Easy Mark Recognizes He Might Have Been Robbed:

The ghost of Jerzy Kozinski just died a little on the inside:

For months, reporters and political operatives (including me) have been pointing out that Ben Carson’s campaign bears many of the hallmarks of a political scam operation. Now Carson seems to agree. On CNN on Tuesday, Carson discussed his year-end staff shake-up:

“We had people who didn’t really seem to understand finances,” a laughing Carson told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “CNN Newsroom,” adding, “or maybe they did—maybe they were doing it on purpose.”

It’s a remarkable statement—especially because he’s so blithe about it.

Carson has taken in incredible amounts of money during the race. His campaign has raised more than any other Republican presidential rival, though they’ve raised more when super PACs are included. But he’s also spent more than any of them, so that despite his prolific fundraising, he has barely $4 million in cash on hand.
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Where Is Ben Carson’s Money Going?

That’s because Team Carson has been plowing a huge portion of the money it raises back into fundraising, using costly direct-mail and telemarketing tactics. Pretty much every campaign uses those tools, but the extent to which Carson was using it raised eyebrows around politics. First, many of the companies being paid millions and millions of dollars are run by top campaign officials or their friends and relations, meaning those people are making a mint. Second, many of the contributions are coming from small-dollar donors. If that money is being given by well-meaning grassroots conservatives for a campaign that’s designed not to win but to produce revenue for venders, isn’t it just a grift?

I mean sweet jeebus. At least Sarah Palin’s stupid self was in on the grift. In his defense, this isn’t brain surgery.

Thrust From the Sweaty Loins of Liberty

I didn’t listen to the live feed of the arrest of the last moron because I thought it was like listening to a snuff film in the making, but I did check the Oregon paper later for a write-up, where I discovered this:

Lost in the final hours of the occupation was the original motive for starting it: the imprisonment of Dwight and Steven Hammond. The militants didn’t mention the Harney County ranchers in the closing moments. Instead, they focused on whether they would be able to live to tell their story.

Fiore gave this advice to militant Sandy Anderson about writing her story: “Be detailed Sandy, be very, very detailed,” Fiore said. “Like that author did in Fifty Shades of Grey.”

It’s only been a month since this:

We’ve reached the phase in our nation where the wingnut right is unspoofable.

Good News: Cliven Bundy Arrested on His Way to Malheur Lake

Per the Oregonian:

Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who touched off one armed showdown with federal authorities and applauded another started in Oregon by his sons, was arrested late Wednesday at Portland International Airport and faces federal charges related to the 2014 standoff at his ranch.

Bundy, 74, was booked into the downtown Multnomah County jail at 10:54 p.m.

He faces a conspiracy charge to interfere with a federal officer — the same charge lodged against two of his sons, Ammon and Ryan, for their role in the Jan. 2 takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns. He also faces weapons charges…

The last four occupiers, who have camped alone since Jan. 28 at the headquarters compound, agreed Wednesday night to surrender in the morning. They did so after FBI tactical teams infiltrated refuge buildings undetected overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. The FBI then hemmed in the occupiers with armored vehicles and negotiated with them for five hours to reach the surrender agreement…

If anything good can come out of this deplorable shitshow, it would be getting Cliven Bundy away from his heavily armed Nevada playpen and under adult supervision — without more bloodshed. Should this discourage the remaining Feeble Four loons into surrendering come morning, all the better. Let them stand on their hind legs and bleat about “constitutional law” in a situation where they can’t destroy more of our mutual property. I’m guessing (hoping) all the Facebook-fierce “patriots” ginning each other up to join the rebellion!!! will suddenly realize how vital it is that they finish re-organizing their bug-out bags and writing coded messages on dollar bills safely in their own communities, since Burns and the other communities near Malheur Lake have suffered enough already.
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The WV Legislature’s Motto- Our Job Won’t Be Done Until We’re #50

The running joke in WV for as long as I have lived was “At least we’re not Kentucky.” That joke is soon going no longer going to work as the WV legislature is in session, and man has it been a total wingnut shitshow. First up, right to work:

The West Virginia State House narrowly passed a right-to-work bill on Thursday, setting the state up to become the country’s 26th that doesn’t require employees to pay dues to their unions — a measure that has hobbled organized labor elsewhere.

The bill had been fast-tracked through the legislature’s two-month session, passing through committee hearings, floor debate, and final votes in a span of three weeks — amid protest rallies and furious lobbying by unions and their allies — in order to leave enough time for the legislature to override an anticipated veto by Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. It passed by a vote of 54-46.

The passage of the Establishing West Virginia Workplace Freedom Act comes two years after Republicans took back the state House for the first time since 1928, and days after the state’s Supreme Court handed control of the evenly divided Senate to Republicans as well. The bill’s main sponsor is Republican Senate President Bill Cole, who has declared a run to replace Tomblin.

The way they took over the Senate was super special:

Senator Daniel Hall has left the Democratic Party, flipping the West Virginia Legislature entirely into the hands of the GOP, according to a source in the state’s Republican Party office.

The party affiliation change comes after a deadlock in the state Senate where Republicans and Democrats each had 17 members as a result of Tuesday’s election.

Why would he switch? Here’s the payoff:

Sen. Daniel J. Hall, R-Wyoming, is resigning from the WV Legislature to accept a job as a state liaison with the National Rifle Association, according to a news release from the WV Senate.

A guy is elected as a Democrat, switches to Republican, and then they jam through Right to Work. WHEEE. Up next on our new legislatures agenda is concealed carry:

For a second straight year, West Virginia lawmakers have taken up a bill to allow people to carry concealed handguns without obtaining permits.

House Judiciary Committee members took up the bill (HB 4145) Wednesday morning, shortly after an early public hearing where proponents called the current $100 fee for five-year conceal-carry permits an unreasonable tax on their right to bear arms, while others said allowing people to carry guns without training or background checks endangers police and public safety.

This, of course, means that we now have no way of knowing who is packing heat and whether or not they know what they are doing with it:

The West Virginia Sheriff’s Association is opposed to the legislation, but Executive Director Rodney Miller said realistically he believed it would win approval. Miller and his organizations have raised questions about the measure since it first appeared at the Capitol last year. He said since then changes have been made which make it at least more acceptable to law enforcement.

“We feel it would be more productive if we were able to limit the permitless carry to West Virginia residents,” said Miller on Metronews Talkline. “Historically, a lot of the problems for law enforcement officers across the state are drug traffickers that come into the state.”

Supporters balk at the cost of a permit and the training now required to carry a firearm concealed. Groups supporting the bill call the permits a “tax on a Constitutional right.”

“If they want to take out the fees, so be it. It’s more about the training,” said Miller. “We believe the training is paramount. Someone really needs to know what happens on the business end of that gun. It’s not a piece of jewelry and it’s not an adornment. We agree with the NRA and their training presets.”

However, doing away with the permit means doing away with the training requirement as well. The bill, as written, would allow anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed firearm or deadly weapon without a permit. There would still be a requirement of a permit for those between the ages of 18 and 21.

Meanwhile, we are facing large budget shortfalls, including a large gap in the Public Employee’s Insurance Agency (PEIA), in large part due to dwindling tax collection from coal and natural gas, but our intrepid legislature has a plan to deal with that. They want to pull an Indiana and kill our small but vibrant tourism industry:

The same day a pro-business coalition was announced to oppose a bill that claims to “restore” religious freedom in West Virginia, the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill.

The 16-9 vote wasn’t strictly along party lines. Republicans J.B. McCuskey of Kanawha County and Ryan Weld of Brooke voted against it. Democrats Justin Marcum of Mingo County and Steven Shaffer of Preston voted for it.

The West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act has resulted in fierce opposition from civil rights advocates over the last several days.

Businesses and organizations that spoke out against the bill as part of the pro-business coalition, Opportunity West Virginia, include the West Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association, AT&T, Embassy Suites, Charleston Marriott Town Center, and Generation West Virginia.

“This movement reinforces the business community’s commitment to West Virginia and its people,” Jill Rice, spokeswoman for Opportunity West Virginia, said in a statement. “At the end of the day, legislation that would result in discrimination against individuals from any background sends a message that our state is not open for business.”

The bill codifies a legal process for determining whether a person’s religious beliefs are being violated, and whether a “compelling interest” of the state overrides their concerns. Because those who think their beliefs are being violated could argue in court that local nondiscrimination ordinances, among other civil rights laws, violate their religious beliefs, civil rights advocates fear that the law could be used to discriminate against the LGBT population, among other historically-discriminated against groups.

In the House Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday, lawmakers heard from Dr. Derek Harman, a Logan physician who worried parents would attempt to refuse to vaccinate their children; Kellie Fiedorek, an attorney for the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom who told lawmakers the law has not been used to justify any criminal behavior, as some have feared; and Andrew Schneider, executive director of the LGBT rights group Fairness West Virginia.

In an interview, Schneider said, “I often hear about businesses not wanting to serve the LGBT population.”

“What they’re dreaming of are countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia which legalize discrimination in the way they are trying to emulate with this bill,” he said. “I don’t think those are countries we want to emulate.”

While some have argued the law is not an effort to target civil rights, an amendment by Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, that would have clarified the law could not be construed to permit discrimination based on sexual orientation was ruled not germane to the bill by the committee chairman, Delegate John Shott, R- Mercer.

There was some good news for the state, and that is that WVU was just granted R1 status, meaning it is in the top tier of academic institutions in the nation. But don’t celebrate too much, our legislature’s work isn’t done:

State lawmakers who’ve previously pushed for repealing West Virginia’s math and English language arts K-12 education standards have filed another bill to do so, this one with House Education Committee Chairman Paul Espinosa and House Majority Leader Daryl Cowles as co-sponsors.

House Bill 4014, which Espinosa called a “starting point” that could see changes, currently would mandate that the state revert back to its pre-Common Core standards next school year and would require statewide standardized tests next school year to be aligned to those old standards. The state currently uses Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced tests.

There have been all sorts of shenanigans with the Board of Education for the past several years involving Manchin’s wife, some clown named Linger who basically inserted a bunch of climate change denialism, and so on, so who knows what the hell is going to happen with this.

And while they have been doing all of this, our legislature has been acting like the Politburo, demanding extreme secrecy and denying accountability and transparency. This is just a special example of the kind of people we are dealing with:

In the middle of Wednesday morning’s meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, Delegate John Shott, the chairman, made an announcement.

The committee had just passed its first bill of the morning, and was about to begin discussion of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, one of the most controversial bills of the session.

Video and photography is not permitted, Shott told the room, except by credentialed members of the media. Anyone else who wanted to photograph or record the public meeting, for whatever reason, was out of luck.

It was not the first time Shott, R-Mercer, has made the announcement. He made similar announcements last week before public hearings in the House chamber on the religious freedom bill and a right-to-work bill.

“It’s just always been a rule, I’ve heard it repeated numerous times,” Shott said. “For as long as I know.”

Others, with long histories in the House, said otherwise.

The 29 pages of written rules for the House of Delegates do not ban photography by anyone.

Delegate Tim Miley, D-Harrison, a Judiciary chairman prior to Shott, said he could remember no such prohibition. Joe Altizer, the longtime chief counsel for the committee and current minority counsel, also said he could remember no ban on photography.

So basically, for the first time in a long time, Republicans are running the state, and they are working hard to do to the state what George Bush did to the country. And this being West Virginia, it will be like this for a long, long time.

And Then There Were But a Few


And the Mahleur refuge “crisis” slowly winds down, and there are but four morons left:

Just four people remain at the occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

The group spoke with OPB by phone Thursday morning.

The remaining group includes David Fry of Blanchester, Ohio, husband and wife Sean and Sandy Anderson of Riggins, Idaho, and Jeff Banta of Elko, Nevada.

“We all want to leave,” Sandy Anderson said. “We’re here, and we’re worried we’re going to die.”

Three militants turned themselves in at checkpoints outside the refuge Wednesday afternoon and face felony charges.

Police said another five people were stopped and allowed to leave the refuge since law enforcement blocked roads around the area.

David Fry said he spoke to an FBI negotiator three times in the last 24 hours. He said the group is prepared to leave peacefully, but fears arrest.

One man, Sean Anderson, had been told there was a federal warrant for his arrest on charges of interfering with federal employees. Fry said FBI negotiators told him the others would be allowed to leave without facing arrest.

“As a group, we were willing to leave peacefully,” Fry said. “But they want to arrest Sean, and take Sean out, and put him in jail. We don’t want to leave Sean in that situation, because that feels unfair.”

The bravado seems to have left our fearsome patriots, or, as some might say, their courage has gone to the birds. I have no idea why they think they are all going to die, as the FBI is quite willing to let them leave peacefully unless there is a warrant for their arrest, and should that be the case, unless they come out guns a blazing like LaVoy Finicum, they’ll be fine. They can ask their fearsome leaders, now releasing wimpy and incoherent statements through their lawyers.

Just watch this, and tell me this country doesn’t have a mental health crisis.

Sad. That’s two of the last four, who want to leave peacefully. The FBI can basically just sit there now and wait for the idiots to run out of cigarettes.

So Near And Yet Shofar

Because I could(n’t resist):



Posted by Blaine Cooper on Sunday, January 17, 2016

Just to ram the point home: if I were those guys I’d think long and hard about the story of Nadab and Abihu. False prophets do not usually achieve happy endings. A sheepish withdrawal is by far their best outcome…which would let them get back (continue) to fleece their flock.

But I’ll say this: those big horns are not that easy to blow. Kudos for that at least.

More About the Morons and Iran

AL covered this already, but I have to admit I was kind of flabbergasted by the response. That doesn’t mean I was surprised by it- I fully expected it. I mean I was just flabbergasted by the extent of the idiocy of it all. I mean, what in the flying fuck did they EXPECT to happen when our ships went into someone else’s waters? Even if it was an ally like Britain, they would have sent someone out.

And the fact that this was such a docile encounter is kind of shocking. In my mind, it went something like this:

Navy: Derp.

Iran: Hey guys, whatcha doing?

Navy: Umm, uhh, fishing?

Iran: No, you’re not.

Navy: Ok. You got us.

Iran: Alright, come on now.

And then they gathered their stupid asses and broke-dick crafts up, gave them some pillows and delicious looking snacks which were most assuredly better than anything I can get in this Mediterranean food desert I live in and without question the fucking god awful Halal MRE’s we’d have chucked at their guys. I mean look at this:


First off, those rugs are amazing. Second, I would love some pillows like that but Thurston would chew the fuck out of them. Third, if I saw this while I was on active duty, I’d have thought “I could use some fucking R&R, too.” And then, within fifteen hours, faster than any travel agent I know could arrange a ride home from Iran, they were back in US custody.

That’s it. That’s what big bad Iran did. Oh, yes- they made us apologize. Horror of horrors. We just stumbled into their yard in a drunken stupor, they brought us inside, gave us some snacks, sobered us up and called mom and dad, and we had to say “my bad” while we were getting in the minivan on the ride home.

Now, think for a second what we would have done had a bunch of Iranians been caught floating off the coast of Virginia Beach. Do I even need to give you ideas of McCain or Cotton or one of these other idiots might have handled the situation were they in charge? Thank goodness our military is professional and would not freak out like our elected Republican leaders would

BTW- one of those sailors was black. Which means it is safer for a heavily armed black man in Iran than it is in a park in Cleveland.