Saturday Open Thread

I hope that you are enjoying this weekend with family and friends.

Taking this time to plug Still Star-Crossed again.

Check it out, Mondays on ABC at 10 pm EST

Why Everyone Should Be Watching ‘Still Star Crossed’
June 12th 2017

It’s ironic that Shonda Rhimes’ “Still Star-Crossed,” a show where crucial plot points turn on marriage, is being told by a diverse cast of actors. It highlights the ways in which marriage is traditionally used to increase power for one or both members of the couple. The Prince, the Montagues and Capulets are all very clear about what they stand to gain by the proverbial joining of two hands. Marriage in the “Still Star-Crossed” universe is a mere means to an end for the most powerful citizens in fair Verona and this is well… awesome! The point is not marriage itself per se but that the show, because of the intersection of history, race, and geography forces the viewer to think. Concepts such as marriage and blood ties embody new complexity when viewed through this lens. That marriage is a vehicle for the amassing of power for instance, hints at an important social truth about the roots of intransigent attitudes against interracial marriage in American culture.

“Still Star-Crossed” is also a standout and unfortunately, a rarity, in that it has given all of its female characters their own agency, their own motivations independent of male romantic partners. It’s especially poignant given the youthfulness of the characters. Rosaline, her sister Livia, her old friend Princess Isabella, Lady Capulet, even now-dead Juliet, all had very clear motivations stemming from their own emotional needs. Although Shonda Rhimes’ shows routinely showcase brilliant and complex female characters, much of what they do centers on men, especially “Scandal” and the long-running “Grey’s Anatomy.” “Still Star-Crossed” manages to deliver on romance while keeping a laser focus on the dreams, desires, aspirations, and preoccupations of the female characters even when they long, as Livia does for a traditional female role. Rosaline, the main character represents what perhaps would have been the feminist of her medieval day. Who would have thought a Shonda Rhimes show, known for over-the-top drama could also be so quietly subversive? Even “Game of Thrones,” with its plethora of female central characters can’t boast the same. Instead, seemingly strong, independent female characters end up being subtly circumscribed by the male characters whether they be lovers, advisers, or family members. “Still Star-Crossed” has achieved quite the feminist coup.

Speaking of Rosaline, her conflicts with the people in her life, make her one of the strongest female characters on television right now. Rosaline has clashed with every member of her family thus far, her love interest the Prince, and her best friend Isabella who happens to be the Prince’s sister. That isn’t to mention her palpable dislike for her fiance by fiat, Benvolio. He inevitably manages to elicit GIF worthy reactions from Rosaline whenever she is in his proximity. Still, Rosaline manages to stand up for herself without becoming a shrew or resorting to cheap theatrics. This takes us to another reason to watch this show; the conflict between Rosaline and Benvolio. Neither one of them wants to marry the other and they aren’t shy about letting each other and the world know, peace in Verona be damned. However, the chemistry between the characters is off the charts and their scenes together are electric. The thing is, Rosaline and Benvolio are more alike than they would like to admit. They are both rebels committed to individual freedom. Rosaline hates Benvolio but doesn’t know him. To add to the intrigue, there is a burgeoning love triangle situation happening. Prince Escalus represents the other sixty degrees. Rosaline actually loves Prince Escalus but it is increasingly clear that she doesn’t know him either. To her shock and utter bewilderment, he is the one who has demanded that she marry the detested Benvolio. It will be interesting to see how the characters evolve as newly crowned Prince Escalus continues to grow into his role as ruler of Verona and the scales fall from strong-willed Rosaline’s perhaps puppy love blinded eyes.

Then there is the obvious. This show expands history for audiences in a fun and engaging way. It brings to the fore that there were black people in Europe during the medieval ages. There is even evidence of pre-Renaissance existence of blacks in the Americas as well. There is hardly any time or space devoted to this aspect of history in traditional history courses from elementary through high school. It is said that history is written by the victors, so here, “Still Star Crossed” continues to slay at the subversion thing. Without calling attention to it, the show has refocused the lens of history. It illustrates that blacks were contributors to history in roles other than simply as servants or slaves. If anything, they were discriminated against as foreigners, not because of the color of their skin. Strong evidence of a black presence in Europe during the medieval era can be found in artwork from that period. Indisputably, blacks were part of the social landscape then. It is a well documented, if not well known fact that at least one member of the powerful Medici family was black. “Still Star Crossed” goes even further and indicates that in many households, there were white servants as well as black servants and they all had the same social status. This was also the case in the US prior to the onset of laws beginning around 1640, that incrementally and increasingly limited the rights of blacks.

I just love this show. However long it lasts, just want to thank Shonda Rhimes.

Posted in Open Thread, Politics | Tagged , , , | 38 Comments

Friday Open Thread | More about Trumpcare

Found this at Vox.com. We began the week talking about Trumpcare, and we will end the week with it. The same measures still need to be taken. Please go to that post for all the contact information.

I’ve covered Obamacare since day one. I’ve never seen lying and obstruction like this.
Updated by Sarah Kliff
sarah@vox.com
Jun 15, 2017, 1:30pm EDT

Republicans do not want the country to know what is in their health care bill.

This has become more evident each day, as the Senate plots out a secretive path toward Obamacare repeal — and top White House officials (including the president) consistently lie about what the House bill actually does.

There was even a brief moment Tuesday where Senate Republicans flirted with the idea of banning on-camera interviews in congressional hallways, a plan quickly reversed after outcry from the press.

“The extreme secrecy is a situation without precedent, at least in creating health care law” writes Julie Rovner, who has covered health care politics since 1986 and is arguably the dean of the DC health care press corps.

I don’t have quite as long of a tenure as Rovner, but I have been covering health care politics since Democrats began debating the Affordable Care Act in 2009. It’s become obvious to me, particularly this week, that Republicans plan to move more quickly and less deliberatively than Democrats did in drafting the Affordable Care Act. They intend to do this despite repeatedly and angrily criticizing the Affordable Care Act for being moved too quickly and with too little deliberation.

My biggest concern isn’t the hypocrisy; there is plenty of that in Washington. It’s that the process will lead to devastating results for millions of Americans who won’t know to speak up until the damage is done. So far, the few details that have leaked out paint a picture of a bill sure to cover millions fewer people and raise costs on those with preexisting conditions.

The plan is expected to be far-reaching, potentially bringing lifetime limits back to employer-sponsored coverage, which could mean a death sentence for some chronically ill patients who exhaust their insurance benefits.

Senate Republicans do not appear to be focused on carefully crafting policy that reflects a more conservative, free-market attempt at achieving President Donald Trump’s goals of covering every American at lower cost. They’re focused on passing something, by whatever means necessary. That may come back to haunt them electorally, but not after millions suffer the consequences.

Read the rest at the link.

This will affect 1/6 of the American economy.
This will leave up to 51 million people without healthcare.
SO THAT MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES CAN HAVE A TAX CUT!

There’s a reason why they’re doing it in secret.

Posted in 2016 Elections, Affordable Care Act, Healthcare, Open Thread, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 117 Comments

VP Mike Pence hires outside lawyer to handle Russia probe

Vice President Pence has hired an outside attorney to help handle inquiries relating to federal investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Pence has retained the services of Richmond, Va.-based attorney Richard Cullen, the chairman of the law firm McGuire Woods.

“I can confirm that the Vice President has retained Richard Cullen of McGuire Woods to assist him in responding to inquiries by the special counsel,” Pence spokesman Jarrod Agen said in a statement.

“The Vice President is focused entirely on his duties and promoting the President’s agenda and looks forward to a swift conclusion of this matter.”

Pence picked the attorney earlier this week, following a several-week selection process that included interviews with several possible choices, an aide told The Washington Post, which first reported the news Thursday.

Pence will not use taxpayer funds to pay for the attorney, according to The Post.

The development comes less than a month after President Trump hired attorney Marc Kasowitz as outside counsel to assist him in the ongoing Russia probes.

The Post reported on Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the federal probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, had expanded his investigation to include an inquiry into potential obstruction of justice by Trump.

Trump on Thursday railed against the reported expansion of the federal probe on Twitter, questioning why Hillary Clinton wasn’t the subject of the Russia-related investigations but he was.

“Crooked H destroyed phones w/ hammer, ‘bleached’ emails, & had husband meet w/AG days before she was cleared- & they talk about obstruction?” Trump wrote, referencing the past investigation into Clinton’s private email server she used as secretary of State.

Trump has come under increased scrutiny over the past month in the wake of his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the federal investigation into Russian election meddling before he was ousted in early May.

In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that aired days after Comey’s termination, Trump acknowledged that the Russia probe was on his mind when he decided to fire the FBI chief. News reports later revealed that Trump had told visiting Russian officials that firing Comey relieved him of “great pressure” because of the investigation.

Investigators are also reportedly interested in a February meeting between Trump and Comey, in which the president pressed the then-FBI director to drop the bureau’s investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Posted in 2016 Elections, Current Events, Department of Justice, FBI, News, Obstruction of Justice, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Thursday Open Thread | Russian Cyber Hacks on U.S. Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known

From Bloomberg:

Russian Cyber Hacks on U.S. Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known
by Michael Riley
and Jordan Robertson
June 13, 2017, 4:00 AM CDT

Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.

In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said

The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step — complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day “red phone.” In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia’s role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.

The new details, buttressed by a classified National Security Agency document recently disclosed by the Intercept, show the scope of alleged hacking that federal investigators are scrutinizing as they look into whether Trump campaign officials may have colluded in the efforts. But they also paint a worrisome picture for future elections: The newest portrayal of potentially deep vulnerabilities in the U.S.’s patchwork of voting technologies comes less than a week after former FBI Director James Comey warned Congress that Moscow isn’t done meddling.

“They’re coming after America,” Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the election. “They will be back.”

………………………

One of the mysteries about the 2016 presidential election is why Russian intelligence, after gaining access to state and local systems, didn’t try to disrupt the vote. One possibility is that the American warning was effective. Another former senior U.S. official, who asked for anonymity to discuss the classified U.S. probe into pre-election hacking, said a more likely explanation is that several months of hacking failed to give the attackers the access they needed to master America’s disparate voting systems spread across more than 7,000 local jurisdictions.

Such operations need not change votes to be effective. In fact, the Obama administration believed that the Russians were possibly preparing to delete voter registration information or slow vote tallying in order to undermine confidence in the election. That effort went far beyond the carefully timed release of private communications by individuals and parties.

One former senior U.S. official expressed concern that the Russians now have three years to build on their knowledge of U.S. voting systems before the next presidential election, and there is every reason to believe they will use what they have learned in future attacks.

 

Continue reading

Posted in 2016 Elections, Obstruction of Justice, Open Thread, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 94 Comments

Wednesday Open Thread | Are Berniebots on the DNC Attempting to Change the Rules to Suppress the Black Vote?

Found at the following twitter thread:

Armando‏ @armandodkos

Are Bernie delegates on Dem Unity Commission and Rules Committee proposing a radical change to delegate selection process for Pres. Noms? /1

I fear they are. And their proposals would gut the voting power of POC. Here is what I fear- that Bernie delegates are proposing /3

That in States that have closed primaries, those result be discarded and delegates be chosen by open caucus- turning State run primary /5

Into a beauty contest while having the delegates chosen in sparsely attended caucuses. Example – Nebraska has such a system. /6

The Bernie delegate proposal I suspect will make system mandatory. This Florida, which is controlled by GOP, could have closed primary /7

but have the result of millions of votes thrown out in favor of sparsely attended caucuses that are difficult for POC and working voters/8

It is a cynical and outrageous idea that will disenfranchise millions of POC. And that’s the design. It’s what they want to achieve. /9

I’m sounding the alarm now so it doesn’t happen. Join me in demanding @TomPerez publicly reject this proposal. /10

This attempt to rig the primary must be stopped. /11

It is not a coincidence that Bernie Sanders and his supporters have never stated that primaries are better than caucuses. /12

That all this is happening in back rooms not public forums, is not a coincidence. They want to present as a fait accompli-price of unity/13

I expect a walkout will be threatened if their proposal isn’t accepted. I’m for Unity but this price is simply too high. Let them walk. /14

If Bernie’s delegates deny and reject my surmises, I’ll be happy and will gladly apologize to them. Small price to pay. /15

 

Continue reading

Posted in Black Voter Suppression, Black Voters, Democracy, Open Letter, Politics | Tagged , , , | 140 Comments

#SenateIntelHearing | Jeff Sessions Testimony

A new report says Attorney General Jeff Sessions will double down on a Department of Justice claim that former FBI Director James Comey misrepresented an interaction between the two during sworn testimony last week.

Jonathan Swan at the news website Axios says Sessions will repeat under oath a DOJ claim that he “was not silent” following a conversation in which Comey, then the FBI director, informed him of a one-on-one meeting with President Donald Trump.

Sessions is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday afternoon.

Comey said in sworn testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he felt Trump was trying to pressure him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey testified that when he approached Sessions about the one-on-one meeting with the president, the attorney general remained silent.

“Sessions is expected to counter this, saying he responded to Comey by telling him the FBI and DOJ needed to be aware of official protocol regarding communications with the White House,” Swan said.

Sessions would not be the first government figure to go after Comey.

Following Comey’s testimony, Trump accused the former FBI director of lying and said he would “100%” be willing to answer questions under oath about the situation.

Here was the relevant portion of the original Department of Justice statement following Comey’s testimony:

“During his testimony, Mr. Comey confirmed that he did not inform the Attorney General of his concerns about the substance of any one-on-one conversation he had with the President. Mr. Comey said, following a morning threat briefing, that he wanted to ensure he and his FBI staff were following proper communications protocol with the White House. The Attorney General was not silent; he responded to this comment by saying that the FBI and Department of Justice needed to be careful about following appropriate policies regarding contacts with the White House.”

Posted in 2016 Elections, Current Events, Department of Justice, Espionage, FBI, HACKING, News, Open Thread, Politics, Russia, Treason | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 138 Comments

Tuesday Open Thread | This is STRAIGHT UP BRIBERY!!!!

Remember last week, when it was reported that Attorney General White Citizens Council had offered to resign? And folks like me told you that it was nothing but a crock of shyt?

Well……

The emoluments clause was written into the United States Constitution for a reason.

The Title of Nobility Clause is a provision in Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution,[1] that prohibits the federal government from granting titles of nobility, and restricts members of the government from receiving gifts, emoluments, offices or titles from foreign states without the consent of the United States Congress. Also known as the Emoluments Clause, it was designed to shield the republican character of the United States against so-called “corrupting foreign influences”. This shield is reinforced by the corresponding prohibition on state titles of nobility in Article I, Section 10, and more generally by the Republican Guarantee Clause in Article IV, Section 4.[2]


Text from the Constitution:

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

So, there it is.

Bloomberg News published this last week:

Trump Can Take Payments From Foreign Governments, U.S. Says
by Bob Van Voris
June 9, 2017, 5:56 PM CDT

George Washington did it, so Donald Trump can, too.

That’s the Justice Department’s take on why the 45th president isn’t violating the U.S. Constitution by accepting payments for goods and services from foreign governments without congressional approval.

The foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution doesn’t apply to fair-market commercial transactions, such as hotel bills, golf club fees, licensing payments and office rent, the Justice department argued Friday in a filing. The government is asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit brought by a watchdog group that claims Trump’s business dealings violate the Constitution.

If accepted by the court, the argument would eliminate a major legal obstacle for Trump’s businesses to keep money from foreign officials and companies owned by foreign governments.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, sued Trump within days of his inauguration in January, claiming foreign officials are doing business with Trump properties as a way to curry favor with the president. The group is seeking an order from U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams in Manhattan that Trump is violating the foreign emoluments clause and the domestic emoluments clause, which specifically bars presidents from taking payments from federal or state officials.

This is nothing but legal bribery.
Period.

And why, is the UNITED STATES JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, putting forth this argument?
They are NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THE PERSONAL LAWYERS TO THE PRESIDENT!!!

There is nothing that this pack of lowlife’s won’t justify for Dolt45. This is absolutely outrageous.
They are a den of thieves.
The Attorney General is a complete joke. Chief Law Enforcement Officer of this country? Hardly. He is a criminal himself who is turning the United States Justice Department into a laughing stock.

Posted in 2016 Elections, Open Thread, Politics, US Department of Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , | 38 Comments