|August 25, 2014||Perry to taste Texas justice||10 comments|
|August 05, 2014||GOP bury House Benghazi report||13 comments|
|July 21, 2014||Denial’s not a river in Egypt||5 comments|
|July 15, 2014||‘You will be shot’||10 comments|
|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|
When Texas Gov. Rick Perry gets to prison in a couple of years, like all the other convicts in the state's penal system, he will continue to proclaim his innocence.
Clattering his tin drinking cup against the bars of his cell, Perry will scream his conviction was political pay back until burly guards mace him and then drag Perry down to solitary. After 30 days in the hole, a despondent Perry will be showering one morning when he meets a large fellow inmate with scary tattoos named Leonard who promises to look after the ex-governor in return for certain favors.
You don't think this will happen? I do.
You see, Travis County, Texas is essentially the city of Austin, the Lone Star State's overwhelmingly Democratic bastion. It's a great town with a vibrant intellectual and artistic community. It's also the state capitol where the governor conducts his business. A year or so ago, some of Perry's business attracted the attention of the Texas Public Integrity Unit, which oversees the conduct of public officials. The unit is under the supervision of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat.
Last year Lehmberg was arrested for drunk driving, convicted and punished. She sought treatment and said she won't run for office again.
Seeing an opportunity to replace her, however, Perry demanded her resignation so he could appoint Lehmberg's replacement who would then call off the Public Integrity Unit's investigation into the Texas Cancer Research and Prevention Institute.
Lehmberg refused to step down, so Perry used his executive authority to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit. Thus, says a special prosecutor, Perry committed two felonies, abuse of his official capacity and coercing a public servant. Evidence of Perry's crimes was presented to a grand jury and an indictment was returned.
A law and order guy, Perry likes to brag about the state's low tolerance for criminals and the stiff sentences handed down in Texas. If he is convicted, the would-be presidential candidate could be looking at up to 99 years in the joint on the abuse charge and an extra 10 for the coercion count.
In the famous word of Rick Perry: "Oops."
His conviction is likely for a couple of reasons. During his term as governor, two other county district attorneys were convicted of driving under the influence, both Republicans. There wasn't a peep from Gov. Perry in either case, so he clearly applied a politically-motivated double standard to Lehmberg. In addition, he will more than likely face a Travis County jury and as I say, there are a lot of Democrats in the Austin area.
"The bottom line is that Rick Perry saw Lehmberg’s drunk-driving charge as an opportunity to get rid of her and her active investigation into the cancer research fund scandal,” Ed Espinoza, director of Progress Texas, told a reporter. “Rick Perry chose to use the powers of his office to act as judge and jury.”
In public relations it is understood if you want to bury bad news you release it on Friday afternoon in August.
So it was the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee declassified its two-year-old investigation into the Benghazi tragedy last week, releasing its findings last Friday, August 1, at 3:30PM Eastern Time.
If you don't want people to know something, you could not pick a better date, day or time.
After all the overheated rhetoric and baseless charges made by wild eyed right wingers, the GOP wanted as few people as possible to know the facts. Here they are, as presented by Republican Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger in a statement:
Rep. Mike Thompson, second-ranking Democrat on the committee, said the panel's findings "confirms that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given."
Oh, you conservatives didn't hear about this?
That's because your favorite "fair and balanced" news source, Fox News, completely ignored the revelations. What choice did Fox have? The findings run counter to the network's ongoing narrative that the White House was complicit in the attacks.
The House Republicans' own report blows Fox's phony narrative out of the water, not that the facts ever matter to Obama haters.
Nevertheless, this development is unfortunate for the GOP, which was counting on another Benghazi show trial this fall to divert voter attention from its own miserable record over the last two years.
They still think if they scream Benghazi loudly enough, voters will forget the 113th Congress has done practically nothing.
Global warming is a hoax.
The earth is 6,000 years old, not 4.54 billion years old.
Guns don't kill people.
Darwinism is wrong. Creationism is right.
There is no economic recovery.
Denial is a big part of conservative playbook. When you’re losing the war of ideas as badly as conservatives are, when the facts fail to support your positions, what else is there to do but deny the evidence that you’re losing it?
So it goes when you write a progressive column for a newspaper published in an overwhelmingly conservative neighborhood.
Two readers, Daniel Joy and Matt Nash, published columns of their own refuting my recent piece in which I cited the latest data that demonstrably proves the economy is continuing to recover from the disastrous Bush recession of 2007-2008.
“In what must be the greatest political irony of all time,” writes Joy, “the Administration openly embraced what amounts to ‘trickle down’ policies to get the economy moving.”
The economy is recovering because the 3.5 million jobs lost during the last two years of the Bush administration have been recovered, plus another 3 million.
“(T)he bullets Foley uses don’t seem to hit very much when they are undermined by record employment,” says Nash.
That record was actually achieved by Republican President Herbert Hoover after the 1929 stock market crash. Mr. Nash probably means the extraordinarily high unemployment Bush left behind which has dropped precipitously under Obama with Republicans refusing to pass a jobs bill.
Consumer confidence is up. Economic indicators are positive. People are working and spending again. The economy is growing. The numbers don't lie.
But these two gentlemen say there is no economic recovery. The reports are wrong. The soaring Dow doesn’t actually reflect investor confidence. Obama is not a populist but is actually in league with the Koch brothers. Self-made billionaire Nick Hanauer, whom I noted is worried about income disparity, doesn’t know what he is talking about despite the facts that support his concerns.
As I noted in my on-line responses to Messers Joy and Nash, if there was a Republican in the White House and the current economic data was presented, conservatives would crow about nothing else.
But the recovery is taking place under a Democratic president and progressive policies with no help whatsoever from Republicans. So conservatives deny it.
And this is another conservative handicap. They steadfastly refuse to critically dissect what they believe or why they believe it.
In the face of immutable truths, they insist those truths are false.
Mine is a family of immigrants. Unless you are Native American, so is yours.
On my dad’s side, my grandmother and grandfather left Ireland in the 1920s for better economic prospects in America. My mom’s family came here from Hungary to escape crushing poverty.
Our family’s first and then the second generations prospered, which is precisely what my forbearers hoped for when they arrived in New York Harbor.
There, they were greeted by the Statue of Liberty, which made a promise to the diverse immigrants pouring out of ships and onto Ellis Island.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
That “golden door” is today being slammed in the face of the tens of thousands of children arriving on the Texas border because they’re the wrong color and speak the wrong language.
If they were blond, blue-eyed Danes, you wouldn’t be hearing a word from the nativists who are apoplectic this tiny number of small brown refugees from drug and crime ridden countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are seeking the same safe haven their own ancestors sought when they arrived.
The kids are making a dangerous journey, the lucky ones arriving on the U.S. border where they surrender to authorities in the hopes they’ll be granted asylum under a law President George W. Bush signed in 2008 in America.
But to hear the nativists tell it, these children pose a grave threat. In fact, some would shoot to kill.
“You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot,’” said Chris Davis of the militia group Operation Secure Our Border in a video posted on YouTube, which has since been taken down.
Davis is a mighty poor excuse for a human being. I hope to hell he’s not speaking for our own D.A. King, who I’m pretty sure would draw the line at drawing down on a frightened little girl from El Salvador looking for her mother.
Naturally, the right wing media and conservative pols have politicized this awful spectacle, dehumanizing and demonizing the refugee kids, calling for a militarized rather than a humanitarian response to the crisis while blaming President Obama for the mess.
But Obama passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill through the Senate that would have addressed problems like the current border crisis and also increased border security.
House Republicans have refused to pass the measure.
Last week, President Obama asked for $3.7 billion to help speed up the due process the refugees are owed under U.S. law. House Republicans said no.
Meantime, TV clown Sean Hannity appeared to be listening to Chris Davis. He posed for a picture leaning on a heavy machine gun mounted on a Texas Ranger speed boat in the Rio Grande.
Presumably Hannity is ready to mow down the next bunch of terrified kids who appear on the Mexican side.
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.