Wednesday Reads: Mental Case.

Good Afternoon.

How many of you are feeling like this poor women in this old 1940’s mug shot…who’s only crime is simply described as:

“MENTAL CASE.”

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She looks so tired. Those bags under her eyes…with permanent wrinkles on her forehead. Her hair is surely neat and well-kept for someone who has been arrested for being a mental case, don’t you think? She is dressed up, I mean…she isn’t disheveled at all.

I wished I had the wherewithal to at least put myself together as well as she has when I head out to the local Walmart or Food Shitty. (Pardon, Food City.)

I’m actually going into this post blind because of internet issues that have made it difficult for me to read any news accounts online. Lack of cell service is also a problem, so I cannot even go on my phone to check up on the world outside Banjoville.

I guess the big news today is the election of a new Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Theresa May: unpredictable, moralistic, and heading to No 10 | Politics | The Guardian

For a woman on the verge of running the country, Theresa May has seemed almost preternaturally calm over the past few days.

“She’s basically the same as ever; quite relaxed and cheerful. There’s no sense of the prison shades falling,” says a longstanding friend who has observed her closely during the campaign. But then, unlike Andrea Leadsom, seemingly badly shaken by a single weekend of hostile media coverage, May knew better than anyone what to expect.

Over the past six years, May has weathered riots, sat in on a decision to go to war, and chaired an emergency Cobra meeting in the prime minister’s absence following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

She has been diligently doing her homework for years and, while even she did not foresee David Cameron resigning in these circumstances (let alone the collapse of all other contenders), she is as ready as she will ever be. The question is whether that is anywhere near ready enough for the turbulent times ahead.

Tory grandee Ken Clarke’s unguarded remarks about her being a “bloody difficult woman”probably did May nothing but good with female voters – and she turned them to her own advantage at the last parliamentary hustings, promising that European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker would soon find out how “bloody difficult” she could be.

But even her friends concede Clarke has a point. “She can be a bugger,” says one otherwise admiring colleague succinctly. “Not easy to work with.” May fights her corner tigerishly and, unusually for a politician, she does not seem bothered about being liked.

It is typical of her take-me-or-leave-me approach that she managed to win the support of almost two-thirds of her parliamentary colleagues despite refusing to bribe waverers with job offers. “You can’t go in and say, ‘Make me under-secretary of state for sproggets and badges and you’ve got my support’,” says Eric Pickles, the ex-cabinet minister and longstanding ally. “That’s not how she operates. You’ve got to take her unconditionally.”

Theresa May must raise game on human rights, charities warn | UK Politics | News | The Independent

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Theresa May’s position as Home Secretary often put her at odds with campaigners over human rights GETTY

Theresa May must improve her and Britain’s record on human rights now that she is becoming Prime Minister, campaigners have warned.

Amnesty UK and Reprieve are amongst charities calling for the former Home Secretary to commit to a fresh start on issues like UK complicity in torture, and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Ms May has previously said she would consider pulling out of said Convention, but made clear during her leadership campaign that that policy was now off the table.

She has also been criticised for masterminding a policy of sending vans around Britain telling undocumented migrants to “go home or face arrest”. Heavily anti-immigration themes in her speech at Conservative party conference 2015 were also rubbished by campaigners.

Donald Campbell, head of communications at, Reprieve told the Independent that as Home Secretary Ms May had presided over “worrying” secrecy but expressed hope that things might change.

“At times, Theresa May’s Home Office has been worryingly secretive on human rights issues,” he said.

“For example, they have frequently refused to disclose information on funding and training for overseas police forces which could lead to people being tortured and executed.

“We hope that the new prime minister will place greater emphasis on transparency and accountability, and ensure Britain no longer provides assistance which could end up supporting torture and the death penalty around the world.

“At home, she must deliver an independent, judge led inquiry into uk involvement in the CIA torture programme- a promise made, but then abandoned, by her predecessor.”

We might have Theresa May as PM but, make no mistake, we’re still heading for a ‘hard Brexit’ | Voices | The Independent

The Leavers have had a tough two weeks. First Johnson, then Gove, and finally Leadsom, all vanquished – no wonder David Cameron was whistling. The next occupant of Number 10 will be from the same side of the Conservative Party as him. George Osborne will either stay as Chancellor or be replaced by another advocate of Remain. The grim faces of Leadsom’s supporters on Monday morning told the story: they were outdone.

But there is more to come from Leave. The facts of political life under Brexit still favour them. For a start, Prime Minister Theresa May will rely on Leavers for a parliamentary majority. Then, as Government business resumes under a new ministerial team inevitably featuring many Leavers, the day-to-day reality of still being bound by EU law will create controversy.

It might be the proposal for state aid to stop a factory from closing, a new judgement from a European Court, the burdens on business of a new directive, or something entirely bananas – all the ways in which Leavers have styled outrage in the past over Europe are still available to them now.

The new PM will say, of course, that it’s only a matter of time until we’re on our way out. Yet if she wants to keep open the option of joining the European Economic Area then European laws will not be shed so easily. We won’t be free with one bound, the Leavers will discover, and then the question is whether they will stay quiet out of loyalty or speak to voters about this perceived treachery.

Theresa May becomes prime minister and appoints Boris Johnson foreign secretary – politics live | Politics | The Guardian

Let me repeat that:

Boris Johnson foreign secretary 

Oh wow, that is a shame.

From the Guardian’s live feed:

Be sure to click here to see the latest updates.

Theresa May is Queen Elizabeth’s 13th British prime minister. She probably won’t be her last. – The Washington Post

Queen Elizabeth II has seen it all before — 12 times before, to be precise.

On Wednesday, she said goodbye to David Cameron, her 12th prime minister, and hello to Theresa May, her 13th.

While a political earthquake has shook Westminster to its core and triggered the resignations of a number of politicians, the queen has managed to do what she always does: reign above the fray.

One thing I find interesting, from a personal perspective:

New UK Prime Minister Brings Spotlight to Type 1 Diabetes

Today Theresa May becomes the second woman to serve as prime minister of the United Kingdom, but she’ll be the first major world leader living with type 1 diabetes.

Mrs May, 59, replaces David Cameron and will face what is likely to be an intense, drawn-out process negotiating the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (aka “Brexit”) as the country voted to do on June 23 (or work out some alternative, although she has vowed to proceed, stressing that “Brexit means Brexit”). And all the while she’ll also have to manage her type 1 diabetes, which she was diagnosed with just 4 years ago while she was the United Kingdom’s home secretary.

In July 2013, a few months after her diagnosis, she spoke publicly about the challenge and how she was meeting it. She told the UK Daily Mail : “It was a real shock and, yes, it took me a while to come to terms with it,” but “the diabetes doesn’t affect how I do the job or what I do. It’s just part of life…so it’s a case of head down and getting on with it.”

She was 56 years old at the time and had been losing weight, feeling tired, and drinking a lot of fluids but attributed those to job stress and a fitness program she had recently begun. She was initially misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes — a common occurrence in those who develop autoimmune diabetes in adulthood — and finally diagnosed with type 1 in November 2012.

Following her diagnosis, Mrs May attended several events sponsored by the JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) in the United Kingdom, including a ball in 2015 that raised £620,000 to support the organization, according to the group’s website.

Theresa May [Source: Matt Dunham/AP]

Whether she’ll continue that advocacy as prime minister and how she’ll manage her own condition going forward remain to be seen.

Obviously the main point now is how she will handle the mess she is inheriting from Cameron…but I do think it is important for those people with the T1D (Type 1 Diabetes) to have a fellow sufferer of this disease… someone with her position and standing in the world, to look to as an example that T1D is not life debilitating. As long as you take care of yourself.

There are plenty of other links regarding Ms May at the Guardian and Independent sites above.

 

One more link before I go…my internet is giving me problems.

Scientists find new two-fingered dinosaur — and a curse

Maybe this dinosaur really, really didn’t want to be found.

Scientists digging for fossils in rural Argentina found themselves beset by misfortune, ranging from bureaucratic interference to a serious truck accident. Now the researchers have given an appropriate name to the strange new species they finally discovered: Gaulicho, the local word for a curse.

If bad luck befalls anyone in the region where the fossil was uncovered, “people say that somebody made a gualicho on you,” says paleontologist Sebastián Apesteguía of the Azara Foundation in Buenos Aires, co-author of a study in this week’s PLOS ONE about the new animal. Of all the dinosaurs he’s worked on recently, “this was the most difficult by far.”

Gualicho was found on the second-to-last day of the scientists’ research at the site. Study co-author Peter Makovicky recalls he jokingly ordered one of his workers “to go find something.” Minutes later, “she did.”

What she found was a meat-eating dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous that stood upright on two slender legs, making it “reasonably speedy,” says Makovicky of TheField Museum in Chicago. It weighed as much as a big Clydesdale and would’ve towered over a six-foot-tall human.

But Gualicho could’ve used a little upper-body work. Its short arms — roughly as long as a child’s — were shriveled and apparently not very useful. Instead, the animal probably relied on powerful jaws to grab and grip its quarry, scientists say.

Gualicho is in good company. Both T. rex and its fellow tyrannosaurs had stumpy arms, as did a separate clan of upright carnivorous dinosaurs. But Gualicho is on a different branch on the dinosaur family tree from the others, meaning it must have evolved puny arms independently.

If you want a look at what this dinosaur look like, go to the link…

Gualicho is not only a separate example but also a weird one. Some of its body parts, such as its hind limbs, look like they belong to more primitive animals, while its two-fingered “hands” look like those of the formidable T. rex. Gualicho is a pastiche of a dinosaur, making it difficult for researchers to understand exactly how it relates to others.

Have a good afternoon and evening…

This is an open thread.

 


Independence Day Reads

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by Middleton Manigault – The Rocket (1909)

Happy Independence Day Team USA!

Here’s how the Kennedy family is spending their 4th of July! “Kennedy family BASHES Trump over Fourth of July weekend with a pinata of The Donald at their Cape Cod compound.”  That sounds like some nice harmless fun and very politically incorrect.  The Trumpster should approve but I doubt his thick skull or thin skin will be able to take it in that spirit.

The Kennedy clan gathered at their Hyannis Port compound on Cape Cod over the weekend for their annual Fourth of July festivities, and took some time to attack Donald Trump.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s daughter Kathleen, between known as Kick, posted a photos of a pinata of The Donald from a family party over the weekend.

‘It’s yuge party!,’ wrote Kick in the caption of the Instagram post, which also showed some of her family members milling about in the background.

She later deleted the Instagram post just before 11am on Monday.

Yes, some of us are still rocking in the free world while we can!

There’s a lot of sadness today as we stop to think about Baghdad, Istanbul, and Dhaka where ISIS attacks have killed hundreds of innocent people pis4who were simply going about their day. Our hearts go out to the places that have suffered these massive tragedies.  I’m also reminded today of Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn Rule. 

Powell: What I was saying is, if you get yourself involved—if you break a government, if you cause it to come down, by invading or other means, remember that you are now the government. You have a responsibility to take care of the people of that country.

Isaacson: And it got labeled the Pottery Barn rule.

I, for one, care about these attacks.  I’ve not seen the graphics, the heartfelt “I’m with …” sloganeering, and the banal, jingoistic calls exclaiming that “it’s a war on the Western World.” That’s because it isn’t a war on the Western World.  It’s a war on modernity.

This is a fight we brought to the front door step of many countries–including Iraq–that were not to blame for anything when we invaded Iraq.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and the bungled occupation that followed, Baghdad has been the site of numerous rounds of sectarian bloodletting, al-Qaeda attacks and now the ravages of the Islamic State. Despite suffering significant defeats at the hands of the Iraqi army, including the loss of the city of Fallujah, the militant group has shown its willingness and capacity to brutalize the country’s population.

Public anger in the Iraqi capital, as my colleague Loveday Morris reports, is not being directed at foreign conspirators or even — first and foremost — at the militants, but at a much-maligned government that is failing to keep the country safe.

“The street was full of life last night,” one Karrada resident told The Washington Post, “and now the smell of death is all over the place.”

Vintage-Fireworks-Posters-and-Labels-for-The-Fourth-of-July-1Iraq is being invaded once more and Baghdad is still a shadow of itself in a country with little ability to truly defend its borders and people.

By Monday afternoon the toll in Karrada stood at 151 killed and 200 wounded, according to police and medical sources. Rescuers and families were still looking for 35 missing people.

Islamic State claimed the bombing, its deadliest in Iraq, saying it was a suicide attack. Another explosion struck in the same night, when a roadside bomb blew up in popular market of al-Shaab, a Shi’ite district in north Baghdad, killing two people.

The attacks showed Islamic State can still strike in the heart of the Iraqi capital despite recent military losses, undermining Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s declaration of victory last month when Iraqi forces dislodged the hardline Sunni insurgents from the nearby city of Falluja.

Abadi’s Shi’ite-led government ordered the offensive on Falluja in May after a series of deadly bombings in Shi’ite areas of Baghdad that it said originated from the Sunni Muslim city, about 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital.

Falluja was the first Iraqi city captured by Islamic State in 2014, six months before it declared a caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria. Since last year the insurgents have been losing ground to U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias.

“Abadi has to have a meeting with the heads of national security, intelligence, the interior ministry and all sides responsible for security and ask them just one question: How can we infiltrate these groups?” said Abdul Kareem Khalaf, a former police Major General who advises the Netherlands-based European Centre for Counterterrorism and Intelligence Studies think tank.

He said Islamic State, or Daesh, “has supporters or members everywhere – in Baghdad, Basra and Kurdistan. All it takes is for one house to have at least one man and you have a planning base and launch site for attacks of this type.”

In a sign of public outrage at the failure of the security services, Abadi was given an angry reception on Sunday when he toured Karrada, the district where he grew up, with residents throwing stones, empty buckets and even slippers at his convoy in gestures of contempt.

He ordered new measures to protect Baghdad, starting with the withdrawal of fake bomb detectors that police have continued to use despite a scandal that broke out in 2011 about their sale to Iraq under his predecessor, Nuri al-Maliki.

4001-fireworks_in_tondabayashiSo, today our skies will light up with fireworks that we will purposefully set off to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Hitts_promotional_postermoving forward with liberating our nation from British rule. It’s odd to think that the fall out from colonialism is still going on today and that the fireworks that light up many other places do not represent the symbolic act of a war of Independence but one of oppression and terror.

I’m not sure how many of you will stop by on this holiday to say hi so I’m going to just make this a brief greeting with the one bit of news.   However this is, as always, an open thread and there are other things going on including the election of the next President of the US. 

This is another thing that should give us pause as we continue to clean up the mess of the Bush Administration, and actually the mess left behind by others of his predecessors like Ronald Reagan whose adventures in South and Central American made every one in those countries a lot less safe.

If we’re unable to purse our own liberty and happiness then we can change that under our system of government.  But then, think again what it means when our actions prevent that dream for others.  My heart weeps for all of those who live in countries that we helped break.  We own it.  I think Hillary Clinton understands this.  I think Donald Trump would rather we walk away from our mess.  We broke it. We own it.  Let’s just hope the rest of the coalition of the willing hangs in there with us as we try to stop the carnage.

Have a great 4th!!!  May the fireworks near you be only the celebratory type and not the bullets from another crazed shooter or the ignition of a suicide vest!  May all beings be free from harm!!!

4627294295_283b68b83bTake a swing at a Trump pinata for me!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Book Rainbows 

Good Afternoon

 

What a beautiful image….

On Friday, Dak gave you lovely works from artist known for their use of color. Particularly Georgia O’Keefe… she also wrote about women bloggers….don’t you love when a post focuses on women doing extraordinary things. (As compared to what the misogynist male establishment would rather see us do.)

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Yesterday, Boston Boomer treated us all with images of beautiful people. (Paul Newman and Steve McQueen…who doesn’t want to look at those gorgeous faces and bodies?)

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Today I bring you pictures of books. Rainbow colored books. Although, I am not sure if anyone of us has enough books with colorful covers to do anything like this….but it sure is pretty to look at.

Slow Show – Chris Cobb

 

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Chris Cobb, an artist based in San Francisco, has created an amazing installation in bookshop called Adobe Books- he catalogued every single one of the 20,000 books by color. The project is titled There is Nothing Wrong in This Whole Wide World. They were arranged by hand over a 10 hour period, and he enlisted the help of 16 volunteers. Such beautiful results, they transformed the bookshop overnight.

So enjoy the lovely books.

Here are you links for today.

I am going to post this horrible news first…Nearly 120 killed in overnight Baghdad bombings claimed by Islamic State | Reuters

Nearly 120 people were killed and 200 wounded in two bombings overnight in Baghdad, most of them in a busy shopping area as residents celebrated Ramadan, police and medical sources said on Sunday.

imageThe attack on the shopping area of Karrada is the deadliest since U.S.-backed Iraqi forces last month scored a major victory when it dislodged Islamic State from their stronghold of Falluja, an hour’s drive west of the capital. It is also the deadliest so far this year.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had ordered the offensive after a series of deadly bombings in Baghdad, saying Falluja served as a launchpad for such attacks on the capital. However, bombings have continued.

A convoy carrying Abadi who had come to tour the site of the bombings was pelted with stones and bottles by residents, angry at what they felt were false promises of better security.

A refrigerator truck packed with explosives blew up in the central district of Karrada, killing 115 people and injuring at least 200. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement circulated online by supporters of the ultra-hard line Sunni group. It said the blast was a suicide bombing.

Along with this attack on Friday: Bangladesh Attack Marks Tactical Shift by Islamic State Militants – WSJ

When assailants armed with guns and explosives stormed an upscale cafe in the Bangladeshi capital Friday, shouting “Allahu akbar,” it represented a sharp escalation by extremist followers of Islamic State in South Asia, a region where the terror group had previously gained little traction.

imageBy the time security forces retook the restaurant after an assault backed by armored vehicles early Saturday, 20 civilians, two police officers and six militants had been killed. Brig. Gen. Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury, the army’s director of military operations, said 13 people held hostage were freed.

Among the dead were two students from Emory University, which is based in Atlanta. Abinta Kabir, a U.S. citizen who was an undergraduate student at the school’s Oxford College campus in Georgia, was killed, along with another student, Faraaz Hossain, spokesmen for their families said Saturday. Mr. Hossain’s nationality hasn’t been confirmed.

Tarushi Jain, an 18-year-old Indian national who attended the University of California-Berkeley, also perished in the attack, the Associated Press reported.

Friends mourn Emory students killed in Bangladesh terror attacks | www.myajc.com

When Raquel Jeanette Solla learned two of her Emory University friends were being held hostage in a café in Bangladesh, she clung to the hope they would survive.

“I really believed they’d be okay because they’re such good people, and seemed too sweet to have something so horrible happen to them,” said Solla, a student at the Oxford campus, in an e-mail to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

She found out about the terror attack, about her friends, Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain, being trapped inside a popular cafe in Dhaka, through a Facebook group message. When the stream of updates stopped, she feared the worst early Saturday morning. A Facebook post soon confirmed it.

Abinta and Faraaz were well-known in the tight-knit group of students at Emory University’s Oxford University campus, both sharing a reputation of being bright, enthusiastic, and really, really nice. Bengali students at Emory often get together for pickup soccer games, to talk about some cricket match or share news of home, a place they say rarely makes it into international headlines.

Till now, when Bangladesh was added to the the rapidly escalating list of places devastated by Islamic terrorism. Only days after the attack in Istanbul, and weeks away from the Orlando tragedy, this latest blood bath delivered an extra blow to the Atlanta region. It took the lives of two of our own.

imageMore at the links…

And while you ponder on that, remember….52 still hospitalized after deadly Istanbul airport attack – World – CBC News

Fifty-two people are still in the hospital four days after suicide bombers attacked Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, killing at least 44 others, the city’s governor said Saturday.

The governorate said 184 airport victims have been discharged from hospitals so far, including 13 people released Saturday. It said 20 people were still in intensive care.

Three militants armed with assault rifles and suicide bombs attacked one of the world’s busiest airports on Tuesday night. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Turkish officials say they believe it was the work of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

However according to Reuters: Around 20 Islamic State members in custody over Istanbul airport attack: Erdogan | Reuters

Around 20 Islamic State militants, mainly foreigners, are in custody in connection with an attack last week on Istanbul airport that killed 45 people, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.

Two Russian nationals have been identified as suspected Islamic State suicide bombers in the attack that is thought to have been masterminded by a Chechen, Turkish media said on Friday.

“The latest findings point to the Daesh (Islamic State) terrorist organisation,” Erdogan told Reuters at the Istanbul Ataturk airport, where he visited the attack site.

Video at the link.

imageTake a deep breath after that section of the thread. Go and get something to drink…The rest of the links are not so violent.

There was a warning from the UAE recently, which urged its citizens to avoid dressing in their customary outfits while traveling in the US: UAE tells citizens to avoid national dress while abroad after man held in U.S. | Reuters

The United Arab Emirates has urged men to avoid wearing the white robes, headscarf and headband of the national dress when traveling abroad, after a businessman visiting the United States was wrestled to the ground and held as an Islamic State suspect.

UAE media reported that the Emirati man was detained in Avon, Ohio, last week after a female clerk at a local hotel called 911 to report what she had described as a man affiliated to Islamic State, according to the Arabic-language al-Bayan newspaper. It only identified him by his initials.

The English language The National said the receptionist at the Fairfield Inn hotel called the police after she heard the man talking on his phone in the hotel lobby.

Gulf News, another UAE newspaper, published photos of the Emirati man in white robes being wrestled to the ground and handcuffed before being led away by police.

In a message on a Foreign Ministry Twitter account focusing on citizens traveling abroad, the ministry said on Saturday:

“For citizens traveling outside the country, and in order to ensure their safety, we point out not to wear formal dress while traveling, especially in public places,” the message dated July 2 stated, without referring to the Avon incident.

imageIt is frightening stuff…when you think about it. Isn’t it enough that so many US citizens already are worried for their lives because they look a certain way? The hateful rhetoric is only getting worse…at what point does the US become a High Risk Travel Warning to other nations abroad? When a racist misogynistic fascist asshole is elected president?

Stephen Hawking: Greed And Stupidity Are What Will End The Human Race | The Intellectualist

Physicist Stephen Hawking says pollution coupled with human greed and stupidity are still the biggest threats to humankind.

During an interview on Larry King Now, the science superstar told King that in the six years since he’s spoken with the talk show host people haven’t cleaned up their act.

“We certainly have not become less greedy or less stupid,” Hawking said. “The population has grown by half a billion since our last meeting, with no end in sight. At this rate, it will be eleven billion by 2100.”

You can read the rest of the USA Today article here, including some video: Stephen Hawking: Humankind is still greedy, stupid and greatest threat to Earth

In connection with Hawking’s climate prediction: ‘Unprecedented’: Scientists declare ‘global climate emergency’ after jet stream crosses equator

Paul Beckwith appears in a YouTube video (screen grab)

And meanwhile in Florida: Toxic algae bloom crisis hits Florida, drives away tourists (w/video) | Tampa Bay Times

It’s going to be a long, stinky Fourth of July weekend on Jensen Beach.

Instead of red, white and blue, the color of the day is green. Thick, putrid layers of toxic blue-green algae are lapping at the sand, forcing Martin County officials to close the beach as a health hazard.

“I’ve seen Jensen Beach closed for sharks,” said Irene Gomes, whose family has run the Driftwood Motel since 1958. “I’ve never seen it closed for an algae bloom before.”

As bad as it looks, the stench is far worse, driving away Gomes’ motel customers, chasing off paddleboard and kayak renters and forcing residents to stay indoors.

“It smells like death on a cracker,” said Gomes’ friend Cyndi Lenz, a nurse. Morgues don’t smell as bad, she added.

Boats docked at Central Marine in Stuart, where workers were wearing respirators, are surrounded by blue-green algae on Wednesday. Officials want federal action along Florida’s Atlantic coast where the governor has declared a state of emergency.

 

The toxic algae bloom afflicting Jensen stretches for miles along the Martin County shoreline on the state’s Atlantic coast near Palm Beach. It’s also coating the water in the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie River. It’s thick in Lake Okeechobee, where the toxicity is 200 times what the World Health Organization says constitutes a human health hazard.

And now it’s apparently showing up over on the state’s west coast, too, forcing the closure of a popular park on the Caloosahatchee River and flopping onto Fort Myers Beach.

That is a long article, so give it a look.

But with all this bad news on the environmental front…how about something positive?

imageDecades after the Montreal Protocol, there are signs the hole in the ozone layer has begun to heal – Los Angeles Times

For the first time in 30 years, the gaping hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica is showing signs of healing.

Every year since it was discovered in 1985, scientists have watched the hole grow bigger from one Antarctic spring to the next, eventually covering 10.9 million square miles in 2015.

Now researchers are noting an encouraging trend. Though the hole still exists and reached a record size last year, it is forming at a slower rate, according to a reportpublished Thursday in the journal Science.

Thanks to human actions to curb the use of ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, the hole has started growing later in the spring, the study’s authors said, and they can foresee a time, around the middle of the century, when it’s gone.

“We are starting to see signs of improvement over Antarctica,” said Paul Newman, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who monitors the hole but was not involved in the study.

Whatever you do, be sure to click on that link and go see the images on the LA Times site. It is very interesting…especially with all those little earths spinning next to each other.

Now for some political news links:

Dolly Parton endorses Hillary Clinton: ‘I think a woman would do a great job’ – DeadState

The Utter Inconsequence of Hillary’s Veep – The New York Times

Poll reveals young remain voters reduced to tears by Brexit result | Politics | The Guardian

Germany should offer young Britons EU citizenship after Brexit, says German Vice-Chancellor | Europe | News | The Independent

One more link for you, this one…from my area of the backwoods of Georgia…in the county next door to Banjoville. Fannin County to be exact, where the phrase…

“We have deep mountains.”

Means exactly what you would think it means if it was uttered by some mafia dude to another mafia dude talking about what to do with a body after icing someone in the local fried chicken joint.

Georgia publisher jailed after filing open records request | www.myajc.com

‘Retaliation for use of the Open Records Act will inhibit every citizen from using it.’

A North Georgia newspaper publisher was indicted on a felony charge and jailed overnight last week – for filing an open-records request.

Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason, along with his attorney Russell Stookey, were arrested on Friday and charged with attempted identity fraud and identity fraud. Thomason was also accused of making a false statement in his records request.

» READ THE INDICTMENT

Thomason’s relentless pursuit of public records relating to the local Superior Court has incensed the court’s chief judge, Brenda Weaver, who also chairs the state Judicial Qualifications Commission. Weaver took the matter to the district attorney, who obtained the indictments.

Thomason was charged June 24 with making a false statement in an open-records request in which he asked for copies of checks “cashed illegally.” Thomason and Stookey were also charged with identity fraud and attempted identity fraud because they did not get Weaver’s approval before sending subpoenas to banks where Weaver and another judge maintained accounts for office expenses. Weaver suggested that Thomason may have been trying to steal banking information on the checks.

But Thomason said he was “doing his job” when he asked for records.

“I was astounded, in disbelief that there were even any charges to be had,” said Thomason, 37, who grew up in Fannin County. “I take this as a punch at journalists across the nation that if we continue to do our jobs correctly, then we have to live in fear of being imprisoned.”

Thomason and Stookey are out on $10,000 bond and have a long list of things they cannot do or things they must do to avoid going to jail until their trials. On Thursday, for example, Thomason reported to a pretrial center and was told that he may have to submit to a random drug test – a condition of the bond on which he was released from jail last Saturday.

Alison Sosebee, district attorney in the three counties in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, and Judge Weaver say the charges are justified. Weaver said she resented Thomason’s attacks on her character in his weekly newspaper and in conversations with her constituents.

“I don’t react well when my honesty is questioned,” Weaver said.

imageYou can read more at the link…

Colorful books, how about a colorful nation. Babies Of Color Are Now The Majority, Census Says : NPR Ed : NPR

Today’s generation of schoolchildren looks much different than one just a few decades ago. Nonwhites are expected to become the majority of the nation’s children by 2020, as our colleague Bill Chappell reported last year. This is now the reality among the very youngest Americans: babies.

Babies of color now outnumber non-Hispanic white babies (1 year or younger), according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The newest estimate shows that on July 1, 2015, the population of racial or ethnic minority babies was 50.2 percent.

Which of course, makes me think of that song Cartman sings from South Park…about the Minorities are the Majorities….at his waterpark.

Not My Waterpark – Video Clip | South Park Studios

Cartman sings a heartfelt ode about how his water park isn’t the way he remembered it.

 

But you know, some things never change: The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still the richest families in Florence — Quartz

imageThese next few links are interesting, from a scientific background, first a look at an old article published in 1879:

Interesting perspective on why children die from Birmingham newspaper July 2, 1879 | Alabama Pioneers

Compare it to this:

Can the Ancient World Save Us from the Antibiotic-Resistant Suberbug Apocalypse? – The Daily Beast

Marijuana Compound Removes Alzheimer’s Plaque From Brain Cells, Study Finds | Popular Science

Looking back to find a cure and looking forward to find a solution?

Since we have books on display, we need to have a couple of book list to go with them:

29 Books That Will Enrich Your Inner Literati | TIME

The 75 Best Books of the Last 75 Years: Today in Critical Linking

And finally, a tribute to a lady who is 100 this weekend!

100 Years Of Olivia De Havilland Handling Sexism, Her Sister, And Scarlett O’Hara : NPR

Olivia de Havilland — the last surviving cast member from Gone with the Wind — turns 100 on July 1.

Actress Olivia de Havilland, the last surviving star of the most popular film of all time, retired from showbiz decades ago, apparently feeling that 49 films, two best actress Oscars, and a best-selling memoir were accomplishment enough for one career.

Friday in Paris, she celebrates her 100th birthday, which seems a good moment to reflect on the mix of sparkle and resilience that marked her public life.

De Havilland’s career spanned more than five decades. Thanks to a lawsuit she filed against Warner Bros., she even has a landmark judicial ruling named after her — the de Havilland law limits the terms studios can impose up on actors.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Celebrating the Centenary of Olivia de Havilland – Olivia de Havilland – Lady of the Classic Cinema

Here is the video that Robert Osborne has done for Olivia de Havilland over at TCM:

 

If you cannot see the embedded video click here:  “I’m certainly relishing the idea of living a… – Turner Classic Movies: TCM

Robert Osborne on Olivia De Havilland

imageI confess it: as a Brit would say, I have been one very lucky bloke. It has never ceased to amaze me that a fellow with no connections whatsoever to show business and who grew up in a small farm community in the Northwest (population: 2500), could end up on a national television network with the dream job of talking about classic movies as I get to do on TCM. Something else which constantly reminds me of how lucky I am is the 40-year friendship I’ve had with TCM’s Star of the month for this July, Olivia de Havilland.

[…]

imageWe’ll be sharing many of Olivia’s stories with you on Friday nights this month as we also celebrate a great landmark birthday for her–her 100th. It is her birthday but we’re the ones who get the presents. Every Friday we’ll be toasting Olivia, showing 39 de Havilland films in all, including all the biggies such as To Each His Own(1946, Oscar® #1), The Snake Pit, (1948, Oscar® nomination #3), The Heiress (Oscar® #2) and several which are lesser known, such as when she played France’s Queen Mother in the era of the Three Musketeers in the rarely shown The 5th Musketeer (1979) with Rex Harrison, Jose Ferrer and Cornel Wilde. And just for the fun of it, you can see 1939’s Wings of the Navy and decide if you agree with Olivia’s assessment of it.

Through the years, in addition to all the many assets that are such an integral part of her, she’s also proven to be someone who always makes good on promises. The night she celebrated her 80th birthday in Paris in 1996, Olivia told me she’d just made a vow to live to be 100. And she’s done it. During a more recent phone chat, she said, “I’ve changed my goal. I’ve decided I want to live to be at least 110.” That’s the best birthday present this amazing woman from Hollywood’s golden era could give us. I have no doubt she’ll make it. Bravo, Olivia!

by Robert Osborne

 

This month on TCM they are celebrating Olivia’s birthday  by featuring her as the star of the month with her films: Olivia de Havilland – Fridays in July

Movie Line-Up

You know I will be taping many of these…especially The Heiress and Hold Back the Dawn!

 

Anyway, that is my post for the day, have a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

image


Wednesday Reads: Appearance is everything

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Abortion Ruling: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Ah, good afternoon!

It has been a while since we took a look at the offerings of political cartoonist, so I thought today would be a good day for that…and in all honesty, there is another reason, things have been moving quickly with my parent’s closing (it is now pushed to the 6th) so there is plenty to do. (But it is a good plenty…)

First I will start with this video from UNICEF, posted on Huffington Post Facebook page,

 

Some of you may have seen this…if you haven’t please take the few minutes to watch it in full.

If you cannot see the embedded video, here is a link to the page:  The Huffington Post

Those fuckers made that little girl cry.

Many of the cartoons today mention the ruling regarding SCOTUS smackdown of Texas Anti-abortion law HB-2. In relation to this, Vox has an article: It could take years for Texas abortion clinics to reopen, even after a Supreme Court victory – Vox

Pro-choice advocates won a huge victory on Monday when the Supreme Court struck down two major anti-abortion laws in Texas inWhole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Those laws, part of an omnibus anti-abortion bill called HB 2, were responsible for closing about half of all abortion clinics in Texas.

Before HB 2 passed in 2013, Texas had 41 open clinics. Today there are 19. If the Court had ruled to uphold the restrictions, that number would have shrunk to nine. So it’s no surprise that lead plaintiff Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO and founder of Whole Woman’s Health, said she was “beyond elated” by the ruling.

But, Hagstrom Miller said in a recent interview with Vox, a victory at the Supreme Court is really just the beginning for abortion providers in Texas. Not only are other restrictions, like a 20-week abortion ban and limits on medication abortion, still in place in Texas but HB 2 has also done lasting damage to abortion access that could take years to repair, if it can be repaired at all.

It turns out, according to the Vox report…

The closed clinics can’t just reopen overnight, and some might never reopen

Well, I realized that they would not reopen with a snap of the fingers, but that some may never reopen, that just is salt in wounds.

Then there was this, from the NY Times: Abortion Ruling Could Create Waves of Legal Challenges – The New York Times

From Texas to Alabama to Wisconsin, more than a dozen Republican-run states in recent years have passed laws requiring that abortion clinics have hospital-grade facilities or use doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Now, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling — that those provisions in a Texas law do not protect women’s health and place an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion — will quickly reverberate across the country.

It will prevent the threatened shutdown of clinics in some states, especially in the Deep South, that have been operating in a legal limbo, with Texas-style laws on temporary hold. But legal experts said the effect over time was likely to be wider, potentially giving momentum to dozens of legal challenges, including to laws that restrict abortions with medication or ban certain surgical methods.

“The ruling deals a crushing blow to this most recent wave of state efforts to shut off access to abortion through hyper-regulation,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School.

Adopting stringent regulations on abortion clinics and doctors that are said to be about protecting women’s health has been one of the anti-abortion movement’s most successful efforts, imposing large expenses on some clinics, forcing others to close and making it harder for women in some regions to obtain abortions. Republicans like Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who deplored Monday’s ruling, argued that they were requiring clinics to “be held to the same standards as other medical facilities.”

Now, the court has ruled that any such requirements must be based on convincing medical evidence that the rules are solving a real health issue to be weighed by a court, not by ideologically driven legislators — and that the benefits must outweigh the burdens imposed on women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

Take a look at that article, because it highlights a few states that currently have abortion laws going into effect on July 1st…which could now be seen in a different light since the Monday ruling.

One more link before the cartoons…I just think this is funny: Why Do Monkeys Become More Selective With Friends As They Age, Just Like Humans? : SCIENCE : Tech Times

Scientists from the German Primate Center wanted to know how age affected the behavior of more than 100 Barbary macaques kept in an enclosure in a park in France.

They investigated how the monkeys – whose ages ranged from 4 to 29 years (equivalent to 105 human years) – reacted to physical objects such as novel toys and tubes with food, social interactions such as fighting and grooming “friends” and new social information, such as calls and photos of “friends” and “strangers.”

Researchers discovered that the interest of Barbary macaques in toys wane when they become adults. At around 20 or the retirement age of monkeys, these animals approached fewer monkeys and had less social contact.

What surprised scientists is that this obvious withdrawal was not prompted by a social affinity to avoid old monkeys. Younger ones still groomed and approached their elders.

It also wasn’t because older monkeys were not interested in anything at all. Scientists found that older monkeys still hissed to others during fights and still responded to photos of others.

These older monkeys are still attuned to what is going on around them, but they do not want to participate, says Julia Fischer, one of the researchers of the study.

They hissed? Could this be a monkey’s way of saying, get off my lawn?

The dominant psychological theory that could explain why this behavior happens in humans is that they want to maximize the time they have left with death on the horizon.

Fischer says although monkeys have excellent memories, there is no evidence that they are self-aware about their impending deaths. So if both monkeys and humans act this way as they age, the theory may be rationalizing a natural behavior with biological roots, she says.

Alexandra Freund, Fischer’s co-researcher, says the findings of the study clearly tell us that we are not distinctive in how we grow into old age.

“There might be an evolutionary ‘deep’ root in this pattern,” says Freund.

There is a bit more at the link, along with some other sources and connections to the published study.

And now the funnies…

Starting with Luckovich…06/17 Mike Luckovich: Losing letters. | Mike Luckovich

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From June, published around the 17th.

From June, published around the 17th.

 

06/22 Mike Luckovich:Hair today… | Mike Luckovich

lk062216_color

 

Signe Wilkinson: Abortion Clinic – Truthdig

Clay Bennett: Brexit Lifeboat – Clay Bennett – Truthdig

Jeff Danziger: Another Benefit of Brexit – Jeff Danziger – Truthdig

Jeff Danziger: Brexit Racism – Jeff Danziger – Truthdig

From Cagle Cartoons, click to see the toon:

Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

This is a good one: Brexit

Brexit ….a different one, but the same name.

Brexit Washup

Brexit …another one with the same name, but different, and damn good.

Brexit regret

And the rest from the AAEC:

George Will splits from GOP: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - George Will splits from GOP

06/28/2016 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

Brexit and Trump: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Steve Greenberg

Cartoon by Steve Greenberg - Brexit and Trump

Undue Burden: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Undue Burden

GOP Sit-In: 06/24/2016 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - GOP Sit-In

Great Britain Great Again: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by A.F.Branco

Cartoon by A.F.Branco - Great Britain Great Again

The above cartoon is from a right wing cartoonist btw….so that is not a sarcastic cartoon. It is in fact a glorification. To see more from this cartoonist…cough, cough: AAEC — Political Cartoons by A.F.Branco Because I will not put up a sample of his other shit. (Now, I bet that gives ya the creeps. As it gave me…at least check this one out: Eye To Eye: 06/26/2016 Cartoon by A.F.Branco)

The Bowtie Rebellion: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - The Bowtie Rebellion

SUPREME COURT v TEXAS ABORTION LAWS: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - SUPREME COURT v TEXAS ABORTION LAWS

John Lewis sit-in: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - John Lewis sit-in

Brexit: 06/28/2016 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Brexit

Smoking gun: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Smoking gun

Pulse shooting: 06/15/2016 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Pulse shooting

That is an older cartoon, but I thought it was a good one and should be included.

06/28/2016 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

06/23/2016 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

06/13/2016 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

American Community: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by Angelo Lopez

Cartoon by Angelo Lopez - American Community

06/29/2016 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

06/27/2016 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

06/29/2016 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

06/29/2016 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

Pat Summitt Tribute: 06/29/2016 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Pat Summitt Tribute

This is an open thread…


Lazy Saturday Reads

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Good Afternoon!!

I’m having a little difficulty focusing on serious stuff like “the news” today. I’d love to just keep escaping into mystery/crime novels. So if this post is disjointed and basically a link dum, that’s the reason. Here are some of the stories that have caught my eye so far.

Ed Kilgore at New York Magazine: Tim Kaine and the Evolution of Pro-Choice Politics.

The Great Mentioner of the collective news media is beginning to dwell on Hillary Clinton’s options for a running mate. And a name we are all hearing more and more is that of Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Indeed,Politico is now placing him at the top of Clinton’s list, even suggesting he “towers” above all others. So of course he’s going to get extra public scrutiny.

When that happens, people are going to realize there’s more to Kaine than his Beltway persona of a “safe” centrist Democrat who was vetted by Obama eight years ago and is from a key swing state.  He’s fluent in Spanish, having spent a year as a Jesuit missionary in Honduras before he decamped to Harvard Law School. He was a career civil-rights lawyer specializing in housing discrimination before entering politics. He’s been mayor of a reasonably large city, Richmond, in addition to being lieutenant governor under Mark Warner and then Warner’s successor as governor. And as a former DNC chair, he knows all about the party’s factions and allies and how to deal with them.

20130203-lazy-kitten_thumb

All well and good, but . . .

An article this week in The Hill calls abortion policy Kaine’s one big “weakness.” Like many observant Catholic Democrats over the years, Kaine’s mantra on reproductive rights is that while he’s “personally opposed” to abortion, he’s largely inclined to keep the law out of women’s reproductive decisions. Yes, he’s favored parental-notification laws, but has carefully insisted on ensuring young women in danger of parental pressure to carry a pregnancy to term will have a judicial workaround. Yes, he’s favored bans on so-called “partial-birth abortions,” but only with exceptions where the health of the mother is at risk, which separates him from the entire anti-abortion movement, which uniformly hates health exceptions. He has a 100 percent rating of his votes in the Senate from Planned Parenthood. His policy positions on abortion may not be ideal to reproductive-rights advocates, but they are acceptable, particularly if the top spot on the ticket is occupied by an old friend like Hillary Clinton….

Does his personal moral assessment of abortion matter so long as he’s sound on abortion policy? And even if reproductive-rights advocates don’t approve of Kaine’s formulation, is he a representative of a whole lot of otherwise pro-choice voters who don’t or won’t approve of abortion “personally” no matter how logical that might be? Could Kaine’s stance actually become a strength if the ticket spans those adopting the traditional formula along with those embracing the rapidly emerging positive attitude toward abortion itself?

Read more at the link.

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The Economist on Brexit: A tragic split: How to minimise the damage of Britain’s senseless, self-inflicted blow.

HOW quickly the unthinkable became the irreversible. A year ago few people imagined that the legions of Britons who love to whinge about the European Union—silly regulations, bloated budgets and pompous bureaucrats—would actually vote to leave the club of countries that buy nearly half of Britain’s exports. Yet, by the early hours of June 24th, it was clear that voters had ignored the warnings of economists, allies and their own government and, after more than four decades in the EU, were about to step boldly into the unknown.

The tumbling of the pound to 30-year lows offered a taste of what is to come. As confidence plunges, Britain may well dip into recession. A permanently less vibrant economy means fewer jobs, lower tax receipts and, eventually, extra austerity. The result will also shake a fragile world economy. Scots, most of whom voted to Remain, may now be keener to break free of the United Kingdom, as they nearly did in 2014. Across the Channel, Eurosceptics such as the French National Front will see Britain’s flounce-out as encouragement. The EU, an institution that has helped keep the peace in Europe for half a century, has suffered a grievous blow.

Managing the aftermath, which saw the country split by age, class and geography, will need political dexterity in the short run; in the long run it may require a redrawing of traditional political battle-lines and even subnational boundaries. There will be a long period of harmful uncertainty. Nobody knows when Britain will leave the EU or on what terms. But amid Brexiteers’ jubilation and Remain’s recriminations, two questions stand out: what does the vote mean for Britain and Europe? And what comes next?

Read about The Economist’s editorial viewpoint in detail at the link.

KITTENS

The Washington Post: Top E.U. diplomats hold crisis talks on British exit.

Meeting in Berlin, the top diplomats of Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg collectively called for fast follow-through on the stunning British decision, putting pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron, who has sought a slower pace of extraction.

On Friday, Cameron said he would step down after several months but has not immediately sought to trigger the European Union’s Article 50, which would set up a two-year negotiating period ending with withdrawal. Cameron indicated that he would leave the exit decisions to his successor.

But the top diplomats meeting Saturday suggested the European Union was not prepared to wait for domestic politics to play out in Britain, suggesting that Cameron would face intense pressure on Tuesday during a summit in Brussels of 28 national leaders and European officials.

“We start now,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters. “We must be clear. The British people have decided after an initiative that was taken by Mr. Cameron. That was, is his responsibly.”

That makes sense. If the Brits want to take their ball and go home, why should they wait around to watch the game instead?

Apparently the referendum isn’t binding and could be reversed by Parliament. At least, I saw this on Twitter this morning:

PennLive: Most DNC money for Philly convention going to businesses owned by women and minorities.

The Democratic National Committee has already awarded contracts for merchandising, construction, transportation and event production for the four-day event on July 25-28.

Of the $150 million already spent by the committee, most of the money has gone to local businesses owned by women and minorities.

For example, an African-American-owned transportation company will provide buses and shuttles during the convention, according to The Atlantic.

Another African-American-owned business was hired to print business cards for the event, the magazine reported.

Leap Starr, owned by Liz Jenkins Santana, won the contract to plan PoliticalFest.

Jenkins Santana, who identifies as Native-American, African-American and Caucasian, said the contract is a big win for a small business and the largest Leap Starr has received for a one-time event, The Atlantic reported….

Census data shows nearly half – 47 percent – of Philadelphia businesses are owned by ethnic minorities, and it’s important the 50,000 DNC visitors see that reflected at the convention, according to Tiffany Newmuis, director of diversity and community engagement for the Philadelphia DNC 2016 Host Committee.

“We want people to leave here having seen what Philadelphia is really like,” she told The Atlantic.

She was hired specifically for diversity outreach and to make sure local businesses knew how to cash in on the convention…

Pictures-of-kittens-cute-sleeping-poses-03

I don’t suppose that will impress Bernie and the bros since it doesn’t involve helping white middle-class young people. Bernie is still complaining about the platform even though his ideas have mostly been included.

Business Insider: Democrats just approved a draft of their party platform, and Bernie Sanders’ influence is clear.

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Democrats approved a draft of the party platform early Saturday that includes steps to break up large Wall Street banks, advocates for a $15 an hour wage and urges the abolition of the death penalty, reflecting the influence of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Supporters of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton defeated measures pushed by Sanders’ allies that would have promoted a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system, a carbon tax to address climate change and impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracking.

Deliberating late into the evening, the group considered the document’s language on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, an issue that has divided Democrats. The committee defeated an amendment led by Zogby that would have called for providing Palestinians with “an end to occupation and illegal settlements” and urged an international effort to rebuild Gaza.

Zogby said Sanders had helped craft the language. The draft reflects Clinton’s views and advocates working toward a “two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict” that guarantees Israel’s security with recognized borders “and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”

The committee also adopted language that said it supports a variety of ways to prevent banks from gambling with taxpayers’ bank deposits, “including an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall.” ….

And it approved language calling for the abolition of the death penalty. Clinton said during a debate earlier this year that it should only be used in limited cases involving “heinous crimes,” while Sanders said the government should not use capital punishment.

Here’s Bernie’s reaction:

Nothing is ever good enough for this man. He simply doesn’t believe in compromise, and I’m convinced that he thinks a woman can never be his equal.

cats-on-dog

Page Six on CNN’s shocking decision to pay Donald Trump’s “former” campaign manager $500,000 to appear on air as a political commentator: CNN Staff revolts over Corey Lewandowski hire.

Sources told Page Six on Friday that CNN’s “facing a near internal revolt” over Jeff Zucker’s hiring of Lewandowski as an exclusive commentator for the news network days after he was fired as Donald Trump’s campaign manager.

“CNN is facing a near internal revolt over the Corey hiring,” said a TV insider, who described many in the newsroom as “livid.” “Female reporters and producers especially . . . They are organizing and considering publicly demanding” that Lewandowski be let go.

The Post reported on Monday that the Donald’s daughter Ivanka gave her dad an ultimatum to cut Corey loose after she was distressed by news he’d grabbed reporter Michelle Fields by the arm at a Florida event, and by a Page Six report that he recently got into a shouting match on a Midtown street with campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks.

A different source said, “Everyone at CNN — and even people who used to work there — are pissed about Trump’s former campaign manager being hired on salary.”At CNN, the hiring of the former Trump campaign manager on Thursday didn’t only alienate women on staff. A source further said that “Latinos and others in the newsroom feel betrayed by an homage to Trump,” so “they may do a public letter” objecting to the move.

I hope there’s enough interesting stuff here to get you going. Have a terrific weekend!


Thursday Reads: Preventing a Trump Presidency

Henri Matisse, Girl with a black cat

Henri Matisse, Girl with a black cat

Good Morning!!

President Obama spoke at a press conference today in Japan, and he talked about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

NBC News: Obama: Trump Candidacy Has ‘Rattled’ World Leaders.

During a press conference in Japan, Obama said the American presidential election is being “very” closely watched oversees. He told reporters that “it’s fair to say” world leaders are “surprised” Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee.

“They are not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements but they’re rattled by him — and for good reason, because a lot of the proposals that he’s made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude,” Obama added.

He suggested Trump’s controversial proposals were more about “getting tweets and headlines” than “actually thinking through” what’s needed to keep America safe or the “world on an even keel.”

Woman with a Cat c.1880 Edouard Manet

Woman with a Cat c.1880 Edouard Manet

Trump has made China a frequent target of his attacks — such as saying the country will “suck the blood” out of the U.S.

He also has said he wants to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., called the Iran deal “horrendous,” pledged to “build a wall” along the Mexican border and that he’d have “no problem speaking to” North Korea’s dictator.

Such a conversation would mark a major shift in U.S. policy towards Pyongyang — a country Obama earlier Thursday said was a “big worry.”  ….

Trump also said he was unlikely to have a “very good relationship” with the U.K. — one of America’s strongest allies — though later walked those comments back.

Obama will visit the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial tomorrow.

President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima is stirring conflicting emotions on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some 140,000 people were killed when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city on Aug. 6, 1945. Countless others suffered after-effects that endure to this day.

The White House has stressed Obama will not apologize for America’s use of the bombs when he visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Friday — the first sitting president to do so….

“Of course everyone wants to hear an apology. Our families were killed,” Hiroshi Shimizu, general secretary of the Hiroshima Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, told The Associated Press.

Woman with a cat, Auguste Renoir

Woman with a cat, Auguste Renoir

However, it would risk alienating Americans back home — especially giving the trip’s timing just ahead of Memorial Day.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Lester Tenney, 95, spent more than three years in Japanese prison camps, and still has the blood-stained, bamboo stick Japanese troops used to beat him across the face.

“If you didn’t walk fast enough, you were killed. If you didn’t say the right words, you were killed, and if you were killed, you were either shot to death, bayoneted, or decapitated,” he told The Associated Press. “I’ll never forget it. And so for that reason … there’s no reason for us to apologize to them, not any reason whatsoever.

I have mixed emotions too. I’ve written here before that I probably wouldn’t be here today if Truman had not dropped the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My father was on a ship to Japan when the news came, and he and the rest of his companions celebrated, because it meant they would be going home instead of to their likely deaths. How can I not be glad that my father survived?

When I worked at M.I.T., the head of my department was a man who had survived the Bataan Death March and then spent years in a Japanese prison camp. He was lucky to come through that alive; hundreds of Americans and Filipino prisoners did not.

Pablo Picasso, Reclining female nude playing with a cat

Pablo Picasso, Reclining female nude playing with a cat

From the LA Times: Obama can’t endorse during the Democratic primary, so he’s just pointing out how hard the job is instead.

…Obama’s week abroad not so subtly serves a purpose beyond foreign relations: how he can help Democrats’ looming campaign against the billionaire GOP presidential candidate.

Pledging to stay neutral in the Democratic primary, Obama has instead struck a middle ground to help the party’s likely nominee, Hillary Clinton. He has engaged in a twist on the so-called Rose Garden campaign strategy where incumbent presidents lean on the trappings of their office to remind voters of their power and achievements. Obama is instead reminding voters of the seriousness of the job and, by extension, his belief in Clinton’s readiness for it.

On Friday, this president who has repeatedly pointed to the heady challenges on his desk as an argument against making a former reality show star the next commander in chief travels to Hiroshima, where one of two nuclear bombs ever used in warfare was dropped, to underscore the horrors of war and the life-or-death decisions that presidents face.

He doesn’t plan to talk about presidential politics at all in proximity to his trip to a memorial for victims of the atomic blast that killed about 140,000 people, a grim reminder of the devastating impact of a military attack that Obama finds defensible.

But the trip nonetheless provides a vivid illustration for the question Obama wants voters to ask themselves as they consider a presidential candidate — can you trust this person with the nuclear codes?

“We are in serious times, and this is a really serious job,” Obama said from behind the seal of the president at the White House lectern this month. “This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show.”

White House officials say that the president is eager to begin making a case to voters about the stakes of the race to replace him in the Oval Office, and will do so vigorously once the primaries are over.

Lilla Cabot Perry, Woman with cat

Lilla Cabot Perry, Woman with cat

I can’t wait until President Obama hits the campaign trail for Hillary! One thing we Democrats have over the Republicans is some very powerful surrogates who will work hard to hold onto the White House and save the country from Trump: Elizabeth Warren, John Lewis, Joe Biden, Elijah Cummings, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and so many more.

Warren has been getting under Trump’s skin for awhile now, and on Tuesday she attacked him in a high-profile speech.

Greg Sargent: Elizabeth Warren just absolutely shredded Donald Trump. There’s a lot more like this to come.

Elizabeth Warren delivered an extensive, blistering speech last night about Trump that will serve as a template for how Democrats will attack him — both in terms of how they’ll prosecute his business past and how they’ll try to undercut his central arguments about the economy….

The line that is driving all the attention this morning is Warren’s suggestion, in the context of Trump’s 2006 comment that a housing crash might enrich him, that the Donald is a “small, insecure money-grubber.” But Warren isn’t merely dissing Trump’s manhood. Warren — who went on to note that Trump “roots for people to get thrown out of their house” because he “doesn’t care who gets hurt, as long as he makes a profit” — is making a broader argument. Trump is not just a small, greedy person, but a cruel one, too.

That theme is also threaded through Warren’s broadside against Trump on taxes. He isn’t just paying as little as possible — and openly boasting about it — because he’s greedy. He isn’t just refusing to release his returns because he doesn’t want to reveal he’s not as rich as he claims (another shot at Trump’s self-inflated masculinity). All this, Warren suggests, also reflects a larger moral failing: Trump plays by his own set of rules, engorging himself, while simultaneously heaping explicit scorn on social investments designed to help those who are struggling in the same economy that made him rich. Warren notes that Trump recently likened paying his taxes to “throwing money down the drain” — i.e., he is reneging on the social contract — after “inheriting a fortune from his father” and “keeping it going by scamming people.” Thus, Warren is making a broader argument about Trump’s fundamental cruelty.

Here’s a video:

 

It’s time for the media to stop helping Trump and start dealing with the danger he poses to the country. If nothing else, they should be motivated by his attacks on the reporters who cover his campaign and on the the First Amendment. A few days ago, Jake Tapper gave a clinic for journalists on how to handle Trump’s outrageous lies.

Raw Story: Jake Tapper hammers Trump’s Vince Foster murder conspiracy mongering as ‘fiction born of delusion.’

CNN host Jake Tapper laid into GOP candidate Donald Trump for dredging up a debunked conspiracy theory that his likely opponent in the general election, Hillary Clinton, was somehow responsible for the death of then-Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster.

Foster’s 1993 death was ruled a suicide.

Tapper called Trump out for saying in an interview that the circumstances around Foster’s death were “very fishy,” adding, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

“Except of course you just did that, Mr. Trump,” Tapper said. “But you’re right, it’s not fair that you did that, certainly not to Mr. Foster’s widow or their three children.”

Watch the video:

 

We need much more of this kind of fact-checking of Trump from the media and a whole lot less obsessing about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Another good treatment of Trump from CNN: Donald Trump has a woman problem — 3 of them.

The presumptive Republican nominee spent the past 24 hours blasting his likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, and his most provocative antagonist, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
But he didn’t stop there. He also slammed New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the nation’s only Latina governor and a Republican. Martinez might be seen as an obvious choice for diplomacy, or even intensive courtship, given Trump’s standing among women and Hispanics.
Trump chose a different approach: He told the residents of New Mexico to get rid of her.
In all three cases, the clashes were classic Trump. Slight him, diss him, hit him — and he’ll hit back harder. Much harder.
But they also could play right into Democrats’ plans to brand Trump as a serial misogynist as he goes up against a rival who could become the first female president in history. His poor standing with women — a CNN/ORC poll in March found he was viewed unfavorably by 73% of registered female voters — is one of his biggest liabilities heading into the fall.
“He makes a habit of insulting women,” Clinton said Wednesday afternoon as a campaign stop in California. “He seems to have something about women.”

Let’s hope Don the Con keeps this up. If Republican women vote against Trump, he could lose all 50 states.

Giovanni Boldini, Woman with cat

Giovanni Boldini, Woman with cat

Finally, folks in Cleveland are getting nervous about the upcoming Trump convention: “Will Cleveland’s GOP convention be a mistake by the lake or a moment in the sun?”

Amid recurring violence at political rallies held by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, many local officials and activists are increasingly worried that this lakeside city is ill-prepared to deal with tens of thousands of protesters and agitators expected to descend on the Republican National Convention here in July.

Some worry that police might be overrun or that the city has not stockpiled enough water to hydrate the masses in the mid-summer heat. Others, particularly on the left, oppose new restrictions that will be placed on demonstrators and object to the kind of military-style equipment law enforcement authorities may use to control the crowds.

There is also unhappiness among groups on both sides over the slow progress the city has made in approving parade and demonstration permits with less than two months to go.

On Wednesday, under the threat of a federal lawsuit by some groups upset by delays, city officials finally unveiled an official parade route and speakers’ platform in a major downtown park. Parades and protests will be allowed, but plans by some groups to bring in trucks, horses and, in one case, a giant bomb-shaped balloon might need to be rethought.

A bomb-shaped balloon?! So classy.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!


Wednesday Reads

Good Afternoon!10252013_GOP_Elephant_Drinking

Well, I’m holding down the fort today!   Both BB and JJ are off surfing samsara which is my little way of saying they’re dealing with a series of life’s little unpleasantness.  That seems to be the order of the day.  There’s a war on life’s pleasantries out there!  The majority of us are losing the fight.

So, I watched the Republican Townhall last night. One hour with each of them is an hour wasted in Bizarro.  Ted Cruz is a sociopath. He dodged all questions choosing to spin a series of anecdotes with no relation to the question asked by Anderson Cooper or the participants.  The fact he thought these anecdotes charming given his self congratulatory manner–when they definitely were not–says a lot about his inability to even fake being human for short periods of time. He’s positively reptilian. Donald Trump is walking, savage ID.  He has no conception of anything remotely related to the rest of the world that hasn’t been directly in his face and interests.  The sentence I bolded below pretty much sums the Trump exchange.

During a CNN town-hall forum Tuesday night, Donald Trump reiterated the falsehood that Sen. Ted Cruz was responsible for spreading around an image of his wife Melania in a nude pose. “I thought it was a nice picture of Heidi,” Trump said of an image he retweeted clearly meant to make her look unattractive compared to his wife. “Come on,” Anderson Cooper responded. “I thought it was fine,” Trump insisted. Continuing to deny culpability, he said “I didn’t start it.” Cooper sensibly retorted, “That’s the argument of a 5-year-old.”

That sentence pretty much sums up the behavior of most of the politicians associated with the Republican Party who basically have not been doing their actual jobs for some time. They won’t examine or confirm SCOTUS nominees. They continually vote to get rid of the ACA when they know the bill will go no where. They are obsessed with Planned Parenthood based on outright lies. They deny the impact and causes of Climate Science. It’s the behavior of a 5-year-old that doesn’t get his way.

The unraveling of the Republican party is not good for this country.  Candidates like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are signs that something has gone supremely wrong.  Kasich appears to be the only sane one left unless you count Rubio who seems to be angling to hold on to his delegates in some weird hope that a brokered convention will anoint him. Both may be sane. Neither are presidential material. Rubio is dumb and Kasich wanders that ethereal wasteland between being pragmatic and preaching radical religious right sermons worthy of any common religious fanatic.

It is a full on war between the Republican Establishment and the white, working class base it has used as a foil to push through bad tax policy since the Pied Piper of Hollywood spun a tune to romance them into the Republican fold. Ronald Reagan’s dogwhistles and tales of a white utopia, a city on the hill, enticed them to vote Republican for a few decades. Dubya’s uncanny ability to sound homespun and create wars to appeal to their patriotic nature may have held them for awhile. But now they are unleashed with wide open eyes and a distaste of all things Romneyesque. The want real brutes. Karl Rove no longer can manipulate their lesser angels with empty promises and heads. They want the real deal.

If you listen to establishment gurus, you’d be led to believe that the Republican primary voter revolt was birthed by the governance of President Obama, creating fertile ground for the emergence of one Donald Trump. This fairy tale version of reality casts Trump as the villain who has swept in to capitalize on voter frustration with Obama’s alleged weakness, lawlessness and rampant liberalism.

The villain must be stopped or the Republican Party will be destroyed. Or so we are told.

The old saw that you have to first acknowledge that you have a problem to solve the problem applies here. What the GOP “leaders” refuse to accept is that Trump is not the problem. They are.

The dissatisfaction among a large cohort of GOP voters is directly attributable to their unhappiness with a party that they believe does not represent their interests. In exit polls, high percentages of GOP voters registered displeasure with their leadership. In Tennessee, 58% of Republican voters said they felt “betrayed” by their leaders, as did 47% in New Hampshire52% in South Carolina and 54% in Ohio.

Those who feel betrayed have been most likely to vote for Trump. Trump has been a particular draw to white working-class voters who feel left behind economically. Such voters have been treated with dismissal and outright contempt by the GOP establishment even as this group has become more critical to Republican success. Pew reported in 2012 that “lower-income and less educated whites … have shifted substantially toward the Republican Party since 2008.”

In other words, their peasants are revolting. Given this, how can the party’s elite make their way through a brokered convention when the party itself is so positively unmoored?  Its main policy goal is tax avoidance for the very wealthy.  After that’s accomplished, they throw bits and pieces of radical religious bills at the wall to see what will stick while railing against minorities, women, and immigrants.

The modern Republican Party has devolved into a tax avoidance scam for rich people. The scam is a masterpiece of psychological manipulation, in which the racial, cultural and economic anxieties of (mostly white) voters are exploited, in order to get those voters to support policies that transfer ever-greater percentages of wealth from themselves to the top 0.1 percent.

 It really isn’t any more complicated than that. Everything else – the “culture wars,” the continual hysteria about terrorism, the non-stop rhetoric about how the mainstream media, the universities, the scientists, and basically the rest of the modern world are all biased against conservatives – it’s all just so much noise, designed to solve the tricky problem of how to get ordinary people to support economic policies that make them poorer and rich people richer.

You couldn’t come up with a better illustration of this principle than the ongoing GOP campaign to eliminate the estate tax. Last year the House voted to get rid of it, and a majority of Republican senators have pledged to do the same.

The Republican propaganda machine has waged a multi-decade war against the estate tax, which it has rebranded the “death tax.” Because of these efforts, the tax has been watered down to the point where, under current law, only a tiny group of wealthy people will ever pay any estate taxes at all.

But of course that isn’t enough, since it means that some taxes still have to be paid on truly enormous inheritances, and protecting the economic interests of people who have a net worth in the eight, nine, 10 or 11 figures is the contemporary GOP’s entire reason for being.

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

The emergence of Trump as a leading Republican candidate is something found incredulous by enabling media types who have been equivocating between Democrats and Republicans for some time.  They’ve refused to hold any one accountable for outright lies.

One of the most amazing things to see is the panic in our allies as major Republican candidates want to dump NATO, dally with war crimes and nuclear weapons, and ignore treaties and trade agreements. That’s how equivocal Republicans and Democrats really are from the view here on USA Main Street.  The one thing that’s been fairly consistent in American governance is the respect for pre-existing foreign agreements and diplomacy.  Each President–even while holding different visions of the country–basically finds value in remaining on a stable and predictable path in foreign affairs.  The Republican historical area of expertise used to be foreign policy until now.

trump-elephant-cartoon

Lobbyists in Washington say they are being flooded with questions and concerns from foreign governments about the rise of Donald Trump.Officials around the globe are closely following the U.S. presidential race, to the point where some have asked their American lobbyists to explain, in great detail, what a contested GOP convention would look like. There is nothing conservative about Trump or the Republican party these days other than their tax avoidance schemes.  They are a party of insurgents and radicals hellbent on an agenda to turn back modernity.

The questions about Trump are “almost all-consuming,” said Richard Mintz, the managing director of Washington-based firm The Harbour Group, whose client list includes the governments of Georgia and the United Arab Emirates.

After a recent trip to London, Abu Dhabi and Beijing, “it’s fair to say that all anyone wants to talk about is the U.S. presidential election,” Mintz added. “People are confused and perplexed.”

The Hill conducted interviews with more than a half-dozen lobbyists, many of whom said they are grappling with how to explain Trump and his unusual foreign policy views to clients who have a lot riding on their relationship with the United States.

“We’re in uncharted territory here,” said one lobbyist with foreign government clients who asked not to be identified.

“The questions coming from the international community are not different than the things, categorically, we’re asking ourselves,” said Nathan Daschle, the president and chief operating officer of the Daschle Group, a firm run by his father, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).

“There’s an added level of bafflement because this is not the United States that they’ve been living with for so long,” Daschle said. “This is not the image the United States has been projecting.”

The questions about Trump often concern his foreign policy positions.

The businessman has boasted about keeping his options open on many crucial foreign policy questions, including on trade, troop-sharing agreements and the U.S. posture toward China.

“I don’t want to say what I’d do because, again, we need unpredictability,” Trump told The New York Times in an interview published over the weekend.

A second lobbyist who represents countries in Latin America, Asia and the Muslim world said answers like that have made Trump a “wild card” for leaders around the world.

“Nobody knows whether he believes anything of what he says because he’s changed his position so many times,” the lobbyist said.

Some of Trump’s comments — especially about Mexico, Muslims and trade with countries such as Japan and China — have also angered foreign leaders.

A third lobbyist for governments in Asia said part of his job has been telling countries how to react to some of Trump’s controversial remarks.

“If you come out and blast Donald Trump — for the people who are going to vote for Donald Trump, that could make them like him more,” the lobbyist, who also represents foreign companies with a large presence in the U.S., said he has told foreign leaders.

090415coletoonBut it’s not just Trump making these comments.  Cruz has suggested we carpet bomb all areas around ISIS including areas containing huge numbers of civilians leading our military leaders to suggest that they’ve trained their soldiers to disobey illegal and unconstitutional orders.  Kasich discussed redefining NATO in the debate last night.  There is nothing moderate or rational about any of these men.  But, how out of line are these outrageous views with Americans?  Polls still find that Americans approve of torture even though it violates our nation’s commitment to the Geneva Convention.  Chances are that this poll reflects a huge number resident in the Republican base.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe torture can be justified to extract information from suspected terrorists, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, a level of support similar to that seen in countries like Nigeria where militant attacks are common.

The poll reflects a U.S. public on edge after the massacre of 14 people in San Bernardino in December and large-scale attacks in Europe in recent months, including a bombing claimed by the militant group Islamic State last week that killed at least 32 people in Belgium.

Donald Trump, the front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, has forcefully injected the issue of whether terrorism suspects should be tortured into the election campaign.

This can only be the result of years of letting our political discourse sink to bottom feeder levels through vehicles like Fox News, right wing radio and blogs, and astroturf organizations like the Tea Party.  Former SOS Clinton indicated earlier this month that she was receiving tweets from World Leaders offering any help they can to her in the effort to defeat Trump in the general.  Its hard to imagine Trump, Cruz or Kasich receiving tweets from any one on that level even as one of them caroms towards their party’s nomination.

Hillary Clinton  says foreign leaders are privately reaching out to her to ask if they can endorse her to stop Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States.

“I am already receiving messages from leaders,” Clinton told an Ohio audience at a Democratic presidential town hall on Sunday night.

“I’m having foreign leaders ask if they can endorse me to stop Donald Trump.”

Trump has demonstrated virtually no knowledge of foreign policy.  How dangerous is his world view? 

He’s suggested using economic warfare to halt China’s territorial moves in the South China Sea and raised the prospect of a fundamental reconsideration of nuclear doctrine by musing about South Korea and Japan acquiring their own atomic arsenal. He says the U.S. should boycott Saudi Arabian oil if the kingdom doesn’t send ground troops to fight ISIS and believes NATO is an anachronism. And he warns he will renegotiate bedrock free trade deals, a prospect that could send serious reverberations through the global economy.

“It is rattling the windows of foreign ministries all over the world,” said CNN’s senior political analyst David Gergen, who has worked for a string of Democratic and Republican presidents.
Trump has gone to great lengths over the past week to explain his foreign policy views, which are often criticized as overly vague. He’s participated in extensive interviews with The Washington Post and The New York Times and delivered a speech — notable because it was carefully pre-written — to the leading pro-Israel group in Washington. He’ll have another opportunity to address foreign policy Tuesday night during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The interviews reveal Trump as someone who is just as willing to flout the foreign policy establishment as he is the GOP elite. His statements appear to fly in the face of the longstanding assumption underlying U.S. foreign policy — that supporting allies financially, diplomatically and militarily promotes a global system of unfettered free trade, democracy and stability that is overwhelmingly in the national interests of the United States.

Andrew J. Bacevich–writing for The Nation today–argues that Ted Cruz is worse and represents the degeneration of Republican Foreign lk012216dAPC_363_264Policy conservatism.

As the embodiment of this truculence, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, today finding favor among Republicans desperate to derail Donald Trump’s bid for the GOP nomination, stands alone. From the very outset of his candidacy, Cruz has depicted himself as the one genuinely principled conservative in the race. And in comparison to Trump, who is ideologically sui generis, Cruz does qualify as something of a conservative. When it comes to foreign policy, however, Cruz offers not principles but—like Trump himself—raw pugnacity.

Cruz has gone out of his way to deride the pretensions of democracy promoters, mocking “crazy neocon invade-every-country-on-earth” types wanting to “send our kids to die in the Middle East.” On the stump, Cruz advertises himself as Reagan’s one-and-only true heir. As such, he endorses “the clarity of Reagan’s four most important words: ‘We win, they lose.’” Upon closer examination, Cruz is actually advocating something quite different: “We win, they lose, then we walk away.”

The key to “winning” is to unleash American military might. “If I am elected president, we will utterly destroy ISIS,” Cruz vows. “We won’t weaken them. We won’t degrade them. We will utterly destroy them. We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion…. We will do everything necessary so that every militant on the face of the earth will know…if you wage jihad and declare war on America, you are signing your death warrant.”

Yet rather than Reaganesque, Cruz’s prescription for dealing with Islamist radicalism represents a throwback to bomb-them-back-to-the-Stone-Age precepts pioneered by Gen. Curtis LeMay and endorsed by the likes of Barry Goldwater back when obliteration was in fashion. The embryonic Cruz Doctrine offers an approximation of total war. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out!” he promises with evident enthusiasm.

Nowhere, however, does his outlook take into account costs, whether human, fiscal, or moral. Nor does it weigh the second-order consequences of, say, rendering large parts of Iraq and Syria a smoking ruin or of killing large numbers of noncombatants through campaigns of indiscriminate bombing. In essence, Cruz sees force as a way to circumvent history—a prospect that resonates with Americans annoyed by history’s stubborn complexities.

 Kasich is implying that he’s got the best creds for the job of commander in chief and America’s Top Diplomat.  He may have a better command of geography and history, but is his foreign policy any more sane?

Kasich has survived so far by keeping his head down and winning his home state of Ohio. But now that he is one of only three candidates remaining in the race, the former congressman and current Governor of Ohio will face the kind of media scrutiny that he has managed to avoid since he announced his candidacy. It will show that he is an outright mediocrity.

Kasich served on the House Armed Services Committee for eighteen years, where his strong beliefs on fiscal responsibility and budget cutting earned him the moniker of the “cheap hawk.” He accomplished next to nothing, apart from limiting the procurement of B-2 bombers.

During his long tenure in Congress, Kasich casted a number of votes on war-and-peace issues, voting for the Gulf War in 1991 but opposing Ronald Reagan’s decision in 1983 to send U.S. Marines to Lebanon for a peacekeeping mission. He reminds voters during town hall meetings and debates that the United States should get out of the business of nation-building and should stay far away from manufacturing democracies around the world. But he also floated the preposterous idea that the way to stop ISIS in its tracks is for the next president to create a new government agency to “beam messages around the globe” about the American credo of liberty.

At times, it is difficult to pinpoint what kind of foreign policy doctrine a potential President John Kasich would follow. He’s asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin has gotten away with far too much during the Obama administration, including his annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, his military and economic support to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, and his decision to send fighter jets into Syria to strengthen the defenses of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. “[I]t’s time that we punched the Russians in the nose,” Kasich told radio host Hugh Hewitt during a December presidential debate. “They’ve gotten away with too much in this world, and we need to stand up against them . . . in Eastern Europe where they threaten some of our most precious allies.”

On other issues, like the nuclear agreement with Iran, Kasich has oscillated between common sense (“You’re going to rip it up and then what?”), depressed resignation (“I’m sort of sick to my stomach about it because . . . Iran’s going to get a ton of money”) to defiant opposition (“if I were president, I would call them and say, I’m sorry, but we’re suspending this agreement”). With respect to the Islamic State, Kasich has emphasized coalition building with Arab allies similar to George H.W. Bush’s alliance building during the Persian Gulf War—a safe position that is just muscular enough to pass muster with Republican voters, but benign enough that it wouldn’t raise the eyebrows of realists who call the party home.

The looming question is whether John Kasich is hawkish enough for the GOP foreign policy establishment, a club that has been heavily influenced by neoconservative thinking for the past fifteen years.

At least “outright mediocrity” wont scare the children. It won’t scare ISIS either.ted-cruz-cartoon-sack

It’s been incredible to watch Bernie Sanders with his generalities and overreaching promises dodge serious foreign policies questions through out the Democratic Debates.  He tends to fall back on insisting that his vote against the Iran Resolution just says it all.  It doesn’t, however. His generalities fall way short of Clinton’s recall of names and her credentials as the nation’s chief foreign policy negotiator. I have to say that I learn a little bit more about the entire world each time she steps to the podium and takes a foreign policy question or makes a foreign policy speech.

Imagine what the debates and town halls in the general will look like when she takes on one of these candidates from the party in total disarray. My guess is that entire countries will be cheering for her.

I should close here but I’d like to share this with you so you can see that she will be our candidate for the fall despite the bleating and chest thumping of the cult of Bern. Here’s Nate Silver’s estimate of Bernie’s long shot path from today.  It is beyond improbable that he can get 988 more pledged delegates and romance the Super D’s. Yes, there is one more campaign out there in Bizarro and it’s not a Republican one.

If you’re a Sanders supporter, you might look at the map and see some states — Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Montana and so forth — that look pretty good for Sanders, a lot like the ones that gave Sanders landslide wins earlier in the campaign. But those states have relatively few delegates. Instead, about 65 percent of the remaining delegates are in California, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland — all states where Sanders trails Clinton in the polls and sometimes trails her by a lot.

To reach a pledged delegate majority, Sanders will have to win most of the delegates from those big states. A major loss in any of them could be fatal to his chances. He could afford to lose one or two of them narrowly, but then he’d need to make up ground elsewhere — he’d probably have to win California by double digits, for example.

Sanders will also need to gain ground on Clinton in a series of medium-sized states such as Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky and New Mexico. Demographics suggest that these states could be close, but close won’t be enough for Sanders. He’ll need to win several of them easily.

None of this is all that likely. Frankly, none of it is at all likely. If the remaining states vote based on the same demographic patterns established by the previous ones, Clinton will probably gain further ground on Sanders. If they vote as state-by-state polling suggests they will, Clinton could roughly double her current advantage over Sanders and wind up winning the nomination by 400 to 500 pledged delegates.

The nation and the world should breathe a collective sigh of relief when Clinton wins the nomination and the presidency.  The alternatives to Hillary are the stuff of national nightmares.  In fact, they would be a global nightmare and the majority of the US and the world knows it.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?