I just can’t get past Jeb Bush’s remarks about the mass shooting in Oregon: “Stuff happens.” In context, the meaning is the same. Here’s full quote:
“We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s very sad to see.
But I resist the notion—and I had this challenge as governor—because we had—look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
I think what was shocking to many commentators is that Bush didn’t express any sadness or horror at the senseless murder of nine people.
The truth is that Bush was simply being honest about Republican policy–the solution to problems that affect ordinary people is not government or laws. There is nothing we can do, because laws and regulations will cause inconveniences for other people. We just have to accept that the cost of “freedom” is that people will periodically be murdered with high powered weapons, and that is the price we must pay so that people can have all the guns they want.
Here’s Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine explaining that Bush was simply stating GOP policy in frank terms:
The news media immediately initiated its gaffe sequence, reducing Bush’s response to “stuff happens” and the context to the shootings in Oregon. Omitted from the gaffication was the intermediary process in Bush’s reply, when he generalized from a particular shooting to public problems in general, which led him to his position that frequently events occur and the proper response is nothing. That idea is not always wrong, not even for liberals, and certainly not for conservatives. Those of us who favor gun control find it terribly wrong as a response to mass shootings. But, again, denying any public policy response to endemic gun violence is a completely standard position in the GOP.
So the impulse to call Bush’s response a gaffe rests instead upon the callousness of the wording — “stuff happens.” But Bush was not applying that phrase specifically to yesterday’s tragedy. He was generalizing about events — many of them, yes, tragic. He was not dismissing the scope of the tragedy in Oregon. And without that element, there is not, or should not be, anything especially troublesome aside from the fact that Bush subscribes to a party doctrine that dismisses even the most sensible and minor limits on access to deadly weaponry.
Here is the video with some commentary from The New York Daily News.
Of course Bush and his fellow GOPers don’t apply their “stuff happens” philosophy when it comes to women’s reproductive health. When it comes to anything involving women, no amount of regulation is enough for them. Women should be returned to the status they held in the 1950s and early 1960s. They should be at home caring for large numbers of children, cooking, cleaning, and generally acting like servants for their husbands. What about women who choose not to be married?
Hey, stuff happens. If you can’t get a decent job and you automatically get less pay than your male counterparts, that’s just the way it is. Government can’t solve your problems. What if you can’t afford to have a child or you were raped or you’re a 12-year-old girl impregnated by her stepfather or father? Tough luck. You should have the baby and be grateful for what “god” gave you. Of course we’ll still call you a slut and a whore if you aren’t married.
What if you have black or brown skin and people are prejudiced against you? What if they even attack you violently because of the color of your skin? What if they make you go to separate schools and make you drink out of separate drinking fountains? What if they won’t let you vote?
Hey, stuff happens. Laws won’t change anything.
Except that is what happened. Government leaders took action and laws changed. Women gained some rights and privileges that had been denied them right up until the 1970s. Black people were integrated into schools and “separate but equal” was replaced with equality for all. Sure it wasn’t perfect, but to the extent that changes happened, government and laws played important roles.
Of course Jeb Bush’s mistake was that he stated Republican attitudes honestly. Republicans are supposed use weasel words and vague generalities instead of coming right out and saying, “Tough luck, stuff happens.”
There is also a larger context for Jeb Bush’s words. Remember Donald Rumsfeld’s reaction to the out-of-control looting of Iraq’s precious national treasures? From CNN, April 12, 2003:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday the looting in Iraq was a result of “pent-up feelings” of oppression and that it would subside as Iraqis adjusted to life without Saddam Hussein.
He also asserted the looting was not as bad as some television and newspaper reports have indicated and said there was no major crisis in Baghdad, the capital city, which lacks a central governing authority. The looting, he suggested, was “part of the price” for what the United States and Britain have called the liberation of Iraq.
“Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things,” Rumsfeld said. “They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that’s what’s going to happen here.”
Looting, he added, was not uncommon for countries that experience significant social upheaval. “Stuff happens,” Rumsfeld said.
As we all know, stuff kept right on happening in Iraq and stuff is still happening there and in Afghanistan and Syria, thanks to the second Bush administration. Now Jeb! wants to be the third President Bush. Fortunately, he’s so ham-handed, incompetent, and uncharismatic that he probably won’t get that chance.
But the simple truth is that with today’s Republican Party in charge, we are not going to be able to solve problems that affect ordinary Americans. The only thing government will be permitted to do is enable giant corporations to destroy the economy and the environment and generally ensure that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Of course many Republicans recognize that Bush hurt himself with his honesty. Here’s Ed Straker at The Daily Thinker:
In a poll with a margin of error of about 5%, Jeb Bush is polling at 4%. That means, statistically speaking, that it is possible that Jeb Bush is at zero percent in the polls. The last time I wrote this about a candidate, he ended up out of the race shortly thereafter. I hope the same does not happen to Jeb, because then the amnesty crowd will be forced to pin their hopes on Marco Rubio, who has the same sweaty nervousness giving speeches as a first-time bank robber handing a furtive note to a bank teller.
But even Politico, the website of liberal Democrats and their Republican friends, is starting to turn on Jeb, featuring an article telling of his most recent flubs.
Speaking about the massacre in Roseburg, Oregon, Jeb says, “Stuff happens.” Some conservative websites say that quote was taken out of context, but it wasn’t. Listen to it yourself. He is clearly responding to the shooting, and chose his words very badly.
Donald Trump’s comments on the Oregon mass murder were similar to Jeb Bush’s. Josh Voorhees at Slate:
On Friday morning, an unusually calm Donald Trump offered his take on what can be done to prevent the next massacre on U.S. soil: nothing.
“First of all, you have very strong laws on the books, but you’re always going to have problems,” Trump said during a telephone interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “We have millions and millions of people, we have millions and millions of sick people all over the world. It can happen all over the world and it does happen all over the world, by the way. But this is sort of unique to this country, the school shootings. And you’re going to have difficulty no matter what.”
Trump added later: “It’s not politically correct to say that, but you’re going to have difficulty and that will be for the next million years, there’s going to be difficulty and people are going to slip through the cracks. What are you going to do, institutionalize everybody?”
Trump didn’t come right out and say “stuff happens,” but that’s obviously what he meant. Government can do things to help the rich, but not the rest of us. Tough luck folks. Stuff happens. More from Voorhees’ piece:
You don’t have to squint to find the irony in Trump’s comments, and not just because the GOP front-runner managed to talk about a mass shooting without ever once directly mentioning guns, aka the very weapon of choice for this particular killer—just like it was for those murderers that came before him at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown, and the countless other schools that were the settings for similarly horrible violence. In that way, Trump’s not unlike the rest of his GOP rivals who, as my colleague Will Saletan notes, continue to maintain that gun violence isn’t a gun problem.
What’s so remarkable about Trump effectively throwing in the towel on this topic is that his whole campaign is predicated on the idea that he’d be able to fix all of the nation’s woes with the sheer force of his personality. Here’s a man, after all, whose heartless immigration policy is built on the premise that he’d construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that would ensure that no one—and especially not would-be criminals like the one man who allegedly killed Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco—could slip through the cracks, and yet here he is suggesting that there’s nothing to be done about school shootings because ultimately there will always be people who slip through the cracks.
That’s because the “problems” Trump and the rest of today’s Republicans want to “solve” aren’t the same problems the rest of us care about.
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comments. This is an open thread.
Posted: October 2, 2015
Well, the GOP will pretty much let the mother die period…they don’t give a rat’s ass about women at all…GOP lawmaker doesn’t get why Planned Parenthood exists: ‘As a guy,’ I can just go someplace else for care
Yup. So…..Did ya hear?
Pro-life advocates celebrated approval of the new anti-abortion drug UR-86 by the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday, calling it a “safe and effective method” for terminating pregnant women while leaving their unborn children unharmed.
Pfizer, manufacturer of UR-86—dubbed the “last-morning-ever pill”—said the drug is intended only for occasions when the mind-set or politics of the mother threaten the life of the fetus.
“This drug is designed for extreme cases in which the mother cannot or should not be saved, or when her health has been placed before that of her unborn child,” Pfizer spokesman Anthony Wright said.
The orally ingested drug first tests for the presence of a fetus. If the outcome is positive, a near-lethal dose of barbiturates is released, which induces a coma in the expectant mother until the child is born, at which point a second, fatal dose is released.
The FDA’s approval came after months of clinical trials firmly established that the fetus would be nourished and protected in the womb of the near-deceased UR-86 user.
Gender-equality advocates praised the introduction of the drug, calling it an “innovative solution” to the highly polarizing national abortion debate.
“This is a step forward for equality,” men’s rights activist Charles Hackett said. “For too long, women have had an unfair advantage in the outcome of a pregnancy. UR-86 levels the playing field for husbands and boyfriends across America.”
Yes, you’re goddamn right about that!
Pro-life advocates, many of whom had petitioned the FDA to approve UR-86 while the drug was still in the research-and-development stage, also reacted warmly to the FDA’s decision. Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, praised the new pharmaceutical for its potential use in cases of rape and incest, saying it could help end the shame and humiliation of such trauma while saving the life of the fetus.
“Victims of sexual assault can feel trapped, like they’ve got nowhere to turn,” Terry said. “Now, they can solve their deep, internal problems once and for all, without unfairly condemning their children.”
Yet critics say UR-86’s prescription-only status and the fact that most health insurance plans do not cover the drug limit its effectiveness, as it is not available to those who need it most.
“If people can’t afford the drug or get it prescribed on short notice, they’re not going to have enough time to act, especially when their wives want to end the pregnancy fast,” men’s issues commentator Stan Dynes said. “UR-86 should be made available over the counter as soon as possible. It’s the husband’s right to choose if this drug is right for him, and neither the government nor the medical elite should get in the way of that decision.”
Now for some news, not the onion, to put the comics in perspective:
Which is related to this:
Cagle cartoons, up next. You know what to do…
A couple of different views on Syria and Russia there.
Next up, a right wing cartoon…for what it is worth:
This is an open thread…
Posted: October 2, 2015
There’s a lot of news up today but the first thing I want to cover is the clarification made by the Vatican on the Kentucky Bigot Brigrade and the supposed papal visit. It looks like we have a case of extreme exaggeration or “telling a whopper” as we like to call it in my neck of the woods.
According to the Vatican, Pope Francis did not invite Kim Davis to meet him. There was no secret meeting, and the Pope had no idea who she was when he met her.
In a statement, the Vatican clarified that Pope Francis didn’t even know who Kim Davis was:
The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:
Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.
The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.
The Pope briefly met Kim Davis as part of a group, had no idea who she was, said hello to her, and moved on.
The Vatican’s version of events is the opposite of what Davis’s supporters are claiming happened. The anti-gay marriage crowd claimed that the Pope met with Davis in secret and expressed his support for her bigotry. The right has been using the imaginary meeting as an endorsement of their out of step views.
The extremist conservative movement’s attempt to use Pope Francis for propaganda purposes has fallen apart. Davis’s invitation had been extended by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the envoy in Washington. Viganò is well known to have gone further than others in the church in his campaign against gay marriage. The Pope did not invite Davis to meet him. In fact, according to the Vatican, Pope Francis had not been briefed on the situation and knew nothing about Davis.
The fact that the Vatican took such pains to distance themselves from Davis could logically be viewed as a rejection of her beliefs.
So, hopefully the Archbishop will be called to the Vatican woodshed and there will be a great big huge discussion on rending unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Either way, the Kentucky Bigot Brigade appears to following the usual tradition of lying your way to to what you think gawd wants.
Yet another abortion advocate is the target of death threats from the “pro-life” set. I’ve had all kinds of run ins with these folks over a period of about 30 years and it always ends in threats of violence. Lies and violence are their trademarks.
A few weeks ago, writers Amelia Bonow and Lindy West began the hashtag campaign #ShoutYourAbortion to encourage the one in three women who have had an abortion to speak out about their experience instead of being shamed into silence. Then came the death threats.
Bonow told the New York Times that the idea behind the campaign wasn’t to glorify the procedure, but instead to destigmatize it during a time when people are so angry about the topic they’re setting Planned Parenthood clinics on fire.
“A shout is not a celebration or a value judgment, it’s the opposite of a whisper, of silence,” Bonow told the Times. “Even women who support abortion rights have been silent, and told they were supposed to feel bad about having an abortion.”
In a social-media world that’s this upsetting and dangerous, no wonder some celebrities hire Twitter surrogates.
Increased violence against Planned Parenthood Clinics is on the FBI’s radar and has come about as the result of the intense lying of Congressional Republicans and idiots like Republican Presidential Wannabe Fiorina. Nothing ever good comes from whipping up a bunch of religious fanatics. Check the Middle East region if you need further proof.
As the national conversation on Planned Parenthood has become louder and more heated, politicians have warned that it could ignite acts of violence against clinics and neighborhood facilities.
Late Wednesday, for the second time in weeks, a Planned Parenthood center in Thousand Oaks came under attack, this time by an arsonist or arsonists who authorities believe smashed out a window, splashed gasoline inside the clinic and then ignited it.
Authorities say there’s no evidence the attack was related to the larger debate on Planned Parenthood, but said the West Hillcrest Drive facility was previously attacked by vandals six weeks ago.
No direct theats had been made to the facility or clinic workers before the fire, said Ventura County sheriff’s Capt. John Reilly.
A few plants near the window were blackened, but the small fire had been extinguished quickly because of a sprinkler system, Lohman said.
A fire in a Washington State Planned Parenthood that happened in early September was already ruled arson. As previously mentioned, the FBI is warning local law enforcement of the possibility of increased domestic terrorist activites aimed at Planned Parenthood.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned of an increasing number of attacks on reproductive healthcare facilities. “It is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities,” an FBI Intelligence Assessment reads,according to a CBS report Friday.
The finding comes after a July video from the pro-life Center for Medical Progress, which releasedsecretly taped footage of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they use tissues from aborted fetuses for medical research.
Since then, federal investigators have reported nine criminal or suspicious incidents at reproductive health centers across the country, which included cyberattacks, threats and arson. The FBI believes the incidents were “consistent with the actions of lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement,” sources told CBS.
So, this is in keeping with the latest mass shooting whose perpetrator is a self-confessed NAZI and “conservative Republican” who disliked “organized religion”. Chris Harper Mercer is yet another example of a lone wolf, young white male shooter with mental illness issues.
Mr. Mercer appeared to have sought community on the Internet. A picture of him holding a rifle appeared on a MySpace page with a post expressing a deep interest in the Irish Republican Army. It included footage from the conflict in Northern Ireland set to “The Men Behind the Wire,” an Irish republican song, and several pictures of gunmen in black balaclavas. Another picture showed the front page of An Phoblacht, the party newspaper of Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the I.R.A.
A picture of Mr. Mercer also appeared on a long-dormant dating website profile registered in Los Angeles. On it, he described himself as an “introvert” with a dislike for “organized religion.”
In the offline world, Mr. Mercer’s mother sought to protect him from all manner of neighborhood annoyances, former neighbors in Torrance said, from loud children and barking dogs to household pests. Once, neighbors said, she went door-to-door with a petition to get the landlord to exterminate cockroaches in her apartment, saying they bothered her son.
“She said, ‘My son is dealing with some mental issues, and the roaches are really irritating him,’ ” Julia Winstead, 55, said. “She said they were going to go stay in a motel. Until that time, I didn’t know she had a son.”
We’ve said this before, but American’s gun fetish is causing our country to look like some kind of throwback to the Stone Age. Except, stone axes can kill one person. Sophisticated guns kill millions of Americans. Here’s “America’s fucking awful, truly unique gun violence problem,visualized” per Ezra Klein.
Whenever a mass shooting occurs, supporters of gun rights often argue that it’s inappropriate to bring up political debates about gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy. For example, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a strong supporter of gun rights, criticized President Barack Obama for “trying to score cheap political points” when the president mentioned gun control after a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.
But if this argument is followed to its logical end, then it will never be the right time to discuss mass shootings, as Christopher Ingraham pointed out at the Washington Post. Under the Mass Shooting Tracker’s definition of mass shootings, America has nearly one mass shooting a day. So if lawmakers are forced to wait for a time when there isn’t a mass shooting to talk gun control, they could find themselves waiting for a very long time.
We’ll undoubtedly see more stories blaming mental illness. But is it the real issue in these domestic terrorist situation? Read this great rant by Arthur Chu on Salon.
I get really really tired of hearing the phrase “mental illness” thrown around as a way to avoid saying other terms like “toxic masculinity,” “white supremacy,” “misogyny” or “racism.”
We barely know anything about the suspect in the Charleston, South Carolina, atrocity. We certainly don’t have testimony from a mental health professional responsible for his care that he suffered from any specific mental illness, or that he suffered from a mental illness at all.
We do have statistics showing that the vast majority of people who commit acts of violence do not have a diagnosis of mental illness and, conversely, people who have mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.
We know that the stigma of people who suffer from mental illness as scary, dangerous potential murderers hurts people every single day — it costs people relationships and jobs, it scares people away from seeking help who need it, it brings shame and fear down on the heads of people who already have it bad enough.
But the media insists on trotting out “mental illness” and blaring out that phrase nonstop in the wake of any mass killing. I had to grit my teeth every time I personally debated someone defaulting to the mindless mantra of “The real issue is mental illness” over the Isla Vista shootings.
“The real issue is mental illness” is a goddamn cop-out. I almost never hear it from actual mental health professionals, or advocates working in the mental health sphere, or anyone who actually has any kind of informed opinion on mental health or serious policy proposals for how to improve our treatment of the mentally ill in this country.
There are so many ways to see how our country is marching backwards from modernity that it sometimes makes my head hurt badly. This is Hillary on Alabama’s attempt to remove DMVs and access to picture IDS in their counties that are majority black. Alabama is trying to reinstate Jim Crow just as every Republican in Congress wants us back to the days before Birth Control and Abortion was legal and acessible.
Hillary Clinton slammed the closure of 31 driver’s license offices in Alabama — many in majority-black counties — as “a blast from the Jim Crow past.”
The closures, announced this week, hit majority-black counties especially hard. Under Alabama’s new tougher version of its voter ID law, voters must have a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to vote. Every Alabama county with at least 75 percent African American registered voters will lose its DMV office, according to local reports.
“This is only going to make it harder for people to vote,” Clinton said in a statement Friday. “It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.”
Clinton has made voting rights a major platform of her presidential campaign. Alabama has defended the DMV closures, saying that there are other options for residents to obtain an ID that will enable them to vote.
Read Clinton’s full statement below:
“I strongly oppose Alabama’s decision to close driver’s license offices across the state, especially in counties that have a significant majority of African Americans. Just a few years ago, Alabama passed a law requiring citizens to have a photo ID to vote. Now they’re shutting down places where people get those photo IDs. This is only going to make it harder for people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.
“We’re better than this. We should be encouraging more Americans to vote, not making voting harder. As President, I’ll push for automatic voter registration for every American when they turn 18, and a new national standard of at least 20 days of early in-person voting in every state. And I’ll work with Congress to restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act.
“African Americans fought for the right to vote in the face of unthinkable hatred. They stood up and were beaten down, marched and were turned back. Some were even killed. But in the end, the forces of justice overcame. Alabama should do the right thing. It should reverse this decision. And it should start protecting the franchise for every single voter, no matter the color of their skin.”
The cell phones in the pockets of the dead students were still ringing when we were told that it was wrong to ask why. As the police cleared the bodies from the Virginia Tech engineering building, the cell phones rang, in the eccentric varieties of ring tones, as parents kept trying to see if their children were OK. To imagine the feelings of the police as they carried the bodies and heard the ringing is heartrending; to imagine the feelings of the parents who were calling — dread, desperate hope for a sudden answer and the bliss of reassurance, dawning grief — is unbearable. But the parents, and the rest of us, were told that it was not the right moment to ask how the shooting had happened — specifically, why an obviously disturbed student, with a history of mental illness, was able to buy guns whose essential purpose is to kill people — and why it happens over and over again in America. At a press conference, Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine, said, “People who want to … make it their political hobby horse to ride, I’ve got nothing but loathing for them. … At this point, what it’s about is comforting family members … and helping this community heal. And so to those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere.”
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: October 1, 2015
It sure looks like Vladimir Putin is trying to embarrass President Obama with the Russian air strikes in Syria. The Russians have bombed U.S.-supported rebels rather than ISIS. From The Guardian:
Russia has bombed targets in north-west Syria for a second day, as the Kremlin said it was going after a list of well known militant organisations and not just Islamic State.
The Russian defence ministry said planes hit 12 Isis targets, including a command centre and two arms depots, though the areas where it said the strikes took place are not held by Isis.
Activists reported a number of strikes in the country’s north and centre, including strikes in the province of Hama, which they said hit locations controlled by the US-backed rebel group, Tajamu Alezzah.
A spokesman for the Syrian civil defence said a strike also hit Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib province.
“They targeted the northern neighbourhood of the town, which only houses civilians, but there are very few people there because of repeated airstrikes,” the spokesman said.
Al Mayadeen, a Lebanese pro-Assad TV channel, separately reported that Russian aircraft had launched 30 fresh airstrikes against Jaysh al-Fateh, a powerful rebel coalition that includes Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Qaida affiliated al-Nusra Front.
The Daily Beast: Putin Hits West’s Rebels Instead of ISIS.
A Russian general asked the U.S. to remove its planes from Syrian airspace Wednesday, just hours before Russian airstrikes began there.
The Russian three-star general, who was part of the newly formed intelligence cell with Iraq, Iran, and the Syrian government, arrived in Baghdad at 9 a.m. local time and informed U.S. officials that Russian strikes would be starting imminently—and that the U.S. should refrain from conducting strikes and move any personnel out. The only notice the U.S. received about his visit was a phone call one hour earlier.
The Russian strikes were centered about the city of Homs, according to initial accounts in the local press and in social media. That’s significant, because Homs is not known to be an ISIS stronghold.
This can’t be good.
“The northern countryside of Hama has no presence of ISIS at all and is under the control of the Free Syrian Army,” Major Jamil al-Saleh of the Free Syrian Army told Reuters. U.S. officials corroborated this account to The Daily Beast.
The FSA has receieved U.S.-made anti-tank missiles; the CIA and Pentagon have been recruiting FSA soldiers as proxies against ISIS.
“There is no Islamic State in this area,” another FSA commandertold Reuters. “The Russians are applying great pressure on the revolution. This will strengthen terrorism, everyone will head toward extremism. Any support for Assad in this way is strengthening terrorism.”
The Washington Post: Obama administration scrambles as Russia attempts to seize initiative in Syria.
UNITED NATIONS — Blindsided by the unexpected swiftness of Russia’s air attacks in Syria, the Obama administration scrambled Wednesday to retake the diplomatic and military initiatives, saying that it would not be bullied into supporting President Bashar al-Assad and that it was about to significantly expand its own Syrian air operations.
After spending much of the day together here behind closed doors, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, said in terse evening statements that U.S. and Russian military officials would meet, perhaps as soon as Thursday, to “deconflict” their operations in Syria.
Standing side by side outside the U.N. Security Council chamber, they said they had reached some preliminary agreements on a way forward toward a negotiated political solution to Syria’s civil war but indicated they were far from agreed on its outcome. They took no questions.
“We have a lot of work to do, understanding fully how urgent this is,” Kerry said.
Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off Western concerns, suggesting that other countries “get involved” in Syria under Russia’s leadership. Senior foreign policy spokesmen in Moscow said the action proved Russia was a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.
Administration officials countered that the airstrikes showed only Russian weakness and what White House press secretary Josh Earnest said was growing concern “about losing influence in the one client state they have in the Middle East.”
This is really making me nervous–probably even more so because I’m not sure how to interpret this news.
Back in the USA, Republicans in Congress are still focused on such non-issues as Benghazi, Hillary Clinton’s emails, and trying to cripple Planned Parenthood–although I’m sure they’ll find a little time to criticize Obama’s foreign policy as well.
The media is filled with descriptions of the contents of meaningless Clinton emails and suggestions that her server may have been hacked. Of course the State Department server actually has been hacked several times and so have a number of other government servers. So perhaps Clinton’s private server was actually safer.
Associated Press reports: Russia-linked hackers tried to access Clinton server.
Russia-linked hackers tried at least five times to pry into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email account while she was secretary of state, emails released Wednesday show. It is unclear if she clicked on any attachments and exposed her account.
Clinton received the infected emails, disguised as speeding tickets from New York, over four hours early the morning of Aug. 3, 2011. The emails instructed recipients to print the attached tickets. Opening an attachment would have allowed hackers to take over control of a victim’s computer.
Security researchers who analyzed the malicious software in September 2011 said that infected computers would transmit information from victims to at least three server computers overseas, including one in Russia. That doesn’t necessarily mean Russian intelligence or citizens were responsible.
Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign, said: “We have no evidence to suggest she replied to this email or that she opened the attachment. As we have said before, there is no evidence that the system was ever breached. All these emails show is that, like millions of other Americans, she received spam.”
Practically every Internet user is inundated with spam or virus-riddled messages daily. But these messages show hackers had Clinton’s email address, which was not public, and sent her a fake traffic ticket from New York state, where she lives. Most commercial antivirus software at the time would have detected the software and blocked it.
The phishing attempts highlight the risk of Clinton’s unsecure email being pried open by foreign intelligence agencies, even if others also received the virus concealed as a speeding ticket from Chatham, New York. The email misspelled the name of the city, came from a supposed New York City government account and contained a “Ticket.zip” file that would have been a red flag.
Sigh . . .
On the Benghazi front, erstwhile Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy opened his big mouth yesterday and gave Democrats an amazing gift. Bloomberg:
…the Republican leading the race to replace John Boehner as House speaker said it for them, boasting Tuesday that his party has spent nearly three years dragging her through investigations of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi in hopes of doing serious damage to her presidential campaign.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy boasted on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.” “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would’ve known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.”
Wow. The longest investigation in House history–longer than the Watergate hearings!–was totally trumped up, and the next House Speaker admits it publicly. Democrats quickly responded.
“It’s just jaw-dropping,” said former Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who has endorsed Clinton. “The Republicans lied through their teeth when they said this wasn’t about politics.”
Clinton herself said on Wednesday that McCarthy’s comments were “deeply distressing.”
“When I hear a statement like that, which demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan political exercise, I feel like it does a grave disservice and dishonors not just the memory of the four that we lost but of everybody who has served our country,” she said in an interview with MSNBC’s Al Sharpton.
Earlier, Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon called McCarthy’s words “a damning display of honesty by the possible next speaker of the House,” who has “just confessed that the committee set up to look into the deaths of four brave Americans at Benghazi is a taxpayer-funded sham. This confirms Americans’ worst suspicions about what goes on in Washington.”
The Benghazi committee’s top Democrat, Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings, said in a Wednesday statement that McCarthy had simply acknowledged what “Republicans never dared admit in public.” He added that Republicans “have blatantly abused their authority in Congress” by spending more than $4.5 million in taxpayer funds on the Benghazi committee “to pay for a political campaign against Hillary Clinton.”
New York Representative Louise Slaughter, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, added: “That’s not what we’re here for and, in fact, I think that might be impeachable for crying out loud.”
Someone in the government also chose the day after Republican members attacked Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards for nearly five hours, someone in the government to leak some embarrassing information about the committee’s chair Jason Chaffetz. From the Washington Post:
An assistant director of the Secret Service urged that unflattering information the agency had in its files about a congressman critical of the service should be made public, according to a government watchdog report released Wednesday.
“Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,” Assistant Director Edward Lowery wrote in an e-mail to a fellow director on March 31, commenting on an internal file that was being widely circulated inside the service. “Just to be fair.”
Two days later, a news Web site reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and been rejected.
That information was part of a Chaffetz personnel file stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to be kept private….
The Chaffetz file, contained in the restricted database, had been peeked at by about 45 Secret Service agents, some of whom shared it with their colleagues in March and April, the report found. This prying began after a contentious March 24 House hearing at which Chaffetz scolded the director and the agency for its series of security gaffes and misconduct. The hearing sparked anger inside the agency.
In another slap in Chaffetz’s face the organization that has been running the right wing campaign against Planned Parenthood admitted that the video that Carly Fiorina described in the last Republican debate had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood and the baby Fiorina saw had not survived an abortion. Raw Story: ‘This wasn’t an abortion’: CNN forces anti-Planned Parenthood group to admit Fiorina was wrong.
David Daleiden, the project lead Center for Medical Progress’ anti-Planned Parenthood campaign, admitted on Wednesday that an alleged fetus on a table that GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina described during a graphic anti-abortion rant was actually from a miscarriage.
Read the rest at the Raw Story link.
Finally, some reactions to Kim Davis’ meeting with Pope Francis for you to explore:
Vanity Fair: Kim Davis and Pope Francis’s Curious Meeting.
Tuesday night, lawyers for Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even after she was jailed, announced that she had been invited to a secret meeting with Pope Franciswhile they were both in Washington, D.C.
The Vatican initially refused to confirm or deny those reports, which suddenly made things far more confusing. On Wednesday morning, however, the Vatican changed its tune, and confirmed the meeting to The New York Times.
“I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no other comments to add,” said Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi.
Robert Moynihan at Inside the Vatican, a magazine covering Catholic news, broke the story on Tuesday night, citing “Vatican sources” as confirmation. The New York Timesfollowed up with an interview with Davis’s lawyer, Mathew Staver, who said that yes, totally, the meeting definitely took place.
During the visit, Staver said the Pontiff gave Davis two rosaries and told her to “stay strong.”
According to Staver, the invitation was extended through the Vatican itself, and seeing as Davis and her husband, Joe, were in town to receive an award from a conservative advocacy group, they decided to briefly visit the Pope at the Apostolic Nunciature right before he left for New York City.
Staver added that he expected the Vatican would soon send them photos of the visit.
As far as I’m concerned this is so disgusting that I think it might overshadow anything good that came from the Pope’s visit to the U.S. The fact that the meeting was kept secret until Francis was back in the Vatican makes it even more awful and shameful. The Pope probably doesn’t understand the damage he did, but along with the canonization of Junipero Sera this will leave a very bad taste in the mouths of many Americans.
More links to peruse:
Vanessa Urquhart at Slate: Why Pope Francis’ Meeting With Kim Davis Is Such a Disaster.
Trevor Martin at The Guardian: Pope Francis’s meeting with Kim Davis should come as no surprise.
So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a terrific Thursday!
Posted: September 30, 2015
Today the news links are random. Nothing special or spectacular.
The pictures are silly, various pictures of pugs. Bebe is getting a pug when the inheritance of her…absentee grandmother finally is released from the VALIC company. (That is another story for another time.) But to make things funny, I thought we would have pictures of pugs on the post today.
Let’s start with the latest news from here in the States:
I doubt that…but Russell Berman, the dude who wrote the article seems to think so.
…it turns out he might not be done quite yet. The speaker won’t leave office for another month, and he has said he wants to “get as much finished as possible” before he goes. “I don’t want to leave my successor a dirty barn,” Boehner said Sunday on CBS’sFace the Nation. “I want to clean the barn up a little bit before the next person gets there.”
So what does Boehner mean by cleaning up the barn?
You know, I would love to see Boehner pull a Cartman when he leaves…
Well, actually…maybe something more explosive.
Oh, yeah…and did you see? Crazy bigot lady from the Blue Grass State got a face to face meeting with the Pope. Go figure. Everyone making such a big deal about how lefty he is, but check it out…he secretly met with this ass:
Pope Francis secretly met a Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and gave her words of encouragement, her attorney said.
Mat Staver, attorney and founder of the Liberty Counsel, told CBS News on Tuesday night that the pope met Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her husband at the Vatican embassy in Washington last Thursday during his visit to the United States.
Vatican chief spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said he would neither confirm nor deny the report and that there would be no further statement. This was unusual for the Vatican, which normally issues either denials or confirmations.
The report of the meeting came after Francis largely avoided the contentious issue of same-sex marriage during his historic visit to the United States, where he addressed Congress, met with the homeless and urged the country to welcome immigrants.
The pope, speaking to reporters as he returned home from his 10-day trip to the U.S. and Cuba on Monday, said government officials had a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty if they felt it violated their conscience.
Of course, don’t let all the talk of forgiveness and whatever he has said fool you. This is the Catholic Church. The shit will never change. According to the article, Staver…
“Because we didn’t want the pope’s visit to be overshadowed with Kim Davis,” Staver said in an interview on the network.
During the meeting, the pope told Davis to “stay strong”, Staver said.
Davis, whose parents are Catholic, has said her beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her church belongs to a Protestant movement known as Apostolic Pentecostalism.
To keep a low profile, Davis went to the Vatican embassy in a sports utility vehicle with her hair in a different style than her normal look, Staver told CBS, adding he was not present.
Ugh…Davis in drag, I mean disguised? Oh boy.
Oh, while we are on the topic of vile people (Davis) this next thread, by TBogg…also from Raw Story: The 13 most punchable faces in America
Can you guess who is number one?
If you are an honest person — and I trust that you are — you will admit that at some time in your life you have wanted to haul off and smack somebody right in the mouth. Just plant your fist right in the middle of their smug smirky stupid face, swinging from out of nowhere with no warning given.
Blah, blah…yada, yada….violence this and that. (Stuff about how it is Americans only on the list, so Justin Beiber is out.) And how putting the entire male population at Fox News is cheating. Well, you can go and read that part of the article at the link. Let’s just get to the assholes that deserve a punch in the mouth.
So let’s start this off with the most obvious choice:
Owner of punchable face: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
Occupation: Shit talker, ineffective legislator, egomaniac, subversive Canadian sleeper agent, Texas senator
The face: Knitted eyebrows and a “more in sorrow than in anger because everyone else is an idiot” look of insincerity.
Crimes against humanity: Cruz got himself elected to the U.S. Senate from America’s 2nd worst state and immediately started acting like he owned the place. Also the House. And the White House. And the Supreme Court. Talked idiot House members into shutting down the government at a cost of $24 billion to the economy. Wants to do it again.
Owner of punchable face: Mark Halperin
Occupation: Chronicler of inconsequential conventional wisdom, hack, confused grader, political editor.
The face: The smirk of undeserved success
Crimes against humanity: Says things that are horribly counter-intuitive on TV which inexplicably affects the political zeitgeist making the world stupider than it should be. Briefly suspended from MSNBC for calling the president a “dick” on Morning Joe — a television show featuring a revolving cast of dicks.
Owner of punchable face: Jesse Watters
Occupation: O’Reilly coat holder, stalker, insufferable prick, racist, Fox News producer
The face: Celebratory frat bro who just escaped a rape conviction on a technicality
Crimes against humanity: Watters is Bill O’Reilly’s smirky wingman, sent out into the field to harass and stalk women and sneer at poor black people before returning to the studio and gleefuly sharing his tales of adventure while O’Reilly presumably masturbates under his desk onto a loofah. Pro tip: If Watters sticks his microphone in your face, answer every questions with “Andrea Mackris” until he slinks back into his hole.
Like this dude, who is one of our dickhead PLUB monsters. Australia doesn’t want him to come into the country. They see him as a security risk.
US anti-abortion campaigner Troy Newman has been stopped from flying to Australia after his visa for the country was revoked.
He had already flown from Kansas to Colorado, but was denied boarding the next flight to Los Angeles, from where he would have flown to Melbourne.
Mr Newman was due to speak at events promoted by the group Right to Life Australia.
He has previously called for the execution of abortion doctors.
The minister, Peter Dutton, confirmed to local media that he cancelled the visa amid concerns Mr Newman’s presence could incite violence against abortion doctors and the women using them.
Oh, this ass Newman needs more than a punch in the mouth. I think since he is so interested in a woman’s reproductive organs, perhaps he should have some punch work done on his own set of nuggets of love. That will give him something to think about, because he has time to write this shit on his Facebook wall:
Mr Newman wrote “RED ALERT!!!… It is clear that the pro-abortion crowd does not want anyone to hear the truth about Planned Parenthood’s illegal actions.”
A man without a country. WTF is that? Crazy ass muthafukker.
The visa decision comes days after the government said it was unlikely American singer Chris Brown would be given a visa because of his record of domestic violence.
Can I say I appreciate the hell out of Australia!
The rest of today’s links in dump fashion.
This last link is real neat:
Mealworms munch on Styrofoam, a hopeful sign that solutions to plastics pollution exist. Wei-Min Wu, a senior research engineer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, discovered the larvae can live on polystyrene.
That is interesting…and promising. I wonder if they could actually do some good one day.
Anyway…here is a picture of the little pug Bebe is getting. She is calling him Hugo:
Innit he a cutie?
Hope you enjoyed the pugs…have a good day and please treat this as an open thread.
Posted: September 29, 2015
How low can they go? Only time will tell. We are still about four months away from the primaries, and it could get a whole lot worse. Recently passengers in the GOP clown car have been calling each other clowns and freaks, but none of them seem to see their own ridiculousness.
A few days ago, Donald Trump called Mario Rubio a “clown” at the Values Voters Summit, and got booed for it.
“I’ve been so nice to him. I’ve been so — but he’s in favor of immigration,” Trump said at the Value Voters Summit, before quickly moving on.
The audience had heard Rubio speak just two hours earlier and gave him several rounds of enthusiastic applause.
Yesterday, Rubio told NPR he didn’t want any part of Donald Trump’s “freak show.” CNN reports:
The two candidates have battled through sound bites for the past week, after essentially staying muted on each other for most of the campaign. As Rubio has enjoyed a marked boost in the polls since his performance in the second debate, Trump has gone after Rubio with insults including calling him a “kid” and dinging his voting record this year.
The Florida senator has willingly dished it back at Trump, calling him unserious and “touchy.” That continued in an NPR interview on Monday.
“I’m not interested in the back and forth to be a member or part of his freak show,” Rubio told NPR.
But despite that statement, Rubio quickly ticked off a list of Trump’s recent foibles, including mentioning a speech in South Carolina that had many empty seats and Trump getting booed at Friday’s Value Voters Summit when he called Rubio a “clown.”
“He is a very sensitive person,” Rubio said. “He doesn’t like to be criticized. He responds to criticism very poorly. … His poll numbers have taken a beating, and he was embarrassed on national television at the debate by Carly Fiorina and others.”
Also yesterday on CNN, Rand Paul said of Trump, “How could anyone in my party think this clown is fit to be president?.”
While out on the trail talking to reporters, the mogul picked Paul as one of the next candidates to drop out of the race, after two governors have left the race in recent weeks.
Paul called Trump a “clown” and said the attacks on his campaign were similar to the last presidential debate, when the mogul kicked off his first answer with a volley on Paul and a critique of his inclusion in the top-tier debate.
“It kind of reminds me of the funniest moment, I think, of the second debate, where out of nowhere, complete non sequitur, he starts going after me. And I guess it’s part of his bravado, his shtick,” Paul said. “I’m thinking, how did we get the race for the most important office in the free world to sink to such depths, and how could anyone in my party think that this clown is fit to be president?”
Paul said there’s no truth to Trump’s assertions that his campaign is having trouble fundraising. In fact, he said, his campaign is focused on organizing on the ground in key primary states and pleased with how that’s going.
As The National Memo notes, “A few years ago, that was the same stuff people used to say about Rand Paul.”
Of course Bobby Jindal and some of the other clowns have been attacking Trump as a clown for quite awhile. It’s the only way some of them can get any media attention. From The Guardian on September 10:
In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, followed Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham and Rick Perry in targeting Trump, who has become the clear frontrunner in polls concerning the 17-strong GOP presidential field despite a succession of controversies over his remarks and policy positions.
In his speech, Jindal called Trump a “narcissist and egomaniac”, whom he said was “unserious and unstable”.
“Donald Trump is for Donald Trump,” Jindal said, adding in reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan: “Donald Trump is not for making America great. Donald Trump is for making Donald Trump great.”
Jindal even dipped into some of Trump’s trademark insult comedy, saying: “You may have recently seen that after Trump said the Bible is his favorite book. He couldn’t name a single Bible verse or passage that meant something to him.
“And we all know why, because it’s all just a show, and he hasn’t ever read the Bible. But you know why he hasn’t read the Bible? Because he’s not in it.”
He also avoided a commitment to supporting Trump if he were to secure the Republican nomination, saying “he cannot be our nominee”, and predicted that if Trump did become the Republican standard bearer in 2016, he would “implode” and “hand the election to Hillary Clinton.”
All very true, but much of it applies to Jindal as well. These guys are both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I can hardly wait for the next GOP “debate.” Maybe the clowns will actually come to blows.
As Melissa McEwan writes, none of these fools running for the Republican nomination have any illusions about the voter base they are trying to appeal to–a bunch of poorly educated racists, nativists, gun nuts, and fetus fetishists who can be easily conned into voting for whatever the Koch brothers and Wall Street want. From Shakesville:
Rubio is merely the latest, and most brazen, of Republicans to talk about Trump as though he and his fetid campaign exist somehow outside the Republican mainstream, instead of being the uncensored id of their disgusting party that he really is.
As if Rubio doesn’t know the truth about his party. Of course he does. Every single time he dogwhistles “tradition” or “values” to his base, he’s evoking that truth. He, like Governor Bobby Jindal, is just mad that Trump has the spine and the indecency to be straightforward about what that truth really is.
If Rubio, Jindal, or any of their other fellow candidates for the US presidency are really operating under the misapprehension that their base isn’t voting for them because of fear, hatred, and bigotry, but because of smaller government and lower taxes, then they are too fucking ignorant to be trusted to tie their own shoes, no less elected to lead the nation.
Speaking of ignorant racists, George Zimmerman is back in the news. Isn’t he a perfect example of the kinds of people Republicans appeal to?
From The New York Daily News: George Zimmerman goes on depraved Twitter rant after retweeting picture of Trayvon Martin’s corpse.
George Zimmerman’s Twitter trolling has reached a new low.
Days after retweeting an image of Trayvon Martin’s corpse, Zimmerman went on a depraved Twitter tirade Monday afternoon, spewing racist rants and boasting about “mocking all you trolls.”
The man who shot and killed Martin three years ago also gave out an apparent stranger’s phone number, referring “all media inquiries” to the unsuspecting man.
“Gee..I sure hate offending people that have plotted and tried to kill me and my family…” Zimmerman wrote with one tweet, with a photo matching President Obama with Virginia murderer Vester Flanagan.
Zimmerman flew off the handle days after he seemed to boast about killing the 17-year-old Martin.
Over the weekend, an admirer tweeted him a photo of Martin’s body, which was used as evidence for Zimmerman’s trial. The user called Zimmerman a “one man army.”
Ugh. Why isn’t this disgusting man in prison?
I’m going to give you the rest of the news as headlines as links only, because I have to do some things for my mother this morning. Here we go:
Reuters via The National Memo: Biden Eligible For Democratic Primary Debate: If He Decides To Run.
Ezra Klein at Vox: A theory of how American politics is changing.
Politico: Schumer in talks with Ryan on major tax, infrastructure deal (Count me as not looking forward to Schumer leading the Senate Democrats.
Have I told you lately how much I hate Bill Maher?
Vanity Fair: A Terrifying Look at Our Eventual Trump Presidency.
David Weigel at The WaPo: Trump’s tax plan calms conservatives worried about a populist moment.
What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great Tuesday!