Thursday Reads: Benghazi and Violence in Israel


Good Morning!!

Hillary Clinton will testify before Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi “special committee” today, beginning at 10AM. I’m going to watch as much of the testimony as I can. If you’re watching too, please post your reactions in the comment thread. Unfortunately for Gowdy and the other GOP mutants on the joke of a committee, even the corporate media isn’t taking them seriously anymore.

From US News and World Report: The Gowdy Doody Show. Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the Benghazi Committee recalls less Watergate than Whitewater, by James Warren.

Yes, boy[s] and girls, it’s Gowdy Doody Time.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, on Thursday gavels to likely disorder the long awaited House select committee hearing on Benghazi, the latest in the rich tradition of congressional spectacles that often go nowhere.

Indeed, America had far more positive anticipation when “Buffalo Bob” Smith led a cheering throng of kids in the theme song of “Howdy Doody,” a 1950s mega-TV hit named after a puppet with 48 freckles (yes, civics mavens, this was before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union)….

The investigation started as a dissection of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks by Islamic militants on two U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died.

We’ve paid for nine different congressional and internal probes and Gowdy’s has morphed into a look at Clinton’s emails and her use of a private email server while secretary of state. Its work alone has cost about $4.6 million – if only such GOP ardor was exhibited in pursuing President George W. Bush’s weapons of mass destruction claims against Saddam Hussein – even though it hasn’t even interviewed most of the defense, intelligence and White House officials it promised.

Instead, it is primed to take testimony from a small army that includes Clinton, speechwriters and the guy who oversaw the server.

Gowdy and his Hillary-suspicious Republicans are so sensitive to the claim of political pandering that they have strategized privately about their own decorum and presenting themselves as sober legislators. It’s like my 6-year-old prior to his first-grade class going to a suburban Chicago pumpkin patch Monday: Everybody promised to be on their best behavior on the bus.

More at US News.

House Select Committee on Benghazi chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

House Select Committee on Benghazi chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Yesterday commenter Sara posted a link to an excellent Newsweek opinion piece by Kurt Eichenwald: Benghazi Biopsy: A Comprehensive Guide to One of America’s Worst Political Outrages.

Moussa Koussa.

That is the name of the “classified source” in an old email from Hillary Clinton released last week by Republicans purportedly investigating the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Under the instructions of the Benghazi committee’s chairman, Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Koussa’s name was blacked-out on the publicly issued email, as Republicans proclaimed revealing his identity would compromise national security. The media ran with it, saying Clinton had sent classified information through her personal email account.

But the CIA never said the name was secret. Nor did the Defense Intelligence Agency or the FBI. No, Koussa’s role as an intelligence source is about as classified as this column. He is the former intelligence chief and foreign minister of Libya. In 2011, he fled that country for Great Britain, where he provided boodles of information to MI6 and the CIA. Documents released long ago show Koussa’s cooperation. Government officials have openly discussed it. His name appears in newspapers with casual discussions about his assistance. Sanctions by the British and the Americans against Koussa were lifted because of his help, and he moved to Qatar. All of that is publicly known.

But, as they have time and again, the Republicans on the Benghazi committee released deceitful information for what was undoubtedly part of a campaign—as Kevin McCarthy of the House Republican leadership has admitted—to drive down Clinton’s poll numbers. Republicans have implied—and some journalists have flatly stated—that Clinton was reckless and may have broken the law by sending an email that included thirdhand hearsay mentioning Koussa’s name. The reality is that the Republicans continue to be reckless with the truth.

Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa

Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa

And why is this such an outrage?

The historical significance of this moment can hardly be overstated, and it seems many Republicans, Democrats and members of the media don’t fully understand the magnitude of what is taking place. The awesome power of government—one that allows officials to pore through almost anything they demand and compel anyone to talk or suffer the shame of taking the Fifth Amendment—has been unleashed for purely political purposes. It is impossible to review what the Benghazi committee has done as anything other than taxpayer-funded political research of the opposing party’s leading candidate for president. Comparisons from America’s past are rare. Richard Nixon’s attempts to use the IRS to investigate his perceived enemies come to mind. So does Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting during the 1950s, with reckless accusations of treason leveled at members of the State Department, military generals and even the secretary of the Army. But the modern McCarthys of the Benghazi committee cannot perform this political theater on their own—they depend on reporters to aid in the attempts to use government for the purpose of destroying others with bogus “scoops” ladled out by members of Congress and their staffs. These journalists will almost certainly join the legions of shamed reporters of the McCarthy era as it becomes increasingly clear they are enablers of an obscene attempt to undermine the electoral process.

The consequences, however, are worse than the manipulation of the electoral process. By using Benghazi for political advantage, the Republicans have communicated to global militants that, through even limited attacks involving relatively few casualties, they can potentially influence the direction of American elections. The Republicans sent that same message after the Boston Marathon bombing, where they condemned Obama for failing to—illegally—send the American perpetrators to Guantánamo, among other things. They slammed the president because federal law enforcement agents read the failed underwear bomber his rights after they arrested him in 2009. Never mind that federal agents did the exact same thing under President George W. Bush when they arrested the failed shoe bomber years earlier. Republicans even lambasted Obama when he spoke about ISIS decapitating journalists, saying the president did not sound angry enough.

Please read the rest at Newsweek.

J.J. wanted me to call attention to another outrageous story that has been somewhat overshadowed by the political goings on in the U.S. this week.

1414097812uWashington Post: Netanyahu says a Palestinian gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust.

Jerusalem – In a speech here Tuesday evening, Netanyahu sought to explain the surge in violence in Israel and the West Bank by reaching for historical antecedents. He said that Jews living in what was then British Palestine faced many attacks in 1920, 1921 and 1929 — all instigated by the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who allied himself with the Nazis during World War II.

Then Netanyahu dropped his bombshell. He said: “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time; he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”

Netanyahu, the son of a historian, said the mufti played “a central role in fomenting the Final Solution,” as the Nazis termed their plan to exterminate the Jews.

The remarks were made in a speech to the World Zionist Congress about “the 10 big lies” told by Palestinians and their backers.

As supporters of the Israeli leader wondered what he was doing, his critics said that his claims were outrageous enough to give cover to Holocaust deniers.

The speech came on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to Germany. After Netanyahu’s outrageous claim, Angela Merkel chided him, saying that Germans know that the “final solution” was a German plan. Time Magazine reports:

“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor, according to the Independent. “This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten and I see no reason to change our view of history in any way.”


From The Daily Beast: What Benjamin Netanyahu’s Insane Holocaust Claim Really Means.

It was factually wrong and morally outrageous for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say that a Palestinian mufti gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust. Almost the entire mainstream of historians, scholars, and politicians has now said so.

The question, though, is why he did it—and the answer is that it was an unintentional, Romney-47%-moment at which a commonplace partisan lie is suddenly revealed to the world. In Romney’s case, it was the Republican talking point that half of America depends on government welfare. In Netanyahu’s, it’s that the Israel/Palestine conflict is actually a result of Arab anti-Semitism.

Why did Netanyahu do it?

First, Netanyahu’s remarks were off the cuff. The transcript of his speech at the 37th Zionist Congress makes that clear. The entire speech was conversational in tone, with corrections and colloquialisms, and the particular reference to al-Husseini was an aside.

Its context was Netanyahu talking about the “big lie” that the Israeli government is seeking to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque—which is indeed a big lie spread widely on pro-Palestine social media. In that context, he mentioned that al-Husseini had told a similar lie in the 1920s, and by the way, al-Husseini supported the Holocaust too.

It was an aside within an aside. But precisely because it was off the cuff, it offers a valuable peek behind the curtain of Israeli nationalist ideology.

Like Romney’s comment about the 47%, comments like Netanyahu’s are made all the time on the Israeli Right. They’re meant for domestic consumption, to inspire the nationalist base. The Arabs hate us, anti-Zionism is just anti-Semitism, and most importantly, the Intifada is about Jew-hatred, not resistance to the occupation.

Haptom Zerhom, shot by police and then lynched.

Haptom Zerhom, shot by police and then lynched.

Meanwhile, in Israel hatred of Palestinians is festering. From the World Socialist Website: Israel: Racist mob lynches migrant as violence intensifies.

An angry Jewish mob lynched an unarmed Eritrean migrant worker in the southern city of Beer Sheba after an Israeli security guard repeatedly shot him on Sunday. The crowd cursed and kicked him, chanting, “Death to Arabs!” “Arabs out!” and “Am Israel Hai!” (“The people of Israel still live”).

The murder underscores the noxious atmosphere of xenophobia, racism and fear that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has stoked up in a bid to deflect rising social discontent among Jewish Israelis, whose living conditions are in many cases only marginally better than those of the Palestinians. At the last elections, Netanyahu urged Jewish Israelis to vote, saying that “swarms of Arabs” were going to the polling stations.

Ultra-nationalist Jewish politicians have encouraged the mobilisation of vigilante groups and fascistic mobs that go on the rampage while the police stand and watch. Settler gangs that murder Palestinians and attack and destroy their property go unpunished. Now, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has openly encouraged Jewish Israelis to arm themselves and take vigilante action.

The Eritrean, 29-year-old Haptom Zerhom, had been working as a gardener in a plant nursery in a village near Beer Sheba for the last three years. He was on his way to collect his renewed work visa when 21-year-old Muhannad al-Okbi, a Bedouin Israeli, shot and killed an Israeli soldier and wounded 10 others, including four police officers, at Beer Sheba’s central bus station.

The police shot al-Okbi and then shot Zerhom, believing him to be al-Okbi’s accomplice. As Yedioth Ahronoth’s headline made clear, Zerhom was shot “Just because of his skin colour.”
As Zerhom came under attack from the mob, a bystander found his visa and held it up, shouting, “He’s Eritrean, he’s not a terrorist.”

No one heard him above the melee and Zerhom died of his injuries.

Shades of the Old South.

Finally, from Black Agenda Report: Black Lives Don’t Matter in Israel.

If you want to observe a racist lynch mob, go to Israel, the “world’s worst apartheid state.” After being shot by police, an innocent Eritrean immigrant was pursued by an Israeli mob that “kicked him, threw chairs and benches at his head and shouted ‘son of a whore,’ ‘break his head’ and more to the point, ‘Kill him!’” But of course, no one will be punished, and the U.S. Black Misleadership Class will say nothing.

The United States does not have a monopoly on the lynch law murder of black people. Israel, both America’s client state and master, is awash in racist state-sponsored violence. Palestinians are usually the intended targets, but Africans are inevitably caught in this terrorism too. The mob murder of Mulu Habtom Zerhom reveals everything that the world needs to know about Israeli apartheid and the settler mentality which it exemplifies.

Zerhom was an Eritrean asylum seeker living in Israel, confined to one of the camps used to hold Africans. He was at a bus station where a Bedouin man shot an Israeli soldier. Zerhom was trying to flee but was himself shot by the police. Video footage shows him lying bleeding and incapacitated as a mob of Israelis kicked him, threw chairs and benches at his head and shouted “son of a whore,” “break his head” and more to the point, “Kill him!”

Unbelievable! Will the U.S. corporate media follow up on this story? Stay tuned.

This is an open thread. Please feel free to comment on any topic or post your comments on the Benghazi hearings.

Tuesday Reads: Benghazi Will Never Die and Other News

John Cole / Scranton Times Tribune

John Cole / Scranton Times Tribune

Good Morning!!

I’m getting a very late start this morning because of some computer problems, but as far as I can tell, Joe Biden is still playing games with the press corps. I suppose that could go on for at least the rest of the week, since Hillary is testifying before the Benghazi! Committee on Thursday. I doubt if she will suddenly implode, but apparently Biden is hoping for a major meltdown of some kind.

Last night Rachel Maddow announced that she will be interviewing Hillary on her Friday show, so that should be interesting. Meanwhile, ABC News was forced to admit that Hillary’s poll numbers have gone up against both Bernie Sanders and Biden, according to their latest survey of voters.

Hillary Clinton has followed a successful debate performance by rebounding in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, regaining ground against Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden alike.

With anticipation surrounding Biden at a peak, Clinton has 54 percent support in interviews Thursday through Sunday, compared with Sanders’ 23 percent and Biden’s 16 percent. That’s 12 percentage points better for Clinton than her position a month ago, bringing her halfway back to her level of support in the spring and summer, before her September stumble.


In anticipation of Hillary’s testimony on Thursday, Democratic members of the Benghazi “special committee” released a 146-page report detailing the results of the investigation so far from their point of view. CBS News: Democrats: Benghazi committee interviews discredit GOP claims about Clinton.

“This report shows that no witnesses we interviewed substantiated these wild Republican conspiracy theories about Secretary Clinton and Benghazi. It’s time to bring this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition to an end,” Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said in a statement accompanying the 146-page report.

Following through on a recent threat, the Democrats released excerpts from the panel’s 54 interviews, but still called on Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, to release full transcripts and depositions….

Based on 54 interviews, the Democrats said the committee found no evidence that Clinton ordered the military to stand down on the night of the attacks, no evidence she personally approved a reduction in security before the attacks and no evidence Clinton or her aides oversaw an operation to scrub or destroy documents related to Benghazi, among other findings.

Documents obtained by the committee confirmed Clinton’s earlier testimony about her actions that night, the report said, as did the interviews with Mills and Sullivan.

Many more details at the link.

Pat Bagley / Salt Lake Tribune

Pat Bagley / Salt Lake Tribune


As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, the Benghazi committee is falling about anyway, thanks to the stupidity of its chairman Trey Gowdy. At The New Republic, Brian Beutler writes: The Benghazi Witch-Hunt Against Hillary Is Backfiring Just Like Bill Clinton’s Impeachment.

When the committee began to drift from its nominal investigative purpose—the 2012 attack on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed—and focus on unrelated aspects of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state from 2009-2013, it invited comparisons to the GOP-led fishing expeditions of the 1990s, which culminated in the partisan impeachment of President Bill Clinton, and discredited his leading critics.

The comparison became inescapable this weekend, when the top Democrat on the Benghazi committee revealed that its Republican chairman, Trey Gowdy, had fabricated a redaction to Clinton’s emails to make it look like she’d endangered a spy, and the CIA had busted her. Gowdy even mimicked intelligence community vernacular, designating the redaction as undertaken to protect “sources and methods,” without disclosing that he was the redactor or that the CIA had cleared the name he redacted for release.

This flagrant misconduct has barely pierced the consciousness of the political scribes who have treated every selective Benghazi leak with as much credulity and legitimacy as lower-fanfare congressional investigations, even after their media peers have been burned—repeatedly—by intentionally deceptive leaks. Conservatives, too, are ignoring or brushing off the impropriety. But Benghazi committee errors are piling up so rapidly, and timed so impeccably for Hillary Clinton’s public testimony before the committee this Thursday, that it seems for once like Republicans might tamp down on the Hillary misdirection of their own volition, much as they did in the 1990s when a similarly unfocused obsession with the Clintons damaged their party.

Back in 1998, House Republican leaders had to dial back an investigation into the Clintons’ campaign finance practices after then-oversight committee chairman Dan Burton tried to hoodwink the press with heavily edited transcripts meant to implicate Hillary. That botched operation forced Burton to fire his top aide David Bossie, who went on to become president of Citizens United, and prompted an angry backlash from Speaker Newt Gingrich on behalf of an embarrassed Republican conference.

The recent blows to the Benghazi committee’s self-styled credibility are at least as severe, beginning with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s admission that Republicans empaneled it to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, running through well-substantiated allegations that Republicans have been using committee resources to investigate Clinton at the expense of the actual attacks on the U.S. facility in Libya.

I am sooooooo looking forward to Hillary’s appearance on Thursday!

Chris Britt / Creators Syndicate

Chris Britt / Creators Syndicate

According to CNN, Jim Webb will hold a press conference today to announce he is dropping out of the Democratic primary race and that he does not plan to run as an independent.

Jim Webb will end his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination at a press conference Tuesday, according to two sources with knowledge of the decision.

The former Virginia senator who launched a longshot presidential bid earlier this year is considering an independent run, according to his campaign. Craig Crawford, Webb’s spokesman, declined to comment on whether the senator was dropping out of the Democratic race, however.

“Jim will have the first word at 1 p.m.,” Crawford said, referring to the senator’s press conference at the National Press Club in Washington.

After a prolonged exploration of a presidential bid, Webb used an more than 2,000-word blog post to announce his run.

His campaign, however, never really got off the ground and was seen by even some close Webb aides as more of a vanity play than an actual presidential bid. In total, Webb spent four days campaigning in New Hampshire and 20 days in Iowa, far fewer than the senator’s challengers.

Webb also expressed outright frustration with the Democratic Party during his run, questioning their strategy and the support they were providing him. During the first Democratic debate earlier this month, Webb spent considerable time complaining about the amount of time he was given to speak.

John Darkow / Columbia (Missour) Times Tribune

John Darkow / Columbia (Missour) Times Tribune

On the Republican side, Carly Fiorina is struggling and Donald Trump and Ben Carson are still running neck and neck. Politico reports: Fiorina’s support collapses, Trump leads in CNN poll.

Carly Fiorina’s time near the top of the Republican polls may have come to an end, as another national CNN/ORC poll out Tuesday suggests. Just 4 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning voters said they would cast their votes for her in a primary election, down from 15 percent in September.

Overall, Donald Trump led the field with 27 percent, followed again by Ben Carson with 22 percent, up 8 points from last month’s survey. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio each earned 8 percent, followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 5 percent. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Fiorina pulled in 4 percent, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich earned 3 percent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum 2 percent and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham 1 percent.

Appearing later in the morning on CNN’s “New Day,” Trump commented that he and Carson have both “hit a chord” in the electorate.

The crazy chord?
Tom Toles / Washington Post

Tom Toles / Washington Post

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush is continuing to do extremely poorly in the polls. His latest problem stems from his repeated claim that “My brother kept us safe.” Donald Trump pointed out that Jeb’s brother George W. was actually president when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. That simple statement of fact sent Republican to the fainting couch where they accused Democrats of fomenting conspiracy theories. Yesterday, The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart wrote: Trump Is Right About 9/11. George W. Bush didn’t do all he could to prevent the attack—and it’s time Republicans confronted that fact.
[Trump’s] latest ugly truth came during a Bloomberg TV interview last Friday, when he said George W. Bush deserves responsibility for the fact that “the World Trade Center came down during his time.” Politicians and journalists erupted in indignation. Jeb Bush called Trump’s comments “pathetic.” Ben Carson dubbed them “ridiculous.”

Former Bush flack Ari Fleischer called Trump a 9/11 “truther.” Even Stephanie Ruhle, the Bloomberg anchor who asked the question, cried, “Hold on, you can’t blame George Bush for that.”

Oh yes, you can. There’s no way of knowing for sure if Bush could have stopped the September 11 attacks. But that’s not the right question. The right question is: Did Bush do everything he could reasonably have to stop them, given what he knew at the time? And he didn’t. It’s not even close.

When the Bush administration took office in January 2001, CIA Director George Tenet and National Security Council counterterrorism “czar” Richard Clarke both warned its incoming officials that al-Qaeda represented a grave threat. During a transition briefing early that month at Blair House, according to Bob Woodward’s Bush at War, Tenet and his deputy James Pavitt listed Osama bin Laden as one of America’s three most serious national-security challenges. That same month, Clarke presented National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice with a plan he had been working on since al-Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole the previous October. It called for freezing the network’s assets, closing affiliated charities, funneling money to the governments of Uzbekistan, the Philippines and Yemen to fight al-Qaeda cells in their country, initiating air strikes and covert operations against al-Qaeda sites in Afghanistan, and dramatically increasing aid to the Northern Alliance, which was battling al-Qaeda and the Taliban there.

But both Clarke and Tenet grew deeply frustrated by the way top Bush officials responded. Clarke recounts that when he briefed Rice about al-Qaeda, “her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term before.” On January 25, Clarke sent Rice a memo declaring that, “we urgently need…a Principals [Cabinet] level review on the al Qida [sic] network.” Instead, Clarke got a sub-cabinet, Deputies level, meeting in April, two months after the one on Iraq.

When that April meeting finally occurred, according to Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz objected that “I just don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.” Clarke responded that, “We are talking about a network of terrorist organizations called al-Qaeda, that happens to be led by bin Laden, and we are talking about that network because it and it alone poses an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” To which Wolfowitz replied, “Well, there are others that do as well, at least as much. Iraqi terrorism for example.”

By early summer, Clarke was so despondent that he asked to be reassigned. “This administration,” he later testified, “didn’t either believe me that there was an urgent problem or was unprepared to act as though there were an urgent problem.

And so on . . . we all know the story from the 9/11 committee hearings but you can read more about it at The Atlantic. Actually all Trump really said was that Bush was president when 9/11 happened. That’s pretty difficult to deny.

Interestingly, Andrew Kaczynsky points out that Trump actually predicted that something bad was likely to happen: “Over A Year Before 9/11, Trump Wrote Of Terror Threat With Remarkable Clarity.” Read about it at Buzzfeed. Finally, The Hill reports that the DNC is using Beinart’s story in The Atlantic to “bash” poor Jeb. I wonder how much longer he can keep going?

What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread and have a great day!

Monday Reads

htBC8It’s a beautiful fall day here in New Orleans!

We’re five days out from our state elections here in Louisiana and Diaper David Vitter with his proclivity for using prositutes is once again in the news.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned since giving up on my Republican voting status 20 years ago, it’s that sex scandals, religous venom, and lies are what drives today’s Republicans.  I’m going to start with the Vitter news and then move to a disgusting story about Trey Gowdy trying to frame former SOS Hillary Clinton for outing a CIA agent. It was pure sheninagans as usual for the S.C. Representative. Thank goodness that Rep. Elijah Cummings serves on the committee and tries to keep it honest!  Clinton is scheduled to appear before the Benghazi Witch Hunt Committee this week and the Republicans are eager to tank her candidacy.

So, Louisiana Blogger American Zombie who is most infamous for being the first to expose former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s corruption has been on the hunt for Vitter liasons.  His first installment includes a new interview with Wendy Cortez who was the source of a Hustler interview some time ago.  This story has evolved over time but Jason Brad Berry says there’s more to come.  While many are now finding the story flawed,  I still think that more evidence is on the way.   Vitter showed up on the DC Madams list.  His phone log shows he actually called out for hookers while doing things on the Senate floor.  He’s also been shy coming to debates and having living audiences during his run for governor this year.

A married pro-life Republican senator has denied getting his mistress pregnant and asking her to have an abortion.

Senator David Vitter, who is running to become Governor of Louisiana, was sleeping with prostitute Wendy Ellis for three years, she claims, until she fell pregnant in 2000.

Ellis told the American Zombie blog site that she informed the senator the baby was his, but he refused to believe it and asked her to abort the child.

The senator furiously denied the allegations today, with his campaign saying the claims had ‘zero legitimacy’.

So yes, this would be another example of a “pro-life” republican once again applying double standards on when abortions should be legal and available.

vintage-halloween-pinup-anne-nagelHere’s Jason’s story and interview.

Here’s CenLamar–who has worked on stories with Jason–on why he thinks the story is unravelling.  I should probably tell you here that I know both Jason and Lamar.

On Saturday, with only a week left before Louisiana voters head to the polls to decide who will become their next governor, Jason Brad Berry of The American Zombie published a bombshell interview with Wendy Ellis, a former prostitute who once sold her story about hooking up with U.S. Sen. David Vitter to Hustler Magazine. Her story has changed, though, dramatically. Today, Ellis says that her relationship with Vitter was much more intimate and much more involved than she previously claimed. But most notably, Ellis now claims she was once pregnant with Vitter’s child and that Vitter, then a Congressman, asked her to get an abortion, which she refused to do. Sen. Vitter’s dalliances with prostitutes are well-known and documented, and his 2007 scandal involving the D.C. Madam has become a flashpoint in the current campaign. But Ellis’s sordid and heartbreaking story unravels completely upon close inspection. Wendy Ellis, also known as Wendy Williams, Wendy Yow, and Wendy Cortez, once served a portion of a ten-year prison sentence for a crime of dishonesty, and she has a track record of making outrageous claims about Sen. Vitter, claims the Senator has repeatedly denied.

To be sure, Sen. Vitter’s past invite people like Wendy Ellis into his orbit, and Louisiana voters should think long and hard about the distractions he would generate if elected governor.

But two wrongs don’t make a right. David Vitter, for all of his faults, is not an irredeemably terrible person simply because he used to pay people to have sex with him. That doesn’t automatically disqualify him from earning a decent living for his family, but it probably should disqualify him from representing Louisiana in the U.S. Senate and living, rent-free, in the Governor’s Mansion.

So, meanwhile, Trey Gowdy is showing exactly how trifling trifling can be.  However, this is likely illegal trifling and should bring in to question every piece of evidence the former prosecutor has ever introduced.

Trey Gowdy, the chair of the Select Committee on Benghazi, leveled a very serious charge against Hillary Clinton in an October 7 letter. Gowdy asserted that Hillary Clinton disclosed the name of CIA source in an email sent from her private server. Gowdy wrote that the information was “some of the most protected information in our intelligence community, the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but human lives.”

He should’ve checked with the CIA first.

But late Saturday night, a CIA official informed the committee that the agency does not view that email, among 127 previously undisclosed messages sent by Blumenthal to Clinton that the panel plans to release this week, as having any portions that need to be redacted because they include classified information.

The CIA finding prompted Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the panel’s ranking Democrat, to demand that Gowdy publicly apologize for his “irresponsible” allegation. It was, he charged in a letter released Sunday morning, further evidence that the GOP-led committee is making false charges “in order to attack Secretary Clinton for political reasons.”

Gowdy quickly responded in his own lengthy email, conceding the CIA did not seek any redactions in the Blumenthal email but maintaining that it may still have included information “that ordinarily would be considered highly sensitive.”

vintage-halloween-pinup-clara-bowRep. Cummings has been doing a lion’s share of work trying to keep that Committee honest. His website has information on the bogus charge.  Cummings has called on the Committee and Gowdy to apologize to SOS Clinton.

Meawhile, sweet irony rules in that the committee did out Dubya Bush and Tony Blair as war criminals somewhat inadvertantly.

Smoking gun emails reveal Blair’s ‘deal in blood’ with George Bush over Iraq war was forged a YEAR before the invasion had even started

  • Leaked White House memo shows former Prime Minister’s support for war at summit with U.S. President in 2002

  • Bombshell document shows Blair preparing to act as spin doctor for Bush, who was told ‘the UK will follow our lead’

  • Publicly, Blair still claimed to be looking for diplomatic solution – in direct contrast to email revelations

  • New light was shed on Bush-Blair relations by material disclosed by Hillary Clinton at the order of the U.S. courts

That committe has literally turned into the Keystone Cops. In trying to show Hillary Clinton is a bad person, they outed their last president as a war criminal.

The damning memo, from Secretary of State Colin Powell to President George Bush, was written on March 28, 2002, a week before Bush’s famous summit with Blair at his Crawford ranch in Texas.

In it, Powell tells Bush that Blair ‘will be with us’ on military action. Powell assures the President: ‘The UK will follow our lead’.

The disclosure is certain to lead for calls for Sir John Chilcot to reopen his inquiry into the Iraq War if, as is believed, he has not seen the Powell memo.

A second explosive memo from the same cache also reveals how Bush used ‘spies’ in the Labour Party to help him to manipulate British public opinion in favour of the war.

The documents, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, are part of a batch of secret emails held on the private server of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton which U.S. courts have forced her to reveal.

Former Tory Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: ‘The memos prove in explicit terms what many of us have believed all along: Tony Blair effectively agreed to act as a frontman for American foreign policy in advance of any decision by the House of Commons or the British Cabinet.

‘He was happy to launder George Bush’s policy on Iraq and sub-contract British foreign policy to another country without having the remotest ability to have any real influence over it. And in return for what?

‘For George Bush pretending Blair was a player on the world stage to impress voters in the UK when the Americans didn’t even believe it themselves’.

Davis was backed by a senior diplomat with close knowledge of Blair-Bush relations who said: ‘This memo shows beyond doubt for the first time Blair was committed to the Iraq War before he even set foot in Crawford.

‘And it shows how the Americans planned to make Blair look an equal partner in the special relationship to bolster his position in the UK.’

Blair’s spokesman insisted last night that Powell’s memo was ‘consistent with what he was saying publicly at the time’.

The former Prime Minister has always hotly denied the claim that the two men signed a deal ‘in blood’ at Crawford to embark on the war, which started on March 20, 2003.


Lastly, we have Joe Biden’s Presidential Campaign Hope/Death Watch on the agenda.  Another 48 hours to wait, folks!!!820351813905ea85ae8c5d7df1737a34

Joe Biden could finally be ready to jump into the presidential race. And soon.

Fox News reported Monday morning that the vice president is running.

Yeah, well, I certainly believe Fox News.

Anyway, I’m convinced the world’s gone mad, what about you?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads

 cat-readingGood Morning!!

Nepal has been rocked by 7.3 magnitude earthquake only a few weeks after the last one. From The LA Times:

Still reeling from last month’s devastating earthquake, Nepal was hammered again Tuesday by a magnitude 7.3 temblor that caused dozens more deaths, unleashed fresh landslides and brought down unsteady buildings.

By late afternoon, Nepal’s Home Affairs Ministry said at least 42 people were killed and more than 1,117 injured in the largest aftershock yet recorded from the 7.8 quake on April 25. Officials warned that the toll could rise.

The epicenter was about 47 miles northeast of the capital, Katmandu, near the Chinese border, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The April 25 quake, which killed more than 8,150 people, was centered in the mountains west of Katmandu.

The tremor struck just before 1 p.m. local time, sending residents of the capital scurrying into the open air for safety, and was followed by a series of smaller tremors that rattled nerves even further.

Within hours, new makeshift tents had begun popping up in parts of Katmandu as families that had survived the earlier quake and returned to their homes in recent days decided again they were safer sleeping outdoors.

The Hindu is publishing live updates from Reuters. They report multiple aftershocks. What a terrible tragedy! Obviously this is a developing story, and we’ll hear more throughout the day and in coming days.


I missed this important investigative article from the Baltimore Sun over the weekend: Freddie Gray among many suspects who do not get medical care from Baltimore police.

Records obtained by The Baltimore Sun show that city police often disregard or are oblivious to injuries and illnesses among people they apprehend — in fact, such cases occur by the thousands.

From June 2012 through April 2015, correctional officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center have refused to admit nearly 2,600 detainees who were in police custody, according to state records obtained through a Maryland Public Information Act request.

In those records, intake officers in Central Booking noted a wide variety of injuries, including fractured bones, facial trauma and hypertension. Of the detainees denied entry, 123 had visible head injuries, the third most common medical problem cited by jail officials, records show.

The jail records redacted the names of detainees, but a Sun investigation found similar problems among Baltimore residents and others who have made allegations of police brutality.e

Salahudeen Abdul-Aziz, who was awarded $170,000 by a jury in 2011, testified that he was arrested and transported to the Western District after being beaten by police and left with a broken nose, facial fracture and other injuries. Hours later, he went to Central Booking and then to Bon Secours Hospital, according to court records.

Abdul-Aziz said last week that jailers at Central Booking “wouldn’t let me in the door as soon as they saw my face. … I thought I was gonna die that day. Freddie Gray wasn’t so lucky.”

Read the rest at the Baltimore Sun link.


The Washington Post, which initially published leaks favorable to the Baltimore PD, published an editorial in response the the Sun article: Too much black and blue in Baltimore.

TWO OR three times a day on average, suspects in the custody of the Baltimore police are turned away by the city jail because they are deemed too battered, beaten, bruised or otherwise injured or sick to be processed and admitted. The police are forced to head instead for a hospital emergency room to seek treatment for suspects suffering from head injuries, broken bones, hypertension and an array of other afflictions.

The frequency of such occurrences was detailed over the weekend by the Baltimore Sun, which obtained records from the city’s detention center under the Maryland Public Information Act. According to those records, the jail has turned away nearly 2,600 ailing detainees since June 2012 — about 2 percent of all bookings.

That staggering figure suggests the Baltimore police are heedless, at best, of the physical welfare of suspects in their custody. It also may help explain how Freddie Gray could have pleaded for medical care at least five times after he was arrested last month before the officers who detained him bothered to summon a paramedic — by which time it was too late….

The police understand — and after 2,600 reaffirmations in three years, they should be acutely aware — that they are obliged to seek medical attention for suspects who are sick or injured before the jail will admit them. Yet somehow that obligation doesn’t seem institutionally ingrained in cops on the beat….

The Justice Department’s civil rights investigation of the city police, announced last week by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, should take account of these injured detainees, including the causes and circumstances of their injuries and whether police are adequately trained and instructed in assessing them. And it should examine whether African American suspects are more frequently hurt and denied prompt medical care than other detainees.


Journalists are still reacting to Seymour Hersh’s poorly sourced accusations that the Obama administration conspired with Pakistan to stage a fake raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound and then lied about it. Here are two I found this morning:

Lawfare: Hersh’s Account of the Bin Laden Raid is Journalistic Malpractice, by Yishai Schwartz

When a journalist writes a tell-all story about a classified operation, and he suspects the story will catalyze anti-American anger, provide fuel for terrorist groups, and cause severe friction with foreign governments, the act of publication is morally fraught. When the story is based on obscenely thin sourcing and careens into conspiracy theories, the decision to publish becomes indefensible.

Seymour Hersh has had a long and distinguished history as one of America’s finest investigative journalists. In recent years, he has gone a bit kooky. In 2011, for instance, he suggested that Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan, and the leadership of the US Joint Special Operations Forces were “all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.” His latest story, in which he claims that the entire story of Bin Laden’s killing is an elaborate cover-up for a joint Pakistani-American operation, may be his kookiest.

As many have already pointed out, Hersh’s version offers a combination of the inconsistent and the inexplicable. Why, for instance, would the Pakistanis help plan an elaborate raid, complete with a recall of Bin Laden’s Pakistani guards—rather than just hand Bin Laden over directly—if they always intended to claim he’d been killed in a drone strike hundreds of miles away? Worse, the key contentions rely on the exclusive word of one unnamed source who was a) retired, and b) on Hersh’s own account, only “knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.”

To be sure, there are scraps of Hersh’s hodgepodge narrative that may turn out to be true. That a CIA “walk-in” may have contributed to the intel leading to Bin Laden’s whereabouts, for instance, matches a tidbit that NBC has confirmed recently. And Hersh’s insistence that someone highly placed in the Pakistani intelligence services knew of Bin Laden’s presence has been pretty widely believed for a while. But leaping from these plausible and relatively minor details to the rest of the fantastic tale Hersh spins simply boggles the mind.

It’s unsurprising then that The New Yorker passed on the story (as it, along with the The Washington Post, have reportedly done with the last few of Hersh’s flights of fantasy.)

The London Review of Books, on the other hand, lacked the same degree of restraint. This is hardly surprising given the editorial leadership’s apparent lack of interest in fact-checking. As LRB senior editor Christian Lorentzen wrote in a 2012 piece suitably titled Short Cuts,” “the facts are the burden of the reporter…nobody at the paper fact-checks full time; that’s an American thing… I miss New York sometimes, but I don’t miss its schizophrenic obsession with facts, or the puritan hysteria that attends the discovery that a memoir should have been called a novel.” The LRB, it seems, takes pride in its sloppiness. Perhaps they have an editorial opening for Stephen Glass?

As a former fact-checker, I find the LRB’s approach part puzzling and part offensive. As a citizen who would like to form judgements and opinions on the basis of actual information, I’m horrified.

Wow! Read more at Lawfare Blog.


Politico: Sy Hersh, Lost in a Wilderness of Mirrors, by Jack Shafer.

Hersh leads the reader into a Wonderland of his own, thinly sourced retelling of the raid on Bin Laden’s complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan. According to Hersh, who cites American sources, “bin Laden had been a prisoner of the [Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency] at the Abbottabad compound since 2006” and his ISI captors eased the way for the American SEAL team to skip into Pakistan on their helicopters, kill the al Qaeda leader, and then skip out.

It’s a messy omelet of a piece that offers little of substance for readers or journalists who may want to verify its many claims. The Hersh piece can’t be refuted because there’s not enough solid material to refute. Like the government officials who spun the original flawed Abbottabad stories, he simply wants the reader to trust him.

Hersh’s piece quarrels with almost every aspect of the official story, asserting that much of it is cover designed to protect the Pakistanis who sold bin Laden out to the United States for military aid….
Hersh may very well be onto something—what did the Pakistanis know, when did they know it, and how much did they help? And that debate appears to be starting in earnest already, with NBC News quickly building off Hersh’s article. But Hersh’s potentially valid question on that subject is almost lost in the broad sweep of rolling back so many other stories and quibbling with effectively every known detail of one of the most thoroughly leaked secret operations in history.

By re-exploring the bin Laden operation, Hersh has thrust himself into the phenomenological territories that Cold War spymaster James Jesus Angleton called a “wilderness of mirrors.” In this clandestine world, truths are constructed, obliterated and bent to serve their masters. Adversaries who would deceive abound in this place, and without a reliable map, a compass, a sense of direction and maybe even a pedometer, even the most intrepid voyager (or journalist) can find himself lost. I’ll volunteer to join a search party for Hersh—somebody I’ve long admired—if only somebody can tell me precisely where he is.

Another harsh indictment. I expect “progressive” conspiracy theorists like Glenn Greenwald and Marcy Wheeler will attempt to keep this story alive, but it doesn’t seem to be getting much traction in either the mainstream media or the sane alternative media.



More interesting stories, links only:

At Politico, former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell recounts his Benghazi experiences: The Real Story of Benghazi. A CIA insider’s account of what happened on 9/11/12.

Pew Research Center, America’s Changing Religious Landscape. Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.

The Atlantic, American Religion: Complicated, Not Dead, by Emma Green.

Huffington Post, GOP Crowd Applauds Calling Immigrants Rats and Roaches, by Lauren Windsor.

Reuters, Verizon to buy AOL in push for digital content.

Fox News, Authorities say at least 7 victims found in Connecticut serial killer investigation.

NY Daily News: Connecticut serial killer already jailed for 2003 murder of still-missing woman: report.

What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!

Thursday Reads: Media Clutches Pearls, Takes to Fainting Couch, and Calls for Smelling Salts

 couch smelling saltsGood Morning!!

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.

Do the Democrats Need a Backup Plan for 2016?

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.

Top Biden backer: Hillary Clinton will ‘die by 1,000 cuts’ on e-mail story.

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.”

He wishes.

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:

Former State Department officials explain why the Clinton email ‘scandal’ is ridiculous.

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 with accounts,” 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?

Thursday Reads

 DogReadingGood Morning!!


I’m pretty wiped out this morning, so this won’t be an extensive post. My mom is doing okay, but she needs help with a lot of things. This morning we’re going to have to deal with the Comcast people. It would really help if she could watch TV or listen to the radio! This afternoon I have to take her to the doctor, and then we might have to go back to the emergency room to have them put on a looser splint. They told us to do that if the one she has starts to feel too tight. But enough of my problems; let’s see what’s in the news.

The Bowe Bergdahl story gets more disgraceful with each passing day. Last night, via Little Green Footballs, NBC News reported that officials in Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, had been

deluged with angry calls from people who think that Bergdahl is an Army deserter or traitor who doesn’t deserve a hero’s welcome.

Jane Drussel, the president of the Hailey Chamber of Commerce, has been fielding dozens of angry calls.

“Well, (I feel) disappointment number one, just absolutely total surprise at how bad some of them are,” she told NBC News on Tuesday….

Drussel said many of the calls are cancelling trips to the town of about 8,000.

“Well, number one is, how dare we as a community support someone who in their mind they’re thinking of as a ‘deserter,’ a traitor. That they had plans to come here on their vacation, they’re no longer coming, they’re cancelling their reservations.”

“I just find that shocking,” she said. “You know, we’re Americans, and we need to act like Americans, and to me that’s un-American. Let things play out, and if there needs to be action taken, I’m sure it will be taken. But that’s not the city of Hailey’s responsibility.”

As a consequence of the threatening calls, the town has cancelled the welcome home celebration they had been planning. According to the Washington Post, the reason for the cancellation is concern for “public safety.” The small town of 8,000 people simply can’t handle an event that might attract a large number of angry protesters.


The right wing focus on Bergdahl hasn’t kept them from carrying on the meme that Hillary Clinton is old and disabled. The former Secretary of State is pictured on the cover of People Magazine this week smiling broadly and holding onto a deck chair. But the inimitable Matt Drudge has a different theory. From Bob Cesca at the Daily Banter: Drudge Wonders if Hillary Clinton Used a Walker on People Magazine Cover.

Oh, Drudge, you magnificent bastard. There are very few right-wing trolls who are better than Matt Drudge at manufacturing an odious whisper campaign, and he didn’t disappoint today. Drudge posted the new People Magazine cover featuring Hillary Clinton, then wondered whether she was holding onto, wait for it, a walker. You know, like an old lady with brain damage. Wink, wink.

Of course he didn’t say it outright. He used the nefarious “Cavuto Mark” — a question mark at the end of a deliberately leading statement, made famous by Fox News Channel.

Yesterday afternoon, Reuters reported: Last of Navajo ‘code talkers’ dies in New Mexico.

The last of 29 Navajo Americans who developed an unbreakable code that helped Allied forces win the second World War died in New Mexico on Wednesday of kidney failure at the age of 93.

Chester Nez was the last remaining survivor of an original group of 29 Navajos recruited by the U.S. Marine Corps to create a code based on their language that the Japanese could not crack.

His son, Michael Nez, said his father died peacefully in his sleep at their home in Albuquerque….

About 400 code talkers would go on to use their unique battlefield cipher to encrypt messages sent from field telephones and radios throughout the Pacific theater during the war.

It was regarded as secure from Japanese military code breakers because the language was spoken only in the U.S. Southwest, was known by fewer than 30 non-Navajo people, and had no written form.

The Navajos’ skill, speed and accuracy under fire in ferocious battles from the Marshall Islands to Iwo Jima is credited with saving thousands of U.S. servicemen’s lives and helping shorten the war. Their work was celebrated in the 2002 movie “Windtalkers.”

May he rest in peace.


Despite all the controversy over her faulty reporting on Benghazi, Lara Logan is “back at work on CBS News’ 60 Minutes,” according The Hollywood Reporter.

The news ends a suspension that began last fall after an erroneous60 Minutes report on the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi that resulted in the death of AmbassadorChristopher Stevens and three other U.S. personnel. Logan had a handful of pieces in the works when she was suspended last November after her report that relied on a now-discredited interview with security contractor Dylan Davies.

She has been eager to return to work, say sources close to the correspondent, but the Benghazi report undermined her status as one of the veteran newsmagazine’s biggest stars and created a media feeding frenzy that unearthed a strident speech she gave a month after the Benghazi attacks in which she advocated for military intervention in Libya and asserted that the Obama administration was downplaying the threat from Al Qaeda.

At the time of her suspension last November, CBS News chairman and 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager told THR that the report was a “black eye” for the venerable newsmagazine, still the most watched of its genre.

A CBS News spokesperson confirmed that Logan has returned to work. 60 Minutes typically takes something of a production hiatus during the summer months, with new pieces sprinkled throughout a schedule that includes reruns and updates of previously aired segments. Logan likely will not be seen on60 Minutes until the fall, sources tell THR. But she’ll begin appearing on other CBS News broadcasts such as the CBS Evening News and CBS This Morning in the coming weeks.

I guess we already knew that CBS is no longer a serious news organization. This is just one more piece of confirming evidence.

From the Southern Poverty Law Center, Massive Investigation Uncovers White Supremacist Criminal Network in Oregon.

“Operation White Christmas,” as the year-old investigation is code-named, so far has resulted in the arrests of 54 individuals, mostly in the Portland area, leading to 11 criminal cases in state court and another 43 in federal court.

As for its scope, the investigation based in Portland and Multnomah County rivals the prosecutions of members of another violent gang, the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas.

The Oregon suspects variously are affiliated with at least five known street and prison white supremacist gangs – European Kindred (EK); Rude Crude Brood; All Ona Bitch (AOB); Fat Bitch Killers (FBK) and Insane Peckerwood Syndicate (IPS), authorities say.

“The scope of this case is by far the largest ever undertaken by this agency in recent memory, based on the number of suspects investigated, the number of persons arrested and the amount of guns recovered,” Lt. Ned Walls, the investigations division supervisor for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, told Hatewatch.

What initially began as an investigation of drug and firearms trafficking by white supremacist gangs blossomed into a broader probe of robberies, home invasions, burglaries, kidnapping, assaults, shootings and witness intimidation, Walls said. Some of the crimes involved gang-on-gang violence.

“The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office would have had an impossibly hard time trying to conduct this investigation on our own,” Walls said. The department, he said, got “outstanding collaborative” support and involvement from the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Clackamas and Washington County Sheriff’s Offices in Oregon, the Portland Police Bureau, the Gresham, Ore., Police Department, Klickitat County, Wash., Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

It’s good to know the Feds are seriously investigating right wing domestic terrorists, but it sounds like the investigation was initiated by local law enforcement.

A military plane crashed in a residential neighborhood in California yesterday afternoon.  From the AP, via the Visalia Times-Delta:

A Marine jet crashed into a residential area in a Southern California desert community Wednesday, exploding and setting two homes on fire. The pilot ejected safely, and there was no immediate word of any injuries on the ground.

The Harrier AV-8B went down at 4:20 p.m. in Imperial, a city of about 15,000 near the U.S.-Mexico border about 90 miles east of San Diego. Witnesses described an explosion and thick plumes of smoke.

“It felt like a bomb was thrown in the backyard of the house,” said Adriana Ramos, 45, whose home is less than a block from the crash scene. “The whole house moved.”

Ramos fled with her 4-year-old granddaughter and 10-year-old daughter, who both cried at the sight outside….]

At the crash site, there was chaos as people ran in every direction, he said. The two homes were on fire and it was unclear if anyone was inside.

The plane was from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona, said Cpl. Melissa Lee, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. She had no details about what might have caused the accident.

As of this morning, no injuries have been reported. You can see video of the scene at The Week Magazine.

I have a few more links for you that I’ll post in the comment thread, and I hope you’ll do the same. What stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads: The Blame Hillary Game; Russia’s Internet Crackdown, and “Religious Experiences”

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Good Morning!!


Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast (formerly of The American Conservative and Foreign Policy) is at it again. Not long ago, he caused an uproar by sneaking into a supposedly off-the-record meeting of the Trilateral Commission and secretly taping John Kerry saying that Israel is in danger of becoming an “apartheid state.” Not that there’s anything wrong with taping the remarks, but Rogin failed to note this fact in his subsequent reports. Instead he sourced the remarks to “an attendee” and “recording obtained by The Daily Beast.”

This morning Rogin has Hillary Clinton in his crosshairs: Hillary’s State Department Refused to Brand Boko Haram as Terrorists. Rogin’s point seems to be that Clinton is a hypocrite because since Nigerian group kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls, she has criticized them in no uncertain terms.

In the past week, Clinton, who made protecting women and girls a key pillar of her tenure at the State Department, has been a vocal advocate for the 200 Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, the loosely organized group of militants terrorizing northern Nigeria. Her May 4 tweet about the girls, using the hashtag #BringOurGirlsBack, was cited across the media and widely credited for raising awareness of their plight.

On Wednesday, Clinton said that the abduction of the girls by Boko Haram was “abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria.” Clinton said that as Secretary of State she had numerous meetings with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and had urged the Nigerian government to do more on counterterrorism.

What Clinton didn’t mention was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.

“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. “The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.”

Hillary Clinton condemns Nigerian kidnappings

Hillary Clinton condemns Nigerian kidnappings

Rogin goes on to quote numerous–some by name and some not–critics who essentially blame Clinton for the current situation. Rogin quotes these sources (largely Republicans) as saying that if Hillary had designated Boko Haram a terrorist group, the government would have been better able to cut them off from financial support and get other countries to do the same. Because of Hillary’s refusal to do this, according to Republican Patrick Meehan, chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, “We lost two years of increased scrutiny. The kind of support that is taking place now would have been in place two years ago.”  John Kerry did add Boko Haram to the terrorist list late last year.

Rogin admits that not everyone agrees that designating Boko Haram a terrorist group would have made that much difference. Sources told Rogin that other efforts were made to deal with the issue. Yesterday f0rmer Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson defended the decision.

“There was a concern that putting Boko Haram on the foreign terrorist list would in fact raise its profile, give it greater publicity, give it greater credibility, help in its recruitment, and also probably drive more assistance in its direction,” he said.

The U.S. has plenty of ways to assist the Nigerian government with counterterrorism even without designating Boko Haram, Carson said. The problem has long been that the Nigerian government doesn’t always want or accept the help the U.S. has offered over the years.

“There always has been a reluctance to accept our analysis of what the drivers causing the problems in the North and there is sometimes a rejection of the assistance that is offered to them,” Carson said. “None of that has anything to do with putting Boko Haram on the foreign terrorist list.”

This sounds like a partisan issue to me, but I admit to having zero knowledge of Boko Haram and State Department policies in general. Frankly, I suspect Josh Rogin is trying to make a name for himself by undermining Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Obama administration foreign policy in general. But then, I’m also a partisan.

 As for Hillary herself, she spoke to ABC News’ Robin Roberts yesterday: Hillary Clinton Calls Nigeria Kidnappings ‘An Act Of Terrorism.’ The occasion was a “philanthropy event” at the Ford Foundation in NYC. CNN provides more detail about Hillary’s remarks: Hillary Clinton faults Nigerian government’s handling of search for kidnapped girls.

The Nigerian government has been “somewhat derelict” in protecting their children, Hillary Clinton said Wednesday as international attention focused on schoolgirls kidnapped by a militant group.

“The seizure of these young women by this radical, extremist group, Boko Haram is abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria,” Clinton said, later adding that “the government of Nigeria has been in my view somewhat derelict in its responsibility toward protecting boy and girls, men and women in northern Nigeria over the last years.”

During her remarks at a philanthropy event in New York City, Clinton went on to say “the Nigerian government must accept help – particularly intelligence, surveillance and recognizance help – their troops have to be the ones that (are) necessary but they could do a better job if they accept the offers that are being made.”

The U.S. government has offered to help in the search for the schoolgirls. Officials have told CNN the Obama administration is sharing intelligence with Nigerian authorities and could provide other assistance, but there is no plan to send U.S. troops. Legislators on Capitol Hill have also called for the United States to do more to help the Nigerian government.

A little more from the talk:

“The Nigerian government has failed to confront the threat or to address the underlying challenges,” Clinton said of the kidnappings. “Most of all, the government of Nigeria needs to get serious about protecting all of its citizens… and ensuring the every child has the right and opportunity to go to school.”

Standing in front of high profile financiers and donors at the opulent Waldorf Astoria, Clinton went on to urge Nigerian citizens to hold their leaders accountable and implored religious leaders, Nigeria’s neighbors, the African Union and the international community to continue to stay involved in finding the schoolgirls.

“Every asset and expertise should be brought to bear,” Clinton said. “Everyone needs to see this for what it is, it is a gross human rights abuse but it is also part of a continuing struggle within Nigeria and within North Africa.”

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