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Gender: Female
Hometown: NY
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Current location: Florida
Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 08:54 PM
Number of posts: 166,198

Journal Archives

The Supreme Court Is As Complicit As the Senate


The Supreme Court Is As Complicit As the Senate
Trump’s abuses of office have been blessed by every branch of government.
By Leah Litman
Feb 10, 2020
4:44 PM

Last Tuesday, in explaining her vote to acquit Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Sen. Susan Collins suggested that the president had learned a “pretty big lesson” simply from being impeached and that he would be “much more cautious” about engaging in similar behavior again. By Friday, Trump had issued a series of firings of public officials who had testified against the president during the impeachment inquiry, demonstrating his takeaway from impeachment: He can use the powers of his office to do whatever he wants. Having gotten away with abuses of power again and again, Trump is now unleashed to continue to corruptly use the powers of his office without consequence. He has already begun to show what that will look like over the remainder of his presidency.

In legal escapades outside of the realm of impeachment, for instance, Trump and his administration have internalized the lesson that if no one will stop you, there’s no reason to stop. Less than two years ago, the Supreme Court upheld the third iteration of the president’s ban on entry by nationals of several Muslim-majority countries (the “travel ban”). By upholding the ban, the court made clear that it would not stop the president from incorporating his bigotry into official immigration policy. Since then, the president has dramatically expanded the scope of the travel ban to other countries with substantial Muslim populations and has enacted several other immigration restrictions that disproportionately disadvantage nonwhite immigrants. After receiving a pass on xenophobia, the president has continued to do it again and again. Last week, he expanded the entry ban to cover five additional countries (Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Eritrea, and Myanmar) with substantial Muslim populations. In one of those countries (Myanmar), a group of Muslims (the Rohingya) are fleeing religious persecution and genocide. The president had previously said, according to the New York Times, that Nigerians should “go back to their huts.”


With the Senate’s blessing, the president will continue to corruptly abuse the powers of his office to undermine elections and our rule of law—and, as demonstrated by the Friday Night Massacre, he will do so in even more aggressive and ostentatious ways. With the court’s blessing, the president will expand his racist, xenophobic, and anti-Muslim immigration practices with little limit to what he may try to enact.

Neither the Senate nor the Supreme Court has been willing to stand up to the president for abusing the powers of his office for personal benefit or to stoke bigotry for partisan ends. By failing to do so, they have encouraged Trump to abuse his powers even more. It is unclear what, if anything, can stop him now.

Posted by babylonsister | Mon Feb 10, 2020, 04:58 PM (8 replies)

David Corn: The Great New Hampshire Voter Freak-Out


The Great New Hampshire Voter Freak-Out
Just decide already!
David Corn

Jessica, a 29-year-old elementary teacher, is vexed, highly vexed. She stands in the gym of the high school in Lebanon, New Hampshire, holding her three-month-old daughter. A few feet away, her fidgety two-year-old son is being tended to by Jessica’s mother. Surrounded by Elizabeth Warren supporters who are waiting for the candidate to arrive for a town hall, Jessica can’t make up her mind. And it’s two days before the Granite State holds the first primary election of the 2020 presidential race. “I want to be strategic and vote for the Democrat who can win in November,” she says. And who is that? a reporter asks. “I don’t know,” she replies. “Can you tell me? Please?”

It doesn’t help Jessica to know that a great deal of New Hampshire Democratic voters share her plight. There are certainly many residents who have their man or woman. Rallies for all the candidates are full of committed supporters. But the crowds do contain a significant percentage of voters still struggling. At a Sanders event in Hanover that drew hundreds of Bernie devotees from Dartmouth University, the first row of seats contained not only the candidate’s most fervent supporters but voters, who had arrived hours earlier to be at the front of the line, who were unsure how they would vote on Tuesday. Maybe Warren. Maybe Buttigieg. Maybe Sanders. They hoped that seeing Sanders up close and personal would help them resolve what to do.

Many of the undecideds are driving themselves crazy. They say that they swing back and forth between candidates. It could be Sanders one day, Warren the next, or maybe Buttigieg, Biden, or Klobuchar. And, they report, the choice is a difficult one. That’s because many of them are trying to do the impossible. These still-pondering Granite Staters largely have one priority: removing Donald Trump from the White House. Like Jessica, they yearn to vote for the Democrat who has the best chance of booting Trump. And they believe there is a calculation to be performed that will yield a definitive answer. The problem for them—and the Democratic Party—is that there isn’t. Such an algorithm doesn’t exist.

No candidate in this pack at this point can reasonably claim that his or her case for electability is ironclad—or even far superior than those of his or her rivals. Sanders contends he can both appeal to working class voters who went for Trump and attract voters who don’t tend to vote. Perhaps. But will his standing as a democratic socialist turn away voters and provide Trump an easy line of attack? Pete Buttigieg says he can draw on his middle-America roots to pull in moderates and Republicans. It’s possible. It’s also possible his lack of experience and sexual orientation might be a no-go for general election voters. Joe Biden has the resumé and claims he can appeal to middle-class voters in key swing states. But his performance as a candidate has prompted the obvious comparison to a boxer past his prime. Warren asserts her fight against Washington and corporate corruption can resonate beyond those progressives who have long embraced her as a champion. Yet her failure to stay in the top-tier of the race raises questions. And so on.

There are no political experts—no consultants, no pundits, no pollsters—who can say which of these arguments truly bests the others. It’s all supposin’. Every night at the bar at the DoubleTree Hotel in Manchester, reporters covering the primary gather and compare notes, and no one within this group has much of a better grasp on this question than the voters they talked to that day. The bottom line is clear: There is no one Democratic candidate without an obvious potential flaw. And there is no way to measure the possible impact of these possible flaws ahead of time.


The Democratic field offers voters a wide range of choices. But when it comes to electability—a quality that cannot be easily assessed before the fact—there is no ideal candidate. Trump’s presence in the White House has caused many voters to conclude the responsible thing to do is to put aside their own policy or personal preferences to pick a candidate who can trounce Trump. Now if only they knew who that was.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Feb 10, 2020, 04:51 PM (6 replies)

Lindsey Graham Implicates William Barr in Massive Scandal, on Live Television

the national interest 10:16 A.M.
Lindsey Graham Implicates William Barr in Massive Scandal, on Live Television
By Jonathan Chait

Yesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham appeared on Face the Nation and blurted out an apparent confession of what, if true, would be a scandal of Nixonian proportions. Graham reported he had spoken with Attorney General William Barr that morning. “The Department of Justice is receiving information coming out of the Ukraine from Rudy,” he reported, explaining that Barr “told me that they’ve created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it’s verified.”

Graham explained why, in his opinion, this state of affairs is appropriate: “Rudy Giuliani is a well-known man. He’s a crime fighter. He’s loyal to the president. He’s a good lawyer.” On the contrary, he is describing an arrangement that is not only the appearance of a conflict of interest but a massive abuse on its face.

First, Giuliani is not a government official. He is representing Donald Trump as an individual, a fact he has made perfectly clear. He boasted to the New York Times last May that he was seeking to uncover “information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.” The distinction between “will” and “may” was Rudy’s open acknowledgement that he was looking out for Trump, not the U.S. government, and that the interests of the two might not be the same. He was even more clear in a letter to Ukrainian President Zelensky, which his former partner, Lev Parnas, produced. The letter stated Giuliani was representing Trump “as a private citizen, not as President of the United States”:

So, can any private citizen have their lawyer send allegations to Barr? What is this special “process” he created to let Rudy supply him with allegations? Is it a 1-800 number, a drop box, or what? Has Barr told the Democratic candidates how the process works so they can have their lawyers feed their own leads to him?
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The second problem here is that Giuliani is not only representing a presidential candidate as his personal client. He is working in close contact with foreign partners who have a combination of personal interests and foreign-policy goals that do not line up with U.S. interests. He has not disclosed who is paying him for his work, but he was paid half a million dollars by Parnas, who was in turn paid by Dymtro Firtash, a Russian oligarch whose work tends to advance Russian foreign-policy interests. This raises the strong possibility that Giuliani is effectively a paid backchannel for Russian propaganda, and he now has a special line into the Department of Justice.

Third, Giuliani himself is the reported subject of a criminal investigation. Two of his partners have already been arrested, and the Department of Justice is reportedly pursuing the possibility of charges against Giuliani as well. (He allegedly pursued his own profit-making scheme in Ukraine, and seems to have committed campaign finance violations, by funneling foreign donations to Republican allies.)


Posted by babylonsister | Mon Feb 10, 2020, 12:50 PM (55 replies)

Coronavirus Cruise Crew Pleads for Help: 'Soon We Will All Be Infected'


Coronavirus Cruise Crew Pleads for Help: ‘Soon We Will All Be Infected’
Jamie Ross
Updated Feb. 10, 2020 7:01AM ET /
Published Feb. 10, 2020 6:46AM ET

Several members of the crew trapped aboard a coronavirus-hit cruise ship off the coast of Japan have issued a desperate plea to be released. Indian crew members posted a video to Facebook on Monday in which they begged the Indian government to come and rescue them. The Washington Post named one of the crew members as Binay Kumar Sarkar, 31, who said he was one of about 160 Indian crew members on the ship. Sarkar said his team was still serving meals to passengers in their rooms three times a day but they’re all “scared who will be next.” He told the newspaper that all healthy people on board should be allowed to leave and said he fears that keeping everyone trapped on the boat means “very soon we will all be infected.” The Diamond Princess, which is docked off Yokohama, has been placed under a 14-day quarantine that will last until next week. There are over 3,700 passengers and crew onboard, and only the 136 who have tested positive for the virus have been allowed to leave for treatment.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Feb 10, 2020, 09:20 AM (15 replies)

"He got 44.8% in 2018. He suffered the worst electoral defeat in the House ever"


Quote of the Day
February 10, 2020 at 8:46 am EST By Taegan Goddard

“He got 44.8% in 2018. He suffered the worst electoral defeat in the House ever… but yet, the media is going, ‘Oh, he’s so strong, he’s so powerful, he’s so this.’ No he’s not!”

— James Carville, in an interview on MSNBC, on President Trump.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Feb 10, 2020, 09:17 AM (42 replies)

Trump to propose sweeping cuts to foreign aid, safety net programs in latest budget

Trump to propose sweeping cuts to foreign aid, safety net programs in latest budget
Trump sought in his budget proposal last year to slash foreign aid but faced steep resistance from Congress and did not prevail.
Feb. 9, 2020, 3:52 PM EST
By Reuters

WASHINGTON, Feb 9 - President Donald Trump will propose on Monday a 21 percent cut in foreign aid and slashing social safety net programs in his $4.8 trillion budget proposal for fiscal 2021, according to senior administration officials.

The budget will seek an increase in funds to counter developing economic threats from China and Russia, but will also raise funds by targeting $2 trillion in savings from mandatory spending programs in the United States.

Trump sought in his budget proposal last year to slash foreign aid but faced steep resistance from Congress and did not prevail.

Trump latest blueprint for administration spending proposals is unlikely to be passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, particularly in an election year.


Posted by babylonsister | Sun Feb 9, 2020, 04:54 PM (2 replies)

Not Having Health Care 'Incentivizes' People To Be Healthy, Says Fox News Doctor


Not Having Health Care 'Incentivizes' People To Be Healthy, Says Fox News Doctor
Robyn Pennacchia
February 08, 2020 02:53 PM


Transcript via Media Matters:

Americans are dying younger, from largely preventable disease and bad health policy decisions. And the problem that I have with this is heart disease alone costs about $230 billion to the United States, and the Affordable Care Act did nothing to help that except take away -- they took away the incentivizations for good behavior choices, by saying that however you act, whatever you do, everything's going to be covered. And so preventable illness is running rampant across the United States.


The thing is, health care is pretty much the main thing that keeps people from dying of not only preventable diseases, but of the unpreventable ones as well. You can be the biggest health fanatic on earth and you can still get cancer, you can still get MS, you can still get any of the many, many diseases that have absolutely nothing to do with being healthy. People don't get sick because they lack "personal responsibility" and to say so is both cruel and insane.

Not only that, but you can be so good and so responsible and pay your insurance premium every month for your whole life and find that, when you get sick, that whatever it is you have is not covered. And you can then lose your house. Everything is stupid and there pretty much are no rules you can follow to avoid getting totally fucked in this system. "Personal responsibility" is not saving you or protecting you anymore than wearing a corno around your neck is going to prevent me from putting the maloik on you and causing your junk to shrivel up and die.

The thing I'd really like to know though is, if Dr. Saphier thinks that being able to go to the doctor makes people less healthy, then why did she bother going to medical school to become one? Is she some kind of monster? Seeing people and giving them medical advice and treatment when she knows that all that will do is make them less personally responsible?

Doesn't seem right.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun Feb 9, 2020, 02:55 PM (34 replies)

Benjamin Wittes: The Crime of Doing the Right Thing


The Crime of Doing the Right Thing
Former National Security Council staffer Alexander Vindman joins the club of honorable people whom the president has targeted for telling the truth.
February 8, 2020
Benjamin Wittes


Unlike his boss, John Bolton, he did not withhold information from Congress, nor did he cite potential privileges that could be resolved only by court order or by book contract. Unlike Sondland, he didn’t waffle when called. Rather, along with a group of other public servants at the NSC, the State Department, and the Defense Department, he went up to Capitol Hill and told the truth.

And thus did Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman join a very special club—a motley crew of public officials who have drawn the public ire of a president of uncompromising vindictiveness for the crime of doing the right thing. It’s a club composed of former FBI officials, including two former directors of the bureau; American ambassadors; a former attorney general; some lawyers and investigators; even the former ambassador to the United States from the United Kingdom—anyone who has a line he or she won’t cross to serve Trump’s personal needs or who insists on doing his or her job by not hiding unpleasant realities.

Membership in this ever less exclusive club entitles Vindman to a number of, uh, benefits: unending, random attack by the most powerful man in the world using any of his available means of communication with the entire globe; mockery and derision by his associated media outlets, a category of abuse that in Vindman’s case includes anti-Semitic insinuations and frivolous allegations of inappropriate liaison with a foreign power; the security threats that inevitably come with such unwanted attention; damage to a distinguished career, a dramatic example of which happened yesterday; and, perhaps most unnerving of all for people who are used to anonymity, a kind of notoriety that leaves club members wondering if the person catching their eye on the street recognizes them with hatred or admiration or something else.

It is all part of a civil-liberties violation so profound that we don’t even have a name for it: the power of the president to suddenly point his finger at a random person and announce that this is the point in the story when that person’s life gets ruined.

Membership in this particular club has some genuine benefits, too. They are hokey things, such as honor and patriotism and duty. Because one thing all of the members of this particular club have in common is that—in very different ways—they all tried to do their jobs. They sought the truth. And they told the truth when called upon to do so.

In his congressional testimony, Alexander Vindman promised his father, “I will be fine for telling the truth.” It is the solemn obligation of the Pentagon and the military brass not to make a naïf of him for saying this. It is the job of the Washington policy community and the private sector to make sure that he is employable when he leaves military service—a role the community has not always played effectively with respect to members of this particular club.

And it is all of our jobs to make sure that Trump’s stigmatization does not work, to push back against his ability to turn public servants into nonpersons when honor and truth-telling displease him.
Posted by babylonsister | Sun Feb 9, 2020, 11:36 AM (1 replies)

Has anyone dealt with carpal

tunnel syndrome?

Has anyone had the surgery and are glad they did?
Posted by babylonsister | Sat Feb 8, 2020, 11:16 PM (10 replies)

America's fatal flaw: The founders assumed our leaders would have some basic decency

America's fatal flaw: The founders assumed our leaders would have some basic decency
Our democracy was founded on optimism about human nature. Amid the Trumpian wreckage, that looks like a bad bet
David Masciotra
February 8, 2020 5:15PM (UTC)

No historian or political scientist has better explained the fragility of American democracy than a poet. When I interviewed the poet Rita Dove three years ago, she offered the following assessment of exactly how a sociopathic president like Donald Trump could inflict irreparable damage on institutions of governance, and the norms — written and unwritten — that have directed them for centuries:

Much of our government seems based on trust, the assumption that people will behave like decent human beings. Yes, the founders implemented checks and balances and limits on power, but there are these loopholes that betray a belief that people will be decent. That optimism on human ethics is something I love about this country. Now, it threatens to harm us.

Decency, in other words, was a bulwark against the corrupt impulses and wicked instincts of men in power. Even Richard Nixon, who had no compunction when persecuting citizen activists or illegally bombing Cambodia, recognized that he was a participant within an important system of laws. Eventually, he was forced to surrender to those laws. Fealty to American order has also motivated unwise and harmful behavior, such as Al Gore agreeing to accept the results of an election under suspicion of fraud for the "good of the country." The erosion of faith in American institutions and their democratic objectives, Gore and Nixon appeared to believe, would create chaos — a fracturing of the public, and a collapse of the government's ability to preserve societal stability.

Faith, like decency, is intangible. It will disappear the second that people no longer honor it or act on it. As Dove explained, decency was essential to the maintenance of the rule of law and governmental functionality in the United States. The election of the most indecent man to ever hold the office of presidency in the modern era was a warning shot across the country. After mocking a disabled reporter, routinely denigrating women and providing encouragement to his "Second Amendment people" if Hillary Clinton became president, he put decency on a gun-range target. What's even more frightening is how quickly his fellow Republicans in Congress and his supporters in the media got in line, rifles in hand, to shoot holes in it.

The recent events of Trump's acquittal in the Senate, his State of the Union address and his spiteful, rambling monologue at the White House on Thursday have collectively acted as the flatline on the heart monitor of decency. As decency dies, American life becomes ever more precarious.


Posted by babylonsister | Sat Feb 8, 2020, 05:15 PM (12 replies)
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