Monday, July 24, 2017

Raleigh "Pork"

CLEVELAND -- An unincorporated community in western Johnston County will receive state money for downtown revitalization this year, although residents aren’t sure where their “downtown” is located.

North Carolina legislators this summer earmarked $30,000 for Cleveland, a fast-growing crossroads community of shopping centers and subdivisions that does not govern itself and does not have a traditional downtown.

The money surprised Johnston County leaders and residents. They hadn’t applied for the money, and so far no one has received direction on what it is meant for or any regulations for its use....
Only deep in this article do we get around to asking who could possibly be responsible for raining $30,000 onto a place that has no government entity capable of spending it.

Was it Sen. Brent Jackson who represents Johnston County and serves on the Senate appropriations committee?  "He said he was not involved in drafting this portion of the budget."

Was it House member Donna White, who represents Johnston County in the other body? She did not return calls from the reporter. Hmmm.

Why engineer pork for your home district and not want to take credit for it? Because it's irrational and shameful?

ead more here:

Jared the Chocolate Soldier -- Keep Refrigerated!

Prince Jared testifies today before the Senate Intelligence Committee and tomorrow before the House Intelligence Committee, both testimonies closed to the public and the press, which suggests that Jared's actually a chocolate soldier and might melt under too much light. We hear he'll not be asked to testify under an oath of truthfulness, which suggests another whole raft of problems with this appendage of a president who makes shit up constantly.

The U.S. Code section 1621 covers lying to Congress under oath, with penalties of up to five years in jail. But another statute, section 1001 of Title 18, requires no oath-taking for a charge of perjury: "Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the government of the United States, knowingly and willfully falsifies or conceals information, including before a congressional committee's inquiry, may also be fined or imprisoned up to five years."

So it shouldn't matter today if Jared doesn't raise his right hand and promise to tell the truth. Lies will bite him in the butt anyway, eventually.

So what's he going to testify to? According to an 11-page document he released this morning, he never "colluded" (and I trust that someone will ask him how he defines that word), and "I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.” That second claim begs the question: Did you try to rely on Russian funds, and what did trying entail?

Jared says he also wasn't trying to set up a secret back channel with Russia. The Russian ambassador certainly thought that was exactly what he was trying to do.

Russian Ambassador Kislyak subsequently requested that Jared meet with Sergey Gorkov, a Kremlin-linked banker with “a direct line to the Russian President." Jared claims he took the meeting out of courtesy and did not discuss American sanctions against the bank that Gorkov represents. That testimony also doesn't comport with reported facts.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Republicans Find a Vestigial Spine About Trump-Russia

Senate and House Republicans have apparently reached a deal on a Russian sanctions bill to punish Putin and his boys for their interference in our election. The Republican Congressional leaders have done so over the objections of Trump, who does not like that the new bill would tie his hands, make it impossible for him to unilaterally lift sanctions on Russia.

Six months into the Trump presidency and Republicans seem to be less than impressed with the leader of their party. They're certainly not afraid of him any more.

The two houses intend to pass the new language soon, and then Trump will be faced with a decision: veto it or sign it? Taking bets right now on which path he'll opt for. (He's Putin's boy.)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders now says that Trump will sign the bill. Almost simultaneously, on yesterday's morning shows, The Mooch quoted the president (first as "an anonymous source" and then by name) as continuing to disbelieve that there was ever Russian hacking of our election.

So ... just trying to keep up with the bizarre logic of Donald J. Trump ... he is prepared to sign a law extending sanctions on the Russians for the hacking of our election that he believes never happened.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Tillis and Burr Duck the Public on Health Care Debate

Carolyn Kaster, AP
"Another congressional recess has passed without Sen. Richard Burr or Sen. Thom Tillis holding public town halls. North Carolinians have begged for these forums to address the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act, yet it seems that our senators would rather be anywhere else." --Sarah Squire

Believe that qualifies as an understatement.

Today in Slapstick Comedy

Obviously, Trump has something much to hide, and obviously, the key to unlock those secrets lies in his "finances," and obviously, Robert Mueller is on the trail and may already have those savagely guarded tax returns.

Which is why Trump must and will find a way to fire Robert Mueller. What comes after that induces both fear and loathing.

Which brings us to the new White House personality hired to "message" all that is about to happen, Anthony Scaramucci, the new communications director minister of propaganda. He popped up yesterday and held a slick 30 minute Q&A with the White House press, blew them all a kiss when he exited, and tried his Long Islander best to charm the bloomers off every living soul in that room. He's Leonardo DiCaprio's younger, less dissipated brother in "The Wolf of Wall Street."

What particular reality does Scaramucci inhabit? "...Scaramucci ... suggested his role would be to unshackle an already unfettered president," wrote Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman. Because Trump has been so repressed lately? No, because you're only as popular as your last public appearance, and a good publicist knows what excites the masses.

The name Scaramucci sounds familiar because in European circuses there's often a clown named "Scaramouche," a name which is a corruption of the Italian Scaramuccia, a stock character in knock-about comedy routines. Scaramuccia is a pompous clown and always gets his comeuppance, usually administered by a rival clown, the clever Harlequin. Scaramouch must suffer the indignity of licks from a "slapstick" and hence "slapstick comedy."

So Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci becomes Scaramouch the White House pompadour, who will know it all and will tell a version of the truth most pleasing to the man who hired him.

But who plays Harlequin with the slapstick in this improvisational comedy? Why, the media -- I mean the fake news -- which must beat Scaramouch about the head for his idiocy. Trump thinks he's already taken care of the press, discrediting it totally with his enthusiastic base. That his base isn't in fact the majority of Americans will be ultimately the only thing to save us from Pantaloon.

Oh, who's Pantaloon? He's another one of those stock characters from European comic theater/clowning. According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, Pantaloon is "a cunning and rapacious yet often deceived ... merchant." My! That pretty much fits the head that wears the clown in the White House.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Seth Banks Considering a Primary Challenge Against Sen. Ralph Hise?

Seth Banks
Rumor on the street: District Attorney Seth Banks (24th Prosecutorial District, which includes Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, and Yancey counties) is considering a primary run against incumbent Republican Senator Ralph Hise.

Seth Banks grew up on a Yancey County farm, got his law degree from Wake Forest, and lives now in Burnsville. He was just elected District Attorney in 2016 after beating Watauga attorney Nathan Miller in a Republican primary.

Hise is currently under investigation for violating campaign finance laws and for illegally pocketing more than $10,000 from his campaign account. He's also under fire for a potential conflict of interest in his role as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Elections in that he controls the budget of the very agency charged with investigating his campaign activities.

We Are Already in a Constitutional Crisis

Everybody's buzzing this morning about the taped interview Trump gave to NYTimes reporters.

The main takeaway: Trump thought he'd be king once he got into the White House, thought that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was his personal lawyer and would protect him from any FBI investigation, thinks now that he is still above the rule of law. That's a constitutional crisis in the making.

Trump said: “Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

"Unfair to the president" because obviously Jeff Sessions was supposed to shield Trump from the FBI, and he could have shielded Trump from the FBI, but he went and recused himself and exposed Trump to the FBI. What a louse! (Makes us wonder all over again what Trump must have said to the new guy he nominated to head the FBI, or what he wanted to say to him.)

Is there any other possible interpretation for what Trump meant when he said "it's unfair"?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why Would the Watauga GOP Nominate Anne Marie Yates to the BOE?

High Country Press
According to reporting in the Watauga Democrat, the Watauga Republican Party nominated Anne Marie Yates to the Watauga Board of Elections. Interesting idea, since Ms. Yates's husband Perry is a County Commissioner who would presumably be running for reelection during her term of service -- creating a flagrant conflict of interest.

Or perhaps her nomination was actually a veiled announcement that Mr. Yates will not be seeking reelection in 2020?

Trump: "I Learned My Politics From Vlad the Impaler"

Trump declared yesterday that his new plan -- Plan D, by our reckoning -- is to "let Obamacare fail." "It’ll be a lot easier,” Trump said. “We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”

Translation: We will make people suffer to prove a political point. People are mere pawns, and sick people are even easier to torture.

According to Thomas Kaplan, Trump has several options for making Obamacare fail faster:

1. "He could throw insurance markets into a tailspin at any time by cutting off the subsidy payments to insurers, as he has threatened to do."

2. "He could further destabilize the markets by not enforcing the mandate that most Americans have health insurance."

3. "He could cancel advertising and other efforts to encourage enrollment under the Affordable Care Act when the annual sign-up period begins in November."

4. And then there's the poor-mouthing that Trump and all Republican politicians have been doing for months and months: "A barrage of negative statements from the administration could project an official view that the health law is collapsing, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Sabotaging people's health insurance out of revenge seems just so perfect for the "Republican brand." And Trump's doubly an idiot if he thinks he won't own that.