I’ve been so busy helping my Mom for the past few days that I haven’t been able to keep up with the news as much as I usually do. Fortunately Mom is doing well, and I plan to get back home before Halloween. I did have jury duty scheduled on October 20, but I was able to postpone it until next May. I want to avoid having it fall during a snowstorm or when the roads are really bad. I really hope the coming winter won’t be as bad in Boston as it was last year, but you never know.
Look at what’s going on down in South Carolina. The Washington Post has a helpful explanatory article on it: The meteorology behind South Carolina’s catastrophic, 1,000-year rainfall event.
The rains are tapering off in South Carolina after a disastrous weekend that brought over two feet of rain and catastrophic flooding. Dams have been breached, rivers are at record flood stage, homes and cars are filled with water and multiple people have been reported dead in the disaster.
Authorities in South Carolina on Monday urged people to stay home if it was safe to do so, saying that flooding was expected to continue in more than half the state for several days. On Sunday, authorities responded to hundreds of reports of trees in roadways and hundreds of reports of flooded roads. Tens of thousands of sandbags were used by state and local agencies, while a stretch of Interstate 95 was shut down and traffic rerouted. Overnight, several cities and counties declared curfews, while others have declared states of emergency….
According to statistics compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, South Carolina’s torrential weekend rain has well surpassed a 1,000-year rainfall event — one that, on average, we would expect to see about every 1,000 years. A three-day, 1,000-year rainfall event for Charleston County would have been 17.1 inches. A four-day, 1,000-year event would have been 17.5 inches. Boones Farm Plantation, just north of Mount Pleasant, in Charleston County, reported more than 24 inches of rain through Sunday morning, which essentially blows NOAA’s 1,000-year events scale out of the water.
So this must have been caused by Hurricane Joaquin, right?
Hurricane Joaquin did play an indirect role in South Carolina’s weekend deluge, but there’s much more to this meteorological story.
As Hurricane Joaquin tracked north, well east of the coast, a separate, non-tropical low pressure system was setting up shop over the Southeast late last week. This system drew in a deep, tropical plume of water vapor off the tropical Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, this upper-level low pressure system tapped into the moist outflow of Hurricane Joaquin.
The moisture pipeline fed directly into a pocket of intense uplift on the northern side of the non-tropical vortex. Within this dynamic “sweet spot,” thunderstorms established a training pattern, passing repeatedly over the same location and creating a narrow corridor of torrential rain stretching from Charleston to the southern Appalachians.
The remarkable thing about this process is that it was sustained for three days.
Read much more at the link. Gee, you don’t suppose this has anything to do with global climate change, do you? Naaaaah.
The U.S. military and the Obama administration are having a hard time explaining why they bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan over the weekend. The Washington Post reports:
A heavily-armed U.S. gunship designed to provide added firepower to special operations forces was responsible for shooting and killing 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan over the weekend, Pentagon officials said Monday.
The attack occurred in the middle of the night Saturday, when Afghan troops—together with a U.S. special forces team training and advising them—were on the ground near the hospital in Kunduz, the first major Afghan city to fall to the Taliban since the war began in 2001. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said Monday the airstrike was requested by Afghan troops who had come under fire, contradicting earlier statements from Pentagon officials that the strike was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.
The new details of the attack, and the continuing dispute over what exactly happened, heightened the controversy over the strike. In the two days since the incident, U.S. officials have struggled to explain how a U.S. aircraft wound up attacking a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. On Monday, the medical humanitarian group said the United States was squarely responsible.
“The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs,” Doctors Without Borders’ general director Christopher Stokes said in a statement. “With such constant discrepancies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”
The weekend’s disastrous airstrike reinforces doubts about how effectively a limited U.S. force in Afghanistan can work with Afghan troops to repel the Taliban, which has been newly emboldened as the United States draws down its presence.
The strike also comes as the Obama administration is currently weighing whether to keep as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2015, according to senior officials. Obama has not made a final decision on the proposal, but the recent advances by the Taliban have certainly complicated the president’s calculus.
The truth is that US forces have killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East, but most of them didn’t have the cachet and the ability to engage the media that Doctors Without Borders does. Unfortunately, the administration’s explanations for the strike on the hospital have been all over the place. Also well worth reading is Amy Davidson’s column at The New Yorker: Five Questions About the Bombing of a Hospital in Kunduz.
Dakinikat had a great post on guns and gun control yesterday. I didn’t have time to read it carefully until this morning, so naturally gun stories caught my eye when I started to look at today’s news. There’s never any shortage of tragic stories involving guns. The worst ones are incidents in which children kill children.
An 11-year-old Tennessee boy was charged with shooting an 8-year-old girl to death with a 12-gauge shotgun after an argument over puppies Saturday, NBC affiliate WBIR reported.
A neighbor told the station that the girl, MaKayla Dyer, had been playing with neighbors on Saturday night in White Pine, outside Knoxville.
She started talking with the boy, who has not been identified, through an open window at his home.
“He asked the little girl to see her puppies,” the neighbor, Chasity Atwood, told WBID. “She said no and laughed and then turned around, looked at her friend and said, ‘Let’s go get the — ‘ and never got ‘puppies’ out.”
The boy had already shot her in the chest.
Dyer was transported to Morristown-Hamblen Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The boy is being held in juvenile court on charges of first-degree murder.
This kid had access to a loaded shotgun in his home? What the hell is wrong with his parents?
In Ohio, an 11-year-old South Carolina boy accidentally shot and killed his 12-year old brother. CantonRep.com reports:
A 12-year-old South Carolina boy was fatally shot Friday in what authorities say was an accident during a target-shooting outing.
The victim was identified as Joseph Baily of More, South Carolina. The shooting occurred in the 8400 block of Bay Road in Carroll County’s Lee Township, southeast of Carrollton.
“It was an accident,” county Sheriff Dale Williams said Monday. “It (shooter) was a juvenile. It was a brother. His brother was 11 years old.” ….
“They were actually target shooting,” Carroll County Coroner Mandal Haas said. “They were visiting a friend they knew here in Ohio. This was real ammunition. It was a head wound.”
The weapon was a handgun.
“The 11-year-old picked up a weapon off of a picnic table,” Sheriff Williams said. “He accidentally shot it.”
While the shooting was accidental, Carroll County authorities, however, could file criminal charges. Those charges could be filed against who ever failed to secure the weapon.
Too little, too late. And check this one out from Georgia. CBS46.com Atlanta: Road rage suspect points gun at car, police let him go free.
A motorcycle driver who was caught on camera pulling out a gun and pointing it at another driver Sunday was allowed to go free, and a witness wants to know why.
It happened on State Highway 54 in Coweta County near the Fayette County line. To the man who captured the incident on his private dashboard camera, it looked like an incident of road rage, plain and simple.
The witness who recorded the video is a former Georgia police officer. CBS46 News is protecting his identity because of the nature of his current work. He said it’s his opinion that the motorcycle driver put everyone near him in danger. If the rider felt threatened, it appeared he had the power to get away from the situation, the witness said.
“Drawing a firearm, in just about every case, should be an absolute last resort. It seems like it was this guy’s first resort,” said the witness.
The witness followed the motorcycle while on the phone with 911 and helped police catch up with him. The rider was put in handcuffs, but in a surprise move, Coweta County Sheriff’s deputies decided to let him go.
“This guy is college-age. We know what just happened in Oregon. How do you not take a firearm out of the hand of a guy who’s going to behave this way- who’s going to act this reckless?” asked the witness.
So what was their reason for not arresting him? The witness said deputies told him they didn’t think the people in the black car would be in town to testify at the first appearance in court. It’s an excuse the former police officer said he’s not buying.
Nice. The guy who got off scot-free could be the next mass murderer.
But what about when gun victims are shot by the police? Ordinarily, I don’t agree with Connor Friedersdorf, but he has a great piece in The Atlantic: Police in California Killed More Than 610 People Over 6 Years.
The ACLU of Southern California has been working to understand how many people have been killed by law enforcement in America’s most populous state. What they found is alarming. Over a six-year period that ended in 2014, California’s Department of Justice recorded 610 instances of law enforcement committing homicide “in the process of arrest.”
That figure is far from perfect. It excludes some homicides in 2014 that are still being investigated. And it understates the actual number of people killed by police officers and sheriffs deputies in other ways. For example, after Dante Parker was mistaken for a criminal, stunned with a Taser at least 25 times, hog-tied face down, and denied medical care, California authorities classified his death as “accidental.”
Still, the official number is 610 homicides attributed to law enforcement “in the process of arrest.”
Officially, 608 are classified as justified. Just two are officially considered unjustified. In one unjustified killing, there’s video of a policeman shooting Oscar Grant in the head as he lay face down in a BART station. In the other, there is extended video of police brutally beating a mentally ill man, Kelly Thomas, to death.
Officially speaking, only police officers who were being filmed killed people in unjustified ways. Whether law enforcement performs less professionally when cameras are rolling is unclear. But it seems more likely that the spread of digital-recording technology will reveal that unjust killings are more common than was previously thought.
Read the rest of this important article at the link.
I’ll end with a couple of political stories. Politico has an exclusive on Joe Biden this morning: Biden himself leaked word of his son’s dying wish.
Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about his late son since August.
Aug. 1, to be exact — the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation.
According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because “the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”
It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.
But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.
What an a-hole.
By every account of those surrounding Biden, Beau is constantly on his father’s mind. But so are Clinton’s poll numbers — and his own, as the vice president notes in private details, such as the crosstab data that show him drawing more support from Clinton than Bernie Sanders. So is the prospect of what it would mean to run against a candidate who would make history as the first female nominee, and potentially first female president. So is knowing that the filing deadlines are quickly closing in and that he almost certainly has to decide in roughly the next week to make even a seat-of-the-pants campaign possible.
“Calculation sort of sounds crass, but I guess that’s what it is,” said one person who’s recently spoken to Biden about the prospect of running. “The head is further down the road than the heart is.”
Ugh. There’s plenty more disgusting stuff at Politco, including some tidbits about Biden’s “secret” meeting with Elizabeth Warren.
Finally, the king of a-holes continues to act unpresidential. From Business Insider:
Real-estate developer Donald Trump took his feud with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) to a rather unique place this week, sending a gag gift to Rubio’s presidential campaign office.
According to CNN, Trump’s campaign sent Rubio a “a care package” on Monday containing a 24-pack case of “Trump Ice” bottled water, two “Make America Great Again” towels, and a note that said: “Since you’re always sweating, we thought you could use some water. Enjoy!”
As much as I can’t stand Rubio, Trump is the worst of the worst.
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!
Following last week’s marathon “debate,” Republican presidential candidates have continued to spread hate everywhere they go.
Current front runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson are pushing hatred of Muslims, along with insinuations that we already have one in the White House.
Bloomberg Politics: Donald Trump on Muslims: ‘Are You Trying to Say We Don’t Have a Problem?’
Trump, the front runner for the 2016 Republican nomination, was asked on CNN’s State of the Union about his campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday. At the event, an audience member said President Barack Obama was a Muslim, that the U.S. has a problem with Muslims, and asked “when can we get rid of them?” At Thursday’s event and again on CNN, Trump did not criticize or correct the question.
“We could be politically correct if you want,” Trump said. “Are you trying to say we don’t have a problem?” ….
“We have radicals that are doing things,” he said. “It wasn’t people from Sweden that blew up the World Trade Center.”
On This Week, continued his anti-Muslim ranting. Bloomberg reports:
On ABC’s “This Week” broadcast, Trump again referred to “a worldwide problem” with Muslims, according to a transcript provided by the network.
“You look around the world, it is a problem,” Trump said. “You know, the terrorism and everything else, it seems to be pretty much confined there.”
Trump also declined several times during the ABC interview to say that he believed Obama was born in the U.S.
Lovely. I guess Trump hasn’t noticed all the domestic terrorists here in the U.S. Dylann Roof, for example is no Muslim.
From the transcript of This Week, Jonathan Karl reports on a Trump appearance in Iowa at a high school homecoming.
KARL (voice-over): Trump didn’t challenge his supporter’s false claim about the president’s background….
KARL (voice-over): But Trump has no apologies. He recited his Twitter account for an Iowa crowd on Saturday.
TRUMP: So I started by saying, “Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don’t think so.”
KARL (voice-over): So is Donald Trump playing with fire? Or simply playing to his base?
A recent poll shows more than half of Trump’s supporters believe President Obama is Muslim and 28 percent of Republicans think the president wasn’t born in the U.S. Even Trump has admitted his conspiracy theories over the president’s birth are part of his appeal, as he told me two years ago.
KARL: You don’t acknowledge that you went overboard on this whole birther stuff?
TRUMP: Actually, I think it made me very popular, if you want to know the truth, OK? So I do think I know what I’m doing.
Yes, Trump is spreading hate, and he knows exactly what he’s doing.
And then there’s Ben Carson. The Guardian: Ben Carson says no Muslim should ever become US president.
The Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has said no Muslim should be president of the United States of America.
In an interview with NBC for broadcast on Sunday morning, the retired neurosurgeon said: “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”
Carson’s discussion with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd centered around controversy that arose this week when Donald Trump – the real-estate mogul keeping Carson in second place in the polls – failed to correct an audience member at a New Hampshire campaign rally who said President Obama was a Muslim.
The audience member also appeared to advocate the forcible removal of Muslims from the US….
In his NBC interview, Carson was asked: “So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the constitution?”
“No,” he said, “I don’t, I do not.”
Article VI of the US constitution states: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The first amendment to the constitution begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”
What does Carson think about Muslims as Congresspeople?
Carson was also asked if he would consider voting for a Muslim candidate for Congress.
He said: “Congress is a different story, but it depends on who that Muslim is and what they’re policies are, just as it depends on what anybody else says, you know.”
Two members of Congress, both Democrats, are Muslim: Keith Ellison of Minnesota was elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 and André Carson of Indiana followed in 2008.
Fortunately, neither of these freaks is likely to be president or even see the inside of the White House anytime soon.
Fading presidential candidate Scott Walker’s hatred is focused on labor unions. From The American Prospect: A Desperate Scott Walker Brings Anti-Labor Crusade to National Stage.
Earlier this week, Republican presidential contender Scott Walker detailed how he would bring his anti-labor crusade to the federal level, unveiling an expansive plan that would eliminate the National Labor Relations Board, ban federal public sector unions, and make the United States a right-to-work country, among a host of other anti-worker policies he said would give “power to the people, not the union bosses.” ….
As recently as July, Walker was leading the polls in Iowa. He’s since plummeted to the bottom of the Iowa field with just 3 percent support. Worse yet, as he admitted after yesterday’s debate, his entire campaign is premised on winning the Iowa caucuses, which kick-off the contest for delegates. “I think we’re putting all our eggs in the basket of Iowa, we’re committed to Iowa, and I think that’ll help us make the case all throughout the country,” Walker told MSNBC .
With Walker following a similar downward spiral as the announcement of his anti-labor plan appears to be an attempt at to lock-down uneasy big-money donors who stand to benefit from gutting worker rights. Walker needs to ensure that he will remain funded well into the primary season.
“The way the system is now set up, to stay alive, you have to really convince your relatively few big donors to stay in the game,” says Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center. “[His plan] seems to be aimed at the donors, not the public.”
Hillary Clinton appeared on Face The Nation yesterday. Here’s the transcript of the interview. And here are the headlines in the corporate media.
Hillary Clinton said Sunday the U.S. should commit to taking in 65,000 Syrian refugees next financial year, a significantly higher number than the 10,000 the Obama administration has announced it will accept.
“We’re facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and I think the United States has to do more, and I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000 to 65,000, to begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in,” Clinton told Face the Nation moderator John Dickerson on Sunday….
Clinton said on Sunday that the U.S. should prioritize taking in the most vulnerable — including, she says, Christians and Yazidi women — before repeating her call for a global meeting to address the issue.
“I also want the United States to lead the world, and I’ve recommended at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly there be an international meeting called by the secretary general and literally get people to commit [to] putting money in, helping the frontline states like Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon who’ve absorbed a lot refugees, working with the EU and the European countries, but getting everybody to make a contribution,” Clinton said.
In an interview with John Dickerson, moderator of CBS’s Face the Nation, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she can claim outsider status since she could possibly be the first female president.
“In politics this year, it looks like everything wants an outsider,” Dickerson said. “Now that puts you in a fix.”
“Tell us why this doesn’t put you in a fix,” Dickerson said to laughter from Clinton.
“I cannot imagine anyone being more of an outsider than the first woman president,” Clinton stated. “I mean, really, let’s think about that.”
CBS News: “I am a real person,” Hillary Clinton says.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was stumped Sunday when “Face the Nation” moderator John Dickerson asked her to name three words that describe “the real Hillary Clinton.”
“Just three? I can’t possibly do that!” Clinton said, throwing hear head back with laughter. “I mean, look, I am a real person with all the pluses and minuses that go along with being that. And I’ve been in the public eye for so long that I think, you know, it’s like the feature that you see in some magazines sometimes, ‘Real people actually go shopping,’ you know?”
On Dickerson’s question about voters wanting an outsider as president:
“I know you’re asking, ‘Do we want people who have never been elected to anything, who have no political experience, who have never made any hard choices in the public area?'” she told moderator John Dickerson. “Well, voters are going to have to decide that.”
She also addressed criticism that she is too deep inside the political system to help reorient the economy back toward the middle class.
“I have an economic policy that is centered on raising incomes, because I think what we inherited from the Bush administration, what President Obama had to deal with, had the potential of becoming a ‘Great Depression,’ not just a ‘Great Recession,'” Clinton said. “We have now recovered 13 million jobs after losing 800,000 a month when he came into office. So why would we go back to the same policies? Call them insider, call them tilted toward the rich, call them giving corporations a free pass to do whatever they want. I’m against that, I’ve always been against that.”
She added, “So you know, I’m not running for Bill’s third term, I’m not running for President Obama’s third term, but it would be foolish of me not to say, ‘You know, that worked better than what the Republicans offer.'”
Channel 10 News Tampa Bay: Hillary Clinton: I’m not preparing for Joe Biden.
Hillary Clinton said she and her team are not taking steps to prepare for a possible late entry into the Democratic presidential primary by Vice President Joe Biden.
“This is such a personal decision and the vice president has to sort this out,” Clinton said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “He’s been so open in talking about how difficult this time is for him and his family and he’s obviously considering what he wants to do including whether he wants to run.”
“I just have the greatest respect and affection for him and I think everybody just ought to give him the space to decide what’s best for his family,” she added.
Biden met with political advisers Monday at his residence in Washington, D.C. as part of his ongoing conversation with family, friends and staff over whether to jump into the 2016 presidential race.
Over the last few days, some Democratic donors have also calls for the vice president to mount a challenge to Clinton.
According to Chuck Todd and friends, Biden’s wife has given him her blessing to joint the presidential race.
Contrary to reports suggesting Vice President Joe Biden’s wife remains an obstacle to his potential presidential run, sources tell NBC News that Jill Biden is fully behind him for another bid.
Jill Biden, sources tell NBC’s Chuck Todd, is 100 percent on-board with a presidential run, despite reports indicating her hesitation is part of what’s keeping Biden from jumping into the race.
And that looks more likely by the day, as sources have indicated Biden’s been meeting with Democratic leaders during his travels around the nation over the past week to tell them he wants to do it and thinks there’s room for him to make a credible bid if he does.
The key question that’s still weighing on his mind as he decides whether to make another go of it: Does he have the emotional energy to give it his all, sources say.
Whatever. I still don’t think he’ll do it. Apparently he thinks he needs to make up his mind by October 1, so we won’t have to listen to the speculation much longer.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?
Good Morning (Barely)!!
I wish I could spend this morning looking at paintings on the internet and then take a long nap. I don’t want to know anymore about workplace shootings, theater shootings, “domestic abuse” killings, rapes, hate crimes, and clown car politicians who stoke the rage of crazy people. This country, this world cannot be as crazy as it seems, can it? Here’s some of crazy stuff I’ve been reading. The peaceful paintings are to distract us from the insanity of today’s current events.
On the latest nutcase shooting:
Vester Flanagan, the gunman who killed two journalists in Virginia, was told by his bosses to seek medical help after colleagues at the television station where he worked with his victims repeatedly complained about him, according to memos obtained by the Guardian.
Several flare-ups were detailed in internal messages from Dan Dennison, then the news director of WDBJ7, that were sent to Flanagan and copied to senior colleagues. Flanagan on Wednesday morning shot deadreporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward.
Flanagan, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound later on Wednesday, was reprimanded for “lashing out” at a colleague and for his “harsh language” and “aggressive body language” while working as a reporter.
He was told to contact employee assistance professionals at the company Health Advocate. “This is a mandatory referral requiring your compliance,” Dennison told Flanagan on 30 July 2012. “Failure to comply will result in termination of employment.”
On Christmas Eve that year, Dennison emailed colleagues to say he had just warned Flanagan that he had one final chance to save his job. “I’m not entirely sure where his head is at,” said Dennison. Flanagan was fired three months later.
Flanigan apparently spent months preparing to go out with a bang with everything recorded on social media before he committed suicide. More links:
The Daily Beast: TV Station Called 911 When They Fired Vester Flanagan.
Fox News: Inside Vester Lee Flanagan’s life.
We old folks remember how shocked we were when Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. Little did we know that a half century later such horrifying events would become almost ordinary–shocking at first but swiftly and easily absorbed into the flow of daily violence reported by the news media.
The latest from the crazy-ass Duggar family:
In a bombshell world-exclusive interview with In Touch magazine, stripper and porn star Danica Dillon, 28, reveals she had sex not once, but on two separate occasions, with Josh Duggar, both occurring when his wife, Anna, was pregnant with their fourth child!
Danica — who passed a polygraph test conducted for In Touch by a top certified polygrapher on Aug. 24 — details her two sexual encounters with Josh in the new issue of +In Touch+, on newsstands now. The first occurred after Josh approached her at the Gold Club in Philadelphia, where she was performing, in mid-March and the second only a month later when Danica was performing at Creekside Cabaret in Colmar, Pa.
Josh paid Dillon for “$600 in private dances,” and then asked her to spend the night with him. She agreed to do it for $1,500, but she soon learned that Josh was into violent sex.
Danica admits she “took the opportunity because Josh offered to gift [her] $1,500.” But soon after Josh arrived at her hotel m, things got rough.
“He was manhandling me, basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll,” Danica, whose real name is Ashley Lewis, and although the sex was consensual, “It was very traumatic. I’ve had rough sex before, but this was terrifying.”
Ugh. A few more Duggar links:
AP via ydr.com: Josh Duggar in rehab after admitting to pornography habit.
Amanda Marcotte at Slate: Josh Duggar’s Brother-in-Law Speaks Out Against Him.
Zach J. Hoag at Huffington Post: Divorcing Josh Duggar’s Monster God.
I don’t believe for one minute that Josh Duggar got so warped without some serious abuse in early childhood. Mark my words, it will come out eventually.
The latest on creepy old Uncle Joe:
New York Times: Tom Harkin Cautions Joe Biden Against Running for President.
Former Senator Tom Harkin, a fixture in Iowa Democratic politics for over four decades, discouraged Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday from entering the presidential race, suggesting that Hillary Rodham Clinton, if elected, could name him to a top diplomatic post instead.
Mr. Harkin, who served with Mr. Biden in the Senate for nearly 25 years and is now supporting Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, said the vice president should not risk ending his career with what would be a third bid for the presidency.
“He has served the country so well and been a good friend of mine — I love Joe,” Mr. Harkin said in a phone interview. “I just don’t think this would be a wise move.”
Without prompting, Mr. Harkin added that there were “other ways Joe can serve the country.”
“With Hillary as president, I can see him being secretary of state or ambassador to the United Nations,” he said. “There are a lot of things he can do down the road that would be of valuable service to the country or the world.”
Good advice. It sounds like Biden is having second thoughts anyway.
Christian Science Monitor: Poll: Joe Biden runs better than Hillary Clinton against Republicans.
Well, the grass is always greener . . . those poll numbers would collapse very quickly if Biden actually got into the race.
The latest on the elephant in the clown car:
Joe Conason at The National Memo: ‘Fascist’ Trump Isn’t First Demagogue Laughed Off As A Buffoon.
Although he is still a clown, nobody laughs at Donald Trump anymore — which may be the real purpose of his candidacy, at least as far as he is concerned. The casino mogul is pleased to instill fear among Republican elites, as he dominates their presidential nominating contest — and forces them to face a hard question about the man who is exciting such belligerent enthusiasm among Republican voters:
Is Trump a real live fire-breathing fascist?
From Newsweek to Salon to the Daily Caller, commentators of various colorations have found ample reason to apply that often-discredited label to him. While these observers hesitate to lump Trump in with totalitarian dictatorships and historic crimes against humanity, they are clearly worried by his strongman appeal, his populist rhetoric, and his rejection of GOP free-market orthodoxy. Matt Lewis complains that Trump is reviving Nietzschean notions that inspired fascist ideology; Jeffrey Tucker warns that Trump is hostile to individual freedom and sees himself as the embodiment of the state, like fascist leaders before him.
Such worried conservatives aren’t wrong, but they seem unwilling or unable to grasp the clearest evidence that Trump is channeling toxic currents from the past—namely, his appeals to racial bigotry, his xenophobic and truculent attitude toward other nations, and his extremist “solution” to the problem of illegal immigration. Others have observed that the Republicans have only themselves to blame for encouraging the crude prejudices that Trump now calls forth in his “un-P.C.” way, as Maureen Dowd so cutely phrased it.
Read the rest at the link. I have to admit that Trump is starting to scare me. More links:
Nate Silver: Donald Trump Is Running A Perpetual Attention Machine.
Jennifer L. Pozner at Politico: Think Reality TV Is Sexist? Blame Donald Trump.
Amanda Marcotte at TPM Cafe: Why Fox News’ Defense Of Megyn Kelly Is Going To Backfire.
Greg Sargent: Megyn Kelly nails it on why Donald Trump matters.
Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Insults Rattle Republican Rivals, Please Fans.
That’s about all the news I can stomach for this morning. Am I just focusing on the negative or are things really this bad?
As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and enjoy your Thursday.
I can’t believe I have a cold in June–sore throat, stuffy nose, and a cough. Ugh. Plus the town is working the water pipes on my street, and they are right in front of my house for the second day. This morning they have shut off my running water. I don’t know how long it will be, because I wasn’t even warned they were going to be digging a giant trench that would keep me from getting my car out of the driveway for two days straight. What if I had to get to a job?
There is a huge digger machine in front of the house, men all over my yard and driveway. Occasionally there are loud thumps that shake the house. Late yesterday they filled in the trench temporarily, but I still wouldn’t have dared drive my car out because there was a depression at the end of the driveway that looked like it would be difficult to get past.
I just hope they finish up today. I have known for a long time that they were going to do this, but I expected to be told when they would be shutting off my water and blocking my driveway. Oh well . . . fortunately I don’t need to get out.
I had something really interesting that I wanted to write about today, but I’m going to postpone that until Saturday when I hope I’ll be feeling more like myself. This post will be basically a link dump.
Here’s the latest on the GOP clown car.
We all knew that Ted Cruz was a giant a-hole, but this is really beyond the pale. From David Nir at DailyKos,
Joe Biden has suffered far, far more tragedy than anyone should ever have to endure in a lifetime. In 1972, just weeks after he first won election to the Senate, Biden’s wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident. Last week, his 46-year-old son Beau, who survived that same accident, died of brain cancer.
As Biden’s son Beau’s body awaited burial, Cruz decided to tell a “cruel joke” about his grieving father.
“You know, Vice President Joe Biden,” he said as a few chuckles emerged from the crowd, setting up the joke for him.
“You know the nice thing. You don’t need a punchline. I promise you it works. At the next party you’re at, just walk up to someone and say, ‘Vice President Joe Biden,’ and just close your mouth. They will crack up laughing.”
Afterward reporter Chad Livengood asked Cruz about the death of Biden’s son. Cruz’s response was telling.
Q: Could you talk about the vice president losing his son this week?
A: Heartbreaking and tragic, and our prayers are very much with Vice President Biden, with Jill. It’s a tragedy no one should have to endure.
Q: Why’d you tell a joke about the vice president tonight?
A: Uh …. [walks away]
Cruz later “apologized,” according to The Detroit News:
“It was a mistake to use an old joke about Joe Biden during his time of grief, and I sincerely apologize,” Cruz said in a statement. “The loss of his son is heartbreaking and tragic, and our prayers are very much with the Vice President and his family.”
Cruz used the joke to talk about Biden’s past comments about firing off a double-barrel shotgun to ward off intruders — one of several stump-speech jabs at Democrats.
“That is very, very good advice — if it so happens that you’re being attacked by a flock of geese,” Cruz said….
Cruz was the keynote speaker for the Livingston County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner at Crystal Gardens banquet center in Howell.
I thought Jeb Bush was already running for president, but apparently he’s still playing games in an attempt to get media attention. From the AP, via Huffington Post: Jeb Bush Teases Presidential Announcement On June 15.
The former Florida governor, widely expected to run for the GOP nomination, tweeted “coming soon” with a link to the website. On that page, the date 06.15.15 was listed, followed by the tease, “BE THE FIRST TO KNOW. RSVP NOW!” Visitors to the site could enter their name and email address. Bush also tweeted it in Spanish, “Próximamente 6.15.15.”
Boooooorrrrrrringggggg . . .
And then there’s the scandal-ridden former governor of Texas.
USA Today: Rick Perry launches 2016 presidential campaign.
ADDISON, Texas — Former Texas governor Rick Perry will announce Thursday that he’ll make a second bid for the White House.
The campaign’s new website went up early in the day, saying that Perry offers “tested leadership” and “proven results,” particularly in job creation.
Perry, who served as Texas governor for 14 years, plans to stress his experience, saying in a campaign video: “It’s going to be a show-me, don’t-tell-me, election.”
Yawn . . . .
Politico reports that Lady Lindsey “compare[d] Hillary Clinton to Kim Jong Un.”
Lindsey Graham says Hillary Clinton is avoiding media questions on the campaign trail because she lacks confidence in her own foreign policy record.
“Well, it’s easier to talk to the North Korean guy than it is her,” the Republican senator from South Carolina said in a “Fox & Friends” interview Thursday, an apparent reference to dictator Kim Jong-un.
“I think it’s the lack of confidence in her ability to distinguish herself from Barack Obama,” he added.
Clinton will be speaking on voting rights this afternoon at Texas Southern University, whose press guidance for the speech circulated Wednesday stipulated that there will be “NO opportunities to interview Hillary Clinton; her speech will be her interview.”
Hahahahaha! Now why wouldn’t Hillary want to talk to the media? Here are a few clues:
Josh Rogin at Bloomberg View: Why Hillary Can’t Run on Her State Department Record.
Washington Post: Clinton rivals pounce as her ratings fall.
Business Insider: There’s only one thing Wall Street hates about Hillary Clinton, and it has nothing to do with all the scandals. This one is incredible. according to author Linette Lopez, Wall Street insiders think the Clintons are “so shady, but Wall Street is a shady business.” And If supporting Clintons makes someone more money or gives them more power, they will instantly overlook their incessant corruption,”
At least the media wants to talk to her, unlike some of her competitors.
So far no one is reporting that Martin O’Malley is largely responsible for the policing problems in Baltimore. Maybe it’s because O’Malley has no chance in hell to beat Hillary.
And then there’s former Republican Lincoln Chafee, who would probably fit in pretty well in the clown car.
Politico: Lincoln Chafee can’t win his local paper.
Moving on to other news . . . .
I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but Boston Police shot a man on Tuesday. He was a suspected terrorist.
From The Boston Herald: Roslindale man killed in showdown with anti-terror task force.
An armed 26-year-old man under constant surveillance by an anti-terrorism task force was shot and killed by an FBI agent and a Boston police officer in Roslindale this morning after he came at them with a military-style knife, authorities say.
The suspect was identified by police as Usaama Rahim of Roslindale.
“He was on foot, under surveillance,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said. “The officers have been surveilling him and again they wanted to speak to him … and he turned and our officers gave several commands for him to drop the weapon and unfortunately he came at the officers and they did what they were trained to do and that’s never an easy decision for any officer to make.”
One FBI agent and one BPD officer fired, FBI Special Agent in Charge Vincent B. Lisi said.
Evans said “the level of alarm” had them want to question Rahim today.
Lisi added task-force members — who had Rahim under 24-hour watch — wanted to “interview him and talk to him about his intentions and some other matters.” At the time, Lisi added, Rahim was considered armed and dangerous.
Evans said a video shows Rahim “coming at the officers” as police retreated telling him to “drop the knife!” They then shot him twice, once in the torso and abdomen.
The Christian Science Monitor: After terror shooting, Boston police choose transparency over tradition.
As US police officers acknowledge feeling under siege by public unrest over deaths at the hands of police, the city of Boston, for the second time in just over a month, tried a new strategy – sharing grainy video of a police shooting with civic and religious leaders.
The new video involved a terrorism suspect, Usaama Rahim, who authorities say threatened retreating officers with a military-style knife on Tuesday before being fatally shot. The footage, community leaders said a day later, contradicted the contention by Mr. Rahim’s brother, an imam named Ibrahim Rahim, that he was shot in the back while talking to his father on the phone.
Darnell Williams, CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, declared after watching the video that Rahim “was not on a cellphone and was not shot in the back.”
Quickly releasing video to community leaders, acknowledges Daniel Conley, district attorney for Suffolk County in Massachusetts, goes against a long-held policing tradition in which investigative details are kept under wraps until a trial. The strategy stands in sharp contrast to how officers acted after last year’s shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. There, days after violent protests had already erupted, police revealed only piecemeal and contradictory information….Boston’s strategy is an attempt at transparency – to reach out to those who may have questions and concerns about what happened, and whose views can be influential in the community.
We’ll see if that holds up after further investigation, but so far it sounds somewhat positive.
According to The Boston Globe, Rahim planned to behead police officers. He was overheard talking about it on phone taps. I don’t know how he thought he’d accomplish that goal even though he had a very scary looking knife.
Usaama Rahim had been plotting for days, officials said. He bought three long-bladed fighting knives — “good for carving,” he said — and confided to his nephew and another man that he would travel to another state to commit a beheading.
But at 5 a.m. Tuesday, the plan abruptly changed, according to a federal affidavit. Rahim would murder police officers in Massachusetts.
“I’m just going to, ah, go after them, those boys in blue,” Rahim allegedly told his nephew David Wright, in a phone call recorded by an anti-terrorism task force.
Two hours later, when members of that task force approached him in a Roslindale parking lot, Rahim allegedly brandished one of his military knives. They told him to drop his weapon. “You drop yours,” he allegedly replied, before a Boston Police officer and an FBI agent shot him to death.
The details emerged as Wright, Rahim’s nephew and alleged conspirator, appeared in federal court on a charge that he obstructed the investigation by encouraging his uncle to destroy his cellphone to hide evidence.
I don’t know. It still sounds like one of those FBI sting operations . . . .
A few more links:
This sounds like another Freddie Gray incident. From Raw Story: ‘Nobody knows what happened’: Florida inmate mysteriously dies after ride in sheriff’s van.
Rhonda Garelick in an op-ed at the New York Times: The Price of Caitlyn Jenner’s Heroism. It’s not what it sounds like. Heroism should have been in quotes. Please read this one.
Eric Boehlert at Salon on why Hillary won’t talk to the media: GOP’s obscene sex-cop hypocrisy: Dennis Hastert, Hillary and the absurdity of the Clinton impeachment.
Why won’t Hillary Clinton open up to the press? Why can’t Bill and Hillary handle the media? Why has she ”withdrawn into a gilded shell“? Why does she wear media “armor“? Those questions have been rehashed in recent months as journalists focus on themselves and what role they’ll play in the unfolding nomination contest.
A suggestion: Follow the path back to Dennis Hastert’s impeachment era for clues to those Clinton press questions.
AP via the WaPo: Co-owner of Four Seasons charged with sex abuse in New York.
Good Morning America: Duggars Say Son Josh ‘Improperly Touched’ 4 of Their Daughters.
Gawker: Gawker Media Votes To Unionize.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Thursday.
The Obama administration hit 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials with sanctions today as punishment for Russia’s support of Crimea’s referendum. Among them: aides to President Vladimir Putin, a top government official, senior lawmakers, Crimean officials, the ousted president of Ukraine, and a Ukrainian politician and businessman allegedly tied to violence against protesters in Kiev.
One of the officials, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, quickly “laughed off President Obama’s sanction against him…, asking “Comrade @BarackObama” if “some prankster” came up with the list.
HuffPo quoted other Russian officials who were not impressed with Obama’s actions:
…the dire tone coming out of the White House was not shared by many who stand to lose the most from the sanctions. In Moscow, sanctioned Russian officials mocked the U.S. announcement, while in Washington, U.S. lobbyists who represent foreign clients said they were relieved that the sanctions amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist. Even the Moscow stock markets, which had been dragged down by the uncertainty in Crimea, responded positively to the news, posting some of the first gains they’ve had in weeks….
Andrei Klishas, a Russian lawmaker who was targeted, said that the U.S. rebuke was “no tragedy” for him and that he was happy to be in the company of the other sanctioned Russians. Yelena Mizulina, a member of Russia’s parliament best known for authoring the country’s controversial anti-gay propaganda legislation, said she owned no U.S. “real estate” and was “surprised” to be included, given that her role in the Crimean vote was “very modest.”
One particularly juicy response came from adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin and spinmeister Vladislav Surkov, known as the “grey cardinal” of the Kremlin. “I see the decision by the administration in Washington as an acknowledgment of my service to Russia. It’s a big honor for me. I don’t have accounts abroad,” he told the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. “The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.”
Meanwhile Putin moved ahead with the official annexation of Crimea. From the LA Times:
Russia has signed a treaty to incorporate Crimea into its territory following a referendum in which residents of Ukraine’s region overwhelmingly backed the move.
President Vladimir Putin signed the document Tuesday with Crimea’s prime minister and parliament speaker following a televised address to the nation, in which he vigorously defended Crimea’s vote as a restoration of historical justice.
Still, according to Bloomberg, Russia’s economy is approaching a crisis: Russia Sounds Alarm on Economy as West Starts With Sanctions.
“The situation in the economy bears clear signs of a crisis,” Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Belyakov said in Moscow yesterday. The cabinet needs to refrain from raising the fiscal burden on companies, which would be the “wrong approach,” he said. “Taking money from companies and asking them afterward to modernize production is illogical and strange.”
Even before the worst standoff against the West since the Cold War, Russia’s economy was facing the weakest growth since a 2009 recession as consumer demand failed to make up for sagging investment. President Vladimir Putin supported a request from Crimea to join Russia, signing an order to approve an accord on the breakaway region’s accession before a meeting today with lawmakers.
The Ukrainian crisis is putting a strain on Russia’s $2 trillion economy, which grew 1.3 percent in 2013 after expanding 3.4 percent the previous year. Last year’s growth was “insufficient” and the current outlook and government forecasts “can’t satisfy us,” Putin said March 12. The Economy Ministry projects growth will average 2.5 percent a year through 2030.
In Poland, Vice President Biden said there will be more sanctions against Russia.
Biden spoke Tuesday after meeting in Warsaw with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. He says the U.S. joins Poland and the international community in condemning the continuing assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty. He says it’s a blatant violation of international law.
Biden says virtually the entire world rejects the referendum in Crimea that cleared the way for Russia to annex the peninsula in Ukraine.
I came across this video on Twitter yesterday, and I thought it was relevant to Putin’s takeover of Crimea: Watch as 1000 years of European borders change.
Last night in the comments JJ posted a NYT article with some new information about MH 370’s flight path. I’m posting it again here. Lost Jet’s Path Seen as Altered via Computer.
Instead of manually operating the plane’s controls, whoever altered Flight 370’s path typed seven or eight keystrokes into a computer on a knee-high pedestal between the captain and the first officer, according to officials. The Flight Management System, as the computer is known, directs the plane from point to point specified in the flight plan submitted before a flight. It is not clear whether the plane’s path was reprogrammed before or after it took off.
The fact that the turn away from Beijing was programmed into the computer has reinforced the belief of investigators — first voiced by Malaysian officials — that the plane was deliberately diverted and that foul play was involved. It has also increased their focus on the plane’s captain and first officer.
Malaysian officials also changed their minds about when the plane’s communications devices were shut down.
Malaysian authorities on Monday reversed themselves on the sequence of events they believe took place on the plane in the crucial minutes before ground controllers lost contact with it early on March 8. They said it was the plane’s first officer — the co-pilot — who was the last person in the cockpit to speak to ground control. And they withdrew their assertion that another automated system on the plane, the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or Acars, had already been disabled when the co-pilot spoke.
Flight 370’s Flight Management System reported its status to the Acars, which in turn transmitted information back to a maintenance base, according to an American official. This shows that the reprogramming happened before the Acars stopped working. The Acars ceased to function about the same time that oral radio contact was lost and the airplane’s transponder also stopped, fueling suspicions that foul play was involved in the plane’s disappearance.
Investigators are scrutinizing radar tapes from when the plane first departed Kuala Lumpur because they believe the tapes will show that after the plane first changed its course, it passed through several pre-established “waypoints,” which are like virtual mile markers in the sky. That would suggest the plane was under control of a knowledgeable pilot because passing through those points without using the computer would have been unlikely.
This information leads experts to conclude that whoever diverted Flt. 370 was a highly skilled pilot. So where could the missing plane have gone?
According to Slate, there are 634 runways where a skilled pilot could have landed it.
As speculation grows that there may be a slim chance Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 landed somewhere after it suddenly disappeared from radars, WNYC published a map to illustrate all the possible runways that could have been used. The WNYC Data News team used information from X-Plane that provides runway coordinates from around the world to determine all the possible spots that could be available for the plane to land within 2,200 nautical miles, considering a Boeing 777 would need a runway of at least 5,000 feet. There are a total of 634 runways that fit the criteria, spread out across 26 countries. But of course the number of places the plane could have landed is much larger as it assumes the plane used a formal runway in the first place. Slate’s Jeff Wise spoke to a pilot who flies 777-200s who said the plane could be landed on a highway. “A runway wouldn’t even necessarily have to be paved,” wrote Wise, “hard-packed dirt would likely be good enough.”
Check out a map of the locations at the link.
You’ve probably heard that Fred Phelps, former pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church in on his deathbed. From The Independent:
He spent much of his life making unwelcome appearances at other people’s funerals, with placards bearing the infamous slogan, “God Hates Fags”. Yet now, as Fred Phelps Sr approaches his own death, even members of his close family have been barred – by other family members who have stayed loyal to him –from saying goodbye. According to a Facebook post by his estranged son Nathan Phelps, the 84-year-old founder of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), was excommunicated last summer by the group he himself founded almost 60 years ago, and is now “on the edge of death” at a hospice in Topeka, Kansas.
Nathan Phelps, the sixth of the pastor’s 13 children, fled his abusive father and the WBC in 1980. Now 55 and an avowed atheist, he lives in Canada, where he campaigns on behalf of LGBT rights. Of his father’s excommunication and imminent demise, he wrote: “I’m not sure how I feel about this. Terribly ironic that his devotion to his god ends this way. Destroyed by the monster he made. I feel sad for all the hurt he’s caused so many. I feel sad for those who will lose the grandfather and father they loved. And I’m bitterly angry that my family is blocking the family members who left from seeing him.”
Fred Phelps Sr, an ordained minister, established the WBC in Topeka in 1955, but only in the past two decades has the church become infamous for its practice of picketing the funerals of gay people, public figures and – since 9/11 – the US servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Phelps and his bitterly homophobic followers purport to believe that the deaths of US military personnel represent God’s punishment for homosexuality.
The Westboro Baptist Church was known for picketing the funerals of gay people and soldiers (Getty)The fringe Calvinist group – whose lesser-known slogans include “Fags Die, God Laughs” and “Thank God for Maimed Soldiers” – has achieved disproportionate notoriety, given that it has always consisted of fewer than 100 adherents, most members of the extended Phelps family.
Ironically, Phelps was excommunicated because he “called for kinder treatment of fellow church members.” At The Boston Globe, Chris Caesar collected reactions to the news about Phelps’ health.
I was surprised and gratified yesterday to learn that another flim flam man, Kevin Trudeau, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking advantage of unfortunate people who fell for his his fraudulent weight loss infomercials. For years, it was hard to click around the TV channels without being exposed to this smooth-talking con man selling his “cures” for obesity, illness, and poverty. From AP’s The Big Story:
Best-selling author Kevin Trudeau, whose name became synonymous with late-night TV pitches, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for bilking consumers through ubiquitous infomercials for his book, “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About.”
As he imposed the sentence prosecutors had requested, U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman portrayed the 50-year-old Trudeau as a habitual fraudster going back to his early adulthood. So brazen was Trudeau, the judge said, he once even used his own mother’s Social Security number in a scheme.
“Since his 20s, he has steadfastly attempted to cheat others for his own gain,” Guzman said, adding that Trudeau is “deceitful to the very core.”
Trudeau, whose trademark dyed black hair turned partially gray as he awaited sentencing in jail, showed little emotion as the stiff sentence was handed down at the hearing in Chicago.
Addressing the judge earlier in a 10-minute statement, Trudeau apologized and said he’s become a changed man. He said he’s meditated, prayed and read self-help books while locked up at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
“I have truly had a significant reawakening,” said Trudeau, who was dressed in orange jail clothes. “If I ever do an infomercial again … I promise: No embellishments, no puffery, no lies.”
Sure Kevin. . . Here’s an example of Trudeau’s work:
Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you following?
The Villagers are still nattering on about excepts from retired defense secretary Robert Gates’ new memoir Duty, which will be released on January 14.
The DC media is focused on Gates’ criticisms of President Obama and how they will embarrass the administration and negatively affect Hillary Clinton’s chances in 2016. What has impressed me so far in the excepts I have read is that Obama was wary of the military and willing to stand up to them. Some examples from an e-mail I received from Foreign Policy Magazine yesterday:
Gates on what Biden did to poison the military well: “I thought Biden was subjecting Obama to Chinese water torture, every day saying, ‘the military can’t be trusted.'”
On Obama’s approach to Afghanistan: “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission.”
On Obama’s approach to Afghanistan: “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.”
On Obama and Bush: “During my tenure as secretary, Bush was willing to disagree with his senior military advisers on the wars, including the important divergence between the chiefs’ concern to reduce stress on the force and the presidents’ higher priority of success in Iraq. However, Bush never (at least to my knowledge) questioned their motives or mistrusted them personally. Obama was respectful of senior officers and always heard them out, but he often disagreed with them and was deeply suspicious of their actions and recommendations. Bush seemed to enjoy the company of the senior military; I think Obama considered time spent with generals and admirals an obligation.”
On Obama as an ice man: “I worked for Obama longer than Bush and I never saw his eyes well up. The only military matter, apart from leaks, about which I ever sensed deep passion on his part was ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the law prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military that Obama successfully pushed to repeal.”
On an oval office meeting that deeply pissed him off: “…Donilon was especially aggressive in questioning our commitment to speed and complaining about how long we were taking. Then he went too far, questioning in front of the president and a room full of people whether Gen. Fraser was competent to lead this effort. I’ve rarely been angrier in the Oval Office than I was at that moment; nor was I ever closer to walking out of that historic room in the middle of a meeting. My initial instinct was to storm out, telling the president on the way that he didn’t need two secretaries of defense. It took every bit of my self discipline to stay seated on the sofa.
Every one of those quotes made me like and respect Obama and Biden more. I’m sure I’m not alone in that reaction.
A couple more “criticisms” quoted in The Atlantic: Robert Gates: The Iraq War Undermined U.S. Efforts in Afghanistan.
President Bush always detested the notion, but our later challenges in Afghanistan—especially the return of the Taliban in force by the time I reported for duty—were, I believe, significantly compounded by the invasion of Iraq. Resources and senior-level attention were diverted from Afghanistan. U.S. goals in Afghanistan—a properly sized, competent Afghan national army and police, a working democracy with at least a minimally effective and less corrupt central government—were embarrassingly ambitious and historically naive compared with the meager human and financial resources committed to the task, at least before 2009.
Who doesn’t agree with that? Well, sure some right wing nut jobs, but the majority of Americans have completely soured on the Iraq war, according to many polls over the past few years.
Wars are a lot easier to get into than out of. Those who ask about exit strategies or question what will happen if assumptions prove wrong are rarely welcome at the conference table when the fire-breathers are demanding that we strike—as they did when advocating invading Iraq, intervening in Libya and Syria, or bombing Iran’s nuclear sites. But in recent decades, presidents confronted with tough problems abroad have too often been too quick to reach for a gun. Our foreign and national security policy has become too militarized, the use of force too easy for presidents. Today, too many ideologues call for U.S. force as the first option rather than a last resort.
So Obama’s approach might have kept us out of Iraq, right? I don’t see that as a problem. I want my president to be wary of the military and hesitant to go to war. I want my president to get teary-eyed over granting rights to people who have been historically discriminated against and stay dry-eyed and rational when contemplating “military matters.”
So let Gates have his day in the sun. Today some in the media are already questioning whether his book may damage his reputation. From Foreign Policy again: Did Bob Gates’ New Book Just Trash His Golden Reputation?
Gates, 70, has unmasked himself as just another former Washington official writing just another kiss-and-tell in the soon-to-be-released Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, in which he takes shots at a sitting commander-in-chief, his top aides and Congress, an institution with which he often expressed frustration – but also respect. Gates was known for being discreet and sharp-minded, loyal to the office he occupied and careful about what he said in public. So deliberate were his public pronouncements about wars or national security policy or budgets that he became the E.F. Hutton of the Pentagon — everyone leaned in every time he had something to say.
But now his brand seems diminished by the scrappy, petty nature of many of his criticisms — even though some are substantive and legitimate — and a legacy he seemed quietly determined to protect may be permanently reduced to something less than what it once was.
We’ll have to wait and see. It’s also possible that the furor over Gates’ memoir will fade quickly, because another book is coming out on January 21, and it looks to be a lot more entertaining–the tell-all book about Fox News’ Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, by Gabriel Sherman. Excerpts started leaking out yesterday and they are wild! Check these “key revelations” from Gawker:
- During a salary negotiation in the 1980’s, Ailes offered producer Randi Harrison an additional $100 each week she would agree to have sex with him whenever he wanted.
- He also privately thinks of Bill O’Reilly as “a book salesman with a TV show” and Brian Kilmeade as “a soccer coach from Long Island.”
- During a 1990’s power struggle with NBC executive David Zaslav, Ailes was accused of making an anti-Semitic remark involving an obscenity and “the words ‘little’ and ‘Jew’.” NBC’s chairman and counsel believe “he probably said it.”
New York Magazine has published a lengthy except from Sherman’s book and it is the most fascinating and horrifying thing I’ve read in ages. Ailes is far weirder than I ever imagined. The article opens with a description of how Ailes moved into a rural town in upstate New York, hoping to return to his small-town roots, but instead bought the local newspaper and tried to transform it into a mini-Fox News. It’s a riot! Just a small except to whet your appetite for the bizarre:
As summer turned to fall, political issues began to arise. Alison Rooney, the copy editor, at first found reasons to be optimistic about the ownership change. She liked using the new computers to put out the paper and looked forward to the newsroom moving into a renovated two-story building on Main Street. But that honeymoon ended when Rooney laid out a press release from the Garrison Art Center that described a work invoking the “mythological story” of the Virgin Birth. After the release was published, the priest of Our Lady of Loretto wrote a letter to the editor, and Beth Ailes lit into Rooney. A few weeks later, Rooney got another dressing-down as she formatted a promotion of the high school’s upcoming production of Urinetown, this time from an editor who found the language offensive and removed the title of the show from the headline.
Another drama erupted after a reporter named Michael Turton was assigned to cover Haldane Middle School’s mock presidential election. After the event, Turton filed a report headlined “Mock Election Generated Excitement at Haldane; Obama Defeats McCain by 2–1 Margin.” He went on, “The 2008 U.S. presidential election is now history. And when the votes were tallied, Barack Obama had defeated John McCain by more than a two to one margin. The final vote count was 128 to 53.” Reading the published version a few days later, Turton was shocked. The headline had been changed: “Mock Presidential Election Held at Haldane; Middle School Students Vote to Learn Civic Responsibility.” So had the opening paragraph: “Haldane students in grades 6 through 8 were entitled to vote for president and they did so with great enthusiasm.” Obama’s margin of victory was struck from the article. His win was buried in the last paragraph.
Turton was upset, and wrote a questioning e-mail to Hunt, but never heard back. Instead, he received a series of accusatory e-mails from the Aileses. Turton had disregarded “specific instructions” for the piece, Beth wrote. “Do you anticipate this becoming an ongoing problem for you?” A short while later, Roger weighed in. Maureen Hunt’s instructions to focus on the school’s process for teaching about elections had been “very clear,” he wrote, and Turton’s “desire to change the story into a big Obama win” should have taken a backseat. Ailes described himself as “disappointed” by Turton’s failure “to follow the agreed upon direction.”
Soon afterward, Turton learned that Maureen Hunt had resigned, and Ailes continued his quest to bring “fair and balanced” to Philipstown.
Since I’ve been discussing new books so far, I guess I might as well continue. On Tuesday, The New York Times published interviews with some of the activists who broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1971 and stole a massive number of files. They took the files to a remote location, studied them for ten days, and found evidence of the illegal FBI domestic spying program COINTELPRO. Unlike Edward Snowden, the burglars swore to keep their identities a secret so that the story itself would get all the public attention. From the Times article:
They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups….
The burglars had, until now, maintained a vow of silence about their roles in the operation. They were content in knowing that their actions had dealt the first significant blow to an institution that had amassed enormous power and prestige during J. Edgar Hoover’s lengthy tenure as director.
“When you talked to people outside the movement about what the F.B.I. was doing, nobody wanted to believe it,” said one of the burglars, Keith Forsyth, who is finally going public about his involvement. “There was only one way to convince people that it was true, and that was to get it in their handwriting.”
That’s heroism in my book. They revealed real government abuses that had been almost unknown until they found the proof. Now one of the reporters who helped get the story out, Betty Medsger, has written a book called The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI. It came out this week, and I’m dying to read it.
By contrast Snowden and his PR man Glenn Greenwald have so far revealed very little that we didn’t already know or suspect about NSA domestic spying and have spent most of the seven months since they began rolling out their revelations 1) publishing articles about the NSA spying on foreign countries and their partnerships with foreign countries who have few espionage resources; 2) giving self-aggrandizing interviews and bragging about all the secrets they have; 3) Defending Snowden’s decision to defect to Russia. At the same time Greenwald has sold book and movie rights and worked on a media start up funded by libertarian E-bay and Paypal billionaire Pierre Omidyar. I haven’t heard anything about Greenwald sharing his earnings with Edward Snowden either.
Fortunately some in the media are beginning to point out inconsistencies in Snowden’s and Greenwald’s behavior. Here is an op-ed by Doyle McManus that lays out the case very well. Edward Snowden, in shades of gray I agree with just about everything he wrote.
Debate over the renegade computer technician who leaked thousands of secret National Security Agency documents is too often reduced to that deceptively simple choice.
But it’s the wrong way to pose the question, because Snowden is both of those things at the same time. Yes, he’s a whistle-blower, and if that were all he had done, he would deserve our thanks for forcing a debate over the NSA’s swollen powers.
But he’s also a scoundrel who deserves prosecution and public condemnation. That’s because his leaks no longer seem focused on protecting U.S. citizens’ constitutional rights or toughening safeguards on the NSA. Instead, Snowden’s disclosures have expanded far beyond those laudable aims to exposing U.S. intelligence-gathering operations that appear not only legal but legitimate in the eyes of most Americans.
McManus is referring to revelations about the NSA doing it’s job, which is gathering foreign intelligence to protect national security. A little more:
“…most of those disclosures, from Merkel to Al Qaeda, have nothing to do with Americans’ right to privacy. Snowden has acknowledged that his ambitions go far beyond limiting what the NSA can do at home. “I have acted at great personal risk to help the public of the world, regardless of whether that public is American, European or Asian,” he told the Guardian in June.
Well, OK. But that makes him, by his own description, a global crusader against NSA spying anywhere, not merely a whistle-blower against potential abuses inside the United States. It means some of his disclosures have made Americans safer against government prying, but others have probably made us less safe.
And for a man who proclaims himself a fighter for universal rights, accepting asylum in Russia and praising his hosts for their devotion to freedom does not strengthen his claim to consistency, let alone nobility.
I’ll end there and turn the floor over to you. What stories are you following today. Please post your links in the comment thread, and have a great Thursday!
There is a whole lotta bad weather over Banjoville tonight. Already the power has been out once today, so this will be quick.
Joe Biden gave a fond farewell today to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, it looks as though it was one hell of a send off. Joe Biden Positively Slays Audience With Eulogy For Frank Lautenberg
America’s famously jovial Vice President Joe Biden knocked ‘em dead on Wednesday with a heartfelt eulogy for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in New York City. His touching, humorous tribute to the late senator, the last living World War II veteran to serve in the upper chamber of Congress, was warmly received by the audience.
“Well, if there is a definition of redundant, I’m it,” Biden began, his opening line cracking up the assembled mourners.
“By the way, Josh, I’m representing the Pope,” Biden added. “Frank used to call me the only Catholic Jew he knew.”
On a serious note, Biden addressed the grief that Lautenberg’s family is contending with. “I realize that it’s beyond my capacity to find the words to do justice to Frank Lautenberg,” Biden added. “Obviously, I can’t do justice to what he meant to all of you, or even what he meant to me and to this country.”
Video at the link…
Now for the real comedy, this is hilarious. All-male House subcommittee votes to restrict abortion nationwide
An all-male House Judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday approved legislation that would impose a new nationwide restriction on abortion.
By a party line vote of 6-4, the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice approved a bill that would ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on the belief that fetuses are capable of experiencing pain after 20 weeks gestation.
When Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) first proposed the legislation, it only would have covered the District of Columbia. But Franks successfully pushed for the bill to apply nationwide following the conviction of abortion provider Kermit Gosnell.
Ha, someone please give me some pins to stick into a Trent Franks voodoo doll…and let him feel some capable pain in a certain area of his former fetus body.
Opponents of the legislation argue that it is unconstitutional because of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, which prohibits states from banning abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a similar law in Arizona’s last month.
“It is astonishing that the Subcommittee on the Constitution would support such a clear affront to the U.S. Constitution — especially when everywhere similar laws have been challenged in the courts, they have been immediately blocked,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
You can go and read the quote from Franks at the link above, but I just can’t bear to copy the shit down here.
Well, I know this is short, but it is what it is…and this is an open thread.