Thursday Reads: Villagers Turn On Obama, Texas Tornadoes, West TX Investigations, and Boston Bombing NewsPosted: May 16, 2013
It’s beginning to look like Obama’s second term is pretty much over before it begins. We’re facing years of Republican scandalmongering and “investigations” of a president who won’t fight back or even fight for his own favored legislation or judicial and government appointments.
What is Obama actually doing every day? Does he spend the time he isn’t fund-raising or doing meaningless public appearances deciding which “extremist” to drone strike next? Because he certainly doesn’t seem to be governing.
Maybe I’m wrong. Who knows. All I know is that the Villagers are finished with him. We got the news yesterday from Politico’s top gossip mavens Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen in one of their trademark “Behind the Curtain” posts: D.C. turns on Obama.
The town is turning on President Obama — and this is very bad news for this White House.
Republicans have waited five years for the moment to put the screws to Obama — and they have one-third of all congressional committees on the case now. Establishment Democrats, never big fans of this president to begin with, are starting to speak out. And reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration.
Buy-in from all three D.C. stakeholders is an essential ingredient for a good old-fashioned Washington pile-on — so get ready for bad stories and public scolding to pile up.
Really? if powerful Democrats weren’t “big fans” of Obama, why did they work their asses off to hand him the nomination in 2008 when they could just as easily have chosen Hillary Clinton?
Of course the “establishment Democrats” that Vandehei and Allen choose to quote in their piece are hardly current insiders, as Charles Pierce pointed out:
Not to minimize the inherent political savvy of Chris Lehane, one anonymous former Obama aide, one anonymous “longtime Washingtonian,” or Vernon Jordan — who, I admit, I’d thought had long gone off to peddle influence in the Beyond — but I think they’re pretty much camouflage here for the fiery tantrum summoned up by the authors.
(And, not for nothing, but “longtime Washingtonian” may well be the beau ideal of TBOTP sourcing. They should make it the company motto. And the two presiding geniuses are going to be shocked one morning when they look in the mirror and see Sally Quinn staring back at them.)
Nevertheless, the Villagers certainly pay more attention to Vandehei and Allen’s pontifications than Pierce’s. Here’s a little more of their venom:
Obama’s aloof mien and holier-than-thou rhetoric have left him with little reservoir of good will, even among Democrats. And the press, after years of being accused of being soft on Obama while being berated by West Wing aides on matters big and small, now has every incentive to be as ruthless as can be.
This White House’s instinctive petulance, arrogance and defensiveness have all worked to isolate Obama at a time when he most needs a support system. “It feel like they don’t know what they’re here to do,” a former senior Obama administration official said. “When there’s no narrative, stuff like this consumes you.”
Even Greg Sargent acknowledges that Politico probably speaks for the DC establishment, particularly the corporate media.
Good Late Afternoon!
Dakinikat is boarding a plane and heading home, take care Dak….we hope you have a safe and uneventful flight back to the Big Easy! (Damn, just got a text from Dak that the plane has issues…ugh.)
Connie/Ecocatwoman is back at home from the hospital, healing and doing fine….thank the Goddesses above.
NWLuna is celebrating some good health news….the Taa-Taas are fine! (I think we should be screaming it from the treetops…)
After a period of major life changes, Mona is back blogging with us on the Front Page and that little nugget of cheer makes me clap like a kid whose just been served a big Banana Split.
That is just a quick update on a few of the Sky Dancers, real life has given all of us a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs.
Have I left anyone out?
This is going to be a link dump round-up…
CNN is reporting that they have a Source: 2 ‘rogue’ workers behind IRS targeting of conservative groups
The Internal Revenue Service has identified two “rogue” employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office as being principally responsible for “overly aggressive” handling of requests by conservative groups for tax-exempt status, a congressional source told CNN.In a meeting on Capitol Hill, acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller described the employees as being “off the reservation,” according to the source. It was not clear precisely what the alleged behavior involved.
Business Insider points out The Attorney General’s Willful Ignorance Of The AP Phone Records Seizure Just Seems Ridiculous:Attorney General’s AP Phone Records
Under current law, the DOJ has the right to demand media phone records when the DOJ can’t obtain the desired information through other reasonable means. The DOJ even has the right to do this without telling the media organization in advance–if it thinks telling the media organization will threaten the integrity investigation.
If those two conditions were met in this case, the DOJ has nothing to worry about. But Americans certainly have every right to ask whether those two conditions were met. (And, then, to wonder whether giving the DOJ these rights is really in the country’s best interests).
But Attorney General Eric Holder is saying that those conditions were met.
That just seems ridiculous.
It’s not ridiculous that Eric Holder recused himself from the case. If he felt he needed to recuse himself, he should have recused himself.
What seems ridiculous is that he’s using his recusal as an excuse to say he knows nothing about the case.
Eric Holder runs the Justice Department. He can be recused from a case and yet still make inquiries about it to understand the decisions that were made in investigating it so he can explain these decisions to Congress.
Even if he’s not involved in a decision in his organization, that doesn’t stop him from being able to ask questions about it for the purpose of relaying this information to investigators.
Then there are the comparisons being made to Watergate: Obama’s Nixon moment
The Barack Obama administration finds itself under attack from both the left and the right this week as it struggles to deal with three major scandals: the news that the Department of Justice had staged an unprecedented raid on The Associated Press’ phone records; the revelation that the Internal Revenue Service has been targeting right-wing groups; and the ongoing fallout from the September attack in Benghazi, Libya.
It is the AP story that has most galvanized the media, threatening to disrupt the generally sympathetic coverage that the White House has enjoyed from large swaths of the press.
Everyone from CNN to Fox News took aim at the Justice Department for its wide-ranging subpoena of the AP’s phone records, thought to be an attempt to find the source of a leak regarding a foiled terrorism plot in Yemen on the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.
Attorney General Eric Holder is due today to face tough questions on issues like the AP phone records affair by the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee.
But the grilling is already well under way.
This next story is beyond ridiculous…I will just give you the first paragraph, it is all you need: Accused Ohio kidnapper, Ariel Castro, ready to deny all charges
Not to be intimidated by the task ahead, the legal team defending Ariel Castro, the Ohio man accused of incarcerating and abusing three young women in his home for the best part of a decade, has asserted that he is no kind of “monster”, he dotes on the daughter born to one of his captives, Amanda Berry, and that he intends to plead not guilty to all the charges against him.
I don’t want to end on something as horrible as this…so here is a cartoon. Something funny. H/T Boston Boomer, who is babysitting her nephews today…
Well, what are you reading this
I wonder if the Koch Brothers have a bet going on between them about their proposed deal to buy up some big circulation newspapers like the LA Times and Chicago Tribune.
I tried to find a clip of this little bit of dialogue, but no such luck:
Randolph Duke: Money isn’t everything, Mortimer.
Mortimer Duke: Oh, grow up.
Randolph Duke: Mother always said you were greedy.
Mortimer Duke: She meant it as a compliment.
There are grumblings behind the scenes, check it out:
Recently you’ve seen many petitions asking that the Koch brothers not be allowed to buy the Tribune Company’s newspapers. We understand why the Kochs breed this distrust. They are active political proponents of harsh right-wing positions. We’re also not certain that Tribune will listen to anything but money when the final decision is made.
What we do know is that great papers publish credible, trusted journalism online and on the printed page. Whoever comes to own these mastheads needs to understand that protecting newsrooms from ideological taint is no small thing. The future of American journalism depends on the ability to print truth, not opinion.
We call on Tribune to make a pledge that they’ll only sell to a buyer that will protect the objectivity of the news product by making a public commitment to doing so. The Newspaper Guild-CWA and the Communications Workers of America seek your support in this goal.
The Newspaper Guild
Communications Workers of America
AFL-CIO, CLC and IFJ
And then there is this…it is a long article, so please go read it in full…it is just to much to parse down into a few quotes. I will just give you this bit to chew on. Kathleen Miles: If Koch Brothers Buy LA Times, Half of Staff May Quit
So if the agenda at the Times changes, the agenda at the other LA news outlets will change — unless those news outlets are watching carefully. LA has to worry more about the stories that the Times stops covering than stories that are covered with a bias.
An example of how bias can take the form of lack of coverage is Fox News’ scant coverage of the national gun control debate. When President Barack Obama gave his moving speech chastising Congress for failing to pass background checks, Fox cut away to a panel discussion on the liberal media bias before the president had even finished his first sentence.
It seems the rationale is that the more silence there is on gun control, the greater the likelihood that status quo will continue. So the silence is what we have to listen for.
All LA journalists, including those at the Times, will need to research the friends and interests of the paper’s new owners and make sure they don’t get special treatment. If Times reporters hit a wall, will other LA journalists step up to report on those topics?
As I said, go read the entire article.
I kind of always felt the LA Times was right leaning anyway…but not the the extent of what it could be under a Koch ownership.
By the way, that cartoon up top is by David Horsey..cartoonist for the LA Times.
This is an open thread.
<——– Isn’t she beautiful?
Doesn’t she look happy and fancy free?
Enjoying a Sunday drive in a damn cool convertible on a fabulous sunny day.
Something that we all deserve, yes?
Well, that pin-up by artist Bill Medcalf is the closest thing I could get for you this morning.
Okay, here are a few news stories and then the cartoons, since we did not have any on Friday night.
The quake has left 203 dead or missing and has injured some 11,500.
The latest figures were given by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, quoted by Xinhua. It said 960 of the injured were in serious condition.
You read those figures right.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) says that he is prepared to make “all available resources” available from the federal government to assist in the recovery after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas — but the senator voted against aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy earlier because he said it was “pork.”
The Dallas Morning News reported on Thursday that Cruz had reacted to the fertilizer plant explosion that killed dozens in West, Texas earlier this week.
“We are in very close touch with officials on the ground and we’re monitoring the tragic accident closely,” Cruz said in Washington. “It’s truly horrific and we are working to ensure that all available resources are marshaled to deal with the horrific loss of life and suffering that we’ve seen.”
In a statement on his website, Cruz added that “[w]e remain in communication with Gov. Perry’s office and emergency management officials, and stand to offer whatever support we can.”
But following the super storm that devastated much of the East Coast last year, Cruz was not as willing to part with taxpayer money.
According to The New York Times, the junior Texas senator voted against Sandy aid three times.
I just won’t make a comment about this, but my guess is you know what I would say about it if I did.
Two more links for you…
Yesterday Boston Boomer put this Greenwald link in the comments, it is good and I think it deserves a front page notice: What rights should Dzhokhar Tsarnaev get and why does it matter?
First, the Obama administration has already rolled back Miranda rights for terrorism suspects captured on US soil. It did so two years ago with almost no controversy or even notice, including from many of those who so vocally condemned Graham’s Miranda tweets yesterday. In May, 2010, the New York Times’ Charlie Savage – under the headline “Holder Backs a Miranda Limit for Terror Suspects” – reported that “the Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights.” Instead of going to Congress, the Obama DOJ, in March 2011, simply adopted their own rules that vested themselves with this power, as reported back then by Salon’s Justin Elliott (“Obama rolls back Miranda rights”), the Wall Street Journal (“Rights Are Curtailed for Terror Suspects”), the New York Times (“Delayed Miranda Warning Ordered for Terror Suspects”), and myself (“Miranda is Obama’s latest victim”).
In a great analysis last night denouncing the DOJ’s decision to delay reading Tsarnaev his rights, Slate’s Emily Bazelon details exactly what roll-back of Miranda was achieved by Obama. Specifically, the Obama DOJ exploited and radically expanded the very narrow “public safety” exception to Miranda, which was first created in 1984 by the more conservative Supreme Court justices in New York v. Quarles, over the vehement dissent of its liberal members (Brennan, Marshall and Stevens, along with O’Connor). The Quarles court held that where police officers took a very brief period to ask focused questions necessary to stop an imminent threat to public safety without first Mirandizing the suspect, the answers under those circumstances would be admissible (in Quarles, the police apprehended a rape suspect and simply asked where his gun was before reading him his rights, and the court held that the defendant’s pre-Miranda answer – “over there” – was admissible).
The Court’s liberals, led by Justice Thurgood Marshall, warned that this exception would dilute Miranda and ensure abuse. This exception, wrote Marshall, “condemns the American judiciary to a new era of post hoc inquiry into the propriety of custodial interrogations” and “endorse[s] the introduction of coerced self-incriminating statements in criminal prosecutions”. Moreover, he wrote, the “public-safety exception destroys forever the clarity of Miranda for both law enforcement officers and members of the judiciary” and said the court’s decision “cannot mask what a serious loss the administration of justice has incurred”.
As Marshall noted, the police have always had the power to question a suspect about imminent threats without Mirandizing him; indeed, they are free to question suspects about anything without first reading them their Miranda rights. But pre-Miranda statements were not admissible, could not be used to prosecute the person. This new 1984 “public safety” exception to that long-standing rule, Marshall said, guts the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that one will not be compelled to incriminate oneself. As he put it: “were constitutional adjudication always conducted in such an ad hoc manner, the Bill of Rights would be a most unreliable protector of individual liberties.”
As controversial as this exception was from the start (and as hated as it was among traditional, actual liberals), it was at least narrowly confined. But the Obama DOJ in 2011 wildly expanded this exception for terrorism suspects. The Obama DOJ’s Memorandum (issued in secret, of course, but then leaked) cited what it called “the magnitude and complexity of the threat often posed by terrorist organizations” in order to claim “a significantly more extensive public safety interrogation without Miranda warnings than would be permissible in an ordinary criminal case”. It expressly went beyond the “public safety” exception established by the Supreme Court to arrogate unto itself the power to question suspects about other matters without reading them their rights (emphasis added):
“There may be exceptional cases in which, although all relevant public safety questions have been asked, agents nonetheless conclude that continued unwarned interrogation is necessary to collect valuable and timely intelligence not related to any immediate threat, and that the government’s interest in obtaining this intelligence outweighs the disadvantages of proceeding with unwarned interrogation.”
That is what Graham advocated regarding Miranda: that Tsarnaev be interrogated about intelligence matters without Mirandizing him, and that’s exactly what Obama DOJ policy – two years ago – already approved. Worse, as Bazelon noted: “Who gets to make this determination? The FBI, in consultation with DoJ, if possible. In other words, the police and the prosecutors, with no one to check their power.” At the time, the ACLU made clear how menacing was the Obama DOJ’s attempted roll-back of Miranda rights for terror suspects.
Although we do not yet know how long the Boston bombing suspect will be questioned pre-Miranda or what will be asked, Bazelon – citing the Obama DOJ’s 2011 policy as well as last night’s announcement – writes:
“And so the FBI will surely ask 19-year-old Tsarnaev anything it sees fit. Not just what law enforcement needs to know to prevent a terrorist threat and keep the public safe but anything else it deemed related to ‘valuable and timely intelligence’. Couldn’t that be just about anything about Tsarnaev’s life, or his family, given that his alleged accomplice was his older brother (killed in a shootout with police)? There won’t be a public uproar. Whatever the FBI learns will be secret: We won’t know how far the interrogation went. And besides, no one is crying over the rights of the young man who is accused of killing innocent people. . . .”
So Democrats reacted with horror and outrage to Graham’s suggestion that “the last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to ‘remain silent.’” But that’s already Obama DOJ policy, enacted with little controversy. And last night’s announcement makes clear that the Obama DOJ intends, as Bazelon says, to question him about a wide range of topics far beyond matters of imminent threats to public safety without first Mirandizing him.
Please go and read the rest of that article. Greenwald goes on to say that the liberals have changed their minds on this enemy combatants…he sites MSNBC as a major supporter of it now…I didn’t know that. Honestly, I have avoided the news this weekend…could not stand it any longer. I have not changed my mind, they need to be reading Tsarnaev his Miranda rights.
This whole thing about postponing Miranda, it bothers me. Juan Cole has a post up this morning that makes some valid points. Is LindJohn’s notion of an Enemy Combatant Racist? How about attempted Assassination of the Commander in Chief?
He is referring to Lady Lindsey and John McCain by the way, but look at this:
This attempt to sidestep the US Constitution by creating an alternative jurisdiction, and to try civilians in military courts, is a stride toward dictatorship. It is precisely the tactic used by Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, and the demand that the military stop arresting and trying civilians has been central to the country’s revolutionary reform movement.
Likewise, Bahrain has started trying civilians in military courts, as part of its authoritarian crackdown on its protest movement.
That exemplar of human rights, the Uganda regime, also resorts to this practice. So LindJohn want to put us in some pretty classy company.
That is some scary comparisons don’t you think? Cole continues…
Tsarnaev is an American citizen and a civilian who killed and injured people on American soil. He is a murderer, and should be tried in the courts like a whole host of others who committed or plotted murder as a means to terrorizing the public.
The point seems obvious to anyone to the left of Attila the Hun. Those who point to the Civil War are confusing ordinary times with times of martial law. We’re not having a civil war and there is no martial law.
Peter Bergen sagely writes that an “FBI study reported that between January 1, 2007, and October 31, 2009, white supremacists were involved in 53 acts of violence, 40 of which were assaults directed primarily at African-Americans, seven of which were murders and the rest of which were threats, arson and intimidation. Most of these were treated as racially motivated crimes rather than political acts of violence, i.e. terrorism.”
He points out that in December of 2011, Kevin Harpham was sentenced to 32 years for planting a bomb at the site of a Martin Luther King, Jr., parade in Spokane, Washington. There isn’t any difference between Harpham and Tsarnaev. Both targeted a public event involving moving through the streets. Harpham was allegedly a member of a hate group, the National Alliance, founded by William Price, the author of ?The Turner Diaries. He was also interested in the Aryan Nation..
Then there was Wade Michael Page, who killed six persons, five of them of Sikh heritage and one a policeman. His was certainly an act of terrorism.
I am not aware that Senators McCain and Graham suggested that any of these individuals be tried as enemy combatants.
I’ll just come out with it. I have to ask whether their use of the term “enemy combatant” is racist. Is it only for deployment against people not of northern European heritage?
I don’t know about if it would be fair to ask if this is racist…maybe it is. But it seems to me that this is definitely being used selectively. And that bothers the hell out of me.
You want to read something chilling, take a look at this…
Boston Boomer ended her post on Obama = Bush on Steroids about his change in Miranda Rights with this sentence:
We might as well be living in Libya or Egypt.
And here you have Juan Cole making the same kind of comparison two years later.
Dakinikat wrote this in her post about the withering Miranda Rights under Obama, again this is two years ago:
Just hope you never get classified as a terrorist or you’ll disappear down some rabbit hole.
Let it soak in a moment.
I bet Graham and McCain will be making the Sunday Talk Show rounds this morning, calling for Tsarnaev to be held down at Guantanamo.
Enough of that.
Oh did you all see the latest from CNN? According to Andy Borowitz:
In a sweeping format change that marks the end of an era for the nation’s first cable news outlet, CNN announced today that it would no longer air breaking news and would instead re-run news stories of the past “that we know we got right.”
The rebranded network, to début nationwide on Monday, will be called “CNN Classic.”
“Breaking news is hard,” said the newly installed CNN chief, Jeff Zucker. “You have to talk to sources, make sure their stories check out O.K., and then get on the air and not say anything stupid. I, for one, am thrilled to be getting out of that horrible business.”
CNN Classic will begin its broadcast day on Monday, Mr. Zucker said, “with round-the-clock coverage of Operation Desert Storm.”
Mr. Zucker did not indicate what impact the new format would have on such CNN stars as Wolf Blitzer, saying only, “I can’t promise that Wolf will be a part of CNN’s future, but he will continue to be a big part of our past.”
The CNN chief scoffed at reports that other cable news outlets had eclipsed his network once and for all, throwing down this gauntlet: “We are going to win May sweeps with Hurricane Katrina.”
I want to end this post with something spectacular:
Neil Diamond called the switchboard at Fenway Park at about 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon.
“Hey, I’m here,” he said, according to Red Sox officials. “Can I come?”
The 72-year-old, who had flown himself to Boston just for Saturday’s 1:10 p.m. game against the Royals, surprised the 35,152 in attendance after the top of the eighth inning and sung the song that’s made him synonymous with Fenway Park.
“Sweet Caroline” may have never sounded sweeter.
Video at the link.
Enjoy your Sunday, and share your thoughts with us today.
I don’t usually follow media gossip, but I’ve been seeing a lot of bashing of Matt Lauer out of the corner of my eye lately; so this is kind of interesting. It’s all over Twitter that NBC has offered Anderson Cooper Matt Lauer’s job on the Today Snow, and supposedly Lauer is OK with it. He’s been somewhat of a media punching bag since he drove Ann Curry off the Today Show.
Sources connected with NBC tell TMZ … network honchos approached Anderson Cooper about the possibility of replacing Matt Lauer on the “Today” show at some point … not immediately but at some point.
There is a story on Deadline.com that Matt made a call to Anderson to express his disapproval … TMZ has confirmed that is inaccurate and that call never happened.
In fact, sources connected with the network and Lauer tell TMZ that Lauer is actually on board with the idea of Anderson replacing him … and he actually planned to have a meeting with Anderson to sit down and discuss it.
Matt Lauer has been the subject of much scrutiny recently as reports of what really transpired in the Ann Curry ousting come to light and ratings continue to decline.
And it appears the brass at NBC are now looking to possibly replace Lauer.
Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva reports exclusively:
I hear NBC toppers recently reached out to CNN’s Anderson Cooper to replace Lauer on the show before the end of the year. After their initial approach to Cooper, I hear NBC reached out to Lauer to get his blessing about the changeover. But I heard they got pushback from the Today veteran, who contacted Cooper to express his disapproval. I also hear that call caught Cooper by surprise, as he had assumed Lauer had been brought on board before NBC began making overtures. Cooper has been one of the leading faces at CNN, though I hear his contract has an out, and he previously was able to do his syndicated daytime talk show in addition to his CNN program.
If (like me) you didn’t follow the recent gossip closely, Here’s some more detail on Lauer’s treatment of Ann Curry in a New York Magazine cover story. And here’s the gist, in case you don’t want to wade through the whole thing:
In his new cover story for New York magazine, Joe Hagan offers the most in-depth look at the Today show ratings disaster that has created Matt Lauer’s weeks-long attempt at image rehabilitation, and it’s now clear that the defining moment that brought the morning show crashing down to Earth — the exit of Ann Curry — was something of a cross between the fourth circle of Hell and running with the Heathers in high school: Curry got pranked, she got her clothes made fun of, she was prevented from reaching out to Robin Roberts, and her legacy lives on as a punching bag for NBC to defend the man who couldn’t share camera time with her anymore.
For the past several weeks, we’ve seen Lauer, Camp Lauer, and NBC executives trip over themselves trying to figure out how to talk to the media and spin the official history of Curry’s demise as a refresh for Today and especially Lauer. Talk to the Daily Beast‘s Howard Kurtz, and you can come away with a glossy, press release masquerading as an “exclusive.” Don’t talk to The New York Times‘s Brian Stelter, or you’ll find out Lauer is basically Voldemort in the halls of NBC.
Which brings us to New York‘s Hagan, who goes more than 6,500 words deep, with the official blessing of NBC… but also a blessed bit of honest analysis and reporting. On the surface, you can see Lauer and executives stick to the tracings of the NBC script so far — that Curry’s exit wasn’t his fault, that NBC executives made the decision, that Lauer was just caught in the crossfire. But Hagan’s piece digs into the deeper reality that Lauer in some respects failed at the basics of his job, and that those failures slid past executives who were so quick to lower the axe on Curry.
Read the highlights at the Business Insider link above.
The big question is who will replace Anderson Cooper? Who would want to work for CNN?
Please don’t feel you have to discuss this story–talk about anything you want. I just thought we needed a fresh thread.