Rocket Racer Named NASA Administrator

April 20, 2018

Rocket Racer Named NASA Administrator

The U.S. Senate voted 50-49 to confirm Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine (OK-1) as NASA Administrator. Mr. Bridestine, unlike the first 12 space agency leaders, is not a scientist or aerospace engineer, though he flew an E-2C Hawkeye turboprop in Latin America as part of the War on Drugs. Mr. Bridenstine’s more recent aerospace experience was as Executive Director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum., where he managed to put the museum in the hole by using its resources to fund a Rocket Racing League exhibition at the Tulsa Air Show in 2010. One of the owners of the Rocket Racing League was Jim Bridenstine, a classic case of self-dealing.

Annual budget of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum: $1 million. Annual budget of NASA: $18.5 billion. Houston, we have a problem.

More:

“How Trump’s NASA Nominee Used a Nonprofit He Ran to Benefit Himself,” Nick Schwellenbach and Adam Zagorin, Daily Beast

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Top photo: D J Shin – My Toy Museum via Wikimedia. 

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Landlords

April 19, 2018

The UK insurance firm HomeProject announced the “Landlord of the Year” last Monday. Rhik Samadder opines:

“Landlord of the year. Lol! Rofbhawuild! (Rolling on the floor, banging my head against the wall until I lose my deposit.) Who is it going to be? One who lets you have a pet? Some of my friends are landlords, and I’m sorry to say it, but they are going straight to hell too. Imagine how satisfyingly overcrowded the underworld must be with landlords; partitioning the seventh circle into seven more circles, charging each other extra for underfloor heating. The best thing you can say about them is that they are better than letting agents. But that’s like giving Stalin a humanitarian award for massacring fewer people than Genghis Khan. The fact is, they’re all rogue. Whether your landlord is a genial profiteer or an actual psychopath is the luck of the draw. Anyone can be one, if they have made enough money or inherited property, and those are two of the worst qualifications imaginable. Like anyone who thrives off the housing crisis, they are social parasites.”

Rhik Samadder, “Landlords are social parasites. They’re the last people we should be honouring,” The Guardian

Video: “Dear Landlord,” written by Bob Dylan, performed by Joe Cocker.

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Supreme Court to Rod Blagojevich: Stay In the Slammer

April 18, 2018

Supreme Court to Rod Blagojevich: Stay In the Slammer

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, the incarcerated Chicago Democrat who tried to sell Barack Obama’s vacant senate seat after the 2004 election. “Blago,” a devoted Elvis fan, is probably all shook up. He’s serving a 14-year sentence, and won’t be sprung until May 2024.

More:

“U.S. Supreme Court again rejects hearing Rod Blagojevich’s appeal,” Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Client Number Three

April 18, 2018

Client Number Three

After the FBI seized documents from his office, home, and hotel room, Trump fixer Michael Cohen is on trial in New York for as-yet unspecified federal crimes, most likely bank fraud and campaign law violations relating to his hush money payoffs to women on behalf of his adulterous clients Donald Trump and Elliott Broidy. Mr. Cohen isn’t much of a lawyer, but he’s had one more client, whose identity he tried to withholdJudge Kimba Wood wasn’t having it, and “client number three” turned out to be Sean Hannity, the vociferous defender of Donald Trump and Michael Cohen on Fox News. Hilarity ensued.

More:

“Yes, Sean Hannity was a legal client of Michael Cohen’s,” Philip Bump, Washington Post

“No Disclosure? No Problem. Sean Hannity Gets a Pass at Fox News.” Michael M. Grynbaum and John Koblin, New York Times

“Sean Hannity’s idea of ‘attorney-client privilege’ was right out of ‘Breaking Bad,’”  Kyle Swenson, Washington Post

“Sean Hannity’s Ties to Two More Trump-Connected Lawyers,” Rosie Gray, The Atlantic

“Michael Cohen and the Busting of the Trump Crime Family,” Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“Trump Should Be Worried by Cohen Probe. Really Worried.” Noah Feldman,  Bloomberg View

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Top image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Tax Day Doesn’t Have to Suck

April 17, 2018

“The IRS could actually do your taxes for you, saving billions of dollars and hundreds of millions of hours, and eliminating the pain of tax day.” A Vox video.

More:

“Doing taxes is such a pain that Americans forgo billions in savings to just get it over with,” Dan Kopf, Quartz

Related:

“IRS electronic filing system breaks down hours before midnight deadline,” Jeffrey Stein and Mike DeBonis, Washington Post

“Americans don’t pay enough taxes,” Paul Waldman, The Week

“Trump files for an extension on his taxes,” Louis Nelson, Politico

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Rush Hour

April 16, 2018

“Rush Hour,” a short film by Fernando Livschitz.

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Michael Cohen Goes to Court Today

April 16, 2018

Michael Cohen, personal lawyer of Donald Trump, will be in U.S. District Court in New York this afternoon, trying to exclude thousands of documents seized by the FBI from the federal case against him. Mr. Cohen has been charged by Deputy U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami, not (as in the SNL skit above) Robert Mueller. Since Mr. Cohen has only one client, Donald Trump, the case against Michael Cohen is more of a present threat to Mr. Trump than the Mueller investigation. And since Michael Cohen serves Donald Trump in the capacity of bagman and fixer, not as a lawyer, attorney-client privilege does not apply. In any case, a lawyer abetting a client in criminal acts cannot hide behind privilege.

More:

“Trump advisers see Cohen probe as greater threat to Trump than Mueller: report,” Max Greenwood, The Hill

“What Exactly Was Michael Cohen Doing for Donald Trump?” David A. Graham, The Atlantic

“Trump Wants to Review Seized Michael Cohen Materials Before Federal Prosecutors,” Margaret Hartmann, New York Magazine

“Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency,” Adam Davidson, The New Yorker

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Night Time In Old Shanghai

April 15, 2018

“Night Time In Old Shanghai,” by Whitey Smith and the Majestic Hotel Orchestra. The song was released on a 1928 Victor recording.

“When it’s night time in dear old Shanghai
and I’m dancing, sweetheart, with you.
Then it’s bright time in dear old Shanghai
with our lips, oh, felt so true.
In my arms, dear, long way from home, dear
we’ll let the rest of the world go by.
While the moon shines bright we will make love
when it’s night time in old Shanghai.”

More:

“Our leading man in Shanghai jazz, Whitey Smith, will soon be ready with his next hit.” Shanghai Modern, 13 April 1927.

“Jazz Bandleader Whitey Smith, ‘The Man Who Taught China to Dance’ in Shanghai, 1920s-1930s,” Andrew Field, Shanghai Sojourns

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I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More)

April 15, 2018

“I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More),” recorded by Barbara George, 1961. The song is credited to the New Orleans singer but may have been written by her mother, Eula Mae Jackson.

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Firelight

April 15, 2018

“Firelight,” Young the Giant at Armoury Studios in Vancouver, 2014.

Young the Giant website

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