It was a strange set-up for an interview. Rumors had circulated for a couple of days that former Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich had scored an interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Fox only promoted the interview hours before it aired, and it came with a string of qualifications from anchor Bret Baier. “Kucinich was not there in the capacity of a journalist, nor was he representing Fox News in that role,” he said. Fox News reporter Greg Palkot joined him, however, and asked half the questions.
Assad gave a string of answers that are sure to rile President Obama and those who share the assement of U.S. intelligence.
Assad admitted that yes, Syria has chemical weapons. “It’s not a secret anymore,” Assad said. He also relayed he will agree to hand them over, but made some strange warnings that doing so “would be very detrimental to the environment.” But yet, he continued to deny that they were used by the government.
He also said Syria wasn’t engaged in a civil war but in a war against jihadists funded by outsiders. He said that fewer civilians have been killed than what has been reported. Palkot asked the president if he engaged in the mass killings of his own people. Assad denied that accusation, saying that in the villages he bombed, the civilians had fled or were serving as human shields. “Whether the terrorists enter an area, the civilians would leave, unless they use them as a human shield,” he said. “So in the case of the Syrian army attack area, where there is no civilians living in it most of the cases you can hardly find civilians.”
So he denied most of the horrible allegations slung against him. But he lent some insight into how he rationalizes such acts.
Kucinich asked him:
Not everyone who is watching this interview today knows that you are a doctor. You are an MD. And you have done this before you were president. As you know, doctors take an oath never to do harm to anyone. That’s a direct quote from the Hippocratic oath. Does a doctor give that up when he takes political office?
Assad responded with a metaphor that could justify any sort of aggresion, if it’s for that great historical steamroller, “the greater good.” He said that sometimes you have to cut off a limb to save the patient:
First of all doctor takes the right decision to protect the life of the patient. You can’t say they do not do harm physically. Sometimes they have to extract the bad member that could kill the patient. Extract eyes, could extract leg and so on. But you don’t say he is a bad doctor. It’s still a humanitarian job, whatever they do. The same for politician but in a larger scale. Doctors deal with one patient. Whether your decision help the life of the Syrians or not in such a situation. Nobody likes the violence. We are against the violence. But what will we do when the terrorists attack your country? And kill the people. Would you say that I’m against violence or you defend? You have army. You have police. They have to do their job. This is the constitution. This is the — the role of any government. What did they do in Los Angeles in the 1990s when you have [riots]? Send your army? You did. So, this is the mission of the government the most important thing is when you make the decision whether it harms or not which would help the majority of the people. It’s better if you take the decision that could help everyone but sometimes, in certain circumstances, in difficult circumstances, you cannot. So you have to take the less harmful.
Well, 100,000 people and 4 million refugees is an awfully big limb to remove. What’s left of the body?
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”