Yesterday was opening day for baseball–a sure sign of spring! The Orioles beat the Red Sox 2-1. In past years this morning’s headlines would have jokingly read “Wait Until Next Year.” But that was the old 20th century Red Sox. Now they’ve won three World Series championships in the 21st century–including last year–Boston fans have calmed down a bit. We can wait a few weeks to see how the season develops.
On the day off today, the Read Sox are excited to be heading to the White House to meet President Obama and will also pay a visit to Walter Reed hospital.
As a reward for winning last year’s World Series, President Barack Obama cordially invited the defending champs for a ceremony to recognize their accomplishment, and the ceremony will air live on MLB.com starting at 11:30 a.m. ET.
“I think any time you have a chance to speak to the Commander in Chief, that’s a rare opportunity,” said manager John Farrell. “And for all of us that are going tomorrow, to meet him in person, to experience the White House, we know the reason why we’re there and it’s a fun day, it’s a unique day. I think it will be a good experience by all.”
Sox righty Jake Peavy has been to the White House before, but never as a World Series champion.
“Tomorrow, we will celebrate what happened,” said Peavy. “Pretty neat day when you experience what we’re going to experience tomorrow. I look forward to that.”
The Red Sox, as they did in conjunction with their White House visits in 2005 and ’08, will also pay a visit to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and visit with some of the heroes who served the country.
I haven’t watched CNN lately, but last night I accidentally turned it on and they were still talking about missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. This morning’s breaking news is that Malaysia either lied or made a big mistake about the “last words from the cockpit” before the plane disappeared.
Weeks ago, Malaysian authorities said the last message from the airplane cockpit was, “All right, good night.”
The sign-off to air traffic controllers, which investigators said was spoken by the plane’s copilot, was among the few concrete details officials released in a mystery that’s baffled investigators since the Boeing 777 disappeared with 239 people aboard on March 8.
There’s only one problem. It turns out, it wasn’t true.
On Tuesday, Malaysia’s Transport Ministry released the transcript of the conversations between the Flight 370’s cockpit and air traffic control. The final words from the plane: “Good night Malaysian three seven zero.”
Malaysian authorities gave no explanation for the discrepancy between the two quotes. And authorities are still trying to determine whether it was the plane’s pilot or copilot who said them.
You can read the full transcript at ABC News: Malaysia Airlines MH370: Full transcript of flight’s cockpit communication released. Searchers are still looking for the wreckage, but in just a week the plane’s black box will go silent.
Today is April Fool’s Day; I can’t stand practical jokes, so I was planning to ignore it until I saw this headline at Roll Call: Cantor Says GOP Finishing Work on Obamacare Alternative, Details Agenda.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., reiterated on Friday that the House plans to bring up a bill to replace President Barack Obama’s health care law.
In a memo to members laying out the House agenda for the remainder of the winter, Cantor noted that the replacement is being finalized, and said that in the meantime, Republicans will work to target parts of the law with which they disagree.
“As we continue to work to finalize our Obamacare replacement plan, we will also act to highlight and address the serious consequences of the law,” he said.
That just has to be an April Fool’s joke, right? I guess not, because yesterday Fox News’ Jenna Lee badgered Sen. Lindsey Graham about when the Obamacare replacement would be ready. From Think Press:
During an interview with the network, Graham agreed that his party should introduce a unified health care proposal. But Lee persisted, pressing him for more details. “Why do you think Republicans can put together a better plan to get the trust back in government?” she asked. “What are Republicans putting out there that says to the American, people, ‘no, you can trust us. If you don’t trust what is happening now, trust us?’”
Some of Graham’s suggestions:
“I think it is good for the Republican party to have a plan of its own to insure Americans without losing your doctor and bankrupting the country,” Graham agreed. “Let’s start with the idea that pre-existing illnesses should not deny you coverage, that means you’re gonna have to have pools for the really sick, but why would you want to deny somebody insurance because they got sick? Allowing children to stay on the policies up to they’re 26 makes sense given this economy and buying policies across state lines makes a lot of sense to me.”
Ooops! Those proposals are already part of Obamacare. You can watch Graham ramble on about the horrors of Obamacare at The link.
Meanwhile ACA sign-ups surged yesterday, which was supposed to be the last day to enroll in a plan. Time Magazine: Obamacare Hits a Milestone With Enrollment Goal in Reach.
A last-minute push to insure millions of low-income Americans jammed phone lines and slowed down an enrollment websiteahead of a key deadline Monday, but the Obama Administration was close to declaring a tentative victory when it signaled early Tuesday that an enrollment goal, which had seemed almost impossible to reach just months ago, was now tantalizingly close.
Officials hailed record traffic to the federal health-insurance-exchange website as vindication of the politically divisive law. HealthCare.gov, the site whose hobbled launch in October became a political punch line and threw the initiative’s viability into doubt, recorded more than 3 million visits on Monday, officials said, the last day of a closely watched sign-up period. More than 1 million calls were reportedly placed to an enrollment call center as of 8 p.m., and the Administration said early Tuesday morning that the site was briefly shutting down so engineers could refocus on providing relevant post-enrollment information. The Associated Press, citing unnamed government officials, said enrollment was on track to hit the Administration’s target of 7 million Americans newly insured. As many as 100,000 people have started but not yet finished the process, and last-minute exemptions paved the way for them to complete enrollment after the deadline.
Yesterday the WaPo published some leaked information from the Senate report on torture during the Bush administration. We knew this before, of course, but the report concludes that the CIA repeatedly lied to Congress about the effectiveness of the “enhanced interrogation” program.
A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.
The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.
“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”
The report also revealed internal disagreement within the CIA about the use of torture. Some employees were horrified while others pushed for more torture even after it was clear it wasn’t working. The report also revealed some new information:
The report describes previously undisclosed cases of abuse, including the alleged repeated dunking of a terrorism suspect in tanks of ice water at a detention site in Afghanistan — a method that bore similarities to waterboarding but never appeared on any Justice Department-approved list of techniques.
Much more to read at the link.
Meanwhile, Dick Cheney continued to wholeheartedly defend the Bush administration’s use of torture. Dick Cheney Defends Waterboarding: ‘The Results Speak for Themselves’
Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday dismissed accusations that he is a war criminal and defended the Bush administration’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding, stating that he would “do it all over again.”
“Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture,” Cheney said in an interview on American University’s television station, according to American’s student newspaper The Eagle. “If I would have to do it all over again, I would. The results speak for themselves.”
“More than two dozen” American University students protested Cheney’s appearance by walking out during his speech and yelling “walk out of war criminals.”
At the LA Times, national security reporter Ken Dilanian reported on an interview with outgoing NSA director Keith Alexander, and cited some of NSA’s successes in saving lives of soldiers in Iraq.
In nearly nine years as head of the nation’s largest intelligence agency, Gen. Keith Alexander presided over a vast expansion of digital spying, acquiring information in a volume his predecessors would have found unimaginable.
In Iraq, for example, the National Security Agency went from intercepting only about half of enemy signals and taking hours to process them to being able to collect, sort and make available every Iraqi email, text message and phone-location signal in real time, said John “Chris” Inglis, who recently retired as the NSA’s top civilian.
The overhaul, which Alexander ordered shortly after taking leadership of the agency in August 2005, enabled U.S. ground commanders to find out when an insurgent leader had turned on his cellphone, where he was and whom he was calling.
“Absolutely invaluable,” retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former U.S. commander in Iraq, said in an interview as he described the NSA’s efforts, which led to the dismantling of networks devoted to burying roadside bombs.
Alexander “sped the place up,” Inglis said.
But Dilanian points out that Alexander is more likely to be remembered for the Snowden hack than anything positive NSA has done. Alexander was confused by the public reaction to Snowden’s revelations.
Ten months after the disclosures began, Alexander remains disturbed, and somewhat baffled, by the intensity of the public reaction.
“I think our nation has drifted into the wrong place,” he said in an interview last week. “We need to recognize that those who are working to protect our nation are not the bad people.”
Snowden’s PR man and protector Glenn Greenwald wasted no time before attacking Dilianian--a well respected reporter–as a propagandist and shill for the government. He also seemed to imply the same about the Washington Post’s Dana Priest when he linked to a July 2013 article she wrote on NSA’s efforts to identify terrorists. Greenwald writes:
[W]henever it suits the agency to do so–meaning when it wants to propagandize on its own behalf–the NSA casually discloses even its most top secret activities in the very countries where such retaliation is most likely. Anonymous ex-officials boasted to the Washington Post last July in detail about the role the agency plays in helping kill people by drones. The Post dutifully headlined its story: “NSA Growth Fueled by Need to Target Terrorists.”
And now, Keith Alexander’s long-time deputy just fed one of the most pro-NSA reporters in the country, the Los Angeles Times‘ Ken Dilanian, some extraordinarily sensitive, top secret information about NSA activities in Iraq, which the Times published in an article that reads exactly like an NSA commercial….
John “Chris” Inglis just revealed to the world that the NSA was–is?–intercepting every single email, text message, and phone-location signal in real time for the entire country of Iraq.
Obviously, the fact that the NSA has this capability, and used it, is Top Secret. What authority did Chris Inglis have to disclose this?
Wait– Didn’t Snowden and Greenwald already reveal these NSA capabilities and methods? Yes, yes they did, and now new methods have to be developed. And besides, the executive branch has the authority to declassify information. The story even named Inglis as the source, and he didn’t reveal any specific methods.
But Greenwald thinks Inglis should be prosecuted instead of Snowden. Because, you know, spying to save lives in Iraq is evil. I get that Greenwald believes that any spying by the U.S. is wrong (although spying and human rights violations are OK for other countries such as China and Russia); but I have to say calling reporters Ken Dilanian and Dana Priest is a bit over the top, to put in mildly.
Those are my reading suggestions today. What stories are you following? Please share your links in the comment thread.
What if it was all just various scenes from old plays…good plays. I mean isn’t it only kabuki, smoke in mirrors (or is it smoke and mirrors.)
What if the players were switched out, and the real life newsmakers found themselves as characters in the theater’s best productions.
It has been a long night.
So l will just tread through this thread and put some links up and connect them to plays as we go…
Then there’s the growing theory that Putin has simply gone round the bend. We might as well call this The Merkel Theory, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel first gave voice to it during a phone call with President Barack Obama last weekend. Via the New York Times:
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.
U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power expanded this diagnosis to Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin during an emergency meeting of the UN security council on Monday, accusing Churkin and his boss of chasing at shadows:
“So many of the assertions made this afternoon are without basis in reality. Is Russia justified in invading parts of Ukraine? The answer of course is no. Russian mobilisation is a response to an imaginary threat.”
Geez, that is a lot of powerful people there…
And on Tuesday morning, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright re-upped Merkel’s theory to CNN’s New Day:
“I agree with what Angela Merkel said after she spoke to him, which is that he is in another world. I think that either he does not have the facts, he is being fed propaganda, or his own propaganda. It doesn’t make any sense. There are no calls for assistance…There is not this kind of a crisis in terms of the way that the Russian-speaking people are in some way being harmed. So this is all made up. And I think it’s part of a much longer term plan that Putin has had which is to try to recreate some form of relationship between Ukraine and Moscow. I think that is the tragedy that’s going on. Putin is in many ways delusional about this.”
Shit…what I think this brings to mind is Putin sitting in the chair during the Caine Mutiny Court Martial, shirtless of course.
Queeg is a psychopath in crisis and commanded the ship and its crew to destruction. Naval tradition is against him, but testimony eventually reveals a devastating picture of Queeg’s mental disintegration.
All the pundits talk back and forth wondering if Crimea is Putin’s “The Strawberry Incident.”
Then you have the rest of the war mongers pushing to convict…Twelve Angry Men. (Fox News and basically every body else.) But there isn’t a Juror Number 8 to turn the tide away from sending us into WW3/ColdWar2.
The longest shadow in Tuesday’s primary election in Texas is being cast by a politician not even in the running, freshman U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican.
Cruz, just two years into his first major elected office, has arguably become the most loved politician among Republicans in Texas, an incubator for national conservative policies where the party dominates the statehouse and has not lost a statewide race since 1994.
A host of Republican hopefuls are trying to ride his coattails, turning campaigns into raucous affairs about how much they despise Obamacare, embrace the constitutional right to bear arms and see a need to raise alarms about illegal immigration.
Cruz has turned an already right-leaning Texas Republican Party even further to the right, analysts said.
“Cruz scared the daylights out of center and center-right conservatives to the extent that they do not feel comfortable enough to run on their true positions and feel compelled to cater to the most conservative elements of the Texas Republican primary electorate,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.
Oh, what horrors this man has brought to our nation. The Failure to Zig Zag, is the play I bring to you…
Neither the captain of the USS Indianapolis, McVay, nor his crew were told the cargo they had delivered in Tinian contained the essential components for the atomic bomb to be dropped in Hiroshima. Having completed its top secret mission, the ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine. The crew languished in shark infested waters while Naval authorities logged the ship safe in port. The navy’s coverup and attempt to make McVay a scapegoat lead to a national scandal.
I present…Cruz as the sharks…in that scenario.
Maybe Boehner and the rest of the GOP are the naval authorities who are allowing the crew (voters) to be fed to the shark(s) Tea Party basturds?
(Who am I kidding they all are the sharks.)
Let’s switch gears to another topic: Angry people ‘risking heart attacks’
And another play where an angry man has a heart attack…Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys
Hey, you want a couple of Sunshine Boys? An Odd Couple? (Bet you can guess who is the neat one.)
Yes…according to Senator Lindsey Graham: Putin invaded Ukraine because (wait for it) Benghazi!
Here’s Graham via Twitter yesterday:
Yes, we know why your eyes roll. But back to the matter at hand, Graham still left the matter somewhat vague, until today:
Then some more three hours ago:
Hell, Benghazi? That subject has been: Done to Death
As for the Lady’s other partner: McCain’s Mind-Boggling Hypocrisy on Crimea at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference | Informed Comment
They both are like a couple of salesmen from Glengarry Glen Ross, who will not give up pushing their crap to the American public.
I’m going to move faster now, it is again one of those all-niter post writing marathons and I have to make the kids lunches soon. Ugh.
…this past weekend was a looney-tune time for Washington’s professional 2016 Speculasturbators. Did you know that we already have “frontrunners” for 2016? As in more than one?
See that link for the tweets…the play I am connecting to this? And Then There Were None
Y’all hear that George P. Bush Begins Political Career With Win – ABC News
George P. Bush took the first step toward continuing his family’s political dynasty Tuesday, shaking off an under-funded primary challenger and securing the Republican nomination for the little-known but powerful post of Texas land commissioner.
The 37-year-old Fort Worth attorney is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, nephew of former President and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and son of ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is frequently mentioned as a possible GOP White House hopeful in 2016.
He’s also a Spanish speaker whose mother Columba was born in Mexico and who Republican leaders statewide long have toasted as key to wooing voters among Texas’ booming Hispanic population.
“We don’t have to change our conservative principles to win, we just need to change our tactics,” said Bush, who spoke English and Spanish to the crowd at his victory party at a Fort Worth Mexican restaurant.
For some reason, The Little Foxes is what came to mind:
The Little Foxes is a 1939 play by Lillian Hellman. Its title comes from Chapter 2, Verse 15 in the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible, which reads, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Set in a small town in Alabama in 1900, it focuses on the struggle for control of the family business.
You know this one, Barbara Bush as Regina? Oh yes…
I think some make Snowden out to be: An Enemy of the People
But I sometimes can’t help think he is a The Harder They Fall character…an idiot asshole used by other more connected powerful assholes, who make money off him.. then leave him with nothing in a foreign country unable to speak. (Don’t get me wrong, I feel no pity for Snowden what so ever!)
The next play is here for the title only: Smelling a Rat
and it follows the next three links…
On to the ladies…
Imagine ‘Gidget’ crossed with ‘The Three Faces of Eve’ and ‘Mommie Dearest’.
Chicklet Forrest, a teenage tomboy, desperately wants to be part of the surf crowd on Malibu Beach in 1962. One thing getting in her way is her unfortunate tendency towards split personalities. Among them is a black check out girl, an elderly radio talk show hostess, a male model named Steve and the accounting firm of Edelman and Edelman. Her most dangerous alter ego is a sexually voracious vixen named Ann Bowman who has nothing less than world domination on her mind.
This link was interesting, South Koreans View Kim Jong-Un More Favorably Than Shinzo Abe – Business Insider
But the plays here for Kim Jong-Un:
In Georgia, remember that work program Obama liked so much? Disabled Georgians waiting months for job training | AccessNorthGa
Budget and staffing issues have left unemployed and disabled Georgians looking for job training waiting months for help from a state agency tasked with providing vocational assistance.
After the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency was carved out of the state Department of Labor two years ago, lawmakers reduced its funding, which prompted the federal government to do the same.
GVRA Director Greg Schmieg told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/1knRW8o ) that he’s aware of case backlogs and is disappointed with the wait times clients are faced with.
Schmieg said the state isn’t providing enough funding for the agency to get the maximum amount of federal money. He says the federal government spends about $4 on the program for every $1 the state does.
I wonder who is running that Georgia program? Will Stockdale and Ben Whitledge in No Time for Sergeants (Remember both were from Georgia.)
One in Five US Soldiers Had Mental Illness Before Joining Army , and this is not meant as much of a joke, but maybe irony? For the play I thought of, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Chances are, you know someone who has had an abortion. Statistically, it’s a near-certainty: In the U.S., one in three women will have an abortion by the age of 45. But despite how incredibly common abortion is, it remains mired in stigma and misinformation. Much of what we may think we know about this subject is actually outright lies told by abortion opponents to dissuade women out of seeking safe and legal abortion care.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), which are fake clinics run by opponents of abortion, are well-known for lying to clients in order to convince them not to seek abortion care. But the lies told within the walls of CPCs aren’t just contained there; they are part and parcel of the anti-abortion movement in the U.S. For a movement that so fervently claims that “truth is on our side,” they seem perfectly willing to proliferate blatant lies about abortion. Here are a select few of the most common and pervasive of those lies.
Gas Light (known in the USA as Angel Street) is a 1938 play by the British dramatist Patrick Hamilton. The play (and its film adaptations) gave rise to the term gaslighting with the meaning “a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented to the victim with the intent of making him/her doubt his/her own memory and perception”. Although it was never explicitly confirmed, many critics and scholars see the play and its adaptations as subtle retellings of the Bluebeard folk tale.
After all this I am off to get the kids up and out the door for school. I hope there are no typos or other mistakes.
Enjoy your day, and drop a thought or two or three in the comments below!
I got an e-mail this morning from Dakinikat saying that she arrived safely late last night and is completely exhausted. Hopefully, she’ll get to see her Dad today and give him a great big hug.
Now let’s see what’s going on in the world this morning.
I’ve got to be honest, I’m confused about the latest GOP Benghazi hearings. I have no idea what the fuss is all about, and I really don’t even want to try to figure it out. Apparently, car thief and arsonist Darrell Issa just can’t let go of Benghazi, and is going to keep right on harping on it until someone figures out a way to stop him. I’m going to highlight some articles on this “controversy,” but, as I said, I can’t really explain it.
First, the allegations of wrongdoing:
A veteran diplomat gave a riveting minute-by-minute account on Wednesday of the lethal terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11 and described its contentious aftermath at a charged Congressional hearing that reflected the weighty political stakes perceived by both parties.
During a chaotic night at the American Embassy in Tripoli, hundreds of miles away, the diplomat, Gregory Hicks, got what he called “the saddest phone call I’ve ever had in my life” informing him that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was dead and that he was now the highest-ranking American in Libya. For his leadership that night when four Americans were killed, Mr. Hicks said in nearly six hours of testimony, he subsequently received calls from both Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama.
But within days, Mr. Hicks said, after raising questions about the account of what had happened in Benghazi offered in television interviews by Susan E. Rice, the United Nations ambassador, he felt a distinct chill from State Department superiors. “The sense I got was that I needed to stop the line of questioning,” said Mr. Hicks, who has been a Foreign Service officer for 22 years.
He was soon given a scathing review of his management style, he said, and was later “effectively demoted” to desk officer at headquarters, in what he believes was retaliation for speaking up.
After the disrupted phone call with Ambassador Stevens, Mr Hicks said he received calls from Libyans using the ambassador’s phone who said they had the envoy with them.
But Mr Hicks decided not to act on the calls, fearing an ambush.
So the “whistleblower” chose not to do anything? What is his complaint then?
UN Ambassador Susan Rice has been the focus of outrage from Republicans in Congress, for giving the news media what has been acknowledged as an incorrect explanation for the attack.
She said on a Sunday chat show on 16 September that the attack had grown out of an anti-US protest, while other officials have said they knew at the time it was an organised, armed assault, possibly by an Islamist militant group.
“My jaw dropped and I was embarrassed,” Mr Hicks said on his reaction to her interview.
I guess it’s still about Susan Rice. . . Or more likely, it’s about Hillary Clinton and attempts to hobble any plans she may have to run for president.
Three State Department officials on Wednesday provided a riveting, emotional account of last year’s fatal attack on U.S. installations in eastern Libya as they accused senior government officials of withholding embarrassing facts and failing to take enough responsibility for security lapses.
The testimony provided new details on the Sept. 11, 2012, assaults on U.S. installations in Benghazi and their aftermath. But the new information failed to break the political logjam the attacks spawned, with Republicans and Democrats offering starkly different interpretations of what happened and who within the U.S. government is to blame.
Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) opened the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing by saying that panel Democrats had “mostly sat silent” while Republicans tried to wrest the truth from an uncooperative Obama administration.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the senior Democrat on the committee, countered that Issa’s GOP majority had launched a “full-scale media campaign . . . of unfounded accusations to smear public officials.”
But in expanding the narrative of the intensely politicized episode, the witnesses raised fresh questions about whether then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her deputies were sufficiently engaged in assessing the security posture of diplomatic posts last year.
Time Magazine’s Michael Crowley: Terror, Security, and Hillary 2016: Making Sense of the Benghazi Hearings
The hearing by the Republican-led House Government Oversight & Reform Committee was not the first on the events surrounding the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans. Hillary Clinton, who was running the State Department at the time of the attack, testified for hours back in January. But the story was given fresh dramatic life and new narrative details through the testimony of two self-described whistle blowers who had not previously spoken in public: Mark Thompson, acting deputy assistant secretary for counterterrorism; Gregory Hicks, the former deputy of mission in Libya. Joining them was Eric Nordstrom, a former regional security officer in Libya, who had previously testified on the issue.
But “[c]ould the U.S. military have done more to help?”
Not according to the Pentagon – and the hearing’s key witness. Aircraft that might have buzzed the compound where the second pair of Americans died – and scared the militants away — were 900 miles north in Italy. “Time and distance are a tyranny of their own,” Admiral James Stavridis, who responded to the attacks as the NATO commander, told Congress earlier this year. Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, estimated it would take as long as 20 hours to get the planes above Benghazi. Hicks testified that he asked the U.S. defense attaché in Tripoli if planes could be scrambled to help those under attack in the CIA annex in Benghazi, a battle that unfolded hours after the initial assault on the nearby U.S. consulate, which killed Stevens, and led to two more American deaths. “He said that it would take two to three hours for them to get on site, but that there also were no tankers available for them to refuel,” Hicks said Wednesday. “And I said, ‘Thank you very much,’ and we went on with our work.” Hicks also testified that a four man team of Green Berets in Tripoli were denied a request to deploy to Benghazi the morning after the attack began, though officials doubt they could have arrived early enough to save lives at the CIA annex.
Apparently the complaint is that the State Department didn’t order all military resources to get to Benghazi even though there was no way they could have gotten there in time to do anything to help?
So we’re back to preventing Hillary 2016?
Whether or not Republicans intended it, the shadow of national politics loomed over Wednesday’s hearing. Hillary Clinton completed a generally well-reviewed tenure of Secretary of State, as evidenced by her sky-high public approval ratings. But Benghazi is a clear black mark on her Foggy Bottom record, one that could haunt Clinton if she runs for president in 2016. Conservatives seized on Hicks’s testimony that, in a call with Clinton on the fateful night, he told her that a terrorist attack was underway–a fact that was slow to appear in the administration’s public rhetoric. Still, despite repeated discussion about what Clinton knew and when she knew it, no smoking gun emerged from Wednesday’s hearing, leading one Congressional Democrat to dismiss questions about her role as a “witch hunt.”
I guess that’s pretty much what it’s all about . . . A few more links:
“I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it,” former Ambassador Thomas Pickering said on MSNBC. He also rebutted claims that the review board tried to protect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from scrutiny:
PICKERING: I saw no evidence of it. She did publicly take responsibility for what happened below her and indeed one of the things the Congress did in preparing the legislation that established the Accountability Review Board was to say we don’t want a situation where heads of agencies take responsibility and then nobody who made the decision in the chain has to suffer any consequences for failure for performance. I believe in fact the Accountability Review Board did it’s work well. I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it.
Pickering offered to testify at the latest hearing, but Chairman Issa wouldn’t let him.
The “whistleblowers” at today’s House Oversight Committee hearing on what really happened in Benghazi, Libya last September were supposed to break the dam that would lead to President Obama’s eventual downfall, in the eyes of conservatives. Instead, these witness actually served to debunk several theories that the right-wing has pushed on Benghazi, leaving the hearing a fizzle for the GOP.
Read the explanations at the link.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN) said Wednesday that he’s “fairly satisfied” with the Obama administration’s account of events that led to the deaths of American diplomats in Benghazi last year.
“We need to know were these people culpable or not. If they were, why are they still on the payroll? Other than that, I’ve been able to read all the cables. I’ve seen the films,” Corker told MSNBC. “I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi. I’m fairly satisfied.”
He cautioned House Republicans to be “respectful” if they probe the issue further.
“Look, if the House wants to have hearings,” he said, “I hope they’re done in a respectful way and hopefully it will shed some light on what happened.”
I guess that’s enough about Benghazi. I apologize for giving it so much space, but I thought if I were confused about this, some of you might be too.
A bit more news in the form of a link dump:
There has been another factory fire in Bangladesh! Reuters reports: Bangladesh factory fire kills eight; collapse toll tops 900
A DailyKos diary deals with a question that has been rattling around in my head: How did Jason Richwine Get a PhD from Harvard?
WBUR Boston University (NPR): Markey Edges Gomez In WBUR Senate Poll
The Hill on Suffolk University Poll: Markey builds strong lead over Gomez in Mass. Senate race
I realize the media is dying for another Scott Brown surprise, but it’s just not gonna happen.
Unfortunately, it looks like Huckleberry Closetcase will be back in 2014.
Chicago Tribune: Cleveland kidnapping: Bond for Ariel Castro set at $8 million
Why is he getting any chance of getting out on bail??
Could there be a worse idea by the candy industry? Kids would be getting that gum!
Sooooo . . . what’s new with you? What are you reading and blogging about today? Please share your links on any subject in the comment thread!
I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed and paralyzed at the moment, so I’m going to have to limit myself to a link dump this morning. Otherwise I’m never going to get started.
Stories that may fill in some blanks on the Tsarnaev brothers.
A very helpful piece from the Wall Street Journal: Life in America Unraveled for Brothers, By ALAN CULLISON and PAUL SONNE in Moscow and JENNIFER LEVITZ in Cambridge, Mass.
The New Yorker’s David Remnick on The Culprits provides some background on the Chechen connection.
At Crooks and Liars, Boston Bombing Suspects Recall Home-Grown Terrorists in Madrid, London Attacks
Henry Blodget at Business Insider: The FBI Needs To Explain Why It Failed To Monitor Boston Bombing Suspect Despite A Clear Warning
FBI Press Release on their Investigation of Tamerlan Tsarnaev
A little more news related to the Boston bombings
Neighbors say three have been arrested in New Bedford in connection with the Boston Bombing suspect.
Police apprehended suspects from the Hidden Brook Apartments on Carriage Drive in New Bedford. Neighbors say they think that the girlfriend of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have lived in the complex and they have seen him in the area as recently as yesterday.
The National Memo: Lindsey Graham Does A Quick Trashing Of the Constitution On Twitter
Slate.com on the high tech methods used to catch the second suspect
Police used a robot, flashbangs, and a thermal camera to apprehend second Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Friday night, as Boston police recounted in a press conference shortly afterward. But it was a citizen’s alarming encounter with the suspect that proved to be the key in finding him.
Russ Baker at Who What Why: The Marathon Bombing: What the Media Didn’t Warn You About
Seth Mnookin at The New Yorker: Watertown Diary
I have lots more, but I’ll leave the Boston story there for now.
The Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion
The fertilizer plant that exploded on Wednesday, obliterating part of a small Texas town and killing at least 14 people, had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Yet a person familiar with DHS operations said the company that owns the plant, West Fertilizer, did not tell the agency about the potentially explosive fertilizer as it is required to do, leaving one of the principal regulators of ammonium nitrate – which can also be used in bomb making – unaware of any danger there.
Fertilizer plants and depots must report to the DHS when they hold 400 lb (180 kg) or more of the substance. Filings this year with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which weren’t shared with DHS, show the plant had 270 tons of it on hand last year.
In other news…
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Across America, a week of chaos, horror — and hope
the International News: Pervez Musharraf transferred to farmhouse
Christian Science Monitor: Judge orders Musharraf held for 14 days before next hearing
Foreign Policy Magazine: Eric Schmidt: Money is the only reason Julian Assange redacted WikiLeaks files
The Guardian: Inside the mind of Eric Schmidt
That’s about all I have the energy for right now. I’ll post more links in the comments. What are you focusing on today? Please share your recommended reads, and have a great Saturday!
I thought we needed some fun tonight, and since Dak already wrote about the real Freaks earlier today, we will just have a few laughs…
If you have not seen Jon Stewart the past few days, you have missed some great bits. Just check it out, Jon Stewart: U.S. May Be ‘F**ked,’ But At Least We Don’t Have Meteors And Horse Meat In Our Burgers
Stewart first took on the growing scandal in England over horse meat found in Burger King burgers, saying that at least Americans can expect grade A ground beef that’s processed and assembled in factories. Only three countries on record eat horse, Italy, France, and Kazakhstan; the latter led Stewart to create a new dish: KFH (Kentucky Fried Horse). “If the bucket doesn’t look at you, it’s free.”
The second part of this link is a laugh riot…Jon highlights something I have never seen before…a mass cow tipping.
Stewart then turned to the meteor that exploded over Russia, but what interested Stewart more than the meteor itself was how Russians reacted to it. He showed how the only reason there is so much footage of the meteor is because cars in Russia have cameras installed on the dashboards. After seeing one Russian’s unfazed reaction to the exploding meteor, Stewart asked, “Is everyone in Russian society just that jaded?”
But then Stewart showed clips of other weird car-cam moments, and could only conclude that Russians see “so much crazy shit,” a meteor isn’t really that surprising.
Oh that is beautiful…tanks, drunks, men with hatchets and the average Russian woman.
Stewart also kicked the ass of both distinguished Lady from South Carolina, and the king of Sunday talk shows: Jon Stewart Destroys McCain For Hagel, Benghazi Outrage, And Iraq: ‘You Don’t Get To Pull… That Sh*t’
Jon Stewart tonight took on Republican senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain for their hyped-up outrage over Benghazi that led both to support holding up Chuck Hagel‘s nomination for Defense Secretary in order to get answers. Stewart tore into McCain specifically for having the hubris to demand answers for Benghazi when he did no such thing regarding the Iraq war and his motivations for blocking Hagel were not exactly free of personal bias.
Stewart is on fire!
In other news, the world of flight celebrated an anniversary today.
Remember when we didn’t have flying cars? Remember when all we could do is zoom around in two dimensions like suckers? Life was simpler then. Anyway, that’s the wistful reality that inventor/aviator Waldo Waterman was hoping for us. You see, today in 1937, the first “flying car” left the ground.
We saw this flying car when we went to the Hazy Hanger during our trip to Washington, DC. They are so cool.
Lake Tahoe…I often wonder about all those mob hits that must litter that cold lake bottom. This next link makes that phrase “swim with the fishes” even more significant. Monster Goldfish Found in Lake Tahoe
A new kind of lake monster has been found, in the depths of Lake Tahoe: gigantic goldfish. Researchers trawling the lake for invasive fish species scooped up a goldfish that was nearly 1.5 feet long and 4.2 pounds.
“During these surveys, we’ve found a nice corner where there’s about 15 other goldfish,” environmental scientist Sudeep Chandra of the University of Nevada, Reno, told LiveScience. “It’s an indication that they were schooling and spawning.” The arrival of the fish, which were probably dumped there by aquarium owners, has Chandra worried — goldfish are an invasive species that could interfere with Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem.
Wow, that goldfish would need a big ass fish bowl.
This is an open thread.
Oh, and by the way…Freaks will be shown on TCM Saturday April 20th, at 8pm.
Senator Lindsey Graham appeared on Fox News Sunday today and put on one of his patented disagreeable and self-righteous displays, apparently in aid of making himself look like a tough guy to the right wing nuts back home in South Carolina.
Graham has been living in fear for quite some time now–terrified that some tea party bot will challenge his seat in the Senate and bring him down like Mike Lee did to Bob Bennett in Utah and Richard Mourdock did to Richard Lugar in Indiana.
Over the past few months, Graham has appeared more and more desperate–joining John McCain in a manic freakout over the Benghazi attacks and ginning up bizarre attacks President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. He even went so far as to claim that Hillary Clinton “got away with murder” in the Beghazi affair. Dana Millbank recently called Graham “the mad dog of Capital Hill.”
Graham’s nasty-guy act seems to be working, according to Politico. So far no one has come forward to primary him, although SC state senator Lee Bright is still thinking about it.
Graham’s recent run is hard to miss: He helped sink U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s chance of becoming secretary of state. He said on Fox that Hillary Clinton “got away with murder” in the aftermath of last year’s terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. In just the past couple of weeks, he’s used his positions on the Armed Services and Judiciary committees to rip into defense secretary-designate Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and witnesses who favor new gun-control measures.
On Tuesday, Graham pounced to discredit Timothy Heaphy, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Virginia, during a hearing on gun violence.
His first question: “Do you own a gun?”
Heaphy acknowledged that he didn’t.
“Do any of your close friends own a gun?” Graham pressed….
Never mind that most federal prosecutors have some expertise with gun violence or that U.S. attorneys need special permission from the Justice Department to carry firearms at work. Graham had scored the political point.
I didn’t get the point, but I’m guessing it’s related to Graham’s recent bragging about owning an AK-47. And look out bad guys–Graham also likes Quentin Tarrantino!
“Being from South Carolina, I’ve owned guns all of my life,” Graham said at a press conference. “I own an AR-15. I saw the movie ‘Django [Unchained].’ I like Quentin Tarantino.”
“That may say a lot about my movie taste, but there are many moving parts to this,” he added.
It’s not the first time Graham has invoked his AR-15 while arguing against new gun laws — the senator recently mentioned his semi-automatic rifle while making the case that high-capacity magazines are needed to protect families.
It was, however, the first time Graham has weighed in on Tarantino’s much-debated slavery revenge flick. He appeared to be arguing that violence in the media and video games ought to be discussed, while simultaneously making the case that individuals such as himself could act as both responsible gun owners and consumers of violent cinema.
Today in his Fox News Sunday appearance, Graham really went all out–arguing that preventing cuts to the military is more important than providing health care for Americans. It’s looking more and more as if Republicans will allow the sequester cuts to happen at the end of the month, and Graham claims the defense cuts will “destroy the military.” From Think Progress:
Graham suggested that the sequester’s across-the-board cuts to federal spending, including about a roughly 7.5 percent reduction in military spending, would be “destroying the military.” But rather than agree to President Obama’s proposed alternatives to the sequester, the South Carolina Republican said we should save money by eliminating health care for the 30 million people covered by the Affordable Care Act:
CHRIS WALLACE: Let me just ask you one more question about the sequestration before we let you go, Senator. You know if we go into the sequester, the president is going to hammer Republicans, the White House already put out a list of all the things, terrible things that will happen if a sequester kicks in, 70,000 children losing Head Start. 2100 fewer food inspectors and small business will lose $900 million in loan guarantees and you know, Senator, the president will say your party is forcing this to protect tax cuts for the wealthy.
GRAHAM: Well, all i can say is the commander-in-chief thought — came up with the idea of sequestration, destroying the military and putting a lot of good programs at risk. It is my belief — take Obamacare and put it on the table. You can make $86,000 a year in income and still get a government subsidy under Obamacare. Obamacare is destroying health care in this country and people are leaving the private sector, because their companies cannot afford to offer Obamacare and if you want to look at ways to find $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade, look at Obamacare, don’t destroy the military and cut blindly across the board. There are many ways to do it but the president is the commander-in-chief and on his watch we’ll begin to unravel the finest military in the history of the world, at a time when we need it most. The Iranians are watching us, we are allowing people to be destroyed in Syria, and i’m disappointed in our commander-in-chief.
I’m no expert on the “Sequester”–I’ll leave that to Dakinikat–but frankly, I believe the military could be cut plenty and not be “destroyed.” Here’s an analysis by Laura Matthews of the International Business Times from Feb. 8:
Looking at the possible cuts closely, some experts say that these politicians are overreacting, and that, in reality, they are defending the Pentagon’s bureaucratic turf — its value as measured by its annual funding — not the country in opposing the budget cuts.
“The Defense Department will have enough latitude to protect what’s crucial and I don’t think we will be less safe in 2013 or thereafter,” said Mattea Kramer, the research director at the National Priorities Project in Northampton, Mass.
For one thing, the 2011 U.S. defense budget, about $700 billion, dwarfed those of all other nations by a large amount. China, the second-biggest spender, had a defense budget of $143 billion that year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. No other country even breaks into the triple digits of billions of dollars.
For another, because the spending cuts will roll in over a decade, the average yearly cut would be about $45 billion, little more than 5 percent of America’s annual defense spending. And, according to Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington and an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, “even if the defense budget were reduced by the entire $1 trillion, or about $100 billion a year over the next decade, it would amount to a reduction of [the defense budget] of about 15 percent.” Which means that annual defense spending would be about equal to what it was in 2007 — when the U.S. was involved in two active wars.
Matthews writes that the “Sequester” provides an “opportunity” to
revisit the nature of global threats and its response to them, a growing of experts believe. National-security needs have shifted dramatically since the Cold War, from containing a lone rival superpower to combating terrorism, fighting smaller conflicts, and cyberwarfare. In that time, the U.S. has, in many ways, moved away from deterrence to prevention.
The key capability that the Defense Department should focus on in this environment is navigating a more varied, contested, and asynchronous battlefield, the experts say. Instead of ballistic missile defense programs, the Pentagon would be better served and its budget better used by spending more money to train and equip special-operations forces, the kind that killed Osama bin Laden, and to develop more innovative submarines, unmanned and manned stealthy long-range aircraft, and offensive and defensive cyberwarfare systems, said Todd Harrison, a defense and budget expert with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.
In November 2012, Ezra Klein used the following graph to demonstrate that “the sequester’s defense cuts aren’t that scary.”
Th[e] graph comes from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and it shows real military spending since the Korean War (“real” in that the graph adjusts for inflation).
As you can see, the post-9/11 rise in military spending was larger than the rise during Vietnam and during the Cold War. And even if we implement every single cut in the sequester, the fall in spending would be less than the military experienced after Korea, Vietnam, or the Cold War.
Getting rid of Obamacare, on the other hand, would increase the federal deficit by 109 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
We’re seeing how much it’s worth to Lindsey Graham to save his seat in the Senate. If ever had a soul, he’s sold it now. If that has made him happy, it sure doesn’t show.
Listening to that gun violence hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday was truly mind blowing. It’s very difficult for me to understand how someone like Crazy Wayne LaPierre or Gayle “Guns Keep Women Safe” Trotter can actually be permitted to testify before Congress. It was also mind-blowing to hear these people (Senators and pro-gun advocates) attacking “the mentally ill” and video games, yet no experts on mental illness or the effects of video games were invited to testify.
My mind was so blown by what I saw and heard yesterday that I have been unable to think of much other than gun violence and the refusal of our “leaders” to do anything about it. So this will be a gun-oriented post. First some information about the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
TPM Muckraker: NRA Spent Big To Help Senate Judiciary Republicans
The biggest recipient of the NRA’s money is one of the committee’s newest members: freshman Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who got a $344,742 boost in independent expenditures from the NRA during his race against former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona. According to Public Campaign’s figures, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has received $136,639 from the NRA, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, has received $78,526. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is the only Democrat on the committee who has received an NRA donation. Leahy’s Green Mountain PAC has received $7,000.
Patrick Leahy sells out pretty cheaply. According to the San Francisco Chronicle: Senate Judiciary chair rejects Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapons ban.
The Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee did not endorse colleague Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapons ban at a packed Capitol Hill hearing on guns Wednesday in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called for “common sense reform,” that closes loopholes in current gun laws and enforces background checks. Buthe did not endorse Feinstein’s tougher ban. “I know gun store owners in Vermont,” Leahy said. “They follow the law and conduct background checks…why should we not try to plug the loopholes in the law that allow (criminals and the mentally ill) to buy guns without background checks?”
The rebuffed California Democrat plans to hold her own hearing in her Judiciary subcommittee on her legislation, which is strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has also refused to back a ban on military-style weapons and high-capacity clips. Reid’s position reflects the political fact that a whole bevy of conservative Democrats do not support Feinstein’s ban.
HuffPo: Senate Judiciary Committee Includes At Least Seven Gun Owners.
* At least 7 of 18 committee members own guns (7 committee member refused to answer the question)
* Senator Leahy was champion marksman in college
* Senator Sessions has about a dozen firearms
And guess what Lindsey Graham has in his closet with him?
“I have an AR-15 at home and I haven’t hurt anybody and I don’t intend to do it,” Graham declared on Wednesday at a Judiciary Committee hearing.
We’re all relieved to hear that, Senator.