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SunSeeker

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Winners and losers from the December Democratic debate

Winners

Joe Biden: I’ve had him as a loser in just about every debate thus far. He’s been halting, often confused and hasn’t shown himself to be the kind of debater Democrats will want going toe-to-toe with President Trump. Thursday night was better. It wasn’t flawless, but he kept things on the rails, had flashes of good humor, and was deft with tough moments he could see approaching, including about his age.

He dealt particularly well with the toughest question he got, which was about a recent Washington Post report on how leaders, including those in the Obama administration, misled the country about the status of the war in Afghanistan. He said he argued against nation-building there and emphasized disagreements with the Pentagon about things like the troops surge. And he’s got documents to back that up. He had previously struggled when asked to own particular elements of the Obama legacy, but not Thursday.

Biden also described how he connects with voters, including by talking like a child who stutters — something he struggled with when he was younger. President Trump’s former press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, appeared to not pick up on what Biden was actually doing and ridiculed him on Twitter, which could be a lasting moment from this debate. Sanders later apologized and deleted that tweet.

Perhaps most importantly for him, as the candidate who leads almost all of the national polls — and has in recent weeks reasserted that lead — the other candidates mostly gave him a pass. Even when the topic was conducting high-dollar fundraisers, most of the heat was trained on South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and when Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) seemed to want to press the issue on Biden, he was bypassed. Suddenly, we saw the Joe Biden who dealt with Paul D. Ryan in the 2012 vice presidential debate. Will he stick around, though?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/19/winners-losers-december-democratic-debate/

WaPo: Impeachment exposes the widening gap between Republicans and the truth

THE HOUSE Judiciary Committee’s debate about articles of impeachment Wednesday and Thursday underlined the yawning gap between Democrats and Republicans over President Trump’s behavior — and also between Republicans and the truth.

Democrats arguing for the president’s impeachment repeatedly cited evidence that Mr. Trump conditioned military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting with its president on an announcement by Ukraine that it would investigate former vice president Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory about the 2016 U.S. election. Most Republicans responded with the diversions they have offered since the impeachment process began: spurious complaints about the process, coupled with claims that Democrats were interested only in reversing the results of the 2016 election.

Remarkably, not one GOP member of the Judiciary Committee was ready to acknowledge that there was anything wrong with Mr. Trump’s demand that a foreign government pursue false charges against one of his most likely Democratic opponents in the 2020 election. They could have followed the example of the several Republican legislators who have said Mr. Trump’s actions were improper but not impeachable. Instead, they offered a display of blind fealty, portraying Mr. Trump as a victim of Democratic persecution while ignoring or misrepresenting the evidence against him.Some served up gross distortions and falsehoods. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), among Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters, repeated what they described as four key points, all of which are starkly at odds with sworn testimony and documents. They said there was no quid pro quo mentioned in a July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; but the documented contacts between U.S. and Ukrainian officials before the call make clear that when Mr. Zelensky promised to conduct the investigations Mr. Trump wanted, and Mr. Trump answered by offering him a White House visit, they were confirming a precooked deal.

The Republicans said the Ukrainians never felt pressured by Mr. Trump, relying on a polite comment Mr. Zelensky made while sitting next to Mr. Trump and disregarding the testimony of U.S. diplomats in Kyiv, who described the Ukrainian president and his aides as “desperate.” Republicans said the Ukrainians did not know that Mr. Trump had withheld military aid, even though a Pentagon official testified the Ukrainians first asked about the hold the same day the two presidents spoke. Finally, Mr. Jordan and Mr. Gaetz pointed to the fact that Ukrainians received military aid without announcing the investigations. But Mr. Trump released the aid two days after the announcement of a congressional investigation of his extortion attempt — and Mr. Zelensky still has not been invited to the White House.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/impeachment-exposes-the-widening-gap-between-republicans-and-the-truth/2019/12/12/ba5fadb0-1ced-11ea-87f7-f2e91143c60d_story.html

Leonardo DiCaprio refutes Brazilian president's claim that he funded Amazon wildfires

LOS ANGELES - Leonardo DiCaprio has refuted bizarre and false claims from Brazil's right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro that the actor financed the wildfires in the Amazon, playing into a ploy by the World Wildlife Fund to generate donations.

DiCaprio posted a statement on Instagram Saturday that "while worthy of support, we did not fund the organizations targeted."

"This Leonardo DiCaprio is a cool guy, right?" Bolsonaro said, according to Reuters, during a brief remarks in front of the presidential residence on Friday. "Giving money to torch the Amazon."

Reuters reported that Bolsonaro appeared to be commenting on disputed social media posts that WWF had paid for photographs taken by volunteer firefighters and used them to solicit donations, including $500,000 from DiCaprio. The claim is the latest in an effort by Bolsonaro to divert blame for the disastrous fires from his government, which scaled back enforcement against illegal logging, mining, and ranching.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/leonardo-dicaprio-refutes-brazilian-president-s-claim-he-funded-amazon-n1093686

The Day That Decided the 2020 Election

It was, they say, Nov. 20, 2019, that ensured the outcome — a day and a night that crystallized the choice for the majority of Americans ready to toss Donald Trump from office.

The impeachment hearings had been bumping along, the main story clear: a parade of impeccable public servants trying to uphold the values of their country against a gangster White House. A candidate who had gloated over chants of “lock her up” for an opponent who had used unsecured emails had, once elected, conducted foreign policy by extortion, on open cellphone lines penetrated by the Russians.

That crucial debate came while the race was still in flux. But a trio of elections the same month had given Democrats a road map. They could win in deeply red Kentucky and Louisiana, and complete the political transition in Virginia, if they backed popular plans to elevate average Americans. That, and Trump’s policies of trying to deny health care to the poor, of running up a trillion-dollar deficit to enrich a handful at the very top, of turning a blind eye to mass shootings of schoolchildren, would take down Republicans.

Sanity prevailed. Most Democrats came to see that it would do nothing for their cause to gain another million progressives on the coasts if they still lost 80,000 people in the old industrial heartland. The key, as extolled by the eventual winner, was to rebuild the Obama coalition.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/opinion/election-2020-democrats.html

Provenance Hotels Faces Backlash Over Founder's Role in Trump-Ukraine Deal

Portland, Oregon-based Provenance Hotels is mired in a public relations mess due to the role its founder and current EU U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland had in trying to broker a deal with Ukraine in exchange for a potentially damaging investigation against former Vice President Joe Biden. Since President Donald Trump canceled Sondland’s appearance before a Congressional impeachment committee on October 8, calls for a boycott of the boutique chain have gained steam.

Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, whose district includes a large swath of Portland, called for the boycott of Provenance’s properties on Twitter the next day.

“No one who cares about America should do any business or stay at any of Gordon Sondland’s hotels until he fulfills his duty as a citizen to testify & turn over all relevant documents to the House,” he tweeted.
...
Blumenauer’s statement may already be having an effect. Since the tweet appeared, artisanal ice cream maker Salt and Straw, also based in Portland, announced that it would cease selling its products in Provenance Hotels but did not cite a specific reason for the decision.

https://skift.com/2019/10/16/provenance-hotels-faces-backlash-over-founders-role-in-trump-ukraine-deal/

25-year-old politician shuts down heckler with viral phrase 'OK Boomer'



The latest viral generational clap back phrase has moved from the court of public opinion to parliament.

A young member of New Zealand parliament quickly dismissed a member of the opposition with a viral internet phrase that calls out people from the baby boomer generation with two simple words.

The generational divide in the room became clear when Chlöe Swarbrick, 25, said "OK Boomer," during her speech on climate change for the Zero Carbon Bill."

In the year 2050 I will be 56 years old. Yet right now the average age of this 52nd Parliament is 49 years old," Swarbrick said as someone off camera was heard heckling her.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/25-year-politician-boomer-speech-climate-change/story?id=66791280&cid=clicksource_4380645_null_twopack_image

Residents' health suffers in states that refused to expand Medicaid.

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — Darlene Velasco can’t afford to treat her Type 2 diabetes. She doesn’t make enough money at her job selling college sports memorabilia to pay for medication or private health insurance and, at $13.50 an hour, earns too much to qualify for Medicaid.

That’s been the case for years and without treatment, Velasco, 45, was declared legally blindin May. The disease built up cataracts in her eyes and when her vision began to blur and disappear, she found herself driving to her job that carries no health benefits steered only by the memory of the backcountry roads that surround her home.

In the state that has the highest percentage of its residents with past-due medical debt in the country, it appears that many people choose to go without, according to a study done by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation.

More than half in Mississippi said the cost of health care led them to not fill a prescription, avoid the doctor or skip a medical test, according to the study.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/residents-suffer-mississippi-13-other-states-debate-medicaid-expansion-n1075661

WaPo: Mike Pence is reliably, relentlessly wrong

The Post's View

By Editorial Board 



THE MORE undisciplined President Trump becomes in his scattershot defenses of his behavior toward Ukraine, the more robotically Vice President Pence seems to stay on message. Unfortunately, that message is an indefensible falsehood. During a television interview Monday with PBS’s Judy Woodruff, Mr. Pence said three times that anyone who reads the rough transcript of Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “will see the president did nothing wrong. There is no quid pro quo.”

The interview left us with the sense that Mr. Pence himself has not carefully read the document. As we pointed out in an editorial on Sept. 25, the day it was released, the transcript ends with a clear exchange of commitments between the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents. Mr. Zelensky promises to launch the investigations Mr. Trump had just requested of Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee; Mr. Trump responds by offering the invitation to the White House Mr. Zelensky was seeking.

More to the point, Mr. Pence appears determined to ignore the sworn testimony of senior officials who have since confirmed the quid pro quo that the White House claims doesn’t exist. The latest was National Security Council official Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who told Congresson Tuesday that he attended a July 10 meeting with a senior Ukrainian official at which an ambassador appointed by Mr. Trump, Gordon Sondland, “started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the president.”

Mr. Pence dismissed all this evidence on the grounds that it was “leaks” from secret hearings; never mind that most of the officials released their own opening statements. He criticized House Democrats for failing to hold a formal vote on impeachment proceedings and for not releasing the transcripts of testimony, even though they have announced they will do both. He seemed to believe that by mindlessly repeating the words “no quid pro quo” he could disappear the increasingly powerful case that Mr. Trump abused his office.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/mike-pence-spews-indefensible-falsehoods/2019/10/29/4943b28a-fa73-11e9-8906-ab6b60de9124_story.html

The fundamentally un-American attacks on Alexander Vindman



A documentary crew working for Ken Burns was exploring New York in the early 1980s, working on a feature about the Statue of Liberty as part of Burns’s “America” series. Near Brighton Beach, they found an elderly woman sitting on a bench with twin boys, then about 10 years old.

They'd come from Russia, from Kyiv, the twins told the camera, their explanations overlapping. “Our mother died, so we went to Italy,” one added, “and then we came here."
..
The twins, Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman, both ended up working for the White House under President Trump. Both Vindmans served in the U.S. Army, and both rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Each now works for the National Security Council.
...
The reaction to Vindman, though, reveals a fundamental hypocrisy in the Trumpian approach to immigrants. What Trump prioritizes in migrants who come to the United States is self-sufficiency and assimilation. He prefers migrants from Europe over Africa or the Middle East. What he wants is Alexander Vindmans — until Alexander Vindman points out where the loyalties of Trump himself might be questionable.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/10/29/fundamentally-un-american-attacks-alexander-vindman/

Katie Hill messed up, but she should not have resigned

The Antelope Valley freshman Democrat has been charged with no crime, is going through what appears to be a miserable divorce, has always been frank about her bisexuality, had a relationship with a member of her campaign staff, but has denied an accusation that she had an affair with a male congressional staffer when she got to Washington, D.C., earlier this year. She is now the subject of a House ethics probe.
...
If indeed she had a sexual relationship with a staffer in her congressional office, that should have earned a slap on the wrist for the 32-year-old Democrat. To show how seriously Congress takes that sort of thing, it wasn’t even until last year that the House changed its rules to prohibit relationships between members and their employees. For decades, male lawmakers got away with those sort of shenanigans. Wouldn’t you know it, the first one to fall afoul of the rule is a woman, and a bisexual woman, at that.
...
Someone released intimate photos of her that were published by the Daily Mail and the conservative website Red State, which has pursued this story with Kenneth Starr-like glee.
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There’s one more thing: Her husband, Kenneth Heslep, who says in divorce papers that he’s a stay-at-home spouse, has asked for alimony. Good luck getting it, buddy, now that her career has imploded.

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-10-27/column-katie-hill-should-not-have-resigned
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