Tuesday ReadsPosted: March 22, 2022 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Ketanji Brown Jackson, Kid Rock, Lindsay Graham, Roger Stone, SCOTUS, Senate Confirmation hearings, Siege of Mariupol, Trump/MAGA hangover, Tucker Carlson, Ukraine war, Vladimir Putin 35 Comments
Putin’s genocidal war on Ukraine continues, and the horror of what he’s doing is almost unbearable to see or even think about. Here at home, we are in day two of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. And of course we continue to deal with the aftermath of Trump’s four-year attempt to bring down U.S. democracy.
Just one outstanding article and a relevant work of art; that’s all I can handle today.
The artwork is from the Maiden revolution of 2014, but people are posting it now in response to Putin’s current war on Ukraine. Read more about the artist at Artnet.
This story at the AP is beyond horrifying, but IMHO, it is absolutely essential reading: 20 Days in Mariupol: The team that documented the city’s agony, by Mstyslav Chernov. (Mstyslav Chernov is a video journalist for The Associated Press. This is his account of the siege of Mariupol, as documented with photographer Evgeniy Maloletka and told to correspondent Lori Hinnant.)
MARIUPOL, Ukraine (AP) — The Russians were hunting us down. They had a list of names, including ours, and they were closing in.
We were the only international journalists left in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, and we had been documenting its siege by Russian troops for more than two weeks. We were reporting inside the hospital when gunmen began stalking the corridors. Surgeons gave us white scrubs to wear as camouflage.
Suddenly at dawn, a dozen soldiers burst in: “Where are the journalists, for fuck’s sake?”
I looked at their armbands, blue for Ukraine, and tried to calculate the odds that they were Russians in disguise. I stepped forward to identify myself. “We’re here to get you out,” they said.
The walls of the surgery shook from artillery and machine gun fire outside, and it seemed safer to stay inside. But the Ukrainian soldiers were under orders to take us with them.
We ran into the street, abandoning the doctors who had sheltered us, the pregnant women who had been shelled and the people who slept in the hallways because they had nowhere else to go. I felt terrible leaving them all behind.
Nine minutes, maybe 10, an eternity through roads and bombed-out apartment buildings. As shells crashed nearby, we dropped to the ground. Time was measured from one shell to the next, our bodies tense and breath held. Shockwave after shockwave jolted my chest, and my hands went cold.
We reached an entryway, and armored cars whisked us to a darkened basement. Only then did we learn from a policeman why the Ukrainians had risked the lives of soldiers to extract us from the hospital.
“If they catch you, they will get you on camera and they will make you say that everything you filmed is a lie,” he said. “All your efforts and everything you have done in Mariupol will be in vain.”
The officer, who had once begged us to show the world his dying city, now pleaded with us to go. He nudged us toward the thousands of battered cars preparing to leave Mariupol.
This is the end of the story. These courageous journalists reached safety after their 20 days of documenting events in Mariupol while the city was cut off from the outside world and under constant attack by Putin’s army. I hope you will go read the rest of this brilliant article.
Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings
I was watching the hearings until Lindsay Graham began his questioning of Judge Jackson, and his angry presentation and inappropriate questions got to be too much for me. He spent much of his time whining about the treatment of conservative candidates for SCOTUS :and other courts. One example of his questions when he finally got to them.
At CNN, Clare Foran wrote about today’s hearing as of about 11AM: Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson faces intense questioning on second day of confirmation hearings.
Democrats have so far used the hearings to praise Brown — who would be the first Black woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice — as an exceptionally qualified, trail-blazing nominee whose depth and breadth of experience, including as a federal public defender, would add a valuable and unique perspective to the bench.
In contrast, Republicans have attempted to portray her as weak on crime by zeroing in on some of her past defense work as well as by broadly attempting to connect her to criminal justice policies they argue have fueled a rise in crime. Republicans have raised questions over what constitutes Jackson’s judicial philosophy as they warn against activism, and prescribing policy outcomes, from the bench. And they have also criticized support for the nomination from left-wing groups….
On Tuesday, senators may ask questions of the nominee for 30 minutes each, according to the schedule outlined by the committee. There are 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans on the panel and the questioning is likely to stretch late into the evening.
So we’ll all have plenty of time to watch how Jackson handles the Republican Senators. So far they haven’t laid a glove on her.
Jackson said on Tuesday that she approaches her work in such a way so as to ensure impartiality and does not impose personal opinions or policy preferences, an assertion that comes as Republican senators have expressed concerns over judicial activism.
“I have developed a methodology that I use in order to ensure that I am ruling impartially and that I am adhering to the limits on my judicial authority,” Jackson said.
“When I get a case, I ensure that I am proceeding from a position of neutrality,” she said.
“I am not importing my personal views or policy preferences,” she added….
As the Senate vets the nomination, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has raised concerns about Jackson’s record on sentencing in child pornography cases.
Jackson forcefully rebutted the accusations on Tuesday and referred to the issue as a “sickening and egregious crime.”
“As a mother, and a judge who has had to deal with these cases, I was thinking that nothing could be further from the truth,” the nominee said when asked Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, to react to the charges.
Read the rest at CNN. It’s a good summary.
The Trump/MAGA hangover
Tim Dickenson at Rolling Stone: Amid War Crimes in Ukraine, American Right Wingers Are Applauding Russia.
Vladimir Putin is ramping up his brutal assault on Ukraine, shelling civilians from Odessa to Kharkiv, and leveling the port city of Mariupol — leading President Joe Biden to denounce the Russian dictator as a “war criminal.” But if the initial days of the war were marked by some conservatives muting their admiration for the Russian state, a spate of notorious right-wing figures are now dropping the mask to defend Putin, and even claim his fight as their own.
Over the weekend, former Trump adviser Roger Stone, MAGA media maven Cassandra MacDonald (née Fairbanks), and former Staind rocker Aaron Lewis all spoke out to praise Putin, denounce Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky — or both….
In an interview aired on the far-right network Real America’s Voice, former Trump adviser Roger Stone defended Putin’s horrific war against Ukraine. “Putin is acting defensively,” Stone insisted against all evidence. “He’s not acting offensively. But you won’t read that in the mainstream media.” Stone rattled off a winning BINGO card’s worth of Kremlin-friendly talking points and conspiracies. He denounced Zelensky as undemocratic for having “shut down three television stations that were critical of the government.” (That decision rightfully inspires debate, but context here is also important. Stone failed to mention that those stations had broadcast Russian propaganda, and were run by mogul Viktor Medvedchuk, who is so tight with the Kremlin that Putin is literally his daughter’s godfather. Mevedchuk was hit with U.S. sanctions in 2014, described as Putin’s “long-time proxy and close personal friend.”) Stone then rehearsed the MAGA canard that concern over Ukrainian borders is misplaced as long as America’s are overrun by “millions of illegals … bringing disease.”
Stone kept twisting and twisting the facts until he snapped into Putin’s paranoid worldview — that Ukraine is a dangerous aggressor that must be stopped: “Ukraine is not even remotely [about] what they’re telling us it’s about,” Stone claimed. “The Ukrainians have used their soil to place dual-launch missile pads, missiles that will be aimed at the Soviet Union [sic].” Stone closed out his pro-Putin rant by citing the latest right-wing conspiracy theory about U.S.-funded biolabs. “There are in fact biolabs that are funded by our tax dollars, cooking up who knows what pestilence to dump on the Russian people,” Stone claimed.
Read about the other MAGA Putin fans at the RS link.
Read about the other MAGA Putin fans at the RS link.
Martin Pengelly at The Guardian: Kid Rock says Donald Trump sought his advice on North Korea and Islamic State.
The rapper Kid Rock said Donald Trump once asked him for advice about US policy on Islamic State and North Korea.
In an interview with the Fox News host Tucker Carlson broadcast on Monday night, the musician also discussed “cancel culture” – claiming to be “uncancelable” – and the coronavirus pandemic….
In a friendly interview timed for the release of a new album – Kid Rock wearing a “We the People” cap, Carlson in V-neck sweater and khakis – the subject turned to the musician’s friendship with Trump.
In a famous picture from 2017, the rapper was shown in the Oval Office, behind the Resolute Desk, with Trump, the rock musician Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and vice-presidential nominee. Palin said she invited the rightwing rockers “because Jesus was booked”.
“I was there with [Trump] one day when he ended the caliphate,” Kid Rock, 51 and born Robert Ritchie, told Carlson in reference to US efforts against the Islamic State.
“He wanted to put out a tweet … I don’t like to speak out of school. I hope I’m not. But … the tweet was, and I’m paraphrasing, but it’s like, you know, ‘If you ever joined the caliphate, you know, trying to do this, you’re going to be dead.’
“He goes, ‘What do you think?’ [I said] ‘Awesome. I can’t add any better.’ But then it comes out and it’s … reworded and more political, to look politically correct. And just, ‘be afraid’.”
He also said he and Trump were once “looking at maps. I’m like, you know, like, ‘Am I supposed to be in on this shit?’ Like I make dirty records sometimes. I do.
“‘What do you think we should do about North Korea?’ I’m like, ‘What? I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this.’” [….]
Some online critics wondered whether Trump really asked Kid Rock what to do about North Korea.
But after Kid Rock’s White House visit with Nugent and Palin in 2017, Nugent told the New York Times the group discussed “‘health, fitness, food, rock’n’roll, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, secure borders, the history of the United States, guns, bullets, bows and arrows, North Korea, Russia and a half-dozen other issues”.
All I can say to that is that I’m very glad that Joe Biden is president right now.
So . . . what are you focusing on today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread.
Thursday Reads: Obama KOs Perry, and Other NewsPosted: July 10, 2014 Filed under: Barack Obama, morning reads, Republican politics, U.S. Politics | Tags: Benjamin Wittes, Beth White, Bob Cesca, CNN, COINTELPRO, Dana Millbank, Director of National Intelligence (DNA), Driftglass, Glenn Greenwald, immigration, Lindsay Graham, Marc Ambinder, Mike Pence, Racism, Rick Perry, same-sex marriage, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Wolf Blitzer 23 Comments
Yesterday President Obama met with Texas Governor Rick Perry to discuss the so-called “immigration crisis.” Perry had initially refused to shake hands with the President as Obama disembarked from Airforce One, but Perry ended up doing it anyway.
From Mediaite: Rick Perry Admits Defeat, Shakes President Obama’s Hand.
Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) was determined not to shake President Barack Obama’s hand when he arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth airport on Wednesday. But in the end, it appears he just couldn’t help himself.
As CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said while Obama was descending the steps of Air Force One, “I’m anxious to see if the governor Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is there at the bottom of the stairs to receive the president of the United States.”
The anchor betrayed some surprise when Perry walked across the tarmac to greet Obama, shaking his hand and walking side by side to Marine One, where they would have a private meeting about the current crisis at the border.
It’s been ages since I’ve watched CNN, but it sounds like Wolf and his network are practically outdoing Fox News. Do they not see the racial implications of a Republican Governor resisting shaking hands with an African-American President?
On Monday, the Austin American-Statesman reported: Rick Perry declines Obama offer for ‘quick handshake’ at Austin airport.
Gov. Rick Perry Monday turned down what he characterized as President Barack Obama’s offer for a “quick handshake on the tarmac” at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Wednesday, but said he would juggle his schedule to accommodate a “substantive meeting” with the president on the border crisis any time during his two-day visit to Texas.
In a letter to the president, Perry wrote, “I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, but a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. I would instead offer to meet with you at any time during your visit to Texas for a substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue. With the appropriate notice, I am willing to change my schedule to facilitate this request.”
“At any point while you are here, I am available to sit down privately so we can talk and you may directly gain my state’s perspective on the effects of an unsecured border and what is necessary to make it secure,” Perry wrote the president.
In addition, Perry actually said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday:
“I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” Perry said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” charging the president was either “inept” or had an “ulterior motive” in failing to secure the border.
Back to the Mediaite story:
Following Perry’s letter, the Obama administration decided to invite the governor to join Obama at a previously scheduled meeting with faith leaders and elected officials in Dallas. Following that concession, Perry decided he would be comfortable greeting Obama on the tarmac, though he did not indicate whether he would deign to shake the president’s hand.
If Perry was wary of the type of photo-op that has haunted Republicans like Governor Chris Christie(R-NJ), and former Republicans like Charlie Crist, he can at least be thankful that the president did not try to hug him. Though, he did give him a few friendly pats on the back.
Mediaite thinks the photos will doom Perry’s chances for the 2016 Republican nomination; but after his performance in 2012, it seems pretty obvious that Perry himself will destroy his presidential hopes all by himself.
So what happened when the two men met? The New York Times reports: Obama Presses Perry to Rally Support for Border Funds. According to the authors, Jackie Calmes and Ashley Parker, Obama “directly challenged” Perry to convince Congressional Republicans to support $3.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with what Perry has called “a humanitarian crisis” — “thousands of Central American children who have crossed the Mexican border.”
And from The Wire: Rick Perry’s Immigration Meeting With Obama Produces Photo for the Ages.
So, how did President Obama’s meeting with Republican Governor Rick Perry go today? In a statement on Wednesday, Obama described the meeting as “constructive,” but, well, this photo also exists. It’s not immediately clear what the context of this photo was — Is Perry sad? Uncomfortable? Telling a funny story? Happy, but trying to look serious? Hmm. Perhaps someone made a joke at Perry’s expense? Or maybe Perry just makes the Robert De Niro shrug face a lot for no reason.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter right now. Until we know more about the context, the photo will be a Rorschach test. In the future, there will be Midrash about this photo.
A couple more links on the border crisis:
The Washington Post: Dana Milbank: In border crisis, Obama is accused of ‘lawlessness’ for following law.
A querulous quartet of conservatives took to the Senate floor Wednesday….to criticize the president for failing to visit the border during his visit to Texas this week, was coordinated by Sen. John McCain and included fellow Arizonan Jeff Flake and both of the chamber’s Texans, Sen. John Cornyn and the man McCain once dubbed a “wacko bird,” Sen. Ted Cruz.
“President Obama today is down in the state of Texas, but sadly he’s not visiting the border,” said Cruz, in a rare collaboration with McCain. “. . . He’s visiting Democratic fat cats to collect checks, and apparently there’s no time to look at the disaster, at the devastation that’s being caused by his policies. . . . It is a disaster that is the direct consequence of President Obama’s lawlessness.” ….
But this border crisis, sowed years ago and building for months, is neither a high crime nor a misdemeanor. It’s a humanitarian nightmare in which children, some as young as 4, can face physical and sexual abuse, injury and death in their lonely journeys. What’s upside-down about the Cruz-Palin argument is that this crisis has actually been brought about by Obama following the law.
The most obvious and direct cause of the flood of children from Central America is the 2008 human trafficking law that ended the rapid deportation of unaccompanied minors who come illegally from countries other than Mexico and Canada. The law essentially guarantees long stays for these immigrants by promising them a deportation process that can take 18 months, during which time they are often placed with family members who have little incentive to have the kids show up for hearings.
Lindsay Graham disagrees with his good buddy McCain, according to The Hill:
Republicans will take the political fall if they don’t provide emergency funds to address the immigrant crisis at the southern border, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Wednesday.
A number of conservatives on Capitol Hill are pushing back hard against President Obama’s request for almost $4 billion to manage the spike of immigrants — thousands of them unaccompanied minors — that’s hit the Texas-Mexico border in recent months.
But Graham, a long-time supporter of an immigration system overhaul, said a failure to provide the funds will exacerbate the crisis while handing Obama and the Democrats a political victory ahead of November’s midterm elections.
“If we do that, then we’re going to get blamed for perpetuating the problem,” Graham told reporters on Wednesday.
Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that right wing Republicans acted against their political best interest.
In other news,
Another Republican Governor has made an ass of himself (not for the first time). Indiana Governor Mike Pence has told state agencies to not to honor the hundreds of gay marriages that took place after a federal court in Indianapolis invalidated as unconstitutional Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s office is telling state agencies act as if no gay marriages had been performed during three days following a federal court order.
The memo from the governor’s chief counsel tells executive branch agencies to execute their functions as though the June 25 court order had not been issued.
Pence defended the memo Wednesday and the sentiment expressed in it Wednesday afternoon. He said it was his job as governor to carry out the laws of the State of Indiana.
“The State of Indiana must operate in a manner with the laws of Indiana. So we have directed our state agencies earlier this week to conduct themselves in a way that respects current Indiana law, pending this matter’s process through the courts,” Pence said.
A “disappointed” Beth White responded to Pence’s order:
“As Clerk of Marion County, I was proud our office was able to issue these licenses and officiate over 450 weddings for couples, many of whom have been in loving committed relationships for decades. Governor Pence owes these couples an explanation on why he continues to deem them as second class citizens. They legally obtained their license, paid the requisite fee and should be entitled to the same rights and privileges the rest of us enjoy.
It is time for our state leaders to put the issue behind us so that we can focus on strengthening the middle-class, investing in quality Universal Coin and rebuilding Indiana’s economy. Hoosier businesses depend on the best and brightest employees to compete in the global economy. Indiana is rolling up the welcome mat with this regressive stance on this issue. Although my opponent has a long history of opposing marriage equality, I call on Mrs. Lawson to reject Governor Pence’s ruling today. The Office of the Secretary of State should be welcoming to all employers choosing to invest or reinvest in Indiana. And that includes their prospective employees and their families. Hoosiers deserve common sense leadership that is focused on moving Indiana forward.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released an official statement in response to the latest article and statements by Glenn Greenwald that suggest without any supporting evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies are essentially duplicating the illegal actions of COINTELPRO from 1956-1971.
Joint Statement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice on Court-ordered Legal Surveillance of U.S. Persons.
It is entirely false that U.S. intelligence agencies conduct electronic surveillance of political, religious or activist figures solely because they disagree with public policies or criticize the government, or for exercising constitutional rights.
Unlike some other nations, the United States does not monitor anyone’s communications in order to suppress criticism or to put people at a disadvantage based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.
Our intelligence agencies help protect America by collecting communications when they have a legitimate foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose.
With limited exceptions (for example, in an emergency), our intelligence agencies must have a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to target any U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident for electronic surveillance.
These court orders are issued by an independent federal judge only if probable cause, based on specific facts, are established that the person is an agent of a foreign power, a terrorist, a spy, or someone who takes orders from a foreign power.
No U.S. person can be the subject of surveillance based solely on First Amendment activities, such as staging public rallies, organizing campaigns, writing critical essays, or expressing personal beliefs.
On the other hand, a person who the court finds is an agent of a foreign power under this rigorous standard is not exempted just because of his or her occupation.
The United States is as committed to protecting privacy rights and individual freedom as we are to defending our national security.
Take from that what you will. The Greenwald cultists simply dismiss statements coming that from the Government as lies, and assume the worst. My tendency is to base my opinions on evidence. So far I haven’t seen evidence in anything coming from the Snowden leaks that NSA is specifically targeting people because of their political and/or religious beliefs. In my opinion the FBI has done this, but Greenwald’s latest article doesn’t even present valid evidence against the FBI.
On the other hand, I’d like to see Congress do a serious investigation of what NSA and other intelligence agencies are actually doing, and particularly I’d like the government to address the issue of whether the five Americans named in Greenwald’s article were actually targeted and why. The supposed targeting happened before 2008, so perhaps it wouldn’t hurt if more information were released about the reasons.
For further reactions to the latest claims from The Intercept and The Washington Post–and to the DNI/DOJ statement, check out to the following links.
Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter, Greenwald’s Latest NSA Bombshell is an Incomplete Mess, Lacking Any Evidence of Wrongdoing. Here’s the lede:
Glenn Greenwald’s “grand finale fireworks display” finally appeared online early Wednesday and, indeed, there were fireworks but not the “spectacular multicolored hues” he predicted. The fireworks instead came in the form of a bombshell that exploded in a mushroom cloud of shoddy reporting and the usual hyperbolic, misleading accusations that have been the centerpiece of his brand of journalism for more than a year.
You need to read the entire article to understand Cesca’s article, so please go over there if you’re interested in this issue.
Driftglass, Beware the Tingler: Glenn Greenwald, The Phantom Menace, and The Present Progressive Tense.
Marc Ambinder at The Week analyzes the IC official statement, What you need to know about the latest NSA revelations.
Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare: On Glenn Greenwald’s Latest.