Tag Archives: Citizen

Rethinking the D.C. “Scandals”

As “scandals” (both real and manufactured) continue to garner news coverage, I’ve changed my views a little bit on at least one issue.  With the news today of the Obama administration admitting 4 American citizens have been killed by drone strikes, I now count 4 scandals.  I still believe that much the emphasis in DC is on politics, I still believe a the scandals are being overblown simply to inflict as much political harm as possible on the Obama administration.  However, as more information continues to trickle out, I do have serious concerns about how the Obama administration has handled 2 issues, while the other 2 in my mind are pure political fluff.  The 2 “fluffy” issues first:

- Benghazi – It would be different if Republicans were focused on improving diplomatic security.  However, given that Republicans have been against increasing funding for diplomatic security, given that they’ve given NO indication they care about anything other than using the issue to try to politically harm Obama and Hillary Clinton, it’s hard to see much of a scandal here.  Hey, Repubs…how about spending a little more time worrying about how to prevent the NEXT attack, rather than worrying about what words were used by the Obama administration to describe the LAST attack?

- IRS “Targeting” Tea Party groups – I’m sorry, but despite the play this is getting in the press, I don’t find a lot wrong with the IRS specifically paying more attention to Tea Party groups claiming tax-exempt status.  Given the Tea Party’s hatred of government, given the Tea Party’s goal of decreasing the size of government, given their goal of DECREASING TAXES, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to more closely scrutinize Tea Party organizations who are trying to claim tax-exempt status.

And two scandals that do have me concerned about the direction of the Obama administration:

- Justice Department/AP/Fox leak investigations. This one has become more troubling to me as more information comes out.  Investigating the sources of leaks? I’m fine with that, and given the hawkish-ness of Republicans in general, if this was coming out during the Bush administration, you can be damned sure you’d have a lot less uproar from the right. Hell, they’d probably be joining the call to stop the leaks by any means necessary.  But with the hated Obama in office?  Since when have Republicans been big fans of the press?  It certainly is troubling though to see the Justice Department apparently pursue criminal charges against a Fox News reporter for reporting leaked information.  That’s an incredibly dangerous precedent, labeling a journalist as a “co-conspirator”.  Go after the leaks, by all means, but don’t criminalize journalists for reporting leaks.

- Drone Attacks on Americans – In the newest of the scandals, Eric Holder today admitted that four Americans have died due to drone strikes overseas.  Holder said 3 of the 4 “weren’t targeted”.  Sorry, but given the disappointing levels of paranoia and secrecy within the Obama administration, saying they were killed but “not targeted” doesn’t bring a lot of comfort.  Killing American citizens without trial is one hell of a scary path to follow, regardless of the alleged terrorist or criminal activities of the target.

I obviously lean pretty far to the left…but…I’m becoming increasingly disappointed in the Obama administration.  The political naivety of Obama’s first term seems to be swinging towards a more secretive, paranoid, and closed administration as his second term gets underway.  What happened to the promises of a more open and honest government?  What happened to promises for ENDING the brutal practices begun under the Bush administration (ever gonna close Guantanamo, Mr. Obama)?

The right’s pure hatred for Obama certainly has led to gridlock in Washington, and has certainly fueled the flames of the “scandals”.  The right’s attempts to DIRECTLY link Obama, or Hillary Clinton, with these scandals is an overreach on their part, and distracts from any serious discussion of the underlying issues.  It’s pretty obvious that Obama (or Hillary Clinton) didn’t play any role in the decisions that affected security in Benghazi, and any attempt to turn word-choice after the fact into a “scandal” is failing miserably.  It’s pretty obvious that Obama himself had no role in the IRS ‘targeting’ of Tea Party groups.

However, despite the right overplaying their hand and blowing the scandals out of proportion, Obama certainly isn’t doing himself any favors lately.  He’s rapidly losing any chance to accomplish anything on his 2nd-term agenda, and if he doesn’t make a bold move and quash the scandal machine, it’s going to be his own political failings that are blamed for a lame-duck 2nd term, rather than the blame falling on Republicans hell-bent on gridlock.

Troubling Issues from Boston…

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent capture of one of the perpetrators, some troubling issues have arisen.  Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and other Republicans (of course) are calling for Dzhokar Tsarnaev to be held as an “enemy combatant”.  Can you claim the bombing was “terrorism”?  Of course. However, this isn’t a foreign national in custody…it’s an American citizen.

The kid is scum…he deserves to punished under the full weight of the law.   I can’t imagine why ANY human being would do the acts he’s accused of. Given the evidence, there currently appears to be little chance of him escaping at least a lifetime in prison.  The issue about how he’s being treated under the law isn’t about Dzhokar Tsarnaev himself, it’s about American ideology. 

The Tsarnaev brothers certainly turned Boston upside down and instilled a lot of fear in folks.   I just hope that fear doesn’t cloud people’s judgement about what America stands for.  This ISN’T Russia.  The Tsarnaev’s left Chechnya to escape an oppressive regime, one where brutality and lack of due process under the law were threats to all who opposed government control.  I don’t know why they turned to such a despicable act, but it would be ironic if their presence and crime in America moved OUR justice system towards a system more like Russia’s. 

Watching the news coverage of the events, I can’t also help but be concerned about the media’s (and public’s) fixation on their religious status.  The younger brother in custody is an American citizen.  I would bet the farm that he WOULD have been read his Miranda rights, that he WOULD have been treated as a normal “criminal”…if he hadn’t come from Chechnya, and ESPECIALLY if he hadn’t had indications of ties with the Muslim faith. 

I understand the concern about further danger, and of course authorities want to know whether there are any other collaborators or any other explosive devices that may be out there.  However, to me, it’s (yet another) act of mass murder committed by an American citizen.  While his background should indeed be relevant to the investigation, it should NOT drive how he is treated under the law.

Read the scum his Miranda rights, charge him in the criminal courts, and let him spend the rest of his miserable life in high-security prison.  Treating an American citizen as an “enemy combatant”, even a scum like Dzhokar Tsarnaev, just means that the Tsarnaev’s have won.

Voting for Romney? Consider what CEOs and Massachusetts Citizens Think

David Siegel - Westgate Resorts CEO

David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, is doing OK. He's building the largest home in the United States. His company has 40% more employees now than shortly after the recession began. But yet he's threatening his employees that a Obama reelection would mean many would lose their jobs.

David Siegel, CEO of Westgate Resorts, made some waves in the news this week when it was discovered he sent an email to his 7,000 employees, telling them that their jobs were in jeopardy if Obama were reelected.  According to Mr. Siegel, “The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your jobs.  What does threaten your job, however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration”. According to Siegel, a Obama reelection would doom his company and force them to make job cuts.  It’s a rather interesting conclusion by Siegel, given that his company has expanded hiring significantly in the last few years with Obama as president.  His company dropped to fewer than 5,000 employees after the financial crisis, but has expanded by 40% since then…with Obama as president.

I love the doom and gloom from those on the right, who try to scare the ignorant American voter (roughly, oh, 90% of American voters qualify as ignorant, including voters from both the left and right).  Some way, somehow, we’ve survived 3 1/2 years under Obama without a complete collapse of the country.  Somehow under Obama, we’ve pulled out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  But for folks like Siegel and other who use scare tactics, it’s the NEXT four years where the “real” Obama will magically emerge and lead us into ruin.

Of course under Obama, for folks like Siegel, “ruin” has meant a mending economy an an expansion of corporate profits.  Under Obama, Mr. Siegel has managed to BARELY eke out a working wage…he’s now building the largest private home in the United States.  I’d say he’s doing OK.  But for the uber-rich, it’s not enough.  They want Romney, and policies that are even MORE skewed to benefit the rich and powerful.

So what does the average, INFORMED citizen think of Romney?  Who better to ask than the citizens of Massachusetts, who had the “pleasure” of having Romney as their governor.  Shortly after being elected, Romney had an approval rating of over 60% in Massachusetts.  By the time he left office?  Romney had a miserable 34% approval rating.  The citizens of Massachusetts personally experienced life under a Romney administration. And by a 2-to-1 margin, they disapproved of the man and his performance.

So…how are you going to vote?  Are you a CEO?  Well good for you…you can follow the example of CEO Siegel and vote for Romney.  While you’re at it, go ahead and threaten your employees’ about their jobs, should they vote for Obama.  After all, in America, the ONLY thing that matters is keeping the uber-rich happy.

Alternatively…perhaps you’d rather trust the opinions of the Massachusetts citizens who LIVED under Romney.  What presidential candidate, what former governor, has EVER lost his home state by as much as Romney is poised to lose Massachusetts to Obama?  What does that say about the man, when those who know him best resoundingly reject the man as a capable political leader?

Who are you going to believe? The uber-rich CEO?  Or the people of Massachusetts?

You are NOT entitled to your opinion – Shut the hell up

From Patrick Stokes, here’s a nice piece on why you are sometimes NOT “entitled to your opinion”.   The point he’s making is that you are only “entitled” to an opinion that you can make a coherent argument for.  He uses an example of anti-vaccination paranoia to make his point, where the manic anti-vaccine crowd doesn’t have a scientific leg to stand on.  Science is science, fact is fact.  If your opinion is based on conjecture, intuition, “faith”, or other factor not supported by the facts?  Then you are NOT entitled to your opinion, when trying to argue against science and against fact.

Thus, a “Shut the Hell Up” topic for this post.  As we enter the home stretch of the presidential election, it’s rather laughable to read some of the opinions of those on the right.  Do you believe any of the following?  If so, then please do everyone else a favor, and save yourself some embarrassment.  Just Shut…the…hell…up.

- Obama Muslim? Obama a non-citizen? – Do I need to even mention these? Are you a disgusting, racist, pig-of-a-human being who believes Obama is not a citizen?  Do you believe that historical newspaper reports and a birth certificate are simply part of some massive conspiracy? Are you a disgusting, racist, pig-of-a-human being who refers to Obama as “Barack Husein Obama” and believes he’s secretly a Muslim?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, PLEASE…SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- Evolution Denial – Science is based on theory.  Theories are tested, with evidence either supporting or negating hypotheses.  With evolution, the evidence is extremely clear, both in the fossil record, and in real-world, observable processes.  Do you believe in creationism?  I really don’t care if you believe some omnipotent, all-powerful entity created the earth and the universe, IF you can reconcile that in your own mind with the science.  Do you believe evolution is false?  Do you believe evolution is a “lie straight from hell”, like Paul Broun, quite possibly the most ignorant congressman in the U.S.?  Do you belive the earth is just a few thousand years old?  If so, then SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.  Save yourself the embarrassment that’s sure to come whenever you open your mouth.

- Climate Change Denial – Possibly as soon as 5 years from now, the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer for the first time in at least 13 million years.  The U.S. is about to set a record for its warmest year ever.  Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, and the scientific evidence continues to overwhelmingly point to not only a warming climate, but a warming climate caused by anthropogenic activity.  Do you believe climate change isn’t real?  Do you believe scientists and liberals are involved in some unprecedented, massive conspiracy to somehow consolidate government power by pointing to climate change?  Do you believe that climate change is occurring, but humans have nothing to do with it?  If so…SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- Polls are politically biased – Just one week ago, before the debates, conservative talking heads and blogs were expressing outrage over the liberal bias of polls that showed Obama with a healthy and growing lead over Romney.  Obama with a 6-point lead in Ohio?  A 5-point lead in Florida?  BALONEY, said those on the right!  It’s a liberal conspiracy to discourage Republicans and depress voter turnout from the right!!  One short week later, and an Obama debate flop has the poll trends strongly reversing towards Romney. Hey Rush?  Do you still think the polls are biased toward Obama?  How about you other buffoons and blowhards who scoff at polls when they show Democrats ahead?  GMAFB.  The very success and long-term continuance of polling entities depends on them being RIGHT.  If they’re wrong, they are ignored in future elections and the polling group goes out of business.  Are you one of those idiots who thinks political polls are purposely biased towards Democrats?  Do you think there’s some conspiracy in the polls to depress Republican turnout?  If so, then SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- 1997 Michigan was better than 1997 Nebraska - A bit off topic, but…do you believe the 1997 Michigan Wolverines would beat the 1997 Nebraska Cornhuskers?  Do you believe the Wolverines were “robbed” when a perfect, 13-0 Nebraska team finished first in the coaches poll, while the Wolverines finished first in the AP poll?  Puh-lease.  The Nebraska ground game easily wears down the Wolverine defense, and the Blackshirts dominate the Wolverines.  Final score if they’d have played?  Nebraska 31, Michigan 13.  Do you believe the Wolverines were the better team?  Laughable!  SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- Unemployment numbers manipulated by Obama and Liberals - Unemployment numbers out last week were good by any measure, with unemployment falling to 7.8%.  Good news, right?  Well, to nutjob conservatives, ANYTHING positive that could EVER be attributed to Obama has to be a lie!  A liberal conspiracy!  Clearly Obama has somehow influenced the unemployment statistics!  Are you one of those conservative wackos who believes last week’s unemployment numbers were altered by Obama?  Please, just SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- Romney Budget Miracle - Do you believe that you can simultaneously 1) Cut taxes 2) Maintain or raise military spending, and 3) balance the budget?  Romney/Ryan seem to believe in such a formula for long-term fiscal sanity.  Do you believe it’s possible?  GMAFB….SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

- Voter ID Regulations Are About Voter FraudReport after report show that voter fraud in the U.S. is insignificant.  However, a number of states have pushed strict voter ID regulations, with Republican-led state legislatures and governors leading the charge to increase scrutiny of in-person voters.  If in-person voter fraud isn’t an issue, if very few instances have been documented…why the push by Republican state legislatures to push for very strict voter ID laws?  Under oath, I don’t think you’d even get most Republicans to say the laws are about curbing voter fraud.  It’s about suppressing votes by minorities and other groups who historically lean very heavily towards Democrats.  It’s a form of discrimination, it’s a form of racism, it’s about voter suppression.  If you believe it’s actually about voter fraud?  You’re an idiot…SHUT…THE…HELL…UP.

Perusin' & Musin'

Some random thoughts from perusin’ the web…

Hispanic Students Vanishing in Alabama – After an appeals court refused to block a tough new Alabama immigration law from taking effect, schools are reporting very sharp drops in attendance from Hispanic students.  Many Hispanic families have said they plan to leave Alabama, which I’m sure is cause for celebration for the bigots Alabama people who support the law.   If they keep at it, maybe they’ll be able to achieve their dream of having a lily-white, minority-free Alabama.

Black Oystercatcher Faring Well in California - It’s always nice to focus on good news for a change!  There’s been concern over the status of Black Oystercatchers on the Pacific Coast, but a recent survey in California found many more nesting pairs than expected.  Great to hear, as these are one of my favorite birds.  I’ve been fortunate to get a number of very good photo opportunities on a few trips to California and Oregon.

Bachman Says China Attacking U.S. Satellites with Lasers!!! -  During an interview on the Laura Ingraham show, Michele Bachman said China has been attacking and “blinding” U.S. military satellites with lasers.  Uh…Michele…maybe it would be best if you just slowly faded from the public spotlight.  You seem incapable of opening your mouth without complete BS coming out.  But when you’re talking on conservative talk radio, the audience demands right-wing wackiness, and Bachman certainly delivers.

Morality of U.S. Killing a U.S. Citizen with a Drone Strike - The first reaction upon the U.S. confirming the killing of American-born Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen seemed to be overwhelmingly positive.  We had, after all, just killed someone described as the highest priority target since bin Laden was killed.   After a day or so though, many articles appeared questioning the morality of the U.S. government targeting and killing a U.S. citizen.   It’s a tough issue.   I’m against the death penalty, and think it’s simply barbaric for us to deal with criminality using the death penalty as a punishment.  But even for me, war is another issue.  I certainly don’t agree with the reasons nations go to war, but, unfortunately, even I recognize that at times, war is unavoidable.  Given that we simply do not have the capability to capture, jail, and try people like al-Awlaki, there’s often not a lot of choice in terms of how to conduct a “war on terror”.  Even with al-Awlaki technically a U.S. citizen, as distasteful as it seems, I’m not sure there’s not much else that could be done.  What a world we live in…

Israel Approves New Settlements in Occupied Territory - On the other hand…maybe there IS more the U.S. can do to combat terrorism, than rely on the military and drone strikes.  It ALL comes back to Middle Eastern attitudes towards the U.S., and that basically boils down to Israel and the issue of a Palestinian state.   This week after Palestinian President Abbas went to the U.N. for support of statehood, Israel announced they were approving the construction of 1,100 new homes for Jewish “settlers” in East Jerusalem.  I REALLY get sick of those that insist the U.S. continually, and seemingly unquestioningly, support Israeli interests.  If Israel had ANY real interest in a two-state solution, it wouldn’t be continually provoking Palestinians through actions such as this.  For once, I wish the U.S. would put their foot down and threaten to withhold Israeli aid, if they continue to build settlements in the occupied lands.

Traveller Arrested with Hummingbirds in his Pants - A Dutch traveler was arrested when airport authorities found a dozen live hummingbirds sewn into his underwear.  Evidently, this same idiot already had a previous arrest for smuggling hummingbirds.  I guess I didn’t realize there was a big black-market out there for hummingbirds.  This is pretty sick though.  I can’t imagine they would live very long all wrapped up like that, in someone’s underwear.