Monday Open Thread

Showtime's Homeland is back in its element. After a shaky start this season, it slowly got back on track, and the last two episodes were Homeland at it's best.

Separated at birth: One of the two guys above is Saddam Jamal, a terrorist in real life, now with ISIS, and the other, Numan Acar, plays one on Homeland. I think they look a lot alike. If you haven't been watching Homeland, which one do you think is the real terrorist?

In the news department, the court administrator of the St. Louis Circuit County Court has issued a statement contradicting news reports that the Judge has agreed to consider releasing the Wilson/Brown grand jury records if no Indictment is returned. She hasn't even considered it. The letter is here.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Chuck Hagel stepping down as SecDef. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 08:20:19 AM EST
    Just came across the news feed...

    Mutual agreement to resign, per (none / 0) (#7)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 08:34:15 AM EST
    the NYT, here:

    The president, who is expected to announce Mr. Hagel's resignation in a Rose Garden appearance on Monday, made the decision to ask his defense secretary -- the sole Republican on his national security team -- to step down last Friday after a series of meetings over the past two weeks, senior administration officials said.

    The officials described Mr. Obama's decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.

    But now "the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus," one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.


    Even before the announcement of Mr. Hagel's removal, Obama officials were speculating on his possible replacement. At the top of the list are Michèle Flournoy, the former under secretary of defense; Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and a former officer with the Army's 82nd Airborne; and Ashton B. Carter, a former deputy secretary of defense.

    Not sure I want to consider what direction we're heading.


    Going South... (none / 0) (#8)
    by lentinel on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 09:05:20 AM EST
    The officials described Mr. Obama's decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ.

    Translation: Hagel was against US involvement in Iraq back then, and he is probably scratching his head at what Obama is doing now.

    Digging deeper and deeper into Iraq and Afghanistan.

    What was that meme about hope and change?

    No hope.
    And change for the worse.


    "Operation Resolute Support," (none / 0) (#20)
    by KeysDan on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:39:39 AM EST
    aka, 'we got a new Afghan president who will let us stay, so why not,'   was, according to NYT reports, "the result of a lengthy and heated debate," between the promise Mr Obama made to end the war in Afghanistan versus the demands of the Pentagon.   The Pentagon won."  ... " The military pretty much got what it wanted."     Our resolute support will keep troops on the ground and fighting for at least another year and the US will continue using F-16s, B-l bombers, Predators, and Reaper drones.    It does sound as if the Secretary of Defense was not on board with the Pentagon.  

    That isn't what I'm gathering from it (none / 0) (#27)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:13:28 AM EST
    The President continues to discount ISIL's abilities.  Hagel and Dempsey recently testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that we needed to step up our ISIL response.  Hagel has made statements that ISIL was dangerous while the White House refuses to give that sort of spoken power to the group.

    I think that Hagel is having a difficult time ironing out policy between the White House and Dempsey.  We will see soon, the buffer is gone.

    Hagel was having a very hard time speaking with confidence about our limited Iraq involvement.  It will take a firm bold hand at Sec Def to manage what DOD and the White House faces together.

    Obama needs to do this quickly and hopefully get the nomination through the Senate before the Rebuplucans take over.  They would leave us without a Sec Def in a heartbeat and this no time to have that horror go down.


    This may not play to that meme, lentinel (none / 0) (#46)
    by christinep on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 02:07:04 PM EST
    But, there are reports today--heard earlier on NPR--that Hagel wanted a stronger response to Syria and the ISIL situation than the President did.  That should come into view shortly ... since it has been no secret that others in the WH and Pentagon wanted stronger action than has been the case, it is not surprising that first reports on the reasons for Secretary Hagel's departure would appear to conflict with each other.  

    Wow, there are going to be some interesting (none / 0) (#31)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:54:53 AM EST
    confirmation hearings this time around. So much up in the air.

    They most likely don't have time (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 12:07:05 PM EST
    For confirmation hearings for the new Attorney General and Secretary of Defense before the new Senate is confirmed.
    And I don't see the majority Republicans confirming anyone Obama would like.
    If they don't confirm, what will Obama do, I wonder?  Appoint an acting Attorney General and Sec. Def. for his remaining two years in office?  Or give the Republicans nominees they would like?  And which many, if not most, Democrats would not like, I'm betting.
    Could get very unpleasant.

    I was wondering the same thing (none / 0) (#34)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 12:14:07 PM EST
    Maybe Sen. Reed would be the most easily confirm-able choice, as a member of the club.

    It will be a good indicator of whether the new GOP Senate majority is interested in governing now, or just continued obstruction.


    Reed said he isn't interested (none / 0) (#47)
    by jbindc on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 02:09:04 PM EST
    And I wouldn't be interested, either, (none / 0) (#48)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 02:15:41 PM EST
    if I were him.
    He's a Senator, and will likely keep getting re-elected as long as he wants to continue running.
    Why give that up for the two years left in Obama's term of office?  After those two years, then what?

    SCOTU has reigned (none / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 12:18:31 PM EST
    in a President's interim appointment power.

    Yes, that's for (none / 0) (#39)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 01:01:59 PM EST
    an actual appointment while Congress is in recess.
    But I don't believe that says anything about having an "acting" Secretary of anything.
    If someone drops dead in office, for instance, there is usually an "acting" head until someone can be appointed actual head.  The acting head of the department is the deputy when the actual head is unavailable, and I would expect that the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Attorney General will be fulfilling the role of acting head until new heads of the departments are nominated and confirmed.

    Just what we need... (none / 0) (#1)
    by lentinel on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 06:59:12 AM EST
    Corruption Hobbles Iraq's Military in Fighting ISIS
    A pattern of graft in the Iraqi government forces threatens to undermine a new American-led effort to drive out the extremists, even as President Obama is doubling the number of American troops in Iraq.

    We get all this @ only $300,000 an hour.

    A rare bargain.

    Hope someone tells me which one is the (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 07:28:45 AM EST
    terrorist. I vote for the man on the left.

    The guy on the right is in a (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 08:04:29 AM EST
    Geico ad preceding the video of Beckham Jr.'s catch.

    are you sure it's him in the commercial? (none / 0) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:31:20 AM EST
    The actor lives in Germany. He was born in Turkey. (He speaks five or six languages.) His scenes were for Homeland were filmed in South Africa.

    I am absolutely unsure! (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:35:12 AM EST
    He is really good. Liked his interaction (none / 0) (#30)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:52:48 AM EST
    with Mandy Patinkin's Saul, even though the script was a bit heavy handed.

    Last night's episode was so good. I won't spoil it, but I really don't know where it is going now. After a couple of days to let folks watch we can speculate!


    yea (none / 0) (#18)
    by CST on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:37:01 AM EST
    The lighting for the guy on the right is way too perfect.

    McCulloch made this (none / 0) (#4)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 08:13:33 AM EST
    statement during an interview with the Washington Post.

    McCulloch: "Everything that the grand jury hears -- all the testimony and all the physical evidence -- will be released to the public if there is no indictment. People will be able to see everything regardless of what happens."  Link

    It appears that when he made these very definite, all encompassing promises, he lacked the one element that would actually allow him to deliver on his promise, the Judge's agreement.

    This latest development just adds more fuel to belief that McCulloch is not to be trusted in connection with the Brown GJ.

    This isn't going to help matters: (none / 0) (#6)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 08:29:14 AM EST
    Cleveland police shoot and kill 12-yr old with BB-gun:

    On Saturday afternoon, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was sitting on a swing outside a recreation center in Cleveland, wearing a camouflage hat and hiding a BB gun in his waistband.

    The boy was playing with the gun on the playground at Cudell Recreation Center, pulling it from his pants and pointing it at people, a man told a 911 dispatcher. The toy's orange safety tip had apparently been removed, and the caller said the boy was "scaring the s-- out of everyone." He also noted that the boy was "probably a juvenile" and that the gun was "probably fake," but that message was reportedly never relayed to police.

    When two Cleveland police officers arrived at the scene, a rookie officer saw the boy beneath a gazebo, picking up the gun and tucking it into his waistband. Police said the officer ordered him to raise his hands, but he raised his shirt instead -- reaching for the gun. The officer fired twice. One shot hit the boy in the stomach.


    Tamir had been playing at the park with his sister and a friend when he was confronted by police. He never shouted or verbally threatened the officers. He never pointed the gun at them. But he did reach for it, police said.

    Authorities said the BB gun resembled a semiautomatic handgun. An orange safety marker, intended to identify a toy gun, had been removed, police said. It wasn't until after the weapon was recovered that investigators determined it was a BB gun.

    What is wrong with this country? (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Chuck0 on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:03:39 AM EST
    Where shooting and killing a 12-year old is the proper law enforcement response? This quote from the story boggles the mind:

    "But he did reach for it, police said."

    He was 12 frickin' years old you morons. A 12 year old kid's response to a cop pointing a gun at him is to show him the cop that it's a toy, not real. "See, not real." That's why he "reached" for the gun. Not rocket science. I'm not even a parent, and I get that. How do we end up with dumb and dumber as the standard for law enforcement in this country?

    And the lack of response from the public is Cleveland is just as mind numbing. I would think the entire city would have turned out and burned the police dept HQ to the ground. I certainly would understand and not blame them one bit.

    But as what passes for normal in the good ol' USA, the bootlickers will prevail and this will be "justified" and someone else in the public will die tomorrow by hand of a cop for no good reason. And that will be normal too.



    The victim's father stated the victim (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:11:04 AM EST
    was "large for his age."  

    A tragedy.


    And it was a rookie cop. (none / 0) (#13)
    by Anne on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:13:23 AM EST
    Maybe the rookies should have to wear vests with "ROOKIE" on them, much like the "Student Driver" magnets people affix to their cars so people can be warned.

    Strange that they don't (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by jbindc on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:41:22 AM EST
    Rookie firefighters in some departments do wear identifiers.

    Trying to envision the reception a law (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:02:38 AM EST
    enforcement officer identified as a rookie would receive.

    good point (none / 0) (#42)
    by sj on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 01:28:42 PM EST
    But on the other hand civilians might also appreciate the fact that there is even greater danger from a particular cop.

    hmmmm.... one person's safety over the community. I'm guessing the authorities would prefer to provide for the safety of the rookie cop.


    Probably at least some (none / 0) (#49)
    by Zorba on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 02:21:16 PM EST
    scorn, teasing, laughter, contempt, disrespect, pity, rudeness....
    Pick one.

    John Crawford's last words too (none / 0) (#24)
    by Palli on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:00:28 AM EST
    "It's not real!"

    I had a somewhat similar case. Sheriff's vice (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:06:59 AM EST
    squad (plain clothes) takes down a young adult Caucasian male in front of an open bar. He is pointing what looks like an M-16 up in the air. It is a squirt gun.

    Police and military "evolution" (none / 0) (#28)
    by Dadler on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:39:59 AM EST
    They both believe it is the civilian's job to die first. With exceptions, of course. But the majority paradigm is now established and accepted as gospel, at least by enough people to keep it alive and gunning. That paradigm goes like this: police and military are incomparable heroes who may very well have to kill us/them (innocent civilians) even if "wrongly" to save themselves, and that is always justified because, well, that's just the way it is, or has become, or we don't know why, it just is.

    That said, did this toy gun have an orange tip? Isn't that standard? (though I'd suggest making all toy/model/whatever guns bet ALL orange and feature large obviously non-gun shapes like, say, cinnamon rolls or tricycles or large Macaws with "Not a Gun" logos printed all over their rainbow bodies. Personally, I do not understand toy guns AT ALL, or air guns that shoot plastic pellets that look like real guns, none of it. Period. I think they are horribly destructive, and always have been, to childrens' psyches. How can you possibly instill a real respect and fear of firearms when you toy them up left and right all over the place. Disgusting. And, yes, the old "cowboys and indians" toy sets from yesteryear were just as evil, IMO. Bad all around for the developing human mind. Awful.


    Here's a pic of the gun (none / 0) (#45)
    by nycstray on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 01:47:40 PM EST
    When will change come? (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Palli on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:59:15 AM EST
    Since Oct 2013 there has been an intensive D0J Investigation of the Cleveland Police Department. A Final Report on Reforms and Restructuring was expected in the nest couple of months. But now...

    The orange 1/2" tip "safety ID" can be easily broken off accidentally or intentionally. And it cannot be easily seen from a distance.

    Why are Barbie and Ken toys unrealistic replicas of the human body but Airsoft guns are super realistic replicas of guns?

    Oh, and Tamir is African American and his house is across the street from the playground.
    Police Protect and Serve WHO?


    Only themselves. (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Chuck0 on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 12:11:14 PM EST
    I would be interested in the (none / 0) (#14)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:25:53 AM EST
    police department providing the actual dispatcher's call to the police. If as they claim, the dispatcher failed to include the information that the 911 caller stated he believed the gun was probably fake (I've read caller said this twice). I would like to know why this information was not included. Are there any procedures in place that require pertinent information be provided?

    I'd like to know why the caller (none / 0) (#43)
    by nycstray on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 01:43:16 PM EST
    thought the gun was prob fake. I saw a picture of it and did not know it was a bb gun. For some reason I though bb guns looked more like fake rifles so you could learn to hunt . . .

    You'd (none / 0) (#44)
    by lentinel on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 01:43:50 PM EST
    think that someone might have tried to approach or at least call to the kid that he was scaring people and to put the gun on the ground. Anything.

    If the caller thought it was a fake gun, even just probably a fake gun, it seems to me that it would have been worth a try before calling in the cops.

    But, I wasn't there.
    Not looking to cast blame - just wondering if this tragedy could have been prevented.

    The other day Jeralyn posted about the Next Generation of Mujahideen - all these little kids with guns - taught to want to kill.
    Of course that is reality with real guns - and the other is fantasy - but my mind went to all those toy guns that little kids have - including toy submachine guns - and those video games - killing galore.
    And I remember the "cowboys and Indians" games...


    Help (none / 0) (#9)
    by MO Blue on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 09:35:58 AM EST
    A friend wants me to go see Mockinjay with her. I have not seen the other Hunger Game movies or read any of the books.
    I would like advise on whether or not I would enjoy this particular movie without knowing any of the back story or would I be totally confused by the plot.

    You'll understand it ... (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 01:24:49 PM EST
    but you will miss the nuances, such as they are.

    The second one is on Netflix streaming.  And the first one is available for cheap rental from iTunes, YouTube, etc.

    So you could catch up fairly easily, if you have the time.


    I guess you could try, Haven't seen it yet but (4.00 / 1) (#29)
    by ruffian on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:48:20 AM EST
    this part of the story probably stands on its own well enough. I think you'd get a lot more out of it though if you saw her evolution.

    My co-worker (none / 0) (#10)
    by jbindc on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 09:41:26 AM EST
    Tells me she didn't feel she missed anything by not seeing the first movie.

    I saw the original film and really liked it. (none / 0) (#37)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 12:49:50 PM EST
    But I've had no desire to see its sequels. I think "The Hunger Games" is a film that can stand on its own. I had no idea that the original book was part of a trilogy before Younger Daughter told me. (And of course, only Hollywood could milk four films out of a trilogy.)

    For all the sequels that Hollywood studios have churned out over the decades in sometimes knee-jerk response to the boffo box office of a particular movie, there are really only a very select few which can stand as equal or even superior to the original.

    Each chapter of "The Godfather" trilogy was in and of itself a great film, even though the third installment does suffer somewhat in comparison to the superior quality of the first two. So, too, were the first three "Star Wars" films. (But George Lucas lost me with the Jar-Jar Binks movie in 1999, so I never saw the last two.)

    But then there's the original "Rocky," a truly wonderful 1976 film that in my opinion was subsequently robbed of its potential greatness by the opportunistic release of "Rocky II, III, IV, V" and "Rocky Balboa," all of which exploited the first film's premise to the point of self-parody.

    For that reason, I tend to avoid sequels and will probably skip "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I." I like the original too much, to risk sullying my memory of it with what's likely to be -- at least to me, anyway -- an underwritten and overblown knock-off. At any rate, I'll wait to hear others' opinions about it before I'll even consider going to see it.



    I think the second one (none / 0) (#38)
    by CST on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 12:58:37 PM EST
    is worth watching.  Personally it was my favorite of the books/movies so far.  I was not as big a fan of the third book, and the fact that they have split the worst book into two movies to milk the profits is not particularly encouraging - I also think the less than stellar reviews of the third film are probably related to that.  But if you liked the first hunger games you will probably enjoy the second one.

    Caution advised, based on personal experience (none / 0) (#16)
    by oculus on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:33:22 AM EST
    seeing only the final movie of "Lord of the Rings"!

    I saw (none / 0) (#22)
    by CST on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:41:57 AM EST
    all Lord of the Rings movies, and read the books - but even I found those movies hard to follow.

    The hunger games is probably easier.


    Wilson Wedding (none / 0) (#19)
    by Uncle Chip on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 10:37:08 AM EST
    Darren Wilson takes a bride

    Marries another police officer during his hiatus.

    Thomas Jefferson wannabe disbarred (none / 0) (#36)
    by Reconstructionist on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 12:41:47 PM EST
    Michelle Hurd and Bill Cosby (none / 0) (#41)
    by Dadler on Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 01:28:16 PM EST