Quick, hide under a picnic blanket!
Quick, hide under a picnic blanket!
Early in the week, Jon Stewart illustrated the response often received by anyone who criticizes Israel in any way, or simply expresses sympathy for innocent children killed in a conflict.
Pretty well sums it up. Lovely singing by Andy Williams.
The latest incoherence from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).
Very Old Testament. Bibi (and I mean you and your fanatical supporters and not your nation), may you reap what you sow.
WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning has been approved to begin receiving hormone replacement therapy while serving her 35-year prison sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Associated Press reports.
This is the right decision. Denial of healthcare is not an appropriate form of punishment. All prisoners are entitled to proper healthcare, and transgender prisoners are no exception.
Update: London-based Russia Today reporter Sara Firth has resigned in protest over the lies her employer demanded regarding the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. Good for her.
Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed yesterday’s killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, has been told by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately. According to an NBC source upset at his treatment, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by “security concerns” as Israel prepares a ground invasion, a claim repeated to me by an NBC executive. But late yesterday, NBC sent another correspondent, Richard Engel, along with an American producer who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic, into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault (both Mohyeldin and Engel speak Arabic).
Mohyeldin is an Egyptian-American with extensive experience reporting on that region. He has covered dozens of major Middle East events in the last decade for CNN, NBC and Al Jazeera English, where his reporting on the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza made him a star of the network. NBC aggressively pursued him to leave Al Jazeera, paying him far more than the standard salary for its on-air correspondents.
Yesterday, Mohyeldin witnessed and then reported on the brutal killing by Israeli gunboats of four young boys as they played soccer on a beach in Gaza City. He was instrumental, both in social media and on the air, in conveying to the world the visceral horror of the attack.
NBC, you are beneath contempt.
Gay actor George Takei tells of when soldiers with bayonets came to his Los Angeles home when he was 5 and sent his family to a Japanese-American internment camp on a presidential order, without due process. He then talks about his heroes, including the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the most decorated unit in American military history. And he explains why he loves America and is committed to democracy.
Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch reported from Friday's "Road to Majority" summit. In this clip, Gary Bauer offers an astonishing catalog of lies about our 44th president, from he destroyed America's military to he declared war on the Little Sisters of the Poor. One wonders how many wars the (in my view) more-than-sufficiently hawkish Obama would have to start in order to avoid the former charge. As to the latter charge, it appears to be based on the nuns having to fill out a form concerning their religious exemption to the contraception mandate in ACA, because they don't just want to avoid providing such converge to their employees--they want to prevent their employees from getting it from anyone.
In short: as usual with the radical religious right, if they are prevented from imposing their intolerant doctrines on others, they claim their own freedom has been infringed. And the commandment against bearing false witness is once again trampled by the ones most loudly announcing their righteousness. As the saying goes, God help us.
Get the popcorn! Megyn Kelly on Fox News confronts Dick and Liz Cheney on their shameless blaming of President Obama for the Bush-Cheney debacle in Iraq. As a general principle, the arsonist should not criticize the firefighter.
When the US military color guard started the DC Pride Parade. First time ever pic.twitter.com/7R048N4ja6— Joe Sudbay (@JoeSudbay) June 7, 2014
A color guard provided by the United States Military District of Washington marched in the Capital Pride Parade today. I saw them as they turned from 17th Street NW onto P Street. They were right behind Dykes on Bikes, who were behind a couple of police cars. Happy Pride!
This haunting blend of current and historic photos says more than I can after watching ceremonies at Omaha Beach yesterday marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Normandy. In the video of the ceremonies below, my favorite part is near the end, when President Obama interacts with the old soldiers, now in their 90s, who were there 70 years ago. In his remarks he mentioned that his maternal grandfather was in Patton's army that followed the invasion to liberate Europe from the Nazis. These moments are important as more than just ceremonies; they are a reminder of the cost of war. By June 6, 1944, my father had been a prisoner of war for nearly 16 months, having been captured in Tunisia at Kasserine Pass in February 1943. This year he would have turned 96.
Media Matters reports:
Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his public relations firm have been coordinating interviews for soldiers criticizing the actions of recently-released Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
Those critics have said that Bergdahl, who had been imprisoned by the Taliban since 2009, risked the lives of soldiers who tried to find him after he reportedly walked off his Afghanistan base.
Several media outlets have reported on these soldiers and their concerns, including Fox News, The New York Times, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Beast. According to a report in Buzzfeed, Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his firm Capitol Media have "played a key role in publicizing" these critics.
Grenell served as a spokesman for former U.N. ambassador (and current Fox News contributor) John Bolton in the George W. Bush administration, and also worked for a short time on the Romney 2012 campaign.
Ah, Richard Grenell. Here is my piece on him from 2012.
(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)
Some American troops donned drag for a charity performance in Okinawa. World Net Daily is appalled.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told President Obama after speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin that she was not sure he was in touch with reality.
Prediction: this is not going to happen. But Winter Storm Titan is headed for the eastern U.S.
This is what happens when you allow Swedes to serve in the military.
From NYT, a remarkable story of perseverance and devotion to duty that bears reading.
Think Progress reports.
Ryan Teague Beckwith tweets, "Instead of a memoir, Robert Gates should have just given lots of loud off-the-record interviews on the Acela." Obama never stops being punished for reaching across the aisle. Gates complains about civvies on the White House staff asking skeptical questions of military brass. Clutch the pearls!
On December 3 at the National Air & Space Museum, the U.S. Air Force Band performed a flash mob version of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and "Joy to the World." Here's to high musical and production standards.
(Hat tip: Bob Witeck)
Gabriel Arana at American Prospect profiles activist Dan Choi. Here's a passage that conveys his situation:
By the time “don’t ask, don’t tell” was abolished, Dan had been interviewed scores of times, appearing in all the major newspapers and news networks (save Fox); spoken at dozens of gay-rights rallies from Wichita to Moscow; lectured at universities from Texas A&M to Harvard; and been named a “brave thinker” by The Atlantic.
Now, Dan wakes up most days with nothing to do. After the sun rouses him from his spot on the couch, where he sleeps under his “affirmation quilt”—fan letters are printed on each square—he takes two capsules of Hydroxycut, a diet pill loaded with caffeine, and Wellbutrin, an antidepressant used to treat bipolar disorder. Sometimes he goes for a long bike ride or works out at the gym in his building. He attends fundraisers and art openings, occasionally in uniform. Now and then, he drives to Fire Island, a gay vacation destination off Long Island. He earns a living by giving speeches at $10,000 a pop, which the Gotham Artists agency arranges for him. He smokes pot—a lot of it, he admits. “I can’t tell the difference,” he says, “between being high and not.”
Dan is an Iraq war veteran with PTSD whose personal health was not helped by his encounter with fame. He is a wounded warrior who needs help. I know some have tried. It is a sad story.
(Photo by Associated Press)
The latest from Bryan Fischer at AFA, courtesy Right Wing Watch. If God were so closely monitoring the world, She'd have zapped this hateful loon long ago. Or at least unplugged his mic.
Late Saturday night, after news broke that Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China had reached an agreement in Geneva with Iran to halt its development of nuclear weapons, President Obama appeared in the White House State Dining Room to describe some of the details:
While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back. Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium. Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited. Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor. And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.
As soon as the news broke, and without bothering to wait for the details, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) tweeted:
Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care
Cornyn thus echoed what others were tweeting sarcastically in anticipation of reflexive GOP denunciations of the diplomatic breakthrough. One wag tweeted:
Someone get the details of the deal out quickly so the people who hate it already can find out why
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Closet) quickly offered his usual overcompensating saber-rattling that bars any thought of preventing war:
Unless the agreement requires dismantling of the Iranian centrifuges, we really haven't gained anything. #IranNukes
Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s “Trinity” test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea’s two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear).
Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing”the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.” It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.
Metro Weekly reports:
Nearly two months after several states began blocking requests for benefits by members of the National Guard with a same-sex spouse, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered Pentagon officials Thursday to take immediate action to resolve the situation.
In a speech at the Anti-Defamation League's centennial dinner in New York, Hagel said he ordered the chief of the National Guard Bureau today to meet with commanders in the states that continue to deny the processing of benefits at state installations for same-sex military families and see that federal policy is followed.
"Today, I directed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation," Hagel said, according to prepared remarks provided by a senior Defense Department official. "At my direction, he will meet with the Adjutants General from the states where these ID cards are being denied. The Adjutants General will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions."
From Right Wing Watch, the latest wisdom from Virginia Republican Lt. Governor candidate E.W. Jackson. Message to Mr. Jackson: when our warriors enjoy the rights they are defending, our nation is stronger, not weaker.
Who are the nitwits who take this guy seriously?
(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)
Here's remembering not just the victims and first responders on that awful day twelve years ago, but the freedoms that were lost, and the blood and treasure that were subsequently spent, when our patriotism was misused by unscrupulous people who exploited the attack to divide the country for a power grab and partisan gain. Their punditry is hollow and hypocritical. May a lifetime of showers never wash away the shame that properly clings to them for their acts.
Secretary of State Kerry gives us a catalog of horrors. Excuse me, Mr. Secretary, but what is your purpose? Sadly, there are many horrors being committed by various regimes around the world. You do not begin to propose military responses to all of them. I agree that our choice has consequences. I see no good consequence of the proposed military action. Oddly, a proposal for all-out war against Assad would make more logical sense than the send-a-message volley being entertained. Allow me to remind you of your Senate testimony from 1971.
Here's a link to the "U.S. Government Assessment of the Syrian Government's Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013."
So what piddling missile volley will we launch after today's eloquent, ringing speech by the Secretary of State? Will the likely mismatch between our words and actions really leave us looking stronger? As I said before, sending more ordnance into that region will not create greater stability. Kerry convinced me of something I already knew: Assad is a monster. He did not persuade me that American military action can solve the problem.
Metro Weekly reports on the sentencing of Bradley Manning to 35 years in military prison.
Several issues are swirling around Manning's sentencing:
NYT reports. Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy, convicted on most other charges. He could get 136 years. Sentencing phase starts Wednesday.
I am not one of Manning's supporters. He broke the law in a massive way and must pay the consequences. If he thinks he did it for a good reason, he should embrace the penalty.
The New York Times has published In Debate Over Military Sexual Assault, Men Are Overlooked Victims that discuses how repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell has affected sexual assault reporting. Personal stories relate how fear of discharge under DADT kept men from reporting sexual assaults. (The article doesn't discuss how DADT discouraged women, both gay and straight, from reporting assaults.)
“A lot of people say this problem exists because we are allowing women into the military or because of the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ ” he said, referring to the ban on openly gay service members. “But that is absurd. The people who perpetrated these crimes on me identify as heterosexual males.”
The first thing that an abuser tells their victim is don't tell anyone. By shielding sexual predators DADT was a prescription for sexual assault, which was documented decades ago by Randy Shilts in Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf.
OutServe/SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson was fired after a board coup yesterday according to a leaked email sent to Bilerico Project. Robinson was the only transgender leader of a major LGBT organization that is not specifically trans-related.
The organization's entire senior staff quit immediately following the board vote. Director of External Engagement Zeke Stokes, Director of Chapter and Member Services Gary Espinas, and David McKean, Legal and Public Policy Director, have all resigned in protest of Robinson's termination.
So far two board members have also resigned over Robinson's firing. Other board member resignations are expected later today.
Most Executive Directors are given at least a year to get their feet wet and get ensconced in their positions. Robinson has only been the head of OutServe/SLDN for approximately nine months.
Chris Geidner reports at BuzzFeed.
What we need now is more information, though whatever problem was at the root of this, it appears to have been handled disastrously.
(Photo from @allysonrobinson on Twitter)
Freedom to Marry explains:
Retired Admiral Jamie Barnett, former congressman Patrick Murphy and Army Major Mary Bergner explain why the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't enough to make gay and lesbian service.
(Hat tip: Michael Crawford)
Adele M. Stan writes for RH Reality Check:
Despite its bipartisan support and 27 co-sponsors, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the committee chairman, struck from the [Defense Authorization] bill a measure offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) that would have moved the adjudication of all serious crimes (such as murder, rape, and sexual assault) into the hands of independent prosecutors in order to create a safer environment and more impartial judicial process for those who have been the targets of assailants in the military ranks.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said:
"I don't personally believe that you can eliminate the command structure in the military from this process because it is the culture," he said. "It is the institution. It is the people within that institution that have to fix the problem, and that's the culture. The people are the culture, so I don't know how you disconnect that from the accountability of command."
The action by Senator Levin and the statement by Secretary Hagel make them unfit for their jobs. There were more than 26,000 military sexual assaults reported last year. The current approach to dealing with the problem is not working. Thank God there are women like Kirsten Gillibrand and Barbara Boxer in the Senate to fight this outrage; but all of us need to back them up.
Laura Clawson at Daily Kos slams Senator Carl Levin:
Thanks to Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-MI), top military officers will substantially get their way: Solving the problem that's bigger than they imagined will continue to be up to their imagination. Levin is removing Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's proposal to make trained legal experts in the form of military prosecutors in charge of decisions about prosecuting sexual assaults from a defense spending bill....
Basically, the old white men in charge of the military said "trust us, we'll start taking sexual assault seriously and we'll make it stop even though we've done neither to date" and the old white man in charge of the Senate Armed Services Committee said "sounds good to me. How about if we make a cosmetic change that leaves you guys still completely in charge but pretends to add accountability?"
I was screaming at the TV. This is outrageous beyond words.