Lazy Saturday Reads: Are There Really Any “Adults” In The Trump Administration?

Trump with so-called “adults”

Good Morning!!

Now that we know that one of the so-called “adults” in the White House day care center–John Kelly–is just another Trump clone with slightly better language skills, what do we do now? Are the other so-called “adults” in the administration–Mattis and McMaster–also “fake” adults (to use the word that Trump claims he “invented?” I have to believe that no one is going to “save” us from Trump.

If there are any “adults” in the day care center that is the WH, they’re not paying attention to what the baby-man is doing this morning.

Even worse than attacking a member of the House of Representatives, Trump retweeted an account that claimed that the family of fallen soldier La David Johnson has “colluded w extremist Dems to politicize death of Army hero.”

Oh, and have you heard that we’re not allowed to question the word of “the generals” even when they are caught in transparent lies?

The Washington Post: Video shows Kelly made inaccurate claims about lawmaker in feud over Trump’s condolence call.

The White House’s aggressive effort to discredit a congresswoman from Florida who criticized President Trump over a military condolence call ran into a new set of problems Friday when a video emerged showing that the chief of staff had made false claims about her.

It marked the fifth day of a controversy that has raged since Trump attempted to deflect criticism of his handling of the deaths of four service members in an ambush in Niger. The ensuing debate has focused on attacks against Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D) that have proved to be inaccurate but that the White House has refused to back away from, with the latest episode ensnaring Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, a decorated retired Marine general.

From left, John Kelly, James Mattis, and four other Marine four-star generals.

The escalating political mud fight has overshadowed the grief of Myeshia Johnson and the heroism of her dead husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who gave his life for his country.

Trump aides Friday stood by Kelly’s contention that Wilson had boasted about her role in winning funding for a federal building, even after video of her remarks emerged and showed that he was wrong.

But if you’re a journalist, don’t even think about questioning anything Kelly says or does. Washington Post: Sarah Huckabee Sanders to reporter: How dare you challenge one of our generals?

…reporters were primed on Friday afternoon to take up the matter with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. What of this discrepancy? Will Kelly amend the record?

That’s what CBS News correspondent Chip Reid did. After he teed up the topic, Reid and Sanders had this exchange:

Can he come out here and talk to us about this at some point?

Sanders: I think he’s addressed that pretty thoroughly yesterday.

Reid: He was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money. The money was … before she came into Congress.

Sanders: If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate.

This is coming from an underling of the fellow who once said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”

Chip Reid

Both Trump and Kelly owe apologies to Rep. Wilson and the Johnson family.

Trump also claimed that he had contacted every family who had lost a loved one on his watch, but that was a lie too. Roll Call reports: Exclusive: Pentagon Document Contradicts Trump’s Gold Star Claims.

In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.

The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy.

Not only had the president not contacted virtually all the families of military personnel killed this year, the White House did not even have an up-to-date list of those who had been killed.

The exchange between the White House and the Defense secretary’s office occurred about 5 p.m. on Oct. 17. The White House asked the Pentagon for information about surviving family members of all servicemembers killed after Trump’s inauguration so that the president could be sure to contact all of them.

Capt. Hallock Mohler, the executive secretary to Defense Secretary James Mattis, provided the White House with information in the 5 p.m. email about how each servicemember had died and the identity of his or her survivors, including phone numbers.

Click on the link to read the rest. Two more articles you might want to check out:

The New Yorker: John Kelly and the Language of the Military Coup, by Masha Gessen.

Vox: John Kelly has become a field commander in Trump’s culture war.

Sgt. Byron Black, Sgt. La David Johnson, Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson

Lost in all the fuss over condolence calls and letters is the fact that the question Trump was asked in his Monday press conference was about why, after 12 days, he had not commented on the Niger ambush that cost the lives of four green berets. What are Trump and “the generals” hiding?

NBC News: Niger Ambush Came After ‘Massive Intelligence Failure,’ Source Says.

A senior congressional aide who has been briefed on the deaths of four U.S. servicemen in Niger says the ambush by militants stemmed in part from a “massive intelligence failure.” [….]

The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly, said the House and Senate armed services committees have questions about the scope of the U.S. mission in Niger, and whether the Pentagon is properly supporting the troops on the ground there.

There was no U.S. overhead surveillance of the mission, he said, and no American quick-reaction force available to rescue the troops if things went wrong. If it weren’t for the arrival of French fighter jets, he said, things could have been much worse for the Americans….

The aide said questions are being asked about whether the U.S. soldiers were intentionally delayed in the village they were visiting. He said they began pursuing some men on motorcycles, who lured them into a complex ambush. The enemy force had “technical” vehicles — light, improvised military vehicles — and rocket-propelled grenades, the official said.

After the rescue when it became clear that one soldier was missing, “movements and actions to try and find him and bring him back were considered. They just were not postured properly [to get him].” The body of Sgt. La David Johnson was not recovered until nearly 48 hours after the Oct. 4 attack.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis answers a question about the ambush of U.S. troops in Niger before a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the Pentagon, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

LA Times: Pentagon investigating troubling questions after deadly Niger ambush.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, troubled by a lack of information two weeks after an ambush on a special operations patrol in Niger left four U.S. soldiers dead, is demanding a timeline of what is known about the attack, as a team of investigators sent to West Africa begins its work.

The growing list of unanswered questions and inability to construct a precise account of the Oct. 4 incident have exacerbated a public relations nightmare for the White House, which is embroiled in controversy over President Trump’s belated and seemingly clumsy response this week to console grieving military families….

The attack, apparently carried out by militants affiliated with Islamic State, was the deadliest since Trump took office, yet the U.S. military’s Africa Command still does not have a clear “story board” of facts that commanders usually gather swiftly after deadly incidents. That has senior Pentagon officials and lawmakers suggesting incompetence.

The questions arising from the incident, particularly about the availability of additional military support to the patrol, echo those raised in the aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi attack in Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four people: U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, foreign service information officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Thursday that getting to the bottom of what happened may require subpoenas.

Read more at the LA Times.

The most concerning questions are about what happened to Sgt. La David Johnson. Why wasn’t he picked up with the rest of the dead and injured? Was he alive when he was abandoned on the ground? CNN: Missing soldier found nearly a mile from Niger ambush, officials say.

The Pentagon is still looking at the exact circumstances of how and when Johnson became separated from the 12-member team as they were ambushed by 50 ISIS fighters but is emphasizing that the search for Johnson began immediately and dozens of US forces were quickly moved to Niger’s capital Niamey to be ready to go into the field, which some did.
Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie told reporters on Thursday that US, French and Nigerien forces “never left the battlefield” until Johnson was found.
The entire Green Beret-led team has been interviewed about when they last saw Johnson, officials said.
Johnson’s body was recovered in a remote area of the northwestern African country by Nigerien troops nearly 48 hours after he was discovered to be missing in the wake of the attack, according to US officials….
There have been reports that some type of tracking beacon was emitting a signal possibly from Johnson. On Friday, officials said this is a detail they are still trying to verify — it could have been one of the vehicles tracking devices that was emitting the signal.
We need to know Johnson’s cause of death and why Mrs. Johnson was told she could not have an open casket funeral or see her husband’s body. What happened to him? Was his body mutilated? We need answers, “the generals” had better get them make them public.
I’ll end with this post from October 15 at Forward.com: There Are No Adults In The White House. Worse, There Are No Mensches, by Robert Zaretsky.

…there may well be adults in attendance, at least if you define adulthood as James Mann did in the New York Review of Books this month. In an article entitled “The Adults in the Room,” Mann argues that adulthood used to be a matter of policies and process in our nation’s capital. Adults pursued moderate and middle of the road goals, and practiced pragmatic and reasonable methods to achieve them, per Mann. But all that changed since November 2016.

Trump’s rise to power has transmogrified the meaning of adulthood, says Mann. It is no longer the stuff of policy, but instead of personality (or, indeed, of psychosis). The adults in the room are now expected, in Mann’s words, “to preserve a modicum of stability within the administration.” How do they do this? By “cleaning up” the presidential messes, he writes, as well as by sending “signals that they are trying to keep Trump from veering off course.” And should all of these efforts fail? Well, according to Mann, the adults in the room will act on their adultness by leaving the room. “They simply distance themselves from his tirades.”

But what the Trump Administration is really missing is not adults so much as mensches. For cleaning up Trump’s messes and explaining away his tirades may be the acts of an adult, but they are not the actions of a mensch.

“The key to being a real mensch is character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous,” writes Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish.

What do you think? What other stories are you following today?

Wednesday Open Thread

NYC-Morning-coffee-shop

Hello, Sky Dancers!

This will be a quick post. All three of us bloggers are under the weather. JJ has bronchitis, I was up all night with a stomach virus, and Dakinikat is understandably overwhelmed with family issues.

So here we go . . . .

The sh** has really hit the fan down in Dallas. Last night, a group named National Nurses United held a press call in which they revealed that, for the nurses who cared for Ebola patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, “there were no protocols”  for dealing with the highly infectious disease. From CNN:

“The protocols that should have been in place in Dallas were not in place, and that those protocols are not in place anywhere in the United States as far as we can tell,” National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro said. “We’re deeply alarmed.”

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said the claims, if true, are “startling.” Some of them, he said, could be “important when it comes to possible other infections.”

Some of the complaints made by anonymous nurses to National Nurses United:

On the day that Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to the hospital with possible Ebola symptoms, he was “left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present,” union co-president Deborah Burger said.

Up to seven other patients were present in that area, the nurses said, according to the union.

A nursing supervisor faced resistance from hospital authorities when the supervisor demanded that Duncan be moved to an isolation unit, the nurses said, according to the union.

Nurses were given protective gear that didn’t cover their necks, and when they complained they were told to wrap medical tape around their necks.

“There was no one to pick up hazardous waste as it piled to the ceiling,” Burger said. “They did not have access to proper supplies.”

“There was no mandate for nurses to attend training,” Burger said, though they did receive an e-mail about a hospital seminar on Ebola…

According to DeMoro, the nurses were upset after authorities appeared to blame nurse Nina Pham, who has contracted Ebola, for not following protocols.

“This nurse was being blamed for not following protocols that did not exist. … The nurses in that hospital were very angry, and they decided to contact us,” DeMoro said.

And they’re worried conditions at the hospital “may lead to infection of other nurses and patients,” Burger said.

Heine-Brothers-painting-small

And today this headline tops the news: Second Health Care Worker Tests Positive for Ebola. CNN reports:

A second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for Ebola, health officials said Wednesday – casting further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle Ebola and protect employees.

The worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated, health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said.

The preliminary Ebola test was done late Tuesday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and the results came back around midnight. A second test will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

It gets worse. CNN again: 2nd U.S. health worker with Ebola flew the day before symptoms.

The second Dallas health care worker with Ebola was on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday — the day before she reported symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday. Because of the proximity in time between the Monday evening flight and the first report of her illness, the CDC wants to interview all 132 passengers on her flight — Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth, which landed at 8:16 p.m. CT Monday, the CDC said.

The worker, a woman who lives alone, was quickly moved into isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, authorities said Wednesday.

The news cast further doubt on the hospital’s ability to handle Ebola and protect employees. It’s the same hospital that initially sent Thomas Eric Duncan home, even though he had a fever and had traveled from West Africa. By the time he returned to the hospital, his symptoms had worsened. He died while being treated by medical staff, including the two women who have now contracted the disease.

Get this: hospital administrators are still claiming they have everything under control.

“I don’t think we have a systematic institutional problem,” Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, told reporters Wednesday, facing questions about the hospital’s actions.

Medical staff “may have done some things differently with the benefit of what we know today,” he said, adding, “no one wants to get this right more than our hospital.”

Is that so? Well, you know the old saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” According to Vargas, 75 health care workers are still being monitored for symptoms.

coffee

The most recent Ebola case has just now been identified as 26-year-old Amber Vinson, according to USA Today.

Vinson, who was described as living alone without pets in a Dallas apartment, was identified by Martha Schuler, the mother of Vinson’s former stepfather, WFAA-TV reports.

Vinson was among the workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas who helped care for Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, who died of the virus in October.

At an early morning news conference, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he could not rule out more cases among 75 other hospital staffers who cared for Duncan and were being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are preparing contingencies for more and that is a real possibility,” Jenkins said.

In other news,

It seems there were some weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after all, and the Pentagon covered it up. The New York Times broke the story last night: The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons.

The soldiers at the blast crater sensed something was wrong.

It was August 2008 near Taji, Iraq. They had just exploded a stack of old Iraqi artillery shells buried beside a murky lake. The blast, part of an effort to destroy munitions that could be used in makeshift bombs, uncovered more shells.

Two technicians assigned to dispose of munitions stepped into the hole. Lake water seeped in. One of them, Specialist Andrew T. Goldman, noticed a pungent odor, something, he said, he had never smelled before.

He lifted a shell. Oily paste oozed from a crack. “That doesn’t look like pond water,” said his team leader, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Duling.

The specialist swabbed the shell with chemical detection paper. It turned red — indicating sulfur mustard, the chemical warfare agent designed to burn a victim’s airway, skin and eyes.

All three men recall an awkward pause. Then Sergeant Duling gave an order: “Get the hell out.” ….

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Read the whole depressing thing at the link.

grandads-morning-coffee-james-richardson

Here’s the Washington Post’s take on the Times’ story: Pentagon ‘suppressed’ finds of chemical weapons in Iraq and related U.S. casualties.

These were not the “weapons of mass destruction” the George W. Bush administration used to justify invading Iraq in 2003. Rather, the Times said, the troops were injured when they stumbled across old, often corroded shells and warheads procured for use in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s.

The weapons were not the military threat to the United States described by the Bush administration. But the deadly sarin and mustard gas agents troops found were potent enough to cause injury, the paper reported. Unaware of the munitions’ content — which sometimes spilled on to their clothes and skin — as many as 17 soldiers were exposed, and some received haphazard, inadequate medical care.

The Times story suggests the Pentagon suppressed information about the chemical weapons because of the injuries, because it would have highlighted the massive intelligence failure surrounding the war and because the weapons were “built in close collaboration with the West.”

“The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors,” wrote C.J. Chivers. “The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.”

A few more stories that might be of interest, links only:

Morning-Call-Coffee-Cup-Sign

Christian Science Monitor, Michelle Obama viral turnip video: Will it sell healthy food?

New York Daily News, Anita Sarkeesian cancels Utah State lecture amid threats of ‘Montreal Massacre-’styled attacks.

Deadspin, The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It’s Gamergate.

MSNBC, Supreme Court saves Texas abortion access, for now.

Nate Silver, The Polls Might Be Skewed Against Democrats — Or Republicans.

11Alive.com, Exclusive Poll: Nunn leads Senate race by 3%.

Capital OTC, Remains of Iron Age chariot discovered by Leicester students.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and enjoy your Wednesday.


Lazy Saturday Reads

Matisse woman reading

Good Morning!!

I’m going to devote this post to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s domestic violence crisis.

Yesterday NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell emerged from wherever he was hiding for the past ten days and gave a press conference in which he once again tried to paper over his awful handling of domestic violence charges against Ray Rice and a number of other NFL players.

He really shouldn’t have bothered. The “press conference,” in which Goodell announced that he’s setting up a series of committees to formulate a new league policy on domestic violence in time for the Super Bowl, and then dodged pointed questions from the media, was bad enough; but shortly thereafter, ESPN Outside the Lines published a story that showed both Goodell and Baltimore Ravens ownership to be liars. The truth is, the Ravens knew about the video footage from inside the elevator not long after Rice hit Janay Palmer with a closed fist and caused her to lose consciousness.

Rice case: purposeful misdirection by team, scant investigation by NFL, by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg.

Just hours after running back Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancée with a left hook at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Baltimore Ravens’ director of security, Darren Sanders, reached an Atlantic City police officer by phone. While watching surveillance video — shot from inside the elevator where Rice’s punch knocked his fiancée unconscious — the officer, who told Sanders he just happened to be a Ravens fan, described in detail to Sanders what he was seeing.

Sanders quickly relayed the damning video’s play-by-play to team executives in Baltimore, unknowingly starting a seven-month odyssey that has mushroomed into the biggest crisis confronting a commissioner in the NFL’s 94-year history.

“Outside the Lines” interviewed more than 20 sources over the past 11 days — team officials, current and former league officials, NFL Players Association representatives and associates, advisers and friends of Rice — and found a pattern of misinformation and misdirection employed by the Ravens and the NFL since that February night.

After the Feb. 15 incident in the casino elevator, Ravens executives — in particular owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome — began extensive public and private campaigns pushing for leniency for Rice on several fronts: from the judicial system in Atlantic County, where Rice faced assault charges, to commissioner Goodell, who ultimately would decide the number of games Rice would be suspended from this fall, to within their own building, where some were arguing immediately after the incident that Rice should be released.

The Ravens also consulted frequently with Rice’s Philadelphia defense attorney, Michael J. Diamondstein, who in early April had obtained a copy of the inside-elevator video and told Cass: “It’s f—ing horrible.” Cass did not request a copy of the video from Diamondstein but instead began urging Rice’s legal team to get Rice accepted into a pretrial intervention program after being told some of the program’s benefits. Among them: It would keep the inside-elevator video from becoming public.

For its part, the NFL — which in other player discipline cases has been able to obtain information that’s been sealed by court order — took an uncharacteristically passive approach when it came to gathering evidence, opening itself up to widespread criticism, allegations of inconsistent approaches to player discipline and questions about whether Goodell gave Rice — the corporate face of the Baltimore franchise — a light punishment as a favor to his good friend Bisciotti. Four sources said Ravens executives, including Bisciotti, Cass and Newsome, urged Goodell and other league executives to give Rice no more than a two-game suspension, and that’s what Goodell did on July 24.

violence

It’s a long article that shows Ravens coach John Harbaugh in a surprisingly positive light–he reportedly wanted to  cut Rice and two other players who had been arrested in the off-season, but owner Steven Bisciotti overruled him. It’s possible that this means the information in the piece came from sources friendly to Harbaugh, and the team claims there are a number of problems with the article. But at this point, who is going to believe either the team or Roger Goodell over ESPN’s sources–especially when they are postponing stating any specifics until next week? Do they need a few days to dream up a response?

The ESPN article also portrays Ray Rice as extremely remorseful about having hit Janay, and suggests that Steve Biscotti tried to bribe Rice to stay silent about what actually happened. From Deadspin:

Once the video became public, Bisciotti claimed that the team had not seen the tape until it was released by TMZ, suggesting that the account Rice had given him was somehow at odds with the elevator footage. This is also Goodell’s claim, though OTL has four sources saying that Rice told the truth in his meeting with the commissioner. The Ravens released Rice on Sept. 8 and then, according to ESPN, immediately offered an olive branch.
Minutes later, Rice’s phone buzzed. He could scarcely believe what he was looking at— back-to-back text messages from Bisciotti. Rice read them aloud so everyone in the room could hear them:

Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.

When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.

[…]

A few days later, after thinking about it more, Rice told friends he believed Bisciotti was suggesting that, as long as he kept quiet and stuck to the story that he had misled team officials and Goodell about what had happened in the elevator, the Ravens would take care of him down the road. He felt incredibly insulted.

Mirta Toleado, I punch you because I love you (envelope design)

Mirta Toleado, I punch you because I love you (envelope design)

If there is anything positive to come out of this horrible story it’s that more battered women are seeking help from domestic violence hot lines. From the Kansas City Star:

For all the nonsense, though, something seismic may be happening in the fallout here … primed by the inadvertent contribution of the NFL, and not only because Goodell promised harsher punishment for “totally unacceptable” behavior — domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, misuse of firearms, and illegal use of alcohol and drugs.

Because its initial response to Rice was so warped — a paltry two-game suspension — the rumbling started with the release of the second Rice video. And it began to accelerate in the void of NFL leadership between then and now, especially as Adrian Peterson faces child-abuse charges for “whooping” his 4-year-old son with a “switch” and domestic-abuse allegations against others came to light.

If nature abhors a vacuum, so do human beings … who have way more ways to fill it up in the era of social media.

Between the media attention and outrage across the nation, including from heavyweight sponsors such as Anheuser-Busch and Procter & Gamble (which on Friday pulled out of a planned Breast Cancer Awareness event for October), the topic had been bubbling at a critical mass by the time Goodell finally spoke.

That dynamic made for a pivotal moment.

“I think this truly has been a tipping point in how the nation looks at domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Joan Schultz, executive director of the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence. “We’re starting to take it out of (being) the victim’s fault.

“And men are starting to stand up and say, ‘No,’ and that’s what I’ve always thought it was going to take: ‘No, this is not right. … We’re silent no more.’

Frankly, I’m not so confident about a real renaissance in societal attitudes toward domestic abuse coming out of this, but maybe some seeds of change have been planted.
Jim Pavlidis, Football violence against women

Jim Pavlidis, Football violence against women

A couple more reactions . . .

As RalphB noted yesterday, the Pentagon is taking a second look at their relationship with the NFL. From Stars and Stripes:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has asked his staff for details about the U.S. military’s relationships with the National Football League in the wake of the scandal over how the league is handling domestic-abuse allegations against players, CNN reported Friday.

The Pentagon is increasingly sensitive to any suggestion it is supporting a major sports organization that is perceived to tolerate domestic violence….

The military has a zero-¬tolerance policy in the ranks for domestic abuse, but it also has a decades-long, high-profile relationship with the NFL. Any Pentagon action to cut back support for the NFL would be the most direct involvement by the Obama administration yet in the scandal.

What involvement does the military have with the NFL?

The Army alone spends $10 million a year on advertising during NFL games. Games are also broadcast by the Armed Forces Network to troops deployed overseas.

Military support for the NFL games includes providing ceremonial units at games for colors ceremonies; military personnel singing the national anthem, and other units providing drill teams or flyovers. Military personnel, including wounded warriors, often appear at NFL events honoring those who serve, CNN noted.

The Army and the NFL also have a agreement to share information and resources to better understand traumatic brain injury, which is a major medical issue for wounded troops and football players. They are working together on awareness of TBI as well as research into treatment. The military has been sharing some of the lessons learned on TBI from the last 13 years of war.

 Interesting. Along with Proctor & Gamble pulling out of the NFL’s breast cancer campaign, this could have a real influence.

stopviolence
 Mike Lupica at the NY Daily News:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is right — he is sorry. Lupica writes that Goodell talked so much about how he feels bad about his handling of the domestic abuse scandal (actually, Lupica says Goodell mostly feels bad that he was caught) that “he neglected to mention the victims that brought him to that podium on Friday.”
So the man who was once more than happy to pose on the cover of Time magazine as “The Enforcer” now talks about initiatives and the women he has hired and the committees he now needs to deal with domestic violence and all the rest of it in the National Football League. He says that a conduct committee will be in place by the Super Bowl, and acted as if we should give him the game ball for that.

“Our standards . . . must be clear, consistent and current,” Goodell said at one point, and you wondered why in the hell they already weren’t in the most powerful and profitable league in this country, why it took some grainy elevator video to slap Goodell and his owners upside their own thick heads.

You watched Goodell on Friday, watched him be as contrite as all the players he’s taken to the woodshed without impunity over his years as the NFL commissioner, and wondered why Adam Silver, the new NBA commissioner, a rookie commissioner, didn’t need to form committees when he kicked Donald Sterling, one of his owners, right out of his sport.

When Major League Baseball’s Bud Selig and Rob Manfred wanted to suspend a dozen guys last year, and drop a richly deserved hammer on a drug cheat like Alex Rodriguez, they didn’t talk about a conduct committee or wait around for law enforcement to throw the first punch against Anthony Bosch, drug pusher to the stars. They went right after Bosch with a lawsuit for interference and you know what happened in that moment? They became real enforcers, not people simply posing that way.

According to Lupica, Goodell is now “the weakest commissioner in professional sports.”

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and comments on any topic in the comment thread, and have a fabulous weekend!

 


Thursday Reads: 9/11 Memories, Adoption Horror Stories, and Other News

morning news and tea

Good Morning!!

It’s been cool here in the Boston area for the past few weeks, and then suddenly yesterday on the anniversary of 9/11/2001, the temperature shot up to 97 degrees.Today it’s only supposed to get up to the high 80s. And then we’re back to fall over the weekend. Very strange. You just never know what to expect from the weather these days.

On that day 12 years ago, my parents had rented a house on the beach in Rhode Island for a week. We had been obsessed with ExploreSUP reviews of paddle boards and were trying them out in the water. My sister from Indiana and my brother and sister-in-law from Cambridge were there too. This was before my two nephews were born. It was a beautiful New England day, and I recall it was pretty warm–but not hot.

I was out sight-seeing with my parents and sister when we got the first hints that something was terribly wrong. My sister heard someone say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. We rushed back to the beach house to horrible scenes of carnage on TV. We spent the rest of our vacation reading newspapers and watching TV for updates. A couple of days later, I had to drive back to Boston where school was starting and I had to teach at Boston University.

Driving up I-95 alone, I felt irrationally frightened, and I kept looking up in the sky for planes, even though I knew all air traffic had been grounded (except for the bin Laden relatives whom the Bush administration allowed to fly out of Boston–creepy!). The fact that the planes that hit the twin towers had flown out of Boston felt like a terrible violation. So even though nothing had happened to me and I was safe, I still had some post-traumatic stress. I guess we all did. For the first time, Americans learned what it feels like to be attacked in our own country. It was a loss of innocence.

Anyway, that’s my 9/11 memory–not very dramatic, but impossible to forget.

President Obama chose to mark the anniversary with a moment of silence on the White House lawn. From The New York Daily News:

Under a perfect blue sky, President Obama stood stock still on the neatly-manicured White House South Lawn and said not a thing.

moment of silence

In a capital where words are weapons, the silence was disarming.

The President, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and Jill Biden had quietly walked out of the glistening white residence to observe a moment of silence on Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

They were flanked by a military honor guard and White House staff. If you looked toward the South Portico of the nation’s most famous home, a flag was at half-staff.

The two couples held hands as a bell tolled at 8:46 a.m., exactly the moment when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. The poignant simplicity was inescapable.

Afterwards, Obama attended a memorial service in front of the Pentagon, at the site where one of the planes had been flown into the building that symbolized America’s military might.

In the news…

I hope you’ll find time to read this important investigative article by Reuters reporter Megan Twohey about Americans who adopt children from foreign countries, then have regrets, and then give their children away to total strangers they meet on the internet. Many of these children end up being abused emotionally, physically and/or sexually. It’s one of the most shocking stories I’ve ever read. Here’s Part One and Part Two. I really can’t do this story justice with excerpts, but here’s the introduction:

KIEL, Wisconsin – Todd and Melissa Puchalla struggled for more than two years to raise Quita, the troubled teenager they’d adopted from Liberia. When they decided to give her up, they found new parents to take her in less than two days – by posting an ad on the Internet.

Nicole and Calvin Eason, an Illinois couple in their 30s, saw the ad and a picture of the smiling 16-year-old. They were eager to take Quita, even though the ad warned that she had been diagnosed with severe health and behavioral problems. In emails, Nicole Eason assured Melissa Puchalla that she could handle the girl….

A few weeks later, on Oct. 4, 2008, the Puchallas drove six hours from their Wisconsin home to Westville, Illinois. The handoff took place at the Country Aire Mobile Home Park, where the Easons lived in a trailer.

No attorneys or child welfare officials came with them. The Puchallas simply signed a notarized statement declaring these virtual strangers to be Quita’s guardians. The visit lasted just a few hours. It was the first and the last time the couples would meet.

I can’t believe such a thing is possible in the U.S., but it turns out most states don’t really regulate what adoptive parents do with their children. Within a few weeks, Melissa Puchalla learned that Quita and her new parents were missing and that Nicole Eason had a troubling history as a mother:

 • Child welfare authorities had taken away both of Nicole Eason’s biological children years earlier. After a sheriff’s deputy helped remove the Easons’ second child, a newborn baby boy, the deputy wrote in his report that the “parents have severe psychiatric problems as well with violent tendencies.”

• The Easons each had been accused by children they were babysitting of sexual abuse, police reports show. They say they did nothing wrong, and neither was charged.

• The only official document attesting to their parenting skills – one purportedly drafted by a social worker who had inspected the Easons’ home – was fake, created by the Easons themselves.

On Quita’s first night with the Easons, her new guardians told her to join them in their bed, Quita says today. Nicole slept naked, she says.

In Part Two of the report, Twohey writes about another man whom Melissa Eason partnered with to get access to unwanted adoptive children.
Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Reads

Laissez les bontemps roulez! It’s the start of the Carnival Season!

Tonight is 12th night which means it’s the official start of the carnival season or the lead up to Mardi Gras Day.  The season kicks off on Epiphany and ends on Fat Tuesday.  Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday.  There are two huge parties tonight!  The first one is held on a St. Charles Street Car and The Phunny Phorty Phellows.  They herald in the season.  We also celebrate Joan of Arc’s birthday with a parade in the Quarter.  If you make it down here, you will see many folks in medieval costume and many maskers.  Tonight is undoubtedly one of my favorite holidays because it’s just an incredibly colorful, local celebration.

If you’re going to hang out with native New Orleanians who grew up with Mardi Gras, there are a few things you must know. Here are the top ten.

Number 10

How to spell “krewe.”

Number 9

Carnival is a season, Mardi Gras is a day.

Number 8

The Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold, and the official Mardi Gras song is “If Ever I Cease To Love.”

Number 7

The Captain of the Krewe is more important than the King.

Number 6

If you miss a doubloon thrown from a float, never reach down to pick it up. Always put your foot on it. If you go with your hand, you’re either too late or you’ll get your fingers stepped on.

Number 5

If you bite into a plastic baby in a King Cake, that’s a good thing

Number 4

Any beads shorter than two feet long are unacceptable unless they are made of glass.

Number 3

The national press has no clue about Mardi Gras.

Number 2

The vast majority of people in the French Quarter during Carnival are people from out of town.

Finally, the Number 1 thing you must know about Mardi Gras is

You can always judge how bad hurricane season has been by riding down St. Charles Avenue in late fall to see how many Mardi Gras beads are still hanging in the trees.

Every office in the city will be serving King Cake!  Watch out for that baby because you’ll have to buy the next one!  It’s only 46 days until Mardi Gras!

The tea party has found a primary challenger for Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.  Who could possibly think that Hatch isn’t extreme enough?  Yup, it’s the usual group of whackos.

Conservative groups that want to send a message that centrists won’t be allowed to hide behind the GOP label have made a prime target out of Hatch, Utah’s six-term senior senator. Although firmly in the conservative camp on social issues, Hatch has built a reputation for reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats on economic policy, and shies away from the red-meat rhetoric many grassroots conservative groups demand.

The Club for Growth, a deep-pocketed fiscal conservative group, eagerly courted Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to run against Hatch, but Chaffetz quashed their hopes in August when he announced he would seek reelection to the House instead. Rep. Jim Matheson, a Utah Democrat, also considered challenging Hatch, but opted out in October.

FreedomWorks, a national Tea Party group that has set its sights on Hatch, placed its hopes in Liljenquist early, naming him its “Legislative Entrepreneur of the Year” in November and warmly welcoming him to the race on Wednesday.

“We are very pleased to see a dedicated and proven conservative like Dan Liljenquist step up and challenge the status quo in Utah,” said FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe. “His record in the state Senate shows clearly that Liljenquist has the ability to produce innovative solutions to budget woes, and to effectively turn those ideas into action and real legislative change.”

I guess my gut feeling yesterday about the Obama plan to decrease the size of the military was right.  It is an old rehashed Rummy idea.  Это интересно.  (That’s interesting in Russian with apologies for my Parisian accent to my Russian language teacher at university.)

The Obama administration plans to revert to a Bush-era plan to cut the number of U.S. Army combat brigades in Europe in half as part of the Pentagon budget cuts to be announced within weeks, U.K. Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said.

The decision is a retreat from the administration’s previous determination, announced last April, to leave in place three of the four brigade combat teams now stationed in Europe, three in Germany and one airborne brigade in Italy. A brigade combat team usually has 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers.

“My understanding is that there will remain two brigades,” Hammond said in an interview yesterday in Washington after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for their first talks at the Pentagon since they each took office. “But in addition to that, there will be some rotating presence” for training and exercises, he said.

Speaking of interesting, here’s something a little offbeat from AJ.  It’s about fertility problems in “Mother India”.  Who would think that a country with severe population problems would have a booming fertility clinic business?

Jhuma and Niladri are a couple from Burdwan in the state of West Bengal. They have been married for eight years and have no children. This is a major problem, especially in India where a childless married woman is considered impure. A few years ago, Niladri would probably have abandoned Jhuma, and her life would have become a misery, her presence taken to be an inauspicious sign at social events or religious ceremonies.

Today, cutting-edge research and the boom in the assisted reproduction industry offer them new possibilities, new hopes, new dilemmas. The couple set off for Hyderabad, the heart of Indian medical and assisted reproduction research, on a journey of hope, a journey that will take them to Dr Rama’s fertility clinic.

Dr Rama is the owner of a number of clinics in southern India and is expanding her business into the Gulf States and the Caribbean. At the Hyderabad clinic, Jhuma comes into contact with doctors, embryologists, other infertile women and surrogate mothers who are driven by poverty to sell their wombs to earn the surrogacy fees that give them and their existing children a chance of a future.

Drink your coffee before you follow this link. What Would Hillary Clinton Have Done?  I wish I’d have bought some hip waders first, but oh well.

The empirical choice between Clinton and Obama was never as direct as those on either side made it out to be; neither was obviously more equipped or more progressive than the other. The maddening part, then and now, is that they were utterly comparable candidates. The visions — in 2008, of Obama as a progressive redeemer who would restore enlightened democracy to our land and Hillary as a crypto-Republican company man; or, in 2011, of Obama as an appeasement-happy crypto-Republican and Hillary as a leftist John Wayne who would have whipped those Congressional outlaws into shape — they were all invented. These are fictional characters shaped by the predilections, prejudices and short memories of the media and the electorate. They’re not actual politicians between whom we choose here on earth.

If she had won her party’s nomination and then the general election, Hillary Clinton’s presidency would probably not have looked so different from Obama’s. She was, after all, a senator who, for a variety of structural and strategic reasons, often crossed party lines to co-sponsor legislation with Republicans, who voted to go to war in Iraq, who moved to the center on everything from Israel to violent video games. You think Obama’s advisers are bad? Hillary Clinton hired, and then took far too long to get rid of, Mark Penn. And her economic team probably would have looked an awful lot like Obama’s.

Yup.  It’s the no difference trope!  I tried to warn you.

Alrighty.  That’s my contribution for the day.  Wonk will be hostessing the live blog for the Republican debates tomorrow night.  I have the makings of cosmopolitan martinis and a spinach/feta pizza.  Youngest daughter is coming in for the LSU blow out with two of her roommates.  At this point, some one is bound to find out that I faked the thanksgiving hand holding deal.  The thangka of lion faced dakini is sure to be a give away! So, be sure to join us for  what promises to be another whack event!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Late Night: Obama = Bush on Steroids

Prepare yourself for the next stage in the enactment of Total Information Awareness. The Obama administration is in the process of enacting a “mass surveillance state.” Raw Story reports that the FBI is working on “an advanced biometrics facility” that will also be used by the Pentagon.

In an exclusive interview with Raw Story, attorney Chris Calabrese, an ACLU’s legislative counsel in Washington, D.C., warned that this move in particular was indicative of a fast approaching mass surveillance state that poses a “grave danger” to American values.

The FBI’s forthcoming biometrics center will be based on a system constructed by defense contractor Lockheed Martin, and part of that system is already operating today in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Starting with fingerprints, and creating a global law enforcement database for the sharing of those biometric images, the system is slated to expand outward, eventually encompassing facial mapping and other advanced forms of computer-aided identification.

To help ramp up the amount of data flooding into this center, the FBI said that electronic fingerprint scanners would be sent to state and local police agencies, which would be empowered to capture prints from any suspect, even if they haven’t been arrested or convicted of a crime.

Even more frightening is allowing the government and law enforcement to use facial mapping to keep tabs on all of us.

“Facial recognition is one of the most invasive biometrics because it allows surreptitious tracking at a distance,” Calabrese continued. “They can secretly track you from camera to camera, location to location. That has enormous implications, not just for security but also for American society. I mean, we are now at a point where we can automatically track people. Computers could do that. That’s what, we think, is a grave danger to our privacy.”

And that’s not all. You’ve probably heard that the Obama Justice Department has decided to ignore the Supreme Court Decision that requires Miranda warnings for crime suspects.

[On March 24,] the Obama DOJ unveiled the latest — and one of the most significant — examples of its eagerness to assault the very legal values Obama vowed to protect. The Wall Street Journal reports that “new rules allow investigators to hold domestic-terror suspects longer than others without giving them a Miranda warning, significantly expanding exceptions to the instructions that have governed the handling of criminal suspects for more than four decades.” The only previous exception to the 45-year-old Miranda requirement that someone in custody be apprised of their rights occurred in 1984, when the Rehnquist-led right-wing faction of the Supreme Court allowed delay “only in cases of an imminent safety threat,” but these new rules promulgated by the Obama DOJ “give interrogators more latitude and flexibility to define what counts as an appropriate circumstance to waive Miranda rights.”

Let’s see now, the President claims the power to identify any American citizen as a terrorist, on his word only. Once you are labeled a terrorist, you can be held without charges, you have no Habeus rights, and no Miranda rights. You can be tortured in a foreign country or right here in the US of A. Not only that, but you can even be assassinated without trial if the President so orders. We even have emergency laws.

The government isn’t going to need martial law to control the population. We’ll be living in an electronic police state, our every move filmed and examined for suspicious behavior.

We might as well be living in Libya or Egypt.


Don’t tell the truth if you want to keep your job in the Obama Administration

P.J. Crowley

PJ Crowley is gone as Hillary Clinton’s right hand man at the State Department simply because he spoke the truth to a small audience at MIT last week. From CNN (emphasis added):

P.J. Crowley abruptly resigned Sunday as State Department spokesman over controversial comments he made about the Bradley Manning case.

Sources close to the matter [said] the resignation, first reported by CNN, came under pressure from the White House, where officials were furious about his suggestion that the Obama administration is mistreating Manning, the Army private who is being held in solitary confinement in Quantico, Virginia, under suspicion that he leaked highly classified State Department cables to the website Wikileaks.

Speaking to a small group at MIT last week, Crowley was asked about allegations that Manning is being tortured and kicked up a firestorm by answering that what is being done to Manning by Defense Department officials “is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.”

Crowley did add that “nonetheless, Bradley Manning is in the right place” because of his alleged crimes, according to a blog post by BBC reporter Philippa Thomas, who was present at Crowley’s talk.

But that wasn’t good enough for our authoritarian President, who cannot abide criticism of any kind–at least from the liberal side of the aisle.

House Speaker John Boehner can question Obama’s American citizenship, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can say his main goal is to prevent Obama’s reelection, but let a State Department official question whether torturing whistleblower Bradley Manning is appropriate or smart policy, and he’s gone in the blink of an eye.

The writing was on the wall after President Obama’s cold and unfeeling remarks about Manning at his press conference on Friday.

“I’ve actually asked the Pentagon whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards,” Obama said, suggesting some of those procedures were to protect Manning’s safety. “They have assured me that they are.”

Because the best way to find out if a crime is being committed is to ask the people who are perpetrating the crime, right?

Obama is the Commander and Chief of the armed forces. He could order the Defense Department to stop torturing Manning today. But at this point we’ve all learned not to expect any human decency or leadership of any kind from this man. He has now explicitly put his stamp of approval on the psychological torture of an American citizen, who has done nothing more than reveal war crimes committed by the U.S. military.

P.J. Crowley, who apparently does possess some human emotions and empathy, dared to speak his mind at a private meeting and when the word got out, Obama canned him.

According to Politico, Hillary Clinton wanted Crowley gone anyway and this just “controversy” speeded things up.

Crowley had been on the outs with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and rarely accompanied her on her travels abroad. Michael Hammer, President Barack Obama’s NSC spokesman, had been sent to State earlier this year, with the plan for him to succeed Crowley, sources said.

Is that the White House pushing the blame off on Hillary again or is it really true? I honestly don’t know, but I have some strong suspicions.

In a statement Sunday, Crowley notably made no apology for his remarks, but acknowledged that they made his continued service untenable.

“The unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a serious crime under U.S. law. My recent comments regarding the conditions of the pre-trial detention of Private First Class Bradley Manning were intended to highlight the broader, even strategic impact of discreet actions undertaken by national security agencies every day and their impact on our global standing and leadership. The exercise of power in today’s challenging times and relentless media environment must be prudent and consistent with our laws and values,” Crowley said.

“Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Spokesman for the Department of State,” Crowley said.

Clinton said in a statement that she accepted Crowley’s resignation “with regret.” His service, she wrote, “is motivated by a deep devotion to public policy and public diplomacy, and I wish him the very best.”

Best wishes to Crowley. I hope he lands a job where he is allowed to speak the truth and doesn’t have to defend torture.