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Sunday, December 23, 2018

News Alert: Trump pushes out Jim Mattis early, names deputy Patrick Shanahan as acting secretary of defense

President Trump announced that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will leave the administration nearly two months earlier than expected, and he will be replaced by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

“I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!” the president said in a Sunday tweet.

A Viewer Writes: Offices of Maryland Broadband Raided

The offices of Maryland Broadband were raided by the FBI this morning, and apparently both the MD and FL homes of the CEO Pat Mitchell.

Today's Survey Question 12-22-18

If Christmas were to be celebrated every year on the same day of the week, which day would be best?

McCain Was Responsible For Steele Dossier Leak

A longtime associate of late Arizona Senator John McCain leaked a copy of the infamous Steele Dossier to BuzzFeed News, according to a Wednesday court filing, according to the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross.

McCain dispatched former State Department official David Kramer to London on November 28, 2016 where Dossier author Christopher Steele reportedly allowed Kramer to see it, while a copy was later provided to McCain through Kramer. McCain then provided a copy of the document to former FBI Director James Comey during a December 9 meeting, according to an October 2017 Daily Caller report.

On Wednesday, thanks to a filing by US District Court Ursula Ungaro as part of a final report ahead of her ruling in BuzzFeed's favor in a defamation lawsuit, we learn that Kramer provided BuzzFeed a copy of the dossier during a December 29, 2016 meeting. As the Caller notes, it is unclear whether Kramer actually gave BuzzFeed's Ken Bensinger a copy, or if Bensinger took photos of the document - or both.


Come On America...

MObama & W - This Isn't News. This Is War Crimes Apologia

The fact that George W Bush has given Michelle Obama two pieces of candy is once again making headlines in mainstream outlets like Time, The Hill, and Newsweek.

He has not given her any new pieces of candy since the last time he did so at his father’s funeral. He also has not ceased to be the man who facilitated the murder of a million Iraqis and inflicted a whole new level of military expansionism and Orwellian surveillance upon our world. As near as I can tell, the only reason this story is once again making headlines is because Michelle Obama and the mainstream media have decided to bring it up again.

“He has the presence of mind and the sense of humor to bring me a mint, and he made it a point to give me that mint right then and there and that’s the beauty of George Bush,” Obama said of the war criminal in conversation at the SAP Center over the weekend, which we apparently need to know about because the news is telling us about it.

“We’re all Americans. We all care about our family and our kids, and we’re trying to get ahead,” Obama continued.

“And that’s how I feel about [Bush]. You know? He’s a beautiful, funny, kind, sweet man.”


Jim Acosta Honored to Be Named Time Magazine's 'Person of the Year'

Shortly before the most objectively influential and inspiring person on the planet, President Donald Trump, owned lib leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in an Oval Office debate smackdown, TIME Magazine announced its choice for 2018 "Person of the Year." And the winner is: "The Guardians and the War on Truth."

Specifically, the title belongs to journalists who have been killed or imprisoned in recent years, because awarding this honor to journalists writ large would have been a tad pretentious, even for journalists. The implication was not lost on the true heroes: American reporters who cover the Trump administration.


Single Bidder Awarded Scoper Franchise In OC

OCEAN CITY — Resort officials this week approved the one and only bid for one of the two available beach photography franchises that came in slightly over the minimum acceptable bid.

Continuing a theme prevalent throughout Monday’s meeting, the Mayor and Council approved the bid for one of two beach photography franchises. Earlier in the meeting, the council learned there was only one bid for the town’s vehicle vending franchise and that the results of the recent auction for the north-end beach equipment bidding revealed only single bidders in a majority of the 18 parcels up for bid in the current cycle.

Ocean City’s beach photography franchise is essentially divided into two separate contracts and under the town’s code, one vendor can hold both franchises. By way of background, the beach photography franchise holder sends photographers, better known as “scopers,” on the beach each day in the summer to solicit residents and visitors to capture vacation memories through telescope-style pictures and other digital options. The two franchises are not divided geographically, but rather limit the number of photographers allowed on the beach to 15 each day.

The franchises are renewed every four years and the same vendor has held both of the town’s franchises for the last eight years. The current contract expired at the end of November and a new four-year contract was offered for both.


A Viewer Writes: New Agreement with Mexico

No funding for border security including fence or wall, but U.S. government t will give $10.6 BILLION to reduce migration from Latin American countries. If funds must be given to reduce migration, let us do both- border security with fence/wall and (although it seems wasteful) migration reduction funds.

House approves spending bill with $5.7B for border wall

The House of Representatives Thursday approved a bill that would fund most of the federal government through early February -- and provides $5.7 billion for President Trump's long-promised border wall, increasing the chances of a partial government shutdown later this week.

Eight Republicans joined all 177 voting Democrats to oppose the measure, which passed 217-185. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is certain to fall short of the 60 votes needed for passage since the chamber's 49 Democrats are against funding the wall. That, in turn, makes it more likely that parts of the federal government, including nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, will cease operations at midnight Friday.

The vote came hours after Trump told House GOP leaders that he would not enact a Senate-passed package that does not provide money for the barrier.


Michelle Obama Mocks Melania Trump For Doing The Same Thing She Did In 2009

Former first lady Michelle Obama appeared to cast fun at first lady Melania Trump again Tuesday on “The Tonight Show” over an exchange the two had on Inauguration Day when Trump handed Obama a baby blue Tiffany & Co. boxed gift.

Host Jimmy Fallon asked Obama what was going through her mind as she and her husband, former President Barack Obama, waved goodbye from Air Force One after the inauguration.

“A lot was going on that day … that was a day,” she responded, adding an anecdote about how her daughters wanted to have a sleepover with friends the night before the busy day.

“So there was that and the Tiffany’s box … it was just a lot,” Obama said, as she made a face in apparent attempt to take a swipe at Trump and the exchange the media deemed “one of the biggest mysteries of the Trump administration,” and one that “befuddled” the Obamas.


76-Year-Old Joe Biden Is Officially The Frontrunner For 2020 Democratic Nomination

With just over 400 days left until the Iowa caucuses (set for Feb. 3, 2020), a recent poll confirmed what many Americans probably already suspected: despite the growing popularity of progressives and Democratic Socialists like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (who won't be eligible to run for president until 2024), Vice President Joe Biden remains the most popular 2020 presidential contender.

To wit, a CNN/Des Moines Register poll released Saturday showed that former Vice President Joe Biden would likely win the Iowa caucuses if they were held tomorrow. He was followed by Bernie Sanders in second place, and Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke in third.


Do Americans really worry about the non-shutdown 'government shutdown'?

Chuck Schumer clearly thinks he's got a winning issue with blaming President Trump for a prospective "government shutdown" Friday, if no budget bill is passed that includes $5 billion for border wall improvements. Since he promises that no such money will be forthcoming from the Senate, he obviously anticipates the public reacting in horror over the Christmas holidays as federal employees labeled "non-essential" stay home.

But Rep. Thomas Massie, a libertarian-leaning GOP House member from Kentucky, has published an amazing graph that shows how meaningless this "disaster" really is for almost everybody:


Pot Addicts Are Okay But Legitimate Chronic Pain Sufferers In Need of Opioids? Not So Much.

There is a strange dichotomy taking place in society today. On the one hand, laws against marijuana are being eliminated. People who abuse pot are now able to feed their addiction with an overly generous supply of the drug. For example, in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal, users can purchase up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks. This is enough to be stoned every day. Once you have a prescription, you can refill it for an entire year without going back to renew the prescription. It’s easy to get a prescription in most states that have legalized medical marijuana, just inform a doctor you have pain. And if you live in a state like California that has legalized recreational marijuana, there aren’t even any limits on how much you can buy (just how much you can have on hand).

In contrast, opioids, which are commonly prescribed for chronic pain and have been legal for years (with the exception of heroin and some fentanyl) are becoming increasingly restricted. Legitimate chronic pain sufferers who depend on them to reduce their pain are finding themselves going days without any medication or undermedicated as a result of the new crackdown. It began because people were overdosing on opioids.


GoFundMe for Trump's border wall raises over $1M in just 3 days

A supporter of President Trump’s border wall proposal has started a GoFundMe to help pay for the project — and the fund skyrocketed to more than $2 million on Wednesday night after being live for just three days.

Brian Kolfage, a Trump voter and disabled Iraq War veteran with no connection to the administration, wrote that he set up the page because “President Trump’s main campaign promise was to BUILD THE WALL. And as he’s followed through on just about every promise so far, this wall project needs to be completed still.”

Trump campaigned on building a “great wall” on the southern border during the 2016 presidential election.

As the end of Trump’s second year in office comes to a close, his administration has not built the wall or secured funds for it — and a budget proposal passed Wednesday by the Senate did not fulfill Trump’s call to provide funds for it.


PIERS MORGAN: Stop, Michelle-For someone who hates going low your bitchy sniping at Melania is tacky

Oh Michelle.

Not you, too?

Just when I thought there was one person in public life that soared effortlessly and admirably above the incessantly ugly partisan trash-talk that pervades every second of American airspace these days, Mrs Obama has let me down.

And frankly, she has let herself down too.

Appearing on last night’s Jimmy Fallon show, Michelle inexplicably decided to plunge the bitchy knife firmly into the back of her successor as First Lady, Melania Trump.

The attack came after Fallon showed her a photo of her and husband Barack boarding Air Force One for the last time after Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

‘Can you just walk me through…,’ said Fallon.

But before he could even finish the question, Michelle interrupted with a sneering: ‘Bye Felicia!’

Fallon collapsed with laughter and the audience whooped with joy.


Super Bowl struggling to find acts to join Maroon 5 at halftime

Who would have thought that the Super Bowl Halftime show, an American institution watched by more than 100 million people, would become the least wanted gig in music? But thanks to the ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest, brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick, Maroon 5 are learning the precarious stance that the performance represents.

According to sources, the band has reached out to more than a half-dozen stars to appear as featured guests during the 13-minute slot midway through Super Bowl LIII, but so far, none have agreed to do it. Among those considering the appearance are Cardi B, who is featured on the Maroon 5 hit “Girls Like You,” which spent seven weeks at No. 1 over the fall (the rapper is also scheduled to appear at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 10) and Andre Benjamin, AKA Andre 3000 of beloved local act Outkast. Others — like Mary J. Blige — had been approached but faced scheduling conflicts; still more, like Usher, Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj, who performed at the 2012 Super Bowl with Madonna, are names rumored to be in the mix.


Joe Biden, 76, ponders whether he is too old to run for president in 2020

As he considers running for president, Joe Biden is talking with friends and longtime supporters about whether, at 76, he's too old to seek the White House, according to several sources who have spoken with the former Democratic vice president.

The discussions suggest Biden is aware that his age may be the biggest hurdle to launching another bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, especially in an era when many in the party yearn for a new generation of leadership. He would be the oldest person to ever be elected president.

Past and current advisers to Biden have held frequent conversations about options to alleviate concerns about age, including teaming him with a younger running mate.

One option that has been floated, according to a source with knowledge of the talks, is outgoing Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who at 46 has become the subject of intense 2020 speculation after nearly beating GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.



The Festering Social Rift Over Pensions

Why does he get to retire and I don't?

Most Americans will never be able to afford to retire.

We laid out the depressing math in our recent report Will Your Retirement Efforts Achieve Escape Velocity?:

The median retirement account balance among all working US adults is $0. This is true even for the cohort closest to retirement age, those 55-64 years old.

The average (i.e., mean) near-retirement individual has less than 8% of one year's income saved in a retirement account

77% of all American households aren't on track to have enough net worth to retire, even under the most conservative estimates.


There a number of causal factors that have contributed to this lack of retirement preparedness (decades of stagnant real wages, fast-rising cost of living, the Great Recession, etc), but as we explained in our report The Great Retirement Con, perhaps none has had more impact than the shift from dedicated-contribution pension plans to voluntary private savings: