Our two Cuban-American legislators -- Rubio and Cruz -- seem to dedicate this entire past week to idiotismos about the beginning of a new era in the US-Cuba relationship.
Most reactions to Marco Rubio have been things like "Rubio vows to block 21st Century.” That came from Andy Borowitz, according to Greg Sargent writing about the Cuban rapprochement in the Washington Post. At least one commenter at Sargent's site also mention the idiocies of Ted "Carnival" Cruz.
Herewith a few responses at the Post to Rubio's yakkety .
12/19/2014 4:06 PM CST
Marco Rubio’s big moment to look petty, out-of-touch, and not ready for prime time.
12/19/2014 4:07 PM CST
And he took it and did just that. Congrats to the Rube, he took the bait and looked like a fool.
12/19/2014 4:19 PM CST
Doubling down on stupidity. The Rube is in denial, just like Ted Carnival Cruz was. The more the mic is given too him, the further out of touch with reality he looks.
12/19/2014 4:52 PM CST
Rubio is a no-issue man, a sad sack. The president has made fools of the Republicans. Yes, the Reps won the House and Senate. But they didn't present anything to catch the nation's eye. The president has done just that, with his bold move on immigration and on Cuba, he turned the Reps and Foxnews claims of the "people have spoken" into the garbage they are. The nation may not have liked some people and policies and voted some Reps into congress, but they sure enough like this very much. If President Obama goes for the Keystone Pipeline, he could run for President Emeritus!
It's been a surprising week. The balance of power has shifted.
NBC News yesterday called her a “key apologist” for the CIA’s torture program. A follow-up New Yorker article dubbed her “The Unidentified Queen of Torture” and in part “the model for the lead character in ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’” Yet in both articles she was anonymous.
The person described by both NBC and The New Yorker is senior CIA officer Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. Multiple news outlets have reported that as the result of a long string of significant errors and malfeasance, her competence and integrity are doubted — even by some within the agency.
The Intercept is naming Bikowsky over CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency’s use of torture, and her active participation in the torture program (including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee). ...GlennGreenwald,TheIntercept
Some object to the publication of the officer's name. Gee, she might get hurt, or something.
Naming Bikowsky allows people to piece together these puzzles and hold American officials accountable. The CIA’s arguments for suppression of her name are vague and unpersuasive, alluding generally to the possibility that she could be the target of retaliation.
The CIA’s arguments focus on an undefined threat to her safety. “We would strongly object to attaching anyone’s name given the current environment,” a CIA spokesperson, Ryan Trapani, told The Intercept in an email. In a follow-up voicemail he added: “There are crazy people in this world and we are trying to mitigate those threats.” ...GlennGreenwald,TheIntercept
But wait! Aren't we simply getting confirmation that one of the most dangerous sociopaths in the world works for the CIA and is well compensated for her craziness?
That's what we get if we put Jeb Bush in the White House, Susan Greenbaum writes at Al Jazeera.
Described as a favorite of the Republican establishment, Bush has been touted as the best hope for a moderate and electable candidate.
But if his track record as governor in Florida is any indication, a Jeb Bush presidency is the last thing America needs. ...AlJazeera
He's often said to be more moderate than his brother, and smarter. Not true. He has a track record of being meaner than George W. and ... well, you decide if you think he's smarter:
Florida became the major test zone for transforming public education. It was also a demonstration site for privatization, outsourcing and tax cuts for the wealthy. He abolished affirmative action in contracts and university admissions, provoking a sit-in in his office in 1996 that included two state legislators.
Even more boldly, as one of three trustees of the state pension fund, Jeb Bush approved a 2002 purchase of $325 million in Enron stock as newspapers were pronouncing the firm’s demise. (Ken Lay, then-CEO of Enron, was an old family friend.) Bush went on to become an investment consultant for Lehman Brothers in the months after he left office in 2007, when it sold the Florida pension fund $800 million in worthless securitized mortgages.
The manager of the pension fund resigned over this outrage, but Bush again avoided scandal. ...AlJazeera.
Jeb likes guns and is anti public schools. He facilitated the death penalty but stood against choice. He's anti-labor with a record as a union-buster.
"The more voters pick through the Bush legacy in Florida, the less they will find to like." Greenbaum writes.
Rampant problems with handling of evidence have been found at the Federal Bureau of Investigations, adding to the picture of a widespread breakdown in our law enforcement at all levels.
The report’s findings, based on a review of more than 41,000 pieces of evidence in F.B.I. offices around the country, could have consequences for criminal investigations and prosecutions. Lawyers can use even minor record-keeping discrepancies to get evidence thrown out of court, and the F.B.I. was alerting prosecutors around the country on Friday that they may need to disclose the errors to defendants.
Many of the problems cited in the report appear to be hiccups in the F.B.I.’s transition to a computer system known as Sentinel, which went online in 2012 and was intended to move the bureau away from a case-management system based on paper files. But other problems, including materials that disappeared or were taken from F.B.I. evidence rooms and not returned, are more serious.
“A majority of the errors identified were due in large part to human error, attributable to a lack of training and program management oversight,” auditors wrote in the report, which was obtained by The New York Times.
Evidence has gone missing, including 70% of all guns.
Behind all those blacked-out names in so many documents we get to see, thanks to the "Freedom" of Information Act, is the name of a woman in the CIA who's at the very center of the decisions to torture, a woman who could have prevented 9/11 from happening. It's that bad. When we try to figure out who was really behind 9/11, we have to begin with CIA.
Jane Mayer reports on the latest revelation discovery.
The NBC News investigative reporter Matthew Cole has pieced together a remarkable story revealing that a single senior officer, who is still in a position of high authority over counterterrorism at the C.I.A.—a woman who he does not name—appears to have been a source of years’ worth of terrible judgment, with tragic consequences for the United States. Her story runs through the entire report. She dropped the ball when the C.I.A. was given information that might very well have prevented the 9/11 attacks; she gleefully participated in torture sessions afterward; she misinterpreted intelligence in such a way that it sent the C.I.A. on an absurd chase for Al Qaeda sleeper cells in Montana. And then she falsely told congressional overseers that the torture worked. ...
... Many people who have worked with her over the years expressed shock to NBC that she has been entrusted with so much power. A former intelligence officer who worked directly with her is quoted by NBC, on background, as saying that she bears so much responsibility for so many intelligence failures that “she should be put on trial and put in jail for what she has done.”
Instead, however, she has been promoted to the rank of a general in the military, most recently working as the head of the C.I.A.’s global-jihad unit. In that perch, she oversees the targeting of terror suspects around the world. (She was also, in part, the model for the lead character in “Zero Dark Thirty.”)so, in part, the model for the lead character in “Zero Dark Thirty.”) ...Mayer,NewYorker
Mayer suggests that the original failures to prevent 9/11 may have led directly to the use -- and the fierce and false defense -- of torture.
The Senate ruled out the use of pseudonyms in its report, making accountability for 9/11 and the subsequent use of illegal, hard-core, torture impossible.
The long-term suspicion that there was no historical figure that corresponds to "Jesus Christ" is now solidly proven. Of course, they would have to publicize this during the Christmas season, but at least it shows some honesty about what makes Christmas so real for most of us.
... There are no existing eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus. All we have are later descriptions of Jesus’ life events by non-eyewitnesses, most of whom are obviously biased. Little can be gleaned from the few non-Biblical and non-Christian sources, with only Roman scholar Josephus and historian Tacitus having any reasonable claim to be writing about Jesus within 100 years of his life. And even those sparse accounts are shrouded in controversy, with disagreements over what parts have obviously been changed by Christian scribes (the manuscripts were preserved by Christians), the fact that both these authors were born after Jesus died (they would thus have probably received this information from Christians), and the oddity that centuries go by before Christian apologists start referencing them.
Agnosticism over the matter is already seemingly appropriate, and support for this position comes from independent historian Richard Carrier’srecent defense of another theory — namely, that the belief in Jesus started as the belief in a purely celestial being (who was killed by demons in an upper realm), who became historicized over time. ...WaPo
Whatever remains of Jesus in our culture deserves to be severed from Christmas in the way we celebrate it. For those who believe and embrace the figure -- even if he is just a symbol -- of Jesus, it's probably a good idea to sever that belief from our celebration of Christmas.
(Yessir. We have this all figured out. Let's take Cuba back to the Batista days when, between corporate pillaging and the mob's sweaty grip on government and commerce, the most corrupt forms of capitalism ruled. That's our version of "normalizing" relations with that country.)
President Obama has been lambasted for spying in Brazil, accused of being a warmonger by Bolivia, dismissed as a “lost opportunity” by Argentina, and taunted in Nicaragua by calls for Latin America to draw up its own list of state sponsors of terrorism — with the United States in the No. 1 spot.
But now Latin American leaders have a new kind of vocabulary to describe him: They are calling him “brave,” “extraordinary” and “intelligent.”
After years of watching his influence in Latin America slip away, Mr. Obama suddenly turned the tables this week by declaring a sweeping détente with Cuba, opening the way for a major repositioning of the United States in the region. ...NYT
The Cuba move may turn out to be the most significant of Obama's president -- the top of the list, the most memorable achievement. While we're still stuck in the mode that puts Central Asia and Europe and the continental US at the top of our list of "most important" areas of concern, the future puts Latin America, southeast Asia, and the African continent in the spotlight. Our geopolitical snobbery does not serve us well. Nor does our dismissal of climate change as a major determinant in who survives economically and who doesn't.
“Our previous Cuba policy was clearly an irritant and a drag on our policy in the region,” said Roberta S. Jacobson, the American assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, adding that it had caused friction even with countries friendly to Washington. She said that countries “with whom we have significant differences are going to be, let’s say, thrown off their stride by a move like this.”
“It removes an excuse for blaming the United States for things,” she added. ...NYT
Reagan's actions in Central America will keep our reputation in the mud for a long time. But at least we're over the disgrace of our decision to shun Cuba. Maybe some history lessons focusing on how we assisted in the creation of Fidel Castro would make sense -- though they would have a tough time getting past the Texas schoolbook censors.
But, for now -- and thanks to Obama -- a lousy, damaging, paranoid US policy has ended.
“There will be radical and fundamental change,” said Andrés Pastrana, a former president of Colombia. “I think that to a large extent the anti-imperialist discourse that we have had in the region has ended. The Cold War is over.” ...NYT
Paul Krugman comes up with the hard facts on why Jeb Bush wasn't a great governor of Florida. The most noticeable aspect of his governorship was the extent to which he made out like a bandit once he was out of office. "Cashed in," is how Krugman puts it.
So he wasn’t an exceptional governor, or actually an exceptional anything — except maybe exceptionally good at cashing in after leaving office. Why, exactly, is he running?
He likes money?
What strikes me over and over again is how Republicans mess up their own wins. Six weeks after a decisive win in the midterms, the Congressional Republicans seem no closer to figuring out how to govern -- how, even, to just act as a political party concerned with the people they're supposed to govern than they were a year ago. They appear to be meandering about, looking at each other and certainly not at any of us. While they're breathing indoor air and mucking around, Obama rescued America from a 50-year mess it had gotten itself into.
Pretty spectacular. Certainly the President's month post-defeat contrasts with the negativism and in-fighting of the "winners."
Kevin Drum lays out 37 days of hard work at the White House.
November 10: Surprised everyone by announcing his support for strong net neutrality.
November 11: Concluded a climate deal with China that was not only important in its own right, but has since been widely credited with jumpstarting progress at the Lima talks last week.
November 20: Issued an executive order protecting millions of undocumented workers from the threat of deportation.
November 26: Signed off on an important new EPA rule significantly limiting ozone emissions.
December 15: Took a quiet victory lap as Western financial sanctions considerably sharpened the pain of Vladimir Putin's imploding economy.
December 16: Got nearly everything he wanted during the lame duck congressional session, and more. Democrats confirmed all important pending nominees, and then got Republican consent to several dozen lesser ones as well.
December 17: Announced a historic renormalization of relations with Cuba.
I guess you can add to that a non-event: In its second year, Obamacare signups are going smoothly and ahead of target. Am I missing anything beyond that? Maybe. It's been quite the whirlwind month for our bored, exhausted, disengaged president, hasn't it? ...Drum,MoJo