Dec 15 2018

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto

People think I’m paranoid because I write pseudonymously and my Cell Phone In Box is full and I screen calls on my land line. My Answering Machine message is- “The number you have reached, (###) ###-#### is not in service at this time. Please check the number and dial again. Beeeep.” I feel I’m perfectly rational. I don’t want to be bugged by dopey spam.

Occasionally some sneaks through, but not nearly the amount I see other people experience.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto Mata o hima de,
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto Himitsu wo shiri tai,

You’re wondering who I am,
Machine or mannequin,
With parts made in Japan,
I am the modern man,

I’ve got a secret I’ve been hiding under my skin,
My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain ibm,
So if you see me acting strangely, don’t be surprised,
I’m just a man who needed someone and somewhere to hide,
To keep me alive, just keep me alive,
Somewhere to hide to keep me alive,

I’m not a robot without emotions, I’m not what you see,
I’ve come to help you with your problems so we can be free,
I’m not a hero, I’m not a savior, forget what you know,
I’m just a man who’s circumstances went beyond his control,
Beyond my control, We all need control,
I need control, We all need control,

I am the modern man,
Who hides behind a mask,
So no one else can see,
My true identity,

The problem’s plain to see,
Too much technology,
Machines to save our lives,
Machines de-humanize,

The time has come at last,
To throw away this mask,
Now everyone can see,
My true identity.

Thank you very much Mr. Roboto for doing the jobs that nobody wants to. And thank you very much Mr. Roboto for helping me escape just when I needed to.

Dec 15 2018

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

What To Cook

In October of 2009, the parent company of Epicurious, printed the last issue of Gourmet magazine. The November Thanksgiving issue was the last released. (I still have it, along with other holiday issues of Gourmet.) The recipes for the December issue, apparently thought lost forever, were left in a file, along with pictures, were recently rediscovered. The cooking editors decided to test the recipes and if they were any good publish at Epicurious. They were. From appetizers and drinks to luscious desserts, it’s a grand twelve course meal, reminiscent of Christmases long ago. So here is a sample of the “Lost Christmas Recipes of Gourmet. Bon Appétit!

Beef Rib Roast with Garlic and Rosemary

A standing rib roast combines deep beefiness with marvelous tenderness and, naturally, has a price tag to match. But don’t be intimidated. It’s still a roast, after all, and that means it’s easy to cook.

Citrusy Haricots Verts

It doesn’t take much to make slender, tender green beans memorable—lemon zest and orange zest warmed in olive oil provide sensational sparkle.

Creamy Potato and Leek Gratin

Cutting leeks into large pieces (they almost dissolve when thinly sliced) gives them a presence equal to disks of potato, while cooking the vegetables separately—the leeks are braised in butter, the spuds are simmered in milk and cream—preserves their distinct flavors.

Watercress and Persimmon Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

Fuyu persimmons, which resemble tomatoes in shape, are best enjoyed while still firm and slightly crisp. The sweet, meaty wedges make a gorgeous counterpoint to the tangle of peppery greens.

Porcini Popovers

Popovers are an appealing alternative to Yorkshire pudding (the same batter is used for both), and embellishing with dried porcini mushrooms imparts an unexpected woodsy dimension.

Cranberry-Pistachio Baked Alaska

Underneath the toasted meringue, you’ll find a surprising lightness that comes from cheery red cranberry sorbet layered with pale green pistachio ice cream and buttery pound cake (store-bought works just fine).

Chocolate-Hazelnut Napoleons

Weighting the puff pastry with an extra sheet pan while it blind-bakes is a classic way to get the crackle without the height and also gives the pastries a sleek, modern look.

Pomegranate Prosecco Punch

The holiday season calls for toasts, which, in turn, call for bubbly. Sure, you could pour a glass of sparkling Prosecco, but turning it into a celebratory punch rich with fruity, tart pomegranate juice takes things in an even livelier direction.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 15 2018

House

Don’t listen to the lyrics. Nobody does except DJs.

We Appreciate Power – Grimes

Seven Nation Army – White Stripes

A Forest – The Cure

Dec 15 2018

The Breakfast Club (That Time Of Year)

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 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) 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

Former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann sentenced to death; Bandleader Glenn Miller disappears over the English Channel; The Bill of Rights takes effect; Sioux Indian Chief Sitting Bull killed; Walt Disney dies at age 65.

Breakfast Tunes

Nancy Wilson (February 20, 1937 – December 13, 2018)

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being, and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even to our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves to inhabit this vast land.

Sitting Bull (1831 – December 15, 1890

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 14 2018

Tired of Winning?

                  12/14/17   12/14/18      YTD

        Dow      24,585.43  24,100.51  -484.92
        S&P 500    2662.85    2599.95   -62.90
        NASDAQ     6875.80    6910.66    34.86

So much winning!

Not that Stock Indexes are any indicator of prosperity.

Wheeeeeeee!

Dec 14 2018

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: Manhood, Moola, McConnell and Trumpism

After Tuesday’s testy exchange between Donald Trump and Democratic leaders, it seems quite possible that the tweeter in chief will shut down the government in an attempt to get funding for a wall on the Mexican border. What’s remarkable about this prospect is that the wall is an utterly stupid idea. Even if you’re bitterly opposed to immigration, legal or otherwise, spending tens of billions of dollars on an ostentatious physical barrier is neither a necessary nor an effective way to stop immigrants from coming.

So what’s it about? Nancy Pelosi, almost sure to be the next speaker of the House, reportedly told colleagues that for Trump, the wall is a “manhood thing.” That sounds right. But that got me thinking. What other policies are driven by Trump’s insecurity? What’s driving this administration’s policy in general?

The answer to these questions, I’d argue, is that there are actually three major motives behind Trumpist policy, which we can label Manhood, McConnell and Moola.

George T. Conway III, Trevor Potter and Neal Katyal: Trump’s claim that he didn’t violate campaign finance law is weak — and dangerous

Last week, in their case against Michael Cohen, federal prosecutors in New York filed a sentencing brief concluding that, in committing the felony campaign-finance violations to which he pleaded guilty, Cohen had “acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1,” President Trump. And this week, prosecutors revealed that they had obtained an agreement from AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, in which AMI admitted that it, too, had made an illegal payment to influence the election. The AMI payment was the product of a meeting in which Trump was in the room with Cohen and AMI President David Pecker.

This all suggests Trump could become a target of a very serious criminal campaign finance investigation. In response, Trump has offered up three defenses. His first was to repeatedly lie. For quite some time, he flatly denied knowledge about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. But now he seems to be acknowledging that he knew (since his personal company reimbursed Cohen for the payment, he ought to). Now Trump and his acolytes have turned to two other excuses: They point to an earlier case involving former senator John Edwards to argue that what Trump did wasn’t a crime; and they say, even if it was a crime, it wasn’t a biggie — there are lots of crimes, so what, who cares.

The former is a very weak legal argument, and the latter a dangerous one. Indeed, the campaign finance violations here are among the most important ever in the history of this nation — given the razor-thin win by Trump and the timing of the crimes, they very well may have swung a presidential election.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 14 2018

The Third Man

You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax – the only way you can save money nowadays.

Don’t be so gloomy. After all it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.

So let me tell you about my dead Uncle. His primary occupation was collecting film quotes like that but for amusement he’d rely on The Weekly World News, delighting in the saga of “Bat Boy” in particular.

Yes, he had seen Men In Black 1 & 2. He was into Bat Boy waaay before that.

Anyway, you understand why I was pleased to hear when they sealed off the Headquarters because of the Anthrax Attack (you remember that?) David Pecker was allowed to take 2 items as he evacuated and chose… of all the things in The Vault… the original picture of Bat Boy and the photo of dead Elvis in his coffin.

Welcome to ‘Murika folks.

Hear now, the news. It seems due to the “Co-Operative” testimony of that same David Pecker (minds out of the gutter folks) that in August, 2015, much earlier than previously thought, there was a meeting on the 26th Floor of Trump Tower Manhattan between Michael Cohen, the selfsame David Pecker, and a Third Man.

Only, it’s not new news. Yesterday was a good one for the Wall Street Journal, other than Butina (I may get to that later, it’s complicated) their stories were the only thing anyone talked about.

The odd thing on this one is the dateline, Nov. 9, 2018, more than a month ago. I must admit it eluded me also but I don’t frequent the WSJ since they are notorious for their paywalls.

Donald Trump Played Central Role in Hush Payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal
By Joe Palazzolo, Nicole Hong, Michael Rothfeld, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, and Rebecca Ballhaus, Wall Street Journal
Nov. 9, 2018

As a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

Less than a year later, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pecker to quash the story of a former Playboy model who said they’d had an affair. Mr. Pecker’s company soon paid $150,000 to the model, Karen McDougal, to keep her from speaking publicly about it. Mr. Trump later thanked Mr. Pecker for the assistance.

The Trump Tower meeting and its aftermath are among several previously unreported instances in which Mr. Trump intervened directly to suppress stories about his alleged sexual encounters with women, according to interviews with three dozen people who have direct knowledge of the events or who have been briefed on them, as well as court papers, corporate records and other documents.

Taken together, the accounts refute a two-year pattern of denials by Mr. Trump, his legal team and his advisers that he was involved in payoffs to Ms. McDougal and a former adult-film star. They also raise the possibility that the president of the United States violated federal campaign-finance laws.

The Wall Street Journal found that Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements. He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions.

There’s much more but why step on the lede?

Dec 14 2018

Cartnoon

Talking Walking Trump

Episode 4

Episode 5

Dec 14 2018

Let’s talk about Mike Pence

No, this is not about how he seems like a Unindicted Co-conspirator Trump robot imitator (remember the water bottle?) who they forget to charge sometimes (Pelosi/Schumer?).

For years (well, since January 20th 2017) TMC and I have sort of been privately discussing our belief that he should be as impeachable as Unindicted Co-conspirator Trump (I should program a macro) because of his undisputed participation in the Comey firing including being present when Unindicted Co-conspirator Trump told Rob Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions to make up some excuse to fire him (you know, to disguise the fact that he wanted to Obstruct Justice in the Russia Investigation, or at least that’s what Unindicted Co-conspirator Trump told Lester Holt on camera).

So yesterday we find out that much of the $107 Million raised for the January 20th 2017 event (pathetic and dwarfed by the Women’s March the next day which was cheaper but to be fair we used the pristine Port-A-Potties and Bleachers) has simply gone missing or been siphoned into questionable expenditures.

Not only that but there is some evidence seized during the raid on Michael Cohen, including a tape recording, that the money was solicited by promising Political Favors.

Umm… that’s pretty much the definition of Bribery.

Chairman of the Committee? The Unindicted Co-conspirator Trump robot imitator who they forget to charge sometimes Mike Pence. Head of Funding? Rick Gates who flipped on Unindicted Co-conspirator Trump months ago.

How do you feel about President Pelosi?

Trump Inauguration Spending Under Criminal Investigation by Federal Prosecutors
By Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Rebecca Ballhaus, and Aruna Viswanatha, Wall Street Journal
Dec. 13, 2018

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised from donations, people familiar with the matter said.

The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions, some of the people said.

Giving money in exchange for political favors could run afoul of federal corruption laws. Diverting funds from the organization, which was registered as a nonprofit, could also violate federal law.

The investigation represents another potential legal threat to people who are or were in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Their business dealings and activities during and since the campaign have led to a number of indictments and guilty pleas. Many of the president’s biggest campaign backers were involved in the inaugural fund.

The investigation partly arises out of materials seized in the federal probe of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s business dealings, according to people familiar with the matter.

In April raids of Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a recorded conversation between Mr. Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events. In the recording, Ms. Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to a person familiar with the Cohen investigation.

The inaugural committee has publicly identified vendors accounting for $61 million of the $103 million it spent, and it hasn’t provided details on those expenses, according to tax filings. As a nonprofit organization, the fund is only required to make public its top five vendors.

The committee raised more than double what former President Barack Obama’s first inaugural fund reported raising in 2009, the previous record. President Trump’s funds came largely from wealthy donors and corporations who gave $1 million or more—including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. and Boeing Co. , according to Federal Election Commission filings. There is no sign that those three donors are under investigation.

Federal prosecutors have asked Richard Gates, a former campaign aide who served as the inaugural committee’s deputy chairman, about the fund’s spending and its donors, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Gates has met with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.

Mr. Gates, who served as deputy in the inaugural fund, in February pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. involving foreign political consulting work unrelated to the campaign. The case was brought by Mr. Mueller’s office. Mr. Gates agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department in ongoing investigations.

Mr. Mueller has also probed whether any foreign money flowed to the inaugural fund, which is prohibited from accepting foreign funds. In August, the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, on a referral from Mr. Mueller, obtained a guilty plea from a Washington consultant who admitted he used a U.S. citizen to serve as a “straw purchaser” so that a “prominent Ukraine oligarch” could attend the inauguration. The names were never disclosed.

Manhattan federal prosecutors in recent months asked Tennessee developer Franklin L. Haney for documents related to a $1 million donation he made to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee in December 2016, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Haney in early April hired Mr. Cohen, at the time serving as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, to help obtain a $5 billion loan from the Energy Department for a nuclear-power project, the Journal has previously reported. Mr. Haney was asked for documents related to his correspondence with members of the committee, meeting calendars and paperwork for the donation, the person said. A loan application by Mr. Haney’s company is still pending at the Energy Department.

According to the inaugural fund’s tax filings, the committee’s top-paid vendor was an event-production firm led by Ms. Wolkoff called WIS Media Partners. The company, which California corporate records show was formed 45 days before the inauguration, was paid $25.8 million, the largest sum paid to a vendor.

Ms. Wolkoff is a former unpaid adviser to Mrs. Trump who also helped produce events surrounding the inauguration. Ms. Wolkoff and several partners were paid about $1.6 million of the $25.8 million, and the remainder went to subcontractors, a person familiar with Ms. Wolkoff’s work said.

It couldn’t be determined which expenses are the focus of scrutiny by federal prosecutors. The committee said in its tax documents that it spent $77 million on conferences, conventions and meetings, plus $4 million on ticketing, $9 million on travel, $4.5 million on salaries and wages, and other expenses. Mr. Barrack has said that an external audit was completed of the inaugural committee’s finances, but the organization has declined to make that audit available.

People involved in Mr. Trump’s inaugural have attributed some of the costs to the last-minute nature of the planning. Few expected Mr. Trump to win the 2016 election, leaving his camp scrambling to arrange events for the inaugural, with little time to bid for competitive contracts, they said.

What does that mean?

Trump Inaugural Fund and Super PAC Said to Be Scrutinized for Illegal Foreign Donations
By Sharon LaFraniere, Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman, The New York Times
Dec. 13, 2018

Federal prosecutors are examining whether foreigners illegally funneled donations to President Trump’s inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC in hopes of buying influence over American policy, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

The inquiry focuses on whether people from Middle Eastern nations — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — used straw donors to disguise their donations to the two funds. Federal law prohibits foreign contributions to federal campaigns, political action committees and inaugural funds.

The line of questioning underscores the growing scope of criminal inquiries that pose a threat to Mr. Trump’s presidency. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is focusing on whether anyone in the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to tip the 2016 presidential election in Mr. Trump’s favor, while prosecutors in New York are pursuing evidence he secretly authorized illegal payments of hush money to silence accusations of extramarital affairs that threatened his campaign.

The inquiry into potential foreign donations to the inaugural fund and the super PAC is yet another front being pursued by multiple teams of prosecutors. Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a billionaire financier and one of Mr. Trump’s closest friends, raised money for both funds.

According to several of the people familiar with the investigation, Paul Manafort, who then headed the campaign, suggested that Mr. Barrack step into the void by creating and raising funds for the political action committee, which could raise unlimited amounts of money as long as it avoided coordinating closely with the candidate.

In an interview with investigators a year ago, Mr. Barrack said that Mr. Manafort seemed to view the political committee as an arm of the campaign, despite laws meant to prevent such coordination, according to a person familiar with the interview.

According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, the committee raised $23 million, making it one of the most important sources of funds for advertisements, polls and other political expenditures on Mr. Trump’s behalf. Most money came from several big donors, including from Linda McMahon, a professional wrestling executive who donated $6 million and was later appointed by Mr. Trump to head the Small Business Administration.

Prosecutors from New York and from Mr. Mueller’s team have asked witnesses whether anyone from Qatar or other Middle Eastern countries also contributed money, perhaps using American intermediaries. Among other issues, they asked about a Mediterranean cruise that Mr. Barrack and Mr. Manafort took after Mr. Manafort was fired in August 2016 from the Trump campaign because of a scandal over his previous work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Mr. Manafort was in serious financial trouble at the time, and Mr. Barrack, who has an extensive business network in the Persian Gulf, may have been attempting to help him find clients.

On the cruise, the pair met one of the world’s richest men, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar. Until 2013, Mr. Al Thani presided over the country’s $230 billion sovereign wealth fund. He remains a highly influential member of the nation’s governing royal family.

Investigators also sought information from a businessman, Rashid Al Malik, an associate of Mr. Barrack’s who heads a private investment firm in the United Arab Emirates, according to a person familiar with the inquiry. Mr. Malik, whose lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has been described as close to a key figure in the U.A.E.’s government.

After Mr. Trump was elected, any troubles he had finding donors appeared to have vanished. His inaugural fund raised $107 million — four times as much as the pro-Trump political action committee and twice as much as the amount raised for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. Mr. Barrack was its chairman, and Rick Gates, a longtime business associate of Mr. Manafort’s who served as deputy campaign chairman, ran it.

The inquiry into the inaugural fund appears to involve prosecutors from United States attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn, people familiar with the investigation said. The fund has long been a source of infighting among White House advisers and personal friends of Mr. Trump’s, who blamed each other for news reports about questionable expenditures.

The inaugural committee complied with all laws and “has not been contacted by any prosecutors,” said Mr. Blicksilver, who is also a spokesman for the fund. Its finances “were fully audited internally and independently,” and donors were fully vetted and disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, as required, he said.

In fact, though, the fund has already run into trouble related for both donations and expenditures. Mr. Gates, who is awaiting sentencing for crimes related to a financial fraud scheme he executed with Mr. Manafort, has testified that he may have submitted personal expenses for reimbursement from the fund. A later review of the inaugural expenses found no issue with his reimbursements, a person close to Mr. Gates said.

And this year, a well-known Republican lobbyist, Sam Patten, pleaded guilty to arranging for a Ukrainian oligarch and another foreigner to buy $50,000 worth of tickets to an inaugural event, using an American as a straw purchaser.

Investigators have also asked witnesses whether any foreigners also contributed illegally to the inaugural committee. Once Mr. Trump was elected, foreign governments were frantically trying to build connections to the incoming administration, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Although it hosts and heavily subsidizes an American military base, Qatar is constantly striving to counter the influence of its powerful neighbors, also allies of the United States.

Time to open up Mueller 2.0- The House of Saud.

Dec 14 2018

The Breakfast Club (Sober)

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 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) 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

George Washington dies at age 67; Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his group reach South Pole; Leaders of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia sign an internationally-brokered peace treaty; Baseball’s Roger Maris dies at age 51.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.

Ernest Hemingway

Read the rest of this entry »

Older posts «

Fetch more items