Nel's New Day

July 19, 2016

Only GOP Gets Pass for Making Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. That’s what Republicans said this week when Leslie Stahl asked GOP vice-president candidate Mike Pence about staunchly supporting the Iraq War and Donald Trump excused him. That’s what a GOP delegate said about Melania Trump’s speech on the first night of the GOP convention that copied segments about values from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic convention, the wife of the man who Trump denigrated for his lack of values.

Plagiarism seems to be a family pattern for the Trumps:  much of the materials from Trump Institute’s “get-rich-quick” ideas came from “an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier,” according to NYT’s Jonathan Martin. Plagiarism ended Joe Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1988, but Trump has been called the Teflon Man because nothing sticks to him. The GOP position that mistakes are no problem seem to not be extended to Democrats.

Last night at the convention was a night of fear and doom highlighted by Patricia Smith, mother of a man who died in the attack on the diplomatic post at Benghazi (Libya), when she emphatically said that she holds Hillary Clinton personally responsible for the death of her son. (Fox watchers missed her speech, however, because it broadcast a live interview with Donald Trump at the same time as her speech.) Smith claims that Clinton lied to her; family members of other losses at Benghazi do not agree with Smith. Steve Benen described the manipulation of a woman’s grief for political purposes as “the lowest point a party has reached in my lifetime.” Throughout the evening, the incessant cry of “lock her up” about Hillary made the delegates sound like crowds rioting during the French Revolution.

While the media’s obsession with Clinton and Benghazi, it largely ignored George W. Bush’s part in the Middle East conflicts, a disaster that has killed hundreds of times more people—both in the 9/11 attack and the ensuing wars—than the four tragic deaths at Benghazi. As Maureen Dodd reported in a recent column, “Bush’s Call to Invade Iraq Looking Even Worse,” Trump agrees with a report in Jean Edward Smith’s biography, Bush, “that W. ignored warnings before 9/11, and overreacted afterward.” He behaved like a teenager who didn’t pay attention while driving and then over corrected into the ditch—but millions of times worse.

Recent reports show that Bush’s actions, responsible for the current dangers from radical terrorists, ignored the results of the 9/11 congressional inquiry released in 2002. After 14 years, former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) forced the release of 28 pages from this report showing that the United States blamed the wrong country for the 3,000 deaths on 9/11. Despite heavy redactions, the pages reveal that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack on the United states were paid by Saudi Arabia and identifies serious communication failures between the CIA and the FBI that provided intelligence failure before the attacks.

In addition, the view of Saudi Arabia as an “ally” led to the FBI’s refusal to investigate the Saudi hijackers. Within the 28 pages is that statement that connections “suggest … incontrovertible evidence [exists] that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi government.” Another part of the newly-released findings is that “Saudi Government officials in the United States may have ties to Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist network.”

After the 9/11 attack, the FBI failed to interview key Saudi Arabian witnesses while relying on false second-hand information. Despite the FAA’s closure of the U.S. air space, they allowed key Saudi Arabians to almost immediately flee the United States because of their friendship with the Bush family. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were identified as Saudi citizens, but W. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.

Months before the attack on 9/11, however, W. and his administration had already begun planning to attack Iraq. He started immediately after his first inauguration when he also cut taxes by $1 trillion and created a deficit, beginning with $400 billion after the former president, Bill Clinton, had brought the country to a surplus. Dick Cheney said that “Saddam’s own son-in-law” told them that “Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.” Yet in 2003, reporters found that the son-in-law had said the opposite, that “all weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear—were destroyed.”

Despite claims to the contrary from Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice, the aluminum tubes were the wrong size for centrifuges but appropriate for conventional, non-WMD rockets and “innocuous.” There were no links at that time between Iraq and a Qaeda although Colin Powell said the opposite.  W. claimed an IAEA report said that Iraq was “six months away from developing a nuclear weapon.” No such report existed, and the IAEA reported that it had “found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.” And on and on with the lies.

Over one million Iraqi men, women, and children have been killed in the conflict, and another two million are refugees in other countries. Another 1.7 million are displaced within the country. One million U.S. veterans were injured in the war, and 4,491 died.

W. always claimed that releasing this information would “make it harder for us to win the war on terror.” What he really means is that the release of the information would be harder for him to start the war that developed the terror in today’s Middle East.

To accomplish his goal, he enlisted the support of Tony Blair, then British prime minister, “to start a war on dodgy intelligence with inadequate planning to control the killing fields of a post-Saddam landscape, a landscape that eventually spawned the Islamic state.” That’s the conclusion of the 2.6 million-word report from the British government’s Chilcot inquiry. They ignored the report of U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix who said that he found no weapons of mass destruction. Blair expressed concerns about the French, and W. answered:

“Yeah, but what did the French ever do for anyone? What wars did they win since the French Revolution?”

Key findings from the British inquiry into the Iraq War:

  • There was “no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein” in March 2003 and military action was “not a last resort.”
  • The UK “chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted.”
  • Tony Blair’s note to George W. Bush on July 28, 2002, saying UK would be with the US “whatever,” was the moment Britain was set on a path to war
  • Judgments about the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD “were presented with a certainty that was not justified.”
  • Tony Blair told attorney general Lord Goldsmith Iraq had committed breaches of UN Security Council resolution 1441 without giving evidence to back up his claim
  • Planning for post-war Iraq was “wholly inadequate.”
  • Iran, North Korea and Libya were considered greater threats in terms of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons proliferation.
  • The joint intelligence committee believed it would take Iraq five years, after the lifting of sanctions, to produce enough fissile material for a weapon.
  • There was no evidence that Iraq had tried to acquire fissile material and other components or – were it able to do so – that it had the technical capabilities to turn these materials into a usable weapon.
  • Saddam’s regime was “not judged likely” to share its weapons or knowhow with terrorist groups.

After the report came out, W. admitted “mistakes” in Iraq but said that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. The U.S. created Hussein, employing him starting in 1959 and sending him millions of dollars, intelligence and tactical advice after making him the dictator in the 1980s. W. simply destroyed any Iraqi institutions remaining with no plan on how to rebuild these. Thirteen years later, poverty and violence in Iraq are rampant, and many people are without reliable electricity, running water, and healthcare.

As always, conservatives blame everyone except themselves—in this case the Iraqis. James Kirchick wrote in the National Review:

“If supporters of the Iraq War can be blamed for anything, it is being guilty of, at worst, a naïveté whereby they expected too much from Iraqis—not, as the latter-day inquisitors of George W. Bush and Tony Blair would have it, of a malignant desire to rape and pillage. Iraq’s tragic predicament is the result not of Western imperialism but of the particular pathologies of a Muslim-Arab world whose depredations are now on full view across the region, from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen and beyond.”

The GOP push at this time is to complete wipe out terrorists in the Middle East. That means eliminating whatever infrastructure exists in these countries, putting in more dictators, and then leaving the countries worse off that they were before they did their regime-building. The result will be more hundreds of thousands of people dead and more hundreds of thousands of people left homeless and wandering a planet where they are unwanted.

This is the party that wants to put Hillary Clinton in prison after she was exonerated of involvement with the deaths of four people in Benghazi. The GOP must keep bombing countries—14 of them in the Islamic world since 1980—because politicians make money from contractors creating the war machines. In addition, the U.S. accounts for 79 percent of weapons sales to the Middle East, and the majority of all foreign weapons sales around the world.   That’s one way that GOP candidates get elected; they beat the war drums and then use funding from manufacturers of war weapons.

August 31, 2015

Vote on Iran Deal Nears

Conservative media, including Fox, is still distributing the falsehood started by the Associated Press that Iran could use its own inspectors in investigating a military site (which it called a nuclear site). Republicans initially tried to use this announcement to scuttle the Iranian deal, but two hours later AP deleted the information. The original report stated that Iranian scientists would inspect air and soil samples at Parchin and that the number of these samples would be limited to seven. Media ran a scary headline: “AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site.” The report that inspections in the past were carried out by Iranians with no one else allowed on the site came from a leaked draft agreement and is not included in the final one. The edited version eliminated the incendiary details and kept quotes from outraged GOP lawmakers .

According to arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis, the leak was to make the agreement sound bad and to hope that the information would make congressional lawmakers start making demands. The AP allowed itself to be duped.

In raising serious—and false—doubts about the Iran agreement, the AP joined Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who evidently leads GOP foreign policy. During the August recess, a Jewish lobbying group paid for members of Congress to visit Israel and hear Netanyahu’s arguments to opposed the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran, signed on July 14 by the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia. The 58 members of Congress who visited Netanyahu in August were told that they should visit him instead of their constituents if they want contributions from wealthy Jewish donors.

TV ads focused on making people believe that the Iran agreement to control the country’s nuclear weapons is evil should come to an end this fall. Congress has only 18 more days for the first vote to follow the prime minister of Israel rather than the President of the United States.

The process in Congress:

  • Return from recess on September 8, nine days from now.
  • Begin debate on a GOP-sponsored “resolution of disapproval” against the deal.
  • Gather at least 60 votes to move the resolution forward in the Senate.
  • Vote on the resolution by September 17 with a simple majority of 51 votes to pass.
  • Pass the resolution because the GOP has the 51 votes.

If (or when) both congressional chambers approve the resolution against the Iran agreement, the president has 12 days to veto the resolution. Congress has another 10 days to vote on an override. The president needs 34 votes to avoid an override; thus far, 31 senators have committed to supporting the agreement and voting against the override. The House would need at least 44 Democratic votes to override a veto. Passing a resolution of disapproval and overriding a veto would bar President Obama from waiving most of the U.S. sanctions on Iran, necessary to complete the agreement with Iran.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) received much publicity when he came out in opposition to the agreement. He thinks that the country would be better off with the nuclear aspects but objects to the role Iran may take as a trading partner. His goal in opposing the Iran deal is to keep Israel’s domination in the area for another half century. He claims that he doesn’t want a war with Iran, but GOP presidential candidates do. Scott Walker would bomb Iran on the first day of his presidency. Most of the other candidates weren’t as clear in their intentions except they would rescind the agreement. Donald Trump is the only Republican candidate who supports it.

Mike Huckabee, far down in the polls, visited Israel to get financial support although he cannot legally accept donations from foreign nationals. His earnings from selling survivalist gear to Doomsday believers on his radio show seems to be insufficient to run his campaign. Ignoring Israel’s liberal abortion policy and its universal healthcare, Huckabee opposed U.S. foreign policy that the West Bank is illegally occupied territory. He said it sounded like “someone is illegally taking land” (which it is) and refers to the Palestinian seat of government as Judea and Samaria.

Walker has promised Israeli officials an increase in military aid should the U.S. have the misfortune of Walker as president. To Walker—and Israel—the one-third of the U.S. foreign aid budget that Israel gets every year isn’t enough for its 0.001 percent of the world’s population.

Within the seven countries that signed the deal, only U.S. hawks are in opposition. Camille Grand, an expert on nuclear nonproliferation, said that no constituency in Europe is against the agreement. He said, “The hawks are satisfied [with the deal].” In the world, the only strong opposition comes from Iranian hardliners, U.S. Republicans, and some Israel officials. Like the GOP opposition to the new START nuclear treaty, U.S. officials are eager to derail an agreement to advance the nation’s interests because of their hatred for President Obama.

Worried that the Senate may not muster the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), leader in undermining U.S. foreign policy, has made a statement, asking the Congress and the president to “speak with one voice when it comes to dealing with the Iranians.” That would be Cotton’s voice after he persuaded 46 other senators to sign his letter to Iranian officials telling them not to trust U.S. officials. Cotton also wants to do away with the filibuster, ignoring the fact that the Republicans originally created the mandate for 60 votes to advance. The senators who express such amazement that Democrats might want to filibuster the Iran agreement ignore the GOP cause of almost total gridlock in that chamber during President Obama’s two terms. They also don’t recognize what might happen if they insisted on only up-and-down votes and then lost the simple majority in the senate.

Just looking at the names of people against the Iran agreement should be proof that the opposition is wrong. These are the same people who supported the Iraq War. George W. Bush learned nothing from that disaster and called the president “naive,” and David Frum, Bush’s speechwriter who coined “Axis of Evil” for Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, accused President Obama of anti-Semitic rhetoric. In the Senate, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), called war against Iraq the “only reasonable option” and “the right war for the right reasons.” Mastermind of the Iraq War, Dick Cheney, plans to give an address against the agreement on September 8 although he’s no longer in office. Reporter Eli Lake, who argued about Iraq’s non-existent WMD, accuses the president of practicing the “politics of fear” to achieve peace. Columnist Bill Kristol, board member of an Israeli committee, was the first to write in March 2003 that “we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators” in Iraq. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who turned against his own party to support the Iraq War, has become the new leader of United against Nuclear Iran after its former leader decided that the Iran agreement was a good deal. Not in office in 2002, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, testified at that time that Iraq had WMD. He is taking the same position with Iran.

Today’s problems with Iran come from Bush’s preemptive war on Iraq which expanded Iranian influence and a nuclear program exacerbated by the U.S. wars in the Middle East. Without the Iraq War, ISIS may never have existed. The agreement is a way to clean up the mess left by Bush and his hawks.

The Los Angeles Times has come out in support of the Iran agreement and has a very simple reason: “Although it certainly represents a gamble, the deal makes it highly unlikely that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon during the next 10 or 15 years. Without it, there is no such assurance…. It is far from a perfect deal … but at the end of the day, it must be supported because the alternatives are worse.”

With a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, Israel is a far more dangerous country than Iran because Netanyahu is willing to bomb anyone who gets in his way. The United States should take a good look at the far-right leadership in Israel and reconsider sending Israel one-third of our foreign aid budget to help wage war.

On the pro side of the agreement are dozens of former Israeli military officials, dozens of retired American generals and admirals, and a wide array of experts on nuclear non-proliferation. On the anti side is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is leading ignorant Republicans around by the nose. I’ll side with the experts.

June 15, 2015

Jeb for President? Part I

The big day has arrived! Everyone knew that former Florida governor Jeb Bush wouldn’t be dashing around the country and coordinating with his Super PAC—something he can’t do after he declares his candidacy—unless he was running for president. Millions of dollars later and on the verge, some people say over the edge, of breaking the law in his campaigning, he’s a bona fide candidate. Here’s what the United States would get with Bush III, as he explains his positions in an opportunistic, passive-aggressive way.

Former Florida Governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire April 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Former Florida Governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire April 17, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Bush’s Christian belief will guide his governing. That includes supporting the so-called “religious freedom” that merges church and state in laws and courts.

Unmarried women with children should be publicly shamed, according to Bush’s 1995 book, Profiles in Character. Six years later, he allowed a state law mandating that women be forced to publicize their names, physical descriptions, and sexual histories if they put up their children for adoption. The courts, who Bush hates, struck down the unconstitutional law, and it was repealed in 2003.  On the campaign trail, Bush said that he’s only “evolved” on the issue in thinking that “dads” should have a responsibility—nothing about withdrawing his earlier statement.

To make himself more presentable to the vast majority of voters in the United States, Bush does address income equality, which he calls the “opportunity gap.” But his defining statement is that any law that “subtracts from [economic] growth” should not even be discussed.

A speaker for the secretive Coal & Investment Leadership Forum a few weeks ago, Bush wooed the CEOs of six coal companies and their guests. The group has spent more than $17.4 million on campaigns and lobbying since the last presidential election. How much for Bush, no one knows for sure, because he concealed donor names by waiting a long time to declare his candidacy.

In New Hampshire, Bush said that the science is not clear on how much of climate change is “man-made” and “for people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant.” In Connecticut, he called on immediate action for climate change because “climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.” In foreign policy, the United States should encourage countries with higher carbon emissions rates to reduce them but added that fracking and new drilling technologies is decreasing U.S. carbon emissions. The word “arrogance” disappeared in his next trip to New Hampshire.

Bush got more media coverage than he wanted in early May when he changed his position four times after a question about whether he would have started the Iraq War if he knew then what is known now—that there are no WMDs. First, he said “I would have,” then he said that he misunderstood the question before following up with his not hearing the question correctly. Bush finished up the debate with himself by saying that he would not have gone into Iraq. A year after the war when no one found WMDs, the then-governor of Florida praised the war effort and later described it as a noble mission. By 2013, he was still supporting the war, saying that the public would change its mind about thinking that war was a mistake.

A 19-year-old political science student in Nevada engaged Bush after Bush blamed President Obama for the rise of ISIS. Ivy Ziedrich described the reason for ISIS and said, “Your brother created ISIS.” Bush accused Ziedrich of re-writing history, but that’s what he was doing. The United States pulled back in Iraq because of George W. Bush’s Status of Forces Agreement. ISIS is an outgrowth of Al Qaeda which expanded because of the Bush/Cheney administration’s chaotic U.S. invasion of Iraq. Jeb’s solution is deploying thousands of additional U.S. troops to Iraq in another war.

Bush demonstrated his need for war in the obligatory Europe tour for serious presidential candidates when he addressed Vladimir Putin’s refusal to back off in Ukraine. George W. Bush always liked “Poot Poot,” as he called Putin, because he looked into the Russian leader’s eyes and saw his soul. When asked about Dubya’s mistake, Jeb Bush said, “I think Putin has changed.” Only last year, the Fox network, Republican leaders, and evangelical Christians thought Putin was a better leader than Presidential Obama. Now Bush wants more “robust” training exercises in Ukraine.

After the disastrous week of flip-flopping on his brother’s Iraq War, Bush tried to explain that his new wrist watch would make the Affordable Care Act redundant. His position on ACA is replacement with a “consumer-driven” system, a popular term with no substance. His vision surrounding his new Apple Watch:

“On this device in five years will be applications that will allow me to manage my health care in ways that five years ago were not even possible. I’ll have the ability, someone will, you know, because of my blood sugar, there’ll be a wireless, there’ll be, someone will send me a signal. It’ll come here, I’ll get a double beep saying, ‘You just ate a butterscotch sundae’ or something like that. ‘You went way over the top. You’re a diabetic, you can’t do that,’ whatever.

“We’ll be able to guide our own health care decisions in a way that will make us healthy. And ultimately, we have to get to a health system, away from a disease system.”

Even if everyone in the United States could afford the expensive Apple Watch, the device will be reduced to saying “you need medical attention” if a person suffers from a broken leg or a genetic disorder. That medical attention will require health coverage to be affordable. Cancer needs chemotherapy, not a watch. Heart disease requires a cardiologist, not a watch.

Bush does know that his Apple Watch won’t help people with Alzheimers. He wants to cut domestic spending in almost all other areas but calls for increased funding to find a cure for Alzheimers and speed up the approval process for medications to treat the disorder. Tampa Bay Times’ Adam C. Smith noted that Florida state lawmakers in both parties “recall Bush vetoing their budget items targeting Alzheimer’s research and care while at the same time approving tax cuts often mainly for the benefit of specific businesses or wealthier Floridians.” Then Bush called the Alzheimer measures a “want,” not a “need.” His “evolution” may come from his mother-in-law’s Alzheimer’s disease.

Asked about his favorite author, Bush cited Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve which declares that Blacks have a lower intelligence level than Whites. Murray’s newest book, By The People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, calls for dismantling the United States regulatory and welfare programs because of the culture of laziness “in our inner cities in particular.”

Murray proposes a legal defense fund started by “just one wealthy American” to give wealthy people veto power over much of U.S. law. His recommendations would erase the minimum wage, overtime laws, most environmental protections and financial reforms, many worker safety laws, and anti-discrimination laws.

Bush was supposed to be the smart one, yet he’s having trouble demonstrating that characteristic. He can’t speak coherently about Iraq, thinks his Apple Watch is part of an anti-Obamacare vision, isn’t up to speed on immigration policy, and believes people who believe in climate science are “arrogant.”

Because Bush is so weak on foreign policy, he needs advisors—and they show poor choices. His top adviser on US-Israeli policy is George W. Bush. Of the 21 foreign policy advisors he listed, 17 served in the George W. Bush administration including the top policy architect of the Iraq War, Paul Wolfowitz.

Before Wolfowitz became the cheerleader for the Iraq War, he promoted the theory that Saddam Hussein, not Islamic extremists such as Al Qaeda, was responsible for the world’s anti-United States terrorism. The theory started over a decade before the U.S. declared war on Iraq and included blaming Saddam for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the attack on the USS Cole off the Yemen coast. Wolfowitz, top Pentagon official for Bush I, contributed to a book on the 1993 World Trade Center bombing called Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War against America. He was also a prime advocate for Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile leader, who pushed the false information on Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction onto U.S. leadership.

Wolfowitz disagreed with the testimony of General Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, that it would take “several hundred thousand soldiers” to occupy Iraq; discounted the possibility of sectarian violence in Iraq following the invasion; insisted that Iraq’s oil revenues would finance post-war reconstruction; and declared that he was “reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators.” All these claims were false. Now he’s advising another Bush about global conspiracies.

That’s the tip of the Jeb iceberg. Part II tomorrow.

June 9, 2015

June Pot-pourri

Best news of the week: The gun-friendly Supreme Court may understand that enough is enough. In refusing to hear the case Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco, the Supremes have let stand a lower-court ruling that gun owners are required to keep their guns “well-regulated” by locking them up. Still standing is a 2007 San Francisco regulation requiring all guns to be locked up, disabled, and/or controlled by a trigger lock when stored in a home. The two dissenting justices are Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. A gun in the home increases the likelihood of gun related deaths, including accidental deaths, and injuries and death to children. The lower-court ruling came from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which covers my beloved state of Oregon.

Speaking fees from the GOP president: While conservatives rant about the “Clinton Cash scandal” when Hillary Clinton donates her speaking fees to charity, they ignore George W. Bush, who has been given $100,000 to $175,000 for over 200 paid speeches, putting the money into his personal account as he continues to “replenish the ol’ coffers,” according to Bush. The “coffers” are up to about $15 million dollars. One of these speeches was at the 2014 International Bowl Expo where Bush explained that “bowling is fun.” He also raked in $100,000 at a fundraiser in McKinney (TX) for a homeless shelter.

mckinney2Speaking of McKinney: Witnesses have given another side to the pool fight story in McKinney (TX) about unruly black kids who didn’t belong at the pool party. The problems started when a white couple came up to the kids—who lived in the area—and used racial slurs (“black f*ckers”), insulted them (“go back to your Section 8 housing”), and slapped the teenage girl who hosted the party after she tried to defend a 14-year-old white girl who was also at the party. The couple then called police, claiming that black kids were fighting. Eric Casebolt, now resigned from the force, shouted at the young black girl kneeling on the ground, “Get on the ground.” He immediately grabbed her hair and pushed her face down into the grass before putting his knee on her back.  On a Daily Show segment, Jessica Williams pointed out that there has been progress because “a cop pulled a gun on a group of black kids and nobody is dead.” That segment is here. Casebolt, who also pulled his gun on unarmed teens in bathing suits, was “2008 Officer of the Year.”

President Obama’s invasion of Texas: Texas citizens have received over $11 million in FEMA funds after the most recent severe flooding. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who couldn’t support aid for Sandy victims because of the “pork” and “wasteful spending” in the Disaster Relief Act of 2013, demanded money for his own state. The “pork” in the 2013 bill was to “replenish FEMA’s disaster relief fund, which funds relief from future disasters.” Other “pork” came from bribes to red state Republicans—including Texas—to pass the bill over their filibuster. Texas and Oklahoma have had over one-fourth of FEMA’s declared disasters in the past six years, Texas at 75 and Oklahoma at 45. Former Gov. Rick “I hate the federal government” Perry said after fire devastated much of his state, “It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency.”

Two sides of Ted Cruz:

“This [Disaster Relief Act of 2013] bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington–an addiction to spending money we do not have.”—2013

“Democrats and Republicans in the congressional delegation will stand as one in support of the federal government meeting its statutory obligations to provide the relief to help the Texans who are hurting.”—2015

Cruz isn’t alone in his hypocrisy. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) voted against emergency aid to Hurricane Sandy victims when he was a U.S. representative, arguing that he didn’t “think Arkansas needs to bail out the Northeast.” The Northeast bailed out Arkansas last July when Cotton got FEMA funds for his state after severe flooding. Every Colorado Republican in the House voted against post-Sandy relief before they wanted emergency funding for Colorado in September 2013.

Shocker of the week: President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy was wrong, according to his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He told the British newspaper The Times, that the plans to replace Saddam Hussein’s regime with democracy were unworkable and that he had serious concerns from the first time he heard about the idea. [After the article was published, Rumsfeld denied that he had criticized Bush or that his statements contradicted his previous positions about the Iraq War.]

Loss of the judiciary in Kansas: After Gov. Sam Brownback destroyed Kansas’ economy, he signed a bill to obliterate the state’s judiciary if is rules against a law that he likes. He went into a snit after the state supreme court ruled that the inequality between school funding for rich and poor districts was unconstitutional. The justices ordered the disparity fixed, and the legislature stripped the supreme court of its authority to appoint local chief judges and set district court budgets. Brownback and the legislature have threatened the supreme court with recall elections, splitting the court into two sections, lowering the retirement age, and creating partisan elections. If the supreme court strikes down these laws, it  loses its funding.

The week’s oddity: A ruling is imminent on the lawsuit from Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, founder of AIG, who is suing the U.S. government because it saved his company from financial ruin. He claims that the government seized his assets illegally and wants to be paid the original value of the company. Before the bailout, he was forced out of the company because he used off-the-books schemes to fake profitability and paid a $15 million fine for the crime while AIG paid $1.6 billion in penalties. James Millstein, the Treasury official who oversaw AIG’s restructuring, said about AIG:

“The AIG which came begging to the Fed’s doorstep was the AIG that Hank Greenberg built. Its capital structure was opaque, it was heavily dependent on short-term funding, with a highly leveraged financial products subsidiary that had been organized to evade effective regulatory oversight. [Greenberg] ran the parent company like a hedge fund with a triple A rating.”

AIG had gone to other lenders before, in a last resort, it went to the federal government. It would receive $85 billion for an 80 percent stake in the company and the option of additional lending. The U.S. Treasury took AIG’s offer. Greenberg’s lawyer is David Boies, whose career includes getting George W. Bush appointed to president for his first term and saving marriage equality in California. Judge Thomas Wheeler is a George W. Bush appointee. A Greenberg win could undo the entire financial bailout, possibly forcing every bailed-out bank, no matter how successful, into receivership. Greenberg just wants $40 billion.

GOP problem with losing “Obamacare”: With the Supreme Court judgment on King v. Burwell, everyone is getting nervous, especially the GOP legislators who can’t figure out what to do if the Supremes do what the GOP wants. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) wrote:

“Six million people risk losing their health care subsidies, yet @POTUS continues to deny that Obamacare is bad for the American people.”

The lawsuit to do away with subsidies in states that use the federal exchanges is funded by a conservative organization, promoted by conservative think tanks and conservative law professors, and backed by many top Republicans including several of Thune’s GOP colleagues. The minority of lower court judges siding with the plaintiffs are all Republicans. Only Republican-appointed justices are expected to vote for the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court, and the majority of the justices are Republicans. The lead attorney for the plaintiffs boasted that he does not plan to “lose any Republican-appointed judges’ votes” when his argument was being considered by a lower court. The Republicans are most likely more nervous after a poll shows that 55 percent of the respondents don’t want the subsidies taken away by the Supreme Court.

“News” that people can’t trust: Journalism is expensive which is why newspapers publish information that corporations send them. CNN plans to sell air time to corporations for in-house programs that look and feel like news but actually present the corporate PR goals and narrative. The new CNN advertorial program will be called “Courageous.” Corporations will be willing to pay for programming on “Courageous” in order to trade on the perception—from some—about CNN‘s “trustworthiness” and unwillingness to “blur the lines.”

Owned by Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting, CNN already published 18 “original series” last year, 17 of them sponsored by a corporation. CNN’s in-house studio will produce “news-like content on behalf of advertisers” to reflect marketers’ growing desire for articles and videos that feel like editorial work. “Courageous” will highlight “news,” such as the building of a manufacturing plant or a philanthropic effort, according to Otto Bell, the lead of the studio and former creative director at OgilvyEntertainment. Dan Riess, executive vice president of integrated marketing and branded content at Turner, said, “This isn’t about confusing editorial with advertising. This is about telling advertisers’ stories.” Oh, sure.

[Note: Nobody pays me for writing this blog. It’s just my perception of the world!]

May 12, 2015

Jeb Ends Polarization for 24 Hours

Polarization has been one of the most serious problems in the country for several years and is only growing worse. One man, however, brought the country together in an interview with Megyn Kelly to be aired tonight on the Fox network. In a clip released last week, Kelly asked Jeb Bush about the U.S. attack on Iraq in 2003

“On the subject of Iraq, very controversial, knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?”

Jeb replied, “I would have.”

On her radio show, conservative host Laura Ingraham almost screamed:

“You can’t still think that going into Iraq, now, as a sane human being, was the right thing to do. If you do, there has to be something wrong with you.”

The conservative Washington Examiner’s Byron York described Jeb Bush’s answer as “disastrous.”

Jeb Bush’s position is at odds with the majority of people in the United States.

graphic how thinks war was worth it

As if to excuse his statement, Jeb not only said he would make the same mistake as his brother but also added “so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody.” He doesn’t know that Clinton would do now. She voted to support the war because her only information was the false “intelligence” that George W. Bush spread across the country and throughout Congress, but in her 2014 book Hard Choices, Clinton apologized for her that vote.

After Jeb’s answer went viral, Ana Navarro, a former Bush aide and guest on CNN, asked him, “Did you mishear the question?” Jeb answered, “Yes, I misheard the question.”

Fellow guest and Democratic strategist Paul Begala commented, “I didn’t know he had a hearing impairment, and we pray for his swift recovery.”

Jeb’s next dance around the question was telling radio host Sean Hannity that he misinterpreted it and didn’t know if he would have acted as his brother George W. Bush did. Jeb added, “Clearly there were mistakes made as they related to faulty intelligence.”

Even if Jeb gets a pass by saying that he “misheard” and that the intelligence was “faulty,” he skips the fact that his brother called the intelligence “wrong.” So was the process in obtaining it, according to Paul Pillar, the CIA official who oversaw Middle East intelligence at that time, who wrote the following in 2006:

“In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made… and that the intelligence community’s own work was politicized. As the national intelligence officer responsible for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, I witnessed all of these disturbing developments.”

Pillar concluded that “official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war.”

A report of the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that the George W. Bush administration “repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.” It documented numerous statements made by the Bush administration to justify the war that were not supported by intelligence. Mike McConnell, Director of National Intelligence under George W. Bush from 2007 to 2009, found the administration “set up a whole new interpretation because they didn’t like the answers” the intelligence community was giving them. Inside the Pentagon, Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith led the effort to “reinterpret information” provided to them by intelligence, and his group produced and promoted “false links between Iraq and al Qaeda.”

Ezra Klein wrote that Jeb’s evasion, claiming that he had answered a different question, is even worse than the original answer:

“Bush’s answer to the question he thought he was being asked—would you have invaded Iraq if you only knew what was known then—is more telling, and confirms the worst fears some had about his candidacy. What he said, in effect, was that the Iraq War was a good idea that was undermined by bad intelligence. He said, in other words, that he thinks the basic concept of the Iraq War was right even if the specific case turned out to be wrong.”

Any threat from Hussein, even with WMDs, was so horrible and immediate that the U.S. should carry out a full-scale invasion. Earlier Iraqi efforts of WMD were pointed at Iran, who the U.S. hates. War leaders claimed that the invasion would be cheap and fast: Mitch Daniels, budget director, estimated a cost of $50 billion to $60 billion. Lawrence Lindsey, top economic advisor, raised the guess to $100 billion to $200 billion and was fired. After 12 years, the war has cost several trillions of dollars.

When General Eric Shinseki said that the estimate of 100,000 troops for Bush’s war was far fewer than needed, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused him of being “far off the mark,” and Shinseki was left in the shadows. The most famous bragging point, however, was Vice President Dick Cheney’s quote from Meet the Press that “we will be greeted as liberators.” Everyone knows how that worked out.

Congress would have had a much different response to the Iraqi invasion if members had know both fiscal and human costs, the length of the debacle, the chaos that the U.S. actions would bring to the Middle East, and the destruction of the middle class in the United States.

In talking about the “faulty” intelligence surrounding the Iraq War, Jeb said that “mistakes were made,” a common statement by those who refuse to place responsibility on the perpetrators. He also has the same foreign policy thinking of his brother George W. An example is his co-founding the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in the 1990s. The neocon think tank called for the overthrow of any government leader that the U.S. doesn’t like, including Saddam Hussein. The massive regime change, “Pax Americana,” would put the U.S. in control of the world, its natural resources, and its economy.

Twelve years ago, Jonathan Freedland described PNAC as concentrating on “‘full spectrum dominance,’ meaning American invincibility in every field of warfare–land, sea, air and space–and a world in which no two nations’ relationship with each other will be more important than their relationship with the U.S.”

The names of other founding members such as Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Zalmay Khalilzad (George W. Bush’s “special envoy and ambassador-at-large for free Iraqis”) are familiar because they planned the Iraq war for Jeb’s brother. These are the same men who would play an instrumental part in the presidency if Jeb Bush is elected because he has selected them as advisors.

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Pope Francis said Monday that “many powerful people don’t want peace because they live off war.” Like several other presidential candidates, Jeb Bush is one of those powerful people.

The conservatives are circling the wagons to protect Jeb. Bad hearing, bad interpretation—actually bad answer. But 24 hours after the Fox promo with Jeb’s first answer aired, the dialog is back, and the polarization is building. Jeb is down in the polls but up in gathering money. By the time that he declares his candidacy, his war chest may be enough to wipe out the competition.

March 19, 2015

Netanyahu Denies Racism That Elected Him

How far will GOP presidential wannabes go to pander to the crazies? When the crazies started talking around John McCain during his run in 2008, he shut them down. Not Rick Santorum. At Frank Gaffney’s South Carolina National Security Action Summit last week, a woman unleashed her venom against President Obama:

“Why is the Congress rolling over and letting this Communist dictator destroy my country? Y’all know what he is and I know what he is. I want him out of the White House; he’s not a citizen; he could have been removed a long time ago…

“Ted [Cruz?] told me I’ve got to wait for the next election. I don’t think the country will be around for the next election. Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago! And the three admirals, and generals. He has totally destroyed our military. He’s fired all the generals and all the admirals that said they wouldn’t fire on the American people.”

Santorum sidestepped the vitriol by saying it wasn’t his fault because he wasn’t in Congress any more. He refused to question the woman’s rants, instead saying that he can “absolutely agree” about the “complete lack of leadership” from the White House. Referring to immigration policy, Santorum said “the word ‘tyrant’ ” comes to mind to describe President Obama.

Eugene Robinson made an excellent observation in expressing gratitude that the self-identified retired school teacher is no longer in the classroom. A question, however, is where this woman got the idea that “Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago.”

David Weigel has the answer.  An “exclusive story,” published in 2013 on the conspiracy news site InfoWars, quoted “a high level source inside the military” about the transfer of nuclear warheads to the East Coast. The story, which moved across Facebook at least 25,000 times, also quoted Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) worry that a military build-up would lead to nuclear weapons moving through the port of Charleston.

Later that year the European Union Times, a “news” site that mixes accuracy with rumors, moved the false story along by citing a “Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) report circulating in the Kremlin today” to report that a nuclear weapon had been detonated off of Charleston’s harbor. The story’s proof was an October 8, 2013 earthquake that happened hundreds of miles from the coast. The website claimed that it was a botched “false flag” attack, carried out in the middle of the government shutdown.

Reddit discussion spread another rumor that the “false flag” attack caused the dismissal of U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, U.S. Air Force Major General Michael Carey, Major General Charles M. Gurganus, and Major General Gregg A. Sturdevant.  Giardina was caught in a poker-rigging scheme, and Carey was removed from his job after a drunken bender in Moscow. Gurganus and Sturdevant were forced into retirement before October 2013 after an investigation into a Taliban attack in Afghanistan. None of what the woman said was true, but Santorum just accepted it.

At a Minnesota McCain town hall meeting almost seven years ago, a woman said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh—he’s an Arab. He’s not —. ”

McCain told his supporter:

“No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”

At another town hall meeting, McCain said, “We want to fight, and I will fight, but I will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments, and I will respect him.”

Santorum and the rest of the far-right presidential candidates remember what McCain did and how he lost the election. They also watched this week’s election in Israel when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won his election after playing his bigot cards: the day before the election, he promised that no Palestinian state would be established as long as he stayed in office. Although Netanyahu has done everything he can to bury a two-state solution since his took the formal position of supporting it six years ago, he has not come out with any declaration against it until he was in danger of losing the election.

To cement his election, Netanyahu ran an ad that “Arab voters are coming in droves to the ballot boxes.” He accused “left-wing NGOs [of bringing] them in buses.”  During his campaign, Netanyahu accused foreign governments of undermining his leadership with non-governmental organizations (NGO).

Thomas Friedman wrote about the Middle East:

“It is hard to know what is more depressing: that Netanyahu went for the gutter in the last few days in order to salvage his campaign—renouncing his own commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians and race-baiting Israeli Jews to get out and vote because, he said, too many Israeli Arabs were going to the polls — or the fact that this seemed to work.

“The fact is a good half of Israel identifies with the paranoid, everyone-is-against-us, and religious-nationalist tropes Netanyahu deployed in this campaign. That, along with the fact that some 350,000 settlers are now living in the West Bank, makes it hard to see how a viable two-state solution is possible anymore no matter who would have won.”

J Street vice-president for communications, Alan Elsner, said that the pro-Israel, pro-peace organization fears the newly-elected prime minister will have to deal with the consequences of his claims. Elsner said that “suggesting that Arab citizens who have the right to vote are somehow a threat to Israel because they exercise their democratic right is outrageous” and Netanyahu tried “to scare his own supporters to go to the polls … in a disgusting, racist way.” He added, “If he walks back from it, he’s really going to enrage his right-wing supporters, and if he doesn’t walk back from it, he’s going to enrage the international community. Either way, neither constituency is going to believe him because he’s shot his credibility.”

Today Netanyahu “shot his credibility.” In his first interview since the election, he said:

“I don’t want a one-state solution. I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change.”

He denied that he had changed his position from Monday’s comments when he explicitly eliminated the possibility of a Palestinian state. “I haven’t changed my policy,” he said. “What has changed is the reality.”

Netanyahu’s latest statement came after the White House suggested that the U.S. could stop protecting Israel with the UN and other international organizations if the country failed to commit to a two-state solution. The U.S. might even recognize a Palestinian state. White House spokesman Josh Earnest warned that the foundation for its policy for supporting Israel had been “eroded,” indicating that the U.S. would “need to re-evaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward.” Earlier Earnest had again denounced Netanyahu’s “cynical, divisive election-day tactics” and condemned the prime minister’s incendiary remarks about the Israeli Arab voters.

Friedman had predicted—correctly—that “Netanyahu could reverse himself tomorrow” and quoted Yediot Ahronot columnist Nahum Barnea who described the prime minister’s promises as something “written on ice on a very hot day.” As Friedman wrote, however:

“The fact is a good half of Israel identifies with the paranoid, everyone-is-against-us, and religious-nationalist tropes Netanyahu deployed in this campaign. That, along with the fact that some 350,000 settlers are now living in the West Bank, makes it hard to see how a viable two-state solution is possible anymore no matter who would have won.”

Friedman also addressed the problem of Iran, writing that additional sanctions on Iran, as critics of President Obama want, are useless because the Middle East only reacts to regime changes. The U.S. tried—and failed—with this tactic in Afghanistan and Iraq. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big U.S. land army into the Middle East “should have his head examined.”

The question is why the United States is fighting, for the third time in less than 15 years, a war on behalf of Iran. The U.S. destroyed Iran’s main Sunni foe in Afghanistan (2002) and Iran’s main Sunni foe in the Arab World (2003), leaving a vacuum in Iraq and the Sunni Arab world. Now Iran’s proxies dominate Beirut, Damascus, Sanaa and Baghdad. As terrible as ISIS is, the Sunni Arab response to the U.S. defeat of Sunni Arabism is “the last Sunni bulwark to a total Iranian takeover of Iraq,” according to Friedman. By fighting ISIS, the U.S. is again hoping that the Shiite militias will rule better, an idea that has failed for over a decade.

Today marks two grim anniversaries: the 12th anniversary of U.S. preemptive war on Iraq and the 5th anniversary of the NATO intervention in Libya. Both overthrew Arab dictators; both left the local people in such horrific straits that many of them look back with nostalgia to the days of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi.

Now war against Iran is backed by 47 percent of the U.S. Senate and the new Israeli prime minister who appears to lead the U.S. House.

[Note: To the people who claim that anti-Netanyahu is anti-Israel, ask them if being anti-President Obama is anti-American.]

June 22, 2014

Religious War in Iraq, U.S.

Former Dick Cheney, the noisiest of the current chicken-hawks urging the U.S. to resume an Iraqi war, said in 2003:

  • People are wrong to think that we need several hundred thousand troops after military operations cease.
  • “[The United States] will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”
  • “Our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.”
  • The Kurds, the Sunnis, the Shiites will come together in a democracy, Cheney told Tim Russert on Meet the Press, because “they have so far.”

“They understand the importance of preserving and building on an Iraqi national identity….  The prospects of being able to achieve this kind of success, if you will, from a political standpoint, are probably better than they would be for virtually any other country and under similar circumstances in that part of the world.”

No, none of this happened. Bush/Cheney pushed the well-trained Sunni military out of leadership and put the Shiites into control through the leadership of  Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, leaving the country torn apart.  Bush/Cheney destroyed the country’s infrastructure and replaced its government with another corrupt, brutal government.  Bush/Cheney put the Al-Qaeda in power because the Sunnis were not part of the government. Bush/Cheney went in with no plan and then signed an agreement to get out of Iraq before leaving office.

The $25 billion that the U.S. put into training and equipment for the Iraqi military paid for abuse of Iraqi civilians, primarily Sunnis, through unlawful raids and arrests, torture, and indiscriminate shelling.  The best summary of what happened in Iraq comes comedian Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.

Despite his brutality, Saddam Hussein had kept an uneasy peace among the three separate identities in the country for almost 30 years. When Bush/Cheney removed him as leader, the rift became violent. Injured Sunnis were left for dead in a Shia hospital, and Sunni families who came to get the injured Sunnis were also in danger of being killed. Sen. John McCain said in April 2003 that the Shias and Sunnis had no history of discord. The U.S. totally failed to understand that this rift has existed for 1300 years, that Iraq was only labeled as a “country” in 1920 because Britain wanted its oil.

For a short time in 2008, Gen. David Petraeus demanded that the Sunnis be included in decisions, but this was soon dropped. A Sunni organization in Syria called ISIS made themselves popular with food and healthcare drives in the villages. ISIS built a fortune of over $2 billion after it took over some of the Iraqi banks this year, becoming the richest terrorist group in the world.

ISIS isn’t alone in its attacks on the Iraqi army. Although many Sunnis are disturbed by the ISIS violence, the group’s collaboration with local militias, including Ba’athist and Islamist sects, has made it easier for them to overtake a number of cities. Most of the media reports only on ISIS, but people in Iraq report that it is just one faction in a popular rebellion against Maliki’s corrupt government. For them, there is no other option.

Eleven years after the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq, most people have figured out that the U.S. isn’t going to plant “seeds of democracy” in a religiously war-torn nation. President Obama has announced that the U.S. would not intervene in Iraq until the Iraqi government makes concessions to the Sunnis. Yet he has already chosen sides with the Shiites by promising 300 “military advisers,” who will receive combat pay, to help the government fight against the Sunnis. The U.S. has already also increased its “intelligence and surveillance assistance” and continues to supply arms to the Shiite government, assisting the “genocide” against the Sunni population.

Religious and ultra conservative leaders in the U.S. are opposing any involvement in Iraq: Pat Robertson bashed the Bush/Cheney war on The 700 Club by agreeing that Hussein kept “those warring factions in check.” He added, “It’s unfixable. Those simmering animosities have been there for centuries.

Glenn Beck admitted he was wrong and the liberals were right for opposing the invasion:

“You were right. Liberals, you were right, we shouldn’t have…. Not one more life. Not one more life. Not one more dollar, not one more airplane, not one more bullet, not one more Marine, not one more arm or leg or eye. Not one more. This must end now.”

Fox network’s Shepard Smith criticized the people who were wrong in the first place and now want the U.S. to go back into Iraq. Megyn Kelly scolded Cheney for his op-ed criticizing President Obama for his Iraqi policy by telling Cheney how wrong he was:

“Now with almost a trillion dollars spent there with 4,500 American lives lost there, what do you say to those who say you were so wrong about so much at the expense of so many?”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) talked to David Gregory on NBC’s Meet the Press today about the Bush/Cheney mistakes.

Much as I would like to think that these people have suddenly become sane, the intent may be to show up the war-mongering establishment GOP by siding with the over 80 percent of people in the United States who think that the U.S. needs to stay out of Iraq.

Historian Crane Brinton describes three phases of revolutionary change countries typically follow:

  • People revolt and the old order is overthrown.
  • Revolutionaries, the people who overthrew the old order, become oppressors themselves and use violence to stay in power.
  • People revolt against the revolutionaries to restore the peace and tranquility they used to have during the old regime.

When order is restored, the best parts of revolution are preserved. Iraq’s old order was overthrown in 2003. The country is still in the second, violent, phase. The Iraqis have to revolt against this violence to escape a cycle of radicalism and terror. The U. S. needs to stay out of the process.

To support the current Iraqi regime is to support Iran. When the Iraqi soldiers defected, Iran sent the Revolutionary Guard to help Maliki, increasing Iraq’s independence on Iran. Anything the U.S. sends to Iraq may easily go on to Iran.

Even some of the Shiites want the U.S. out of Iraq. In a sermon Friday, Nassir al-Saedi, loyalist to Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, said that their group will attack the U.S., “the occupier,” if it comes back. Tens of thousands of al-Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi army, paraded through the Baghdad streets yesterday.

The U.S. needs to concentrate on the domestic terrorists in our country. The Ku Klux Klan is organizing a military-style combat training for its members to participate in a racial civil war. At this time, existing and new KKK members now overseas and leaving the military will be leading these trainings. One of the women in the KKK said, “The Klan is a Christian organization, so they get to read the bible and they enjoy going to rallies and they get to play with kids their own kind.”

The Klan is starting to develop its followers in the same way that ISIS did—by helping people. Part of their agenda is to volunteer for neighborhood watch programs. KKK members dropped flyers in Chesterfield County (VA) that stated, “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake.” The klan may appear to be small at this time, but it will be joined by angry violent groups with almost unlimited supplies of guns because of lax laws in the U.S.

Conservatives will do anything they can to keep the KKK in business. After U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced  that the DOJ is bringing back its committee on Domestic Terrorism, the extremist right wing came out in force. According to their beliefs, white supremacists using violence and terrorizing communities for their political agenda are exercising their free speech rights. They are “patriots.”

Extremists claim that Holder’s committee is a war on white men while bombing abortion clinics and killing doctors is just showing that you disagree with them. Cliven Bundy was merely exercising his rights not to pay his debts; the government was the terrorist, according to the radical right. In 2009, DHS issued a report that identified white supremacists as the greatest threat to national security, and the far right went ballistic.

Membership in the KKK has tripled since President Obama was elected the first time. Members claim that it’s a “non-violent, Christian organization.” The past six years has seen a constant diet of vicious, racist diatribes not seen since Herbert Hoover’s Southern Strategy to attract Southern racists to the GOP. Republican candidates use openly racial language in an attempt to win votes.

Parallels between Muslim fundamentalists and U.S. Christian right:

  • Motivated by extreme religious beliefs
  • Tend to have antiquated ideas about the role of women
  • See themselves as “soldiers of God”
  • Harbor strong homophobia
  •  Vigorously defend their way of life by using violence if necessary

About a half century ago, a Catholic president promised to follow the constitution and keep his religious beliefs separate from his political views. Since Ronald Reagan was elected president, far-right religious candidates have become more and more fanatical about incorporating the Bible into political decisions until the radical Christian fundamentalists have started to force everyone in the country to follow their beliefs.  Like the Shiites, these legislators are the religious fanatics who protect the domestic terrorists.

We need to turn back to a democracy instead of a theocracy like Iraq. Our government—including Congress—needs to start protecting “our homeland” from “our” domestic terrorists before the Christian fundamentalists take over U.S. cities by force.

April 25, 2013

‘Mission Accomplished’–Bush Has Library

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:55 PM
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One of my GOP friends, who is very socially progressive, keeps asking me when I’m going to stop blaming George W. Bush for the problems that we have now. I tell her that I’ll stop when the messes he caused get cleaned up. Today is the 10th anniversary of “Mission Accomplished,” when Bush made his misguided statement and the victorious banner was bravely unfurled over eight years before troops were withdrawn.

Today is also the day that Bush was joined by the current president and the other three living ex-presidents to dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The word “library” for this $250 million edifice is a misnomer: it is more of a museum and a Bush policy institute.

News clips, interactive screens, artifacts—even “hanging chads” from Florida’s punch cards—comprise the exhibits. The museum invites visitors to make the presidential decisions. A display makes the case for the Iraq war although the word “Iraq” was not mentioned at any time during today’s speeches. The “Mission Accomplished” banner isn’t in the library either. (Check this out for what else is missing–and a history of real presidential libraries. Clue: Busts of presidential pets Barney and Miss Beazley are there,)

bush_library2-620x412

As Bush stays invisible, his popularity grows. The GOP didn’t even invite him to their convention last summer. In time, memories fade. Here are some of Bush’s actions that we should remember:

  • Stole the presidency in 2000 when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor by stopping a recount of Florida votes that would actually have provided Al Gore with the necessary electoral votes.
  • Most likely stole the 2004 election as well, gaining vital electoral votes from Ohio despite unresolved questions about whether the former GOP Secretary of State altered the Election Night totals from rural Bible Belt counties.
  • Claimed he was a “uniter, not a divider” while campaigning for office before he launched his extremist right-wing agenda.
  • Hid his past as a party boy and a deserter during the Vietnam War when he went AWOL for over a year from the so-called “Champagne Division,” the Texas Air National Guard.
  • Signed more execution orders—152 people, including the mentally ill and domestic abuse victims—than any other governor in U.S. history while sparing only one life, that of a serial killer.
  • Raised more campaign money from corporate boardrooms than anyone at that time, paid for by CEOs who “educated” him about political wish lists.
  • Assaulted reproductive rights by cutting funds for U.N. family planning programs, barring military bases from offering abortions, putting right-wing evangelicals in regulatory positions where they rejected new birth control drugs, and issuing regulations making fetuses—but not women—eligible for federal healthcare.
  • Cut Pell Grant loans for poor students, affecting 1.5 million low-income students, and eliminated other federal job training programs that targeted young people.
  • Allowed corporations to destroy the environment through over 300 actions beginning with abandoning a campaign pledge to tax carbon emissions and then withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases as well as putting industry lobbyists in charge of agencies to keeping energy policies secret.
  • Allowed schools to reduce evolution to the same standing as the religious belief in “intelligent design.”
  • Destroyed learning in school through his “No Child Left Behind” initiative that made preparation for standardized tests and resulting test scores the top priority in schools.
  • Appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who promote extremists pro-business and social conservative interests.
  • Gutted the DOJ’s voting rights section, including firing seven U.S. attorneys who did not pursue overtly political cases because of lack of evidence.
  • Caused average household incomes to fall 4.2 percent, the only recent two-term president to preside over such a drop.
  • Caused millions of people to fall below the poverty line, increasing that number by 26.1 percent.
  • Caused poverty among children to explode by 21 percent.
  • Increased the number of people who lacked access to health care by 8 million while people steadily lost employer-provided benefits.
  • Let black New Orleans drown during Hurricane Katrina and did almost nothing to help thousands in the storm’s aftermath and rebuilding.
  • Pandered to religious right, for example by flying back to the White House to sign a bill to try to stop  the comatose Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube from being removed, using the term “sanctity of life” that wasn’t present months later during Katrina.
  • Set record for fewest press conferences.
  • Took the most vacation time—1,020 days in two four-year terms equaling more than one out of every three days.
  • Gutted global political progress by pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol which set requirements for 38 nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.
  • Embraced global isolationism by withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
  • Ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden from White House briefings while proceeding with his determination to invade Iraq, even before 9/11.
  • Ramped up war on drugs instead of terrorists.
  • Kept reading the picture book The Pet Goat to school children for seven minutes after he knew that the World Trade Centers were attacked in 9/11.
  • Turned to Iraq instead of Afghanistan, despite Iraq’s lack of Al Qaeda link.
  • Attacked the credibility of United Nation weapons inspectors who were correct about no nuclear weapons in Iraq.
  • Lied about Iraq’s weapons that did not exist.
  • Launched a preemptive war, ignoring the U.N.’s refusal to authorize an attack on Iraq, caused hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and forced more than a million refugees in an attack that killed almost 6,700 soldiers.
  • Abandoned the international Criminal Court by withdrawing from the ratification of the International Criminal Court Treaty, necessary to protect American troops from persecution.
  • Forced Colin Powell to present false evidence at the U.N.
  • Declared a war on CIA whistleblowers, leaking the name and destroying the career of Valerie Plame in retribution for her husband’s denial about a nuclear threat from Iraq.
  • Pardoned Scooter Libby, the man who actually leaked Plame’s name to the press.
  • Looted Baghdad except for the oil ministry.
  • Made the U.S. more dangerous by increasing Islamic radicalism and worsening the terror threat.
  • Allowing companies to give U.S. troops unsafe gear–from inadequate vests as protection against snipers to Humvees that could not protect soldiers from roadside bombs—resulting in an epidemic of brain injuries.
  • Continued war propaganda that used soldiers as PR props.
  • Failed to attend any soldiers’ funerals, even those in Arlington National Cemetery, about two miles from the White House.
  • Promoted the surge of war profiteering surged as corporate employers of top Bush officials made billions in Pentagon contracts starting with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, which made $39.5 billion, and his daughter, Liz Cheney, who ran a $300 million Middle East partnership program.
  • Ignored an international ban on torture and created a secret system of detention.
  • Opened the Gitmo, the offshore military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, filled with men turned over to the U.S. military by bounty hunters.
  • Evaded domestic and military justice systems through renditions to secret detention sites in eastern Europe.
  • Violated U.S. Constitution by ignoring basic civil liberties, most notably his massive domestic spying program that used big telecom companies to monitor online activities of millions of Americans without search warrants or court authority.
  • Built a federal debt crisis of $4 trillion to $6 trillion through his preemptive war.
  • Cut veterans’ healthcare funding by several billion dollars, military housing by another $1 billion, and opposed extending healthcare to National Guard families when the members were deployed overseas.
  • Cut income taxes in a manner that sent approximately one-fourth of the cuts to the top 1 percent of incomes with only 8.9 percent going to the middle 20 percent of earners.
  • Turned the power-hungry, arrogant operators Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld loose on the people of the United States.
  • Escaped accountability for any of his actions.
  • And more about torture, Wall Street, lack of worker protections, etc.

How dumb is George W. Bush? Jonathan Chait has an assessment.

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