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.

April 7, 2015

Which Rand Paul Is Running for President?

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 7:14 PM
Tags: , ,

With Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) the first out of the gate to run for GOP president, the field has expanded to two with another senator, Rand Paul from Kentucky. Sounding like a weak imitation of Cruz, Paul began his launch with the statement, “We have come to take our country back!” Exactly how, no one knows because he has a history of flip-flopping, mostly about his libertarian beliefs. Since he appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show during his senatorial candidacy, he changed his opposition to the Civil Rights Act that requires businesses to accept everyone except LGBT people. Within two years, he declared that he had never said such a thing!

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Maryland

According to their platform, libertarians are socially liberal but fiscally conservative. Elizabeth Parker writes that Rand Paul wants a government so small that “it will fit in a woman’s uterus.” When he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, he fit better into this category. Lust for the presidency has turned him “fuzzy” about his beliefs in order to satisfy every camp in the Republican party.

Abortion: Paul is so opposed to pro-choice rights that he sponsored The Life at Conception Act, promoting personhood so radical that it states “human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore is entitled to legal protection from that point forward.” He talked about his bill at length in a fundraising video for the National Pro-Life Alliance and received a perfect rating from the National Right to Life Counsel. Planned Parenthood gave him a zero.

Marriage Equality: Paul finds same-sex marriage to be “offensive” and warned the GOP against shifting its position on this issue. He warned that any deviation from “traditional” marriage might lead to people marrying animals. Even anti-gay activist Tony Perkins (Family Research Council) found Paul’s joke about President Obama’s decision to support marriage to be out of bounds when Paul said, “Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any gayer.” RNC Chair Reince Priebus refused to defend Paul and said, “I don’t know what he meant by that.” When Paul wants marriage equality left to the states, he thinks it’s the best way to eliminate same-sex marriage out of most states. Paul received a 100 percent rating from the Family Research Council.

Defense Spending: Paul wants a huge increase in military spending—16 percent–after supporting cuts earlier in his federal career. Time called Paul’s switch a “stunning reversal.”

Military Force: Paul told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February that his priority would be “a national defense unparalleled, undefeated and unencumbered by nation-building.” He was one of the 47 GOP senators sending an open letter to Iran’s leaders, telling them that any nuclear deal would not be binding past the end of the Obama presidency if it were not agreed to by Congress. He described Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as “an isolationist who wants to retreat to our borders and perhaps build a moat. I reject this isolationism,” Paul tweeted.

Drones: Paul wants drones used everywhere except for “a targeted killing ordered against a U.S. citizen on American soil” without a warrant. Targeted killings overseas and drones used as border security are fine with him.

Foreign Aid: Although proposing an end to all foreign aid, including to Israel, Paul now claims that he never tried to end any aid to Israel.

Voting Rights: Rand told the conservative Newsmax that he opposes the Voting Rights Act to replace voting rights after the Supreme Court gutted the 50-year-old law. That was before he told the Urban League that he supports the Voting Rights Act. After telling a group of black pastors that the GOP should stop their restrictive voter ID laws, he told Sean Hannity that the voter ID laws are fine with him but regrets their negative attention. 

Marijuana: Rand thinks that marijuana should not be legalized because smoking marijuana is “a bad thing to do” but advocates reduced penalties for drug use and possession. The libertarian magazine, Reason, didn’t approve: “He wants to keep everything illegal, but institute gentler penalties. That’s not remotely libertarian.”

Free Speech: Paul suggested that people should be put into prison for listening to “radical political speeches.” He told Sean Hannity that he opposed some racial profiling but supported the profiling, deportation, and even imprisonment of people if the government determined they were listening to “radical political speeches.”

NSA: Paul claimed he opposes the domestic surveillance apparatus and the PATRIOT Act but voted against a NSA reform act because he claimed that the bill didn’t go far enough. Again, libertarians criticized Paul’s lack of their support.

Inequality Protecting the Wealthy: Rand’s flat tax plan would give a huge tax break to the rich, and conservatives agree that it would raise taxes on the poor. His tax reform plan also cuts more taxes for the rich by repealing the estate tax and the capital gains tax.

Federal Reserve: Paul’s new bill to audit the auditors of the Federal Reserve would create another secret layer of government. Paul’s audit would be issued in secret to some congressional members with no open documentation. It also doesn’t designate what would be audited, leaving the opportunity to scrutinize the auditors’ personal lives, and orders the comptroller to break international treaties by striking a provision of code which is required to keep the Federal Reserve in compliance for discussions with members of Congress and foreign ambassadors. The bill would replace the section authorizing current audits of Federal Reserve Credit Facilities, meaning that no audits would be available for public review and allowing Congress to directly manipulate the monetary markets. Congress can authorize loans to various private interest groups without a full accounting in the public domain.  At this time, an independent, outside firm audits the Federal Reserve.

“Religious Liberty”: Although he stayed silent in the recent Indiana law about allowing discrimination, he told a group of pastors at a private breakfast that “the First Amendment says keep government out of religion. It doesn’t say keep religion out of government.”  Of course, he’s wrong because the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits government’s favoring one religion over another or giving preferential treatment to either religion or non-religion. The pastors, however, were happy.

Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of the libertarian magazine Reason, said about Paul:

“To the extent he sounds more like every conservative Republican, he sounds less interesting to libertarians. I don’t see what he picks up by being a version of Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.”

Rand Paul comes to the candidacy with a lot of negative baggage. When CNBC host Kelly Evans challenged Paul’s claim that vaccines can cause mental disorders in children, Paul’s friend and former professional associate Alex Jones attacked Evans:

“You realize you’re signing on to a system of murder, you little piece of trash, tramp, filth, scum woman. You arrogant piece of garbage! I’m sick of all you people up there lecturing us. She’s the type of woman that wants Super Bowl ads to say, ‘Sorry you had a boy.’ All a bunch of pinhead cult members.”

Paul wasn’t much better in his interview with Evans. When she asked him for specifics about a bill granting companies a “holiday corporate tax rate” to bring assets back to the United States, he said, “Hey, hey, Kelly? Calm down a bit here, Kelly.” Then he shushed her.

paul shushFor this past Valentine’s Day, Paul, or someone in his office, set of a fake Hillary Clinton Pinterest that attempted to show she was only interested in how the White House was furnished with suggestions of how to make the Oval Office more “chic.” Another image showed Clinton surrounded by hearts and saying, “I’m Benghazing at you.” The month before, he tweeted a satirical “secret phone call” between former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, lampooning the relationships between their two clans. In December he ridiculed Rick Santorum’s sweater vests.

These are just his recent peccadilloes.  In the past, he led the 2013 government shutdown that cost the U.S. $24 billion. He opposes giving unwed women any aid in getting birth control but wants to cut off their benefits if they have more children. He opposes self-government by voting against measures passed by Washington, D.C. regarding guns, abortion, and unions. He said, “We don’t have [authority] over the states but we do for DC.”

Caught plagiarizing his speeches and books, Paul accused critics of being “haters.” He couldn’t even stream his campaign announcement because he failed to get copyright permission for the music, John Rich’s “Shuttin’ Detroit Down”: YouTube blocked the video of Paul’s speech.

As a libertarian, Rand Paul is a fraud as he castigates the establishment GOP as he becomes a part of it. As a president, he would be a disaster.

November 4, 2013

GOP Wants White Men–Like Christie, Paul?

White men—that’s what 95 percent of conservative Republicans want in Congress. Only 5 percent said that they wanted more minorities sent to rule the country. Only 26 percent of conservatives—and 23 percent of Republicans—even want more women in the House and Senate, according to the same ABC/Fusion poll.

christieGov. Chris Christie, New Jersey candidate in tomorrow’s election for a second term, wins my angry white man of the week. Mrs. Christie smiled blandly while Christie shouted, “You people! Just do your job!” His fury came public school teacher Melissa Tomlinson’s question on Saturday: “Why do you portray New Jersey Public Schools as ‘failure factories?'” Christie is a shoe-in for tomorrow’s gubernatorial election, but his presidential aspirations may suffer from his bullying behavior.

Yesterday Katty Kay pointed out on Meet the Press that Christie “has a problem in particular with women voters. I think what is seen as bullying, overbearing, perhaps a little bit thin-skinned, and he goes on the attack a lot.  I know that it hasn’t affected him in New Jersey, but I have a feeling that when he gets out into the general audience there is a character issue there that may put some women voters off.” Men, especially white ones, may not have any issue with his behavior as shown by Bill Kristol’s response to Kay: “He’s awfully impressive.  I like him.”

There were a few things not to like about Christie when Mitt Romney vetted–and rejected–him as a possible VP candidate last year. Mark Halperin and John Heileman cited a few of the problems in their new book, Double Down: Game Change. As an AG, his overspent travel monies without “adequate justification,” including stays at places like the Four seasons, followed his work as a lobbyist for the Securities Industry Association while Bernie Madoff was a senior official for them. A Congressional hearing resulted from Christie’s help for his donors and political allies, such as former AG John Ashcroft, in receiving large government contracts. A defamation lawsuit against Christie came from his 1994 ousting of an incumbent. His brother also settled for SEC civil charges by acknowledging making “hundreds of trades in which customers had been systematically overcharged.”

Other, more recent issues, show problems in electing Christie as president:

  • He cancelled the ARC tunnel, largely funded by federal aid, that would have provided tend of thousands of jobs.
  • He unilaterally gave the clean-up contract after Superstorm Sandy to a politically-connected Republican firm which charged more than twice as much for debris removal as other reputable firms.
  • He turned down federal aid to hire people in helping people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, causing more loss of jobs.
  • He killed another 1,800 New Jersey jobs by unilaterally pulling the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative after a supposedly secret meeting with the Koch brothers.
  • He unnecessarily spent millions of dollars to have the special election for a U.S. senator just days before the general election.
  • He picked an inexperienced hedge fund manager and waived the salary cap when he appointed a superintendent for Camden’s schools.

Another issue is the slowness of disbursing charitable donations for Superstorm Sandy. One year after the disaster, 42 percent of the $575 million has still not been given to needy people. The Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund, with Mary Pat Christie as Board Chair, has been suspect in this area.

Maybe one reason that Gov. Christie has yelled at teachers is his contribution to stripping the state retirement for all New Jersey state and local employees. His first budget in 2009 skipped a $3 billion payment, and the state pension funds continue to pay out more in benefits than it takes in with contributions. The state saved some money by barring part-time public workers from the pension system. At this rate, the pension fund will run out of money in five years, making New Jersey the first state in the nation to do so.

Rand PaulAnother angry white man is Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) after it was discovered that he has plagiarized chunks of his speeches and writing. Rachel Maddow introduced the issue when she gave a couple of examples from Wikipedia. Her discoveries were followed by Politico reporting that he directly copied a 2011 report from the Associated Press for his 2013 speech responding to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. He also used a 2010 passage from Citizenlink for his story about Ronald Holassie at Howard University. 

Another case was copying pieces of an article for his op-ed piece in the Washington Times and then using the same pieces in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. BuzzFeed reported that a passage of 1,300 words (more than the length of this blog) in his new book, Government Bullies, came directly from the Heritage Foundation. The book cites the source but doesn’t explain that it’s a direct quote.  

Paul attributed the copying to “sloppiness” and the reporting to “hackers and haters.” There might be graceful ways out of this problem, but Paul hasn’t taken them. Instead of admitting any wrongdoing, he said, “I think the spoken word shouldn’t be held to the same sort of standard that you have if you’re giving a scientific paper. I’ve written scientific papers, I know how to footnote things, but we’ve never footnoted speeches, and if that’s the standard I’m going to be held to, yes, we will change and we will footnote things.” That was before news sources started tracking a number of his plagiarized entries in written material.

The story went viral after he said—possibly in humor?—that if dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, it’d be a duel challenge.” Kentucky takes dueling very seriously; it’s the only state in the Union that requires state officials to swear that they have not fought in, challenged for, or assisted at a duel “so help me God.” On yesterday’s ABC’s This Week, Paul asserted, “I take it as an insult, and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting.”

Although Paul didn’t specifically name the potential dueling partner, the person was identified as female. On Fusion, an ABC/Univision cable channel, he said, “You know, the person who is leading this attack, she’s been spreading hate on me for about three years now, and I don’t intend for it to go away, but I also don’t see her as an objective news source.” We’ll make a wild guess that it’s Rachel Maddow. Someone should tell him that it’s not presidential material to declare a vendetta with a journalist.

For just a senator, his plagiarism and resulting hostility might not be a problem, but Paul has designs on the presidency. At least, he’s advertisers are making money off him; this advertisement for software programs to identify plagiarized material was posted at the top of an article about Paul.

grammar checker

[To avoid plagiarizing, I wish to state that the source for Rand’s photo is here.]

So Christie the bully yells at people, primarily women, and Paul threatens one with a duel. The GOP still doesn’t understand that this isn’t the way to win an election, no matter how much Republicans wish that women weren’t in Congress.

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