Tuesday Reads

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton welcomes Vice President Joe Biden as he disembarks from Air Force Two for a joint campaign event in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Good Afternoon!!

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.

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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.

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the final session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland

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.

Tharid Udin and Imam Maulama Akonjee

Tharid Udin and Imam Maulama Akonjee

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:

People running out of Crabtree Mall in NC to escape shooting that never happened.

People running out of Crabtree Mall in NC to escape shooting that never happened.

ABC News: Reports of Gunshots in Bustling Mall: Chaos, People Running.

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.

Passengers huddled near the ground at immigration control while police looked for a possible shooter at JFK airport. It turned out to be a false alarm. PHOTO: BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Passengers huddled near the ground at immigration control while police looked for a possible shooter at JFK airport. It turned out to be a false alarm. PHOTO: BRIGITTE DUSSEAU/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

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!


Friday Reads: It Has Been A Historic Week

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Good Morning!!

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.”

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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.

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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!


Biden Announces He’s Not Running for POTUS

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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.

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: It’s All About Me Me Me! –Joe Biden

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Good Morning!!

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.

Dear friend,

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!

Ted

And so Biden’s dithering dominated yesterday’s news cycle.

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Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s take on the Biden non-decision:

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.

B-D-j2MCcAAdTA8I 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.

Biden1In 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.

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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.

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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.

Joe_Biden_Is_That_Creepy_Uncle_You_Avoided_at_Family_Reunions_as_a_Kid__195073I’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.

Dovere also notes that Biden would have to trash the first viable woman candidate for president in order to win.
For months now, I’ve thought that Biden would never do it, but over the past few days it’s sounding more and more as if he will get into the race. I think it would end badly for him, but it could also hurt the Democrats’ chances in the general election. I just hope someone can get it through his head that it’s just too late. I really think he’s being incredibly selfish.
Bidencreep2
Biden-Gaffe5
Creppy-Uncle-Joe
What stories are you following today? This is an open thread.

Tuesday Reads

Canoe, Eric Vanasse

Canoe, Eric Vanasse

Good Morning!!

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.

Apocalypse Wave, Paul Cumes

Apocalypse Wave, Paul Cumes

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.

Doctors Without Borders hospital before the bombing

Doctors Without Borders hospital before the bombing

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.

Kunduz Hospital after the bombing.

Kunduz Hospital after the bombing.

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.

From NBC News: Tennessee Boy, 11, Charged With Killing Girl After Argument Over Puppies.

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.

gun violence

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.

Looking down the barrel of a gun, Adam Mysock

Looking down the barrel of a gun, Adam Mysock

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.

Stop Child Killing painting

Stop Child Killing painting

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-COA

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.

Donald Trump

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!


Monday Reads: Party Nomination Races Beginning to Heat Up

Worlds Full of Lemons by Vitaly-Urzhumov

Worlds Full of Lemons by Vitaly-Urzhumov

Good Morning!!

Following last week’s marathon “debate,” Republican presidential candidates have continued to spread hate everywhere they go.

Current front runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson are pushing hatred of Muslims, along with insinuations that we already have one in the White House.

Bloomberg Politics: Donald Trump on Muslims: ‘Are You Trying to Say We Don’t Have a Problem?’

Trump, the front runner for the 2016 Republican nomination, was asked on CNN’s State of the Union about his campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday. At the event, an audience member said President Barack Obama was a Muslim, that the U.S. has a problem with Muslims, and asked “when can we get rid of them?” At Thursday’s event and again on CNN, Trump did not criticize or correct the question.

“We could be politically correct if you want,” Trump said. “Are you trying to say we don’t have a problem?” ….

“We have radicals that are doing things,” he said. “It wasn’t people from Sweden that blew up the World Trade Center.”

Trump2

On This Week, continued his anti-Muslim ranting. Bloomberg reports:

On ABC’s “This Week” broadcast, Trump again referred to “a worldwide problem” with Muslims, according to a transcript provided by the network.

“You look around the world, it is a problem,” Trump said.  “You know, the terrorism and everything else, it seems to be pretty much confined there.”

Trump also declined several times during the ABC interview to say that he believed Obama was born in the U.S.

Lovely. I guess Trump hasn’t noticed all the domestic terrorists here in the U.S. Dylann Roof, for example is no Muslim.

From the transcript of This Week, Jonathan Karl reports on a Trump appearance in Iowa at a high school homecoming.

KARL (voice-over): Trump didn’t challenge his supporter’s false claim about the president’s background….

KARL (voice-over): But Trump has no apologies. He recited his Twitter account for an Iowa crowd on Saturday.

TRUMP: So I started by saying, “Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don’t think so.”

Right?

KARL (voice-over): So is Donald Trump playing with fire? Or simply playing to his base?

A recent poll shows more than half of Trump’s supporters believe President Obama is Muslim and 28 percent of Republicans think the president wasn’t born in the U.S. Even Trump has admitted his conspiracy theories over the president’s birth are part of his appeal, as he told me two years ago.

KARL: You don’t acknowledge that you went overboard on this whole birther stuff?

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Actually, I think it made me very popular, if you want to know the truth, OK? So I do think I know what I’m doing.

Yes, Trump is spreading hate, and he knows exactly what he’s doing.

Carson

And then there’s Ben Carson. The Guardian: Ben Carson says no Muslim should ever become US president.

The Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has said no Muslim should be president of the United States of America.

In an interview with NBC for broadcast on Sunday morning, the retired neurosurgeon said: “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Carson’s discussion with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd centered around controversy that arose this week when Donald Trump – the real-estate mogul keeping Carson in second place in the pollsfailed to correct an audience member at a New Hampshire campaign rally who said President Obama was a Muslim.

The audience member also appeared to advocate the forcible removal of Muslims from the US….

In his NBC interview, Carson was asked: “So do you believe that Islam is consistent with the constitution?”

“No,” he said, “I don’t, I do not.”

Article VI of the US constitution states: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

The first amendment to the constitution begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

What does Carson think about Muslims as Congresspeople?

Carson was also asked if he would consider voting for a Muslim candidate for Congress.

He said: “Congress is a different story, but it depends on who that Muslim is and what they’re policies are, just as it depends on what anybody else says, you know.”

Two members of Congress, both Democrats, are Muslim: Keith Ellison of Minnesota was elected to the House of Representatives in 2007 and André Carson of Indiana followed in 2008.

Fortunately, neither of these freaks is likely to be president or even see the inside of the White House anytime soon.

Walker

Fading presidential candidate Scott Walker’s hatred is focused on labor unions. From The American Prospect: A Desperate Scott Walker Brings Anti-Labor Crusade to National Stage.

Earlier this week, Republican presidential contender Scott Walker detailed how he would bring his anti-labor crusade to the federal level, unveiling an expansive plan that would eliminate the National Labor Relations Board, ban federal public sector unions, and make the United States a right-to-work country, among a host of other anti-worker policies he said would give “power to the people, not the union bosses.” ….

As recently as July, Walker was leading the polls in Iowa. He’s since plummeted to the bottom of the Iowa field with just 3 percent support. Worse yet, as he admitted after yesterday’s debate, his entire campaign is premised on winning the Iowa caucuses, which kick-off the contest for delegates. “I think we’re putting all our eggs in the basket of Iowa, we’re committed to Iowa, and I think that’ll help us make the case all throughout the country,” Walker told MSNBC .

With Walker following a similar downward spiral as the announcement of his anti-labor plan appears to be an attempt at to lock-down uneasy big-money donors who stand to benefit from gutting worker rights. Walker needs to ensure that he will remain funded well into the primary season.

“The way the system is now set up, to stay alive, you have to really convince your relatively few big donors to stay in the game,” says Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center. “[His plan] seems to be aimed at the donors, not the public.”

Hillary1

Hillary Clinton appeared on Face The Nation yesterday. Here’s the transcript of the interview. And here are the headlines in the corporate media.

Buzzfeed News: Hillary Clinton Calls For The U.S. To Take In 65,000 Syrian Refugees.

Hillary Clinton said Sunday the U.S. should commit to taking in 65,000 Syrian refugees next financial year, a significantly higher number than the 10,000 the Obama administration has announced it will accept.

“We’re facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and I think the United States has to do more, and I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000 to 65,000, to begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in,” Clinton told Face the Nation moderator John Dickerson on Sunday….

Clinton said on Sunday that the U.S. should prioritize taking in the most vulnerable — including, she says, Christians and Yazidi women — before repeating her call for a global meeting to address the issue.

“I also want the United States to lead the world, and I’ve recommended at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly there be an international meeting called by the secretary general and literally get people to commit [to] putting money in, helping the frontline states like Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon who’ve absorbed a lot refugees, working with the EU and the European countries, but getting everybody to make a contribution,” Clinton said.

Hillary3

Real Clear Politics: Hillary Clinton: “I Cannot Imagine Anyone Being More Of An Outsider Than The First Woman President.”

In an interview with John Dickerson, moderator of CBS’s Face the Nation, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she can claim outsider status since she could possibly be the first female president.

“In politics this year, it looks like everything wants an outsider,” Dickerson said. “Now that puts you in a fix.”

“Tell us why this doesn’t put you in a fix,” Dickerson said to laughter from Clinton.

“I cannot imagine anyone being more of an outsider than the first woman president,” Clinton stated. “I mean, really, let’s think about that.”

CBS News: “I am a real person,” Hillary Clinton says.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was stumped Sunday when “Face the Nation” moderator John Dickerson asked her to name three words that describe “the real Hillary Clinton.”

“Just three? I can’t possibly do that!” Clinton said, throwing hear head back with laughter. “I mean, look, I am a real person with all the pluses and minuses that go along with being that. And I’ve been in the public eye for so long that I think, you know, it’s like the feature that you see in some magazines sometimes, ‘Real people actually go shopping,’ you know?”

Hillary2

On Dickerson’s question about voters wanting an outsider as president:

“I know you’re asking, ‘Do we want people who have never been elected to anything, who have no political experience, who have never made any hard choices in the public area?'” she told moderator John Dickerson. “Well, voters are going to have to decide that.”

She also addressed criticism that she is too deep inside the political system to help reorient the economy back toward the middle class.

“I have an economic policy that is centered on raising incomes, because I think what we inherited from the Bush administration, what President Obama had to deal with, had the potential of becoming a ‘Great Depression,’ not just a ‘Great Recession,'” Clinton said. “We have now recovered 13 million jobs after losing 800,000 a month when he came into office. So why would we go back to the same policies? Call them insider, call them tilted toward the rich, call them giving corporations a free pass to do whatever they want. I’m against that, I’ve always been against that.”

She added, “So you know, I’m not running for Bill’s third term, I’m not running for President Obama’s third term, but it would be foolish of me not to say, ‘You know, that worked better than what the Republicans offer.'”

Biden

Channel 10 News Tampa Bay: Hillary Clinton: I’m not preparing for Joe Biden.

Hillary Clinton said she and her team are not taking steps to prepare for a possible late entry into the Democratic presidential primary by Vice President Joe Biden.

“This is such a personal decision and the vice president has to sort this out,” Clinton said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “He’s been so open in talking about how difficult this time is for him and his family and he’s obviously considering what he wants to do including whether he wants to run.”

“I just have the greatest respect and affection for him and I think everybody just ought to give him the space to decide what’s best for his family,” she added.

Biden met with political advisers Monday at his residence in Washington, D.C. as part of his ongoing conversation with family, friends and staff over whether to jump into the 2016 presidential race.

Over the last few days, some Democratic donors have also calls for the vice president to mount a challenge to Clinton.

According to Chuck Todd and friends, Biden’s wife has given him her blessing to joint the presidential race.

Contrary to reports suggesting Vice President Joe Biden’s wife remains an obstacle to his potential presidential run, sources tell NBC News that Jill Biden is fully behind him for another bid.

Jill Biden, sources tell NBC’s Chuck Todd, is 100 percent on-board with a presidential run, despite reports indicating her hesitation is part of what’s keeping Biden from jumping into the race.

And that looks more likely by the day, as sources have indicated Biden’s been meeting with Democratic leaders during his travels around the nation over the past week to tell them he wants to do it and thinks there’s room for him to make a credible bid if he does.

The key question that’s still weighing on his mind as he decides whether to make another go of it: Does he have the emotional energy to give it his all, sources say.

Whatever. I still don’t think he’ll do it. Apparently he thinks he needs to make up his mind by October 1, so we won’t have to listen to the speculation much longer.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

 


Thursday Reads: All The News I Can Stomach (With Pretty Pictures)

cucuel-edward-2

Good Morning (Barely)!!

I wish I could spend this morning looking at paintings on the internet and then take a long nap. I don’t want to know anymore about workplace shootings, theater shootings, “domestic abuse” killings, rapes, hate crimes, and clown car politicians who stoke the rage of crazy people. This country, this world cannot be as crazy as it seems, can it? Here’s some of crazy stuff I’ve been reading. The peaceful paintings are to distract us from the insanity of today’s current events.

On the latest nutcase shooting:

The Guardian: Vester Flanagan told by Virginia TV station to seek medical help, say memos.

Vester Flanagan, the gunman who killed two journalists in Virginia, was told by his bosses to seek medical help after colleagues at the television station where he worked with his victims repeatedly complained about him, according to memos obtained by the Guardian.

Several flare-ups were detailed in internal messages from Dan Dennison, then the news director of WDBJ7, that were sent to Flanagan and copied to senior colleagues. Flanagan on Wednesday morning shot deadreporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward.

Flanagan, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound later on Wednesday, was reprimanded for “lashing out” at a colleague and for his “harsh language” and “aggressive body language” while working as a reporter.

He was told to contact employee assistance professionals at the company Health Advocate. “This is a mandatory referral requiring your compliance,” Dennison told Flanagan on 30 July 2012. “Failure to comply will result in termination of employment.”

On Christmas Eve that year, Dennison emailed colleagues to say he had just warned Flanagan that he had one final chance to save his job. “I’m not entirely sure where his head is at,” said Dennison. Flanagan was fired three months later.

A favorite author by Poul Friis Nybo

A favorite author by Poul Friis Nybo

Flanigan apparently spent months preparing to go out with a bang with everything recorded on social media before he committed suicide. More links:

New York Times: Virginia Shooting Gone Viral, in a Well-Planned Rollout on Social Media.

The Guardian: Virginia shooting: how Vester Flanagan forced the world to be his audience.

The Daily Beast: TV Station Called 911 When They Fired Vester Flanagan.

The Daily Mail: ‘He was the human tape recorder’: How TV murderer was criticized by bosses for appalling journalistic standards and reprimanded for wearing an Obama badge to report on elections.

Fox News: Inside Vester Lee Flanagan’s life.

We old folks remember how shocked we were when Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV. Little did we know that a half century later such horrifying events would become almost ordinary–shocking at first but swiftly and easily absorbed into the flow of daily violence reported by the news media.

The latest from the crazy-ass Duggar family:

Daisy by the river, T.C. Steele

Daisy by the river, T.C. Steele

In Touch Weekly: “JOSH DUGGAR CHEATED WITH ME!”: WOMAN TELLS ALL ABOUT THEIR TWO SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS.

In a bombshell world-exclusive interview with In Touch magazine, stripper and porn star Danica Dillon, 28, reveals she had sex not once, but on two separate occasions, with Josh Duggar, both occurring when his wife, Anna, was pregnant with their fourth child!

Danica — who passed a polygraph test conducted for In Touch by a top certified polygrapher on Aug. 24 — details her two sexual encounters with Josh in the new issue of +In Touch+, on newsstands now. The first occurred after Josh approached her at the Gold Club in Philadelphia, where she was performing, in mid-March and the second only a month later when Danica was performing at Creekside Cabaret in Colmar, Pa.

Josh paid Dillon for “$600 in private dances,” and then asked her to spend the night with him. She agreed to do it for $1,500, but she soon learned that Josh was into violent sex.

Danica admits she “took the opportunity because Josh offered to gift [her] $1,500.” But soon after Josh arrived at her hotel m, things got rough.

“He was manhandling me, basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll,” Danica, whose real name is Ashley Lewis, and although the sex was consensual, “It was very traumatic. I’ve had rough sex before, but this was terrifying.”

Ugh. A few more Duggar links:

An old woman reading by Harry Clifford Pilbury

An old woman reading by Harry Clifford Pilbury

AP via ydr.com: Josh Duggar in rehab after admitting to pornography habit.

Amanda Marcotte at Slate: Josh Duggar’s Brother-in-Law Speaks Out Against Him.

People: All About Josh Duggar’s Wife Anna: Her Parents Are Even ‘More Extreme’ Than the Duggars, Says Source.

Zach J. Hoag at Huffington Post: Divorcing Josh Duggar’s Monster God.

I don’t believe for one minute that Josh Duggar got so warped without some serious abuse in early childhood. Mark my words, it will come out eventually.

The latest on creepy old Uncle Joe:

New York Times: Tom Harkin Cautions Joe Biden Against Running for President.

Former Senator Tom Harkin, a fixture in Iowa Democratic politics for over four decades, discouraged Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday from entering the presidential race, suggesting that Hillary Rodham Clinton, if elected, could name him to a top diplomatic post instead.

Mr. Harkin, who served with Mr. Biden in the Senate for nearly 25 years and is now supporting Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, said the vice president should not risk ending his career with what would be a third bid for the presidency.

“He has served the country so well and been a good friend of mine — I love Joe,” Mr. Harkin said in a phone interview. “I just don’t think this would be a wise move.”

Without prompting, Mr. Harkin added that there were “other ways Joe can serve the country.”

“With Hillary as president, I can see him being secretary of state or ambassador to the United Nations,” he said. “There are a lot of things he can do down the road that would be of valuable service to the country or the world.”

Good advice. It sounds like Biden is having second thoughts anyway.

Someone is waiting, David Hettinger

Someone is waiting, David Hettinger

MSNBC: Joe Biden weighs whether he has ‘emotional fuel’ to run.

ABC News: ‘Time is Running Out’ for Joe Biden 2016 Candidacy, State Party Chairs Say.

CBS News: Does Joe Biden have what it takes to compete in New Hampshire?

Christian Science Monitor: Poll: Joe Biden runs better than Hillary Clinton against Republicans.

Well, the grass is always greener . . . those poll numbers would collapse very quickly if Biden actually got into the race.

The latest on the elephant in the clown car:

Joe Conason at The National Memo: ‘Fascist’ Trump Isn’t First Demagogue Laughed Off As A Buffoon.

Although he is still a clown, nobody laughs at Donald Trump anymore — which may be the real purpose of his candidacy, at least as far as he is concerned. The casino mogul is pleased to instill fear among Republican elites, as he dominates their presidential nominating contest — and forces them to face a hard question about the man who is exciting such belligerent enthusiasm among Republican voters:

Is Trump a real live fire-breathing fascist?

From Newsweek to Salon to the Daily Caller, commentators of various colorations have found ample reason to apply that often-discredited label to him. While these observers hesitate to lump Trump in with totalitarian dictatorships and historic crimes against humanity, they are clearly worried by his strongman appeal, his populist rhetoric, and his rejection of GOP free-market orthodoxy. Matt Lewis complains that Trump is reviving Nietzschean notions that inspired fascist ideology; Jeffrey Tucker warns that Trump is hostile to individual freedom and sees himself as the embodiment of the state, like fascist leaders before him.

Such worried conservatives aren’t wrong, but they seem unwilling or unable to grasp the clearest evidence that Trump is channeling toxic currents from the past—namely, his appeals to racial bigotry, his xenophobic and truculent attitude toward other nations, and his extremist “solution” to the problem of illegal immigration. Others have observed that the Republicans have only themselves to blame for encouraging the crude prejudices that Trump now calls forth in his “un-P.C.” way, as Maureen Dowd so cutely phrased it.

Woman reading, Pablo Picasso

Woman reading, Pablo Picasso

Read the rest at the link. I have to admit that Trump is starting to scare me. More links:

Nate Silver: Donald Trump Is Running A Perpetual Attention Machine.

Jennifer L. Pozner at Politico: Think Reality TV Is Sexist? Blame Donald Trump.

Amanda Marcotte at TPM Cafe: Why Fox News’ Defense Of Megyn Kelly Is Going To Backfire.

NY Daily News: Donald Trump ends feud with Megyn Kelly, says he has ‘much bigger things to think about.’

Greg Sargent: Megyn Kelly nails it on why Donald Trump matters.

Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Insults Rattle Republican Rivals, Please Fans.

Fortune: Why Donald Trump’s antics pose a serious long-term threat to the GOP.

That’s about all the news I can stomach for this morning. Am I just focusing on the negative or are things really this bad?

As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and enjoy your Thursday.