The GOP is no longer relevant


The dinosaur known as the Republican Party

I’ve been tweeting since 2016 and the election of Donald Trump that the Republican party is no longer a legitimate, relevant opposition party in American politics. The descent into the abyss of moral decadence lays squarely at the foot of those Americans who support the candidacy of Donald Trump, the most morally bankrupt and ignorant person to occupy any political office in American history. I am willing to give people who voted in the Republican primary for Trump because perhaps they were not up to snuff on who he is but in 2019 after all the media exposure Trump has had as a candidate and as President should leave no doubt how bad a candidate he is and how much worse the Republican party that props him up has become.

Personal responsibility used to be a bedrock of GOP ideals. Theirs was a  notion that honorable politicians propose a policy they think will benefit the American body politic and if things go upside down those same politicians will own up to their mistake and try to make things right. The buck stops here an expression used by Democrat Harry Truman was turned on its head by Trump whose incompetence means nothing he does will work but who’s smart enough to pass the buck and claim ‘the buck stops with everyone’.  In practical terms a government shutdown solely of his making which had disastrous effects on America is not his problem or responsibility at all…..it’s everyone’s fault.

The law and order mantra of Republicans in the ’60s barely got out of their mouths before it was defamed by the Nixon/Agnew ticket. It stands to reason Trump has even more egregiously made that idea meaningless. He ran a criminal enterprise as a real estate businessman and he’s carried that criminality into the White House. In the process, he’s laid ruin to bureaucracy by firing competent career public servants and putting in his cronies whose only priority is to protect him from the rule of law. Oh, and a benefit of their doing a good job is they are able to plunder the government largesse available to them as long as they don’t get caught. Republicans now find themselves making excuses for criminal behavior and they do so with a vigor that makes you wonder whether they ever really held on to the belief that law and order, the rule of law is important in civil society.

Family values of the Reagan years are out the window. Do we need to talk any more about pussy grabbing and extramarital affairs that were withheld from the public that Trump paid to make disappear or by corporate friends of his who paid his paramours for their silence? In days gone by such dalliances would keep an office seeker out of office but today’s Republican has no problem with a president who cheated on his wife BEFORE he assumed office, just don’t do it while in the White House. However, that vice is not for mere mortals only for Trump or those who surround and defend him; all others are held to the standards of morality that usually come with family values in sometimes very comic ways. This is today’s Republican Party; you’d be wise to avoid it. When you see it coming towards you get the hell outta the way!

Answering the President’s challenge


We all know about the tragedy that happened in Oregon where college students were murdered by an American terrorist with self proclaimed ties to the political right, also known as the #demonicGOP or Republican party.  That part of his bio is conveniently left out…even his name won’t be uttered by the Oath Keeper sheriff of the county where the shooting occurred probably in no small part because the shooter reminds the sheriff of himself….a conservative gun loving, gun toting true blue American. In the President’s remarks above, those made passionately, he issued a challenge to news organizations at about the 6:30 mark of his speech which many responded too and which have become a constant theme here at Miscellany101 about terrorism versus good old fashioned American crime…the kind of crime we’ve become used too and are good at doing so much so that we outdo the terrorists.

Let’s start with the basics; we are a country of criminals of all shapes, sizes and descriptions. There are many people who mean to do their fellow citizens harm and this intent is practiced on a daily basis.  DAILY BASIS! There have been more mass shootings in this country of “exceptionalism” than there have been days of the year, that as of October 1…a mass shooting defined as one in which four or more people have been shot, not necessarily killed.  If you want to quarrel over being killed versus being shot as a measure of qualitative American lifestyle you’re an idiot.  Jamil al-Amin was correct back in 1967 when he said, ‘violence is as American as cherry pie’; our propensity to embrace it, see it as a solution to all our problems and even enable it through the auspices of police departments and the NRA will only insure we continue down that path in even more egregious ways. So the President has a right to be angry if he wants to be the “leader of the free world”, wherein his country, our country surpasses ALL of the world, free or otherwise, in firearm fratricide.

But that isn’t the challenge we’re answering here……..THIS IS!

…..and about those “terrorism” related deaths…many of them were commited by our own homespun white/black American terrorists, like this one or this one or this one or this one or……….While one can show there are “others” who committed acts of terrorism on America soil where people were killed  the only thing they have in common with one another and the other Americans who’ve committed acts of terrorism is the fact that they lived here in America and had access to firearms, proving what al-Amin said back in 1967 about “our” inclination to murder and death. It cuts across color, race, ethnicity…it is something unique to our political system which says we have a right to firearms and many more others of us have a right to kill. If you claim this is a Christian country beware your Christianity which warns you, Mathew 26:52, ‘he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword’. Fix this America!

 

North Carolina’s good and pretty damned bad news


NC

North Carolina state government is run solely by Republicans, known for being the party of family values and tough on crime.  Today it is neither, instead if you’ve got business you want to conduct and need the help of the Republican controlled government you can hire call girls to convince the State’s legislators to do your bidding. The opinion of the State’s  “Ethics Committee has just opened up a major problem for their state — they just made it legal for lobbying firms to purchase prostitutes to service politicians.” In a ruling that’s just as bad as the Citizen’s United case decided on by the $50KUS Supreme Court which gave corporations the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other ‘political tools’ to defeat or promote individual candidates or policy. Legally armed it seems the Republican party will go to any lengths to pursue it’s agenda even when the means are totally against the Party’s claims of standing for moral, traditional values. That shouldn’t come as any surprise, politicians in general and Republican governors in states bordering North Carolina have come under recent scrutiny for unethical, sometimes illegal behavior. (I’m speaking of Bob McDonnell in Virginia and South Carolina’s Mark Sanford) What’s even depressing is that it seems given the chance the electorate prefers morally corrupt Republican officials to sanitized Democratic policy…….NOT GOOD.

the 3's silhouetteThe good news coming out of North Carolina is the prosecutor’s office handling the murders of three young American Muslims has said it will seek the death penalty against Craig Hicks who had confessed to the crimes. There is no doubt he did it; he turned himself in immediately after killing his victims and it was clearly a capital murder case which the prosecutor confirmed with this decision.  There are still those who claim this was about a neighborly dispute, i.e. parking and that insistence might strengthen the DA’s case for seeking the death penalty judging on what has been found in Hicks’ possession;

A search of Hicks’ computers showed he kept pictures and notes on parking activity in the lots around his condo, police said in the warrants.

which would surely prove intent and premeditation but it’s also equally clear from

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

Hicks’ own Facebook posts he hated religion and or religious expression.  The clearest manifestation of religion, indeed the in-your-faceness of the Muslim women who wore hijab were his Muslim neighbors who he killed.  Hats off to the Durham county district attorney.  North Carolina trends towards a conservatism stronger than the Nation’s and with the current Islamophobia prevalent on the national stage whether the DA can prosecute towards a death penalty will depend on the judge accepting his evidence for such a ruling.  Stay tuned; it ain’t over yet.

 

John Boehner’s outrageous plan to help a foreign leader undermine Obama


When I first saw this headline, I tweeted how some members of America’s body politic love all of these foreign leaders rather than their own President and as they stand compared to Obama, these leaders, Putin and Netanyahu  are losers in the arena of policy vis-a-vis American interests.  That hasn’t stopped Speaker of the House, Joh n Boehner from doing an end round and bringing Netanyahu to town to upstage the American President.  America, love it or move to Israel…

Vox

House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress in February, on the topic of Iran. On the surface, this might seem innocent enough. Israel is a close American ally. Surely he should be welcome in Congress, particularly to discuss an issue that concerns his country.

On the surface, Netanyahu’s speech will be about opposing Obama’s nuclear talks with Iran and supporting Republican-led sanctions meant to blow up those talks.

But there’s more than meets the eye here. Netanyahu is playing a game with US domestic politics to try to undermine and pressure Obama — and thus steer US foreign policy. Boehner wants to help him out. By reaching out to Netanyahu directly and setting up a visit without the knowledge of the White House, he is undermining not just Obama’s policies but his very leadership of US foreign policy. The fact that Netanyahu is once again meddling in American politics, and that a US political party is siding with a foreign country over their own president, is extremely unusual, and a major break with the way that foreign relations usually work.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Obama in the White House in March 2014 (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Obama in the White House in March 2014 (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty)

Throughout Obama’s tenure, he has clashed with Netanyahu. That is no secret, and it’s nothing new for American and Israeli leaders to disagree, sometimes very publicly. But Netanyahu, beginning in May 2011, adopted a new strategy to try to deal with this: using domestic American politics as a way to try to push around Obama.

During a trip that month to Washington, Netanyahu publicly lectured Obama at a press conference and then gave a speech to Congress slamming the president. That speech, also hosted by Republicans, received many standing ovations for Netanyahu’s finger-wagging criticism of Obama.

At first it appeared that Netanyahu was merely trying to steer Obama’s foreign policy in a direction that he, Netanyahu, preferred. Obama wanted Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement growth in the West Bank, for example; Obama has also sought, in his second term, to reach a nuclear deal with Iran that Netanyahu earnestly believes is a bad idea.

Netanyahu’s first responsibility is to Israel’s national interests, not to Obama, so it makes sense that he would push for policies that he thinks are good for Israel.

But in 2011 Netanyahu started going a step further, and appeared to be working to actively remove Obama from power. During the 2012 election cycle, Netanyahu and his government were increasingly critical of Obama and supportive of Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for whom he at times appeared to be actively campaigning. Netanyahu’s criticisms of Obama were so pointed that some of Obama’s opponents cut a campaign ad out of them. It became a joke within Israel that Netanyahu saw himself not as the leader of a sovereign country, but as the Republican senator from Israel.

But trying to unseat a foreign leader is not a joke, especially when that foreign leader is funding your military and guaranteeing your nation’s security.

Netanyahu’s government ramped down this strategy after Obama won; he even gave Obama the world’s most awkward congratulations speech. But throughout Obama’s second term he has once again gradually escalated from trying to influence Obama to actively undermining both the president and his party. The new Israeli ambassador to the US for months would not even bother to meet with National Security Advisor Susan Rice, yet held many meetings with Republican fundraiser Sheldon Adelson. Israel’s foreign policy, in other words, was more focused on undermining the American leadership than working with it.

The Jerusalem skyline (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty)

The Jerusalem skyline (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty)

Republicans, aware that Americans are supportive of Israel, have urged on Netanyahu’s anti-Obama campaign since it began in 2011. Inviting him to speak to Congress that year was shrewd domestic politics, and it will be shrewd legislative politics next month when Netanyahu publicly supports the GOP’s sanctions efforts.

This makes sense within the narrow scope of domestic politics — if you can use something to convince voters your party and its policies are a better choice than your opponents, you use it, even if that something is a foreign head of state. But members of Congress are purportedly supposed to put their country before their party, and siding with a foreign leader over your own president doesn’t seem to do that. Neither does cheering a foreign leader when he lambasts the president of the United States.

More to the point, it was a really significant breach when some conservatives supported Netanyahu’s implicit lobbying on behalf of the Romney campaign. If a foreign country wants to unseat your president, that is generally considered an outrageous breach. But Netanyahu has been invited in, and with the 2016 presidential elections ramping up it appears likely he will be invited in once more to implicitly run against the Democrats.

This speaks, in a very real sense, to just how extreme political polarization has become in Washington.

This sort of practice is bad for America’s ability to conduct foreign policy

To be very clear, this is not just a breach of protocol: it’s a very real problem for American foreign policy. The Supreme Court has codified into law the idea that only the president is allowed to make foreign policy, and not Congress, because if there are two branches of government setting foreign policy then America effectively has two foreign policies.

The idea is that the US government needs to be a single unified entity on the world stage in order to conduct effective foreign policy. Letting the president and Congress independently set their own foreign policies would lead to chaos. It would be extremely confusing for foreign leaders, and foreign publics, who don’t always understand how domestic American politics work, and could very easily misread which of the two branches is actually setting the agenda. (This confusion, by the way, is exactly what some Republicans are hoping to create in Iran with new sanctions.)

This could also allow a foreign country to play those two branches off of each other. That’s in part what Netanyahu is attempting to do here, and it’s working. The Obama administration did not even find out about Netanyahu’s planned visit to Washington until Boehner announced it. The Republicans are attempting to run a foreign policy that’s separate from the actual, official US foreign policy.

One more anti-Obama speech from Netanyahu on the floor of Congress is not going to break US foreign policy, of course. But it’s troubling that Republicans are willing to breach such an important principle for some pretty modest short-term gains.

More Bergdahl news


I should have included this in a previous post but just saw it.  Seems there’s more to the Bergdahl story than meets the eye.  Daily Kos points out several inconsistencies that when brought to light should permanently mute the strings of discord currently being played by the #DemonicGOP.

Bergdahl had left his base without permissions on at least one prior occasion, and had come back! This is according to a report in the Army Times. In fact, his fellow soldiers failed to report it at the time. (The 35 page classified Army report (as reported to the New York Times) that was compiled 2 months after Bergdahl disappeared, concluded that he had left his unit twice, not once. And the Army blamed lax security practices and a lack of discipline. Moreover, the supposed letter he left confessing to everything was not mentioned in the report at all.)

According to the now famous article by Michael Hastings about Bergdahl, his unit was basically a bunch of undisciplined fuck ups who went out on patrol without helmets, lost weapons, totally lacked morale and respect for military authority, etc. At least two commanders were actually demoted! So, you have to take with a grain of salt the accusations being made against Bergdahl by these people. Especially now that we know they failed to report Bergdahl left the base without permission on a prior occasion, and are still telling the media that he is a “deserter” when they know damn well that’s not true.

The New York Times has also reported that it is almost impossible to attribute the losses the unit suffered to Bergdahl, or looking for Bergdahl. Given the lack of unit discipline, etc. One wonders whether Bergdahl is being scapegoated by these people, who were drummed up by GOP political operatives.

Bergdahl’s apparent heroism while in captivity has been almost completely ignored and glossed over. The Daily Beast originally reported that Bergdahl lulled his captors into believing he was sympathetic to them, and when they let their guard down he escaped for 3 days. When they finally found him in a hand-dug trench he covered with leaves, he was nearly naked an exhausted. Yet, it took 5 Taliban to subdue him as he fought back trying to avoid being recaptured.

 

Remember this?


Not only did Reagan deal with terrorists as president, as revealed in
the Iran-Contra scandal, the preponderance of evidence now supports the charge that his campaign negotiated with Iranian hostage-takers while he was running for president in 1980, to delay the release of hostages before the election, which could have helped Carter win reelection — what was known as “The October Surprise.” Given that Reagan wasn’t president then, but was negotiating to thwart a president’s attempt to get hostages released, this is not simply questionable behavior, it is arguably an act of treason. Democrats’ reluctance to vigorously investigate Reagan’s misdeeds — the exact opposite of GOP attitudes toward Clinton and Obama — has left much of the true story still shrouded in mystery, but what we do know is damning enough in itself, and still cries out for a truly thorough investigation.

First of all, there’s no doubt that Reagan himself set the precedent of Iran-TIMEdealing with terrorists — and encouraging more hostage-taking. He and his administration convinced themselves they were dealing with “moderates” in Iran. But they also famously sent Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to hang out with Saddam Hussein, and collaborated with Osama bin Laden in building up the most extreme mujahideen elements fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan — the very forces that eventually gave birth to the Taliban. When his own hand-picked “Tower Commission” confirmed the basic facts of the Iran-contra scandal, Reagan went on national TV and said, “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.” (emphasis mine)

So goes an article which goes into detail about Ronald Reagan’s romp with terrorism and negotiations and how he failed at it miserably.  The problem for America is Reagan is a right wing ‘god’ who cannot be blamed for anything he did or was done while he was in office no matter how terrible the results were for the American people….and too many of us won’t call him on it.  Oh sure….a few articles like the one sourced above come out but even it claims

….

As we watch the current manufacture of “scandal” surrounding the release of Sgt. Bergdahl, it’s illuminating to contrast this with the way in which multiple very real interconnected scandals under Ronald Reagan were both isolated from one another and then minimized, never receiving the sort of thorough investigation that Republicans are now demanding every time that President Obama so much as coughs.

I’m glad those in opposition to the #DemonicGOP haven’t resorted to the tactics of such a forlorn ex-political party….truth stands out clear from error.  There’s no need to mislead people in order to gain their loyalty but whenever anyone says Obama negotiated with terrorists remind them he did a better job of it than Ronald Reagan who started the practice.

You know it’s bad when it’s written about by non-Muslims


islamophobiaThe “it” here is Islamophobia and it’s rearing its ugly head again in circles of the GOP.

Yesterday I wrote about the danger of demonizing Muslims. I cited remarks fromseveral Republican politicians who argued a couple of years ago that no mosqueshould be allowed near the site of the 9/11 attack in New York.

Today I looked at a speech given last night in California by Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La. Jindal’s speech, which asserted a religious right to practice anti-gay policies in private business activity, echoed the argument made 14 years ago by Bob Jones University in defense of its policy against interracial dating. The resemblance is uncanny. You can read the whole article here.

But Jindal’s speech raised another problematic theme as well: the idea of a war between Islam and Christianity. Here’s what he said:

In nation after nation, Christians are being slaughtered by radical Islamists for their beliefs. … Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that “The cross is laid on every Christian. It begins with the call to abandon the attachments of this world. … When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” And today, around the world, many Christians are living out that calling. That is a shooting war over religion, not a silent one.

In targeting Islam, Jindal is hardly alone. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another likely Republican candidate for president, asserted two years ago that “Sharia law is an enormous problem.” And last fall, a third likely candidate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, told an overwhelmingly Christian audience at the Values Voters Summit:

Today I want to tell you about a war the mainstream media is ignoring. From Boston to Zanzibar, there is a worldwide war on Christianity. …

Ever since 9/11, commentators have tried to avoid pointing fingers at Islam. While it is fair to point out that most Muslims are not committed to violence against Christians, this is not the whole truth and we should not let political correctness stand in the way of the truth. …

We send billions of dollars a year to Pakistan and Egypt. We helped put new Islamic regimes in place in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama now sends arms to Islamic Rebels in Syria. In Egypt the mob attacked our embassy and burned our flag. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that terrorists who kill Americans tend to do so in the name of Islam. It’s quite another thing to accept them as representatives of their faith, to affirm their message of enmity between Christianity and Islam, and to portray Islamic law as a threat within this country.

Do the Republicans running for president really believe that? Do they think such talk will make this country safer? Do they think it will make us more free?

The answer to the last three questions is no but demagoguery has never been about truth, it’s about power and that’s why members of the Republican Party do it to reclaim power from the party of the first black President.

The Racist’s Playbook exposed


People for the American Way have compiled the strategy used by the Right to inflame public passion against Muslims and gain political power.  The work entitled The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism, contains such tidbits as this

Anti-Muslim sentiments are commonplace among Republican Party officials, candidates and activists. Right-wing activist David Horowitz maintains that “between 150 million and 750 million Muslims” are known to “support a holy war against Christians, Jews and other Muslims.” Religious Right leader Pat Robertson has likened Muslims to Adolf Hitler and said that Americans should fight Muslims in the same way the country fought Nazi Germany. Radio talk show host and American Family Association political chief Bryan Fischer calls Muslim-Americans “parasites” and a “toxic cancer” who are “out to eliminate and destroy western civilization.”

Presidential candidate Herman Cain said he would never consider appointing a Muslim to his administration, telling Fischer on his radio show, “I wouldn’t have Muslims in my administration”. Newt Gingrich defended Cain’s position in a Republican presidential debate, arguing that Muslims lie about their loyalty to the country and comparing them to Nazis. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), in an ad before the 2010 election, equated all Muslim-Americans with the terrorists who committed the September 11th attacks. Rep. Allen West (R-FL) claimed Muslims are naturally “wild” because God cursed Ishmael and his (Muslim) descendents.

The American Center for Law and Justice, the conservative legal foundation founded by Pat Robertson and Jay Sekulow, claims that Muslims are compelled by their religion to fight America and other countries: “Because Islam grew out of the belief in complete world domination, every Muslim is obligated to labor in his own way toward achieving that goal, no matter where he lives or what sovereign claims his allegiance,” the group writes in Shari’a Law: Radical Islam’s Threat to the U.S. Constitution. The ACLJ is one of the driving forces behind the attempt to block construction of the Park 51 Muslim community center in Manhattan and offers elected officials legal advice to crack down on the supposed ‘Sharia threat.’ In its Shari’a Law pamphlet, ACLJ makes clear its view that Muslims cannot be loyal Americans, asserting that “devout Muslims cannot truthfully swear the oath to become citizens of the United States of America.”

Attempts by Muslims to defend their faith and community are rendered meaningless under this Right Wing framing, because anti-Muslim activists dishonestly argue that Muslims are mandated by their religion to lie in order to further their violent objectives.

Now Cain, thank God is gone…..effectively removed from the power landscape of the GOP, but the others mentioned in the excerpt are still recognized, vocal, visible and quoted by far too many across the width and breath of this country.  The fact that in today’s America, people have become popular, powerful and influential because they have incited public passions against certain segments of the society is not only disgraceful, but an indication of how far America has to go and just how backwards it has become in the second decade of the 21st century.  Those who pooh pooh the need for a discussion of race in this country are disillusioned, with their heads in the sand.

The GOP bitch slapped by Obama



The Obama Administration has just slapped the Republican Party two times in less than a week and relegated that party to the dust bin of  history because Republicans wallow in mud instead of substance in their political postures.  Any true Republican should hide his/her face in shame at the way their party has been manhandled by the Obama machine.  In effect it, the Republican Party, got what it deserved.  It gave into the crazies of the lunatic fringe within the party with its notions of dubious citizenship and questionable loyalties on the part of Obama and went up in flames when the President adroitly handled both to the point that everyone in the Republican Party was reduced to mumbling and looking quite frankly stupid.

First the release of the much ballyhooed long form birth certificate that party loyalists said was necessary to prove citizenship, when they thought that such a certificate could not be produced, was humiliating for them.  Even the buffoon Donald Trump who so vociferously called for “proof” Obama was a citizen had to double back and say that he was proud of himself for getting Obama to release what should have never been and has never been requested from any other president in modern times to display.  It didn’t help Trump’s cause for him to go on and begin to doubt Obama’s college transcripts/records in an attempt to say he got where he is undeservedly so.  You gotta’ wonder whether Obama is sitting on highest honor diplomas from all the colleges and universities he ever attended, waiting to release them at the most propitious time during a presidential campaign season to further humiliate his opponents. It doesn’t look too good for Trump with the main stream media finally getting tired of his dog and pony show to the extent that even some of them are calling his snipping at Obama’s heels racism in the extreme.  Trump is pathetically embarrassing.

The kicker however is the news released just today, Monday 2 May that bin laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan.    You remember Osama bin Laden don’t you?  The ONE everyone said was responsible for the most heinous terrorist attack on US soil ever in the history of America; the ONE who it was said made it necessary for Americans to invade two countries destroying both theirs and ours in unnecessary wars.  It’s significant to point out that the operation carried out by US special forces was done with far less  US firepower than it took to invade Afghanistan and Iraq practically nullifying the stupefying loss of life that occurred on all sides in what has turned out to be BEFORE bin laden’s death morally senseless, bankrupt wars of occupation.  It took Obama two years to do what Bush couldn’t accomplish in two terms, despite the “mission accomplished” claims to the contrary; had this been the course of action of Bush a lot less “blowback” would have ensued for the world community and a lot more good will could have been generated that could have translated into the dollars and cents the invasions were really meant to accomplish.

In real terms, Obama has out Bush(ed) Bush and in the process made irrelevant the Republican Party which has increasingly separated itself from common political consensus andbeen  overtaken instead by fanatical racist zealots who talk in terms of fear and divisiveness, at the expense of the American people.  In response to them, Obama has slapped them silly, humiliated them; that might not have been his intention, and pushed them further into a corner of isolation and disarray.  It’s sad to see.  I hope the GOP for the good of the nation, stops its genuflections at the altar of American fear and xenophobia and returns to the mainstream.  The way Obama has acted lately, it would serve them good to do so, or else, he may have to slap them silly again.

T

More Guantanamo Bay news


Proponents of Guantanamo Bay have always maintained it’s necessary to keep that base open to house the meanest of the mean; black/brown Muslim terrorists who have the ability to swim from Cuba to the mainland, fashion knives out of paper products and invade the homeland causing death and destruction.  To substantiate their claim to keep the facility eternally open, they have put forward some really astonishing claims about recidivism, which we have addressed on the pages of Miscellany101 here and here.

It appears Obama will not be able to close Guantanamo down anytime soon, nor does he appear to be up for the fight, having been effectively betrayed by members of his own party during a lame duck session after the congressional elections, and facing an ever more combative new Congress who no doubt will use this recidivism issue again to underscore their desire to keep Gitmo open.  So here’s another study which “refudiates” that claim making it the third different one to do so which really begs the question why do the supporters of the facility bother with erecting false claims and figures in the first place.

On the ninth anniversary of the first detainee’s arrival at the infamous prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a Washington think tank challenged intelligence estimates suggesting that large numbers of former detainees have taken up arms against the United States.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper claimed in December — without offering any evidence — that 13.5 percent of former Guantanamo detainees are confirmed, and an additional 11.5 percent are suspected of “reengaging” in terrorist or insurgent activities after their release.

The conservative media embraced the storyline that as many as one in four former detainees had returned to the battlefield, up sharply from the prior year.

But three scholars with the New America Foundation are out with a new report — this one backed up with data — concluding that only 6 percent of released detainees engaged or are suspected of having engaged with insurgents aimed at attacking U.S. interests. Another 2 percent engaged or are suspected of having engaged against non-U.S. targets.

It appears that America is perfectly willing to let bygones be bygones and keep the facility even though for now it serves no useful purpose.  Perhaps some hope it will house the millions of American Muslims who will be sent there after the King committee hearings?

 

Separation of Church and State- A Resounding Yes!


The US is awash in people who are mistaken in the belief that America was founded as a Christian nation, some even saying the Judeo-Christian ethic is the standard by which the country governs and conducts itself to the exclusion of other faiths.  We’ve written about that here a time or two and demonstrated that nothing could be further from the truth.  A more recent article affirms that and can be found here.

Not once does the U.S. Constitution or any of its amendments use the words Christian or Christianity. The only times the word religion is used in the Constitution is in the prohibition of a religious test to run for public office and in the First Amendment, forbidding any limits on the free practice of religion.

Yet 53 percent of Americans believe the United States was established as a Christian nation.

Today’s misconception about the United States as a Christian nation, of course, is not the only example of Americans failing to live up to the founding ideals.

The Baptists and the Quakers suffered severe persecution in Colonial days. The Roman Catholics and Mormons were the targets of persecution in the 19th Century, and the Jehovah Witnesses and Christian Scientists were demonized in the 20th Century. The bias against Muslims has become the challenge of the 21st century.

 

It’s clear the argument that America is a Christian nation is a means by which people can deny those who don’t fall under the appellation “Christian” their God given right to live in peace in America.  In an earlier post we’ve shown how the “Christian” disease can spread and engulf victims that were once considered a part of the Judeo-Christian ethic further underscoring the destructive nature of the argument.  America has always been a place where people who valued freedom of expression settled to live peacefully and even at times tumultuously with their neighbors, without fear of being denied the freedoms they cherished without due process.  That should not change in today’s climate, all the race-baiting and homophobic clamoring to the contrary.  America is a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, Wicca, atheist nation united by a rule of law that says any expression is allowed and cannot be limited, censored, altered by the State.  Leave it at that America; don’t tread on the rights of any of your Citizens!

For American Jews Hating Muslims is good for Israel


Well that’s not really the title of this op/ed, but it says that’s what many are being encouraged to feel among some in the Jewish community.  A few excerpts appear below

I don’t know why I am at all surprised that the American Right – including the Republican Party – has decided that scapegoating Muslims is the ticket to success. After all, it’s nothing new.

I remember right after 9/11 when the columnist Charles Krauthammer, now one of the most vocal anti-Muslim demagogues, almost literally flipped out in my Chevy Chase, Maryland synagogue when the rabbi said something about the importance of not associating the terrorist attacks with Muslims in general.

It was on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, but that did not stop Krauthammer from bellowing out his disagreement with the rabbi.  Krauthammer’s point: Israel and America are at war with Muslims and that war must be won.

It was shocking, not only because Krauthammer’s outburst was so utterly out of place but also because the man was actually chastising the rabbi for not spouting hate against all Muslims – on the Day of Atonement.

The following year, the visiting rabbi from Israel gave a sermon about the intifada that was then raging in Israel and the West Bank.

The sermon was a nutty affair that tearfully made the transition from intifada to Holocaust and back again.

I remember thinking, “this guy is actually blaming the Palestinians for the suffering of his parents during the Holocaust.” I thought I had missed something because it was so ridiculous.

Then came the sermon’s ending which was unforgettable. The rabbi concluded with the words from Ecclesiastes.

“To everything there is a season. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap … A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”

He then looked up and said: “Now is the time to hate.”

At first, I thought I had not heard him correctly.  He could not be calling on the congregation to hate. There were dozens of children in the room. It wasn’t possible.

But it was. To their credit, many of the congregants I spoke with as we left the sanctuary were appalled. Even the right-wingers were uncomfortable with endorsing hate as a virtue.

Yet, the rabbi was unrepentant. I emailed him to complain and he told me that he said what he believed. Nice.

One could ask what the Middle East has to do with the vicious outbreak of Islamophobia (actually Islamo-hatred) that has seemingly seized segments of this country.

The answer is everything. Although the hate is directed at Arab-Americans (which makes it worse) it is justified by invoking 9/11, an attack by Muslims from the Middle East.

This hate is buttressed by the hatred of Muslims and Arabs that has been routinely uttered (or shouted from the rooftops) in the name of defending Israel for decades

Just watch what goes on in congress, where liberals from New York, Florida, California and elsewhere never miss an opportunityto explain that no matter what Israel does, it is right, and no matter what Muslims do, they are wrong.

The writer of the piece doesn’t spare either side of the political spectrum with special contempt for liberals.  We expect such insanity from the “right” that has increasingly shown itself to be a lunatic fringe of social thought and political discourse, but liberals have been so ineffective in combating the “right’s” insanity that they too have become rabid in opposition to the insane right as ineffective in contributing to coherent, responsible and productive political discourse.

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Why the outrage?


Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia

Image via Wikipedia

It appears Eric Cantor’s declaration to Benjamin Netanyahu that the Republican Party would, in essence, stand with Israel against the President of the United States has become somewhat of a news item.

Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington. He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.

I like the one party rule reference, because in a way, the Republicans have  done nothing but obstruct the Democratic party’s initiatives since Obama came to office.  Remember, their stated policy/political goal, or rather as stated by Mitch O’Connell is to see that Obama is a one term president, so anything they can do to make him ineffective and look bad, is a plus for them!  But what is also obvious is the “talking point” of mutual reliance.

Despite the fact that America has lived as an independent country far longer than Israel, it appears we cannot live without them any longer; our survival depends on whether Israel survives goes the rational and no one seems to find that insulting.  What is apparent is that the Republican Party will magnify, out do the Democrats in pursuing the Israel agenda in Washington to the extent of becoming a lobbying agent for the government of Israel.  Those efforts at appealing to Israeli leadership most probably will include more wars of aggression against Israeli enemies, who are presently not ours, at the expense of the American economy and lives; already several Republican party members since the elections a few short weeks ago have called  for military action against Iran, while the Israeli economy prospers at the expense of America’s.

But what is truly pathetic about all the hoopla about Cantor’s remarks is the false indignation it has  raised. Cantor has indeed done something he and his Party once criticized those outside his Party for doing during the Bush years, but ever since Obama’s coming to power, the Republicans have taken unprincipled stands against this present Administration in attempts to score political points and the future  indicates the same strategy will prevail.  Let us not forget who Eric Cantor is.  He is quite comfortable with lying to suit his political agendas and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again for Israel which holds a special place in American politics.  She is able to carry out the most egregious crimes in our name yet still command, nay demand rapt attention from American politicians and dismissal for her illegal activity, as well as the full faith and backing of America’s financial institutions.  If you ask me, that’s where our outrage should be directed.  Cantor is just one of many in the political system who’ve taken us down that road.  Shame on him, yes, but shame on us for ignoring the bigger picture!

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‘Nuff Said!


Remind you of something?


The Muslim community in Riverside, California wants to build a community center/place of worship on land that they own in that town.  A conservative coalition that has been active with Republican and Tea Party functions sent an e-mail alert  to area newspapers  announcing they will hold  a one-hour “singing – praying – patriotic rally” beginning  at 12:30 p.m.  Friday, July 30 at the Islamic Center’s existing facility. That happens to be the time of day when Muslims gather for their congregational prayer. The email  recommended participants “bring your Bibles, flags, signs, dogs and singing voices.”

“We will not be submissive,” the notice proclaimed. “Our voices are going to be heard!” The alert went on to question what its authors described as Islamic beliefs. It suggested that participants sing during the rally because Muslim “women are forbidden to sing.” It suggested that rally participants bring dogs because Muslims “hate dogs.”

I can’t help but think this is what the organizers of this “event” had in mind when they thought about bringing dogs.  And yes, I had to go there.

The GOP: Not So Grand Anymore


Obama’s election sealed the fate for the Republican Party. It will continue to exist but in so many splintered forms and multi-faceted alliances it will look like a scene from The Survivor  television show.  The warnings of the demise of the party have been sounded for at least the last two years when the fruit cake, nutty birthers/tea baggers came along, but no one in the party seemed interested or they were afraid to speak out.  Now they are.

Too many Republican leaders are acquiescing to a poisonous “demagoguery” that threatens the party’s long-term credibility, says a veteran GOP House member who was defeated in South Carolina’s primary last month.

He cited a claim made famous by Palin that the Democratic health care bill would create “death panels” to decide whether elderly or sick people should get care.

“There were no death panels in the bill … and to encourage that kind of fear is just the lowest form of political leadership. It’s not leadership. It’s demagoguery,” said Inglis, one of three Republican incumbents who have lost their seats in Congress to primary and state party convention challengers this year.

Inglis said voters eventually will discover that you’re “preying on their fears” and turn away.

And again here

Warning that tea party “mischief” may be aiding Democrats this election season, defeated Utah Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett says that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid likely will keep his seat and that the GOP may not win hotly contested Senate races in Colorado or Kentucky either.In an interview in his home state with The Associated Press, Bennett also suggested that Republicans may not have a clear plan to govern even if they do take control of the Senate this year.

What this suggests is the GOP is fear mongering and led by  personalities who have nothing to lose  by the death of the Party due to their betrayal.  The likes of radio and television personalities with contracts larger than any athlete with the exception of LaBron can continue their daily on air diatribe with no consequences to themselves when the Party fails.  Departing Republican senators seem to suggest as well that their Party has no plan of action to govern since all they can do is prey on the fears of constituents about the dangers of one group or another .  Both articles speak to a lack of any initiative on the part of the GOP for constructive governance. Eventually, we are to blame for not holding their feet to the fire and demanding they get out of the cellar of race baiting, pitting one side of Americans against another, brand of politics.

Can we go any lower?


I hope this guy has an epiphany before he passes on and much like former Alabama governor George Wallace, takes retracts all the idiotic, stupid things he’s said in his lifetime.  I can’t believe he can possibly say anything more stupid than this

Now, I think it’s wrong to use racial profiling for the reasons of discriminating against people, but it’s not wrong to use race or other indicators for the sake of identifying that are violating the law.

It’s just a common sense thing. Law enforcement needs to use common sense indicators. Those common sense indicators are all kinds of things, from what kind of clothes people wear – my suit in my case – what kind of shoes people wear, what kind of accident [sic] (he meant accent….)they have, um, the, the type of grooming they might have, there’re, there’re all kinds of indicators there and sometimes it’s just a sixth sense and they can’t put their finger on it. But these law enforcement officers, if they were going to be discriminating against people on the sole basis of race, singling people out, that’d be going on already.

Is there any more to say here? You can read more about King’s bouts with diarrhea of the mouth here.

The Truth has been laid bare


It’s now painfully obvious why we went to war in Iraq. I agree with former CIA analyst Ray McGovern some of it was because of “oil”, “Israel” and “logistics”, which form the acronym, oil.  The “O” in that word really was the main reason, but on an even larger level there were more and other business interests to satisfy.  Basically however, a former US businessman then President sent Americans over to fight a war to increase his bottom line, his ledger, his accounts; war is profitable to the American economy and all that’s left to do is figure out how to get people to willing sacrifice their sons and daughters to fight such a war, even when there is no other reason to do so than the personal profitability of the commander in chief and his associates, and then execute that war, not towards a successful conclusion but for as long as it takes to get corporate America back in the black.  Now you know why no one wants to talk of withdrawal from Iraq or any other war zone, because such decisions are made when the markets and other economic indicators say it is time to do so and not one day before.

So while partisan politics takes potshots across the great political divide over the ever scandalous BP disaster, intimating that one side or the other is benefiting from the largest eco catastrophe in American history, let them not forget we fight wars where we kill people and get killed in order to revitalize our economy.  In essence we fight people who are defenseless; we kill people who mean us no harm, we destroy whole societies, many of them older than our own because we can and because it’s good for business.  It has nothing to do with defending the homeland, it has nothing to do with promoting democracy or even capitalism and it has nothing to do with helping the weak or the oppressed. The blood of your loved ones and the ones they kill increases the profit margins of the ones who send those very loved ones off to meaningless and perpetual war. How do you like that America?!