Thursday Reads: A Mixed Bag of News and Views

Tea in the garden darker

Good Morning!!

I’m not seeing any particular theme in today’s news, but there is quite a bit of good stuff to read; so I’ll just toss out a few items that interested me.

Poor Benjamin Netanyahu. It seems all his efforts to use the Republican Congress to squash President Obama’s negotiations is one big giant fail. He managed to get reelected with the help of John Boehner et al., but that’s about it. First Obama said that Iran recognizing Israel wouldn’t be part of any deal, and then yesterday the White House mocked Bibi on Twitter.

The Washington Post: Why Obama says Iran does not have to recognize Israel as part of a nuclear deal.

President Obama, who doesn’t get along with Netanyahu, seemed to dismiss the Israeli premier’s latest demand in an interview this week. When asked by NPR’s Steve Inskeep whether Iranian recognition of the state of Israel would be included in any final deal, Obama deemed such a move a “fundamental misjudgment.” Here’s an excerpt of his remarks:

Well, let me say this — it’s not that the idea of Iran recognizing Israel is unreasonable. It’s completely reasonable and that’s U.S. policy….

There’s still going to be a whole host of differences between us and Iran, and one of the most profound ones is the vile, anti-Semitic statements that have often come out of the highest levels of the Iranian regime. But the notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons, in a verifiable deal, on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.

The point here is one that diplomats would take for granted. When attempting to make a deal with your interlocutor, particularly one where there’s a considerable history of grievance and animosity, you can’t expect to win a total capitulation.

Duh. Poor Bibi, like today’s Republicans doesn’t comprehend the notion of compromise.

David Knowles at Bloomberg Politics on the Twitter gag: White House Trolls Netanyahu on Iran with Bomb Graphic.

The White House has employed a graphic first used by Benjamin Netanyahu to push its case for a nuclear deal with Iran that the Israeli Prime Minister opposes. On Wednesday, the president’s office posted a tweet that borrowed the graphic representation of a bomb that Netanyahu had held up during a speech to the United Nation’s General Assembly in which he warned of Iran’s growing nuclear capability.

The fuse on the original image was intact, and there was no sign of the metaphorical scissors or accompanying text that the White House saw fit to add.

Bibi bomb

Pretty funny.

And how about this op-ed from the Jerusalem Post: How Netanyahu is single-handedly hurting the US-Israel relationship.

Benjamin Netanyahu is singlehandedly hurting a relationship that has resulted in over $100 billion in military aid to Israel since 1962.  The Prime Minister is hurting a relationship with a country that constantly defends Israel at the UN; resulting in over 30 U.S. vetoes of resolutions critical to Israel. Because of Netanyahu, some are wondering if the U.S. should continually give $3.1 billion in annual aid and professors like Harvard’s Steven Strauss have written about ending this perpetual assistance. Sadly, the Prime Minister’s supporters in Israel and abroad don’t seem moved by the magnitude of what could be lost if Netanyahu’s feud with Obama “gets even worse.”  [….] 

even those whose job it was to protect Israel from the threats trumpeted by Netanyahu feel that the Prime Minister has overstepped the boundaries of rationality.

According to The Jerusalem Post recently, “Former Mossad chief slams Netanyahu for insistence that Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist.” Efraim Halevy also predicted a“dramatic” improvement in Israeli relations with the U.S. if Netanyahu were to be defeated in the latest elections.  Another former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, called Netanyahu’s speech to Congress “bull—t” and views the Prime Minister’s policies as dangerous to Israel’s future. A third former Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, stated that a nuclear Iran did notpost an existential threat to Israel; a viewpoint directly at odds with the hysteria (fueled by Netanyahu’s political ideology) surrounding Obama’s nuclear deal.

When three former Mossad chiefs are forced to speak out, an Israeli Prime Minister should tone down his paranoid rhetoric, not increase the tempo of his political exploits. Say what you will about Bibi’s critics, but former Mossad chiefs aren’t “leftist” and they know quite a bit about Israeli security threats. Their sober assessment of Netanyahu’s P. T. Barnum inspired diplomacy (regarding Israel’s U.S. relationship) is just cause to reassess the Prime Minister’s behavior; not champion his constant criticism of Obama’s nuclear deal.

The Economist writes that “RARELY have relations between an American president and an Israeli prime minister sunk so low.” The New Yorker published an article titled A Bad Day In American-Israeli Relations. Senator Dianne Feinstein recently stated she wished that Netanyahu “would contain himself” and I echoed the California Senator’s sentiment in a recent Congress Blog piece. Tzipi Livni has warned that Netanyahu is leading Israel into “crisis and diplomatic isolation.” Like Livni, Yair Lapid has lamented over the state of relations between the White House and Israel, stating, “This damage will take a long time to mend.” Everyone from former Mossad chiefs, U.S. Senators, Israeli politicians, and journalist have expressed dismay about the decline in a relationship that is essential to Israel’s future.


From The Washington Post, here’s more interesting news from the White House: White House condemns therapy to ‘cure’ gay youth.

The statement was issued in response to a White House petition signed by more than 120,000 people after the suicide of 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen from Ohio whose suicide note condemning the society’s treatment of transgender people went viral after her death. In the note, she indicated she had been subjected to such therapies.

“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights,” Alcorn wrote in her note.

The White House statement, issued by President Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, condemned “conversion” therapy, also known as “reparative” therapy, which she defined as any treatment aimed at changing a person’s sexual identity.

“The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm,” she wrote. “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

Shortly before releasing the White House response to the petition on conversion therapy, according to a White House official, Jarrett spoke with organizers of the petition. “She listened to their personal stories about why this was important to them and thanked them for their efforts,” said the official, who asked for anonymity in order to describe a private conversation.

Transgender Bathroom

And from The Advocate: The White House’s Executive Office Now Has Gender-Neutral Bathroom.

An all-gender restroom is for the first time available in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, confirms a White House spokesman. Alternatively, guests are invited to use whichever bathroom fits with their gender identity.

“The White House allows staff and guests to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity,” said White House spokesman Jeff Tiller, “which is in keeping with the administration’s existing legal guidance on this issue and consistent with what is required by the executive order that took effect today for federal contractors.”

Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, had mentioned the policy change in an op-ed today for The Advocate, saying the adminstration had “closely examined” its policies on “restroom access” to help “ensure that everyone who enters this building feels safe and fully respected.”

Gender neutral bathrooms, if single-stall, also often offer a safe space to differently abled users, parents with their children, and anyone else seeking privacy.

The push for gender-neutral restrooms in public buildings and workplaces has been one cause taken up by transgender rights activists — and one that’s found the most visible sucecss on university campuses — making Jarrett’s anouncement feel to many like a win for trans Americans.

“It is heartening to see that, even if legislators in some states are attacking the dignity and humanity of transgender and gender-nonconforming people, at least the White House is still moving in the direction of dignity and common sense,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told The Advocate.

Within the past several years, the Obama administration has been increasingly affirming of trans citizens, with Vice President Joe Biden referring in 2012 to transgender discrimination as the “civil rights issue of our time” and President Obama using the word “transgender” (in addition to “lesbian” and “bisexual”) in this year’s State of the Union Address for the first time ever for any president. Federal employees have had the right to use the bathroom that accords with their gender identiy since 2011.

Around the country, heads of Republican homophobes must be exploding. Read the whole article for more on LGBT-positive actions the Obama administration has taken.

Xavier Morales

Xavier Morales

Some not so good news: the Secret Service’s credibility continues to slide downhill rapidly.

WaPo: Secret Service manager put on leave during probe of alleged assault.

The D.C. police’s sex-crimes unit and a government inspector general are investigating the female agent’s allegation that Xavier Morales, a manager in the security clearance division, made unwanted sexual advances and grabbed her on the night of March 31 after they returned to the office from a party at a downtown restaurant, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the probe.

The woman told police and agency investigators that Morales, her boss, told her during the party at Capitol City Brewing Company that he was in love with her and would like to have sex with her, according to two people briefed on her statements. In the office later, she alleged, Morales tried to kiss her and grabbed her arms when she resisted, according to the two people briefed on her complaint. The woman alleged that the two scuffled until Morales relented.

Through an agency spokesman, Morales declined to comment, and he did not respond to requests for comment left on his personal phone.

Late last week, the Secret Service took the unusual step of placing Morales on indefinite administrative leave and adding his name to an internal “do not admit” list prohibiting entry to the office, a Secret Service official said. The Secret Service also took away his gun and badge after agency investigators launched a preliminary review of the complaint and conducted “subsequent corroborative interviews” Thursday afternoon, said agency spokesman Brian Leary.

More details at Xavier Morales: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.

Ugh. Maybe we need more female Secret Service agents to quell the “boys will be boys” atmosphere in the agency.


More trouble may be coming for NJ governor and possible GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie. reports:  Indictments may come very soon in Bridgegate, report says.

Indictments may be coming very soon in Bridgegate, the investigation into improper lane closures at the George Washington Bridge in late 2013 that has also led to questions about bribery and conflicts of interest possibly involving Gov. Christie and the Port Authority, sources told The New York Times.

New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman launched the probe a few months after three lanes were closed to the bridge in September 2013, causing gridlock in Fort Lee. The closures were initially attributed to a traffic study by a Port Authority executive, Bill Baroni, but emails unearthed during an investigation revealed that the lanes were shut down on the orders of a Christie aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, to a Port Authority official appointed by Christie, David Wildstein. Some believe the lane closures were retribution for the failure of Fort Lee’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, to endorse Christie’s bid for re-election at a time when the governor and likely Republican presidential candidate was trying to build bipartisan support.

The Times previously reported that Fishman’s office may bring indictments to the operators of the bridge under a little-used statute that makes it a crime to use the bridge for something other than its intended purpose. Fishman’s office declined to say what course the investigation is taking.

This could be very interesting.

I have more news links, but I’m running out of space and time. I’ll add them to the comments.

What stories are you following? I’d love to read your comments on this post and click on your links to your recommended reads for today.


40 Comments on “Thursday Reads: A Mixed Bag of News and Views”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Bibi and the neocons won’t be satisfied until there is a war declared on Iran thus dragging the US into another conflagration that would “please” the ultra Right wing of the Republican Party. This has been the intent all along. An “us vs them” opportunity that would have global consequences effecting everyone on the planet. Stupid.

    And why are we giving so much money to Israel when it is an accepted fact that they are armed to the teeth with a viable defense system that is the envy of the world? How often to we look to Israel in adopting many of their measures to ensure security and we are still pumping billions into their pockets without asking if it is necessary to continue to do so?

    Hopefully those NJ indictments come down soon. We have been waiting for the final results for a long time while Christie continues his march to the WH fully believing that he will be exonerated for the behavior of his aides who he claims acted on their own. Astonishing.

    Marco Rubio is expected to announce his run for the WH next week making that 3 Southern politicians so far willing to sell their souls for the chance to “take back our country” by catering to the redneck faction of the Republican Party. Look and listen for a lot or references to “god and guns” to fall out of their mouths in the pursuit of the “bubba vote”.

    Just hope that Hillary does not stoop to that level in order to attract the worst of the worst.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hi Pat,

      Not to mention that Israel got their nukes by stealing them from us.

      I just can’t wait for Marco Rubio to join Ted “wild man” Cruz and Randy Paul in the clown car.

      • janicen says:

        I love the bomb tweet. It’s so in-your-face! 😀

        • bostonboomer says:

          I thought it was great. And on top of Obama explaining why recognition of Israel couldn’t be in the deal, it has to have people thinking twice about voting for Netanyahu.

        • NW Luna says:

          That bomb graph is so funny! And gets the point across.

    • List of X says:

      As far as I know, the US promised to give Israel $3 billion a year in military aid (and a similar amount to Egypt) as a condition of 1979 Camp David peace treaty where Israel gave back the Sinai peninsula back to Egypt, and Egypt agreed to recognize Israel. I think it’s Egypt who got the better part of the bargain here, actually. 🙂 But certainly not the U.S.

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    Rand Paul says he has a secret that will “shock” people about Hillary

    “Rand Paul Predicts Hillary Clinton Revelations Will ‘Shock People’ ”

    This wild-haired idiot is so afraid of Hillary he might poop his pants over it.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks. I have more on Rand Paul. I’ll post it down below.

    • janicen says:

      Pretty sure Hillary will be able to withstand any attack from Small Paul. 🙂

      • bostonboomer says:

        I think so. She’ll brush him aside like gnat.

      • NW Luna says:

        “Small Paul” is such an apt description of him! I can just see his eyes popping out when he gets flayed with logic during a debate. If he can recognize logic. Come to think of it, he’ll probably freak out that a woman is actually debating him and manifest a repulsive imitation of one of those bath fizzy bombs dissolving….

        • ANonOMouse says:

          I would love to see him in a debate with Hillary, attempting to mansplain and talking to her the way he has female reporters. Hillary will fillet him like a fish and throw him back in.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    WaPo: Officer who shot man had prior excessive force complaint

    The white South Carolina police officer charged with murder for shooting an unarmed black man in the back was allowed to stay on the force despite a 2013 complaint that he used excessive force against another unarmed black man.

    In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Mario Givens recounted Wednesday how he was awakened before dawn one morning by loud banging on the front door of his family’s North Charleston home.

    On the porch was Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager, the officer now charged in the shooting death of Walter Lamer Scott, which was captured in dramatic cellphone footage by a bystander Saturday.

    Read the rest at the link. This guy should have been suspended or fired long ago.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      And they want you to believe that Officers like Slager are the exception? If that’s the case then why did his department not properly investigate the incident of excessive force? I think it’s obvious that the thin blue line was at work to protect Slager and the only thing that explains ignoring his criminal assault on an innocent man is a warped since of fraternity that protects it’s own at all cost. It took a video of MURDER to put this psychopath behind bars. Does anyone believe that without that video that Slager would have been arrested? There are too many of these hot-heads patrolling our streets and it’s the responsibility of Law Enforcement to weed them out and to toss them off the force. Until that happens I don’t know how the public can have any confidence in law enforcement. Also I read this morning that someone had put up a “GoFundMe” page for this creep. It was later taken down by the administrators of GoFundMe.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t even believe he’ll be convicted. As I wrote yesterday, there was video in the Eric Garner and Tamir Rice killings too.

        • gregoryp says:

          Exactly. Those were out and out clear cut murders as well and one was committed on a child. No reason for us to be optimistic about this one until there is a conviction in hand.

    • gregoryp says:

      When so many people are killed by police officers in this country every year then that is not a coincidence or an accident. I am not into conspiracies or anything like that but when the numbers start stacking up like this then something really strange is going on. Racism has to be front and center but there are obviously other factors involved.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Rand Paul had a bad day yesterday, and he’s probably going to make it worse.

    TPM: Rand Paul: I’m ‘Testy With Both Male And Female Reporters’ (VIDEO)

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) denied on Wednesday afternoon that he has a problem with female journalists, just hours after he got into a testy exchange with NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie.

    Paul was asked during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about the accusations from his critics that his interactions with journalists have a sexist bent.

    “I think I’ve been universally short tempered and testy with both male and female reporters. I’ll own up to that,” Paul said. “And it’s hard sometimes. As you know, like during our interview right now, I’m looking only at a camera and it’s hard to have a true interaction sometimes, particularly if it’s a hostile interviewer and so I do think that interviews should be questions and not necessarily editorializing.”

  5. joanelle says:

    As far New Jerseans are concerned Christie has shot himself in both feet and doesn’t have a leg to stand on for a presidential run and Bridgegate is nothing compared to ‘pension gate’

    • ANonOMouse says:

      I wonder how Christie will look in broad black or orange stripes?

      • gregoryp says:

        Aren’t vertical stripes supposed to give a slimming effect illusion? I think they would improve his looks greatly.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    This looks like an interesting read on the Supreme Court and its history of comforting the comfortable. Review at Slate of Ian Millhauser’s new book.

    Justice Denied: Why do we still tolerate the Supreme Court?

  7. List of X says:

    I’m sure it wasn’t just Bibi who would have liked to see Iran accept the existence of Israel, but I’m guessing that if Israelis had to choose between Iran that says that Israel should be destroyed and has no nuclear weapons, and Iran that at the moment says that it accepts Israel’s right to exist and has nuclear weapons, most would choose the former.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Boston Globe editorial:

    Spare Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the death penalty

    Keep him alive so that psychologists and terrorism experts can study his motivations. If he gets the death penalty, we’ll go through years of appeals and the victims will continue to suffer.

  9. Fannie says:

    I agree, no death penalty, put him away for the rest of his life behind bars. I often said the same thing about Charles Manson, study his motivations, but really all the studies in the world will not change things. Just saying.

  10. TheRealKim says:

    I live in Charleston and I will guarantee that Ofcr. Slager will be dealt with quickly and quietly. Our ranking of #1 city in the US and #2 in the world brings in too much money for Mayor Riley and Mayor Sumney to allow all this bad publicity to continue. Things like this just don’t happen in our lovely, sleepy, genteel, southern, holy city (and if it does, ssssshhhh and bless y’all’s hearts).

  11. NW Luna says:

    Ivan Doig, author who chronicled the American West, dies

    Ivan Doig, an award-winning author whose books set in his native Montana made him one of the most respected writers of the American West, has died. He was 75. ….

    In 2007, Doig won the Wallace Stegner Award, which recognizes someone who has “made a sustained contribution to the cultural identity of the West.” He was also the recipient of the Western Literature Association’s lifetime Distinguished Achievement award. ….

    The Australian author Thomas Keneally said Doig was “one of the great American voices, full of grace, abounding in humanity, easeful in narration, hypnotic in pace, grand in range.”