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Ending The Work Week With The Wit And Insight Of David Sedaris

June 16, 2017

I love David Sedaris.  He is a gem.

As we leave what was a tragic and further maddening week that took us from high rises on fire to members of congress being shot at to Trump treating the nation as he does his ex-wives comes the need for something that lifts the sails.  Even if the topic is most serious.

David Sedaris.

I asked Ingrid once if she ever talked to her father about his drinking, and I think she was ashamed to answer no. Not that I or anyone in my family ever confronted my mother, no matter how bad it got. Even my dad, who’s super direct, and tells complete strangers that they’re loud or wrong or too fat for that bolero jacket, said nothing. Then again, it built so gradually. For as long as I was living at home, it never seemed a problem. It was only after five of her six children had left that she upped her quota. The single Scotch before dinner became two, and then three. Her wine intake doubled, then tripled. She was never a quality drinker—quantity was what mattered. She bought jugs, not bottles. After dinner, she’d switch to coffee, and then back to Scotch or wine, supplementing the alcohol with pills. “Mom’s dolls,” we called them.

When she told us that she would no longer drive at night, that she couldn’t see the road, we all went along with it, knowing the real reason was that by sunset she was in no shape to get behind the wheel. “Gosh,” we said. “We hope that doesn’t happen to our eyes when we’re your age.”


Will Special Congressional Election In Georgia Be Hacked?

June 16, 2017

I do not fear this latest concern.  But there are serious news operations looking into the question.

As Georgia prepares for a special runoff election this month in one of the country’s most closely watched congressional races, and as new reports emerge about Russian attempts to breach American election systems, serious questions are being raised about the state’s ability to safeguard the vote. Lamb’s discovery, which he shared out of concern that state officials and the center ignored or brushed off serious problems highlighted by his breach, is at the heart of voting activists’ fears that there’s no way to be sure the upcoming race—which pits Democratic neophyte Jon Ossoff against Republican former Secretary of State Karen Handel—will be secure. The special election has already become the most expensive House race in U.S. history and has drawn the attention of President Donald Trump, who has tweeted his support of Handel and ridiculed Ossoff, whose campaign is seen as a litmus test for the Trump resistance movement.

Wisconsin’s Republican Fued– Scott Walker Vs. Robin Vos–Gets National Play

June 16, 2017

Love when the GOP civil wars make for national news and commentary.   From Esquire.

Moving north to Wisconsin, we discover that things have gotten complicated now that Republican lawmakers have decided they’re done with Governor Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage that particular Midwest subsidiary. In response, Walker has leaned on his only real constituency: the flock of sugar daddies without whom he’d be running a bait shop outside Ashland. From The Capital Times:

In recent days, funding for K-12 schools has become another point of intraparty discord. Despite all conspiring together to enact the largest cuts to public education in state history, Walker and the legislative Republicans are now fighting among themselves over who will save our schools from the politicians’ mutual actions. Not only have Speaker Robin Vos and his fellow Assembly Republicans rolled out their own education budget, they’re criss-crossing the state holding media events to promote their repudiation of their fellow Republican, the governor. On top of it, it was reported in the news that Vos was a no-show to a backroom negotiating session with Walker and Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald due to a “previous commitment.”

Walker himself has become an insult in the war of words among legislative Republicans. (Ed Note: I love this. I truly do.) As if their education budget press conference was not provocative enough, Republican Assembly Speaker Vos attacked the Republican leader of the Senate by referring to him being a “rubber-stamp” for Governor Walker, and not in the good way.

What’s a warped hunk of presidential timber to do? Unleash the fat cats!

He has instead issued a weak, gimmicky threat to “veto the entire budget” and holds lonely roadside press conferences at which he touts his doomed transportation plan. In perhaps the most stark indication of how low Scott Walker has sunk with his fellow Republicans, he’s even had to resort to deploying longtime special interest allies to run paid advertising to convince fellow Republicans to … support a tax cut?!?!

Alas, all is not schadenfreude along the banks of Lake Monona. According to WUWM, this same state assembly signed the state up for a “convention of the states” designed to exchange James Madison and George Mason for Mark Levin and Jim DeMint.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos supports a balanced budget amendment. He says a constitutional change is necessary and blames former President Obama for increasing the national debt to $20 trillion. Vos wants people to visualize the huge number. “What is $20 trillion? It is 20 million million. It’s a two followed by 13 zeros. Laying down dollar bills end to end, you can circle the Earth 76,000 times. It would take 634,000 years to count to one trillion,” Vos says.

Ostensibly, the convention would be convened only to hamstring the federal government with The Worst Idea In American Politics. However, once called, there is nothing that guarantees it would not be used to rewrite the entire Constitution to follow the Gospel According To Koch. And, despite their demurrals, the snake-oil peddlers who are perilously close to achieving their goal know good and well this is the case. There never has been a more lethal Trojan horse than this one.

Health Care Vital Issue For Tuesday’s Special Congressional Election In Georgia

June 16, 2017

According to the recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll of this race, more than 80% of likely voters said health care is an “extremely important” or “very important” issue regarding their vote, and just 1-in-4 voters said they approved of the House health-care plan. And remember, this is the race to fill the seat vacated by Republican Tom Price, who is now Trump’s HHS secretary — and that’s another way health care is an issue in this contest.

Donald Trump “Ranting And Raving”

June 16, 2017

One of those great reads from The New Yorker.

The attacks on Mueller could be preparing the ground for Trump to fire him. But the White House is well aware that such an incendiary move would create a constitutional crisis that would probably end with Congress insisting on the appointment of another independent prosecutor. (That’s what happened in 1973, after Richard Nixon forced the Justice Department to fire Archibald Cox. Within two weeks, Leon Jaworski replaced Cox.) The Administration, therefore, might be playing a longer game. Few people in Washington think that Mueller will end up bringing charges against the President. The conventional wisdom is that, if he concludes that an obstruction case is justified, he will hand the matter over to Congress, which would then have to decide whether to impeach the President.

If that happens, the survival of Trump’s White House would depend on its ability to keep Capitol Hill Republicans in line. And one way to accomplish this is to exert pressure on them via Trump’s base. In an interview with Bloomberg View, Bob Inglis, a former G.O.P. congressman from South Carolina, explained that, even with the President’s approval rating in the thirties, his diehard supporters “can kill you in a Republican primary, which is why elected Republicans are terrified of those voters.” Trump must know that he is unlikely to convince most of the country that Mueller has an axe to grind. But it may still make sense for him to rile up viewers of Fox News, readers of Breitbart, and his own Twitter followers.

Yet there is a second way to read these attacks on Mueller. It is possible that Trump, having seen his decision to fire Comey boomerang on him in spectacular fashion, is simply ranting and raving.

CNN Correct To File Lawsuit For Comey Documents

June 16, 2017

CNN filed a lawsuit in federal court this week to force the FBI to turn over former director James Comey’s memos documenting his conversations with President Trump.

Producer Greg Wallace filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI in May, but even after an order for expedited service, the feds failed to release documents or indicate the scope of what records they will produce within the statutory time limit. Now, the cable network is suing the FBI for the documents.  I applaud this move based on the right of the public to know this material.

The FBI has yet to make the memos available or give reason for not doing so.  The right of the press to fight for these documents so to be able to report on them, and alerting the citizenry to the facts, is an essential part of the democratic process.   I would expect other news operations to join the suit or start their own for these documents.

This all stems from Comey giving testimony on June 8th before the Senate Intel Committee.  He detailed the attempts by the president to blunt or halt the FBI’s probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

The World Turning The Corner On Gay Political Leadership

June 16, 2017

When Leo Varadkar assumed power in Ireland on Wednesday, he blazed a trail of firsts: At 38 years old, the biracial son of an Indian immigrant father and Irish mother became the country’s youngest-ever prime minister.  He also became the first openly gay man elected to lead the Republic of Ireland, where homosexuality was illegal until just 24 years ago.

That was stunning news for a country that was so backwards on the issue for so long.

Now Europe’s second new gay prime minister of the week will soon take power–this time in Serbia. The country is set to get its first female and openly gay PM after President Aleksandar Vučić announced he had given Ana Brnabić, a 41-year-old local government minister, the mandate to form a new government.

It is refreshing that some in the international community see the wisdom of turning the page on bigotry by now embracing the best and brightest to shape governments and policy-making regardless of sexual persuasions.

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