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Hometown: NY
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Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 09:54 PM
Number of posts: 165,879

Journal Archives

Why Trump's Stonewalling Legal Strategy Will Keep Failing


Why Trump’s Stonewalling Legal Strategy Will Keep Failing
May 27, 2019 at 7:14 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

Renato Mariotti: “In the space of three days this week, two federal judges ruled decisively in favor of Congress’ right to subpoena President Donald Trump’s personal financial and business records. The speed of the decisions—unusual in complex federal litigation—demonstrates a significant flaw in the administration’s “fight all the subpoenas” strategy. More importantly, it suggests that Trump’s strategy of categorically fighting all congressional subpoenas will undermine his ability to stonewall Congress in subsequent cases.”

“Already, one of the rulings has been appealed by the Trump administration, and a three-judge panel is scheduled to hear the case in July. In the meantime, however, we are witnessing profound legal decisions in defense of congressional power. If Trump’s stonewalling strategy was intended to run out the clock by forcing Democrats into interminable court fights, it appears so far to be having the exact opposite effect—almost like a little league game that gets called early because one team is scoring too many unanswered runs.”

The Hill: Democrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon May 27, 2019, 08:22 AM (2 replies)

The Lucrative Black Market in Human Fat


The Lucrative Black Market in Human Fat
In 16th- and 17th-century Europe, physicians, butchers, and executioners alike hawked the salutary effects of Axungia hominis.
Christopher Forth
9:00 AM ET

One night in 1731, Cornelia di Bandi burst into flames. When the 62-year-old Italian countess was found the next morning, her head and torso had been reduced to ash and grease.

Only her arms and legs remained intact. After examining what was left of her body, a local physician concluded, in a report cited years later, that the conflagration “was caused in her entrails” by the variety of combustible materials to be found there, including alcohol and fat, “an oily liquid … of an easily combustible nature.” An early instance of what would come to be known as “spontaneous human combustion,” di Bandi’s case was one of many later studied by the French agronomist Pierre-Aimé Lair. If there was a common denominator to these otherwise unexplained phenomena, Lair concluded, it was the fact that most of them involved corpulent older women with a penchant for drink, thus combining fat and alcohol in a literally explosive mix. In addition to the fuel provided by excess body fat, which was rendered even more combustible when “penetrated by alcoholic substances,” surplus fat was said to create higher levels of hydrogen, making the body especially flammable. Lair concluded:

Thus there is no cause for surprise that old women, who are in general fatter and more given to drunkenness, and who are often motionless like inanimate masses, during the moment of intoxication, should experience the effects of combustion.

Whatever Lair might have thought about fat old ladies who drank too much, in his report fat is about little more than the chemicals that composed it and the properties that rendered them combustible. Scientifically breaking the stuff of life down into its components was part of a general process of quantification that gained momentum during the 17th century to become pervasive in the 18th and 19th.


That human fat would be a mainstay in European pharmacies is thus not all that surprising. Yet the fact that druggists kept supplies of human fat and other body parts on hand does not mean the practice always had the seal of approval of medical specialists, many of whom had long argued that there was nothing special about human as opposed to any other kind of fat. In fact, by the mid-18th century, professional medical interest in human fat had already started to wane. “At present,” wrote the physician John Hill, “we are grown wise enough to know, that the Virtues ascribed to the Parts of the human Body are all either imaginary, or such as may be found in other animal Substances.” Such disapproval was compounded by a growing competition between doctors and executioners for access to dead bodies, the result being that the procurement of corpses was eventually taken out of the hands of executioners altogether.

Despite these changes, it took more than the frowning of a few doctors to stamp out the clandestine trafficking in human fat. A thriving fat trade had been reportedly operating for years out of the dissecting theaters of Paris. Its eventual discovery in the early 19th century was kept quiet for fear of alarming the public. Before being caught red-handed by the police agents who had been tipped off to their activities, medical assistants connected to various dissecting rooms had joined forces with their counterparts at the Faculty of Medicine to bring the fat to the people. They were hardly discreet about their activities, which seem to have been well known to everyone except the faculty administrators. Police raids revealed that at least four of the entrepreneurs had been storing the stuff at home. One was caught with massive amounts of it in his apartment. Another, presumably lacking more suitable containers, had filled two decorative sandstone fountains with purloined fat. While a fair amount was sold to medical charlatans and used to grease the wheels of medical carts, it was the city’s enamelists and fake-pearl makers who benefited most from this trade, thinking that they were receiving fat procured from horses or dogs. Or so they said.

This post is adapted from Forth’s upcoming book, Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun May 26, 2019, 08:37 PM (1 replies)

More than 70 retired military leaders urge Trump not to go to war with Iran

More than 70 retired military leaders urge Trump not to go to war with Iran
Any conflict would come at "immense financial, human and geopolitical cost."
Luke Barnes
May 25, 2019, 12:28 pm

More than seventy former senior national security officials, including retired admirals, generals and ambassadors, have written an open letter to President Donald Trump urging restraint towards Iran as tensions ratchet up again in the Middle East.

The letter, which was first published on the website War on the Rocks and was coordinated by the American College of National Security Leaders, said that the accelerated deployment of troops and weapons to the region raised the potential of a deadly confrontation, either done on purpose or by accident.

“A war with Iran, either by choice or miscalculation, would produce dramatic repercussions in an already destabilized Middle East,” the letter read. “[It would] drag the United States into another armed conflict at immense financial, human, and geopolitical cost.”

“Crisis de-escalation measures should be established with the Iranian leadership at the senior levels of government,” the letter continued. “The protection of U.S. national interests in the Middle East and the safety of our friends and allies requires thoughtful statesmanship and aggressive diplomacy rather than unnecessary armed conflict.”

In the last two months tensions with Iran have ratcheted up significantly. Earlier in April the U.S. designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization — prompting Iran to retaliate by labeling all U.S. forces in the Middle East as part of a terrorist organization.

This week the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier was ordered to the Gulf, and on Friday the White House announced that they would be sending an extra 1,500 troops to the region to guard against perceived Iranian aggression. Over Congressional objections, the Trump administration has also moved forward with plans to sell $8 billion worth of weapons to Iranian adversaries Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates — despite the fact that US-sold weapons have been used by Saudi Arabia in its prolonged military campaign in Yemen where thousands of civilians have died.


Posted by babylonsister | Sun May 26, 2019, 07:35 PM (3 replies)

Trump Tweets Lose Their Sting: His Interaction Rates Have Plummeted Since He First Took Office


Trump Tweets Lose Their Sting: The President's Interaction Rates Have Plummeted Since He First Took Office
Audrey McNamara

Trump's Twitter presence is losing its sting. A measure of the president's “interaction rate” shows that the president has been packing less of a punch with each month he's been in office, according to data from CrowdTangle. Trump's interaction rate has fallen from 0.55 percent in November 2016, the month he was elected, to 0.16 percent so far this month. The metric measures retweets and likes per tweet divided by the size of his following. May is set to be the lowest month for Trump's Twitter interaction rate since January 2016. One explanation for the commander in chief's “bad ratio” could be that his inflammatory tweets, which were once novel, have now become customary. Attacking the FBI and accusing government officials of treason are near-daily tweet fodder for the president. Since April 1, Trump has tweeted the phrase “no collusion” 54 times, “no obstruction” 30 times, and “witch hunt” 20 times.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun May 26, 2019, 07:22 PM (7 replies)

Pete Buttigieg Tells Democrats How To Cancel The Trump Horror Show


Posted on Sun, May 26th, 2019 by Jason Easley
Pete Buttigieg Tells Democrats How To Cancel The Trump Horror Show
Pete Buttigieg said that it is time for America to ignore Trump’s distractions and talk about what they want instead of Trump.

Transcript via ABC’s This Week:

PETE BUTTIGIEG: It’s a continuing horror show right now in Washington. And you have a president who has turned the entire thing into a reality show. We’ve got to completely change the channel, and make sure that we respond to all of the — the distractions and the nonsense coming out of the White House, not just by calling him to account, but by returning consistently to the question of how American lives are shaped by those decisions.

RADDATZ: You talk about changing the channel, how do you do — do that with President Trump? It — it works for him.

BUTTIGIEG: It does, but part of how it works for him is he provokes us in ways that make it very hard for us to do anything but respond in kind, the nicknames, the tweets, the insults. And what we’ve got to remember is that the more we’re talking about him, the less we’re talking about voters.

When the conversation is about voters, we’re going to win. Voters want a raise. They want health care. On almost all of the issues, the American people are with us. It is precisely for that reason that the only way the Republican Party can retain power in the White House is if the conversation is about something completely different, like the shenanigans of the current president


Buttigieg was right. If the conversation in 2020 is about you instead of him, Democrats will do very well in the election. If Trump is able to distract and manipulate his way through the campaign, Democrats will struggle to break through. Washington is a horror show under Trump. It is also a do nothing executive branch that is being enabled by Republican Senate majority to do less than the bare minimum of governance.

The election needs to be about healthcare, wages, Trump’s failed trade war, and other issues that matter in the lives of people. Impeachment is a nice thought, but it plays into Trump’s hands by giving him a distraction that allows him to make the election about himself.

The way to beat the Trump horror show is to not allow it to hijack the 2020 election.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun May 26, 2019, 02:36 PM (44 replies)

The general who apologized to the dead soldiers on Memorial Day


The general who apologized to the dead soldiers on Memorial Day
By Nicolaus Mills
Updated 4:03 PM ET, Sat May 23, 2015


"When Truscott spoke he turned away from the visitors and addressed himself to the corpses he had commanded here. It was the most moving gesture I ever saw. It came from a hard-boiled old man who was incapable of planned dramatics," Mauldin wrote.

"The general's remarks were brief and extemporaneous. He apologized to the dead men for their presence here. He said everybody tells leaders it is not their fault that men get killed in war, but that every leader knows in his heart this is not altogether true.

"He said he hoped anybody here through any mistake of his would forgive him, but he realized that was asking a hell of a lot under the circumstances. . . . he would not speak about the glorious dead because he didn't see much glory in getting killed if you were in your late teens or early twenties. He promised that if in the future he ran into anybody, especially old men, who thought death in battle was glorious, he would straighten them out. He said he thought that was the least he could do."

Truscott's words echoed the reaction to the bitter fighting in Italy of others who had experienced it close up. "I had been feeling pretty much like a clay pigeon in a shooting gallery," Ernie Pyle, America's most widely read World War II correspondent, wrote after landing with American troops at Anzio.

But making Truscott different from Pyle and Mauldin, as well as everyone in attendance at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, was his belief that as a commander he bore a special responsibility for the dead lying before him in their fresh graves. He was unsure if apologizing to them was enough, but he could, he knew, guarantee that he would not romanticize their passing.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun May 26, 2019, 09:43 AM (8 replies)

Mike Pence tells West Point grads they should expect to see combat

Mike Pence tells West Point grads they should expect to see combat
May 25, 2019 / 2:24 PM / AP

West Point, N.Y. — Vice President Mike Pence told the most diverse graduating class in the history of the U.S. Military Academy on Saturday that the world is "a dangerous place" and they should expect to see combat. "Some of you will join the fight against radical Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said.

Pence congratulated the West Point graduates on behalf of President Trump, and told them, "As you accept the mantle of leadership I promise you, your commander in chief will always have your back. Mr. Trump is the best friend the men and women of our armed forces will ever have."

More than 980 cadets became U.S. Army second lieutenants in the ceremony at West Point's football stadium.

Pence noted that Mr. Trump has proposed a $750 billion defense budget for 2020 and said the United States "is once again embracing our role as the leader of the free world."

"It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life," Pence said. "You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen. Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere."


Posted by babylonsister | Sat May 25, 2019, 09:06 PM (19 replies)

'Seniors for Buttigieg': Why voters twice his age feel drawn to the millennial mayor

'Seniors for Buttigieg': Why voters twice his age feel drawn to the millennial mayor
By Dan Merica, CNN
Updated 11:25 AM ET, Sat May 25, 2019
Video @ link~

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN)When Barbara Paulding was 44 years old, Joe Biden had been a member of the United States Senate from Delaware for more than a decade -- and Pete Buttigieg was about to be born.

Despite being only 37 years old, the latter -- a gay, veteran mayor from South Bend, Indiana, who is running for president in 2020 -- wowed the now 81-year-old Paulding after he spoke in a low-slung union hall here in Des Moines.

Paulding represents a growing number of senior citizens who have rallied around Buttigieg because of -- not in spite of -- his age. And she said after Buttigieg's speech that her support of the millennial mayor over the 76-year-old former vice president Biden or 77-year-old Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders does not feel abnormal.
A recent CNN poll found that 22% of people 65 and older have a favorable opinion of Buttigieg, compared to 16% for voters under 34. And a recent Suffolk University poll in New Hampshire found more voters older than 65 said they would back the Indiana Democrat if the primary was today than voters younger than 50.


'A generational alliance'

Paulding is not unique.

As Buttigieg has risen in popularity, the faces in his growing crowds have not been solely dotted with young people who see the South Bend, Indiana, mayor as a member of their generational cohort. Instead, Buttigieg has seen a steady growth in support from senior citizens, with polls showing that the age group is, in some cases, more fervent in their Buttigieg support than voters closer to the mayor's age.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat May 25, 2019, 01:33 PM (30 replies)

U.S. State Department misses deadline to explain Iran arms control report: aide

Posted on Sat, May 25th, 2019 by Sarah Jones
U.S. State Department misses deadline to explain Iran arms control report: aide
By Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department failed to meet a deadline on Thursday to provide information to three congressional committee chairmen looking into whether an annual arms control report slanted and politicized assessments about Iran, a congressional aide said.

In a May 16 letter, the Democratic chairmen of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs, Armed Services and Intelligence committees asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to provide a State Department briefing and documents no later than Thursday.

The chairmen’s letter cited a Reuters article on April 17 about how the administration’s annual report to Congress on global compliance with international arms control accords provoked a dispute with U.S. intelligence agencies and some State Department officials.

The dissenting officials, sources said, were concerned that the document politicized and skewed assessments against Iran in a bid to lay the groundwork to justify military action.

A U.S. official familiar with the issue and speaking on condition of anonymity said the chairmen were to be invited to a briefing by State Department and other government experts about the report on “adherence to and compliance with arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament agreements and commitments.”

The congressional aide, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said no such communication had been received.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat May 25, 2019, 01:24 PM (3 replies)

Trump Is Considering Deputizing the Military as a Civilian Police Force. That Is Terrifying.

Trump Is Considering Deputizing the Military as a Civilian Police Force. That Is Terrifying.
By Elizabeth Goitein
May 21, 20197:01 PM

The Donald Trump presidency, marked by cruelty, corruption, and disdain for the rule of law, has been disastrous for our democracy. If there is one silver lining, it is this: Trump’s abuses have exposed weaknesses in our laws and institutions that were previously hidden and which we can now begin to try to fix. We learned about one such weakness in February, when Trump relied on the National Emergencies Act to commandeer funding Congress had specifically denied for the construction of a border wall. The latest such legal loophole is another emergency power that could enable the president to turn the military into his own immigration police force.

According to a report in the Daily Caller last week, the Trump administration is considering invoking the Insurrection Act to give federal troops the power to detain and remove undocumented immigrants in the United States, acting essentially as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The White House, when asked about the option last week, refused to rule it out.

If Trump follows through on this plan, it would be a staggering abuse of authority, on par with the president’s declaration of a “national emergency” to build the border wall. In both cases, the president seeks to harness an authority clearly intended for the most dire and unusual of circumstances to deal with a long-standing issue that does not come close to posing an urgent or overwhelming threat. In both cases, the president’s goal is not to avert a catastrophe, but to score political points with his base and consolidate his own power.

The Insurrection Act is an exception to the general rule, enshrined in the Posse Comitatus Act, that presidents may not use the military as a domestic police force. Posse comitatus, in the words of one former Defense Department official, reflects “one of the clearest political traditions in Anglo-American history: that using military power to enforce the civilian law is harmful to both civilian and military interests.” Deploying soldiers as police officers not only violates democratic sensibilities; it increases the risk that interactions with civilians could go disastrously wrong, as armed forces are not trained in conducting law enforcement activities. On the flip side, every soldier engaged in law enforcement is being pulled away from military priorities.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat May 25, 2019, 11:40 AM (73 replies)
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