Under orders from outgoing President Eisenhower, the United States helped Belgium and the forces of Mobutu in the assassination of Congolese prime minister and anti-colonial leader Patrice Lumumba on this day in 1961. It is but one of many shameful crimes committed by the United States during the Cold War. American assistance in this murderous coup was entirely at odds with our own avowed principles.
Until the past week I had opposed freeing Manning due to the seriousness of her crime, though I defended her right to appropriate healthcare and criticized the apparent denial of care as a form of punishment. I was persuaded by the Lawfare piece, which makes a good point about the difference between pardon and commutation, and about mitigating circumstances. I agree with the distinction between Manning and Edward Snowden. That Manning's jailers have been at best indifferent to her health, and appear to have gone to considerable lengths to harm her health as an extra-judicial punishment, was perhaps the best argument for clemency.
Further, the disgraceful handling of her incarceration makes a strong case for demanding better training and health-related protocols moving forward. It is no more acceptable to treat trans prisoners this way than to condone prison rape. If the latter is truly what we want, then we should advertise our barbarity by explicitly including it in formal sentencing. Otherwise we should damn well stop it.
The Obama administration got this exactly right. Bibi can pop a blood vessel as far as I'm concerned, as can the people in Trumpland. The settlements are a long-term existential threat to Israel, and hence to the world, though the diehards refuse to recognize it. Brava to Ambassador Power for quoting Ronald Reagan's opposition to further settlements from 1982. Without a two-state solution, the only peace in that region's future is the peace of the grave.
This is a good thing. The disgraceful hate-mongering over it by Donald Trump shames our nation. America has done much to worsen the situation in the Middle East. Taking in families fleeing the devastation and chaos is the very least we can do. When people so vehemently object to this humanitarian action, it is clear that American exceptionalism means never facing the consequences of America's projection of power around the world. If that is what greatness is all about, we should have no part of it.
The job of a photojournalist is not a comfortable desk job. By its nature it often puts a photog in harm's way, or close to suffering, to capture a story in one striking image. You and I can gaze at this remarkable photo at a safe remove, but not the photographer. The Syrian child covered in dust and blood is 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, and the photographer is Mahmoud Raslan. Without such images, we would avoid confronting the horrors of war even more than we do.
Wayne Grudem, a Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona, writes at the conservative website Townhall.com about why he supports Donald Trump. His article, "Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice," acknowledges several of Trump's character and behavioral flaws and then says it doesn't matter if the alternative is worse. He goes into a long list of issues on which he claims that Trump is better than Hillary Clinton.
I could not disagree more with Professor Grudem, so here I will respond to several of them. Given the enormous gulf between the candidates with regard to experience and qualifications, this election should not be close. The fact that the race is close should be a stark reminder not to treat the frightening prospect of a Trump presidency as something to dismiss lightly. Perhaps you may find some of my arguments useful in making the case to friends and family members who are sticking with Trump despite his almost daily barrage of appalling statements. Here goes, for what it's worth.
Abortion. I am sick of the religious bullying on this issue. The utter contempt for people making different choices in this area is very disturbing. I am personally troubled by abortion, and think that the ideal situation is for unwanted pregnancies to be prevented through contraception. But the question of whether to continue or end a pregnancy is not my decision. It is up to the woman. You can say a thousand times that this makes me pro-abortion, but that is not true. Respecting people's right to make a different choice than mine does not mean I agree with that choice. The point is that IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS.
As for contraception, the Catholic Church, in which I was raised, is stoutly opposed to it. A leading anti-choicer, former senator Rick Santorum, has made it clear that he does not just want to overturn Roe v. Wade, but also Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized contraception for married couples, and Eisenstadt v. Baird, which did the same for single women. I find it stunning that people in this day and age are willing, much less determined, to mind their neighbors' business in such an intrusive way. The constitutional separation of church and state protects everyone by prohibiting us from imposing our religious dictates on one another.
My new Blade column gapes at Trump's fascist rally in Cleveland, as well as the growing scandal over Russian interference in the American election. And I examine the sharp contrast between the two parties' vice presidential candidates. Have a gander while you watch self-defeating leftists trying to sabotage the proceedings in Philadelphia.
Our friend John Becker writes on Facebook (reprinted here with permission):
SHAME -- The chants of "lock her up!" from the delegates and speakers at this week's Republican National Convention are disgraceful and baseless and chilling enough, but now we have a surrogate for and adviser to Donald Trump going even further: he's calling for Hillary Clinton's execution.
That's right, they're calling for the execution of their political opponents now. That's something that happens in dictatorships, not democracies.
Republican friends, let me be perfectly clear: if you do not immediately, explicitly, unequivocally, and loudly condemn and repudiate this hateful ugliness, you are tacitly condoning your party's dangerous slide into the evils of authoritarian fascism. Period.
There can be no hedging on this, no sitting on fences. How you choose to respond will reveal whose side you are on. I'll be watching.
Chelsea Manning violated the Espionage Act. She released vast numbers of documents in a reckless fashion. That being said, it does not justify abuse of a prisoner. Those who say that appropriate transgender healthcare should be withheld as punishment are damnably wrong. I hope that Manning will get the care that any prisoner deserves, as well as respect for her gender identity. Healthcare is a right; its denial is not a legitimate part of punishment.
A powerful moment in Hiroshima as our president embraces one of the Hibakusha, a survivor of the atomic blast 71 years ago. My heart soars. I am so proud of this man, who with simple grace leaves the haters in the dust and honors the better angels of our nature. He enlarges himself and us.
The haters on the right are going ape. It is a reminder of the despicable alternative we are faced with this year. We can defeat the haters if we simply stop making excuses and vote. 71 years are long enough to cling to the bitterness of the past. If we do not heal, we make a hollow mockery of Yad Vashem's "Never Again, Never Forget."
Obama has offered Israel the most generous military aid package ever. But that is not good enough for the war criminal Netanyahu, whom you can only defend at this point if, like one friend, you are ideologically prevented from admitting that Israel could ever be wrong about anything, including the murderous naval shelling of Gazan boys playing soccer on a beach. Such a belligerent attitude undermines Israel's long-term future by denying reality, and damages your own soul.
In the meantime, this article talks about the importance of closing the aid deal in terms of cementing Obama's legacy of strong support for Israel and refuting unfair charges against him on that score. But he has nothing to prove. The evidence is clear. Bibi is the problem, having aggressively attempted to sabotage a multilateral nuclear agreement, vowed never to allow a two-state solution, and continued the slow annexation of the occupied Palestinian territory. Obama should make no further concessions.
My thoughts while comparing foreign policy remarks by an experienced stateswoman versus a bullshitting narcissist:
The most vital presidential traits are not about public ceremonies and photo ops. They are summoned during grim, tense hours in the Situation Room. In a moment of crisis, do you really want a posturing amateur? No. You want someone who's been there, someone with experience--including vivid memories of when things went terribly wrong.
In the dark, fraught hours, when you watch and wait from oceans away as our nation's finest warriors must summon all their training amid grave danger, there are no illusions about your job being some slow, grand march to glory. It is humbling and sobering to know how many lives are implicated in every decision. Will you be meeting their coffins in a hangar at Dover AFB, comforting their loved ones?
This is a sacred trust. You cannot be glib about this. The job calls for someone who has been there, who knows the stakes, who has the relationships with foreign leaders to make the difficult calls at midnight to keep a confrontation from boiling over, or to summon and facilitate a global response to a tragedy. You need someone with the seasoning of hard experience. You need a survivor. You need someone who's ready. Hillary for President.
Hillary Clinton showed her political skills and foreign policy chops in her AIPAC speech Monday. She mixed pandering to a key constituency (and let's be honest, there certainly was some old-fashioned pandering) with a reiteration of longstanding American policy. Her bellicose tone in delivering it, which brought those in attendance repeatedly to their feet, likely gave some the impression that she was distancing herself from Obama, whose personal relations with Netanyahu are famously chilly; but she defended and tied herself to the Iranian nuclear accord. She could hardly do otherwise, since her fingerprints are all over it.
It was noteworthy how quiet she got in talking about still believing in a two-state solution. Her invoking the memory of Golda Meir as a woman leader of Israel, and grinning as she asked what's taken America so long, was a nice touch. Her citing Jerusalem Pride was entirely fitting despite the cries of "Pinkwashing!" by radicals on the left whose moral scorn only seems turned to the Jewish state. Her slamming of the BDS movement and its targeting of academics is also sound; after all, we do not boycott China and Russia, and as I write this our president is in Cuba--all of which are led by notoriously oppressive regimes.
Chris Wallace is not going to be bullied by Raphael, who is sinking fast, and Wallace sticks it to Jeb, who promises to dispense with legal niceties in our warmaking. Rubio got applause just by promising not to walk offstage. Clever of SNL to hack into Fox, but which one was Darrell Hammond playing?
The president soared last night, a fact that was all the more clear as Republicans, trapped in their refusal to give him credit or respect for anything ever, sat on their hands. He outclassed his detractors by so far it was embarrassing, and showed he was the grownup in the room. Here are excerpts.
"Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?"
"Some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber."
"Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did."
"Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon."