Friday, December 30, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Boards of Election Power-Grab by Republicans Put on Hold

This afternoon Wake Superior Court Chief Judge Donald Stephens put a temporary hold on the Republican rewrite of boards of elections which would give Republicans the advantage in running North Carolina elections, especially in even-numbered years. Judge Stephens intends to review the entire law for its constitutionality next Thursday. The law was due to go into effect this Sunday night at midnight.

“The General Assembly passed a bill that, among other things, radically changes the structure and composition of the executive agency responsible for administrating our state’s election laws,” the Cooper lawsuit says. “Those changes are unconstitutional because they violate the separation of powers provisions enshrined in the North Carolina Constitution by shifting control over that agency away from the governor to the General Assembly.”

Let the Supervillain Preen

Leslie Jones was one of the stars of the all-female remake of "Ghostbusters." For no particular reason, a man in a position to do it organized a hacking/trolling attack on Leslie Jones that drove her off the internet. It was that vicious and relentless.

The man who organized that attack was Milo Yiannopoulos, "a Twitter bully" proud of who he can destroy. Yiannopoulos is also the alt-right white nationalist editor of Breitbart News (Leslie Jones is black), and he just got a quarter-million-dollar book deal with Threshold Editions, a semi-independent imprint of Simon & Schuster.

"Threshold imprint’s tagline is 'Celebrating 10 Years of Being Right!' They’ve published works by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and President-elect Donald Trump."

Threshold Editions characterizes Yiannopoulos' book -- to be modestly titled "Dangerous" -- in a press release:
DANGEROUS will be a book on free speech by the outspoken and controversial gay British writer and editor at Breitbart News who describes himself as “the most fabulous supervillain on the internet.”
So there were calls immediately all over social media to boycott Simon & Schuster, and do worse, but I can't for the life of me go along with any censorship. If you don't want to buy the book, don't buy the book. I won't buy the book. (Don't buy any book by Simon & Schuster. I don't care. I won't either, until they publish something I actually want to read.)

Threshold Editions has both a right to publish "Dangerous" and a right to try to make a killing on Milo's celebrity (the reason for the big bucks), and Yiannopoulos can jack off in public (so to speak) all he wants to.

It's in the Constitution.

The Word

So Trump's inauguration planners have announced that they'll have a half-dozen religious leaders speaking/praying at the swearing in, considerably more of those types than either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush featured at their inaugurations, because either (a) the Donald -- and the rest of us schnooks too, of course -- need extra lift this year or (b) the Donald knows carnivals and intends to give the masses what he thinks they want. Crackerjacks and cotton candy.

Among the clerics will be Franklin Graham because of course. Graham, you'll recall, came down from The Mount soon after the election and admitted that Vladimir Putin God had directly intervened to push Donald Trump into the White House.

(Still haven't reconciled ancient theology with the choice of a thrice-married, racist, misogynist sexual predator with a trophy wife, who brags about getting away with sexual assault, who cheated his workers, is notoriously stingy with charity, and who declared serial bankruptcy to get out of paying his bills. Who also bears false witness, constantly.)

Praise the Lord and fuggetaboutit!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016: The Year in Review

So all of this happened:

1. Early in December, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who all things considered had a very rocky year, made history when...
...a Quinnipiac poll showed his job disapproval rating at 77 percent.

2. Ted Cruz said that when his wife, Heidi, became first lady…
...“French fries are coming back to the cafeteria.”
3. Marco Rubio’s ad about how “It’s Morning Again in America” made news because… opened with a shot of the Vancouver skyline.

4. In a debate, Ben Carson said that when a president vets potential Supreme Court nominees, he should consider…
...“the fruit salad of their life.”
5. This year Rick Perry, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Energy…
...lost the paso doble competition to Vanilla Ice on “Dancing With the Stars.”
6.  Retired Gen. Jim Mattis, Trump’s selection for Secretary of Defense, is nicknamed…

...Mad Dog.
7.  Linda McMahon, Trump’s pick to head the Small Business Administration, has known the president-elect a long time. McMahon’s husband, Vince, once paired with Trump in a…
...professional wrestling production in which Trump shaved off McMahon’s hair.
8. Trump’s choice for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, is a fast-food franchise baron who once said…
...“I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”
9. Trump won the Electoral College by one of the lowest margins in American history, and got nearly three million votes fewer than Hillary Clinton. Afterward, he referred to his victory as…
..."a landslide."
10. In a TV interview, Trump said that when he looks in the mirror he sees…
...“a person that is 35 years old.”
11. Trump said he didn’t need a daily intelligence briefing because…
...“I’m, like, a smart person.”

12. Trump’s doctor, who wrote the famous letter declaring Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” gave an interview in which he said it had never occurred to him that Trump, at 70, would be the oldest president-elect. But he added…
...“If something happens to him, then it happens to him .… That’s why we have a vice president and a speaker of the House and a whole line of people. They can just keep dying.”
Acknowledgement: The great Gail Collins

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Trump Will Have To Put a Tariff on Himself

According to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, most of the clothing Americans buy at Walmart and Target is made abroad, including 97% of apparel and 98% of shoes.

All during the recent presidential campaign, Donald Trump made hay with working-class audiences by attacking companies that have sent jobs overseas. He bragged that he would impose tariffs on goods made in China and elsewhere, when those companies should be keeping jobs in the U.S.

But guess what? All the shit that Trump sells at the Trump Tower gift shop -- "Trump National Golf Club" caps and Trump Tower hoodies and $65 white golf shirts -- is manufactured overseas. The vast majority of daughter Ivanka's clothing and accessory lines is made in various Asian countries, including most especially Japan. 

Ivanka was criticized for meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan immediately after the election while also completing a licensing deal with a company whose largest shareholder is wholly owned by the Japanese government.

Almost all of Ivanka's goods are made overseas, according to a New York Times investigation:
[A] review of shipments compiled separately by Panjiva and ImportGenius, two trade databases ... tallied 193 shipments for imported goods associated with Ms. Trump for the year through Dec. 5, mostly Chinese-made shoes and handbags. Her dresses and blouses are made in China, Indonesia and Vietnam, according to a review of hundreds of clothing tags and financial documents filed by G-III.
So, yeah, slap a big fat tariff on that stuff, Mr. Trump! You go right ahead and do that.

In the meantime, we'll have another cup of coffee while we wait and wonder when your low-information idolaters will finally figure out that you're nothing but a serial liar, a bloated braggart, and a blow-hard.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Following 5th Special Session of General Assembly, HB2 Is Still Driving Away Business and Shaming the State

Let's get to the gist quickly: The city of Charlotte upheld its half of the "deal" -- repealed its non-discrimination ordinance, leaving the LGBTQ community without any job protections -- and the Republicans in the NC Senate couldn't resist adding a little side spin to their end of the "deal" at the last minute -- a long moratorium on any city in the state passing any ordinance "regulating employment practices or regulating public accommodations or access to restrooms, showers or changing facilities.”

But it really ended up that the meddling moratorium, which essentially would establish a "cooling off" period during which discrimination would still be legal, wasn't the reason the special session disintegrated into chaos. Phil Berger in the Senate could have passed whatever he wanted to pass -- he has a veto-proof majority of Republicans -- but too many Senate Republicans feel very affectionate toward their ability to discriminate against people, so they were never going to vote for repeal anyway.

And don't even get us started on the NC House, where the fiercest bigots hang out with that paragon of virtue, Jonathan Jordan, and where passage of repeal was going to be even harder than in the Senate.

All I want for Christmas is a functional state government.

Berger (and probably Speaker of the House Tim Moore) blamed Roy Cooper for the debacle (because, right! Roy Cooper has that veto-proof majority in the Senate). McCrory blamed "well-funded left-wing interest groups," because who else are you gonna blame when you're a pile of soiled laundry waiting to be shipped out for washing? Everybody blamed the City of Charlotte, which should never have tried to negotiate with these people in the first place.

But Democrats never learn about giving a toe to the crocodile.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Government Is About Cashing In, Yes?

Everything's for sale in Trump Nation, especially access to The Man Himself.

Came out that Don Jr. and Eric Trump "dangled a rare opportunity for donors willing to pony up $500,000 and more" to hang out with the new president on the day after his inauguration (photo-op included at no additional charge!) and go on a hunting or fishing trip with one of the brothers. Donors willing to go up to $1 million might get to kiss The Donald's naked ass.

"In the weeks since Mr. Trump’s election, three of his four adult children, who are serving on his transition committee, have been a near-constant presence. One or more of them have participated in a meeting with the prime minister of Japan, joined in on a phone call with the president of Argentina, and sat at the conference table where Mr. Trump met with leaders of major technology companies."

Ivanka has a big hand in promoting Trump properties world-wide, and she owns Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry. She wore a $10,800 gold bangle bracelet when she participated in an interview her family did with “60 Minutes,” and, like, 30 minutes later, her jewelry company sent out a notice to reporters with a photograph of her wearing the bracelet, trying to use the appearance as an opportunity to sell more items. “Please find attached a style alert of Ivanka wearing her favorite bangle from the Metropolis Collection over the weekend on 60 Minutes,” Monica Marder, the vice president for sales at Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, said in the email.

The Eric Trump Foundation famously offered "coffee with Ivanka Trump" for a measly $77,888 -- that is, they offered that inducement until the press got wind of it, and then the offer evaporated like Donald Trump's hairspray. Same goes for that $500,000 to $1 million offer of access to the new president on the day after his inauguration -- withdrawn quickly after it became public.

Don't trust for a moment that supposedly non-profits and Trump foundations are raising this money, presumably for charitable reasons. The people willing to buy access sure as hell aren't doing it for charitable reasons.

The "kleptocrats" are about to move in, and they obviously can't wait. Literally can't wait.

Dallas Woodhouse Needs a Nap

The Charlotte City Council suddenly repealed their anti-discrimination ordinance on Monday (under pressure, apparently, from Governor-Elect Roy Cooper). They did it to seal a deal with the General Assembly that it would also repeal HB2. But last night the deal seemed to unravel a bit.

Why? Although the city council repealed the major parts of its February ordinance – including all the clauses related to bathrooms and locker rooms that were the main source of Republican opposition -- the council apparently missed some minor "linked" provisions.

So last night at 1 a.m., Dallas Woodhouse, Executive Director of the NCGOP, who likes to take a drink once in a while, tweeted this: “The HB2 blood is now stain soaked on their hands and theirs alone. What a dishonest, disgraceful shame by Roy Cooper and Charlotte Democrats.”

No one ever accused Woodhouse of sober thoughtfulness.

The Charlotte City Council met again early this morning to fix the oversight:
Charlotte City Attorney Bob Hagemann said there had been some misunderstanding about council’s actions on Monday, but denied that there was any attempt to confuse or mislead state lawmakers.
“You [city council] did repeal all of the public accommodation ordinance” Monday, he said. “No attempt was made to hide anything or deceive anybody...I was certain the council acted in good faith.”
“I don’t know that we’re smart enough to actually do that,” he said of tricking the legislature. “But we’re not dumb enough to try.”
So this morning as the General Assembly convened, presumably to perform their half of the "repeal deal," various Republican members of the House began denouncing the whole (5th) special session of the General Assembly as unconstitutional (like that has ever slowed them down!), announcing they would never vote for repeal. The three loudest grandstanders were Larry Pittman (Cabarrus), Jeff Collins (Franklin, Nash), and Michael Speciale (Beaufort, Craven, Pamlico).

With only 105 of 120 members of the House showing up this morning, if there are many defections among the Republicans, it will take all the Democrats and at least 15 sane Republicans to repeal HB2.

Back to Woodhouse: He's a Liar

The last special session of the General Assembly -- gosh! was it just last week? -- was characterized by a preemptive, warning outcry among Democrats that the Republicans were planning to pack the NC Supreme Court to nullify the election of Democratic Judge Michael Morgan. You remember everyone's case of nerves about that, don't you? What the GA did was bad enough, but they didn't pack the court.

Dallas Woodhouse issued a blistering, blood-on-their-hands type statement attacking the news media for reporting the rumor: “I am embarrassed by how the press fell hook, line and sinker for a court expansion crisis that was speculated by Democrats, rumored by Democrats, and fed by Democrats.” Blah, blah, blah. The Woodhouse denunciation went on and on.

But ... really? Woodhouse embarrassed? And we thought he was un-embarrassable!

But who comes out Monday and exposes Woodhouse as a liar? None other than lame-duck Pat McCrory who issued a statement in which he confirmed that indeed the General Assembly was planning to pack the court and that he, heroic Pat McCrory, had stopped them:
“During the past week as the legislature called themselves back into session, I was actively working as your governor to protect the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government .... I also successfully worked to deter any efforts to expand the composition of our Supreme Court."
D'oh! Governor Squishy, you become useful once in a great while!

Red more here:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Trump Says His Administration Has More Room for Billionaires

TRUMP TOWER, Manhattan -- The transition team for President-Elect Donald Trump has announced that it intends to find administration jobs for all 540 American billionaires.

"We're well on our way to that goal," said top Trump advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, "but Mr. Trump has decided that it will make American especially great again if we can get every last one of the billionaires listed by Forbes into our government."

Several billionaires have already signed on to top Cabinet posts. The Commerce, Education, Small Business Administration, and Treasury departments will all be headed by billionaires, as will the Department of the Army and the Council of Economic Advisors, among others.

"I've found in my dealings with the 'one percent' that billionaires like to hang out with other billionaires," said Kushner, "and we certainly intend to make our billionaires feel comfortable in their new surroundings in Washington."

There was some doubt expressed by journalists on last night's Trump Transition Team conference call whether there were enough high-level jobs to attract over 500 billionaires into the Trump administration.

"Oh, we'll have to dip down into the assistant and deputy and assistant-to-the-deputy-assistant levels of government to accommodate everyone," the transition team briefer said on the conference call, "but I think with the extra amenities we're willing to throw in, we'll get billionaires at many levels of government where we haven't seen them before."

"Extra amenities"? The transition team is thinking of adding butlers and personal masseuses at many levels of government service, and apparently the Office of Personnel Management has signed off on that plan. There is also talk of installing "champagne fountains" in many previously spartan offices.

"We do what we can to attract the fattest cats," said the transition team spokesman. The champagne fountains are portable and will not require new wiring or extra plumbing.

"We want our billionaires to feel good about themselves and enjoy their new surroundings," said Donald Trump, reached via Twitter. "In the past, super rich people didn't feel welcome in some offices. Sad."

Monday, December 19, 2016

Dick-Wagging Toward the White House

What we've been through in North Carolina with power-hungry, overreaching Republican lawmakers ... that's what we're about to go through in the nation, with a president and his locker room boys who cannot, will not moderate. They are going to overreach. They are going to live up to their advance billing: arrogant fools who think they're somehow divinely sanctioned.

Trump has continued to tell The Big Lie, that his victory was an unprecedented landslide. Only he spelled it "unpresidented," and when he puts it that way, I'll have to agree.

Franklin Graham underscored the divine thing at the last Trump "thank you" rally in Mobile when he introduced the president-elect: Trump was elected by a spiritual force, Franklin said. “I believe it was God.”

God's taste in billionaire trash is mighty surprising.

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you ... O, forget it! Trump's victory tour has been more of the same hateful scorn directed at his perceived enemies -- the media, CNN in particular, John Kasich, people who didn't vote for him. "Lock her up! Lock her up!" his acid-washed adorers have continued to chant.

Once -- maybe just once -- Trump actually said something factually true at one of those rallies:
“You people were vicious, violent, screaming, ‘Where’s the wall?’ ‘We want the wall!’ Screaming, ‘Prison!’ ‘Prison!’ ‘Lock her up!’ I mean, you were going crazy. You were nasty and mean and vicious.”
Then he immediately reverted to what was demonstrably not true, which is his usual rut:
“Now you’re laid-back, you’re cool, you’re mellow, right?”
No, they're not any of those things. They've taken their seats in the Colosseum and want to see some blood in the sand. They want to see their Sampson slay a thousand Philistines, and he's certainly got the ass's jawbone for it.

He's too vain and petty not to perform for them. He'll go too far. He'll overreach. He'll follow the path of rich-man folly. And suffer the consequences, because that screaming crowd in the Colosseum has no brain and is preternaturally fickle.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

We're Right, They're Wrong, We Will Fight Back

God don't like ugly.

"Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."

Legal challenges to the ugliness wrought by the Republicans in the NC General Assembly this past week are coming. Look for multiple petitions to begin to move in the courts after New Year's.

They know they cannot hold their absolute power without absolute bully tactics. They need secrecy and sudden moves so they can get what they want before the public wakes up. They need to monkey with voting rights -- always! -- because ballot access is where they are most vulnerable. They are dishonest by nature and now by long habit. They scream about the unfairness of what was done to them by Democrats decades ago while doing worse to Democrats. They have no moral compass other than power.

Let's be clear, since there's buffalo dust in the air: The Republican rewrite of boards of elections is all about crippling ballot access. It has nothing to do with "bipartisanship," though that's the dust the Republicans have kicked up. The equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans on all boards of elections are engineered to produce many deadlocks in voting, particularly the selection of Early Voting plans. If no agreement is reached, Early Voting will revert to boards of elections offices only. That's putting the squeeze on ballot access, and it's yet another attempt to tilt Early Voting away from Democrats.

They cannot win without these sorts of shenanigans. They are poltroons, and their multiple treacheries are crystal clear. They depend on the ignorance of the voting public -- or its complacency -- to get them through, and sometimes it does. As obvious as Republican malfeasance in North Carolina has been, it still takes the public a while to catch on.

We're coming for you, NCGOP. You will be exposed. You will lose.

One final thing: Senator Deanna Ballard ... Representative Jonathan Jordan ... can't wait for you two participants to show your faces in Boone!

Friday, December 16, 2016

They Arrested Santa

Today at the General Assembly, Santa being led away by law enforcement. Photo Colin Campbell

Folly That Knoweth Not Tomorrow

Phil Berger and Tim Moore
Thomas Mills has written a good piece on what the NCGOP is currently undertaking in the North Carolina General Assembly (GA) -- another case of "overreach," of which the GA has a long and unhappy history -- unhappy for citizens subjected to unconstitutional measures but also unhappy for the NCGOP, because those measures attrack the disapproval of various judges. Sanctions, economic harm, loss of prestige -- all follow.

"Overreach." Historically, that same habit used to be called just plain "folly."
folly, noun -- criminally or tragically foolish actions or conduct, often repeated despite known negative consequences and the presence of a less foolish alternative.
Thomas Mills: Back in 2013, instead of passing a sensible voter I.D. law that would have protected people’s right to vote while adding scrutiny, the NCGOP passed a sweeping bill that clamped down on access to voting while deliberately targeting African-American voters. The whole bill got tossed by the courts.

Folly is known for its inability to stop repeating a critical error. For the boys in Raleigh, it's always overreach, followed by a good slapping down by the third branch of government.
Mills: They could have easily drawn redistricting maps that would have given them healthy majorities in the legislature and Congress while including a few more competitive districts. Instead, they drew some of the most gerrymandered maps in the country. [Tossed out by the courts. Twice.]
With House Bill 2, they should have let Charlotte handle its own affairs, since the GOP at one time was the party of limited government. Once they called the special session, though, they loaded up the bill with clearly discriminatory measures that affected every county and city in the state. [Not yet tossed by the courts, but challenged.]
With the current special session, the GOP legislature is trying to restrict Cooper’s ability to govern while grabbing as much power as possible. [Will be in the courts as soon as it's passed. Roy Cooper has vowed to sue. And well he should!]
 What causes such folly?

Short answer: An excess of power. That's historical fact, actually. Historically, when a ruler has had too much power -- like, say, one of those popes around the time of Michelangelo -- he believes he can do anything, damn the consequences! But consequences are usually unforeseen and rarely prepared for, and they always come.

Too much power is like too large a sail on too light a boat.

The folly of the corrupt popes of Michelangelo's age brought on the Protestant Reformation. In France, the follies of Louis XIV provoked the French Revolution and the dissolution of the monarchy. The follies of Lyndon Johnson forced him out of running for reelection. You might say the follies of "Four" Eggers led to the recent overthrow of the Watauga County Commission.

There are many such examples.

The NCGOP's current legislative folly is an unprecedented and cynical power grab intended to kneecap the duly elected governor, Roy Cooper. A coup d'etat, it's being called. Will the NCGOP pay for this folly? How?

We hear that the scene in Raleigh at the General Assembly -- hundreds of citizens of all ages expressing their protests and beginning to be arrested in acts of civil disobedience -- has actually rattled at least some Republicans. The level of anger is singeing the paint. Individual members of the GA are feeling a vibe like they've never felt before.

Many of them will presumably be up for reelection in 2017 in the court-mandated special elections in NC House and Senate seats that were ruled unconstitutionally gerrymandered for racial disadvantage. At least 28 House and Senate seats have to be redrawn, meaning abutting districts will also have to be redrawn, and the dominoes will fall from there. May be twice that many seats up for election in 2017. All the seats will be up for election again immediately in 2018.

The stripping of powers from the new governor, the favors done the defeated governor, the monkeying with the courts and the state's boards of elections -- all of them -- all of this overreach is being seen for what it is. The people I know are angrier than I've ever seen them. I'm angry. I want to picket someone's house.

Historically, comeuppance always catches up with the fool eventually.

What's the Most Obnoxious Feature of Senate Bill 4?

Yes. Forgot this part. According to intricate language in the newest elections law rewrite (S 4), which is on its way to passage in Raleigh:

A Republican will lead the state board during election years and a Democrat in nonelection years.

Sounds fair.

Maybe they should just go ahead and decide now by legislative fiat how the votes in the next General Election will turn out.

What Happened Yesterday in Raleigh

(Thanks to Progressive Pulse and the Raleigh News and Observer for reportage)

After kicking the watching public and the press out of its gallery, the NC Senate passed Senate Bill 4 which completely rewrites boards of elections, makes Supreme Court races partisan, slows down the process of challenging this General Assembly for passing unconstitutional legislation, and does several other things. Republicans are bragging that the changes to the boards of elections is "bipartisan," by which they mean "done in secret with no Democratic input." Under S4, the Republican leaders in the General Assembly get to appoint half of a new State Board of Elections. Etc.

S4 went to a House committee last night, where it was quickly approved, and is in another House committee this morning, where ... ditto -- you can bet on it.

The House also cleared the galleries last night and locked the doors and had 17 protesters arrested, including reporter Joe Killian, who refused to leave as a working member of the press.

What's the basic attitude of these Republican lawmakers toward the people thronging the General Assembly in protest? Vicki Boyer, who was standing in a hallway trying to get into a too-small Education Committee room to hear discussion of a completely different bill, got brushed by an arriving lawmaker who snarled, "If you had jobs, you wouldn't have to stand around here."

If we didn't have a coup d'etat under way, we wouldn't have to be standing in a hallway trying to get access to what you people are doing to us in the people's house.

In debate on the floors of the House and the Senate, various Republicans made whining speeches about what Democrats did to them 40 years back. Seriously. That's their excuse for their behavior and for the unprecedented usurpation of power.

After the public and reporters were locked out of the House gallery, that body passed House Bill 17 with 70-36 votes along party lines. The bill strips Governor-elect Roy Cooper’s power, slashing the number of state job positions he can hire or fire from 1,500 to 300, making his cabinet choices subject to NC Senate confirmation, and eliminating his ability to make appointments to university boards of trustees.

Rep. Jeff Collins, Republican from Rocky Mount, said something really funny. He said that he and his fellow GOP had to treat Roy Cooper like an illegal immigrant because the current power balance in state government is “way out of kilter.” BWAhahaha.

“It has all the appearance of a vendetta against a newly elected governor,” commented Rep. Philip Lehman, a Durham Democrat.

Read more here:

Read more here:
They're not just taking power away from Roy Cooper. They're also messing with public education: "The House is expected to take up House Bill 13 on Friday, which would modify the maximum average class size requirements for kindergarten through third grade." Another law would transfer administration of public schools and the state Department of Public Instruction from the State Board of Education to the state schools superintendent, newly elected Republican Mark Johnson.

Read more here:
There are another 20 bills in the hopper, another 20 possibilities for real and lasting mischief. Stand by.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

At This Hour in Raleigh

Posted on the door to the public gallery at the NC Senate, following the ouster of the public along with all the press corps. Banana republic doings, O my brethren!

The public was thrown out, according to a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist who was there, for making hand gestures, not for yelling (they had expressed their displeasure orally before but were quiet at the time of their ouster).

Hand gestures? I got a couple more of them right here with me now. Saving them for Sen. Deanna Ballard (oh, and I'll manufacture new ones for Rep. Jonathan Jordan).

Can't wait for these Members of the Coup to show their faces back in Boone!

Republicans Move To Keep Elections Under Their Control

Forget what was rumored yesterday that was afoot in Raleigh. The bills that were actually filed -- over 20 of them -- contain more mischief than rumor could breed.

See, when McCrory said he was going to call a special session to deal with disaster relief, the Republican honchos said, "Sure, we need an excuse to come to Raleigh." Taking care of the penny-ante disaster relief bill took no time at all, but the Republicans needed to deal with a much greater disaster, the election of Democrat Roy Cooper as governor.

Short version: they're stripping Roy Cooper of executive power, and they're making sure that every board of election in the state will be stalemated. Turns out if you're an effing Republican in the General Assembly, there's more than one way to destroy early voting.

If you can't win an election, you simply overturn the results legislatively. It's the Republican way. Let's go ahead and call it what it is: nullification.

From coverage in the N&O:
Lawmakers want to hobble the incoming Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, before he takes office Jan. 1 by making his Cabinet appointments subject to approval by the state Senate and cutting his ability to appoint members to UNC schools’ boards of trustees and the state Board of Education.
Another proposal in the mix would equally divide election boards between the two major political parties, ending control by the governor’s party.
Yet another provision would cut the number of employees who serve at the governor’s pleasure from 1,500 to 300, reversing an expansion approved for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory at the start of his term.
Here's the text of Senate Bill 4 which contains the changes to boards of elections. Bottomline: a new eight-member board with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, with the Republican leaders in the two houses of the General Assembly getting to appoint as many members as the governor. Local boards of elections also composed of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats for a total of four members.

In other words, we've been under the thumb of Republicans at all levels of voting access in North Carolina for the last four years, and we're going to continue to be under their thumb.

And that, my friends, is how you nullify an election.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Another Damn Power-Grab in Raleigh

Having ended the special session, called to render flood aid to various eastern Carolina localities, the
Tim Moore and Phil Berger
NC General Assembly adjourned and immediately reconvened for yet another special session, which is what the Republican bandits in charge of that place had planned all along.

Unable to win a second term for McCrory, the General Assembly -- principally Phil Berger and Tim Moore, leading their respective houses of the GA -- are now proposing to overturn the results of the election by depriving our new governor of executive power.

Namely, from reports of observers in Raleigh, they are proposing to...

1. Remove Medicaid from control of the governor, moving it under the new Treasurer, who is Republican.

2. Remove the office of human resources from the governor and give it to the lieutenant governor, who is Republican.

3. Remove control of the boards of elections -- all of them -- from the governor and give it to the lieutenant governor.

4. Reclassify approximately 1,000 state jobs from "political" (subject to appointment by the governor) to non-political. These were jobs that had been reclassified "political" for McCrory's benefit when he took office.

5. Give McCrory lifetime coverage under the state health-care plan.

Your usurpers-of-power at work.

Meanwhile, In the Department of Wounded Platypuses

Apparently, The Donald can stand Pat McCrory.

Even with the whining.

This headline in today's News&Observer -- "Pat McCrory ‘definitely’ has place in Trump administration" -- might reassure you of several things at once:

1. The Peter Principle is alive and well in the Trump administration.

2. God takes care of idiots and drunk men.

3. "Failing Upward, Bee-yotches!" will be on his tombstone.

No Hiding Trump's Hostility Toward Government

Okay, we get it, Mr. Trump. You're expressing your perfect contempt for the various departments of government to which you're appointing people with either (a) no qualifications for managing those departments or (b) open hostility toward the departments they are being appointed to manage.

Like this fool.

That's really a funny joke. Hahahahaha. Can't wait to see how it all turns out, if the good people who voted for you will be laughing too.

The scorecard, so far:

Steven Mnuchin at Treasury wants to do away with Dodd-Frank
Andrew Puzder at Labor is a vocal critic of increasing the minimum wage and an opponent of rules that would make more workers eligible for overtime pay
Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency is a primary architect of legal challenges on President Barack Obama’s environmental regulations
Tom Price at the Department of Health and Human Services wants to phase out Medicare
Ben Carson at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who believes that the pyramids were grain storage bins
Jeff Sessions at Justice is no friend of either civil rights or voting rights
Betsy DeVos at the Education Department who intends to cut "the public" out of public education
This bunch has tilted radically to the 1% and decidedly away from "those forgotten people" Trump said he wanted to help. Yeah, these guys are really gonna help!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Dozen Adjectives

You may need these in the year ahead.

unprincipled: not acting in accordance with moral principles 

erratic: unpredictable

bullying: using superior strength or influence to intimidate; to force someone to do what one wants

vulgar: crudely indecent; deficient in taste, delicacy, or refinement; uncouth

bombastic: high-sounding but with little meaning; inflated 

egotistical: excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself; self-centered 

reckless: without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action 

narcissistic: having an excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one's physical appearance

arrogant: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities

shameless: characterized by or showing a lack of shame

heedless: showing a reckless lack of care or attention

privileged: not subject to the usual rules or penalties because of some special circumstance like wealth 

Sunday, December 11, 2016


We've heard it before: he's really proud of his penis.

Moscow on the Potomac, Times Two

The Look of Love: Rex Tillerson with
So word has leaked that after weeks of considering his options, Vladimir Putin has chosen Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as the next Secretary of State.

After economic sanctions were imposed on Russia following its invasion of the Crimea and its "shadow war" in eastern Ukraine, Tillerson spoke up against the sanctions: “We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming with sanctions,” he said. Apparently, sanctions against the aggressor state were harming Exxon in particular.

Well, yes, they were. The sanctions on Russia ended up blocking the implementation of a deal that Tillerson and Putin struck in 2011 which would have given Exxon access to Russia's Arctic oil resources while allowing Russia’s state oil company, OAO Rosneft, to invest in Exxon concessions all over the world. The following year, the Kremlin bestowed the country’s Order of Friendship decoration on Tillerson.

Oh, they're close, Putin and Tillerson.

Tillerson's Exxon stock (he owns $151 million of it) would increase in value when Russia gets its way -- that is, gets those sanctions lifted. Hacking an election and installing your guy as Secretary of State has its profits!

Senator John McCain said yesterday that Tillerson’s ties to Putin were “a matter of concern to me.” “I’d have to examine it,” he said on Fox News, adding that “Vladimir Putin is a thug, bully and a murderer, and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.”

A thug, a bully, and a murderer -- that about sums him up. Putin's also a pussy-grabber. He grabbed Donald Trump a long time ago, but when you're famous and powerful, you get away with shit like that. And he's running the U.S. government now.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

First We Count the Money, and Then We Make the Appointment

Headline of the Day:

Six donors that Trump appointed to cabinet gave almost $12 million to back his campaign

Moscow on the Potomac

Come on, Bubba, didn't we know it all along? American intelligence sources have "high confidence" that Russia was interfering in our election to cripple Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump get to the White House.

Worse, American officials -- including, very likely, Mitch McConnell -- knew it, knew it in spades, and chose to stay quiet about it. James Comey at the FBI decided that inconsequential emails on Anthony Weiner's computer were far more earth-shaking than the subversion of our government by the Russians.

Trump knew it. When he invited the Russians to hack his Democratic opponent's email at that press conference on July 27th, he was projecting what he already knew was going on, because he can't resist bragging and wagging his dick. Ever.

Tell me that ain't treason.

BTW, Trump hasn't had another press conference since.

It's also come to light that the tiger they've bedded down with -- Vladimir Putin -- -- also hacked the National Republican Party and has their shit in his back pocket. High stakes blackmail, should prominent Republicans with embarrassing emails in their past choose at any time in the future to oppose Mr. Putin and his newest butt-buddy, Donald J. Trump, in their world conquest. (FBI Director James Comey, who had a Trump sign in his front yard [see below], was very recently saying that the Russian attempt to hack the Republican Party had been unsuccessful.)

When the CIA's secret conclusion came out yesterday about overt Russian shenanigans undertaken for Trump, the "Trump transition team" (Jared Kushner?) could not resist another big lie while also attacking the intelligence agencies:
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” the statement said. “The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It’s now time to move on and ‘Make America Great Again.’ ”
One of the Biggest Electoral College victories "in history"??? No, not even close. That's total bullshit. Trump took 306 electoral votes, to Hillary's 232. How does his number compare?
Dwight Eisenhower, both elections, 442 electoral votes, 457 electoral votes
Lyndon Johnson (1964), 486 electoral votes
Nixon's reelection (1972), 520 electoral votes
Reagan's first and second elections (1980 and 1984), 489 electoral votes, 525 electoral votes
It is way more than merely a good thing that Mr. Obama has ordered intelligence agencies to assemble a detailed report of “lessons learned” about the Russian hacking before he leaves office on Jan. 20 -- a comprehensive history of the Russian effort to undermine democracy ... so that the truth isn't somehow lost shortly following "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office...."

Cuisine a la Donald

You can't believe anything he says. He's a liar. He's a snake-oil salesman. He exaggerates and then claims he never said any of it.

Last night in Michigan, when another of his idol-worshipping crowds began chanting "Lock her up!" Trump responded, “That plays great before the election — now we don’t care, right?”


Can't wait for him to cave to Paul Ryan on that great promise of his to protect Social Security and Medicare. A new study at Pennsylvania State University has just revealed that Trump did best (as compared to Romney's performance four years ago) in the counties with the highest drug, alcohol, and suicide mortality rates. In other words, the communities that love Trump the most, and invest the most naive trust in his lies, will suffer the most when his gang dismantles the safety net.

He flaunts his corruption (hat tip: JF) and dares anyone to object:
According to the latest Federal Election Commission filings, Trump directed close to $3 million in campaign funds towards Trump-owned properties between Oct. 20 and Nov. 28. Tag Air, Inc., the Trump-owned company that operates his personal jet, raked in $2,055,786 in travel expenses. A small galaxy of Trump-branded properties — various hotels, golf resorts, and restaurants — collected an additional $777,672.83.

I did not order this shit sandwich.

I was with a bunch of people who wanted to try out this new restaurant. They said it was the best; you could get the best food there, and we would really love it. Well, I'd heard it wasn't that great, and I said so, but they all said, no, no, it'll be great! You have to come! So we get to the restaurant and the head waiter, a fat orange guy with a comb-over, hands us menus, and there's prime rib and lobster and all kinds of other enticing dishes, and they're all really cheap! So we all order the prime rib.
Pretty soon the waiter comes back and sets our plates in front of us. And on each plate is a shit sandwich. Nothing else -- not even a pickle or a sprig of parsley. And this one guy in our party, the guy in the red baseball cap who wanted so badly to come to this restaurant, says, Hey, what's this? We ordered the prime rib? And the fat orange waiter just laughs and says, Oh, that's only available in the private dining room upstairs. Everybody else gets shit sandwiches.
So everybody's really pissed and bewildered. I'm pissed too, but I already knew I'd get a shit sandwich, and I said, See, I told you so. Shit sandwiches for everybody!
Knowing that everybody else got one too didn't make mine taste any better.
[Hattip Dick Sloop, who purloined it from the Democratic Underground]

Friday, December 09, 2016

White Working Class: You've Been Conned

Trump told us all during the campaign that he thought American wages were too high:

Now he's acting on that threat by nominating Andrew Puzder to head the Labor Department, a fast-food CEO who is an enemy of raising the minimum wage. Oh, he's all for lowering corporate and wealthy income taxes, but don't ask him for a raise if you work slinging burgers in one of his restaurants.

Puzder and his wife gave a total of $332,000 to get Trump elected.

There's "trickle-down" for you.

Trump Will Continue as a TV Entertainer

So the headline last night, lingering into this morning: "Donald Trump Will Continue Producing 'Celebrity Apprentice.' "

He has no respect for the presidency. He has no respect for the American people. Everything's a con game to him.

He's next going to con the public that he's not going to be involved in his businesses while in the presidency. He's already bragged that there can't be a conflict of interest for the president.

There will be conflicts of interest, plenty of them. He's going to enrich himself every which way from Sunday. The country be damned.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Dear EPA: Here's Your Exploding Cigar

Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma and beloved of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is pretty famous for being a climate change denier.

“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the E.P.A. and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans’ exposures to industrial pollution, and with Pruitt, the president-elect would make good on those threats,” said Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington research and advocacy organization.

“It’s a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile E.P.A. administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history,” he added.

Mr. Pruitt is actually suing the agency he will head, suing over regulations aimed at forcing power plants to significantly reduce their emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution.

Another day, another assault on the public good.

Mammal of the Year

Donald Trump's neediness is embarrassing because it's so revealing of his insecurity. Did his mother not hug him as a child? Did his father not show him any affection?

A year ago when Time magazine picked Angela Merkel as its Person of the Year rather than Donald Trump, Trump tweeted, “I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite. They picked [the] person who is ruining Germany.”

A week later at one of his rallies in Mesa, Arizona, with thousands of the slavish worshipping at his feet, he couldn't resist scratching at that scab:
“I was on their cover four, five weeks ago. They should have picked me for the ‘Person of the Year,’ but they didn’t. No, they should have,” Trump said. “ … I said I’m never going to get it because I’m not establishment. But every panel that I saw on television when Time was — because, you know, it’s sort of cool, even though the magazine’s going down the tubes. No, it’s a cool thing. Most magazines are going down, in all fairness to them. It’s great, isn’t it? To watch these guys go down the tubes? Isn’t it great? I love it.”
Today, having been named Time's Man of the Year for 2016, Trump is presumably thrilled that the magazine is not going down the tubes but rather shooting for the stars because it's got Trump on its cover:
“It's a great honor,” the president-elect said on NBC's “Today” show on Wednesday morning. “It means a lot, especially me growing up reading Time magazine. And it's a very important magazine, and I've been lucky enough to be on the cover many times this year — and last year. But I consider this a very, very great honor.”
Since he launched his campaign for the presidency, Trump's been on the cover of many magazines. According to Jenna Johnson, "Trump keeps stacks of these magazines in his office and jokes that he doesn’t have time to read all of them because there are so many. He has said that he’s like a 'supermodel, except, like, times 10.' ”

Trump's obsessive preoccupation with himself and whether everybody is looking at him enough -- the tally on how many times his picture is on the cover of a magazine may be the least of it -- and the ample documentation that he does not or cannot govern his impulses -- all this suggests that he is possessed by delusions of personal greatness, which is compensating for a deep-seated feeling of worthlessness.

No matter how much you folks adore him, it will never fill the hole in his heart.