10/08/2015 archive

MSF Kunduz: An Apology Is Not Enough

President Barack Obama called the president of MSF, Dr. Joanne Liu offering his apology and condolences for the attack on MSF’s hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan than took the lives of 22 people. He assured her that their would be a transparent investigation. At this point apologies are not enough nor are internal investigations.

We already know that this was not a mistake. The Afghan government has clearly stated that the hospital was targeted because they knew there were Taliban inside. Letting the US investigate itself is tantamount to letting the murderers investigate the crime scene. A independent international  investigation under the Geneva Conventions

Why Is the U.S. Refusing an Independent Investigation If Its Hospital Airstrike Was an “Accident”?

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

In Geneva this morning, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) demanded a formal, independent investigation into the U.S. airstrike on its hospital in Kunduz. The group’s international president, Dr. Joanne Liu, specified that the inquiry should be convened pursuant to war crime-investigating procedures established by the Geneva Conventions and conducted by The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding [..]

An independent, impartial investigation into what happened here should be something everyone can immediately agree is necessary. But at its daily press briefing on Monday, the U.S. State Department, through its spokesperson Mark Toner, insisted that no such independent investigation was needed on the ground that the U.S. government is already investigating itself and everyone knows how trustworthy and reliable this process is: [..]

So predictably, American journalists have announced without even waiting for any investigation that this was all a terrible accident, nothing intentional about it. Those U.S.-defending journalists should be the angriest about their government’s refusal to allow an independent, impartial investigation since that would be the most effective path for exonerating them and proving their innocent, noble intentions.

Many Americans, and especially a large percentage of the nation’s journalists, need no investigation to know that this was nothing more than a terrible, tragic mistake. They believe that Americans, and especially their military, are so inherently good and noble and well-intentioned that none would ever knowingly damage a hospital. John McCain expressed this common American view and the primary excuse now accompanying it – stuff happens – on NPR this morning [..]

They’re certain of this despite how consistent MSF has been that this was a “war crime.” They’re certain of it despite how many times, and how recently, MSF notified the U.S. military of the exact GPS coordinates of this hospital. They’re certain of it even though bombing continued for 30 minutes after MSF pleaded with them to stop. They’re certain of it despite the substantial evidence that their Afghan allies long viewed this exact hospital with hostility because – true to its name and purpose – the group treated all wounded human beings, including Taliban. They’re certain of it even though Afghan officials have explicitly defended the airstrike against the hospital on the ground that Taliban were inside. They’re certain of it despite how many times the U.S. has radically changed its story about what happened as facts emerged that proved its latest claims false. They’re certain of it despite how many times the U.S. has attacked and destroyed civilian targets under extremely suspicious circumstances.

But they are not apparently so certain that they desire an independent, impartial investigation into what actually happened here. The facially ludicrous announcement by the State Department that the Pentagon will investigate itself produced almost no domestic outrage. A religious-like belief in American exceptionalism and tribal superiority is potent indeed, and easily overrides evidence or facts. It blissfully renders the need for investigations obsolete. In their minds, knowing that it was Americans who did this suffices to know what happened, at least on the level of motive: It could not possibly be the case that there was any intentionality here at all. As McCain said, it’s only the Bad People – not Americans – who do such things deliberately.

The US has been undeniably caught in the act and needs to answer for thia atrocious attack.

Junior League Division Series: Rangers @ Blue Jays Game 1

First some Meta.  Today we have two games, tomorrow, Friday, and potentially also Monday we will have four.  This is a lot of Baseball to cover and while we will put up Open Threads it will probably not be possible to live blog all the action.  Also TMC and I will be in meetings all weekend related to the impending transition of our sites to Wordpress.  In addition to that next weekend I have an out of state business appointment and it’s my understanding TMC does too.  It’s a very busy time and we’re doing the best we can.

Secondly, more Meta.  Major League Baseball, with the same genius instinct that led to the abomination that is the Designated Hitter, is showing some games on fairly obscure cable networks that many people do not subscribe to.

Today’s games are all on Fox Sports 1.  I may get that, I’d have to check.  Tomorrow’s 12:30 game between the Rangers and Blue Jays will be on MLB’s own network as will Sunday’s 4 pm game between the Royals and Astros.  Pretty sure I don’t get that.

If I can’t watch it I can’t live blog it so there will probably be some gaps due to that.  Also (see above) I will be out of state at least the 15th through the 17th and I have no clue what channels I’ll be able to get there, possibly not even TBS.

Now onto today’s first game.

The Blue Jays (93 – 89) are about the best team in baseball that isn’t playing in the Senior League.  Among their achievments they outscored opponents by 221 runs (that includes losses).  The Rangers (88 – 74) on the other hand are still somewhat scarred from their memorable 2 game fold against the Cardinals in 2011.

David Price (L, 18 – 5, 2.45 ERA) will be starting for the Blue Jays and Yovani Gallardo (R, 13 – 11, 3.42 ERA) will take the hill for the Rangers.

My prediction?  Jays in 4 (remember it’s a 5 game series and first team to 3 moves on).

Game time is 3:30 on Fox Sports 1.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

David Cay Johnston: Get ready to debate the TPP

We will soon get to see the text – with very little time to examine it

At long last, we are finally about to see the entire text of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a new set of trade rules for the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries.

The final trade agreement was announced, without details, in Atlanta on Monday. Proponents say the deal would grow the economies of all 12 partners. Critics fear it would benefit the biggest corporations at the expense of workers and taxpayers.

As Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, put it, “Wall Street and big corporations just won a big victory to advance a disastrous trade deal.”

Stirring nativist anti-trade sentiments, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed that, as president, he would force Ford Motor and other big companies to move their factories back to the United States. Just what authority the Constitution would grant him to do this remains a mystery.

Even a designated spokesman for the staunchly pro-business American Enterprise Institute said, “The TPP should be carefully vetted … If unsound, the TPP must be rejected.”

Dean Baker: ‘Massive’ Media Hype for TPP

We continue to hear superlatives even as the evidence suggests the trade impact will be trivial. For example, the New York Times reported that US tariffs on Japanese cars will be phased out over 30 years. Wow! The most optimistic growth estimates show a cumulative gain by 2027 of less than 0.4 percent, roughly two months of normal GDP growth.

This doesn’t mean that the TPP can’t have an impact. It will lock in a regulatory structure, the exact parameters of which are yet to be seen. We do know that the folks at the table came from places like General Electric and Monsanto, not the AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club. We also know that it will mean paying more for drugs and other patent and copyright-protected material (forms of protection, whose negative impact is never included in growth projections), but we don’t yet know how much.

Bob Dreyfuss: The US Massacre in Kunduz Exposes the Bankruptcy of Obama’s National-Security Policy

Air power inflicts horrific human-rights violations and has been thoroughly discredited as a means of fighting insurgencies

The aerial destruction that rained down on a hospital complex run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz, a provincial capital in northeast Afghanistan, on October 3 puts an exclamation point on the story of America’s 14 years of warfare in that Central Asian country. At least 22 people were killed, among them doctors, other medical personnel, and patients, including three children, and dozens were wounded in the attack.

Beyond the obvious, immediate implications of this massacre-which serves as a reminder that for all of those 14 years, the United States has engaged in a brutal, mismanaged and ill-conceived war-more broadly the ruins of the Kunduz hospital are a symbol of America’s unfortunate reliance on air power, including drone strikes and bombers, to combat a host of insurgent groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and elsewhere in Africa.

E. J. Dionne: Let’s Focus on the Gun-Makers

It’s not just Congress that fails to respond after another massacre briefly focuses attention on the irrationality and permissiveness of our country’s firearms statutes. Those of us seeking change also regularly fall down on the job. We express outrage and move on, leaving the debate exactly where we found it.

Opponents of the big gun interests are often insufficiently innovative in what we propose. Let’s face it: We have been losing this fight. [..]

The time has come to recast this battle as a fight to hold those who make billions of dollars from the sale of firearms accountable for what their products do to individuals and communities. We must call for corporate responsibility, and enforce it by law if it’s not forthcoming. And President Obama, whose outrage about guns many of us share, must be willing to go well beyond what he has done so far.

As is their way, the community organizers and activists at the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) are pushing the president to use the federal government’s purchasing power to promote safer guns. To do business with the government, companies would have to be willing to “remove the barriers to getting smart guns and gun safety technologies to market” and cooperate with law enforcement to “identify and isolate dealers that provide large numbers of guns used in crimes.”

John Nichols: TPP Prioritizes ‘Rights’ of Corporations Over Workers, the Environment and Democracy

The way to begin any discussion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is with a simple question:

Where does this sweeping global trade deal rest power-with the people and their elected representatives in the United States and eleven other Pacific-rim countries, or with the multinational corporations that have been empowered by every previous trade deal of this kind?

The answer, if history is any indication, and if reports on the the secretive agreement are accurate, is that the power will rest with the corporations.

“The deal announced [Monday] is the result of negotiations between corporate interests and trade representatives, which ignored the voices of working families in all twelve countries,” announced Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN). “While details are still emerging, we are concerned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will destroy jobs and depress wages, threaten health and safety standards, harm our air, land and water, and make it harder for patients to access life-saving drugs.”

The Breakfast Club (If I Can Survive)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Deadly fires scorch Chicago and other parts of Upper Midwest; Communist Poland bans labor groups; Alexander Solzhenitsyn wins Nobel Prize for Literature; Don Larsen pitches ‘perfect’ World Series game.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.


On This Day In History October 8

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 8 is the 281st day of the year (282nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 84 days remaining until the end of the year.


On this day in 1871, flames spark in the Chicago barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary, igniting a 2-day blaze that kills between 200 and 300 people, destroys 17,450 buildings,leaves 100,000 homeless and causes an estimated $200 million (in 1871 dollars; $3 billion in 2007 dollars) in damages.

The Great Chicago Fire was a conflagration  that burned from Sunday, October 8, to early Tuesday, October 10, 1871, killing hundreds and destroying about 4 square miles (10 km2) in Chicago, Illinois. Though the fire was one of the largest U.S.  disasters of the 19th century, the rebuilding that began almost immediately spurred Chicago’s development into one of the most populous and economically important American cities.

On the municipal flag of Chicago, the second star commemorates the fire. To this day the exact cause and origin of the fire remain a mystery.

The fire started at about 9 p.m. on Sunday, October 8, in or around a small shed that bordered the alley behind 137 DeKoven Street.[3]  The traditional account of the origin of the fire is that it was started by a cow kicking over a lantern in the barn owned by Patrick and Catherine O’Leary. Michael Ahern, the Chicago Republican reporter who created the cow story, admitted in 1893 that he had made it up because he thought it would make colorful copy.

The fire’s spread was aided by the city’s overuse of wood for building, a drought prior to the fire, and strong winds from the southwest that carried flying embers toward the heart of the city. The city also made fatal errors by not reacting soon enough and citizens were apparently unconcerned when it began. The firefighters were also exhausted from fighting a fire that happened the day before.

After the fire

Once the fire had ended, the smoldering remains were still too hot for a survey of the damage to be completed for days. Eventually it was determined that the fire destroyed an area about four miles (6 km) long and averaging 3/4 mile (1 km) wide, encompassing more than 2,000 acres (8 km²). Destroyed were more than 73 miles (120 km) of roads, 120 miles (190 km) of sidewalk, 2,000 lampposts, 17,500 buildings, and $222 million in property-about a third of the city’s valuation. Of the 300,000 inhabitants, 90,000 were left homeless. Between two and three million books were destroyed from private library collections. The fire was said by The Chicago Daily Tribune to have been so fierce that it surpassed the damage done by Napoleon’s siege of Moscow in 1812. Remarkably, some buildings did survive the fire, such as the then-new Chicago Water Tower, which remains today as an unofficial memorial to the fire’s destructive power. It was one of just five public buildings and one ordinary bungalow spared by the flames within the disaster zone. The O’Leary home and Holy Family Church, the Roman Catholic congregation of the O’Leary family, were both saved by shifts in the wind direction that kept them outside the burnt district.

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Strikeout)

The New Kid

Well, the Aaron Sorkin interview went just about as badly as I expected except, of course, it was worse.

During Noah’s debut week, the interviews were consistently weak, even as the opening monologues and correspondent pieces noticeably improved. Noah’s not much for spur-of-the-moment humor-it seems to destabilize him, as I wrote last week-and it makes him a stilted interviewer. It does not help that finessing a promotional interview to be somewhat interesting to the audience is not an easy task. Watching the screenwriter of a film and someone who really liked the film discuss it would be fun if you’d seen and liked the film already, but it’s weirdly pointless when literally no one in the audience has seen it. Talk show hosts earn their keep by making small talk with celebrities that make their projects, and those celebrities themselves, sound somewhat interesting. Trevor Noah is still learning the ropes.

It made for an interview where no one came off too well. I believe Sorkin to be a certain kind of genius, but even his biggest fans are forced to contend with his massive ego, one that takes up all the available air in any confined space. Without Noah challenging him at all, Sorkin’s arrogance was its own separate entity, lumbering around the “Daily Show” studio.

I find myself forced to agree.  The writers and correspondants are carrying Noah.  Others are slightly more impressed.

He will be having Evgeny Afineevsky on tonight.  Afineevsky’s latest project is Divorce: Journey through the kids’ eyes.

This week’s guests-

The New Continuity

Larry on the other hand has really upped his game since Colbert’s debut on The Late Show.

Noah’s disappointing debut may have a surprising upside, though:  Viewers now can stay tuned after his show to catch “The Nightly Show” with Larry Wilmore, which follows in the slot directly after.  Watching the two shows back-to-back – or, as Wilmore puts it, “black to black” – offers viewers a chance to compare two different approaches to political comedy.

Noah’s brand of silly, toothless comedy has served to highlight the fact that Larry Wilmore’s show is offering viewers not just a sharp edge, but also a much-needed “underdog” angle on the pressing issues of the day.  While this was the case during the time that Stewart was the lead in to Wilmore-now that he follows Noah, it is actually much easier to appreciate the specific comic genius of Wilmore and his team.

This is why the comedy of Wilmore on “The Nightly Show” is so refreshing.  Wilmore’s show focuses on offering the view of the underdog on current political issues.  That means he is unafraid to confront moments when racial bias is at stake -but it also means that race is not the only diverse comedic edge to the show. The show debuted at the start of this year as a replacement for “The Colbert Report” and it has become more polished and more provocative as the months have gone by. According to an August 18 piece in “The Hollywood Reporter,”The Nightly Show’s brand of smart, focused comedy mixed with more serious-minded commentary has really found its stride in recent months, with Wilmore’s desk bits getting sharper and panel discussions becoming more consistently engaging.”

More Bern

More Cray

Tonightly we have Jay Leno whoring his CNBC gig showing off his 1%er car collection.  I think he’s a no talent asshole and evidently some people agree.

He says he doesn’t like you

The trotting out of the show’s former host was a promotion stunt for Leno’s new CNBC show, “Jay Leno’s Garage,” which debuted Tuesday. It is literally about the cars in Jay Leno’s garage. And if that’s not proof the Peacock Network’s infatuation with Leno, nearly two years after he stepped down from the “Tonight Show” – well, two years after he stepped down for the second time – is bottomless, I don’t know what is. You may recall that Leno first retired in 2009, five full years after Conan O’Brien was picked to be his successor – and you may also recall how disastrously that all went down. Since then, Leno – who also famously burned more than a few bridges with David Letterman over the years – has still managed to hang on to his position as the most smug person to ever grace late night. Last spring, he cropped up on James Corden’s brand new show to ominously crack, “In three months, this show will be mine.” And in a Tuesday interview with Adweek, he explained his absence from Letterman’s last episode, saying, “Well, I asked Dave to do a 10-second tape for us [when I left]. Anything, just, ‘Leno who?’ They said no, they didn’t want to do it. Well, why am I going to run all the way to New York? I mean, quid pro quo. I just said, ‘No, that’s kind of silly.'” Classy!

See, when you’ve been privileged to have hosted the “Tonight Show” – twice! – and you’re pretty well-known as the guy who drove off two of late night’s biggest hosts and you’re doing a new show about your collection of expensive cars, acting petulant and resentful is not a good look. You’re 65 years old, man. Act like a grownup. Stop hanging around the old playground.

I don’t like you either

There were some other interesting tidbits in the interview, including a rather callous anecdote about booting a guest off “The Tonight show” when her publicist tried to limit the scope of the interview. As he put it, when asked what he missed about doing the show each night:

…’Why don’t you take your client and go home. She’s only here because she took her clothes off in a magazine after winning gold.’ I mean, I’m not going to insult her. I’m not going to make her feel cheap. But if you don’t want to discuss it, I can get a comic here in six minutes.

The other panelists are Michelle Collins and Bobby Gaylor.

The Dancing Man

Not much joy in Mudville tonight.  Stephen’s interview with Clinton was horrible

It was also hard to imagine that Colbert was an interviewer who delivered segments that went down as legend. The host had a few questions he tried to hit, and he got there, but they were largely softballs; the order of the day was not incision but flattery. Colbert, on “The Colbert Report,” was short on time, pull, and influence; having ascended to “The Late Show,” the host’s drive is a little sidelined by the unrestrained glee of having David Letterman’s old job-and, perhaps, the calm made possible by not having to be in boorish, ultra-conservative character every day of the week.

But where Colbert, the persona, could pose the toughest questions without flinching, Colbert, the person, is having a bit more trouble. To a degree, “The Late Show” is just a different kind of comedy show.

Yeah, actually worse than that

So far, the most quoted lines from the interview come from its conclusion, where Clinton gave a kind of backhanded description of Bernie Sanders’ appeal (liberals are “hacked off,” want to move to the left the way the GOP has moved to the right), denied having encouraged Donald Trump to run, and called the blustery mogul “the most interesting character out there.” (Trump’s candidacy, Clinton said, “may have a short half-life,” but turns on the “macho appeal” of saying, “I’m just sick of things not happening, I make things happening, I make things happen, vote for me.” Well said, if hardly ground-breaking.)

But the conversation was noteworthy for other reasons. Colbert did not invent the interviewer’s method of putting his subject at ease with softball early questions and then coming to tougher ones later on. But he’s used this familiar structure effectively in most of his other meetings with pols.

With Clinton, he got a bit starstruck and let the ex-president coast too much. He’s also smart and perceptive enough that he brought up the key issue of post-Reagan politics: politicians who don’t believe in governing and an electorate that has picked up the message.

Colbert touched on the issue twice.

The second time, Colbert drilled into the issue more directly. “There’s so little trust of our government now,” he said. “Some people actually go [to Washington] with the intent of getting nothing done because they believe government is the problem.”

After several years in which the Tea Party has made this very notion the center of its appeal, and in a GOP race in which three major candidates for president – Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina – have zero experience with governing, this idea is absolutely central. But it didn’t really go anywhere. And since Bill Clinton blended traditional liberalism with skepticism about “big government,” this would have been an excellent time and place to spend a few minutes on the subject. Well, we’ll have to wait ’til next time. Part of Clinton’s appeal has always been his hangdog, small-town folksiness, and Colbert let him trade on that for much of their conversation.

Tonight we have Ben Bernanke who is whoring his new book.  I expect it to be just as bad as last night’s waste of time with Clinton.  Stephen’s other guests are Gina Rodriguez and Tame Impala

This Week’s guests-

Senior League Wild Card: Cubs @ Pirates

Pity the poor Cubs.  They have never won a World Series since 1908, a 106 year drought that is the longest of any North American professional sports club, though they did make an appearance as recently as 1945(!).

That does somewhat understate their ability as they have made the playoffs 5 times in the last 10 years.

They are one of the oldest franchises and until 1908 were called the White Stockings, a name they abandoned that was taken over by the White Sox, Chicago’s Junior League team.  We won’t get to see historic Wrigley Field (yes, the gum guy and 1916) unless they happen to win.

The Pirates are another very old team that’s been somewhat more successful than the Cubs.  They have 5 Championships but are a long way away from their glory days of the 70s.  Their recent record only boasts 3 Wild Card games in the last 10 years.  We’ll be playing in the much, much newer PNC Park tonight because of their superior record (98 – 64 v. 97 – 65).

The Pirates will be sending Gerrit Cole (R, 19 – 8, 2.60 ERA) to the hill.  The Cubs will counter with Jake Arrieta (R, 22 – 6, 1.77 ERA).

Game starts at 8 pm on TBS.