Lazy Caturday Reads

By Jackie Morris

Good Afternoon!!

The lies come thick and fast from the Trump administration. It’s not just Trump; it’s his entire gang of shameless prevaricators.

Remember those MAGA hats that Trump signed for service members in Iraq? The White House swore up and down to CNN that they didn’t distribute the campaign merchandise, but people who were there say otherwise.

Of course we can’t be sure these tweets are legit, but come on! Who actually believes these soldiers bought Trump hats and banners and had them shipped to Iraq? Give me a break. I know this is a minor scandal in the scheme of things Trump, but still…

And besides, this was supposed to be a secret, surprise visit, so are we supposed to believe these folks always carry their MAGA hats and banners around with them and to the mess hall?

OK, I know I’m beating a dead horse, but I get so tired of all the gaslighting.

Now check this out. Remember that NYT story awhile back about undocumented immigrants working at Trump’s New Jersey golf club?

The New York Daily News: New Jersey AG has obtained evidence of possible crimes at Trump’s golf club — and Mueller, FBI are involved in probe.

New Jersey prosecutors have collected evidence that supervisors at President Trump’s Garden State golf club may have committed federal immigration crimes — and the FBI as well as special counsel Robert Mueller have played part in the inquiry, the Daily News has learned.

Anibal Romero, a Newark attorney who represents several undocumented immigrants who used to work at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, said Friday he recently met with investigators from the state attorney general’s office and handed over fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers that management at the club allegedly procured and gave his clients, Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz.

Before he met with the state prosecutors, Romero said he reached out to Mueller’s office because, while he wanted to contact federal authorities, he was concerned about looping in the Justice Department, which was headed by Jeff Sessions at the time.

Mueller’s office got back to Romero and said the issue was out of their jurisdiction, but they apparently passed the information on to the FBI.

A few weeks later, an FBI agent in New Jersey called Romero.

“He said to me that he had received a referral from Robert Mueller’s office and that he already knew the specifics and that he wanted to meet with me in person,” Romero said.

By S. Telari, Deviant Art

Romero then met with two agents at a federal office in Branchburg, N.J., and outlined the same evidence he had already given the AG prosecutors. The agents said they would “coordinate” with the AG’s office, according to Romero.

Romero said he’s stayed in touch with the FBI and the attorney general’s office but declined to confirm whether either of the agencies have formally opened investigations.

“I’m confident that federal and state authorities will conduct a complete and thorough investigation,” Romero said.

How many states is Trump under investigation in now? I’ve lost count.

Here’s a funny media story from by Ashley Feinberg at HuffPost: The Thinnest Skins In Media In 2018. Their diapers runneth over. You’ll have to click on the link to read the details, but here’s the list of included media figures:

Jake Tapper, CNN Anchor And Respecter Of Troops

Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine Columnist And Scab

Jim VandeHei, Axios CEO And Co-founder, Unofficial Spokesman For Zuckerberg 2020

Maggie Haberman, Nonpartisan New York Times Non-non-reporter

Jonathan Swan, Axios-Branded Dictaphone

Chris Cillizza, CNN Something-Or-Other

Glenn Greenwald, Prophet Of Civil Liberties And Ironic Capitalization

Salena Zito, Gas Station Oracle

Chris Cuomo, Famous Brother Haver

Ben Wittes, Prose Torturer

Ashley Feinberg, Professional Corncob

Now go read. You won’t be sorry.

Here in Massachusetts, the Governor just signed a new law regulation short-term rentals. The Boston Globe: Baker signs long-awaited Airbnb bill, opening new era for industry.

Governor Charlie Baker on Friday signed first-of-its-kind legislation to tax and regulate the short-term housing rental market in Massachusetts, capping years of debate over how to navigate an industry that has exploded through companies like Airbnb.

The new rules will take effect July 1 and could transform a market that spans the state, from Cape Cod summer homes to Boston apartment buildings to Western Massachusetts vacation retreats.

The bill requires every rental host to register with the state, mandates they carry insurance, and opens the potential for local taxes on top of a new state levy. A chief negotiator for the House said the goal is to register every short-term rental in the state by September, and local officials, including in Boston, say the new law will help buttress their own efforts to regulate the booming market.

Airbnb is fighting back.

But before Baker’s ink could dry, the law drew a sharp rebuke from Airbnb, which called it “flawed” and unnecessarily complex. Advocates who have closely followed the process — including Airbnb’s decision to sue in federal court to overturn Boston’s municipal regulations — warn a lawsuit against the state could also follow.

More details on the law:

Beyond requiring all hosts to register and carry insurance, it also subjects short-term rentals to the same 5.7 percent state levy now paid by hotels — but exempts people who rent their homes 14 or fewer nights a year. Officials have estimated that tax could raise at least $25 million annually.

It also would allow cities and towns to impose their own taxes of up to 6 percent, except in Boston, where it would be 6.5 percent, with occasional hosts also exempted.

Additional taxes would be levied on hosts who own multiple units. And an extra fee would also fall on units in Boston, Cambridge, and a handful of other cities that support the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, but only after bonds are paid off on the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston.

Some cities, including New York and San Francisco, have used short-term rental registries to rein in the industry, but this law makes Massachusetts the first state to require all hosts to register. That, more than the taxes, has been the focus of debate in recent months.

It will be interesting to see how this works out.

Time Magazine has a new story on Paul Manafort: Exclusive: Russian Ex-Spy Pressured Manafort Over Debts to an Oligarch.

When the U.S. government put out its latest sanctions list on Dec. 19, the man named at the top did not seem especially important. Described in the document as a former Russian intelligence officer, he was accused of handling money and negotiations on behalf of a powerful Russian oligarch. The document did not mention that the man, Victor Boyarkin, had links to the 2016 campaign of President Donald Trump.

Jackie Morris for Amnesty International

A months-long investigation by TIME, however, found that Boyarkin, a former arms dealer with a high forehead and a very low profile, was a key link between a senior member of the Trump campaign and a powerful ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In his only interview with the media about those connections, Boyarkin told TIME this fall that he was in touch with Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in the heat of the presidential race on behalf of the Russian oligarch. “He owed us a lot of money,” Boyarkin says. “And he was offering ways to pay it back.”

The former Russian intelligence officer says he has been approached by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Boyarkin’s response to those investigators? “I told them to go dig a ditch,” he says. Peter Carr, the spokesman for the Special Counsel’s Office, declined to comment. Through his spokesman, Manafort likewise declined to comment on his alleged connections with Boyarkin.

But those connections could be potentially important to the Special Counsel’s inquiry. They would mark some of the clearest evidence of the leverage that powerful Russians had over Trump’s campaign chairman. And they may shed light on why Manafort discussed going right back to work for pro-Russian interests in Eastern Europe after he crashed out of the Trump campaign in August 2016, according to numerous sources in the TIME investigation.

Read the rest at the link. It’s a long story.

One more from Buzzfeed: These Are 50 Of The Biggest Fake News Hits On Facebook In 2018.

By Max Carlier

After spending two years launching third-party fact-checking programs, rolling out News Feed updates, and investing in other anti-misinformation initiatives, Facebook is still the home of viral fake news.

For the third year in a row, BuzzFeed News compiled a list of 50 of the most viral false stories on Facebook and measured their total engagement on the platform. And in spite of a prediction from Facebook’s top anti-misinformation product manager that these articles would see a decline in engagement in 2018, this year’s top-performing hoaxes generated almost as many shares, reactions, and comments as last year’s.

The top 50 fake stories of 2018 identified by BuzzFeed News generated roughly 22 million total shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook between Jan. 1 and Dec. 9, 2018, according to data from BuzzSumo and Trendolizer. This was only 7% fewer engagements than the 23.5 million engagements generated by to top 50 of 2017, and slightly more than the top 50 fakes identified by BuzzFeed News in 2016, when those links generated 21.5 million engagements.

Read the whole thing at Buzzfeed. How long before Facebook goes the way of AOL?

So . . . what else is happening on this long holiday weekend? Post your recommendations in the comment thread below.

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Thursday Reads: Some Good News for a Change

Good Morning!!

For once I can begin a post with some upbeat stories.

Chicago Tribune: llinois approves Equal Rights Amendment, 36 years after deadline.

The Illinois House voted Wednesday night to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment more than 45 years after it was approved by Congress, putting it one state away from possible enshrinement in the U.S. Constitution amid potential legal questions.

The 72-45 vote by the House, following an April vote by the Senate, was just one more vote than needed for ratification. It does not need the approval of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said he supports equal rights but was faulted by Democrats for not taking a position on the ERA….

As has been the case for decades, the legislative debate over the Equal Rights Amendment was fraught with controversy. Opponents largely contended the measure was aimed at ensuring an expansion of abortion rights for women. Supporters said it was needed to give women equal standing in the nation’s founding document.

Opponents also contended the measure may be moot, since its original 1982 ratification deadline has long since expired. Supporters argued, however, that the 1992 ratification of the 1789 “Madison Amendment,” preventing midterm changes in congressional pay, makes the ERA a legally viable change to the constitution.

Read the whole thing at the link above. Some history:

On March 22, 1972, the Senate approved the Equal Rights Amendment, which banned discrimination on the basis of sex. The amendment fell three states shy of ratification.

In 1923, three years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, suffragist Alice Paul drafted an amendment to guarantee equal rights for women. Known as the Equal Rights Amendment or the Lucretia Mott Amendment, it stated, “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”

The amendment was presented to Congress in 1923, and re-introduced to every session of Congress for nearly 50 years. It mostly stayed in committee until 1946, when a reworded proposal, dubbed the Alice Paul Amendment, lost a close vote in the Senate. Four years later, the Senate passed a weaker version of the amendment that was not supported by ERA proponents.

Opposition to ERA came from social conservatives and from labor leaders, who feared that it would threaten protective labor laws for women. Support for the amendment increased during the 1960s as the Civil Rights Movement inspired a second women’s rights movement. The National Organization for Women (NOW), founded in 1966, led to movement for the passage of ERA.

In 1970, Rep. Martha Griffiths of Michigan succeeded in getting the ERA out of committee and before Congress for debate. The House of Representatives passed the amendment without changes 352-15 in 1971. The Senate passed the amendment on March 22, 1972, a day after voting against any proposed changes.

The passed amendment read: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

The second bit of good news, from The Washington Post: Virginia General Assembly approves Medicaid expansion to 400,000 low-income residents.

The Virginia legislature voted Wednesday to make government health insurance available to 400,000 low-income residents, overcoming five years of GOP resistance. The decision marks a leftward shift in the legislature and an enormous win for Gov. Ralph Northam (D), the pediatrician who ran on expanding access to health care.

Virginia will join 32 other states and the District in expanding Medicaid coverage. The measure is expected to take effectJan. 1.

“This is not just about helping this group of people,” said Sen. Frank Wagner (Virginia Beach), one of four Republicans in the Senate who split from their party to join Democrats and pass the measure by a vote of 23 to 17. “This is about getting out there and helping to bend the cost of health care for every Virginian. . . . It is the number one issue on our voters’ minds. By golly, it ought to be the number one issue on the General Assembly’s mind.”

Another Republican who broke ranks, Sen. Ben Chafin (Russell), is a lawyer and a cattle farmer from a rural district where health care is sorely lacking.

“I came to the conclusion that ‘no’ just wasn’t the answer anymore, that doing nothing about the medical conditions, the state of health care in my district, just wasn’t the answer any longer,” he said.

After the Senate vote, the House of Delegates approved the measure by 67 to 31 as the chamber erupted in cheers.

Also from the WaPo: Why Virginia’s Medicaid expansion is a big deal.

It’s another nail in the coffin for efforts to repeal Obamacare and a fresh reminder of how difficult it is to scale back any entitlement once it’s created. Many Republicans, in purple and red states alike, concluded that Congress is unlikely to get rid of the law, so they’ve become less willing to take political heat for leaving billions in federal money on the table.

Years of obstruction in the commonwealth gave way because key Republicans from rural areas couldn’t bear to deny coverage for their constituents any longer, moderates wanted to cut a deal and, most of all, Democrats made massive gains in November’s off-year elections.

Years of obstruction in the commonwealth gave way because key Republicans from rural areas couldn’t bear to deny coverage for their constituents any longer, moderates wanted to cut a deal and, most of all, Democrats made massive gains in November’s off-year elections.

As President Trump steps up efforts to undermine the law, from repealing the individual mandate to watering down requirements for what needs to be covered in “association health plans,” the administration’s willingness to let states impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients has paradoxically given a rationale for Republicans to flip-flop on an issue where they had dug in their heels.

And in New Jersey: Phil Murphy signs law protecting Obamacare from Trump with N.J. mandate to have health insurance.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed a law preserving a critical yet controversial part of the Affordable Care Act that President Donald Trump‘s administration repealed last year.

One of the laws creates a statewide individual mandate, which will require all New Jerseyans who don’t have health coverage through a government program like Medicare or their jobs to buy a policy, or pay a fee at tax time.

The landmark federal health care law, better known as Obamacare, imposed the mandate to ensure younger and healthier people who might otherwise forgo insurance will buy-in and share costs.

But the tax package approved by the Republican-led Congress and signed into law by Trump will end the mandate in 2019. The requirement was one of the more distasteful parts of the law for lawmakers and the public who believe it allowed government to intrude into people’s lives.

State Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, one of the prime sponsors of the law, said keeping the mandate “was needed to maintain a foundation for the insurance market and to allow the success of the ACA to continue.”

The resistance is making progress!

In other news, The Daily Beast reports that Trump wanted Howard Stern to speak at the 2016 Republican convention, according to his interview last night with David Letterman (emphasis added).

Letterman doesn’t spend much time on the subject of Trump, a person whom Stern has spent more time interviewing than anyone else on the planet, the host does ask the “King of All Media” how he feels about Trump’s tenure as president.

“Well you know, it was a very awkward kind of thing, because Donald asked me to speak at the Republican National Convention,” Stern reveals. “And he would call me from the campaign trail very often, and say, ‘Are you watching?’ I was tickled by this, because I really kind of felt, deep in my heart, that this campaign was really more about selling a book, or selling a brand. I didn’t really understand that he would really want to be president.” [….]

Stern continued: “I was put in a very awkward position of having to say publicly—and to him—that I was a Hillary Clinton supporter. I always have been, and I was honest with Donald. I said, ‘Donald, you also supported Hillary.’ And I do consider Donald a friend but my politics are different.”

The AP has an interesting story on Republican efforts to protect Jeff Sessions’ job.

In private meetings, public appearances on television and late-night phone calls, Trump’s advisers and allies have done all they can to persuade the president not to fire a Cabinet official he dismisses as disloyal. The effort is one of the few effective Republican attempts to install guardrails around a president who delights in defying advice and breaking the rules.

It’s an ongoing effort, though not everyone is convinced the relationship is sustainable for the long term….

The case that Sessions’ protectors have outlined to Trump time and again largely consists of three components: Firing Sessions, a witness in Mueller’s investigation of obstruction of justice, would add legal peril to his standing in the Russia probe; doing so would anger the president’s political base, which Trump cares deeply about, especially with midterm election looming this fall; and a number of Republican senators would rebel against the treatment of a longtime colleague who was following Justice Department guidelines in his recusal.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has said that he will not schedule a confirmation hearing for another attorney general nominee if Sessions is fired.

Click on the link to read the rest.

Melania Trump has missing from the public eye for 20 days now. Yesterday her husband apparently decided to send a message from her Twitter account, but he forgot to make the language sound like her.

A few more stories to check out:

The New Yorker: How the Trump Administration Got Comfortable Separating Immigrant Kids from Their Parents.

Nicholas Kristof at The New York Times: Trump Immigration Policy Veers From Abhorrent to Evil.

The Washington Post: Trump plans to impose metal tariffs on closest U.S. allies.

The New York Times: For ‘Columbiners,’ School Shootings Have a Deadly Allure.

The Daily Beast: What Happened to Jill Stein’s Recount Millions?

The New York Times: How Trump’s Election Shook Obama: ‘What if We Were Wrong?’

NPR: Russia’s Lavrov Meets With Kim Jong Un, As Pompeo Tries To Salvage Summit.

CNBC: Trump will pardon conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted of campaign finance violation.


Monday Reads: Babies for Hillary

trump_w_babiesGood Afternoon Sky Dancers!

It’s been another weird week in the good ol’ USA.  New Jersey seems to be the epicenter of cray cray these days. It doesn’t quite rival Florida yet, however.  The coverage of the US presidential election may have taken a turn and a few of the polls are looking up for the future of all civilization.  Meanwhile, I’m still down here in the swampland of America in need of a plan.  Let’s look at some of the weirdness that is the news these days.

Peter Beinart–writing for The Atlantic–has noticed a distinct change of tone at the NYT since they got played good by Trump on Friday’s extended advertisement for a hotel.  They may have gotten their mojo back.  Or not.  Beinart is hoping some of the worst of modern journalism is going away.  We have a ray of hope that there may be some Fourth Estate left in the old girl yet!

But the Times, once a champion practitioner of the “he said, she said” campaign story, discarded it with astonishing bluntness. The Times responded to Trump’s press conference by running a “News Analysis,” a genre that gives reporters more freedom to explain a story’s significance. But “News Analysis” pieces generally supplement traditional news stories. On Saturday, by contrast, the Times ran its “News Analysis” atop Page One while relegating its news story on Trump’s press conference to page A10. Moreover, “News Analysis” stories generally offer context. They don’t offer thundering condemnation.

Yet thundering condemnation is exactly what the Times story provided. Its headline read, “Trump Gives Up a Lie But Refuses to Repent.” Not “falsehood,” which leaves open the possibility that Trump was merely mistaken, but “lie,” which suggests, accurately, that Trump had every reason to know that what he was saying about Obama’s citizenship was false.

The article’s text was even more striking. It read like an opinion column. It began by reciting the history of Trump’s campaign to discredit Obama’s citizenship. “It was not true in 2011,” began the first paragraph. “It was not true in 2012,” began the second paragraph. “It was not true in 2014,” began the third paragraph. Then, in the fourth paragraph: “It was not true, any of it.” The article called Trump’s claim that he had put to rest rumors about Obama’s citizenship “a bizarre new deception” and his allegation that Clinton had fomented them “another falsehood.” Then, in summation, it declared that while Trump has “exhausted an army of fact checkers with his mischaracterizations, exaggerations and fabrications,” the birther lie was particularly “insidious” because it “sought to undo the embrace of an African American president by the 69 million voters who elected him.”

Insert Mic Drop here.14333838_10154033897518512_306036228290653814_n

Hillary Clinton volunteers here in Louisiana are working diligently to GOTV in Florida. This is why I’m watching the polls of that state carefully. It’s also because it may be the only state that can shut down a potential Trump presidency completely.  Sound familiar?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump are nearly tied in a four-way race for Florida’s key electoral votes, according to a New York Times Upshot/Siena College Research Institute poll of likely Florida voters released today.  Clinton currently has the support of 41 percent of likely voters to Trump’s 40 percent with former Governor Gary Johnson garnering 9 percent and Green Party Candidate Jill Stein with 2 percent.  Senator Marco Rubio leads his Democratic challenger, Congressman Patrick Murphy by 48 to 42 percent.

Likely voters support passage of additional federal gun control legislation (49-43 percent), oppose building a wall the length of the Mexican border (50-43 percent), and favor, rather than oppose government stimulus programs (44-37 percent).  But, they disapprove of the Affordable Care Act (51-42 percent), and are evenly divided when it comes to deporting undocumented immigrants here illegally (44-43 percent).

“Trump has as large a lead among Republicans (78 points) as Clinton does with Democrats (77 points) and independents are evenly split at 34 percent for Trump and 32 percent for Clinton with 18 percent for Johnson.  Women lean towards Clinton but men tend to support Trump,” said Siena College Poll Director Don Levy. “Trump leads in the North, Bay Area and Central portions of the state, while Clinton leads in the vote rich Southeast and the Southwest is a toss-up.

“There is not only a significant gender gap in this race, but also large racial divides,” Levy said. “Trump is up 51 to 30 percent among white voters, while Clinton has a commanding 82-4 percent lead with African-Americans and 61-21 percent among Hispanics/Latinos.”

“Both candidates suffer from a majority of Florida voters having an unfavorable opinion of them.  Clinton is viewed favorably by 40 percent and unfavorably by 53 percent while Trump’s numbers are 39 positive and 55 percent negative.  Equal percentages, 37 percent, view one of the candidate’s favorably and the other negatively while 15 percent view them both unfavorably and only 2 percent have a favorable opinion of both.  Majorities of Blacks and Latinos view Clinton favorably while half of white likely voters have a favorable opinion of Trump.  Of those with an unfavorable opinion of both, a third say they will vote for Johnson, 22 percent for Clinton and 17 percent for Trump,” Levy said.

trumpbabyI still don’t understand how any one but a card carrying member of the KKK could have a favorable opinion of Trump unless you haven’t been paying attention to what comes out of his mouth.  But, evidently some white people are just very fragile and cannot properly identify the source of their stress.  (ProTip:  If you’re blaming immigrants and African Americans you’re a racist.)

Florida is one of those states where a lot of people seem to be on the edge of crazy a lot of the time.  There just seems to be a lot of this running about the state:  Deputies: Naked man breaks in home, bites resident, then dies.  I never know when I call there if I’m getting a nice retiree, a nice university student or a “Florida man”.  But, Florida is key to the election.  Sane Louisianans all over the state are trying to reach out to our sane counterparts in the Sunshine State.

Florida is a make-or-break state for Donald Trump. To win the presidency, he needs to lock down the Sunshine State — or else beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, and New Hampshire, plus a state like Michigan or Virginia, where she is currently comfortably ahead in the polls.

And according to analysis by The New York Times‘ Upshot, Florida is going to be a nail-biter of a contest come November. The New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll reports that in a four-way race with the Libertarian and Green Party candidates, Clinton leads 41 to 40, and in a head-to-head, it is a tie at 43-43.

Instead of being a mix of purple cities, the Upshot’s analysis shows that most regions are almost cleanly divided as red or blue voting pockets based on demographics. In Florida, Trump keeps his hopes alive with white voters, both college educated and not — he leads 51 percent to Clinton’s 30 percent. But when it comes to Hispanic communities, Clinton has a 61 percent to 21 percent lead, doing even better with the demographic than President Obama in 2012. Black voters also overwhelmingly back Clinton, 82 percent to 4 percent.

Many regions of the state are becoming less competitive, with Miami-Dade County looking to be a Democratic hold and north Tampa and Daytona Beach solidifying as Republican. A retirement community, The Villages, with a population of 150,000, looks to be a comfortable win for Trump; older voters in the state strongly prefer him. Young voters back Clinton by a healthy margin, although over half say they don’t view her favorably.

I cannot figure out for the life of me why the Woodstock Generation is going for such an asshole.   Oh, btw, if you haven’t followed Michigan’s own Little Miss Flint on Twitter, please do so!  That little girl has leadership potential!  She also recognizes leaders from assholes that shouldn’t be anywhere near children or the public.

baby7You know, you can always tell something about the character of a person by the way young children respond to them and by the way they respond to young children.  I had a friend talk about visiting her grandchild the other day. She basically said her grandaughter wanted to make sure the nice lady won for her instead of the scary man.  (That’s our own JSLAT by the way who came out and corrected me on the gender assignment btw which I just did.)  Out of the mouths of babes, my friends, out of the mouths  of babes.missflinttrump

 

Another state seemingly going off the rails this weekend is New Jersey who has a nutter for a governor and what appears to be a home grown terrorist cell.11-hillary-clinton-with-kids-w529-h352   The gang that–luckily–couldn’t shoot straight may have been motivated more by local treatment of them than by much else.  Anyway, to our dear Sky Dancers in NJ, please stay away from rogue pressure cookers.

 

The FBI took five people with possible links to the Chelsea explosion into custody Sunday night in Brooklyn as authorities shut down a busy New Jersey rail station after finding multiple pipe bombs in a garbage can, police and New Jersey officials said.

The weekend trail of terror continued along the Belt Parkway where federal agents nabbed several people of interest with a weapons stash inside an SUV, according to law enforcement sources.

The five taken into custody had come over the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island. Investigators were trying to determine if the occupants of the SUV were about to drive out of town or take a plane, sources said.

The main suspect is a naturalized citizen from Afghanistan who claims a history of persecution by the police and the neighborhood for his religion and ethnicity.

The prime suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings sued his local police force and claimed they were persecuting him for being a Muslim.

Ahmad Rahami said in a lawsuit that cops in Elizabeth, New Jersey subjected his and his family to discrimination and ‘selective enforcement’ based on their religion.

The family claimed that police tried to shut down their chicken restaurant, called First American, too early each night with ‘baseless’ tickets and summonses.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gets a hug from fifth-grader Hannah Tandy during a town hall meeting at Keota High School, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Keota, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

New Jersey is also looking forward to the Trial for Bridgegate where it may be shown that Chris Christie’s involvement was a factor in either a cover up or the occurrence itself.  Federal Prosecuters believe Christie knew about the closures.  What did he know and when did he know it?

Gov. Chris Christie was told of the George Washington Bridge lane closures as they were occurring in 2013, a federal prosecutor told jurors on Monday in U.S. District Court.

David Wildstein, who has already pleaded guilty to playing a role in the incident, and Bill Baroni, who is now on trial for his alleged role in the scheme, “bragged” about the traffic gridlock that lane closures were causing when they spoke with the Republican governor at a Sept. 11 memorial in Lower Manhattan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna said.

The two Christie-appointed former Port Authority officials mentioned the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, whom they are accused to trying to punish after he refused to endorse Christie’s reelection campaign, the prosecutor said.

“The evidence will show that Baroni and Wildstein were so committed to their plan that, during the precious moments they had alone with the governor, they bragged about the fact that there were traffic problems in Fort Lee and that Mayor Sokolich was not getting his calls returned,” Khanna told jurors during his opening remarks on Monday morning.

Khanna did not elaborate on what was allegedly said during the conversation with Christie, but told jurors that “evidence in this case may show that others could have, should have, perhaps knew certain aspects of what was going on.”

Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, were indicted last May on charges of conspiracy, fraud and civil rights violations.

Well, the real place to notice the meltdown in the Republican party is ritzy cocktail dates, I guess. I know that I frankly will not deal with any one that would vote for Trump. I consider it the acid test for if you’re with or against humanity.  Even America’s babies know better than get close to the orange Creepazoid.  BTW, I really just did a Google search for images of babies with Trump and got all these poor screaming kids standing next to a grown man sporting a similar sour puss face.  What exactly does that say?donald-trump

A few months ago, Matt Schlapp, the former White House political director under President George W. Bush, walked into a cocktail party and tried to join a conversation with Republican consultants he has known for years.

“The conversation quickly ended,” Schlapp, the chairman of the nation’s oldest conservative grassroots organization, told The Hill in a recent interview. “Everyone looked down at their expensive loafers.”

“I hadn’t had that happen to me in a professional setting before,” he added. “It’s one of those moments when you wonder, ‘Hey, do I have something on my face?’”

Schlapp’s decision to support Donald Trump for president has cost him friends in Washington’s elite Republican circles. Invitations he would normally receive no longer arrive. The vibe he says he’s getting is: “You’re out of the club.”

He’s hardly alone. Old allies in Washington and across the establishment Northeast are no longer on speaking terms because one backs Trump and the other loathes the nominee. Divisions have run so deep in some cases that they could take years to heal.

All I have to do is listen to Kellyann Conway to know that people will sell their souls for some amount of money.  We’ll have to wait for campaign finance reports to see exactly how much.  There’s an entire group of right wing ‘christians’ out there that no longer have theirs. I’m certain of that.

Something remarkable happened on Sunday morning’s Face the Nation, or rather, something that would be remarkable in any normal presidential election. Host John Dickerson got Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to issue two stunning tacit admissions that her candidate is a liar, and then Dickerson remarkably sort of apologized for it.

On Friday morning, Donald Trump ended his years-long crusade to smear President Obama by lying about Hillary Clinton, lying about his own actions, and finally stating the obvious fact that everyone else already knew: that Barack Obama was born in the United States. When Dickerson confronted Conway with the lie that Trump’s campaign put out and Trump repeated, that Trump had put an end to the controversy in 2011, she didn’t challenge that the lie was a lie, and when Dickerson followed up by asking Conway why Trump promoted a lie for five years, Conway similarly accepted that characterization as truth (emphasis mine):

article-2611338-1d31396500000578-885_634x524Supposedly, the Trump team is now shaking in their boots over the Trump Foundation investigation also.  No wonder all the babies cry around Trump. He steals their candy.

Those in Donald Trump’s orbit appear to be nervous about the swirling scandal around the Trump Foundation—and they should be: The stakes are incredibly high.

The allegations of a quid pro quo between Trump and Florida Attorney General, improper use of the charity for personal benefit, and employment of the charity for political purposes have serious penalties beyond mere campaign optics—the possible consequences range from hefty fines to jail time.

The last seven days has been all bad news on the Trump Foundation front: House Democrats have publicly sought a Justice Department investigation into the charity, while left-leaning watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleged that Trump appeared to have bribed Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi by giving her a $25,000 contribution so that she would not join a lawsuit against Trump University.

And a New York Times investigation this past week showed that Trump had personally signed the check that constituted the illegal campaign contribution from his charity to Bondi.
Add this to a dose of personal animosity: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN this week that “we have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York.” The Trump camp already despises Schneiderman due to his legal crusade on the controversial Trump University business.
“This reaches above a distraction for them due to the legal implications of it and long litigation possibility,” a former senior aide to Trump said. “Look, Donald signed those checks… he’s on there. He’s liable.”

I mentioned this over the weekend in comments, but want to mention it again.  If you didn’t see the President’s speech to the CBC, go do it.  He was amazing.enhanced-26660-1446522731-1

On a September night when he gave a rousing valedictory speech to the famed Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) at the dinner for its annual legislative weekend, as awareness is setting in about how adroit and blessed Barack Obama has been as our national leader, with reported numbers showing a giant drop in poverty, a rise in jobs, and growth in family income despite the legislative blocks that stubbornly refused to fund stimulative policies for labor, wages and jobs, the President in his remarks took an unusual tact for him: the first black President, Barack Obama openly reclaimed his history and legacy and put it firmly in the history of race in America. He shared the historic challenges of a historically oppressed community formed in America when they were imported to be slaves—humans sold as property, controlled without rights for the benefit of the privileged. He described how this historical beginning was a force within him and within the community itself. How it gave birth to a driving passion for justice.

Because of this remarkable precedent, his speech deserves a close reading. It is an oratory triumph! It is also the historical moment many have been waiting for—the moment when the nation’s first African-American President put himself, by his own words, into a history of America where race mattered and still matters. His speech cast light on the veil and shadows that fall on the African-American character. It highlighted African success, including his own.

His speech was masterful storytelling: examples, irony, metaphor, repetition/analepsis, contrasts, even ridicule and anticlimax; bathos and epistrophe were among the rhetoric devices he used to deconstruct the competing versions of history used to deny his place as he built the case for a new Americal historical centerpiece, one arranged by truth and merit, admired for its accomplishments, as unique as America’s deeply rooted dream. His words were remarkably clear of gestures and insults. He cast no blame. He relied on the oral tradition, the method for teaching and transmitting ideas when the enslaved were punished for being able to read or write. The oral tradition shared and stored the community’s most valuable lessons. It emphasized performance and creativity.

He also had a compelling argument for Hillary and a huge African American Voter GOTV effort.  Again, go watch the entire thing.  However, just look at the face of those babies and you’ll see who the future of America supports and loves.  Spoiler Alert!  It had a lot to do with telling every one that we all had a lot to lose if we got sent back in time!

So, that’s my two cents today!  What’s on your reading and blogging list?


Monday Reads: Rabid, Rich Dogs Bite People across the country

Good Morning!

One of the biggest problems that I have with folks who wear the smug mantle of libertarian is that they make hay over abuses of power at the Federal level while shrugging off what goes on at the state level unless it has something  to do with dismantling public schools or taxing the rich.  I’ve always thought that abuse of power and destruction of civil liberties shouldn’t happen at any level.  However, if you go from state to state, you’re going to see how serious money has serious sway over the actions of politicians.  Some states and locales just ooze plutocracy. It’s a lot easier to be a thug at the state level. It’s getting to the point where reality is unfolding like a TV plot.

second lineI’ve dived into the fray at the local level again here in New Orleans where our culture of second lines, Mardi Gras Indians, and live local  music is under siege.

On one hand, I’ve decided to volunteer for the Mary and Mitch Landrieus’ re-elections despite serious reservations about both, because I don’t want to live in a state ruled by one party intent on driving the trains straight off the reality track.

I’m also headed to a huge demonstration on Friday, because some freaking rich lawyer has time and money to continually harass the causes of street sounds and music near his property in the French Quarter. His pet peeves will impact all of us.  Before he moved into the quarter, you would find musicians out about the street at nights.  I would see them on the way home from my gigs all the time when I lived in the quarter myself.  They now have to be out of sight and ear by 8:30. He’s been on a tear since then with a few rich neighbors.  Problem is, they have money and time and they just don’t give up.  Now, they want a “sound ordinance” that has an outlandishly low standard for what he deems ‘noise”. I literally will not be able to play my piano in my back parlor without risking a violation. That means also that Alan Toussaint would not have been able to play it in the taping of Hurricane on the Bayou.  And, a few months back, you would not have been able to hear Robert Plant from my front porch.  And, you will likely never hear live music in and around my neighborhood bars. This, to me, is unthinkable!

So, I am going  to the city council on Friday and I’m going to sign in to testify. I’ve already written letters.  This is bad for my friends who own small restaurants and bars.  It’s also bad for musicians and those who enjoy live music. The only beneficiaries are these few rich landowners that are all over the city council right now although they try to give the impression they have mass support.   The other beneficiaries are the downtown hotels and casinos and other big money interests that would rather have all the musicians held hostage in their bars. I’m doing something of a weird thing by supporting the status quo but yet fighting the powers that want to buy themselves a pristine, billionaire friendly New Orleans. Go figure.  I do wonder why people would buy property when they know they are surrounded by bars and music venues.  This is a bit like the other stuff that’s gong in my current neighborhood where I suddenly have neighbors who are all about having manicured grass in the back and side yards.  All hell is breaking loose, however, around this ordinance.

All hell seems to be breaking loose from New Orleans citizens who are up in arms regarding the underhanded way that the mardi gras indiansVCPORA attempted to slip in a noise ordinance that would have a severe impact on the city’s music scene.

Understandably, the peeps at VCPORA are tired of getting no action from the City Council regarding what seems to be Mr. Smith’s Number One priority (other than bashing oil companies, from whom he’s won bazillions of dollars in class action lawsuits. (From his firm’s web page: “In a 2001 Stuart Smith and Michael Stag jointly prosecuted the widely publicized Grefer case. A jury returned a verdict of $1.056 billion dollars against Exxon/ Mobil Corporation, the world’s largest oil company, in favor of the firm’s client after a six-week trial. The landmark verdict was listed in Lawyers Weekly, USA as the second largest verdict in the United States for 2001.”)

To recap from last week’s post, attorney Smith bankrolls the VCPORA and is successfully using its purported agenda of “preservation” to achieve his goals of eliminating “noise” in the French Quarter.

Since last week’s post, I’ve attended a MaCCNO (Music and Culture Coalition) meeting on Friday, and have been subjected to several emails from Stuart Smith, by way of the Brylski Company, which bills its emails as “Krewe of truth.”

Stuart Smith. From the VCPORA website: “For years, VCPORA has been able to count on a man who’s led innumerable legal battles on our behalf, and on behalf of the Quarter – and done all of it pro bono. That man is Stuart H. Smith – our neighbor, our benefactor, and a man of courage and capability who’s been a passionate advocate on behalf of the Vieux Carré.”I’d call it more the “Krewe of Propaganda.”

Here are a few points in the email [First of all, it’s entitled “Hearing Beyond The Misinformation: TRUE SOUND FACTS [in BIG FAT BOLD letters] about the ‘Seven Essentials’ and the Sound Amendments.”

“WILL THESE AMENDMENTS ‘KILL’ NEW ORLEANS’ MUSIC SCENE?
NO! Of course not! No elected official in New Orleans would sign onto an ordinance that would kill, or even hurt, our invaluable New Orleans music scene [Not unless a VCPORA member like Nathan Chapman sneaked it into Stacy Head’s office to be presented to the council at the last minute pre-2013 Christmas holiday. Chapman is past president of VCPORA and, how shall I say this?: Stuart Smith’s “minion.”] “Music is an invaluable part of our culture and our economy. The reason all seven council members signed on was because, after four years of detailed study and hearing, these amendments are actually very limited in scope and provide common sense improvements. [Untrue, these are not common sense improvements to anyone other than those who want to keep music at the level or a normal conversation. Oh, one had better NOT say that they want to kill New Orleans music! Ask Mr. Smith how much he enjoys the jazz at the Gazebo. Smith bought a property at 516 St. Philip Street in 1997, just a half block from the Gazebo and tried to get the zoning changed at a bar that had had music for many years, well before Stuart took up residence. Oh yeah, he loves music all right. But he moved right next to it and did try to kill it.]

Groovesect-wFred-Wesley-@-The-Maple-Leaf-Bar_2424942004_o1Smith appears to have done some really creative things in terms of showing he has support. And, he’s convinced the City Council that what he  is doing isn’t a big deal at all but very responsible and reasonable.

When they use these unrealistically low sound levels to justify lawsuits and to try to get police shut-downs, the well-funded noise factories of Bourbon Street will come out okay. They can either pay the fine, pacify the enforcers, or hire effective attorneys to back the process into a corner with constitutional challenges which the local court can’t handle and the Supremes won’t be bothered with, so the cases sit in limbo like Bleak House.

But smaller, newer venues, events and street bands, where some new music might emerge – they won’t be able to come close to affording it. The gentrifiers’ suppression will take hold. Venues will have to either shut down the music, or get driven out of business. Perhaps it is the city establishment’s strategy: to leave us with just tourist music and a few big names in big sites, with no sense that they are strangling the future. And for what? Increasing the radius of the comfort zone for a few property owners claiming special privilege.

So, those of you that follow me on FaceBook or Twitter or here, will continue to hear me talk about this because I’ve just about had it with people trying to change my city into some blase suburb.

BTW, the HBO series Treme ended this season.  There’s a great interview with a resident of that neighborhood on what the series has meant.  I still haven’t watched it but I swear there’s not an episode that doesn’t have a friend or neighbor in it.  I bought the DVDs some time ago but I still can’t bring myself to watch it.  I lived the entire thing and just can’t get into the idea of doing it again. I think the biggest curse of Katrina has turned into  two things for me.  One is the number of transplants that seem to want a pristine version of what they think New Orleans should be and what seems like the forced diaspora of the black middle class from the area which brought a red Louisiana and the evil Governor Jindal.  We could handle the Hurricane but I don’t know how much damage from those last two we can take.

RO: I think the show’s tapestry—dare I say gumbo?—of characters and struggles plays a big part in what makes Treme so authentically New Orleans. So it’s kinda hard for me to isolate a character or storyline—they all resonated with me at some level. But if I had to chose? I guess LaDonna running her bar; Nelson Hidalgo for his newcomer’s perspective, learning the byzantine ways of the city; Janette Desautel and her restaurant. Those would be the closest to my personal experience in post-Katrina New Orleans: I ran a bar right after the storm; I was a newcomer, in town just three months when the levees broke. Also, my first wife was a chef and we opened a summer restaurant in the Hamptons together, so Kim Dickens’ character’s professional struggles were very familiar to me.

This is one newcomer who seems to want to adjust to the way of life down here instead of having the way of life adjust to him.  But then, he doesn’t have billions of dollars to spend and the attention of politicians needing donors. I think this sound ordinance protest is the beginning of the pushback.  I’m not sure how much more folks are going to put up with gentrification at all costs.  I just hope the city council gets it. All of the music culture of New Orleans shown in Treme will only occur in hotel bars, the city’s sole casino, and a few Bourbon joints if the ordinance passes.

The_sopranos_right_at_favourite_place-1024x768 There are a lot of times when the larger-than-TV-Life culture of a state seems to be brought to life. It’s just not my state where the government seems to be pushing the agendas of the plutocracy at the cost of the people who call the place home. New Jersey government seems to be the new Goodfellas under Chris Christie.

The Christie Bridge Scandal seems to just pop off the screen and right into your face So far, there are more questions than answers.  However, this is not going away since the New Jersey Assembly has reissued subpoenas.  If there was an attempt to ride out the legislative year, it didn’t work.  Key establishment republicans are trying to buff this turd.

During a panel segment on Fox News Sunday, host John Roberts pointed out that many Republicans were praising Christie for firing one of his top aides after a newspaper exposed his administration’s role in closing part of the busiest bridge in the world as part of political retribution plot, but President Barack Obama had not fired anyone over the health care reform law.

“I think he did himself a lot of good,” Rove said of Christie’s reaction to the scandal. “I think he did himself some good by contrasting with the normal, routine way of handing these things, which is to be evasive, to sort of trim on the edges.”

“You’ll notice we haven’t been hearing a lot from the Clinton camp about this,” he added. “Contrast both with Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton’s handling of Benghazi.”

Later in the segment, Roberts asked the panel: “Where was this media coverage on Benghazi, the NSA or the IRS?”

Columnist George Will admitted that “this was not a phony scandal” because Christie’s administration had used the machinery of government to “screw our enemies.”

“There are reasons why conservatives had disagreements with Chris Christie, I don’t think that the tea party is going to seize upon Fort Lee and the George Washington Bridge as their defining difference with Christie,” Rove opined. “In fact, I think his handling of this, being straightforward, taking action — saying, ‘I’m responsible’ — firing the people probably gives him some street cred with some tea party Republicans, who say that’s what we want in a leader, somebody who steps up and takes responsibility.”

I’m sorry, but there’s something distinctly different about handling people who have abused the public trust, committed crimes, and caused public safety issues and managing people who had oversight of  a bad roll out of product.  Here’s more information about those subpoenas because it looks more and more like something very criminal happened in Trenton.

At least six New Jersey residents have filed suit against Christie, the state of New Jersey, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, among others for the traffic jams and resulting problems.

The traffic jam caused by the lane closures delayed emergency services and left commuters and school children stranded on the bridge during periods of heavy traffic, according to local officials.

ABC News also obtained a letter from Fort Lee EMS coordinator Paul Favia that documents four medical situations in which emergency responders were delayed because of the traffic gridlock. In one case, a 91-year-old woman later died at a hospital of cardiac arrest.

Although Favia doesn’t directly tie her death to the delays, he noted that “paramedics were delayed due to heavy traffic on Fort Lee Road and had to meet the ambulance en route to the hospital instead of on the scene.”

Documents now show that the aides were told that this would hurt people and cause safety issues.  Christie originally mocked the stories by talking about laying the cones down. How is this leadership?  I don’t recall Obama ever making a joke about the people who were struggling with the original problems of the site and he told the people in charge to go back and fix it.  Which model of leadership seems ethical to you?

gunsmoke

No special interest groups appear to have larger sway over the country than the NRA and the various groups–like ALEC–that are funded by Pete Peterson and the Koch Brothers.  They’ve convinced many Republican controlled states that even providing the most basic services is evil in the face of putting taxes on the wealthy. Well, the modern day Matt Dillons are going to have a rough time controlling gunslingers in Kansas. 

Reasoning that more guns mean greater safety, Kansas lawmakers voted last year to require cities and counties to make public buildings accessible to people legally carrying concealed weapons.

But for communities that remained wary of such open access to city halls, libraries, museums and courthouses, the Legislature provided an exemption: Guns can be banned as long as local governments pay for protections like metal detectors and security guards, ensuring the safety of those they have disarmed.

It turns out that in Wichita, the state’s most populous city, and in some other towns, the cost of opting out before the Jan. 1 deadline was just too high.

“It was essentially being foisted upon us,” said Janet Miller, a City Council member in Wichita. The city applied over the summer for a six-month exemption but voted last month not to extend it after the police estimated that it would cost $14 million a year to restrict guns in all 107 city-owned buildings.

While Republican-majority legislatures across the country are easing restrictions on gun owners, few states are putting more pressure on municipalities right now than Kansas. The new law has forced some local leaders to weigh policy conviction against fiscal pragmatism in a choice that critics say was flawed from the start: Open vulnerable locations to concealed side arms or stretch meager budgets to cover the extra security measures.

I guess it will be open season on criminal justice employees in courtrooms in Kansas.

Anyway, these are just three different parts of the country where it seems that local politicians are doing a disservice to the people who elected them.  They are more moved by special interests than their constituents.  So, what’s a voter to do?  As for me, I’m taking to the streets on Friday.   I’m just relying on the Greater Ethos that  I’ll be in my own bed on Friday Night.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Sinkholes and Chris Christie

Good $(KGrHqEOKnIE44R2dbwLBOWl4kko9w~~_35Morning

It was a busy day for me yesterday, and as usual, I am late to catch up…because of this I am writing the post this morning in a fog. So if any of the links below are repeats, I am sorry.

Yesterday Boston Boomer wrote about the court battle as BP Goes on Trial over 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Well, there were also some new developments in that other environmental disaster in Louisiana known as the Assumption Parish Sinkhole. Increased seismic activity halts work at giant Louisiana sinkhole

Officials say they have put a hold on all work directly connected to the giant Louisiana sinkhole in Assumption Parish due to increased seismic activity.

The seismic monitoring in the past 24 hours turned up what appears to be an increase in the underground movement of fluids in the area of the failed Oxy 3 cavern.

Just like in the past, officials say the underground movement is also likely connected to trees falling into the sinkhole and an increase in hydrocarbon odors.

Analysts say even though there appears to be no additional significant threat to the general area, until the underground activity slows down again, operations directly on the sinkhole have been suspended.

The main sinkhole has reached more than 800 feet in diameter and the western wall continues to collapse.

Two weeks ago, officials reported about 5,000 square feet fell in on the southwest side of the sinkhole, officials call this sloughing.

The Texas Brine people say this is part of the stabilization process. I don’t know about the technical aspects of the whole thing…but as the BP trial gets underway, Assumption Parish residents turn to lawmakers, seeking buyouts of property near sinkhole

Frustrated Assumption Parish residents displaced by a massive sinkhole that has swallowed 9 acres of land near their homes asked lawmakers Tuesday to assist them in getting buyouts of their property.

People who packed a hearing of the Senate and House natural resources and environment committees described 200 days of disruption and uncertainty since an August evacuation order of 150 homes.

They talked of children moved from schools and scared of their own houses, retirement dreams upended and families struggling to pay two mortgages while they decide what to do with their future and with their now nearly-worthless property.

“This has taken too damn long and people need to be bought out. They can’t go back,” said Henry Dupre, an Assumption Parish police juror.

Dakinikat has written repeatedly about Jindal’s record in recent weeks, this op/ed from The Advocate focuses on his response to the big ass hole in Jindal’s backyard…Inside Report: Sinkhole critics: O, Governor, where art thou?

For months now, a vocal group of activists and residents has found fault with Gov. Bobby Jindal over his absence from the scene of the Bayou Corne sinkhole.

Why, they ask, has he not made the commonly seen leadership visit to a disaster area that, while brief, boosts morale and provides hope?

Sinkhole activist John Achee Jr., a regular critic of Jindal and state government’s handling of the sinkhole and salt dome regulation, leveled this complaint again during a Feb. 19 joint hearing of the House and Senate committees on Natural Resources.

He called Jindal’s absence “disheartening” and “very concerning.”

“This to me is unacceptable and cannot or should not be tolerated,” said Achee, a polarizing figure himself over his criticisms of Jindal and state and parish government.

In response, Jindal’s press office provided its answer, quoting the governor as saying he receives regular updates and that state agencies have put out abundant resources in response to the sinkhole under his orders.

No matter how many times your subordinates send them, though, news releases will never be the same as a handshake, a pat on the back and encouraging words directly from the governor.

This perceived inattention has given Jindal’s critics a useful symbol for the way, they say, state government has inadequately responded to the Assumption Parish disaster and regulated salt dome operators.

The absence has also fit neatly into the narrative of an insulated governor with eyes on Washington 2016 and not Louisiana 2013.

But these complaints, it seems, could be neutralized for most with one helicopter ride to the command post in Bayou Corne.

So why not?

Jindal’s press office did not respond to requests for comment.

It seems to me Jindal’s non-existent response should be no surprise to anyone who reads our blog regularly, but I don’t think a helicopter fly over is going to help things. That Op/Ed is written by David Mitchell, maybe Kat can fill us in on what she thinks about this other mark against her governor. When I see the horror stories out of Louisiana, it makes me feel my hell pit of Banjoland is a cakewalk.

Since we started this post on one GOP Gov with eyes on the White House, let us look at another governor who fancies himself as a possible candidate in 2016.   Chris Christie Medicaid Plan To Offer Coverage To Poor New Jersey Residents

Christie, a potential 2016 presidential contender who is up for reelection this year, defied conservative opponents of Obamacare by embracing one of its key components when he announced his plan to the Democratic-controlled state legislature in Trenton. So far, more than a dozen Republican governors, including Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Perry of Texas, have declared their opposition to the Medicaid expansion.

“After considerable discussion and research, I have decided to participate in Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. While we already have one of the most expansive and generous Medicaid programs in the nation, including the second highest eligibility rate for children, we have an opportunity to ensure that an even greater number of New Jerseyans who are at or near the poverty line will have access to critical health services beginning in January of 2014,” Christie said.

Expanding Medicaid in New Jersey would provide new health care coverage to an estimated 291,000 people through 2022, according to an analysis released by the Urban Institute and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in November. New Jersey would spend an additional $1.5 billion and receive $15.4 billion from the federal government to finance the expansion during that time period, the report predicted.

Even the folks at Hot Air are complaining about the big man from the Garden State. You can Google this next link, I just don’t have the energy to deal with trolls today.  CPAC source: Christie wasn’t invited this year because he has a “limited future” in the GOP; Update: Sandy relief and Medicaid? « Hot Air

Hard to argue with that assessment today of all days, but … Mitt Romney’s also been invited this year. The future doesn’t get any more limited than that.

Also, since when is one’s prospects in the GOP a litmus test for whether you’re CPAC-worthy or not? Every time someone objects to GOPround’s exclusion, the rejoinder inevitably comes that it’s the “Conservative Political Action Conference,” not the “Republican Political Action Conference.” Okay, in that case, who cares about Christie’s future in the GOP? Either his ideas are conservative enough or they aren’t.

Verdict: They aren’t.

I think all those CPAC members are still pissed with Christie’s little sitcom, or after-school special, Barack and the Fat Man.

Guess Fox News hasn’t gotten the memo: Same Day Christie Embraces Obamacare, Fox’s Eric Bolling Tells Conservatives He’s Their 2016 Savior

Bolling advised his fellow Republicans that they must embrace Christie as the future leader of their party.

The Five hosts noted that Bill O’Reilly told Fox’s audience on Monday that the GOP needs a leader who can articulate a conservative message and “fight back” against the press in order to move the country to the right.

Andrea Tantaros warned that the GOP has a big challenge in the effort to “fight back dependency.” She said that the future political battles Republicans will have to wage will become harder as the populace becomes more comfortable with government-backed programs that ensure financial security.

“I hate all this,” Bolling said of infighting within the GOP about the future direction of the party. “They need to get together and form one party that has a big tent for everyone; whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, male, female.”

“Bill O’Reilly’s right,” added Bolling . “You need someone who’s charismatic. He’s got to be a leader. And, this one: the way O’Reilly puts it, ‘fight back the media jackals.’ That’s Christie.”

Bolling continued to make the case for Christie as the natural leader of the Republican Party moving into the next election cycle. However, he anticipated that the party’s conservative wing will have problems embracing Christie due to the unorthodox positions on issues like global warming and gun control.

I could make a comment about how anyone would have problems “embracing” Chris Christie, but since my ass is just slightly smaller than his, I won’t.

Okay, because I’m writing this post on the quick, here are a few other stories in link dump fashion. Let’s stick with US news, shall we?

From Colorado….Threats to Dem Rep: ‘I Hope Someone Giffords Your Ass With A Gun’

Franklin Sain, a 42-year-old Colorado Springs man, was arrested last Friday for threatening Colorado lawmaker Rep. Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) over gun control legislation that she is currently sponsoring and that recently passed in the state House.

Franklin Sain is accused of threatening Fields and her daughter using racial and sexual slurs.

Fields told KOA Radio that she does not know Sain, and said “All I know is the kinds of things that he said were very inappropriate, and they’re alarming, and they were very intimidating.”

[…]

There are many misspelled words and incorrect grammar usage in the messages, and they appear as written in the affidavit, along with censoring of offensive words.

According to an affidavit, one of the letters alleged to have been written by the Colorado Springs man reads, “Rhonda Fields, mother of [Field’s daughter]. Death to both.” The letter goes on to say “There will be blood! I’m coming for you, N—– B—-.”

In one of the emails, Sain allegedly wrote, “hopefully somebody Gifords [sic] your asses with a gun.”

The following is one of seven emails police say Sain sent to Fields:

“THANKS N—– C—! You really think passing nay more laws will stop gun violence? You and that other N—– OBAMA are living in fantasy land. Chicago and DC have the most strict gun laws in the nation and more people die from gun violence than anywhere. You f—ing c—s are pathetic excuse for civil servants. Hell, n—–s love shooting themselves with GATS, isn’t that what your people call it. What you have done here is creater [sic] criminals out of law abiding citizens, and put yourself out of a job. You politicians have no idea what you are even doing anyway, do you know how long it takes some to change a magazine, less than a second, so what if some with experience decides to flip out and bring their gun in with 5 or so 10 round magazines, they can do the same amount of damage. Limiting magazine sizes is stupididty, [sic] and will not work…”

Then the most unhinged of Sain’s messages also refers to Field’s daughter:

Rhonda Fields, N—– C—, Mother of —–, Death to Both, All N—– Back to Africa, F— you, F— Your Laws, I Keep my 30 Round Magazines, There Will Be Blood!, I’m Coming For You, N—– B—-

Sain told police that he didn’t mean to threaten Fields, and regrets the language he used. He has no prior record, and is the chief operating officer at SofTec Solutions in Englewood, Colorado, where he does consulting work for the government and private organizations

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and two other Democratic Reps also received similar threatening messages.

WTF? That is all I can say.

Latest news out of South Carolina: One student dead after South Carolina university shooting

A 19-year-old student died following a shooting on Tuesday at a residence hall of a South Carolina university near the resort area of Myrtle Beach, and authorities were searching for a gunman, university officials said.

Meanwhile in Connecticut: 2 Missing Children, Grandmother Found Dead in Conn.

And over in Illinois, Robin Kelly wins Illinois Democratic primary on gun control.

The headlines for California: Slayings of 2 officers in Santa Cruz mark ‘darkest day,’ chief says

This last link is written with Georgia in mind, but it deals with immigration news hitting most states: Feds free illegal immigrants in Georgia, other states

Y’all have a great day, and let us know what you are reading and blogging and thinking about today.


New Jersey Blues and The Big Guy

Though I now live in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, I’m a native of the Great State of New Jersey.  With friends and family scattered across the Garden State [something of a misnomer], I still keep half an eye on NJ happenings.

As we all know, Chris Christie now fills the Governor’s seat [with abundance].  Yes, that was a cheap shot.  Christie has become a Republican darling for his blunt, shoot from the hip style.  In Tony Soprano fashion, Christie badmouths teachers, unions and anyone who gets in the way.  What a guy!

But the man is not without Sin.

Christie believes in limited gun control.  Eeek!  He has stated that in urban situations, limiting the number of guns makes sense.  The ‘makes sense’ is obviously a big issue with the current crop of Republicans.  Christie also expressed a belief in ‘Climate Change,” stating that human activity is undoubtedly involved and that he would defer to the experts.

OMG.  A science guy!  How did this man squeeze his considerable girth under the GOP tent?

The proposed mosque site in NYC?  Christie refused to take a stand.  He withheld comment, while the flames of controversy were fanned with heady delight by crank pundits, 24/7 shock jocks, faux celebrities and Fox News [ahem] reporters. [In full disclosure, I believed the mosque plans were unwise and badly timed—too soon, too close to the proximity of Ground Zero, which I’d visited two years before the story broke].

But worse, when appointing a judge to NJ’s Superior Court last year, Chris Christie appointed a . . . Muslim!  Can you believe it?  Shades of Sharia Law rained across Tea Party brows.  The horror!  The betrayal!

Christie’s response?  He was sick of dealing with the ‘crazies.’

But it’s clear now, indisputable, that Governor Chris Christie has learned nothing—nada, zip–from his past misdeeds.  The National Organization for Marriage [NOM] is up in arms over Christie’s appalling nomination of Bruce Harris for the State Supreme Court.

Why? you may ask.

According to NOM, Harris is an extremist of the worst kind.  He would be the first openly gay, third African American to serve the High Court and has publicly admitted support of and work in behalf of gay marriage legislation.  Though Harris has agreed to recuse himself on any legislation involving same sex marriage, he’d sent an unfortunate email [emails can get you in a whole lot of trouble] to State Senator Joseph Pennacchio.  NOM, in a mailing to supporters dated 30 January, with a header reading, Tell Christie to Withdraw Nomination of Pro-SSM Judge For Extremist Views Equating Christianity and Slavery, reproduced said email:

When I hear someone say that they believe marriage is only between a man and a woman because that’s the way it’s always been, I think of the many “traditions” that deprived people of their civil rights for centuries: prohibitions on interracial marriage, slavery, (which is even provided for in the Bible), segregation, the subservience of women, to name just a few of these “traditions.”

I hope that you consider my request that you re-evaluate your position and, if after viewing the videos, reading Governor Whitman’s letter and thinking again about this issue of civil rights you still oppose same-sex marriage on grounds other than religion I would appreciate it if you you’d explain your position to me. And, if the basis of your opposition is religious, then I suggest that you do what the US Constitution mandates—and that is to maintain a separation between the state and religion.

Here’s the rub, according to NOM and their screeching advocates:

. . . a man who cannot tell the difference between supporting our traditional understanding of marriage and wanting to enslave a people lacks common sense and judicial temperament.

And to suggest that legislators should ignore the views of religious constituents, that moral views grounded in the Bible are somehow illegitimate in the public square, seriously compounds the offense.

These are not the words of a judicial conservative, a man who believes in common sense, strict construction of the state constitution—the kind of judge Gov. Christie promised to appoint to the court.

Over the weekend, it was suggested I lacked a sense of humor when referring to NC Congressman Larry Pittman’s email, sent ‘inadvertently’ to the NC General Assembly, in which Pittman suggested ‘abortionists’ [they would be physicians who perform legal and safe abortions] should be first in line for a public hanging.  Public hangings, Congressman Pittman added, should be reintroduced to deter crime and set a firm, if not ghastly example.

He was making a funny, I was informed.

Those who would expect me to laugh off the Pittman email would no doubt expect me to consider the Harris email a source of outrage and NOM’s response as perfectly reasonable.

They would be wrong.

The Bible is illegitimate in the public square when it’s stuffed down out throats as a wearisome and pathetic excuse to continue spewing ancient, ugly bigotry and discrimination; control the reproductive lives of women; and persist in the ludicrous, absurd proposition that a fertilized egg is a ‘person.’

And sorry, Harris is absolutely correct—you cannot erase or rewrite Biblical history.  It is not pretty. It is not even civilized. It is also not relevant, beyond the Beatitudes, which are rarely quoted and sadly ignored.

To be clear, I am not a fan of Governor Christie; I do not support the majority of his economic principles.  But when it comes to taking a stand against the ‘crazies,’ I give the man major props.  He’s standing firm for Harris.  He’s doing the right thing.

The National Organization for Marriage claims that Bruce Harris is an extremist.  My suggestion?

Take a look in the mirror, folks.  Take a long, hard look.


Late Evening News Reads: Cup of Tea?

Good Evening, getting ready to enjoy a couple old classic movies on TCM…so this will be a quick post.

I don’t think I am the only one that is getting fatigue from all this back and forth between the two political parties…Dak had a great post about it today, and it looks like many of you are bringing up the Tea Party. So for my first link, Special report: Tea Party grassroots army readies for battle | Reuters

For insight into the conservative Tea Party movement’s battle plan in 2012, check out Joe Dugan’s Google spreadsheets.

Dugan, 66, a retired manufacturing executive and chairman of the Myrtle Beach Tea Party, is particularly proud of the scoring system he’s devised for South Carolina legislators. Every vote by a member of the state’s House or Senate is recorded, with points awarded for those that reflect the conservative position.

“Let’s say you get above a five, we’ll actively campaign for your reelection,” Dugan says. “Below a three, then – Republican or Democrat – we’ll come after you.”

WTF?

“The Tea Party movement is more organized, more focused and more potent,” said Rep. Scott, who talks regularly to Dugan. “What happened in 2010 was not the end. It was just the beginning.”

Tea Party supporters now hold fewer sign-waving rallies, a hallmark of their early opposition to bank bailouts and President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform in 2009. But the movement isn’t losing steam.

Interviews with activists across 20 U.S. states indicate that Tea Party groups, far from fading, have evolved into an increasingly sophisticated and effective network of activists. They are working to unseat establishment Republicans who they believe have betrayed the principles of lower taxes, limited government, and free markets.

“Those who think the Tea Party is on the wane are in for a gigantic surprise in 2012,” says Debbie Dooley, co-organizer of the Atlanta Tea Party. “We have built a grassroots army and we will be a fine-tuned machine next year.”

So compare the threatening nature of this interview to these remarks from another Tea Party member, even though some of the right-wing leaning press are trying to make the man out as a “wannabe.”

Wannabe Tea Party politician unleashes racist Facebook screed against President Obama  – NY Daily News

A rabid Tea Party wannabe politician in California called for the assassination of President Obama and his “monkey children” in a recent Facebook rant – and then defended his right to do so Monday.

Jules Manson, who failed miserably in his 2011 bid for a City Council seat in Carson, Calif., urged the sickening reprisal, saying Obama’s support of a revised military authorization bill last week was an act of “treason” that “eroded” constitutional protections.

“It must be countered with assassinations onto them and their children,” he wrote in the original posting that has since been scrubbed from his Facebook profile.

“Assassinate the f—-n (N-word) and his monkey cWannhildren,” he prodded, according to a screen grab obtained by YourBlackWorld.com.

An angry backlash quickly ensued, and Manson, 48, toned down the vile rhetoric Monday while defending his right to spew hate.

They never want to own the violent actions and racist remarks from their members.

Ex-Carson Council candidate talks anti-Obama Facebook rant | abc7.com

Jules Manson, 48, posted the racially charged statement Sunday on his Facebook page. His post included the word, “assassinate,” referred to Obama using the N-word and referred to the president’s daughters as “monkey children.”

It’s a rant that Manson wishes he could take back.

“Basically, I mustered the most hateful and vile words I could think of to express my hurt and contempt for the president. However, I went too far. That’s all that was. It was harmless. I’m not the least bit racist at all,” Manson told Eyewitness News.

Manson has since apologized for the statement, but the damage was done. The Secret Service got wind of it and is now conducting an investigation to determine if Manson is a genuine threat to the first family.

“I consented to the search of my home, my vehicle and my person as well. Now, they’re questioning my family,” Manson said.

Manson considers himself a Libertarian and was angered by language in the Defense Authorization Act that he and others say could deny Americans their civil rights.

Manson insist he is not a racist…cough…cough…

Then you have this bit of New Jersey Tea Party conspiracy theory run amok Tea Party raises fear of UN at Ocean County freeholder meeting | The Asbury Park Press NJ | APP.com

Conspiracy fears over a United Nations plot to establish a one-world government in which property rights can be voided, brought a dozen Tea Party activists to Wednesday’s meeting of the Ocean County Board of Freeholders.

Specifically, Ocean County Tea Party members voiced concern with Gov. Chris Christie’s strategic plan for targeting growth in New Jersey and the county’s update of its own master development plan.

“I’m not attacking the need for planning and I’m not attacking the need for good environmental stewardship,” said David Sharp, 75, of Waretown. “What I am concerned about … a thing called Agenda 21 that has crept into the policy making of many government agencies.”

According to literature from the John Birch Society, Agenda 21 would mandate national service, control the size of families, reduce the amount of goods and services individuals can purchase and use, and virtually eliminate private ownership.

“Under the U.N. plan, the role of the government is to control the individual for a greater good in a global community,” Sharp said. “Quote, ‘Rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.’ That scares me and I see that happening in our country.”

And lastly:

In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback puts tea party tenets into action with sharp cuts – The Washington Post

If you want to know what a Tea Party America might look like, there is no place like Kansas.

In the past year, three state agencies have been abolished and 2,050 jobs have been cut. Funding for schools, social services and the arts have been slashed. The new Republican governor rejected a $31.5 million federal grant for a new health-insurance exchange because he opposes Obama’s health care law. And that’s just the small stuff.

A new “Office of the Repealer” has been created to reduce the number of laws and regulations, and the Repealer is canvassing the state for more cut suggestions.

In the upcoming legislative session, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) plans to roll out proposals to change the way schools are funded, taxes are levied and state pensions are administered.

A year after voters vaulted hundreds of tea party candidates to power in Washington and in state capitals, the movement’s goals are being pursued aggressively in states such as Wisconsin, Ohio and Texas.

It is enough to give one the tea party willies…

“It’s a revolution in a cornfield,” said Arthur Laffer, the 71-year-old architect of supply-side economic theory and former economic adviser for President Ronald Reagan who is now working with the governor. “Brownback and his whole group there, it’s an amazing thing they’re doing. Truly revolutionary.”

Brownback, 55, declined to be interviewed for this article but has said he wants to turn his small farming state into a national showcase for the virtues of limited government.

“The states are to be the laboratory for democracy,” he said recently at a dinner at the Kansas Policy Institute, a think tank in Wichita. “Why not here and why not us and why not now?”

Talk of the tea party fading is a bit optimistic, the people behind the movement are still there and it doesn’t look like they are going anywhere any time soon.