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Distractions, Distractions

Distractions,  Distractions

Wow!  We have a great controversy!  A squib of a memo by the House Intel Comm has completely devoured the media.  A constitutional crisis!  Egad!  In two weeks, or maybe two months, it will be nothing.  But for now, well, very very very serious. At a minimum it has distracted everybody from Trump’s gloriously successful State of the Union speech, which was so well received until this distraction that he thinks will bring about the end of that nasty Mueller investigation.

However, it now appears that this follows an older pattern.  When really serious stuff shows up in Trump World, the world is easily distracted by some much more minor scandal that gobbles up media and public attention.  So, during the campaign there was an important moment when it was reported that emails of the DNC had been hacked by Russians and handed over to Julian Assange and publicly leaked, with these memos being drip drip drip leaked day by day through the campaign.  But did this rather serious report get any public attention?  No no no. We had a much more important scandal to distract us with its outstanding shockingness.  It was the Grab ’em by the Pussy tapes, that, shock! were supposedly going to completely upend and end Trump’s campaign.  Within a few weeks again it was no big deal, distracted by further scandals, but in the meantime the more serious matter of Russian serious intervention in the US election barely ever made it to any public attention at all, although we have been living with that attention to it ever since.

So what might this soon-to-be-forgotten memo be distracting us from (and I recognize that it is more serious than the grab ’em distraction)?  Well, buried on the inner pages of WaPo yesterday and scattered across secondary parts of the internet is a curious story that looks a lot more important than this nothing memo. Not only did Trump on the day befor his SOTU speech violate the Constitution by failing to obey a 515-5 vote in Congress to impose further sanctions on Russia for interfering in the US 2016 presidential election, but this astounding action was preceded by an apparently historically unprecedented event, the visit to Washington by the directors of all three of the top Russian intel agencies prior to his decision to ignore the mandate of the Congress.  Is anybody paying attention to this ultimate payoff to Putin for all the barely hidden Russian money in his unreleased tax returns?  Not with this wonderful distraction of this squib memo.

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Does Senator Schumer Really Need to Up His Game with Republicans?

McConnell is a weasel. He has sold out his own by making promises and then reneging on them like he did with Collins. He makes promises to Democrats and then reverses his stance laying the blame on them. Over at Washington Monthly, the writers think Schumer needs to up his game. Lets ask the question of whether the Democrats really caused the military not to be paid and shut down the government. Click on the link or view the Youtube.

With three “I objects,” to Senators introducing bills on the floor, McConnell and Republicans owned the Government Shutdown.

It was not just McCaskill who gave McConnell his comeuppance by introducing a bill, asking for unanimous support to vote for military pay, and hearing McConnell give his “I object” to voting on this to the bill. Nelson from Florida asked for one more day to keep the government open, and Testor from Montana asked to keep the government open through the weekend. Each did it by introducing a bill on the floor, asking for unanimous support to go forward with a vote, and each time McConnell said “I object.”

Democrats did not kill pay to the military or shut down the government. Senator Addison Mitchell McConnell and Republicans did.

Schumer orchestrated a well deserved boot in the ass for McConnell. In each case, McConnell objected to each of three bills going forward, leaving the liability of not paying the military and shutting down the government the fault of Republicans and himself. Schumer gave three Democrats in states where the races are close an opportunity to talk about they introduced bills to keep the government open, how Republicans failed to support the bills, and killed pay to the military and shut down the government.

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Our thoughts and opinions are with you

(Dan here…..lifted from an e-mail via iphone and I am tossing it out to the fray)

by new deal democrat

A few thoughts, hopefully from 30,000 feet, about the shutdown:

1. It looks like Schumer is getting rolled again. The reason the Bush tax cuts became permanent, even when the Dems held almost all the cards at the end of 2012, is that Obama failed to take a vacation to Hawaii and come back January 2 to negotiate from the new, more favorable status quo, but even more importantly because Schumer offered McConnell a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts if the GOP would agree to sequestration, thinking McConnell would never take the deal. Since the GOP holds tax cuts for billionaires sacred, though, McConnell took the deal (realizing he could roll Dems on the Pentagon spending cuts later). That fact alone should have made Dems realize they didn’t want Schumer as their dealmaker.

2. Never show weakness to a dishonest negotiator. We all know Trump always welches on deals. This is now the third time he has done so with Dems on the issue of the Dreamers. Reagan’s negotiator, Jim Baker’s mantra was “nothing is decided until everything is decided.” Once Trump went back on his word the first time, it should have been made clear that all Dem concessions were off the table. Even if they decided to give Trump a second chance, once he welched on Durbin and Graham a week ago, Schumer should never have offered any further concessions. With a dishonest negotiator, that just leads to a dynamic of “Jump Higher! HIGHER!!!” as s/he coerces maximum capitulation. A dishonest negotiator must be told that they must come back to the bargaining table with a concession before talks can resume.

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Carbon footprint conundrum

Carbon footprint conundrum would be my title.  Personal involvement is important (macro is too but not the point here), but this list points to involvements well beyond many our imaginations to implement as individuals.  Personal decisions are much harder for the top activities mentioned, and from personal contacts not much on the radar of people’s decision making.  How do you go about connecting to the things “in our own control” on these points?

According to a recent study in the journal ”Environmental Research Letters,” the four steps that most substantially shrink a person’s carbon footprint are: eating a plant-based diet, living without a car, avoiding air travel and having a smaller family.

Go car-free. Short of having one less child (which cuts the climate change impact by 120 tons of CO2 emissions per year, if you include carbon that the child’s children would emit), living without a car is the biggest step you can take. According to the EPA, the typical passenger vehicle emits around 4.7 metric tons of CO2 each year.

Take a staycation. One round-trip flight from New York to Europe or New York to San Francisco creates a warming effect equivalent to an average year’s worth of driving.

Eat less meat. People who eat more than 3.5 ounces of meat per day – a serving about the size of a deck of cards – generate 15.8 pounds of CO2 each day, vegetarians just 8.4 pounds and vegans only 6.4 pounds.

Having a smaller family.

Personal attachment to feeling like you are doing something:

Inflate your tires.   Recycle.  Adjust your thermostat. Wash in cold water.  Dry on a clothesline. Buy an Energy Star fridge.  Tune up your water heater.


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Fair use…linking as copyright infringement

Via David Dayen comes Playboy sues Boing-Boing:

You can read our motion here, and EFF’s press release here. We’ll have more to say after the judge issues his ruling.

Here’s the introduction from our motion to dismiss:

This lawsuit is frankly mystifying. Playboy’s theory of liability seems to be that it is illegal to link to material posted by others on the web — an act performed daily by hundreds of millions of users of Facebook and Twitter, and by journalists like the ones in Playboy’s crosshairs here.

Defendant Happy Mutants, LLC (“Happy Mutants”) is the corporation behind Boing Boing, a blog created and written by five people to share “mostly wonderful things.” For three decades, Boing Boing has reported on social, educational, political, scientific, and artistic developments in popular culture, becoming one of the Internet’s leading sources of news and commentary. Plaintiff Playboy Entertainment Group Inc. (“Playboy”), an entertainment behemoth with a notable history of defending freedom of the press, is suing this much smaller but important news site for reporting on the existence of a collection of Playboy centerfolds and linking to that collection. In other words, rather than pursuing the individual who created the allegedly infringing archive, Playboy is pursuing a news site for pointing out the archive’s value as a historical document.

The facts pleaded in Playboy’s First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) do not state a claim for either direct or contributory copyright infringement. With respect to direct infringement, Playboy alleges that third parties — not Boing Boing — posted the collection at issue, and that Boing Boing made reference to that collection with a hyperlink. As for secondary liability, Playboy does not allege facts that could show that Boing Boing induced or materially contributed to direct infringement by any third party. Playboy’s claim fails for these reasons alone.

What is more, Playboy’s own allegations show that further amendment would be futile. Boing Boing’s post is a noninfringing fair use, made for the favored and transformative purposes of news reporting, criticism, and commentary so that the reader can, in the words of the post in question, “see how our standards of hotness, and the art of commercial erotic photography, have changed over time.”

The Court should dismiss Playboy’s First Amended Complaint with prejudice.

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Democrats Are Silent Again

I do not understand the silence of the Democrats when it comes to dealing with the issues of this country such as student debt, the attacks by Trump and Republicans on the ACA, the Republican and Trump tax reform plan giving $billions to the 1% of the taxpayers making greater than $500,000 annually, the more recent plan allowing states to invoke job requirements and premiums upon those on Medicaid, etc.

Then there is the latest utterance from the White House, an attack on black and brown immigrants from countries such as Haiti and El Savador.

Trump’s comments do not go unverified by those on both sides of the political spectrum who attended this meeting on immigration between Senators, Representatives, and the President. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” The comment made by Trump is also being denied by his supporters.

The real “why” to this issue is the silence of the Democrats when it comes to active and verbally expressed racism by a US President. Democrats who wanted and depended upon support by minorities to put a Democrat in office in Alabama. Democrats who are depending on minorities to turn the corner on Republicans and to reverse everything wrong done to date by this president and the Republicans who hide behind him.

Civil Rights icon and US Representative Elijah Cummings called Trump’s comments the words of expressed bigotry. Others such as Dr. G.S. Potter labeled such words as unsettling stating “bigotry” as used to describe the Trump comment as being too “interpersonal and anyone can be a bigot. Racism is structural. It is structural in the context of white supremacy and racism is white.” Trump’s comment are the words of a racist.

It is time to confront Trump for his words and confront Republicans who knowingly cover up for Trump’s racism and divisiveness and hide behind him. When Trump is gone, the same Republicans; McConnell, Ryan, Pence, Cotton, etc. and the Republican agenda will still exist.

The Democratic party has stood silent against the blatant white nationalism coming out of the White House for too long (Dr. GS Potter). They have continually sought bipartisanship with neo-Confederates and Nazis instead of seeking solidarity with people of color as we fight for our lives against them. The Democrats have continued to use us as bargaining chips, rhetorical talking points, and last-minute voting blocs rather than stand up for their largest and most loyal constituent groups against the GOP.

Their refusal to take a stand against Trump’s most recent racist comments cannot go unchallenged.

This needs to be a turning point for Democrats as voters and as a party. If our leaders can’t say the word “racism,” then they can’t fight it. If they can’t fight racism, they are worthless in a national battle against a network of politically shrewd white supremacists. If they are worthless in battle against white supremacists, they are worthless in battle against Trump and the GOP.

And over the past year, the white-led Democratic party has done nothing if not prove that they are worthless.

The Democrats are depending on black and brown voters to hand them Senate seats in 2018, while blatantly refusing to defend us from the GOP and its attacks on our communities. We can’t afford another term of white Democratic leadership. We can’t afford Senators that use us as bargaining chips for the white middle class. We can’t afford to give our votes to people that refuse to say the word “racist” let alone dig in and do the work necessary to stop racism.

This is a moment for all people of color to stand together and demand that the Democrats, in unity, acknowledge that the President is a racist. It is time that they collectively refuse to seek bipartisanship with neo-Confederates and Nazis. It is time that the party as a whole begins actively fighting the GOP and the Trump administration. And if the white leadership in the party refuses to do that, it is time for them to go.

Democrats Refuse to Call Trump’s Shithole Statement ‘Racist’“, Dr. GS Potter, January 12, 2018

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(88% of a Sample of) Republicans Helpfully Make it Clear That They Don’t Care About Accuracy

Jason Schwartz buries the lede in this genuinely alarming article in Politico “Study: Americans view media negatively, can’t agree on meaning of ‘fake news'”

I attempt to excavate it.

The study — the 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy, based on mailed-in responses from more than 19,000 Americans age 18 or older — asked people to rate whether four categories of information were “Always,” “Sometimes” or “Never” fake news.


Asked to rate “Accurate news stories casting a politician or political group in a negative light,” Democrats said 26 percent always, 50 percent sometimes, 22 percent never, while Republicans replied 42 percent always, 46 percent sometimes, 10 percent never.

10% of Republicans agree that news stories can’t be both “accurate” and “fake”. I admit the views of Democrats are also alarming, but, as a resident of the rest of the world outside of the USA I sure am glad those US Republicans don’t control nukes.


Also Orwell had a bit to say about the political goals achieved through the destruction of language. Unlike this post
Politics and the English Language
are worth reading.

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Martin Luther King also believed…

Via Alternet:

4 Ways Martin Luther King Was More Radical Than You Thought

The slain civil rights leader was a critic of capitalism, the Vietnam War, and championed reproductive rights.
By Igor Volsky / ThinkProgress January 20, 2014, 7:32 AM GMT

Every January, Martin Luther King, Jr. is universally honored as a national hero who preached a peaceful fight against racial injustice. This saintly image is quite a departure from the kind of attacks the reverend endured over his lifetime. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover famously called King “the most dangerous Negro” and “the most notorious liar in the country” while keeping him under close surveillance. Over the years, Dr. King’s more controversial edges have been smoothed over, burying his more radical teachings.

1. He pushed for a government-guaranteed right to a job. In the years before his assassination, King re-shifted his focus on economic justice in northern cities as well as the South. He launched the Poor People’s Campaign and put forth an economic and social bill of rights that espoused “a national responsibility to provide work for all.”


2. He was a critic of capitalism and materialism. King was a strident critic of capitalism and materialistic society, and urged Americans to “move toward a democratic socialism.” Referring to the now iconic Greensboro Lunch Counter sit-ins, he asked, “What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?”

3. He denounced the Vietnam War. King’s harsh words on the Vietnam War alienated even his allies on civil rights, especially President Lyndon B. Johnson. Still, King continued to speak out, asserting that American involvement in Vietnam “has torn up the Geneva Accord” and “strengthened the military-industrial complex.” He also accused the U.S. of being “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”

4. He championed Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights. King believed that the spread of family planning was a crucial tool in the fight to end poverty and racial inequality.

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A Reminder That It Was George W. Bush Who Was Responsible For Letting North Korea Get Nuclear Weapons

A Reminder That It Was George W. Bush Who Was Responsible For Letting North Korea Get Nuclear Weapons

Tyler Cowen on Marginal Revolution has provided a link to a 2004 article from Washington Monthly by Fred Kaplan that lays out in great detail how George W. Bush, strongly backed by Cheney and Rumsfeld and against the views of Colin Powell, undid the agreement that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton made with the North Koreans in 1994 to shut down the North’s plutonium production program for nuclear weapons.  I have blogged on tis here previously, but this article included more details than I had been aware of while confirming all I had previously said here previously about this unfortunate matter, which remains largely unknown to the vast majority of Americans.  One detail is indeed how Bush’s obsession with invading Iraq (ironically supposedly to get rid of nonexistent WMDs there) contributed to his complete failure to stop North Korea from building these weapons.

Ironically even Trump looks almost good in comparison with Bush on the matter of destroying agreements made by predecessors that put a potential nuclear power that is hostile in a box regarding its program.  In the case of Trump it is Obama’s agreement with Iran, which he regularly denounces and threatens to repeal and indeed nibbles at the edges of by adding new sanctions on Iran. But he has just for the third time recertified that Iran is keeping to the agreement, even as he threatened once again to repeal it if it does not get “fixed.”  It would seem that the difference between the Bush and Trump situations is that while the main foreign policy advisers around Trump, Mattis, McMaster, and Tillerson, are clearly working to keep the agreement going, most of those around Bush, especially Cheney and Rumsfeld, were also keen on ending the agreement with North Korea, convinced that they could bring about the collapse of the North Korean regime, which, needless to  say, they failed to achieve, even as they handed a nuclear North Korea to all of us now.

The article also provides details on the matter of how Bush treated South Korean President Kim Dae Jung in a shameful and disrespectful manner in the months shortly after Bush took office, paving the way to the later collapse of the agreement with North Korea, a matter I have previously posted about here.  All of this is worth keeping in mind when we think that Bush was so much more reasonable than Trump.  Trump has done a lot of blundering, but so far has avoided doing anything nearly as dangerous or destructive as either invading Iraq or acting to push North Korea into getting nuclear weapons.

Barkley Rosser

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What If?

Using crime and public safety as a political issue in an election year, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez: “’I don’t believe that police officers should be under this constant threat of lawsuits that will often cause them to pause, if they’re following their training, there should be something that protects them.’

The bill would protect cops and citizens from the ‘massive payouts that taxpayers are giving crooks and thieves who are hurt or injured by police officers who are doing their job,’”

Today, the burden of proof is on the injured or the dead’s relatives to prove the police officer was negligent giving police officer’s one more level of immunity to lawsuit and convictions. Governor’s Martinez comment about police following their training, is a statement not recognizing the 2014 Department of Justice finding of a pattern and practice of excessive force being used by the Albuquerque police force against those who are a minor threat and the mentally ill. It is obvious they have not been doing so.

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