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Tuesday :: February 04, 2020

Trump's SOTU

Donald Trump sounds just like Alec Baldwin.

Is anyone listening to this bubbe meise?

If he touts Kushner's peace plan, I bet he neglects the direct threats ISIS made in response via an audio message released this week. ISIS is promising a world boom, not just a blue-collar boom.

Update: Trump claims great credit for the First Step Act -- a bill that excludes relief for deportable immigrants. What kind of reform is that? It's really not a progressive bill at all . (Trump's son in law Jared Kushner knows only slightly more about federal criminal justice than he does about Middle East peace solutions. [More...]

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Partial Iowa Caucus Results Announced

Approximately 2/3 (62%) of the Iowa Results were just released:

Poular vote

  • Sanders first place 28,200, 190 more than
  • Pete B. with 27, 030
  • Elizabeth, Biden, Klobuchar, Yang next

Percentage of state delegates among these 62% (41 total):

  • Pete, 26.9
  • Sanders, 25.1
  • Warren 18.3
  • Biden, 15.6
  • Klobuchar 12.6

It looks to me that Biden lost 2,000 popular votes from the first to second round because he didn't hit the 15% threshold, and those 2,000 votes went to the other candidates. Andrew Yang got 5,750 votes in the first round and 4,636 of those votes went to the other candidates.

Summary: Biden is the biggest loser in these first results. [More...]

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Monday :: February 03, 2020

"Reporting Problems" Delay Iowa Results

All eyes are on Iowa for tonight's caucus results. But problems with reporting have delayed the results .

Iowa is complicated. I remember from 2008 that the caucus I attended was like musical chairs. First everyone goes to their part of the auditorium where someone is holding their candidate's sign. After a preliminary vote, the candidates who didn't get 15% were eliminated. Then the hard bargaining begins with the candidates who made the cut vying for the votes of the losers' supporters. Then they voted again. Edwards and Hillary ended up being 7 votes apart, state-wide. Nobody got any actual delegates -- what they got were delegates to the state convention which in June, 2008 picked national delegates.

This year the rules changed so things are even murkier. As the New York Times reports: [More...]

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Sunday :: February 02, 2020

Superbowl Time: Open Thread

Will JLo and Shakira be great as Superbowl half-time performers? Will anyone ever top Michael Jackson's 1993 performance?

As for commercials, I have never remembered a single one other than the one with Cindy Crawford and I didn't see it while watching the Superbowl but years later on late night tv.

For those of you watching, feel free to share your thoughts. (I am not watching the game but have it playing on a TV in another room so I know when half-time begins -- the crowd sounds really loud). For those of you not watching, here's an open thread, all topics welcome. [More...]

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Tuesday :: January 28, 2020

Tuesday Open Thread

Donald Trump's lawyers are a snooze. Listening to disjointed Sekolow is like listening to talk radio. Yesterday the lawyer I was listening to in the car who talked about the legal intent of the impeachment clause of the Constitution was very articulate but I thought his citing of the Federalist papers and quotes were selective and didn't paint a fair picture. He kept saying the House didn't give Trump a chance to fight the subpoenas in court before jumping to impeachment. Wasn't it Donald Trump's responsibility to go to court and seek to quash the subpoenas on privilege grounds? Did he do that? (I don't know the answer but I don't remember reading about a legal challenge).

Also, the lawyer kept repeating the equivalent of "good faith reliance upon advice of counsel" as a defense for Trump. Is that a defense to abuse of power? In criminal cases, that defense is usually limited to specific rather than general intent crimes (willfully vs knowingly). I don't see the willful intent in abuse of power (as opposed to obstruction of Congress by disobeying subpoenas but I'm following this sporadically so I may have missed something.

Trump lawyer Pam Bondi's attempts to smear the Bidens will likely only work with diehard Trump supporters who are already conspiracy theorists. But I still don't want Biden to be the nominee based on his horrendous 25 year record on crime legislation. (Bill Clinton has at least admitted the 1994 crime bill was a mistake.) [More...]

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Donald Trump's Staged Peace Plan Announcement

Donald Trump must be desperate to misdirect the world's attention from his impeachment trial. Today he upstaged his defense counsel by holding a presser with Benjamin Natanyahu to announce his middle-east peace plan.

He called it a two party solution but it is not.

Via the New York Times:

Rather than a serious blueprint for peace, analysts called it a political document by a president in the middle of an impeachment trial working in tandem with a prime minister under criminal indictment and facing his third election in a year in barely over a month.

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Sunday :: January 26, 2020

R.I.P. Kobe Bryant, Daughter Gianna and 7 Others

Really shocking and sad news today that basketball legend Kobe Bryant, age 41, and his 13 year old daughter Gianna, as well as a teammate of Gianna's and her parent, a pilot, a baseball coach for a community college and others were killed in a helicopter crash today in Los Angeles. The New York Times has updates here.

You don't have to be a basketball fan to be stunned and saddened by this news. Heartfelt condolences to his wife Vanessa and their other children, Kobe's parents, former teammates, Gianna's friends and teammates and everyone who felt a special connection to them. As well as to the families of the pilot and other passengers on the plane.

May they all Rest in Peace. [More...]

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Friday :: January 24, 2020

Adam Schiff Superstar

It is hard to think of enough accolades for Adam Schiff's many presentations at the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Update: An hour after writing this I have to take him to task for his cheap dig at criminal defendants in general. ("We all know if a defendant says he didn't do it, he didn't do it." (/snark)). Many who say they didn't do it in fact did not do it. Check the stats of the Innocence Project.) A much better way to make that argument is "It is true that some criminal defendants who insist they didn't do it in fact did not do it. Donald Trump would not be one of them."

Added: One other quibble: Schiff ended with the concept of a fair trial and said "Give America a fair trial." Sorry, but the Sixth Amendement guarantees a fair trial to the accused, the defendant on trial -- not crime victims. In fact, almost all of the Bill of the Ribhts is for the protection of the accused, not to protect crime victims.)

Republicans are too scared for their own hides to buck the Republican Party line. So Donald Trump won't be impeached. If they had an ounce of integrity they would vote to find Donald Trump's impeachment charges are high crimes and misdemeanors and have been proven. The penalty is not up to them, it's written in the Constitution. He shall be removed from office.

There can be only one way to make up for this, and that is for a Democrat to win the presidency in 2020 and appoint an attorney general who will seek and obtain an indictment against Donald Trump and Rudy Guiliani for the actions they undertook with respect to the Ukraine.

One small consolation: Donald Trump will never overturn the moniker that will forever be attached to his name: Donald Trump, impeached by the House of Representatives.

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Tuesday :: January 21, 2020

Trump on Trial: Day One

Donald Trump's impeachment trial begins with arguments about the rules. Here is the House Manager's Statement on McConnell's rules. The New York Times reports that McConnell made two modifications after objections: there will be three rather than two days of opening statements and all the documents and evidence from the House proceeding will be entered in the Senate proceedings. The amended version of Sen. Res. 483 is here.

The House Brief and Statement of Facts is here. It's reply to Trump's trial brief is here. [More...]

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Monday :: January 20, 2020

NYTimes Passes Over Biden and Bernie. Picks Both Women

The New York Times has made its endorsements for Democratic candidate for President. It's picked two candidates, independently. (i.e., the Times is not suggesting a two women ticket). And those candidates are: Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

“There will be those dissatisfied that this page is not throwing its weight behind a single candidate, favoring centrists or progressives,” the board writes. “But it’s a fight the party itself has been itching to have” since Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016, “and one that should be played out in the public arena and in the privacy of the voting booth.”

.... “Ms. Klobuchar and Ms. Warren right now are the Democrats best equipped to lead that debate. May the best woman win.”

I agree. [More...]

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Sunday :: January 19, 2020

Prince Harry Speaks: He is Sad

Prince Harry today publicly addressed his sadness at not being able to continue working for the Crown as he and Meghan branch out to live their own lives.

Her Majesty the Queen issued this statement yesterday. It is followed by a statement from Buckingham Palace with the what Harry and Meghan are giving up. In addition to their titles and public funds, they have requested to repay the Crown for the cost of remodeling their residence at Frogmore Cottage ($1.3 million) which will continue to be their home when in England.

As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties.

[More...]

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Thursday :: January 16, 2020

Thursday Open Thread

Time for a new open thread. I know there's lots of attention being paid to the impeachment and Ukraine matters, but surely other things are happening.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Senate Begins Trump Impeachment Trial

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts swore in the members of the Senate today as the impeachment trial of Donald Trump begins.

With great pomp and circumstance, the articles of impeachment were brought in by a team of 7 Democrats, and prior to reading them Adam Schiff called out:

“Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye,” the sergeant-at-arms declared, using language from another era to admonish the senators not to speak while Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, prepared to read the articles aloud. “All persons are commanded to keep silent upon pain of imprisonment.”

Also today, a GAO report was released finding that Donald Trump broke the law in withholding aid to the Ukraine.

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Guiliani Time: A Roast, a Strikeout or Just Toast?

The Parnas documents disclosed by the House y are pretty devastating to Rudy Giuliani and by implication, to Donald Trump. They are available here.

The worst may be that it appears from released text messages between Parnas and Robert Hyde that the former Ukranian ambassador Yovanovitch, who was fired by Trump, was being physically tracked. No wonder she testified she felt she was in danger. The Ukranian Government has initiated a criminal investigation to look into this.

But wait, like any good infomercial, There's More! Lev Parnas has completely broken with Trump and Rudy, says Trump was aware of the plan to get the Ukraine government to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, and that he's now eager to cooperate fully with the Government. [More...]

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Tuesday :: January 14, 2020

Des Moines Debate: Six to Compete

The Democrats will debate tonight. You can watch at CNN. Those who will be on the stage:

Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Pete Buttigieg
Amy Klobuchar
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Tom Steyer

Who will glow and who will fade?
Will Bernie and Elizabeth make up?
Will Pete aim his fire at Biden?
Why are Amy and Steyer still here?

I'm glad Wolf Blitzer is moderating. [More...]

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