Thanksgiving Day Reads

The Thanksgiving Turkey, by Sharon Eyres

The Thanksgiving Turkey, by Sharon Eyres

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope everyone has a wonderful, relaxing day with family, friends, or by yourself–whatever works for you. I’m not a big fan of “the holidays,” and I’ve spent many of them by myself in the course of my life. In recent years, I’ve mellowed and come to be more appreciative of the joys of getting together with family and friends. However you spend this day of thanks, I hope you nurture yourself as you join with or reach out to those closest to you.

There is actually quite a bit of news today, so I’m going to share some of the stories I’ve been reading this morning. Please comment and share your own recommended reads if you find the time, and have a lovely day.

Sadly, some people cannot stop themselves from spreading their hatred and rage–at the moment much of it is directed at Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism or terror plots.


In Irving, Texas, armed anti-Muslim extremists have been trolling a local mosque and following individual Muslims in a threatening manner. One of these horrible people posted the names and addresses of members of the mosque on line. From The Houston Chronicle: Armed group publishes home addresses of Muslims in North Texas.

David Wright III, who organized a protest at the Irving Islamic Center last Saturday, posted the list on Facebook. Members of the group believe a Paris-style terrorist attack is imminent in the U.S. Before publishing the list, according to the Morning News, Wright posted on Facebook, “We should stop being afraid to be who we are! We like to have guns designed to kill people that pose a threat in a very efficient manner.”

The list includes the names and addresses of local Muslims who opposed a bill that sprung up after fabricated rumors accused the mosque of practicing Sharia law. The Sharia court rumors – spread partially by Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne –have repeatedly been proven false.


I guess we should be grateful no one has been killed–yet. But shouldn’t these “protesters” be reined in by authorities? Apparently the police there aren’t particularly concerned, according to a post by Avi Selk at The Irving Blog:

Anthony Bond, an Irving activist who spoke against the state bill before the City Council, said he was shocked to find his name on the Facebook list.

“We have a right to disagree, but we do not have the right to target and cause … harm just because we differ in our beliefs,” he said. “That is the goal of this post: to put a bulls-eye on the back of all the people that stood up against the so-called anti-Shariah law bill.”

Bond said he had reported his concerns to Irving police.

Irving police spokesman James McLellan said he was unaware of any complaints about the list.

“If we do receive any contacts or concerns from anyone involved, then of course we will respond appropriately,” he said.

Um . . . Anthony Bond says he complained to police. Does that not count? A number of other Irving residents are quoted in the post as expressing concerns.

Folk art landscape by Vered Cohen

Folk art landscape by Vered Cohen

You may recall that Irving is the town in which a young boy was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. From The Guardian: Family of Texas boy arrested over clock demands $15m in damages.

The family of a Texas Muslim teenager arrested for bringing a homemade clock that was mistaken for a bomb to school demanded $15m in damages and an apology from the city of Irving and its schools to avoid a lawsuit, lawyers said on Monday.

The lawyers represent the family of Ahmed Mohamed, 14, a student who dabbles in robotics and attended a Dallas-area high school. His arrest in September sparked controversy, with many saying he was taken into custody because of his religion.

In separate letters to the city of Irving, located west of Dallas, and the Irving independent school district, lawyers said the ninth grader was wrongfully arrested, illegally detained and questioned without his parents.

The Mohamed family is asking for $10m from the city and $5m from the school district or they will file civil lawsuits within 60 days, the letter said.

“Understandably, Mr Mohamed was furious at the treatment of his son – and at the rancid, openly discriminatory intent that motivated it,” attorneys said in one of the letters.

Ahmed’s family subsequently moved from Texas to Qatar where he accepted an offer from the Qatar Foundation to study at its Young Innovators Program.

Blue Heron Thanksgiving by Thomas Swopes

Blue Heron Thanksgiving by Thomas Swopes

Muslims are being targeted in Belgium too, CNN reports: Suspicious powder packages found at Brussels mosque.

Suspicious packages with white powder were discovered Thursday at a prominent mosque in Brussels, a spokesman for the Brussels Fire Brigade and Emergency Medical Service said.

The news comes amid heightened security in Brussels in the wake of the November 13 terror attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

Brussels remains at the highest terror alert level, and much of the city has been shut down for the last several days.

Police in Belgium have conducted several raids connected to the terror attacks. Investigators have focused particular attention on a Brussels suburb, Molenbeek, witha history of links to terrorism.

Additional information about the suspicious packages at the mosque was not immediately available.

Reuters: Chemical teams attend Brussels mosque after powder found.

Firecrews and decontamination teams attended a major mosque in Brussels close to the European Union headquarters on Thursday after a suspect powder was found that the fire service said was feared to be anthrax.

Reuters journalists saw about a dozen emergency vehicles, including police, outside the Islamic and Cultural Centre of Belgium, a large Saudi-established institution including a mosque situated 200 meters from the European Commission.

A spokeswoman for the fire service said it had taken a call from the mosque from a person saying they believed that they had found anthrax powder, prompting the deployment of specialist crews. There was no immediate word on what the substance was.

vegetables autumn season fruits food thanksgiving cornucopia 1600x1200 wallpaper_www.knowledgehi.com_15

The GOP candidates are continuing to spread hate. Marco Rubio actually claimed that the Supreme Court should have nothing to say about anti-gay discrimination because “God” can overrule them. From The Hill: Rubio: ‘God’s rules’ trump Supreme Court decisions.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says religious believers are called to “ignore” laws that violate their faith.

“In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin — violate God’s law and sin — if we’re ordered to stop preaching the Gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that,” Rubio said in an interview with CBN on Tuesday.

“So when those two come into conflict, God’s rules always win,” he added.

“God’s rules” apply to discrimination against women too, according to Rubio. (But only the Christion version of god, of course.)

Rubio said Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision creating a constitutional right to abortion, is open to revision.

“It’s current law; it’s not settled law,” he said. “No law is settled. Roe v. Wade is current law, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to aspire to fix it, because we think it’s wrong.”

The Republican presidential candidate, who is rising in the polls, encouraged the faithful to work within the political process to change laws that violate their conscience.

Thanksgiving Mother and Son Peeling Potatoes

And of course there’s Donald Trump. The media folks are starting to complain now that he’s targeting them.

The Hill: Reporter: Trump camp requiring bathroom escorts for press.

“Trump campaign now requiring media to have bathroom escorts at his rallies when leaving ‘the pen,’ ” NBC News reporter Katy Tur tweeted late Tuesday alongside the hashtag “#watchthemedia.”

“Media told they aren’t allowed to leave ‘the pen’ while Trump is in the room,” she continued. “It’s now official policy that the secret service is enforcing.

“Let’s be clear — this is even happening after the event,” Tur added.

Trump’s campaign has regularly clashed with the press, but the latest report comes amid growing tension between the media and the GOP front-runner.

The five leading U.S. television networks arebanding together in the hopes of changing the Trump campaign’s press guidelines, according to reports.

Senior managers from ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News and NBC

News spoke with Trump aides last Monday to address their grievances.

Good luck with that.


Also from The Hill: Trump: Report your neighbors for suspicious activities.

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump said late Tuesday that everyday Americans should monitor their neighbors for questionable behavior.

“The real greatest resource is all of you, because you have all those eyes and you see what’s happening,” he told listeners in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“People move into a house a block down the road, you know who’s going in,” Trump continued. “You can see and you report them to the local police.

“You’re pretty smart, right?” he asked his audience. “We know if there’s something going on, report them. Most likely you’ll be wrong, but that’s OK.

“That’s the best way. Everybody’s their own cop in a way. You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to do it.”

Wow. This is the kind of talk that is leading more and more people to accused Trump of creeping fascism.

Sorry about all the negative news. I’ll give you the rest links only.

Associated Press via ABC News: Federal Authorities Still on McDonald Case.

The Atlantic: How to Beat Donald Trump.

Politico: New York Times slams Trump’s mocking of reporter as ‘outrageous.’

Ezra Klein: Donald Trump beats Marco Rubio in a head-to-head matchup among Republicans.

Los Angeles Times: Sanders’ pledge illustrates how plans to curtail mass incarceration fall short.

Sky News: Suspects Named In Minneapolis Rally Shooting.

USA Today: Cop in Chicago shooting had history of complaints.

New York Times: Pope Says ‘Catastrophic’ if Interests Derail Climate Talks.

Los Angeles Times: Turkey releases recording of ‘warnings’ to Russian plane

Again, Have a great Thanksgiving Day, and I hope you get and give lots of hugs!

Tuesday Reads

Members of Black Lives Matter continue their encampment, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, outside the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Members of Black Lives Matter continue their encampment, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, outside the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Good Morning!!

Police shootings of black men are back in the news, with a vengeance. In Minneapolis yesterday, five protesters of the killing of Jamar Clark were shot, allegedly by white supremacists who have been interfering with the protests. 5 shot near Jamar Clark protest in Minneapolis; suspects sought.

Five people were shot late Monday near the site of an ongoing protest over the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer, Minneapolis police said. None of the five suffered life-threatening injuries.

The shootings occurred about a block from the police department’s 4th Precinct, where protesters have been demonstrating since the shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Nov. 15.

Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said in a news release that officers responded to the sound of gunshots around 10:40 p.m., and 911 calls shortly after reported five people had been shot. Dozens of officers assisted victims and secured the scene, the statement said.

None of the victims had critical injuries, but three were taken to the hospital with wounds to legs, arm, and stomach.

Oluchi Omeoga, who has been participating in the protests since last Monday, witnessed the incident.

Protesters saw three people wearing masks who “weren’t supposed to be there,” Omeoga said. Eventually, the three people left the crowd and began walking down the street, and a few protesters followed.

When they reached a corner, the three people pulled out weapons and gunshots rang out, Omeoga said.

Jamar Clark

Jamar Clark

More details from The Washington Post:

“Tonight, white supremacists attacked the ‪#‎4thPrecinctShutDown‬ in an act of domestic terrorism,” Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said on Facebook. “We won’t be intimidated.”

Though Clark’s family called for the protests to come to an end following the shooting, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis vowed to return to the police station for another demonstration on Tuesday.

A video recorded by a journalist at the scene showed people fleeing from the shooting — then screaming for an ambulance. A young African American man was seen writhing in pain with an apparent gunshot wound to the leg while fellow protesters — then police and paramedics — tried to help….

“A group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights,” Miski Noor, a Black Lives Matter organizer, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Police have not confirmed or denied Noor’s claim.

Here’s some background on the Jamar Clark shooting from The Atlantic (November 18): How Did Jamar Clark Die?

How did Jamar Clark end up with a bullet hole above his eye?

The 24-year-old black man was shot by a Minneapolis police officer early Sunday morning under unclear circumstances. His family says he was taken off life support Monday, and died that evening.What’s agreed on is that Clark was shot by an officer after police and ambulances responded to a domestic-violence call. Police said Clark was a suspect in the domestic assault, and interfered with responders. From there, things get murky. A number of people watched the incident unfold—it was across the street from an Elks Lodge—and several of them say that Clark was handcuffed when he was shot in the head. Police insist he was not cuffed.

“The young man was just laying there; he was not resisting arrest,” a man named Teto Wilson who said he saw the incident was quoted as saying by the local NAACP chapter. “Two officers were surrounding the victim on the ground, an officer maneuvered his body around to shield Jamar’s body, and I heard the shot go off.”Police claim that Clark was not handcuffed when he was shot, according to dashboard video that they haven’t released.

Vigil for Jamar Clark outside police precinct

Vigil for Jamar Clark outside police precinct

Authorities…initially wouldn’t even say if there was footage, either from dashboard cameras or from body cameras. (A September report by a city police-oversight commission recommended that body cameras be activated during all community contact.) Bystander footage from shortly after the shooting is available. On Tuesday, the BCA said it has obtained several videos but that “none … captured the event in its entirety.” ….

Even if Clark was not handcuffed, there is a separate question of whether the use of deadly force was appropriate in the situation. Just as the death of Freddie Gray brought new scrutiny on a Baltimore Police Department with a long, troubled history with its citizens—and particularly citizens of color—the police in Minneapolis are about to come under new scrutiny.

“We’ve been saying for a long time that Minneapolis was one bullet away from Ferguson. Well, that bullet was fired last night,” Jason Sole, an associate professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University and a member of the local NAACP chapter, told the Star Tribune.

Read the rest at The Atlantic. In Chicago another police shooting has resulted in a murder charge against a policeman, but it took a whole year for the case to get to this point.

Laquan McDonald

Laquan McDonald

CNN: Video of police shooting that could shock Chicago.

A Cook County Circuit Court judge has ruled that police must release dashcam video showing the death of 17-year-old old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer in October 2014.

The video is expected to show the officer shooting McDonald even as he lay on the ground.

Police say McDonald had PCP in his system when he died and was refusing police commands to drop a 4-inch knife.

The judge, Franklin Valderrama, not only ordered the video released by Wednesday, he also denied a motion from the city to appeal the decision, which all but assures this will happen.

Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently claimed, along with the Chicago Police Department, that release of the video might compromise an ongoing investigation. But last week, the mayor’s office released a statement suggesting that even Hizzoner is conflicted about the video: “Police officers are entrusted to uphold the law, and to provide safety to our residents,”the mayor said.“In this case unfortunately, it appears an officer violated that trust at every level.”

Drawing from autopsy of Laquan McDonald

Drawing from autopsy of Laquan McDonald

Much more at the link. And from the WaPo: Reports: Chicago police officer to be charged with murder of black teen shot 16 times.

A white Chicago police officer is expected to be charged with murder in the 2014 shooting death of an African American teenager caught on dash-cam video,individuals close to the investigation told the Associated Press, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times Monday night.

Unnamed officials told the news organizations that Officer Jason Van Dyke is expected to appear at a bond hearing at noon Tuesday, at which time he is also expected to be charged with murder. His lawyer has said that the officer’s actions were lawful.

“He believed in his heart of hearts that he was in fear for his life … he was concerned about the lives of [other] police officers,” Daniel Herbert told reporters last week.

According to the Chicago Tribune, if Van Dyke is indicted, it would be the first time a Chicago police officer “has been charged with first degree murder for an on-duty fatality in 35 years.”

In presidential politics, it’s looking more and more like Donald Trump will actually be the GOP nominee. Hillary Clinton could be the only thing standing between us and a crude, narcissistic fascist becoming President of the U.S.

I guess we all know that Trump loves himself too much, but Vanity Fair actually asked some experts for their opinions on whether he could have a clinical diagnosis: Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!

For mental-health professionals,Donald Trumpis at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. “Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologistHoward Gardner,a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” echoed clinical psychologistBen Michaelis.“He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” said clinical psychologistGeorge Simon,who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”

That mental-health professionals are even willing to talk about Trump in the first place may attest to their deep concern about a Trump presidency. AsDr. Robert Klitzman,a professor of psychiatry and the director of the master’s of bioethics program at Columbia University, pointed out, the American Psychiatric Association declares it unethical for psychiatrists to comment on an individual’s mental state without examining him personally and having the patient’s consent to make such comments….

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares "You're fired!" at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares “You’re fired!” at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick

But you don’t need to have met Donald Trump to feel like you know him; even the smallest exposure can make you feel like you’ve just crossed a large body of water in a small boat with him. Indeed, though narcissistic personality disorder was removed from the most recent issue of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,for somewhat arcane reasons, the traits that have defined the disorder in the past—grandiosity; an expectation that others will recognize one’s superiority; a lack of empathy—are writ large in Mr. Trump’s behavior.

“He’s very easy to diagnose,” said psychotherapistCharlotte Prozan.“In the first debate, he talked over people and was domineering. He’ll doanything to demean others, like tell Carly Fiorina he doesn’t like her looks. ‘You’re fired!’ would certainly come under lack of empathy. And he wants to deport immigrants, but [two of] his wives have been immigrants.” Michaelis took a slightly different twist on Trump’s desire to deport immigrants: “This man is known for his golf courses, but, with due respect, who does he think works on these golf courses?”

Mr. Trump’s bullying nature—taunting SenatorJohn McCainfor being captured in Vietnam, or saying Jeb Bush has “low energy”—is in keeping with the narcissistic profile. “In the field we use clusters of personality disorders,” Michaelis said. “Narcissism is in cluster B, which means it has similarities with histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. There are similarities between them. Regardless of how you feel about John McCain, the man served—and suffered. Narcissism is an extreme defense against one’s own feelings of worthlessness. To degrade people is really part of a cluster-B personality disorder: it’s antisocial and shows a lack of remorse for other people. The way to make it O.K. to attack someone verbally, psychologically, or physically is to lower them. That’s what he’s doing.”

Head over to Vanity Fair to read the rest.

AP photo of Russian jet shot down by Turkey

AP photo of Russian jet shot down by Turkey

In world news, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border. From ABC News: Vladimir Putin Calls Turkish Attack on Russian Fighter Plane a ‘Stab in the Back.

The Russian Su-24 jet was hit by rockets fired from Turkish F16s as it conducted airstrikes on militants in northwest Syria. Turkish officials have said the plane violated Turkey’s airspace and that its jets had warned the Russian plane repeatedly to leave.

“Today’s losses is connected with a blow, that was delivered as a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists. I cannot qualify what happened today in any other way,” Putin said during a televised meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan.

Turkish officials told the United States they shot down the plane after it entered their airspace, two U.S. officials told ABC News. No U.S. forces were involved in the incident, both officials said.

Putin said the Russian plane was operating less than a mile inside the Syrian side of the border when it was hit and Russian officials have said it never crossed into Turkish airspace. Putin said the plane had been striking ISIS militants and had posed no threat to Turkey, which he said was “an obvious fact.”

Putin’s words showed Russia had determined it would not let the incident pass without complaint. Initially, Russian officials had said the plane had likely been hit by ground-fire from inside Syria.

It seems there are too many cooks involved in Syria. It’s getting scary.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday.


Lazy Saturday Reads

I really do not want to see a repeat of this.

Boston buried in snow last winter. I really do not want to see a repeat of this.

 Good Morning!!

To my horror, a good-sized winter storm is working its way across the middle and upper Midwest. A previous storm already dropped a lot of snow on Colorado and Nebraska. This one is more widespread.

Associated Press via ABC News: Storm Blankets Parts of Midwest With More Than Foot of Snow.

The first significant wintry storm of the season blanketed parts of the Midwest with a foot of snow and more was on the way Saturday, creating hazardous conditions as some travelers prepared to depart for the Thanksgiving holiday.

While winter has not officially begun, the shovels and snow blowers were out from South Dakota through southern Minnesota, Iowa and southern Wisconsin to northern Illinois and Indiana. The National Weather Service said the snow would continue in Illinois and Indiana on Saturday and move into Michigan. The front will head northeast to Canada late on Saturday and into Sunday.

Selfishly, I really hope it heads to Canada and skips New England entirely.

Snowfall reports so far

Snowfall reports so far

The Weather Channel reports in depth: Winter Storm Bella Dumps Up to 18 Inches of Snow in South Dakota; First Snow of Season For Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit.

Winter Storm Bella will continue to bring the first, not to mention locally heavy, accumulating snow of the season for some in the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Saturday after dumping up to 18 inches of snow in the Missouri Valley Friday.

Parts of the Sioux City, South Dakota metro area picked up over a foot of snow in an intense snowband Friday. Snow has since ended, there, but has now spread into the Great Lakes, with some totals over 10 inches already coming in from parts of Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Winter storm warnings continue from parts of eastern Iowa into northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including the Quad Cities, Madison, Rockford, Milwaukee and Chicago.

In the much of the Upper Midwest, this means a likelihood for at least 6 inches of snow in 12 hours, or 8 inches of snow in 24 hours.

Winter weather advisories are posted for much of Lower Michigan and far northern Indiana, including Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing, where somewhat lower snowfall totals are expected.


When I spoke to my mom this morning, she was headed out to the grocery store, because they are expecting snow and then heavy rain this afternoon. This much snow this early is pretty rare in much of the Midwest. Can you believe even Arkansas got a small amount of snow from this storm?

One factor in how much snow will fall this winter could be El Nino. The Weather Channel: The Impact of El Niño on Seasonal Snowfall.

El Niño, the periodic warming of the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean, can have a number of effects on weather around the world, from heavy rain to extreme drought, persistent warmth to stubborn cold, and inactive versus hyperactive tropical cyclone seasons.

Does El Niño also influence how snowy your winter is?

To answer that, we examined NOAA seasonal snowfall data for 51 U.S. locations for which sufficient data exists and snowfall is at least typical once a year.

We grouped these seasonal snowfall totals into El Niño, La Niña (its opposite, namely, a cooling of the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean) and neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña) seasons.

el-nino-typical-winter-pattern 2

Since no two El Niños/La Niñas are alike and the intensity of each matters for impacts, we further examined moderate and strong El Niño seasons, based on the categorization by Jan Null, a consulting meteorologist with Golden Gate Weather Services.

For most of the 51 locations, we had 23 El Niño, 20 La Niña, and 22 neutral seasons of snowfall data. One admitted drawback to this study is the rather limited sample size of strong El Niño seasons (five such cases), given NOAA’s Oceanic Niño Index dates only to 1950.

Finally, given El Niño/La Niña is not the sole driver of the atmosphere at any time, we thought it would be interesting to examine another atmospheric influencer during the winter months, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

Put simply, a positive NAO typically means cold air will drain from west to east across Canada, rather than plunging into the eastern U.S. Conversely, in a negative NAO, more blocking of the upper atmospheric pattern over the north Atlantic Ocean sends cold air deep into the eastern two-thirds of the nation.

Read the results of the Weather Channel study at the link. As you can well imagine, I’m hoping that Boston will not get a repeat of last winter–the worst one on record with more than 100 inches of snow.

So….I decided to write about the weather so I could stave off the even worse news of the day. Here’s a sampling.

The Guardian: Brussels in lockdown after terror threat level is raised to maximum.

Brussels has been blanketed with security after the Belgian government raised alert levels on terrorist threats to the maximum, warning of the “serious and imminent” possibility of a Paris-style attack involving firearms and explosives.

Brussels metro on Saturday (from The Guardian)

Brussels metro on Saturday (from The Guardian)

The city’s metro system was closed down on Saturday until Sunday afternoon at the earliest as shops shut, shopping malls were partly shuttered, professional football was cancelled, concerts were called off and music venues, museums, and galleries closed their doors for the weekend.

The heightened alert level followed meetings of the national security and counter-terror services late on Friday, which concluded, on the basis of undisclosed evidence, that a major attack was being planned in Brussels. The rest of the country was put on a level three alert, one level short of the maximum.

“Following a new assessment, the terror alert level has been raised to level four, very serious, for the Brussels region,” said a government statement. “Analysis shows a serious and imminent threat that requires taking specific security measures as well as specific recommendations for the public.”

People were told to avoid rail stations and airports, shopping centres, concerts, and other public events where people congregate.

“We’re mobilising very strong security capacities,” said Charles Michel, the prime minister. “There’s a threat of attack by several individuals in several places. The [crisis centre] took this decision following information on a risk of attack similar to Paris.”

I sure hope this is a false alarm, but it will probably make Republican politicians even more panicked than they already are.

 A security officer gives instructions to security forces inside the hotel Photograph: Mali TV ORTM/AP

A security officer gives instructions to security forces inside the hotel
Photograph: Mali TV ORTM/AP

Another terrorism report from ABC News: Mali Hotel Attack Survivor Barricaded Himself as Gunmen Stormed Grounds.

Mukesh Chellani, a businessman from Indian, said he and his employees locked themselves in a room at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital of Bamako on Friday. The country’s Ministry of the Interior said 21 people were killed — 18 hotel guests, a Malian policeman, and two attackers.

“We covered the door with lot of heavy stuff,” Chellani recalled. “At some point of time, we heard someone is knocking the door and lots of bullets.” ….

President Obama condemned the attack while travelingin Malaysia.

“This is another awful reminder that the scourge ofterrorismthreatens so many of our nations,” he said. “And once again this barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge.

President Obama condemned the attack while travelingin Malaysia.

“This is another awful reminder that the scourge ofterrorism threatens so many of our nations,” he said. “And once again this barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge.

Slate reports: Obama Meets With Refugees: “They’re Just Like Our Kids.”

President Obama tried to put a human face on the global crisis that has become a political battle back back home as he sat down with migrant children in Malaysia on Saturday, vowing that the US would keep its doors open to refugees “as long as I’m president.” Obama met with elementary-school-age children in Kuala Lampur at a humanitarian center who had already been cleared to enter the United States. “They’re just like our kids,” Obama said.

“They were indistinguishable from any child in America,” Obama said. “And the notion that somehow we would be fearful of them, that our politics would somehow leave us to turn our sights away from their plight, is not representative of the best of who we are.” The words were clearly directed at the politicians—including governors, lawmakers, and Republican presidential candidates—who have spoken about the possibility of blocking the arrival of Syrian refugees into the US after the Paris terror attacks.

UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, after speaking to disappointed opponents of the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court's decided to uphold the law, voting 5-4. (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Of course, Obama’s words will have no effect on Republican politicians. Here’s the latest ugly example from Buzzfeed: Steve King, Citing Obama’s Time In Indonesia, Says Obama Is Filling U.S. With Terrorists.

Republican Rep. Steve King, while discussing on Thursday the Obama administration’s plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, said President Obama is “filling our country up with people that will continue to attack us” and cited Obama’s upbringing in Indonesia as giving him an entirely different idea of what America should be like.

“We just should remember that, when — where we grew up is — when we were in our grade school that’s when the world was right and we tend to want to recreate that idyllic scene in our adulthood thinking that’s the best thing for America. And in my case, it is. I grew up with ‘Fun with Dick and Jane,’” said King onBoston Herald Radio. “Wonderful. But you know, while I was going on, he was going to a school in Indonesia, so his idea of America is entirely different than the idea that most Americans have of what we ought to be like, and he’s filling our country up with people that will continue to attack us.”

What a sweetheart Steve King is, bless his heart.

I’ll have more links in the comments. What stories are you following today?

Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’m sure you’ve heard that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected “ringleader” of the Paris attacks, was killed during an intense siege by French police. NBC News reports: Abdelhamid Abaaoud Killed in Saint-Denis Raid.

PARIS — The Belgian jihadi suspected of being the ringleader of the Paris terrorist attacks was killed during a raid on a suburban apartment, officials said Thursday.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, died during Wednesday’s operation in Saint-Denis, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. He was identified by his fingerprints. His body was riddled with bullets, according to officials.

Abaaoud died along with a woman who blew herself up with a suicide belt when elite police forces stormed the scene. Eight other people were arrested.

In addition to being the suspected ringleader of Friday’s coordinated assaults, he had been linked to the thwarted attackson a Paris-bound high-speed trainand a church near the French capital earlier this year.

Abaaoud boasted in ISIS propaganda about avoiding capture and claimed he had been able to travel between Europe and Syria without being noticed.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later said that Abaaoud was involved in four of the six attacks foiled by French intelligence since this spring.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud

Abdelhamid Abaaoud

Go to the link to read the rest. There’s quite a bit of background on Abaaoud in this article at The New York Times that I can’t copy and paste from. I’m sure we’ll be learning much more about him.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. the public assault on Syrian refugees continues in the U.S., and there have been multiple attacks on muslims since the Paris attacks, thanks to the ugly hate speech that has been spewed by childish and decidedly unpresidential GOP presidential candidates and other politicians looking for attention. Unfortunately, the worst example so far comes from the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Virginia. From USA Today:

A Roanoke mayor is getting national attention after citing the use of internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II to justify suspending the relocation of Syrian refugees to his city in Virginia.

After requesting that all Roanoke Valley agencies stop Syrian refugee assistance, Mayor David Bowers, a Democrat, wrote in a statement: “I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”

The comment has sparked outrage on social media from citizens of Roanoke and the rest of the country — including celebrities.

The Japanese internment camps, which detained about 120,000 Japanese-American men, women and children, are widely remembered as one of the U.S. government’s most shameful acts. More than four decades after World War II, the U.S. government issued a formal apology and paid reparations to former Japanese internees and their heirs.

Roanoke VA Mayor David Bowers

Roanoke VA Mayor David Bowers

Actor George Takei, whose family was interned with other Japanese-Americans after World War II responded on Facebook. Here’s Takei’s post, From Vox:

1) The internment (not a “sequester”) was not of Japanese “foreign nationals,” but of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. I was one of them, and my family and I spent 4 years in prison camps because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. It is my life’s mission to never let such a thing happen again in America.

2) There never was any proven incident of espionage or sabotage from the suspected “enemies” then, just as there has been no act of terrorism from any of the 1,854 Syrian refugees the U.S. already has accepted. We were judged based on who we looked like, and that is about as un-American as it gets.

3) If you are attempting to compare the actual threat of harm from the 120,000 of us who were interned then to the Syrian situation now, the simple answer is this: There was no threat. We loved America. We were decent, honest, hard-working folks. Tens of thousands of lives were ruined, over nothing.

George Takei Appears On "The Morning Show"

I’m not going to quote the garbage that has come out of the mouths of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruze, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee. I’ll just stand with President Obama and his calm insistence that we be true to our principles as Americans. From Newsweek: Obama: Republicans Blocking Syrian Refugees ‘Scared of Widows and 3-Year-Old Orphans.’

President Obama continues to push back against governors and lawmakers who want to block Syrian refugees from entering the United States. On Tuesday, speaking from the Philippines, Obama said those who seek to shut the door on refugees fleeing the ever-expanding violence in Syria are “scared of widows and 3-year-old orphans.” ….

Obama said shutting the door on refugees and treating Christian refugees differently plays into the hands of the Islamic State militant group, known as ISIS or ISIL, which French media has blamed for the attacks. “I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate,” the president said. “ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there is a war between Islam and the West. And when you start seeing individuals in positions of responsibility suggesting that Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative. It’s counterproductive, and it needs to stop.”

Sadly, a new Bloomberg poll found that most Americans now want to refuse to accept Syrian refugees. You can read the details at the link.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Carson officially launches bid for the Republican presidential nomination in Detroit

Ben Carson’s campaign could be in trouble after The New York Times published remarks made by Carson’s foreign policy advisers: Ben Carson is Struggling to Grasp Foreign Policy, Advisers Say. Again, I can’t copy and paste, but I hope you’ll read it if you haven’t already. David Corn has a fascinating article about this at Mother Jones: The Spooky and Scandalous Past of Ben Carson’s Top National Security Adviser.

On Tuesday, theNew York Timespublished astorythat had the politerati abuzz. The headline was bold: “Ben Carson Is Struggling to Grasp Foreign Policy, Advisers Say.” The piece reported that the GOP presidential candidate’s “remarks on foreign policy have repeatedly raised questions about his grasp of the subject,” and it noted that “two of his top advisers said in interviews that he had struggled to master the intricacies of the Middle East and national security and that intense tutoring was having little effect.” Duane Clarridge, a top adviser to Carson on terrorism and national security, told theTimes, “Nobody has been able to sit down with him and have him get one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East.” Ouch.

The Carson campaign immediately blamed the messengers. Carson’s spokesmancalledthe article “an affront to good journalistic practices” and claimed that theTimeshad taken “advantage of an elderly gentleman.” Clarridge—known to his pals as Dewey—is 82 years old. But the damage was done. Clarridge’s observations reinforced the impression that Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is in over his head when it comes to national security issues.

A particularly intriguing aspect of this dustup was that Carson had turned to Clarridge for foreign policy advice. Often portrayed as a veteran spymaster in the media, Clarridge has indeed had a long career in intelligence, but it has been a checkered one.

Carson is being advised by one of the main people behind the Iran Contra scandal.

Duane Clarridge

Duane Clarridge

Clarridge first achieved public notoriety during the Iran-contra affair—the doozy of a scandal in which President Ronald Reagan secretly sold arms to the terrorist-supporting regime of Iran in order to free American hostagesandin which his national security crew used these ill-gotten proceeds to secretly finance the CIA-backed contras who were trying to overthrow the socialist government of Nicaragua. Clarridge, then a top CIA official, played a role in both sides of the conspiracy. He helped White House aide Oliver North use a CIA front company to ship US-made HAWK missiles to Iran. According to the independent counsel who investigated the scandal, he also sought funding from the apartheid regime of South Africa for the contras, after Congress had cut off assistance for the contras. Clarridge retired from the CIA in 1987 after being formally reprimanded for his involvement in the Iran weapons deal.

But there was worse blowback to come. In 1991, independent counsel Lawrence Walsh charged Clarridge for lying to congressional investigators and a presidential commission about his role in the trading-arms-for-hostages skullduggery. Essentially, after news of the clandestine deal with Tehran broke, Walsh alleged, Clarridge had repeatedly lied to investigators, claiming that he had not known that the shipments he had helped North arrange contained weapons. Clarridge had stuck to the cover story that these shipments involved oil drilling equipment. Walsh asserted, “There was strong evidence that Clarridge’s testimony was false.”

Walsh also pointed out that Clarridge had falsely testified when he had told government investigators that he had not known about Reagan administration efforts (arguably illegal) to seek secret financial aid from other countries for the contras and and that he himself had not sought such funds for the contras.

Much more at the Mother Jones link.

A new poll by WBUR (NPR) in Boston shows Carson’s support dropping in New Hampshire and a new Fox News poll has Carson in fourth place there, according to CNN. Unfortunately, that leaves Donald Trump securely in first place in the first primary state.

Two more important stories:

ABC News The Note: Democrats Take Center Stage on National Security.


HILLARY CLINTON SET TO LAY OUT ISIS STRATEGY:This morning, Hillary Clinton will unveil her plan to combat ISIS during remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York,ABC’s LIZ KREUTZnotes. According to her aides, her speech will focus broadly on three objectives: “1) Defeat ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and across the region. 2) Disrupt and dismantle the growing terrorist infrastructure that facilitates the flow of fighters, financing, arms, and propaganda around the world. 3) Harden our defenses and those of our allies against external and homegrown threats.” Earlier this week Clinton called the rhetoric from the GOP who don’t want Syrian refugees coming to U.S. “a new low” and said not allowing them would undermine “who we are as Americans.”

BERNIE SANDERS DETERMINED TO BE HEARD ON FOREIGN POLICY: During a whopping 32-minute interview Tuesday, Yahoo’s Katie Couric asked Bernie Sanders simply, “What about those who say you’re not that strong on foreign policy?” The Vermont senator scoffed. “Oh, really? Well, compared to whom?” he said with a little guttural gruff. “Many of the serious problems we face in the Gulf region and the Middle East are, in fact, attributable to the war in Iraq that we never should have gotten into. And it is not only that I voted against it – and Secretary Clinton voted for it – I helped lead the opposition against it.” Such a response, in a nutshell, is the crux of Sanders’ argument for why he is fit to be commander in chief, and he’s sticking to it. it would have been easy for the independent Sanders, 74, to shy away from this topic, his perceived weakness, in the days after the head-to-head debate in Iowa. But he has done the opposite. The bellicose rhetoric from Republicans on the other side has offered the progressive an excuse to hit the airwaves, opening himself up to interviews focused on foreign policy.ABC’s MARYALICE PARKShas more.

–HAPPENING TODAY:The Sanders campaign says the Vermont senator will address his vision for responding to ISIS as a part of a major speech he has scheduled at Georgetown University this afternoon.

The Washington Post: O’Malley’s presidential campaign is perilously close to financial collapse.


The Democratic hopeful this week began asking the roughly 30 staffers at his Baltimore headquarters to redeploy to Iowa and elsewhere, a tacit acknowledgment that he will need a surprisingly strong showing in the first caucus state to stay in the race.

And the campaign is now planning to seek public matching funds, a move that could help pay bills in the short term but undercut the candidate’s ability to compete once the voting begins. In recent cycles, major candidates have opted out of the antiquated matching system because it imposes state-by-state spending caps now considered impractical.

“You might get the plane off the ground, but then you quickly run out of gas,” said Joe Trippi, a veteran Democratic operative who served as the co-manager of the 2008 campaign of John Edwards, the last major Democratic candidate to accept matching funds and the accompanying spending limits.

Given the meager amount O’Malley has raised to this point, “it’s not a dumb thing” to seek matching funds, Trippi said. But, he added: “You die now or die later. Either way, it’s not going to end well.”

Other observers greeted the decision this week by O’Malley to move headquarters staffers to Iowa as the likely beginning of the end for a candidate who still lags far behind Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the polls and is rapidly running out of opportunities to change the narrative of the race.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great Thursday!

Tuesday Reads


Good Morning!!

Actually I’m fuming this morning. It’s bad enough that–like others here at Sky Dancing blog–I have a nasty cold; but what’s really making me mad as hell is that Charlie Baker, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, joined the hateful crew of governors who say they don’t want Syrian refugees in his state.

Curses on all the idiots who voted for this man! Shame on them! We could have had the first woman governor of this state, an intelligent and compassionate person–Martha Coakley. Instead we have Charlie fucking Baker, who doesn’t seem to understand that he can’t control who comes into this state. This is America. We don’t ask people to produce their papers at state borders. Anyway, as Dakinikat noted yesterday, the Constitution gives authority over immigration to the federal government.

I hope the Massachusetts cities that typically help immigrants and refugees–like Lowell and Cambridge, for example–will continue their good work to help desperate people who are trying to escape from terrorism and live normal productive lives and show our stupid governor what true humanity is all about. I hope my town will do the same.


I’m so angry right now that I think it’s actually clearing out my sinuses. Here’s the Boston Globe on Baker: Baker’s stance on refugees draws ire of immigration groups.

Governor Charlie Baker joined more than two dozen other governors Monday who said they did not want Syrian refugees to resettle in their states, citing security concerns after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

“I would say no as of right now,” Baker told reporters at the State House, shortly before he attended a Thanksgiving luncheon honoring immigrants and refugees in Massachusetts. “No, I’m not interested in accepting refugees from Syria.”

What an asshole.

Baker’s remarks — a departure from Septemberwhen he signaled support for the refugees— earned swift rebuke from immigrant advocates. Lawyers said under the Refugee Act of 1980, governors cannot legally block refugees….

Since October 2011, the United States has admitted 2,159 Syrian refugees into the country, according to the State Department, including 72 in Massachusetts. After a year, refugees can obtain a green card after undergoing more background checks, and after five years they can apply for US citizenship.

Under federal law,the president, after consulting with Congress, sets the number of refugees admitted every yearand the government works with the United Nations and nonprofits to resettle refugees around the United States.

“Neither Massachusetts nor any other state can fence Syrian refugees out of the state,” said Laurence Tribe, a Harvard constitutional law scholar. “We are a union and must sink or swim together.”

So there, Baker. Now sit down and shut up.


From Slate, here’s a list of the governors who say they don’t want desperate human beings who are only trying to protect their families from terrorism:

  • Republican Robert Bentley of Alabama
  • Republican Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas
  • Republican Rick Scott of Florida
  • Republican Nathan Deal of Georgia
  • Republican Mike Pence of Indiana
  • Republican Bruce Rauner of Illinois
  • Republican Bobby Jindal of Louisiana (who is the son of parents who emigrated to the U.S. from India’s troubled Punjab state in 1971)
  • Republican Paul LePage of Maine
  • Republican Charlie Baker of Massachusetts
  • Republican Rick Snyder of Michigan
  • Republican Phil Bryant of Mississippi
  • Democrat Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire
  • Republican Chris Christie of New Jersey
  • Republican Pat McCrory of North Carolina
  • Republican John Kasich of Ohio
  • Republican Greg Abbott of Texas
  • Republican Scott Walker of Wisconsin


More reactions to Baker’s ugly and ignorant statement and the actions of the rest of these hateful governors:


Worcester Telegram: Local Syrians decry Baker’s refugee stance.

Salah Asfoura understands Gov. Charles D Baker Jr.’s reluctance to accept Syrian refugees in Massachusetts aftr terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris. But Mr. Asfoura said it was a difficult and personal issue to judge objectively: Mr. Asfoura’s brother and his family fled Syria and arrived in Worcester just a few weeks ago.

“I understand the worries after what’s happened in France and on the international level, I can understand the worries of having insurgents come in,” said Mr. Asfoura, president of the New England chapter of the American Syrian Forum, an organization to increase awareness of the Syrian crisis. “It depends on how you evaluate them … but then, you can’t say you can’t do it anymore, you can’t not accept any.” [….]

Local Syrian-Americans, a recent refugee and others were disappointed in the news.

“I believe that this decision is wrong, because we cannot judge the victims for the crime of the terrorists,” said Bashar, a recent refugee to this country. Bashar, who arrived here with his family about 1½ years ago after his business and property were destroyed in Syria, asked that his last name not be used because family members remain in the country and may be targeted by terrorists. 

His immediate family is applying for political asylum, he said. “Those who killed the people in France killed people in Syria. It was ISIS, and now (governors) are punishing the victims.” [….]

“There are tens and tens of thousands of terrorists who came from all over the world to my country to kill my people, and those terrorists are managed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” Bashar said. “I wish the U.S. put the utmost pressure on those governments – Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan – to stop funding, training and facilitating the passage of terrorists through the borders into my country.”


MassLive: Anti-Defamation League ‘deeply disappointed’ with GOP governors, including Charlie Baker, for refusal to accept Syrian refugees after Paris attacks.

The Anti-Defamation League said it is “deeply disappointed” with GOP governors, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, for refusing to accept Syrian refugees after Friday’sISIS attacks that killed 129 people and injured more than 430 others in Paris.

“This country must not give into fear or bias by turning its back on our nation’s fundamental commitment to refugee protection and human rights,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said Monday, urging governors to keep their doors open during the humanitarian crisis.

“Now is precisely the time to stand up for our core values, including that we are a proud nation of immigrants,” Greenblatt said. “To do otherwise signals to the terrorists that they are winning the battle against democracy and freedom.”

Now here’s an assessment from ultimate Villager Chris Cillizza: You might not like Republicans calling for a ban on refugees. But it’s smart politics.

Think what you will, but one thing is clear: The political upside for Republican politicians pushing an immigration ban on Syrians and/or Muslims as a broader response to the threat posed by the Islamic State sure looks like a political winner.

The Pew Research Center did an in-depth poll looking into Americans’ view on Islamic extremism in the the fall of 2014 — and its findings suggest that politicians like Cruz have virtually nothing to lose in this fight over how best to respond to ISIS’s latest act of violence.

More than 7 in 10 Republican voters said they were “very concerned” about the rise of Islamic extremism in the United States. That’s almost double the amount of Democrats (46 percent) who said the same and 30 percentage points higher than independents who expressed great concern about Islamic extremism in America.

That marked concern with the threat of Islamic extremism is accentuated by a deep lack of confidence among Republicans with the Obama administration’s ability to handle what they perceive to be a growing threat.

For people like Cillizza, there is no right and wrong. There is only political expediency. These people turn my stomach.

What do you think? Please post your thoughts and comments on any topic in the thread below.



Lazy Saturday Reads

Stop It. Chris Delias

Stop It. Chris Delias

Good Morning.

It’s a sad day today as the world processes the horrendous terrorist attacks in Paris. It seems this is the “new normal.” We are in a world war against non-state terrorists who are willing to kill innocent people along with themselves in support of goals that I personally do not understand.

The AP, via The Boston Globe: At least 127 killed in Paris attacks.

PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest attacks inflicted on France since World War II.

Hollande said at least 127 people died Friday night in shootings at Paris cafes, suicide bombings near France’s national stadium and a hostage-taking slaughter inside a concert hall.

Hollande, who declared three days of national mourning and raised the nation’s security to its highest level, called the carnage ‘‘an act of war that was prepared, organized, planned from abroad with internal help.’’

The Islamic State group’s claim of responsibility appeared in Arabic and French in an online statement circulated by IS supporters. It was not immediately possible to confirm the authenticity of the admission, which bore the group’s logo and resembled previous verified statements from the group.

As Hollande addressed the nation, French anti-terror police worked to identify potential accomplices to the attackers, who remained a mystery to the public: their nationalities, their motives, even their exact number.

Against Terrorism and War, Julia Olivari

Against Terrorism and War, Julia Olivari

There’s much more at the link. The Globe also published a gallery of photos from the Paris attacks. More links to check out:

Wall Street Journal video: France Tried to Bolster Security Before Attacks.

The New York Times: Paris Attacks Were an Act of War by ISIS, Hollande Says.

BBC News: Paris attacks: A new terrorism and fear stalks a city.

Euro News: Le Bataclan, famous Paris music venue, turns into ‘bloodbath.’

LA Times: Paris attacks: Islamic State claims responsibility; French president decries ‘act of war.’​

The New York Times: Americans are among the injured in Paris.

Tonight’s Democratic Debate

There will be a Democratic debate tonight at 9PM, and we plan to post a live blog here before it begins. The debate is on CBS, and they have pay-only streaming. I can’t even get it on my Comcast live site. But Time Magazine is offering free live streaming: How to Watch the Democratic Debate Free Online.

Watching the second Democratic presidential debate on Saturday will be simple, with a free live-stream on

CBS News is hosting the debate along with local CBS affiliate KCCI-TV and the Des MoinesRegister. The debate will air on CBS and will also be live-streamed on, in collaboration with CBS News. Check back here closer to the 9 p.m. E.T. start time to see the live stream.

Blood of Terror, Li Li Tan

Blood of Terror, Li Li Tan

According to Time, CBS and Twitter will also keep track of social discussions of the debate using the hashtag #DemDebate.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, CBS has decided to change the emphasis of the debate. The NYT reports:

DES MOINES — In the hours after the deadly attacks in Paris, CBS News significantly reworked its plans for the Democratic presidential debate it is hosting here on Saturday night to focus more on issues of terrorism, national security and foreign relations.

Steve Capus, the executive editor of CBS News and the executive producer of “CBS Evening News,” said in an interview late Friday that he was in the middle of a rehearsal for the debate when news broke about the slaughter in Paris.

The CBS News team immediately shifted gears and reformulated questions to make them more directly related to the attacks. Mr. Capus said it was important for the debate to go on because the world looks to the American president for leadership during international crises.

“American leadership is put to the test,” Mr. Capus said. “The entire world is looking to the White House. These people are vying to take over this office.”

“This is exactly what the president is going to have to face,” he added.

Mr. Capus said the news team had planned a different debate, but “there is no question that the emphasis changes dramatically.”

“It is the right time to ask all the related questions that come to mind,” he added. “We think we have a game plan to address a lot of the substantive and important topics.”

More stories on the upcoming debate:

Mumbai Terror painting, by Subodh Kerkar

Mumbai Terror painting, by Subodh Kerkar

Politico: With just three on stage, Democratic debate moderator plans to dive deep.

This Saturday’s second Democratic debate will be a much smaller affair than the first. With only three candidates on stage, CBS News plans to delve deep into the issues with each candidate and have taken advantage of the smaller pool by doing some intense research.

Moderator John Dickerson and his team met with each of the campaigns for more than an hour to discuss the major issues at play in the race, sources on the campaigns said, describing the pre-interview as “informational in nature.” Dickerson is not giving candidates previews of his questions for the debate….

A CBS News official said Dickerson’s outreach to the campaigns was the same type of research he conducts for his weekly show, “Face the Nation.” The official said Dickerson talked with three dozen people and organizations beyond the campaigns to “immerse himself” in the issues.

Alongside Dickerson will be CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes; Kevin Cooney, anchor for KCCI-TV, the local CBS affiliate; and Des Moines Register political columnist Kathie Obradovich.

“Our goal is to ask the candidates questions that help to illuminate for primary voters their differences on key issues — the way they would work to make life better for average Americans. So we’re going to be focusing, as we’ve always planned, on the issues that people care about,” Cordes said.

Terrorism No Comment, by Sebastian Placzek

Terrorism No Comment, by Sebastian Placzek

This New York Times published a piece on Bernie Sanders’ debate prep that is really interesting. I guess he decided he needed to actually do some studying and practicing this time. Bernie Sanders’s Debate Strategy: Attack Hillary Clinton, if Asked. You’ll have to read it at the the link, because I can’t seem to copy and paste any of the text. I highly recommend this one.

One more must-read article from FiveThirtyEight: Hillary Clinton Is The Most Establishment-Approved Candidate On Record.

It’s become a running joke that I’m in the tank for Hillary Clinton. Whenever I’ve written anything that suggests Clinton has a very good chance of winning the Democratic presidential nomination, fans of the other Democratic candidates have let me hear it on email, Twitter and Reddit. I’ve written these pieces not because I’m rooting for Clinton or am in the pocket of “the corporations,”1 but because Clinton is in a strong position to win — a historically strong position.

On the eve of the second Democratic debate, taking place Saturday, here’s the latest evidence for that fact: Clinton has amassed a higher share of intra-party support before the Iowa caucuses than any presidential candidate2 since 1980, as far back as our data goes.

FiveThirtyEight tracks the endorsements of members of Congress and governors because they are highly correlated with the outcome of the primary. In the book “The Party Decides” — where the strong correlation between endorsements and primary outcome was clearly demonstrated — the authors point out that there are basically two types of primaries: Ones in which a single candidate wins the party over before Iowa (like in 2000 on both the Democratic and Republican sides) and ones in which most party actors stay on the sidelines until voting begins (like in 2008 on both sides). The former is very predictable; the latter is far more unpredictable and can produce a number of possible winners.

The 2016 Democratic contest is clearly in the more predictable camp (this year’s GOP race, of course, is not). Clinton already has 71 percent of all possible endorsement points3 on the Democratic side.

Go read the whole thing. You won’t regret it.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and comments below, and I hope you’ll come back tonight for the Democratic debate live blog.

Thursday Reads: Will It Come Down to Rubio Vs. Cruz?

rubiocruzGood Morning!!

I’m beginning to get the feeling that Marco Rubio will be the GOP nominee. He seems to be the favorite of the money men, the “establishment” Republicans, and the corporate media. The only problem for him is that he’s still not very popular with voters.

But honestly, who else are the Republicans going to nominate? Trump is a know-nothing, egotistical blowhard, Carson is fabulist who spouts bizarre biblical fantasies and nutty conspiracy theories, Cruz is hated by just about everyone who has ever met him, Bush is the worst candidate evah, and Paul and Kasich are also-rans.

Rubio is young, baby-faced, and clean cut–never mind the fact that he is corrupt, ignorant, inexperienced, and would change any of his beliefs or policies and, if necessary, attack his own mother in order to win. Just look how he has treated his own mentor, Jeb Bush.

The latest media narrative is that Rubio and Ted Cruz are on a collision course.

Politico: The coming fight between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Going into the week, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio seemed to be the rivalry to watch in the GOP primary. After the fourth Republican debate, that’s been replaced by a new and perhaps more consequential storyline: the coming collision of Rubio and Ted Cruz.

The two Cuban-Americans, both 40-something, first-term senators with tea party credentials, continue to trail outsider candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson in the polls. But they’re increasingly viewed as the candidates to beat in their respective lanes — Rubio as the new establishment front-runner and Cruz beginning to consolidate support from the party’s more conservative wing. The consensus view that they outperformed their rivals Tuesday has served only to cement that impression.

“There’s this growing sense that Rubio’s the best candidate and that people are getting pretty comfortable with him,” said Bruce Haynes, a Republican strategist. “You can feel Carson and Trump losing support. Cruz is a quiet tide in the night that is beginning to wash out the base on Donald Trump. Now, I think, people are looking at Cruz as the candidate who’s best positioned in a lane to run with Rubio and give him a real fight.”


Both Cruz and Rubio are incredibly mean and ambitious, but I have to believe that Rubio will win out in the long run because Cruz is already the most hated man in DC. I have to believe that event Republican voters will hate him once they get to know him better.

At the NYT, Jeremy W. Peters writes: Confrontation Brews as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio Vie for Conservative Vote.

That fight, which could be the most decisive but unpredictable element of the nomination contest, increasingly appeared to be heading toward a confrontation between two first-term senators both elected with Tea Party support but who have since taken different paths: Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Each made his pitch in subtle but unmistakable ways during the debate and afterward, as they left Milwaukee for a day of campaigning across the country.

The most glaring difference between the two that surfaced during the debate — and continued in interviews each gave in the hours afterward — was over the issue of immigration policy. Mr. Cruz tried to portray Mr. Rubio as a moderate beholden to the Republican establishment, while Mr. Rubio argued that his approach was the most reasonable and workable conservative solution.

Yesterday as Cruz was campaigning in New Hampshire, Peters asked him to distinguish between his immigration policies and Rubio’s.

“It is not complicated,” Mr. Cruz said, then paused before adding, “that on the seminal fight over amnesty in Congress, the Gang of Eight bill that was the brainchild of Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama, that would have granted amnesty to 12 million people here illegally, that I stood with the American people and led the fight to defeat it in the United States Congress.”

Mr. Cruz said: “In my view, if Republicans nominate for president a candidate who supports amnesty, we will have given up one of the major distinctions with Hillary Clinton and we will lose the general election. That is a path to losing.

“And part of the reason the debate last night was so productive is you started to see clear, meaningful policy distinctions, not just between what people say on the campaign trail. Talk’s cheap. But between their records. When the fight was being fought, where did you stand? That speaks volumes about who you are and where you will stand in the future. And we’re entering the phase now in the presidential race where primary voters are starting to examine the records of the candidates.”


Peters also notes that Rubio tried to clarify his immigration views yesterday on Fox News.

“The lesson I learned from that is the people of the United States do not trust the federal government on immigration,” Mr. Rubio said as he listed a tough set of policies he said would “realistically but responsibly” address the problem.

“If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported,” he said. “If you’re not a criminal, and have been here longer than 10 years, you have to learn English. You have to start paying taxes. You’re going to have to pay a fine. And then you’ll get a work permit.” He did not mention the question that enrages so many conservative voters: whether to eventually grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants.

The problem Rubio has is that he hopes to get support from some Latinos and from moderate Republicans; Cruz is only interested in the right wing nuts.

Reihan Salam at Slate: Where Does Marco Rubio Stand on Immigration?

Back in the 1980s, Pat Schroeder, a liberal congresswoman from Colorado, dubbed Ronald Reagan “the Teflon president” for the way he managed to avoid any blame for the scandals that erupted around him in his second term. One wonders whether Rubio is emerging as the Teflon candidate. With the possible exception of the silver-tongued Carly Fiorina, no Republican presidential candidate has helped himself more over the course of the first four debates than Rubio. On Tuesday night, Rubio fared well again. He wasn’t quite as strong as Ted Cruz, who, as Slate’s Josh Voorhees argues, was the night’s biggest winner. More than usual, Rubio seemed to be drawing on his stock references to his hardscrabble upbringing and his immigrant parents, and his optimistic homilies about the healing power of the American Dream. What was really striking about Rubio’s performance, however, is the way he dodged, yet again, getting drawn into a debate over immigration policy….


It would be one thing if Rubio only avoided talking about comprehensive immigration reform on the debate stage, but the Florida senator has soft-pedaled the issue throughout his campaign, only occasionally explaining why he decided to abandon his comprehensive immigration reform bill, which offered a path to citizenship to unauthorized immigrants and substantially increased legal immigration, among other things. Instead of repudiating the months he spent crafting an immigration compromise, Rubio emphasizes that he couldn’t trust President Obama as a partner, or that the timing wasn’t right. He insists that he pushed the comprehensive immigration reform bill in as conservative a direction as he could.

Yet we don’t have a clear sense of where, in an ideal world, Rubio would like U.S. immigration policy to go. On his nattily designed website, Rubio excerpts a passage from American Dreams, his biography, in which he makes the case for securing the border first, a conservative-friendly stance. He calls for moving from an immigration policy that emphasizes family ties to current U.S. citizens to one that is instead based on skills, which is sensible and broadly acceptable to the Republican right. What we don’t know is what this would mean in practice. Can we really say that we have a skills-based immigration policy if we also have a guest worker program for less-skilled workers, and if guest worker status can be renewed indefinitely? One assumes that guest workers will form families on U.S. soil and that many of them will be reluctant to leave the country once their guest worker visas run out. And though Rubio discusses immigration policy in broad strokes, he doesn’t really tell us about numbers. Will we admit more immigrants under the approach he favors? Or fewer? Even after abandoning comprehensive immigration reform, Rubio has backed legislation that would dramatically expand the H-1B visa program. What does he think about the evidence that the H-1B program is being gamed by offshoring companies with less than sterling records? These are questions I’d like to see Rubio answer at a future debate.

Other elements of Rubio’s immigration approach are likely to prove even more controversial. For example, he makes it clear that he intends to offer some form of legal status to unauthorized immigrants who already live in the U.S., a position that puts him at odds with many Republicans.* If Rubio intends to stick with this position, as I think he does, he’s going to have to actually make the case for it.

It’s difficult for me to understand the Republicans’ attitudes toward immigration, but it does appear that it is one of the most important issues for their base.


Another problem Rubio has is his possible past financial indiscretions. Has he continued this kind of dishonesty in Washington? Will Rubio’s “Teflon” work on this issue too?

The Miami Herald via Raw Story: New info raises more questions: Did Marco Rubio use his GOP credit card to subsidize his life?

For five years, Marco Rubio has tried to put behind him the controversy of his spending on a Republican Party of Florida credit card, taking the unusual step over the weekend of making public nearly two years of American Express statements to show how he spent the party’s money.

In some ways, however, the statements, which he previously refused to make public, raise more questions about how Rubio used the card, rather than laying them to rest.

Some big-ticket expenses he rang up on the card — $1,625 at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, $527 for food and drinks at Disney, $953 for a meal at Silver Slipper, the Tallahassee steakhouse — are the kind of eye-catching charges expected for someone doing party business.

But a slew of small charges at gas stations and for cheap meals — at a time when Rubio was struggling with his personal finances — suggest Rubio made the most of the ample leeway and little oversight party leaders gave employees and lawmakers to spend the party’s cash.

The Florida GOP issued corporate cards, intended for business use, during flush years a decade ago. A spending scandal threw the party into crisis five years later, around 2010, when some of the AmEx statements — including Rubio’s from 2007-08 — were made public. Rubio’s presidential campaign released the remaining two years of statements from 2005-06 on Saturday to show Rubio had repaid the party when he misused the card for personal charges.

An analysis by the Herald/Times of the new statements, however, found Rubio spent freely on the sort of items that are difficult to prove — or disprove — as party business expenses.

There’s much more at the link, and it makes Rubio look like a petty crook. Is there more to this story?

Although I see Rubio as a lightweight, it looks like the “very important people” see him as their best shot to get a Republican in the White House. I think he’s scary because he comes across as so sweet and innocent.

What do you think? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.