Doc Bee, Einstein, and Ashley Nicole Black

Oh and Full Frontal On I.C.E.!

D.W. Griffith

Back From The Future

Georgia On My Mind

Full Frontal On I.C.E.!

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

online propecia order Andrew Gawthorpe: How Republicans are turning US states into labs of anti-democracy

America’s federal system of government is, in theory, key to the strength of its democracy. As opposed to citizens in the more centralized states of Europe, Americans get to vote for a huge array of local offices, policies and ballot initiatives that can influence their lives for the better. Innovation in the states can be healthy for the whole country, such as when healthcare reform in Massachusetts provided inspiration for the Affordable Care Act. The supreme court justice Louis Brandeis famously praised US states as laboratories which could “try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country”.

But what happens when the keys to the laboratory end up in the wrong hands? Throughout history, the power invested in the states has allowed all sorts of anti-democratic abuses to flourish. The most famous example is the Jim Crow system, which denied African Americans their rights and stained the ideals of American democracy for decades. In extreme cases, such as Governor Huey Long’s Louisiana in the 1930s, near-dictatorships have been established by ambitious local politicians.

see John Kerry: Forget Trump. We All Must Act on Climate Change.

This week is the third anniversary of the Paris climate agreement. The Trump administration marked it by working with Russia and Gulf oil nations to sideline science and undermine the accord at climate talks underway in Katowice, Poland.

While I was in New Delhi this week, where I met with solar energy advocates, a comment made thousands of miles away by the journalist Bob Woodward almost jumped off my iPad: The president, he said, “makes decisions often without a factual basis.” This isn’t a mere personality quirk of the leader of the free world. It is profoundly dangerous for the entire planet.

Scientists tell us we must act now to avoid the ravages of climate change. The collision of facts and alternative facts has hurt America’s efforts to confront this existential crisis. Ever since Mr. Trump announced that he would pull America out of the Paris accord, those of us in the fight have worked to demonstrate that the American people are still in.

But the test is not whether the nation’s cities and states can make up for Mr. Trump’s rejection of reality. They can. The test is whether the nations of the world will pull out of the mutual suicide pact that we’ve all passively joined through an inadequate response to this crisis.

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emptywheel on Cohen

That would be “National Security Journalist” Marcy Wheeler to you.

Mueller Probe Could Lead to Indictment of the Trump Organization
Democracy Now
December 10, 2018

Federal prosecutors have accused President Trump of committing a federal crime by directing illegal hush money to two women during the presidential election. The accusation was revealed Friday in filings made public by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, including a damning sentencing memo for Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who has admitted to paying adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the campaign in order to prevent them from speaking to the media about their alleged affairs with Trump. The sentencing memo was made public along with two new sentencing memos from special counsel Robert Mueller: one for Cohen and another for Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort. “We keep talking about whether you can indict a sitting president,” says independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, editor of “There’s still a debate about that, but, really critically, you can indict a corporation. You can indict Trump Organization.”

And to think, I knew her when she was just a foul mouthed blogger.

It’s Not the Campaign Finance Violation or the Simple Private Transaction, It’s the Conspiracy to Commit Fraud
December 10, 2018

While it is true that Cohen pled guilty to campaign finance violations, that’s not what SDNY lays out in this memo. Rather, they lay out conspiracy to defraud the United States, which carries a five year prison sentence, on top of any campaign finance or money laundering prosecution to carry out that fraud. That’s the same charge that Trump appointee Dabney Friedrich just upheld for the Russian trolls that helped Trump win, the same charge that Rick Gates and Paul Manafort have pled guilty to, the same ConFraudUS that Mueller has built all his interlocking indictments around. And there, it’s not so much the intent or success of the attempt to thwart campaign finance oversight that matters, it’s the conspiracy to do it and the secrecy and sophisticated means by which you do it.

So Trump may want to claim this is a “simple private transaction,” just like all the other hush payments he has orchestrated with his buddy Pecker over the years.

But when you carry out such “simple private transactions” in the context of an election then it becomes conspiracy to commit fraud.

And to reiterate: it’s not just Trump himself that can be charged with ConFraudUS for this, it’s also The Company and whichever spawn served as The Executive seeking to hide the payback for Cohen’s hush payments.

Heck. Even the NYT is beginning to figure this out.

What it means is that both Trump (after he’s no longer President) and his company (as soon as SDNY gets around to charging it and its executives) are on the hook for cheating to get elected.


Talking Walking Trump

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

The Breakfast Club (Beauty)

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

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

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Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.

Franz Kafka

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I need a laugh (also news).

Criminal? Moi??

Happy Trails

Well, now that Ayers is out, why not?

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

get link Norm Eisen and Barry H. Berke: Trump’s ‘no smocking gun’ defense won’t protect him

We are accustomed to a high degree of falsity in President Donald Trump’s tweets, but Monday’s double decker about former attorney Michael Cohen was notably packed with whoppers even by his own standards. Contrary to Trump’s statements, Cohen may have landed the President and those around him in legal jeopardy not only for felony campaign finance violations but also for a number of other crimes.

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York on Friday detailed an elaborate criminal scheme in which Cohen made or facilitated payments to an adult film actress and a former Playboy model, both of whom claimed to have had affairs with Trump (allegations Trump denies). Cohen admitted he engaged in this scheme in coordination with and at the direction of Trump. Friday’s sentencing memorandum was the first filing produced by the President’s own Justice Department to implicate him directly in the commission of a felony.

influenza vaccine drug action of lasix Paul Waldman: The contradiction that will bedevil Trump for the next two years

The heated discussion in the Oval Office between President Trump, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer offered a window into the dilemma with which Trump will grapple every day for the next two years as his reelection campaign proceeds. It gets to the heart of who he is as a person and a politician, of how he sees himself and how he sees the world, two contradictory impulses he will struggle to resolve.

When it comes to anything reflecting on himself — his “very good brain,” his buildings, his performance as president, his ties and steaks and university, Trump always insists that they are so fantastic as to redefine all prior conceptions of fantasticness. But when he looks outward — and this is where Trump the politician comes in — he sees nothing but ugliness, threat, and despair.

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Cohen Gets 3 Years

Just about the National median, 6 Months less than the Probation Department recommended. Three additional years of Probation with Supervision (that means travel restrictions and periodic reports to a Probation Officer). Five Hundred Thousand Dollar Fine plus roughly $1.5 Million in Back Taxes and Penalties.

That works out to 1 Year per Count (Bank Fraud and Tax Evasion, 2 Counts of Campaign Fraud). Two Months on Lying to Congress (the Mueller charge) to be served concurrently.

All in all, in line with the Prosecutor’s sentencing recommendations considering that Mueller was very happy with his level of co-operation while the Southern District of New York was not at all as Cohen refused to talk about crimes other than the ones he was charged with.

Actually quite lenient considering that they didn’t bring all the charges that the could have.

Cohen will surrender on March 6th 2019.

Flynn has yet to be sentenced, Mueller has recommended no jail time in his case. There are people I know who think the Judge should depart upward from that on the basis that Flynn clearly knew what he was doing was illegal (he’s charged with 1 count of Lying to the FBI) and at least some jail time is appropriate.

That leaves Manafort. Given the actual betrayal of his co-operation agreement those same people expect him to be made an example of, with maximum sentences on all counts AND the hung charges reinstated with additional counts entered against him. He will die in jail.

Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison for crimes committed while working for Trump
By Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, Washington Post
December 12, 2018

A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to three years in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress, as the disgraced former “fixer” apologized for his conduct but also said he felt it was his duty to cover up the “dirty deeds” of his former boss.

Cohen made an emotional, teary apology to U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III, taking responsibility for crimes that included tax violations, lying to a bank, and buying the silence during the 2016 campaign of women who alleged affairs with the future president.

“My weakness could be characterized as a blind loyalty to Donald Trump,” Cohen told the packed courtroom, standing at a podium where he would at times become emotional and pause to regain his composure.

Pauley said Cohen’s sentence should reflect the competing interests of the Cohen case — punishing those who repeatedly break the law, and rewarding those who cooperate and provide truthful testimony.

“Our democratic institutions depend upon the honesty of our citizenry in dealing with the government,” Pauley said, calling his crimes serious, particularly given his profession.

“As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better. Tax evasion undercuts the government’s ability to provide essential services upon which we all depend,” the judge said. “While Mr. Cohen is taking steps to mitigate his criminal conduct by pleading guilty and volunteering useful information to prosecutors, that does not wipe the slate clean.

“Mr. Cohen selected the information he disclosed to the government. This court cannot agree with the defendant’s assertion that no jail time is warranted. In fact this court firmly believes that a significant term of imprisonment is fully justified in this highly publicized case to send a message,” the judge said.

Cohen’s lawyers have said he was in “close and regular contact with White House-based staff and legal counsel” when he prepared his false testimony to Congress about a possible Trump Tower project in Moscow and that he acted at Trump’s direction in paying off the women.

Jeannie Rhee, part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s prosecution team, told the judge that Cohen “has endeavored to account for his criminal conduct in numerous ways,” providing “credible and reliable information about core Russia-related issues under investigation.”

Rhee said she could not go into detail about the ongoing Russia investigation, but said Cohen was “helpful” to the probe. Cohen, she said, was “careful to note what he knows and what he doesn’t know . . . Mr. Cohen has sought to tell us the truth, and that is of utmost value to us.”

Nicolas Roos, a federal prosecutor in New York, was far more critical of Cohen, saying he “quite brazenly stole millions of dollars in income from the IRS.”

Roos urged the judge to give Cohen a significant amount of time in prison, as punishment for having “eroded faith in the electoral process and the rule of law.”

The prosecutor urged the judge to send a message with his sentence of Cohen, that “even powerful and privileged individuals cannot violate these laws with impunity.”

Michael Cohen Sentenced to 3 Years After Implicating Trump in Hush-Money Scandal
By Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum, The New York Times
Dec. 12, 2018

Michael D. Cohen, the former lawyer for President Trump, was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday morning for his role in a hush-money scandal that could threaten Mr. Trump’s presidency by implicating him in a scheme to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with him.

The sentencing in federal court in Manhattan capped a startling fall for Mr. Cohen, 52, who had once hoped to work by Mr. Trump’s side in the White House but ended up a central figure in the inquiry into payments to a porn star and a former Playboy model before the 2016 election.

Judge William H. Pauley III said Mr. Cohen had committed a “smorgasbord” of crimes involving “deception” and motivated by “personal greed and ambition.”

“As a lawyer, Mr. Cohen should have known better,” the judge said.

Before being sentenced, Mr. Cohen grew emotional as he spoke of taking responsibility for his acts. He said that his “weakness was a blind loyalty to Donald Trump” and that he had been “living in a personal and mental incarceration” since the day he started working for Mr. Trump.

“Today is the day I am getting my freedom back,” he said.

Mr. Cohen then apologized to the public: “You deserve to know the truth and lying to you was unjust.”

Federal agents raided Mr. Cohen’s office and home in April, and he later turned on Mr. Trump, making the remarkable admission in court that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange the payments.

Mr. Trump at first denied knowing anything about the payments, but then acknowledged that he had known about them. This week, he insisted that the payments were “a simple private transaction” — not election-related spending subject to campaign-finance laws.

He also maintained that even if the hush-money payments were campaign transactions in violation of election regulations, that should be considered only a civil offense, not a criminal one.

Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison

A contrite Michael Cohen on Wednesday received three years in prison for a series of tax fraud and lying charges, sending another former Donald Trump associate to jail.

Cohen’s sentence is not as large as the four-plus years that federal prosecutors in New York wanted, but it nonetheless stands out as the biggest punishment to date tied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In the courtroom Wednesday, Cohen was visibly emotional. At various points he broke down, his voice cracking while he read a prepared statement he had printed out.

“Today is the day that I am getting my freedom back,” Cohen told U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley, a Bill Clinton appointee who minutes later handed down the prison sentence. “I have been living in a personal and mental incarceration ever since the day that I accepted the offer to work for a real estate mogul whose business acumen that I deeply admired.”

In addition to the prison time, Cohen will have to forfeit $500,000 in assets and pay $1.393 million in restitution.

Cohen, who has had a relationship with Trump dating back a dozen years, used his time before the court to hit back at the president’s recent declaration that his former attorney was “weak.” Cohen said he agreed with Trump’s assessment but noted his “weakness was a blind loyalty to Donald Trump.”

“Time and time again I felt it as my duty to cover up his dirty deeds,” Cohen said, standing before his whole family in the courtroom. Both his mother and father cried at points during the hearing.

Cohen earlier this summer pleaded guilty to a slate of eight charges of tax evasion, financial fraud and campaign finance violations. Trump himself was implicated in the campaign finance crimes, with prosecutors saying he directed Trump in hush money payments designed to sway the 2016 presidential election. Cohen also later pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about work he did during the election on an aborted Trump Tower project in Russia.

The judge on Wednesday slapped Cohen with a $50,000 fine for lying to Congress, explaining that the penalty was meant “to recognize the gravity of the harm of lying to Congress in matters of national importance.” Two months of his three-year sentence are also tied to the the lying to Congress charge.

Although Cohen’s sentence is the largest handed down to date for anyone targeted in Mueller’s probe, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is expected to receive far more time in prison. The longtime GOP lobbyist will learn his fate early next year from a pair of federal judges and is likely spending decades in prison following his conviction earlier this summer on bank and tax fraud charges in Virginia and a separate guilty plea in Washington.


Are You Ready For Some Football?

The Breakfast Club (Mad World)

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

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Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Without the persistence of voters in America getting up to every election, democracy will not flourish. David Hogg

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Kaepernick! Kaepernick!

Now let us mourn the fortunes of the Washington First Nationals.

Like that? I think it’s catchy.

Redskins routed by Giants, 40-16, as many fans leave at halftime of embarrassing loss
By Les Carpenter, Washington Post
December 9, 2018

At halftime of the worst game in a crumbling Washington Redskins season, a crowd formed around FedEx Field’s west gate Sunday afternoon.

Their fans wanted to get out.

Who could blame them? By then the deficit was 34 points in what would become a 40-16 defeat to the New York Giants — a team Washington had beaten on the road just weeks earlier. But that was before quarterback Alex Smith’s leg was broken on Nov. 18, before backup quarterback Colt McCoy’s leg was broken last Monday night and before emergency backup Mark Sanchez started Sunday and fell on his face as well as his back and even his side as the Giants’ defense swarmed through a broken Redskins offensive line.

Gruden said Johnson will start next week’s desperation game at Jacksonville. But given that Johnson is the team’s fourth quarterback in six weeks and prepared for his latest chance at the NFL by playing in a charity basketball tournament last weekend (later complaining of sore legs), it’s hard to know what hope remains.

So, who you going to put in Coach?

Certainly not Colin Kaepernick who’s a bad influence in the Clubhouse and doesn’t have the “skills” to be an NFL starter anyway.

Because he’s Black?

NFL fail: Why won’t the Washington Redskins hire Colin Kaepernick?
by D. Watkins, Salon
December 10, 2018

He (Kaepernick) finished the 2016 season with an 88.9 quarterback ranking, making him number 18 in the league, which means he’s better than plenty of the active quarterbacks. And yet he still doesn’t have a job, for no other reason than he cares about poor black people.

The Washington Redskins, a team that bears an offensive name and logo, has the opportunity to put a dent in their racist history by employing arguably the most progressive quarterback in NFL history. Signing Kap won’t heal the wounds caused by the team’s branded identity; however, it could be a positive step in the real direction of addressing those age-old issues.

Over the last four weeks, Washington quarterbacks have been shattering like cheap wine glasses. Alex Smith broke his tibia and fibula, and then backup Colt McCoy fractured his fibula, leaving Mark Sanchez with the starting position. Sanchez didn’t get broken up, but he did flop, leaving the starting job in the hands of Josh Johnson, a guy who hasn’t thrown a ball in a pro game since 2011. One of the big knocks on Kaepernick is his age, but both Sanchez and Johnson are older. Kaepernick has had a far better career overall, and unlike those guys he has lead a team to the Super Bowl. Washington suffered a 24-point lost to the Giants yesterday under Johnson, so what do they have to lose, other than the tight grip of their racist legacy?

Kap did the all of the right things and is still being snubbed by the NFL at large, and Washington specifically — a team that just happens to be establishing itself as a very forgiving team, for signing Reuben Foster.

The former San Francisco linebacker, currently being investigated for domestic violence against his estranged girlfriend Elissa Ennis, will now be receiving paychecks from Washington’s NFL team.

“When he got signed, I was like, I can’t believe somebody picked him up,” Ennis said on “Good Morning America.” “I just couldn’t believe somebody picked him up in less than how many hours? I was shocked.”

According to Ennis, Foster abused her three times. It seems that doesn’t matter to a team like Washington, whose leadership is working overtime to prove that they don’t care about allegations of domestic abuse — and that they don’t believe in social justice, either, by passing over the best man for the quarterback job, regardless of the losses they’re racking up, because he believes in a better America for everyone.

I’m going to continue not to be surprised by the obvious racism and sexism the NFL perpetuates by freezing out a man who is working to save black lives, while continuing to employ a guy who allegedly hurt a black woman.

The longer Kaepernick goes unsigned, the more the NFL, all of it, is exposed as the Racists they are.

Kaepernick should win his civil case easily and it is beyond time to remove any anti-Trust protections the League enjoys.

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

alcohol use on accutane Paul Krugman: The G.O.P. Goes Full Authoritarian

Donald Trump, it turns out, may have been the best thing that could have happened to American democracy.

No, I haven’t lost my mind. Individual-1 is clearly a wannabe dictator who has contempt for the rule of law, not to mention being corrupt and probably in the pocket of foreign powers. But he’s also lazy, undisciplined, self-absorbed and inept. And since the threat to democracy is much broader and deeper than one man, we’re actually fortunate that the forces menacing America have such a ludicrous person as their public face.

Yet those forces may prevail all the same.

If you want to understand what’s happening to our country, the book you really need to read is “How Democracies Die,” by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. As the authors — professors of government at Harvard — point out, in recent decades a number of nominally democratic nations have become de facto authoritarian, one-party states. Yet none of them have had classic military coups, with tanks in the street.

What we’ve seen instead are coups of a subtler form: takeovers or intimidation of the news media, rigged elections that disenfranchise opposing voters, new rules of the game that give the ruling party overwhelming control even if it loses the popular vote, corrupted courts.

Eugene Robinson: What has the president been ‘smocking’?

President Trump was up early Monday morning, tweeting falsely that investigators have found “No Smocking Gun” that proves he did anything wrong. He meant “smoking,” of course. His vision must be clouded by the haze.

In a sentencing memorandum for the president’s one-time personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, federal prosecutors in Manhattan wrote on Friday that Cohen violated campaign finance laws “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump. In layman’s terms, the president’s own Justice Department has accused him of instructing his lawyer to commit two felonies.

These crimes, to which Cohen confesses, involve six-figure payments of hush money to both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels — women whose silence about alleged sexual encounters with Trump was expensively purchased during the weeks before the 2016 election.

On Twitter, the president called all of this “a simple private transaction.” I am tempted to ask what he’s been “smocking.”

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