Friday Funny

One of a series

Last week’s Friday funny (see the link above) reminded me of this. I apologize. I do not have the original news item. It’s from 30 years back, but I can still relate the essentials from memory. It goes like this:

Conroe, Texas (why does this stuff always happen in Texas?). A 72-year old man was arrested for solicitation of prostitution. He had to phone his mother to come and bail him out.

And that is funny. Embarrassing, as well.

Snowflake-in-Chief

New game in town

This series is titled Snowflake-in-Chief for a reason. The administration of Donald Trump has been the skowflakeist in recent memory, making for interesting reporting and even more interesting watching. This came up on CNN yesterday. It was a panel discussion hosted by Don Lemon  (CNN) and featuring the following:

  • Ben Ferguson, host of the Ben Ferguson Show (upper left)
  • Angela Rye, former Executive Director Congressional Black Caucus (upper right)
  • Paris Dennard, CNN political commentator—Director of Black Outreach for President George W. Bush (lower left)
  • Symone Sanders, former press sectary for Bernie Sanders (lower right)

What unloaded all this was a back and forth between reporter April Ryan and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. It is not news that the FBI is investigating possible collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. Ryan was asking a question and was being too persistent. The result is today’s source of humor. From NBC News:

Stop Shaking Your Head’: Sean Spicer Lashes Out at Reporter April Ryan

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer snapped at a female reporter on Tuesday over a question about the administration’s image, telling the veteran White House correspondent to “stop shaking your head” — a snide comment that drew rebuke from Hillary Clinton and several prominent women journalists.

Spicer got into a heated exchange with American Urban Radio Networks’ correspondent April Ryan at the White House press briefing after the reporter asked how President Donald Trump’s administration would work to repair its image.

Ryan followed up with a question about Trump’s meeting with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whom Trump made a vulgar comment about in 2006.

Spicer then accused Ryan of wanting to push an agenda, telling her from the podium to “stop shaking your head.”

“April, hold on, it seems like you’re hell-bent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays,” he said.

“I’m sorry, please stop shaking your head again,” he added.

A reporter should stop shaking her head? Good thing Spicer didn’t notice I was shaking my head while I watched this on YouTube. What is equally interesting, maybe more so, was the response of panel members Ferguson and Dennard. Both have a conservative bent, to say the least, and both jumped in to prop up the administration.

Lemon: Paris, I know you want to jump in. He became annoyed [for asking the question], how is he [Trump] going to revamp his image, given the rocky start this administration has had. Is that a reasonable question for her to ask?

Dennard: No, I don’t think it was an unreasonable question to ask, if that had been the only question. I think it was a series of questions, back to back to back, and that she was not giving him a chance to  answer the questions. And oft times what happens is, when you give an answer these journalists do not like, they continue and press and press until they try to get you to answer the way they want you to answer.

Lemon: That’s what a reporter does…

I’m with Lemon on this. I am not a reporter, but when I ask somebody a question, and they make an attempt at evasion, then I get to thinking there’s something more here, and I  press for details—something to back up what the person has just told me. Sometimes I ask peripheral questions, when all the while the question I want to ask is “What did you do with the body?”

At the heart of the matter is Trump’s charge back on 4 March that President Obama ordered wire taps on his (Trump’s) phones in Trump Tower. That has devolved into  multiple (another way of saying unanimous) reports back from the Justice Department that no such order was given, nor could it have been given by a president. That migrated into the matter coming before  the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, headed up by Devin  Nunes, Republican congressman from California and previously a member of the Trump administration transition team. At a point a few days ago Congressman Nunes saw fit to get himself to the White House with the errand of reporting to President Trump that a review of intelligence documents revealed transition team members had been recorded during monitoring by American intelligence agencies. Trump quickly leveraged this revelation into vindication of his original claim, and subsequently Nunes was back on the White House grounds receiving additional information. As a side note, practically all Democrats and some Republicans in the government see these goings on as evidence Nunes has allegiance to the administration and not to the Committee. Under this pressure, Secretary Spicer turned unusually prickly, even for him.

An item appearing in The Week elaborates further:

Ryan was reminding Spicer of all the Russia-related news the White House is dealing with — the scuttled Sally Yates testimony, President Trump’s widely dismissed claims he was wiretapped at Trump Tower, the broader Russia investigation — and Spicer cut it, rejecting the premise. “No, we don’t ‘have’ that,” he said. “I’ve said it from the day that I got here until whenever that there’s not a connection. You’ve got Russia. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that’s a Russian connection.”

Nevertheless, Ryan persisted. Spicer selectively insisted that everyone has dismissed reports of Trump-Russia collusion, despite the ongoing FBI investigation, and told Ryan, “I’m sorry that that disgusts you. You’re shaking your head.” He accused her of pursuing an “agenda” and ignoring “facts,” and when she changed subjects to ask about a White House visit by Condoleezza Rice, Spicer accused Ryan of being “hellbent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays,” adding again: “Please, stop shaking your head again.”

Yes, reporter for the American Urban Radio Networks April Ryan, quit shaking your head when the press secretary evades your questions and dresses you down. Ryan recalled her impressions following the briefing:

“I’ve been here for 20 years, since 1997, the second term of Bill Clinton,” Ryan told MSNBC’s Katy Tur afterwards. “We’ve never seen anything like this before. And my question was simple. How do you change the perception problem basically? I don’t know verbatim what I said, but that was the impetus and the crux of my question. And it went off into this Russian dressing, no shaking my head or whatever.”

“I understand what Sean is doing,” Ryan said, “Sean is being the White House press secretary talking about and trying to make this administration look better than what it does right now. Unfortunately, I was roadkill today.”

Ben Ferguson was the other panelist to push back, to defend the administration:

Ferguson: First, he didn’t lash out at her. He defended the White House, and I think there is one thing that the press sometimes does, especially in the White House. They act as if somehow they’re above the average American person, or they’re somehow better than other people, or they’re elitists, or they’re special.

Right. A person, selected by a responsible news organization selects from its cadre a qualified reporter to attend these White House briefings, where often the most critical news affecting the planet gets disclosed. And then these reporters are expected to humble themselves and act like Archie Bunker next door. What does that remind me of? Oh, yes:

A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.

There have been times in the past when a reporter needed to get hard nosed with the President of the United States:

During Richard Nixon‘s presidency, critics accused Rather of biased coverage against him. At a Houston news conference in March 1974, Nixon fielded a question from Rather, still CBS’s White House correspondent, who said, “Thank you, Mr. President. Dan Rather, of CBS News.” The room filled with jeers and applause, prompting Nixon to joke, “Are you running for something?” Rather replied, “No, sir, Mr. President. Are you?” In his question, Rather accused Nixon of not cooperating with the grand jury investigation and the House Judiciary Committee in relation to the Watergate scandal.

Do we need snippy White House Correspondents, such as April Ryan, even today? Especially today. You go, April.

Priorities With A Capital P

Breaking news

Caught this coming over the wire from CNN:

TOM BRADY’S MISSING SUPER BOWL 51 JERSEY LOCATED BY FBI, NFL SECURITY

The mystery of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady‘s missing Super Bowl 51 jersey has been solved, the NFL announced on Monday morning.

My heart raced upon learning of this latest break in the weeks-old saga. I owe it up to you, readers, to fill you in on the very latest concerning this national crisis.

Wait! What am I thinking? From The New York Times:

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea conducted a ground jet test of a newly developed high-thrust missile engine, the country’s state-run news media said on Sunday, even as Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson is in the region discussing tougher strategies to help end the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

The Korean Central News Agency said the test took place at the same northwest facility where the country has been launching rockets to put satellites into orbit, which Western officials have said were efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile.

From CNN:

Russian fighter jets ‘buzz’ US warship in Black Sea, photos show

From ABC News:

FBI head has ‘no information’ backing wiretap claims, confirms probe of possible links between Russia and Trump associates

By MIKE LEVINE

The Ever-Diminishing List of Those Who Cannot Obtain Life Insurance at any Price

One of a continuing series

War-StrikeDaeshEscapingFallujah

Let’s have another look at that list. Who’s left? Just Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, Hatim Talib al-Hamduni, and a bunch of others. Wait, that’s the list from yesterday:

(CNN) — Two ISIS senior military commanders died last week in a U.S. airstrike, killing a man that the United States says oversaw the terror group’s 2014 offensive to capture the all-important Iraqi city of Mosul, the Pentagon said Friday.

The June 25 airstrike near Mosul killed ISIS’ deputy minister of war, Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, and Hatim Talib al-Hamduni, a military commander in the area, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

Two years ago President Obama characterized ISIS, more properly known as “Daesh,” as “junior varsity.” He always seemed overly generous to me.

Replacements for Mr. al-Bajari and Mr. al-Hamduni have yet to be named. To replace Deputy Minister of War al-Bajari, Daesh will require a candidate with five or more weeks of demonstrated experience commanding collected bands of college dropouts, psychopathic killers, and others known for making unfortunate life choices. The candidate will also be required to demonstrate the ability to draw up battle plans having a duration of two hours or more, plus the highly valued skill of giving commands while keeping a straight face. A paid-up life insurance policy is a must.

The candidate to replace Mr. al-Hamduni as military commander will need to possess an immense level of credulity, a demonstrated history of not asking too many embarrassing questions, and also the ability to look 25 minutes into the future. Paid up life insurance is a plus.

Sanity Attack

Your state of mind at risk

Politics-MaryLouBruner

I need to alert readers to a recent and dangerous attack of sanity. This occurred in my home state of Texas. However, there is a potential this can spread to other regions, so people should be on the lookout for signs of sanity creeping into their neighborhoods. From The Texas Tribune:

In a stunning comeback, State Board of Education hopeful Keven Ellis won Tuesday’s District 9 Republican primary runoff over Mary Lou Bruner, who drew national attention for social media posts touting far-right conspiracy theories and other fringe views.

The East Texas Tea Party activist and former schoolteacher had been favored to succeed in the race after nearly winning the March 1 primary outright and accumulating heavy support from influential conservative groups that typically hold big sway in low-turnout runoff elections. But Ellis, a Lufkin chiropractor who presides over the local school board, maintained a double-digit lead over Bruner throughout Tuesday night, and that lead widened as vote returns rolled in. He ended the night about 18 points ahead of Bruner.

I know this may be distressing to some readers, but people need to know that sanity can attack at any moment without warning. The signs are there, and people should know how to recognize them:

  • Obama did not work as a male prostitute.
  • The United States should not ban Islam.
  • The Democratic Party did not kill President Kennedy.
  • Anthropogenic global warming is real.
  • Biological evolution is valid science.
  • The Earth is not flat.

If you notice your child, other family member, even a close friend, voicing such thoughts, notify authorities. This person is afflicted with sanity. Exercise extreme caution. It may already be too late to help the victim. Take immediate steps to protect yourself. Tune in to Fox News for additional details.

The Ever-Diminishing List of Those Who Cannot Obtain Life Insurance at any Price

One of a continuing series

War-AbuWahibKilled

Is the list really getting shorter? Only God knows:

Washington (CNN) – The Pentagon said Monday that the “military emir of Anbar” Abu Wahib was targeted in what the Pentagon believes was a “successful” coalition airstrike.

The attack took place on May 6 near Rutbah in Western Iraq.
Abu Wahib, a key ISIS figure, was traveling with three others in a vehicle at the time of the strike, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.
“ISIL leadership has been hit hard by coalition efforts and this is another example of that,” Cook said, using another term for ISIS. “It is dangerous to be an ISIL leader in Iraq and Syria these days and for good reason.”

Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr cautioned viewers that in the past reports of Mr. Wahib’s death have been premature. Only his insurance agent knows for sure:

On 6 May 2016, the Pentagon said Abu Waheeb was killed along with three others in a vehicle by a US airstrike that targeted an ISIS gathering in the center of Rutba, which is the eighth time there has been an announcement of his death.

Supposedly Wahib had been a member of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) from the get go, but there is no mention of him in Michael Weiss’s analytical book on ISIS and its formation. Mr. Wahib’s insurance agent could not be reached for comment.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks. Just keep on moving.

Fox6now.com

Fox6now.com

You never know when you’re going to need one. For example, suppose you’re driving down Highway 175 in Wisconsin, and you’ve got your kid in the back seat. What are you going to do if an ISIS terrorist yanks open the passenger side door and gets in, threating to kill you and the kid. Remember, this is a terrorist who got into this country because Islamic President Barack Obama instructed the CIA to look the other way when these guys cross the bridge into Texas at Laredo.

Well, if your’e prepared, you have already taken care of such an eventuality. You have your trusty handgun with you, safely out of the way in the back seat so the kid can keep and eye on it and flip it to you the instant the ISIS terrorist makes a play to get into the car.

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office says witness accounts indicate a child in the back seat of a vehicle in the southbound lanes of Highway 175 on Tuesday morning, April 26th, got hold of a gun and discharged the firearm. That sent a single bullet into the driver’s back.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene around 10:30 a.m. They found a 26-year-old woman had suffered a gunshot wound. She was did not have a pulse and was not breathing.

Deputies began CPR until the Milwaukee Fire Department arrived on the scene. However, the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Remember, the United States Constitution gives you the inalienable right to have this weapon for your protection, or even on a whim. So, how’s that working out?

Uncle Bye-Bye

Yes, it is a continuing series.

General Ri Yong-gil, chief of the North Korean Army's general staff, was executed.

General Ri Yong-gil, chief of the North Korean Army’s general staff, was executed.

The truth is, it’s getting hard for me to keep on top of these. Here’s the latest:

Seoul (CNN)A senior North Korean military leader has been executed for “factionalism, misuse of authority and corruption,” a South Korean government official with knowledge of North Korean affairs told CNN Thursday.

The official, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, declined to give further details on how or when General Ri Yong-gil, chief of the North Korean Army’s general staff, was executed.

Ri was appointed to the position in 2013, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

One source told Yonhap that Ri was executed last week.

Yes, “factionalism, misuse of authority and corruption,” those are the things that could get even a sitting United States Senator executed. The difference between the United States and North Korea (DPRK) is that they are much more efficient. Furthermore, the DPRK is not so daft enough as to indulge blood lines as a barrier:

Uncertainty after North Korea announces execution of leader’s uncle
By Jethro Mullen and Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 10:58 AM EST, Fri December 13, 2013

(CNN) — As the shock sinks in of North Korea’s extraordinary announcement of the execution of leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle and former protector, government officials and analysts are trying to decipher what the brutal move means.

The ruthless disposal of Jang Song Thaek — Kim’s uncle by marriage who had, until recently, been regarded as the second-most powerful figure in the secretive, nuclear-armed nation — has serious implications for North Korea, its neighbors and the United States, observers said.

But exactly what is going on inside the notoriously opaque North Korea regime remains as murky as ever.

As Forrest Gump would have said, if anybody had asked him, “Murky is as murky does.” Some things are not exactly clear:

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

Yes, children, in the DPRK it pays to keep your head down.

Politicians Unclear

One of a continuing series

BenCarson-01

What is interesting to note is that we elected (some of) these people, and we pay (some of) their salaries. We have only our selves to blame.

Not all those unclear being raked over here are professional politicians. That is, some have never held public office and have not previously been on the public dole. However, if you run for office, ta-da, you’re a politician. Welcome to the club.

So what’s wrong with politicians these days? Same as before. Same as always. If not outright liars, a typical politician is often unclear of that about which he speaks. This includes women politicians, in case I left that unclear. I will start with last night’s political debate in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Associated Press performed some painful fact checking, disclosing a considerable lack of clarity. I will summarize:

DONALD TRUMP: “Right now, we’re the highest taxed country in the world.”

The AP fact checkers(Josh Boak and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar plus Alicia A. Caldwell, Deb Riechmann, Eric Tucker and Vivian Salama) beg to disagree. Here is how some countries stack up with respect to taxes stated as a fraction of the GDP:

  • United States — 26.9%
  • Sweden — 45.8%
  • United Kingdom — 39%
  • Spain — 37.3%
  • Israel — 36.8%
  • Italy — 42.6%
  • Germany — 40.6%
  • France — 44.6%

The list goes on. Maybe Mr. Trump is thinking about only countries on the North American Continent. Like Panama and others:

  • Panama — 10.6%
  • Mexico — 19.7%

But there is:

  • Canada — 32.2%

Does Mr. Trump live in the United States? Does Mr. Trump pay any taxes? The world wonders. The world wonders whether Mr. Trump is stupid or dishonest. The truth be known, I prefer a dishonest person. You can reason with them.

The AP further reports the following from Texas Senator Ted Cruz:

CRUZ, defending his vow to deport 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally: “I would note that in eight years Bill Clinton deported 12 million people. In eight years George Bush deported 10 million people. Enforcing the law. We can do it.”

THE FACTS: Statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that roughly 1.6 million were deported under Bush, not 11 million. Under Clinton, about 870,000 immigrants were deported, not 12 million, according to the Migration Policy Institute. So far, about 2.4 million have been deported under the Obama administration.

To get the swollen figures, Cruz appears to be combining deportations with arrests made by the Border Patrol in the previous administrations, according to the institute.

Enough said about that. Again, I prefer a liar to a fool.

Trump again. From the AP story:

TRUMP: “The insurance companies are getting rich on Obamacare.”

Not quite, according to the AP fact checkers. A closer read of the facts reveals a different story. In particular, the ACA has not been kind to the insurance industry, and that’s a failing of President Obama’s key piece of legislation. The ACA depends on private insurers, not on the federal government, and if it doesn’t work for the insurers, it’s not going to work in the long run.

The facts are these: United Health is the largest participant and has been losing money with the ACA exchanges. It will now decide whether to continue its participation. Number two, Anthem, made money, but profits are less than hoped for.

Aetna is having the bad experience of people signing up late. They apparently sign up late because:

  • They fail to sign up initially because they are not having any health problems that require insurance coverage.
  • At the onset of an ailment requiring insurance they sign up and suck on the insurance company to cover their expenses.
  • The ones who failed to sign up originally and never suffer any medical expenses never sign up and do not pay into the premium pool.

Full disclosure: Aetna carries my medical insurance under Medicare.

The AP reports that 12 of the 23 nonprofit insurers working under the ACA have gone out of business. The insurance business relies on the following:

  • Everybody pays premiums.
  • People suffering a loss draw on the insurance company’s funds.
  • People who do not suffer a loss pay the same premiums as those who do, subsidizing the others.

The AKA is supposed to cover the expenses of those who do not pay premiums by levying a fine on those who do not. A Supreme Court ruling in 2012 held that this “fine” was actually a tax, which the federal government has the power to assess, in this case by way of the ACA. How the government reimburses insurance providers that are shafted by late subscribers is not clear to me. What is important is to keep the insurance companies participating in the plan, and one way to do that is to ensure they do not lose money. In on respect, Mr. Trump is correct. The insurance companies are supposed to make money under the ACA. A key to getting the legislation passed in the first place was the support of the industry. If the insurance industry does not make money, then support for the ACA will swiftly erode.

Regarding Mr. Trump, I was hoping here for a liar rather than a fool. The nation can tolerate a liar in the White House. A fool is another matter.

The AP reports that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey made the following declaration:

The president and his former secretary of state are for paying ransoms for hostages. When (you) do that, you endanger even more Americans around the world to be the subject of this type of hostage-taking and illegal detention.

 

There must be something in the drinking water in New Jersey, because neither the AP fact checkers nor I nor anybody else on this planet have found anything to substantiate this assertion. Hopefully the Governor is merely lying out of the other side of his face.

Senator Cruz again:

We will adopt commonsense reforms, No. 1, we’ll allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines that will drive down prices and expand the availability of low-cost catastrophic insurance.

Nah! That’s never going to happen. Insurance companies are regulated on a state-by-state basis, and state regulators are never going to tolerate the government of a rogue state setting the insurance policies for people of their state. It is quite possible that in this matter Senator Cruz has crossed over the line separating the liar and the fool. That does not speak well for the people of Texas who elected him in 2012.

Senator Marco Rubio seemed to be confused about the religiosity of Kurd fighters. He seemed not to realize the Kurds are predominately Sunni. All right! This is a point that was not clear even to me. However, Senator Rubio is a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence. This assignment should require some deep knowledge of foreign affairs. This may be another case of a politician crossing that odious line between the liar and the fool.

Senator Cruz again:

When I say saturation carpet bombing, that is not indiscriminate. That is targeted at oil facilities. It’s targeted at the oil tankers… It’s using overwhelming air power.

Hopefully, should Senator Cruz ever become President Cruz, somebody will sidle up next to him and fill him in on the military definition of carpet bombing. We can dream.

This account was drawn from a debate among Republican candidates. Do I believe Democrats have similar issues? Does Cruz pray on his knees? I will have the lowdown on Clinton and Sanders and more in a future post.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Don’t drop the soap.

One of a continuing series

EthanCouchCNN

I should have been so lucky. Growing up I quickly learned that shit flows downhill, and that if any shit got dished I was going to be the one to get the first serving. We now know there are others less encumbered:

In December 2013, Judge Jean Hudson Boyd sentenced [Ethan] Couch to therapy at a long-term, in-patient facility, after his attorneys successfully argued that the teen suffered from “affluenza” and needed rehabilitation instead of prison. His sentence set off what the New York Times called “an emotional, angry debate that has stretched far beyond the North Texas suburbs”.

What Judge Boyd said, essentially, was that young Ethan was disadvantaged. He did not have the advantage I had growing up. He was denied being told that shit flows downhill, and as a result he was unaware there were consequences for personal actions. Poor kid.

Ethan’s ten-year probation for the crime of killing four people in a drunk-driving collision came to an abrupt end on 11 December, at which time Ethan, along with his mother Tonya Couch, disappeared from the view of the parole board. Gone, as well, were their passports.

The upshot of this unscheduled disappearance is that Ethan is now in violation of his probation and subject to immediate incarceration, with the possibility of having to serve the entire time of his probated sentence in a Texas facility. Tonya Couch, complicit in Ethan’s evasion of the law, now becomes a criminal in her own right, soon to become aware that shit does flow downhill.

Surprise! Unless your name is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, you need to know that you can run, but you can’t hide. Mexican police yesterday announced they had latched on to Ma Barker and her gang of one in the resort town of  Puerto Vallarta. People in this country may not realize it, but Mexico does have a problem with illegal aliens, and the Couch gang seems to be emblematic of these. We can expect to see the criminal pair back in a Texas court before the years is out:

Prosecutors had requested that Couch be sentenced to 20 years behind bars. The judge’s decision to give him probation instead of jail time was controversial at the time, and more so after the recent video appeared to show the teen playing a drinking game at a party.

District Attorney Sharen Wilson has said it “certainly looks like him” in the video, but added that without further investigation, the video alone did not prove he violated his probation.

But leaving the county and not meeting his probation officer are violations, she said.

“The video” in question is one that may or may not show Ethan Couch in violation of his probation by attending a drinking party. That matter is now moot. The offense of evading probation and leaving the country will hopefully dish up some real jail time, and not for just a few months. I remind Ethan Couch about shit flowing downhill, and I also caution him to not drop the soap.