Thursday Reads: Ferguson, Missouri is a War Zone

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Good Morning!!

I spent most of the day and night yesterday following the shocking events in Ferguson, Missouri. As I read articles and tweets and studied violent images of police dressed as soldiers and riding in military vehicles, I had repeated flashbacks to the Civil Rights era. Except in those days, police weren’t outfitted with surplus military equipment provided by the Federal government. Back then, the cops had to resort to fire hoses to force people off the streets; but in Ferguson, St. Louis police are equipped with MRAPs (mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles) and LRADs (long-range acoustic devices).

Ferguson isn’t a large city, and reporters on the ground estimated the size of the “crowd” at somewhere between 150 and 250 people, who were largely protesting peacefully by holding their hands in the air and chanting “Hands up. Don’t shoot.” It’s long past time for Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (a Democrat) to step in and tell the cops to calm down and put away their military toys. If he won’t take action, then President Obama should instruct Attorney General Holder to do it.

The protests follow the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a still-unnamed Ferguson policeman last Saturday afternoon. Brown “had no criminal background,” according to KDSK.com. Police claim that Brown struggled with the officer and tried to grab his gun. But that makes no sense. Why did the officer choose to stop Brown as he peacefully walked down the street with a friend? That friend, Dorian Johnson tells a different version of events.

From USA Today: Witness to Michael Brown shooting comes forward.

Dorian Johnson said he was standing inches from Brown when the shooting occurred around 1:40 p.m. Saturday. He gave his account of the shooting to KSDK-TV.

“The officer is approaching us and as he pulled up on the side of us, he didn’t say freeze, halt or anything like we were committing a crime. He said, ‘Get the F on the sidewalk.’

After Johnson said the officer thrust open the door of his patrol car, hitting the pair, Johnson said the officer grabbed Brown around the neck and tried to pull him through the window. He said Brown never tried to reach for the officer’s weapon.

“The second time he says, ‘I’ll shoot,’ a second later the gun went off and he let go,” Johnson said. “That’s how we were able to run at the same time. The first car I see, I ducked behind for because I fear for my life. I’m scared. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t understand why this officer is shooting his weapon at us.”

According to Johnson, the officer pursued Brown and fired another shot. which struck Brown in the back. He said Brown turned and faced the officer with his hands raised.

“My friend started to tell the officer that he was unarmed and that he could stop shooting (him),” Johnson said. “Before he could get his second sentence out, the officer fired several more shots into his head and chest area. He fell dramatically into the fatal position. I did not hear once he yell freeze, stop or halt. it was just horrible to watch.”

Unfortunately for the officer who killed Brown, two more witnesses have now come forward. From CNN:

While Michael Brown appeared to tussle with an officer before he was shot dead, he didn’t enter the police cruiser as authorities claim he did, two witnesses told CNN.

The women’s accounts corroborate that of a previous witness, all three of whom said the officer fatally shot the unarmed teen.

Police have said the black 18-year-old died in a dangerous struggle after trying to grab the officer’s weapon. Not so, say the witnesses.

“It looked as if Michael was pushing off and the cop was trying to pull him in,” Tiffany Mitchell told CNN on Wednesday night.

Mitchell had driven to Ferguson to pick up another woman Piaget Crenshaw. The two women witnessed the shooting from two different angles–Mitchell from her car and Crenshaw from a building nearby.

Neither woman, who gave their statements to St. Louis County police, say they saw Brown enter the vehicle.

Instead, a shot went off, then the teen broke free, and the officer got out of the vehicle in pursuit, the women said.

“I saw the police chase him … down the street and shoot him down,” Crenshaw said. Brown ran about 20 feet.

“Michael jerks his body, as if he’s been hit,” Mitchell said.

Then he faced the officer and put his hands in the air, but the officer kept firing, both women said. He sank to the pavement.

The protests in Ferguson, a town in which the population is 2/3 black but the political leadership and police force are overwhelmingly white, are largely driven by the fact that police will not name the shooter or released the results of Brown’s autopsy, despite Missouri’s sunshine law.

August 13, 2014: A device deployed by police goes off in the street as police and protesters clash in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

August 13, 2014: A device deployed by police goes off in the street as police and protesters clash in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

From The New York Times: Anonymity in Missouri Police Shooting Fuels Frustration.

FERGUSON, Mo. — In the five days since an unarmed young black man was fatally shot by a police officer here, the selective release of information about the shooting, and especially the anonymity granted to the officer, has stoked frustrations in this largely African-American community north of St. Louis, where residents describe increasingly tense relations with the police.

The police chief, Thomas Jackson, has repeatedly declined to identify the officer, who has been put on administrative leave. But on Wednesday, the chief did offer a new detail about the shooting, which has kindled nights of racial unrest and an unyielding police response with tear gas, rubber bullets and arrests.

Jackson claims there have been threats against the police officer and he needs protection. So why not simply arrest him for murder and send his family to a safer location? Instead, Wilson called in law enforcement support from St. Louis and enabled an incredible overreaction to largely peaceful protests. From the Times article:

On Wednesday night, scores of police officers in riot gear and in armored trucks showed up to disperse protesters who had gathered on the streets near the scene of the shooting. Some officers perched atop the vehicles with their guns trained on the crowds while protesters chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” A police spokesman said that some demonstrators had thrown Molotov cocktails at officers and that some had tried to set fires. The police used tear gas on demonstrators, and some protesters said rubber bullets had been fired at them. Police said one officer appeared to have suffered a broken ankle after being hit by a brick.

The police made more than 10 arrests. Among those arrested was Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman, who had been documenting the protests on social media, his wife said on Twitter.

Two reporters covering the protests also said they had been arrested inside a McDonald’s for trespassing and later released without charges or an explanation. The reporters, Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post, both said they had been handled roughly by the police.

If you don’t read anything else on the events in Ferguson, read this article and look at the photos.

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More recommended stories:

Mashable: Ferguson or Iraq? Photos Unmask the Militarization of America’s Police.

As America scaled back its presence in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2012, military gear — amphibious tanks, weapons, uniforms and drones — spilled into local police arsenals. In June, an ACLU report warned of the “excessive militarization” of local law enforcement. “This has the effect of terrifying people, destroying communities and actually undermining public safety,” Kara Dansky, ACLU senior counsel, told Mashable in June.

The photos below show the heavily armed Ferguson police officers, dressed in camouflaged uniforms. They are set side-by-side with images of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the photo comparisons below. Which was taken in Ferguson and which in Iraq?

Militarization of Police 02

 

NBC News: Michael Brown Killing: Missouri Governor to Visit as Unrest Grows in Ferguson.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he would visit the St. Louis suburbs Thursday after police fired tear gas to break up crowds in a fourth night of civil unrest over the police killing of an unarmed black teenager.

Sixteen people were arrested, including two reporters, on Wednesday night in the suburb of Ferguson, and police said that two officers were injured, one hit by a brick, NBC affiliate KSDK reported….

Nixon said in a statement that the worsening situation in Ferguson was “deeply troubling.” He canceled a planned visit to the state fair. “While we all respect the solemn responsibility of our law enforcement officers to protect the public, we must also safeguard the rights of Missourians to peaceably assemble and the rights of the press to report on matters of public concern,” he said.

Too little, too late, IMHO.

The Baltimore Sun: Riots in Ferguson and what they mean, by Leonard Pitts.

To believe that this carnage — the windows smashed, the buildings torched, the tear gas wafting — is all about the killing of Michael Brown is to miss the point….

Because, again, this is not just about Brown. It’s about Eric Garner, choked to death in a confrontation with New York City Police. It’s about Jordan Davis, shot to death in Jacksonville, Florida, because he played his music too loud. It’s about Trayvon Martin, shot to death in Sanford, Florida, because a self-appointed neighborhood guardian judged him a thug. It’s about Oscar Grant, shot by a police officer in an Oakland, California, subway station as cellphone cameras watched. It’s about Amadou Diallo, executed in that vestibule and Abner Louima, sodomized with that broomstick. It’s about Rodney King.

And it is about the bitter sense of siege that lives in African-American men, a sense that it is perpetually open season on us.

And that too few people outside of African America really notice, much less care. People who look like you are every day deprived of health, wealth, freedom, opportunity, education, the benefit of the doubt, the presumption of innocence, life itself — and when you try to say this, even when you document it with academic studies and buttress it with witness testimony, people don’t want to hear it, people dismiss you, deny you, lecture you about white victimhood, chastise you for playing a so-called “race card.”

They choke off avenues of protest, prizing silence over justice, mistaking silence for peace. And never mind that sometimes, silence simmers like water in a closed pot on a high flame….the anger we see in Ferguson did not spring from nowhere, nor arrive, fully-formed, when Michael Brown was shot. It is the anger of people who are, as Fannie Lou Hamer famously said, sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Silence imposed on pain cannot indefinitely endure. People who are hurting will always, eventually, make themselves heard.

The only problem with Pitts’ column is that there haven’t been any actual “riots” in Ferguson yet–unless you count what the police are doing as rioting.

Riverfront Times: Watch Police in Ferguson Arrest, Tear Gas Journalists [VIDEO]

Police actions against press seem to be part of the reason Governor Jay Nixon finally decided to cut his Missouri State Fair trip short. The governor says he’ll arrive in St. Louis County Thursday morning to manage what’s increasingly becoming a volatile, violent and devastating time in St. Louis history.

SWAT officers arrested Wesley Lowery, a political reporter at TheWashington Post, and Ryan Reilly, a Huffington Post justice reporter, shortly before 7 p.m. while clearing out a McDonalds near the protests where they were working. The reporters say police asked for their identification and eventually arrested them when they weren’t leaving quickly enough.

The journalists say they were arrested without being read their Miranda writes and eventually released with nothing — no charges, no police report, no names of arresting officers. The Los Angeles Times says police only released them after their reporter alerted the chief of Ferguson Police (His response: “Oh, god,”), who then called St. Louis County Police.

Late last night, police in Ferguson also tried to order the media to shut off their cameras, and they attacked journalists from Al Jazeera and confiscated their equipment. 

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill decided last night that it was time for her to take some action, since Governor Nixon wasn’t doing it. She will meet with Eric Holder today to discuss the Ferguson situation.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) says she has a phone call planned with Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday to discuss the situation in Ferguson, Mo., where an apparently unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a police officer last weekend.

Amid clashes in the St. Louis suburb Wednesday night, the senator tweeted that she’s been working the phones to try to deescalate the “tense and unacceptable situation.” ….

Holder and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett briefed President Obama Wednesday and the president will receive another briefing Thursday.

I’ll have to end there, because this post is getting way too long. I’ll post more important links in the comments. I’ll leave it to you Sky Dancers to update me on the rest of the news. I’ve been too focuses on Ferguson to pay attention to anything else. See you in the comment thread.


Saturday Reads, Summer Solstice Edition: Dreaming of a Woman President, and Other News

Hillary

Good Morning and Happy Summer Solstice!!

Hillary is in the news this morning, so I thought I’d begin with her latest public remarks on the presidency. Claire McCaskill kicked off the Hillary talk on Tuesday when she said she was supporting a new superpac called Ready for Hillary.

“Hillary Clinton had to give up her political operation while she was making us proud, representing us around the world as an incredible Secretary of State, and that’s why Ready for Hillary is so critical,” McCaskill said in a statement released by the group. “It’s important that we start early, building a grassroots army from the ground up, and effectively using the tools of the Internet –- all things that President Obama did so successfully –- so that if Hillary does decide to run, we’ll be ready to help her win.”

McCaskill was one of the female Senators who abandoned Hillary to jump on the Obama bandwagon in 2008. Hillary gave her call after the announcement of support.

An early endorsement this week for a 2016 presidential run by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton merited a phone call from the potential candidate, according to Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Clinton made the call after the senator’s Tuesday announcement that she was endorsing a political action committee pushing a presidential run.

“She did call me after this all happened the other day,” the Missouri Democrat said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We had a great conversation. I’m not going to talk about what we said. But I think she’s got a big decision to make and I think she’s in the process of making it.”

McCaskill called the endorsement of Clinton an easy decision. “She is by far the strongest, most capable, most qualified candidate for President of the United States,” she said. “I am part of a lot of group of people, big huge group of people, that really wants her to run. And it seemed like coming out publicly and stating the obvious, that we all want her to run, was an important thing to do right now.”

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Naturally, the corporate media is *concerned* about Hillary’s ambitions. The Washington Post sees “worries” for her in the new superpac.

The upstart super PAC, called Ready for Hillary, is fast emerging as the quasi-official stand-in for potential 2016 presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton, scooping up advisers and gathering big donations more than three years ahead of election time.

But the group is also making some advisers in Clinton’s orbit decidedly nervous about its potential impact on her own efforts, which for now consist of philanthropic pursuits and remaining mum on a presidential bid. Some allies also fear a repeat of 2008, when an assumed air of inevitability contributed to Clinton’s loss to fresh-faced challenger Barack Obama….

“It’s hard to even know what’s what any more,” said John Morgan, an Orlando lawyer who served on Bill Clinton’s 1996 national finance committee. “It’s become a cottage industry. It’s like, ‘Who are you?’ Just because you put the name ‘Hillary’ at the end of your PAC — it could be a bait and switch. I want to make sure I can get the biggest bang for my buck.”

Ready for Hillary — launched in January by Clinton boosters Adam Parkhomenko and Allida Black — is getting help from a number of veterans from Hillary and Bill Clinton’s political operation. Former Bill Clinton strategist Harold Ickes, former Clinton White House political director Craig Smith and former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Jim Lamb are advising the group on strategy, while longtime confidant James Carville recently sent out a fundraising solicitation under his name.

Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton poses with Jaden Szigeti, 9, for a snapshot before speaking to 5,000 at the Metro Convention Centre. (Toronto Star)

Former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton poses with Jaden Szigeti, 9, for a snapshot before speaking to 5,000 at the Metro Convention Centre. (Toronto Star)

So what does Hillary herself have to say? Well she made a speech at the “Unique Lives and Experiences” conference in Toronto on Thursday, and she expressed a desire that many American women share. She wants to see a woman president in her lifetime. From Politico:

“Let me say this, hypothetically speaking, I really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime,” Clinton said in Toronto, before a women-centered event Thursday. “And whether it’s next time or the next time after that, it really depends on women stepping up and subjecting themselves to the political process, which is very difficult.”

She added that President Barack Obama’s election was historic, and said, “I hope that we will see a woman elected because I think it would send exactly the right historic signal to girls, women as well as boys and men. And I will certainly vote for the right woman to be president.” [….]

Friends and supporters of Clinton say she is genuinely undecided about whether to run again, even if some of the moves she is making now, immersing herself in domestic policy on issues affecting women and children that have been the core of her life’s work, would certainly be helpful if she launches another national campaign.
Yet that argument — the historic nature of a female president, combined with a pent-up desire among women voters to break that barrier — is the one most often espoused by Clinton backers.

Here’s the video that was posted to YouTube after the event.

In an “intimate” setting with 5,000 other people, Hillary reminisced about her life:

In a verbal stroll through her life, Clinton mentioned her mother’s difficult early years as an abandoned and mistreated child, she recalled the first time she ever heard the voice of her husband, former president Bill Clinton, back when he was a student, drawling about “the size of watermelons” in Arkansas. She mentioned the “extraordinary sense of anxiety” that she and every other American felt after the attacks of Sept. 11.

And she spoke candidly about how she had learned to cope with sexist attacks and snippy criticism about her hair, her clothes and all the things that don’t really define her.

“My attitude is different than it was 20 years ago,” she said. “I don’t care.”
The crowd clapped its approval.

“I learned to take criticism seriously but not personally” Clinton told her audience.

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She is amazing. I so miss her as Secretary of State. In contrast John Kerry is so boring that he’s already become almost invisible. With Hillary as SOS, there were frequent stories about her travels with photos of her colorful outfits. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have her engaging personality, not to mention her valuable experience and brilliant mind in the White House?

In other news…

The news broke yesterday that Edward Snowden has been charged with three felonies. Most media outlets are reporting that has been charged with espionage, but so far that hasn’t been specifically stated by the government. From Politico:

Snowden was charged with conveying classified information to an unauthorized party, disclosing communications intelligence information, and theft of government property.

The charges, which can carry a penalty of up to ten years in prison on each count, were filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va., last Friday….

The charges were first reported Friday evening by the Washington Post, which said the complaint against Snowden was sealed. It’s not immediately clear whether the charges were unsealed before or after the Post report.
A Justice Department official confirmed Friday evening that a complaint was filed in the case, but declined further comment on the matter.

The Washington Post reported this morning that the charges were conveyed to Hong Kong authorities a week ago, but so far they seem to be dragging their feet about arresting Snowden.

The reason for the hold-up is unclear. There could be delays in the legal process for issuing the warrant. Or, officials may still be looking for Snowden, who is believed to be in Hong Kong but could also have found a way to leave the semiautonomous region.

The U.S. government asked Hong Kong to detain Snowden on a provisional arrest warrant June 14, the same day it filed criminal charges against him, including theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.”

Under an extradition treaty between Hong Kong and the United States, a provisional warrant, as opposed to a regular one, is a faster way to detain suspected criminals since it does not require the initial approval of Hong Kong’s leader, currently Leung Chun-ying.

Instead, a judge can issue the warrant immediately. Simon Young, a legal professor at the University of Hong Kong said this means a warrant for Snowden’s arrest in theory could have been made as early as June 14, more than a week ago.

The Supreme Court justices are taking their own sweet time in announcing the most important decisions of this SCOTUS session. At The Daily Beast, Richard L. Hasan asks “What’s Taking the Supreme Court So Long?”

With everyone anxiously awaiting potentially blockbuster decisions on issues fromaffirmative action to voting rights to same-sex marriage, it is easy to criticize the Supreme Court for being too slow.

After all, Fisher, the affirmative-action case involving the University of Texas, was argued in Supreme Court back in October. By historical standards, the court is deciding very few cases: it issued 167 with opinions in the 1981 term, but is expected to decide only 77 this term. Why save all of the big calls for the end? Are the justices trying to create maximum suspense to get more attention?

These criticisms fundamentally misunderstand both the modern Supreme Court’s mission and the psychology of the justices. There may be a lot of reasons to criticize the court, but the end-of-the-term crunch is not one of them.Consider first the Supreme Court’s mission. Justices are unlike legislators, who simply vote to express their preferences. Justices are expected to give reasons for their decisions. Further, the court on some of the toughest questions is divided along strong ideological lines. For example, a majority opinion from a conservative justice can generate a dissenting opinion from a liberal justice. The dissenting justice won’t just say “I disagree,” but will offer reasons—reasons that the dissenting justice writes not only for history but in the hopes that one day a majority of justices will change their minds and adopt the dissenting view in a majority opinion. Both a majority and dissenting opinions will be circulated within the court, and each opinion will be modified numerous times to respond to the arguments of the other side, and to respond to the concerns of other justices who may join one or more of the opinions. Sometimes a justice will agree with the result but not with the reasoning of an opinion, and that justice will write separately, prompting another round of revisions.

We’re still waiting for decisions on 11 more cases, and those could be announced this week. It should be interesting.

Finally, today is the summer solstice, and people the world over celebrated the beginning of summer. Read about it at the the WaPo: Summer solstice observed at Times Square, Stonehenge, in D.C.

And tomorrow a unusual celestial even will take place, according to the Sydney Morning Herald: A Supermoon, when ‘people turn into lunatics’

ONLY ONCE a year Earth, Moon and Sun line up to create the perfect conditions for a so called ‘Supermoon’.
According to popular folklore, this is the time when “people turn into lunatics”, ships run aground and earthquakes rattle our planet.

According to NASA , it is the best opportunity to get a good look at Earth’s rocky satellite.
The distance between Earth and Moon varies between about 357,000km and 406,000km throughout the year, and depends on the moon’s elliptical orbit around Earth.

When the moon is on its farthest position from the earth, it is called Apogee while the closest encounter is named Perigee.

About once a year a full Moon occurs during the Perigee orbit, resulting in a 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter appearance.

Right wing nuts should stay indoors and avoid looking at the sky. They’re already lunatics; we don’t need them to go completely around the bend.

Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about on this first day of summer?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I have a potpourri of great reads for you this morning, so let’s get started.

First up, people in the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy have barely begun to recover. CBS News/AP report that: The scale of post-Sandy challenge in NY, NJ is unprecedented.

Two major airports reopened and the New York Stock Exchange got back to business Wednesday, while across the river in New Jersey, National Guardsmen rushed to feed and rescue flood victims two days aftersuperstorm Sandy struck.

For the first time since the storm slammed the Northeast, killing at least 63 people and inflicting billions of dollars in damage, brilliant sunshine washed over the nation’s largest city — a striking sight after days of gray skies, rain and wind. The light gave officials and residents a true glimpse of destruction on a scale that the region has never seen before.

At the stock exchange, running on generator power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders on the floor. Trading resumed after the first two-day weather shutdown since the Blizzard of 1888.

New York’s subway system was still down, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said parts of it will begin running again on Thursday. And he said some commuter rail service between the city and its suburbs would resume on Wednesday afternoon.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie and his new BFF Barack Obama toured the devastation. From The New York Times: An Unlikely Political Pair, United by a Disaster.

President Obama toured the storm-tossed boardwalks of New Jersey’s ravaged coastline on Wednesday, in a vivid display of big-government muscle and bipartisan harmony that confronted Mitt Romney with a vexing challenge just as he returned to the campaign trail in Florida.

The scene of Mr. Obama greeting his onetime political antagonist Gov. Chris Christie in Atlantic City was a striking departure from what has become an increasingly bitter campaign, marked by sharp divisions between Mr. Romney’s more limited view of the federal role and Mr. Obama’s more expansive vision. The president placed a hand on Mr. Christie’s back and guided him to Marine One, where the two men shared a grim flight over shattered sea walls, burning houses and a submerged roller coaster.

Speaking to storm victims at a community center in the hard-hit town of Brigantine, Mr. Obama said, “We are going to be here for the long haul.” Mr. Christie thanked the president for his visit, saying, “It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey.”

The tableau of bipartisan cooperation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s highly visible role in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, has put Mr. Romney in an awkward position…

As for Mitt Romney, he was getting hammered by the media in Ohio for two ads in which he falsely implied that Chrysler and GM were planning to ship American jobs to China. It looks to me as if Romney has given up the ghost in Ohio, because he headed to Florida yesterday, where a new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading by one point.

And last night the NYT editorial board slammed Romney for “cross[ing] a red line.”

When General Motors tells a presidential campaign that it is engaging in “cynical campaign politics at its worst,” that’s a pretty good signal that the campaign has crossed a red line and ought to pull back. Not Mitt Romney’s campaign. Having broadcast an outrageously deceitful ad attacking the auto bailout, the campaign ignored the howls from carmakers and came back with more.

Mr. Romney apparently plans to end his race as he began it: playing lowest-common-denominator politics, saying anything necessary to achieve power and blithely deceiving voters desperate for clarity and truth.

I think Romney may have finally sunk his campaign with those lying ads about the auto bailout. I wonder if that has contributed to polls that show Obama widening his leads in Michigan and Wisconsin?

In the Nebraska Senate Race, Bob Kerrey has been moving up in the polls, and last night Omaha.com broke some exciting news that could put him over the top: Chuck Hagel to endorse Bob Kerrey.

A spokesman with Kerrey’s campaign says Hagel – a former Nebraska U.S. Senator and a Republican – will back Kerrey in his race against Republican Deb Fischer.

Hagel’s endorsement comes as polls have shown the race between Kerrey and Fischer tightening down the home stretch.

Hagel’s backing could go a long way with independents. And, it clearly underscores Kerrey’s contention that he is the person in the race who can win Republican and Democratic support.

If Kerry, Claire McCaskill, Tammy Baldwin, and Elizabeth Warren, and perhaps Joe Donnelly can win their races, the Democrats should at least hold their majority in the Senate.

In Massachusetts, Liz Warren began making her final arguments.

As both Massachusetts Senate candidates deliver their final messages to voters, Warren is drawing on one major advantage she has in the state: demographics. According to the Secretary of State, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Massachusetts by a more than a three to one margin. As the race remains close, Warren and her supporters are using a partisan argument to rally the Democratic base, and encourage activists to turn out the vote on Warren’s behalf. Elect Brown, Warren and her supporters argue, and Republicans will control the U.S. Senate.

Introducing Warren to a crowd of volunteers and activists at Warren’s Haverhill field office on Wednesday, Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said he came from a Halloween party. “Everyone was dressed up in really scary costumes, so I was going to dress up as (Republican Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” he said, to laughter. “Because can you think of anything scarier than (Republican House Speaker) John Boehner in the House of Representatives or Mitch McConnell in the Senate?”

“There’s only one vote that counts and that’s the vote about which party is going to control the United States Senate,” Fiorentini continued. “We know which way Scott Brown is going to vote.”

Warren also released a great new ad that may serve as a closing argument: For All Our Families.

Right now in Indiana Joe Donnelly is leading Richard Mourdock by 7 percentage points.

I’ll end with a couple of powerful long reads.

From Truthout: What Does Romney’s Campaign of Lies Say About Our Country? Here’s the first paragraph:

Last week Mitt Romney delivered possibly the most dishonest presidential campaign speech in American history. It contains lie after lie, distortion after distortion, and trick after trick. The fact that a person capable of giving such a speech has reached this level suggests that it may be too late to salvage the country. Our institutions may be corrupted beyond repair.

Please check it out.

At Alternet, Matthew Fleisher writes: Why I Infiltrated One of the Most Secretive and Powerful Republican Organizations in the Country. This one is really long, but well worth reading. Here’s the teaser:

The Lincoln Club is the real deal. And if they have their way, Citizens United is just the beginning of their political ambitions for the country.

That’s it for me. I hope you found something to your liking. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Fall is here, and suddenly, I find myself seeking out foods made with pumpkin, like pumpkin-apple muffins. I’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte, but I’m thinking of trying one. I found a recipe for pumpkin syrup on line.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups water
1½ cups sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
3 tbsp. pumpkin puree

DIRECTIONS

Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Toss in the cinnamon sticks and whisk in the remaining spices and the pumpkin puree. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, without letting the mixture come to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and store in your container of choice. Store in the refrigerator. Make sure that your refrigerator is working properly for preserving purposes. If not, you can look for refrigeration repair kingsport tn services online.

To make a pumpkin spice latte, combine 2 ounces of hot coffee or 1 shot of hot espresso (about 1-1½ ounces) with 5-6 ounces of steamed low-fat milk. Stir in 1½-2 tablespoons of the pumpkin spice syrup. Taste and adjust amounts accordingly. Top as desired with freshly whipped cream, ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce (optional – sort of).

I’ve also heard that pumpkin oatmeal is really good. I’m might try that with the leftovers. Now, let’s see what’s in the news this morning.

Yesterday, I posted about Romney’s crass exploitation of the death of former Navy Seal Glen Doherty in the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Last night I learned that Doherty was active in the fight to prevent right-wing fundamentalists from completely taking over the U.S. military. Mikey Weinstein, who has fought the good fight for years, wrote about it at Huffington Post.

I had the extreme good fortune, honor and privilege to work alongside Glen for years as a longtime member of the Advisory Board of the four-time, Nobel Peace Prize-nominated, civil rights charitable organization I founded and currently serve as president of called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). We currently are assisting over 30,000 American military personnel fighting against Christian fundamentalist religious extremism in our own armed forces. Glen selflessly served as a passionate, ’round-the-clock’ supporter of MRFF based on his fervent belief in its mission to protect the secular nature of the U.S. Military and the imperative this secular nature has to our national security. Separation of church and state in the United States military was not a trivial matter for Glen. It was his mantra.

Based upon our profound, mutual working experiences with MRFF, I’m truly fascinated about what Mitt Romney actually “learned about him”. During his chance meeting with Glen at that Christmas party a few years ago, did candidate Romney learn about his close personal and professional relationship with MRFF? Other fascinating learning opportunities for Mr. Romney regarding Glen’s deep support of and belief in MRFF and what we stand for may have revealed to him some very “uncomfortable” facts about the life of this true American Hero.

Please click the link and read the list of initiatives that Doherty supported. Of Romney’s shameful use of Doherty’s story for political purposes, Weinstein writes:

As informed citizens of the United States, we are all too aware of the rampant grandiose hyperbole generated as a result of our political campaigns. This absolutely disgusting, opportunistic travesty however was so much more, and so much lower, than the usual political ‘pablum’ that courses through our normal campaign emissions. This “performance” was simply naked and shameful exploitation of the life and memory of an actual American Hero. Romney did not “know” Glen. His insinuation that he somehow had a connection to Glen is disingenuous at best and a naked lie at worst. It is bold and bald untruthfulness. As Alfred Tennyson said, “A lie that is half truth is the darkest of all lies.” A timely and heartfelt apology is truly in order here.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Warren-Brown debate last night, but I read a good review of it at Dailykos by Joan McCarter. Apparently the moderator this time wasn’t an idiot.

What a refreshing Massachusetts Senate debate. From the beginning, when moderator Jim Madigan (thank you WGBY and public television), announced that the questions would be from and based on what the public had sent in, there was hope. When the first question was not about Elizabeth Warren’s heritage, but instead about unemployment and job creation, you knew we were in for a debate of substance.

Without that initial attack on Warren to set Brown up, he came off a little discombobulated. Brown was often scattered, incoherent, and thrown off by the time clock, resorting to mixing all his talking points on “bipartisan” and “job creators” into a mish-mash of word salad when he found himself with extra time. That was regardless of the question asked of him. He also failed in controlling the nasty, taking several cheap shots at “Professor” Warren, including blaming her salary and benefits as a Harvard professor for the spiraling costs of higher education.

This debate featured a far more Republican-sounding Brown that any of the previous debates. He railed about tax hikes, on his fealty to Grover Norquist, on the job-killing Obamacare. It was a bizarre juxtaposition to see the guy the tea party was so excited to get elected in 2010 and the “second-most bipartisan senator” fighting for the same brain. The results were bad for Brown.

Read the rest at the link. I’m still glad I didn’t watch it. Watching Paul Ryan tonight will be bad enough for one week.

In another hard-fought Senate race in Missouri, Claire McCaskill has released three new ads in her battle with Todd Akin. Each ad features a rape survivor talking about Akin’s anti-woman policies. Here’s one of the ads:

You can watch the other two ads at the above link.

There’s another terrific war-on-woman ad released by Deb Butler, a Democrat running for the North Carolina state senate. The ad features a transvaginal probe.

North Carolina state Senate candidate Deb Butler has released a new ad that slams Republican incumbent Thom Goolsby for supporting anti-abortion legislation.

“He wouldn’t dare show you this, but this is Thom Goolsby’s contribution to women’s health,” Butler says in the ad, holding a trans-vaginal ultrasound wand. “A medically unnecessary and invasive procedure that is now required by state law. He promised us his first priority would be jobs, but instead he’s following us into the doctor’s office.”

The New York Times offers Trip Gabriel’s Six Things to Watch for in the Biden-Ryan Debate. Gabriel predicts:

1. Biden will hit Ryan (and Romney) with everything he’s got.

Expect Mr. Biden, who is able to deliver cutting sarcasm without seeming angry, to continue to make up for Mr. Obama’s passivity at the first debate by accusing Mr. Romney of dissembling about long-held policies.

2. Biden will attack the Ryan budget.

Republicans and Democrats both rejoiced when Mr. Romney picked Mr. Ryan because the ticket was married to Mr. Ryan’s audacious House budgets with deep cuts in federal spending.

Although the budget, which Mr. Romney has largely endorsed, does not specify how programs will be cut, Mr. Biden will happily fill in the blanks by saying that an equal, across-the-board cut would mean eliminating 38,000 teachers and dropping 200,000 children from Head Start.

The remaining issues are Medicare cuts, the fiscal cliff, foreign affairs, and possible gaffes, especially by Biden. Of course we’ll have a live blog of the debate tonight.

The Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear a suit against telcoms who received immunity for spying on American citizens.

The Supreme Court has ended a 6-year-old class-action lawsuit against the nation’s telecommunications carriers for secretly helping the National Security Agency monitor phone calls and emails coming into and out of this country.

The suit was dealt a death blow in 2008 when Congress granted retroactive immunity to people or companies aiding U.S. intelligence agents.

Without comment, the justices turned down appeals from civil liberties advocates who contended this mass surveillance was unconstitutional and illegal.

This month the justices are set to hear a separate case to decide whether NSA officials can be sued for authorizing this allegedly unconstitutional mass wiretapping.

That should be enough to get some discussion started. Now what are you reading and blogging about?


Evening Reads: No Comment

Good Evening

For tonight I have just a few links, I will refrain from commenting because even getting a link right is difficult today.

George Zimmerman’s brother to Trayvon Martin’s lawyer: ‘You ain’t seen nothin’ yet’

The tweets this guy is sending are something else, give those a quick look.

Two links on ads being run for Democrats:

Claire McCaskill’s Brutal New Ads From Rape Survivors

NC Candidate Prominently Feature Vaginal Probe In New Ad

And..an update for you: Arkansas GOP rep Jon Hubbard stands by pro-slavery comments

Finally, BAR has new articles up…just go to the website and read them. Black Agenda Report | News, analysis and commentary from the black left

This is an open thread, have a good night.


Afternoon Open Thread: Senate Candidate Rep. Todd Akin Pontificates on Libya and President Obama

Raw Story:

Embattled Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) on Wednesday reacted to the death of a U.S. ambassador in Libya by accusing President Barack Obama of not liking the very country he is leading….

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday had used the death of Stevens to score political points by accusing Obama of “sympathizing” with the enemy after the U.S. embassy in Libya released a statement condemning the anti-Muslim film.

“First of all, apologizing to all people, [to] a lot of countries who are enemies, and apologizing to them and everything,” Akin said during a campaign stop in Kansas City, according to KMBC. “You know, if we did something wrong that’s one thing, but he’s just apologizing because he didn’t like America? I think that’s the wrong thing to do.”

This ignoramus and others like him are making life and death decisions that affect all of us. And the reporter doesn’t even explain that Obama didn’t “apologize” for anything or express dislike for the United States.

Stop the world, I wanna get off!


Missouri Republican Candidate for US Senate: “Legitimate Rape” Victims Don’t Get Pregnant.

Todd Akin

Where does the Tea Party find these freakazoids? Missouri Representative Todd Akin is the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, running against current Senator Claire McCaskill. This insane, anti-science knuckle-dragger claims that if a rape is “legitimate,” a woman’s body can magically prevent pregnancy. And he claims he got his information from doctors!

Today Akin appeared on a local St. Louis TV show, The Jaco Report. The host, Chris Jaco asked him if there were any circumstances under which Akin believes abortion would be acceptable. In response Akin went into a bizarre dissertation about how Americans’ believe in the value of life is what makes this country great. For example, look at the firefighters who rescued people on 9/11 and didn’t even ask for their IDs. And then there are the American soldiers who were willing to rescue wounded people–even if they were only Iraqis.

Finally, Jaco broke in and pressed Akin on the abortion question. Akin said he thought abortion should be allowed in the case of a tubal pregnancy where the child could not survive, if the woman’s life were in danger. But not in cases of rape:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin said that even in the worst-case scenario — when the supposed natural protections against unwanted pregnancy fail — abortion should still not be a legal option for the rape victim.

“Let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something,” Akin said. “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Here’s the video:

According to TPM,

A 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found “rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency” and is “a cause of many unwanted pregnancies” — an estimated “32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year.”

Naturally, this isn’t the only strange idea Akin has about rape and women’s behavior. TPM learned that in 1991, Akin opposed a law against marital rape because “it might be misused ‘in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband,’ according to a May 1 article that year in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.”

Eventually, Akin was apparently pressured into voting for the bill. Akin also thinks the morning after pill is a “form of abortion,” and wants it banned.

Right now Akin is leading McCaskill by several points in the Missouri Senate race.