Dec 14 2019

Weekend Cartnoon

1972 but so cheesey you’ll think it’s much older.

Holidays, more later.

Dec 14 2019

The Breakfast Club (The Best Measure)

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.

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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

The best measure of a man’s honesty isn’t his income tax return. It’s the zero adjust on his bathroom scale.

Arthur C. Clarke

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Dec 13 2019

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

Dahlia Lithwick: Two Small Articles of Impeachment Are Pathetic but Necessary

Democrats have taken one lesson from Mueller—don’t give Republicans too much to lie about.

Following the announcement of the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning, progressives raced to formalize their positions in the monthslong battle over whether it was best to go broad or narrow in laying out the case against Donald Trump. Richard Hasen makes the case for the narrow focus here. Fred Kaplan disagrees. Jamelle Bouie says the two articles are not enough. Kim Wehle says they’re plenty. Laurence Tribe insists it’s a false choice. The cases center, in various directions, on thoughtful, careful analysis of what the evidence shows; what the proper scope of Trump’s wrongdoing should be; what moderate Democrats in the House would tolerate; and the breakneck timetable House Democrats have set for themselves. There is also the distinct possibility that House Democrats made the decision to limit themselves to two articles because of the regretful realization that Americans, who wouldn’t read the 448-page Mueller report or the 300-page intelligence committee report on the Trump-Ukraine inquiry, might just read the 8½ pages that represent the articles of impeachment.

I would venture that perhaps there is an even simpler reason for the two, spare articles. I think that the narrow nature of the impeachment charges speaks to the disinformation effort Democrats rightly expected to have to counter and their hope not to engage in a fight about multiple realities across multiple issues over a lengthy time period. In other words, my guess is that in the wake of the White House efforts to distort and confuse the outcome of the Mueller report by lying about it (efforts that were largely successful; it’s still referred to, falsely, as a “hoax” by the GOP), Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, and Nancy Pelosi made the reasonable decision to engage as little as possible with Republican lying. It is not simply that the impeachment managers have to sell a clean, coherent story, both to the public and in the Senate trial; it’s also that they need to avoid as many entanglements with fantasies and distractions as possible. Going narrow helps with that.

Paul Krugman: The Party That Ruined the Planet

Republican climate denial is even scarier than Trumpism.

The most terrifying aspect of the U.S. political drama isn’t the revelation that the president has abused his power for personal gain. If you didn’t see that coming from the day Donald Trump was elected, you weren’t paying attention.

No, the real revelation has been the utter depravity of the Republican Party. Essentially every elected or appointed official in that party has chosen to defend Trump by buying into crazy, debunked conspiracy theories. That is, one of America’s two major parties is beyond redemption; given that, it’s hard to see how democracy can long endure, even if Trump is defeated.

However, the scariest reporting I’ve seen recently has been about science, not politics. A new federal report finds that climate change in the Arctic is accelerating, matching what used to be considered worst-case scenarios. And there are indications that arctic warming may be turning into a self-reinforcing spiral, as the thawing tundra itself releases vast quantities of greenhouse gases.

Catastrophic sea-level rise, heat waves that make major population centers uninhabitable, and more are now looking more likely than not, and sooner rather than later.

But the terrifying political news and the terrifying climate news are closely related.

Caroline Fredrickson: Donald Trump Wanted Another Roy Cohn. He Got Bill Barr.

Even better.

President Trump famously asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Demanding a stand-in for his old personal lawyer and fixer, Mr. Trump has actually gotten something better with Bill Barr: a lawyer who like Cohn stops seemingly at nothing in his service to Mr. Trump and conveniently sits atop the nation’s Justice Department.

Mr. Barr has acted more like a henchman than the leader of an agency charged with exercising independent judgment. The disturbing message that sends does not end at our borders — it extends to countries, like those in the former East Bloc, struggling to overcome an illiberal turn in the direction of autocracy.

When Mr. Trump sought to have President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine announce an investigation of his political opponent, he likely expected a positive response. After all, politicized prosecutions had been part of Ukraine’s corrupt political culture for years.

On Monday, when Michael Horowitz, inspector general for the Justice Department, released a report that affirmed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was justified, Mr. Barr immediately turned on his own agency in defense of the president.

Kurt Bardella: House Republicans’ Trump impeachment strategy is simple: Distract, deceive and yell

GOP lawmakers have treated the hearings like Fox New segments, delivering loud, rambling monologues in a deliberate attempt to wear down participants and viewers.

If there’s one thing we’ve seen consistently from Republicans during the past few weeks of congressional impeachment hearings, it’s yelling.

The articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump have been drafted and the process is now moving steadily towards a vote in the House. But GOP lawmakers, especially GOP men, aren’t going down quietly. Perhaps Democratic Coalition’s Jon Cooper put it best when he tweeted Monday, “Why is Doug Collins always yelling?” CNBC’s Christina Wilkie pointed out a similar phenomenon, noting that Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was “yelling about whether the rules of the hearing are, in fact, the rules of the hearing.”

Indeed, in observing my former House GOP comrades over the many days of contentious House hearings, I am reminded of a scene from the classic Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman,” where the famed (and fictional) Channel 4 News team angrily confronts its news director over the hiring of a female reporter. In the scene, several of the male journalists take turns yelling their opposition to the addition. Steve Carell’s character, Brick Tamland, isn’t really smart enough to have a critique but wishing to be included, he screams, “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!”

That pretty much sums up Republicans’ defense of their current leader. If they yell loud enough and long enough, what they say about the circumstances of this impeachment inquiry will become truth. Their calculation is that by yelling about anything and everything, the American people will either be convinced or at the very least so annoyed they’ll stop watching. To the GOP, yelling seems to be both a demonstration of strength and a deliberate effort to wear down Democrats and any other Americans who care enough to tune in.

Geoffrey Kabaservice: Republicans are turning impeachment into a carnival – and it could cost them

These antics may work as a short-term strategy. But they’ll go down poorly with voters the Republican party really needs

House Democrats announced this week that they would bring two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, making him only the fourth president in US history to face such charges. Democratic leaders characterized the occasion as solemn, somber and sad. Republicans, on the other hand, dismissed the impeachment inquiry as a circus and a sham despite the fact that they are themselves the ones trying to reduce it to carnivalesque farce. Even a motion to take a 15-minute bathroom break during this week’s judiciary committee hearings provoked hysterical Republican objections.

The Republican strategy, clearly, is to undermine and delegitimize the impeachment inquiry. Republicans are portraying the inquiry as a hoax and an attempted coup by Democrats desperate to reverse the results of the 2016 election, unrelated to any actual presidential wrongdoing. The White House’s refusal to cooperate with Congress by sending legal representation to the impeachment hearings was explained by Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway as resistance to “colluding with an illegitimate process”.

Why are Republicans taking this approach? Largely because they have no other choice, given the considerable weight of evidence that the president did in fact abuse his power and obstruct Congress, as charged in the impeachment articles.[..]

Republicans appear locked into their strategy of trying to dismiss impeachment as a partisan sham, despite the likelihood that this will make it harder to win back college-educated suburban swing voters. In hindsight, Republicans may come to feel that this play for short-term political advantage came at too high a cost.v

Dec 13 2019

Lunch with a Boor

This didn’t happen to me personally, it’s kind of third hand because I know people who know people and I have no reason to doubt the person who related this story or the original source.

It goes something like this.

The Lady in question was temporarily displaced from the Plaza Hotel which I mention not to impress but because the point that she can afford to live in the Plaza is relevant, and had taken up residence at 721 down the street. In her estimation and the words of the proprietor, it was a dump.

I mean, he thought it was perfect but he has very poor taste.

Demonstrated when he plopped himself next to her in the dining room and invited himself to lunch so he could pitch his current con after which she politely, in a Nero Wolfe kind of way, told him that she never discusses business at the table and he should call her people (meaning for the unsubtle- go away and never bother me again).

It wasn’t so much the pitch, the details are immaterial, it was the experience. Not just creepy in that Hillary debate kind of way (pro tip- don’t loom over women, stalk them, or touch them unexpectedly and without invitation) but disgusting in the “Ewww” kind of way that comes from watching someone consume a lump of coal inches from diamondhood in a sea of ketchup.

In my life I’ve been fortunate to find better friends than I deserve (my family thinks I’m a blot on the escutcheon and I feel forced to agree). My Therapist insists they must see some redeeming quality beyond my self assessment and we spend our time in session looking for it (so far without success, but therapy is not a cure- it’s a living).

At least I’m not this guy.

Dec 13 2019

The Breakfast Club (Pillar Of State)

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

U.S. forces capture Iraq’s ousted dictator Saddam Hussein; Authorities in communist Poland impose martial law; Union forces suffer defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia; Actor Dick Van Dyke is born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

In our country the lie has become not just a moral category but a pillar of the State.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Dec 12 2019

The Abuser’s Argument

I have some experience of Domestic Violence in my family and know a lot of other people who have been involved in that situation which makes a lot of sense, it’s kind of pervasive and the more aware you are the more you see, even in some interactions considered “normal”.

Two words- Mika Brzezinski. Joe Scarborough is a horrible human being and you should never forget that even if he agrees with you.

It is disturbung if understandable that victims accept the argument that they have brought it on themselves because in the largest sense it’s true, you make life choices and they have effects.

But that doesn’t excuse the Abuser’s evil.

Nikki Haley reveals how Republicans will absolve themselves of Trump
By Paul Waldman, Washington Post
12/12/19

But in this case she’s arguing that if conservatives take the most despicable positions, like supporting racist symbology, the fault is only that of liberals and not conservatives themselves. Haley excuses them, saying that only “a small number of hardened white-supremacist racists” share Dylann Roof’s “sick and twisted view of the flag.”

In fact, white supremacists, Roof included, have a perfectly accurate view of what the Confederate flag represents, one they share with most every liberal: that it’s a symbol of hate and oppression. They just think that’s a reason to fly it, not a reason to take it down.

But now Haley argues that her fellow Republicans, with their benevolent and warm-hearted view of the Confederate flag, are so sensitive that criticism from liberals will cause them to embrace positions they shouldn’t. This is something we’ve been hearing since the beginning of the Trump presidency, echoed in the words of every domestic abuser: Look what you made us do.

We didn’t want to line up behind someone as corrupt and immoral as Trump, but what choice did liberals give us? They were so mean, we just had to. They called us racists, so we had to become racist. They called us extremists, so we had to become extremist.

“This is how you got Trump,” conservatives said every time some liberal excess emerged. We Republicans would much rather have made a less repugnant politician our champion, but once Hillary Clinton said half of Trump’s supporters were deplorable, it hurt our feelings so much that the rest of us just had to become deplorable, too.

Yes, we supported ripping children from their parents’ arms and putting them in cages. We said it’s fine if the president gives White House jobs to his family members and directs taxpayer money to his own bank account. We defended him for pressuring a foreign government to help his reelection campaign. We nodded along at his bigotry, his misogyny, his hate-mongering, his corruption, his dishonesty, his contempt for basic human decency. But it’s not our fault.

The issue of the Confederate flag in South Carolina may be settled. But make no mistake, Haley is arguing about the future, not the past. Hers is the template for how Republicans will excuse and explain away all their actions during the Trump years.

Whenever they’re called to account for their role in enabling everything Trump has done and the way their party has been so thoroughly fashioned in his image, they’ll insist that they bear no moral responsibility for what they became and what they abetted. Don’t let them get away with it.

Dec 12 2019

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: Impeachment in the House Is the Victory

Donald Trump and his supporters need to know that you can be punished for your actions.

It is hard for me to be out in public or on social media without being peppered with questions by people with strained faces about whether there is any chance that the Senate will vote to convict Donald Trump if the House of Representatives impeaches him.

I have to constantly remind people that impeachment in the House is the victory. The Senate is a lost cause, and has been on this issue since Trump rose to office.

The Senate has considered articles of impeachment against two other presidents and refused to convict and remove both times. This time is not likely to be any different. In that sense, impeachment by the House is the strongest rebuke America has ever been willing to give a president.

Trump deserves at least that. [..]

History will not only record Trump as a corrupt, tyrannical demagogue, it will also record his staggering success: How one man with no political experience hijacked a major American political party and its tens of millions of loyalists.

It is as extraordinary as it is horrifying.

Jared Bernstein: Trump’s China Trade War Is Failing. Democrats Should Campaign Against It.

The presidential candidates need to stop demurring and fully reject Trump’s approach.

When it comes to trade policy with China, the Democratic presidential candidates face a conundrum. They don’t want to sign onto President Trump’s endless, chaotic, pain-over-gain trade war, yet they don’t want to appear weak or appeasing of China’s trade practices.

Most of the candidates have rightly called out China for its human rights abuses, and they should continue to do so. But none have clearly and cleanly made rejecting Trump’s trade war a “Day 1” commitment. They need to stop demurring and fully reject Trump’s failing approach. The way to compete with China on trade is neither sweeping tariffs nor the administration’s futile insistence that China change its fundamental economic model. It’s to enhance our own international competitiveness and provide real help to the people and places left behind by globalization.

Max Boot: The Do Something Democrats show they can legislate even while they impeach

Of all the nonsensical impeachment defenses coming from the Republican Party, one of the silliest has to be the constantly repeated refrain that holding President Trump to account for his “high crimes and misdemeanors” is a distraction from the really important issues confronting America. As Trump tweeted on Nov. 24, “Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, AOC and the rest of the Democrats are not getting important legislation done, hence, the Do Nothing Democrats. USMCA, National Defense Authorization Act, Gun Safety, Prescription Drug Prices, & Infrastructure are dead in the water because of the Dems!”

Personally, I can think of nothing more important for Congress to be doing than defending the Constitution by showing that no one — not even the president — is above the law. But Congress has also shown that it can walk and chew gum at the same time. [..]

On issue after issue — whether gun violence, immigration, the deficit, income inequality, election security, health coverage, drug prices or global warming — Trump is part of the problem, not the solution. The only way to make progress in addressing our most serious challenges is to remove him from office. So anyone who is worried about getting things done in Congress should be cheering, not jeering, impeachment.

Tim Wu: How Professors Help Rip Off Students

Textbooks are too expensive.

As the semester ends, instructors at universities and community colleges around the country will begin placing their orders for next year’s textbooks. But not all professors will pay enough attention to something that students complain about: the outlandish prices of the books we assign. Having grown at many times the rate of inflation, the cost of a leading economics book can be over $250; a law school casebook plus supplement can cost $277. Adding to such prices is the dubious trend of requiring students to obtain digital access codes, averaging $100, to complete homework assignments.

Professors love tough questions. Here’s one we need ask ourselves: Are we helping rip off our students?

A good instructor wants to use the best materials, and some of the expensive textbooks are excellent and arguably worth the price. But some really aren’t, especially when there are cheaper or free alternatives of equal quality out there. Basic ethics suggest we have a duty to look for cheaper options before we inflict the $200 or $300 books or the $100 access codes on our students. Professors who write successful textbooks need to think harder about the professional ethics of allowing a book to be sold at exploitative prices to young people.

Jim Hightower: ‘Tax the Rich’ Is No Longer Just a Political Slogan

It’s a national necessity and a moral imperative. And, at long last, it’s actually within our reach.

There’s nothing inevitable about inequality. It’s an injustice that the moneyed powers and their political hirelings have chosen. We the People can choose a brighter path, one that bends toward justice, starting with a wealth tax such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan to apply a 2% per annum wealth tax only to net worth over $50 million and another 1% to households worth more than a billion bucks.

But how can we best the billionaires who buy the political clout to push through laws that the great majority opposes (such as 2017’s Donald Trump-Mitch McConnell trillion-dollar tax giveaway to the rich) and best their brawny political blockers? Not by going around them but by pushing right through them.

First, years of rank avarice and arrogance have caught up with the superrich and their enablers, turning “billionaire” into a synonym for “thief” and focusing rising public anger on the inequality they’ve fostered.

Second, that anger has generated a stunning level of popular enthusiasm for the wealth tax.

Dec 12 2019

I don’t give a stitch if I don’t get rich

C’mon guys, Rogers and Hart.

I am never, ever going to watch Cats: The Movie

Athens of America

Red Carpet

Plantation Wedding

I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair.

Dec 12 2019

No Joke

The crime is soliciting personal benefit for Government (or Institutional in the fiduciary sense) action. He’s admitted his guilt in public.

Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?

Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio

Public Domain

Condoleezza Rice

More Disney

Golddiggers

Dec 12 2019

The Breakfast Club (Collective Goal)

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

A divided U.S. Supreme Court halts the presidential recount in Florida, effectively making Republican George W. Bush the winner.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

It’s the individual effort of everybody working together towards a collective goal that causes real, effective change in America and in the world.

David Hogg

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