Tuesday Reads: Last Words on Kobe Bryant

Good Morning!!

Two days after the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, there has been almost no attention paid to the other 7 people who died in the tragic accident. Read about them at Buzzfeed News: Teenage Girls And Beloved Coaches Were Among The 9 Victims Of The Helicopter Crash That Killed Kobe Bryant.

John Altobelli, a 56-year-old head baseball coach at Orange Coast College, along with his wife, Keri, and youngest daughter, Alyssa, 13, were among those who died.

Alyssa and Gianna were teammates at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy. The team was set to play against a Fresno youth team on Sunday afternoon, the Fresno Bee reported.

John Altobelli had been a coach and mentor at Orange Coast College (OCC) for 27 years, helping many student-athletes earn scholarships so they could play at the four-year level, the college said in a statement.

“Coach Alto,” the college said, helped lead the Pirates to more than 700 wins and four state championships. He was named the National Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association in 2019.

Altobelli family

The Altobelli’s are survived by two other children, a son JJ and daughter Lexi, now orphans.

Christina Mauser, 38, was the assistant coach for the Mamba Academy basketball team.

“My kids and I are devastated,” her husband, Matt Mauser, wrote in a Facebook post. “We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash.”

The couple has three children, ages 11, 9, and 3….

Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter, Payton, also died in the crash. Payton was a basketball player, NBC News reported.

Todd Schmidt, the former principal at Harbor View Elementary School, wrote a heartfelt tribute to Payton, his former student, and her mother, calling them “two gorgeous human beings.”

“While the world mourns the loss of a dynamic athlete and humanitarian, I mourn the loss of two people just as important…their impact was just as meaningful, their loss will be just as keenly felt, and our hearts are just as broken,” Schmidt wrote in a Facebook post.

Christina Mauser

Chester leaves behind a husband Chris and two 16-year-old sons Hayden and Riley.

Ara Zobayan, the pilot of the helicopter, was a beloved figure in the aviation community. He was “instrument-rated” which meant he was able to fly in fog and clouds, KTLA reporter Christina Pascucci said.

Zobayan was Bryant’s private pilot, according to one of his flight students, Darren Kemp.

So many people–including young children–are devastated by these deaths, but all the attention has gone to the former basketball player. I still can’t get past my anger at the lionizing of Bryant, who was credibly accused of rape and never publicly dealt with the damage he did to the life of a 19-year-old woman. Ever since I saw the way the basketball stars were treated as if they could do no wrong in my high school, I’ve resented the way athletes are allowed to get away with almost anything, especially violence against women.

Sarah and Payton Chester

Somewhere the woman that Bryant raped is watching the coverage of his death and most likely reliving the trauma she experienced as she sees so much praise heaped upon her abuser.

On Sunday, Jill Filipovic wrote that Bryant has a “complicated legacy.” No, it’s not really complicated. He was a huge basketball star with a giant ego and he got away with rape. He’s certainly not alone in that. Gavin Polone at the Hollywood Reporter:

I guess our society thinks that certain transgressions by celebrities can be forgiven. What’s perplexing is the con­trast between which wrongs are and aren’t forgivable. Based on what I’ve read, I believe Kobe most probably raped a woman and still was paid $26 million in 2015 by Nike, Hublot, Panini Authentic, Turkish Airlines and others to endorse their products; Ben Roethlisberger was accused of raping two women and still made more than $35 million for one year as an NFL quarterback; Greg Hardy certainly beat the shit out of his ex-girlfriend and was signed to play defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys; Jameis Winston was sued for the rape of a student at FSU and didn’t even break stride to the NFL (having watched the victim’s recounting of events, I believe her). Both R. Kelly and Michael Jackson were accused of sexual misconduct, yet the former still is performing and the latter practically has been deified.

But what isn’t forgiven? Killing someone? Nope, Ray Lewis was accused of that, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and now is an NFL analyst for ESPN. Donte Stallworth killed a pedestrian while driving drunk and played the next year. So violence, especially against women, can be excused.

Ara Zobayan

Here’s a piece at Vice by Albert Berneko that counters Filipovic’s “complicated legacy” notion: Kobe Bryant Was No More Complicated Than Anyone Else.

Maybe the actual very last thing the world needs or ever will need, ever again, is for one more man’s power or fame or brilliance or death to be used as a reason to throw the word “complicated” over his abuses like an obscuring blanket. It’s a dishonest sidestep, anyway. Everyone is complicated. You can be a tortured mass of endless complications and still never sexually assault anyone.

What the fact of having committed, or having credibly been accused of committing, sexual assault complicates for an acclaimed celebrity is the feelings—or maybe, at most, the immediate social situation—of those who’d like to go right on celebrating him. Ironically, or maybe not ironically, nothing smooths this complication more easily than the word “complicated”: Be sure to include it in your hosannas. It is a way to skip past the discomfort and ambiguity of actually grappling with the acclaimed celebrity’s monstrousness straight to the part where you congratulate yourself for having done so. I have integrated the fullness of this imperfect person; when I now return to praising him, be sure that it is with the appropriate level of personal internal conflicted feeling.

It seems reasonable to guess that former Los Angeles Laker star Kobe Bryant was a complicated person, because he was a person and not the Archangel Gabriel. More relevant to a summation of his life, he was also a great and spectacular basketball player, one of the biggest stars in the history of the sport, and a powerful man who, in 2003 and at the height of his celebrity, was credibly accused of raping a 19-year-old hotel employee and then avoided a trial by leaking his accuser’s identity and shaming her into silence. I don’t think these things complicate each other, unless you happen to believe there’s a personal moral component to being good at making contested jump-shots.

Marty Baron

To top off the protect-Kobe hysteria, Marty Baron, editor of the Washington Post–who was editor of the Boston Globe when the Spotlight team exposed sexual abuse in the Catholic Church–publicly shamed one of his reporters, Felicia Sonmez who is a survivor of sexual assault.

Vanity Fair:  “There’s Incredible Outrage”: Washington Post Newsroom Revolts after Reporter Suspended for Kobe Bryant Tweets.

As the collective grief crested on Twitter following TMZ’s shocking scoop that Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash, Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez had a different idea. She shared a 2016 Daily Beast story detailing a rape allegation made against the NBA legend more than a decade earlier. “Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality,” she tweeted Sunday, “even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling.”

Vitriol and threats streamed into Sonmez’s inbox, which she relayed on Twitter, along with screenshots of the attacks. The Bryant-related tweets have since been deleted. By Sunday afternoon, Somnez had been suspended—placed on “administrative leave”—a move that’s prompted anger and confusion inside the Post newsroom. “There’s incredible outrage. The outrage is like nothing I’ve ever seen here,” one Post source told us. “People just feel like it was way over the top.”

The Daily Beast article was an exhaustive chronicle of the allegations against Bryant and his response to them. While far from flattering to Bryant, it described an inescapable part of his history, and, fraught as social media can be in the current world of journalism, it was difficult for many to see how posting it was out of bounds. Post staffers were looking for clarity Monday after managing editor Tracy Grant said in a statement that Sonmez violated the newsroom’s social media policy and “displayed poor judgment that undermined the work of her colleagues.”

Felicia Sonmez

I hope you’ll go read the rest. Sonmez spent the night in a hotel after her address was posted on-line by outraged Kobe fans. I’d also suggest reading this piece in the Post by Eric Wemple: The Post’s misguided suspension of Felicia Sonmez over Kobe Bryant tweets.

I’ll be quiet about this now, but I just had to get it off my chest. I can acknowledge that millions of people are sad about the death of their idol. I just think there should be some recognition that the way we treat (male) athletes in our culture means that the people who dare to say no to their desires are publicly shamed and punished.

Some other news stories to check out today:

On the Bolton revelations:

NYT: Bolton Was Concerned That Trump Did Favors for Autocratic Leaders, Book Says.

WaPo: Bolton book roils Washington as onetime allies turn on Trump’s former national security adviser.

Barbara McQuade at WaPo: Trump waived executive privilege when he called Bolton a liar.

Daily Beast: Top Ukraine Official: I Trusted Bolton More Than Anyone.

Other impeachment news and comment:

Axios: Republicans brace for domino effect on witnesses.

Impeachment expert Frank Bowman at The Atlantic: Trump’s Defense Against Subpoenas Makes No Legal Sense.

WaPo: Trump’s impeachment defense: Who is paying the president’s lawyers?

Jamelle Bouie at NYT: Mitch McConnell’s Complicity Has Deep Roots.

Vetting Bernie Sanders (finally)

NYT: Bernie Sanders and His Internet Army.

David Frum at the Atlantic: Bernie Can’t Win.

Richard North Patterson at the Bulwark: This Is How Trump Would Destroy Bernie Sanders.

Jonathan Chait at NY Mag: Running Bernie Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity.

Other campaign news:

NYT: How Some People of Color Feel Inside the Buttigieg Campaign.

Politico: Why Biden scaled back in New Hampshire.

What stories are you following today?

 


Tuesday Reads: NYT and WaPo Join With Fox News and Koch Brothers to Destroy Hillary Clinton’s Candidacy

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Good Morning!!

It appears that The New York Times and The Washington Post are determined to help the Koch brothers elect Scott Walker to the presidency in 2016. Dakinikat alerted me to this story by Dylan Byers at Politico:

New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News strike deals for anti-Clinton research.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have made exclusive agreements with a conservative author for early access to his opposition research on Hillary Clinton, a move that has confounded members of the Clinton campaign and some reporters, the On Media blog has confirmed.

“Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” will debut on May 5. But the Times, the Post and Fox have already made arrangements with author Peter Schweizer to pursue some of the material included in his book, which seeks to draw connections between Clinton Foundation donations and speaking fees and Hillary Clinton’s actions as secretary of state. Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute, a conservative research group, and previously served as an adviser to Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Naturally, Byers article is accompanied by an unflattering photo of Hillary.

Fox News’ use of Schweizer’s book has surprised no one. The bulk of the network’s programming is conservative, and the book’s publisher, HarperCollins, is owned by News Corporation. But the Times and Post’s decision to partner with a partisan researcher has raised a few eyebrows. Some Times reporters view the agreement as unusual, sources there said. Still others defended the agreement, noting that it was no different from using a campaign’s opposition research to inform one’s reporting — so long as that research is fact-checked and vetted. A spokesperson for the Times did not provide comment by press time.

In an article about the book on Monday, the Times said “Clinton Cash” was “potentially more unsettling” than other conservative books about Clinton “both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book.

Anyone who calls either the Times or the Post “liberal” these days is either lying or ignorant. It both papers are morphing into something resembling The Daily Mail.

Peter Schweizer

Peter Schweizer

The author of the new “book,” Peter Schweizer is nothing but propagandist, as Media Matters demonstrates:

Clinton Cash Author Peter Schweizer’s Long History Of Errors, Retractions, And Questionable Sourcing.

Media should be cautious with Republican activist and strategist Peter Schweizer’s new book Clinton Cash. Schweizer has a disreputable history of reporting marked by errors and retractions, with numerous reporters excoriating him for facts that “do not check out,” sources that “do not exist,” and a basic failure to practice “Journalism 101.”

Read a compendium of evidence at the Media Matters link.

Echidne of the Snakes asks whether the Times and Post deals with Schweizer are ethical.

The Ethics of Journalism 101: Is it OK for NYT and WaPo to use Pre-Publication Opposition Research on Hillary Clinton?

I see three potentially serious problems with these exclusive arrangements.

First, depending on what newspapers are supposed to have as their objective*, getting opposition research on only one candidate can bias the reporting in the papers.  If conservative muckrakers are more diligent than liberal ones, the American people (how I love to be able to write that!) will be mislead, assuming that the Republican candidates might also have all sorts of skeletons in their mahogany cupboards.

Second, assuming that those at the newspapers know how to judge the research of Schweizer’s book may be a form ofhubris.  Or at least we should not just be told that there will be experts looking at all the stuff.

Third, and this links to my second point, using a book BEFORE it is published means that the newspapers won’t have access to the expert criticisms which follow the publication of a book.  It’s as if the book is allowed to hold the stage all alone, when the correct approach would be to wait to see what experts in the field might have to say about it.

It’s also important to note that Peter Schweizer writes for Breitbart. And Breitbart is crowing about the mainstream publicity their author is getting.

Scott Walker

As the NYT reported yesterday, David Koch has apparently picked Scott Walker as his preferred candidate for the Republican nomination. You have to wonder if Koch is completely detached from reality though.

From the New York Observer, David Koch: Scott Walker Would Defeat Hillary Clinton ‘by a Major Margin.’

Fuel mogul and conservative activist David Koch today declared to reporters that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker would easily beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a general election—shortly after the co-owner of Koch Industries heard a private speech by the midwestern Republican at the Union League Club in Manhattan.

After meeting with Mr. Walker and a group of GOP donors called the Empire Club, Mr. Koch told the Observer that he believed the governor would trounce the former first lady if a sufficient number of Republicans get involved in the race.

“I think so, no question about it. You know, if enough Republicans have a thing to say, why, he’ll defeat her by a major margin,” he said, effusively praising Mr. Walker’s performance. “I thought he had a great message. Scott Walker is terrific and I really wish him all the best. He’s a tremendous candidate to be the nominee in my opinion.”

Mr. Koch said the Republican candidates should focus their primary season fire on Ms. Clinton to reduce her appeal among voters, arguing that she will most likely be the Democratic nominee.

Koch brothers

Will it work? Hillary commented on the strategy in Keene, New Hampshire yesterday.

ABC News: Hillary Clinton Says Republicans ‘Talking Only About Me.’

During her first visit to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton brushed off accusations about the Clinton Foundation‘s acceptance of donations from foreign governments, dismissing the reports made in a new book as simply being a “distraction” from the issues of her campaign.

“Well, we’re back into the political season and therefore we will be subjected to all kinds of distractions and attacks and I’m ready for that. I know that that comes unfortunately with the territory,” Clinton remarked at the end of a roundtable discussion at a local business here this afternoon, when asked by reporters about a new book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.”

It seems the Koch brothers are opening controlling the choice of the Republican nominee. Today they announced they will give Jeb Bush a chance to be their pick instead of current favorite Scott Walker. From Mike Allen at Politico:

Koch brothers will offer audition to Jeb Bush.

In [a] surprise, a top Koch aide revealed to POLITICO that Jeb Bush will be given a chance to audition for the brothers’ support, despite initial skepticism about him at the top of the Kochs’ growing political behemoth.

Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz debated at the Koch network’s winter seminar in January, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made a separate appearance. Those were the candidates who appeared to have a chance at the Koch blessing, and attendees said Rubio seemed to win that round.

But those four — plus Jeb – will be invited to the Kochs’ summer conference, the aide said. Bush is getting a second look because so many Koch supporters think he looks like a winner. Other candidates, perhaps Rick Perry or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, may also get invitations.

Jindal is apparently not high on the Kochs’ list. He must be deeply disappointed after he has destroyed Louisiana with Koch-backed policies in his efforts to please the the powerful brothers.

For a change of pace from the mainstream Hillary hate and GOP love, I’ll end this post with Charles Pierce’s latest assessment of Scott Walker’s chances.

ScottWalker

Watching Scotty Blow, Cont’d: Governor Of His Own Fugue State.

Because it’s fking April, and because it’s fking 2015, and because I have something of a fking life, I decided to take in the Republican floor exercises up there in New Hampshire through the kind auspices of CSPAN. I was especially interested in the evening show provided by Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin. I had to wait for John Sununu, Sr. to go through an introduction that lasted longer than the Good Friday ritual. (Sununu may still be talking. CSPAN cut away to listen to Walker.) But Walker was worth the wait. We heard about how he’s going to ride his Harley to Bike Week in Laconia this year. We heard the bit about buying the shirt at Kohl’s. We heard “go big and go bold.” We heard about the death threats. And we heard a lot of stunning misdirection about how rosy things are with the Wisconsin economy. (I was especially taken with how he boasted that he had turned his state into a right-to-work paradise, Walker having denied up and down throughout the last campaign that he had any such plans.) And there is no question. Scott Walker is the best Governor of Wisconsin that New Hampshire ever has had.

What we didn’t hear, of course, was that, back in America’s Dairyland, they may never get out of the death spiral into which Walker has shown the actual state he allegedly actually governs. His new budget is so draconian that even some of the Republicans in his pet legislature are starting to get nervous. And the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, a newspaper of wild ambivalence regarding Walker and his prospective candidacy,dropped a dungbomb on him that demonstrated that, while Scott Walker may have bought a shirt at Kohl’s, he isn’t qualified to run a cash register there.
Go to the Esquire link to read the rest and get the Koch Brothers and the mainstream media’s Clinton Derangement out of your mouth.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!

Thursday Reads: Media Clutches Pearls, Takes to Fainting Couch, and Calls for Smelling Salts

 couch smelling saltsGood Morning!!

I can’t figure out if the corporate media wants to stop Hillary Clinton from running for president or if they desperately want her to run so they can figuratively flog her with a cat-o-nine-tails and then put her in stocks in front of the Capital building.

The story about Hillary using a private email domain when she was Secretary of State has reached the point of ridiculousness, but the media can’t help themselves–they are and yet the coverage continues to get more heated by the hour. The Hillary haters in the media see blood in the water and they’re circling in hopes of getting their teeth into her.

Sorry for the tortured metaphors, but seriously, what does the media want from this woman?

Check out this story from The Hill reporting on remarks by House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah. (Chaffetz and former Chairman Darrell Issa have been the leaders of the “investigations” of the Bengazi, IRS, and Fast and Furious non-scandals.)

Asked on “Fox and Friends” whether Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email address during her time as secretary of State raised national security concerns, Chaffetz said, “It does beg the question: Were there any sort of classified pieces of information that were flowing through her personal email account?”

“Which is something you can’t do and something yesterday Gen. Petraeus had to plead guilty to, or was going out in a deal, dealing with his personal email and interaction with somebody who didn’t have a classification,” Chaffetz added….

Petraeus reached a plea deal, the Justice Department announced Tuesday, over charges he failed to turn over for archiving small record books kept while commanding U.S. forces in Afghanistan, instead providing them and their classified information to his mistress, Paula Broadwell, who wrote a biography of the Army general.

Seriously?

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday, “we have no indication that Secretary Clinton used her personal email account for anything but unclassified purposes,” adding that Clinton used secure phone calls, aides or took other steps to send sensitive messages and has turned over some emails for archiving.

But the Committee will investigate anyway, and yesterday, according to the WaPo, the “Select Committee on Benghazi”

subpoenaed all communications of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton related to Libya and to the State Department for other individuals who have information pertinent to the investigation,” according to a statement by committee spokesman Jamal Ware. “The Committee also has issued preservation letters to internet firms informing them of their legal obligation to protect all relevant documents.”

Back to The Hill article (emphasis added):

Earlier this week, Chaffetz said his committee would join the House Select Committee on Benghazi to further explore Clinton’s use of personal emails. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of that committee, said Clinton might have to testify several times before the panel, even into 2016.

ABC_jason_chaffetz_card_jef_150303_4x3_992

Chaffetz himself lists a personal gmail address on his “official House card,” according to ABC News, but Chaffetz says that’s different. According to the Hill, when he was asked about the comparison between his use of email and Clinton’s, Chaffetz said, “Well that’s like comparing apples to a boat.”

Read more about the House efforts to bring Hillary down at Bloomberg Politics: House Oversight Committee to ‘Explore’ Clinton’s E-Mail Use, Chairman Says.

At New York Magazine, Frank Rich is deeply concerned.

Do the Democrats Need a Backup Plan for 2016?

Are Clinton’s email shenanigans a federal offense? Probably not. But we still don’t know the whole story, and it seems to be thickening by the minute — notably with a new report from the AP that she was protecting her email by cycling it through her own private email server out of Chappaqua. But the more important question is why the Clintons, who more than anyone in American politics understand the high risks of perceived improprieties, have left Hillary’s campaign so vulnerable even before it is officially out of the gate.

Why in God’s name did they change the name of the Clinton Foundation to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation? That gives Hillary full ownership of a stream of potential conflict-of-interest revelations that have been emerging ever since, notably in the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Politico: that the foundation solicited funds from at least 60 corporations that were lobbying the State Department during her tenure as Secretary of State; that the foundation quietly resumed soliciting donations from foreign governments once she left the State Department; that an Obama Administration ethics framework established to monitor potential conflicts of interest between Bill Clinton’s lucrative foreign speech engagements and State on Hillary’s watch was less-than-exacting.

And one imagines this is only the beginning. At the Post, a lead reporter on the Clinton story is Rosalind S. Helderman, whom some may recall was the dogged investigative journalist whose forensic journalism helped expose the pay-for-play scandal that brought down Bob McDonnell, the former Virginia Governor, and his wife Maureen.

2-silent-film-still-fainting-granger

You can check out Rich’s links for more background. Both the Post and the NYT are really pushing this story, but the Post seems even more worked up than the Times. Rich points out that Democrats really don’t have any legitimate alternatives to Clinton. Who are they going to run instead? Martin O’Malley? Jim Webb? Give me a break. And sorry, Emo-Progs,, Elizabeth Warren is not running.

At least one Joe Biden backer sees this new “scandal” as a golden opportunity, according to the Washington Post.

Top Biden backer: Hillary Clinton will ‘die by 1,000 cuts’ on e-mail story.

Dick Harpootlian, a former Democratic Party chairman in South Carolina, home to an early and important presidential primary, said recent reports about Clinton’s use of private e-mail to conduct government business and her family’s charitable foundation accepting donations from foreign governments while she was secretary of state could be damaging to her likely 2016 presidential campaign.

“There’s always another shoe to drop with Hillary,” Harpootlian said in an interview Wednesday. “Do we nominate her not knowing what’s in those e-mails?… If the e-mails were just her and her family and friends canoodling about fashion and what they’re going to do next week, that’s one thing. But the fact that she’s already turned e-mails to the Benghazi committee because she was doing official business on it means she’s going to die by 1,000 cuts on this one.”

He wishes.

Harpootlian — who has been an active and outspoken booster of a Biden 2016 candidacy — said the foundation donations and e-mail stories have sparked chatter among South Carolina politicos about drafting other candidates into the Democratic primary. Referencing Biden specifically, he said, “I’ll tell you this: He ain’t got no e-mail problems. He ain’t got no foundation problems. What you see with Joe is what you get. There’s nothing hidden there.”

Harpootlian added, “The chatter down here is, ‘Is this the best we can do?’ Certainly everyone wants to give a woman a chance to lead this country, but is [Clinton] the woman? There are plenty of other women who would be competitive, whether it’s Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar or Kirsten Gillibrand.”

Sorry, Dick, those women aren’t running and they wouldn’t be any more competitive than your pal Joe Biden–who has his own past scandals to worry about.

Bewit35

The Wall Street Journal says “some Democrats” are “troubled” about the new Hillary “scandals.” Yes, I’m sure they are. Sometimes I think there are more Clinton-haters among Democrats than Republicans. WSJ reports:

Some Democrats are uneasy about the reports involving Hillary Clinton ’s use of a private email account during her time as secretary of state and her foundation’s fundraising practices, calling on her to break her silence and personally address the two controversies.

Some party figures say the recent disclosures show a need for Democratic rivals to step forward and challenge Mrs. Clinton for a nomination that has long seemed to be hers for the asking.

At least one of these “uneasy” Democrats was willing to use his name.

Don Paulson, chairman of the Muscatine County Democrats in Iowa, said he was disturbed by the Clinton Foundation’s practice of accepting donations from foreign governments at a time when Mrs. Clinton was preparing a campaign for the White House. He saw that as one reason why the party should vet her and other candidates in a competitive primary, rather than allow her to coast to the nomination without a real fight. “It’s a healthier thing all around if there’s competition,” he said.

I’m sure Muscatine County Chairman is a Very Important Job, so we’d better being paying close attention to Mr. Paulson. Or not.

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The WSJ admits that “Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement…was legal while she served as the nation’s top diplomat,” but never mind that. It’s still so “troubling” and it makes people so “uneasy.” They do include the names of two more disapproving Democrats:

Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who has worked on six presidential campaigns, said of the email account: “She needs to explain why she did what she did. I do think it’s a real issue, and I think it’s an issue that has to get dealt with on a serious level.”

“I don’t think it’s something a junior staffer can put out a statement and expect the thing to go away,” he said.

Kim Weaver, chairman of the O’Brien County Democrats in Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential contest, said: “The questions need to be answered.” She added she would like to hear whether the personal email system Mrs. Clinton used carried adequate security protections. “If it’s no big deal, why not just come out and say what it is.”

It seems that Iowa Democrats are particularly upset.

But will any of this matter to voters in November of 2016? Brendan Nyhan of the NYT blog The Upshot doesn’t think so. He notes that most Americans aren’t thinking about the 2016 presidential campaign yet, and when they do, attitudes toward toward the “email furor” will likely break down along partisan lines.

Of course that won’t stop his newspaper from running story after story about it on their front page while they ignore the potential loss of health insurance for 8,000,000 Americans along with other important world events.

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One more from Business Insider:

Former State Department officials explain why the Clinton email ‘scandal’ is ridiculous.

According to the State Department, Hillary Clinton’s use of a personalized email address during her time as secretary of state was no secret.

“The State Department has long had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s records — including emails between her and Department officials with state.gov accounts,” State Department Deputy Spokesperon Marie Harf said in an email to Business Insider….

Business Insider reached out to Clinton’s representatives. They put us in touch with two former State Department officials who argued that Clinton was careful to use the address in a manner that went above and beyond regulatory requirements and ensured her communications were preserved.

The former officials, who requested anonymity to freely discuss Clinton’s emails and State Department policy, echoed the notion the former secretary’s personalized email address was not kept secret. They said she used it to communicate with over 100 department staffers, other officials, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill….

Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill issued a statement in response to the article wherein he argued Clinton corresponded with people on their government account whenever she conducted official business….”Like Secretaries of State before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any Department officials. For government business, she emailed them on their Department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained,” Merrill said.

onion-smelling-salts

Guess what? John Kerry is the first Secretary of State to use a government email account! Colin Power also used a private account during the Bush Administration.

The two former officials said efficiency was one reason Clinton set up her own address. At the time, State Department policy would not have allowed her to have multiple email addresses on her Blackberry. Because of this, the officials said, she opted to have one address for both personal and governmental communications. They echoed Merrill’s statement and said Clinton took care to correspond with other State officials exclusively on their governmental addresses. The officials said this meant all of her emails and those sent to her were immediately preserved on government servers.

According to the two officials, regulations discouraged the use of personal email but did not prohibit it. Merrill also argued that Clinton’s use of private email was not against the rules.

“Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use non-government email, as long as appropriate records were preserved,” he said.

So far, Hillary herself has only responded on Twitter:

 

So . . . . there are lots of important stories out there today. Which ones are you following?


Saturday News Potpourri

Draper-Pot_Pourri

Good Morning!!

I have quite a few articles to share this morning, a real Saturday potpourri! So let’s get started. First up, on Thursday Attorney General Eric Holder gave a wide-ranging interview to Ari Melber of MSNBC, and quite a bit of breaking news came out of it. Here are some of the resulting headlines: NY Daily News: Eric Holder: Could talk deal with NSA-leaker Edward Snowden, but no clemency

Holder told MSNBC that the Obama Administration “would engage in a conversation” about a resolution in the case, but said it would require Snowden acknowledge wrongdoing…. At a University of Virginia forum, where Holder was asked about Snowden, he  elaborated on his position, saying, “If Mr. Snowden wanted to come back to the United States and enter a plea, we would engage with his lawyers. We would do the same with any defendant who wanted to enter a plea of guilty, so that is the context to what I said.” But he stressed that the NSA leaker would not walk. “We’ve always indicated that the notion of clemency isn’t something that we were willing to consider.”

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Seattle PI: Holder: Marijuana banking regulations on the way

Attorney General Eric Holder says the Obama administration is planning to roll out regulations soon that would allow banks to do business with legal marijuana sellers. During an appearance Thursday at the University of Virginia, Holder said it is important from a law enforcement perspective to enable places that sell marijuana to have access to the banking system so they don’t have large amounts of cash lying around. Currently, processing money from marijuana sales puts federally insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges. Because of the threat of criminal prosecution, financial institutions often refuse to let marijuana-related businesses open accounts.

There’s a good piece about this at Forbes, but they won’t even let you copy their headlines anymore. Mediaite: Eric Holder: Voter ID Used to ‘Depress the Vote’ of People Who Don’t Support GOP

Attorney General Eric Holder sharply criticized state-level voter identification policies and said that he believes those policies are a “remedy in search of a problem.” He added that, while some may be arguing for voter ID in good faith, he believes that most are advocating for this policy in order to “depress the vote” of those who do not support the “party that is advancing” voter ID measures. “I think many are using it for partisan advantage,” Holder said of voter ID. “People have to understand that we are not opposed to photo identification in a vacuum,” he continued. “But when it is used in — certain ways to disenfranchise particular groups of people, whether by racial designation, ethnic origin, or for partisan reasons, that from my perspective is problematic.” He added that “all the studies” show that in-person voter fraud “simply does not exist” at a level that requires a legislative solution.

Politico: Eric Holder: Timing of Robert Gates book release ‘a mistake’

Attorney General Eric Holder waded into the controversy over former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s new book Thursday, calling it “a mistake” for Gates to have published his recollections before President Barack Obama left the White House. “It’s my view that it’s just not a good thing thing to write a book about a president that you served while that president is still in office,” Holder said during an appearance at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. “From my perspective I think the world of Bob Gates, but I think that the publication of that book — at least at this time — was a mistake.” [….] In the course of offering his critique of the timing of Gates’s book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” Holder twice praised the former defense secretary for his leadership. “I like Bob Gates a great deal. He was a good secretary of defense,” the attorney general said.

LA Times: Holder says no bank ‘too big to indict,’ more financial cases coming

“I think people just need to be a little patient,” Holder said, according to a transcript of an interview with MSNBC to air at noon Pacific time Friday. “I know it’s been a while. But we have other things that are in the pipeline.” [….] Holder has taken heat for telling a Senate hearing last year that some financial institutions were “so large that it becomes difficult to prosecute them” because criminal charges could hurt the U.S. and even world economies. Since then Holder has tried to emphasize that the Justice Department is not intimidated by the size of a financial institution and would bring any charges it believed it could prove.

As I said, quite a bit of news out of one interview. Good job by Ari Melber.

In other news . . .

The Economist has a brief article that provides some background on the situation in Ukraine: On the march in Kiev –The protests turn nasty and violent, but the president is not giving ground. ukraine-protests-2

JANUARY 22nd was meant to mark Ukraine’s unity day, a celebration of its short-lived pre-Soviet independence. Instead, it was a day of civil unrest and perhaps the biggest test of Ukraine’s post-Soviet integrity. After two months of largely peaceful encampment on the Maidan in Kiev, the protests turned violent. Five people were reported killed and hundreds were injured. An armoured personnel carrier pushed through the streets. Clouds of black smoke and flames mottled the snow-covered ground. Never in its history as an independent state has Ukraine witnessed such violence. It was triggered by the passage of a series of repressive laws imposing tight controls on the media and criminalising the protests of the past two months. One law copied almost verbatim a Russian example, including stigmatising charities and human-rights groups financed from abroad as “foreign agents”. If Russian human-rights activists denounce their parliament as a “crazy printer” churning out repressive legislation, says Oleksandra Matviichuk of the Centre for Civil Liberties in Kiev, Ukraine has a “crazy photocopier”. The clashes show vividly the refusal of the protesters to heed such laws.

Brian Glyn Williams, the U. Mass Dartmouth professor who interacted with Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and recommended some sources of information on Chechnya for a report Tsarnaev was writing, has a post up at HuffPo on how the history of Chechya and Dagestan is coming back to haunt the Winter Olympics in Russia: The Dark Secret Behind the Sochi Olympics: Russia’s Efforts to Hide a Tsarist-Era Genocide. Here’s the conclusion:

The twin bombings in Volgograd in late December 2013 and an earlier one in October are clearly meant to show the Russians that the Chechen-Dagestani terrorists have reignited their terror jihad. They are also meant to remind the world of the tragedy that befell the Circassians of the Caucasus’s Black Sea shore exactly 150 years ago this winter. This is the dark secret that Russia’s authoritarian leader, Putin, does not want the world to know. Putin has thus far been very successful in conflating Russia’s neo-colonial war against Chechen separatists with America’s war on nihilist Al Qaeda Arab terrorists. Any attempt to remind the world of Imperial Russia/Post-Soviet Russia’s war crimes in the Caucasus is a threat to Putin’s pet project, the whitewashed Sochi Olympics. This of course not to excuse the brutal terroristic acts of the Caucasian Emirate or the Chechen rebels, but it certainly provides the one thing that Putin does not want the world to see as he constructs his “Potemkin village” in Sochi, and that is an honest account of the events that have made this the most terrorist fraught Olympic games since the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

erik prince Remember Erik Prince, the Michigan millionaire who founded Blackwater? Guess what he’s doing these days? The WSJ has the scoop: Erik Prince: Out of Blackwater and Into China. Erik Prince —ex-Navy SEAL, ex-CIA spy, ex-CEO of private-security firm Blackwater —calls himself an “accidental tourist” whose modest business boomed after 9/11, expanded into Iraq and Afghanistan, and then was “blowtorched by politics.” To critics and conspiracy theorists, he is a mercenary war-profiteer. To admirers, he’s a patriot who has repeatedly answered America’s call with bravery and creativity.

Now, sitting in a boardroom above Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, he explains his newest title, acquired this month: chairman of Frontier Services Group, an Africa-focused security and logistics company with intimate ties to China’s largest state-owned conglomerate, Citic Group. Beijing has titanic ambitions to tap Africa’s resources—including $1 trillion in planned spending on roads, railways and airports by 2025—and Mr. Prince wants in…. “I would rather deal with the vagaries of investing in Africa than in figuring out what the hell else Washington is going to do to the entrepreneur next,” says the crew-cut 44-year-old. Having launched Blackwater in 1997 as a rural North Carolina training facility for U.S. soldiers and police, Mr. Prince says he “kept saying ‘yes’ as the demand curve called—Columbine, the USS Cole and then 9/11.” In 100,000 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he says, Blackwater contractors never lost a U.S. official under their protection. But the company gained a trigger-happy reputation, especially after a September 2007 shootout that left 17 civilians dead in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. At that point, charges Mr. Prince, Blackwater was “completely thrown under the bus by a fickle customer”—the U.S. government, and especially the State Department. He says Washington opted to “churn up the entire federal bureaucracy” and sic it on Blackwater “like a bunch of rabid dogs.” According to Mr. Prince, IRS auditors told his colleagues that they had “never been under so much pressure to get someone as to get Erik Prince,” and congressional staffers promised, “We’re going to ride you till you’re out of business.”

Awwwwww…..Poor little rich boy. Where’s my tiny violin?

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Speaking of entrepreneurs, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ plans for his latest acquisition–The Washington Post–are becoming clearer, as he hires more right wing libertarians for the op-ed page. Now Pando Daily reveals what Don Graham is up to now that he’s dumped the family business: The company formerly known as WaPo moves into tech apps.

Today, the company formerly known as WaPo — now called Graham Holdings – has announced a new business endeavor in journalism. Surprisingly, said endeavor doesn’t have much to do with actual journalism at all — it falls squarely in the tech camp. It’s a content discovery app called Trove. Trove fits in the now-torrential trend of such applications. Companies like Flipboard,Prismatic, Rockmelt, and N3twork have all tread this ground long before Trove. They’re all convinced that places like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS readers are not good enough for finding the best stories…. The two men behind Trove have rich and storied histories. Vijay Ravindran, the CEO of Trove, served as The Washington Post’s Chief Digital Officer before the sale, and ran ordering at Amazon for seven years before that. Reuters oped columnist Jack Shafer even divpredicted (incorrectly) that Ravindran would be named the new WaPo publisher after the sale. The other Trove heavyweight is product lead Rob Malda, who is also the co-founder and former editor-in-chief of Slashdot — the predecessor of every user-focused news aggregator since, from Digg to Reddit to Hacker News.

Read all about it at the above link.

A few short takes:

In other tech news, CSM’s Security Watch reports that Booz Allen, Snowden’s old firm, looking to help US government with ‘insider threats’. Author Dan Murphy asks, “Are defense and intelligence contractors the best choice to manage a threat they’ve contributed to?” Read it and weep.

According to Fox News, gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson and Ruger will no longer do business in California because they don’t want to comply with a new CA law that allows law enforcement to trace bullets to the individual gun they came from. After all, why would gun companies want to help police catch murderers? Unbelievable!

Did you know that this month is the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant satire, Dr. Strangelove? IMHO, it is one of the funniest movies of all time. Well, Eric Schlosser has a not-so-funny article about it at The New Yorker: ALMOST EVERYTHING IN “DR. STRANGELOVE” WAS TRUE. Don’t miss this one; it’s a must read!

Apparently the latest food craze to emerge from San Francisco is “artisanal toast.” How did toast become the latest artisanal food craze? Ask a trivial question, get a profound, heartbreaking answer. John Gravois writes about it at Pacific Standard: The Science of Society. Weird.

A silly test to take at Buzzfeed: Which Pop Diva Are You? I got Pink. I know nothing about her…but she looks kinda cool. PINK

Finally, I posted this link in the comments recently, but I don’t know if anyone looked at it. I’m posting it again, because I think it’s absolutely adorable. It’s some glamour shots of elderly people having fun dressing up and posing as various movie heroes and heroines. Here’s just one example:

"Easy Rider": Walter Loeser (l.), 98, & Kurt Neuhaus, 90

“Easy Rider”: Walter Loeser (l.), 98, & Kurt Neuhaus, 90

I hope you found something to tickle your fancy in this potpourri of articles. Now it’s your turn. Please post your recommended links in the comment thread, and have a wonderful weekend!


Saturday Reads: Daily Caller Caught Red-Handed (?), GOP “Estranged from America,” and Other News

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Good Morning!!

There’s a lot of news out there this morning, so I’ll get right to it.

Well, well, well, isn’t this an interesting headline at the WaPo: Dominican official links Daily Caller to alleged lies about Menendez.

A top Dominican law enforcement official said Friday that a local lawyer has reported being paid by someone claiming to work for the conservative Web site the Daily Caller to find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).

The lawyer told Dominican investigators that a foreign man, who identified himself as “Carlos,” had offered him $5,000 to find and pay women in the Caribbean nation willing to make the claims about Menendez, according to Jose Antonio Polanco, district attorney for the La Romana region, where the investigation is being conducted.

The Daily Caller, owned by smirky right winger Tucker Carlson, claims it’s not true. Sure, Tucker.

The videotaped claims of two women, made with their faces obscured, were posted in the fall on the Daily Caller. The site reported that “the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic. . . . They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.”

In its statement Friday, the Daily Caller said: “At no point did any money change hands between The Daily Caller and any sources or individuals connected with this investigation, nor did anyone named Carlos travel to the Dominican Republic on behalf of The Daily Caller. As recently as two weeks ago, Figueroa was on record with another news outlet as saying the women he represented were telling the truth about their initial allegations against Senator Menendez.”

There’s quite a bit of wiggle room in that denial. So no one from the Daily Caller actually handed money to anyone, and “Carlos” didn’t travel from the U.S. to the Dominican. Big deal. The arrangements were probably made by phone and the money was giving out through the lawyer.

hey-gal-Foster-Friess-WKA-550x303

I don’t know what happened for sure, but I know Tucker Carlson is a sleazy S.O.B. What I didn’t know until today (via Crooks and Liars) is that the Daily Caller got its start-up funds from Foster Friess, the Republican billionaire donor who recommended that women put an aspirin between their knees as contraception. C&L’s Karoli also linked to this Mother Jones article by Kate Sheppard: Controversial Daily Caller Editor Admitted to Posing As Radical Animal Rights Activist.

David Martosko—the outgoing executive editor of the conservative Daily Caller and a prominent defender of the news site’sdisputed claim that Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) paid two women for sex in the Dominican Republic—admitted in a court document obtained by Mother Jones that he used a fake Facebook profile to pose as a “dope-smoking commie” in order to gather information on animal rights activists. The admission came in a May 2011 depositionMartosko gave under oath as part of a defamation case against him and his former employer, Berman and Company, a PR shop that specializes in combating progressive activists who target corporations.

Before Daily Caller Editor in Chief Tucker Carlson hired him in 2011—a controversial choice given Martosko’s previous arrests and lack of experience in journalism—Martosko spent a decade working for Richard Berman, a longtime PR operative behind a number of industry-backed campaigns. At Berman and Company, Martosko served as the director of research for the Center for Consumer Freedom, a Berman-run nonprofit that opposes new laws on food and beverages. CCF, which is funded by the food and beverage industry, runsHumane Watch, a website that posts derogatory information about the Humane Society of the United States. Martosko was the site’s “founding editor.” CCF also operates Activist Cash, a website that compiles biographical information on groups and individuals that engage in “anti-consumer activism.”

Despite all this circumstantial evidence that the Daily Caller is a fraudulent operation, Politico posted a piece by MacKenzie Weinger supporting Carlson’s operation and implying that the WaPo is trying to defend Democrats rather than simply reporting the results of investigative reporting.

Also from the WaPo, and op-ed by Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center — The numbers prove it: The GOP is estranged from America. I actually have a lot of problems with this article–Kohut writes from the point of view of an old-style Republican, which he is. He claims that the Democratic Party has gotten more liberal, when the current Democratic President, Barack Obama has publicly state that his ideology is that of a Rockefeller-type Republican. Here’s an excerpt:

Read the rest of this entry »


President Obama Is Driving The Village Pundits Insane!

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Wow. The Village pundits are so wound up over the “sequester” these days that I hate to think what’s going to happen over the weekend when the automatic budget cuts have taken effect. Will there be weeping and wailing instead of dancing at Disco Dave’s place? Will Bob Schieffer have to talk David Ignatius off a ledge? Will Dana Millbank freak out and require hospitalization? Will Bob Woodward’s hair catch fire? Will Major Garrett spontaneously combust?

Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like the temper tantrums the Village pundits have been throwing over the past week or two; and now that they are finally realizing that they’re not going to get the White House and Congress to agree to replace the “sequester” with Simpson Bowles 2.0, they’ve begun to scream and stamp their feet. I’m afraid one of them may throw himself to the floor and have a kicking and shrieking tantrum soon.

First up, Bob Woodward. Last Friday, the poor, frustrated stuffed shirt published a hectoring op-ed in the Washington Post in which he assigned full blame for the “sequester” to President Obama. As evidence, Woodward misleadingly sourced his own book on last year’s debt limit fight. He was rounding mocked on numerous liberal websites, and that must have really gotten his dander up.

Today Woodward appeared on Morning Joe and upped the ante. Mediaite reports:

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s ongoing war of words with President Barack Obama’s White House escalated on Wednesday when Woodward took to the set of MSNBC’s Morning Joe to slam the president’s handling of the sequester fight. Woodward said that the president has displayed a “kind of madness” in his decision to make those cuts as painful and deleterious to the nation’s war fighting capability as possible….

He then turned to the sequester: “I think peoples’ heads are about to explode about all of this, you know, what the hell is going on here,” Woodward said. “I’m not sure the White House understands exactly what happened in all of these negotiations at the end of 2011 with the sequester and the super committee, because they were really on the sidelines.”

Woodward slammed Obama’s decision to announce that sequester cuts would force an American aircraft carrier to not deploy to the Persian Gulf.

“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document’?”

Watch it:

h/t to TPM and to RalphB for the catch!

Ignatius

Woodward’s pompous WaPo colleague David Ignatius also strongly disapproves of President Obama’s failure to make what Ignatius thinks is the obviously correct choice:

We have a political system that is the equivalent of a drunk driver. The primary culprits are the House Republicans. They are so intoxicated with their own ideology that they are ready to drive the nation’s car off the road. I don’t know if the sequestration that’s set to begin Friday will produce a little crisis or a big one; the sad fact is that the Republicans don’t know, either, yet they’re still willing to put the country at risk to make a political point.

At least Ignatius admits the Republicans are mostly to blame for the crisis. But…

I’m no fan of the way President Obama has handled the fiscal crisis. As I’ve written often, he needs to provide the presidential leadership that guides Congress and the country toward fiscal stability. In my analogy, he should take the steering wheel firmly in hand and drive the car toward the destination where most maps show we need to be heading: namely, a balanced program of cuts in Social Security and Medicare and modest increases in revenue.

Why is it always Social Security and Medicare that these guys want to cut? Surely there has to be a better way to deal with the noncrisis than to starve granny and then refuse her health care when she’s dying in the street?

Dana Millbank in drag

Dana Millbank in drag

Last Tuesday Dan Millbank, also of the WaPo, stated his demand that Simpson-Bowles be enacted right now!

On Tuesday morning, as President Obama and House Republicans were abandoning hope of reaching a compromise to avoid across-the-board spending cuts on March 1, the indefatigable duo of Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson made one more attempt to float a bipartisan compromise. They were literally shouted down.

Seconds after Bowles and Simpson were introduced at a breakfast forum hosted by Politico, hecklers in the audience began to interrupt: “Pay your share of taxes! Stop cutting jobs! Stop cutting Medicare and Medicaid!”

“Wait your turn,” pleaded the moderator, Politico’s Mike Allen, as the half-dozen demonstrators were gradually removed.

Good grief! How shocking that the peons would dare to demand that the Villagers “sacrifice” instead of resigning themselves to “feel the pain” so that the Villagers and their wealthy friends aren’t inconvenienced!

These politicians aren’t “serious,” Millbank tut tuts, claiming that “neither [Obama nor Boehner] is offering anything close to a workable plan.”

I’ve left the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) for last. Major Garrett’s bizarre and incomprehensible (to me anyway) op-ed in the National Journal: Tennessee Williams Offers Window Into the Mendacity That Defines the Sequester.

Major Garrett disapproves

Major Garrett disapproves

According to Garrett, the way to understand the “sequester” is to listen to Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The problem is “mendacity,” which is a fancy word for lying.

How can anyone look upon the sequester with anything but revulsion and venom — the kind of smoldering rage that spills out of Big Daddy Pollitt (played by Burl Ives in the 1958 movie) when he begins to peel back the slippery layers of deception that defined his seemingly respectable Mississippi Delta life. Big Daddy’s life and all those who spin around it are reduced, as if by the centripetal force of fakery, into one word: mendacity.

Williams was not speaking for the South or plantation owners, but everyone who can kid themselves into believing something that simply isn’t true. Acid drips from Big Daddy’s sweet-sounding and recurrent question: “Wouldn’t it be funny if that was true?” After listening to all the varied finger-pointing and blame-shifting on our latest budget crisis, I will from now substitute the word “mendacity” for “sequester.”

Ooooookaaaay….

Encapsulated within the confines of a tortured Mississippi family, Tennessee Williams captured in the 1950s a bit of the writhing, frustrating, and at times grotesque antics of modern American budget mendacity. In his immortal Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Big Daddy Pollitt and his son Brick — a high school football hero turned town drunk — argue over Brick’s refusal to see the consequences of his drinking, how his indolence breeds chaos in the lives of others. Earlier, Brick speaks mournfully of mendacity — the lies of his young life.

Big Daddy: “But it’s always there in the mornin’, ain’t it—the truth? And it’s here right now. You’re just feeling sorry for yourself; that’s all it is — self-pity.… Life ain’t no damn football game. Life ain’t just a buncha high spots. You’re a 30-year-old kid. Soon you’ll be a 50-year-old kid, pretendin’ you’re hearin’ cheers when there ain’t any. Dreamin’ and drinkin’ your life away. Heroes in the real world live 24 hours a day, not just two hours in a game. Mendacity, you won’t … you won’t live with mendacity but you’re an expert at it. The truth is pain and sweat and payin’ bills.”

Big Daddy and Brick

Big Daddy and Brick

Garrett doesn’t mention that Brick’s drinking and “indolence” stems from clinical depression triggered by denial of his homosexuality, but maybe Garrett doesn’t know that. But we now know how what Garrett believes is the solution to the financial noncrisis:

Our mendacities now are about dollars and cents. We hate ourselves, at some level, for being unable to produce enough to pay our bills. Our politics invites us to dream our life away. But the sequester and the fiscal cliff and the debt/default drama fractiously and dramatically remind us of our limits. We are frustrated. We don’t want to live with mendacity. But, sadly, we’ve become experts at it.

The truth is pain and sweat and payin’ bills.

Except that American does pay its bills and will continue to do so unless the Republicans refuse to raise the debt ceiling. And yes, as Garrett writes, most American families pay their bills too. But just like the federal government, most American families go into debt in order to buy a house or a car. Only the very richest among us can pay cash for those items. Like the government, families borrow and then pay the loans back with interest.

If anyone can figure out what else Garrett is trying to say, I’d be glad to hear it. Frankly, I think he’s lost his mind, and so have the rest of these Village idiots. I’m going to be fascinated to watch what happens to them over the next few days as their Simpson-Bowles fantasies crash and burn.


Sally Quinn: Only Believers Can Be American Citizens

Sally Quinn is insane

Why does the Washington Post keep publishing the bizarre rantings of an insane person like Sally Quinn? Does Ben Bradlee still have that much influence, or is it Bob Woodward’s attachment to Bradlee that ensures that Quinn can keep vomiting forth her hate-filled screeds in, of all things, the “On Faith” column?

Forgive me if you’ve already heard enough about Quinn’s reaction to Wednesday’s presidential debate. Somehow I missed her latest nonsensical frothings until this afternoon. If only I’d continued on, happily unaware! But instead, I clicked on a link and soon learned that, according to Quinn, Mitt Romney won the first debate because he mentioned god. I also found out that Quinn believes that atheists can’t be American citizens!

When Mitt Romney mentioned the “Creator” in the debate Wednesday, he owned it. “We’re all children of the same God,” he said.

That’s about 85 percent of the country he was talking to. That should have been President Obama’s constituency but he let Romney have it as he let Romney have the debate.

Is that so. Is she really claiming that 85 percent of voters are suddenly going to vote for Mitt Romney now because he mentioned god?

Moving on:

Citing the Declaration of Independence, Romney said: “Second, is that line that says we are endowed by our Creator with our rights, I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country. That statement also says that we are endowed by our creator with the right to pursue happiness as we choose. I interpret that as, one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can’t care for themselves are cared by — by one another.”

Like most of what Sally Quinn writes, and much of what Mitt Romney says, that makes absolutely no sense, but I’ll have more to say about that in a minute.

Quinn continues (emphasis added):

This is a religious country. Part of claiming your citizenship is claiming a belief in God, even if you are not Christian…. We’ve got the Creator in our Declaration of Independence. We’ve got “In God We Trust” on our coins. We’ve got “one nation under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. And we say prayers in the Senate and the House of Representatives to God.

An atheist could never get elected dog catcher, much less president….Up until now, the idea of being American and believing in God were synonymous.

I have news for Quinn. This is not a “religious country.” This is a country in which people can worship as they please, but they can’t interfere with other people doing something completely different. Our government, however, is secular and there can be no religious test for American citizenship or for public office.

Quinn wraps up her idiotic piece by announcing that if President Obama wants to win the next debate, he’ll have to “wear God, as much as it offends him to do so.”

WTF?! How do you “wear god?” Is she suggesting that Obama should wear a crucifix around his neck at the next debate? And what does she mean by claiming that Obama is offended by “wearing god?” I’m completely at a loss here.

Frankly, I think Sally Quinn needs to be evaluated by a competent psychiatrist immediately. Furthermore, as long as she continues writing for it, the Washington Post cannot ever again be considered a serious newspaper.

But I want to return to Romney’s quote on the the Declaration of Independence:

“Second, is that line that says we are endowed by our Creator with our rights, I believe we must maintain our commitment to religious tolerance and freedom in this country. That statement also says that we are endowed by our creator with the right to pursue happiness as we choose. I interpret that as, one, making sure that those people who are less fortunate and can’t care for themselves are cared by — by one another.”

That is not at all what Thomas Jefferson wrote. The Declaration of Independence says that we are all “created equal” and have innate rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” There’s nothing in there about the pursuit of happiness “as we choose,” or about who is supposed to take care of “less fortunate” people. Here’s the relevant quote:

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Romney seems to be trying to reinterpret Jefferson’s words–perhaps based on Paul Ryan’s twisted version of Ayn Randism–to mean that “less fortunate” people should help each other, while fortunate ones like Romney help themselves in any way they like. Come to think of it, that’s probably exactly what he does believe. But it’s not what Thomas Jefferson wrote.

It’s abundantly clear that Jefferson was writing about the role of government in making sure that citizens are granted the rights that come from “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” and that when a government no longer protects those rights, the citizens have a right to form a new government. If Mitt Romney doesn’t understand that, then he has no business running for public office, much less serving as President of the United States.

Although I regret reading Sally Quinn’s confused and innane thoughts on the presidential debate, I’m grateful to her for pointing out Mitt Romney’s complete ignorance of the document that laid the foundation for American independence and for the rights that are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. I hate to think how he would interpret the Bill of Rights.

Oh, and I am a full-fledged citizen even though I don’t accept Sally Quinn’s or Mitt Romney’s twisted religious beliefs, and I have every intention of voting on November 6.