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Comment of the Day: “Lawyers don’t become lawyers to follow the law.”

2018-12-13
Fourteen
Boston

@Andrew Lawyers don’t become lawyers to follow the law. They’re paid to use their knowledge of the law (which is not black and white) to skirt and break the law with a high degree of plausible deniability. The primary goal is to keep yourself and your client out of jail, while producing more money than your $600/hour fee. Top ranked CEO’s do the same. Dumping hazardous waster in a river has a high ROI, usually even if they get caught and fined. CPA’s find gray areas of IRS rulings that can be exploited for gain. Big Pharma pushes untested drugs on the market with a budgeted line item to cover lawsuits. Wall Street lobbies for laws to reimburse their risks. It’s all about offloading costs onto the general public and avoiding responsibility – that’s how to jack your ROI. We live in a corporatocracy, not a democracy. This country has changed; it is now designed to benefit the corporations and their owners, at the expense of the People.

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US Senate fires shot across president’s bow, passing resolution to end US support for war in Yemen 56-41; a veto-proof majority won’t occur until 2019 and the House can’t act ’til then anyway.

2018-12-13

A few minutes ago, the Senate voted 56-41 in favor of a resolution that requires the military to remove troops from Yemen within 30 days unless they were directly fighting al-Qaeda.  In order to over-ride an expected veto, the Senate would need 67 votes, plus the House has to approve as well, so prospects of this resolution becoming law are quite remote.  So this resolution is more symbolic than realistic.  Under the circumstances, it is a terrible defeat for the Republicans, who expect their members to vote in lock-step with the party point of view– being whatever he thinks it is at any given moment.

This is a sign that the Republican Party can no longer claim monolithic support for its policies, and Saudi Arabia may, just may, be induced to end their war in Yemen as a condition of receiving American war aid.  I’m merely saying that it is only just for us to tell the Saudis that they can’t use our weapons for mass murder of Yemenis.  Of course, a precondition for achieving that kind of outcome is a skilled negotiator on our side… so good luck with that, America.

(photo courtesy of mqadasi on pixabay.com)

Jamal Khashoggi: “Everyone is in a state of confusion and helplessness, there is no one you can go to. God help us.”

2018-12-05

There is no way to atone for this murder.  It was a state crime, authorized at the highest level (MBS, the prince regent), and it was said to be unusually grisly.  There doesn’t seem to be a body, which testifies to the murder’s brutal thoroughness.  As a country, as a nation, all patriotic Americans who love liberty and the rule of law should recoil in disgust.  What does our leader do?  He emphasizes those gigantic trade deals and lies again about their size.  Our shame is complete.

If the publicity surrounding the death of Jamal Khashoggi should force a reassessment and a truce in the war in Yemen, then maybe some good will come out of this.  But in order to do that, the Senate has to put pressure on the president and the president has to make a deal with the Saudis to get to the truce table in Yemen for our continued good will– and make it stick with restriction of our arms supplies and logistics.  Nobody says we have to abandon them, but we do need to put pressure on them to stop the war and give relief to the people of Yemen.  Can our president do that?

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

Comment of the Day: “If irony were a crime the man who started the “Lock her up” chant would do some serious time regardless of his assistance.”

2018-12-05
Rick Gage
Mt Dora

If irony were a crime the man who started the “Lock her up” chant would do some serious time regardless of his assistance.

Commenting on an article about Mueller’s proposal to sentence Flynn to time served for his co-operation and the serious implications for Individual 1, who is shown to have been lying every time he denied any connections to Russia.

(the image comes to us courtesy of pixabay.com as usual.)

He who must not be named has a new nom de plume: “Individual 1.”

2018-12-03

As if you needed any proof, a tentative but direct line has been drawn by the Guardian between Russia and Trump: Manafort visited Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London just about the time, in 2016, when Manafort accepted a job, without pay, as the head of he who must not be named’s election campaign.  Assange has been named as the recipient of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee donated by Russian agents.   No other newspaper has confirmed this account, and of course both Assange and Manafort deny that such an event ever occurred.

In any case, Manafort was present at the infamous meeting with Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya at which “only adoption” was discussed.  There is loose talk that Robert Mueller plans to indict all the Americans present at that meeting– even if they did nothing, they failed to report the meeting to the FBI, and that probably represents misprision of a crime.

It seems to me that indictment of the son, who quite probably notified the father contemporaneously of the meeting, should be sufficient to allege collusion with considerable credibility– after all, we have here his campaign chairman, his son (who had an official role in the campaign), and a couple of other members of the campaign, at a meeting with a Russian involved with her government (even if not “officially”) where “dirt” is offered on the opposition courtesy of the Russian government– and no-one notifies the FBI that a foreign government is trying to meddle in our election.  What more do you want?

Here’s the plan: weaponize the information uncovered by the New York Times about his family’s finances.  Have a House Committee drag his income tax returns out of him with subpoenas.  Have other committees studying other corrupt and illicit aspects of his campaign and governance.  But don’t introduce a resolution of impeachment until the last minute.  Force the Republicans to disavow him just before the 2020 elections.

Then throw him out of office and as many Republicans as possible with him.  Prosecute him for financial crimes after he leaves office, in 2021.  There is little advantage in impeaching him when Moral Mike Pence is vice president– unless, of course, Mike’s hands are provably dirty, in which case perhaps the Speaker of the House would take charge.  That, I fear, is a fever dream for those with PTSD from too much of you know who.

Comment of the Day: The young are abandoning the Republican Party and he who must not be named; and a plea for Democrats to nominate a nice guy (with low negatives) for president in 2020.

2018-11-29
Bruce Rozenblit
Kansas City, MO
Times Pick

The Republican party has always pushed white identity politics, an us against them strategy. Then they top it off with an anti abortion plank to get the evangelicals on board. Trump has pushed these themes to the extreme and gone full on racist xenophobic. The young will have none of it. That’s not their world. Trump has magnified race and ethnic political divisions to whip up his base and they are hopelessly wed to him. They will never desert their hero, their champion. If I were to put a number on it, I’d say about one third of the electorate would follow him off of a cliff. This group is shrinking as the old die off and the young age in. Trump is basically digging himself into a hole he can’t get out of. Millions of teenagers who live in fear of mass shootings will be voting in 2020. The under 40 crowd has no problem with interracial dating and marriage. That used to be a really big deal when I was young. Don’t underestimate the damage the trade war will do to manufacturing. GM is the first big outfit to react with layoffs. Tariff damage is just beginning. The soybean market has been ruined. 2019 may break many farmers. Consequently, 2020 bodes well for the Democrats so long as they don’t pick a loser. Hillary had very high negatives, about as high as her positive ratings. Pick someone with low negatives, someone that people actually like and can relate to. Do this across the board.

CDC: Suicide Rates Increase For All Age Groups in 1999-2017; Overall Rate Increased 33%, and 53% in Women. At the same time, drug overdose deaths have increased as much as six-fold in some age groups.

2018-11-29

A CDC report, released today, shows that suicides have increased by an age-adjusted 33% from 1999 to 2017.  Suicides increased most dramatically for both sexes in the age 45-65 group.  The only group for which rates did not increase was for males over 75– the category that already had the highest rates among both men and women of all ages.

Suicides were most common in rural counties, and least common in metropolitan areas– a difference of 1.8 times.  Rates in women were highest at 45-64 and decreased in older age groups; in men, rates increased with age steadily.

The data show significant risks for suicide in all age groups, both men and women.  The highest risks are among women aged 45-64 and among men aged 75 and over.  Men have higher suicide rates in all age groups.  The highest rate among women in 2017 was 9.7 per 100,000 (aged 45-64) and among men, 39.7 per 100,000 (aged 75 and over.)  Rates for men aged 15-74 gradually increased with age, and the highest rate was in those 75 and over.  Rates for women peaked in the 45-64 age group dramatically; in men, a slight increase was seen in those 45-64 and a small decrease in those 65-74.  Women’s rates decreased in the oldest age group (75 and over) but rates were highest in the oldest men.

There has been no explanation for the increases in suicide rates, which occurred along the same time period as a dramatic increase in drug overdose death rates.  There was a 6-fold increase in drug overdose deaths among people aged 45-64 over the period 1999-2017 and a 3-fold increase in overdose death rates overall in that eighteen years.

In 2016, there were 63,600 deaths from drug overdoses, both suicidal and unintentional.  There were 44,965 suicide deaths, of which 6,698 were “poisonings”.  Apparently, about 58,355 of the overdose deaths were concluded to be unintentional.  There is some overlap between these two causes of death; in individual cases, it may be difficult to determine whether the drug overdose was accidental or intentional.

The latest year for statistics on gun-related deaths was 2016; approximately 39,000 people were killed by guns, of which about 13,362 were homicides and most of the rest– 26,000– suicides.  In 2016, the FBI reported a total of 17,250 homicides, an 8.6% increase from the year before.

We are at a loss to explain these increases, much less to influence them.  It is tempting to describe these findings as being in relation to the disintegration of society.  If this were so, then homicide rates should have increased, but they have remained stable over the last twenty years at a significantly lower level than in 1980.  Perhaps there is an increase in stress, hopelessness, and financial ruin.  Then the explanation would lie in the fact that median wages have not significantly increased in 30 years and wealth inequality has dramatically increased.

Then the way to counter this problem is to address wealth inequality.  The simplest way would be to go back to a steeply progressive income tax schedule, with estate taxes to deter the hereditary accumulation of wealth.  Attempts to address this problem are likely to be strenuously opposed by the wealthy.  Nonetheless, the simple logic of this action will redound to increases in wealth for everyone– economic growth will be sure to increase, as has been shown by historical rates of growth that increase under high-tax regimes.  Tax cuts and increases in wealth inequality are hostile to maintenance of infrastructure (which impacts quality of life for all but the most wealthy) and historically have not increased economic growth.  The only thing that increases with tax cuts is the national debt.

(photo courtesy of pixabay.com and mohamed_hassan)