Monday Reads: Shocking Times

gettyimages-6329290101Good Afternoon!

It’s difficult to try to make sense of the last 10 days using any normal construct. Just the fact we’ve seen enormous international protests come together across the world nearly spontaneously with more in the works tells me these are not normal times. We’re two Mondays into the Drumpfocracy and this is my second Monday writing about massive protests. Chaos and division are resplendent throughout the Drumpfdom.

A friend and Dharma sister sent me a quote from historian and Boston College Professor Heather Cox Richardson today describing the Muslim Executive Order as a planned “shock event” staged by Steve Bannon.   The purpose of this event is to basically “create confusion and chaos so that the administration can present itself as the only entity capable of restoring order” as paraphrased by blogger JohnFEA. Cox Richardson writes:

What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries– is creating what is known as a “shock event.” Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order. When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.

She’s already landed herself on the Fifth Column style website called “The Professor Watchlist”.donald-trump-airport-3

Heather Cox Richardson, a history professor at Boston College, has also found herself in the database. In an article on Bill Moyers’s website she objected to the crudeness of the Professor Watchlist project. She said she does not publicly identify with any political party and believes “American democracy is the form of government that comes closest to bringing that principle to reality.”

She’s written a recent book “To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party”.  She was interviewed by WBUR in the fall on the party and its rank and file.  There’s a podcast of that interview here.  I particularly like her description of the purge of the party in the party that was a direct result of right wing christianists and so-called “movement conservatives”.

…When [Movement conservatives] took over the Republican Party and got rid of the traditional Rockefeller Republicans, if you will, Lincoln Republicans. When they read them out of the party, what they did is they wedded the party’s machinery to this quite extremist idea that most Americans don’t really believe. The moment we’re in now, that movement conservative ideology has led to the Ted Cruzes and the Paul Ryans, yes, but what it’s done is it created the demographic that feeds the white-nationalists — the hatred that most Americans don’t really embrace.”

643xnxd78eaca58c08b4c63082d05d9b2f54a4-protest-jpg-pagespeed-ic-9pscitf6-zOne of my friends noted that she was called a “Muslim-loving whore” this weekend.  The entire debacle is certainly dividing us and creating massive chaos. I pity any one who has got a flight to take. The airports are alive with protests.  Town and City Squares are alive with protest.  We can’t seem to protest enough these days.

An executive order referred to widely among protesters as a “Muslim ban” on immigration travel has led to thousands of people protesting all over the country. The protests began on Saturday and are continuing today. At the source of the controversy is President Donald Trump’s latest executive order, which temporarily blocks 130 million people from entering the United States. The order itself never explicitly uses the word “Muslim.” What it does is temporarily ban citizens of Iraq and six other Muslim-major countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen) from entering the United States. (Syrian immigration was indefinitely suspended.) Comments from Trump to media about expediting immigration for Christians sparked additional controversy, but those comments weren’t actually in his executive order. Federal judge Ann Donnelly granted an emergency stay of the executive order. Meanwhile, Trump said the ban was put in place to review the vetting process and protect the United States from radical Islamic terrorists. But protesters are disagreeing vehemently with the ban. Some of the people who were were originally detained have since been released.

Merkel took upon herself as the evident new leader of the Free World to explain that the US is a signatory to the Geneva Convention.  She also had to tell him about the document and its purpose.  What kind of idiot did these people elect?  What have these bigoted crazy people done to us?

Donald Trump’s executive order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – has provoked a wave of concern and condemnation from international leaders and politicians.

A spokesman for Angela Merkel said the German chancellor regretted Trump’s decision to ban citizens of certain countries from entering the US, adding that she had “explained” the obligations of the refugee convention to the new president in a phone call on Saturday.

“The chancellor regrets the US government’s entry ban against refugees and the citizens of certain countries,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

“She is convinced that the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion.

“The … refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call yesterday.”

We’re an international pariah state like never before.  I don’t think it was even worse during the Nixon years when I traveled during the height of the Vietnam War and did everything I could while in Europe to convince people I was not an American.

What appears to be most disturbing is that the Executive Branch has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to enforce the ban regardless of the stays by four separate judges. Many airport security personal have blocked lawyers and congressman from seeing detainees. This has seriously breached rule of law here.

Demonstrators shout slogans during anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protests outside Terminal 4 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Kate Munsch

Demonstrators shout slogans during anti-Donald Trump immigration ban protests outside Terminal 4 at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Kate Munsch

Here’s Trump’s latest Executive Order: “Trump signs executive order requiring that for every one new regulation, two must be revoked”.  How the fuck does that work?

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday morning requiring that for every new federal regulation implemented, two must be rescinded.

“This will be the biggest such act that our country has ever seen,” Trump declared moments before signing it inside the Oval Office. “There will be regulation, there will be control, but it will be a normalized control where you can open your business and expand your business very easily. And that’s what our country has been all about.”

The executive order signing, which fills a campaign pledge, comes after the president held a listening session with small-business leaders.

“If you have a regulation you want, number one, we’re not gonna approve it because it’s already been approved probably in 17 different forms,” Trump said. “But if we do, the only way you have a chance is we have to knock out two regulations for every new regulation. So if there’s a new regulation, they have to knock out two.”

The White House has yet to release text of the executive order, but the president added that “it goes far beyond that.”

“We’re cutting regulations massively for small business — and for large business,” he said. “But they’re different. But for small business, and that’s what this is about today.”

The word “shock” is used a lot in both economic and finance models.  It’s best described by Taleb Nassem as a “black swan”.  It suddenly disrupts normal market behavior–and depending on how severe it is–can cause problems for some time. It’s like a variety of rocks thrown into water that create ripples.  This is like a hail storm of rocks falling on everything around us.

Here’s another ripple that amazes me: “US Diplomats Consider Filing Dissent Over Immigration Ban”.  The White House considers the move to be highly successful.

Dozens of foreign service officers and other career diplomats stationed around the world are so concerned about President Donald Trump‘s new executive order restricting Syrian refugees and other immigrants from entering the United States that they are contemplating taking the rare step of sending a formal objection to senior State Department officials in Washington.

In recent days, drafts of a dissent memo have been circulating among diplomats and associates abroad expressing concern that the new restrictions — which Trump said would help “keep America safe” — are un-American and will actually paralyze efforts to stop terrorist attacks inside the U.S. homeland.

“This ban … will not achieve its stated aim to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States,” warned one early draft reviewed by ABC News.

Instead, the executive order will expand anti-American sentiment and “immediately sour relations” with key allies in the fight against terrorism, particularly many of the countries whose citizens are now blocked from traveling to the United States, according to the early draft.

My friend David Ferguson is writing about the other shocking news that’s disturbing both Republicans and Democrats on the Hill. “Democrats and Republicans can’t believe Trump put ‘Nazi’ Steve Bannon on National Security Council”.  The Muslim ban nearly seems a sideshow to this one which could be the purpose of it all.

On Saturday, Pres. Donald Trump announced that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the national director of intelligence will no longer be included in all meetings of the National Security Council (NSC)’s principals committee. However, the president’s order said, former Breitbart.com CEO Stephen K. Bannon will be attending every meeting alongside the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and some of the highest ranking officers in the nation’s security and intelligence services.

“Chairman of Joint Chiefs and DNI treated as afterthoughts in Cabinet level principals meetings. And where is CIA?? Cut out of everything?” wrote former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice on Sunday, according to the New York Daily News.

“This is stone cold crazy,” Rice continued. “After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intel to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK?”

“Trump loves and trusts the military so much he just kicked them out of the National Security Council and put a Nazi in their place,” she said.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded by complaining about Rice’s tone, which he said was “clearly inappropriate language from a former ambassador.”

nintchdbpict000297903397-e1485729690124These are dangerous, chaotic times and it’s all been brought on by people that are “stone cold crazy.”  Democrats on the Hill are planning a rally in front of the SCOTUS building.

Democratic lawmakers will host a rally on Monday evening at the Supreme Court to protest President Donald Trump’s recent executive order imposing a temporary ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the United States.

“Tomorrow at 6:00 p.m., House and Senate Democrats will gather for a press event in front of the steps of the Supreme Court to demand the President withdraw his disreputable executive order. All Members are urged to come to express our solidarity,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues in the House.

Trump on Friday signed an order that imposed a 90-day ban on nationals from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen entering the United States. The order also included a 120-day ban on admitting refugees and an indefinite halt on admitting refugees from Syria, which has been embattled in a civil war since 2011.

“We are witnessing an historic injustice unfold, and we must keep the pressure on,” Pelosi said in the letter.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday saidDemocrats are considering legislation to overturn Trump’s order, but will need Republicans to be on board.

“If we get a few more Republicans, I think we might be able to pass legislation to overturn it,” Schumer said Sunday at press conference in his home state. “It will be up to getting more Republicans.”

Pelosi, in the letter, echoes several of her colleagues by saying the order constitutes “a Muslim ban.”

“As Members of Congress, we take a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Democrats intend to honor that oath by fighting the unconstitutional injustice of the President’s Muslim ban.”

Now let’s hear how they are going to stop this mess.  They better get a few republicans besides Lindsay Graham and John McCain to go rogue and stick with the Constitution over the mad king too.

What would Mary Richards do? Given that most of the lawyers do pro bono work at the airports are women, I say she’d take to the air waves and stand up for what’s right!!!  The Boston Judge who issued the first stay is a woman too!  

What’s on your reading and blogging list?

 


Lazy Saturday Reads

John Hurt as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

John Hurt as Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Good Morning!!

We’ve lost another great actor. Famed British character actor John Hurt died yesterday at age 77. He had pancreatic cancer.

NBC News: Acting Legend John Hurt of ‘Midnight Express’ and ‘Elephant Man’ Dead at 77.

John Hurt, who appeared in “Midnight Express,” “The Elephant Man” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” among many other films, has died at the age of 77, his publicist said….

With a career that stretches back more than 60 years, Hurt has long been a familiar face to moviegoers. In recent years, audiences recognized him as wandmaker Garrick Ollivander in the Harry Potter films, as the British dictator in “V for Vendetta” and as the disturbed Harold “Ox” Oxley in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

But Hurt is perhaps best known for his role that came some years ago. His role in “Midnight Express” earned him an Oscar nomination and his work as David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man” in 1980 and as the main character in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” provided him global name recognition.

In total Hurt was nominated for two Oscars and won four BAFTA Awards and a Golden Globe Award. In 2015, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II….

Hurt had a unique voice that provided him a rich voice acting career. From the animated films “Watership Down” and “The Lord of the Rings,” both made in 1978, to the popular BBC series “Merlin,” Hurt’s voice built entire worlds for audiences.

Hurt also held the dubious honor for the most onscreen deaths of any actor, according to a 2014 article by the Nerdist.

Orwell’s famous novel has been is selling like hotcakes on Amazon in the first week of the Trump presidency; perhaps the movie will do the same now.

John Hurt as Kane dies in "Alien."

John Hurt as Kane dies in “Alien.”

More on John Hurt from The New York Times:

Mr. Hurt was a rising stage actor in England in the 1960s but spent most of the remainder of his career compiling a long résumé in movies and on television. A chameleon of a performer, physically unimposing but with a rich, melodic voice, he played a number of leading roles, though he could never be described as a leading man. Critics often seemed challenged to explain the appeal of his presence.

In “The Naked Civil Servant” (1975), seen first on television in England, he was Quentin Crisp, a flame-haired raconteur and social butterfly whose forthright flamboyance as a gay man helped push the acceptance of homosexuality in Britain.

In a 1979 BBC mini-series, he was Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov, the brooding, conscience-stricken killer in “Crime and Punishment.” And in Michael Radford’s 1984 adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian classic “1984,” he was Winston Smith, the protagonist. Mr. Hurt’s pallor, fearful expression and prominent ears made him an especially feral and unromantic rebel.

“His countenance is fishy and bizarre,” Cintra Wilson wrote in Salon in 2004. “He has dark, verminous little eyes, a smirky little mouth full of nicotine-varnished teeth, and that British complexion that evokes a poached worm. Even in his early films, he has eye bags and looks like he put on a face that was at the very bottom of his laundry basket. His body, when it isn’t a little overindulged around the abdomen, is scrawny. He has never, in any role, looked particularly masculine. The characters he plays are generally weak, immoral, murderous, slimy or insane. Yet to gaze upon John Hurt, in almost any role, is to feel a drooly adoration; he is irresistible.”

I signed the petition demanding Donald Trump release his tax returns. If you haven’t signed it yet, I hope you will.

160514204454-clinton-ad-trump-tax-returns-none-business-cabrera-dnt-nr-00000510-exlarge-169

Huffington Post: Petition Demanding Donald Trump Release His Tax Returns Breaks White House Record.

A petition on the White House website asking President Donald Trump to release information about his tax returns has now received more signatures than any other petition in the system’s five-year history.

The petition demands that the federal government explain what it is doing to “immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.” It garnered over 100,000 signatures within 24 hours of the president’s inauguration and has become the subject of a New York Times editorial.,

“The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” states a brief description of the petition.

As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had over 368,000 signatures, surpassing the previous record of 367,180. The previous record-holder called for the United States government to “legally recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.”

There are now more than 400,000 signatures.

The Daily Telegraph has an update on the Russian spy who was arrested and charged with treason in December: Mystery death of ex-KGB chief linked to MI6 spy’s dossier on Donald Trump.

An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

leg

Oleg Erovinkin

Oleg Erovinkin

Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.

Erovinkin has been described as a key liaison between Sechin and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Mr Steele writes in an intelligence report dated July 19, 2016, he has a source close to Sechin, who had disclosed alleged links between Mr Trump’s supporters and Moscow.

The death of Erovinkin has prompted speculation it is linked to Mr Steele’s explosive dossier, which was made public earlier this month….

The Russian state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Erovinkin’s body was “found in a black Lexus… [and] a large-scale investigation has been commenced in the area. Erovinkin’s body was sent to the FSB morgue”.

Read more at the link.

Yesterday, tRump signed a cruel executive order to prevent refugees from several majority Muslim countries from coming to the U.S. Countries like Saudia Arabia where tRump has business interests weren’t on the list, but Syria and Iraq were. Voice of America reports:

The executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” calls for suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to citizens of “countries of particular concern.”

Two United Nations agencies issued a joint statement Saturday just hours after Trump’s order, saying “The needs of refugees and migrants worldwide have never been greater, and the U.S. resettlement program is one of the most important in the world.”

The U.N. Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration said they hope the “U.S. will continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution.” The agencies said they “strongly believe that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.” ….

As a reason for the order, the document cites the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, which were carried out by 19 foreigners who obtained visas to enter the United States without difficulty. It refers to other terrorism-related crimes committed over the past 15 years by foreign nationals who entered the United States using either short-term visas — as visitors, students or temporary workers — or as refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S.

Of course everyone knows the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. The order means that we will turn away Iraqis who helped us and are in danger in their own country.

refugees-demonstrating-in-migrant-camp-in-france

The New York Times: Fears That Trump’s Visa Ban Betrays Friends and Bolsters Enemies.

CAIRO — Across the Muslim world, the refrain was resounding: President Trump’s freeze on refugee arrivals and visa requests from seven predominantly Muslim countries will have major diplomatic repercussions, worsen perceptions of Americans and offer a propaganda boost to the terrorist groups Mr. Trump says he is targeting.

Mr. Trump’s stance has been evident since the early days of his campaign, when he advocated a “complete and total shutdown” of all Muslims entering the United States.

President Trump has since softened his language, casting his order on Friday as a way to keep terrorists, not Muslims, out of the United States.

“We don’t want them here,” Mr. Trump said as he signed the order at the Pentagon. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”

But in interviews with dozens of officials, analysts and ordinary citizens across Muslim-majority countries, there was overwhelming agreement that the order issued Friday signaled a provocation: a sign that the American president sees Islam itself as the problem.

“I think this is going to alienate the whole Muslim world,” said Mouwafak al-Rubaie, a lawmaker and former Iraqi national security adviser in Iraq.

This heartless order by tRump will be challenged in the courts.

An Iraqi refugee family

An Iraqi refugee family

The New York Times: Refugees Detained at U.S. Airports, Prompting Legal Challenges to Trump’s Immigration Order.

President Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees was put into immediate effect Friday night. Refugees who were in the air on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports.

The detentions prompted legal challenges as lawyers representing two Iraqi refugees held at Kennedy Airport filed a writ of habeas corpus early Saturday in the Eastern District of New York seeking to have their clients released. At the same time, they filed a motion for class certification, in an effort to represent all refugees and immigrants who they said were being unlawfully detained at ports of entry.

Mr. Trump’s order, which suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, created a legal limbo for individuals on the way to the United States and panic for families who were awaiting their arrival.

Mr. Trump’s order also stops the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and it bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

It was unclear how many refugees and immigrants were being held nationwide in the aftermath of the executive order. The complaints were filed by a prominent group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

Just reading the words “President Trump” makes me physically ill.

On bright spot is that the tRump people have walked back a number of the ridiculous plans they’ve proposed. Rachel Maddow did a good report on this last night. If you didn’t see it, I hope you’ll go watch it. And while you’re there, please check out Lawrence O’Donnell’s open monologue about the abject humiliations tRump has suffered over the past two days. I know everyone is demoralized, and I am too. But we have to keep hope alive.

Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and do your best do enjoy the weekend.


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! Let’s take a look at what’s happening in the news today.

The Daily Mail has some excerpts from a new book about the Osama bin Laden assassination mission. Apparently President Obama was out on the golf course until about 20 minutes before it all went down.

The claims are from Chuck Pfarrer, a former SEAL team commander, in a book called SEAL Target Geronimo.

He has spoken to several of the men who carried out the operation at Bin Laden’s mansion hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2.

Mr Pfarrer paints a very different picture to the official photo released at the time which shows Mr Obama and advisers huddled round a table in the White House situation room as footage was beamed from a drone 15,000ft above the al-Qaeda leader’s mansion.

Mr Pfarrer says the President’s role was largely inflated and suggests he stayed out on the golf course for so long so he could distance himself in case it went wrong. Mr Pfarrer writes: ‘If this had completely gone south, he was in a position to disavow.’

Pfarrer also claims that “when they burst into Bin Laden’s room, his wife screamed: ‘No, no, don’t do this… it’s not him!'”

More horrible details keep coming out about the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State. Here’s a timeline of events published by CNN. The reports of assistant coach Jerry Sandusky go back as far as 1994, and it’s clear that head coach Joe Paterno was aware of Sandusky’s behavior. In 1998, there was an investigation by Penn State Police and Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare of Sandusky showering naked with an 11-year-old boy. The incident was reported by the boy’s mother. Are we supposed to believe that Paterno wasn’t informed of this investigation? Give me a break!

Then, in 2002,

According to the grand jury report, a graduate assistant allegedly tells Coach Joe Paterno that he saw Sandusky in the locker room shower the night before, performing anal sex on a young boy he estimated to be 10 years old….

Paterno reports the incident to Athletic Director Tim Curley, saying the graduate assistant had seen Sandusky “fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy,” according to the grand jury. Later, the assistant is summoned to a meeting with Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz.

So first, Paterno minimizes the incident in his report and then nothing is done and Paterno just lets it slide. But apparently Paterno isn’t a target in the case.

Quite a few writers are calling for Paterno to resign, however. From the LA Times:

In 46 seasons as the football coach at Penn State University, Joe Paterno appeared to create a culture of winning and decency he called “Success with Honor.”

Now that the culture has been exposed as a haven for an alleged child molester, Paterno needs to do the honorable thing and resign before he coaches another game.

It’s sad that the winningest coach in major college football history will end his career with a giant “L” in the human-being department, but not nearly so sad as the idea that boys may have been abused because football’s most controlling boss did nothing.

From Lawyers, Guns, and Money:

There can be little doubt that Paterno has known since at least 1998 that Sandusky had a “problem” with “inappropriate behavior” toward children, i.e., he was a child molester. That’s when the campus police did a six-week investigation after a mother reported to them that her 11-year-old son had showered with Sandusky. From the grand jury report:

The mother of Victim 6 confronted Sandusky about showering with her son, the effect it had had on her son, whether Sandusky had sexual feelings when he hugged her naked son in the shower, and where Victim 6′s buttocks were when Sandusky hugged him in the shower. Sandusky said he had showered with other boys and Victim 6′s mother tried to make him promise never to shower with a boy again but he would not. She asked him if his “private parts” had touched Victim 6 when he bear-hugged him. Sandusky replied, “I don’t know . . . maybe.” At the conclusion of the second conversation, after Sandusky was told he could not see Victim 6 any more, Sandusky said, “I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.”

To put it mildly, it’s extremely unlikely that in a little town like State College, PA, word of this investigation didn’t get back to Paterno. This supposition is bolstered by Sandusky’s otherwise strange “retirement” the following year.

Paterno should be prosecuted, but because of his reputation, he won’t. At the very least, he should lose his job.

According to the National Journal, President Obama is considering issuing an executive order that would deal with an “earmark workaround” that members of Congress have been using.

In a move that could escalate hostilities with Congress, President Obama may be planning to use his executive authority to publicize special funding requests that lawmakers make for pet projects.

A memo that the White House has floated on Capitol Hill would require executive branch agencies to make public any letter from a member of Congress seeking special consideration for any project or organization vying for government funding….

The threat to name and shame would potentially cut off another avenue members of Congress have for influencing government spending in their own back yards. It comes at a time that Obama is ratcheting up his campaign rhetoric against Congress, which he blames for blocking his efforts to stimulate the economy, on the eve of his 2012 reelection effort.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Some senior citizen protesters blocked traffic in Chicago yesterday.

Chicago police on Monday issued citations to 43 senior citizens and their supporters who linked arms to block an intersection near the city’s financial district.

The action was part of a protest against proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other benefits.

The Jane Addams Senior Caucus (JASC), their supporters and “Occupy Chicago” began the demonstration with a rally outside the office of Illinois Sens. Mark Kirk (R) and Dick Durbin (D). The group, which organizers claimed was nearly 1,500-strong, then marched to the Federal Plaza.

Traffic at the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and Clark Street was blocked for about an hour, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“At every level of society, Americans are under attack,” said Karen Bocker, an “Occupy Chicago” participant and grandmother of four.

Matt Yglesias learned yesterday that Noam Chomsky had mentioned him unfavorably in a speech on receiving a Peace Prize in Sydney, Australia. Be sure to read Yglesias’ convoluted explanation of International Law as it relates to the state murder of Osama bin Laden. One commenter wrote that Yglesias had achieved a

Fantastic career milestone. Every pundit needs a personalized bitchfest with someone more famous. Next, Matt should try getting into a fistfight with Norman Mailer, or get into a William F. Buckley/Gore Vidal-esque television spat with Andrew Sullivan.

The fistfight with Norman Mailer would certainly be entertaining, since Mailer died in 2007. How about a beer drinking contest with the ghost of Jack Kerouac?

Politico reports that Herman Cain will hold a press conference in response to the allegations by Sharon Bialek.

CNN and ABC News’ Michael Falcone are reporting that Herman Cain, who has said he’s not commenting and it’s the “end of story” several times in the past week, will hold a press conference in Arizona tomorrow to address the latest allegations today, made by Chicago single mom Sharon Bialek.

In a series of tweets, Falcone also said the Cain campaign is questioning Bialek’s motives.

I guess he’ll also have to answer questione about a fifth woman.

A former USAID worker claims Herman Cain asked her to set up dinner with a woman who attended a speech he gave in 2002, the Washington Examiner is reporting tonight.

The worker – 40-year-old Donna Donella, of Arlington – told the paper that the moment came after Cain gave a paid speech in Egypt that year. A woman in the crowd posed a query to Cain during the speech, the Examiner said.

Donella told them “And after the seminar was over, Cain came over to me and a colleague and said, ‘Could you put me in touch with that lovely young lady who asked the question, so I can give her a more thorough answer over dinner?’”

She was “suspicious of Cain’s motives and delined to set up the date,” the Examiner reporter wrote.

That’s what I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about.


Going around Congress

It has been clear from the very beginning of the Obama administration that Republicans were out to make him a one term president and to tank just about any initiative he could possibly make.  It has amazed me that the President sought middle ground with folks that had pre-announced their intention to find none.  I could never figure out why executive orders were not flying out of the White House from the get go. It seems that re-election prospects and the economy are now registering as bleak enough to justify that strategy.

In a few short minutes, President Obama will announce a series of executive branch orders that will deal with refinancing mortgages and student loans. He’s in Las Vegas today which is undoubtedly home to  the worst of the housing crisis. The major problem recently has been with underwater mortgages.  The new loans will require no appraisal, no credit check, and you will not have have to be 90 days delinquent.  You can miss only one payment to qualify.  Evidently the new strategy is to move instead of wait for lawmakers.

According to an administration official, Mr. Obama will kick off his new offensive in Las Vegas, ground zero of the housing bust, by promoting new rules for federally guaranteed mortgages so that more homeowners, those with little or no equity in their homes, can refinance and avert foreclosure.

Interesting enough, I just was in Denver discussing a Philadelphia Fed study that showed how the current refinancing programs were actually encouraging default on primary mortgages.   Hopefully, this will reduce the time period between experiencing financial stress and getting relief for many home owners.

And Wednesday in Denver, the official said, Mr. Obama will announce policy changes to ease college graduates’ repayment of federal loans, seeking to alleviate the financial concerns of students considering college at a time when states are raising tuition.

The president’s announcements will bookend a three-day Western trip during which he also will hold fund-raising events in the two cities — both Nevada and Colorado are election battlegrounds — as well as in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The “We can’t wait” campaign is a new phase in Mr. Obama’s so-far unsuccessful effort — punctuated until now by his cries of “Pass this bill!” on the stump — to pressure Republicans to support the job creation package he proposed after Labor Day. It comes after unanimous votes by Senate Republicans in the past week to block the plan; House Republican leaders have refused to put the measure to a vote.

There are two possible ways this can help.  First, it may keep homes from going to foreclosure and being placed on the market.  This could possibly slow down the price decline in the market which would stop forcing home values into the underwater condition.  Second, lower mortgage payments could keep people their homes and free up some income for other expenditures. The details of the student loan plan have not been announced yet but the President will be talking about it in Denver on Wednesday.   Let’s hope some of this works.  Better late than never.