Wednesday, September 29, 2021

U.S. MARINES - Lt. Col. Stu Scheller

Please view the video linked below.

"Marine Officer Who Blasted Leaders over Afghanistan Withdrawal Is in the Brig" by Konstantin Toropin, 9/28/2021

Lt. Col. Stu Scheller, the Marine officer who posted a viral video demanding accountability from military leaders for the failures in Afghanistan, is now in the brig, Marine officials confirmed Tuesday.

Scheller is "currently in pre-trial confinement" while he awaits an [UCMJ] Article 32 preliminary hearing, Marine Corps spokesman Sam Stephenson said in a statement.

"The time, date, and location of the proceedings have not been determined," he added.

Marine Corps officials said there are no specific charges "preferred" or initiated against Scheller.  Instead, the hearing is to consider whether charges of contempt toward officials, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, failure to obey lawful general orders, or conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman should be recommended to his commander for action.

The service did not provide details to of any orders that Scheller may have failed to follow, or officers he may have disobeyed.

Although an Article 32 hearing is often compared to a grand jury in the civilian legal system, legal experts note that the analogy is not entirely apt.  Defendants at these hearings have legal counsel present, who are able to preview and challenge the evidence against their clients.

Scheller has had a brief but tumultuous time in the public eye since his first video went up on social media on Aug. 26, 2021.  After being relieved of command, he posted a second, puzzling video three days later that featured cryptic threats to "bring the whole f---ing system down" and a public resignation of his commission.

The second video prompted concerns over his well-being.  After it was posted, the Marine Corps announced in a statement that it had taken steps to "ensure the safety and well-being of Lt. Col. Scheller and his family."

Scheller wrote on Facebook that, when he came to work following the second video, he "was ordered by my commanding officer to go to the Hospital for a mental health screening."

"I was evaluated by the mental health specialists and then sent on my way," he added in the post.

Since then, the Marine officer has continued to post videos, status updates and other musings on social media.  According to Scheller, he made those posts despite the advice of friends, family and lawyers.  In Sept. 16 posts on Facebook and LinkedIn, he wrote that he would make a public recommendation of charges of dereliction of duty against Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command.

A long post made Sept. 25 ended with the line, "Col Emmel please have the MPs waiting for me at 08:00 on Monday.  I'm ready for jail." Scheller's last post to date was made on Facebook the next day.

Public criticism of the military can cost officers their careers.  In May, a Space Force commander was fired from his post for comments made during a podcast promoting his new book, in which he claims Marxist ideologies are becoming prevalent in the U.S. military.  More recently, Lt. Col. Doug Hague publicly declared he was resigning from the Army over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Monday, September 27, 2021

OPINION - Brooks and Capehart 9/24/2021

"Brooks and Capehart on Democratic infighting, raising debt ceiling, border crisisPBS NewsHour 9/24/2021

SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week in politics, including the divide among Democrats over the $3.5 trillion spending bill, the looming debt ceiling deadline, and the Biden administration’s response to the Haitian migrant issue on the southern border.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  As President Biden's legislative agenda stalls in Congress, he has run into yet another issue, or, we should say, continues to run into the issue of turmoil on the Southern border.

For a look at this busy week and what it all means, we're joined by Brooks and Capehart.  That is New York Times columnist David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.

Hello to both of you.

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post:  You too, Judy.

Judy Woodruff:  Very good to see you…

Jonathan Capehart:  You too.

Judy Woodruff:  … on this Friday.

And there is so much to talk about.

So, David, it does look like there's real trouble for President Biden's domestic agenda.  And it's not the Republicans this time, at least on the part that he's run into, headwinds this week.  It's his own Democratic colleagues.  What is behind this?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Yes, it's just an intellectual difference.

The — and what strikes me is how so many people are drawing red lines.  The progressives are saying, we want $3.5 trillion.  We're not going under.  Manchin and others say $1.5 trillion, we're not going over.

And so that's a gigantic gap.  They can't even agree on when to vote on what.  And so I think what they need to do is look at, what is the key insight of each side?  The progressives are right that we need something big.  We're a nation in decline.  We're a nation — because of disunity.  Lots of people have been left behind by this economy.  And they're right to do something big to try to jolt us back to unity.

The moderates, in my view, are right that we're not going to have a European-style welfare state.  We're just not that kind of country.  We're an individualistic country.  We like to tie benefits to work and have a work obligation.  We're never going to give away as much money in taxes as the Europeans do.  The Norwegians give away about 46 percent of their GDP to taxes.  If this passed, it would get us up to 19.

We're just not that kind of country.  So, if you take the scope of the progressives and the values of the moderates, I think you can get a deal, but they're pretty far away from it right now.

Judy Woodruff:  Well, they both may have a point, Jonathan, but the President's — the future of his of his term in office could be in the balance here.

Jonathan Capehart:  Well, sure, it could be in the balance, but we don't know.

And I look at this as being the storm before the calm.  David's right.  A lot of red lines are being drawn.  And they seem to be being drawn since Wednesday, since they all went to the White House and had their respective meetings with the President.  And then they come out and then they state their positions again.

But I have been paying close attention to the language that they're using.  They're being very firm about what they're for and what they're not for.  But they're not attacking each other, the way they were during the summer.

And so I wonder if this is the usual Washington [DC] theatrics of just doing all of this performance, and then, at some point, when we're — when we least expect it, breaking news announcement, here's the deal.

Now, this is a different Washington.  Who knows if that moment is going to come?  I pray that it does, one, because what they're arguing over is very important for the American people.  Two, if they don't come to some sort of deal, the President's agenda goes from being stalled to dead.  And then, three, it means finally that Washington is completely broken if they can't come to some agreement here.

Judy Woodruff:  Well, it's a different — and then, meantime, there's another massive headache the President has.  And I don't know whether it's another Washington performance, but it's over the debt limit, David.

And this one is between the Democrats and the Republicans.  The Republicans are saying no way.

David Brooks:  Yes.

And when the shoe was on the other foot, they wanted the Republicans, when they were controlling things, to take it.  It's — what's changed is that, 10 years ago, people really used to care about debts and deficits.  It was ranked as a major issue by a lot of Americans.  Now, for whatever reason, some maybe dubious reasons, nobody cares, maybe just low interest rates.

So now there's much greater tolerance among both Republicans and Democrats to run up the debt.  And so voting to raise the limit is not as politically costly as it used to be.  I wish they would just get away with — do away with the whole thing.

We have committed to spend.

Judy Woodruff:  The debt limit, yes.  Yes.

David Brooks:  Yes.

We have committed to spend the money.  The debt limit just says, yes, we're going to borrow the money to spend the money we already committed to.  So they should raise it to a gazillion dollars.  And then we never approach the limit, hopefully.


David Brooks:  And then they should move forward.  It's a bit of ballet that we don't need.

Judy Woodruff:  Gazillion?  What do you think?


Jonathan Capehart:  Sure.  Gazillion is a great numerator.

But this is sort of a wonky thing, but it's super important for the American people to understand that raising the debt ceiling is not giving Washington a blank check.  It is allowing Washington to pay for the things that they have already bought.

If the government does not raise the debt ceiling, the Bipartisan Policy Center this morning put out their charts, and they have turned me into a huge debt ceiling nerd.  Started back in 2011, when Jay Powell, who was with Bipartisan Policy Center then, put this together.  He is now the Fed Chairman.

I just want the American people to understand this.  If the debt ceiling is not raised and the government can't borrow any money, it has to use the cash it has on hand.  And I have this chart here.  I don't know if the camera can get it, but I will just talk it through, that, on October 15, which they think might be the first day that we reach that X-date, the government will bring in $27 billion in revenues, but will have $43 billion in expenses.

And that's just on that first day.  All that debt that — all those things that aren't paid carries over to the next day.  I can't — we don't — I don't even have enough time to tell you the avalanche of harm that would come to the American people, to the federal government and to the global economy if that debt ceiling isn't raised.

Judy Woodruff:  And not to mention that, government shutdown and all the all the consequences of that, David.

David Brooks:  Yes.

And both the topics we have talked about so far that, the consequences of failure are cataclysmic.  And so I presume, in a normal, functioning democracy, that we don't walk over those cliffs, but who knows?

Judy Woodruff:  I'm just taking a deep breath here.


Judy Woodruff:  Another, of course, major issue the President had to deal with this week, again, Jonathan, was the Southern border.

In addition to what's already been happening there, and the Haitian migrants were starting to gather, in the past week, these images of Border Patrol using reins or other — whatever, belts to go after the migrants.

President Biden has come in from enormous criticism from fellow Democrats over this.  And here's how he commented this morning on what happened.

President Joe Biden:  Of course I take responsibility.  I'm President.  But it was horrible what — to see, as you saw — to see people treated like they did, horses nearly running them over and people being strapped.  It's outrageous.

I promise you, those people will pay.  They will be — an investigation under way now, and there will be consequences.

Judy Woodruff:  And, today, we reported there are no Haitian migrants at that particular place.  We don't know whether more will be coming.

But, Jonathan, how is the President handling this?  And how much of a of a political hit is it for him?

Jonathan Capehart:  I will take the political hit first.  It's a huge hit.

And it's a huge hit.  One, with immigration, the President was already on squishy ground with the American people.  But those images that came out of the men on horseback and Black people running, it was just — is a little too close to home for a lot of us.

And for a President who campaigned on a more humane immigration policy, for a President who, on election night, said to African Americans, you brought me here and I will not forget it, that's why you had a lot of Democrats, particularly African American Democrats, saying to the President, what is going on here?  You must — you must do something about this.

And then, on top of it, what made it even more inhumane is that the President or the administration deported Haitians who had not lived in Haiti for more than 10 years to a country that is still dealing with an earthquake that happened and a Presidential assassination.

Judy Woodruff:  How can — immigration, every President counting back as far as we can count, this has been a tough issue.  Where do you see this going?

David Brooks:  Yes.

Well, we had our last successful Immigration Bill, comprehensive one, under Ronald Reagan.  That was a long time ago.  And, so, he's inherited a gigantic mess that nobody has had the solution for.  I think Biden did make it worse.

And part of the problem was, they promised, on day one, they would reverse all the Trump rules.  Reversing the Trump rules was a good idea.  But doing it all at once, on day one, people in the transition, in the White House were warning about that.  They were saying, we will be overwhelmed.  It'll be a big open door signal.  And we don't have the facilities to handle what's about to hit us.

And that turned out to be true.  And I think what bothers me, aside from what Jonathan was just expressing, was, it seems to be arbitrary, like who gets sent where.  It seems like it's just like, who knows who's being decided?  There's no methodology.  There's no procedure for a lot of people.

And so we're just overwhelmed right now.  And it's disturbing that we're overwhelmed after basically 40 years of this mess.

Judy Woodruff:  It's hard to see how this is an issue that gets resolved any time in the near term.

So, the last thing we want to bring up is, it was September 21, 2001, just a week-and-a-half after the 9/11 attacks, and here was the beginning of the "NewsHour" that night with Jim Lehrer.

Jim Lehrer, Co-Founder and Former Anchor, "PBS NewsHour":  And that brings us to Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, joined tonight by his new regular partner, David Brooks of The Weekly Standard.

Welcome, David.

David Brooks, Weekly Standard:  Thank you.

Jim Lehrer:  Formally, welcome.  You have been here many, many times before.

Judy Woodruff:  And that man has not changed one iota since September…


David Brooks:  Yes, I wanted to point out I was 12 at that time.


David Brooks:  So, I'm — I don't know how old I am now.

Judy Woodruff:  So, David, you joined — I mean, you had been on the "NewsHour," but you joined this program at a very sobering, difficult moment for this country.

It was, what, 10 days after 9/11.  And you have been through a lot of ups and downs with the country ever since.

But just talk a little bit about what it's meant to you to be here at this table every Friday night.

David Brooks:  Yes, I will tell you what it's been like.

Like, it's the end of the week.  And, often, I'm tired.  Sometimes, I'm under the weather.  Sometimes, I'm stressed.  I come in here a little low.  I walk out of here an hour later super charged up and super happy, because I get to work with the people I have worked with, and not only the people on set, but Leah (ph) in the makeup room.  Charlie's back there, our lighting guy.


David Brooks:  And so it's just — you feel uplifted when you walk out.

And then, when you think about 20 years, I think about the time and about '04, '05.  Mark and I were on with Jim.  And we showed a Marine funeral just before our segment.  And Jim started crying.  And Mark and I gave like 10 minute answers, so Jim could compose itself.

And so that — that was just like — that's something we're going through together.

I think about sitting with Mark and Jim when Barack Obama gave his 2004 speech, that first big speech, which was watching a star appear, but it was also about a version of America that he was describing.

I think about the day Gwen died.  And I go through all the e-mails that she sent me over the years, and some were just about our friendship.  But a lot were tough.  Like, Gwen demanded excellence.


David Brooks:  And if you didn't show up, Gwen was like, show up.


David Brooks:  And then with you, I mean, you're the hardest-working woman in show business.  Like, I — you have not had a day where you don't completely show up for this thing.

And so you get a sense of people who respect their job and mostly respect the audience.  And out of that derives a kind of patriotism.

And other networks talk a lot about patriotism, but I think we — we try to serve a certain kind of America.  And we try to exemplify that service in a way we do things, in the culture around here.

And it's just been an honor to be part of that for 20 years.  And my next 60 years will be just as good.


Judy Woodruff:  Next 60.

I mean, the "NewsHour" has been just incredibly fortunate and honored to have you with us and, of course, Mark for all those years.  And then Jonathan joined us almost a year ago.

And, Jonathan, you get to sit next to David on Friday nights.  It's not exactly like every other television show.

Jonathan Capehart:  No, it's not like every other television show.

And I knew that this was an important job to get, succeeding Mark Shields, the e-mails that came in from people saying:  Oh, my God, Mark Shields is gone.  I'm so upset.  I'm so sad.  We miss him.  But I'm glad you're there.

It was then that I realized how important this job is, how important it is, what we do.

But what makes this so much fun and why it's so wonderful to celebrate David is, we have been doing this in other venues for a few years now.  And I always look forward to being with David, because you're to the right of me.  I'm to the left of you, completely different backgrounds.

And yet, when I sit with David and talk with David, I feel like I have learned something.  I'm smarter.

The way David speaks about all the issues, it's inviting.  And that's what makes Brooks and Capehart, Shields and Brooks and all the other iterations of this so wonderful.  We come to the table to bring news, educate the audience on the inside, but then to do it in a way that invites the audience in.

Judy Woodruff:  There's clearly some magic that happens here.

David Brooks:  Thank you, Jonathan.  Thank you.

Judy Woodruff:  And we are grateful to both of you, to Jonathan Capehart and to David Brooks.

Congratulations on 20 years.

Twenty years more, 40 years more coming up.

David Brooks:  Shoot me.


END OF AN ERA - The World After Angela Merkel?

"Germany faces tight race to replace Angela Merkel, with climate change as top voter issuePBS NewsHour 9/24/2021


SUMMARY:  Germany is one of America's most important allies.  Nearly every American president since George W. Bush has worked closely with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.  But for the first time since 2005, she will not be a candidate when Germans head to the polls this Sunday to vote for her successor.  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant is in Berlin with a preview of this upcoming election.



"Germany’s deadlock election highlights voters’ generational dividePBS NewsHour 9/27/2021


SUMMARY:  Angela Merkel is staying on as interim German Chancellor after the country’s election ended in virtual deadlock. Talks aimed at establishing a new coalition government are underway, but could take months. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Berlin.

WANT A GOOD LAUGH - Arizona’s Election Recount

"How Arizona’s election review is providing a national playbook for disgruntled politiciansPBS NewsHour 9/24/2021 


SUMMARY:  Republicans in the Arizona State Senate had commissioned a review of 2020 ballots in Maricopa County even though election officials found no large-scale fraud.  But a partisan group called Cyber Ninjas undertook a controversial review of the vote and affirmed Joe Biden won Maricopa County and Arizona.  Nate Persily, an election law scholar at Stanford University, joins William Brangham with more.

PRISON RELEASE - Home Confinement

"Inmates released to home confinement during pandemic fear ‘devastating’ reincarcerationPBS NewsHour 9/21/2021


SUMMARY:  Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Justice Department has released more than 30,000 non-violent inmates to home confinement to try to limit the virus' spread in prison.  But, as John Yang reports for our ongoing "Searching for Justice" series, some of these men and women could be forced to return to prison once the pandemic ends.

OPINION - From Bill Gates

"Bill Gates on vaccine equity, boosters, climate, his foundation and Epstein meetingsPBS NewsHour 9/21/2021


SUMMARY:  With world leaders visiting New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates is calling on the world's richest nations to take what he says are urgent steps needed to end "the crisis phase of this pandemic."  Judy Woodruff spoke with Gates about those steps earlier this afternoon in a wide-ranging discussion.

IMMIGRATION - Haitian Migrants

"As U.S. deports Haitian migrants, fate of DACA immigrants also hangs in the balancePBS NewsHour 9/20/2021


SUMMARY:  Thousands of migrants — most of whom are from Haiti — have been removed from an encampment in the town of Del Rio, Texas, along the U.S. southern border as U.S. officials have started to take more aggressive steps to stop the encampment from growing further.  Major recent developments in Congress will also touch on the broader U.S. Immigration Policy.  Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins report.



"Here’s the latest on the fate of Haitian migrants in Texas, Biden response to backlashPBS NewsHour 9/23/2021


SUMMARY:  Daniel Foote, the U.S. Special Envoy to Haiti, resigned in protest Thursday, over the Biden administration's move to deport Haitian migrants back to their troubled home country.  Foote called the handling of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, “inhumane” and “counterproductive.”  White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor broke the story of the Special Envoy's resignation and joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.



"How the expulsion of Haitian migrants is affecting the crisis-torn nationPBS NewsHour 9/25/2021


SUMMARY:  Thousands of Haitian migrants who have been deported by the U.S. have been arriving home as authorities scramble for resources including food and medical supplies.  Haiti is reeling from a convergence of crises -- a presidential assassination, an earthquake and chaos on the streets -- and critics say America’s actions will worsen the humanitarian crisis.  Widlore Merancourt, editor-in-chief of Ayibopost, joins from Port-Au-Prince.

COVID-19 VACCINES - Update Week of 9/20/2021

"What pediatricians are prioritizing in Pfizer data about vaccinating kids ages 5 to 11PBS NewsHour 9/20/2021


SUMMARY:  Kids now account for more than one in five new COVID cases, and the highly contagious delta variant has put more children in the hospital than at any other point in the pandemic.  While there is no vaccine available yet for children below the age of 12, that may change soon thanks to new data from Pfizer.  Stephanie Sy looks at the prospects of vaccinating children with pediatrician Dr. Rhea Boyd.

Reminder:  The Pfizer vaccine is the ONLY one that kills COVID-19 virus.



"How COVID-19’s death toll and social impact compares to past U.S. pandemicsPBS NewsHour 9/21/2021


SUMMARY:  The death toll from the COVID pandemic has put the U.S. at another tragic milestone — more than 675,000 Americans, overall, have died of COVID as of Monday.  That number surpasses the number of lives lost to the 1918 flu.  The U.S. is averaging more than 2,000 daily deaths.  William Brangham takes a wider look at COVID's toll on the country.



"U.S. plan to share Pfizer shots globally ‘too little and too late,’ ex-CDC director saysPBS NewsHour 9/22/2021


SUMMARY:  The Biden administration announced Wednesday that the U.S. was purchasing an additional 500 million Pfizer COVID vaccines to donate to other nations.  The move is what critics and organizations like the WHO have been calling for — a much more robust effort on behalf of rich countries.  Yet some are saying this still isn’t enough.  William Brangham discusses with Tom Frieden, former Head of the CDC.



"China’s vaccine faces scrutiny as Indonesians die despite shots, U.S. pledges donationsPBS NewsHour 9/22/2021


SUMMARY:  As the U.S. commits to vaccine distribution, Indonesia has recorded more than 4 million COVID cases.  More than 140,000 people have died.  Initially, Indonesia turned to China for vaccine aid.  But Nick Schifrin explores how the U.S. and its allies are trying to achieve vaccine inroads in China’s backyard.



"How ‘fits and starts’ of booster science, rollout may affect U.S. vaccination goalsPBS NewsHour 9/23/2021


SUMMARY:  An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended the Pfizer booster shots for people 65 and older, nursing home residents, and younger adults with underlying health issues.  For a deeper look at that decision, Amna Nawaz is joined by Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo.  She is a physician, epidemiologist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco.



"A Brief But Spectacular take on going from crisis to opportunity post-pandemicPBS NewsHour 9/24/2021


SUMMARY:  Whether teaching NYU marketing students or co-hosting the podcast “Pivot," Scott Galloway rarely misses an opportunity to share his insight on the effects of big tech.  Tonight, he shares his Brief But Spectacular take on this country's response to the pandemic.  It’s also the subject of his latest book: "Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity."

NATO - United Nations General Assembly This Week

"Colombia’s President Duque on environmental terrorism, migration and democracyPBS NewsHour 9/20/2021


SUMMARY:  The United Nations General Assembly gathers this week in New York to discuss the pandemic, climate change, and migration — as more than 80 million people are displaced across the planet.  President Iv├ín Duque of Colombia has been in office three years — at a crossroads of South and Central America — and manages all of these problems together. He joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the issues.



"As Biden touts American democracy, here are the issues allies want U.S. to deliver onPBS NewsHour 9/21/2021


SUMMARY:  President Joe Biden on Tuesday delivered his first speech to the United Nations as part of its annual General Assembly.  Biden touted diplomacy and the endurance of democracy as he faces tensions with old allies, and global challenges, like COVID and climate change.  Nick Schifrin reports from New York, and white house correspondent Yamiche Alcindor joins with more from the White House north lawn.

WATCH: Biden addresses the 2021 United Nations General Assembly



"EU’s top diplomat says it can deploy military forces without U.S., NATO approvalPBS NewsHour 9/22/2021


SUMMARY:  President Joe Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron Wednesday for the first time since France erupted with anger over a new Indo-Pacific defense alliance between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.  Nick Schifrin looks at European-U.S. relations with Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission.



"U.S. and E.U. climate envoys on how China, developing nations can help combat crisisPBS NewsHour 9/23/2021


SUMMARY:  The U.N. warns that unless the world acts faster than promised, Earth's temperatures will rise to catastrophic, irreversible levels.  The U.S. calls the upcoming climate summit the last chance for the world to avoid disaster.  Nick Schifrin discusses the crisis with John Kerry the President's Special Envoy on Climate, and Frans Timmermans executive [First] Vice President of the European Commission.


"How the White House plans to combat the ‘silent killer’ of rising heat levelsPBS NewsHour 9/20/2021


SUMMARY:  2021 had one of the hottest summers on record, with July being the hottest single month recorded.  Extreme heat is expected to worsen with climate change.  The Biden administration announced a plan Monday that would develop new workplace standards for Americans who work outdoors, prioritizing heat-related inspections.  William Brangham and Gina McCarthy, White House National Climate Adviser, discuss.


WARING:  Republicans have continually crippled regulation by not funding, or even defunding, money to hire more regulatory personnel (inspectors and administration).



"As high temperatures hurt Sicily’s food production, rising sea levels threaten housingPBS NewsHour 9/21/2021


SUMMARY:  Climate change experts in Sicily, Italy are warning that rising sea waters are threatening some of the island's most crucial heavy industrial plants.  They are also forecasting food shortages because crops are being destroyed.  The island endured record temperatures this summer.  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports from Sicily for NewsHour's Climate Change series.

AMERICAN POLITICS - The Divide Over Money

COMMENT:  As always Republicans are over-obsessed with money.  They believe that nothing for the common citizens is worth paying for.  But they give tax breaks to the rich and corporations which acclimate huge profits year-after-year.  Now add the old 'boggy-man' of our Dept Limit and ask why we go through this every time (the Republicans)?  Does your yearly expenses stay the same year-to-year, not likely, they increase and government is no different.

"Extending government funding and raising debt ceiling face uphill Senate battlePBS NewsHour 9/22/2021


SUMMARY:  Congress must act soon just to keep the federal government functioning.  But Democratic leaders are navigating internal divides and logjams as they try to pass two bills that would together dole out trillions of dollars toward infrastructure, child care and combating climate change.  The road ahead on all of these issues is bumpy.  Lisa Desjardins walks us through what's happening on Capitol Hill.



"Biden again urges Congress to pass infrastructure, reconciliation bills amid stalematePBS NewsHour 9/24/2021


SUMMARY:  The fate of the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion spending package is at risk amid Democratic infighting.  On Friday, Biden acknowledged concerns, but urged Congress to pass both bills.  Amna Nawaz begins our report, and joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

Monday, September 20, 2021

SAM DIEGO PADRES - Family Squabble

NOTE:  The was copied from San Diego Union-Tribune digital version, so no links to article.

"Apart at the seams" by Kevin Acee, San Diego Union-Tribune 9/20/2021

Some in Padres organization believe struggling team needs new voice, greater influence in manager’s office


The Padres began a road trip Sept. 10 with a fighting chance and ended it looking like they were fighting with themselves.

The shouting match in the dugout Saturday night between Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. in itself was not the problem.  But it occurring, several people in the organization said, is a product of one of the Padres’ most pressing issues:

Manager Jayce Tingler does not possess the sway to have quashed a situation that had been brewing for weeks.

How much of that falls directly on Tingler and how much is due to a distrust between players and the front office is debatable.  And it really isn’t important.  Regardless, the Padres have some fixing to do.

Machado, a veteran who has acknowledged learning from his own mistakes as a young player, stepped in Saturday in a moment in which he felt the team’s young superstar needed to be set back on track.

In this instance, Tatis had become incensed at a coach telling him essentially what Machado then told him — to pick his head up and get on the field and do what he’s capable of because the Padres needed him.

These things happen in a long season, especially in the heat of a playoff chase gone off the rails.

Multiple people inside the organization said the situation with Tatis has been building for weeks, as the 22-year-old has grown increasingly frustrated with the team’s postseason chances slipping away and his being unable to lift the Padres on his shoulders.  He was talked to by a veteran player about his brooding on at least one occasion before Saturday.

There are differences of opinion among some of the team’s on-field personnel.  But one thing virtually everyone agreed on in the hours after Saturday’s mini-brouhaha was that it was culmination of an issue a stronger manager would have taken care of weeks ago.

There are some in the organization who believe this is an example of why the team needs a new voice and a greater influence in the manager’s office.

Again and again, people in and around the team have said for weeks, the Padres need an experienced manager who commands the respect of players such as Machado, Tatis, Eric Hosmer and others.

The sentiment Tingler was not the leader they needed or wanted has been growing in some corners of the clubhouse for a while.  With every loss, it seems more likely it will happen.

Even some of those who just last week questioned whether General Manager A.J. Preller would fire Tingler, his friend and the man he hired just two years ago, say the continued cratering of a team that so much was expected of demands change.

Whether Tingler has been a solid in-game manager is not the issue, said people familiar with Preller’s thinking.

But the GM is on record several times during his tenure saying he believes the role of coaches and a manager is to get the most out of players.

The Padres falling from 17 games above .500 and seemingly in command of a playoff spot on Aug. 10 to 76-73 and 3½ games out of the National League’s second wild-card spot after a weekend sweep by the Cardinals may have forced Preller’s hand in that regard.

As late as last week, there was sentiment among many in the league that the Padres remained a superior team with a better chance to go further in the playoffs than any of the other contenders for the final playoff spot.

The Padres felt that way as well.  They believed since the start of the season they were building toward a strong finish.

Even as this trip dawned, however, their failure to live up to expectations seemed to have the team in about as dark a place as a contender could be.

The Padres were one game up in the wild-card race when their series at Dodger Stadium began on Sept. 10, but even then some inside the clubhouse were essentially lobbying for Tingler’s dismissal no matter how the season ended.

While they insisted they had not thrown in the towel — and there were examples that seemed to support that contention, as well as evidence on the scoreboard that indicated they had all but given up — it was clear for some time that a malaise had infected the clubhouse.

Any discord was hopefully explained away for a time as a product of frustration and blame shifting that surfaces on every team not quite playing its best as crunch time nears.

“Winning fixes everything,” several people said all through the final two weeks of August and early in September.

By the time the Padres were swept in Los Angeles at the start of the trip, fewer people were saying it.  And those who were did so with less conviction.

Winning two games at the end of their series in San Francisco had their spirits up.  They briefly saw through the fog a path to the postseason.

But they knew they needed to take at least two of three here.  No one denied that.  Many said it outright.

The extent of the team’s off-field issues is not clear, and only an indistinct line can be drawn when attempting to discern the effect those issues have had on performance in games.

But conversations with more than a dozen people — in all levels of the Padres organization and others around the team and throughout the league, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity — make it clear that the atmosphere has grown increasingly uneasy.

There is a disconnect between the front office and clubhouse that stems, at least in part, from moves made and not made and one move that was attempted at the trade deadline.

Tingler, never a choice that excited many veteran players, has seen his influence over the team further abate as the losses have mounted.  Where Tingler’s standing was at first enhanced by his having been the choice of Preller, players’ inability to separate manager from management has put Tingler in a further bind.

“There is no trust,” one player said recently.  “You want to know people have your back.”

That player was far from the only one to allude to a lack of trust.

Tingler said, “I do” to both the question of whether he felt he had the respect of the clubhouse and whether he had enough separation from Preller to properly do his job.

Asked if he was surprised whether those questions would even have to be asked, Tingler replied:

“When we’re struggling and not playing the way we’re capable of, as a manager I have responsibility for it.  I love our players.  I think they play their asses off.  I’m never a guy who is going point a finger at anybody, except a thumb at myself, when things aren’t going right.”

It is important to note that, as is the case in virtually every circumstance like this, not every player is in agreement.  Some are equally frustrated by what they see as excuses being made by teammates for poor performance.

“It’s been addressed,” one veteran said.

Whatever level of antipathy that may have existed, however, it was exacerbated at the trade deadline.

Players were disappointed the Padres did not acquire help for the starting rotation.  Moreover, there was great consternation that Preller tried to deal Hosmer and that there was a lack of communication surrounding that potential move.

Some also expressed confusion over the lineup crowding created by the addition of second baseman Adam Frazier, especially when the team already had an All-Star at the position in Jake Cronenworth.

Several people volunteered that Hosmer, who declined to speak for this article, has seemed to go out of his way to not make his involvement in trade talks an issue.

There is an attempt under way internally to discern the actual problems from the portion of dissatisfaction and finger pointing fueled by frustration.  There is still a hope, however small, they can avoid what would arguably be the most disappointing season in franchise history.

“We continue to focus on qualifying for the playoffs and playing through October,” Preller said.

Fixes to the roster will have to wait until the offseason.  Considering Preller’s history, there is little doubt moves are coming.  That is considered especially likely since such heavy investment has been made already that the feeling is the team can’t stop building now.

Multiple team sources said October will bring further changes to the coaching staff, adding to the one made in August when pitching coach Larry Rothschild was let go.

The decision of whether Tingler stays or goes, according to people familiar with how Padres Chairman Peter Seidler operates, will be Preller’s alone.

The path forward could be complicated by the relationship between the two, as it has complicated the current situation.

There was a strong conviction within the organization that the Padres needed an experienced manager after the firing of Andy Green in 2019.  In the end, however, Preller was given the green light to hire Tingler.  The two were close from their time with the Texas Rangers.  Tingler, about to turn 39 at the time of his hiring in October 2019, was a highly regarded coach but had never managed in the major leagues.

The thinking by many in and around the team is that someone as respected as three-time World Series winner Bruce Bochy, who sources say is open to managing again, would get the most out of the Padres, the team he led from 1995 to 2006.

However, no one familiar with the inner workings of the Padres is convinced Preller will fire Tingler or replace him with an experienced manager.

However, it is Preller who built the team and hired his manager.  It is Preller who in February received a contract extension that runs through 2026.

The Padres are supposedly in the beginning of a championship window.  It is Preller who has to do the work to make sure that window doesn’t shatter.

Friday, September 17, 2021

U.S. MILITARY - Storage Companies' Disrespect of Our Troops

"Storage Company Must Pay Airman $60,000 After Selling His Property While He Was Deployed" by Steve Beynon, 9/16/2021

A Massachusetts storage company accused of selling an airman's belongings while he was deployed overseas must pay thousands of dollars in fines and compensation, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

In February 2019, Tech. Sgt. Charles Cornacchio, who is based at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, deployed to Qatar.  In July of that year, PRTaylor Enterprises LLC, a company doing business as Father & Son Moving & Storage, auctioned off all his stored belongings, according to a federal lawsuit.

Cornacchio did not find out about the sale for another month, while he was still deployed.

The items included military gear; mementos that belonged to a cousin who had been killed in action while also serving in the military; his grandfather's military medals; a dresser handmade by his great-grandfather; and family photographs.

The Justice Department said the auction was a violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a broad set of legal protections for both active-duty and reserve troops.  According to the SCRA, anyone storing a service member's property must obtain a court order before selling or disposing of it.  Father & Son Moving & Storage, based in Billerica, Massachusetts, did not do so, violating federal law, prosecutors say.

The Justice Department has aggressively enforced the SCRA, going after several companies who sold off service members' property in recent years.  In 2020, the department sued a Florida towing company, Target Recovery Towing Inc., alleging they auctioned off a Marine's car while she was deployed.  The company settled and was ordered to pay the Marine $17,500 and a $2,500 federal fine.

Later that year, federal prosecutors went after another Florida towing company, ASAP Towing and Storage, alleging it auctioned off dozens of service members' vehicles.  The company was ordered to pay out compensations totaling up to $99,500 and a $20,000 fine.  The city of San Antonio, Texas, also agreed to pay $47,000 to two service members after they complained the city unlawfully auctioned off their vehicles.

Prosecutors say Father & Son Moving & Storage knew Cornacchio was in the military and deployed abroad, adding that he was even in uniform at the time company movers came to pack up his belongings.

The company settled the suit and will pay Cornacchio $60,000 in compensation, as well as a $5,000 federal fine.  It also was ordered to create policies to prevent further SCRA violations.

"This settlement should send a clear message to all storage facility operators that federal law prohibits them from auctioning off a servicemember's possessions without a court order," Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

CYPRUS - Anti-Terror Drill

"US Navy SEALs, Cyprus Special Forces Hold Anti-Terror Drill" (AP), 09/11/2021

LIMASSOL, Cyprus (AP) — Members of the U.S. Navy’s elite special forces SEAL unit joined Cypriot underwater demolition soldiers on Friday in a joint drill to hone skills in countering terrorist hijackings at sea.

The exercise involved teams of U.S. and Cypriot special forces re-taking a ship controlled by terrorists.

Cypriot Defense Minister Charalambos Petrides said after the drill that Cyprus and the U.S. are on the same “strategic path” to ensure security and stability in a turbulent region.

He said close cooperation between the two countries’ special forces in the past two years aims to achieve peak preparedness in order to deal with “asymmetrical threats and emerging crises.”

U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Judith Garber said more joint drills will follow in the near future.

The U.S. decided for the first time last year to provide military education and training funding to Cyprus following Congressional approval as part of Washington’s [DC] push to enhance ties with countries in the region in order to boost security.

The funding is part of the Eastern Mediterranean Energy and Security Partnership Act that U.S. legislators approved in 2019.  The legislation underscores U.S. support for a partnership between Greece, Cyprus and Israel founded on recently discovered offshore gas deposits in the region.

The Act also partially lifts a 1987 U.S. arms embargo on Cyprus that was imposed to prevent an arms race that could hamper efforts to reunify the ethnically divided island nation.

Monday, September 13, 2021

OPINION - Brooks and Capehart 9/10/2021

"Brooks and Capehart on the anniversary of 9/11, the politics of vaccinationsPBS NewsHour 9/10/2021


SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart join John Yang to discuss the week in politics, including the anniversary of 9/11, the politics of vaccinations and California's recall election.

John Yang (NewsHour):  On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the deadliest terror attack in the country, we are in the midst of another calamity, COVID-19.

Here to break down the political aspects of all this, the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.  That's New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.

Gentlemen, we just heard Judy lead a discussion about the foreign policy aspects of all of this.  And, certainly I can — looking back on 9/11, I remember how we felt changed from this.  But, looking back, looking backward at it, how did we change?  Are we changed as a people, as a nation, as a political system?

David, what's your take?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Well, as a globe.

I mean, it was the first act of the 21st century.  And so I was a foreign correspondent in the 1990s.  I covered nothing but good news.  I covered the end of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mandela coming an end of apartheid, the Oslo Peace Process.

And the theme of the '90s was convergence.  China was liberalizing.  We were becoming more like each other and more communication with each other.  We thought the Internet was a good thing back then.

And 9/11 happens, and a group of terrorists said, no, we don't want to be like you.  We reject you.

And so that was a shock.  And then you have other shocks.  The Chinese stops liberalizing.  We don't want to be like you.  Russia goes to Putin.  We don't want to be like that.

So the 21st century has been the re-erection of barriers.  And 9/11 was a first shocking foretaste of a much tougher world.

John Yang:  Jonathan, as I recall, you were in New York.  You were working for Michael Bloomberg.

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post:  Right.  Right.  I was working on his first of three mayoral campaigns in New York City, and it was primary day.

And I remember waking up.  I lived in a high-rise, so I had a perfect view of the city.  It was a crystal-clear day.  I remember walking to the voting place, looking up at the sky and thinking, this is a spectacular day.  And still to this day, that is — I'd never seen a day like that in New York City.

And all hell broke loose later, about 90 minutes later, later that morning.  Lots of things changed that day.  We were in the middle of a mayoral campaign.  The campaign stopped.

At one point while we're watching the coverage on television, someone just asks out loud, has anyone heard from the mayor, meaning Rudy Giuliani at the time, who, on primary day, everyone in New York was looking forward to turning the page from Rudy Giuliani's mayoralty.

And the rest, we know, is history.

I think that, in these 20 years, just to add on to what David was just talking about, we have seen a lot of what I think of as one step — one giant step forward, and then two giant steps back.  One giant step forward was the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, first Black President.

But a huge step back was the election of Donald Trump as President.  Another huge, huge step forward, the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States.  Another huge step forward, marriage equality.  But another huge step back, to my mind, one was the fact that, even though Donald Trump lost the election, he got 15 — 12 million more votes than he did in 2016.  So it just highlights the divisions within the country.

And then the ultimate step back, January 6.  My colleague Carlos Lozada said this morning on television that how ironic it is that, on September 11, there were reports that the plane that went down in Shanksville was headed to the Capitol, headed to crash into the Capitol.  And yet, at almost 20 years later, the Capitol was ransacked by domestic terrorists who lay siege to the U.S. Capitol at a time when the members of — Congress was certifying the last election.

That was, to my mind, the ultimate step back.  And to your point about the world turning away from democracy, we have that issue here at home right now.

John Yang:  So, Jonathan, you see it — what I hear you saying is that other forces have changed politics more since 9/11 than 9/11.

Jonathan Capehart:  Oh, I think so.

I think MAGA and the domestic terror threat is much more worrisome than any foreign threat we could face.

John Yang:  David.

David Brooks:  Yes, I would agree.

I think we had — we thought we had some debates settled.  And the settlement was liberal pluralism, democratic capitalism, and the world is sort of evolving away from some sort of primitivism.  And then, suddenly, 9/11 happens, and Afghanistan and al-Qaida, and then ISIS.

So, apparently, we're not evolving away from that.  And then — and then capitalism, well, 2008, that sort of disillusions that.  And then, oh, we're a more diverse nation, Barack Obama.  2016 disillusions that.

COVID, we can't function as a people.  We have lost faith in each other.  And so it's been a sad epoch of disillusionment, not without good things, as Jonathan said, but the — just look at the dumb figure, do you trust your neighbors?  Do you trust the people around you?

Anyway generation ago, 50, 60 percent.  Now it's 30 percent, 19 percent of millennials.  And this is the world they have known.  And their distrust is an earned distrust.  And so this is the legacy of what we have faced in the past two decades.

John Yang:  And we are in the midst of another calamity, the pandemic.

And as we have been focusing on 9/11 this week, it struck me.  Someone pointed out to me that, every two days this week, with COVID deaths, we have essentially had another 9/11 and also had another 20-year Afghan war in terms of the Americans who've died.

This week — or, yesterday, the President tried, after resisting mandates, has ordered mandates.

David, what do you make of that shift?  And do you think this is going to work?

David Brooks:  First, I'm reminded, in — September 22, 2001, George Bush had a 90 percent approval rating.  We were a unified country.

We're not that anymore.  I — with the Biden mandates, I think the government has an absolute right to do this.  Public health and the air we breathe is a common good.  I nonetheless think it's a mistake.

If you go around, as I did, and we all do as reporters, you go to a town, McCook, Nebraska; Wilkes, North Carolina; and Chicago, you say, who's trusted here, in every neighborhood, people will give you names.  And they're always the same names.  Everybody knows who the nodes of community is in their community.

And I thought it was public health 101 that you go at the grassroots level to who's trusted in each neighborhood, and you try to get them to influence people to uptake vaccines and do anything else.

Having a top-down, highly partisan process from the part of government that is disliked the most, the politics that is distrusted the most seems to be the wrong way to go.  And it seems to me it's going to create a backlash, where a lot of people that don't like Joe Biden are going to say, hell no, I'm definitely not taking the vaccines now.

And so I think it's — the way we have done it is counterproductive.

John Yang:  Jonathan?

Jonathan Capehart:  I just — I hear you, David, but I just don't think, in this day and age, the grassroots aren't working.  From the bottom up, it's not working.

The President has resisted doing what he did yesterday for the longest time, facing enormous criticism from lots of people, asking, why isn't Washington [DC], why isn't the President doing something, exercising all the power that he has to do something, hoping that neighbors would trust neighbors, people would listen to health professionals?

And it's not happening.  And the anger in the country at the unvaccinated is palpable.  I am one of those people.  Howard Stern is out there cursing at people to get vaccinated because he — quote — "He wants his freedom back."

Millions of Americans, a majority of Americans want their freedom back.  And I think that the President was channeling that anger, and for — on behalf of the majority of the American people who just want their neighbors and friends and co-workers who are resisting getting the vaccine, or even putting on a mask, just do these two simple things, and we would be clear of this faster than then we could imagine.

But folks aren't doing it.  And so if they're not going to do it voluntarily, then the President decided, I'm going to click some levers to make it happen a little more quickly.

I don't think it's going to backfire on him.

John Yang:  But, as David pointed out, I mean, this is generating a huge amount of anger from people who don't like Joe Biden to begin with.

And the Republican governors going to — say they're going to go to court about this.  I mean, are — is this going to be — is it going to backfire?

Jonathan Capehart:  John, it was bound to happen.

Republican governors were bound to be against anything that the President proposed.  And, quite frankly, Republican governors, especially the governor of Texas, don't want to hear anything from him, given that Texas abortion law he signed — bill he signed into law.

David Brooks:  Yes, I would say a government doesn't even know how to do grassroots.  We don't have — in Washington [DC], people think top down.  They think, oh, let's get some celebrities.  That will persuade them.  It's just lame.

But if you — if — in every church, if every pastor, or in softball leagues, if people, if neighbors got together among the avenues of trust that already exist, and say, sorry, you can't play in the softball league unless you get the shots, to me, that's neighbor talking to neighbor.

It's less political.  It's less partisan.  And it doesn't happen on its own.  You — I mean, we're in a sophisticated economy where people know how to create swarms of activity across networks.  And yet government is incapable of thinking that way.

And so we are where we are.

John Yang:  But are the Republicans going to use this as a cudgel against the President, against the Democrats in the midterms and in '24?

David Brooks:  Oh, absolutely.

I mean, they had trouble trying to figure out how to attack Joe Biden.  But now, as a friend of mine e-mailed me today, now they have their line, unconstitutional, incompetent, running your life.  That's a Republican — that's a line Republicans know how to use.

And so I think they will use that.  And I don't want to associate myself with them.  I think they're being crazy.  But we should all be vaccinated.  But that's a pretty politically effective line, I think.

John Yang:  Well, there's another Democratic leader who got into trouble a little bit because of COVID and the reaction to his — what he was doing, Governor Gavin Newsom of California.

There's a recall election coming up.  There are 46 — count them — 46 candidates running to replace him if he is recalled.

What are your thoughts on that, Jonathan?

Jonathan Capehart:  This is insane that the governor of California, who has a high approval rating — his approval rating is a high 50s, low 60s.

And he is facing a recall simply because people don't want to wait until the next election to exact whatever revenge or to hold him accountable.  And so they're going to attempt to get rid of a popular governor.

And then, due to maybe apathy and low turnout, he could get recalled.  And then, yes, there are 46 candidates, but the one leading person, Larry Elder, is somebody who is — I mean, he's from the Trump — the Trump school and Trump wing of the Republican Party.

He is also African American.  And I — I'm almost speechless, because I cannot believe California is in this mess.  And yet, if Democrats don't come out and vote and don't return those ballots — I think the election is next week, if not next week, the week after — Governor Newsom could be history.

But I don't think that's going to happen.  But the fact that we're talking about this just demonstrates how crazy our politics are now.

John Yang:  David?

David Brooks:  The patterns is, in the referendum, the no's tend to rise at the end.  So, if there's going to be momentum, it will probably be on the Newsom side.

But I love democracy, but not direct democracy.


David Brooks:  And California over does it with the referendum and they overdo it with this.

We elect people for terms for a reason.  And that reason is, sometimes, they have to do unpleasant things that are going to make them unpopular.  And we — if you can be recalled at a moment's notice, it — then they're not going to do those things.

It's not like the ratings on TV, where you cancel the show if it has a bad season.  We have — we go through ups and downs with our politicians, and they should be unpopular.

John Yang:  David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart, thank you very much.

Jonathan Capehart:  Thanks, John.