Jun 19 2017

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

Paul Krugman: Zombies, Vampires and Republicans

Zombies have long ruled the Republican Party. The good news is that they may finally be losing their grip — although they may still return and resume eating conservative brains. The bad news is that even if zombies are in retreat, vampires are taking their place.

What are these zombies of which I speak? Among wonks, the term refers to policy ideas that should have been abandoned long ago in the face of evidence and experience, but just keep shambling along.

The right’s zombie-in-chief is the insistence that low taxes on the rich are the key to prosperity. This doctrine should have died when Bill Clinton’s tax hike failed to cause the predicted recession and was followed instead by an economic boom. It should have died again when George W. Bush’s tax cuts were followed by lackluster growth, then a crash. And it should have died yet again in the aftermath of the 2013 Obama tax hike — partly expiration of some Bush tax cuts, partly new taxes to pay for Obamacare — when the economy continued jogging along, adding 200,000 jobs a month.

Despite the consistent wrongness of their predictions, however, tax-cut fanatics just kept gaining influence in the G.O.P. — until the disaster in Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback promised that deep tax cuts would yield an economic miracle. What the state got instead was weak growth and a fiscal crisis, finally pushing even Republicans to vote for tax hikes, overruling Brownback’s veto.

Russ Feingold: America risks one-party rule if gerrymandering isn’t stoppedAmerica risks one-party rule if gerrymandering isn’t stopped

As we are all experiencing, every day there’s some new shock from the Trump-Pence administration. Much of it is disgraceful. Yet we cannot let the tragedy of Donald Trump’s presidency distract us from the broader fight to restore and protect the legitimacy of our democracy.

That legitimacy comes from the voters, and their influence is being systematically devalued by gerrymandering. A bedrock of our democratic legitimacy could rise or fall with the US supreme court’s decision as to whether to hear a case and finally rule on the constitutionality of hyper-partisan gerrymandering.

The court recently reaffirmed the illegality of racial gerrymandering in the case of North Carolina. But to protect fully our democratic legitimacy, the court must go further and prohibit gerrymandering done to cement one-party rule.

Over the past several years, a ground war has been conducted against our democratic legitimacy at the state level by state political parties intent on minimizing the power of certain voters. Their goal: near permanent one-party rule.

This practice of hyper-partisan gerrymandering is destroying our democracy by reverse-engineering the election process. Rather than voters choosing their representatives, representatives choose their voters.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 19 2017

The Breakfast Club (Racoon’s Picnic)

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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AP’s Today in History for June 19th

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg executed; Father’s Day celebrated for the first time; First Juneteenth celebration.


Breakfast Tune Racoon’s Picnic on 5 String Gold Tone Cello Banjo


Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below

U.S. warplane downs Syrian army jet in Raqqa province
Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Matt Spetalnick, Reuters

A U.S. warplane shot down a Syrian army jet on Sunday in the southern Raqqa countryside, with Washington saying the jet had dropped bombs near U.S.-backed forces and Damascus saying the plane was downed while flying a mission against Islamic State militants.

A Syrian army statement released on Syrian state television said the plane crashed and the pilot was missing in the first such downing of a Syrian jet by the United States since the start of the conflict in 2011.

The army statement said it took place on Sunday afternoon near a village called Rasafah. …

Van hits worshippers outside mosque in London’s Finsbury Park
Lizzie Dearden, The Independent

Several pedestrians have been injured after being hit by a van in a “major incident” near a mosque in London.

Witnesses said the vehicle veered off the road into worshippers leaving prayers in Finsbury Park shortly after midnight.

“From the window, I started hearing a lot of yelling and screeching, a lot of chaos outside,” a woman who lives opposite the scene told the BBC. …

Protests Erupt After Officer Cleared in Fatal Shooting of Philando Castile
Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams

Thousands of protesters hit the streets of St. Paul, Minn. Friday night after a jury cleared Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile.

After a peaceful march of roughly 2,000 people near the state capitol, with some carrying signs reading “Justice not served for Philando,” several hundred people then headed to Interstate 94 where they blocked traffic and faced off with law enforcement. The Minnesota State Patrol states that 18 people were arrested for failing to comply with the dispersal order.

The Twin Cities Pioneer Press adds: “At 1:30 a.m. Saturday, a few dozen protesters had gathered in front of the Governor’s Residence, the site of a nearly three-week encampment after Castile’s death last summer.” …

Victoria Law, The Intercept

WHEN MARY SHIELDS was first sent to prison, her daughter was too young to understand why their phone calls would cut off mid-conversation and why she would not hear from her mother again for days. Shields was among the many incarcerated people who had their contact with loved ones curtailed by the high rates for making prison phone calls. During her 21 years in a California state prison, she spoke with her family for 15 minutes twice a month. Each call cost $15.

“Those calls are very expensive,” she said, noting that her family paid the phone bills as well as the cost of caring for her children. Shields could have put more of a burden on her family but thought it would only drain their financial resources. “I wasn’t able to do that because I wanted the best for my children. I didn’t want to take anything away from them and that” — the phone bills — “was taking away from them.”

In 2013 and then again in 2015, President Barack Obama’s Federal Communications Commission, the body that regulates the prison phone industry, moved to alleviate the burden of the impossible choice like the one faced by Shields. After activists waged a decadeslong campaign to lower prison call rates, the FCC voted to cap the costs. Different facilities maintained different rates, but no incarcerated person, under Obama’s new rules, would be paying more than 49 cents per minute for a call to someone in the same state where their prison was located.

On Tuesday, much of that progress was undone when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against limiting the cost of intrastate prison phone calls. …







Something to think about over coffee prozac

Attacked while running, woman drowns rabid raccoon in puddle

HOPE, Maine (AP) — A Maine woman says a rabid raccoon attacked her while she was out for a run, so she drowned it in a puddle.

Rachel Borch, of Hope, says she was running in woods near her home June 2 when she saw the raccoon charging with its teeth bared. She says she knew the animal was going to bite her, so she held out her hands so it would bite her there.

The 21-year-old says she then noticed a puddle in a nearby swampy area. She ran over with the rabid animal still biting down on her thumb and held its head underwater until it drowned.

Hope Animal Control Officer Heidi Blood praised Borch’s composure, and says she is in the hospital for rabies exposure treatment.

Jun 18 2017

The Breakfast Club (Today in Breakfast)

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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AP’s Today in History for June 18th

Churchill rallies Britain in World War II; Napoleon beaten at Battle of Waterloo; Amelia Earhart crosses the Atlantic; Sally Ride becomes America’s first woman in space; Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney born.


Breakfast Tune Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine


Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below

‘This is violence against Donald Trump’: rightwingers interrupt Julius Caesar play
Calla Wahlquist and Lois Beckett, The Guardian

A rightwing protester has been charged with trespassing after interrupting a New York production of Julius Caesar during the assassination scene and shouting: “This is violence against Donald Trump.”

The protest was aimed at an artistic decision to set the play in a modern political setting, with Caesar looking decidedly like Donald Trump. As in every production of the play in the 418 years since it debuted, just as happened in 44BC, Caesar is assassinated.

On Monday, a Public Theater spokeswoman said: “Our production of Julius Caesar in no way advocates violence towards anyone. Shakespeare’s play, and our production, make the opposite point: those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save.” …

‘Stunning and Dangerous’: DeVos Memo Reveals Plan to Roll Back Civil Rights
Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

In a move decried as “more evidence of backward thinking” by the Trump administration, an internal memo from the Department of Education’s office for civil rights lays out the agency’s plan to roll back investigations into civil rights violations at public schools and diminish Obama-era rules requiring “schools and colleges to overhaul policies addressing a number of civil rights concerns,” the New York Times reported on Friday.

According to the memo, “requirements that investigators broaden their inquiries to identify systemic issues and whole classes of victims will be scaled back,” the Times noted. “Also, regional offices will no longer be required to alert department officials in Washington of all highly sensitive complaints on issues such as the disproportionate disciplining of minority students and the mishandling of sexual assaults on college campuses.”

The directive, first published by ProPublica, was met with outrage from civil rights groups and activists, who portrayed it as part of a larger effort by President Donald Trump to undercut anti-discrimination provisions in public schools and dismantle laws that protect students from gender- and race-based abuse. …

Revealed: the tower block fire warnings that ministers ignored
Toby Helm, Jamie Doward and Michael Savage, The Guardian

The extent to which government ministers failed to act on expert warnings about inadequate fire safety rules before the Grenfell Tower disaster in London can be revealed by the Observer.

As public outrage mounted and political pressure grew on Theresa May over the tragedy, former chief fire officer Ronnie King – who is secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on fire safety – said urgent requests for meetings with ministers and action to tighten rules were stonewalled.

King also revealed that ministers had failed to insist that life-saving sprinkler systems were mandatory in the design of new schools in England, despite clear recommendations in reports commissioned by the government itself, which advocated their use. …






Something to think about over coffee prozac


You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.

Jun 18 2017

Pondering the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Pondering the Punditsis 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.

On Sunday mornings we present a preview of the guests on the morning talk shows so you can choose which ones to watch or some do something more worth your time on a Sunday morning.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member of the house Intelligence Committee; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA); and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute.

The roundtable guests are: ABC News Political Director Rick Klein; Republican strategist and pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson; Democratic pollster and PSB Research Executive Vice President Margie Omero; and CNN political commentator and author Marc Lamont Hill.

Face the Nation: Host John Dickerson’a guests are: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); and member of the president’s personal legal team Jay Sekulow.

His panel guests are: Slate’s Chief Political Correspondent Jamelle Bouie; Senior Editor for the National Review Ramesh Ponnuru; CBS News Chief Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes; and the Washington Post‘s White House Bureau Chief Philip Rucker.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: The guests on this week’s “MTP” are: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Sen. Angus King (I-ME); and member of the president’s personal legal team Jay Sekulow.

The panel guests are: New York Times columnist David Brooks; Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson; Cook Political Report editor Amy Walter; and Vice President of the American Enterprise Institute Danielle Pletka.

State of the Union with Jake Tapper: Mr. Tapper’s guests are: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); and member of the president’s personal legal team Jay Sekulow.

His panel guests are: Former SC House Rep. Bakari Sellers (D); Rep. Debbie Dingels (D-MI); Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA); and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)>

Jun 17 2017

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Anatomy of a Gunshot Wound

When the gunman opened fired on a group of men practicing at a baseball field in northern Virginia, two of the four people that he shot sustained life threatening wounds. One man was shot twice in the chest. The other was shot in the left hip. Both were rapidly removed to the hospital, a Level 1 Trauma Center, and, soon after arrival, were in surgery. The reason this multiple shooting became national news was because many of the men at that ballpark were Republican members of congress. To a ER doctor that’s not even relevant but in this case it has brought to the front pages of news outlets just how devastating surviving a gunshot wound can be. There aren’t a lot of details on the extent of the wounds and treatment of the victim who was shot in the chest. We do know that he was in the surgical ICU in critical condition which usually means that the patient’s vital signs aren’t stable. Although he is still in the SICU as of Friday night, his condition has been upgraded to serious.

However, we know a lot more about the victim with the single wound to the left hip because of who he is and the severity of the damage that single bullet did. Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA), House Majority Whip, was that victim. So now the damage that gunshot wounds cause is getting a lot of attention. While the lay person wouldn’t think that his wound wasn’t that serious, it was and this is why.

Every trauma surgeon knows this rule: it is not the bullet that kills you it is the path it takes. There are two types of bullets:

Non-expanding (full metal jacket) that, like a knife, enter the body in a straight line and either exits the body or are stopped by bone, an organ or skin.

Expanding bullets are a whole other game. When they enter the body they don’t follow a straight line. They fragment and explode, pulverizing bones, tearing blood vessels and liquefying organs. Expanding bullets shot from assault rifles are even more devastating because of velocity.

As reported by the Trauma team at Medstar Washington Hospital where he is being treated, the bullet that entered through Rep. Scalise’s left hip across his pelvis, broke a bone and tore through major blood vessels and organs. He received multiple blood transfusions and has now undergone two surgeries and a procedure to stop the bleeding. As of Friday evening, it was reported that his vital signs has stabilized. He will be in the hospital for some time and faces the possibility of many more surgeries.

The first priority is to operate to stop the bleeding and control any contamination that might arise from something like a torn intestine. Afterward, hospital staff members wheel the patient from the operating room straight to intensive care, often with the abdomen still open.

The next steps are to seal small blood vessels that may be torn and then to operate, if necessary, to permanently repair damage.

A gunshot victim may undergo two to 10 operations, said Dr. Jeremy Cannon, a trauma surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania, and may remain in the hospital anywhere from days to several months.

Still, the results are far better than in the old days, before the early 1990s, when surgeons tried to do all the repairs at once, operating for hours at a time.

In a study that changed medical practice, surgeons found that trauma patients with the most severe abdominal injuries who received one long operation had just a 15 percent survival rate. But those with the same sort of injuries who got multiple operations to repair the damage had a survival rate of 77 percent.

The lesson for surgeons is that long operations can be fatal to trauma patients. “The body can only take so much,” said Dr. Thomas Scalea, a trauma surgeon at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Surgeons now employ the multistage approach.

These days trauma patients who do not bleed to death right away usually recover, said Dr. Sean Montgomery, a trauma surgeon at Duke University.

Patients with gunshot wounds through the abdomen may need as much as 10 units of blood — two-thirds of the entire amount in the human body. “The most immediate threat to life is bleeding to death,” said Dr. Alok Gupta, a trauma surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who is not familiar with Mr. Scalise’s specific injuries.

In the first procedure, as surgeons open the patient’s abdomen, they look for and repair injuries that cause tremendous bleeding, like rips in large arteries and veins. Often, doctors temporarily stanch the blood flow by packing the abdomen with sterile absorbent sponges; later they will go back and do a surgical repair of other organs.

In the initial operation on a patient with abdominal injuries, surgeons also look for damage to the large and small intestines. These injuries can lead to sepsis, widespread infection of bodily tissues, if not immediately repaired.

If the holes in the intestines are small, surgeons can sew them shut. If they are larger, doctors must make a temporary fix; they might remove a segment of the intestines. Later they will carefully reconnect the sections.

In this first pass, where the priority is damage control, time is of the essence.

In the next operation, surgeons usually turn to repair of small blood vessels. Doctors cannot easily fix them in the first operation — there are just too many in the blood-rich abdomen.

The patient is taken to an angiography room, where a doctor threads a catheter into the abdomen and injects a dye that makes the blood vessels, and any leaks from them, visible on X-rays. Then the doctor plugs the leaks with small coils.

Additional procedures will depend on the extent of the patient’s injuries, surgeons say. If there are injuries to organs the patient can live without, like the spleen or one of the kidneys, they might remove them in a subsequent operation.

If there are injuries to major organs, like the bladder, surgeons try to repair them. If necessary, surgeons may cut out a portion of an intestine that was injured.

If they inserted plastic shunts to temporarily reroute blood around leaks in major vessels, they will go back to make a permanent fix.

Broken bones, Dr. Montgomery said, are often simply washed clean to prevent infection. Sometimes, surgeons insert plates and screws in the bones.

The result of this multistage approach is that trauma patients with abdominal injuries often receive operation after operation.

Many stay in intensive care until the abdomen can be closed and their condition is stable. That may take days or even a week, often with patients on ventilators, getting multiple blood transfusions.

As one of the Trauma surgeons in the article noted, after admitting seven gunshot wound victims to his facility om Monday night, “It’s a sad commentary on life in the United States.”

Today is the 152nd birthday of Suzanne LaFlesche Picotte. She was a Native American doctor who as a child watched a sick Native American woman die because the local white doctor would not treat her. She later credited that tragedy as her inspiration to train as a physician, so she could provide care for the people she lived with on the Omaha Reservation.

Health and Fitness News

With Summer Sun Comes Heightened Skin Cancer Risk

‘Couch Potatoes’ May Face Higher Risk of Kidney, Bladder Cancers

Centenarians Often Healthier Than Younger Seniors: Study

Healthy Dietary Fats Help Beat High Cholesterol

Many Young Americans Using Snuff, Chewing Tobacco

Fever During Pregnancy Tied to Autism in Study

It’s a Tough Flu Season … for Dogs

Patient’s Education Level May Be Key to Heart Risk

Adding in Prescription for Partner Boosts STD Care

Flu Shot Falls Short More Often for Obese People: Study

For Diabetics, Nasal Powder Fixed Severe Low Blood Sugar

Jun 17 2017

America’s Cup 2017: Finals- Day One

Well the Battle Off Bermuda has come to this- Oracle USA v. Emirates/New Zealand.

Please don’t tell me you’re surprised, this was completely predictable about 10 seconds after the close of the last series.

As we proceed it will be first to 7 victories, Emirates/New Zealand will start at -1 (that’s right, negative numbers) because of Oracle USA’s unexpected victory in the Round Robin portion of the Louis Vuitton (Challenger’s) Cup. Effectively this means there theoretically could be 14 races instead of 13 if we end up tied at 6 after regulation, call it Overage Time if you like.

Who said we didn’t have surprises? I only said that the match up was practically inevitable.

Yeah, Oracle is rocket fast. In the preliminary World Cup series they finished 2nd to Land Rover England and frankly didn’t look nearly as good as the finish would indicate. Land Rover disappointed in the Round Robin however, finishing with a mere 6 points (which represented only 4 race wins, 2 of them being carryovers from the World Cup) in 3rd position. Oracle USA and Emirates/New Zealand finished with an equal number of wins (8) and losses (2). Oracle gained overall victory by virtue of the bonus point it picked up by finishing 2nd in the World Cup and thus advantage now in the Finals.

Oracle lost to Artemis, twice. They also beat Emirates/New Zealand, twice.

The Also Rans

Groupama France never looked strong and was only able to eek out 2 wins, one against Artemis and another against Land Rover. They did not advance to the Semifinal Match Racing.

Softbank Japan was the lowest ranked team to emerge from the Round Robin. They had only 3 victories despite being the Torro Rosso to Oracle’s Red Bull, one aganst Land Rover (sure, why not?), and 2 against Groupama. In the Semifinals matched against Artemis they roared out to a 3 – 1 advantage (including 1 retirement by Artemis) and then…

They didn’t win another race.

In the other bracket, Emirates/New Zealand v. Land Rover England, it was a Turn Left Bumpercar Flaming Hunks of Twisted Metal Crashfest.

The first day of racing Land Rover broke a camber arm (I’m not quite sure what one of those is either) and went 2 down. On the second day Emirates/New Zealand won the first race in high winds (first complete race) and then fell off its hydrofoils, took a nose dive, and capsized at the start of the 2nd. So now it’s New Zealand 3 – 1.

Racing was cancelled due to high winds the next day but finished the day after. Land Rover put up a fight evading the first Match Point but succumbed in the second, New Zealand 5 – 2.

The Louis Vuitton Cup

Also known as the Good Sportsman/Participation Trophy. I would honestly have given Artemis at least even money in this one, they beat Oracle twice and New Zealand struggled against Land Rover which broke constantly and sailed like a dog.

It was not close.

New Zealand looked sharp and was constantly on foil, even in light winds. Artemis did win 2 but they also broke down twice. In the end it was 5 – 2 New Zealand.

The America’s Cup

It could be close. Or not. These things generally are.

Oracle is rip quick and very reliable so far. They also have an undefeated record against New Zealand (Artemis might have been a more interesting match up). New Zealand is…

Well, it’s New Zealand mate.

Also, because they are the team of technical innovation, they have a brilliant idea. These modern boats don’t run off ropes and pulleys, they use hydraulics to move all the control surfaces, so instead of Grinders powering winches they’re powering pumps to keep the pressure up pretty much constantly. Now every other team is still using upper body based traditional Grinders, New Zealand has replaced them with stationary bikes. In addition to being somewhat superior aerodynamically (and while you wouldn’t want to be racing a brick, Formula One shows you can go quite fast indeed without a lot of fiddly and very expensive aero kit provided you’re not dragging it like an anchor or flattening your tires- sometimes I think it’s just to give the engineers something to do and justify the cost of their computers) it’s just a known fact of biomechanics that your legs are stronger than your arms will ever be, even if you’re benching hunnas.

So they could win.

Two races scheduled. Coverage at 1 pm ET on the flagship NBC.

Jun 17 2017

Alone In The Kitchen With An Old Frenchman

Recently French chef Jacques Pépin turned 80 and retired. Over the years, he educated viewers of Public Television on how to cook and, something that no other cooking show host has done, techniques in the kitchen with wisdom, humor and a smattering of French lessons. As Gilad Edelman wrote in a Slate article, this man will teach you how to cook

Fête Des Boules

Jacques and his best friend Jean-Claude work up an appetite in the summer sun playing the traditional French game of boules. Jacques cooks up a party menu of favorites to share. He begins with Crab Chips With Salmon Caviar, bursting with decadent flavors and textures. Then the freshest of eggs are whisked to become an Egg And Herb Treats appetizer. The party continues with a crowd-pleasing Camembert With Pistachio Crust, a garden-fresh Tabbouleh salad and a Tomato, Mozzarella And Onion Salad before Jacques finishes his festive menu with a grand Smoked Ham Glazed With Maple Syrup, cooked and carved to perfection!

Camembert with Pistachio Crust

To make this version a bit more elegant, I moisten the cheese with honey, cover it with chopped pistachios, and serve it garnished with dried cranberries.

Smoked Ham Glazed with Maple Syrup

Although this type of ham comes “fully cooked and ready to eat,” it improves considerably when poached in water, which removes some of the salt and makes the meat moist, tender, and succulent.

Jun 17 2017

The Breakfast Club (Ignorance)

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

The Watergate scandal begins to unfold; The Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolution; O.J. Simpson arrested in the slayings of his ex-wife Nicole and Ronald Goldman; Singer Kate Smith dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

How can you run for president if you don’t know the job description?

Mohamed ElBaradei

Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 16 2017

I Should Have Been A Girl Scout

Not that I have any unresolved gender issues (ok, maybe a few, see Twain about candlesticks and their holders) but simply because it’s an all together more worthwhile organization than Boy Scouts.

My experience in the BSA was horrible and I regret every Jackass minute I spent watching a bunch of idiots trying to light their farts on fire or slicing off body parts with knives, hatchets, and axes, not to mention the constant homophobic bullying in an atmosphere seemingly designed to top a British Private School or the Spartan Army in encouraging it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I like girls. No, my ear does not want your penis in it, that does not make me un-macho.

Even the programs of instruction are better with Girl Scouts being taught useful skills and Boy Scouts being trained as cannon fodder.

So it is no surprise to me that this scout is a voice of reason in a nation of madness.

Jun 16 2017

Simon Doesn’t Say

In the new news Theresa May’s attempt to save her Prime Ministership by entering an arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland is still an undone deal a week after the British Parliament Elections.

It seems there are a couple of problems. First, and probably not least (gonna give the Tories a break on this one), the DUP is a violently sectarian group of ultra fundamentalist Protestants with a virulently misogynistic anti-Abortion platform topped off with anti-Catholic bigotry. Most Conservatives look on them with the same distate we regard their U.S. equivalent snake handling, tongue speaking zealots.

Another difference, this time with the insular nationalistic Leavers whose nostalgia for Victorianism might make them natural allies, is that the DUP is actually quite keen on open borders and migration as long as the damn Catholics stay out the way God intended. Yes, it is somewhat self contradictory but logical consistency is not their strong suit. In Ireland support for the E.U. is very strong and there is no chance that even a Berlin Wall of a border will result in their exit (though the benighted Neo Liberal economic policies of the E.U. might and should).

All of which has resulted in delay of “The Queen’s Speech” which the reigning Monarch is dictated to read as the result of a minor disagreement known as the English Civil War that lays out the legislative agenda of the Parliamentary majority.

Drafted by the incoming Government, it doesn’t have to please the Queen but it does have to pass the House of Commons. A defeat is pretty much a vote of ‘no confidence’ and May would certainly have to resign as leader of the Tories and probably have to call for new elections (unless Sein Finn will abandon its standing policy of boycotting Parliament).

Unlike the Republican’s midnight surprise Health Insurance/.01% Tax Cut bills, it being Britain and all there are some traditions that ensure that the Members of Parliament get at least a few hours to study the document. You see, it must be hand written with a quill pen in ink on Parchment (a remarkable concession to modernity and cost cutting, it used to be inscribed on Vellum) by the Commons or Royal calligrapher (not sure which) and has to dry sufficiently that the Royal gloves are not tarnished with smearing which can take a day or two.

Of course nobody expects May to exceed her time frame to form a working majority coalition, these things were set when a fast rider could hardly get from one end of England to the other in a week, but it is possible that negotiations with the DUP could still go wrong or that Corbyn could sway enough swing Tories to block it or force an amendment (pretty much the same thing).

Conservatives don’t want to return to the polls as the indications are that the Labour surge is only getting stronger as they flounder.

Anyway, here a piece from The Guardian that speaks to the mood of the voters, and the elites who got this so terribly, terribly wrong.

A shock to the system: how Corbyn changed the rules of British politics
By Gary Younge, The Guardian
16 June 2017

In the framing of the campaign from the outset, the Tories were the predators, encroaching on Labour territory. Labour was stuck in a defensive crouch, hoping to protect what it could. The question was not whether the party would lose seats, but how many. This was the story we assumed we were covering.

We have been so focused of late on the problems of the centre left that the crisis in the mainstream right has only fleetingly disturbed our gaze. It has been easy to forget that what brought Britain to this point was weakness within the Conservative party. The Brexit referendum was concocted by David Cameron to quell internal Tory strife and shore up the party’s right flank against Ukip. When that gamble failed, Cameron fled – and May became prime minister after her two biggest rivals stabbed one another in the back.

May called this election because she could not trust her own MPs to back her through the Brexit negotiations. Now her gamble has failed – but she has stayed on as prime minister in any case. Labour’s crisis was seen as the internal pathology of a divided left. The Tories, however, have made a habit of imposing their crises on the nation.

May ostensibly called the election to strengthen her hand in Europe, but then said nothing about what her negotiating strategy was going to be. Her pitch was entirely performative (“I’m a bloody difficult woman”) and epigrammatic (“Brexit means Brexit”; “A bad deal is better than no deal”). But not even remotely substantive. Difficult about what? What does “hard Brexit” mean? What would no deal look like?

Despite all its shortcomings, for a while this looked like a strategy that might work for a domestic audience. The decision to leave the European Union was not made on the basis of details, but the broad strokes of melancholic nationalism, exclusion, anomie and sovereignty. In Corbyn, May faced an opponent who had struggled to negotiate with his own party and whose patriotic credentials were in doubt – not only did he not sing the national anthem, he had refused to say that he would drop a nuclear bomb on anybody.

May’s electoral appeal as the nation’s tough negotiator-in-chief might have held strong were it not for two problems. The first was her glaring weakness as a candidate. Backing away from her own manifesto and staying away from debates made the prime minister look shifty, weak, and lacking in resolve – precisely the kind of person you do not want arguing your case in foreign parts. The second was that this election was not only about Brexit. While the absorption of Ukip and leave voters helped drive the Conservative vote share to its highest figure since 1983, the Labour vote grew among almost every other demographic.

But even if May’s gamble had worked domestically, it would have given her very little additional leverage with her negotiating partners in the EU. A huge majority would have given her more room for manoeuvre at home, but would have made little difference in Brussels.

But she did not. And she has now left herself no room to negotiate, and nothing to use in the negotiations. Big Ben isn’t the only clock ticking. May triumphantly triggered Article 50 before the election, and now the first round of talks with the EU over Britain’s exit will begin on June 19 – while May is still haggling with the DUP over the terms of propping up her minority government.

If the old rules of politics have been laid to waste, we do not yet know what new rules will prevail. Much has changed since last week. Theresa May’s popularity ratings have plunged to -34, roughly the level of Corbyn’s last November, while now as many people have a favourable view of Corbyn as not. Survation, the pollster that came closest to predicting the election outcome, now puts Labour five points ahead of the Tories.

But much remains the same. The PLP has most of the same members; the same political journalists and columnists write for the same newspapers, and the same proprietors still own them; Corbyn still has the same flaws as a leader that he had before; and Theresa May, at least for now, is still the prime minister. Given the determination with which the mere possibility of this surprise result was denied, dismissed and derided, we should be under no illusion that the reality will be any more palatable to many.

Conventional wisdom has now developed a new convention of its own: first it states the uncertain with great certainty, only to be proven wrong by events, and then it embarks upon a period of narrowly tailored and very public retraction, which always falls considerably short of genuine introspection. After acknowledging an error of prediction, there are no efforts to address the underlying logic that produced that error. Their contrition only lasts until their next mistake.

An election provides but a snapshot in time, and these times are no less volatile when the results go your way than when they don’t. This election indicates that progressive politics are possible, and that the neoliberal programme is not quite as unassailable as many feared. This moment may have the promise of becoming something more. But at this point, it is no more than a promise.

But what it does do, perhaps, is give us a chance to figure out how we got here. In the decade since the financial crisis, there has been a series of political challenges to the notion that the poor must pay for the recklessness of the powerful, and to the belief that xenophobia must be accommodated rather than confronted – from Occupy Wall Street and UK Uncut to protests against the harsh treatment of refugees. But we have not seen those ideas challenged electorally until now. In 2010 and, to a lesser extent, in 2015, the narratives of austerity and nationalism were conceded by Labour in a failed attempt to neutralise them.

As long as Labour only spoke the language of greater fiscal responsibility and tougher controls on immigration, it could compete on the terms of the right, but it could never win. Yes, these are important issues, and yes, this strategy worked in the 1990s. But in times of economic crisis, people want more from a centre-left party than the promise of managing the crisis better – they want the crisis to end.

By the time of the EU referendum last year, enough people felt abandoned by the mainstream parties that some of them – enough to make the difference – used the ballot as an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction. This election was the first time since the crisis that a mainstream party had offered principled opposition to austerity and shifted the conversation from immigration to investment in public services. We were told that voters would not buy it. We were told it was not possible. But when the clock struck 10, the tectonic plates shifted. And for just a minute, until we found our footing, we felt a little giddy.

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