Wednesday Reads: So much shit…

This Administration and Republican Party has become an overwhelming… tRump-enema induced, massive blasted explosive shit…taken on American Democracy.   Yesterday Boston Boomer wrote about the Ice Cube/Big3 Basketball connection that has shed light on the Qatar/Flynn bribery and money laundering scheme that was sparked by tweets from Michael Avenatti.

Maddow put it together last night:

I don’t know about you, but being a visual person…I found her explanation easier to follow. At least I was not lost in words that make me dizzy and disgusted.

Here is something else to get physically ill over:

Oklahoma GOP candidate proposes euthanasia for disabled and poor to avoid food stamps

Republican gubernatorial candidate in Oklahoma proposed euthanasia for people on food stamps who are too disabled to work.

In a Facebook post made by a page purporting to be for OK governor candidate Christopher Barnett, the administrator initially posted a poll about food stamp requirements — and then made comments claiming euthanasia is a solution to the “issue” of the poor and disabled.

In a post made by Tulsa resident Lisa Schwart, screenshots of the thread from the Chrisforgov campaign page that shares a name with Barnett’s campaign websiterevealed the comments.

“Most receiving food stamps work, or are disabled,” a user commented on the poll post. “Some are elderly.”

“The ones who are disabled and can’t work…why are we required to keep them?” the Chrisforgov account responded. “Sorry but euthanasia is cheaper and doesn’t make everyone a slave to the Government [sic].”

Defending his now-deleted comments, the account admin mused as to why American taxpayers should “have to keep up people who cannot contribute to society any longer?”

“Obviously, I’m not saying the Government [sic] should put these people down,” the Chrisforgov account wrote, contradicting its earlier statement. “I’m just saying that we shouldn’t keep them up.”

“If they can take care of themselves without Government assistance, great,” the comment continued. “If not, let them starve and die. Easy as that.”

Though the comments have since been deleted, the account admin wrote that they “stand by” the remarks in the poll thread, and later that day wrote that the interaction had been “fun.”

Screen shots at the link.

Fox News has settled several lawsuits according to The Hollywood Reporter:

Fox Settles Workplace Claims From Nearly 20 Individuals | Hollywood Reporter

For the past couple of years, 21st Century Fox has been haunted by hostile workplace and gender and racial discrimination claims in the wake of reports alleging misbehavior by former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. The company has now reached a major settlement that could resolve nearly all — if not all — pending lawsuits on this front. Fox’s potential settlement is a bit unusual because the deal was negotiated with Douglas Wigdor, an attorney who represents plaintiffs across many different lawsuits. Not all of his clients were ready to drop their claims.

Among Wigdor’s cases against Fox is a discrimination suit in federal court from local TV reporter Lidia Curanaj, who accuses the company of fostering a “misogynistic culture” and alleges that she didn’t get a job at Fox News when she wouldn’t submit sexually to Ailes. The attorney is also representing more than a dozen women in New York state court on claims that Fox fosters a hostile environment for dark-skinned employees. In addition, there’s a lawsuit by political pundit Scottie Hughes, who says she was raped by a Fox Business host and that the company retaliated against her for complaining by blacklisting her.

There’s more, including a defamation suit by Rod Wheeler, who investigated the death of former DNC staffer Seth Rich, plus retaliation and discrimination claims from Fox News radio correspondents Jessica Golloher and Kathleen Lee.

Wigdor has become, as Bloomberg once put it, the Trump-loving lawyer who won’t stop suing Fox News.

But that could all be coming to an end.

Fox has reached a deal with Wigdor’s firm, which would technically be 19 individual settlements; the deal was signed today. But the overall financial package, arrived after the parties engaged in extensive mediation, is said to be far less than the $60 million that Wigdor reportedly demanded and Fox rejected last summer. Not all plaintiffs got money. One received nothing while others received little, but others received substantial compensation including contract buyouts. A source with knowledge of the agreement said it’s approximately 20 cases for closer to $10 million.

It seems to me that Fox News would have to deal with fines when it comes to discrimination lawsuits…I don’t know.

Tom Wolfe died on Monday:

Tom Wolfe, 1931–2018

Tom Wolfe died yesterday at age eighty-eight. Between 1965 and 1981, the dapper white-suited father of New Journalism chronicled, in pyrotechnic prose, everything from Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters to the first American astronauts. And then, having revolutionized journalism with his kaleidoscopic yet rigorous reportage, he decided it was time to write novels. As he said in his Art of Fiction interview, “Practically everyone my age who wanted to write somehow got the impression in college that there was only one thing to write, which was a novel and that if you went into journalism, this was only a cup of coffee on the road to the final triumph. At some point you would move into a shack—it was always a shack for some reason—and write a novel. This would be your real métier.”

Tom Wolfe Kept a Close, Comical and Astonished Eye on America – The New York Times

The bursts of asterisks, the scattering of exclamation points and ellipses, the syncopated distribution of repeated phrases and capitalized words — one could spot a Tom Wolfe sentence a room away. He seemed astonished by America, and he expressed that astonishment in sentences that zinged up and out like bottle rockets.

Wolfe, who died on Monday at 88, was a breaker of journalistic conventions at a time when American society was breaking many of its own, and his was a style other writers liked to imitate and parody. Kurt Vonnegut, in his review of “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby” (1965), Wolfe’s first book, wrote: “Holy animals! Sebaceous sleepers! Oxymorons and serpentae carminael! Tabescent! Infarcted! Stretchpants netherworld! Schlock!”

Vonnegut was on more solid ground when he considered whether the young Wolfe more resembled Mark Twain or an extra member of the Beatles. With his trademark white linen suits and two-tone shoes, Wolfe did later seem like a dandified figure from the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

Those are two of the most interesting Obits I could find.

On with the fucking cartoons:

05/16 Mike Luckovich: Welcome mat. | Mike Luckovich

05/15 Mike Luckovich: Bagman: | Mike Luckovich

Peace process: 05/15/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Peace process

Allies: 05/13/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Allies

Trump bomb: 05/15/2018 Cartoon by Ed Hall

Cartoon by Ed Hall - Trump bomb

05/15/2018 Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

05/09/2018 Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

Nick Anderson cartoon: 05/15/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

Nick Anderson cartoon: 05/10/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 05/12/2018 Cartoon by Clay BennettCartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Jerusalem Embassy: 05/15/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Jerusalem Embassy

Hostages: 05/13/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Hostages

Nuclear Deal: 05/10/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Nuclear Deal

Impeachment: 05/08/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Impeachment

Graduation: 05/15/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Graduation

New Lows: 05/14/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - New Lows

05/14/2018 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

05/13/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

05/10/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

This is an open thread.

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Sunday Reads: Happy Motherhood is a Pre-existing Condition Day!

Happy Mother’s Day….

Or as one person in the Twitterverse puts it:

 

(If you aren’t following @OhNoSheTwitnt you should…)

 

 

It is a strange Mother’s Day for me, I am not sure how to approach the day. My mom’s results from her latest CT scan were not good. The chemo treatment has not been working, there is new tumor and it looks like she has run out of options. So today, on this Mother’s Day, I am faced with the reality that eventually I will be spending a Mother’s Day without my Mama. I don’t want that. And this sense of eminent loss is so overwhelming, that my days are becoming a cycle of playbacks. When she is up, I want to watch a movie with her…whatever she wants to watch. I want to spend that time laughing at funny scenes, or enjoying a film that we both appreciate. It is the same thing daily, and believe me…we have seen some of these films many times, but I want to capture those feelings once more. I don’t want to lose them. That is what it comes down to this Mother’s Day. Grasping those hours so that I can recycle them later…it is all I can do.

So, with all that being said, the disasters of the day seem to pass by me…until I watch Maddow, then I am back into my mood where I am unable to focus on anything. Here are some news stories for you this morning, my commentary on them will be minimal at best. Basically, the shit has gone beyond my comprehension of what kind of corruption and scandal it takes to bring a politician down. tRump could kill someone on Fifth Avenue, and get away with it…and still remain in the White House as President. I don’t think anything is going to happen, it is over. We are all fucked.

Now for the news:

 

Take a look at this thread on twitter:

 

 

 

Now, check this out:

Trump Compared to Cyrus the Great – Talking Points Memo

Fox Host Jeanine Pirro says Donald Trump fulfilled biblical prophecy by moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Full video at the link.

Here is the quote:

Trump fulfilling ‘Biblical prophecy’ by moving embassy to Jerusalem says Judge Jeanine Pirro in bonkers rant

The move, she said, “Sent a huge signal to Iran, and Shiite Muslims, that we stood with the more moderate Sunnis.” (ISIS and Al Qaida are both Sunni; there has never been a major terrorist attack on the United States led by a Shiite group.)

“Trump has assured the world that his word is worth more than any former U.S. president,” she said. “His word is more than any treaty, and stronger than any UN resolution.”

And then she got Biblical.

“Jerusalem is the one and only capital of Israel,” she said. “By Trump putting his impermada on what has been history for the last 3,000 years—and that’s it has been the people’s capital of one people’s country or one kingdom. That people is the Jews and that country is Israel.”

She said that Israel is the foundation of our Judeo-Christian nation.

“Donald Trump recognized history, he like King Cyrus before him, fulfilled the Biblical prophecy of the God worshipped by Jews, Christians and, yes, Muslims, that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state and that the Jewish people finally deserve a righteous, free and sovereign Israel.”

With Fox peddling these “coins” that have the tRump is King Cyrus symbolism propoganda…it adds to the rest of the big picture.

 

Former Trump campaign aide is helping Russian firm shed sanctions – CNNPolitics

A former senior campaign and transition aide to President Donald Trump recently inked a deal to help a Russian oligarch’s conglomerate shed sanctions the Trump administration slapped on them last month.

Bryan Lanza, who is in regular contact with White House officials, is lobbying on behalf of the chairman of EN+ Group, an energy and aluminum firm presently controlled by Oleg Deripaska, according to several sources. Deripaska is a billionaire who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and was the target of US sanctions imposed last month. Lanza is also a CNN contributor.
Lanza is representing the chairman of EN+ Group, but not Deripaska directly. The company is seeking to reduce Deripaska’s ownership in the company enough to be freed from US sanctions. Deripaska is expected to maintain a substantial stake in the company.

You can read about more tRump lobby connections at the link. Names like Corey Lewandowski, Brian Ballard, Jason Miller have all opened up their own DC firms. All the while, keep in mind:

 

 

 

But…it is all just a normal day in Washington:

Oh, this also happened on the quiet:

Perry Halts Nuclear Arms-Into-Fuel Project

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has formally ended construction of a facility meant to reprocess weapons-grade plutonium and uranium into fuel for reactors, a key element of the nation’s commitment to containing the global nuclear threat.

Perry executed a waiver Thursday to terminate construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

A day earlier, Perry called it a “historically questionable” expenditure in testimony before Congress about the Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal, which includes $220 million toward closing the project, and $59 million toward replacing it with a so-called “dilute and dispose” approach to surplus nuclear material.

Yeah, King Cyprus…I mean tRump is gonna need all those nukes to “dilute and dispose” of over there in Iran…right?

Iran nuclear deal: Iranians worry about impact of US sanctions | Iran News | Al Jazeera

Iran’s parliament is expected to debate emergency legislation, after US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull America out of the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister is in China as part of a whirlwind diplomatic tour, to rescue the agreement.

Inside Iran, people are bracing themselves for the possibility of more hardship from sanctions.

Video report at the link.

 

Just one more thought on hardship…and motherhood…

 

John Kelly’s ‘Family Separation’ Recalls Slave Era Practice of Selling Parents Down the River – Truthdig

John Kelly, White House chief of staff, is an immigrant-hating bigot, as demonstrated by a long series of Draconian statements and measures that would have embarrassed most normal people into a lifetime vow of silence in their wake.

Kelly bizarrely defended Confederate slave drivers of the 1860s as having lived at a time before the evils of slavery were apparent to moral people. Haiti abolished slavery in 1804, Mexico in 1824 and Tunisia in 1846. But Kelly’s assertion becomes a little more understandable in view of his NPR interview on May 11.

On undocumented immigration, Kelly’s interview went like this:

Kelly: “But a big name of the game is deterrence.

NPR: “Family separation stands as a pretty tough deterrent.”

Kelly: “It could be a tough deterrent — would be a tough deterrent. A much faster turnaround on asylum seekers.

NPR: “Even though people say that’s cruel and heartless to take a mother away from her children?”

Kelly: “I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.

Kelly’s doctrine of “deterrence” of undocumented immigration into the US through family separation is undergirded by a special kind of sadism and ignorance combined. First of all, villagers in Honduras are not going to know about Kelly’s policy. Second, they are so desperate that many will take the risk anyway. Third, it is wrong to pounce and take US citizen children away from their mothers and fathers all of a sudden, giving them no time to make alternate arrangements. As for foster homes, with all due respect to the dedicated people who often run them, social science has proven that they are the biggest producer of a criminal class in the US. Children growing up without strong parental role models have a much greater chance of ending up in prison. Yes, that’s right. Social science says that if you want a safe society, don’t deport the parents of US citizen children.

Under Trump, ICE (which was only created recently and should be decommissioned) has been routinely doing things like traumatizing families by arresting undocumented parents when they come to pick up their children at school, in front of the eyes of the children, and leaving the latter unattended. The agents are not wrong to enforce the law, but this sort of tactic is clearly the result of instructions from Kelly and his successor, and is deliberate psychological warfare on American citizens.

Kelly’s self-satisfaction with getting rid of unwanted adults and putting their children, our fellow US citizens, in “foster care or whatever” (!!!) can only be compared to one phenomenon in American history.

Back in the days of slavery, white slave owners in the mid-Atlantic states like Kentucky used to separate fathers and sometimes mothers from their children and “sell them down the river” to the big plantation owners of the deep south.

Brown and black slaves were, like undocumented immigrants, not citizens and so they were not conceived by white elites as fully human persons. Hence, their families could be divided at will and parents could be sent far away, never to see their children again. They were treated like thoroughbred animals.

Kelly went on to slam these immigrants for not knowing English and for being unassimilable and having no skills. In fact, as conservative godfather Milton Friedman argued, they wouldn’t come here if they weren’t finding jobs that locals would not or could not fill. As for language and assimilation, Kelly’s own Italian-American side of the family came without English and remained here without citizenship for decades.

Cole then proceeds to quote the tweets showing Kelly’s own family background, which proves John Kelly’s own family members is one of those “illiterate” immigrants “and could not speak English 10 years after arrival.”  Yeah, these people…wtf is it with them?

And while all that is sinking in…this tweet should really be the icing on the Mother’s Day cake:

I don’t want to end on a bad note…

So, I have pictures.

First some fun ones:

DragCon is happening this weekend:

Those kick ass heels…a bit of marginalia to ring in the occasion? Quinn Cummings has been posting some awesome pictures on her Instagram feed:

@bufffaye #dragcon2018

A post shared by Quinn Cummings (@quinncummings) on

So please click the link up top and enjoy!

Sticking with the Medieval times a bit:

Elvis…he was a style icon…before he became a style icon!

 

Smooth huh?

 

And lastly, I wanted to share a few pictures from my daughter’s wedding, they are in a slideshow below.

 

Have a good day, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

This is an open thread.

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Independence Day Reads

Middleton_Manigault_-_The_Rocket_(1909)

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: B-52 Bomber, Sean Penn and El Chapo

Hello and good afternoon.

 

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 01/09/2016 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

 

This post will be a combination of cartoons and links. On Friday night my mom and I had a bout of food poisoning…and I was in no condition for putting up a cartoon thread that evening.

So sit back and take it in, here are your Sunday Links:

It sounds like a Hollywood movie:

Sean Penn reveals interview with fugitive drug baron El Chapo | World news | The Guardian

Actor and activist Sean Penn turned gonzo journalist and got an interview with the world’s most wanted man, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, just after the Mexican drug baron escaped from a maximum-security prison, it has emerged.

At his hideouts in the impenetrable hills of western Mexico, Guzmán told the Hollywood star about his drugs business, rags-to-riches life story and how he hired European engineers to help him to slip out of the prison.

Mexican authorities claim they monitored Penn’s movements after they found out about his meeting with Guzmán in October and that helped lead them to a ranch where El Chapo was staying.

Guzmán, fresh from his escape through anexpertly engineered tunnel, told Penn in a seven-hour visit and follow-up video for an article published in Rolling Stone: “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world … I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”

There is plenty of articles on this story…

01/08/2016 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

The main thrust of the juicy tidbits comes from Rolling Stone, which broke the video interviews of Penn and El Chapo:

El Chapo Speaks | Rolling Stone

(By line is Sean Penn btw…)

Disclosure: Some names have had
 to be changed, locations not named, and an understanding was brokered with the subject that this piece would be submitted for the subject’s approval before publication. The subject did not ask for any changes.

“The laws of conscience, which we pretend to be derived from nature, proceed from custom.” —Montaigne

It’s September 28th, 2015. My head is swimming, labeling TracPhones (burners), one per contact, one per day, destroy, burn, buy, balancing levels of encryption, mirroring through Blackphones, anonymous e-mail addresses, unsent messages accessed in draft form. It’s a clandestine horror show for the single most technologically illiterate man left standing. At 55 years old, I’ve never learned to use a laptop. Do they still make laptops? No fucking idea! It’s 4:00 in the afternoon. Another gorgeous fall day in New York City. The streets are abuzz with the lights and sirens of diplomatic movement, heads of state, U.N. officials, Secret Service details, the NYPD. It’s the week of the U.N. General Assembly. Pope Francis blazed a trail and left town two days before. I’m sitting in my room at the St. Regis Hotel with my colleague and brother in arms, Espinoza.

 

It already reads like a pitch for a film…but please continue…

Espinoza and I have traveled many roads together, but none as unpredictable as the one we are now approaching. Espinoza is the owl who flies among falcons. Whether he’s standing in the midst of a slum, a jungle or a battlefield, his idiosyncratic elegance, mischievous smile and self-effacing charm have a way of defusing threat. His bald head demands your attention to his twinkling eyes. He’s a man fascinated and engaged. We whisper to each other in code. Finally a respite from the cyber technology that’s been sizzling my brain and soul. We sit within quietude of fortified walls that are old New York hotel construction, when walls were walls, and telephones were usable without a Ph.D. We quietly make our plans, sensitive to the paradox that also in our hotel is President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. Espinoza and I leave the room to get outside the hotel, breathe in the fall air and walk the five blocks to a Japanese restaurant, where we’ll meet up with our colleague El Alto Garcia. As we exit onto 55th Street, the sidewalk is lined with the armored SUVs that will transport the president of Mexico to the General Assembly. Paradoxical indeed, as one among his detail asks if I will take a selfie with him. Flash frame: myself and a six-foot, ear-pieced Mexican security operator.

Flash frame: Why is this a paradox? It’s paradoxical because today’s

 

Oh yeah…voice over commanding language like, “the owl who flies with falcons” and don’t forget the flash frame shot directions…definitely screenplay material.

Video tease here:

Watch Two Minutes of El Chapo’s Exclusive Interview | Rolling Stone

Sean Penn, who tracked down the fugitive kingpin, sent questions; Chapo videotaped his responses in his first-ever interview.

Okay, seriously though…the other links are interesting, I just can’t help laughing like hell at the Penn article.

(A note here, these articles are older, from 2011 and mid 2015)

A Timeline of El Chapo’s Close Calls and Narrow Escapes | Rolling Stone

Mexican drug kingpin once came so close to being caught that his coffee was reportedly still warm when authorities arrived

How the Cartels Work | Rolling Stone

Mexican drug lords have transformed the narcotics trade in America — and the DEA appears powerless to stop them

 

Obamacare Repeal Vote: 01/08/2016 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Obamacare Repeal Vote

‘El Chapo’: Sean Penn interview provokes scorn in US – BBC News

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told CNN: “One thing I will tell you is that this braggadocious action about how much heroin he sends around the world, including the United States, is maddening.

“We see a heroin epidemic, an opioid addiction epidemic, in this country… But El Chapo’s behind bars – that’s where he should stay.”

The Mexican authorities are reported to be considering whether to investigate Penn and a Mexican actress, Kate del Castillo, who apparently arranged the interview.

Mr McDonough declined to answer a question about whether the US would hand Penn over to Mexico for questioning.

“Well, it poses a lot of very interesting questions both for him and for others involved in this-so-called interview, so we’ll see what happens on that – I’m not going to get ahead of it,” he said.

Mr Rubio told ABC: “If one of these American actors who have benefited from the greatness of this country, who have made money from our free enterprise system, want to go fawn all over a criminal and a drug trafficker in their interviews, they have a constitutional right to do it. I find it grotesque.”

 

01/08/2016 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

 

This may be the best way to review the Sean Penn article:

5 craziest moments in Sean Penn’s El Chapo Rolling Stone story – Salon.com

“A secret visit with the most wanted man in the world” reads like an Elmore Leonard novel come to life

Saturday night, Rolling Stone published a story written by actor Sean Penn about his efforts to interview notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera — known as El Chapo — that apparently contributed to El Chapo’s arrest last week, following his tunneling-out escape from Altiplano prison last summer. It’s a wild tale of Hollywood connections, jungle hide-outs, military shoot-outs and BlackBerry messaging.

“Sean Penn interview led authorities to El Chapo” might already be the strangest headline of 2016 — but the story gets even stranger from there. This entire caper reads like a chapter from a lost Elmore Leonard novel.

 

Go check that out…

 

 

01/07/2016 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

 

Trump urged to apologise to Muslim protester ejected from rally – BBC News

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has urged Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump to apologise to a Muslim protester ejected from one of his rallies.

CAIR said Rose Hamid’s eviction from the rally in South Carolina sent a “chilling message to American Muslims”.

Ms Hamid was removed after making a silent protest on Friday.

Mr Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the US has been widely condemned.

During the rally in the town of Rock Hill, Ms Hamid stood up wearing a T-shirt bearing the words: “Salam, I come in peace” – “Salam” is the Arabic word for peace.

When she stood up, the crowd around her began chanting “Trump! Trump!” as they had reportedly been instructed to do in the event of any interruption, reports the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher from Rock Hill.

Ms Hamid, a 56-year-old flight attendant, was then told by a security officer that she had to leave. She was booed as she was escorted out.

CAIR said that as well as apologising to Ms Hamid, Mr Trump should “make a clear statement that American Muslims are welcome as fellow citizens and as participants in the nation’s political process”.

No response from Trump.

 

LIFE IS SACRED: 01/07/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - LIFE IS SACRED

The latest shit out of the mouth of a fuckwad: via cnsnews . com… Rep. Chris Smith: ‘Planned Parenthood Dismembers or Chemically Poisons a Baby to Death Every 2 Minutes’

Rep. Chris Smith, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Human Rights, said on the House floor on Wednesday that Planned Parenthood is “Child Abuse, Incorporated,” and that the group “dismembers or chemically poisons a baby to death every 2 minutes.”

What an embarrassment, he chairs the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Global Human Rights?

The crap spewed. That is a right-wing link so you can look up the title at the site if you must.

This is the actual quote:

Here is the transcript of Rep. Smith’s floor speech:

“Subsidized by over $500 million taxpayer dollars each year, Planned Parenthood dismembers or chemically poisons a baby to death every 2 minutes, killing over 7 million innocent children since 1973.

“Planned Parenthood is Child Abuse, Incorporated. Now undercover videos have exposed in numbing candor several high-level Planned Parenthood leaders gleefully talking about procuring children’s internal organs for a price, all while altering gruesome dismemberment procedures to preserve intact livers, hearts, and lungs from freshly killed babies.

“Far too many politicians, Mr. Speaker, including our Nobel Peace Prizewinning president and much of the media, continue to ignore, trivialize, and even defend these gross human rights abuses.

“So know this: We will not be deterred in exposing this Planned Parenthood scandal no matter how aggressive and misleading the cover-up.

“End taxpayer funding to those who commit these cruel and inhumane acts in this subsidy for Planned Parenthood.

Fucking hell!

What about the real human rights violations that have gone on in this country, specifically in a town called Flint:

Flint’s Water Crisis Is a Human Rights Violation | Al Jazeera America

On Jan. 5, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint and Genesee County, where lead in the area’s drinking water has been showing up at toxic levels in the bloodstreams of children. The water became toxic because of a decision by the government Snyder runs.

In 2014 the city of Flint’s emergency manager, appointed by the state, ordered that the city stop drawing water from Lake Huron and start taking it from the Flint River. However, the river’s corrosive waters stripped lead from the water system’s pipes, contaminating the drinking water. Though the city has switched back to drawing water from Lake Huron, the local water still contains dangerous levels of lead, and local officials are handing out water filters as they try to come up with a solution.

This emergency goes beyond simply a public health problem. (Lead is a potent neurotoxin, which can cause irreversible brain damage in children.) It is something much worse: a human rights abuse in an American city. In 2010, the United Nations declared that “ … clean drinking water … [is] essential to the realization of all human rights.” Flint’s contaminated water will prevent children from realizing their human right to health, enumerated in Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Had these basic human rights factored into the decision to switch Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River, Flint’s children might never have been exposed to tainted water. What’s worse, new reports say Snyder’s office found out about the contaminated water and did nothing. For as little as $100 per day the state of Michigan could have treated the water and prevented the life-long suffering that the children of Flint are now going to experience, but instead it prioritized fiscal savings over the health and human rights of children.

Once again, Rep Smith illustrates the perfect example of PLUB….Pro-Life-Until-Birth mentally. GOP pro-life basturds only care for the precious “life” before it pops out of the mother. After that point when it is an actual living person, they don’t give a flying fuck.

 

01/07/2016 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

Case in point: LA-area residents implore officials to approve plan to mitigate gas leak | Reuters

 

At least it is starting to get more press…

 

01/06/2016 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

Did y’all see this?

Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof running for Nevada senate – NY Daily News

It really is becoming a world like Idiocracy.

 

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Kim Jong-un’s ally: 01/07/2016 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Kim Jong-un's ally

On the other side of the globe, a show of old cold war tactics has been making headlines overnight.

US deploys B-52 bomber after North Korea’s nuclear test – Al Jazeera English

US bomber flies over South Korea amid standoff over North Korea nuclear tests | World news | The Guardian

U.S. flies B-52 over South Korea after North’s nuclear test | Reuters

 

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (C) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (C) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (R) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

A U.S. Air Force B-52 (R) flies over Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Oregon Yeehawdists: 01/06/2016 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Oregon Yeehawdists

 

In Middle Eastern news:

US releases video of Iran firing unguided rockets close to aircraft carrier | US news | The Guardian

and finally:

Deal struck for aid to reach besieged Syrian towns – Al Jazeera English

And in Spain:

Catalan separatists to form regional government after president steps aside | World news | The Guardian

 

01/08/2016 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

 

This is a big story, Over 200 Members of German Choir Were Abused, Investigator Says – The New York Times

At least 231 children who sang in a boys’ choir led for 30 years by the brother of former Pope Benedict XVIwere abused over a period of almost four decades, a lawyer investigating reports of wrongdoing said Friday.

The lawyer, Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned by the choir to look into accusations of beatings, torture or sexual abuse, said he thought that the actual abuse was even more widespread.

At a news conference in Regensburg, Bavaria, where the choir traces its roots to the year 975, Mr. Weber estimated that from 1953 to 1992, every third member of the choir and an attached school suffered some kind of physical abuse.

He attributed the beatings and other mistreatment mostly to Johann Meier, director of a lower school attached to the choir from 1953 until his retirement in 1992. Mr. Meier died suddenly later that year, Mr. Weber said. A 1987 investigation of reported abuse did not prompt the choir’s leaders to remove Mr. Meier or take other action, the lawyer said.

Asked whether Benedict’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, who conducted the Regensburg choir from 1964 to 1994, had known of the abuse, Mr. Weber said, “After my research, I must assume so.”

Those Fuckers!

 

MILITIA SNACKS: 01/08/2016 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - MILITIA SNACKS

 

For a few updates on the militia nuts:

Ranchers’ Cause, Not Tactics, Gains Support in GOP Circles – ABC News

Republicans have widely condemned the efforts by a group of armed ranchers to reclaim federal land in eastern Oregon, but the ranchers’ goal of taking back some of Washington’s vast holdings in the West has gained traction in the GOP.

The decades-old idea could garner even more momentum should the party recapture theWhite House this year.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has proposed preventing the federal government from owning more than 50 percent of the land in any state, which would require changes, for example, in Alaska, Nevada and other western states.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has backed legislation to give states the ability to develop energy resources on federal land and told the Des Moines Register editorial board that “the federal government owns far too much land” in the West.

Both senators backed an amendment offered by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski last year that would make it easier for federal land to be returned to state control.

Experts: ‘Militiamen’ Live Hand To Mouth On Gov’t Disability And Their Wives’ Hard Work «

Jon Ritzheimer, infamous right-wing terrorist and incredible douchebag, barely squeaks by on his government disability check and has said that he is “thankful to have a wife who works.” As it turns out, experts tell us that this guy who spends his days fighting imaginary battles and sucking up a good man’s oxygen isn’t the exception to the demographics that make up a right-wing terrorist militia, he’s the definition.

“These guys are broke,” said Mark Pitcavage, who has been researching far-right movements for 22 years and has studied the Harney County occupiers. “Right-wing extremists, generally speaking, have very little money.”

How a right-wing extremist occupation like the one in Oregon would pay for itself isn’t exactly an issue there’s been a lot of data on. By referencing the research of people like Pitcavage, we can deduce that right-wing extremists are for the most part freeloaders, likened to teenagers who think they can take care of themselves but overwhelmed the first time they have to pay a bill or do a load of laundry.

“It’s quite possible that a lot of them will get tired and feel the pressure to go back and care for their families,” Pitcavage explained. Those families, left behind to care for themselves, are probably better off without their “patriarch,” the almighty man who controls everything and can make the decision to just pack up and leave on a whim to occupy a forest a thousand miles away that they’ve never heard of before last week.

Daryl Johnson, a former DHS domestic terrorism analyst, says militia members have a warped sense of priority where their “duty” is concerned. A video released by Ritzheimer showed him crying that he would probably be killed and how much he would miss his family just before he held up a copy of the Constitution and declared “But…I took an oath.”

“They’ll think nothing about taking half their paycheck and using half of it to buy ammunition and guns,” Johnson told The Oregonian.

The gist here is that these idiots aren’t just the worst the American gene pool has to offer, they’re also incredible assholes who are neglecting their families to go play soldier in the Oregon wilderness. They’re holed up in a facility they didn’t pay to be at, squeezing the taxpayer for their utilities and costing tens if not hundreds of thousands more in wages paid to employees who can’t go to work.

01/10/2016 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

 

Zandar Versus The Stupid: Last Call For Here We Go Again, Day 7

The Bundy seditionists’ call for backup has been heeded by one of the more nasty armed insurrection/white supremacist groups out there, Idaho’s “Three Percent” movement.

Members of a group from outside Oregon arrived on Friday at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to “secure a perimeter” around the compound and prevent “a Waco-style situation.”

The arrival of the “3% of Idaho” was the latest development in the situation outside Burns, where an armed occupation of the refuge by an Ammon Bundy-led militant group entered its seventh day.

“They just keep an eye on everything that is going on” to make sure “nothing stupid happens,” Bundy said Friday afternoon outside refuge headquarters.

“If they weren’t here,” Bundy said, referring to the Idaho group, “I’d worry” about a Waco-style siege by federal officials.

The group’s website says it stands for “freedom, liberty and the Constitution. We will combat all those who are corrupt.” The website displays the motto, “When Tyranny Becomes Law, Rebellion Becomes Duty!”

As Dave Neiwert reminds us, these assholes are pretty deep into Islamophobia and armed insurrection.  They marched against settling Syrian refugees in Twin Falls, Idaho in October and again in Boise in November and the real danger is of course these jagoffs are national.

The Idaho group is only the local affiliate of a broader (though hardly numerous) national movement that takes its name from the notion that only 3 percent of the people living in the colonies took part in the American Revolution – thus, the name is intended to invoke the would-be combatants in a “second American Revolution,” as its proponents like to proclaim.

The movement is largely the brainchild of Michael Vanderboegh, the onetime militiaman who in recent years has been specializing in incendiary rhetoric supporting the notion that any attempts at federal gun control will spark a new civil war, or better yet, a new revolution.

As Boston Boomer noted yesterday, these dudes are using the internet and gaining access to federal employee records…when the hell is this going to end. Like the cartoon above, if the men were any color but white, you know it would have been over long ago.

0108mike luckovich: tears | Mike Luckovich

lk010816_color

 

From the freak department:

Idaho mountain lion deformity puzzles biologists – CBS News

This Dec. 30, 2015, photo released by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), shows a deformed mountain lion with teeth growing out of its forehead. Biologists are trying to determine what caused the strange growth on the animal, which was legally killed by a hunter in southeast Idaho near the Utah border.

IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME VIA AP

 

State wildlife biologists have been left puzzled over a mountain lion found with teeth growing out the side of its forehead in southeast Idaho near the Utah border.

CBS affiliate KBOI reports an unidentified hunter caught the yearling cougar last week near Weston. Idaho Fish and Game biologists say they’ve never seen such a “bizarre” abnormality before.

[…]

Biologist Zach Lockyer says the teeth were protruding from hard tissue on the left side of the mountain lion’s forehead.

Biologists speculate the animal’s deformity may possibly be the result of either a conjoined twin that died in the womb or a rare tumor. Another possibility is ateratoma tumor, which are tumors that allow teeth, hair, fingers and toes to grow, and are incredibly rare in humans and animals.

Could it be a sign…since those Idaho assholes have joined the Oregon dumbfarts in the “standoff”?

I don’t know. But if there ever was a symbol of a giant fucked up threat against peace…to me it sure would be some freakish deformed mountain lion from Idaho with nasty teeth protruding from the animals forehead.

Bad omen if you ask me.

 

 

 

 

Since the Thin Man was mentioned last week, I thought might as well give you all a Tired Old Queen video link….enjoy:

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies – THE THIN MAN & AFTER THE THIN MAN – YouTube

 

And a bonus too:

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies – THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL – YouTube

 

This is an open thread…


Friday Reads: Falling Leaves and Expectations

d2577cc184f46beab3adf201e1cc7865It’s a beautiful autumn day here in New Orleans.  Many of us are voting early to ensure David Vitter’s political career ends this month. There are some interesting dynamics this election cycle.  There’s only so much craziness allowed in the Republican Party by the moneyed interested before they start closing down the monkey house that’s become much of the local structure and grass roots.  The base and the establishment couldn’t be more at odds.  There is real concern that the Trump flame isn’t burning out. Last cycle, they were able to bring the insipid Mitt Romney through the process only to lose big time to the President.  They also managed to hoist Dubya Bush on us at a cost of blood and treasure.  Nixon really burned the house down. The Southern Strategy has really come back to haunt them.
There are some interesting articles up today analyzing various topics. The first is from WAPO and deals with establishment panic over Donald Trump.

Less than three months before the kickoff Iowa caucuses, there is growing anxiety bordering on panic among Republican elites about the dominance and durability of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and widespread bewilderment over how to defeat them.

Party leaders and donors fear that nominating either man would have negative ramifications for the GOP ticket up and down the ballot, virtually ensuring a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency and increasing the odds that the Senate falls into Democratic hands.

The party establishment is paralyzed. Big money is still on the sidelines. No consensus alternative to the outsiders has emerged from the pack of governors and senators running, and there is disagreement about how to prosecute the case against them. Recent focus groups of Trump supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire commissioned by rival campaigns revealed no silver bullet.

In normal times, the way forward would be obvious. The wannabes would launch concerted campaigns, including television attack ads, against the ­front-runners. But even if the other candidates had a sense of what might work this year, it is unclear whether it would ultimately accrue to their benefit. Trump’s counterpunches have been withering, while Carson’s appeal to the base is spiritual, not merely political. If someone was able to do significant damage to them, there’s no telling to whom their supporters would turn, if anyone.

Trump gave an epic rant on Carson and dumb Iowans in Fort Dodge which has really sent the money crowd off the edge.  Carson’s response today is to pray for Trump.  What kind of people find either of these guys 4d02e75b7ff93e7b381bff7ce20c8b0feven attractive as human beings let alone potential presidents?

Ben Carson apparently had a simple response to rival Donald Trump after the real-estate mogul savaged Carson during a Thursday-night stump speech.

“Pray for him,” Carson said, according his business manager Armstrong Williams’ Friday account to CNN.

Williams, who often acts as a Carson surrogate, further lashed into Trump.

“It is so immature,” Williams said. “It is so embarrassing. I feel so sorry for him.”

The day before, Trump launched a no-holds-barred assault against Carson, his top rival in the GOP primary.

Those attacks included Trump doubling down on his comparison of what he has called Carson’s incurable “pathological temper” to child molesters, while at the same time questioning Carson’s account of his violent childhood incidents. This all occurred during a 95-minute speech in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

“How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?” Trump asked his supporters of Carson’s stories.

Trump characterized Carson’s lying as “pathological and akin to child molester’s who can’t be cured.  Can you believe this is the level of discourse we’ve come to?  Can any of them even talk about a policy that’s remotely good and realistic for the country?

Meanwhile, we’re finally getting some good old fashion press attention to the behavior of the Bush administration prior to the 9/11 attacks.  They were all on vacation when a series of warnings crossed their desks. When can we actually get some justice on what they did to this country?  This is even from Tiger Beat on the Potomac so will it get enough attention to start the main stream media to focus on the lies to the Iraq War and the intelligence that was ignored or made up at that time?

1920s France La Vie Parisienne Magazine Plate

Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” The CIA’s famous Presidential Daily Brief, presented to George W. Bush on August 6, 2001, has always been Exhibit A in the case that his administration shrugged off warnings of an Al Qaeda attack. But months earlier, starting in the spring of 2001, the CIA repeatedly and urgently began to warn the White House that an attack was coming.

By May of 2001, says Cofer Black, then chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, “it was very evident that we were going to be struck, we were gonna be struck hard and lots of Americans were going to die.” “There were real plots being manifested,” Cofer’s former boss, George Tenet, told me in his first interview in eight years. “The world felt like it was on the edge of eruption. In this time period of June and July, the threat continues to rise. Terrorists were disappearing [as if in hiding, in preparation for an attack]. Camps were closing. Threat reportings on the rise.” The crisis came to a head on July 10. The critical meeting that took place that day was first reported by Bob Woodward in 2006. Tenet also wrote about it in general terms in his 2007 memoir At the Center of the Storm.

But neither he nor Black has spoken about it publicly in such detail until now—or been so emphatic about how specific and pressing their warnings really were. Over the past eight months, in more than a hundred hours of interviews, my partners Jules and Gedeon Naudet and I talked with Tenet and the 11 other living former CIA directors for The Spymasters, a documentary set to air this month on Showtime.

The drama of failed warnings began when Tenet and Black pitched a plan, in the spring of 2001, called “the Blue Sky paper” to Bush’s new national security team. It called for a covert CIA and military campaign to end the Al Qaeda threat—“getting into the Afghan sanctuary, launching a paramilitary operation, creating a bridge with Uzbekistan.” “And the word back,” says Tenet, “‘was ‘we’re not quite ready to consider this. We don’t want the clock to start ticking.’” (Translation: they did not want a paper trail to show that they’d been warned.) Black, a charismatic ex-operative who had helped the French arrest the terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, says the Bush team just didn’t get the new threat: “I think they were mentally stuck back eight years [before]. They were used to terrorists being Euro-lefties—they drink champagne by night, blow things up during the day, how bad can this be? And it was a very difficult sell to communicate the urgency to this.”

That morning of July 10, the head of the agency’s Al Qaeda unit, Richard Blee, burst into Black’s office. “And he says, ‘Chief, this is it. Roof’s fallen in,’” recounts Black. “The information that we had compiled was absolutely compelling. It was multiple-sourced. And it was sort of the last straw.” Black and his deputy rushed to the director’s office to brief Tenet. All agreed an urgent meeting at the White House was needed. Tenet picked up the white phone to Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. “I said, ‘Condi, I have to come see you,’” Tenet remembers. “It was one of the rare times in my seven years as director where I said, ‘I have to come see you. We’re comin’ right now. We have to get there.’”

Tenet vividly recalls the White House meeting with Rice and her team. (George W. Bush was on a trip to Boston.) “Rich [Blee] started by saying, ‘There will be significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months. The attacks will be spectacular. They may be multiple. Al Qaeda’s intention is the destruction of the United States.’” [Condi said:] ‘What do you think we need to do?’ Black responded by slamming his fist on the table, and saying, ‘We need to go on a wartime footing now!’”

“What happened?” I ask Cofer Black. “Yeah. What did happen?” he replies. “To me it remains incomprehensible still. I mean, how is it that you could warn senior people so many times and nothing actually happened? It’s kind of like The Twilight Zone.” Remarkably, in her memoir, Condi Rice writes of the July 10 warnings: “My recollection of the meeting is not very crisp because we were discussing the threat every day.” Having raised threat levels for U.S. personnel overseas, she adds: “I thought we were doing what needed to be done.” (When I asked whether she had any further response to the comments that Tenet, Black and others made to me, her chief of staff said she stands by the account in her memoir.) Inexplicably, although Tenet brought up this meeting in his closed-door testimony before the 9/11 Commission, it was never mentioned in the committee’s final report.

And there was one more chilling warning to come. At the end of July, Tenet and his deputies gathered in the director’s conference room at CIA headquarters. “We were just thinking about all of this and trying to figure out how this attack might occur,” he recalls. “And I’ll never forget this until the day I die. Rich Blee looked at everybody and said, ‘They’re coming here.’ And the silence that followed was deafening. You could feel the oxygen come out of the room. ‘They’re coming here.’”

il_340x270.833008074_p3k8It’s amazing to me that major failures of policy by Republican administrations never seem to matter to any one as long as the money keeps funneling its way up to the rich and they can keep their base stupid and angry.  The deal is that I truly believe that behavior is backfiring on them finally during this election cycle.  It’s bad enough that we suffered through the Reagan years and they were characterized quite differently and that so many people believe the hype and not the reality apparent in the facts.  My hope is that entangling the neocon policy will bring about a higher realization since so many Americans died as a result. However, look at the Republican Field.  We have folks that are either totally clueless on the entire foreign area.  For example, Ben Carson actually stated in the last debate that China was active in the Middle East which is not the least bit true.  The other side is Jeb and the like who come with the same advisers as Dubya.  How can any of this be representative of one of the two parties seeking leadership of the world’s only superpower?

The Blog “The Progressive Professor” discusses how we’ve gone from a place where the Republicans were perceived as the party most knowledgeable and able when it comes to foreign policy to the party that is completely clueless and inept.  This should be worrisome to both the American Electorate and the world.

 

It used to be that the Republican Party had candidates who had a reputation for foreign policy expertise, including Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush.

Now, we have Rand Paul, representing the isolationist viewpoint; and the viewpoint of the neoconservatives, which includes just about everyone else, all who have apparently learned nothing from the disastrous policies of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  They want to commit US military forces to another war, but of course give not a care to veterans once they come home from war, often wounded physically and mentally by their experience.

And some have not a clue as to what is going on in foreign policy, demonstrating unbelievable ignorance, particularly Dr. Benjamin Carson and Donald Trump.

As this blogger has stated many times in the past few years, in the 2012 election cycle, ONLY Jon Huntsman had any legitimate background in foreign policy; and in the 2016 election cycle, only John Kasich demonstrates any experience in foreign policy, although inferior to that of Huntsman.

One may criticize Barack Obama in some areas of foreign policy, but his top aides and advisers on this have included Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and present Secretary of State John Kerry.  Many would criticize all of them, but in comparison to the Republican camp, they are people of experience and awareness of the complex world we live in!

Donald Trump went as far as to state that Russia was going after ISIL when in fact, Russia has been attacking the anti-Assad Forces supported by the US and allies  This article is from the Times of London and2a2f9922407896a03e9b3874a74a4731 clearly illustrates that the Russians are not on our side no matter how much The Donald and The Carly want to brag about their green room romps with Putin.

Iran was on Thursday night moving up its ground forces in Syria in preparation for an attack to reclaim rebel-held territory under the cover of Russian air strikes, according to sources close to Damascus. Hizbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia which has come to the Assad regime’s rescue in battle-fronts across the country in the past two years, is being prepared to capitalise on the strikes, a Syrian figure close to the regime told The Telegraph

• Sources in Lebanon told Reuters that Iran, which is the main sponsor and tactical adviser to Hizbollah, was sending in hundreds of its own troops to reinforce them. Iran made no comment on the claims but Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said the move would be an “apt and powerful illustration” that Russia’s military actions had worsened the conflict.

• A Hizbollah-backed advance would fit the pattern of Russian air-strikes, which have predominantly targeted those rebels not aligned to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant who currently present the gravest threat on the ground to core regime territory.

• The long-term aim would be to defeat or demoralise the non-Isil opposition, so that Isil became the regime’s only enemy. That would force the West to back President Bashar al-Assad against it. “They want to clean the country of non-Isil rebels, and then the US will work with them as Isil will be the only enemy,” the Damascus source said.

Ben Carson appears to point to the voices in his head has his sources for his ridiculous claims on China and Russia.

But the most amusing category belongs to politicians who defend bogus claims by citing secret evidence that only they have access to. As Rachel noted on the show last night, this comes up more often than it should.

Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-Calif.), for example, claimed last year to have secret information about ISIS fighters getting caught entering the United States through Mexico, which never happened in reality. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) claimed to have secret evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which is the exact opposite of the truth.

And then there’s Ben Carson, who claimed this week that China has deployed troops to Syria, despite the fact that China has not deployed troops to Syria. Yesterday, Armstrong Williams, a top Carson campaign aide, defended the claim by pointing to – you guessed it – secret intelligence. Here was the exchange between Williams and MSNBC’s Tamron Hall:

WILLIAMS:  Well, Tamron, from your perspective and what most people know, maybe that is inaccurate, but from my intelligence and what Dr. Carson`s been told by people on the ground involved in that area of the world, it has been told to him many times over and over that the Chinese are there.  But as far as our intelligence and the briefings that Dr. Carson`s been in, and I`ve certainly been in with him, he`s certainly been told that the Chinese are there.

Last month, the retired right-wing neurosurgeon claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas all went to college together. When told that didn’t make any sense, Carson insisted he’s talked to “various people” who’ve provided him with unique insights.

200_sYou can follow the link to a snippet from Maddow’s show that discusses some absolute bizarre comments from Carson.  This includes a really bizarre CBN interview about ties between those three leaders as some kind of dormmates at the same university and that he has secret sources.

So, the question being discussed across coffee at my house is who the hell is supporting these guys and wtf is wrong with them?  I’m no psychologist, but what causes a person to go gaga over a pathological liar and a malignant narcissist to the point of thinking they should be president?  Why do so many Republicans want Ben Carson in office?   (I need to add that this discussion is held between two former Republicans.  My friend is a very recent addition to my reformed republican club which I formed 20 years ago having decided that the absolute craziness over gay marriage and adoption was the most bigoted and hateful thing she’d ever seen.)

Here’s some analysis of a poll done by ABC.

Respondents saw Carson’s lack of experience in politics as a strength, not a weakness. Like other Carson supporters we interviewed, Karen Mihalic, 61, loves that the neurosurgeon’s “not like your typical politician.”

“I don’t think politicians are really in tune with the rest of America and what we need,” Mihalic said. “We need someone to shake things up down there.”

Don, 30, who declined to give his last name, said he doesn’t see a difference between Carson’s experience in politics and that of President Obama.

Jeanne Blando, 71, agreed.

“I think Carson will be much more effective than the president we have now,” Blando said.

Carson’s values are important.

But why not support fellow outsider Donald Trump instead? For Blando, it’s all about Carson’s values.

“I love Trump because he says what he thinks, but that won’t work for governing,” Blando said.

Jesse Varoz, 28, called Carson an “upstanding guy.” Richard Medina, 69, said Carson was “truly honest and someone I can depend on.”

“If you listen to [Carson] speak, he thinks about what he’s gonna say, while other candidates do not,” Medina said.

Ignorance is not only bliss, it’s evidently a very attractive and powerful opiate of a good portion of the masses.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: A Mixed Bag of News and Views

Tea in the garden darker

Good Morning!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bibi bomb

Pretty funny.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valerie_Jarrett_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Michael_Key

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transgender Bathroom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xavier Morales

Xavier Morales

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ-Christie-Bridgegate-Press-Conf-3-620x430

More trouble may be coming for NJ governor and possible GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie.

NJ.com reports:  Indictments may come very soon in Bridgegate, report says.

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

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

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

This could be very interesting.

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

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

 


Friday Reads: The Iran Deal

tumblr_mgybvytJ5h1qjtdngo1_500Good Afternoon!

I’m running late again!  My schedule is just upside down now and DST just double whammed me on the same weekend I started my late night work.  Still getting used to the weird hours.  I also wanted to spend some time on the negotiations with Iran over its nuke program so I had to catch up with the news.  I’m glad BB’s post was so good because I can see you’ve spent a lot of time commenting on what’s going on in Indiana with its so-called “religious freedom” bill.

Obviously, there are going to be several sides to the “deal” depending on your views and their connections to US/Israel policy. So, I thought I’d highlight a few. Max Fisher–writing for VOX–says the deal is “astonishingly good.”

When Aaron Stein was studying nuclear non-proliferation at Middlebury College’s Monterey graduate program, the students would sometimes construct what they thought would be the best possible nuclear inspection and monitoring regimes.

Years later, Stein is now a Middle East and nuclear proliferation expert with the Royal United Services Institute. And he says the Iran nuclear framework agreement, announced on Thursday, look an awful lot like those ideal hypotheticals he’d put together in grad school.

“When I was doing my non-proliferation training at Monterey, this is the type of inspection regime that we would dream up in our heads,” he said. “We would hope that this would be the way to actually verify all enrichment programs, but thought that would never be feasible.

“If these are the parameters by which the [final agreement] will be signed, then this is an excellent deal,” Stein concluded.

The framework nuclear deal establishes only the very basics; negotiators will continue to meet to try to turn them into a complete, detailed agreement by the end of June. Still, the terms in the framework, unveiled to the world after a series of late- and all-night sessions, are remarkably detailed and almost astoundingly favorable to the United States.

Like many observers, I doubted in recent months that Iran and world powers would ever reach this stage; the setbacks and delays had simply been too many. Now, here we are, and the terms are far better than expected. There are a number of details still to be worked out, including one very big unresolved issue that could potentially sink everything. This is not over. But if this framework does indeed become a full nuclear deal in July, it would be a huge success and a great deal.

The NYT editorial board calls the deal “promising.”images

Iran would shut down roughly two-thirds of the 19,000 centrifuges producing uranium that could be used to fuel a bomb and agree not to enrich uranium over 3.67 percent (a much lower level than is required for a bomb) for at least 15 years. The core of the reactor at Arak, which officials feared could produce plutonium, another key ingredient for making a weapon, would be dismantled and replaced, with the spent fuel shipped out of Iran.

Mr. Obama, speaking at the White House, insisted he was not relying on trust to ensure Iran’s compliance but on “the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program.”

There is good reason for skepticism about Iran’s intentions. Although it pledged not to acquire nuclear weapons when it ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1970, it pursued a secret uranium enrichment program for two decades. By November 2013, when serious negotiations with the major powers began, Iran was enriching uranium at a level close to bomb-grade.

However, Iran has honored an interim agreement with the major powers, in place since January 2014, by curbing enrichment and other major activities.

By opening a dialogue between Iran and America, the negotiations have begun to ease more than 30 years of enmity. Over the long run, an agreement could make the Middle East safer and offer a path for Iran, the leading Shiite country, to rejoin the international community.

According to Reuters, Iranians were celebrating in the street as the deal was announced yesterday.  The country has been living under harsh embargoes which have obviously hurt ordinary people.

Iranians celebrated in the streets after negotiators reached a framework for a nuclear accord and U.S. President Barack Obama hailed an “historic understanding”, but senior global diplomats cautioned that hard work lies ahead to strike a final deal.

The tentative agreement, struck on Thursday after eight days of talks in Switzerland, clears the way for a settlement to allay Western fears that Iran could build an atomic bomb, with economic sanctions on Tehran being lifted in return.

It marks the most significant step toward rapprochement between Washington and Tehran since the 1979 Iranian revolution and could bring an end to decades of Iran’s international isolation.

But the deal still requires experts to work out difficult details before a self-imposed June deadline and diplomats said it could collapse at any time before then.

tumblr_n8ny4i9nX51txy642o1_500We have reaction to the deal from the GOP and from former SOS Hillary Clinton as reported by CNN.

The backlash from likely Republican presidential contenders to thepotential nuclear deal with Iran trumpeted Thursday by President Barack Obama came swift and hard. A more optimistic response came from likely 2016 Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the deal — aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear capabilities — “will only legitimize those activities.”

“Nothing in the deal described by the administration this afternoon would justify lifting U.S. and international sanctions, which were the product of many years of bipartisan effort,” Bush said. “I cannot stand behind such a flawed agreement.”

Clinton, meanwhile, held up the tentative agreement as an “important step” in preventing a nuclear Iran.

“Getting the rest of the way to a final deal by June won’t be easy, but it is absolutely crucial. I know well that the devil is always in the details in this kind of negotiation,” Clinton said in a statement. “The onus is on Iran and the bar must be set high. It can never be permitted to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

But the former secretary of state allowed leeway for herself in case things go awry in the coming months, stating, “There is much to do and much more to say in the months ahead, but for now diplomacy deserves a chance to succeed.”

The rest of the Republican field, however, coalesced around rejecting the deal.

Making his first trek to Iowa as an announced presidential candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz contended the President must bring Congress into the process.

“The very first step for any deal, good or bad, should be submitting it to Congress, and the President making the case both to Congress and to the American people why this advances the national security interests of the United States,” Cruz told reporters after a town hall in Cedar Rapids. “Now everything President Obama has said up to this date has suggested that he is going to do everything he can to circumvent Congress.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described the early details of the agreement as “very troubling” and said “this attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success is just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran.”

Obama pushed to quiet skeptics of the framework during his remarks in the White House Rose Garden Thursday, asking, “Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?”

69844c5ef8afa2721165c08a7842db7fPeter Baker–writing for the NYT–calls the deal a “foreign policy gamble”.

As Mr. Obama stepped into the Rose Garden to announce what he called a historic understanding, he seemed both relieved that it had come together and combative with those in Congress who would tear it apart. While its provisions must be translated into writing by June 30, he presented it as a breakthrough that would, if made final, make the world a safer place, the kind of legacy any president would like to leave. “This has been a long time coming,” he said.

Mr. Obama cited the same John F. Kennedy quote he referenced earlier in the week when visiting a new institute dedicated to the former president’s brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” The sense of celebration was captured by aides standing nearby in the Colonnade who exchanged fist bumps at the end of the president’s remarks.

But Mr. Obama will have a hard time convincing a skeptical Congress, where Republicans and many Democrats are deeply concerned that he has grown so desperate to reach a deal that he is trading away American and Israeli security. As he tries to reach finality with Iran, he will have to fend off legislative efforts, joined even by some of his friends, to force a tougher posture.

The WAPO Editorial Board was critical of the deal.

THE “KEY parameters” for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program released Thursday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration. None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed. Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be “reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years. When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.

That’s a long way from the standard set by President Obama in 2012 when he declared that “the deal we’ll accept” with Iran “is that they end their nuclear program” and “abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those resolutions call for Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium. Instead, under the agreement announced Thursday, enrichment will continue with 5,000 centrifuges for a decade, and all restraints on it will end in 15 years.

Mr. Obama argued forcefully — and sometimes combatively — Thursday that the United States and its partners had obtained “a good deal” and that it was preferable to the alternatives, which he described as a nearly inevitable slide toward war. He also said he welcomed a “robust debate.” We hope that, as that debate goes forward, the president and his aides will respond substantively to legitimate questions, rather than claim, as Mr. Obama did, that the “inevitable critics” who “sound off” prefer “the risk of another war in the Middle East.”

The proposed accord will provide Iran a huge economic boost that will allow it to wage more aggressively the wars it is already fighting or sponsoring across the region. Whether that concession is worthwhile will depend in part on details that have yet to be agreed upon, or at least publicly explained. For example, the guidance released by the White House is vague in saying that U.S. and European Union sanctions “will be suspended after” international inspectors have “verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear related steps.”

Obviously, Bibi is beside himself.images (1)

“I just came from a meeting of the Israeli cabinet. We discussed the proposed framework for a deal with Iran.

The cabinet is united in strongly opposing the proposed deal.

This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the State of Israel.

The deal would not shut down a single nuclear facility in Iran, would not destroy a single centrifuge in Iran and will not stop R&D on Iran’s advanced centrifuges.

On the contrary. The deal would legitimize Iran’s illegal nuclear program. It would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. A vast nuclear infrastructure remains in place.

The deal would lift sanctions almost immediately and this at the very time that Iran is stepping up its aggression and terror in the region and beyond the region.

In a few years, the deal would remove the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, enabling Iran to have a massive enrichment capacity that it could use to produce many nuclear bombs within a matter of months.

The deal would greatly bolster Iran’s economy. It would give Iran thereby tremendous means to propel its aggression and terrorism throughout the Middle East.

Such a deal does not block Iran’s path to the bomb.

Is he the little boy that has cried wolf too often?

Anyway, I hope you’ll read up on the situation since it stands to be one of the biggest foreign policy agreements for quite some time.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?