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Hometown: Chicago
Home country: USA
Current location: Chicago
Member since: Fri May 4, 2007, 12:12 PM
Number of posts: 5,532

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This week was a big one in the history of this country. - Heather Cox Richardson, Historian

Found on Facebook-

December 14, 2019 (Saturday)

This week was a big one in the history of this country.

The House Committee on the Judiciary voted to impeach the President for the fourth time in American history. But that was not, actually, the biggest story. The big story was that it became clear that the leadership of today’s Republican Party, a party started in the 1850s by men like Abraham Lincoln to protect American democracy, is trying to undermine our government.

Even as I write that, it seems crazy. But I can reach no other conclusion after watching the behavior of the Republicans over the past few weeks, from their yelling and grandstanding rather than interviewing witnesses in the Intelligence Committee hearings, to the truly bizarre statements of Trump and Attorney General Barr saying the report of the Justice Department’s Inspector General about the investigation into Russian interference in 2016 concluded the opposite of what it did, to the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee making a mockery of the hearings rather than actually participating in them, and finally culminating in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announcing on Sean Hannity’s program last night that “There’s no chance the president will be removed from office.”

A look at the members of the House Judiciary Committee who voted for or against impeachment explains how we got here. It was a strict party vote, and of the 23 Democrats who voted to impeach Trump, 11 were women, and twelve were people of color (California’s Ted Lieu did not vote because he was recovering from surgery). Of the 17 Republicans who voted against impeachment, two were women. Zero were people of color.

That the Republican Party has turned itself into an all-white, largely male party is the result of a deliberate campaign of industrialists to destroy the national consensus after WWII. Unregulated capitalism crashed the world economy in 1929, then an activist government both provided relief during the Depression and enabled the Allies to win WWII. By 1945, Americans of all parties embraced the idea that the government should regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, and promote infrastructure. This belief was called the “liberal consensus,” and it was behind both the largest welfare program in American history—Social Security—and the largest infrastructure project in American history—the Interstate Highway System. Taxes of up to 91% under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower helped to pay for this popular system.

But a small group of businessmen loathed the idea that government bureaucrats could tell them how to run their businesses. Rather than having to abide by government regulations, they wanted to go back to the world of the 1920s, when businessmen ran the government. They insisted that the government must do nothing but defend the nation and promote religion.

They made little headway. The economy was booming and most Americans loved their new nice homes and family cars, and recognized that it was labor legislation and government regulation that enabled them to make a good living. The liberal consensus kept wealth spread fairly in society, rather than accumulating at the top as it had done in the 1920s.

But there was a catch. The logical outcome of a war for democracy was that all Americans would have the right to have a say in their government. The idea that men of color and women should have a say equal to white men in our government gave an opening to the men who wanted to destroy the nation’s postwar active government. When a Republican Supreme Court unanimously decided that segregation was unconstitutional in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the way was clear for these men to argue that an active government was not about protecting equality; it was simply a way to give benefits to black and brown people, paid for by white tax dollars.

This argument drew directly from the years of Reconstruction after the Civil War, when the Republican national taxes invented during the Civil War coincided with the 1870 Fifteenth Amendment guaranteeing black men the right to vote. In 1871, white supremacist Democrats in the South began to argue (disingenuously) that they had no problem with black men voting. What they objected to was poor men voting for leaders who promised “stuff”—roads and schools and hospitals in the war-damaged South—that could only be paid for with tax levies on the only people in the South who had money: white men. This, they said, was socialism.

One hundred years later, this equation-- that people of color would vote for government benefits paid for by hardworking white men-- was the argument on which businessmen after WWII broke the liberal consensus. Their candidate Reagan rose to power on the image of the Welfare Queen, a black woman who, he said “has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names." In his inaugural address he concluded, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He promised to take tax dollars from welfare queens and give them back to hardworking white men.

These new Republicans slashed government regulation and social welfare programs, as they promised, but their laws did not help middle-class white men. Instead wealth moved upward. Voters pushed back, and to stay in power, Republicans purged the party of people who still believed that the government should regulate business and provide a social safety net—people Newt Gingrich called RINOs, for Republicans In Name Only—and then began to purge opposition voters. As Republicans got more and more extreme, they lost more voters and so, to stay in power, they began to gerrymander congressional districts. Increasingly, they argued that Democrats only won elections with illegal votes, usually votes of people of color. Those voters were “takers” who wanted handouts from “makers,” as Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney put it. It was imperative to keep people of color and women from voting. Their desire for government regulation, social welfare, and infrastructure funding was “socialism.”

A generation of vilifying Democrats as “socialists” has brought us to a place where Republican leaders reject outright the idea that Democrats can govern legitimately. To keep voters from electing Democrats, Republicans have abandoned democracy. They are willing to purge voting rolls, gerrymander states, collude with a foreign power to swing elections, and protect a president who has attacked Congress, packed the courts, and attacked the media, looking everything like a dictator on the make, so long as he slashes taxes and attacks women and people of color. While Republicans used to call their opponents socialists, they now call them traitors.

We are at the moment when Americans must choose. Will we allow these Republican leaders to establish an oligarchy in which a few white men run the country in their own interests, or do we really believe that everyone has a right to a say in our government?

For my part, I will stand with Lincoln, who in the midst of a war against oligarchy, charged his fellow Americans to “highly resolve that…, this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Sometimes, stripped-down music is the best. This is the case here...

Posted by Snarkoleptic | Fri Dec 6, 2019, 08:29 PM (2 replies)

We Are on the Brink of the Second Great Depression (Forbes)


You really need to watch this video of a recent conversation between Ray Dalio and Paul Tudor Jones. Their part is about the first 40 minutes. In this video, Ray highlights some problematic similarities between our times and the 1930s. Both feature:

a large wealth gap
the absence of effective monetary policy
a change in the world order, in this case the rise of China and the potential for trade wars/technology wars/capital wars.

He threw in a few quick comments as their time was running out, alluding to the potential for the end of the world reserve system and the collapse of fiat monetary regimes. Maybe it was in his rush to finish as their time is drawing to a close, but it certainly sounded a more challenging tone than I have seen in his writings.

Here's the linked video-

Next month we'll have recreational 'jazz cabbage' sales in Illinois.

I illegally smoked the stuff from high school until my late 30's, but backed away due to scarcity* and the possibility of hefty penalties being imposed, if caught.
*Until she moved away, I used to get weed from my neighbor, who is a mental health counselor.

I'm pleased that so many Illinoisans will have their cannabis convictions expunged, as I'm certain it's kept many folks from employment/career advancement.
It will be a real sea change for me to be able to walk into a dispensary and purchase legal weed.

Hoping Santa will bring me some fun paraphernalia this year.

Handy Guide to the GOP Impeachment Fog Machine

>Not snipped as it's from a pair of e-mail<

by Dan Kovats, IDCCA Executive Director
@ILDCCA @dankovats


Remember: Betrayal of America, Betrayal of the Constitution, Betrayal of our National Security System.

Trump’s actions were so serious that patriotic whistle blowers have come forward to expose his betrayal of America. As President, Trump orchestrated a mobster-like scheme to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless they investigated and reported on a political rival. Think about that; the President directly threatened another nation that, if they didn’t dig up or make up information to help attack a political opponent, he would see to it that the United States government would stop supporting their efforts at self-defense.

Republicans are exposing themselves – not as patriots – but as small-minded Trump loyalists who are willing to betray the Constitution. Trump and his Republicans have treated the proven Russian election manipulation as ‘no big deal.’ But today, influence in the election process from foreign governments is on Donald Trump’s request list. That’s a blatant betrayal of the Constitution.

Trump betrayed our nation.
He has betrayed the basic elements of national security;
He’s betrayed the Constitution;
He’s betrayed the citizens of the United States.


CLAIM: Democrats held secret hearings where Republicans were not allowed to participate
RESPOND: Democrats deposed several witnesses to investigate the allegations made against Donald Trump. Normally these depositions are conducted with the Justice Department. Since the Justice Department would rather serve Donald Trump than the American public, they have refused to conduct these depositions. Furthermore, these depositions were conducted by the Foreign Affairs, Oversight & Reform, and Intelligence Committees. Republicans who are on those committees were not only invited; they were expected to participate. They choose to make a political stunt instead of engaging in the process.

CLAIM: Democrats were not transparent about the process from the start and this has tainted the inquiry. Since they did this, the entire process is a sham.
RESPOND: Democrats were following the impeachment inquiry procedures that were approved by the Republican controlled House of Representatives in 2015. To say that Democrats were not transparent about the process would mean that the Republicans own rules were not transparent.

CLAIM: Speaker Pelosi was against impeachment in the spring but is now in favor of it. What has changed?
RESPOND: It’s true that Speaker Pelosi stated that an impeachment is “divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan.” What has changed since that statement is Donald Trump attempted to bribe the leader of a foreign country. By trying to engage in a quid pro quo, Donald Trump put his needs over the needs of our country.

CLAIM: The President of the United States sets our foreign policy and Donald Trump is well within his right to conduct whatever policy he believes is in our best interest.
RESPOND: While the Constitution grants the President the authority to set our foreign policy, it does stipulate that the foreign policy must be in the nation’s best interest. The summary of the call between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky & Donald Trump clearly shows that an attempt was made to withhold military aide unless Ukraine started an investigation into Vice President Joe Biden’s son.

CLAIM: Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman is a “Never Trumper” and his testimony should be considered slanted
RESPOND: Lt Colonel is a 20-plus year Army veteran who served honorably in the Iraq War. He is a decorated soldier who was awarded a Purple Heart for being injured in battle. He was doing his job as a military officer working in the Situation Room. He was so alarmed by what he heard on the call between Zelensky & Trump, he was compelled to provide information the NSC’s top lawyer.

CLAIM: Donald Trump didn’t understand what a “Quid Pro Quo” was when he spoke with Ukrainian President Zelensky
RESPOND: Just because Donald Trump doesn’t understand that he broke the law doesn’t mean that he didn’t break the law. Ignorance is not a defense when it comes to violating our Constitution and putting our national security at risk.

CLAIM: The whole impeachment is a “witch hunt.”
RESPOND: Call it what you want. The impeachment is a serious investigation about Donald Trump’s corrupt abuse of power. IF Trump is the victim of congressional abuse, why has he been stopping witnesses from testifying to congress?

CLAIM: Democrats are just wasting time; mad they didn’t win the election.
RESPOND: First, Democrats aren’t alone. There are Republicans who support the inquiry. Second this isn’t “revenge” for winning the 2016 election. It is enforcement for potentially violating the trust of the American people and betrayal of our Constitution.

CLAIM: Joe Biden and his son are corrupt, that was President Trump’s point.
RESPOND: There isn’t an ounce of evidence that Biden or his son did anything illegal or corrupt. The Biden’s have been nothing but transparent and clear. It is Trump who has engaged in a lifetime of corruption and a stunning display of continued abuse of power.

CLAIM: Voters don’t want the impeachment inquiry and Democrats are going to lose their elections.
RESPOND: That’s false. The latest surveys and polls are revealing a growing number of Americans who support the investigation. It’s now over 54% of support for some kind of inquiry.

CLAIM: Trump is just doing what any other Presidents have done.
RESPONSE: Um, no. Trump is abusing his power and betraying our country.

Abandoning Open Skies: Trump Would Be Squandering More of Our Security Inheritance

File this under- Donald Trump, Russian Asset

Back in early 1989, then-President George Herbert Walker Bush put a steely eyed challenge to the Soviets still running Russia: let America and its allies take a look around at Russia and its Eastern bloc partners with periodic unarmed surveillance flights, and we’ll let you do the same. The imagery collected would build confidence by letting each side distinguish trucks from tanks. Each side could effectively take a plane apart to make sure everything was on the level. The inspected party could even have their own military personnel onboard the flights.


Last December, 25 Americans, along with counterparts from Canada, Germany, France, Romania, and the United Kingdom, joined Ukrainians on an urgent mission to help them defend their nation.
A few days earlier, several Ukrainian ships and their crews had been seized on the Sea of Azov. In response, Ukraine had asked America and its allies to conduct an extraordinary joint overflight to produce certified photographic evidence of what was really happening. In an era of deep fakes and precision-guided disinformation, ready access to unquestioned facts gives America and its friends an instant strategic advantage.

But more than that, America’s friend was calling for help, and only America could be counted on to lead the response. Pulling together such an extraordinary, short-notice, multi-nation surveillance mission was only possible because the United States and its allies already had a long-standing agreement that almost no one has heard of: the Open Skies Treaty, which established a regime of observation overflights over the territories of all member states. The United States, Russia, and 32 other Euro-Atlantic countries—most of whom are U.S. allies—have been quietly using this treaty for years to help make sure that the very real tensions that trouble the region at least stay focused on facts, not fakes.

Rumors are now swirling about President Donald Trump deciding to withdraw the United States from this treaty. Congress, our allies, and the public have been kept in the dark. To make matters worse, there is no evidence that the Trump administration has considered how walking out on the treaty would impact our national interests. There has not been any real discussion about how abandoning our commitment to Open Skies would undercut Ukraine, or more broadly affect the security of our European allies, who rely on the tools of the treaty to gain independent insight into the military might of their neighbors, including Russia.

America's Electronic Voting System is Corrupted to the Core - Jenny Cohn

This is a must-read article for anyone concerned about the use of e-voting machines to subvert the democratic process.

(on edit, it seems the link doesn't work - prolly because @jennycohn1 is part of the URL)
Here's another link-

Voting machine vendors have an alarming history of deception. In July 2018, cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter reported that, despite ES&S’s prior denials, ES&S’s election-management system (EMS) computers were sold with remote access software between 2000 and 2006. ES&S won’t say where it installed the remote access software that it lied about, but claims it’s been removed. According to Zetter’s article, Diebold’s EMS computers were sold with remote access software as well, and Dominion refused to comment.

The installation of remote access software in EMS computers is a big deal because these are centralized county or state computers used to program all voting machines in the county or state. According to Zetter’s reporting, some of these computers also include the central tabulators that aggregate all precinct totals.

But the vendor lies don’t end there. On August 8, 2019, Zetter further reported that ES&S’s EMS computers also connect to the internet, something else that ES&S had said was not the case but that leading election-security experts had long suspected.

Meanwhile, ES&S installed wireless modems in ballot scanners in Florida, Wisconsin, and Illinois starting in about 2015. Although some election officials claimed that these modems do not connect to the internet, this too was a lie, as further reported by Zetter.

Now is the time to ask questions about the retirement of Anthony Kennedy from SCOTUS.

Putin's cronies apparently co-signed Deutsche bank loans for Trump, so it's time to shine on spotlight on the Kennedy SCOTUS retirement.
It's all connected folks, it's all deeply connected.


The son of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was leading a real-estate division of Deutsche Bank as it gave President Donald Trump over $1 billion in loans to finance his real-estate projects when other banks wouldn't, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Justin Kennedy, the former global head of Deutsche Bank's real-estate capital markets division, was one of Trump's close business associates, The Times reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

Because of Trump's inconsistent track record in business, which included multiple bankruptcy filings and frequent lawsuits, most other major banks would not lend to him. Deutsche Bank loaned Trump the funds to construct and renovate skyscrapers and other developments in New York City and Chicago, The Times reported.

After Trump's first address to Congress, in February 2017, he reportedly stopped to chat with Anthony Kennedy, saying: "Say hello to your boy. Special guy."

The Many Benefits of CBD.

American companies added the fewest jobs in 9 years in May, ADP says.


The private sector created the fewest jobs in nine years in May, a surprisingly soft pace of growth that could suggest the US labor market is cooling down.

The ADP National Employment Report out Wednesday showed the private sector added 27,000 jobs last month, well below economist forecasts for a 185,000 increase and the slowest pace since September 2010.

"Payroll growth was bound to slow in May, following April's unexpected strength, but this is a much bigger slowdown than we expected," said Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. "ADP's model is not always reliable, but this is such a big miss that we have to temper our forecast for Friday's official number."

In related news... This chart is from last month, but shows that Trump still lags behind Obama in job creation.
Here's the source of the chart- https://twitter.com/SteveRattner/status/1125363814466228225
Recent news of strong hiring– a strong factor in past elections -is a positive for Trump heading into the ‘20 elections. Will Americans recognize that the pace of job growth under his tenure (202k/month) is below that of Obama’s last 28 months (220k/month)?

Posted by Snarkoleptic | Wed Jun 5, 2019, 10:05 PM (0 replies)
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