Newsworthy Items That Have Slipped Through the Cracks: We’re Doomed

I don’t mean to panic anyone, but the US breached the debt ceiling on March 16th and the current extension on the Fiscal Year 2017 continuing budget resolution runs out on April 28th. Given the dysfunction within the majority caucuses in the House and the Senate, the fact that the new Administration’s skinny budget has been declared DOA upon its arrival in Congress, and the fact that NO ONE ANYWHERE – INCLUDING THE WHITE HOUSE, CONGRESS, MOST OF THE NEWS MEDIA, AND APPARENTLY MOST AMERICANS!!!!!!! – seems to be paying any attention or talking about this, perhaps we should be just a wee bit concerned.

Have a nice evening!



The Taoiseach Lays the Smack Down: Enda Kenney’s 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Address

At yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring the Irish PM, Enda Kenny, the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Taoiseach made his feelings known about the President’s, and by extension, the Republican Party’s current policy preferences on immigration. Kenny’s White House remarks received praise almost everywhere, including in Ireland, where there had been significant concern on whether he should cancel out of this year’s event.

The Taoiseach’s speech on immigration has received global recognition for ‘lecturing’ US President Trump on immigration.

The Taoiseach used the St Patrick’s day visit to speak about the contribution of the Irish community in the United States, leading to the New York Times calling it a “lecture” for the US President on immigration.

Speaking at a party in East Room of the White House, he thanked Mr Trump for “giving so much of his time” to help celebrate St Patrick’s legacy as “the patron of immigrants”.

He appealed to the President to take a more favourable view of immigrants – but made no mention of Mr Trump’s controversial travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries.

At the 6:30 mark of the video below you can watch and listen to the Taoiseach’s full remarks following the President’s remarks.

The much excerpted point of Kenney’s remarks are these one minute and fifty-two seconds:



Set Your DVRs: News Is Supposedly Going To Be Broken

May want to pop some popcorn too!

And we leave the last word to the drunk at the end of the bar er, um, noted, local crazy person er, um, official mouthpiece for state propaganda outlet er, um pundit and talk show host:

Open thread!



Today In Domestic Terrorism and Stochastic Violence: Insufficient Responses

For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.President Washington’s Letter to the Jewish Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island

In yesterday’s post on this subject I referenced that 98 US Senators had signed onto a letter decrying anti-Semitism.

Today all 100 Senators have now signed on.

Yesterday White House Spokesman Sean Spicer made the following statement at his press conference:

“I want to acknowledge that there’s been an additional wave of threats to Jewish community centers and Anti-Defamation League offices,” Spicer told reporters at a press briefing on Tuesday.

“I share the president’s thoughts that he vehemently hopes that we don’t continue to have to share these reports with you. But as long as they do continue, we’ll continue to condemn them and look at ways in which we can stop them,” he said.

Today the Jewish Community Center Association of North America called on Attorney General Sessions to:

“We are frustrated with the progress in resolving this situation,” the letter reads in part. “We insist that all relevant federal agencies, including your own, apply all the resources available to identify and bring the perpetrator or perpetrators, who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in communities across the country, to justice.”

“JCCs have demonstrated incredible resilience over the past several weeks, relying on long-practiced measures to ensure that we can safely and effectively serve communities across the continent. We will not allow anti-Semitism to get in the way of our providing our invaluable programs, and we urge Attorney General Sessions to be an even stronger partner to us.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

While the letter signed by all 100 Senators, Democratic and Republican, and the White House statement are appropriate, they are, frankly, insufficient. They are insufficient because this is not just an issue of harassment and violence directed at Jewish Americans. There has been an increase in attacks against religious and ethnic minorities, as well as LGBTQ Americans of all religions and ethnicities since the election. Churches with predominantly Hispanic and LatinX or immigrant congregants are being targeted. As we’ve documented here several times, Indian Americans – whether Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian – are being targeted. LGBTQ Americans are being targeted.

A man shouting antigay slurs attacked two men at a restaurant in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of New York City in the early morning hours on Sunday, leaving one man stabbed and the other with a slashed face.

Gothamist said that police are looking for the suspect, whose face was briefly caught on surveillance video before he attacked the other men and fled.

The New York City Police Department said that the unidentified suspect entered Crown Fried Chicken at about 5 a.m. on Sunday and attacked a 34-year-old man with “a cutting instrument” while shouting antigay slurs.

After slashing the man’s face, the suspect stabbed a second man in the torso and slashed his shoulder, still hurling insults and homophobic invective.

Here’s the surveillance video (does not include violence) of the alleged perpetrator (h/t RawStory)

The response is also insufficient because the only significant change over the past several months is the election and inauguration of the President. There hasn’t been a spike in unemployment. The stock market hasn’t crashed. There hasn’t been a major national disaster with effects that could possibly be correlated with these incidents. There hasn’t been a foreign inspired/orchestrated attack on Americans within the US. The US and its coalition partners are winning the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Every possible indicator we would even conceivably consider as an explanatory variable to explain the increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and to be very precise in the terminology, domestic terrorism* is the election and the inauguration.

Now I want to be very, very, very, very clear: I am not accusing the President of being an anti-Semite. Or a racist. Or anti-Muslim. Or a bigot of any kind. And that’s why the letter signed by all 100 Senators and Sean Spicer’s statements are insufficient. It is insufficient because it doesn’t matter at all whether the President or anyone who works for him and with him are any of these things. The leadership and much of the membership of the various Klan, neo-NAZI, white supremacist, white nationalist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim (Islamophobic), anti-immigrant (legal and/or undocumented) groups and organizations have all come out in support of the President and his agenda. Many of them, both leaders and members, have stated that the President’s message speaks directly to them. That he has been the biggest boon to their recruiting and activities in decades. That what he says and what he is proposing doing/is doing is what they both think needs to be done and what they want to see done in the US.

It is this sad, unfortunate reality that makes the official Senatorial and Administration responses insufficient. A sufficient response would include the President giving a prime time address denouncing all of the increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and low level domestic terrorism* directed at American religious and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ Americans, immigrants, and visitors to America in no uncertain terms. Additionally he should make it clear in such an address that these types of activities are un-American and are intolerable to Americans of good conscience regardless of political party affiliation, ideology, religion, and ethnicity. Finally, he should create a Federal Law Enforcement Task Force to investigate and prosecute the sharp increase in hate crimes, stochastic violence, and low level domestic terrorism since his election and inauguration. This would be sufficient. Every other response is simply fluff.

* Domestic terrorism is defined in 18 U.S. Code § 2331. The relevant part has been emphasized.

(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
(Added Pub. L. 102–572, title X, § 1003(a)(3), Oct. 29, 1992, 106 Stat. 4521; amended Pub. L. 107–56, title VIII, § 802(a), Oct. 26, 2001, 115 Stat. 376.)

 

 



No expectations

This.

And this.



Doctor, doctor give me the news

Fake analysis!

Republican replacement plans for Obamacare would lead to significant declines in the number of Americans with health insurance coverage, according to an analysis presented Saturday at the National Governors Association and obtained by Vox.

The analysis was conducted by the health research firm Avalere Health and the consulting firm McKinsey and Company.



This is How You See the World. This is How We See It!

To Steal the Sky is the late 80s HBO docudrama about Israel’s Operation Diamond that resulted in the theft of an Iraqi MiG 21 by Iraqi fighter pilot Munir Redfa. At the 52 minute mark, Ben Cross playing Redfa, stands up to leave the room where he’s meeting with Israeli intelligence officers and walks past a map on the wall next to the door with magnetic backed fighter jet miniatures in Jordan, Syria, and Iraq facing towards Israel. He stops, moves the jets into Israel, points them out towards Jordan, Syria, and Iraq, and states: “This is how you see the world. This is how we we see it!”

The discussion report from the just concluded Munich Security Conference is a report entitled Munich Security Report 2017: Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order? The report is intended to set the terms for discussion at the conference (h/t: Robin Wright via Digby). Interestingly Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s remarks at this year’s Munich Security Conference provocatively mirrored the reports title:

Russia’s foreign minister has called for a “post-West world order” while addressing global leaders at an international security conference.

Sergey Lavrov accused Nato of being a Cold War institution and accused its “expansion” of sparking unprecedented tensions in Europe as both sides expand military deployments and drills.

He said he hoped “responsible leaders” will choose to create a “just world order – if you want you can call it a post-West world order”.

The foreword to the discussion report, written by German Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, the conference chair, states:

The international security environment is arguably more volatile today than at any point since World War II. Some of the most fundamental pillars of the West and of the liberal international order are weakening. Adversaries of open societies are on the offensive. Liberal democracies have proven to be vulnerable to disinformation campaigns in post-truth international politics. Citizens of democracies believe less and less that their systems are able to deliver positive outcomes for them and increasingly favor national solutions and closed borders over globalism and openness. Illiberal regimes, on the other hand, seem to be on solid footing and act with assertiveness, while the willingness and ability of Western democracies to shape international affairs and to defend the rules-based liberal order are declining. The United States might move from being a provider of public goods and international security to pursuing a more unilateralist, maybe even nationalistic foreign policy. We may, then, be on the brink of a post-Western age, one in which non-Western actors are shaping international affairs, often in parallel or even to the detriment of precisely those multilateral frameworks that have formed the bedrock of the liberal international order since 1945. Are we entering a post-order world? How this question will be answered in the years to come will depend on all of us.

Ambassador Ischinger provides additional context in the video trailer for the conference:

I want to reemphasize this sentence from Ambassador Ischinger’s foreword:

The United States might move from being a provider of public goods and international security to pursuing a more unilateralist, maybe even nationalistic foreign policy. We may, then, be on the brink of a post-Western age, one in which non-Western actors are shaping international affairs, often in parallel or even to the detriment of precisely those multilateral frameworks that have formed the bedrock of the liberal international order since 1945.

The United states has long viewed itself as one of, if not the primary architect of the post WW II international order and global system, as well as its defender. While many Americans, including American leaders, still do as evidenced by both the Vice President’s and Defense Secretary Mattis’s statements at the conference in regards to the importance of NATO and American intention to honor our commitments, we have reached the point where how we see ourselves and our intentions, warts and all, is increasingly at odds with how our allies and partners see the US and its intentions. We’ve reached the point where Cross’s statement, in his portrayal of Captain Redfa, rings more and more true: “This is How You See the World. This is How We See It!”