Friday Reads: Venal Reads and Ethereal Art

“White Rose and Red Rose” by Margaret MacDonald MacKintosh (Glasgow School of Art Nouveau)

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I’m going to comfort us with some artwork from Margaret MacDonald MacKintosh who is one of the artists of the Glasgow School of Art Nouveau.  My grandmother went to college during this period of style and as part of the philosophy of the time she learned how to do an art.  She did wood burning.  My sister has one of her vases and I have two of her handkerchief boxes.

I fell in love with the stylized flowers and ladies of the artists of this period through her. She died when I was pretty young but I managed to scoop up all most all of the Art Nouveau things in the house that landed in the basement in my painting corner until they got drug off to my dorm room at university.  I have her gorgeous face powder jar with silver lid and embellishments sitting on my desk right next to this laptop.  I was fortunate–at 7–to be the only one interested in any of this.

So, it appears that KKKremlin Caligula may have fallen for the oldest NK trick in its book.  One that somewhat ensnared Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter during their terms.  Will this time be any different?

He’s agreed to meet “little Rocket Man” who the South Koreans insist is ready to disarm.  Like Charlie Brown facing Lucy’s football, we’ve seen this play before.  Is the son any more reliable than his father or grandfather before him?  Here’s alink to the Arms Control history between SK, NK and the US.

For years, the United States and the international community have tried to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and its export of ballistic missile technology. Those efforts have been replete with periods of crisis, stalemate, and tentative progress towards denuclearization, and North Korea has long been a key challenge for the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

The United States has pursued a variety of policy responses to the proliferation challenges posed by North Korea, including military cooperation with U.S. allies in the region, wide-ranging sanctions, and non-proliferation mechanisms such as export controls. The United States also engaged in two major diplomatic initiatives to have North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons efforts in return for aid.

In 1994, faced with North Korea’s announced intent to withdraw from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires non-nuclear weapon states to forswear the development and acquisition of nuclear weapons, the United States and North Korea signed the Agreed Framework. Under this agreement, Pyongyang committed to freezing its illicit plutonium weapons program in exchange for aid.

Following the collapse of this agreement in 2002, North Korea claimed that it had withdrawn from the NPT in January 2003 and once again began operating its nuclear facilities.

The second major diplomatic effort were the Six-Party Talks initiated in August of 2003 which involved China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. In between periods of stalemate and crisis, those talks arrived at critical breakthroughs in 2005, when North Korea pledged to abandon “all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs” and return to the NPT, and in 2007, when the parties agreed on a series of steps to implement that 2005 agreement.

Those talks, however, broke down in 2009 following disagreements over verification and an internationally condemned North Korea rocket launch. Pyongyang has since stated that it would never return to the talks and is no longer bound by their agreements. The other five parties state that they remain committed to the talks, and have called for Pyongyang to recommit to its 2005 denuclearization pledge.

Embroidered panel circa 1902

This site has a link to all the efforts placed in chronological order.  It’s a good link to save and review as we take a look at Charlie Brown facing that football yet again.

The dotard is so hungry for a win and attention that he completely blindsided his State Department. The State Department just lost its chief North Korea expert on top of that.  He even rushed to the podium a few hours after the State Department had announced there would be no news on the Koreas.   Tillerson has already walked this back a bit insisting there may be “talks” but no “negotiations”.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson drew a distinction Friday between “talks” with North Korea and “negotiations,” arguing that President Donald Trump’s willingness to chat with Kim Jong Un shouldn’t be construed as anything more than that.

The stunning announcement that Trump had agreed to a meeting with the North Korean leader raised questions about what had changed after months of Tillerson and other Trump officials insisting the conditions weren’t right for negotiations with Pyongyang. Tillerson said that Trump has been open to mere talks and a meeting with Kim “for some time,” and had decided on Thursday that “the time was right.”

Indeed, the nation’s diplomats are trying seriously to not give North Korea what it so desperately craves.  That would be an air of legitimacy with no cost.

President Trump’s high-wire gambit to accept a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sets off a scramble among U.S. officials to assemble a team capable of supporting a historic summit of longtime adversaries and determine a viable engagement strategy.

State Department officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were playing down the immediacy of talks in the hours before the White House rolled out the South Korean national security adviser, who made the surprise announcement that Trump would meet with Kim.

The apparent lack of coordination marked a pattern of mixed messaging that has characterized the Trump administration’s North Korea diplomacy since Pyongyang launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile last year, sparking the Trump White House’s biggest national security crisis to date.

Now the White House has committed to an unprecedented meeting at a time when the administration lacks a fully staffed cadre of diplomats and advisers.

The U.S. point person on North Korea, special envoy Joseph Yun, announced his retirement in late February and has not been replaced. More than a year in, the administration has yet to nominatean ambassador to South Korea. And the Senate has not confirmed the top U.S. diplomat to eastern Asia.

The artist

Many politicians without a grounding in our Foreign and Diplomatic policy history naively agree to “meet with every one”.  This was something Obama said he would do at one point.  However, the State Department quickly brought him into the fold.  Obama’s first year was centered squarely on our allies.  

But perhaps his priorities have been hinted at in comments made by Hillary Clinton, the designated U.S. secretary of state, earlier this week.

“The new administration will reach out across the Atlantic to leaders in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and others including and especially, the new democracies.”

Hillary Clinton was pretty clear on the subject of just meeting with every one through out her career including during a debate in 2007 with then candidate Obama.

Q: Is Sen. Obama “not yet ready” to be president?

CLINTON: I’m running on my own qualifications and experience. It’s really up to the voters to make these decisions. I think we have a great group of candidates. You don’t have to be against anybody. You can choose who you’re for.

Q: But you did say that Sen. Obama’s views on meeting with foreign dictators are “naive and irresponsible.” Doesn’t that imply that he’s not ready for the office?

CLINTON: Well, we had a specific disagreement, because I do not think that a president should give away the bargaining chip of a personal meeting with any leader, unless you know what you’re going to get out of that. It takes a lot of planning to move an agenda forward, particularly with our adversaries. You should not telegraph to our adversaries that you’re willing to meet with them without preconditions during the first year in office.

OBAMA: Strong countries and strong presidents meet and talk with our adversaries. We shouldn’t be afraid to do so.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

My friend Tim Shorrock–whose an expert on the Koreas–thinks it’s possible this might be a good thing. He’s exploring things today on Democracy Now.  He’s met with the new SK President and knows the situation fairly well.  He believes this might work.

Well, the significance is that when President Moon took office last May, he said South Korea should be in the driver’s seat of the Korea peace initiative and in engagement with North Korea. South Korea should be in the driver’s seat. And he has remained there, and he has stayed there. He made offers last year to North Korea to meet. They rejected it. They didn’t respond for over a year, as they kept going on their nuclear and missile program to defend themselves against what they believe is a threat from the United States. And finally, on January 1st, Kim Jong-un said he would send a high-level delegation to the Olympics and would engage with talks with South Korea. And this is a result of the South Korean initiative.

And so, you know, the fact that Trump may have poked his head in there and may have heard about the meeting, briefing, at the last minute, shows that South Korea is in fact in the driver’s seat. And I think that’s very important. And, you know, the United States has been supporting these initiatives, despite the fact that Vice President Pence went to the Olympics and completely ignored the North Koreans behind him and was very rude to his Korean hosts. They know that these talks have been going on. And so, I think we really need to focus on the role that South Korea has played and the historical—you know, the history of North-South engagement and talks.

“Junirosen “1898

He also has inkled he might be  on Chris Hayes later today. You may want to read his earlier thoughts here at The Nation.

As a wide range of American experts and former policy-makers have argued, if the United States is serious about negotiations, it must respond to Pyongyang’s fears by offering an “off-ramp” with something in return. The dual-freeze proposal “could lead to a breakthrough in the impasse, but this would require Washington to seriously consider its own responsibility for resolving the nuclear problem,” wrote John Merrill, the former chief of the Northeast Asia division of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department, in a recent op-edfor the Japanese newspaper Nikkei Asian Review.

Specifically, that means addressing North Korea’s concerns, including its belief that nuclear weapons are its only defense against a United States that turned the country into ashes during the Korean War and is threatening to do so again. The North is also (understandably) worried about the war games, in which thousands of US and South Korean soldiers train for nuclear strikes as well as “decapitation” operations that would eliminate North Korea’s leadership. And therein lies the way out.

North Korea says that it will not negotiate until the United States formally ends the state of enmity that exists between the two nations—steps that both sides agreed to take during the only successful round of US–North Korean negotiations, in the late 1990s. It restated that formula in August, when Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told a forum of Asian diplomats that the North would not put its nukes and missiles on the bargaining table “unless the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. against the [North] are fundamentally 
eliminated.”

Washington should see that as an opening and consider concrete steps to convince North Korea—as well as the South—that it wants to resolve this conflict without a war. Number one on that list should be an offer to curtail the military exercises that began in late August and will pick up again—with a far greater number of troops—next spring. But there’s only one way to know if this approach will work: Send Secretary Tillerson to Pyongyang, and start talking. Judging by his recent compliments to Kim’s “restraint,” that may be about to happen.

“Queen of Hearts” ; one of a set of the 4 Queens

 

Trump’s been fixated on just about everywhere but our allies and democracies.  Many feel that Trump is giving NK what it’s always wanted.

For more than two decades, successive North Korean leaders—first Kim Il Sung, then Kim Jong Il, and now Kim Jong Un—have sought to meet a sitting U.S. president as equals and enter comprehensive talks on the future of the Korean Peninsula. No sitting president has accepted; Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both went to North Korea, but after their terms had ended.

There was a good reason for this U.S. refusal to meet with any North Korean leader. Not only do the two countries have a deep history of mistrust and enmity, with Pyongyang not only regularly threatening nuclear war but also having defected from multiple diplomatic agreements, a one-on-one meeting with a U.S. president would serve as a major propaganda coup for the North.

Last year, when North Korea credibly demonstrated that it had mastered the technology required to throw thermonuclear payloads across the globe, to U.S. homeland targets, its envoys began referencing the idea of a “balance of power” with the United States. The idea was for Pyongyang to place itself in a stable nuclear deterrent relationship with the United States.

North Korea has long sought to be treated as an equal by Washington; nuclear weapons, in addition to the pragmatic survival and deterrence benefits they confer, undoubtedly also bring Pyongyang status. Kim hopes to convert that status into diplomatic capital, sitting down with Trump for a comprehensive discussion about the future of the Korean Peninsula, nuclear weapon state to nuclear weapon state.

It’s not clear that the Trump administration has internalized this.

Let’s add to the amazing level of corruption achieved by the Trump/Kushner Family Crime Syndicate with this tidbit. “Jersey Shore town seeks ferry to dock next to Kushner resort.”

The federal government has been advising a beach town on the Jersey Shore on plans to build a pier and start a ferry service that would speed New Yorkers to the doorstep of a resort co-owned by Jared Kushner.

Kushner’s resort sits right next to the proposed pier, which places the federal government in the awkward position of helping steer a project that would benefit President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Once the project is complete, a former city official said, it would boost property values at the Kushner resort, which is currently selling 269 condos for as much as $1.9 million each.

“The Mysterious Garden”

And this: “Michael Cohen used Trump company email in Stormy Daniels arrangements.”

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney used his Trump Organization email while arranging to transfer money into an account at a Manhattan bank before he wired $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence.

The lawyer, Michael Cohen, also regularly used the same email account during 2016 negotiations with the actress — whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — before she signed a nondisclosure agreement, a source familiar with the discussions told NBC News.

And Clifford’s attorney at the time addressed correspondence to Cohen in his capacity at the Trump Organization and as “Special Counsel to Donald J. Trump,” the source said.

 

“The Three Perfumes”

Sam Nuneberg has showed up to the Grand Jury as ordered.

Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg arrived at District Court in Washington, DC, Friday morning, where he is expected to deliver federal grand jury testimony as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Nunberg is the first recognizable Trump campaign affiliate to appear at a grand jury hearing related to Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election by walking

through the main entrance of the federal courthouse and heading to the grand jury area. Other witnesses have presumably testified before Mueller’s grand jury since it started meeting last July, but none have made as public an appearance.

Nunberg did not speak to the press outside the courthouse or on his way into the grand jury area Friday morning. He was accompanied by his lawyer, and a court marshal led them into the grand jury area at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Are we all winning yet?  Is this how winning feels?

Well, check in and let us know what’s on your reading and blogging list today!


Friday Reads: Here comes those crazy, hazy, lazy days of Summer Violence

beach-photography-shorpy-vintage-favim-com-153392Good Morning!

The Presidential primary season ends on Tuesday but I seriously doubt the bizarre behavior of the men left in the race will stop at that point.  What’s worse is that I doubt the violent and nasty behaviors of their supporters will change much either.

We had another night of violence at a Trump Rally in San Jose California.    I really feel like we’re careening towards Banana Republic status more rapidly than usual given the dynamics of both the Trump and the Sanders campaign.  Both hide their privilege–and their taxes–behind the bravado of populism and anger.  Both have policy suggestions and actions that are contradictory and unactionable. Both have sets of True Believers that seem willing to do anything and do so with complicit and explicit consent of the candidate.   Both parties are at a loss to control the surrounding chaos too.  The Republicans have folded in the face of that chaos.  The Democrats are trying to carry on behind the standard bearer.  It’s a difficult time.

Josh Marshall of TPM analyzes this current wave of violence.

The rule of law is the only way to fight the bacillus Trump and Trumpism represents in this campaign. Trump introduced the violence and eliminationism into the campaign. His enemies are now following suit, indeed in significant ways expanding it. That’s not protest; it’s mob violence. The one saving grace of last night’s free-for-all and earlier ones is the sheer prevalence of social media. We’re seeing smartphone videos mainly from journalists who were on the scene. But if you look in the background of these videos, almost everyone who isn’t hitting, getting hit or actively taunting is holding up a hand cam of some sort. Everyone involved is readily identifiable, from multiple angles. They should all be identified, tracked down and prosecuted, not primarily as punishment but as deterrence.

Trumpism is a wave of disinhibition. Everybody gets caught up in it. What I wrote back in March during the height of the protester beatings seems even more apropos today …

What we have seen over the last two weeks isn’t just an escalation of chaos and low level violence but a progressive normalization of unacceptable behavior – more racist verbal attacks, more violence. This is in turn clearly attracting more people who want trouble – on both sides. If you’re an angry racist who wants to act out on his anger, can you imagine any better place to go than a Trump rally? If you hate Trump, his supporters and all he stands for and want to get physical about it, where best to go?

All groups have people looking for trouble. Trump events are the best place to find it. Are the folks who got violent more angry, more anti-racist or more righteous in their grievance than the folks who didn’t? Highly doubtful. They’re just more violent.

kids-beachIndeed, any one looking to vent their anger only needs to go to a Trump Rally.  Last night’s protesters turned ugly quick on a campaign that’s marketing racism, nativism, and anger.

Protesters jumped on cars, pelted Trump supporters with eggs and water balloons, snatched signs and stole “Make America Great” hats off supporters’ heads before burning the hats and snapping selfies with the charred remains.

Several people were caught on camera punching Trump supporters. At least one attacker was arrested,according to CNN, although police did not release much information.

“The San Jose Police Department made a few arrests tonight after the Donald Trump Rally,” police said in a statement. “As of this time, we do not have specific information on the arrests made. There has been no significant property damage reported. One officer was assaulted.”

In one video circulating widely on social media, two protesters tried to protect a Trump supporter as other protesters attacked him and called him names.

Another video captured a female Trump supporter taunting protesters before being surrounded and struck in the face with an egg and water balloons.

 

Again, the ugliness outside is as bad as the ugliness inside where Donald Trump attacks just about every constitutional principal tumblr_magiuqPkXl1qldhy8o1_1280that’s ever been established by our democratically enacted governing bodies. He’s declared war on the press and the judiciary whenever they don’t do his bidding or act slavish towards him.

A Donald Trump campaign staffer and a private security guard removed a POLITICO reporter from a campaign rally here on Thursday evening for reporting at the event without the campaign’s permission.

A campaign staffer spotted the reporter typing on a laptop outside of the press pen at the San Jose Convention Center and asked the reporter, who was attending on a general admission ticket, if he had press credentials. The Trump campaign has refused to credential the reporter for multiple events.

The staffer said he would consult with his superiors and returned minutes later with a private security officer who instructed the reporter to leave the premises, escorting him out a nearby exit.

“The campaign is not aware of the incident or any details pertaining to it and therefore cannot comment,” wrote campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks in an email. She added that the campaign is “looking into it.”

Thursday’s ejection occurred as Trump mounts an increasingly caustic campaign against the free press.

After weeks of media scrutiny about donations he promised to veterans groups, the presumptive GOP nominee held a news conference Tuesday to announce the groups that received the money. But Trump, who often refers to journalists as “scum” and “slime” — used the event instead to lambaste reporters for asking questions about the donations in the first place, referring to one ABC reporter as “sleaze.”

According to the Washington Post and the Associated Press, Trump sent many of the checks after reporters began asking the campaign about the fate of the donations. The total also fell short of the $6 million he originally boasted.

In response to Trump’s haranguing of reporters at the press conference, veteran newsman Dan Rather wrote, “a shudder went down my spine.”

tumblr_m3txogfice1rsmewgo1_1280Trump continues to attack the Judge in charge of the serious fraud case against Trump University and demonstrates a distinct lack of knowledge about the judicial system as well.  This is Adam Liptak’s analysis from the NYT.  A video there shows the speeches with Trump saying things that clearly show his contempt for  law.

Donald J. Trump’s blustery attacks on the press, complaints about the judicial system and bold claims of presidential power collectively sketch out a constitutional worldview that shows contempt for the First Amendment, the separation of powers and the rule of law, legal experts across the political spectrum say.

Even as much of the Republican political establishment lines up behind its presumptive nominee, many conservative and libertarian legal scholars warn that electing Mr. Trump is a recipe for a constitutional crisis.

“Who knows what Donald Trump with a pen and phone would do?” asked Ilya Shapiro, a lawyer with the libertarian Cato Institute.

With five months to go before Election Day, Mr. Trump has already said he would “loosen” libel laws to make it easier to sue news organizations. He has threatened to sic federal regulators on his critics. He has encouraged rough treatment of demonstrators.

His proposal to bar Muslims from entry into the country tests the Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom, due process and equal protection.

And, in what was a tipping point for some, he attacked Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel of the Federal District Court in San Diego, who is overseeing two class actions against Trump University.

Mr. Trump accused the judge of bias, falsely said he was Mexican and seemed to issue a threat.

“They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace,” Mr. Trump said. “O.K.? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case?”

David Post, a retired law professor who now writes for the Volokh Conspiracy, a conservative-leaning law blog, said those comments had crossed a line.

“This is how authoritarianism starts, with a president who does not respect the judiciary,” Mr. Post said. “You can criticize the judicial system, you can criticize individual cases, you can criticize individual judges. But the president has to be clear that the law is the law and that he enforces the law. That is his constitutional obligation.”

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton continues to ignore Sanders–and rightly so–focusing attacks on the character and temperament of Donald f82b45eac14dce70e2868b0218d91e2bTrump.  Yesterday’s speech on foreign policy was a clear laundry list of the ways that Donald Trump is unfit for the office of President.  The speech was well-received by the media.  The only critic of the speech outside of Republican circles that are consolidating around Trump was nasty Senator Bernie Sanders whose march to irrelevance can’t come soon enough.

“Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different; they are dangerously incoherent,” she said. “They aren’t even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”

Sanders has taken issue with Clinton’s own foreign policy, routinely blasting her for her early Iraq War support and her praise of Henry Kissinger, another former secretary of State.

In his statement on Thursday, Sanders added, “We need a foreign policy based on building coalitions and making certain that the brave American men and women in our military do not get bogged down in perpetual warfare in the Middle East. That’s what I will fight for as president.”

Both Trump and Sanders–and a cackling chorus of jackdaws in the media–continue to demonize Clinton.  Both Sanders and Trump get away with annoying and aggressive personalities that have crossed the line to rudeness a long time ago.  Yet, it’s Clinton that is deemed not human enough.

How can we explain the virulent hatred toward Hillary Clinton from men and women of both political parties? The attacks against her: Benghazi, personal emails, lying, etc., are relatively minor, the usual political scuttlebutt, in contrast to the extreme intensity of her vilification. So many people say they just don’t like her, and this negative impression is not new. Since her role as First Lady in Bill Clinton’s White House, she has been portrayed as a witch, a Lady Macbeth, a ruthlessly ambitious, egocentric woman who considers herself above the law to achieve her exploitative goals. Some see her as a shrieking harpy. As a psychoanalyst, I believe that the intensity of this character assassination is motivated by a largely unconscious misogyny that is deeply rooted in the human (male and female) psyche. It is often triggered in response to a strong, independent woman. But this enmity is especially intense for Hillary, who is emotionally reserved and aggressive in her pursuit of the presidency. (See SNL’s recent hilarious caricatures of these qualities.)

None of her caring activities have dispelled the impression that she is cold and inhuman. Not her steadfast work on behalf of children. Not her unwavering support of women: their reproductive rights and equal pay, and her advocacy for disadvantaged minorities: blacks and Hispanics. Not her exemplary role as a wife, who remained faithful to her philandering husband, nor her role as a loving mother to her daughter, Chelsea.

Male presidential contenders like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump can act strongly, ambitiously, strategically and aggressively, and the public admires them for these traits rather than demanding “emotional warmth.” As a cool tempered woman, Hillary is judged by a different standard. In 2008, it was only when she broke down crying at a coffee house campaign stop that she was perceived as capable of feeling.

What upsets so many Americans about a strong, competitive woman?

It’s refreshing to see the media coverage of her speech yesterday. Matthew Yglesias writes “Hillary Clinton rolled out the anti-Trump argument that could deliver a landslide” at VOX.  This is no ringing endorsement of Hillary with the usual back handed jabs as well as a critique of Hillary trying to appeal to center right Republicans.

Over the course of the past year, Clinton has been talking primarily to Democratic Party primary voters. This argument — and this speech in general — is not one that will be especially appealing to them.

What she’s offering instead is an argument aimed at a much broader audience. It’s an argument that acknowledges, implicitly, that there are tens of millions of right-of-center Americans who’ve never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate but didn’t support Trump in the primary. Clinton is pitching an argument aimed at those people — one designed to offer little ideological or policy content in hopes of appealing to 70 percent of the population rather than 51 percent.

It’s essentially the argument that Business Insider’s Josh Barro made early this week — Trump carries too much tail risk:

It’s clear he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. So we can’t be certain which of these things he would do. But we can be certain that he’s capable of doing any or all of them. Letting ISIS run wild.  Launching a nuclear attack. Starting a ground war. These are all distinct possibilities with Donald Trump in charge.

In other words, ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen? Conservative-minded people aren’t going to be thrilled with a Clinton presidency, but they’ve already lived through eight years of Bill Clinton and eight years of Barack Obama. The country is still standing. With Trump, by contrast, we really have no idea what we’re going to get.

Donald Trump’s ideas, Clinton said, are “dangerously incoherent”; indeed, “they’re not ideas at all.” She calls him “temperamentally unfit” and raised the specter of nuclear war.

Here’s Fred Kaplan from Slate on Hillary’s speech: ” Hillary Clinton Just Kicked Trump in the Shins And showed that she’s certainly tough enough for the long haul.”mqdefault

For those who thought Hillary Clinton needed proxies or a running mate to attack Donald Trump with the savagery required of a long-slog campaign, her Thursday speech in San Diego should be a mind-changer.

The all-but-inevitable Democratic nominee showed that she’s fit to be her own attack dog, mauling her ill-matched Republican foe to shreds without getting muddy in the process.

Not two minutes into the speech, she calmly and coolly delivered this broadside:

Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different; they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies. He is not just unprepared, he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability, and immense responsibility. This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes, because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because someone got under his very thin skin.

The audience gasped at hearing “bizarre,” tittered at “personal feuds,” and burst into laughter and applause at “very thin skin.” They hadn’t heard any presidential candidate talk like this—they certainly hadn’t heard Clinton talk like this. It was a full takedown of Trump, but in an anti-Trump manner, spoken not in vague adolescent epithets (“stupid,” “idiotic,” “crooked,” “goofy”), but in an itemized checklist of his utter, almost laughable unsuitability for the job.

“I will leave it to the psychiatrists,” she said later, to explain Trump’s “bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America,” not least Vladimir Putin, for whom Trump shows not the slightest understanding and who, because of that, she reminded Trump—“will eat your lunch.”

bth_il_fullxfull134484191It’s pretty clear that Hillary is not going to fold like the cheap lawnchair campaign of Jeb Bush. She’s in it to win and that’s a good thing because it’s pretty evident that there’s some very dangerous ideas and people associated with Trump and Sanders.  The latter we should be rid of on Tuesday.  The former will be inciting violence in a city near you until November.  I don’t know how any Republican can look in the mirror knowing that.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 

 


Sunday Reads: GOP Pigs and Spots in Space…

$(KGrHqEOKnIE44R2dbwLBOWl4kko9w~~_35Good Morning!

It is the first Sunday in December, the year has gone by so damn fast. There has been all sorts of juicy items in the news, and I’ve got plenty of articles to share with you this morning.

Let us start of with several links on foreign policy, Hillary Clinton has been extremely busy in her final leg as Secretary of State.

The recent UN decision to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state has sparked another confrontational response from Israel. After the UN vote was announced an Israeli official made a statement that included the government backed settlement and construction of 3,000 new West Bank units.

The Daily Beast/Newsweek has a post up, Explaining Israel’s Reaction to the U.N.’s pro-Palestinian Vote

Israel’s leaders stayed surprisingly calm last week. In the weeks leading up to Thursday’s vote on upgrading the Palestinians’ U.N. membership, a few senior Israeli officials drafted a position paper focusing on how the government should respond. The U.N. move, the writers warned, threatened to “severely damage” Israel’s credibility and undermine the Jewish state’s position in future peace negotiations. But more than that, they added, the initiative could open the door to war-crimes prosecutions against Israelis at the International Criminal Court. The five-page paper, dated Nov. 12 and obtained by Newsweek, advised that if the vote went ahead, Israel should “exact a heavy price” from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas—a price to include dismantling his Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority. “A softer approach would amount to waving a white flag and admitting that the Israeli leadership is unable to rise to the challenge,” the writers concluded.

The upgrade, which the General Assembly approved last week by a huge majority, is a bitter pill for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It includes not only a boost in the Palestinians’ status from (U.N. jargon alert!) “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state,” but also a recognition of their right to all of the West Bank and Gaza, including territory that Israelis have settled since 1967. Even some dovish Israelis have problems with the resolution’s sweep. And yet Israel’s response—a dismissive statement from the prime minister and the floating of plans to build thousands of new housing units in the West Bank—fell well short of the threats to topple Abbas. “This is a meaningless resolution that won’t change anything on the ground,” Netanyahu said in a handout just before the vote.

Clinton has made it clear that she was not pleased with Israel’s decision to expand settlements further into the West Bank. New Israeli Settlements Set Back Peace, Clinton Says

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Israeli plans for new settlements near East Jerusalem do not help efforts to bring about a two-state solution to the Palestinian crisis.

Clinton told Israeli officials in Washington that plans for new settlements abutting East Jerusalem “set back the cause of a negotiated peace.”

“We all need to work together to find a path forward in negotiations that can finally deliver on a two-state solution. That must remain our goal,” Clinton said.

Clinton continued her remarks,

“President Abbas took a step in the wrong direction this week,” Clinton said. “We opposed his resolution. But we also need to see that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank still offers the most compelling alternative to rockets and permanent resistance.”

She says Palestinian Authority leaders deserve credit for real achievements on the ground — making their streets safe, overhauling governing institutions and cooperating with Israel to help enhance Israeli security.

“At a time when religious extremists claim to offer rewards in the hereafter, Israel needs to help those committed to peace deliver for their people in the here and now,” Clinton said.

When Israeli and Palestinian leaders are ready to return to direct negotiations, Secretary Clinton says President Barack Obama will be a full partner.

She says the United States stand ready to help Israel make more permanent its cease-fire with Hamas forces in Gaza. But that requires the continued cooperation of the new Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.

“We look to Egypt to intensify its efforts to crack down on weapons smuggling from Libya and Sudan into Gaza,” Clinton said. “I am convinced that if more rockets are allowed to enter Gaza through the tunnels, that will certainly pave the way for more fighting again soon.”

After Clinton made this statement she was joined in agreement by the British Foreign Secretary William Hague: Clinton and Hague attack Israel decision to build new settlements both,

…have launched attacks on an Israeli decision to build fresh settlements on occupied territory in the West Bank.

The Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu‘s decision to approve the construction of 3,000 new homes is widely seen as a response to the United Nations vote earlier this week that recognised a Palestinian bid to be a “non-member observer state”.

The US, with Israel, strongly opposed that move, while Britain abstained in the vote. But now both countries have criticised the Israeli settlement decision, saying it hurts the chances of a two-state solution and the search for peace in the troubled region.

Hague’s comments were the following.

Hague said he was “extremely concerned” at the plans, which have been reported in the Israeli press as including a four-square-mile area just east of Jerusalem that is seen as vital to keeping open a viable land corridor between the city and any future Palestinian state.

Hague asked Israel to reverse the decision and said the prospect of a successful two solution was receding. “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties,” he said in comments Saturday. “If implemented, these plans would alter the situation on the ground on a scale that makes the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly difficult to achieve.”

Hague added: “They would undermine Israel’s international reputation and create doubts about its stated commitment to achieving peace with the Palestinians.”

Sticking with Foreign Policy, I thought this was an interesting piece written by Stephen M. Walt. Never underestimate the power of confusion

If you read this blog, you’ve probably heard about the various “isms” in the field of international relations. There’s realism, of course, but also liberalism, idealism, and social constructivism. And don’t forget Marxism, even though hardly anybody claims to believe it anymore. These “isms” are essentially families of theory that share certain common assumptions. For example, realists see power and fear as the main drivers of world affairs, while liberals place more weight on human acquisitiveness and the power of institutions.

But there’s another major force in world affairs, and sometimes I think it deserves an “ism” all its own. With tongue in cheek and apologies to a famous Chinese sage, I’ll call it “Confusionism.” For Confusians, ignorance and stupidity are the real key to understanding state behavior, not fear, greed, ideals, class interests, or any of those other things that people think drive world affairs. When Confusians seek to explain why states act as they do, they start by assuming that leaders do not understand the problems they face, have only a vague sense of where they want to go, and no idea at all about how to get there. Instead of starting with the rational actor assumption beloved by economists, realists, and most liberals, Confusians hone in on all the reasons why humans typically get things wrong.

Hmmm, “isms” (aren’t those the things right-wing southern secessionist dislike?)

Confusionism is the opposite of the assorted conspiracy theories that you often read about. Some people believe that the world is run by a shadowy network of elites (e.g., the Trilateral Commission, Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, etc.). Other people think everything is ultimately the product of some secret Zionist conspiracy, or the machinations of oil companies and the military-industrial complex. Islamophobes are convinced there is some sort of well-oiled Muslim plot to infiltrate Europe and America, impose Sharia law, and stick all our young women in harems. If you read enough Robert Ludlum, watch The Matrix too often, or spend enough time patrolling the nether regions of the blogosphere, you might find yourself thinking along similar lines. If that happens, get help.

Okay, that is the first three paragraphs, just go read the whole thing will ya?

There is one thing I am grateful for these last four years, and that is Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. I will miss her tremendously when she retires at the start of Obama’s second term, and personally, I would feel more comfortable with John Kerry as SoS…but that is another story. Anyway, Clinton’s replacement will reveal new US foreign policy direction

With the imminent retirement of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, much speculation has arisen in Washington concerning her replacement. No matter whom the president chooses to nominate for the post, the political process of confirmation by the US Senate is sure to reveal much about the mindset of Republicans and Democrats entering Obama’s second term, and will certainly indicate the direction of US foreign policy in coming years.

Following President Barack Obama’s reelection, it was widely believed that US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice would be the president’s nominee to succeed Clinton.

With impeccable academic credentials, and experience as an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton White House, Rice is more than qualified. Rice is known for her direct and idealistic style of negotiation, and her less conciliatory, more confrontational style would likely take the practice of US foreign policy in a different direction than that charted by Clinton’s more pragmatic approach.

A greater and more direct US role in Middle Eastern affairs, and more emphasis on the role of foreign governments in human rights abuses and issues of social justice would likely mark the tenure of Rice.

Supposedly, there are rumors that Hillary is not thrilled with the prospect of Susan Rice replacing her at the Department of State. According to  Michael Sneed: Hillary Clinton no fan of Susan Rice, prefers Kerry for State

The big question: Who would Secretary of State Hillary Clinton like to get her job?

It ain’t embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is dealing with the way she handled the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Sneed is told if Hillary had to choose between Rice and U.S. Sen. John Kerry, who is head of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, she would prefer Kerry.

“Hillary is not close to Rice, who is tough — but is not the friendliest person,” said a top White House source. “And Hillary’s brief comment recently that Rice had done ‘a great job’ was considered underwhelming and tepid,” the source added.

Yes, that bit of gossip is followed by a story on Kate Middleton, but it does go along the lines of how I think many of us perceive the situation…that Kerry would be a better fit after Clinton.

Okay, enough on Foreign Affairs and Policy, before we go on to other stories…take a quick look at this from Tommy Christopher: Persistent Romnesia: Former Mitt Romney Chief Strategist Says ‘Nobody Liked Romney Except Voters’

If the recent fiscal cliff/Susan Rice piñata party news doldrums have got you down, take a break with what has to be the first published example of a resignation letter from every future job. Former Romney campaign chief strategist Stuart Stevens has penned the most deluded piece of writing since Norma Desmond filled out an order for new headshots. In a hilarious op-ed for The Washington Post, Stevens explains, among other things, that “Nobody liked Romney except voters.”

I know that BB wrote a great post on the “delusions” of the GOP and Romney’s camp, but anything that can make a reference to Sunset Blvd is too good to ignore.

And when it comes to the GOP, not only are they delusional…they are cruel. How One GOP Plutocrat Helped Make 20,000 Kids Homeless

Homelessness in New York has skyrocketed, thanks in part to years of conservative policy predicated on right-wing ideology.

There are   20,000 kids  sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City, according to the city’s latest estimate, a number that does not include homeless kids who are  not sleeping in shelters because their families have been turned away. Up to 65 percent of families who apply for  shelter don’t get in , and their options can be grim.

“Some end up sleeping in subway trains,” Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst at Coalition for the Homeless, tells AlterNet. “Some go to hospital emergency rooms or laundromats. Women are going back to their batterers or staying in unsafe apartments.”

Families that make it into shelters are taking longer to leave and move into stable, permanent housing. Asked by reporters why families were staying  30% longer than even last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “… it is a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before.”

“Is it great?”  He elaborated a day  later in response to outcry over his comments. “No. It’s not the Plaza Hotel … but that’s not what shelter is supposed to be and that’s not what the public can afford or the public wants.”

The above alternet story has many pages, it is important that you read them all. I have one more story related to the homeless. Winter problem: More homeless are living in cars

Phil Bell sleeps under three sleeping bags and two blankets in the back seat of his 1998 Buick. He parks outside truck stops and stores that are open 24 hours and rarely turns on his engine.

“You can’t leave the car running because it calls attention to you and burns too much gas,” he explains. “Being in the car is better than being outside or in a tent, but it gets really cold.”

Bell, 39, has been homeless since September. He was laid off by a Detroit auto parts maker and couldn’t pay his rent. He loaded his possessions into his car and took off. He made it this far and is looking for work here.

“I’m lucky,” Bell says. “At least I’ve got the car. Most people out here on the streets don’t have anything.”

I know these are long reads…if you can’t read them all in one shot, book mark them for later.

Now let’s get on with the easy Sunday reads, after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Live Blog #2: Obama v. Romney, Round 3, Foreign Policy Debate

Here’s a fresh thread to continue discussion of the debate. So far Romney sounds a bit incoherent to me. He keeps criticizing Obama for not leading and then when asked what he would do, he says he agrees with what Obama has done. He just doesn’t have the basic knowledge a president should have. Obama sounds like he’s losing his voice. I hope he’s not getting a cold.

So what do you think so far?


Sunday Reads: It being Labor Day and all…

Good Morning

After spending most of the night at the ER with my son, I honestly don’t have the energy to post many links today. So please bear with me…First a few articles to share with you and then a couple of cool links for Labor Day.

I know it has been a few days from the empty chair incident, but this from Juan Cole was good: Top Ten Clint Eastwood Empty-Chair Falsehoods | Informed Comment

From the Maddow blog, halleluiah, praying sent Isaac away from the RNC: This Week in God

Hillary is showing the world how classy she can be: HIllary Clinton Travels to the Cook Islands

And now for the Labor Day links…these are from the website BibliOdyssey. This first one has images from Japanese tradesmen and women. I guess I am partial to these few prints because they deal with weaving.

BibliOdyssey: Japanese Folk Trades

Japanese Folk Craft (NDL) b

Japanese Folk Craft (NDL) h

Japanese Folk Craft (NDL) d

And this one, from a children’s book. BibliOdyssey: Jack of All Trades

This rather rare children’s book of poetry and lithographic illustrations relating to various kinds of employment – some quite unusual – was first published in Fleet St in London in 1900. Text by JJ Bell. Illustrations by C Robinson.

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (rotated + cropped) a

Jack of All Trades – Title Page

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (phrenologist) (cropped)

The Phrenologist

Little Johannes jumped over his bed,
Little Johannes arrived on his head.
Oh, what a thump!
Oh, what a bump!
Big as a plum, and nearly as red!

“Call the phrenologist!” somebody said.

The great man came! Oh, wasn’t he wise,
With a pair of blue spectacles over his eyes?

He felt the boy’s head with finger and thumb:
he stopped at the bump, and remarked, “Ha, Hum!”
Oh, wasn’t he wise?
He said that Johannes -if nothing went wrong-
Would likely do something before very long!

And this is the end of my beautiful song.
But, wasn’t he wise?

bitonal lithographic caricature of crying bookseller

The Bookseller

Bookseller, Bookseller, why do you weep?
Because I must sell my books far too cheap.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why do you grin?
Because an old lady is just coming in.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why all this joy?
Because she requires a nice book for a boy.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why do you cough?
Ahem! Well, the discount forgot to come off.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why are you gay?
Beause it’s my best of business to-day.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why are you mad?
Because the half-sovereign I changed her is bad.

Take a look at the rest of those pictures at the links above and have a wonderful Sunday.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Last night, Reuters reported that President Obama has authorized “secret support for Syrian rebels.”

President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, sources familiar with the matter said.

Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence “finding,” broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.

This and other developments signal a shift toward growing, albeit still circumscribed, support for Assad’s armed opponents – a shift that intensified following last month’s failure of the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.

The White House is for now apparently stopping short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some U.S. allies do just that.

There’s much more at the link.

Yesterday, the House responded to the Senate’s passage of a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts for incomes of $250,000 or less by passing their own bill to extend all of the cuts, including those for the super-rich.

The Republican-led House of Representatives voted Wednesday to extend expiring George W. Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels for another year, a pre-election statement of the GOP’s unyielding opposition to raising taxes for any taxpayer.

Th 256 to 171 vote to preserve tax cuts first enacted during the Bush administration and renewed in 2010 since then fell largely along party lines, though 19 Democrats voted with Republicans to extend the tax cuts. One Republican was opposed.

It came after the House rejected a Democratic alternative, also largely on a partisan 170 to 257 vote, that would have preserve tax cuts for income up to $250,000 but allowed them to expire for the wealthy.

You probably heard that Fed Chair Ben Bernanke once again has refused to do anything new to stimulate employment.

According to its statement, the Fed won’t take any additional steps at the moment to boost the economy. No quantitative easing. No bold nwe statements. No trying to reduce mortgage rates further. The central bank’s forecast of “exceptionally low” interest rates through 2014 remains unchanged from its last report in June….

On the other hand, the committee’s statement does note that Fed officials are still poring over recent (and troubling) economic data. Growth has “decelerated” of late, with the U.S. economy expanding at a mere 1.5 percent pace in the second quarter of 2012. And the unemployment rate remains stuck at 8.2 percent. Meanwhile, inflation is expected to remain “at or below” the Fed’s target over the medium term. So is that enough to warrant more stimulus? The FOMC statement says, basically, ask us when we meet again in September:

The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments and will provide additional accommodation as needed to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability.

There’s an interesting article at Bloomberg Businessweek about Bernanke and the Fed: Bernanke, the Reluctant Revolutionary. The article makes a point that Dakinikat has often expressed:

Because of its demonstrated competence in crisis management, Bernanke’s Fed is being pulled into solving problems that the White House and Congress should be dealing with but aren’t. Housing? Under Bernanke the Fed has bought mortgage-backed securities to make loans cheaper and boost home sales. The fiscal cliff of spending cuts and tax hikes that threatens the economy at the start of 2013? The Fed’s loose money policies, by stimulating growth, are compensating at least partially for the chilling effect on hiring and investment that fears of the cliff are already causing.

It’s a lot, and Bernanke argues that too much is being put on the Fed’s shoulders. “Monetary policy is not a panacea,” he told the Joint Economic Committee of Congress on June 7. “It would be much better to have a broad-based policy effort addressing a whole variety of issues. I leave the details to Congress, which has considered many of these issues. I’d feel much more comfortable if Congress would take some of this burden from us and address those issues.”

It’s a lengthy piece, so if you’re interested do read the whole thing.

Early yesterday, the judge in the George Zimmerman case, Kenneth Lester, denied the defense motion that he “disqualify” himself “because of alleged bias.”

In the motion asking George Zimmerman’s judge to step down, Florida’s rules required Judge Lester to “determine only the legal sufficiency of the motion.” Zimmerman’s motion failed that test, Judge Lester wrote in his ruling.

But the judge did not further explain why he found the motion insufficient. That’s likely because Florida’s rules explicitly state: “No other reason for denial shall be stated, and an order of denial shall not take issue with the motion.”

Zimmerman’s motion had accused Judge Lester of making opinionated remarks about evidence and “advocat[ing] for Mr. Zimmerman to be prosecuted for additional crimes” in his July 5 order setting bail.

Poor George.

There’s quite a bit of news about Mitt Romney, but for some reason I’m resistant to writing about him at the moment. Amazing, huh? So I’m just going to quickly list some articles that you may want to take a look at.

You probably heard about the Brookings report that gives the kiss of death to Romney’s tax plan. The Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery (who leans right) covered it yesterday, and even she couldn’t sugarcoat it. Study: Romney tax plan would result in cuts for rich, higher burden for others

The study was conducted by researchers at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, who seem to bend over backward to be fair to the Republican presidential candidate. To cover the cost of his plan — which would reduce tax rates by 20 percent, repeal the estate tax and eliminate taxes on investment income for middle-class taxpayers — the researchers assume that Romney would go after breaks for the richest taxpayers first.

They even look at what would happen if Republicans’ dreams for tax reform came true and the proposal generated significant revenue through economic growth.

None of it helped Romney. His rate-cutting plan for individuals would reduce tax collections by about $360 billion in 2015, the study says. To avoid increasing deficits — as Romney has pledged — the plan would have to generate an equivalent amount of revenue by slashing tax breaks for mortgage interest, employer-provided health care, education, medical expenses, state and local taxes, and child care — all breaks that benefit the middle class.

“It is not mathematically possible to design a revenue-neutral plan that preserves current incentives for savings and investment and that does not result in a net tax cut for high-income taxpayers and a net tax increase for lower- and/or middle-income taxpayers,” the study concludes.

That should be the end of it, but of course many Americans don’t care about facts. Naturally, the Romney campaign says the study is “biased.”

There’s a very harsh assessment of Team Romney at Foreign Policy. Too Much Baggage: Mitt Romney needs to fire his foreign-policy team. Yesterday. I’m not going to excerpt from the piece, because it’s important to read the whole thing. I highly recommend it!

Michael Kinsley has a very good piece on Romney’s endless complaints about the supposed lack of respect President Obama (and by extension other liberals) for his supposed “success.”

Jared Diamond, the author of one of the books Romney referenced in his speech in Israel, says he was misquoted: Romney Hasn’t Done His Homework.

MITT ROMNEY’S latest controversial remark, about the role of culture in explaining why some countries are rich and powerful while others are poor and weak, has attracted much comment. I was especially interested in his remark because he misrepresented my views and, in contrasting them with another scholar’s arguments, oversimplified the issue.

It is not true that my book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” as Mr. Romney described it in a speech in Jerusalem, “basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.”

That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it. My focus was mostly on biological features, like plant and animal species, and among physical characteristics, the ones I mentioned were continents’ sizes and shapes and relative isolation. I said nothing about iron ore, which is so widespread that its distribution has had little effect on the different successes of different peoples. (As I learned this week, Mr. Romney also mischaracterized my book in his memoir, “No Apology: Believe in America.”)

And here’s the closing paragraph:

Mitt Romney may become our next president. Will he continue to espouse one-factor explanations for multicausal problems, and fail to understand history and the modern world? If so, he will preside over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history.

Please go read it. There’s much much more excoriation of Willard’s lies. Bwaaaaaahahahahahahaha!

Michael Kinsley has a great piece on Romney’s endless complaints about Americans who supposedly don’t respect his supposed “success.”

Romney’s ‘success’ problem: Is getting ahead in the U.S. simply a matter of brainpower and hard work, as the GOP candidate says? And if so, is everyone else stupid and lazy? Here’s just a bit of it:

Romney worries that Americans are losing their appreciation of success, as evidenced by President Obama’s desire to reduce the rewards of success by raising taxes on high incomes. He sees in this not just a bigger tax bill for successful people but an insult as well. An alternative perspective is that any successful person who feels personally insulted by a request from the president to share a bit of it is, in the immortal words of Liberace, crying “all the way to the bank” (or, to quote someone else, “a master of the fancied slight”).

You might also ask yourself: If Obama is insulting successful people by suggesting that their success doesn’t necessarily result entirely from their own hard work and brainpower, doesn’t that mean that Romney is insulting the vast majority of folks who are unsuccessful (by Romney’s exalted standard) by implying that they are lazy and stupid? If your success is entirely your own achievement, then your lack of success is entirely your own fault.

Finally, Haaretz is basically saying that Romney is Netanyahu’s puppet. Most of the article is for subscribers only, but here’s a screenshot of the page.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Open Thread: Hillary in India

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) watches a girl do karate during an anti-human trafficking event in Kolkata May 6, 2012.

[Click on the photo to see more pictures of Hillary Clinton in India.]

This is just going to be a link and photo dump, because I know absolutely nothing about Indian politics.

From the NY Daily News:

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, hoped to narrow a gap with India over Iran on Monday as she tried to throw a spotlight on issues dear to her heart such as the fight against sex trafficking.

Mrs Clinton was paying the first visit by a top US official to the eastern metropolis Kolkata and will then meet in New Delhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, amid concern that the growing US-India partnership has been drifting….

On Sunday, Mrs Clinton sought to draw attention to sex trafficking in India, where forced prostitution of women and girls is one of the largest illicit businesses.

Mrs Clinton appeared visibly moved as she watched a dance by former victims of sex trafficking, who recounted their plight in a synchronised performance designed as a form of therapy by the local group Kolkata Sanved.

Mrs Clinton called the recital “mesmerising” and thanked each of the six dancers, telling them she was proud of them. She was shown quilts which former trafficking victims sew as a way to give them new livelihoods.

“What you’re doing is so important to try to not only help yourselves but to help other young girls,” Mrs Clinton said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd L) holds a sari during an anti-human trafficking event in Kolkata May 6, 2012.

Here’s another article on the anti-trafficking event: Hillary’s date with history
She’s cheerleader in trafficking crusade

To them, she was “US ka bahut bara neta….Bill Clinton ki biwi (a top leader of the US….Bill Clinton’s wife)”. To her, they were the faces of a movement close to her heart.

When Poonam Khatoon, 16, and Uma Das, 19, finally found themselves face to face with Hillary Clinton at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre of the ICCR on Sunday afternoon, all it needed was a smile to break down the barriers.

“Aami bhabtei parini onar shamne darate parbo. Uni amader lorai-tey shamil hoyechhen, sheta ekta boro byapar (I couldn’t imagine I would be standing in front of her. She has joined our crusade, that’s a big thing),” Uma told Metro of her meeting with the US secretary of state.

Community worker Uma and Poonam, a student of Class IX, are daughters of women in prostitution involved with Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a grassroots movement to end sex trafficking. The duo took turns escorting Hillary through a pictorial journey of a trafficked girl.

At the end of the event, Hillary told the women she was their “cheerleader” and that she would “stand by” them. They asked her to talk publicly about human trafficking as much as she could.

The secretary of state’s keepsake from the Sunday afternoon rendezvous was a green wristband with the words: “Cool Men Don’t Buy Sex”.

Hillary not only wore the band immediately, she insisted that members of her entourage sport one each as well. “She was also gifted a T-shirt that read: ‘Together we can end sex trafficking’.

Another photo from the trafficking event

From the Washington Post:

NEW DELHI — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in India’s capital Monday with a clear message for the country’s leaders: Cooperate with us on with Iran.

Yet less than a mile from her meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, there was another group meeting with Indian leaders. An Iranian trade delegation is in New Delhi, overlapping with Clinton’s trip and potentially undermining one of its main purposes.

The Obama administration is turning up the pressure on India to join international sanctions against Iran that would choke off funds for the country’s nuclear program. India, which relies on Iran for about 12 percent of its oil imports, has so far been unwilling to go along.

“This is a regime that has a history of aggressive behavior,” Clinton warned of Iran during a town hall-style meeting Monday morning in Kolkata, her first stop in a three-day swing through India. “And I don’t think you deal with aggressors by giving in to them. … Our goal is resolve this peacefully and diplomatically, and that’s why we need India to be part of the international effort.”

Finally, a report from India on Hillary’s meeting with the prime minister:

New Delhi: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Hillary and the Prime Minister discussed several issues related to Indo-US relations. She also urged India to speed up the civil nuclear deal and cut oil imports from Iran….

Before her meeting with the Prime Minister, Hillary met Mamata Banerjee earlier on Monday and promised more US investment in West Bengal….

According to a US consulate statement, the top US diplomat, who had an hour-long meeting with Banerjee, discussed a range of issues including stepping up US investments in the state, according to a US consulate statement.

“Touching on issues, ranging from increasing US investment in West Bengal, including in the retail sector, US-India relations, regional affairs and strong people-to-people connections, the Secretary reaffirmed to the chief minister the US desire to work with India and West Bengal to deepen and broaden our partnership,” it said.