Good Morning Sky Dancers!!
I’m not sure why, but I’m feeling really wiped out this morning. It could be all the pollen that is making my allergies act up. My nose is stuffy and my eyes are scratchy and watering.
Anyway, I’m going to start you off with an open thread, and I’ll try to put up a better Saturday reads post later on. I do have some things I want to share with you.
Yesterday President Obama angered Republicans by asking (the horror!) a couple of marines to hold umbrellas over him and his guest Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey during a press conference at the White House. Because, you know, the Commander-in-Chief shouldn’t inconvenience U.S servicemen in any way. The nerve of that annoying black man!
Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post: Even Obama’s umbrellas are a scandal now
Even President Obama’s use of umbrellas has become a scandal in the eyes of some Republicans.
On Thursday, during a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, Obama signaled to two Marines and asked them to protect him and his guest from the rain.
“I am going to go ahead and ask folks — why don’t we get a couple of Marines, they’re going to look good next to us. Just because I’ve got a change of suits, but I don’t know about our prime minister.” Gesturing to the unprotected press, he added, “You guys, I’m sorry about…”
Republicans were outraged, because for some reason male marines are not permitted to use umbrellas when they are in uniform even though female marines can use them. But as Captain Eric Flanagan explained, when the President requests something, marines are supposed to do what he asks.
“Marines are always out getting rained on, that’s sort of what we do,” said Capt. Eric Flanagan, a Marine spokesman. A request from the president to a Marine who serves in the White House, however, would be an “extenuating circumstance.”
Flanagan also pointed to Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which states that members of the Marine Corps shall “perform such other duties as the President may direct.”
Because, you know, he’s the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, even though Republicans don’t like to admit that.
It was a lighthearted moment in the midst of a grim few days for the White House. But in a week of Benghazi e-mails, Justice Department subpoenas and Internal Revenue Service targeting, some of the administration’s critics saw another example of overreach.
“Obama breaches Marine umbrella protocol,” read the headline on one conservative blog.
Of course no one can explain why the military has gender-specific umbrella rules. They’re just the rulz!
Neither Flanagan nor an Army spokesman could explain the reasoning behind the gender divide. An attempt to change the policy in the 1990s failed, with some suggesting that there was something effeminate about umbrellas.
“They seem to be very nervous what constitutes unmanly behavior,” said Cynthia Enloe, a professor at Clark University who researched military uniform codes in the book “Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives.”
I suppose that could partially explain the reaction of the right wing women-haters.
“Obama expects our troops to hold damn umbrellas rather than go inside: It’s disrespectful, inconsiderate, classless,” tweeted Lou Dobbs.
“Mr. President, when it rains it pours, but most Americans hold their own umbrellas,” former Alaska governor Sarah Palin added on Facebook.
The conservative Move America Forward PAC likened the umbrella-holding to what conservatives view as Obama’s weak response to September’s attack in Benghazi, Libya. A fundraising
e-mail from the group read, “Rain: ‘Hold My Umbrella.’ Benghazi: ‘Stand Down.’ ”
Why must they all be so childishly tiresome? It gives me a headache. Maybe that’s partly why I’m feeling so tired this morning.
Wonkette invited an actual U.S. Marine to comment on the latest Obama scandal: Guest Post From A U.S. Marine About Barack Obama’s Shocking And Disgusting Use Of An Umbrella
Yesterday we learned of one more reason to impeach the Kenyan impostor: as he was giving his press conference with the Turkish whoever, it began to rain, and he summoned two United States Marines over to hold umbrellas over himself and his Very Important Guest. Commentors [sic] at the Free Republic howled that PBO was trying to “humiliate” the Marine Corps by “demeaning them” and “demoralizing them.” They were very mad! Then one M. Joseph Sheppard, to whom apparently we have not been paying enough attention, tried to explain: we were wrong to simply point out other presidents having umbrellas held for them. The shocking scandal was that Barack Nobumer had made Marines disregard their own code, by holding umbrellas. He cited some uniform regulations, as if a Marine performing a service for his Commander-in-Chief were the same as a Marine delicately shielding himself from the elements while humping up a mountain or to keep his hair dry while doing drillsies.
So Wonkette writer Rebecca Schoenkopf called her brother the marine to see what he thought about Obama’s horrifying behavior. Here’s what he said.
“I GUARANTEE YOU!” he yelled, “IF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF GIVES YOU A LAWFUL ORDER YOU FOLLOW THE MOTHERFUCKING LAWFUL ORDER. IF THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF WANTS AN UMBRELLA YOU BETTER BELIEVE A WHOLE FUCKING GRIP OF JARHEARDS ARE GONNA BE HIGH-STEPPING TO BRING HIM A MOTHERFUCKING UMBRELLA!”
And then he warmed up. “IN FACT! THE REAL FUCKING SCANDAL IS THAT THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF WASN’T THE ONE HOLDING IT. ‘YOU! CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS! HOLD MY MOTHERFUCKING UMBRELLA!’”
That should settle that. But it won’t of course.
Finally, at The Atlantic Garrance Franke-Ruta tells Democrats to “calm down” as she explains why none of the current “scandals” matter–Obama’s second term was “already in tatters.”
Are the AP snooping, Benghazi, and IRS scandals about to destroy Obama’s second term? Not really—because hyperpartisanship in Washington had already stalled the president’s agenda and put the 113th Congress on track to become another one of the young 21st century’s already-legendary do-nothing bodies.
Most of what a president can accomplish takes place early in a term. But as Republican communications pros are fond of reminding reporters, Obama’s second term was already off to a rocky start.
Read the depressing details at the link if you dare.
Now what’s on your reading list this morning? Please share your links–on any topic–in the comment thread, and have a fabulous Saturday morning!!
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.
If you do leave your house with a pressure cooker, you could be surrounded by FBI agents in an instant!
First let me clarify that this is not satire. This isn’t from The Onion, it’s from The Detroit News:
Federal agents arrested a suspicious traveler with an altered Saudi Arabian passport at Detroit Metro Airport over the weekend after discovering a pressure cooker in his luggage.
According to a criminal complaint filed today in U.S. District Court, the passenger, Hussain Al Khawahir arrived at Detroit Metro on Friday from Saudi Arabia via Amersterdam. He had a visa and a Saudi Arabian passport, and told officers in the baggage control area that he would be visiting his nephew at the University of Toledo, the complaint said.
In the baggage area, two customs officers interviewed the passenger and noticed a page had been removed form the man’s passport, the complaint said. The man said that he did not know how the page was removed form the passport, and stated that the passport was locked in a box that only he, his wife and three minor children have access to in his home, the complaint said. His hometown was not listed in court documents.
While at the airport, customs and border officials also examined his luggage and found a pressure cooker inside. When questioned about it, the man initially said that he brought the pressure cooker for his nephew because pressure cookers are not sold in Saudi Arabia, the complaint said. The man then changed his story and admitted his nephew had purchased a pressure cooker in America before, but it “was cheap” and broke after the first use.
So basically, he was arrested for lying about why he had a pressure cooker in his luggage. He couldn’t possibly have been so flustered by what happened that he couldn’t think of what to say, right? Obviously, he must be a dangerous “terrorist” carrying one pressure cooker into the country to make a bomb. Because no one sells pressure cookers in the U.S., right? So is he part of a terrorist “cell” that brings pressure cookers into the country one at a time for some future plot?
At least they read the guy his rights, according to the article.
Of course the hysteria stems from the Boston Marathon bombings in April in which pressure cooker bombs were used.
Here’s a little more information:
Hussain Al Kwawahir appeared for a brief hearing at 1 p.m. in federal court on charges he allegedly used an altered passport and lied to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agent about the pressure cooker.
It was unclear Monday whether his arrest is terrorism related or a misunderstanding. But the prosecutor handling the case is Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel, who prosecuted the terror case against underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
No one has told his court-appointed lawyer anything either.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade declined comment on the particulars of the case or whether there are any links to terrorism.
“We never want to jump to conclusions and read more into a situation than is there, but we want to make sure all cases are fully investigated to protect the public,” McQuade said.
Don’t these people have anything better to do? We have children shooting each other with guns all over the country, but they’re worried about cooking equipment. What if I order a pressure cooker on Amazon? Will the FBI come to my house and question me? Don’t worry, I’m not taking that chance.
This story follows on a previous one–also in Michigan–in which a Saudi student cooked rice in his pressure cooker and was carrying it over to his next door neighbor’s house when other neighbors freaked out and called the FBI. From The Daily Mail: FBI surrounds house of Saudi student after sightings of him with pressure cooker pot – only to discover he was cooking RICE.
A Saudi student living in Michigan was questioned in his home by FBI agents after neighbours saw him carrying a pressure cooker and called the police.
Talal al Rouki had been cooking a traditional Saudi Arabian rice dish called kabsah and was carrying it to a friend’s house.
According to reports in a Saudi newspaper on Friday, the FBI are increasingly vigilant about ‘pressure cooker’ home-made bombs after the Boston bombers used one to make an explosive….
The young student showed them his pressure cooker and explained to them he used to make a rice dish.
An FBI agent said: ‘You need to be more careful moving around with such things, Sir’
So watch out! If you’re going to take a meal to a sick friend or an elderly neighbor, for heaven’s sake use a transparent glass casserole dish so the “authorities” can see what you’re carrying. Especially if you happen to be a brown person or have a foreign accent, of course.
I guess we can expect a long string of pressure cooker arrests, while Congress refuses to vote for background checks on gun sales and Americans continue to kill and maim each other with firearms on a daily basis.
I only wish this were a joke.
Could there be a less appropriate advocate for U.S. intervention in Syria than Bill Keller, Judith Miller’s editor at The New York Times during the runup to the disastrous war in Iraq?
Has this man ever been right about anything? Remember when he told us the baby boomers were responsible for the fiscal crisis and we should give up our hopes of a dignified old age because our selfishness has caused the U.S. to have “a less-skilled work force, lower rates of job creation, and an infrastructure unfit for a 21st-century economy”? Because obviously the costs of the Iraq war had nothing to do with the country’s current economic troubles.
Today Keller had the unmitigated gall to lecture us about the need to get involved in Syria. He isn’t really sure what we should do, but he’s positive we need to do it and he has a list of reasons why getting into another war in the Middle East is the right thing to do.
Of course even the monumentally “entitled” Bill Keller understands that lots of people are going to read his op-ed and respond by either screaming bloody murder or laughing hysterically at the spectacle of one of the architects of the Iraq War having the nerve to pontificate about another obviously insane foreign adventure.
So he tries to convince us that this time it’s different: “Syria is not Iraq,” he says.
Of course, there are important lessons to be drawn from our sad experience in Iraq: Be clear about America’s national interest. Be skeptical of the intelligence. Be careful whom you trust. Consider the limits of military power. Never go into a crisis, especially one in the Middle East, expecting a cakewalk.
But in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarged tragedy.
“Be careful whom you trust,” he warns. Then why would we trust the man who allowed a once-great newspaper to be given over to neo-conservative enablers like Judith Miller and Michael Gordon who lapped up and printed every lie the Bush White House fed them?
But Keller brushes our doubts aside and offers four reasons why Syria is different from Iraq. But some of his arguments sound awfully familiar to me.
First, we have a genuine, imperiled national interest, not just a fabricated one. A failed Syria creates another haven for terrorists, a danger to neighbors who are all American allies, and the threat of metastasizing Sunni-Shiite sectarian war across a volatile and vital region. “We cannot tolerate a Somalia next door to Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey,” said Vali Nasr, who since leaving the Obama foreign-policy team in 2011 has become one of its most incisive critics. Nor, he adds, can we afford to let the Iranians, the North Koreans and the Chinese conclude from our attitude that we are turning inward, becoming, as the title of Nasr’s new book puts it, “The Dispensable Nation.”
Weren’t we trying to keep Iraq from being a “haven for terrorists” too? And weren’t the neo-cons afraid of having the U.S. be perceived as weak?
Second, in Iraq our invasion unleashed a sectarian war. In Syria, it is already well under way.
This one is just ridiculous. We should invade because things are already worse than when we invaded Iraq?
Third, we have options that do not include putting American troops on the ground, a step nobody favors. None of the options are risk-free. Arming some subset of the rebels does not necessarily buy us influence. The much-touted no-fly zone would put American pilots in range of Syrian air defenses. Sending missiles to destroy Assad’s air force and Scud emplacements, which would provide some protection for civilians and operating room for the rebels, carries a danger of mission creep. But, as Joseph Holliday, a Syria analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, points out, what gets lost in these calculations is the potentially dire cost of doing nothing. That includes the danger that if we stay away now, we will get drawn in later (and bigger), when, for example, a desperate Assad drops Sarin on a Damascus suburb, or when Jordan collapses under the weight of Syrian refugees.
Huh? This one starts out sounding like an argument for staying out of Syria, so Keller throws in one of the neo-con arguments for invading Iraq–things could get worse if we don’t go in. Remember the warnings about “smoking guns” becoming “mushroom clouds?”
Fourth, in Iraq we had to cajole and bamboozle the world into joining our cause. This time we have allies waiting for us to step up and lead. Israel, out of its own interest, seems to have given up waiting.
What kind of argument is that? We should get into a war just because our “allies” want us to “lead?” Meaning they want us to provide the money and manpower.
Sorry, I’m just not convinced. Let the other guys do it for a change. If Israel wants to go to war in Syria, let them. In fact, let Bill Keller go if he’s so gung ho. Maybe he can convince some of his superrich pals to go along with him.
And what do you know? Along with Keller, Judy Miller’s old partner Michael Gordon, who still has his job at the Times, and has been writing story after story pushing U.S. involvement in Syria–as has op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman (I can’t provide links right now because I don’t seem to be able to circumvent the paywall). But here’s Greg Mitchell at The Nation:
Hail, hail, the gang’s nearly all here. Michael Gordon, Thomas Friedman, now Bill Keller. Paging Judy Miller! The New York Times in recent days on its front page and at top of its site has been promoting the meme of Syria regime as chemical weapons abuser, thereby pushing Obama to jump over his “red line” and bomb or otherwise attack there. Tom Friedman weighed in Sunday by calling for an international force to occupy the entire country (surely they would only need to stay one Friedman Unit, or six months).
Now, after this weekend’s Israeli warplane assaults, the threat grows even more dire.
And Bill Keller, the self-derided “reluctant hawk” on invading Iraq in 2003, returns with a column today stating right in its headline, “Syria Is Not Iraq,” and urging Obama and all of us to finally “get over Iraq.” He boasts that he has.
The Times in its news pages, via Sanger, Gordon and Jodi Rudoren, has been highlighting claims of Syria’s use of chem agents for quite some time, highlighted by last week’s top story swallowing nearly whole the latest Israeli claims.
Please go read the rest. Michell makes much more coherent arguments than I can. I’m still just sputtering from rage and trying to keep from banging my head on my keyboard.
I realize Chris Matthews is famous for coming out with bizarre remarks, but this one just might take the cake. On Wednesday night’s edition of Hardball, Matthews was interviewing Andrea Mitchell about Hillary Clinton’s political prospects. This was in the context of a discussion about Hillary’s speech at the Vital Voices Awards on Tuesday night. Vital Voices is an organization that Hillary co-founded with Madeline Albright in 1997.
Matthews’ blunders began when he welcomed Mitchell by saying, “You’re one of the great feminists of your time, but you don’t push it.”
Mitchell said that many women, including her 95-year-old mother want to see Hillary win the presidency–want to see a woman in the White House. Nevertheless she noted that Joe Biden was also on-stage with Hillary at the event and got a very good reception.
Mitchell said that Biden, in particular, has “street cred” with women because of his advocacy for women on many fronts, including the Violence Against Women Act. In his speech on Tuesday, Biden called it the “ultimate abuse of power” for a man to strike a woman or a child.
At this point Matthew went completely off the rails. He actually asked Mitchell if “wife beating” is “something women really worry about.”
Here’s the transcript of the interaction from Real Clear Politics.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Is that close to the bone, the idea of wife beating some old — or beaters?
ANDREA MITCHELL: That was part of it.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, but is that something that women really worry about –
MATTHEWS: — men being brutal?
MITCHELL: The Violence Against Women Act –
MATTHEWS: At home? In the home?
MITCHELL: Yes, domestic violence.
You have to listen to Matthews’ tone of voice to understand how outrageous this was. He sounded incredulous. Unfortunately I couldn’t embed the video, but you can watch it at RCP. How Andrea Mitchell remained calm through all this, I can’t imagine. I really have to hand it to her. I think I would have been tempted to start screaming and keep screaming until NBC security dragged me off the set.
I hope someone sits Matthews down and forces him to read some of the statistics on violence against women–most of which takes place within families or romantic relationships. Here is some basic stats from DomesticViolenceStatistics.org:
Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
And here is some more in-depth information from the American Bar Association.
Is Chris Matthews getting senile? Either that or he is so completely ignorant that he should retire immediately or be fired.