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Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Sunday, September 24, 2017

 
79% of Republicans think Trump is taking the country in the right direction

by digby



.... but everyone hates the GOP congress:

Fewer than three in 10 Americans -- 29% -- hold a favorable view of the Republican Party according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. That is down 13 percentage points from March and is the lowest mark for the GOP since CNN began asking the question in 1992.

The previous low point for the GOP was 30% -- hit twice -- in October 2013 following the federal government shutdown over President Barack Obama's health care law, and December 1998, in the wake of the House of Representatives approving two articles of impeachment against
then President Bill Clinton.

Why should they care? They still get elected. And if they can't quite get enough votes they cheat. It's been working for them quite well.

meanwhile, they have a strong vision for the future:

Republicans are signaling they prefer President Donald Trump's vision for the party, with 79% saying he is taking it in the right direction. A majority of GOP voters -- 53% -- believe Republican leaders in Congress are taking the party in the wrong direction.

Apparently Republicans want war --- a race war at home and a nuclear war with North Korea. The latter will make the former unnecessary but they obviously want to make sure we have a backup.


This is bad, folks. It's not a joke. The opposition needs to focus on the clear and present danger we face. But they won't:

Going forward, 74% of Democrats say the party should mainly work with Republicans to try to get some of the party's ideas into law while 23% say the party should mostly work to stop the GOP agenda.
Democrats will get a couple of crumbs, make Trump more popular and ensure his re-election and the GOP congrss will get 90% of what they want if Democrats do this. 

Saving the DREAMers and Obamacare funding are the only issues where they should work with the Republicans in congress. No more helping them with tough votes to make Trump look good. It's not helping. 


.
 
Trump's history as a football team owner

by digby
























I had only known some of the details about his football league con until I read this Esquire story. Naturally, he bankrupted others and barely escaped with his own skin:
Before barreling through what he dismisses as his loser, low-energy, blood-coming-out-of-their-whatever opposition and shaking up politics as usual, Donald Trump was trying to shake the high holy shit out of professional football. He was just 37—a budding rogue rich guy with flyaway sandy (not yet orange) hair and a trophy first wife named Ivana. He'd just built a 68-story glass tower in the middle of Manhattan and, to make sure people noticed, put his name on it. In bronze. He'd soon open his first Atlantic City casino, slapping his name on that, too. Even back then, Trump wanted what he still wants most: more.

So in 1983 he bought a football team, joining a confederacy of other rich rogues who had just completed their first season of the United States Football League. The business plan: compete with the NFL—sport's one true, grim superpower, whom USFL owners mocked as the No Fun League—but not directly against it. The twelve-team USFL played its games in the spring, encouraged excessive end zone celebrations (the NFL penalized them), and allowed both replay challenges and two-point conversions after touchdowns (the NFL still didn't permit either). Games were televised on ABC and an upstart cable channel called ESPN.

Trump purchased the New Jersey Generals from J. Walter Duncan, a laidback Oklahoma oil tycoon who got homesick travelling each weekend to watch his team play ("You weren't going to outsmart him," one observer said of Duncan. "But you might be able to out-talk him"). With Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker already in the backfield, the Generals had been the league's flagship underachiever. They won just six games against opponents that stretched from Tampa Bay (whose halftime promotions included seven-car giveaways and the burning of mortgages) to Birmingham to Los Angeles, where the league eventually took over a team almost nobody came to watch. By the next season, when Trump bought in, the league swelled to eighteen cities—a money grab by owners to collect millions in franchise fees and soften their growing losses.

The Generals' fortunes rose instantly, but the league's did not. The USFL collapsed after just three seasons. Yet its Trumpian storyline hews eerily close to today's. The Donald made a media-inhaling, savior-is-born entrance; surged beyond expectations; then went all in on his attempt to upend the entrenched NFL by pushing his fellow owners to move games to the fall in hopes of inciting a merger. The bet brought the league, already in failing health, crashing down. Critics blame Trump's hubris. Haters wait for a similar last act in the upcoming Republican primaries.

"You can cut and paste the USFL and the GOP and it's the same damn story," says Charley Steiner, radio voice of the Generals and now play-by-play man for the Los Angeles Dodgers. "It's all about him and the brand and moving on to the next thing if it doesn't work out."

Read the whole thing. He pretty much destroyed the whole league. Now he's using that unique talent to destroy the whole country.


.
 
Can you see what's wrong with this picture?

by digby





Here's the treasury secretary talking about the NFL players protest:



"They can't do free speech on their own time."  See, you shouldn't be able to say whatever you want on the job.

Then:





He's special.

.

 
The first team to take the knee together

by digby

.... were these professional athletes:

Back in 2016, the Indiana Fever






More to come...



.
 

Built to #Resist

by Tom Sullivan

Maybe our reality star president is a shot in the arm of our democracy, argue E.J. Dionne Jr., Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein in the Washington Post. For all the shots you've needed since November 8th, l’chaim.

Okay, maybe his election wasn't the best thing for our democracy. His lack of regard for political norms has him threatening to use nuclear weapons to preemptively wipe a rogue nation off the map in a way that turns "rogue nation" on its head. His erratic behavior has, the trio write, "weakened our standing in the world and deepened the divisions of an already sharply torn nation." The president is doing a heckuva a job in the Michael Brown sense.

But the first reality-show presidency has produced some soul searching among Republicans whose cynical undermining of trust in government over the decades, and deepening radicalization has produced "the least-qualified and least-appropriate president in the nation’s history." So far, that soul searching, in the salons where it exists, has not produced a conservative countermovement to Trumpism. It will take more than a few George Wills and William Kristols, with their own baggage, to undo what the movement's appeals to xenophobia and nativism have endeavored so long to build. No Republican Colonel Nicholsons are going to fall onto the detonator.

Yet the president's abrogation of every norm has awakened an appreciation for how they are the keel and rudder for guiding a democracy. Not only among corporate leaders and the media, but on the left. The trio write:

The need to contain Trump has given life to new forms of organization. People of faith, across traditions, have stood up for the most vulnerable in confronting measures that have targeted immigrants and sought to roll back social protections. Lawyers have organized to combat the president’s travel bans, to protect the rights of undocumented individuals and to challenge Trump’s financial conflicts of interest. Public interest groups such as the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Project on Government Oversight have expanded their efforts on behalf of political reform, forging new alliances to fight the influence of big money in politics, protect voting rights, end gerrymandering, strengthen anti-corruption statutes and challenge the electoral college.

Will these initiatives lead to a sustained, long-term project? Will they build a new politics that acts as a counter to Trumpism and survives beyond his time in office? The evidence is promising.

Many of the new groups are developing models of citizen activism designed to promote lasting engagement. The largest of these, Indivisible, started as an online guide to political advocacy from former congressional staffers, but it amassed several thousand local chapters across the country with astonishing speed, assisted by full-time organizing staff. While Indivisible chapters do take action to resist Trump’s agenda at the national level, they emphasize advocacy in their states and counties. Although Trump is doing great damage through and to the federal government, the decay in our civic culture and institutions must be addressed from the bottom up.

Swing Left, another group formed in the aftermath of the 2016 election, is helping to connect progressives living in comfortably blue districts with opportunities to support Democratic congressional candidates in nearby swing districts. And #KnockEveryDoor is recruiting and training volunteers to canvass in their communities with the goal of promoting progressive policies by engaging voters in civil conversations — imagine that! — about the issues that matter most to them.
On that note, Insightus and Daily Kos sponsored the Data & Democracy Conference yesterday in Durham, NC. The conference brought together organizers focused on using data analysis for engaging voters and fighting vote suppression. Founded by Bill Busa (DocDawg at DKos), Insightus has been instrumental in providing data analysis in support of lawsuits brought to fight vote suppression and to uncover inequities in administration of voting in North Carolina.

Andrea Stein and Becca Zerkin formed Neighbors on Call in Chapel Hill, NC after the 2016 election. The group aims not to pursue its own agenda, but to build a willing pool of volunteers ready to dispatch in aid of any local campaign or progressive nonprofit that needs foot soldiers. Breaking the GOP supermajorities in the NC legislature is a primary focus. They've already grown so large that their current challenge is spinning off new chapters.

The most surprising presentation came from B Cordelia Yu of RagTag.org, a distributed team of over 200 technology volunteers who build or adapt tech tools, help candidates build websites, or otherwise solve tech problems for progressive activists. With the flood of new orgs out there issuing calls to action, just one of their tools gives the flavor of how RagTag means to help:
Through the CTA Aggregator, anyone who wants to focus on inspiring meaningful activism, rather than building software, will be able to focus on their strengths rather than having to own their full “stack”. Likewise, it will serve as a backend to websites and other mobile apps, permitting them access to a broad range of actions to take. CTA Aggregator has three components: a database of actions, a data entry layer with a scraping toolkit, and a data API. Ragtag has partnered with a number of organizations and is actively soliciting other partners to contribute and distribute timely call-to-action data.
I've never seen anything like it. Still, I'd trade it all for a Democratic Congress and White House. They're working on it.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

 
I don’t feel tardy: A back-to-school mixtape

By Dennis Hartley 
















Pfft. Wow. That was a quick friggin’ summer.

As great poets have said…autumn is over the long leaves that love us, yesterday is dead (but not in my memory), and it’s late September and I really should be back at school

Well, not literally (I’m a little old for home room)…but my school days of yesteryear are not necessarily dead in my memory. Some habits die hard. As I prefaced in a 2010 post:

It’s a funny thing. I know that this is supremely silly (I’m over 50, fergawdsake)-but as soon as September rolls around and retailers start touting their “back to school” sales, I still get that familiar twinge of dread. How do I best describe it? It’s a vague sensation of social anxiety, coupled with a melancholy resignation to the fact that from now until next June, I have to go to bed early. BTW, now that I’m allowed to stay up with the grownups, why do I drift off in my chair at 8pm every night? It’s another one of life’s cruel ironies.

So here’s a back-to-school playlist that doesn’t include “The Wall” or “School’s Out” (don’t worry, you’ll get over it). Pencils down, pass your papers forward, and listen up…

“Alma Mater” – Alice Cooper


“At 17” – Janis Ian



“Cinnamon Street” – Roxette



“ELO Kiddies” – Cheap Trick




“Me &Julio Down by the Schoolyard” – Paul Simon



“My Old School” – Steely Dan

=
“Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” – The Ramones





“School” – Roger Hodgson



“School Days” – Chuck Berry




“Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room” – Brownsville Station




“Status Back Baby” – Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention




“Teacher Teacher” – Rockpile




“Thirteen” – Big Star


“To Sir, With Love” – Lulu




“Wind-up” – Jethro Tull




Previous posts with related themes:







--Dennis Hartley

 
QOTD: Congressman Mike Quigley

by digby


Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee:


"I was old enough to understand — and watch — Watergate," he said. "This is so much more important. Because I believe that if you had seen what I have seen, you'd want me to go full throttle. Anything that makes the analysis of this by Congress, or any other investigators, inconsistent in any way ... reduces how important this is."


I guess the Republicans covering for Trump figure that even if Mueller proves that he was working on behalf of the Russian government he's worth protecting. Honestly, that surprises even me and I'm as cynical about Republicans as you can get.

Here's the whole talk if you want to hear it. It's quite interesting.






 
Reminder about Trump's eugenics beliefs

by digby






Just in case anyone's wondering why he can't stop dividing the country with racist rants like last night's gross comments in Alabama stoking his white supremacist base:



LA Times: For months the political press has been grappling with the greased-pig problem that is Donald Trump, trying to pin down the Republican front-runner as he defies establishment expectations and rejects basic standards of decorum. Much of the time I devoted to my Trump biography was consumed with the same activity: I spent countless hours fact-checking the torrent of slippery claims he made during our interviews. Even more difficult was divining the source of his sense of entitlement.

As campaign reporters are now coming to realize, Trump is not concerned with anyone's dignity, even his own, and will readily deploy lies and distortions when they serve as applause lines. None of the Trump claims checked by Politifact has turned out to be absolutely true by its standards, while 30 have been judged false or, worse, “pants on fire” statements. Yet Trump refuses to correct himself and, instead, ups the ante. Recently he tweeted race-baiting false statistics that appeared to have originated from a neo-Nazi source.

Like history's monarchs, Trump believes that the qualities that make him successful are in-born.

Some who try to understand why Trump would do such things might wonder if he's a deeply wounded, insecure soul compensating with narcissistic bluster. This diagnosis doesn't fit the Trump who answered my questions for many hours, nor does it match the conclusion reached by his second wife, Marla Maples. “He's a king,” said Maples when I interviewed her. “I mean truly. He is. He's a king. He really is a ruler of the world, as he sees it.”

Maples suspects that Trump was a royal figure in some past life. More likely he acquired his reverse noblesse oblige by training from his father who, according to Trump biographer Harry Hurt III, raised young Donald to become “a killer” and told him “you are king.” His mother was so enchanted by royalty that Trump keenly remembers the hours she spent watching the TV broadcast of Queen Elizabeth's coronation.

His sense of entitlement has been affirmed throughout his life. In 1987, at a party marking the publication of Trump's book “The Art of the Deal,” boxing promoter Don King turned to the crowd and proclaimed the arrival of Trump and his then-wife Ivana by saying, “Here's the king and the queen!” A few years later, when he appeared at an event at one of his Atlantic City casinos, an announcer bellowed, “Let's hear it for the king!” — and Trump burst through a large paper screen. When he visited the humble village of his Scottish ancestors he told his relatives that because of his TV show “The Apprentice,” he was American royalty. “If you get ratings, you're king, like me. I'm a king. If you don't get ratings, you're thrown off the air like a dog.”

Like history's monarchs, Trump believes that the qualities that make him successful are in-born. He once said he possesses a genetic “gift” for real estate development.

“I'm a big believer in natural ability,” Trump told me during a discussion about his leadership traits, which he said came from a natural sense of how human relations work. “If Obama had that psychology, Putin wouldn't be eating his lunch. He doesn't have that psychology and he never will because it's not in his DNA.” Later in this discussion, Trump said: “I believe in being prepared and all that stuff. But in many respects, the most important thing is an innate ability.”

Perhaps Trump's conviction that DNA — not life experience — is everything explains why he proudly claims that he's “basically the same” today as when he was a boy. “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I'm basically the same,” he said. “The temperament is not that different.”

Academic research popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2002 essay “The Talent Myth” demonstrates that achievement depends more on dedication and experience than in-bred ability. But this message is lost on many well-to-do Americans who, researchers have found, believe their wealth affirms their innate superiority. The better-off are also more inclined to believe that “people get what they are entitled to have.”

Trump has handed down his sense of entitlement to the next generation. His son Donald Jr. told me: “Like him, I'm a big believer in race-horse theory. He's an incredibly accomplished guy, my mother's incredibly accomplished, she's an Olympian, so I'd like to believe genetically I'm predisposed to [be] better than average.”

The notion that Donald Jr.'s mother, Ivana Trump, was an Olympic skier in 1972 persists even though her country, Czechoslovakia, fielded no team. Her son not only believes the tall tale, he's convinced that it affirms his own superiority. “I'm in the high percentile on the bell curve,” he said. He then added that his father's abilities are even greater. “That's what separates him from everyone I know.”

The racehorse theory of human development explains Trump's belief in his suitability for political leadership, despite the fact that he has never held office. He's absolutely convinced that America's problems will be solved by his God-given management skills, bankruptcies notwithstanding. You are either born with superior qualities — the right DNA — or you are not. And people get what they deserve. In his case, that includes the White House.

Why anyone would think he's a white supremacist is beyond me.

.

 
Trump is keeping hope alive

by digby




Last night. Again:

“We have a Supreme Court justice, Judge [Neil M.] Gorsuch, who will save — how about a thing called your Second Amendment,” the president said. “Right? Okay, remember that? If Crooked Hillary got elected, you would not have a Second Amendment, believe me. You’d be handing in your rifles. You’d be saying: ‘Here, here they are.’ ”

The president then stepped away from the lectern to act out how his supporters would have handed over their rifles to Democrat Hillary Clinton, who never called for rounding up all of the rifles in the country. Trump smirked and shrugged as the crowd started to chant: “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!” A small group of young men sitting close to the stage, dressed in blazers and red campaign hats, kept the beat by pumping their fists into the air.

“You gotta speak to Jeff Sessions about that,” Trump said.

Chuck Grassley is on it too:

When Sen. Charles E. Grassley announced that the Judiciary Committee wouldn’t make time to consider a replacement attorney general this year, he seemed to establish himself as a firewall between President Trump and the Russia probes the president has long sought to dismantle.

But the Iowa Republican’s continuing efforts to focus attention on Hillary Clinton’s emails, her family’s foundation and allegations that Democrats colluded with foreign governments suggest something else: that Grassley is also playing the part of partisan Republican, protecting the president he is also investigating.

He considers Clinton's emails and the Russia probe as part of one investigation into the FBI failing to do its job. Isn't that convenient?

.



 
Just in case you missed it

by digby





























Your president, ladies and gentlemen in all his glory. A real piece of work:




The NFL was not amused
President Donald Trump came under harsh criticism Saturday from the NFL and some of the NBA's top players after he blasted prominent athletes for kneeling during the national anthem, putting himself in the center of a controversy with significant racial and cultural undertones.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell slammed Trump in a statement Saturday morning, calling the President "divisive" for remarks he made at a rally in Alabama Friday night, while one of the most famous athletes in the world, LeBron James, called Trump a "bum" for a Saturday morning tweet aimed at the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry.

Trump's tweets and harsh reaction highlight an extraordinary moment -- the President, NFL commissioner and a top basketball player embroiled in a public fight over unity and patriotism.

Goodell said Trump's criticism of NFL players kneeling in protest during the National Anthem show a "lack of respect" for the league and its players.

"The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture," Goodell said in the statement.

"There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."

At a rally for Alabama Republican Sen. Luther Strange, Trump said team owners should fire players for taking a knee during the national anthem. He added that if fans would "leave the stadium" when players kneel in protest during the national anthem, "I guarantee, things will stop."

The WH says it also rescinded its invitation to the Warriors:

NBA star Stephen Curry was dis-invited from the White House on Saturday by President Trump.

“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!” the chief executive tweeted at 8:45 a.m.
King James had something to say about that.



I would love to see the entire NFL, white and black, take the knee tomorrow. Go ahead, fire all of those alleged cowards who are ruining the game because they're wimps who won't take a hit like they did in the good old days.

I never knew  so many people actually thought the mean, drunk old man at the end of the bar made any sense.  Millions do, apparently.

.




 
End of the world today. Getcher t-shirts, 2 for 1. 

by digby



It almost over folks. Whew:
David Meade, the self-described "specialist in research and investigations," has earned a fair amount of publicity online for predicting that catastrophic events would soon befall Earth.

Among his claims: On Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, a constellation — a sign prophesied in the Book of Revelation — would reveal itself in the skies over Jerusalem, signaling the beginning of the end of the world as we know it. Meade believes that by the end of October, the world may enter what's called a seven-year tribulation period, a fairly widespread evangelical belief that for seven years, catastrophic events would happen.

He also claims that a planet called Nibiru, which has been debunked by NASA as a hoax, is headed toward Earth. When it passes the planet later this year, Meade claims, catastrophe in the form of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves and others would ensue.

All of this is "the story of the century," Meade said on his website, but he says it's distorted and misrepresented by the mainstream media. He said some publications have exaggerated his words and falsely reported that he believes the world would end this weekend.

So who is David Meade?

When asked where he lives, he said only that he's in "the heart of a major disaster zone" after Hurricane Irma. When asked where he went to college, he said only that he studied astronomy at a university in Kentucky and declined to say which campus, citing safety concerns.

His website says he worked in forensic investigations and spent the past 10 years "writing special reports for management" for Fortune 1000 companies, but he ignored questions about which companies those were and what he currently does for a living.

A short biography on a website called Planet X News says he studied "astronomy, among other subjects" at the University of Louisville. (The university said it cannot verify whether a person was a student there.) The website also says Meade enjoys "relating science and the Bible," and he believes that Nibiru, which he also calls Planet X, is a "perfect marriage of the two."

"I was raised Catholic and all Catholics believe the Bible," Meade wrote on his website.

He's also critical of the young generation, which he said has been "dumbed down by TV, commercials, sports and so forth."

"What amazes me is that this new generation does not engage in critical thinking … They don't read. They don't understand anything," he wrote. "Very sad, really."

Amazon.com lists 13 books under Meade's name, all were self-published through EBookit.com and are each shorter than 200 pages.

(Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

The most recent one, "Planet X: The 2017 Arrival," boasts of "absolutely amazing revelations," a "page-turner" that purports to examine proof of Nibiru's existence.

Meade also delved into political conspiracy theories.

Related: [Will the mysterious shadow planet Nibiru obliterate Earth in October? No.]

In his book, "The Coup D'etat Against President Donald J. Trump," Meade asserts that a shadow government is trying to overthrow Trump and purports to expose "high-stakes collaboration of fifth-columnists, orchestrated by the controlled media and globalists such as billionaire George Soros." He said the book explores "the covert background of the Deep State" and reveals who funds "clandestine operations" against Trump, whom Meade described as someone who "knows everything."

In another book, "The Coming: Clinton Economic Collapse," which was published before the presidential election, Meade warned of wars and economic collapse under Hillary Clinton.

His YouTube channel has a handful of videos promoting his books.

NASA senior space scientist David Morrison has debunked the claim that a planet called Nibiru is on track toward Earth.

In a sharply worded video in which he urged people to "get over it," Morrison gave simple explanations. For one, astronomers would have already seen Nibiru by now, he said, and if it does exist, we'd be looking at an entirely different solar system because its gravity alone would destabilize the orbits of planets such as Earth, Venus and Mars.

"Instead, in the inner solar system, we see planets with stable orbits," Morrison said. "We see the moon going around the Earth."

Meade has been referred to as a "Christian numerologist" by some media articles. Ed Stetzer, a professor and executive director of Wheaton College's Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, said there's no such thing.

"I have four graduate degrees in these areas," Stetzer said. "Never have I heard of this expression."
They give graduate degrees in Armageddon?





.
 

Eye in the sky, by and by

by Tom Sullivan


Armed MQ-9 Reaper from General Atomics.

Not the GoPro quadracopters mind you, I'm talking about the big Corellian ships now.

There is plenty enough to worry about in U.S. policing. A "get tough" president. A U.S. attorney general with a far too-interesting backstory. Racial profiling. The "officer survival movement." Excessive force. Shooting the mentally ill. And militarization.

On that last one.... Blogger Barry Summers and I joke that it will take a military drone crashing into a school bus before people begin to take this seriously. (Barry sent in this drone accident report shortly before this posted.) Or, alternatively, if a rumor got going that the gummint has a surveillance drone capable of seeing into Ted Nugent's gun safe and counting his AR-15s.

The former already came close to happening in Pennsylvania. The Washington Post chronicled their safety record in "Crashes mount as military flies more drones in U.S.":

Shortly after the day’s final bell rang and hundreds of youngsters ran outside Lickdale Elementary School with their book bags and lunchboxes, a military drone fell from the sky.

The 375-pound Shadow reconnaissance drone skimmed the treetops as it hurtled toward the school in Jonestown, Pa. It barely missed the building, then cartwheeled through the butterfly garden and past the playground. The aircraft kept rolling like a tumbleweed and collided with a passing car on Fisher Avenue. People called 911. The rescue squad arrived in a hurry. Luckily, no one was hurt.

The April 3 near-disaster was the latest known mishap involving a military drone in the United States. Most U.S. military drone accidents have occurred abroad, but at least 49 large drones have crashed during test or training flights near domestic bases since 2001, according to a yearlong Washington Post investigation.
That report on drone crashes is from 2014. This report from Defense One comes on the heels of the Charlottesville police helicopter crash:
By 2025, enormous military-style drones – close relatives of the sort made famous by counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq – will be visible 2,000 feet above U.S. cities, streaming high-resolution video to police departments below. That is the bet that multiple defense contractors are placing, anyway, as they race to build unmanned aircraft that can pass evolving airworthiness certifications and replace police helicopters. And if that bet pays off, it will radically transform the way cities, citizens, and law enforcement interact.
That has not happened so far because the sense-and-avoid technology required for versions of the big military drones, such as the MQ-9 Reaper, to fly freely in civilian airspace is still unperfected. But General Atomics has a lot invested in seeing their drones go commercial. Who, you might ask, could make that happen simply by waiving the sense-and-avoid requirement or by choosing not enforce it?

But freely doesn't mean autonomously. The General Atomics MQ-9B still requires a ground-based human pilot to fly it.
The newest version of the drone can autonomously take off and land. A single operator can both fly the plane and operate the “sensor ball,” a globe full of high-resolution sensors and thermal imaging sensors manufactured by defense contractor Raytheon. The newest version of the camera has 720p HD resolution, enough to show faces in a crowd from 2,000 feet up. And optics are rapidly improving.

During the MQ-9B test in Grey Butte, journalists peeked out the door of the ground-control trailer to the tiny, barely visible plane overhead. Back inside, the monitors showed that we could easily easily distinguish each another, pick out clothing patterns, discern other markings, etc. It looked like a view from 30 feet up, not 2,000.
That's what has privacy advocates on edge. For good reason.

Freddie Gray died in police custody in Baltimore in 2015. Protests broke out a year later after all the police officers charged in Gray's death were acquitted. Some of the protests became violent. Persistent Surveillance Systems recorded them all with its eye in the sky:
... a small Cessna airplane equipped with a sophisticated array of cameras was circling Baltimore at roughly the same altitude as the massing clouds. The plane’s wide-angle cameras captured an area of roughly 30 square miles and continuously transmitted real-time images to analysts on the ground. The footage from the plane was instantly archived and stored on massive hard drives, allowing analysts to review it weeks later if necessary.

Since the beginning of the year, the Baltimore Police Department had been using the plane to investigate all sorts of crimes, from property thefts to shootings. The Cessna sometimes flew above the city for as many as 10 hours a day, and the public had no idea it was there.
The MQ-9B with its 79-foot wing span can remain aloft for far longer than 10 hours. Up to 40 hours or more, says General Atomics.

Last March, the Electronic Privacy Information Center sent a letter expressing concerns about the proliferation of drones to John Thune (R, SD), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, and to Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL). EPIC takes the FAA to task for failing to safeguard the public's privacy and safety:
Drones are now regularly equipped with high definition cameras that increase the ability of a user to conduct domestic surveillance. The DJI Inspire 1 is a high-end, commercially available hobbyist drone about the size of a small desktop printer and weighs less than seven pounds, yet it can transmit high definition video to an operator up to five kilometers away and can stream that video live to YouTube. Even lower-end hobbyist drones costing less than $100 can stream live video. The Hubsan X4 Star Pro, a drone that can fit in the palm of your hand, utilizes a front facing high definition camera with 720P resolution that can stream live video up to 300 meters away. Drones can be used to view individuals inside their homes and can facilitate the harassment and stalking of unsuspecting victims. Drones can also be modified with tools that can enable them to gather personal information using infrared cameras, heat sensors, GPS, automated license plate readers, and facial recognition devices.

Drones also pose risks to security and cybersecurity. Close calls between drones and traditional aircraft have risen significantly as their use becomes more widespread. Furthermore, the very features that make drones easy to operate also make them susceptible to cyberattacks. Hackers have the ability to exploit weaknesses in drone software to take over operation of a drone and access the camera and microphones.
Remember, EPIC is talking about small hobbyist and commercial drones, not the "big Corellian ships." But The American Conservative is. Texas Sen. John Cornyn's Building America’s Trust Act (introduced August 3) aims to put the southern border region under near-constant surveillance:
The bill would require unmanned drones to be flown at the border 24 hours a day, five days a week. That would effectively put anyone living near the border under a state of perpetual surveillance for no reason other than their geographical location. This is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.

Under this bill, each Border Patrol drone would log 6,240 hours of flight time per year. That would be a drastic increase from the Obama years. According to a 2014 report by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, four drones flown by Border Patrol logged a combined total of only 5,102 hours that year.

Not only does constantly flying drones near the border jeopardize basic privacy rights, it also takes an insane amount of money. The same December 2014 report found that Border Patrol’s drone program cost a whopping $12,255 per flight hour. That means, if the Building America’s Trust Act is passed, the government would spend $76.47 million per year, per drone at the border.
At roughly $12-15 million just to buy one, where does General Atomics expect local police departments to come up with that kind of money? What's clear is, General Atomics expects the money will be ready when their drones are.

As for how they might be used, a 1989 case involved a police helicopter spotting marijuana growing in a Florida greenhouse. The Supreme Court ruled that aerial surveillance evidence is inadmissible in court only if the helicopter is flying so low as to kick up dust and wind, becoming the equivalent of a home invasion, Patrick Tucker writes at Defense One. Not a problem with the persistent eye in the sky:
That’s good news for General Atomics and hawkish police departments, bad news for anyone concerned about growing surveillance powers of law enforcement. Even if the eye in the sky isn’t carrying Hellfire missiles, there’s something deeply dystopian about a machine whose cousin track[s] Al-Qaeda across Afghanistan [being] turned to track communities of color in places like Baltimore.
Plus, tech experts correct me if I'm wrong, but all that drone surveillance data routes through through an uplink to military satellites. Who controls those?
In the sweet by and by
We shall meet in that beautiful storage
* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


Friday, September 22, 2017

 
Friday Night Soother

by digby

Another fabulous Frida from Mexico:






One of Mexico’s most beloved rescuers wears wide protective goggles, a harness and two pairs of boots.

Frida is the star of the Mexican navy’s Canine Unit. Throughout her career, the 7-year-old Labrador has detected 52 people — 12 alive — in various natural disasters.

She detected the body of a police officer in Juchitan after an earthquake hit the state of Oaxaca two weeks ago.

Now her handlers in Mexico City are hoping she will find survivors of Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake, which killed more than 270 people in five states. The quake’s epicenter was in the state of Puebla, about 80 miles southeast of the capital.

Fifteen dogs have been deployed to search for people in Mexico City, but none have as many Twitter admirers as Frida. The navy tweeted a collage of photos of Frida last week, announcing her 52 rescues to the social media world. It got more than 4,000 retweets and nearly 7,000 likes. People called her a symbol of hope, a hero and offered to send her more boots to keep her paws safe. (She and the other rescue dogs have enough.)

The fate of earthquake victim 'Frida Sofia' captivated Mexico. But it seems she never existed
Here’s what some of her fans say:

“She should rest a little. She has worked a lot. God take care of you, your work is not easy.”

“Frida for president.”

“Now you know why they say that dogs are man’s best friend.”

Someone even suggested she replace the painter Diego Rivera on the 500-peso note:

When Frida’s story went viral this week, many people confused the exact details of her rescues, with some thinking that all 52 people were alive or that all 52 people were detected during the Mexico City earthquake.

Frida was dispatched Tuesday to the collapsed Enrique Rebsamen school, where 11 children were found alive and 25 people, including 19 children, were found dead. Other emergency workers found them.

On Thursday afternoon, she napped in a break room with two Belgian Malinois colleagues, Evil and Echo. Frida’s handler, Israel Arauz Salinas, said she had suffered from exhaustion after searching the school Wednesday. But he said she was back in good spirits Thursday after drinking water with electrolytes and getting some rest.

Salinas said that because of Frida’s age, Evil and Echo, who are a year and a half old, usually go into collapsed buildings first. If they detect a person, Frida follows up to confirm. She usually spends no more than 20 minutes inside.

Salinas said they bark if they detect signs of life. If they find a corpse, they stop suddenly, then carefully proceed.

"They act afraid," he said. "That indicates to us that there is a cadaver."

He said the spaces that Frida and the other dogs have had to search are less than 20 inches high. In some places, the dogs had to crawl, getting much deeper into the rubble than rescuers could.

A Sept. 13, 2017, tweet shows Frida, a member of the Mexican navy's Canine Unit. Frida has taken part in search and rescue efforts after the latest quake in Mexico.

Salinas said the dogs are selected for service at 2 months old. They receive training that determines whether they will go into detection of narcotics, explosives or people.

For detection of people, the training starts by throwing toys such as balls. Once the dog gets used to fetching, the trainer begins running with the toy in hand.

"They start associating the smell of the person with the reward of the ball," he said, adding that they train for about 3 hours a day for a year before being sent out to disaster sites.

Frida’s skills are applied not only in Mexico. Salinas said she was in Ecuador during the earthquake of April 2016.

By Thursday afternoon at the school in Mexico City, officials said that all children had been accounted for, but that one person might still be alive and trapped inside.

That means there's still a chance Frida could be sent to find out.





She is a very, very good girl.





 
Halfway house for Trumpies

by digby



Saying it was the first step in gaining the confidence and stability he would need to reintegrate back into society, residents and staff on Thursday welcomed former White House strategist Sebastian Gorka to New Beginnings, a halfway house for fired Trump administration members.

The 20-bed residential treatment center, which opened earlier this year in the capital’s quiet Woodland Park neighborhood, reportedly offers round-the-clock care to traumatized former West Wing insiders, providing life skills training, wellness workshops, and psychotherapy under the guidance of licensed social workers.


“It’s true these guys got wrapped up with the wrong people, but I firmly believe everyone has value no matter badly they’ve screwed up their lives.”

“At New Beginnings, Mr. Gorka will have the chance to make a fresh start—a chance to reflect on his past actions and hopefully emerge a more responsible citizen,” said director Ross Woodley, who noted that besides housing, the facility offered counseling on issues from anger management to speaking with special prosecutors. “No doubt he’s been through a lot, but he’ll be joining a community of other ex-Trump strategists, senior advisors, and communications personnel who are all going through the same process.”

“It’s very lucky we were able to accommodate him, though, as we’ve been completely full since February,” he added.

According to Woodley, once accepted to the program, a jittery, confused Gorka was driven from the White House directly to the facility to begin treatment. During the intake process, Gorka’s personal belongings were reportedly confiscated and he was asked to sign forms promising not to visit the Oval Office or have any contact with his enabling friends still within the administration.

Sources said that Gorka, 46, has responded well to the facility’s regimented schedule, rising before dawn to brew coffee and make breakfast for the group with former communications director Michael Dubke. Additionally, sources noted that Gorka had bonded with long-term resident Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who showed him how to do his own laundry and helped him buy a bus pass so he could apply for dishwashing jobs around town.

“It’s a good sign that he’s interacting with people—that’s more than we could say for Spicer or Priebus when they got here,” said Woodley, pointing to the two men quietly completing a 1,000-piece winter landscape jigsaw puzzle. “Sean was just a mess. One moment he’d be manically scrawling press releases on the backs of napkins, and the next he’d be screaming in your face, saying that CNN was out to destroy his reputation. Reince has been in and out of a catatonic stupor since he arrived.”

“Yes, it’s true these guys got wrapped up with the wrong people, but I firmly believe everyone has value no matter badly they’ve screwed up their lives, or their family’s lives, or the lives of 314 million Americans,” he continued.

According to Woodley, some of the biggest breakthroughs are made during group therapy where twice a day, former officials gather in the facility’s activity room to discuss tense moments working for the administration and how they might have handled them differently. He noted that while some residents reportedly take weeks to admit the things they’ve done, most eventually build up the courage to share their stories, often breaking down into sobs.

Woodley also explained that all residents are required to follow a strict code of conduct: no drugs or alcohol, no guest appearances on cable news, and a tidy bunk at all times. According to staff, however, abiding by the rules has been especially tough for Steve Bannon, whose attempts to conduct Breitbart editorial meetings via a smuggled cell phone have led to his loss of commissary privileges.

“Bannon is incredibly volatile, so we’ve had to put him on a 24/7 watch to ensure he doesn’t injure himself or others,” said Woodley, adding that the president’s former chief strategist had recently thrown an ashtray at a TV after watching a Fox News segment he considered “bullshit establishment propaganda.” “We thought maybe he’d turned a corner when he found a job as a busboy at a nearby pub, but then he lost it by referring to several waitresses as ‘dykes.’”

While rehabilitation has been easier for some residents than others, Woodley said former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was his biggest success story to date, noting that, after several weeks of intense rage counseling, he had fully accepted responsibility for his chaotic 10-day tenure and would soon be starting a new job at an Arlington landscaping company.

“Though we wish for everyone to have the same level of success as Anthony, we accept it’s not always possible,” said Woodley. “There are only so many resources, and more and more people show up at our doorstep every day.”

“Unfortunately, without our guidance, there’s really no future for these folks,” he continued. “People just don’t want Trump staffers living in their neighborhoods.”


Yes, that's from the Onion.


.
 
ADD politics

by digby





That is a chart of all the spikes in searches for news on google since Trump took office.
The study shows that while Trump's presidency has been action-packed, the public's attention span doesn't seem to last for long.

The visible spikes of increased Googling on a topic indicate that Trump-related news captures the public's interest, but that attention quickly fizzles out or is captured by the next bombshell report or firing. The House health care bill, North Korea and Afghanistan troops are some of the few that have had slightly more steady interest over time, with Robert Mueller's Russia investigation having several mini-spikes of interest.

My instincts would normally tell me that this would have a cumulative effect and the public would permanently sour on all this mess. But with Trump, I just don't know. It may just as easily become a sort of addictive need for stimulation too. He could be changing the way we think about politics --- now it's all reality show drama all the time. And we seem to need it to be more exciting all the time.

Trump has always seen politics as just another version of wrestling or reality TV --- scripted drama where everyone pretends to think it's real.

I wonder if he thinks nuclear war would make a ratings grabbing season finale.

He's got friends who are egging him on:

Rep. Duncan Hunter said that the United States needs to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea in order to prevent the rogue nation from harming the U.S. first.

“You could assume, right now, that we have a nuclear missile aimed at the United States, and here in San Diego. Why would they not aim here, at Hawaii, Guam, our major naval bases?” Hunter, an Alpine Republican, said during an appearance on a KUSI show on Thursday.

“The question is, do you wait for one of those? Or, two? Do you preemptively strike them? And that’s what the president has to wrestle with. I would preemptively strike them. You could call it declaring war, call it whatever you want,” Hunter continued.

Hunter, a member of a House Armed Services Committee and the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the United States’ nuclear arsenal, did not say if the military should strike North Korea with conventional or nuclear weapons.
BTW:
Defense Secretary James Mattis said a war with North Korea would be “catastrophic” and that Seoul would be thoroughly shelled. He said the United States and its allies would win, but at a tremendous cost.

“It will be a war more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we have seen since 1953," he said. He was not speaking specifically about a preemptive strike.

Yeah, whatever. As Trump said during the campaign, why do we have nuclear missiles if we aren't prepared to use them?


Update: Remember this?
MATTHEWS: OK. The trouble is, when you said that, the whole world heard it. David Cameron in Britain heard it. The Japanese, where we bombed them in 45, heard it. They`re hearing a guy running for president of the United States talking of maybe using nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to hear that about an American president. 
TRUMP: Then why are we making them? Why do we make them?

And this?

BLITZER: But — but you’re ready to let Japan and South Korea become nuclear powers?

TRUMP: I am prepared to — if they’re not going to take care of us properly, we cannot afford to be the military and the police for the world. We are, right now, the police for the entire world. We are policing the entire world.

You know, when people look at our military and they say, “Oh, wow, that’s fantastic,” they have many, many times — you know, we spend many times what any other country spends on the military. But it’s not really for us. We’re defending other countries.

So all I’m saying is this: they have to pay.

And you know what? I’m prepared to walk, and if they have to defend themselves against North Korea, where you have a maniac over there, in my opinion, if they don’t — if they don’t take care of us properly, if they don’t respect us enough to take care of us properly, then you know what’s going to have to happen, Wolf?

It’s very simple. They’re going to have to defend themselves.



 
I've got yer American Carnage for ya right here

by digby




Politico reports that Trump is privetely worried that nobody will give him credit for "repealing and replacing" the hated Obamacare:
In public, President Donald Trump is all-in on the Senate’s final chance to repeal Obamacare. But privately, there’s ambivalence in the White House about the bill’s contents and its chances of clearing the tightly divided chamber next week.

Trump spent time between meetings at the United Nations calling senators and other senior White House officials about the Graham-Cassidy bill, asking for updated vote tallies and how to woo senators for the bill. White House officials have considered tweaking the state funding to win a vote from GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — and others. Trump has also publicly excoriated Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for voting against the legislation, telling aides he would go after other senators.


"Repeal and Replace!" he said. Trump also defended Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) from Jimmy Kimmel’s scathing criticisms of the bill, concluding that Cassidy is a “class act.”

The public stance is coupled with a sense of doubt inside the White House, though, about the bill and deep concerns about whether it can pass the Senate or House, according to administration officials and congressional sources. These people say the president and his team have little sway with some key members, like GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona and Murkowski, the trio that tanked Republicans’ repeal attempt in July.

In fact, many Republicans on Capitol Hill believe that Trump cost them Murkowski’s vote in a private phone call this summer. And the president has refrained from making as many calls this go-round, one person familiar with his whipping said...

One official said the concerns from governors have alarmed some in the White House — and that "we really aren't sure what the impact will be” of passing the bill. They also fear that the bill could bring political blowback from the left and right.

Trump has publicly expressed enthusiasm about the bill, tweeting about it repeatedly. But in conversations with aides, he has turned back to one topic: What can the White House do that is seen as "repeal and replace?" a phrase he likes to repeat.


You'll note that not one of these monsters is quoted as being worried that they are killing people. One can only conclude that that is what they like about it. Their concern is only that they "be seen" as passing "repeal and replace" so Trumpie and the GOP can have their victory parade.

Also this. Looks like a minimum of 21 million people losing insurance (including yours truly, I'm sure) by 2026 and probably a lot more.  30 million or more later on.


After 2020, the bill would also sharply cut back federal funding for states that expanded Medicaid, gutting some state budgets by tens of billions of dollars.

“Some states might elect to begin the process of winding down their Medicaid expansion prior to 2020, which could also add to coverage losses during this period,” the report noted.

Brookings also notes that there is nothing in the bill to prevent states from spending the federal block grants that used to be their Medicaid and ACA marketplace budgets for completely unrelated purposes, such as cutting taxes.

After 2026, the losses would become far more severe, with more than 30 million people losing insurance “because of the additional changes to the Medicaid program under this legislation.”

And, by the way, one of the features of this is also that it's going to kill a lot more blue state residents ---- they're stripping them of vast amounts of money because they had the audacity to cover people under Obamacare. This is fashioned as a reward for the deplorable Trump voters --- but they'll get screwed too. I'm guessing they will be happy to make the sacrifice as long as they know that the people of color, uppity women and hippies get it even worse. That's what they live for.

He said there was carnage all over America and goddamn it he's going to make sure of it.


.