Sunday, January 31, 2016

Snakebit by the Sunday Globe

It's the blogging about it that is the poison:

"Quabbin ‘rattlesnake island’ idea leaves some squirming" by Nestor Ramos Globe Staff  January 24, 2016

NEW SALEM — The state’s plan to revive a native endangered species on a remote island sounds suspiciously like the opening scenes of a horror movie: Breed and raise 150 venomous timber rattlesnakes until they’re good and strong, then turn them loose on protected land in the middle of the Quabbin Reservoir.

What could go wrong?

“Well, they swim,” said Peter Mallett, president of the Millers River Fishermen’s Association, who opposes the plan. The notion of 150 big wet snakes finding their way to shore and setting out for the neighboring hiking trails and homes has him wondering which population ought to qualify as endangered.

The state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, where the plan was hatched, offered assurances that a small island full of rattlesnakes would pose no threat.

Forgive me for having some doubts, but given this state's track record regarding management and truthfulness....

Any that escape the island will die during the following winter, unable to make it back to their nest, said Tom French, assistant director of the department. And in reality, rattlesnakes are shy creatures who bite people only when threatened, he said.

Yeah, somehow it's our fault, as if reality was something one would find in a newspaper.

But some local residents aren’t so sure, and the debate is now hung up in a tangentially related dispute over whether a local man’s dog was really bitten by a snake last summer. The proposal has also struck a deeper nerve here, where some still mourn the loss 75 years ago of the four towns erased to make room for the reservoir that provides drinking water to Boston.

This part of the state has always been dumped on.

“There’s a lot of resentment,” said J.R. Greene, a local historian and author, and the chairman of Friends of the Quabbin, a nonprofit group devoted to promoting and preserving the reservoir’s past and present. Some fear the rattlesnake island plan could lead to the closure of the popular recreation area around the reservoir, Greene said — “another example of Boston lording it over this part of the state.”

To be fair, the snakes were here before any of us.

Oh. For once the misanthropic Globe is being fair with its agenda-pushing.

Timber rattlesnakes once slithered through forests and feasted on mice and chipmunks all over Massachusetts. But deforestation over the last two centuries left little habitat that allowed for their deep underground nests in winter. Today, only a few isolated populations remain in the Blue Hills, the Connecticut River valley, and Berkshire County.

They have also faced less passive persecution.

Since the two species’ earliest encounters, terrified humans have been hacking the heads off of snakes. Some still do.

It's a survival response and they are guilt trip us over it. 

So what do we do with lying, war-criminal leaders and their mouthpiece pre$$ that have led to the deaths of millions of people over damnable lies? 

That's a horror movie!

French said the whole point of putting them on an island is to protect the snakes from people, not the other way around.

No offense, but if the snakes were already gone what is the point?

What is with these people?

Rattlesnake bites are exceedingly rare in Massachusetts, French said, and haven’t been fatal since Colonial times. Venomous snake bites these days almost always involve someone doing something exceptionally foolish: Attacking or trying to grab a snake, or keeping one as a pet.

It’s illegal in Massachusetts to keep a venomous snake as a pet, but people do it: Someone on Cape Cod was bitten by his pet cobra. He lived.

“Science does not carry the day in these kinds of things,” French said. “Emotion does.”

That was when I became skeptical of the state plan. 

Must be the hypocrisy.

He’s not entirely opposed to the snake island concept.

In the horror movie, those would be his famous last words....

These are going to me mine regarding this, but you can continue viewing if you want.


I did leave you an antidote given to me by the pre$$:

"Probiotics are said to improve digestive and immune health. They’re touted as potential treatments for conditions ranging from inflammatory bowel disease to eczema to tooth decay. Some marketing campaigns even hint that they can prevent the flu. Scientific evidence, however, does not necessarily support those claims. Studies in rodents and small groups of humans point to possible health benefits of consuming probiotics. But there have been only a few large human trials — in large part because Food and Drug Administration rules have dissuaded food companies and federally funded researchers from conducting the types of studies that could confirm, or refute, the proposed benefits of consuming “good” microbes. Based on the smaller-scale studies done so far, there’s no indication that probiotics can treat obesity, autism, diabetes, or high cholesterol. Nor do they seem effective against the flu or common cold. “The whole field is under a bit of a cloud,” said Stephen Allen, a professor of pediatrics at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom."

Erin Andrews lied?

This is the last time I'm going to open my mouth today so I can avoid the venom of pain in my lower arms and elbows that is striking me more and more often and with increasing frequency the longer I blog.


"Snakes, says Dr. Matt Lewin, are “like little mobile land mines”: They’re invisible, lying in wait in populated areas, killing or maiming without warning. Worldwide, tens of thousands of people die from snakebites every year, but an existing drug could change that."

More like $nakebit at this point.


"Lawmakers hiss at plan to introduce endangered snakes on island" y Steve Annear Globe Staff  April 05, 2016

Not so fast, snake breeders.

Beacon Hill lawmakers want to suspend a state plan to establish a habitat of endangered timber rattlesnakes on a remote island in the Quabbin Reservoir until they can hold a hearing on the issue and speak with constituents.

“We want to make sure we are ahead of this and have all of our questions answered so that nobody — especially from the local community — is caught off guard,” said state Senator Eric P. Lesser, a Longmeadow Democrat....


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Slow Saturday Special: Suffolk University Spat

Globe started it?

"Could Martha Coakley be Suffolk’s next president?" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  January 29, 2016

Suffolk University president Margaret McKenna, whose short tenure has been marked by tumultuous relations with the school’s governing board, has been told privately that the board has the votes to fire her if it chooses and has been asked to resign, according to a person close to the university.

Has anyone mentioned such a thing at 1600 Pennsylvania?

At the same time, the board is in negotiations with former state attorney general Martha Coakley to take over as president, according to the same person, and confirmed by a second person briefed on the developments.

McKenna, reached late Thursday evening, denied she is being forced out.

The board of trustees has taken no formal vote to oust McKenna, and the school has not finalized any deal with Coakley, according to both people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing negotiations.

But such an abrupt change, just seven months after McKenna’s appointment, would mark yet another bump in the road for the school, which has suffered from a revolving door of presidents since longtime leader David Sargent retired abruptly in 2010 amid outrage over his lavish pay, which totaled $2.8 million in the 2006-07 academic year. McKenna is the school’s fourth leader in five years.

She didn't even have time for orientation.

Asked how McKenna responded, the person close to the university said, “She hasn’t yet.”

Coakley did not immediately return three calls for comment Thursday.

The state’s first female attorney general, Coakley held the position from 2007 to 2015 and emerged as a national leader on the foreclosure epidemic, wrangling some $900 million in settlements from lenders and investment banks that fueled the subprime mortgage crisis.

She also cracked down on for-profit colleges, won major settlements with pharmaceutical companies that engaged in Medicaid fraud, and helped push a tough domestic violence bill through the state Legislature. In addition, she famously filed an early challenge to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

I'm wondering what other secrets she knows so that she mu$t be taken care of in this way.

But Coakley also gained a reputation as a poor campaigner in her failed bid for the Senate in 2010, when she suffered a humiliating defeat to Republican Scott Brown, and in 2014, when she lost a close gubernatorial election to Charlie Baker.

This presidential election is only amongst a handful of people.


Does that mean she will have to give up the job at BU? 

I'll bet $uffolk pays more.

"Suffolk president says she will not resign" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  January 29, 2016

Suffolk University president Margaret McKenna vowed Friday that she would not yield to trustees’ pressure to step down, even as the board chairman sent McKenna a terse letter warning her against campaigning to keep her job.

She wants to deliver this year's commencement address.

The unusually public standoff will likely come to a head next week when the board of trustees votes whether to fire McKenna after a mere seven months at the helm. People close to the board said trustees were in talks with former state attorney general Martha Coakley to take over as president.

As McKenna’s job seemed to be in question, faculty, students, and alumni sprang to her defense. They focused their anger at trustees, who critics said have been allowed to micromanage the downtown school with little accountability or concern for its best interest.

The student government association plans to take a vote of no confidence in Meyer, the chairman of the board of trustees, and call for him to step down next week. The faculty senate took a vote of “deep and sincere” confidence in McKenna on Friday.

Many students and professors called the board’s move to oust McKenna the last straw in trustees’ failed track record to resurrect the troubled school. They pointed out that McKenna is Suffolk’s fifth president in five years and the first whom they considered truly capable of improving the college.

“This has a lot more to do with the problems with the chairman of the board than with any of the presidents,” said Matthew W. Jerram, a psychology professor who has taught at Suffolk for 11 years.

Students and professors don’t agree with all the changes McKenna has announced but said she has their respect.

“President McKenna has been nothing but a godsend,” said Suffolk senior Victoria Ireton. “We need stability at Suffolk University, and she has brought that to us.”

McKenna started in July knowing the job would be tough. The college has a small endowment and lacks direction because of its revolving door of presidents since 2010, when longtime leader David Sargent retired abruptly amid outrage over his lavish pay, which totaled $2.8 million in the 2006-07 academic year.

As support for McKenna galvanized on campus Friday, and the hashtag #SUStandsWithMcKenna blossomed on social media, the standoff between her and the board intensified.

The board’s chairman, Andrew Meyer, and Mark E. Sullivan, chairman of the search committee that chose McKenna, sent a cease-and-desist letter to the president instructing her not to use “university resources” to attempt to sway board members in her favor. It is not clear whether the letter was in response to the e-mail McKenna sent the same day to faculty.

In the midst of the furor, Coakley remained silent on whether she is indeed considering the job. The unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor and US Senate did not return multiple calls for comment Thursday and Friday.

In 2011, when Coakley was attorney general, her office found that the University of Massachusetts board of trustees repeatedly violated the state’s Open Meeting Law during its search for a new president.

On Friday, Suffolk University students criticized the board for the same type of secrecy in its apparent courting of Coakley as McKenna’s successor, even though Suffolk is a private school and not subject to open meeting laws.

“To use this route instead of dialogue is just absolutely disheartening and quite frankly, childish,” said Colin Loiselle, a senior and student government president. “In the past, nobody has challenged [the board] and now we know why, because when you do, this is what happens.”

Other students also gave examples of how they said board members meddle in daily operations at Suffolk while simultaneously lacking an understanding of the school.

Former student government president Tyler LeBlanc recalled that the board insisted in controlling details as small as the time and location of a student group fair.

“They want their hands in everything, but they don’t understand the things they’re micromanaging,” LeBlanc said.

Just like the U.S. Congre$$.


Her problem? 

She had an optimistic, but  “antagonistic” style. 

So whose toes did she step on and what did she discover prowling around?

NEXT DAY UPDATE: Suffolk trustees criticize president on spending, style 

I haven't read the article (or any of the Globe today) and its looking increasingly unlikely that I will. 

What a pos.

Also see: 

Under-fire Suffolk University president challenges trustees

Suffolk University’s board taking a PR hit

Suffolk University board needs to look at itself 

I love the hypocrisy from on high considering their ongoing delivery woes. 

I have no dog in this fight, and couldn't really care any less.

Slow Saturday Special: Exce$$ at Essex

"School district asks former leader of Essex Technical to return $89k" by Kathy McCabe Globe Staff  January 30, 2016

The former superintendent of the Essex Technical High School in Danvers has been accused of receiving nearly $89,000 in salary and benefits that he was not entitled to under his contract.

Daniel O’Connell, who retired in July, received the money for unused vacation, a stipend, and health insurance benefits, according to a letter sent to him in November by a Boston lawyer representing the school district. The district serves 17 communities from Peabody to Rockport.

O’Connell was paid $58,242 for unused vacation, $20,000 in a salary stipend, and $10,066 in health and dental benefits that he is now being asked to return, the letter stated. He also charged an undisclosed amount on the school district’s gas credit card for his personal use.

“We requested the money be returned to the district,” Melissa Teixeira, the School Committee chairwoman, said Thursday. “But we have not received anything.”

The committee voted on Jan. 21 to report its findings to the Essex district attorney, state Ethics Commission, and state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. “We want to determine if there has been any educator misconduct, and assess whether [O’Connell’s] license should be revoked,” Teixeira said.

A lawyer representing O’Connell said his client does not owe the school district any money. “We believe that any payments he received were all properly authorized,” said Gabriel O. Dumont Jr.

At issue is a dispute over the impact of an employment provision of the state law that created the Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School District on July 1, 2014.

The district was formed by the merger of the former North Shore Technical High School in Middleton, the state-owned Essex Agricultural School in Danvers, and part of the vocational education program at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School.

The law states that employees of each of the three districts would retain their existing benefits after the merger was completed. O’Connell, as the superintendent of North Shore Technical, signed a 3½ year contract in 2010 that was amended at various points to include salary increases, stipends, and other benefits, Dumont said.

Dumont noted that once O’Connell became superintendent of the merged Essex Technical High School, his payments were approved each month by the School Committee.

“He’s frustrated and concerned about his good name,” Dumont said. “The suggestion that these payments were done in secret, or not known to the School Committee, is just not true.”

Teixeira acknowledged the payments were approved. “The School Committee has to assume some responsibility, because we sign off,” she said. “In the past, we have not taken enough to review” the district’s payroll.

A legal review and a payroll audit performed for the district showed that O’Connell was paid funds to which he was not entitled and that he “directed the Business Manager to pay these funds without the mandated documentation.”

Teixeira said she was first made aware of allegations of financial impropriety last spring and she brought her concerns to other members of the School Committee. In July, the board met in executive session with O’Connell, and he announced his intention to retire in a public session that followed.

The committee also hired a law firm to investigate “some financial allegations and potential ethics violations” against O’Connell, Teixeira said.

“We want to assure the taxpayers and those who are concerned about the School Committee operating in the proper manner” that allegations are being fully addressed, she said.

The legal investigation is ongoing and the audits have been expanded to include new areas, such as student activities and other accounts, Teixeira said.


Did you see the car sitting in his driveway?

"Police say suspect shot after carjacking Lexus" by Shelley Murphy and Steve Annear Globe Staff   January 29, 2016

LYNN — A man wanted for allegedly threatening his ex-girlfriend was fatally shot by police Friday after he tried to evade arrest by carjacking a passing motorist at gunpoint, according to authorities.

Randolph McClain, 33, was facing five charges for violating restraining orders and making threats when police attempted to arrest him at 8:30 a.m. Friday at a home at 106 Bay View Ave., Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said during an afternoon press conference.

Four officers were let into the home by a resident and called out for McClain, who responded that “he had a gun and would kill them,” Blodgett said.

McClain crawled out a second-floor window, pointed a gun at an officer from a porch, then jumped to the ground and led police on a foot chase through several backyards, according to Blodgett.

When McClain reached the intersection of Nichols and Western avenues, he ordered a woman out of her black Lexus at gunpoint and jumped into the driver’s seat, according to Blodgett.

“As officers approached the vehicle, he pointed his gun at them,” Blodgett said. “At that point, three officers fired their weapons at him.”

McClain was transported to North Shore Medical Center Salem Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Blodgett said. He said authorities do not believe McClain fired his gun.

“As soon as the investigation and report is complete, it will be released to the public,” he said. “The officers are certainly shaken up,” said Blodgett.

Lynn police said the three officers involved in the shooting will be placed on administrative leave for three days.

A woman who identified herself as McClain’s sister-in-law briefly stopped by the shooting scene Friday afternoon and stood behind yellow crime scene tape that kept people away as a team of police combed the area for evidence. A gun was visible on the ground next to the Lexus, which had a shattered window.

“All I can say is I know that my brother-in-law was a good man,” Nefertiti Graham told reporters, adding, “and he had a good heart, and he loved his children, and he loved the mother of his children, and he loved all his brothers and sisters, and he loved his mother and father.”

Blodgett said McClain was the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Lynn Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit because of multiple restraining order violations and threats. McClain allegedly threatened his ex-girlfriend and her family with a gun repeatedly over the last three weeks, he said.

That's not love.

Police had five warrants for McClain, who was homeless, and attempted to arrest him after tracking him to the Bay View Avenue address, Blodgett said. 

Is a good way to evade authority.

The dramatic confrontation on a busy street during morning rush hour frightened neighbors who heard the barrage of gunshots and saw McClain bleeding on the ground.

Ondina Deleon, who lives on Western Avenue, said she was in her second-floor apartment earlier in the morning when she heard someone outside yell, “Put the gun down! Put the gun down!”

Deleon said, “Then I heard shots.”

She said she looked outside and saw police running toward a car. A woman walking nearby with a toddler when the shooting happened was crouched on the ground, she said.

Maria Pena, an 18-year-old college student who also lives in the neighborhood, said she was in her kitchen when she heard the gunshots. She said she looked outside and saw the victim, who appeared to have fallen out of a car after being shot.

“I saw his body there and a gun on the ground,” Pena said.

She said the gun was beside the man, who was partially in the car and partially on the ground.

Luis Miro, pastor of Grace City Church in Lynn, stopped by the shooting scene after hearing about it and said he posted a video on the church’s website urging parishioners to pray for all involved.

“This is not a case about who is right and who is wrong right now,” Miro said. “At the end of the day, a life was lost.”

If nothing else, that thought puts everything into perspective.


Time for me to drive away from the blog for a bit. 

Five posts in one day is a bit excessive, doncha think?

Slow Saturday Special: Do You Remember Mariano Malave?

"Man convicted of murder sentenced to life in prison" by Peter Schworm Globe Staff  January 29, 2016

Mariano Malave was 25 when he was fatally shot in April 2012 during a drug deal in Jamaica Plain.

His killer, Charles Reddicks, 21, was sentenced to life in prison Friday.

He will be out sooner than you think.

Malave had been dealing drugs but had told family members he was about to give it up. He had gotten a job at Home Depot, had enrolled in school, and seemed to be headed in the right direction, his relatives said.

“He had a purpose,” said his cousin, Vladimir Manigat. “He said the drug-dealing was just paying the bills, and he wasn’t going to do it much longer.”

Ummmm.... what kind of drugs where they? 

On the day he died, Malave had visited his probation officer, who had urged Malave to straighten out his life, to thank her for standing by him, the Globe reported in 2012.

After Reddicks and Malave had negotiated the sale of a pound of marijuana, Reddicks shot him several times, prosecutors say. Reddicks, who was out on bail on assault charges, was arrested three weeks later.

I'm opposed to legal and regret my vote for medical; however, someone getting killed for a bag of weed? 

Maybe I wrong. 

Also see: Drug traffickers seek safe haven amid legal marijuana in Colo.

Then again, maybe not.

With a wistful smile, Manigat recalled Malave’s big grin and giving nature. It was terrible, he said, that drug disputes could cause so much damage.

“It’s a senseless way to have someone taken away from you,” he said. “It’s got to stop.”

Conrad Meneide, Malave’s brother, said he was proud of the progress Malave was making. He had been meaning to call and tell him that, he said, but hadn’t found the time.

Before imposing the sentence, Superior Court Judge Linda Giles said the family’s impact statements were the most poignant she had ever heard, capturing their profound loss without a trace of vengeance. She assured the family that while Reddicks would be eligible for parole after 15 years, he would probably not have an opportunity to be released for “many years after that.”

Why not? 

States and federal governments are pretty much emptying all jails right now. 

That means law enforcement will need more money as crime and chaos propel calls for order from citizens to authority -- which is just what authority wants to advance this thing into a full-blown military dictatorship (we just won't call it that and we will have the charade of $elections every 2-4 years).


Sadly, he's already forgotten here.

Slow Saturday Special: Getting Over the Humphries

Posting this will allow me to move forward to the current Saturday before moving on yet again:

"Man taken into custody after siege at home in Roxbury" by Laura Crimaldi and John R. Ellement Globe Staff  January 22, 2016

The man who officials said barricaded himself inside a Roxbury apartment building Friday morning before surrendering peacefully to police was ordered held in lieu of $10,000 cash bail in Roxbury Municipal Court after pleading not guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon.

James L. Humphries, 28, is accused of pointing what appeared to be a firearm at a neighbor after assaulting a woman in the hallway of his Hutchings Street apartment building, according to a statement from Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office.

Humphries then allegedly barricaded himself in his apartment, an act that brought a major response from Boston police who sent SWAT officers, a negotiator, ambulances, and a firetruck into the neighborhood. An armored vehicle was kept on standby. An MBTA bus was also brought in to warm any evacuees, police said.

Silly excuse cover for another Jade Helm drill or just over-militarized reaction in the age of total state tyranny?

The standoff lasted about 2½ hours and ended after the police negotiator spoke with the man, who then decided to surrender peacefully. Police were waiting for a search warrant Friday night before they could search the man’s apartment for a firearm, officials said.

Adam Brown, who lives across from the apartment building, said he did not realize anything was amiss until he looked out his window and saw officers had swarmed the area. He described the police as calm but concerned.

Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans told reporters that witnesses saw an armed man hitting a woman on the street.

“He pulled the woman back into the apartment,” Evans said after the stand off ended. “The officers tried to make headway into the apartment but they couldn’t, due to the dangerous nature of the call.”

“The negotiators were successful in talking the suspect out of the apartment,” Evans said. “Thank God there was no female injured in the apartment at all and right now he’s being taken into custody.”

He described the operation as “textbook” for the way officers negotiated with the man and “slowed down the incident.”

Nobody got hurt,” Evans said. “Sometimes if you move quick on these incidents someone can get hurt. They slowed it down. Time is always our best friend here and they were able to talk him out of the apartment without anyone getting hurt.”


Boston police took a man into custody after a standoff Friday morning in Roxbury.
Boston police took a man into custody after a standoff Friday morning in Roxbury (Justin Saglio for the Boston Globe).

I hate to say it, but it looks like Star Wars to me.


Slow Saturday Special: Morning Stretch

"Brought to Allston yogis by Yoga Hub Boston, candlelight yoga is one of three classes designed and taught by Ali Singer at the community pop-up space known as POP Allston, which opened in September. It’s the handiwork of a consortium of community groups and businesses, in conjunction with the City of Boston."

When I stopped stretching. 

Look who else was in the class.

Update: Time to go get a Globe.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Feeling Zika Friday

I stopped reading the Globe after 3 pages so there must be something wrong with me.

See: Feeling Zika

And now they are taking away fantasy sports games in Hawaii. 

Can things get any worse?

Globe gave me an aspirin and then left me to sleep.

"The world needs a Zika vaccine. Getting one will take years" by Helen Branswell, January 29, 2016

When public health officials briefed President Barack Obama about the alarming and rapidly evolving Zika virus situation this week, the message that emerged from Washington was clear: The world needs a vaccine.

Somehow, didn't we all know this?

The same message has emerged from the World Health Organization, but public health experts warn that a vaccine for Zika — which is believed to have caused a surge in cases of babies born with abnormally small brains in Brazil — will be challenging. 

Is this an unintended consequence of infected mosquitoes? Intentional mutation? Designed plan? 

Whatever it is, it must be horrifying for parents.

As Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy, said: “We’re going to be living for quite a few years in a Zika, vaccine-free world.”

The challenge is reminiscent of the fight against Ebola....

Which, depending on which school of thought you believe, means one of three things:

1. Ebola is as reported (unlikely in any event; one only needs to see the photographs in many instances)

2. U.S. biological labs in the region released a pathogen (I view that as a limited hangout; however, it may well be true. I'm not omniscient and infallible; I'm a guy at the bottom of a hill telling you how I see the world)

3. Another staged and scripted fake in furtherance of the war agenda and other interests (gave U.S. military reason to get itself further involved in the region to counter China while allowing for the implementation of martial law under the cover of quarantine. Who is going to argue with a hazmat suit?)

Either way, the end re$ult is the creation of conditions so that billions will now be poured into pharmaceuticals -- reminiscent, if you will, of the $wine flu $care, remember?


Cui bono?


"Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday unveiled a series of family-friendly proposals for the military that would increase parental leave, child care and health care coverage to bolster efforts to recruit and retain high-quality service members. Carter told a Pentagon news conference he also intends to expand health care coverage to include more benefits for women trying to get pregnant. The changes, which will cost an estimated cost of $385 million over the next five years, are part of Carter’s ongoing effort to modernize the military and make it more attractive to job seekers

Yeah, why don't you make it a CAREER!

The Forever Wars are never going to end anyway (the United States is rebuilding almost all of its bases in Iraq?) because we can never leave, and there are new ones to rewage, too!! 

Pregnancy is a key issue for military women. The maternity leave issue is complicated and the health care coverage proposal is complex, but the expansion of family leave benefits is the second phase in a broader campaign by Carter to modernize the military and help troops better balance their family commitments with their desire to serve their country. 

How about not sending them into these wars based on lies in the first place, Ash??

Many of the changes are an effort to align the Pentagon with the corporate world, strengthen ties with high-tech companies and bring the best from that field into the Defense Department." 

Still an a-hole, just like in Davos

Yeah, once again, the changes are not for you even though they are being presented that way by the mouthpiece media.

Also see:

"Massachusetts is home to thousands of immigrants from some of the 24 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean where Zika is circulating, and they frequently travel back and forth. Dr. Anita Barry, director of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Infectious Disease Bureau, said “I definitely think we will see more cases.”


Illness that diverted London-L.A. flight still a mystery 

I don't know which is worse, the viruses or terror.

Well, it looks like it is time for me to pull into port and dock for the day. 

Not because I don't feel well. I have personal things to take care of today, and the only health issues are in my lower arms (mouse elbow combined with carpel-tunnel tendonitis and early arthritis is all). That is why I only blog for a few hours a day, four hours maximum. Any longer and I'm in serious pain for the rest of the day and evening. 


Zika Freakout: The Hoax and the Covert Op Continue

Is Zika Virus the Next Tool For Forced Sterilization, Vaccination and Depopulation?

Also seeFor now, old methods may be best way to fight spread of Zika virus

The last one is not even worth reading since the whole story is an elaborate cover for some patch or shot they gave these women, and I'm sick of sh** pre$$.

Fearing Zika virus, many cancel or alter plans

Can the travel industry survive?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cruzing Into Iowa

A quick check of the speedometer:

"On Saturday, Cruz surged to a 10-point lead in a new Des Moines Register-Bloomberg News poll of likely Republican caucusgoers in Iowa."

What good are polls, other than to inform the current narrative?

"Ted Cruz betting big on southern evangelical voters" by Tracy Jan Globe Staff  December 09, 2015

WASHINGTON — For months, the Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz has quietly laid the groundwork throughout the South, as he hopes to move from a strong showing in Iowa’s caucuses to wins in crucial Bible Belt states, including South Carolina, which votes Feb. 20, and a string of Southern states that vote March 1.

The latest glimpse of his strategy to target arch-conservative voters came this week, when Cruz offered only muted disagreement with Donald Trump’s call to close the borders to Muslims and refused to join the other Republican candidates in denouncing Trump for the idea.

A new poll Monday showed Cruz seizing the lead from Trump in Iowa. Nationally, Cruz has jumped into a statistical tie for second place, along with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, as Ben Carson’s standing has faltered.

“Cruz has got a lot better path to the nomination than a lot of people know of,” said Henry Barbour, a Mississippi GOP strategist who is unaffiliated with any campaign, noting that nearly 500 delegates are up for grabs in the half a dozen conservative states from Georgia to Texas that vote March 1. “Cruz is doing a better job than most in those states.’’

His message of God, guns, and liberty is especially appealing in the Deep South, where evangelical Christians are between 57 and 80 percent of GOP primary voters.

In New Hampshire, the first primary state, where only 21 percent of GOP primary voters identify as white evangelicals, Cruz remains mired in the lower ranks of candidates despite 13 visits to the state.

Cruz supporters say he has been carefully preparing for a Southern surge. He launched his campaign at a Christian university in Virginia. His first ads ran on Easter Sunday, on Christian-related broadcasts. He is the only candidate to have swept through a large swath of the South, on a seven-day, seven-state trip in August that his campaign dubbed the #CruzCountry Bus Tour.

Cruz has a campaign chairman in nearly every county in Georgia and Tennessee, including prominent Tea Party activists. His organization is so robust in Georgia, with volunteers to spare, that the campaign is deploying teams of Georgians to Iowa and South Carolina.

Jim Beck, the president of the Georgia Christian Coalition, who is volunteering as Cruz’s faith outreach coordinator — the first presidential campaign he’s ever been involved in, said, “Quite candidly, the most discriminated group in America is Christian Southerners, because everybody thinks we are these ignorant rednecks.”

Another key Georgia booster for Cruz is a former carpet mill owner turned obsessive radio talk show caller named Joe McCutchen. The 76-year-old spends eight hours a day campaigning for Cruz, often from his home library in the 1,600-person Appalachian mountain town of Ellijay.

He used to call in to CNN on Saturday mornings back in the day.

“Talk radio is going to elect Ted Cruz,” said McCutchen, who regularly calls into a conservative radio show broadcast from Augusta, near the Georgia-South Carolina border.

McCutchen earned national acclaim as a Mitt Romney superfan in 2012, proclaiming his devotion over the airwaves. Now he answers his phone with an upbeat “Cruz for president.” He wears a rectangular Cruz badge everywhere he goes, including a recent Georgia Tech football game, striking up conversations with strangers about his presidential pick.

“I’m even more fired up about Ted than I was about Mitt,” McCutchen said.

Bob Davis, a GOP consultant and former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party who is not working for any presidential candidate, said much of Cruz’s support in the state comes from rural communities and the wealthy “collar counties” ringing Nashville — “conservative, God-fearing, hard-working Americans.”

Cruz, being from Texas, “touches on all those kinds of values,” he said. “Cruz’s folks are going to turn out and vote. That’s another reason why he’s dangerous.”

Interesting choice of words.

Cruz is trying to secure the endorsement of a pastor in every county in Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. The campaign holds screenings of a documentary about the erosion of religious liberty for Christians in America and urges pastors to discuss the issue with their congregations.

Doesn't that border on violation of church and state?

“The ideology and political mind that Ted Cruz represents is so easily embraced by those of us who are pastors,” said Lyndon Allen, pastor of Woodmont Bible Church in Nashville and chairman of “95 Pastors for Cruz.” “If you couple that with his strong constitutional background, which is a document with Judeo-Christian anchors, that combination is irresistible.’’

Well, the government does think those that are informed of the Constitution as dangerous.

Cruz is competing against formidable challengers appealing to an overlapping demographic — white voters fed up with Washington and turning towards antiestablishment outsiders.

Trump has held megarallies across the South and still leads many polls there. Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and author of more than half a dozen books published by a Christian publisher, has inspired a devoted following with his best-selling life story.

Even former Florida governor Jeb Bush, an establishment candidate trying to gain traction, is stumping at college football games across the region. And Rubio has been campaigning heavily this month in South Carolina, Alabama, and Texas.

“The Cruz people are positioning themselves for victories in the South. If they don’t get those, it’s very hard to see how Cruz could get the nomination,” said Merle Black, an Emory professor who studies politics in the South.

Fellow Republican Lamar Alexander, a center-right senator from Tennessee who has yet to endorse a primary candidate, discounts Cruz’s recent rise, saying that “95 percent’’ of Southern voters have yet to make up their minds. “They will be looking for a real president, not someone who appeals to an extreme point of view,” he said in an interview this week. 


And he's involved with kids.

David Panton, an Atlanta-based private equity manager who donated $100,000 to a Cruz super PAC and who was Cruz’s roommate and debate partner at Princeton, said he believes Cruz will emerge as the nominee because of his “strategic focus — both in terms of the demographics he needs to court as well as his understanding of the delegate map.”

It’s a playbook he’s used before — while running for Senate in 2012, when he took on the Texas establishment by targeting the same demographics and building a grass-roots army of evangelicals, Tea Party supporters, and libertarians. He defeated the sitting lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, in the Republican primary, by 13 percentage points despite being outspent 3-to-1 — in a race characterized by the Washington Post as the biggest political upset of the year.

“This is not Ted’s first rodeo,” Panton said.


Time to hit the gas:

"Increasingly, Iowans say their caucuses are Ted Cruz’s to lose" by Jonathan Martinand Matt Flegenheimer New York Times  January 06, 2016

ONAWA, Iowa — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has become the candidate to beat in the caucuses. Many Republicans think the only thing standing between him and a victory Feb. 1 is a groundswell of first-time or infrequent voters turning out for Donald Trump, of the sort that materialized for Barack Obama in 2008.

Cruz has gotten to this point by amassing an energized and growing coalition of Christian activists and antiestablishment Republicans, an extensive organization, and a deep reservoir of money. But he is also benefiting from a splintered opposition that lacks either the money or the will to halt his rise.

Some supporters of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, for example, privately say they believe Cruz can’t be defeated in Iowa. While those claims may in part be an attempt to build up expectations, more revealing is that neither Rubio nor the well-financed outside group allied with his campaign has so far spent money on television ads in Iowa assailing Cruz.

That's odd. I was told he was focusing on Iowa.

Maybe he is skipping it instead.

“It does feel like it’s now Cruz’s to lose,” said Matthew N. Strawn, a former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party.

That has left Cruz the favorite to win the state and emerge as the preferred candidate of the party’s conservative wing. And with a win here, an unexpectedly strong showing in New Hampshire eight days later, and victories in South Carolina and many of the Super Tuesday states on March 1, he could quickly become the de facto party nominee.

Cruz, obscured for much of last year by a shifting cast of attention-getting rivals, is relishing the turnabout. Barnstorming Iowa on a six-day tour, he is even displaying a touch of swagger. Joined on his 45-foot bus by a phalanx of aides and a camera crew from Showtime, and with a second motor coach carrying a swelling group of reporters, Cruz boasted with barely concealed delight.

It could be a bit of overconfidence; he may be at the height of his powers.

But what gives his team pause — Trump, whom Cruz praised for months, has begun to taunt the senator, raising questions about his Canadian birthplace and his faith.

And since Ted had to memorize the Constitution he knows he's ineligible to be president (if you want to go by such a document. I know it's a quaint piece of paper that is ignored these days).

But he has stopped short of attacking Cruz and Cruz, responding to the birthplace slight Tuesday, posted a video clip on Twitter from the infamous jump-the-shark episode of “Happy Days,” but has repeatedly declined to say more.

Ironically, the propaganda pre$$ isn't aware that they have done that.


"Cruz, who has long maintained there is no issue with his Canadian birth since his mother was a US citizen, repeated Saturday that ‘‘the laws and facts are quite straightforward.’’ Despite that infighting, there is little evidence of widespread alarm from establishment Republican leaders and their well-funded supporters about Trump and Cruz. The two have almost completely escaped paid attacks, particularly in Iowa. On Saturday, Cruz concluded a six-day, 28-stop trek across Iowa, drawing overflow crowds everywhere." 

You had to be born on U.S. soil, Ted.

Under Ted Cruz’s own logic, he’s ineligible for the White House

So says a constitutional scholar (btw, he did find them again), but he can be easily dismissed.

At least he wasn't left speechless and isn't a joke of a campaign.

Other rivals have not given Cruz a free pass: He is coming under attack from the winners of the last two Iowa caucus votes, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Both their candidacies are barely registering in Iowa polls. 

Iowans have seen them before and said "Nope!"

Conversations with dozens of Cruz supporters suggest that the deep dismay Iowa Republicans feel about Washington is prompting them to coalesce behind Cruz, whom they see as the only viable conservative contender.

“We need a winner,” Susie Lee, 50, said Monday before Cruz made a late-night stop at a diner in Missouri Valley. “Huckabee and Santorum are great guys, but they haven’t been in office like Senator Cruz has, fighting.”

Pamela Oviatt of Logan, a Santorum backer four years ago, showed up before 9 p.m. for Cruz’s 10:30 p.m. appearance. She said there was little talk among activists for any of his rivals. “Cruz is the only one that’s in the political system now that anybody is looking at twice,” she said....


Looks like a “bad idea all around” because conservative evangelical leaders may be coalescing behind Cruz.

"Trump and Cruz are nearly tied in recent surveys of the Iowa caucuses, which come eight days before the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday showed Cruz leading Trump, 28 percent to 24 percent, among likely caucus-goers."

RelatedCruz, Trump running close in latest poll of GOP in Iowa

It's Cruz 25, Trump 22, and "the poll indicates that while Trump’s supporters are more committed, the firebrand junior senator from Texas appears to have more room to increase his support. Still, Trump’s ability to close the 10-point gap that Cruz had opened up over him a month ago is more due to Cruz losing altitude than Trump gaining it."

Rubio is third at 12, Carson fourth with 11, and Cruz has gone on the attack against Trump.

Welcome to Camp Cruz:

"Ted Cruz’s father gives him edge among conservative Christians" by Tracy Jan Globe Staff  January 27, 2016

MARION, Iowa — Meet Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s 76-year-old father, a crucial — if sometimes divisive — element of the Texas senator’s campaign to win over conservative Christian voters. The senior Cruz’s crusades at churches across Iowa have paid big dividends; with strong support among evangelicals, Cruz has pulled within striking distance of front-runner Donald Trump in next week’s first-in-the-nation caucus.


I was told above he was leading, then losing altitude, now within striking distance. 

What the hell is the narrative for the 2016 pre$idential $election anyway?

Rafael Cruz has drawn criticism for making incendiary statements: He has compared President Obama to Fidel Castro and advocated that the president be sent “back to Kenya.” He accuses gay activists of trying to legalize pedophilia. He contends public schools are brainwashing children with secularism. But among many Christians here, he’s preaching to the choir, drawing cries of “Amen!” “Preach!” and “C’mon!” from the pews.

For more than a year, Rafael Cruz, a trim, spry man with a ring of white hair, has been preaching the same fire and brimstone sermon at churches and in private meetings with pastors all over Iowa and the country, on a mission to rally this critical demographic toward political activism — and support his son for the presidency.

Can't ask any more of a father.

As Ted Cruz embarks on a final barnstorm through Iowa’s pizza parlors and steakhouses, the elder Cruz is on a parallel track, hitting two to four churches a day.

Since Rafael Cruz was the subject of negative media attention early last year, the campaign has tried to keep him somewhat less visible, declining to publish his schedule or grant most interview requests. The Globe found him through the state’s network of Christian activists and briefly interviewed him at a dinner with pastors in Des Moines.

When Rafael Cruz was asked by a reporter to respond to critics who dismiss his views as extremist, a campaign aide hovering nearby whispered to him not to answer. The advice was ignored.

“If they don’t agree, they don’t agree,” said an unapologetic Cruz. “But my son is trying to be president to all Americans.”

Ted Cruz said in an interview that his father is a powerful voice for freedom and that his message should resonate deeply even among non-Christians.

Christian conservatives say they are particularly drawn to Rafael Cruz because of his dramatic life story. He was an active opponent of Cuba’s Batista dictatorship who fled to the United States in 1957 on a student visa and $100 sewn into his underwear. He studied math at the University of Texas Austin, learning English by watching movies and supporting himself by washing dishes.

So he got out before Castro's rise, but was against the U.S. and Mob puppet at the time.

He and his second wife, an American, eventually moved to Canada, where Ted Cruz was born in 1970. But Rafael Cruz, an alcoholic, abandoned his wife and toddler son and returned to Texas. It was there that he found God, leading him to reconcile with his family in 1975 and bringing them back to the United States.

By the time Ted Cruz was 9, his father was providing heavy doses of conservative Christian politics at the dinner table. By 13, the younger Cruz had memorized the Constitution and through high school toured the state of Texas, delivering speeches on free market economics and the Constitution.


“Essentially his father groomed him for this moment,” said Steve Deace, a conservative Iowa radio talk show host who has endorsed Cruz. “That backstory was crucial in influencing a lot of people.”

Emphasizing the family’s religious ties within Iowa’s Christian community seems to be working. While Trump is holding on to a lead of around 5 points, Ted Cruz remained the favorite among evangelical Christians, according to the latest Des Moines Register poll: 37 percent of self-identified evangelicals or born-again Christians supported Cruz, compared to 17 percent for Trump.


Still falling in the polls but has pulled within striking distance?

Of Iowans who have said they plan to caucus next week, between 40 and 50 percent identify as evangelicals, said J. Ann Selzer, pollster for the Des Moines Register.

“Rafael is an amazing closer,” said Bryan English, Cruz’s Iowa state director and a former pastor who shuttled Rafael Cruz all over the state in his Dodge Dakota last year to more than 1,000 meetings. “Too many politicians over the years come in, wave a Bible, quote a couple of verses, and think they’re a part of our movement. We’ve been burned.”

The elder Cruz, many evangelicals say, speaks to the authenticity of Ted Cruz’s relationship with God. That’s a key reason he won the sought-after endorsement last month of Bob Vander Plaats, president of The Family Leader, an influential Christian advocacy group.

Globe says Glenn Beck will propel Cruz to a win.

The next day, at the Marion church, Cruz, dressed in a blue suit, railed against the abolition of prayer and Bible reading in schools as the cause of skyrocketing teen pregnancy, dropout rates, and vandalism. Now, he said, “homosexual marriage” is the latest “frontal attack on religious liberty.”

“The devil overplayed his hand because this decision has acted as a catalyst to awaken the sleeping giant,” Cruz said, his voice booming through the church. He never mentioned his son’s name.

On Monday, about 150 Iowa pastors attended a private dinner at a Des Moines airport hotel hosted by David Lane, a Christian activist from California whose group, American Renewal Project, mobilizes pastors to run for political office.

The dinner served as a final opportunity for pastors to hear from Ted Cruz himself. Lane, who allowed the Globe to attend the closed event with the agreement of the campaign, has hosted similar dinners for other candidates, including Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. But Cruz has drawn the largest crowd by far, double that of Rubio’s, Lane said.

RelatedGuns and ‘good people’

Who does he think he is, Trump?

Maybe he should just quit.

As guests dined on honey pecan chicken and strawberry cheesecake parfaits, Ted Cruz delivered his father’s mantra of the importance of voting on biblical values.

I must admit, I always like to know what the political cla$$ is dining on as we are served GMO-garbage, poisoned produce, and general gruel from government.

“What matters in the next 167 hours is who shows up on caucus night,” Cruz said. “This is entirely about turnout. And the men and women in this room have the power to change the election and the course of history.”

Sitting a few feet away, Rafael Cruz looked up at his son and beamed....

As would any proud father seeing his boy running for president and looking like he's got a shot, and that's when I got up and started walking away.

That is in no way an endorsement of Ted Cruz from this blog, although I know you are all anxiously awaiting who I will endorse because it just may, it just might, swing the entire course of the $election. All the campaign managers come here for the pulse of the people for I speak for them (blog editor slyly smiles; yeah, right. Maybe they should).


Maybe we should send them back home?

"Obama administration loosens Cuba embargo with new measures" Associated Press  January 26, 2016

HAVANA — The Obama administration is loosening the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba with a new round of regulations allowing American companies to sell to Cuba on credit and export a potentially wide range of products to the Cuban government for the first time, officials said Tuesday.

The changes are President Barack Obama’s third attempt to spur U.S.-Cuba commerce despite an embargo that still prohibits most forms of trade with the island.

U.S. travel to Cuba has exploded since Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro declared detente in 2014. But U.S. hopes of building wider trade between American businesses and Cuba’s private sector have been largely frustrated by Congressional reluctance to end the embargo itself and by the island’s labyrinthine restrictions on imports, exports and private business.

All jammed up in the Cuban bureaucracy, 'eh?

Obama says he hopes to visit Cuba before he leaves office but a trip would depend on the progress being made in relations between the two countries. Tuesday’s move appears designed to jumpstart commerce between the two countries and remove some of Cuba’s biggest excuses for not opening its economy to trade with the U.S.

‘‘Just as the United States is doing its part to remove impediments that have been holding Cubans back, we urge the Cuban government to make it easier for its citizens to start businesses, engage in trade, and access information online,’’ National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said.

Among a host of other measures, the new regulations allow U.S. firms to offer Cuban buyers credit on sales of non-agricultural goods, addressing a longstanding Cuban complaint about a ban on credit.

Print ended there.

The vast majority of Obama’s new regulations have been aimed at spurring U.S. trade with Cuban entrepreneurs instead of with the state-run firms that dominate the economy. The Cuban government says that U.S. focus on private business is partly responsible for the island not opening its economy in response to the U.S. loosening of the embargo. 

Gee, my print left it like it was all Cuba.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday that it would now allow U.S. exports to Cuban government agencies in cases where it believed the Cuban people stood to benefit. It cited agriculture, historic preservation, education, food processing and public health and infrastructure as government-controlled sectors that it would not allow to receive goods from the U.S. on a case-by-case basis, potentially opening up a huge new field of commerce between U.S. business and the Cuban government.

‘‘You would expect that this would open up a lot of areas where there should be enhanced trade,’’ said James Williams, head of the anti-embargo U.S. group Engage Cuba. He said that while Obama’s initial exceptions to the embargo were criticized for not reflecting a deep understanding of Cuba, the new regulations were much more attuned to the peculiarities of Cuba’s state-controlled economy. 

This is getting in$ulting.

Cuban officials issued no immediate comment on the changes and state media made only brief mention of them in the first hours after the U.S. announcement.

Anti-Castro figures in the U.S. have long argued against Obama’s opening with Cuba, saying it empowers the state rather than the Cuban people and Tuesday’s announcement gave them ammunition.

‘‘These regulations are more proof that the Obama Administration’s intent has never been to empower the Cuban people but rather to empower the Cuban government’s monopolies and state-run enterprises,’’ said Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American U.S. senator from Florida. 

I'm confused. The gi$t of this article seems to be claiming the opposite.

The new measures expand the different instances in which Americans can travel to Cuba without a specific permit, including filming movies and television programs, conducting market research and commercial marketing and organizing professional meetings and sports events. 

Is Cuba giving them tax credits and $ub$idy checks, too?

While the embargo prohibits pure tourism, Obama’s changes have largely turned the ban into a toothless honor system requiring travelers to self-report the purported legal reason for their travel to their airline or travel agent and then not engage in tourism on the island.

The new changes make the tourism ban even harder to enforce by expanding the number of credible reasons that an American could be in Cuba. The new measures also contain a number of technical changes designed to allow regularly scheduled flights between the U.S. and Cuba, a potentially massive change agreed upon by the two countries late last year. 

Trying to catch a flight out now.

Travelers now must go through third countries or take inconvenient and expensive charter flights. Regularly scheduled flights could bring hundreds of thousands more American travelers to Cuba every year.


Finally, out of Cuba.

Let's check that campaign account before hitting the road again:

"Cruz raises almost $20 million in year-end surge" by Maggie Haberman New York Times  December 31, 2015

Sen. Ted Cruz raised significantly more money in the final three months of the year while Ben Carson maintained his pace in fundraising during that period, according to numbers released by the Republican presidential hopefuls’ campaigns.

Cruz and Carson were the first of the 2016 candidates to release broad-stroke details of how much money they raised during the fourth and final quarter of the year.

Cruz has been rising in polls, particularly in Iowa. Carson, meanwhile, reported raising roughly $23 million, a small increase from the nearly $21 million he raised in the previous quarter.

The figures were notable given that Carson has recently slipped in polls after being pummeled by reports questioning some of the details of his life story, which he has used as the basis for his candidacy. The retired neurosurgeon has also struggled to answer elemental questions on foreign policy as national security has risen as a significant issue for voters.

Several candidates had no plans to release numbers on Thursday, according to aides. For some, that was a function of the fact that the final day of fundraising could bring in more money. For others, delaying a potentially bad story about low fundraising to the end of January, the day before the Iowa caucuses, may be a factor.

On the Democratic side, none of the three candidates had released their numbers....

That $ide is a different post.


Then it will be on to New Hampshire and who knows

Do you know who I think would be good at the bottom of the ticket (it would be catchy, too)?

Of course, he has to be vetted first:

"Trump, Carson struggle before Jewish group" by Jeremy W. Peters New York Times  December 04, 2015

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump and Ben Carson may not have reduced doubts about their seriousness as leaders and their understanding of global affairs Thursday as they delivered meandering speeches to one of the country’s most influential Republican Jewish organizations.

Carson, who has been trying to reverse perceptions that he does not have substantive knowledge about foreign policy, repeatedly mispronounced the name of the militant Palestinian group Hamas as he rushed through a prepared script before the Republican Jewish Coalition. He kept calling it something that sounded more like hummus.

It was an event with a heavily Jewish audience but no Jewish speakers, and there were plenty of attempts by the candidates to telegraph their affinity for the religion. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas: “We are facing a moment like Munich in 1938.”

The gathering was intended to serve as a forum for Republican presidential candidates to engage in a high-minded discussion on Israel and the role of the United States in an increasingly dangerous world.

See who comes first there?

And while there were many serious and alarming assessments of national security from the candidates, the event quickly veered from sober to surreal.

Carson, who has ad-libbed his way into several controversies during the campaign, began with a lighthearted warning that he would “actually be using a script.”

He rushed through his words and rarely broke from the prepared text to make eye contact with his audience. His speech — part basic history lesson on the Middle East and part observational narrative with his own take on the underpinnings of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — was full of generalities from a candidate who has been criticized for not being well-versed in foreign policy. 

I'm getting the feeling Ben will be dropped from consideration for veep.

“The world is complicated; the Middle East is even more complicated,” he said at one point.

He read through an array of disparate topics, from circumcision to John Quincy Adams’s support for a Jewish homeland to his own recent trip to Israel, during which he said he feared he might be shot.

The audience received him politely.

Other candidates took turns explaining how they would combat terrorists and help repair America’s relationship with Israel....

Here is the clearest sign to date that both governments are working to heal their relations.

If the rift was even real

Why is it that U.S. presidents always wait until their 7th year to criticize Israel as they continue to steal more land (before being evicted like Palestinians)?


So how do you think the vetting went?

"Carson staffers quit, question his readiness for White House" by Bill Barrow and Thomas Beaumont Associated Press  December 31, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa — Several top aides to Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson resigned on Thursday, citing frustration with the influence of the retired neurosurgeon’s business manager and questioning his readiness for the White House.

Barry Bennett and Doug Watts, both seasoned political operatives, stepped down with less than five weeks before voters in Iowa begin the nominating process with the state’s Feb. 1 caucuses.

Bennett was Carson’s campaign manager. Watts was communications director. But Bennett said Carson’s longtime business manager, Armstrong Williams, is the adviser who has Carson’s ear, even though Williams does not have a formal role in the campaign.

Carson is ‘‘one of the smartest men I’ve ever worked for,’’ Bennett said, but added that he believes Carson has become Williams’ ‘‘script reader.’’

Bennett said that made it difficult to advise Carson and raised questions in his mind about what kind of president Carson would make if elected.

‘‘You have to surround yourself with good people,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘And he hasn’t demonstrated that he can do that. No one wants Armstrong Williams anywhere near the Oval Office.’’

Williams replied Thursday: ‘‘Barry and I agree. I will be nowhere near the Oval Office when Dr. Carson is elected president. I will remain in my private practice.’’

Williams also disputed Bennett’s characterization that his influence is inappropriate, and said the departures were more firings than resignations. ‘‘I’m sure Barry resigned because he wanted total control and he wasn’t going to have that,’’ Williams said.

Carson’s campaign released a statement Thursday describing staff changes as ‘‘enhancements’’ that ‘‘will shift the campaign into higher gear.’’ Along with Bennett and Watts, deputy campaign manager Lisa Coen also left.

Retired Army Major Gen. Robert Dees, who has been advising Carson on foreign policy and military affairs, will serve as campaign chairman. Ed Brookover, formerly a senior strategist, will serve as campaign manager.

The staff turmoil at the highest reaches of the Carson campaign is the latest setback for his presidential bid. As quickly as Carson rose to the top of the GOP field, he began to falter. In the last two months Carson [has] struggled to establish foreign policy credentials amid increased voter concerns about national security.

Bennett and Watts’ decision to leave the campaign came a week after Carson told The Associated Press in an interview that he was considering a major staff shakeup, only to walk back those comments hours later.

‘‘This allows Dr. Carson a fresh start,’’ Williams said....

They are now ‘‘moving forward in Iowa.’’ 


"Carson’s new campaign chief a true believer" by David Weigel Washington Post  January 01, 2016

On Thursday, Ben Carson’s presidential campaign officially promoted Major Gen. Robert Dees from foreign policy adviser to campaign chairman. It was not just a reboot, but a return to the campaign Carson had always wanted, less driven by consultants than believers. Dees, a vice president at Liberty University, had never worked for a campaign before. But he had spent most of his life in the military, from Israel to Europe to the DMZ between North and South Korea. He’d worked for Microsoft, sometimes ‘‘working directly with Bill Gates.’’

All of that made him perfect for this iteration of the Carson campaign, which would acknowledge the mistakes of the fall and focus on the essential greatness of its candidate. In November, New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel published a damaging front page story that quoted another Carson foreign policy adviser bemoaning that he wasn’t taking enough meetings to ‘‘make him smart.’’

Dees was quoted far down in the story, disagreeing with that. Later, in an email to a national security listserv, he worried that ‘‘the high vis comments by former CIA operative Dewey Clarridge were very detrimental to a positive narrative about Dr. Carson’s national security quotient,’’ that Clarridge had only twice met with Carson, and that ‘‘having survived a phase of character assassination by MSM, et al; we are now in a phase I would call policy assassination.’’

Have you seen the tape?

He sounded like a campaign chairman. And a few weeks later, as of Thursday, he was.

‘‘There’s been a false narrative that suggests Dr. Carson does not know anything about foreign policy,’’ said Dees. ‘‘I’ve been working with him since February. I have been to every continent, I have dealt with plenty of leaders, and I will tell you, he is ready for this job. We’ve developed a lot of policy proposals, but we haven’t been truly executing them, and that’s going to change.’’

If you read the papers you get used to them.

Dees’s arrival in the Carson orbit was the sort of thing that used to happen often, before politics intervened. At the start of 2015, Carson and Dees both attended services at Second Baptist Church in Houston. Carson was the icon of ‘‘Gifted Hands,’’ and Dees had assisted with projects like the Military Ministry of the Campus Crusade for Christ, working to ‘‘help troops and families have faith in the foxhole, and hope on their homefronts.’’ The two of them were introduced, then sat together at a dinner hosted by Terry Giles, who would become Carson’s campaign chairman. The neurosurgeon who worked all hours bonded quickly with the two-star general who took daily 6 a.m. swims.

The dinner went on -- two, three, four hours -- as Dees and Carson talked. ‘‘Even back then, who knew what were wrestling with and what the threats to this country were,’’ said Dees. ‘‘Way back into the 1990s we’ve known we’ve had some enemy within working against us.’’

‘‘I want to sustain the very successful things going on in the campaign,’’ he said. ‘‘That includes fundraising, that includes field, and that includes social media. We’ll be streamlining and integrating our messaging process so that we’re much more agile, and a lot more media friendly.’’

End print.

Dees would come to that with the sort of experience that Carson had lacked -- defending social conservative ideas, and criticizing radical Islam, in the media

That's a false narrative, seeing as 9/11 was an inside job by USrael and all the terror groups are U.S.-created, funded, and directed.

This year, when Carson first gained in public polls, Dees’s long record as an evangelist was profiled by James Bamford in Foreign Policy magazine. Carson’s musings about the threat of Islamic infiltration, surmised Bamford, might be ‘‘a reflection of the troubling worldview of the people he has turned to for advice.’’ People like Dees. 

The real infiltration goes unnoticed.

If the criticism bothered Dees, he didn’t show it. ‘‘You need to consider the source,’’ he said. ‘‘Being a vice president at the largest Christian university in the world -- is there something wrong with that? That’s part of the culture we live in. Aren’t things reversed in so many ways?’’ 

He's right about that!

Dees referred to his trilogy of books about Resilience, and specifically to the 2014 conclusion ‘‘Resilient Nations.’’ In it, Dees discussed the idea of Moral-Spiritual-Infrastructure, or MSI, and whether America’s leaders and culture were weakening it. He’d spoken about that plenty.

‘‘The moral readiness is degraded by social experimentation within our military,’’ he once told conservative CNSNews. ‘‘In fact, social experimentation is improperly named, because it’s not an experiment at all -- it’s a top-driven mandate for social agendas.’’

In ‘‘Resilient Nations,’’ Dees explored his worry that decisions like that were driving America to the brink by depriving it of morality and greatness. ‘‘Is our MSI solid and stable, or is it sadly weakened, on the brink of collapse and irreversible consequence?’’ Dees asked. ‘‘At the height of Roman decadence, good became evil and evil became good. One can rightly argue that the United States is frightfully close to a similar fate. Prayerfully, it is not too late.’’ 

It's way too late.

In Carson, Dees saw another person who was fearless about saying the right thing. He just needed to navigate the media that pronounced it wrong.

‘‘He’ll say something, and maybe they’ll be a big uproar, until people scratch their heads and they say - that’s right,’’ said Dees. ‘‘After they realize he’s expressed their sentiments, there’s outpouring of support. His stances on radical Islamic terrorism, on the downsides of potential sharia law -- they are legitimate, they are valid, they are true.’’ 

What, here?

Just hours after taking over the campaign, Dees allowed himself to go a little further. Carson, he said, had ‘‘serious proposals’’ and ‘‘a very good knowledge of defense and national security,’’ as embodied in his Seven Steps to a Safer America. He had touched on everything from the best legal way to make war on ISIS to the outline of a ‘‘war-time emergency visa and immigration policy’’ to the need to ‘‘fully investigate the Council on American-Islamic Relations.’’ What was his competition?

‘‘There are some candidates out there who don’t know what the nuclear triad is,’’ said Dees, referring obliquely to Donald Trump. ‘‘There are some who do not seem to know what ‘carpet bombing’ is.’’ That was a reference to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, - who, with Trump, had leapfrogged Carson in the Iowa polls. Dees was on message. The press conference that would officially introduce him as chairman was a whole weekend away.

What evil events have they planned for 2016?


Time for me to get out of Iowa.


"After jabs at Trump, GOP debate turns to issues" by Matt Viser and Annie Linskey Globe Staff  January 29, 2016

DES MOINES — Republican presidential candidates Thursday night, in their final debate before the Iowa caucuses, wrestled over policy differences and conservative credentials but only after tossing a few sarcastic barbs at the missing candidate: Donald Trump.

“I’m a maniac,” said Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the candidate closest to Trump in the polls, poking fun at Trump’s insulting debating style. “And everyone on this stage is stupid fat and ugly.

“Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way, I want to thank everyone here for showing respect to the people of Iowa,” said Cruz, in one of several quips at the businessman’s expense.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush also resorted to a bit of sarcasm.

“I kinda miss Donald Trump,” Bush said. “He was a teddy bear to me. We had such a loving relationship.”

Be careful what you wish for, jerk.

But Trump, who decided to boycott the debate over his ongoing feud with Fox News, was spared substantial criticism as the focus quickly turned to foreign affairs, immigration, and the candidates’ competing visions for American conservatism.

That feud with Fox should make him more electable(?), but I'm interested in the foreign affairs portion of the debate.

In his absence, the debate lost some of the unpredictability and heat of earlier forums, with a greater focus on policy differences.

Bush continued to grapple with his family legacy, which has become a weakness in a contest where conservative GOP voters are hungering for change.

“Look, I’m establishment because my dad — the greatest man alive — was president of the United States, and my brother, who I adore as well, was a fantastic brother and was president — fine, I’ll take it,” he said. “I guess I’m part of the establishment because Barbara Bush is my mom. I’ll take that, too.” 

Then take them and end your campaign. We don't want you, and I know the ma$$ media is trying to build the narrative for you, but....

Held four days before the Iowa caucuses, the debate offered candidates one of the last big chances to shake up the race. It also afforded Cruz the chance to be at the center of the stage, and he was the target of much of the candidates’ attacks.

Cruz at one point took on Fox News moderator Chris Wallace, complaining that the questions were designed to pit him against the rest of the field.

“The last four questions have been: ‘Rand, please attack Ted,’ ‘Marco, please attack Ted,’ ‘Chris, please attack Ted,’ ‘Jeb, please attack Ted,’ ” Cruz said.

Wallace shot back: “It is a debate, sir.”

“No, no, a debate actually is a policy issue,” Cruz said, and then added: “But I will say this, gosh, if guys ask one more mean question, I may have to leave the stage.”

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, with a coy smile, added: “Don’t worry, I’m not leaving the stage no matter what you ask me.”

The candidates disagreed strongly over immigration. Bush, displaying some of the passion that his supporters have long wanted, pointedly criticized Rubio for backing away from immigration reform legislation he pushed in 2010.

“He cut and run because it wasn’t popular amongst conservatives, I guess,” Bush said. “We should have a path to legal status for the 12 million people here illegally.”

My printed paper was mostly Cruz attacking Trump there. Rand Paul was never even mentioned in my printed paper. 

So Bush is taking a position that is anathema to the base and yet somehow this guy is going to square off against Clinton so that the secrets of the last 50 years can be kept?

Trump had dominated media coverage in the 48 hours before the debate by announcing Tuesday he would not show up.

One could even say he won the "debate" without even showing up.

He was protesting Fox News’ refusal to remove one of its star anchors, Megyn Kelly, as one of the moderators. Trump has sparred with Kelly dating back to the first primary debate in August, when she pressed him on disparaging comments he had made about women. This week he said on Twitter, “I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo,” and then, 24 hours later, retweeted someone calling her just that.

That's where he loses me. You can't attack that beauty!

Cruz, who in most polls is running behind Trump in Iowa, challenged him to a one-on-one debate.

I've tracked it for the last 7 weeks here in this post, and the contradictions and mixed messages behind the narrative leads me to believe its about confusing things so much that an incredibly unrealistic result can be rigged. 

Can't believe the polls!

He said he booked space for Saturday night in Sioux City and they could square off without any moderator. Trump responded on Twitter by alluding to questions, which Trump has stoked, about whether Cruz’s birth to an American mother in Canada disqualifies him from seeking the presidency. “Can we do it in Canada?” he wrote. 


I'll tell you this: the comedians will love a Trump presidency.

An RNC spokesman said such a debate between two candidates would violate party rules.

Even in the final hours before the debate, many of Trump's opponents still expected him to show up. Bush said he had a $20 bet hanging on the chance Trump would come. 

Didn't that kind of thing get Romney in trouble last time? 

Is that why the Globe scrubbed that paragraph for the web version?

The debate took place as Trump continues to dominate in national and early-state polls, and with some in the party starting to worry that the billionaire businessman, who is openly running against party elites, could notch early-state victories and win the nomination. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Thursday showed Trump moving past Cruz in Iowa, with a 32 percent to 25 percent lead. He also maintains large leads in New Hampshire and South Carolina, the next two states to vote.

Although the debate was held in a conference center in downtown Des Moines, many of the candidates seemed to have their sights set 1,300 miles away in New Hampshire.


A group of more mainstream candidates — Christie, Bush, Rubio, and Kasich — are in a vigorous fight to distinguish themselves and catch up to Trump before the Granite State primary Feb. 9.

The next debate will take place on Feb. 6 in Manchester.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, on the stage after not making the previous debate, defended his libertarian positions, which have faded from the discussion in the wake of domestic and international terrorist attacks.

With Trump’s absence, Ben Carson stood as the sole person on the stage who’d never held political office.

“You won’t hear a lot of polished political speech from me, but you will hear the truth,” said Carson, a former brain surgeon. “I’ve had more 2 a.m. phone calls than anyone else here, making life or death decisions.”

You won't see him in my printed Globe article, either.

Bush is still in the hunt largely based on a rejiggered campaign focused on performing well in New Hampshire. But he still needs a break-out moment and a way to gather momentum.

Related: Bush tied for 2nd in N.H., poll finds


Kasich has been gaining traction in New Hampshire but is mired in the pack with Bush. Christie has fallen in several recent polls.

Christie touted his ability to work across the aisle. Kasich made little effort to appeal to the angst that outsider candidates are trying to tap into, saying, “If you want to be commander in chief, you have to have the experience.”

Before the prime-time debate, a quartet of candidates who did not meet the polling threshold — Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Jim Gilmore — faced off in an undercard debate.

For the second debate in a row, Fiorina offered her opinion about Hillary Clinton's marriage. "If my husband did what Bill Clinton did, I would have left him long ago," she said. 

Web Globe edited that last paragraph out, too. 

Yeah, that qualifies her to be president.

Some of the candidates — particularly Huckabee and Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and 2012, respectively, but are now mired in the lower tier — criticized the media for their low standing in the polls.

“This race is called the undercard debate, it wasn’t advertised significantly, the entire run-up to this the conversation wasn’t about anyone on this stage,” Santorum said. “The entire lead-up to this debate was about whether Donald Trump was going to show up for the next debate.”

Globe even cut that short.

He also chided news organizations for not including him in their polls.

"This media is manipulating, shaping, and framing this campaign," Gilmore said. "This is wrong. It has to change."

I think he just got my vote!

Following that debate, and seeking any attention they could possibly garner, Santorum and Huckabee planned to head to the Trump event. 

Looking for a place in the Cabinet or spot on the ticket?


I didn't see anything on foreign policy in there, did you?? 

Was as absent as Trump.

And look who is sulking.

Also see: Four things to watch in the Iowa caucuses and beyond

Take a look for yourself.

Candidates fan out to make final pitches before Iowa caucuses

With Donald Trump seeming secure in the lead, the fight for second or third — or just ‘‘better than expected’’ — was underway.

So Trump is going to win Iowa going away?