Live Blog: Fourth Democratic Debate

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Tonight’s debate is likely to feature some fireworks and a good exchange of ideas between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders–as long as the moderators can keep Martin O’Malley from constantly breaking in with his patented line “I’ve actually already done that in Maryland.”

Mediaite has the basics on how to watch the debate. It will be available on line at the NBC News website and YouTube. It begins at nine and goes for two hours.

The back and forth between Hillary and Bernie this week has been interesting, to say the least. Hillary seems to have gotten under Bernie’s skin too, because he has now partially flip flopped on his vote to immunize gun dealers from liability, his campaign has promised to release specifics on his health car plan and how he hopes to pay for it “very soon,” and they’ve also said they’ll release a “doctor’s note” on Sanders’ health.

Just a couple of days ago the Sanders campaign announced they wouldn’t release the health care tax figures and they previously pooh poohed the need to release medical records.

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I’ve thought for awhile now that Sanders has begun to believe his own reviews in the media. After reading what he said on Face The Nation this morning, I’m convinced he has allowed the failure of the media to vet him and the adulation of his supporters to go to his head.

Sanders: I have a “good chance” to win 2016 election.

“I think we have a good chance to win both those states,” he said of Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold nominating contests. “I think we have a good chance to win this election.”

If he does win, Sanders predicted his campaign would come to be known as “one of the great political upsets in modern history.”

He is feeling so good, in fact, that the Vermont senator told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson that while he was watching President Obama’s final State of the Union address last week, “the thought did cross my mind” that he could be delivering that address in the near future.

Then he caught himself.

“It’s a very humbling feeling,” he said, but added a moment later, “It’s a long way to go before we talk about inaugural speech, before we toss State of the Union speeches in.”

Hmmm…. he doesn’t sound so humble.

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I have a few other good links for you on Bernie.

First a diary from DailyKos (!) on the health care law that Sanders has proposed multiple times in Congress: Sanders’ Health Care Plan. The diarist simply reports the contents of Senate Bill 1782, introduced in December 2013. Please go read it.

The law would end Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Program, and TRICARE. The money that was going into those programs, and use it to fund a “single payer” plan to be run and partially paid for by the states.

We already know that Supreme Court is not going to force states to accept something they don’t want from the Feds. That was their decision on the ACA Medicaid expansion. Even if Sanders could somehow get this through the Republican Congress, it would never get past SCOTUS.

I can’t even imagine what would be involved in implementing this. Right now, Medicare has low overhead costs because it turns over administration of supplemental plans to insurance companies–which would be outlawed in Sanders’ alternative universe.

I’m on Medicare and I get help paying my premiums from the government. Those premiums are more than $100 per month. Basic Medicare only pays for hospital bills, so I also have a government funded supplemental plan with very high co-pays that I get “free.” At least I can go to a doctor if it’s absolutely necessary. What would happen to people like me when all that infrastructure is demolished?

Here’s another must-read that Babama posted in a comment yesterday.

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The People’s View: Chelsea Clinton was Right: Everyone’s Health Care is Threatened under Bernie’s Plan.

Recently, Chelsea Clinton got panned for saying that Bernie Sanders’ health care plan – commonly heralded as ‘Medicare for All’ by the revolution-peddlers – would give Republican governors the opportunity to dismantle publicly funded health insurance for the poor and middle class, that is, Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges. Seems absurd to accuse a self-proclaimed socialist with a proclaimed demand for single-payer universal health insurance of trying to take away health care. Politifact rated Chelsea Clinton’s claims ‘mostly false.’

Politifact got it wrong. Bernie Sanders’ plan does, in fact, allow for states to take away health care from the poor and middle-income, if not most everyone in a state. Although, that shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Sanders’ plan itself targets the economically disadvantaged for punishment. As Politifact notes, Sanders hasn’t proposed a full health care plan for his presidential campaign, instead choosing to use a bill Sanders introduced in the Senate in 2013 without a single cosponsor, titled ‘American Health Security Act of 2013’ as the template.

Poltiifact notes it is in fact true that Sanders’ plan repeals all health insurance funding from Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance exchanges. But he would channel the revenue instead to fund the single-payer system! [….]

The problem is, what Sander’s bill “seeks to” do and what it actually does are quite different. Since Politifact helpfully pointed us to Sanders’ 2013 bill, I decided to read it. In short, it ends all funding to Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP an the ACA insurance provisions, directs it to this single-payer insurance program, raises additional revenue on the back of those who can least afford it, and charges states with the job of actually running it.

Each state, in theory, would have its own program that follows basic guidelines and the vast majority of the funding (80-90%) is provided by the federal government.  Nonetheless, for states that refuse to run their own program, federal authorities – specifically, a Board – can do so instead. Sanders’ bill would also ban the sale of private health insurance.

Until I read that last night, I really didn’t understand how clueless Sanders really is. Please read the whole thing if you haven’t already, because Robert Reich is running around saying the plan makes sense.

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One more Bernie link from Dean Barker at “Birch Paper.” This one has been getting retweeted a lot today. The piece takes us back to the early days of Sanders’ political career when he ran again and again for office, and always lost. Then he got smart and used guns to get into Congress.

Sanders repeatedly talks about how he lost an election because he supported a ban on assault weapons. What really happened is that Sanders did so well in a third-party run that he got Republican Peter Smith elected. After he got to Washington, Smith’s conscience bothered him and he ended up supporting a bill to ban assault weapons.

In 1990, Sanders ran for the House seat again, and defeated Smith with the help and monetary support of the NRA. So when Bernie went to Washington, he voted against the Brady bill–repeatedly.

You have to read that article! There are tons of good links in there too.

Hillary was on the morning shows today too, and she learned from George Stephanopoulos that Karl Rove’s super pac is running an ad in Iowa that supports Sanders attacks on her.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laughed off a new attack ad from a Republican super PAC run by Karl Rove during an interview Sunday on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos.

The web spot, titled “Hillary’s Bull Market,” was launched by American Crossroads, which is run by the Republican strategist and former President George W. Bush adviser. After watching the ad for the first time during her interview on “This Week,” Clinton just smiled.

“I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are to prevent me from becoming the nominee,” Clinton said about the ad, which goes after her ties to Wall Street. “I find that, in a perverse way, an incredibly flattering comment on their anxiety, because they know that not only will I stand up for what the country needs, I will take it to the Republicans.”

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CNN’s report on the morning shows: Hillary Clinton zeroes in on Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton on Sunday sharpened her attacks on Bernie Sanders over the Vermont senator’s record on gun control, just hours ahead of their fourth debate as both vie for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I am very pleased that he flip-flopped on the immunity legislation,” Clinton told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” a day after Sanders, who had been hammered by her campaign for his past position, announced he would change course and back legislation to reverse a 2005 law granting firearm manufacturers legal immunity.

She then called on her rival to do the same with the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allows licensed dealers, once they have initiated a federal background check, to complete the gun sale in question if they haven’t hears back from authorities after three days.

Good news for Hillary:

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Time: Poll: Hillary Clinton Leads Bernie Sanders Nationally By 25 Points.

Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders in a new national poll ahead of Sunday’s final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses.

The former Secretary of State is beating Sanders by 25 points nationally, according to according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of likely Democratic primary voters. Clinton is the top pick among 59% of Democratic primary voters, while Sanders has the support of 34%, the survey shows. Third-place candidate Martin O’Malley got the support of just 2% of likely voters.

Read the rest at CNN.

And From US News: Yes, Hillary’s Still the Inevitable Democratic Nominee She can recover even if she loses the first two nominating states to Bernie Sanders. Here’s why. Read about it at the link. It’s not easy find a brief excerpt to summarize the findings.

I’m putting this up a little early so we’ll have time to discuss these articles–or anything else you want to talk about–before the debate begins at 9PM. I look forward to reading your reactions to what happens tonight. This is the most important debate yet!


Tuesday Reads: The First Democratic Debate

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Good Morning!!

Tonight’s the night! Hillary Clinton will be center stage for the first Democratic Debate, hosted by CNN. To her right, Bernie Sanders will probably have to wear a suit instead of rolled-up shirt sleeves. The other three spots will be filled by people most Americans have barely heard of: Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee.

Hillary is obviously the most experienced debater of the five, although I imagine Bernie Sanders will be able to hold his own. Can Martin O’Malley increase his visibility and voter recognition? Will Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee be able to explain why they are supposedly running for President? We’ll find out tonight.

We’ll have a live blog tonight beginning around 8PM, and I hope you can join us. It’s always more fun watching these events with friends.

So what are the pundits saying this morning?

From CNN: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders finally face off.

Though Clinton and Sanders have rarely mentioned each other’s names, they are clearly reacting to each other and their rival’s potential weaknesses. Sanders took aim at Clinton’s Wall Street record and Iraq vote over the weekend; she put him on the defensive on guns and his poor standing with minority voters.

Until now, they have each had good reason for avoiding full contact with the other. Clinton hasn’t wanted to elevate Sanders and his surprisingly strong poll numbers, while Sanders has wanted to maintain his untraditional, above-the-fray image.

On Tuesday, that calculus will change. And the distinctions they’ve subtly staked out on a range of issues are only likely to grow sharper.

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The focus of the article is mostly on ways that Bernie will be able to attack Hillary.

As he limbered up for their clash, Sanders threw down the gauntlet on the Iraq War — a thrust that Clinton has struggled to counter in the past — hinting that she has hawkish views that are out of step with the majority of Democratic voters.

His campaign issued a statement reminding voters that he, then a member of the House of Representatives, voted against authorizing the Iraq war in late 2002. At the time he argued that the conflict would destabilize the Middle East, kill large numbers of Americans and Iraqi civilians and hamper the war on terror against al Qaeda….

“Democrats are no more fond of the Iraq war now than they were back then. That could be a problem,” Peter Beinart, a foreign policy expert and CNN contributor, said Monday. He added that another Democratic candidate, former Virginia senator and Vietnam war veteran Jim Webb, who was also against the war, could double-team with Sanders to cause trouble for Clinton on the issue.

Sanders has also been staking out territory to Clinton’s left on Syria. The former secretary of state recently distanced herself from Obama’s much-criticized policy on the vicious civil war by calling for a no-fly zone to be set up to shield refugees.

Sanders issued a statement earlier this month pointing out that he opposes such an idea, warning that it could “get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never ending entanglement in that region.”

Fine, but Hillary’s Iraq vote was a very long time ago. Right now, she has laid out specific policy proposals to deal with America’s present-day domestic problems. Tonight, she’ll get a chance to explain her policies. Will Bernie have specifics about how he plans to achieve his ambitious policy goals?

CNN's emergency Joe Biden podium

CNN’s emergency Joe Biden podium

CNN is still fantasizing about getting Joe Biden on stage tonight. They supposedly have a podium ready for him if he shows up at the last minute. Last night Stephen Colbert poked fun at CNN’s “Biden fever.” Read about it and watch the clip at the Washington Post.

The New York Times’ Amy Chozick had an interesting article on Hillary as debater on Friday: In Debate, Hillary Clinton Will Display Skills Honed Over a Lifetime.

When Hillary Rodham’s high school government teacher in Park Ridge, Ill., insisted she play the role of Lyndon B. Johnson in a mock debate of the 1964 presidential election, she protested.

Ms. Rodham, one of the school’s standout debaters, was a proud Barry Goldwater supporter (she wore a hat with an “AuH2O” logo) and an active member of the Young Republicans. But the teacher, Jerry Baker, was intent on challenging her to argue the other side.

Always a dutiful student, she agreed, settling into the library to pore for hours over Johnson’s positions on civil rights, foreign policy and health care. She prepared with such ardor and delivered such a compelling case that she even convinced herself. By the time Ms. Rodham graduated from college, she was a Democrat.

Chozick notes that Hillary is a genuine policy wonk.

The first Democratic primary debate Tuesday on CNN will provide Mrs. Clinton with an opportunity to present her policies to voters — policies that have been largely overshadowed in the news media by developments over her use of private email at the State Department and by the rise of her insurgent opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

But more important, the debate — perhaps more than any late-night appearances or social media gambit — will provide Mrs. Clinton with the largest platform yet to make a connection with voters and show off her genuine passion for policy.

“It’s who she is at her core,” said Patti Solis Doyle, who was an aide to Mrs. Clinton from 1991 to 2008 and managed her last presidential campaign. “She’s an avid studier. She does her homework. She’s a massive preparer.”

The characteristics that viewers will see in Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday are in many ways the same ones that Mr. Baker spotted in his ambitious high school student a half-century ago.

Read much more at the link.

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Here’s a hilarious headline from today’s Washington Post: Hillary Clinton’s declining image numbers inch upward. The article itself is quite revealing (emphasis added). The charts are from the article by Philip Bump.

This is the story of Hillary Clinton’s favorability that’s usually told: a steep and accelerating drop over time.

New polling data from The Washington Post and ABC News, though, paints a different picture. Since August, Clinton’s approval rating is . . . up slightly, to 47 percent from 45 percent. Her net favorability — the percentage of people who view her positively minus those who view her negatively — is up six points.

Clinton’s net favorability didn’t change among Democrats, we’ll note, while both Bernie Sanders and non-candidate-and-maybe-never-candidate Joe Biden saw improvements with Democrats. Clinton gained with independents — and Republicans, where she essentially had nowhere to go but up. Biden saw the biggest gain in net favorability with Republicans, though, gaining 12 points.

Clinton and Biden both saw improvements in their favorability and declines in their unfavorable numbers. For Sanders, the picture was different. Since August, both his favorable and unfavorable numbers increased by about the same amount, nine and eight points, respectively, among registered voters, even as he became much better known….

We’ll note that, for her recent improvement, Clinton is still the least positively viewed Democrat among the three that poll the highest. At least on net. She is also the most popular Democrat among Democrats, with 79 percent favorability to Biden’s 72 and Sanders’s 47. It’s just that she’s viewed far worse by Republicans.

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Gee, I wonder why Biden’s favorability has improved so much among Republicans? /s

How have the candidates been preparing for tonight’s debate? Politico claims to have the lowdown on what Clinton and Sanders have been up to. In the article on Clinton, you have to look for informative tidbits scattered through the Hillary hate. Inside Hillary Clinton’s debate prep.

Her debate strategy is now expected to be two-pronged, according to campaign officials and people with knowledge of the debate preparations: She will attempt to embrace some of Sanders’ ideals while dismissing his solutions, and simultaneously try for a third time to introduce herself to the American public and explain her rationale for running.

She will arrive on the Las Vegas debate stage having poured over briefing books that underscore Sanders’ problematic gun control votes, like his lack of support for the Brady Act, which established mandatory checks on gun sales, and his vote for the 2005 law that gave protection to firearm manufacturers from lawsuits filed by victims and their families. (She also unveiled her own specific gun control policies Monday, just eight days ahead of the debate.)

She is also expected to hold her ground on any attacks that question her fight for progressive values, and hammer home the point that it’s not about great rhetoric or speeches, it’s about results and who can deliver them.

Clinton’s team has also discussed how to inject skepticism into the minds of viewers by questioning how her challenger plans to pay for trillions of dollars in new initiatives he has proposed (The Wall Street Journal tallied his proposals to cost $18 trillion over 10 years), sources said.

The article had little to say about Hillary’s actual debate prep methods, but there’s a more informative article at Glamour Magazine by Jackie Kucinich. It’s an interview with Neera Tanden, who helped prepare Hillary for the debates in 2008. It’s well worth reading. According to Tanden, Hillary likes to participate in mock debates and practice question and answer sessions. She is always very well versed on the issues.

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Politico on Bernie Sanders’ “unorthodox debate prep”:

Hillary Clinton has had aides lined up to run her debate prep for months. A Washington super lawyer is mimicking Bernie Sanders, and her top policy staffer is acting as Martin O’Malley.

Sanders started studying for next Tuesday’s event not even a full week ago. And that’s because his two top aides sat him down in Burlington on Friday and asked whether he had a plan.

Sanders has briefing books, a couple of meetings with policy experts and an abiding aversion to the idea of acting out a debate before it happens. He knows the stakes are high, his staff says. But the candidate, whose New Hampshire polling and fundraising prowess have put a scare into Clinton, is uninterested in going through the motions of typical debate practice.

The Vemont senator’s debate preparations, in other words, don’t look a ton like debate preparations.

While CNN is billing the event as a showdown, Sanders’ team sees the first Democratic debate as a chance to introduce a fairly niche candidate to a national audience. So his team intends to let him do what he’s been doing. Far from preparing lines to deploy against Clinton — let alone O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee or Jim Webb — Sanders plans to dish policy details, learned through a handful of briefings with experts brought in by his campaign.

Hmmmm….I’m just wondering if he’ll have any specifics about how to implement and pay for his proposed policies. It sounds like he’ll mostly be arguing that he’s the best because he opposed the Iraq War, the pipeline, and the TPP “from day one.” We’ll find out tonight, I guess.

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I couldn’t find anything about Chafee’s or Webb’s preparations, but Huffington Post has a short piece on Martin O’Malley: Martin O’Malley’s Spin On Debate Prep: An Open Mic Night In Vegas.

O’Malley’s last best chance to become a factor in the race arrives on Tuesday night, when he is set to share a debate stage here with Clinton and Sanders. His goal will be a simple one: to introduce himself in a positive light — with a particularly well-timed one-liner or two as an added bonus — to the millions of Democratic voters who still have no idea who he is.

Many of them may end up liking what they see, as O’Malley’s relative youth and executive experience presents an immediate contrast to his better-known rivals.

As we discovered when we spent a day on the campaign trail with him in Sin City last week, O’Malley is a more compelling figure than his relatively anonymous profile would suggest.

Sure, he can still eat lunch at a strip mall Subway without any substantial risk that he might be recognized, as he did with our cameras rolling. But O’Malley is also able to boast of having complied a host of progressive accomplishments during his tenure in Annapolis on issues ranging from gun control to immigration reform and beyond.

Oh, and he can really sing, too, as he showed us during his guitar-picking open mic night performance on a rainy evening at a dimly lit bar in downtown Vegas.

Okay…..nothing too substantive there.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and don’t forget to come back tonight for the debate live blog!


Lazy Saturday Reads

Harriet Tubman memorial in Boston's South End

Harriet Tubman memorial in Boston’s South End

Happy Saturday!!

Once again, I’ve spent my early morning hours looking at pictures–this time I have a collection of Boston statues to share–there are gazillions of them here! I’ve got news too, of course.

Last week I wrote a post about a rape trial in Concord, New Hampshire. The case highlighted a culture of misogyny and sexual assault at St. Paul’s, an exclusive private boarding school. Well, the verdict is in.

The jury found Owen Labrie not guilty of aggravated rape, but they convicted him of several other charges, which could still result in jail time. NYT:

…after about seven hours of deliberations over two days, the jury appeared to dismiss Mr. Labrie’s insistence that he had not penetrated the girl in any way, but found that the state had not proved that what happened was against the girl’s expressed wishes.

The nine men and three women rejected the more serious accusations of aggravated sexual assault, as well as a misdemeanor assault charge of biting the girl’s chest, but convicted Mr. Labrie of three misdemeanors related to the girl’s age and involving penetration with his penis, mouth and finger. He was also convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and a felony charge involving use of a computer to lure a minor.

It seemed, one expert said, to be a compromise among the jurors.

The conviction on using a computer to abuse a child means Labrie will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Edgar Allen Poe statue near Boston Common

Edgar Allen Poe statue near Boston Common

Boston Globe: As victim in prep-school case feared, the jury didn’t think she did enough.

In the end, the jury believed her. Owen Labrie had sex with her when she was just 15.

But just like she feared, they didn’t think she did enough to stop him.

Over three days of testimony, the now 16-year-old girl described her encounter with one of the more popular seniors on the campus of her elite New Hampshire prep school last year. She described how Labrie, then 18, invited her to a rendezvous in a secluded St. Paul’s School building. She told of kissing him, of taking off her sweatshirt and then her shorts. And then feeling everything go way too far.

His fingers were inside her, then his tongue, then his penis. He wasn’t getting the message when she pulled her bra strap back on, held onto her underpants, pulled his head away from between her legs as she said no repeatedly, she said. She said she winced and stiffened as he penetrated her.

She should have never left her room that night, she thought, as she stared up at the ceiling and waited for it to end.

“If I had just been able to kick or yell at him,” she testified. “If I just had been able to get the point across. To push or do something. I could have stopped it.”

Statue of Bill Russell at City Hall Plaza

Statue of Bill Russell at City Hall Plaza

So they believed Labrie penetrated her when she was under the age of consent, but they still thought it was consensual? I don’t understand that.

At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern explains: The Odd Sexual-Consent Law That Explains the Bizarre Owen Labrie Verdict.

Like many states, New Hampshire has a “Romeo and Juliet” exception to statutory rape. Such exceptions allows individuals to have sex with minors if they are close in age. These laws are designed to allow teens to engage in consensual sex without fear of prosecution. Florida provides a good example: There, the Romeo and Juliet law creates a four-year bubble, so that an 18-year-old can legally have sex with a 14-year-old, but a 19-year-old cannot.

New Hampshire’s law follows this model—with a twist. It sets a hard age of consent at 13: Before then, all sex is illegal. After 13, the rules change. It isn’t illegal to engage in consensual non-penetrative sexual contact with an individual between ages 13 and 16 unless you are at least five years older than the younger person. (Think necking and fondling.) It is always illegal, however, to engage in penetrative sexual contact with any individual between ages 13 and 16. (16 is the universal age of consent in the state.)

Here, the Romeo and Juliet law only affects the severity of the punishment. If you have penetrative consensual sex with an individual between ages 13 and 16 but are within four years of age, you are guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault. If the age difference is more than four years, you’re guilty of felony sexual assault.

Labrie was 18 when he allegedly put his penis, tongue, and finger in a 15-year-old’s vagina. The jury did not find that the girl resisted, so he isn’t guilty of felony rape. But he still had penetrative sex with a girl under 16, the jury believed. Thus, Labrie is guilty on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, one for each form of penetration.

A couple more links:

Boston Globe: Owen Labrie and the ‘nerd defense’

Boston Globe: Prep-school rape trial: Read statements from the victim’s family, St. Paul’s School, and Harvard College.

The Boston Women's Memorial celebrates three important contributors to Boston's rich history - Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. Each of these women had progressive ideas that were ahead of her time, was committed to social change, and left a legacy through her writings that had a significant impact on history.

The Boston Women’s Memorial celebrates three important contributors to Boston’s rich history – Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. Each of these women had progressive ideas that were ahead of her time, was committed to social change, and left a legacy through her writings that had a significant impact on history.

 

I thought I’d share a heartwarming story with you for a change. My mom passed this one on to me.

IndyStar: Indianapolis radio contest sparks neighborhood feud in Muncie.

It wasn’t really a feud, just one nasty neighbor with no sense of humor.

High school student Hannah Brewer, with her mother’s permission, painted the garage door of their residence in an attempt to prove she is the biggest fan of the pop/punk band 5 Seconds of Summer, aka 5SOS.

“Get creative and prove you’re the biggest 5SOS fan on your garage door so the whole neighborhood can see it!” the radio station said in announcing the competition. “Color, paint, decorate … whatever you can think of! Just make sure we can see RadioNOW 100.9 … somewhere” on the door.

The winner will receive tickets to the band’s Aug. 22 concert and get to meet the four members backstage at Klipsch Music Center.

Statue of Col. William Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument. Famous quote: "Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!"

Statue of Col. William Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument. Famous quote: “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!”

Hannah and her friend Morgan Whitmer worked on the garage door mural together “painting images of the band members, a message reading, “5SOS is kinda hot!” a skull, an astronaut and other things on the door.” An anonymous neighbor was so scandalized that she wrote the ridiculous letter:

Soon after that, an anonymous letter titled “A NOTE FROM YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD” was left in Brewer’s front door at 3305 W. Oaklyn Ave.

It said, “At first we all thought you had been a victim of vandalism on your garage, seeing how NOTHING like that has ever happened around here before … In case you haven’t noticed this isn’t LA or Chicago or Mexico and it certainly isn’t south Muncie.

“There is discussion of getting up a petition, calling the newspaper and retaining a lawyer in case you don’t do the right thing over the ghetto painting … We are all sorry we have had to do this but nobody has ever treated this neighborhood in a trashy manner!”

The author of the letter left another copy of it in the front door on another day.

Hannah’s mother Carrie Mote Craig, a teacher, called the police and learned there was nothing illegal about the painting. One police officer even came to their house and posed for a picture in front of the garage door. Craig then sent an explanatory letter to all of the neighbors and the girls ended up getting tons of support and lots of people stopping by to look at the painting.

Statue of Mary Dyer, who "challenged traditional Puritanism with her progressive beliefs," and was put to death for it.

Statue of Mary Dyer, who “challenged traditional Puritanism with her progressive beliefs,” and was put to death for it.

Well, it turned out that Hannah wasn’t eligible for the radio station contest, because she doesn’t live in Indianapolis. But when the station heard the story, the girls still got tickets and a chance to meet their favorite band.  Indy Star:

RadioNOW 100.9’s afternoon drive host Mike Klein and midday host Hunter personally delivered the good news to Brewer, a high school senior, at her place of work (Wendy’s) on Wednesday night.

“She didn’t actually win the contest,” Max Williams, marketing director at Indianapolis-based RadioNOW, said. “The reason why is she lives in Muncie, which is technically not part of our market. She was not even eligible to win according to the contest rules.”

However, “because of everything that happened and the extra exposure she got for us it is definitely worth her getting to meet the band,” Williams said. “The record label thought it was great extra attention to their band. They loved it, so we were able to secure the extra meet and greet and tickets. They won some pretty decent seats and will get to go backstage prior to the show and meet the band.”

It’s just a small story, but it gave me a good feeling, so I thought I’d share it.

How about some politics? I know, ugh. But there is some political news about Democrats today that isn’t about Emailghazi.

National Journal: At DNC Meeting, Hillary Clinton’s Quiet Moves Are the Ones that Matter.

MINNEAPOLIS—Hillary Clinton publicly bashed her Republican presidential rivals in the cavernous hotel ballroom here Friday, but her bigger accomplishment at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting was what her campaign was doing privately.

At a meet-and-greet at a nearby office tower, in small group sessions, and in one-on-ones behind closed doors at the meeting hotel, Clinton and her top staff worked the 700 or so “superdelegates” who will help choose the next Democratic nominee for firm commitments.

“They’re working really hard to solidify their count going in,” said Florida DNC member Alma Gonzalez. “It is a continual and consistent push.”

“This is really about how you put the numbers together to secure the nomination,” Clinton said at a brief news conference. She said the effort springs from one of the lessons learned from her failed run in 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign took advantage of party rules to win more delegates even when failing to win the primary vote in a particular state.

“I got lot of votes, but I didn’t get enough delegates, and so I think it’s understandable that my focus is going to be on delegates as well as votes this time,” she said. “I’m very encouraged by the kind of response that I’m getting.”

Statue of immortal pitcher Cy Young near the campus of Northeastern University

Statue of immortal pitcher Cy Young near the campus of Northeastern University

Two more links on this:

Bloomberg: Clinton Camp Says One-Fifth of Delegates Secured for Nomination.

Politico: Democratic elite rally around Hillary Clinton.

Naturally, other candidates were not happy.

Washington Post: Democratic challengers launch attacks against Clinton, party leadership.

What began as a routine forum of candidate speeches evolved into a surprisingly dramatic day at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley issued thinly veiled attacks on Clinton and the party leadership.

Speaking from the dais, with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting a few feet away, O’Malley blasted the party’s limited number of sanctioned debates as a process “rigged” in favor of the front-runner. The DNC is holding six debates, only four before February’s first caucuses in Iowa, which O’Malley argued is a disadvantage for all the candidates and a disservice to Democrats generally.

“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” said O’Malley, who has struggled to gain traction in the polls. He added: “We are the Democratic Party, not the undemocratic party.”

Sanders — who later told reporters he agreed with O’Malley — lamented low Democratic turnout in last year’s midterm elections and said the party must grow beyond “politics as usual” if it hopes to produce the level of voter enthusiasm required to retain the White House in 2016.

“We need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of that establishment,” said Sanders, who is an independent but caucuses with Democrats in the Senate.

Asked later whether he was speaking specifically about Clinton, he told reporters, “I’ll let you use your imagination on that.”

Tough shit. Obama was completely ruthless in 2008, and it worked. I’m glad Hillary is following his lead.

Statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church in the background.

Statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church in the background.

More news, links only:

Did you see Peggy Noonan’s latest word salad? Wall Street Journal: America is So in Play, and commentary from Gawker: Peggy Noonan’s Dominican Friend, Cesar, Works at the Deli Counter. Good for a laugh.

CNN: Church says Donald Trump is not an ‘active member’.

Meteor Blades at DailyKos: Clinton’s support for 50-state strategy the right move for any Democratic candidate.

Washington Post: Texas sheriff’s deputy ambushed in ‘execution-style killing’ at gas station.

LA Times: Manson family member Bruce Davis found eligible for parole.

LA Times: Bison attack: Man ‘played dead’ to escape after being gored.

From Vox, a very good long read: Tech nerds are smart. But they can’t seem to get their heads around politics.

The Independent: Study reveals that a lot of psychology research really is just ‘psycho-babble’ (um . . . not quite what the study says)

Washington Post: No, science’s reproducibility problem is not limited to psychology.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific weekend!

Make Way for Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden

Make Way for Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden

 

 


Tuesday Reads: Black Lives Matter More Than Candidates’ Hurt Feelings

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Good Morning!!

There has been quite a bit of discussion the past couple of days about the protesters who have been disrupting speeches by Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. Why aren’t they doing this to Republicans? Why are they being so rude to Bernie Sanders, who many years ago marched for civil rights? There are people responding to these questions. Will the white people doing the questioning listen to the answers?

Here’s one response from Jamil Smith at The New Republic: #BlackLivesMatter Protesters Are Not the Problem. One year after Michael Brown’s death, both liberals and conservatives are still getting it wrong.

The activist group #BlackLivesMatter emerged out of the rage and mourning that accompanied George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin more than three years ago. However, the first time that the hashtag—and its accompanying message—entered the American lexicon to stay was one year ago this past Sunday, when Michael Brown, another unarmed black teenager, was gunned down by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, less than one month after an NYPD chokehold took Eric Garner’s life. On Sunday night, Ferguson reverted to its younger, violent self again, complete with a commemorative protest on West Florissant Avenue being met with police and things turning tragically violent in short order. And two days before the anniversary of Brown’s death, Christian Taylor became the 24th unarmed black man killed by police in 2015.

We might not have heard about Taylor in previous years because attention on black men, women, and children suffering violence and death at the hands of police, in particular, is now at a level unseen perhaps since the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo. That’s backed up by a new Gallup pollindicating that Americans describing themselves as “satisfied with the way blacks are treated in U.S. society” is lower than it’s been since before the turn of the millennium. Ever since Ferguson, it’s evident that #BlackLivesMatter, in many respects, has worked.

In the last year, #BlackLivesMatter has—much like Occupy years beforehand—fundamentally changed the national conversation about a major societal ill. The movement has made millions of people aware of the white supremacy they either perpetuate themselves or support with their silence. With the emergence of the 2016 presidential campaign, #BlackLivesMatter’s demands have become more acutely focused on the candidates, pushing for policy platforms that address structural racism. Yet, as we mark one year since Brown’s death, we’ve seen both liberals and conservatives—from Senator Bernie Sanders’ supporters to Dr. Ben Carson’s—painting #BlackLivesMatter as a divisive force in U.S. racial relations. That someone might consider those fighting racism to be more divisive than racist people or structures would be laughable if black men in America weren’t seven times more likely to die by cop than white men.

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Yes, supporters of Bernie Sanders are upset that his events have been disrupted by black women protesting the killing of black men and women by police officers. Supposedly Sanders wants radical changes in the system, buit what are his proposals for changing structural racism in law enforcement?

More from Jamil Smith:

Sanders, given to touting his record of working for civil rights and uttering names like Sandra Bland since the Netroots incident, experienced a second interruption during a planned event in Seattle on Saturday. Two women and one man claiming affiliation with #BlackLivesMatter disrupted the event before the Vermont senator could speak. Some Sanders backers in the crowd booed when they were told that one of the women, Marissa Johnson, would get her say before the candidate. “Bernie, you were confronted at Netroots at by black women,” Johnson said before adding, “you have yet to put out a criminal justice reform package like O’Malley did.”

Having already responded to the crowd’s boos by telling them that they proved how “racist” the reputably liberal Seattle is, Johnson also called for a four-and-one-half minute-long moment of silence for Brown. Instead, more shouting from the crowd followed, including, per reports, shouts of “arrest her.” Sanders, rather than letting the protesters have their say and responding, left the stage. The event concluded without him speaking. A chorus of his supporters took to social media to question Johnson’s tactics—as if that’s what mattered most—and to tell anyone who dared question why Sanders didn’t have a set of racial-justice proposals that they somehow already existed. They were wrong.

A page entitled “Racial Justice” only appeared on his site early Sunday morning, containing a long list of proposals. A campaign representative reached out to me to say that those proposals, in the works for the three weeks since Netroots, were derived from a speech that’s been on the site since July 25. Given the pressure being put on them and the urgency they showed in creating the platform, it’s odd that the campaign put it online, essentially, under the cover of darkness.

The policies on Sanders’s racial justice page, while surely more welcome than none at all, are undeniably blurrier than those O’Malley put forth, and need considerably more specificity and clarity. There’s a lot of the typically forcefully liberal language Sanders likes to employ in order to inspire, but it seems even more fanciful than the O’Malley plan. But those ideas are certainly signs that he is hearing #BlackLivesMatter’s message. The problem isn’t so much him as it is his supporters, cursing protesters and later, on social media, touting their guy’s record whenever they are challenged on his (heretofore) lack of a platform regarding structural racism.

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Please go read the whole article if you want to understand the anger of the #BlackLivesMatter protesters. Personally, I didn’t know that the movement began long before the killing of Michael Brown. Here’s some background from one of the founders in a piece at The Feminist Wire dated October 7, 2014: A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza.

I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.

Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.  It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.

We were humbled when cultural workers, artists, designers and techies offered their labor and love to expand #BlackLivesMatter beyond a social media hashtag. Opal, Patrisse, and I created the infrastructure for this movement project—moving the hashtag from social media to the streets. Our team grew through a very successful Black Lives Matter ride, led and designed by Patrisse Cullors and Darnell L. Moore, organized to support the movement that is growing in St. Louis, MO, after 18-year old Mike Brown was killed at the hands of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. We’ve hosted national conference calls focused on issues of critical importance to Black people working hard for the liberation of our people.  We’ve connected people across the country working to end the various forms of injustice impacting our people.  We’ve created space for the celebration and humanization of Black lives.

As their slogan spread to the mainstream, the creaters of the #BlackLivesMatter movement saw others trying to change the meaning of their words:

BlackLivesMatter-5

The Theft of Black Queer Women’s Work

Suddenly, we began to come across varied adaptations of our work–all lives matter, brown lives matter, migrant lives matter, women’s lives matter, and on and on. While imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, I was surprised when an organization called to ask if they could use “Black Lives Matter” in one of their campaigns. We agreed to it, with the caveat that a) as a team, we preferred that we not use the meme to celebrate the imprisonment of any individual and b) that it was important to us they acknowledged the genesis of  #BlackLivesMatter.  I was surprised when they did exactly the opposite and then justified their actions by saying they hadn’t used the “exact” slogan and, therefore, they deemed it okay to take our work, use it as their own, fail to credit where it came from, and then use it to applaud incarceration.

I was surprised when a community institution wrote asking us to provide materials and action steps for an art show they were curating, entitled “Our Lives Matter.”  When questioned about who was involved and why they felt the need to change the very specific call and demand around Black lives to “our lives,” I was told the artists decided it needed to be more inclusive of all people of color. I was even more surprised when, in the promotion of their event, one of the artists conducted an interview that completely erased the origins of their work–rooted in the labor and love of queer Black women.

Read more at the link.

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Has Bernie Sanders responded to the prosecution of African American journalist Wesley Lowery yet? From yesterday’s Washington Post:

A Washington Post reporter who was arrested at a restaurant last year while reporting on protests in Ferguson, Mo., has been charged in St. Louis County with trespassing and interfering with a police officer and ordered to appear in court.

Wesley Lowery, a reporter on The Post’s national desk, was detained in a McDonald’s while he was in Missouri covering demonstrations sparked by a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black 18-year-old.

A court summons dated Aug. 6 — just under a year after Lowery’s arrest — was sent to Lowery, 25, ordering him to appear in a St. Louis County municipal court on Aug. 24. The summons notes that he could be arrested if he does not appear.

“Charging a reporter with trespassing and interfering with a police officer when he was just doing his job is outrageous,” Martin Baron, executive editor of The Post, said in a statement Monday. “You’d have thought law enforcement authorities would have come to their senses about this incident. Wes Lowery should never have been arrested in the first place. That was an abuse of police authority.

“This latest action represents contemptible overreaching by prosecutors who seem to have no regard for the role of journalists seeking to cover a major story and following normal practice,” Baron continued.

It seems the powers that be in Ferguson have learned very little. Democratic candidates should address this issue and so should Bernie  Sanders, independent socialist.

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I’ll end with this post by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville: Sanders and #BlackLivesMatter, Again.

I can understand why Sanders was aggravated that his event was disrupted, and I can understand why people who had been waiting for an hour and a half to hear him speak were aggravated that his event was disrupted. But here’s the thing: If you are positioning yourself as a candidate who advocates for radical change, or you are supporting a candidate on the basis that he advocates for radical change, then surely you should be able to get on board with providing space to people who are involved with a campaign that advocates radical change.

If disrupting a rally is too radical for you, I don’t know how you expect to disrupt systems of institutional oppression, which will take way the hell more than an unexpected change in a campaign event schedule.

Don’t pretend you’re supporting revolution when you’re really just supporting a change in management.

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Sanders then released a “Statement on Seattle Protesters,” reading in total: “I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me.”

I’m going to go ahead and say: Maybe that’s true! Maybe there really is no other candidate currently running for president who will fight harder for dismantling racism than Bernie Sanders! Maybe it’s also true that each of the candidates currently running will take different approaches, and, because the activists involved with #BlackLivesMatter aren’t a monolith, there will be disagreement on whose approach is best. And maybe, no matter how good any of the white Democratic presidential candidates are on racial issues, it won’t be good enough. Maybe the inescapable fact is that white people must let black people speak on the large platforms created by and for white candidates.

Again, please go read the whole thing, especially if you are supporting Sanders. Personally, I support Hillary Clinton. I like Bernie, but I think it’s time for a woman President of the U.S. Sanders has no chance to win the Democratic nomination–he’s not even a Democrat! But he isn’t the problem. The problem is his supporters, who remind me of the Obamabots of 2008. Let Bernie handle this situation. My guess is he’ll respond to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, because he’s an intelligent man. He’ll probably get it right in the long run. I think Hillary Clinton will too.

This is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments to this post, and have a great day.


Thursday Reads: GOP Clown Car Update and Other News

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Good Morning!!

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

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

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

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

Here’s the latest on the GOP clown car.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A: Uh …. [walks away]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeb-Bush

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

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

Boooooorrrrrrringggggg . . .

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

USA Today: Rick Perry launches 2016 presidential campaign.

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

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

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

Yawn . . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington Post: Clinton rivals pounce as her ratings fall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving on to other news . . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A few more links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gawker: Gawker Media Votes To Unionize.

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

 


Sunday Shows: The “L” Word

No, I don’t mean “liberal.” The “L” word for this week is “lies.” Democrats were out on the Sunday shows this morning calling out Mitt Romney for lying in last Wednesday’s presidential debate. Talk about a “game changer.” It used to be that politicians were uncomfortable coming right out and calling their opponents liars, but with the number and scale of Romney’s lies in the 2012 campaign, that calculus has changed. Two Obama surrogates actually used the word “lie” and two Obama advisers called Romney “dishonest.” It appears to have a been a coordinated attack.

On Face the Nation, David Axelrod called Romney “dishonest.”

“Governor Romney showed up to deliver a performance, and he delivered a very good performance,” Axelrod said. “It was completely unrooted in fact; it was completely unrooted in the position he’s taken before, and he spent 90 minutes trying to undo two years of campaigning.”

Doubling down on his assertion, Axelrod said, “I think he was dishonest…absolutely.”

Axelrod criticized Romney for saying during the debates that he “never proposed” $5 trillion worth of tax cuts, which an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found would occur if Romney implemented his plan to reduce tax rates by 20 percent. “That was dishonest,” Axelrod said….

“It’s impossible….He cannot name one loophole that he would close. If you took away all the loopholes for upper-income Americans, every single one of them, he would still be trillions of dollars short.” In order to pay for the tax cuts and remain revenue neutral, Axelrod said, “He has to sock it to the middle class or explode the deficit.”

Axelrod even compared Romney to Sinclair Lewis’s fictional character Elmer Gantry.

Suggesting that Mr. Obama had expected, and prepared for, a more substantive debate, Mr. Axelrod said, “I think he went thinking that this was going to be a discussion about the country’s future, and he was confronted by this kind of Gantry-esque performance on the other side, just serially rewriting history.”

The program’s moderator, Bob Schieffer, stopped Mr. Axelrod for clarification.

Yes, Mr. Axelrod said, he was referring to Elmer Gantry, the title character in a book – banned in Boston when published in 1927 – and later a movie about a charismatic, fast-talking, but deeply dishonest street preacher.

Axelrod also noted that President Obama “was ‘taken aback at the brazenness’ of the Republican nominee’s answers.”

Robert Gibbs also used the word “dishonest” to describe Romney on This Week.

“The underpinnings and foundation of that performance were fundamentally dishonest,” said Gibbs, an Obama campaign senior adviser. “Look, the only thing he outlined that he would cut in the budget is Big Bird. He’s taken the battle straight to Sesame Street and let Wall Street run hog wild.”

The Obama campaign has attacked Mitt Romney for tax plan, which is to lower tax rates, but also close certain loopholes, which would produce revenue for the government. Romney has not specified exactly which ones he would close.

“And let’s be clear, if you’re willing to say anything to get elected president, if you are willing to make up your positions and walk away from them, I think the American people have to understand, how can they trust you if you are elected president,” Gibbs said.

On Fox News Sunday, top Obama surrogate Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said of Romney’s tax plan, “The fact of the matter is in this debate we saw Big Bird meet the big lie.” In addition, he told Chris Wallace:

“Mitt Romney tells us to trust him, his plan is hiding behind door No. 3 with Carol Merrill and his undisclosed tax returns,” O’Malley said, referring to “Let’s Make a Deal,” the game show that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Merrill was the model that assisted host Monty Hall.

Another Obama campaign surrogate, Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia said on CNN’s State of the Union that

Mitt Romney had offered “lie after lie” during last week’s debate.

“He is the Etch-A-Sketch guy, [he] has transformed himself and, quite frankly, we always have to wonder which Mitt is going to show up.”

Nutter said that Romney

had undergone an “11th hour conversion” before his debate appearance. “So, if you just lay out lie after lie after lie about your own plan, as well as what the president has been talking about, of course you can look good,” he said.

I’m very glad that Democrats are getting so tough on Romney. But on Meet the Press, even Romney surrogate Newt Gingrich agreed that Romney was lying about his tax plan.

When asked if Romney was being dishonest in the presidential debate, Gingrich said it was “clear” Romney ran away from the tax plan he has long promised on Wednesday night.

GINGRICH: I think you got to look carefully at how Romney structured, what he said is, something that frankly true supply siders don’t necessarily love but it’s good politics, he said, “I will close enough deductions that wealthy Americans will not get a net tax cut.” Now, that’s a pretty clear description.

Senior Obama Campaign Adviser Robert GIBBS: Let me just say this. Standing on the stage with you in Arizona, this is what Mitt Romney said.” Number one, I said today we’re going to cut taxes on everyone across the country, by 20%, including the top 1%.” Mr. Speaker, you mentioned that your opponent, Mitt Romney, had a problem with being dishonest in the primary. My question is, was he dishonest when he said that?

GINGRICH: I think it’s clear he changed.

GIBBS: So we don’t disagree that he changed.

The most stinging rebuke this morning came from Paul Krugman’s indictment of the media coverage of Romney’s debate performance on This Week.

On ABC’s “This Week” roundtable Sunday, Paul Krugman said Mitt Romney is exploiting a press that is ineffective at holding politicians accountable for lies.

“The press just doesn’t know how to handle flat-out untruths,” he said.

“I don’t know whether to blame [the debate moderator Jim] Lehrer or the president, but it was kind of amazing because Romney was not only saying things that are not true, he was saying things that his own campaign had previously said weren’t true,” said the economist and New York Times columnist.

Citing Romney’s claims on taxes and preexisting conditions, Krugman said the Republican nominee showed “contempt for us by thinking the news media will not cover on me as long as they say forcefully I won.”

Please use this as an open thread. What are you hearing?