Oh, Donald Trump. The only man brave enough to say the things nobody else wants to say because they’re ugly even by the standards of today’s broken American politics:
"Nobody wants to say this and nobody wants to shut down religious institutions or anything, but you know, you understand it. A lot of people understand it. We’re going to have no choice," the Republican presidential said in an interview from Trump Tower on Fox News' "Hannity" on Tuesday night.
“Absolutely no choice,” in fact. This is an upgrade (or downgrade) from Monday, when Trump was just saying he’d “strongly consider” closing mosques. As for Syrian refugees, Trump’s totally unsurprising position is that:
"We can't take a chance. You know, if you take thousands of people, and again I hear it's going to be many more than what you're talking about right now. But if you take thousands of people, Sean, all you need is a couple. You know, you don't need 25, you don't need 100," he said. "Look at the damage done in Paris with just a few people."
Why, one person could walk into a theater or a school and kill one or even two dozen people, all by himself. And if we don’t let Syrian refugees into this country, that could never happen! We’re completely safe as long as we reject vulnerable victims of war and make gun ownership ridiculously easy. But we better close the mosques at which Muslim citizens worship, just to be extra safe.
The only thing coherent and consistent here is the appeal to fear.
The Koch brothers are really going to have to kick their public relations efforts into high gear now to make the latest revelation about their nefarious efforts to acquire the U.S. system of governance in a hostile takeover look like politics as usual. They have a "secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence-gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life." No, it's not April Fool's Day. They're really doing this.The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as "competitive intelligence" that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network.
The competitive intelligence team has a staff of 25, including one former CIA analyst, and operates from one of the non-descript Koch network offices clustered near the Courthouse metro stop in suburban Arlington, Va. It has provided network officials with documents detailing confidential voter-mobilization plans by major Democrat-aligned groups. It also sends regular "intelligence briefing" emails tracking the canvassing, phone-banking and voter-registration efforts of labor unions, environmental groups and their allies, according to documents reviewed by POLITICO and interviews with a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the group.
The competitive intelligence team has gathered on-the-ground intelligence from liberal groups' canvassing events in an effort to assess the technology and techniques of field efforts to boost Democrats, according to the sources. And they say the team utilizes high-tech tactics to track the movements of liberal organizers, including culling geo-data embedded in their social media posts.
Is this all just kind of creepy? No. It's extremely creepy.
Three days after a Minneapolis officer fired the shot that eventually proved to be fatal for black resident Jamar Clark, the most basic of questions remains: was Clark handcuffed when he was shot or not? Witnesses claimed from the outset Sunday that Clark was handcuffed while he was shot. However, preliminary police accounts say that Clark was not handcuffed. The discovery of a pair of handcuffs on the scene, revealed by state investigators, adds credence to witness accounts. According to the AP:
Police initially said Jamar ONeal Clark was not handcuffed when he was shot, but authorities later said handcuffs were at the scene and that they are trying to determine whether Clark was restrained.
"We're still examining whether or not they were on Mr. Clark or whether or not they were just (fallen) at the scene. That's what we're trying to ascertain," state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said at a news conference Tuesday.
According to police accounts, Clark was suspected of assaulting a woman, believed to be Clark’s girlfriend, and attempting to interfere with medical responders early Sunday morning when an officer apprehended him. The brief struggle ended with a single gunshot to Clark’s head. After being rushed to the hospital, he was taken off life support Monday and was confirmed dead on Tuesday.
Read more below.
French officials say more terror attacks thwarted after overnight raid—2 suspects killed, 7 detained
French officials say an overnight raid proves France is “at war”:
A violent, hours-long operation in a Paris suburb ended Wednesday with two suspected terrorists dead, seven detained, new attacks potentially thwarted and further proof, according to French President Francois Hollande, that his country is "at war" with ISIS.
The Saint-Denis raid targeted the purported ringleader of last week's bloody Paris attacks and came as the suspects were "about to move on some kind of operation," according to police sources.
A female suspect blew herself up with a suicide vest during a police raid, injuring five police officers and killing a police dog named Diesel. Sustained gunfire and explosions were heard throughout the night. North Paris resident Johan Richer captured video of the nearby raids, which sound remarkably close to his home. He posted video of the nightmarish scene, which can be viewed below.
German officials remain on high alert after Turkish police nabbed eight more ISIS-linked suspects who were bound for Germany::
Turkish police detained eight ISIS-linked suspects who'd arrived at an Istanbul airport from Casablanca, Turkish police said Wednesday, according to the semi-official Anadolu news agency. The eight Moroccans said they had booked a hotel in Turkey and were preparing to head to Germany -- via Greece, Serbia and Hungary -- the report added, pointing to a document seized by police laying out the travel route.
President Obama is out of the country, but he had a lot to say about the fear-mongering coming from so many Republican politicians about allowing Syrian refugees into this country. Of course, he said, “we have to be vigilant,” stressing the 18 to 24 months it currently takes to clear a refugee to come into the United States. But there’s vigilance and then there’s hateful paranoia being used for political ends:
When candidates say, we wouldn't admit three-year-old orphans -- that’s political posturing. When individuals say that we should have a religious test and that only Christians—proven Christians—should be admitted—that’s offensive and contrary to American values.
I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate. ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there is a war between Islam and the West. And when you start seeing individuals in positions of responsibility, suggesting that Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative. It’s counterproductive, and it needs to stop.
And I would add, by the way, these are the same folks oftentimes who suggest that they’re so tough that just talking to Putin or staring down ISIL, or using some additional rhetoric somehow is going to solve the problems out there. But apparently, they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. First, they were worried about the press being too tough on them during debates. Now they’re worried about three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.
Preach! Seriously, all these self-identified tough guys are now selling pure fear.
Obama said that if any of the politicians insisting that they’re just trying to ensure the safety of the American people have concrete suggestions for making the process to screen refugees better and stronger, his administration will listen. But he made it abundantly clear that he has no patience for all this posturing.
French President, unlike the Republican Party, refuses to appease ISIS and will take 30,000 refugees
Since Friday’s horrific attacks in Paris, the Republican Party has delighted ISIS by tripping over themselves to declare that the United States shouldn’t take in Syrian refugees because … uh … well, because even if they didn’t have anything to do with the attacks, they are Muslims, so why not equate all of them with the terrorists who murdered at least 129 people last week? After all, their base loves it. French President François Hollande, on the other hand, decided that France would not bow down to terrorists:x
NEW: Pres. Hollande commits to taking 30,000 refugees in next 2 years; says France has duty to honor that commitment. “Life must go on.”— ABC News (@ABC) November 18, 2015
So there you have it: A principled, humane stand against terrorism versus cowardly fear-mongering. Of course this shouldn’t come as any surprise given that the last brave thing the Republican Party did was to rename french fries in the congressional cafeteria … you remember, to mock the cowardly French.
Tuff guy Republicans are out of their gourds over Syrian refugees, and it looks like the Paris attackers weren’t even Syrian. And on top of that, we’re in single digits in terms of the number of legislative days left before another government shutdown.
Speaking of which, we’re due for a Joan McCarter-in’!
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Look up David Waldman on Recurrency.us. Look at all the good reviews people have given KITM! You have thought similar things as well, so now is the time to consider donating, maybe? Republicans want just a little less rights for one religion that is just a little less than theirs. The Governors will protect us (like they did from Ebola)! The press asks—and asks, asks, and asks why won’t the President do what he’s been doing all along? Greg Dworkin points out the idea was the same in 1939, wonder what happened to those kids? Latino voters also note the Gop mean streak. The world unites against ISIS, but along the front lines few define their support in the same way. After Paris, US movie goers from the left and the right unite in demanding heavily enforced gun-free zones. Stingray phone trackers, capable of taking information from your phone, as well as block your calls, and track your activity, wouldn’t be used on you, of course, just bad guys. Which is why they are on the wish list of local police departments. Ben Carson, a very bad boy now reformed, has been revealed doing more bad things in his past. This time plagiarism, which you know got the attention of Plagiarism Today. Plastic Microbeads, once in toothpaste and body washes, do not go away, and so have eventually gone everywhere, including Chinese sea salt. If you are a terrorist and would like help, there is a 24 hour Jihadi Help Desk.(Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!)
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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…
Sanity BreakGroovy orb, man.
Since our world seems to be in the shop for repairs, here's a cool new glimpse at another one. NASA wants you to believe that "New Horizons scientists made this false color image of Pluto using a technique called principal component analysis to highlight the many subtle color differences between Pluto's distinct regions." They say this because, if the truth were known, Republicans would get all pissy and re-double their efforts to defund the agency.
But I have it on good authority---in fact, the same authority that confirmed to Ben Carson that the Chinese had staged a massive amphibious landing in Syria---that these are the actual tie-dye colors of what the space agency itself calls "psychedelic Pluto."
That's right, kids. It's not a dwarf planet, after all. It's a hippie planet. Someone get me Buzz Aldrin on the horn. We got some colonizin’ to do.
Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
• LA-Gov: With just days to go before Saturday's runoff, Louisiana's gubernatorial race has become as dispiritingly awful as it's possible for politics in America to get. Republican Sen. David Vitter decided to find the foulest gutter he could dive into and guzzle like a thirsty camel, with a revolting new ad that uses actual footage of the Paris terrorist attacks to attack both refugees and his opponent, Democrat John Bel Edwards:One of Paris ISIS terrorists entered France posing as a Syrian refugee. Now Obama is sending Syrian refugees to Louisiana. David Vitter warned Obama the dangers of Syrian refugees weeks ago and promised as governor no Syrian refugees will enter Louisiana. John Bel Edwards has pledged to work with Obama to bring Syrian refugees to Louisiana.
The ad then tendentiously features a clip of Edwards saying, "I supported the president"—a clip recycled from an October candidate forum in which Edwards was asked who he backed in the 2012 presidential election—followed by the narrator declaring, "He always does." We don't know what Vitter is spending on this garbage, but Politico's Kevin Robillard says the spot is airing statewide. The Fund for Louisiana's Future, a pro-Vitter super PAC, is also running a similarly disgusting ad that features footage of what are presumably ISIS troops.
Depressingly, there isn't much daylight on this issue between Vitter and Edwards, who fired back with a new ad of his own saying that he "immediately called for an end to bringing Syrian refugees to Louisiana" after the Paris attacks and accusing Vitter of "distorting the facts and trying to use this tragedy to save his desperate campaign." Edwards also hits Vitter for skipping congressional hearings on the refugee crisis. At least Edwards just speaks directly to the camera and doesn't deploy the same kind of fear-mongering rhetoric or scary imagery, but this is all still so dismaying.
On the non-refugee front, the campaigns have also traded some fresh blows on the airwaves. Another Vitter spot criticizes Edwards for skipping a candidate forum, saying he instead invited voters to join him "for free drinks" at a "strip club," then "hauled them on a party bus for early voting." The whole ad is basically a racial dog whistle—just watch to see what we mean. And what makes this all so chutzpahdik is that Vitter himself ducked many debates before the primary, and was called on it by his opponents.
Yeah. I'd say I'm sick of the party of strong national security crapping the bed everytime something bad occurs in this wicked world.— Thomas Levenson (@TomLevenson) November 17, 2015
Philip Bump covers a new idea from John Kasich:
What jumps out is Kasich's description of this new government effort: A propaganda organization with a "mandate" to promote "Judeo-Christian" values.
Curious about the constitutionality of such a thing, we called New York University civil liberties professor Burt Neuborne, former legal director of the ACLU and founding legal director of the Brennan Center for Justice.
"The 'Judeo-Christian' phrase, my sense is, is an unfortunate phrase by the governor," Neuborne said. "What he really means is historically the values associated with Western culture. That's just politician-talk when he calls it 'Judeo-Christian.'" That idea is validated by Kasich's description of what those values are. Democracy and free speech, of course, are not fundamentally 'Judeo-Christian' ideas.
President Obama on Wednesday angrily accused Republicans of feeding into the Islamic State's strategy of casting the United States as waging war on Muslims, saying the GOP's rhetoric has become the most "potent recruitment tool" for the militant group.
Obama was responding to recent calls from Republicans, including presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), to block Syrian refugees' entrance into the United States. Bush and Cruz have suggested welcoming Christian refugees, but not those who are Muslims.
"I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate," Obama said during a news conference at a leadership summit here, using an acronym for the Islamic State.x
Obama: "They've been playing on fear to score political pts or to advance their campaigns. It needs to stop because the world is watching."— Roger Simon (@politicoroger) November 18, 2015
IDENTIFIED ASSAILANTS ARE E.U. NATIONALS: Although the Paris terror attacks appear to have been partially planned or coordinated by Islamic State operatives in the Middle East, all the identified assailants are so farcitizens of European Union countries. This suggests that their radicalization was likely homegrown on the continent, and not imported via an exodus of beleaguered Syrian refugees.
According to the Post's own graphic tracking the case, three out of the eight known assailants remain unidentified. Only one man is known to be alive. French officials confirmed on Tuesday that they were looking for a ninth suspect connected to the attacks.