The Breakfast Club (Twilight)

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

John Brown raids Harper’s Ferry; France’s Marie Antoinette beheaded; John Paul II chosen as pope; Chile’s ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet detained; ‘Baby Jessica’ rescued; Novelist James Michener dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such a twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of darkness.

William O. Douglas

Continue reading

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

Paul Krugman: God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator

Bigotry, both racial and religious, is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Listening to the speech William Barr, the attorney general, gave last week at the University of Notre Dame Law School, I found myself thinking of the title of an old movie: “God Is My Co-Pilot.” What I realized is that Donald Trump’s minions have now gone that title one better: If Barr’s speech is any indication, their strategy is to make God their boss’s co-conspirator.

Given where we are right now, you might have expected Barr to respond in some way to the events of the past few weeks — the revelation that the president has been calling on foreign regimes to produce dirt on his domestic opponents, the airport arrest of associates of the president’s lawyer as they tried to leave the country on one-way tickets, credible reports that Rudy Giuliani himself is under criminal investigation. [..]

Consider for a moment how inappropriate it is for Barr, of all people, to have given such a speech. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion; the nation’s chief law enforcement officer has no business denouncing those who exercise that freedom by choosing not to endorse any religion.

Michelle Goldberg: Ukraine Has Become a Vibrant Democracy. No Wonder Trump Hates It.

As America joins the axis of autocrats, Ukrainians fear being left alone to face Russia.

When the Ukrainian autocrat Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia after a popular uprising in 2014, thousands of citizens poured into Mezhyhirya, his 340-acre estate on the outskirts of Kiev. [..]

Astonishingly, there was little looting. Instead, Mezhyhirya was preserved as a sort of memorial to the corruption Ukrainians have endured. Its grounds are a park where families stroll; on a visit there last week, I saw a newly married couple posing for pictures. For about $20, a veteran of the revolution will take visitors on a tour of the main house, carefully pointing out every luxurious detail financed with public money.

Mezhyhirya is a reminder of how far the country has come in the five and a half years since what Ukrainians call the Revolution of Dignity. Certainly, Ukraine has manifold problems, but today it’s a remarkably vibrant, multiethnic democracy in a region full of aggressive nationalism and authoritarian backsliding. That makes it all the more contemptible that Donald Trump has leveraged American support for Ukraine to try to make its new president open investigations that would help Trump politically. Ukraine is a country struggling to transcend its history of corruption, and Trump has tried to make it behave more corruptly.

Charles M. Blow Trumpism’s Infinite Vulgarities

Republicans have come to accept what they once professed to abhor.

The terrains of acceptability and respectability have shifted under the American conservative.

That which was once forbidden is now embraced. That which they once condemned they cheer. Conservatism has been unveiled in all its craven glory. No longer is it shrouded behind morality, small government, traditional values and spending concerns.

President Trump is the new doctrine, and Republicans bought it. There is no amount of cruelty or crudeness he can display that Republicans won’t cheer and defend. His corruption has become theirs.

And, it is possible that Trump is growing bolder in his coarseness, and it is revealed that there is precious little that will shake loose his base and its blind devotion to him.

Eugene Robinson: What can a black person do to keep from getting killed by police in this country?

This is a serious question: What can a black person do to keep from getting killed by police in this country?

Driving-while-black has long been potentially a capital offense, as witnessed by the case of Philando Castile, who was shot to death. Driving-while-black got Walter Scott Tasered, but it was running-away-while-black that got him fatally shot in the back. Walking-while-black is what attracted attention to Michael Brown, who was also shot to death. Standing-while-black was enough to get Eric Garner choked to death.

Now it appears that staying-home-while-black is also such a threatening activity that might kill you for it.

That is what happened last year to Botham Jean, who was sitting in his Dallas apartment when off-duty officer Amber Guyger burst in and killed him. And it’s what apparently happened Saturday to Atatiana Jefferson, who was playing video games with her nephew in her Fort Worth home when a officer fired through a window and shot her dead.

Catherine Rampell: Is this Barr’s cry for help?

On Friday, in a closed-door speech at the University of Notre Dame, Attorney General William P. Barr talked at length about a “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order.”

The alleged perpetrator of this campaign?

“Militant secularists,” who insist upon keeping government institutions free from the influence of any faith or creed.

To be clear: This was not merely an affirmation — delivered by a devout Catholic, while visiting a Catholic university — of how privately taught religious values can contribute to character development or stronger communities.

No. This appeared to be a tacit endorsement of theocracy.[..]

There are two ways to read these remarks, which were one of three speeches by administration officials in recent days on Christianity’s role in U.S. governance.

One reaction: They’re terrifying. This man who swore to uphold the Constitution has apparently forgotten its prohibition on state establishment of religion. Our nation’s chief law enforcement officer — the person ultimately responsible for ensuring equal treatment under the law — appears to be demonizing anyone who does not share his religious and political values.

But there’s also another, more encouraging way to interpret Barr’s comments: Maybe it was all just one giant, coded subtweet of the boss.

Jonathan Chiat being not entirely useless.

I know. I’m just as shocked as you are.

Basically he summarizes 7 Articles and 82 Counts of Impeachable conduct by Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio-

I. Abusing Power for Political Gain

Explanation: The single most dangerous threat to any democratic system is that the ruling party will use its governing powers to entrench itself illegitimately.

II. Mishandling Classified Information

Explanation: As he does with many other laws, the president enjoys broad immunity from regulations on the proper handling of classified information, allowing him to take action that would result in felony convictions for other federal employees. President Trump’s mishandling of classified information is not merely careless but a danger to national security.

III. Undermining Duly Enacted Federal Law

Explanation: President Trump has abused his authority either by distorting the intent of laws passed by Congress or by flouting them. He has directly ordered subordinates to violate the law and has promised pardons in advance, enabling him and his staff to operate with impunity. In these actions, he has undermined Congress’s constitutional authority to make laws.

IV. Obstruction of Congress

Explanation: The executive branch and Congress are co-equal, each intended to guard against usurpation of authority by the other. Trump has refused to acknowledge any legitimate oversight function of Congress, insisting that because Congress has political motivations, it is disqualified from it. His actions and rationale strike at the Constitution’s design of using the political ambitions of the elected branches to check one another.

V. Obstruction of Justice

Explanation: By virtue of his control over the federal government’s investigative apparatus, the president (along with the attorney general) is uniquely well positioned to cover up his own misconduct. Impeachment is the sole available remedy for a president who uses his powers of office to hold himself immune from legal accountability. In particular, the pardon power gives the president almost unlimited authority to obstruct investigations by providing him with a means to induce the silence of co-conspirators.

VI. Profiting From Office

Explanation: Federal employees must follow strict rules to prevent them from being influenced by any financial conflict. Conflict-of-interest rules are less clear for a sitting president because all presidential misconduct will be resolved by either reelection or impeachment. If Trump held any position in the federal government below the presidency, he would have been fired for his obvious conflicts. His violations are so gross and blatant they merit impeachment.

VII. Fomenting Violence

Explanation: One of the unspoken roles of the president is to serve as a symbolic head of state. Presidents have very wide latitude for their political rhetoric, but Trump has violated its bounds, exceeding in his viciousness the rhetoric of Andrew Johnson (who was impeached in part for the same offense).

Feel Free to add your own!

Cartnoon

“I cast my vote for… Elizabeth Swan.”

Prepare every vessel that floats. At dawn, we’re at war.

Hey, Pirate King.

The Breakfast Club (Selfishness)

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

Convicted Nazi war criminal Herman Goering commits suicide behind bars; World War I spy Mata Hari executed; Nikita Khrushchev ousted as Soviet Union’s leader; ‘I Love Lucy’ premieres on TV.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

John Kenneth Galbraith

Continue reading

Let’s chat about the weather.

Lovely day… for ducks. Or, as they say in Maine for any weather short of a Hurricane or Nor’Easter, a bit damp. Hurricanes and Nor’Easters? Breezy.

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

Preet Brahara: Nepotism and partisanship in the US civil service is reaching a crisis point

Here is how we can reform the political appointments process to protect government decision-making from political patronage or nepotism

Long before President Donald Trump lied about the path of a hurricane and threatened the leadership at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he nominated the former CEO of AccuWeather to serve as its administrator. In past presidencies, such a nomination would have been out of bounds. It breaks the decades-long precedent of having a scientist lead the more than 6,000 scientists and engineers at Noaa, not to mention the obvious conflict of interest in putting someone in control of the government’s weather data who had advocated for the privatization of that data for his personal profit. The nomination turned out to be a prelude to President Trump’s politicization of the traditionally non-partisan work at Noaa.

Over the last half century, a set of norms, unwritten rules, and a few laws kept the presidential appointments process focused on naming people to senior government positions who serve in the public’s interest. Appointees were expected to be qualified, free of conflicts of interest, and not members of the president’s family. These principles helped prevent corruption and maintain a basic level of trust in the integrity and effectiveness of government and those who led it. They protect government decision-making from the improper influence associated with political patronage or nepotism.

Of course, presidents didn’t always get it right, and when they ran afoul of these principles, Congress took notice.

Lloyd Green: Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump’s real secretary of state

Giuliani wanted to be tapped as America’s top diplomat, and it looks like he got more than he bargained for: congressional scrutiny and the media’s glare.

From the looks of things, Rudy Giuliani has been the real secretary of state from Day One of the Trump administration. From Ukraine to Turkey to Iran to Foggy Bottom, Giuliani has left his mark. Who cares if Mike Pompeo now sits in the same office once occupied by Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

“America’s Mayor” has emerged as the Zelig of the Trump presidency, appearing anywhere and everywhere, the only thing missing being feathers sprouting from his head. As to whether Giuliani has truly served the presidency’s true interests, as opposed to simply playing Trump’s TV lawyer, that’s a whole other story. [..]

But Giuliani is learning, as others have before, there is no brass ring when it comes to Trump. Giuliani wanted to be tapped as secretary of state, and it looks like he got more than he bargained for. Globetrotting has begotten congressional scrutiny and the media’s glare.

Once remembered as a face of courage amid the ruins of 9/11, Giuliani has now been forced to lawyer up as the prospect of impeachment tightens it grip around Trump and his minions. As the saying goes, answered prayers are the most dangerous.

Robert Reich: Donald Trump: xenophobe in public, international mobster in private

The founding fathers said betraying America to foreign powers was an impeachable offense. The president must go.

The most xenophobic and isolationist American president in modern history has been selling America to foreign powers for his own personal benefit.

Trump withdrew American troops from the Syrian-Turkish border, leaving our Kurdish allies to be slaughtered and opening the way for a resurgent Islamic State. Trump’s rationale? He promised to bring our soldiers home.

There could be another reason. Trump never divested from his real estate business, and the Trump Towers Istanbul is the Trump Organization’s first and only office and residential building in Europe. Businesses linked to the Turkish government are also major patrons of the Trump Organization. Which may be why Trump has repeatedly sided with the Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been intent on eliminating the Kurds. [..]

To ensure no president would “betray his trust to foreign powers”, as James Madison put it, they included an emoluments clause – barring a president from accepting foreign payments.

They also gave Congress the right to impeach a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”. During the Virginia ratifying convention, Edmund Randolph confirmed that a president “may be impeached” if discovered “receiving [help] from foreign powers”.

You don’t have to be an originalist to see the dangers to democracy when a president seeks or receives personal favors from foreign governments. There is no limit to how far a foreign power might go to help a president enlarge his political power and wealth, in exchange for selling out America.

Leah Litman: The Supreme Court could get a lot more undemocratic

Despite the significant power it wields, the Supreme Court is among the federal government’s most undemocratic institutions. Its justices are appointed for life terms, and selected and confirmed by presidents and the Senate — which themselves do not necessarily reflect the will of the public.

For this reason, academics often characterize the court as “counter-majoritarian,” meaning that it has the power to stand against the majority of the public sentiment in setting policy. But as counter-majoritarian as the Supreme Court is by design, it could get even worse. This term, the court will review cases pertaining to weighty topics ranging from LGBTQ rights to protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. By the end of next summer, we will have a glimpse into just how undemocratic the new conservative majority on the court is willing to be.

Paul Waldman: Once again, Trump chooses the stupidest path

When Barack Obama was president, he had a foreign policy principle that aides described as “Don’t do stupid s—.” In large part a reaction to the Iraq War, it was — despite its seeming simplicity — a warning to consider the unintended consequences and long-term effects of policy initiatives based on unrealistic ideas, especially about what military action can accomplish. It was an acknowledgment that if the administration isn’t careful and thoughtful in the foreign policy decisions it makes, the result can be disaster.

If you didn’t look too closely at his desire to avoid another Middle East war, you might think President Trump shared the same view. But unfortunately — as events in northern Syria are now proving — “stupid s—” is Trump’s specialty.

The Turkish invasion of an area controlled by Kurdish forces who were once allies of the United States has demonstrated what can happen when America’s final decision-maker is someone so weak, ignorant and impulsive. It all started with a phone call between President Trump and a foreign leader, which apparently is how many of our most urgent crises now begin.

From Echidne: Havrin Khalaf. Say Her Name.

Havrin Khalaf. Say Her Name ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES

Donald Trump got her killed by giving Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a green light to tell his thugs to go and kill her, by reassuring him that the US troops won’t stand in the way. Dictators are, after all, brothers under the skin.

And somewhere in the background yet another dictator, Vladimir Putin, cannot believe his luck! He only meant to mess with the Americans a little, he never imagined that he would topple over the most powerful country on earth and get its leader to function as his liege.

Havrin Khalaf was the secretary-general of the Future Syria party and a women’s rights advocate. She and her driver were gunned down at a checkpoint in Northern Syria,* perhaps because she was a Kurdish politician who wanted to see women in the area gain more rights.
Say her name.

——–

* She was a civilian, and so was her driver who was also killed.

On Saturday, October 12, Ahrar al-Sharqiya set up a checkpoint on the M4 highway in Tal Abyad and fired at vehicles full of civilians, including an armored SUV carrying women’s rights activist and secretary-general of the Future Syria party, Havrin Khalaf.

An open-source analyst who goes by the handle obretix identified the location as a stretch of motorway in Raqqa governorate between Ayn Issa and Al Hasakah, south of Tal Abyad and northeast of Raqqa city.

Graphic photos and a video that later circulated on social media purported to show Khalaf’s vehicle and her dead body, and the Syrian Democratic Council confirmed she had been killed. The SDC, part of the autonomous administration in northeast Syria, blamed the attack on Turkey, which supports Ahrar al-Sharqiya.

Say Her Name: Havrin Khalaf

Cartnoon

Doggies!

The Breakfast Club (Invincible)

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

Chuck Yeager breaks sound barrier; Britain’s Battle of Hastings takes place; Martin Luther King, Jr. wins Nobel Peace Prize; Former President Theodore Roosevelt shot; Singer Bing Crosby dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The genius of impeachment lay in the fact that it could punish the man without punishing the office.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Continue reading

Rant of the Week: John Oliver and Stephen Colbert’s First Date

HBO “Last week Tonight” host John Oliver flipped places with CBS “late Night” host Stephen Colbert discussing first dates over a glass of white wine.

Zombieland 3

No Rules

Giuliani & Associates

Family

Folk

Judge Connie

More Muppets!

The Bad Boys

What the hell is a podcast?

Ugh, Gym

Here now, the news

Load more