Band Aid on a Sucking Chest Wound

Let’s think about this before we start another war:

At the Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua, New York, the calls come in all day and night. Every day, 1,700 calls come in from veterans on the brink. […]

Twenty veterans take their lives every day in America, or 6,000 a year. Personal finances, broken relationships and loneliness are all factors. […]

Responder Terrence Davis, a Navy veteran himself, said he always tries to answer by the second ring.

“It’s highly stressful. Just knowing that you have someone else’s life in your hands,” Davis said.

Former Sergeant Danny O’Neel knows that feeling. Santa Cruz, California, may be a long way from the battlefield, but for him and his men, Sadr City, Iraq, is close by.

“It was hell on Earth. It was the most dangerous place at the time,” O’Neel said.

In 2006, his unit lost nine men in the fighting. But back home, 14 have died at their own hands.

“The guys started isolating and drinking and doing things that they thought were helping them cope. And it, and it led to depression and suicide,” he said.

Suicide hotline operators, and every other healthcare provider trying to heal these vets, are doing some of the hardest work there is. But their labor is a tiny fraction of what’s needed to stop these preventable deaths. We need more research, more providers, and more money spent on providing care for vets and others. More broadly, we need to expand our concept of a casualty of war, and understand the true long-term cost of wars that DC armchair warriors are constantly pushing.








Justin’s in Trouble

Justin Trudeau appeared in blackface/brownface, singing Day-O, in high school and as a teacher at a private school:

“The fact of the matter is, that I’ve always — you’ll know this — been more enthusiastic about costumes than is somehow, is sometimes appropriate, but these are the situations that I regret deeply,” said Trudeau.

In political terms, the quality of that statement is about as far away from “Just Watch Me” as is humanly possible.

Canada has an election on October 21, so this is a major case of bad timing for Justin, who already wasn’t looking great after being implicated in the SNC-Lavalin affair.








Foreign Affairs Guest Post: “Houston, We Have A Problem… “

Thanks, as always, to Schroedinger’s Cat:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a rally scheduled in Houston this Sunday. WalMart is one of the sponsors and the President of the United States has promised to attend along with an estimated 50,000 attendees.

What bright future are we talking about? The Indian economy is in the doldrums, minority populations live in fear, rapists are not arrested if they belong to the ruling party while activists fighting for the rights of the dispossessed languish in jail without a trial. As for dreams, the dream of a Hindutva dominated India where minorities are persecuted and dissenting voices are silenced, sounds more like a nightmare. Where the truth is sacrificed at the altar of political expediency and history is rewritten to service the ideology of hate.

Why is Modi doing this? My guess is for the publicity and for the $$. It’s also a reward for those among the diaspora who opened their wallets for Modi’s reelection. This rally would give the Prime Minister a much needed PR boost internationally after the draconian anti-democratic steps being taken in Kashmir since August 4th. It will show his fans and supporters back home in India that India has the world’s respect. Getting the US president who routinely demonizes immigrants, to a rally attended mostly by immigrants is definitely a PR coup for team Modi.

I was actually surprised that the White House accepted the invitation. Indian Americans have voted heavily for Democratic candidates in the recent past, see the figure below. Some have suggested that the crowd size may have been the irresistible attraction. Besides the fact that the Hindu right has deep pockets.

In addition to the President, 60 other elected leaders of both parties have promised to attend according to the organizers. Here is the list of those whose names appear in the news dispatch.

Raja Krishnamoorthi
John Cornyn
Ted Cruz
Al Green
Pete Olson
Sheila Jackson Lee
Sylvia Garcia, Greg Abbot
Cindy Hyde-Smith
Ami Bera
Brian Babin
Brad Sherman,
Eliot Engel

Firstpost is reporting that Steny Hoyer is also going to attend.

Check if your representative or senator is on the list and going to share a podium with a man who presided over a pogrom targeting Muslims in 2002 as the chief executive of Gujarat and is pursuing a nakedly majoritarian agenda in his second term as the prime minister. Actions in Kashmir being the case in point, where people have been without internet or cell phone access and access to medical care since August 4th.

Check out the BBC for news updates on Kashmir.

Watch this space for more updates on this developing story of the Houston rally. If you have questions leave them in the comments.








The Day After Israel’s 2019 National Election Part 2: Everything Is Clear as Mud

With 91% of the votes counted, we still have no really good or clear idea of what the actual election outcomes in Israel are going to be for the next government of Israel. Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan Party still has a one seat edge over Bibi’s Likud, with 32 to 31 projected seats. However, as night gave way to morning in Israel the potential coalition politics both got clearer and murkier at the same time. Both Ayelet Shaked who runs Yamina – basically what would happen if you gave Ann Coulter a political party – and the Joint Lists Ayman Odeh have both stated they’re headed to the opposition in the next Knesset. Shaked who is farther right than Bibi wants to present herself and Yamina as the new, better, younger, hipper, and more telegenic Likud against a potential national unity government. Odeh has stated that he wants to be the leader of the opposition. Avigdor Liberman, whose Yisrael Beytenu Party appears to have won 9 seats, is still calling for both a national unity government with Likud, Kahol Lavan, and Yisrael Beytenu.

Here’s the rub. If Shaked won’t support Bibi, then his potential coalition goes from 55 seats to 46 seats. But things get worse for Gantz. If Odeh won’t join or isn’t invited to join in a coalition with Kahol Lavan, Labor, and the Democratic Union, then Gantz’s potential 57 seat coalition drops down to 43 seats. This gives Bibi and his potential coalition more seats, which he’ll use to claim he should be given the opportunity to try to form the next government. Liberman has also said that he will not allow a third election to happen, but his non-negotiable demands, which include both excluding Odeh’s Joint List and that Bibi has to go, may be non-negotiable, but they may also be non-starters. Likud said last night that they were sticking with Bibi, though pressure will build to both keep him and pitch him over the side. It is unclear right now, how much control Bibi can exert to save himself right now, but he has just concluded a meeting with the other right wing parties and the initial reporting is he has shored up support among them, and he has a 55 seat coalition ready to move forward and try to form the next government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make a press statement at 6 p.m., in about half an hour, following his meeting with the senior leadership of the Jewish Home, New Right, United Torah Judaism and Shas parties at his office.

The factions agreed to function as a “bloc” and conduct coalition negotiations together, Likud says.

A Likud source tells The Times of Israel that he is expected to announce the support of all the parties, which will control some 55 Knesset seats according to preliminary election results.

While not enough to form a coalition on its own, Channel 12 reports Netanyahu is hoping that Rivlin will consider the 55-seat bloc as a single party and therefore agree to task the premier with forming the next government for having a bigger faction than the standalone Blue and White party.

Given that Ayelet Shaked’s Yamina Party isn’t mentioned, I don’t see how he gets to 55 seats, but that’s the reporting.

Everything is now clear as mud.

Open thread!








Israel’s 2019 National Election Part 2: The Revenge of the Son of the Update

I really don’t think a whole lot more is going to happen between now and daylight tomorrow. At least not anything that’s going to happen in public. As of 9:10 PM EDT, they’d counted 10% of the ballots cast. So the vote counting has a long way to go. The exit polls, as they stand right now, are:

Kahol Lavan – Average: 32 seats; Channel 11: 32 seats; Chanel 12: 32 seats; Channel 13: 32 seats

Likud – Average: 31 seats, Channel 11: 31 seats; Channel 12: 32 seats; Channel 13: 30 seats

Joint List – Average: 14 seats; Channel 11: 13 seats; Channel 12: 13 seats; Channel 13: 15 seats

Yisrael Beitenu – Average: 9 seats; Channel 11: 9 seats; Channel 12: 9 seats; Channel 13: 8 seats

Shas – Average: 9 seats; Channel 11: 9 seats; Channel 12: 9 seats; Channel 13: 9 seats

UTJ – Average: 8 seats; Channel 11: 8 seats; Channel: 7 seats; Channel 13: 8 seats

Yamina – Average: 7 seats: Channel 11: 7 seats; Channel 12: 7 seats; Channel 13: 6 seats

Labor – Average – 6 seats; Channel 11 – 6 seats; Channel 12: 6 seats; Channel 13 – 6 seats

Democratic Union – Average: 5 seats; Channel 11: 5 seats; Channel 12: 5 seats; Channel 13: 6 seats

Otzma Yehudit – Average: 0 seats; Channel 11: 0 seats, Channel 12: 0 seats; Channel 13: 0 seats

So while Kahol Lavan maintains a slight lead in taking the most seats, the issue now will be how the actual vote tabulation turns out and who will be able to form a viable coalition. Using the averages, right now Gantz can potentially put together a 57 seat coalition if he can get the Joint List, Labor, and the Democratic Union to support him. Bibi can potentially put together a 55 seat coalition by partnering with Shas, UTJ, and Yamina. This leaves Yisrael Beitenu, and more specifically, Avigdor Liberman as the king maker. The Joint List, which is a combination of Israeli Arab and left of center pro-peace Israeli Jewish parties, also has tremendous leverage. In April they made it clear they would not enter into a coalition government. Hopefully, they recognize that they have leverage right now and should use it in negotiating with Gantz. Regardless, neither Bibi nor Gantz can meet the 61 seat threshold until/unless Liberman makes his play.

In his speech tonight Bibi stated he’d form a Zionist, anti-terror coalition to form the next government. According to reporting Gantz has also begun working the phones. Tomorrow will tell us whether Bibi can once again eke out victory from defeat either by pulling enough seats from Yisrael Beitunu despite Liberman’s seeming opposition to him or by repeating what he did in April when neither he nor Gantz were able to assemble a 61 seat governing coalition. Vacating the election and calling for a third try is his back up play. It allows him to stay in place as the prime minister over a caretaker government for five or six more months and both maneuver to increase his chances and bide his time looking for an opportunity to solidify his position. Remember, Gantz would like to be prime minister. For Bibi, however, it is existential. He either stays on as prime minister or he faces prosecution and potentially prison.

Updates at 11:15 PM EDT

The Times of Israel is reporting in its live blog of the election and vote counting that:

Channel 12: Unofficial tally of 85% of votes shows Knesset deadlocked

Channel 12 is reporting results it says it has received from inside sources in the Central Elections Committee, which the news channel claims reflect around 85% of the national vote.

According to those unofficial results, Likud and Blue and White are tied at 32 seats; next is the Joint List with 12 seats; Shas and Yisrael Beytenu have 9 seats each; United Torah Judaism has 8; Yamina has 7; Labor-Gesher is at 6; and the Democratic Camp has 5.

The right-wing bloc has a total of 56 seats, the center-left has 55 and Liberman has 9.

Channel 12 explains its data on the fact that a large majority of votes have already been counted, but due to increased scrutiny, the CEC is doing recounts in order to ensure the information it puts out is accurate.

Also, Noga Tarnopolsky’s and Barak Ravid’s reporting from Bibi’s speech at the Likud election party is disturbing:

My take on this is that if Bibi does come up short, he will try to make the claim that a Kahol Lavan coalition that includes the Joint Lists’ Arab parties and Israeli Arab members is somehow illegitimate. And then try to leverage that to remain in power. That’s right in his wheel house.

Open thread.