|July 03, 2014||Five men choose for all women||8 comments|
|June 24, 2014||What are you for?||1 comments|
|June 04, 2014||'We don't know the facts'||11 comments|
|May 22, 2014||‘Cold civil war’ just hot air||2 comments|
|May 12, 2014||House Benghazi ‘investigation’ transparently political||8 comments|
|May 06, 2014||Benghazi Part Eight||15 comments|
|April 30, 2014||More guns Rep. Gregory?||9 comments|
|April 17, 2014||"Where Law Ends": Fox News||1 comments|
|April 10, 2014||Moral paragon or 'most corrupt'?||1 comments|
|April 02, 2014||Cleanse the temple||1 comments|
The Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby is a pyrrhic victory for Christian evangelicals who think it's the right of an employer to refuse to provide contraception in its health insurance plan.
The only possible outcome is more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions.
Five conservative men were in the majority on the SCOTUS ruling while the three women justices were in the minority. Once again, we have right wing men telling American women what's best for their health; five government lawyers deciding what only a woman and her doctor should determine.
Under Obamacare, companies the size of Hobby Lobby must provide health insurance to its employees. Contraception has always been available in these plans.
But Hobby Lobby is owned by evangelicals who mistakenly believe contraception is the same as abortion, so they object to providing birth control to employees enrolled in their plan.
Their "freedom of religion," it seems, trumps your freedom not to believe what they believe.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg blasted the five males in the majority:
If you are a woman who works at Hobby Lobby, you are now forced to subscribe to the same religious beliefs as your employer. So, noted Ginsburg, businesses owned by Jehovah Witnesses can now refuse to provide blood transfusions in their health insurance plans.
"Medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin" can be banned in the plans of companies owned by some Muslims, Jews, and Hindus, she added.
Right wing pundits have piled criticism on President Obama's foreign policy because they don't like his doctrine has been diplomacy and, failing that, economic sanctions in cooperation with America's major allies. You know, ask questions first before shooting.
The results are not as spectacular or simple-minded as dropping an air-fuel bomb on somebody, but they have been highly effective.
Iran's nuclear ambitions have been severely hurt by U.S.-led international economic sanctions, which dealt a crippling blow to the country's economy. It can't sell its oil. It can't move its money. It's national soccer team couldn't even get any practice matches against other World Cup qualifiers.
"Right now Iran is suffering 30 percent inflation, 20 percent unemployment," former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich said last year. "I mean this nation is hurting and our economic sanctions, because we've been patient with them, because we have actually rounded up almost every other nation to support us, have had a huge impact."
By freezing the assets to Vladimir Putin's inner circle, Russia has quickly and quietly backed down from its misadventure in Ukraine. This week, "rebels" (actually Russians in masks) in eastern Ukraine agreed to a cease fire, no doubt on Putin's orders. Vlad's pals would rather have their cash than Kiev.
Syria just handed over the last of its chemical weapons, not because U.S. Marines landed on its shore but because Obama laid down a red line.
"The greatest obstacle to ending the Syria war is the notion that it can be won militarily," added U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
In Iraq, meantime, the fruits of American intervention 11 years ago are being harvested as the worst terrorists on the planet have launched a civil war. Call it Saddam's Revenge.
This one may require military intervention, and of course whatever Obama might do on that front will be wrong as far as conservatives are concerned. Supporting the president in time of war? That's so 1944.
So my challenge today, readers, is for you reactionaries out there to tell the rest of us very specifically what should be done in the hot spots and, more important, describe to us the acceptable cost for America in terms of lives and tax dollars if we do as you suggest.
Just don't tell us what you're against for the hundredth time.
Tell us what you are for.
Fox News never worries about speculating on news events, offering slanted opinions instead of facts while deceiving average TV viewers into believing its anchors and commentators actually know what they are talking about.
On Sunday, after news of the release of Bowe Bergthal broke, Fox News rushed to criticize the "sense of pride" "some" in the Obama Administration felt in the soldier's release after nearly five years in captivity.
The Fox anchor proclaimed that an unnamed "many" say Bergdahl is a deserter who walked out of his base in Afghanistan because he was "disillusioned" with American policy there.
To prove its point, Fox interviewed Pete Hegseth of the right wing Concerned Veterans for America who smeared Bergdahl before admitting, "we don't have all the facts."
Here's how the underlying narrative of Fox News' "reporting" breaks down in case you missed it:
"Obama is proud that a deserter and probable Taliban sympathizer was released. Obama turned over five Taliban leaders in exchange for Bergdahl because the president secretly sympathizes with the terrorists and wants to see them defeat America."
To further prop this narrative up, all day Monday and Tuesday, a Washington PR firm with right wing connections offered media outlets interviews with young men claiming they were in Bergdahl's unit who declared the soldier deserted because he had doubts about the American mission in Afghanistan.
I have doubts about the American mission in Afghanistan. Anyone with half a brain should have doubts. Why are American troops trying to nation build in a land of primitive tribes with no concept, respect or need for nationhood?
But this plays into another narrative. In the simplistic world of conservative "thought," if you question why the military is being deployed, you don't support "our troops," which is utter nonsense.
Real support of the troops is about making damn sure politicians in Washington don't ask them to die in unwinnable conflicts. Did we learn nothing from Korea, Vietnam and Iraq?
If it turns out Bergdahl was indeed captured, he'll likely have a long list of slander law suits against media and individuals calling him a "deserter" and "traitor" today.
We'll have to wait for those pesky facts.
A reader who calls himself “Honest Abe” recently explained that he would “prefer a president who looks like him” before positing there is a “cold civil war” being waged today in America between conservatives and progressives.
We can safely assume the anonymous Abe is white, conservative and probably born in these parts. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on being racist, although he sure sounds like one.
Why is it guys like Abe seem always to be spoiling for another civil war? The last one didn’t go so well for them, after all.
We now know the hot Civil War was fought because wealthy white Southerners wanted to keep their “peculiar institution,” the quaint phrase they used to obfuscate the monstrous immorality of slavery.
On the backs of millions of black people kidnapped and brought to America against their will white slave owners accumulated vast fortunes. Blacks were subjected to wretched living conditions, worked like animals and often raped, beaten and murdered.
When Northern states sought to outlaw this gross obscenity, rich Southern whites revolted.
They couldn’t tell poor Southern whites a war was necessary to protect and propagate their immense fortunes, so they pushed the phony “states’ rights” line to hide the real rationale for armed conflict with the North.
Many poor, white Southerners were ignorant and ill-educated, beholden to the hierarchy that kept them along with the slaves on the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid. It wasn’t difficult to fool many millions of them to fight “Yankee aggressors.”
“War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want,” Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman famously declared before Gen. Ulysses S. Grant dispatched him South with orders to “make Georgia howl.”
You know the rest.
To the extent there is any cold civil war it’s in the minds of yokels like Honest Abe who can’t get it through their heads that this country is not what it was in 1861 and never will be again.
Abe and his ilk, like the Southern yokels of yore, are being manipulated by the propaganda foisted on them by today’s rich plantation owners like the Koch brothers who point at progressives and bellow, “There’s your enemy, boys! YEEE-haaaa!!!!
Thankfully we’re not shooting at each other. Yet.
So instead of “gloriously falling on the field of honor” for a morally bankrupt cause, Honest Abe votes against his own best economic interests.
By now it is pretty clear House Republicans are coordinating their Benghazi smear campaign with conservative media outlets, most notably Fox News.
Some readers not paying close attention to the proceedings might be wondering, is there anything to what the conservative media and House Republicans are saying about the four Americans who tragically died when their diplomatic outpost in Benghazi was overrun by Islamic militants on September 11-12, 2012?
The short answer is, no. What’s going on is transparently political.
House conservatives and their media allies have several goals keeping Benghazi alive, the first and most important being they can raise campaign cash if they do.
In fact, the Republican National Congressional Committee recently sent an e-mail to supporters soliciting donations on the strength of the recently announced “House Select Committee” that will conduct the ninth congressional Benghazi investigation. The previous eight investigations found no White House wrong doing.
The second reason is to smear Hillary Clinton, who was the Secretary of State when the Benghazi tragedy occurred.
Mrs. Clinton poses a formidable 2016 presidential opponent to whomever Republicans decide to run against her so it’s important to keep the Benghazi non-scandal alive in order to undermine her candidacy, a strategy that is sure to backfire badly on the GOP with women voters.
The third reason is to damage President Obama’s reputation. He led the nation out of the second worst economic collapse in the nation’s history and with the economy humming along now, it’s paramount to create the false impression he and Democrats have failed America.
Finally, and most importantly, the GOP-led House of Representatives has done nothing to help the president clean up the mess they made during President Bush’s eight ruinous years in office.
In fact, they’ve done nothing, period.
That’s not a record on which Republicans can run, so it’s crucial they have a smokescreen, something to hide their dereliction of duty from voters. They think Benghazi gives them the cover they need.
Now, let’s look into the five charges Republicans are using as their rationale to launch yet another investigation, claiming they have never been adequately addressed:
Charge: Somebody changed the talking points used by Ambassador Susan Rice during September 16, 2012 television interviews in order to protect the White House.
Answer: The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s bipartisan investigation of the tragedy said “talking points went through the normal interagency coordination process…(following) normal, but rushed coordination procedures and there were no efforts by the White House…to ‘cover up’ facts…for political purposes.”
Charge: The White House falsely blamed a video created by an anti-Islamic Coptic Christian and posted on the Intern for triggering spontaneous rather than coordinated attacks.
Answer: The Senate Select Committee report said, “Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day's violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video, suggesting that these and other terrorist groups could conduct similar attacks with little advance warning.”
Charge: President Obama was unaccounted for during the attack on the Benghazi compound.
Answer: There is an authenticated photograph of Obama and his advisers conferring about in the Oval Office on the day of the attack.
Charge: Much has been made of a purported “stand down” order to military units that might have rescued the besieged Americans.
Answer: The Senate Select Committee and the independent Accountability Review Board found that no such order was given and there was no effort by any military commander to delay help.
Charge: All eyewitnesses weren’t interviewed.
Answer: What House Republicans know but won’t say is that many of the eyewitnesses were or are CIA operatives, whose identities cannot be revealed. All of them have been interviewed in classified hearings.
In 1983, 17 Americans were among the 63 murdered by an Islamic terrorist bombing at the U.S. embassy in Beirut.
Just six months later, 241 Marines were murdered by an Islamic suicide bomber at their Beirut barracks.
On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 were murdered by Islamic terrorists even though President Bush was warned a month earlier such an attack was probable.
On May 12, 2003, Islamic terrorists murdered nine Americans at the diplomatic compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, one of 13 such terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts during President Bush’s term.
So here’s my question:
Why weren’t any of these far more heinous Islamic terrorist attacks subjected to nine congressional investigations?
The Benghazi tragedy has been investigated by Congress now seven times and nothing has emerged to implicate the Obama administration of wrong doing, so the GOP is going for eight, hoping that's their lucky number.
After all, more than 50 House votes to repeal Obamacare worked wonders for them.
House Speaker John Boehner is impanelling a "House select committee" to again investigate the tragic deaths of four Americans at the diplomatic outpost in the remote Libyan city of Benghazi. He cites a new e-mail from a White House staffer that does nothing more than confirm already known facts as the reason for the new inquisition.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Republicans with non-stop help of Fox News and an army of right wing radio and print pundits, insist the White House is covering something up.
Ambassador Thomas Pickering who, along with retired Admiral Mike Mullen, led a months-long independent inquiry into Benghazi by the Accountability Review Board, famously said after the ARB delivered its report early last year, "I think the notion of a quote, cover up, has all the elements of Pulitzer Prize fiction attached to it."
Pickering doesn't understand right wingers will settle for fiction, Pulitzer Prize or not, if the facts won't support their claims.
So now, with elections approaching, Boehner wants to shift voter focus to anything other than the dismal performance of the House of Representatives he leads. And if that diversion can smear 2016's likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, even better as far as Boehner and his Republican contingent are concerned.
Democrats are talking about boycotting the latest GOP kangaroo court. But I sincerely hope Hillary appears before Rep. Trey Gowdy's committee. The rabid anti-Obama South Carolina tea partier was tasked by Boehner to lead the "impartial" House inquiry, the real goal of which is to produce video for Fox News and Republicans on the panel.
Expect all kinds of histrionics if not hysterics; angry finger pointing, baseless accusations, and impotent outrage that will be presented on the "fair and balanced" Fox network and edited into GOP campaign ads next fall.
And it's going to backfire. Big time.
The well rested Hillary will let the Republicans hoist themselves on their own petards. She'll calmly repeat what she told Congress last year and watch their fury as they try to trip her up, bait her into some kind of emotional response, or get her to say something they can use out of context.
Hillary is just so much smarter than any GOP hack Boehner selects and she's coached by one of the best politicians in American history. I expect some very deft verbal ju jitsu from her.
Meantime, women of all political stripes will sympathetically watch hostile male Republicans try to brow beat, abuse and disrespect this very accomplished woman, a former First Lady, United States Senator and Secretary of State, and wonder why the GOP expects their votes.
It was only a matter of time before gun violence erupted in Cobb County. The crime scene was once again in Kennesaw where, as it happens, local State Rep. Charles Gregory has made "gun freedom" his calling card during an otherwise unremarkable first term in Georgia legislature.
Recall it was just four years ago Jesse James Warren shot and killed three people and seriously wounded two others at the Penske truck rental center on Barrett Lakes Boulevard in Kennesaw.
Instead of considering what that hometown horror represented, the three lives destroyed and what might be done to prevent more gun violence, Gregory doubled down.
Let's put guns in churches, guns in bars and restaurants, guns on university campuses, guns here, guns there and guns everywhere, said Gregory when he ran for the Georgia House in 2012.
So what did you Kennesaw voters expect would happen if Rep. Gregory got his way?
Just a mile or so from the site of the Penske atrocity, another shooter, went on a bloody rampage, according to police, wounding six workers, two seriously, before killing himself at the FexEx facility near McCollum Field.
Such heinous acts and the public outrage that ensues aren't a time for reflection, says Gregory; it's not a time to discuss how to end the gun violence epidemic in America.
No when we have mass shootings,Gregory told the MDJ's Jon Gillooly after the massacre of 20 small children and six of their teachers in Newtown, Conn., it's an opportunity for the government to impose more restrictions on gun owners.
“People need to stand up for these liberties right now,” Gregory said in December, 2012, without so much as mentioning the slaughtered babies in Newtown, whose parents and siblings will live with the horrific memory of their little ones shot to pieces by Adam Lanza's assault rifle, the one his "responsible" gun owner mother kept unsecured in her home even though she knew her son was deranged.
To Gregory, who is blessed with three small children all presumably alive and well, the right to carry guns anywhere without restrictions of any kind trumps the right of Newtown, Kennesaw and all other gun violence victims' to live their lives.
Evidently Gregory believes the body count, the permanent injuries, the shattered lives, and the psychological trauma is the price every American must pay for "liberty" whether we own guns or not.
"(I)t’s fighting tooth and nail to get any small bit of liberty back in this country because for the entire history of our country since the beginning it’s been erosion of our liberties," Gregory went on, "and people do need to stand up in defense of those liberties, and also beyond that from a practical standpoint the argument of gun control is just not true, it’s a fallacy."
Oh yeah, Charlie? Call me when you visit the victims shot Tuesday morning. I want to tag along and see how that message is received by those who, unlike you, have actually taken a bullet.
Gregory isn't even original. He merely spouts paranoid, irresponsible National Rifle Association garbage in his bid to get back to the state capitol, transparently pandering to the NRA crowd knowing if he clings to Wayne LaPierre's trouser leg just enough Kennesaw gun lovers will show up at the polls to vote for him.
What a cynical ploy to get yourself elected to a lowly political post.
I wrote about Michael Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety in my weekly column last Friday. With two mass shootings now, Kennesaw clearly needs to become one of those towns.
My novel, "Where Law Ends," is a re-telling of the legend of the Montana Vigilantes. If you aren't familiar with the story I'll give you the Reader's Digest version here:
Henry Plummer was a real life figure who migrated from California to the gold fields of southwestern Montana in 1862. He was elected sheriff and, with the help of just one deputy, enforced the law in a place inclined to rampant lawlessness.
Meantime, a group of "respectable citizens" accused Plummer of masterminding a nefarious gang of "road agents" and took the law into their own hands. (Buy the book at Amazon and find out what happened. Send it to me care of the MDJ and I'll autograph it for you).
As you will discover, I take a dim view of vigilantism. People who appoint themselves judge and jury are dangerous criminals as Henry Plummer discovered.
America is a nation of laws, thank God in heaven. We have due process for all, exceptionally trained police to investigate violations, learned attorneys serving as defenders and prosecutors to apply the law, and other learned attorneys serving as judges to rule on the law, case by case. We have appellate courts to rule on the judges' rulings. If punishment is imposed, we have a legal system for that, too.
Law is what makes America special. No one is above it.
I got to thinking about the Montana Vigilantes after watching Sean Hannity inciting a Mesquite, Nevada rancher to take up arms against federal employees.
Why was a Fox News' employee (Fox itself is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission) declaring Cliven Bundy and his goofball adult kids within their rights to aim loaded weapons at Bureau of Land Management agents who came around last week to confiscate their cattle under a lawful court order?
Bundy has, for 20 years, allowed his 500 or so cows to graze on public lands, which is perfectly alright. The only stipulation is he must pay a fee of $1.35 per head per day for that privilege, a bargain compared to the cost of grazing cows on private lands.
Most every rancher in the West abides by this reasonable pricing structure, with the BLM lawfully administering compliance.
Except Cliven Bundy, a citizen of the United States, protected by its armed forces and police, and a user of its public facilities like roads and bridges, doesn't "recognize" the authority of the federal government so he hasn't paid his grazing bill.
Imagine, you Cobb County residents, declaring you don't recognize the lawful authority of the county government and not paying your property taxes. In very short order, my friends, your mattresses, TVs and furniture would be on the curb and there would no Sean Hannity to applaud your "patriotic" pluck live, coast-to-coast.
Leave it to a little SOB like Sean Hannity to make a hero out of Bundy the Deadbeat Rancher. Nowadays, the federal "gubmint" means Barack Hussein Obama, and we ain't obeyin' no laws so long as that damn (fill in the blank) is in the White House!
"We have interviewed neighbors and people in and around Mesquite and they have said that (Bundy) is breaking the law," said Chuck Meyer, news director at CBS' KXNT Radio in Las Vegas. "When it comes to the matter of the law, Mr. Bundy is clearly wrong."
The confiscation of cattle came because Bundy ran up a $1 million tab with the feds. Last year a court ordered Bundy to remove his cattle or they would be confiscated and sold to pay what Bundy owed.
He deliberately disobeyed the order and the BLM began confiscation. When armed vigilantes showed up to defend Bundy, several aiming their assault weapons at the BLM agents, the feds released the cattle out of "serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public."
Now Hannity is trying to coax Bundy and his vigilante buddies into pulling the trigger so Fox News has a Waco or Ruby Ridge-style shoot-out it can sensationalize, one for which Hannity can take full credit.
Accept Hannity will never accept responsibility. He'll say it was Obama's fault.
The St. George (UT) News editorialized: "The Bundy Range War was perpetuated by an irresponsible media vying for nothing more than ratings and an ill-informed and willfully ignorant public who, much like a NASCAR fan, come to the race simply in hopes of seeing a crash."
Rep. Paul Broun, M.D., bills himself as a paragon of Christian virtue. Before the Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Athens votes on any legislation, Broun claims he asks four questions: is it right/moral, is it Constitutional, is it necessary, is it affordable.
Unfortunately, the first question appears not to apply to Broun personally.
In 2007 and again in 2013, the non-partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) ranked him among the most corrupt members of Congress.
"While he was running for Congress in 2007," says the CREW report, "Rep. Broun made several loans to his campaign that he said were made from his personal funds and carried no interest. Years later, after the campaign was caught making suspect 'interest' payments to Rep. Broun, he amended his Federal Election Commission reports to say two of the loans came from a home equity line of credit — which still left many questions unanswered."
Now Broun faces more questions.
The congressman would have us believe he is a fiscal conservative loathe to waste a single taxpayer penny on unnecessary things like food stamps, healthcare, or welfare for poor, elderly or disabled Americans.
But In March we learned he did spend more than $33,000 of taxpayer money hiring a debate coach for his Senate campaign.
WSB-TV reported last month Broun used the funds to hire O'Donnell and Associates, a firm run by Brett O'Donnell, a fellow evangelical Christian. O'Donnell advised Rep. Michele Bachmann, another evangelical who joined Broun on CREW's 2013 most corrupt list, during her failed 2012 presidential run (pattern here?).
When a WSB reporter attempted to talk to Broun about the spending, the congressman slammed his office door in the reporter's face. You can see it here:
According to Peter Waldron, who coordinated Bachmann's campaign in Iowa, O'Donnell, "...exercised ‘Rasputin-like control over Michele. More than one staffer was grateful to God that she didn’t win the nomination because of the influence that Brett had over her.”
“If somebody is advertising themselves as a campaign consultant, what are they doing on the taxpayer dime?” asked Kathy Keily with the Sunlight Foundation during a WSB interview. “These lawmakers can raise plenty of money to fund their campaigns. They really don't need the taxpayers to chip in as well."
Rep. Paul Ryan, the failed Republican vice presidential candidate, wants to balance the budget by 2024.
The way he proposes doing that is by making life even more miserable for the poor and sick.
Of course Ryan asks nothing of America's wealthiest citizens or Fortune 500 corporations who would continue to enjoy their lavish tax breaks and generous loopholes.
Pope Francis insists politicians must address society's neediest. But Ryan, who claims to be a devout Roman Catholic, ignores his church's leader and proposes huge cuts in Medicaid and food stamps along with full repeal of Obamacare to reach his goal.
His budget would even voucherize Medicare, a plan enthusiastically embraced by U.S. Senate candidates Representatives Paul Broun, Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey. Seniors would be left on their own to buy health insurance with a subsidy of a few thousand dollars. Good luck.
Ryan stereotypes those who rely on Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps as worthless leeches, never mind that they include the elderly, the disabled, unemployed veterans, and children. His plan, says Ryan, “empowers recipients to get off the aid rolls and back on the payrolls.”
So much for Christian charity.
Along with his wealthy beneficiaries, Ryan's budget would increase defense spending, much of which is little more than corporate welfare.
"Affluent Americans would do quite well," said Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "But for tens of millions of others, the Ryan plan is a path to more adversity."
Just as millions of Americans are enjoying healthcare coverage, many for the first time, Ryan would do away with the Affordable Care Act to save $2 trillion over the next ten years.
He would have you believe Republicans will tell millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions who now have insurance they're no longer covered.
What we do learn from conservative hypocrites like Paul Ryan is that Koch money talks, the vulnerable walk. Any lip service Ryan pays to the teachings of Christ is belied by his money changer mentality.
Perhaps Pope Francis should start preaching about cleansing the temple.