Germany Has Launched the World’s First Hydrogen Powered Train


September 20, 2018

So exciting! Read more:

Germany has launched the world’s first hydrogen-powered train

So exciting! Read more:

Posted by EcoWatch on Thursday, September 20, 2018

Some Men Just Don’t Get It!

Associated Press

North Dakota Candidate: Kavanaugh allegation ‘absurd’ !

    Associated Press       September 22, 2018

Republicans Are Waging War on Women—and Two Women Can Stop Them

Harper’s Bazaar – Politics

Republicans Are Waging War on Women—and Two Women Can Stop Them

Alyssa Milano, Harper’s Bazaar        September 20, 2018  

Georgetown Prep president says school has been soul-searching in wake of Kavanaugh allegations

Yahoo News

Georgetown Prep president says school has been soul-searching in wake of Kavanaugh allegations

 Dylan Stableford       September 21, 2018 

Student debt is forcing millennials to delay life milestones

Yahoo Finance

Student debt is forcing millennials to delay life milestones

Alyssa Pry and Jeanie Ahn        September 21, 2018

Mazie Hirono Is a Legitimate Badass of the Senate


Mazie Hirono Is a Legitimate Badass of the Senate

It’s about time someone in elected office called “bullshit” on this process.

By Charles P. Pierce      September 21, 2018

Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Brett Kavanaugh To Be Supreme Court JusticeGetty ImagesZach Gibson.

To be honest, all I ever previously thought of Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, was that she seemed to be a smart, pleasant person who largely voted in ways of which I approved. (There are a number of smart, pleasant people who largely vote in ways of which I don’t approve, and there are colossal dicks who vote in ways of which I approve, and there are colossal dicks who vote in ways of which I do not approve. Humans are a mystery.) I don’t recall her being terribly involved in the confirmation hearings for Justice Neil Gorsuch. However, starting about two weeks ago, or roughly the same time as Brett Kavanaugh dropped by the Senate Judiciary Committee on which she serves, Mazie Hirono decided it was time to unleash hell.

On Tuesday, frustrated at the piddling, dilatory response to the charges against Kavanaugh, Hirono said this:


“Guess who’s perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country. I just want to say to the men in this country: Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing for a change.”

Then, on Thursday, responding to Republican assertions that they were doing all they could to accommodate Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and that they were taking her charges seriously, Hirono said this to ABC News:

“We’re not consulted at all. I would like to have us come together and figure out what is the best way to proceed. Not this seat of the pants stuff, and the latest being a letter from the chairman to the Democrats saying we have done everything we can to contact her—that is such bullshit I can hardly stand it.”

(I should note that the senator is welcome to swing on by the shebeen at any time. She seems to be a blogging natural.)

Sens Hirono And Gillibrand Accept Letter Supporting Christine Blasey Ford

“I’ve been fighting these fights for a — I was going to say f-ing long time,” Hirono said in the interview, glancing over at an aide before uttering the expletive a few moments later as the interview continued.

Go for the gold, senator. Say it out loud.

President Trump's Supreme Court Justice Pick Brett Kavanaugh's Nomination In Jeopardy Over Past Accusations

The Senate’s only immigrant takes that fight to President Trump, whom she openly calls “xenophobic” and a “liar.” “To call the president a liar, that is not good, but it happens to be the truth,” the soft-spoken Hawaii senator told Time recently. The Democrat also takes that fight to Senate Judiciary Committee, as it weekly considers a tranche of Trump judicial nominees, abandoning long-standing rules that guaranteed significant time to examine each nominee’s record. There are lots of big-gun Democrats on the committee, senators who get a lot more attention than Hirono. But she is perhaps the most dogged, albeit polite, questioner.

She also has a remarkable personal story, as Totenberg relates. She is the only true immigrant in the Senate, having been hauled off to Hawaii from Japan by her mother to get the family away from an alcoholic ne’er-do-well father. She also apparently ran against the grain of the Hawaiian political establishment to get where she is today, a newly recognized legitimate badass in the Senate.

After a long day, this reporter asked her why her skepticism about Trump judicial nominees is any different from Republican skepticism of Obama nominees. Her reply was that what she wants are judges who are fair and qualified and “care about individual and civil rights.” And then, without missing a beat, she added, “If that’s considered liberal, as opposed to what I call justice and fairness, as I am wont to say, ‘F*** them!’ “

And, one presumes, the horses on which they rode in.

President Good Brain’s Latest Genius Idea: Build the Wall…Across the Sahara Desert


President Good Brain’s Latest Genius Idea: Build the Wall…Across the Sahara Desert

You like that one? How about Silent Bombs?

By Jack Holmes      September 20, 2018

President Trump Hosts Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration At The White HouseGetty ImagesAlex Wong.

President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, is soaking up all the headlines at the moment, and with good reason. It’s not just that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh also has a Totally Normal financial background that has largely gone unexplored, and there’s reason to believe he may have lied under oath on multiple occasions while testifying before Congress.

But while all that and Hurricane Florence have been percolating in The Discourse, we’ve learned a little bit more about how our Large, Adult President’s very good brain works. It’s worth pausing to digest a few of his new ideas—or at least the ones we’ve recently learned about. After all, it’s always nice to be reminded that the world’s most powerful man is swimming in a mental sea of informational flotsam. Most of what you might otherwise call his knowledge consists of fragments of reality he internalized around 1982. Those fact-like objects have been fermenting there ever since, re-filtering through his kaleidoscopic reasoning faculties each time he dispensed a crank observation at cocktail party.

Now, of course, he’s the president. Here are some of the things he thinks.

Build the Wall (in the Sahara)

Saharan Twilight

President Trump recommended building a wall across the Sahara to solve Europe’s migrant crisis, Spain’s foreign minister says. Josep Borrell, also a former President of the European Parliament, disagreed with the strategy.

You don’t say. I can’t believe the Spaniards didn’t bite on you should build a 3,000-mile wall, at incredible expense, through one of Earth’s most extreme environments. “The border with the Sahara cannot be bigger than our border with Mexico,” Trump reportedly told the minister, a statement that has the downside of being verifiably false. (The U.S.-Mexico border is less than 2,000 miles.) Of course, Trump doesn’t think in those terms. Reality can be molded to suit his needs and wants, and besides, if he doesn’t know something it’s probably unknowable. It can’t possibly be bigger, he suggests, and more to the point, how could we possibly know?


Spain has no sovereignty over the Sahara, but it does possess two small enclaves on the north African coast, Ceuta and Melilla, separated from Morocco by controversial wire fences. The enclaves have become magnets for African migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

Funny enough, the proposal shares a lot in common with the proposed Wall on our southern border. There are issues with Native American sovereignty, there is already a fence in some areas, and, of course, it won’t actually fix the problem.

Silent Bombs

Reaper Aircraft Flies Without Pilot From Creech AFB

When the agency’s head of drone operations explained how the CIA had developed special munitions to limit civilian casualties, the president seemed nonplused. Shown a strike in which the CIA delayed firing until the target was a safe distance from a compound with other occupants, Trump asked, “Why did you wait?” And when Trump noticed that militants had scattered seconds before another drone attack, he said, “Can they hear the bombs coming? We should make the bombs silent so they can’t get away.”

It obviously jumps out that our president thinks this is how, well, bombs work. But the more pressing issue is his absolute commitment to racking up civilian casualties. We’ve discussed before his inability to empathize with other human beings, but this seems to be on another level. It’s particularly reassuring when Trump has reopened the CIA’s lethal drone program—missions were shifted exclusively to the military towards the end of the Obama years after criticism of its secrecy and civilian casualties—and we’re now apparently running drones over large parts of Africa, too.

“Just Run the Presses”

New Series 2001 One Dollar Bill Notes

As a candidate, Donald Trump pledged to balance the federal budget and lower the national debt, promises that are proving difficult to keep. Once he won, Trump considered an unusual approach that was quickly slapped down by his chief economic advisor…

“Just run the presses — print money,” Trump said, according to Woodward, during a discussion on the national debt with Gary Cohn, former director of the White House National Economic Council.

“You don’t get to do it that way,” Cohn said, according to Woodward. “We have huge deficits and they matter. The government doesn’t keep a balance sheet like that.”

Cohn was “astounded at Trump’s lack of basic understanding,” Woodward writes.

He honestly thought you could just print the $20 trillion and wipe out the debt.

President Trump Unveils His Infrastructure Initiative With State And Local Officials In The State Dining Room Of White House

Take his discussion with Cohn on trade:

“Several times [chief economic adviser Gary] Cohn just asked the president, ‘Why do you have these views [on trade]?’ ‘I just do,’ Trump replied. ‘I’ve had these views for 30 years.’ ‘That doesn’t mean they’re right,’ Cohn said. ‘I had the view for 15 years I could play professional football. It doesn’t mean I was right.'”

The president’s views on trade are his views because they’ve been his views for 30 years. They’re right because they’re his views and always have been. There’s no need to learn anything when you already know it all—and you know you know it all because you know what you know. God help us.

Republicans, be forewarned: Kavanaugh’s accuser has options

The Washington Post -Opinions

Democracy Dies in Darkness

Republicans, be forewarned: Kavanaugh’s accuser has options

Jennifer Rubin, Opinion Writer         September 20, 2018

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Opinion | Have we changed since Anita Hill’s testimony?

As Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces a sexual misconduct allegation, columnist Ruth Marcus asks, who’s responsible for the burden of proof? 

The Post Reports:

Senate Republicans strongly signaled on Wednesday that they will forge ahead with embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation as his accuser called the rush for a public hearing next week unfair.

GOP senators who fretted earlier this week about the prospects for President Trump’s pick are now largely pushing for a vote on Kavanaugh, who is accused of sexually assaulting now-professor Christine Blasey Ford when they were teenagers, amid signs that she may decline to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. And Trump is more convinced he should stand by Kavanaugh than he was two days ago, people close to the White House say.

Trump, whom a flock of women has accused of harassment and assault, and the all-male Republican contingent on the Senate Judiciary Committee might think they have Ford cornered. The reality is that she has many options, some of which are far more dangerous to Republicans than what she has demanded, namely an FBI investigation.

Ford might choose to appear on Monday, and make a powerful opening statement accusing Republicans of running a sham investigation. Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has figured out it would be a good idea to interview her in advance of Monday’s hearings, but the staffers conducting the interview would be unlikely to have the ability or the will to follow up on investigative leads. Ford can and should refuse to give her inquisitors two bites at the apple. When she gets in front of the cameras, she should remind the country:

• This concerns attempted rape, something far more serious than the allegations raised by Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas during his 1991 confirmation hearings.

•  The FBI investigated Hill’s claims within three days (Republicans could have sent the FBI and gotten a report back by now if they hadn’t been stalling).

• Mark Judge allegedly witnessed the attack, but Republicans refuse to call him as a witness, so we can assume that they regard him as a person who would harm Kavanaugh’s defense.

• Republicans’ insistence that Ford provide even more detail is hypocritical (since they don’t want an FBI investigation) and misguided, given the large body of research concerning memories of victims of sexual assault (e.g., gaps in memory are common).

• If Kavanaugh was an excessive drinker in high school, as has been alleged, he’s in no position to testify accurately as to what he did and didn’t do.

• The unsubstantiated attacks on Ford by members such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reveal that they have predetermined the outcome of the hearing. (“She had plenty of chances to bring it up, she did not,” Graham said. “We’re not going to play this game anymore. We [want] Miss Ford to be heard but clearly to me, in August, she hired a lawyer who’s a very activist lawyer, who does not like President Trump and paid for a polygraph.”) But this is no “game,” and Ford has every right to seek counsel to fend off attacks like the very ones that Republican senators are making.

In short, Ford can use the hearing to put the senators, who have behaved shabbily, on defense.

Ford has another option: Hold a news conference with her own experts and make the case directly to the American people. She can sit down for an interview with a respected TV journalist. She can say whatever she wants, make certain that experts are heard and even recount the much more extensive investigative efforts undertaken when Hill stepped forward. To make her case to the American people and convince them that she is sincere, honest and credible, Ford doesn’t need the Senate.

Ford also might have the ability to go to local police to investigate if the White House refuses to activate the FBI. The Hill reports: “Can Brett Kavanaugh be investigated for an attempted rape he allegedly committed over three decades ago? In Maryland, it’s entirely possible under the law, according to some experts. Now members of the American public are calling for Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh to open an investigation, especially if the FBI doesn’t.” That would be a process over which neither the Senate nor the Trump administration would have any control.

In short, Ford has a powerful story to tell. In trying to jam her into their abbreviated, one-sided process, Senate Republicans open the door to far more dangerous options, where the American people get to judge for themselves whether she is credible. As Kavanaugh’s approval rating slides, Republicans need to consider whether it is worth unleashing a firestorm to defend a nominee who might be a further drag on their midterm races.

Read more:

In an infuriating rush to seat Kavanaugh, senators say the darnedest things

Republicans are fearful of a full airing of an attempted rape allegation

Kavanaugh’s confirmation went seriously off track weeks ago

What Kavanaugh deserves — and what we deserve from him

Yahoo News

Matt Bai’s Political World

Matt Bai          September 20, 2018

GOP Fakes Sincerity for Kavanaugh’s Accuser, Then Goes In for Kill


Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

Well, it seems the Republicans have learned exactly one thing in the 27 years since the Anita Hill hearings: be respectful to the woman in the first 24 hours. Hey, that’s progress. At this rate, they’ll demand an FBI investigation in 2045, and by 2072, who knows, maybe they’ll actually believe the woman!

Read this New York Times article from October 7, 1991. It’s the first-day article announcing the explosive news that Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment just two days away from his full Senate confirmation vote.

In it, the reporter writes that the George H.W. Bush White House began pushback against Hill that very day, or the day before: White House staffers gave reporters the name of another woman who had worked with Hill and Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and would vouch for Thomas. The woman said Hill was making the charges up out of spite that Thomas “did not show any sexual interest in her” (the Times’ words, not the woman’s).

Compare to today. Kellyanne Conway said straight out of the chute that Dr. Ford deserves to be heard. Donald Trump said nothing untoward about her. Can you imagine how itchy his Twitter finger was on Monday morning? But they hid his smart phone in the White House gym or vegetable cellar or some other chamber Trump doesn’t frequent.

I’m not complimenting them. I’m observing that they figured out that the narrative on these kinds of things is set in the first 24 hours and so it was crucial that for those 24 hours, they behave themselves. Seem like they learned from last time, or even from #MeToo.

Lindsey Graham, earlier in the week, even uttered the r-word: “I’d have a hard time putting somebody on the Court that I thought tried to rape somebody. Period.” That quote arrested me, as it seemed to indicate that Graham was actually being open to the possibility of an investigation to determine just what Brett Kavanaugh actually did that night.

But within 24 hours, Graham was back on side. “Requiring an FBI investigation of a 36-year-old allegation (without specific references to time or location) before Professor Ford will appear before the Judiciary Committee is not about finding the truth, but delaying the process till after the midterm elections,” Graham tweeted after Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer said she wanted an FBI investigation before testifying. “It is imperative the Judiciary committee move forward on the Kavanaugh nomination and a committee vote be taken ASAP.”

So that’s what they’ve learned in 27 years—and evidently, it’s all they need to learn, because it looks like it’s going to get their nominee through. They played it cool at the start so that the first-day stories wouldn’t say the Republicans blew a gasket and immediately started discrediting the woman; so that instead, those stories would say “Republicans agree Dr. Ford should be heard.” Establish them as reasonable people. Then, once they skated through that news cycle, they’d start turning the screws.

They played it like Bond villains. Sit down, Meestah Bond. We are both men of the world. We have much to discuss. Beluga caviar? Dom Perignon ’55? What’s that, you prefer the ’53? Alfonso, down to the cellar, fetch a bottle of the ’53! It’s all civility for a few hours. Then they attach him to the laser beam machine with the piranhas swimming below.

That’s what the Republicans do, except they’re smarter than Blofeld. They don’t walk away so the captive can escape. They stay and watch. They finish the job.

They know exactly what they can get away with, because they know the sad truth of the matter. The sad truth of the matter is that Ford and her lawyers don’t have the leverage to force an FBI investigation or delay the hearing. The only leverage Ford had, potentially, was if Donald Trump had called her a liar and a slut in those first 24 hours. Then, she’d have been a figure of enormous sympathy. Now, alas, she’s mostly a figure of partisan sympathy.

Mind you, she shouldn’t have to demand an FBI probe. If the Republicans were actually interested in learning the truth about what happened on that long-ago night, of course they’d want the FBI to look into it. If the White House was interested, it would have directed the FBI to get to the bottom of her allegations.

By the way, if this isn’t too dog-bites-man, Donald Trump lied about all that. “The FBI said they don’t really do that,” he said Tuesday. No. According to Pete Williams of NBC news, it’s up to the White House to ask the FBI to investigate.

But they didn’t want an FBI probe. They were terrified of what an FBI probe would find, just as they were all mortified at the idea that they might have to be relying on Mark Judge as a character witness.

So they’re getting their way, probably. Although Ford could still show up next Monday and blow people away. She’d need to find just the right tone in telling them, ‘You set me up; you made me come up here with a few days’ preparation while getting death threats and take your best shots, and fine, I’m doing it.’ If she does testify and does it well, she can turn this around one more time.

And if she can’t, well, that’s a hell of a weight to put on someone who was a private person minding her own business until five days ago. I believe her. I bet most people believe her. I bet Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski end up believing her. But I bet they won’t have the courage to admit it.

Just remember: If Kavanaugh does make it, there’s one good way to get revenge. Vote. Vote, vote, vote. Make the Senate Democratic. That should ensure no more Supreme Court choices for Trump if another vacancy opens up (the Democrats just need to stonewall, as the Republicans did to Merrick Garland) and virtually no confirmations of any consequence.

The time to stop Kavanaugh was 2016. But the time to stop future ones? That starts this November 6.