The Moderate Voice http://themoderatevoice.com An Internet hub with domestic and international news, analysis, original reporting, and popular features from the left, center, indies, centrists, moderates, and right Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:38:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Priorities and realities http://themoderatevoice.com/200656/priorities-realities/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200656/priorities-realities/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:28:06 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200656 Hate that the White House wants to urge the protesters in #Ferguson to act peacefully but doesn’t urge the same of the police. …Corrente ___ Researchers — psychologists and social scientists, mostly — in the U.S. and United Kingdom say data indicate that, contrary to those mainstream media stereotypes, “conspiracy theorists” appear to be more [...]

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Hate that the White House wants to urge the protesters in #Ferguson to act peacefully but doesn’t urge the same of the police. …Corrente

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Researchers — psychologists and social scientists, mostly — in the U.S. and United Kingdom say data indicate that, contrary to those mainstream media stereotypes, “conspiracy theorists” appear to be more sane than people who accept official versions of controversial and contested events.

The most recent study was published in July 2013 by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent in the UK. Entitled “‘What about Building 7?’ A Social Psychological Study of Online Discussion of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories,” the study compared “conspiracist,” or pro-conspiracy theory, and “conventionalist,” or anti-conspiracy, comments on news websites. …PaulCraigRoberts

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1. Grand juries, at least at the federal level, almost always vote to indict people accused by prosecutors of a crime. As you can see in the chart above, federal prosecutors pursued over 160,000 cases against defendants in 2009-2010 (the last period for which there is data), and grand juries only voted not to return an indictment in 11. Prosecutors decided not to pursue charges in thousands of cases for a host of other reasons, such as weak evidence or other authorities were pursuing the case.

2. Grand juries, at least at the state level, often do not indict police officers. As Ben Casselman of 538, who made the observation about the rarity of grand juries not indicting, noted, “A recent Houston Chronicle investigation found that ‘police have been nearly immune from criminal charges in shootings’ in Houston and other large cities in recent years. … Separate research by Bowling Green State University criminologist Philip Stinson has found that officers are rarely charged in on-duty killings, although it didn’t look at grand jury indictments specifically.” ...Wonkblog,WaPo

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Violence — from coast to coast.

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Very aggressive. Um, he is I don’t really know how to describe it. Um, he turns. I looked at his face. It was just intense. It was. I’ve never seen anybody look that, for lack of a better words, crazy, I’ve never seen that. I mean, it was very aggravated, um, aggressive, hostile. Just, you couldn’t, you could, you could tell he was lookin’ through ya. There was nothin’ he was seeing …DailyIntel
Aggressive, hostile, or scared?

Cross-posted from Prairie Weather

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Ferguson Riots: Photos Capture The Chaos http://themoderatevoice.com/200654/200654/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200654/200654/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:59:39 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200654 Ferguson is exploding. Over three months after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed, the city is experiencing one of its most violent nights of demonstrations. Hundreds of protesters took to Ferguson’s already fragile streets late Monday, following the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson. A car burns on the street after [...]

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Ferguson is exploding. Over three months after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed, the city is experiencing one of its most violent nights of demonstrations. Hundreds of protesters took to Ferguson’s already fragile streets late Monday, following the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson. A car burns on the street after a…

Ferguson Riots: Photos Capture The Chaos

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Cartoons: World Cartoonists look at Ferguson http://themoderatevoice.com/200646/cartoons-world-cartoonists-look-ferguson/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200646/cartoons-world-cartoonists-look-ferguson/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:39:47 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200646 Cartoonists are now doing their takes on the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson. The events in Ferguson and the ever-growing number of policy shoots of African-Americans has kept cartoonists busy over the past year. Here’s a cross section with the publication dates: See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license [...]

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Cartoonists are now doing their takes on the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson. The events in Ferguson and the ever-growing number of policy shoots of African-Americans has kept cartoonists busy over the past year. Here’s a cross section with the publication dates:
Rainer Hachfeld, Neues Deutschland, Germany 11/24/2014

Rainer Hachfeld, Neues Deutschland, Germany
11/24/2014


Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com 11/16/2014

Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com
11/16/2014


Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com 11/12/2014

Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com
11/12/2014


Bill Schorr, Cagle Cartoons 10/15/2014

Bill Schorr, Cagle Cartoons
10/15/2014


Bill Schorr, Cagle Cartoons 8/2/14

Bill Schorr, Cagle Cartoons
8/2/14

Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons 8/26/14

Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons
8/26/14


Angel Boligan, El Universal, Mexico City, www.caglecartoons.com 8/24/2014

Angel Boligan, El Universal, Mexico City, www.caglecartoons.com
8/24/2014

See great cartoons by all the top political cartoonists at http://cagle.com. To license these and other cartoons for your own site, visit http://politicalcartoons.com

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No Indictment In Furguson http://themoderatevoice.com/200642/no-indictment-furguson/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200642/no-indictment-furguson/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 02:33:46 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200642 Just breaking that the grand jury has voted not to indict I would hope we could all wait for the evidence to be released before reacting knee jerk but then I hope for a lot of things. Discuss away

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united_states_supreme_court_building-public-domainJust breaking that the grand jury has voted not to indict

I would hope we could all wait for the evidence to be released before reacting knee jerk but then I hope for a lot of things.

Discuss away

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No Indictment Against Officer Darren Wilson in Michael Brown Shooting http://themoderatevoice.com/200643/no-indictment-officer-darren-wilson-michael-brown-shooting/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200643/no-indictment-officer-darren-wilson-michael-brown-shooting/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 02:33:32 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200643 No indictment will be filed against Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch says the grand jury “determined that no probable cause exists to charge Officer Darren Wilson” for the teen’s murder. Most of the witnesses said the shots fired at Michael Brown came when [...]

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shutterstock_155289302No indictment will be filed against Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch says the grand jury “determined that no probable cause exists to charge Officer Darren Wilson” for the teen’s murder.

Most of the witnesses said the shots fired at Michael Brown came when he turned towards the officer. Wilson fired 12 shots from his weapon. Michael Brown’s body was located 153 feet east from Darren Wilson’s car.

Statement from Darren Wilson’s attorney: “Law enforcement personnel must frequently make split-second and difficult decisions’; asks for ‘respectful and peaceful” protests – statement via @ChristineDByers

Here’s a statement from Michael Brown’s parents:

“We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.

While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen.

Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.

We respectfully ask that you please keep your protests peaceful. Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction.

Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference.”

Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr.
Parents of Michael Brown, Jr.

Watch Robert McCulloch’s bizarre press conference:

This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.

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SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Flash; Gotham; Agents of SHIELD; Natalie Dormer, Zombies, and Nudity on Game of Thrones; Westworld; How To Get Away With Murder; Doctor Who; Sherlock; SNL on Executive Orders http://themoderatevoice.com/200641/scifi-weekend-arrow-flash-gotham-agents-shield-natalie-dormer-zombies-nudity-game-thrones-westworld-get-away-murder-doctor-sherlock-snl-executive-orders/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200641/scifi-weekend-arrow-flash-gotham-agents-shield-natalie-dormer-zombies-nudity-game-thrones-westworld-get-away-murder-doctor-sherlock-snl-executive-orders/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 01:19:04 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200641 The Hollywood Reporter has more information on the upcoming cross over episodes from Arrow and The Flash, along with some other information about Arrow. Among the information revealed (not all of which is new): The title of The Flash portion of the pair of episodes is quite literal, The Flash vs. Arrow. Barry encounters a [...]

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Flash vs Arrow

The Hollywood Reporter has more information on the upcoming cross over episodes from Arrow and The Flash, along with some other information about Arrow. Among the information revealed (not all of which is new):

  • The title of The Flash portion of the pair of episodes is quite literal, The Flash vs. Arrow. Barry encounters a metahuman who brainwashes him.
  • The Flash episode “will deliver a very big moment for Oliver’s storyline.” It will take Oliver time to learn what the audience has learned.
  • Felicity sees Caitlin to get help from the people at STAR Labs in solving the mystery of the Black Canary’s murder
  • Laurel is mostly missing from the crossover stories but, “Episodes 10, 11 and 12 are a three-part trilogy that are about her. And episode 13 I think I can spoil, is called ‘Canaries.’” As it is Canaries pleural, my suspicion is that the flashback shows Sara while Laural replaces Sara as the Black Canary in the present.
  • Dingle’s ex-wife Lila is in danger.
  • Team Flash learns how dangerous things can be.
  • A future crossover is possible.

Gotham Penguin

Gotham is probably best viewed as a re-imagining of the Batman stories which is not necessarily connected to other aspects of the DC universe or other Batman series. Showrunner Bruno Heller told Entertainment Weekly about how he plans to establish the canonical Gotham–and then start messing with people’s minds. Killing off characters is not being excluded as a possibility:

Before Gotham premiered there was some discussion about how the show cannot kill any members of its cast of iconic characters, since the story is a prequel. And you had a great reply to that by saying, “It’s sad thing if you can only generate suspense by killing people.” I’m wondering now that you’ve dug more into the season and are juggling all these characters, with some being more interesting than others, whether there’s a part of you that’s like, “You know, what if we did?” Or is it just iron clad that you can’t deviate that far from canon?
I wouldn’t say it’s iron clad. You’d need a damn good reason to do it and a damn good end game to justify it. We’re certainly just learning the ropes at this stage. Not to be modest about it, but we’re still learning how to do a show this big. I’m always deeply reluctant to kill off characters simply for the shock value of killing them off. I’m not averse to cheap tricks. But apart from anything else, this season literally every actor has come through and [performed really strong]. I would hate to lose any of them. Killing off Sean Bean in the first season of Game of Thrones made everyone go, “Oh, what a good idea that is!” But I don’t think it’s a good idea if you’ve got Sean Bean. The bad one was on Deadwood, when they had David Carradine doing that marvelous Wild Bill Hickok, and then he was gone.

I agree on Carradine, it did feel like that character was gone too soon.
I’m going to put you on the spot: Who would you kill?

It’s not that there’s anybody in particular that I would kill off. But I would say the killing of a so-called un-killable character would add a greater layer of suspense when any of those characters are in jeopardy after that—because the message has been sent to the audience that, “You think you know how this story is going to go, but you’re wrong, because we’re not following the train tracks that you already know so well.
That is a very good point, and an actor somewhere is cursing you. You’re absolutely right. One of the things about doing the extra six episodes, and hopefully being successful enough to get a season two, is that once we’re up and running, that kind of narrative playfulness—playing with the audience’s expectations—is going to be much more a part of the show. For instance: Who will turn out to be The Joker? Those kind of games you can only get into once you have the audience’s trust and the train is rolling down the tracks. We want to establish the real deal—that this is the canonical Gotham—and then start messing with people’s minds.

Heller also revealed that Harley Quinn will not appear this season and there will be an episode here we learn how Robin’s parents got together. Ra’s al Ghul could conceivably appear, but at this point in Batman’s life, “He was probably a teenager as well, with Mrs. al Ghul making him sandwiches and sending him off to Ghul school.”

Agents of SHIELD Blue Alien

After dragging for most of the first season while waiting for the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agents of SHIELD is really moving this season. Recent episodes have dealt with topics including Skye’s background and the meaning of the mysterious writings. TV Guide reports that we will also learn about the blue alien, and how it ties into other aspects of the Marvel universe:

He’s not just any alien. The Dec. 2 episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will finally reveal that its mysterious blue man from outer space — the one whose rejuvenating blood saved the life of Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) — is a member of the humanoid Kree race. Yes, that’s the same alien species that gave us Lee Pace’s character, Ronan the Accuser, in the Marvel movie blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy. But all this means bupkis to Coulson and his S.H.I.E.L.D. team.

“Our people don’t know anything about the Kree or that there’s a planet full of them,” notes executive producer Jeffrey Bell. “What they do know is that the strange carvings created by Coulson after he was injected with the Kree serum are actually the map of a city, and they need to find that city before Hydra does. But where is it? Here or on another planet?”

The Hydra terrorists have more manpower and resources than S.H.I.E.L.D., and their freaky obsession with the blue alien goes all the way back to the 1940s — the setting for ABC’s upcoming spinoff series Marvel’s Agent Carter. But S.H.I.E.L.D. has Skye. The do-or-die agent with no last name, played by Chloe Bennet, was also injected with Kree serum but, unlike Coulson, suffered no consequences. Similarly, her not-always-trusty cohort Raina (Ruth Negga) — again, no last name — was able to touch the deadly alien obelisk and survive without harm.

ComicVine has more about the meaning of this.

Game of Thrones Natalie Dormer

Matt Smith and Natalie Dormer will fight zombies together in Patient Zero. According to ComingSoon.net:

Patient Zero takes place in a post-outbreak zombie apocalypse and follows the adventures of one man who has the unique ability to speak with the undead and who hopes to use his gift to discover a cure for the plague and his infected wife.

Natalie Dormer was interviewed by The Daily Beast about topics including her role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and nudity in Game of Thrones:

Speaking of “equality,” I understand HBO has a “boobs mandate,” but lots of viewers of Thrones think the show could use some more dick in there—for symmetry.

Well, during the first season Alfie, Richard, and several of the men got naked—although not all the way. I suppose it’s just the rules of broadcast television, isn’t it? I think Thrones has been better than your average show with the equality, but they could definitely ramp it up! Absolutely.

Did you base the character of Margaery Tyrell on anyone in particular?

It was based on the media circus that surrounds Kate Middleton. It’s the Princess Diana effect. Whether you’re talking about the royal family in our country, or the first lady obsession in this country—Michelle Obama, or Hillary Clinton before her. Because Margaery is very politically savvy and our royal family tries to keep out of politics, it’s a hybrid of that statesmanship between the royal family and the first lady.

There was a particularly awkward sequence last season on Thrones where your character is forced to seduce the boy-king, Tommen Baratheon.

That scene was altered because I phoned Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff] and said, “I’m not comfortable doing this.” It’s the nature of the beast that I’m four years into playing Margaery Tyrell and the big plot points of the book are in stone. You can’t change them. George R.R. Martin wrote a particular plot line, so on the specifics of Margaery and Tommen getting married, there’s nothing I can do. On the show, we had to find a way to navigate that in a sensitive way. There’s more of it next season too, and we’re trying to handle it with intelligence, and integrity.

westworld

When I first heard about plans for a series based upon Westworld I was skeptical, but it sounds like HBO is bringing quite a bit of talent into the project:

The drama, based on Michael Crichton‘s 1973 film and written by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, stars Anthony Hopkins in his first series-regular role as an inventor who runs an adult amusement park populated by lifelike robots. HBO made the announcement Monday via Twitter, with the series coming in 2015.

The drama hails from J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk‘s Warner Bros. Television-based Bad Robot Productions, with the duo exec producing alongside Jerry Weintraub, Nolan (who directed the pilot) and Joy. Kathy Lingg will co-EP and Athena Wickham is a producer on the drama. Susie Ekins is set as a co-producer. Westworld hails from Bad Robot, Jerry Weintraub Productions and Kilter Films.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the show’s androids — played by castmembers including James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton — can be killed off and return with completely different personas, allowing actors to play many characters. That creative device, one top talent agent said, helped HBO attract a premier cast (which also includes Ed Harris, Miranda Otto and Jeffrey Wright). And unlike the actors on such anthology series as FX’s American Horror Story and HBO’s own True Detective, which reboot themselves every season, the cast of Westworld is signing multiyear deals.

“This is built as a series and, in terms of storytelling, I think the rules are definitely being broken,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told THR in August of the sci-fi Western from executive producers J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk. “The promise of the show, in terms of where it’s going, is exciting to actors, and they want to be a part of this.”

While watching How To Get Away With Murder I was a little disappointed in how Sam’s murder was played out–until the revelation in the final moments. Entertainment Weekly discussed the mid-season finale and the second half of the season with showrunner Pete Nowalk.

It has been officially announced that Peter Capaldi will be returning to Doctor Who but no word yet on Jenna Coleman. There have been rumors since before the past season began that Coleman would be written out of the show on the Christmas episode (which have been denied), and the series has teased Clara leaving a few times. My bet is that Steven Moffat actually knows what is planned, but they are keeping this secret so that viewers will not know what might happen with Clara while watching the Christmas episode.

Series four of Sherlock will be a single episode, possibly airing on Christmas Day, 2015. Mark Gatiss has told Radio Times that the mystery about the apparent return of Moriarty at the end of season three will will be solved “completely.”

BBC America will be showing a seven part series based upon Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Saturday Night Live began with a skit this weekend hitting Barack Obama on executive orders. Medialite summarizes:

Finally, the first biting political spoof from Saturday Night Live in a while: the Bill from Schoolhouse Rock explains to a student how he becomes a law, only to be violently beat up by Barack Obama and his new best friend, “Executive Order.”

Even then, the poor Executive Order still thinks he’s used for simple things, like declaring holidays and creating national parks, until Obama informs him that he’s going to be used to grant amnesty to 5 million undocumented immigrants. His reaction: “Whoa.”

While Ted Cruz found reason to cite this on Fox News Sunday, the skit actually is not accurate. Obama did not grant amnesty, and the executive action was used because the Republicans failed to pass a bill, not as an attempt to act in place of a law. Previous Republican as well as Democratic presidents have issued many executive orders in the past with both Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush having had executive orders regarding immigration in the past. (Clarification: Fox News Sunday is the name of show and my use of this term does in any way suggest that Fox presents actual news. Generally I do not use the term “Fox News” as that is an insult to all real news networks. )

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Originally posted at Liberal Values

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‘Sergeant’ Chuck Hagel Steps Down http://themoderatevoice.com/200633/sergeant-chuck-hagel-steps/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200633/sergeant-chuck-hagel-steps/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:31:52 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200633 When announcing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s departure from the Pentagon, President Obama referred to Chuck Hagel’s enlisted service. “He’s been in the dirt. He’s been in the mud. And that has established a special bond. He sees himself in them. They see themselves in him,” President Obama said about the first enlisted combat veteran to [...]

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Hagel in Vietnam

When announcing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s departure from the Pentagon, President Obama referred to Chuck Hagel’s enlisted service.

“He’s been in the dirt. He’s been in the mud. And that has established a special bond. He sees himself in them. They see themselves in him,” President Obama said about the first enlisted combat veteran to hold the high position of Secretary of Defense.

Hagel shakes hands

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel shakes hands with President Barack Obama at the White House today. The president announced that Hagel would resign his position as defense secretary. Courtesy photo

Having served my country in the enlisted ranks, I feel a special affinity towards and respect for the Secretary. Like the President, I feel that Chuck Hagel’s enlisted service has been an asset to his service as Secretary of Defense.

Sadly, during Hagel’s nomination process, several did not feel the same way.

As a matter of fact, some felt that Hagel’s honorable and heroic enlisted war service was “not relevant” to leading the world’s greatest defense forces.

This is what I wrote at the time at the Stars and Stripes:

While there have been several recent columns dismissing former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s military service as not being “relevant” to his possible role of secretary of defense, none has been as offensive as Eliot A. Cohen’s Jan. 14 column “Hagel’s war service admirable, but not relevant here.”

It is offensive not only because Cohen ignores how prior military service has enriched the experience and enhanced the performance of hundreds of representatives, senators, Cabinet members and of the more than 30 U.S. presidents with such prior service and ignores how, during recent campaigns, such service has been considered, especially by Republicans, as one of the highlights in their candidates’ biographies — but also because Cohen attempts to use the fact that Hagel “only” saw enlisted military service (that he was “just” a grunt, “just” a sergeant) as additional ammunition to try to derail Hagel’s nomination.

In his column, after ridiculing what he alleges to be “President Barack Obama’s chief case for nominating [Hagel]: that he served honorably as a sergeant in Vietnam, where he was twice wounded in combat,” Cohen says this about Hagel’s enlisted wartime service: “What is it, precisely, that one would bring by service as a sergeant in a war more than 40 years past — almost as distant from today as the charge up San Juan Hill was from D-Day, or the Battle of New Orleans was from Gettysburg? It was an important, even searing, life experience, no doubt.”

Apparently Cohen believes that Hagel has been in some state of suspended animation for the past 40 years, a period during which Cohen assumes that Hagel has not kept up with the “utterly different” technology, strategy, tactics and organization we have today, which have transformed “a band of reluctant conscripts caught up in the Big Green Machine” into “a hardened professional army.”

Such comments are not deserving of our present and former enlisted men and women, of the tens of thousands of enlisted personnel — including this writer — who have gone on to receive their commissions in our armed forces, of the thousands who have gone on to become successful generals, entrepreneurs, CEOs, diplomats, congressmen and senators, even after 40 years. And they are hardly deserving of a man who served honorably and heroically in combat in Vietnam, a man who was awarded two Purple Hearts and of a man whose military experience as “just” a sergeant — when combined with his other vast business, financial, executive, political and senatorial and Department of Veterans Affairs experience — will make him a great secretary of defense.

Finally, this is Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s statement “to the men and women of the Department of Defense”:

“I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that this morning, President Obama accepted my letter of resignation. I have agreed to continue to serve as Secretary of Defense until my successor is confirmed by the United States Senate.

You should know I did not make this decision lightly. But after much discussion, the President and I agreed that now was the right time for new leadership here at the Pentagon.

I want you to know that I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished together. We have prepared ourselves, our Allies and the Afghan National Security Forces for a successful transition in Afghanistan. We have taken the fight to ISIL and, with our Iraqi and coalition partners, have blunted the momentum of this barbaric enemy. We have come to the aid of millions of people around the world who have suffered the ravages of natural disaster and of disease. We have worked tirelessly to sustain our all-volunteer force that has given so much during 13 years of war. And we have bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships, all the while setting in motion important reforms that will prepare this institution for the challenges facing us in the decades to come.

Most importantly, we have helped keep this country and our fellow citizens safe. We have sustained the blessings of liberty our ancestors secured and upheld the oath we took.

That work will continue. It must continue. The world is still too dangerous, the threats too numerous, for us to lose focus. And even as I promised the President my full support going forward, so, too, do I promise that I will work hard to support you right up until my last day in office. I owe you that.

There will be time later to say farewell. For now, please know how much I respect and admire your service and that of your families. As I gather with my own family this Thanksgiving holiday — a luxury I realize not all of you will enjoy — it will be the privilege of having worked with you these last two years for which I will be most grateful.

Thank you for all you do for this country. God bless you. Happy Thanksgiving.”

Photo credit: Special-Ops.org

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Obama heightens the contradictions http://themoderatevoice.com/200634/obama-heightens-contradictions/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200634/obama-heightens-contradictions/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:07:23 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200634 WASHINGTON — Stay wide awake in the coming weeks. This is a historic moment when all of the divisions, misunderstandings and hatreds of President Obama’s time in office have come to a head. We are in a different place than we were. We are also in a place we were bound to get to eventually. [...]

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shutterstock_84955732

WASHINGTON — Stay wide awake in the coming weeks. This is a historic moment when all of the divisions, misunderstandings and hatreds of President Obama’s time in office have come to a head. We are in a different place than we were. We are also in a place we were bound to get to eventually.

Obama’s decision to back away from our government’s policy of ripping apart the families of undocumented immigrants has called forth utterly contradictory responses from Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives. It should now be clear that the two sides don’t see the facts, the law or history in the same way.

Conservatives say the president’s executive actions on immigration are uniquely “lawless” and provocative. Progressives insist that Obama is acting in the same way that President Reagan and both Presidents Bush did. They recall that after the second President Bush’s immigration reform bill failed in the Senate in 2007 — it was very similar to the 2013 bill Obama supports — White House spokesperson Dana Perino declared flatly of the administration’s willingness to use its executive powers: “We’re going as far as we possibly can without Congress acting.”

Yet perhaps facts are now irrelevant. There was an enlightening moment of candor when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., visited MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on the morning of Obama’s immigration speech. “The president ought to walk into this a lot more slowly, especially after an election,” Coburn said. “This idea, the rule of law, is really concerning a lot of people where I come from. And whether it’s factual or perceptual, it really doesn’t matter.”

Yes, for many of the president’s foes, the distinction between the “factual” and the “perceptual” doesn’t matter anymore.

But mainstream Republicans seem as angry at Obama as the tea partyers. They argue repeatedly that by moving on his own, Obama has made it impossible for Congress to act.

You’d think that Republicans who genuinely support immigration reform would want to prove the president wrong in a different way: by passing a comprehensive bill. That only a few of them are saying this is an obvious sign to the president’s supporters that Obama is right in suspecting that the House GOP would continue to bob and weave to avoid the issue — as they did for the one year, four months and 24 days between the passage of the genuinely bipartisan immigration reform bill in the Senate and Obama’s announcement.

In a superb reconstruction of why the president decided to move on his own, Washington Post reporters Juliet Eilperin, Ed O’Keefe and David Nakamura note that the last straw for Obama was House Speaker John Boehner’s refusal to say after the election that he would bring up an immigration bill if the president agreed to postpone executive action. In the absence of concrete pledges that something would get done, there was no point in waiting any longer.

All this explains the jubilation among progressives. They not only agree with the substance of what Obama did but also see him as finally calling the bluff of his opponents. He has forced the contradictions of the Republican establishmentarians into the sunlight.

Such Republicans were counting on Obama to be an enabler. He’d once more accept their quiet (and now obviously hollow) promises of good will and thus allow them to avoid a straight up confrontation with the right wing of their party.

Now, they can no longer have it both ways. Many of them claim they agree with the substance of what Obama did and also that Congress should pass a broader immigration bill. If this is true, then why should they spend all their energy trying to undo the constructive steps he has just taken? If they punt and simply join in the rancid attacks on Obama as an “emperor” and a “monarch,” they will demonstrate for all to see that the GOP really is dominated by its right wing and that those of more measured views are simply too timid to take on their internal adversaries.

No wonder they’re so angry with the president.

For the six years since Obama’s election, the Republican right has been on offense, continually blurring those distinctions between the “factual” and the “perceptual.” They keep charging that Obama is a dangerous radical even when he pursues middle-of-the-road policies. Their supposedly more temperate colleagues go along because they don’t have to pay a price.

Obama has just told them their free ride is over. The stakes in American politics will be much clearer because he did.


E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne. (c) 2014, Washington Post Writers Group

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Politics and Wealth http://themoderatevoice.com/200629/politics-wealth/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200629/politics-wealth/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:30:14 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200629 Thanksgiving week is a time citizens are supposed to remember how fortunate they are to live in freedom in America. Of course, some citizens are more fortunate than others, particularly in regards to wealth and material things (which as everyone knows can’t buy happiness). Particularly fortunate are federal officeholders who are generally wealthier than other [...]

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sec_us-securities-and-exchange-commissionThanksgiving week is a time citizens are supposed to remember how fortunate they are to live in freedom in America. Of course, some citizens are more fortunate than others, particularly in regards to wealth and material things (which as everyone knows can’t buy happiness). Particularly fortunate are federal officeholders who are generally wealthier than other Americans and enjoy a number of special perks.

According to the Washington Post, the average member of Congress was worth about $900,000 in 2010, their wealth having declined during the recession. By 2012, however, it had increased to over $1 million. There was little difference between Republicans and Democrats in terms of affluence. The average senator in 2010 had about $2.6 million in assets. There was great variation in what officeholders in both the House and the Senate were worth, with some having hundreds of millions of dollars. At least 150 of these lawmakers made more in outside income than from their Congressional salaries. (Talk about the poor people who need to hold down two or three jobs just to survive.)

Many members of Congress accumulate significant wealth while in office, which is somewhat strange considering that they earn $150,000 annually and the cost of living in Washington and its environs is among the highest in the country. But this is where some of their perks come in. A number of members of Congress trade on insider information they have acquired in closed committee hearings or on data given to them by various government agencies that has not yet been released to the general public. Elected officeholders have also reworked their financial portfolios after discussions with Treasury or Federal Reserve officials, receiving information about the state of the economy that is yet to be released. Lots of money can be generated by insider trading and the legislators usually don’t have to worry about federal prosecutors coming after them. If prosecutors aggressively pursue them, members of Congress can usually evade their investigations and then find ways to make life difficult for these adversaries.

And members of Congress trade in stocks of companies while enacting legislation that will impact these same businesses. New laws are passed as well that will particularly benefit Congressional members or their relatives- business as usual. Conflict of interest and unethical conduct don’t seem to be issues for these elective officials. Certainly, not where money is involved.

Other financial perks available to members of Congress and not to ordinary citizens are their campaign funds and Political Action Committees (PACs). Money can be accumulated in these vehicles and then used for various personal expenses that are listed as campaign-related. Lobbyists also find ways to “help” these lawmakers with their finances that border on illegal and sometimes go over the line.

The revolving door between elected officeholders and lobbying firms is another perk available to members of Congress and Senators that provides them with a financial cushion when they retire or are defeated in their bids for re-election. These firms hire them because they were helpful while in office and because of their contacts in Congress and the Senate. Though there is a ban on direct lobbying for a year after they leave office, these former officials may be listed as consultants but are still able to use their influence to help the lobbying firms in various ways. They are rewarded with lucrative salaries, usually in the range of seven figures. A report in 2011 noted that over a ten year period, over 400 former lawmakers had registered as lobbyists along with 5400 of their staffers.

Thus, we can see that there are different paths federal officeholders can follow to accumulate wealth while both in and out of office. One of the problems with this is that when these elected officials focus on augmenting their own finances, they are less attuned to the needs of their constituents and spend less time working for them. And in general, these wealthy “self-made” men and women are less sensitive to the necessity for various types of government safety nets for the middle class and the underclasses.

Legislation is needed that will prohibit members of Congress, Senators, and their staffers, from becoming lobbyists for at least a five year period after leaving their offices. Any trading on insider information by these lawmakers should be banned completely. Any use of campaign funds or PAC funds for personal financial expenses should be met with harsh penalties. But don’t hold your breath waiting for any of these measures to be enacted. Not surprisingly, many of these legislators are re-elected by their constituents even after their unethical conduct has come to light. After all, this is America, where the public applauds successful entrepreneurs in or out of public office, even if they may be skirting the law.

Resurrecting Democracy

www.robertlevinebooks.com

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Breaking: Defense Secretary Hagel to Resign http://themoderatevoice.com/200625/breaking-defense-secretary-hagel-resign/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200625/breaking-defense-secretary-hagel-resign/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:07:04 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200625 The Washington Post quotes AP sources saying that Chuck Hagel is resigning as Secretary of Defense “following a tenure in which he has struggled to break through the White House’s insular foreign policy team.”: A senior defense official said that Hagel submitted his resignation letter to Obama on Monday morning and the president accepted it. [...]

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Hagel

The Washington Post quotes AP sources saying that Chuck Hagel is resigning as Secretary of Defense “following a tenure in which he has struggled to break through the White House’s insular foreign policy team.”:

A senior defense official said that Hagel submitted his resignation letter to Obama on Monday morning and the president accepted it. Hagel agreed to remain in office until his successor is confirmed by the Senate, the official said.
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The official said both Hagel and Obama “determined that it was time for new leadership in the Pentagon,” adding that they had been discussing the matter over a period of several weeks.
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Obama was to announce Hagel’s resignation Monday. The president is not expected to nominate a new Pentagon chief Monday, according to one official.

[..]

Hagel served in the Vietnam War and received two Purple Hearts.

I have consistently defended Chuck Hagel against equally consistent attacks by Republicans, both during the nomination process and after — especially those attacks that focused on the enlisted nature of Hagel’s military service “in order to even more reprehensibly diminish such service and experience.”

Chuck Hagel is a patriot. He will be sorely missed.

Lead photo: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, greets Saudi National Guard Minister Prince Mitib bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud as he arrives at the Pentagon to discuss matters of mutual importance, Nov. 21, 2014. DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz

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Tamir Rice Shooting Sparks Toy Gun Bill http://themoderatevoice.com/200622/tamir-rice-shooting-sparks-toy-gun-bill/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200622/tamir-rice-shooting-sparks-toy-gun-bill/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:38:30 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200622 An Ohio legislator planned to introduce a bill Monday requiring all toy firearms to have brightly colored strips indicating they’re fake after Cleveland police fatally shot a 12-year-old boy with a BB gun this weekend. Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, wanted airsoft guns, air rifles and gun replicas to have fluorescent strips to “prevent future deadly [...]

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An Ohio legislator planned to introduce a bill Monday requiring all toy firearms to have brightly colored strips indicating they’re fake after Cleveland police fatally shot a 12-year-old boy with a BB gun this weekend. Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, wanted airsoft guns, air rifles and gun replicas to have fluorescent strips to “prevent future deadly confrontations,”…

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Book Review: There’s A House In The Land: (Where A Band Can Take A Stand) by Shaun Mullen http://themoderatevoice.com/200608/book-review-theres-house-land-band-can-take-stand-shaun-mullen/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200608/book-review-theres-house-land-band-can-take-stand-shaun-mullen/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:14:02 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200608 With each passing year, the 70s has taken on a kind of mystical quality. And, once upon a time in the 70s, a group of Vietnam vets, non-Vietnam vets, young men, young women, some children and a host of beloved, and exquisitely well-cared for animals made their home ona farm just beyond Philadelphia’s far western [...]

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With each passing year, the 70s has taken on a kind of mystical quality. And, once upon a time in the 70s, a group of Vietnam vets, non-Vietnam vets, young men, young women, some children and a host of beloved, and exquisitely well-cared for animals made their home ona farm just beyond Philadelphia’s far western suburbs. No, it was not a commune. It was more like a tribe. They enjoyed life, and endured grief, and welcomed roustabouts and famous singers and celebrities. But, mostly, they appreciated and savored their decade, the earth, themselves, their cherished pets and farm animals, their diverse music, and their drugs and, above all, their by-the-seat-of-their-tattered-jeans, often-festive lives.

And this really did happen. Shaun Mullen, whose writing is almost Hemingway-esq, takes us back to that time in vivid detail. He serves up a series of carefully crafted, detailed vignettes. Some will haunt you once you put the book down. But to say “There’s A House in the Land” is strictly a bunch of vignettes and episodes is not entirely accurate. Mullen recreates with words, the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, thoughts, drama and hum-drum reality of the lives of a band of free-thinking youths in the 70s. He transports you back in a word-picture time-machine. If you weren’t part of that culture during the 70s, or weren’t born yet, “There A House In Then Land” will take you there so you feel it and experience it.

In several parts of the book he presents broader insights that go beyond his engrossing chronicle of the tribe’s life on the farm. For instance, when writing about Denny, a housemate for a while: “As a draft dodger, Denny was a fugitive until President Carter pardoned him and his hundreds of thousands of other young men in 1977. It was an aftershock that didn’t begin to redress the immorality of a war that discriminated against the poor, protected the well-to-do who had the resources to avoid becoming cannon fodder, and sought to imprison the conscientious.”

Mullen painstakingly describes the, animals, the planting and preparing of foods, various residents’ lives and several tragic deaths. In discussing the aftermath of the tragic car accident death of Pattie and her little daughter Caitlin, Mullen reveals how the tragedy still stays with him. Literally:

“Caitlin had a set of wooden building blocks with a letter on one side and a number on another that she would play with on the floor of the Phone Booth. With a heavy heart, I eventually packed up the blocks and her other toys, but did not notice until a few days later that the ‘Y’ block had become wedged in a corner. I have placed this block where I can see it everywhere I have lived since leaving the farm. ‘Y’ as in ‘Why did this have to happen?’ I am no closer to finding the answer than after the crash.”

“There’s A House in the Land” whisks you away to an era in a way that shatters the common stereotypes about that era. For instance, no, because a group of diverse people lived together on a farm did NOT mean it was a “commune,” or that they had even an informal “leader.” They used drugs at times but it was far from their obsessive focus. There was no grand plan or philosophy. Many things that didn’t begin with “s” just happened. Every plant, animal, home-made dish served at meals; every dog, every cat, every person with his or her flaws and hangups– all were tacitly appreciated because they were part of a moment when the ongoing celebration was of being alive and being able to live with few constraints.

Mullen notes that today he has a few regrets about some of what occurred and some of the paths he chose, but it was what it was — and most of it was glorious.

Don’t expect a big plotline from “There’s A House in The Land.” Expect to step into a wonderful, vivid wayback machine and be taken — seemingly in deliciously vivid “real time” — to a moment in time when big and little pleasures were truly savored, little was requested and a satisfying bounty was seemingly magically received.

Also be sure to read Ron Beasley’s review of this book HERE.

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From Richards To Rivers: A Dozen Great Books For Holiday Gift Giving http://themoderatevoice.com/200425/books/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200425/books/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:12:44 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200425 Your Faithful Reviewer plowed through another 30 or so books in the course of 2014, some new, some not so old and a couple of classics that I had not gotten around to reading. Here are the best dozen of the bunch, actually the best 14 because one offering is a trilogy. All are great [...]

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Your Faithful Reviewer plowed through another 30 or so books in the course of 2014, some new, some not so old and a couple of classics that I had not gotten around to reading. Here are the best dozen of the bunch, actually the best 14 because one offering is a trilogy. All are great holiday gifts for a literary inclined spouse, other family member or friend, and all are available online in paperback.

AMERICA IN THE KING YEARS (Taylor Branch, 1988, 2006, 2012) This three volume biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. runs to some 1,600 pages and is the definitive retelling of the great civil rights leader’s life from his birth in Atlanta to his assassination in Memphis at the age of 39. Branch does not pull any punches, confirming that as great as King was, he was a profligate philanderer who could be his own worst enemy.

THE BARBAROUS YEARS: THE PEOPLING OF BRITISH NORTH AMERICA (Bernard Bailyn, 2012) Establishment of British, Dutch and Swedish colonies in America in the early 17th century would seem to be well-trod ground, but Bailyn sheds often fascinating light on the socio-economic aspects of colonization, as well as the brutal encounters between the Europeans and native peoples.

A CONSPIRACY OF FAITH (Jussi Adler-Olsen, 2013) Adler-Olson’s Department Q murder mysteries are the latest Arctic Noir sensations, and deservedly so. A Conspiracy of Faith is the second of five starring Copenhagen Detective Carl Mørck and his sidekicks, Assad and Rose, who take on the coldest of cold cases, Department Q’s specialty, this one involving the double murder of a brother and sister two decades earlier.

THE GOLDFINCH (Donna Tartt, 2013) This is the best book, fiction or nonfiction, that I have read in a very long time. The improbable plot works, sometimes despite itself, gripping me on an intellectual and emotional level. While its length (771 pages, count ‘em) seem to be daunting, the adventure therein — at its core a dissection of the screwed up-edness of the human condition in the guise of a coming-of-age story — is nothing short of amazing.?

THE HUMAN STAIN (Phillip Roth, 2000) Roth, as usual, magnificently interweaves American history in this tour de force about Coleman Silk, a classics professor, who is forced to retire when his colleagues decide that he is a racist. He is not, and the real truth as conveyed by narrator Nathan Zuckerman (who also appears in Roth’s American Pastoral and I Married a Communist) is incredible.

IRONWEED (William Kennedy, 1984) This final book of the so-called Albany Cycle is the best of the three because Kennedy really fires on all of his writerly cylinders in telling the story of Francis Phelan, a once great ballplayer turned drunk who has come home to make peace with his sometimes violent past — he has hallucinations of three of the people he killed in the past –and rekindle his relationship with the only woman he truly loved.?

LAST CALL: THE RISE AND FALL OF PROHIBITION (Daniel Okrent, 2010) The 18th Amendment ostensibly addressed the single subject of intoxicating beverages, spawning the 13-year Prohibition, but this delightfully trenchant book reveals that it did much more, including enormous changes in international trade, speedboat design and marketing, as well as the establishment of national crime syndicates and even women’s rights.

THE LIES OF SARAH PALIN: THE UNTOLD STORY BEHIND HER RELENTLESS QUEST FOR POWER (Geoffrey Dunn, 2011) I read a half dozen or so books about or by Palin in the last year for a research project, and if you’re going to read only one about the Killah from Wassila, this is it. Dunn more than makes the case that the right-wing darling is a pathological liar and, when in positions of power, is downright dangerous.

LIFE (Keith Richards and James Fox, 2011) Okay, like most folks I had low expectations for an autobio by this Rolling Stones’ founding member, but the cat can write almost as well as he can play — and survive drug binges and busts. In fact, the beyond endless accounts of his over-the-top embrace of hard drugs are the only downers, while his confirmation that Mick Jagger is an asshole, albeit an extraordinarily talented one, is affirming.

THE MARSH ARABS (Wilfred Thesiger, 1964) It was a big year for travel books (see The Road to Oxiana below), but Thesiger’s account of living among the fiercely independent tribal Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq is as much a magnificent and moving account of a people whose lives changed little for many centuries, untouched by the modern world, as a traditional travelogue.

THE ROAD TO OXIANA (Robert Byron, 1937) Historian Paul Fussell calls this delightful and sometimes downright zany travel book what Ulysses is to the novel and The Waste Land is to poetry. A bestseller upon its publication, it chronicles a fascinating journey through the Middle East to the land of the Oxus, the ancient name for the river Amu Darya on the border between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union.

THE SECRET RIVER (Kate Grenville, 2005) The story of early colonial Australia has never been told better than in this magnificent work of historical fiction, which tells the story of William Thornhill, an illiterate English bargeman who is deported, along with his beloved wife, Sal, to the New South Wales colony where they are confronted with having to forcibly take land from the Aborigines who came before them if they are to survive and prosper.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, here’s my list for last year, as well as a list from 2012 of the books that have most influenced me.

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Remember Benghazi? (Update) http://themoderatevoice.com/200588/remember-benghazi/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200588/remember-benghazi/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:00:17 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200588 Updated — at bottom — with Senator Graham’s elegant “full of crap” comments over the weekend from the Huffington Post. Original Post: Remember the Benghazi tragedy? Of course you do. But do you remember the other tragedy? The one where Republicans attempted to “turn the Benghazi tragedy into a political scandal.” The one where Republicans [...]

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Updated — at bottom — with Senator Graham’s elegant “full of crap” comments over the weekend from the Huffington Post.

Original Post:

Remember the Benghazi tragedy?

Of course you do.

But do you remember the other tragedy?

The one where Republicans attempted to “turn the Benghazi tragedy into a political scandal.”

The one where Republicans tried their darndest to discredit — destroy is a better word — the President and, especially, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The one where Republicans squandered millions of taxpayer dollars in investigation after investigation, committee after committee, report after report — six of them, count them — while accusing the administration of dark conspiracies, cover-ups, intelligence failures, treason and worse.

The one where Republicans accused the Obama administration of ordering CIA operatives to “stand down” in their efforts to try to save the four Americans at the Consulate in Benghazi, allegedly causing the tragic deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other brave Americans.

The one where Republicans accused the Obama administration of intimidating CIA employees from testifying, of manipulating the talking points for political reasons; etc., etc.

Well, as Republicans quietly slipped out of town late Friday for their long Thanksgiving break, they released “with little fanfare” a report — the sixth one — that, according to the New York Times:

…left Republicans in the same position they have been in for two years: with little evidence to support their most damning critiques of how the Obama administration, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, responded to the attacks.
.
Similar to five other government reports, the one released by the House Intelligence Committee on Friday said that the administration had not intentionally misled the public about what occurred during the attacks in talking points it created for officials to use in television appearances that turned out to be inaccurate.

Late Friday, the New York Times, under the title “New Benghazi Investigation Finds No Fault in Response,” summarized the report as follows:

A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the C.I.A. and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees. Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a C.I.A. rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the C.I.A. was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then American ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Ms. Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people. The attacks in Benghazi killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two C.I.A. contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. A Libyan extremist, Ahmed Abu Khatalla, is facing trial on murder charges after he was captured in Libya and taken to the United States.

But do you think this report will end the Republican witch-hunt?

Hell no!

The Christian Science Monitor:

The report released Friday does not end the controversy over how the Obama administration and the agencies it oversees conducted themselves during the period surrounding the Benghazi attack. The House Select Committee on Benghazi has yet to complete its investigation.
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“The Select Committee on Benghazi received the Intelligence committee’s report on the Benghazi terrorist attack, and has reviewed it along with other committee reports and materials as the investigation proceeds,” spokesman Jamal Ware said in a statement. “It will aid the Select Committee’s comprehensive investigation to determine the full facts of what happened in Benghazi, Libya before, during and after the attack and contribute toward our final, definitive accounting of the attack on behalf of Congress.”

(Added:)

If this is not an indication that Republicans intend to continue their political witch hunt, just listen to what the Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, said today on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Graham called the report, put together by his own Republican colleagues and Democrats, “full of crap.”

Four Americans killed, seven investigations that have asserted no wrongdoing by the Obama administration and all Mr. Graham can talk is “talking points” — 11 times in the span of about four minutes– and claim the report “full of crap” and what his own Intel Committee has found, “absolute garbage.”

Lead image: www.shutterstock.com

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Sullivan on Obama and Immigration http://themoderatevoice.com/200580/sullivan-obama-immigration/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200580/sullivan-obama-immigration/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:35:05 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200580 Andrew Sullivan drills down into the immigration dynamic on The Daily Dish. One reason I’ve been somewhat forgiving of Obama’s executive action on immigration deportations is that I see it as a function not of his choice to be an “imperial” president, but as a result of unprecedented Republican obstructionism. It is, for example, jaw-dropping [...]

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Andrew Sullivan drills down into the immigration dynamic on The Daily Dish.

One reason I’ve been somewhat forgiving of Obama’s executive action on immigration deportations is that I see it as a function not of his choice to be an “imperial” president, but as a result of unprecedented Republican obstructionism. It is, for example, jaw-dropping to hear the GOP declare its shock at the president’s refusal to take into account the results of the mid-terms as a democratic norm he should respect. These are the same people who, in January and February of 2009, responded to Obama’s landslide amid a catastrophic and accelerating depression by giving him zero votes on a desperately needed stimulus package.

 

We now know they decided as a conscious strategy to say no to anything and everything the new and young president, inheriting two failed wars and an imploding economy, wanted or needed. They were nihilist then as they are nihilist now with respect to the practical demands of actually governing the country. At some point, something had to give, and I can see why, after the GOP had again refused to allow immigration reform even to come to a vote in the House, he might have decided to f*** it.

 

Yes, Obama does have ambitions to be a transformational president, a liberal Reagan. And, after two thumping victories, he still has a solid shot at getting there. And if we had a reasonable or even feisty opposition party – as opposed to a foam-flecked insurrection against everything – that legacy would have been even more informed by conservative thought and ideas. And the idea that no executive action is allowed is just as silly. The executive branch has a key role in determining things like the level of permissible carbon emissions (via the EPA), or priorities in immigration enforcement (via ICE), or national security (via the Pentagon, NSA and CIA). At some point, in other words, it was the GOP who made this president more executive-minded, by removing every other pathway for him to pursue what the country elected him to do. Because they never really accepted that he had won big majorities twice for a reason. And that reason was change.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2014/11/sullivan-on-obama-and-immigration.html

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Top 10 Villains http://themoderatevoice.com/200615/top-10-villains/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200615/top-10-villains/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:43:11 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200615 As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved villains. It was always the big bad that interested me more in Disney films. More often than not, the villains were the folk that made the lasting impression and to this day I believe the villain is what elevates a film from being good to [...]

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As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved villains. It was always the big bad that interested me more in Disney films. More often than not, the villains were the folk that made the lasting impression and to this day I believe the villain is what elevates a film from being good to everlasting greatness.

Over the coming week I’m going to be listing 10 of favourite villains. Let me know what you think:

10 – Man (Bambi)

42-B-3

I remember watching his film in class at Infant School and being completely captivated by the story and the animation. Although I watched cartoons all the time, I hadn’t seen anything like Bambi up to this point.

I can say this without any exaggeration, the moment when ‘man’ kills Bambi’s mother completely changed my life. I remember being confused, angry and upset, I didn’t understand why it had happened.
I have watched Bambi so many times since, more than I wish to count and that moment has never lost its power for me. I struggle to think of a gloomier moment in all of cinema. To this day, as a 28 year old grown ass man with kids of his own, when that moment is coming up I have to steel myself for it. Amazing cinema.

9 –Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)

Hans-Landa

Mr Tarantino makes extraordinary villains like they grow in his garden. This list could have had around five of his characters and I wouldn’t have batted an eye-lid. But it’s Landa that stands out and he did so from the very first scene of Inglorious Basterds.
Now, I should loath Landa with every fibre of my being – he is Nazi officer for crying out loud – but I don’t and it bothers me that I don’t. It also speaks to the genius of this character – he is incredibly charismatic, very funny but as pure evil as you can get when it comes to a fictional character. Uncomfortably brilliant.

This post was taken from my Chocolate Films blog. If you are interested in the rest of the list it will appear on there.

Love.

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Bill Cosby’s Scandal-Filled Week: One Allegation After Another http://themoderatevoice.com/200606/bill-cosbys-scandal-filled-week-one-allegation-another/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200606/bill-cosbys-scandal-filled-week-one-allegation-another/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 22:12:28 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200606 More women have come forward this week accusing legendary comedian Bill Cosby of sexual abuse and several companies have cut ties with the actor. His attorney has dismissed the claims as “unsubstantiated or fabricated stories” and Cosby, 77, remained silent until recently. “I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy [...]

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More women have come forward this week accusing legendary comedian Bill Cosby of sexual abuse and several companies have cut ties with the actor. His attorney has dismissed the claims as “unsubstantiated or fabricated stories” and Cosby, 77, remained silent until recently. “I know people are tired of me not saying anything, but a guy doesn’t…

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SNL Cold Open Takes On Executive Orders http://themoderatevoice.com/200605/snl-cold-open-takes-executive-orders/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200605/snl-cold-open-takes-executive-orders/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 18:55:26 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200605 Pretty funny regardless of how you feel on the issue Cold Open

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shutterstock_186881459Pretty funny regardless of how you feel on the issue

Cold Open

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Uppity http://themoderatevoice.com/200601/uppity/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200601/uppity/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 17:26:25 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200601 Uppity: We’re talking about the immigration speech. How did that damn man in the White House manage to defy an election outcome in which Republicans liked to think they gave him a whuppin’? Why wasn’t he behaving like a loser, dammit? It was a quiet meeting on the eve of a political explosion. At 4 [...]

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Uppity:

We’re talking about the immigration speech. How did that damn man in the White House manage to defy an election outcome in which Republicans liked to think they gave him a whuppin’? Why wasn’t he behaving like a loser, dammit?

It was a quiet meeting on the eve of a political explosion.

At 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 30 or so members of the 2012 GOP freshman class of the House of Representatives gathered in a conference room in the Capitol Visitors Center for what’s become a monthly conclave. For the junior representatives, this was a chance to get some face time with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Everyone knew that the next evening, Obama planned to deliver an in-your-face rebuke to Boehner, who’d warned the president not to “play with matches” and act on his own to suspend deportation of millions of immigrants.

All of those gathered had reason to be angry: Here was the president pretending, absurdly, that he hadn’t just had his butt whipped in the midterms, and defying the biggest GOP House majority-to-come in more than 80 years. …Politico

In other words, if the Republicans win the Senate in the midterms, that automatically also gives them, effectively, the power to nullify the president? Where do these naive members of Congress come from?

Politico goes on to report that the more flamboyant new Republican members have been persuaded, at least for now, to avoid the traps a seasoned, savvy White House sets for them. They may have learned a lesson or two from earlier government shutdowns engineered by a resentful GOP, shutdowns that voters didn’t like…

Call it thoughtfulness — or call it confusion. All in all, the mild, somewhat subdued response to Obama’s immigration move is evidence that the uncompromising GOP insurgency that so paralyzed Washington in 2013 has lost some potency. ….Politico

Instead of getting into yet more trouble over shutdowns, it looks as though Congressional Republicans may use up their anger on each other. Still, given half a chance, they’d love to punish that uppity president for shrugging off the midterms losses and doing his job.

Hysteria doesn’t seem to work against a relentlessly cool Barack Obama. So far, he hasn’t had to be wired for sound, or to depend on wadded up socks in his pants.

Cross posted from Prairie Weather

graphic via shutterstock.com

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Obama Immigration Orders Could Drive Latino Vote http://themoderatevoice.com/200597/obama-immigration-orders-drive-latino-vote/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200597/obama-immigration-orders-drive-latino-vote/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 17:15:33 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200597 WASHINGTON – Nevada welcomed President Barack Obama on Friday as he came to rally support for his executive orders on immigration. It’s no coincidence that he headed to the Silver State, where 27 percent of the state’s population is Latino and helped propel him to victory there in both presidential elections. Democrats are hoping that [...]

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WASHINGTON – Nevada welcomed President Barack Obama on Friday as he came to rally support for his executive orders on immigration. It’s no coincidence that he headed to the Silver State, where 27 percent of the state’s population is Latino and helped propel him to victory there in both presidential elections. Democrats are hoping that nationwide,…

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Seventh Investigation Debunks Republican Benghazi Conspiracy Theories http://themoderatevoice.com/200592/seventh-investigation-debunks-republican-benghazi-conspiracy-theories/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200592/seventh-investigation-debunks-republican-benghazi-conspiracy-theories/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 16:39:55 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200592 Yet another investigation has debunked the Republican claims about Benghazi, this one run by House Republicans. AP reports: House intel panel debunks many Benghazi theories A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound [...]

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Yet another investigation has debunked the Republican claims about Benghazi, this one run by House Republicans. AP reports:

House intel panel debunks many Benghazi theories

A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.

The House Intelligence Committee report was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week. Many of its findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House Select Committee appointed in May…

In the aftermath of the attacks, Republicans criticized the Obama administration and its then-secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016. People in and out of government have alleged that a CIA response team was ordered to “stand down” after the State Department compound came under attack, that a military rescue was nixed, that officials intentionally downplayed the role of al-Qaida figures in the attack, and that Stevens and the CIA were involved in a secret operation to spirit weapons out of Libya and into the hands of Syrian rebels. None of that is true, according to the House Intelligence Committee report.

The report did find, however, that the State Department facility where Stevens and Smith were killed was not well-protected, and that State Department security agents knew they could not defend it from a well-armed attack. Previous reports have found that requests for security improvements were not acted upon in Washington.

Of course it was the Republicans who cut funding for embassy security, denying requests from Democrats for increased funding.

Despite seven investigations which failed to provide evidence to support the Republican conspiracy theories, an eight is underway, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more to follow in the Republican-controlled Senate. The party which already voted over fifty times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and which exists in a fact-free bubble, will not hesitate to continue engage in the same irrational behavior.

Originally posted at Liberal Values

graphic via shutterstock.com

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What is Pizza? http://themoderatevoice.com/200583/pizza/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200583/pizza/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 04:15:34 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200583 I still like my pizza simple,  The original Italian pizza was marinara sauce on a pizza crust.  There might have been some basil leaves and mozzarella cheese but that was the exception in fine Italian restaurants in Europe.  So what do Italians think Pizza Hut has just started a major rebranding effort. Headlined the “Flavor of [...]

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f1292170e89788a99cdaf6b6433348a6I still like my pizza simple,  The original Italian pizza was marinara sauce on a pizza crust.

 There might have been some basil leaves and mozzarella cheese but that was the exception in fine Italian restaurants in Europe.  So what do Italians think

Pizza Hut has just started a major rebranding effort. Headlined the “Flavor of Now,” the campaign aims to give a much-needed boost to Pizza Hut’s U.S. business by wooing customers with dozens of new pizza options. Why have plain crust when you can make that toasted Asiago? Pepperoni is so boring—how about spinach and a drizzle of honey sriracha sauce,  

I lived in Munich , Germany and that city had some of the best Italian restaurants in the world , When those went to those restaurants pizza was an appetizer and was  rarely more than marinara sauce on a pizza crust.  The best pizza I have ever had was from a small restaurant in Munich,  They added mozzarella cheese and pepperoni plus it was saturated with olive oil.

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Hillary Clinton And Some Potential Challengers For The Nomination http://themoderatevoice.com/200581/hillary-clinton-potential-challengers-nomination/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200581/hillary-clinton-potential-challengers-nomination/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 22:47:04 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200581 With the midterm elections behind us, it finally makes sense to talk more about the 2016 presidential election. NBC News has a recent report claiming that Hillary Clinton will be announcing her candidacy in January, but Politico reports that she still has a paid speech scheduled for February 24, which may or may not give [...]

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With the midterm elections behind us, it finally makes sense to talk more about the 2016 presidential election. NBC News has a recent report claiming that Hillary Clinton will be announcing her candidacy in January, but Politico reports that she still has a paid speech scheduled for February 24, which may or may not give a clue as to her plans:

It isn’t clear that the speech says anything about Clinton’s time frame for declaring a decision about a second White House campaign. Her timetable is a topic of disagreement among her supporters: Some people think she is already being attacked and defined by Republicans and only adds to the perception that she’s being coy the longer she waits. Others say she should stick to her stated time frame of early next year.

Clinton could, of course, cancel the appearance or decline a speaking fee if she announces a campaign before the speech. It’s highly unlikely she would continue to give paid speeches once she’s a candidate, something Republican Rudy Giuliani did in 2007 and took heat for.

But the fact that Clinton is still signing up for speeches also gives weight to what a number of people close to her say: that she hasn’t completely made up her mind about running. The conference is about women in the workforce, an issue Clinton is also focused on at her family’s foundation.

While Clinton leads in the polls, there is less enthusiasm for her candidacy among many on the left. The reluctance to have the Democratic Party led by someone as conservative as Clinton may have been intensified by the midterm election results in which Democratic candidates ran away from Democratic principles, only to see Democratic voters stay home. Polls show considerable support for liberal positions on the issues, but voters are not going to turn out for Democratic candidates if they cower in fear and run as Republican-lite.

There has been no lack of condemnation for Democrats who, among other acts of cowardice ran away from the Affordable Care Act rather than promote how successful it has been. One of the more recent such comments came from Andrew Sullivan:

Yes, there has been a mountain of propaganda against it. But that doesn’t excuse political malpractice in defending it. This is the Democrats’ most significant piece of domestic legislation in decades. And yet they cannot manage to make the case for it. That tells you so much about why that party remains such a shit-show, rescued temporarily by this president, but still wallowing in its own dysfunction, inability to communicate and pusillanimity.

While it seems like a futile effort, the memory of Barack Obama defeating Clinton in 2008 gives hope. While they get little mention in the media, there are other potential candidates. Elizabeth Warren was the one bright spot of the 2014 campaign, showing a real ability to communicate, and she  has toned down her earlier statements that she will not run. It is doubtful she would actually challenge Hillary Clinton, and someone more experienced in government might make a better candidate. Bernie Sanders is toying with the idea of running, but a self-proclaimed Socialist has no chance, and  his primary role would be to force Clinton to discuss liberal positions.

Other more conventional candidates are actually looking into running.  Jim Webb has become the first to announce an exploratory campaign. Martin O’Malley is also making moves towards a possible campaign.

In addition to these names which have been mentioned frequently, Michael Kazin has another suggestion in an article at The New Republic, Sherwood Brown:

At the risk of seeming ridiculous, I think Sherrod Brown should run for president. I know that, barring a debilitating health problem or a horrible scandal, Hillary Clinton is likely to capture the Democratic nomination. I realize too that Brown, the senior senator from Ohio, has never hinted that he may be tempted to challenge her. “I’m really happy where I am,” he told Chris Matthews last winter, when the MSNBC’s paragon of impatience urged him to run.

Yet, for progressive Democrats, Brown would be a nearly perfect nominee. During his two decades in the House and Senate, he has taken strong and articulate stands on every issue which matters to the party’s broad, if currently dispirited, liberal base. When George W. Bush was in office and riding high, Brown opposed both his invasion of Iraq and the Patriot Act. He has long been a staunch supporter of abortion rights and gay marriage, and is married to Connie Schultz, a feminist author who writes a nationally syndicated column.

Brown’s true mission, however, is economic: He wants to boost the well-being of working Americans by any means necessary. Brown has been talking and legislating about how to accomplish it for years before Elizabeth Warren left Harvard for the Capitol. During Obama’s first term, he advocated a larger stimulus package, called for re-enacting the Glass-Steagall Act to rein in big banks, and stumped for comprehensive immigration reform. He champions the rights of unions and the power of the National Labor Relations Board and criticizes unregulated “free trade” for destroying manufacturing jobs at home. He also led the charge among Senate Democrats that pressured Obama to drop his plan to appoint Larry Summers to head the Federal Reserve and appoint Janet Yellen instead.

At the moment pushing Sherrod Brown to challenge Clinton might seem ridiculous, but certainly no more ridiculous than Barack Obama challenging her in 2008.

Originally posted at Liberal Values in the hopes that the Democrats will nominate a liberal for the 2016 nomination.

Alan Freed / Shutterstock.com

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On Pope Francis’ Secret Service: Confronting the ISIS Threat (Corriere Della Sera, Italy) http://themoderatevoice.com/200570/pope-francis-secret-service-confronting-isis-threat-corriere-della-sera-italy/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200570/pope-francis-secret-service-confronting-isis-threat-corriere-della-sera-italy/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 15:45:40 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200570 He rides in an open car amid hundreds of thousands of people from around the world and abhors being seperated from his flock. Imagine the heart-stopping difficulty of protecting one of the most popular pontiffs in a generation from terrorists bent on killing anyone not a Sunni fundamentalist – particularly a man with the title [...]

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He rides in an open car amid hundreds of thousands of people from around the world and abhors being seperated from his flock. Imagine the heart-stopping difficulty of protecting one of the most popular pontiffs in a generation from terrorists bent on killing anyone not a Sunni fundamentalist – particularly a man with the title ‘Vicar of Christ’? Offering a glimpse behind the scenes is Corriere Della Sera’s man at the Vatican, columnist Massimo Franco.

For the Corriere Della Sera, to illustrate why Pope Francis is ‘harder to manage’ than most of not all of his predecessors, Massimo Franco begins by recounting an episode last summer when the pontiff wanted to stop off in Kurdistan to deliver a message of hope to the region’s besieged Christian communities:

In August 2014 while returning from his trip to South Korea, Pope Francis wanted to make a stop in Kurdistan, an area bordered by Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. He intended to issue an appeal from there on behalf of Middle East Christians being massacred by Islamic fundamentalists. The secret service stopped him, recounting for him the dangers that his program change represented. The episode resurfaced this autumn, as fears for his safety have imperceptibly come to a head. Perhaps it’s just a reflection of the West’s psychological and geopolitical disorientation. Is it the videos of hostages beheaded by the butchers of ISIS – the acronym for “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” – which is now outpacing al-Qaeda in its cruelty; and in addition to proselytizing in Europe, fuels fears of an attack on a pontiff that has united in prayer Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians?

 

To the specter of subversive action by Islamic fundamentalists is added the ghosts of the attack by Turk Ali Agca on Pope John Paul II in May 1981 among crowds right in the middle of St. Peter’s Square. Doubts about whether something like that could happen again have hung in the air since the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio became pope. His decision to live in Casa Santa Marta, highly symbolic, creates uncertainty. It is a hotel, albeit a unique one, inasmuch as, it must be noted, it receives deliveries of pasta, bread, meat, etc. from outside. It is a small place, where under heavy surveillance people always come and go, separated from Italy only by the walls that open onto the Via di Porta Cavalleggeri. And so, in theory, the danger is heightened. Add to that the audiences in which the pope seeks to meet and spend time with as many people as possible.

 

In short, some cause for concern is justified, because above all, Pope Francis lives with a touch of impatience over security measures. The Vatican police know something about this, since they initially struggled to persuade the first Argentine pontiff to accept a minimum of preventive protection.

 

“Would you like to climb into an armored car?!” This is how they say he responded to their first routine offer of protection. During his visit to the Parish of the Immaculate Conception on the outskirts of Rome in December 2013, he said from the pulpit: “If you think there is something disturbing about this visit, it is perhaps the excessive security; please know that I do not agree with it … I agree with you.” And when a few months later he decided to visit a Protestant friend at Caserta, a town in Campania [a district south of Rome, of which Naples is the capital] it wasn’t easy to get him to understand that using a car instead of a helicopter would entail major problems: a congested motorway, a police escort and road blocks. In the end he took a small helicopter.

READ ON IN ENGLISH OR ITALIAN AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

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Chait on Immigration Politics http://themoderatevoice.com/200552/chait-immigration-politics/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200552/chait-immigration-politics/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 14:29:44 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200552 Jonathan Chait argues immigration will hurt the GOP in New York Magazine. Substantively, Obama’s executive order gives him less than he hoped to gain with a bipartisan law. But politically, he has ceded no advantage. Indeed, he has gained one. Not only does immigration remain a live issue, it is livelier than ever. The GOP [...]

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Jonathan Chait argues immigration will hurt the GOP in New York Magazine.

Substantively, Obama’s executive order gives him less than he hoped to gain with a bipartisan law. But politically, he has ceded no advantage. Indeed, he has gained one. Not only does immigration remain a live issue, it is livelier than ever. The GOP primary will remorselessly drive its candidates rightward and force them to promise to overturn Obama’s reform, and thus to immediately threaten with deportation some 5 million people — none of whom can vote, but nearly all of whom have friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who can.

 

Michael Gerson, the Bush-era speechwriter and an advocate of bipartisan legislation, warns that Obama is “uniting conservatives — from the Obama-obsessed to reasonable institutionalists — in fervent opposition.” Actually, just the opposite is occurring. Ardent populists are demanding a series of suicidal confrontations, from shutdowns to, potentially, impeachment, as the Party leadership strains desperately to keep them at bay. In the Senate, Jeff Sessions, a full-spectrum reactionary, is waging a fight for the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee against Mike Enzi, with Sessions promising to use his position as a bastion of full-scale resistance on immigration.

 

The emotional momentum in the Republican Party now falls to its most furious, deranged voices. Michele Bachmann has denounced what she calls “millions of unskilled, illiterate, foreign nationals coming into the United States who can’t speak the English language.” Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama has even presented the most sympathetic slice of the immigrant community — the ones serving in the military — as a source of insidious competition and even treason. (“I don’t want American citizens having to compete with illegal immigrants for jobs in our military … These individuals have to be absolutely 100 percent loyal and trustworthy.”) Steve King, a regular font of nativist outbursts, is setting himself up as a power broker in Iowa, which will command center stage in the GOP primary for months and months on end.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

http://thesensiblecentercom.blogspot.com/2014/11/chait-on-immigration-politics.html

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How Americans Came to Oppose Fracking http://themoderatevoice.com/200579/americans-came-oppose-fracking/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200579/americans-came-oppose-fracking/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 12:21:42 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200579 by Walter Brasch For the first time since high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as nonconventional fracking, was developed, more Americans oppose it than support it. According to a national survey conducted by the independent non-partisan Pew Research Center, 47 percent of Americans oppose fracking, while 41 percent support it. This is a 7 [...]

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by Walter Brasch

For the first time since high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as nonconventional fracking, was developed, more Americans oppose it than support it.

According to a national survey conducted by the independent non-partisan Pew Research Center, 47 percent of Americans oppose fracking, while 41 percent support it. This is a 7 percent decline in support from March 2013, and a 9 percent increase in opposition.

The poll also reveals those who support fracking tend to be conservative men over 50 years old with only a high school education, and living in the South. However, support for fracking has decreased in all categories, while opposition has increased.
Fracking is the controversial method of drilling a bore hole into the earth’s crust as deep as 12,000 feet. The company sends fracking tubing, which has explosive charges in it, to create a perforated lateral borehole, about 90 degrees from the vertical bore hole, which fractures the shale for up to about 6,000 feet to open channels and force out natural gas and fossil fuels. A mixture of proppants, toxic chemical additives, radioactive elements and isotopes, and as much as 10 million gallons of fresh water are put into the tubes at a pressure of up to 15,000 pounds per square inch. About 650 of the 750 chemicals used in fracking operations are known carcinogens, according to a report filed with the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2011.

Numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown environmental and public health dangers; other research reveals dangers because of the exploration, drilling, storage, wastewater disposal, and transportation parts related to fracking.
To understand why there has been a shift in public attitudes about horizontal fracking, it’s important to understand the nature of the mass media.

The mainstream establishment media are not in the forefront of society, but follow it—sometimes years behind emerging issues. In the past decade, the media at first didn’t cover fracking, perhaps because it was too complicated for reporters who weren’t trained in the sciences, perhaps because significant downsizing by publishers left fewer reporters to cover critical issues, perhaps because the media didn’t think fracking affected their own circulation and viewership areas.

The first stories came from the oil and gas industry, and the establishment media accepted what was handed out to them. Thus, public perception was mostly from pro-fracking information.

But, the people knew. They could see their roads being torn up by gas-industry trucks, sometimes more than 200 a day on rural roads. They could see acres of agricultural and forest land leveled for the access roads and well pads. They could hear around-the-clock noise from the trucks, well pads, and compressor stations. They could empathize with neighbors whose land was condemned by eminent domain so that pipes could be laid across and beneath private land.

They learned about politicians who took campaign funds from the oil and gas industry and many front groups, and then crafted industry-friendly regulations to benefit those who fracked the land.

They heard about the economic benefits of fracking, of how fracking would help the local unemployed find work in the deepest recession in decades; but, the high-paying technical jobs went to those from out of state who had experience on the rigs and well pads, did their jobs, and moved onto other out-of-state sites.

They were told about how natural gas was inexpensive, how it was better for the environment, and how renewable energy was unproven and far too expensive for the average homeowner. But, they learned that it was the investors and fossil fuel executives who benefited, and how the process to capture the natural gas, with the flaring of methane, may be more dangerous to global warming than even coal emissions.

At first, the few individuals cried into the winds. But, they came together to form small groups, and then larger groups. They read the environmental and public health studies. They heard from the people about the problems associated with fracking.

They didn’t have the millions of dollars the industry had. They couldn’t afford full-page newspaper ads, radio and TV ad time, or the costs to design and produce 4-color flyers, innumerable mailers, and billboards.

Theirs was a grassroots campaign. They went door-to-door, to their neighbors. They called their friends and strangers who might be affected by fracking.

They attended flea markets, farmers’ markets, and community events. They went to city council meetings.

They became adept at the use of social media, delivering their message through Facebook, Twitter, and other no-cost sites. Some, using inexpensive digital technology, created micro- and mini-documentaries and posted them on YouTube.

Others wrote letters to the editor, letters to their legislators, and articles and opinion columns for the alternative media. A few wrote articles for the establishment media; one developed a 107-minute documentary; others produced a feature-length film; several developed shorter films; one wrote a book.

When they had to, they blocked and marched, non-violent acts they knew would attract some media attention. They were willing to be arrested, charged with trespassing, and jailed to protect the people against an invasion of their environment.

A few groups of a few residents became larger, now with memberships of environmentalists, scientists, physicians, social rights activists, landowners, and people whose lives and health were directly affected by fracking.
Those who leased mineral rights to the gas companies, hoping to get some income to help survive the recession, soon realized the royalties were not as much as they were led to believe, and the land was not being restored to its previous condition, as was promised.

Against heavy opposition from politicians and the fossil fuel industry, the people succeeded in getting more than 300 towns to enact moratoriums on fracking until, at least, the health and environmental effects were fully known. They had the passion for truth and not the lust for greed.

Eventually, the establishment mass media caught up, running some syndicated stories about fracking, sometimes a local story, always careful to make sure the industry—with its carefully manicured PR staff and hordes of money—got a chance to respond to the masses of people.

In March 2013, 48 percent of Americans favored fracking, 38 percent opposed it.
In November 2014, only 41 percent favored fracking, and 47 percent opposed it.

A social movement to protect the people’s health and their environment has begun to show the effectiveness of grassroots determination and the dissemination of truth, and not the propaganda of deceit.

[Dr. Brasch, an award-winning journalist more than four decades, is the author of 20 books. His latest book, Fracking Pennsylvania, was the first book to explore fracking and its effects upon public health and the environment, as well as to discuss the truth of the economic impact and connections between politicians and the fossil fuel industry.]

a katz / Shutterstock.com

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Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul announces February debut as AMC releases new trailer http://themoderatevoice.com/200577/breaking-bad-spinoff-better-call-saul-announces-february-debut-amc-releases-new-trailer/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200577/breaking-bad-spinoff-better-call-saul-announces-february-debut-amc-releases-new-trailer/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:51:54 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200577 Saul Goodman is returning to television in February for the two night premiere of the highly anticipated show Better Call Saul. AMC announced Nov. 20 that the Breaking Bad prequel will premiere on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 10 p.m. The second episode will air the following day, Monday, Feb. 9 at 10 p.m. All subsequent [...]

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Saul Goodman is returning to television in February for the two night premiere of the highly anticipated show Better Call Saul. AMC announced Nov. 20 that the Breaking Bad prequel will premiere on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 10 p.m. The second episode will air the following day, Monday, Feb. 9 at 10 p.m. All subsequent episodes…

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Midterm Elections and The Great Gatsby http://themoderatevoice.com/200575/midterm-elections-great-gatsby/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200575/midterm-elections-great-gatsby/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:44:34 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200575 Midterm Elections and The Great Gatsby By Joseph Cotto Jack Clayton’s 1974 rendition of The Great Gatsby is the quintessential American epic, as well as a sophisticated blockbuster. While the film is anything but a masterpiece — in fact, it becomes quite disjointed during the end of the second act — the fabled 1920s are [...]

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Midterm Elections and The Great Gatsby
By Joseph Cotto

Jack Clayton’s 1974 rendition of The Great Gatsby is the quintessential American epic, as well as a sophisticated blockbuster.

While the film is anything but a masterpiece — in fact, it becomes quite disjointed during the end of the second act — the fabled 1920s are recreated to such a stunning extent that the atmosphere alone almost makes up for this.

A breakout performance by Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway, along with an enchanting Jay Gatsby in Robert Redford and highly alluring Jordan Baker portrayed by Lois Chiles, add nicely to the mix.What is really confounding is the sheer emotional output that Gatsby offers Daisy Buchanan, whose role was badly miscast with Mia Farrow.

For awhile, the love is reciprocated, but even in the couple’s most tender moments, it is clear that Gatsby gives far more than he gets. This unfortunate fact is noticed early on by Carraway, as anyone who has seen the film or read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary novel knows.

Nick tells Jay that his expectations are too high for Daisy, who is entangled in an unhappy but socially acceptable marriage. Nick also mentions that Jay cannot feasibly expect to repeat a distant period in which the war hero-turned-bootlegger and society woman were lovers.

Gatsby, for all of his business and military acumen, appears stunned, only muttering that such a thing is indeed possible.It is this naivete that really catches attention. In the end, Gatsby pays the ultimate price for his wish to integrate fantasy and reality.

Carraway notes with disgust that Daisy refuses to acknowledge the funeral, much less attend it. Obviously, the lesson here is that looking back to days gone by does no good in the long term.

However, I note something deeper.

The love that Gatsby had for Daisy was of a patently emotional nature. There was no reason applied; after all, would a rational individual expend so much time and energy on someone who does not appreciate these truly meaningful things?

Not in my book. Carraway comes to the conclusion that it was Gatsby’s decision to operate on feeling rather than thought that killed him.

This is the message that ought to be taken away from the story of Jay Gatsby. It should not be applied only to romance, but any other situation in which objective facts have to be weighed and hard choices made.

Anyone else thinking about this year’s midterm elections, or the next round of presidential primaries? If they don’t fit the bill for Gatsby’s lesson, then nothing does.

Trying to recreate an America whose values are beholden to decades gone by or expecting politicians to solve the underlying problems which plague our society is a strategy for failure. While, so long as no laws are broken, each of us can live as we wish, popular culture cannot be upended by public policy. Indeed, the latter typically informs the former.

“Traditional morality” or “family values” only go so far as the people willing to live by them. Public officeholders should not be looked to as messiah-like figures who can somehow turn a ship around. In terms of raw power, the presidency is dwarfed by Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Madison Avenue, and wherever academia flourishes. People create the culture they live in, and if one wants real change, then millions upon millions must be persuaded to think differently.

Following Gatsby’s lead by creating a world where our desires reign supreme seems wonderful at first, but quickly leads down a dark path. Imposing our own dreams onto politicians, political parties, and election cycles will surely leave us with profound regret.

Placing emphasis on mind over matter takes anyone willing to do so a long way. If nothing else, it sure beats the alternative.

——-

Copyright 2014 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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Sandy Hook murder: report documents system failure throughout Lanza’s life http://themoderatevoice.com/200568/sandy-hook-murder-report-documents-system-failure-throughout-lanzas-life/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200568/sandy-hook-murder-report-documents-system-failure-throughout-lanzas-life/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 07:04:31 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200568 [slider] [Updated 12:25 pm Saturday, Pacific] Although hindsight can often provide a false sense of clarity, a report on Sandy Hook mass murderer Adam Lanza suggests there were many warnings about Lanza’s mental health issues, warnings that were were ignored or dismissed by parents, educators, doctors. The report (pdf), prepared by the Connecticut Office of [...]

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[slider]Adam Lanza

[Updated 12:25 pm Saturday, Pacific]
Although hindsight can often provide a false sense of clarity, a report on Sandy Hook mass murderer Adam Lanza suggests there were many warnings about Lanza’s mental health issues, warnings that were were ignored or dismissed by parents, educators, doctors.

The report (pdf), prepared by the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate, reviews “the circumstances that pre-dated his commission of mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”

It is vital to note that [Adam] was completely untreated in the years before the shooting and did not receive sustained, effective services during critical periods of his life, and it is this story that the report seeks to tell (p. 3).

As we approach the second anniversary of the murders, it’s important to take stock of what we as a society do – or fail to do – in the context of mental health.

The report authors make clear that there is no “direct line” of causation, a warning sign that might have led directly to the murders. But they also argue that we need a working “cross-system communication amongst professionals charged with the care of children.”

Finally the report paints a stark picture of a system that failed.

It’s not that his mental illness was a predisposing factor in this tragedy … It was his untreated mental illness that was a predisposing factor.
~ Dr. Harold Schwartz, chief psychiatrist at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living

The concluding questions in the report need to be discussed widely and thoroughly, and although they are not presented as accusatory, if you read the entire report you are likely to frame them as such:

Would a similar family from a different race or lower socio-economic status in the community have been given the same benefit of the doubt that [Adam's] family was given?
 
 
Is the community more reluctant to intervene and more likely to provide deference to the parental judgment and decisionmaking of white, affluent parents than those caregivers who are poor or minority?
 
 
Would [Adam's] caregivers’ reluctance to maintain him in school or a treatment program have gone under the radar if he were a child of color?

You know the answers: No. Yes. No.

Key points in the Adam Lanza report

1992: Adam is born on April 22 in Exeter, NH, to Nancy and Peter Lanza. He had an older brother, Ryan.

1994: Adam underwent the New Hampshire “Birth to Three” assessment when he was three years old because of “speech and language delays.”

The assessment concluded that he “fell well below expectations in social-personal development (p. 16)” and the evaluator created a preschool special education plan.

1995-1997: In 1995, Adam began pre-school in Kingston, N.H. He was “removed from speech and language services in late pre-school due to a perception that his challenges were not impeding his ability to learn (p. 17).”

In April 1997, special education services were re-instated after a report noted that Adam might have “a sensory integration disorder, and that he displayed ‘many rituals’ in his behavior (p. 17).” The assessment recommended “significant speech and language support” as well as assessment by a neurologist as well as “work with an occupational therapist certified in sensory integration therapy (p. 17).”

In May 1997, the school district completed its assessment, which confirmed that Adam “still had a dramatic discrepancy between expressive and receptive language abilities (a 42 point standard score difference, p. 17).”

From early childhood [Adam] never received comprehensive educational assessments that could provide recommendations for cohesive, multidisciplinary supports that took all of his abilities and disabilities into account (p. 20).

1998: The Lanza family moved to Connecticut. When Adam began first grade at Sandy Hook, the elementary school implemented the Individual Education Plan (IEP) established in New Hampshire, which focused on speech and language impairments.

1999: Early in the second grade, Adam was still having problems with fine motor skills but nevertheless occupational therapy was discontinued.

2000: In third grade, Adam showed improved speech articulation.

2001: In fourth grade, Adam was no longer in the special education program.

2002: The Lanzas separated; they shared custody of Ryan and Adam but the boys lived primarily with their mother.

By the fifth grade, Adam had begun “perseverative hand washing, avoiding contact with other people, and becoming increasingly fearful (p. 31).”

At Reed Intermediate School, Adam and a friend authored an “extremely disturbing [book] … filled with images and narrative relating child murder, cannibalism, and taxidermy.” Nevertheless: “There is no clear indication in the educational records that school staff carefully reviewed or were otherwise explicitly aware of the contents (p. 29).”

There is intense violence featured in this book, and authors conclude that it was not the sort of creation that most children would even know to invent. Mental health professionals contributing to this report determined that the content of “The Big Book of Granny” can only be described as extremely abhorrent and, if it had been carefully reviewed by school staff, it would have suggested the need for a referral to a child psychiatrist or other mental health professional for evaluation. An appropriate evaluation would have required extended discussion with the child about what the book meant and how it came to be written by encouraging extensive elaboration about what the text revealed regarding the child’s thoughts and social-emotional processing (p. 32).
 
[...]
 
[The authors] strongly caution that nothing in these findings would predict that [Adam] was likely to commit mass murder, even if a better connection had been made between the writing of “The Big Book of Granny” and a need for mental health evaluation and intervention (p. 34).

2003: Adam’s pediatric record “noted obsessive-compulsive tendencies,
including hand washing¸ leading to excoriated skin, and clothing rituals. There is no documentation in the pediatric record of any exploration of these issues or of a referral to a mental health specialist (p. 36).”

2005: In April, Adam withdrew from the seventh grade at Newtown Middle School due to “social, emotional, and communicative struggles (p. 36).” He transferred to a local catholic school to complete the school term but left before the fall term (8th grade) began.

There is no indication in the record that he was offered a re-evaluation for special education services based on social-emotional or other developmental concerns (p. 36).

In September, his mother took him to the hospital.

Hospital records described him as “anxious,” “withdrawn,” and “hesitant to be touched.” He presented as agitated, hyper-vigilant, and overwhelmed with fear. The clinical consultation resulted in diagnoses of Anxiety Disorder, NOS; Rule out Asperger Syndrome; Rule out Autistic Disorder, followed by a discharge diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (p. 38).
 
[...]
 
Mrs. Lanza declined the additional evaluation and referral as documented by the clinical team at Danbury Hospital. … Hospital staff agreed to provide a note excusing [Adam] from school for three days, pending an IEP meeting. Mrs. Lanza agreed in writing to return him to the Emergency Department should his anxiety symptoms increase at home. The hospital agreed to discharge [Adam]. It does not appear that a subsequent IEP meeting took place until December 2005 (p. 39).

After the hospital visit, Adam’s mother sought to “home school” him but the school “recommended that the family and school work together to try and meet [Adam's] needs, even in unconventional ways if necessary. However, the community psychiatrist wrote a note saying that Adam should not attend school because of “mounting overwhelming anxiety” (p. 41).

Clinical and educational professionals contributing to this report agree that the recommendations articulated here by the community psychiatrist were completely inappropriate and non-therapeutic (p 41).

2006: Adam had not returned to school. In response to a request about standardized testing, the psychiatrist told the school that Adam was “medically/emotionally unavailable to be tested” (p. 43).

The report authors note that Adam was not “home-schooled.” Instead, Adam had a designation of “homebound” which “is permitted by Connecticut education law when a child is deemed too disabled to receive services in school even with modifications and supports (p. 43).” His mental health had “significantly deteriorate[d] during middle school (p. 44).”

There did not appear to be any significant or timely follow up to the psychiatrist’s [report to the school] that [Adam] was not only unavailable for testing, but unavailable for any instruction whatsoever (p. 46).

In June 2006, Adam’s medical record documents raw hands due to over-washing. “There is no documented follow up or coordination between the pediatrician and the community psychiatrist that he was purportedly seeing at that time (p. 70).”

In October 2006, Adam was evaluated by a Yale Child Study Center psychiatrist.

The tone and level of urgency in the doctor’s report appears a testament to his degree of concern. He references the use of medication to relieve symptoms… [Adam] had been seen by the community psychiatrist for 10 visits and [had refused medication].
 
The psychiatrist … recommended further evaluation to clarify cognitive, social, and linguistic strengths and weakness. Psychological and speech and language evaluation was seen as essential. Treatment, the psychiatrist stated, would be difficult to implement outside of a broader therapeutic day school setting.
 
[The psychiatrist wrote:] Beyond the impact of OCD symptoms on himself and his mother, we are very concerned about [Adam's] increasingly constricted social and educational world.
 
Finally, the Yale psychiatrist noted that the family needed “tons of parental guidance—without that, any office based approach to his [challenges] will fail, certainly if it is without medication.”

In November of the 9th grade (2006), the Adam’s parents agreed to a school-district conducted psychological evaluation, which determined that there was “no evidence of a specific learning disability (p. 60).”

2007: For a period of three days, Adam took an anti-depressant. His mother decided to discontinue the medicine, ostensibly in consultation with community psychiatrist.

Overall, the psychiatrist and APRN at Yale both indicated, in present-day interviews, their view that [Adam] was profoundly impaired by anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and that his parents, and certainly [Adam], may not have understood the depth or implications of his disabilities. It may have been easier for the parents to accept that [Adam] was a youth with a “high functioning” disorder, conceptualizing him as someone who was gifted but who had odd or challenging behaviors that needed behavioral modification.
 
[...]
 
[T]he Yale Child Study Center clinicians who evaluated and treated [Adam] felt that his parents, and certainly his mother, may have had greater than average difficulty with accepting the extent of [Adam’s] disabilities (p. 56).

Subsequently, the school and family created an IEP that did not reflect recommendations contained in the Yale Child Study Center report. The report contains “no assessment of social-emotional behavior” despite this being the argument Adam’s mother presented for his being homebound (p. 60).

School records contain no documentation of input from the community psychiatrist past early 2006 and no copies of any treatment recommendations. School records also contain no documentation of phone correspondence between school personnel and [the community] psychiatrist (p. 59).

For the 2007-2008 academic year (10th grade), the school prepared to mainstream Adam despite an “ongoing underestimation” of Adam’s abilities (p. 62).

There were multiple indicators that [Adam] met statutory-regulatory criteria and applicable
guidance for autism spectrum disorders or, alternatively, for emotional disturbance (p. 63).
 
[...]
 
The absence of a plan to address [Adam's] social-emotional issues with a program that was sufficiently intense and therapeutic likely contributed to a situation in which he eventually became increasingly withdrawn and socially isolated (p. 64).

2008: By February, Adam had dropped his mainstreamed classes. He never re-entered mainstream classes (p. 68).

By 11th grade [Adam] was not able or willing to attend high school with his peers and there was nothing in his IEP that reflected consultation with a mental health professional, behaviorist, or any other individual experienced in educating youth with significant developmental or mental health needs. Notably, [Adam's] IEP consistently stated that his transition skills, including his “daily living skills” were “age appropriate,” while simultaneously noting his significant mental health disabilities (p. 69).

2008-2009: Adam took courses at Norwalk Community College and
Western Connecticut State University, many for high school credit.

2011: Adam began researching mass shootings online, where he found like-minded people who “would write about their mutual interest in various shooters and incidents (p. 99).”

The emails exchanged between [Adam] and members of this macabre online community offer a rather breathtaking reflection of a negative micro-society within our midst (p. 100).

At the time of his death, Adam was 6′ tall and weighed 112 pounds.

And his routine medical visit intake forms, completed primarily by his mother, never mentioned mental health issues. And yet anorexia can directly affect mental acuity.

Mental health and access to guns

[Adam] grew up in a home where it was common place to use guns for recreational activity. It cannot be overlooked that as his mental health deteriorated and his isolation from the world increased dramatically, his access to guns did not diminish. His parents, and certainly his mother, seemed unaware of any potential detrimental impact of providing unfettered access to firearms to their son (p. 78).

Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)

Maybe you’ve heard of this law. I hadn’t.

States are required by federal law to offer evaluation and support services for children age birth to thirty-six months who have developmental delays or who have a medical condition that places them at risk for developmental delays (p. 16).
 
[...]
 
Federal law requires that local school systems have processes for identifying and providing special education and related services for children age 3 to 21 who have a disability that is interfering with the child’s education or ability to learn (p. 16).

According to the Department of Education, IDEA “governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.”

IDEA requires that schools provide special education services to eligible students. And IDEA requires that parents participate in the child’s school team to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

It is important to note that youth with disabilities who receive special education services are eligible for academic and transition services through age 21 if the continued provision of services is necessary to assist with making educational progress and in achieving agreed-upon goals and objectives. In fact, a youth may complete all academic requirements for graduation but continue with transition services for a year or even more, working on independent living skills and other goals necessary for transition to post-secondary life. Here, [Adam] not only had a paucity of transition planning, he graduated early
from high school (p. 70).

In conclusion

The report is depressing. On Facebook, a friend called it “utterly devastating”.

The report authors detail a complex network of parental denial, medical community indifference and repeated failure to follow through.

The authors make it clear that they cannot explain why Adam took such an extreme action on Dec. 14, 2012. And there is no single moment in his troubled life that would point to such a horrific outcome.

But there was clearly something amiss in his judgment as early as age 10, and this defect was apparently ignored by all the adults in his life.

What do you think?

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GOP Reaction to President’s Immigration Policy: ‘Life Imitating Satire’? http://themoderatevoice.com/200566/gop-reaction-presidents-immigration-policy-life-imitating-satire/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200566/gop-reaction-presidents-immigration-policy-life-imitating-satire/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 03:59:45 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200566 On Thursday, New York Times best-selling author, Andy Borowitz, wrote: In a sharp Republican rebuke to President Obama’s proposed actions on immigration, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the President…of “flagrantly treating immigrants like human beings, in clear defiance of the wishes of Congress.” Borowitz also said that McConnell blasted the President for “eliminating the [...]

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shutterstock_186881459

On Thursday, New York Times best-selling author, Andy Borowitz, wrote:

In a sharp Republican rebuke to President Obama’s proposed actions on immigration, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the President…of “flagrantly treating immigrants like human beings, in clear defiance of the wishes of Congress.”

Borowitz also said that McConnell blasted the President for “eliminating the fear of deportation, which is the great engine of the American economy”, because “[f]ear is what keeps immigrants working so hard and so fast and so cheap…Remove the fear of deportation, and what will immigrants become? Lazy Americans.”

Putting icing on the satirical cake, Borowitz said that McConnell warned the President, “If Mr. Obama thinks that, with the stroke of a pen, he can destroy the work ethic of millions of terrified immigrants, he’s in for the fight of his life.”

Finally, in a finishing touch to the cake, Borowitz said that McConnell added, “Obama’s comments about deporting felons were ‘deeply offensive’ to political donors.”

Many Democrats devoured the whole enchilada cake — a testament to the outrages and idiocies that we have come to expect from our friends on the Right.

While I enjoyed Borowitz’ delicious satirical cake, it is ironic but yet a sign of the (political) times, that other Republicans have now stepped forward in the wake of the President’s speech on immigration with statements that trounce Borowitz’ satire.

Even before his speech, the long, crazy knifes were already out. Take Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann who said, according to the Washington Post that “the immigrants given new protections by the president could become ‘illiterate’ Democratic voters.”

When asked by the Post why she used the word “illiterate” to “describe a group of mostly Spanish-speaking workers, Bachmann said her view was informed by trips to the border,” according to the Post.

ThinkProgress says, “To watch Republican commentary surrounding Obama’s announcement, one would have thought there was a constitutional apocalypse,” and provides, first, some (mild) examples:

• Sen. Jeff Session (R-AL) warned that “the president is endangering our entire constitutional order.”

• House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said Obama’s “rogue” action “threatens to unravel our government’s system of checks.”

• Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was ready to move forward with a three-step plan for all-out government obstruction and political retribution.

But wait, these aren’t even the most hysterical reactions to Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration. ThinkProgress also lists “some of the most offensive things lawmakers have to say,” before and after the President’s speech.

Here are some abbreviated examples. To read them in their glorious entirety, please click here.

Before Obama released the details of his plan, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) claimed Obama might be guilty of a felony for aiding or abetting a foreigner to enter the United States, although he couldn’t be sure, adding that Obama might end up in jail. “At some point, you have to evaluate whether the president’s conduct aids or abets, encourages, or entices foreigners to unlawfully cross into the United States of America,” he continued. “That has a five-year in-jail penalty associated with it.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, also before the President’ speech, responding to a caller’s “when one culture or one race or one religion overwhelms another culture or race,” they “run them out or kill them,” suggested that Obama’s lawlessness could indeed lead to what he identified as ethnic cleansing. Kobach “explained”:

What protects us in America from any kind of ethnic cleansing is the rule of law, of course. And the rule of law used to be unassailable, used to be taken for granted in America. And now, of course, we have a President who disregards the law when it suits his interests. And, so, you know, while I normally would answer that by saying, ‘Steve, of course we have the rule of law, that could never happen in America,’ I wonder what could happen. I still don’t think it’s going to happen in America, but I have to admit, that things are, things are strange and they’re happening.

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) in remarks to Fox News’ Sean Hannity after Obama’s national address, doubled down on his claim that that immigration reform hurts African Americans, saying that Obama’s action is “so offensive” to both African Americans and Hispanics “who have an enormously high unemployment rate.” He then inferred that the 4.9 million immigrants who are being granted deportation relief from Obama would take others’ jobs at a 1-to-1 ratio, saying, “that’s going to leave 5 million people out in the cold.”

ThinkProgress rebuts Gohmert’s claim:

In fact, many undocumented immigrants are already providing low-wage labor. And economists have repeatedly found that in addition to reform being a net positive for the American economy, immigrants have a small but positive effect on the wages and job prospects of low-wage American workers, because they tend to fill complementary jobs, and are more willing to move locations when labor demand shifts. Hispanics and African Americans also overwhelmingly support immigration reform.

“Life imitating satire”?

Lead image: www.shutterstock.com

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On the Ready in Ferguson: Police, Protesters – And Lawyers http://themoderatevoice.com/200564/ready-ferguson-police-protesters-lawyers/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200564/ready-ferguson-police-protesters-lawyers/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 02:24:26 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200564 Hundreds of civil rights lawyers from across America are descending on Ferguson, Missouri as police and protesters prepare for a grand jury decision on whether to charge the officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in August. The attorneys are arriving in Ferguson as talks between protest groups and police have stalled over a refusal [...]

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Hundreds of civil rights lawyers from across America are descending on Ferguson, Missouri as police and protesters prepare for a grand jury decision on whether to charge the officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in August. The attorneys are arriving in Ferguson as talks between protest groups and police have stalled over a refusal by…

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Republicans Can Stop Pretending They Want Immigration Reform (Guest Voice) http://themoderatevoice.com/200562/republicans-can-stop-pretending-want-immigration-reform-guest-voice/ http://themoderatevoice.com/200562/republicans-can-stop-pretending-want-immigration-reform-guest-voice/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 02:19:14 +0000 http://themoderatevoice.com/?p=200562 Republicans Can Stop Pretending They Want Immigration Reform By Tina Dupuy Illegal immigrants are the perfect Republican foe. They’re easily exploited as low-cost workers benefiting business and easily maligned for being “lawless” benefiting politicians. They’re a foreign other with a tendency not to speak English so suspicion is ready-made. Plus, how are illegal immigrants going [...]

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David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

Republicans Can Stop Pretending They Want Immigration Reform
By Tina Dupuy

Illegal immigrants are the perfect Republican foe. They’re easily exploited as low-cost workers benefiting business and easily maligned for being “lawless” benefiting politicians. They’re a foreign other with a tendency not to speak English so suspicion is ready-made. Plus, how are illegal immigrants going to stick up for themselves? They’re not. They’re an ideal rival!

Republicans get to be morally superior. “We’re a nation of laws,” they regurgitate. Unless you’re the company hiring all the cheap labor with little ability to redress grievances, then we’re a nation of turning a blind eye and enjoying the cheap goods and services.

According to Republican politicians, these hordes come over here when the economy is good and take our jobs, and when the economy is bad, they bring in drugs. Sometimes they’re terrorists. Sometimes they’re disease hosts. Whatever evil that comes up in the news cycle, undocumented immigrants can play the role. They’re great for the GOP. Illegal immigrants are the GOP’s bestest fremeny.

America gets to have its own shadow third-world country of workers who can never unionize, fight back or demand a raise. And conservatives get to pretend to combat an amoral swath. It’s a pretty sweet arrangement for Republicans.

So what is the GOP’s sincere (snicker) heartfelt (cackle) solution (eye roll) to this alleged problem? Secure the border. “Under my plan, national and border security will move as the first element of any reform and would require annual votes of Congress to establish that the border is truly secure. No other reform can go forward until this happens,” writes Rand Paul with a “plan” seemingly lifted from every other Republican lawmaker in the nation.

The party stopped feigning fiscal hawkishness somewhere between putting the Iraq War on a credit card while doling out tax cuts. In the past we raised taxes for war—a practice apparently too passe for the new Grand Old Party. Tax and spend? Pshaw. Cut and spend! Woo!

And our border is a pricy red herring. “According to the Migration Policy Institute, a think-tank, border enforcement costs $18 billion a year, more than all other federal criminal-law-enforcement agencies combined,” writes The Economist.

We went from having 4,000 agents at our border with Mexico in 1993 to having 20,000 today with hopes of providing more if the House ever passes any bills. Small government? Try small army.

Then there’s the $2.3 billion boondoggle on our southern border known as the Great Wall of America. Does a fence lock up the border? No. Does a fence keep people from coming in? Evidence suggests not.

Maybe we’re not trying hard enough. Why not a dome? Have we even considered a dome? How about we can’t have immigration reform until there’s a dome. Why are you against a dome? Don’t you care about national security? Dome now—dome forever! Hurry up and build the dang dome!

Why are GOP lawmakers’ hair on fire over all the alleged tax money being spent on undocumented Americans’ public education, health care and other municipal services but not on the copious amount being flushed away on border security?

Why? Because we’re a nation of laws and secure the border. That’s why!

Truly securing the border is totally unattainable and Republicans know it. No matter how much money we throw at a fence or agents or buses, it’ll never be “secure enough” to satisfy right wing lawmakers’ migrating goalposts. Obama will never accomplish it, therefore immigration reform is something Republicans will never have to do. And, really, they don’t want to. The immigration system works best for Republicans when it’s broken. They can lament how inefficient government is while reaping the rewards of an underground labor market.

Now they have the added bonus of denouncing Obama’s executive action on the issue. Here comes the hysterics. Republicans get to act shocked and collectively recoil in horror at the idea the president they oppose would do basically the same unilateral action Reagan and Bush did. Of course, when Obama does it it’s suddenly tyrannical, unconstitutional and grounds for impeachment.

Mainly because Republicans have stopped working for the American people and just work against the American president. And immigration is just the latest example.

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© Copyright 2014 TinaDupuy.com, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Tina Dupuy is a nationally syndicated op-ed columnist, investigative journalist, award-winning writer, stand-up comic, on-air commentator and wedge issue fan. Tina can be reached at tinadupuy@yahoo.com

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