the whitewash called the “Lost Cause.” Lee was a very different man than his legend holds, and as such he was the epitome of the Southern white man before, during, and after the American Civil War.

Lee and his Confederacy belong in museums and history books, not in statuary and memorials. That war made the United States what we are still, one nation - at times for better or worse - of disparate sub-cultures. It also exposed an ugly truth about white America descended from Europeans. We talk a good game about individual liberty, but have great capacity for subjugation as long as it’s of someone else.

#American #culture #Civil #War #Robert #E #Lee #Confederacy #Lost #Cause

June 2, 2017

Trump Will Withdraw U.S. From Paris Climate Agreement

Michael D. Shear – The New York Times:

President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty.

Fool. Both our allies and Trump’s opponents have come out against his action.

The sooner Trump is removed from office, the better. The man is nothing but a toady for the baser instincts of his wealthy supporters. He knows nothing of the effect of his actions, and does not care.

#Trump #fraud #Paris #Accord #mistake

May 30, 2017

We Won’t Let Hate Win

Hannah Al-Othman – BuzzFeed:

“We will not quit or operate in fear. We won’t let this divide us. We won’t let hate win … Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before.” Ariana Grande — joined by a growing cast of fellow artists — will return to Manchester this weekend to perform a benefit concert.

The future looks bright, because the young are still optimists. Tell me it ain’t so. Go on.

#ariana #grande #hope

Tiger Woods DUI -- Everyman

Kevin D. Williamson – National Review:

There is something in our puritanical national soul that is satisfied by the fact that those who fly higher have farther to fall. These episodes bring out something ignoble in us. But it isn’t just celebrities, of course: The high and mighty are just the ones we talk about. An astonishing share of lottery winners go broke, and it isn’t because people with low character or weak wills are just lucky with the numbers. People like Tiger Woods and Allen Iverson, who win life’s lottery, often have the same bad luck in the end: the bad luck of being human.

A brief, yet telling study of Iverson, Woods, and the American cultural infatuation with icons and their eventual falls. Frankly, I’d fail the “Iverson test,” as the author calls it, too.

Worth a read.

[Woods has claimed a mix of prescription drugs, not alcohol, led to his DUI arrest.]

#Iverson #Woods #American #icons #heroes #fall #from #grace

Merkel, After Discordant G-7 Meeting, Is Looking Past Trump

So’s the rest of Europe, Vladimir Putin must hope.

Alison Smale and Steven Erlanger – The New York Times:

Clearly disappointed with Mr. Trump’s positions on NATO, Russia, climate change and trade, Ms. Merkel said in Munich on Sunday that traditional alliances were no longer as steadfast as they once were and that Europe should pay more attention to its own interests “and really take our fate into our own hands.”

“The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are somewhat over,” Ms. Merkel added, speaking on the campaign trail after a contentious NATO summit meeting in Brussels and a Group of 7 meeting in Italy. “This is what I experienced in the last few days.”

Ms. Merkel’s strong comments were a potentially seismic shift in trans-Atlantic relations. With the United States less willing to intervene overseas, Germany is becoming an increasingly dominant power in a partnership with France.

One early verdict in what we had in President Obama, and what will become part of his legacy, was the last act of Pax Americana – the final act of the 20th century superpower. Mr. Trump will preside over the tipping point into a long, international US decline for his ignorance of America’s rightful place in the world.

Europe has awakened to not only its own strengths, but the necessity of them. In Donald Trump’s America they can no longer trust. This is a good thing in one sense: we as a nation may no longer see the need or the desire by others for our “world’s policeman” role. On the other hand, American influence will wane. That’s a clear danger not only to our own interests, but those of other liberal democracies, as well.

#Trump #long #term #consequences

May 28, 2017

Sunday Morning Read

Umair Haque – Medium:

It’s quite clear now that America is in the initial stages of collapse. Let me be clear about what that means.

A five-minute read, broken down into four points. I don’t know that I fully agree with Haque’s conclusion, but this column does naturally follow last week’s, and with that column I fully agree.

This is not a blame America first column. This is an America, working to fix the world, neglected to develop itself column.

We have, as a culture and a governed people, failed to move beyond the segregation that followed slavery by moving to an egalitarian society. Instead, we harbored resentments sprung from legislated change. We denied or scorned benefits enacted to help less fortunate and historically denied persons a hand up, or accused all of gaming the system given the example of a few.

Outcomes of this stagnation of thought mentioned by Haque:

Collapse means that America is broken in nearly every conceivable way. Go ahead, and pick an “indicator”, as the Vox types like to call it — any simple fact of social reality. Here are three of my favorites, because they determine people’s quality of life. Life expectancy, income, trust. All three are falling now.

You’d expect the beneficiaries of a stagnated culture, those in the privileged class, to show the least damage from it. No. Death by suicide is climbing among white men, outstripping other self-inflicted causes of death. The center is failing to hold.

Our contemporaries throughout the rest of the West matured, expanded the reach of what they’d fought for last century, and prospered, while our culture stagnated.

Think on this essay this Memorial Day weekend as you contemplate the sacrifice of so many American men and women in armed conflict. What did they fight for? What does the Constitution of the United States exist to achieve? How did their sacrifice benefit all of us when life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are still routinely denied to an increasing number of our citizens?

Don’t think so? How do you explain the outcome that is Mr. Trump, the haters, and the despaired of spirit and employment we saw supporting his campaign? How do you explain the wage and social stagnation that has gripped our economy and segments of our population since the 1970s?

Perhaps you’ll write about it.

#American #culture #politics #Western  

May 27, 2017

∴ Spectre Trailer Re-cut With Moore as Bond, via Daring Fireball

John Gruber posts a short piece and a link to the film trailer for Spectre re-cut with Roger Moore as James Bond. It’s an interesting watch for any Bond fan, so if that’s you, take a look.

I’m undecided about his conclusion, though. Gruber states “Makes me think the franchise could use some Moore-like suaveness when they recast the role post-Craig,” and as a well-known fan of the fictional character he’s welcome to his informed opinion. I lean toward disagreement, however.

The revelation of Craig as Bond wasn’t his blond hair, blue eyes, or his “perfectly-formed arse,” as Vesper Lynde put it. It was his grim, no-nonsense approach to Bond’s true job description: assassin. He’s no spy, not when he’s instantly recognized everywhere, as was Moore’s interpretation.

Craig’s intrigue is his matter-of-factness about his character’s work. I don’t know how suave – a manly-yet-feminine charisma –  fits into that when Bond’s hallmark, going back to Sean Connery, is “bang, you’re dead.” Or to quote Tuco’s law, “When you have to shoot, shoot; don’t talk.” Moore’s Bond had a wee too much cute dialog for me.

I’m likely seeing this through the lens of my preferred spy flick, the quieter, slower, and occasionally uglier type depicted in screenwriting based on le Carré, and The Good Shepherd. Call this my Bond preference, and cheers to Gruber’s take. I think we’d agree that the next choice of actor will be fascinating. Until then, I’m content with my spare, minimalist killer.

#James #Bond #Daniel #Craig #Roger #Moore #Spectre #trailer #recut

∴ An Adieu to Commander Bond

As many news outlets reported this past week, actor Roger Moore has died. A touching anecdote made the rounds, reproduced here.

More recently the NYT published a piece including brief video clips, a one-line review and a link to the full contemporaneous review of each of Moore’s outings as British secret agent James Bond. Please do click through for the videos and full reviews. My thanks to the Times for publishing their walk-through.

My friends know me as an inveterate Bond fan, and some know which Bond(s) I describe as “best.” I tend to be picky about what I like, and I’m often harsh on the parts of otherwise entertaining films that suck. I’m going to excerpt the Times article’s one-liners and drop in a comment or two about each, because it’s been quite a while since I devoted any time to watching a Bond film starring Roger Moore. These quickie reviews and the video clips brought back memories. Some were good.

I should begin by saying that Moore did not play my favorite Bond. Though he portrayed the character with a certain panache, his take on the role pales in comparison to Sean Connery’s dated, yet still bracing action hero or Daniel Craig’s brooding, contemporary killer. I’d put Moore’s Bond one hair below Pierce Brosnan’s first effort. Brosnan was widely anticipated as the next Bond after Moore retired from the role.

Remember Remington Steele? Brosnan’s television contract kept him out of the Bond role through Timothy Dalton’s two outings.

Brosnan’s Bond roles started out well enough with GoldenEye, but went downhill over the next three films. He looked a wee too aged by the time he was done, a fate shared with Moore.

I put Dalton’s Bond a hair above Brosnan’s. Dalton played Bond more in the mold of Daniel Craig’s grim killer, but suffered from a poor set of scripts to work from and a tired director. John Glen was on his fourth and fifth Bond films by then. Dalton’s take on the role was headed in the right direction, though.

George Lazenby took the role in the same direction as Moore: a bemused civil servant, who appeared surprised he’d been set loose with a gun and a paycheck. Refusing a multi-film contract, he was not to be heard from again among well-known film actors.

Of the role I’ll say that spies should not be known, or even suspected, lest they be offed or simply sent packing. Bond is an assassin, no more, no less. His mission is to kill in the name of the Queen. Moore’s Bond was far too well-known wherever he went, and far too public in his actions. Blame the screenwriters for that, though, not Moore. He played it as-written. So Bond films are not spy stories, they’re thrillers, or action films.

Despite all that, many regard Moore’s as their favorite rendition of James Bond. Reading through Moore’s epitaphs it dawned on me why. Though I don’t share their optimism for his portrayal of the character, I understand it now.

Moore’s tongue-in-cheek tone made for an action hero who could also amuse. Compare and contrast to Daniel Craig’s tone in each of his four outings as Bond – Craig knows he’s playing a government-sanctioned killer, and lets you know that he knows it – and it’s easy to see the appeal in Moore’s lighter approach. Most folks aren’t looking for ugly geopolitical truths in their fiction.

I prefer my spy stories more subtle and austere, more grim, more consequential. John le Carré’s George Smiley comes to mind. Edward Wilson, the protagonist of The Good Shepherd, too. I’m looking for intellectual stimulation more than action, and true-to-life characters more than cartoons. That said, I appreciate Moore’s Bond for what it was: an English version of Hollywood fluff.

Finally, a little gratuitous appreciation. Moore, quoted in 2012:

I loved Casino Royale and Daniel Craig. He is a wonderful actor, certainly the best actor to play Bond…

Well-put.

Now to the Times quotes:

Live and Let Die (1973)

Moore’s first outing as James Bond. Enough color and zing, if no house afire.

Nothing sticks in my mind more than self-sub-titling this film Bond v. the Black People. Bond’s antagonist is a crypto-strongman/diplomat known as Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto), and Big’s entourage, all African-American, are wrapped around a beautiful, innocent-seeming tarot card-reading white woman (Jane Seymour).

Yes, there’s a plot that has not much to do with race, but after Bond’s initial scene riding a cab uptown through Manhattan into Harlem, and the sub-plot of every black character communicating his location to every other, it’s hard not to see the black v. white subtext. The story assumes the racist notion that all black folks know each other, which is one step away from saying, “you all look the same.” This script is racially tone-deaf.

That’s what screams out to me from this film. I couldn’t un-see it once I saw it. Your mileage may vary.

The best part of this film was its theme song over the opening credits, Wings’ Live and Let Die. It’s among my top-three favorite Bond themes. Kotto and Seymour are accomplished actors, and Kotto’s Mr. Big’s assistant Tee Hee (Julius Harris) amusingly fleshes out what’s an otherwise limited role. Watch for them, if nothing else.

The plot itself is forgettable – I’d forgotten it – and devolves into Bond working to ensnare Mr. Big, a heroin smuggler. My first thought about that angle was, ‘they needed a secret agent for that?’, but Mr. Big’s organization did try knocking him off in the opening scenes, so ….

Verdict: meh.

The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)

James Bond in Asia. No powerhouse but O.K.

Christopher Lee is mildly intriguing, if not questionably sedate as Francisco Scaramanga, the world’s greatest assassin, who charges an even one million dollars (say that in Mike Meyers-as-Dr. Evil’s voice) per hit. His next target is James Bond. Same writers and director as Live and Let Die, similar result. Basically, meh. Not even a memorable theme song from this one.

The one memorable character in this film is Hervé Villechaize as Scaramanga’s assistant, butler, and sometime antagonist, Nick Nack. The scene where Scaramanga pursues a simulated Bond through a hall of mirrors as Nick Nack shifts the scenery and verbally antagonizes him is, in retrospect, pretty well done and is re-interpreted in the opening credits for Daniel Craig’s turn as Bond in Skyfall.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

James Bond teams up with Russian agent. Still percolating at this point.

Karl Stromberg’s faux oil tanker is gobbling up US and Soviet nuclear submarines. Bond is dispatched to work with a Soviet agent and figure out what’s going on. The Moore-led plot is becoming well-worn as a standard action thriller, without much thrill.

Richard Kiel makes his debut as the villain “Jaws,” the man with a mouthful of steel teeth. I never liked this character.

Compare and contrast Jaws with Mads Mikkelsen’s villain Le Chiffre, or Le Chiffre’s largely silent, efficient flunky Kratt, or Christoph Waltz’s villain, Blofeld.

Meh, again.

Moonraker (1979)

James Bond goes intergalactic. Very zingy, though not the crest.

Or, Bond in Space. Ugh.

Michael Lonsdale was the standout in this one as the villain Drax, who lives in a castle and steals a space shuttle. Where do you land a space shuttle so that no-one sees? And how do you … oh, never mind.

Jaws makes a return and falls in love with a cute blond woman in pigtails, never to return. I wonder what their kids look like.

Ridiculous.

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Moore retains an ageless cool. Not the best of the series by a long shot, but it’s far from the worst.

Bond is dispatched to find the encryption device sunk aboard a British spy ship, and links up with Carole Bouquet’s Bond Girl Melina Havelock as she attempts avenging her parent’s death by the same villain who stole the encoder. The film ends with Bond tossing the device off a cliff as a Soviet general holds him at gunpoint. “That’s detente, comrade; *You* don’t have it, *I* don’t have it.,” he explains. Not bad.

At least I liked one of Moore’s outings.

Octopussy (1983)

Bond adventure No. 13, with fake Fabergé egg and threats of WWIII. Formula still working.

Or, Bond at the Circus.

A nuclear device is set to trigger at a NATO base by circus folk. No standouts. Double-meh.

Thus began the descent of Moore as Bond.

A View to a Kill (1985)

Wicked financier plans to destroy Silicon Valley. Moore’s last Bond, and probably just as well.

Wow, this one was bad, Moore’s least watchable Bond flick. 

The only stand-out was Christopher Walken as Max Zoren, because, Christopher Walken. I wish they’d written more into his one-dimensional character.

Zoren is plotting to do what so many modern right-wing whack jobs would love: detonate explosives along the San Andreas fault, plunging much of non-agricultural California into the sea. Or flooding San Jose’s Silicon Valley. Or something like that, allowing Zoren to corner the market in microchips. From his blimp.

Do not waste your time on this one. Triple-meh.

Moore made an iconic run as the British “spy” James Bond. As has been written elsewhere he was, for better or worse, the Bond of my generation, and his characterization epitomized the times. It’s not often an actor becomes an icon – think Leonard Nimoy as Spock – and even rarer that they embrace that cultural elevation. Moore played his lifetime role well, in that regard. Rest in peace, Commander Bond.

#Roger #Moore #James #Bond

May 26, 2017

For Army Infantry’s 1st Women, Heavy Packs and the Weight of History

Dave Philipps – The New York Times:

In the woods, after hours of mock raids, Pvt. Kayla Padgett rested her rifle against her rucksack and turned to her platoon, assembling them in three neat rows.

It was 90 degrees. A tick crawled along the back of her shirt. The night before, the platoon had slept in the dirt. Everyone was dog tired. Many were covered in ant bites. But as platoon guide, it was her job to make them ready.

“All right, hustle it up, let’s count off,” she said.

One by one the platoon of mostly men each shouted until all were accounted for.

“O.K., good,” Private Padgett said, scanning the group with her blue eyes. “If you haven’t done so, keep loading up ammo, all your magazines.”

“She’s a hoss,” her drill sergeant, Joseph Sapp, said as he watched her. After a tour in Iraq and four in Afghanistan, he has served with his share of soldiers. “Forget male-female; she’s one of the best in the company. She’s one you’re happy to have.”

Great article, worth your time.

Next we need to incorporate women into registration for the draft.

#women #in #the #military #combat #roles #US #Army

May 25, 2017

A Russian Slot Machine Hack Is Costing Casinos Big Time

Interesting, geeky piece by Brenden I. Koerner for WIRED about a scam successfully bilking casinos of cash, using an iPhone and an internet connection back to St. Petersburg:

casinos can be certain of how much they’ll earn over the long haul—say, 7.129 cents for every dollar played. But on June 2 and 3, a number of Lumiere’s machines had spit out far more money than they’d consumed, despite not awarding any major jackpots, an aberration known in industry parlance as a negative hold. Since code isn’t prone to sudden fits of madness, the only plausible explanation was that someone was cheating.

And the scammers are getting craftier as the federal cops close in.

#Russian #scam #slot #machines #casinos #Wired

Appeals Court Will Not Reinstate Trump’s Revised Travel Ban

Adam Liptak – The New York Times:

The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., on Thursday refused to reinstate President Trump’s revised travel ban, saying it discriminated on the basis of religion. The decision was a fresh setback for the administration’s efforts to limit travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

Mr. Trump had narrowed the scope of his first executive order, issued in January, in response to an earlier appeals court decision halting it. But the basic flaws in his approach remained, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled.

The case is now likely to go to the Supreme Court.

… where it will be struck down one final time.

The United States is not a corporation. “Businessmen” have no place in the chief executive’s Oval Office.

It would appear Mr. Trump’s supporters will get nothing that he promised, either by law, popular will, or his own apathy.

#Trump #fraud #greatChoiceForPresidentThoughBecauseBenghaziEmailsSheMakesMeFeelAllIckyInside

GOP Candidate Charged With Assault on Reporter as Newspapers Pull Endorsements

David Weigel – The Washington Post:

Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte was charged late Wednesday with misdemeanor assault after witnesses said he “body-slammed” a reporter for the Guardian who had been trying to ask him about the GOP’s health-care bill.

After so much excuse-making and apologia for Donald Trump, the GOP should find defending Representative Gianforte’s behavior easy going. What’s a little body-slamming when the target is a fake-news spewing, America-hating liberal?

I’m practicing my irony. The GOP has fallen so far down it must be hard to see daylight from where the party now stands.

#GOP #Gianforte #assault

May 24, 2017

Even Some Republicans Balk at Trump’s Plan For Steep Budget Cuts

Kelsey Snell, Damian Paletta, and Mike DeBonis – The Washington Post:

President Trump’s proposal to cut federal spending by more than $3.6 trillion over the next decade — including deep reductions for programs that help the poor — faced harsh criticism in Congress on Tuesday, where even many Republicans said the White House had gone too far.

While some fiscally conservative lawmakers, particularly in the House, found a lot to praise in Trump’s plan to balance the budget within 10 years, most Republicans flatly rejected the White House proposal. The divide sets up a clash between House conservatives and a growing number of Senate Republicans who would rather work with Democrats on a spending deal than entertain Trump’s deep cuts.

Too far. Damned right.

Apparently most Republicans with a shred of decency were elected to the Senate.

#Trump #GOP #fraud #ransack #the #poor

What a Terrific Story About Roger Moore

Marc Haynes (@marchaynes):

What a great guy …

a tweet about Roger Moore by Marc Haynes

May 23, 2017

∴ Getting my iPad Off my Lap in the Car

Here’s a useful, easy project that took all of a half-hour to complete, and yielded a handy car mount for my iPad.

We use an iPad for navigation when Kelly and I take to the road. Whichever one of us isn’t driving has Waze running for traffic updates, ETA, and the occasional peek at a weather radar, social media, and email. The downside is that one of us winds up with an iPad in their lap for the trip.

I use Waze on my daily commute, too. It’s saved me from waiting through more than a few traffic jams. Until recently, though, I’ve used it on my iPhone mounted under the rearview mirror. That works ok, but the small screen makes it difficult to see much further ahead.

Installed tablet tray

I bought a floor-mounted tablet tray to resolve these shortcomings. The idea is simple enough – a long, flexible connecting rod with a foot on one end and a spring-loaded tablet mount on the other – but the installation depends on the vehicle it’s going into.

I was wary about how much room this arrangement would take up, how imposing it would be on the passenger, and how sturdy it would prove. We were about to set out for Galveston, Texas, for a cruise – perfect test case!

The tablet mount I chose is made by Arkon, and sold on Amazon. It has an open-foot mounting bracket at the bottom and a swivel-mounted, spring loaded tray at top. The long rod connecting the two is 18-inches of aluminum and takes a little elbow grease to bend to the right shape, ensuring a sturdy mount with a tablet attached. They also make a 22-inch model, for vehicles with a taller center console.

Installation was easy. The kit comes with a bracket and screws if attachment to the floor pan or center console is necessary. In my case, though, my first effort was to locate the front-left bolt securing the passenger seat rail to the floor. There are usually four such bolts, one at each corner of the seat. The bolt was exposed in the car we were driving to Texas, which made installation a snap. I later moved the tablet mount to my car, where a trim piece had to be removed to gain access to the bolt.

Open-toe foot bolted into place

A ratchet and socket had the bolt and washer backed out a quarter-inch in a few seconds, enough to slip the open-toe mounting bracket under the washer. I hand-tightened the bolt, then went about bending the connecting rod.

I put a bend in the bottom to bring the rod up against the center console, and another at the very top to allow the tray more tilt toward the driver. I wanted the iPad to directly face the driver to eliminate reflected glare coming in through the windshield.

I put one more bend at the bottom, tilting the tray toward the front console as far as I could without interfering with any controls. A little more tweaking of the bend near the top had the iPad right where I wanted it.

Removing the entire mount once I hade the basic shape, I gave the foot a little more bend toward the driver so the flexible connecting rod would lay more firmly against the center console. Re-mounting it, I secured the bolt with the ratchet and socket.

Mounted unit with power cable attached

One last detail: power. I have a two-port USB power adapter that plugs into the twelve-volt accessory socket, with an Apple Lightning cable. Using a single-hole punch I put a small hole about a half-inch from either end of the flexible covering that slides over the connecting rod, facing about halfway between the driver and the rear of the car. I popped the small Lightning connector end of the cable into one hole near the foot of the installation, threaded it up through the flexible covering and popped it back out the hole near the tray. I drew out enough cable to make a strain-free loop into the edge of my iPad, leaving the rest neatly looped alongside the center console.

The result is a mildly obtrusive plastic tray laying close to the front console, but out of the way of the passenger’s legs. The electrical connection is tucked neatly away, particularly with a tablet installed.

Our trip to Galveston proved the tablet mount a handy addition to the vehicle. We were able to use Waze much easier on the iPad’s larger display. The tray swivels and turns, so the passenger (we swapped back and forth several times each day to avoid fatigue) was able to use the tablet for mail, browsing, and texting, as well. Vibration at the top of the mount was minimal due to the passenger seat pressing against the connecting rod.

INstallation complete with passenger seat pulled into normal position

I’ve since transferred the tablet mount to my car for my daily commute. Using the tablet for Waze in this position is no more a distraction than changing the radio station, and given Waze’s voice warnings, a glance down is all that’s needed to verify traffic or road trouble ahead.

This was a simple, inexpensive project that’s proven useful. It’ll be unbolted and moved to my next car when that day comes.

#tablet #tray #car #mount #iPad #project

Transcript of New Orleans Mayor Landrieu’s Address on Confederate Monuments

The clearest statement of truth on the subject of removal of Confederate symbols and monuments I’ve read, by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu – The Pulse:

The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.

As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history. Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause.

Virginia, you should be next.

#American #civil #war #confederate #monuments

May 22, 2017

Trump Asked Intelligence Chiefs to Push Back Against FBI Collusion Probe After Comey Revealed its Existence

This is a bombshell.

Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima - The Washington Post:

President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.

I’m fifty-two years old. Watergate happened when I was 7, and President Nixon become ex-President Nixon by his own hand when I was 9. Despite my young age at the time, I’m hearing echoes of Richard Nixon putting the squeeze on CIA Director Richard Helms to do exactly the same thing, begging the FBI off its investigation of the Watergate break-in and possible cover-up by the Nixon White House.

We do not learn from the past.

#Trump #fraud #impeachment #obstruction #of #justice

Clinton-Era White House Investigations May Preview Russia-Trump Inquiry's Effect on Staff

Russell Riley - The Atlantic:

It is reasonable to expect that the current investigation will not be brief.  In part this is because Russian election interference is a weighty, sprawling matter—much more so than Whitewater. But it’s also because Mueller, like Starr, is tenaciously thorough. In a recent Politico story, Garrett Graff described his handling of a 2015 investigation for the NFL on running back Ray Rice’s domestic-violence case. “Mueller’s subsequent lengthy report oozes thoroughness and the unique gravitas of an experienced prosecutor,” he writes. “His team, some of whom will now be working alongside him in the Russia investigation, devoured millions of documents, text messages, and emails; tracked down nearly every person who had been in the building; and called all 938 telephone numbers that called in and out of the league headquarters during the period in question.” Graff’s conclusion? “That thoroughness and Mueller’s strong independence should terrify the Trump White House.”

Mueller’s appointment is the first good news emerging from this administration’s. Popcorn time.

#Trump #fraud #impeachment #Bob #Mueller #special #counsel

May 21, 2017

The Relentless Bias Against Donald Trump

Dave Pell – Medium:

Even after the performance of the last week; the avoidable gaffes, self-inflicted wounds, bad decisions, poor judgment, and utter incompetence, there are still some who argue that there is a vast bias against Donald Trump. Well I’ve got news for them.

They’re right.

I agree with every word of this.

Dave Pell edits a daily email newsletter, NextDraft, and offers an iOS app that delivers the same news distillation, if that’s your preference. Endorsed.

#Trump #bias #dave #pell

Did America Ever Really Work? – Bad Words

Umair Haque - Medium:

Rather than looking at America through the lens of the present — “oh my god, what did he do today!! “— I want to ask the question: has American society ever worked?

By “worked”, you can think that I mean two economic criteria. First, according to its own standards of life, liberty, and happiness. Second, a little more formally, whether its economy has ever really been capable of delivering rising living standards broadly.

Another thought-provoking essay by Haque. This one will jar you, I think.

Ask yourself, is he wrong? Slavery, segregation, stagnation. No grace period between.

Read. Think. This is the reasoning for fundamental change in America.

#Umair #Haque #American #Dream #prosperity #egalitarianism #politics

The Purpose of a Constitution

A thought provoking essay by Umair Haque. Worth the time and some extended thought.

#umair #haque #constitutions #purpose #politics

Trump to Propose Big Cuts to Safety-net in New Budget, Slashing Medicaid and Opening Door to Other Limits

Damian Paletta - The Washington Post:

President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would give states new power to limit a range of benefits, people familiar with the planning said, despite growing unease in Congress about cutting the safety net.

I sure hope all those out-of-work folks who voted for Mr. Trump like what he has in store for them. I sure hope so, but I don’t. Not one damned bit.

The “wealthiest nation on Earth,” as some like to say, and this is the best we can do to govern ourselves.

#Trump #budget #Medicaid #cuts #health #care #for #the #poor

May 20, 2017

Trump Signs ‘tremendous’ Deals With Saudi Arabia on His First Day Overseas

Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung - The Washington Post:

President Trump made a splashy debut on the world stage here Saturday, ushering in a new era in U.S.-Saudi Arabian relations by signing a joint “strategic vision” that includes $110 billion in American arms sales and other new investments that the administration said would bring hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“It was a great day,” Trump said. He cited “tremendous investments in the United States . . . and jobs, jobs, jobs.”

While initial details were scant, the agreements signed included a U.S. letter of intent to “support Saudi Arabia’s defense needs” with sales of a number of items — naval ships, tanks and other vehicles — that were the subject of agreements under earlier administrations, as well as some new items that had never passed the discussion stage, such as sophisticated THAAD missile defense systems.

I guess they’re all full up on AWACS.

Moving on, we have a lovely selection of cruisers, destroyers, Abrams tanks, and the antimissile system that pissed off the Chinese - THAAD!

First, though, a spot of reality from Bob Baer, via Hollywood.

What are they thinking? They’re thinking that it’s running out. It’s running out, and 90% of what’s left is in the Middle East. Look at the progression: Versailles, Suez, 1973, Gulf War 1, Gulf War 2. This is a fight to the death. So what are THEY thinking? Great! They’re thinking keep playing, keep buying yourself new toys, keep spending $50,000 a night on your hotel room, but don’t invest in your infrastructure… don’t build a real economy. So that when you finally wake up, they will have sucked you dry, and you will have squandered the greatest natural resource in history.

Jobs where, exactly? And does this “deal” really benefit both parties, or are we just sucking dry our erstwhile allies, the Saudis?

#Trump #ohWhatTheFuckImOutOfInvectiveForThis

What’s the Matter With Republicans?

Paul Krugman - The New York Times:

Why did Marine Le Pen, often portrayed as the French equivalent of Trump, lose by a huge margin? Because France’s conservatives were only willing to go so far; they simply would not support a candidate whose motives and qualifications they distrusted. Republicans, however, went all in behind Trump, knowing full well that he was totally unqualified, strongly suspecting that he was corrupt and even speculating that he might be in Russian pay, simply because there was an “R” after his name on the ballot.

And even now, with the Trump/Flynn/Comey story getting worse by the hour, there has been no significant breaking of ranks. If you’re waiting to find the modern version of Howard Baker, the Republican senator who asked “What did the president know, and when did he know it?” you’re wasting your time. Men like that left the G.O.P. a long time ago.

As I’ve privately remarked of many a self-identifying Republican, some would defend a child molester if he had an “R” after his name. Or, as Anderson Cooper phrased it yesterday, “if he took a dump on his desk you would defend it.”

The GOP is a corpse that continues moving only by inertia. It is, as a political party, intellectually bankrupt and morally corrupt.

#GOP #fraud #corrupt

∴ It's a Hell of a Thing

"This time is different.” How many times have we heard that? The dot-com bubble was different, the housing bubble was different, Bill “the boy king” Clinton was different, “compassionate conservatism" was different, Barack Obama was different. The sequence of events following each remained predictably the same as previous, similar events. Bubbles burst. To paraphrase Mamet, old age and treachery rise to obstruct youth and exuberance. Conservatism is not compassionate.

What did we learn from these events? We learned that no time is different. We learned how short our memory is.

It used to be said that change was the only constant in life, but now we should add to that “failure to learn from the past.” Richard Nixon and Watergate were not so long ago; my generation has had plenty of time to digest what occurred and what was learned from it. We apparently did not.

The current presidential trip abroad appears to be different. Perhaps the Democrats will remain mum about politics, as is the tradition. Politics, we like to say, ends at the water’s edge. Perhaps the Republicans will stay under the rock they’ve used for cover as Trumpian shame has rained upon them. But something odd is happening back home, happened just as the president departed.

We learned there are investigative footsteps approaching the Oval Office, even as the president is away.

An active inquiry into the president’s campaign antics and his people’s connections to Russian agents has swung into high gear. Committees of the United States Congress that should have been dedicating full-time personnel to their own investigations are suddenly clamoring for a waning bit of spotlight, as Special Counsel Bob Mueller, by all accounts an honest, well-regarded leader and investigator, gets about his business.

Appearances are deceiving. These machinations of government are not different, not really. They're the normal course of responding to the outrage of citizens and rising Congressional worry that this man Trump may truly be a danger to the republic.

It’s a hell of a thing to bring down a president. It’s an act not approached in haste. And yet the word “impeachment” was heard just days after Trump’s election last year, from people more familiar with the Donald Trump of the eighties, nineties and oughts. The Donald Trump who sidestepped and handed off responsibilities just in the nick of time, leaving someone else holding a bag full of failed development, worthless investment, and unpaid labor.

Certainty of Trump’s epic demise emerges from study of his previous acts. The man cannot help himself from helping himself and lying about it. Combine that with the power and prestige of the presidency, and the exposure of the campaign leading up to it, and the result can only be catastrophic. There’s no-one to whom he can hand off responsibility or culpability this time.

Truman was right; the buck really does stop at the president’s desk.

So here we are. The president is abroad on his first diplomatic trip, a nine-day odyssey that would tax any previous chief executive, one that he tried in vain to pare down to five. Bob Mueller is organizing, beginning his investigation all the while.

Bob Mueller will learn what the FBI already knows, perhaps what the intelligence community already knows. Bob Mueller will, eventually, produce a report, and with that, hopefully, the bad ship Trump will burn and sink, and we will have a new and unexpected entry in our history books. Or Bob Mueller will be fired, or ordered fired, and the attorney general, the deputy AG, or anyone else left breathing at the DoJ will have a choice to make: president or country.

An oath to the Constitution of the United States is no small thing. “Preserve, protect, and defend.” Every soldier, sailor, marine, airman, guardsman, civil servant, senator, representative, president, and Supreme Court justice utters those words. Time to make them count.

This time is not different. The Constitutional oath has been taken in vain, the republic would be, in the hands of a more competent thug, in peril. Time to right the ship of state and throw this bastard overboard. Men and women of good will and clear conscience demand it.

#Trump #fraud #impeachment

Check Out This Beautiful Inversion Filling the Grand Canyon With Cloud

It’s easy to forget that air, like water, is a fluid …

#Grand #Canyon #cloud #inversion #fluid

Trump-Russia investiigation: Coverup is Now Part of it

Matthew Schofield and Lesley Clark - McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Investigators into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential elections are now authorized to probe whether White House officials have engaged in a cover-up, according to members of Congress who were briefed Friday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

A Justice Department official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic, confirmed that Rosenstein told members of the House of Representatives that the special counsel in charge of the probe, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, “has been given the authority to investigate the possibility of a cover-up.”

Cliché: it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.

A cover-up. Does anyone working in the office of the president read? Is there no-one there with a memory longer than a few years? Or are these people so focused on their own agenda they fail to recognize that we can all see them?

There is no hiding in plain sight, Jared. You are accountable to us, Donald.

#Trump #investigation #impeachment #Bob #Mueller

Quite a Pair of Stories, Published as the President Heads Abroad

Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman, and Matthew Rosenberg - The New York Times:

President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky - The Washington Post:

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.

Mr. Trump acknowledges his relief to the Russians after firing the chief investigator into his campaign’s possible collusion with the Russian government, while a high official within the White House is identified as a subject of interest in that same investigation.

Obstruction of justice, much?

Justice is coming for you, Donald, and for all Americans. You will not overcome this.

#Trump #FBI #investigation #James #Comey #Russians #collusion #impeachable #offense

May 19, 2017

Volvo Says no More Diesel Engines, the Future is Electric

Volvo may have made this decision in response to impending regulation, but I have to wonder if the discovery and resulting fallout over VW/Audi’s gaming of tighter particulate emissions wasn’t what got them started thinking about ending diesel production. Just as well (Ars Technica):

But the outlook farther ahead involves regulations that will also severely limit nitrogen oxides (NOx). As a result, the company will devote its energy to electrification instead.

Nitrogen oxide from diesel vehicles killed a lot of people in 2015, study says As we reported earlier this week, NOx are noxious and linked to 38,000 premature deaths in 2015 alone.

#diesel #Volvo #VW #Audi #electric #emissions #particulate #sulphur

May 18, 2017

Bobby Moynihan is leaving SNL · Newswire

William Hughes - The A.V. Club:

Deadline reports that a high-profile comedy departure that’s been rumored for some time is actually coming true: Bobby Moynihan is leaving Saturday Night Live.

That’s too bad. For the few times I watch SNL each seasonMoynihan is one of my favorite performers.

That show goes through waves of good and bad seasons. Perhaps it’s in a downward slide again.

#SNL #Bobby #Moynahan #leaving

Roger Ailes: Fox News founder Dies at 77

BBC News:

The ex-chairman and founder of Fox News Roger Ailes has died aged 77, his family says.

Condolences to his family; good riddance for the rest of us. Ailes is most directly responsible for the abomination to truth in journalism that is Fox “News.”

The wheels continue to come off the US conservative bus.

#Roger #Ailes #Fox #News #death #journalism #conservative #fraud #fraud #fraud

Chris Cornell, Soundgarden and Audioslave Frontman, Dies at 52

Christopher D. Shea and Caryn Ganze - The New York Times:

Chris Cornell, the powerful, dynamic singer whose band Soundgarden was one of the architects of grunge music, has died at 52.

Mr. Cornell died Wednesday night in Detroit, said his representative, Brian Bumbery, in a statement that called the death “sudden and unexpected” and that said the singer’s family would be “working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause.”

Dontae Freeman, a spokesman for the Detroit Police Department, said in an interview that at about midnight officers responded at the MGM Grand casino to an apparent suicide of a white man, born July 20, 1964, who was pronounced dead on the scene. He would not confirm the victim’s name; Mr. Cornell’s date of birth is July 20, 1964.

Farewell to a talented, driven, flawed man. Among his other music successes, he composed and performed my favorite Bond theme, You Know My Name, for Casino Royale.

#Chris #Cornell #Soundgarden #music #Bond #Casino #Royale #death

May 17, 2017

House Majority Leader to Colleagues in 2016: ‘I think Putin pays’ Trump

Adam Entous - The Washington Post:

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016 exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

There are many forms of payment. Some involve tangible assets, like money. Others, harder to see and track, involve intangibles such as long-term favors or the abstention of malice. Or a well-timed leak of distracting, potentially damning emails just before a national election. Who knows which Trump benefited from? Maybe Majority Leader McCarthy can explain, now that his comments are out in the open.

#Trump #GOP #fraud #start #to #finish #McCarthy #comments #payment #Russians

Robert Mueller, Former F.B.I. Director, Is Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation

Rebecca R. Ruiz - The New York Times:

Mr. Mueller is viewed by members of both parties as one of the most credible law enforcement officials in the country. He served both Democratic and Republican presidents, from 2001 to 2013, and was asked by President Barack Obama to stay on beyond the normal 10-year term until Mr. Comey was appointed.

Perfect. Mueller will get to the truth, “though the heavens fall."

#Trump #fraud #impeachment #Comey #Mueller #FBI #Russian

‘I think we’re in impeachment territory,’ Says David Gergen, Former Aide to Nixon and Clinton

Derek Hawkins - The Washington Post:

“I think we’re in impeachment territory.” Those were not the words of a left-wing political blogger with high hopes, nor a hyperactive Twitter maven spouting conspiracy theories. They came from David Gergen, the typically moderate, mild-mannered CNN analyst and former aide to four presidents, both Republican and Democrat.

If he’s lost David Gergen, Mr. Trump’s lost the presidency. Nominally a counselor to Republican presidents, Gergen is the guy Bill Clinton brought in after the Monica Lewinski scandal to help right his presidency. He’s the closest you’ll find to a statesman outside elected office, and he not only sees what we all see, he’s willing to make the hard (for a Republican) call.

Gergen’s stature is such that his words may in hindsight constitute the tipping point for the Trump presidency. Senators and Congressmen should take note.

#Trump #fraud #impeachment #hes #gotta #go #country #above #party

May 16, 2017

Trump Acknowledges ‘facts’ Shared With Russian Envoys During White House Meeting

Ashley Parker - The Washington Post:

President Trump appeared to acknowledge Tuesday that he revealed highly classified information to Russia — a stunning confirmation of a Washington Post story and a move that contradicted his own White House team after it scrambled to deny the report.

It’s ok. Mr. Trump often shoots himself and his administration in the foot.

It’s ok, too, because when the president does it, it’s not a crime. That’s true.

^^^sarcasm. It’s not ok, regardless of legality, but maybe believing so makes people feel better. Maybe it makes those “patriots” across America who support Trump feel we’re not being sold out by this treasonous, criminal clown.

Maybe they'll keep telling themselves that when articles of impeachment are drawn up, and debated, and voted in the affirmative, and he’s tried in the Senate. After all, Trump’s supporters will say pretty much anything to justify their poor choice last November, including ranting that “the Russians are our friends."

With friends like Vlad Putin, who needs enemies?

Maybe all those people who said “the election’s over, why do you keep writing and complaining about Trump” should read a newspaper and wake the fuck up. Time to speak out, people. It's your country that’s at stake.

#Trump #GOP #fraud #treasonous #impeachable #offense #wake #up

Trump, Irked at Cabinet and Staff, Mulls Sweeping Shake-up

Mike Allen - Axios:

At the urging of longtime friends and outside advisers, most of whom he consults after dark, President Trump is considering a "huge reboot" that could take out everyone from Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and press secretary Sean Spicer

Not a bad idea. As was remarked about the Reagan administration in relation to a Pentagon purchasing scandal, the "fish rots from the head first.” Mr. Trump should replace himself, while he’s at it.

Trump’s problem isn’t any more his advisors than it is himself. Few of them have any experience doing politics “for real,” as opposed to intra-party maneuvering, and his expectation was that he’d act as CEO of the USA. None of those experiences or expectations have proven out. They all need to GO.

#Trump #fraud #impeach #remove #unqualified

Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation

Michael S. Schmidt - The New York Times:

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Why not a little more obstruction of justice to sweeten the pot?

#Trump #GOP #fraud #impeachable #offense

May 15, 2017

A Seven-point Rundown of Why Trump's Intelligence Giveaway is Critical

Head on over to LawFareBlog for a succinct summary of the Washington Post’s blockbuster story.

#Trump #GOP #fraud #treason #impeachable #offense #go #on #keep #defending #him

Trump Revealed Highly Classified Information to Russian Foreign Minister

Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe - The Washington Post:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” Maybe that’s what he was thinking. A GOP tradition. Yeah, that’s it.

It wasn’t all that long ago (October, 2016 to be exact) that many of the rest of us said this Trump guy was going to be a disaster for the United States. Since January 20, 2017 he’s been nothing but. The only silver lining is that he’ll likely wreck the Republican party for a decade or two hereafter.

As for those who went ahead and voted for him anyway, you own him, as he sells out every last one of us. You will never live this fucker down.

Go ahead, bring it full circle and tell me, “the Russians are our friends.”

#Trump #GOP #fraud #treason #only #hes #too #ignorant #to #know #but #you #should #have

May 10, 2017

Tesla Starts Pre-orders on Solar Roof for $1,000, Rolls Out Calculator For Costs

Megan Geuss - Ars Technica:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter on Wednesday that the company’s solar roof panels would be available for pre-order that afternoon. In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Tesla and SolarCity executives said the roof would be cheaper, on the whole, than installing a regular tile roof (although not cheaper than an asphalt roof). Pre-orders require a $1,000 payment to secure a place on the list.

Intriguing idea. Click through for a close-up photo of the tiles - they’re claimed to be all but indistinguishable from ground level.

A customer’s roof would be populated by both solar and non-solar tiles. Customers with greater energy needs - say, one who charges an electric car daily - would have a higher ratio of solar-to-non-solar tiles. The mix would generate an aggregate energy production suited to the customer’s needs.

A roof-full of tiles, installed, runs over $35k in the example given. Steep, but as with every technology, the price will decline as production and installation increase.

If I’m building a house six or eight years from now - around the time I give up my career habit - these will be in my sights.

#solar #roof #tiles #Tesla #home #installation

Your Up-to-date Summary of WTF Happened Today in Trump's Slow-motion Train Wreck

If you're looking for an up-to-the-date summary of the current administration's efforts to govern, sure to be titles we'll find in the non-fiction aisle and theaters for years to come, head on over to What the Fuck Just Happened Today. The day's top headlines are arranged in a numbered list, latest day at the top. It's a useful resource.

#Trump #GOP #fraud #news #WTF