From The Hill:
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has appointed William “Mo” Cowen, his former chief of staff, to fill former Sen. John Kerry’s (D) seat until a special election is held this summer….
“Mo’s service on the front lines in our efforts to manage through the worst economy in 80 years and build a better, stronger Commonwealth for the next generation has earned him the respect and admiration of people throughout government,” Patrick said in a statement announcing the appointment.
Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) had also pursued the seat, but his outspoken interest might have undermined his chances of winning the appointment.
Patrick will make the official announcement at 11AM this morning.
Cowan, 43, was first hired by Patrick as his legal counsel in 2009 and was then promoted to chief of staff in 2010. Last November, Cowan stepped down from the $144,000 a year job.
Cowan is a North Carolina native and Duke University graduate who came to Boston to attend Northeastern University Law School in the early 1990s – and never left the region. One of the city’s leading African-American lawyers, Cowan is a former partner in the politically connected law firm of Mintz Levin.
Cowan will become the first African-American to represent Massachusetts in the Senate since Edward Brooke held the seat as a Republican from 1966 to 1978….
Cowan’s selection was quickly praised by Martin W. Healy, chief legal counsel for the Massachusetts Bar
Patrick and Cowan built up a strong friendship over the years, in part, because both men have risen from difficult childhoods to prominence in Boston and in the state. Patrick also served as a mentor to Cowan when both were practicing lawyers.
Much more at the link.
This is going to be a quick post since I did not realize that today is Wednesday.
Lindsey Graham is again showing us what it means to be an asshole, as he declares: ‘Clinton Got Away With Murder’ On Benghazi, Will Hold Hagel Unless Panetta Testifies
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is still searching for the silver bullet, that one piece of testimony that will prove once and for all that the Obama administration lied during the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.
Appearing on Fox News last night, Graham made clear that he was unsatisfied with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony last week, saying, “I haven’t forgotten about Benghazi. Hillary Clinton got away with murder, in my view.” Graham’s quest for the truth has now led him to current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Panetta, who has not testified before Congress about the role he played during the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in the Libya city, is due to step down from his position at the Pentagon in the coming weeks. Graham now insists that Panetta would have to provide answers on what happened that night to the Armed Services Committee, on which Graham is a member. What’s more, as he told Fox News host Greta Van Sustren, Graham now intends to place a hold on Panetta’s proposed replacement, Chuck Hagel, until he gets the answers he wants.
Honestly, when will the Republicans stop these dickish ways and quit their obstructive tactics?
When I see the way some of the GOP are reacting to the proposed immigration reform, it makes me think there is an underlying desperation in their attitude. GOP Rep Says He Opposes Immigration Reform Because Latinos Are Uneducated, Will Never Support Republicans
Republican senators in the so-called Gang of 8 working to enact comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship argue that repairing the broken system would attract Latino voters to the GOP. As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) explained during a Sunday appearance on ABC’s This Week, “We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours for a variety of reasons, and we’ve got to understand that.” In November, President Obama “won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote while Mitt Romney won 27 percent.”
But some Republicans disagree. Responding to the bipartisan framework, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) echoed the rhetoric surrounding immigrants and Democratic voters throughout the 2012 election and suggested that Hispanics would never vote for Republicans who don’t provide them with government hand outs:
“It’s amnesty that America can’t afford,” Barletta said Monday. “We have to stop people from coming in illegally. This will be a green light for anyone who wants to come to America illegally and then be granted citizenship one day.” [...]
“I hope politics is not at the root of why we’re rushing to pass a bill. Anyone who believes that they’re going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken,” Barletta said. “The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. They will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on.”
Another right-wing PAC is in the news…Top Conservatives Run PAC That Funded White Nationalists, according to Mother Jones:
wo prominent conservative movement officials who hold leadership positions for several right-wing groups—Ron Robinson and James B. Taylor—run a political action committee that donated thousands of dollars to a white nationalist organization, according to public records. And for several years Taylor was vice president of another white nationalist organization.
Robinson and Taylor are each board members of Young America’s Foundation (YAF), which cofounded the annual Conservative Political Action Conference and runs the conservative youth group Young Americans for Freedom. (YAF owns and manages the Ronald Reagan Ranch, trains conservative journalists, and calls itself “the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement.”) And Robinson, YAF’s president, is on the board of two other conservative groups: Citizens United, which brought the landmark Supreme Court case of the same name, and the American Conservative Union, which operates CPAC.
With these positions, Robinson and Taylor are at the center of mainstream conservative infrastructure. But each also sits on the three-person board of America’s PAC, a far-right outfit that in 2004 gave $5,000 to the Charles Martel Society, a white nationalist group, according to the PAC’s filing with the Federal Election Commission. Taylor, YAF’s former executive director and a current board member, founded America’s PAC in 1983. Both his and Robinson’s names appear on America’s PAC letterhead before and after the donation to the Martel Society. Since 2004, America’s PAC has raised and spent over $5 million, giving donations to dozens of Republican candidates.
And what is with the name Charles Martel Society? That name came up a lot in my medieval history classes…
The Martel Society is named for Charles Martel, who stymied a Muslim invasion of Europe by winning the Battle of Tours in 734. It was founded in 2001 by William Regnery II, an heir to a conservative publishing fortune and a “prime mover and shaker in white nationalism publishing,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist extremism. The Martel Society is best known for publishing The Occidental Quarterly, which is sort of the Nature of academic racism, and its sister online publication, The Occidental Observer. The Anti-Defamation League has characterized the Quarterly as “racist” and the Observer as “anti-Semitic.” The Observer maintains an archive of stories on the topic of “Jews and the financial collapse,” and the Quarterly once awarded a $10,000 prize for books on the “group evolutionary strategies” of Jewish people. According to records America’s PAC filed with the FEC, its donation to the Martel Society was a “grant.” The Charles Martel Society did not respond to a request for comment.
I hate when these people use history in a twisted way to further their agenda.
The NRA is doing it again, they are going up against Gabby Giffords husband today, via CBS News: NRA vs. Giffords’ husband at Senate gun control hearing
Today, the debate over gun control gets its first congressional hearing since President Obama proposed sweeping reforms to help tackle escalating gun violence in the United States.
National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre and Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who survived a shot to the head two years ago during an assassination attempt that left six people dead, are among those slated to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. One congressional source tells CBS News that Giffords herself is expected to attend the hearing; she is expected to accompany her husband but is not scheduled to testify.
Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., “wants to move legislation, and he wants to do it quickly,” his spokeswoman Jessica Brady told CBSNews.com. Today’s hearing will offer a platform for a “respectful and productive conversation” about “where there is potential for success in passing legislation this year.”
Meanwhile, in Alabama, there is a hostage situation: Man shoots Alabama bus driver, holds child hostage underground
A man boarded a school bus in Alabama, police said, shot the driver, took a 6-year-old boy hostage and hours later was still holding the child in an underground bunker early Wednesday.
The incident started Tuesday afternoon and continued early Wednesday morning with authorities still desperately trying to free the young child.
Late in the evening Tuesday, the man had the child in some sort of underground bunker or storm shelter, and authorities were communicating with him through a PVC pipe, CNN affiliate WSFA reported.
“We will continue to work diligently through the night in an effort to bring closure to this incident as quickly as possible,” the Dale County Sheriff’s Department said at 11 p.m. CT.
Hours later, the hostage situation was still ongoing, WSFA reported. More than 13 hours after the ordeal had began, the child was still underground.
Sigh, I will keep you up to date on this story, the boy is still being held hostage.
Israel became the first nation to skip a U.N. review of its human rights record without giving a reason – and then won a precedent-setting deferral Tuesday.
The president of the U.N.’s top rights body, Polish diplomat Remigiusz Henczel, declared Israel a no-show at a meeting in Geneva and then reconvened the 47-nation Human Rights Council to decide what to do.
Israel had asked Henczel in January to postpone the review but did not provide a public explanation.
“This is a rather unique step which has never happened in the past,” said German U.N. Ambassador Hanns Heinrich Schumacher.
But after a debate, the council unanimously agreed to defer the review until its next session in October and November at the latest.
This move will set a precedent for any future request to hold up any Human Rights Council reviews…and it comes at a time when Israel’s questionable treatment of Ethiopian women is making headlines: Israel’s Ethiopian Birth Control Story Reflects A Broader Problem
On Sunday it was reported that Israel has finally admitted to systematically depressing the fertility of the Ethiopian immigrant community (information first reported five years ago) by injecting Ethiopian-Israeli women with the long-acting birth control drug Depo-Provera without informed consent.
In some cases, women were first given the drug while still in transit camps; in other cases, it seems women were regularly injected after arriving in Israel. Some women apparently knew they were being given birth control but were told they wouldn’t be let into Israel if they didn’t agree; others report being told the shots were “inoculations.”
And as one Secretary of State is preparing to leave, her replacement finally got the go ahead from the Senate…Senate overwhelmingly backs Kerry to lead State Department
The Senate overwhelmingly approved Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) as the next secretary of state Tuesday afternoon, with three Republican “no” votes.
The vote was 94 to 3, clearing the way for Kerry to formally take over from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday.
Clinton has given her last interview as “Madame Secretary,” here is the transcript from ABC: Transcript: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s ‘Nightline’ Interview on Benghazi Testimony, Stepping Down
Be sure to keep an eye on the weather today, it looks like there will be a mess of storms. So, what are you reading about today?
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has really raised his media profile in the past couple of day. Yesterday he was humiliated by Hillary Clinton during the Senate Benghazi hearings and today it was John Kerry’s turn to make a fool out of Johnson during Kerry’s confirmation hearings for Secretary of State. Sadly, Johnson doesn’t understand that he’s getting all this attention because he’s a complete loon.
Why is this man so obsessed with whether or not there was a spontaneous protest in Benghazi on the day of the attacks on the American consulate there? He can’t even explain why it matters except to say that the American people deserve “the truth.” For Pete’s sake, we didn’t get any kind of investigation of 9/11/2001 for a couple of years after the attacks!
Hasn’t Johnson noticed that even John McCain and Lindsey Graham stopped harping on the protest vs. terrorist attack “issue” after it came out that Susan Rice’s talking points were prepared by the intelligence community and that former CIA Director David Petraeus signed off on them? Unfortunately, Johnson is just too stupid and too full of himself to realize everyone else has moved on.
Wisconsin blogger Ed Garvey got a kick out of the way Hillary handled Johnson yesterday:
Had the Hillary Clinton-Ron Johnson episode been a prize fight they would have called it after a couple of exchanges between the bright, articulate and gutsy secretary of state and Ron Johnson, the inarticulate, not-so-gutsy Wisconsin senator. I almost felt sorry for the guy. He reminded me of a kid who can’t swim being pushed into into the deep end of the pool.
You have to see it to believe it. Advice to Senator Johnson: Spend some prep time before taking on someone much smarter than you. And, dear Ron, your effort to win the debate after it was over placed you in the rube category.
This morning CNN’s Soledad O’Brien tried to get Johnson to explain why after being smacked down by Clinton in the Senate, he ran to right wing media outlets and accused the outgoing Secretary of State of faking emotion over the deaths of four State Department employees in order to evade his (Johnson’s) questions.
Johnson used his amazing stupidity to evade O’Brien’s questions.
During Kerry’s confirmation hearing, Johnson tried to get Kerry to agree to work with him to get “the truth” about the Benghazi attacks.
Sen. Ron Johnson started his tea party what really happened at Benghazi shitick today, but like Hillary Clinton yesterday, John Kerry was having none of it. Kerry responded to Johnson’s repeat performance of what really happened at Benghazi by asking, “Were you at the briefing at the tapes?” Johnson answered, “No.” Kerry continued, “Well, there was a briefing with tapes, which we all saw, those of us who went to it, which made it crystal clear. We sat for several hours with our intel folks, who described to us precisely what we were seeing. We saw the events unfold. We had a very complete and detailed description.”
Senator Stupid still doesn’t get it, but surely some of his constituents in Wisconsin must be kicking themselves for electing this moron. Back to Politicus:
Johnson and the other tea partiers in Congress are obsessed with Benghazi because they are trying to create a political opportunity to exploit. For them, these hearings aren’t about finding out what really happened in order to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Sen. Johnson and others of his ilk are trying to use the murder of four Americans for political gain.
Sen. Johnson is embarrassing himself and his state, and the only fact that has been uncovered by his line of questioning is that Ron Johnson doesn’t belong in the United States Senate.
I can’t wait to see if Johnson goes running to Politico to brag about how he handled John Kerry.
Please used this as an open thread.
It is the first Sunday in December, the year has gone by so damn fast. There has been all sorts of juicy items in the news, and I’ve got plenty of articles to share with you this morning.
Let us start of with several links on foreign policy, Hillary Clinton has been extremely busy in her final leg as Secretary of State.
The recent UN decision to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state has sparked another confrontational response from Israel. After the UN vote was announced an Israeli official made a statement that included the government backed settlement and construction of 3,000 new West Bank units.
The Daily Beast/Newsweek has a post up, Explaining Israel’s Reaction to the U.N.’s pro-Palestinian Vote
Israel’s leaders stayed surprisingly calm last week. In the weeks leading up to Thursday’s vote on upgrading the Palestinians’ U.N. membership, a few senior Israeli officials drafted a position paper focusing on how the government should respond. The U.N. move, the writers warned, threatened to “severely damage” Israel’s credibility and undermine the Jewish state’s position in future peace negotiations. But more than that, they added, the initiative could open the door to war-crimes prosecutions against Israelis at the International Criminal Court. The five-page paper, dated Nov. 12 and obtained by Newsweek, advised that if the vote went ahead, Israel should “exact a heavy price” from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—a price to include dismantling his Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority. “A softer approach would amount to waving a white flag and admitting that the Israeli leadership is unable to rise to the challenge,” the writers concluded.
The upgrade, which the General Assembly approved last week by a huge majority, is a bitter pill for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It includes not only a boost in the Palestinians’ status from (U.N. jargon alert!) “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state,” but also a recognition of their right to all of the West Bank and Gaza, including territory that Israelis have settled since 1967. Even some dovish Israelis have problems with the resolution’s sweep. And yet Israel’s response—a dismissive statement from the prime minister and the floating of plans to build thousands of new housing units in the West Bank—fell well short of the threats to topple Abbas. “This is a meaningless resolution that won’t change anything on the ground,” Netanyahu said in a handout just before the vote.
Clinton has made it clear that she was not pleased with Israel’s decision to expand settlements further into the West Bank. New Israeli Settlements Set Back Peace, Clinton Says
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Israeli plans for new settlements near East Jerusalem do not help efforts to bring about a two-state solution to the Palestinian crisis.
Clinton told Israeli officials in Washington that plans for new settlements abutting East Jerusalem “set back the cause of a negotiated peace.”
“We all need to work together to find a path forward in negotiations that can finally deliver on a two-state solution. That must remain our goal,” Clinton said.
Clinton continued her remarks,
“President Abbas took a step in the wrong direction this week,” Clinton said. “We opposed his resolution. But we also need to see that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank still offers the most compelling alternative to rockets and permanent resistance.”
She says Palestinian Authority leaders deserve credit for real achievements on the ground — making their streets safe, overhauling governing institutions and cooperating with Israel to help enhance Israeli security.
“At a time when religious extremists claim to offer rewards in the hereafter, Israel needs to help those committed to peace deliver for their people in the here and now,” Clinton said.
When Israeli and Palestinian leaders are ready to return to direct negotiations, Secretary Clinton says President Barack Obama will be a full partner.
She says the United States stand ready to help Israel make more permanent its cease-fire with Hamas forces in Gaza. But that requires the continued cooperation of the new Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
“We look to Egypt to intensify its efforts to crack down on weapons smuggling from Libya and Sudan into Gaza,” Clinton said. “I am convinced that if more rockets are allowed to enter Gaza through the tunnels, that will certainly pave the way for more fighting again soon.”
After Clinton made this statement she was joined in agreement by the British Foreign Secretary William Hague: Clinton and Hague attack Israel decision to build new settlements both,
…have launched attacks on an Israeli decision to build fresh settlements on occupied territory in the West Bank.
The Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu‘s decision to approve the construction of 3,000 new homes is widely seen as a response to the United Nations vote earlier this week that recognised a Palestinian bid to be a “non-member observer state”.
The US, with Israel, strongly opposed that move, while Britain abstained in the vote. But now both countries have criticised the Israeli settlement decision, saying it hurts the chances of a two-state solution and the search for peace in the troubled region.
Hague’s comments were the following.
Hague said he was “extremely concerned” at the plans, which have been reported in the Israeli press as including a four-square-mile area just east of Jerusalem that is seen as vital to keeping open a viable land corridor between the city and any future Palestinian state.
Hague asked Israel to reverse the decision and said the prospect of a successful two solution was receding. “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties,” he said in comments Saturday. “If implemented, these plans would alter the situation on the ground on a scale that makes the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly difficult to achieve.”
Hague added: “They would undermine Israel’s international reputation and create doubts about its stated commitment to achieving peace with the Palestinians.”
Sticking with Foreign Policy, I thought this was an interesting piece written by Stephen M. Walt. Never underestimate the power of confusion
If you read this blog, you’ve probably heard about the various “isms” in the field of international relations. There’s realism, of course, but also liberalism, idealism, and social constructivism. And don’t forget Marxism, even though hardly anybody claims to believe it anymore. These “isms” are essentially families of theory that share certain common assumptions. For example, realists see power and fear as the main drivers of world affairs, while liberals place more weight on human acquisitiveness and the power of institutions.
But there’s another major force in world affairs, and sometimes I think it deserves an “ism” all its own. With tongue in cheek and apologies to a famous Chinese sage, I’ll call it “Confusionism.” For Confusians, ignorance and stupidity are the real key to understanding state behavior, not fear, greed, ideals, class interests, or any of those other things that people think drive world affairs. When Confusians seek to explain why states act as they do, they start by assuming that leaders do not understand the problems they face, have only a vague sense of where they want to go, and no idea at all about how to get there. Instead of starting with the rational actor assumption beloved by economists, realists, and most liberals, Confusians hone in on all the reasons why humans typically get things wrong.
Hmmm, “isms” (aren’t those the things right-wing southern secessionist dislike?)
Confusionism is the opposite of the assorted conspiracy theories that you often read about. Some people believe that the world is run by a shadowy network of elites (e.g., the Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, etc.). Other people think everything is ultimately the product of some secret Zionist conspiracy, or the machinations of oil companies and the military-industrial complex. Islamophobes are convinced there is some sort of well-oiled Muslim plot to infiltrate Europe and America, impose Sharia law, and stick all our young women in harems. If you read enough Robert Ludlum, watch The Matrix too often, or spend enough time patrolling the nether regions of the blogosphere, you might find yourself thinking along similar lines. If that happens, get help.
Okay, that is the first three paragraphs, just go read the whole thing will ya?
There is one thing I am grateful for these last four years, and that is Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. I will miss her tremendously when she retires at the start of Obama’s second term, and personally, I would feel more comfortable with John Kerry as SoS…but that is another story. Anyway, Clinton’s replacement will reveal new US foreign policy direction
With the imminent retirement of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, much speculation has arisen in Washington concerning her replacement. No matter whom the president chooses to nominate for the post, the political process of confirmation by the US Senate is sure to reveal much about the mindset of Republicans and Democrats entering Obama’s second term, and will certainly indicate the direction of US foreign policy in coming years.
Following President Barack Obama’s reelection, it was widely believed that US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice would be the president’s nominee to succeed Clinton.
With impeccable academic credentials, and experience as an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton White House, Rice is more than qualified. Rice is known for her direct and idealistic style of negotiation, and her less conciliatory, more confrontational style would likely take the practice of US foreign policy in a different direction than that charted by Clinton’s more pragmatic approach.
A greater and more direct US role in Middle Eastern affairs, and more emphasis on the role of foreign governments in human rights abuses and issues of social justice would likely mark the tenure of Rice.
Supposedly, there are rumors that Hillary is not thrilled with the prospect of Susan Rice replacing her at the Department of State. According to Michael Sneed: Hillary Clinton no fan of Susan Rice, prefers Kerry for State
The big question: Who would Secretary of State Hillary Clinton like to get her job?
It ain’t embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is dealing with the way she handled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Sneed is told if Hillary had to choose between Rice and U.S. Sen. John Kerry, who is head of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, she would prefer Kerry.
“Hillary is not close to Rice, who is tough — but is not the friendliest person,” said a top White House source. “And Hillary’s brief comment recently that Rice had done ‘a great job’ was considered underwhelming and tepid,” the source added.
Yes, that bit of gossip is followed by a story on Kate Middleton, but it does go along the lines of how I think many of us perceive the situation…that Kerry would be a better fit after Clinton.
Okay, enough on Foreign Affairs and Policy, before we go on to other stories…take a quick look at this from Tommy Christopher: Persistent Romnesia: Former Mitt Romney Chief Strategist Says ‘Nobody Liked Romney Except Voters’
If the recent fiscal cliff/Susan Rice piñata party news doldrums have got you down, take a break with what has to be the first published example of a resignation letter from every future job. Former Romney campaign chief strategist Stuart Stevens has penned the most deluded piece of writing since Norma Desmond filled out an order for new headshots. In a hilarious op-ed for The Washington Post, Stevens explains, among other things, that “Nobody liked Romney except voters.”
I know that BB wrote a great post on the “delusions” of the GOP and Romney’s camp, but anything that can make a reference to Sunset Blvd is too good to ignore.
And when it comes to the GOP, not only are they delusional…they are cruel. How One GOP Plutocrat Helped Make 20,000 Kids Homeless
Homelessness in New York has skyrocketed, thanks in part to years of conservative policy predicated on right-wing ideology.
There are 20,000 kids sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City, according to the city’s latest estimate, a number that does not include homeless kids who are not sleeping in shelters because their families have been turned away. Up to 65 percent of families who apply for shelter don’t get in , and their options can be grim.
“Some end up sleeping in subway trains,” Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst at Coalition for the Homeless, tells AlterNet. “Some go to hospital emergency rooms or laundromats. Women are going back to their batterers or staying in unsafe apartments.”
Families that make it into shelters are taking longer to leave and move into stable, permanent housing. Asked by reporters why families were staying 30% longer than even last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “… it is a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before.”
“Is it great?” He elaborated a day later in response to outcry over his comments. “No. It’s not the Plaza Hotel … but that’s not what shelter is supposed to be and that’s not what the public can afford or the public wants.”
The above alternet story has many pages, it is important that you read them all. I have one more story related to the homeless. Winter problem: More homeless are living in cars
Phil Bell sleeps under three sleeping bags and two blankets in the back seat of his 1998 Buick. He parks outside truck stops and stores that are open 24 hours and rarely turns on his engine.
“You can’t leave the car running because it calls attention to you and burns too much gas,” he explains. “Being in the car is better than being outside or in a tent, but it gets really cold.”
Bell, 39, has been homeless since September. He was laid off by a Detroit auto parts maker and couldn’t pay his rent. He loaded his possessions into his car and took off. He made it this far and is looking for work here.
“I’m lucky,” Bell says. “At least I’ve got the car. Most people out here on the streets don’t have anything.”
I know these are long reads…if you can’t read them all in one shot, book mark them for later.
Now let’s get on with the easy Sunday reads, after the jump.
You may have heard this already, but last night the Washington Post reported that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is being considered for the post of Defense Secretary.
President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus.
Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
John O. Brennan, Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, is a leading contender for the CIA job if he wants it, officials said. If Brennan goes ahead with his plan to leave government, Michael J. Morell, the agency’s acting director, is the prohibitive favorite to take over permanently. Officials cautioned that the White House discussions are still in the early stages and that no decisions have been made.
That’s a surprise about Kerry. The bad news would be losing a Democratic Senate seat and giving Scott Brown another chance to run as a replacement. Let’s hope Massachusetts Democrats have someone who can beat him.
You also probably heard that there was a huge explosion in Indianapolis over the weekend. It leveled four houses completely and seriously damaged eighty more. The explosion was so powerful that homes 2-3 blocks away in all directions were affected–garage doors were blown open, windows broken and so on. So far there no cause for the explosion has been announced. The latest speculation has been that a gas furnace or some other appliance blew up. From NBC News:
With no hint of a problem in advance, in particular no tell-tale smell of a gas leak, authorities and residents in a southern Indianapolis neighborhood are trying to make sense of an enormous blast that obliterated two homes and made dozens more uninhabitable.
Fire officials expressed amazement that only two people died in the late Saturday explosion so powerful that the devastation spread for blocks from its epicenter. Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate their Richmond Hill homes, some never to return. Windows and doors were blown in. The blast rocked several houses entirely from their foundations and was so loud it awoke people three miles away. A fire burned for hours, engulfing dozens of homes.
“We have done initial testing throughout the neighborhood and have not found any gas leaks,” Dan Considine, Citizens Energy spokesman, told IndyStar.com Monday.
“We are still doing additional testing of the gas main and the lines to the homes on Fieldfare Way,” he said. “We have not at this point found any problems with any external gas lines.”
This is so strange. I did hear that authorities have determined that the explosion wasn’t caused by a meth lab or by explosives.
There are some new developments in the Petraeus episode. Yesterday morning ABC News’ Martha Raddatz explained why the FBI investigation of Petraeus wasn’t revealed to the White House earlier.
The FBI withheld its findings about Gen. David Petreaus’ affair from the White House and congressional leaders because the agency considered them the result of a criminal investigation that never reached the threshold of an intelligence probe, law enforcement sources said today.
The sources said agents followed department guidelines that generally bar sharing information about developing criminal investigations. The FBI is also aware of its history under former director J. Edgar Hoover of playing politics and digging into the lives of public figures. As one official said, the rules are designed to protect people (both private and elected officials) when negative information about them arises in the course of a criminal investigation that is not a crime.
The FBI’s focus was on whether laws were broken, in this case whether federal cyber-harassment statutes were violated. The sources emphasized that Petraeus himself was never the focus of the investigation, nor did it turn up evidence he broke any law.
The focus was on his biographer, Paula Broadwell, with whom he had the affair that ended with his resignation as CIA director last week.
Then last night the Wall Street Journal reported that:
A federal agent who launched the investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors’ concerns that he had become personally involved in the case, according to officials familiar with the probe.
New details about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the case suggest that even as the bureau delved into Mr. Petraeus’s personal life, the agency had to address questionable conduct by one of its own…
As Dakinikat said the other day, this is sounding more and more like a Lifetime movie as time goes on.
The FBI agent who started the case was a friend of Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who received harassing, anonymous emails that led to the probe, according to officials. Ms. Kelley, a volunteer who organizes social events for military personnel in the Tampa area, complained in May about the emails to a friend who is an FBI agent. That agent referred it to a cyber crimes unit, which opened an investigation.
However, supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter, and prohibited him from any role in the investigation, according to the officials.
The FBI officials found that he had sent shirtless pictures of himself to Ms. Kelley, according to the people familiar with the probe.
These are the same people who are setting up stings to entrap young men into planning “terrorist acts.” Do you feel safer now?
Last night on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell reported that this FBI agent may have had political motivations and wanted the information made public before the election. According to the WSJ story, this was the FBI source who contacted Rep. Dave Reichert, who in turn passed the information to Eric Cantor.
The story also gives more detail on the so-called harassing e-mails that Broadwell sent to Kelley:
The accusatory emails, according to officials, were sent anonymously to an account shared by Ms. Kelley and her husband. Ms. Broadwell allegedly used a variety of email addresses to send the harassing messages to Ms. Kelley, officials said.
One asked if Ms. Kelley’s husband was aware of her actions, according to officials. In another, the anonymous writer claimed to have watched Ms. Kelley touching “him” provocatively underneath a table, the officials said.
The message was referring to Mr. Petraeus, but that wasn’t clear at the time, officials said.
I’m getting the feeling that Broadwell is not going to get her Ph.D. from the Harvard School of Government, especially not after this from the Charlotte Observer: FBI team searches Broadwell home.
Three days after Paula Broadwell entered the center of national controversy, FBI agents Monday evening entered her family’s Dilworth home and appeared to be searching both floors.
The four or five agents brought cardboard boxes used for carrying papers and were on both floors of the home for the search, which began shortly before 9 p.m. About two dozen members of the local and national media gathered. It wasn’t immediately clear what the agents were focused on.
The agents appeared to start their search in the rear of the house in the kitchen and began turning on lights as they moved into different rooms. As the agents reached the two-hour mark, lights in most rooms appeared to be turned on.
Broadwell’s apparent affair with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, who is married, led him to resign Friday as CIA director. Broadwell’s Charlotte neighbor Sarah Curme said Monday that Broadwell, her husband and two young sons were doing pretty well considering the circumstances. Broadwell marked her 40th birthday over the weekend with family in Washington, D.C.
Still, Amy Bishop managed to get her Ph.D. from Harvard.
UPDATE: Overnight it came out that another four-star general, John Allen, is under investigation for exchanging massive numbers of inappropriate e-mails with Jill Kelley. From CNN:
The spiraling scandal that took down former CIA Director David Petraeus has apparently ensnared another powerful general, as authorities announced that Gen. John Allen is under investigation for allegedly sending inappropriate messages to Jill Kelley, a woman who has been linked to the Petraeus scandal.
Allen, who is the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, has denied any wrongdoing, a senior defense official said.
What the hell is going on with these generals?
Some details about Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, came from an overnight statement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, while he was on his way to Australia.
“On Sunday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred to the Department of Defense a matter involving General John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (or ISAF) in Afghanistan,” part of the statement said. “Today, the secretary directed that the matter be referred to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense for investigation.”
A defense official told CNN there is a “distinct possibility” that the investigation into Allen is connected to the investigation that led to the resignation of Petraeus.
Allen had been nominated to be the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, but that appointment is now on hold.
I’ll put any further updates in the comments to this post.
You’re gonna love this. Callista Gingrich talked to Barbara Walters about the Petraeus story, saying that “affairs are ‘painful’ for the family.”
The woman who married former House Speaker Newt Gingrich after cheating with him while he was married to his second wife says that former CIA Director David Petraeus’ extramarital affair is “sad” and “painful” for his family.
“I think it’s personally very sad for he and his family,” Callista Gingrich told ABC’s Barbara Walters on Monday. “I think he did the right thing by resigning. But this is painful and they’ll have to work together through this as a family. And that will take some time.”
Maybe Barbara should have talked to Newt’s previous wives to find out what being cheated on really feels like. But I suppose Callista will find out eventually. Maybe she’s preparing herself for the inevitable.
I’ll end with something non-political. According to research by Stanford Professor Gerald Crabtree, humans are becoming less intelligent with time because of mutations in the brain.
A Stanford University professor presented evidence Monday that mutations in the human brain — brought on by advances in society that have made survival less stressful — are eroding our intellectual and emotional capabilities.
Gerald Crabtree, lead author of the study published in the journal Trends in Genetics, claims the brain drain has been going on for centuries.
Crabtree, a professor of pathology and developmental biology, suggested our intellectual peak came when humans were mostly nonverbal and were stressed out trying to think of ways to not get eaten by wild animals.
He said survival was once a driving force for intelligence. But the development of agriculture and the rise in urban living has probably weakened the natural selection towards intelligence and made us less smart.
Humans are slowly losing their cognitive capabilities as adverse genetic mutations fail to be weeded out by evolutionary pressures, according to a bold hypothesis put forward by Dr. Gerald Crabtree of Stanford University.
“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues. Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues,” the leading geneticist began his article in the scientific journal Trends in Genetics, adding the same could be said of the “inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India, or the Americas.”
Crabtree explained that human intelligence and emotions relied on thousands of genes, which acted together as links in a chain rather than individual components. A mutation to any of one of these genes can produce intellectual or emotional disability — and research has found that most of these genes are particularly susceptible to mutations.
Under the harsh circumstances that ancient humans endured, even a slight reduction in cognitive abilities could doom an individual. Those with lower cognitive abilities were more likely to die before reproducing, leaving only those with more refined cognitive abilities to pass on their genes.
Could this explain the development of the Tea Party?
Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today?