No jury would convict.

    If ever there were a profound argument in favor of the principal that jurors ought properly to exercise their independent discretion to nullify a criminal charge, this would be it.

    In a truly stomach turning codicil to the James Foley saga, we learn that his family members were the recipients of explicit threats that payment of the ransom to save his life would make them criminally liable.

    coatesd's picture

    Playing Defense and Still Losing

    You don’t win football games by only playing defense. And you don’t win mid-elections that way either. Perhaps somebody should remind the Democrats that winning elections, like winning games, requires you to take the game to the opposition, and to take it to them on your terms – not on theirs.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    Friday Deep Thoughts (Open Thread!)

    When U.S. trade policies wreck entire industries and cause unemployment, our answer is "train the workers."

    When U.S. foreign policies wreck entire regions, sending them into a tailspin of ethnic, religious and economic violence and chaos our answer is "train the local armies to deal with it."

    I think we need to combine these two things to turn the unemployed into the world's most effective killing machine.  I mean, it's just synergy, right?

    **End of Week Open Thread!**

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Attack on ISIS (Watch Your Wallet)

    As I somewhat expected, the military hawks have won over American public opinion regarding Syria/Iraq/ISIS, though what they get for that is tempered by Obama's pru

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Obama's Mission

    Barack Obama was elected because the American people were tired of being bogged down in unwinnable foreign wars. He was elected because a majority of American voters had come to view the Iraq war as a mistake. This is a basic, bottom-line political fact. Therefore, it is not (and cannot be) Official Beltway Wisdom.

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    Ramona's picture

    He Hit Her. And She Went Down

    The big domestic story this week is the suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice after a video surfaced showing him inside an elevator punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, so hard he knocks her out cold.  She falls on the floor, unconscious, and when the elevator door opens he is seen dragging her out of the elevator, kicking her to get her dead weight away from the doors, never once seeming to worry about the fact that she is not moving.

    bslev's picture

    President Obama's Address to the Nation

    Tomorrow evening This evening at 9 a.m. eastern time,  President Obama will address the nation and is expected to focus on ISIS, the threat he believes ISIS poses, and the the outlines of a strategy going forward to deal with any threat he identifies.  It is a difficult speech, both for political reasons, but more importantly because he will be speaking to a number of very different domestic and international constituencies in this one address.  Notably, many of the president's base supporters, people who have stayed with him from the beginning, have done so in large measure because they have trusted him to avoid the urge to solve the world's problems through the barrel of a gun. As to the president, whatever one thinks of him overall, I think it is fair to say that he does not look to involve the nation's military unless he determines that there really are no other viable options. 

    Losing our heads (Here, in Iraq, and in Saudi Arabia)

    It took only the deaths of two American reporters to send our government (particularly in the person of the President) scrambling to cobble together a manifestation of bellicosity.

    Oddly, the prior deaths by way of bullet, bomb, or building collapse of far more American reporters more or less at the hands of the same cast of characters produced only weasel words, a dance around the subject, and gauzy  platitudes.

    The difference, of course, lay in high production values.

    Wattree's picture

    An Ugly Truth: Why Some Black People Are Still Waiting For Santa Claus

    Whenever I hear the Name Belafonte the first word that comes to mind is "Class." That’s the only word appropriate for the way Harry Belafonte represented Black manhood in the fifties and early sixties. During a time when the few other Black celebrities with the crossover appeal of Belafonte were trying their best to make the White world forget that they were Black, Harry Belafonte flaunted his Blackness with dignity and pride. This soft-spoken, intelligent, and self-assured Black man with the undulating body drove White women crazy for just a taste of forbidden fruit, while at the very same time giving the White establishment a glimpse of things to come.

    Murder in Michigan

    A news item about an apparent road rage shooting in Howell, MI, caught my eye today. 

    http://www.livingstondaily.com/story/news/local/community/genoa-township...

    A couple (the Flemmings) was driving to pick up their kids from school when they were allegedly cut off by a guy in a pickup truck (Martin Edward Zale.) When they all stopped at a stoplight, Flemming, age 43, approached the truck, presumably to yell at Zale, whereupon Zale, age 69, rolled down the window and shot Flemming dead.

    Orion's picture

    Open Mikes Q&A With Michael Maiello And Michael Orion Powell

    I said it in my last interview with him - Michael Maiello is one of my best publishing friends. He not only saw me through the hard and good times but also seemed to see something in me nearly from the beginning. Our regular "Open Mikes" Q&A idea was his own and he wanted to switch it up this time - asking me questions! Gosh gee, I didn't even know I had thoughts that anyone would find that interesting. Here goes.....

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Half-Assed: Why America Cannot Stop the Slaughter in Iraq

    As ISIS pursues its genocidal dreams in Syria and Iraq, Bruce Levine asks, "whether we as human beings living in the most powerful nation in the world can stand by yet again and do nothing -- as thousands or tens of thousands of innocent human beings  are slaughtered."

    The question conceals a heavy premise: that we have the power to stop the slaughter if we choose to exercise it.

    I do not deny the premise, at least in principle. If we unleash our full military and economic might, we can surely defeat ISIS forces and build stable, peaceful states in Iraq and Syria. But full mobilization and massive nation-building projects are not realistic options in the current political environment. We may muster the will for limited military operations in Iraq, but we're unwilling to do what it takes to succeed. Consequently, our efforts to stop the slaughter are doomed to fail and may make the situation even worse.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    What If The People Who Want To Go To War In Syria Are Fantasists?

    This Foreign Affairs article by Kenneth M. Pollack is a sight to behold. In it, the Brookings Senior Fellow and oft-quoted historian of military history in the Middle East, suggests that the United States should recruit, train, fund and equip a new Syrian army capable of defeating ISIS and deposing Bashar al-Assad at the same time.

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    Ramona's picture

    A Labor Day Round Up: Let's Hear It For The Workers

    Thomas Perez has been Secretary of Labor for just about a year now, having been sworn in on September 4, 2013.  He missed giving his first Labor Day pronouncement by two days, so this year's pronouncement is his first.

    Here's what he had to say:

    Statement on Labor Day by US Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez

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    bslev's picture

    Tough Choices -- Facing Genocide in the Levant

    There has been more debate among dagbloggers discussing ISIS, Syria, Iraq -- the Middle East -- than there has been in the Congress over the past couple of weeks.  It is election season and folks are back home raising money and kissing babies.  

    The president is on the job still but today, with commendable candor, stated that the United States did not yet have a strategy for dealing with ISIS.  Commendable yes, but not entirely reassuring when you hear it from the commander in chief.  That is not the point of this piece.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    All You Need To Know About The Debt In 3 Seconds

    In my mailbox this morning was a little cartoon from Brookings promising "The Federal Debt: All You Need To Know In Three Minutes."

    I can beat that.  All you need to know is that the Congressional Budget Office just reduced its economic growth projection for 2014 and increased slightly its estimate of what the annual budget deficit will be as well as the total amount it believes will be added to the debt over the next 10 years.

    Or, the short version: Less growth leads to higher deficits, more growth leads to lower deficits.

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    War Fever at NPR's Diane Rehm show

    I listened to the NPR August 25th Monday morning Diane Rehm Show and it was scarier than anything since, yes, since, 9/11/01:

    U.S. Strategy In The Battle Against ISIS

    ....the Obama administration is under growing pressure to strike ISIS on Syrian soil. A discussion of U.S. strategy to combat ISIS....

    Orion's picture

    Kshama Sawant, Jess Spear, and the Uncompromising “Free” Market

    In Seattle, socialist Kshama Sawant has been unusually successful in her progress as city councilwoman. While it will take a good while to apply, she did succeed in pushing $15 minimum wage for the city of Seattle. 

    The Socialist Alternative movement continued with Jess Spear, who ran a pretty stellar campaign against Frank Chopp for the position of speaker. Nevertheless, Spear was “overwhelmed,” as the Seattle P.I. put it, with Chopp raking it 80 percent of ballots, and the explanations why are pretty storied.
    Michael Maiello's picture

    How Foreign Policy Non-Experts Think

    I am no a foreign policy expert.

    I am definitely not an expert in military history or tactics.  I have little familiarity with the science, such as it is, of national and international security.

    I am particularly not adept at issues involving the Middle East, a region of the world that I have never visited and that is populated by diverse cultures that I know little about and people who speak languages that I don't speak.  I can't even call their languages "beautiful" as is the tradition, because I am not cunning linguist enough to know.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Book Review: Sharp Knives, Sharp Stories

    When I read really great fiction or watch a really good play or movie, whether it’s new or years old, I find that the work speaks to whatever is going on in the world.  That’s When The Knives Come Down, the debut collection of short stories by Dolan Morgan, certainly fits the bill.  Though the dozen story collection is diverse in narratives and tone, the common theme in all the stories is the relationship of people to place.  The w

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