It’s coming up on the weekend here in Louisiana and we will be voting for Governor tomorrow. It really, really looks like we will have a Blue Dog Democrat for governor. The polls are consistently showing Senator David Vitter losing the race. You can tell how badly Vitter’s doing by the way his ads have gotten increasingly shameful on so many levels. They are full of lies, distortion, racism, and hate. A number of Republicans from Vitter’s home parish and congressional district have come out in support of his Democratic opponent John Bel Edwards. Edwards is not my idea of a Democratic candidate, but I’m firmly in the any one but Vitter column. I will go to the polls tomorrow. The fact that Louisiana could be creeping back into the purple state category should be a lesson for many. The fact the vitriol is not working should also. Bel Edwards is dishing it right back out to him with a cherry on top.
Edwards is a Democrat, Vitter a Republican, and both are Catholics in a state with a strong evangelical presence—and a state that thrives on politics as blood sport. The central issue in this election campaign is a 2007 prostitution scandal that Vitter thought he had put behind him.
This election has become the dirtiest slug fest since the 1991 “race from hell” when Edwin Edwards (no kin to John Bel), though trailed by corruption scandals, won a record fourth term, crushing David Duke, the former Klan leader and closet Nazi. Both men later went to prison. Duke for mail fraud, Edwards for extortion tied to casino licenses. Such are the vagaries of democracy in the Bayou State.
The pivotal question this year is whether Edwards’s growing lead is a purely anti-Vitter phenomenon—and whether the senator is capable of reversing it. Vitter does possess samurai-level skills in slash-attack politics.
But a November 12 University of New Orleans (UNO) poll has Edwards at 54 percent, with a 22 point lead, gaining two points since the Tuesday debate.
A larger question looms: If the margin holds, does the Edwards surge signal a sputtering of the Republican Southern strategy that exploits racial division by demonizing President Obama?
Either way, if Edwards wins big, you can bet the car that Hillary Rodham Clinton will try to make him her new best friend.
A lawyer and West Point graduate who frequently cites the military academy’s honor code and touts himself as “pro-life and pro-gun,” Edwards is a blue dog Democrat—one of the last of the centrist-conservative Democrats, blue dogs being an endangered species in Congress and nearly extinct in statewide offices across the beef red South. But there is nothing cookie-cutter about Edwards’s views: Since taking his seat in the state legislature in 2006 and particularly since 2012, when he became state House minority leader, Edwards has spearheaded the opposition to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s deep cuts to higher education and his refusal to take Medicaid funds under Obamacare—to no avail.
The state race isn’t the only one where lies, distortion, racism, and vitriol is rampant. Donald Trump’s rhetoric is just the most overt example of
what’s left in the Republican Party. His suggestion to keep a federal register of Muslims in the U.S. is rightly drawing comparisons to the registrations of Jewish populations in Hitler’s NAZI Germany. I’m not one to appreciate the tendency of folks to Godwin but Trump has clearly jumped into the fascism part of the political spectrum and should be shamed. Hillary tweeted condemnation of Trump’s suggestion yesterday and characterized his rhetoric as “shocking”. She was joined by the other Democrats in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
Hillary Clinton condemned Donald Trump’s call to require Muslims to register in a database, calling his idea “shocking.”
“This is shocking rhetoric. It should be denounced by all seeking to lead this country. –H,” she tweeted, linking to a New York Times story, quoting Trump as saying he’d “absolutely” require Muslims to do so.
In an interview with NBC news Thursday night, Trump was asked to clarify comments he had made to Yahoo News, saying he would not rule out such a registry for Muslims if he were president.
“Should there be a database system that tracks the Muslims in this country?” an NBC reporter asked Trump at an event in Newton, Iowa.
“There should be a lot of systems. Beyond database, we should have a lot of systems. And today, you can do it,” Trump said. “I would certainly implement that — absolutely.”
He said the database would stop people from coming into the United States illegally. And he could accomplish it with “good management procedures,” he said.
The other two Democratic presidential candidates also rebuked Trump.
Bernie Sanders called the statement “outrageous and bigoted.”
“What an outrageous and bigoted statement. @realDonaldTrump should be ashamed of himself,” the Vermont senator tweeted.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley addressed Trump’s comments Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“When you hear people like Donald Trump talking about wanting to do ID cards based on religion, what the hell is that? I mean, how is that at all American?” he asked.
Even Texas whackadoo Ted Cruz rejected the idea. Cruz may be getting a whiff of doom for the Donald.
Ted Cruz on Friday disavowed Donald Trump’s support for requiring American Muslims register as such, a rare public break with the current GOP frontrunner.
“I’m a big fan of Donald Trump’s but I’m not a fan of government registries of American citizens,” he told reporters of a plan Trump said he backed a day earlier. “The First Amendment protects religious liberty, I’ve spent the past several decades defending religious liberty.”
Marco Rubio, however, has adopted similar over-the-top xenophobic and unconstitutional policy calling for a shut down of any place where Muslims might gather and be inspired. This leaves Jeb Bush as the voice of reason in the little tent of horror.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) seems to be going further than even Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in advocating the crackdown of U.S. Muslims. He doesn’t just want to consider shutting down mosques, as Trump says, but wants to shut down “any place where radicals are being inspired.”
“It’s not about closing down mosques. It’s about closing down any place — whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site — any place where radicals are being inspired,” Rubio said on Fox News’ The Kelly File on Thursday night when asked if he agreed with Trump. “The bigger problem we have is our inability to find out where these places are, because we’ve crippled our intelligence programs, both through unauthorized disclosures by a traitor, in Edward Snowden, or by some of the things this president has put in place with the support even of some from my own party to diminish our intelligence capabilities.”
“So whatever facility is being used — it’s not just a mosque — any facility that’s being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States, should be a place that we look at,” he continued.
Trump first articulated potentially shutting down U.S. mosques on Monday during a call in to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, when hosts asked if he would consider doing the same thing France did and shut down U.S. mosques with direct terrorist ties. Trump said he would “strongly consider” it, then lamented NYPD shutting down its domestic surveillance program targeting Muslims in New York City. Later this week he suggested the U.S. would “absolutely” create a federal database of Muslimsif he were elected president.
Both Trump and Rubio could be putting forth these ideas because polling suggests that limiting rights of Muslims is popular with Republican voters. A poll released this week found that 25 percent of Rubio supporters liked the idea of shutting down U.S. mosques.
Meanwhile establishment candidate Jeb Bush has resisted targeting of U.S. mosques: “You talk about closing mosques, you talk about registering people, that’s just wrong …. it’s manipulating people’s angst and their fears. That’s not strength. That’s weakness.”
These are typical chicken hawks. They speak of bombing everything in sight and the run in fear of widows and orphans and healthcare workerstending to the Ebola stricken. Paul Krugman is quick to point to the right wing’s tendency to panic under infinitesimally small odds of bad things. His op ed today is focused on the Erick Erickson who is very high on my list of worst human being on the planet.
The French themselves are making a point of staying calm, indeed of going out to cafes to show that they refuse to be intimidated. But Mr. Erickson declared on his website that he won’t be going to see the new “Star Wars” movie on opening day, because “there are no metal detectors at American theaters.”
Lightsabers aside, are Mr. Erickson’s fears any sillier than those of the dozens of governors — almost all Republicans — who want to ban Syrian refugees from their states?
Mr. Obama certainly thinks they’re being ridiculous; he mocked politicians who claim that they’re so tough that they could stare down America’s enemies, but are “scared of widows and orphans.” (He was probably talking in particular about Chris Christie, who has said that he even wants to ban young children.) Again, the contrast with France, where President François Hollande has reaffirmed the nation’s willingness to take in refugees, is striking.
I didn’t hear similar rhetoric when folks in a theatre were shot up and many murdered in either Colorado or Louisiana. I just read calls for more armed citizens to join in the shoot ups. But, Krugman believes the paranoia is part and parcel of their basic reaction to what goes on framed in terms of an Obama Presidency. As mentioned in the Vitter-Edwards fight above, Republics seem to connect every little bad thing to the President and state it in completely hyped up terms. Connecting Mary Landrieu to Obama certainly worked in the negative Louisiana Senatorial race last year.
What explains the modern right’s propensity for panic? Part of it, no doubt, is the familiar point that many bullies are also cowards. But I think it’s also linked to the apocalyptic mind-set that has developed among Republicans during the Obama years.
Think about it. From the day Mr. Obama took office, his political foes have warned about imminent catastrophe. Fiscal crisis! Hyperinflation! Economic collapse, brought on by the scourge of health insurance! And nobody on the right dares point out the failure of the promised disasters to materialize, or suggest a more nuanced approach.
Given this context, it’s only natural that the right would seize on a terrorist attack in France as proof that Mr. Obama has left America undefended and vulnerable. Ted Cruz, who has a real chance of becoming the Republican nominee, goes so far as to declare that the president “does not wish to defend this country.”
The context also explains why Beltway insiders were so foolish when they imagined that the Paris attacks would deflate Donald Trump’s candidacy, that Republican voters would turn to establishment candidates who are serious about national security.
Who, exactly, are these serious candidates? And why would the establishment, which has spent years encouraging the base to indulge its fears and reject nuance, now expect that base to understand the difference between tough talk and actual effectiveness?
Sure enough, polling since the Paris attack suggests that Mr. Trump has actually gained ground.
The point is that at this point panic is what the right is all about, and the Republican nomination will go to whoever can most effectively channel that panic. Will the same hold true in the general election?
The fact that all of the Paris bombers were European nationals is completely ignored by the right wing media. I grew up in a a hell hole of backwardness called Omaha, Nebraska. Most of the folks that I know that basically never left or moved into neighboring hellholes are putting up some of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen including linking refugees to the Fort Hood Shooter who was born in Virginia. I also actually had some one point out to me that if we didn’t stop the Syrian refugees we might go the way of Native Americans when the Colonists came over. I’ve never seen such an level of panic that people appear to have left any sense of proportion in a gutter somewhere. It seems worse than the Ebola hysteria of a few years ago.
We’ve had an attack today on a Western Hotel in Malia. Additionally, there have been recent attacks in Kenya and Lebanon that appear to be Isis-inspired and possibly planned. I can understand being extremely careful in places like this. How do these events or events in Paris translate to being paranoid in small towns in the middle of the country where even most Americans wouldn’t and don’t want to live? We’ve had plenty of pressers by NYC officials–NYC is definitely always a potential terrorist target–and they’re doing their usual thing and not particularly worried.
What should be worrying is the weird attraction of any extremist philosophy–including fundamentalist religions of all types–to young people. What is it that is causing many young people to feel so disenfranchised from the mainstream they hook up with cults? This has always been a challenge in the developed world.
You may want to spend some time with a profile at the Daily Mail on the female jihadi killed in St.-Denis. People who do not live countries with abject poverty and little opportunity for education and economic advancement are less of a concern than our homemade terrorists. This includes folks drawn to white supremacy as well as the violent jihadi mentality.
The woman killed in the Saint-Denis siege was a party animal with a string of boyfriends who had shown no interest in religion, it emerged today.
Hasna Ait Boulahcen, 26, was blown to bits when a second unnamed terrorist detonated a bomb after anti-terror police closed in on the safehouse where she was hiding with her cousin, the mastermind of the Paris attacks.
Just a day after her death, family and acquaintances gave extraordinary accounts of a young woman with a ‘bad reputation’ who was known for her love of alcohol and cigarettes rather than devotion to Islam.
Her brother Youssouf Ait Boulahcen said that she had had no interest in religion, never read the Koran and had only started wearing a Muslim veil a month ago.
A photograph has also emerged of Ait Boulahcen posing for a selfie in the bath. Her face is covered in heavy make-up and she wears nothing but jewellery.
She’s not exactly the posterchild for your basic practicing cafeteria Muslim let alone a Jihadi. What on earth happened to flip her?
Home grown white male christian extremists are far more of a danger here in this country yet, law enforcement has to keep its concerns underwrap for fear of inciting a Fox Nation backlash. The NRA isn’t concerned about any terrorist, felon, or mentally ill person getting access to an arsenal. How do we explain right wing paranoia in light of that? In this country, toddlers kill more people that radical jihadists.
All I know is that I’m very sick and tired of this racist, hateful, unconstitutional and down right UnAmerican response to the latest panic from the right. A few years ago it was stopping all flights from an entire continent. Now, it’s stopping refugees from one single country that’s in the middle of a civil war.
It’s ridiculous and it’s unbecoming.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
It appears I’m back on line after five days of utility hell! Katrina taught me how to camp out efficiently in my own home and endlessly harass “service” providers. However, it’s a skill I’d rather never use again. The last hurricane was bad enough. This 1 day outage of electricity and 5 day outage of tv/internet was made worse by me having to stick around the house waiting, calling, and watching. I watched the forum last night and Z Nation on my old college TV which finally brought me back in to the world at large. The new TV in the front took a hit from the power surge so all is not completely well. I’m still waiting for the carpenter to fix the faschia board on the gable. So, let me see what’s going on in the world before I try to go back and catch up with lost work.
I’ve noticed that one thing about living in the information age with plenty of ways to chase down information and plenty of ways to document and spread information, we’ve got a lot of opportunities to catch up with big fat liars and their lies. Most of the public seems to not avail itself of the tools necessary to fact check. Indeed, they appear to chase straight for the sites and people that peddle lies. But, we’re seeing an entirely new reality when the actual reality burbles its way through the web and media.
No where is this more noticeable than when officer’s invent stories that are not backed up by the material evidence collected at the scene. Thank goodness for police body cams and dash cams! We’re beginning to see more and more examples of police using unnecessary deadly force and then being caught creating absolute lies to cover up their actions. There are two recent examples worth noting. The first comes from N.J. where a dash cam shows that a suspect did, indeed, have his hands up which conflicts with officer accounts.
Two police officers who accused a motorist of trying to grab one of their guns were convicted Thursday of misconduct in part because a dashcam video showed the motorist holding his hands up.
Bloomfield Officers Sean Courter and Orlando Trinidad were found guilty by an Essex County jury of conspiracy, official misconduct, tampering with and falsifying public records and lying to authorities. Courter, 35, and Trinidad, 34, face mandatory minimum prison sentences of five years when they’re sentenced in January.
Courter, of Englishtown, and Trinidad, of Bloomfield, initially said motorist Marcus Jeter tried to grab Courter’s gun and struck Trinidad during a traffic stop on the Garden State Parkway in 2012. Jeter was charged with resisting arrest, aggravated assault and other offenses based on video from one of the officers’ dashboard cameras.
But Jeter acquired a second police dashcam video through an open records request. Combined, the videos showed him with his hands in the air for virtually the entire encounter.
Prosecutors dropped charges against Jeter and charged Trinidad, Courter and a third officer.
“They accused Mr. Jeter of criminal acts that led to him being charged and indicted,” assistant prosecutor Berta Rodriguez, who tried the case, said Thursday. “He was facing five years in prison. But for the dash camera in the second police vehicle, he might be in prison today.”
The third officer, Albert Sutterlin, pleaded guilty in 2013 to falsifying and tampering with records.
This next example had a tragic result. A six year old boy was killed as city marshals in a small Louisiana Town near Texas used deadly force on his unarmed father. The two were seated in a car. Two city marshals now face second degree murder charges.
Two city marshals in the central Louisiana town of Marksville will be charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a six-year-old autistic boyfollowing a car chase involving his father, authorities announced late Friday.
Norris Greenhouse Jr., 23, a reserve officer, and Lt. Derrick Stafford, 32, were arrested Friday night by the Louisiana State Police, which is leading the investigation, CBS affiliate WAFB reported.
Jeremy Mardis was shot and killed Tuesday after his father, Christopher Few, led law enforcement officers on a chase. Few was wounded in the incident and is hospitalized in critical condition.
The marshals will also be charged with attempted second-degree murder of the father, Louisiana State Police Col. Michael Edmonson said at a news conference late Friday night.
Lt. Jason Brouillette and Sgt. Kenneth Purnell were also involved in the chase but have not been charged. All four officers were placed on administrative leave.
One of the officers was wearing a body camera which recorded the chase, the shooting and its aftermath.
“It is the most disturbing thing I’ve seen, and I’ll leave it at that,” Edmonson said, adding that the footage, witness interviews and forensic evidence led police to file charges.
According to the Marksville Police Department, Few led the law enforcement officers on a short pursuit Tuesday night and stopped on a dead-end road.
“The initial statement to my investigators was that the vehicle was backing up, they feared for their lives and they started firing,” Edmonson told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud Friday morning.
“There were a lot of shots fired that night and they were coming in one direction. There’s nothing for us that indicates that any fire came from that SUV,” Edmonson said. “There was no weapon found in that SUV.”
You can read more about this case on the NYT. We are clearly doing many things wrong in our criminal justice system. I hate to disturb you on a weekend morning, but reading about this small victim and his unnecessary death is vital to realizing we need reform and we need it now.
BB wrote quite a bit about the fanciful tales spun by Republican candidate Ben Carson yesterday. More and more media outlets are finding and checking out his tall tales. The WSJ has found more examples of completely untrue anecdotes that show up in Carson’s book and speeches. Carson’s poll numbers have started to fall. WTF is wrong with Republicans that they blindly accept all of their jerks at face value? Are they completely incapable of critical thinking and fact checking? Brian Beutler discusses this in an article in the Republic.
Ben Carson’s popularity among conservatives has been marked by their imperviousness to questions about his honesty and fitness. Carson has made dozens of statements about federal policy that have transcended garden-variety conservative over-promising and reached the realm of Chauncey Gardner-esque absurdity. He has also faced serious questions about the veracity of stories he tells about his youth and young manhood. Through it all, conservatives have not only stuck by his side, but actually become more taken with him. They’ve brushed off scrutiny with glib mockery, accusing white liberals of “othering” a black man for having the temerity to leave the “thought plantation.”
That all likely changes now that Carson has confessed to fabricating a seminal story about having declined admission to West Point in his youth. When you’ve lost Breitbart, it stands to reason that you will also lose talk-radio fawning, viral email forwards, and all the other mysterious sources of conservative cult status.
But there is room for genuine doubt here: Could Carson’s supporters prove so uninterested in his genuine merits and demerits that they might look past this transgression? The very fact that this doubt exists incriminates both the conservative-entertainment complex and the nature of the Republican electorate.
I always cringe at the representation of these Republicans as “conservative” because they are anything but conservative. Many tend to be outright theocratic and most really support insurgency and radical change. There’s nothing conservative about the stories they invent to justify insurrection. Kevin Drum at Mojo has made a short list of some of his most egregious fabrications.
Because we have synchronous and widespread sources of news, it’s really difficult for politicians to get away with these tall tells. Carson gave an absolutely unhinged presser yesterday where he tried to blame the media for all these misunderstandings. Blaming the “liberal” media has been staple of Republican pols since Nixon. The entire last Republican debate was an exercise in blaming the media for gotcha questions when mostly what was happen was good old fashion fact checking and holding to account.
Again, we have an excellent example of this in Louisiana in the David Vitter race. Vitter ran an absolutely blistering set of ads against his two Republican opponents in the election. They were so bad, that our Republican LT. Governor has now endorsed the Blue Dog Democrat who faces Vitter in the run-off. Many of the the supporters of the other Republican who came in a very close third have also put their support behind John Bel Edwards. Now, the Republican party is coming after LT. Governor Jay Dardenne with machetes and stating that JBE latest ad has brought the race to a new low. Oh, really? Where were you a few weeks ago when Vitter was attacking fellow Republicans? Lies can be told but it takes very little effort these days to unearth the truth.
The JBE ad is a must see. Bobb Mann writes about it for Salon,
On the evening of Monday, Feb. 25, 1991, only five hours before Baghdad Radio would tell Iraqi troops to begin withdrawing from Kuwait, all hell rained down on a U.S. Army barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It was, as the New York Times described it the next day, “the most devastating Iraqi stroke of the Persian Gulf war.” An Iraqi Scud missile struck the barracks, killing 28 Americans and wounding 100 more.The barracks had been home to the 475th Quartermaster Group, an Army Reserve unit from the small western Pennsylvania town of Farrell.
Reading the grisly details of that night’s events still evokes horror and grief. Here is how New York Times reporter R.W. Apple, Jr., described the aftermath in his Feb. 26, 1991, story, “This morning, under the pitiless glare of portable floodlights, excavating equipment began plowing through the blackened remains of the building. Servicemen joined in the search for the missing, using picks and shovels, as some of the survivors milled about. Many wept.”
Fast-forward ten years to February 27, 2001: On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives members were preparing to host President George W. Bush, who would deliver his State of the Union address that evening.
Before hearing from Bush, however, the House had some business to conclude – considering a resolution “honoring the ultimate sacrifice” made by those killed and wounded that horrible day 10 years earlier. When the votes were tallied at 5:27 p.m., the resolution passed overwhelmingly, 395-0.
Thirty-five members, however, did not vote that afternoon. Among them was U.S. Rep. David Vitter, a Republican from suburban New Orleans serving his second term.
Vitter may have missed this vote because he waiting on a return call from an escort service based in California that sold the services of women in the Washington, D.C., area. As his colleagues and constituents would later learn, Vitter was a regular customer of the escort service.
Saying “David Vitter’s governorship will further” damage a Republican brand “damaged by the failed leadership of Bobby Jindal during this last term,” Dardenne threw his support behind Edwards at an event on the LSU campus.
Fine, be angry or disappointed with Dardenne, who has faithfully carried the Republican banner since childhood when he handed out push cards for Barry Goldwater, for his decision to break a promise not to endorse in the runoff. It is also OK to criticize the Republican for endorsing a Democrat even though this particular Republican has a long history of being a) independent and b) shunned by the very party officials who now brand him a traitor.
But to rank Dardenne on the hate meter with Satan, Alabama football coach Nick Saban, “the socialist” Barack Obama or a jilted husband taking violent revenge on his ex-wife goes well beyond the pale — even in this day of nasty, hyperbolic political discourse.
The worst, by far, is the despicable letter fired off by Peter Egan, chairman of the St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committee. In the unique worldview of Egan, Dardenne endorsing a Democrat — rather than toe the party line and endorse Vitter, or at least stay silent — is “a vehement act of retribution” for being knocked out of the race in the open primary.
Mr. Egan goes on pontificating, declaring “the behavior of endorsing Edwards is akin to that of a jilted man firing indiscriminately at his ex-wife’s car, mindless of the collateral harm and injury to many innocent people.”
I’m all for hyperbole to make a point, but exactly who are these innocent people Dardenne has harmed?
No individual who answers the call of public service deserves hate-speech like this, and especially a man who has done an impeccable job of serving the state he loves.
Where were all these “Republican or die” people when Vitter, a fellow Republican, was assailing Dardenne’s character and GOP service to Louisiana? Is the message that vicious Republican-on-Republican attacks — whether they come from Vitter or Egan — are fair game, but endorsing a man who did not eviscerate your character is a crime punishable by political death?
So, now I’m closing with the professional liar class of pundits who make a huge living peddling lies on Fox News as “conservatives”. It appears there’s a family feud between Bill O’Reilly and George Will.
FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly has a heated argument with network contributor George Will over his latest columnwhich accuses the O’Reilly Factor host of slandering former President Ronald Reagan in his latest book,Killing Reagan.
“It is not a laudatory book,” Will said about O’Reilly’s Killing Reagan. “It is doing the work of the left which knows in order to discredit conservatism it must destroy Reagan’s reputation as president. Your book does the work of the American left with its extreme recklessness.”
“You’re a hack,” O’Reilly said to Will. “You are in with the cabal of the Reagan loyalists who don’t want the truth to be told.”
Conservative columnist George Will attacked Bill O’Reilly’s new book, “Killing Reagan, in the Washington Post on Thursday — calling it “a tissue of unsubstantiated assertions” that “will distort public understanding of Ronald Reagan’s presidency more than hostile but conscientious scholars could” — and to the surprise of absolutely no one, O’Reilly shot back last night.Will’s criticism was admittedly harsh. He warned readers of O’Reilly’s book to beware, as they were “about to enter a no-facts zone,” and referred to the book as “nonsensical history and execrable citizenship,” so it’s not as O’Reilly wasn’t within his rights to be offended.
And offended he was. He began by noting the difference between “slander” and “libel,” which Will misused in his column — because, of course, noting one error in an otherwise sound review of a book invalidates all of the other valid criticisms contained therein.
You should go watch the video if you can stomach it.
So, the deal is that we can in fact ferret out the truth in many many ways these days and we can rely on some media sources and fact checkers to do so. The deal is this. The lie tends to resonant louder than then the correction. It’s usually buried deep and less accessible.
What’s a voter to do?
So, that’s it for me today. What’s on your reading and blogging list?
Syria is again dominating the headlines. Here’s a few things that might be slipping under the rug.
In July, House Republicans decoupled SNAP from the rest of the farm bill. Now, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, they are working on a food-stamp provision that could cut as much as $40 billion over 10 years, according to reports. Legislative language for the Cantor proposal is not yet available.
The conservative case goes like this: The food-stamp program is abused by recipients who are not meeting eligibility requirements. In particular, conservatives want to tighten loopholes that they contend allow able-bodied adults without dependents to receive assistance; they want to limit coverage for the able-bodied adults to three months within a 36-month period.
“Currently, working middle-class families struggling to make ends meet themselves are footing a bill for a program that has gone well beyond the safety net for children, seniors, the disabled, and families who desperately need the assistance,” said Cantor spokesman Rory Cooper.
Antihunger advocates say House Republicans’ proposed cuts would hit some of the neediest Americans hard, and they argue that the law already contains adequate restrictions against abuse.
At the Capital Area Food Bank, a 100,000-square-foot warehouse facility — a kind of Sam’s Club for food pantries in the metro Washington area — officials say food-stamp funds typically last recipients two and a half weeks. After the benefits run out, many go to food pantries to help make ends meet, according to the Food Bank’s Brian Banks.
Conservatives, meanwhile, argue that food-stamp funding has been rising too quickly. The program cost about $78.4 billion to help feed roughly 47 million participants in 2012, according to the Agriculture Department. That’s up from about $17 billion from 2000, when 17 million Americans participated.
“The national debt has now topped $16 trillion and will continue to grow rapidly for the foreseeable future. To preserve the economy, government spending, including welfare spending, must be put on a more prudent course,” wrote the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector and Katherine Bradley in a white paper.
Anti-hunger advocates, though, point to a spike in the number of Americans who are “food insecure,” a term used by the government, that correlates to the recession. According to USDA, the number has recently stayed at roughly 15 percent, with 17.6 million households classified as such in 2012, according to a newly released report. With 59 percent of food-insecure households using food stamps, advocates argue that it’s important not to slash SNAP.
Now that Congress has returned, the farm bill and the food-stamp program will compete for scarce legislative time with the situation in Syria, appropriations bills, and a debate over the debt-ceiling limit, which the government is expected to reach sometime this fall. Among antihunger organizations, optimism is in short supply.
Indiania seems to hate its pregnant women. They’re at it again. This time they want to drug test all pregnant women even if there is no probable cause to believe they might be ingesting something harmful.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is calling on the legislature to help reduce the number of babies being exposed to narcotics while still in the womb.
It is called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, newborns exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs before they are born.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller says treating NAS at Indiana hospitals cost an estimated $30 million in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, and he says that’s with limited tracking because hospitals are not required to report the condition.
Zoeller says one solution is requiring pregnant women take drug tests to identify the problem and start treatment before birth.
“You can reduce the length of stay for the newly born baby from six weeks to two weeks, the better health of the baby as well as the costs,” he say.s
State Senator Pat Miller, R-Indianapolis, says the legislature is exploring different options because of concerns about mandatory drug tests.
“Verbal screening as opposed to the kind of blood or urine analysis that might drive women away from getting prenatal care,” she says, adding that a definitive answer has not been reached and a legislative panel will continue to investigate the issue leading up to next session.
On Tuesday, House Republicans unveiled their proposal to keep the government running past September 30, when the law that currently funds federal operations expires. It would last through December, at which point the parties would have to come up with yet another extension. As expected, the proposal more or less “locks in” funding levels from budget sequestration—in effect, it keeps the cuts that have been reducing Head Start slots, weakening the economy recovery, and generally wreaking havoc. As you may recall, sequestration cuts were never supposed to happen: They were supposed to be so crude and unpleasant, to conservatives and liberals alike, that the two parties would agree on an alternative way of reducing the deficit. But that hasn’t happened, so the cuts have taken effect this year. And if this new House Republican proposal passes, they will stay in place for at least a little while longer.
The House proposal also includes a provision to withhold funds for implementing Obamacare. Again, this is not a surprise. And, like some previous efforts, this one is mostly an effort of political theater. By design, the Senate could strip out the Obamacare defunding and approve everything else in the House leadership proposal. That would leave a “clean” government-funding bill, as House Republican leaders call it, for President Obama to sign. But House Republican leaders have assured anxious conservatives that a real effort to undermine Obamacare will come soon—proabably sometime in early October, when the federal treasury nears its official borrowing limit. At that point, the leaders say, they will refuse to authorize more borrowing unless Obama and the Democrats agree to certain concessions. The demands will include some kind of effort at defunding or delaying Obamacare—quite possibly, by insisting that the Obama administration postpones the individual mandate (the requirement that everybody get health insurance) by one year.
Senate Democrats have had all they can take from David Vitter and his fixation on Obamacare — and they’re dredging up his past prostitution scandal to hit back.
Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, has infuriated Democrats this week by commandeering the Senate floor, demanding a vote on his amendment repealing federal contributions to help pay for lawmakers’ health care coverage.
But Democratic senators are preparing a legislative response targeting a sordid Vitter episode. If Vitter continues to insist on a vote on his proposal, Democrats could counter with one of their own: Lawmakers will be denied those government contributions if there is “probable cause” they solicited prostitutes.
According to draft legislation obtained by POLITICO, Democrats are weighing whether to force a Senate vote on a plan that would effectively resurrect Vitter’s past if the conservative Republican continues to press forward with his Obamacare-bashing proposal.
It is now much easier to make the case that Gov. Bobby Jindal knows his chances of winning the presidency in the 2016 election are securely in his past. In fact, given the record he is now so feverishly and self-destructively building, it is difficult imagining the governor winning another — any — statewide election in Louisiana. In making that case, Exhibits No. 1 through No. 50, at least, are on display in Jindal’s bafflingly deliberate and long-running defiance of orders issued by Baton Rouge state district court Judge Janice Clark in a key public records case.
Over five months ago, on April 25, Judge Clark emphatically ruled in favor of plaintiff newspapers, the Advocate and NOLA.com | Times-Picayune, and ordered the LSU Board of Supervisors to “immediately produce” the documents identifying all those who sought the combined job of LSU president and chancellor. F. King Alexander was selected for the job, and Jindal does not want citizens to know who the other candidates were. Thus he directed his go-to lawyer, Jimmy Faircloth, to burn a trainload of taxpayer money by stiffing the citizenry and the judge … repeatedly … and proudly.
The rarity of observing such a months-long political train wreck was underscored by Lori Mince, the attorney representing the two Louisiana newspapers, in a Sept. 10article by Mike Hasten of Gannett News. Ms. Mince noted, “This is the first public records case I’ve had when the public body refused to comply.” No one else with whom I have spoken or emailed can remember another such instance, either. Such makes sense because once a public records case goes all the way to court, and a judge orders the documents produced, public officials have every reason and need to, well, produce the documents. That is precisely what happened when a group of us in Shreveport sued the highway department for documents, went up against Jindal / Faircloth’s initial opposition, and headed to Clark’s court. When our hearing came up, the requested documents appeared as Faircloth did the opposite.
To grasp how bizarrely foolish the Jindal / Faircloth / Board of Supervisors argument is, it began with Faircloth arguing that the only word in the related law which mattered was “applicant,” and that there was only one of those — the winner, F. King Alexander. Note that Faircloth made this argument to Clark even though Blake Chatelain, the LSU board member who led the search committee, said in his subject court deposition that he and his committee began their work with about 100 prospects, cut that to 35 keepers, then down to “six or seven,” before picking Alexander. All of this was managed via a web portal belonging to a Dallas consultant hired for such purpose, a reported key in the Jindal plan to maintain secrecy throughout the process. (Thanks to Gordon Russell, then writing for the NOLA.com | Times-Picayune, for his April report.)
It is anyone’s guess as to what Jindal is hiding: Was/is Alexander qualified? Was he the best candidate? Who did Jindal really want, and why didn’t that person get the job? Those of us who have been down this road with the man and his team, especially Faircloth, know that the explanation may be much simpler: Jindal has never believed the rules and law and constitution apply to him.
Officials responding to a spill of 1,400 tons of molasses in Hawaii waters plan to let nature clean things up, with boat crews collecting thousands of dead fish to determine the extent of environmental damage.
The crews already have collected about 2,000 dead fish from waters near Honolulu Harbor, and they expect to see more in the coming days and possibly weeks, said Gary Gill, deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Health.
“Our best advice as of this morning is to let nature take its course,” Gill told reporters at a news conference at the harbor, where commercial ships passed through discolored, empty-looking waters.
So, that’s a little this and that! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I’ve found some interesting links for you this morning. Some of them are fun and some are rather shocking. Drink your coffee and settle in for a little bit of this and that. Oh, you may want to hold off on food or make sure it’s completely digested before you read a few of these. For some reason, I’ve found a lot of stories that don’t seem to contribute to holding food down.
I’m not sure if any of you have seen Zero Dark Thirty yet. I’m still trying to decide if I should live through the first few minutes and embrace the controversy. Here’s an interesting panel of Ex-CIA officials that were supposed to discuss the film that went elsewhere instead. It’s a compelling and disturbing read via Slate.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden led the panel. He was joined by Jose Rodriguez, who ran the agency’s National Clandestine Service, and John Rizzo, who served as the CIA’s chief legal officer. The stories they told, and the reasons they offered, shook up my assumptions about the interrogation program. They might shake up yours, too. Here’s what they said.
1. The detention program was a human library. The panelists didn’t use that term, but it reflects what they described. After detainees were interrogated, the CIA kept them around for future inquiries and to monitor their communications. Sometimes this yielded a nugget, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s message to his fellow detainees: “Do not say a word about the courier.” Rodriguez said this incident shows “the importance of having a place like a black site to take these individuals, because we could use that type of communication. We could use them as background information to check a name.”
2. EITs were used to break the will to resist, not to extract information directly. Hayden acknowledged that prisoners might say anything to stop their suffering. (Like the other panelists, he insisted EITs weren’t torture.) That’s why “we never asked anybody anything we didn’t know the answer to, while they were undergoing the enhanced interrogation techniques. The techniques were not designed to elicit truth in the moment.” Instead, EITs were used in a controlled setting, in which interrogators knew the answers and could be sure they were inflicting misery only when the prisoner said something false. The point was to create an illusion of godlike omniscience and omnipotence so that the prisoner would infer, falsely, that his captors always knew when he was lying or withholding information. More broadly, said Hayden, the goal was “to take someone who had come into our custody absolutely defiant and move them into a state or a zone of cooperation” by convincing them that “you are no longer in control of your destiny. You are in our hands.” Thereafter, the prisoner would cooperate without need for EITs. Rodriguez explained: “Once you got through the enhanced interrogation process, then the real interrogation began. … The knowledge base was so good that these people knew that we actually were not going to be fooled. It was an essential tool to validate that the people were being truthful. “
3. The human library was part of the will-breaking process. “Because we had other prisoners in our black sites, we would be able to check information against others. And they [detainees] knew that,” said Rodriguez. In this way, simply holding detainees in opaque confinement gave interrogators leverage.
4. We had tested EITs on ourselves. Rodriguez said he quickly accepted the use of EITs in part because “I knew that many of these procedures were applied to our own servicemen. Tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers had gone through this.” If these methods were safe and moral to use on Americans, weren’t they safe and moral to use on our enemies?
5. Freelancing was forbidden. Rizzo outlined some rules for EITs: No interrogator was allowed to use a waterboard without first submitting written justification, and only the CIA director could approve it. So, for what it’s worth, there were internal checks on the practice, at least because the CIA would be politically accountable for what its interrogators did.
6. Rules were a weakness, and ambiguity was leverage. While citing the program’s rules as a moral defense, the panelists also groused that the rules cost them leverage. KSM, for instance, noticed a time limit on waterboarding. “Pretty quickly, he recognized that within 10 seconds we would stop pouring water,” said Rodriguez. “He started to count with his fingers, up to 10, just to let us know that the time was up.” Hayden said that when the incoming Obama administration ruled out EITs, he requested a caveat: “unless otherwise authorized by the president.” This, he explained, would create “ambiguity” so that anyone captured in the future couldn’t be “quite sure what would happen” to them.
7. EITs were useful as an implicit threat. Hayden said only a third of the detainees required EITs. But he acknowledged that “the existence of the option may have influenced” the rest.
8. The library rationale withered. The detainees’ value as constantly accessible sources didn’t mean they could be kept forever. They were human beings, too, and this created political and international problems. Over time, their intelligence value sank below the PR cost of keeping them at black sites. “When I became director in 2006, I concluded that, number one, we are not the nation’s jailers,” said Hayden. “We are the nation’s intelligence service. And so there just can’t be an endless detention program.” Accordingly, he transferred a dozen detainees out of CIA custody, “not because their intelligence value had become zero … but because the intelligence value of most of them had edged off to a point that other factors were becoming more dominant in the equation.”
9. The library became less necessary as we developed other sources. Hayden said he re-evaluated the program in 2006 based in part on the declining need for it: “How much more did we know about al-Qaida now? How many more human and other intelligence penetrations of al-Qaida did we now have, compared to where we were, almost in extremis, in 2002?” There was less need to keep the human books on the shelf, now that the CIA could download information through other channels.
10. EITs liberated detainees from religious bondage. Rodriguez said Abu Zubaydah eventually “told us that we should use waterboarding … on all the brothers,” because
the brothers needed to have religious justification to talk, to provide information. However, they would not be expected by Allah to go beyond their capabilities [of] resistance. So once they felt that they were there, they would then become compliant and provide information. So he basically recommended to us that we needed to submit the brothers to this type of procedure. … As a matter of fact, it would help them reach the level where they would become compliant and provide information.
Hayden said the Abu Zubaydah story “was important for my own soul-searching on this.”
We’ve had a number of celebrities talk about running for public office and we’ve had a number of them dive in. Well, here’s a celeb talking about running for the senate that will make you think twice about celebrity and gravity. If the story on torture didn’t make your tummy a bit queasy, maybe the thought of Senator Geraldo Rivera will.
On his radio show this afternoon, Geraldo Rivera announced he might run for Senate in his home state of New Jersey.
“Fasten your seatbelt,” he told his audience and Judge Andrew Napolitano. “I am and have been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker in New Jersey.”
Napolitano praised Rivera’s potential decision, saying he’d do everything within the limits of his Fox News contract to support the campaign because he is “a rare understander of the nature of human freedom and the role of government in our lives.”
“I figure, at my age, if I’m going to do it, I’ve got to do it,” Rivera added. He praised Newark Mayor and rumored 2014 Senate candidate Cory Booker but noted that there doesn’t seem to be a formidable GOP member lined up for a challenge.
Later in the show, Rivera said that his desire to nationalize New York’s “stop-and-frisk” policy could be part of his platform. As a national police program, he said, it would decrease the chances for the policy’s controversial racial profiling.
Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) associates, furious about fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) calling the Floridian “nuts” and “naïve” over his immigration reform efforts, are hitting Vitter where it hurts.
“David Vitter has done some nuttier things in his life,” a source close to Rubio wrote in an unsolicited email to POLITICO.
That’s a not-at-all subtle reference to Vitter’s 2007 admission that his phone number appeared on a client list of a Washington, D.C. madam. A New Orleans-based prostitute and madam have also, separately, accused Vitter of being a client, but he has denied those charges.
Asked for comment about the jab, Vitter’s press secretary didn’t respond to two emails. A receptionist at Vitter’s Washington office said the press staffer “must be away from his desk.”
Vitter’s attack on Rubio, on conservative Laura Ingraham’s talk show Wednesday, came as he steps up his public profile in advance of a potential 2015 gubernatorial bid. Vitter is moving to re-establish his conservative and populist bona fides.
You know that austerity doesn’t work and hasn’t worked. Here’s a great post on that by Pat Garofalo. It’s also a good reason to question Paul Ryan’s understanding of simple math.
Most of the recent economic data out of Europe has been exceedingly grim. A record high number of workers across the Eurozone are unemployed. Economies are shrinking. Debts are rising.
The anecdotes, though, are even worse. Hospitals are asking patients to supply their own syringes due to lack of funds. Trees on public land are being cut down by workers desperate for firewood to warm their homes. An entire generation of young workers is going to experience lower wages for the rest of their lives, due to years of being unemployed while in their 20s.
At this point, it’s safe to say that Europe’s response to the financial crisis of 2008 and its ensuing recession has failed. Austerity packages that were meant to jumpstart business investment and reduce what were viewed as unsustainable debt loads have instead crippled growth and caused untold amounts of human misery.
America, meanwhile, eschewed austerity for stimulus in the wake of the ’08 crisis. The result has been a return to slow, steady, if not overwhelming growth. But for Republicans in Congress, who constantly warn about the menace of the European social safety net, European austerity is a model to be emulated. And their insistence on cutting government spending no matter its effect on growth is bad news for the fragile economic recovery.
With the so-called fiscal “cliff” firmly behind them and debt ceiling sufficiently punted away for a few months, House Republicans are turning their attention back to the federal budget process. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), fresh off his failed run for the vice-presidency, plans to release a budget that will balance in 10 years. Such a move, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, will require cutting one-sixth to one-third of most of the federal government, depending on how Ryan structures it.
But in the shorter term, congressional Republicans are planning to use a few pending deadlines to secure deep cuts in government spending. For instance, the current round of funding for the federal government expires in March, giving Republicans leverage to push for reductions. “The CR [Continuing Resolution]– it’s one of the areas where there is indeed an absolute deadline. Washington and Congress respond to crises and deadlines, and we need to address the spending side of the equation,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA).
Ryan himself has also said that the $1.2 billion in spending cuts known as the “sequester” are going to go into effect that same month. “I think the sequester’s going to happen, because that $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, we can’t lose those spending cuts,” Ryan said. The sequester will knock 0.7 percent off of economic growth in 2013, according to MacroEconomic Advisers.
Well, just when you thought you knew everything about all those priests and child sexual assaults along comes this story from Los Angeles. LA Archbishop Gomez has found files covered up by Cardinal Mahoney and is taking action.
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced Thursday night that he has relieved retired Cardinal Roger Mahony of his remaining duties and a former top aide to Mahony has stepped down from his current post, on the same night the church released thousands of pages of personnel files of priests accused of sexual abuse.
“I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” Gomez said in a statement, referring to the newly released files made public by the church Thursday night just hours after a judge’s order. “The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children.”
Gomez announced that he has “informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties.”
Mahony, who retired in 2011 after more than a quarter-century at the helm of the archdiocese, has publicly apologized for mistakes he made in dealing with priests who molested children.
Gomez also said Thomas Curry, former vicar of the clergy under Mahony who was the cardinal’s point person in dealing with priests accused of molestation, has stepped down from his current job as auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese’s Santa Barbara region. Curry also issued an apology earlier this month.
Earlier Thursday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias ordered the diocese to turn over some 30,000 pages from the confidential files of priests accused of child molestation without blacking out the names of top church officials who were responsible for handling priests accused of abuse.
The judge gave the archdiocese until Feb. 22 to turn over the files to attorneys for the alleged victims, but they were released almost immediately.
The archdiocese, the nation’s largest, had planned to black out the names of members of the church hierarchy who were responsible for the priests, and instead provide a cover sheet for each priest’s file, listing the names of top officials who handled that case. The church reversed course Wednesday after The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and plaintiff attorneys objected in court.
A record-breaking $660 million settlement in 2007 with more than 500 alleged victims paved the way for the ultimate disclosure of the tens of thousands of pages, but the archdiocese and individual priests fought to keep them secret for more than five years.
A first round of 14 priest files made public in Los Angeles nearly two weeks ago showed that Mahony and other top officials maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests, provide damage control for the church and keep parishioners in the dark about sexual abuse in their parishes. Those documents, released as part of an unrelated civil lawsuit, were not redacted and provided a glimpse of what could be contained in the larger release.
The files, some of them dating back decades, contain letters among top church officials, accused priests and archdiocese attorneys, complaints from parents, medical and psychological records and — in some cases — correspondence with the Vatican.
You have to hope that more church leaders like Gomez decide to do the right thing.
I hope you have found some stories to share! Some times, you just have to let what the evil men do just flow over you so you can beg the universe for justice. Then, you eat, pray, meditate, drink and hope the greater ethos takes care of them eventually. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Oh, and that last photo there is a celebrity. Can you guess who she is?
I was hoping that maybe this scandal would be different. When Anthony Wiener was caught in a series of mutually stupid sexting scandals, wife Huma Abedin stayed away from the role of adoring political prop wife. She let him handle the reporters and the public on his own. I admire Mark Sanford’s wife who has completely turned the stereotype of political prop wife on its head. After these kinds of public humiliations, the least you should be able to hang on to is your dignity and self respect. That’s far more important than staying in a marriage with a Lothario.
The worst and most shameful abuse of a wife of a politician had to be by David Vitter who got caught with his diapers down on a prostitute’s call list.
Looks like one more manipulative political husband just can’t resist trotting out his probably long suffering wife just one more time. Herman Cain may be getting some big donations from men in denial of their treatment of women, but his numbers with women voters–who know that men frequently overstep their boundaries–have dropped like an avalanche. So, he’s going to do the knee jerk damage control thing and trot out political man’s best friend, his prop wife. After enduring the Vitter presser, I’ve decided this is nothing less than domestic abuse. I still remember Eliot Spitzer’s wife blaming herself for his problem with call girls. What campaign manager thinks the public humiliation of a wife is good politics?
Introducing … Gloria Etchison Cain.
At long last, the political spouse who has kept the lowest profile of the campaign season is preparing to make a network debut. Mrs. Cain, who has been married to the former restaurant executive Herman Cain for 43 years, is expected to sit down this weekend with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, for a segment that could air on Monday, according to a source familiar with the planning.
Mrs. Cain has, to date, not appeared on the campaign trail with her husband, and is said to prefer her home life in Atlanta, far away from the national spotlight. But since allegations of sexual harassment began to engulf the Cain campaign almost two weeks ago, it had been rumored that Mrs. Cain would eventually come to her husband’s defense on television.
Mr. Cain has been talking about his wife and family more of late, perhaps to offer a counterpoint to the multiple women who have come forward to accuse him of inappropriate behavior while he was chief of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
While in New York City on Friday for a major fund-raising drive, Mr. Cain stopped at Fox News and was asked about his wife by the host Neil Cavuto. “What’s she saying to you?” he questioned.
Mr. Cain replied, “She’s saying to me that the family has your back. We’re not going to let them, you know, continue to … We are there.”
Worst example to date of making your humiliated wife act as your prop for the purposes of shoring up your hypocritical ass comes from selfish David Vitter.
Gotta admire the former Mrs. Stanford for leaving her bum of a husband and getting on with her life. She seems to be one of the few wronged political wives that didn’t accept her role as prop and pulled herself away from a man that obviously didn’t have her or her family’s best interests at heart. I can only imagine what Gloria Cain will be put through to prop up her husband’s stalled ambitions.