Nel's New Day

March 5, 2017

Trump: ‘Deflector in Chief’

“The time for trivial fights is past.” – Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) during his first address to Congress last Tuesday evening.

donald-trumpDDT’s semi-presidential appearance didn’t last long. Left without his keepers at Mar-a-Lago this weekend, DDT worked to deflect all his bad press resulting from this week’s scandals about Russia about that country’s participation in the presidential election with angry, libelous tweets. Between his rants about firing Arnold Schwarzenegger were accusations about President Obama tapping his phones at the Trump Tower. The adolescent sending the tweets couldn’t even spell “tapp” correctly: he gave the word an extra p. The excuse his handlers gave DDT was a vague statement in fake Breitbart news about Barack Obama’s “police state” tactics. With no evidence, could be sued for libel, disseminating damaging false information.

Rep. Ted Lieu’s (D-CA) summary of DDT’s problems:

“Either @realDonaldTrump is paranoid like Nixon, or judge found probable cause of crime for #wiretap. Either way our President is in trouble.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said:

“It’s beneath the dignity of the presidency. It is something that really hurts people’s view of government.”

Growing concern has developed because DDT will be hosting Angela Merkel next week after accusing her of “ruining Germany.” Schumer echoed Lieu’s conclusion about the allegations either being false or providing probable cause to search for broken laws.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described DDT as “deflector in chief.” She said about DDT’s accusations:

“It’s called a wrap-up smear. You make up something. Then you have the press write about it. And then you say, everybody is writing about this charge. It’s a tool of an authoritarian.”

Two issues about Russia that DDT wants to conceal are the way that his new AG, Jeff Sessions, committed perjury in saying that he had no communication with the Russians and the question of whether a special prosecutor should be assigned to address DDT’s campaign involvement with Russia instead of letting the partisan Congress investigate the matter.

Concerns about Russian involvement in the campaign has been released in dribbles and drabs for almost a year as DDT continued to express his unadulterated admiration for Vladimir Putin as a leader. The most recent activity before DDT’s tweet was when Sessions tried to jump out of the frying pan by finally recusing himself from any investigations into the FBI and hoping to save himself from resignation. He’s in a risky situation because Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) wants Sessions to go back to the Senate to explain his statements made earlier under oath.

sessions-putinSessions’ problems began when he answered a question that no one asked him. Franken asked Sessions what he would do as AG if the connections between DDT and Russia were true. Sessions didn’t answer that question, but he said that he had “been called a surrogate” in the campaign and that “I did not have communications with the Russians.” By now the media has made clear that his answer was not true (aka a lie) because he met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice while the White House was working on sanctions against Russia. When these meetings were publicly revealed, Sessions said he couldn’t remember if he talked politics with the ambassador. Russia is now in control of Sessions’ future because the ambassador can blackmail him. Saturday Night Live opened with a spoof about Sessions, played by Kate McKinnon.

Franken sent a letter to Sessions telling him that his not mentioning Russian involvement in the election “strains credulity.” The letter asked why Sessions had failed to mention the communication and what all his and his staff members’ communications with “Russian officials and their associates during the presidential campaign of 2016” are. As Franken wrote:

“If it is determined that you lied to the [Judiciary] Committee and the American people under oath during your confirmation hearing, it is incumbent upon you to resign from your position as attorney general.”

DDT’s response to Sessions’ recusal was a “ballistic” rant in which he used “a lot of expletives” and “nobody has seen him that upset.” That may be the reason that Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus didn’t go to Florida with DDT—thus the tweets. And DDT’s demand for a special prosecutor into the non-existent wiretaps. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who has consistently maintained that there’s no need for an investigation into Russia’s involvement in DDT’s campaign, said that the Intelligence Committee “will make inquiries” as per DDT’s demand. On the other hand, FBI Director James Comey asked the Justice Department to publicly reject DDT’s claims about the former president’s wiretaps of Trump Tower.

Democrats—including seven of the nine on the Senate Judicial Committee—are calling for a special prosecutor into Russian interference while Republicans continue to squirm about its possibility. Doing so would allow a nonpartisan person instead of an acting deputy attorney general to leads an investigation. DDT’s nominee for that position, Rod Rosenstein, could be asked about a commitment to naming a special prosecutor before his final vote. The historical precedent for an appointment is during the Watergate scandal in 1973 when the Judiciary Committee demanded that Nixon’s nominee name the prosecutor before the vote as well as asking questions about the prosecutor’s level of independence. Other special prosecutors occurred for investigation into Bill Clinton’s Whitewater affair and George W. Bush’s Valerie Plame affair.

Almost two decades ago, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions defined the standard for assigning a special prosecutor. The issue was whether Gore lied during an investigation into the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign’s fundraising. Sessions said that an independent investigator should be appointed any time that an AG is asked to investigate the president because of the president’s power over the AG. Now Sessions may face criminal charges for perjury and leads the same agency, the Department of Justice, that would ordinarily investigate alleged violations of federal law. For all the time before he finally recused himself, he was in the same power that the AG faced in the case where he set up the standard.

In its continued support for DDT, the FBI may be concealing information from Congressional committees attempting to investigate communication between DDT’s people and the Russian officials. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said that the intelligence community has not been forthcoming, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, ‘‘We know less than a fraction of what the FBI knows.” Asked about transcripts that the FBI refused to share with Democrats, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tried to “deflect” the issue by refusing to discuss them, indicating that they do exist. The issue of transcripts is interesting because U.S. citizens, including Michael Flynn, can be taped without FISA warrants. Transcripts of Flynn–or anyone else–would  indicate evidence of wrongdoing.

After DDT’s accusations about President Obama’s wiretapping one of his homes, he moved on to tweets stating that the former president had Russian ties and that Democrats didn’t want to help the FBI investigate the Russian cyberattacks.

DDT’s “relationship” with Russia seems to be cooling in the light of continued criticism from people in the U.S.—something that DDT cannot handle. One indication is that his pick for top Russia adviser is Fiona Hill whose book Mr. Putin, Operative in the Kremlin alludes to Vladimir Putin’s history as a KGB operative. There are also rumors that Putin didn’t want DDT to win; he just wanted to create chaos in the United States. On MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, New Yorker editor David Remnick said:

“Everybody expected Hillary Clinton to win. You expected her to win. The polls expected her to win. So they succeeded, in some sense, beyond their wildest dreams, and now they’re freaked,” Remnick added ominously. “If you talk to people in Moscow now, there’s a lot of buyer’s remorse. There was an order sent down to Russian television, ‘enough with the celebrating about Trump!’”

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that the Kremlin is waiting for “some kind of actions” to understand what the future holds because “we have heard different statements from President Trump.” Even Russia understands that DDT’s volatility is untrustworthy.

The weekend is almost over, and DDT will get his keepers back when he returns to the White House. His handlers there may temper his tweets.

Should we be obsessed with the Russia story? Of course! This is bigger than Watergate, and it sets the direction for the United States for decades to come. An additional issue surrounding the White House is that eight Russian operatives connected to DDT have already been found dead. We need to overcome the “deflector in chief.”

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December 24, 2016

Happy Hanukkah!

Today, the United States is being taken over by an insecure, anger-ridden megalomaniac who rose to power through lies and election assistance from a foreign country. He’s already using his position for personal financial gain and nominating federal officials who will help him create further poverty and deprivation for 99.99 percent of the people in the nation. His opposition to any press that he doesn’t control violates the First Amendment, and his plan to stop any protests against him violates the constitutional right of assembly. Democracy as people in the United States is in great danger.

Today is also the first of an eight-day Jewish celebration for the defeat of an insecure narcissist ruler, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, known for his excessively extravagant display of riches and cruelty over two millennia ago. Initially appearing congenial toward his subjects, he felt contempt for them and sold political positions to benefit only the wealthiest in the country. His quick anger earned him the nickname of “madman.” After he forced the Jewish people in his kingdom, which included Judea, to follow the country’s primary religion and culture, Judah Maccabee and his followers revolted. Through their skill and knowledge, they took back their freedom from Antiochus and showed that a minority can fight back against a repressive regime through intelligence and the ability to work together. The exact date of this Jewish festival of lights changes each year because it is tied to the lunar Hebrew calendar.

Last week, Michele and Barack Obama hosted their last Hanukkah party at the White House. His observations about the event demonstrate the articulate graciousness of the current President of the United States at a time when non-Christians are targeted by hatred and bigotry. I will miss President Obama and his leadership in the coming years.

“Today in the White House, as you will soon do in your homes, we recall Hanukkah’s many lessons: How a small group can make a big difference. That’s the story of the Maccabees’ unlikely military victory, and of great moral movements around the globe and across time. How a little bit can go a long way, like the small measure of oil that outlasted every expectation. It reminds us that even when our resources seem limited, our faith can help us make the most of what little we have. The small State of Israel and the relatively small Jewish population of this country have punched far above their weight in their contributions to the world. So the Festival of Lights is also a reminder of how Isaiah saw the Jewish people, as a light unto the nations.

“This is the season that we appreciate the many miracles, large and small, that have graced our lives throughout generations, and to recognize that the most meaningful among them is our freedom. The first chapter of the Hanukkah story was written 22 centuries ago, when rulers banned religious rituals and persecuted Jews who dared to observe their faith. Which is why today we are asked not only to light the menorah, but to proudly display it—to publicize the mitzvah. And that’s why we’ve invited all these reporters who are here.

“Everybody in America can understand the spirit of this tradition. Proudly practicing our religion, whatever it might be—and defending the rights of others to do the same—that’s our common creed. That’s what families from coast to coast confirm when they place their menorah in the window—not to share the candles’ glow with just your family, but also with your community and with your neighbors.

“The story of Hanukkah, the story of the Jewish people, the story of perseverance—these are one and the same. Elie Wiesel taught us that lesson probably better than just about anybody. In one of his memories of the Holocaust, Elie watched a fellow prisoner trade his daily ration of bread for some simple materials with which to piece together a makeshift menorah. And he wrote that he couldn’t believe the sacrifices this man was making to observe the holidays. A stunned Elie asked him, “Hanukkah in Auschwitz?” And the man replied, “Especially in Auschwitz. The world lost my friend, Elie Wiesel, this year. We lost a keeper of our collective conscience….

“Through centuries of exile and persecution, and even the genocide of families like the Wiesels endured, the Hanukkah candles have been kindled. Each wick an answer to the wicked. Each light a signal to the world that yours is an inextinguishable faith.

“Jewish leaders from the Maccabees to the Wiesels, to the college students who proudly sing Hebrew songs on campus, reaffirm our belief that light still drives out darkness, and freedom still needs fighters.

“As many of you know, the name ‘Hanukkah’ comes from the Hebrew word for ‘dedication.’ So we want to thank you again for your dedication to our country, to the historic progress that we’ve made, to the defense of religious freedom in the United States and around the world.”

A video of President Obama giving these comments is here.

Fomented by Steve Bannon’s Breitbart.com, much has been said in the conservative media about the president’s “stabbing Israel in the back” by abstaining from the UN resolution to keep further encroachment into Palestine’s West Bank by Israel. Hillel Schenker wrote this in the Times of Israel:

“Thank you President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. And thank you New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia for moving forward with the resolution.  And thank you Egypt for drafting the resolution. The passing of yesterday’s UN Security Resolution on the settlements is the best Hanukkah gift you could have given to the people of Israel, and it provides a glimmer of light on the horizon amidst the current darkness.  It reaffirms the international commitment to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based upon a two-state solution, the only realistic solution to the conflict that can provide security and peace to both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples.”

Schenker explains that, as the resolution states, “the status quo is not sustainable.” He also agrees with U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power who said that continued settlement building “undermines” Israel’s own security. Schenker pointed out an appreciation from many Israelis who understand that “it was done in the spirit of Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948”:

“THE STATE OF ISRAEL … will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

The Declaration also requires that Israel “extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples” and “do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.” It added that Israel will “cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947.”

The resolution passed with a 14-0 vote after the U.S. abstained. It states that Israel’s settlements on Palestinian territory since 1967 are not legal and calls for a stop to “all Israeli settlement activities.” At this time, almost a half million from Israeli have claimed ownership of Palestine land and another 200,000 live in east Jerusalem, the area that Palestinians view as their capital.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to stop the vote with an appeal to Donald Trump (DT), who will not be U.S. president until January 20, 2017. DT also contacted Egypt, asking them to delay the vote indefinitely although he has no legal right to control the current president’s foreign policy. Egypt did so, but four other countries sponsored it.

With strongly pro-settlement David Friedman as his pick for the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, DT is following his plan to move the nation’s embassy to Jerusalem, an act which should instead be determined by peace talks. At this time, DT doesn’t understand—or refuses to accept—that the United States has only one president at a time as he continues his thrust to support far-right Israelis in their journey toward creating strength that diminishes the power of oil-producing companies in the Middle East. In this way, DT can both win back evangelical Christian support and join Israel to take over oil fields.

As people have said about the next four years, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride.” Meanwhile we can appreciate President Obama’s last four weeks in supporting the people of the United States. Happy Hanukkah!

December 17, 2016

President Right about Media, Clinton

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The way that Russian hacking may have controlled the 2016 presidential election was a major subject of President Obama’s last press conference this year.

“Unless the American people genuinely think that the professionals in the CIA, the FBI, our entire intelligence infrastructure—many of whom, by the way, served in previous administrations and who are Republicans—are less trustworthy than the Russians, then people should pay attention to what our intelligence agencies say.”

He also talked about the danger of the belief “that it’s okay to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents, or discriminate against people”—issues that may become popular in the next few years. He added his worry about “certain folks in the Republican Party and Republican voters suddenly finding a [Russian] government and individuals who stand contrary to everything that we stand for as being okay, because ‘that’s how much we dislike Democrats.’”

Part of his comments, however, dealt with how the mainstream media in the U.S. acts like a Russian propaganda machine through obsessively searching for anything negative about Hillary Clinton—including such ridiculous pieces as a risotto recipe from her former campaign manager John Podesta.

The media largely ignored the president’s comments directed toward them or took umbrage. Slate chose to misrepresent what he said as referring only to “fake news,” and Atlantic only provided a few of his quotes with no comments. The Washington Post, a conservative publication that supported Trump until it thought he could win the primaries, declaimed “First Amendment rights” for accenting Podesta’s risotto recipe over DT’s involvement in Russian hacking. A pundit on MSNBC said that the president should have pushed the media harder if it wanted them to publicize the corruption and fraud of DT’s campaign and foreign involvement.

A review of the political media for the past 18 months more than supports President Obama’s comments about the media:

Clinton’s Emails: While the media obsessed with the non-existent scandal of Hillary Clinton’s private server, they glossed over the extensive list of DT’s alleged sexual assault victims and his other misogyny. At the same time, mainstream TV “news” equated the two; for example, ABC’s Matthew Dowd tweeted, “Either you care both about Trump being sexual predator & Clinton emails, or u care about neither. But don’t talk about one without the other.” Pushback to his tweet brought the response that people who thought sexual assault was worse than Clinton’s legal actions were “partisan.” Clinton was asked twice about her email server in debates, and DT was asked only once about his sexual abuse.

Violence from DT Supporters: Pundits, including those from the supposedly “liberal” New York Times,  incessantly claimed that “both sides” fueled an acrimonious campaign. DT promised to legally defend anyone who punched a protester in the face, told another than he would “beat the crap” out of him, and called on anti-DT people to be “roughed up.” He constantly lambasted journalists to the extent that at least one of them had to be protected by guards as she left a rally. Clinton never said one inciting word. There was no proof that Clinton backers caused the violence from Trump supporters, the media accused the campaign of causing these problems.

“Race Relations” instead of White Supremacy: The false rhetoric used in the media implied a conflict between two equal parties instead of attacks from white supremacists wielding their power over minorities. In the debates, Lester Holt insisted on the need to “heal the divide” between races, and Elaine Quijano asked, “Do we ask too much of police officers in this country?”  No one discussed the problem of minority subjugation.

Equaling Anti-Racism and Racism: This campaign saw the rise of opposition to “political correctness,” and columnists such as David Brooks promoted the position that fighting oppressors is as bad as oppressing, similar to considering hostages in a bank robbery as equal bad as the bank robbers if they try to overpower their captors:

“But it’s not only racists who reduce people to a single identity. These days it’s the anti-racists, too. To raise money and mobilize people, advocates play up ethnic categories to an extreme degree.”

MSNBC has been accused of being so liberal that it’s the opposite of the Fox network, but Joe Scarborough, host of The Morning Joe Show, was a propaganda shill for DT, going to far as meeting with him at the Trump Tower to help him plan campaign strategy.

As soon as Clinton announced her run for president in 2015, mainstream media gloried in putting out massive negative coverage, according to a study by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on media coverage.

“Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump’s positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end.”

The study found a ratio of 45 negative stories to one positive story on emails, most of them generated by the GOP and Fox network before being repeated on mainstream media. Eighty-four percent of Clinton’s coverage in this period was negative before the primaries with 90 percent negative during the negatives. The belief in Clinton’s unworthiness came from the media.

The media obsessed over the false accusation that Clinton was putting the United States at risk because of a private email server while it expressed no concern about DT considering Gen. David Petraeus for Secretary of State. Eighteen months ago he was convicted of passing classified information to his girlfriend while he was director of the CIA. The media, including the supposedly progressive Public Broadcasting System, has also totally ignored the fact that both Bob Gates and Condoleezza Rice—strong supporters for the Russia-connected Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson—are on the payroll of Exxon, Tillerson’s employer.

In addition to admitting sexual assault, DT has broken the law in countless other ways including using illegal immigrants and mob help to build the Trump Tower, not paying sales taxes, committing federal income tax fraud, spending money from his personal non-profit charity foundation for personal expenses and bribery, failing to pay his workers, conning students at Trump University, paying off prosecutors with political donations, and now using his position as president-elect to blackmail other countries into better business deals. And he also destroyed his own emails to avoid problems in court. Clinton broke no laws, but the media has spent 18 months avoiding DT’s illegal activities while making Clinton’s legal activities seem the reverse.

Mainstream media incessantly called out Clinton for her speaker’s fees from Wall Street but said nothing about how a network marketing company judged to be a pyramid scheme paid DT $1.35 million for three speeches last year. Taxpayers paid $127 million for a golf course on top of a Bronx garbage dump that is named after DT. He keeps almost all the money for its first 20 years while taxpayers pay for the utility bills.

The media touts DT as a good businessman, but he passes along all his losses to other people as he consistently fails at his projects. Most of the structures with “Trump” in the name are owned by others; they pay DT for the name. Then there are the 250 buyers who lost money, sometimes their life savings, for a project in Baja, licensed to a third-party developer. He could have gotten them some money back, but he lied about not having insurance after it failed. The media let him get away with all his bad business deals just as they printed his lies about shutting down offshoring manufacturing and failed to report on his massive offshore retail deals.

Media support for DT comes from corporate greed. The CBS CEO openly admitted that he wanted the money he got from ratings. A DT presidency will lower taxes on network CEOs and senior executives as well as cut regulations that make media accountable for the public interest. NBC in particular will benefit from the “reality show” coming out of the White House because DT is the executive producer. DT’s “reality show” of rallies, tweets, and other announcements dominated during the campaign.

Clinton got attention only when she was attacking DT, and the media complained about her having no policies while they ignored the ones that she presented. The sole goal of making more money in network television came from the end of the Fairness Doctrine, any enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and independent television after the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

There’s a good reason that the official word of 2016 from the Oxford English Dictionary is “post-truth.” The media. The people who claim that they aren’t the “truth squad” know that they can get away with anything by denying that they’re doing anything wrong. Business as usual: the mainstream media cozies up to DT and normalizes the oligarchy that he wants to bring into the White House. And then says, “It’s not my problem!”

February 8, 2015

President Obama Calls for Humility, Gets Slammed

The National Prayer Breakfast, organized by the far-right congressional religious group called the Fellowship Foundation usually passes by with little notice from mainstream media. When prominent evangelical members from “The Family” supporting this annual event connected with people who pushed the Ugandan “kill the gays” bill to criminalize homosexuality, mainstream media said almost nothing. This year, however, legislators and media figures across the country are atwitter after President Obama tried to explain that violence in the name of religion is a global problem across all religions.

Syria’s war, Nigeria’s killings, Europe’s resurgence of anti-Semitism, India’s violence were some of the issues that he brought up. Where Christians in the United States objected, however, was his comparison of the Muslims’ attacks to “terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” including the Crusades. He explained, “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

Jonah Goldberg’s attack on the president in the National Review was inelegantly entitled “Horse Pucky from Obama.” According to Goldberg, the Crusades were justified because of Muslim aggression: it was a “defensive war.” In reality, the Roman Catholic Church paid people from Europe to try to take over Jerusalem—900 years before the United States paid people to take over the Middle East for its own selfish gain. To Goldberg, the Inquisition was a way to stop lynchings. He missed the point that anyone who didn’t declare themselves part of mainstream Christianity, usually after extreme torture, were killed—frequently burned.

In the past, the U.S. has used Christianity as an excuse for colonizing, slavery, discrimination, and cultural destruction. African slaves in the United States were murdered, lynched, burned, and beheaded, and the practice went on for a large part of a century after their emancipation. In the present, the name of Christ is still being used to torment, torture, and kill people in the United States and around the world.

A bizarre part of the argument is that only the Crusades have been referenced, perhaps because the current Christian bigotry in the U.S. is too uncomfortable to discuss. On Meet the Press, conservative Jon Meacham stated that the Crusades was an exception to the rule, as if Christians have not used religion to persecute others outside the eleventh century. Sometimes liberal, but less so as time passes, Andrea Mitchell said that the prayer breakfast was not a place to bring up the issue. To her, “the word Crusade” is “too fraught.” Because “you have to deal with issues that are in front of you,” mentioning anything else is too “nuanced.”

Even more bizarre, however, was David Brooks’ defense of Obama on the same program.

“I am pro Obama. I am totally pro Obama on this. I think he said the right thing. It was a gospel of humility. What sorts of people need a little gospel of humility? People in Washington, pundits, religious believers, — I happen to be all three of those things — and so we are told to walk humbly in the path, that the Lord’s paths are mysterious. And so he was saying we are prone to zealotry. As Jon said we are fallen. So to underline that, that’s useful in Washington today. That’s useful always.”

Earlier this week, the Fox network used the president’s religious speech to attack him by claiming that President Obama is attacking Christianity. According to Eric Bolling, only Muslims kill people in the name of religion:

“Reports say radical Muslim jihadists killed thousands of people in the past few months alone. And yet when you take Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, whatever, their combined killings in the name of religion––well, that would be zero.”

If al-Quaeda had sent death threats to a Christian doctor and then killed him, far-right Christians would be outraged. Yet Dr. George Tiller was killed in his church by anti-abortionist terrorist Scott Roeder on May 31, 2009 after decades of threats and an earlier shooting. Far-right Christians cheered at their victory.

Middle East historian Juan Cole determined that Muslims had killed about 2 million people in the 20th century. His 2013 study revealed that during the same time Christians killed almost 100 million people in the name of Christ. Adolf Hitler’s killings were done in the name of Christianity as were the colonial wars in Southeast Asia and Africa. Although some claim that this violence was not Christian-based, combatants used their religion as part of the military campaigns just as today’s Islamist militants organize around groups sharing a common religious and cultural background.

The 1990 sectarian warfare in the Balkans culminated in genocide against Muslim Bosnians by Serbian Orthodox Christians. Balkans researcher Keith Doubt explained in a 2007 paper that the “role of the Church as protector of the Serbian nation gave the Church increasing social control, and with this power clergy fermented a xenophobic and bigoted attitude towards Muslims in former-Yugoslavia.” The Church dispatched Orthodox chaplains to bless “Serbian forces, such as the elite Panthers commando unit, which has been accused of committing numerous atrocities, before they set off on operations.” The Church would offer “Serb warriors communion without requiring confession,” giving them absolution for the crimes they were committing to create a “Greater Serbia.”

During Rwanda’s genocide, “Churches became sites of slaughter, carried out even at the altar.” Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka wore a gun and colluded with a Hutu militia who massacred hundreds of people seeking shelter in his church. After the genocide, Catholic clergy helped church ministers who were guilty of murder flee the country and re-settle elsewhere.

A Christian militia in the Central African Republic beheaded a young Muslim man, the same thing that ISIL is doing to groups determined to be the enemy. Christian-led Mexican cartels had beheaded and killed journalists in other ways. The cartel organizations have deep financial links to Mexican churches.

After the Fox network had its worst ratings last year in 13 years, it changed a policy of not airing violent propaganda videos from terrorists. It is the only U.S. news organization to air the entire video of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaebeth who was burned in his cage. Fox anchor Bret Baier claimed that the reason was to show “the reality of Islamic terrorism.” Even Fox’s national security reporter, Catherine Herridge, admitted that the video is a recruiting tool for ISIL. Malcolm Nance, an expert on counter-terrorism and radical extremism, said, “[Fox News] are literally – literally – working for al-Qaida and ISIS’ media arm.” Before President Obama was elected, Fox frequently criticized other media outlets for airing “terrorist propaganda” because it would threaten national security and U.S. troops. They were right then; they’re wrong now. Nance said, “The whole value of terror is using the media to spread terror.”

Less than 100 years ago, the Ku Klux Klan lynched and burned a young black man, 18-year-old Jesse Washington. Afterward the body was torn into parts that were sold for souvenirs. A photograph shows white farmers, shopkeepers, and laborers from local churches in and near Waco (TX) standing behind the body. The crowd may have been as large as 15,000. A witness who sent home the photo on a postcard wrote, “This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe.” Between 1882 and 1968 were 4,743 recorded lynchings in the U.S., one-fourth of them white people who sympathized with blacks. No one knows how many recorded lynchings happened.

Kid-Setting-Barack-Obama-on-Fire-84399-e1423171421131Some of the people enraged by the president’s statement that religious people can use their beliefs in a “twisted” manner may be the same people who pass along this photo of the President of the United States. Or this lynching on the lawn of Terry Jones’ church. He is the Florida pastor who burned the Quran.

obama lynch

In his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama decried ISIL’s actions and celebrated U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae’s release from North Korea. He talked about faith as a force for good, giving as an example Kent Brantly, the doctor who lived after contracting Ebola in Liberia and donated plasma to fight the virus. He praised former NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip as an example of people who speak freely about the role of faith in their lives. Referring to his personal faith,  President Obama said he has sought God’s guidance “not just in my own life but in the life of our nation.” The mainstream media, however, is only concerned about his talking about the Crusades. Maybe it was because he concentrated on humility.

September 11, 2014

Demand Exit Strategy for War

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 8:36 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

With the drums of Iraqi war beating more loudly and steadily, President Obama made a brief address last night to announce his plans. It was a mild speech that largely dealt in generalities:

  • Increase airstrikes to “roll back” ISIL in Iraq and into Syria, if necessary.
  • Strengthen troops by sending off another 475 military members to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as ask Congress to authorize a million to equip and train Syrian opposition. (We won’t call them “boots on the ground.”)
  • Prevent terror by stopping attacks on the homeland through cutting off ISIL’s funding and improving U.S. intelligence.
  • Protect civilians such as Iraqi Christians.

ISIL knew that video of the beheadings of two U.S. citizens would draw the U.S. public into war. The militants also know that conservatives in this country will oppose anything the president plans. ISIL has won the war of fear with the help of irresponsible statements from such conservatives as Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Cory Garner (Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s opponent in Colorado), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). The heretofore Libertarian/isolationist said, “If I were president, I would call a joint session of Congress. I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily.”

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) assessed congressional support—or lack thereof:

“It’s an election year. A lot of Democrats don’t know how it would play in their party, and Republicans don’t want to change anything. We like the path we’re on now. We can denounce it if it goes bad, and praise it if it goes well and ask what took him so long.”

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), chair of the Armed Services Committee, said that the House didn’t have time to take a vote on any proposed military action in the Middle East. (Yawn.) would probably not take a vote on military action because they didn’t have the time. Tommy Christopher explained:

“Congress, especially Republicans in Congress, has responsibilities it doesn’t want, especially when it comes to military action. The less they have to do with making actual decisions, the more they can play Goldilocks on Sunday shows and complain that the president’s actions are too weak, or too strong, or too pitchy, dawg, or whatever.”

GOP members of Congress are currently suing the president for tweaking the Affordable Care Act as the GOP wanted, but they’re telling the president to make all the decisions about ISIL because any position on war is dangerous to their re-election.

Legislators such as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-NC) calling for more airstrikes and more aggression in the Middle East ignore the most important factor of war—an exit strategy. In the early 21st century, George W. Bush, led by Dick Cheney and other advisers, charged into Iraq with no idea how to get out. Now conservative media, led by Fox network, are playing a 2007 video of Bush II warning that the withdrawal of troops from Iraq would mean “surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaeda. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we’d allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.” Bush finished by saying that U.S. troops would have to go back later against an even more dangerous enemy.

The U.S. left Iraq on a timetable that Bush established. The October 2008 Status of Forces Agreement, ratified by Iraqi lawmakers, stated, “All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.” People probably forgot about SOFA because a man threw a shoe at Bush during the press conference when he and Mouri al-Maliki announced their agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by New Year’s Day 2012. Bush ducked the problem in the same way that he ducked the shoe.

Conservative war-mongers could have left Saddam Hussein’s regime intact and let him suppress the Islamic extremists. Instead they chose to remove Hussein which spends an indefinite length of time there (Arizona’s GOP Sen. John McCain suggested 100 years), lives (almost 5,000 from the U.S. and a possible 600,000 from Iraq), and dollars (between $2 trillion and $6 trillion). Cheney knew it would be a disaster almost a decade earlier, but he did it anyway. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair (1997-2007) was told “before invading Iraq that a stable post-war government would be impossible without keeping large numbers of troops there for ‘many years.’”

Cheney, mistakenly identified by The New York Times as a former president instead of vice-president, met earlier this week behind closed doors with GOP members of Congress this week and called for more defense spending. He’s sure to want more money for his business, Halliburton, like the funds he got  from the no-bid contracts he awarded his company during the earlier Iraq war. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said they appreciated Cheney’s advice “because most of us think we did the right thing in Iraq.”

As for sending all those arms to the people who we like—right now—in the Middle East, just read about ISIL’s resources. Their M-16 assault rifles bear U.S. government markings, and their anti-tank rockets are identical to the 1980s-era M79 rockets used by the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) to bring down planes flying at 16,000 feet. Other quantities of weapons, including warplanes, come from Syrian military installations. ISIL got more military gear and U.S. equipment, including U.S.-made amored Humvees, that Iraqi army soldiers abandoned. ISIL brings in over $1 million a day in addition to tanks, grenade launchers, field guns, and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles produced in Russia, China, the Balkans, and Iran. Descriptions are available here. More arms that the U.S. sends to the Middle East will provide more arms to ISIL.

Over two years ago, former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) gave a speech on the floor of the House that included this advice:

  • Stop creating wars.
  • Stop funding and arming mercenaries.
  • Stop causing abject chaos by “liberating” countries and delivering them to illegitimate non-state actors, i.e. terrorists.
  • Stop NATO and other Western front groups from promoting neo-conservative agendas which lust for empire, for control of oil and gas resources, and which bait countries into conflict to cause an increase in arms trade.
  • Stop playing the naïve fool and falling for the theater of propaganda while interest groups and arms dealers stand at the cash register.

In that speech, Kucinich said, “In the weeks and months ahead, when our leaders are calling for military strikes, without considering the consequences or knowing the end game, let’s remember our recent history.” There’s something terribly ironic about calling for air strikes that kill civilians when that was the issue calling Bush to declare war.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the killing of over 3,000 people in the United States because 19 terrorists were able to take over four airplanes and use them as bombs. It is also the day that allowed Bush, Cheney, and others to convince the people of the United States to start the Middle East conflict that continues today.

Yesterday, The New Yorker published an article about 28 pages that George W. Bush excised from the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. According to Bush, that information damage U.S. intelligence operation. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) said, “There’s nothing in it about national security.” Yet Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said that it describes complicity of some Saudi people and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on the United States. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), another co-sponsor, said that reading those 28 pages has made him more cautious about a military response to ISIL.  These three representatives have co-sponsored a resolution to declassify the 28 pages.

Most of the people in the United States desperately need help. Most of us grow poorer every year, and wealthy members in the Congress won’t even begin to increase minimum wages to match the 1960s. The NRA and the gun industry demand the ability for so-called “responsible” gun owners to wound and kill more and more innocent people. A ginned-up fear from conservatives is driving people to want more trillions of dollars sent to a crisis on the other side of the globe that Dick Cheney and his minions created over a decade ago and that isn’t going to go away because the war-mongers have no exit strategy. The wealthy will continue to get richer from war profiteering while the poor will be forced to subsist on less and less until they revolt.

September 10, 2013

Still No Evidence to Attack Syria

President Obama delivered his pro-forma speech promoting war tonight if Russia can’t arrange a deal with Bashar Assad to turn over chemical weapons. The speech was well-delivered but highly misleading with unsupported statements.

The president’s statement that “everyone knows” that Assad used chemical weapons is wrong. The rebels and Israel told Secretary of State John Kerry that was true, and he appears to have believed the people who want the U.S. to attack in their benefit.

The president’s statement that over 1,000 people were killed with sarin is wrong. The opposition has identified only 678 people who died—a long way from the 1,400+ originally given, and no proof thus far exists that they died from sarin. Even Kerry used the term “signature” of sarin which could be from chemicals in pesticide.

The president’s statement that the U.S. would solve the whole problem by just sending in drones is wrong. He cannot be sure that it won’t continue, and the drones will continue to kill innocent people. The only difference in the deaths is that the U.S. will be killing people in Syria if this country decides to attack.

There is no proof that Assad used chemical weapons. Even White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough admitted on his whirlwind tour of interviews last Sunday that there is no concrete evidence Assad was responsible for the chemical attacks. He said, “The common-sense test says he is responsible for this.” A German newspaper reported that Assad had denied Syrian military permission to use chemical weapons for almost five months. According to Bild am Sonntag, this intelligence came from phone calls intercepted by a German BND-operated surveillance ship off the Syrian coast,

The United States is attack-happy. The last five presidents have ordered 20 different military actions against other countries, many of them condemned by the U.N.:

  • Ronald Reagan: Lebanon, Grenada, and Libya
  • George H. W. Bush: Panama, Iraq, and Somalia
  • Bill Clinton: Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq (again), and Kosovo
  • *George W. Bush: Afghanistan and Iraq
  • *Barack Obama: Libya
  • *These don’t include the deadly drone strikes killing people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen

If Sen. John “Bomb Bomb Iran” McCain (R-AZ) had his way, we would have attacked far more countries. His past attitudes fit with his declaration, in between playing poker on his iPhone during a Senate hearing, that he won’t support anything less than an extensive aerial assault. Even after he heard about the possibility of Syria giving up chemical weapons, he stressed an alternative should be highly punitive against the country.

McCain wants to attack

This map shows where McCain wants to escalate international conflicts, asking for airstrikes, ground war for regime change, open military confrontation, unspecified aggression, and a new Cold War in dealing with Russia. The chart below is from a Mother Jones article that has other great graphics.

Mccain chartOn the rational side is Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), who has asked Congress to reject warmongering. In an interview on Democracy Now!’s September 5 broadcast, Grayson directed at Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the media report “that the administration has mischaracterized post-attack Syrian military communications and that these communications actually express surprise about the attack.” Grayson asked for the transcripts confirming the existence of an attack. Hagel didn’t seem to be aware of the media reports and then covered by saying that the transcripts were probably classified.

Grayson asked Secretary of State John Kerry about reports that members of the Syrian opposition had said that they didn’t want an attack. Kerry said he hadn’t heard of that. Grayson continued:

“Let’s talk about what our responsibilities are not. Our responsibilities are not to ignore the United Nations. Our responsibilities are not to ignore NATO or the Arab League. Our responsibility is not to ignore the international court of The Hague. Our responsibility is not to make vague remarks about red lines and to follow them up with equally vague remarks about violating international norms, which is a cover for saying that they have—that the Syrians have not violated international laws. I’m very disturbed by this general idea, this notion, that every time we see something bad in the world, we should bomb it….

There is substantial evidence right now, which the Russians have chosen to actually present to the United Nations, unlike the United States at this point, of the rebels using poison gas. Are we going to bomb both sides?”

Grayson also said that no member of Congress has seen the underlying document to the evidence. They have merely received a four-page unclassified document and, in “the bowels of the congressional facility here,” a 12-page classified document citing 300 intelligence reports that have not been released to anyone in Congress. As Grayson wrote in an op-ed published in the New York Times, “The first enumerates only the evidence in favor of an attack. I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in the classified summary, but you can draw your own conclusion.” He said he asked the House Intelligence Committee staff whether there was any other documentation available, classified or unclassified. Their answer was “no.”

According to Grayson, the administration expects members of Congress to support its play to attack Syria without any evidence. He compared this problem to his experience with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who made every relevant classified e-mail, cable, and intelligence report about the Benghazi attack to every member of Congress. In refusing to allow legislators access to Syrian underlying data, members of Congress cannot possibly independently judge the veracity of the material.

Grayson also pointed out that the House, is failing in dealing with nation’s business:

“We are three weeks away from the government shutting down. We are five weeks away from the government running out of money. And we’ve already spent two weeks engaged in a subject where almost everyone feels it’s simply not our responsibility. I said on MSNBC recently that the entire U.S. government, both Democratic and Republican, seems to be suffering from a very bad case of attention deficit disorder. We’re not showing any ability to focus on the things that actually matter in the lives of our constituents. And it’s not getting better; it’s getting worse….

“We have 20 million people in this country who are looking for full-time work. We have almost 50 million people in this country who rely upon the government to feed them. We have almost 40 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick. That’s what actually matters in the lives of Americans.”

About 70,000 people have been killed by the Mexican drug cartels in the past seven years. Over 100,000 people were killed in Syria during the past year. In the past decade, 400,000 people were killed in Darfur. Over 1,000 innocent Bangladesh garment workers were killed in just one accident, but Wal-mart won’t do anything about factory conditions. Almost 400 women have been killed just in Ciudad Juarez in the past 20 years. In 1994 almost 1 million people were killed in Rwanda. Tens of thousands of people in the United States died each year because they lack health insurance, the benefit that the House will be voting to take away from them for the 41st time this coming week. Why aren’t these people as important as the 678 people who could cause another world war?

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker may have said it best: “If your mind has wandered to the playground, where little boys get in fights over taunts and fragile pride, welcome to the sandbox. What say we all brush off our britches and think this one through? … The measure of one’s credibility … is also whether a nation is willing to be wise.”

October 27, 2012

Election Insanity Continues

Texas is still sending out mailings telling everyone that photo IDs are required for voting despite the fact that a judge overturned that law. The state has also threatened to arrest any international voting observers despite the fact that they have been doing this for at least a decade. Texas is home to the organization True the Vote that is determined to intimidate any suspicious voters (aka possible Democrats).

In Florida Palm Beach County hasn’t learned its lesson about ballots. The Board of Elections sent out about 27,000 absentee ballots that can’t be digitally scanned because of a recently discovered design flaw. After discovering that the design had omitted a heading for a new category, they inserted the heading that then shifted the placement of the races. Their solution for the problem is to duplicate the ballots. This is the state where the Republicans pretended to solve the problem of fraudulent voting.

Rachel Maddow’s blog has regularly posted photographs of busy polling places during early voting. My favorite thus far comes from William Fassett of Spokane (WA) where everyone in the state votes entirely by mail. He wrote, “It’s hard to create barriers to voting at the ‘polls’ when there are no polling places.” I live in Oregon which has the same mandated voting by mail. When we started the process, I had my doubts, but every election convinces me more and more that it’s the only way to go.

 

I have worked very hard to give the Republicans the benefit of the doubt in media claims about racism. The statement from John Sununu is so blatant, however, that there’s no way to give it a pass. The following is an exchange between Sununu and CNN’s Piers Morgan about why Colin Powell endorsed the president:

SUNUNU: You have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or that he’s got a slightly different reason for President Obama.

MORGAN: What reason would that be?

SUNUNU: Well, I think that when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being President of the United States–I applaud Colin for standing with him.

 

John McCain may be closer to the edge than Sununu; now he’s accused Powell of lying to the UN about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. After Powell’s endorsement of President Obama, McCain said, “I think one of the sad aspects of his career is going to the United Nations Security Council and telling them things about Iraq that were absolutely false.” The saddest part about this situatio–and McCain’s misrepresentation–is that the Bush/Cheney administration lied to Powell and used him as a front man for the bogus case of a preemptive war against Iraq. This is also the same McCain who almost a decade ago, said, “When the people of Iraq are liberated, we will again have written another chapter in the glorious history of the United States of America.”

McCain reflects how frantic the GOP has become about the really stupid things that their candidates are saying. In Florida, wealthy Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack now scores “zero” on voting for the interests of the middle class. And she does so without shame when she describes her own constituents, many of them struggling people whose homes are under water with the mortgages higher than the value, as “a third world toilet.” She has been depicted as a politician who earned her House seat the “old-fashioned way” through nepotism, cronyism, and big-money politics.

Montana may have to have a special election for governor if Republican Rick Hill wins the position. The dispute comes from a $500,000 donation to Hill from the Montana Republican Party in the week between a U.S. District judge striking down Montana’s donation limits and the reinstatement of these limits by the 9th U.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A state judge has ordered Hill to stop spending the donation and cancel all pending ads bought with the money while she reviews the legality of the contribution. Democrat candidate Steve Bullock argues that the $500,000 donation exceeds the state limit of $22,600 that any political party can give a candidate for governor. Montana will be a place to watch during on Election Day. Further investigation shows that the donation actually came from the Republican Governors Association who filtered their money through the Montana Republican Party.

The money is rolling in from Big Oil.  Determined to keep the GOP in control so that they can continue to rake in the bucks, Chevron just gave John Boehner’s superPAC another $2.5 million.

After Richard Mourdock, one of the candidates who want to replace Indiana’s senior Sen. Dick Lugar, said that pregnancies resulting from rape were a “gift from God,” I thought we might have hit rock bottom. There’s a lot farther to go. At this time women on welfare in Pennsylvania receive additional assistance if they have children. A state bill wants to refuse any additional stipend unless the women become pregnant from rape—and they will have to prove they were raped.

Ryan has screwed up so badly in his statements since Mitt Romney named him VP candidate last August that he’s been sent to non-swing states to raise funds. Nevertheless,  Ryan is working at the Romney tradition of lying. The man with the budget shredding the safety net has not claimed,

“[A] Romney-Ryan administration will clearly restore those parts of the welfare-reform law that have been undone or weakened. We will do this for the sake of millions of Americans who deserve to lead lives of dignity and freedom. We will also apply other lessons from welfare reform’s success…. Mitt Romney and I want to apply this idea to other anti-poverty programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps. The federal government would continue to provide the resources, but we would remove the endless federal mandates and restrictions that hamper state efforts to make these programs more effective.”

Ryan’s proposed budget plan, that Romney praised, identifies $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over the next decade, with almost two-thirds of the savings come from programs intended to help Americans of limited means. CBPP’s Robert Greenstein said that Ryan’s plan “would cast tens of millions of less fortunate Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, take food from poor children, make it harder for low-income students to get a college degree, and squeeze funding for research, education, and infrastructure.”

It appears that Romney’s “Romnesia” may be contagious.

The Rolling Stone interview of President Obama by Douglas Brinkley is well-worth reading, but this is a great piece from it. When Brinkley asked the president what he thought Paul Ryan’s obsession with Ayn Rand’s work would mean if Ryan became vice president, President Obama said,

“Well, you’d have to ask Paul Ryan what that means to him. Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity–that that’s a pretty narrow vision. It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a “you’re on your own” society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.

“Of course, that’s not the Republican tradition. I made this point in the first debate. You look at Abraham Lincoln: He very much believed in self-sufficiency and self-reliance. He embodied it–that you work hard and you make it, that your efforts should take you as far as your dreams can take you. But he also understood that there’s some things we do better together. That we make investments in our infrastructure and railroads and canals and land-grant colleges and the National Academy of Sciences, because that provides us all with an opportunity to fulfill our potential, and we’ll all be better off as a consequence. He also had a sense of deep, profound empathy, a sense of the intrinsic worth of every individual, which led him to his opposition to slavery and ultimately to signing the Emancipation Proclamation.

“That view of life – as one in which we’re all connected, as opposed to all isolated and looking out only for ourselves – that’s a view that has made America great and allowed us to stitch together a sense of national identity out of all these different immigrant groups who have come here in waves throughout our history.”

It seems that the president’s reference to Ryan as an adolescent has the  far right wing of the Republican party plenty riled. They’re pretty unhappy about the rest of the interview too.

One last very sad comment: Conservatives are now claiming that if people have a car, microwave, cell phone, and refrigerator, they aren’t really poor—that they’re doing just fine and there’s no serious separation in wealth in the United States. People who are making $21,000 or less a year—0.01% of Romney’s annual salary—may not agree.

Aside: A BBC World Service opinion poll of people from 21 countries showed that 20 of these prefer—by a large margin—that President Obama be relected. Only one country prefers Romney over Obama: Pakistan. Do they think that he will be easier on them than the current president?

August 17, 2012

Does Romney Lie about His Tax Returns?

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:47 PM
Tags: , , , ,

“Every year, I’ve paid at least 13 percent,” Mitt Romney said reluctantly yesterday after being pressed about his tax rate. At the same time, he won’t release his tax returns.

The interesting part about what he said is what he didn’t say. Nowhere did he use the word “federal” or “income tax.” Journalists asked for his tax rate, and he gave them a number. He also says, “I pay a lot of taxes” and “I pay all the taxes that the law requires.” People pay lots of taxes other than federal income taxes: sales tax, property tax, vehicle tax, capital gains tax, state income tax, etc. Were all these lumped into the 13 percent figure that he gave? Almost every news story about the 13 percent uses the word “federal”; Romney must be very pleased.

Even if the 13 percent is for federal taxes, there are many questions that won’t be answered without a look at the tax returns. How did he get over $1 million in his IRA? What deductions did he take? What offshore tax strategies does he use? Did he disclose his Swiss bank account during all these years? Was he one of the people who took advantage of the IRS’s amnesty for undeclared offshore financial accounts? Why did he use a “tax shelter” in his Houston real estate investment?

Romney calls the concern about his tax returns “small-minded.” He may feel that’s true because  he has what most of the people in the country would consider unlimited funds. It brings up the question—again—of what “ammunition” (to use Ann Romney’s word) would people find in his tax return.

What many people realize is that Romney cannot be trusted to tell the truth. He has consistently lied throughout this entire campaign every time he changes his position to get more voters. He also consistently lies about President Obama’s record, most recently the accusation that the president lied about the U.S. having more coal jobs now than when George W. Bush was president. Romney called on the president to tell the truth; we should call on Romney to do the same thing.

In 2008, Bush’s last year in office, there were 12,445-14,428 underground coal jobs and between 5316-6312 surface jobs throughout the year. The number rose slightly each year until the year 2011 showed 16,290 underground coal jobs and 6046 surface jobs throughout the year. This definitely shows an increase. Romney lies.

The Medicare debate since Romney selected Ryan as his running mate has brought out a number of Romney’s lies. Romney’s health plan eliminates all new benefits for seniors under the Affordable Care Act, bringing negative changes for “current seniors and those 55 and older,” in opposition to what Romney claimed. His claim that his plan will keep Medicare solvent is a bold-faced lie as is his claim that the president’s plan will cause Medicare to go bankrupt. The purpose of President Obama’s Medicare plan is to save money through greater efficiency, something that conservatives used to try to do. Another Romney Medicare lie is that it is a bipartisan effort with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). Wyden has pointed out himself that this is a blatant lie.

Romney has consistently claimed that President Obama promised “he’d get the unemployment down to under 5.6 percent today if we pass that $1 trillion stimulus package.” First, the stimulus was $200 billion less than Romney’s claim, and second the president never claimed that.

Another false Romney claim is that he won’t raise taxes on small businesses the way that President Obama has done. Once again, Romney should do some fact checking: the president has repeatedly cut taxes for small businesses—some say 18 times—and his tax plan has no effect on 97 percent of small businesses, just those that net over $250,000.

If, by some miracle, Romney is telling the truth, there’s still a huge problem. Why should someone who has over $250 million and earns over $20 million pay 13 percent federal taxes when people who make far, far less pay a much higher percentage? And why should anyone elect someone who would then be able to pay less than 1 percent in federal taxes if he and his party control the country? Ask conservatives that!

July 28, 2012

Conservatives Promote Evil

Sick, disgusting, and evil. These are the words that come to mind when I read about the billboard paid for the Ralph Smeed Foundation, an Idaho-based group that espouses limited government and individual liberty. Twenty-six miles out of Boise anyone can read the message comparing President Barack Obama and James Holmes, who killed 12 people and wounded another 49 in an Aurora movie theater.

“Kills 12 in a movie theater with assault rifle, everyone freaks out,” reads the sign’s left half, which displays a photo of Holmes. “Kills thousands with foreign policy, wins Nobel Peace Prize,” reads the right side of the panel, which shows a photo of Obama. The point of this vicious complaint about the president is what the foundation perceives as the president’s handling of the Afghanistan war.

Conservatives now accuse the president and his supporters of blaming George W. Bush for the problems that the country has. They ignore the fact that Bush declared war on the basis of a lie about the existence of “weapons of mass destruction” and to satisfy his own personal ego.

This hateful, offensive act follows several years of bigoted behavior about the first part-black president. Conservatives ignored all the killing done in the eight years before the election of Barack Obama; now they will do anything to get rid of the man who wants only to help the people of this country—which includes the people who despise him.

When I first read about this billboard, I thought it was another piece of satire. Sadly, it’s true.  How much farther can the hate mongers of this country go?!

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