52 thoughts on “Ideas, Anyone?”

  1. here’s one reported by the daily beast:  

    John Oliver Blasts Fox News Host for Downplaying Possible War With Iran: ‘Breathtakingly Stupid’

    Oliver also gave backhanded compliments to Tucker Carlson for taking time away from “perfecting the art of racist befuddlement.”

    HBO’s John Oliver took aim at Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld on Sunday night, blasting the co-host of The Five for downplaying the human cost of a potential war with Iran as “just a video game.”

    Opening his broadcast of Last Week Tonight, Oliver noted President Trump nearly “brought us on the brink of war” after Iran downed an unmanned American drone. After pointing out that Trump had a last-minute change of heart and canceled a military strike, the comedian said Trump had found himself stuck between “warring factions” in both his administration and his favorite news network when deciding whether to attack Iran.

    “Some anchors were very pro-war, like Sean Hannity, while Greg Gutfeld had an interesting theory as to why war with Iran would be virtually painless,” Oliver said, playing a clip of Gutfeld dismissing concerns about war.

    “We are now in a time where it doesn’t matter how large your population is because the population is no longer expendable in war,” the Fox News personality said last week. “It’s now about the machines that you have. Drones are now replacing bones, so it will be stuff versus stuff, and fortunately for us, we have the best stuff.”

    Oliver, meanwhile, was far from impressed with Gutfeld’s reasoning.

    “That is breathtakingly stupid,” the HBO star said. “If someone said that to me at a dinner party, my response would be, ‘Excuse me, this child is drunk. someone gave him wine—I don’t know who—but he’s ranting like a lunatic about how war is all stuff versus stuff now. He needs to be put to bed.’”

    Oliver pointed out that on the other side of the issue, Fox News host Tucker Carlson had taken “time away from perfecting the art of racist befuddlement” to privately advise the president not to respond to Iran’s recent provocations with force.

    “So the voice of reason here was a man who wore a bow tie well into his 40s despite being as not in the Nation of Islam as a person could possibly be,” he added.


  2. axios:  Exclusive: Leaked Trump vetting docs

    Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents leaked to “Axios on HBO” identify a host of “red flags” about officials who went on to get some of the most powerful jobs in the U.S. government. 

    Why it matters: The massive trove, and the story behind it, sheds light on the slap-dash way President Trump filled his cabinet and administration, and foreshadowed future scandals that beset his government.

    Some highlights:

    • Scott Pruitt, who ultimately lost his job as EPA Administrator because of serial ethical abuses and clubbiness with lobbyists, had a section in his vetting form titled “allegations of coziness with big energy companies.”
    • Tom Price, who ultimately resigned as Health and Human Services Secretary after Trump lost confidence in him in part for stories about his use of chartered flights, had sections in his dossier flagging “criticisms of management ability” and “Dysfunction And Division Has Haunted Price’s Leadership Of The House Budget Committee.”
    • Mick Mulvaney, who became Trump’s Budget Director and is now his acting chief of staff, has a striking assortment of “red flags,” including his assessment that Trump “is not a very good person.”
    • The Trump transition team was so worried about Rudy Giuliani, in line for Secretary of State, that they created a separate 25-page document titled “Rudy Giuliani Business Ties Research Dossier” with copious accounting of his “foreign entanglements.”
    • One red flag for Gen. David Petraeus, who was under consideration for Secretary of State and National Security Adviser: “Petraeus Is Opposed to Torture.”

    Behind the scenes: In the chaotic weeks after Trump’s surprise election victory, Trump fired Chris Christie as the head of his transition. The team that took over — which V.P. Mike Pence helmed — outsourced the political vetting of would-be top officials to the Republican National Committee.

    • We obtained the political vetting forms that Trump and his senior aides were given for Ben Carson, Dan Coats, Betsy DeVos, Gary Cohn, Don McGahn, Elaine Chao, John Kelly, James Mattis, John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, Nikki Haley, Rex Tillerson, Rick Perry, Robert Lighthizer, Ryan Zinke, Scott Pruitt, and many others.
    • President-elect Trump reviewed many of these documents at Trump Tower and Bedminster before his interviews, according to a source who saw him eyeball them.
    • Traditionally, any would-be top official faces three types of vetting: an FBI background check, a scrub for financial conflicts of interest from the Office of Government Ethics, and a deep dive from the president-elect’s political team, which veteran Washington lawyers often handle.
    • We obtained many of the political vetting forms. According to sources on the RNC vetting team, senior Trump officials asked them to do an initial “scrub” of the public record before Trump met the contenders. But in many cases — for example the misguided choice of Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary — this RNC “scrub” of public sources was the only substantial vetting in Trump’s possession when he announced his picks.
    • The documents show what Trump’s vetting shop worried about in assessing candidates for the most important jobs in government.



  3. I saw Oliver last night and really thought the first half of the show was an excellent analysis/take down of SFB and his admin’s cluelessness.  I am of the opinion that because of the latest accusations against him and the polling that shows him having  a difficult time against almost every Dem challenger he is throwing anything he can think of against the wall and hoping any of it sticks.  I was also interested in the last half of the show, which focused on the issues surrounding tourism trips to the summit of Everest.  A couple of my Outward Bound colleagues set up a company doing trekking trips in Nepal, and since one of them was a technical climber/mountaineer I always figured they would expand their menu board to include Everest (or K2 or Annapurna) summit trips if they could get the permits.  No idea whether they ever did that.

  4. last week’s Clyburn fish fry in SC and the upcoming “debates” this week are reminding me of the old Miss America format with 25 competing beauties in the dem race.   1st we had the swim suit display, now we’ll watch the evening gown walk thru, then will be the talent contest followed by inane questions and usual “world peace” answers to establish the semi-finals.

  5. Jack… thanks for that jazz piece yesterday.

    This morning at breakfast Rick said he wanted to go see a play at our local playhouse on Wednesday night.  I said after waiting in anticipation for months for the first Dem debate…   no way!  He forgot about the debates and understood.  We’ve decided to go to a play later in mid-July.  In the meantime, I’m going to a play about Gertrude Stein in Paris on July 5th with a girlfriend.  I so love live theatre.

  6. I had the Columbia happening as broadcast by MSNBC on all day during its active period. I thought it was fascinating. It has provided candidates an opportunity to self-eliminate in a non-punitive format. Or to introduce themselves as candidates for alternative positions in the winner’s power circle. And, it was good, healthy, fun.

  7. and to make it worse, the twit will be tweeting during the shows trying to catch participants in embarrassing situations just like he did walking in on his miss universe contestants while they were dressing.

  8. Pat, if SFB tweets in, I hope he is confronted by male candidates with balls, and women candidates that aim for creep-balls.

  9. Craig, I can’t get over his serial plagiarism and that wasn’t even mentioned. I will not support his candidacy.

  10. Poobah, the short answer is “No.”  Clyburn and Lewis both said they didn’t think what he said was objectionable.  I would agree with them.  OK, he did use extreme racists from the 60s and 70s as examples of people he disagreed with but was able to work with in the Congress, and his explanation has been less than fulsome, but the criticism is over the top.

  11. has anyone tho’t about the possibility that Russia is once again stirring the pot?  remember the indictment charge of them setting up phony black activism marches and creating multiple facebook personas fomenting  racial trouble during the 2016 election.   why wouldn’t they be doing it now?

    worked somewhat for them last time by suppressing some of the vote in the black community.

  12. last dec. in wired:   Targeting Black Americans, Russia’s IRA Exploited Racial Wounds

    Two days before the 2016 presidential election, @woke_blacks posted an anti-voting polemic to its Instagram account. “The excuse that a lost Black vote for Hillary is a Trump win is bs. Should you decide to sit-out the election, well done for the boycott,” the caption read. “I remind us all one more time, anyone who wins can literally change less about the state of Black people, we are on our own, esp. after Obama. Wise up my people!” Another user, @afrokingdom_, shared a comparable sentiment: “Black people are smart enough to understand that Hillary doesn’t deserve our votes! DON’T VOTE!”

    According to a new report commissioned for the Senate Intelligence Committee by cybersecurity firm New Knowledge, those accounts, along with dozens more, were part of an extensive and complex campaign to suppress the black American vote by the Russian firm Internet Research Agency.

    In late 2017, it was first reported by CNN that the pro-Kremlin enterprise masterminded a plot to infiltrate online communities of the Black Lives Matter movement. But New Knowledge’s report, released Monday, shows a much more sustained and purposeful focus on black Americans—as the IRA went about instigating mistrust in law enforcement and political institutions, while cultivating seemingly authentic narratives of black pride.

    The report details how black Americans were among the most exploited online communities by the IRA, cataloging how the Russian firm developed an “expansive cross-platform media mirage” that specifically targeted black people by leveraging popular social media sites. The campaign was “designed to exploit societal fractures” and “erode our trust in media entities and the information environment, in government, in each other, and in democracy itself,” the report states. “This campaign pursued all of those objectives with innovative skill, scope, and  precision.”

    The 100-page report is based on data sets provided to the Senate by Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet, comprising tens of thousands of posts between 2015 and 2017. In addition to social media sites, the IRA’s vast and varied disinformation campaign played out across issue-specific domains that they bought such as blackmattersus.com, black4black.info, and blacksoul.us—“a complex effort” to manipulate public opinion with the intention of siphoning votes from Hillary Clinton to help elect Donald Trump. The black community, often a reliably strong voting bloc for Democrats, was a substantial target.

    Spread among Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, Twitter accounts, and YouTube channels, the IRA’s tactics ranged from ad targeting, meme warfare, video manipulation, and the creation of sham account profiles. As my WIRED colleagues point out, much of this content was designed to encourage a lack of faith among black Americans in democratic institutions and decelerate black turnout for Clinton. “As the election became imminent,” the New Knowledge report says, “those themes were then tied into several varieties of voter suppression narratives: don’t vote, stay home, this country is not for Black people, these candidates don’t care about Black people.” (A second report, also produced for the Senate, by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika comes to similar conclusions about the IRA’s work, according to the Washington Post.)


    In the end, the IRA went to great lengths to siphon power from black voters, with a mixed-media, cross-platform strategy that researchers are still working to fully understand. And despite efforts by Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet, and other companies to eradicate such content from their platforms, distortion tactics by the IRA persist today. “The narratives,” the researchers write, “just evolved.”

  13. Biden’s problems are problems he has created for himself — by drawing attention to his past

    He collaborated with them
    “He was a liberal on most civil rights issues, but he was also a leading opponent of integrating schools through busing from the 1970s to 1980s, though his efforts largely failed.

    In 1975, Mr. Biden supported a sweeping antibusing measure offered by Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, a conservative who opposed civil rights, and also offered his own less stringent antibusing amendment to an appropriations bill.”

  14. Poobah,  Joe also “plagiarized” something in a law school paper – by failing to properly cite to the source.  I understand he had to retake the class.  To my knowledge – those are the only 2 incidents of “plagiarism” by Joe.  With respect to the British politician’s words – he had previously (and likely after) attributed the politician’s words to the politician.  I’m with you – it wasn’t the big deal that’s been made of it.  Plus, it all happened when he still had hair.

  15. Now that I’ve more fully reviewed Biden’s situation think it’s time for him to do a round of mainstream  one-on-one interviews stepping on the debates this week.

  16. I believe we can find a front runner without said defect. FWIW my antipathy to Biden in no way means that SFB has earned my support.

  17. I’m with Pogo on Biden…  way too much made of stuff from long ago.  But now he has to proof that he can handle it if he’s to become the Dem nominee going up against trumpty dumpty.  BTW, I’m still leaning toward Harris for the NH primary.

  18. On the issues (.org) – now a part of Snopes – did a summary of Biden’s positions over the years on various civil rights issues.  His stance on busing is more nuanced than is being represented – he supported it to overcome segregation in the South but didn’t agree with it is a way to address the problem as a result of white flight in the north.   Looking at his positions it is pretty clear to me that he evolved over time on the larger issues – gay marriage for example – like just about any _________-leaning politician (left-leaning in Joe’s case) with 40+ years of service would as the society and what is considered acceptable/not acceptable would.  If asked about gay marriage 30 years ago I might have given a different answer than I do now – but I never would have said that it was acceptable to deny rights to people because they were gay.  Joe’s now having to fight a 3 front war – one against the top candidates for the nomination, one against the purity police attacking his evolving positions over the years and a third against his sometimes inartful choice of words to defend his positions and prior positions.

  19. Just say no to Joe
    All his positions are “nuanced”   I certainly don’t want him as my chief negotiator  it’s hard to tell where his nuanced positions would lead us

  20. I have Jon Meacham’s The Soul of America on the table next to me. Leafing through it I was surprised that the entire text, including the 17-page conclusion is only 272-pages in length. That sub-total doesn’t include the author’s personal note and acknowledgements to the works of others. These acknowledgements are painstaking taking-up 104-pages with thousands of entries. I don’t know if it’s Meacham’s training as an Episcopal Priest that compels him to such encyclopedic detail, I, for one, am certainly impressed.

  21. It’s not as if drunken Biden sexually assaulted a woman at a party in Virginia all those many years ago. (kavanaugh)
    It’s not as if Biden raped a woman in a clothing store in the ’90s. (trump)

    Low enough bar for you folks ?

  22. Let’s let the rip up licanthropes tear into Biden, so that the Biden supporters stay in the game and are motivated to aid the eventual anti-trump candidate. 

  23. jared’s alleged peace plan aka the election campaign & Nobel Prize gambit amounts to less than $10,000.oo of possible value/acre of what is now Israel.
    Seen another way, the trump campaign ‘peace plan’ offers less than $4,000.oo of possible incentive/per Palestinian to abandon their homeland. 

  24. Hey, XR, I view repeated plagiarism, even after a period of decades, as being a disqualifying character defect that I don’t want in my elected officials. And, I was discomfited by his withdrawal due to the grievous loss of his son. How would he handle the inevitable loss of people he ordered into battle? I will not vote for him; I am not condemning him to Devil’s Island.  

  25. My only complaint against Biden is that he bores me.  Compared to what we have currently, that is practically evidence of sainthood.

    The one who came off badly this weekend was Mayor Pete.  On the plus side he remained calm in the face of seeming hysteria from the audience.  On the minus side, he showed that he couldn’t run a medium sized city properly so how can he run a Presidency.


  26. Jamie, too bad mayor pete hasn’t  run the city in to bankruptcy a few times.  seems to be the current qualifier for winning presidency.  that and feeling up ladies against their will.    

  27. Administration announces children have been moved from Concentration Cages to Concentration Tents … In Texas 90+ degree heat.

  28. Mr Flatus, I understand and have no quarrel with you about Biden. If Biden falls, and I think he will, I want his supporters to be angry w/the repubs, not at other Dems. Biden sucks nourishment away from Klobuchar.

  29. Amy is still my first choice but Elizabeth Warren could earn a place in my heart.

  30. A Biden meltdown will help Warren somewhat. But, Amy is more the ethnic blue collar type than Warren is. Both have Midwestern accents. Bullock could also catch a lot of Biden votes. 

  31. I’m still on the Amy bandwagon, but have a good back up list with Harris, Warren, Castro, and Booker all of whom would be good for VP or Cabinet.  



  32. Pat
    I you’ve got one in the inbox, I found I had something to say. Hope it is not too hot.

  33. It is way too early to fall in love with anybody. Soon enough somebody will take a few of the VP seekers aside and say “enough, your new route to the presidency is if Biden or Bernie is nominated and you get picked for VP. Then you are a shoe in.

  34. I saw an interesting poll on twitter the other day. 2 of their questions, among many, Who do you want to win the nomination and who do you want to drop out. If I read the barchart right more people wanted Bernie to dropout. Bernie is fading, now Biden’s gaff machine is reminding moderates why late night comics love Biden. There is a reason his nick name is Uncle Joe.

  35. Well  I see George Conway just wrote an op-ed that give Trump tons of cover for the rape allegation. “Clinton did it too” and all the world will nod and say, That’s true!
    And some of you think he is on your side.

  36. When looking at the Social Security actuarial tables one can see that Biden has good odds to run in 2020.  And if he won, he probably can to the first year.  After that it gets murky.

    76 age
    0.039588 years left


  37. This is a great time to pick a candidate and fight for them.  So you don’t win.   AT least you went for want you want and didn’t settle for someone’s elses pick

  38. BB, I had trouble understanding your numbers.
    So I went to these guys and they have a nifty little gadget to calculate the odds of your survival.
    I put him at average health because he is looking a little frail.
    According to them he has a 75% chance of living another 6 years. that would let him survive the first term. 
    A 1 in 4 chance of winning the lottery might make some of the obvious losers jump on the Binden bandwagon with both feet

  39. jack, it’s published. I jumped the gun on fearless leader because your message was so  important to be said and read before we forget and go on to the next atrocity of this administration.



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