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.

 

This man deserves his props


Jason R. ThigpenI don’t know him, but I like what he’s written

After discussing it with my wife and family, I’ve decided to run as a Democrat rather than a Republican. I simply cannot stand with a Party where its most extreme element promote hate and division amongst people. Nothing about my platform has, nor will it change. The government shutdown was simply the straw that broke the camels back. I guess being an American just isn’t good enough anymore and I refuse to be part of an extremist movement in the GOP that only appears to thrive on fear and hate mongering of anyone and everyone who doesn’t walk their line. We’ve received some wonderful support by numerous leaders and members within the NC GOP, as the vast majority of Republicans are wonderful, hard-working people that don’t agree with those radical nut-jobs either but unfortunately the extremists in the party, with their ‘burn it all down’ philosophy, appear to be the ones turning out the majority of voters in the primaries and mid-term elections. And I want the people to know there is a choice.

Jason R. Thigpen

You know we can hear you, right?


yelton

Don Yelton was his own self parody during this interview on The Daily Show

and he didn’t much seem to care even following the firestorm his interview created because in today’s Republican Party there are no negative repercussions for saying or doing things that are  racist and have an adverse effect on the public in general, but there are some times rewards and political gain to be had from such behavior.  Yelton himself testified to that doubling down on his remarks by saying that being kicked off the county election board following the Daily Show interview wasn’t the first time that happened to him and implying he’ll be back perhaps even stronger than he is now.

Yelton said he was previously removed from his position as a precinct chair in Buncombe County in 2012, but was re-elected at a three-person meeting by two votes — his own and his wife’s. He said he was previously removed for voicing what the party considered support for an independent candidate.

Yelton said he has been retired since he was fired 16 years ago from a job as a county waste reduction specialist. He was fired, essentially, for doing the job too well, he said.

“This isn’t my first rodeo,” he said.

He also noted that local Republicans have long complained that they can’t get enough media coverage, and that he had finally provided some.

There’s no reason to doubt him if you look at the way Republican leadership conducts itself; defeats are labelled victories, positions that are without principle are considered fundamental, basic truths and demagogic leaders are considered those who speak for the will of the people.  Such is the the state of  today’s #DemonicGOP.

Poetic justice, karma, what goes around comes around, call it what you want.


English: Official Congressional portrait of Co...

English: Official Congressional portrait of Congressman Peter King. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is rich….abandoned by his own party Peter King, R.NY takes to the airwaves to make his case against his own colleagues in the #DemonicGOP.

Rep. Peter King said many of his fellow House Republicans made New York representatives feel like “third world beggars” in pushing for the $60.4 billion post Superstorm Sandy relief package.

King, filling in for John Gambling on WOR-AM, said during an interview Gov. Cuomo that he found it “disgraceful” that many of his fellow Republican House members who were trying to block the post Sandy relief package for New York and New Jersey came form states that got emergency funds in the past.

He cited a New Jersey congressman who said on the floor that Congress now needs a “hypocrites conference” for those whose states received funding the past and now sought to deny the New York region what it was seeking.

“Quite frankly it’s going to be difficult going back and working with people you sit next to and whenever they were in need,, we responded immediately,” he said.”Not one member of Congress every voted against or said one word in opposition to aid going to other states  when the money was needed.”

“We were going around like third world beggars. At least they put us in that position.”

I have a lot of scorn for King however, who led hearings in the House of Representatives….at tax payer expense to prove something that actually doesn’t exist to the extent King says it does.  (You know, the Islamist threat) That bit of grandstanding however didn’t do him much good when it came time to rely on help for Hurricane Sandy relief that many of his colleagues scoffed at.  Back at ya’ pal.  Perhaps King should have called on help from some of his Muslim constituents who were on hand to help their fellow Americans, unlike King who chooses to denigrate his.

Is the GOP’s Islamophobia in retreat or is the whole of the GOP screwed?


3711525790_41aac3d736Mother Jones came up with the article, The GOP’s Anti-Muslim Wing Is in Retreat with several anecdotes they say point to such a decline, in which they claim

…after a November election that saw three of the party’s loudest voices on “creeping Shariah” defeated—and the GOP presidential nominee ignore the issue entirely—the anti-Islam movement within the Republican party may have peaked. Wary of further alienating a once-promising conservative constituency, mainstream Republican leaders have sought, publicly and behind closed doors, to distance themselves from the loudest of the Muslim-bashers in their midst.

…Randa Fahmy Hudome, a former Bush administration official, Washington lobbyist, and prominent Muslim Republican, notes: “There is a self-policing factor in the Republican party, when some members get a little off base on some of these issues. That’s the state of play right now.”

However the problem is not that racists are on the wane in the GOP and thus not able to mount an offensive against America’s Muslim population, the issue is one of the GOP’s own inadequacy in dealing with ANYTHING related to policy.  From issues of women’s reproductive rights, where GOP candidates for office put their foot in their mouths regarding rape and abortion, to issues of the economy where a disorganized GOP saw its House Majority Leader vote against a bill that the Speaker of the House voted for, the GOP is to today’s politics the equivalence of the Keystone Cops, bungling over themselves without any design or purpose.  It’s no wonder Islamophobia has escaped them……they can’t agree on anything nor make any effective statement about anything else!  And if you think this is hyperbole, watch how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did what has never been done before in the halls of Congress…filibuster his own motion in the Senate.

Even more recently Speaker of the House John Boehner was reamed a new one by Islamophobe Peter King over Boehner’s refusal to put on the floor of the House for a vote a bill for funds for Hurricane Sandy relief that directly affects King’s constituency.   King went so far as to say, the day after the bill didn’t appear, that he would urge everyone not to make  any financial contributions to his own Party’s coffers.  He’s  since ameliorated his remarks after being called an a$$hole by Boehner and being reasured the House would vote on relief funds; a really strange conflated way of dealing with matters of policy and collegiality if there ever was one. King as you remember was one of the Party’s stalwarts who led House hearings on the “threat” radical Islam posed to the Homeland and it seems almost like poetic justice that he would be snubbed and then insulted in much the same way he did to many of his Muslim constituents.  However, this points to the dysfunction of the Republican party in ways not seen in recent history.

There is still plenty of kindling available on the American landscape for the GOP to ignite as they gather allies in their march towards power.  In fact inciting racial animus has been a mainstay of political ascendancy in America and there’s no reason to think the party, once it gets its act together won’t resort to that tried and true tactic called demagoguery and whether you agree or disagree that hate crimes, i.e. those against Muslims, are on the wane or not, it’s still true that Muslims are targets of hate in America. A brief look at the headlines here, here and here are anecdotal evidence enough to point to the gold mine the GOP can cultivate when they have the presence of mind to get their act together and do so.

 

Is it time for racial profiling?


Group photoIn an era of collective punishment where we’ve seen how the acts of one person are enough to draw calls for punishing everyone that emotionally, physically, religiously, ideologically  identifies with a heinous perpetrator maybe it IS time to profile young white men. David Sirota asks that question then shoots it down because as he points out ‘white men as a subgroup are in such a privileged position in our society that they are the one group that our political system avoids demographically profiling or analytically aggregating in any real way‘ but after the Newton shooting tragedy if we believe in the 2nd amendment instead of assaulting that privilege/right given us by the founding fathers  perhaps we should put aside talk of “gun control” and look at who commits such catastrophic crimes of mass murder that involve guns. Sirota’s column is a thought provoking read

Yesterday, during a cable news discussion of gun violence and the Newtown school shooting, I dared mention a taboo truism. During a conversation on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes,” I said that because most of the mass shootings in America come at the hands of white men, there would likely be political opposition to initiatives that propose to use those facts to profile the demographic group to which these killers belong. I suggested that’s the case because as opposed to people of color or, say, Muslims, white men as a subgroup are in such a privileged position in our society that they are the one group that our political system avoids demographically profiling or analytically aggregating in any real way. Indeed, unlike other demographic, white guys as a group are never thought to be an acceptable topic for any kind of critical discussion whatsoever, even when there is ample reason to open up such a discussion.

My comment was in response to U.S. Rep. James Langevin (D) floating the idea of employing the Secret Service for such profiling, and I theorized that because the profiling would inherently target white guys, the political response to such an idea might be similar to the Republican response to the 2009 Homeland Security report looking, in part, at the threat of right-wing terrorism. As you might recall, the same GOP that openly supports profiling — and demonizing — Muslims essentially claimed that the DHS report was unacceptable because its focus on white male terrorist groups allegedly stereotyped (read: offensively profiled) conservatives.

For making this point, I quickly became the day’s villain in the right-wing media. From the Daily Caller, to Fox News, to Breitbart, to Glenn Beck’s the Blaze, to all the right-wing blogs and Twitter feeds that echo those outlets’ agitprop, I was attacked for “injecting divisive racial politics” into the post-Newtown discussion (this is a particularly ironic attack coming from Breitbart – the same website that manufactured the Shirley Sherrod fiasco).

The conservative response to my statement, though, is the real news here.

Let’s review: Any honest observer should be able to admit that if the gunmen in these mass shootings mostly had, say, Muslim names or were mostly, say, African-American men, the country right now wouldn’t be confused about the causes of the violence, and wouldn’t be asking broad questions. There would probably be few queries or calls for reflection, and mostly definitive declarations blaming the bloodshed squarely on Islamic fundamentalism or black nationalism, respectively. Additionally, we would almost certainly hear demands that the government intensify the extant profiling systems already aimed at those groups.

Yet, because the the perpetrators in question in these shootings are white men and not ethnic or religious minorities, nobody is talking about demographic profiling them as a group. The discussion, instead, revolves around everything from gun control, to mental health services, to violence in entertainment — everything, that is, except trying to understanding why the composite of these killers is so similar across so many different massacres. This, even though there are plenty of reasons for that topic to be at least a part of the conversation.

Recounting the truth of these double standards is, of course, boringly mundane, which means my comment on television summarizing them is an equally boring and mundane statement of the obvious. However, as evidenced by the aggressive attempt to turn those comments into controversial headline-grabbing news over the weekend, the conservative movement has exposed its desperation — specifically, its desperation to preserve its White Victimization Mythology.

In this mythology, the white man as a single demographic subgroup can never be seen as a perpetrator and must always be portrayed as the unfairly persecuted scapegoat. In this mythology, to even reference an undeniable truth about how white privilege operates on a political level (in this case, to prevent a government profiling system of potential security threats even though such a system exists for other groups) is to be guilty of both “injecting divisive racial politics” and somehow painting one’s “opponents as racist” — even when nobody called any individual a racist.

In this mythology, in short, to mention truths about societal double standards — truths that are inconvenient or embarrassing to white people — is to be targeted for attack by the right-wing media machine.

Of course, just as I didn’t make such an argument yesterday on MSNBC, I’m not right now arguing for a system of demographically profiling white guys as a means of stopping mass murderers (that’s right, the headline at Beck’s website, the Blaze, is categorically lying by insisting I did make such an argument, when the MSNBC video proves that’s not even close to true). After all, broad demographic profiling is not only grotesquely bigoted in how it unduly stereotypes whole groups, it also doesn’t actually work as a security measure and runs the risk of becoming yet another Big Brother-ish monster (this is especially true when a lawmaker is forwarding the idea of deploying a quasi-military apparatus like the Secret Service).

Additionally, I’m not saying we should avoid the complex discussion about myriad issues (gun control, mental health, violence in Hollywood products, etc.) that we are having in the aftermath of the Connecticut tragedy. On the contrary, I believe it is good news that those nuanced conversations — rather than simplistic calls for punitive measures against a demographic group — are able to happen, and it’s particularly good news that they are persisting in the face of pro-gun extremists’ best effort to polarize the conversation.

But the point here is that those tempered and nuanced conversations are only able to happen because the demographic at the center of it all is white guys. That is the one group in America that gets to avoid being referred to in aggregate negative terms (and gets to avoid being unduly profiled by this nation’s security apparatus), which means we are defaulting to a much more dispassionate and sane conversation — one that treats the perpetrators as deranged individuals, rather than typical and thus stereotype-justifying representatives of an entire demographic.

While such fair treatment should be the norm for all citizens, the double standard at work makes clear it is still a special privilege for a select white few. That’s the issue at the heart of my comment on MSNBC — and it is a pressing problem no matter how much the conservative media machine wants to pretend it isn’t.

An appropriate metamorphisis


Islamophobe Pamela Geller and her minions are at it again with their attempts to demonize and dehumanize Muslims by having the public transportation system of San Francisco display the sign below

 

The words come from an Ayn Rand quote

If you mean whose side should we be on: Israel or the Arabs? I would certainly say Israel because it’s the advanced, technological, civilized country amidst a group of almost totally primitive savages

It’s clear from this quote where Rand’s head was; she was an atheist Zionist who eschewed faith but promoted racism and Geller seems to follow in her footsteps.  It’s interesting to note that the Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is also an admirer of Rand claiming his interest in her is because of her views on capitalism and limited government, however one cannot help but wonder how long will it be before he also becomes  influenced by her racism and colonialism.

The appearance of Geller’s display on public transportation did not go unnoticed or unchallenged, but the San Francisco municipality deemed it met the standards of an ad to appear on their vehicles and so it has.  However, it hasn’t gone completely unchallenged.  Someone has seen fit to edit the message appropriately enough to drive home the point that Geller most likely did not have in mind. I like it…it’s graffiti that sends a clear message, and I applaud the “artist” who rendered it so.  It’s all about free speech.  Hat tip to   @ZahraBilloo  on Twitter

 

Another homegrown massacre and the best analysis of why


Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Juan Cole’s Informed Comment blog has put forth the best take on the murder in Milwaukee of members of the Sikh community as an I’ve seen advanced.  America wants to forget this latest reminder of her violent nature, coming so soon after the massacre that took place in Aurora, but Cole nails down what it is that’s taking place with this latest episode of mass murder. Below is just an excerpt. Please take the time to read the entire article here.

We still have only rumors about Wade Michael Page, the gunman who walked into a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin near Milwaukee and opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon (weapons that should be illegal) on men women and children beginning to gather for a day of worship, singing and feasting…..

Page is said to have served in the military, discharged for misconduct in 1998.

He is said to have had a 9/11 tattoo.

He likely thought he was targeting American Muslims. He operated in an atmosphere of virulent hate speech against American Muslims. A discourse of Islamophobia has plagued the United States in the past decade, pushed by unscrupulous bigots in public life and by entire media organizations such as Fox Cable News and other media properties of billionaire yellow press lord Rupert Murdoch.

Among the hatemongers are Frank Gaffney, and his acolyte Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), Rep. Peter King (R-NY) Daniel Pipes, James Woolsey, Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson, John Bolton, and sometimes Rudi Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and others, most associated with the Republican Party. The push for hate speech against American Muslims is funded by a small group of billionaires through their foundations. Some of the Muslim-haters are connected to the US arms industry and are hoping for profits from further wars in the Middle East. Others are Israel-firster fanatics. Others are looking for a bogey man to scare Americans with, so as to convince them to vote against their interests, as they used Communism during the Cold War to convince ordinary Americans to give up their constitutional rights.

Page is said to have served in the military, discharged for misconduct in 1998.

He is said to have had a 9/11 tattoo.

He likely thought he was targeting American Muslims. He operated in an atmosphere of virulent hate speech against American Muslims. A discourse of Islamophobia has plagued the United States in the past decade, pushed by unscrupulous bigots in public life and by entire media organizations such as Fox Cable News and other media properties of billionaire yellow press lord Rupert Murdoch.

Among the hatemongers are Frank Gaffney, and his acolyte Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), Rep. Peter King (R-NY) Daniel Pipes, James Woolsey, Robert Spencer, Steve Emerson, John Bolton, and sometimes Rudi Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and others, most associated with the Republican Party. The push for hate speech against American Muslims is funded by a small group of billionaires through their foundations. Some of the Muslim-haters are connected to the US arms industry and are hoping for profits from further wars in the Middle East. Others are Israel-firster fanatics. Others are looking for a bogey man to scare Americans with, so as to convince them to vote against their interests, as they used Communism during the Cold War to convince ordinary Americans to give up their constitutional rights.

 

 

Spineless


, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

Image via Wikipedia

Rick Santorum is another one of the GOP candidates for president who should be roundly and openly “refudiated” for lacking the moral courage to confront and correct a lie when given the opportunity.  You can read about his cowardly approach to a questioner’s assertion that President Obama is a “Muslim” here. The article goes on to say even John McCain corrected someone when faced with a similar situation during the 2008 campaign, but Santorum chose to play to the fear of the crowd and let the statement go unanswered.  His even lamer excuse that it’s not his responsibility to correct every misguided claim only leads one to wonder if elected how would he address lies that affect the national interest.  Would he be as pusillanimous with them as well?  Would he lead the country into war because he is unable to correct mistaken notions about adversaries, or believe that the people on the other end of the lie  should be thick skinned enough to withstand US military intervention?  America, these are the choices the GOP has presented us;  the likes of people who aspire to be our leaders and lead based on racial animosity, loathing, hatred, and fear.  Perhaps the GOP has become irrelevant to the life of this Nation….perhaps it’s time to “refudiate” the entire Party of people who want to take the country in this direction.  Then of course, there’s Ron Paul……..

Watching the GOP implode


Gingrich just won the SC GOP primary and the rats can’t distance themselves fast enough from him.  A quick look at the GOP’s unofficial news rag, The Drudgereport,  found banner headlines…..ALL of them disparaging Gingrich in such language as to leave no doubt where the allegiances of the “real” conservatives of the party are:

Romney is the most electable candidate not only because it will be nearly impossible for the media to demonize this self-made Mormon square, devoted to his wife and church, but precisely because he is the most conservative candidate.  Ann Coulter

Conservatives should not be surprised by the scandals that lie ahead, if they stick with him(Gingrich). Those of us, who raised the question of character in 1992, were confronted by an indignant Bill Clinton, treating the topic as a low blow. To listen to him, character was the “c” word of American politics. It was reprehensible to mention it. By now we know. Character matters. Paul, Santorum, and Romney have it. Newt has Clinton’s character. R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr.

Gingrich was voluble and certain in predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong. Elliott Abrams

All of the folks above have bona fide conservative credentials….as much if not more so than Gingrich himself and they’re telling people that Gingrich….in so many words is a joke!  It doesn’t help Gingrich any that all of this criticism is coming out before the GOP primary in Florida which is less than a week away where polls had shown Gingrich in the lead.  It’s clear this criticism is meant to influence the outcome of that primary and slow Gingrich’s momentum. But it’s not even subtle any more; conservatives and especially those who idolize Reagan are coming out with their fangs bared against Gingrich in a way not seen too often in the GOP and it’s rather entertaining to watch.

Gingrich does have issues, but he is conveniently ensconced in the right party for them.  He’s a demagogue and a race baiter…something he shares with Santorum and Cain and some would say Paul, and he’s a liar. Something he shares with the last Republican administration in the White House.  Check out his latest lie, exposed by CNN regarding his defense against the coming out by his ex-wife  of Gingrich’s alternative lifestyle

“Tonight, after persistent questioning by our staff, the Gingrich campaign concedes now Speaker Gingrich was wrong — both in his debate answer, and in our interview yesterday,” King said on tonight’s edition of John King USA. “Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says the only people the Gingrich campaign offered to ABC were his two daughters from his first marriage.”

Producers, sponsors, news directors must be cutting a jig on all the newsroom floors of CNN over this news, especially since Gingrich publicly embarrassed John King to thunderous applause for posing the question about Marianne’s claims in the debate before the SC primary.  Somewhere the God of Justice has just put a smack down on Gingrich’s smugness but like most megalomaniacs Gingrich will neither be humbled or bowed…he’ll merely plod along against the tide of many within his party and outside of it too.  One has to wonder whether the two, Democrat and Republican, won’t team up to get rid of this thorn in everyone’s side.  I could possibly see a bipartisan dirty tricks/black bag group dedicated to spreading  salacious stories emanating of Gingrich’s dark side.  It seems for the moment, Gingrich has even overtaken Obama in raising the ire of conservatives.  Ahh…sometimes payback can be entertaining to watch/read as well as rewarding.

A Prophet ignored


Marianne Gingrich stepped up to the plate to warn America about the man, her ex-husband Newt Gingrich, who is running for president and what he’s really like, and America….and in particular the people of South Carolina rejected her.  Ms. Gingrich’s mission in taking to the airwaves was to show the hypocrisy of her former husband who speaks of family values while insisting on having sex with women not his wife; the same man who excoriated Bill Clinton for behavior he, Newt Gingrich, was engaging in at the same time.  But then as now, it’s not about “sex” as it is about trust, honesty, commitment and individual integrity.  How can anyone trust Gingrich seems to be the unspoken plea of Ms. Gingrich and it’s a reasonable question to ask.  Newt Gingrich’s response to that question posed during the GOP debate in South Carolina was typical.  He lashed out at the questioner, the media in general and Obama to the applause of many in the audience which let him completely side step the issue,  and so it has died. Such is the fate of “prophets” whose mission it is to warn people of the consequences of immoral behavior, and like the prophets of old, Ms. Gingrich has become the object of neglect. Let us not forget too that after grave warnings of moral ineptitude, societies which hosted these “prophets” fell into disrepair and ruin.  As our society teeters on the precipice, a faltering economy, an exhausted military, treacherous allies and a society at war with itself on our own shores….can we afford to ignore such warnings?

Ron Paul and Israel


 

Ron Paul was not invited to the The Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC)  forum on Wednesday, December 7 because the hosts think Paul is  “too extreme” or has views they think are not consistent with the GOP.  However if you listen to the above video, Paul says all the right things; he supports Israel’s right to say whether or not Iran is an existential threat to Israel and should be attacked, he agrees that Israel has the right to determine its own borders, independent of outside influence or pressure….he claims to have supported Israel’s strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, purporting to be the only voice of support within the US government at that time. So why is it that such a candidate would receive a snub from a group of Republicans when he so clearly has consistently supported Israel?

The reason for Jewish Republican ire is the very first statement he made in the video above when he said he is a non-interventionist.  Despite all the things Paul believes in vis-a-vis Israel he is not willing to lend that country unconditional support for things that are not shared, mutual interests.  He is able to separate American interests, the political entity he is seeking to lead, from Israeli interest and where the two do not meet, he’s not willing to sacrifice American interests for Israel, and that is a problem for Israel firsters.  Paul, until now, has been able to resist the conflation of the two countries into one all encompassing, inseparable  interest.  In so doing he’s acknowledged American financial, military, and human resources will not always be available for Israeli capriciousness and that seems to be the problem with Jewish supporters of Israel here in America. It seems Israel would prefer the political infighting and strong arming that has come with previous Republican administrations that opposed, on the face of things, Israel policies with respect to her borders and neighbors, but who would at some point caved and gave them the money and materiel requested to continue Israeli expansionist policy.  Paul’s policy statements on Israel are indeed consistent with Israeli interests, except for  American financial and military support and oddly enough just as Paul asserts,  these ideas are consistent with the GOP platform.  However, today’s body politic has taken such a far turn to the right and American politicians go through such extremes to genuflect before Israel and her supporters here and there in Israel, Paul can be successfully painted as an outsider or even an anti-Semite due to his stance.

One last interesting note to make about the forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition is none of the other GOP candidates expressed support for Paul’s presence at the event.  It would appear that there is no possibility of dialogue when it comes to Israel….it is not welcomed, supported, or even sought after.  It is  a self imposed censorship the participants seem to be particularly interested in maintaining.  Not one voice was raised to protest Paul’s exclusion from the forum, yet the ever clownish Donald Trump “debate” has already had three GOP candidates say they will not attend, Ron Paul being one of them, amid cries that the debate is no more than a publicity stunt for Trump, in a way to legitimize and insert himself into the political process.  That Trump debate however, has received round condemnation from at least 3 candidates and various pundits.  For the moment, America’s politics have been taken hostage by naked Israeli self-interests which spare no dissent from a complete and total surrender thereof.  Ron Paul is another recent victim of this trend.

The Republican Refrain of Dissin’ the President


Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

We’ve written extensively here on Miscellany101 about how the GOP is the obstructionist/racist party of today’s America.  It’s really bad however when their partisanship interferes with their governance and what’s good for the public they say they serve.  Why anyone would  accept the declaration of their party’s titular head and one of its stalwarts that it wants to pursue a strategy to soil a sitting president’s term, even if it means pursuing goals that prove detrimental to the country is astonishing, to say the least.  Especially when this president, Obama, has  in cases of foreign policy, almost mirrored the stance taken by George Bush, in effect saving a lot of Bush appointees from the embarrassing specter of being tried for high crimes and misdemeanors, the Republican’s position is meant to humiliate Obama and the country too for electing him.

It’s particulary bad however when former conservatives call the GOP out on their racist tendencies, like this one here

So, Boehner, using the phony excuse that Congress wouldn’t be back in session until 6:30 p.m.—as Roger Simon points out Congress was technically never out of session, a move designed to keep Obama from making recess appointments—essentially did what Massa Rush said to do and he put the uppity Negro in his place.

There you have it, all you doubters about the motives of these guys.  Straight from the mouth of the de facto chairman of the Republican Party.  John Boehner put Obama “in his place.” The President of the United States got “smacked down,” as he “attempted to force his way to the front of the line.”

and no one blinks an eye.  But we’re not done……..

Democratic Governors Association Chair and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said Thursday that Republicans were opposed to any plan proposed by President Barack Obama that could lead to job creation.

“I firmly believe that Republicans in Congress, driven by a concerted group, have decided that it is not in their party’s political interest to have the president succeed at creating any jobs,” he said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “And I believe therefore they will do their very best to deny him any victories that could lead to job creation or a speedier recovery.”

“I don’t think there is another rational explanation for much of their opposition,” O’Malley added.

There’s is another explanation, and it lies in the comments of Limbaugh and his ditto heads. It’s about putting the black guy in his place.  The GOP has taken a decidedly antagonistic position in American politics…an ‘in your face’ approach to its opponents and the American people.  We vote for them…….we can NOT vote for them the next time they come up for reelection!

People making their voices heard


This is democracy in action in the state of Wisconsin!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

All those cowering in fear about an impending sharia take over of America, ignore the fear mongerers and fear no more


GOP Presidential Debate June 13, 2011 in New H...

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

It’s all a “myth”, but that’s something I’ve been telling you many times here and at the same time highlighting the incendiary, racist and seditious nature of those who are trying to scare the Nation into enforcing a pogrom against Muslims in America. So, read carefully

If you are not vitally concerned about the possibility of radical Muslims infiltrating the U.S. government and establishing a Taliban-style theocracy, then you are not a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. In addition to talking about tax policy and Afghanistan, Republican candidates have also felt the need to speak out against the menace of “sharia.”

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum refers to sharia as “an existential threat” to the United States. Pizza magnate Herman Cain declared in March that he would not appoint a Muslim to a Cabinet position or judgeship because “there is this attempt to gradually ease sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government.”

The generally measured campaign of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty leapt into panic mode over reports that during his governorship, a Minnesota agency had created a sharia-compliant mortgage program to help Muslim homebuyers. “As soon as Gov. Pawlenty became aware of the issue,” spokesman Alex Conant assured reporters, “he personally ordered it shut down.”

On Religion
Faith. Religion. Spirituality. Meaning. In our ever-shrinking world, the tentacles of religion touch everything from governmental policy to individual morality to our basic social constructs. It affects the lives of people of great faith — or no faith at all. This series of weekly columns — launched in 2005 — seeks to illuminate the national conversation.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has been perhaps the most focused on the sharia threat. “We should have a federal law that says under no circumstances in any jurisdiction in the United States will sharia be used,” Gingrich announced at last fall’s Values Voters Summit. He also called for the removal of Supreme Court justices (a lifetime appointment) if they disagreed.

Gingrich’s call for a federal law banning sharia has gone unheeded so far. But at the local level, nearly two dozen states have introduced or passed laws in the past two years to ban the use of sharia in court cases.

Despite all of the activity to monitor and restrict sharia, however, there remains a great deal of confusion about what it actually is. It’s worth taking a look at some facts to understand why an Islamic code has become such a watchword in the 2012 presidential campaign.

What is sharia?

More than a specific set of laws, sharia is a process through which Muslim scholars and jurists determine God’s will and moral guidance as they apply to every aspect of a Muslim’s life. They study the Quran, as well as the conduct and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, and sometimes try to arrive at consensus about Islamic law. But different jurists can arrive at very different interpretations of sharia, and it has changed over the centuries.

Importantly, unlike the U.S. Constitution or the Ten Commandments, there is no one document that outlines universally agreed upon sharia.

Then how do Muslim countries use sharia for their systems of justice?

There are indeed some violent and extreme interpretations of sharia. That is what the Taliban used to rule Afghanistan. In other countries, sharia may be primarily used to govern contracts and other agreements. And in a country like Turkey, which is majority Muslim, the national legal system is secular, although individual Muslims may follow sharia in their personal religious observances such as prayer and fasting. In general, to say that a person follows sharia is to say that she is a practicing Muslim.

How and when is it used in U.S. courts?

Sharia is sometimes consulted in civil cases with Muslim litigants who may request a Muslim arbitrator. These may involve issues of marriage contracts or commercial agreements, or probating an Islamic will. They are no different than the practice of judges allowing orthodox Jews to resolve some matters in Jewish courts, also known as beth din.

U.S. courts also regularly interpret foreign law in commercial disputes between two litigants from different countries, or custody agreements brokered in another country. In those cases, Islamic law is treated like any other foreign law or Catholic canon law.

What about extreme punishments like stoning or beheading?

U.S. judges may decide to consider foreign law or religious codes like sharia, but that doesn’t mean those laws override the Constitution. We have a criminal justice system that no outside law can supersede. Additionally, judges consider foreign laws only if they choose to — they can always refuse to recognize a foreign law.

So if sharia is consulted only in certain cases and only at the discretion of the court, why has it become such a high priority for states and GOP candidates? One answer is that sharia opponents believe they need to act not to prevent the way Islamic law is currently used in the U.S. but to prevent a coming takeover by Muslim extremists. The sponsor of an Oklahoma measure banning sharia approved by voters last fall described it as “a pre-emptive strike.” Others, like the conservative Center for Security Policy, assert that all Muslims are bound to work to establish an Islamic state in the U.S.

But if that was true — and the very allegation labels every Muslim in America a national security threat — the creeping Islamic theocracy movement is creeping very slowly. Muslims first moved to the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, for example, nearly a century ago to work in Henry Ford‘s factories. For most of the past 100 years, Dearborn has been home to the largest community of Arabs in the U.S. And yet after five or six generations, Dearborn’s Muslims have not sought to see the city run in accordance with sharia. Bars and the occasional strip clubs dot the town’s avenues, and a pork sausage factory is located next to the city’s first mosque.

Maybe Dearborn’s Muslims are just running a very drawn-out head fake on the country. It’s hard to avoid the more likely conclusion, however, that politicians who cry “Sharia!” are engaging in one of the oldest and least-proud political traditions — xenophobic demagoguery. One of the easiest ways to spot its use is when politicians carelessly throw around a word simply because it scares some voters.

Take Gerald Allen, the Alabama state senator who was moved by the danger posed by sharia to sponsor a bill banning it — but who, when asked for a definition, could not say what sharia was. “I don’t have my file in front of me,” he told reporters. “I wish I could answer you better.” In Tennessee, lawmakers sought to make following sharia a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison — until they learned that their effort would essentially make it illegal to be Muslim in their state.

During last year’s Senate race in Nevada, GOP candidate Sharon Angle blithely asserted that Dearborn, as well as a small town in Texas, currently operate under sharia law. And Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann used the occasion of Osama bin Laden’s death to tie the terrorist mastermind to the word: “It is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”

The anti-communist Red Scare of the 1950s made broad use of guilt by innuendo and warnings about shadowy conspiracies. If GOP candidates insist they are not doing the same thing to ordinary Muslims, they can prove it by explaining what they believe sharia is and whether they’re prepared to ban the consideration of all religious codes from civil arbitration. Anything less is simply fear mongering.

fear mongering has become a tenet of the Republican Party and many of those who’ve run for political office in that party; by promoting a non-existing threat Republicans have relegated themselves to a party of irrelevance.  Vote for them at your and the Nation’s peril.

Oh, for Fox Sake – Stewart Eviscerates Stewart and in doing so points to more Right Wing hypocrisy


Media’s right wing spin machine’s attacks on Stewart’s parody of Cain was not only immature but underscores their victimology tactic when it comes to criticism they receive. They are thin skinned and emotionally immature. There was nothing ever to their claim in the beginning that Stewart was racist and so to make them not look so childish and irrelevant, Stewart lets them off the hook by pointing out some of his other dare we say “racist” parodies. Is there any reason why you look at FoxNews besides Stewart’s comic relief?
Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

It’s time to call a spade a spade and a bigot a bigot


Muslim bashing by GOP candidates? Nothing new here
By John L. Esposito (I’m glad I’m not the only one who has noticed!)

It’s no surprise that two candidates could not resist playing the “Muslim card” in the recent GOP debate. The bigger surprise is that more candidates did not follow suit.

Park 51 (the plan to build the so-called mosque at ground zero) surfaced the deep roots of fear of Islam and Muslims and triggered a tsunami of hate crimes. Shariah has become the code word and symbol to exploit voters fears and engage in Islam and Muslim-bashing without any push-back because nobody, including most of the candidates, knows what it is. And lets us not forget the Peter King congressional hearings.

Poor Herman Cain knows shariah is a problem, but does not know what it is or why it is a problem? Cain is “uncomfortable” including a Muslim in his cabinet or having one as federal judge because “…there is creeping attempt to gradually ease Shariah Law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong to our government.”

Cain insisted, “There have been instances in New Jersey and Oklahoma where Muslims did try to influence court decisions with Sharia Law.” Is he sure? If so, who, when and where? Why does fellow Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey refuse to toe that line? Pressed in the debate as to why he would not be comfortable having a Muslim in his administration, he replied, ‘I wouldn’t be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and militant Muslims – those that are trying to kill us. I meant the ones that are trying to kill us.’ So would he appoint African Americans, Hispanics, Italian-Americans and members of other groups associated with past crime waves or whose members have been imprisoned for violent crimes?

Cain wants to question Muslims about their commitment to the Constitution “to make sure we have people committed to the Constitution working for this country.” But he wouldn’t do the same with Christians or Jews. So much for equality of all citizens.

Newt Gingrich could not afford to be “left” behind: “I’m in favor of saying to people, ‘If you’re not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period.’ We did this in dealing with the Nazis and we did this in dealing with the communists and it was controversial both times, and both times we discovered, after a while, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. And we have got to have the guts to stand up and say no.”

So ALL Muslims, not just an infinitely small number of terrorists, are to be compared to Nazis and communists? Is that the magnitude of the threat? Gingrich and Cain should be real patriots and turn over their evidence to the FBI, Justice Department, Homeland Security and local police because law enforcement offices certainly have not found evidence to support these allegations.

Surprisingly, Tim Pawlenty did not weigh in. Pawlenty has touted the fact that he shut down a program for Sharia compliant mortgages, a program whose creation his administration initially supported. Of course you can’t blame him because, like other candidates, he knows that many potential voters from the right wing of the Republican Party believe Sharia-compliant finance is part of a stealth jihad to subvert the Constitution.

The far right is long on fear mongering and short on providing supportive evidence. They ignore major polls by Gallup, Pew and others that show that the vast majority of Muslims are politically, economically middle class and educationally integrated into American society. Their desire not to be confused by the facts contributes to a growing climate of Islamophobia that has led to discrimination, hate crimes, violence, desecration of mosques and the violation of the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. Surveys have shown that Muslims are not looking to install Islamic law in the U.S., promote terrorism or undermine the American Constitution.

Let’s get it right. Should candidates address issues of national security and concerns about Muslim terrorists in America? Of course they should. What candidates have succumbed to is the exploitation of legitimate fear about domestic terrorism with the brush stroking (or perhaps better the tar and feathering) of a faith and the majority of its mainstream believers. Most states that have moved to pass anti-Shariah legislation have not acted because of a major Muslim attempt to replace American law with Islamic law. Indeed, as a mystified Muslim in North Dakota said when a legislator announced he would push for anti-sharia legislation: “There are only 2,000 of us in the entire state.” In fact, there are far more right wing politicians, political commentators and Islamophobes talking about Shariah than the vast majority of American Muslims who, like Jews and Christians and followers of other faiths, accept and follow the Constitution and American laws.

It’s time to call a spade a spade, a bigot a bigot and stop those who would resurrect the intolerance of the past and add Muslims to a long list of groups that has included Jews, African Americans, World War II Japanese Americans and others who have been victims of religious discrimination and racism.

Peter King-At it again-Racism and bigotry in the US Congress


It should come as no surprise that King is back at hammering his racist meme of the threatening Muslim terrorist.  It’s probably an orgasmic experience for him to have the bright TV  lights and media attention on him while he makes his case for fear and instability in America.  It’s a tiring rehash of the racism America has for too long been accustomed. This time he wanted to focus on “radicalization” of Islam in the prisons, yet King didn’t call anyone from the federal Bureau of Prisons to make that case.  Instead he and his fellow GOP members along with a few experts repeated the same tired rhetoric for which little substantiation was given.  So because we’ve heard it all before, let’s read what others not so insanely committed to bigotry and divisiveness have to say.

There is no question that a congressional hearing, which targets an entire religion, is morally and strategically wrong-headed. First, it is un-American. This is not the America that I know and have helped build as a lifelong public servant. The America that I know has always provided refuge for those fleeing persecution, from early settlers to recent refugees. The America that I know does not hate and discriminate based on race, religion or creed.

Second, it is counterproductive. King is undermining his own objective. In hosting these hearings, King, as chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has declared, erroneously, that the Muslim-American community does not partner actively enough to prevent acts of violence—or in the case of prisons, extremism. Despite the offensive and fallacious nature of King’s concern, given extensive evidence that contradicts his claim, the Homeland Security chairman’s strategy makes future partnerships unpalatable. (Rep. Michael Honda)

I think the purpose of King’s hearings is to call into question the Americanness of U.S. Muslims by branding their religion a threat to the nation. And once again I observe that we have been here before, including in 1855 when Protestants circulated an image of Pope Pius IX crumbling the Constitution in his right hand while plunging a sceptre into an American eagle with his left…..the “real issue” here is not the radicalization of Islam in U.S. prisons. It is the sacrifice of American values of liberty and tolerance on the altar of anti-Islamic prejudice. More specifically, it is the abuse of the coercive power of the federal government (something conservatives used to care about) to attack one religion and one religion only. (Stephen Prothero)

The American Muslim blog has an excellent rundown of the above articles and others that clearly show the bias intent of King’s hearings and the deleterious effect they have on American politics and policy.  The one thing King does well is appeal to the basic instincts of his constituents and ostensibly everyone else with the time worn vices of hatred and fear.  Again and again we see and hear that coming from the GOP who live on the premise that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes believable or true. I got news for you King, baby…..that ain’t so!

Trouble spelled P-E-R-R-Y


Rick Perry, governor of Texas is trouble, no matter how you look at it.  He’s trouble for non-Christians and Christians alike, especially after his recent announcements here where he encroaches on everyone’s constitutional right to freedom of religion by proclaiming ‘there’s hope if people will seek out the living Christ.’ One can only guess what happens if you don’t seek out Christ….despair, hopelessness, darkness…..which leads me to Perry’s other troubling announcement, where he likens himself to a prophet!?!  So Prophet Perry wants to convert you to the living Christ, and refusing to accept his invitation means what for you the citizen of Texas and/or the United States?  Does this imagery come to mind to any of you, from a time when someone else maybe foisted upon  himself such divinity?