Monday Evening Open Thread: I {Heart} NYC








Veterans Day Read: “The Endless Recovery From the Endless War”

He was, for a time, the most well-known veteran in America.

On the evening of January 28, 2014, Cory Remsburg, an elite Army Ranger grievously wounded in Afghanistan, sat next to First Lady Michelle Obama in the balcony of the House chamber as President Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address. As one of the president’s speechwriters, I watched from the floor below, crowded among congressional and White House staff.

Nearing the end of his speech, Obama described how, on Cory’s tenth deployment, a bomb blast had thrown him into a canal, where his fellow soldiers found him facedown, underwater, unconscious, with a punctured skull. Across the country, television screens cut to Cory, with a lean build, close-cropped brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and striking in his dress blue uniform — a bow tie and a chestful of colorful ribbons and commendations…

This October 1 marked a decade since the explosion. Cory has now spent more years working to recover from his injuries than he did serving on active duty in the war zones — one of the approximately 5,000 veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq with penetrating head wounds who have returned home to live with their catastrophic injuries for decades to come. In advance of this milestone, I asked Cory and his parents for permission to follow him for the year.

I wanted to see the unvarnished reality of his life after the applause…

Over the past year, I spoke with Cory and his parents about two dozen times, in person and by telephone, often for an hour or more. I visited him at military and veterans’ hospitals and at his home in Arizona, where he granted me and photographer Pete Souza unprecedented access to his daily life. I spoke with more than 30 of Cory’s family, friends, fellow Rangers, doctors, and therapists.

I soon learned, as his brother had warned me, how dark the journey could get…

Remsburg was a 26-year-old at the height of his powers; now he’s a 35-year old whose parents are his full-time caregivers. Someone learning, over and over every day, how much he’ll never again do for himself… from driving to putting on deodorant.








Saluting Our Veterans And Their Families

As a military brat whose father and brother served in war zones, I have firsthand knowledge of what families go through when service members are deployed. And even without deployment, many military families relocate every few years.  So reading about this young man really touched my heart. And he has a book!

Davidson and his dad, as illustrated by his father in a book they wrote together.

(CNN) Davidson is only 9 years old, yet he’s been the man of the house eight times while his dad serves his country.

His father, Dave, is a Green Beret on his 10th deployment. The famil y lives in northern Virginia while Dave is stationed somewhere overseas. Davidson is used to not having his dad around, but he never forgets him.
This illustration shows Dave embracing Davidson after surviving an attack in Afghanistan.
“Sometimes it’s fine because we actually do a lot of fun things while he’s away, but it’s also sad because he’s just not here,” Davidson told CNN. “My mom sometimes breaks down and cries a lot because she misses him. And it’s not really hard for her because I help her, but it’s just she misses him.”

by Davidson Whetstone

Illustrated by his father

Davidson’s father was deployed every year of his young life when, at 6 years old, four days before Christmas, the call came that he was injured by an RPG in Afghanistan. With vivid, compelling art by Davidson’s own active duty father, this book tells the story of Davidson’s brave journey during his father’s service, recovery at Walter Reed Hospital, and return to the battlefield.

Brave For My Family is a book for every American child to read and celebrate the bravery of thos on the homefront when a parent is away fighting for our country.

Proceeds from the book support Military Families and Wounded Warriors through trusted organizations who have demonstrated their commitment to those who serve: Green Beret Foundation, Rick Herrema Foundation, Lead the Way Fund, Navy SEAL Foundation, Semper Fi Fund, and Patriot Foundation.

Closer to home for me – I’m in Niwot several times a month and I love this display:








The Other Mexico Story

Most of the recent press about Mexico has involved the killing of a group of dual citizen Mormons in a rural area between Sonora and Chihuahua (here’s a good explainer), and the cartel using .50 cal machine guns, rocket launchers and armored vehicles to free El Chapo’s son in Culiacán. But there’s another story that shows the depth of the problem that Mexico is facing.

Puerto Peñasco is a small port town at the northernmost tip of the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez, known as Rocky Point to US tourists. It’s wired for tourism because of the joint efforts of the Arizona and Sonora governments: the 60 miles of road is a “safety corridor“, which means it is better patrolled and police bribery is discouraged and investigated. The whole area is part of the hassle free vehicle zone, which allows US citizens to bring in a vehicle without an import permit, and Rocky Point is the only destination in Mexico where the need for a tourist card or visa isn’t enforced. In short, it should be the safest spot in Mexico, and for US tourists, it is.

For Mexicans, it’s another story. Just before Halloween, a group called Searching Mothers of Sonora found a mass grave near Puerto Peñasco with 42 bodies. They were warned off by gunmen, but police were called in and further excavation continues to find bodies. The latest count is 58. DNA testing is going on to identify the bodies, and families are being encouraged to give samples if they think one of their relatives could be in the grave.

Everybody hates a tourist, but I love Mexico as a tourist. There’s a lot of ugliness in the towns, and trash on the roads, but there’s also this:


Mexicans, almost to a person, are some of the nicest and friendliest people you’ll meet. I’ve been a tourist there since I was a kid, and I was just in Puerto Peñasco a couple of weeks ago. I’d go again without much worry. Like any other country, you need to pick the places you want to visit. The areas of cartel activity are well known and publicized. Cartels generally do not mess with US citizens (the Mormons in Chihuahua were a special case – they were in vocal opposition to the cartels). Still, I’m sure fewer and fewer US citizens will be traveling there after hearing the news, and that’s a damn shame for a country that’s having a hard time in part due to the tidal wave of guns and drug money that we’re sending them.








(Breaking) Open Thread: Rep. Pete ‘The Mucker’ King Announces He Will Not Seek Re-election

If LunGUYlin’s proudest IRA supporter is dropping out already… even the fights aren’t as much fun any more.

Good.

This guy has been stanning for the worst of the GOP since the late 1970s — the best you could say about him was that while he was always mean, he’s not the dumbest Rep. King of his tenure.

I said this back in March 2011:

The thing is, even his fellow terrorists revolutionary-supporters never fully trust a mucker — he’s the guy who’s going to end up in the centre of the cabal as long as it’s “winning”, but when the Us-vs-Them noose tightens, his former comrades get jettisoned as necessary.

… One can but hope, she added.

(Drew Sheneman via GoComics.com)
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Monday Morning Open Thread: Veterans Day

It’s the centennial of New York City’s commemorative parade, so of course the Oval Office Occupant decided he’d try and hijack the event:

This year’s Veterans Day Parade—hosted by the United Way Veterans Council—will celebrate its centennial as more than 30,000 people march up Fifth Avenue on Monday, November 11 to honor veterans of the United States military during the annual holiday. While the organizers stress that the parade is a non-partisan and non-political event, President Donald Trump will make history this year as the first sitting president to attend the celebration. The president will not be marching in the parade but he will be giving an opening address at Madison Square Park.

The event will kick off with a traditional opening ceremony at 11 a.m. near Madison Square Park on 24th Street and Fifth Avenue, where Trump is scheduled to make a speech. The ceremony will conclude with a wreath-laying at the Eternal Light Monument inside the park at 12 p.m.

The parade itself is expected to begin shortly after, heading north on Fifth Avenue from West 26th Street to West 46th Street. The route is about 1.2 miles and the parade is expected to wrap up by 3:30 p.m…

The Daily News reports:

The president arrived in New York City Saturday night and bunkered down in Trump Tower in Midtown, according to a White House pool report…

Last week, a state judge in Manhattan ordered Trump to pay $2 million in damages to nonprofits after funds he raised with the stated purpose of supporting veterans actually went to his presidential campaign.

On Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to speak at the Economic Club of New York before heading back to Washington, D.C., where impeachment proceedings will be in full swing.

I still think it’s even odds his bone spurs will act up and he’ll be a no-show, for fear someone will point out on camera that he’s hiding out on his frantic GOP ‘supporters’ down in D.C. Any bets?








Late Night Open Thread: Rich ‘Sparklepants’ Lowry Throws A Public Snit

Not that I normally read anything by, or if I can help it about, the National Review editor who wrote the first public paean to Sarah Palin’s charms. But Mr. Boie’s tweet sent me in search of explication…

You know what I am?” U.S. President Donald J. Trump said at a rally in October 2018. “I’m a nationalist.” Rich Lowry’s The Case for Nationalism can be seen as a way of working through, and defending, what the president meant. As the editor of National Review, the prominent conservative magazine, Lowry is an intellectual gatekeeper on the American right. He was one of the speakers at the National Conservatism conference in July 2019, an event that brought together such thinkers as J. D. Vance and Patrick Deneen, with keynotes by the billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel and the Fox News host Tucker Carlson, along with a notorious intervention on the perils of immigration by University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax.

Lowry’s central claim is that Americans are, and have been from their country’s founding, a nation and not a community of universal ideas. Although intellectuals and left-wing pundits are openly hostile to expressions of national sentiment, the United States has a unique national tradition that is today obscured by fissiparous identity politics. If Americans reacquaint themselves with their true national heritage, they will be better equipped to overcome dangerous tribalism, protect their borders, and make their country great again. To the degree that the United States has a global role, it should be as “vindicator of the prerogatives of other democratic nation-states”—in other words, a defender of the idea that a world of culturally defined nations is humanity’s state of nature…
Read more








Stupid, Evil, and Shameless

In yet another blatant attempt to get the whistleblower’s name into public so they can have more crazy people try to threaten him, the Federalist publishes this dreck (no link to the Federalist, fuck them):

Last Wednesday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, published the unredacted name of a man alleged to be the so-called whistleblower who helped launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

During HPSCI testimony, William Taylor, the charge d’affairs of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, was asked by a staff lawyer on the committee whether the name XXXXXXXXXXXXX was familiar to him.

“Does a person by the name of XXXXXXXXXXXXXX ring a bell for you?” asked Steve Castor, a committee staff counsel asked Taylor during a deposition on October 22.

Apparently, because the Schiff committee published his name WITHOUT mentioning he was the potential whistleblower, that means it is fair game to publish his name and accuse him of being the whistleblower. And why was his name brought up in the first place? Because Republican aides had been trying to get his name in the record FOR JUST THIS FUCKING REASON for weeks:

A top aide to Rep. Devin Nunes has been providing conservative politicians and journalists with information—and misinformation—about the anonymous whistleblower who triggered the biggest crisis of Donald Trump’s presidency, two knowledgeable sources tell The Daily Beast.

Derek Harvey, who works for Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, has provided notes for House Republicans identifying the whistleblower’s name ahead of the high-profile depositions of Trump administration appointees and civil servants in the impeachment inquiry. The purpose of the notes, one source said, is to get the whistleblower’s name into the record of the proceedings, which committee chairman Adam Schiff has pledged to eventually release. In other words: it’s an attempt to out the anonymous official who helped trigger the impeachment inquiry.

And just who is Steve Castor? This fucking guy:

Steve Castor is chief investigative counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform under committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC). He has served on the committee staff since 2005, and during his twelve-year tenure participated in a wide variety of high-profile oversight investigations. Prior to working for Congress, he practiced commercial litigation in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. He earned his law degree from George Washington University.

So yeah, the alleged whistleblower’s name was published. Just like you fucking wanted it to be Madeline (who is just way too young to be this indoctrinated and evil).








Repubs in Disarray!… Open Thread: Nikki Haley’s Delicate Balancing Act

Conventional wisdom, any time over the last forty years, has been that the first female president would be a Republican. (Or, we should amend, the first female winner of the popular vote allowed to take her earned seat in the Oval Office.) Nikki Haley has been working to be that woman for most of her adult life, but her best shot — and her new memoir — arrive at a tricksy point in the current electoral cycle: She can’t afford to denounce the sitting Republican president, for fear of angering his (Deplorable) base. But she can’t risk applauding too publicly someone who might be impeached, or worse, before her book tour is well under way.

Solution: Embrace the Oval Office Occupant; blame any ‘mistakes’ on the people around him. Even better, on the people who were around him, but have since been dismissed!

In the book, which was obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its release Tuesday, Haley offers only glancing critiques of her former boss, saying she and others who worked for Trump had an obligation to carry out his wishes since he was the one elected by voters.

The former South Carolina governor, widely viewed by Republicans as a top potential presidential candidate in 2024, has repeatedly sought to minimize differences with Trump while distancing herself from his excesses. Haley, 47, writes that she backed most of the foreign policy decisions by Trump that others tried to block or slow down, including withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord and the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

In a New York City interview with The Post coinciding with the book release, Haley also dismissed efforts by House Democrats to impeach Trump. She said she opposes Trump’s efforts to seek foreign help for political investigations in a call with Ukraine’s president, but that the actions are not impeachable.

“There was no heavy demand insisting that something had to happen. So it’s hard for me to understand where the whole impeachment situation is coming from, because what everybody’s up in arms about didn’t happen,” Haley said…








US Marine Corps 244th Birthday

The US Marine Corps is 244 years old today. And yes, there will be cake!

For those who have never participated in a USMC birthday, there is a very interesting tradition and ritual involved. The cake is escorted by Marines, including the most senior (oldest) and the most junior (youngest) Marines in attendance. The cake is then cut with a Mameluke sword, which is the style/type of sword worn by Marines as part of their dress uniforms. The first slice is then presented to the guest of honor in attendance. The second piece is then presented to the oldest Marine present out of respect. He or she then passes that slice of cake to the most junior Marine present to signify the passing of experience knowledge from the oldest to the newest members of Corps. Here’s B-roll from the cake cutting ceremony at Camp Pendelton this year.

Here are US Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. David H Berger’s and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy E Black’s birthday message to the Corps.

And since it’s a long holiday weekend:

Open thread!








Open Thread: Geaux LSU Tigers


 
He’s very STRESSED, you guys!








Post Post-Partisan

Drew Magary, late of Deadspin, wrote a thing in Medium, mostly trashing Pete Buttigieg. I don’t agree with every criticism Magary makes of Buttigieg, but these lines about the case Buttigieg and others make for bipartisan unity jumped out at me:

Do you wanna know something about partisanship? Partisanship is good. Partisanship is the whole reason we have a democracy. I have no interest in finding common ground with fucking Trump voters or with other assorted white supremacists. I have no interest in making sure those groups don’t feel demonized. I have no interest in making them feel COMFORTABLE when they have made so many Americans, and the world beyond, feel the precise opposite. I’m allowed to be angry at the state of things and I’m sure as hell allowed to loudly call out those responsible for it.

Will we ever again have the sort of America where Democrats and Republicans have civil disagreements over tax rates and the scope of the social safety net? I honestly don’t know. It’s not impossible, but I believe it will take the utter defeat and rebuilding of the Republican Party before we get there.

It’s sort of like how the Western allies from WW2 were able to establish ties with post war-Germany and Japan. We stomped the fascism out of them first, at great cost on all sides. Then they rejoined the family of democratic nations.

You can quibble with HOW we defeated them, and I’d agree with some of those quibbles. But engineering their utter defeat was necessary. We can’t skip that step with the Republican Party. Anyone who says we can is lying to you.

Now, I suspect Mayor Pete, Joe Biden and other pols who say we can move forward as a nation past the Trump era by entering some mythical state of unity are just angling to peel off the unaffiliated. Maybe they sincerely don’t believe we can engineer Republicans’ utter defeat without winning a conventional-style election and then incrementally shoring democratic institutions up to withstand the next onslaught from a Republican demagogue.

Could they be correct? It took decades for the Republican Party to become the type of organization that rallies around an openly corrupt, leering, sneering, lawless, incompetent demagogue, and maybe it’ll take years to walk its rank-and-file back. I don’t think it works that way, though. I think we’re better off being post post-partisan and asking the swing voters who decide elections to pick a goddamned side.

People who voted for Trump to “shake things up” or out of economic anxiety exist, IMO, but not in the numbers pundits assume, and in any case, Democrats have no responsibility to offer them absolution for supporting a racist, sexist xenophobe, and I’m not convinced there’s anything to be gained from doing so.

Coddling those voters is an insult to the people harmed by Trump in a thousand different ways, so while paying occasional lip service to bipartisanship is one thing, making “unity” a central feature of a 2020 campaign misses the moment. Trump voters can choose to help defeat Trump this go-round or continue supporting him. That’s the choice, and the sooner we find out how large our plurality of fascists is, the clearer our future as a nation will be.








Sunday Morning Open Thread: Salmagundi

Welcome to the chill season:

Note who wrote this tweet:

Halloween dateline, on a real horror story:








Late Night Open Thread: The Berlin Wall – Both Sides!


(Crowley’s tweet, it seems, is actually four years old… part of her campaign seeking ‘promotion’ from Fox News host to Trump official.)

On the ‘opposite’ pole:








Kristallnacht 81 Years Later

Tonight is the 81st anniversary of the NAZI pogrom of November 1938 known as Kristallnacht.

I’m not sure 81 years on what there is left to say. Especially that I didn’t say in a post memorializing this day last year and the year before and the year before that and the year before that… Or in the posts I’ve done on the Red Summer or any other number of atrocities.

Perhaps we just need to pay attention because the revanchist, neo-fascist, and neo-nationalist descendants of the NAZIs and the other fascists that set the conditions for and carried out the atrocities on Kristallnacht and the even worse atrocities during the Holocaust proper still need to be combatted. They need to be exposed whenever possible. Dragged out into the sunlight for all to see and, should it come to it, once again physically combatted until they are defeated on the battlefield as they were during WW II.

Just this past week a neo-NAZI was arrested for trying to blow up a synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado. A young African American man had to stand his ground in Georgia in the face of a racist attack from a now deceased white man.* And we learned that the President and his racist, white supremacist administration have actually separated an additional 1,500 migrant children from their parents and that number may still be an undercount. I’m sure there are more examples of the revanchist, racist, and fascist throughline that runs from Kristallnacht in 1938 to the President, his administration, his surrogates, his supporters, and the tyrants and dictators that he so idealizes with just a few minutes more searching, but I don’t think I need to belabor the point.

Also, the Auschwitz Memorial is trying to get 750,000 followers by the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in January 2020. So if you’re on Twitter, give them a follow!

Open thread.

* I’m actually surprised it has taken this long for a person of color to have to use force/lethal force to defend him or herself from a white racist’s attack. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts, given that Georgia is a stand your ground state, but the person who stood his ground this time is African American. As I’ve written here many times in comments, I expected this to happen. And I expect that once white people realize that the old maxim that “G-d made man, Samuel Colt made all men equal” doesn’t just apply to white people, they’ll freak out. I’m honestly not sure what the nature of that freak out will be. It might be a response similar to that of then Governor Reagan’s to Black Panther’s openly carrying unarmed long guns in the California state capitol building by signing gun control legislation. Or it may be more similar to the Tulsa Race Riot, the Red Summer, and the response to Forest Joe’s slave revolt in the 1820s among others. But if people of color exercise their statutory rights to self defense, and they are both justified in doing so and do so in response to attacks on their persons and property by racist whites, there will be a backlash. And we all need to be prepared for it.