Thursday Reads: Sexual Harassment In The News

Good Morning!!

As usual, there is no way I can address all of the ghastly news that is happening today in Trump’s America, so I’m not going to try. There is an unbelievable amount of horrible stuff happening. Let’s just stipulate that Trump has successfully instituted the “American Carnage” he talked about in his Inauguration speech.

So I’m just going to focus on one topic today, and leave it to you to add more in the comment thread.

Recently sexual harassment has become big news because of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Then, as victims became empowered, accusations were leveled against other powerful men. The latest to stand accused are “journalist” Mark Halperin and former POTUS George H.W. Bush.

CNN Money: Five women accuse journalist and ‘Game Change’ co-author Mark Halperin of sexual harassment.

Veteran journalist Mark Halperin sexually harassed women while he was in a powerful position at ABC News, according to five women who shared their previously undisclosed accounts with CNN and others who did not experience the alleged harassment personally, but were aware of it.

“During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me,” Halperin said in a statement to CNN Wednesday night. “I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I’m going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.”

MSNBC announced that Halperin would no longer be an analyst on NBC or MSNBC, where he regularly appeared on Morning Joe. More from the CNN story:

Widely considered to be one of the preeminent political journalists, Halperin, 52, has, among other career highlights, been political director at ABC News; co-authored the bestselling book “Game Change,” which was made into an HBO movie starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin; and anchored a television show on Bloomberg TV. He is featured in Showtime’s “The Circus,” a show that chronicled the 2016 campaign cycle and the early days of the Trump presidency, and has a project in development with HBO, which, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner.

The stories of harassment shared with CNN range in nature from propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one’s breasts against her will. Three of the women who spoke to CNN described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed. Halperin denies grabbing a woman’s breasts and pressing his genitals against the three women.

One specific example from the article:

The first woman told CNN she was invited to visit his office in the early 2000s, when he was political director at ABC News, to have a soda, and said that while she was there with him he forcibly kissed her and pressed his genitals against her body.

“I went up to have a soda and talk and — he just kissed me and grabbed my boobs,” the woman said. “I just froze. I didn’t know what to do.”

When she did make her way out of his office, the woman told a friend at ABC News what had happened. That friend told CNN she remembered the woman telling her about the incident and seeing her visibly shaken.

Much more at the CNN link.

Heather Lind (R) claims George HW Bush (C) ‘touched me from behind from his wheelchair’

George H.W. Bush was accused by actress Heather Lind of sexually assaulting her. CNN:

“…when I got the chance to meet George H. W. Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo,” the post went on to say. “He didn’t shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke. And then, all the while being photographed, touched me again.”

A Bush spokesman responded in part:

“At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures,” McGrath said. “To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.”

Last night Deadspin reported: Second Woman: George H.W. Bush Groped Me.

Jordana Grolnick, a New York actress, has a story to tell that doesn’t sound very different at all [from what Lind described]. “I got sent the Heather Lind story by many people this morning,” Grolnick says. “And I’m afraid that mine is entirely similar.”

Rumors about Bush groping actresses in this manner have been circulating for a while. More than a year ago, a tipster passed word about the Heather Lind incident to Deadspin. We were told that Bush had, during a photo opp, groped her and told her that his favorite magician was “David Cop-a-Feel” while fondling her.

(Reached for comment, Bush spokesperson Jim McGrath provided the following statement: “At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures. To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.”)

Jordana Grolnik with George H.W. Bush

More detail from Grolnick:

In August 2016, Grolnick was working at a Maine production of Hunchback of Notre Dame. The former president, who summers in nearby Kennebunkport and frequents this theater, caught a performance. He came backstage during an intermission, she says, and she and the rest of the cast gathered for a photo with him.

Grolnick now says that other actors had told her before the photo that Bush had a reputation for fondling during photo ops, but she didn’t take it seriously.

“I guess I was thinking,” she says, “‘He’s in a wheelchair, what harm could he do?’”

Then her question got answered.

“We all circled around him and Barbara for a photo, and I was right next to him,” she says. “He reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, ‘Do you want to know who my favorite magician is?’ As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, ‘David Cop-a-Feel!’”

Bush is a very old man. Perhaps he has frontal lobe damage or dementia. It might be time for him to stop appearing in public.

Good old Scott Brown has already gotten into trouble after Trump appointed him Ambassador to New Zealand. Yesterday Stuff.com reported: US ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown faced complaints over ‘cultural misunderstanding.’

Speaking to Stuff with wife Gail Huff at his side, Brown confirmed there had been an official “administrative inquiry” into his conduct at a Peace Corps event in Samoa in July.

It related to an official complaint about comments he made when arriving at the event, when he told some of the guests they looked “beautiful”. There had also been a complaint about a comment he made to a woman serving food and drink that she could make hundreds of dollars in the hospitality industry in the US, Brown said.

That was the extent of the complaints, and the inquiry had concluded with a warning that he should be more culturally aware, Brown said….

“When we walked into the Peace Corps event we walked in and there was a receiving line and prior to walking they were all like dirty and grungy … We walked in and everyone was dressed to the nines. They all looked great, Gail looked great, you know I was dressed up and Gail and I both walked in and said ‘you guys are beautiful, you look really handsome sir, you guys are great’.  And apparently somebody took offence to that.

“Fine…I did say it. Gail and I did say it absolutely.”

The Guardian this morning: Scott Brown: more complaints surface over behaviour of US ambassador to New Zealand.

Over the past two months,…the Guardian has spoken to various witnesses who attended the party and who claim the behaviour of the ambassador – the first appointed by the US president, Donald Trump – was worse than he has admitted.

It is understood that two complaints under investigation by the US state department against Brown originally came from two female peace corps volunteers who were at the event, and who served food and drink to the guests as a way to flip the cultural norm of Samoans serving westerners.

There are also other complaints that the ambassador’s behaviour was “shocking”, “culturally insensitive”, “rude” and “undiplomatic”. The Guardian contacted more than a dozen people who attended the party and spoke to a number who said he had made them feel uncomfortable.

One woman told the Guardian that Brown allegedly stared at her body when she was introduced to him. She did not want to be identified, but said: “The first time I met him, he looked at my chest immediately.” She alleged that another female colleague had a similar experience.

“I felt immediately uncomfortable and it didn’t feel right,” she said.

A bit more:

A male former peace corps volunteer described a strained atmosphere developing at the party as the ambassador shouted at guests to be quiet and listen to him. “It was very culturally insensitive,” he said. “He just did multiple things in 15 seconds that really put me off, and looking around [I] saw it put off a lot of other people as well.

“At least twice, maybe three times, he was telling everybody: ‘Stop talking, be quiet, listen to me.’”

Another former peace corps volunteer called Brown’s speech “really pompous and sort of shocking”. The man, who again did not want to be named, said he approached Brown after his speech, hoping to gauge the man representing his country.

He described their exchange as candid, and claimed Brown became aggressive when he mentioned he was disappointed by Trump’s actions following his inauguration. Brown angrily told him to get over it, he said.

“A lot of people were really upset by the tone of his speech that night,” said another attendee. “He was rudely shouting everyone down. After the speech I was so put off I didn’t approach him. I wanted no personal contact with him.”

Another former peace corps volunteer who attended the party told the Guardian: “I know someone who works at the US embassy … and he said Scott went totally off the book [in the speech].

“He said something like: ‘When Kennedy started the peace corps 100 years ago’, so it seemed he didn’t really know what he was talking about.”

And yet the pussy-grabber-in-chief is still POTUS and no one is investigating him for sexual misconduct.

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

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Sunday Night Funnies: Scott Brown Exploring Run for President

Pinning-Hopes-on-Brown (1)

OMG!! This is hilarious! Scott Brown, Senator for two short years before getting trounced by Elizabeth Warren, is thinking about running for POTUS. Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!

From the Boston Herald: Scott Brown in Iowa tests presidential waters

Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown told the Herald he is looking at a possible 2016 presidential bid today as he hit a well-worn stomping ground for Oval Office hopefuls – the Iowa State Fair.
“I want to get an indication of whether there’s even an interest, in Massachusetts and throughout the country, if there’s room for a bi-partisan problem solver,” said Brown, who has been meeting with top Republicans nationally and last week hosted a Fenway event for Republican National Committee members. Brown indicated he isn’t close to deciding whether he will run. “It’s 2013, I think it’s premature, but I am curious. There’s a lot of good name recognition in the Dakotas and here – that’s pretty good.”

Wow, the Dakotas? Well that’s a couple of electoral votes.

Scott Brown tours Iowa State Fair

Scott Brown tours Iowa State Fair

The Des Moines Register reports on Brown’s visit to the Iowa State Fair.

Between stops for bacon-wrapped ribs and a hammy photo with the super bull, Scott Brown didn’t introduce himself to many Iowans.

Brown, a Republican former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, strolled for over two hours today through the Iowa State Fair, an annual 11-day event that’s a magnet for politicians who might want to run for the White House.

Few Iowa fairgoers recognized him as he ate his very first corn dog, drank a couple beers at the Bud Tent, shot a bunch of photos of his wife, Gail Huff, posed in front of the fair’s main attractions (the butter cow, a deep-fried Oreo stand, the Big Boar) and did three local news interviews.

“It’s very easy to go up to people, like, ‘Hey!’ But people don’t want that, like that lady,” Brown said, referring to a woman he talked to, without introducing himself, outside the Clydesdales barn. “Word will get out that I was here, and she’ll tell friends. You keep coming back, keep coming back, keep coming back and you build up that familiarity. I hate it when politicians show up at places right before an election and that’s it. It’s the only time you see them. I’m from the philosophy, you show up as much as you can throughout your cycle so that it’s more like, ‘Hey, Scott, where you been?’ versus, ‘Hi, who are you.’”

That’s an interesting approach. I guess….

The last we heard, Brown was planning to run for either Governor of Massachusetts or Senator from New Hampshire. Now it’s the presidency. This guy sure does have a giant ego.

What can I do but laugh uproariously? Hahahahahahahahahaha!

This is an open thread.


Fox News Replaces “Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods” With Cosmo Centerfold

Senator-Scott-Brown

I have exciting news this morning! Former great Republican hope Scott Brown has been hired as a Fox News contributor! You just knew Fox had to find another pretty face to replace Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods (h/t Charles Pierce). Brian Stelter wrote about it in yesterday’s NYT Media Decoder:

Fox News on Wednesday added the former Republican Senator Scott Brown to its contributor ranks, two weeks after Mr. Brown decided against another run for a Senate seat in Massachusetts.

Mr. Brown will make his debut as a paid pundit on Wednesday night’s edition of “Hannity,” the channel’s 9 p.m. program. “I am looking forward to commenting on the issues of the day and challenging our elected officials to put our country’s needs first instead of their own partisan interests,” Mr. Brown said in a statement.

Politico reported last week that Mr. Brown was in talks with the network. His hiring is the latest in a series of contributor changes Fox has made this winter; last month the network renewed Karl Rove’s contract and parted ways with Sarah Palin and earlier this month it declined to renew Dick Morris’s contract.

Mr. Brown became something of a hero to Republicans in 2010 when he won a special election for the seat formerly held by Edward M. Kennedy, thereby becoming the first Republican senator to represent Massachusetts since 1972. But his time in the Senate was brief: he lost to a Democrat, Elizabeth Warren, last November.

Hey, two years in the Senate, two years as Governor of Alaska–just auditions for Republican politicians who want to sell out to the right wing noise machine.

Brown made his Fox News debut last night on Sean Hannity’s show. The Boston Globe reports:

Former senator Scott Brown made a transition from potential comeback politician to ­pundit in just two weeks, making his debut as a contributor to Fox News on Wednesday night in an appearance also billed as an “exclusive” by host Sean Hannity.

Fans and skeptics alike saw the move as a plush landing pad for Brown, a telegenic former model who used his regular-guy appeal to great effect in his campaign for US Senate and whose upset win in 2010 was championed and chronicled on Fox….

Wearing a suit with an American flag on his lapel, Brown started off his appearance on the “Hannity” show smiling uncertainly, but he soon hit his stride with campaign-­style talking points.

Asked by Hannity why he did not run again for “Kerry’s seat,” Brown said, “Well, it is the people’s seat, as you remember,” echoing the phrase he coined in the 2010 election to replace the late Senator ­Edward M. Kennedy.

Ooooooh, isn’t he brilliant? Politico has more of Brown’s clever remarks for those of you who–like me–who missed the scintillating interview last night. Brown shared with Hannity the reasons for his decision not to run for another of “the people’s seats” as well as his evaluation of President Obama’s SOTU:

“To do five races in six years and raise another $30-$50 million and then and participate in a Congress that’s really dysfunctional and extremely partisan — I felt I could make a difference being on this show and doing other things,” Brown said. “I plan to stay involved certainly, but, you know, I’m going to continue to work and be part of the election process back home and other elections around the country.”

“We welcome you to the program and the network,” Hannity said. “Thanks so much for being here.”

Brown and Hannity then discussed the State of the Union, with the former senator saying he felt Obama proposed “things that we can work on, but the key is to do it together.”

“There weren’t too many olive branches being passed out to the members of Congress, especially the GOP, but there certainly were things that I felt have some promise, for example the trade with Europe and trying to develop jobs, but the problem is, everything he’s laid out — and he certainly laid out his priorities very clearly — how are you going to pay for them?” Brown said.

According to Politico, Hannity ended the interview by telling Brown, “Welcome to the family.”

Brown modelling a sweater back in the day

Brown modelling a sweater back in the day

The NYT’s Brian Stelter (linked above) says that Brown might still run for Governor of Massachusetts; but I think he’s dreaming, and so does Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan, who knows a thing or two about Massachusetts politics: Scott Brown can’t lose as top Fox hunk.

Scott Brown isn’t running for governor next year. That’s my bet.

Fox News, where he debuted last night, is a terrific paycheck. Good for him.

But you just don’t help your political career in the bluest of blue states by working for Fox, which spent the past election cycle bashing immigrants, Obamacare, higher taxes for billionaires, the Rev. Wright, our “socialist” president — and any tighter gun control laws because they would be an outrageous, unpatriotic, unconstitutional assault on Second Amendment rights.

Poor Massachusetts Republicans. They’re still pining for their main squeeze, the guy they hoped would run for U.S. Senate. And now Brown could become a regular on “Geraldo at Large.”

Bwwwwaaaaaaaahahahahahahaha!!!!!

You have to go read Eagan’s piece–it’s priceless. Here’s just a tiny bit more:

I for one expect that Brown will do for the men of America what he did for the boyos of Massachusetts: He’ll make them swoon.

That alone could prove a ratings bonanza. Fox News may have thought they could never, ever find a contributor better looking than Sarah Palin. Now they have.

Brown looked a little like Rick Nelson in those days.

Brown looked a little like Rick Nelson in those days.

After I heard the news yesterday, I decided to do a little research on Scott Brown’s past, and I came across this October 2012 Boston Globe article by Sally Jacobs: Modeling years gave Scott Brown an early boost

It was approaching midnight inside a throbbing Studio 54, New York City’s nightclub extra­ordinaire and nocturnal epicenter of excess in the 1980s. As bartenders naked to the waist filled goblets of champagne, club cofounder Steve Rubell, famous for plucking favored guests from the surging crowd outside, was showing off his latest “pick.”

His name was Scott Brown. But Rubell, who recognized the 22-year-old Massachusetts man, who had recently won Cosmopolitan magazine’s 1982 “America’s Sexiest Man” contest and posed nude for its centerfold, promptly dubbed him “the Cosmo boy.” When Rubell spotted R. Couri Hay, The National Enquirer celebrity columnist and stringer for People magazine, he led Brown toward him, hoping his guest’s sudden renown might garner the club a mention.

“Rubell introduced me to Brown,” recalled Hay. “He said, ‘Here’s the Cosmo boy . . . How cute is he!’

Ah… the ’70s. Hays wasn’t all that impressed, but Brown managed to turn his Cosmo spread into a 7-year modeling career.

Julieanne and Scott

Julieanne and Scott

Brown was awarded a $20,000 contract by Jordache jeans, and his muscled body was splayed on a billboard overlooking Times Square in New York. For one of many sweater shoots, he stared moodily at the breaking surf on a Fire Island beach curled up in the lap of model Julianne Phillips, later the wife of Bruce Springsteen….

And when Boston columnist Norma Nathan dubbed him one of “Boston’s Most Eligible Bachelors” in 1982, Brown did not hold back. “ ‘I’ve always felt that I’ve done well with older women,” says Scott, who scores sex as ‘very important,’ ” accord­ing to the accompanying write-up. “ ‘I have the appetites of a 22-year-old man. It’s very important to me to satisfy a woman I am with.’ ”

Eeeeeeeek!

Finally, Brown’s hard work has been rewarded with an opportunity appropriate to this “talents.”  Maybe he’ll even get his own show!  Margery Eagan suggests that our former two-year Senator would look good on a morning program  next to “drop-dead stunning and really smart” Megyn Kelly.

I ask you, Fox fans, who’d you like to wake up to every morning: Gretchen Carlson or Megyn Kelly? Steve Doocy or Scott Brown? So what if Brown lacks edge. Leave that to Megyn. Just sit back and stare.

I’m not sure who those people are, but as long as Brown is out of the running for Massachusetts Governor I’ll be happy, so I hope his Fox Noise career will be a long and successful one.

2010-05-11-ScottBrownModeling


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!!

You may have heard this already, but last night the Washington Post reported that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is being considered for the post of Defense Secretary.

President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus.

Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

John O. Brennan, Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, is a leading contender for the CIA job if he wants it, officials said. If Brennan goes ahead with his plan to leave government, Michael J. Morell, the agency’s acting director, is the prohibitive favorite to take over permanently. Officials cautioned that the White House discussions are still in the early stages and that no decisions have been made.

That’s a surprise about Kerry. The bad news would be losing a Democratic Senate seat and giving Scott Brown another chance to run as a replacement. Let’s hope Massachusetts Democrats have someone who can beat him.

You also probably heard that there was a huge explosion in Indianapolis over the weekend. It leveled four houses completely and seriously damaged eighty more. The explosion was so powerful that homes 2-3 blocks away in all directions were affected–garage doors were blown open, windows broken and so on. So far there no cause for the explosion has been announced. The latest speculation has been that a gas furnace or some other appliance blew up. From NBC News:

With no hint of a problem in advance, in particular no tell-tale smell of a gas leak, authorities and residents in a southern Indianapolis neighborhood are trying to make sense of an enormous blast that obliterated two homes and made dozens more uninhabitable.

Fire officials expressed amazement that only two people died in the late Saturday explosion so powerful that the devastation spread for blocks from its epicenter. Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate their Richmond Hill homes, some never to return. Windows and doors were blown in. The blast rocked several houses entirely from their foundations and was so loud it awoke people three miles away. A fire burned for hours, engulfing dozens of homes.

“We have done initial testing throughout the neighborhood and have not found any gas leaks,” Dan Considine, Citizens Energy spokesman, told IndyStar.com Monday.

“We are still doing additional testing of the gas main and the lines to the homes on Fieldfare Way,” he said. “We have not at this point found any problems with any external gas lines.”

This is so strange. I did hear that authorities have determined that the explosion wasn’t caused by a meth lab or by explosives.

There are some new developments in the Petraeus episode. Yesterday morning ABC News’ Martha Raddatz explained why the FBI investigation of Petraeus wasn’t revealed to the White House earlier.

The FBI withheld its findings about Gen. David Petreaus’ affair from the White House and congressional leaders because the agency considered them the result of a criminal investigation that never reached the threshold of an intelligence probe, law enforcement sources said today.

The sources said agents followed department guidelines that generally bar sharing information about developing criminal investigations. The FBI is also aware of its history under former director J. Edgar Hoover of playing politics and digging into the lives of public figures. As one official said, the rules are designed to protect people (both private and elected officials) when negative information about them arises in the course of a criminal investigation that is not a crime.

The FBI’s focus was on whether laws were broken, in this case whether federal cyber-harassment statutes were violated. The sources emphasized that Petraeus himself was never the focus of the investigation, nor did it turn up evidence he broke any law.

The focus was on his biographer, Paula Broadwell, with whom he had the affair that ended with his resignation as CIA director last week.

Then last night the Wall Street Journal reported that:

A federal agent who launched the investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors’ concerns that he had become personally involved in the case, according to officials familiar with the probe.

New details about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the case suggest that even as the bureau delved into Mr. Petraeus’s personal life, the agency had to address questionable conduct by one of its own…

As Dakinikat said the other day, this is sounding more and more like a Lifetime movie as time goes on.

The FBI agent who started the case was a friend of Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who received harassing, anonymous emails that led to the probe, according to officials. Ms. Kelley, a volunteer who organizes social events for military personnel in the Tampa area, complained in May about the emails to a friend who is an FBI agent. That agent referred it to a cyber crimes unit, which opened an investigation.

However, supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter, and prohibited him from any role in the investigation, according to the officials.

The FBI officials found that he had sent shirtless pictures of himself to Ms. Kelley, according to the people familiar with the probe.

These are the same people who are setting up stings to entrap young men into planning “terrorist acts.” Do you feel safer now?

Last night on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell reported that this FBI agent may have had political motivations and wanted the information made public before the election. According to the WSJ story, this was the FBI source who contacted Rep. Dave Reichert, who in turn passed the information to Eric Cantor.

The story also gives more detail on the so-called harassing e-mails that Broadwell sent to Kelley:

The accusatory emails, according to officials, were sent anonymously to an account shared by Ms. Kelley and her husband. Ms. Broadwell allegedly used a variety of email addresses to send the harassing messages to Ms. Kelley, officials said.

One asked if Ms. Kelley’s husband was aware of her actions, according to officials. In another, the anonymous writer claimed to have watched Ms. Kelley touching “him” provocatively underneath a table, the officials said.

The message was referring to Mr. Petraeus, but that wasn’t clear at the time, officials said.

I’m getting the feeling that Broadwell is not going to get her Ph.D. from the Harvard School of Government, especially not after this from the Charlotte Observer: FBI team searches Broadwell home.

Three days after Paula Broadwell entered the center of national controversy, FBI agents Monday evening entered her family’s Dilworth home and appeared to be searching both floors.

The four or five agents brought cardboard boxes used for carrying papers and were on both floors of the home for the search, which began shortly before 9 p.m. About two dozen members of the local and national media gathered. It wasn’t immediately clear what the agents were focused on.

The agents appeared to start their search in the rear of the house in the kitchen and began turning on lights as they moved into different rooms. As the agents reached the two-hour mark, lights in most rooms appeared to be turned on.

Broadwell’s apparent affair with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, who is married, led him to resign Friday as CIA director. Broadwell’s Charlotte neighbor Sarah Curme said Monday that Broadwell, her husband and two young sons were doing pretty well considering the circumstances. Broadwell marked her 40th birthday over the weekend with family in Washington, D.C.

Still, Amy Bishop managed to get her Ph.D. from Harvard.

UPDATE: Overnight it came out that another four-star general, John Allen, is under investigation for exchanging massive numbers of inappropriate e-mails with Jill Kelley. From CNN:

The spiraling scandal that took down former CIA Director David Petraeus has apparently ensnared another powerful general, as authorities announced that Gen. John Allen is under investigation for allegedly sending inappropriate messages to Jill Kelley, a woman who has been linked to the Petraeus scandal.

Allen, who is the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, has denied any wrongdoing, a senior defense official said.

What the hell is going on with these generals?

Some details about Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, came from an overnight statement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, while he was on his way to Australia.

“On Sunday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred to the Department of Defense a matter involving General John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (or ISAF) in Afghanistan,” part of the statement said. “Today, the secretary directed that the matter be referred to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense for investigation.”

A defense official told CNN there is a “distinct possibility” that the investigation into Allen is connected to the investigation that led to the resignation of Petraeus.

Allen had been nominated to be the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, but that appointment is now on hold.

I’ll put any further updates in the comments to this post.

You’re gonna love this. Callista Gingrich talked to Barbara Walters about the Petraeus story, saying that “affairs are ‘painful’ for the family.”

The woman who married former House Speaker Newt Gingrich after cheating with him while he was married to his second wife says that former CIA Director David Petraeus’ extramarital affair is “sad” and “painful” for his family.

“I think it’s personally very sad for he and his family,” Callista Gingrich told ABC’s Barbara Walters on Monday. “I think he did the right thing by resigning. But this is painful and they’ll have to work together through this as a family. And that will take some time.”

Maybe Barbara should have talked to Newt’s previous wives to find out what being cheated on really feels like. But I suppose Callista will find out eventually. Maybe she’s preparing herself for the inevitable.

I’ll end with something non-political. According to research by Stanford Professor Gerald Crabtree, humans are becoming less intelligent with time because of mutations in the brain.

A Stanford University professor presented evidence Monday that mutations in the human brain — brought on by advances in society that have made survival less stressful — are eroding our intellectual and emotional capabilities.

Gerald Crabtree, lead author of the study published in the journal Trends in Genetics, claims the brain drain has been going on for centuries.

Crabtree, a professor of pathology and developmental biology, suggested our intellectual peak came when humans were mostly nonverbal and were stressed out trying to think of ways to not get eaten by wild animals.

He said survival was once a driving force for intelligence. But the development of agriculture and the rise in urban living has probably weakened the natural selection towards intelligence and made us less smart.

A little more from Raw Story:

Humans are slowly losing their cognitive capabilities as adverse genetic mutations fail to be weeded out by evolutionary pressures, according to a bold hypothesis put forward by Dr. Gerald Crabtree of Stanford University.

“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues. Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues,” the leading geneticist began his article in the scientific journal Trends in Genetics, adding the same could be said of the “inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India, or the Americas.”

Crabtree explained that human intelligence and emotions relied on thousands of genes, which acted together as links in a chain rather than individual components. A mutation to any of one of these genes can produce intellectual or emotional disability — and research has found that most of these genes are particularly susceptible to mutations.

Under the harsh circumstances that ancient humans endured, even a slight reduction in cognitive abilities could doom an individual. Those with lower cognitive abilities were more likely to die before reproducing, leaving only those with more refined cognitive abilities to pass on their genes.

Could this explain the development of the Tea Party?

Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Election Day Afternoon Update

Good Afternoon!!

Here’s a fresh thread while we wait for any bits of exit poll results to be leaked. Let us know if you’ve heard any!

I’ve got a few entertaining links for you in case you’re looking for something to read while obsessively waiting for the polls to close in Florida and Virginia (7PM Eastern).

Can you believe Mitt Romney is charging reporters who want to be inside his campaign headquarters tonight when the returns come in?

BOSTON — The campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney appears to be setting a precedent this election year in charging journalists and news organizations for any access to a presidential campaign headquarters on the night of the election.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is locked in a tight race with Democratic President Barack Obama, will be holding his election night gathering at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, where access costs anywhere from $75 for a chair in the ballroom to $1,020 for permission to use the media filing center. Broadcast news organizations will be paying up to $6,500 for workspace.

Obama’s campaign party will be held at McCormick Place, in Chicago, and although his campaign is charging for premiums, credentialed reporters are granted access, which includes a workstation, electrical power and a wireless Internet connection, at no cost.

Romney is ending his historically awful campaign as gracelessly as he ran it for the past year.

But Romney’s money men will be treated like kings tonight.

BOSTON, MASS. —Mitt Romney isn’t going to forget the folks who picked up the tab for his billion-dollar run for the White House tonight.
Roughly 2,000 mega donors and bundlers are flocking to Beantown on Election Day for one last get together —which includes some special perks — according to a source on the ground familiar with the finance teams efforts.

Some of Romney’s biggest supporters, including New York Jets owner Woody Johnson; Texan mega donors L.E. Simmons and Ray Washburn; Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute; Bobbie Kilberg, head of the Northern Virginia Technology Council; among others are expected to attend. Nevada gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson may also make an appearance, according to the source….

The festivities kick off with a dinner for the Romney Victory Council at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, just a few short steps from the convention center where Romney’s slated to speak later in the evening. The group, dubbed informally as the “Council of 100,”are those that have raised significant amounts of money and includes many of Romney’s state chair network.

Unlike the press, the mega donors will watch the festivities in style.

Following the dinner, the finance team has organized two massive rooms in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for election night watch parties, one for the victory council and another for the national finance committee members. The finance committee room will include the campaign’s high-end donors of the founding members and partners as well as the bundlers that hit their marks in the“Stars” and “Stripes” programs.

May they all end up crying in their champagne.

Even though Romney will lose badly in Massachusetts, voters are flocking to the polls for the Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown.

Lines crawled down hallways of schools, outside firehouses and community centers around Cambridge, Somerville and Braintree just outside Boston.

At the end of the most expensive senate race in Massachusetts history, voters cast their choice as one for the decidedly progressive politics of Warren or the sense of moderation they felt that Brown–who shocked the nation when he won Kennedy’s seat in 2009–had brought to the Senate.

A few more links:

Emptywheel has an interesting post about her day working in “voter protection” at an African American district in Michigan: On the Ground Turnout in MI Feels Like It Did in 2008

At another Michigan polling place: Southfield Twp. voter appears to die, then asks ‘Did I vote?’

TPM: Ohio Viewers Hit By Anti-Obama TV ‘Special’ On Election Eve

The Cleveland Leader reports that Sherrod Brown’s opponent, Josh Mandel got a surprise from some family members yesterday: Josh Mandel’s In-Laws Call Him Out on Anti-Gay Stance in Newspaper Ad

In Franklin County, Ohio Tea Party “observers” from “True the Vote” were “barred from Franklin County polling places.”

What are you hearing in your neck of the woods?


Michael Bloomberg Suggests Elizabeth Warren is a Socialist, Will Bring Back USSR

Michael Bloomberg’s worst nightmare

WTF?! NYC Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg gave an interview to The New York Times on Friday in which he criticized both President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Today, the Caucus blog reports that Bloomberg also had a few choice words for Elizabeth Warren, who is running to unseat Bloomberg’s chosen candidate Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. Check this out:

“What I’ve tried to do is find liberal middle-of-the-road Republicans and Democrats. In the Senate, Scott Brown, who single-handedly stopped the right-to-carry bill. You can question whether he’s too conservative. You can question, in my mind, whether she’s God’s gift to regulation, close the banks and get rid of corporate profits, and we’d all bring socialism back, or the U.S.S.R.

Really? I’d say Bloomberg’s policies are a lot more reminiscent of the Soviet Union than Warren’s, e.g. stop and frisk and his violent crackdown on Occupy Wall Street.

Bloomberg claims he supports Scott Brown because Brown is for gun control.

“The biggest reason the mayor is supporting Senator Brown is the senator’s help on one of our biggest gun issues: opposing concealed-carry reciprocity that would let people with gun permits from rural states like Arkansas and Kentucky carry hidden handguns in New York City,” Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser told the New York Times.

But Scott Brown has an “A” rating with the National Rifle Association, supports concealed carry laws, and opposes bringing back the assault rifle ban. Elizabeth Warren supports most gun control policies and wants to renew the assault weapons ban. I think we all know why Bloomberg supports Senator Brown (R-Wall Street), don’t we.

This is an open thread.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Fall is here, and suddenly, I find myself seeking out foods made with pumpkin, like pumpkin-apple muffins. I’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte, but I’m thinking of trying one. I found a recipe for pumpkin syrup on line.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups water
1½ cups sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
3 tbsp. pumpkin puree

DIRECTIONS

Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Toss in the cinnamon sticks and whisk in the remaining spices and the pumpkin puree. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, without letting the mixture come to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and store in your container of choice. Store in the refrigerator.

To make a pumpkin spice latte, combine 2 ounces of hot coffee or 1 shot of hot espresso (about 1-1½ ounces) with 5-6 ounces of steamed low-fat milk. Stir in 1½-2 tablespoons of the pumpkin spice syrup. Taste and adjust amounts accordingly. Top as desired with freshly whipped cream, ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce (optional – sort of).

I’ve also heard that pumpkin oatmeal is really good. I’m might try that with the leftovers. Now, let’s see what’s in the news this morning.

Yesterday, I posted about Romney’s crass exploitation of the death of former Navy Seal Glen Doherty in the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Last night I learned that Doherty was active in the fight to prevent right-wing fundamentalists from completely taking over the U.S. military. Mikey Weinstein, who has fought the good fight for years, wrote about it at Huffington Post.

I had the extreme good fortune, honor and privilege to work alongside Glen for years as a longtime member of the Advisory Board of the four-time, Nobel Peace Prize-nominated, civil rights charitable organization I founded and currently serve as president of called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). We currently are assisting over 30,000 American military personnel fighting against Christian fundamentalist religious extremism in our own armed forces. Glen selflessly served as a passionate, ’round-the-clock’ supporter of MRFF based on his fervent belief in its mission to protect the secular nature of the U.S. Military and the imperative this secular nature has to our national security. Separation of church and state in the United States military was not a trivial matter for Glen. It was his mantra.

Based upon our profound, mutual working experiences with MRFF, I’m truly fascinated about what Mitt Romney actually “learned about him”. During his chance meeting with Glen at that Christmas party a few years ago, did candidate Romney learn about his close personal and professional relationship with MRFF? Other fascinating learning opportunities for Mr. Romney regarding Glen’s deep support of and belief in MRFF and what we stand for may have revealed to him some very “uncomfortable” facts about the life of this true American Hero.

Please click the link and read the list of initiatives that Doherty supported. Of Romney’s shameful use of Doherty’s story for political purposes, Weinstein writes:

As informed citizens of the United States, we are all too aware of the rampant grandiose hyperbole generated as a result of our political campaigns. This absolutely disgusting, opportunistic travesty however was so much more, and so much lower, than the usual political ‘pablum’ that courses through our normal campaign emissions. This “performance” was simply naked and shameful exploitation of the life and memory of an actual American Hero. Romney did not “know” Glen. His insinuation that he somehow had a connection to Glen is disingenuous at best and a naked lie at worst. It is bold and bald untruthfulness. As Alfred Tennyson said, “A lie that is half truth is the darkest of all lies.” A timely and heartfelt apology is truly in order here.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Warren-Brown debate last night, but I read a good review of it at Dailykos by Joan McCarter. Apparently the moderator this time wasn’t an idiot.

What a refreshing Massachusetts Senate debate. From the beginning, when moderator Jim Madigan (thank you WGBY and public television), announced that the questions would be from and based on what the public had sent in, there was hope. When the first question was not about Elizabeth Warren’s heritage, but instead about unemployment and job creation, you knew we were in for a debate of substance.

Without that initial attack on Warren to set Brown up, he came off a little discombobulated. Brown was often scattered, incoherent, and thrown off by the time clock, resorting to mixing all his talking points on “bipartisan” and “job creators” into a mish-mash of word salad when he found himself with extra time. That was regardless of the question asked of him. He also failed in controlling the nasty, taking several cheap shots at “Professor” Warren, including blaming her salary and benefits as a Harvard professor for the spiraling costs of higher education.

This debate featured a far more Republican-sounding Brown that any of the previous debates. He railed about tax hikes, on his fealty to Grover Norquist, on the job-killing Obamacare. It was a bizarre juxtaposition to see the guy the tea party was so excited to get elected in 2010 and the “second-most bipartisan senator” fighting for the same brain. The results were bad for Brown.

Read the rest at the link. I’m still glad I didn’t watch it. Watching Paul Ryan tonight will be bad enough for one week.

In another hard-fought Senate race in Missouri, Claire McCaskill has released three new ads in her battle with Todd Akin. Each ad features a rape survivor talking about Akin’s anti-woman policies. Here’s one of the ads:

You can watch the other two ads at the above link.

There’s another terrific war-on-woman ad released by Deb Butler, a Democrat running for the North Carolina state senate. The ad features a transvaginal probe.

North Carolina state Senate candidate Deb Butler has released a new ad that slams Republican incumbent Thom Goolsby for supporting anti-abortion legislation.

“He wouldn’t dare show you this, but this is Thom Goolsby’s contribution to women’s health,” Butler says in the ad, holding a trans-vaginal ultrasound wand. “A medically unnecessary and invasive procedure that is now required by state law. He promised us his first priority would be jobs, but instead he’s following us into the doctor’s office.”

The New York Times offers Trip Gabriel’s Six Things to Watch for in the Biden-Ryan Debate. Gabriel predicts:

1. Biden will hit Ryan (and Romney) with everything he’s got.

Expect Mr. Biden, who is able to deliver cutting sarcasm without seeming angry, to continue to make up for Mr. Obama’s passivity at the first debate by accusing Mr. Romney of dissembling about long-held policies.

2. Biden will attack the Ryan budget.

Republicans and Democrats both rejoiced when Mr. Romney picked Mr. Ryan because the ticket was married to Mr. Ryan’s audacious House budgets with deep cuts in federal spending.

Although the budget, which Mr. Romney has largely endorsed, does not specify how programs will be cut, Mr. Biden will happily fill in the blanks by saying that an equal, across-the-board cut would mean eliminating 38,000 teachers and dropping 200,000 children from Head Start.

The remaining issues are Medicare cuts, the fiscal cliff, foreign affairs, and possible gaffes, especially by Biden. Of course we’ll have a live blog of the debate tonight.

The Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear a suit against telcoms who received immunity for spying on American citizens.

The Supreme Court has ended a 6-year-old class-action lawsuit against the nation’s telecommunications carriers for secretly helping the National Security Agency monitor phone calls and emails coming into and out of this country.

The suit was dealt a death blow in 2008 when Congress granted retroactive immunity to people or companies aiding U.S. intelligence agents.

Without comment, the justices turned down appeals from civil liberties advocates who contended this mass surveillance was unconstitutional and illegal.

This month the justices are set to hear a separate case to decide whether NSA officials can be sued for authorizing this allegedly unconstitutional mass wiretapping.

That should be enough to get some discussion started. Now what are you reading and blogging about?