Thursday Reads: Afternoon Tea and Politics

Monique_Liam_Wedding2_7eeb4be0-58e6-4dff-b1e4-27035b6ef157

Good Afternoon!!

Has Hillary Clinton finally been caught doing something criminal? It’s highly unlikely, but here is the latest attempt to tarnish her reputation.

Washington Post: Staffer who worked on Clinton’s private e-mail server faces subpoena.

A former State Department staffer who worked on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private e-mail server tried this week to fend off a subpoena to testify before Congress, saying he would assert his constitutional right not to answer questions to avoid incriminating himself.

The move by Bryan Pagliano, who had worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before setting up the server in her New York home in 2009, came in a Monday letter from his lawyer to the House panel investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The letter cited the ongoing FBI inquiry into the security of Clinton’s e-mail system, and it quoted a Supreme Court ruling in which justices described the Fifth Amendment as protecting “innocent men . . . ‘who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances.’ ” ….

“While we understand that Mr. Pagliano’s response to this subpoena may be controversial in the current political environment, we hope that the members of the Select Committee will respect our client’s right to invoke the protections of the Constitution,” his attorney, Mark MacDougall, wrote.

Two other Senate committees have contacted Pagliano in the past week, according to a copy of the letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post. The requests came from the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, according to people familiar with the requests.

OK, that doesn’t sound like a big deal to me.

ladies society tea

More from Talking Points Memo: Clinton Campaign: We Wanted Staffer Who Set Up Email Server To Testify.

Attorneys for Bryan Pagliano on Monday notified the committee that their client would invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify at a hearing next week.

An anonymous Clinton campaign aide told The New York Times that Pagliano’s decision was “both understandable and disappointing.”

“We had hoped Bryan would also agree to answer any questions from the committee and had recently encouraged him to grant the committee’s request for an interview,” the aide told the Times, adding that the campaign believes Pagliano “has every reason to be transparent about his I.T. assistance.”

The unidentified aide told the newspaper it makes sense that Pagliano, as a private individual, doesn’t want to participate in a “political spectacle.”

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Completely understandable, IMHO. What normal person would want to sit and listen to ignorant, irrelevant questions from the likes of Trey Gowdy and the rest of the Benghazi Committee? Still the Republicans will make hay from this, says Taylor Marsh.

As an antidote to that nonsense, here’s an insightful piece by Larry Sabato: The Populist Revolt Against Brain-Dead Politics.

Take a deep breath. It won’t help you understand what’s happening in the contest for the presidency, but it won’t hurt either.

By contrast, many media analyses of the state of the race have reached the breathless level. Supposedly, there’s never been anyone like Donald Trump on the political scene. In fact, there’s a long tradition of anti-establishment outsiders making a splash. Conventional wisdom says Hillary Clinton is close to throwing away her second chance at the White House. Actually, while she’s been very unimpressive as a candidate in this cycle, Clinton’s many advantages still make her a strong favorite to be the Democratic standard-bearer (absent an indictment).

Yet observers are right when they insist “there’s something going on out there.” And in our view, what’s going on is a populist revolt against the utterly predictable, locked-in, hyperpartisan politics of the two major parties.

Two young women drinking tea --- Image by © SuperStock/Corbis

The most important word is “predictable.” While there are 22 presidential candidates — 23 if Biden runs — most of them are human tape recorders. On the top 25 or 30 issues, each has memorized a paragraph or two; mention the issue and the candidates push the “play” button in their heads. Almost word-for-word each time, they recite the pollster-researched, consultant-approved soundbites designed to produce a Pavlovian response in partisans.

Problem is, Americans would generally prefer to elect a human being, not an automaton. It’s at least possible that a few more intractable problems would get solved if potential presidents were less inflexible — or so it appears to many voters.

Whatever else you think of him, Trump is no automaton. He isn’t rehearsed, at least compared to the others: We can’t take our eyes off him because we’re not at all sure what he’s going to say next.

Read the rest at the link.

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Next, check out this post at #HillaryMen: Who Needs Fox? NY Times and Morning Joe Battle for Title of Chief Hillary Basher.

One of the most egregious aspects of the 2016 presidential campaign is the vitriolic, gender-biased attacks against Hillary Clinton by major media outlets.

The New York Times has taken the lead, but they are not alone.

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski use their Morning Joe platform on MSNBC to malign Hillary and mangle her public image. The show has become a cesspool of Hillary-bashing rivaling the fetid swamps of fringe rightwing Clinton haters.

The Washington Post angles their headlines for maximum damage to Hillary’s character. CNN ponders criminal penalties against her when no criminality is alleged.

It goes on and on. The institutional forces that have barred American women from the presidency are manifested in the media’s obsession to take down the first woman with a viable path to the White House.

Soak up more wisdom from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at #HillaryMen.

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Now for some of that “brain-dead politics” that Larry Sabato referred to.

From TPM, Rand Paul: Kentucky Clerk ‘Shouldn’t Be Forced’ To Sign Off On Gay Marriages.

“I do support the notion that she shouldn’t be forced to sign something she finds religiously objectionable,” Paul said during an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

On Tuesday, Paul said people like Davis who are “making a stand” for their beliefs are a “part of the American way.”

Paul did not say whether he had spoken to Davis, but said she “just doesn’t want to sign it because it indicates her approval of this.”

And here’s the second half of today’s “dumb and dumber”:

Washington Post, Mike Huckabee offers support to Kentucky clerk who refuses to issue gay marriage licenses.

Mike Huckabee called a Kentucky clerk who is refusing to issue gay marriage licenses Wednesday to offer his prayers and support for “not abandoning her religious convictions.”

The Supreme Court turned away a request by Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to be excused from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the clerk continues to refuse to issue those licenses, calling the requirement a violation of her religious liberties.

“I spoke with Kim Davis this morning to offer my prayers and support.  I let her know how proud I am of her for not abandoning her religious convictions and standing strong for religious liberty. She is showing more courage and humility than just about any federal office holder in Washington,” Huckabee said in a statement.

summer-afternoon-tea-in-the-garden-1901-theo-van-rysselberghe

In fact, almost all of the GOP “human tape recorders,” as Sabato called them, think Kim Davis has a right to refuse to do her job, according to Think Progress, Only 2 Republican Candidates Think Kim Davis Needs To Quit Or Follow The Law.

In a section of its 2012 party platform, the Republican Party made its views clear: “In this country, the rule of law guarantees equal treatment to every individual.” But at least six Republican presidential hopefuls have now come to the defense of anti-gay Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis, who will face contempt charges on Thursday for violating a court order by refusing to issue marriage licenses. A smaller number of Republican presidential candidates have said that as a public official, Davis should have to do her job or resign….

Though many of the same Republican presidential candidates have been outspoken critics of lawlessness by government officials, several have rushed to defend Davis and suggested that religious beliefs should be legal grounds for public officials to opt-out of certain parts of their jobs.

Go over to Think Progress to read the reactions from “human tape recorders” Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and Marco Rubio.

So these morons think they can disregard both the Constitution and the Supreme Court–not a good look for a presidential candidate.

That’s all I have for you today–sorry I got such a late start. What else is happening? Please share your links in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your Thursday.


Tuesday Reads: GOP Wackos, Oliver Sacks, and Other News

Woman at the beach reading

Good Morning!!

Today is September 1, and Summer is almost over. How did it go by so quickly? Pretty soon the 2016 campaign will begin to heat up; but for now we are still in the silly season and Donald Trump is still grabbing all the headlines.

The Hill: Trump pledges to reverse Obama’s mountain renaming

Donald Trump promised Monday that he would return the name of North America’s largest mountain to Mount McKinley, undoing President Obama’s decision to call it Denali.

Calling Obama’s act a “great insult to Ohio,” Trump, who is running for president next year,tweeted late Monday that Obama reversed the name the peak had for more than 100 years, in honor of President William McKinley, an Ohio native.

Does Donald Trump even know anything about William McKinley? I doubt it. Why won’t this disgusting creep go away and leave us alone? John Kasich is upset too.

“You just don’t go and do something like that,” Kasich said, according to the Associated Press. “In Ohio, we felt it was appropriate. A guy saw that mountain when he was one of the first up there … named it after the president. No reason to change it.”

Um . . . no.

The mountain, in fact, got McKinley’s name before he was elected, and he never set foot inside Alaska.

Why Ohioans should have any say in the naming of a mountain in Alaska is a mystery. But the GOP candidates latch onto anything Obama does in order to get some media attention.

GOP Wackos

These days, when you see a crazy headline, you can be at least 99% sure that it involves a Republican politician.

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This headline from Local CBS5 in Arizona, for example: Matt Salmon facing parents’ anger over civics presentation to young kids.

GILBERT, AZ (KPHO/KTVK) – Several parents are demanding answers from Congressman Matt Salmon, saying they cannot believe what the lawmaker said to young school children during a visit to a Gilbert school.

“It should have probably just been a good civics lesson for kids who initially were excited to meet their congressman,” parent Scott Campbell said.

That excitement, however, turned into fear.

That fear, according to Campbell, was spawned by something Salmon said during a presentation he made Thursday about how bills become laws. The audience? Second- and third-graders at San Tan Charter School.

Campbell said the lesson took a dark turn when it came time to talk about vetoes.

“The congressman chose to give an example of the current situation in Iran, and made some inappropriate comments about ‘Do you know what a nuclear weapon is? Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?'” Campbell said.

He and other parents were shocked. He said he had to console his young daughter.

“After school my daughter was very concerned and said to me she actually didn’t even know what suicide was and was very afraid,” he explained.

WTF?!! Where do the Republicans dig these people up?

man on beach

Meanwhile most Americans want their Congresspeople to approve the Obama administration’s Iran deal, according to The Hill:

According to the survey from the University of Maryland, 55 percent of respondents said that Congress should get behind the agreement, despite some concerns.

Twenty-three percent, meanwhile, said that lawmakers should instead ratchet up sanctions, and 14 percent wanted U.S. officials to go back to the negotiating table.

In a key stat for Democratic backers of the agreement, 61 percent of independents recommended that Congress approve the deal, along with 72 percent of Democrats.

Just 33 percent of Republicans expressed support, highlighting the partisan divide that has erupted over the agreement, which sets limits on Iran’s nuclear ability in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

The poll was conducted online, and the participants went through an in-depth process of listening to arguments from both sides. People were subjected to a detailed list of critiques of the agreement, followed by rebuttals to those arguments with reasons to get behind the deal.

Even the fact that 33 percent of GOP voters support the agreement is significant, considering their likely exposure to Fox News and talk radio.

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Speaking of wacko Republicans, even after the Supreme Court told weirdo Kim Davis she can’t refuse to issue marriage license to gay couples, she’s still doing it. NBC News reports:

Defying the Supreme Court and invoking “God’s authority,” a Kentucky county clerk on Tuesday turned away two same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses — touching off dueling protests until sheriff’s deputies cleared the room.

The clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, outside Lexington, has said that her personal religious objections preclude her from issuing the licenses.

The standoff came one day after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case. That left in place a lower court ruling ordering Davis to issue marriage licenses.

Davis declined marriage licenses to two same-sex couples — two men and two women — who sought them at her office, in the small city of Morehead.

When is Kentucky going to get rid of this nutcase? She’s an embarrassment to her state and to all rational Americans.

RIP Oliver Sacks

Following the death of Oliver Sacks last week, I found myself browsing around looking for some of his writings on line. Sacks was a wonderful writer, and I’ve always enjoyed reading him. I haven’t read his book on hallucinations yet, and I think I’m going to get a copy and check it out. I have always been fascinated by altered states. Here are some links to essays by Sacks that you might want to check out if you haven’t read (or listened to) them already.

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In July, I wrote about my reaction to an NPR interview about face blindness, which Sacks suffered from. It was fascinating and led to my experiencing a very positive altered state–one of those “peak experiences” that Abraham Maslow wrote about. Check if out if you haven’t already.

Yesterday I read this piece on mystical experiences at the Atlantic: Seeing God in the Third Millennium. Sacks writes that when people have near death experiences, out of body experiences, and other altered states such as the auras that preceded epileptic seizures and migraines, the brain reflects the perceptions as if they are real. These often life-changing experiences have natural–not supernatural–causes, but they can have profound effects.

In 2012, Sacks wrote in The New Yorker about the history of mind altering drugs and his own experiments with them: Altered States: Self-experiments in chemistry.

From 1987, here’s an interview with Sacks on NPR’s Fresh Air: ‘Fresh Air’ at 20: Neurologist Oliver Sacks.

From Science of Us, a summary of a fascinating case study from The Lancet on which Sacks was one of the authors: The Strange Case of the Woman Haunted by Dragons. It’s about a woman who had altered perceptions of people’s faces–they looked “dragon-like.”

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Two recent NYT articles by Sacks:

From February 2015, My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer.

From August 2015: Oliver Sacks: Sabbath.

One of my favorite Sacks stories appeared in the book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. It was reprinted in the New York Review of Books in 1985: The President’s Speech. It’s about a group of aphasia patients and their reaction to seeing a Ronald Reagan speech on TV. Here’s the introduction:

What was going on? A roar of laughter from the aphasia ward, just as the President’s speech was starting, and the patients had all been so eager to hear the President speak.

There he was, the old charmer, the actor with his practiced rhetoric, his histrionics, his emotional appeal—and all the patients were convulsed with laughter. Well, not all: some looked bewildered, some looked outraged, one or two looked apprehensive, but most looked amused. The President is generally thought to be a moving speaker—but he was moving them, apparently, mainly to laughter. What could they be thinking? Were they failing to understand him? Or did they, perhaps, understand him all too well?

Read the rest at the link.

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Finally, from today’s Washington Post: The tragic story of Oliver Sacks’s celibacy.

When Oliver Sacks was 18, he faced a prospect most young people dread: a belated talk about the birds and the bees with his dad.

“You don’t seem to have many girlfriends,” Sacks wrote his father said in his memoir, “On the Move,” released earlier this year. “Don’t you like girls? … Perhaps you prefer boys?”

Sacks didn’t try to hide.

“Yes I do – but it’s just a feeling – I have never ‘done’ anything,” Sacks told his father.

He pleaded with his father not to tell his mother – but his father did. The news did not go over well — to say the least.

“You are an abomination,” she said. “I wish you had never been born.”

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How heartbreaking. Read more at the WaPo.

In The News, Links Only

The Guardian: Barack Obama in Alaska: global fight against climate change starts here.

Talking Points Memo: Trump’s Latino Bashing Risks GOP Senate Hopes In 3 Key States.

Pope Francis says priests can give absolution for “the sin of abortion.” From Time: What Pope Francis’ Abortion Announcement Really Means.

Jeb Bush tells the Pope how to do his job: Jeb Bush tells pope to focus on ‘mercy for the unborn’: Women should be ‘repentant’ for choosing abortion (Raw Story)

Jonathan Chait: Jeb Bush Responds to Insanely Racist Trump Ad by Calling Trump Liberal

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The Nation: The Trailer for ‘Concussion’ Should Give Roger Goodell Night Sweats.

The National Memo: Hillary Clinton Supports Ban On ‘Revolving Door’ Corporate Bonuses

US News: Clinton, aides stressed need to protect sensitive State Department information in email.

AP via Seacoast online: NH Sen Jeanne Shaheen will endorse Hillary Clinton.

Raw Story: Texas man walks free after alleged rape leaves 2-year-old girl in pool of blood.

AP via ABC News: Investigators: Georgia Officer Likely Shot by Other Officers.

What stories are you following today? Please share in the comment thread.


Lazy Saturday Reads

Harriet Tubman memorial in Boston's South End

Harriet Tubman memorial in Boston’s South End

Happy Saturday!!

Once again, I’ve spent my early morning hours looking at pictures–this time I have a collection of Boston statues to share–there are gazillions of them here! I’ve got news too, of course.

Last week I wrote a post about a rape trial in Concord, New Hampshire. The case highlighted a culture of misogyny and sexual assault at St. Paul’s, an exclusive private boarding school. Well, the verdict is in.

The jury found Owen Labrie not guilty of aggravated rape, but they convicted him of several other charges, which could still result in jail time. NYT:

…after about seven hours of deliberations over two days, the jury appeared to dismiss Mr. Labrie’s insistence that he had not penetrated the girl in any way, but found that the state had not proved that what happened was against the girl’s expressed wishes.

The nine men and three women rejected the more serious accusations of aggravated sexual assault, as well as a misdemeanor assault charge of biting the girl’s chest, but convicted Mr. Labrie of three misdemeanors related to the girl’s age and involving penetration with his penis, mouth and finger. He was also convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and a felony charge involving use of a computer to lure a minor.

It seemed, one expert said, to be a compromise among the jurors.

The conviction on using a computer to abuse a child means Labrie will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Edgar Allen Poe statue near Boston Common

Edgar Allen Poe statue near Boston Common

Boston Globe: As victim in prep-school case feared, the jury didn’t think she did enough.

In the end, the jury believed her. Owen Labrie had sex with her when she was just 15.

But just like she feared, they didn’t think she did enough to stop him.

Over three days of testimony, the now 16-year-old girl described her encounter with one of the more popular seniors on the campus of her elite New Hampshire prep school last year. She described how Labrie, then 18, invited her to a rendezvous in a secluded St. Paul’s School building. She told of kissing him, of taking off her sweatshirt and then her shorts. And then feeling everything go way too far.

His fingers were inside her, then his tongue, then his penis. He wasn’t getting the message when she pulled her bra strap back on, held onto her underpants, pulled his head away from between her legs as she said no repeatedly, she said. She said she winced and stiffened as he penetrated her.

She should have never left her room that night, she thought, as she stared up at the ceiling and waited for it to end.

“If I had just been able to kick or yell at him,” she testified. “If I just had been able to get the point across. To push or do something. I could have stopped it.”

Statue of Bill Russell at City Hall Plaza

Statue of Bill Russell at City Hall Plaza

So they believed Labrie penetrated her when she was under the age of consent, but they still thought it was consensual? I don’t understand that.

At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern explains: The Odd Sexual-Consent Law That Explains the Bizarre Owen Labrie Verdict.

Like many states, New Hampshire has a “Romeo and Juliet” exception to statutory rape. Such exceptions allows individuals to have sex with minors if they are close in age. These laws are designed to allow teens to engage in consensual sex without fear of prosecution. Florida provides a good example: There, the Romeo and Juliet law creates a four-year bubble, so that an 18-year-old can legally have sex with a 14-year-old, but a 19-year-old cannot.

New Hampshire’s law follows this model—with a twist. It sets a hard age of consent at 13: Before then, all sex is illegal. After 13, the rules change. It isn’t illegal to engage in consensual non-penetrative sexual contact with an individual between ages 13 and 16 unless you are at least five years older than the younger person. (Think necking and fondling.) It is always illegal, however, to engage in penetrative sexual contact with any individual between ages 13 and 16. (16 is the universal age of consent in the state.)

Here, the Romeo and Juliet law only affects the severity of the punishment. If you have penetrative consensual sex with an individual between ages 13 and 16 but are within four years of age, you are guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault. If the age difference is more than four years, you’re guilty of felony sexual assault.

Labrie was 18 when he allegedly put his penis, tongue, and finger in a 15-year-old’s vagina. The jury did not find that the girl resisted, so he isn’t guilty of felony rape. But he still had penetrative sex with a girl under 16, the jury believed. Thus, Labrie is guilty on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, one for each form of penetration.

A couple more links:

Boston Globe: Owen Labrie and the ‘nerd defense’

Boston Globe: Prep-school rape trial: Read statements from the victim’s family, St. Paul’s School, and Harvard College.

The Boston Women's Memorial celebrates three important contributors to Boston's rich history - Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. Each of these women had progressive ideas that were ahead of her time, was committed to social change, and left a legacy through her writings that had a significant impact on history.

The Boston Women’s Memorial celebrates three important contributors to Boston’s rich history – Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. Each of these women had progressive ideas that were ahead of her time, was committed to social change, and left a legacy through her writings that had a significant impact on history.

 

I thought I’d share a heartwarming story with you for a change. My mom passed this one on to me.

IndyStar: Indianapolis radio contest sparks neighborhood feud in Muncie.

It wasn’t really a feud, just one nasty neighbor with no sense of humor.

High school student Hannah Brewer, with her mother’s permission, painted the garage door of their residence in an attempt to prove she is the biggest fan of the pop/punk band 5 Seconds of Summer, aka 5SOS.

“Get creative and prove you’re the biggest 5SOS fan on your garage door so the whole neighborhood can see it!” the radio station said in announcing the competition. “Color, paint, decorate … whatever you can think of! Just make sure we can see RadioNOW 100.9 … somewhere” on the door.

The winner will receive tickets to the band’s Aug. 22 concert and get to meet the four members backstage at Klipsch Music Center.

Statue of Col. William Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument. Famous quote: "Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!"

Statue of Col. William Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument. Famous quote: “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!”

Hannah and her friend Morgan Whitmer worked on the garage door mural together “painting images of the band members, a message reading, “5SOS is kinda hot!” a skull, an astronaut and other things on the door.” An anonymous neighbor was so scandalized that she wrote the ridiculous letter:

Soon after that, an anonymous letter titled “A NOTE FROM YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD” was left in Brewer’s front door at 3305 W. Oaklyn Ave.

It said, “At first we all thought you had been a victim of vandalism on your garage, seeing how NOTHING like that has ever happened around here before … In case you haven’t noticed this isn’t LA or Chicago or Mexico and it certainly isn’t south Muncie.

“There is discussion of getting up a petition, calling the newspaper and retaining a lawyer in case you don’t do the right thing over the ghetto painting … We are all sorry we have had to do this but nobody has ever treated this neighborhood in a trashy manner!”

The author of the letter left another copy of it in the front door on another day.

Hannah’s mother Carrie Mote Craig, a teacher, called the police and learned there was nothing illegal about the painting. One police officer even came to their house and posed for a picture in front of the garage door. Craig then sent an explanatory letter to all of the neighbors and the girls ended up getting tons of support and lots of people stopping by to look at the painting.

Statue of Mary Dyer, who "challenged traditional Puritanism with her progressive beliefs," and was put to death for it.

Statue of Mary Dyer, who “challenged traditional Puritanism with her progressive beliefs,” and was put to death for it.

Well, it turned out that Hannah wasn’t eligible for the radio station contest, because she doesn’t live in Indianapolis. But when the station heard the story, the girls still got tickets and a chance to meet their favorite band.  Indy Star:

RadioNOW 100.9’s afternoon drive host Mike Klein and midday host Hunter personally delivered the good news to Brewer, a high school senior, at her place of work (Wendy’s) on Wednesday night.

“She didn’t actually win the contest,” Max Williams, marketing director at Indianapolis-based RadioNOW, said. “The reason why is she lives in Muncie, which is technically not part of our market. She was not even eligible to win according to the contest rules.”

However, “because of everything that happened and the extra exposure she got for us it is definitely worth her getting to meet the band,” Williams said. “The record label thought it was great extra attention to their band. They loved it, so we were able to secure the extra meet and greet and tickets. They won some pretty decent seats and will get to go backstage prior to the show and meet the band.”

It’s just a small story, but it gave me a good feeling, so I thought I’d share it.

How about some politics? I know, ugh. But there is some political news about Democrats today that isn’t about Emailghazi.

National Journal: At DNC Meeting, Hillary Clinton’s Quiet Moves Are the Ones that Matter.

MINNEAPOLIS—Hillary Clinton publicly bashed her Republican presidential rivals in the cavernous hotel ballroom here Friday, but her bigger accomplishment at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting was what her campaign was doing privately.

At a meet-and-greet at a nearby office tower, in small group sessions, and in one-on-ones behind closed doors at the meeting hotel, Clinton and her top staff worked the 700 or so “superdelegates” who will help choose the next Democratic nominee for firm commitments.

“They’re working really hard to solidify their count going in,” said Florida DNC member Alma Gonzalez. “It is a continual and consistent push.”

“This is really about how you put the numbers together to secure the nomination,” Clinton said at a brief news conference. She said the effort springs from one of the lessons learned from her failed run in 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign took advantage of party rules to win more delegates even when failing to win the primary vote in a particular state.

“I got lot of votes, but I didn’t get enough delegates, and so I think it’s understandable that my focus is going to be on delegates as well as votes this time,” she said. “I’m very encouraged by the kind of response that I’m getting.”

Statue of immortal pitcher Cy Young near the campus of Northeastern University

Statue of immortal pitcher Cy Young near the campus of Northeastern University

Two more links on this:

Bloomberg: Clinton Camp Says One-Fifth of Delegates Secured for Nomination.

Politico: Democratic elite rally around Hillary Clinton.

Naturally, other candidates were not happy.

Washington Post: Democratic challengers launch attacks against Clinton, party leadership.

What began as a routine forum of candidate speeches evolved into a surprisingly dramatic day at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley issued thinly veiled attacks on Clinton and the party leadership.

Speaking from the dais, with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting a few feet away, O’Malley blasted the party’s limited number of sanctioned debates as a process “rigged” in favor of the front-runner. The DNC is holding six debates, only four before February’s first caucuses in Iowa, which O’Malley argued is a disadvantage for all the candidates and a disservice to Democrats generally.

“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” said O’Malley, who has struggled to gain traction in the polls. He added: “We are the Democratic Party, not the undemocratic party.”

Sanders — who later told reporters he agreed with O’Malley — lamented low Democratic turnout in last year’s midterm elections and said the party must grow beyond “politics as usual” if it hopes to produce the level of voter enthusiasm required to retain the White House in 2016.

“We need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of that establishment,” said Sanders, who is an independent but caucuses with Democrats in the Senate.

Asked later whether he was speaking specifically about Clinton, he told reporters, “I’ll let you use your imagination on that.”

Tough shit. Obama was completely ruthless in 2008, and it worked. I’m glad Hillary is following his lead.

Statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church in the background.

Statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church in the background.

More news, links only:

Did you see Peggy Noonan’s latest word salad? Wall Street Journal: America is So in Play, and commentary from Gawker: Peggy Noonan’s Dominican Friend, Cesar, Works at the Deli Counter. Good for a laugh.

CNN: Church says Donald Trump is not an ‘active member’.

Meteor Blades at DailyKos: Clinton’s support for 50-state strategy the right move for any Democratic candidate.

Washington Post: Texas sheriff’s deputy ambushed in ‘execution-style killing’ at gas station.

LA Times: Manson family member Bruce Davis found eligible for parole.

LA Times: Bison attack: Man ‘played dead’ to escape after being gored.

From Vox, a very good long read: Tech nerds are smart. But they can’t seem to get their heads around politics.

The Independent: Study reveals that a lot of psychology research really is just ‘psycho-babble’ (um . . . not quite what the study says)

Washington Post: No, science’s reproducibility problem is not limited to psychology.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific weekend!

Make Way for Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden

Make Way for Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden

 

 


Thursday Reads: All The News I Can Stomach (With Pretty Pictures)

cucuel-edward-2

Good Morning (Barely)!!

I wish I could spend this morning looking at paintings on the internet and then take a long nap. I don’t want to know anymore about workplace shootings, theater shootings, “domestic abuse” killings, rapes, hate crimes, and clown car politicians who stoke the rage of crazy people. This country, this world cannot be as crazy as it seems, can it? Here’s some of crazy stuff I’ve been reading. The peaceful paintings are to distract us from the insanity of today’s current events.

On the latest nutcase shooting:

The Guardian: Vester Flanagan told by Virginia TV station to seek medical help, say memos.

Vester Flanagan, the gunman who killed two journalists in Virginia, was told by his bosses to seek medical help after colleagues at the television station where he worked with his victims repeatedly complained about him, according to memos obtained by the Guardian.

Several flare-ups were detailed in internal messages from Dan Dennison, then the news director of WDBJ7, that were sent to Flanagan and copied to senior colleagues. Flanagan on Wednesday morning shot deadreporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward.

Flanagan, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound later on Wednesday, was reprimanded for “lashing out” at a colleague and for his “harsh language” and “aggressive body language” while working as a reporter.

He was told to contact employee assistance professionals at the company Health Advocate. “This is a mandatory referral requiring your compliance,” Dennison told Flanagan on 30 July 2012. “Failure to comply will result in termination of employment.”

On Christmas Eve that year, Dennison emailed colleagues to say he had just warned Flanagan that he had one final chance to save his job. “I’m not entirely sure where his head is at,” said Dennison. Flanagan was fired three months later.

A favorite author by Poul Friis Nybo

A favorite author by Poul Friis Nybo

Flanigan apparently spent months preparing to go out with a bang with everything recorded on social media before he committed suicide. More links:

New York Times: Virginia Shooting Gone Viral, in a Well-Planned Rollout on Social Media.

The Guardian: Virginia shooting: how Vester Flanagan forced the world to be his audience.

The Daily Beast: TV Station Called 911 When They Fired Vester Flanagan.

The Daily Mail: ‘He was the human tape recorder’: How TV murderer was criticized by bosses for appalling journalistic standards and reprimanded for wearing an Obama badge to report on elections.

Fox News: Inside Vester Lee Flanagan’s life.

We old folks remember how shocked we were when Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. Little did we know that a half century later such horrifying events would become almost ordinary–shocking at first but swiftly and easily absorbed into the flow of daily violence reported by the news media.

The latest from the crazy-ass Duggar family:

Daisy by the river, T.C. Steele

Daisy by the river, T.C. Steele

In Touch Weekly: “JOSH DUGGAR CHEATED WITH ME!”: WOMAN TELLS ALL ABOUT THEIR TWO SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS.

In a bombshell world-exclusive interview with In Touch magazine, stripper and porn star Danica Dillon, 28, reveals she had sex not once, but on two separate occasions, with Josh Duggar, both occurring when his wife, Anna, was pregnant with their fourth child!

Danica — who passed a polygraph test conducted for In Touch by a top certified polygrapher on Aug. 24 — details her two sexual encounters with Josh in the new issue of +In Touch+, on newsstands now. The first occurred after Josh approached her at the Gold Club in Philadelphia, where she was performing, in mid-March and the second only a month later when Danica was performing at Creekside Cabaret in Colmar, Pa.

Josh paid Dillon for “$600 in private dances,” and then asked her to spend the night with him. She agreed to do it for $1,500, but she soon learned that Josh was into violent sex.

Danica admits she “took the opportunity because Josh offered to gift [her] $1,500.” But soon after Josh arrived at her hotel m, things got rough.

“He was manhandling me, basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll,” Danica, whose real name is Ashley Lewis, and although the sex was consensual, “It was very traumatic. I’ve had rough sex before, but this was terrifying.”

Ugh. A few more Duggar links:

An old woman reading by Harry Clifford Pilbury

An old woman reading by Harry Clifford Pilbury

AP via ydr.com: Josh Duggar in rehab after admitting to pornography habit.

Amanda Marcotte at Slate: Josh Duggar’s Brother-in-Law Speaks Out Against Him.

People: All About Josh Duggar’s Wife Anna: Her Parents Are Even ‘More Extreme’ Than the Duggars, Says Source.

Zach J. Hoag at Huffington Post: Divorcing Josh Duggar’s Monster God.

I don’t believe for one minute that Josh Duggar got so warped without some serious abuse in early childhood. Mark my words, it will come out eventually.

The latest on creepy old Uncle Joe:

New York Times: Tom Harkin Cautions Joe Biden Against Running for President.

Former Senator Tom Harkin, a fixture in Iowa Democratic politics for over four decades, discouraged Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday from entering the presidential race, suggesting that Hillary Rodham Clinton, if elected, could name him to a top diplomatic post instead.

Mr. Harkin, who served with Mr. Biden in the Senate for nearly 25 years and is now supporting Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, said the vice president should not risk ending his career with what would be a third bid for the presidency.

“He has served the country so well and been a good friend of mine — I love Joe,” Mr. Harkin said in a phone interview. “I just don’t think this would be a wise move.”

Without prompting, Mr. Harkin added that there were “other ways Joe can serve the country.”

“With Hillary as president, I can see him being secretary of state or ambassador to the United Nations,” he said. “There are a lot of things he can do down the road that would be of valuable service to the country or the world.”

Good advice. It sounds like Biden is having second thoughts anyway.

Someone is waiting, David Hettinger

Someone is waiting, David Hettinger

MSNBC: Joe Biden weighs whether he has ‘emotional fuel’ to run.

ABC News: ‘Time is Running Out’ for Joe Biden 2016 Candidacy, State Party Chairs Say.

CBS News: Does Joe Biden have what it takes to compete in New Hampshire?

Christian Science Monitor: Poll: Joe Biden runs better than Hillary Clinton against Republicans.

Well, the grass is always greener . . . those poll numbers would collapse very quickly if Biden actually got into the race.

The latest on the elephant in the clown car:

Joe Conason at The National Memo: ‘Fascist’ Trump Isn’t First Demagogue Laughed Off As A Buffoon.

Although he is still a clown, nobody laughs at Donald Trump anymore — which may be the real purpose of his candidacy, at least as far as he is concerned. The casino mogul is pleased to instill fear among Republican elites, as he dominates their presidential nominating contest — and forces them to face a hard question about the man who is exciting such belligerent enthusiasm among Republican voters:

Is Trump a real live fire-breathing fascist?

From Newsweek to Salon to the Daily Caller, commentators of various colorations have found ample reason to apply that often-discredited label to him. While these observers hesitate to lump Trump in with totalitarian dictatorships and historic crimes against humanity, they are clearly worried by his strongman appeal, his populist rhetoric, and his rejection of GOP free-market orthodoxy. Matt Lewis complains that Trump is reviving Nietzschean notions that inspired fascist ideology; Jeffrey Tucker warns that Trump is hostile to individual freedom and sees himself as the embodiment of the state, like fascist leaders before him.

Such worried conservatives aren’t wrong, but they seem unwilling or unable to grasp the clearest evidence that Trump is channeling toxic currents from the past—namely, his appeals to racial bigotry, his xenophobic and truculent attitude toward other nations, and his extremist “solution” to the problem of illegal immigration. Others have observed that the Republicans have only themselves to blame for encouraging the crude prejudices that Trump now calls forth in his “un-P.C.” way, as Maureen Dowd so cutely phrased it.

Woman reading, Pablo Picasso

Woman reading, Pablo Picasso

Read the rest at the link. I have to admit that Trump is starting to scare me. More links:

Nate Silver: Donald Trump Is Running A Perpetual Attention Machine.

Jennifer L. Pozner at Politico: Think Reality TV Is Sexist? Blame Donald Trump.

Amanda Marcotte at TPM Cafe: Why Fox News’ Defense Of Megyn Kelly Is Going To Backfire.

NY Daily News: Donald Trump ends feud with Megyn Kelly, says he has ‘much bigger things to think about.’

Greg Sargent: Megyn Kelly nails it on why Donald Trump matters.

Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Insults Rattle Republican Rivals, Please Fans.

Fortune: Why Donald Trump’s antics pose a serious long-term threat to the GOP.

That’s about all the news I can stomach for this morning. Am I just focusing on the negative or are things really this bad?

As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and enjoy your Thursday.


Tuesday Reads: Hopping Mad

woman reading

Good Morning!!

The painting above and the rest of the works illustrating this post, are by Edward Hopper.

For the first time, I’m really angry with Senator Elizabeth Warren. I generally get an email from her at least every couple of days, but since her “meeting” with Joe Biden, there’s been nothing. She owes it to Massachusetts voters and to all of her supporters to explain what is going on. This morning I sent her an email and a tweet asking her to clarify where she stands on Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and telling her she should be ashamed for allowing the media speculation to continue. I also said that if she undercuts the first woman ever to have a serious chance to be president, I will never vote for her again for any office.

Right now the media is running wild with rumors that Warren would agree to run as Joe Biden’s vice president, and/or that she would endorse Biden if he ran for president. How she could even consider supporting Mr. MBNA–who wrote the legislation on which the Patriot Act was based, sponsored a bill that would have made declaring bankruptcy much more difficult (a bill that was defeated by Ted Kennedy and Elizabeth Warren), and wrote the mass incarceration bill that Hillary Clinton is being excoriated for–I cannot begin to understand.

Here’s the latest on this story.

Chair Car, Edward Hopper

Chair Car, Edward Hopper

Washington Post: Top Democratic fundraisers invited to meet with Joe Biden at Naval Observatory.

Major Democratic fundraisers have been invited to meet with Vice President Joe Biden at his residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory after Labor Day, part of a series of conversations he is having with senior party players as he contemplates jumping into the 2016 race.

Among the guests invited to the gathering are top bundlers who raised large sums for the Obama-Biden campaigns in 2008 and 2012, according to people familiar with the outreach. The sitdown is scheduled to take place during the week following Labor Day….

In recent weeks, Biden has been huddling with longtime supporters and allies to discuss the possibility of making another White House run. On Saturday, he met with Elizabeth Warren, the populist senator from Massachusetts.

His consideration of another campaign comes as front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has fielded mounting questions about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

The news that the FBI is investigating whether the system put any classified information at risk has rattled some top party financiers, particularly donors who were major players in Obama’s fundraising network who have little personal history with the Clintons. In the last few weeks, e-mails and calls have been flying back and forth between top bundlers as they try to assess how serious Biden is and whether Clinton is on shaky ground.

Automat, Edward Hopper

Automat, Edward Hopper

CNN: Does Elizabeth Warren regret not running for president?

So much for Elizabeth Warren taking a pass on 2016.

The scourge of Wall Street might have disappointed her legions of “Run Warren Run” supporters by ruling out her own bid for the White House earlier this year.

But the Massachusetts senator is in the thick of the Democratic race anyway. Warren offered a fresh glimpse of her political star power and talismanic value for Democrats when she held a furtive meeting with Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday — which briefly knocked even Donald Trump out of the headlines.

The encounter, first reported by CNN, intensified speculation that Biden, perhaps encouraged by front-runner Hillary Clinton’s ebbing poll numbers, is moving closer to a White House run and is keen to connect with Warren’s fervent supporters.

It also returned her name to the political mix, as Biden’s interest in powwowing with her as he mulls a presidential run demonstrates her clout, and those same flagging poll numbers raise the specter of whether Warren missed her moment — or might still plan to seize it and enter the 2016 race herself.

Can you see why I’m hopping mad this morning?

Edward hopper

Think Progress: How Elizabeth Warren Is Pulling The Strings In 2016.

Back in March of this year, Senator Elizabeth Warren dashed scores of progressives’ hopes and dreams with one simple sentence: “I’m not running and I’m not going to run.”

But the influential Massachusetts Democrat is still very much a part of the 2016 presidential election. Her recent private meeting with Vice President Joe Biden — who is said to be seriously considering jumping into the race — has sparked enthusiastic speculation of a possible endorsement, or even a Biden/Warren ticket. Last week, she cast doubt over the widely-held assumption that Hillary Clinton would be the decided nominee. “I don’t think anyone’s been anointed,” she said.

That Warren holds more influence as a non-candidate than as a candidate is not a new idea. But now that presidential campaigns are well underway, the degree of that influence is becoming more visible. Coincidentally or not, the major Democratic contenders have been pressured to take positions on many of Warren’s own key issues.

There’s plenty more at the link.

Compartment C, Edward Hopper

Compartment C, Edward Hopper

NY Daily News: Barack Obama gives Joe Biden his ‘blessing’ for 2016 presidential run.

Vice President Biden invited top Democratic donors to meet with him after Labor Day, and President Obama is said to have given his “blessing” Monday, heightening the buzz over the veep’s Oval Office ambitions.

“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an endorsement during the Democratic primary,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said during a briefing.

He added that President Obama has said making Biden his running mate “was the smartest decision he ever made in politics” and that those comments reflected on Obama’s views of Biden’s “aptitude” for the presidency.

“I’ll just say that the vice president is somebody who has already run for President twice. He’s been on a national ticket through two election cycles now, both in 2008 and in the reelection of 2012,” Earnest said.

“So I think you could make the case that there is probably no one in American politics today who has a better understanding of exactly what is required to mount a successful national presidential campaign” than Biden, he continued.

Hotel Lobby, Edward Hopper

Hotel Lobby, Edward Hopper

Republicans would be thrilled to run a candidate against Biden. Check this out from right wing site The Blaze: Run, Joe, Run. But You’ll Have To Do It Without Elizabeth Warren.

After nearly two terms of Obama and all the years with unforgettable Biden “gaffes,” could anyone really cast a vote for him; even those on the left?

How could Biden be taken seriously when he’s said so many things that made people shake their heads in amusement … or is that amazement?

Who could forget when Biden said, “My mother believed and my father believed that if I wanted to be president of the United States, I could be, I could be vice president!”

Or, how about the first campaign rally when Biden introduced Obama by saying, “A man I’m proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next president of the United States — Barack America!”

Also, who could forget his not too politically correct mention of ethnicities when he said, “You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent … I’m not joking.”

Finally, who could forget all of those pictures with uncomfortable looking women seemingly wishing they could remind Biden about the rules of personal space?

This right winger is making far more sense than anyone in the corporate media. A bit more:

While it’s almost too late to jump into the race at this point, many supporters tout Warren as being “right about everything.” So, maybe they wouldn’t care how late it is.

Remember, Biden is considering getting into the race this late in the game so anything is possible. However, Warren has repeatedly said she is not running for president.

Even if she were to consider running as a vice presidential candidate, it seems more likely that she would run with Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) because many believe and rightfully so, that their left-wing socialist policiesare very similar.

Room in New York, Edward Hopper

Room in New York, Edward Hopper

So far I’ve only seen one article that deals with the real chaos that would ensue if Biden runs, with or without Warren’s backing. Regarding the possibility of Warren being Biden’s running mate and/or supporter, Michael Tomasky writes: Hillary vs. Biden Would Get Ugly Fast.

The big Biden question is whether he’s just preparing in case Clinton becomes felled by scandal or “scandal,” or whether he decides in the near future that she’s damaged enough already that he might as well hop on the bus and see where it takes him. The former course of action, well, that’s all right; given what appear to be Bernie Sanders’s general-election limitations and the fact that Martin O’Malley isn’t exactly setting the nation on fire, it seems a reasonable thing for him to be thinking about.

But what if he just decides the hell with it, I’m running? A Biden v. Clinton primary battle could be—and if Biden manages to win a couple of primaries, most certainly would be—far more acrimonious than the Clinton-Barack Obama fight of 2008.

Three reasons. The first has to do with race and gender and history. When Clinton announced in 2007, she was going to be the first woman president. Then Obama got in, and he was going to be the first black president. He totally trumped her on the history-maker scale. I realize not everyone saw it that way, but in general terms, given the, ah, special racial history of this country, and given the role the Democratic Party played in changing that history for the better, Obama had the larger and more morally urgent historical claim to make in the minds of most Democrats and liberals. The woman would have to wait, as women so often do.

Hotel Room, Edward Hopper

Hotel Room, Edward Hopper

Well, she’s waited. Not that she had any choice in the matter, but she did. And now, to a lot of Democrats, it’s her turn. The party can make history twice in a row. Imagine!

So now, an old white guy is going to saunter in and step on that? And if he’s going to do it, he’s not going to be able to do it politely, which brings us to reason number two why this would get ugly. Biden is not going to get anywhere with a campaign that says: “I have better ideas than Hillary Clinton does,” because he probably doesn’t, and she has perfectly fine and laudable ideas, even if a lot of liberals don’t want to admit that yet.

No. He’s going to have to run a campaign that says, sub rosa: “I’m a stronger and safer nominee because she’s corrupt.” Because that’s the only argument, is it not? He can’t out-populist her, really, even with Warren promoting him—he’s been in politics for 40 years and he’s always been a pretty conventional establishment liberal on economics. He can maybe say he has more experience, but she’s got plenty of that, and it’s not a deficiency; it would be like Tim Duncan saying I have more experience than LeBron James. Yeah, you do. So what?

Yes it would get incredibly ugly–especially if Warren is involved in Biden’s decision or his campaign.

That’s why I’m hopping mad this morning. Warren needs to clarify the situation right away.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.


Friday Open Thread

nyc-newsstand

 

Dakinikat had a problem with her car to deal with this morning, and I have to go out pretty soon myself, so I’m just going to put up some links that might get a discussion going. Maybe Dak will be able to post something more substantive later on–I’m not sure.

The Clinton email story is getting me so confused, the I’m about to throw up my hands and just let it play out. The right ringers seem to be in control and all the mainstream media seems uninterested in actually finding the truth and printing it. The latest headlines:

Jonathan Allen at Reuters: Exclusive: Dozens of Clinton emails were classified from the start, U.S. rules suggest.

For months, the U.S. State Department has stood behind its former boss Hillary Clinton as she has repeatedly said she did not send or receive classified information on her unsecured, private email account, a practice the government forbids.

While the department is now stamping a few dozen of the publicly released emails as “Classified,” it stresses this is not evidence of rule-breaking. Those stamps are new, it says, and do not mean the information was classified when Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2016 presidential election, first sent or received it.

But the details included in those “Classified” stamps — which include a string of dates, letters and numbers describing the nature of the classification — appear to undermine this account, a Reuters examination of the emails and the relevant regulations has found.

The new stamps indicate that some of Clinton’s emails from her time as the nation’s most senior diplomat are filled with a type of information the U.S. government and the department’s own regulations automatically deems classified from the get-go — regardless of whether it is already marked that way or not.

In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own “Classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.

This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.

“It’s born classified,” said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Leonard was director of ISOO, part of the White House’s National Archives and Records Administration, from 2002 until 2008, and worked for both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

I couldn’t find any specifics in this story about what kinds of material might actually appear in these emails. We are just supposed to trust Reuters’ opinion, I guess.

Newsstand, Ken Keeley

Newsstand, Ken Keeley

Then there’s this from Media Matters: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Corrects Rep. Issa’s Claim That 300 Clinton Emails Contain Classified Information.

REP. DARRELL ISSA: The one thing that we now know is that, as they said, about 300 separate emails, maybe more, contain classified information.

[…]

ISSA: It’s not an accident to have 300 emails become retroactively, if you will, determined to be classified.

[…]

WOLF BLITZER: Well my understanding is those 300 emails they are looking at now, that they haven’t definitively ruled it was classified information. They’re going over it right now. There seems to be a dispute going on between the State Department and other agencies of the U.S. government what should have been classified, even if it had not been classified at the time. Is that your understanding as well?

ISSA: Well it is, but I’ll give you a little piece of history, during my chairmanship, it was amazing how the State Department classified the mAlost mundane information even when publicly available. In this case it appears as though State would like to say these things were not particularly classified. Well the CIA, and NSA, and other clandestine agencies appear to be appalled that very sensitive information was sent out on her non-government server in an unclassified format.

Are these the same emails Jonathan Allen wrote about? Who knows? I’m not sure if Hillary can end this story no matter what she does. We just have to hope that when the election takes place more than a year from now, it will be forgotten.

One more from Media Matters: NPR Story On Clinton Emails Does Not Disclose Sources’ Right-Wing Ties.

An NPR article on the government inquiry into classified emails cited two former government officials to criticize Hillary Clinton’s handling of her private email server when she was secretary of state. However, the article did not disclose that the former officials have conservative ties, with one of them advising GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

In the August 19 article, NPR extensively quoted Ron Hosko, who was identified only as previously leading “the FBI’s criminal investigative division.” Hosko suggested that emails which were sent to Clinton — and which have since been retroactively classified in an interagency dispute over classification levels — might represent “serious breaches of national security”:

“I think that the FBI will be moving with all deliberate speed to determine whether there were serious breaches of national security here,” said Ron Hosko, who used to lead the FBI’s criminal investigative division.

He said agents will direct their questions not just at Clinton, but also her close associates at the State Department and beyond.

“I would want to know how did this occur to begin with, who knew, who approved,” Hosko said.

NPR did not mention that Hosko is currently the president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF), a right-wing non-profit that claims to defend police officers fighting criminal charges, but which has come under scrutiny for financial ties to other conservative groups, such as the Federalist Society and the American Spectator. The chairman of LELDF is Alfred Regnery, the former president of conservative publisher Regnery Publishing, whileboard members include Ken Cuccinelli, the former Republican nominee for governor of Virginia; J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican politician and senior fellow at the Family Research Council; and Edwin Meese III, a former Reagan administration official who reportedly helped orchestrate the devastating 2013 government shutdown.

Nice.

Newsstand, Sol Robbins

Newsstand, Sol Robbins

As everyone knows by now, I am interested in crime stories and criminal psychology. As such, I was sadden to learn of the passing of prolific true crime writer Ann Rule in late July. I don’t know how I missed the story until now.

From the LA Times: Ann Rule dies at 83; true-crime writer penned account of Ted Bundy.

Rule, who gained national prominence for her book on Bundy, “The Stranger Beside Me,” died Sunday at Highline Medical Center in Burien, Wash., according to Scott Thompson, a spokesman for CHI Franciscan Health. Rule suffered from congestive heart failure and other health problems, said her daughter, Leslie Rule.

A former police officer, Rule was virtually unknown in the publishing world in 1974, when she began researching a series of murders in the Seattle area. She later learned they had been committed by one of her close friends, Bundy. Rule published “The Stranger Beside Me” in 1980.

The book made her career, ultimately selling more than 2 million copies. Rule eventually penned dozens of true-crime works.

Rule actually began her writing career by publishing short crime stories in detective magazines in order ot support her family. She met Ted Bundy when they both worked the late night shift at a suicide hotline in Seattle. She began investigating the murders taking place in the area and even discussed her research with Bundy. Only later did she begin to suspect that he was actually the killer.

Rule was initially bothered by the idea of “making a living off of other people’s tragedies,” she once told The Times.

“I thought: ‘Oh my God, I’m making a living from somebody else’s tragedy. Can I do this?’“ Rule told The Times in 1998.

The question haunted her so much that she turned to a psychiatrist, who told her that many people — including police officers, morticians and lawyers — face the same ethical dilemma. The doctor emphasized to her that what mattered was her feelings toward the victims.

“I really care about the people I’m writing about,” said Rule, whose accounts focused as much on the anguish of the victims and their families as on the depravity of the killers. “I finally came to the knowledge I’m doing what I probably was meant to do in life.”

More stories, links only: 

WaPo: Inside the GOP field’s new strategies to ride out the Trump tornado.

TPM: Trump Goes Off At ABC Reporter Over Questions On Term ‘Anchor Babies’.

Buzzfeed: Trump: “A Lot” Of “Gang Members” In Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago Are “Illegal Immigrants.”

The Atlantic: A Trump-Inspired Hate Crime in Boston.

The Hill: Budowsky: Hillary vs. media malpractice.

Amanda Marcotte: Why Can’t All Ashley Madison Hacking Victims Be Josh Duggar?

Reuters: Black teen killed by St. Louis police shot in back: autopsy.

What else is happening?

 

 


Thursday Reads: Elite Boarding School Rape Culture

St. Paul's School in Concord, NH

St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH

Good Morning!!

I’ve been following the rape trial that is going on right now in New Hampshire. The testimony of the alleged victim of a rape at St. Paul’s School suggests that this exclusive private boarding school has an educational environment suffused with sexism, misogyny, and rape culture. We’ve all heard about the many colleges and universities where rape has been ignored and minimized. Is rape culture also widespread in secondary schools around the country? Probably, but at St. Paul’s the acceptance of sexual assault is apparently quite explicit.

I’m not sure how to frame this, so I’m going to begin with some early stories about the trial and go from there.

Associated Press: Rape case points to sordid tradition at elite prep school.

Aerial view of St. Paul's School

Aerial view of St. Paul’s School

St. Paul’s School boasts a glittering roster of alumni that includes senators, congressmen, a Nobel laureate and the current secretary of state. The elite prep school also allegedly has a sordid tradition of sexual conquest where graduating boys try to take the virginity of younger girls before getting their diplomas.

Details of a practice authorities say was called the “Senior Salute” were spelled out in stark terms by a former prefect at the New Hampshire school who is charged with raping a 15-year-old girl on the roof of a campus building in May 2014.

Owen Labrie, now 19, has pleaded not guilty to several felonies. When his trial begins Monday, prosecutors are expected to call current and former students to testify about the sexual culture at one of the country’s most selective boarding schools.

Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, talked openly about the tradition when he was interviewed by Concord police. On a campus where upperclassmen studiously avoid their younger peers in most settings, Labrie told a detective some students “take great pride” in having sex with older students before they leave school.

Labrie also told the detective of a contest where boys compete to “score” with the most girls, keeping a running tally written in indelible marker on a wall behind washing machines. The school kept painting over the scoreboard so it eventually was moved online. He acknowledged to the detective he was “trying to be number one,” the detective wrote.

The New Chapel at St. Paul's School

The New Chapel at St. Paul’s School

The school administrators were well aware of this “tradition” and, according to one counselor, were “trying to educate students against ‘sexual scoring.'”

Excuse me? That sounds pretty weak. What happened to actually banning a practice and explicitly policing the behavior at time time it “traditionally” takes place?

Labrie was an outstanding student who had been accepted to Harvard until the rape accusations surfaced. Harvard now says he’s no longer listed as a student.

Labrie’s defense attorney is well-known and expensive Boston lawyer J.W. Carney, who also defended notorious gangster Whitey Bulger.

Some background on St. Paul’s School:

Founded in 1856, St. Paul’s is an Episcopal school nestled on 2,000 pastoral acres on the outskirts of downtown Concord, New Hampshire’s capital. It enrolls about 530 students and admitted girls for the first time in 1971. Tuition, room and board currently clocks in at $53,810.

The school belongs to the Eight Schools Association, a sort of Ivy League for prep schools that includes Choate Rosemary Hall and Hotchkiss in Connecticut, Phillips Academy Andover, Deerfield Academy and Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

Secretary of State John Kerry graduated from St. Paul’s in 1962, alongside former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau is an alum as are 13 U.S. ambassadors, three Pulitzer Prize winners, two World Series of Poker winners, actor Judd Nelson and sons of the Astor and Kennedy families, according to the school’s website.

The school also has a robust international presence: 17 percent of the 2014-15 class came from 25 countries and notable alums include Bernard Makihara, the former CEO of the Mitsubishi  Corporation, and Edmund Maurice Burke Roche, a conservative member of the British Parliament and the maternal grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Owen Labrie's mugshot

Owen Labrie’s mugshot

Labrie told police that he didn’t have sex with the alleged victim. Instead, he claims “in a moment of restraint” and “divine inspiration” he decided not to have intercourse with the 15-year-old girl even though she was “eager” to do so. He also explained that the girl lied because “it’s a “great source of pride for younger students” to have sex with seniors.

WTF?! Then why would she go through the nightmare of a trial in she knows she’ll be humiliated and shamed?

The Boston Globe: Prosecutor: St. Paul’s rape suspect talked about ‘slaying’ girls as part of hookup contest.

Prosecutors say Labrie arranged for a tryst with the girl at St. Paul’s School in a secluded machine room in a school building, prosecutors say he took it further than she wanted it to go.

took the stand late Tuesday afternoon, answering questions about her upbringing and how she ended up at St. Paul’s, where she enrolled as a freshman in 2013.

Today, the girl is testifying about what led to that night in the machine room. She initially rebuffed his message, thinking it was a form letter he sent to lots of girls.

Owen Labrie had been making a list of girls to hook up with months before a 15-year-old accused him of sexually assaulting her at their elite New England prep school, but her name was the only one written in capital letters, a prosecutor said Tuesday….

There was a game above it all: a storied hookup contest among the school’s upperclassmen called the “Senior Salute.” Labrie and his friends talked about “slaying” girls, with April and May referred to as SLAYpril and SLAY, Deputy Merrimack County Attorney Catherine J. Ruffle said.

“This case is about Owen Labrie sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl,” Ruffle said in her opening statement. “It’s about how he thought about this for months.

Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle delivers her opening arguments against Owen Labrie to the jury in the Merrimack County Superior Court, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Concord, N.H.(AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)

Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle delivers her opening arguments against Owen Labrie to the jury in the Merrimack County Superior Court, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Concord, N.H.(AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)

The girl testified on Tuesday and Wednesday and she was reportedly very emotional, describing her confusion, fear, and lack of control over what happened; but she also described how she felt responsible for what happened and, tried to soothe Labrie’s feelings. She didn’t want to cause an uproar, because her older sister was graduating from the school two days later and she (the victim) didn’t want to make it all about her.

NBC News: St. Paul’s School Rape Trial: Accuser Tells Court ‘I Felt Like I Couldn’t Say No.’

A 16-year-old girl who says she was raped at a prestigious New Hampshire prep school returned to the witness stand on Wednesday, recounting a secret date with an older boy that turned suddenly aggressive.

The girl described her confusion as he groped her in secluded room of a campus building at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire in May 2014. “I felt like I was frozen,” she said through tears as she described the accused, Owen Labrie, kissing and biting her and trying to pull down her underwear.

As the groping continued, she said, “I felt like I had no control. I felt like I couldn’t say no.”

A little later, the girl said, she did say no. But as the alleged attack continued, she said she tried to zone out, looking at the ceiling and trying to ignore the pain. That continued through what she described as unwanted sexual intercourse, she said.

“I didn’t want to believe that this was happening to me,” the girl said under questioning from Deputy Merrimack County Attorney Catherine Ruffle.

Recent St. Paul's School graduate Owen Labrie, right, stands with one of his lawyers, J.W. Carney, as jurors view the school grounds, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)

Recent St. Paul’s School graduate Owen Labrie, right, stands with one of his lawyers, J.W. Carney, as jurors view the school grounds, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)

More from the Manchester Union Leader: 

The girl, who was 15 at the time, said Labrie, then 18, sent her what she considered to be a “senior salute,” an invitation from a senior to a girl in the lower classes for a meeting that could result in as little as a kiss or as much as sexual intercourse….

The young girl Labrie was pursuing said she knew of the tradition because her older sister was also a senior at St. Paul’s in 2014.

So her first reaction was to refuse, but Labrie sent an envoy, a friend of the girl, to plead his case and she succumbed to the flattery and agreed to meet him.

Part of the reason for agreeing was his claim to have keys to one of the buildings whose roof was off limits to students. She liked the idea of being able to see a view not available to most students.

She said she expected there would be kissing involved “but that’s all.”

But she was wrong.

She said he took her to the building rooftop, but then back inside the unlighted mechanical room.  There he started by kissing her, then, despite her efforts to stop him, he removed her bra and pants and sexually assaulted her.

She said at one point he laughed and said: “You are such a tease.”

When it was over, she said, “I couldn’t believe what had just happened to me.”

The girl said when Labrie was finished with her he left her  get dressed and go back to her dorm, where she met up with her girlfriends and told them what happened.

Deputy Merrimack County Attorney Catherine Ruffle had the girl read copies of email and Facebook messages between Labrie and herself, messages that were projected on a large screen for jurors.

The girl explained that her friends dictated the messages she sent to Labrie about him using protection.

St. Paul's School

St. Paul’s School

The text messages the girl sent to Labrie are the center of the defense case that she “was a “willing participant” in the sex. I’ll get to that in a minute. First a few more details on the assault from MSNBC:

“I felt like I was frozen,” the accuser said.

“I felt so scared,” she added. “I had no idea what was going on. I had never been put in a situation like that.”

Her second day on the witness stand, the girl continued recounting the events that led to the alleged assault….

The girl said that she and Labrie stood briefly on the roof, and that later, inside an industrial area. She said that the two began kissing and removed some clothing when Labrie became too aggressive, biting her chest and forcing himself on her.

The girl grew emotional as she recounted the intimate details of the encounter, responding to questions from the prosecutor as her family looked on from reserved seating, and telling the court that she didn’t kick or scream as the encounter went on.

“In that moment, I wasn’t strong enough,” the girl said.

She later told the court she said ‘no’ three times. “I don’t know how I could have made it more clear,” she said.

Owen Labrie's defense attorney Jaw W. Carney, left, gives his opening arguments as prosecutor Catherine Ruffle, lower right and Judge Larry Smukler listen Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord, N.H. Labrie is charged with raping a 15-year-old freshman at St. Paul's School on May 30, 2014, as part of a tradition known as the "Senior Salute" days before he graduated. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Owen Labrie’s defense attorney Jaw W. Carney, left, gives his opening arguments Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

The cross examination began yesterday and continues today. As I said above, the biggest problem for the prosecution is that this young girl was very focused on not making a scene or being “bitchy.” She was seemingly very concerned about upsetting Labrie or generally calling attention to herself. From the MNSNBC article cited above:

Still, the girl was pressed by prosecutor Catherine Ruffle, the Deputy Merrimack County Attorney, about an email exchange she had with Labrie after the incident, in which Labrie described her as “an angel.”

Reading from copies of the messages displayed on a courtroom projector, the girl told the court that she replied: “You’re quite an angel yourself, but would you mind keeping the events of this evening to yourself for now?”

Asked why she had called Labrie an angel, the girl said she was trying not to upset him.

“It was almost like I was sticking to the script that he was offering,” she said of his email. “I thought it would be rude otherwise to ignore it, or it would cause him to approach me again if I ignored it. I was afraid of him coming after me again.”

In subsequent messages over Facebook, the girl told the court, she asked Labrie if he wore a condom and he assured her he had, and inquired if she was taking birth control medication.

Owen Labrie in court

Owen Labrie in court

Just one last article, from The Boston Globe: Why was the prep school girl so nice to the man she says raped her?

To the defense attorneys of Owen Labrie, the now-19-year-old man accused of raping the girl last year on the campus of their prestigious New England prep school, the message and others like it are obvious evidence that she was not raped, that she was a willing participant in what happened in that dark room. Why else would she chat and giggle and seemingly flirt in some cases if what happened was rape and not a consensual encounter between two teens?

The explanation of the girl, now 16 and on the witness stand in a Concord, New Hampshire courtroom: She didn’t want to offend him. She was trying to be polite. She didn’t want to be “bitchy,” or a “withering little girl.”

And so her chats replying to him in cutesy French phrases, lamenting the loss of her favorite earring, calling him a good guy, paint a blurry picture of how she really felt after what she now calls a rape.

Personally, I can relate to what this girl says. She was only 15 and says she was a virgin.

Part of the reason why she agreed to Labrie’s emailed invitation for a “Senior Salute” on May 30, 2014 in the first place was out of fear she was too rude when she initially rebuffed him.

“I felt bad I’d sent such an attacking response back,” said the girl, who Boston.com is not naming. “I thought that I was rude and that I was wrong and I had been wrong about everything.”

The girl knew the reason Labrie sent her a flowery email asking to spend time with her. Senior Salute was well known on campus as an attempt to hook up with as many people as possible before graduation. Prosecutors said Labrie and his friends made it a game, competing to see how many girls they could “slay” before they left school.

During the assault itself, she said, she was still thinking about him and his feelings. Right after telling him that no, she didn’t want his face between her legs, and pulling his face away, she laughed.

“I wanted to be easygoing,” she said. “I wanted to not cause a conflict. I didn’t want to come off as bitchy or … I didn’t want to cause any trouble.”

Wincing, walking back to her dorm, she told no one. She wouldn’t even tell her best friend, whom she sat with immediately after the encounter, what really happened. She didn’t want to burden her with her issues.

As she saw her sister graduate, and took her exams, she kept quiet. Her family wasn’t on campus to worry about her and her problems, they were there to celebrate her sister.

Read the rest at the link, if you can. I’ve already quoted too much.

So . . . What do you think? As always, this is an open thread.