I sometimes think the Bill of Rights is a test of character for the country. It’s as if the Founding Fathers said, “Okay, America, we’re going to give you all of these rights; let’s see how you handle them.”
There have been times when we have risen to them and proven ourselves worthy: when equal rights for all truly does mean real equality, not separate but equal or equal only for white Christians. And there have been times when we have failed them: internment for citizens who immigrated from a place we’re currently hating or the idea that because some see one amendment as thoroughly inviolable we have to accede to their fetishism as the way things must be.
It is serendipitous that as we recover from the shock and horror of the massacre in Orlando we saw a celebration of a musical that honored Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers. It’s a civics lesson through hip-hop, and while some may find it incongruous to see 18th century characters rapping about starting a country, it reminds us that we are forever being challenged on how we answer to those who set us on our way.
Arrests ordered as Baghdad protestors stage sit-in.
No water, no teachers for Detroit.
Louisiana gets 9 inches of rain.
Puerto Rico to default on $422 million debt.
The Tigers swept the Twins this weekend.
Buck Newton, A North Carolina state senator is very upset that gay people are actually voting.
“We all know that the folks that wave the rainbow flags and things like that are politically very upset about the way things are today. They’re upsets about the way things have always been in this state,” he said earlier in his remarks. “And they’re bound and determined to try to change it, whether it’s by winning elections in the city of Charlotte on their city council or whether it’s wining [sic] elections in November in the General Assembly or whether it’s winning elections in November for our governor.”
It kind of reminds me of how a group of like-minded people banded together to vote for people who supported their causes. Y’know, black people. Or the elderly. Or even, more’s the pity, cranky white people in the Tea Party. It’s called “democracy.” Funny how that works.
Might want to try it, Buck.
In case you missed it yesterday. [This was supposed to post this morning. Sorry.]
You know Donald Trump is way off track with his nativist noise when even Marine Le Pen, the head of the National (FN) of France, which has been in the forefront of anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe for decades, says he’s going too far.
Mr. Trump on Monday evoked comparisons to Ms. Le Pen and her European counterparts with his call to close American borders to all Muslims “until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Ms. Le Pen said that was too much for her, perhaps in part because she feared jeopardizing the progress she had made in shedding her party’s previous image as racist and anti-Semitic.
“Seriously, have you ever heard me say something like that?” she asked on Thursday when questioned about Mr. Trump’s comments during a television interview. “I defend all the French people in France, regardless of their origin, regardless of their religion.”
And now the French voters think Ms. Le Pen is a little too much for them. In elections over the weekend, the National Front came in third.
France’s far-right National Front (FN) has failed to win a single region in the second round of municipal polls.
The party was beaten into third place, despite leading in six of 13 regions in the first round of voting a week ago.
The centre-right Republicans finished ahead of President Francois Hollande’s governing Socialist Party.
FN leader Marine Le Pen said that mainstream parties had colluded to keep it from power and vowed to keep on fighting.
“Nothing can stop us now,” she told supporters. “By tripling our number of councillors, we will be the main opposition force in most of the regions of France.”
Ms Le Pen said the party had been “disenfranchised in the most indecent of ways by a campaign of lies and disinformation”.
They dodged that bullet. Can we? Ted Cruz is just as odious as Donald Trump, and he stands to win in Iowa.
HT to CLW.
First Saudi women elected to local councils.
Exit polls in France show far-right National Front losing in local elections.
Chavez’s movement fades in Venezuela.
Wild weather and record warm temperatures spread across U.S.
Seattle could allow Lyft and Uber drivers to unionize.
Trump calls for complete ban on Muslims entering America.
F.B.I. talking to man who bought the guns used in the San Bernardino massacre.
Supreme Court refuses to hear assault weapons ban case.
Opposition wins big victory in Venezuela.
Global emissions of greenhouse gases were down slightly last year.
Burma/Myanmar has an historic election.
Russian jet crash investigators push back on bomb theory.
Iran’s president knocks the hard-line media.
Volkswagen says a whistle-blower forced it to reveal more cheating.
E.P.A. expands more on-road testing for emissions.
As noted below, Matt Bevin (R) won the Kentucky governor race. He’s vowed to dismantle the state’s version of Obamacare, so roughly 9% of the people who have insurance through the exchange called Kynect are in jeopardy of losing it.
In Houston, the LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance was repealed thank to the usual freak-out tactics of the far right.
Ohio rejected the referendum on recreational marijuana, and Toledo elected Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson to a full term.
In Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas, they’re holding elections. Kentucky will choose a new governor; the choice is between Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin. If Mr. Bevin’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he is the Teabagger who tried to primary Mitch McConnell in 2014. Although Kentucky is mostly a red state, they have a tradition of electing Democrats to the governorship, and Mr. Conway might pull it off.
Ohio has a bunch of state-wide ballot issues plus a mayoral election in Toledo. That election is interesting only in that it’s pitting the city’s first black woman mayor, Paula Hicks-Hudson, against a large field, including former mayors Carty Finkbeiner and Mike Bell. Ms. Hicks-Hudson became mayor by appointment when Mayor D. Michael Collins died in February 2015.
One of the other issues on the ballot in Ohio is the legalization of marijuana. So maybe the state will become Ohigho.
In Texas, Houston will vote on an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance. As you can probably imagine, this is bringing out some of the more vocal nutsery against it, including Gov. Greg Abbott who is — spoiler alert — against it. He seems overly concerned about the toilet habits of people.
If that’s not enough to keep you entertained, cheer up: we only have a year and five days until the one in 2016. I can’t wait.
Canada tosses the Conservatives out. Via the Toronto Star:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
That title, which seemed improbable a mere 11 weeks ago, is now set to become a reality after the Liberals’ historic, come-from-behind election result, besting incumbent Conservatives and hopeful New Democrats in one of the country’s longest and costliest elections.
“Canadians from all across this great country sent a clear message tonight. It’s time for change in this country my friends, real change,” Trudeau said in Montreal.
“A positive, optimistic hopeful vision of public life isn’t a naive dream. It can be a powerful force for change.”
The election ushers in a new era for Canada as Trudeau was swept to power on a vow to change how Canadians were governed and a commitment to end what he branded as the Conservatives’ divisive style of politics.
Preliminary results had the Liberals at 185 seats, comfortably more than the 170 seats needed for a majority government in the expanded 338-seat House of Commons. It’s a stunning rebound for a party that had been knocked down to 34 seats in the 2011 election and left for dead.
The Conservatives won 101 seats, the New Democrats 41, the Bloc Québécois 10 and the Green Party had one seat, won by leader Elizabeth May.
The day was a humiliating loss for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, who has served as prime minister since 2006, and a crushing night for NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.
Harper, who had led his Conservatives to three successive victories, immediately signalled he would be stepping down as leader and instructed the Conservative party to appoint an interim leader and launch a process to select a new leader, according to a party statement.
Let’s hope that this sets an example for their neighbor that’s planning on an election in the near future.
Here we are again with another mass shooting.
This time it’s a church in Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve already provided links for the details. Now comes the inevitable introspection, the ready-for-soundbite releases from the gun lobby and the politicians who keep them happy and the guns on the street. Now comes the “now is not the time to talk about gun control” and the excuses that it’s too soon. It’s always too soon until it’s too late.
Look, there I go, launching into my own cliches. All right then, here’s Charlie Pierce who outdoes me and most other people armed with a keyboard.
What happened in a church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “unthinkable.” Somebody thought long and hard about it. Somebody thought to load the weapon. Somebody thought to pick the church. Somebody thought to sit, quietly, through some of Wednesday night bible study. Somebody thought to stand up and open fire, killing nine people, including the pastor. Somebody reportedly thought to leave one woman alive so she could tell his story to the world. Somebody thought enough to flee. What happened in that church was a lot of things, but unthinkable is not one of them.
What happened in a Charleston church on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “unspeakable.” We should speak of it often. We should speak of it loudly. We should speak of it as terrorism, which is what it was. We should speak of it as racial violence, which is what it was.
We should speak of it as an attack on history, which it was. This was the church founded by Denmark Vesey, who planned a slave revolt in 1822. Vesey was convicted in a secret trial in which many of the witnesses testified after being tortured. After they hung him, a mob burned down the church he built. His sons rebuilt it. On Wednesday night, someone turned it into a slaughter pen.
This was not an unspeakable act. Sylvia Johnson, one of only three survivors of the massacre, is speaking about it.
“She said that he had reloaded five different times… and he just said ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.'”
There is a timidity that the country can no longer afford. This was not an unthinkable act. A man may have had a rat’s nest for a mind, but it was well thought out. It was a cool, considered crime, as well planned as any bank robbery or any computer fraud. If people do not want to speak of it, or think about it, it’s because they do not want to follow the story where it inevitably leads. It’s because they do not want to follow this crime all the way back to the mother of all American crimes, the one that Denmark Vesey gave his life to avenge. What happened on Wednesday night was a lot of things. A massacre was only one of them.
And they will keep happening.
Tories win close to a majority in the British election.
Drone kills al-Qaeda leader who claimed credit for Charlie Hebdo attack.
The U.S. is arming and paying moderate Syrian rebels.
Senate passes Iran nuclear deal review bill.
Another for-profit college hits the hard times.
The Tigers finally win one off the Chicago White Sox 4-1.
Netanyahu wins in Israel election.
New Secret Service director has a rough day on the Hill.
Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) resigns over financial flap.
USAF vet charged with trying to join ISIS.
NFL player Chris Borland quits after rookie year rather than risk concussions.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) lost his re-election bid last month, so he must have decided he had nothing to lose by going on to the floor of the Senate and disclosing classified information to back up his accusation that the C.I.A. lied about the scope and amount of “enhanced interrogation.”
Udall, an outbound Democrat from Colorado, began highlighting key conclusions from the CIA’s so-called Panetta Review, written in 2011 and named after then-agency Director Leon Panetta. Its critical findings, in addition to the agency’s attempts to prevent the Senate from seeing it, Udall said, demonstrates that the CIA is still lying about the scope of enhanced-interrogation techniques used during the Bush administration.
That deceit is continuing today under current CIA Director John Brennan, Udall said.
“The refusal to provide the full Panetta Review and the refusal to acknowledge facts detailed in both the committee study and the Panetta Review lead to one disturbing finding: Director Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture,” Udall said. “In other words: The CIA is lying.”
Obama, Udall said, “has expressed full confidence in Director Brennan and demonstrated that trust by making no effort at all to rein him in.” Udall additionally referred to Brennan’s “failed leadership” and suggested that he should resign.
As he spoke, Udall continued to give a blistering and detailed account of what he portrayed as the CIA leadership’s refusal to come clean with the American people about its now-defunct interrogation program. Udall accused the CIA of outright lying to the committee during its investigation.
“Torture just didn’t happen, after all,” Udall said. “Real, actual people engaged in torture. Some of these people are still employed by the CIA.”
Udall said it was bad enough not to prosecute these officials, but to reward or promote them, he said, was incomprehensible. Udall called on Obama “to purge” his administration of anyone who was engaged in torturing prisoners.
We all expect the C.I.A. to keep secrets or outright lie about them from the general public. But when they do it to the Senate or even the White House, that is a crime.
The executive summary of the CIA torture report from the Senate Intelligence Committee will hit the streets this morning, but the reaction to it is already hitting the fan.
Various senators of both parties are worried that our enemies will use it as justification for attacks against American embassies around the world. The Obama administration has already put them on heightened alert, which is a prudent thing to do, but it’s not as if we don’t already know what’s in the report and if anyone was going to hit back at us for doing what we did, they would have done it already.
It is right to be concerned about the response. We already know that some very bad people will exploit the report for their own ends or use it to justify attacks on the administration. And I don’t mean just Dick Cheney and the GOP; I’m talking about ISIS and their ilk. But, to echo Paul Waldman, acknowledging the horrors done in our name should make us accountable for what was done.
The darkest chapters in our history and the most outrageous government decisions and programs eventually move from a place of contestation to a place of consensus in public debate. Outside of a few fringe extremists, no one today holds the position that slavery, the Trail of Tears, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, Jim Crow, or the witch hunts of McCarthyism were the right and proper thing for America to do. The Bush torture program may not be even remotely close in scale to those atrocities. But just as there is now consensus that all of those things are moral blots on the country’s history, if the full truth about torture comes out, a consensus could eventually emerge that this, too, is an unambiguous stain.
The cynicism necessary to attempt to blame the blowback from their torture program on those who want it exposed is truly a wonder. On one hand, they insist that they did nothing wrong and the program was humane, professional, and legal. On the other they implicitly accept that the truth is so ghastly that if it is released there will be an explosive backlash against America. Then the same officials who said “Freedom isn’t free!” as they sent other people’s children to fight in needless wars claim that the risk of violence against American embassies is too high a price to pay, so the details of what they did must be kept hidden.
The world already knows what we did. We already know who ordered it and who should be held responsible for what happened then. But like they say in every rehab program, the first and most vital step is admitting we have a problem. The rest is recovery.
Black Friday weekend sales were not as good as last year.
Egypt’s former president gets a walk.
Protestors clash with police in Hong Kong.
Missing Ohio State football player found dead.
Gold and oil prices fall.
Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.
Hong Kong police begin to clear protest site.
Japan falls into recession; Europe hopes to avoid it.
Four killed in Jerusalem synagogue assault.
Parents of hostage killed by ISIS speak out.
Too late — The doctor with Ebola who was brought to Nebraska for treatment died.
NBC executive hired ten weeks ago gets canned.
The leader of Hong Kong refused to resign in the face of the Umbrella movement.
ISIS is pressing their attack on border towns in Syria and Iraq.
None of the 100 people who came in contact with the Ebola patient in Texas are showing symptoms.
Oil prices are dropping; crude is under $90 a barrel.
JP Morgan hacked; over 76 million households affected.
The Tigers got walloped 12-3 by the Orioles in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Intruder made it as far as the East Room in the White House.
Underestimating ISIS was rampant.
Hong Kong Occupy Central movement continues to demand democracy.
Supreme Court blocks early voting in Ohio.
Midwest air travel is still recovering from Friday’s fire at FAA facility.
Club shooting in Miami continues cycle of violence.