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.

Conservatives Cannot Back-Up Their Benghazi Conspiracy Theories

Space Eclipse wallpaper

Space Eclipse wallpaper

Remember when Bush ignored that Presidential Daily brief that Bin Laden might be planning an attack on the U.S. Remember how well then national Security Adviser and Vice President Cheney were so proactive about stopping that attack. No, we don’t remember that happening because they were all criminally negligent. None of their supporters, the same people pumping up the Benghazi conspiracy theories, called for resignations. On the contrary, they accused any critics of being pro terrorists. Judging from this trash talk from the anti-American web site Powerline and Paul Mirengoff, one can assume they’re afraid, very afraid of a Hillary Clinton run for the presidency,  Hillary Clinton — culpable for Benghazi from beginning to end. Anyone has has the time could use the bullet points from this trash to draw a chart on how to create a conservative smear without one shred of evidence:

“Under these circumstances, it would not do to attribute the Benghazi killings to the terrorism about which top State Department officials had been warned. Much better to lump what happened in Libya together with the protests that occurred in Egypt, and thereby characterize it as a demonstration that went too far, rather than premeditated terrorism.”

Yea, well the problem with that framing is that the Benghazi attacks did happen within the larger context of the video created by a U.S. based conservative. That is not to say there was a direct cause and effect, but certainly a tie between the two,  What’s Behind the US Embassy Protests in Egypt 

The distasteful and amateurish fourteen-minute video clip that ignited the unrest was first posted on YouTube in July, but it received scant attention until earlier this month, when Maurice Sadek, a Coptic Christian living in Washington DC, whose incendiary anti-Muslim campaigning led to the revocation of his Egyptian citizenship earlier this year, linked to a translated version of the film on an Arabic-language blog and highlighted it in an e-mail newsletter.

The independent daily Al Youm al Sabaa picked up the story and published a three-paragraph article on September 6 calling the film “shocking” and warning it could fuel sectarian tensions between Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt. An Islamic web forum soon carried the story, as did other newspapers, yet it remained off the front pages.

It wasn’t until September 9 that the story began to gain traction, when TV host Khaled Abdullah—known for his inflammatory rants against Christians, liberals and secularists—played a clip of the video on his show on El-Nas, a private religious satellite channel. Abdullah and his co-host railed against the film and accused expatriate Copts of wanting to “inflame Egypt.” The Coptic Church issued a statement disavowing the video, as did a number of expatriate Coptic groups.

The film quickly caught the attention of other ultraconservative Islamists in what became an echo chamber of calls to protest. Wesam Abdel Warith, the head of the Salafi television station al-Hekma and one of the principal protest organizers within the Salafi coalition, called for a demonstration to be held outside the US embassy on Tuesday, September 11, after hearing that extremist Florida pastor Terry Jones had planned to put the Prophet Muhammed on mock trial that day and sentence him to death.

In an interview with Al Jazeera English, Warith defended choosing to hold the protest outside the US embassy. “We are fully aware that the US administration is not responsible for the actions of individuals, but this was a message because we know as individuals we have no power to stop this absurdity,” he said.

The chorus of calls to protest continued to grow. Nader Bakkar, the spokesman for the Nour Party, the largest of Egypt’s three licensed Salafi parties, said the protest was necessary as a religious duty to defend the prophet.

“Islamists tried to capitalize on this event for their own political gains,” says Khalil al-Anani, a scholar in Middle East politics at Durham University. “But it started getting out of control. It’s a very risky game.”

By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, protesters started gathering in front of the embassy, chanting slogans for the prophet and against the United States. A few thousand eventually turned up and were joined by a small group of Copts as well as Ultras, the soccer fans who have long been at the forefront of protests against security forces in Egypt. Police did nothing to prevent a number of protesters from scaling the 12-foot outer wall of the compound and bringing down the American flag, which had been flying at half mast to mark the anniversary of 9/11, eventually burning it and replacing it with an Islamic one.

“Essentially, security didn’t do anything,” says Michael Wahid Hanna, a fellow at the Century Foundation. “When they want to enforce security around an embassy they do it,” he says, pointing to the police crackdown on demonstrators outside the Syrian embassy a week earlier.

So for the terrorists the video was a kind of trigger and the protests made for a good opportunity. If security at U.S. embassies is all awful and was then Secretary of State Clinton’s fault, than why didn’t terror cells around the world use the weakness that Powerline insists was pure negligence, to launch a series of attacks. Could it be that the facts are as we know them. This was the one embassy where there were protests to provide the best cover for such an attack. If it sounds like I’m tossing up my own wild theories, Powerline and the radical right propaganda outlet The Weekly Standard need to get their stories straight because the Standard actually printed what I just wrote, Weekly Standard Accidentally Disproves Central Right-Wing Benghazi Claim

In the Weekly Standard article, Stephen F. Hayes highlighted how specifics about the involvement of members of an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group that were included in an initial September 14 draft of talking points by the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis were later removed by administration officials. Included in Hayes’ report are images of the various versions of those talking points, which serve to drastically undermine the right-wing media’s critique. Here’s the first bullet point from what The Weekly Standard terms “Version 1”:

We believe based on currently available information that the attacks in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex.

In the final version of the document, that bullet reads:

The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. diplomatic post and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.

The “protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” were part of a series of global riots and protests in Muslim countries that came in response to increasing awareness of the anti-Islam video.

These talking points were used by Ambassador Rice for a series of September 16 television interviews. The right-wing media subsequently engaged in a witch hunt to portray her as untruthful and misleading for connecting the attack to the video. But as the Weekly Standard has now shown, it was the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis and not political appointees that introduced that link into the talking points.

Moreover, the involvement of al Qaeda-linked terrorists in the attack does not preclude the video’s possible role as the proximate cause of the attack.

 

Maybe the entire intelligence community switches roles depending on who is in the White House. During the Bush years they conspired to cover-up conservative incompetence and violation of the law. One can make up all kinds of stories and claim that the story is indisputable, but what about those little nasty things called facts. The radical right claims that people did and said things out of certain motivations. Unless they have super powers that violate physical law, they cannot see into the mind of Clinton, Susan Rice or President Obama. And about that whistle blower who supposedly has the White House in his sights. Just so much smack talk, Benghazi (II): A military analysis of the Fox mystery man’s fantasy rescue plan

On April 30, 2013, Fox News aired an interview with a supposed member of U.S. Special Operations Command who said that members of “C-110,” who were training in Croatia on September 11, 2012, could have both arrived at the Benghazi consulate in 4-6 hours and arrived before the second attack on the annex during which Tyronne Woods and Glen Doherty were killed. The mystery man critiques the Obama administration’s decision-making, yet offers no information as to how C-110 would have influenced the battle in such a way that the outcome would have been different. Perhaps because it was actually impossible for C-110 to arrive before the attack, and if they did, they would not have been able to do anything that would have prevented our heroes, Woods and Doherty, from being killed.

[  ]…Obama gave the launch order at 0239. The mystery operator said 4-6 hours. That’s 0639-0839. Woods and Doherty died at 0515. An Air Force C-17 was evacuating personnel from the Benghazi airport at 0740. Mystery man and Fox News can’t add. Strike one.

 

Gregory Hicks, the former deputy of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens has some lawyers running defense for him. How remarkable that his lawyers are members of the conservative black opts crew that tried to get serial liar and traitor Scooter Libby off,

Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing run a law firm together. They are also married. They are also soldiers in the dirty wars we have between the two major parties. When Scooter Libby was indicted, diGenova and Toensing demanded a pardon. In fact, they had been brawling on Libby’s side for years. Toensing even authored an amici curiae brief with the US Court of Appeals in Washington, seeking to overturn the ruling that forced Matthew Cooper and Judy Miller to testify in the Libby case.

Poor little Scooter, a conservative black opts veteran himself had to bite the bullet, lie, get caught and then take the fall, all to protect Darth Cheney. he is probably living off wing-nut welfare, but he never did have to serve jail time for his crimes and neither did Dick. The Benghazi conspiracy game follows a trend in the conservative movement. Conservatives commit real provable crimes. Are proven to be up to their eyeballs in an actual conspiracy. As soon as the opportunity arises they invent a conspiracy as revenge against those who attacked them for their real crimes and negligence. Conservatives have created this swirling cesspool of moral corruption. rather than step back, stop, apologize and become just decent citizens, they dig themselves deeper into the muck of their own making. Even Fox News or one guy on their morning show anyway sees where the conspiracy entangles a lot of people the Right has praised in the past, including Admiral Mullen, General Petraus and Leon Panetta. Many of the people who were running some aspect of national security under Bush, and could do no wrong, are still working at some post at the CIA, National Security Administration or the Pentagon, for the Obama administration. This is almost as absurd as the birthers who by definition are claiming that fifty states, the CIA, the SCOTUS, the State Department, the Secret Service and a dozen other entities are involved in the greatest cover-up in history.

Map Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 1902 – Just Another Day With Radicalized Republicans

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1902

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1902. Even on the larger image it is difficult to see, but the map legend highlights points of interests such as the post office, Fort Pitt blockhouse, the courthouse, and the Frick, Carnegie, and Park buildings and railroad stations. These old street view maps are usable. If you were in Pittsburgh in 1902 you could find your way around well enough to the major points of the city. Though they really shine as artistic renderings of the city.

President Obama is cutting his holiday vacation short to head back to Washington in hopes of working out a budget deal. Though I wish he wouldn’t it is the smart move to make politically. Unless one lives in the reality challenged world of Fox New’s hack Steve Doocy – who claimed that Obama never really cared about making a compromise deal. This attempt at compromise is just a lot of wasted jet fuel. As Steve Benen explains,

As of Friday, it sounded like Obama had all but given up on those ambitions, and is now eyeing a much smaller agreement.

To be sure, I suspect the president would still prefer a larger deal, such as the one Boehner abandoned a week ago, but last week helped reinforce a couple of important realizations. The first is that Boehner is a weak leader of a radicalized, directionless caucus. The second is that Republicans are so loath to compromise, a meaningful, bipartisan agreement with concessions from both sides is clearly impossible.

And with that in mind, Friday’s comments pointed to what might be called Plan C — lower rates on income up to $250,000, extended jobless aid, a cancellation of the sequester (or more likely, a postponement), and some kind of blueprint for additional action sometime in 2013.

It has always been the aim of that deeply radical and contarian caucus to not agree to anything that President Obama might sign. This is the important aspect of these budget talks for the public to keep in mind as many cross their fingers hoping for an agreement. There was never going to be one if conservatives could help it. If President Obama hand even started near what conservatives wanted they would have demanded even bigger tax and spending cuts. They were always Lucy with the football and Democrats were always Charlie Brown.

There is a video of American history expert Sarah Palin gloating at this link. Conservatives are however inadvertently, at least entertaining sometimes, Fox’s Self-Congratulation Over Benghazi Report Undermined By Report Itself

Fox News figures have tried to use an investigative panel’s recent report on the Benghazi attack to congratulate their network on its coverage of the attack. But the report actually debunks several incorrect and misleading narratives Fox pushed about Benghazi.

[  ]…But the report determined there was “no evidence of any undue delays in decision making or denial of support from Washington or from the military combatant commanders,” and continued, “Quite the contrary: the safe evacuation of all U.S. government personnel from Benghazi twelve hours after the initial attack … was the result of exceptional U.S. government coordination and military response and helped save the lives of two severely wounded Americans.”

Fox also hyped its “exclusive” report that requests for military back-up during the attack were twice denied “by the CIA chain of command” — even though the CIA called Fox’s claims “inaccurate” at the time. But as The Huffington Post pointed out, the Benghazi report debunks that claim. Quoting from the report, Huffington Post wrote, “[A] ‘team leader’ at the annex had ‘decided on his own’ to delay leaving the facility briefly to see if local security elements would arrive with reinforcements. After ‘a brief delay,’ and determining that they would not, the team leader made the decision to move some units toward the compound, the report said.”

Should one decide to venture into the freaky world of conservative spin on Fox news or conservative web sites you’ll find that they were correct about Benghazi and about Fast and Furious ( even though they failed to acknowledge that much of that scandal came down to one agent – A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.) This two supposed scandals are good reasons on theory own to never sign up for that nebulous land of the sensible centrist preached from the Beltway and NYT neanderthals like Thomas Friedman. You cannot reach compromises with the morbidly unhinged.

Well, that problem is solved, After Newtown, Sales Boom for Kids’ Body Armor

Six months ago, Amendment II introduced a new line of backpacks, built with the company’s signature carbon nanotube armor, designed to keep kids safe in the event of school shootings. Since Friday’s massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school, sales have gone through the roof. “I can’t go into exact sales numbers, but basically we tripled our sales volume of backpacks that we typically do in a month—in one week,” Williams says.

One can hardly blame parents for trying to do something. While, who knows they just might save a few lives, one of the guns the Newtown murderer had was a Sig Sauer semi-automatic. Watch this video of rapid fire practice with a Sig. That is putting a lot of faith in backpack to think it will protect someone with a similar gun. And remember Wayne LaPierre and the NRA blaming everything, including video games Newtown, How The Gun Industry Profits From Violent Video Games

In a controversial diatribe on Friday, Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, blamed lax security, natural disasters, and, most of all, violent video games for the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT that claimed 27 lives. Despite the NRA’s public condemnation of violent entertainment, the New York Times explains, the gun industry is closely entwined with the gaming industry.

In one recent example of this relationship, the gaming company behind the Medal of Honor series launched a promotional website with links to the catalogs of two major gun manufacturers:

Links on the Medal of Honor site allowed visitors to click through on the Web sites of the game’s partners and peruse their catalogs.

“It was almost like a virtual showroom for guns,” said Ryan Smith, who contributes to the Gameological Society, an online gaming magazine. After Mr. Smith and other gaming enthusiasts criticized the site, Electronic Arts disabled the links, saying it had been unaware of them.

Gun manufacturers also grant video game companies licenses to depict real makes and models of weapons. Though these games are now taking heat from the gun lobby for encouraging violent behavior, they continue to serve as a valuable marketing tool for the industry.

I would still make the distinction that these games encourage people to buy guns – look how much fun it is to blow things away – but they don’t necessarily push people to the point of committing mass murder. According to this site, Medal of Honor has sold 1.2 million copies in North America ( Canada, USA, Mexico). Some studies have shown a link between violent video games and aggressive behavior in teens if played over a long period, but others have shown that the link is not that simple – they can in some circumstances increase cooperation ( which is probably why the military uses them). And there is that Harvard study that shows that the more guns that are around the greater the chances someone will use one to commit a crime.

And finnaly for today, when conservatives bully and eat their own, FreedomWorks tea party group nearly falls apart in fight between old and new guard

The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.

Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.

The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back. The force behind their return was Richard J. Stephenson, a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations.

Kind of obvious but Krugman still beat me to it, Protecting Freedom(Works)

The problem, clearly, is that despite its Tea Party status, FreedomWorks had failed to implement the security measures libertarians have been recommending for schools. If only the staff had been carrying concealed weapons, and those not armed had been trained to launch human wave attacks on gunmen, none of this would have happened, right?

Isn’t that what real Amerikcans do, shoot it out. Last man standing is the winner.

Antique map of Europe 1595 – The Old Benghazi Conspiracy Failed So Conservatives Use Petraeus To Start New

Antique map of Europe 1595.

Some major historical events of 1595: Henry IV of France defeats the Spanish, but is nearly killed due to his rashness. Henry had converted from Catholicism to Protestantism, which may have been the reason he was, in comparison to others of the time remarkably tolerant of religious differences. He enacted the Edict of Nantes, in 1598, ending the civil war between Catholics and Protestants. He was assassinated by François Ravaillac, a radical Catholic of the era.

A Spanish expedition led by navigator and explorer Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira (1542 – October 1595) makes the first European landing in Polynesia, on the Marquesas Islands. As students of  history know the era of European explorers would begin some very difficult times for native populations.

1595 was also the year of The Battle of San Juan. The battle was a Spanish victory in the Anglo-Spanish War that spanned the Atlantic, also being fought in Spain’s American colonies.

Physical Map of North America showing sea levels according to The Edinburgh Geographical Institute. This map was made around 1910 by cartographer  John Bartholomew  (1860-1920).

As everyone knows CIA director and former Army General David H. Petraeus resigned. He cited an affair as the reason. Apparently this all came to light after Petraeus contacted the FBI about concerns that someone had obtained access to his G-mail account. I cannot say I’m a big fan of Petraeous for a couple related reasons. he covered Bush and Cheney’s incompetence in their handling of Afghanistan. he talked a lot of smack about Iraq and what became known as the surge. By the time of the surge so much near genocidal violence had occurred there was not much to surge against. That did not stop Petraeous, Bush the conservative echo chamber ( later to include the biographer with which the General had his affair) from calling the surge a great success. That said I’m not sure why having an affair per se should be sufficient cause to hand in a resignation. Though I’m talking about practical reasons. It seems unlikely he could be blackmailed. Though it does appear possible the person who gained access to the e-mail account was Paula Broadwell, the co-author of a biography of Mr. Petraeus. he could have survived the scandal if it all became public. That is not how some conservative observers see it. Mr. Petraeus was to testify in a House inquiry into the Benghazi, Libya terror attacks.

“Petraeus resignation. Timing, everything suspicious,” tweeted Rupert Murdoch, the CEO and founder of News Corp.

“COINCIDENCE?! Petraeus is set to testify NEXT week at a closed door session on Capitol Hill abt Benghazi. Did BHO push him out? This stinks!” tweeted conservative radio host Laura Ingraham

Intelligence Community Points Out Fox Was Kinda Lying About Benghazi This Whole Time. The Conservative Gossip Brigade had run out of conspiracies on Libya. There was an immediate response from the CIA, some military forces were in route – but the whole thing was just over before they could stop the killing of embassy personnel.

Oh, yeah, it’s ONAs you may have noticed, the Wingnut Noise Machine is seriously pushing the notion that President Obama deliberately sat back and did nothing when a Libyan militia attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, apparently because he is either incompetent (the “charitable” view) or because he just plain hates America that much (the “reasonable doubt exists” view). It turns out that, according to intelligence officials, CIA agents stationed in Benghazi actually did come to the aid of the Consulate, as did a second CIA team sent from Tripoli, and Libyan military forces helped the surviving Americans get to the airport to escape after the attack. The officials also directly refuted Fox News’ claims that the CIA was ordered to “stand down,” and also dismissed the notion that airstrikes could have helped anyone in the consulate:

“Let’s say we were able to get an aircraft there. Do you go in and start strafing a populated area without knowing where friend or foe is?” a senior Defense official asked. “If you did that, you could kill the very people you are trying to help.”

Of course the Right’s dumbest blogger joined in (The Gateway Pundit). Drudge Sirens: Gen. David Petraeus Resigns CIA Due To Spying … Between The Sheets

Reaction from the wingnut press has been muted so far, although readers of the Stupidest Man On the Internet were quick to speculate that Barack Obama knew of the affair and blackmailed Petraeus to do nothing to save the lives of the Benghazi consulate staff. We await further thoughtful analysis from Pam Geller and Jerome Corsi.

So President Obama conspired ever so conveniently to hand the Swifboaters on 2012 a tragedy they could spin and exploit just before the election. That makes since in the context of having a slice of the moon with your kool-aid. For those not familiar, Mark Halperin is a conservative hit-man (1. Mark Halperin. Congratulations to the world’s laziest dispenser of conventional wisdom). He, with the help of the networks – like the Today Show like to himself as an independent political analysis.

HALPERIN: Whenever there’s tension — behind the scenes for the most part — between the executive branch, the political part of the executive branch, and the CIA and the intelligence community, you see a lot of high-stakes pressure back and forth. Sometimes there are threats. I’m not saying that’s what happened in this case affecting his resignation, but there’s no question that the political pressure on the State Department, on the White House, over the facts and circumstances of the tragedy in Benghazi was creating tension, has created tension, with the intelligence community and the CIA, and so, at a minimum, the context of General Petraeus’s resignation is a time of pretty heightened pressure on him with some very tough political actors who have had the tension over the way Benghazi’s been handled, both before and after the tragedy.

You can picture mark leaning over the shrubs by the fence whispering to the neighbor – I don’t know, but just say’n that there was tension. And you know the timing – Libya and Obama and Libya and Obama – and tensions between tough political actors. Like I don’t know, but maybe, and the timing , the CIA and Libyia… Mark is on every list of worse conservative hacks passing themselves off as unbiased journalists for a reason. Halperin does not make the news like flame throwers such as Limbaugh or Coulter, but in many ways he is worse. When people listen to Limbaugh and clones they know they’re getting manufactured talking points from the Republican Bubble of Reality. Halperin is always presented as an unbiased source of “news”.

This is a good report that shows how the Fox-Drudge pushed Libya conspiracy narrative is falling apart, In Benghazi timeline, CIA errors but no evidence of conspiracy

 

This is from yesterday, but still a good catch from Mike and crew, Le Folies du “Market Liberte”: Officials Want Military to Take Over Power Restoration on Long Island

Pardon my French but this “free market” fandango in the wake of hurricane Sandy continues to expose the failure of past policy.  Now local government officials are finally ready to call the troops in on Long Island.  Story at NBC-NY.

Newsday said a reporter on Thursday visited the Hicksville headquarters of National Grid, which is the company contracted by LIPA to oversee operations, and found engineers tracking outages with highlighters and paper maps.

Here is the wiki page of National Grid, which is headquarted in the UK and listed on the London Stock Exchange and looks like it is another one of these infrastructure “privatization” deals motivated by the desire to “save money that we don’t have” that always ends up taking out too much cash and leaving too little funds left to account for the real maintenance and real upgrades required for the real infrastructure.

Then as usual, some periodic crisis happens to expose the real neglect and the regulatory morons who set the deal up in the first place take no responsibility and try to get the federal government sector to bail them out in the end anyway.

We’ve seen these follies before. ( all emphasis mine)

I work in the corporate free market. It works well enough most of the time. It is never perfect. It is not the holy garden of market efficiency the Right and rightie libertarians portray it as. In the real world things are seldom excellent, much less perfect. I’m not sure why the champions of laissez-faire, let’s privatize everything cult  think they can sell their snake oil to anyone who lives outside the bubble.

 

Spruce Snow wallpaper – Yet Another Report Debunks Republican Tax Myths

Spruce Covered in Winter Snow wallpaper

 

One of conservatism’s most cherished myths is that the lower taxes are on the wealthy the more that trickles down to the middle-class and working poor. So any empirical data that shows Voodoo Economics Chapter 1, Verse 1, is false is offensive to the cult of conservatism. There will be no heresy on the subject. Republicans who have bathed in the waters of Trickle on America economics are not called heretics, though that is what they mean, they call them statists or socialists, or Glenn Beck calls them progressives as he hisses. So no wonder that Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his senate Politburo tried to censor a report showing that Trickle on America tax policy just made the rich richer. Nonpartisan Tax Report Withdrawn After G.O.P. Protest

The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording. ( link is a pdf of report. It may not last long)

The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.

But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”

Republicans did not say whether they had asked the research service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, to take the report out of circulation, but they were clear that they protested its tone and findings.

Mad Dog McConnell, after throwing a temper tantrum has claimed the CRS withdrew the report all on its own. Which is like the sidewalk madman that screams in your face and your walking to the other side of the street was strictly a voluntary act on your part. Why The GOP Muzzled The Library of Congress’s Research Agency

The withdrawal is, nonetheless, outrageous. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told the Times that the CRS report wasn’t just criticized by Republican senators; it was also criticized by what the Times (in a paraphrase) calls “people outside of Congress.” I wish the Times had taken the opportunity to say who these “people outside of Congress” are. You can probably guess. There’s the conservative Heritage Foundation. And there’s the Tax Foundation, a conservative nonprofit (not to be confused with the Tax Policy Center, which is non-ideological and nonpartisan but has nonetheless been vilified by the right for pointing out that Mitt Romney’s proposed tax cut benefited the rich at the expense of the middle class). The author of the CRS study, Thomas Hungerford, has written many excellent studies on themes directly or indirectly related to income distribution, and that’s made him a conservative target for some time. This past April, Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (a prominent income-inequality denialist and Romney adviser doomed never to live down his co-authorship, shortly before the dot-com bust, of a book titled Dow 36,000) testified before Congress’s  Joint Economic Committee that a different Hungerford report was “radically at odds with the literature. I relish academic debate, and think that authors serve a valuable service when they challenge research. But a CRS report that is supposed to inform about the consensus of the literature that veers so far from that activity is a disservice to Congress, and the taxpayers.” When Hassett cites “the literature” he means “the literature acceptable to AEI hacks and their Republican allies in Congress,” or what Jacob Weisberg has felicitously labelled “the Conintern.”

What’s the matter with the CRS report? Well, it calls the Bush tax cuts “the Bush tax cuts,” which is somehow deemed partisan but in fact is merely explanatory. The Bush tax cuts were tax cuts passed when George W. Bush was president. Bush proposed them, pushed them through Congress, and signed them into law. Even Republicans call the Bush tax cuts “the Bush tax cuts.” The CRS report also stands accused of making reference to “tax cuts for the rich.” This is unacceptably hurtful, I suppose, to a group that any sensitive person would know to call the “special-incomed.” As it happens, though, my PDF search of the CRS report reveals that nowhere does the phrase “tax cuts for the rich” appear. The word “rich” does appear here and there, but always in a neutral context, such as, “Under both definitions of the top of the income distribution (i.e., the rich) the income shares were relatively stable until the late 1970s and then started to rise.”

As Timothy Noah notes there is really no shocking news in the report. It is simply another report in a long history of reports that show the top tax rates for the top 1% have steadily declined over the past five decades – under Democrats and conservatives. Despite those ever lower tax rates, there has been no real benefit to the country in terms of improved or better maintained infrastructure, better education, lower post secondary education costs, a bigger space program, or more investment in technology or scientific research – or narrowing the wage inequality gap. In all these areas of public policy, thus national progress, we have fallen behind. Conservatives decided in 2008 that they really really cared about the deficit. If that were true they would have paid for their spending from 2000 to 2008. Currently they would tap into new revenue streams – like having a minimum tax for millionaires and rising the capital gains tax to 30%. Instead they use some math that would shame a 6th grader, propose gutting Medicare and rising the age for Social Security again ( even though the only people living appreciably longer are the wealthy, not the working class Americans who really need those programs they have invested in over the course of their working life). Sites like World Nut Daily and of course Fox News display big headlines about the billions spent on Medicare. Just the sticker shock is supposed to scare people. What should scare people is America’s seniors and disabled living off baloney and Romain noodles, not being able to afford their meds.

Romney’s Tax Secrecy: Did He Get Away With It? The short answer is yes because most of the media gets tried of a story and likes to move on.

3. Did Romney really get away with something? On one level, the answer clearly seems to be yes: Romney has managed to get through an entire campaign for president without having to give up the basic information his predecessors did, information that could have been seriously damaging to his prospects, and now finds himself a lucky break or two from the White House. But the strategists are quick to argue that this elusiveness came at a cost. Romney’s secretiveness about his taxes, they say, was a major element of the unflattering frame the Obama campaign managed to construct around him for most of the campaign, of a self-interested plutocrat who was not to be trusted. “He paid a price,” Jordan said. “When these issues were front and center, as he was becoming known to the American public, this oddness, this secrecy, this penchant did help to shape his image in significant ways….The image of him as being secretive and behaving in sort of unprecedentedly plutocratic ways has sunk in.” Again, Devine agrees. “He’s gotten away with it, but it’s hurt him,” he said. He noted that Obama’s stubborn polling lead in Ohio is almost surely due in part to effective attacks over on the summer on Bain Capital and the few things that have emerged about Romney’s taxes, including his accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, which were so memorably targeted in this ad. “In terms of getting away with it,” concludes Devine,“it’s only something can get away with if…you’ve won the election.”

Let’s envision this imaginary Democratic candidate: he dodged the draft ( well, got deferments for some thin reasons), used leveraged buyouts to cut American jobs and outsource them, used government tax breaks and loans to make himself wealthy, told everyone he was a self-made entrepreneur, kept money in multiple offshore banks, used some very creative accounting to have an IRA account worth over million, set up his own charity to which he donated and took the tax deductions, told 533 documented lies in 30 days. That Democrat would have been bulldozed and buried by the conservative media a year ago. His decaying corpse would be getting nada in the polls. Yet, here we have a Republican with just that record and he is at least competitive. Romentum seems to be largely a construct of the Romney campaign, echoed by the right-wing noise machine. He is actually trying to buy the election in Pennsylvania with a media blitz. Ditto for Ohio. He has lost ground in Virginia and Florida. The noise machines’ answer to all of this is to try to tie President Obama to some kind of negligence in regards the terrorist attacks in Libya. The picture is messy, but the evidence suggests that is probably largely due to the CIA letting out new information in bits and pieces, C.I.A. Played Major Role Fighting Militants in Libya Attack

Security officers from the C.I.A. played a pivotal role in combating militants who attacked the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, deploying a rescue party from a secret base in the city, sending reinforcements from Tripoli, and organizing an armed Libyan military convoy to escort the surviving Americans to hastily chartered planes that whisked them out of the country, senior intelligence officials said Thursday.

The account given by the senior officials, who did not want to be identified, provided the most detailed description to date of the C.I.A.’s role in Benghazi, a covert presence that appears to have been much more significant than publicly disclosed.

Within 25 minutes of being alerted to the attack against the diplomatic mission, half a dozen C.I.A. officers raced there from their base about a mile away, enlisting the help of a handful of Libyan militia fighters as they went. Arriving at the mission about 25 minutes after that, the C.I.A. officers joined State Department security agents in a futile search through heavy smoke and enemy fire for Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens before evacuating the mission’s personnel to the apparent safety of their base, which American officials have called an annex to the mission. Mr. Stevens was one of four Americans killed in the attack.

The entire episode was over in no more than eight hours. The deaths seemed to have taken place within the first hour- the first wave of the attack. So conservatives who want to drop all of this in Obama’s lap have two expectations of the readers they want to buy into their account: that Obama is Superman and did not use his super powers to squash the attack immediately or he is an incompetent commander-in-chief. This is from the same people who thought that George W. Bush was a great leader when he landed on an aircraft carrier and declared ‘mission accomplished’ after which over 4000 Americans died in a needless war. It is not that conservative propagandists are wrong about Libya – and pumping it into a scandal (Hidden Tapes & Secret Emails: Right Wing Now Throwing Kitchen Sink At Obama On Benghazi, Libya) directly connected to the White House, it is about the credibility of conservative pundits and pols who have a cowardly brazen record of shoving disinformation down America’s throat. Four Star General debunks claims of Obama lies and dereliction in Benghazi-gate

The Benghazi arm chair generals on Fox News like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly cannot be too happy today with the comments made by retired Four-Star General Jack Keane yesterday regarding “Benghazi-gate” and the laying of blame on President Obama. Being interviewed by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News, General Jack Keane basically debunked the theory that more could have been done to conduct a timely rescue mission at the U.S. consulate in Libya or that the President somehow screwed up or was incompetent. Here are some of the General’s direct quotes:

“The consulate was stormed”.
“There was no gunships in the region”.
“There was nothing that could have prevented it”.
“It was over in about an hour”.
“Forces got there as soon as possible”.
“To politicize this is very hurtful”.

General Keane is already catching a lot of flack and criticism from those on the right and the Romney supporters for his comments. Even for the Obama-haters it is disrespectful and despicable to call an experienced Four Star General a liar who is covering for the White House and the Commander in Chief a liar and a coward. It’s rather ironic for those who would politicize this tragedy to call the President a coward, when it was Mitt Romney who was the draft dodger – ahem! a draft deferment- while his peers were getting shot and killed in Vietnam.

There does seem to be some push back between the Sate Department and the CIA. I’ve ready some theories about this and let’s just say they’re armchair theories for now. Most of us know how Washington works. If you’re completely honest you’ll get buried. If you let out more than one version of a story, varying just a word or two, you’ll be nailed for the biggest cover-up since Watergate. I would like The Daily Beast to survive as a media outlet, but they’re doomed if they think this piece by Eli Lake ( who used to work for the conservative rag The Washington Times) is news, Two U.S. officials tell Eli Lake the State Dept. never requested military backup the night of the attack.

The only security backup that did arrive that evening were former special-operations soldiers under the command of the CIA—one from the nearby annex and another Quick Reaction Force from Tripoli. On Friday, Fox News reported that requests from CIA officers for air support on the evening of the attacks were rejected. (The Daily Beast was not able to confirm that those requests were made, though no U.S. official contacted for this story directly refuted the claim either.)

Lake resorts to the theory or pure conjecture that military assistance would have stopped the last part of the attack – which was the mortar attack that killed a SEAL  ( who might have been there working for the CIA). That sounds like a discussion you could have over beers at the kitchen table and everyone puts in their two cents worth. We’re all entitled to our little theories and what if’s. that is not the same thing as fact based reporting. Think back to the initial breaking of the story. In that flurry of media reports we were all told there was no military response. We were likely told that because the CIA did not want anyone to know they were there. That leaves gaps for the Republican keyboard commandos to drive a truck through.

Republicans are a threat to American workers, grandparents and national security

Black and White Cloudy Night New York wallpaper

 

Five Practical Reasons Not To Vote Republican. Politics are practical for some of us. For many it is a form of endless hysteria, a set of dangerous myths wrapped in red, white and blue, the rantings of a drug addicted lunatic on radio, false indignation, urban myths, character assassination or resentment over pennies instead of resentment over hard scramble lives that don not need to be that way. So appeals to practicality seem out of place, a soft spoken plea in an era where we actually have very wealthy people complaining about how difficult times are for them. Apparently some may be ready to fire all their employees or move out.

1. Economic Darwinism — Republicans want the Poor to Pay

Paul Ryan’s proposed budget would take about a half-trillion dollars a year from programs that support the poor.

[  ]…The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), another vital program that serves 50 million “food insecure” Americans, would be cut by $16 billion under the House version of the Farm Bill. The average recipient currently gets $4.30 a day for food.

Republicans also voted to end the Child Tax Credit, and favor a tax plan that would eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Almost from day one of the Wall Street meltdown conservatives have used the recession to declare war on the working poor. Only about 2% of Americans are chronically poor. The rest are near destitute for a while, get some kind of job and stop getting assistance. So those at the bottom of the economic ladder do pay their way the vast majority of their life times. If our free market system was perfect we would not need much of a safety net for the poor, but its not perfect. While the tea smokers complained about bailing out Wall Street you sure don’t here any conservative running for office this election cycle talk about how when they are elected they’re going to go after the people who siphoned off $15 trillion dollars or more of the nation’s wealth and are still living in their McMansions despite their bad decisions. In ConWorld workers have to be punished for being workers, while the wealthy are rewarded simply for being wealthy.

2. Payroll Tax — Republicans want the Middle Class to Pay

Encouraged by the steady Republican demand for lower corporate tax rates, big business has effected a stunning shift in taxpaying responsibility over the years, from corporate income tax to worker payroll tax. For every dollar of payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents.

It’s gotten worse in recent years, as corporations decided to drastically cut their tax rates after the start of the recession. After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, they’ve paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes.

Republicans claim that almost half of Americans don’t pay taxes. But when payroll and state and local taxes are considered, middle-income Americans pay at about the same rate as the highest earners. Only about 17% of households paid no federal income tax or payroll tax in 2009. And average workers get little help from people who make most of the money. Because of the $110,000 cutoff for payroll tax deductions, the richest 10% of Americans save $150 billion a year in taxes.

3. Job Shrinkage — Republicans want Young People to Pay

The jobs that exist for young Americans are paying much less than just a few years ago. During and after the recession, according to the National Employment Law Project, low-wage jobs ($7.69 to $13.83 per hour) dropped by 21 percent, and then grew back at a 58 percent rate. Mid-wage jobs ($13.84 to $21.13 per hour) dropped by 60 percent and grew back at a 22 percent rate. In other words, the median wage is falling fast.

Unemployment for workers under 25 stands at 16.4 percent, twice the national average. Half of recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed.

Yet Republicans killed a jobs bill that was supported by two-thirds of the public.

An academic study of employment data over 64 years found that an average of two million jobs per year were created under Democratic presidents, compared to one million under Republican presidents. Similar results were reported by the Bloomberg Government Barometer.

4. Retirement Planning — Republicans want the Seniors to Pay

There’s a common misconception in our country that most seniors are financially secure. Actually, Census data reveals that elderly people experience greater inequality than any other population group, with the poorest one-fifth receiving just 5.5% of the group’s total resources, while the wealthiest one-fifth receives 46%.

The senior wealth gap is further evidenced by data during the great 30-year surge in inequality. The average over-60 wealth was five times greater than the median in 1995, as would be expected with a small percentage of ultra-high-net-worth individuals and a great majority of low-wealth people. Further confirmation comes from 2004 Harvard data that shows rising inequality within all age groups, including the elderly. Indeed, an MIT study found that about 46% of U.S. senior citizens have less than $10,000 in financial assets when they die.

For the vast majority of seniors, Social Security has been life-sustaining, accounting for 55% of their annual income. Because of this successful and popular program, the senior poverty rate has dropped from 50% to 10%, and due to life-long contributions from working Americans the program has a $2.7 trillion surplus while contributing nothing to the deficit. Yet Republicans want to undo it.

5. Public Fire Sale — Republicans want Society to Pay

The common good is threatened by the Republican disdain for public resources. Drilling and mining and pipeline construction continues on public lands, and the House of Representatives has voted over 100 times since 2011 to subsidize the oil and gas industry while weakening environmental, public health, and safety requirements. The “land grab” is pitting corporate muscle against citizens’ rights.

Sadly, most of America envisions a new era of energy independence that increases our world-leading consumption of energy while depending on a proliferation of dirty technologies to extract it. Threats of methane emissions, water pollution, and earthquake activity don’t deter the fossil fuel enthusiasts.

It gets worse. Republicans are eager to sell public land. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” proposes to sell millions of acres of “unneeded federal land” and billions of dollars worth of federal assets. His running mate Mitt Romney admits that he doesn’t know “what the purpose is” of public lands.

That brings us to the heart of the reasons not to vote Republican. Their reckless belief in the free market, and their dependency on corporatization and privatization to run the country, means that middle-class Americans keep paying for the fabulously wealthy people at the top who think they deserve everything they’ve taken from society.

There are some things which can be privatized, but for others the costs far outweigh the benefits – 5 Curses of Privatization That Will Be Haunting Us For a Long Time. Essential public needs are fast becoming the newest products on the market — with the benefits only going to those who buy them. At least in comment sections on the internet the conservative trolls have either never worked for a corporation or their meds are too strong. Corporations are monolithic monsters in many ways. The corporate culture of America is mired in inefficiencies, greed and inept management. I know because I live  and work in the real world. Like everyone else I have to deal with people like telecoms, internet service providers and utility companies among other industries as a customer. Sometimes things go smoothly, but there are also the nightmares of customer service. You hand over national parks to these people and think that some magic will occur that will make corporations better stewards of America’s natural heritage? Step away from the kool-aid. Corporate executives frequently make it to the top, not because they are great at what they do, but because they were the best manipulators, ass kissers or had the right connections.

Memo to Joe Biden about debate with Ryan

Emphasize these points: Ryan’s budget turns Medicare into vouchers. It includes the same $716 billion of savings Romney last week accused the President of cutting out of Medicare – but instead of getting it from providers he gets it from the elderly.

It turns Medicaid over to cash-starved states, with even less federal contribution. This will hurt the poor as well as middle-class elderly in nursing homes.

Over 60 percent of its savings come out of programs for lower-income Americans – like Pell grants and food stamps.

Yet it gives huge tax cuts to the top 1 percent – some $4.7 trillion over the next decade. (This is the same top 1 percent, you might add, who have reaped 93 percent of the gains from the recovery, whose stock portfolios have regained everything they lost and more, and who are now taking home a larger share of total income than at any time in the last eighty years and paying the lowest taxes than at any time since before World War II.)

As a result it doesn’t reduce the federal debt at all. In fact, it worsens it.

On top of all this, Ryan is on record – as is Romney – for wanting to repeal both ObamaCare (taking coverage away from 30 million Americans) and the Dodd-Frank law (thereby giving cover to Wall Street).

Your challenge will be get this across firmly and clearly, with an appropriate degree of indignation – on a medium that rewards style over substance, glibness over detail, and optimistic happy talk over grim reality.

My suggestion: Be cheerfully aggressive. Take Ryan on directly and sharply but do so with a smile. Force him to take responsibility for the regressiveness of his budget and the radicalism of his ideology.

Prepare your closing carefully (unlike the President seemed to have done last week), and tell America the unvarnished truth: Romney and Ryan plan to do a reverse Robin Hood at a time in our nation’s history when the rich have never had it so good while the rest haven’t been as economically insecure since the Great Depression.

Ryan, like Romney, is determined to defend every penny of people who are completely disconnected from the context of how they made their money. Conservatives are willfully blind to all the complexities of a modern economy. They have a Ayn Rand cartoon character view of how capital is created. They’re the saints of wealth at the top of the mountain who got their all on their own. And to make Barack Obama or any Democrat the demon determined to drag them down is laughable. Increasing taxes to what they were under the Clinton administration is no where near the end of prosperity or capitalism. The only reason that morons like Ryan get elected is that sadly, many voters are even dumber or more gullible them he is.

This is not some hot off the presses story that is going to change many minds, but just another tell-tale part of the Romney trail. How when it comes down to the choice between the values he says he has and money, Mitt always goes with the cash. Mitt Romney Lined His Pockets Pimping Big Tobacco In Russia

Which brings me back to my original question: Is there a moral question involved when profits depend on promoting a product clearly proven to cause health problems and which is banned from one’s own religion?

It’s not an easy question to me. If Romney were not Mormon, he would still have to wrestle with whether it was a good idea to introduce products into an emerging market which only harmed people. There’s no question now that tobacco does harm and there was no question then. So even without the Mormon ban on tobacco, how is pimping tobacco products in Russia a moral and right thing to do?

One last bit. It seems that House Republicans lead by the sleazy Darrell Issa (R), in their unhinged zeal to pin blame for the embassy attack in Libya, may have exposed the CIA to some blow back, Letting us in on a secret

Through their outbursts, cryptic language and boneheaded questioning of State Department officials, the committee members left little doubt that one of the two compounds at which the Americans were killed, described by the administration as a “consulate” and a nearby “annex,” was a CIA base. They did this, helpfully, in a televised public hearing.

…The Republican lawmakers, in their outbursts, alternated between scolding the State Department officials for hiding behind classified material and blaming them for disclosing information that should have been classified. But the lawmakers created the situation by ordering a public hearing on a matter that belonged behind closed doors.

Republicans were aiming to embarrass the Obama administration over State Department security lapses. But they inadvertently caused a different picture to emerge than the one that has been publicly known: that the victims may have been let down not by the State Department but by the CIA. If the CIA was playing such a major role in these events, which was the unmistakable impression left by Wednesday’s hearing, having a televised probe of the matter was absurd.

The chairman, attempting to close his can of worms, finally suggested that “the entire committee have a classified briefing as to any and all other assets that were not drawn upon but could have been drawn upon” in Benghazi.

Good idea. Too bad he didn’t think of that before putting the CIA on C-SPAN.

Republicans are a threat to grandpa and national security. That is not news, they been like this for years and have no plans to change.