Republican liars

Republican snowflakes hide from their constituents

When you have no answers, questions are to be avoided at all costs:

It’s not that there isn’t time for such meetings, it’s just that many in North Carolina’s congressional delegation, like many others around the nation, simply don’t want to face angry and confused constituents. They’ve seen and read the reports of the raucous confrontations and are doing all they can to avoid those difficult scenes.

On the chopping block: NC retiree health care benefits

Austerity for some, tax cuts for others:

The Joint Legislative Committee on the Unfunded Liability of the Retiree Health Benefit Fund shall examine the following options for reducing the unfunded liability of the Fund:

(1) Increasing the assets in the Retiree Health Benefit Fund through appropriation by the General Assembly.
(2) Increasing the costs of retiree benefits borne by the federal government, by means such as the automatic enrollment of Medicare‑eligible retirees in Medicare Advantage or the offering of financial incentives to early retirees to obtain insurance through the health insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act.
(3) Reducing the State's future liability by transitioning the State's retiree health benefit from a defined benefit approach to a defined contribution model.
(4) Reducing the number of persons eligible for retiree benefits by increasing the service time requirements for the benefit or by eliminating the benefit for certain groups.
(5) Requiring employees to contribute to the Retiree Health Benefit Fund, as they do to the Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System.
(6) Increasing the amount that retirees pay for their health benefits by means such as increasing premiums or out‑of‑pocket costs.
(7) Any other proposals for reducing the unfunded liability of the Fund identified by the Committee.

The reason 3-6 are italicized is because 1&2 were merely put there to make people think everything's on the table. Again, classic bait-and-switch. Like when you get that "You are a winner!" glossy bullshit notice in the mail, where you've either won a fancy new automobile, $25,000 cash, an all-expense-paid vacation to Cabo San Lucas, or a free photographic portrait sitting, where you end up either stalking out with a frowny-face or ordering $75 worth of pictures. This is a frowny-face bill, and SEANC needs to start lighting torches and sharpening pitchforks.

USDA under Trump scrubs animal welfare information from website

If you want to know, you'll have to file a FOIA:

It just became nearly impossible to know what's happening to animals in zoos, puppy mills and research laboratories.

Information about the roughly 9,000 facilities related to animals protected under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) — including SeaWorld, dog breeders and puppy mills, zoos, circuses (including Ringling Bros.) and taxpayer-funded animal testing labs, among others — was removed from the USDA website on Friday.

I've been blogging here for going on ten years, and very often my search for reliable and up-to-date information leads me to one or more of the Federal agencies. More than just informative, their websites serve as a repository for related research, much of it done by institutions outside of government. But it appears that goldmine of information may be about to play out, as Trump's tiny hands dig deeper into the soil of these departments. This need to control information flow is frightening, and (again) closely resembles actions taken by tyrants in the not-free world. Pay attention, or there may be nothing left to pay attention to.

The dangers of having a Liar-In-Chief in the White House

The downside could be fatal for many:

Lying from the Oval Office carries far graver consequences than fibs from the penthouse at Trump Towers. Presidential lies aren’t trivial quibbles over the size of the crowd at an event or how many votes won in an election. Imagined, or hoped-for facts cannot become the basis for policies and laws that have consequences beyond the stage-managed world of reality TV.

They are about life-and-death: which refugees will find safety when they flee their war-torn homes; which of our nation’s allies the U.S. will defend against foreign aggression and our nation’s armed service personnel will legitimately put into situations by a Commander and Chief who may require the ultimate sacrifice.

I did two hitches in the Army, and all except the last month or two were under Ronald Reagan. Many of us were certain that Ronnie would take us into a major conflict, but (luckily for me) that didn't happen until a few years after he left office. But Trump is no Reagan, and I can't imagine what's going through the minds of our active duty troops right now. War with Russia? Friends with Russia? We just sent some boots into Yemen and lost an American soldier, but the Liar-In-Chief was too busy attacking his imaginary enemies on Twitter to even acknowledge the sacrifice. The truth is, he doesn't care. He doesn't care about anybody but himself, and that does not bode well for any of us, even if you're not a Muslim or a military member with your rucksack packed and ready to go. That level of casual disregard puts us all in jeopardy.

Fascism Watch: The rise of the propagandists

We've always been at war with Eastasia:

Donald Trump ran a campaign built almost exclusively on lies and demagoguery, so it stands to reason that his presidency will usher in a new era of deceitful propaganda as well. It could very well dwarf the George W. Bush administration’s infamous propaganda push around the Iraq War.

As detailed in a recent report from Media Matters, is that Trump can rely on a pre-existing infrastructure of well-funded conspiracy theorists, like Alex Jones, James O’Keefe, and David Daleiden, who pose as “citizen journalists” and pump out a steady stream of lies and misinformation to support the Trump agenda.

The United States has had its share of demagogues over the years, but none have surpassed Trump in his ability to create a narrative out of thin air, and have millions fall for it immediately. And the Liar in Chief has learned a valuable (to him) lesson: He doesn't have to study an issue, or have advisors coach him on how to deal with it. Whatever pops into his twisted mind becomes the reality, and the only people who are delusional are those who question him. And if you're making the wrong assumption that Congress will keep him in check, consider these events:

Counting the costs of a deceptive, opaque Governor

mccroryfrown.jpg

And you thought raising your children was expensive:

Gov. Pat McCrory’s office has spent more than $230,000 on an outside law firm to defend itself in a public records lawsuit filed in 2015 by a media coalition, according to billing invoices.

McCrory’s office provided the records Thursday after The Charlotte Observer filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking the information. The paper filed the complaint after the governor did not respond to a records request in October seeking the invoices from Charlotte’s Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, as well as all correspondence to the law firm.

Get that? They had to file a lawsuit, just to find out how much (taxpayer) money had been spent on other lawsuits. We (the public) are paying dearly to block our own access to information that should have been provided to us without hesitation. It's so absurd it's hard to wrap your mind around it. And so is this:

GOP shenanigans continue: Another "Special" session begins at 2:00 today

The Burr in our side: Keeping torture a secret

We can read your phone, but you can't read our reports:

Many people do not realize that the roughly 500-page summary of the Senate report that was declassified and made public at the end of 2014 is only a small part of the story. The full report remains classified. It is one of the largest reports in Senate history, and it is by far the most thorough account of what happened during a dark period when waterboarding and other brutal techniques were used and given legal cover — a decision by the George W. Bush administration that President Obama wisely reversed.

However, after Republicans took control of the Senate, the new chairman, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, took the unusual step of trying to recall the full report that Senator Feinstein had distributed — to prevent it from ever being widely read or declassified.

Burr is definitely a piece of work. And he makes a mockery of the GOP's constant refrain/rhetoric of, "The Federal government is out of control, and shouldn't have so much power!" Burr is trying to force a private company to develop a code that will unlock all our smart phones, and he intends to allow law enforcement entities nationwide to use that code as they see fit. Which (of course) means that hackers will have that code by noon the next day, but Dick Burr doesn't care about that.

Living in the age of "The Liar in Chief"

A constantly-changing version of reality:

When asked on ABC News to either justify with fact Trump’s statement about illegal voters or acknowledge that it was a misstatement, Vice President-elect Mike Pence was belligerent. “I don’t know that that is a false statement, George (Stephanopoulos), and neither do you!”

The media is still getting it wrong about Hillary

The myth of her dishonesty is alive and kicking:

Trump was a much more prolific liar, but his lies were, by comparison, benign: boastful exaggerations, hyperbole about issues, times when he simply didn’t know what he was talking about.

Clinton’s lies were about serious matters – about classified materials on emails, about Benghazi, and the things she had said in speeches on Wall Street that were different from things she said to voters. People didn’t trust her, and she kept giving them reasons not to trust her.

The author is the former Editor of Char-O's editorial page and a novelist, much lauded for both. But his attempt to convince readers Trump's victory does not herald an upsurge in racism, and that it's merely a rejection of his flawed opponent, is both naive and embarrassing. Clinton did not lie about classified e-mails, but Republicans on the House panel "investigating" her surely did. And for this guy to even mention Benghazi proves his information sources were tainted beyond recovery. After thousands of hours of posturing, the Benghazi Committee produced zero (nada, nothing) evidence of wrongdoing on her part. But that doesn't fit the narrative of "there is no racism, it was Clinton's fault" this man set out to prove in his little essay. By far, the biggest loser in this election was (and apparently still is) the truth.

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