Thursday Open Thread

It feels like one day till Doomsday.
I wonder whether protesters will outnumber supporters. I can't think of anyone I would stand in the rain without an umbrella for in 40 degree weather just to see take an oath -- let alone someone I only feel ridicule for.

I'm tuning out Trump. And most American news.
I have lots of backups of Caribbean Life and House Hunters International on HGTV I haven't seen yet, and I'm behind on my episodes of El Chema and James Corden. I should be able to sail through Monday and the Unfestivities without reading or watching a single thing about the UnPresident.

Reading news from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, China Mexico and Latin and South America is actually interesting -- it's a much more productive, educational and less angst-ridden way to spend my time than watching the most unprepared, emotionally immature, bizarre person ever take charge of our country.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

< Obama's Final News Conference
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Path for Democrats (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by TrevorBolder on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 05:38:04 AM EST

    Interesting take on demographics, gerrymandering, and self gerrymanering

    The strategy would require a dramatic realignment of political resources away from the traditional battlegrounds. And Democrats would likely need to re-prioritize immigration reform (Arizona) and issues important to African-American voters (Georgia), which may make it harder for the party to reclaim white working class voters.

    No matter what, Democrats will need to reinforce their decaying state and local party apparatuses to build power outside cities. Conservatives understood the importance of these down-ballot races years ago and have invested heavily in them, while Democrats tended to concentrate on the presidency and interest-group specific causes.

    Party leaders seem to have recognized the error and have the new Obama-backed effort to win state legislatures ahead of the next round of redistricting in 2020. If successful, the party will lessen the headwind of Republican gerrymandering, though they will still have their own self-gerrymandering to worry about.

    Mostly people (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 07:42:14 AM EST
    are going to have to learn through the school of hard knocks. Apparently George W. Bush was not enough and the lesson is going to have to be taught again to voters. There's going to be no Obama for the GOP to point at so the voters are going to be looking straight at the GOP and holding them accountable for everything. It seems they are getting the message already with Trump's numbers. Too late though to finally realize what a putz Trump is.

    Trump is like W in many ways (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by MKS on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 08:38:26 AM EST
      1.  Both were touted as having business and executive experience.
       2. Both were touted as being different kinds of conservatives and having a "common" touch;  Bush was someone you could have a beer with, and Trump was a populist who could communicate with WWC.
       3. Bush was a compassionate conservative while Trump is populist conservative.
       4. But both still adhered to conservative orthodoxy if cutting taxes for the wealthy.
       5.  Both will increase spending in a bid for popularity--Bush with Prescription Drugs and Trump with infrastructure spending.
       6.  Both start out saying they will have a less interventionist foreign policy.
       7.  Both sneer at having education, expertise and experience and go by "their gut."

    And both lost polular vote (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by MKS on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 08:43:46 AM EST
    The above comparison (none / 0) (#12)
    by MKS on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 08:46:10 AM EST
    assumes a benign Trump who acts like a decent human being.  But I don't see any evidence of that in my opinion.  Trump is uniquely unqualified and dangerous.

    Why (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by FlJoe on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 08:44:11 AM EST
    is this not a big story? FBI and 5 other agencies investigating possible covert payouts to Trump from Kremlin
    The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said.

    Note the timeline
    The informal, inter-agency working group began to explore possible Russian interference last spring, long before the FBI received information from a former British spy hired to develop politically damaging and unverified research about Trump, according to the sources,

    We apparently have two independent paths of investigation pointing in the same direction, fancy that.

    This may be what John Lewis (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 12:15:19 PM EST
    Is speaking of that was learned at the classified briefing. He said if Americans knew what Congress now knows they would completely understand not attending the inauguration.

    Because it is still classified and under investigation, all the news agencies are probably having difficulty meeting their verification requirements swiftly.


    Legitimate questions (none / 0) (#1)
    by TrevorBolder on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 05:32:34 AM EST
    regarding NATO.

    http://tinyurl.com/gpbwck3   The Week

    Probably the most famous answer was given by Lord Ismay, the first secretary general of NATO. He quipped that the purpose of the alliance was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down."

    If that's what NATO is for, then much of what the alliance has been doing for the past 20 years would have to be described as "off-mission." So would Trump's call for NATO to "focus on terrorism," for that matter. But if the original mission no longer makes sense, perhaps the organization needs a new mission -- or it needs to be scrapped. So: Is the original mission obsolete?

    Perhaps better described... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 07:40:52 AM EST
    Communism out, Capitalism in, and Fascism down.

    Now that Russia (and maybe us) are fascists, Europe should keep NATO and boot our sorry arses. Problem there is we got all the weapons.

    This is what happens Europe, when you leave your defense in the hands of a quirky electoral college.


    Oh Fer pucks sake (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 03:53:39 PM EST
    We don't have all the weapons. I have no idea where you come up with stuff sometimes dog.

    Not a legitimate question, since (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Jack E Lope on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 10:48:11 AM EST
    ...the question quoted is based on a quip by someone who was not involved in the creation of NATO, who was selected in haste, and who did not define "a mission" for NATO.  Treating it as a mission statement is quite a stretch.

    The important part of your quote:

    If that's what NATO is for...

    However, since NATO last published a 10-year mission statement in 2010 (updated 2012, apparently), I supposed we could say that the original mission is obsolete, and can not be used to measure the actions of today's NATO.


    One of the key ideas (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by MKS on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 11:45:04 AM EST
    was to avoid another war in Europe, after two World Wars.

    It is amazing that Trump thinks he has a mandate to dismantle NATO and the EU.  The campaign was really about that?  (Setting aside the fact that he lost the popular vote and thus has no mandate for anything.

    What do we get for giving Putin his wish list?  Help fighting ISIS?   Really?  What would he do to help?  Giving away the Ukraine and throwing away NATO is worth Putin's saying he will help with ISIS?

    And Russia will help with terrorism generally?  How so?  We have avoided a major coordinated attack in the U.S. since 9/11.  We have had lone wolf single shooter attacks from home grown terrorists.  And Russia would help with those how?

    The GOP has shown how far it will sell its soul to support Trump--giving up on all their national security positions appears to be on one area they will gladly give up.  But there is probably more.

    The GOP has shown it has no soul.


    As though Ukraine was ever ours to give away. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 12:20:09 PM EST
    In any event, I believe that the key test for Trump's commitment to the NATO alliance will likely come with Putin's designs on Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, three small countries which Russia clearly covets, but which are also members of NATO for that very reason.

    Two (none / 0) (#3)
    by FlJoe on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 06:30:24 AM EST
    out of three ain't bad to
    keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down
     I don't know about keeping Germany down, we did spend a lot of money and effort to rebuild them as a capitalist democracy, but. You could argue that America has spent too much to stay "in" but it has definitely paid off better than much of our other military, that is if you consider keeping the Russians out a worthwhile goal.

    The new mission (none / 0) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 07:36:43 AM EST
    would be against Putin it would seem. Since Republicans have embraced Putin full on I know they do not see that as a worthy goal.

    The question is (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 08:39:19 AM EST
    what does the American citizen see as a threat?

    "The Russians stole Hillary's coronation!" doesn't seem to be working as a call to arms despite the new Cold Warriors in the Democratic environs anxious to use that as the reason Trump won the election.

    "They did bad things and must be contained!" from the Republican Old Guard hasn't flipped many Bics either.

    I have watched this for 58 years and it was hard enough to keep the public focused on an external threat when the Soviets were actually saying they would bury us, seizing countries in Europe, installing missiles in Cuba and fostering revolutions to the south of our borders.

    What the public sees as a threat is radical Islam. While its attacks, threats and invasions may be seen as our fault by the people who worry over Russia the public views it otherwise. The continual flood of improperly vetted "refugees" into Europe paints as clear a picture of grave problems to come as did Hitler's early moves. Yet we import our own and if we complain we're lectured on the need for "diversity" to atone for our support for the former colonial powers.

    So Trump finds himself much like FDR. He finds us facing an external group, who has many internal American supporters, that wants to destroy us for "religious" reason. In the meantime he has a Russia that is also threatened by the "new Germany," radical Islam, but wants to take back what it lost in the Cold War while defending itself from radical Islam.

    To that end Putin has made some smart moves in the ME that may be more successful than Stalin's treaty with Germany.

    What we need is for the radical Islamists in Iran and the rest of the witches brew of terrorists to convince Putin that he must first defend against them and that he needs us to help.  

    And after that he can continue his own attempt at world dictatorship.

    Lend Lease anyone?


    Oh dear GAWD ... (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Yman on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 08:45:56 AM EST
    So Trump finds himself much like FDR. He finds us facing an external group, who has many internal American supporters, that wants to destroy us for "religious" reason

    What a crock.  ISIS does not have "many internal American supporters".  You guys have just switched from a Red Scare to a Muslim Scare.


    ... in which they just fill in the blanks with the name of their self-perceived threat du jour, and then run with it. They sure know how to push their base's fear buttons.

    jim don't bait people (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 01:28:43 PM EST
    you know readers here do not agree with  you and you are now just regurgitating things that are baseless, make us yawn or want to scroll through. If you have a substantive comment or news event you'd like to bring up, by all means do it. But you really need to find another blog if all you want to do is argue. It's 2017 and no one wants to listen to that stuff anymore or debate it.

    No one wants to debate war, peace, Russia, (none / 0) (#36)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 04:29:41 PM EST
    the ME and how that all relates to our internal politics?

    Well we use to have some great discussions but if things have changed it's your blog.


    Actually, we used to have (none / 0) (#38)
    by jondee on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 04:48:50 PM EST
    a lot of interesting posters here who said either the troll goes or I go.

    Being chosen to channel the voice (none / 0) (#14)
    by jondee on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 10:55:57 AM EST
    and bear the burdens, cares, and worries of "the public" sounds like a full-time job, Jim.

    Your imagined ability to have your finger on the nation's pulse and know precisely what everyone is concerned about here puts one in mind of when Louis IV said "I am the state".

    The Cold War paranoia is a very misleading and disingenuous analogy for the current state of affairs.

    It's hard to believe you need to have this explained to you, but the issue isn't that Russia specifically interfered in the election, but that Any foreign government would be allowed to freely interfere in and sabotage a national election here.

    Yours and the Right's bankrupt, power-hungry "Any enemy of my enemy is my friend" mentality further feeds into the perception amongst other peoples that the U.S is a country in which the power is primarily in the hands of cutthroats and cynics.

    And then you wonder why anyone would want to attack us.



    Dr. Neal Milner, professor emeritus of ... (none / 0) (#31)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 03:51:55 PM EST
    ... political science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, notes the distinct difference between willful ignorance, in which one adheres stubbornly to a personal belief regardless of any and all evidence to the contrary, and knowledgeable ignorance, in which one is fully cognizant of what one does NOT know about a given subject and seeks further information accordingly:

    Honolulu Civil Beat | January 19, 2017
    Politics Works When We Embrace Right Kind Of Ignorance - "As psychologists have shown time and again, our core values powerfully drive the way we think and learn about politics. These values are quite stable. We avoid information that challenges or contradicts these values. If we do consider the information, it is usually not to accept it but to argue with it. These core beliefs are your guides. They are also your blinders. That goes for ordinary folks as well as for politicians, who in fact are more likely to have well-formed ideologies that are even harder to change. That may in be our nature, but so are other things like curiosity, self-awareness, and skepticism toward authority."

    It's worth a read.


    The essence of political onservativism (none / 0) (#42)
    by jondee on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 05:10:26 PM EST
    is the conviction that the most important things that we need to know, we know already.

    So much for openness, curiosity, and tolerance for novel experiences and new perspectives.


    "Fostering Revolutions to the South" (none / 0) (#15)
    by MKS on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 11:27:28 AM EST
    What do you know about that?

    Which revolution to the South did the Soviets foster?

    The rest of your post is frankly weird. It makes no sense.


    WTF? (none / 0) (#18)
    by FlJoe on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 11:58:35 AM EST
    To that end Putin has made some smart moves in the ME that may be more successful than Stalin's treaty with Germany.
    I know you like to airbrush history, but forgetting such minor details like Operation Barbarossa is quite a heavy lift, even for  the best revisionists.

    But then again I suppose anything less then 30 million deaths could be considered "more successful".


    Yeah (none / 0) (#22)
    by jondee on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 12:25:45 PM EST
    May be more successful than Stalin's treaty with Germany.

    Ain't that a load off.

    And Putin's made some deals with the Republicans that may be as supportive of democracy as Stalin's treaty with Germany.


    Airbrush history? That's an understatement. (none / 0) (#28)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 03:26:34 PM EST
    Through the far right's ideological lens, U.S. history becomes a gross caricature not unlike Mae West in Sextette.

    Yeah, nothing has changed since (none / 0) (#30)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 03:49:26 PM EST

    Drain the Swamp (none / 0) (#16)
    by FlJoe on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 11:44:22 AM EST
    The omission was largely his real estate (none / 0) (#21)
    by Green26 on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 12:25:36 PM EST
    A co-op in New York City, a residence in Southampton, NY, a residence in Los Angeles, and $15 million in Mexican real estate holdings.

    Looks like he probably didn't realize that real estate was to be included.

    Or, maybe he's just not very good with numbers. Ha.


    At Mnuchin's level, it's inexcusable. (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 02:00:13 PM EST
    When I worked as senior staff for State House leadership, I was required by law to disclose my assets and holdings to the State Ethics Commission, which of course included real estate.

    With some of our Treasury Secretary-wannabe's financial stature, I would assume that he has people on his personal payroll whose job it is to track and report this stuff. Therefore, how does $100 million in personal assets just fall through the cracks?

    If this guy apparently can't be bothered to ensure his own compliance with the most basic of ethics disclosure law, is he really the man for this particular job?

    The computer says, "No."


    A Trump quote today (none / 0) (#34)
    by Green26 on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 04:08:47 PM EST
    "We have by far the highest I.Q. of any cabinet ever assembled,"

    There you have it. I assume it's a well-researched stat. Ha. Even better than the Best and the Brightest.

    Or, maybe he doesn't know the difference between net worth and IQ.


    Facebook Führer Mark Zuckerberg ... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 03:15:08 PM EST
    ... barges into Hawaii and announces to everyone that he's a major league a$$hole:

    Honolulu Star-Advertiser | January 18, 2017
    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sues to force land sales - "When Facebook's co-founder Mark Zuckerberg paid around $100 million for 700 acres of rural beachfront land on Kauai two years ago to create what Forbes magazine described as a secluded family sanctuary, he actually acquired a not-so-secluded property. Close to a dozen small parcels within Zuckerberg's Kauai estate are owned by kama'aina families who have rights to traverse the billionaire's otherwise private domain. Now the Facebook CEO is trying to enhance the seclusion of his property by filing several lawsuits aimed at forcing these families to sell their land at a public court auction to the highest bidder."

    For the record, we're talking about 14 separate kuleana plots on eight acres of land within Zuckerberg's vast Kauai estate that are owned by local Hawaiian families, in most instances since the 1850s. Per state law that was grandfathered from the days of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the owners of these parcels have the inherent right to traverse the tech billionaire's land in order to reach their own respective properties, and Zuckerberg would be in breach of that law should he attempt to impede or deny them that right.

    Because this lawsuit involves kuleana lands, a little background is in order. Per the late Native Hawaiian language scholars Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert, whose definitive "Hawaiian Dictionary" has legal standing whenever the meaning of Native Hawaiian terminology is in dispute, kuleana translates roughly in English as one's own sense of personal privilege, responsibility, and ownership of property and business.

    Kuleana lands emerged out of a critical juncture in Hawaiian history, when King Kamehameha III had first responded to increasing economic pressure from foreigners who sought to control land by fundamentally changing the land tenure system to a westernized paper title system. The lands were formally divided among the King and his chiefs, and the fee titles were recorded in the royal government's Mahele book.

    Lands granted in accordance with the 1848 Mahele law promulgated by the King were also "subject to the rights of native tenants," usually native Hawaiian tenant farmers who already worked and resided on portions of those lands. In 1850, Kamehameha III further clarified his intent by promulgating a new law which allowed these "native tenants" to claim fee simple title to the lands they worked. Those who did so successfully thus acquired what is known as a kuleana.

    Therefore, because this involves Native Hawaiian land rights dating back to the Great Mahele, at least in part, the Hawaii judiciary is going to move very gingerly on this issue and if any of the kuleana families move to contest Zuckerberg's lawsuit, judges will likely rule in their favor, the Facebook CEO's celebrity mogul status notwithstanding.

    Local residents -- particularly on Kauai -- tend to be very welcoming of recently arrived newcomers by general nature, but they also take a very dim view of outsiders who would attempt to dictate to their new neighbors how things ought to be. If Mark Zuckerberg desires to seek goodwill from Kauai residents, he's chosen a very strange way to show it.


    Zuckerberg seems to be one of the eight (none / 0) (#29)
    by desertswine on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 03:44:30 PM EST
    richest men in the world who own as much as the poorest half of the planet.

    1. Bill Gates: America founder of Microsoft (net worth $75 billion)
    2. Amancio Ortega: Spanish founder of Inditex which owns the Zara fashion chain (net worth $67 billion)
    3. Warren Buffett: American CEO and largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway (net worth $60.8 billion)
    4. Carlos Slim Helu: Mexican owner of Grupo Carso (net worth: $50 billion)
    5. Jeff Bezos: American founder, chairman and chief executive of Amazon (net worth: $45.2 billion)
    6. Mark Zuckerberg: American chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Facebook (net worth $44.6 billion)
    7. Larry Ellison: American co-founder and CEO of Oracle  (net worth $43.6 billion)
    8. Michael Bloomberg: American founder, owner and CEO of Bloomberg LP (net worth: $40 billion)

    Both Zuckerberg and Ellison ... (none / 0) (#35)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 04:12:00 PM EST
    ... have significant property holdings here in the islands. Ellison, in fact, owns most of the island of Lanai.

    And Pierre Omidyar, who founded eBay and Honolulu Civil Beat, lives most of the year in Honolulu and on the Kona side of the Big Island. Alas, his net worth is but a paltry $8.1 billion.

    Other wealthy Hawaii full-time and part-time residents have included the late Doris Duke (whose Diamond Head estate is now a museum devoted to Islamic Art), the late George Harrison, Neil Young, Terry Bradshaw, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oprah Winfrey, Carol Burnett, Julia Roberts, Beyoncé and Jay Z.



    My understanding of Hawaii is (none / 0) (#33)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 04:04:18 PM EST
    He has crossed an unforgivable line?

    Zuckerberg will have indeed done so ... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 04:45:48 PM EST
    ... if he actually presses forward with this lawsuit, at least in my opinion. I'm rather surprised that the Honolulu law firm he retained in this matter, Cades Schutte, agreed to represent him. It must've been the money.

    The late George Harrison similarly ran afoul of local land-use law on Maui when he physically blocked longstanding public easement to the coastline across his 68-acre east Maui property near Nahiku, and thus denied access to local Native Hawaiian residents who depend in part on the sea for their sustenance and livelihood.

    That move did not endear Harrison to Maui's Native Hawaiian community, and those residents subsequently took him to court, where he lost decisively when the judge ordered the barriers removed. The matter was subsequently settled to everyone's satisfaction when Harrison agreed to deed to Maui County another public easement to Kapukaulua Point, exchange for title to the original easement, which actually ran only 100 feet behind his house.

    The preservation of existing Native Hawaiian property and gathering rights is a very big deal out here, and rightly so. The primary difference between indigenous rights here and those held by native peoples on the U.S. mainland is that Hawaii, in a previous life, had long been an independent country when the U.S. took over in 1898.

    Thus, laws were already on the books which specifically protected those rights. You can't block Native Hawaiians' access to either the sea or the mountains, you can't dam up a river or stream and reserve the water for your own exclusive use, and nobody can exclusively "own" a beach or shoreline.



    This is an interesting post, nice. (none / 0) (#40)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 05:03:26 PM EST
    Here is what Zuckerberg said:

    "The land is made up of a few properties. In each case, we worked with the majority owners of each property and reached a deal they thought was fair and wanted to make on their own.

    "As with most transactions, the majority owners have the right to sell their land if they want, but we need to make sure smaller partial owners get paid for their fair share too.

    "In Hawaii, this is where it gets more complicated. As part of Hawaiian history, in the mid-1800s, small parcels were granted to families, which after generations might now be split among hundreds of descendants. There aren't always clear records, and in many cases descendants who own 1/4% or 1% of a property don't even know they are entitled to anything.

    "To find all these partial owners so we can pay them their fair share, we filed what is called a 'quiet title' action. For most of these folks, they will now receive money for something they never even knew they had. No one will be forced off the land."

    Trump likes him some billionaires... (none / 0) (#27)
    by desertswine on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 03:23:45 PM EST
    Come back Geno.

    Donald Trump has reportedly tapped New York Jets owner Woody Johnson as the next ambassador to the United Kingdom, breaking a campaign promise not to appoint political donors to negotiate with other countries.

    What the eff is Paul Ryan talking about? (none / 0) (#39)
    by jondee on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 04:59:26 PM EST
    Does he even know?

    "The hollowing out of our military".

    That brief statement in itself fairly well encompasses the truly monumental level of  bullsh*t today's GOP runs on.

    Well, at least they believe in deregulation, lower taxes, and that this is a "Christian nation". Who cares what else they do. Right?

    Our military maintains upwards of 700 bases around the world.

    What other country even scratches the surface of that kind of presence?

    El Chapo extradited to U.S. (none / 0) (#41)
    by Michael Masinter on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 05:09:29 PM EST
    The Washington Post and CNN both report Mexico has extradited El Chapo to the United States.  He'll need a good criminal defense lawyer.

    How cool would it be if J got the gig... (none / 0) (#43)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Jan 19, 2017 at 05:20:08 PM EST