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Monday, November 30, 2015

He's not 69, he's 6

by digby

A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

This guy:

Listening to the military

by digby

All the Republicans are saying they would "listen to the military" and follow the Pentagon's advice on how to keep America safe. (Ben Carson is pretty much saying now that he'd turn over all national security to the Pentagon, no questions asked.)

Well, not always:

The 2014 Department of Defense Climate Change Adaptation Road Map report details all the ways our changing climate will impact international conflict and military operations. Sea level rise and more extreme weather events will exacerbate ongoing global conflicts. The effects of climate change will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic diseases, as well as disputes over refugees and dwindling resources.

The Pentagon report does not just allude to terrorism—it mentions it by name:

“We refer to climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we are dealing with today—from infectious disease to terrorism. We are already beginning to see some of these impacts.”

The report goes on to explain how climate change could topple fragile governments by creating an environment that fosters extreme ideologies and terrorism.

But Republicans on Tuesday (the same day the Senate voted to undo President Obama’s power-plant regulations) treated Sanders as if he had made a ludicrous claim. “There is a ballot initiative in Arizona concerning the substance that he must have been consuming,” Senator John McCain said, referring to a measure that would legalize marijuana.



The real threat

by digby

Ian Millhiser:

Friday afternoon, one week after elected officials all over the country tried to block Syrian refugees from entering their states in an apparent effort to fight terrorism, a white man in Colorado committed what appears to be an act of terrorism in a Planned Parenthood clinic. 
Though the details of Robert Lewis Dear’s motives for killing three people in the clinic and injuring nine others are still being revealed, Dear reportedly told law enforcement “no more baby parts,” an apparent reference to heavily edited videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress, which numerous politicians have cited to falsely claim that Planned Parenthood sells “aborted baby parts.” Dear’s actions, in other words, appear to be an act of politically motivated terrorism directed against an institution widely reviled by conservatives. 
Though terrorism perpetrated by Muslims receives a disproportionate amount of attention from politicians and reporters, the reality is that right-wing extremists pose a much greater threat to people in the United States than terrorists connected to ISIS or similar organizations. As UNC Professor Charles Kurzman and Duke Professor David Schanzer explained last June in the New York Times, Islam-inspired terror attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.” Meanwhile, “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.” 

Kurzman and Schanzer’s methodology, moreover, may underestimate the degree to which domestic terrorists in the United States are motivated by right-wing views. As they describe the term in their New York Times piece, the term “right-wing extremist” primarily encompasses anti-government extremists such as members of the sovereign citizen movement, although it also includes racist right-wing groups such as neo-Nazis. Thus, it is not yet clear whether Dear, who made anti-abortion remarks but also reportedly referenced President Obama, was motivated in part by the kind of anti-government views that are the focus of Kurzman and Schanzer’s inquiry.

Eric Boehlert took a look at how the press is covering this:

The deadly gun rampage that erupted inside a Planned Parenthood health care facility in Colorado Springs last week capped a disturbing week of political violence and intimidation from the far right:

*November 22: Armed vigilantes who gathered outside a Dallas area mosque announced they were going to publish the home addresses of local Muslim worshipers and label them "Muslim sympathizers."

*November 23: A man was arrested for leaving a phony explosive device at a Falls Church, Virginia mosque. The suspect allegedly also threw two smoke bombs and a Molotov cocktail toward the building.

*November 23: A Black Lives Matter protester was kicked, punched, and choked at a Donald Trump rally.

*November 24: Four men have been arrested in connection with a shooting at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis. Three of the suspects reportedly were fascinated "with guns, video games, the Confederacy and right-wing militia groups."

If we scan back a few more weeks we see an equally troubling trend:

*November 11: "Two men described by authorities as white supremacists have been charged in Virginia with trying to illegally buy weapons and explosives to use in attacks on synagogues and black churches."

*October 12: Georgia state prosecutors indicted 15 members of a Confederate flag-waving convoy on terroristic threats after they menaced a black family celebrating a birthday party.

Meanwhile, recent months have seen a plague of terror attacks targeting Planned Parenthood facilities, to the point where the FBI in September warned that "it is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities." (The current campaign of terror and harassment is not a new one.)

As CBS reported [emphasis added]:

At that time, there had already been nine criminal or suspicious incidents in seven states and the District of Columbia. In one incident, someone poured gasoline on a New Orleans Planned Parenthood security guard's car and set the vehicle on fire.

According to the FBI, there was another incident in July in Aurora, Colorado, in which someone poured gasoline around the entrance of a Planned Parenthood facility there, causing a fire.

So, in just the last three months we've seen a car set on fire, Molotov cocktails allegedly thrown at a house of worship, terroristic threats leveled against a family, liberal protesters gunned down by radicals, and a medical facility stormed by an anti-abortion/anti-government gunman who killed civilians and a policeman.

What portrait do those events paint in your mind? And is that portrait of radical homegrown violence and terrorism the one you've seen conveyed in the press following the Colorado Springs terror attack?

It's not the one I've been seeing.

Media Matters for years has documented how Fox News in particular has used a blinding double standard in terms of casting wide, cultural and religious aspersions when covering terror attacks involving Muslim attackers, versus how it deals with homegrown political violence from the right. (It was Fox News' Brian Kilmeade who once confidently declared, "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.")

But the problem extends beyond Fox News. The larger conservative media echo chamber seems to have convinced the mainstream press that domestic terrorism, often carried out by white American men, somehow doesn't pose the same threat and doesn't need to be treated as a lurking menace the way ISIS terrorism does. (That heightened sense of panic also fanned the right-wing media hysteria about Syrian refugees.)

In other words, the endless dots of domestic terrorism in the U.S. simply are not connected to portray a larger danger to our safety. (For more recent examples of deadly plots and attacks see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

The simple truth is that from neo-Nazis killers, to a rash of women's health clinic bombings and attacks, as well as assaults on law enforcement from anti-government extremists, acts of right-wing extreme violence continue to unfold regularly in the United States.

There's more at the link including some of Boehlert's typically sharp analysis (as well as links to all the press counts he mentions.)

Nothing to see here people. Move along.

QOTD: Anti-choice zealots "they had it coming" edition

by digby

Hey, if you don't want to get shot, don't go to a Planned Parenthood clinic. That's pretty much what these anti-abortion leaders told Irin Carmon at MSNBC:
“After all these years and millions of babies that have gone to their death, violence is to be anticipated,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League, in a phone interview with MSNBC. “Because it’s acceptable to violently kill a baby, so why isn’t it acceptable to violently kill other people?”

“We never approve of violence against anybody, whether it’s the unborn babies or the clients of Planned Parenthood or anybody else,” Ann Scheidler, vice president of the Pro-Life Action League, told MSNBC. But, she added, “it’s not the fault of the pro-life movement that someone found out that Planned Parenthood is doing these things. It’s the fault of Planned Parenthood for selling the baby parts.”

Yes, they really said that. And more:

Evidence linking Dear to the movement is still scant, Mahoney said. “Let’s not take the death of innocent people to promote a political agenda,” he said. “Planned Parenthood is doing exactly what they accuse the pro-life community of doing. They accuse us all the time of using inflammatory rhetoric and hateful language to promote our agenda.”

In 1995, after a gunman killed two Planned Parenthood workers in Brookline, Massachusetts, Bernard Cardinal Law, then the Archbishop of Boston, called for a moratorium on protesting outside abortion clinics. (New York’s archbishop disagreed, saying he would follow suit only “on condition that a moratorium be called on abortions.”) There have been no such calls forthcoming this time around.

The suggestion makes Scheidler, vice president of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, bristle. “Planned Parenthood is a villain,” she said. “They undermine the integrity of families and the morality of young teen girls and kill babies on a regular basis, day after day. We’re not going to say, ‘Oh, poor Planned Parenthood, we should never say anything negative about what they call ‘services.’ Because they are a blight on our culture.”

The Christian Defense Coalition’s Mahoney said, “Our movement utterly condemns violence.” Asked about the fact that Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger was convicted of conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic, Mahoney said, “Cheryl Sullenger did time in prison for her actions. She now works peacefully to end the violence of abortion.” (Operation Rescue did not return a message requesting an interview but condemned the attack on their website.)

What about Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue and an advisor to the Center for Medical Progress? Newman wrote in his 2003 book that “the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.” (Last week, presidential candidate and Senator Ted Cruz accepted Newman’s endorsement.)

“If you read that within the entire context of the book,” Mahoney said, “Troy addressed that is after they held a trial.”

Scheidler’s Pro-Life Action League is among the organizations that publishes the names, faces, and addresses of abortion providers. Asked if such disclosures could make providers feel unsafe, she replied, “We don’t pose any threat, we in the mainstream pro-life movement…. If they feel threatened, they can always get out of that business, I suppose. It’s not something that would make us back off on our mission.”

One notorious anti-abortion activist, who has long been an open supporter of violence against abortion providers, broke with the movement in offering direct support to Dear.

Donald Spitz, who runs the Army of God website and is based in Virginia, said of his fellow anti-abortion activists’ condemnations of violence, “They say that all the time. I think they’re hypocritical.”

While many groups insist violence against abortion providers is counterproductive to their cause, Spitz suggested such rhetoric is disingenuous. Referring to Scott Roeder, who murdered abortion provider George Tiller and who Spitz calls a friend, Spitz said, “How could that be counterproductive when he stopped them from providing abortions? They’ve lost their mind. They’re into political correctness way too far.”

As for Spitz’s own reaction, “I think Planned Parenthood is an evil organization, so I didn’t lose any sleep when I heard about it,” Spitz said. “They sell baby parts, and they reap what they sow, and now they’re complaining about it.”

He added, “There are no innocent people in Planned Parenthood. They’re in there for a reason.”

Just don't say any of these people are inciting anyone to kill people because that would be wrong. They just think that Planned Parenthood is dismembering living babies for profit and that it's perfectly natural for someone to want to kill them. And if someone happens to be there to support a friend it's unfortunate collateral damage. Maybe people should think twice before supporting any woman who would go to Planned Parenthood for any reason.

You can decide for yourself whether it matters that one of our major political parties is completely cowed by these terrorists.


They're picking up sides

by digby

The movement conservatives are making their choice:

"Troubled souls" and terrorism

by digby

I wrote about the Planned Parenthood attack for Salon today:

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the head of the FBI James Comey made this statement:
“We are not aware of any credible threat here of a Paris-type attack and we have seen no connection at all between the Paris attackers and the United States. The threat here focuses primarily on troubled souls in America who are being inspired or enabled online to do something violent for ISIL. We have stopped a lot of those people this year.”
He’s been saying this for some time, often using this phrase, “troubled souls,” to describe would-be terrorists. He’s also frequently used the term “lone wolves,” which are usually defined this way:
“A lone wolf or lone-wolf terrorist is someone who commits violent acts in support of some group, movement, or ideology, but who does so alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group. Although the lone wolf prepares and acts alone, he/she may be influenced or motivated by the ideology and beliefs of an external group.”
“These homegrown violent extremists are troubled souls, who are seeking meaning in some misguided way. And so they come across the propaganda and they become radicalized on their own, sort of independent study, and they’re also able to equip themselves with training again through the Internet, and then engage in jihad after emerging from their basement.”
All the experts say this is the scenario that keeps them up at night. It’s no longer a group of foreign terrorists simultaneously hijacking four jet liners and flying them into skyscrapers and the Pentagon that worries them, it’s these lone wolf attacks like the Tsarnaev brothers and their homemade pressure cooker bombs or the man who opened fire on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tenn., killing five servicemen.
There are several approaches to dealing with this problem but it really comes down to a question of whether the government should surveil everyone to find that lone wolf who might become radicalized through exposure to terrorist rhetoric or work through community outreach to try to calm the waters and keep these people from becoming radicalized in the first place. It’s a difficult challenge in that the internet allows those with mental and emotional issues to seek out demagogues who are happy to encourage their violent tendencies, focus their anger and give them license to to carry out terrorist acts as a twisted demonstration of deepest moral conscience. Most experts suggest some combination of those approaches stand the best chance of success.
In the case of ISIS, appealing to the decency of the terrorists who are encouraging this behavior is obviously a waste of time. But there are a lot of “troubled souls” in this country who are not Muslim and do not look for meaning from the likes of ISIS terrorists in the Middle East. They look a little closer to home for permission to carry out their violent desires. And there is plenty of inspiration. They don’t have to search in the dark corners of the internet or use encryption or travel to a foreign land to meet people who will stoke their violent urges and give them a moral purpose.  They can just tune in to a Republican presidential debate:
Carly Fiorina: I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.
Ted Cruz: Well, let me tell you, Dana, number one, I’m proud to stand for life. These Planned Parenthood videos are horrifying. I would encourage every American to watch the videos. See — seeing your Planned Parenthood officials callously, heartlessly bartering and selling the body parts of human beings, and then ask yourself, “are these my values?” These are horrifying. On these videos, Planned Parenthood also essentially confesses to multiple felonies. It is a felony with ten years’ jail term to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit. That’s what these videos show Planned Parenthood doing.
Huckabee: It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.
If some “troubled soul” didn’t know better, he might just think he needed to step up to do something serious about what these very important, mainstream presidential candidates are describing as not just criminal, but barbaric behavior on the level of say… ISIS. They are describing gory mayhem that actually goes beyond the radical jihadi’s horror show because the depraved Planned Parenthood butchers are alleged to be dismembering children purely for monetary profit.
None of it is true, of course. It has have all been thoroughly Fact Checked and the claims on those doctored videos have been proven false. A few Planned Parenthood facilities provide scientists with fetal tissue for vital and important medical research, with the permission of the woman from whom it’s obtained, and the only money that was ever exchanged was for reimbursement of costs. There was no selling of “baby parts.” There were no live infants being killed on the table to “harvest their brains.” The tissue that was donated to medical research has resulted in important breakthroughs in the hunt for a cure for many life threatening diseases. But that hasn’t stopped irresponsible political leaders and anti-abortion zealots from flogging this reprehensible lie in a race to see who can most graphically prove his or her anti-abortion bona fides.
At the time of this writing we don’t know for sure that a man who shot a dozen people, killing three, in the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic this past weekend did what he did as a form of terrorism against abortion providers. Members of the right wing, who are obsessively vigilant in their warnings about radical Islamic terrorism, have been twisting themselves into pretzels for days trying to excuse this event as the simple act of a madman or finding some inane way to suggest that he was actually a bank-robber or a leftwing activist. But let’s just say that it’s unlikely he hit the Planned Parenthood clinic by coincidence and started babbling about “baby parts” out of the blue.

Much more at the link...
They built this

guest post by Cliff Schecter

I've purposely not written about what happened at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs until now. As someone who proudly sits on the Boards of Planned Parenthood of SW Ohio and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio (where I serve at Treasurer), and a longtime advocate for gun safety, I don't think it would've been a good idea. My anger level had reached a point where I would have said a number of things I'd probably regret.

That's because lying guttersnipes like Carly Fiorina & Ted Cruz played a role in this, as did edited-video-producing snake oil salesmen, back-bench Congressmen/women holding hearings doubling as witchunts and television & radio shows that don't care a whit about the truth. They all work their hardest to incite riot, and then act shocked when the lone wolf--the crazy Christianist version of the suicide bomber--takes it upon himself to stop the atrocities only going on in their monologues and his head.

They built this.

Then there are our gun laws. Right wing lunatics who pretend to be our "representatives" wail about how this is a "mental health" issue, but then block the very background checks that would look at someone's mental health records before selling them a weapon whose only purpose is to kill. So the same people who rile up murderers, arm them. Charming.

I can only speak for myself, and not any of the organizations where I play some role. I'm more determined than yesterday to make sure my kids grow up in a state, country and world where women have true equality, including the abortion rights they're guaranteed by our Constitution. And gun laws that prioritize the safety of the rest of us, our "general welfare" and "domestic tranquility" as the document says, over "rights" of terrorists & murderers.

The French were out at cafes the night after the attacks. That seems like a model worth emulating.

ISIS update: The world is halfway to 2°C warming

by Gaius Publius

Bernie Sanders at the second Democratic debate. Because Debbie Wasserman Schultz scheduled this debate on a Saturday during the run-up to the college football playoffs, close to half of the previous Democratic debate audience missed this exchange.

This is Bernie Sanders at the second Democratic debate:
CBS's John Dickerson, the event's moderator, asked Sanders if he still believes climate change represents the biggest outside threat to U.S. safety one day more than 120 people were killed in terrorist attacks on Paris that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has taken credit for.

“Absolutely,” the Vermont senator responded. “Climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism and if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world ... struggling over limited amounts of water and land to grow their crops and you’re going to see all kinds of conflict.”

Earlier at the debate, Sanders hit party front-runner Hillary Clinton for voting to authorize the invasion of Iraq, saying the war had led to the rise of ISIS.
While right-wing pundits, many Democrats and some in the debate audience were surprised by this claim, it has been verified in many venues, including the pages of Time magazine. Sanders reiterated this position on "Face the Nation":
“The reason is pretty obvious: If we are going to see an increase in drought and flood and extreme weather disturbances as a result of climate change, what that means is that peoples all over the world are going to be fighting over limited natural resources,” Sanders said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“If there is not enough water, if there is not enough land to grow your crops, then you’re going to see migrants of people fighting over land that will sustain them, and that will lead to international conflict,” he added.
Notice that Sanders' claim is that climate change is "directly related to" terrorism, not the "sole cause of" it. Even Politifact agrees (my emphasis): "We couldn’t find any evidence of a "direct" relationship between climate change and terrorism, though many reports have noted an indirect link," despite its bottom-line negative rating.

My piece on that is here — "ISIS, Climate Change & Mass Migration of Peoples" — and I'm not the only one making this case. There are peer-reviewed papers (pdf) making the same point. So let's move to the real news, a short peek at the future.

The world is halfway to 2°C

I called this piece an "ISIS Update" for a reason. If you hated what happened in Paris — which also happened to people you've probably never seen a moment of silence for, the recently murdered, unmourned in the West, dead in Beirut — then you're not going to like this news. While we've been coddling the billionaires and politicians who control and enable the oil and gas industries, global warming has hit another milestone (my emphasis):
The World is Halfway to 2°C

It’s all but certain that 2015 will end up as the hottest year on record. And in setting that mark, the world is on track to finish the year 1°C above pre-industrial levels, a dubious milestone.

That would make 2015 the first year to crack the halfway mark of 2°C warming, the benchmark that’s been targeted as “safe” climate change and what nations are working toward meeting ahead of climate talks in Paris in December. But Monday’s announcement by the U.K. Met Office hints at how difficult achieving that target will be.

Unlike carbon dioxide, which has risen steadily like a drumbeat every year since the Industrial Revolution due to human activities, the temperature is likely to fluctuate annually and could dip slightly in the coming years (though signs already point to 2016 being even hotter). But the 1°C of warming shows how humans are reshaping the climate in the here and now and not some distant future.

The Met Office maintains one of the four major global temperature records. It shows that through September, the planet is running 1.8°F (1.02°C) above normal. El Niño, the warming of waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, is a contributing factor. But it’s being layered on top of a long-term climate change signal, which has seen the world get hotter and hotter since record keeping began in the late 1800s.
Don't be confused about what that means. Not only is the rate of increase in carbon emissions accelerating, but there's a hidden additional number, the amount of warming that's already "in the pipeline," inevitable, no matter what we do.

Add the "in the pipeline" warming and we're half a degree away

Halfway to 2°C warming is what we're experiencing at present. But if you touch a very hot stove, your hand continues to "cook" even after you remove it from the heat. There's damage "in the pipeline" even if you remove the cause, even if that hand goes into very cold water immediately.

The same with global warming. If we stopped all carbon emissions now, there's still warming "in the pipeline." According to climate scientist Michael Mann in an interview I did with him last year, even if we stopped this minute — zero carbon dioxide emissions from this second forward — the atmosphere would still heat to +1.5°C from pre-Industrial levels.

If you don't want to translate that warming to sea level rise four decades from now, translate that to stressed populations around the world now. Or as Sanders says, to people suffering from "an increase in drought and flood" and "not enough water ... not enough land to grow your crops" today. Translate it as a force multiplier to what we're seeing this minute, in every growing season, from California to Syria, as water becomes more and more scarce.

We can (falsely) blame only religion for the Middle East blowing up. We can burn through every dollar we can create in a massive military response. But every turn of the climate screw ratchets a pressure that just won't go away — until we stop placing men like Exxon's Rex Tillerson (below) in charge of whether he and his friends stay rich.

Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, setting U.S. energy policy for as long as we let him.

Climate change causes global chaos in an increasingly aggressive spiral. That chaos takes many forms, from the mass migrations we're now seeing, to increasing drought, famine and disease — i.e., mass death — to an increasing fight for fewer and fewer resources by more and more desperate and angry people. None of this will be pretty. None will be simply explained. And none will be stoppable until stress factors, including climate-induced factors, are reduced and removed.

How soon is too soon to act against climate stress? Should we stop the deadly climate spiral now? Or should we maybe wait another decade? Your call.

Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you like, you can help him here; adjust the split any way you wish at the link.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



Blame by what mechanism?

by Tom Sullivan

Going to talk about the Paris and Colorado Springs attacks, but first...

On Saturday, the government's program for bulk collection of phone records ended, sorta:

The language in the US Justice Department statement is far from inspiring, written in bland legalese, but it still represents an important victory for the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The statement, dated 28 November 2015, says: “Final temporary reauthorization of the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata data program in the US expires.”

But only sorta, says Marcy Wheeler:

Just a tiny corner of the phone dragnet will shut down, and the government will continue to collect “telephony metadata records in bulk … including records of both U.S. and non-U.S. persons” under EO 12333. Hypothetically, for every single international call that had been picked up under the Section 215 dragnet and more (at a minimum, because NSA collects phone records overseas with location information), a matching record has been and will continue to be collected overseas, under EO 12333.

They’re still collecting your phone records in bulk, not to mention collecting a great deal of your Internet records in bulk as well. BREAKING.

What interests me here is how a former government official (and a former George W. Bush press secretary) can blame Snowden somehow for the Paris attacks. Glenn Greenwald took to the pages of the L.A. Times last week to counter that claim:

Former CIA chief James Woolsey said Snowden "has blood on his hands" because, he asserted, the Paris attackers learned from his disclosures how to hide their communications behind encryption. Woolsey thus decreed on CNN that the NSA whistleblower should be "hanged by the neck until he's dead, rather than merely electrocuted."

In one sense, this blame-shifting tactic is understandable. After all, the CIA, the NSA and similar agencies receive billions of dollars annually from Congress and have been vested by their Senate overseers with virtually unlimited spying power. They have one paramount mission: find and stop people who are plotting terrorist attacks. When they fail, of course they are desperate to blame others.

Greenwald continues, "CIA officials simply made that up" about Snowden. It is just as likely the attackers laid their plans in face-to-face meetings. Nevertheless, As someday it may happen that a victim must be found, the CIA has got a little list. They've got a little list.

What the Snowden disclosures actually revealed to the world was that the U.S. government is monitoring the Internet communications and activities of everyone else: hundreds of millions of innocent people under the largest program of suspicionless mass surveillance ever created, a program that multiple federal judges have ruled is illegal and unconstitutional.

So, I'm just wondering. If Snowden's disclosure of illegal and unconstitutional government spying is somehow to blame for motivating terrorism in Paris (by people who need no further motivation), why can't the makers of the doctored videos that allege Planned Parenthood sells "baby parts" be somehow to blame for motivating what the Justice Department reportedly considers domestic terrorism against Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs? And Carly Fiorina too, for vigorously hyping the "baby parts" narrative? Not saying they are somehow to blame – Robert “no more baby parts” Dear's motivations are still unclear – but the murky mechanism for assigning Snowden blame for Paris might seem, on its face, to apply to assigning blame for Colorado Springs as well. And if not, why not? Just looking for the operative principle here. Or is it lack of principles?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Nothing to offer but fear itself

by digby

Paul Rosenberg has a nice piece up at Salon today about the fear party. Worth reading the whole thing:

Under the presidency of George W. Bush, the so-called “Daddy Party” failed spectacularly on all major adult-male-gender-stereotyped fronts.

On the economic front, its record was terrible, even before it brought us the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression; on the military/national security front, its failure to prevent 9/11—the worst foreign attack on American soil since the War of 1812—was only compounded by its fighting-fire-with-gasoline response, turning both Iraq and Afghanistan into incubators for new generations of jihadists. On the science front, it presided over a widening war on science. In short, the entire framework of the “Daddy Party” construct fell into disrepute by the time Bush left office in 2008.

But now—thanks to the terrorist attacks in Paris—there’s a full-on rush to try to resurrect it. Only of course it’s an incoherent mess, with more focus on spreading fear than countering it. Donald Trump has benefited most on the GOP side, with his quick-draw tough talk, but it was similarly mindless, fact-free tough talk that made such a mess of things post-9/11 in the first place, and this time there’s not even a hint of an actual plan—it’s all just heated bluster, and denouncing Democrats for not frothing at the mouth just like them.

The panic over Syrian refugees is particularly revealing in this regard. Not one American has died at the hands of a refugee either during or since 9/11, although there have been 745,000 of them. Yet, irrational fear of these refugees has defined the only “coherent” policy response the GOP has come up with—both among myth-driven governors and in the shutdown-happy Congress. But when it comes to actually confronting ISIS, they’ve got nothing unified except a PC rampage against Democrats not using the phrase “radical Islam;” aside from that it’s a smorgasbord of proposals ranging from basically endorsing Hillary Clinton’s position (John Kasich) to cutting off their money (Paul and Fiorina) to grandstanding in Congress (Cruz), to reinvading Iraq, with a side of Syria (Bush, Graham and Santorum), to total war (“destroy them”—Carson) or multi-front bellicosity (Trump).

Overall, it skews heavily toward an amped-up front-line war, which is exactly what the terrorists want. It’s what they wanted from the 9/11 attacks, and it’s just what we gave them, and we only got a vastly stronger terrorist enemy as a result. So the “Daddy Party” script is already a proven failure. It’s done. It has no foundation in the adult world of facts, only in infantile, fear-filled imaginations, which is why there’s been so much GOP focus on circulating discredited scare stories.

The only thing that doesn't scar them is all these heavily armed white guys roaming the country and randomly mowing down strangers. For some reason that's just no big deal.

read the whole thing.
Sunday Funnies for an unfunny Sunday

by digby

This one's from the great Tom Tomorrow, back in June of 2009:

Deja vu all over again.

"Gentle loner" or "rabble-rouser"? Just don't call them terrorists.

by digby

Ask yourself what kind of manhunt would be on if this guy were Muslim:

After tracing the cross-country movements of a menacing anti-Muslim rabble-rouser from Arizona, the FBI took the unusual step of issuing an alert to New York law enforcement agencies to look out for him, sources said.

The FBI got involved after a Muslim group based near Albany notified the agency that Jon Ritzheimer, 32, of Phoenix had posted a video on Nov. 18 in which he showed a gun, made profane anti-Obama statements and said he was driving cross-country to confront them, sources and a group spokesman said.

Agents were able to talk with him initially, but two days later, when he was in Scranton, Penn., he got angry and cut off communication with them. At that point, the alert, citing a “potential threat to law enforcement,” was issued, sources said.

Ritzheimer, a former Marine, has made threats against Muslims a personal cause. He has organized an armed protest at a Phoenix mosque, threatened to “arrest” all senators who voted for President Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran, and encouraged all Americans to carry rifles in public.

I'm glad they're on the look-out, but if his name were Mohammed and this alert went out, do you think the news media would have been on it? I think they would have.

Meanwhile, The New York Times described the Planned Parenthood attacker as a "gentle loner":

They later removed the word "gentle." But the overall assumption in the press is that this was just some crazy loner guy whose political agenda is not to be taken seriously because he just a crazy loner guy. Except for all the Planned Parenthood attacks, bombings, and murders over the years, they might even be right.

It's obvious that we cannot describe white Americans as terrorists no matter what they do. FBI chief James Comey refused to characterize that Charleston killer Dylan Roof as a terrorist. Very few right winger have been even been willing to speculate that a man who shot a dozen people in a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic and said "no more baby parts" might have been politically motivated, much less a terrorist.

This anti-Muslim nutcase who is threatening to kill Muslims and threatens to "arrest" Senators is just a tabloid story. It's a good thing they aren't over-publicizing his threats and making him into some kind of superman monster because that's what he wants. But then, so does ISIS and that never stopped them from fearmongering 24/7.



Your moment of respite in a world gone mad

by digby

Otters and others:

Uhm... there you go.

Lies, damned lies and statistics

by digby

An interesting little piece about Florida 2000.

An example of an extremely significant, decidedly unintended result of a relatively tiny event can be nightmarish. This one is, at least for me. It concerns the role I played in getting George W. Bush elected president in 2000. That I was the butterfly whose fluttering cascaded into Bush’s election still pains me. I had written an op-ed for the New York Times titled “We’re Measuring Bacteria with a Yardstick” in which I argued that the vote in Florida had been so close that the gross apparatus of the state’s electoral system was incapable of discerning the difference between the candidates’ vote totals. Given the problems with the hanging chads, the misleading ballots (in retrospect, aptly termed “butterfly ballots”), the missing and military ballots, a variety of other serious flaws and the six million votes cast, there really was no objective reality of the matter.

Later when the Florida Supreme Court weighed in, Chief Justice Charles T. Wells cited me in his dissent from the majority decision of the rest of his court to allow for a manual recount of the undervote in Florida. Summarizing the legal maneuverings, I simply note that in part because of Wells’s dissent the ongoing recount was discontinued, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, and George Bush was (s)elected president.

Specifically, Judge Wells wrote, “I agree with a quote by John Allen Paulos, a professor of mathematics at Temple University, when he wrote that, ‘the margin of error in this election is far greater than the margin of victory, no matter who wins.’ Further judicial process will not change this self-evident fact and will only result in confusion and disorder.” (Incidentally, the CNN senior political analyst at the time, Jeff Greenfield, cited the quote in his book on the 2000 presidential election, “Oh, Waiter! One Order of Crow!,” and wrote, “The single wisest word about Florida was delivered not by a pundit but by mathematician John Allen Paulos.” I doubt, however, that Greenfield thought it was reason to stop the recount.)

I was surprised and flattered, I admit, by the judge but also very distressed that my words were used to support a position with which I disagreed. Vituperative e-mails I received didn’t help. Many were angry that I would support Bush. Some were clearly demented. With all due respect to these correspondents and the esteemed judge, I believed and still believe that the statistical tie in the Florida election supported a conclusion opposite to the one Wells drew. The tie seemed to lend greater weight to the fact that Al Gore received almost half a million more popular votes nationally than did Bush. If anything, the dead heat in Florida could be seen as giving Gore’s national plurality the status of a moral tiebreaker. At the very least the decision of the rest of the court to allow for a manual recount should have been honored since Florida’s vote was pivotal in the Electoral College. Even flipping a commemorative Gore-Bush coin in the capitol in Tallahassee would have been justified since the vote totals were essentially indistinguishable.

I have always thought this made sense. The tie should have gone to the guy who had the most votes nationally. But the Republican line at the tome was "rulz-is-rulz" (except when they're not) so they did everything in their power to preserve that supposed 535 vote margin so they could say they "won" even though it was clear that they didn't.

I don't know how much that move has contributed to this country's cynicism about our leaders, our system and our government but it sure contributed to mine.


The Running Imam

by Tom Sullivan

More tales of the drone wars.

Citizen, now you can do your part to fight international terrorism from the comfort of your own MQ-9 Reaper drone console. Citing "lack of appropriately cleared and currently qualified MQ-9 pilots," the Air Force is now hiring civilian contractors to fly the patrols in "global hot spots," reports the L.A. Times:

For the first time, civilian pilots and crews now operate what the Air Force calls "combat air patrols," daily round-the-clock flights above areas of military operations to provide video and collect other sensitive intelligence.


Civilians are not allowed to pinpoint targets with lasers or fire missiles. They operate only Reapers that provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, known as ISR, said Air Force Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command.

So that's comforting. Still:

A lengthy article in the 2013 Air Force Law Review, a publication of the judge advocate general's office, contended that over-reliance on contractors in a combat zone risks violating international law that prohibits direct civilian participation in hostilities.

It cites a Predator missile attack that killed 15 civilians in central Afghanistan in February 2010. Although the military piloted and operated the drone, the decision to fire a Hellfire missile "was largely based upon intelligence analysis conducted and reported by a civilian contractor."

Pardon my noticing, but the United States abandoned all pretense of following international law when it invaded Iraq on Trumped-up™ intelligence and began torturing prisoners. Now we are worried about blurring the lines between the military and civilians? Does Blackwater ring any bells?

There is a reason the Air Force is having trouble finding and retaining drone pilots for its point-and-click assassination program. Pilots are quitting in record numbers:

Some say that the drone war has driven them over the edge. "How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile? How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?" Heather Linebaugh, a former drone imagery analyst, wrote in the Guardian. "When you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience."

"It was horrifying to know how easy it was. I felt like a coward because I was halfway across the world and the guy never even knew I was there," Bryant told KNPR Radio in Nevada. "I felt like I was haunted by a legion of the dead. My physical health was gone, my mental health was crumbled. I was in so much pain I was ready to eat a bullet myself."

Four former drone-team members held a press conference this month about killing by remote control and the grotesque culture of it. “We have seen the abuse firsthand and we are horrified,” said former Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Bryant:

The killings, part of the Obama administration’s targeted assassination program, are aiding terrorist recruitment and thus undermining the program’s goal of eliminating such fighters, the veterans added. Drone operators refer to children as “fun-size terrorists” and liken killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long,” said one of the operators, Michael Haas, a former senior airman in the Air Force. Haas also described widespread drug and alcohol abuse, further stating that some operators had flown missions while impaired.

Haas was reprimanded for failing a trainee who expressed a willingness to kill people spotted on the ground because "they look like they are up to no good." But pilots are in short supply. Superiors ordered him to pass students in the future to maintain a steady supply. Bryant told reporters of a time his Predator drone crew fired a Hellfire missile at "five tribal individuals and their camel" believed to be carrying explosives from Pakistan to Afghanistan for use in attacking American troops. Bryant saw no sign of weapons:

“We waited for those men to settle down in their beds and then we killed them in their sleep. That was cowardly murder,” he said.

The group issued a public letter to President Obama about their concerns. Their bank accounts and credit cards have since been locked, alleges Jesselyn Radack, a national security and human rights attorney, known for her defense of whistleblowers, journalists, and hacktivists:

It is all pretty creepy. Like a real-life version of The Running Man, except the targets of the game show's "stalkers" are not even convicted murderers, but people who from 20,000 feet and half a world away look like they are up to no good, people who "must have done something" to justify death. What do we call this ugly reality show, The Running Imam?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Because you need this

by digby

Love those guys.

Tyranny in the eye of the beholder

by digby


Here's an interesting factoid about contemporary policing: In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. Martin Armstrong pointed this out at his blog, Armstrong Economics, last week.

Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime — yes, really! — through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.

That turns out not to be quite right because it didn't count other forms of larceny. Still, this is a truly amazing statistic. They just take the stuff, no due process, nothing. And they keep it to use for more law enforcement.

For some reason most conservatives have no problem with this. But taxing you for roads and bridges is tyranny. I don't get it.

How to make a paranoid police state

by digby

There are lots of methods. They probably work best in combination but you can get a lot done with just one thing: fear.

Here's an interesting piece in the New York Times about Trumpism by Timothy Egan;

In “The Plot Against America,” the novelist Philip Roth imagines an alternative history at the dawn of World War II. Charles A. Lindbergh, aviator hero and crypto-fascist, defeats Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. Rather than go to war against Nazi Germany, he foments an atmosphere of hatred directed at Jews in the United States.

President Lindbergh’s rule is based on fear. He can violate the Constitution because enough Americans do not mind limiting the freedom of a suspect minority in the name of security.

Of course, it could never happen here. It’s a novel, silly boy — one of late-stage Roth’s better efforts. Made-up stuff. That’s what I’ve always thought. But over the last three months, in listening to plans of the Republican presidential front-runner and the views of his increasingly thuggish followers, I’m starting to have some dark fears should Donald Trump become president.

Do read on. It's quite interesting.

Oh, and apropos of nothing:

It was 21h32 on November 13th when time stopped in France and around the world as Paris was attacked in its heart. One hundred and thirty people were killed while enjoying dinners with friends, celebrating birthdays, and dancing at a concert. The French government, with the support of most of the population and political groups, rapidly declared a state of emergency that was initially scheduled to last 12 days. This drastic measure, not used since World War II, altered the normal balance of powers in France, giving more discretion to the President and the government.

The following week, as the police and military forces were tracking the perpetrators of the attacks, people around the world sent messages showing their support for the people of Paris, and France was moved by an unprecedented rush of solidarity. Since several suspects remained at large, the President requested that the parliament extend the state of emergency to three months, and modify the French law on the state of emergency, which dates from 1955. Parliament granted both requests with limited opposition, despite the absence of justification for the changes, and despite the fact that the modifications created new measures extending surveillance powers and limiting freedoms. More radical changes could come as the French have government has chosen this difficult period to consider modifying the Constitution, which would officially shift France from the Fifth to the Sixth Republic.

Before the attacks

France has historically been a country with a strong tradition of defending human rights. The French Revolution and the Enlightenment inspired many human rights declarations around the world. Despite this proud record, more recently abuses and violations of those universal rights have taking place in France, as highlighted in a recent Human Rights Watch report. The past two years have been particularly liberticide. Ostensibly in response to terrorist threats, France has passed no fewer than four separate laws extending its surveillance powers since December 2014: the Military Programming law, the Anti-Terrorism law, the Intelligence law, and the International Surveillance law. Together, these laws have made France an all-seeing state, capable of monitoring the population, collecting and retaining personal data for excessive periods, snooping on the private communications of individuals in France or abroad, and the list goes on. Given France’s ever-expanding surveillance authorities, many see the government’s immediate response to the attacks in Paris as relatively measured and calm. However, it may simply be that there are not many more surveillance powers for the government to seek. That said, the newly adopted proposals have nevertheless further extended the French surveillance state to extremes never previously seen in the digital age.

What is in the new law on the state of emergency?

The law adopted on November 20th declares a state of emergency in all French territories for three months, during which:

Warrantless house searches are authorised night and day, unless the house is occupied by a lawyer or a member of Parliament. This authority is granted by the Home Affairs minister or the Prefect of a region. The law also provides that a prosecutor be notified without undue delay. While remaining broad, this measure is a limitation of the 1955 law that authorised such house searches without notifying a prosecutor. If there is a wrongful or unsupported search, an individual can seek redress from of an administrative court.
Warrantless searches of electronic devices are authorised. Data can be accessed and copied by law enforcement.

The Home Affairs minister has the power to place individuals under house arrest if “there are serious reasons to believe that his/her behavior constitutes a threat to security and public order”, a provision created under the 1955 law. Now, these individuals can also be placed under invasive surveillance. While the parliament debated whether to prevent these individuals from accessing the internet, members of parliament abandoned the idea because the French constitutional court previously established that access to the internet is a fundamental right. However, the Home Affairs minister can order a limit or temporary suspension of their communications.

The government has the right to dissolve groups or associations that "take part in the execution of acts that represent a serious infringement to public order or whose activities facilitate or incite the execution of such acts." Under French law, public order is a subjective notion, which can be interpreted in different ways depending on the situation. It has never been defined by the French constitutional court.

The law includes a measure to allow authorities to block websites that promote or incite terrorism, without the intervention of a judge. However, this mirrors a proposal that was already adopted in November of last year during reform of the Anti-Terrorism law, and that measure remains in effect. This makes the new measure nearly duplicative. Under the new provision, the limited oversight mechanism provided in the Anti-Terrorism law, which has been executed by the national data protection authority called CNIL, is no longer compulsory, and it is not clear whether there will be any mechanism for redress.

Silver lining: The 1955 law gave authorities control of the media, and this is no longer authorised.

But the biggest change might be yet to come. François Hollande, the French President, has announced a proposal to modify the French constitution to “adapt the State’s response to emergency situations.” The Prime Minister has been tasked with preparing this proposal, and it is expected to be released in the next few weeks. While everyone awaits the release, several political groups are already expressing doubt as to whether the government needs to modify the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, which has been in place since 1958. A change in the constitution would officially create the Sixth Republic in France.

More at the link. They've put climate activists under house arrest.Evidently they must believe they are in cahoots with ISIS. Or they're using their expanded powers for other purposes. I wonder what it could be?


QOTW: Trumpie

by digby

Talking about the "bad people":

We can’t let it happen anymore. We have to be strong, we have to smart. We have to be fair, we have to be fair to all side. And it’s tough. You know, if you’re Muslim — and there are so many, they’re so great, they’re such good people — but we to be smart, because it’s coming from this area. I mean, there’s something going on. There’s some nastiness, there’s some meanness there. There’s something going on in the mosques and other places. And we have to at least say there’s a problem so we can solve it. We can’t close our eyes.

I don’t know what’s wrong with Obama — he wants to close his eyes and pretend it’s not happening. Why is he so emphatic on not solving the problem? There’s something we don’t know about! There’s something we don’t know about. (Shouts from the audience can be heard, declaring that Obama is a Muslim.)

So, we have to go out — and again, the greatest source for this is our local police. And the really greatest source is all of you, because you have all those eyes. And you see what’s happening. People move into a house a block down the road — you know who’s going in. You can see. And you report them to the local police. You know, it’s too complicated — call the federal government, who do we call? it’s a big bureaucratic mess, nobody knows what they’re doing, okay?

But you people, and me and everybody, you know when somebody moves to an apartment near you, or to a house near you — you’re pretty smart, right? We know if there’s something going on. Report them! Most likely you’ll be wrong, and that’s okay. But let the local police go in and check out [sic], and you’ll get rid of this stuff. That’s the best way. Everybody’s their own cop, in a way — I mean, you gotta do it, you gotta do it.

We might like to think that's way outside the mainstream. But unfortunately, it isn't:

"Mississippi is a great state, but like all 50 states it has troubled souls that might look to find meaning in this sick, misguided way. The challenge that we face in law enforcement is that they may be getting exposed to that poison and that training in their basement," Comey said. "They're sitting there consuming and may emerge from the basement to kill people of any sort, which is the call of ISIL, just kill somebody."

So he stressed that the threat is very real, not just for military or law enforcement or the media, all of whom have been warned by the FBI that ISIS could be gunning for them, but for ordinary citizens as well.

"If you can video tape it all the better, if it's law enforcement all the better, if you can cut somebody's head off and get it on tape, what a wonderful thing in their view of the world," he continued. "That's the challenge we face everywhere."

Comey expressed particular fear that restrictions on information gathering could give terrorists more leeway because they are harder to track.

"I'm very worried about where we're drifting as a country in respect to law enforcement's ability to, with lawful process, intercept communications. I'm not talking about sneaky stuff. I'm talking about situations where we have probable cause to believe that somebody is communicating with a terrorist group," he said. "... We're drifting into a place where there are going to be large swaths of this country beyond the reach of the law."

Because of that, Comey said, citizens need to be constantly on the watch. The current climate of the world does not make it acceptable to see something and not report it.

"Ordinary folks should listen to the hair on the back of their neck," he said. "We've gone back through every homegrown violent extremist case in the United States and studied it. In every single case, someone saw something online, at a religious institution, in a family setting, at a school, that was weird, that was out of place, this person was acting in a way that didn't make sense."

No word on whether or not we should report armed Trump voters but they sure make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I'm going to guess that's not what either FBI chief Comey or Donald Trump have in mind.


Who's the terrorist?

by digby

Via the New York Times from last June:

If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University.

“Law enforcement agencies around the country have told us the threat from Muslim extremists is not as great as the threat from right-wing extremists,” said Dr. Kurzman, whose study is to be published by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the Police Executive Research Forum.

John G. Horgan, who studies terrorism at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, said the mismatch between public perceptions and actual cases had become steadily more obvious to scholars.

“There’s an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown,” Dr. Horgan said. “And there’s a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated.”

We're just talking about political violence in that chart. (Mass shootings and general gun violence has literally killed hundreds of thousands of people in that time frame.)

Now ask yourself, which of those violent ideologies is more likely to present an existential threat to our way of life? Which one influences more Americans to take up the cause? Which one has power within our governing structure?


A now a word from the right

by digby

From former congressman and current grifter Allen West, on the Planned Parenthood terrorism:

Here’s the ONE FACT about the Planned Parenthood shooting liberals refuse to admit

Written by Allen West on November 28, 2015

I had a great run along Ft. Lauderdale beach this morning — big difference between here and Dallas weather. I’d hoped to get in some scuba diving this Thanksgiving weekend, but the seas are just too rough. However at least there’s no freezing rain. One thing for certain, I am having fun watching some REALLY good college football rivalry games — more to come on this Saturday.

However, tragedy has struck out in Colorado Springs and I wanted to express my condolences to the families who’ve lost loved ones — especially to the law enforcement officer who lost his life — our everyday guardians. As I watched the coverage and read some of the online social media responses, along with the protests in Chicago, figured I had to offer my assessment. And for those liberal progressives who feel my words don’t matter, then why are you here reading them?

We don’t know the motive behind the shooting in Colorado Springs, yet I’ve already seen the “right wing Christian” negative castigations — the whole fear of right wing Christians as opposed to militant Islamic terrorists. I think the liberal progressive media and their acolytes need be careful in exposing themselves to a blatant hypocrisy. The incident that occurred in Colorado Springs is horrible and surely will reflect upon a demented mind. But those on the left need to be aware that EVERY DAY Planned Parenthood is in the business of killing babies. That is not debatable. Murder is murder, and if the left believes it can leverage this as some political scoring point, you are dearly mistaken.

I know, the retort will be that Roe v Wade provides for the legal killing of babies – but do any of you find comfort in that logic? I suppose we’ve come to a point in America where we — well, the progressive socialist left — cherry picks which killings are ok, i.e., politically advantageous.

And so it is in Chicago where folks under the false narrative and deceptive guise of “black lives matter” are protesting — again — and blocking seasonal shoppers.

Now just how many black lives have been killed in Chicago? Yet they’ve chosen the disturbing shooting of a drug-induced young black man wielding a knife to champion. What about the nine-year-old black child who was lured and executed as part of a gang-related feud, in Chicago? Crickets. And could it be possible that the over 13 million black lives – babies — been killed since Roe v Wade mean so very little? After all, they don’t fit into the desired political narrative of the liberal progressive left.

Nope, their lives don’t matter since the white liberal progressive mass media says they do not.

Come to think about it, where are the protests over the Indiana pregnant pastor’s wife who was killed and raped by several black males? Nah, her life doesn’t matter. And what of the New Orleans medical student who stepped in to save the life of a woman being assaulted by a black male — he was shot in the stomach? And we all saw the video of the assailant pointing the gun to his head as he lay on the ground — thankfully the gun jammed and his life was spared. Does the life of the medical student, or the woman he saved, matter? Nah, they don’t fit into the liberal progressive left political agenda, narrative.

So here is my recommendation to the progressive socialist left, based on my assessment: shut the hell up and stop the bovine excrement. Stop cherry picking what lives matter in order to further your sick and insidious manipulation for your own political advantage.

You all are a bunch of miserable useful idiots, per Vladimir Lenin, who need to get a grip and realize just how stupid you’re making yourselves look. You’re consistently opening up yourselves to hypocrisy alerts as if you don’t believe anyone sees this, or perhaps believe no one will call you out on it.

Just stop, put down the George Soros paid for and produced signage. Go home and watch some college football, but stop with the Rahm Emanuel mantra of “never let a good crisis go to waste.” You’re manufacturing crises while ignoring real issues — like al-Qaida terrorists just attacked a U.N. compound in Mali. Y’all on the liberal progressive left and your media accomplices just want to distract us, but what you are proving is this.

The only lives that matter are those you can manipulate for your gain and advancement of your political end state. The police officer in Chicago has been arrested. The shooter in Colorado Springs has been apprehended and certainly will not be released.

But babies will continue to be murdered in Planned Parenthood clinics. More little black children will be killed by black-on-black gang violence. And there will be more whites assaulted and killed by blacks.

My saying this does not make me an Uncle Tom, sellout, Oreo, white man’s porch monkey, or house ni!@er. It means I know the facts, see through your crap, and will not tolerate it. Your disparaging name-calling just fuels my desire to speak out even louder because your lies must be exposed.

Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. Merry Christmas. Now back to ESPN College Game Day.

Honestly, you don't want to know what most of the right has been saying about this shooting. It's obvious that many of them are like West and pretty much think that it was a justified shooting. Even the cops, apparently, for whom they have spared almost zero  compassion. Others have been dancing on the head of a pin desperately trying to find some way to prove that this wasn't a political act, whether it was going on for hours yesterday trying to make people believe that the location of the shooting was some kind of coincidence and the man was really a bank robber or a crazy person holed up on Planned Parenthood so he could shoot shoppers in a nearby strip mall. I'm not kidding.

Today they are saying this is nothing like Islamic terrorism because the killer is rumored to have had mental problems which, apparently, makes the fact that he shot 12 people, killing 3 in a Planned Parenthood clinic not a political act. Because suicide bombers are all perfectly sane, we know that.

They are also very upset that the president condemned the shooting saying "enough is enough" because "the facts aren't in." I don't know what to make of that, frankly, because the dead bodies are in the morgue and the others are in the hospital so it seems to me that those facts are in and the president is required to say something in that event.

At this writing, Ted Cruz is the only Republican candidate to speak out.  But they're in a tough spot. An anti-abortion zealot (also known as their base) "exercised his 2nd Amendment remedies" at a Planned Parenthood clinic. He also shot five police officers, killing one of them.

How in the hell can they thread that needle?

Update: Buzzfeed found twitter users who were dancing on a virtual Jersey City rooftop:

I wish I could see how these people with such alleged reverence for life are any different than the nihilistic Islamic fundamentalists who cheer the shooting of people in restaurants and concert halls.


No cop left behind

by Tom Sullivan

"He must have done something," says the voice in my head when I think about Laquan McDonald. It is the voice of my parents' generation, a generation that went from seemingly never questioning authority to always questioning it. Except when members of minorities run afoul of police. I wonder if "He must have done something" was the model of justice our Founders thought they were pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to establish? Or is that the kind of colonial-rule justice from which they fought to separate themselves? Are they now rolling over in their graves?

As police in Colorado Springs led away the alleged Planned Parenthood murderer in handcuffs, I was still trying to process the latest police shooting news from Chicago. The Guardian's database this morning lists 1033 people killed by police in the U.S. so far this year. Police killed "more people in the first 24 days of 2015 than police in England and Wales did in the last 24 years," as reported by the Independent, noting "police in Norway fired their guns only twice last year – and no one was hurt."

Brian Burghart's web site fatalencounters.org tracks police shootings in the U.S. because the government will not. Burghart and colleagues are building a database of people killed in interactions with American law enforcement since 2000:

This site is founded upon the premise that Americans should have the ability to track [under what circumstances police use deadly force]. This idea was conceived in the wake of the Oct. 6, 2012, killing of a naked, unarmed college student, Gil Collar, at the University of South Alabama. Media reports contained no context: How many people are killed by police in Alabama every year? How many in the United States?

It turned out that Collar was on drugs, including marijuana and the hallucinogen 25-I. It also turned out the freshman never got within 5 feet of the officer, and the officer attempted no less-lethal methods to subdue Collar. On March 1, 2013, the policeman was cleared of wrongdoing.

That, in a 9mm shell, is the crux of the issue. In the United States of America, police routinely kill citizens they are pledged to serve and protect, deploying deadly force in encounters such as that one above, or in the Laquan McDonald case from Chicago. Collar was white. McDonald was black. Fellow officers stood by as the accused killer, Officer Jason Van Dyke, emptied his weapon into McDonald, then they stood silent for a year before their department this week released the dash-cam video of the sixteen shots, and then only under court order.

It seems that being a law enforcement officer is another way — besides being rich or a bank or a government-paid torturer — to enjoy a separate and privileged system of American justice. Only with the advent of cell phones and police cameras as the public gotten a window into the brutality scattered officers wield with heretofore legal impunity, especially in communities of color. Jerome Karabel, a professor of Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley, writes that "Extra-judicial killings by the police ... now number more than 1,100 per year -- more than four times the number of people lynched or executed by capital punishment in the worst of years."

Seth Stoughton and Josh Gupta-Kagan, both law professors from the University of South Carolina, decried the criminalization of school discipline problems in the Atlantic after cell phone video went viral of a school resource officer flinging a student to the floor and across a classroom. As Burghart also found, data on certain aspects of policing is lacking. They write:

The limited studies that exist are often inconsistent with each other. As with other aspects of policing, more and better data is essential to making informed policy decisions. This includes data about police violence in school settings; the fact that no one knows how often police are using force against children should not just be alarming, it should be horrifying.

While one of those killed in the Colorado Springs shootings was a police officer, Stoughton (himself a former police officer) produced FBI data weeks ago that show assaults on police officers dropped sharply in 2014. Responding earlier this year to the Tamir Rice shooting, Stoughton wrote:

Why do most officers, charged with serving and protecting their communities, persist in asking whether a use of force was justified rather than necessary? I put a great deal of blame on the expansive “warrior mindset” that has become so highly esteemed in the law enforcement community. To protect themselves, to even survive, officers are taught to be ever-vigilant. Enemies abound, and the job of the Warrior is to fight and vanquish those enemies.

That’s not the right attitude for police. Our officers should be, must be, guardians, not warriors. The goal of the Guardian isn’t to defeat an enemy, it is to protect the community to the extent possible, including the community member that is resisting the officer’s attempt to arrest them. For the guardian, the use of avoidable violence is a failure, even if it satisfies the legal standard.

As I wrote here in April,

We are expected to treat police officers as public servants and heroes willing to lay down their lives to protect us. So it baffles me how, as Stoughton writes, "would-be officers are told that their primary objective is to go home at the end of every shift." What is heroic about that? About sacrificing others before you would sacrifice yourself? What is heroic about shooting unarmed suspects in the back or choking them to death for selling loose cigarettes? Stoughton rightly blames the training, and offers suggestions on training Guardian Officers rather than Police Warriors. But beyond that, there is a culture growing within law enforcement, the military, and the intelligence community that, post-September 11, increasingly views the public they are meant to serve as "enemy forces" to be dealt with. Somewhere, Osama bin Laden must be smiling.

Police are the ones supposedly trained to respond coolly and professionally in charged situations. In another context, police shootings would be receiving more study and harsh scrutiny, scrutiny to which law enforcement seems immune. In another context — publicly funded schools, perhaps — lawmakers would point to under-performance as indicative of systemic training failures, blame the teachers and their unions, and call for yanking funding from institutions that fail to meet standards. But police are privileged. Politicians do not blame police failures on predominantly white precinct "culture." They do not call for "No Cop Left Behind" programs and threaten to pull funding for police academies that fail to perform to the highest standards. We don't threaten to privatize police departments, a la Robocop. Yet.

The title for this video of British police speaks volumes about how police are viewed in this country. One would think that would be cause for reforming the training and less blue wall of silence: