Friday Reads: Perpetuating Lies, Hate, and Stereotypes

a8Happy Friday!!!

It’s coming up on the weekend here in Louisiana and we will be voting for Governor tomorrow.  It really, really looks like we will have a Blue Dog Democrat for governor. The polls are consistently showing Senator David Vitter losing the race.  You can tell how badly Vitter’s doing by the way his ads have gotten increasingly shameful on so many levels. They are full of lies, distortion, racism, and hate.  A number of Republicans from Vitter’s home parish and congressional district have come out in support of his Democratic opponent John Bel Edwards.  Edwards is not my idea of a Democratic candidate, but I’m firmly in the any one but Vitter column.  I will go to the polls tomorrow. The fact that Louisiana could be creeping back into the purple state category should be a lesson for many.  The fact the vitriol is not working should also.  Bel Edwards is dishing it right back out to him with a cherry on top.

Edwards is a Democrat, Vitter a Republican, and both are Catholics in a state with a strong evangelical presence—and a state that thrives on politics as blood sport. The central issue in this election campaign is a 2007 prostitution scandal that Vitter thought he had put behind him.

This election has become the dirtiest slug fest since the 1991 “race from hell” when Edwin Edwards (no kin to John Bel), though trailed by corruption scandals, won a record fourth term, crushing David Duke, the former Klan leader and closet Nazi. Both men later went to prison. Duke for mail fraud, Edwards for extortion tied to casino licenses. Such are the vagaries of democracy in the Bayou State.

The pivotal question this year is whether Edwards’s growing lead is a purely anti-Vitter phenomenon—and whether the senator is capable of reversing it. Vitter does possess samurai-level skills in slash-attack politics.

But a November 12 University of New Orleans (UNO) poll has Edwards at 54 percent, with a 22 point lead, gaining two points since the Tuesday debate.

A larger question looms: If the margin holds, does the Edwards surge signal a sputtering of the Republican Southern strategy that exploits racial division by demonizing President Obama?

Either way, if Edwards wins big, you can bet the car that Hillary Rodham Clinton will try to make him her new best friend.

A lawyer and West Point graduate who frequently cites the military academy’s honor code and touts himself as “pro-life and pro-gun,” Edwards is a blue dog Democrat—one of the last of the centrist-conservative Democrats, blue dogs being an endangered species in Congress and nearly extinct in statewide offices across the beef red South. But there is nothing cookie-cutter about Edwards’s views: Since taking his seat in the state legislature in 2006 and particularly since 2012, when he became state House minority leader, Edwards has spearheaded the opposition to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s deep cuts to higher education and his refusal to take Medicaid funds under Obamacare—to no avail.

The state race isn’t the only one where lies, distortion, racism, and vitriol is rampant. Donald Trump’s rhetoric is just the most overt example of

The U.S. has committed at least 15,000 combat troops and billions of dollars to extend the war of Afghanistan another 10 years, to 2024. Imagine what Americans would have thought if Bush had told them what was in store after 9/11.

The U.S. has committed at least 15,000 combat troops and billions of dollars to extend the war of Afghanistan another 10 years, to 2024. Imagine what Americans would have thought if Bush had told them what was in store after 9/11.

what’s left in the Republican Party.  His suggestion to keep a federal register of Muslims in the U.S. is rightly drawing comparisons to the registrations of Jewish populations in Hitler’s NAZI Germany.  I’m not one to appreciate the tendency of folks to Godwin but Trump has clearly jumped into the fascism part of the political spectrum and should be shamed.  Hillary tweeted condemnation of Trump’s suggestion yesterday and characterized his rhetoric as “shocking”.  She was joined by the other Democrats in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Hillary Clinton condemned Donald Trump’s call to require Muslims to register in a database, calling his idea “shocking.”

“This is shocking rhetoric. It should be denounced by all seeking to lead this country. –H,” she tweeted, linking to a New York Times story, quoting Trump as saying he’d “absolutely” require Muslims to do so.

In an interview with NBC news Thursday night, Trump was asked to clarify comments he had made to Yahoo News, saying he would not rule out such a registry for Muslims if he were president.

“Should there be a database system that tracks the Muslims in this country?” an NBC reporter asked Trump at an event in Newton, Iowa.

“There should be a lot of systems. Beyond database, we should have a lot of systems. And today, you can do it,” Trump said. “I would certainly implement that — absolutely.”

He said the database would stop people from coming into the United States illegally. And he could accomplish it with “good management procedures,” he said.

The other two Democratic presidential candidates also rebuked Trump.

Bernie Sanders called the statement “outrageous and bigoted.”

“What an outrageous and bigoted statement. @realDonaldTrump should be ashamed of himself,” the Vermont senator tweeted.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley addressed Trump’s comments Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“When you hear people like Donald Trump talking about wanting to do ID cards based on religion, what the hell is that? I mean, how is that at all American?” he asked.

capamericaEven Texas whackadoo Ted Cruz rejected the idea.  Cruz may be getting a whiff of doom for the Donald.

Ted Cruz on Friday disavowed Donald Trump’s support for requiring American Muslims register as such, a rare public break with the current GOP frontrunner.

“I’m a big fan of Donald Trump’s but I’m not a fan of government registries of American citizens,” he told reporters of a plan Trump said he backed a day earlier. “The First Amendment protects religious liberty, I’ve spent the past several decades defending religious liberty.”

Marco Rubio, however, has adopted similar over-the-top xenophobic and unconstitutional policy calling for a shut down of any place where Muslims might gather and be inspired.  This leaves Jeb Bush as the voice of reason in the little tent of horror.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) seems to be going further than even Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in advocating the crackdown of U.S. Muslims. He doesn’t just want to consider shutting down mosques, as Trump says, but wants to shut down “any place where radicals are being inspired.”

“It’s not about closing down mosques. It’s about closing down any place — whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site — any place where radicals are being inspired,” Rubio said on Fox News’ The Kelly File on Thursday night when asked if he agreed with Trump. “The bigger problem we have is our inability to find out where these places are, because we’ve crippled our intelligence programs, both through unauthorized disclosures by a traitor, in Edward Snowden, or by some of the things this president has put in place with the support even of some from my own party to diminish our intelligence capabilities.”

“So whatever facility is being used — it’s not just a mosque — any facility that’s being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States, should be a place that we look at,” he continued.

Trump first articulated potentially shutting down U.S. mosques on Monday during a call in to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, when hosts asked if he would consider doing the same thing France did and shut down U.S. mosques with direct terrorist ties. Trump said he would “strongly consider” it, then lamented NYPD shutting down its domestic surveillance program targeting Muslims in New York City. Later this week he suggested the U.S. would “absolutely” create a federal database of Muslimsif he were elected president.

Both Trump and Rubio could be putting forth these ideas because polling suggests that limiting rights of Muslims is popular with Republican voters. A poll released this week found that 25 percent of Rubio supporters liked the idea of shutting down U.S. mosques.

Meanwhile establishment candidate Jeb Bush has resisted targeting of U.S. mosques: “You talk about closing mosques, you talk about registering people, that’s just wrong …. it’s manipulating people’s angst and their fears. That’s not strength. That’s weakness.”

These are typical chicken hawks.  They speak of bombing everything in sight and the run in fear of widows and orphans and healthcare workersexflagtending to the Ebola stricken. Paul Krugman is quick to point to the right wing’s tendency to panic under infinitesimally small odds of bad things. His op ed today is focused on the Erick Erickson who is very high on my list of worst human being on the planet.

The French themselves are making a point of staying calm, indeed of going out to cafes to show that they refuse to be intimidated. But Mr. Erickson declared on his website that he won’t be going to see the new “Star Wars” movie on opening day, because “there are no metal detectors at American theaters.”

Lightsabers aside, are Mr. Erickson’s fears any sillier than those of the dozens of governors — almost all Republicans — who want to ban Syrian refugees from their states?
Mr. Obama certainly thinks they’re being ridiculous; he mocked politicians who claim that they’re so tough that they could stare down America’s enemies, but are “scared of widows and orphans.” (He was probably talking in particular about Chris Christie, who has said that he even wants to ban young children.) Again, the contrast with France, where President François Hollande has reaffirmed the nation’s willingness to take in refugees, is striking.

I didn’t hear similar rhetoric when folks in a theatre were shot up and many murdered in either Colorado or Louisiana. I just read calls for more armed citizens to join in the shoot ups.  But, Krugman believes the paranoia is part and parcel of their basic reaction to what goes on framed in terms of an Obama Presidency.  As mentioned in the Vitter-Edwards fight above, Republics seem to connect every little bad thing to the President and state it in completely hyped up terms.  Connecting Mary Landrieu to Obama certainly worked in the negative Louisiana Senatorial race last year.

What explains the modern right’s propensity for panic? Part of it, no doubt, is the familiar point that many bullies are also cowards. But I think it’s also linked to the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.

Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.

Given this context, it’s only natural that the right would seize on a terrorist attack in France as proof that Mr. Obama has left America undefended and vulnerable. Ted Cruz, who has a real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, goes so far as to declare that the president “does not wish to defend this country.”

The context also explains why Beltway insiders were so foolish when they imagined that the Paris attacks would deflate Donald Trump’s candidacy, that Republican voters would turn to establishment candidates who are serious about national security.

Who, exactly, are these serious candidates? And why would the establishment, which has spent years encouraging the base to indulge its fears and reject nuance, now expect that base to understand the difference between tough talk and actual effectiveness?

Sure enough, polling since the Paris attack suggests that Mr. Trump has actually gained ground.

The point is that at this point panic is what the right is all about, and the Republican nomination will go to whoever can most effectively channel that panic. Will the same hold true in the general election?

The fact that all of the Paris bombers were European nationals is completely ignored by the right wing media.  I grew up in a a hell hole of backwardness called Omaha, Nebraska.  Most of the folks that I know that basically never left or moved into neighboring hellholes are putting up some of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen including linking refugees to the Fort Hood Shooter who was born in Virginia.  I also actually had some one point out to me that if we didn’t stop the Syrian refugees we might go the way of Native Americans when the Colonists came over.   I’ve never seen such an level of panic that people appear to have left any sense of proportion in a gutter somewhere.  It seems worse than the Ebola hysteria of a few years ago.

We’ve had an attack today on a Western Hotel in Malia.  Additionally, there have been recent attacks in Kenya and Lebanon that appear to be Isis-inspired and possibly planned.  I can understand being extremely careful in places like this.  How do these events or events in Paris translate to being paranoid in small towns in the middle of the country where even most Americans wouldn’t and don’t want to live?  We’ve had plenty of pressers by NYC officials–NYC is definitely always a potential terrorist target–and they’re doing their usual thing and not particularly worried.

What should be worrying is the weird attraction of any extremist philosophy–including fundamentalist religions of all types–to young people.tta40-hijacker  What is it that is causing many young people to feel so disenfranchised from the mainstream they hook up with cults?  This has always been a challenge in the developed world.

You may want to spend some time with a profile at the Daily Mail on the female jihadi killed in St.-Denis.  People who do not live countries with abject poverty and little opportunity for education and economic advancement are less of a concern than our homemade terrorists.  This includes folks drawn to white supremacy  as well as the violent  jihadi mentality.

The woman killed in the Saint-Denis siege was a party animal with a string of boyfriends who had shown no interest in religion, it emerged today.

Hasna Ait Boulahcen, 26, was blown to bits when a second unnamed terrorist detonated a bomb after anti-terror police closed in on the safehouse where she was hiding with her cousin, the mastermind of the Paris attacks.
Just a day after her death, family and acquaintances gave extraordinary accounts of a young woman with a ‘bad reputation’ who was known for her love of alcohol and cigarettes rather than devotion to Islam.
Her brother Youssouf Ait Boulahcen said that she had had no interest in religion, never read the Koran and had only started wearing a Muslim veil a month ago.
A photograph has also emerged of Ait Boulahcen posing for a selfie in the bath. Her face is covered in heavy make-up and she wears nothing but jewellery.

She’s not exactly the posterchild for your basic practicing cafeteria Muslim let alone a Jihadi.  What on earth happened to flip her?

(Update: She was not a suicide bomber but was blown up when a man next to her detonated his suicide vest.)

Home grown white male christian extremists are far more of a danger here in this country yet, law enforcement has to keep its concerns underwrap for fear of inciting a Fox Nation backlash.  The NRA isn’t concerned about any terrorist, felon, or mentally ill person getting access to an arsenal. How do we explain right wing paranoia in light of that?  In this country, toddlers kill more people that radical jihadists.

All I know is that I’m very sick and tired of this racist, hateful, unconstitutional and down right UnAmerican response to the latest panic from the right.  A few years ago it was stopping all flights from an entire continent.  Now, it’s stopping refugees from one single country that’s in the middle of a civil war.

It’s ridiculous and it’s unbecoming.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Lazy Saturday Reads

Couch on the Porch, Cos Cob, Frederick Childe Hassam

Couch on the Porch, Cos Cob, Frederick Childe Hassam

Good Morning!!

Hillary Clinton has had a great run since her terrific performance in the first Democratic debate and ending with her 11 hours of testimony before the House Benghazi Committee and her interview with Rachel Maddow last night. Hillary’s poll numbers are going up, and yesterday she was endorsed by a major union, AFCME.

LA Times: Hillary Clinton’s good week puts her back where she started.

Since Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her bid for the White House, she has steadily slipped from inevitable nominee to flawed and vulnerable front-runner amid campaign mishaps and Clinton fatigue – and her rivals anticipated that it all would accelerate in recent days.

But in yet another reflection that little in the presidential election is going the way of the prognosticators, Clinton is bolting out of October with the wind at her back.

The House Benghazi committee that threatened to menace her campaign turned into a bust. The presidential debate that promised to give her rivals a boost instead gave her an opportunity to outshine them. And most important, the headache for her campaign that was Joe Biden disappeared altogether with his surprise Rose Garden announcement that he won’t pursue the Democratic nomination.

Biden’s exit Wednesday followed that of former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, a declared candidate. And by Friday morning, Lincoln Chafee, the former senator from and governor of Rhode Island, was pulling out of the race, nodding to Clinton’s “good week” as a reason.

“It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it?” Clinton asked the crowd after taking the stage Friday morning at a Democratic National Committee women’s leadership event in Washington.

Autumn Landscape with Boats, Vassily Kandinsky

Autumn Landscape with Boats, Vassily Kandinsky

Yes, it certainly has. Here’s Steve Benen at MSNBC: ‘The best 10-day stretch Clinton could have asked for.’

About a month ago…Hillary Clinton’s fortunes appeared to be taking a turn for the worse. Her poll support was dwindling; there was increased chatter surrounding Vice President Biden; Bernie Sanders was being cheered by massive crowds; and the political world, for reasons that have never been entirely clear to me, was fascinated with Clinton’s email server management.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver explained that Clinton was “stuck in a poll-deflating feedback loop,” in which the national press hammered her for some perceived weakness, which caused her to lose public support, which produced weaker poll numbers, which caused the national press to hammer her again, starting the cycle anew.

But that was last month. This month, offers a very different take on Clinton’s candidacy. NBC News’ First Read had a good piece this morning:

She came. She saw. She – take your pick – conquered/thrived/survived. As a matter of pure political theater, yesterday’s Benghazi committee hearing was a victory for Hillary Clinton and an overwhelming defeat for House Republicans. And perhaps more importantly, it caps off the best 10-day stretch Clinton could have asked for. […]

At the beginning of this month, we told you how important October was going to be for Clinton’s presidential bid after her summer struggles: If she doesn’t end up as the nominee, we’ll be able to trace it back to the events in October. Conversely, if she DOES end up the nominee, it will be because of what happened in October. And so – with the reminder that anything can happen in politics – we think we have our answer to our October question.

Henri Matisse - The Red Beach

Henri Matisse – The Red Beach

If you didn’t see the interview with Rachel Maddow last night, please be sure to watch it. You can also read the transcript here. Hillary was very relaxed and sincere during Maddow’s questioning, and she never became the slightest bit defensive when asked about Bill Clinton’s policies on LGBT rights and about her long-time friends who supposedly might cause problems if she becomes President. I was so impressed! It was wonderful to hear her talk about reproductive rights and voting rights. Listening to her makes me realize again and again why we need a woman in the White House.

Rachel even asked Hillary about Alabama Republican Mo Brooks, who said he would start trying to impeach her on day one of her presidency.

Clinton laughed heartily when Maddow confronted her with the threat from Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks to try to depose Clinton on “day one” of her hypothetical presidency.

“Isn’t that pathetic?” the former secretary of state said with a smile. “It’s just laughable, it’s so totally ridiculous.” She characterized it as one of many GOP efforts to win over “the most intense, extreme part of their base.”

Chris Hayes seemed especially amazed by Clinton’s response to this question. I got the impression that he had bought into the Villagers’ narrative about Hillary and was suddenly discovering that she is a real person who is intelligent, competent, and comfortable in her own skin. Until now he has touted Bernie Sanders and Lawrence Lessig. Perhaps he’ll try to get Hillary as a guest now.

Autumn landscape, Maurice de Vlaminck

Autumn landscape, Maurice de Vlaminck

More about the interview:

Maddow questioned Clinton on several fronts, including Syria policy, the future of the Veterans Administration, and what Maddow described as a personal concern that the Clintons have surrounded themselves with too many old friends who would want to “fight your wars again.”

Maddow’s toughest questions addressed Bill Clinton’s legacy on civil rights and civil liberties. Many of President Obama’s accomplishments on those issues, Maddow argued, involved “undoing things from the Clinton administration.” In particular, Maddow cited Clinton’s embrace of the Defense of Marriage Act and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy blocking gays from serving openly in the military….

The Defense of Marriage Act, legislation Bill Clinton signed that defined marriage legally as between one man and one woman, was “a defensive action” to stymie what the Clintons believed was enough political momentum to amend the constitution to effectively bar gay marriage, Hillary Clinton said.

The tough-on-crime bill that her husband signed into law was a reaction to the “horrific crime rates of the 1980s,” the former first lady added.

“There was just a consensus across every community that something had to be done,” she said.

Clinton noted that she has since disavowed the law and was committed to reforming criminal justice policies. But Clinton framed her overall governing philosophy as one based on pragmatism, a realization that sometimes it’s necessary to choose the lesser evil.

“I think that sometimes as a leader in Democracy you are confronted with two bad choices. It is not an easy position to be in, and you have to try to think what is the least bad choice, and how do I try to cabin this off from having worse consequences?” she said.

More highlights at the link.

Burst of Orange, Jean Sheridan

Burst of Orange, Jean Sheridan

The consensus on both left and right about Clinton’s testimony before the Benghazi committee is that her GOP torturers did her a big favor.

Jeb Lund at Rolling Stone: Republicans’ 11-Hour Gift to Hillary Clinton.

Eleven hours is a long damn time. Eleven hours is long enough to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco with two stops along the way to watch a movie and a football game in their entirety. And over the course of 11 hours of hectoring, insinuation and questions that started out redundant and turned into echolalia, Hillary Clinton never lost her cool. If she’s elected president, she should send every Republican member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi a needlingly effusive thank you card. They practically picked her up and carried her toward the White House….

Despite being billed as a hard-nosed prosecutor, [Trey] Gowdy let the proceedings wander all over the place, to the point where it’s impossible to tell what the Republicans even wanted to know, let alone what they thought they could charge Hillary with. Maybe it was her Libya intervention policy itself that failed, inevitably leading to the four deaths in the Benghazi compound. Maybe it was her email. Maybe she emailed with her buddy Sidney Blumenthal too much and Ambassador Chris Stevens too little. Maybe she didn’t care about the security staff. Maybe she tried to spin the attack afterward. Maybe she goes on political talk shows.

The Republican members of the committee demonstrated their ignorance on two issues repeatedly over the day’s duration. Many seemed totally unaware of the contents of previous Benghazi reports and testimony. If this had been a conventional courtroom, Clinton’s attorneys could have objected with “asked and answered” and turned the proceedings into 11 hours of tape hiss.

Many of the Republicans also seemed ignorant of how the State Department even functions. Republican Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana showed off a pile of Hillary’s emails pertaining to Libya from 2011 and another from 2012, then insinuated that the much smaller 2012 pile indicated her administrative indifference to the issue. Her case of the piles signaled an unawareness of the face that the State Department conducts the majority of its communications through cables, and that things like telephones exist, and that one of the unfortunate byproducts of conducting business on the telephone is that it doesn’t generate an email afterward. Even the most generous interpretation of her questions can’t elide the fact that the disparity in emails could easily have indicated general conversational traffic about Libya that eventually shifted to the official cable system as the maintenance of the Benghazi compound became more urgent.

Read the rest at Rolling Stone.

Girl Reading on a Stone Porch, Winslow Homer

Girl Reading on a Stone Porch, Winslow Homer

From The Washington Post: Clinton’s curse and her salvation: Her enemies, by Karen Tumulty.

Throughout her political career, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s greatest curse — the reaction she provokes in her adversaries — has also been her salvation.

That was proved once again during her 11-hour inquisition by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, a Republican-engineered train wreck from which she emerged without a scratch.

Pale, hoarse and weary as she was, the former secretary of state left the hearing room looking stronger than she has at any point since she announced her second campaign for president.

Naturally, the rest of Villager Tumulty’s piece is a serious of digs, criticisms, and warnings of future stumbles, but she did have to admit that Hillary is doing great at for now.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend!




Friday Reads: Heroes and Villians Edition


It’s Friday!!

I truly believe that many parts of our country–mainly the deep south and the hinterlands–have simply elected Professional Trolls to Congress.  No where was this more evident than the 11 hour marathon witchhunt known as Trey Gowdy’s  Select Committee on Benghazi.  It is simply surreal that these Trolls actually spend our precious tax dollars chasing down right wing conspiracy theories found on the most obnoxious and untruthful websites on the internet .  Once again, Hillary Clinton has shown herself more than able to deal with the worst humanity has to offer as well as the best.438px-Villainc

Rep. Elijah Cummings is one of our best.

Yesterday’s ordeal should send serious messages to any one voting Republican.  Is this really what you want from our country?  Actually, Represenative Elijah Cummings said it best yesterday in his closing.  You can read his opening statement here at Tiger Beat on the Ptomac.

Here is the bottom-line. The Select Committee has spent 17 months and $4.7 million in taxpayer funds. We have held four hearings and conducted 54 interviews and depositions. Yes, we have received some new emails—from Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Stevens, and others. And yes, we have conducted some new interviews.

But these documents and interviews do not show any nefarious activity. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The new information we have obtained confirms and corroborates the core facts we already knew from the eight previous investigations. They provide more detail, but they do not change the basic conclusions.

It is time for Republicans to end this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition. We need to come together and shift from politics to policy. We need to finally make good on our promises to the families, and we need to start focusing on what we here in Congress can do to improve the safety and security of our diplomatic corps in the future.

dragon-the-cat-is-scary-af-2-1234-1427902801-16_dblbigThe truely bizarre questions asked by some of the Republicans gives me compelling evidence that some of them should not even be allowed to walk the streets let alone serve in a policy making body.  We have imaginary “Clinton Doctrines” and weird interest in her sleeping arrangments.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) diverted from the Benghazi attacks on Thursday and accused Hillary Clinton of a broader pattern of trying to take personal political advantage of foreign policy successes while she was secretary of state.

Roskam went so far as to mockingly call it the “Clinton doctrine” in a biting exchange during Clinton’s high-profile testimony before a select committee on the attacks.

Roskam accused Clinton of hogging the limelight when Muammar Gaddafi’s regime fell and even planning her PR push months ahead of that event. The Illinois Republican also claimed that White House staff told Clinton’s State Department staff they were concerned she took too much credit on Libya.

“Let me tell you what I think the Clinton doctrine is,” Roskam said. “I think it’s where an opportunity is seized to turn progress in Libya into a political win for Hillary Rodham Clinton. And at the precise moment when things look good take a victory lap, like on all the Sunday shows three times that year before Gaddafi was killed, and then turn your attention to other things.”

Much of Roskam’s questioning Thursday seemed to be trying to establish that Clinton was deeply invested in a narrative of Libya being a successful U.S. intervention—a narrative the Benghazi attacks threatened to undo.

The Republican women and their line of questioning were beyond the pale.  I kept wondering if any one would ask a man some of the same questions along the line of do you really care about your employees and do you let them call you and email you with every little issue they have?
Then, there was the were you sleeping alone that night question.  Clinton and most of the room erupted in laughter on that question and it seemed to actually confuse Rep. (Bless her lil heart) Roby as to why that line of questioning was a strange. hqdefault

As Thursday’s Benghazi hearing entered the ninth of its 11 hours, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Alabama, asked Hillary Clinton about leaving her office to go home after the attacks.

“Were you alone (at home)?” Roby asked.

“I was alone,” Clinton said.

“The whole night?” Roby asked.

“Well, yes, the whole night,” Clinton said with a laugh.

It was, The New York Times noted, “the first laugh in an otherwise heavy session.”

Roby was not amused, The Hill reported:

“I don’t know why that’s funny,” the Republican chided. “Did you have any in-person briefings? I don’t find it funny at all.”

Still chuckling, Clinton responded, “I’m sorry, a little note of levity at 7:15. Note it for the record.”

“The reason I say it’s not funny is because it went well into the night when our folks on the ground were still in danger, so I don’t think it’s funny to ask if you’re alone the whole night,” Roby replied.

“Clinton insisted that she had the needed equipment at home to stay in close contact with State Department officials,” The Hill report continues.

“I did not sleep all night. I was very much focused on what we were doing,” she said.

Roby may well be the new Sarah Palin.  The SNL skit simply wrote itself.

3VillainsAll of the press–including the conservative media outlets–considered the hearing a big win for Clinton and for Elijah Cummings although nearly all of the Democratic members of the Select Committee had theire day pointing out how ludicrous the proceedings had become.  WAPO’s Editorial

THE HOUSE Select Committee on Benghazi further discredited itself on Thursday as its Republican members attempted to fuel largely insubstantial suspicions about Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks. Grilling Ms. Clinton all day, they elicited little new information and offered little hope that their inquiry would find anything significant that seven previous investigations didn’t.
In fact, the highlight of the hearing came before lawmakers asked any question at all, in Ms. Clinton’s opening statement, as she offered a stout defense of the need for assertive U.S. diplomacy and engagement — even, or especially, when the circumstances are not ideal.

“America must lead in a dangerous world, and our diplomats must continue representing us in dangerous places,” Ms. Clinton said. “We have learned the hard way when America is absent, especially from unstable places, there are consequences. Extremism takes root, aggressors seek to fill the vacuum, and security everywhere is threatened, including here at home.” It would be disastrous if future administrations held back in fear of politicized backlash if and when tragedies occurred.

When questioning began, Ms. Clinton repeatedly pointed out that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, one of four Americans who died in the attacks, did not ask to pull out of Benghazi; in fact, he chose to travel there with knowledge that doing so carried significant risk. Republicans argued that those facts did not excuse the lack of significant diplomatic security in Libya, grilling Ms. Clinton on why more of Mr. Stevens’s requests for additional security were not honored.

On that, Ms. Clinton argued that she was not personally responsible for diplomatic security — the State Department’s security experts were — and she insisted that budget constraints limited how much security they could deploy around the world. She also pointed out that intelligence experts lacked knowledge about the dangers in eastern Libya around Sept. 11 and 12, 2012, and they knew of no credible threat to U.S. diplomats on those days in particular. An astoundingly large portion of the rest of the hearing focused on petty questioning related to Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal and other wastes of time.

Sahil Kapur from Bloomberg characterizes the conservative meeting as basically saying that Clinton won the day. joker2-tm

“A hearing that was once a threat has really become an opportunity for her,” John Dean, a former White House counsel for Richard Nixon who is now a political independent, said on MSNBC hours into the hearing. “I think this is really Hillary’s day. It’s going to help her presidential campaign. As somebody who’s been both a witness and a counsel, this is a textbook example of how to be a good witness.”

Among House Republicans, there were no high-fives: A half-dozen lawmakers surveyed offered a muted response when asked about the hearing on Thursday afternoon. Many conservative commentators were unimpressed, if not angry with the proceedings.

“So a hearing billed as an epic, High Noon-style confrontation—granted, the hype came from the media, not Republican committee members themselves—instead turned out to be a somewhat interesting look at a few limited aspects of the Benghazi affair,” wroteByron York at the Washington Examiner. “In other words, no big deal. And that is very, very good news for Hillary Clinton.”

Conservative radio host Erick Erickson described the hearings as “a waste of time because everything about it is politicized and nothing is going to happen.”

“There will be no scalp collection,” he wrote in a blog post, adding: “It was all a political spectacle. God bless Trey Gowdy for trying to learn the facts and understand what happened. But the rest of it was just a carnival road show of back bench congresscritters playing to the cameras and Hillary Clinton working hard to play persecuted victim.”

Erickson lamented that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent comments on Fox News bragging about the Benghazi committee’s deleterious effect on Clinton’s poll numbers “discredited this episode before it began in the minds of the press.” McCarthy’s remarks were followed by a second Republican congressman, New York’s Richard Hanna, saying the panel was created “to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton.” Meanwhile, a former Benghazi committee staffer says he’s preparing to sue the panel for allegedly being fired because he didn’t want to target Clinton.

Days before the hearing, Gowdy told Politico that “these have been among the worst weeks of my life” and went on CBS to instruct his colleagues to “shut up” about the work of the committee, insisting it was about fact-finding and not politics. The hearing didn’t provide much to boost his outlook.

Meanwhile, Clinton’s dominance in the polls continues.  Lincoln Chaffee has folded tent.   Jeb Bush continues to downsize.  The last debate as well as this grueling committee hearing has made Clinton look downright presidential. The Republicans Congress Critters, however, appeared to be posturing for political ads made for Tea Party Conspiracy theories.rs_560x415-140514134818-1024.Disney-Villains-The-Rescuers-Madame-Medusa.jl.051414

None of the GOP committee members are personally opposing Clinton for the presidency next year, but picking a fight with the Democratic front-runner was an electoral no-brainer.

Every single one of them will be running for reelection in 2016 — mostly in gerrymandered districts where the biggest threat posed to their political survival comes from the right (Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, especially). So battering the party’s prime target on video — in the loudest, most confrontational way possible — makes perfect political sense. Sure it was grating, annoying and confusing to almost everyone else, but a 45-second YouTube clip of your candidate bellowing in the face of the most hated figure in the Democratic Party is pure partisan gold, perfect for TV ads or campaign websites.

Take Pompeo, who peppered Clinton repeatedly — but almost always with a reference to the folks back in his Kansas district, where he’s famously friendly with a few high-profile locals — like the anti-Clinton Koch brothers.

“Why didn’t you fire someone?” he asked Clinton. “In Kansas, I get asked constantly why has no one been held accountable.”

grid-cell-31706-1428248759-0This was an unprecedented witch hunt.

The hearing provided an extraordinary spectacle, starting in the morning and stretching well into the night, far longer than such sessions typically last even with multiple witnesses.

Through the lengthy session, Clinton maintained a relentlessly calm and smiling demeanor, showing few visible signs of fatigue other than a hoarse throat that began to develop in the 10th hour.

From her opening statement on, she sought to seize a rhetorical high ground above the partisan fray, reminding members of the panel that after attacks on diplomatic facilities during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in which hundreds of Americans were killed, members of both parties “rose above politics” to examine what had gone wrong.

It would be easy to write this off as the latest adventure in CDS.  Afterall, the entire impeachment of Bill Clinton was a total charade that looks even more silly now that we know exactly how many of his worst critics had more skeletons in the closet than a Hallowen Haunted House attraction.  But, this is symbolic of what goes on in Congress now that the Republicans have taken over each of the Houses and are being torn three different ways and none of them are good for the country.  Every one in the media–even enablers like George Will and David Brooks– now sees that the party is s0 completely dysfunctional it won’t govern and can’t be trusted with anything else.

The problem is that some of these Representatives come from such incredibly gerrymandered districts that there are worse people waiting in the wings that will likely replace them as the entire mentality right now is thrown every one out continually.  Can our country continue to do anything but decline given that we can’t even fund things like our highways without a major ideological showdown.

Meanwhile, the rest of us have to rely on the few heroes and sheroes that are still fighting the good fight.

Don’t forget that Rachel Maddow will be interviewing Clinton on her show tonight at 9 pm edt.  Maddow has indicated they will talk about her experience yesterday and her thoughts on the Biden decision.

What’s on your blogging and reading list today?

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!

Sunday Reads: Joan Leslie, Workers’ Comp and Dubya 


Good Afternoon

A few days ago we lost an actress from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Joan Leslie, who starred in films with James Cagney…Fred Astaire. Gary Cooper, Ida Lupino, and others….(my favorites being Sargent York and The Hard WayThe Hard Way.) She was 90 years old.

Joan Leslie, a Hollywood Girl Next Door, Dies at 90 – The New York Times

Joan Leslie, an actress remembered for fresh-faced ingénue roles in movies of the 1940s, including “High Sierra,” “Sergeant York” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” died on Monday in Los Angeles. She was 90.

Her family confirmed the death.

Ms. Leslie, who was known in private life as Joan Leslie Caldwell, began her career in a vaudeville act with her two older sisters. Before she was out of her teens she had become known for film roles including Velma, the young disabled woman with whom Humphrey Bogart falls in love in “High Sierra” (1941); Gracie, the love interest of Gary Cooper in “Sergeant York” (1941), a role she landed on her 16th birthday; and Mary, the bride of George M. Cohan (played by James Cagney) in “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” released in 1942.18928fd7f1c4f870d8ea0f30d0e70876


The young, red-haired Ms. Leslie was admired by moviegoers for the girl-next-door innocence she brought to the screen.

“In my case, I really was a nice girl; my family sheltered me,” she told The Toronto Star in 1990. “Once, at a reception for exhibitors, Errol Flynn approached me” — he was a notorious roué — “and the photographers clicked away. Studio head Jack Warner was furious. He ordered the pictures destroyed, because it might damage my good-girl reputation!”

Joan Leslie Dead at 90: Starred in Sergeant York, Yankee Doodle Dandy | Variety

Joan Leslie Dead

Born in Detroit, Michigan on January 26, 1925, Leslie’s career began when her family relocated to Burbank, after Leslie’s older sister Mary was signed to a contract at MGM. Her first role was an uncredited part in George Cukor’s “Camille” at age 11.

2ab586bddf24e31fd69c41911652a848After marrying physician William G. Caldwell in 1950, Leslie shifted her focus to family, with occasional appearances on television shows and in commercials.


Leslie died on Oct. 12 in Los Angeles, her family announced. Funeral mass will be celebrated at 10:00 am on October 19 at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church.

On a personal note:

In March 1950, she married William Caldwell, an obstetrician.[6][45] Their identical twin daughters, Patrice and Ellen, were born on January 7, 1951.[46] Both daughters eventually became doctors.[47]

3c222461f50f4b1cad654dc67495995fLeslie was in the business of designing clothes, with her own eponymous brand. William died in 2000. A year later, she founded the Dr. William G. and Joan L. Caldwell Chair in Gynecologic Oncology for the University of Louisville. Leslie was an adopted alumna of the university for over 32 years.[48] She was involved with charity work for the St. Anne’s Maternity Home for more than 50 years.[49]

Joan Leslie dies at 90; actress of Hollywood’s Golden Age – LA Times

In the 1941 film noir classic “High Sierra,” Humphrey Bogart plays a tough guy who falls in love with a seemingly sweet, naive teenager played by Joan Leslie.

fb237896c0e710bc87ee6a7a72264e4aThe Bogie character later finds out, to his dismay, that the girl is not as naive as he thought.

The film industry made the same mistake about Leslie.

Though demure in most of her teen roles, as a young woman Leslie filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. to get her out of a contract she described as “slavery.” And she persevered for years until studio executives finally gave in.

“They know I put up a fight for what I believed as right,” she said in a 1949 Times interview. “They know I didn’t weaken, and they don’t consider me now a perpetual ingenue.”




413113cc2f4e929e18ddfc7730dd969dLeslie was a show business veteran by the time she got the role in “High Sierra.” When she was child, she and her two older sisters had a vaudeville singing and dancing act that toured widely in the U.S. and Canada. And she had several small, mostly uncredited parts in movies.

But getting that plum role in the film that also starred Ida Lupino (then a bigger star than Bogart, and thus top billed), directed by Raoul Walsh and co-written by John Huston, was a life-changer.

“I was only 15, you know,” she said in a 1994 interview with a fan, Barry Iddon, while in London to support a children’s hospital. “I wish I had gotten it a little bit later in my career. I think I could have done better by it.”

1ca300427adfa3e6b721626673a3dff6But she was entirely believable as Velma, a partly disabled small-town girl traveling west with her family in a beat-up car when they have an encounter with Roy “Mad Dog” Earle, played by Bogart.

In a memorable, tender scene early in the film, the two gaze at the stars and he talks about how the earth feels “like a little ball that’s turning through the night, with us hanging on to it.”

“Why that sounds like poetry, Roy,” she tells him. “It’s pretty.”

When Leslie was 16, Warner Bros., which had her under contract, gave her a new Buick and more importantly, the female lead part opposite Gary Cooper in the biopic “Sergeant York,” about an unlikely World War I hero.

0b2c2e6d76ecf28f1968cfffa4b5d6d4Despite the car, she was still treated by some, including Cooper, as a child. “Gary gave me a doll on the set,” Leslie said in a 1990 Toronto Star interview. “That’s how he saw me.”

Her screen persona was even immortalized in song. In the wartime “Hollywood Canteen” (1944), the Andrews Sisters sang “Corns for My Country” about the condition of their feet after dancing long hours with soldiers on leave. One line of the song:

We’re not petite as sweet Joan Leslie.

But by the mid-1940s, Leslie had had it with the roles Warner Bros. gave her, and when the studio refused to offer her meatier parts, she sued, claiming the contract she signed as a teenager was invalid. She won her case in lower courts, but the studio won in the state Supreme Court.

4b822593edaa38e089133b9f1f29f79bLeslie pushed on, saying she would file a $2-million civil suit against Warner Bros. The studio gave in, canceling her contract. “I hope this will present me as an entirely new personality,” she said in the Times interview.

But the damage was done to her career, in part because she had been out of the public eye while the court battle dragged on. “I couldn’t work those two years, not even on radio,” she told the Toronto Star. “It was a huge setback for me.”


Remembering Joan Leslie | Leonard Maltin

I was saddened to hear of Joan Leslie’s death earlier this week at the age of 90. She was one of my favorite interviews in recent years. She was incredibly nice, yet at the same time she belied her screen image as a sweet young thing, as you’ll see in this excerpt from our conversation. 67d8cc8c4ed28139a2000e2c1cc3e2c3She had savvy and ambition, and it was no accident that she succeeded in Hollywood. (You can read the complete interview in the book Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy, compiled from back issues of my newsletter of the same name.) She even endured a studio blackballing in the 1950s after leaving her longtime home at Warner Bros. and was forced to work at Republic Pictures—which she did, without complaint.

In 1940 the pretty, adolescent Joan Brodel won the leading role in a Warner Bros. short-subject called Alice in Movieland about a girl’s dreamlike experience in Hollywood: spotted on the set, given the lead in a major movie, becoming a star and winning an Academy Award. Never was casting more ironic—or prophetic—because Brodel’s real-life story wasn’t so different from that piece of fluffy fiction. 59863f161658c95ded9793b1e06e16dfAfter several years of appearing in tiny roles she was signed by Warner Bros. and, as Joan Leslie, costarred with Gary Cooper in Sergeant York, Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra, James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Fred Astaire in The Sky’s The Limit—all before she turned eighteen!  (Not so incidentally, Warner Bros. reissued Alice in Movieland and re-filmed the main titles to feature Leslie’s “new” name as well as her star billing. You can see the short on Turner Classic Movies, or on the Warner Home Video DVD of The Sea Hawk)

Joan Leslie gave many interviews about her career and her notable costars—she adds a great deal to the hour-long DVD documentary on the making of Yankee Doodle Dandyf7be4ed9ae1fba83a8b152ffd7d0c056but I was curious about her earliest experiences in Hollywood, and I wanted to learn more about day-to-day life as a contract player under the studio system. She was happy to oblige, in 2006, although when I made the mistake of referring to her as a onetime extra she politely but firmly corrected me.

Be sure to look at that link and read the interview. it is great….

Okay, remember during the debate I mentioned how Bernie Sanders reminded me of Larry David’s George Steinbrenner?

Well, check this out…

Larry David Just Played Bernie Sanders on SNL—And the Internet Is Going Nuts Over It | Mother Jones


e494d0b1a8e46001cdc4782e3bb9e7d0“We’re doomed!” Larry David plays the best Bernie Sanders yet on “Saturday Night Live” –

When Larry David was on “Saturday Night Live” he only got one sketch on the air and the audience didn’t laugh. Thirty years later, the Seinfeld creator returned as Bernie Sanders and the Internet lost its mind with David trending on Twitter well into this morning. […]

The sketch mocked the first democratic debate with a smiley Lincoln Chafee talking about how fun it was to be a senator, Alec Baldwin as Jim Webb who was angry, of course, because he didn’t get to talk before he was introduced, the Hillary Clinton her staff put together for the debate, and Bernie “We’re Doomed” Sanders.

43e691af5b293b23769d4ec904e34144With a perfect Sanders accent and broad hand gestures and finger points, David shouted about revolution asking why the hell the big banks chain all their pens to the desk. His solution for Wall Street reform was to break up the big banks into little pieces and then flush them down the toilet. “Then ya make the bankers pay for college for everyone, and America is fixed! Hey!” he said shrugging and gesticulating wildly. Hillary puts a damper on the idealism saying Bernie is promising a “golden goose” but Bernie assured the debate audience he’s found geese before and he can find them again. “They congregate near ponds. It’s not rocket science!”

 After Bernie repeated the famous email line Hillary shook his hand and thanked him, commenting that it must be nice to scream and cuss in public. “I have to do it into tiny little jars.”




67b59fd4a5534460fcf75dc094d07912Bernie Sanders to Larry David: Come join on me campaign trail! –

Bernie Sanders has a pretty good sense of humor. He responded to Larry David’s “Saturday Night Live” impression of him by telling George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that he’d like to take him out campaigning with him.

 “I think we’ll use Larry at our next rally. He does better than I do,” Sanders said.

Now that is all for laughs, because the next link is disturbing as hell.

Opting out: Inside corporate America’s push to ditch workers’ comp – ProPublica

This is an important article, read it in full. I think a this quote will be a good example:

Minick and other proponents say while plans can make exceptions, such rules ensure workers get medical care as soon as possible, speeding their recovery.

996f90cfa5c46ad37643d8d6d488f205But public health experts say workers might not report minor injuries right away for valid reasons: They fear looking like troublemakers or worry about child care if they need to see a doctor or stay late filling out forms.

Or, like Rebecca Amador, they simply might not realize an injury’s severity.

Amador, a nursing assistant, was helping a patient transfer to a wheelchair at a Stephenville, Texas, nursing home in November 2013, when the chair’s brake unlocked, causing her to support the patient’s weight.

“I felt like a pinch in my back and I thought well, it’s been a long day, I’m tired,” said Amador, then 51. “So I paid no mind to it. I figured it would go away. Usually it goes away.”

21a3587f3f28ef72f55c6238dab5fdb8She took a hot shower and went to bed. By the next morning, she remembers being in so much pain she could hardly breathe.

As soon as she got to work, Amador told her supervisor, who sent her to the hospital. Only 19 hours had passed. But her employer, Fundamental Long Term Care, rejected her claim, saying she had failed to report it by the end of her shift.

The company’s decision left Amador in a Catch-22. Even though her injury happened at work, the company’s Texas plan wouldn’t cover it. But because it was work-related, neither would her health insurance or short-term disability plan. Had she worked for Fundamental in one of the other states where it operates, her injury would have been covered under workers’ comp.

7a928ee09b17bfd72821fbef48e04038Amador sought help at a publicly funded health clinic, where her doctor recommended a specialist. But she couldn’t afford one. She tried light-duty work until her doctor warned she could do further damage.

Since then, Amador said, she’s been living off her son’s Social Security benefits and borrowing from a lawsuit settlement fund set up for him after his father died of mesothelioma. Her daughters help pay for medications, and she’s applying for Social Security disability.

Sitting in her trailer nearly two years after the incident, she said her back burns like she’s in a fire, and she can’t even carry a two-liter soda bottle.

“I would probably still be working there” if Fundamental had workers’ comp, Amador said. “Maybe I could have gotten better, maybe I could have gotten my therapy done, and I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in.”

5342d5d5bcbc3cfd257c858d8e6db7d8That story is mild compared to some of the others….

More stories of horror here, from March of this year:

The Fallout of Workers’ Comp ‘Reforms’: 5 Tales of Harm – ProPublica

Injured workers share their stories, revealing the real-life impact of rollbacks that have been spreading across the country.

Price Check: How Companies Value Body Parts

Injured workers are entitled to compensation for permanent disabilities under state workers’ comp laws. But Texas has long allowed companies to opt out and write their own benefit plans. Benefits for the same body part can differ dramatically depending on which company you work for.

a35eeb405b88474fab2c6d135d459b94And a couple other articles from the series, these from earlier in the year.

The Demolition of Workers’ Compensation – ProPublica

Over the past decade, states have slashed workers’ compensation benefits, denying injured workers help when they need it most and shifting the costs of workplace accidents to taxpayers.

How Much Is Your Arm Worth? For Workers’ Compensation, That Depends on Where You Work – ProPublica

Each state determines its own workers’ compensation benefits, which means workers in neighboring states can end up with dramatically different compensation for identical injuries.

For the entire series of articles, photos and updates:

Insult to Injury – ProPublica


There are 17 articles at that link. You can spend a shitload of time at that page….

The rest of the links below in dump fashion, because the day is getting late.

2d426f81026c3f5873a85299b1f4cc39Was George W. Bush President On 9/11? An Investigation Into The Controversy Tearing The GOP Apart | ThinkProgress

On Friday, Donald Trump generated substantial controversy when he asserted that George W. Bush was president at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time,” Trump said. “He was president, O.K.?

Jeb Bush immediately pushed back, calling Trump’s comments “pathetic” and insisting “my brother kept us safe.”

The media jumped on to the burgeoning controversy. According to The New York Times the idea that Bush was president on 9/11 and failed to stop the attack is a “break from the GOP.”

f135e48ef422eb57a5837ae1785035a8CNN host destroys Jeb Bush: You blame Hillary for Benghazi but insist brother blameless for 9/11

epublican presidential candidate Jeb Bush struggled on Sunday to explain how he could blame Hillary Clinton for the attacks in Benghazi while insisting that George W. Bush was blameless for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

While speaking to Bloomberg last week, Trump reminded the interviewer that George Bush was president when the World Trade Center was attacked in New York.

“He was president, OK?” Trump said. “Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”

The comments sparked Bush to respond by calling Trump “pathetic” in a Twitter post. And on Sunday, he continued to defend the 43rd president during an interview with CNN.

dfc8829c5617f143c2d53be1515fd394“My brother responded to a crisis and united the country, he organized our country and he kept us safe,” the GOP hopeful told Tapper. “And there’s no denying that. And the great majority of Americans believe that. And I don’t know why he keeps bringing this up.”

Tapper wondered if Bush’s loyalty to his brother “might be in some ways a political or policy liability blinding you to mistakes he made.”

“It’s what you do after that matters,” Bush insisted. “Does anybody actually blame my brother for the attacks on 9/11? If they do, they’re totally marginalized in our society. It’s what he did afterwards that mattered, and I’m proud of him. And so are a bunch of other people.”

bd6c62e0d9349d2b939a771fac9e0246“Obviously al Qaeda was responsible for the terrorist attacks of 9/11,” the CNN host pressed. “But how do you respond to critics who ask if your brother and his administration bear no responsibility at all, how do you then make the jump that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are responsible for what happened at Benghazi?”

Bush stammered in response: “Well, I — the question on Benghazi, which we will now finally get the truth to, is was the place secure? They had a responsibility at the Department of State to have proper security.”

“And how was the response in the aftermath of the attack?” he continued. “Was there a chance that these four American lives could have been saved? That’s what the investigation is about, it’s not a political issue… Were we doing the job of protecting our embassies and our consulates, and during the period, those hours after the attacks started, could they have been saved?”

6bc6d342d77e563d7e16dcb99038721a“That’s kind of proving the point of the critics,” Tapper noted. “You don’t want you brother to bear responsibility for 9/11 — and I understand that argument and al Qaeda is responsible — but why are the terrorists not the ones that are responsible for these attacks in Libya?”

“They are!” Bush replied. “But if the ambassador was asking for additional security and they didn’t get it, that’s a proper point. And if it’s proven that the security was adequate compared to other embassies, then fine, we’ll move on.”


b83b725d1dadb29ad5675bd9d2a9f5a1CNN’s Jake Tapper Exposes Republicans’ Double Standard In Assigning Blame For 9/11 And Benghazi | Video | Media Matters for America

Jeb Bush, Donald Trump continue 9/11 fight – Business Insider

4398fe1fb694d6ba9f54debafc4305e2Jeb Bush: Trump’s 9/11 comments prove he’s an ‘actor’ in candidate’s clothes | US news | The Guardian

Would-be Speaker could lose his House seat next year | TheHill

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) is running full-steam ahead in his long-shot bid for Speaker, while looming redistricting plans in his state threaten his congressional seat.

Webster’s reelection chances in his current district suffered a severe blow Oct. 9 when a circuit court judge give tentative approval to a redistricting proposal favoring Democrats in his area.

While the map plans have yet to be finalized, it raises the prospect that if successful in his leadership bid, Webster could assume the Speaker’s gavel without having solid reelection prospects.


a32fc13e54763e9ddd335f1e26e79ae8Dumbghazi » Balloon Juice

Well, it turns out that Hillary’s emails do contain some scandalous info.   The Daily Mail:

A bombshell White House memo has revealed for the first time details of the ‘deal in blood’ forged by Tony Blair and George Bush over the Iraq War.

The sensational leak shows that Blair had given an unqualified pledge to sign up to the conflict a year before the invasion started.

It flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s public claims at the time that he was seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis.1be5f67feba2766c2910fadc65fa5a6b

He told voters: ‘We’re not proposing military action’ – in direct contrast to what the secret email now reveals.


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.

Breathless tabloid prose aside, it’s still pretty funny that perhaps the most important discovery from a committee that has held almost as many hearings as the 9/11 committee concerns one of W’s fuckups.

a5543dd9bf92ea59e57f6c2eceae7e8cMiss. judge: People charged w crimes are criminals | Al Jazeera America


Hillary bashes closures of AL driver’s license offices in black communities as ‘blast from Jim Crow past’


Former mistress of GOPer David Vitter claims he got her pregnant and asked her to abort


Mitt Romney: I’m Glad I’m Not In The 2016 GOP Race


edf0dcbe4d1cfb1e4a3b1145e7141614California mudslides and chaos offer a preview of what El Niño could bring – LA Times


Reputed NY mobster faces trial for 1978 ‘Goodfellas’ heist

For nearly four decades, it remained one of America’s most infamous unsolved crimes: on Dec. 11, 1978, a crew of masked men stole $6 million in cash and jewelry from a Lufthansa Airlines cargo building at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

The brazen heist, which helped inspire the gangster movie “Goodfellas,” left authorities largely frustrated until last year, when federal prosecutors in Brooklyn charged Vincent Asaro, a member of the Bonanno organized crime family, with participating in the theft.

df1c75e086c34019a3f22461d716f07cHis criminal trial is set to begin on Monday in Brooklyn federal court before an anonymous jury.

Most of the other suspected participants in the robbery disappeared, were killed or died, making it difficult for authorities to piece the case together.

“Once you kill one guy, you gotta kill them all, because otherwise they’ll get scared,” said Howard Abadinsky, an organized crime expert and a professor at St John’s University in New York. “He’s one of the few guys that’s still alive.”


1b685b803243687f2ea7bfccbdf4311bIn Honor of Angela Lansbury’s 90th Birthday, Here Are 90 Photos of Angela Lansbury

Pictures of Joan Leslie: (5) JOAN LESLIE 1925-2015 on Pinterest | Dandy, Actresses and Photo Galleries


So what are you all reading about today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: It’s All About Me Me Me! –Joe Biden


Good Morning!!

I’m sick to death of hearing about Creepy Uncle Joe Biden and his presidential ambitions. If he wanted to run for president in 2016, he should have started long ago. But now he’s doing his very best to overshadow the serious candidates with his months-long dithering about “jumping in” at the last minute.

In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s outstanding debate performance on Tuesday, Washington pundits announced that there was no room for Biden in the race; but one of his top supporters spent Thursday hyping the possibility that Biden could still run and win. He sent out an email to Biden supporters designed to suggest that Biden is running and then leaked the email to the Associated Press. Here’s the whole thing, from CNN: Sen. Ted Kaufman’s email to Biden allies.

Dear friend,

A lot of you are being asked, and have asked me, about the direction and timing of the Vice President’s thinking about a run for President. On the second question – timing – I can’t add much, except I am confident that the Vice President is aware of the practical demands of making a final decision soon. He has been in public and political life a long time and he has a good grip on the mechanics around this decision.

But on the first question, I know him well, and have spoken with him extensively about this issue. It will not surprise you, as it does not surprise me, what he will weigh in the decision and what – being Joe Biden – he will not.

All of you know well that the first and foremost consideration will be the welfare and support of his family. That’s Joe Biden. He has been clear about this and it is as true today as it has been for the past several months. He is determined to take, and to give his family, as much time as possible to work this through.

But then the question is what kind of Presidential campaign he believes he would run, and what kind of President he believes he can be. If he runs, he will run because of his burning conviction that we need to fundamentally change the balance in our economy and the political structure to restore the ability of the middle class to get ahead. And whether we can a political consensus in America to get it done

And what kind of campaign? An optimistic campaign. A campaign from the heart. A campaign consistent with his values, our values, and the values of the American people. And I think it’s fair to say, knowing him as we all do, that it won’t be a scripted affair– after all, it’s Joe.

He believes we must win this election. Everything he and the President have worked for — and care about — is at stake.

I know in the daily ups and down of the political swirl, we all get bombarded with the tactics. So sometimes it’s good to take a step back and get real again. Let’s stay in touch. If he decides to run, we will need each and every one of you — yesterday!


And so Biden’s dithering dominated yesterday’s news cycle.


Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s take on the Biden non-decision:

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to announce in the coming days whether he will enter the presidential race and, at this point, signs point to him running for the Democratic nomination, people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Biden has been making a final round of phone calls to political allies this week, locking down their support and talking through his prospects in key states, people with knowledge of the calls said. He has been focusing on Democratic operatives and officials in states holding early contests—Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina—asking about “the way forward,” one person said.

The vice president has been wrestling with the question for months, weighing whether he and his family are emotionally ready for the rigors of the campaign so soon after the death of Mr. Biden’s son Beau. The Biden family, which has long played a central role in his campaigns, has signed off on what would be his third White House bid, people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Biden could still pull back, however, if he concludes he is too shaken by his son’s death to mount a campaign. Another consideration for Mr. Biden: the fortunes of front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Does anyone really believe that Biden is still “wrestling” with his “emotions” over his son Beau’s death at this point? Frankly, Biden’s behavior is beginning to look like unseemly exploitation of his family’s grief.

B-D-j2MCcAAdTA8I like Gawker’s interpretation of the email best. Breaking News: Joe Biden Still Available, If You’re Interested, by Chris Thompson.

Joe Biden has sent you an email. But, because he’s an addled old man and a politician, he did it in the stupidest possible way.

First, he had this other guy, Ted Kaufman, write it, and instructed Kaufman to talk about him in the third person. Then, instead of sending it directly to you, he had Kaufman send it to a circle of other people, while specifically leaving the intended target of the email (you) off the list. And then, to make extra sure you got it, via this ridiculous, circuitous route, he had Kaufman give the email to another group, the Associated Press, also not on the list, but who he could trust to get it, finally, to you.

So that’s how the Associate Press wound up with this email—ostensibly from Ted Kaufman, seemingly intended for a small circle of people for whom it will have no value—which they are now tasked with presenting to you, the intended recipient of the email, in as breathless a fashion as possible.

But not by email! Instead, by posting the details of the email—but not the email itself! still not the email—in a published story that would be picked up and circulated among other publications, so that you would eventually see it and read it. “APNewsBreak: Top Biden aide lays out potential 2016 platform,” wink wink.

And he did all this with the bizarre intention that you, the intended recipient of the email, would think that the information in the email was not intended for you.

Read the rest at Gawker.

Biden1In reaction to yesterday’s Biden push, Howard Fineman wrote at Huffington Post: We’re Watching The Long Whatever Of Joe Biden.

At least one thing has been decided: Joe Biden has retired the trophy for candidate indecision.

A weary Washington has been driven batty by the vice president’s “I’m in, I’m out, I’m in again” agonizing about whether to enter the 2016 presidential contest. He has given us either the longest goodbye since Bogart in “Casablanca” or the longest hello since Castro in Havana.

People were bound to lose patience, even before the boffo performances by both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Tuesday night’s debate, not to mention Martin O’Malley’s debut as a BuzzFeed-certified hunk.

It’s finally dawned on Biden World that they’ve run out of time. A statement is expected any minute, hour or day now….

Biden’s former chief of staff and longtime Sancho Panza, ex-Sen. Ted Kaufman, sent Biden’s friends and allies a letter to calm them as the dramatic moment approached. He assured the troops that, if the vice president indeed were to run, he would do so in the name of the middle class — as well as in memory of his son Beau, who died of cancer in May.

But the decision slog has focused mostly on Joe Biden himself. No talk of an actual agenda. No hint of his assessment of the candidates already in the race. No talk of what the Democrats really need in order to secure a third-straight term in the White House. Instead, we’ve been shown a saga of grief and inspiration, with Biden offering soulful public updates on the condition of his political heart.


Other writers have pointed out some of the practical drawbacks of a Biden run.

James Oliphant at Reuters: Obama’s foreign policy could burden Biden if he runs in 2016.

Leigh Ann Caldwell at NBC News: Joe Biden Bid for White House Would Begin in a $60-Million Hole.

But Nick Gillespie gets to the real nitty-gritty at The Daily Beast: Joe Biden, Narc in Chief. In a country that badly needs a future, Biden is stuck in the past.

Americans may not get along all that well these days, but on this much we should find common cause: Biden would be a terrible president.

Weird Uncle Joe isn’t just a decades-long punchline and perpetual-gaffe machine—his political ideas are even older than his advanced years (he’s 72). Whether it’s plumping for unsustainable old-age entitlements or leading the charge on the drug war, Biden represents the past, not the future.


Gillespie claims Biden is still viable because of supposed shortcomings of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders,

…even though his odd behavior and logorrhea are legendary. Last year, The Daily Show went to town on “creepy” Joe’s semi-chokehold on Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s wife during a swearing-in ceremony; the veep pulled the same trick on various pre-pubescent daughters of random senators too. Fully half of the internet is taken up with lists of Biden gaffes, which range from the bizarre (“You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent”) to the more-bizarre (Obama, he averred, is “articulate and bright and clean and a good-looking guy…that’s a storybook, man”) to the please-god-make-it-stop (“I’d rather be at home making love to my wife while my children are asleep”).

Beyond the eww factor, his loose talk about “Shylocks,” “Orientals,” and disgraced sexual harasser and former Senator Bob Packwood during a commemoration of the passage of The Violence Against Women Act is difficult to simply laugh off. As is his truly disturbing record of plagiarism and lying.

During his failed presidential campaign in 1988, Biden had to cop not only to getting an F during his law school days for cheating but to having ripped off speeches by John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Hubert Humphrey. Even more amazingly, Biden cribbed biographical details from British Labour politician Neil Kinnock, including lines about ancestors who “would come up [from coal mines] after 12 hours and play football.” What kind of politician plagiarizes not simply other people’s word but other people’s lives? That’s not a storybook, man, that’s a nutjob.

There’s more disturbing stuff at the link.

Joe_Biden_Is_That_Creepy_Uncle_You_Avoided_at_Family_Reunions_as_a_Kid__195073I’ve included photos of some of Creepy Uncle Joe’s cringe-inducing public behavior toward women, girls, men, and boys in this post. Here’s a must-read 2012 article about touchy-feely Joe from The New York Times: What are we going to do about Creepy Uncle Joe Biden? by Alexandra Petrie. It’s satire, but very on-point, IMO.

Finally, if Joe decides to run, Anita Hill is going to be an issue, as Edward Isaac Dovere wrote at Politico in September: Joe Biden’s Anita Hill problem.

If Joe Biden gets into the presidential race, allies and supporters of Hillary Clinton say there are just two words that will make a difference as he seeks support among women and African-Americans: Anita Hill.

Nearly 24 years have passed since the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in which Hill, a respected law professor, was grilled under oath about alleged inappropriate sexual behavior by Thomas, her former boss. The graphic testimony gripped Washington and the country and spurred intense public conversations about sex, harassment and the nominee’s charge of being subjected to a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.”

Biden’s done a lot over the past 24 years, including authoring the landmark Violence Against Women Act and leading its four reauthorizations. But that hasn’t erased the memories of how Biden presided over those hearings as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blamed for doing little to stop the attacks on Hill and opting not to call three other witnesses who would have echoed Hill’s charges of sexual harassment. Biden almost apologetically gave Thomas the benefit of the doubt, critics say, and that stance helped put Thomas on the Supreme Court.

Ever since, for many women and blacks, Hill’s name conjures an image of a black woman struggling under attack by a dozen powerful white men asking aggressive questions and questioning her character.

Dovere also notes that Biden would have to trash the first viable woman candidate for president in order to win.
For months now, I’ve thought that Biden would never do it, but over the past few days it’s sounding more and more as if he will get into the race. I think it would end badly for him, but it could also hurt the Democrats’ chances in the general election. I just hope someone can get it through his head that it’s just too late. I really think he’s being incredibly selfish.
What stories are you following today? This is an open thread.