The title of this post is a quote from Michelle Obama. In an interview in London, Obama discussed “impostor syndrome,” that feeling many women struggle with that we are undeserving of success. From Newsweek:
The former first lady opened up about how the struggle with self-doubt “never goes away,” during a sold-out talk with Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in London, which drew lines of tens of thousands of people.
Asked at the event how Obama felt about being seen as a “symbol of hope,” she said: “I still have a little imposter syndrome, it never goes away, that you’re actually listening to me,” according to the BBC.
“It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what that power is.”
“If I’m giving people hope then that is a responsibility, so I have to make sure that I am accountable,” Obama said.
But here’s the quote I just loved:
Obama offered a “secret” to young women everywhere: “I have been at probably every powerful table that you can think of, I have worked at nonprofits, I have been at foundations, I have worked in corporations, served on corporate boards, I have been at G-summits, I have sat in at the U.N.: They are not that smart.”
It’s so true. And as long as mediocre white men are promoted over smarter and more experienced women, we will continue to be ruled by people who “are not that smart.”
You only need to look at the 2016 election, in which Hillary Clinton–a brilliant, experienced woman–was constantly denigrated in favor of two barely mediocre white men, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. And now that an ignorant, corrupt white man is “president,” that Hillary is repeatedly told to shut up and sit down, while mediocre, old white men like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden–who have already failed in primary races–are promoted by the media.
I’ve avoided day-time cable news this week so I didn’t have to listen to the endless, over-the-top praise of the late George H.W. Bush. But I have to admit that Bush at least knew how to behave like a human being, unlike the current resident of the White House.
Trump attended Bush’s funeral, but he didn’t seem comfortable. Still he is being praised in some quarters for not making a complete fool of himself. Apparently he has been unhappy about having to go through an entire week when the media focus wasn’t on him. The New York Times reports:
Mr. Trump has been snappish with aides most of the week, according to administration officials, miffed in part by so many ceremonial events not related to him. He was impatient for the memorials to end but expressed pride in himself for remaining publicly civil. People close to the president called it a course correction after his peevish reaction to Mr. McCain’s death.
What a pathetic asshole. He did the bare minimum, didn’t sing hymns or recite the Apostle’s Creed, and was the only person in the room who didn’t put his hand over his heart when the coffin was carried out.
At The Washington Post, Rick Wilson writes that George W. Bush’s invitation to Trump to attend the funeral prevented the asshole from ruining the solemn event.
By insisting on his successor’s inclusion in the proceedings, Bush forced the current White House occupant to briefly abandon his unfrozen cave-man act, denying him the chance to further debase the office of president by siphoning the dignity out of 41’s final hours in D.C. — something 45 likely would have relished, given the opportunity.
We’ll still be hearing about Poppy Bush for a couple more days because there is going to be another funeral in Texas today.
On Monday, Trump hosted a 2020 strategy meeting with a group of advisers. Among the topics discussed was whether Mike Pence should remain on the ticket, given the hurricane-force political headwinds Trump will face, as demonstrated by the midterms, a source briefed on the session told me. “They’re beginning to think about whether Mike Pence should be running again,” the source said, adding that the advisers presented Trump with new polling that shows Pence doesn’t expand Trump’s coalition. “He doesn’t detract from it, but he doesn’t add anything either,” the source said. Last month, The New York Times reported that Trump had been privately asking advisers if Pence could be trusted, and that outside advisers have been pushing Nikki Haley to replace Pence. One veteran of Trump’s 2016 campaign who’s still advising Trump told me the president hasn’t been focused enough on 2020. “What he needs to do is consider his team for 2020 and make sure it’s in place,” the adviser said. “He has to have people on his team that are loyal to his agenda.”
Trump’s doubts about Pence are surprising given Pence’s frequent public encomiums and professions of loyalty. “Trump waxes and wanes on everyone,” a prominent Republican close to the White House explained. Part of what’s driving the debate over Pence’s political value is Trump’s stalled search for a chief of staff to replace John Kelly. According to a source, Kelly has recently been telling Trump that Pence doesn’t help him politically. The theory is that Kelly is unhappy that Pence’s 36-year-old chief of staff, Nick Ayers, has been openly campaigning for Kelly’s job. “Kelly has started to get more political and he’s whispering to Trump that Trump needs a running mate who can help him more politically,” the source said. (The White House did not respond to a request for comment.)
I wonder how Evangelical voters would feel about pious Pence getting dumped?
There has been lots of Russia investigation news this week despite the wall-to-wall coverage of Bush’s passing. Some stories to check out:
David Ignatius at The Washington Post: Michael Flynn appears to have come full circle.
The Trump campaign warrior of 2016 who led chants of “lock her up” deriding Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and then lied to the FBI after President Trump’s inauguration about his secret contacts with Russia, once again became an “exemplary” figure whose example, Mueller says, encouraged others to do the right thing.
“The defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government,” writes Mueller in the sentencing memo. Mueller praises Flynn’s “early cooperation” as a spur to others. “The defendant’s decision to plead guilty and cooperate likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming [with the special counsel’s office] and cooperate,” the memo notes.
This denouement, in which Flynn is once again on the side of law enforcement and truth-telling, is fascinating to me as someone who followed his career for more than a decade and remembers hearing his blisteringly honest briefings as a combat intelligence commander in Afghanistan. Flynn became disoriented during his years in Trump’s orbit, but the sentencing memo suggests that he recovered his balance and sense of duty after Mueller began his investigation.
There’s a bizarre irony here. Trump pleaded with James B. Comey, the FBI director at the time the investigation of Flynn began, to consider “letting this go.” That was a grossly improper attempt to interfere with the investigation and prosecution of Flynn’s false statements. How strange that it was Mueller, in the end, who decided in effect to “let this go” by recommending no jail time, after the investigation had run its course and Flynn had pleaded guilty and cooperated.
Did Michael Flynn wear a wire for Mueller? MSNBC counterintelligence expert Frank Figliuzzi suggested as much yesterday. Hill Reporter.com:
MSNBC’s Morning Joe called on Frank Figluzzi to come in and help explain the memo. Figliuzzi was formerly an Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the FBI and is familiar with Robert Mueller’s methods.
He began the segment by explaining that the extensive redactions meant that the info inside was sensitive. After stating that redactions are out of character for Mueller, Figluzzi said, “We saw lots of redaction. You do that in the FBI either when you have classified information or you are at such a sensitivity level that you cannot expose it.”
Figluzzi also felt the light sentence and amount of redactions meant the investigation was aiming for convictions at the highest levels. He continued, “I think, in fact, that underneath these redactions, if we were to lift these black magic marker points out, we would see people with the last name Trump or Kushner.”
Finally, Figluzzi ended the segment with a bombshell suggestion; Flynn may have worn a wire. He told the panel, “We see reference here to quick cooperation by Flynn. What does that mean? Did it happen in what we call the golden hour, where you could even wire somebody up and have him share communications in real time?”
At The Guardian, Marcia Chambers and Charles Kaiser made the same suggestion.
The least-noticed sentence in Michael Flynn’s plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller may also be the most important one.
Section eight of the deal reached by Donald Trump’s former national security adviser in the inquiry into Russian meddling in the US election is entitled “cooperation”. It specifies that as well as answering questions and submitting to government-administered polygraph tests, Flynn’s cooperation “may include … participating in covert law enforcement activities”.
Long-time students of federal law enforcement practices agreed, speaking anonymously, that “covert law enforcement activities” likely refers to the possibility of wearing a concealed wire or recording telephone conversations with other potential suspects. It is not known whether Flynn has worn a wire at any time.
“If the other subjects of investigation have had any conversations with Flynn during the last few months, that phrase must have all of them shaking in their boots,” said John Flannery, a former federal prosecutor in the southern district of New York.
“The one who must be particularly terrified is [Trump son-in-law and adviser] Jared Kushner, if he spoke to the special counsel’s office without immunity about the very matter that is the subject of Flynn’s plea. I think he must be paralyzed if he talked to Flynn before or after the investigators debriefed him.”
More Russia reads, links only:
Garrett M. Graff at Wired: 14 Questions Robert Mueller Knows the Answers To.
Renato Mariotti at Time: Don’t Expect Mueller to Charge a Grand Conspiracy.
Betsy Woodruff at The Daily Beast: Senate Intelligence Committee Grilled Steve Bannon About Cambridge Analytica.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I have to admit that getting rid of Kremlin Caligula would certainly make the entire world sleep easier. His brand of crazy, affluenza, and narcissism creates nothing but chaos. I find this appalling on all levels but as both a student and teacher of game theory I can only imagine what the folks are doing that use that tool for diplomatic negotiations, strategic arms control, terrorism scenarios, economic shocks, and all other types of endeavors where strategy, predictability, and the assumption of operating in rational best interest are intrinsic to the models. President Swiss Cheese for brains emanates black swans like a newborn fills diapers. It’s constant and YUGE and stinky!!! That’s a dangerous situation in a world with nuclear weapons, sophisticated war games, and global trade which all rely heavily on the game theory method of analyzing and containing fucked up situations.
However, what’s waiting in the wings at the moment is a scary predictable monster. Former Indiana Governor and current VPOTUS Mike Pence is a known and frightening quantity. What we know is extremely bad. He’s quiet yet conventionally political and as radical as they come. This is why I dread reading and hearing about a potential President Mike Pence. His religious, economic, and record of governance are appalling. He is forming a PAC and undoubtedly finding the finger of gawd up his ass with this Politico Headline and lede: ‘Conservatives begin to whisper: President Pence. With Trump swamped by self-inflicted scandals, Republicans find solace in the man waiting in the wings.’
And conservative New York Times op-ed writer Ross Douthat, argued that abandoning Trump now should be easier because someone competent is waiting in the wings. “Hillary Clinton will not be retroactively elected if Trump is removed, nor will Neil Gorsuch be unseated,” Douthat wrote in Wednesday’s Times.
The pining for Pence is nothing new, however. From Capitol Hill to K Street, the notion that many Republicans prefer Pence to Trump in the Oval Office is perhaps the worst-kept secret in Washington.
Just ask Republican lobbyists who have watched the Trump administration struggle to move tax reform, health care and other top priorities.
“I find it unlikely that Trump is going anywhere,” one GOP lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, wrote in an email. “That being said, Pence is well-liked on the Hill, fairly predictable, and doesn’t stir up much unnecessary drama.”
A number of Republican lobbyists already view Pence as a source of stability in an otherwise tumultuous White House. Many of Pence’s top staffers — including his chief of staff, Josh Pitcock — worked for Pence during his years in the House and are deeply familiar with the legislative process. Other former Pence staffers from his House days are working elsewhere in the administration, including Marc Short, the legislative affairs director, and Russ Vought, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
While Pence may not be as commanding a figure in Trump’s White House as Dick Cheney was in George W. Bush’s, Trump has leaned on him heavily. Lobbyists who set up meetings between Pence and their clients must warn them that the vice president may be an hour and a half late or have to leave after 10 minutes because Trump is constantly calling him into the Oval Office to confer with him, according to one Republican lobbyist.
Ross Douthat is a philistine and throwback to the worst Western Civilization has ever offered. Anything he suggests should be immediately dumped into a nuclear waste dump. Both Pence and Douthat are likely reincarnations of the worst the Spanish Inquisition ever offered. You can tell that the Republican machine is closing ranks around him from these kinds of comments. Be very afraid!
Vice President Mike Pence has been kept in the dark about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged wrongdoing, according to a source close to the administration, who cited a potential “pattern” of not informing the vice president and calling it “malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable.”
A White House spokesman called The Times’ report “flat wrong” on Thursday, but the latest revelations, including a report that Flynn called off a military mission in Raqqa after working as a foreign agent for Turkey, only broadened the scope of questions around Flynn’s time as an adviser to the Trump campaign and the eventual National Security Adviser.
The source called the report of another discretion by Flynn “stunning.”
This would be the second time that Pence claims he was kept in the dark about possible Flynn wrongdoings, despite the White House’s alleged knowledge of them. Earlier this year, Pence said he was not made aware of Flynn’s discussions with Russian officials until 15 days after Trump and the White House were notified.
The source close to the administration, who requested anonymity as the White House denies the story, is now saying that Pence and his team were not made aware of any investigation relating to Flynn’s work as a foreign agent for Turkey.
“It’s also a fact that if he told McGahn that during the transition, it’s also a fact that not only was Pence not made aware of that, no one around Pence was as well,” the source said. “And that’s an egregious error — and it has to be intentional. It’s either malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable.”
Vice President Mike Pence is standing by a March statement that he first learned of now-fired national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Turkey from media reports, despite renewed scrutiny and revelations President Donald Trump’s transition team was made aware far earlier.“The vice president stands by his comments in March upon first hearing the news regarding General Flynn’s ties to Turkey and fully supports the President’s decision to ask for General Flynn’s resignation,” said an aide to Pence, who declined to be named.But questions about what Pence knew and when are swirling thanks to new media reports about what Flynn revealed to Trump’s transition team, which Pence oversaw.Flynn informed the Trump transition team more than two weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for his work as a lobbyist advocating for Turkish government interests, The New York Times reported Wednesday. But Pence didn’t know, according to a senior administration official close to Pence.Despite reportedly informing the transition’s chief lawyer Donald McGahn, now White House counsel, of the investigation’s existence, Flynn still walked into the West Wing on January 20 as the President’s top adviser on national security issues.
Even young evangelicals question Mike Pence as witnessed by a protest of him by students in a small bible college where he spoke at commencement. However, they still consider him to be a “good” christian. This is what worries me.
Pence is a radical. He’s also not very bright. He is, however, good at passing as a conventional human being. He also looks like the anchor to sanity compared to his unhinged boss. This is dangerous in a time when looking for safe ports is a minute by minute task.
During my travels across the self-proclaimed Crossroads of America, I learned that Mike Pence had once paid his mortgage with campaign funds, dragged his feet during an HIV epidemic and a lead-poisoning outbreak, signed an anti-gay-rights bill that nearly cost Indiana millions of dollars, lost his mind on national TV with George Stephanopoulos, and turned away Syrian refugees in an unconstitutional ploy laughed out of federal court. And he ended his gubernatorial term unpopular enough that his re-election bid in a Republican state seemed dicey at best.
Pence is the nation’s 48th vice president. Nine vice presidents have assumed the presidency as a result of death or resignation. That’s a 19 percent ascendancy rate. Between Trump’s trigger-happy Twitter persona, the ethical nightmare of his business empire, his KFC addiction and possible entanglements with Vladimir Putin, I’d say the chances for Mike Pence are more than 50-50.
So what do we know about Pence? The governor benefited greatly from the wall-to-wall “Trump is a crazy monkey throwing feces” media coverage during the fall campaign, in that his record was undercovered, but it’s out there and suggests that his impact as vice president will screw African-Americans, women, the poor and any other square peg in round America. His concerns for the parts of Indiana outside his comfort zone toggled between disinterest and disdain.
And here’s the frightening thing: Unlike his boss, Mike Pence has an actual ideology. Pence proclaimed at the 2016 GOP convention that “I am a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” However, his actual record – including turning down up to $80 million in federal pre-K funding – is the antithesis of Jesus’ “whatever you do for one of the least of my brothers, you do for me” theology.
This should worry anyone that is concerned about the rights of women and GLBT. It should concern those of us that like to live in the modern age. He’s no different from the Taliban except for the name and face on the prophet. We would do well to remember that!
In 2000, Pence made another bid for Congress. He checked the GOP boxes for cutting taxes while increasing military spending, but he also made it clear he was a Christian warrior, stating, “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws.” He also argued that the AIDS resources bill, commonly known as the Ryan White Care Act, should be renewed only if resources were “directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” While Pence has argued that providing assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior meant abstinence groups, many gay activists heard code words for “conversion therapy.” In 2006, he spoke in favor of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, arguing that “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.”
Pence fought against the pro-choice movement with vigor rare even by right-wing standards, introducing a bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood year after year he was in the House. The death of a woman after taking an abortion pill led Pence to the House floor, where he spoke favorably of Lex Cornelia, a collection of ancient Roman laws, including one detailing how providers of abortion potions were sentenced to work in the mines.
His agenda was so radical that exactly zero of Pence’s bills became law. But he’d laid down markers that would be appreciated by the hard right who vote in presidential primaries.
These are excerpts from an extremely long but engaging piece in a January issue of Rolling Stone by Stephan Rodrick. It’s worth your time.
Oh, and speaking of dishrags that hold down VEEP jobs, Biden opened his mouth again and it’s not pretty. Here’s WAPO: ‘Biden disses Clinton: ‘I never thought she was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate.’’ This from the man who could never climb out of the bottom tier of national candidates. This from the man who lead the real witch hunt on Anita Hill.
Former vice president Joe Biden stirred the Democratic pot a little bit on Thursday night.
Appearing at the SALT hedge fund conference in Las Vegas, the possible 2020 presidential candidate weighed in on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 candidacy in a way that Clinton supporters sure won’t like.
“I never thought she was a great candidate,” Biden said, according to reports. “I thought I was a great candidate.”
Biden clarified, according to CNN, that “Hillary would have been a really good president.” But that isn’t likely to make Clinton supporters feel much better.
Biden isn’t the first leading Democratic figure with possible designs on 2020 to apparently slight Clinton. Clinton’s 2016 primary foe, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has repeatedly offered some version of this quote: “It wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election; it was that the Democratic Party that lost the election.”
Those comments have definitely rubbed some Clinton supporters the wrong way, and Biden’s are likely to even more so, given how direct they were.
This is all followed, of course, by the proverbial MSM meme that Hillary was such a bad candidate. Yeah, you can tell that by the number of votes she’s gotten and the number of times she wins most admired woman in the world and in the US. WTF is wrong ? Can’t this nitwit just go peacefully into the night and tilt at a few windmills in the name of cancer research and the memory of his son?
So, as we swiftly continue our realization that white men will never give women a chance to lead, remember that our current VEEP calls his wife “MOTHER” and will not be left alone in any room with a woman.
Vice President Mike Pence is known for many things: the homophobic policies he instated while governor of Indiana, his fierce opposition to women’s health care, his tendency to defer to the Bible over the Constitution. Yet another facet of the vice president emerged recently: his desire to never dine alone in the company of a woman other than his wife. This is odd enough — but things get even weirder when you consider that Pence allegedly calls his wife, Karen, “Mother.” If the claims are true, why does he use this seemingly outdated nickname? There’s no clear answer, but I can take an educated guess.
Pence’s supposed penchant for calling Karen “Mother, Mother” (that’s two “mothers” in a row, if you’re keeping track), originally came to light in a January Rolling Stone profile on Mrs. Pence. The piece recounted a dinner Pence held for the Democratic minority while he was governor of Indiana. It was here, reportedly, that multiple members of the dinner party heard Pence refer to Karen as “Mother.”
“Mother, Mother, who prepared our meal this evening?” Pence allegedly asked. He followed this up with another question later in the evening, supposedly asking Karen, “Mother, Mother, whose china are we eating on?”
Flash forward to this week’s profile of Karen in the Washington Post. The publication cited a long-buried 2002 interview with the Hill, in which Pence said he never eats alone with a woman that isn’t his wife, and likewise never drinks alcohol without his wife present.
Could these seemingly outdated guidelines tie in with the alleged “Mother” nickname? I’m going to wager that yes, it’s very possible.
The boundaries he sets in his own marriage are up to him and “Mother” (erm, his wife), of course. But these rules Pence has placed on himself are no great surprise when you consider his socially conservative take on women’s issues at large, as well as his tendency to incorporate his own religious views into his political life. His tie-breaking Senate vote to allow states to withhold Title X funding from clinics that provide abortions, even though abortions are legal in the United States, is only the latest example.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Yesterday, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden appeared together in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Atlantic reports:
For Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, their joint campaign stop Monday in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was a play for the swing state’s crucial voters, particularly those from the white working class who Donald Trump has taken pains to attract.
But it was also something of a homecoming: Both the vice president and Clinton’s father, Hugh Rodham, were born in the city, a former coal-mining and manufacturing hub. Biden has long used Scranton as a symbol of the American dream, and often invokes his early years there as evidence he’s a man of the people. During his remarks Monday, he framed Clinton as a fellow child of Scranton: the product of one of its families, yes, but also of its ethos.
The city “is made up of so many people with grit and courage—I mean this sincerely, from the bottom of my heart—with grit, courage, determination, who never, never, ever give up,” Biden said. “They deserve someone who not only understands them, they deserve someone who’s with them. And they deserve someone who’s made of the same stuff. That’s Hillary Clinton. That’s who she is.”
Biden also had plenty to say about Donald Trump, none of it nice. From Politico:
Vice President Joe Biden on Monday ripped into Donald Trump for his overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin, declaring that the Republican nominee “would have loved Stalin.”
At a rally in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden assailed Trump as unfit to be president and slammed his proposals on foreign policy and the military. With Hillary Clinton at his side, Biden criticized the GOP nominee’s repeated warm statements toward Putin and said “Trump’s ideas are not only profoundly wrong, they’re very dangerous and they’re very un-American.”
“This guy’s shame has no limits. He’s even gone so far as to ask Putin and Russia to conduct cyberattacks against the United States of America,” Biden said, raising his voice for emphasis over the raucous crowd. “Even if he is joking — which he’s not — even if he’s joking, what an outrageous thing to say.”
Pointing out his aide who travels with him and carries the U.S. nuclear codes, Biden said Trump is too unstable and lacks the knowledge to be given control over such weapons. The vice president also spoke warmly of his son Beau, a military veteran who went on to serve as Delaware’s attorney general before losing a battle with cancer in 2015. Biden said he would have tried to stop his son from serving if Trump were commander in chief.
As usual Biden went on and on, but he did have some very nice things to say about Hillary. There was also an awkward moment when Biden disembarked from his plane and gave Hillary a hug that seemed as if it would never end. Mediaite:
Vice President Joe Biden and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shared a tarmac hug Monday that got a little awkward when Biden just kinda refused to let go.
Biden deplaned before a Pennsylvania joint rally and hugged Clinton. But while Clinton broke off the hug after an appropriate amount of time, Biden held onto her. In a move easily recognizable to wrestlers and friend-zoners everywhere, Clinton starting tapping Biden on the arm as he continued the embrace.
All told, the hug lasted about fifteen seconds and three attempted tap-outs.
Donald Trump was in Youngstown, Ohio yesterday to make a supposedly “serious” speech about how he would combat terrorism. Many of the ideas he presented were for policies that the Obama administration is already carrying out. The rest were the usual insane, racist plans that have become his trademark. Tim Mak at The Daily Beast: Donald Trump Cribs His War Plan From the ‘Founder’ of ISIS: Barack Obama.
Trump spent a substantial amount of time in his speech hammering the Obama administration for not doing enough to defeat ISIS.
But in Syria, Libya, and Iraq, the multinational effort to defeat ISIS appears now to be on the upswing. And in the sparse moments when Trump actually proposed ideas to defeat ISIS, it sounded suspiciously like the ideas already being put into practice by his arch-nemesis Obama.
You know: the guy Trump called the “founder” of ISIS….
“They’re trying to make it look much better than it is. It’s bad,” Trump said, referring to the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign’s assessment of ISIS….
But while the Republican nominee’s address in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday was billed as a speech describing new ways to defeat ISIS—in recent weeks ISIS has seen serious setbacks.
Trump denounced the situation in Libya, which he blamed on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But ISIS’s grip there is changing rapidly. ISIS appears to be on the verge of losing its African capital in the city of Sirte to local militia fighters who lately have been bolstered by U.S. airstrikes.
While Trump referred to stopping Syrian refugees from entering the United States, ISIS just suffered a major loss there Monday. After a months-long battle, Arab and Kurdish forces reclaimed a northern city that is on a key route for ISIS fighters, equipment and money traveling from Turkey into Syria. Over the weekend, video emerged showing female residents of this city burning their burkas and men cutting their beards, an outward display of the end of ISIS rule.
Meanwhile, ISIS already has lost territory in several Iraqi cities, including Fallujah, Ramadi, and Tikrit.
I wouldn’t expect Trump to know about what’s actually happening; I don’t think he reads anything in newspapers unless it’s about him. But you have to wonder who is writing his speeches.
Much of the speech was devoted to his proposed anti-immigrant policies. Trump said that as president he would suspend immigration from countries that have problems with terrorism, although he didn’t specify which countries he was referring to. And how would President Trump keep these potential immigrants out? He would use something he calls “extreme vetting.” NBC News reports:
Donald Trump on Monday promised “extreme vetting” of immigrants, including ideological screening that that will allow only those who “share our values and respect our people” into the United States.
Among the traits that Trump would screen for are those who have “hostile attitudes” toward the U.S., those who believe “Sharia law should supplant American law,” people who “don’t believe in our Constitution or who support bigotry and hatred.”
Those who Trump will allow in are “only those who we expect to flourish in our country.”
The Republican nominee did not disavow his prior proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The position, released in December 2015, is still on the nominee’s website. He did, however, call for a temporary suspension “from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism” in order to succeed in the goal of extreme ideological vetting.
It’s unclear whether or not this is in addition to, or in place of, his original temporary ban. In the past, as Trump has proposed a regional and country-based ban, he’s called it an “expansion” on his original ban — not a scaling back.
Trump did not name any countries that would be included in the regional ban, but said that should he be elected, his administration will ask the Department of State to “identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. There are many such regions,” Trump said. “We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” One of Trump’s long standing complaints about Syrian, and other, refugees, is that they are not sufficiently vetted and, because of that, could be a “Trojan Horse.”
Here’s a good analysis of the speech by NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin: Making Sense of Donald Trump’s Disjointed Foreign Policy Pitch. Check it out at the link.
In other news, a Brooklyn man has been charged in the shocking murders of Queens Imam Maulama Akonjee and his friend Thara Uddin. Police don’t know the motive yet, but you have to wonder if Donald Trump’s hate speech could have contributed to this crime. From New York Magazine:
Police have charged a Brooklyn man for the brazen murders of a Queens imam and his associate on Saturday. Oscar Morel, 35, was taken into NYPD custody Sunday night after allegedly ramming his car into an unmarked police car around 11 p.m. in the Ozone Park neighborhood — the same community where the killings occurred. Police identified Morel on Monday evening, and said he’d been charged with two counts of second-degree murder, according to the New York Times. He’s also facing two counts of criminal possession of a weapon after police searched his home and found what they believe to be the revolver used in the killing and clothes worn by the gunman in surveillance video.
Police have not yet named a motive in the killing of the 55-year-old imam Maulama Akonjee and his friend and assistant 64-year-old Thara Uddin, both Bangladeshi immigrants and religious leaders in their Queens neighborhood. The men were shot in the head at close range in broad daylight around 2 p.m. on Saturday. The victims were a block away from the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque, where both men, who wore traditional Muslim garb, had just finished afternoon prayers.
NYPD chief of detectives Robert Boyce said it’s still unclear if Morel had any connection to the two victims. “We’re still drilling down on it,” he said, adding that it’s “certainly on the table that it’s a hate crime.
A home-surveillance video of the shooting, released Sunday, shows the killer approaching the two men from behind. He rushes up behind them and lifts his arm and aims at the back of their heads; the two men crumple to the ground. The shooter appears to stuff the gun in his pocket and walk calmly away from the scene.
Read more at the link.
We’ve gone through years of public shootings, and there seems to be a new phenomenon developing–people thinking they hear gunshots and then freaking out mobs of other people. Will this become a regular “thing?” Two examples:
Witness reports of gunshots ringing out inside a busy North Carolina mall caused chaos Saturday afternoon as shoppers ran screaming for the doors or sheltered in stores while dozens of officers arrived.
Police said hours later they were investigating but hadn’t confirmed whether any shots had been fired, adding no one was found wounded by gunfire although there were several minor injuries among people running away. The shopping complex in an affluent area of Raleigh was put on lockdown while helicopters buzzed overhead and numerous law enforcement vehicles swarmed the shopping area….
The police chief said no shell casings had been found by late afternoon. But she noted that witnesses heard what sounded like gunshots, and added that the FBI, sheriff’s office and state investigators were also on scene.
Eight people ranging in age from 10 to 70 were transported to hospitals for treatment of injuries suffered as they rushed to leave the mall, she said. None of those injuries appeared to be life-threatening.
Video posted on social media sites shows dozens of people running toward mall exit doors as numerous screams were heard. Outside the mall, where people gathered afterward, a police officer got on the loudspeaker of a fire truck and said there was no one shot in the mall. Witnesses described chaos after reports of shots.
New York Magazine: Scenes From the Terrifying, Already Forgotten JFK Airport Shooting That Wasn’t.
When the first stampede began, my plane had just landed. It started, apparently, with a group of passengers awaiting departure in John F. Kennedy Airport Terminal 8 cheering Usain Bolt’s superhuman 100-meter dash. The applause sounded like gunfire, somehow, or to someone; really, it only takes one. According to some reports, one woman screamed that she saw a gun. The cascading effect was easier to figure: When people started running, a man I met later on the tarmac said, they plowed through the metal poles strung throughout the terminal to organize lines, and the metal clacking on the tile floors sounded like gunfire. Because the clacking was caused by the crowd, wherever you were and however far you’d run already, it was always right around you.
There was a second stampede, I heard some time later, in Terminal 4. I was caught up in two separate ones, genuine stampedes, both in Terminal 1. The first was in the long, narrow, low-ceilinged second-floor hallway approaching customs that was so stuffed with restless passengers that it felt like a cattle call, even before the fire alarm and the screaming and all the contradictory squeals that sent people running and yelling and barreling over each other — as well as the dropped luggage, passports, and crouched panicked women who just wanted to take shelter between their knees and hope for it, or “them,” to pass. The second was later, after security guards had just hustled hundreds of us off of the tarmac directly into passport control, when a woman in a hijab appeared at the top of a flight of stairs, yelling out for a family member, it seemed, who had been separated from her in the chaos. The crowd seemed to rise up, squealing, and rush for the two small sets of double doors.
Probably there were other stampedes, some small and some large, throughout the airport, to judge by the thousands of passengers massed outside on the tarmac by about 11 p.m. — not a peaceful mass, but a panicked one. Some of them had been swept outside by police charging through the terminals with guns drawn, shouting for people to get down, show their hands, and drop their luggage, since nothing was more important than your life. Others had been on lines where TSA agents grabbed their gear and just ran, at least according to reports on Twitter.
More at the link.
So . . . what else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!
Well, it’s been quite a week in politics.
On Monday, the AP and NBC News separately announced that Hillary Clinton had the requisite number of pledged delegates and super delegates to be the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party–the first woman in history to accomplish this.
On Tuesday, Hillary won more than enough votes to hold a majority of pledged delegates and make it impossible for her opponent to do so. She won primaries in New Jersey, California, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Her opponent won only North Dakota and Montana.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Senator Elizabeth Warren endorsed Hillary’s campaign for President and vowed to campaign hard for her. Next Wednesday, President Obama will appear with Hillary at an event in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Obama released his endorsement in a video.
The Wall Street Journal: Barack Obama Endorses Hillary Clinton for President.
No sitting U.S. president in recent history has campaigned for his party’s nominee as much as Barack Obama plans to for Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Obama endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee on Thursday in a video posted on social media. Her campaign also announced plans for a joint appearance with the president next Wednesday in Green Bay, Wis., kicking off a marathon push to retain Democratic control of the White House.
“I’m fired up,” Mr. Obama said in the video, echoing a chant from his 2008 campaign.
The announcements came just 90 minutes after Mrs. Clinton’s primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, emerged from a White House meeting with Mr. Obama, where the Vermont lawmaker gave his strongest signal yet that he wouldn’t try to block her nomination at the July convention in Philadelphia….
“It means something for him to say she is everything she says she will be, because he was a doubter,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, noting that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton were not natural allies.
Mark Mellman, a Democratic polling expert, said that for Mr. Obama, the potential reward is greater than any risk. “The peril for any president is you get too involved and lose and have it tarnish your legacy,” he said. But if Mr. Obama stayed idle and Mrs. Clinton lost, he would take a hit anyway, Mr. Mellman added, and the president’s policy would be at risk, too.
Mr. Trump said last week that Mr. Obama shouldn’t get involved in the race, warning that “if he campaigns, that means I’m allowed to hit him.”
Go ahead and try, Donald.
Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren quickly threw their public support behind Mrs. Clinton after Mr. Obama’s endorsement. Mr. Biden, in an off-the-cuff comment during a speech Thursday night, said “God willing” the next president will be Mrs. Clinton.
Michelle Obama also said she will campaign for Hillary.
Here’s Warren demolishing Donald Trump yesterday.
The Boston Globe reports: Elizabeth Warren ‘ready to jump in this fight’ for Hillary Clinton.
“I’m ready,” Warren said in an interview with The Globe. “I’m ready to jump in this fight and make sure that Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States and be sure that Donald Trump gets nowhere near the White House.”
She added: “I’m supporting Hillary Clinton because she’s a fighter, a fighter with guts.” ….
Warren, a champion of the left who passed up a presidential bid of her own, despite the urging of legions of followers, is uniquely positioned to serve as a bridge between the establishment candidacy of Clinton and Sanders supporters, who are being forced to come to terms with the Vermont senator’s loss.
Democrats view the freshman Massachusetts senator as a path of sorts to party unity, which helps explain an upsurge in buzz about Warren as a potential vice presidential pick. Senators and top staff say talking up Warren for vice president is a way to show Sanders and his millions of followers that the party establishment heard them loud and clear.
Warren appeared on the Rachel Maddow show last night to endorse Hillary. Watch or rewatch that appearance at the link.
Last night, Joe Biden warned of the danger of Donald Trump’s attacks on the federal judge who is hearing a case against Trump “university.”
Warren will meet with Clinton this morning, according to James Hohmann of the Washington Post.
Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton will meet privately Friday morning, according to two knowledgeable Democrats.
The sit-down, coming just hours after the Massachusetts senator formally endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee, will fuel speculation about her prospects as a potential vice presidential pick.
The women have had several conversations over the past month, including one that lasted around half an hour, sources told The Washington Post. The conversations were broad and focused on large topics and issues, rather than the nitty-gritty of the campaign. Their staffs have been engaged in more tactical discussions.
The two women do not have a particularly deep relationship, but that could change as Clinton rallies Democrats around her in the wake of winning the Democratic nomination in recent days. There were three big endorsements that could have meaningfully helped Clinton wrap up the nomination battle: Warren, President Obama and Vice President Biden. Clinton secured all three on Thursday.
Clinton, a Yale-educated lawyer, like Warren, a Harvard Law professor until she was elected in 2012, is a policy wonk at heart. So the two might talk in more detail about how Clinton could embrace pieces of the progressive agenda that allowed Bernie Sanders to win more than 20 states.
Or maybe she could help educate Sanders’ supporters about Hillary’s already very progressive policy proposals and explain that her plan to take on Wall Street is quite a bit stronger than Sanders’ vague ideas about “breaking up the banks.”
Let’s hope we’re close to seeing the back of Bernie Sanders. He held a rally in Washington DC last night, and he plans to compete in the DC primary on Jun 14. I hope by then Democratic leaders will have convinced him to stand down and go back to Vermont. I honestly don’t see how he can campaign for Hillary after he has so poisoned his supporters against her, but maybe I’m wrong. We’ll see.
The Washington Post: How Bernie Sanders’s day in Washington got eclipsed by Democratic unity.
Shortly after Sanders emerged from his meeting with Obama, word got out that the president was going to trumpet an endorsement of his former secretary of state in a video. And then it became clear that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a darling of the political left and Sanders’s ideological soulmate, had also chosen Thursday to throw her support behind Clinton.
The theme of the day soon became Democratic unity, drowning out the conversation about what policy changes and other concessions Sanders might exact in exchange for exiting the race….
By the time Sanders arrived on Capitol Hill for a series of afternoon meetings, Clinton’s campaign had released the video of Obama endorsing her, in which he says of Clinton’s pursuit of the presidency : “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.”
After arriving on the Hill, Sanders headed to the suite of Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
Sitting on a chair across from Reid by a bookshelf, the Democratic presidential hopeful sat silently as reporters asked him about the six states that voted on Tuesday. Sanders had posted victories in only two.
“Okay you guys, we’re not going to take any questions,” Reid said as Sanders stared straight ahead with his hands on his knees. “That’s kind of the deal that I made.”
Gabriel Debenedetti at Politico: The Sanders wind-down begins.
The walls are crumbling, and Bernie Sanders knows it.
Barack Obama made his support for Hillary Clinton official on Thursday. So did Vice President Joe Biden and liberal hero Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The major political groups surrounding Sanders are saying it’s time to unify.
The campaign is rapidly winding down around Sanders, the Senate gadfly-turned-unlikely revolutionary who outperformed everyone’s expectations, and he finally began to acknowledge it Thursday.
“We need real change in this country. And what people also understand is that no president, not Bernie Sanders, not anybody else, can do it alone,” he told roughly 3,000 supporters gathered near Washington’s RFK stadium on a hot evening, returning to his original stump speech about billionaires, the “corrupt campaign finance system,” and “the broken criminal justice system” without once mentioning Clinton or the Democratic Party’s convention….
The signals that he now accepts the fact that he won’t be the party’s nominee were unmistakable.
The courtship letters his campaign had planned to send superdelegates have been put on hold. His go-to argument — that he polls better against Donald Trump than Clinton — has been scrubbed from his public statements. There are mass staff departures, and his digital firm set up a new site to help laid off staffers find their next gig.
Even his Senate relationship rebuilding effort has begun.
It’s a swift denouement for a campaign that had been bleeding money and staff for weeks, hastened by the surprising margin of Sanders’ loss in California on Tuesday night — which his aides hadn’t anticipated partly because they stopped polling in California days earlier due to the cost.
I really hope Sanders can keep his exit dignified.
Meanwhile, Ruby Cramer reports at Buzzfeed: Clinton Looks To Add Young Voters To Her Coalition Against Trump.
On Friday, just three days after securing the Democratic nomination, Clinton launched a new “millennial engagement” program, targeting voters under the age of 35 with three new hires — including one from the Bernie Sanders campaign.
The new team comes together after a long-fought primary against Sanders, the Vermont senator whose campaign was able to peel away students and twenty-somethings in large numbers. Clinton aides, now preparing for a general election against Donald Trump, view young people as a crucial piece of the electorate, building on an existing coalition of women, older voters, and people of color.
The program expands on the Clinton’s campus outreach effort, an endeavor that largely failed in primary states against Sanders. Campaign operatives now hope to widen their reach to voters under the age of 30, while keeping a focus on winning back college-age voters.
Kunoor Ojha, a former Sanders aide set to join the millennial engagement program, is the first member of the senator’s staff to join the Clinton campaign, an aide said.
The campaign plans to send the youth outreach team around the country to “listen directly to millennial voters,” according to a Clinton official. The team of three operatives will also work directly with staffers in battleground states to create local outreach programs and hold “working group” meetings with voters under 35.
Read more details at the link.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a fabulous weekend!
Unfortunately, after making this clear, Biden rambled on interminably as his wife and President Obama gritted their teeth and looked embarrassed. I didn’t think Biden would ever stop. Interestingly, Obama had nothing to say. I had gotten the impression that he was going to speak about Biden’s decision.
I’m thinking what must have happened is that Obama called Biden in and told him to stop undermining the serious candidates as well as Secretary of State Kerry and quit playing game with the media. But Biden acted as if he is everyone’s choice and he needed to advise all the other candidates on what needs to be done. It was painful.
Thank goodness it’s over.
Post your thoughts and links below. It should be interesting reading the media reactions.
I’m sick to death of hearing about Creepy Uncle Joe Biden and his presidential ambitions. If he wanted to run for president in 2016, he should have started long ago. But now he’s doing his very best to overshadow the serious candidates with his months-long dithering about “jumping in” at the last minute.
In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s outstanding debate performance on Tuesday, Washington pundits announced that there was no room for Biden in the race; but one of his top supporters spent Thursday hyping the possibility that Biden could still run and win. He sent out an email to Biden supporters designed to suggest that Biden is running and then leaked the email to the Associated Press. Here’s the whole thing, from CNN: Sen. Ted Kaufman’s email to Biden allies.
A lot of you are being asked, and have asked me, about the direction and timing of the Vice President’s thinking about a run for President. On the second question – timing – I can’t add much, except I am confident that the Vice President is aware of the practical demands of making a final decision soon. He has been in public and political life a long time and he has a good grip on the mechanics around this decision.
But on the first question, I know him well, and have spoken with him extensively about this issue. It will not surprise you, as it does not surprise me, what he will weigh in the decision and what – being Joe Biden – he will not.
All of you know well that the first and foremost consideration will be the welfare and support of his family. That’s Joe Biden. He has been clear about this and it is as true today as it has been for the past several months. He is determined to take, and to give his family, as much time as possible to work this through.
But then the question is what kind of Presidential campaign he believes he would run, and what kind of President he believes he can be. If he runs, he will run because of his burning conviction that we need to fundamentally change the balance in our economy and the political structure to restore the ability of the middle class to get ahead. And whether we can a political consensus in America to get it done
And what kind of campaign? An optimistic campaign. A campaign from the heart. A campaign consistent with his values, our values, and the values of the American people. And I think it’s fair to say, knowing him as we all do, that it won’t be a scripted affair– after all, it’s Joe.
He believes we must win this election. Everything he and the President have worked for — and care about — is at stake.
I know in the daily ups and down of the political swirl, we all get bombarded with the tactics. So sometimes it’s good to take a step back and get real again. Let’s stay in touch. If he decides to run, we will need each and every one of you — yesterday!
And so Biden’s dithering dominated yesterday’s news cycle.
Vice President Joe Biden is expected to announce in the coming days whether he will enter the presidential race and, at this point, signs point to him running for the Democratic nomination, people familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Biden has been making a final round of phone calls to political allies this week, locking down their support and talking through his prospects in key states, people with knowledge of the calls said. He has been focusing on Democratic operatives and officials in states holding early contests—Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina—asking about “the way forward,” one person said.
The vice president has been wrestling with the question for months, weighing whether he and his family are emotionally ready for the rigors of the campaign so soon after the death of Mr. Biden’s son Beau. The Biden family, which has long played a central role in his campaigns, has signed off on what would be his third White House bid, people familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Biden could still pull back, however, if he concludes he is too shaken by his son’s death to mount a campaign. Another consideration for Mr. Biden: the fortunes of front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Does anyone really believe that Biden is still “wrestling” with his “emotions” over his son Beau’s death at this point? Frankly, Biden’s behavior is beginning to look like unseemly exploitation of his family’s grief.
I like Gawker’s interpretation of the email best. Breaking News: Joe Biden Still Available, If You’re Interested, by Chris Thompson.
Joe Biden has sent you an email. But, because he’s an addled old man and a politician, he did it in the stupidest possible way.
First, he had this other guy, Ted Kaufman, write it, and instructed Kaufman to talk about him in the third person. Then, instead of sending it directly to you, he had Kaufman send it to a circle of other people, while specifically leaving the intended target of the email (you) off the list. And then, to make extra sure you got it, via this ridiculous, circuitous route, he had Kaufman give the email to another group, the Associated Press, also not on the list, but who he could trust to get it, finally, to you.
So that’s how the Associate Press wound up with this email—ostensibly from Ted Kaufman, seemingly intended for a small circle of people for whom it will have no value—which they are now tasked with presenting to you, the intended recipient of the email, in as breathless a fashion as possible.
But not by email! Instead, by posting the details of the email—but not the email itself! still not the email—in a published story that would be picked up and circulated among other publications, so that you would eventually see it and read it. “APNewsBreak: Top Biden aide lays out potential 2016 platform,” wink wink.
And he did all this with the bizarre intention that you, the intended recipient of the email, would think that the information in the email was not intended for you.
Read the rest at Gawker.
In reaction to yesterday’s Biden push, Howard Fineman wrote at Huffington Post: We’re Watching The Long Whatever Of Joe Biden.
At least one thing has been decided: Joe Biden has retired the trophy for candidate indecision.
A weary Washington has been driven batty by the vice president’s “I’m in, I’m out, I’m in again” agonizing about whether to enter the 2016 presidential contest. He has given us either the longest goodbye since Bogart in “Casablanca” or the longest hello since Castro in Havana.
People were bound to lose patience, even before the boffo performances by both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Tuesday night’s debate, not to mention Martin O’Malley’s debut as a BuzzFeed-certified hunk.
It’s finally dawned on Biden World that they’ve run out of time. A statement is expected any minute, hour or day now….
Biden’s former chief of staff and longtime Sancho Panza, ex-Sen. Ted Kaufman, sent Biden’s friends and allies a letter to calm them as the dramatic moment approached. He assured the troops that, if the vice president indeed were to run, he would do so in the name of the middle class — as well as in memory of his son Beau, who died of cancer in May.
But the decision slog has focused mostly on Joe Biden himself. No talk of an actual agenda. No hint of his assessment of the candidates already in the race. No talk of what the Democrats really need in order to secure a third-straight term in the White House. Instead, we’ve been shown a saga of grief and inspiration, with Biden offering soulful public updates on the condition of his political heart.
Other writers have pointed out some of the practical drawbacks of a Biden run.
James Oliphant at Reuters: Obama’s foreign policy could burden Biden if he runs in 2016.
Leigh Ann Caldwell at NBC News: Joe Biden Bid for White House Would Begin in a $60-Million Hole.
But Nick Gillespie gets to the real nitty-gritty at The Daily Beast: Joe Biden, Narc in Chief. In a country that badly needs a future, Biden is stuck in the past.
Americans may not get along all that well these days, but on this much we should find common cause: Biden would be a terrible president.
Weird Uncle Joe isn’t just a decades-long punchline and perpetual-gaffe machine—his political ideas are even older than his advanced years (he’s 72). Whether it’s plumping for unsustainable old-age entitlements or leading the charge on the drug war, Biden represents the past, not the future.
Gillespie claims Biden is still viable because of supposed shortcomings of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders,
…even though his odd behavior and logorrhea are legendary. Last year, The Daily Show went to town on “creepy” Joe’s semi-chokehold on Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s wife during a swearing-in ceremony; the veep pulled the same trick on various pre-pubescent daughters of random senators too. Fully half of the internet is taken up with lists of Biden gaffes, which range from the bizarre (“You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent”) to the more-bizarre (Obama, he averred, is “articulate and bright and clean and a good-looking guy…that’s a storybook, man”) to the please-god-make-it-stop (“I’d rather be at home making love to my wife while my children are asleep”).
Beyond the eww factor, his loose talk about “Shylocks,” “Orientals,” and disgraced sexual harasser and former Senator Bob Packwood during a commemoration of the passage of The Violence Against Women Act is difficult to simply laugh off. As is his truly disturbing record of plagiarism and lying.
During his failed presidential campaign in 1988, Biden had to cop not only to getting an F during his law school days for cheating but to having ripped off speeches by John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Hubert Humphrey. Even more amazingly, Biden cribbed biographical details from British Labour politician Neil Kinnock, including lines about ancestors who “would come up [from coal mines] after 12 hours and play football.” What kind of politician plagiarizes not simply other people’s word but other people’s lives? That’s not a storybook, man, that’s a nutjob.
There’s more disturbing stuff at the link.
I’ve included photos of some of Creepy Uncle Joe’s cringe-inducing public behavior toward women, girls, men, and boys in this post. Here’s a must-read 2012 article about touchy-feely Joe from The New York Times: What are we going to do about Creepy Uncle Joe Biden? by Alexandra Petrie. It’s satire, but very on-point, IMO.
Finally, if Joe decides to run, Anita Hill is going to be an issue, as Edward Isaac Dovere wrote at Politico in September: Joe Biden’s Anita Hill problem.
If Joe Biden gets into the presidential race, allies and supporters of Hillary Clinton say there are just two words that will make a difference as he seeks support among women and African-Americans: Anita Hill.
Nearly 24 years have passed since the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in which Hill, a respected law professor, was grilled under oath about alleged inappropriate sexual behavior by Thomas, her former boss. The graphic testimony gripped Washington and the country and spurred intense public conversations about sex, harassment and the nominee’s charge of being subjected to a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.”
Biden’s done a lot over the past 24 years, including authoring the landmark Violence Against Women Act and leading its four reauthorizations. But that hasn’t erased the memories of how Biden presided over those hearings as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blamed for doing little to stop the attacks on Hill and opting not to call three other witnesses who would have echoed Hill’s charges of sexual harassment. Biden almost apologetically gave Thomas the benefit of the doubt, critics say, and that stance helped put Thomas on the Supreme Court.
Ever since, for many women and blacks, Hill’s name conjures an image of a black woman struggling under attack by a dozen powerful white men asking aggressive questions and questioning her character.
I’ve been so busy helping my Mom for the past few days that I haven’t been able to keep up with the news as much as I usually do. Fortunately Mom is doing well, and I plan to get back home before Halloween. I did have jury duty scheduled on October 20, but I was able to postpone it until next May. I want to avoid having it fall during a snowstorm or when the roads are really bad. I really hope the coming winter won’t be as bad in Boston as it was last year, but you never know.
Look at what’s going on down in South Carolina. The Washington Post has a helpful explanatory article on it: The meteorology behind South Carolina’s catastrophic, 1,000-year rainfall event.
The rains are tapering off in South Carolina after a disastrous weekend that brought over two feet of rain and catastrophic flooding. Dams have been breached, rivers are at record flood stage, homes and cars are filled with water and multiple people have been reported dead in the disaster.
Authorities in South Carolina on Monday urged people to stay home if it was safe to do so, saying that flooding was expected to continue in more than half the state for several days. On Sunday, authorities responded to hundreds of reports of trees in roadways and hundreds of reports of flooded roads. Tens of thousands of sandbags were used by state and local agencies, while a stretch of Interstate 95 was shut down and traffic rerouted. Overnight, several cities and counties declared curfews, while others have declared states of emergency….
According to statistics compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, South Carolina’s torrential weekend rain has well surpassed a 1,000-year rainfall event — one that, on average, we would expect to see about every 1,000 years. A three-day, 1,000-year rainfall event for Charleston County would have been 17.1 inches. A four-day, 1,000-year event would have been 17.5 inches. Boones Farm Plantation, just north of Mount Pleasant, in Charleston County, reported more than 24 inches of rain through Sunday morning, which essentially blows NOAA’s 1,000-year events scale out of the water.
So this must have been caused by Hurricane Joaquin, right?
Hurricane Joaquin did play an indirect role in South Carolina’s weekend deluge, but there’s much more to this meteorological story.
As Hurricane Joaquin tracked north, well east of the coast, a separate, non-tropical low pressure system was setting up shop over the Southeast late last week. This system drew in a deep, tropical plume of water vapor off the tropical Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, this upper-level low pressure system tapped into the moist outflow of Hurricane Joaquin.
The moisture pipeline fed directly into a pocket of intense uplift on the northern side of the non-tropical vortex. Within this dynamic “sweet spot,” thunderstorms established a training pattern, passing repeatedly over the same location and creating a narrow corridor of torrential rain stretching from Charleston to the southern Appalachians.
The remarkable thing about this process is that it was sustained for three days.
Read much more at the link. Gee, you don’t suppose this has anything to do with global climate change, do you? Naaaaah.
The U.S. military and the Obama administration are having a hard time explaining why they bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan over the weekend. The Washington Post reports:
A heavily-armed U.S. gunship designed to provide added firepower to special operations forces was responsible for shooting and killing 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan over the weekend, Pentagon officials said Monday.
The attack occurred in the middle of the night Saturday, when Afghan troops—together with a U.S. special forces team training and advising them—were on the ground near the hospital in Kunduz, the first major Afghan city to fall to the Taliban since the war began in 2001. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said Monday the airstrike was requested by Afghan troops who had come under fire, contradicting earlier statements from Pentagon officials that the strike was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.
The new details of the attack, and the continuing dispute over what exactly happened, heightened the controversy over the strike. In the two days since the incident, U.S. officials have struggled to explain how a U.S. aircraft wound up attacking a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. On Monday, the medical humanitarian group said the United States was squarely responsible.
“The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs,” Doctors Without Borders’ general director Christopher Stokes said in a statement. “With such constant discrepancies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”
The weekend’s disastrous airstrike reinforces doubts about how effectively a limited U.S. force in Afghanistan can work with Afghan troops to repel the Taliban, which has been newly emboldened as the United States draws down its presence.
The strike also comes as the Obama administration is currently weighing whether to keep as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2015, according to senior officials. Obama has not made a final decision on the proposal, but the recent advances by the Taliban have certainly complicated the president’s calculus.
The truth is that US forces have killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East, but most of them didn’t have the cachet and the ability to engage the media that Doctors Without Borders does. Unfortunately, the administration’s explanations for the strike on the hospital have been all over the place. Also well worth reading is Amy Davidson’s column at The New Yorker: Five Questions About the Bombing of a Hospital in Kunduz.
Dakinikat had a great post on guns and gun control yesterday. I didn’t have time to read it carefully until this morning, so naturally gun stories caught my eye when I started to look at today’s news. There’s never any shortage of tragic stories involving guns. The worst ones are incidents in which children kill children.
An 11-year-old Tennessee boy was charged with shooting an 8-year-old girl to death with a 12-gauge shotgun after an argument over puppies Saturday, NBC affiliate WBIR reported.
A neighbor told the station that the girl, MaKayla Dyer, had been playing with neighbors on Saturday night in White Pine, outside Knoxville.
She started talking with the boy, who has not been identified, through an open window at his home.
“He asked the little girl to see her puppies,” the neighbor, Chasity Atwood, told WBID. “She said no and laughed and then turned around, looked at her friend and said, ‘Let’s go get the — ‘ and never got ‘puppies’ out.”
The boy had already shot her in the chest.
Dyer was transported to Morristown-Hamblen Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The boy is being held in juvenile court on charges of first-degree murder.
This kid had access to a loaded shotgun in his home? What the hell is wrong with his parents?
In Ohio, an 11-year-old South Carolina boy accidentally shot and killed his 12-year old brother. CantonRep.com reports:
A 12-year-old South Carolina boy was fatally shot Friday in what authorities say was an accident during a target-shooting outing.
The victim was identified as Joseph Baily of More, South Carolina. The shooting occurred in the 8400 block of Bay Road in Carroll County’s Lee Township, southeast of Carrollton.
“It was an accident,” county Sheriff Dale Williams said Monday. “It (shooter) was a juvenile. It was a brother. His brother was 11 years old.” ….
“They were actually target shooting,” Carroll County Coroner Mandal Haas said. “They were visiting a friend they knew here in Ohio. This was real ammunition. It was a head wound.”
The weapon was a handgun.
“The 11-year-old picked up a weapon off of a picnic table,” Sheriff Williams said. “He accidentally shot it.”
While the shooting was accidental, Carroll County authorities, however, could file criminal charges. Those charges could be filed against who ever failed to secure the weapon.
Too little, too late. And check this one out from Georgia. CBS46.com Atlanta: Road rage suspect points gun at car, police let him go free.
A motorcycle driver who was caught on camera pulling out a gun and pointing it at another driver Sunday was allowed to go free, and a witness wants to know why.
It happened on State Highway 54 in Coweta County near the Fayette County line. To the man who captured the incident on his private dashboard camera, it looked like an incident of road rage, plain and simple.
The witness who recorded the video is a former Georgia police officer. CBS46 News is protecting his identity because of the nature of his current work. He said it’s his opinion that the motorcycle driver put everyone near him in danger. If the rider felt threatened, it appeared he had the power to get away from the situation, the witness said.
“Drawing a firearm, in just about every case, should be an absolute last resort. It seems like it was this guy’s first resort,” said the witness.
The witness followed the motorcycle while on the phone with 911 and helped police catch up with him. The rider was put in handcuffs, but in a surprise move, Coweta County Sheriff’s deputies decided to let him go.
“This guy is college-age. We know what just happened in Oregon. How do you not take a firearm out of the hand of a guy who’s going to behave this way- who’s going to act this reckless?” asked the witness.
So what was their reason for not arresting him? The witness said deputies told him they didn’t think the people in the black car would be in town to testify at the first appearance in court. It’s an excuse the former police officer said he’s not buying.
Nice. The guy who got off scot-free could be the next mass murderer.
But what about when gun victims are shot by the police? Ordinarily, I don’t agree with Connor Friedersdorf, but he has a great piece in The Atlantic: Police in California Killed More Than 610 People Over 6 Years.
The ACLU of Southern California has been working to understand how many people have been killed by law enforcement in America’s most populous state. What they found is alarming. Over a six-year period that ended in 2014, California’s Department of Justice recorded 610 instances of law enforcement committing homicide “in the process of arrest.”
That figure is far from perfect. It excludes some homicides in 2014 that are still being investigated. And it understates the actual number of people killed by police officers and sheriffs deputies in other ways. For example, after Dante Parker was mistaken for a criminal, stunned with a Taser at least 25 times, hog-tied face down, and denied medical care, California authorities classified his death as “accidental.”
Still, the official number is 610 homicides attributed to law enforcement “in the process of arrest.”
Officially, 608 are classified as justified. Just two are officially considered unjustified. In one unjustified killing, there’s video of a policeman shooting Oscar Grant in the head as he lay face down in a BART station. In the other, there is extended video of police brutally beating a mentally ill man, Kelly Thomas, to death.
Officially speaking, only police officers who were being filmed killed people in unjustified ways. Whether law enforcement performs less professionally when cameras are rolling is unclear. But it seems more likely that the spread of digital-recording technology will reveal that unjust killings are more common than was previously thought.
Read the rest of this important article at the link.
I’ll end with a couple of political stories. Politico has an exclusive on Joe Biden this morning: Biden himself leaked word of his son’s dying wish.
Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about his late son since August.
Aug. 1, to be exact — the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation.
According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because “the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”
It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.
But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.
What an a-hole.
By every account of those surrounding Biden, Beau is constantly on his father’s mind. But so are Clinton’s poll numbers — and his own, as the vice president notes in private details, such as the crosstab data that show him drawing more support from Clinton than Bernie Sanders. So is the prospect of what it would mean to run against a candidate who would make history as the first female nominee, and potentially first female president. So is knowing that the filing deadlines are quickly closing in and that he almost certainly has to decide in roughly the next week to make even a seat-of-the-pants campaign possible.
“Calculation sort of sounds crass, but I guess that’s what it is,” said one person who’s recently spoken to Biden about the prospect of running. “The head is further down the road than the heart is.”
Ugh. There’s plenty more disgusting stuff at Politco, including some tidbits about Biden’s “secret” meeting with Elizabeth Warren.
Finally, the king of a-holes continues to act unpresidential. From Business Insider:
Real-estate developer Donald Trump took his feud with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) to a rather unique place this week, sending a gag gift to Rubio’s presidential campaign office.
According to CNN, Trump’s campaign sent Rubio a “a care package” on Monday containing a 24-pack case of “Trump Ice” bottled water, two “Make America Great Again” towels, and a note that said: “Since you’re always sweating, we thought you could use some water. Enjoy!”
As much as I can’t stand Rubio, Trump is the worst of the worst.
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!