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Jan. 6 Hearings: Trump's Rejected Scheme involving Mike Pence

The Jan. 6 hearings continue today. It will be in four parts and focus on Trump's failed plan to pressure Mike Pence into acting unilaterally to reject state electors and block the vote certification. The committee will try to make the case that Trump's pressure on Pence contributed to the violence at the capitol and put Pence at physical risk.

I hope people watching today's hearing don't forget that while Trump is the villain, there's no reason to make Pence into a victim or hero. Mike Pence is no friend to democracy. At a speech in Arizona on Monday, he called for a return to Trump's immigration policies and completion of Trump's ridiculous border wall. (I wonder if he also said Mexico would pay for it).

We need to keep our eye on the ball -- eviscerating any remaining support Trump has prior to the 2022 midterm elections.

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State of the Union: Biden-Style

Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address tonight.

In a speech that focused on the war in Ukraine before pivoting to domestic challenges, Biden said the American people are ready for the task ahead of them in keeping the world united in the face of autocracy.

“Now is the hour, our moment of responsibility. Our test of resolve and conscience, of history itself. It is in this moment that our character is formed. Our purpose is found. Our future is forged,” Biden said in closing.

“Well, I know this nation. We will meet the test. To protect freedom and liberty, to expand fairness and opportunity. We will save democracy. As hard as these times have been, I am more optimistic about America today than I have been my whole life.”

More....

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Bill Clinton On the Mend, Heads Home to NY

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Former President Bill Clinton has left the hospital in Irvine, CA for his home in New York. A urinary infection led to sepsis shock, but he's been treated and his blood levels have returned to normal. He can continue his treatment at home.

This Reuters article seems more like an obituary than a news article to me the way it sterilely recounts his past achievements. I'm sure every media organization has had his obituary written for ages -- I wish Bill Clinton many more years of health and meaningful activity before that day comes.

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Andrew Cuomo Resigns

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned today.

Five months ago, I opined he would not and should not resign.

....Stripping someone of their job before they have been found guilty of a crime, based on disputed factual allegations, is simply unacceptable. This is not Alice in Wonderland ("No, no said the Queen. First the punishment, then the verdict").

There are thousands if not millions of Andrew Cuomos out there -- men over 50 who are or were in positions of power in business or government who are as sexist as the day is long. Educate them, privately. Write them a letter and tell them how they made you feel. Ask them to acknowledge and validate your feelings according to today's norms, even if these norms did not exist when the event happened. If your goal is to end sexual harassment in the workplace, rather than to get 15 minutes of fame, reap a financial benefit or get personal revenge, this should suffice.

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Matt Gaetz Keeps Talking as More Chips Fall

Matt Gaetz was a lawyer before he ran for Congress. I have no idea why he believes he can talk his way to innocence in a pending criminal investigation involving alleged sex trafficking of a minor, but it seems he's intent on trying.

Here’s a summary of the events to date in the Gaetz investigation by Florida Politics.

When the New York Times first broke the story, Gaetz responded with a denial on Twitter claiming he and his father, former Florida state senator Don Gaetz, were victims of a $25 million extortion plot by a former DOJ official who wanted the money to free a former FBI agent taken hostage in Iran. (The FBI said months ago it thinks the hostage is dead). According to Gaetz, the former DOJ official offered to use his influence to help Gaetz in the pending sex trafficking investigation in exchange for the money. Gaetz claimed, and the FBI doesn’t dispute, that Don Gaetz wore a wire at its request to get the former DOJ official to admit the plot on tape. Apparently the former DOJ official didn’t bite. [More...]

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Ted Cruz Flies Back from Cancun After Being Outed by Media

Senator Ted Cruz, not realizing the crassness of his flying to Cancun for a few days of R&R while his constituents in Texas freeze their as*s off with no heat and power, has a moment of Joni Mitchell clarity:

Turn this crazy bird around I shouldn't have got on this flight tonight

Talk about poor optics. And now his story is he was just flying his family down to tuck them in, he was always going to fly right back to Texas. Sorry, no sale.

Here he is on the plane going to Cancun. A few hours ago he was waitlisted for an upgrade on today on the return flight.

Shorter version on Twitter: #TedFled.

Here's a more spirited version of the song by Nazareth. [More...]

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RIP Elijah Cummings

Representative Elijah Cummings passed away yesterday at the age of 68.

Cummings had been absent from Capitol Hill for about a month as he recovered from an unspecified medical procedure. But he had been beset with a variety of physical ailments for the past few years, and often used a walker or a wheelchair to get around Capitol Hill and his Baltimore-based district. His last roll call vote was on Sept. 11.
No cause of death was announced.

Cummings was the Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. He was first elected in 1996, taking the seat vacated by Rep. Kweisi Mfume when Mfume left to become the President of the NAACP.

I've read a lot of accolades for Cummings today -- I like this one:

“Elijah always fought for the little guy, working across the aisle on health care issues, prescription drugs and the importance of education as a way to open doors for every child, regardless of income.

RIP Elijah Cummings. It was always a pleasure listening to you speak.

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George H.W. Bush Has Died

Former President George H.W. Bush has died at age 94.

This may be the longest obituary I can recall (I didn't finish reading it) but the Times has probably been working on it for years. It mentions that his son, GW, put out a call for eulogies in 2013. It's also mostly a puff piece.

In the spirit of refraining from negative comments on the occasion of one's death, I have finally thought of something to praise about the former President: He refused to endorse Donald Trump.

Condolences to the Bush family.

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John McCain Has Died

Yesterday John McCain's family announced he would not seek further medical treatment for cancer. Today he passed away.

I will mostly remember him for his ill-advised, ill-fated choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008. I still shudder to think of the consequences to the country had he been elected and died during his presidency. Somehow the country has sunk to Palin's level anyway with Donald Trump, but that's not McCain's fault.

R.I.P. John McCain.

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Bernie's "Jobs for Everyone" Program

Bernie Sanders has come up with a new plan for the government to hire every worker who wants a job at the rate of at least $15 an hour, plus health and retirement benefits.

Sanders's jobs guarantee would fund hundreds of projects throughout the United States aimed at addressing priorities such as infrastructure, care giving, the environment, education and other goals. Under the job guarantee, every American would be entitled to a job under one of these projects or receive job training to be able to do so, according to an early draft of the proposal.

... the projects would hire workers at a minimum salary of $15 an hour with paid family and medical leave, and offer the same retirement, health, and sick and annual leave benefits as other federal employees.

Can such an idea work? It makes me think of the Netflix series Lillyhammer with Steve Van Zandt, about Norway. [More...]

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R.I.P. Barbara Bush

Former first lady Barbara Bush has died at the age of 92.

The Washington Post obituary is here.

I don't have anything to add to the news. If you do, here's a space to comment in. Please keep in mind that TalkLeft has a policy of not speaking ill of the dead on the occasion of their death.

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Al Franken Resigns

Democrats just shot themselves in the foot. After his fellow Congresspersons began calling on Al Franken to resign, Al Franken has done just that. What a loss from a policy perspective.

It reminds me of the old adage, "one cannot serve two masters." I'd much rather have someone in Congress who was going to advocate for legislation that will help me and all Americans, than not have someone there there because of actions in his personal life before he became a member of Congress.

Here are some of the members calling for him to resign, even though he denies the latest allegation of an uninvited kiss, Franken told Politico:

This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”

Alice in Wonderland time: First the punishment, then the verdict.

If that's the new law of the land, why is Donald Trump still in office?

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Sen. Al Franken Gets A Groping Allegation of His Own

Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles reporter has issued a statement detailing a pretty disgusting encounter with Al Franken in 2006. Franken was not a Senator at the time. The story ends with a photo of him grabbing her breasts while she's asleep on the military plane home from Afghanistan.

The alleged incident occurred during her 9th ISO Tour to entertain the troops. (Her father was a Vietnam vet and her husband (then her boyfriend) is an Air Force Pilot.

Franken had written some skits for the show and brought props and costumes to go along with them. Like many USO shows before and since, the skits were full of sexual innuendo geared toward a young, male audience.

You can read the rest at the link. [More...]

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Switzerland Hotel in the Doghouse After Posting Anti-Semitic Notice

A hotel in Switzerland is in the news, but not for a good reason. The Paradies Arosa, an Alpine establishment in Arosa, a city outside Davos, posted this notice a few days ago:

The text of the sign shown in the photo was written in broken English and read: “To our Jewish guests, women, men and children, Please take a shower before you go swimming and although after swimming. If you break the rules, I’m forced to cloes the swimming pool for you.”

The hotel removed the sign but defended it and said it was not anti-semitic.

Ruth Thomann, the manager of the hotel, confirmed the signs had now been removed. She insisted that many Jews visit the hotel, particularly at this time of year, and they are very welcome.

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Ex-Spy Comes In From the Cold

Former MI6 spy Christopher Steele is back home in London, and returning to work.

"I'm really pleased to be back here working again at the Orbis's offices in London today," said Steele.

"I'm now going to be focusing my efforts on supporting the broader interests of our company here. I'd like to say a warm thank you to everyone who sent me kind messages and support over the last few weeks.

About the unsubstantiated Trump dossier he worked on:

"I won't be making any further statements or comments at this time."

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