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    • No exit
      The House impeachment inquiry continues this morning with additional witnesses to the Fall of the House of Trump. “Fall” here may not mean Trump’s removal from office, nor “House of Trump” his family, but the party he has put under his boot heel. History will be kind to neither. NBCNews foreign correspondent Richard Engel suggests … Continue reading No exit […]
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    • How to Fix Fake News
      The reason fake news exists is not complicated. The majority of journalists don’t follow a professional ethical code. It’s not that they don’t have an ethical code. It’s that they – or more likely their paymasters — don’t want to be held accountable for breaking it. Four basic elements comprise the Society of Professional Journalism’s […]
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Catch-23

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This is insane:

An independent investigator has found evidence that Gov. Sarah Palin may have violated ethics laws by trading on her position in seeking money for legal fees, in the latest legal distraction for the former vice presidential candidate as she prepares to leave office this week.

The report obtained by The Associated Press says Palin is securing unwarranted benefits and receiving improper gifts through the Alaska Fund Trust, set up by supporters.

An investigator for the state Personnel Board says in his July 14 report that there is probable cause to believe Palin used or attempted to use her official position for personal gain because she authorized the creation of the trust as the “official” legal defense fund.

The practical effect of the ruling on Palin will be more financial than anything else. The report recommends that Palin refuse to accept payment from the defense fund, and that the complaint be resolved without a formal hearing before the board.

The fund aims to help Palin pay off debts stemming from multiple ethics complaints against her, most of which have been dismissed. Palin says she owes more than $500,000 in legal fees, and she cited the mounting toll of the ethics probes as one of the reasons she is leaving office.

The investigator, Thomas Daniel, sided with Palin in her frustration with having to defend herself against a barrage of ethics complaints. He suggested that Alaska lawmakers may need to create a law that reimburses public officials for legal expenses to defend complaints that end up being unfounded.

Palin’s friends and supporters created the Alaska Fund Trust in April, limiting donations to $150 per person. Organizers declined to say how much it has raised, and had hoped to raise about $500,000. A Webathon last month brought in about $130,000 in pledges.

In his report, Daniel said his interpretation of the ethics act is consistent with common sense.

An ordinary citizen facing legal charges is not likely to be able to generate donations to a legal defense fund, he wrote. “In contrast, Governor Palin is able to generate donations because of the fact that she is a public official and a public figure. Were it not for the fact that she is governor and a national political figure, it is unlikely that many citizens would donate money to her legal defense fund.”

The ethics complaint was filed by Eagle River resident Kim Chatman shortly after the fund was created, alleging Palin was misusing her official position and accepting improper gifts.

“It’s an absolute shame that she would continue to keep the Alaska Fund Trust Web site up and running,” Chatman told the AP.

At least 19 ethics complaints have been filed against Palin, most of them after she was named the running mate for GOP presidential candidate John McCain. Most of those have been dismissed, and Palin’s office usually sends a news release with the announcement.

The multiple ethics complaints include an investigation by state lawmakers over Palin’s firing of her public safety commissioner in the so-called Troopergate scandal.

John Coale, a Washington lawyer who helped set up the fund, called the probable cause finding “crazy,” adding that if upheld, it would mean that no governor could ever defend themselves against frivolous ethics complaints.

“If this complaint is true, there’s no way to defend yourself” as governor, Coale said. “Anybody can keep filing ethics complaints and drive someone out of office even if you’re a nut.”

Coale said that unlike other states, Alaska’s governor has no legal counsel’s office to defend the governor from allegations brought against the governor in her official capacity.

Coale said he recommended creation of the legal defense fund, a common practice in Washington. The Web site for the Palin fund cites similar accounts created for Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and other prominent politicians.

People take advantage of Alaska law to make bogus, petty ethics complaints. Sarah Palin runs up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills defending herself from those complaints. Her supporters donate money to help pay those bills. Someone complains that that is unethical.

It’s Kafkaesque.


I have Issues with cell phones

Let me start by boasting about my driving. In over forty years on all kinds of roads, I’ve had two accidents, both of them fender benders. One was thirty five years ago in Afghanistan. Driving there was, shall we say, different. And the other one happened at three mph in one of those parking lot traffic jams about twenty years ago. My car, being a reliable Japanese thingy, didn’t even have a smudge on it. The other car needed $900 worth of work. The US at the time did not require car bumpers to withstand at least 5mph impacts.

Okay. So that’s point one. Very safe driver. Point two is that, like all Boston drivers, (that’s where I learned to drive), I’m brilliant. I swear, I could be a fighter pilot. My reaction times are still faster than twenty year-olds, at least judging by the amount of time it takes them to wake up when the light turns green. Part of me is kind of looking forward to getting doddery enough so that other drivers no longer make me nuts with how long it takes them to see anything.

Now we get to cell phones. (I told you we’d get there eventually.) I’m not big on phones, and I hadn’t used them while driving. One day about five years ago I decided it was time to get with the program. I took a call while I was on one of those California town roads: four broad lanes in each direction, perfectly straight, well-behaved drivers, and slow traffic. I was being very careful about the whole thing, so dialing while driving was going to be the advanced course. My part of the conversation started a bit disjointed, but gradually it got better.

The next thing I knew, I was in the middle of the intersection — eight lanes north-south and eight lanes east-west, it takes time to cross an intersection that big — with two walls of polite California drivers, who had a green light, waiting for me to get out of the middle of the road. I’d sailed into the intersection with the red light right in front of me. Nobody even honked.
Continue reading

Your Breakfast Read, Served By The Confluence

The Breakfast Read is great, but TC doesn't condone this

The Breakfast Read is great, but TC doesn't condone this

Entering Your Home While Black

Black scholar’s arrest raises profiling questions

Police responding to a call about “two black males” breaking into a home near Harvard University ended up arresting the man who lives there — Henry Louis Gates Jr., the nation’s pre-eminent black scholar.

Racial talk swirls with Gates arrest

“It’s unbelievable,’’ said Lawrence Bobo, a Harvard sociologist who visited Gates at the police station last Thursday and drove him home after Gates posted the $40 bail. “I felt as if I were in some kind of surreal moment, like ‘The Twilight Zone.’ I was mortified. . . . This is a humiliating thing and a pretty profound violation of the kind of trust we all take for granted.’’

From the Harvard Crimson
Renowned Af-Am Professor Gates Arrested for Disorderly Conduct

Gates, who was trying to enter his own home, reportedly accused police of being racist

Skip Gates tells his side of the story.
Lawyer’s Statement on the Arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Professor Gates immediately called the Harvard Real Estate office to report the damage to his door and requested that it be repaired immediately. As he was talking to the Harvard Real Estate office on his portable phone in his house, he observed a uniformed officer on his front porch. When Professor Gates opened the door, the officer immediately asked him to step outside. Professor Gates remained inside his home and asked the officer why he was there. The officer indicated that he was responding to a 911 call about a breaking and entering in progress at this address. Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University. The officer then asked Professor Gates whether he could prove that he lived there and taught at Harvard. Professor Gates said that he could, and turned to walk into his kitchen, where he had left his wallet. The officer followed him. Professor Gates handed both his Harvard University identification and his valid Massachusetts driver’s license to the officer. Both include Professor Gates’ photograph, and the license includes his address.

Professor Gates then asked the police officer if he would give him his name and his badge number. He made this request several times. The officer did not produce any identification nor did he respond to Professor Gates’ request for this information. After an additional request by Professor Gates for the officer’s name and badge number, the officer then turned and left the kitchen of Professor Gates’ home without ever acknowledging who he was or if there were charges against Professor Gates. As Professor Gates followed the officer to his own front door, he was astonished to see several police officers gathered on his front porch. Professor Gates asked the officer’s colleagues for his name and badge number. As Professor Gates stepped onto his front porch, the officer who had been inside and who had examined his identification, said to him, “Thank you for accommodating my earlier request,” and then placed Professor Gates under arrest. He was handcuffed on his own front porch.


Health-care Battle

‘Model’ Health Systems Press Case For Medicare Fix In Reform

Integrated health systems, such as Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic, have won kudos for efficiency and quality. But officials at the health systems say the reform bills being debated in Congress don’t reward them or encourage others to imitate them.

I know Democrats have been shooting themselves in all body parts with this health-care legislation, but when have Republican ever cared about healthcare? Sadly, as self-serving, destructive and hypocritical these buffoons are, they are not completely wrong.
Conservative Leaders Deplore Proposed Health-Care Reform

Emboldened by both Democratic division and polls showing rising public anxiety about President Obama’s policies, Republicans are launching an aggressive attack on the health-care bills moving through Congress, accusing the president of unwisely trying to rush through legislation that won’t improve the health care system.

Health care debate’s biggest players turn up volume

What took him so long?
Obama, GOP trade barbs in health care fight

In a visit to the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, the president seized on recent remarks by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina. In reference to the health care debate, DeMint said, “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”
[…]
He [Obama] said, “This is about a health care system that is breaking America’s families, breaking America’s businesses and breaking America’s economy. And we can’t afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care. Not this time, not now.”


Bush 44?

Ouch! This one hurts.
In stark legal turnaround, Obama now resembles Bush

President Barack Obama is morphing into George W. Bush, as administration attorneys repeatedly adopt the executive-authority and national-security rationales that their Republican predecessors preferred.


Economy Watch

This could get very ugly…
Bailouts could cost U.S. $23 trillion

A series of bailouts, bank rescues and other economic lifelines could end up costing the federal government as much as $23 trillion, the U.S. government’s watchdog over the effort says – a staggering amount that is nearly double the nation’s entire economic output for a year.

Cocksure
Malcolm Gladwell explores the psychology of overconfidence and its relation to the banking collapse. (Dr BB, this one is up your alley)

The world these people inhabited was competitive and stressful and complex. They had been given every reason to be confident in their own judgments. If they sat down next to you, with a tape recorder, it wouldn’t take much for them to believe that they had you in the palm of their hand. They were traders at an investment bank.

World stocks near 9-month high on earnings hopes

An inside tale of Lehman Brothers’ downfall

A bond trader’s new book, A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, tells how the firm’s leaders ignored all the warnings.

Can CIT make it? Not without new structure


Op-ed Columns

The FOMC Chair speaks.
The Fed’s Exit Strategy (By Ben S. Bernanke)

The depth and breadth of the global recession has required a highly accommodative monetary policy. Since the onset of the financial crisis nearly two years ago, the Federal Reserve has reduced the interest-rate target for overnight lending between banks (the federal-funds rate) nearly to zero. We have also greatly expanded the size of the Fed’s balance sheet through purchases of longer-term securities and through targeted lending programs aimed at restarting the flow of credit.

Inside My Fight For Universal Health Care (By Edward Kennedy)

[Q]uality care shouldn’t depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to.

What in the world is David Brooks talking about? I only wish Liberals were being listened to in this administration. Is this guy already preparing the terrain to blame Liberals for Obama’s failures? Liberals are actually being excluded. Paul Krugman just explained how the “leftish wing of economics” didn’t have a voice in the Obama Economic team, Liberals get squashed in both Houses of Congress. Maybe David should go back to discussing those infamous dinner parties where Republican Senatorstry to stimulate his package play with his junk hang on to his royals keep their hand in his inner thighs.
Liberal Suicide March (By David Brooks)

It’s not that interesting to watch the Democrats lose touch with America. That’s because the plotline is exactly the same. The party is led by insular liberals from big cities and the coasts, who neither understand nor sympathize with moderates. They have their own cherry-picking pollsters, their own media and activist cocoon, their own plans to lavishly spend borrowed money to buy votes.

We missed it last week but because it’s so good, we are bring it back
Losing my religion for equality (By Jimmy Carter, via Think Progress)

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I don’t the nerve for the guy. Dakinikat, he’s all yours. He’s your governor anyway.
‘A trillion here, a trillion there’ (By Bobby Jindal)

Things in Louisiana are looking up. We are announcing major economic development wins and private capital investment and reducing government spending in order to live within our means.

Clive Crook on success and failure of the stimulus package
A rocky road for the fiscal stimulus (By Clive Crook)


Madame Secretary In Asia

Clinton Makes Gains on India Defense Deals, Spars Over Climate

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first trip to India opened the door for $20 billion in U.S. defense and nuclear energy sales, while making little headway on bridging divides over climate change and arms control.

Clinton pledges new era, closer ties between US, India

With both poetry and prose, the United States pledged Monday to embark on a new era of deeper relations with India — a partnership of what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton likes to call the world’s largest democracy and its oldest continuously functioning one.

Rein in Pakistan: Advani to Hillary

9/11 ringleaders are in Pakistan, Clinton says

Hillary Clinton’s Asian Tour Continues; Heads To Thailand


War On Terror

Four U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan

The deaths would raise the total of U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan to 30 in July, the highest monthly toll since the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in October 2001.

Guantanamo report on detainee policy delayed

A key report ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama as part of his effort to close the internationally condemned Guantanamo prison will be delayed six months, but officials insisted on Monday they were still on track to shut it down by January.

Missing U.S. Soldier May Be in Pakistan

The U.S. soldier kidnapped by Taliban forces in Afghanistan may have been taken across the border to Pakistan, complicating efforts to obtain his release, according to two people involved in U.S. and Afghan military efforts to locate him, and three Afghan soldiers captured with him.

What has happened to other captured soldiers?

The capture of Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl would appear to mark a rare failure of the military’s most basic operating procedures.


Around The World

Honduras crisis: Critics from both sides slam US

Conscious of its historical dominance in Latin America – including a track record of supporting brutal right-wing dictatorships – the United States quickly sought a place on the sidelines after military leaders ousted Honduras’s leftist President Manuel Zelaya on June 28.

Hardliners hit back at Rafsanjani for criticism

Iranian hardliners hit back at former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Saturday for criticising the conduct of last month’s election and its aftermath, highlighting deepening establishment divisions.

Will Kremlin Really Investigate Natalya Estemirova’s Murder?

The Kremlin has expressed regret over the murder of human rights activist Natalya Estemirova and promised a thorough investigation. Yet observers expect little to come of it.

East Afghan cities hit by Taliban

‘We didn’t sleep a wink’: escort releases recording of her night with Berlusconi

If Silvio Berlusconi thought he’d shaken off the furore over his alleged use of escort girls, he was in for a nasty surprise today.


This And That

“Back, Sack and Crack”

The battle against body hair has reached the genital areas. Young people increasingly feel that their pubic hair is disgusting and unsexy and are undertaking drastic measures to get rid of it. The idea is a not new one, but the possible motives behind the current trend has a number of people worried.

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