May 27 2016

The Breakfast Club (Ask Alice)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Golden Gate Bridge opens to the public; U.N. Tribunal indicts Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic; the British Navy sinks Nazi Germany’s battleship Bismarck; Actor Christopher Reeve is paralyzed.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

To err is human. To blame someone else is politics.
Hubert H. Humphrey

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May 26 2016

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Shot Dead)

The New Guy


Trevor’s last guest this week is supposed to be Tip “T.I.” Harris.

This will be somewhat interesting. During last night’s concert at Irving Plaza, a Manhattan club, one of the rappers in a supporting act, identified as Troy Ave, opened fire in the Green Room above the stage area and killed an associate of his, Ronald McPhatter. Three other people were shot including Troy Ave who is now under arrest for attempted murder and criminal possession of a fire arm.

Two of them were apparently concert goers unrelated to the dispute.

One bullet pierced the floor and struck a 34-year-old man in the chest, Chief Boyce said, and a 26-year-old woman who was in the V.I.P. area was hit in the leg. They both remained at Bellevue Hospital in stable condition, according to the police.

Even in The City (or especially) people understand that it’s not survival thinking to just stand around when there are bullets flying around so there was a rush for the exits in which several more were injured.

This has caused somewhat of a stir in New York City media, or at least WCBS Newsradio 88 (Traffic and Weather together on the 8s at 8, 18, 28, 38, 48, and 58 minutes past the hour) which I listen to when I’m driving. Some officials like William J. Bratton, the police commissioner, were quick to condemn Rap Music as celebrating a culture of drugs and violence. Mayor DiBlasio had a more nuanced take and said that most Rap Music didn’t celebrate drugs and violence and that there were plenty of other genres that also had isolated examples of that kind of sentiment.

While it would certainly be interesting and topical if Trevor had T.I. perform tonight I don’t think it will happen and I’d be pleasantly surprised if he mentioned it at all.

Mr. Continuity

Security Theater

Larry’s last panelist this week is LeVar Burton.

Mr. Mainstream

Hard to believe he sang Uneasy Rider

Stephen’s guests this week are-

Another interesting thing to see tonight is if Neil Young addresses the fact that he has withdrawn his objection to Donald Trump (who just today secured the last delegates needed to become the Republican nominee for President) using his music in campaign appearances.

May 26 2016

Drones, Corporations and Assassinations

I recently attended a party for investigative journalist and founding editor of The Intercept Jeremy Scahill’s new book, The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program and party it was. The Intercept staff gave talks interspersed with music and food. Glenn Greenwald, the other founding editor, appeared via live feed from Brazil. In his presentation, Jeremy discussed the new book, and the lead candidates of both parties for the presidential nomination. It was a stark honest and objective assessment and gave the audience of about 300 a lot to contemplate. None of them have clean hands. Below is Jeremy’s interview with Truthout‘s Laura Flanders. The transcript can be read here


Jeremy Scahill: Corporations Are Making a Killing Off US Targeted Killing
Laura Flanders, Truthout

If drone warfare has come up at all this election season, it’s been in passing. The candidates don’t differ much on the use of pilotless drones. But how is the face of war changing, and how do our peace movements need to respond?

Jeremy Scahill is an award-winning investigative journalist and a founding editor of The Intercept. He’s the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Dirty Wars (the book and the film), and now The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program, written with the staff of The Intercept.

Scahill joined me recently for a conversation that ranged from “death by metadata,” to corporations in the kill chain and the military-industrial complex.

May 26 2016

The International Internet Cat Fight

Sunday night, the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver sparked an international, internet cat fight when he criticized the leader of Chechnya, Kremlin-backed Ramzan Kadyrov who posted an internet appeal to find his lost cat, a so-called toyger, a domestic cat bred to resemble a tiger cub.

Last week, Kadyrov posted a message on Instagram to ask for help in locating the animal. “We have begun to seriously worry,” he wrote, asking for anyone with information on the cat’s whereabouts to get in touch.

During the sketch on Sunday, Oliver said Kadyrov, who posts regular videos of his work-outs in the gym on Instagram, is “basically like a can of Monster energy drink come to life”. He also teased the Chechen for his propensity to wear T-shirts bearing the image of president Vladimir Putin. [..]

Kadyrov’s Instagram response to Oliver was accompanied by a long text in semi-comprehensible English: “The anchorman comedian – John Oliver asks millions of viewers to look for a cat. I knew long ago that in the USA unevenly breathe to my younger friends. One day horses aren’t allowed to jump, the other – a cat is a real star of a show,” he wrote. [..]

Despite the apparent seriousness of the initial post looking for the cat, Kadyrov suggested the whole affair was more of a storm in a teacup, and that the cat had merely left to reproduce.

“By cat rumors he has in our district a familiar she-cat with which he’s going to start a family. I’m sure that after spring affairs, the cat will return to native walls. Perhaps, he’ll bring his sweet love with him,” Kadyrov wrote.

May 26 2016

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Charles M. Blow: Violence Is Never the Answer

As I watched violence erupt on television among anti-Donald Trump protesters in Albuquerque, on Tuesday, my heart sank. This outbreak came on the heels of the chaotic scene at the state Democratic convention in Nevada and death threats against the state party chairwoman there.

I understand the frustration and the desire for change, but violence simply isn’t the way to create it. Once violence springs forth, moral authority dries up.

I understand the fear, anger and even rage that the systems that govern this country and the citizens who constitute it could allow — and even enthusiastically cheer — the ascendance of a demagogue like Trump. [..]

But here is a hard truth: There are no quick and easy fixes in this country. Everything you call broken was broken bit by bit over a long time and must be fixed the same way.

Democracy is an exercise in patience and persistence, not quick corrections.

The way we fix our systems and our politics is not only with vociferous displays in the moment, but also with vigilant crusades over a lifetime

Heather Digby Parton: Why Trump’s attack on Susana Martinez matters: He proves again that unity isn’t his goal — only dominance over everyone

After the 2012 GOP “autopsy” which strongly recommended that the Republican party take immediate action to try to mend its bad reputation with Latinos and women lest it be shut out of the White House for decades, one of the people mentioned most often by GOP strategists as a natural choice for the national ticket was New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. She was considered a rising star in Republican circles, a Latina who had been able to win in a blue state that went for Barack Obama twice. She had given a barn-burner of a speech at the 2012 convention and was widely assumed to be one of the new faces of the Republican party in an era of changing demographics.

That was then. Today, the GOP is the party of Donald Trump and we know he doesn’t listen to political experts and believes that whatever thoughts pass through his head are nuggets of sheer genius not to be questioned by mere mortals. [..]

If we didn’t know him better we might have assumed that he would be looking at a Latina Republican governor like Martinez as someone who could help him unify the party. He might even have tried to seduce her into joining him on the ticket to help him with women and Hispanics, the two demographics who are most hostile to him. It would take quite a demonstration of that Trump charm people keep insisting he has underneath his otherwise loathsome personality because Martinez is a Trump skeptic. This is unsurprising since she represents a border state full of Latinos and has logically questioned his daft proposal for a wall. When he came to Albuquerque this week for one of his rallies she said she was too busy to attend.

The Donald was not amused.

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May 26 2016

The Breakfast Club (There Are No Strangers Here)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Allied troops begin their evacuation from Dunkirk, France; President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial ends with his acquittal; Actor John Wayne is born; Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie marry.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.
William Butler Yeats

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May 25 2016

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Apocalypse)

The New Guy

Katie Couric Exclusive Extended

My Dad, The NRA Conventioneer

Trevor’s guests this week are-

Mr. Continuity

I haven’t forgotten about you

Pardon the Integration

Larry’s panelists this week are-

Mr. Mainstream

Lewis Black- Optimist


Midnight Confessions

Stephen’s guests this week are-

James McAvoy will undoubtedly be on to talk about X Men: Apocalyse where he is the young (and now properly bald) Professor X to Patrick Stewart’s older original.

I have mixed feelings about the X Men, I’m passingly familiar with the comic and I’ll agree that some of the movies are just awful (X2 anyone?) but others that people really hate like Wolverine don’t strike me as being all that bad. Maybe as a non-Fan I simply don’t understand how they represent a complete character betrayal. It’s mildly amusing to me that I didn’t get that Quicksilver in Age of Ultron is supposed to be the Quicksilver in Days of Future Past they didn’t seem at all the same. I though his slow-mo scenes in the X-Men version were quirky and amusing, his Avenger incarnation was simply an asshole for most of the film and then a tragic casualty. No, I didn’t see that coming, I was sure it would be Hawkeye, he had all the red shirt cliches working for him- last mission, nice family with another on the way, big plans for a quiet future on a farm.

Well, surprise.

Evidently Apocalypse will be a reprise of Days for Quicksilver (who still lives in his Mother’s basement) though I understand Cyclops might get some screen time after being practically invisible in the previous X Men entries.

May 25 2016

Solving Puerto Rico’s Financial Problems

Bernie says bail out Puerto Rico: Sanders details how the feds should rescue the territory as they did big banks
by David Dayen, Salon
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 05:59 AM EST

Puerto Rico has been reeling from a decade of recession, and successive governments papered over those problems with excessive borrowing. Last year, Gov. Alejandro García Padilla called Puerto Rico’s debt, around $73 billion, “not payable.” The island has already defaulted on small debt payments three times, and engaged in grinding austerity to manage the rest. Hundreds of thousands have left as poverty and unemployment skyrockets. Defaulting on a July 1 debt payment of $1.9 billion would further devastate the island.

Territories like Puerto Rico cannot use U.S. bankruptcy laws, and the island cannot seek help from the IMF or the World Bank as a sovereign country might. Puerto Rico’s creditors – mostly mutual funds and “vulture” hedge funds that scooped up debt at a massive discount (as low as 29 cents on the dollar) in search of a payday – have little incentive to make a deal because the laws work so completely in their favor.

After months of inaction, House negotiators released the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) after bipartisan talks. PROMESA would institute a seven-member fiscal oversight board, the majority of whom would be selected by Congressional leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Puerto Ricans have no say in the board; members must have bond market and financial experience but cannot be a current or former elected official from the island. The oversight board would be able to institute more cuts, supersede local laws, lower the island’s minimum wage, and as a last resort institute a court-approved debt restructuring, as long as it is “in the best interest of creditors.”

It’s hard to see this as anything but a colonization of Puerto Rico. Even supporters of the bill acknowledge that. They see it as the only opportunity for Puerto Rico to avoid disaster by obtaining the ability to restructure its debt, given the makeup of this Congress. Hillary Clinton, who expressed “serious concerns” about the plan, nonetheless said Friday, “we must move forward with the legislation.”

This is precisely what Sanders rejects. This artificial constraining of choices, he believes, leads to terrible outcomes. He outlined his alternative, which does not require approval from Congress, in a memo.

Section 14(2) allows the Fed to purchase “bonds and notes of the United States” with a maturity date of six months. Though Puerto Rico is not a state, it is considered part of the Second Federal Reserve District based in New York. According to a paper by Arturo Estrella, an economics professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, most Federal Reserve regulations treat Puerto Rico like a state, meaning the Fed could purchase the island’s debt short-term. After the six-month maturity, Puerto Rico could roll over the debt repeatedly until they can pay it down once the economy recovers.

There are other alternatives. The Fed could capitalize a separate corporation, similar to the New Deal-era Reconstruction Finance Corporation, to provide financial support to Puerto Rico. Congress could await the results of an active Supreme Court case that would allow Puerto Rico to use a local law to restructure its public corporation debt. They could investigate whether Puerto Rican debt was unconstitutionally issued, as an audit committee on the island is now doing.

The larger point Sanders makes is this: “when there’s a will, there’s a way.” The Fed and the Treasury Department moved heaven and earth in 2008, lending to dozens of non-bank corporations and opening up numerous credit facilities to bail out Wall Street. At that time they interpreted their powers broadly, with relentless imagination to massaging the rules. If they can do that, Sanders tells Salon, they can “facilitate an orderly debt restructuring to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.”

(H)e’s not wrong about the level to which the Fed and the Treasury did handstands to get help to Wall Street, without exhibiting the same urgency for others. If there are legitimate alternatives to an unelected shadow government imposing its will on Puerto Rico, they should be taken. As Sanders puts it, “We must stop treating Puerto Rico like a colony and start treating the American citizens of Puerto Rico with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”

May 25 2016

How Influential Will Sanders’ Picks For The Platform Committee Be?

We’ll see, but the answer is likely to be, “Not very.”

There are a couple of problems, the primary one (not a pun) is that nobody pays a damn bit of attention to platforms anyway, except of course your opponent, who will thoroughly analyze every piece of punctuation to see if any out of context snippet can be used to rally their base, influence swing voters (not that there are that many of them really), or suppress your turn out. Candidates in general don’t consider the platform binding on the campaign at all, they won nomination with their own agenda and why fix what ain’t broke?

If you doubt the truth of this consider how many times Candidates have disavowed their Party Platform during the General Election if it proved inconvenient and how few have actually kept their promises once safely elected.

The other big problem is that Sanders’ picks don’t have enough votes. He has 5 of 15, Clinton 6, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz 4. Now when you look at some of the picks, I’ll leave it for you to speculate on how easy it is to get a majority coalition on any contested issue.

Most of my information comes from this Salon article by Ben Norton, the links go to each individual’s Wikipedia entry except for Deborah Parker, Paul Booth, and Bonnie Schaefer, who do not currently have Wikipedia entries.

Members of the Democratic Party Platform Committee

Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

May 25 2016

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

John Kiriakou: A Worrisome New Plan to Send U.S. Troops to Libya as ‘Advisers’

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Dunford, said last week that the United States is engaged in a “period of intense dialogue” that could lead to an agreement with the government of Libya that would allow U.S. “military advisers” to be deployed there in the fight against Islamic State.

“There’s a lot of activity going on underneath the surface,” Dunford told The Washington Post. “We’re just not ready to deploy capabilities yet because there hasn’t been an agreement. And frankly, any day that could happen.”

This plan should worry every American. If the past is any lesson, the new U.S. military advisers will likely be permanent and will presage a large combat contingent in Libya.

U.S. military advisers first arrived in Vietnam in 1950, a move that presaged the eventual arrival of 9,087,000 military personnel, and reaching a peak in 1967 of 545,000 combat troops. The last U.S. troops didn’t leave Vietnam until 1975, and only after 58,220 had been killed. U.S. troops entered Kuwait in February 1991 to push invading Iraqi forces out of that country. Twenty-five years later, 13,500 troops remain.

U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan after 15 years and still in Iraq after 13 years.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Progressive women are running for office all over the country

With Donald Trump’s misogyny under the microscope, Democrats could have a secret weapon on their side between now and November: not “the woman’s card,” as Trump has called it, but the actual progressive women who will appear on ballots nationwide.

Hillary Clinton’s bid to become the first woman president has gotten far more attention in the media, but there are hundreds of female candidates running for office in 2016. And although Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is rightly credited for calling attention to the fundamental unfairness of our rigged economic and political systems, inspiring women such as Zephyr Teachout, Pramila Jayapal and Lucy Flores are carrying the mantle of progressive populism in congressional races across the country. Notably, Sanders has endorsed and fundraised for all three women in their upcoming primaries, recognizing them as important allies in the battle to create progressive change. [..]

These women, in short, are the anti-Trump. In stark contrast with Trump’s contemptible blend of ignorance and intolerant bullying, they are serious thinkers and determined activists who have spent their careers defending the poor, religious and ethnic minorities, and vulnerable members of society who are too often shut out of the political process. They are also proud members of the ascendant “Warren wing” of the Democratic Party, part of a new generation of leaders who understand the need to build a progressive infrastructure at the local and national level in order to make durable change. And while they are just a few of the many women — including women of color — fighting to change the face of Congress, their candidacies should serve as a reminder that, as important as the presidency is, the White House is not the only thing at stake in 2016.

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