May 5, 2015 archive

The Proof Is In; Texas Has Been Taken Over By Idiots

It’s been evident for years that Texas has been becoming more and more radical and not in a good way. Besides being taken over by the Tea Party and the narrow minded Christian right wing, the Texas state government is now pandering to the really wacky conspiracy theorists. Now, don’t take that as all conspiracies are wacky, some have been proven to be quite factual true and not the fiction of some paranoid’s delusions. But this latest theory, that was sparked by a post in the internet by none other than Alex Jones’ “Info Wars,” is beyond bizarre and proof positive that state government has gone off the deep end.

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Guard to monitor federal military exercises in Texas after some citizens have lit up the Internet saying the maneuvers are actually the prelude to martial law.

The operation causing rampant suspicions is a new kind of exercise involving elite teams such as the SEALs and Green Berets from four military branches training over several states from July 15 to Sept. 15

Called Jade Helm 15, the exercise is one of the largest training operations done by the military in response to what it calls the evolving nature of warfare. About 1,200 special operations personnel will be involved and move covertly among the public. They will use military equipment to travel between seven Southwestern states from Texas to California.

On Monday, command spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria attended a Bastrop County Commissioners Court meeting to answer community questions and was met with hostile fire. Lastoria, in response to some of the questions from the 150 who attended, sought to dispel fears that foreign fighters from the Islamic State were being brought in or that Texans’ guns would be confiscated, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman.

Joining in the fun, of course, is Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), presidential candidate and right winger extraordinaire, who is requesting that the Pentagon explain itself:

“My office has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise,” Cruz, a Texas senator, told Bloomberg at the South Carolina Republican Party’s annual convention. “We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.”

There were a couple of sane voices to decry Gov. Greg Abbott’s overreaction, but unfortunately, neither is in office anymore.

The Biiig Chicken

Charlie Pierce is evidently recovering from something or other so I guess that leaves it up to me to slander and libel two of his favorite targets, Tiger Beat On The Potomac and the Biiig Chicken, Chris Christie.

Now it’s obvious why Christie thinks he can get the Republican nomimation because his ego and vanity are just as enormous as he is, but it’s beyond me why anyone else thinks so because he’s not bloodthirsty and psycopathic enough for the Primaries.  Plus all the moderate money he was looking to get from the banksters seems to be flowing Jebbie’s way right now.

But bless Politico and their pointy little heads, they some how think the indictment of 2 of his top aids and guilty plea from another in “Bridgegate” is good news for the man who appears to have eaten Tony Soprano.

Chris Christie’s not-so-terrible day

By Alex Isenstadt, Politico

5/3/15 12:49 PM EDT

The indictments of two former Christie allies in connection to their involvement in the Bridgegate scandal, and a guilty plea from a third, cast a harsh, unflattering light on the New Jersey governor. They rose troubling questions about his administration, and about whether Christie had propagated an environment in which political retaliation wasn’t just tolerated, but was standard operating procedure.

But, as a series of charges were unsealed at a federal court in Newark, there was nothing to suggest that Christie himself was in legal jeopardy. At a press conference on Friday, law enforcement officials overseeing the case repeatedly pushed back on questions about Christie’s involvement in the 2013 plan to shut down two lanes of traffic on the George Washington Bridge as political payback to a local mayor who’d refused to endorse the governor’s reelection campaign.

Those close to the governor believe the airing of the charges gives Christie, who saw his meteoric political rise halted by the scandal, the chance to get his derailed presidential campaign back on track.

“Everyone I know that’s supporting Chris believes it will all be cleaned up and that he’ll be moving on,” said Tom Foley, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and a Christie ally.

Ah, those rose colored glasses.  In fact the news is very bad indeed.

Chris Christie’s problems are just beginning: Why the Bridgegate indictments don’t clear his name

by Robert Hennelly, Salon

Saturday, May 2, 2015 01:59 PM EST

While other Republican presidential contenders get to make their case for why they should lead the country, or take pot shots at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,  New Jersey Governor Christie is doing his best to not let his past define him. But when that  past, in the form of Bridgegate,  continues to dominate the news, that gets  harder and harder to do.

Just wait for the Bridgegate trials to begin.

If Bloomberg News is right, Federal prosecutors haven’t just been going after Bill Baroni, Bridget Anne Kelly, and David Wildstein, all of whom were indicted yesterday on federal corruption charges, and the latter of whom has already pleaded guilty; prosecutors are also apparently looking at former Port Authority Chairman and Christie confidant David Sampson in a separate criminal probe not related to Bridegate, but to allegations Samson tried to shake down United Airlines.

In the meantime, in damage control mode, Christie used Wildstein’s guilty plea and the indictments of Baroni and Kelly, and the fact that he was not himself named in the indictment, as proof that he’s in the clear on Bridgegate. In a statement, Christie said that the “charges make clear what I’ve said from day one is true: I had no knowledge or involvement in the planning or execution of this act.”

Yet just minutes after Wildstein’s guilty plea was formally announced, his lawyer Allan Zegas was serving up red meat for hungry reporters. Zegas relayed to reporters Wildstein’s contrition for his role in the  alleged plot, but before he walked away from the microphones, he re-iterated what he has said before, that “evidence exists that Governor knew of the lane closures while they were occurring.”

Zegas told reporters that Wildstein, one of Christie’s former point men in the Port Authority, had been cooperating for some time with federal prosecutors, had answered thousands of question from them, and was still being questioned. Zegas volunteered also that “there is a lot more that will come out,” all of which he said that Wildstein will be willing to testify about at trial. Wildstein is scheduled to be sentenced in August, but that could be moved until after the trial, when the government and the judge in the case can fully assess just how well Wildstein cooperated with prosecutors.

When U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman was asked directly at yesterday’s press conference about Zegas’s tantalizing comments about Christie, Fishman declined to answer. When Fishman was asked directly if Christie “was in the clear,” he said “I am not sure what that means so I really can’t answer that question.”

The New York Times reports there are lots of gory and unflattering details in the indictment.

U.S. Indictment Details Plotting in New Jersey Bridge Scandal

By KATE ZERNIKE, The New York Times

MAY 1, 2015

The fine-grained intricacies laid out in the legal papers show the three plotting like petulant and juvenile pranksters, using government resources, time and personnel to punish a public official whose sole offense was failing to endorse their political patron. The three were in constant contact, brazenly using government emails, their tone sometimes almost giddy. They even gave the increasingly desperate mayor of Fort Lee their own version of the silent treatment.

The charges reveal the step-by-step, carefully coordinated attention paid by the three associates of the governor to create the perfect traffic jam, a veritable town-size parking lot, one that in the end may have stymied Mr. Christie’s presidential ambitions.

The three then made up a cover story: They would say that they were doing a traffic study so that unwitting Port Authority staff members would go along with the plan, making it appear to be legitimate. That would require some planning and the involvement of unwitting participants.

Mr. Wildstein had a traffic engineer prepare several configurations; Mr. Baroni and Ms. Kelly agreed that the one that funneled three access lanes into a single one would inflict the worst punishment on the mayor, by creating the most severe traffic backup on the streets of Fort Lee. They would steer that lane to a tollbooth that accepted cash as well as E-ZPass; there would be no access to the E-ZPass-only lane that offered a faster commute.

They were ready in August, but Mr. Baroni recommended waiting. After all, traffic tended to be lighter in summer; “the punitive impact would be lessened,” the indictment says. They bided their time. They agreed: They would do it the first day of school, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in order to “intensify Mayor Sokolich’s punishment.”

They agreed not to tell him, or any officials in Fort Lee, so that there would be no time to prepare. It would also, the indictment says, “keep Fort Lee residents and G.W.B. commuters from altering their routes.”

And though the three had agreed on the date, they also agreed not to share it with any Port Authority workers involved in the closings until the Friday before, to avoid any leaks.

More from Robert Hennelly.

The Bridgegate outrage that nobody is talking about

by Robert Hennelly, Salon

Monday, May 4, 2015 04:00 PM EST

Much has already been made of the indictments last week of three former Chris Christie allies on federal corruption charges. However, one thing that has thus far not gotten sufficient recognition, whether in the media or in the indictment itself, is that the criminal conspiracy to engineer a major traffic jam as political payback depended on causing entirely avoidable chaos on one of the nation’s top terrorist targets, not just on any day, but on the anniversary of September 11.

The federal Bridgegate charging documents go into some detail on how “unwitting” Port Authority staffers were used by the conspirators. Did that include the police department? Shouldn’t the public get an answer to that question?

“The fact that [the land closures] went down for four days says all you need to know about the status of the Port Authority’s security,” says Nick Casale former NYPD detective and deputy director of Security for Counter-Terrorism at the MTA. As Casale sees it, the PAPD’s leadership needed to, but didn’t, push back to avoid being sucked into what federal prosecutors say was a criminal conspiracy that ripped off the very agency the Department was supposed to protect. “Why didn’t the police and security brass get involved? Was it that they knew it was just political terrorism and not Islamic terrorism?” At the very least they were used as props, at the very worst they were in on it.

Since September 11, the Port Authority has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on security. Yet high ranking political appointees could just use the George Washington Bridge to create havoc, and use the Port Authority’s police force to help them do it. Whether it was unwitting, in concert, or a mix of both, the fact that political appointees could manipulate the PAPD for  four days in a row needs to be looked at by somebody in law enforcement. From its original creation in 1921, the Port Authority was supposed to transcend  partisan and provincial politics; now it is entirely captive to it.

Cinco de Mayo

Reprinted from 5/5/2012

The name simply means “The Fifth of May” and it’s an oddly U.S. American holiday.

Except in the State of Puebla they don’t much celebrate the victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in Mexico which makes it much more like Patriot’s Day that we here in New England get to celebrate almost every year as an extra filing day (I understand there’s also a foot race in Boston).

Interestingly enough it was a stand up fight against the banksters which they lost (those who do not remember history…).  Some people say that the French intervention was intended to establish a supply line to aid the Slave Owner’s Rebellion (or as the more charitable put it, The War of the Rebellion).

Not Congressionally recognized until 2005, celebrations started in California as early as the mid 1860s and for over 100 years were most common in Southwestern States with a large population of people of Mexican descent.  Now of course it’s just another excuse to over consume the cheap crappy Tequila and Beer that Mexico exports (don’t get me wrong, there are good Mexican Beers and Tequila but Corona, Dos Equis, and Jose Cuervo are not them) and ignore real, actual factual Mexican history because we’re so fucking exceptional that understanding and caring about the countries we border is as beneath us as even knowing which ones they are.

Just don’t mistake it for Grito de Dolores.


TBC: Morning Musing 5.5.15

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Before you get started on your margaritas, I have 3 articles for you this morning!

First up, we can only hope:


The ambassadors of denial are nervous that the tone of our cultural conversation is about to shift. Their worst fear is that Francis might successfully disabuse religious conservatives of a longstanding and pernicious myth: that climate change should be thought of as a splinter issue, and that belief in climate science and support for environmental action signify membership in the “enemy camp.” So long as climate deniers can maintain the charade of Us vs. Them, their well-funded dissembling machine keeps on rolling. But if the Pope actually manages to bring people together-and so far his track record on that front is pretty good-the whole thing could fall apart.


On This Day In History May 5

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

May 5 is the 125th day of the year (126th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 240 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the French forces at the Battle of Puebla

Certain that French victory would come swiftly in Mexico, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles. From his new headquarters in the north, Juarez rounded up a rag-tag force of loyal men and sent them to Puebla. Led by Texas-born General Zaragoza, the 2,000 Mexicans fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On the fifth of May, 1862, Lorencez drew his army, well-provisioned and supported by heavy artillery, before the city of Puebla and began their assault from the north. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers to the fewer than 100 Mexicans killed.

Although not a major strategic victory in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s victory at Puebla tightened Mexican resistance, and six years later France withdrew. The same year, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been installed as emperor of Mexico by Napoleon in 1864, was captured and executed by Juarez’ forces. Puebla de Los Angeles, the site of Zaragoza’s historic victory, was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza in honor of the general.


Cinco de Mayo is a regional holiday limited primarily to the state of Puebla. There is some limited recognition of the holiday in other parts of the country.

United States

In a 1998 study in the Journal of American Culture it was reported that there were more than 120 official U.S. celebrations of Cinco de Mayo, and they could be found in 21 different states. An update in 2006, found that the number of official Cinco de Mayo events was 150 or more, according to Jose Alamillo, professor of ethnic studies at Washington State University in Pullman, who has studied the cultural impact of Cinco de Mayo north of the border.

In the United States Cinco de Mayo has taken on a significance beyond that in Mexico. The date is perhaps best recognized in the United States as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry, much as St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest, and the Chinese New Year are used to celebrate those of Irish, German, and Chinese ancestry respectively. Similar to those holidays, Cinco de Mayo is observed by many Americans regardless of ethnic origin. Celebrations tend to draw both from traditional Mexican symbols, such as the Virgen de Guadalupe, and from prominent figures of Mexican descent in the United States, including Cesar Chavez. To celebrate, many display Cinco de Mayo banners while school districts hold special events to educate pupils about its historical significance. Special events and celebrations highlight Mexican culture, especially in its music and regional dancing. Examples include baile folklorico and mariachi demonstrations held annually at the Plaza del Pueblo de Los Angeles, near Olvera Street. Commercial interests in the United States have capitalized on the celebration, advertising Mexican products and services, with an emphasis on beverages, foods, and music.

The Daily/Nightly Show (The White Whale)

You stop being racist and I’ll stop talking about it.

Bloods and Crips

Bill Nye the Science Guy will be on to talk about racism.

Oh, and also man nipples.


I haz the sads

This week’s guests-

Brian Grazer is a producer meaning that he organizes the money behind creative products such as theater, television, and movies.  I call people like that family and friends and coming sooner than I think is this summer’s exercise in anarchy for which I recieved my first piece of new kit today.

As excited as I am about this project, it deserves it’s own development as my thinking and schedule solidifies.  Brian on the other hand will be on to talk about Heart of the Sea based on the true story of the whaling ship Essex which was the model for Moby Dick (in public domain by the way, you can read the whole text here).

Either that or  his new book A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life.

May the Fourth Be With You.  The real news below.