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Friday, November 17, 2017

President Donald Trump responded to sexual misconduct allegations against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on Thursday, referring to a photo that surfaced from 2006 ... But as of Thursday, he has yet to comment on the mounting misconduct accusations against Alabama Senate GOP nominee Roy Moore, a week after the Washington Post reported the first allegations involving Moore, then in his 30s, targeting girls as young as 14. Republicans, especially right-wing media outlets, seized on the deluge of allegations last month against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, a prominent Democratic campaign donor. They have continually brought up sexual misconduct involving former President Bill Clinton, often when discussing former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. But Republicans have been less willing to denounce such behavior when it involves people on their end of the political spectrum, including Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, Moore and even Trump himself. read more

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city. A convoy included some of IS's most notorious members and – despite reassurances – dozens of foreign fighters. Some of those have spread out across Syria, even making it as far as Turkey. The deal to let IS fighters escape from Raqqa – de facto capital of their self-declared caliphate – had been arranged by local officials. It came after four months of fighting that left the city obliterated and almost devoid of people. It would spare lives and bring fighting to an end. The lives of the Arab, Kurdish and other fighters opposing IS would be spared. But it also enabled many hundreds of IS fighters to escape from the city. At the time, neither the US and British-led coalition, nor the SDF, which it backs, wanted to admit their part.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Gadsden woman says Roy Moore groped her while she was in his law office on legal business with her mother in 1991. Moore was married at that time. In interviews with AL.com, Tina Johnson recalls that in the fall of 1991 she sat in the law office of then-attorney Roy Moore on Third Street in Gadsden. Her mother, Mary Katherine Cofield, sat in the chair next to her. Moore sat behind his desk, across from them. Johnson remembers she was wearing a black and white dress. Almost from the moment she walked in to Moore's office, Johnson said, Moore began flirting with her. "He kept commenting on my looks, telling me how pretty I was, how nice I looked," recalled Johnson. "He was saying that my eyes were beautiful."

Johnson was 28 years old, in a difficult marriage headed toward divorce, and unemployed. She was at the office to sign over custody of her 12-year-old son to her mother, with whom he'd been living. Her mother had hired Moore to handle the custody petition. read more

On Tuesday, Roy Moore's attorney Trenton Garmon sent a demand letter to the Alabama Media Group, which runs the AL.com website, accusing the company of "defamation, libel & slander, fraud, malice, suppression, wanttonness, conspiracy, and negligence" for publishing women's sexual abuse allegations against Moore. A similar letter has reportedly also been sent to the Washington Post. The letter, which is full of both factual and grammatical errors, threatens a lawsuit, which would almost surely fail -- but it could intimidate outlets and prevent women from coming forward with accusations in the future. The threat may still serve as a media spectacle, a way for Moore to try convince voters and loyalists that he is fighting the allegations. But the letter's sloppily-made complaints arguably make Moore look even worse. read more

The whole point behind Republicans slashing the corporate tax rate is the GOP's assumption that it would spur massive capital investments, which would in turn boost the economy and create jobs. But yesterday, a room full of business leaders at CEO Council meeting send a pretty clear signal: the Republican assumptions aren't true. GOP policymakers are wrong, not just in general, but also about the key rationale behind their corporate tax policy.

President Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, looked out from the stage at a sea of CEOs and top executives in the audience Tuesday for the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council meeting. As Cohn sat comfortably onstage, a Journal editor asked the crowd to raise their hands if their company plans to invest more if the tax reform bill passes. Very few hands went up. Cohn looked surprised. "Why aren't the other hands up?" he said. (You can watch the clip here) read more


And let me say a couple of more things as it regards LeeAnn Tweeden. I know that I'm not the only one here who saw the various "defenses" wandering around the internet which implied that Ms. Tweeden has frequented Fox News shows and may been a pawn in the game of deflection from Moore's problems. Or that the photographer of the damning photo has alleged that she was feigning sleep and was in on the joke, and I'm sure there might be more where those came from. But none of these counter accusations has entered this thread in defense of Franken that I have noticed, and my bringing them up now is not to defend him, but to say I find their assertions without any merit whatsoever based upon Sen. Franken's own contrition and apology.

He quickly figured out that it simply doesn't matter what he believed about the incidents in question, it only matters from the perspective of the one who was hurt by his actions. If only the other men who've had victims of their predation step forward and recount their stories would have the same inkling of human empathy and compassion, then maybe we could actually move forward as a society and stop taking our respective corners on these issues until we first figure out which political team the perpetrators belong to and dutifully take our respective sides.

Wrong is wrong and victims should not be victimized yet again without direct compelling evidence that they aren't being truthful far beyond just the word of the accused when so many are telling stories that show a repeated pattern of predatory behavior and selfish disregard of the people involved. The stronger the accused attack their accusers, the more likely the accused used the same irrational thought process in doing what they were accused of doing in the first place.

Did any of you self-righteous "off with his head(ers)" take the time to read what the actual victim had to say about Franken's contrition and apology?

Later in the day, Jake Tapper talked to Leeann Tweeden for over a half hour. You can watch the whole thing, but I want to emphasize the fact that she accepted his apology. Then take a look at what she said when asked whether she wanted Franken to resign and if she wanted him to be punished (from 16:25 to 18:15)

First of all, she said that her intention was not for Franken to resign. When asked whether or not he should be punished, she said this:

"I just wanted him to apologize for that and say he was sorry ... I think that is where change is going to be driven from, not from the victims coming out and talking about it. I think it's going to come from the people who may be do the abusing and don't even realize they're doing the abusing because it's so a part of the culture ... When you think you can do it with impunity and get away with it, that's what's wrong with the culture. So if we can have the people doing the abusing change, that's when the change is going to occur."

No one on the planet wants to be defined by our worst moments, and there is no one who hasn't done or said something that would be extremely embarrassing were it to be made public. We shouldn't just be judging the acts themselves without giving proportional consideration to the perpetrator's response to the acts.

Therein lies all the difference in the world between Clinton, Trump, Moore, and Franken. Only one of them has admitted what they did was wrong and apologized to their victim(s). And that is the one so many want to skewer simply for the political affiliation behind his name and to take pressure off the other two from our other political party who continue to call their victims liars and other vile derisive names.

Here is Franken's full statement about this affair. Feel free to compare and contrast this to every single other person accused of unwarranted sexual acts and then see whether those seeking to establish hypocrisy can find any in Franken's words.

"The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing – and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine – is: I'm sorry.

"I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.

"But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us – including and especially men who respect women – have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.

"For instance, that picture. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it – women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.

"Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all. It's the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come to terms with that.

"While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences.

"I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.

"And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them." www.msnbc.com

My understanding is Clinton's accusers were acting alone. No?

This was one of the main reasons so many defended Bill Clinton because right wing agitators had always been intertwined with all the victims of Bill's transgressions. There may have been a point where the individual woman tried to make their cases without the help of partisan actors amplifying and funding their efforts, but I can't remember any. Big money and political power actors were catalysts in the Clinton allegations and helped keep them as a continual weapon to bludgeon him with possibly far beyond Clinton's own dubious actions warranted.

That is not the case at this moment with the accusers of Roy Moore, Gloria Alred notwithstanding. They are simply going on the record with their own recitations of his personal intrusions into their lives and stating the details as they understood them at that time. Many of them self identify as Republicans or conservatives, many of them Trump voters themselves - which has silently uncovered yet another paradox so far not discussed: Why would women who themselves were subjected to unwarranted conduct by a predator vote for another man accused by 17 other women of having sexually assaulted them in similar manners?

If anyone with an objective brain analyzed this they wouldn't see women prone to lie about their experiences with Moore, they would see just the opposite. Because for whatever reasons, even in their own victimhood, these women obviously didn't consider other women's allegations of sexual improprieties to stop them from supporting Donald Trump.

The report raises many questions. Why the shift of policy on the part of the U.S. government, particularly after all the blood and thunder about wiping out ISIS from Trump and his underlings? Was this truce agreement approved at the highest level, meaning by President Trump himself? What was his rationale, and doesn't he owe the country an explanation? If not, were local U.S. commanders empowered to make such an important decision, and in that case, did they seek input from our intelligence and security services about the implications of 250-plus heavily-armed ISIS fighters running loose in the Middle East? Was the congressional leadership informed in a timely manner?

The agreement allegedly did not permit foreign-born fighters to evacuate Raqqa in the convoy. Yet the truck drivers who ferried them out stated that "there was a huge number of foreigners. France, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi, China, Tunisia, Egypt ... " Were local U.S. commanders aware of that, and, if so, why did they acquiescence? And why were ISIS fighters allowed to evacuate with so much ammunition that, as one driver complained, it broke the axle of his truck?

There was also a suspiciously high ratio of purported "family members" evacuated; were they all voluntary departures, or might some of them have been hostages? Was this the only way to end the fight without the further leveling of Raqqa? Possibly so, but it would be good for administration officials to state this before a congressional committee while under oath.

It is common knowledge that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has funded and logistically supported ISIS. It is plausible that the Saudis, particularly under the energetic new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the virtual power behind the throne in the Kingdom, would be involved in any decision involving ISIS, a number of whose fighters were Saudi nationals. Since the crown prince gained power, Saudi Arabia has orchestrated the blockade of Qatar, held the Lebanese prime minister as a near-prisoner, used famine as a weapon against Yemen, and replaced Benjamin Netanyahu as the most active force trying to instigate war between America and Iran. Was there a diplomatic exchange between the Saudis and the United States over the Raqqa deal to preserve a Saudi "asset?"


Great questions worthy of real congressional investigation, right? Then "bring it on" so we can find out what happened behind this strategic policy decision with such wide-ranging potential ramifications.

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