Shorter Question Everything
This is so true of the rightwingers. Not just now, but for decades, they’ve been deluding themselves, and struggling to delude the rest of us, that their fantasies are the facts. Even when that lack of reality bites them in the ass in such a glaring, public way – as with the 2012 re-election of Obama – the rightwingers just move on to new conspiracies, rather than deal with reality. How do you talk to people, deal with people, who refuse to live in the same world?
• Hillary Clinton: “There are some people in politics and in the press who can’t be confused by the facts. They just will not live in an evidence-based world. And that’s regrettable. It’s regrettable for our political system and for the people who serve our government in very dangerous, difficult circumstances.”
• Rajiv Chandrasekaran: At Hagel hearing, 136 mentions of Israel and 135 of Iran. Only 27 refs to Afghanistan. 2 for Al Qaida. 1 for Mali.
• The discussion, like most discussions in Washington, centered on what Republicans wanted to talk about, and what they wanted to talk about was — exclusively — whatever they thought they could use for political advantage.
• The Ed Show: Chuck Hagel “never did anything as reckless as John McCain did when he picked Sarah Palin to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.”
• Fmr. Senator Chuck Hagel faced a tough confirmation hearing yesterday. Hagel’s Republican colleagues were particularly vicious claiming Hagel was anti-Israel, weak on Iran, and supports unilateral nuclear disarmament. The attacks though continually repeated had little to no evidence supporting them. One of the highlights was John McCain losing his cool over statements Hagel made on the surge in Iraq – an issue totally irrelevant to the responsibilities of a Secretary of Defense in 2013. Despite the seven hour plus beating Hagel endured few in Washington doubt his confirmation will go through.
• Tea Party Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made his big-time national debut today hectoring Defense nominee Chuck Hagel, the former GOP senator, and the righty blogs ate it up, even if the rest of the world scratched its head, and fact-checkers took apart his claims. Armed with silly props, Cruz hit Hagel with appearances on Al Jazeera in which Hagel appeared to agree with callers who attacked the U.S. or Israel, plus an interview in which he described Israel’s 2006 military campaign against Lebanon as “sickening slaughter.” Reporters quickly showed that Cruz distorted Hagel’s replies to the Al Jazeera callers, either by leaving out the context of his answers or truncating them. Slate’s Dave Weigel showed that Cruz also took the “sickening slaughter” quote out of context – he actually attacked “sickening slaughter on both sides,” acknowledging the role of Hezbollah rockets in triggering and then escalating the ugly conflict. The right, of course, ate it all up.
Right wing asshats
• Arkansas Senator Jason Rapert: “You’ve got to change the hearts and minds of the people that live around you. You’ve gotta pray. It says ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. And I wonder sometimes when they invited all the Muslims to come into the White House and have them a little Ramadan supper, when our President could not take the time to go attend a National Prayer Breakfast–I wonder what he stands for. You know what, what they told is what you say speaks so loudly–excuse me–what you do speaks so loudly that what you say I cannot hear. I hear you loud and clear, Barack Obama. You don’t represent the country that I grew up with. And your values is not goin’ to save us. We’re gonna try to take this country back for the Lord. We’re gonna try to take this country back for conservatism. And we’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in.”
• 43 GOP Senators Threaten Obstruction Unless Consumer Protection Bureau Is Weakened: When the Dodd-Frank financial reform law first passed, Senate Republicans refused to confirm a director for the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They promised to block any nominee — regardless of that nominee’s qualifications for the job — unless the Bureau was weakened and made subservient to the same bank regulators who failed to prevent the 2008 financial crisis. In a letter sent to President Obama on Friday, 43 Republican senators committed to refusing approval of any nominee to head the consumer watchdog until the bureau underwent significant reform. Lawmakers signing on to the letter included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee.
• Texas Assistant DA Assassinated, Possible Aryan Brotherhood Link: For Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, Thursday was just another day at the office. He parked his car, got out, and was gunned down. Hasse was killed in the parking lot of the Kaufman County courthouse Thursday morning, shot several times after “a very small, very short confrontation,” Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said. A couple of months ago, the Department of Justice indicted 34 members of the Texas Aryan Brotherhood in connection with a joint task force that involved just about every county in Texas. Previous to that, they had two members of the Aryan Brotherhood plea-bargain to federal racketeering charges. According to DallasNews.com, Hasse was involved in recent investigations of the Aryan Brotherhood, which would explain why the ATF, FBI, and Texas Rangers are all involved in the investigation of his shooting.
• Eleven days after the massacre, Wayne LaPierre – a lifelong political operative who had steadied the National Rifle Association through many crises – stood before an American flag and soberly addressed the nation about firearms and student safety: “We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period,” LaPierre said, carving out a “rare exception” for professional law enforcement. LaPierre even proposed making the mere mention of the word “guns” in schools a crime: “Such behavior in our schools should be prosecuted just as certainly as such behavior in our airports is prosecuted,” LaPierre said. This speech wasn’t delivered in an alternate universe. The date was May 1st, 1999, at the NRA’s national convention in Denver. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s rampage at Columbine High School in nearby Littleton, Colorado, had just killed 13 students and teachers, shocking the conscience of the nation.
• Dramatic Baloney: Bill O’Reilly’s bestselling book on the JFK assassination, “Killing Kennedy,” partly follows the travails of O’Reilly himself as a young reporter trying to uncover the truth behind the president’s death. As author and former Salon politics editor Jefferson Morley highlighted this week, however, O’Reilly’s firsthand accounts appear lacking in the truth department. In an incident detailed in the book (and flagged by media outlets including USA Today) O’Reilly claims he was tracking down an interview with George de Mohrenschildt, a Russian expat with possible CIA connections who was friends with Lee Harvey Oswald. Investigators looking into the JFK assassination were seeking information for de Mohnrenschildt when he reportedly committed suicide in 1977. According to “Killing Kennedy,” O’Reilly was on the Russian’s doorstep when he heard “the shotgun blast that marked the suicide.” But as Morley pointed out this week, this was pretty much dramatic baloney.
• As the indications of a successful economic recovery continue to pop up, pundits on the right seemed to be hoping for bad news. On Thursday’s radio program, Rush Limbaugh seemed willing to sacrifice economic gains just to see the president hurt. “Any immediate economic setback, or the perception of one, could weaken Obama’s clout,” he said. “Maybe a sour economy is worth it if it will distract Obama.” Sean Hannity spoke wishfully about the possibility of another quarter of economic contraction. “There’s a lot of talk these days about how the GOP can come back politically,” he said. “I’ll tell you right now, the quickest possible way politically, with a contracting economy like this, if it happens again in the next quarter, that’s a recession.”
• Scott Brown won’t run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by John Kerry, several news outlets report.
• What to whine about next?: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, an aide confirmed to The Hill. The agreement to testify should remove one roadblock to the confirmation of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), President Obama’s nominee to replace Panetta at the Pentagon. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he would place a hold on Hagel’s nomination unless Panetta agreed to testify on what actions the Pentagon took before, during and after the Sept. 11, 2012, raid.
• 2 Reported Dead in Blast Near U.S. Embassy in Turkey: A suspected suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in the Turkish capital on Friday and at least two people are dead, a police official said. An Associated Press journalist saw a body in the street in front of an embassy side entrance. The bomb appeared to have exploded inside the security checkpoint at the entrance of the visa section of the embassy. Several ambulances were dispatched to the area. An AP journalist saw at least one woman who appeared to be seriously injured being carried into an ambulance.
• A suicide bomber blew himself up inside an entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara on Friday, killing at least three people, Turkish police sources said. The bomber got to the first X-ray machine leading to the visa section, the sources added. Turkish television footage showed smoke rising from the area and the heavily damaged door, which led to a side street. A call to the embassy’s main number at about 2:10 p.m. local time (7:10 a.m. ET) was not answered. Speaking at about the same time, State Department spokesman Harry Edwards said that it did not yet have any details on the explosion and could not immediately confirm any attack.
In other news
• A Vancouver hospital has become the first in Canada to test a germ-killing, UV-ray-blasting robot that hospital staff have named Trudi. Vancouver General Hospital is testing the device, which uses powerful ultraviolet light to kill germs and viruses such as norovirus and C. difficile in hospital rooms, on a five-month pilot project. The machine — formally called Tru-D SmartUVC — is 1.65 metres tall, with long UV light bulbs running vertically up a long shaft. After Trudi’s trial, Bryce says the hospital will test another machine called PulseRx, to help the provincial government determine whether either should be used permanently in B.C. hospitals.
• Protesters threw incendiary devices over the walls of Egypt’s presidential palace during Friday demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi, leading to clashes with riot police officers that filled the area with tear gas and threatened to deepen Egypt’s spiraling political crisis.
• Canada’s ban on marijuana will remain in effect following a unanimous ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal, despite the high hopes of marijuana activists. In overturning a lower provincial court ruling, the appeal court said the trial judge had erred in striking down Canada’s medical marijuana laws by relying on anecdotal evidence presented at trial, by misinterpreting case law and suggesting there is a constitutional right to access medical marijuana, and by wrongly inferring medical marijuana is practically impossible to obtain. A new trial was ordered, but B.C. pot activist Dana Larsen said the court missed an opportunity to improve the medical marijuana system.
• François Hollande visits Timbuktu as Mali intervention declared successful: With the key phase of France’s campaign over, it is unclear whether lasting peace or a simmering guerrilla war will follow. François Hollande has arrived in Timbuktu to meet local elders days after French forces liberated the Saharan town from fundamentalist Muslim rebels. The French president, accompanied by his ministers for defence and foreign affairs, landed in Sevare in central Mali before travelling north.