“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, April 17, 2017

Believing US Intelligence Agencies or US Presidents or The US Congress Again? I am SURE this time will be different!

MOSUL - April 2017

MOSUL - April 2003

300,000 Civilians Have Now Fled  Western Mosul | April 10th 2017

THE MEMO: Has Trump gone Washington?

President Trump is moving in a more conventional direction, winning plaudits from former critics in the process. But his shifts, in both policy and personnel, are disconcerting those who were once among his loudest boosters. 
The Trump diehards are queasy at the notion that a president who ran as a proud outsider might be co-opted by a Washington establishment they loathe.  
“Trump won by bringing out millions of people who hadn’t voted in decades, maybe ever,” the conservative commentator Ann Coulter told The Hill in an email. “They’re not on ABC’s ‘powerhouse roundtable,’ working on Wall Street or for the Koch brothers — where everyone is delighted with how Trump has ‘grown’ in office. 
“The base is terrified that Trump is being led down the primrose path with flattery from all the people who didn’t vote for him and never will.”
The charge that Trump is going to disappoint — or even sell out — the insurgent legions who supported him last November is not new. 
When the GOP’s internal fight over the attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was at its height at the start of April, conservative Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) lamented on Twitter that “Trump admin & Establishment have merged into #Trumpstablishment. Same old agenda.”
Even earlier, conservative media icon Matt Drudge of The Drudge Report tweeted, “The swamp drains you,” a clear jab at Trump, who promised during the campaign to "drain the swamp" in Washington. 
But those worries have intensified this week. 
The president backed away from several of his campaign positions in short order. He no longer views NATO as “obsolete”; he no longer views China to be a currency manipulator; and his opposition to the Export-Import Bank and to Janet Yellen’s reappointment as the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve have gone by the wayside.
Meanwhile, reverberations are being felt from the airstrike he launched on Syria.
During President Obama's White House tenure, Trump had warned about the dangers of getting involved in the war-torn nation.
The White House has vigorously pushed back against suggestions that the president has made u-turns on those policy issues.
Aides put a particular emphasis on the NATO question, insisting that the organization has proven receptive to Trump’s key demands: that member nations aside from the United States should pay their fair share and that the fight against terrorism should be a higher priority. NATO's moves in response, they say, are what have caused Trump to take a more favorable view of the alliance. 
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday said that “when you look at these issues and you recognize the direction in which they’re moving, they’re moving in a direction that the president stated very clearly.”
Spicer was, however, much keener to emphasize NATO over issues such as the Export-Import Bank, where there has been little, if any, germane changes to an institution that candidate Trump railed against.
“I was very much opposed to Ex-Im Bank,” the president told the Wall Street Journal this week, before explaining that he had realized “lots of small companies” as well as corporate behemoths gain from it. 
"Instinctively you would say, ‘Isn't that a ridiculous thing?’ — but actually it’s a very good thing,” he said of the bank.
Such statements have convinced some conservatives who have long been skeptical of Trump that they were right all along. 
“If Donald Trump had ran on, ‘I’m essentially Chris Christie — you might not agree with me on everything but I’m better than Hillary Clinton,’ I would still have disagreed with him, but I wouldn’t have felt I’d been misled,” said Iowa radio talk-show host Steve Deace, a Trump critic who supported rival Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during last year’s GOP primary. 
“But he ran on, ‘I’m to the right of Ted Cruz,’ and he misled people.”
Still, Trump did on Friday announce he is nominating former New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett (R) to lead the Ex-Im Bank. Garrett was a staunch critic of the bank in Congress, saying it “embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system.”
Deace cautioned that Trump supporters were not monolithic, encompassing everyone from true believers to those who backed the president without real enthusiasm, only because they thought he was a better choice than Clinton, his Democratic opponent.
The president’s latest shifts would play differently to different strands among Trump’s supporters, Deace said. Still, he asserted, the overall effect amounted to “abandoning his own base and relying on people who don’t like him or his way of communicating. … In politics, it never works to abandon your own base.”
Policy is only one part of that picture. The shifting fortunes of individuals within the White House are also causing discontent on the right. 
Many have speculated that chief strategist Stephen Bannon — seen as the keeper of the Trumpian flame by the president’s most conservative supporters — is losing ground after being removed from the National Security Council. The president also minimized Bannon’s contribution in interviews with the Journal and the New York Post.
Figures in the White House who are perceived to be ascendant — notably Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs president who now serves as the head of the National Economic Council — favor a less nationalist and more establishment-friendly stance than Bannon.
“If Trump fired Bannon and kept Cohn, I don’t think the White House understands that s---storm they would face,” one Trump associate told The Hill earlier this week.
Defenders of the president argue that most voters are uninterested in the latest palace intrigue and have faith in Trump as an agent of change. 
“Every time the press reports that everything is in turmoil, a lot of voters understand that is not necessarily true,” said Republican strategist Hogan Gidley. “Instead what they are seeing is business as usual being shaken up.”
Gidley added that Trump is such an inherently unorthodox figure that there was never a danger of him succumbing to Beltway norms.
“I don’t think there is a real fear that he will ‘go Washington.’ People don’t know what he is going to do. He doesn’t follow any of the conventional political norms. To try to ascribe to him a traditional political motive is complete folly.” 
But others are far from convinced. 
“It was a magical moment to finally have a president who is not owned by Wall Street,” Coulter said. “You’ll never see that again. There’s no reason for Trump to voluntarily turn his [administration] over to all the people who hysterically opposed him, but if there’s one more Goldman Sachs hire, they might as well fly the Goldman flag over the White House.” 
The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald Trump’s presidency. 


  1. Bush - Clinton - Clinton - Bush - Bush - Obama - Obama _ This time will surely be different _ Trump


  2. Washington Post

    Pence tells North Korea not to test American resolve, offering Syria and Afghanistan strikes as examples

  3. " Syria and Afghanistan strikes as examples" ?

  4. The US political establishment using the US military has fucked up every foreign war since 1945.

    Trump ran on changing all that. When Jimmy Cater got his ass handed to him in the Iranian hostage calamity, we voted for the savior, Ronald Reagan who within minutes went on to do more good work creating the Taliban, al Qaeda and through the good work of every swinging dick to be in the White House since then, ISIS.

    The US government is as competent at fighting foreign wars as ISIS is at urban development.

    I supported Trump based on his words and based on his adversary. We were all lied to by Trump.

    We are all bugs in amber.


  5. “All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I've said before, bugs in amber.”
    ― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

  6. .

    In order to be a change agent you have to have some basic philosophy beyond 'Me. Me. Me.' Trump doesn't.

    Trump is clever and ruthless but he is not intelligent. His main tools are bluster and diversion. He has no problem with lies or dissembling, whatever it takes. He has no core values except that of defending his brand. He is more interested in positive press coverage than in policy. His moves are designed to keep him in the spotlight and at the center of attention. As such, he is easily manipulated by equally clever men who are willing to play the sycophant and keep a low public profile, a lesson that probably should be pointed out to Nicki Haley who seems to be getting a little uppity lately.

    Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and others.

    This was bred into Trump from early childhood. To assume he will change involves questionable assumptions about human nature.


  7. .

    China and Russia dispatch ships to shadow Donald Trump’s 'armada' as it approaches North Korean waters - Japanese media report

    Trump has ridiculed Obama for setting a red line and then failing to act on it. In Syria, Trump set a red line after it had already been crossed. In Korea, he has again set a red line indicating that if China can't solve the North Korea problem 'we will'.

    There is no doubt that in any war with the US, NK will be defeated. The question is what will be left behind.

    The costs of a second Korean war, then, would be massive: another possible two million or more Korean casualties; fifty thousand or more dead Americans; the potential mass military mobilization of the U.S. civilian population for another land war in Asia; the utter destruction of South Korea’s infrastructure, “the Miracle on the Han” that turned a war-devastated backwater into an economic powerhouse; possible chemical attacks on U.S. Pacific bases and South Korean and Japanese civilians; plunging Pacific stock markets; the total disruption of global trade; the possible intervention of China; and, most devastating of all, the potential use of nuclear weapons in combat for the first time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    So the question must be asked: is a surgical strike worth the risk?


  8. I bet on an out of the money long dated Trump call and am taking the loss now and closing it out.

    1. .

      I am starting to slowly ease out of the market. Better to be safe than sorry. Besides, in two weeks it will be May and time to 'go away'.


    2. I just checked. Now at 91.76% cash and need to figure out what to do with it.

  9. Our last venture into Korea was neither a cake walk nor a victory. We lost 50,000 killed, another 100,000 wounded and left about 2,000,000 Chinese and Korean dead.

    Anyone watching the Korean parade over the weekend, should take pause before saying "We will" do anything in North Korea.

  10. .

    Sisi Cops Out on the Copts

    After nearly three years of Sisi’s reign, the Copts find themselves facing continuous decay in their livelihoods and rights, with no end in sight. Violence against them has reached unprecedented levels, raising the genuine fear of suffering the same fate of minorities in Syria and Iraq, effectively obliterated. Copts have witnessed the destruction of their churches, the killing, beheading and burning of their people and the looting of their possessions, and now they have to endure forced displacement and mass exodus.

    The sentiment among Copts is that Sisi will provide no real security for their community. Copts will instead be left to attrition, loss and neglect, facing on their own the depravity of terrorism – while Sisi, against ground realities, polishes his credentials and legitimacy to a world audience as a fighter of terrorism. While suffering continuous losses, the Copts expect little from Sisi apart from annual attendance at the Christmas mass, more unfulfilled promises and more supportive but hollow rhetoric – all designed to improve his own image before the West, with precious little regard for the actual interests of the Copts or other Egyptians.

    These momentous events in Egypt add to the complexity of the nation’s delicate situation and cast shadows of anxiety, not only over the Copts, but also over Egypt as a whole. The question is thus not just about the future of the Copts but about the future of all of Egypt under Sisi’s precarious rule.


  11. .

    The reign of Erdogan I begins...

    RIP Turkey 1921 - 2017

    All talk of Turkey entering the EU died long ago. Chances of Turkey leaving NATO? Slim to none.


    1. Democracy and human rights and Islam never seem to get along well together.

      The Turks are the same now as back when Cervantes joined the fight against them and the Ottoman fleet was defeated on October 7, 1571, in the Battle of Lepanto.

      They have no business in the EU.

  12. .

    Just saw Mike Pence talking at the DMZ. He was saber rattling with NK suggesting that the missile attack in Syria and the MOAB drop in Afghanistan should indicate the In that the US is perfectly willing to use the military option if necessary.

    In the words of our 45 president, Weak. So weak.

    The missile strike was a minimal response to Trump's retroactive red line. The MOAB would never be used in NK anyway. The dang thing has to be transported in a slow moving cargo plan for heavens sake.

    On hearing Pence's threat, Un reportedly lit another cigar and took a deep swig of cognac.


    1. The world awaits your suggestions for a solution to the situation.

    2. trump is already doing it...

      Signing the 2 pipelines, opening up fracking and lifting coal and EPA nonsense is putting America back in the LP oil and coal exporting business

      41% of North Korea's income comes from coal, Trump has persuaded China to stop buying North Korean coal and BUY American coal, at the same time? By encouraging LP and Oil? This is a major shot across the bough of Russia, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Arabia and any other opec member...

      Trump is using the concept of Art of War.

      Maybe some folks need to learn the concept of leading with the right and striking with a kick in the backside.


  13. .
    UN says Mosul op has displaced nearly half a million

    BAGHDAD, Iraq — six-month-old operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group has forced around half a million people to flee their homes, the United Nations said Monday.
    Iraqi forces began the country’s biggest military operation in years exactly six months ago and recaptured the east side of the city in January.

    But an assault launched the following month on the part of Mosul that lies west of the Tigris river has seen a sharp rise in displacement.

    “The sheer volume of civilians still fleeing Mosul city is staggering,” Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, said in a statement.

    “Our worst case scenario when the fighting started was that up to one million civilians may flee Mosul. Already, more than 493,000 people have left, leaving almost everything behind,” she said.
    Iraqi forces have been making significant gains in west Mosul over the past two months but the toughest battles could yet lie ahead, with die-hard jihadists hunkering down in the treacherous streets of the Old City…


  14. .

    Brash Leftist Candidate Shakes Up France's Presidential Election

    French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon delivers a speech during a meeting in Lille, northern France, on April 12.

    Michel Spingler/AP

    ...A couple of months ago, Melenchon, whose party is called La France Insoumise ("Untamed France"), did not seem like a serious contender for president.

    But the "French Bernie Sanders," as he's sometimes been called, is shaking up the French presidential election with his promises to stand up for the little guy. He's surging in the polls just a week before the first round of voting — running even or just ahead of Francois Fillon, the conservative candidate who has been hurt by a corruption scandal...

    Mathiot says Melenchon has won over voters who are angry with a political system that they believe has fueled economic inequality. They like Melenchon's power-to-the-people campaign messages and honest, funny debate performances — even if his ideas are extreme.

    He wants to renegotiate European Union treaties and withdraw France from institutions such as NATO and the International Monetary Fund, which he associates with globalized capitalism.
    "For a lot of voters, he is the only leftist candidate," Mathiot says, since the Socialists have imploded after Francois Hollande's unpopular presidency.

    Melenchon has reached out to young voters in non-traditional ways.

    There's a video game called "Fiscal Combat," which features an animated Melenchon literally shaking money out of rich political figures such as former President Nicolas Sarkozy and IMF President Christine Lagarde.

    And Melenchon kicked off his campaign in February by appearing in two places at once — in the flesh in Lyon, and as a 3-D hologram more than 300 miles away — in Paris. He repeated the hologram effect again in Lille, transporting himself to six more locations, including Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
    It's a hit, so he's planning to do it again this week.

    "He's a politician since the '80s," Mathiot says. "So he's a very old politician, but he's very modern in his political way of life. So it's not a question of age, of political experience. For lots of voters, and especially young voters, he's a new politician..."

    The man sounds familiar. The difference is that he likely means what he says...


  15. Is one of the characteristics of Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) an inability to see others as anything but 'dicks' ?

    1. (Dr. Quirk got his Ph.D in depth psychology after graduating from some on-line advertising school)

    2. Don't think I am denigrating Dr. Quirk's psychological abilities. He showed his analytical acuity in his diagnosis of rat's ass.

    3. I'm just wondering if Quirk might be an NPD sufferer himself, and not realize it.

  16. Was listening to a report on the Boston Marathon. Good grief, half the people there are going to be cops of one sort or another. Undercover observers of all sorts, eyes in the skies, people manning computer banks watching every move.....


    We need some real suggestions from someone who knows some shit as to what exactly to do about this situation other than from an NPD sufferer like The Donald.

    Though I actually think The Donald is on the right track trying to get the Chinese to basically dethrone fatso.

  18. There was a failed missile launch at the edge of the U of Idaho campus a few days ago.

    4 male students had created a rocket, and the fuel too (don't know if solid or liquid).

    The fuel was their weak spot, as the rocket blew up even BEFORE launch, rendering the 4 students unconscious.

    It was a BIG BOOM, heard all over town, it was reported.

    At last news, the 4 students were all aware, and 'communicating'.

    Several Federal alphabet agencies, in addition to local authorities, are investigating the incident.

    NEWS APR 14 2017, 4:15 PM ET
    University of Idaho Students Injured In Rocket Explosion

    Four students injured during the University of Idaho explosion on Thursday night were all out of surgery, communicating with campus personnel and slowly recovering on Friday morning, university officials confirmed.

    The students, three of whom are studying engineering, suffered major injuries and were transported to Gritman Medical Center after the rocket they were testing exploded. The experiment was intended to test the rocket's fuel power and the way it burnt but students accidentally launched the rocket projectile into the air.

    Image: The scene of an explosion at the University of Idaho, where four students were injured after a rocket test failed.
    The scene of an explosion at the University of Idaho, where four students were injured after a rocket test failed. Patrick Erickson

    "We're still investigating and reviewing the exact details of how this transpired. The group is sanctioned," said Dan Ewart, the college's Vice President of Infrastructure at the press conference. "A faculty member and adviser were present."

    The rocket was a galvanized metal pipe, estimated to be between eight to 12 inches in length and an inch and a half in diameter and was placed on a wooden palate. The explosion caused wooden debris to be strewn all over the campus parking lot.

    The first call for emergency came in at 9:52 p.m. and the Moscow Fire Department and Moscow Police Department rushed there. Four ambulances arrived at the scene shortly after as students who heard the explosion also ran to the parking lot.

    Ewart said the college will not be releasing the identity of the individuals until the investigation is complete, and noted that at least one of the students was wearing protective gear over their face during the experiment.

    University officials confirmed that all the students belonged to the Northwest Organization of Rocket Engineers (NORE) and the organization designs, builds and tests rockets. Officials are confused, however, as to why the experiment took place on campus and not somewhere with a larger space....

    Good pics of explosion site and emergency personnel included.

  19. REPORT: USA Deploys More Aircraft Carriers Toward Korean Peninsula....DRUDGE

    1. The Pentagon must have been impressed with the parade.

  20. Syrian defector: Of course Assad kept hundreds of tons of chemical weapons

    Get ready for more red-lining from Bashar al-Assad. Despite claims from Russia and the Syrian dictator himself that he fully disarmed his chemical-weapons program, a high-ranking defector tells the UK Telegraph that Assad still has hundreds of tons of those munitions stockpiled for use by his military. General Zaher al-Sakat says that includes sarin gas, the munitions used against a village in Idlib province that provoked a military strike from the US in reprisal (via Guy Benson):

    President Bashar al-Assad continues to retain hundreds of tonnes of his country’s chemical stockpile after deceiving United Nations inspectors sent in to dismantle it, according to Syria’s former chemical weapons research chief and other experts.

    Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat – who served as head of chemical warfare in the powerful 5th Division of the military until he defected in 2013 – told The Telegraph that Assad’s regime failed to declare large amounts of sarin and its precursor chemicals. …

    “They [the regime] admitted only to 1,300 tonnes, but we knew in reality they had nearly double that,” said Brig Gen Sakat, who was one of the most senior figures in the country’s chemical programme. “They had at least 2,000 tonnes. At least.”

    How does Sakat know this? As one of Assad’s brigadier generals, he received orders to carry out these attacks. He claims that he ordered the deadly chemicals replaced with harmless substances, and then defected over the genocidal nature of the regime:

    Sakat has said in the past that he himself was ordered to carry out chemical strikes on three different occasions before he defected. In those instances he switched out the deadly agents in the bombs for harmless chemicals.

    “I couldn’t believe at the beginning that Assad would use these weapons on his people,” he said. “I could not stand and watch the genocide. I couldn’t hurt my own people.”
    UN and UK experts call these claims “plausible,” although the 700-ton estimate from Sakat exceeds that of British analysts, who projected two hundreds tons left in Assad’s arsenal. Although some wondered whether the attack on Khan Sheikhoun might be a sign of new production, Sakat says it’s not necessary. “They have all they need already.”

    1. So what’s next? Russia wants to slow everyone down by pushing for an international investigation into the Idlib attack, and Syria has invited the OPCW to inspect Khan Sheikhoun … belatedly:

      Russia called for international inspectors to visit Idlib, where the U.S. accused Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad of carrying out a deadly chemical weapons attack against his own citizens.

      Syria’s government invited the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to visit the site of the April 4 incident and the airbase that the U.S. later bombed, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. Representatives of United Nations Security Council members, the European Union and the Middle East should travel with OPCW inspectors to ensure a “transparent” investigation, he said at a meeting with his Qatari counterpart Mohammed Al Thani Saturday in Moscow. …

      “Within the framework of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN, we will insist on the immediate dispatch of inspectors both to the site of the incident and the airbase where our western colleagues claim missiles were loaded with chemical substances,” Lavrov said.
      That may not turn out as well as Russia hopes, though:

      The OPCW reported to the United Nations last year that its inspectors detected the presence of previously undeclared chemical warfare agents in Syria. The group had earlier certified that Syria disposed of its stockpiles and was dismantling product facilities under a deal Russia helped broker with the U.S. in 2013.
      The OPCW has been ringing the alarm bell on Syrian chemical weapons attacks since at least last August, to little avail until the last two weeks. Donald Trump’s airstrike on Shayrat air base has changed those calculations, and now Russia and Syria need some temporary cover — and the OPCW is the only place they can turn.

      How has the reprisal strike been received among Syrian diaspora here in the US? Yesterday morning, the local CBS Minneapolis affiliate interviewed a Syria ex-patriate and asked the question directly. Mazan Halabi isn’t a Trump fan at all, but ends up grudgingly praising the airstrike. “We were really surprised,” Halabi says, concluding that while bombings are bad in general, “there was nothing [else] that was going to stop Assad from killing our families.”

  21. "...

    In fact, the key to China’s policy of non-action on the Korea threat lies more in Chinese domestic factors. The reason China characterizes its relations with the DPRK as “close as lips and teeth” is because the two nations share the same political and social institutions inherited from Stalin’s Russia and a long history of very close collaboration between the Chinese and North Korean communist parties and military elites.

    One unfortunate consequence of entrenching the Kim family dynasty in North Korea is that the sons are unable to follow the Chinese example of “opening and economic reform.” Repudiating the past – as China did by characterizing its Cultural Revolution as “10 years of disaster,” thus making Beijing’s opening and reform program possible – is not available to the Pyongyang regime that bases its legitimacy on the perfect legacy of Kim rule through the generations, an economic and human-rights disaster with a politic of Shakespearean medieval kingly norms, to the extent of executing scheming uncles and murdering half-brothers with constant behind-the-scenes political drama and military posturing.

    Nevertheless the post-Kim fallout of a German-like reunification of Korea would be profoundly politically destabilizing for China. The opening of the secret police files and the seeking of redress by the politically wronged, followed by the inevitable public trials for corruption and political venality of China’s “lips and teeth” North Korean political and military elite would trigger huge interest among citizens of China. Parallels to the Chinese system would be too closely drawn for the Chinese Communist Party leadership to explain away, and the threat this poses to mainland Chinese political stability could well be the beginning of the end of the Chinese Communist Party’s single-party authoritarian rule. Moreover, the files would likely show PRC regime complicity in a lot of matters relating to the DPRK that would severely debase China’s international prestige.

    Thus, the PRC is paralyzed into inaction on North Korea. If Beijing works with the U.S. to neutralize the DPRK’s nuclear threat, the road to collapse of North Korean communism is irreversible, with concomitant implications for China’s political future.

    If China does nothing, it leaves it to the U.S. to take unilateral action without China’s support, which would put the lie to China’s ambitions to be the future hegemon of East Asia.

    The second option appears the most likely future scenario. “Show restraint” is not the sort of language President Trump tweets."

  22. Those Loveable Turks

    Before the critics in attendance even had the chance to exit Roy Thompson Hall, let alone write their reviews, The Promise's IMDb page was flooded with tens of thousands of one-star ratings. "All I know is that we were in about a 900-seat house with a real ovation at the end, and then you see almost 100,000 people who claim the movie isn't any good," says Medavoy. Panicked calls were placed to IMDb, but there was nothing the site could do. "One thing that they can track is where the votes come from," says Eric Esrailian, who also produced the film, and "the vast majority of people voting were not from Canada. So I know they weren't in Toronto."

    The online campaign against The Promise appears to have originated on sites like Incisozluk, a Turkish version of 4chan, where there were calls for users to "downvote" the film's ratings on IMDb and YouTube. A rough translation of one post: "Guys, Hollywood is filming a big movie about the so-called Armenian genocide and the trailer has already been watched 700k times. We need to do something urgently." Soon afterward, the user gleefully noted The Promise's average IMDb rating had reached a dismaying 1.8 stars. "They know that the IMDb rating will stay with the film forever," says Esrailian. "It's a kind of censorship, really."

  23. Starfucker:

    Just who I'd love to spend time with: Springsteen, Oprah, and Bono.

  24. "We learned on his plane coming over that Pence's father, 2nd Lt. Edward J. Pence, Jr., served in the Korean War and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service. In fact, Pence has the medal framed in his White House office.

    This trip is coming almost exactly 64 years to the day since Pence's father was awarded that medal -- a remarkable fact, especially as the war remains unresolved.
    Reflecting on his dad on his first day in South Korea, Pence said, "I think about what Dad would be thinking about and is thinking about as he looks down -- at this third son -- to return to the place he came so many years ago and the commitment that endures here that has resulted in a free and prosperous South Korea.""


  25. the 'most underestimated person on Trump's team'

  26. Meanwhile down in Venezuela -

    What’s the end game in Venezuela?

    Over the weekend we looked at the deteriorating situation in Venezuela where the regime of Nicola Maduro (can we just call it a dictatorship at this point?) is in a running battle with protesters. People are now literally dying the streets fighting against government forces, while others simply die of starvation. There is certainly a sense in the air that something even worse is coming before things get better, assuming they ever do. But where is all of this heading? Over at The Daily Beast there is an editorial from Raul Stolk which examines this question and offers various possible end-game scenarios, none of them particularly rosy. Stolk is a Venezuelan ex-pat living in Miami and he’s been writing about this crisis for some time now.

    So what are the options on the table currently? One is the rather far fetched hope that new elections can be scheduled, not only regionally, but to replace Maduro through some sort of democratic process. Alternately, he could resign under pressure from the masses. But Stolk points out that both of these are not only unlikely, given the iron grip Maduro has on the nation, but constitutionally problematic. Even if the president could be peacefully evicted from the palace, under the normal rules of order he would be immediately replaced by the Vice President, and that could potentially be even worse.

    If Maduro were to resign, or be removed by referendum, or even by trial, the vice president would be first in line to finish his constitutional term. The current Venezuelan veep is a man called Tareck El Aissami, who was recently listed under the drug kingpin act of the United States. For many Venezuelans, it would be tragic to get rid of Maduro and get stuck with El Aissami. He has been ruthless repressing opposition protests in the past, and whether true or not, his reputation has not been helped by rumoured connections to international terrorism.
    So that path looks rather dismal at best. One of the more violent and worrisome prospects is the military pulling off a successful coup and deposing both Maduro and his vice president themselves. But then who is in charge? As Stolk notes, world history – particularly in South America – is full of horror stories about the aftermath of such coups and the rise of military strongmen in their wake. The results rarely wind up being some sort of free and democratic society which benefits the rank and file citizens.

    Others seem to hope that the military might have a change of heart and force the government out and help re-establish constitutional order through a not-so-constitutional coup d’├ętat.

    1. Of course, this would be the fastest route to the end of Maduro and chavismo. But considering how things have gone with military adventurers and politics in the past, and considering that the military is a big part of the present problem, this seems a less desirable option.

      That leaves us with three equally horrible options to my way of thinking. The first would be to simply leave the status quo in place and see if Maduro can right the ship on his own and at least begin regularly feeding his people again. This sounds dubious at best and those who have been leading any protests or pushing for more legislative power from the opposition side will likely soon wind up in dungeons. The second, even more far fetched possibility is foreign military intervention to overthrow the government and set up some sort of transitional administration. Anybody want to sign up for that duty? I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting.

      And that leaves perhaps the ugliest option. A revolution coming from the streets where the citizens somehow manage to overcome the well armed government forces and essentially hang Maduro from a meat hook on the streets of Caracas like a modern day il Duce. The death toll to the rebels would be horrendous and even if they succeeded… what then? There are multiple opposition groups representing very different factions and ideologies out there. Would internal warfare immediately follow until some sort of 21st century Robespierre arose from the blood soaked ashes and instituted a new Reign of Terror? If history teaches us anything, that possibility can’t be discounted and is likely more of a probability at this point.

      This would normally be the portion of the essay where I raise my hand, point out how all of these proposals have shortcomings and offer a better solution of my own. No such luck here, sports fans. I don’t have a clue how to fix this. As far as I can tell, the people of Venezuela are pretty much out of luck and nearly out of time. You can offer them your prayers, but not much more than that at this point. We are once again watching how socialism ends, and it never, ever, ever ends well.

      At least they don't have nukes.

  27. Replies

    1. "Obama total for 8 years: $97 Million."

      My ass!

      Trust CNN Much?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Replies
    1. C'mon, surely you can do better than such nitpicking.


    2. He thinks CNN runs on Truth Serum.

    3. Ah, I see.

      Bunch of Commie News Network bullshit.

      I should have known.

    4. .

      He thinks CNN runs on Truth Serum.

      Tell it to the Sun-Sentinel, Whiner-boy. Maybe they can crowd-fund you a binky.



    5. .


      ...a new binky...


    6. :)

      Quirk has recovered his sense of humor !

      Rejoice !!

    7. Is a recovery of some good sense too much to hope for ?

      We hope not !

  29. On North Korea, the 'Trump doctrine' is flexibility at its finest

    Dr. Raymond Tanter served as a senior member on the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Edward Stafford is a retired Foreign Service officer; he served in Political-Military Affairs at the State Department, as a diplomat with the U.S. Embassy in Turkey, and taught at the Inter-American Defense College.

  30. Deuce's man Trump:

    "At a White House Easter celebration on Monday, Trump was asked if he had a message for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and replied: "Gotta behave.""

    Now there is enlightened foreign policy for you. Bob soaks it up and basks in the goal of its simple brilliance.

    1. .

      The operative word is 'simple'.

      The oxymoron is 'brilliance'.


    2. That should read 'glow' not 'goal', Simpleton.

      Other than that, Kim should behave, like all the other responsible nations are doing.

      You like misbehavior, Ash ?

      Are you still a rebellious young punk ?

      I just heard on Fox that Kim has one prison camp larger than Washington, D.C.

      Kim would know what to do with you, Ash.

      Work you to death for mouthing off just once.

      The whole situation is hellish.

    3. I am adding North Korea to the list of places I am offering to send Quirk, one way, free.

    4. There he can dialogue with Kim and save the situation for the world.

      We know he must have a better plan than anyone, because no one else knows shit.

  31. Bob soaks it up and basks in the goal of its simple brilliance.

    Bob soaks it up and basks in the gaol of its simple brilliance.

    Bob soaks it up and basks in the glow of its simple brilliance.

    Take your pick.

    1. Now that is simply brilliant, Ash.

      Canada is a country that behaves, follows international norms, etc. signed the Non Proliferation Treaty, doesn't threaten its neighbors, has no massive prison camps....

      Why would you object so to our President suggesting North Korea do the same ?

      Seems perfectly legitimate to me.

  32. Ash may not remember it but Bill Clinton had a deal with North Korea.

    North Korea broke it of course.

    Now they have tested real nuclear weapons.

  33. Bill Clinton Paved the Way for a Nuclear North Korea

    On Oct. 18, 1994, Clinton approved a plan to arrange more than $4 billion in energy aid to North Korea over the course of a decade, in return for a commitment from the country’s Communist leadership to freeze and gradually dismantle its nuclear weapons development program, according to The New York Times.

    The “complex” deal was to de-escalate the situation on the Korean peninsula, where the two Korean nations never negotiated a peace treaty after the Korean War ended in armistice in 1953.

    “This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world,” said Clinton in 1994. “It’s a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community.”

    The drawing-in never happened. North Korea has become more isolated and dangerous. And after years of furtive activity in North Korea, attempts to placate the Communist state seem to have only encouraged its dangerous leaders.

    1. No doubt the Norks benefited from the LORAL - Chicom giveaway, also.

      Bill Clinton Collected Donations, Then US Missile Tech Shipped To China

    2. Thanks for filling the young pup Ash in, Doug, and the old dog Quirk, too.

  34. US President Trump has reversed his stance on a number of foreign policy issues, including NATO, Russia, and China. This leaves citizens in the United States and worldwide more unsure than ever of what to expect from the coming months and years.


    The size of these arsenals, however, pales in comparison to each country’s peak inventory during the Cold War: The US had 31,255 in 1967, and the Soviet Union had 40,159 in 1986.


    Several countries had nuclear weapons or weapons programs that were subsequently abandoned. Three factors contributed to these forfeitures: changes in geopolitical circumstances that decreased the need for nuclear deterrence, pressure from a major power that provided a guarantee under its own nuclear umbrella, and outside intervention that resulted in destruction of the weapons programs.

    Tests would be Suicidal

  35. Earlier on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warned that North Korea's attempts to develop nuclear missiles that could reach the United States and Australia posed an "unacceptable" risk to the region, and must be stopped.


    Ms Bishop said it was crucial China recognised that North Korea's growing belligerence was not to its benefit.

    "It's certainly not in China's interests to allow a nuclear-armed North Korea to threaten its neighbours or the United States. This could lead to extraordinary instability, which could even lead to conflict."

  36. Thomas Kuchel

    During the 1966 California gubernatorial primary, Thomas Kuchel was urged by moderates to run against conservative actor Ronald Reagan. Citing the hostilities of the growing conservative movement, Kuchel decided not to run. He instead issued a statement citing that the conservatives were,

    "A fanatical neo-fascist political cult of right-wingers in the GOP, driven by a strange mixture of corrosive hatred and sickening fear that is recklessly determined to control our party or destroy it!"


  37. Deputies: Man tried to swallow meth, pot that fell from colostomy bag during arrest

  38. Muslim advocacy group gets letter with page of Quran smeared with possible feces

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says its Washington, D.C. headquarters received a letter Monday that included a page of the Quran that was smeared with what it believes is feces and a picture of former President Barack Obama depicted as a monkey.

    In a press release, CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, described the letter as "racist" and " Islamophobic."

    The letter began with an altered family photo with monkey heads replacing the human bodies. The child in the photo had President Obama's face photoshopped onto his body.
    Below the photo is the following text:

    "We are very pleased to inform the media that we have located Obama's parents who are alive and well residing in the African Congo. This discovery was substantiated by Mr. Lawrence Godfrey of the British Geographical Society dated March 20, 2014."

    The letter concludes with a picture of Obama's face photoshopped onto the body of a monkey with the phrase "Primate in Chief" written above it.

    The letter came from Michigan
    but had a fake return address and will be turned over to law enforcement, according to CAIR.

    CAIR says this letter is part of the “almost daily” attacks on Muslims and minorities in the United States.