Democratic National Convention 2016: Day 1

Good riddance to bad rubbish

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and top executives of the Democratic National Committee are now proven by the Wikileaks e-mail release to have shown blatant favoritism to the Clinton campaign in her primary contest against Bernie Sanders.

That’s just a fact and Democrats at all levels of the party from voters to elected officials to Party functionaries have to accept that and ensure that it never happens again because the voters, you know, the little people who actually elect you are deeply unhappy and disturbed by a process that now must me called undemocratic and unfair.

Wasserman Shcultz has resigned in disgrace but there are other guilty parties in the Party structure who must be removed, willingly or not.

Make no mistake about it, even after the charges were proved Wasserman Schultz sought to cling to power, first refusing to resign, later resigning only at the completion of the Convention, later still unwilling to give up her ceremonial gaveling to order and adjourn.

This morning Debbie Wasserman Schultz appeared before her home State of Florida Delegate Caucus and was booed off the stage. It still took over 4 hours for Party officials to understand that any appearance at the Convention would meet a similar reception.

It’s easy to understand why she desperately wanted her high profile moment, she’s engaged in a close fought primary battle against Tom Canova that she may well lose, and by rights should. She’s a terrible Congressperson totally bought and paid for by Banksters and Big Business Billionaires.

She’s also been an awful DNC Chair, primarily responsible for limited gains in 2012 and huge defeats in 2014. She refuses to endorse Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents, who are her “friends”.

The sooner she’s out of office entirely the better.

She is replaced by Donna Brazile whom I have my doubts about but Bernie Sanders is satisfied with. They have a long standing relationship going back to Jesse Jackson’s campaigns in 1988 and 1992. We don’t yet know who will be wielding the gavel tonight but it won’t be Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Committee Reports

If you watch for fireworks today is the best day. Because of the Sanders campaign’s success there will be several Minority Reports presented for a vote by the delegates.

Expected clashes include Sanders’ top priority of preventing a Congressional vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Many delegates think the language is too weak and might be construed to allow a vote in the lame duck session after the election, a profoundly anti-democratic move to enact,against the popular will and omnibus capitulation to Corrupt Corporate Interests and Billionaires.

Other possible Minority Report votes are on stronger language for a $15 Minimum Wage, institution of a “Carbon Tax” to combat Global Warming, and banning Fracking. There may yet be an effort to completely eliminate Super Delegates despite the recent compromise restricting the freedom of all Super Delegates except Elected officials.

Tonight’s Speakers

The Convention starts at 4 pm ET.

The Putin Connection

The Republican nominee for president has deep ties to Russia and it’s head of state Vladimir Putin that long preceded his friendship with Paul Manafort. And, as Charlie Pierce said, this should raise alarm bells for anyone concerned about democracy. Pierce leads us to an in depth article by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo that examines just how close Donald Trump is connected to Putin. It ain’t just Paul Manafort. Follow the money

Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin’s increasingly autocratic and illiberal rule. But there’s quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men. [..]

Let’s start with the basic facts. There is a lot of Russian money flowing into Trump’s coffers and he is conspicuously solicitous of Russian foreign policy priorities.

I’ll list off some facts.

1. All the other discussions of Trump’s finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.

2. Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin. Here’s a good overview from The Washington Post, with one morsel for illustration … [..]

3. One example of this is the Trump Soho development in Manhattan, one of Trump’s largest recent endeavors. The project was the hit with a series of lawsuits in response to some typically Trumpian efforts to defraud investors by making fraudulent claims about the financial health of the project. Emerging out of that litigation however was news about secret financing for the project from Russia and Kazakhstan. Most attention about the project has focused on the presence of a twice imprisoned Russian immigrant with extensive ties to the Russian criminal underworld. But that’s not the most salient part of the story. As the Times put it,

“Mr. Lauria brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians “in favor with” President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives. The Icelandic company, FL Group, was identified in a Bayrock investor presentation as a “strategic partner,” along with Alexander Mashkevich, a billionaire once charged in a corruption case involving fees paid by a Belgian company seeking business in Kazakhstan; that case was settled with no admission of guilt.”

Another suit alleged the project “occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia.”

Sounds completely legit.

Read both articles: After his bankruptcy and business failures roughly a decade ago Trump has had an increasingly difficult time finding sources of capital for new investments. As I noted above, Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks with the exception of Deutschebank, which is of course a foreign bank with a major US presence. He has steadied and rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. At a minimum the Trump organization is receiving lots of investment capital from people close to Vladimir Putin.

This most likely the primary reason that Trump is refusing release his tax returns and, possibly the reason he is being audited.

Marshall goes onto discussing Manafort who was top campaign and communications advisor for Viktor Yanukovych, ally of Putin, the pro-Russian Ukrainian Prime Minister and then President. He also points out that trump’s foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, has investment and employment ties in Russia, specifically with Gazprom, the Russian national energy company. Putin has also thrown the force of the Russian controlled media behind supporting Trump.

But what really piqued Marshall’s interest in the Putin connection was this:

The Trump Camp was totally indifferent to the platform. So party activists were able to write one of the most conservative platforms in history. Not with Trump’s backing but because he simply didn’t care. With one big exception: Trump’s team mobilized the nominee’s traditional mix of cajoling and strong-arming on one point: changing the party platform on assistance to Ukraine against Russian military operations in eastern Ukraine. For what it’s worth (and it’s not worth much) I am quite skeptical of most Republicans call for aggressively arming Ukraine to resist Russian aggression. But the single-mindedness of this focus on this one issue – in the context of total indifference to everything else in the platform – speaks volumes. [..]

To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump’s direction, combined with this much solicitousness of Putin’s policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. And yet Putin is not the CEO of an American corporation. He’s the autocrat who rules a foreign state, with an increasingly hostile posture towards the United States and a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons. The stakes involved in finding out ‘what’s going on’ as Trump might put it are quite a bit higher.


The Breakfast Club (One)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Andrea Doria begins to sink after a collision in the North Atlantic; An Air France Concorde crashes outside Paris; First ‘test-tube’ baby born; Golfer Ben Hogan dies; ‘A Chorus Line’ opens on Broadway.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

In examining the CIA’s past and present use of the U.S. media, the Committee finds two reasons for concern. The first is the potential, inherent in covert media operations, for manipulating or incidentally misleading the American public.

The second is the damage to the credibility and independence of a free press which may be caused by covert relationships with the U.S. journalists and media organizations.

Frank Church

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Rant of the Week: Jon Stewart Takes Over Stephen Colbert’s Desk

There are no other political commentators and satirists like Jon Stewart and real Stephen Colbert, not the restrained host of the”Late Show.” Jon Stewart returns to add his view on the RNC nomination of real estate huckster Donald trump for president.

Don’t stay away, Jon. We really need you now.

More about God and why He’s a bad idea.

I told you so.

Look, I’m a flat out Atheist and I never try to hide it. I also never shove it in people’s faces in part because, frankly, it makes me a member of the most despised minority in the United States.

Yup, folks would rather vote for and live in a neighborhood with a Muslim/Jew/Catholic/Black/Brown/Asian/Hispanic/LBGT/Satanist than they would an Atheist (I realize all those qualities are seldom found in a single individual).

In social interaction I often elide my Atheism with Buddhism which some people consider a religion but is really more a personal philosophy of ethical action. In fact you’ll find that most people who are actual Atheists are more concerned about living an ethical life than many who profess a religion are interested in conforming to its precepts.

In many ways this is because Atheists don’t believe in an “after-life”. Dead is dead. A permanent state of unconsciousness from which you never recover. You’ll be pushing up daisies unless they nail you to the perch and in any case you won’t care because you are a past parrot, no matter how beautiful the plumage.

Because of this we try to make the best of the one life we have and instead of being greedy narcissists the vast majority work to make this world a better place. I won’t claim altruism, it’s better for us too.

On the other hand (and seriously, I don’t mean to denigrate your profound personal belief) those who believe in heavenly rewards for faithful service and good works are a little more… mercenary. I expect nothing except my enemies (of whom I have more than a few) poking me with a stick to make sure I’m really dead.

Then there is the question of forgiveness. A God of “Justice” will forgive a life of sin provided your dying breath contains sincere repentance? If I believed that I’d be the biggest asshole the world has ever seen and I’d sincerely repent that I was dead.

Bingo. Pearly Gate City. Hand me my Harp.

And that introduces one of my biggest disputes with what most consider religion. Without some invisible force passing judgement on you, the assumption is that you are free to act with abandon and without constraint.

The Invisible Thief

Many attribute this tale to Socrates, as do I. I certainly don’t claim originality.

So suppose you were an invisible thief and no barrier could stop you. Your thefts make you incredibly rich and powerful to the extent that you can invisibly murder your King, marry his widow, and become King yourself. No one can prove it. No judgemental God will punish it. No paranoid fantasies of someone doing the same to you.

What is the down side?

Well, it is this- you become the kind of person who would do these things and while no one can definitely say you did them everybody knows (because you can’t hide your true personality) that you might have and reacts to you with-


Hello Devil. Welcome to Hell.

Another Big Deal

I also don’t try to hide the fact that I’ve been an Atheist since I was about 12, even from my church choir where I was active until I was 14 or 15 (I was raised a Methodist like W and Hillary and anyone who claims it’s not a fundamentalist religion is deluding themselves with the social equality message that comes from evangelising Black African Slaves in the early 19th Century). I went to Sunday School too until I graduated to the class that met in the Bowling Alley. My teachers hated me but that was typical of most of my teachers.

At that age my primary question was why, if God is omniscient, omnipotent, and beneficent Evil exists?

Now a fully informed and aware Christian (or Muslim or Mormon) would contend it is a test of faith to separate those worthy of eternal life in the presence of God from the riff-raff (He didn’t like me! He NEVER liked me!). What I got was primarily, “Hummena Hummena, how about that Sermon on the Mount and those Loafs and Fishes.”

Well, what is faith?

It’s a belief in something that can not be proven rationally (or as Spock would say- logically, since it’s not internally consistent and contradicts itself) or empirically (a fancy word for Science!) so you just have to take my word for it.

Another thing about Atheists is that we tend to know a little more about religion than actual adherents since most of us have been on a spiritual search (not the same thing as belief in God at all) to justify our instinctive cynicism. My particular crisis was that I could not reconcile Omniscient and Omnipotent with Free Will and Personal Accountability. Deterministic Calvinist Pre-Destination seemed the inevitable outcome and I was and am not willing to accept that. My disbelief was of course reinforced as I gained a deeper knowledge of the history behind the church (that includes all of them, Scientology to Hindu).


Of the religions I studied the one that most attracted me was Judaism (well, after Buddhism) because it wasn’t so much a religion as a tribe. If you are born to a Jewish mother, you’re a Jew. Now a lot of Jews I know don’t practice Judaism, some are Agnostic or Atheist, some are simply non-observant except for Holidays and family milestones, others do unconventional things like Wicca. They’re still Jewish. They can’t help it anymore than I can help being Methodist (in my case it’s 8 years of brainwashing).

And within Judaism you have a wide range of practice from Hasidim to Ultra-Orthodox to Orthodox to Conservative to Reform (pretty much the Unitarian Universalism of Judaism, the refuge of those who want to say they have a religion if anyone asks).

Now as I say I don’t make much pretense. When I’ve been sick they’ve sent the Chaplin in and the first thing I do after they introduce themselves is explain, in a gentle way, that I think it’s all a load of hooey. I do it gently because, of course, they actually believe this stuff and they have a tough job dealing with people who are basically dying (which I am too stubborn and unrepentant to do). After that I invite them to have a chat and we talk about Sports or the Weather. I never argue if they want to make a pitch, I take it and shake their hand when they’re ready to move on. Likewise when I’m forced by ceremony to attend a service I sit and stand when everybody else does. I don’t sing much, but I don’t play games on my Cell either. And I also get why people associate themselves with a church. Less so now but back in the day it was your social life. Not much else to do.

But I’m not running for office. Poll after poll shows that U.S. citizens would rather vote for a baby sacrificing Satanist (or a Muslim, to some people they’re about the same) than an Athiest which is why stories like this are so hurtful-

New Leak: Top DNC Official Wanted to Use Bernie Sanders’s Religious Beliefs Against Him
by Sam Biddle, The Intercept
July 22 2016, 12:38 p.m.

Among the nearly 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, released Friday by Wikileaks and presumably provided by the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” is a May 2016 message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall. In it, he suggested that the party should “get someone to ask” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his religious beliefs.
Date: 2016-05-05 03:31
Subject: No shit

It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.

The email was sent to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda and Deputy Communications Director Mark Paustenbach. It’s unclear who the “someone” in this message could be — though a member of the press seems like a safe bet.

Marshall emails to say “I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate.” We have asked him who that surrogate could possibly be.

And although Sanders is not mentioned by name, he was the only Jewish candidate from either party — an apparent weakness that Marshall believed the party could exploit in favor of Hillary Clinton.

It is also unclear why the Democratic National Committee, which isn’t supposed to favor one Democratic candidate over another until they receive a nomination, would have attempted to subvert the Sanders campaign on the grounds that “he is an atheist.”

A reply to Marshall’s email from DNC CEO Amy Dacey read only “AMEN.”

Well, it’s really not about anti-Semitism, it’s about anti-Atheism which it seems pretty clear that some people in positions of power at the Democratic National Committee think they can exploit to damage a candidate, a fellow Democrat.

While I’ve seen some coverage of this story that suggests the potential damage would have been marginal (1 or 2%) and Bernie would simply have repeated that he was Jewish and his religious practices were nobody’s damn business but his (indeed might have turned the story around by claiming anti-Semitism, but he’s probably too principled for that), it’s disturbing that in 2016 higher ups at the DNC think it’s AOk to discriminate against Irish or Italian Catholics as long as they happen to be Atheists (“Let them into the Club? Of course not. They’re not our sort.” And if you think this didn’t happen a lot to Catholics you’re far more ignorant of history than I expect.).

And it’s not a religion, it’s a pretty reality based theory that there is no God and never was.

Sorry if that offends you.


The Breakfast Club (Black And White)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

A key ruling during the Watergate scandal; Nixon and Khrushchev hold a ‘kitchen debate’ during the Cold War; Brigham Young and Mormon followers arrive in present-day Utah; Apollo 11’s crew returns home.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes.

Bella Abzug

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It’s The End Of The World As We Know It!!!

Perhaps you’re unconvinced that we live in the End Times and civilization is going to collapse like a House of Cards into a Zombie led Mad Max/Hunger Games Apocalypse despite the best efforts of the Justice League AND the Avengers (c’mon, of course the Justice League is first, Stan Lee never met a good idea he didn’t steal).

Well screw your Global Warming/Imperial Overeach/Neolib Global Economic Depression/Race War fantasies, I have for you the Seventh Seal, the final sign that Judgement Day is nigh. Are you enRaptured yet?

New Yorker becomes first to catch all U.S. Pokemon
By Kate Irby, McClatchy
July 22, 2016 3:31 PM

Nick Johnson said he’s worked 50 hours per week, walked eight miles per day and lost eight pounds.

It sounds like part of a new fitness craze, but it’s really Pokemon Go. And Johnson’s work paid off — the New Yorker is reportedly the first person to catch all the U.S. Pokemon in the smartphone game.

Johnson posted his picture proof to Reddit on Thursday, and many Redditors immediately accused him of cheating or otherwise lying about the accomplishment. The game has been available in the U.S. since July 6, meaning Johnson took about two weeks to accomplish the feat.

But Matt Weinberger, a reporter for Business Insider, said Johnson was a personal friend and he could confirm the picture’s legitimacy.

“Speaking personally, I’ve gotten enough late-night Facebook messages boasting of a new Pokemon capture to vouch for his dedication and thoroughness,” Weinberger wrote.

Frankly, those five brief paragraphs encapsulate exactly why I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

Oh, you only think that was Homer Simpson. In fact it was Marilyn Fryser (yes, that Joan Collins) in Empire of the Ants from 1977.

Hey! Don’t shoot! We’re peaceful! Honest to God, alright? — Dan Stokely

More about God and why he’s a bad idea tomorrow.

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

To Get the Most Out of Corn Season, Reach for Your Blender

At the beginning of corn season, chomping the kernels straight off the cob is really the only acceptable way to go.

Few summer joys come close to nibbling on those succulent kernels, slicked with lots of butter and just a sprinkle of salt, and feeling them pop in my mouth.

But eventually, inevitably, after several sacrosanct weeks of corn on the cob, I start to crave something a little different.

And that’s when I break out my blender.

Blending corn kernels not only gives you a sweet and smooth purée to use in soups, fritters and cornbread, but it also brings out the kernel’s starchier nature. And this can be a good thing, especially when it comes to making a sweet summery sauce for pasta.

~ Melissa Clark ~

Creamy Corn Pasta With Basil

There’s no cream in this wonderfully summery pasta dish, just a luscious sauce made from puréed fresh corn and sweet sautéed scallions, along with Parmesan for depth and red chile flakes for a contrasting bite.

Grilled Corn

You can grill corn with the husks on. You can strip the husks partly off, remove the silks and re-wrap the ears, then grill. You can soak the corn in cool water before grilling.

Pan-Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad

Summer Corn Soup

It does take a little time owing to the corn stock, but it’s so worth it. The taste of the finished soup is pure summer.

Tomato, Cucumber and Corn Salad

You can serve this refreshing mixture as a salad, as a topping for whole grains or as a salsa with grilled fish or chicken.

Health News


Betty Crocker cake mix recall

‘Serious health risks’ from algae prompt closure of Utah Lake

9 Out of 10 Strokes Could Be Prevented, Study Finds

First known case of female-to-male Zika transmission announced

Early Preschooler Bedtime, Healthier Weight Later?

Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea Cases Up Fourfold in U.S.

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