Jul 20 2017

Things continue to get weirder.


Mr. Harris, we have your fingerprints on the safe. A photo of you opening the safe. A post using the hashtag #JustRobbedTheSafe. So, what are we supposed to think?

#HipperThanThou: Yeah, so you were going for that The Shining reference Stephen. Wake Up! It’s 2017 not 1991. We call it The Black Lodge.

Jul 20 2017

Transvaginal Ultrasound

In case I haven’t made it crystal I don’t have one and of the other I’ve had more than enough.

The thing about Ultrasound is that they smear you up with K-Y Jelly and send you back home sticky and icky. I much prefer MRIs (where the receptionist and I chat about our SAD, she has a smoker’s cough as many health care professionals do which indicates the beginning of COPD). Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, hold your breath, breath normally.

Now we do it again with contrast.

I’m not claustrophobic and I close my eyes. I’ve been stuck enough that I only notice when they’ve done a bad job (last time they had to do it twice and mop the floor, more a problem for them than me). If I didn’t have to follow directions I could take a nap (best to get it done first thing, that way you don’t have to wait).

At the end, as a party favor, you get to keep your non-slip socks which are handy if you have cats that don’t like shoes.

Actually, being a dick is an impeachable offense. As no less a luminary than Gerald R. Ford pointed out, impeachment is whatever Congress says it is.

Good luck getting a majority in the House and 2 thirds of the Senate.

Jul 20 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

Charles M. Blow: Trump Is His Own Worst Enemy

I have finally found something about Donald Trump’s arrogation of the presidency in which to take comfort: his absolute ineptitude at legislative advancement.

The country may well be saved from some of Trump’s most draconian impulses by some of Trump’s most pronounced flaws: his lack of seriousness, his aversion to tedium and his gnat-like attention span.

The embarrassing faltering of the Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act might be both history lesson and harbinger. Republicans in Congress weren’t prepared with a workable plan, and Trump never had any plan. He campaigned on applause-line policies: Anything that roused a response from his rabid adherents, he repeated and amplified. He never gave details because the details didn’t exist, and he wouldn’t have been able to understand and articulate them if they did.

Trump was simply a megaphone for the primal screams of Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton haters flipping out over the cultural anxiety accompanying the ascension of women and minorities.

Amanda Marcotte: How to sell single payer health care: It’s a great policy, but has a huge political drawback

The very public battle over Trumpcare — which seems like it may, fingers crossed, be collapsing due to the public rejecting the ejection of millions of people from the health care system — seems to have had the side benefit of increasing public interest in the idea of a single payer government-run health insurance system. Polling shows that anywhere from 33 percent to 44 percent to 58 percent of voters back the idea of single payer, and in blue states that theoretically have the tax base to pull off statewide system — such as New York or California — single payer likely could garner more support.

And yet one of the bluest of states, California, has once again failed to get a single payer bill off the ground, in no small part because it was, as David Dayen at the Intercept argued, “a shell bill that cannot become law without a ballot measure approved by voters.” [..]

When one looks at the players involved, it’s hard to deny Dayen’s accusation. But it’s also worth pointing out that single payer, as it’s currently constructed, faces a major political obstacle that even a lot of electoral hustle may not be able to overcome: People really do not want to see their taxes raised to pay for it. Proponents of single payer aren’t doing enough to address that objection.

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Jul 20 2017

The Breakfast Club (6 Months And Counting)

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

The first men to walk on the Moon; Viking One lands on Mars; Nazi Germany’s dictator Adolf Hitler wounded in an assassination attempt; Mountaineer Edmund Hillary and musician Carlos Santana born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Everybody sooner or later has to drop the luggage and the baggage of illusions.

Carlos Santana

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Jul 19 2017

Not Good News At All

Glioblastoma is the most common type of cancerous tumor originating in the brain. The prognosis is dire. It is nearly 100% fatal with survival from time of diagnosis ranging from weeks or months to just 3 years.

I don’t report this because I take any joy in it, but it seems from initial reporting that Legacy Media is going to dance around the brutal truth and pretend everything is fine.

Jul 19 2017

Fearless Zombie Hunter

So, you remember what I said in the dim, dark, unrecorded past of… well, yesterday actually?

Because I am naturally cautious and have experienced too many Zombie Resurrections I’m not quite ready to declare Trumpcare staked, decapitated with a mouthful of garlic, pumped with a clip of silver bullets, dissolved in a vat of Holy Water, and shot into the surface of the Sun.

Though I certainly hope so.

Yeah, me too.

See, that’s the thing with the undead (and jalapeño burritos also, don’t even ask) they keep coming back on you. You have to kill them again, and again, and again, and again.

And again.

That makes 6 doesn’t it? Because that’s how many bites at the apple the Republicans have had, 3 in the House (third time’s the charm) and now 3 in the Senate. You don’t recall House 2.0 because it lasted about as long as Senate 2.0 (Trumpcare 5.0) which is to say mere hours.

Today we have the big lunch with the unfortunate Dean Heller seated to The Donald’s right so no piece of incinerated cow flesh drowned in ketchup could be unseen no matter how much brain bleach was applied. From it emerges the Turtle/Human Hybrid Mitch saying, “We will definitely have a vote. Next week. On Plan A. Or Plan B. Or maybe some other plan, I’m not sure- we’re negotiating. But there will definitely be a vote on something.”

Now you may think that they are simply trying to baffle you with fresh, steaming, agricultural enhancement product, perhaps even from the poor animal that was so badly abused (look, it’s one thing to eat meat and quite another to cook it so badly) and you may be quite right because it’s very confusing and probably deliberately so.

Trump challenges senators to resurrect Obamacare repeal effort: ‘We’re close’
By David Nakamura, Washington Post
July 19, 2017

Hoping to avoid a humiliating political defeat, President Trump on Wednesday demanded that Republican senators resume their efforts to approve a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, insisting that lawmakers are “very close.”

A day after the GOP strategy to roll back the ACA appeared dead, Trump invited Republican senators to lunch at the White House and challenged them to work out an agreement even if it means remaining in Washington through their summer recess next month. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had previously announced that the recess would be delayed by two weeks.

“People should not leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we give our people great health care,” Trump said at the beginning of the lunch. “We’re close, very close … We have to hammer this out and get it done.”

The president’s effort to resurrect negotiations came a day after he declared that it was time to give up on the contentious process to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement and “let Obamacare fail.”

With Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), a key vote who has wavered on the GOP’s repeal proposal, sitting to his right, Trump touted what he said were benefits of the plan — including the repeal of the individual mandate, expanded coverage options and getting rid of “burdensome taxes.”

The president appeared to issue a veiled threat that he would campaign against Republicans who stood in his way.

“He wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” Trump said with a laugh of Heller, who also chuckled. “And I think the people of your state, which I know very well, I think they’re going to appreciate what you hopefully will do.’’

Trump added: “Any senator voting against starting debate is telling the American people you’re fine with Obamacare.” But the current health-care law, approved in 2010, has “failed,” Trump declared. “It’s gone.”

Yet Trump’s remarks were sharply at odds with the comments from Senate GOP leaders over the past day who have said the reality is that there is not enough support for a replacement plan.

The effort by Senate Republicans to undo Obamacare has been fraught with internal divisions and apparent discord between the White House and GOP leaders. With little room for error, McConnell abruptly switched course Monday after several Republicans announced they would block efforts to vote on a replacement bill that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would leave up to 22 million more Americans without health insurance.

Instead, McConnell announced plans the plans to vote early next week on a straight repeal of the law with a two-year delay. But that strategy appeared doomed as at least three GOP members said they would oppose that course of action, enough to block it. A repeal of the ACA without a replacement plan would leave even more people uninsured, according to the CBO.

McConnell told reporters after the lunch that he still intends to hold the vote next week on a repeal plan, but other key senators suggested they would need an acceptable replacement before agreeing to move forward.

Trump Defends Health Care Bill Over Lunch With G.O.P. Senators
JULY 19, 2017

President Trump vigorously defended an all-but-dead Senate health care bill on Wednesday, pressing Republicans to stay in Washington and improve the proposal or risk being tagged as supporting the current system, which he called a “big lie.”

At a lunch at the White House with Republican senators, Mr. Trump gave the latest in a series of shifting reactions to the collapse this week of the Senate’s health care overhaul effort, and what amounted to a belated sales pitch for a measure that Republicans have privately complained he has done little to champion.

It was a stark turnabout from earlier this week, when Mr. Trump said Congress should let President Barack Obama’s signature legislation fail and blame Democrats.

Instead, Mr. Trump said Republicans should get back to work, ignoring clear indications from Capitol Hill that not enough Republicans are willing to support the proposal.

“Any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America that you’re fine with Obamacare,” he said.

It was a pep talk that could have been more effective in the last several days as Republican leaders desperately sought support.

The prospect of repealing the health care law appeared to be doomed on Tuesday when an 11th-hour effort to force a vote on the matter failed and three Republican senators said they would not vote to repeal the law without a replacement.

You know, it’s not just that Trump is threatening Senators who oppose him with primaries, it’s that he’s imposing collective punishment by forcing them to stay in the sweatbox that is summertime D.C. (100+ degrees and 90% humidity for the foreseeable future).

Jul 19 2017

The Russian Connection: The Eighth Man

Now there are eight. The Washington Post identified the eighth person in the room with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner as Ike Kaveladze, a Russian born US citizen who was implicated in a money laundering scheme in 2000, and is now a senior vice president at Russian real estate developer Aras Agalarov’s company. According to Scott Balber, Kaveladze’s attorney, his client was attended the meeting as a representative of Aras and Emin Agalarov, the father-and-son Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. Balber also represents the Agalarovs. Kaveladze is the fourth Russian in the room at the June meeting with Trump’s sn, son-inlaw and campaign manager.

It as explained to me by a good friend, who is a criminal defense lawyer, that Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow was correct in saying that “collusion” is not against the law. The word that should be used by the news media is the one that everyone has avoided, “conspiracy.” Conspiracy is a crime in many federal and state laws. It is defined

A criminal conspiracy exists when two or more people agree to commit almost any unlawful act, then take some action toward its completion. The action taken need not itself be a crime, but it must indicate that those involved in the conspiracy knew of the plan and intended to break the law. One person may be charged with and convicted of both conspiracy and the underlying crime based on the same circumstances.

From now on, conspiracy will be used to describe the Trump campaign’s connection to Russian interference with the 2016 election.

Jul 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

Trita Parsi: War with Iran is back on the table – thanks to Trump

On the two-year anniversary of the historic Iran nuclear deal, Washington is abuzz with renewed calls for confrontation with Tehran. President Donald Trump should roll back Iranian influence through pressure and sanctions, the argument goes. Some even suggest pressure can lead to regime change, failing to see the contradiction in warning about Iran’s rising influence while predicting Tehran’s downfall if only a few more sanctions are imposed.

This near-mythological potency of sanctions is rooted in Washington’s narrative on why the nuclear deal came to fruition in the first place: sanctions and pressure brought the Iranians to their knees, forcing them to negotiate their way out of their nuclear rabbit hole. [..]

But this narrative is simply false. It wasn’t sanctions that caused the negotiations to succeed and it wasn’t Iran that was close to collapsing right before the talks took off. As I reveal in Losing An Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy, a very different reality existed behind the scenes.

Russ Feingold: America steals votes from felons. Until it stops, our democracy will be weakened

In the middle of the hot summer, citizens will gather this week in Florida to champion a ballot initiative to end the state’s permanent felony disenfranchisement.

As we face the daily jaw-dropping revelations about the Trump campaign and administration’s actions, keeping our focus on restoring legitimacy to our elections and our democracy has never been more important, and ending the historic wrong of felony disenfranchisement absolutely must be part of our agenda.

It seems unlikely that the Trump-Pence “electoral integrity” commission will touch this important issue, and any commission that ignores it isn’t serious about the legitimacy of our elections.

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Jul 19 2017

The Breakfast Club (Ageless)

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

Women’s rights activists meet at Seneca Falls; The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on gays in the U.S. military; Apollo 11 enters lunar orbit; Baseball’s Pete Rose gets jail time; Moscow Olympics begins.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you’re learning you’re not old. Rosalyn S. Yalow

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Jul 18 2017

Denial or Something Else?

As I do my afternoon surfing I notice some commentators are amazed that Mitch McConnell, without any hope of success, is still going to force a Repeal vote.

Well, let me tell you how it is. Of course this is a capo di tutti story.

By the time I ran for election I’d already been part of a half dozen or so campaigns, some won, some lost, some I managed, others I had a more peripheral role. In every case there was a concession before the final vote, many times before a majority had even been secured after only a particular key local or two declared.

The benefits of concession were that you got to give a humiliating speech and certain vague promises were made and never kept. I even helped write a few.

In my election I picked my brother, the activist, over my best friend as manager despite the fact my friend had more experience. The reason was I had been my friend’s manager during his run and he conceeded, against my advice. At least I didn’t have to endure the indignity of helping to write the speech, that was all him.

The first thing I said to my brother was, “There will be no concession.”

The night before the election my friend (who was actually very supportive and helpful, don’t get me wrong) asked me, “Do you need some help with your speech?” meaning of course the concession. I think I said something diplomatic like “Don’t need any,” or “Got that covered.”

When the doors were locked after the last delegate was recognized I turned to my brother- “There will be no concession.”

As it turns out you get to make a humiliating speech even when you count the last vote (the Secretary pauses so the defeated candidate can make his way to the front) so I wouldn’t have missed much.

It could easily have turned out otherwise, I might have lost and there were many surprises and that really is my point, the reason for counting is so that you know how people stand and how much work you need to do in order to win next time.

So while I think Mitch McConnell is a vindictive, spiteful, asshole it’s not because he’s forcing his caucus into a useless and damaging vote. He’s just finding out where he stands.

And maybe culling the herd a little (Hey, I think Mitch is a vindictive, spiteful, asshole. It’s just that this is not the reason why.).

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