It’s just one thing after another these days. I’m all stressed out again, because my mother broke her clavicle and I need to get out to Indiana ASAP. Unfortunately, I also have to go to the dentist this afternoon and then I have to figure out what to do about the jury duty I committed to in October, get the car checked out, and pack. On top of that my car is due for an inspection sticker at the end of October. I’ll have to try to figure out if I’ll be back here by then or whether I should get the inspection done early.
Anyway, I’m hanging in there, realizing that my problems are nothing compared to so many other people in this crazy world. So what’s happening out there this morning?
Donald Trump continues to dominate the media. The good news is if they’re focusing on him, they can’t beat up on Hillary Clinton at the same time–or can they?
Trump’s misogyny knows no end–yesterday he turned his attention to fellow GOP candidate Carly Fiorina. From Ken Walsh’s Washington at U.S. News:
Another day, another insult from Donald Trump – and still another feud in the making.
This time, the Republican presidential front-runner belittled former business executive and presidential competitor Carly Fiorina, who has been making gradual progress in the polls but still lags behind Trump in the GOP race.
Rolling Stone magazine reports that Trump was watching Fiorina recently on a television newscast, in the presence of Rolling Stone reporter Paul Solotaroff, when the billionaire real-estate developer said, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
Trump added: “I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”
Watching Trump run for president is like watching a 5-year-old boy act out with no restraints.
The Guardian reports on Fiorina’s response:
Fiorina, speaking on Fox News to Megyn Kelly – who has also been targeted by Trump – said she considered his remarks to be “very serious”.
She added: “Maybe, just maybe, I’m getting under his skin a little bit because I am climbing in the polls.”
Trump has forged a consistent lead in polling for the Republican candidacy, with former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Fiorina considerably further behind, polling in single figures.
Maybe. Or maybe Trump is just a gigantic asshole. He also attacked Ben Carson and tried without success to defend his comments about Fiorina. From The Washington Post:
Carson attacked Trump in unusually sharp terms yesterday, seeming to question his faith. On Thursday, Trump went after Carson’s energy level — and played down his medical accomplishments, saying he was only an “okay doctor” (Carson was the first neurosurgeon to separate conjoined twins attached at the head.)
“He makes [Jeb] Bush look like the Energizer bunny,” Trump said on CNN Thursday morning. “Who is he to question my faith? … When he questions my faith, and I’m a believer big-league in God, the Bible…I will hit back for that.”
“He was a doctor… perhaps an OK doctor,” he also said, adding that “Ben Carson will not be the next president of the United States.”
Trump’s comments, which are the most aggressive he has made about Carson, come less than a day after the retired surgeon pointed to his faith when asked what he believes to be the biggest difference between himself and Trump.
“The biggest thing is that I realize where my success has come from, and I don’t any way deny my faith in God,” Carson Wednesday night. “And I think that probably is a big difference between us.”
Can you imagine having a president who says things like “I’m a believer big-league in God?” Is this really happening? On Fiorina:
Trump defended his comments on Fox News Thursday morning, dismissing the notion that he was talking about Fiorina’s physical appearance.
“Probably I did say something lik that about Carly,” Trump said. “I’m talking about persona. I’m not talking about look.”
So criticizing a woman’s face is not about her appearance? Yeah, right. Not much of defense. But the media won’t hold Trump accountable no matter what he says.
Meanwhile traditional conservative pundits profess to be utterly mystified by Trump’s success in his “campaign” so far. Brian Beutler at The New Republic: Donald Trump’s Biggest Conservative Enemies Helped Create Him.
Donald Trump’s durable lead in Republican primary polls, and improving approval ratings, continue to befuddle people who ought to have better insight into the state of the conservative mind. Writing for National Review, Jonah Goldberg and Charles C.W. Cooke have each diagnosed Trumpism as a failing of the conservative voters who comprise Trump’s base.
Cooke believes that Trump “has succeeded in convincing conservatives to discard their principles,” begging the question of whether Trump’s supporters ever really shared the principles that animate conservative organizations and National Review writers. Goldberg insisted that “no movement that embraces Trump can call itself conservative,” which helped give rise to #NRORevolt, an online backlash, thick with white nationalists and other conservatives who are fed up with elites who try to write non-conformists—from moderates to protectionists to isolationists to outright racists—out of the movement.
The anti-tax group Club for Growth is a big part of that purification apparatus. It is currently organizing and raising money for an effort to excise Trump before his view that hedge fund managers should pay their fair share in taxes metastasizes through the Republican primary field.
Republican consultant Steve Schmidt, who presumably sympathizes withNational Review and Club for Growth, described their frustrations as the described their frustrations as the result of a fatal disjunction between mass conservatism and the ideology that’s supposed to underlie it. “We’re at this moment in time,” Schmidttold NPR recently, “when there’s a severability between conservatism and issues. Conservatism is now expressed as an emotional sentiment. That sentiment is contempt and anger.”
This explains Trump’s rise and persistence, but fails to account for how“contempt and anger” became such valuable currency in Republican politics today. That omission is predictable, because such an accounting would implicate nearly everyone who now claims to be astonished and dismayed by the Trump phenomenon.
Read the rest at TNR.
A couple of weeks ago, I made a resolution that I would read Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog and Peter Daou and Tom Watson’s #HillaryMen blog every day. I’ve been doing it, and the effort has been paying off in terms of maintaining my equilibrium in an insane media atmosphere.
Silver had a nice, level-headed post on Trump and Bernie Sanders yesterday: Stop Comparing Donald Trump And Bernie Sanders.
A lot of people are linking the candidacies of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump under headings like “populist” and “anti-establishment.” Most of these comparisons are too cute for their own good — not only because it’s too earlyto come to many conclusions about the campaign, but also because Trump and Sanders are fundamentally different breeds of candidates who are situated very differently in their respective nomination races.
You can call both “outsiders.” But if you’re a Democrat, Sanders is your eccentric uncle: He has his own quirks, but he’s part of the family. If you’re a Republican, Trump is as familial as the vacuum salesman knocking on your door.
Silver lists 7 differences between the two candidates–check them out at the link.
And from #HillaryMen, another sensible post: The Sad, Sisyphean Struggle of Hillary Haters.
Writing for Politico, Jack Shafer explains why he thinks “Being a Clinton apologist is a hard life.”
Which got us thinking: what must it be like to be a die-hard Hillary hater? Obsessing over one of the most accomplished and resilient public figures on the planet? How depressing and demoralizing is it to latch onto fabricated scandal after fabricated scandal, only to have every one fade away?
How frustrating is it to expend so much time and mental energy bashing, bashing, bashing, only to have Hillary come back stronger than ever?
And how awful is it to be on the wrong side of women’s history, to help reinforce the gender barrier that prevents women and girls from realizing their full potential?
We’re not talking about fair-minded critics and principled political opponents. They have every right to disagree with Hillary and to dislike her if they’re so inclined. We’re talking about haters, people who have a pathological need to savage Hillary. People who make an industry of their hate.
Think of the self-righteous rants on Morning Joe, the seething vitriol of Maureen Dowd, the feverish swamps of rightwing trolls. Think of the reporters and pundits who mindlessly repeat Rove-funded frames and narratives, hoping to taint Hillary’s public image, to sully her character. Think of the Republican and conservative operatives who have tried in vain for more than two decades to silence her.
Go over to #HillaryMen to read the rest.
As a bonus, here’s a nice column by Brent Budowsky at The Hill: Big truths about Hillary.
In olden days, great columnists such as Walter Lippmann and James “Scotty” Reston would periodically step back and put great events into perspective.
As America’s summer of political discontent and distemper ends, and as Americans shift from the fun of enjoying our favorite political performer to the mission of selecting our next president and as a pope of epochal significance prepares to address a joint session of a vastly unpopular Congress, let’s look at matters from a larger perspective.
It is revealing that while GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump gets a pass from many in the media for repeated comments that were verbally abusive toward women, the candidate who would be the first female president, Hillary Clinton, is treated like a pinata by pundits on television news — which, according to Gallup, is one of the least trusted institutions in America.
When Clinton stands with virtually all of America’s democratic allies by forcefully supporting a plan to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and stands with Pope Francis in support of treating refugees and immigrants humanely, she is acting like a stateswoman, commander in chief and humanitarian.
Meanwhile, the policies of GOP presidential candidates would leave Lady Liberty crying in New York Harbor as the pope arrives in America.
It is a big truth that Clinton would be the first female president, an achievement equal in historic magnitude to President Obama becoming our first black president.
If she is elected, moms and dads from Topeka to Tangiers will be telling their daughters that they too can achieve anything if they work hard and dream big.
By contrast, the Republican front-runner describes moms and daughters as fat pigs, dogs, slobs, disgusting animals and bimbos.
More big truths at the link. The piece is well worth reading.
A bit more news, links only:
The Daily Beast Exclusive: 50 Spies Say ISIS Intelligence Was Cooked.
National Geographic: This Face Changes the Human Story. But How?
What else is happening? Please Share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Thursday.
I can’t figure out if the corporate media wants to stop Hillary Clinton from running for president or if they desperately want her to run so they can figuratively flog her with a cat-o-nine-tails and then put her in stocks in front of the Capital building.
The story about Hillary using a private email domain when she was Secretary of State has reached the point of ridiculousness, but the media can’t help themselves–they are and yet the coverage continues to get more heated by the hour. The Hillary haters in the media see blood in the water and they’re circling in hopes of getting their teeth into her.
Sorry for the tortured metaphors, but seriously, what does the media want from this woman?
Check out this story from The Hill reporting on remarks by House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah. (Chaffetz and former Chairman Darrell Issa have been the leaders of the “investigations” of the Bengazi, IRS, and Fast and Furious non-scandals.)
Asked on “Fox and Friends” whether Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email address during her time as secretary of State raised national security concerns, Chaffetz said, “It does beg the question: Were there any sort of classified pieces of information that were flowing through her personal email account?”
“Which is something you can’t do and something yesterday Gen. Petraeus had to plead guilty to, or was going out in a deal, dealing with his personal email and interaction with somebody who didn’t have a classification,” Chaffetz added….
Petraeus reached a plea deal, the Justice Department announced Tuesday, over charges he failed to turn over for archiving small record books kept while commanding U.S. forces in Afghanistan, instead providing them and their classified information to his mistress, Paula Broadwell, who wrote a biography of the Army general.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday, “we have no indication that Secretary Clinton used her personal email account for anything but unclassified purposes,” adding that Clinton used secure phone calls, aides or took other steps to send sensitive messages and has turned over some emails for archiving.
But the Committee will investigate anyway, and yesterday, according to the WaPo, the “Select Committee on Benghazi”
subpoenaed all communications of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton related to Libya and to the State Department for other individuals who have information pertinent to the investigation,” according to a statement by committee spokesman Jamal Ware. “The Committee also has issued preservation letters to internet firms informing them of their legal obligation to protect all relevant documents.”
Back to The Hill article (emphasis added):
Earlier this week, Chaffetz said his committee would join the House Select Committee on Benghazi to further explore Clinton’s use of personal emails. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of that committee, said Clinton might have to testify several times before the panel, even into 2016.
Chaffetz himself lists a personal gmail address on his “official House card,” according to ABC News, but Chaffetz says that’s different. According to the Hill, when he was asked about the comparison between his use of email and Clinton’s, Chaffetz said, “Well that’s like comparing apples to a boat.”
Read more about the House efforts to bring Hillary down at Bloomberg Politics: House Oversight Committee to ‘Explore’ Clinton’s E-Mail Use, Chairman Says.
At New York Magazine, Frank Rich is deeply concerned.
Are Clinton’s email shenanigans a federal offense? Probably not. But we still don’t know the whole story, and it seems to be thickening by the minute — notably with a new report from the AP that she was protecting her email by cycling it through her own private email server out of Chappaqua. But the more important question is why the Clintons, who more than anyone in American politics understand the high risks of perceived improprieties, have left Hillary’s campaign so vulnerable even before it is officially out of the gate.
Why in God’s name did they change the name of the Clinton Foundation to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation? That gives Hillary full ownership of a stream of potential conflict-of-interest revelations that have been emerging ever since, notably in the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Politico: that the foundation solicited funds from at least 60 corporations that were lobbying the State Department during her tenure as Secretary of State; that the foundation quietly resumed soliciting donations from foreign governments once she left the State Department; that an Obama Administration ethics framework established to monitor potential conflicts of interest between Bill Clinton’s lucrative foreign speech engagements and State on Hillary’s watch was less-than-exacting.
And one imagines this is only the beginning. At the Post, a lead reporter on the Clinton story is Rosalind S. Helderman, whom some may recall was the dogged investigative journalist whose forensic journalism helped expose the pay-for-play scandal that brought down Bob McDonnell, the former Virginia Governor, and his wife Maureen.
You can check out Rich’s links for more background. Both the Post and the NYT are really pushing this story, but the Post seems even more worked up than the Times. Rich points out that Democrats really don’t have any legitimate alternatives to Clinton. Who are they going to run instead? Martin O’Malley? Jim Webb? Give me a break. And sorry, Emo-Progs,, Elizabeth Warren is not running.
At least one Joe Biden backer sees this new “scandal” as a golden opportunity, according to the Washington Post.
Dick Harpootlian, a former Democratic Party chairman in South Carolina, home to an early and important presidential primary, said recent reports about Clinton’s use of private e-mail to conduct government business and her family’s charitable foundation accepting donations from foreign governments while she was secretary of state could be damaging to her likely 2016 presidential campaign.
“There’s always another shoe to drop with Hillary,” Harpootlian said in an interview Wednesday. “Do we nominate her not knowing what’s in those e-mails?… If the e-mails were just her and her family and friends canoodling about fashion and what they’re going to do next week, that’s one thing. But the fact that she’s already turned e-mails to the Benghazi committee because she was doing official business on it means she’s going to die by 1,000 cuts on this one.”
Harpootlian — who has been an active and outspoken booster of a Biden 2016 candidacy — said the foundation donations and e-mail stories have sparked chatter among South Carolina politicos about drafting other candidates into the Democratic primary. Referencing Biden specifically, he said, “I’ll tell you this: He ain’t got no e-mail problems. He ain’t got no foundation problems. What you see with Joe is what you get. There’s nothing hidden there.”
Harpootlian added, “The chatter down here is, ‘Is this the best we can do?’ Certainly everyone wants to give a woman a chance to lead this country, but is [Clinton] the woman? There are plenty of other women who would be competitive, whether it’s Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar or Kirsten Gillibrand.”
Sorry, Dick, those women aren’t running and they wouldn’t be any more competitive than your pal Joe Biden–who has his own past scandals to worry about.
The Wall Street Journal says “some Democrats” are “troubled” about the new Hillary “scandals.” Yes, I’m sure they are. Sometimes I think there are more Clinton-haters among Democrats than Republicans. WSJ reports:
Some Democrats are uneasy about the reports involving Hillary Clinton ’s use of a private email account during her time as secretary of state and her foundation’s fundraising practices, calling on her to break her silence and personally address the two controversies.
Some party figures say the recent disclosures show a need for Democratic rivals to step forward and challenge Mrs. Clinton for a nomination that has long seemed to be hers for the asking.
At least one of these “uneasy” Democrats was willing to use his name.
Don Paulson, chairman of the Muscatine County Democrats in Iowa, said he was disturbed by the Clinton Foundation’s practice of accepting donations from foreign governments at a time when Mrs. Clinton was preparing a campaign for the White House. He saw that as one reason why the party should vet her and other candidates in a competitive primary, rather than allow her to coast to the nomination without a real fight. “It’s a healthier thing all around if there’s competition,” he said.
I’m sure Muscatine County Chairman is a Very Important Job, so we’d better being paying close attention to Mr. Paulson. Or not.
The WSJ admits that “Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement…was legal while she served as the nation’s top diplomat,” but never mind that. It’s still so “troubling” and it makes people so “uneasy.” They do include the names of two more disapproving Democrats:
Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who has worked on six presidential campaigns, said of the email account: “She needs to explain why she did what she did. I do think it’s a real issue, and I think it’s an issue that has to get dealt with on a serious level.”
“I don’t think it’s something a junior staffer can put out a statement and expect the thing to go away,” he said.
Kim Weaver, chairman of the O’Brien County Democrats in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential contest, said: “The questions need to be answered.” She added she would like to hear whether the personal email system Mrs. Clinton used carried adequate security protections. “If it’s no big deal, why not just come out and say what it is.”
It seems that Iowa Democrats are particularly upset.
But will any of this matter to voters in November of 2016? Brendan Nyhan of the NYT blog The Upshot doesn’t think so. He notes that most Americans aren’t thinking about the 2016 presidential campaign yet, and when they do, attitudes toward toward the “email furor” will likely break down along partisan lines.
Of course that won’t stop his newspaper from running story after story about it on their front page while they ignore the potential loss of health insurance for 8,000,000 Americans along with other important world events.
One more from Business Insider:
According to the State Department, Hillary Clinton’s use of a personalized email address during her time as secretary of state was no secret.
“The State Department has long had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s records — including emails between her and Department officials withaccounts,” State Department Deputy Spokesperon Marie Harf said in an email to Business Insider….
Business Insider reached out to Clinton’s representatives. They put us in touch with two former State Department officials who argued that Clinton was careful to use the address in a manner that went above and beyond regulatory requirements and ensured her communications were preserved.
The former officials, who requested anonymity to freely discuss Clinton’s emails and State Department policy, echoed the notion the former secretary’s personalized email address was not kept secret. They said she used it to communicate with over 100 department staffers, other officials, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill….
Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill issued a statement in response to the article wherein he argued Clinton corresponded with people on their government account whenever she conducted official business….”Like Secretaries of State before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any Department officials. For government business, she emailed them on their Department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained,” Merrill said.
Guess what? John Kerry is the first Secretary of State to use a government email account! Colin Power also used a private account during the Bush Administration.
The two former officials said efficiency was one reason Clinton set up her own address. At the time, State Department policy would not have allowed her to have multiple email addresses on her Blackberry. Because of this, the officials said, she opted to have one address for both personal and governmental communications. They echoed Merrill’s statement and said Clinton took care to correspond with other State officials exclusively on their governmental addresses. The officials said this meant all of her emails and those sent to her were immediately preserved on government servers.
According to the two officials, regulations discouraged the use of personal email but did not prohibit it. Merrill also argued that Clinton’s use of private email was not against the 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,” he said.
So far, Hillary herself has only responded on Twitter:
So . . . . there are lots of important stories out there today. Which ones are you following?
The Ebola Virus and the epidemic in Africa is real. The right wing hysteria about the virus is rivaling the bad plots of the Zombie movies I’m watching during SyFy’s Countdown to Halloween. I thought I’d spend some time separating the facts from the conspiracy theories today. So let me start with one of the most outrageous Zombie Memes from one of the most vile women on the planet. Dementia or further evidence of the advanced stages of evil? It’s your choice.
In an interview with WorldNetDaily published today, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly weighed in on the unfounded theory gaining traction in the right-wing media that Central American young people are to blame for an outbreak of a childhood respiratory illness in the U.S.
“There are all kinds of diseases in the rest of the world, and we don’t want them in this country,” Schlafly told WND, adding that “of all the things [Obama has] done, I think this thing of letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people is just the most outrageous of all.”
She went on to imply that President Obama is intentionally allowing people infected with Ebola into the United States because he wants America to be “just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”
Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly – author of “Who Killed the American Family?” – said she agrees Obama is responsible for allowing diseases to enter the country.
“There are all kinds of diseases in the rest of the world, and we don’t want them in this country,” Schlafly said. “And it’s Obama’s job to keep them out.
“Out of all the things he’s done, I think this thing of letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people is just the most outrageous of all.”
Schlafly said the government should screen immigrants for disease before they enter the country, as was done at Ellis Island a hundred years ago.
“That was the purpose of Ellis Island – to have a waiting place where it was decided whether people were healthy enough or responsible enough to come into our country,” she said. “The idea that anybody can just walk in and carry this disease with them is just an outrage, and it is Obama’s fault because he’s responsible for doing it.”
When asked why the current administration hasn’t done more to prevent diseased illegal aliens or Ebola carriers from Africa from entering the country, Schlafly said Obama wants to make the U.S. more like the rest of the world.
“Obama doesn’t want America to believe that we’re exceptional,” Schlafly said. “He wants us to be just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”
Yup, it’s despicable She. Still foaming at the mouth after all these years too.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a top-level forum in Washington, D.C., that the Ebola outbreak is unlike anything he’s seen since the AIDS epidemic.
“I would say that in the 30 years I’ve been working in public health, the only thing like this has been AIDS,” Frieden said before the heads of the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, according to AFP.
Frieden added: “We have to work now so that it is not the world’s next AIDS.”
Frieden’s comments come as the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. died Wednesday despite intense but delayed treatment. The U.S. government also announced it was expanding airport examinations to guard against the spread of the deadly disease.
The checks will include taking the temperatures of hundreds of travelers arriving from West Africa at five major American airports.
The new screenings will begin Saturday at New York’s JFK International Airport and then expand to Washington Dulles and the international airports in Atlanta, Chicago and Newark. An estimated 150 people per day will be checked, using high-tech thermometers that don’t touch the skin.
The White House said the fever checks would reach more than 9 of 10 travelers to the U.S. from the three heaviest-hit countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
President Barack Obama called the measures “really just belt and suspenders” to support protections already in place. Border Patrol agents now look for people who are obviously ill, as do flight crews, and in those cases the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is notified.
It’s unlikely a fever check would have spotted Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital Wednesday morning. Duncan wasn’t yet showing symptoms when he arrived in the U.S.
There are the facts about the state of the Ebola crisis. In West Africa, more than 8,000 people have contracted the disease and nearly half have died. In the U.S., there’s just one confirmed case—that of Thomas Duncan, the Liberian man who passed away in Dallas on Wednesday. Experts say that the caseload in West Africa is likely to get much, much bigger. As many as 1.4 million people could get the disease, with a large fraction of them dying from it. The same experts expect no similar outbreak here, even if a few more cases appear, because we have the personnel and the resources to limit exposure.
But all of the news on Wednesday was about developments here in the U.S.—in particular, new screening efforts at five major U.S. airports, Duncan’s death, and reports of possible new cases in the U.S., including one in Dallas. You could tell by the questions that Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, fielded during a late afternoon press conference. He got more than a dozen of them. Only two were about the situation abroad. (And one of them, it so happens, came from me.)
The preoccupation with what’s happening here, as opposed to what’s happening over there, is perfectly understandable. On Tuesday, a Gallup poll revealed that Americans today are as worried about contracting Ebola as they were about contracting H1N1, the swine flu, during that outbreak two years ago. By that time, millions of people had gotten H1N1 and thousands had already died. But people die from flu all the time, usually because they are very young or very old or already otherwise infirmed. It’s a threat that people have factored into their daily lives, if at all. Ebola is quite literally a foreign menace, one to which almost nobody gave much thought until a few weeks ago. The virus kills about half the people who get it, with little regard for age or health status of the person infected.
That fear goes a long way to explaining why the U.S. is implementing the new screening process at the airports. Customs and Border Patrol agents were already on the lookout for people with visible signs of the disease. Now they will add another layer of scrutiny. They will use questionnaires to screen for people who have been in affected countries—and, then, subject these people to temperature tests and more questioning. People who have fever or show other Ebola symptoms will be evaluated by quarantine officers from the CDC, then referred to local health authorities who will decide how to handle the cases. The primary goal is to identify any passengers infected with Ebola before they leave the airport.
Of all the issues that you would think would be non-partisan, Ebola should be at the top of the list. The disease is just a mindless germ that doesn’t check your race, gender, social class, sexual orientation or party identification before it strikes, suggesting both liberals and conservatives have a stake in treating people exposed to the disease with compassion and care. And yet, to flip on Fox News or turn on any conservative media at all, you’d think that ebola was some kind of plague designed by the Democratic party in order to wipe out Republicans.
Blowing the threat of ebola out of proportion and trying to link it to Obama has been a constant theme on the right in recent days. Elisabeth Hasselbeck of Fox News literally demanded that we put the country on lockdown, banning all travel in and out. In a bit of race-baiting, Andrea Tantaros of Fox suggested that people who travel to the country and show symptoms of ebola will “seek treatment from a witch doctor” instead of go to the hospital. Fox host Steve Doocy suggested the CDC is lying about ebola because they’re “part of the administration”. Fox also promoted a conspiracy theorist who is trying to claim the CDC is lying when they caution people not to panic.
Other right wing media joined in. Tammy Bruce blamed ebola on the “Obama legacy”. Laura Ingraham said Obama was prevented from doing more to stop the disease because of his “core ties to the African continent”. Rush Limbaugh even went as far as to accuse Obama of letting the disease spread because he supposes liberals believe “we kind of deserve a little bit of this”.
Okay, so here’s a zombie mistake and a big one. Justice Kennedy’s Typo Accidentally Stops Same-Sex Marriage in Nevada.
Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy stunned America when he ordered a halt on Nevada’s same-sex marriages, less than a day after the Court voted to overturn a ban on gay marriages in that state. Turns out that it was a total accident. Yes, a big ol’ “oops, my bad” incident.
According to SCOTUSBlog, what happened was the following: The Ninth Circuit recently heard challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada, who, for the purposes of convenience, had combined both of their challenges into a single case. In two different rulings, the federal appellate court struck down both of these states’ bans, allowing same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada, and issued a mandate on the ruling to immediately enforce the new law. In other words, the moment that the Ninth Circuit struck down the ban, gay and lesbian couples could get married immediately.
This did not make Idaho happy, so they filed a request to Justice Kennedy asking him to put a stop on same-sex marriage in Idaho, so that state officials could review their case before the Ninth Circuit. Kennedy allowed it, but in a total brain fart moment, issued an order that put a stop on weddings in both Idaho and Nevada, even though nobody in Nevada had asked for a review, either.
Thankfully, same-sex marriages can still occur in Las Vegas for the time being, but unfortunately, nobody knows what the eff is happening anymore. As a result, the Ninth Circuit has recalled its order implementing same-sex marriage in Idaho and are asking for briefs as to whether they need to do the same in Nevada.
Good job, Kennedy. Look how much confusion your typo has caused.
Oh, another Zombie Meme replacing Benghazi these days. It’s not only Ebola that’s Obama’s fault but also ISIL. It’s all about killing white people!!! Here’s some great links and proof from Politicus.
We have shown that for the GOP, the threat of Ebola exists only as an excuse to attack President Obama, that it’s all Obama’s fault (of course) and that, Oh my God! Oh my God! It’s going to kill us all! Cue to Rand Paul diving under his bed.
We have also been closely following the rise of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and have tried to show you the contrast between the Republican and the Democratic reactions.
We have shown that for the GOP, the threat of ISIL exists only as an excuse to attack President Obama, that it’s all Obama’s fault (of course) and that Oh my God! Oh my God! They’re going to kill us all! Cue to Lindsey Graham diving under his bed.
It is surely significant that yesterday Time Magazine should profile the Republican response to the ISIL “scandal”: GOP Ad Claims ISIS Plot to Attack U.S. Via ‘Arizona’s Backyard.’
As Time’s Zeke Miller and Alex Rogers describe the ad, which was posted to YouTube yesterday,
The National Republican Congressional Committee ad opens with grainy footage of black flags and fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) holding rifles on military vehicles. “Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day,” an ominous voiceover states. “Their entry into our country? Through Arizona’s backyard.” The spot goes on to recount how Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), locked in a close re-election fight with Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin, has voted against border security legislation, suggesting that she “leaves Arizona vulnerable.”
Chris Wallace of Fox News has already planted the suggestion in viewers’ facile minds that Ebola could come across our Southern Border and that it could be used as a weapon. It doesn’t matter after those words are spoken than an expert debunks them. The damage has been done.
The brain damage was done to any one that actually believes these things years ago.
So what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
“My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. In the picture I am painting — which I shall call Guernica — I am expressing my horror of the military caste which is now plundering Spain into an ocean of misery and death.” — Pablo Picasso
I’m experiencing some kind of paralysis today, so I don’t know what this post is going to consist of. I’m just going to take it moment to moment. First thing this morning, I read List of X’s long comment on Dakinikat’s Friday reads. I hope everyone will go read it. I think that could lead to our having a serious, productive discussion on Israel/Palestine. For now, I’m just going to put up the latest stories I can find on the conflict.
NPR: Gaza Update: Fate Of Israeli Soldier Unknown; Death Toll Surpasses 2009 Level, by Bill Chappell.
A day after they were to begin a cease-fire, Israel and Hamas are still firing at one another, in a conflict that has killed at least 1,650 Gazans, 63 Israeli soldiers and 3 Israeli civilians, according to tallies from the respective sides.
Those numbers surpass the estimated fatalities from the last major Gaza conflict, which raged for around three weeks from 2008-2009.
Hamas, which has been condemned for breaking a temporary peace and capturing an Israeli soldier, said Saturday that it has lost contact with the group that conducted the ambush that killed two soldiers and resulted in Lt. Hadar Goldin’s capture.
The military wing of Hamas released a statement today, NPR’s Emily Harris reports, in which it said that after an Israeli bombardment, “the Hamas fighters are believed to be dead and if there was a soldier with them, he probably is too.”
At the link, read a brief synopsis of events in the conflict as of this morning. Other headlines:
Haaretz: Israel seeks to end Gaza operation unilaterally, by Barak Ravid.
Israel’s security cabinet decided after a five-hour meeting Friday night that Israel will no longer seek a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip via negotiations with Hamas, senior Israeli officials said. Therefore, Israel does not intend to send a delegation to the Cairo truce talks as previously agreed in the course of the last cease-fire, before it was violated by Hamas.
The senior officials said that ministers were unanimous in the cabinet meeting in their position that there is no point in pursuing cease-fire negotiations after Hamas violated the previous one by capturing an IDF soldier on Friday. According to the officials, the ministers also agreed that the captured soldier will not change Israel’s overall strategy. In other words, the IDF will continue its operations to destroy the tunnels and the ground operation will not be significantly expanded at this stage.
The cabinet also decided that instead of efforts to reach a cease-fire through negotiations, Israel will focus on restoring Israel’s deterrence against Hamas. The senior officials said that in light of the failed cease-fire efforts, Israel will consider ending the operation and unilaterally leaving Gaza, relying on deterrence.
“We think there is still enough international legitimacy for an operation in Gaza,” said a senior Israeli official. “In the coming days the destruction of the tunnels will be complete, and then a decision will be made as to how to continue from there.” The official added that “if we feel that deterrence has been restored, we will leave the [Gaza] Strip on the basis of the ‘quiet for quiet’ principle. If we feel deterrence has not yet been achieved, we will continue the operation inside the Gaza Strip or exit and continue with the aerial bombardment.”
The Washington Post: A view of Gaza from the sea: How Israel’s navy patrols the coast, by Ruth Eglash.
For the war-weary group of international journalists struggling to find their sea legs, the patrol offered a rare insight into Israel’s navy, which over the past four weeks has acted as a strategic support to Israel’s ongoing military operation against Hamas in Gaza and served as a deterrent against militants attempting to infiltrate Israel via the sea.
“We were not surprised by Hamas’s attempt to infiltrate into Israel from the sea. They have used many different measures to attack us,” said Cmdr. Z, one of the Keshet’s two commanders who spoke on the condition of anonymity in accord with standard Israeli military protocol.
He was referring to an incident on July 8 when members of Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, attempted to attack an Israeli military base that sits on the coast just north of the Gaza Strip.Israeli surveillance cameras picked up on the infiltration early, and five Hamas militants were subsequently killed in the attack. Hamas later revealed that it had been training a naval commando unit for sea-related combat.
The Christian Science Monitor: What could be done to break the Israeli-Palestinian revenge cycle?, by Kristen Chick, correspondent, and Christa Case Bryant, staff writer.
GAZA CITY, GAZA AND KFAR AZA, ISRAEL — In the battered Gazaneighborhood of Shejaiya, Ataf Ettish surveys what was once her home. An Israeli bomb ripped off the outside of the three-story building, exposing the blue and pink inner walls of her daughter’s bedroom.
The building next door is gone, replaced by a crater, the 80-year-old owner buried beneath the rubble. Ms. Ettish now lives in a United Nations shelter, sharing a single toilet with 1,000 people.
“This is not a war – this is destruction of humanity,” she says. “I’ve lived through two previous wars here, but this is the worst.”
In the Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Aza, just across the border but a world away, Mark Joffe agrees it’s getting worse.
“Each time it happens … the rockets are bigger, the threats are bigger,” says Mr. Joffe, who says residents fear Hamas will infiltrate the border community (“Aza” is the Hebrew word for “Gaza”). “If we’d done the right thing five to six years ago, it would have been a lot less costly.”
Now many Israelis’ belief that an extended, harsh crackdown on Hamas will bring lasting peace is being put to the test. On Friday, a conflict that has cost 1,600 Palestinian lives and seen a quarter of Gaza’s population displaced from their homes looked set to enter a dangerous new phase after an apparent Hamas capture of an Israeli soldier.
Read the rest at the link.
Would this work?
Back in Washington DC, another intractable conflict continues in Congress between crazy ultra-right-wing Republicans and semi-sane right wing Republicans. Here are the latest stories about that.
Reuters: U.S. House passes border-security funding bill to speed deportations, by David Lawder and Richard Cowan.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to crack down on Central American migrants, including unaccompanied children, who are flooding to the U.S. border with Mexico, as lawmakers passed a $694 million border security bill.
The 223-189 vote came one day after conservative Republicans balked at an earlier version of the measure, exposing a deep rift between Tea Party activists and more mainstream Republicans.
In passing the retooled bill, the Republican-led House ignored a veto threat from the White House. But with the Senate already on a five-week summer recess, this measure will advance no further at least until September.
Isn’t that just ducky? And this will lead to suffering for real people, not that most people in DC really give a sh*t.
House Democrats complained that the legislation would too speedily return children to dangerous conditions in their home countries. President Barack Obama called the Republican bill “extreme” and “unworkable.”
Later on Friday, the House also passed a separate bill reversing Obama’s 2012 policy suspending deportations of some undocumented residents who were brought to the United States as children years ago by their parents.
The measure also would bar Obama from expanding this policy, possibly to parents of children who already qualify.
The tougher language in the twin bills would make it easier to deport migrant children and add money to deploy National Guard troops at the border with Mexico.
Dana Milbank opines: An upending of reason in the House.
After conservatives on Thursday brought down House Speaker John Boehner’s bill to address the border crisis, the new House Republican leadership team issued a joint statement declaring that President Obama should fix the problem himself.
“There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action,” the leadership quartet proclaimed, “to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.” ….
Just the day before, House Republicans had voted to sue Obama for using his executive authority. They called him lawless, a usurper, a monarch, a tyrant — all for postponing deadlines in the implementation of Obamacare. Now they were begging him to take executive action to compensate for their own inability to act — even though, in this case, accelerating the deportation of thousands of unaccompanied children coming from Central America would likely require Obama to ignore a 2008 law.
This was not a momentary lapse but a wholesale upending of reason.
Read the rest at the Washington Post.
(Ed. note: after he rudely insults her.)
In an unusual breach of decorum, even for the divided Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi chased Rep. Tom Marino across the House floor, taking offense at comments by the Pennsylvania Republican during debate on the border funding bill Friday night.
“We don’t have law and order,” Marino began as he wrapped up his comments on the border supplemental. “My colleagues on the other side don’t want to do anything about it.”
“You know something that I find quite interesting about the other side? Under the leadership of the former Speaker [Pelosi], and under the leadership of their former leader [Rep. Steny Hoyer], when in 2009 and 2010, they had the House, the Senate and the White House, and they knew this problem existed,” he continued. “They didn’t have the strength to go after it back then. But now are trying to make a political issue out of it now.”
Off-mic, Pelosi then approached Marino, crossing the aisle in view of cameras, and apparently challenged Marino’s assertion that Democrats did not do anything about the issue when they had majority control.
“Yes it is true,” Marino replied directly to Pelosi, who was House speaker in those years. “I did the research on it. You might want to try it. You might want to try it, Madam Leader. Do the research on it. Do the research. I did it. That’s one thing that you don’t do.”
John Parkinson of ABC apparently had no issues with what Marino said, just shock that Pelosi responded.
After Marino concluded his remarks and as many Republicans applauded their colleague, Pelosi crossed the chamber again in view of cameras, enraged, pointing and sticking her finger at Marino.
She then followed Marino up a Republican aisle, gesturing and arguing with him. Lawmakers on the GOP side gathered in dismay as one spoke out to tell the chair that the House was not in order, in an effort to halt the bickering.
H/T to Fannie for this video:
What sane person could blame her? But sanity is at a premium in U.S. politics and journalism today.
Other News Stories of Possible Interest
No one else her probably cares except Pat, but the last-place Red Sox completely blew up the team and then they beat the Yankees last night.
Boston Globe: New-look Red Sox drop Yankees.
Christian Science Monitor: Why 400,000 people in Ohio can’t drink the water.
I hope you’ll share your thoughts and links in the comment thread.
I’m having another one of those mornings. Once again, I woke up with that feeling of surreality–the world can’t be as strange as it seems, can it?
Lots of allegedly intelligent, liberal Americans have been freaking out for months about revelations leaked by Edward Snowden that the NSA spies on foreign countries in order to protect U.S. national security. Snowden and his public relations handler Glenn Greenwald are heroes to these people despite the fact that Greenwald apparently sold Snowden’s remaining secrets to the highest bidder–a libertarian, pro-corporate billionaire named Pierre Omidyar. More on this story later.
None of us likes the idea of being spied upon, but at least the President of the U.S. must be getting the best security money can buy, right?
I’m afraid not. It’s still possible for a person suffering from schizophrenia to get onto a stage filled with world leaders and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama and wave his arms around in some kind of meaningless pantomime. From this morning’s Boston Globe: Interpreter for Mandela event: I was hallucinating.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The man accused of faking sign interpretation next to world leaders at Nelson Mandela’s memorial told a local newspaper that he was hallucinating and hearing voices.
Thamsanqa Jantjie did not describe his qualifications for being a sign language interpreter, but told The Star he works for an interpreting company that paid him $85 for interpreting Tuesday’s event. He told Radio 702 Thursday he’s receiving treatment for schizophrenia and had an episode while on stage.
Watch video of the performance at the link.
The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service said Thursday he hallucinated that angels were entering the stadium, suffers from schizophrenia and has been violent in the past.
Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were “armed policemen around me.” He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year.
Jatjie knew he had to do his best to act normal, so he waved his arms around and pretended to be interpreting the speeches of numerous world leaders, including Obama.
“What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium … I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don’t know the attack of this problem, how will it comes. Sometimes I react violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things that chase me,” Jantjie said.
“I was in a very difficult position,” he added. “And remember those people, the president and everyone, they were armed, there was armed police around me. If I start panicking I’ll start being a problem. I have to deal with this in a manner so that I mustn’t embarrass my country.”
Asked how often he had become violent, he said “a lot” while declining to provide details.
So exactly who hired Jantjie? It’s a mystery. BBC News reports: Owners of Mandela ‘fake’ interpreter firm ‘vanish’ The BBC is also using a different spelling for the schizophrenic interpreter’s name.
Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu apologised to the deaf community for the poor quality of interpretation given by Thamsanqa Dyantyi from SA Interpreters.
“He is Xhosa speaking. The English was a bit too much for him,” she said.
What is this man’s real name? I don’t know, but–get this–Bogopane-Zulu “did not rule out hiring him again”!
During a press conference, Ms Bogopane-Zulu, the deputy minister for women, children and people with disabilities, admitted that a mistake had been made but said there was no reason for the country to be embarrassed.
“There are as many as a hundred sign language dialects,” she said, to explain the difficulties he faced.
“He started well and later he became tired. Guidelines say we must switch interpreters every 20 minutes.”
She did not rule out employing him in some circumstances again.
Except the company she hired him through has “vanished into thin air.” And why didn’t they switch to other interpreters? The article doesn’t say, but it does say the man has interpreted at important events in the past.
And then there’s the Republican outrage over Obama shaking hands with Raul Castro at Mandela’s funeral. WTF? From Time: Here’s 14 People Freaking Out On Twitter After Barack Obama and Raul Castro Shook Hands. What was Obama supposed to do–slap Castro across the face with a glove and challenge him to a duel? (Actually some of the tweeters were being sarcastic and Time apparently missed the point.) I think cartoonist Bill Day had the best response.
Was Michelle Obama annoyed when her husband took that selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service? Roberto Schmidt, the Agence France-Presse photographer who snapped the photo of the president, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt, says no.
“I later read on social media that Michelle Obama seemed to be rather peeved on seeing the Danish prime minister take the picture,” Schmidt wrote on AFP’s blog. “But photos can lie. In reality, just a few seconds earlier the first lady was herself joking with those around her, Cameron and Schmidt included. Her stern look was captured by chance.”
The photo, which immediately became an Internet sensation, is only one piece of the day’s story; the leaders had a variety of expressions during the service and were acting “like human beings, like me and you,” he wrote. “I doubt anyone could have remained totally stony faced for the duration of the ceremony, while tens of thousands of people were celebrating in the stadium.”
But none of that matters, because the corporate media has decided that whatever Obama does must be harshly criticized. CNN even brought on Donald Trump to opine about Obama’s perceived gaffes, unemployment, and Obamacare. If that isn’t surreal, what is?
Here’s more strangeness: Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “disgust” at the government of Ukraine for cracking down on protesters. Here’s the official statement:
The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kyiv’s Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity. This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy.
Last week in Brussels and Moldova, I underscored publicly the importance of all sides avoiding violence and called on President Yanukovych to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukranian people. We put the government on notice about our concern.
As Vice President Biden made clear to President Yanukovych during their phone call yesterday, respect for democratic principles, including freedom of assembly, is fundamental to the United States’ approach to Ukraine. This is a universal value not just an American one. For weeks, we have called on President Yanukovych and his government to listen to the voices of his people who want peace, justice and a European future. Instead, Ukraine’s leaders appear tonight to have made a very different choice.
We call for utmost restraint. Human life must be protected. Ukrainian authorities bear full responsibility for the security of the Ukrainian people.
As church bells ring tonight amidst the smoke in the streets of Kyiv, the United States stands with the people of Ukraine. They deserve better.
Has Kerry forgotten how peaceful “Occupy” protesters were treated in the streets of multiple U.S. cities just a couple of years ago? Some reports on the crackdowns (from foreign sources):
The Guardian: Police crack down on ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests.
AlJazeera: Fierce crackdown on ‘Occupy Oakland’ protest
Getting back to the Greenwald-Snowden-Omidyar story, the attacks on Greenwald have moved from the usual critics to previous members of the Greenwald-Snowden cheering section. First Sarah Harrison–who accompanied Snowden from Hong Kong to Russia and then stayed with him for months gave an interview on the subject to a German newspaper. The Guardian reports, WikiLeaks’ Sarah Harrison: ‘How can you take Pierre Omidyar seriously?’
The WikiLeaks staffer and Snowden collaborator Sarah Harrison has criticised Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder who is setting up a new journalism venture with Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, for his involvement in the 2010 financial blockade against WikiLeaks.
In her first interview since leaving Moscow for Berlin last month, Harrison told German news weekly Stern: “How can you take something seriously when the person behind this platform went along with the financial boycott against WikiLeaks?”
Harrison was referring to the decision in December 2010 by PayPal, which is owned by eBay, to suspend WikiLeaks’ donation account and freeze its assets after pressure from the US government. The company’s boycott, combined with similar action taken by Visa and Mastercard, left WikiLeaks facing a funding crisis.
As for Greenwald’s decision to sell out to Omidyar,
Referring to Omidyar’s plans to set up a new media organisation, in which the former Guardian writer Greenwald – who wrote a number of stories from the Snowden revelations – will play a central part, Harrison said: “If you set up a new media organisation which claims to do everything for press freedom, but you are part of a blockade against another media organisation, then that’s hard for us to take it seriously. But I hope that they stick to their promises”.
Next, Greenwald was hit with an even harsher attack on his journalistic ethics by former FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds: Checkbook Journalism & Leaking to the Highest Bidders. It’s a pretty powerful critique.
A government whistleblower obtains over 50,000 pages of documents that implicate the government in severely illegal and unconstitutional practices. This whistleblower risks everything, including fleeing the country, in order to leak these documents and let the public know how its government has been breaking the nation’s laws and violating their rights. So he goes to another country and then entrusts all this evidence to a few reporters and wanna-be journalists. Why does he do that? He does it so that these reporters will present all this information to the public: not only those in the United States, but everyone all over the world. Think about it. Why else would someone risk everything, including his own life, to obtain and leak such documents? Are you thinking? Because what would be the point to all this, to taking all these risks, if 99% of these documents remain secret and hidden from the public? Ludicrous, right?
Now, here is what happens next: The whistleblower hands over these documents, and goes through a surreal escape journey. So surreal that even Hollywood could not have matched it. Of the handful of reporters who were entrusted with 50,000 documents, a few do nothing. By that I mean absolutely nothing. A couple from this entrusted group does a little bit more. They meet with a few mainstream media outlets, they spend many hours around the table with their mega companies’ mega attorneys and U.S. government mega representatives (the same government that is implicated in these documents).
Edmonds notes that Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has admitted that only 1% of the Snowden material has been published.
The main wanna-be reporter begins his relentless pursuit of high dollars in return for … for what? In return for exclusive interviews where he would discuss some of this material. In return for a very lucrative book deal where he would expose a few extra pages of these 50,000-page documents. In return for a partnership with and extremely high salary from a Mega Corporation (think 1%) where he would … hmmmm, well, it is not very clear: maybe in return for sitting on and never releasing some of these documents, or, releasing a few select pages?
That’s right. The culprit is able to use his role in the whistleblower case, and his de facto ownership of the whistleblower’s 50,000-page evidence, to gain huge sums of money, fame, a mega corporate position, book and movie deals … yet, making sure that the public would never see more than a few percent of the incriminating evidence.
There’s much more scathing commentary at the link to Edmonds’ blog. Of course, Greenwald used his twitter timeline to call Edmonds “stupid,” and at the same time failed to respond to any of her criticisms. Of course Glenn had already had a bad day after Time chose the Pope as “Person of the Year” instead of Snowden.
So those are some of the stories that gave me that feeling of surreality this morning. What are you hearing and reading today? Please post your links in the comment thread, and enjoy your Thursday!
I don’t even know where to begin this morning. I wish I could write a coherent diatribe like the one Dakinikat wrote yesterday, but I can’t do it. I have a sense that things are very wrong, but I can’t explain the feeling in any rational way.
As we head into the holiday season, I feel as if the country is leaderless. The public focus of the Obama administration and the media is on the glitches in a website; and yet in the background are terrible problems that are building and growing more and more intractable as our political “leadership” fiddles with nonsensical issues like Obamacare and Benghazi.
As Dakinikat noted yesterday, there is a problem of growing poverty and income inequality become institutionalized and normalized. There is the issue of gun violence and our total failure to respond to it with any kind of rational regulations on guns. There is the devolution of education in the U.S., and of course there is the continuing attack on women’s autonomy and Democratic politicians seeming willingness to use women’s bodies as bargaining chips. Finally there are the already institutionalized problems of racism and hatred of immigrants. What have I missed?
As our real problem grow, it seems the American political and media classes, either don’t notice because as part of the wealthy 1% they simply aren’t affected, or because they’ve got theirs and they just don’t care about the mass of people who are struggling to survive in a poisonous system. And because of the obsessive focus on the end-of-year holidays, nothing will happen in Washington until we hit the next debt limit and our “leaders” mobilize briefly to kick the can of our economic and social problems down the road once again and so they can return to their focus on minutiae.
Is there any solution to the political and economic stagnation we find ourselves in? Is the situation really as surreal as it feels to me on this Tuesday morning? Am I nuts?
Anyway, here a some of the stories leading the news at the moment.
Jeff Bezos tells Amazon customers to expect home delivery by drones. NBC News reports:
Amazon.com hopes to deliver small packages to your home in just 30 minutes by unmanned drones within five years, chief executive Jeff Bezos said Sunday.
In an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Bezos was actually less optimistic than what his company said in its online announcement, which declared that tiny robot aircraft could be landing on front porches as soon as 2015.
Bezos said Amazon already had the technology in place and had even flown a working prototype, which he showed off in a video the company published Sunday:
He promised “half-hour delivery, and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds, which covers 86 percent of the items that we deliver.”
The rest of the work, Bezos said, is in quality control and getting the plan OK’d by the Federal Aviation Administration — something technology experts said was unlikely on Bezos’ time frame.
So basically, this is just a silly idea that has no chance of actually happening anytime soon. But the media sees it as more urgent than poverty, income inequality, and people getting killed with guns day in and day out.
From the Washington Post: U.S. students lag around average on international science, math and reading test.
Scores in math, reading and science posted by 15-year-olds in the United States were flat while their counterparts elsewhere — particularly in Shanghai, Singapore and other Asian provinces or countries — soared ahead, according to results of a well-regarded international exam released Tuesday.
While U.S. teenagers scored slightly above average in reading, their scores were average in science and below average in math, compared to 64 other countries and economies that participated in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which was administered last fall. That pattern has not changed much since PISA was first administered in 2000.
Gee, I wonder why this is happening? It seems like something that should concern our “leaders.”
The test scores offer fresh evidence for those who argue that the United States is losing ground to competitors in the global market and others who say a decade’s worth of school reform has done little to improve educational outcomes.
“While the intentions may have been good, a decade of top-down, test-based schooling created by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top — focused on hyper-testing students, sanctioning teachers and closing schools — has failed to improve the quality of American public education,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement. The AFT released a video on Monday in which it implored the public not to blame teachers, the unions, parents or students for poor PISA results.
But were intentions really good? Check out these years-old headlines on profiteers (including the Bush family) who cleaned up after passage of the Orwellianly titled “No Child Left Behind” law was passed.
Bush Profiteers Collect Billions from No Child Left Behind (Project Censored: The News That Didn’t Make The News, March 30, 2007)
Bush’s Family Profits From `No Child’ Act (LA Times, Oct. 22, 2006)
No Bush Left Behind (Bloomerg Businessweek, Oct. 15, 2006)
There are plenty more headlines where those came from.
And yet, nearly a decade later, we’re stuck with that awful law and the damage it has done to our public education system. Why have Democrats done nothing to reverse it? Most likely because they too profit from the continuing privatization of education.
What about the latest media narrative on Obama care?
From the Washington Post: Health-care enrollment on Web plagued by bugs:
The enrollment records for a significant portion of the Americans who have chosen health plans through the online federal insurance marketplace contain errors — generated by the computer system — that mean they might not get the coverage they’re expecting next month.
The errors cumulatively have affected roughly one-third of the people who have signed up for health plans since Oct. 1, according to two government and health-care industry officials. The White House disputed the figure but declined to provide its own.
The mistakes include failure to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies. The errors have been accumulating since HealthCare.gov opened two months ago, even as the Obama administration has been working to make it easier for consumers to sign up for coverage, the government and industry officials said.
Figuring out how to clean up the backlog of errors and prevent similar ones in the future is emerging as the new imperative if the federal insurance exchange is to work as intended. The problems were the subject of a meeting Monday between administration officials and a new “Payer Exchange Performance Team” made up of insurance industry leaders.
Okay, but what is with the bizarre impatience about some computer glitches from a media that couldn’t care less about institutionalized poverty, racism, and gun violence? And then there’s the Obama administration’s defensive response, as reported by USA Today: Obama to launch new health care law campaign
President Obama and his aides will seek to rally public support for his embattled health care plan in the coming weeks, starting with a White House event Tuesday.
Obama will promote the effort in a speech while surrounded by people who have benefited from the new law, according to an addition to the White House schedule.
The Affordable Care Act has come under heavy political attack since its rollout in October. Problems have included a malfunctioning website and the cancellations of polices that do not meet new federal standards.
In the coming days, Obama and aides will highlight what they call successful aspects of the law. They include provisions that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing health conditions, and allow young people to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26.
A few writers have tried to look at the “Obamacare crisis” slightly more rationally than the mainstream corporate media.
Here’s Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter: As Healthcare.gov Bugs Are Fixed, the ‘Obama’s Katrina’ Script Continues To Be Shredded.
It’s been 11 days since The National Journal‘s Ron Fournier wrote that Obamacare is President Obama’s Katrina. Oh, and it’s also his Iraq, Fournier wrote. Obama’s Katrina and Iraq. Both.
Since then, however, the Healthcare.gov website has been vastly improved and many of the bugs initially reported have been fixed, according to the administration late Sunday.
Back on November 20, Fournier made sure to provide himself with an escape hatch, though, noting that Healthcare.gov isn’t the same in terms of the actual events during and after Katrina, or throughout the Iraq War. Instead, Fournier wrote, the similarities had more to do with incompetence in the execution of a major policy initiative.
Yeah, so incompetence that lasted literally for years in both Iraq and New Orleans, leading to massive body counts on both fronts, is the same as a glitchy website launch. Okeedokee. Roger that. In reality, yes, both administrations made mistakes, but those mistakes were vastly different in terms of magnitude — not to mention that the Bush administration’s response to its mistakes was to, well, make even more mistakes. Again, foryears.
On the other hand, the Obama administration realized there were problems with the website and rushed to address those errors. Within two months most of those problems have been resolved, and, bonus, no one died.
For more rational perspective, read the rest of the post at the link.
I particularly like this uncharacteristically long post by TBogg at Raw Story: Are-We-There-Yet?-American [sic] just wants to go home because we aren’t there yet. Here’s just a taste:
You may remember that about a month ago, which is four score and seven years ago to the iPhone generation for whom a Japandroids download that takes over 20 seconds is an eternity times infinity, that the Great Socialism Project That Will Stomp America Flat (aka Obamacareor Communism) had some internet user problems which is why there are absolutely no healthcare services available in America right now so you should just rub some dirt on your burst appendix, suck it up, and quit yer bellyaching. In an effort to fix what wasn’t working, the Obama White House brought in some better quality nerds who, fortified with 5 Hour Energy IV drips, promised to get it up and working by Dec 1 or GTFO.
Please go read the rest.
Charles Pierce also had a few choice words for Ron Fournier and the rest of the Obama-hating press.
Ace reporter Ron Fournier of the Associated Press has another scoop for y’all. There is absolutely no fking way on god’s green and pleasant earth that this Obama fellow will be elected president again. He has blown his chance for that third term, and probably the fourth and fifth as well. Ron would like the Pulitzer committee to leave the medallion on the doorstep. Watch out, Obama. The Horsemen ride at daybreak! [….]
I heard my friend Eric Boehlert on the radio this morning, warning us that the traditional end-of-the-year retrospectives are likely to sing in close harmony on the theme of the collapsing Obama administration, even though his poll numbers are pretty much where they’ve been for a couple of years now, and even though the Republicans in Congress continue to have the approval ratings of skin disease. I think he’s right, and I think Fournier, who’s been a tool so long they ought to sell him at Home Depot, is just trying to get a jump on things here.
More hilarity at the link.
And what’s with the efforts to deny that racism exists? From Raw Story: Black female professor reprimanded for pointing out existence of structural racism to white male students.
A faculty member at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Shannon Gibney, received a formal reprimand for her handling of a discussion about structural racism in her Introduction to Mass Communication course.
According to Gibney in an interview with City College News, a white male student asked her, “Why do we have to talk about this in every class? Why do we have to talk about this?”
She claims she was shocked, because “[h]is whole demeanor was very defensive. He was taking it personally. I tried to explain, of course, in a reasonable manner — as reasonable as I could given the fact that I was being interrupted and put on the spot in the middle of class — that this is unfortunately the context of 21st century America.”
Gibney says another white male student followed the first, saying “Yeah, I don’t get this either. It’s like people are trying to say that white men are always the villains, the bad guys. Why do we have to say this?”
When Gibney attempted, again, to inform the students that they were mistaking a systemic critique for a personal attack, the students continued to argue. Eventually, she told them that “if you’re really upset, feel free to go down to legal affairs and file a racial harassment discrimination complaint.” This is exactly what they did.
This probably has something to do with our f’d up education system too . . . . As far as I can tell, critical thinking has been banned.