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Member since: Sun Mar 20, 2011, 12:05 PM
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Winners and losers from the December Democratic debate


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?


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.


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.

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