Feb 21 2020

The Breakfast Club (Promise and Reality)

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.

This Day in History

Malcolm X assassinated; President Richard Nixon visits China; Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart makes a tearful confession; Steve Fossett is the first to fly across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

We have a positive vision of the future founded on the belief that the gap between the promise and reality of America can one day be finally closed. We believe that.

Barbara Jordan

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Feb 20 2020

The Grand Bargaineers

Damn right we want a Revolution. As Atrios puts it (a bit more colorfully than I) not cutting the Entitlements you’ve been paying for your whole life in order to give the money to Billionaires is Revolutionary!

Lennon was being sincere. I think it an ironic reminder of a better time.

The Hidden History of Sanders’s Plot to Primary Obama
by Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic
February 19, 2020

Bernie Sanders got so close to running a primary challenge to President Barack Obama that Senator Harry Reid had to intervene to stop him.

It took Reid two conversations over the summer of 2011 to get Sanders to scrap the idea, according to multiple people who remember the incident, which has not been previously reported.

That summer, Sanders privately discussed a potential primary challenge to Obama with several people, including Patrick Leahy, his fellow Vermont senator. Leahy, alarmed, warned Jim Messina, Obama’s presidential reelection-campaign manager. Obama’s campaign team was “absolutely panicked” by Leahy’s report, Messina told me, since “every president who has gotten a real primary has lost a general [election].”

David Plouffe, another Obama strategist, confirmed Messina’s account, as did another person familiar with what happened. (A spokesman for Leahy did not comment when asked several times about his role in the incident.)

Messina called Reid, then the Senate majority leader, who had built a strong relationship with Sanders but was also fiercely defensive of Obama. What could you be thinking? Reid asked Sanders, according to multiple people who remember the conversations. You need to stop.

Sanders didn’t end up running against Obama. But their relationship didn’t improve in the years that followed. In another incident, in 2013, Sanders laid into Obama in a private meeting he held with Democratic senators, saying that the president was selling out to Republicans over Social Security benefits.

“There are millions of Americans who are deeply disappointed in the president—who believe that, with regard to Social Security and a number of other issues, he said one thing as a candidate and is doing something very much else as a president; who cannot believe how weak he has been, for whatever reason, in negotiating with Republicans; and there’s deep disappointment.” He continued: “It would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.”

That was not the only time Sanders raised the idea publicly. Appearing on C-SPAN a few weeks later, he expanded on the point: “They want the president to stand up for the middle class, for the working class of this country, and they want him to take on big-money interests in a way that he has not done up to this point.”

On the rare occasions Obama White House staff thought about Sanders, it was because he was needling or annoying them, several former Obama aides recalled. Before Sanders started running for president, he had never been to see Obama in the Oval Office. And even though most of them didn’t know how far Sanders’s primary plans had gone, Obama aides took notice of his public comments. Today, the bitterness lingers.

“It’s not to say they had a bad relationship when Obama got to the White House,” one person who worked for Obama in the West Wing told me. “It’s just that they didn’t have a relationship.”

Obama and his circle tend to see Sanders’s You’re with us or you’re wrong approach as unworkable and the criticism of his own record as president overrepresented on Twitter (Obama’s approval rating among Democrats is consistently in the 90s).

The low point between the two men was a 2013 meeting with other Democratic senators. Obama had just put a chained Consumer Price Index in his budget, a proposal that would cut Social Security benefits by tying them to the rate of inflation. Many Senate Democrats were angry about it. But when they arrived for the meeting, it was Sanders who bubbled up, ripping into Obama for giving in to Republicans and not understanding the impact of the cuts.

“I don’t need a lecture,” Obama told him, according to several senators who attended the meeting.

Sanders proceeded to give him one anyway. A number of the senators there were struck by what they told me seemed like a lack of respect.

“Obama fairly forcefully pushed back and said, ‘That’s just not right—that’s not a vision that’s enactable or possible,’” one senator in the room recalled, asking for anonymity to discuss the private meeting. “‘You’re acting like I’m the enemy.’ Obama was trying to say, ‘I hear you that you want this revolution, but explain to me, how’s this going to happen? Look at the current makeup of the Senate and the House. How am I supposed to lead?’” Obama said, in this senator’s memory. The conversation quickly got testy. “It seemed the match of someone who prided himself on his cool intellect and removed analysis versus someone who was convinced with absolute ferocity with the rightness of his worldview and is not given to accepting anything from those who don’t agree with it.”

“I just remember thinking, Whoa, Bernie’s got game,” a second senator who was in the room told me. “I also remember thinking, There’s no love lost between them.”

In the end, most of the caucus took the position that Sanders voiced, opposing the chained Consumer Price Index, and Obama relented and dropped the idea.

Real Liberals cut Social Programs so they don’t have to cut them. If that makes any kind of sense to you I think I’d go in for an evaluation

Feb 20 2020

What Color Is Your Sky Again?

Plaid eh? Well, that’s a large piece of patterned cloth worn as a Kilt, a Cloak or Shawl, a kind of Toga like thing, or used as a blanket. You mean Tartan.

You know it’s a fiction popularized by Queen Victoria, kind of like Cowboys and Indians here in the U.S. (admittedly with more complexity about good guys and bad guys), right?

Now that we are speaking the same language, let me ask you-

Highland (Davidson, Stuart, Farquharson) or Lowland (Kincaid, Bruce, Crawford)?

I was Barr’s deputy attorney general. He did his job in the Roger Stone case.
By George J. Terwilliger III, Washington Post
February 19, 2020

Attorney General William P. Barr is under assault for what his critics decry as improper interference in the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone. But the claim that decisions by career prosecutors should in essence be unreviewable by those appointed to leadership positions in the Justice Department is not just wrong; it is also irresponsible. Barr wasn’t intervening inappropriately. He was doing his job.

An editorial in The Post said the attorney general should “leave it to the professionals.” What a dangerous notion that is. I served in the Justice Department for 15 years, half of that time as a career prosecutor. From time to time, I was overruled on decisions involving my cases. My judgment was better for the benefit of oversight and supervision, including from the politically appointed U.S. attorney. Whether direction came from even higher authority is unknown to me, but if it did, I would see it no differently. That is how a chain of command must work.

I also served in a Republican administration as deputy attorney general and acting attorney general. In that capacity, I recall no one decrying interference when I overruled the recommendation of line prosecutors and the department’s criminal division that a then-sitting U.S. senator should be indicted. He was a Democrat. I also approved the prosecution of another sitting senator. He was a Republican. Those matters came up through the bureaucracy because they were highly visible and politically controversial.

But the exercise of my authority also flowed downhill when the circumstances merited intervention. I took control of one politically charged case — despite the risk that others would claim I was interfering for political gain — because the department was taking deserved criticism for doing a poor job. As the No. 2 official, I knew what the Justice Department did was ultimately my responsibility — full stop.

Imagine a government agency, or any organization, where there is no supervision of front-line personnel and no ultimate authority bearing responsibility for institutional decisions. That would be absurd anywhere. But that is especially true in the case of the Justice Department because all of its critical operations involve exercising judgment in the context of broad legal authority.

Should we investigate or not? If so, for what and for how long? Is there sufficient evidence to conclude that a case can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt? If we prevail, what is a just sentence? Who should we recommend be pardoned or have a sentence commuted? Such decisions in a society grounded in individual liberty are among the most intrusive possible. Thus, supervision of those career-level decisions is not only permitted but also a necessity, including review at times by the highest authority.

When I served under Barr as deputy attorney general, I would from time to time rib him by saying: “Don’t worry, Bill. There are only 6,000 lawyers out there today doing things in your name.” I did so to remind both of us of our responsibility to supervise what was going on “out there.” It is impossible to oversee everything, of course, but by becoming involved in particular cases, we maintained our authority and set parameters for decisions in innumerable other matters. The attorney general and other appointed leaders are not there to be potted plants.

The decisions of the dedicated professionals who are the heart and soul of the department merit respect and a substantial degree of deference. But those decisions must also be subject to review. The higher the profile of a case, the more deserving it is of high-level attention, because the public will measure the department by its actions in such matters.

There is no reason not to take Barr at his word that he found the Stone sentencing recommendation to be excessive and acted to correct that. In their widely cited but little analyzed letter, former Justice Department lawyers claim that “it is unheard of for the Department’s top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President.” It is certainly not unheard of for top leaders to overrule line prosecutors. The criticism added by the next phrase is a classic example of presenting a conclusory allegation (giving preferential treatment) as if it were a fact. If that was a technique learned on the job in indictments written by these prosecutors, supervision was clearly lacking.

A more risk-averse attorney general might have let the recommendation stand and avoided a political hot potato. The American people might want to think twice before concluding that is the kind of attorney general the Justice Department should have.

I understand medication works wonders for some people.

Feb 20 2020

Cartnoon

There is a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

Yes I will.

Feb 20 2020

Lizard People And Weasels

Somewhere outside of Barstow…

Still in my snowy advance base (-9 where I am, how ’bout you?) I hit the road today for a meeting in the balmy southern climes where I will overnight and then run some errands before returning with supplies. I’ll be a digital wayfarer with only my micro setup so it’s entirely possible I’ll post nothing but silliness and static until Saturday.

I might have some pre-programmed stuff but that feature has been cranky so who knows?

My prediction is you’ll be seeing the bats soon enough, you poor bastards.

Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.

Two Winners, Four Losers

One more than the other to be sure. Liz Warren was great and if this doesn’t shift things a little bit her way you were just not watching the same Debate I was.

Sanders was ok, good in spots, I don’t know what people expect him to say about trolling- it’s as old as RBBS and UseNet. You want some blood? You want to see someone fired? Who? Why?

And outside of Communists tending to exaggerate their abilities as Revolutionaries and the Collectivization and State Economy and Gulag and Purges (more Leninist/Stalinist than Marxist) I really don’t have much quarrel with them even if Bernie was one which he’s not by a long shot.

His ideas? 60%+ Support you DLC Blue Dog Third Way Establishment ConservaDems. You’ve done nothing for 40 years except lose. Get it through your thick heads Medicare for All means Medical, Dental, Eye, and Mental Health Care (may have left a few Cares out) is FREE when you receive the Service AND NOT ONLY IS THE INCREASE IN TAXES CHEAPER THAN YOUR CURRENT PREMIUM (which you don’t pay anymore, duh) THIS PLAN IS BETTER! It covers more stuff.

And speaking of losers. I hadn’t quite considered this before, or at least not in the same light, but the naked Racism on display was appalling.

I admit I didn’t think much of it when Harris and Booker dropped out, they were both Corporatists with the usual terrible NeoLib Policies, but wow! Klobuchar defending the fact she never prosecuted a Police Murderer (I mean a Cop who shoots someone dead, not one that gets shot) ever and she threw the book at that young black kid based on questionable testimony and the fact that he was a young black male in Minnesota?

I mean, we knew Buttigieg was a racist when he fired that Black Police Commissioner over… what again? And Not So Joltin’ Joe Biden has been stone cold since Bussing no matter how many times he kissed Obama’s butt. Bloomberg?

Bloomberg!?

Hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah.

Wait a second.

Hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah, hah.

There, I think that does it for the moment.

The only reason “Stop and Frisk” was halted is not because Michael Bloomberg had some kind of Road to Damascus Epiphany, he got his ass kicked in Court after exhausting his appeals.

If there was one loser who stood head and shoulders… above? below? hard to say, the rest of the Institutional ConservaDems who represent a mere 56% and shrinking of the Party it was Bloomberg whom Sanders crushed on Communism (sorry, it was the Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Wanderers). and Liz crushed on things like his racism (“This isn’t about how it turned out; this is about what it was designed to do to begin with. It’s targeted black and brown men from the beginning.”), also the NDAs for Sexual Harassment (“fat broads” and “horse-faced lesbians” indeed, oh “And I hope you heard what his defense was: ‘I’ve been nice to some women.’”).

Buttigieg and Klobuchar, unable to lay a glove on Sanders though they did ok against Bloomberg who was everyone’s Piñata, settled for bashing the crap out of each other which I was just as happy to see. Biden was an utter non-factor, standing on stage like a Bug-Eyed Goldfish watching the water in their bowl spiral down a maelstrom.

All in all not a bad night. We’ll see what happens Saturday.

Feb 20 2020

The Breakfast Club (Thin Lines)

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.

This Day in History

Astronaut John Glenn becomes the first American in orbit; the Rhode Island nightclub fire; Actor Sydney Poitier born; Tara Lipinski becomes the youngest gold medalist in the Winter Olympics.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.

Erma Bombeck

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 19 2020

Democratic Debate 2020 Nevada

The focus of the Democratic contest for a presidential candidate moves to Nevada for the caucus on Saturday February 22 where early voting turnout has been high

More than 36,000 Nevadans opted to vote early in the first three days of Nevada’s Democratic caucus — the first time that the unique early voting option has been available in a contest of presidential preferences. Turnout levels in four days of early voting alone were not available at press time, but could amount to well over half of the total turnout in the party’s one-day, 2016 caucus, when 84,000 people participated.

Much of the focus has been on tonight’s debate exclusively on MSNBC which will include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg despite complaints that he is not on the Nevada ballot and has bought is place on the stage. Mr. Bloomberg is a real multi-billionaire who has flooded the airways with nearly $500 million in campaign ads. He has moved up in the polls which qualified him for the debate after the DNC changed the rules on campaign funding. Needless to say, supporters of Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Julian Castro are pretty miffed, as are those candidates who qualifies under the previous rules for campaign financing. Many are demanding the resignation of the DNC chair Tom Perez.

So, tonight debate should be interesting with the former mayor, who is another Trump but actual richer. His debate performance is seen as test.

Bloomberg is expected to endure heavy attacks from his opponents, and his performance may be a crucial test of his candidacy, political experts say, and for the party’s 2020 nominating fight.

On Tuesday, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said “it’s a shame” that Bloomberg “can buy his way into the debate. She tweeted: “At least now primary voters curious about how each candidate will take on Donald Trump can get a live demonstration of how we each take on an egomaniac billionaire.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is the front-runner in Nevada in several polls, took similar aim at Bloomberg.

“Democracy to me means one person, one vote, not Bloomberg or anybody else spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to buy an election,” Sanders said.

Mr. Bloomberg’s problems are far greater than his buying his way to the stage. His policies while Mayor of NYC are a far bigger issue, particularly, his support of “stop and frisk” and the surveillance of the Muslim community that didn’t find one terrorist.

Tonight’s debate starts at 9 PM ET and will be broadcast on NBC and MSNBC and can be watched online at NBCNews.com and MSNBC.com. The moderators will be Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Hallie Jackson, Vanessa Hauc and Jon Ralston.

Feb 19 2020

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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

Max Boot: William Barr’s America vs. reality in 2020

It has become conventional wisdom on the right that religion is under assault from secular liberals — and that the waning of faith is bad for America.

Attorney General William P. Barr, a conservative Catholic, summed up this alarmist outlook last fall during an incendiary speech at Notre Dame. He bemoaned “the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system” and the “growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism. By any honest assessment,” he thundered, “the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim.” He went on to cite statistics on rising out-of-wedlock births (“illegitimacy”), along with “record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.”

This tendentious reading of U.S. history ignores reality. By most metrics, the country is far better off than when Barr was a boy. He was born in 1950, when segregation was legal and homosexuality was not. [..]

Indicators suggest that the less religious nations are much better off. Average GDP per capita in the least religious countries is more than five times higher, while the unemployment rate is more than twice as low and the poverty rate is one and a half times lower. The homicide rate is five times lower. Life expectancy is 22 percent higher, and infant mortality is 1,000 percent lower — in part because the least religious nations spend 50 percent more per capita on health care. The least religious countries are also better educated, with a mean 12 years of schooling per capita vs. 7½ years in the most religious countries. Income inequality is 24 percent lower in the least religious countries, and gender inequality (as measured by the World Bank) is more than 400 percent lower. Finally, the least religious countries are freer, with an average score of 87.6 from Freedom House, compared to 56.5 for the most religious countries.

Greg Sargent: Trump’s corruption will get worse. His own advisers just showed how.

The debate over William P. Barr’s future as attorney general is unfolding in an alternate reality — in a place where it’s considered an open question whether President Trump will continue trying to corrupt law enforcement right out in plain sight.

In this magical place, Barr’s loyalists can leak word that, by golly, Barr just might quit if Trump keeps publicly trying to manipulate ongoing cases. This is meant to insulate Barr from Trump’s taint.

But in the real world, here’s what’s staring us in the face: For Trump, the very public nature of his efforts to corrupt law enforcement is a key feature of those efforts, not a byproduct of them that he pathologically can’t control.

Whatever sense of obligation Barr takes from this, if any, it imposes a grave imperative on the rest of us to communicate it to voters and articulate what can be done about it.

Michelle Cottle: You’ve Seen the Ads, Now See the Candidate

After spending over $400 million promoting himself, Michael Bloomberg faces the scrutiny of a debate for the first time.

On Wednesday, the leading Democratic candidates for president will take the debate stage in Las Vegas, three days ahead of the Nevada caucuses. This will be the race’s ninth debate, and many voters may be tempted to skip the show. That would be a mistake.

While many of the candidates and their sales pitches are by now familiar — in some cases painfully so — this will be the debate debut of Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire business mogul and former mayor of New York who has been promoting himself, with the help of his personal fortune, as the one player with “the record & the resources” to topple President Trump. [..]

Rarely has a candidate come so far while revealing so little of himself, making Wednesday’s debate — the first time Mr. Bloomberg will face his primary competitors live and in person — far more significant, and interesting, than most.

Zaid Jilani: Mike Bloomberg has a terrible past. Will his money stop scrutiny of it?

The former New York mayor championed stop and frisk as well as Muslim surveillance programs

During his tenure as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg oversaw one of the most discriminatory surveillance programs in our nation’s history. His police department’s “Demographics Unit” mapped out Muslim American communities and infiltrated and spied on everything from kebab shops to Muslim student whitewater rafting trips.

Not only was the program offensive to American values – even the then New Jersey Republican governor, Chris Christie, an ally of President Trump’s, was outraged upon learning of it – it did nothing to keep New Yorkers safe. The Demographics Unit’s work did not generate a single terror lead.

But Bloomberg himself has always been unapologetic, insisting the program was justified. [..]

Bloomberg’s ability to buy silence presents a challenge not only to the Democrats, but to democracy itself, because while American democracy can’t be snuffed out by brute force, it can be drowned by money.

Dr. Heather Gautney and Eric Blanc: Mike Bloomberg’s education ‘reforms’ would be a disaster for public schools

Like Trump, Bloomberg is a fervent backer of privatizing and dismantling public schools across the country

Nominating Michael Bloomberg would be a disaster for public schools – and for the Democrats’ chances at beating Donald Trump in 2020. Because when it comes to education policy, it is virtually impossible to tell the two billionaire politicians apart.

Like Trump and his inept secretary of education, Betsy Devos, Bloomberg is a fervent backer of privatizing and dismantling public schools across the country. Education, in their view, should be run like a business. [..]

Indeed, Bloomberg succeeded in massively expanding privately run but publicly funded charter schools during his term as mayor, increasing their number from 18 to 183. His controversial push to “increase school choice” closed over 100 schools in low-income communities and entrenched New York City’s education system as the most racially segregated in the country.

In contrast with Bloomberg’s too-little-too-late apology for imposing racist stop-and-frisk policies upon New York City – and its overwhelmingly non-white student body – the former mayor has doubled down on his rightwing education approach in recent years.

Feb 19 2020

Nux Infans Delenda Est!

You heard the lady, Nuke it from Orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Feb 19 2020

Cartnoon

Probably elaborate fanfic, but it could be Colin Trevorrow’s script for Rise of the Skywalkers.

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