Pham Thanh Cong, the director of the My Lai Museum, was eleven at the time of the massacre. His mother and four siblings died. “We forgive, but we do not forget,” he said.
CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY KATIE ORLINSKY
There is a long ditch in the village of My Lai. On the morning of March 16, 1968, it was crowded with the bodies of the dead—dozens of women, children, and old people, all gunned down by young American soldiers. Now, forty-seven years later, the ditch at My Lai seems wider than I remember from the news photographs of the slaughter: erosion and time doing their work. During the Vietnam War, there was a rice paddy nearby, but it has been paved over to make My Lai more accessible to the thousands of tourists who come each year to wander past the modest markers describing the terrible event. The My Lai massacre was a pivotal moment in that misbegotten war: an American contingent of about a hundred soldiers, known as Charlie Company, having received poor intelligence, and thinking that they would encounter Vietcong troops or sympathizers, discovered only a peaceful village at breakfast. Nevertheless, the soldiers of Charlie Company raped women, burned houses, and turned their M-16s on the unarmed civilians of My Lai. Among the leaders of the assault was Lieutenant William L. Calley, a junior-college dropout from Miami.
By early 1969, most of the members of Charlie Company had completed their tours and returned home. I was then a thirty-two-year-old freelance reporter in Washington, D.C. Determined to understand how young men—boys, really—could have done this, I spent weeks pursuing them. In many cases, they talked openly and, for the most part, honestly with me, describing what they did at My Lai and how they planned to live with the memory of it.
In testimony before an Army inquiry, some of the soldiers acknowledged being at the ditch but claimed that they had disobeyed Calley, who was ordering them to kill. They said that one of the main shooters, along with Calley himself, had been Private First Class Paul Meadlo. The truth remains elusive, but one G.I. described to me a moment that most of his fellow-soldiers, I later learned, remembered vividly. At Calley’s order, Meadlo and others had fired round after round into the ditch and tossed in a few grenades.
Then came a high-pitched whining, which grew louder as a two- or three-year-old boy, covered with mud and blood, crawled his way among the bodies and scrambled toward the rice paddy. His mother had likely protected him with her body. Calley saw what was happening and, according to the witnesses, ran after the child, dragged him back to the ditch, threw him in, and shot him.
The morning after the massacre, Meadlo stepped on a land mine while on a routine patrol, and his right foot was blown off. While waiting to be evacuated to a field hospital by helicopter, he condemned Calley. “God will punish you for what you made me do,” a G.I. recalled Meadlo saying.
“Get him on the helicopter!” Calley shouted.
Meadlo went on cursing at Calley until the helicopter arrived.
Meadlo had grown up in farm country in western Indiana. After a long time spent dropping dimes into a pay phone and calling information operators across the state, I found a Meadlo family listed in New Goshen, a small town near Terre Haute. A woman who turned out to be Paul’s mother, Myrtle, answered the phone. I said that I was a reporter and was writing about Vietnam. I asked how Paul was doing, and wondered if I could come and speak to him the next day. She told me I was welcome to try.
The Meadlos lived in a small house with clapboard siding on a ramshackle chicken farm. When I pulled up in my rental car, Myrtle came out to greet me and said that Paul was inside, though she had no idea whether he would talk or what he might say. It was clear that he had not told her much about Vietnam. Then Myrtle said something that summed up a war that I had grown to hate: “I sent them a good boy and they made him a murderer.”
Meadlo invited me in and agreed to talk. He was twenty-two. He had married before leaving for Vietnam, and he and his wife had a two-and-a-half-year-old son and an infant daughter. Despite his injury, he worked a factory job to support the family. I asked him to show me his wound and to tell me about the treatment. He took off his prosthesis and described what he’d been through. It did not take long for the conversation to turn to My Lai. Meadlo talked and talked, clearly desperate to regain some self-respect. With little emotion, he described Calley’s orders to kill. He did not justify what he had done at My Lai, except that the killings “did take a load off my conscience,” because of “the buddies we’d lost. It was just revenge, that’s all it was.”
CREDIT ILLUSTRATION BY TOM BACHTELL
Early last week, while the political world was waiting for Hillary Clinton to address the moral, diplomatic, and technological questions posed by her e-mail habits, the United Nations issued a report asserting that more than one in three women experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetimes. One in ten females under the age of twenty is subjected to “forced sexual acts.” In more than thirty countries, it is not illegal for men to beat their wives. In the United States, eighty-three per cent of girls between twelve and sixteen confront sexual harassment in school. Even the earnest bureaucrats of the U.N., who tend to favor euphemism and skip over cruelties like honor killings and “corrective rape,” could not help but label the rate and the variety of mayhem regularly exacted upon half of humankind as “alarmingly high.”
The report went on to say that female political representation, while creeping higher, is still depressingly low––not least in the world’s oldest constitutional democracy, the United States. The parliaments of South Africa, Ecuador, Finland, Senegal, Sweden, Cuba, Belgium, and Rwanda are all more than forty per cent female. The percentage of members in the U.S. House of Representatives who are women is eighteen. And, since it will soon be political high season on cable TV and at the town halls and diners of Iowa and New Hampshire, it bears repeating that no woman has ever been the President of the United States.
It was hard not to think of this status report on the condition of women in the twenty-first century while Hillary Clinton stepped into the lights before an agitated crowd of reporters at the U.N. last Tuesday. A large tapestry of “Guernica” hung behind her, and she looked no happier in that setting than the tormented figures in Picasso’s image of civil war. And yet contrition was not in her plans. Instead, she chose a familiar course, offering explanations that were by turns petulant and pretzelled. Asked about the way she chose to deal with federal guidelines on e-mail when she was the Secretary of State, she said, “I opted for convenience.” Clinton’s further explanations were so familiar, such a ride in the Wayback Machine, that you had to wonder, Why do I suddenly feel twenty years younger yet thoroughly exhausted?
The U.N. Secretary-General’s report is a progress report on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which grew out of the 1995 World Conference on Women. At that conference, Clinton, as First Lady, gave an unsparing assessment of so many of the grimmer aspects of the female condition: political exclusion, discrimination, rape as a weapon of war, genital cutting, forced illiteracy, forced abortion and sterilization. She performed in a way that suggested both conviction and political talent independent of her role as the President’s wife and counsellor. The speech was as eloquent in its way as Barack Obama’s “race speech,” in the 2008 campaign, not because of its radical originality––like Obama’s, it was rooted in decades of progressive thought––but because of its potential to affect policy and mainstream opinion. “It is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights” was a message she delivered with clarity, particulars, and force.
This was one reason that the press conference last week—given, presumably, as Clinton was preparing to announce a run for the Presidency, in 2016—was so dispiriting. At that moment at the U.N., she should have been returning to those feminist themes, but she used the opportunity to claim that she was only trying to protect the sanctity of her communications about her “yoga routines,” her daughter’s wedding, and her mother’s funeral. This was a notably transparent exploitation of gender. It’s one thing for a politician to be stupid; it is quite another for her to assume that we are. And what to make of a politician who protested the war in Vietnam and investigated the Watergate scandals but now writes a valentine to Henry Kissinger in the Washington Post—a book review in which Clinton calls Kissinger “surprisingly idealistic”? The peoples of Chile, Cambodia, Argentina, Bangladesh, and East Timor surely want to know more.
As the Clinton campaign machinery creaks into motion, voters, too, will want to know more. For one thing, who will compete with her? The likeliest Republican candidates do not exactly stride the earth as political colossi. Governor Scott Walker, of Wisconsin, is fast accumulating pots of right-wing money, but that is no guarantee that he can emerge from the ideological margins. Jeb Bush only recently secured his mother’s blessing to run and cannot hope to inspire a frenzy of support with the proposition that he is somewhat brighter than his retired older brother.
It is the job of the press to put pressure on power and on pretenders to power. Even in a solo primary race, reporters will scrutinize not only Hillary Clinton’s record but also her hawkish foreign-policy impulses, the dealings of the Clinton Global Initiative, and the contradiction between the need to ease the inequality gap and the candidate’s tropism toward big money. But, in the absence of a Democratic challenger, the pressure will never be what it ought to be.
The 2008 Democratic race was not just good sport; it also made both Obama and Clinton better. In the contest for the White House, the stakes are plain and enormous: the rights of women; the fate of the earth; the gaping disparities of income and opportunity; the stability of the Middle East, South Asia, and Europe. However vexed by the politics of gender, America is ready for a woman President. Long past ready. A female President committed to the kind of vision Clinton set out twenty years ago in Beijing could exert a powerful influence on the lives of women all over the world. But if, in the end, Hillary Clinton’s only competition is herself, if all she has to contend with is the press and her less attractive instincts, she will have gained a too easy path to power at the cost of being less prepared to exercise it.
There are twenty months left before Election Day, 2016. Bush v. Clinton, the likeliest race (though don’t count on it), promises endless discussion of families who are as familiar to us as the Simpsons. But where are the other candidates? What is behind the national impoverishment of political talent? Isn’t there a chance that the greatest nostalgia we might feel, come primary season, is not for earlier iterations of the Clintons and the Bushes but for the President who has not yet finished his time in office? ♦
Ku Klux Klan members hold a march in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 9, 1925.
Recently I tumbled on this story from Kansas Humanities — and an earlier post from Only A Game — about a 1925 baseball game between Wichita’s African-American team, the Monrovians, and the Ku Klux Klan.
Wait a minute. The Ku Klux Klan once had a baseball team?
Imagine: There was a time when the KKK was an out-in-the-open, part-of-the-community organization. I had always envisioned the repugnant and reprehensible lawbreakers operating in the cowardly shadows. After all, it was known as the Invisible Empire.
So, I wondered, if the KKK fielded a baseball team, what were some of the group’s other seemingly innocuous, All-American activities?
KKK Baby Contests
The 1920s were a bawdy, gaudy time in America: jazz wafting, flappers dancing, gangsters bootlegging, Wall Street rocking. And, as it turns out, the Ku Klux Klan was considered by many to be an accepted group in society.
In fact, the Klan was so mainstream in some parts of the country that local KKK groups “sponsored, in public, baseball teams, father-son outings, beautiful baby contests, weddings, baby christenings, junior leagues, road rallies, festivals,” says Kathleen M. Blee.
A sociology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Blee is also the author of Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement and Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s.
“In some places I studied in Indiana,” she says, “the local KKK was listed in the city directory, along with sewing clubs and agricultural societies.”
Of course, Blee emphasizes, the KKK was not “the innocuous club they pretended to be. They were virulently anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-Catholic, and some of their main leaders promoted expulsion and economic retribution against their ‘enemies.’ ”
But for a while, some American communities flirted with — even loved — the hate group.
Mountain Drones’ drone prototype can retrieve snowpack information remotely and perform avalanche mitigation from a safer distance. The start-up will be in town this week for the start of the Telluride Venture Accelerator’s 2015 session and plans to move business operations here permanently. [Courtesy photo/Warren Linde]
By Stephen Elliott
Published: Sunday, February 1, 2015 6:05 AM CST
Drones are all the rage these days. They crash into the White House, they’re used for experimental cinematography, and now, a company about to plant roots in Telluride is planning to use drones to combat avalanche danger.
“Living in Vail for a couple of years, we lost a few friends to avalanche incidents,” Brent Holbrook, one of the co-founders of Mountain Drones, said. “We were wondering if there was any way we could use this new technology to address that danger.”
Mountain Drones is one of five companies participating in the 2015 Telluride Venture Accelerator cohort, which begins Thursday with a kick off celebration, and Holbrook and the other Mountain Drones co-founder Warren Linde have said they plan to make the move to Telluride more permanent than the five-month business development program run by TVA and the Telluride Foundation.
“We think that Telluride is a great environment for us both from a natural resources perspective but also a business resources perspective,” Linde said.
* “It gives us access to the avalanche-prone terrain that we’re focused on and also the individuals that work in that landscape. It enables us to do further research and development.”
The guys at Mountain Drones were originally focused on beacon searches for lost avalanche victims, but decided to focus on the source of the problem rather than the result.
“Instead of starting with the problem, why don’t we start at the beginning and make the problem not happen as much?” Holbrook asked.
Holbrook, Linde and the rest of the team began initial development of their drone technology at the end of 2013 and worked on it throughout 2014. Though they aren’t revealing the specifics of their technology because they are still working on securing patents, they said they hope their drones can provide ski patrols and departments of transportation with timely and accurate snowpack information in addition to a safer alternative to the expensive and dangerous avalanche mitigation work currently done mostly by helicopter and Howitzer-launched explosives.
“With our technology we seek to keep department of transportation operators as well as ski patrol operators out of harm’s way and keep them out of situations where they could be exposing themselves to bodily harm or positioning themselves on a dangerous mountain face,” Linde said. “We’re utilizing our technology to keep humans out of harm’s way.”
Linde said the Colorado Department of Transportation is responsible for 278 out of 522 known avalanche paths statewide and that road closures cost the economy around $1 million per hour in economic development, making state departments of transportation an important target customer for Mountain Drones.
“We’ve been in touch with multiple ski patrol operations and CDOT and they’ve been very receptive. They’re all on our side and think it’s a great idea, a cost-effective and safer way to go about avalanche mitigation operations,” Holbrook said. “Avalanche mitigation hasn’t changed much since ski resorts were really established in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. We believe we have a safer and more effective way to do that.”
Avalanche country often overlaps with extreme weather conditions and high altitudes, creating a challenge for drone-based avalanche mitigation.
“Anyone can operate on a bluebird day,” Linde said. “A lot of our development efforts are focused on operations in high wind and high altitude environments.”
That’s another reason why Telluride is a good base for Mountain Drones.
“This is probably the toughest environment that you could fly one of the mechanisms in,” Holbrook said. “We’ve proven that it can be done with our initial prototype and the next prototype we’re looking to build even better.”
“If we can fly in this environment, we can fly in any environment,” he added.
This is the third cohort for TVA, with the first class of companies coming to Telluride in 2013 for business development work with mentors during the five-month program. Linde and Holbrook are excited about the opportunity to work with TVA mentors and other members of the Telluride community moving forward.
“We are excited about the mentors that are a part of the TVA program,” Linde said. “There will be strong support on both the technical and business sides. We’ll have some mentors that are business-minded and some other mentors out there in the field mitigating avalanches as we speak.”
Robert W. Craig, longtime Summit County local and founder of The Keystone Center, has died. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and friends at Colorado Acute Care Hospital in Denver, CO. He was 90 years old.
Robert W. Craig founded The Keystone Center in 1975 with the goal of addressing complex environmental and public policy issues affecting industry, government, and the environment by applying the discipline of science and bringing all relevant stakeholders to the table. At the time, Craig’s consensus-building approach was highly unorthodox among policy leaders whose approach to solving contentious issues was most often litigation.
Under Craig’s leadership, The Keystone Center built its reputation by tackling a number of groundbreaking policy issues, including nuclear waste, biotechnology, AIDS research and a myriad of natural resource issues. Keystone became known for both confronting tough issues and for bringing leaders with disparate positions to the mountains – a neutral space – to share perspectives and move toward collaborative solutions.
Born in California, Craig spent much of his youth between the golden state, Panama, where his father, a Naval officer, was stationed, and Seattle. Among these settings he cultivated a love for outdoor activities, particularly sailing and mountaineering.
“I grew up around boats all my life. My life is between the sea and the mountains,” he once told the Summit Daily in an interview.
Craig, who most frequently described himself as the “ultimate accidental tourist,” served in the U.S. Navy as an officer on an attack cargo ship (AKA 80) and was on the first naval ship to arrive in Nagasaki, Japan after the atomic bomb was dropped. He graduated in biology and philosophy from the University of Washington and Columbia University and was the first executive director and chief operating officer of the Aspen Institute from 1953 to 1965, as well as co-founder of the Aspen Center for Physics. He served as President of the American Alpine Club after a long career in mountaineering and led the first attempted American ascent of K2 in 1953, in addition to serving as a team member and leader of several Himalayan expeditions. His book, “Storm and Sorrow” is a detailed account of a harrowing expedition in the Pamirs in which Craig lost several teammates and nearly faced death himself. He was elected to the American Mountaineering Hall of Fame in 2009. When he left the Aspen Institute in 1963 he purchased and ran a cattle ranch near Aspen and then spent 10 years in the industrial design industry before coming to Keystone at the behest of his good friend Robert A. Maynard, who at the time was president of Keystone Resort.
“He asked me if I had another Aspen in me,” Craig once told the Summit Daily. “I said, well, not exactly Aspen, because I don’t think that it would be a good idea to copy what Aspen is doing, but I said I’d be interested in trying out an idea and that idea became The Keystone Center.”
“Today the world has lost a great man and a great leader,” said Christine Scanlan, CEO of The Keystone Center. “Robert W. Craig was a visionary, a pioneer in both mountaineering and collaborative decision-making, and a true legend. As The Keystone Center enters its 40th year, we remain ever conscious of the spirit and mission in which Bob founded this organization. His passion to effect change and his commitment to do so in a way that brings together a full array of perspectives on any given issue will remain the driving force behind the work of The Keystone Center.”
U.S. Ambassador Edward Gabriel, a close friend and early collaborator with Bob in the formation of The Keystone Center, noted that Bob’s most unique and endearing quality was his ability to connect with people from different walks of life regardless of age, status or perspective.
“At Keystone, we called Bob Craig ‘The Great One’ because he was one of the finest men we have ever known,” said Clinton Vince, chair of Denton’s Global Energy Practice and a former board chair of Keystone. “We all will miss his grin, his grace, his magnificent style as a skier and alpine climber, and his gentle manner of inspiration.”
Dr. Tom Hornbein, member of the first American team to ascend Everest in 1963, added, “Bob was a consummate mountaineer. He was a caring catalyst with a patient ear and an uncanny ability to guide you without your ever knowing you were being steered.”
The motto Craig lived by, says Scanlan, was “dare to fail,” a challenge to reach toward greatness despite any promise of success. “Bob Craig was a fearless individual who continues to serve as an inspiration to those who were fortunate enough to know him,” said Scanlan. “He will be deeply missed.”
Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, said the C.I.A. had not learned from its mistakes.
WASHINGTON — To Senator Mark Udall, the Central Intelligence Agency’s effort to mislead the public about its brutal interrogation program is not a thing of the past.
Mr. Udall, a Colorado Democrat who pressed his case against the agency even as he packed up his office after his re-election defeat last month, sees the agency’s strong effort to rebut the findings of the Senate’s report on the torture of terrorism suspects as proof the intelligence community has not learned from its mistakes.
“We did all these things and had the opportunity over the last six years to come clean, and the C.I.A. just fought tooth and nail to prevent that from happening,” Mr. Udall said in an interview after the stinging attack he delivered on the Senate floor against the intelligence community and the White House. “Now we are doing the same thing today that we did six or eight or 10 years ago by denying this happened.”
Mr. Udall, 64, an avid outdoorsman more often associated with environmental, energy and fiscal issues during his congressional career, has become a fierce critic of the nation’s spy and antiterror apparatus, from the mass collection of telecommunications data to the expansion of drone strikes under the Obama administration. He said he was exploring ways to continue in that role after leaving Congress — to keep public attention fixed on intelligence operations he sees as in conflict with the nation’s character.
“There has to be accountability,” Mr. Udall said. “The longer you wait to address the question of accountability, the more it festers and there is more potential that people lose interest and we repeat these very acts at some point in the future.”
After one term in the Senate and five in the House, Mr. Udall had one of his biggest moments in the final days of his tenure. He took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to not only condemn the torture documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee report, but to denounce the response from John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director.
Mr. Brennan, like other intelligence community leaders from 2001 to 2009, conceded that some abuses occurred but argued that useful intelligence was obtained. He and others also dispute the findings that C.I.A. officials misled both the Bush administration and the public about the interrogation program, a key element of the Senate report.
Skirting close to disclosing classified information on the floor, Mr. Udall pointed to a still-secret internal review done by the C.I.A. under the former director Leon E. Panetta that was obtained by the Senate. He said the Panetta review showed the agency had determined for itself that much of the Senate report was true.
“Director Brennan and the C.I.A. today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture,” he said on the floor. “In other words, the C.I.A. is lying.”
Mr. Udall didn’t stop at the agency. He strongly criticized President Obama for failing to “rein in” the agency and its leadership and for not embracing the report’s findings. Instead, the White House has focused on the president’s decision to end the interrogation program instead of the issues of whether it provided valuable intelligence or whether those who conducted it should be prosecuted.
Mr. Udall also faulted the administration for keeping some of those responsible for the program in leadership positions.
“The president needs to purge his administration of high-level officials who were instrumental to the development and running of this program,” he said. “He needs to force a cultural change at the C.I.A.”
Suddenly, the idea circulating in Washington that Mr. Udall could join the administration in some capacity seemed unlikely.
Republicans carefully reviewed Mr. Udall’s floor speech to see if he divulged secret information, and came to the conclusion he had not. Given earlier comments that he was willing to read the Senate report on the floor if it was not made public, Republicans said they were also prepared to thwart him on that front.
“We were ready,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the senior Republican on the Intelligence Committee. “I was prepared to go to the floor and take him on if he started to release classified information. But I really thought at the end of the day he would not want that to be his legacy.”
While Mr. Udall incited the ire of his Republican colleagues, he earned respect from fellow Democrats.
“Nobody in this place fought harder than Mark Udall to shed light on these tactics,” said Senator Michael Bennet, his Colorado colleague. “His goal from Day 1 has been holding the C.I.A. accountable, shedding light on this dark chapter of our history, and ensuring that neither the C.I.A. nor any other agency or future administration would make the grievous mistakes that were made here.”
As for his complaints about President Obama, Mr. Udall, who played a round of golf as a member of one the president’s exclusive foursomes, said he admired the president and had been a strong backer of the administration on its health care, climate and foreign policy initiatives.
“But that doesn’t mean I don’t take my own compass bearings on civil liberties and human rights,” Mr. Udall said.
Sweetie Sweetie gathered her lunch to take back to her room. The group home is sponsored by ChildFund International. Details of its work and how to help can be found at childfund.org.
PORT LOKO, Sierra Leone — Sweetie Sweetie had no choice.
Her father had just died of Ebola. So had her sister. Her mother was vomiting blood and fading fast.
When the ambulance arrived and her mother climbed in, Sweetie Sweetie climbed in, too. Ebola had been like a pox on her entire house, and even though the young girl looked fine, with no symptoms, nobody in her village, even relatives, wanted to take her. With nowhere else to go, she followed her mother all the way into the red zone of an Ebola clinic and spent more than two weeks in a biohazard area where the only other healthy people were wearing moon suits.
As her mother grew sicker, Sweetie Sweetie urged her to take her pills. She tried to feed her. She washed her mother’s soiled clothes, not especially well, but nurses said they were moved by the effort. After all, they think Sweetie Sweetie is only 4. Health care workers did not even know her real name, which is why they called her Sweetie Sweetie.
After her mother died, the young girl stood outside the clinic’s gates looking around with enormous brown eyes. There was no one to pick her up. She was put on the back of a motorbike and taken to a group home, whose bare, dim hallways she now wanders alone. Social workers are trying to find someone to adopt her, and Sweetie Sweetie seems to know she is up for grabs.
On a recent day she asked a visitor: “Do you want me?”
Ebola has been wretched for children. More than 3,500 have been infected and at least 1,200 have died, United Nations officials estimate. Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the most-afflicted countries, have shut down schools in an attempt to check the virus, and legions of young people are now being drafted into hard labor by their impoverished parents. Little boys who should be sitting in a classroom are breaking rocks by the side of the road; little girls struggle under gigantic loads of bananas on their heads. This was always true to some degree, but social workers say there are more children, especially teenagers, on the streets than ever before, which could lead to an increase in crime and adolescent pregnancies. When the schools do reopen, there will probably be many vacant seats.
But the worst off, by far, are the Ebola orphans. The United Nations Children’s Fund, or Unicef, says that across the region there may be 10,000 of them. Many are stigmatized and shunned by their own communities.
I share no philosophic world views and have almost no mutual agreement with Senator McCain with one exception, we are both friends with the Udall family. This piece and the video of McCain speaking on the Senate floor should be read and listened to. Old friend Wally Berg said to me: “I like that Mark (Udall) and his Dad’s old buddy from the other side, John McCain, are speaking out about the Senate Intelligence Committee report. I mean really, what the fuck can anyone say when John McCain talks about torture, POW’s and American values. It is time to just shut up and listen.” ~~ Rōbert ~~
In a speech from the Senate floor, John McCain broke with his Republican colleagues to commend the Senate’s CIA report, relying on his own experience in Vietnam.
The release of a Senate report on the CIA’s former interrogation program brought both political division and shock on Tuesday. While the shock was more universal, the division fell mostly along partisan lines with one notable exception: Senator John McCain.
In a nearly 15-minute speech from the Senate floor, McCain offered what is arguably the most robust defense so far of the report’s release, referencing his own experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and rebuking his Republican colleagues by endorsing the study’s findings.
It is a thorough and thoughtful study of practices that I believe not only failed their purpose—to secure actionable intelligence to prevent further attacks on the U.S. and our allies—but actually damaged our security interests, as well as our reputation as a force for good in the world.
His longtime amigo Senator Lindsey Graham was one of many politicians and intelligence officials to say that the report—which contained graphic accounts of physical and psychological abuse—could damage American interests abroad and that the timing of its publication was “politically motivated.”
“The timing of the release is problematic given the growing threats we face,” Graham said on Tuesday. “Terrorism is on the rise, and our enemies will seize upon this report at a critical time. Simply put, this is not the time to release the report.”
“They will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering.”
McCain responded directly to the claim. He condemned the use of misinformation to garner support for past CIA practices and linked this history to the current campaign to keep the Senate report under wraps. “There is, I fear, misinformation being used today to prevent the release of this report, disputing its findings and warning about the security consequences of their public disclosure.”
But most poignantly, McCain spoke of his own five-and-a-half-year captivity in Vietnam to argue that torture fails to yield credible information.
Senator Mitch McConnell has said he will fight regulations that would limit carbon emissions.
WASHINGTON — The new Republican Congress is headed for a clash with the White House over two ambitious Environmental Protection Agency regulations that are the heart of President Obama’s climate change agenda.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the next majority leader, has already vowed to fight the rules, which could curb planet-warming carbon pollution but ultimately shut down coal-fired power plants in his native Kentucky. Mr. McConnell and other Republicans are, in the meantime, stepping up their demands that the president approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to carry petroleum from Canadian oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
At this point, Republicans do not have the votes to repeal the E.P.A. regulations, which will have far more impact on curbing carbon emissions than stopping the pipeline, but they say they will use their new powers to delay, defund and otherwise undermine them. Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, a prominent skeptic of climate change and the presumed new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is expected to open investigations into the E.P.A., call for cuts in its funding and delay the regulations as long as possible.
The Republicans’ new majority in the Senate also increases their leverage in pushing Mr. Obama to approve the pipeline, although it is still unclear if he will do so.
The White House vowed to fight back. “We know that there will be attempts to impede or scale back our actions,” John D. Podesta, the senior White House counselor who is leading Mr. Obama’s climate agenda, said in a statement on Monday. But he added, “We’re confident we can prevail.”
Senator Mark Udall speaking at a field office in Englewood.
ERIE, Colo. — To trace the border between the liberal and conservative corners of the American West, head down East County Line Road, a two-lane asphalt stripe parting the plains here in Northern Colorado.
To the east lies Weld County, a conservative stronghold where 20,000 oil and gas wells pump day and night, and Republicans are so dominant that they are running unchallenged for county assessor, clerk and a commissioner’s seat. Fifteen miles to the west is Boulder, where a Buddhist-inspired university offers classes in yoga and the Tibetan language, and nature activists are working to carve out legal rights for ecosystems and wild species.
Straddling those divisions is Erie, a town of 21,500 whose perch along County Line Road embodies the shifting politics and demographics of a Western swing state where Republicans are waging a spirited battle to reclaim power after recent years of Democratic gains. Two prominent Democrats, Gov. John W. Hickenlooper and Senator Mark Udall, are in fierce re-election fights, and both parties are spending millions to claim a bellwether win.
“Colorado is subjected to extremes,” said Roy Romer, a former governor. “It’s not just blue and red. It’s also urban and rural. We have a history to this.”
To some, the social and demographic changes that have shaded Colorado blue in recent elections are welcome. But Colorado’s political leanings have tilted back and forth in surprising ways since it became a state in 1876, sometimes marching in lock step with Republican ranching and mining magnates, and other times bolting to support populists or so-called Silver Republicans who detested the once-dominant gold standard.
“This is not a blue state,” said Ted Trimpa, a lawyer and political strategist who helped to craft the Democratic rise to power in the statehouse over the past decade. “This is very much an independent state, and more and more reflects where people in the rest of the country are.”
The contest between Mr. Udall and his Republican challenger, Representative Cory Gardner, a second-term congressman from far eastern Colorado, has become one of the most competitive and expensive Senate races in the country. It is a must-hold seat if Democrats have a shred of hope of retaining their Senate majority. For Republicans, it offers a long-sought chance to reclaim a marquee statewide office and show that they can once again win in a Western state that is growing more urban, Hispanic and socially liberal.
The campaign has touched on energy drilling and the economy, President Obama’s health care law and the size and role of government, but at its core has been a battle for the votes of women and Latinos. In 2010, Democrat Michael Bennet defied a nationwide Republican surge to win a Senate race here, in large part because Democrats hammered his Republican opponent on abortion and contraception. As for Latinos, they now represent 14 percent of Colorado’s electorate and 21 percent of its population, and while many are reliably Democratic, Republicans have been going door to door to try to sway them.
Colorado statesman Gary Hart does not get it, at all. He is calling the Denver Post‘s endorsement of Congressman Cory Gardner in his race against incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Udall the “worst political endorsement by a serious newspaper in my lifetime.”
Hart made his views known in a letter he sent to the Denver Post that the paper decided not to print. But the state news media has taken up the letter, and it was published at Huffington Post-Denver on Tuesday.
“As a Colorado citizen who pays more than ordinary attention to American politics generally and to Colorado politics particularly, I am dumbfounded and appalled by your endorsement,” he writes.
Hart mainly takes issue with the Post‘s characterization of Udall as a sort of upper-chamber wallflower.
“I know for an absolute fact that [Udall] is at or near the center of virtually all serious national security, energy, environment, and economic debate currently occurring. I know for a fact that he is widely respected as a serious legislator by Senators of both parties. I cannot imagine from what sources you are deriving your information, but it is clearly not other United States Senators or anyone with a clear picture of what is going on in our nation’s Capitol.”
The Post‘s endorsement was notable for the sniping tone with which it treated Udall and for the lack of any serious sources or examples it used to make its points. The endorsement authors cited only a Gerald Seib opinion column on the blessings of divided government published in the Wall Street Journal and another opinion column written by onetime Republican Capitol Hill staffer-turned-Republican Party strategist Joe Brettell, in which he called Gardner a “rising star.” The Post editors never mentioned Brettell in the endorsement, simply crediting the quote to “ABC News.”
Hart served in the U.S. Senate for two terms, from 1975 to 1987. He is Chair of the U.S. State Department’s International Security Advisory Council, Chair of the U.S. Defense Department’s Threat Advisory Council, and Chair of the American Security Project.
Hart is the kind of source deeply familiar with the Senate and with national politics that the Denver Post editorial board might have turned to when weighing its endorsement in the race. Hart would have “problematized” the baffling assertions the board members planned to make.
“It is flatly false to say that Senator Udall is not a leader or that he is not at the center of major debates,” Hart wrote in his letter. “It is much more accurate to say that he is not a self-promoter, which seems to have become the coin of the political realm…
“You have chosen to support a conventional partisan over a serious legislator concerned with the national interest.”
Udall is a conservative-libertarian Democrat who has liberal social views. Gardner is a hardline conservative Republican of the Tea Party era.
As FiveThirtyEight puts it: “Gardner is strongly anti-abortion (he got a 0 percent rating from NARAL). He has only a 26 percent rating from the NAACP; he’s earned a 9 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters and a 92 percent score from the NRA.”
That record doesn’t match with the editorial views of the Denver Post and it doesn’t match with the views of the majority of Denver or Colorado residents.
FiveThirtyEight describes Udall as “strongly pro-choice (he gets a 100 percent rating on abortion rights from NARAL Pro-Choice America), and he earned a 96 percent rating from the NAACP on minority issues, a 97 percent rating on the environment by the League of Conservation Voters and a 0 percent score from the National Rifle Association.”
Mark Udall believes in letting women make their own health care decisions, safeguarding equality under the law for all, protecting the environment and closing loopholes on gun-purchase background checks. That is a much closer match with the views of the readers served by the Denver Post.
Mr. Gregory Moore
Editor, The Denver Post
Dear Mr. Moore:
Your editorial board’s decision to endorse Congressman Cory Gardner for the United States Senate ranks as one of the worst endorsement decisions, not only by theDenver Post but by any serious newspaper, in my lifetime.
As a Colorado citizen who pays more than ordinary attention to American politics generally and to Colorado politics particularly, I am dumbfounded and appalled by your endorsement. Colorado quite possibly has the two best Senators in the United States and you choose to dismiss one of them. It is flatly false to say that Senator Udall is not a leader or that he is not at the center of major debates. It is much more accurate to say that he is not a self-promoter, which seems to have become the coin of the political realm.
I know for an absolute fact that he is at or near the center of virtually all serious national security, energy, environment, and economic debate currently occurring. I know for a fact that he is widely respected as a serious legislator by Senators of both parties. I cannot imagine from what sources you are deriving your information, but it is clearly not other United States Senators or anyone with a clear picture of what is going on in our nation’s Capitol. You have chosen to support a conventional partisan over a serious legislator concerned with the national interest.
For you to conclude that Mr. Gardner will be anything other than a consistent vote for a Tea Party dictated agenda on the major social and economic issues of the day is confounding. Simply because one source called him a “rising star” does not qualify him for Senate membership. I had the privilege of serving with serious Senators of both parties. Mr. Gardner has a very long way to go before even coming close to their standard of statesmanship. Senator Udall, from a distinguished public service family whom I have known and with whom I have served, has the gravitas concerning the future of our nation that a partisan such as Mr. Gardner will never have in his lifetime.
I will leave it to my wife to decide whether to continue her subscription to the Post. I have lost confidence in the seriousness of your editorial judgment.
Ben Bradlee, then-executive editor of The Washington Post, looks at the front page of the newspaper, headlined “Nixon Resigns,” in the composing room on Aug. 8, 1974.
Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, who led The Washington Post to national eminence through charm, drive, instinct and, most notably, an epic confrontation with the Nixon White House, died Tuesday. He was 93.
Through his tenure at the Post, the legendary newspaper editor helped to define the standards and aspirations of American journalism for more than a generation. He oversaw an expansion of the kinds of coverage his newspaper offered readers that influenced editors at papers across the country. Internally, Bradlee was best known as a champion of ambitious reporters and stylish writers, goading them to new heights.
Bradlee’s most consequential test would arrive amid the scandal that first vexed and later brought down President Nixon, starting with the report of a break-in at the national headquarters of the Democratic Party at the Watergate complex in 1972.
“If you were told — any editor of The Washington Post since the beginning of time — there was going to be a story that 40 people would go to jail and the president of the United States would resign, he’d say, ‘Thank you, Lord,’ ” Bradlee told an interviewer from C-SPAN several years ago. He was rewarded for standing by two unknown local reporters who doggedly pursued the story against the critical conventional wisdom of the rest of the political press.
“Reporters need to know they have to keep banging away at it. They have to give their own energies and curiosities and aggressiveness full rein,” says former Washington Post reporter David Remnick, now editor of The New Yorker magazine.
Remnick recalled being summoned to Bradlee’s office after the late Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan had complained the young reporter was looking into anecdotes about his heavy drinking. As Bradlee leaned back in his chair, Remnick tried to reassure Bradlee not to worry. The editor cut him short and ended the meeting this way: “Worry? Me worry? I don’t f- – -ing worry!”
A salty phrase; a hearty laugh; an unyielding journalistic backbone — Ben Bradlee was well known for all three. He played the role of fearless newsroom captain almost without flaw.
“They have to have somebody behind them telling them it’s OK, because there are all these people out there saying it’s not; all these governments and PR people saying it’s not,” Remnick says. “You need somebody behind you saying, ‘Keep at it,’ and that was Bradlee’s message in a thousand different ways.”
This morning I woke to see news that New Mexico-based investigative journalist Charles Bowden had passed away.* A longtime researcher of Ciudad Juarez, Bowden focused on the overlapping an intertwined effects of globalization, free trade, and drug cartel-related violence. Deeply critical of NAFTA and the 1990s era economic relationship between Mexico and the U.S., Bowden also offered clear headed analysis of an impossibly complicated city.
A few years ago when I went to Ciudad Juarez for the first time I brought a copy of Bowden’s 1998 photo book Juarez: the laboratory of our future. Bowden was among the first researchers to delve into investigating the evolution of Ciudad Juarez at the outset of NAFTA. He introduced many readers to now common images of border fences, migrants crossing the Rio Grande on rafts and police investigators at homicide scenes. His prose is careful, analytical, thoughtful. He describes Juarez as “part of the Mexican gulag, the place for the people no one wants” but also writes “I’ve eaten in Juarez, drunk in Juarez, been happy in Juarez, and been sad in Juarez…I am not sightless. Juarez has a distinct quality. It is the city wherepeople may dream and f*** and drink and sing, but it is not the city where people hope.”
Deeply pessimistic about the economic development model being implemented in Juarez at the outset of the NAFTA era, Bowden did however provide clear and even-handed analysis of the city’s evolving (or devolving?) security dynamic. In 2010 after publishing Murder City Bowden told The New Yorker’s Meredith Blake that “If you read the newspaper accounts of violence in Juárez, they fail to convey the pain, the fear, and the ruin of the city. I wrote of murders, tortures, and rapes in a spare manner because a flat tone conveys agony better than a herd of adjectives.” Bowden skipped colorful language and focused on hard analysis. “There are five hundred to nine hundred street gangs now of armed, murderous, unschooled and unemployed young people… Nothing can immediately roll back the violence, because it is now part of the fabric of the city, a place where in two years twenty-five per cent of the houses have been abandoned, forty per cent of the business shuttered, at least a hundred thousand jobs lost, and where a hundred and four thousand people have fled,” he said.
Bowden passed away in his sleep at his New Mexico home. He was 69. Journalist and friend Terry Greene Sterling said “What I will always remember him for, beyond his vast talent as a writer, is his generosity with younger writers, writers coming up.” Another friend remembered, “He kept saying that he was proud of his ability to be a witness. He was very proud of the voices he gave to people who didn’t have a voice.” Ray Caroll, another long-time friend said, “He was a journalist’s journalist. The guy drilled deep into every subject matter. Whatever Chuck Bowden did, he did with all his heart.” I didn’t always agree with Bowden’s anti-NAFTA economic viewpoint but I always appreciated his writing. Bowden once said “The way I was trained up, reporters went toward the story, just as firemen rush toward the fire.” He will be missed.
The heart of chile pepper country in southern New Mexico is the tiny village of Hatch, which bills itself the “Chile Capital of the World.” A new state law aims to protect this food heritage by preventing foreign peppers from being labeled as New Mexico-grown.
At the heart of the “Chile Capital” is the Pepper Pot restaurant, which exclusively serves New Mexico-grown chiles. In the kitchen of the Pepper Pot, owner Melva Aguirre churns out hundreds of plates a day of chile rellenos.
“A lot of people use Spam. A lot of people don’t eat meat, so they put cheese in them,” she says. “When it’s time for me to make it for the chile festival, I have to make up to 3,000 to use on the weekend.”
Tens of thousands of hot-pepper fans converge on Hatch each fall for the annual chile pepper festival, all devotees of the smoky, rich flavor distinct to the New Mexico variety.
CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Facing re-election, Gov. Scott Walker, Republican of Wisconsin, no longer talks about stopping same-sex marriage. “It’s those on the left that are pushing” the issue, he says.
Ed Gillespie, the Republican Senate candidate in Virginia, argued that Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic incumbent, was “making up my views” when Mr. Warner accused him of seeking to overturn abortion rights and ban some forms of contraception. In fact, Mr. Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, said in a recent debate, he wants contraceptives available (behind the counter) at pharmacies without a prescription.
Representative Cory Gardner, a Republican in a tight Senate race in Colorado, proposed the same thing after the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case exempted some private businesses from covering certain contraceptives in health insurance plans. He was shielding himself from attacks by Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat, who has spent months slamming Mr. Gardner’s “radical agenda” on abortion and family planning.
“Udall is running his entire campaign on social issues,” said Brad Dayspring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “All they talk about is birth control, ‘personhood,’ abortion.”
So will many other Democrats this fall. They aim to match President Obama’s feat in 2012, when the incumbent used topics such as same-sex marriage and contraception as weapons to offset his vulnerability on the economy. That they would even try while facing the older, whiter, more conservative midterm electorate shows how thoroughly the politics of social issues have turned upside down.
The tumultuous social changes that began in the 1960s supplied decades of political ammunition for Republicans. Beginning with Richard M. Nixon, they rallied Americans disturbed by noisy protests over civil rights, the sexual revolution and the Vietnam War.
“Acid, amnesty and abortion” was the epithet hurled at the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, George McGovern. Republicans seized on concerns about welfare, school busing and crime — memorably with a black convict named Willie Horton in 1988 — to cement their grip on white voters. As recently as 2004, Republicans used a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to rally tradition-minded “values voters” behind President George W. Bush’s re-election.
Now the values wedge cuts for Democrats. Demographic change keeps shrinking Nixon’s “Silent Majority.” President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress overhauled welfare. Fear of crime has receded enough that members of both parties propose more lenient sentencing.
American households have changed significantly. Nearly half of adults are unmarried. Fully 10 percent of opposite-sex married couples are interracial or interethnic. Acceptance of same-sex marriage has expanded with astonishing speed.
Legalization of medical marijuana has moved, in two states, Colorado and Washington, to legalization of recreational marijuana. College students from the Summer of Love are pushing 70, the elders who disapproved of their behavior are largely gone and young adults are wondering what the turmoil was ever about.
In the study, when participants were shown photos of a person with and without glasses, they registered little or no change in their view of the person’s intelligence.
However, when the photo of the same person was juxtaposed with a photo of Governor Perry, participants suddenly said that the person looked “much smarter” or “brilliant,” with some participants even using the phrase “like a genius.”
According to Davis Logsdon, who conducted the survey for the University of Minnesota, the results could be a game changer in the strategies people use to look smarter. “For people trying to appear more intelligent, it turns out that the must-have accessory is not glasses; it’s Rick Perry,” he said.
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Photograph by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty.
In Times Square, amid the dozens of Elmos, Mickey Mouses and superheroes who work the crowds for loose bills, new costumed characters have come to seek their fortunes.
They are mostly men of Chinese descent, with shaved heads, beatific smiles and flowing robes of orange, but sometimes brown or gray. They follow a similar script: Offering wishes of peace and a shiny amulet, they solicit donations from passers-by, often reinforcing their pitch by showing a picture of a temple for which the money seems to be intended. Then they open a notebook filled with the names of previous donors and the amounts given.
The men appear to be Buddhist monks; a smaller number of similarly dressed women say they are Taoist nuns.
No one seems to know who they really are or where they come from. The police have taken no official stance, stepping in only when the monks become aggressive. Various Buddhists have confronted the men, asking about their affiliation or quizzing them about the religion’s precepts. The men remain silent or simply walk away.
They have become ubiquitous — so much so that the Naked Cowboy, the Times Square performer whose real name is Robert Burck, now simply refers to them as “co-workers.”
“They’re littered all over,” he said.
Even in New York, where people soliciting money are practically a tourist attraction, these monks tend to stand out, both for their attire and for their sense of entitlement. They offer the amulet and, in some cases, a bracelet; if they are not satisfied with the donation, they unabashedly demand $20 or more.
This year, the police have arrested at least nine people who have presented themselves as monks, mostly on charges of aggressive begging or unlicensed vending.
But merely begging in the streets is not against the law. The police have largely left these men alone, to the consternation of Buddhist leaders in New York’s Chinese neighborhoods, who portray them as nothing more than beggars who undermine Buddhists’ credibility.
“They are damaging the reputation of real monks and damaging the reputation of Buddhists in America,” said Shi Ruifa, a monk in Brooklyn who is president of a confederation of nearly 50 temples.
Similarly attired men have attracted scrutiny around the world. They are a familiar presence in Australia, where the authorities heralded their reappearance in Sydney with a press statement, “Bogus Buddhists Are Back.” They have also been seen in Canada and New Zealand. In Hong Kong, their presence has merited a Facebook page, Fake Monks in Hong Kong. Overall, there have been few arrests, though the authorities in China recently arrested seven men dressed as Shaolin Temple monks on charges of swindling $26,000 from tourists.
In Toronto, the police received reports a year ago of monks asking for money and threatening to put a hex on those who did not donate, according to Constable Victor Kwong, a spokesman for the Toronto Police Service.
Toronto, like New York, prohibits aggressive panhandling. Although “people thought they were being duped,” Constable Kwong noted, “nothing is illegal about walking around dressed like a monk.” No arrests were made.
Continue reading the main story
In New York, the men have inspired a Fake Monks in New York City page on Facebook, documenting its subjects’ whereabouts, from Central Park to the city’s Chinese neighborhoods, where local monks have mostly driven them away. Last year, Mr. Shi confronted a man in orange robes in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and quizzed him on the Five Precepts of Buddhism.
The man “didn’t know even one,” he said.
In another exchange, Harry Leong, a practicing Buddhist for 25 years, said he respectfully asked a robed man in Times Square for his religious name and temple.
“He did not give me any direct answer, even after I repeated the same questions to him several times,” Mr. Leong recalled. “I then asked him if he was a fraud, and he ran away from me.”
In interviews, the robed men were evasive about where they were from and generally refused to answer any questions about their background, temple or training. They tended to speak little English, favoring Mandarin, with accents hinting of provinces all across China.
One woman dressed as a nun said her temple was in Taiwan, but declined to give specifics.
“I cannot tell you where my temple is,” answered another woman dressed as a nun, who said her family name was Lin and that people called her Little Lin. “I won’t tell you. But it’s not that I don’t have a temple.” At another point, she grabbed at the sleeves of her robe and said, “If I didn’t have a temple, why would I be dressed like this?”
Another man dressed as a monk, eating a hot dog while three topless women and a Spider-Man nearby posed for pictures with tourists, defended his actions. “I’m not a terrorist,” he said in Mandarin. “I’m not an outlaw, I’m not a thief.”
With that, he got up and began walking toward the subway, saying, “I’m going back to Flushing.”