All posts by mallagher

Whopper News on Brexit from the ECJ

Theresa May is just about to put her unpopular Brexit deal before Parliament. But not so fast. The ECJ has just ruled on a case brought from Scotland, finding that the UK can unilaterally revoke its Article 50 letter that started the process of exiting.

Hmmm … sounds a bit complicated, but it is not.The UK could always have asked to reverse the process. The problem was that if it did, many thought that the return to the EU would have to be approved by all of the other member states. The ECJ has ruled that this is not the case If the UK unilaterally and unconditionally revokes its Article 50 letter, we go back to square one. The UK is back in the EU as if nothing had ever happened.

Will Theresa May do this? She and her government —- what’s left of it — have said that they will not. But they may be forced to if parliament does not approve the deal on the table.

Stay tuned!

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The Odd Thing About Trump’s Witch Hunt Claim

I am sure that you have seen it a hundred times. The Trumpster lashes out at the Mueller investigation, calling it a “witch hunt”.

There are several odd things about this.

First, by definition, witch hunts punished innocent people. because witches did not exist. But can the Trumpster claim at this sage that he is innocent? After what we know from Flynn and Cohen, Trump is about as innocent as a fox exiting the hen house with something drooping from its mouth.

There is another thing

“We’ve turned the expression (witch hunt) on its head. Traditionally a witchcraft charge amounted to powerful men charging powerless women with a phony crime. Now it is powerful men screeching that they are being charged with phony crimes,” Stacey Schiff, who wrote a 2015 book about Salem called The Witches, told Vox over email. “Unfair targeting is the only thing the two have in common, and even that is debatable.”

Trump will not let up on his claims that he is being unfairly investigated. He may keep on making that claim — if anyone will still listen — after he is convicted. The question is how much longer Republicans will take it at face value. My best guess is that they will keep trying to find some way to deflect guilt from Trump.

Hence the recent grilling of Comey behind closed doors.

But so far, they have come up with bupkis. Meanwhile, Mueller has come up with lots and lots.  Some witch hunt!

Cavorting About in Mayfair

If you could afford it … and I mean that money is no object  … where would you like to spend your time?

You might want a palatial home somewhere, and perhaps a place to escape to. But you probably also would like a “pad” in town. What town? Historically, London was one of those places that offered pretty much everything to those who could afford it. And where in London? Hmmm …

Younger folks might go for trendier areas. Places where hipsters, foodies, digital nomads, etc. gather and party. These days, perhaps Peckham? But if you are beyond that sort of scene, and are looking for the creature comforts of big city living,  Mayfair has to be considered.

Mayfair,(is) synonymous with luxury and elegance, where the shopping meccas of Old Bond and New Bond streets converge, where a dinner tab at Claridge’s or the Connaught can set you back a week’s wages (but where the people-watching is worth the price of admission), and where “putting on the Ritz” means more than checking into the luxe Piccadilly hotel.

Hmmm … remember in this fantasy episode, money is not an issue.

And where in Mayfair?  Shepherd Market?

Shepherd Market is a square developed between 1735 and 1746 by Edward Shepherd from an open area called Brook Field, through which flowed the Tyburn, and where a May fair was held, from which the surrounding area of Mayfair derives its name.[3] Shepherd, a local architect, was commissioned to develop the site and work was completed in the mid-18th century. It contained paved alleys, a duck pond, and a two-storey market topped by a theatre.

Image result for Shepherd Market London

It has a roguish history

During the 1920s, Shepherd Market was a rundown area, popular with writers and artists such as Michael Arlen and Sophie Fedorovitch.[4] Arlen rented rooms opposite The Grapes public house and used Shepherd Market as the setting for his best-selling 1924 novel The Green Hat, which prompted Anthony Powell to move into the area in 1926

And it was known for upscale prostitution, and rock stars. In a weird coincidence, both Cass Eliot and Keith Moon kicked the bucket  at Flat 12, 9 Curzon Place. Not at the same time, mind you. If you want to walk around Shepherd Market, and a peek in the Shepherd Market Wine House, check out this link!

But Mayfair has a lot more to offer! Lot’s, lot’s more. We will look at just two streets – Curzon Street and Half Moon Street.

Image result for Half Moon Street Mayfair map

As you can see from the map, Curzon Street is parallel to Piccadilly, whil Half Moon intersects it.

Oscar Wilde’s Lord Goring had a house on Curzon Street.  Rather grand! Roald Dahl’s character Henry Sugar lives on Curzon Street, and causes a disturbance by throwing large amounts of money down into the street from his balcony. In the real world, among other luminaries, Disraeli lived there.

You also will find Crockford’s Club on Curzon Street. BTW, this is not the original Crockford’s. That establishment, founded in 1823, then closed in 1845, then re-opened in 1928 was finally closed in 1970.. It was located on St. James’s.  Old man Crockford was quite the character

He fleeced the aristocracy by taking a charge on every bet laid, and in the process amassed a fortune estimated at the time of his ‘retirement’ in 1840 to have been £1,200,000 in the currency of the time,[citation needed][4] certainly enough to establish homes at 11 Carlton House Terrace at which he died (later to become Prime Minister William Gladstone’s home) and at Panton House, Newmarket

Just for fun, here is the original site, which became the Devonshire Club. More recently, the site at 50 St. James’s was bought by a Russian billionaire who has redeveloped it into another exclusive club.

Image result for original Crockfords

The new Crockford’s Club aspires to the original idea that made the original Crockford so rich.  It s decor is not understated.

Curzon Street offers a treat that is more to my taste which is more understated— the Heywood Hill bookshop.

Image result for Heywood Hill

But let’s move on! What about Half Moon Street?

Although Half Moon Street is now one of London’s most luxurious and sought after addresses, back in 1880s Victorian London it was a highly colourful and bohemian place, where “confirmed bachelors,” artistic types and theatre people lived and socialised.

It is an odd name, don’t you think?

The street was named after the raucous “Half Moon” public house which stood on the corner with Piccadilly. It was where Oscar Wilde spent his free time.

Wilde again! Sadly, the Half Moon public house  is no more. But all is not lost. There are other options nearby

the Audley on South Audley St and Mount St, … is good. It … was built back in the 1890s to superior specifications as the most luxurious public house in the area. Food is a bit expensive, but this is the most expensive part of town

Image result for Audley Mount Street

(a) favourite in the area is the Red Lion in Waverton Street, which a lot of people find hard to find as it’s away from the busy areas:

Image result for Red Lion Waverton Street

While talking about Half Moon Stree,t, you would have to mention Flemings.

Image result for Flemings Half Moon Street

It opened in 1851, making it one of London’s oldest hotels.

Flemings Mayfair London was founded by Robert Fleming in 1851. A stained glass window in the hotel celebrates this date, portraying the Great Exhibition of 1851 at Crystal Palace.

Robert Fleming was born in 1820. His father, William Fleming, was a victualler. Robert worked for the Marquis & Marchioness of Angelsey, serving them at their house at 1 Old Burlington Street in Mayfair.

In 1851 Robert Fleming owned and ran a lodging house at number 10 Half Moon Street (believed to have originated in 1730). Robert Fleming started running what he called a ‘private hotel’ in 1855, at 9 & 10 Half Moon Street

Flemings has recently had a serious upgrade, and like the area, it has a posh feel.

Indeed, the residences on Half Moon Street  are targeted to those whose monthly credit card bills tend towards the six digits. This address was advertised a few years back for £14 million

Here is the promo

The historic Grade II listed house which inspired Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest” (1895) is on sale for £14 million ($18.2 million).

Wilde (1854 – 1900) based one of the play’s main characters, Algernon Moncrieff’s bachelor pad on the property, which is at 14 Half Moon Street in London’s Mayfair.

Wilde yet again!  He placed at least two major characters from his plays in Mayfair – on Curzon Street and on Half Moon Street and apparently fancied a tipple at the Half Moon public house. BTW,  to my knowledge, Wilde never actually lived in Mayfair, though it is written that he was a regular visitor to Brown’s Hotel on Albermarle Street.

Image result for Brown's Hotel London

Brown’s is for those who want a grand hotel, but not the pomp that you get at nearby Claridges. Here is a peek at their lobby

Related image

Claridges was founded in 1812 under another name. But the current building dates from 1894.

The reputation of (Claridges) was confirmed in 1860 when Empress Eugenie made an extended visit and entertained Queen Victoria at the hotel.

In fact, Wile is best known for  a residence that he bought on Tite Street in Chelsea.  And yet, you cannot blame the marketers for associating Wilde with Mayfair The ambiance just sort of fits, don’t you think?

That is an ambiance that is hard not to like.

The Republican Party Has Gone Rogue!! What to do?

Things were not always like this. Many years ago, the Republican Party was the party of stability and order. Think, for example of Eisenhower, who rebuilt the party after decades of democratic domination in the FDR and Truman eras. Ike followed the rules. Some years later, self-proclaimed conservative guru William Buckley said that he agreed with the goals of the civil rights movement, but disapproved of the disorderly ways that they sought to achieve them. Their failure, he said, was in confronting authority with “civil disobedience”. In Buckley’s mind, the unlawfulness negated the justice of their cause.  So it was that Republicans have said for many years that they were proud to be the party of “law and order”. That was their appeal to the suburban middle class who feared violence in the urban (black) centers — errrr , where voters also happened generally to favor democrats.

No longer. Perhaps it was Nixon who introduced the “win at all costs” mentality into the party. Later on, this may have been abetted by Reagan who asserted that republican ideology was the real American way — and democrats were therefore not only deluded, but less legitimate. And then came the dirty tricksters like Lee Atwater who were masters of media manipulation.

That mentality has metastasized within the party  an gives us our current version of republican politics.  There is no coherent agenda except coddling up to powerful interests in order to stay in power.  So, for example, if Barrack Obama said he would bring change to Washington, the republicans would oppose him at every turn in a “scorched earth” war. It mattered not a jot if Obama was as mild as a church mouse. He was a democrat!

Without a credible agenda, we now get the party unable to confront even a mendacious buffoon like Donald Trump. And now that it suffered a disastrous election cycle in 2018, republicans are refusing to let go of power.

This policy effort to refuse Democrats power, at all costs, did not begin with the lame-duck session of 2018. What’s happening now is a part of an ongoing process by Republicans in the courts and in elected office to increase power for their own wealthy interests, attack and divide Democratic Party constituencies and create voting obstacles that dilute equal representation.

The above article from Vox goes into this in more detail. The problem here is obvious. Republicans are getting more and more comfortable with the idea of a one party system. Instead of winning the battle of ideas, they are trying to preempt debate over ideas by guaranteeing that they stay in power using “other means”.

Looking back, the trend should have been obvious a long time ago. But somehow, Americans grew to accept that politics was a game that could be played “rough”. Winners were admired even if they won by bending the rules. What to do now? Amazingly, Americans have to face up to a challenge that some of their fellow citizens do not hold the same core democratic values that we thought the country was founded upon.

And that brings me to the rather hapless Michael Cohen.  Cohen pleaded guilty, among other things, to violating US Election Laws by funneling hush money  on the eve of the 2016 presidential election to two women in order to quash stories of their sexual dalliances with Donald Trump. Last week, US prosecutors from the Southern District of New York ripped into Cohen in their sentencing brief, arguing that he defrauded the public and distorted the election.

Well, is this such a big deal? Or is this just posturing by the prosecutors who were angry that Cohen refused to sign a cooperation agreement with them? You make the call.

The truly amazing thing for me is that the now established facts that Trump had these affairs, lied about them, ordered the payment of hush money on the eve of the election, and lied about that as well, has caused not a ripple of unrest or anger, let alone disgust, among Republicans in Congress. They are ok with it, along with the avalanche of other “stuff” that Trump and his minions have orchestrated while in the White House. After all, Trump is a Republican president!

And in light of that, consider a comment by William Barr, who may become the next attorney general, and as such would oversee the Mueller investigation. Barr complained that the Mueller team did not have enough political balance. Meaning — not enough republicans! Yup, there is apparently such a thing as the republican rule of law.

Some Advice from the Count of Monte Cristo!

The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure story written by Alexandre Dumas in 1844. And what an adventure! It was immensely popular and in this century, it has been brought to the screen more than once. The latest version came out in 2002, directed by Kevin Reynolds. This version changes the story a bit, but I think it succeeds as a story.

In this film clip, the Count is attending the celebration of the coming of age of a young man. The Count believes that the father of the young man is his great enemy. The mother is his former love, who has not yet recognized who he really. Attending the party is part of he Count’s plan to gain revenge for the terrible betrayals he suffered. at their hands and others But you sense none of this in the great toast that the Count gives the young man. You only understand the meaning hidden in his words if you know the terrible story of the Count himself.

Enjoy!

The Sixers Win Ugly Against the Pistons

You just knew that the Sixers/Raptors game on Wednesday was going to take a lot out of both teams. And sure enough, the Raptors — who were sky high on Wednesday — lost to the lowly Nets on Friday. And the Sixers, who go thrashed on Wednesday had to face the Pistons in Detroit without Joel Embiid (who was rested after a dreadful performance on Wednesday).

A sure loss, right? .

The Sixers played terrible basketball. The good news is that the Pistons did too. In other words, this was not the most inspiring game to watch. Neither team shot well, and both teams threw the ball away often. When the Sixers went down by 15 at the close of the first half,  it looked pretty bleak.

Then things got interesting. The Sixers closed the gap, and the intensity rose in the 4th quarter. The Pistons decided to go to their strengths — inside play by Drummond and Griffith. And the two big dudes got stuffed repeatedly! Muscala and Simmons and Chandler and Butler all had great defensive plays.  Talk about rising to the occasion!

Philly rattled off 6 blocks in about 3 minutes of play and finished with 12 in total. The announcers couldn’t believe it. First Wilson Chandler, then Simmons, then Muscala, then Simmons again! Block party in downtown Detroit!

And Butler showed his merit on the offensive side. The dude can create offense, and he did. He made good decisions, created open space and made buckets. He ended up with 38. Combined with Ben, the two had 56. and 20 rebounds.

What to make of the Pistons? They have some talent. And they can play well for stretches at a time. But for some reason, I just don’t think they are going to go deep in the playoffs. They lack consistency.. Something that the Sixers gained when the picked up Jimmy Buckets.

Will the Sixers beat the Pistons again on Monday? Say tuned!