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      Andrea Hatcher, Sewanee: The University of the South Being Senate majority leader isn’t easy. And Mitch McConnell is finding out that having unified government could make it harder still. As my research shows, U.S. Senate majority leaders represent several constituencies that push and pull in multiple – and usually conflicting – directions. Balancing constra […]
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Stroll: Watercolor in the Rain

The Republicans are going to try to ram healthcare "reform" down our throats again today. They'll try for a procedural vote. If successful, they'll begin debate.

No one really knows what in this bill. I'm looking forward to Sherrod Brown, Lizzie Warren or Al Franken taking the time to read the bill while they have the floor.

The GOP donors must be livid that they're not getting what they want. And what do they want?


Theirs. Not yours.
Trump gave a speech to the Boy Scouts at their annual Jamboree in West Virginia.

Did the Scouts do a thorough background check on Trump and his minions who came with him? Because the speech sounds completely inappropriate for a crowd full of minors. He is not a very good role model for boys who are supposed to be "clean in thought, word and deed".

I used to be a member of the Board of Ed in my former town and I guarantee you that if Trump had given a speech like that to our students, the next session of the Board would be chock full of angry parents demanding an apology and heads to roll.

Trump is pissing off the spooks again. This time it's in Syria where he has shut down a covert CIA operation to assist rebel forces against Assad. The Russians reportedly didn't like the the operation. I'm sure there's no story here. Nothing to see, people. Move along, move along.

Oh, and he's getting ready to fire AG Sessions. Loyalty only goes one way.

Then he'll have more leeway to get rid of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Seth Meyers' Closer Look goes over the White House changes and what's really in Trump's tax returns. That's really what he's worried about. Mueller is legally able to look at several years of Trump's taxes filings.

Hmmmmm, what could be worse than a billionaire not paying his taxes…?

SNL is going to have a field day with Scaramucci.

When I tell people that I had to reinvent myself after my industry collapsed in the wake of the "patent cliff" and Pharmageddon that followed it, they have a hard time wrapping their heads around it. How could Big Pharma sharply curtail research, stop pursuing some therapeutic areas altogether and contract as severely as it has? Why are so many scientists out of work? That's not what their elected officials keep telling them. They say there's a shortage of STEM professionals.

Does. Not. Compute.

Nevertheless, big Pharma shed a huge component of its small molecule research in the last 10 years. To understand the difference between small molecule and biologics drugs, the latter being the focus of recent drug discovery efforts, check out this article from The Conversation about biologics and what makes them so expensive.

BTW, there's no reason why some of us in small molecule research couldn't easily move to biologics. Some of us were already involved in molecular biology and we're doing work with recombinant DNA. It wasn't necessary to sideline us.

There's more than enough new science to keep us blissfully employed for the rest of our lives and then some.

Why is it that so many American scientists are sidelined? I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Stroll: Golden Hair

Dunkirk Spirit

I saw the movie Dunkirk this weekend. If you have a chance, go see it. It's about the plight of the British Expeditionary Force and remnants of the French army trapped on a beach in Belgium at the end of May 1940. 400,000 soldiers waited to board ships to take them back across the channel to England.

Winston Churchill had become Prime Minister less than a month previously. He had been running around with his hair on fire about Germany for years to no avail. The non-interventionist British government steadfastly refused to arm itself. Dunkirk was a military disaster in the making for Britain and Churchill. The bulk of the British army was on that beach.

It's non-stop, one harrowing experience after another. All of it true.

Then a miracle occurs.

A few days later, Churchill gave his We Will Never Surrender speech. In it, he made clear that Britain was on its own, surrounded by countries under the sway of Hitler. It was the last hold out in the West and Dunkirk was only the beginning as to what the entire nation was going to be asked to do in defense of its island. If they were going to be invaded, they were going down fighting, every last one of them.

Churchill put his hopes in America to come to its rescue. We did but not until almost all hope was lost and the British people heroically withstood privation and the Blitz.

These days, guns and bombs aren't necessary. The enemy took us over with its words. But some of us aren't going down without a fight. We will never surrender.

Linguistic note: Churchill delivered this speech using as many English words as he could. There are very few Latin derived words in his speech.

Here are the final few sentences of his speech:

Jamie needs reading glasses

A bit of lighthearted silliness between the lovely Gwendolyn Christie, who plays the bad ass Brienne of Tarth and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Secret Service Kings Guardsman turned Kingslayer Jamie Lannister.

The talking heads are going to start getting grim and serious soon. Enjoy the humor while you can.

And for those of you still mired in season 3 who want to catch up to season 7 (I'm talking to you BiFF), here is a run down or season 6 by Lord Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. Spoiler alert: you favorite character may have died last season. It's a given.

Stroll: I want to rock your gypsy soul

Just like way back in the days of old
Then magnificently we will float into the mystic

It's the end of the work week. Time to relax.

It's hot as Hades out there. It's like a sauna.

Spicey resigned. 😢
Is this the end for Melissa McCarthy and her motorized podium?
And what does a financier know about communications? I don't get it.
Must think on this some more.

Scaramucc, Scaramucc, can he do the fandango
Thunderbolts and lightening,
Very, very frightening me.

{{Head bang when necessary}}

Three More Wishes?

WaPo reports that Donald Trump Sr. (how long will we be calling him president?) has consulted his lawyers about the possibility of using his presidential powers to pardon aides, family members and himself.


Oh, sorry, did I say that out loud?

From the Post:

With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.

A conflict of interest is one of the possible grounds that can be cited by an attorney general to remove a special counsel from office under Justice Department regulations that set rules for the job.

The president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances, advisers said.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.

Trump has repeatedly refused to make his tax returns public after first claiming he could not do so because he was under audit or after promising to release them after an IRS audit was completed. All presidents since Jimmy Carter have released their tax returns.

Further adding to the challenges facing Trump’s outside lawyers, the team’s spokesman, Mark Corallo, resigned on Thursday, according to two people familiar with his departure. Corallo did not respond to immediate requests for comment.

“If you’re looking at Russian collusion, the president’s tax returns would be outside that investigation,” said a close adviser to the president.

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort are scheduled to appear before Senate committees next week. Here’s what’s at stake for them. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s private lawyers, said in an interview Thursday that the president and his legal team are intent on making sure Mueller stays within the boundaries of his assignment as special counsel. He said they will complain directly to Mueller if necessary.  

“The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel’s office and any changes in the scope of the investigation,” Sekulow said. “The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there’s drifting, we’re going to object.”

Ahhhh, it's not just the probe, it's the tax returns. And they don't like mission creep. Why is that? Is Trump worried about a blow job in the Oval Office? Because, you know, if lying about a sexual indiscretion that was discovered inadvertently during a different investigation on pre-presidential indiscretions are an impeachable offense, you've got to figure hinky tax manipulations to cover up Russian money laundering and questionable real estate deals could be impeachable too.

Or not.

We are talking about Republicans after all. Democrats never get away with anything. Republicans can get foreign help to get elected, steal a Supreme Court nominee, dismantle the State department, put a nationalistic fascist in the White House as a senior aide, appoint a extreme ideologue to fuck around with voter registrations he doesn't like, etc, etc and no one does anything to stop it.

Blow job vs acts requiring a presidential pardon. You'd think this would be a no brainer. But we are dealing with Trump voters who have no brains and a Republican minority juggernaut that is counting on the brainless to keep them in power indefinitely.

Stroll: Roses in bloom

Ayayay! WordPress is making me beta test a new editor.

Well, this should be fun.

Busy today. Probably won't check in much today. Document the atrocities.

Also, check out The Conversation for expert analysis.

And TrumpCast for all things Trumpian. The latest episode discusses why Mitch McConnell failed to catastrophize healthcare reform in spite of his best efforts.