Archive for National
Something was bound to give. It’s not as if Baltimore didn’t have a reputation for brutal policing, as Digby noted last night. The Baltimore Sun investigation, “Undue Force,” was from just last fall. As Tavis Smiley asked Bill O’Reilly two weeks ago in the wake of recent deaths of black men at the hands of police, “How many isolated incidents equal a pattern?” After Freddie Gray’s died from mysterious injuries sustained under police custody in Baltimore days later, his funeral yesterday finally set fire to fuel that was tinder-dry:
After almost two weeks of tension over the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore descended into chaos Monday.
Roaming gangs of mostly young men clashed with police in the streets, seriously injuring officers; tore open businesses; and looted their stocks. Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard, and state police requested as many as 5,000 reinforcements from neighboring states.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake instituted a weeklong citywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Tuesday.
Rawlings-Blake called the rioting and destruction “idiotic.”
“This isn’t a white-black issue,” Gray family attorney William Murphy told a crowd last night. “This is an issue of how do we treat each other as human beings.” He set the rioting against the backdrop of community oppression from the days of slavery to Sundown towns to the Civil Rights era to a war on drugs that left America with more of its citizens imprisoned than any other country in the world. Murphy concluded:
A somewhat misanthropic friend once said if he ever wound up as an insider in some group he would have to create an outside just to feel like himself. Even as conservative Christians insist that they are America, inhabiting a country created by God himself just for them, and as sure as the prosperity gospel that he smiles upon and blesses them, they are most comfortable posturing as oppressed outsiders. So GOP presidential wannabes were on message yesterday in Iowa:
“The single greatest threat to all of our freedoms is the threat to your religious liberty,” Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, told the crowd in a speech that at times sounded like a church sermon. “Let me be clear tonight: I’m not backing off because what I’m saying is true. We are criminalizing Christianity in this country.”
That theme was predictably popular and reverberated throughout a five-hour-long summit hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition that attracted more than 1,200 Republicans and churchgoers. The event kicked off with a prayer calling on the Lord to “restore this country through godly leadership.”
“You know, in the past month we have seen religious liberty under assault at an unprecedented level,” said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who announced his White House bid last month. He was also met with repeated bursts of applause.
You know the drill. If you won’t let us dominate you, then you’re oppressing us.
Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal this week took to the New York Times to position himself as defender of the faith:
Our country was founded on the principle of religious liberty, enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Why shouldn’t an individual or business have the right to cite, in a court proceeding, religious liberty as a reason for not participating in a same-sex marriage ceremony that violates a sincerely held religious belief?
In an America in which over three-quarters identify as Christians, a GOP that controls both houses of Congress, 31 governorships, and nearly 70 percent of state legislatures is, according to Jindal, beset on all sides by “left-wing ideologues who oppose religious freedom” and “seek to tax and regulate businesses out of existence.”
As Heather Cox Richardson observed in Salon, Jindal laid bare Movement Conservatism’s Grand Bargain when he wrote that defending freedom “requires populist social conservatives to ally with the business community on economic matters and corporate titans to side with social conservatives on cultural matters.” And what’s really got Jindal and the religious right pissed is that after Walmart and NASCAR sided with marriage equality activists against recent “religious freedom” bills, the bargain is broken. Richardson writes:
Its end has been a long time coming. The toxic amalgam of economic and social reactionaries that Jindal identified began to mix after the Second World War. Americans in that era rallied behind the New Deal consensus. Reactionary businessmen loathed business regulation and taxation, but had no luck convincing voters to turn against the policies most saw as important safeguards against another Great Depression. Then, in 1951, a wealthy young writer suggested that social issues might be the way to break popular support for the New Deal. William F. Buckley, Jr. advanced the idea that unfettered capitalism and Christianity should be considered fundamental American values that could not be questioned. According to him, anyone who called for an active government or a secular society was an anti-American collectivist in league with international communism.
With communism a fading memory except among aging Cold Warriors, and with one-quarter of the world’s population Muslim, Movement Conservatives will have a hard time getting buy-in from multinational corporations in alienating an already huge and growing market. What the religious conservatives are waking up to post-Indiana is that their former partners no longer need them.
Perhaps capitalists should have betrayed them with a kiss?
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
General “Buck” Turgidson: Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.
But who’s counting? As Digby pointed out last night, there is a lot less precision to these “precision” drone strikes than meets the monitors of drone pilots at Creech Air Force Base. The government can’t even keep count of how many Americans they’ve killed. The Guardian reports:
The targets of the deadly drone strikes that killed two hostages and two suspected American members of al-Qaida were “al-Qaida compounds” rather than specific terrorist suspects, the White House disclosed on Thursday.
The lack of specificity suggests that despite a much-publicized 2013 policy change by Barack Obama restricting drone killings by, among other things, requiring “near certainty that the terrorist target is present”, the US continues to launch lethal operations without the necessity of knowing who specifically it seeks to kill, a practice that has come to be known as a “signature strike”.
With Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, you knew the “Clinton Rumors” would be back with a vengeance. Along with the chain emails from your dad. David Mikkelson has been collecting them at Snopes.com since the 1990s:
As he did in 2007, Mikkelson has seen a recent uptick in interest in Clinton rumors. The popular one recently was that Clinton was fired from the Watergate investigation. “It’s everything that people want to believe of her,” Mikkelson said — “she’s a liar, she’s corrupt, she’s unethical — all in one piece.” It is also important to note: This rumor is false.
Somebody once said they’ll keep doing this stuff as long as they think it works.
A few days ago we had a media blitz over Clinton Cash written by Peter Schweizer, a former Bush speechwriter and Breitbart.com contributor. The pattern is familiar:
Schweizer explains he cannot prove the allegations, leaving that up to investigative journalists and possibly law enforcement. “Short of someone involved coming forward to give sworn testimony, we don’t know what might or might not have been said in private conversations, the exact nature of the transition, or why people in power make the decision they do,” he writes. Later, he concludes, “We cannot ultimately know what goes on in their minds and ultimately provide the links between the money they took and the benefits that subsequently accrued to themselves, their friends, and their associates.”
So then, nothing. Yet again.
Today, Earth Day 2015, President Obama visits Everglades National Park to talk about climate change and the threat it poses to the water ecology of south Florida. On the first Earth Day in 1970, few Americans had even heard of ecology.
NPR’s Melissa Block spoke with Evelyn Gaiser, an ecologist with the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program, about saltwater incursion into the Everglades. She’ll be reminding the president the Everglades is not just home to birds, snakes, and alligators:
BLOCK: And along with preserving biodiversity, preserving wild space and habitat, of course also you’re seeing a real threat to drinking water with what’s going on in the Everglades, right?
GAISER: That’s exactly right. So the people of Florida depend on that aquifer underneath the Everglades for their drinking water. And as we have insufficient freshwater moving into the Everglades, we see a depletion in the freshwater resources available to the growing population of South Florida.
On the Pacific coast, Californians struggle with an epic drought and reservoirs have all but dried up.
— Tom Sullivan (@BloggersRUs) April 20, 2015
Bernie Sanders representing today on Fox News Sunday:
Confronting Hatred: 70 Years after the Holocaust played on the local NPR station recently. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the program looks at “racism, antisemitism, and the ways in which hatred can grow.” I tuned in late and heard a German woman confronting Klansmen. It led me to this 2014 clip from the BBC:
Mo Asumang is a German filmmaker who confronts racism by speaking directly to those who want her excluded from their world. They don’t talk to or know their “so-called enemy,” Asumang says, “so what they do when they talk to me, they talk to reality, and that’s the first thing they have to survive.”
Asumang concedes that her tactics for confronting hatred so directly are not for everyone. But she is inspired by the incredible change she witnessed in her own family, when her grandmother—a former Nazi party member, who worked for the SS—came face to face with a black grandchild.
“How many isolated incidents equal a pattern?” radio host Tavis Smiley asked Bill O’Reilly this week as the two debated police misconduct and mass incarceration.
From mass surveillance to mass incarceration, it appears that government of the people, etc. is increasingly prone to viewing itself as government against the people. The Guardian reported Friday that the Missouri National Guard had to caution its people against referring to Ferguson protesters as “enemy forces“:
A briefing for commanders included details of the troops’ intelligence capabilities so that they could “deny adversaries the ability to identify Missouri national guard vulnerabilities”, which the “adversaries” might exploit, “causing embarrassment or harm” to the military force, according to documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by CNN.
And in an ominous-sounding operations security briefing, the national guard warned: “Adversaries are most likely to possess human intelligence (HUMINT), open source intelligence (OSINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), technical intelligence (TECHINT), and counterintelligence capabilities.”
National Guard spokesman Capt. Quinn told CNN later drafts of mission plans dialed back the language. Quinnn said, “‘enemy forces’ would be better understood as ‘potential threats.'” So that’s comforting.
Progressive groups are sure to be fuming over the agreement among congressional leaders on approving “fast track” authority:
In what is sure to be one of the toughest fights of Mr. Obama’s last 19 months in office, the “fast track” bill allowing the White House to pursue its planned Pacific trade deal also heralds a divisive fight within the Democratic Party, one that could spill into the 2016 presidential campaign.
With committee votes planned next week, liberal senators such as Sherrod Brown of Ohio are demanding to know Hillary Rodham Clinton’s position on the bill to give the president so-called trade promotion authority, or T.P.A.
“NAFTA on steroids” may have bipartisan support, but the secret trade agreement — congressional staff must have security clearances to view the draft trade pact text — also “enjoys” bipartisan opposition. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in January showed Americans were in no hurry to expand trade: “59% said it could be delayed until next year and 16% said it shouldn’t be pursued at all.” Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said in a press release yesterday, “Congress is being asked to delegate away its constitutional trade authority over the TPP, even after the administration ignored bicameral, bipartisan demands about the agreement’s terms, and then also grant blank-check authority to whomever may be the next president for any agreements he or she may pursue.”