Open Thread for Monday, November 23, 2015

"OK, I need y'all's John Hancocks on this ASAP, because I need to get busy on the Constitution..."

“OK, I need y’all’s John Hancocks on this ASAP, because I need to get busy on the Constitution…”

Slow news day so far — unless you’re in Brussels, or Paris — but let’s see if we can identify some topics to talk about:

  1. Locked Down for 3rd Day, Brussels Hunts Terror Suspects — The city is shut down, but the police have been busy — 20-something raids have produced 21 arrests, but the chief target has eluded authorities.
  2. Pfizer-Allergan Deal Shifts a U.S. Giant to Foreign Address — Yes, the deal brings with it “significant tax benefits.”

  3. Carson credits Thomas Jefferson with helping craft Constitution — Which would have been a neat trick, since he was in France at the time. He also alleged recently that none of the members of the Continental Congress had previously held elective office, which is also a complete fantasy.

  4. NPR is graying, and public radio is worried about it — That is to say, its audience is graying. Well, you know, it’s a very sober, responsible, thorough, grown-up sort of news source, and if you want your news Jon Stewart-style, it’s just not gonna be for you…
  5. Police: Man struck by dancer at MB club after he insulted her weight — She slapped him four times, according to the report, and then the bouncers tossed him out with extreme prejudice. You know what? I don’t want to sound cynical, but I’m beginning to doubt that all of the clientele at “gentlemen’s clubs” are actually gentlemen.

Please feel free to suggest your own topics.


30 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, November 23, 2015

  1. Bryan Caskey

    “Analysts at U.S. Central Command were pressured to ease off negative assessments about the Islamic State threat and were even told in an email to “cut it out,” Fox News has learned – as an investigation expands into whether intelligence reports were altered to present a more positive picture.

    Fox News is told by a source close to the CENTCOM analysts that the pressure on them included at least two emails saying they needed to “cut it out” and “toe the line.”

    Separately, a former Pentagon official told Fox News there apparently was an attempt to destroy the communications. The Pentagon official said the email warnings were “not well received” by the analysts.”


  2. Kathryn Fenner

    The coolest thing about the unfortunate Brussels lockdown, is that in response to authorities’ request that social media posts not reveal any details about raids, a veritable avalanche of cat photos has been posted.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      What was the deal with that? I can understand the police requesting that people not tweet something like “Hey, the SWAT team is about to breach the back door”. How did that turn into cat photos?

      1. Juan Caruso

        Bryan, you may have asked a question with more French relevance than you even realized:
        ” ‘Mimi’s cat is asleep under the table’ . Each code message was read out twice. By such means, the French Resistance were instructed to start sabotaging rail and other transport links the night before D-day.” source –

        Instead of “reading twice” )back before D-day), the modern update could be as simple as the update to a related cat tweet.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    So, now that we know that NPR isn’t drawing the kids anyway, can we undo the Morning Edition update of several years ago and bring back Bob Edwards? I thought he was kind of the public radio Walter Cronkite…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Maybe they could get a grant from Geritol.

      Speaking of which — whatever happened to Geritol? You never hear about it any more, and yet Google tells me it’s still out there for sale.

      The weird thing is, it was everywhere back in the 60s. At the height of the youth revolution, when all the world was young, it was a major advertising presence. Which is kind of weird timing. Now that the leading edge of the Baby Boom is at retirement age, suddenly it disappears? Who are the ad geniuses in charge of THEIR marketing?…

  4. Assistant

    So I put “carson jefferson constitution” into a search engine without quotes and found all sorts of webpages bemoaning Dr. Ben Carson’s ignorance of the Constitution. Ha, ha.

    Except, a few folks actually did some research and found that the good doctor wrote a book about the Constitution and the roots of our liberties. One can look the book up at Amazon and read some of it, including this: “Our government follows the model set out by Thomas Jefferson…”

    If one has the energy to do so, one can go to an arcane site maintained by something called the “Library of Congress and read something like this:

    Although Thomas Jefferson was in France serving as United States minister when the Federal Constitution was written in 1787, he was able to influence the development of the federal government through his correspondence. Later his actions as the first secretary of state, vice president, leader of the first political opposition party, and third president of the United States were crucial in shaping the look of the nation’s capital and defining the powers of the Constitution and the nature of the emerging republic.

    These attacks remind me of the really smart folks who jumped all over Sarah Palin in 2010 when warned Tea Party members that hard work was ahead by saying, “Don’t be thinking that we’ve got victory for America in the bag yet…We can’t party like it’s 1773.” Yes, America’s long war for independence officially started in 1776, but the Boston Tea Party was in 1773.

    Piers Morgan Twittered earlier this month “How did Ben Carson ever get to be a brain surgeon?”
    Iowahawk provided the first and best answer: “@piersmorgan by graduating Yale, U Michigan Med School, & a residency in neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. Hope that helps, unemployed TV guy.”

    1. Assistant

      You can also read this in tomorrow’s USA Today: Oops! Carson’s not actually wrong about Jefferson: Column.

      What a dope that Carson guy is. How did he ever get to be a surgeon? I’m laughing so hard, I gotta wipe tears from my eyes.

      Except, wait a minute, hmmmm, here’s an interesting historical footnote to the Constitutional Convention. At the time, an early version of email was available. It was the social media of its day, called “letters.” Important people, say, the U.S. minister in France, could give pieces of paper to ship captains who’d take them by boat all the way to Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, other important people would read words scratched onto the paper and respond in kind with a “reply.”

      In this fashion, early Americans could discuss important matters like constitutions and other government stuff ministers would care about. This was called “correspondence.”

      Guess who was writing these letter thingies? Thomas Jefferson.

      And do you know who was replying? George Washington and James Madison, among the most important framers of our Constitution.

      So here’s the crazy thing: Jefferson, Madison, Washington and others were discussing how the U.S. Constitution should be written.

      After the Constitution Convention was over, Jefferson had this other idea called a “Bill of Rights,” which you might have heard is a part of the Constitution. Jefferson sorta played a key role in all that First Amendment, Second Amendment stuff. If you don’t believe me, go ask the American Civil Liberties Union, which is big on rights like free speech and freedom of religion.

      Saith the ACLU: “The American Bill of Rights, inspired by Jefferson and drafted by James Madison, was adopted, and in 1791 the Constitution’s first 10 amendments became the law of the land.”

      The ACLU even quotes Jefferson’s argument: “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse.”

      To get the basics of Jefferson’s role in the creation of the Bill of Rights, which are, as I mentioned, a pretty important part of the Constitution, all you have to do is read the Spark Notes version. Or you can get it in easy Q&A format from the U.S. Archives.

      All that laughing I did at Carson’s expense? I take it back. I guess he sorta did know what he was talking about, after all.

      And the rest is hysteria.

      1. bud

        “I’m impressed by a lot of them, but particularly impressed with Thomas Jefferson, who seemed to have very deep insight into the way that people would react,” Carson said. “And he tried to craft our Constitution in a way that it would control people’s natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government.”
        Ben Carson

        That’s the exact quote. And it’s NOT, repeat NOT accurate. The implication is clear, Jefferson wrote (craft) the Constitution. He did not CRAFT the constitution. That is clearly an overstatement. You can suggest otherwise but clearly Carson stating that “he tried to craft our Constitution …” suggests he WROTE the constitution which he clearly did not. Carson may be a brilliant brain surgeon but he’s a terrible historian.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yes, Mike. Madison was in correspondence with his mentor Jefferson during the drafting of the Constitution, and Jefferson did offer advice. But he wasn’t the guy there doing the work, making the arguments and the deals and making it happen.

        AND Carson has published a book in which he got it right (that was in the story I linked to above). But I got the strong impression that he was forgetting what was in his book when he spoke.

        Of course, I’m kind of on a hair trigger when it comes to people exaggerating the role of Jefferson. Chalk it up to my being a John Adams fan. Adams was the real father of independence, who rammed it through the Congress while Jefferson sat and said nothing. Then Adams recruits Jefferson to put the independence resolution into writing, and henceforth Jefferson gets all the credit.

        And yes, the ACLU and other libertarians tend to play up Jefferson. But I think it can be misleading, such as when people get it into their heads that there is a “wall of separation” between church and state in the Constitution. There is not. That is from something Jefferson wrote, not the Constitution…

        1. Rose

          “But I got the strong impression that he was forgetting what was in his book when he spoke.”

          Ghost-written, perhaps?

    2. Barry

      Piers Morgan- LOL.

      Piers has failed at a lot of stuff (marriage, numerous jobs, professional ethics). He probably needs to be worried about himself instead of who America selects as a President.

  5. bud

    And there’s this from the good doctor:

    Trump initially did get back up from Carson, who told reporters gathered in Nevada that he did see celebrations of American Muslims in New Jersey after 9/11.

    “I saw the film of it, yes,” he said. Asked what kind of film, he said: “The news reels.”

    Carson is completely unfit to be POTUS. His lack of even a basic understanding of history, even recent history, makes his candidacy a joke, but worse, dangerous for a country that needs a leader who understands how the world works and has worked. Perhaps we can send Dr. Carson to Egypt to see if he can find that grain hiding in the pyramids. At least that would keep him away from the nuclear button.

      1. Assistant

        Immune to facts? Like the current semi-retired president vis-a-viz ISIS/L?

        BTW, our attack on the ISIS fuel tankers managed to destroy 116 of 300. Why fewer than half when all were sitting ducks? It’s not that we dropped leaflets 45 minutes before to warn the drivers who may have been civilians, not genuine, card-carrying ISIS member. Nope, They ran out of ammo and bombs. Where’d I read that logistics is the key to warfare?
        But what I found more interesting was this:

        Beyond the out-of-ammo problem, reporters raised the issue of the U.S. forces’ extreme care in avoiding civilian casualties. If American forces won’t hit any target if there is any fear that any non-ISIS person might be harmed, might that not prolong the time it takes to destroy the Islamic State, which is killing civilians right and left?

        “Is there a Catch-22 about not striking civilians and avoiding civilian casualties when, over the past year, the $50 million in oil revenue generated has been going to killing a large number of civilians?” a reporter asked. “Is there any risk that avoiding civilian casualties is actually prolonging more civilian casualties?”

        That was a very thoughtful question, [Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Steve] Warren conceded, and an issue American war planners think about constantly. But Warren didn’t have an answer. “It’s something that we wrestle with every day,” he said.

        I guess we can now return to our regularly schedule program of fear and cowering.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          OK, I’m going to see if I can win the prize for Geekiest Irrelevant Comment of the day:

          When I read that we had attacked ISIL’s oil tankers, striking at the heart of their wealth, I thought of the raid that the Atreides carried out to destroy the Harkonnen’s spice stockpiles early in Dune.

          Economically and strategically, it was very similar — trying to cripple the enemy by destroying his stores of something that is critically important to both of you, not to mention something that is key to why people keep fighting over this patch of ground…

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Then this happened today: Obama just said the UN Climate Conference will be a “powerful rebuke to terrorists.” Yeah, I’m sure ISIS is really quaking in their boots about the climate conference.

            Meanwhile, Turkey shot a Russian fighter jet out of the sky this morning. I don’t think it was piloted by an Archduke, but I can’t confirm. Good thing we can count on Putin to act rationally and not escalate things.

            1. Bryan Caskey

              We shall defend our theory about climate change, whatever the cost may be, we shall make solar power on the beaches, we shall use geothermal on the landing grounds, we shall have windmills in the fields and in the streets, we shall have hydroelectric in the hills; we shall never surrender to fossil fuels.

            2. Assistant

              Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf is on board the prevent-global-warming change, recommending that bathtubs be banned since their use wastes water and energy. Now before you start complaining about stinking Swedes, he’s a shower man and was a bit distressed that the hotel where he’s staying had tubs instead of showers.

              The king is pretty active when it comes to climate protection — he drives a hybrid, eats little meat and “tries to save energy in the Palace“. I’m sure he’ll be glad when the conference is over so he kick back in one of the 1,430 rooms in his palace, 660 of which have windows. I wonder if uses that window-sealer film to cut down on drafts in the winter…

            3. Assistant

              The Turks have always jealously guarded their airspace. During the Cold War they gave direct operational control of their anti-aircraft missile batteries to their border signals / electronic intelligence posts so that if any Soviet aircraft strayed even a smidgeon over the border, they could (and would) let loose a volley. Looks like that hasn’t changed.

    1. Assistant

      Bud –
      Here are 10 Made-Up Talking Points to Help You WIN Thanksgiving and HUMILIATE Your Idiot Granddad:

      1. Chemical analysts at the University of Wisconsin have concluded that the first recorded Thanksgiving meal was entirely gluten-free.
      2. For the first time in history, millennials are now contributing more in taxes than their parents’ generation.
      3. According to the World Health Organization, more than 90 percent of all terrorists were vaccinated as children.
      4. The wealthiest five U.S. corporations are worth more than the combined GDP of Africa, South America, and Australia.
      5. The most frequently used word in the Democratic primary debates is “Koran.” The most frequently used word in the Republican debates is “Koranification.”
      6. The average cost of a four-year college education in 2015 is greater than the average cost of an aircraft carrier in 1945, adjusted for inflation.
      7. The NYPD is responsible for more annual deaths than lung cancer.
      8. According to a recent Gallup survey, 73 percent of registered Republicans think Lena Dunham is a Muslim.
      9. Doctors Without Borders and Hezbollah were founded by the same person.
      10. The first world leader to use the phrase “carbon footprint” in an official address was Winston Churchill in 1942.

      Have fun!

Comments are closed.