Blow Out

“Aeeey.” “Try Deeee Mr. Barbarino.”

Filibustering

Survivor: Segregated Island

Boom

Kaboom

Mr. Kotter! Mr.Kotter!

All About The Ratings

Incorde hominum est anima legis

Cartnoon

Movies

Minority Report

Eternal Sunshine of the Trumpless Mind

Cruel Intentions

The American President

The Breakfast Club (Never Give Up)

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

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

Richard P. Feynman (May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988)

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Rudy needs a new job.

Well, not quite as expected. Giuliani gets fired by his current law firm, Greenberg Traurig, before Trump has a chance to do it.

Giuliani’s Law Firm Undercuts His Statements as They Part Ways
By Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, The New York Times
May 10, 2018

President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, abruptly resigned from his law firm, Greenberg Traurig, the firm announced on Thursday, then promptly undercut his recent statements defending the president.

Mr. Giuliani had taken a leave of absence last month from the firm, one of the nation’s largest, to represent Mr. Trump. But the firm said in a statement that he no longer worked there.

Firm partners had chafed over Mr. Giuliani’s public comments about payments that another of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Michael D. Cohen, made to secure the silence of a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied her allegations.

Mr. Giuliani suggested that such payments were common at his firm, even without the knowledge of the clients. “That was money that was paid by his lawyer, the way I would do, out of his law firm funds,” he said on Fox News. He added, “Michael would take care of things like this like I take care of this with my clients.”

The New York Times asked Greenberg Traurig about those remarks early this week. Shortly after Mr. Giuliani’s resignation was announced, the firm responded.

“We cannot speak for Mr. Giuliani with respect to what was intended by his remarks,” said a spokeswoman, Jill Perry. “Speaking for ourselves, we would not condone payments of the nature alleged to have been made or otherwise without the knowledge and direction of a client.”

Mr. Trump has publicly denied knowing about the payments as they were made. Mr. Giuliani said the president reimbursed Mr. Cohen for them, an arrangement he said was routine. Mr. Giuliani had to walk back many of his comments.

Mr. Giuliani laughed when read the statement from the firm. “First of all, I don’t think they really understand what I said,” he said. He said he was referring to a non-disclosure agreement that Mr. Cohen had negotiated. “That’s a very common part of a settlement,” he said. “In fact, any lawyer would negotiated that for a client.”

“You’ve gotta realize the firm is 2,000 lawyers,” he added, “some of them big supporters of the president, some of them enemies of the president.”

In the statement, Greenberg Traurig said that Mr. Giuliani had resigned effective Wednesday. “After recognizing that this work is all consuming and is lasting longer than initially anticipated, Rudy has determined it is best for him to resign,” said the firm’s chairman, Richard A. Rosenbaum.

Mr. Giuliani said in the statement that it “is in everyone’s best interest that I make it a permanent resignation” so he can focus on the special counsel’s investigation.

Giuliani’s law firm throws him under the bus, says his Stormy Daniels story makes no sense
by Aaron Rupar, Think Progress
May 10, 2018

“Michael would take care of things like this, like I take care of things like this for my clients,” Giuliani told Sean Hannity last Wednesday, referring to the $130,000 hush payment Cohen made to Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf. “I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people.”

Despite what Giuliani would have you believe, lawyers do not in fact regularly make hush payments on behalf of their clients without their knowledge. And in a statement released Thursday, Giuliani’s law firm sought to make that clear.

Greenberg Traurig’s public rebuke of Giuliani came shortly after the firm abruptly announced his permanent resignation. The firm claims Giuliani decided to resign because his work for Trump “is all consuming and is lasting longer than initially anticipated.” But Giuliani’s hiring as Trump’s lawyer was announced on April 19 — a mere three weeks ago — and Perry’s statement suggests Greenberg Traurig higher-ups aren’t happy with how Giuliani’s comments reflect on how they practice law.

Giuliani’s Hannity interview also created problems for Trump. Though the president said in April that he knew nothing about the Daniels payment, Giuliani claimed Trump actually reimbursed Cohen for it in increments throughout 2017. Asked to clarify the discrepancy last Friday morning, Trump instead threw Giuliani under the bus, pointing out that he “started yesterday” and “will get his facts straight.”

“Virtually everything that’s been said has been said incorrectly,” the president added.

Fast forward a week, and team Trump still hasn’t clarified the timeline about what Trump knew and when. The president says his lawyer’s story about the Daniels payment was incorrect, but he hasn’t bothered to offer an alternative explanation.

Faulkner

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

Black Cube

A Visit Upstate

The Moos and The Head-Butts
A Tail told by, like, a really smart person with a very good brain, a stable genius.

The cool mist settled in the hollows of the night as the idiot stood by the fence contemplating (as well as his child-like mind could) the bovine somnolence that stood before him, serenely dreaming lactative 4 stomach dreams of endless fields of daisies, yes daisies for that was her name- Daisy, bright as the summer sun, long slow munching of grass and partially digested grass, methane producing, global warming Daisy. She smelled of the earth and as he approached her side, careful not to disturb her gentle ‘earth gifts’, he could feel the heat of her fermentive power, the transformation of cool clay, the wetness of spring floods, and the greenness, the awesome greenness of the whole valley.

Gently he pushed her and she collapsed, even now unconscious, the pastures of her youth playing in her mind as the idiot re-crossed the boundary between what was her and her kind’s alone, back to the mundane reality that waited for him, back to his own kind and their cruel taunts.

As the sun rose the mist fled. Daisy, startled, rose to her feet and resumed her life as if nothing had happened. The idiot, wracked by guilt, finished his undergraduate degree in English Literature, not only never forgetting his youthful indiscretions but in fact REVELING in them as he said to me-

“Do you want fries with that?”

Cartnoon

Why You’re Wrong

Losing My Religion

Centrism

Life In Hell

The Breakfast Club (The Other Side)

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

A golden spike completes America’s first transcontinental railroad; Nazis burn books in Germany; Rudolf Hess parachutes into Scotland; Nelson Mandela takes office in S. Africa; U2’s frontman Bono born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater.

Bono

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Exceptional

A definition

American exceptionalism is an ideology holding the United States as unique among nations in positive or negative connotations, with respect to its ideas of democracy and personal freedom.

By that definition the United States (America is two continents) can be exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.

Here’s an example from the same Wikipedia article on a way some people think we can be exceptionally good.

Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh has identified what he says is “the most important respect in which the United States has been genuinely exceptional, about international affairs, international law, and promotion of human rights: namely, in its outstanding global leadership and activism.” He argues:

To this day, the United States remains the only superpower capable, and at times willing, to commit real resources and make real sacrifices to build, sustain, and drive an international system committed to international law, democracy, and the promotion of human rights. Experience teaches that when the United States leads on human rights, from Nuremberg to Kosovo, other countries follow.

And here’s an example from Charlie Pierce on how we are today.

The United States Is a Country That Tortures People
By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire Magazine
May 9, 2018

The children of the Senate Intelligence Committee certainly were treated to some ripping yarns on Wednesday, when Gina Haspel came to tell them the scary bedtime stories that qualify her to run the CIA. We had shadow warriors, and far-flung outposts, brush passes, dead drops, and dusty alleys, and dark moonless nights. If the hearing had gone on 10 minutes longer, John le Carré’s attorneys might have dropped in with an intellectual property action. Then, of course, they all went into executive session, where they could all talk about the really cool, really super-secret spy stuff that the rest of us can’t know about, but are obligated to pay for. And, ultimately, there was one basic message to come out of this hearing to the world.

The United States is a country that tortures people. It is also a country that arranges for other countries to torture people. We did in back in the Bush administration and we’ll do it again, if you scare us deeply enough and there are enough hack lawyers in the Department of Justice and the White House Counsel’s office to draft memos to cover our asses. The United States is a country that tortures people, and we’ll do it again, under the right circumstances. We’d just rather it not make the papers, is all.

Haspel, it is said by the very serious people who think serious thoughts on television, did very well. She pledged that the CIA would never “go back” to torturing people again, a worthless promise under any president, but particularly under this one. Who is going to stop them next time? The same people who failed to stop them the last time? It is to laugh. The statement was also stunningly beside the point. The question was about torture that we’ve already inflicted, and that she was intimately involved in.

She made sure we all knew the Khalid Sheikh Muhammad was a very bad man who killed “a Wall Street Journal reporter who was an American.” (Curiously, she never mentioned Daniel Pearl’s name.) KSM came up every time the questions about torture came too close to being about actual torture, the subtext being, of course, that there are people who deserve to be tortured, even though we don’t torture anyone anymore, and we never will, and we can depend on Gina Haspel and Donald Trump for that. I’m convinced.

The problem with torture is not that it is inefficient, though it is. The problem with torture is that it is a violation of moral and ethical codes to which this country abided literally since its founding. (George Washington didn’t forbid the torture of British captives because torture “doesn’t work.’ He did so because it was wrong.) This simple formulation got lost in all the spy novel underbrush, and Haspel’s endless repetition of how it was bad, and we’ll never do it again, but, while we’re on the subject, let me tell you how bad the people we tortured really were, and how many lives we saved by waterboarding someone over 100 times.

That was the basic pitch and yaw of the whole morning. Her presentation was logically absurd and morally preposterous, but people listened and nodded along as though what she was saying made perfect sense. But it didn’t, as this exchange with Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, made clear.

REED: If one of your operatives was captured, and subjected to waterboarding, would you consider that to be moral since, perhaps, the other entity did not have legal restrictions, and good tradecraft, as you appeared to do when you were involved in it previously?

HASPEL: Senator, I don’t believe the terrorists follow any guidelines or civilized norms, or the law. CIA follows the law.

REED: You seem to be saying you were not following civilized norms and the law and anything else when you were conducting those self-same activities, if that’s the analogy you’re going to draw.

HASPEL: Senator, I’m sorry, can you repeat that?

REED: Very simple. You have an operations officer who’s being waterboarded. I’ve asked you very simply, would you consider that to be immoral, and something that should never be done, condoned, in any way, shape or form? Your response seems to be that civilized nations don’t do it, but that uncivilized nations, or uncivilized groups, do it.

REED: This civilized nation was doing it until it was outlawed by this Congress.

HASPEL: Senator, I would never obviously support inhumane treatment of any CIA officers. We’ve lost CIA officers overseas to terrorists. I just gave an example. Khalid Sheikh Muhammad personally killed a Wall Street Journal correspondent and filmed that. I don’t think there’s any comparison between CIA officers serving their country, adhering to US law, and terrorists who, by their very definition, are not following anybody’s law.

A few things.

First of all, we filmed our torture, too, but those videos were destroyed. Gina Haspel supervised the destruction of some of them and, if you think her answer to Reed was lame, you should go back and see the tap-dance she does on that issue.

Second, she only answered half of Reed’s question before ducking behind Daniel Pearl’s corpse to hide from the rest of it.

Third, by her very answer, she is saying that, if the United States tortures people, it is somehow a morally superior act to random butchery, because we have compliant lawyers drawing government salaries far from the black sites of Poland and Thailand. What distinguishes us morally from butchers in the desert is that our government used to employ John Yoo. Glorious.

So the question is- exceptionally good or exceptionally bad?

Feel free to note that Harold Hongju Koh was Legal Adviser of the Department of State in the Administration of Barack Obama who, along with Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, are Accessories After The Fact for Torture because they conspired to cover up this War Crime.

Bonus points for including that the torture regime implemented by Gina Haspel, Station Chief at a CIA Black Site in Thailand, included involuntary Rectal Hydration and Feeding- in other words, Anal Rape.

2018 Election Results: Gerrymandering Takes a Hit in Ohio

As we reported in Tuesday night primary election coverage, Ohio voters were deciding a ballot measure, Issue 1, that would overhaul Ohio’s congressional redistricting process.

The proposed amendment to the state constitution would require districts to be compact, limit the number of counties split between districts and give the minority party more leverage in passing a new map. Issue 1 has garnered support from both Democrats and Republicans, so it hasn’t generated much campaign activity. But some reformers have complained that it doesn’t go far enough. For example, if a redistricting plan fails to pass with minority-party support, then the majority party can still unilaterally pass its own map (although it would expire after four years rather than the usual 10). Polls suggest the measure will pass easily.

That initiative easily passed garnering 75% of the vote. Unfortunately, the new map will not go into effect until after the 2020 General Election.

1. To start off, the Ohio legislature would be tasked with drawing a new map. But they could no longer pass it with a simple majority vote. They’d need three-fifths support and the support of at least half the members of both major parties, in each chamber, as well as the governor’s signature.

2. If there’s no deal, the congressional map-drawing would be punted over to the seven-member Ohio commission that exists to handle the state legislature’s redistricting. Here, again, bipartisanship would be necessary — at least two minority-party members would have to agree to approve a new map.

3. If the commission fails, the job would be tossed back to the Ohio legislature. In that case, the threshold for success would fall, but bipartisanship would still be necessary to pass a map — at least one-third of each party’s members would have to vote for it, to pass it and send it for the governor’s signature.

4. Finally, if all these efforts fail, the legislature would be permitted to pass a map with simple majority support. But the catch is that this new map would only last four years, rather than the usual 10. And again, the governor’s signature would be required.

Issue 1 has other reforms too. It restricts how often counties and other local governmental units in the state can be split up in the new map, and declares that any plan must not “unduly” favor or disfavor a political party or its incumbents.

It is far from perfect and has some major flaws as the article in Vox.com points out

The new redistricting process looks elaborate and could well result in a bipartisan deal. But the key stage in the plan is really No. 4 above. It ensures that if the majority party really wants to, it can still pass a new map with no votes from the minority — meaning the leverage in the overall negotiations will, in the end, remain with them. “The majority’s probably going to get most of the map that they like,” (Republican state Sen. Matt) Huffman says.

However, the deal does force any map without significant bipartisan support to expire after just four years rather than lasting for 10. Reformers also say the new rules about not splitting counties, and not “unduly” favoring any party or incumbents, could let them bring legal challenges to maps they find egregious. (Huffman is more skeptical of this, asking, “The question, of course, is, what does ‘unduly’ mean?”)

Democratic supporters of reform generally view the outcome as a win. “I think it is an example of what can happen in a good faith effort to come up with a process that is fair and just for both sides,” says Kelly Ward of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “Republicans in the legislature realized that voters were paying attention.”

But while opposition to the measure hasn’t been particularly prominent, the arguments against it that do exist mostly come from the left.

Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos Elections wrote a biting critique of the deal, calling it “fatally flawed” because it “essentially still leaves one party in charge of the redistricting process.” Wolf believes the redistricting process should be taken away from the state legislature and state parties entirely and handed over to an independent commission — and he thinks the passage of this deal will make that less likely to happen.

“Republican legislators shrewdly accepted that momentum was building against partisan gerrymandering,” he writes. “This compromise is quite simply a way to blunt that momentum while preserving as much of their advantage as possible under a false veneer of bipartisanship.”

The ACLU of Ohio has also said it “neither supports nor opposes” the measure because it doesn’t go far enough. “While there are some benefits to Issue 1, it still allows for partisan gerrymandering,” the group’s policy director, Mike Brickner, has said. Attorney Paul DeMarco has also written an op-ed calling on reformers to hold out for a better ballot initiative in 2020.

While Issue 1 is certainly far from perfect, 75% of Ohioans think it’s worth a try.

The Russian Connection: Where Did $4 Million Go?

Tuesday evening, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti dropped a bombshell revealing that Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen received $500,000 from Russia oligarch Viktor Vekselberg after the 2016 presidential election. The story was corroborated by The New York Times and The Washington Post

Today it was reported that there were also payments from AT&T, who is trying to merge with Time Warner, and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis that brought the total number of payments to $4.4.

In all, according to the materials released by Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, roughly $4.4 million flowed through Cohen’s LLC’s bank account over the course of about a year.

Why anyone, least of all corporate giants like AT&T and Novartis, would see value in putting money into Cohen’s little shell company – the vehicle for porn-star hush money – is a question that probably deserves an answer. Maybe it had something to do with trying to influence Cohen’s client in the Oval Office.

Finally, there’s the question of the timeline. The Washington Post reported overnight that when Cohen withdrew $1 million from his shell company for reasons unknown, Essential Consultants LLC “hadn’t yet received the $750,000 paid by AT&T, Novartis and Korea Aerospace.”

In her opening segment Tuesday, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on a set of payments to Cohen that were exposed in an online posting by Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti, from corporations like AT&T, Russian oligarch-connected firms, and some as yet unexplained sources.

Besides paying off Trump’s extra-marital partners, Cohen was also promising access to Trump.

A new report from Stat News reveals that longtime Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen promised pharmaceutical giant Novartis direct access to President Donald Trump in exchange for cash.

According to a source within the company, Cohen approached them last year and let them know he could set up meetings between the company and Trump administration officials, including the president himself.

“He reached out to us,” the source claimed. “With a new administration coming in, basically, all the traditional contacts disappeared and they were all new players. We were trying to find an inroad into the administration. Cohen promised access to not just Trump, but also the circle around him. It was almost as if we were hiring him as a lobbyist.”

Of course, Cohen is not a registered lobbyist, which could put the company’s payment to him in murky legal territory.

Of course Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team was already questioning the Novartis payments.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team sought information last November from Novartis, a major pharmaceutical company that paid a company created by President Trump’s lawyer, the drug company said Wednesday.

The interest by Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, indicates that the special counsel is scrutinizing clients that paid Michael Cohen while he served as Trump’s personal attorney.

The leak of Cohen’s banking records is also being investigated by the Treasury Department’s Inspector General.

Rich Delmar, counsel to the inspector general, said that in response to media reports the office is “inquiring into allegations” that Suspicious Activity Reports on Cohen’s banking transactions were “improperly disseminated.” [..]

Experts say the information Avenatti published could have come from a SAR filed by Cohen’s bank to Treasury.

“This has the appearance of a leak,” said Daniel P. Stipano, former deputy chief counsel in the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. “It shouldn’t happen, but things leak.”

It is not uncommon for journalists, lawyers and others in the public eye to receive unauthorized leaks of sensitive information, and there is nothing improper in receiving such information. Stipano said hundreds, if not thousands, of officials in law enforcement and government have access to a database of SARs.

According to reports from The Daily Beast via the Wall Street Journal, it was First Republic Bank who reported the suspicious activity on the account.

The bank used by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 flagged the transaction as suspicious and alerted the Treasury Department, a source told the Wall Street Journal. Daniels received the wire transfer from First Republic Bank in October 2016, 12 days before the presidential election. It is not clear when First Republic Bank flagged the transaction and reported it to the Treasury Department. Cohen reportedly missed two deadlines to pay Daniels because he couldn’t get in touch with Trump in the lead up to the election. Cohen paid the $130,000 out of his own pocket as part of an agreement that bars Daniels from talking about her alleged 2006 affair with then-candidate Trump. He reportedly complained to friends when he was not immediately reimbursed after the election.

When reached for comment, Cohen, naturally called in “fake news.” Yeah, right. Indictments are coming.

Cartnoon

The Illusion Of Free Thought

The Breakfast Club (Credibility)

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

The FDA approves the first birth control pill; FCC chief Newton Minow condemns TV programming; Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett fly over the North Pole; Journalist Mike Wallace and singer Billy Joel born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

If there’s anything that’s important to a reporter, it is integrity. It is credibility.

Mike Wallace (May 9, 1918 – April 7, 2012)

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