Political Scandals and The Priorities of True Patriots

Black and White Suspension Bridge wallpaper

Black and White Suspension Bridge wallpaper

Everyone can bicker around the edges, but no one believes the IRS should single out or target anyone based on politics. From the shrill whining it does seem like conservatives are enjoying and inflating a low level scandal. A scandal in which heads have already rolled, more than they want to admit. Remember whenever conservatives get into outrage mode, and I do mean whenever, they have always done it themselves , done more of it, done it to new lows, and done with with the dogged determination of a true nationalist zealot,   When the IRS targeted liberals. Under George W. Bush, it went after the NAACP, Greenpeace and even a liberal church.

While few are defending the Internal Revenue Service for targeting some 300 conservative groups, there are two critical pieces of context missing from the conventional wisdom on the “scandal.” First, at least from what we know so far, the groups were not targeted in a political vendetta — but rather were executing a makeshift enforcement test (an ugly one, mind you) for IRS employees tasked with separating political groups not allowed to claim tax-exempt status, from bona fide social welfare organizations. Employees are given almost zero official guidance on how to do that, so they went after Tea Party groups because those seemed like they might be political. Keep in mind, the commissioner of the IRS at the time was a Bush appointee.

The second is that while this is the first time this kind of thing has become a national scandal, it’s not the first time such activity has occurred.

“I wish there was more GOP interest when I raised the same issue during the Bush administration, where they audited a progressive church in my district in what look liked a very selective way,” California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on MSNBC Monday. “I found only one Republican, [North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones], that would join me in calling for an investigation during the Bush administration. I’m glad now that the GOP has found interest in this issue and it ought to be a bipartisan concern.”

It is perfectly legitimate for the IRS to question the 501(c)(4) status of political groups – are they really using those secret donations for public awareness/education or are they doing overt political activity . and thus cheating other tax payers.

Republicans are hoping for a bundle of scandals, true or not hardly matters, to get some air in their sails for the 2014 mid-terms. Only every inflated event they have tried to make into a scandal has fallen apart. They know this, so we have the general anger and frustration. It is a shame that conservatives have no sense of humor. They see no irony in comparing Obama to President Nixon ( a president that was too far left to be elected today),

References to Watergate, impeachment, even Richard Nixon, are being tossed around these days as if they were analogous to the current so-called scandals. But the furors over the IRS, Benghazi, and the Justice Department’s sweeping investigation of the Associated Press, don’t begin to rise—or sink—to that level. The wise and pithy Matt Dowd, a former Republican operative, said recently, “We rush to scandal before we settle on stupidity.” Washington just loves scandals; they’re ever so much more exciting than the daily grind of legislation—if there is any—and the tit-for-tat between the president and the congressional Republicans over the budget was becoming tedious. Faux outrage is a specialty here.

Obama, anxious not to be seen defending everybody’s punching bag, the IRS, quickly ceded ground on what could be perfectly defensible actions. He may come to regret taking what seemed a trigger-happy decision to order a criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service, a sure way to drag people who may have—may have—simply made errors of judgment through a long and expensive legal process that is likely also to keep the agency from examining the validity of the application for tax-free status of any group with powerful allies. If following the Citizens United decision there is a sudden doubling of the number of new organizations with similar names and missions and also with a clear political agenda suddenly spring up and apply for tax exempt status—and also the right to hide the names of their donors—might it not make sense to use a search engine to find them? This what the just-fired sacrificial acting IRS commissioner, testifying before a congressional committee on Friday, termed a “grouping” of the cases that had already been almost universally condemned as “targeting,” which he insisted it wasn’t. But this simple explanation wouldn’t do, didn’t warrant the term “outrage” routinely conferred on the IRS case. Could it just possibly be that the Tea Party and their allies see a great benefit in making a stink over this? How better to freeze the IRS examinations of these groups?

According to press reports none of the Tea Party groups have as yet been denied 501(c)(4) status, though this has happened to some liberal organizations. The real problem is that the process takes a long time and the questions are excessive, some even ridiculous. Pinning the whole thing on Obama—pinning all that they can of these “scandals” on him—gladdens most Republicans’ hearts. I say “most,” because such prominent conservative commentators as Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol have urged the Republicans to proceed with more caution, fearing that as often happens they will overdo it. And Republican congressional leaders have begun to worry that the troops may go too far, inviting the sort of backlash that smacked Newt Gingrich and his fellow revolutionaries in 1998, following their reckless impeachment of Bill Clinton, losing them seats and costing Gingrich his Speakership. It’s quite possible that some lower-rank government employees did some stupid things, and it’s clear that the agency had poor leadership (under a Bush-appointed director) but there is no evidence that any of this was directly or indirectly on the president’s orders.

Conservative priorities are not about what is good for the country anymore than Monsanto cares about about clean water or Mitt Romney cares about teachers. Like wife beaters who claim they’re doing for their wife’s own good, they see themselves as good people – the delusional usually do. If Republicans had patriotic priorities they’d care about the working poor getting enough to eat, they’d care about doing some simple thing that might bring down gun deaths, they’d care about sea level rise due to man-made climate change, they would care about the effects of the sequester on kids with cancer. The morally corrupt Darrell Issa (R-CA) would be having hearings on Congressional negligence in addressing these issues, but he would rather sit in a stupor repeating Benghazi, Benghazi Benghazi over and over again. Republicans would be writing endless long editorials about how so much of America’s financial sector has betrayed the social contract that makes democracy and capitalism possible, The 1 Percent Are Only Half the Problem

The decline of labor unions is what connects the skills-based gap to the 1 percent-based gap. Although conservatives often insist that the 1 percent’s richesse doesn’t come out of the pockets of the 99 percent, that assertion ignores the fact that labor’s share of gross domestic product is shrinking while capital’s share is growing. Since 1979, except for a brief period during the tech boom of the late 1990s, labor’s share of corporate income has fallen. Pension funds have blurred somewhat the venerable distinction between capital and labor. But that’s easy to exaggerate, since only about one-sixth of all households own stocks whose value exceeds $7,000. According to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, the G.D.P. shift from labor to capital explains fully one-third of the 1 percent’s run-up in its share of national income. It couldn’t have happened if private-sector unionism had remained strong.

These numbers are why conservative politicians and pundits spend so many hours of the week talking about someone on food stamps buying a can of soda, or some immigrant caught shop lifting, or pumping up small bureaucratic screw-ups into scandals. Detract the American public with pettiness so they’ll ignore the fact that they’re getting the shaft.

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From Mount FaceBook from where she pronounces all the rules to live by, Sarah Palin proclaims, “Mr. President, when it rains it pours, but most Americans hold their own umbrellas.

Anti-American loon Sarah Palin with umbrella holder

 

Benghazi – ABC Pushes Doctored Benghazi Emails and Documents Show Stevens Rejected Increased Security

Spring Beach wallpaper

Spring Beach wallpaper

Apparently at least some of the news division at ABC are in the bag for conservatives,  Who doctored a White House email?

Was ABC News used by someone with an ax to grind against the State Department? It looks possible. A key email in its “scoop” that the administration’s “talking points” on Benghazi had been changed a dozen times came from White House national security communications adviser Ben Rhodes. It seemed to confirm that the White House wanted the talking points changed to protect all agencies’ interests, “including those of the State Department,” in the words of the email allegedly sent by Rhodes.

But CNN’s Jake Tapper reveals that Rhodes’ email didn’t mention the State Department, and doesn’t even seem to implicitly reference it. The email as published by Karl differs significantly from the original obtained by Tapper.

According to ABC’s Jonathan Karl, Rhodes weighed in after State Department’s Victoria Nuland, who expressed concerns about the way the talking points might hurt “my building’s leadership.” ABC quotes Rhodes saying:

We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.

The email obtained by Tapper is very different.

Sorry to be late to this discussion. We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.

There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don’t compromise intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.

We can take this up tomorrow morning at deputies.

You can read the original here.

Significantly, the Rhodes email doesn’t even mention the controversial Benghazi talking points.

Who, just after ABC got the scoop with the doctored wording. The same radical far Right conservative sites always complaining about the “liberal” press: Townhall.com, The American Thinker, Hot Air, and Breitbart.com, The Daily Mail and National Review Online.

Whoever provided those quotes seemingly invented the notion that Rhodes wanted the concerns of the State Department specifically addressed. While Nuland, particularly, had expressed a desire to remove mentions of specific terrorist groups and CIA warnings about the increasingly dangerous assignment, Rhodes put no emphasis at all in his email on the State Department’s concerns.

The allegedly inaccurate characterizations of the Rhodes email by ABC News and The Weekly Standard were repeated in numerous media outlets, and a Republican research document.

Some might remember that Tapper practically played communications director for former S.C. Governor Mark Sanford during his infamous disappearance and the discovery of his affair. I do and don’t understand how hacks like  Jonathan Karl and Lou Dobbs keep jobs as supposedly straight up journalist when they’re always getting caught reading off the Republican fax machine. We certainly will not be hearing this news from ABC, nor probably even CNN for that matter, Ambassador Stevens twice said no to military offers of more security, U.S. officials say U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens

In the month before attackers stormed U.S. facilities in Benghazi and killed four Americans, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens twice turned down offers of security assistance made by the senior U.S. military official in the region in response to concerns that Stevens had raised in a still secret memorandum, two government officials told McClatchy.

What did the far Right’s newest hero Stevens’ deputy, Gregory Hicks have to say about the news that Stevens had rejected increased security,

Both Hicks and Ham declined to comment on the exchange between Ham and Stevens. Hicks’ lawyer, Victoria Toensing, said Hicks did not know the details of conversations between Stevens and Ham and was not aware of Stevens turning down an offer of additional security.

“As far as Mr. Hicks knows, the ambassador always wanted more security and they were both frustrated by not getting it,” she said.

M’s Toensing is a professional smear merchant for the conservative movement, so of course she doesn’t know about anything that conflicts with the fairy tale she made up with her client.

Update: In the previous version of this post I wrote Jake Tapper when I should have written  Jonathan Karl. Sorry about that.

Spring wallpaper – Conservatism Gets Orwellian About Words and Time

Tulip Spring wallpaper

Tulip Spring wallpaper

The Benghazi story has moved on in its own way. We’re not talking about what actually happened. We’re taking about how the Ts were crossed, why people used some words and not others and why something was not said ten minutes or two hours earlier. Another case of how the news is massaged, I write about the actual facts and it all comes out sounding like snark and satire when it is the literal truth. What ABC Left Out Of Its Report On Benghazi Talking Points

The report boiled down to two main points: that State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland — a former Dick Cheney aide — objected to including information in the talking points noting that the CIA had issued previous warnings that there was a threat to U.S. assets in Benghazi from al-Qaeda-linked groups because, Nuland said in an email, it “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?”

The second point was that Nuland objected to naming the terror groups the U.S. believed were involved in the attack because, she said, “we don’t want to prejudice the investigation.”

And with that, the ABC report suggests the State Department “scrubbed” the talking points of terror references as some sort of nefarious cover-up of what really happened in Benghazi for political reasons. This, of course, playing into the GOP’s conspiracy theory that President Obama was trying to preserve his campaign theme that his policies had significantly crippled the terror network.

The story soon set reporters and Twitter alight. “Scrubbing the truth from Benghazi,” a National Journal headline read. Even the BBC speculated that “heads will roll.”

But absent in ABC’s report is the key point that Obama and various members of his administration referred to the Benghazi assault as a terror attack on numerous occasions shortly after the incident (thereby negating the need to “scrub” any references in the talking points) and that then-CIA Director David Petraeus said the terrorist references were taken out to, as the New York Times reported, “avoid tipping off the groups” that may have been involved.

Obviously the White House disagreed with Nuland’s suggested framing of the situation. The White House referred to the attacks as terrorism in their first public statement the day after the attacks occurred. It has become an unhinged conservative obsession about the timing. What possible difference could it make if the president called the attacks terrorism 10 hours earlier or later. Some sociopaths murdered some decent Americans. Why has the conservative movement decided that the timing of announcements and actual events matter less than their weasel-like sense of timing. Conservatives keep having their talking points knocked down, so they invent new ones or repeat old ones, only louder: Fox News Promoted Claim That Benghazi Witness Was Threatened Falls Apart.

Via here, this handy chart gives a nice snapshot of the effects of the sequester cuts:

full size

Meet The Benghazi Birthers

Winter Mountain Climbing wallpaper

Winter Mountain Climbing wallpaper

Conservative John Podhertz writing at the conservative rag, The New York Post can have his pick. He is either as dumb as a cabbage or an incompetent hack for the Right, Failings of Bam & Hill laid bare

After a remarkable House hearing yesterday, we can say this with almost complete certainty: The Obama administration knew perfectly well that last year’s Sept. 11 attack on Americans and American facilities in Benghazi was a terrorist act — yet chose to characterize it falsely as a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam YouTube video.

We can say this because we learned during the hearing that on Sept. 12, State Department official Beth Jones said flatly in an e-mail, “The group that conducted the attacks, Ansar al-Sharia, is affiliated with Islamic terrorists.”

Well we know that it was a terrorist attack, that a group called al-Sharia was responsible and that they used the video and protests occurring throughout the mid-east as one of the motivating factors. Obama did characterize the attacks as terrorism several times, but unlike John, the President did wait to verify the facts. Remember John’s team agrees that presidents are “deciders“, thus the president gets to make the call on when and what to call things. Thus far no one has died from Obama’s twisted ideological judgment. Allahpundit at the radical Right web site Hot Air has the same options as John. (Gregory) Hicks: Higher-ups at State told me not to talk to GOP congressman about Benghazi; Update: “Effectively demoted”

Via the Daily Caller, the five most essential, damning minutes from today’s hearing. And Jordan does an expert job framing them. The money line, when Hicks is asked whether he’d ever been told before not to meet with a congressional delegation: “Never.”

I won’t slow you down with further comment. None is needed — except this: Cheryl Mills is no run-of-the-mill State Department apparatchik, even among the top tier. She’s been one of the Clintons’ right-hand men for decades. She worked in Bill’s White House legal office, then as counsel to Hillary’s presidential campaign, then became chief of staff at State when Hillary was appointed secretary. If she’s the right-hand man, what other conclusion is there than that Hillary’s the one who wanted Hicks to keep his mouth shut when meeting with Chaffetz?

There has not been one iota of evidence that anyone at the State Department discouraged Hicks from testifying. There is no collaborating evidence for Hick’s claim, what so ever. None. So “what other conclusion” can we arrive at? That M’s Mills makes a good omelet, that she graduated from high school, that she can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can conclude – a word that Allahpundit/Hot Air, substitute for the word speculate, about lots of things. Someone who Hillary knew, works/worked with her at State. That is truly shocking. That is blog post from the appropriately named Hot Air is a lesson in conservative propaganda, and what they think passes for journalism. Should anyone over there ever be accused of a capital crime they better hope the jury has higher standards for evidence or just get measured for a nice orange jumpsuit, they’ll need one. What do the Benghazi Birthers have, nothing but insinuation, bizarre theories and conjecture. GOP Star Witnesses Debunk Right-Wing Benghazi Conspiracy Theories

The “whistleblowers” at today’s House Oversight Committee hearing on what really happened in Benghazi, Libya last September were supposed to break the dam that would lead to President Obama’s eventual downfall, in the eyes of conservatives. Instead, these witness actually served to debunk several theories that the right-wing has pushed on Benghazi, leaving the hearing a fizzle for the GOP:

1. F-16s could have been sent to Benghazi

Part of the prevailing theory surrounding the events the night of the Benghazi attacks is that the Obama administration did not do enough militarily to respond to the crisis. Gregory Hicks — a Foreign Service Officer and the former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya — claimed during his pre-hearing testimony that fighter jets could have been flown over Benghazi, preventing the second wave of the attack from occurring.

Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) questioned that statement, asking Hicks whether he disagreed with Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey’s assessment that no air assets were in range the night of the attack. Hicks didn’t disagree, saying he was “speaking from [his] perspective” and what “veteran Libyan revolutionaries” told him, rather than Pentagon assessments.

2. Hillary Clinton signed cables denying additional security to Benghazi

House Republicans came to the conclusion in their interim report on Benghazi that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lied to them about what she knew and when during her testimony this January. This includes her statement that at no time was she aware of requests for additional security at the diplomatic facility in Benghazi prior to the attack.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) used her time to take issue with this claim, asking all three witnesses about standard protocol for cables leaving the State Department. All three agreed with Maloney, that the Secretary of State’s name is placed at the bottom of all outgoing cables and telegrams from Foggy Bottom, whether the Secretary has viewed them or not, shooting down the GOP claim.

3. A Special Forces Team that could have saved lives was told to stand down

One of the most shocking reveals in the lead-up to today’s hearing was that a team of Special Forces in Tripoli were told not to deploy to Benghazi during the attack. That decision has led to an uproar on the right, including claims of dereliction of duty towards Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey for not taking actions that could have saved lives.

During questioning, Hicks confirmed that the team was ready to be deployed — not to join the fighting at the CIA annex — but “to secure the airport for the withdrawal of our personnel from Benghazi after the mortar attack.” Hicks also confirmed that it was the second such team to be readied for deployment, with the first having proceeded to Benghazi earlier. Despite the second team not deploying, the staff was all evacuated first to Tripoli, then to Germany, within 18 hours of the attack taking place.

4. The State Department’s Accountability Review Board isn’t legitimate

Republicans have been attacking the State Department’s official in-house review of the shortcomings seen before, during, and after the assault in Benghazi. That criticism prompted House Republicans to write their own report. When asked point blank about the recommendations of the Board, however, the witnesses didn’t cooperate with the GOP narrative. “Absolutely,” Eric Nordstrom, the Regional Security Officer for Libya prior to the assault in Benghazi, answered when asked if he believes implementing the recommendations would improve security. “I had an opportunity to review that along with other two committee reports. I think taken altogether, they’re fairly comprehensive and reasonable.” Hicks, when questioned, said that while he had some issues with the process by which the Board gathered its information, he demurred on criticizing the report itself.

There is a strong possibility judging from past “heroes” ( Joe the Plumper, Sarah Palin) of the radical Right, that Mr. Hicks will go on to make a nice living on the wing-nut welfare circuit.

Lawyers Representing The “Whistleblowers” In Hearings Are Long-Time GOP Activists With History Of Pushing Discredited Claims. The lawyers claiming to represent some of the witnesses at the Benghazi hearing, Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, are long-time Republicans known for pushing false claims in the media and for having conflicts of interest in their professional work. They have both served as advisors to Republican candidates and donated thousands of dollars to GOP candidates and causes, and have been criticized for a conflict of interest for serving in a dual role in separate Justice Department investigations and for dropping “the air of impartiality, non-partisanship, and professionalism required” by their roles as leaders of a congressional investigation.

This is just another orchestrated conservative political hit like Karl Rove did to John McCain in South Carolina, Dick Cheney did on Valerie Plame and the Swiftboater attacks on John Kerry. The conservative movement, especially their hack propagandists, have no credibility.

World Map with British Territories1786 – Conservatives Wrestle With Ethics and Lose

Antique World map with British Territories 1786

Antique World map with British Territories 1786. those territories are the light orange colored areas. The map doesn’t really give a proper perspective since in relation to land mass and the world’s oceans the territories seem small. This isn’t pick on the British day, I picked this map out from several possibility for today just because it was a little different from previously posted maps and because the border art work was so interesting. Though the map does fit in with a report from just this past autumn which found Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world in its long and colourful history. That is 22 lucky ducks out of 200. They’ve never invaded Luxemburg for some reason.

If Howard Kurtz Is Down to Only One Job, Is He Still Howard Kurtz?

Why should the country’s best-known media reporter give a clear report on a media event involving him? He never worried about the ethics of working for two corporations that were supposed to be reporting on each other. The inherent corruption of what he did was a simple background fact, like the background fact of his dullness and mediocrity. There was a time when he had a platform that allowed him to command attention by breaking stories, before platforms proliferated and news breaks sped up; the news of his departure was broken by Dylan Byers at Politico. Latter-day Kurtz was boring except when he was laughable, and for a long time, none of that harmed him in the slightest.

It is tempting to nominate Kurtz as the poster boy for the seemingly incurable case of hackerness that permeates a media that jumps on bandwagons, panders, entertains, fires anyone marginally good and is so in love with its own power that it is falling behind Twitter ( which has it’s faults as well) is providing the news. But Kurtz is and always has been a self-important pimple among a field of self-important pimples. News readers, many with a very likeable persona, that were and are more concerned about offending people with actual news, so they don’t scare off advertisers, than practicing the profession of journalism. This is not an exclusively modern era problem. Some journalists have tried to live up to the title of the people’s watchdogs. Others care more about buying that expensive McMansion in Connecticut and hanging out at the right dinner parties. Kurtz was firmly entrenched in the dinner party beltway mentality and lifestyle. Where despite this recent shameless laziness and breach of ethics, he will stay.

If the war on drugs can’t stop Glenn Beck from getting high, what use is it, Glenn Beck: There’s A “Very Good Chance” The Houston Airport Shooting Was A “Setup” Like “The Burning Of The Reichstag” . Beck too is a journalist. A man who had fired a gun inside a ticketing area at Houston’s largest airport was killed after being confronted by a law enforcement official . Yep, Beck has nailed this one. The super secret society of gun safety advocates have a ring of suicidal nuts on call to sacrifice themselves for background checks. Beck is probably an expert on the Reichstag fire down to the number of matches used, but for those who are not, The Reichstag Fire

On February 27, 1933, the German parliament (Reichstag) building burned down due to arson. The government falsely portrayed the fire as part of a Communist effort to overthrow the state.

Using emergency constitutional powers, Adolf Hitler’s cabinet had issued a Decree for the Protection of the German People on February 4, 1933. This decree placed constraints on the press and authorized the police to ban political meetings and marches, effectively hindering electoral campaigning. A temporary measure, it was followed by a more dramatic and permanent suspension of civil rights following the February 27 burning of the parliament building.

Though the origins of the fire are still unclear, in a propaganda maneuver, the coalition government (Nazis and the German Nationalist People’s Party) blamed the Communists. They exploited the Reichstag fire to secure President von Hindenburg’s approval for an emergency decree, the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State of February 28. Popularly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, the regulations suspended the right to assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and other constitutional protections, including all restraints on police investigations.

Justified on the false premise that the Communists were planning an uprising to overthrow the state, the Reichstag Fire Decree permitted the regime to arrest and incarcerate political opponents without specific charge, dissolve political organizations, and to suppress publications. It also gave the central government the authority to overrule state and local laws and overthrow state and local governments.

Beck is currently syndicated on radio, newspapers and has his own cable network. One which he is trying to force everyone to pay for, whether they want to watch Beck’s conspiracy channel or not.

Another conservative who thinks ethics is an obscure concept only practiced by the ancient Greeks, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: Obama is president because he’s approved by ‘elites’,

“You pick your person, any black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a black person will be picked apart,” he added. “You can pick anybody, don’t pick me, pick anyone who has decided not to go along with it; there’s a price to pay. So, I always assumed it would be somebody the media had to agree with.”

So s SCOTUS justice makes it plain that he is hostile to the president, thus any legal issues on which he disagrees with the president. So much for the open-mindedness and fairness with which Thomas approached the law. Even if he did meditate himself into fairness mode for court decisions why express such open hostility and compromise his own ethics. ” any black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a black person.” Is that supposed to be a joke. Thomas’s sacred conservative movement has vilified Obama and his race, going back to his 2008 run for president. Has Thomas read any of the news reports of the inflammatory language used against president Obama. The elites?  Would those be the 47% of the public that Thomas ideological brother Mitt Romney did not want to bother with. Thomas has set up the public relations fail-safe. If you agree with him, you’re a good American and a good Black American. If not, he is being victimized and the critic has been brainwashed. In Thomas World you cannot have an honest disagreement with him. This mental midget only became a justice because he would carry water for the conservative establishment and because of conservative identity politics. Friendship of Justice and Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics

Bill Kristol and James O’Keefe Are Sleazy, But They’re Still Heroes of The Conservative Movement

Sheer Rock Face Monument Valley wallpaper

Sheer Rock Face Monument Valley wallpaper

The first two parts of this post are about specific issues, but also about the conservative movement’s inability to admit wrong, to have moral priorities and the media establishment’s tendency to never punish conservative “experts” for being repeatedly wrong. Fox Analysts Urge “Irresponsible” Obama To Do “Something,” But Won’t Say What

Bill Kristol (William Kristol) wants to go to war in Syria, but he won’t say what that war should look like. Appearing on Fox News Sunday to discuss reports of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, the Weekly Standard editor (and noted Iraq war hawk) attacked President Obama as “totally irresponsible” for indicating that he doesn’t want “to start another war,” saying: “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

[   ]…Kristol’s call for (non-specific) military action got a boost from Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, who observed: “There’s something to be said for doing something. That if they cross a line, you’ve got to do something. Now whatever it is may not directly affect the chemical weapons use, but if it directly affects and harms the regime’s prospects in the war, that would at least be a consequence.”

According to Hume, doing “something” (whatever that is) wouldn’t be as difficult as people suspect. “This isn’t Mission: Impossible.”

The Chicken-Hawk conservative experts are as brave about spending other people’s lives as they ever were. This is the gravely serious analysis Kristol gave the USA in 2003,

On March 17, 2003, on the eve of our invasion of Iraq, Bill Kristol wrote the following:

We are tempted to comment, in these last days before the war, on the U.N., and the French, and the Democrats. But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam’s regime. It will produce whatever effects it will produce on neighboring countries and on the broader war on terror. We would note now that even the threat of war against Saddam seems to be encouraging stirrings toward political reform in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and a measure of cooperation in the war against al Qaeda from other governments in the region. It turns out it really is better to be respected and feared than to be thought to share, with exquisite sensitivity, other people’s pain. History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.

Well, it’s been almost four years since Kristol penned those smug, taunting words, and I think it’s fair to say that history and reality have indeed weighed in. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Our invasion has destabilized the entire region (and not in a positive way) and has actually exacerbated the overall terrorist threat our country faces. We are no longer feared or respected, at least nowhere near the degree we were before the invasion. Over 3000 American soldiers have lost their lives (with many thousands more badly injured). Tens of thousands of Iraqis (perhaps hundreds of thousands) have been killed and millions more displaced. We’ve squandered billions of dollars, as well as our national credibility and mystique. And our armed forces are currently bogged down and stretched to the limit as they undertake the thankless task of policing an escalating civil war.

Kristol and his sycophants in the conservative movement have always tried to portray Kristol as their sober cleared eyed foreign policy expert. Kristol is not one to be content to always be wrong about one field of expertise. He has an equally shaky grasp of economics. Paul Krugman Lied and Made Paul Ryan Cry, Then The Economy Died,

The new line on the right is that the economy is now swooning because President Obama criticized Paul Ryan.

And here, via Nexis, is Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday:

Two months ago, the economy’s prospects looked better and President Obama’s political prospects looked better. Then he gave that speech on April 13th. It was at Georgetown, where he demagogically attacked the Paul Ryan budget and basically started employing the “Mediscare” tactics.

I don’t think it’s an accident that the people have lost confidence in the last two months. I actually think it’s hurt him politically.

Remember earlier this year he was going to compromise with Republicans, he was getting serious about the debt, he was pivoting to the center? I think that April 13 speech could be a moment where people look back and say, he went for a short-term political benefit, but hurt his prospects next year and hurt the economy.

David Frum rebuts:

I would myself lay much more emphasis on economic factors like: (i) the continuing destruction of American consumer wealth as housing prices deflate; (ii) the burden of rising oil prices; (iii) the collective decision of American consumers to increase their saving by 6 points of personal income – a laudable decision, but one that subtracts a lot of demand from the economy.

But if I were a believer in the business confidence theory, here’s the counter-question I’d put to Michael Barone:

Which is more likely to subtract from business confidence: a lame speech by the president – or a highly credible and sustained threat by the majority party in the House of Representatives to force a default on the debts, contracts, and other obligations of the United States?

Frum is also a conservative. While David racks up a fair share of wrongs, he comes out looking like Einstein  next to Kristol. Part two of there is no downside to being bonehead conservative, James O’Keefe’s New Gonzo Army. The Breitbart protégé is hunting for some like-minded compatriots.

And so, on a sunny April morning, here they are at a Citizen Watchdog Summit aimed at training them in the art of citizen journalism, an event sponsored by the conservative Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which was created with support from David and Charles Koch. After an opening address, a speaker asks for a little audience participation.

“How many of you are on Facebook?” About half the agents raise their hands.

“How many of you are on Twitter?” About a quarter raise their hands.

“How many of you have done online video?” Two hands rise up from the crowd.

This is a bit of a problem for O’Keefe, who, during his talk, informs the agents that the goal is to “start an information revolution,” not with “pitchforks or guns” but with media. “I think it’s about video. I’m a video guy.”

O’Keefe scored a big Con victory when Piers Morgan wanted to read a petition before signing it. That is an example of the “revolution.” O’Keefe pointed out to the crowd of seniors that he has a hard time traveling. Why? because he is on probation. And that is only for the one thing he was prosecuted for, not the sleazy behavior and serial lying. In the couple of instances where he has found someone not adhering to the letter of the law, they were ethical misconduct issues, not culture wide examples of rampant corruption. If it is hypocrisy he wants to expose, why have we never seen him pull one of gonzo video attacks on one of those red staters who are collecting unemployment insurance, or depend on Medicare or Social Security – my neighbors in other words. I’m not saying my conservative neighbors would smack this sleazeball, but they would tell him where he could put his gotcha video camera. he gets part of his financing from the Koch brothers. Why no gonzo video on all the govmint subsides the Kochs get – oil subsidies, cheap limber from publicly owned forests, police protection for their property, a govmint safety net for their ill or injured employees. And why is O’Keefe deceiving this retired conservatives by painting them a world view that is so distorted by zealotry it barely resembles the world real Americans live in. Honor has proven very disposable in O’Keefe World.

The National Security State, Terrorism and The Conservative Logic Hole

Blue Ocean Cliffs wallpaper

Blue Ocean Cliffs wallpaper

 

The last few days, staring with the news of the Bush Library opening and this new report from the WaPo is like having a waking nightmare that is on automatic shuffle. The main theme of the nightmare stays the same, the little details change. CIA pushed to add Boston bomber to terror watch list

The CIA pushed to have one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers placed on a U.S. counterterrorism watch list more than a year before the attacks, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Russian authorities contacted the CIA in the fall of 2011 and raised concerns that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed last week in a confrontation with police, was seen as an increasingly radical Islamist who could be planning to travel overseas.

The CIA request led the National Counterterrorism Center to add Tsarnaev’s name to a database known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, that is used to feed information to other lists, including the FBI’s main terrorist screening database.

The CIA’s request came months after the FBI had closed a preliminary inquiry into Tsarnaev after getting a similar warning from Russian state security, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

The disclosure of the CIA’s involvement suggests that the U.S. government may have had more reason than it has previously acknowledged to scrutinize Tsarnaev in the months leading up to the bombings in Boston. It also raises questions why U.S. authorities didn’t flag his return to the United States and investigate him further after a seven-month trip he took to Russia last year.

let’s get to the obvious thing first. The WaPo’s shoddy reporting. We already knew that the FBI had Tsarnaev on their watch-list. He was added to the TIDE list. In a quick scan of a few blogs, one suggested that we have reentered the space-time continuum of blame between the two agencies. That might be, but for those who are following the details, this confusion seems to be largely a problem of individual personnel not being briefed very well and the WaPo relying on what one person said instead of taking five minutes to check Lexus-Nexus. Unlike the rest of us reporters at the WaPo do not have to pay to use it.

“The system pinged when he was leaving the United States,” Napolitano said at a Senate hearing this week. “By the time he returned, all investigations had been closed.” The Washington Post notes that since the CIA became involved later, it’s possible Tsarnaev would have still been on the TIDE list when he reentered the country. “If Customs officials had alerted the FBI to his return, the bureau might have found reason to question him further in the months leading up to the attacks,” the paper reports.

However, that seems fairly unlikely. The CIA and FBI asked the Russians for more information on Tsarnaev several times, but got no response until the manhunt was on in Boston. Therefore, he was just a man two agencies had cleared on a list of hundreds of thousands of potential terrorists. A U.S. intelligence official noted Tsarnaev “did not come anywhere close to being a selectee” for the no-fly list. As for what would have happened if the FBI was aware of his return from Russia, the official said, “Probably nothing.”

Since we’re in time trvael mode let’s go back to the problems the FBI was having when our national security policy was to make everyone in the U.S. a potential terrorist. June 19, 2003, THREATS AND RESPONSES: LAW ENFORCEMENT; False Terrorism Tips to F.B.I. Uproot the Lives of Suspects

Federal agents, facing intense pressure to avoid another terrorist attack, have acted on information from tipsters with questionable backgrounds and motives, touching off needless scares and upending the lives of innocent suspects.

After a wave of criticism, Bush administration officials have been revising their policies for handling terrorist suspects. On Tuesday, President Bush issued guidelines restricting racial profiling in investigations to ”narrow” circumstances linked to stopping potential attacks.

In a report earlier this month, the Justice Department’s inspector general found that in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, many illegal immigrants with no connection to terrorism were detained under harsh conditions.
[  ]…With thousands of tips coming in every week, the F.B.I. was hard pressed in those early days merely to take in the information, officials said, especially since Justice Department orders were that no plausible tip was to be ignored.

In that same report the FBI acknowledge that tipping the FBI off that someone was potential terror suspect became a way for people to take revenge on people they did not like, such as ex-spouses and anyone who looked like they were from the middle-east. Then and now how does the FBI or CIA determine who to watch on an almost continuous basis. That is a lot of resources and manpower focused on someone that might do something. That apparently has not stopped what has become one of the most enormous bureaucracies in the U.S. government from trying to watch everyone, all the time. What happens when you have thousands of people and billions of dollars chasing every tip and every ghost of a suspect, July 19, 2010 – A hidden world, growing beyond control

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation’s other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

This is one of the reason to be both concerned and laugh at what national security has become. Because so much of the funding is simply bundled for national security, the details of how it is spent are known to hand full of people and they can only tell Congress in secret meetings about the specifics of how it was spent. basically two lone wackos just went off one day. How is it that anyone can see that coming and take legal action. The FBI could do what they did after 9-11 and simply take people off the street. That will work until someone who thinks abortion is murder, or women should not be allowed to take contraceptives, or someone who thinks vaccines are part of a nefarious government plot, or someone thinks Obama must be taken out because he heard Obama does not have a real birth certificate….is put in a cell without the right to counsel. Why didn’t the FBI pick up on signals from this guy, just because he is white, male and likely list his religion as Christian, Illinois shootings: Suspect helped wounded girl after killing 5

After he shot his way into a home in the small town of Manchester, police say Rick Odell Smith gunned down a great-grandmother, a young couple and three young children. Then he did something that puzzled authorities.

He scooped up one of the children, a 6-year-old girl who was still alive, and carried her to a neighbor’s home. Then he jumped into his white Chevy Lumina and sped off. Police caught up with him hours later and he died in a gunfight with officers.

So a Caucasian male murders one more person than the Boston marathon terrorists: it is not called terrorism. There is no call to stop letting whites immigrate to the U.S. There is no blame game by politicians. There is no wacky conspiracy theories from Glenn Beck – Beck: ‘If You Want to Continue to Discredit Me, You Will Only Discredit Yourself’. Somehow, and being anti-science and anti-rationalism it makes sense, conservatives have come to belive that if you’re murdered by a non-Chritian you’re more dead and your death matters more if you’re murdered by a while male Christian. Another trip down memory lane when conservatives were complaining about national security overreach, “You Don’t Have Any Civil Liberties If You’re Dead” (2010)

Be careful what you ask for; you just might get it. So it is with the uproar from disingenuous conservatives trying to capitalize on the public outcry over the TSA’s airport body scans and aggressive pat-downs. While Charles Krauthammer now spouts “don’t touch my junk” and Rush Limbaugh declares, “Keep your hands off my tea bag, Mr. President,” five years ago the right-wing echo chamber applauded President Bush’s regime of illegal domestic surveillance by the NSA. After all, they insisted then, you don’t have civil liberties when you’re dead.

That stunning defense of anti-terrorism over-reach became a Republican staple in December 2005. After the New York Times revealed the Bush administration’s campaign of warrantless wiretapping, Senator John Cornyn debuted the now famous GOP talking point. The former Texas Supreme Court Justice announced:

“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead.”

(With no sense of irony, Cornyn in August 2009 accused President Obama of instituting a “data collection program” in support of health care reform.)

Soon, Republican leaders were singing from the same hymnal. On February 3rd, 2006, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, who has stonewalled the Phase II investigation into the misuses of pre-Iraq war intelligence, similarly claimed:

“You really don’t have any civil liberties if you’re dead.”

Just days later, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) joined his colleagues in blessing President Bush’s unilateral abrogation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Constitution. The failed federal judge insisted that in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, anything goes:

“Over 3,000 Americans have no civil rights because they are no longer with us.”

Of course, Republicans aren’t merely seizing on the TSA passenger imbroglio to embarrass President Obama. As it turns out, the dust-up is another chance for Republicans to further some of their most cherished goals.

Like more, not fewer, violations of Americans’ civil liberties. While Florida Congressman John Mica is pushing for U.S. airports to turn passenger security over to private contractors, Representatives Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have called for profiling of passengers. “Sure, profiling is okay,” Hoekstra explained, adding, “You know, you do it everywhere in life – it only makes sense.”

Charles Krauthammer couldn’t agree more. Krauthammer is only too willing to sacrifice other peoples’ rights in order to keep the government out of his junkyard:

“The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.”

So much for the threat from terror babies.

So profiling and trashing every American’s constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties is OK, but limiting the size of gun magazines is too intrusive. Profiling prevents Americans from being killed? Tell that to those five people murdered in Illinois. Or the families in Newtown. Remember that Adam Lanza’s mother was a conservative gun collector who thought civilization was going to crumple. And in every forum on the internet the gun fetishists claim that no gun safety laws will ever prevent a murder, but throwing all olive skinned, possibly middle-eastern “looking” folks in preventative detention will. It all sounds like something out of a very surreal graphic novel, but it is the reality we all live in. Just in time to prove my point, O’Reilly Demands To Know Why Obama Didn’t Condemn Islam Immediately After Boston Bombing

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly chose on Tuesday night to slam President Obama for failing to condemn Islam in the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings and claimed that American Muslims aren’t doing enough to stand up against jihad.

During his “Talking Point Commentary” segment, O’Reilly called the President “seriously wrong” for urging the country on Friday to not to jump to conclusions about the bombing suspects’ motivations.

“It’s all about motivation and it’s all about a specific group of people,” O’Reilly declared, referring to Muslims. He then went on to say that suspected Dzhokar Tsarnaev and his deceased brother Tamerlan were definitively jihadists, stating that “only radical Islam allows terror murder.”

April is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings by two white Christian conservatives. Maybe Obama didn’t condemn all of Islam for the same reason Bill Clinton did not use Oklahoma City to condemn conservationism and right-wing Christians. Maybe to do so is a tad too sweeping an indictment. O’Reilly is a good example of the kind of lazy knee jerk thinking which permeates the conservative movement. They always get caught on the absurdity, the contradictions, the lack of facts and the hypocrisy. Yet, like mindless zombies they don’t skip a beat they keep clawing at the wall. O’Reilly makes millions for being wrong, for spreading deeply unAmericans values, for twisting and distorting the simplest bits of information. There is no incentive for him to become less morally corrupt. Malignity pays.

Bonus links: Bush’s Library Dedication Reminds America Of 50 Reasons George W. Bush Should have Been Tried For Sedition.

STUDY: Media Overlooked Keystone XL Risks Even After Arkansas Spill

The Bush’s, Conservatism and Historical Revisionism

U.S.M. steam ship Baltic.

U.S.M. steam ship Baltic. The Baltic was a U.S. mail ship. This print was done c1852 by N. Currier.

George W. Bush’s brother Jeb, former governor of Florida has some good poll numbers. Not long ago the Bush name was synonymous with epic failure. We’re a sentimental country that is also hammered everyday about how great and perfect conservatism is. So it was to be expected to some degree that Bush 43 numbers would go up. Those inexorably connected with Jeb’s suddenly looking like a contender for prez in 2016. Yes Jeb has said in the past there is no way he’ll run, but when someone with a Bush-sized ego thinks he can win and his millionaire friends are ready to back him, the infamous Bush ego wins out over any reticence. At that same link, Steve notes the reaction of the WaPo,

 But on fiscal issues, Bush draws criticism from both left and right. Tea party Republicans regard him as a reckless spender.

Even though the same poll shows ex-president Bush with a 93% approval rating among conservatives. The WaPo seems to think there is some movement out there called the Tea Party that is not joined at the hip and knee with the radical conservative movement. This tendency by the WaPo not to get it’s political reality straight and the conservative movement not to acknowledge and take responsibility for it’s disastrous failures is both funny and dangerous. This reinvention of the Bush 43 legacy is not a new tendency among conservatives. From Sarah Palin’s mangling of Paul Revere’s famous ride to Jonah Goldberg’s grandiose rewriting of the fascist movement, communism, conservatism and liberalism, butchering history is a large part of what drives conservatism. Conservatives suffer from the blow-back of their own drivel. By tuning into far Right radio, watching Fox News, subscribing to wacky Glenn beck newsletters – they constantly assure themselves they have done nothing wrong, while simultaneously selling the latest conspiracy theory about the United nation and American sovereignty. So telling themselves that Bush 43 did not lie and manipulate over 4000 Americans to their deaths and crashing the economy, is small potatoes for people who are emotionally, politically and physiologically trained to not accept responsibility for the malevolent crap they do to America. Meet the revisionist George W. Bush — pretty much the same as the old George W. Bush

“As time goes by Bush will benefit from the comparison with Obama,” Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford’s Hoover Institution predicted. “If Obama had been a Bill Clinton-like figure he would have made Bush look like the caricature his opponents have suggested. But Obama has been a great gift for Bush – he’s as polarizing a figure as Bush was.”

Hanson is the Nurse Ratchet of historians. The dreary soft monotone of quiet insanity.

Third, the performance of Bush’s economic team in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis probably deserves more credit than it gets. Despite being a wildly unpopular lame-duck president, Bush still was able to implement a series of international moves (convening the G-20 rather than the G-8) and domestic moves (TARP, the auto bailout) that prevented the crisis from metastasizing into another Great Depression.

All that said, however, there are some cold hard facts that cannot be erased. George W. Bush helmed a war of choice that proved, in the end, to impose powerful constraints (though perhaps not system-changing) for American foreign policy. He pursued his foreign policy aims in such a way as to dramatically lower U.S. standing abroad. He was at the helm when all of the pressures that triggered the 2008 financial crisis were building up and did next to nothing to stop them. And five years later, the GOP is still wrestling with the negative aspects of his political legacy.

I’ve already mentioned two of the worse legacies of Bush and the conservative movement ( you grandchildren will be paying for Iraq and the Great Recession. A few other highlights: Halliburton corruption (no bid contracts, lost billions in government funds), the  Abu Ghraib Prison Torture that cost American lives, 9/11 Intelligence Failures ( Bush infamous failure to act on a Presidential Daily Brief that said Bin Laden likely to attack),  HHS Deceptive Ad Campaign, exposing the name of a CIA NOC agent who was also an expert on Iraq WMD, the Justice Department scandals, and the Bush administration again endangering the troops and the civilian Iraqis they said they were there to save by appointing Republican cronies to rebuild Iraq. Can the conservative movement whitewash these, and dozens of other egregious acts of criminal malevolence and negligence. As Palin would say, you betcha. It is what they do.

Some other news: 20 Forgotten George W. Bush – Dick Cheney Scandals

You probably know that the campaign to rehabilitate the image of the 43d president of the United States has been launched with the opening of his presidential library.

How Conservative Media Reacted To Senate Republicans Blocking Modest New Gun Safety Laws

How Greed Is Dismembering America

The plastic patriot Konservative Koch Brothers’ Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat, the best govmint billionaires can buy.

Notes on Fear and Terrorism in America

Santa Monica Pier wallpaper

Santa Monica Pier wallpaper

 

Future historians should consider the Bush-Cheney years as the Chicken-Little Era. Every day all conservatives did was tell America we were going to all die from a terrorist attack by radicalized Muslims. Actually they would just say Muslims. As though the world’s estimated 1.6 billion Muslims – the world’s second largest religion, were at world with the rest of the world. Back in 2010 the CIA estimated there were about 50 to 100, perhaps 500 Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. That is out of a population of 30 million. There are an estimated 25,000 members world-wide. The math says that less than 1% of the world’s Muslims are members. It doesn’t take many people to commit a few acts of terror and produce the desired results, fear and over reaction. Conservatives practically fall over themselves to live up to those expectations. It is reasonable to be concerned about terrorism or any organized form of violence. there is a point which reaches unjustified levels of paranoia. My anecdotal experience is that conservatives are easier to scare and quicker to reach a paranoid world view. That level of fear may not be much more than normal, humanity has a history of living in fear and has given itself reason for doing so. It may be that conservatives are only a few degrees more paranoid than the average, and that small degree is enough to produce behavior that thus far caused substantial loss of American and innocent foreign lives. It has also cost us in other ways. The Iraq war may end up costing $6 trillion. The US has become a surveillance state. I’m not sure how that could happen since the NRA says it cannot tolerant even modest regulation of fire arms because they need them to protect us from intrusions on the Constitution. Anyone seen the NRA lobbying or pulling guns on Congress over the more despicable parts of the Patriot Act. Of course not. The NRA is all about being armed to the teeth to defend us against their weird fantasies, not reality. It did not take long for the same Chicken-Little conservatives to exploit the religion of the Boston Marathon in the hopes of furthering their radical agenda, Tea Party Congressman Exploits Manhunt For Suspected Boston Bomber To Advance Weaker Gun Laws

A Tea Party Congressman has joined a growing list of conservatives are seizing on the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect to argue for looser gun laws. Appearing on The Blaze Thursday afternoon, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) suggested that the Bostonians on lock down need high capacity magazines to protect themselves from violence. Via Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch:

What hit me this morning when I heard the residents there around Boston and in the area where they thought someone might be were ordered to stay in their homes, businesses were ordered closed, public transportation was ordered closed. Let me ask you, if you’re sitting in your home and you know there are only two possibilities for people coming, one is law enforcement and the other is somebody who has already killed Americans and continues to do so, how many rounds do you want to be limited to in your magazine as you sit in your chair and wait?

There were about 192,000 licensed gun owners in Massachusetts in 2007. The number has gone up since than and went up with recent events. So despite 192,000 gun owners, the terrorist still managed to murder three people and maim or wound over a hundred others. These gun owners did not seem to join police and FBI in pursuit after the initial fire fight at Watertown. What stopped them. Common sense or letting the professionals do their job. The USA has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world and while it has been declining the last decade, we still have a pretty violent society. Though not so high that it warrants living in fear and staying at home all the time. Eight facts about terrorism in the United States

Your odds of dying in a terrorist attack are still far, far lower than dying from just about anything else.

Your odds of dying in a terrorist attack are still far, far lower than dying from just about anything else.

In the last five years, the odds of an American being killed in a terrorist attack have been about 1 in 20 million (that’s including both domestic attacks and overseas attacks). As the chart above from the Economist shows, that’s considerably smaller than the risk of dying from many other things, from post-surgery complications to ordinary gun violence to lightning.

That said, terrorist attacks obviously loom much larger in our collective consciousness — not least because they’re designed to horrify. So, understandably, they get much more attention.

Note that your odds of being harmed by a friendly gun owner are much higher than being harmed by any kind of terrorist, rather it is a radicalized Muslim or some home grown conservative abortion fanatic. If conservatives were genuinely concerned about preserving the life and health of US citizens they’d stampede Congress demanding a public insurance program like Medicare for everyone. Funding science research that targets what has become known as superbugs – infections resistant to antibiotics will kill more people this year in the U.S. than any kind of terrorism.

Total terror attacks are on decline.

Bill Maher: Comparing violence of Islam to Christianity ‘liberal bullsh*t’ [VIDEO].

On HBO’s “Real Time” on Friday night, host Bill Maher entertained CSU-San Bernardino professor Brian Levin, director of the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism, who maintained that despite the events in recent days, religious extremism isn’t only a product of Islam.

But Maher took issue with that claim, calling it “liberal bullshit” and said there was no comparison.

“You know what, yeah, yeah,” Maher said. “You know what — that’s liberal bullshit right there … they’re not as dangerous. I mean there’s only one faith, for example, that kills you or wants to kill you if you draw a bad cartoon of the prophet. There’s only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith. An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing. Talk to Salman Rushdie after the show about Christian versus Islam. So you know, I’m just saying let’s keep it real.”

Besides playing up his alleged anti-political correctness to get publicity, the major thing that Bill is guilty of here is sloppy thinking. Certainly there are Muslims who are sociopaths. Most of them are not. That is fact, not a point of view. In the next category down are the Muslims who do need some liberalizing. They’re the ones who were and likely still are angry over some cartoons. I have zero sympathy for people offended by any kind of religious cartoon. I don’t know every liberal, neither does Bill, but most of them think of the cartoon nonsense the same way. Though I’ve read some liberals who would prefer that cartoonist not make religious themed cartoons so as not to offend any religion. They’re mistaken to feel that way in my opinion, but I understand where they’re coming from in terms of being sensitive to others beliefs. I grew up on Mark Twain. He was cranky, irreverent,  pro censorship for children, but not adults.

“You’re wrong about that and you’re wrong about your facts,” Maher said. “Now, obviously, most Muslim people are not terrorists. But ask most Muslim people in the world, if you insult the prophet, do you have what’s coming to you? It’s more than just a fringe element.”

It is fair and obvious that there are some violent Muslims. Again this is shoddy thinking on Bill’s part. there are also far radicalized conservative groups around the world. Membership in conservative militia groups spiked when Obama was elected president. Most of these groups have not carried out what we think of as terror attacks. Though remember that the Norway attacks were by a conservative killed 77 people. And that the fighting in the Middle-east is mostly about Muslim killing other Muslims. As this article notes more people were murdered in a terror attack in Iraq during the Boston marathon than the marathon bombings. It is not just Bill Maher – who had some good points to make and went too far. This is about critical thinking. About details that matter. At one point in history Protestants and Catholics were doing a very good job of murdering each other. Even up to modern era Northern Ireland. Maher said that no one could put on a play criticizing Muslims. He might be right about that, but it would not surprise me if Broadway producers were reluctant to put on an anti-Catholic play with child abuse and molestation as it’s central theme. Or a play about the Posse Comitatus paramilitary/Christian movement. Though if Bill could take off his blinders for a minute he might find there has been of anti-Muslim films made and distributed. What Bill is proud of, in an indirect way, and conservatives as well, though they are loath to follow their thoughts to conclusion, is that the U.S., Canada and western Europe have been largely secularized. Sure there are a lot of people that believe in some deity, but like American Catholics who have overwhelmingly embraced contraceptives, or American Muslims that hang on to bits of tradition, they largely think for themselves rather than go by strict interpretation of religious dogma.