Just another 24 hours on Dear Leader’s crazy train

1/ The Senate Intelligence Committee recommended that states buy voting machines that produce paper ballots and that they secure voter databases ahead of November’s midterm elections. Senators, concerned about Russian meddling in the midterms, called on Congress to “urgently” make funds available for states to update their voting systems, institute vote audits, and hire staff focused on cybersecurity. (New York Times)

2/ Senators criticized the Trump administration for not doing enough to prepare for the 2018 midterms. “I hear no sense of urgency to really get on top of this issue,” Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said. Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified before the committee, saying the 2018 midterms and future elections are “clearly potential targets for Russian hacking attempts.” (CNN)

3/ Trump ignored specific warnings from his national security advisers not to congratulate Putin on his recent election win. Instead, Trump called Putin and opened by congratulating him. A section in Trump’s briefing materials was titled “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” in all-capital letters. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump and John Kelly are reportedly furious over the leak that Trump congratulated Putin despite warnings from multiple national security advisers and briefing materials that said “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.” It’s still unclear if Trump read the guidance that was given to him by his advisers, but Trump defended his congratulatory call, tweeting that “Getting along with Russia… is a good thing,” and that his “energy and chemistry” with Putin will be constructive. He capped off his second tweet with an all-caps: “PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!” (CNN / Axios)

A senior White House official who is not authorized to discuss the leak publicly commented that “leaking [president’s briefing papers] is a fireable offense and likely illegal.” A person in close contact with national security officials said John Kelly is “on a warpath” and “there’s going to be a scalp over this.” (Los Angeles Times)

5/ The former director of the CIA suggested that Russia may have compromising information on Trump “that they could always roll out and make his life more difficult.” John Brennan, the CIA director under Obama, said the fact that Trump “had this fawning attitude toward Mr. Putin, has not said anything negative about him, I think continues to say to me that he does have something to fear and something very serious to fear.” Brennan was the CIA director in 2016 when the dossier surfaced that claimed the Russians had compromising information on Trump. (CNN / New York Times)

poll/ 40% of voters view the NRA negatively, compared with 37% who view the organization positively. the first time since before 2000 that more people in the poll have viewed the NRA in a negative light than in a positive light. (NBC News)

poll/ 70% of millennial women now identify as Democrats, up from 54% in 2002. 23% of millennial women identify as Republicans, down from 36% in 2002. (Pew Research Center)

poll/ 67% of voters say Trump is not a good role model for children. And, 55% don’t think Trump has a good sense of decency. (Quinnipiac)


From: WTF Just Happened Today?  Day 426: No sense of urgency.


Naomi Klein on the Trump “shock” regime

This is a long read but a very thought provoking one; we recomend it


DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL campaign, some imagined that the more overtly racist elements of Donald Trump’s platform were just talk designed to rile up the base, not anything he seriously intended to act on. But in his first week in office, when he imposed a travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries, that comforting illusion disappeared fast. Fortunately, the response was immediate: the marches and rallies at airports, the impromptu taxi strikes, the lawyers and local politicians intervening, the judges ruling the bans illegal.

The whole episode showed the power of resistance, and of judicial courage, and there was much to celebrate. Some have even concluded that this early slap down chastened Trump, and that he is now committed to a more reasonable, conventional course.

That is a dangerous illusion.

It is true that many of the more radical items on this administration’s wish list have yet to be realized. But make no mistake, the full agenda is still there, lying in wait. And there is one thing that could unleash it all: a large-scale crisis.

Large-scale shocks are frequently harnessed to ram through despised pro-corporate and anti-democratic policies that would never have been feasible in normal times. It’s a phenomenon I have previously called the “Shock Doctrine,” and we have seen it happen again and again over the decades, from Chile in the aftermath of Augusto Pinochet’s coup to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

And we have seen it happen recently, well before Trump, in U.S. cities including Detroit and Flint, where looming municipal bankruptcy became the pretext for dissolving local democracy and appointing “emergency managers” who waged war on public services and public education. It is unfolding right now in Puerto Rico, where the ongoing debt crisis has been used to install the unaccountable “Financial Oversight and Management Board,” an enforcement mechanism for harsh austerity measures, including cuts to pensions and waves of school closures. This tactic is being deployed in Brazil, where the highly questionable impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 was followed by the installation of an unelected, zealously pro-business regime that has frozen public spending for the next 20 years, imposed punishing austerity, and begun selling off airports, power stations, and other public assets in a frenzy of privatization.

As Milton Friedman wrote long ago, “Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.” Survivalists stockpile canned goods and water in preparation for major disasters; these guys stockpile spectacularly anti-democratic ideas.

Now, as many have observed, the pattern is repeating under Trump. On the campaign trail, he did not tell his adoring crowds that he would cut funds for meals-on-wheels, or admit that he was going to try to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, or that he planned to grant every item on Goldman Sachs’ wish list. He said the very opposite.

Since taking office, however, Donald Trump has never allowed the atmosphere of chaos and crisis to let up. Some of the chaos, like the Russia investigations, has been foisted upon him or is simply the result of incompetence, but much appears to be deliberately created. Either way, while we are distracted by (and addicted to) the Trump Show, clicking on and gasping at marital hand-slaps and mysterious orbs, the quiet, methodical work of redistributing wealth upward proceeds apace.

This is also aided by the sheer velocity of change. Witnessing the tsunami of executive orders during Trump’s first 100 days, it rapidly became clear his advisers were following Machiavelli’s advice in “The Prince”: “Injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less.” The logic is straightforward enough. People can develop responses to sequential or gradual change. But if dozens of changes come from all directions at once, the hope is that populations will rapidly become exhausted and overwhelmed, and will ultimately swallow their bitter medicine.

But here’s the thing. All of this is shock doctrine lite; it’s the most that Trump can pull off under cover of the shocks he is generating himself. And as much as this needs to be exposed and resisted, we also need to focus on what this administration will do when they have a real external shock to exploit. Maybe it will be an economic crash like the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. Maybe a natural disaster like Superstorm Sandy. Or maybe it will be a horrific terrorist attack like the Manchester bombing. Any one such crisis could trigger a very rapid shift in political conditions, making what currently seems unlikely suddenly appear inevitable.

So let’s consider a few categories of possible shocks, and how they might be harnessed to start ticking off items on Trump’s toxic to-do list.

A Terror Shock

Recent terror attacks in London, Manchester, and Paris provide some broad hints about how the administration would try to exploit a large-scale attack that took place on U.S. soil or against U.S. infrastructure abroad. After the horrific Manchester bombing last month, the governing Conservatives launched a fierce campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party for suggesting that the failed “war on terror” is part of what is fueling such acts, calling any such suggestion “monstrous” (a clear echo of the “with us or with the terrorists” rhetoric that descended after September 11, 2001). For his part, Trump rushed to link the attack to the “thousands and thousands of people pouring into our various countries” — never mind that the bomber, Salman Abedi, was born in the U.K.

Similarly, in the immediate aftermath of the Westminster terror attacks in London in March 2017, when a driver plowed into a crowd of pedestrians, deliberately killing four people and injuring dozens more, the Conservative government wasted no time declaring that any expectation of privacy in digital communications was now a threat to national security. Home Secretary Amber Rudd went on the BBC and declared the end-to-end encryption provided by programs like WhatsApp to be “completely unacceptable.” And she said that they were meeting with the large tech firms “to ask them to work with us” on providing backdoor access to these platforms. She made an even stronger call to crack down on internet privacy after the London Bridge attack.

More worrying, in 2015, after the coordinated attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, the government of François Hollande declared a “state of emergency” that banned political protests. I was in France a week after those horrific events and it was striking that, although the attackers had targeted a concert, a football stadium, restaurants, and other emblems of daily Parisian life, it was only outdoor political activity that was not permitted. Large concerts, Christmas markets, and sporting events — the sorts of places that were likely targets for further attacks — were all free to carry on as usual. In the months that followed, the state-of-emergency decree was extended again and again until it had been in place for well over a year. It is currently set to remain in effect until at least July 2017. In France, state-of-emergency is the new normal.

This took place under a center-left government in a country with a long tradition of disruptive strikes and protests. One would have to be naive to imagine that Donald Trump and Mike Pence wouldn’t immediately seize on any attack in the United States to go much further down that same road. In all likelihood they would do it swiftly, by declaring protests and strikes that block roads and airports (the kind that responded to the Muslim travel ban) a threat to “national security.” Protest organizers would be targeted with surveillance, arrests, and imprisonment.

Indeed we should be prepared for security shocks to be exploited as excuses to increase the rounding up and incarceration of large numbers of people from the communities this administration is already targeting: Latino immigrants, Muslims, Black Lives Matter organizers, climate activists, investigative journalists. It’s all possible. And in the name of freeing the hands of law enforcement to fight terrorism, Attorney General Jeff Sessions would have the excuse he’d been looking for to do away with federal oversight of state and local police, especially those that have been accused of systemic racial abuses.

And there is no doubt that the president would seize on any domestic terrorist attack to blame the courts. He made this perfectly clear when he tweeted, after his first travel ban was struck down: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system.” And on the night of the London Bridge attack, he went even further, tweeting: “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” In a context of public hysteria and recrimination that would surely follow an attack in the U.S., the kind of courage we witnessed from the courts in response to Trump’s travel bans might well be in shorter supply.

The Shock of War

The most lethal way that governments overreact to terrorist attacks is by exploiting the atmosphere of fear to embark on a full-blown foreign war (or two). It doesn’t necessarily matter if the target has no connection to the original terror attacks. Iraq wasn’t responsible for 9/11, and it was invaded anyway.

Trump’s likeliest targets are mostly in the Middle East, and they include (but are by no means limited to) Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and, most perilously, Iran. And then, of course, there’s North Korea, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declared that “all options are on the table,” pointedly refusing to rule out a pre-emptive military strike.

There are many reasons why people around Trump, particularly those who came straight from the defense sector, might decide that further military escalation is in order. Trump’s April 2017 missile strike on Syria — ordered without congressional approval and therefore illegal according to some experts — won him the most positive news coverage of his presidency. His inner circle, meanwhile, immediately pointed to the attacks as proof that there was nothing untoward going on between the White House and Russia.

But there’s another, less discussed reason why this administration might rush to exploit a security crisis to start a new war or escalate an ongoing conflict: There is no faster or more effective way to drive up the price of oil, especially if the violence interferes with the supply of oil to the world market This would be great news for oil giants like Exxon Mobil, which have seen their profits drop dramatically as a result of the depressed price of oil — and Exxon, of course, is fortunate enough to have its former CEO, Tillerson, currently serving as secretary of state. (Not only was Tillerson at Exxon for 41 years, his entire working life, but Exxon Mobil has agreed to pay him a retirement package worth a staggering $180 million.)

Other than Exxon, perhaps the only entity that would have more to gain from an oil price hike fueled by global instability is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, a vast petro-state that has been in economic crisis since the price of oil collapsed. Russia is the world’s leading exporter of natural gas, and the second-largest exporter of oil (after Saudi Arabia). When the price was high, this was great news for Putin: Prior to 2014, fully 50 percent of Russia’s budget revenues came from oil and gas.

But when prices plummeted, the government was suddenly short hundreds of billions of dollars, an economic catastrophe with tremendous human costs. According to the World Bank, in 2015 real wages fell in Russia by nearly 10 percent; the Russian ruble depreciated by close to 40 percent; and the population of people classified as poor increased from 3 million to over 19 million. Putin plays the strongman, but this economic crisis makes him vulnerable at home.

We’ve also heard a lot about that massive deal between Exxon Mobil and the Russian state oil company Rosneft to drill for oil in the Arctic (Putin bragged that it was worth half a trillion dollars). That deal was derailed by U.S. sanctions against Russia and despite the posturing on both sides over Syria, it is still entirely possible that Trump will decide to lift the sanctions and clear the way for that deal to go ahead, which would quickly boost Exxon Mobil’s flagging fortunes.

But even if the sanctions are lifted, there is another factor standing in the way of the project moving forward: the depressed price of oil. Tillerson made the deal with Rosneft in 2011, when the price of oil was soaring at around $110 a barrel. Their first commitment was to explore for oil in the sea north of Siberia, under tough-to-extract, icy conditions. The break-even price for Arctic drilling is estimated to be around $100 a barrel, if not more. So even if sanctions are lifted under Trump, it won’t make sense for Exxon and Rosneft to move ahead with their project unless oil prices are high enough. Which is yet another reason why parties might embrace the kind of instability that would send oil prices shooting back up.

If the price of oil rises to $80 or more a barrel, then the scramble to dig up and burn the dirtiest fossil fuels, including those under melting ice, will be back on. A price rebound would unleash a global frenzy in new high-risk, high-carbon fossil fuel extraction, from the Arctic to the tar sands. And if that is allowed to happen, it really would rob us of our last chance of averting catastrophic climate change.

So, in a very real sense, preventing war and averting climate chaos are one and the same fight.

Economic Shocks

A centerpiece of Trump’s economic project so far has been a flurry of financial deregulation that makes economic shocks and disasters distinctly more likely. Trump has announced plans to dismantle Dodd-Frank, the most substantive piece of legislation introduced after the 2008 banking collapse. Dodd-Frank wasn’t tough enough, but its absence will liberate Wall Street to go wild blowing new bubbles, which will inevitably burst, creating new economic shocks.

Trump and his team are not unaware of this, they are simply unconcerned — the profits from those market bubbles are too tantalizing. Besides, they know that since the banks were never broken up, they are still too big to fail, which means that if it all comes crashing down, they will be bailed out again, just like in 2008. (In fact, Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of the specific part of Dodd-Frank designed to prevent taxpayers from being stuck with the bill for another such bailout — an ominous sign, especially with so many former Goldman executives making White House policy.)

Some members of the administration surely also see a few coveted policy options opening up in the wake of a good market shock or two. During the campaign, Trump courted voters by promising not to touch Social Security or Medicare. But that may well be untenable, given the deep tax cuts on the way (and the fictional math beneath the claims that they will pay for themselves). His proposed budget already begins the attack on Social Security and an economic crisis would give Trump a handy excuse to abandon those promises altogether. In the midst of a moment being sold to the public as economic Armageddon, Betsy DeVos might even have a shot at realizing her dream of replacing public schools with a system based on vouchers and charters.

Trump’s gang has a long wish list of policies that do not lend themselves to normal times. In the early days of the new administration, for instance, Mike Pence met with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to hear how the governor had managed to strip public sector unions of their right to collective bargaining in 2011. (Hint: He used the cover of the state’s fiscal crisis, prompting New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to declare that in Wisconsin “the shock doctrine is on full display.”)

Taken together, the picture is clear. We will very likely not see this administration’s full economic barbarism in the first year. That will only reveal itself later, after the inevitable budget crises and market shocks kick in. Then, in the name of rescuing the government and perhaps the entire economy, the White House will start checking off the more challenging items on the corporate wish list.

Weather Shocks

Just as Trump’s national security and economic policies are sure to generate and deepen crises, the administration’s moves to ramp up fossil fuel production, dismantle large parts of the country’s environmental laws, and trash the Paris climate accord all pave the way for more large-scale industrial accidents — not to mention future climate disasters. There is a lag time of about a decade between the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the full resulting warming, so the very worst climatic effects of the administration’s policies won’t likely be felt until they’re out of office.

That said, we’ve already locked in so much warming that no president can complete a term without facing major weather-related disasters. In fact, Trump wasn’t even two months on the job before he was confronted with overwhelming wildfires on the Great Plains, which led to so many cattle deaths that one rancher described the event as “our Hurricane Katrina.”

Trump showed no great interest in the fires, not even sparing them a tweet. But when the first superstorm hits a coast, we should expect a very different reaction from a president who knows the value of oceanfront property, has open contempt for the poor, and has only ever been interested in building for the 1 percent. The worry, of course, is a repeat of Katrina’s attacks on public housing and public schools, as well as the contractor free for all that followed the disaster, especially given the central role played by Mike Pence in shaping post-Katrina policy.

The biggest Trump-era escalation, however, will most likely be in disaster response services marketed specifically toward the wealthy. When I was writing “The Shock Doctrine,” this industry was still in its infancy, and several early companies didn’t make it. I wrote, for instance, about a short-lived airline called Help Jet, based in Trump’s beloved West Palm Beach. While it lasted, Help Jet offered an array of gold-plated rescue services in exchange for a membership fee.

When a hurricane was on its way, Help Jet dispatched limousines to pick up members, booked them into five-star golf resorts and spas somewhere safe, then whisked them away on private jets. “No standing in lines, no hassle with crowds, just a first-class experience that turns a problem into a vacation,” read the company’s marketing materials. “Enjoy the feeling of avoiding the usual hurricane evacuation nightmare.” With the benefit of hindsight, it seems Help Jet, far from misjudging the market for these services, was simply ahead of its time. These days, in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, the more serious high-end survivalists are hedging against climate disruption and social collapse by buying space in custom-built underground bunkers in Kansas (protected by heavily armed mercenaries) and building escape homes on high ground in New Zealand. It goes without saying that you need your own private jet to get there.

What is worrying about the entire top-of-the-line survivalist phenomenon (apart from its general weirdness) is that, as the wealthy create their own luxury escape hatches, there is diminishing incentive to maintain any kind of disaster response infrastructure that exists to help everyone, regardless of income — precisely the dynamic that led to enormous and unnecessary suffering in New Orleans during Katrina.

And this two-tiered disaster infrastructure is galloping ahead at alarming speed. In fire-prone states such as California and Colorado, insurance companies provide a “concierge” service to their exclusive clients: When wildfires threaten their mansions, the companies dispatch teams of private firefighters to coat them in re-retardant. The public sphere, meanwhile, is left to further decay.

California provides a glimpse of where this is all headed. For its firefighting, the state relies on upwards of 4,500 prison inmates, who are paid a dollar an hour when they’re on the fire line, putting their lives at risk battling wildfires, and about two bucks a day when they’re back at camp. By some estimates, California saves a billion dollars a year through this program — a snapshot of what happens when you mix austerity politics with mass incarceration and climate change.

A World of Green Zones and Red Zones

The uptick in high-end disaster prep also means there is less reason for the big winners in our economy to embrace the demanding policy changes required to prevent an even warmer and more disaster-prone future. Which might help explain the Trump administration’s determination to do everything possible to accelerate the climate crisis.

So far, much of the discussion around Trump’s environmental rollbacks has focused on supposed schisms between the members of his inner circle who actively deny climate science, including EPA head Scott Pruitt and Trump himself, and those who concede that humans are indeed contributing to planetary warming, such as Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump. But this misses the point: What everyone who surrounds Trump shares is a confidence that they, their children, and indeed their class will be just fine, that their wealth and connections will protect them from the worst of the shocks to come. They will lose some beachfront property, sure, but nothing that can’t be replaced with a new mansion on higher ground.

This insouciance is representative of an extremely disturbing trend. In an age of ever-widening income inequality, a significant cohort of our elites are walling themselves off not just physically but also psychologically, mentally detaching themselves from the collective fate of the rest of humanity. This secessionism from the human species (if only in their own minds) liberates the rich not only to shrug off the urgent need for climate action but also to devise ever more predatory ways to profit from current and future disasters and instability. What we are hurtling toward is a world demarcated into fortified Green Zones for the super-rich, Red Zones for everyone else — and black sites for whoever doesn’t cooperate. Europe, Australia, and North America are erecting increasingly elaborate (and privatized) border fortresses to seal themselves off from people fleeing for their lives. Fleeing, quite often, as a direct result of forces unleashed primarily by those fortressed continents, whether predatory trade deals, wars, or ecological disasters intensified by climate change.

In fact, if we chart the locations of the most intense conflict spots in the world right now — from the bloodiest battlefields in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Iraq — what becomes clear is that these also happen to be some of the hottest and driest places on earth. It takes very little to push these regions into drought and famine, which frequently acts as an accelerant to conflict, which of course drives migration.

And the same capacity to discount the humanity of the “other,” which justifies civilian deaths and casualties from bombs and drones in places like Yemen and Somalia, is now being trained on the people in the boats  — casting their need for security as a threat, their desperate flight as some sort of invading army. This is the context in which well over 13,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores since 2014, many of them children, toddlers, and babies. It is the context in which the Australian government has sought to normalize the incarceration of refugees in island detention camps on Nauru and Manus, under conditions that numerous humanitarian organizations have described as tantamount to torture. This is also the context in which the massive, recently demolished migrant camp in Calais, France, was nicknamed “the jungle” — an echo of the way Katrina’s abandoned people were categorized in right-wing media as “animals.”

The dramatic rise in right-wing nationalism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy over the past decade cannot be pried apart from these larger geopolitical and ecological trends. The only way to justify such barbaric forms of exclusion is to double down on theories of racial hierarchy that tell a story about how the people being locked out of the global Green Zone deserve their fate, whether it’s Trump casting Mexicans as rapists and “bad hombres,” and Syrian refugees as closet terrorists, or prominent Conservative Canadian politician Kellie Leitch proposing that immigrants be screened for “Canadian values,” or successive Australian prime ministers justifying those sinister island detention camps as a “humanitarian” alternative to death at sea.

This is what global destabilization looks like in societies that have never redressed their foundational crimes — countries that have insisted slavery and indigenous land theft were just glitches in otherwise proud histories. After all, there is little more Green Zone/Red Zone than the economy of the slave plantation — of cotillions in the master’s house steps away from torture in the fields, all of it taking place on the violently stolen indigenous land on which North America’s wealth was built. And now the same theories of racial hierarchy that justified those violent thefts in the name of building the industrial age are surging to the surface as the system of wealth and comfort they constructed starts to unravel on multiple fronts simultaneously.

Trump is just one early and vicious manifestation of that unraveling. He is not alone. He won’t be the last.

A Crisis of Imagination

It seems relevant that the walled city where the wealthy few live in relative luxury while the masses outside war with one another for survival is pretty much the default premise of every dystopian sci-fi movie that gets made these days, from “The Hunger Games,” with the decadent Capitol versus the desperate colonies, to “Elysium,” with its spa-like elite space station hovering above a sprawling and lethal favela. It’s a vision deeply enmeshed with the dominant Western religions, with their grand narratives of great floods washing the world clean and a chosen few selected to begin again. It’s the story of the great fires that sweep in, burning up the unbelievers and taking the righteous to a gated city in the sky. We have collectively imagined this extreme winners-and-losers ending for our species so many times that one of our most pressing tasks is learning to imagine other possible ends to the human story in which we come together in crisis rather than split apart, take down borders rather than erect more of them.

Because the point of all that dystopian art was never to act as a temporal GPS, showing us where we are inevitably headed. The point was to warn us, to wake us — so that, seeing where this perilous road leads, we can decide to swerve.

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” So said Thomas Paine many years ago, neatly summarizing the dream of escaping the past that is at the heart of both the colonial project and the American Dream. The truth, however, is that we do not have this godlike power of reinvention, nor did we ever. We must live with the messes and mistakes we have made, as well as within the limits of what our planet can sustain.

But we do have it in our power to change ourselves, to attempt to right past wrongs, and to repair our relationships with one another and with the planet we share. It’s this work that is the bedrock of shock resistance.


Adapted from the new book by Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, to be published by Haymarket Books on June 13. http://www.noisnotenough.org

A man is known by the company he keeps…… and the biggest LOSER

Days after the White House announced that it would not release visitor logs, the president hosted an unannounced dinner party that included Bat shit crazy Sarah Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee and a former Alaska governor, and Low life nut job rocker Ted Nuget and delusional Kid Rock who also supported him during the 2016 campaign.

Lookout out Ivanka 

Palin posted photos from the Oval Office on Thursday morning, including one in which she is chatting up the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“A great night at the White House. Thank you to President Trump for the invite!” she tweeted.

But it was the photo of Trump’s dinner guests trolling the Clinton photo that caught the most attention.

The bigoted anti semite Ted Nugent posted rambling thoughts on his Facebook page late Wednesday…………..

“So today is the 242nd anniversary of The Shot Heard Round The World is it! Well well well looky looky here boogie chillin’, I got your Shot Heard Round The World right here in big ol greazyass Washington DC where your 1 & only MotorCity Madman WhackMaster StrapAssasin1 dined with President Donald J Trump at the WhiteHouse to Make America Great Again! Got that? Glowing all American over the top WE THE PEOPLE gory details coming ASAP!! BRACE!”

The White House did not provide its own readout of the encounter.


The Loser………

Trump loves winning and winners, and all presidents love hanging out with sports champions. On Wednesday, Trump honored the New England Patriots for their overtime Super Bowl victory.

But many players skipped the ceremony in protest, and attendance was down noticeably from years past.


NEW POLL –United Airlines favored over Trump: A new poll measured the favorability of United Airlines compared to President Trump.

Forty-two percent say they prefer the airline company to Trump. Forty percent favor Trump over United instead, while 18 percent remain undecided between the two.



Whose is bigger Putin’s or Trump’s


More war porn from our ruler in chief “Bloatus prevaricator”

Washington (CNN) The US military has dropped an enormous bomb in Afghanistan, according to four US military officials with direct knowledge of the mission.

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” was dropped at 7:32 pm local time Thursday, the sources said. A MOAB is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition that is America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb.

The bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft, stationed in Afghanistan and operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump told CNN.

Officials said the target was an ISIS cave and tunnel complex and personnel in the Achin district of the Nangarhar province.

“The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said later Thursday. The strike “targeted a system of tunnels and cave that ISIS fighters use to move around freely.”

The military is currently assessing the damage. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, signed off on the use of the bomb, according to the sources. The authority to deploy the weapon was granted to Nicholson by the commander of US Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, Stump said.

This is the first time a MOAB has been used in the battlefield, according to the US officials. This munition was developed during the Iraq War.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Nicholson said in a statement following the strike.

“This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K,” Nicholson added.

“US forces took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties with this strike. US Forces will continue offensive operations until ISIS-K is destroyed in Afghanistan,” read the statement from US Forces Afghanistan.

The extent of the damage and whether anyone was killed is not yet clear. The military is currently conducting an assessment.

The Pentagon is currently reviewing whether to deploy additional trainers to Afghanistan to help bolster US allies there.

The Achin district is the primary center of ISIS activity in Afghanistan. A US Army Special Forces soldier was killed fighting the terror group there Saturday.


Meanwhile Putin brags about the “The Father of All Bombs” (FOAB)


Type      Thermobaric bomb

Place of origin    Russia

Service history Used by   Russian Air Force

Designer              Russian military

Produced             2007

Specifications Weight      7,100 kg (15,650 lb)

Filling     High explosive and fine aluminium powder and ethylene oxide mix.

Blast yield            44 tons TNT / 80,000 Ibs

Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP) Russian: Авиационная вакуумная бомба повышенной мощности (АВБПМ), nicknamed “Father of All Bombs” (FOAB) Russian: “Отец всех бомб” (“Овб”), is a Russian-designed, bomber-delivered thermobaric weapon.

The bomb is reportedly four times as powerful as the US military’s GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (whose official military acronym “MOAB” is often unofficially rendered as “Mother of All Bombs”). This Russian device would therefore be the most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) weapon in the world.The veracity of Russia’s claims concerning the weapon’s size and power have been questioned by US defense analysts.

“FOAB” was successfully field-tested in the late evening of September 11, 2007. The new weapon is to replace several smaller types of nuclear bombs in its arsenal.

Fireball blast from the Russian “Father of All Bombs”, with the beginnings of a mushroom cloud

The thermobaric device yields the equivalent of 44 tons of TNT using about seven tons of a new type of high explosive. Because of this, the bomb’s blast and pressure wave have a similar effect to a small tactical nuclear weapon, although on a smaller scale.[5][clarification needed] The bomb works by detonating in mid-air. Most damage is inflicted by a supersonic shockwave and extremely high temperatures.[4][6] Thermobaric weapons differ from conventional explosive weapons in that they generate a longer, more sustained blast wave with greater temperatures. In doing so, they produce more damage over a larger area than a conventional weapon of similar mass.

Compared with MOAB    Edit

According to General Alexander Rushkin, the Russian deputy chief of staff, the new bomb is smaller than the MOAB but much deadlier because the temperature at the centre of the blast is twice as high. He says the bomb’s capabilities are comparable to nuclear weapons, but unlike nuclear weaponry known for its radioactive fallout, use of the weapon does not damage or pollute the environment beyond the blast radius.

In comparison, the MOAB produces the equivalent of 11 tons of TNT from 8 tons of high explosive. The blast radius of the FOAB is 300 meters, almost double that of the MOAB, and the temperature produced is twice as high.


Indicator              MОАВ[9]                                FОАВ[10]

Mass:                 8.2 tonnes                                   7.1 tonnes

TNT equivalent: 11 tons (22,000 lb)           ≈44 tons (≈88,000 lb)

Blast radius:        150 meters (492 ft)          300 meters (984 ft)

Guidance:            INS/GPS               Unknown (presumably GLONASS)


Some defense analysts question both the yield of the bomb and whether it could be deployed by a Tupolev Tu-160 bomber. A report by Wired says photos and the video of the event suggest that it is designed to be deployed from the rear of a slow moving cargo plane, and they note that the bomb-test video released by the Russians never shows both the bomb and the bomber in the same camera shot. There are also questions on what type of explosives it used. They quoted Tom Burky, a senior research scientist at Battelle, saying “It’s not even clear what kind of weapon the Russians tested.” He questions if it was what some experts call a fuel-air explosive or if it was a thermobaric weapon. “Fuel-air and thermobaric bombs differ in usefulness”. Burky says that the weapon depicted in the video appears to be a fuel-air explosive, based on its shape.

German military analyst Sascha Lange speaking at Deutsche Welle pointed out multiple discrepancies of the released video and expressed his skepticism.

John Pike, an analyst at the think tank GlobalSecurity, says he believes the weapon is roughly as powerful as the Russians claim. What he does not necessarily believe is that the weapon is new. He says the Russians have possessed a range of thermobaric weapons for at least four decades. Pike says “These are fuel-air explosives, designed to generate intense blast pressure over a large area. It is reported that the Russian bomb is a so-called thermobaric bomb that produces both blast and heat. The Russian military has been a pioneer in the development and use of these thermobaric weapons. This would have to be one of the largest deliverable, droppable bombs in military history.”

Robert Hewson, an editor for Jane’s Information Group, told the BBC it was likely that FOAB indeed represented the world’s biggest non-nuclear bomb. “You can argue about the numbers and how you scale this but the Russians have a long and proven history of developing weapons in the thermobaric class”, he says. UPI claimed the device “would enormously boost Russia’s conventional military capabilities”.

Breaking: Trinity County rejects East-West Railroad

The Trinity County Transportation Commission held a Special Meeting at the Library in Weaverville today. The hearing was before a packed meeting room and lasted for about three hours.

There was lots of public comment with no one from Trinity County speaking up for the grant or the project. Some rail promoters from Eureka including David Hull spoke in favor.

In the end a motion was made by commissioner Burton and failed to get a second. So the Grant is rejected and the project appears to have been dealt a fatal blow.

Important chance to stop the East-West Railroad in Weaverville March 9, 10am


The Trinity County Transportation Commission will hold a Special Meeting at the Library in Weaverville March 9, 2017 at 10:00am 

We here at the Examiner have a long history of calling out this Arkley inspired Railroad boondoggle so we’ve included some links to previous post we’ve put up on the subject followed by an excellent and timely action alert from our friends ad epic:











Alert from EPIC:

The Trinity County Board of Supervisors are considering investing in a feasibility study for a railroad that could be routed through wilderness areas and cross several of the region’s rivers including the Trinity, Mad and Van Duzen Rivers. Help us stop this destructive project dead in its tracks by sending a letter to Trinity County Board of Supervisors.

Click here to tell the Trinity Board of Supervisors to reject wasting taxpayer money on a fruitless railroad study.  The Trinity Board of Supervisors, sitting in special session as the Trinity County Transportation Commission, is set torail-fail decide on whether to spend $355,000—$276,000 of which coming from you, the taxpayer—on a feasibility study for a proposed railroad connecting Eureka to the west with Gerber, CA to the east. This proposed rail line would be an ecological and fiscal disaster. Let’s stop this bad idea in its tracks. So far, the Trinity Board of Supervisors has only heard from rail fans, a loud but small group. Now it’s time for them to hear from the rest of us! Tell the Trinity Board of Supervisors to reject wasting taxpayer money on a fruitless railroad study.

An east-west railroad has already been extensively studied, starting way back in the 1909 Lentell study and ending with the 2013 study produced for the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. Rail fans insist that these previous studies are inadequate or biased and therefore we need to look at the problem again. Evidently, rail proponents will not be content until a study concludes what they want to hear.

Based on the previous railroad studies, here are four quick reasons why funding this study is a bad idea:

(1) The railroad would be an ecological disaster

Trains are often billed as a “green” form of transportation, but developing this rail line would be an ecological disaster. All feasible routes would need to run across or near important rivers, such as the Trinity, Mad, Van Duzen and others—many of which are designated as “Wild and Scenic”—and are expected to produce significant sediment and other pollution. All feasible routes would impact existing wilderness areas or would run through potential future wilderness areas.

A rail line would only be economically feasible with a massively developed Humboldt Bay. As one of the most important stops in the Pacific Flyway and a critical aquatic ecosystem home to engendered fish, such as coho salmon and eulachon, Humboldt Bay is a unique ecological treasure. The development necessary to make Humboldt Bay a major West Coast port is extreme and would spoil the bay’s natural beauty and ecological integrity.

Coal is one commodity that may be shipped to Humboldt Bay for export to China. (Indeed, coal trains are one of the presumptive types of trains used in a previous feasibility study.) Coal trains are known polluters—leaving long plumes of coast dust in their wake—they have been sued for violating the Clean Water Act violation, and are the issue of carbon emissions from the export of coal.

(2) The railroad would serve a non-existent market

In short, even if a rail line existed, a port at Humboldt Bay would not make much sense. First, the bay itself is not conducive to the large transport ships in vogue. Rail proponents highlight that Humboldt Bay is one of the few deepwater harbors along the West Coast. However, this ignores the substantial work that would need to be done to get the harbor in condition to handle large boats. The bay would need to be dredged to a deep depth and the construction of large docks and other infrastructure would be necessary. Similarly, the narrowness of the Samoa Peninsula would limit the amount of rail traffic, reducing its feasibility.

Second, other competitive disadvantages—the amount of traffic necessary to generate sufficient net revenue to pay for the line (among the largest amount of volume on the West Coast), the lack of advantage in rail distance in comparison to other ports, the connection only to the Union Pacific line and not the BNSF line—outweigh whatever advantages Humboldt Bay offers. As the most recent feasibility study concludes, “development of rail service to Humboldt County is likely to be both high cost and high risk.”

(3) The railroad would cost a fortune to build and to maintain

No matter the alignment, the rail line would cost over a billion dollars, with a cost per mile generally over five million dollars. Maintenance costs would also be huge. Given the challenging geology, the most recent feasibility study anticipates annual costs of $90,000 per mile and a cumulative sum of $18-20 million. These same high operating costs were the deathblow to the rail line that once ran along the Eel River. Why would this be any different today?

All of this is at a time when Caltrans struggles to maintain our existing roadways. Access to the coast is constantly at risk, from Last Chance Grade, which is slipping into the sea, to Highway 299, which seems to be constantly under siege from the nearby mountain. Let’s work on fixing our existing infrastructure before spending a huge amount on a risky railroad.

(4) Our geography would reduce train speeds to a crawl

It is no secret: the North Coast is a wild tangle of mountains and rivers. This unique geography makes getting to the coast difficult—as evidenced by the routine closures of our major highways and the failure of previous rail lines. (This geography also makes this place a lovely and interesting place to live, but that’s for another day.) A fundamental issue facing an east/west rail line is our geology. The steep slopes would require many miles of twisting tracks to switchback up hills. Previous feasibility studies limited the average speed that could safely be achieved at 25 mph, a snail’s pace. In fact, the pace is so slow, and the distance so long, that halfway to its final destination, there would need to be a pit stop for crews to shift. And forget about passenger rail—can you imagine how torturous that ride would be?

The past feasibility studies proved that a railway of that size and distance is audacious and unnecessary.




Humboldt’s East West Rail booster Monte Provolt v. Trinity’s Rail skeptic Patrick Meagher

lego trains

 Rail study worthwhile

Monte Provolt Blue Lake, Calif.

Witnessing the demise of the timber industry, and watching most non-governmental jobs disappear, some of us began looking for solutions to the failing Northern California economy.

Governmental agencies began studying different ways to utilize Humboldt Bay’s deep water port. They studied short sea shipping, they studied the now defunct north-south rail route, plus several private reports. The conclusion was that transportation based on one-way exportation would not be cost effective. Without having a connection to the national rail system allowing loads to move in both directions, it just would not pay.

Many of us remember when Humboldt Bay was a vibrant, active seaport having nearly 300 ships visit per year.

Much of the ships’ cargo consisted of chips and logs that were trucked all the way from southern Oregon and the Sacramento Valley.

With this in mind a group of us decided to revisit the idea of a rail connection to the Sacramento Valley that was abandoned when Highway 299 was built.

Researching other large projects we soon realized the first step would be to have a comprehensive, complete feasibility study done. The experts we talked with advised us that a study for a project this size would cost around $300,000.

At this point we realized there was a group of extreme no-growthers that felt threatened by the idea of a railroad coming back to Humboldt County. We soon learned that just asking if the project was feasible, was not acceptable to them.

One document the no-growthers like to refer to, is the rail study commissioned by the Harbor District.

It should be pointed out, when they refer to this study, they fail to give the actual title of the study which is “East West rail pre-feasibility study.” It should also be pointed out that the money used to pay for the study ($20,000) was left over from a much larger transportation grant ($250,000) studying existing road easements near the pulp mill site.

This underfunded study consists of cut and pasted parts from non east west rail related studies like the short sea shipping study, the north south rail study, among other private studies. When the study does refer to the east west route, it only looks at freight being transported in one direction, completely ignoring the fact the trains would be traveling with full loads in both directions. No wonder the study calls the route marginal.

Looking at the description of the route it is clear not much work went into research. For example, one of the routes goes through the Black Rock wilderness area.

When I was a member of the Harbor District’s economic development committee, I had a chance to ask the author of the Harbor Districts study if he thought his study was complete. He stated that it was very underfunded and a more in-depth study should be made. When I asked if he saw any fatal flaws in the East/West Rail concept, his answer was “no.” The meeting was recorded, and a copy should be available at the Harbor District office.

Another paper studying the East/West Rail was commissioned by Humboldt County Sup. Mark Lovelace. The Humboldt University grad students also came to the same conclusion, the East/West Rail concept should have a more in-depth study made. This study seems to have disappeared.

Trinity County should be congratulated for stepping up, and pushing this feasibility study forward.

I realize there is considerable push-back from a small group of no-growthers, but Trinity County realizes the East/West rail study is an extremely valuable planning tool for the future economies of all Northern California.



The Caltrans economic model

 Patrick Meagher Weaverville

So, let’s put the pieces together that I have provided in my previous commentaries on the Up-state Rail Connect Study along with some new facts.

First, a 2013 study on the same subject established that rail line construction is feasible at a cost of more than a billion dollars and evaluated the project as high-cost and high-risk. New information from a trusted source is that the 2013 study was funded by Caltrans for the Humboldt Bay Harbor District. The 2013 study also pointed out that the cost to construct cargo terminal facilities in Humboldt Bay is more than $200 million.

Second, I have established that Caltrans has stated in a public document that they are now engaged along with Humboldt Bay seaport advocates in the economic development business, an area way outside Caltrans’ expertise. That fact, plus their funding of a new study on the same subject, may be worthy of a complaint to California State Auditor’s Office.

Third, Humboldt Bay, described in Caltrans documents as a “small port” and a “niche port,” has no port terminal facilities, no port terminal operator and, no maritime shipping company has expressed interest in using the port.

Now, more new information. I have had the opportunity to review the grant application for the new Caltrans funded study. The applicant is the Trinity County Transportation Commission whose executive director is Richard Tippett. To quote from the text of the grant proposal, “to better utilize this port (Humboldt Bay) Caltrans is modernizing Highway 299 — Rail is the only freight transportation piece missing.” So, here we are. More proof that Caltrans is in the economic development business.

This small, niche port for which Caltrans funded the initial 2013 rail connect study, now considers the study results to be too pessimistic. So Caltrans has organized another study at the cost of a quarter million dollars plus so that they can control the results through the Upstate RailConnect Committee.

Now for the best part, the Trinity County Transportation Commission is roped into management of this project for the sole benefit of Caltrans and Humboldt Bay seaport advocates’ agenda. I can hear the beginning of the giant Caltrans sucking sound when the Trinity County Transportation Commission agrees to manage this do-over of a perfectly acceptable 2013 rail connect study at their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 20.