Tuesday Reads: Zimmerman Speaks, Cruz Announces, and Hillary Clinton Prepares to Run

the-piano-lesson

Good Morning!!

Get your barf bags ready before you read the new “interview” with George Zimmerman. I put that word in quotes, because the so-called “interview” was with Zimmerman’s divorce lawyer Howard Iken, not an objective journalist who might have asked uncomfortable questions. I couldn’t bring myself to read the whole thing, but you can do so at the Ayo and Iken website. You can also watch the video if you can stomach it. I did read a couple of press reports:

The Orlando Sentinel reported, George Zimmerman: President Obama amped up racial tension against me.

In his first public comments since the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not prosecute him for violating Trayvon Martin‘s civil rights, George Zimmerman says he was victimized by President Obama….

In it, he faulted the media for portraying him as a racist and the criminal justice system for bringing him to trial but saved his harshest criticism for Obama, whom he accused of trying to prosecute “an innocent American.”

“For him to make incendiary comments as he did and direct the Department of Justice to pursue a baseless prosecution, he by far over-stretched, over-reached,” Zimmerman said.

The president, whom he referred to as “Barack Hussein Obama,” should have told the public, ” ‘Let’s not rush to judgment,’ ” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman told his attorney that he doesn’t feel guilty about killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed and walking to his father’s home after buying skittles and iced tea at a local convenience store.

He said he’s convinced there’s nothing he could have done differently that would have allowed both him and Trayvon to survive their confrontation that night.

“In all fairness, you cannot as a human feel guilty for living, for surviving,” he said.

Talking Points Memo: George Zimmerman Compares Himself To Anne Frank, Says Obama Victimized Him.

“I believe that God does everything for a purpose, and he had his plans and for me to second guess them would be hypocritical and almost blasphemous,” Zimmerman said. “Had I have had a fraction of a thought that I could have done something differently, acted differently so that both of us would’ve survived then I would have heavier weight on my shoulders.”

His lawyer, Howard Iken, asked him whether he was the same man he was five years ago.

“Absolutely not,” Zimmerman said. “I have to have my guard up significantly. … I still believe that people are truly good at heart, as Anne Frank has said, and I will put myself in any position to help another human in any way I can.”

189l

Apparently “God” actually wanted Trayvon dead and Zimmerman just happened to be the medium for “God’s” handiwork. Because, you know, “God” is a racist who hates black teenagers….

Don’t put away that barf bag just yet. The next topic is Ted Cruz’ announcement yesterday that he’s running for president. Cruz made the big announcement at Liberty University in Virginia, which was founded by Jerry Falwell. You can read the full transcript at Time Magazine. Cruze praised the “christian” college profusely, but please note that Cruz himself chose to get his education at Princeton and Harvard.

Cruz led off the speech with a lengthy and sentimental description of his and his wife’s family history. Then he launched into his dream for the future of America.

I want to talk to you this morning about reigniting the promise of America: 240 years ago on this very day, a 38-year-old lawyer named Patrick Henry stood up just a hundred miles from here in Richmond, Virginia, and said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

I want to ask each of you to imagine, imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison “we demand our liberty.”

Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.

Today millions of young people are scared, worried about the future, worried about what the future will hold. Imagine millions of young people coming together and standing together, saying “we will stand for liberty.”

Piano player and still life

That’s not too specific, but I’m pretty sure that by “liberty” Cruz means taking away freedom of choice from women, taking away health care from millions of Americans, blocking immigration reform, and increasing income inequality through tax cuts and removal of government regulations that protect the environment and the health and safety of workers.

Cruz went on to provide some specifics:

Five years ago today, the president signed Obamacare into law. Within hours, Liberty University went to court filing a lawsuit to stop that failed law. Instead of the joblessness, instead of the millions forced into part-time work, instead of the millions who’ve lost their health insurance, lost their doctors, have faced skyrocketing health insurance premiums, imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.

Imagine health care reform that keeps government out of the way between you and your doctor and that makes health insurance personal and portable and affordable.

Yes, you’ll just have to imagine that, because you won’t get it with a Republican president.

Instead of a tax code that crushes innovation, that imposes burdens on families struggling to make ends met, imagine a simple flat tax that lets every American fill out his or her taxes on a postcard.

Imagine abolishing the IRS.

So taxes would get paid on the honor system? And with a flat tax, the burden would fall mostly on lower wage earners. Again, it’s about “freedom” for the rich and the rest of us can pay for it.

Woman at the piano matisse

Women  and LGBT people can forget about their freedom under a Ted Cruz presidency.

Instead of a federal government that wages an assault on our religious liberty, that goes after Hobby Lobby, that goes after the Little Sisters of the Poor, that goes after Liberty University, imagine a federal government that stands for the First Amendment rights of every American.

Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage.

There’s much more of Cruz’s “freedom” talk at the link.

Some reactions to the speech:

Think Progress: Ted Cruz Just Laid Out The Most Anti-Woman Agenda Yet.

FactCheck.org: FactChecking Ted Cruz

The Week: The Obama-like rhetoric, record, and divisiveness of Ted Cruz.

Mediaite: Jon Stewart Mocks Ted Cruz’s Televangelist-Like Big Speech.

SFGate: The Ten Best Things About Ted Cruz Running for President.

woman-at-tbe-piano

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton seems to be getting close to announcing her own run for president. Yesterday she had a private meeting with President Obama.

From Politico: Hillary Clinton meets Barack Obama at the White House.

Clinton was in Washington for an event about the future of urban policy hosted by the Center for American Progress in the morning and the presentation of the Toner Award at a dinner in the evening.

In between, the all-but-declared Democratic presidential candidate swung by to see her old boss in the building she’s hoping to move into.

The White House wouldn’t comment about whether a meeting was going to happen earlier in the day, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed afterward that it had happened — though he provided few details.

“President Obama and Secretary Clinton enjoy catching up in person when their schedules permit,” Earnest said. “This afternoon they met privately for about an hour at the White House and discussed a range of topics.”

I wonder if they talked about Clinton’s announcement and what Obama would do to back her up?

Music lesson

Also at Politico, Gabriel DeBenedetti wrote that Clinton and other Democrats are thrilled that Ted Cruz will be running for the GOP nomination.

Ted Cruz: Hillary Clinton’s wrecking ball.

Democrats from both inside and outside the Clinton camp have groused for months that the all-but-certain candidate was moving too slowly in formulating and projecting a rationale for running for the White House outside of her gender and the dreaded “it’s my time” argument. She was relying too much on a platform of inevitability, they said — the same platform that doomed her bid in 2008. But those closest to the former secretary of state have counseled patience, arguing that a core element of Clinton’s plan was to get out of the way and let the dueling wings of the Republican Party savage each other while she floats above it all.

Cruz, they say, is Hillary’s wrecking ball.

People close to Clinton smiled at the sight of the first-term senator wandering alone on stage at Liberty University, implicitly threatening a civil war with the “mushy” establishment of his party that he loves to decry — while at the exact same time Clinton sat comfortably alongside heavyweights from her own party’s progressive and labor elements, who have thus far entirely declined to challenge her.

Meanwhile the clamoring of some liberal groups to recruit Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive darling, was entirely unheard in downtown Washington as Clinton spent her morning discussing domestic policy at the headquarters of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank run by her allies. The presumptive Democratic front-runner sat near a pair of union bosses and current and former urban mayors, making sure to throw in some love for liberal hero Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor, as she previewed pieces of her likely domestic policy platform.

She touched all corners of the Democratic Party in the morning performance before meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House and speaking at an award ceremony for political reporters in the evening, dogged only by barbs from her Republican critics.

So for Clinton, Monday was smooth sailing. For Republicans, her camp figures, it signaled the beginning of a wild and messy primary contest that will let Clinton appear to be the adult in the room before she takes on a bloodied GOP nominee.

Could the GOP clown car be even more packed with loonies in 2016 than it was in 2012?

What are you hearing? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great day.

NOTE: The paintings of piano players by Matisse are meant as a tribute to our fearless leader Dakinikat and her new moneymaking enterprise.


Sunday Reads: I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do

e0f3c331ce18ab009f8553da817ad441Good Afternoon

Yesterday, Boston Boomer posted pictures of baby animals, in honor of spring. Today I post pictures (vintage ones) of Brides and Grooms, in honor of Dakinikat’s youngest…who got engaged last night.

So to E. and her Man:

Congrats girl, we wish you both the best of everything!

Now for the linkage, in basic dump form because I am moving so damn slow this morning, we’ll be celebrating the harvest before this thread gets posted.

For starters, a few choice headlines. I am not linking to them because I don’t want to deal with the trolls.

50f52d5ec3d9543f8053aa494b3f2995Dems want to empower Boehner | TheHill –

Israel: Beware of Obama By Michael Goodwin | New York Post

Ted Cruz to announce presidential bid Monday

Hey, Gays: Leave Aaron Schock Alone – The Daily Beast

The Dangerous Chaos of Barack Obama
By Larry Johnson

LOYAL TO LIBERTY- Glenn Beck leaves the GOP

That is some frightening stuff.

3ed23256331e2b781c676fdab34194e8But for a little more perspective…how about links to articles that won’t draw out the trolls.

Racism’s sinister word games: What a white-supremacist talking point tells us about modern politics – Salon.com

All-white Fox News panel demands apology for school’s Black History Month event – Salon.com

Black girl’s parents banned from school after complaining about racist threats warning, ‘N****rs don’t belong’

What are my chances of going to prison? – Metro – The Boston Globe

Supreme Court to decide case over Confederate flag license plate – CSMonitor.com

Mayoral Candidate Apologizes For Performing In Black Face

Oklahoma politician dressed up in black face, drag named ‘Pollyester Kotton’ | theGrio

Screen grab

An Elk City mayoral candidate is now in some hot water after several YouTube videos were shared around town. In the videos, Bill Helton, an Elk City commissioner and mayoral candidate, is seen dressing up as a black woman called “Pollyester Kotton.”

a5e923cb6d593398e62a7da7c7dc7680His critics say the character he plays is offensive, buy Helton who owns a salon says it was playfully inspired by a woman who frequents his shop.

“The character came about from one of my clients, who was African-American, from Texas,” Helton said. He also pointed out that she helped him transform into his alter ego, who he dresses up as mostly when emceeing charity events.

Republicans Vote To Hide Costs Of Repealing Obamacare In Budget

Trillion Dollar Fraudsters – NYTimes.com

cb5c75989bf028ef568f0dedd0bc6d36Georgia getting federal funds to get people off of food stamps | www.wsbtv.com

The state of Georgia is getting $15 million in federal money to try to reduce the number of able-bodied Georgians who are drawing food stamps every month.

About 200,000 Georgians fit into the target category: healthy adults with no dependents and on food stamps.

The requirement to work or go to a school was eased during the recent recession, but the requirement is back.

5 Signs Your Fingernails Are Trying To Warn You About Your HealthHigher Perspective

House Medicare Deal Hits Senate Turbulence Over Abortion – NYTimes.com

Republicans Vote To Hide Costs Of Repealing Obamacare In Budget

704ed19921700dc262685087add6a198‘How Totally Wrong Was I’: Prosecutor Publicly Apologizes for Putting Innocent Man on Death Row | Mediaite

10 episodes that show how Maude debated American culture in the ’70s · TV Club 10 · The A.V. Club

Department Of Education Study Finds Teaching These Little Shits No Longer Worth It | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

5 Horrific Things Fraternities Have Done in Just the Last Week | Alternet

That should be more than enough links to get you going this morning.

Have a great day and enjoy the rest of the post:

 

 

 

Wedding pictures found on…Pinterest

Other fun pictures here:

41 Insanely Cool Vintage Celebrity Wedding Photos

12 Beautiful Vintage Photos Of Brides From 1850-1920s

60 Adorable Real Vintage Wedding Photos From The ’60s

Slide show of additional images at bottom of the thread.

Lets end this post with the full Abba song, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do:

Can you believe this song is 40 years old this year?

 

 

“I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do”
Love me or leave me, make your choice but believe me
I love you
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
I can’t conceal it, don’t you see, can’t you feel it?
Don’t you too?
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do

Oh, I’ve been dreaming through my lonely past
Now I just made it, I found you at last

So come on, now let’s try it, I love you, can’t deny it
‘Cos it’s true
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do

Oh, no hard feelings between you and me
If we can’t make it, but just wait and see

So come on, now let’s try it, I love you, can’t deny it
‘Cos it’s true
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
So love me or leave me, make your choice but believe me
I love you
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do
I can’t conceal it, don’t you see, can’t you feel it?
Don’t you too?
I do, I do, I do, I do, I do

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Tuesday Reads: Are Republicans Alien Beings?

Pascal Pensees

 

Good Morning!!

I’m beginning with this lovely painting by Matisse, because I’m trying to calm myself. I’ve been sitting here pondering what makes today’s Republicans so strange. I sometimes feel as if they are another species. They see the world completely differently than the people I grew up with and the people I have known as an adult. Many of my family members were Republicans, and their political views were annoying; but generally I could get along with them as long as we didn’t talk about politics. They didn’t seem like alien beings.

My grandparents were conservative Republicans and so were some of my uncles and aunts. Others in the family were liberals. Yet we all got along by just avoiding touch subjects when we were together. The Republicans in our family were just like the rest of us–they may have thought differently about some things, but that didn’t keep them from being loving and caring people, and they didn’t look different from the rest of us.

My parents’ closest friends were a couple who came from the South. They had Southern accents and they were conservative Republicans. They were even kind of eccentric in some ways–the husband was extremely thrifty and didn’t believe in buying anything on credit; they paid cash for everything–even houses and cars. But they were also intelligent, caring, friendly people and they didn’t look weird like so many GOP politicians do today.

Many of today’s Republican politicians seem hateful and angry, and many of them appear ignorant of how the U.S. government operates and the Constitution on which it is based. As we all know by now, many of these people–mostly men–are also ignorant about female anatomy and how birth control works, and quite frankly, they often appear to hate and fear women generally. They are also ignorant of basic scientific facts.

What is wrong with these people, and where do they come from? Why do so many of Tea Party-style Republicans actually look weird?

Take South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, who has been going around ranting and raving about Hillary Clinton’s emails  Who is this guy? Tell me he’s not weird-looking.

Harold Watson "Trey" Gowdy III

Harold Watson “Trey” Gowdy III

Here’s a profile shot.

Trey Gowdy

Does his head really come to a point at the top? If not, what’s with the hair? Like many of his Southern Republican colleagues, he looks sickly, pale, and washed out like the banjo player in Deliverance.

Gowdy apparently never heard the old saying about people in glass houses not throwing stones, because he got himself in a little trouble yesterday. From the Washington Post: Rep. Trey Gowdy retreats from Benghazi event.

In May, just after he was picked to lead the House select committee on Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy pledged not to raise money off the 2012 attacks in Libya, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

But it was revealed Monday that the South Carolina Republican was scheduled to help a group raise funds at an event called “Beyond Benghazi.”

After The Washington Post inquired about the event, a committee spokesman said that the subject of the fundraiser hadn’t been cleared with the congressman’s office and that Gowdy was pulling out.

Yeah, right. Gowdy had no clue what a fund-raising event called “Beyond Benghazi” was all about.

“He has not raised money using Benghazi, and will not speak about Benghazi at fundraising events. Having been made aware of this group’s plan, he no longer will be participating in the event,” the spokesman, Jamal Ware, said by e-mail.

Later Monday, the event was canceled.

 The Republican Party of Virginia planned to host Gowdy at a $75-a-head reception that was called “Beyond Benghazi.” You could buy a table for 10 for $1,250 or co-chair the event for $5,000, which includes the table, a “VIP” at your table and a special shout-out.

LOL

Now look at Tom Cotton, the organizer of the bizarre GOP open letter to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas)

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas)

 

To me he looks a lot like Gomer Pyle.

Gomer Pyle

 

The strange and borderline treasonous letter signed by 47 GOP Senators actually misstated the way treaties are described in the Constitution and how they are to be handled by the Senate. Ishaan Tharoor at The Washington Post: The misguided, condescending letter from Republican senators to Iran.

As first reported by Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin, a group of 47 Republican senators signed a letter addressed to “the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” warning them not to be too optimistic about ongoing negotiations with the Obama administration over Tehran’s nuclear program. It was organized by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and advised the Iranian leadership that “anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.”

The letter is brief, and can be read in full here. Republican lawmakers are opposed to the Obama administration’s current overtures to Iran, a disagreement that was put into stark relief last week by the polarizing speech delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint meeting of Congress. This is yet another tactic to scupper a potential deal.

It starts with the patronizing premise that “you may not fully understand our Constitutional system” and goes on to explain, first, that any international treaty will need to be ratified by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress and that, unlike the president of the United States, senators “may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms.” The message to the mullahs: don’t get comfortable with any deal, because we’re going to scrap it as soon as we can.

tom-cottonWTF?!!

Whatever its effects in Washington, the letter is almost farcically condescending in word and tone. Iran’s leaders are well aware of how the United States works. The country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, spent the better part of a decade as the Iranian envoy to the United Nations; like many others in the Iranian cabinet, he was partly educated in the United States.

It reflects the willful ignorance on the part of many hawks in Washington who insist on seeing Iran purely as an irrational actor and a permanent regional threat. As WorldViews discussed earlier, Iran is problematic in many ways, and its regime plays a role in fueling proxy wars in parts of the Middle East. But one can argue that the same is true of Washington’s chief Arab ally in the region, Saudi Arabia.

At the Lawfare blog, Jack Goldsmith wrote that Tom Cotton and his Senate colleagues made an “embarrassing” mistake in their strange letter.

The Error in the Senators’ Letter to the Leaders of Iran.

The letter states that “the Senate must ratify [a treaty] by a two-thirds vote.”  But as the Senate’s own web page makes clear: “The Senate does not ratify treaties. Instead, the Senate takes up a resolution of ratification, by which the Senate formally gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification” (my emphasis).  Or, as this outstanding  2001 CRS Report on the Senate’s role in treaty-making states (at 117):  “It is the President who negotiates and ultimately ratifies treaties for the United States, but only if the Senate in the intervening period gives its advice and consent.”  Ratification is the formal act of the nation’s consent to be bound by the treaty on the international plane.  Senate consent is a necessary but not sufficient condition of treaty ratification for the United States.  As the CRS Report notes: “When a treaty to which the Senate has advised and consented … is returned to the President,” he may “simply decide not to ratify the treaty.”

Even more embarrassing, Iran’s U.S. educated foreign minister responded to the GOP letter and proceeded to school the Senators on how international law works. From The Tehran Times: Zarif to U.S. senators: You are ignorant of international law.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said the letter lacks “legal validity” and shows that the signatories of the letter are “ignorant of international law”
“In our view this letter has no legal validity and is just a propaganda scheme,” Zarif noted.
Zarif said it is surprising that while nuclear talks have not reached a result yet pressure groups in the U.S. have become so “worried” that they have resorted to any “unconventional way” to kill it.
The letter proved that “like” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu these senators “are opposed to any deal”.
Expressing surprise on how it is possible that the legislators of a country write a letter against their own president and government to the leaders of another country, Zarif said, “The letter by the senators show that not only they are alien to international law but even not familiar with the details of the their own constitution about the authority of the president” in implementing foreign agreements.

Many of Iran’s leaders were educated in the U.S. But where did Tom Cotton and his buddies learn about the Constitution, separation of powers, and how foreign policy is handled in the U.S.? Amazingly, he graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and did more graduate work at Claremont Graduate University. Was he just not paying attention?

Ted Cruz at Princeton

Ted Cruz at Princeton

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also graduated from Harvard Law and got his undergraduate degree from Princeton. He also signed the letter and seems confused about the Constitutional duties of the President. He actually wrote an op-ed for Politico in which he claimed Obama was “acting like a monarch.”

From Politifact in May 2014: Ted Cruz says Barack Obama is first president ‘who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore’.

Critics of President Barack Obama have charged that he has regularly exceeded the powers of his office in selectively enforcing the law. Their examples include making recess appointments, issuing executive orders, delaying provisions of his health care law, refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and declining to deport certain categories of young illegal immigrants.

At the 2014 CPAC conference, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reiterated this point to the audience of conservative activists.

Referring to Obama, Cruz said, “This president of the United States is the first president we’ve ever had who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore.”

Politifact concluded, based on interviews with historians that several presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush have “ignored specific laws or constitutional protections,” but they don’t actually offer any specific examples of Obama doing so.

Are these Republicans simply blinded by ideology or are they willfully ignorant, despite attention top U.S. Universities? I honestly don’t know the answer. I know it’s rude of me to call attention to how they look, but I can’t help wondering why so many of the GOP “young turks” look like their parents were cousins. For example, Louisiana’s recently elected Senator “crazy eyes” Bill Cassidy, who looks a lot like Frankenstein’s monster. Cassidy also signed Cotton’s letter to Iran.

Cassidy eyes

 

Bill Cassidy campaigning in Baton Rouge, LA.

Bill Cassidy campaigning in Baton Rouge, LA.

Even some of the older GOP Senators who signed the letter have that crazy look:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama)

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

 

Am I nuts? I don’t even know if this post makes any sense. Lately I feel as if this country is falling apart. And more and more I get the feeling that Republicans just aren’t like you and me. Where do these people come from and what is wrong with them?

This is an open thread. You can discuss this post or anything else you like. Have a nice Tuesday, everyone!


Sunday Reads: International Women’s Day and More

tumblr_mk8lqycUJm1qavmuuo1_1280Good Afternoon

Another International Women’s Day has rolled around, and again we are inundated with news outlets quoting famous people’s thoughts on Women’s Rights to inspire us…

I thought to myself, fuck that. We have enough inspiration right here in our own stories of survival to inspire us.(I am talking to the women reading this, and those of you men who are “men” enough to call yourself feminist.)

What I wanted to do today is highlight some of the shit women are currently dealing with,  as in the last 48 hours or so…just to put some of the importance of International Women’s Day into perspective.

Israeli forces fire on International Women’s Day demonstrators | Al Bawaba

More than 30 Palestinians, mostly women, were injured as Israeli troops forcibly dispersed a peaceful march marking International Women’s Day at Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah on Friday.

Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas canisters, stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets, and pepper spray at hundreds of women to prevent them from reaching the checkpoint. Fourteen of the 30 injured were evacuated to hospitals.

The rally began at Qalandiya refugee camp and marched toward the nearby checkpoint. Witnesses say more than 1,000 women joined the rally along with Palestinian political leaders.

When the rally neared the checkpoint, Israeli soldiers barricaded themselves behind the steel gates and attacked female participants in the face with pepper spray as they approached.

As defiant women refused to move back, Israeli soldiers showered them with tear gas and stun grenades, forcing them to move.

The demonstration was organized by two women’s groups, one from Palestine and one from Israel.

Palestinian and Israeli women protest occupation on Intl Women’s Day – Region – World – Ahram Online

72986ae214f272ebb166ff5e62515db7On the occasion of International Women’s Day, hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli women demonstrated the Israeli occupation on both sides of the Kalandia checkpoint that separates Ramallah and Jerusalem, France 24 reported on Sunday.

The Movement of Democratic Women in Israel organised the protest alongside the General Union of Palestinian Women under the slogan “Palestinian and Israeli women break the wall.”

However, the Palestinian women, who were attempting to reach the Israeli side of the checkpoint, were stopped by Israeli occupation forces who fired tear gas in order to break up the demonstration.

The movement that includes women from both Jewish and Arab backgrounds was established in 1948.

It lamented in a statement “How are we supposed to remain silent when our Palestinian brothers and sisters have been suffering year after year from the Israeli occupation that deprives them of their basic human and civil rights?”

The statement that was distributed in Arabic, English and Hebrew went on to criticise Israel’s assault on Gaza last summer.

“How can we ignore the suffering of Palestinian women and their exposure to repression, violence discrimination, oppression and murder.”

This is something isn’t it?

Yukhefit Ghonin, an 85-year-old Jewish peace activist, said that she came from Haifa in Israel to meet Palestinian women who are barred from traveling because of the wall.

“We have to break these boundaries and walls,” she said.

On the Palestinian side of the wall, hundreds of women wearing the black and white traditional Palestinian Kifeya held their national flag.

The Palestinian Authority considers Sunday the 8th of March an official holiday in a show of solidarity with women.

The United Nations commemorates the day as a celebration of women’s achievements throughout history.

More on the story here:

Marking International Women’s Day, Eight Palestinian Women Injured Near Ramallah – International Middle East Media Center

Palestinian and Israeli Women Demonstrate for the Same Cause, but On Different Sides of the Wall

In other IWD around the world news:

5b577fd241823420d90c229461655065China detains five rights campaigners who planned Women’s Day protest | Reuters

China is holding at least five women’s rights activists in detention after they planned a demonstration ahead of International Women’s Day, which falls on Sunday, rights lawyers said.

Lawyers for two of the activists told Reuters the five women, who are from three cities, were detained by police on March 6. They were organizing demonstrations in several cities over the weekend against sexual harassment on public buses.

 

Iraqi women: ‘Things were so much better before’ – Al Jazeera English

In light of International Women’s Day as well as the recent appointment of Baghdad’s first female mayor, civil engineer Zekra Alwach, it’s an opportune moment to remember the many “firsts” enjoyed by Iraqi women.

The nation produced the first female judge, ambassador, and government minister in the Arab world. Iraqi women benefited from state subsidised childcare and education; they once formed about half the public sector workforce and 50 percent of the country’s doctors.

Sadly, as the 12th anniversary of a disastrous invasion and occupation looms, there is another rather grim “first” to ponder.

Iraqi women are arguably the first to see their status go from one of the highest in the region to one of the lowest, in less than two decades. (Now followed closely by their sisters in neighbouring Syria.)

From Great Britain:

45 years after the Equal Pay Act, there’s still a long way to go | Comment is free | The Guardian

0194400c0c609b470d95a4db3335e62dBritish spy agencies urged to recruit middle-aged women to counter ‘traditional male mentality’

itch the preconceptions about Bond girls — the British intelligence agencies should be recruiting middle-age mothers to expand their talent pool, a parliamentary report said on Thursday.

It urged MI5, MI6 and communications monitoring agency GCHQ to use online forum Mumsnet among other mediums to boost the number of women, who currently make up just 37 percent of the workforce, many of them in junior roles.

“Women or mothers in middle-age or mid-career have valuable life experience and may offer an untapped recruitment pool,” said parliament’s intelligence and security committee.

The report comes after French foreign intelligence agency DGSE opened its doors to a glossy magazine for a story last week about the lives of its female spies, in a clear effort to recruit more women.

 

Give girls career advice before the age of 10, says shadow Education Secretary – Education News – Education – The Independent

And over in Indonesia: Sportswear company apologises after washing instructions to ‘give it to a woman. It’s her job’ – Asia – World – The Independent

Hey what about Africa? Celebrating the woman who discovered Nigeria’s Ebola patient zero and curbed an outbreak – Africa – World – The Independent

Few people have heard of Dr Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, but many have her to thank for curbing the outbreak of Ebola in Nigeria and preventing an epidemic of the disease in Africa’s most populous country.

Dr Adadevoh is widely praised as the woman who spotted Ebola when it first came to Nigeria.

While here in our own country: Lawyer Arguing Against Obamacare: Statute Written By ‘White Women And Minorities’

Texas parents rip ‘toxic’ school that shamed educator for ‘female bleeding’ caused by IUD

58d006ee1dfb8892ac0c0ad3859464c8For a general look at women around the world:

International Women’s Day 2015: How far have the rights of females progressed?

International Women’s Day: 9 charts that prove women are still treated like second-class citizens – Home News – UK – The Independent

From Eve to Pandora: How fear of women haunts our earliest myths

But it all comes down to:

What women want – Al Jazeera English

Feminism – it has its celebrity champions, media missionaries and vitriolic detractors. But have the voices of those who most need representation been lost in the discourse, and is the movement at risk of losing touch with the issues that define the lives of the majority of the world’s women?

In the March issue of the Al Jazeera Magazine, we ask women across the world what one thing would improve their lives and the lives of those around them. When combined, their answers create a feminist manifesto of sorts; their stories a reminder of the work still to be done.

They come from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, subscribe to different religious and political creeds and represent a range of racial and sexual identities. Some define as feminists; others shun the label. But whether they want an end to FGM or the right to dress as they please, more women in boardrooms or more in the temple, this is what empowerment looks and feels like to them.

Go to the link to find out.

Then you have the funny side of all this, in that funny is not so funny, like that scene in Goodfellas. No, it does not mean funny as in it is supposed to amuse us.

VIDEO: Watch College Students Sign Petition To End Women’s Suffrage In The Name Of Women’s Rights | The Hayride-  thehayride . com/2015/03/  video-watch-college-students-sign-petition-to-end-womens-suffrage-in-the-name-of-womens-rights/

(Reason for broken link above.) BTW, this is coming from a conservative site…so the slant is obvious, as it starts out saying college students will sign petitions for anything. Anyway, check it out.

 

Turning Point USA. They sent one of their Iowa Field Coordinator, Jake Dagel, to Iowa State University with a petition to end women’s suffrage, or ending the right to vote for women. Dagel started by pointing out that Sunday is International Women’s Day and he wanted to see if students understood something as simple as women’s suffrage.

Dagel went around campus asking students to end “the suffraging of women in society.” While the students signed the petition, Dagel said that women should be empowered and the students who were signing the petition agreed with him. Even better, many of the students were talking about how they talking about women’s rights in their classes.

According to the video, Dagel’s stunt was caught only twice. One of the students who knew what Dagel’s petition was about was asked about what she thought of the fact that students signed a petition to take away her right to vote and she said, “I’m pretty pissed off about it.” If I was a woman, I’m sure I would be pissed off.

Dagel got two pages worth of signatures for his petition.

The stupidity…is it that bad? Or are these students just naive?

Here’s the press release sent out by Turning Point USA:

Despite this Sunday, March 8th being International Women’s Day, students at Iowa State University eagerly signed a petition to end women’s suffrage, also known as a woman’s right to vote. Jake Dagel, Iowa Field Coordinator for a non-partisan youth organization called Turning Point USA, secretly filmed his encounters as he asked students to sign the petition.

In a video posted to YouTube, students are shown saying “I feel like I should do this… I’ve got to tell my professor about this!”

The petition garnered over 2 pages of signature in a matter of just a few hours.

“Students who often demand equal rights for women don’t understand the history of the movement,” said Jake Dagel. “These students failed to recognize that they were signing a petition to end a woman’s right to vote,” he continued.

The video location is particularly interesting because Carrie Lane Chapman Catt, who attended Iowa State University, was an instrumental leader in the movement for women’s suffrage, which lead to the 19th amendment.

“Most students at Iowa State don’t know the history of their own university, let alone the entire women’s rights movement,” said Dagel.

Now most of the students thought that suffrage = suffering and they did women a favor. But this video shows that many of these people, who claim to support social justice, have no clue what they’re talking about. This is the fault of a failed education system that’s not teaching our kids our history or much of anything.

fd6797273dea0953c5941639553d57caI don’t know, perhaps it is the failed state of the shitty textbooks these conservatives are sticking in the schools, coupled with budget cuts and other things….like revisionism. I don’t know, it does show the dumbing down of society. These students should consider getting a law degree from Costco…

Joe and Frito are walking through a Costco, much bigger than what was in Joe’s time
Greeter: Hi, welcome to Costco. I love you.
Frito: Yeah, I know this place pretty good. I went to law school here.
Joe: You went to law school at Costco?
Frito: I know! I couldn’t believe it either but luckily my dad was an alumnus so he pulled some strings.
-Idiocracy 2006

And that leads me to this next link: Can hipsters save the world? | UK news | The Guardian

Okay now for the other news stories of the day:

Cop who killed unarmed 19-year-old Tony Robinson was cleared in a 2007 shooting death | theGrio

Iraqi immigrant shot and killed in Texas as he watched his first snow – Americas – World – The Independent

African-Americans still struggle for Full Citizenship Rights, Voting Rights | Informed Comment

Fox News regular upset Google will rank by accuracy: ‘Let the public decide what’s the truth’

David Duke Talks to Ray Suarez | Al Jazeera America

Charlie Murphy’s story about Prince in ‘Chappelle’s Show’ just got a lot more plausible – ESPN

Prince Plans ‘Hit and Run Tour’ in the United States

850 DNA Matches Found as Houston Clears Rape Kit Backlog

The next few links are disturbing, so take note:

Arkansas State Rep Probably Had Good Reason For Giving Adopted Daughter To Guy Who Raped Her | Wonkette

Let’s Meet Justin Harris, The Arkansas House’s Godly Child-Abandoner | Wonkette

Arkansas horror story: Republican lawmaker gave up adopted 6-year-old to man who then raped her

Arkansas rep who gave his adopted six-year-old to rapist is lying: former foster family

Geez I hate this fucking GOP religious hypocrite assholes.

In connection with that statement, the same goes for journalist who don’t do their jobs…and report the full story:

Times “Not Without Fault” Says Public Editor | Blog | Media Matters for America

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan is right that the Times story last week, which falsely charged that Hillary Clinton might have broken federal rules regarding her email practices was “not without fault.” According to Sullivan, “the story should have been much clearer about precisely what regulations might have been violated, and when they took effect.”

But Sullivan misses the main point, and in doing so continues to leave the wrong and unfair impression that Clinton might have violated federal rules when she plainly didn’t.

Homer-Simpson_Catholic_Birth-TractObama has made his usual statement in these kinds of matters. I call it his Homer Simpson Defense:

“Three little sentences will get you through life. Number 1: Cover for me. Number 2: Oh, good idea, Boss! Number 3: It was like that when I got here.” Homer Simpson

Obama has his own take on that…

I heard about it the same time as everybody else, through news reports.

Obama Says He Heard About Hillay’s Emails “Through News Reports” | Video | RealClearPolitics

Ugh…

Okay enough of all that shit. On to something good, about a dog.

BBC News – Frankie the dog ‘sniffs out thyroid cancer’

A dog has been used to sniff out thyroid cancer in people who had not yet been diagnosed, US researchers say.

Tests on 34 patients showed an 88% success rate in finding tumours.

The team, presenting their findings at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, said the animal had an “unbelievable” sense of smell.

Cancer Research UK said using dogs would be impractical, but discovering the chemicals the dogs can smell could lead to new tests.

[…]

Frankie the dog
Frankie gave the correct diagnosis in 30 out of 34 cases

The next step was to see if it could be used as a diagnostic test.

Frankie the German Shepherd was trained to lie down when he could smell thyroid cancer in a sample and turn away if the urine was clean.

Thirty-four patients, who were going to hospital for conventional testing, took part in the trial.

Frankie gave the correct diagnosis in 30 out of 34 cases. There were two false positives and two patients who would have been incorrectly given the all-clear.

Wow…

I will end with a fish tale, a huge one:

Enormous 20-stone catfish caught with fishing rod in Italy after 40-minute boat battle – Europe – World – The Independent

The picture is all you need to see:

Enormous 20-stone catfish caught with fishing rod in Italy after 40-minute boat battle - Europe - World - The Independent 2015-03-08 12-13-34

Enormous 20-stone catfish caught with fishing rod in Italy after 40-minute boat battle – Europe – World – The Independent 2015-03-08 12-13-34

 

 

Hope you have a good Sunday evening, what are you all reading about today?

 


Saturday Afternoon Reads: Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965

Two Minute Warning, photo by Spider Martin.  Selma "marchers facing a line of state troopers in Selma moments before police beat the protestors on March 7, 1965." The day became known as Bloody Sunday. Courtesy Tracy Martin (NPR)

Two Minute Warning, photo by Spider Martin.
Selma “marchers facing a line of state troopers in Selma moments before police beat the protestors on March 7, 1965.
Courtesy Tracy Martin (NPR)

Good Afternoon!!

Today is the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965 in Selma, Alabama. From USA Today, Bloody Sunday commemoration commences in Selma.

SELMA, Ala. — They have come from coast to coast to commemorate a solemn moment in civil rights history, but also to renew their commitment to a fight that many say isn’t finished.

Tens of thousands of Americans are gathering here on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when marchers attempting to walk from Selma to Montgomery to demand an end to discriminatory polling practices were viciously attacked by police.

It took two more attempts for marchers — led by John Lewis and Hosea Williams — to successfully complete their roughly 50-mile trip to Montgomery. But their determination — and the searing images of the violence during that first march — shook the nation’s collective conscience and helped usher in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965….

Participants began arriving Thursday for a five-day commemoration that will reach its apex today when President Obama will speak from the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the marchers were bloodied by state troopers and sheriff’s posse armed with tear gas and clubs.

The photo at the top of the page is from NPR’s Code Switch blog: Photographer Helped Expose Brutality Of Selma’s ‘Bloody Sunday’. You can also listen to a brief report at that link. From the transcript:

This month Selma, Ala., will mark the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” That’s the day police beat demonstrators attempting to march to Montgomery in support of voting rights. Some of the most iconic images of that day were captured by a white photographer — the late Spider Martin.

Spider Martin’s real introduction to the civil rights movement came on a late night at home in February 1965. He was 25, a photographer for The Birmingham News. He explains in a video from 1987 that he got the call because he was the youngest staff member and no one else wanted to go. That assignment would lead to his most famous work.

“About midnight I get this phone call from the chief photographer and he says ‘Spider, we need to get you to go down to Marion, Ala.’ Says there’s been a church burned and there’d been a black man who was protesting killed. He was shot with a shotgun. His name was Jimmie Lee Jackson.” ….

Jackson’s killing helped spur the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights marches a few weeks later. Martin was in Selma for Bloody Sunday when state troopers attacked protesters. Holding a camera made him just as much a target. He recounted in an interview with Alabama Public Television, what happened when a police officer saw him.

“He walks over to me and, blow! Hits me right here in the back of the head,” he said. “I still got a dent in my head and I still have nerve damage there. I go down on my knees and I’m like seeing stars and there’s tear gas everywhere. And then he grabs me by the shirt and he looks straight in my eyes and he just dropped me and said, ‘scuse me. Thought you was a nigger.'”

Martin kept covering the marchers until they reached Montgomery two-and-a-half weeks later.

See more of Martin’s photographs of the Selma march at the NPR link and at ArtsRevive.com.

The New York Daily News has a wonderful gallery of photos of the events leading up to the Selma to Montgomery march, which began on March 21, and concluded on March 25, 1965. Here are two of the photos. Please click on the link to see more.

 

Feb. 7, 1965, African Americans stand in line to attempt to register to take a literacy test in order to register to vote in Selma, AL

Feb. 7, 1965, African Americans stand in line to attempt to register to take a literacy test in order to register to vote in Selma, AL

 

March 1, 1965, Registrar Carl Golson shakes finger in MLK's face saying that voter registration in Lowndes Cty is none of his business.

March 1, 1965, Registrar Carl Golson shakes finger in MLK’s face saying that voter registration in Lowndes Cty is none of his business.

 

At The Nation, The Almanac column has reprinted an article by George B. Leonard published 50 years ago on March 10: Midnight Plane to Alabama.

Fifty years ago today, Alabama State Troopers attacked voting-rights demonstrators on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Events moved quickly after that, with President Lyndon Johnson delivering his “We Shall Overcome” address before Congress and calling for a voting-rights bill just over a week later. But in early May, The Nation circled back to that moment on the bridge, with an essay by the California writer George B. Leonard, who watched footage of the assault at home. Shocked and appalled by what he saw, Leonard (originally from the South) took a plane to Selma to be there for whatever would happen next.His essay, “Midnight Plane to Alabama,” appeared in The Nation of May 10, 1965.

The pictures were not particularly good. With the cameras rather far removed from the action and the skies partly overcast everything that happened took on the quality of an old newsreel. Yet this very quality, vague and half-silhouetted, gave the scene the vehemence and immediacy of a dream. The TV screen showed a column of Negroes striding along a highway. A force of Alabama state troopers blocked their way. As the Negroes drew to a halt, a toneless voice drawled an order from a loudspeaker. In the interests of “public safety” the marchers were being told to turn back. A few moments passed, measured out in silence, as some of the troopers covered their faces with gas masks. There was a lurching movement on the left side of the screen, a heavy phalanx of troopers charged straight into the column, bowling the marchers over. A shrill cry of terror, unlike any sound that had passed through a TV set, rose up as the troopers lumbered forward, stumbling sometimes on the fallen bodies. The scene cut to charging horses, their hoofs flashing over the fallen. Another quick cut, a cloud of tear gas billowed over the highway. Periodically the top of a helmeted head emerged from the cloud, followed by a club on the upswing. The club and the head would disappear into the cloud of gas and another club would bob up and down. Unhuman. No other word can describe the motions. The picture shifted quickly to a Negro church. The bleeding, broken and unconscious passed across the screen, some of them limping alone, others supported on either side, still others carried in arms or on stretchers. It was at this point that my wife, sobbing, turned and walked away, saying, “I can’t look any more.”

Alabama state troopers attack protesters in Selma, March 7, 1965

Alabama state troopers attack protesters in Selma, March 7, 1965

 

How far have we come in 50 years?

Just this week, the Department of Justice released a report that enumerates shocking civil rights violations by police and city officials in Ferguson, Missouri. Following the killing of black teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, there were demonstrations during which Ferguson and St. Louis police and Missouri state troopers used military war surplus equipment and blatantly unconstitutional policies in their efforts to shut down the protests.

Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Riot police stand guard as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 13, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

In the past year, we’ve seen incident after incident of black men and boys being shot and killed by police around the country.

America’s prisons are used as weapons in a virtual race war. African Americans are “incarcerated at U.S. prisons are at nearly six times the rate of whites.” and they are much more likely to be receive the death penalty.

Most concerning of all, the conservatives on the Supreme Court succeeded in greatly weakening the Voting Rights Act by invalidating the most important part of the law, which required nine states to get federal approval before they made any changes in voting laws. Following that decision, Republican states rushed to impose limits on voting that unfairly targeted minorities.

From NBC News:  50 Years Past Selma, Historic Town Makes Slow March Toward Change.

When thousands gather this weekend in Selma, Alabama, to mark the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” some will likely conclude that the town that changed America has not seemed to make much progress of its own.

The majority of registered voters in Selma are now black — along with most of the city, whites having fled in the decades since their African-American neighbors gained access to the ballot box. More than half the businesses in Selma are black-owned.

But Selma is a poor city in one of the poorest states in the country. The typical resident earns about half the state’s median income of $43,000, and over 40 percent of its citizens live below the poverty line, more than twice the state average. According to the most recent data, 10 percent of Selma residents are unemployed — one of the highest rates in Alabama — compared to six percent statewide….

“The people who received less benefit from the movement are the ones who did the most,” said Andrew Young, a lieutenant of Martin Luther King Jr.’s who was among those marching on March 4, 1965. “That’s always bothered me.”

“The farmers who let us stay in their homes, who bonded us out of jail, are old guys now. They still own land but they can’t make a living on the land.”

Ferguson, MO, August 13, 2014. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Ferguson, MO, August 13, 2014. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

From Mother Jones, 50 Years Ago Today, “Bloody Sunday” Catalyzed The Civil Rights Movement. Are We Backsliding? Please go read the article–there are more great photos. Here’s the final paragraph:

“It is perversely ironic to commemorate the past without demonstrating the courage of that past in the present,” NAACP president Cornell Brooks told The Atlantic‘s Russell Berman last week. “In other words we can’t really give gold medals to those who marched from Selma to Montgomery without giving a committee vote to the legislation that protects the right to vote today.”

One more relevant piece from Alternet dated December 15, 2014, How Runaway Economic Inequality and Racism Are Linked to Police Killings. A brief excerpt:

Why are white cops shooting unarmed black men?

On one level the story is simple: racism. Too many police officers fear people of color in the neighborhoods they patrol, and are likely to over-react with force during encounters. The local courts also engage in discrimination by failing to indict the killers, even when captured on video, as in the brutal police slaying of Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY. Both the policing and the court system obviously reflect the polarization of our communities, and our inability to escape the legacy of slavery, more than 150 years after emancipation.

But racism only accounts for part of the story. We also must understand how judicial racism and even police violence are deeply connected to the financialization of the economy and runaway inequality.

It is not by accident that America has become both the most unequal developed nation in the world, and the nation with the largest prison population. We’re number one in police killings, incarceration and inequality—not Russia, not China. Our national self-image so steeped in the idea of freedom has not caught up with these ugly realities.

Racism is has been with us for centuries, but something very new happened in America around 1980 that set the stage for these police killings. Something very big is transforming us into the first democratic police state in human history.

“Around 1980…” What happened in 1980? Ronald Reagan was elected. It was the beginning of the Republican “revolution” against freedom, modernity and an inclusive America.

Ronald Reagan kicks off his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Ronald Reagan kicks off his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Do you recall where Reagan chose to begin his campaign for the presidency? Here’s a column by the late William Rasberry, published on the occasion of Reagan’s death, Reagan’s Race Legacy.

I might have let this period of national mourning pass without a sour note. But I was in Mississippi when I heard the news of his death, and it came just one day after a white Mississippi newspaper editor proudly handed me a copy of the Philadelphia, Miss., paper, the Neshoba Democrat.

Philadelphia, county seat of Mississippi’s Neshoba County, is famous for a couple of things. That is where three civil rights workers — Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman — were murdered in 1964. And that is where, in 1980, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan chose to launch his election campaign, with a ringing endorsement of “states’ rights.”

It was bitter symbolism for black Americans (though surely not just for black Americans). Countless observers have noted that Reagan took the Republican Party from virtual irrelevance to the ascendancy it now enjoys. The essence of that transformation, we shouldn’t forget, is the party’s successful wooing of the race-exploiting Southern Democrats formerly known as Dixiecrats. And Reagan’s Philadelphia appearance was an important bouquet in that courtship.

I don’t accuse Reagan of racism, though while he served, I did note what seemed to be his indifference to the concerns of black Americans — issues ranging from civil rights enforcement and attacks on “welfare queens” to his refusal to act seriously against the apartheid regime in South Africa. He gets full credit from me for the good things he did — including presiding over the end of international communism. But he also legitimized, by his broad wink at it, racial indifference — and worse….in some ways, including racially, he left us a more divided nation, in part by making division seem legitimate.

That’s the legacy of Philadelphia.

Even Reagan probably would be amazed by what the Republican Party has become today, but he certainly enabled it.

You can watch coverage of today’s events in Selma on C-Span. President Obama and Representative John Lewis will appear at around 2:30PM.

From Reuters: Obama to make call to action in Selma anniversary visit.

U.S. President Barack Obama will call on Americans to carry forward the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement on Saturday during a visit to Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a march that sparked the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Obama, the first black U.S. president, will deliver remarks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where police and state troopers beat and used tear gas against peaceful marchers who were advocating against racial discrimination at the voting booth….

“Selma is not just about commemorating the past. It’s about honoring the legends who helped change this country through your actions today, in the here and now,” he told a town hall-style meeting.

“Selma is now. Selma is about the courage of ordinary people doing extraordinary things because they believe they can change the country, that they can shape our nation’s destiny. Selma is about each of us asking ourselves what we can do to make America better.” ….

Obama condemned the Missouri city of Ferguson on Friday for “oppressive and abusive” actions against black residents that were revealed in a U.S. Justice Department report accusing police and court officials of racial bias.

We have a very long way to go.

This is an open thread. Please share your thoughts on this post and other stories you’re following in the comment thread and have a terrific weekend.


Tuesday Reads: Netanyahu Speech, Hillary-Hate, and Nonsensical SCOTUS Case that could Hurt 8 Million Americans

coffee-break2

Good Afternoon!!

I wanted to touch on a couple of issues this afternoon: the latest Hillary Clinton “scandal,” and the upcoming Supreme Court case that could doom Obamacare once and for all.

But before I get to those stories, I want to share this good article by James Fallows on the possible motivations behind Netanyahu’s speech to Congress this morning.

The Mystery of the Netanyahu Disaster, and a Possible Explanation.

Fallows enumerates the possible motivations for the Netanyahu slap in the face to President Obama:

“Was it simple tin ear on his side, and Ambassador Ron Dermer’s?” Fallows asks? That’s not likely according to Fallows, because Netanyahu is far too sophisticated and knowledgeable about U.S. politics. Fallows also discounts the theory that it was only about “election-year politicking” in Israel. Perhaps that’s part of it. Is it because Netanyahu has so often been right in his previous predictions?

Hardly. I can’t believe that he’s fooled even himself into thinking that his egging-on of war with Iraq looks good in retrospect. And for nearly two decades Netanyahu has been arguing that Iran was on the verge of developing nuclear weapons. When you’re proven right, you trumpet that fact—and when you’re proven wrong, you usually have the sense to change the topic. Usually.

Was it because Netanyahu “has a better plan?”

No. His alternative plan for Iran is like the Republican critics’ alternative to the Obama healthcare or immigration policies. That is: It’s not a plan, it’s dislike of what Obama is doing. And if the current negotiations break down, Iran could move more quickly toward nuclear capacity than it is doing now—barring the fantasy of a preemptive military strike by Israel or the U.S.

Fallows also doesn’t buy the argument that Netanyahu actually believes that Iran “faces an “existential threat” if Iran develops a nuclear weapon?

Let me explain. No person, nation, or community can define what some other person (etc) “should” consider threatening….But from the U.S. perspective I can say that the “existential” concept rests on two utterly unsupportable premises. One is that Iran is fundamentally like Nazi Germany, and the world situation of 2015 is fundamentally like that of 1938. Emotionally you can say “never forget!” Rationally these situations have nothing in common—apart from the anti-Semitic rhetoric. (To begin with: Nazi Germany had a world-beating military and unarmed Jewish minorities within its immediate control. Iran is far away and militarily no match for Israel.) The other premise is that Iran’s leaders are literally suicidal. That is, they care more about destroying Israel than they care about their country’s survival. Remember, Israel has bombs of its own with which to retaliate, so that any attack on Israel would ensure countless more Iranian deaths.

BNT-206-2

What then? Fallows refers to an article at The National Interest by Paul Pillar.

Pillar’s assessment is that the ramped-up “existential” rhetoric is a screen for the real issue, which is a flat contradiction between long-term U.S. and Israeli national interests as regards Iran. It is in American interests (as I have argued) to find some way to end Iran’s excluded status and re-integrate it with the world, as happened with China in the 1970s. And it is in Israel’s interests, at least as defined by Netanyahu for regional-power reasons, that this not occur. As Pillar writes:

The prime objective that Netanyahu is pursuing, and that is quite consistent with his lobbying and other behavior, is not the prevention of an Iranian nuclear weapon but instead the prevention of any agreement with Iran. It is not the specific terms of an agreement that are most important to him, but instead whether there is to be any agreement at all. Netanyahu’s defense minister recently made the nature of the objective explicit when he denounced in advance “every deal” that could be made between the West and Tehran. As accompaniments to an absence of any agreements between the West and Iran, the Israeli government’s objective includes permanent pariah status for Iran and in particular an absence of any business being done, on any subject, between Washington and Tehran.

That is, as long as Netanyahu keeps the attention on nukes and “existential” threats, he’s talking about an area where the U.S. and Israel might differ on tactics but agree on ultimate goals. Inflammatory as that topic is, it’s safer than talking about re-integrating Iran as a legitimate power, where U.S. and Israeli interests may ultimately differ.

I thought that was pretty good food for thought.

Before I get to the Clinton e-mails issue, here’s an interesting piece at the Washington Post on Hillary’s relationship with Netanyahu.

The phone call between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lasted 45 minutes. For 43 of them, she talked and he listened.

The U.S. secretary of state lectured the Israeli leader, accusing him of trying to do an end run around American opposition to settlement-building and embarrassing Vice President Biden during a visit to Israel, according to interviews with people present during the 2010 call or who were briefed on it afterward. She read from a script for part of the lecture, so as not to miss any key points.

“The word ‘humiliation’ appeared very prominently,” recalled Michael Oren, then the Israeli ambassador in Washington. “As in ‘You have humiliated the United States of America.’ ”

There probably aren’t many times in Netanyahu’s professional life when he has listened to anyone for 43 minutes. Netanyahu prefers to do the lecturing….And there aren’t many people who could make Netanyahu sit still for a tongue-lashing. Clinton is one of them.

Starry-Night-Mocha-Latte-Coffee-House-Series-Sold

The story of the phone call comes from Clinton’s book on her time as Secretary of State, Hard Choices. Read more about it at the link. It would seem that experiences like this would stand Clinton and the U.S. in good stead if she ends up in the White House.

On the latest “scandal” about Hillary using a private e-mail as Secretary of State, I’m not sure what to think. It certainly does give ammunition to Republicans and to potential Democratic opponents like Martin O’Malley.

Here’s the NYT Story that started the fuss: Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email Account at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules. You’ll need to read it at the link, because the Times has fixed their website so that I, at least, can’t copy and paste any excerpts. Here are some reactions to the story. First, the debunkers:

From USA Today, Clinton aide: State Department e-mails preserved.

A spokesman for Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that while she used a personal e-mail account during her years as secretary of State, those records have been maintained pursuant to federal rules.

“Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use non-government email, as long as appropriate records were preserved,” said Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill. “As a result of State’s request for our help to make sure they in fact were, that is what happened here.”

Merrill responded to a New York Times story saying that Clinton, a prospective presidential candidate in 2016, used a personal e-mail account during her four years at the State Department and “may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.”

The Times reported that Clinton’s “expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.”

From Media Matters, The New York Times‘ Deceptive Suggestion That Hillary Clinton May Have Violated Federal Records Law: It Was Only After Clinton Left The State Department That The Law Concerning Private Emails Was Changed.

Yes, the president signed the new law two years after Clinton left the State Department. The NYT wants to punish her retroactively. Not surprising, considering the Times’ longstanding hatred for and sliming of the the Clintons. Please go read the whole Media Matters post. It won’t stop the Clinton haters from using this, but it’s the truth. Arm yourself.

Coffee, Leon Zernitzky

Coffee, Leon Zernitzky

Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter: That Story About Hillary Clinton’s Private Email Account Isn’t as Awful as It Seems.

Again, please go read the whole thing, and prepare yourself for the coming onslaught. This is only the beginning.

A few more links to folks who either don’t know or don’t care about the time of the law and the fact that Clinton preseved all her emails.

A fairly Hillary-friendly post from Charles Pierce, Hillary Finds A Rake To Step On: The First Clinton Bombshell.

LA Times, Hillary Clinton used personal email while serving as secretary of state.

Mashable, Clinton email revelation: You did what, Hillary?

Incidentally, I was shocked to see this from Joseph Cannon:

Hillary’s secret email account. Let’s be honest: If a Republican did this, we’d be worried. Actually, Republicans have done exactly that.

The most important point here is sub-textual: If the NYT has turned against Hillary Clinton, then we should suspect that she has privately revealed to her closest aides that, if elected, she will do things that she cannot now state out loud. Of course, nothing is truly private these days.

“If the times as turned against Hillary Clinton”??!!! Joseph, why aren’t you aware that the NYT –brave champion of Dubya’s Iraq war–has always loathed the Clintons and has published innumerable attacks on them?

Finally a few links to prepare you for tomorrow’s SCOTUS hearing on King v. Burwell, during which the justices will consider whether to throw about 8 million Americans off their health care plans.

Charles Pierce, The Tell: What This Week’s Attack On Obamacare Is Really About.

…the Nine Wise Souls on Tuesday will hear King v. Burwell, the highly imaginative, if constitutionally laughable, attack on the grammar and punctuation in the Affordable Care Act, which the NWS should have laughed off months ago….

It is the Universal String Theory Of Wingnut Conjuring Words in full view, the complete text of one of the spells. A fake scandal being used to excuse the shabby underpinning of a fake lawsuit that will have real and devastating consequences to thousands of people.

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That’s it in a nutshell. But here are more links to check out for more details.

Slate: Exchanges No One Can Use? We rely on courts to interpret laws impartially. When it comes to Obamacare, they don’t always oblige.

Politico: No easy fix if Supreme Court halts Obamacare cash. (No sh$t Sherlock.)

Republicans are getting nervous about what will happen if they get their wish. From The Hill: GOP fears grow over ObamaCare challenge.

Ezra Klein at Vox: Republicans say they have a plan if the Supreme Court rules against Obamacare. They don’t.

Stephen Brill at Reuters: The Supreme Court hears an Obamacare fairytale.

US News (not known for liberal views): The Silliest Obamacare Challenge Yet. The King v. Burwell case could cause 8 million to lose health insurance.

SCOTUS should never have agreed to hear this case, but they did. Is John Roberts okay with going down in history as a buffoon? We’ll find out in June.

Please share your views along with the stories you’re following today in the comment thread.

 


Live Blog: Netanyahu Speech to Congress

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This morning at 10:45, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress. You can watch it on C-Span. I might try watching for awhile to see what kind of reaction he gets.

I plan to put up another post a little later. There’s another far more significant event happening tomorrow. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in King vs. Burwell, a lawsuit based on a ludicrous misreading of the ACA law. It will be up to John Roberts to decide if he wants to throw 8,000,000 people off their health care plans, and that’s exactly what Republicans are hoping for.

The other “issues” in the news are a tempest in a teapot over Hillary Clinton using private e-mail when she was Secretary of State and another fuss over when the State Department properly vetted contributions to Bill Clinton’s foundation. If we want Hillary to run for president, we are going to have to get used to this garbage.

For now, here are some quick links on the Netnyahu speech and the negotiations with Iran.

CNN: White House warns Netanyahu not to reveal Iran details.

The Obama administration is bracing for Benjamin Netanyahu to spill secret details of Iran nuclear talks, as both camps traded last-minute political jabs ahead of the Israeli prime minister’s controversial address to Congress Tuesday.

The White House is uncertain what precise details may come out but aides spent Monday frantically mobilizing after Israeli officials said that the prime minister planned to disclose sensitive details of an agreement taking shape in talks between six world powers and Iran, which has entered a delicate final stage.

Concern and anger among American officials about the nature of what Netanyahu might expose heightened already roiling tensions between the two countries. Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned about the damage such revelations might have on the negotiations and President Barack Obama himself attacked Netanyahu’s judgment.

Netanyahu is expected to use the details to bolster his argument before Congress that the deal under discussion will not prevent Iran from getting a bomb and could therefore threaten the Jewish state’s existence.

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From the AP via Syracuse.com: Kerry working on Iran nuke deal, Netanyahu to criticize in speech to Congress.

As Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and their teams sought to hammer out an agreement at a luxury hotel in the Swiss resort of Montreux, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to make his case against one 4,090 miles away in Washington.

The U.S. and Iranian sides met for two hours on Tuesday morning before taking a break, according to U.S. officials. The officials said they expected the talks would resume later and likely continue through Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress, which will be delivered in the late afternoon local time in Montreux.

“We’re working away, productively,” Kerry told reporters.

“We are moving and we are talking to be able to make progress,” said Zarif. “There are issues and we want to address them. But there is a seriousness that we need to move forward. As we have said all along we need the necessary political will to understand that the only way to move forward is to negotiate.”

However, in a sign that Netanyahu’s speech is resonating outside Washington, Zarif decried comments that President Barack Obama made on Monday — as part of an administration-wide effort to push back on the Israeli’s criticism — in which he said that Iran would have to suspend its nuclear activities for at least a decade as part of any final agreement.

“It is clear that Obama’s stance is aimed at confronting propaganda by Zionist regime’s prime minister and other extremist opponents of the negotiations,” Zarif told Iranian reporters, calling it “unacceptable and threatening.” Zarif’s remarks were carried by Iran’s official news agency IRNA.

This speech that John Boehner and Netanyahu cooked up is causing all kinds of mischief.

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According to John Ferziger at Bloomberg Politics, Netanyahu Risks Diplomatic, Political Pain If Speech Is Flat.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes to Congress on Tuesday gambling that disclosing compromises the U.S. made in trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran will delay or derail any agreement.

Netanyahu, a former Israeli army commando, has further damaged his frayed relationship with the White House by ignoring administration warnings and trying to undermine President Barack Obama’s effort to resurrect ties with the Islamic Republic. If his speech to a joint meeting of the House and Senate proves unpersuasive, Israelis may vote him out of office.

The Israeli leader, running for his fourth term in a March 17 election, will seek to “reinforce doubts that people have” and raise congressional pressure to better answer “the legitimate questions that are out there,” said Dennis Ross, a former special adviser to Obama on Iran and the Middle East.

However, said Yoram Meital, a political scientist at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel: “If he doesn’t reveal something significant or provides little hard evidence for his claims, it could affect the vote. Israelis are, by and large, afraid of Iran’s nuclear program, but they are ready to punish Netanyahu if he doesn’t deliver in this speech.”

Netanyahu will reveal details of the agreement being negotiated with Iran against a late March deadline by the U.S. and five other world powers that will show why he’s afraid it could lead to Israel’s nuclear annihilation, an official who asked not to be named because of the trip’s diplomatic sensitivity told reporters aboard the prime minister’s flight to the U.S.

Isn’t that just ducky? Boehner’s decision to invite a foreign leader to speak to Congress without informing the White House is unprecedented in U.S. history. The next time Republicans control the White House, Democrats could now feel invite a foreign leader to speak against that president’s policies. It’s a terrible precedent.

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Two days ago Diane Feinstein called Netanyahu “arrogant” and added that “he doesn’t speak for her.” CNN reported:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “arrogant” for asserting that he speaks for all Jews — and that he doesn’t speak for her.

The California Democrat’s comments to CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday’s “State of the Union” come days ahead of Netanyahu’s high-profile speech to Congress, in which he’s set to lobby against a deal to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“My responsibility is to worry not only about the state of Israel, but also the future of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said Saturday in Jerusalem. “And for that reason, we are strongly opposed to the agreement being formulated between the world powers and Iran that could endanger Israel’s very existence.”

Feinstein said she’ll attend Netanyahu’s speech — which President Barack Obama’s administration has heavily criticized. But she wasn’t happy with those comments.

“He doesn’t speak for me on this,” she said. “I think it’s a rather arrogant statement. I think the Jewish community is like any other community. There are different points of view. I think that arrogance does not befit Israel, candidly.”

From the Boston Herald: U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern blasts Netanyahu for ‘disrespectful’ speech.

Congressman Jim McGovern, one of a growing number of Democrats refusing to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech before Congress tomorrow, ripped the foreign leader for turning Capitol Hill into a campaign “rally” point just weeks before his own county’s election.

“Joint sessions of Congress are not supposed to be political speeches … This is not a place for a foreign leader to do a re-election rally,” the Democrat said today in an interview on Boston Herald Radio’s “Morning Meeting” with hosts Hillary Chabot and Jaclyn Cashman.

“With joint session so close to his own reelection campaign and before we have reached a (nuclear) deal with negotiators with Iran, I think it’s disrespectful to our president, I think it’s disrespectful to our foreign policy leaders who are trying … to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” he added. “I don’t feel like I want to be a prop in a campaign ad for Prime Minster Netanyahu.”

McGovern, who called the speech’s timing “unprecedented” given the March 17 vote in Israel, also echoed Democratic slams of Speaker John Boehner, who has been criticized, including by the White House, for inviting Netanyahu to speak to the joint session of Congress without consulting the president.

The Worcester Democrat said Netanyahu should have sought a different avenue to speak with members of Congress, noting attempts by some Senate Democrats to arrange a separate meeting with him.

Fellow Bay State Congresswoman Katherine Clark has said she also plans to skip the speech, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren last month called on officials to postpone it, saying she sides with the Anti-Defamation League’s stance on the address.

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From Slate’s Joshua Keating: What Does it Mean for the Leader of a Foreign Country to Be a Republican?

In his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected charges that he is injecting partisanship into the U.S.-Israel relationship. “The last thing anyone who cares about Israel, the last thing that I would want, is for Israel to become a partisan issue, and I regret that some people have misperceived my visit here this week as doing that,” he said. “Israel has always been a bipartisan issue. Israel should always remain a bipartisan issue.”

It’s a little late for that, Bibi. Tuesday, Netanyahu is giving what was billed from the moment it was announced as a rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Much of the controversy surrounding the visit has been over the perceived mutual snubbing and sniping between Netanyahu’s office and the White House and what it says about the relationship between the two leaders. (Nothing good.) But the bigger story is Netanyahu firmly aligning himself in the camp of one of America’s political parties to the exclusion of the other one—a strategy that could, in the long term, be extremely detrimental to Israel’s interests.

Given the “very real difference” between Obama and Netanyahu over Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli leader’s decision to accept John Boehner’s invitation to address Congress made some tactical sense. Netanyahu believes Obama is on the verge of making a historically dangerous deal with Iran and doesn’t see any prospect for changing his mind. Given that his officials say he’s “written off” Obama and doesn’t see any chance of changing his mind, why not reach out to Congress, the “last brake” to stop the deal, diplomatic niceties be damned?

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But even if he’s not particularly interested in what the White House thinks of him at this point, what’s harder to understand is the cold shoulder Netanyahu has given congressional Democrats, some of whom have been willing in the past to push back against the White House on the Iran issue. The most striking moment in this whole mess was not so much Netanyahu accepting Boehner’s invitation, though that could certainly have been handled more deftly. It was when Netanyahu declined a closed-door meeting with congressional Democrats. This would seem to have been a welcome opportunity for some fence-mending given that a number of prominent members of Congress, including the most senior senator, Patrick Leahy, and a number of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are skipping his speech over the perceived insult to Obama. Instead, Netanyahu dug in deeper, making the long-standing joke about Netanyahu being the “Republican senator” from Israel seeming not really like a joke anymore.

It’s certainly troubling. What kind of precedent is this going to set? What do you think? If you’re planning to watch the speech, I hope you’ll post comments about it with me below. And please check back later for a regular Tuesday post.