It’s hard to believe things could get any crazier, but I think maybe Trump is going to find ways to make it happen. It’s so exhausting, that I spent some time this morning looking at photos of baby animals. As always, it calmed me down somewhat. I hope these pictures will do the same for you.
The big news last night was the latest Devin Nunes insanity, but this morning that has been eclipsed by threats exchanged between Pence and North Korea. So for now, the planned summit between Trump and Kim John Un is cancelled. Politico reports:
President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that was scheduled for next month, saying Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” made the historic meeting untenable.
“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote to Kim in a letter released by the White House.
In the letter, the U.S. leader thanked Kim for the “wonderful dialogue” that had developed in recent weeks between the two nations while leaving the door open to a rescheduled summit in the future.
“If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write,” the president said. “The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.”
I still do a double take every time I see the words “President Donald Trump.” This can’t be happening, but it is. You can read the letter at the Politico link.
North Korea had threatened to cancel the meeting because of remarks made by Mike Pence on Fox News. CNN:
US Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea that it could end up like Libya if it fails to make a nuclear deal with Washington.
“There was some talk about the Libyan model last week, and you know, as the President made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal,” Pence said Monday.
Previous comments, by President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, that the administration was looking at Libya as a potential example for North Korea to follow, provoked alarm in Pyongyang.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi agreed to abandon his nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief in the early 2000s. Within years, Gadhafi was overthrown and killed by rebels backed by Washington.
A North Korean official responded by calling Pence “stupid” and a “political dummy.”
A North Korean official has lashed out at US Vice President Mike Pence and said Pyongyang is ready for a nuclear showdown if dialogue with the United States fails.
Choe Son Hui, a vice-minister in the North Korean Foreign Ministry, said if the US continued on its current path, she would suggest to North Korea‘s leadership that they reconsider the planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States,” Choe said in comments carried by North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency Thursday.Choe was responding to comments by Pence made Monday during a Fox News interview that she deemed “unbridled and impudent.
So, as Trump says repeatedly, “we’ll see what happens.”
Some Twitter reactions:
The art of deal folks! Trump just gave a little speech about the cancellation with Pence looking on adoringly.
So we’re still not sure what’s going on with Devin Nunes’ phony meeting to supposedly get classified information about an FBI informant who was asked to look into concerning contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. First it was going to be a meeting with just Intel officials, Nunes, and Trey Gowdy, no Democrats allowed. Then after Democrats and some Republicans objected, the White House agreed to have two meetings–the Nunes/Gowdy meeting followed by a briefing the Gang of Eight. Now apparently Adam Schiff will be included in the first meeting.
MSNBC is reporting that Schiff was seen going into the DOJ for the 12PM meeting. Vox is reporting that Paul Ryan will also be in the noon meeting, but I haven’t seen reports of him entering the DOJ.
We don’t yet know if John Kelly was included in the meeting, which would be completely inappropriate. Still Kelly doesn’t need to be there, because Nunes will report everything to Trump anyway. I haven’t heard anything about who will be in 2PM meeting yet. Paul Ryan has said he won’t be there.
If you didn’t see Rachel Maddow’s show on Tuesday, I’m sure you’ve heard about her interview with James Clapper, in which the former Intel chief said that Russian interference in the 2016 election clearly swung the result to Trump. PBS News Hour also interview Clapper: Here’s their report: Russia ‘turned’ election for Trump, Clapper believes.
Russians not only affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election — they decided it, says James Clapper, who served as the director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, and during the 2016 vote.
“To me, it just exceeds logic and credulity that they didn’t affect the election, and it’s my belief they actually turned it,” he told the PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff on Wednesday.
Clapper, who chronicles his life and career in his new book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence,” said Russians are “are bent on undermining our fundamental system here. And when a foreign nation, particularly an adversary nation, gets involved as much as they did in our political process, that’s a real danger to this country.”
Clapper also responded to Trump’s idiotic conspiracy theory about “spies” in his campaign.
Clapper called those accusations “distorted.” He said there is a “a big gulf between a spy in the traditional sense — employing spycraft or tradecraft — and an informant who is open about … who he was and what the questions he was asking.”
“The important thing was not to spy on the campaign but rather to determine what the Russians were up to. Were they trying to penetrate to campaign, gain access, gain leverage, gain influence, and that was the concern that the FBI had? … I think they were just doing their job and trying to protect our political system.”
Even Carter Page says he didn’t have any problems with the FBI source who spoke with him. CNN: Carter Page: I ‘never found anything unusual’ in conversations with FBI source.
Former Trump campaign aide Carter Page on Tuesday discussed his encounters with an FBI confidential source during the 2016 campaign, saying he “never found anything unusual.”
Page said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” that he first met the individual while attending an academic conference at Cambridge University in July 2016, a week after his visit to Russia.
“I never found anything unusual, whatsoever,” Page told Cooper about their conversations. Page said he and the source stayed in contact for more than a year, including meeting up back in the United States.
“We would talk about various things that are happening. And, you know, he’s someone who is, you know, long term, someone who had been in, part of the establishment in Republican politics. So typically around the convention time and halfway through a presidential year you keep bringing on more people in terms of potential supporters from the party, etc., and it just seemed like something like that,” he said.
In other news, the NFL released a new rule to prevent players from exercising their their free speech rights. The Daily Beast: The NFL’s New Anthem Policy Is Madness—But the Players Can Stop It.
In its own, typically blinkered and inimitable fashion, the NFL decided to dig in its heels on Wednesday, wrapping itself in the flag, and requiring players who are on the field to stand during the national anthem or face a series of penalties.
It’s a course of action that will fail, and spectacularly so. Ever since Colin Kaepernick—who has since been banished and is currently suing the NFL for collusion—began taking a knee, the league has wrung its hands, hemming and hawing as they tried to devise a means to stanch the tide of largely bad-faith criticism. In the end, they chose to silence its labor force….
Here’s the NFL’s newest solution to the grave and pressing matter of NFL players speaking out against systemic racism and the state-sanctioned violence perpetrated by law enforcement: Previously, all personnel were required to be on the field while someone belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner,” with no further specifications regarding their behavior. That is, if someone wanted to take a knee, the NFL couldn’t do squat.
Now the game operations manual has been adjusted, after two days of meetings between NFL owners and the league in Atlanta. Anyone who prefers not to place a hand on his heart during the anthem can remain in the locker room, but if they step on the field, they are required to “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”
Read the rest at the link.
Trump was thrilled with the NFL’s stupid decision, and yesterday he suggested that any players who didn’t want to stand and salute the flag should be kicked out of the country. The Washington Post: Trump: NFL players unwilling to stand for anthem maybe ‘shouldn’t be in the country’
NFL players unwilling to stand for the national anthem should be barred from playing and maybe “shouldn’t be in the country,” President Trump said in a television interview that aired Thursday.
The president was reacting to the adoption Wednesday of a new NFL policy that could bring disciplinary action for players who kneel or make other protests during the national anthem.
Trump said he objected to a provision in the new policy that will allow players to stay in the locker room while the song is played, but added: “Still, I think it’s good.”
“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe they shouldn’t be in the country,” Trump said in an interview that aired Thursday morning on “Fox & Friends” on Fox News.
I can’t wait until this fascist numbskull is impeached, forced to resign, or preferably sent to prison.
What stories are you following today?
Hillary Clinton has had a great run since her terrific performance in the first Democratic debate and ending with her 11 hours of testimony before the House Benghazi Committee and her interview with Rachel Maddow last night. Hillary’s poll numbers are going up, and yesterday she was endorsed by a major union, AFCME.
Since Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her bid for the White House, she has steadily slipped from inevitable nominee to flawed and vulnerable front-runner amid campaign mishaps and Clinton fatigue – and her rivals anticipated that it all would accelerate in recent days.
But in yet another reflection that little in the presidential election is going the way of the prognosticators, Clinton is bolting out of October with the wind at her back.
The House Benghazi committee that threatened to menace her campaign turned into a bust. The presidential debate that promised to give her rivals a boost instead gave her an opportunity to outshine them. And most important, the headache for her campaign that was Joe Biden disappeared altogether with his surprise Rose Garden announcement that he won’t pursue the Democratic nomination.
Biden’s exit Wednesday followed that of former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, a declared candidate. And by Friday morning, Lincoln Chafee, the former senator from and governor of Rhode Island, was pulling out of the race, nodding to Clinton’s “good week” as a reason.
“It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it?” Clinton asked the crowd after taking the stage Friday morning at a Democratic National Committee women’s leadership event in Washington.
Yes, it certainly has. Here’s Steve Benen at MSNBC: ‘The best 10-day stretch Clinton could have asked for.’
About a month ago…Hillary Clinton’s fortunes appeared to be taking a turn for the worse. Her poll support was dwindling; there was increased chatter surrounding Vice President Biden; Bernie Sanders was being cheered by massive crowds; and the political world, for reasons that have never been entirely clear to me, was fascinated with Clinton’s email server management.
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver explained that Clinton was “stuck in a poll-deflating feedback loop,” in which the national press hammered her for some perceived weakness, which caused her to lose public support, which produced weaker poll numbers, which caused the national press to hammer her again, starting the cycle anew.
But that was last month. This month, offers a very different take on Clinton’s candidacy. NBC News’ First Read had a good piece this morning:
She came. She saw. She – take your pick – conquered/thrived/survived. As a matter of pure political theater, yesterday’s Benghazi committee hearing was a victory for Hillary Clinton and an overwhelming defeat for House Republicans. And perhaps more importantly, it caps off the best 10-day stretch Clinton could have asked for. […]
At the beginning of this month, we told you how important October was going to be for Clinton’s presidential bid after her summer struggles: If she doesn’t end up as the nominee, we’ll be able to trace it back to the events in October. Conversely, if she DOES end up the nominee, it will be because of what happened in October. And so – with the reminder that anything can happen in politics – we think we have our answer to our October question.
If you didn’t see the interview with Rachel Maddow last night, please be sure to watch it. You can also read the transcript here. Hillary was very relaxed and sincere during Maddow’s questioning, and she never became the slightest bit defensive when asked about Bill Clinton’s policies on LGBT rights and about her long-time friends who supposedly might cause problems if she becomes President. I was so impressed! It was wonderful to hear her talk about reproductive rights and voting rights. Listening to her makes me realize again and again why we need a woman in the White House.
Rachel even asked Hillary about Alabama Republican Mo Brooks, who said he would start trying to impeach her on day one of her presidency.
Clinton laughed heartily when Maddow confronted her with the threat from Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks to try to depose Clinton on “day one” of her hypothetical presidency.
“Isn’t that pathetic?” the former secretary of state said with a smile. “It’s just laughable, it’s so totally ridiculous.” She characterized it as one of many GOP efforts to win over “the most intense, extreme part of their base.”
Chris Hayes seemed especially amazed by Clinton’s response to this question. I got the impression that he had bought into the Villagers’ narrative about Hillary and was suddenly discovering that she is a real person who is intelligent, competent, and comfortable in her own skin. Until now he has touted Bernie Sanders and Lawrence Lessig. Perhaps he’ll try to get Hillary as a guest now.
More about the interview:
Maddow questioned Clinton on several fronts, including Syria policy, the future of the Veterans Administration, and what Maddow described as a personal concern that the Clintons have surrounded themselves with too many old friends who would want to “fight your wars again.”
Maddow’s toughest questions addressed Bill Clinton’s legacy on civil rights and civil liberties. Many of President Obama’s accomplishments on those issues, Maddow argued, involved “undoing things from the Clinton administration.” In particular, Maddow cited Clinton’s embrace of the Defense of Marriage Act and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy blocking gays from serving openly in the military….
The Defense of Marriage Act, legislation Bill Clinton signed that defined marriage legally as between one man and one woman, was “a defensive action” to stymie what the Clintons believed was enough political momentum to amend the constitution to effectively bar gay marriage, Hillary Clinton said.
The tough-on-crime bill that her husband signed into law was a reaction to the “horrific crime rates of the 1980s,” the former first lady added.
“There was just a consensus across every community that something had to be done,” she said.
Clinton noted that she has since disavowed the law and was committed to reforming criminal justice policies. But Clinton framed her overall governing philosophy as one based on pragmatism, a realization that sometimes it’s necessary to choose the lesser evil.
“I think that sometimes as a leader in Democracy you are confronted with two bad choices. It is not an easy position to be in, and you have to try to think what is the least bad choice, and how do I try to cabin this off from having worse consequences?” she said.
More highlights at the link.
The consensus on both left and right about Clinton’s testimony before the Benghazi committee is that her GOP torturers did her a big favor.
Jeb Lund at Rolling Stone: Republicans’ 11-Hour Gift to Hillary Clinton.
Eleven hours is a long damn time. Eleven hours is long enough to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco with two stops along the way to watch a movie and a football game in their entirety. And over the course of 11 hours of hectoring, insinuation and questions that started out redundant and turned into echolalia, Hillary Clinton never lost her cool. If she’s elected president, she should send every Republican member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi a needlingly effusive thank you card. They practically picked her up and carried her toward the White House….
Despite being billed as a hard-nosed prosecutor, [Trey] Gowdy let the proceedings wander all over the place, to the point where it’s impossible to tell what the Republicans even wanted to know, let alone what they thought they could charge Hillary with. Maybe it was her Libya intervention policy itself that failed, inevitably leading to the four deaths in the Benghazi compound. Maybe it was her email. Maybe she emailed with her buddy Sidney Blumenthal too much and Ambassador Chris Stevens too little. Maybe she didn’t care about the security staff. Maybe she tried to spin the attack afterward. Maybe she goes on political talk shows.
The Republican members of the committee demonstrated their ignorance on two issues repeatedly over the day’s duration. Many seemed totally unaware of the contents of previous Benghazi reports and testimony. If this had been a conventional courtroom, Clinton’s attorneys could have objected with “asked and answered” and turned the proceedings into 11 hours of tape hiss.
Many of the Republicans also seemed ignorant of how the State Department even functions. Republican Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana showed off a pile of Hillary’s emails pertaining to Libya from 2011 and another from 2012, then insinuated that the much smaller 2012 pile indicated her administrative indifference to the issue. Her case of the piles signaled an unawareness of the face that the State Department conducts the majority of its communications through cables, and that things like telephones exist, and that one of the unfortunate byproducts of conducting business on the telephone is that it doesn’t generate an email afterward. Even the most generous interpretation of her questions can’t elide the fact that the disparity in emails could easily have indicated general conversational traffic about Libya that eventually shifted to the official cable system as the maintenance of the Benghazi compound became more urgent.
Read the rest at Rolling Stone.
From The Washington Post: Clinton’s curse and her salvation: Her enemies, by Karen Tumulty.
Throughout her political career, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s greatest curse — the reaction she provokes in her adversaries — has also been her salvation.
That was proved once again during her 11-hour inquisition by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, a Republican-engineered train wreck from which she emerged without a scratch.
Pale, hoarse and weary as she was, the former secretary of state left the hearing room looking stronger than she has at any point since she announced her second campaign for president.
Naturally, the rest of Villager Tumulty’s piece is a serious of digs, criticisms, and warnings of future stumbles, but she did have to admit that Hillary is doing great at for now.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend!
Hillary Clinton will testify before Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi “special committee” today, beginning at 10AM. I’m going to watch as much of the testimony as I can. If you’re watching too, please post your reactions in the comment thread. Unfortunately for Gowdy and the other GOP mutants on the joke of a committee, even the corporate media isn’t taking them seriously anymore.
From US News and World Report: The Gowdy Doody Show. Hillary Clinton’s appearance before the Benghazi Committee recalls less Watergate than Whitewater, by James Warren.
Yes, boy[s] and girls, it’s Gowdy Doody Time.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, on Thursday gavels to likely disorder the long awaited House select committee hearing on Benghazi, the latest in the rich tradition of congressional spectacles that often go nowhere.
Indeed, America had far more positive anticipation when “Buffalo Bob” Smith led a cheering throng of kids in the theme song of “Howdy Doody,” a 1950s mega-TV hit named after a puppet with 48 freckles (yes, civics mavens, this was before Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union)….
The investigation started as a dissection of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks by Islamic militants on two U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died.
We’ve paid for nine different congressional and internal probes and Gowdy’s has morphed into a look at Clinton’s emails and her use of a private email server while secretary of state. Its work alone has cost about $4.6 million – if only such GOP ardor was exhibited in pursuing President George W. Bush’s weapons of mass destruction claims against Saddam Hussein – even though it hasn’t even interviewed most of the defense, intelligence and White House officials it promised.
Instead, it is primed to take testimony from a small army that includes Clinton, speechwriters and the guy who oversaw the server.
Gowdy and his Hillary-suspicious Republicans are so sensitive to the claim of political pandering that they have strategized privately about their own decorum and presenting themselves as sober legislators. It’s like my 6-year-old prior to his first-grade class going to a suburban Chicago pumpkin patch Monday: Everybody promised to be on their best behavior on the bus.
More at US News.
Yesterday commenter Sara posted a link to an excellent Newsweek opinion piece by Kurt Eichenwald: Benghazi Biopsy: A Comprehensive Guide to One of America’s Worst Political Outrages.
That is the name of the “classified source” in an old email from Hillary Clinton released last week by Republicans purportedly investigating the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Under the instructions of the Benghazi committee’s chairman, Republican Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Koussa’s name was blacked-out on the publicly issued email, as Republicans proclaimed revealing his identity would compromise national security. The media ran with it, saying Clinton had sent classified information through her personal email account.
But the CIA never said the name was secret. Nor did the Defense Intelligence Agency or the FBI. No, Koussa’s role as an intelligence source is about as classified as this column. He is the former intelligence chief and foreign minister of Libya. In 2011, he fled that country for Great Britain, where he provided boodles of information to MI6 and the CIA. Documents released long ago show Koussa’s cooperation. Government officials have openly discussed it. His name appears in newspapers with casual discussions about his assistance. Sanctions by the British and the Americans against Koussa were lifted because of his help, and he moved to Qatar. All of that is publicly known.
But, as they have time and again, the Republicans on the Benghazi committee released deceitful information for what was undoubtedly part of a campaign—as Kevin McCarthy of the House Republican leadership has admitted—to drive down Clinton’s poll numbers. Republicans have implied—and some journalists have flatly stated—that Clinton was reckless and may have broken the law by sending an email that included thirdhand hearsay mentioning Koussa’s name. The reality is that the Republicans continue to be reckless with the truth.
And why is this such an outrage?
The historical significance of this moment can hardly be overstated, and it seems many Republicans, Democrats and members of the media don’t fully understand the magnitude of what is taking place. The awesome power of government—one that allows officials to pore through almost anything they demand and compel anyone to talk or suffer the shame of taking the Fifth Amendment—has been unleashed for purely political purposes. It is impossible to review what the Benghazi committee has done as anything other than taxpayer-funded political research of the opposing party’s leading candidate for president. Comparisons from America’s past are rare. Richard Nixon’s attempts to use the IRS to investigate his perceived enemies come to mind. So does Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting during the 1950s, with reckless accusations of treason leveled at members of the State Department, military generals and even the secretary of the Army. But the modern McCarthys of the Benghazi committee cannot perform this political theater on their own—they depend on reporters to aid in the attempts to use government for the purpose of destroying others with bogus “scoops” ladled out by members of Congress and their staffs. These journalists will almost certainly join the legions of shamed reporters of the McCarthy era as it becomes increasingly clear they are enablers of an obscene attempt to undermine the electoral process.
The consequences, however, are worse than the manipulation of the electoral process. By using Benghazi for political advantage, the Republicans have communicated to global militants that, through even limited attacks involving relatively few casualties, they can potentially influence the direction of American elections. The Republicans sent that same message after the Boston Marathon bombing, where they condemned Obama for failing to—illegally—send the American perpetrators to Guantánamo, among other things. They slammed the president because federal law enforcement agents read the failed underwear bomber his rights after they arrested him in 2009. Never mind that federal agents did the exact same thing under President George W. Bush when they arrested the failed shoe bomber years earlier. Republicans even lambasted Obama when he spoke about ISIS decapitating journalists, saying the president did not sound angry enough.
Please read the rest at Newsweek.
J.J. wanted me to call attention to another outrageous story that has been somewhat overshadowed by the political goings on in the U.S. this week.
Washington Post: Netanyahu says a Palestinian gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust.
Jerusalem – In a speech here Tuesday evening, Netanyahu sought to explain the surge in violence in Israel and the West Bank by reaching for historical antecedents. He said that Jews living in what was then British Palestine faced many attacks in 1920, 1921 and 1929 — all instigated by the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who allied himself with the Nazis during World War II.
Then Netanyahu dropped his bombshell. He said: “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time; he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”
Netanyahu, the son of a historian, said the mufti played “a central role in fomenting the Final Solution,” as the Nazis termed their plan to exterminate the Jews.
The remarks were made in a speech to the World Zionist Congress about “the 10 big lies” told by Palestinians and their backers.
As supporters of the Israeli leader wondered what he was doing, his critics said that his claims were outrageous enough to give cover to Holocaust deniers.
The speech came on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to Germany. After Netanyahu’s outrageous claim, Angela Merkel chided him, saying that Germans know that the “final solution” was a German plan. Time Magazine reports:
“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor, according to the Independent. “This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten and I see no reason to change our view of history in any way.”
From The Daily Beast: What Benjamin Netanyahu’s Insane Holocaust Claim Really Means.
It was factually wrong and morally outrageous for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say that a Palestinian mufti gave Hitler the idea for the Holocaust. Almost the entire mainstream of historians, scholars, and politicians has now said so.
The question, though, is why he did it—and the answer is that it was an unintentional, Romney-47%-moment at which a commonplace partisan lie is suddenly revealed to the world. In Romney’s case, it was the Republican talking point that half of America depends on government welfare. In Netanyahu’s, it’s that the Israel/Palestine conflict is actually a result of Arab anti-Semitism.
Why did Netanyahu do it?
First, Netanyahu’s remarks were off the cuff. The transcript of his speech at the 37th Zionist Congress makes that clear. The entire speech was conversational in tone, with corrections and colloquialisms, and the particular reference to al-Husseini was an aside.
Its context was Netanyahu talking about the “big lie” that the Israeli government is seeking to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque—which is indeed a big lie spread widely on pro-Palestine social media. In that context, he mentioned that al-Husseini had told a similar lie in the 1920s, and by the way, al-Husseini supported the Holocaust too.
It was an aside within an aside. But precisely because it was off the cuff, it offers a valuable peek behind the curtain of Israeli nationalist ideology.
Like Romney’s comment about the 47%, comments like Netanyahu’s are made all the time on the Israeli Right. They’re meant for domestic consumption, to inspire the nationalist base. The Arabs hate us, anti-Zionism is just anti-Semitism, and most importantly, the Intifada is about Jew-hatred, not resistance to the occupation.
Meanwhile, in Israel hatred of Palestinians is festering. From the World Socialist Website: Israel: Racist mob lynches migrant as violence intensifies.
An angry Jewish mob lynched an unarmed Eritrean migrant worker in the southern city of Beer Sheba after an Israeli security guard repeatedly shot him on Sunday. The crowd cursed and kicked him, chanting, “Death to Arabs!” “Arabs out!” and “Am Israel Hai!” (“The people of Israel still live”).
The murder underscores the noxious atmosphere of xenophobia, racism and fear that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has stoked up in a bid to deflect rising social discontent among Jewish Israelis, whose living conditions are in many cases only marginally better than those of the Palestinians. At the last elections, Netanyahu urged Jewish Israelis to vote, saying that “swarms of Arabs” were going to the polling stations.
Ultra-nationalist Jewish politicians have encouraged the mobilisation of vigilante groups and fascistic mobs that go on the rampage while the police stand and watch. Settler gangs that murder Palestinians and attack and destroy their property go unpunished. Now, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has openly encouraged Jewish Israelis to arm themselves and take vigilante action.
The Eritrean, 29-year-old Haptom Zerhom, had been working as a gardener in a plant nursery in a village near Beer Sheba for the last three years. He was on his way to collect his renewed work visa when 21-year-old Muhannad al-Okbi, a Bedouin Israeli, shot and killed an Israeli soldier and wounded 10 others, including four police officers, at Beer Sheba’s central bus station.
The police shot al-Okbi and then shot Zerhom, believing him to be al-Okbi’s accomplice. As Yedioth Ahronoth’s headline made clear, Zerhom was shot “Just because of his skin colour.”
As Zerhom came under attack from the mob, a bystander found his visa and held it up, shouting, “He’s Eritrean, he’s not a terrorist.”
No one heard him above the melee and Zerhom died of his injuries.
Shades of the Old South.
Finally, from Black Agenda Report: Black Lives Don’t Matter in Israel.
If you want to observe a racist lynch mob, go to Israel, the “world’s worst apartheid state.” After being shot by police, an innocent Eritrean immigrant was pursued by an Israeli mob that “kicked him, threw chairs and benches at his head and shouted ‘son of a whore,’ ‘break his head’ and more to the point, ‘Kill him!’” But of course, no one will be punished, and the U.S. Black Misleadership Class will say nothing.
The United States does not have a monopoly on the lynch law murder of black people. Israel, both America’s client state and master, is awash in racist state-sponsored violence. Palestinians are usually the intended targets, but Africans are inevitably caught in this terrorism too. The mob murder of Mulu Habtom Zerhom reveals everything that the world needs to know about Israeli apartheid and the settler mentality which it exemplifies.
Zerhom was an Eritrean asylum seeker living in Israel, confined to one of the camps used to hold Africans. He was at a bus station where a Bedouin man shot an Israeli soldier. Zerhom was trying to flee but was himself shot by the police. Video footage shows him lying bleeding and incapacitated as a mob of Israelis kicked him, threw chairs and benches at his head and shouted “son of a whore,” “break his head” and more to the point, “Kill him!”
Unbelievable! Will the U.S. corporate media follow up on this story? Stay tuned.
This is an open thread. Please feel free to comment on any topic or post your comments on the Benghazi hearings.
Yesterday J.J. posted an article from Vox by Andrew Prokop that discussed the Politico article about Joe Biden that I blogged about on Tuesday and the idiotic obsession the media has with politicians and authenticity.
Since Joe Biden has been weighing a run for president, members of the press have repeatedly praised him for his “authenticity.” This has largely been in contrast to Hillary Clinton, who is frequently pilloried by the media as secretive and calculating, and has its members yearning for a more natural candidate. “With Joe Biden, what you see is what you get,” Mike Barnicle wrote for the Daily Beast.
Even the anecdotes about Biden’s political calculations have portrayed him as a conflicted, grieving father. On August 1, New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd narrated a heart-wrenching private moment that occurred among the Biden family. Dowd wrote that the vice president’s dying son Beau, his face “partially paralyzed,” sat down with his “anguished” father and urged him to run for president — “arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”
Now it turns out that her source — according to a report by Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere today — was Joe Biden himself.
As Prokop points out, if Hillary had done this, she would be “ripped to shreds.” But Prokop’s main point is that all politicians are inherently calculating, trying to present themselves to the public in the best light.
Some politicians — like Biden and John McCain (particularly in 2000) — are deemed to be genuine individuals, while others — Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and Mitt Romney — are viewed as calculating, contrived phonies.
The rationale for these judgments differs from candidate to candidate. They could involve flip-flops on issues, real or perceived dishonesty, or even just wooden campaign styles.
But frequently, “authenticity” seems to be a synonym for “better at working the press” or “more fun to cover.” The candidates who are more extroverted and freewheeling and less scripted — and those who joke with the press and give them lots of access — tend to get that label.
It’s an odd construct. The campaign trail is not in any sense a “natural” environment, and presidential contenders’ words could have very real consequences — it makes sense for a candidate to be guarded and careful about what he or she says. But reporters get bored covering candidates who give the same stump speech all the time, and yearn for more excitement in their lives.
Importantly, once a candidate gets the “authentic” label, his (it’s usually “his”) flip-flops, calculations and strategic acts are excused, or at least viewed as unrelated to his true character.
Prokop refers to an October 1 column by Brian Nyhan: Hillary Clinton’s Authenticity Problem, and Ours.
Is Hillary Rodham Clintonnot presenting her true self to voters? As with candidates like Mitt Romney and Al Gore, claims that she is inauthentic have fueled endless cycles of negative coverage of her campaign.
The refrain that Mrs. Clinton is calculating and inauthentic has recurred throughout her political career. During this campaign cycle, reporters and columnists have already questioned who the “Real Hillary” is, said that she “wrestles with the authenticity issue,” and described just being herself on the campaign trail as “a tricky proposition.” The Daily Beast’s Mike Barnicle reflected the conventional wisdom in writing that the “nagging question” that “won’t go away” is “Who is she? Really, who is she?”
Nyhan also points out that once the media has labeled a politician as either “authentic” or “inauthentic,” this perception is set in stone and can never be altered.
Once these narratives develop, candidates like Mrs. Clinton can get stuck in what I’ve called the authenticity doom loop — the same fate that plagued Mr. Gore and Mr. Romney. In this phase, candidates are criticized for not being sufficiently authentic and urged to reveal their true selves. But any efforts to demonstrate authenticity prompt the news media to point out that the candidate is acting strategically and is therefore actually still inauthentic. This coverage in turn motivates further efforts to reveal the “real” person, and the pattern then repeats.
Mrs. Clinton has gone through this cycle many times, which leads to headlines like “The Making of Hillary 5.0” and “Re-re-re-introducing Hillary Clinton.” Consider, for instance, a recent column by The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who criticized her for “the latest of many warm-and-fuzzy makeovers — perhaps the most transparent phoniness since Al Gore discovered earth tones.” He calls for Mrs. Clinton to “shed those who orchestrate these constant makeovers” so she can “be spontaneous — and regain some semblance of her authentic self.”
I think it’s a bit much to compare Hillary with Mitt Romney or Al Gore. She’s not “wooden” except to people who already hate her and just accept the decisions of the pundits. Hillary comes across as genuine to people who have open minds. I saw this happen in 2008 in New Hampshire and in a number of important swing states. I think it’s mainly the media who hold onto this perception of her. She is just going to have to be tough and fight through it–expecting nothing but negativity from most of the media.
Fortunately, there are some writers who know Hillary well and view her in a positive light. Here’s Gene Lyons on the recent admission by Rep. Kevin McCarthy that the Benghazi select committee has never been anything except a way to lower Hillary’s poll numbers.
To hardly anybody’s surprise, it turns out that the “vast right-wing conspiracy” has been right in front of our eyes. Always was, actually, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s politically disastrous on-air admission made plain. Or maybe you thought a seventh Benghazi investigation lasting as long as the Pearl Harbor and JFK assassination probes combined was exactly what America needed.
Hillary has already released an ad in response to McCarthy’s admission.
She has also agreed to testify before the committee this month. If she does testify, Lyons warns the committee’s chairman Trey Gowdy that he’s not likely to get what he wants from her.
Chairman Gowdy would be well advised to invest in a pair of super-absorbent Depends when Hillary testifies before his committee on October 22. All he’s got is a handful of long-disproved conspiracy theories and selectively edited witness transcripts leaked to the news media to create a false impression.
So he’s an ex-federal prosecutor. Whoop-de-doo. Arkansas was overrun with them during the late Whitewater investigation….
As the Washington Post‘s GOP-oriented columnist Kathleen Parker points out, Rep. McCarthy has “tried to cram the bad genie back into the bottle, but the damage has been done and can’t be undone….any previous suspicions that Republicans were just out to get Clinton have cleared the bar of reasonable doubt.”
Meanwhile, if Trey Gowdy doesn’t already know that Hillary Clinton’s a lot smarter and tougher than he is, he’s about to find out. Truthfully, they’d be better advised to fold the committee and file some weasel-worded report.
Lyons has a few choice words for the media too:
Then there’s our esteemed national news media, repeatedly burned by inaccurate leaks from Gowdy’s committee. The New York Times has run one phony exclusive after another. First, her famous emails were illegal, except they’re not. Then they were contrary to regulations enacted, oops, 18 months after she left office. Next Hillary was the subject of an FBI criminal probe. Except that too turned out to be false. Now they’re making a big deal out of the exact date she changed email addresses. Seriously.
And why? Because as Bill Clinton recently explained to Fareed Zakaria, they’re essentially fops and courtiers, “people who get bored talking about what’s your position on student loan relief or dealing with the shortage of mental health care or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America, even in small towns of rural America.”
Let the Villagers call Hillary “inauthentic.” They’ve been doing it since Bill Clinton first ran for President, and they’re not going to stop. She just has to go out and talk directly to voters and let them judge whether she’s a real, genuine individual. I believe she can win this thing despite the tired old media narratives.
A few more headlines:
It looks like Jeb Bush has been dubbed “inauthentic” by the media too. From Politico: Jeb Bush’s identity crisis.
Here’s an old Politico story on Biden that I got from the Vox piece on authenticity: Ex-Biden aide pens angry tell-all.
Have you heard? Hillary has a close circle of friends and advisers who will ruin her chances to be President. Vanity Fair: How Hillary Clinton’s Loyal Confidants Could Cost Her the Election
Here’s something from AbeBooks for J.J., Beata, and anyone else who loves vintage Hollywood photos.
An important, heartbreaking article from The Guardian about Amanda Kimbrough, the woman in Alabama who has been imprisoned for having a stillbirth: Alone in Alabama: dispatches from an inmate jailed for her son’s stillbirth.
George Zornick at The Nation: Hillary Clinton Just Made Passage of the TPP Much More Difficult.
Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair: Why Donald Trump Will Always Be a “Short-Fingered Vulgarian.”
Ben Carson had a gun stuck in his ribs at Popeye’s, according to The Hill: Carson: I faced a gunman.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.
I’m beginning with this lovely painting by Matisse, because I’m trying to calm myself. I’ve been sitting here pondering what makes today’s Republicans so strange. I sometimes feel as if they are another species. They see the world completely differently than the people I grew up with and the people I have known as an adult. Many of my family members were Republicans, and their political views were annoying; but generally I could get along with them as long as we didn’t talk about politics. They didn’t seem like alien beings.
My grandparents were conservative Republicans and so were some of my uncles and aunts. Others in the family were liberals. Yet we all got along by just avoiding touch subjects when we were together. The Republicans in our family were just like the rest of us–they may have thought differently about some things, but that didn’t keep them from being loving and caring people, and they didn’t look different from the rest of us.
My parents’ closest friends were a couple who came from the South. They had Southern accents and they were conservative Republicans. They were even kind of eccentric in some ways–the husband was extremely thrifty and didn’t believe in buying anything on credit; they paid cash for everything–even houses and cars. But they were also intelligent, caring, friendly people and they didn’t look weird like so many GOP politicians do today.
Many of today’s Republican politicians seem hateful and angry, and many of them appear ignorant of how the U.S. government operates and the Constitution on which it is based. As we all know by now, many of these people–mostly men–are also ignorant about female anatomy and how birth control works, and quite frankly, they often appear to hate and fear women generally. They are also ignorant of basic scientific facts.
What is wrong with these people, and where do they come from? Why do so many of Tea Party-style Republicans actually look weird?
Take South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, who has been going around ranting and raving about Hillary Clinton’s emails Who is this guy? Tell me he’s not weird-looking.
Here’s a profile shot.
Does his head really come to a point at the top? If not, what’s with the hair? Like many of his Southern Republican colleagues, he looks sickly, pale, and washed out like the banjo player in Deliverance.
Gowdy apparently never heard the old saying about people in glass houses not throwing stones, because he got himself in a little trouble yesterday. From the Washington Post: Rep. Trey Gowdy retreats from Benghazi event.
In May, just after he was picked to lead the House select committee on Benghazi, Rep. Trey Gowdy pledged not to raise money off the 2012 attacks in Libya, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
But it was revealed Monday that the South Carolina Republican was scheduled to help a group raise funds at an event called “Beyond Benghazi.”
After The Washington Post inquired about the event, a committee spokesman said that the subject of the fundraiser hadn’t been cleared with the congressman’s office and that Gowdy was pulling out.
Yeah, right. Gowdy had no clue what a fund-raising event called “Beyond Benghazi” was all about.
“He has not raised money using Benghazi, and will not speak about Benghazi at fundraising events. Having been made aware of this group’s plan, he no longer will be participating in the event,” the spokesman, Jamal Ware, said by e-mail.
Later Monday, the event was canceled.The Republican Party of Virginia planned to host Gowdy at a $75-a-head reception that was called “Beyond Benghazi.” You could buy a table for 10 for $1,250 or co-chair the event for $5,000, which includes the table, a “VIP” at your table and a special shout-out.
Now look at Tom Cotton, the organizer of the bizarre GOP open letter to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
To me he looks a lot like Gomer Pyle.
The strange and borderline treasonous letter signed by 47 GOP Senators actually misstated the way treaties are described in the Constitution and how they are to be handled by the Senate. Ishaan Tharoor at The Washington Post: The misguided, condescending letter from Republican senators to Iran.
As first reported by Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin, a group of 47 Republican senators signed a letter addressed to “the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” warning them not to be too optimistic about ongoing negotiations with the Obama administration over Tehran’s nuclear program. It was organized by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and advised the Iranian leadership that “anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.”
The letter is brief, and can be read in full here. Republican lawmakers are opposed to the Obama administration’s current overtures to Iran, a disagreement that was put into stark relief last week by the polarizing speech delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint meeting of Congress. This is yet another tactic to scupper a potential deal.
It starts with the patronizing premise that “you may not fully understand our Constitutional system” and goes on to explain, first, that any international treaty will need to be ratified by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress and that, unlike the president of the United States, senators “may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms.” The message to the mullahs: don’t get comfortable with any deal, because we’re going to scrap it as soon as we can.
Whatever its effects in Washington, the letter is almost farcically condescending in word and tone. Iran’s leaders are well aware of how the United States works. The country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, spent the better part of a decade as the Iranian envoy to the United Nations; like many others in the Iranian cabinet, he was partly educated in the United States.
It reflects the willful ignorance on the part of many hawks in Washington who insist on seeing Iran purely as an irrational actor and a permanent regional threat. As WorldViews discussed earlier, Iran is problematic in many ways, and its regime plays a role in fueling proxy wars in parts of the Middle East. But one can argue that the same is true of Washington’s chief Arab ally in the region, Saudi Arabia.
At the Lawfare blog, Jack Goldsmith wrote that Tom Cotton and his Senate colleagues made an “embarrassing” mistake in their strange letter.
The letter states that “the Senate must ratify [a treaty] by a two-thirds vote.” But as the Senate’s own web page makes clear: “The Senate does not ratify treaties. Instead, the Senate takes up a resolution of ratification, by which the Senate formally gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification” (my emphasis). Or, as this outstanding 2001 CRS Report on the Senate’s role in treaty-making states (at 117): “It is the President who negotiates and ultimately ratifies treaties for the United States, but only if the Senate in the intervening period gives its advice and consent.” Ratification is the formal act of the nation’s consent to be bound by the treaty on the international plane. Senate consent is a necessary but not sufficient condition of treaty ratification for the United States. As the CRS Report notes: “When a treaty to which the Senate has advised and consented … is returned to the President,” he may “simply decide not to ratify the treaty.”
Even more embarrassing, Iran’s U.S. educated foreign minister responded to the GOP letter and proceeded to school the Senators on how international law works. From The Tehran Times: Zarif to U.S. senators: You are ignorant of international law.
Many of Iran’s leaders were educated in the U.S. But where did Tom Cotton and his buddies learn about the Constitution, separation of powers, and how foreign policy is handled in the U.S.? Amazingly, he graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and did more graduate work at Claremont Graduate University. Was he just not paying attention?
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also graduated from Harvard Law and got his undergraduate degree from Princeton. He also signed the letter and seems confused about the Constitutional duties of the President. He actually wrote an op-ed for Politico in which he claimed Obama was “acting like a monarch.”
From Politifact in May 2014: Ted Cruz says Barack Obama is first president ‘who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore’.
Critics of President Barack Obama have charged that he has regularly exceeded the powers of his office in selectively enforcing the law. Their examples include making recess appointments, issuing executive orders, delaying provisions of his health care law, refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and declining to deport certain categories of young illegal immigrants.
At the 2014 CPAC conference, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reiterated this point to the audience of conservative activists.
Referring to Obama, Cruz said, “This president of the United States is the first president we’ve ever had who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore.”
Politifact concluded, based on interviews with historians that several presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush have “ignored specific laws or constitutional protections,” but they don’t actually offer any specific examples of Obama doing so.
Are these Republicans simply blinded by ideology or are they willfully ignorant, despite attention top U.S. Universities? I honestly don’t know the answer. I know it’s rude of me to call attention to how they look, but I can’t help wondering why so many of the GOP “young turks” look like their parents were cousins. For example, Louisiana’s recently elected Senator “crazy eyes” Bill Cassidy, who looks a lot like Frankenstein’s monster. Cassidy also signed Cotton’s letter to Iran.
Even some of the older GOP Senators who signed the letter have that crazy look:
Am I nuts? I don’t even know if this post makes any sense. Lately I feel as if this country is falling apart. And more and more I get the feeling that Republicans just aren’t like you and me. Where do these people come from and what is wrong with them?
This is an open thread. You can discuss this post or anything else you like. Have a nice Tuesday, everyone!