Frankly, we should be discomfited that many Americans have absorbed the idea that Hillary Clinton is less honest than Donald Trump, giving Trump an edge in polls of trustworthiness.
Hello? There is no comparison.
And then he proceeded to compare the two:
One commonly cited example of Clinton’s lying is her false claim in 2008 that when she was first lady she came under sniper fire after her plane landed in Bosnia. In contrast, with Trump, you don’t need to go back eight years: One examination found he averages a lie or an inaccuracy in every five minutes of speaking.
Why does this matter? Because this construction creates a rhetorical equality. It doesn't matter who is the more egregious liar. What people take away is the comparison, not the details. Add together the fact that Trump is getting literally double the headline and photo coverage of Clinton with the fact that despite what he says, Kristof behaves as if they actually are comparable (like nearly everyone else in the media) and you've got a recipe that all but guarantees a dangerously close election.
Just this. I know everyone wants to vote for someone for whom they feel great affinity. I hope that happens for everyone at least once in their life. It's kind of a rare thing. But when someone like Trump comes along it's important to take a stand against what he stands for. This guy says it well:
He forgot to note that Obama lost white millennials by 7 in 2012. But hey, who needs perspective, amirite?
This raises an issue I think people need to be a little bit more aware of. When we talk about millennials becoming less racist, which is true, it's important to be aware of the fact that it's mostly because they're becoming less white.
Men aged 16-29 are more likely to hold traditional attitudes towards gender roles than older men, a new study has found.
35 per cent of young men were shown to believe that the man should assume the role of primary earner whilst the woman should remain home – shouldering the responsibilities of childcare, cooking and cleaning.
In comparison, only 26% of men aged 30-44, and 21% of men aged 45 and over, shared these views.
Millennials, those Americans now between 16 and 36 years old, are often spoken of as if they’re ushering in a new era of enlightened interpersonal relations. For example, in 2013 Time predicted Millennials would “save us all” because they are “more accepting of differences…in everyone.” That same year, The Atlantic stated that Millennials hold the “historically unprecedented belief that there are no inherently male or female roles in society.” And in 2015 the Huffington Post wrote that Millennial men are “likely to see women as equals.”
If these characterizations are even close to accurate, we should expect the pervasive, damaging biases against women leaders to diminish substantially, if not end entirely, once Millennials assume positions of economic, academic, and political power. But before we start celebrating a coming age of gender parity, we need to ask whether there is any truth to these characterizations. Do Millennials really believe there are no inherently male or female roles in society? Do Millennial men really “see women as equals”? Unfortunately, the best information we have indicates the answer to both questions is no.
In February 2016 researchers at the National Institutes of Health published a study on how college biology students view their classmates’ intelligence and achievements. The researchers found that male students systematically overestimated the knowledge of the men in their classes in comparison with the women. Moreover, as the academic term progressed, the men’s faulty appraisal of their classmates’ abilities increased despite clear evidence of the women’s superior class performance. In every biology class examined, a man was considered the most renowned student — even when a woman had far better grades. In contrast, the female students surveyed did not show bias, accurately evaluating their fellow students based on performance. After studying the attitudes of these future scientists, the researchers concluded, “The chilly environment for women [in the sciences] may not be going away anytime soon.”
Millennial men’s views of women’s intelligence and ability even extend to women in senior leadership positions. In a 2014 survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, Harris Poll found that young men were less open to accepting women leaders than older men were. Only 41% of Millennial men were comfortable with women engineers, compared to 65% of men 65 or older. Likewise, only 43% of Millennial men were comfortable with women being U.S. senators, compared to 64% of Americans overall. (The numbers were 39% versus 61% for women being CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and 35% versus 57% for president of the United States.)
Moreover, according to a 2013 Pew survey of Americans, Millennial women are significantly more likely than older women to say that the country needs to continue making changes to bring about equality in the workplace, but Millennial men are the group most likely to say that all necessary changes have been made.
A glimmer of hope was found in the huge survey of Harvard Business School MBAs in a 2014 HBR article, which found that Millennial men were more likely than Gen X and Boomer men to predict that their wives would have equal careers, and less likely to do the majority of the child care. But that hope vanished when the researchers found the gap between what Millennial men and Millennial women believed was still wide: “Whereas three-quarters of Millennial women anticipate that their careers will be at least as important as their partners,” they reported, “half the men in their generation expect that their own careers will take priority.” The gap was similar when it came to child care responsibilities. Fewer than half of Millennial women believed they would handle most of the child care, but two-thirds of their male peers believed their wives would do so.
I'm not picking on millennials. My generation was way worse. My parents generation was way way worse.. Things are getting better. But these issues still exist and pretending otherwise is as old as the hills. When I was young men said they believed in equality too.
All this stuff runs deep and it's important that all of us do a gut check once in a while. I know I have to, anyway.
(By the way, it was 3 emails in an email chain that she may not have seen. All the others were classified after the fact for ridiculous reasons. Just saying. The "lie" is pretty venial. But anyway ...)
Politics and Reality Radio: Roy Edroso on the Right-bloggers’ Election by digby
This week, we'll speak to OG blogger and Village Voice right-wingologist Roy Edroso about the 2016 election as seen through the prism of the conservative blogosphere. Then Heather "Digby" Parton will join us to preview Monday's first presidential debate. And last but not least, David Turnbull, campaign director for Oil Change International, will tell us about his group's new study showing that fully exploiting the fossil fuel projects that are already online will force global temperatures above the target agreed to in Paris last year. Playlist: PowerSolo: "Knucklehead" Edith Piaf: "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" Bill Withers: "Ain't No Sunshine" Talking Heads: "My Love Is You" As always, you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes or Podbean.
I'm late weighing in on this election—late in more ways than one. Monday brought my ninety-sixth birthday, and, come November, I will be casting my nineteenth ballot in a Presidential election. My first came in 1944, when I voted for a fourth term for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, my Commander-in-Chief, with a mail-in ballot from the Central Pacific, where I was a sergeant in the Army Air Force. It was a thrilling moment for me, but not as significant as my vote on November 8th this year, the most important one of my lifetime. My country faces a danger unmatched in our history since the Cuban missile crisis, in 1962, or perhaps since 1943, when the Axis powers held most of Continental Europe, and Imperial Japan controlled the Pacific rim, from the Aleutians to the Solomon Islands, with the outcome of that war still unknown.
The first debate impends, and the odds that Donald Trump may be elected President appear to be narrowing. I will cast my own vote for Hillary Clinton with alacrity and confidence. From the beginning, her life has been devoted to public service and to improving the lives of children and the disadvantaged. She is intelligent, strong, profoundly informed, and extraordinarily experienced in the challenges and risks of our lurching, restlessly altering world and wholly committed to the global commonality. Her well-established connections to minorities may bring some better understanding of our urban and suburban police crisis. I have wished at times that she would be less impatient or distant when questions arrive about her past actions and mistakes, but I see no evidence to support the deep-rooted suspicions that often surround her. I don’t much like the high-level moneyed introductions and contacts surrounding the Clinton Foundation, but cannot find the slightest evidence that any of this has led to something much worse—that she or anyone has illegally profited or that any legislation tilted because of it. Nothing connects or makes sense; it beats me. Ms. Clinton will make a strong and resolute President—at last, a female leader of our own—and, in the end, perhaps a unifying one.
The Trump campaign has been like no other—a tumultuous and near-irresistible reality TV, in which Mr. Trump plays the pouty, despicable, but riveting central character. “I can’t stand him,” people are saying, “but you know, wow, he never stops.”
We know Mr. Trump’s early transgressions by heart: the female reporter who had “blood coming out of her whatever”; the mocking of a physically impaired reporter; the maligning of a judge because of his Mexican parents; the insulting dismissal of the grieving, Gold Star-parent Khans; the promised mass deportation of eleven million—or two million—undocumented immigrants, and more. Each of these remains a disqualifier for a candidate who will represent every one of us, should he win, but we now are almost willing to turn them into colorful little impairments. “Oh, that’s ol’ Donald—that’s the way he is.”
But I stick at a different moment—the lighthearted comment he made when, in early August, an admiring veteran presented him with a replica of his Purple Heart and Mr. Trump said, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” What? Mr. Trump is saying he wishes that he had joined the armed forces somehow (he had a chance but skimmed out, like so many others of his time) and then had died or been scarred or maimed in combat? This is the dream of a nine-year-old boy, and it impugns the five hundred thousand young Americans who have died in combat in my lifetime, and the many hundreds of thousands more whose lives were altered or shattered by their wounds of war.
Reservations like this are predictable coming from someone my age, but I will persist, hoping to catch the attention of a few much younger voters, and of those who have not yet made up their minds about this election. I do so by inviting them to share an everyday experience—the middle-of-the-night or caught-in-traffic moment when we find our hovering second thoughts still at hand and waiting: Why did I ever?… What if?… Now I can see… and come to that pause, the unwelcome reconsideration that quiets us and makes us mature. It’s the same thought that Judge Learned Hand wanted posted in every school and church and courthouse in the land: “I beseech ye … think that we may be mistaken.”
Mr. Trump is endlessly on record as someone who will not back down, who cannot appear to pause or lose. He is a man who must win, stay on the attack, and who thinks, first and last, “How will I look?” This is central, and what comes after it, for me, at times, is concern for what it must be like for anyone who, facing an imperative as dark and unforgiving as this, finds only the narcissist’s mirror for reassurance.
If Donald Trump wins this election, his nights in the White House will very soon resemble those of President Obama. After he bids an early goodnight to his family, he sits alone while he receives and tries to take in floods of information from almost innumerable national and international sources, much of it classified or top secret. His surroundings are stately, but the room is shadowed and silent. There are bits of promising news here and there, but always more bloodshed, sudden alarms, and unexpected lurking dangers. The import of the news is often veiled or contradictory, or simply impenetrable. The night wears on, and may contain brief hours of sleep. There’s time to tweet. A new day is arriving, and with it the latest rush of bad news—another police shooting out West, another suicide bomber in Yemen, and other urgent briefings from a world already caught up in the morning’s difficult events. He needs to respond, but the beginning of this President’s response is always reliably at hand: How will I look?
The real question is why he looks so much better to to so many Americans. But then we know, don't we? He is their voice.
No one has ever accused Oliver Stone of being subtle. However, once audiences view his highly anticipated film concerning the life and times of George W. Bush, I think the popular perception about the director, which is that he is a rabid conspiracy theorist who rewrites history via Grand Guignol-fueled cinematic polemics, could begin to diminish.
If the Bush administration had never really happened, and this was a completely fictional creation, I would be describing Stone’s film by throwing out one-sheet ready superlatives […] But you see, when it comes to the life and legacy of one George W. Bush and the Strangelovian nightmare that he and his cohorts have plunged this once great nation into for the last eight years, all you have to do is tell the truth…and pass the popcorn.
Such is the conundrum for Snowden, writer-director Oliver Stone’s new biopic about Edgar Snowden, the former National Security Agency subcontractor who ignited an international political firestorm (and became a wanted fugitive) when he leaked top secret information to The Guardian back in 2013 regarding certain NSA surveillance practices.
The “tough act of follow” is Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning 2014 documentary, Citizenfour. In 2013, Snowden invited Poitras, along with Guardian journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, for a meet at the Hong Kong hotel he was holed up in. This was the culmination of months of email exchanges between Snowden (sending encrypted text under the pseudonym of “Citizenfour”) and Poitras. Poitras found herself in the unique position of being a (circumstantial) “co-conspirator” in the story she was filming. The result was a gripping documentary that played like a paranoia-fueled thriller.
Now we have Oliver Stone, a filmmaker often accused by detractors of infusing his own politically charged, paranoia-fueled conspiracy theories into historical dramas like JFK and Nixon, diving head first into one of the most polarizing public debates of recent years: is Edgar Snowden a hero…or a traitor? It seems to be a marriage made in heaven. Surely, this should be a perfect impetus for the return of that fearless, rabble-rousing Oliver Stone of old…speaking truth to power through his art, consequences be damned.
This is actually a surprisingly restrained dramatization by Stone, which is not to say it is a weak one. In fact, quite the contrary-this time out, Stone had no need to take a magical trip to the wrong side of the wardrobe. That’s because the Orwellian machinations (casually conducted on a daily basis by our government) that came to light after Snowden lifted up the rock are beyond even the most feverish imaginings of the tin foil hat society.
In other words, you couldn’t make this shit up, either.
After opening with a cloak-and-dagger vignette set in 2013 on the streets of Hong Kong, Stone flashes back to 2004, where we see a younger, gung-ho Edgar Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) humping it through a grueling Special Forces training course. His Army reservist career is cut short after he breaks both legs in an accident. A few years later, still determined to serve his country, he finds a more ideal fit working at the CIA, where his (apparently) sharp computer hacking skills land him a position as an info tech. Stone follows Snowden’s various job relocations, from D.C. to Japan; eventually ending up at the NSA subcontracting firm Booz Allen in Hawaii (where he famously “did the deed”).
Stone alternates between the personal bio, which includes Snowden’s longtime relationship with his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley) and the increasingly furtive interview sessions with Snowden in the Hong Kong hotel room in 2013 by Guardian journalists Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson), while Poitras (Melissa Leo) dutifully continues filming. Gordon-Levitt uncannily captures Snowden’s vibe; although by the time credits roll, he remains a cypher. Then again, Snowden has said, “This really isn’t about me […] It’s about our right to dissent.”
Stylistically, the film felt to me like a throwback to cerebral cold war thrillers from the 1960s like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The Defector, Funeral in Berlin, and The Deadly Affair. This may not be by accident; because one of the core themes of the screenplay (adapted by Stone with Kieran Fitzgerald from Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, and Anatoly Kucherena’s Time of the Octopus) is that we are, in fact, in the midst of a new “cold war”…in cyberspace.
As Snowden’s (fictional) mentor “Corbin O’Brien” (one of the more interesting creations in the film, especially as played by a scene-stealing Rhys Ifans) tells him, “The new battlefield is everywhere.” True that. It’s happening every day, all around us. It used to be a novelty, but it seems like my bank is issuing me a new credit card about every 6 months anymore, due to some nebulous “security breach”. Or how about the “DC Leaks” story…hacktivists with alleged Russian ties breaking into White House accounts at will?
But the question becomes, of course, how much of our privacy should we, as tax-paying citizens, be willing to sacrifice in the name of national security? As Greg Lake once sang:
Knowledge is a deadly friend If no one sets the rules The fate of all mankind, I see Is in the hands of fools
Luckily, we have filmmakers like Stone and Poitras, journalists like Greenwald and MacAskill, and whistleblowers like Edgar Snowden, who do not suffer such fools gladly. Big Brother is watching us, but now we feel emboldened to ask: What are you lookin’ at?
Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley may have lost the Democratic primary this year, but he may have won the Internet. When James Fallows asked him how he might prepare to debate Donald Trump if he had won the nomination, he said, “I’d start by thinking of him as a monkey with a machine gun.” Meaning you don't know where he'll be pointing it when it goes off. That is why tomorrow's debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be the most-watched presidential debate in history.
Fallows looks at tomorrow's debate for the Atlantic and, referencing the famous 160 debate between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy, noted that those who merely heard the debate on the radio called it a tie, but those who saw it on television felt the poised, handsome Kennedy had won. Thus, as the saying goes, "the most accurate way to predict reaction to a debate is to watch it with the sound turned off."
That is why Trump's focus on his primary opponents' high or low energy is significant. Trump is a showman and does best when he can put on a show. Whether what he says is factual or whether he breaks rules is unimportant to the spectacle, or to his fans. Judd Legum observed at Think Progress how Trump's experience in professional wrestling informs how he approaches his "performances." Legum references the late French philosopher Roland Barthe's take on wrestling and passion:
It is obvious that at such a pitch, it no longer matters whether the passion is genuine or not. What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself. There is no more a problem of truth in wrestling than in the theater.
This analogy reveals why the attacks on Trump are so ineffective. Recently, Rand Paul and others have taken to calling out Trump as an “entertainer,” rather than a legitimate candidate. This is as effective to running into the middle of the ring during Wrestlemania and yelling: “This is all fake!” You are correct, but you will not be received well.
In the current campaign, Trump is behaving like a professional wrestler while Trump’s opponents are conducting the race like a boxing match. As the rest of the field measures up their next jab, Trump decks them over the head with a metal chair.
Others in the Republican field are concerned with the rules and constructing a strategy that, under those rules, will lead to the nomination. But Trump isn’t concerned with those things. Instead, Trump is focused on each moment and eliciting the maximum amount of passion in that moment. His supporters love it.
Fallows considers the kind of spectacle we might see tomorrow night. He writes:
These debates would be must-watch TV because they would be the most extreme contrast of personal, intellectual, and political styles in America’s democratic history. Right brain versus left brain; gut versus any portion of the brain at all; impulse versus calculation; id versus superego; and of course man versus woman. The two parties’ conventions this summer were stark contrasts in tone, stagecraft, and lineup of speakers. But they took place in different cities at different times. The first debate will be a matter-meets-antimatter conjunction at a single point. Live sports, from the Olympics to the Kentucky Derby, differ from other TV programming and compel live viewership because no one knows beforehand how things will turn out. The same is true of live presidential debates, above all any including Donald Trump.
Fallows' review of this season's GOP debate lowlights and what features to watch for tomorrow is better debate prep for the reader than Donald Trump will give himself. Simplicity. Ignorance. Dominance (humiliation). Gender. Trump's limited range works for him. And makes it easy breezy for him to lie convincingly.
How might this go down tomorrow night and how might Clinton play it?
Donald Trump will almost certainly insult her directly, about her own crookedness and about the sins of her husband. This was the heart of his strategy during the primary debates—“I call him ‘Little Marco’ ”; “More energy tonight. I like that” to Bush—and is his instinct. She will answer those quickly and firmly—“My husband and I have been through a lot, as the world well knows. But after 41 years, we are still together”—and then move back to whatever policy point she wants to make. One way to describe this strategy is Martin O’Malley’s. “She has to be direct and tough right back to him, but then quickly pivot to what matters for the country,” he said. “It’s not enough just to disqualify this guy, since he’s survived remarks that in other times have been automatically disqualifying. She also needs to say what the election is about.”
Another way to describe this strategy is to use a phrase from Michelle Obama’s convention speech: When they go low, we go high.
With Trump, there's no way to go but down. The task for Clinton will be to not let Trump drag her down to his level.
Monday's Debate Is Not An Episode Of 'America's Got Presidential Talent by Spocko
My friend Joel Silberman was on MSNBC talking about what to expect at the debates. He talked about how important it is for the media to not lower the bar for Trump.
This isn't Dancing With the Stars, or The Voice or America's Got Presidential Talent. We're talking about the leader of the free world so let's ask some real questions and hold them accountable.
Monday's debate should be a place where both candidates get asked serious questions and are expected to give serious answers. The performance should be judged by how well each answers those questions. But that is so BORING! The mainstream media knows that, so they do everything they can to make the debates more dramatic and exciting. "Live questions from social media! Live audiences to cheer and boo! Gotcha questions!"
Trump won his debates partly because he's been running for Entertainer in Chief and has delivered. (The last funny Republican was Bob Dole, so the media knows Trump is a rare bird.)
The media played along with Trump as Entertainer in Chief because it's more fun. Serious policy answers are boring and don't get ratings.
Trump knows he isn't going to win a debate based on having good policy answers, he'll win because he has the best zingers and "In your face, liberals!" one-liner positions on everything. People remember, "Well, there you go again." from Reagan, which makes sense because as an actor he knew how to deliver a well-timed line. This is Debate Theater not a debate.
My question for Monday is, "Will Trump pay any price for not having deeper answers to serious questions?"
Some people in his camp might think he needs to show knowledge about the issues, they will be ignored. That stuff is for liberal nerds and policy wonks who read blogs and know the names of Supreme Court Justices. His voters just want to hear zingers and see swagger.
Roger Ailes, the un-incarcerated serial sexual harasser, is advising Trump. He's not going to tell him to bone up on Aleppo. He'll advise him on how to say the things his Fox audience loves. He'll remind him, "You don't need to satisfy Holt and the liberal media, they are already in the tank for Hillary. You need to satisfy your base. Show them you are the alpha and are in control."
I see where Trump has already suggested inviting Gennifer Flowers to the debate, So now I expect Holt to bring up the Lewinsky affair. Holt might use the "some people say..." formula because "it's out there" and will define it as a "character" issue. If he doesn't, Trump might bring it up via the Clinton Foundation then wondering, "What role will Bill play if elected? Then ending with a, "Well, if you can't control your husband... how are you going to be able to control anything?" comment.
This is classic right wing projection attack model. Trump's the one with problems with his foundation and with relinquishing control of his business, but she will be the one having to defend her's.
In general the idea is to position Hillary as the Cuckolded President. If questioned about what he means with his "If you can't control your husband" comment he will say, "I was talking about control of the Clinton FOUNDATION, not about what your husband did while in the White House!"
If Trump brings up the Lewinsky affair, and I think he will, he will do it by defending and forgiving her. He will acknowledge he's no saint, people have a right to privacy, etc. BUT, his point will be made. This interaction will be seen as a "character" debate about her. Not about the thrice married man who cheated on his wife.
It will be a big "OMG, HE WENT THERE!"moment. How she responds will be all the media will want to talk about, as well as the audacity of Trump bringing it up.
(I've watched a bunch of clips of Trump on The Apprentice. He knew how to control the moment. Now some of that is editing, but his confidence in the setting is what comes across. Even if his reasoning, when you look at it later, is clearly capricious and loopy, he still "wins the interaction" especially if there is no one there to follow up and question him. )
Karl Rove and Karen Hughes believed, and showed time after time with Bush, that "It's better to look and sound strong than to actually BE strong." When they didn't want to talk about a plan, they classified it. When it didn't work, they changed what the goals were. Details are for underlings. It's about the look and the attitude. You want policies and positions? Sure, if they can fit on a tweet. That, Trump can do.
Which Media will show up?
When Tamron Hall asked what to expect from Trump, Joel responded. "That's the wild card, isn't it? Which Donald shows up?" That will depend on which Media shows up. Will it be the media that don't feel it's their job to point out lies and errors, as Chris Wallace of Fox News said? Or will it be the media that understands the winners' policies will mean life or death to millions? And when the Media gets their answers will they accept them without follow up or demand more?
In the distant past, the metric for success by the journalist moderator were good questions that let people see the knowledge, competence and character of the candidates so voters can decide. I think the last time we saw that was when the League of Women Voters were in charge. If we have a moderator who sees the job like that, then Hillary will nail the debate with knowledge and competence.
If that is how Holt approaches the debate, Trump will try to move to be light and funny. He'll kick the policy details down the road. If Holt then doesn't ask for more detail or accepts vagaries, Trump wins because Holt has let Trump set the rules.
Hillary understands Debate Theater, she knows how to play the zinger game. Zingers actually can be very powerful. I hope someone is writing some new ones for her. She's come up with a few good ones in the past. "A man who can be baited by a tweet" and "Delete your account."
Here's the deal, we need the media that shows up to hold each candidate to the same, "Millions of lives are in the balance" standard. Because that is the reality. If they don't, and let him control the moment and the depth of the debate, Trump will have a real shot at winning the debate, and perhaps the election--and that's not entertaining at all.
This video of a petrified 15 year old girl being pepper sprayed in the back of a police car has been making the rounds. It's a complicated story. The girl hit a car with her bicycle. The cops showed and tried to talk to her, she got scared and tried to ride away and when they stopped and detained her she got hysterical and non-compliant. The cops handcuffed her and put her to the ground, finally decided to take her to the station and wrestled her in the back of their cruiser. She was screaming and crying and as they were trying to close the door on the car as she writhed in the back, one of the officers who had arrived late to the scene put his hand through the window and said if she didn't "get in the car" she was going to get sprayed. And then he sprayed her with pepper spray right in the face. While she was handcuffed and could not wipe her eyes.
They had her in the car. She was not a danger to anyone. She was emotionally overwrought and needed to be calmed and soothed not further agitated. Indeed, she might have even been injured for all they knew.
Pepper spraying her was a punitive act of torture.
And the police department says it was all good police work.
This episode reminds me of this post from long ago which continues to haunt me whenever I see pepper spray being used up-close by police:
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Yes of course pepper spray is a torture device
The hideous pepper spraying of college students at UC Davis yesterday reminds me of a similar case in the 90s, which I've written about several times before.
In 1997, environmentalists were staging a sit-in against the cutting of old forest in Humboldt county. The police sprayed pepper spray directly into the protesters eyes in similar fashion to what happened in UC yesterday and then used liquified pepper spray and applied it directly to the protesters eyes with q-tips. I'm not kidding. There's video:
I was writing about the use of tasers when I wrote this piece back in 2009:
Why is it that the taser videos always show a bunch of cops sauntering around, three or four of them bent over a prone person in handcuffs, blithely administering the taser as if they are merely wiping a speck of dust off the suspects shirt? I think that's the part I find so chilling --- it's so methodical, so cold, so completely inhuman --- that it seems like something out of a dystopian sci-fi novel featuring robots or aliens.
I'll never forget the horror of seeing the video of those environmental protesters having their eyes calmly swabbed with Q tips soaked in liquid pepper spray, by the Humboldt County sheriffs dept. In searching for the video I came across this San Francisco Examiner editorial from 1997, that could be written today about tasers:
Law enforcement arguments in a federal lawsuit are malarkey - pepper spray used senselessly hurts cops as much as protesters
San Francisco Examiner
Monday, Nov. 17, 1997 Page A 18
It's almost farcical for law enforcement officials to continue defending pepper spray as a weapon to get protesters to follow orders. A videotape of officers applying pepper spray in liquid form to demonstrators' eyes shows the technique to be a form of torture.
Yet, attorneys for the Humboldt County Sheriff and the Eureka Police Department argue in federal court that this use of pepper spray is legitimate and unobjectionable. In court papers filed in a protesters' suit against the cops, police training expert Joseph J. Callahan Jr. says, implausibly, that the videotape could be used as a training film "illustrating modern police practices delivered in a calm, deliberate manner." (Remind us not to volunteer as guinea pigs for Mr. Callahan.)
The videotape was shot by Humboldt sheriff's deputies at an Oct. 16 demonstration, against logging in the Headwaters Forest, that took place in the Eureka office of Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Windsor. Four women who had chained themselves together with heavy metal "black bears" got liquid pepper spray rubbed into their eyes with cotton swabs, and one woman who refused even then to move had the pepper mist sprayed into her face.
This hurts, as the videotaped reactions make clear. But it broke up the demonstration pronto, and that's what counted for the law enforcers.
"At stake," attorneys for the cops argue, "is whether professionally trained police officers are to be deprived of the use of pepper spray, a substance carried by millions of private citizens in this country."
But this is really not the issue. Most people don't object to police using pepper spray the way it's designed to be used: To subdue a suspect who threatens officers or threatens to flee. Neither occurred in the case of the Eureka protesters.
Police shouldn't use pepper spray, or any other weapon, to dish out punishment to suspects. Just because cops are in a hurry doesn't make it OK for them to take shortcuts, or inflict pain to get things done.
The argument doesn't wash that no lasting damage was done by the pepper spray. By the same logic, police could use branding irons, sharp knives or psychological abuse on recalcitrant protesters as long as "no lasting damage was done."
Other police legal arguments are similarly shallow. An attorney for the cops said the use of heavy metal sleeves linked with chains that made protesters virtually immovable amounted to "active resistance," justifying the use of pepper spray.
In the past, police used metal grinders to cut through the heavy metal in order to oust demonstrators. That takes longer and is inconvenient, but it doesn't violate anyone's civil rights or threaten their physical well-being.
No one wants to live in a society where police are free to do whatever they wish in order to punish suspected law breakers. Cruel and unusual punishment is outlawed by the Constitution. And anyway, punishment is up to the courts to determine and the penal system to administer.
What cops risk through indiscriminate use of pepper spray, and its indiscriminate defense in court, is losing it altogether. If police are too dense to distinguish between legitimate use and torture, the Legislature should eliminate any confusion and outlaw pepper spray, period.
That holds true for all weapons that can be used for torture.
It took three tries and eight years, but the protesters finally won their case against the police in federal court. They were awarded a dollar.
An article called "Pepper Spray, Pain and Justice" from the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project in northern California on the use of pepper stray as a torture device gives all the details of this famous case.
It tells the harrowing story that you see in that video up top, including the chilling statement by the police after they were done pepper spraying one of the girls directly in the face: "We're not torturing you anymore."
It asks the question:
Are these valid tactics for the DA's office to use? May the Sheriff and the DA single out forest activists for "special treatment" when they are arrested and charged? The argument for this would be that the protests are costly to the county, and in an effort to contain those costs by reducing the number of protesters, or to prevent nonviolent civil disobedience which is expensive to the government, the government may use its discretionary powers to make the experience these activists have with the criminal justice system as unpleasant and costly as possible. The use of pepper spray to torment activists who are nonviolently sitting-in can be seen as the latest and most extreme step in this campaign.
The difficulty with this approach is that it puts the Sheriff and the DA into the position of the judge. It metes out punishment -- pain, days in jail, costly trips to court, disruption of normal life -- without the bother of proving guilt. Did the Queen in Alice in Wonderland say, "First the sentence, then the trial"? Even children can see that this is backwards.
Here's yet another example of Trump basically saying whatever comes into his head and getting away with it. It's a powerful tool. He can contradict himself, make no sense, be totally uninformed and pathologically mendacious and at least 40% of the country thinks he's terrific because "he tells it like it is" and a fair number of other people think he's more honest than his opponent.
Donald J. Trump on Thursday traveled to Pittsburgh, a city once synonymous with the rich coal seam that runs beneath it and now the capital of natural gas fracking, to promise the impossible: a boom for both coal and gas.
Mr. Trump’s energy promises to those attending a corporate conference contained a fundamentally incompatible concept, as expanding the exploration of natural gas is the surest way to hurt coal production, and vice versa. Since the two fuels compete directly for the same market — the power plants that light American homes — it is effectively impossible to increase production of one without decreasing the other.
But ever the salesman, Mr. Trump gave it a go and promised to restore the region’s old coal economy and pump up its booming new gas economy.
“The shale energy revolution will unleash massive wealth for America,” he told an audience of chief executives from the energy industry. “And we will end the war on coal and the war on miners.”
It is not the first time Mr. Trump has tailored his policies to be all things to all audiences. Last week, he told auditors tallying the cost of his tax plan that he had dropped a $1 trillion tax cut for small businesses while he told the small business lobby he had not. He has promised a foreign policy more focused on American interests than on global entanglements as he promises to widen the war on the Islamic State and take oil from Iraq. His immigration policies have swung wildly depending on his audience.
Energy experts said Mr. Trump’s pledges on gas and coal pandered to his audience while showing a lack of basic knowledge about energy markets.
“There is a fundamental inconsistency between Trump’s promise to ‘bring the coal industry back 100 percent,’ as he says, and any promises to use government policy to grow the market for natural gas,” said Robert N. Stavins, director of the environmental economics program at Harvard.
“The primary cause of the tremendous fall in coal employment is low natural gas prices, due to increased supplies of natural gas from hydraulic fracturing,” Professor Stavins said. “If the Trump administration wanted to help coal, it could ban fracking. But he can’t have it both ways.”
As recently as a couple of years ago, when Max Geishüttner was in his second year of law school in the Austrian city of Linz, he tended to avoid talking about his support for the country’s Freedom Party. It wasn’t exactly taboo, but a lot of Austrians still associated the party with racism, even neo-Nazism. Its first two leaders, from 1956 to 1978, were former SS officers, and their successors in the years that followed were implicated in a series of scandals over anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. In the homeland of Adolf Hitler, who also went to school in Linz, such a reputation seemed an impossible obstacle to popular acceptance in a Europe that was supposed to have left such prejudices behind.
“So you would feel, like, a bad conscience if you say, ‘I vote for the FPO,'” Geishüttner told me at one of the party’s campaign rallies in mid-September, using the Freedom Party’s German abbreviation. But 2016 is different. Thanks to a broader shift to the right in European politics, the FPO has become the most popular party in Austria, with its support growing fastest among voters younger than 30. Its presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, is well positioned to win a runoff election in December, which would make Austria the first country in Western Europe to elect a far-right head of state since the fall of Nazi Germany. “Now it’s normal,” said Geishüttner.
The Freedom Party’s rise is not an anomaly. Across the once placid political landscape of Western Europe, right-wing upstarts have created what Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, recently termed “galloping populism.” He was referring to movements like the Sweden Democrats, the National Front in France, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and other voices on the far right calling for their once open countries to close up and turn inward. But the insurgency is not limited to Europe. All the rising rightist parties are aligned with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in what they encourage voters to fear: migrants taking your jobs, Muslims threatening your culture and security, political correctness threatening your ability to speak your mind and, above all, entrenched elites selling you out in the service of the wealthy and well-connected.
In the case of Austria, the man responsible for harnessing this formula is Heinz-Christian Strache, a fast-talking, telegenic former dental technician who took over as FPO chairman in 2005. Back then, the party’s approval ratings were in the single digits, weighed down by claims of anti-Semitism that had dogged its upper ranks for years. But Strache changed the party’s image. Support for the state of Israel became part of its platform, and its new leaders renounced the aversion that their predecessors had expressed toward Jews. Instead, Strache focused his party’s hostility on a different minority group: Muslims.
“Political Islam,” he told TIME in an interview in his office in Vienna, “is the fascism of today, and that is what we have to fight.” Such claims would have once been met with outrage in Europe, but no longer. Amid the political backlash to the refugee crisis in the summer of 2015, when more than a million asylum seekers from around the Muslim world came streaming into the E.U., a patchwork of populist movements have begun to call for Europeans to shut their borders to Muslim migrants, close Islamic schools and ban Muslim women from covering their hair or face in public. And they’re winning.
We have one of these too. And the US is the world's only superpower.
Yesterday, a fairly typical day at Huffington Post, Trump received much more than twice as many headlines as Clinton. And there were more than 4 times as many pictures of Trump as there were of Clinton.
This kind of gross skewing of coverage is repeated throughout the media. You think this might have something to do with Trump's unnervingly high poll numbers? You think????
On Saturday morning there is usually time for a thoughtful (I hope) run back through the week's news. But this morning I cannot get a story published this morning out of my mind.
I have long admired the work David Waldman (@KagroX) has done on Twitter in chronicling the sickening, daily litany of accidental shootings (#gunFAIL) in this country. I don't know how he can stand it. Plus, we've seen this week two more shootings of African-American men by police with itchy trigger fingers. What we rarely get is the backstory of victims of the daily carnage of accidental or intentional gun violence in this country.
On Saturday 23 November 2013, ten children across America, all boys, died from gunshots. In an extract at the Guardian from the soon-published "Another Day In The Death Of America," Gary Younge tells the stories of the shooting deaths of two young boys on that day. He picked the day at random.
Seen in the context of the ordinariness of their lives, their stories are heartbreaking. Younge spent two years piecing their stories together from interviews with their families.
Jaiden Dixon, 9, was getting ready to leave for school with his mother Nicole and his older brother when the doorbell rang. He opened it, thinking it was one of the girls down the street who might need a lift:
Jaiden opened the door gingerly, hiding behind it, poised to jump out and shout, “Boo!” when one of the girls showed her face. But nobody stepped forward. Time was suspended as the minor commotion of an unexpected visitor failed to materialise. Nicole craned her neck into the cleft of silence to find out who it was. She looked to Jarid; Jarid shrugged.
Slowly, curiously, Jaiden walked around the door. That’s when Nicole heard the “pop”. Her first thought was, “Why are these girls popping a balloon? What are they trying to do, scare me to death?” But then she saw Jaiden’s head snap back, first once, then twice, before he hit the floor. “It was just real quiet. It was like everything stopped. And I remember staring at Jarid.” She knew what had happened. It was Danny.
A former boyfriend and Jaiden's father, a man with a violent temper and an actual physical list he'd written of people he wanted to kill. He'd come for Nicole, but shot the first person he saw in the doorway before speeding away. He left his son in a pool of blood with a bullet through his skull. Danny Thornton drove 20 minutes away to the workplace of another ex-girlfriend he had not seen in 12 years. He shot her too (she survived) before committing suicide by cop in a Walmart parking lot.
Tyler Dunn, 11, lived in tiny Marlette, population 1,879, in rural Michigan an hour northeast of Flint. He was staying over on Friday night at the house of a friend, "Brandon." Brandon's father Jerry was a truck driver who sometimes took the boys hunting or sometimes take them along on his day-long delivery runs. But this day they decided not to go, and Jerry left them at the house. That evening before Jerry got home, Brandon called 911:
An officer went inside, where he found a lever-action rifle on the kitchen floor and Tyler on the dining-room floor, in a Mountain Dew T-shirt and sweatpants, with a large pool of blood surrounding his head. There was a huge wound on the left side of his head. The policeman found no pulse, called dispatch, and told them Tyler was dead. As he left, he saw a shotgun lying on the living room couch and four holes in the dining-room window.
Nobody but Brandon will ever know for sure what happened that night, Sheriff Biniecki says. Brandon claims they were playing Xbox when he got a rifle out of Jerry’s closet to show Tyler. He asked Tyler to hold it while he went to get his milkshake from the bedroom. He came back and took the rifle from Tyler, who passed it to him butt first, the muzzle pointing in Tyler’s direction. Brandon was resting it against the wall when the gun got caught on his pocket and went off.
The house contained a small arsenal. Both Brandon and his father faced charges, Brandon in juvenile court.
The effects on both families that lost children were devastating.
This is not a story about gun control. It is a story made possible by the absence of gun control. Americans are no more violent than anybody else. What makes their society more deadly is the widespread availability of firearms. To defend this by way of the second amendment – the right to bear arms – has about the same relevance as seeking to understand the roots of modern terrorism through readings of the Qur’an. To base an argument on an ancient text is effectively to abdicate your responsibility to understand the present. Adopted in 1791, the second amendment states: “A well–regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” These 27 words have been elevated to the level of scripture, inscribed on a blood-soaked pedestal thwarting all debate, more than 200 years after its passing.
None of the family members I spoke to raised the second amendment. Almost all believed guns were too readily available; none believed there was anything that could be done. But when I told them of other families who had lost children that day, they seemed shocked. It was as though they had lost a loved one in a war, unaware that the same war was simultaneously claiming other lives – indeed, unaware that a war was taking place. As though it were happening only to them, when in fact it was happening to America. Every day.
From Newark to San Jose, eight other children (older teens) died that day: killed by a stray bullet, in a drive-by shooting, in a case of mistaken identity, by accident by a friend or in gang violence.
I still find it hard to believe that, days after Terence Crutcher died at the hands of police in Tulsa, Keith Scott would get out of his vehicle – while surrounded by Charlotte police – with a gun in his hand. His wife insists he did not have one. And the casual way it appears police tossed "something" onto the pavement at Scott's feet suggests the something seen in blurry images was not a handgun. But in a country awash with them, it's not surprising police "see" guns everywhere. Of course, there's the 2nd Amendment, so nothing can be done about that.
For 17 years of his life, Tilin was seen as nothing more than a performing animal — and when he wasn't on stage, he lived in solitude.
When the Hamadryas baboon wasn't out in the circus ring, he spent his time locked in a tiny cage in Bolivia. The sad reality he endured being forced to entertain audiences finally came to an end in September 2010, when Tilin was confiscated from the circus and transferred to a sanctuary.
"Tilin was found starved of primate companionship, living next to lions and with a chain around his neck," James Shaw, who founded Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary with his wife, Sharon, told The Dodo. "This [chain] was cut and his new life began."
When Tilin first arrived at Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary, based in England, he was unable to move freely. His legs were weakened due to being deprived of exercise and free movement for years. "We immediately fell in love with the gentle giant," Shaw said. "His character and spirit were still intact."
In the weeks following his arrival, during which he remained in quarantine at the sanctuary, his caretakers read to him, allowing him to learn their voices and grow used to their company (as a result, Tilin is now a huge fan of Jane Austen, Shaw said).
Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary
Through a regime of balanced diet and exercise, Tilin slowly but surely regained strength in his legs. His mental health improved as well, and Shaw said he noticed a decrease in certain repetitive behavioral patterns Tilin had developed during his time as a circus animal. [...] But the most harrowing part of Tilin's dark past, by far, was how long the social animal lived without companionship. "When we think how long he was living his solitary life, we think what has happened to us as humans during those 17 years; the places we've been, the people we've met, the births, deaths and loves that we've all experienced," Shaw said. "For Tilin, his days were always the same. This, we wanted to remedy as soon as possible."
Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary
Through the luck of a mutual contact, an animal rescue organization called Animal Responsibility Cyprus, the Shaws learned about another baboon, the same species as Tilin, who was living with a German shepherd at a donkey sanctuary.
Her name was Tina, and she was born at a captive breeding facility in Israel before being exported with another monkey to Cyprus, where she became part of the country's exotic pet trade. After she became too big for her owners at the age of 5, they handed her over to the local donkey sanctuary.
Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary
She was another baboon who had never known the friendship of her own species — and so the Shaws knew she would be a perfect match for their lonely boy. Tina arrived at the sanctuary in June 2011.
Tina was introduced to Tilin slowly. They were placed next to each other with a wire barrier and were watched carefully for any signs of aggressive behavior. To the Shaws, it soon became pretty obvious that Tina was yearning to be even closer to Tilin, who also liked to keep close to her. It finally came time to properly introduce two the two, face to face.
"The moment Tilin and Tina met, they were inseparable," Shaw said. "They ran to each other, embracing and vocalizing, then Tilin turned to us humans and, in no uncertain terms, threatened us to make us leave them alone. We spent the next few hours hiding behind the trees trying to monitor the situation in case anything happened. Every time Tilin spotted us, he told us off."
Today, Tilin and Tina continue to be a happy "married" couple together, with plans underway to build an even bigger enclosure for them to continue living their peaceful days together.
Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary
"Tilin and Tina are just amazing together," Shaw said. "For two animals who never had the chance to be with their own kind, to see them relaxing in the sunshine, grooming each other is very moving … we feel they truly deserve the best after their past traumas."
Here's the conservative movement's answer to Donald Trump's abdication of every tenet of freedom and liberty they've espoused for the last half century. This one's by Richard Viguerie. And that picture above is the cover of a new book they're pimping to keep the coffers full:
“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Samuel Johnson The 2016 Presidential Election is now about six weeks away – a bit more than a fortnight – but close enough that it should concentrate the mind of every conservative and right-of-center voter in America on what the effects of a Hillary Clinton presidency would be on their lives and the lives of their fellow citizens.
Accordingly, this booklet isn’t about why conservatives should support Donald Trump, or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or any other candidate running for President.
Instead, it is a cannonball through the doors of the Ivory Towers of those “conservatives” who continue to obdurately claim that a Hillary Clinton presidency might not be that bad, that the country can recover after four or eight years, and that her policies won’t be aimed at marginalizing, if not outlawing, the conservative worldview. To outline and explain these dangers I asked a group of conservative leaders to share with me their assessment of what a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean to those Americans who hold traditional Judeo-Christian values and who believe in American exceptionalism. Most of these leaders had not backed Donald Trump during the Republican Primaries, but the response was immediate and overwhelming – far beyond the expected pro forma election year support for the Republican candidate for president.
In fact, each of these respected conservative leaders saw Hillary Clinton not as merely a wrongheaded political opponent, but as a genuine threat to the future of the conservative movement and to the domestic tranquility of this great country.
The dangers that these leaders saw in a Hillary Clinton presidency represent not obscure Capitol Hill policy differences, but dangers to the peaceful lives of ordinary Americans.
What they told me was that Americans who believe in the right-to-life; Americans who believe that marriage between one man and one woman is Biblically ordained; Americans who own guns; Americans who believe in the rule of law and protecting our borders are all at risk. Perhaps most at risk from a Clinton presidency are those Americans who believe that the Constitution is the law that governs and restrains government.
The one voice that is not represented, and from whom I expected to receive a response was my longtime friend, the First Lady of the Conservative Movement Phyllis Schlafly. Not only was Phyllis Schlafly the first major conservative leader to endorse Donald Trump, she was also conservativism’s most effective opponent of the radical Leftist Feminism to which Hillary Clinton subscribes and wishes to impose upon America.
What’s more, the Trump campaign’s populist – conservative coalition of outsiders seemed to be the very embodiment of her 1964 classic A Choice Not An Echo, committed as they are to breaking the power of the kingmakers, as Phyllis called the Wall Street – Washington – Silicon Valley Axis.
Unfortunately, before she could submit her response, Phyllis Schlafly passed away and it is to her and her lifelong struggle against the establishment kingmakers and the radical Left that this booklet is dedicated.
Remember, they like to lose. It makes it easier to fund raise.
Looks like Clinton didn't screw the pooch after all. Imagine that:
It was supposed to be her "47 percent" moment.
When Hillary Clinton said that half of Donald Trump's supporters belonged in a "basket of deplorables," Republicans thought they just might have found her campaign-crushing-blunder.
The gaffe, they hoped, was a way to cement an image as an out-of-touch snob, just as Democrats did four years ago to Mitt Romney after he said "47 percent" of voters backed President Barack Obama because they were "dependent on government."
But a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that Clinton's stumble didn't have quite the impact that Trump and his supporters wanted. Instead, it's Trump who's viewed as most disconnected and disrespectful.
Sixty percent of registered voters say he does not respect "ordinary Americans," according to the poll. That's far more than the 48 percent who say the same about Clinton.
The reason for that is that it's obvious to anyone that Trump is an odious pig and that many of his supporters cheer on his odiousness. There's no better example than the GOP partisans at the RNC shouting "lock her up!" in unison over and over again. Millions saw it. It's obvious. And they're proud of it.
When Robin Roberts asked President Obama for debating advice for Hillary Clinton, this is what he said:
"Be yourself and explain what motivates you. I’ve gotten to know Hillary and seen her work, seen her in tough times and in good times. She’s in this for the right reasons. There’s a reason why we haven’t had a woman president before, so she’s having to break down some barriers. There’s a level of mistrust and a caricature of her that just doesn’t jive with who I know -- this person who cares deeply about kids."
CNN's Gloria Borger characterized his comments this way:
He wants her to try to be more like herself because she has a hard time doing that.
I don't think that's what he was saying. In fact, he was saying something else altogether. But they've got a narrative and they're sticking to it.