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Friday Mid-Morning News and Views

For me the biggest news of the day comes from Jeremy Scahill’s revelations about the relationship between Blackwater (aka Xe) head Eric Prince and the CIA. According to Scahill Prince has been working as a CIA asset for years, and that Blackwater contractors with U.S. backing are effectively engaging in a covert war in Pakistan.

In addition, Scahill revealed that there are more than 100,000 contractors in Afghanistan now in addition to the 100,000 U.S. military troops who will be there after Obama’s latest troop “surge.” Scahill wrote the cover story for this week’s The Nation. Unfortunately the story is not yet available on-line to non-subscribers. However Scahill did appear on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program last night. Here is the video.

A few days ago, Scahill also talked about his latest Blackwater research in an interview with Laura Flanders:

There is also a major story on Eric Prince in the January issue of Vanity Fair.

I put myself and my company at the C.I.A.’s disposal for some very risky missions,” says Erik Prince as he surveys his heavily fortified, 7,000-acre compound in rural Moyock, North Carolina. “But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus.” Prince—the founder of Blackwater, the world’s most notorious private military contractor—is royally steamed. He wants to vent. And he wants you to hear him vent.

I haven’t had time to read the full interview yet. I hope to get to it over the weekend.


In other news….

Top Congressional Researcher on Afghanistan Fired

The top congressional official who oversees research on foreign policy and defense issues, including the war in Afghanistan, has been fired from his job after publishing a newspaper op-ed criticizing the Obama administration’s recent decision about bringing Guantánamo detainees to trial.

Morris Davis, the assistant director of the Congressional Research Service’s foreign policy and defense division and the former chief prosecutor of the U.S. military commissions, says that the American Civil Liberties Union plans to challenge his dismissal in a letter to CRS’s longtime director, Daniel Mulhollan, on Friday. The letter will contend that Mulhollan violated Davis’s First Amendment rights to free speech by firing him and will threaten the service with a lawsuit if he is not reinstated, says an ACLU spokeswoman.

Politico thinks the Massachusetts Senate Race is boring Could that be because a woman–Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley–is leading the race by double digits? Politico seems disappointed that there are no Kennedys in the race. Massachusetts citizens are more interested in electing a Senator who will be responsive to their needs than having a celebrity studded primary.

Get this–according to Politico, Michael Capuano, Coakley’s nearest rival, is terrified of a “Rick Lazio moment.”

“We all learned from his mistake,” Capuano said in an interview of the former New York congressman’s debate badgering of Hillary Clinton, which has become political shorthand for what male candidates ought not to do against female opponents. “There are certain rules of engagement.”

It’s not just debates where the gender issue has surfaced — it hangs over the campaign because of the otherwise liberal state’s not-so-progressive history when it comes to women candidates….

…in last year’s historic Democratic presidential primary, much of the state’s political establishment — including the governor and both senators — rallied behind the man over the woman.

“That left a bad taste in women’s mouths,” said Marsh, adding that it seems to be playing out again this year, with nearly all of the men in the House delegation backing their colleague.

Oh really? Izzat so. Poor Mikey C., getting beat up by woman because of the “rules of engagement.”

Also from Politico, a number of opinion leaders weigh in on whether Ben Bernacke should get four more years as head of the Fed.

President Obama is running some PR operation and calling it a “jobs summit,” but The New York Times reports that there won’t be any money to speak of to back up any job creation effort by the administration. That’s as to be expected–unlimited funds for bankers and war, while middle-class, working-class, and poor Americans can go f**k themselves.

Mr. Obama said he would entertain “every demonstrably good idea” for creating jobs, but he cautioned that “our resources are limited.”

The president said he would announce some new ideas of his own next week. One of those, he indicated when he participated in a discussion group on clean energy, would be a program of weatherization incentives for homeowners and small businesses modeled on the popular “cash for clunkers” program.

What about the people who have lost their houses Mr. President–and the people who were already homeless? What kind of weatherization program will you recommend for them. I can’t wait for the big speech!

The Wall Street Journal reports that Allentown, PA workers and business people may not welcome President Obama’s “Main Street tour” with open arms.


Main Street Tour Faces Frosty Greeting

When President Barack Obama launches a multicity tour Friday to take Main Street’s temperature, he will likely get a cool reception from business leaders and workers here who say he hasn’t delivered.

Swing voters in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley helped Mr. Obama win this pivotal, populous state. But the region’s jobless rate inched up another half percentage point in October to 9.8%. About 41,000 people are out of work, the highest number since 1984.

Finally, here’s a “just for fun” story:


Cat Cams: What DO Cats Do Home Alone?

Fifty house cats were given collar cameras that took a photo every 15 minutes. The results put a digital dent in some human theories about catnapping.

Based on the photos, about 22 percent of the cats’ time was spent looking out of windows, 12 percent was used to interact with other family pets and 8 percent was spent climbing on chairs or kitty condos. Just 6 percent of their hours were spent sleeping.

What are you reading this morning? Please post links in the comments.


HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!

Martha Coakley for President Open Thread

I can’t reload that earlier thread anymore, so here’s a new one. From The Boston Globe:

Coakley: I oppose more US troops to Afghanistan

The Democratic front-runner in the race to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy issued a statement saying, “I believe we should begin the process of bringing our troops home.”

Coakley has said repeatedly she trusted President Barack Obama but would wait to hear him make his case if he wanted to increase the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Yet two days before Obama is scheduled to address the nation on the subject, Coakley said “based on what I know now,” she does not support a troop increase….

Coakley said she is “very concerned” the case for more troops still has not been made. And she believes there is no evidence Afghan President Hamid Karzai “is a legitimate or trustworthy partner.”

We need a President with guts. Of course the last time we had a President who had the courage to speak up to the generals, he was shot down on the street in Dallas.

Ray McGovern at Truthout:

as he studied the options, cost and likely outcomes, Kennedy came to see U.S. intervention in Vietnam as a fool’s errand. Few Americans are aware that, just before he was assassinated, Kennedy had decided to pull all troops out of Vietnam by 1965.

The Pentagon was hell bent on thwarting such plans, and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara found it an uphill struggle to enforce the President’s will on the top brass. Senior military officers were experts at “slow-rolling” politicians who favored a course that the Pentagon didn’t like.
When in May 1962 Kennedy ordered up a contingency troop-withdrawal plan, it took more than a year for the military brass to draw one up.

[….]

Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff, to whom fell the task of announcing President Kennedy’s death on Nov. 22, 1963, told James Douglass, author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, that Kennedy’s mind was fixed on Vietnam the day before. Instead of rehearsing for a press conference that day, Kennedy told Kilduff:

“I’ve just been given a list of the most recent casualties in Vietnam. We’re losing too damned many people over there. It’s time for us to get out. The Vietnamese are not fighting for themselves. We’re the ones who are doing the fighting.
“After I come back from Texas, that’s going to change. There is no reason for us to lose another man over there. Vietnam is not worth another American life.”

Kennedy never returned from Texas and the war went on. Sadly, Obama is no John Kennedy.

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Martha Coakley is a Shoo-In for the Massachusetts Senate Nomination!!

nancy_pelosi

Angry about being upstaged by Coakley?

Breaking News from Politico: Pelosi Endorses Capuano!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be endorsing Rep. Michael Capuano in the Massachusetts Senate special election, choosing her House colleague over Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is seeking to become the first female senator in the state.

Pelosi will be heading to Boston tomorrow morning to make the formal endorsement….

In her statement, Pelosi noted Capuano’s support for the historic health care legislation that she shepherded through the House. Coakley said she opposed the legislation that passed through the House because it contained a provision restricting federal funds from going to abortion providers.

Coakley

Martha Coakley for President!! **

Coakley was way ahead of all the other candidates anyway, but now that sex-traitor* Nancy Pelosi has endorsed her challenger, Martha can’t possibly lose!

Go Martha Go!! You can contribute to Coakley’s campaign here.

 

 

This is an open thread.

* h/t Dakinikat for the “sex-traitor” terminology
** h/t Quixote for the “Martha Coakley for President” idea

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Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is First Candidate for Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat

MA Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley

MA Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley

The Boston Globe reports that currrent Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has begun her campaign to fill recently deceased Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s seat in the Senate. Although she hasn’t officially announced her candidacy, Coakley stopped by the Secretary of State’s office this morning to get the required nomination papers.

Coakley’s nascent campaign picked up the documents from the secretary of state’s elections division. She now needs to gather 10,000 certified voter signatures to qualify for the Dec. 8 Democratic primary. Those signatures must be submitted to city and town election officials for certification by Oct. 20.

Coakley has been quietly been putting together her Senate campaign over the past year….She has told associates she will run for the seat even if a Kennedy family member enters the race. Joseph P. Kennedy II is said to be eyeing the race; people close to the family have said the late senator’s wife, Vicki, is not interested in the seat. Three members of Congress — Edward J. Markey, Stephen F. Lynch, and Michael Capuano — are also considering running.

Ed O’Reilly, who ran against Senator John Kerry in the 2008 primary, may also run. It sounds like a crowded field. It should be exciting. Personally, I’d like to see a woman represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, and I’m convinced Coakley would do an excellent job.

The New York Times’ The Caucus blog says that the Massachusetts state legislature will consider whether Governor Deval Patrick should be permitted to appoint someone to fill the seat until the special election on Jan. 19.

I really don’t see why that is necessary. Patrick may just want to give his own pick a leg up–although with Patrick’s approval rating at only 19% in the most recent poll, his imprimatur may spell the kiss of death for the candidate of his choice.

On Martha Coakley, The Caucus reports that

Ms. Coakley, who was overwhelmingly elected attorney general in 2006, has long been considered a possible contender for an open Senate seat.

The Associated Press reported earlier this year that in both 2004 and 2008, Ms. Coakley opened a bank account that financed polling to explore her chances for a Senate seat. She told the Boston Globe in April that the account is inactive but open….

Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University, said the ambitions of Ms. Coakley, who has risen rapidly from prosecutor to county district attorney to attorney general, are well-known.

“She’s moved up the ladder quite quickly,” Professor Berry said. “She’s had her eye on a Senate seat and has been waiting for the call, and it finally came.”

So far no one has called Martha Coakley the “B” word, but I suppose that will inevitably happen, as it does to most powerful women. She also supported Hillary Clinton in the primary, and that may be held against her by Obama fans.

John Kerry for State? Good! Make Way for the 30% Solution!

Larry Johnson reports that he heard some gossip about Obama’s national security appointments at an event in DC last night.

Just got back from an event in Washington and had the chance to speak with some folks who are in the know about Barack’s national security team. Here’s the latest:

Secretary of State. JOHN KERRY. Here is the interesting background. Kerry called Hillary Clinton before announcing his endorsement. He said he would endorse her if she would promise him the SecState position. Hillary said no. Next stop–Obama town. Barack said yes and in early January John Kerry announced for Obama. So far so good. One minor problem. Barack made the same promise to Bill Richardson (please understand, Barack is not the first politician to promise different people the same thing). However, turns out two close associates of Richardson are under a sealed indictment expected to become public shortly. Ergo, John Kerry will be the new Secretary of State. Wes Clark ain’t even on the list.

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