Tuesday Reads: Clowns and Freaks on Parade and Other News

2016_Republican_Clown_Car_Parade_-_Trump_Exta_Special_Edition_(18739683269)

Good Morning!!

How low can they go? Only time will tell. We are still about four months away from the primaries, and it could get a whole lot worse. Recently passengers in the GOP clown car have been calling each other clowns and freaks, but none of them seem to see their own ridiculousness.

A few days ago, Donald Trump called Mario Rubio a “clown” at the Values Voters Summit, and got booed for it.

Donald Trump earned a round of boos when he attacked fellow Republican candidate Marco Rubio — calling him a “clown” — at an event Friday for conservative, faith-based voters.

“I’ve been so nice to him. I’ve been so — but he’s in favor of immigration,” Trump said at the Value Voters Summit, before quickly moving on.

The audience had heard Rubio speak just two hours earlier and gave him several rounds of enthusiastic applause.

Marco_Rubio

Yesterday, Rubio told NPR he didn’t want any part of Donald Trump’s “freak show.” CNN reports:

The two candidates have battled through sound bites for the past week, after essentially staying muted on each other for most of the campaign. As Rubio has enjoyed a marked boost in the polls since his performance in the second debate, Trump has gone after Rubio with insults including calling him a “kid” and dinging his voting record this year.

The Florida senator has willingly dished it back at Trump, calling him unserious and “touchy.” That continued in an NPR interview on Monday.

“I’m not interested in the back and forth to be a member or part of his freak show,” Rubio told NPR.

But despite that statement, Rubio quickly ticked off a list of Trump’s recent foibles, including mentioning a speech in South Carolina that had many empty seats and Trump getting booed at Friday’s Value Voters Summit when he called Rubio a “clown.”

“He is a very sensitive person,” Rubio said. “He doesn’t like to be criticized. He responds to criticism very poorly. … His poll numbers have taken a beating, and he was embarrassed on national television at the debate by Carly Fiorina and others.”

2015-09-28-endorse-this-rand-paul-donald-trump-clown-cnn-640-668x501

Also yesterday on CNN, Rand Paul said of Trump, “How could anyone in my party think this clown is fit to be president?.” 

While out on the trail talking to reporters, the mogul picked Paul as one of the next candidates to drop out of the race, after two governors have left the race in recent weeks.

Paul called Trump a “clown” and said the attacks on his campaign were similar to the last presidential debate, when the mogul kicked off his first answer with a volley on Paul and a critique of his inclusion in the top-tier debate.

“It kind of reminds me of the funniest moment, I think, of the second debate, where out of nowhere, complete non sequitur, he starts going after me. And I guess it’s part of his bravado, his shtick,” Paul said. “I’m thinking, how did we get the race for the most important office in the free world to sink to such depths, and how could anyone in my party think that this clown is fit to be president?”

Paul said there’s no truth to Trump’s assertions that his campaign is having trouble fundraising. In fact, he said, his campaign is focused on organizing on the ground in key primary states and pleased with how that’s going.

As The National Memo notes, “A few years ago, that was the same stuff people used to say about Rand Paul.”

Bobby Jindal (Gov. R-L)

Of course Bobby Jindal and some of the other clowns have been attacking Trump as a clown for quite awhile. It’s the only way some of them can get any media attention. From The Guardian on September 10:

In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, followed Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham and Rick Perry in targeting Trump, who has become the clear frontrunner in polls concerning the 17-strong GOP presidential field despite a succession of controversies over his remarks and policy positions.

In his speech, Jindal called Trump a “narcissist and egomaniac”, whom he said was “unserious and unstable”.

“Donald Trump is for Donald Trump,” Jindal said, adding in reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan: “Donald Trump is not for making America great. Donald Trump is for making Donald Trump great.”

Jindal even dipped into some of Trump’s trademark insult comedy, saying: “You may have recently seen that after Trump said the Bible is his favorite book. He couldn’t name a single Bible verse or passage that meant something to him.

“And we all know why, because it’s all just a show, and he hasn’t ever read the Bible. But you know why he hasn’t read the Bible? Because he’s not in it.”

He also avoided a commitment to supporting Trump if he were to secure the Republican nomination, saying “he cannot be our nominee”, and predicted that if Trump did become the Republican standard bearer in 2016, he would “implode” and “hand the election to Hillary Clinton.”

All very true, but much of it applies to Jindal as well. These guys are both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I can hardly wait for the next GOP “debate.” Maybe the clowns will actually come to blows.

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As Melissa McEwan writes, none of these fools running for the Republican nomination have any illusions about the voter base they are trying to appeal to–a bunch of poorly educated racists, nativists, gun nuts, and fetus fetishists who can be easily conned into voting for whatever the Koch brothers and Wall Street want. From Shakesville:

Rubio is merely the latest, and most brazen, of Republicans to talk about Trump as though he and his fetid campaign exist somehow outside the Republican mainstream, instead of being the uncensored id of their disgusting party that he really is.

As if Rubio doesn’t know the truth about his party. Of course he does. Every single time he dogwhistles “tradition” or “values” to his base, he’s evoking that truth. He, like Governor Bobby Jindal, is just mad that Trump has the spine and the indecency to be straightforward about what that truth really is.

If Rubio, Jindal, or any of their other fellow candidates for the US presidency are really operating under the misapprehension that their base isn’t voting for them because of fear, hatred, and bigotry, but because of smaller government and lower taxes, then they are too fucking ignorant to be trusted to tie their own shoes, no less elected to lead the nation.

Ben Carson Clown

Speaking of ignorant racists, George Zimmerman is back in the news. Isn’t he a perfect example of the kinds of people Republicans appeal to?

From The New York Daily News: George Zimmerman goes on depraved Twitter rant after retweeting picture of Trayvon Martin’s corpse.

George Zimmerman’s Twitter trolling has reached a new low.

Days after retweeting an image of Trayvon Martin’s corpse, Zimmerman went on a depraved Twitter tirade Monday afternoon, spewing racist rants and boasting about “mocking all you trolls.”

The man who shot and killed Martin three years ago also gave out an apparent stranger’s phone number, referring “all media inquiries” to the unsuspecting man.

“Gee..I sure hate offending people that have plotted and tried to kill me and my family…” Zimmerman wrote with one tweet, with a photo matching President Obama with Virginia murderer Vester Flanagan.

Zimmerman flew off the handle days after he seemed to boast about killing the 17-year-old Martin.

Over the weekend, an admirer tweeted him a photo of Martin’s body, which was used as evidence for Zimmerman’s trial. The user called Zimmerman a “one man army.”

Ugh. Why isn’t this disgusting man in prison?

Bushes_2

I’m going to give you the rest of the news as headlines as links only, because I have to do some things for my mother this morning. Here we go:

CNN: Hillary Clinton knocks Jeb Bush over ‘free stuff’ remark.

Reuters via The National Memo: Biden Eligible For Democratic Primary Debate: If He Decides To Run.

Ezra Klein at Vox: A theory of how American politics is changing.

Politico: Bush camp moves to ease donor angst. Assessing the state of anxiety on a scale of one to 10, one donor puts the panic level at a ‘six or seven.’

Politico: Schumer in talks with Ryan on major tax, infrastructure deal (Count me as not looking forward to Schumer leading the Senate Democrats.

Salon: Donald Trump is the glib hero the right has been waiting for: What his “60 Minutes” interview revealed about his terrifying appeal.

Have I told you lately how much I hate Bill Maher?

Salon: Bill Maher lights into 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed again: “He didn’t invent anything!” “Liberals who have glommed on to him as some kind of mascots are ninnies,” Maher said.

Vanity Fair: A Terrifying Look at Our Eventual Trump Presidency.

David Weigel at The WaPo: Trump’s tax plan calms conservatives worried about a populist moment.

The Atlantic: When America Was ‘Great,’ Taxes Were High, Unions Were Strong, and Government Was Big.

Politico: Boehner unloads on GOP’s ‘false prophets.’

Raw Story: Gay couple tricks anti-LGBT Indiana pizzeria into catering their wedding celebration.

What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great Tuesday!

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Grown-Ups on the Left and Clowns on the Right

Beryl Cook: Tea in the Garden

Beryl Cook: Tea in the Garden

Good Afternoon!!

There’s big news today from the UK. The Brits have elected Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader–which, according to the Guardian, means that “the party now has one of the most leftwing, anti-establishment leaders in its history.”

Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the British Labour party, in a stunning first-round victory that dwarfed even the mandate for Tony Blair in 1994.

Corbyn won with nearly 59.5% of first-preference votes, beating rivals Andy Burnham, who trailed on 19%, and Yvette Cooper who received 17%. The “Blairite” candidate Liz Kendall came last on 4.5%.

Minutes after his victory, Corbyn said the message is that people are “fed up with the injustice and the inequality” of Britain.

“The media and many of us, simply didn’t understand the views of young people in our country. They were turned off by the way politics was being conducted. We have to and must change that. The fightback gathers speed and gathers pace,” he said.

The north London MP is one of the most unexpected winners of the party leadership in its history, after persuading Labour members and supporters that the party needed to draw a line under the New Labour era of Blair and Gordon Brown.

Wow! Could this be the beginning of the end for austerity politics in Europe? Reuters and other U.S. media outlets are calling Corbyn a “Marx admirer.”

Beryl Cook: End of Term

Beryl Cook: End of Term

Reuters: Marx admirer Corbyn elected UK opposition Labour leader.

Karl Marx admirer Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Britain’s opposition Labour party on Saturday, a victory that may make a British EU exit more likely and which one former Labour prime minister has said could leave their party unelectable.

Greeted by cheers from supporters in the room and hailed by radicals across Europe, Corbyn’s triumph opened up the prospect of deep splits within Labour with some fearing he will repel voters with radical policies that include unilateral nuclear disarmament, nationalization and wealth taxes.

“Things can and they will change,” Corbyn, who when he entered the contest was a rank outsider, said in his acceptance speech after taking 59.5 percent of votes cast, winning by a far bigger margin than anyone had envisaged.

“I say thank you in advance to us all working together to achieve great victories, not just electorally for Labour, but emotionally for the whole of our society to show we don’t have to be unequal, it doesn’t have to be unfair, poverty isn’t inevitable,” the grey-haired, bearded 66-year-old said.

His victory reflects growing support for left-wing movements across Europe, with Syriza winning an election in Greece in January and Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos performing well in opinion polls.

Beryl Cook: The Dancing Class

Beryl Cook: The Dancing Class

Here’s a profile of Corbyn in Time Magazine: Meet the Man Shaking Up Britain’s Political Establishment (September 4, 2015).

Before announcing his candidacy for the Labour Party leadership, Jeremy Corbyn was a little-known member of parliament (MP) who had represented the same London constituency, Islington North, for 32 years. His career had always been more focused on left-wing activism than government — he is a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Stop the War Coalition — but this has not prevented him becoming the odds on favorite to become the next leader of the 115-year-old party, which has been without one since Ed Milliband resigned following a disastrous election campaign which saw the party all but eradicated in Scotland and far behind the Conservatives elsewhere.

The Labour Party governed Britain under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1997 to 2010 after they rebranded the party as ‘New Labour’, adopted more centrist policies and persuaded many formerly Conservative voters to back them. Corbyn was often opposed to his own government in power and he hopes to shift Labour from being a centre-left party to one that is decisively left wing.

Corbyn makes some in the Labour Pary nervous, according to author Tara John.

The Labour Party leader is elected by the membership from a shortlist selected by MPs. Many in Labour fear that if the membership elect Corbyn on Sept. 12, it will mean the end of the party as a viable candidate for government, instead devolving into a left-wing pressure group. “The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below,” warned Tony Blair in the Guardian. “If Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader it won’t be a defeat like 1983 or 2015 at the next election. It will mean rout, possibly annihilation.”

Corbyn’s platform seems like a return to the postwar Britain of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, when the foundation of the welfare state was laid. Corbyn has called for the renationalization of rail and energy companies and funding increased government spending with higher taxes on the wealthy. He would also withdraw the U.K. from NATO and abandon its independent nuclear deterrent, which would be catastrophic for its relations with the U.S. and other nations and reduce the U.K’s role in international affairs.

Speaking at the Union Chapel in London to hundreds of supporters last month, Corbyn blamed the post-2008 policies of economic austerity on bankers and economists who were forcing the poorest and most vulnerable in the world to pay for the mistakes of the banking system. “We are saying something very very different in this campaign. And we are saying the problem was that Labour lost the election not because we were too left-wing or spent too much, because we were not offering a clear economic alternative. We want a new society where we all care for each other and everyone cares for everyone else; it’s called socialism,” he said to loud applause.

Read more at the link.

5beryl

Of course many in the U.S. media are comparing Corbyn to Bernie Sanders. For example, in the Wall Street Journal, Ian Birrell called him “Britain’s Bernie Sanders,” (September 4). Birrell strongly disapproves of both candidates of course.

…in perhaps the strangest twist in modern British politics, this left-winger, now 66, finds himself at the helm of a youth movement that may sweep him to the head of the Labour Party when the summer-long leadership election results are revealed on Sept. 12. To call this a surprise would be massive understatement. Labour lost a general election in May because it was seen as too militant. Mr. Corbyn stood for the party’s leadership only reluctantly as the hard left’s token candidate. At first he struggled to find enough supporters to make the ballot, and was written off by bookmakers as a 100-1 shot.

But like Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential race, Mr. Corbyn has electrified disenchanted young voters, leading to a surge in support for his antiquated brand of socialism. New members have flocked to join the party, while his rallies overflow with fans enthralled by his “authenticity.”

It’s going to be interesting to see what comes of this surprising turn of events in Britain.

Back in the USA, the Clown Car will go on down the road to destruction with one less passenger.

Beryl Cook: Getting Ready

Beryl Cook: Getting Ready

Sam Reissman at The National Memo: Rick Perry Drops Out Of Presidential Race.

On Friday afternoon, Rick Perry became the first candidate in the congested Republican field to drop out of the presidential race.

In a concession speech delivered to the Eagle Forum in St. Louis, Missouri, the former Texas governor took aim at Donald Trump — without directly mentioning the business tycoon’s name. He challenged voters to resist the lures of celebrity, nativism, racism, false conservatism, and candidates who did not have true Christian faith.

He asserted that the U.S.-Mexico border can be secured “without inflammatory rhetoric, without base appeals that divide us based by race, culture, and creed.”

“Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant,” he said. “It betrays the example of Christ.”

He nodded to Martin Luther King, Jr., saying in his prepared remarks: “We need to get back to the central constitutional principle that, in America, it is the content of your character that matters, not the color of your skin – that it doesn’t matter where you come from, but where you are going.”

“We have a tremendous field of candidates,” he said, faltering. “Probably the greatest group of men and women. I step aside knowing our party’s in good hands.”

Buh-bye Rick, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Who will be the next to fall by the wayside?

Now for the clowniest of the clown car riders:

Beryl Cook: Clubbing in the Rain

Beryl Cook: Clubbing in the Rain

Donald Trump claimed yesterday that he can kick out all the undocumented immigrants in 18 months to 2 years. From the Wall Street Journal:

Donald Trump estimated that it will take 18 months to two years to get the roughly 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to leave the country, and that he would then build a wall running along the border with Mexico.

The businessman’s statement made on a call with Alabama Republicans Thursday night added a bit of specificity to the Republican presidential frontrunner’s hardline stance on immigration….

Mr. Trump was asked for details about how long it would take to round up illegal immigrants living in the U.S., with the questioner asking if five or ten years was an appropriate timeframe. Mr. Trump said his two year benchmark could be met with “really good management.”

“We have to get them out. If we have wonderful cases, they can come back in but they have to come back in legally,” Mr. Trump said in an audio clip posted on YouTube Thursday night by a person on the call.

Mr. Trump said he would remove illegal immigrants from the country “so fast that your head will spin,” and long before he could embark on his plan to build a wall spanning the 1,900 mile border between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump didn’t say how he would accomplish this or how much it would cost taxpayers, but he did say that Ben Carson would not be able to do it: “It wouldn’t work for him because he has absolutely no management capability.”

So that’s what’s happening in the lowest-common-denominator campaign . . . Sigh…

The Justice Department stuck a hatpin in the GOP MailGhazi ballon yesterday.

Beryl Cook: Strip Poker

Beryl Cook: Strip Poker

Ruby Cramer and Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed News: Justice Department Lawyers: Clinton Had Authority To Delete Personal Emails.

In a little noticed brief, filed on Wednesday to a federal court, Department of Justice lawyers outlined a comprehensive defense of the contentious decision by Hillary Clinton to wipe the private email server she used as secretary of state: The attorneys assert that, regardless of whether she used a personal or government account, Clinton was within her legal right to handpick the emails that qualified as federal records — and to delete the ones she deemed personal.

“There is no question that former Secretary Clinton had authority to delete personal emails without agency supervision — she appropriately could have done so even if she were working on a government server,” write the Justice Department attorneys, representing the State Department in the brief.

The lawyers add that under policies issued by the State Department and by NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration, government employees “are permitted and expected to exercise judgment to determine what constitutes a federal record.”

Be sure to read the whole thing!

And of course the NYT continues its tired attacks: Hillary Clinton’s Long Road to ‘Sorry’ Over Email use. Because they know more than the Justice Department and they only focus on gossip these days.

Other News, Links Only

Beryl Cook: Two on a Stool

Beryl Cook: Two on a Stool

Reuters: Russia to U.S.: talk to us on Syria or risk ‘unintended incidents.’

NYT: US Drops Charges That Professor Shared Technology With China.

MSNBC: Poll: Democrats claim resounding Latino support over GOP.

Jonathan Chait: Bobby Jindal Upset That Trump Is Stealing His Act. (funny!)

The National Memo: This Week In Crazy: Come Hell And High Water.

Reuters: At least 107 killed by falling crane at Grand Mosque in Mecca.

BBC News: India restaurant blast in Madhya Pradesh kills 89.

Buzzfeed: This Is What Refugees Are Given in Germany. (Nice, upbeat story)

NPR: Camerawoman Who Tripped Migrant In Hungary Apologizes. (What a horrible woman!)

NY Daily News: James Blake doesn’t want NYPD cop who tackled him to ‘ever have a badge and gun again.’ 

What else is happening?


Thursday Reads: A Mixed Bag of News

Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer

Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer

Good Morning!!

The images in this post are from the blog, Reading and Art. I don’t have any central theme this morning, just a mixed bag of news stories. beginning with damaging explosions in Tianjin, China.

CNN reports, Tianjin blasts: Dozens dead; areas of Chinese port city devastated.

You can see the devastation everywhere: in the hollowed out shells of barely-standing buildings, in the anguished faces of relatives waiting for news of loved ones, in the parade of scorched cars.

But what was it that set off the terrifying blasts that ripped through warehouses housing hazardous chemical materials, sending fireballs shooting across the sky and shaking tall buildings more than 2 miles away?

Hours later, amid the destruction in this northern Chinese port city of more than 13 million, the exact cause remained unclear.

A thick chemical odor hung in the air. Fires still burned in the waterfront industrial district where the explosions went off. And the grim toll kept mounting.

At least 44 people are confirmed dead, 12 firefighters among them, officials said Thursday. More than 500 are hospitalized, 52 with severe injuries. Dozens of firefighters are missing.

Local authorities suspended firefighting efforts Thursday because of a lack of information about the “dangerous goods” stored at the warehouse at the heart of the blasts, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

CNN has dramatic photos at the link. A few more stories on the disaster:

Vice News: Video Emerges of Horrific Tianjin Explosion as Death Toll Rises.

USA Today, 12 firefighters among 50 dead in Chinese port city explosions.

This is a developing story, and it sounds like the death toll is likely to rise.

Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer

Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer

You’ve probably heard by now that Jimmy Carter has cancer that has spread from his liver to other organs.

Washington Post, Former president Jimmy Carter, 90, announces that he has cancer.

Former president Jimmy Carter announced Wednesday that he has cancer and will be undergoing treatment at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta.

Carter, 90, said the disease was discovered during recent liver surgery to remove “a small mass” and that the cancer “is now in other parts of my body.”

“I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare,” Carter said in a statement on the Carter Center Web site. “A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

In a statement, President Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama wished Carter “a full and fast recovery.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with [wife] Rosalynn and the entire Carter family as they face this challenge with the same grace and determination that they have shown so many times before,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Jimmy, you’re as resilient as they come, and along with the rest of America, we are rooting for you.”

The president also spoke with Carter on Wednesday evening to wish him “full and speedy recovery” and extended best wishes on behalf of himself and first lady Michelle Obama, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

According to NBC News, Carter said “a more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer

Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer

Sweden has dropped some of its charges against Julian Assange.

Wall Street Journal, Sweden Runs Out of Time on Parts of Assange Probe.

STOCKHOLM—Swedish prosecutors on Thursday ran out of time to pursue two of four investigations into allegations of sexual assault against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning.

Prosecutors said that probes into suspected unlawful coercion and sexual molestation would be dropped as the five-year limit that Swedish law allows for such charges to be brought has come to an end.

The five-year deadline for a second count of sexual molestation will be reached Aug. 18, prosecutors said. If the statute of limitation on that allegation also comes into effect, Mr. Assange would be left facing a single, more serious accusation of rape, over which prosecutors have until 2020 to question him….

Mr. Assange was accused of the crimes by two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010. Prosecutors requested Mr. Assange return to Sweden from the U.K to face questioning.

The WikiLeaks founder, who denies the crimes, refused to return to Sweden, saying he feared he would extradited from Sweden to the U.S. where he could face trial over the publication by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. documents.

Assange says he is disappointed, according to BBC News.

The Wikileaks founder said he was “extremely disappointed” and said the Swedish prosecutor had avoided hearing his side of the story….

He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, fearing he would then be sent to the US for questioning about the activities of Wikileaks.

Under Swedish law, charges cannot be laid without interviewing the suspect.

Mr Assange said he was innocent and claimed prosecutors had refused to visit him at the embassy.

They also refused to promise not to send him to the US if he were to go to Sweden, he said.

Mr Assange said: “I am strong but the cost to my family is unacceptable.”

The new novel, by Winslow Homer

The new novel, by Winslow Homer

In clown car news, Mike Huckabee said some more insane things about Planned Parenthood and abortion.

Talking Points Memo, Huckabee: DOJ Should ‘Criminally Prosecute Planned Parenthood.’

“I would also invoke the 15th and Fourteenth Amendments,” he said on Wednesday. “This is the power that we have to stop this incredible, barbaric scourge of abortion. Not just stop funding Planned Parenthood, but we need to invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendment. The Fifth Amendment guarantees due process for every person. The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law for every person.”

Huckabee said that he believes that unborn children are people, guaranteeing them Fifth and 14th Amendment rights.

“I would take that position. I would act on behalf of those unborn children, and I would let those who want to slaughter babies, those who want to sell their body parts, let them sue me,” he said.

In response, Melissa McEwan writes:

Again, this is less like chipping away at Roe and more like taking a bulldozer to it.

I have said many times (for instance) that fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them, that the potential life of every fetus is more important than the actual life of a pregnant person. Never has this been more clear.

If Mike Huckabee, or any of his fellow Republican candidates, had their way, fetuses would have not equivalent rights, but more rights than any pregnant person.

Protip, Huckabee: “Slaughtering babies” is already against the law.

The country school, by Winslow Homer

The country school, by Winslow Homer

CNN reports on a study showing that kids in elementary school are getting crushing amounts of homework.

Kids have three times too much homework, study finds; what’s the cost?

The study, published Wednesday in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended by education leaders, in some cases nearly three times as much homework as is recommended.

The standard, endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association, is the so-called “10-minute rule” — 10 minutes per grade level per night. That translates into 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, 20 minutes in the second grade, all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year of high school. The NEA and the National PTA do not endorse homework for kindergarten….

Parents reported first-graders were spending 28 minutes on homework each night versus the recommended 10 minutes. For second-graders, the homework time was nearly 29 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes recommended.

And kindergartners, their parents said, spent 25 minutes a night on after-school assignments, according to the study carried out by researchers from Brown University, Brandeis University, Rhode Island College, Dean College, the Children’s National Medial Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

Homer, Winslow 6

That is ridiculous and harmful. Children at younger ages learn far more from play and interacting with other kids than from regimented school assignments.

“It is absolutely shocking to me to find out that particularly kindergarten students (who) are not supposed to have any homework at all … are getting as much homework as a third-grader is supposed to get,” said Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

“Anybody who’s tried to keep a 5-year-old at a table doing homework for 25 minutes after school knows what that’s like. I mean children don’t want to be doing, they want to be out playing, they want to be interacting and that’s what they should be doing. That’s what’s really important.”

The Pope is coming to the U.S., and one of his stops will be at a jail in Philadelphia.

Reuters: At drab Philadelphia jail, anxious times precede papal visit.

One of 17 stops on the pope’s first U.S. tour, the visit to the inner-city jail is a reminder of the emphasis the Argentine pontiff has placed on social justice issues since being named head of the Roman Catholic Church in March 2013.

The pope’s stop at the Philadelphia facility will be the latest in a series of prison visits by Francis, an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and lengthy prison terms. He has counseled teenagers in juvenile detention in Brazil. In Bolivia, he kissed inmates in the country’s most violent prison.

His visit also comes at a time when a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are questioning tough criminal sentencing policies that have left the United States with the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. Barack Obama, who last month became the first sitting U.S. president to tour a federal penitentiary, has called for legislation overhauling sentencing rules.

Advocates for prisoner rights say they are pleased the pope has decided to put the issue on his agenda during the U.S. tour, which will include attending a conference on family life in Philadelphia, plus stops in Washington and New York.

Morning glories, by Winslow Homer

Morning glories, by Winslow Homer

I was going to write about Hillary and the media’s obsession with her emails, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, here’s an inspirational piece from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at #HillaryMen.

Hillary’s Path to History Will Get Much Rougher and She’s Ready.

There is a manic urge among the media, the GOP and the elite commentariat to Stop Hillary – to block a woman from reaching the pinnacle of American political leadership.

Each poll, news story or issue that appears to harm her is seized upon with a strange combination of desperation and glee. It’s an unsavory process but Hillary knew what she was in for when she decided to seek the presidency a second time.

As #HillaryMen, we’re undaunted by the negative stories, unwavering in our support for Hillary and unyielding in our commitment to help smash the ultimate gender barrier.

Ending a 44-0 shutout that has lasted nearly a quarter millennium was never going to be easy. There is no cakewalk to the White House. And certainly not for a woman.

We’ve worked in politics and media for nearly two decades. Peter is a veteran of two presidential campaigns, including Hillary’s 2008 run. We’ve seen every permutation of every attack, every rise and fall in the polls, every gaffe and every zinger, every debate moment and debate aftermath, every nervous election night and every election surprise.

We know what lies ahead for Hillary’s campaign and we realize there will be times when the obstacles seem insurmountable. They are not.

For all practical purposes, the 2016 race is just getting underway. As the first summer of the campaign winds down, the rhetoric heats up and political prognostications start climbing in pitch. The fall frenzy begins in a matter of weeks.

I plan to head over to #HillaryMen every time I get angry and/or anxious about something written or said about her in the media. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a link to “The Facts about Hillary Clinton’s Emails” at her campaign website.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and enjoy your Thursday.


Thursday Reads: The Confederate Flag, The GOP Clown Car, and Other News

 

Young Lady Reading, by Mary Cassatt

Young Lady Reading, by Mary Cassatt

Good Morning!!

The Confederate Flag Debate in South Carolina

The South Carolina House has voted to remove the Confederate flag from the state capital grounds, according to The Charlotte Observer. The bill will now go to Governor Nikki Haley. Once she has signed it, I hope the flag will be taken down immediately.

The Confederate flag will leave the South Carolina State House grounds after five decades this week after the House overwhelmingly approved a bill to remove the Civil War icon early Thursday morning.

The House voted 94-20 to banish the flag from the Capitol after more than 12 hours of debate over the historic measure.

The bill now heads to Gov. Nikki Haley for her signature. Haley started the call for removing the flag in the days after nine African-Americans were shot and killed in a historic Charleston church last month.

Nurse reading to a little girl, Mary Cassatt

Nurse reading to a little girl, Mary Cassatt

“It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state,” Haley said in a Facebook post.

If Haley signs the bill Thursday, the flag could be taken down Friday.

A two-thirds majority vote in the House was needed for final passage, a requirement of the the 2000 law that took the flag off the State House dome and put it next to the Confederate Soldier Monument on the north side of the Capitol.

The House gave final approval to the final two readings of the bill within minutes of each other at 1 a.m. Thursday. The Senate approved removing the flag on Tuesday.

Republicans fought tooth and nail, but

The House did not change the Senate bill after spending much of Wednesday considering amendments from Republicans who insisted on finding another way to honor the Confederate dead if the controversial banner was removed from the State House grounds.

More than 25 amendments were voted down or rejected before they came for a vote.

Auguste reading to her daughter, Mary Cassatt

Auguste reading to her daughter, Mary Cassatt

In a sudden shift, Jim Webb, who is supposedly running for president as a Democrat, “says Confederate flag was ‘long due’ to come down in South Carolina.” From the Washington Post:

Democratic presidential contender Jim Webb, a former senator from Virginia, sought Thursday to clarify his views on the Confederate battle flag, saying it has “long been due to come down” from the capitol grounds in South Carolina.

Webb’s position was more opaque in a Facebook posting last month in which he called for respecting “the complicated history of the Civil War” at a time when emotions were running high following the shootings at an historic African American church in Charleston, S.C.

During an appearance Thursday on “CBS This Morning” — billed as Webb’s first interview since declaring as a long-shot presidential candidate last week — he spoke approvingly of the South Carolina legislature’s overnight vote to take the flag down.

“It assumed a lot of unfortunate racist and divisionist overtones during the civil rights era,” Webb said.

I don’t see how the flag could have been more racist or divisive in the 1960s that it was 100 years earlier when it represented the fight to preserve slavery and secession.

Speaking again of the “very complex history of the Civil War itself,” Webb cited a statistic that only 5 percent of whites in the South owned slaves and that four slave states remained in the union during the Civil War.

“If you were a young person being called to duty during that period, this was a very complicated decision to make, and we should remember that,” Webb said.

Whatever. These days, only 1% of the population wants to turn everyone else into serfs, and they have quite a bit of power to control the public dialogue.

The GOP Clown Car

Francoise in a round backed chair, reading, Mary Cassatt

Francoise in a round backed chair, reading, Mary Cassatt

The powers that be in the Republican Party are struggling to get fake presidential candidate Donald Trump under control, and they are doing a very poor job of it.

NBC News reports: GOP Chief Reince Priebus Calls Donald Trump to Tell Him to ‘Tone It Down.’

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called presidential candidate Donald Trump and asked him to pull back his rhetoric on immigration, a source familiar with the conversation told NBC News on Wednesday.

The source, who asked not to be identified, said Priebus made the request to “tone it down” during an almost hour-long conversation covering a wide range of issues when he returned an earlier call from Trump.

Trump disputed that account on Twitter, saying that Priebus said during the call that he was “doing well.”

Hahahahahahahahaha!!! They’re going to need someone a lot more powerful than Priebus to get Trump to STFU.

According to The Washington Post: GOP leaders fear damage to party’s image as Donald Trump doubles down.

The head of the Republican National Committee, responding to demands from increasingly worried party leaders, spent nearly an hour Wednesday on the phone with Donald Trump, urging the presidential candidate to tone down his inflammatory comments about immigration that have infuriated a key election constituency.

The call from Chairman Reince Priebus, described by donors and consultants briefed on the conversation and confirmed by the RNC, underscores the extent to which Trump has gone from an embarrassment to a cause for serious alarm among top Republicans in Washington and nationwide.

But there is little they can do about the mogul and reality-television star, who draws sustenance from controversy and attention. And some fear that, with assistance from Democrats, Trump could become the face of the GOP.

Rather than backing down from his comments about illegal immigrants — whom he characterized as rapists and killers, among other things — Trump has amplified his remarks at every opportunity, including in a round of interviews Wednesday.

He insisted to NBC News that he has “nothing to apologize for” in his repeated remarks about Mexicans. But he also predicted that, if he secures the GOP nomination, “I’ll win the Latino vote.”

OMG! ROFLMAF! The Republican Party’s “image” is already shot to hell. I’m not sure even keeping Trump in the Clown Car can make it much worse.

Mrs. Duffee Reading on Striped Sofa, Mary Cassatt

Mrs. Duffee Reading on Striped Sofa, Mary Cassatt

Dana Millbank: Donald Trump is the monster the GOP created.

It has been amusing to watch the brands — the PGA, NBC, Macy’s, NASCAR, Univision, Serta — flee Donald Trump after his xenophobic remarks. Who even knew The Donald had a line of mattresses featuring Cool Action Dual Effects Gel Memory Foam?

But there is one entity that can’t dump Trump, no matter how hard it tries: the GOP. The Republican Party can’t dump Trump because Trump is the Republican Party.

One big Republican donor this week floated to the Associated Press the idea of having candidates boycott debates if the tycoon is onstage. Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham and other candidates have lined up to say, as Rick Perry put it, that “Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party.”

But actually, he does represent the party’s views. He’s just more up front about them than the rest of the mealy mouthed GOP candidates.

But Trump has merely held up a mirror to the GOP. The man, long experience has shown, believes in nothing other than himself. He has, conveniently, selected the precise basket of issues that Republicans want to hear about — or at least a significant proportion of Republican primary voters. He may be saying things more colorfully than others when he talks about Mexico sending rapists across the border, but his views show that, far from being an outlier, he is hitting all the erogenous zones of the GOP electorate.

Anti-immigrant? Against Common Core education standards? For repealing Obamacare? Against same-sex marriage? Antiabortion? Anti-tax? Anti-China? Virulent in questioning President Obama’s legitimacy? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check.

Mary Cassatt, The Reader

Mary Cassatt, The Reader

More good stuff at the link. BTW, Trump is topping all other GOP candidates in the South Carolina PPP poll. What does that tell you?

PPP’s newest North Carolina poll finds that Donald Trump’s momentum just keeps on building. He’s the top choice of Republican primary voters in the state, getting 16% to 12% for Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, 11% for Mike Huckabee, 9% for Ben Carson and Marco Rubio, 7% for Rand Paul, 6% for Ted Cruz, 5% for Chris Christie, 4% for Carly Fiorina, 2% for Rick Perry, 1% each for Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum, and less than 1% each for John Kasich and George Pataki.

Trump’s favorability rating in North Carolina is 55/32, much higher than we were finding in national polls prior to his entry into the race. Trump’s really caught fire with voters on the far right- 66% of ‘very conservative’ voters see him favorably to only 24% with a negative view of him. Trump is polling particularly well with younger voters (29%) and men (20%).

Another racist homophobe has the highest favorability rating in SC–Mike Huckabee at 65/19.

Another popular Clown Car passenger, Jeb Bush, has put his foot in his mouth once again. In an interview with New Hampshire’s ultra-conservative Manchester Union Leader, Bush recommended that “people should work longer hours.”

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Wednesday that in order to grow the economy “people should work longer hours” — a comment that the Bush campaign argues was a reference to underemployed part-time workers but which Democrats are already using to attack him….

He was answering a question about his plans for tax reform and responded:

“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours” and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

Already the Democratic National Committee has pounced, releasing a statement that calls his remarks “easily one of the most out-of-touch comments we’ve heard so far this cycle,” adding that Bush would not fight for the middle class as president.

Read about Bush’s “clarification” at the Washington Post.

Mrs. Cassatt reading to her grandchildren, Mary Cassatt

Mrs. Cassatt reading to her grandchildren, Mary Cassatt

More News (links only)

Newsweek: Real Vampires Exist, and They Need Counseling Too.

Reuters, via Raw Story: Same-sex couples to get federal marriage benefits: attorney general.

Raw Story: All GOP presidential hopefuls decline speaking invite to America’s largest annual gathering of Latino.

Talking Points Memo: Matthews Blasts Cruz: SCOTUS ‘Seized’ 2000 Election, ‘You Did Not Complain’ (VIDEO).

Gawker: Garbage Joke News Website Fools Presidential Hopeful Martin O’Malley

Buzzfeed: White Supremacy, LMFAO, LOL. Inside the lightning-fast, wildly absurd, occasionally terrifying world of app-based teenage white supremacy.

Washington Post: Thomas Piketty accuses Germany of forgetting history as it lectures Greece.

Tech Times: Exxon Documents Hint That Oil Companies Have Known About Climate Change Since 1981.


Thursday Reads: GOP Clown Car Update and Other News

restraints

Good Morning!!

I can’t believe I have a cold in June–sore throat, stuffy nose, and a cough. Ugh. Plus the town is working the water pipes on my street, and they are right in front of my house for the second day. This morning they have shut off my running water. I don’t know how long it will be, because I wasn’t even warned they were going to be digging a giant trench that would keep me from getting my car out of the driveway for two days straight. What if I had to get to a job?

There is a huge digger machine in front of the house, men all over my yard and driveway. Occasionally there are loud thumps that shake the house. Late yesterday they filled in the trench temporarily, but I still wouldn’t have dared drive my car out because there was a depression at the end of the driveway that looked like it would be difficult to get past.

I just hope they finish up today. I have known for a long time that they were going to do this, but I expected to be told when they would be shutting off my water and blocking my driveway. Oh well . . . fortunately I don’t need to get out.

I had something really interesting that I wanted to write about today, but I’m going to postpone that until Saturday when I hope I’ll be feeling more like myself. This post will be basically a link dump.

Here’s the latest on the GOP clown car.

ted-cruz-smarmy

We all knew that Ted Cruz was a giant a-hole, but this is really beyond the pale. From David Nir at DailyKos,

Joe Biden has suffered far, far more tragedy than anyone should ever have to endure in a lifetime. In 1972, just weeks after he first won election to the Senate, Biden’s wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident. Last week, his 46-year-old son Beau, who survived that same accident, died of brain cancer.

As Biden’s son Beau’s body awaited burial, Cruz decided to tell a “cruel joke” about his grieving father.

“You know, Vice President Joe Biden,” he said as a few chuckles emerged from the crowd, setting up the joke for him.

“You know the nice thing. You don’t need a punchline. I promise you it works. At the next party you’re at, just walk up to someone and say, ‘Vice President Joe Biden,’ and just close your mouth. They will crack up laughing.”

Afterward reporter Chad Livengood asked Cruz about the death of Biden’s son. Cruz’s response was telling.

Q: Could you talk about the vice president losing his son this week?

A: Heartbreaking and tragic, and our prayers are very much with Vice President Biden, with Jill. It’s a tragedy no one should have to endure.

Q: Why’d you tell a joke about the vice president tonight?

A: Uh …. [walks away]

 Cruz later “apologized,” according to The Detroit News:

“It was a mistake to use an old joke about Joe Biden during his time of grief, and I sincerely apologize,” Cruz said in a statement. “The loss of his son is heartbreaking and tragic, and our prayers are very much with the Vice President and his family.”

Biden’s eldest son, Beau, died Saturday of brain cancer. Beau Biden was a former two-term attorney general of Delaware and is to be buried Saturday in the Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Cruz used the joke to talk about Biden’s past comments about firing off a double-barrel shotgun to ward off intrudersone of several stump-speech jabs at Democrats.

“That is very, very good advice — if it so happens that you’re being attacked by a flock of geese,” Cruz said….

Cruz was the keynote speaker for the Livingston County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner at Crystal Gardens banquet center in Howell.

Jeb-Bush

I thought Jeb Bush was already running for president, but apparently he’s still playing games in an attempt to get media attention. From the AP, via Huffington Post: Jeb Bush Teases Presidential Announcement On June 15.

The former Florida governor, widely expected to run for the GOP nomination, tweeted “coming soon” with a link to the website jebannouncement.com. On that page, the date 06.15.15 was listed, followed by the tease, “BE THE FIRST TO KNOW. RSVP NOW!” Visitors to the site could enter their name and email address. Bush also tweeted it in Spanish, “Próximamente 6.15.15.”

Boooooorrrrrrringggggg . . .

And then there’s the scandal-ridden former governor of Texas.

USA Today: Rick Perry launches 2016 presidential campaign.

ADDISON, Texas — Former Texas governor Rick Perry will announce Thursday that he’ll make a second bid for the White House.

The campaign’s new website went up early in the day, saying that Perry offers “tested leadership” and “proven results,” particularly in job creation.

Perry, who served as Texas governor for 14 years, plans to stress his experience, saying in a campaign video: “It’s going to be a show-me, don’t-tell-me, election.”

Yawn . . . .

lindsey-graham-sassy

Politico reports that Lady Lindsey “compare[d] Hillary Clinton to Kim Jong Un.”

Lindsey Graham says Hillary Clinton is avoiding media questions on the campaign trail because she lacks confidence in her own foreign policy record.

“Well, it’s easier to talk to the North Korean guy than it is her,” the Republican senator from South Carolina said in a “Fox & Friends” interview Thursday, an apparent reference to dictator Kim Jong-un.

“I think it’s the lack of confidence in her ability to distinguish herself from Barack Obama,” he added.

Clinton will be speaking on voting rights this afternoon at Texas Southern University, whose press guidance for the speech circulated Wednesday stipulated that there will be “NO opportunities to interview Hillary Clinton; her speech will be her interview.”

Hahahahaha! Now why wouldn’t Hillary want to talk to the media? Here are a few clues:

Josh Rogin at Bloomberg View: Why Hillary Can’t Run on Her State Department Record.

Washington Post: Clinton rivals pounce as her ratings fall.

Business Insider: There’s only one thing Wall Street hates about Hillary Clinton, and it has nothing to do with all the scandals. This one is incredible. according to author Linette Lopez, Wall Street insiders think the Clintons are “so shady, but Wall Street is a shady business.” And If supporting Clintons makes someone more money or gives them more power, they will instantly overlook their incessant corruption,”

At least the media wants to talk to her, unlike some of her competitors.

So far no one is reporting that Martin O’Malley is largely responsible for the policing problems in Baltimore. Maybe it’s because O’Malley has no chance in hell to beat Hillary.

LincolnChafee-500x333

And then there’s former Republican Lincoln Chafee, who would probably fit in pretty well in the clown car.

Business Insider: A Democrat just launched his presidential campaign in a ‘half empty’ school auditorium.

Politico: Lincoln Chafee can’t win his local paper.

Moving on to other news . . . .

I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but Boston Police shot a man on Tuesday. He was a suspected terrorist.

From The Boston Herald: Roslindale man killed in showdown with anti-terror task force.

An armed 26-year-old man under constant surveillance by an anti-terrorism task force was shot and killed by an FBI agent and a Boston police officer in Roslindale this morning after he came at them with a military-style knife, authorities say.

The suspect was identified by police as Usaama Rahim of Roslindale.

“He was on foot, under surveillance,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said. “The officers have been surveilling him and again they wanted to speak to him … and he turned and our officers gave several commands for him to drop the weapon and unfortunately he came at the officers and they did what they were trained to do and that’s never an easy decision for any officer to make.”

One FBI agent and one BPD officer fired, FBI Special Agent in Charge Vincent B. Lisi said.

Evans said “the level of alarm” had them want to question Rahim today.

Lisi added task-force members — who had Rahim under 24-hour watch — wanted to “interview him and talk to him about his intentions and some other matters.” At the time, Lisi added, Rahim was considered armed and dangerous.

Evans said a video shows Rahim “coming at the officers” as police retreated telling him to “drop the knife!” They then shot him twice, once in the torso and abdomen.

(Boston, MA, 06/02/15) A picture of the military style knife that was used to threaten officers during a police involved shooting this morning at 4600 Washington St. in Roslindale, during a press conference at Boston Police Headquarters on Tuesday,  June  02, 2015.   Staff Photo by Matt Stone

(Boston, MA, 06/02/15) A picture of the military style knife that was used to threaten officers during a police involved shooting this morning at 4600 Washington St. in Roslindale, during a press conference at Boston Police Headquarters on Tuesday, June 02, 2015. Staff Photo by Matt Stone

The Christian Science Monitor: After terror shooting, Boston police choose transparency over tradition.

As US police officers acknowledge feeling under siege by public unrest over deaths at the hands of police, the city of Boston, for the second time in just over a month, tried a new strategy – sharing grainy video of a police shooting with civic and religious leaders.

The new video involved a terrorism suspect, Usaama Rahim, who authorities say threatened retreating officers with a military-style knife on Tuesday before being fatally shot. The footage, community leaders said a day later, contradicted the contention by Mr. Rahim’s brother, an imam named Ibrahim Rahim, that he was shot in the back while talking to his father on the phone.

Darnell Williams, CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, declared after watching the video that Rahim “was not on a cellphone and was not shot in the back.”

Quickly releasing video to community leaders, acknowledges Daniel Conley, district attorney for Suffolk County in Massachusetts, goes against a long-held policing tradition in which investigative details are kept under wraps until a trial. The strategy stands in sharp contrast to how officers acted after last year’s shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. There, days after violent protests had already erupted, police revealed only piecemeal and contradictory information….

Boston’s strategy is an attempt at transparency – to reach out to those who may have questions and concerns about what happened, and whose views can be influential in the community.

We’ll see if that holds up after further investigation, but so far it sounds somewhat positive.

According to The Boston Globe, Rahim planned to behead police officers. He was overheard talking about it on phone taps. I don’t know how he thought he’d accomplish that goal even though he had a very scary looking knife.

Usaama Rahim had been plotting for days, officials said. He bought three long-bladed fighting knives — “good for carving,” he said — and confided to his nephew and another man that he would travel to another state to commit a beheading.

But at 5 a.m. Tuesday, the plan abruptly changed, according to a federal affidavit. Rahim would murder police officers in Massachusetts.

“I’m just going to, ah, go after them, those boys in blue,” Rahim allegedly told his nephew David Wright, in a phone call recorded by an anti-terrorism task force.

Two hours later, when members of that task force approached him in a Roslindale parking lot, Rahim allegedly brandished one of his military knives. They told him to drop his weapon. “You drop yours,” he allegedly replied, before a Boston Police officer and an FBI agent shot him to death.

The details emerged as Wright, Rahim’s nephew and alleged conspirator, appeared in federal court on a charge that he obstructed the investigation by encouraging his uncle to destroy his cellphone to hide evidence.

I don’t know. It still sounds like one of those FBI sting operations . . . .

articles_24

A few more links:

This sounds like another Freddie Gray incident. From Raw Story: ‘Nobody knows what happened’: Florida inmate mysteriously dies after ride in sheriff’s van.

Vox: I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me.

Rhonda Garelick in an op-ed at the New York Times: The Price of Caitlyn Jenner’s Heroism. It’s not what it sounds like. Heroism should have been in quotes. Please read this one.

Eric Boehlert at Salon on why Hillary won’t talk to the media: GOP’s obscene sex-cop hypocrisy: Dennis Hastert, Hillary and the absurdity of the Clinton impeachment.

Why won’t Hillary Clinton open up to the press? Why can’t Bill and Hillary handle the media? Why has she ”withdrawn into a gilded shell“? Why does she wear media “armor“? Those questions have been rehashed in recent months as journalists focus on themselves and what role they’ll play in the unfolding nomination contest.

A suggestion: Follow the path back to Dennis Hastert’s impeachment era for clues to those Clinton press questions.

AP via the WaPo: Co-owner of Four Seasons charged with sex abuse in New York.

Think Progress: Jim Bob Duggar Repeatedly Minimizes The Sexual Molestation Of His Own Daughters.

Pop Crush: Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar Defend Son: ‘He Was Just Curious About Girls.’

Good Morning America: Duggars Say Son Josh ‘Improperly Touched’ 4 of Their Daughters.

Gawker: Gawker Media Votes To Unionize.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Thursday.

 


Thursday Reads: Wild Weather, Climate Change, and Other News

 reading-lady-matisse-henri-fauvism-oil-on-cardboard-genre-terminartors-1372947212_orgGood Morning!!

It has been close to 90 degrees here for the past several days, and it’s technically still spring. I’m beginning to wonder if we are going to have a summer from hell as a follow-up to the worst winter in the half-century I’ve lived in Boston.

In addition to the unusually hot weather, the pollen is so bad that every morning when I wake up it takes a few hours for my scratchy, watery eyes to clear up enough for me to read comfortably.

I’m on a regimen of Flonase, Allegra, and Mucinex; but I still feel stuffed up most of the time. Sometimes I feel itchy and even dizzy and nauseated; and I think it’s from allergies. The itchy skin would be unbearable without the Allegra.

Is anyone else noticing worse-than-usual allergies this year? Last year’s spring allergy season was very bad; this year is far worse. Anyone who actually claims to believe that there isn’t something dramatic happening with our weather is either deluded or lying. I wonder if we will manage to do something about climate change before it’s too late.

What about all that awful weather down in Texas?

Here’s a story from the Texas Tribune, via KXON: Climate change, a factor in Texas floods, largely ignored.

“We have observed an increase of heavy rain events, at least in the South-Central United States, including Texas,” said Nielsen-Gammon, who was appointed by former Gov. George W. Bush in 2000. “And it’s consistent with what we would expect from climate change.”

But the state’s Republican leaders are deeply skeptical of the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the climate, with top environmental regulators in Texas questioning whether the planet is warming at all. And attempts by Democratic lawmakers during the 2015 legislative session to discuss the issue have come up short.

“In part, it’s ideologically driven and intellectually lazy,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, who earlier this year invited national security experts to the state Capitol to testify at a hearing on the risks of climate change. “My question is: What are people scared of? Are they scared of the truth?”

Asked about the role of climate change in the floods, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz declined to weigh in Wednesday. “At a time of tragedy, I think it’s wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster,” the Republican presidential candidate said during a news conference in San Marcos after surveying damage.

tumblr_mquzp94F2x1qheb2vo1_500

How does discussing scientific research on climate constitute “politicizing a natural disaster?”

Extreme weather events, and more of them, are among the most agreed-upon effects of global warming in all the scientific literature on the subject, said Nielsen-Gammon, who is also a professor at Texas A&M University. Part of the explanation is that ocean temperatures are rising, bringing more moist air into the state that can create storm systems. In the past century, precipitation in Texas is up 7 to 10 percent, and the frequency of two-day heavy rainfall spells has nearly doubled.

The scientific consensus is much stronger on this point than on whether climate change can directly cause droughts. Nielsen-Gammon’s own research has shown that warmer temperatures due to global warming did make the drought in Texas measurably worse than it otherwise would have been.

But for the last several years, legislation calling for climate-change studies has not succeeded in the Capitol.

It’s a pretty long article, and very interesting. I hope you’ll go read the whole thing.

Hypocrisy personified

Hypocrisy personified

More on Ted Cruz’s remarks from CNN: Texas flooding puts Cruz, GOP in bind on climate change.

The Republican presidential contender has held two press conferences over the past two days to address the flooding and the government’s response. At each one, he was asked about the impact of climate change on natural disasters like the Texas flooding, and at each one, he dodged the question….

“I think the focus now is on caring for those who have lost their lives and lost their homes,” he said.

At least 31 people have died in Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma from the storm since this weekend, while another 11 remain missing in Texas. Cruz promised to do all he could to ensure that Texans get access to the resources they need during the recovery.

Wait a minute. Anti-government Ted Cruz wants the Feds to help Texas? Didn’t he oppose aid to survivors of Hurricane Sandy?

climate1

Politicus USA: Ted Cruz Demands Federal Money For Texas Floods After Blocking Hurricane Sandy Relief.

During a press conference on the deadly flooding in Texas, Cruz said, “The federal government’s role, once the Governor declares a disaster area and makes a request, I am confident that the Texas congressional delegation, Sen. Cornyn and I, and the members of Congress both Republicans and Democrats will stand united as Texans in support of the federal government fulfilling its statutory obligations, and stepping in to respond to this natural disaster.

Sen. Cruz sang a completely different tune in 2013 when he called federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy wasteful:

Two-thirds of this spending is not remotely “emergency”; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 30% of the authorized funds would be spent in the next 20 months, and over a billion dollars will be spent as late as 2021.

This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington – an addiction to spending money we do not have. The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt.

climate2

Back to the CNN article for more Cruz climate change philosophy:

“It used to be [that] it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier,” he said in an interview with the Texas Tribune.

Cruz also argued that “global warming alarmists” aren’t basing their arguments on facts, because “the satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.”

Oh really? The point of the article is that Cruz and other Republicans may be leaning toward more moderate attitudes toward climate change research. I’ll believe that when I see it.

More interesting recent articles on climate change:

Think Progress: If You’ve Wondered Why So Many Politicians Deny Climate Change, Science Has Your Answer.

Washington Post: Climate change could shrink Mount Everest’s glaciers by 70 percent, study finds.

Dallas Morning News: Exxon CEO holds line on climate change at annual meeting.

Mother Jones Exclusive: The CIA Is Shuttering a Secretive Climate Research Program.

1-the-cause-of-global-warming-marx-rehburg

In other news . . .

Bobby Jindal got some attention in Politico for attacking another member of the GOP clown car: Bobby Jindal slams Rand Paul as unfit to be commander in chief.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal lashed out at Sen. Rand Paul for his recent comments about the Islamic State, saying the presidential contender is unfit to be commander in chief and is taking the “weakest, most liberal Democrat position” when it comes to fighting the militant group.

Using unusually harsh rhetoric and an unusual forum, Jindal posted a statement condemning Paul on Wednesday on his “office of the governor” website.

Story Continued Below

“This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief,” Jindal said. “We have men and women in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position. It’s one thing for Senator Paul to take an outlandish position as a Senator at Washington cocktail parties, but being Commander-in-Chief is an entirely different job. We should all be clear that evil and Radical Islam are at fault for the rise of ISIS, and people like President Obama and Hillary Clinton exacerbate it.”

The statement from Jindal, who is also a likely GOP presidential contender, came after the Kentucky Republican suggested Wednesday morning that hawkish members of his party were to blame for the rise of the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS.

Paul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS.”

Joseph Hutchens

Joseph Hutchens

In Touch Weekly has more breaking Duggar news.

DISGRACED COP WHO DIDN’T REPORT MOLESTATION SHOOTS DOWN JIM BOB’S STORY

In 2006, Jim Bob told Springdale police that he took Josh to see State Trooper Joseph Hutchens and that Josh “admitted to Hutchens what [Josh, redacted] had done,” according to the police report, obtained exclusively by In Touch through the Freedom of Information Act. At this point, there were five victims and multiple molestations by Josh….

Hutchens is serving 56 years in prison for child pornography and admits his “reputation is shot.” He was interviewed by a representative of a local law firm at In Touch‘s request and promised nothing in return for his recollections.

Hutchens’ failure to report the abuse caused the police to halt their 2006 investigation because the statute of limitations ran out.

In the new interview from prison, Hutchens said he was told by Jim Bob and Josh that “Josh had inappropriately touched [redacted] during the time she was asleep. He said he touched her through her clothing and he said it only happened one time.”

He said the fact that it was a one-time incident influenced his decision not to report it. “I did what I thought was right and obviously it wasn’t,” he says. “If I had to do it over again, I would have told him immediately I am going to call the hotline and contacted the trooper that worked those cases and have a full report made. I thought I could handle it myself.

The Duggar family is so corrupt that I expect there could be new revelations about them for months to come.

Jim Bob and Josh

Here’s a little tidbit that Allie Jones of Gawker Defamer found: Duggar Dad’s Political Platform: Incest Should Be Punishable by Death.

[W]hat does Jim Bob think of his own response to his son’s familial abuse? In a brief statement to People, Jim Bob and Michelle said last week that “that dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.” Maybe that’s because Jim Bob publicly stated during his 2002 campaign for U.S. Senate that he thinks incest should be punishable by death.

Jim Bob’s platform on his campaign website—preserved via web cache—states that he believes “rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes.” Jim Bob offered this belief to explain his position on abortion (only acceptable if both the mother and the baby were going to die anyway, of course)

See the screen shot at the link.

Other stories worth checking out, links only

A story from Politico that will make you–if not Charles Pierce–want to drink antifreeze: Dems view Sanders as bigger threat than O’Malley.

Since O’Malley is no threat at all, how worried could Dems really be?

Ezra Klein pontificates at length about why the SCOTUS anti-Obamacare case is total B.S.: The New York Times blows a hole in the case against Obamacare.

A poll from Qunnipac University: May 28, 2015 – Five Leaders In 2016 Republican White House Race, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Rubio, Paul Are Only Republicans Even Close To Clinton.

I haven’t read this story from the NYT yet, but I’ll bet it’s hilarious: What George PatakiWould Need to Do to Win. One more clown for the clown car.

NYT reports Climate news from India: Indians Scramble for Heat Relief, but Many Must Still Work.

Washington Post: Breakthrough HIV study could change course of treatment for millions.

BBC News: ‘New species’ of ancient human found.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!


Lazy Saturday Reads: Signs of Life After the Snowpocalypse

 crocus snow

Good Morning!!

I can’t wait for spring flowers and warmer weather, can you tell? I have all the symptoms of Spring fever, including inability to concentrate on anything serious, like politics or plane crashes. But I’ll do my best to give you some interesting links on this lazy late March Saturday.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Amanda Knox has finally been freed to live her life without the bizarre Italian legal system breathing down her neck. From the Chicago Tribune: Amanda Knox conviction thrown out by Italian court, closing legal saga.

Amanda Knox, who maintained that she and her former Italian boyfriend were innocent in her British roommate’s murder through multiple trials and nearly four years in jail, was vindicated Friday when Italy’s highest court threw out their convictions once and for all.

“Finished!” Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted after the decision was read out late Friday. “It couldn’t be better than this.”

The surprise decision definitively ends the 7½-year legal battle waged by Knox, 27, and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, 31, to clear their names in the gruesome 2007 murder and sexual assault of British student Meredith Kercher.

The supreme Court of Cassation panel deliberated for 10 hours before declaring that the two did not commit the crime, a stronger exoneration than merely finding insufficient evidence to convict. Instead, had the court-of-resort upheld the pair’s convictions, Knox would have faced 28 ½ years in an Italian prison, assuming she would have been extradited, while Sollecito had faced 25 years.

“Right now I’m still absorbing what all this means and what comes to mind is my gratitude for the life that’s been given to me,” Knox said late Friday, speaking to reporters outside her mother’s Seattle home.

This case has made me grateful that in the U.S. Constitution contains a double jeopardy clause.

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Things are getting really ugly in Yemen. From The Washington Post: How the Yemen conflict risks new chaos in the Middle East.

The meltdown in Yemen is pushing the Middle East dangerously closer to the wider regional conflagration many long have feared would arise from the chaos unleashed by the Arab Spring revolts.

What began as a peaceful struggle to unseat a Yemeni strongman four years ago and then mutated into civil strife now risks spiraling into a full-blown war between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran over a country that lies at the choke point of one of the world’s major oil supply routes.

With negotiators chasing a Tuesday deadline for the framework of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, it seems unlikely that Iran would immediately respond militarily to this week’s Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, analysts say.

But the confrontation has added a new layer of unpredictability — and confusion — to the many, multidimensional conflicts that have turned large swaths of the Middle East into war zones over the past four years, analysts say.

The United States is aligned alongside Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and against them in Yemen. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, who have joined in the Saudi offensive in Yemen, are bombing factions in Libya backed by Turkey and Qatar, who also support the Saudi offensive in Yemen. The Syrian conflict has been fueled by competition among all regional powers to outmaneuver one another on battlefields far from home.

Scary. All this because George W. Bush lied us into two needless, unwinnable wars.

Crocus in Boston

Ahramonline: Arab leaders pledge support to Yemen.

Although Saturday’s Arab League summit was due to cover a range of regional topics, the ongoing crisis in Yemen took the lead spot as the summit opened with speeches from Arab leaders.

A Saudi-led military offensive is underway against targets held by Houthi rebels in the turmoil-hit country, with the backing of a number of Arab states.

In his opening speech, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that military action was  “inevitable” to restore legitimate rule in Yemen.

El-Sisi also said that Egypt has accepted a proposal by a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to form a joint Arab military force to counter the “unprecedented threats” facing the region’s stability.

Arab foreign ministers agreed on a draft resolution to form a joint Arab military force to counter growing security threats in the region. The proposal requires the endorsement of the Arab leaders during the two-day summit this weekend.

Saudi’s King Salman vowed in his opening speech that the military intervention will not stop until Yemen is stable and safe. The monarch said that Saudi Arabia supports the Hadi government’s legitimacy in Yemen and wants stability for the Yemeni population.

He further stated that the situation in the region necessitates an Arab coalition to fight terrorism.

More details from CNN: Arab League to discuss military operation in Yemen.

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The Wall Street Journal on the incredibly selfish, suicidal co-pilot of that crashed Germanwings jet: Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz Concealed Depression From Airline.

BERLIN—Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who crashed an airliner into a French mountainside, was being treated for depression, a fact he concealed from his employer, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Mr. Lubitz had been excused from work by his neuropsychologist for a period that included the day of the crash, this person told The Wall Street Journal, but he decided to ignore the advice and reported to work.

The Germanwings tragedy highlights a broader industry dilemma: reliance on pilots themselves to disclose serious physical or psychological ailments to their employer—and what can happen when secrecy urges or privacy considerations trump full disclosure, safety and medial experts say.

Despite mandatory, regular medical exams—supplemented by company-specific safeguards intended to periodically check on aviators’ skills and psychological state—airlines ultimately depend on employees to honestly assess and report when they shouldn’t be flying.

In return, Germanwings, a unit of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, and many other airlines around the globe promise to avoid punishing pilots who comply with that guiding principle.

Read more at the WSJ. As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, this guy could have just shot himself or jumped out of a high window, but instead he decided to take 149 other people–including babies and high school kids–with him when he committed suicide.

Life after Snowpocalypse

A few stories on the terrible explosion in NYC’s East Village:

Newsweek: A Slice of New York City History Goes Up In Smoke.

An explosion in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday injured an estimated 25 people and destroyed a row of landmarked buildings that have held meaning for generations of New Yorkers. At one time the mayor’s residence was there, and another building housed an iconic vintage-clothing store made popular in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan.

“It’s a real tragedy. It was scary,” says Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council. “It’s shocking when this happens in an area that’s so close-knit. People really live on the streets here, in a good way. There’s a real community.”

City officials say the March 26 explosion happened at 121 Second Avenue and also damaged the neighboring buildings at 119, 123 and 125. The buildings all were awarded landmark status in October 2012 as part of a designation of an East Village/Lower East Side Historic District. The buildings in that district date mostly to the mid- to late 1800s, a time when wealthier New Yorkers started moving uptown and selling off their properties, which were often turned into tenement housing.

European immigrants began moving into the area in large numbers in the second half of the 19th century. An early influx consisted mostly of Germans, and the area became known as Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany. Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe moved there too and established a vibrant theater district.

“The East Village and the Lower East Side are remarkable in that they’ve seen successive waves of immigrants and new populations coming in and really shaping and affecting the physical environment, bringing with them their social clubs, their gathering places,” Bankoff says.

By the middle of the 20th century, the Village became an epicenter for artists and bohemians.

The historic district, one of 114 in the city, runs north-south from around East 7th Street to East Second Street and east-west from First and Second avenues to the Bowery.

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Click on the above link to continue reading. More details on the fire at ABC News: NYC Building Fire: Restaurant Owner Smelled Gas Before Massive Explosion, Officials Say.

From The New Yorker, a thoughtful and interesting essay on living in the East Village by Sarah Larson: The East Village Fire: Love Saves the Day.

Finally, one of the passengers in the GOP Clown Car, faux libertarian Rand Paul, opens his big mouth and spews nonsense and hate.

From Charles Pierce’s “Stupid for Lunch” cafe: Rand Paul’s Take On Defense Spending. In which the cafe staff starts the five minute clock for Senator Rand Paul.

The staff at the Cafe has a small clock in one particular booth. The booth is reserved for Senator Rand Paul, whenever he stops by for a quick lunch, for which he invariably undertips, when he doesn’t try to beat itout the back door.

Time was when Senator Aqua Buddha entertained us all — five minutes at a time — about how the country was wasting its money on a whole mess of sophisticated boom-boom. The staff knows when to begin the countdown and they begin invariably to whisper again…

Continue reading at the link.

Atheist Ayn Rand must be spinning in her grave over this from TPM.

Rand: ‘Moral Crisis’ Led To Gay Marriage, US Needs Religious Revival.

“Don’t always look to Washington to solve anything,” Paul said during a private prayer breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club.

“In fact, the moral crisis we have in our country — there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage — there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage.”

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Raw Story: Rand Paul calls for ‘tent revivals’ to resolve the ‘moral crisis’ of gay marriage.

“The moral crisis we have in our country — there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage — there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think there would be some other sort of marriage, ” he explained. “I think the exhortation to try and change people’s thoughts has to come from the countryside.”

The libertarian lawmaker then took a slightly religious turn, saying “You know, I’ve said this before, we need a revival in the country.”

“We need another great awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, you know,’reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform’.”

In a recent interview with Brett Baier of Fox News, Paul admitted that the use of the term ‘marriage’ for same sex couples offends him.

Watch the video at Raw Story. Honestly, I think that cartoon JJ post last night is beginning to make sense. Someone must have put LSD in Rand’s grits when he was a kid. Why would anyone vote for this wacko?

I’d write about the latest “revelations” about Hillary’s emails, but I don’t want to completely depress myself. I have to believe this will all die down before the 2016 primaries.

What have you been hearing and reading? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of March. April is coming soon!