The Benghazi Report – June 28, 2016

 

Trey Gowdy 2 big

 

Obviously I am writing this and I have not read the 800 pages in the Benghazi Report. I will wait for the summary assigned to some poor intern who will have to read the whole thing, or perhaps it will be split up and shared out among interns. But I have a few things to say and luckily because of free speech I can say them. Besides the fact that Trey Gowdy always looks about twelve, I have to say, for the record, that despite his seemingly boyish appearance, I do not trust him. He is the king of innuendo. Innuendo is a technique to make someone look guilty when there is not enough evidence to prove that they actually are. I believe that he made his conclusions before the committee was ever convened and that he engineered what went on in the committee to give credence to his interpretation of events. I watched him interview witnesses and he did not let them speak. It was not conducted as an investigation but as a tribunal.

Trey Gowdy says that this report is not about one person, and he is probably telling the truth. This is about elections – the one in 2012 and the one in 2016. Republicans are rabid to win the Presidency and they have proven it by their strategies in the states and in the Congress. The GOP believes that if the Obama administration had stressed that this was a terrorist attack happening on 9/11 then the GOP would have won the 2012 election. If they can prove that the Democrats in office deliberately dithered about their response to the Benghazi attacks because their actions would hurt them in the imminent election, and that our American guys died for reasons of political expediency, it will so disgust Americans that they will have to turn against the Democratic Party and vote for the Republican candidate even if it is Donald Trump. He uses the buck stops with her argument to convict Hillary.

Historically, diplomats have been killed during several different administrations. I have looked it up before. It is in the record. It is still unclear, after listening to the discussion on the news this morning, if a rescue force could have reached Benghazi. The chatter still says that is was impossible. Trey Gowdy asks why we didn’t have troops in the area, as if Libya were the only trouble spot in these chaotic times.

These terrorist attacks apparently happened fast, they were very effective, and they were secret. This certainly has implications for our lack of intelligence, which we have discussed often enough and which still seems to require plenty of attention, our progress more like two steps forward; one step back. It is sad if all that dithering really happened with our troops changing in and out of uniforms four times as reported. If the plane could still have not reached Benghazi on time anyway then at least the dithering did not affect the outcome and is included in the report as a rebuke on guess who.

Gowdy says they do not blame Hillary in the report and although they may not do so in so many words it is baked into the cake so to speak, otherwise why the talk about private emails they were able to get access to. Two committee members issued a report that does blame Hillary and says that Hillary’s leadership was “morally reprehensible”. They did not discuss all of the reasons for their conclusion about Hillary’s character but there is an implication that she was more worried about Libya than she was about our embassy people or that she dithered because this would have changed the outcome of the election (how guilty is Obama you are meant to ask). Either way this ancillary report suggests that these brave men died for reasons of political expediency and that the blame rests with the Democrats who have shown a depraved lack of true patriotic values.

One could propose a counter theory (of the conspiracy variety of course) that this attack seems to have happened at a key moment and that perhaps the GOP, so desperate to hold all the power in Washington, may have ordered this stealth attack so they would win the election – and it would have had just as much basis in fact. Impugning someone’s character in this case cost the American people $7 million dollars for a skewed committee to try to find out what was going on in the black box of Democratic minds during Benghazi. But our brains are not like the black boxes on airplanes. We don’t yet know how to access the contents.

It is still sad and always will be sad to think of these American citizens in a foreign land facing such unequal odds. It is horrific to remember over and over again that they died in the awareness that they would die and that they were not soldiers in a war but were in that country to promote peace and fairness and freedom. America will always mourn these dedicated men.

Dumbledore/Obama Speaks at Hogwarts/Congress

I have defended Obama many, many
times over the past 7 years, although he most likely knows nothing about it and
he really didn’t require my assistance. As I became more and more aware of the
Republican agenda for America I became more and more grateful that Obama was in
the White House helping Democrats at least hold the line against the GOP
extremists. While the right wing bemoaned the Stimulus, which was not an action
that Obama did on his own I was glad that we were not going to be held to an
austerity that would have prolonged the Great Recession. While the right wing
lashed out when Obama did an end run around them to pass the Affordable Care
Act I was glad that more people would have health insurance, that people with
preexisting conditions would be covered and that certain young family members
would no longer have to rely on the emergency room for medical treatment.
I can see that America is not as
prosperous as it was, at least not for all of us. I have not forgotten the
parade of factories that have left empty buildings all over my hometown and the
number of workers who once had secure, good paying jobs who now have jobs that
pay much less. My town has not recovered from the recession but they are
working and the job market has ticked up quite a bit from the days when there
were no jobs to be found. I know that the Obama years have helped our economy.
The strides made with alternative energies alone will serve our economy and our
environment well in the future.
Republicans have been aching to cut
the social safety net, privatize social security, end Medicare and privatize
schools. These things are all bad policy and Obama has held off these Social
Darwinists for two terms now, two terms while Republicans complained bitterly
and lied to the people and said that benefits are harmful. Obama has shepherded
us through an era when facing up to our lingering racism has been painful and
obvious, although still unresolved. Watching the heart wrenching confrontations
between the police and young black folks with the seemingly tiny or nonexistant
misdemeanors being met by out-of-all-proportion consequences will force us, I
hope, to solve our divisions. Obama kept us calm and called for solutions. I
don’t know how all of this would have played out if we did not have Obama in
the White House.
Republicans vowed to block President
Obama and they have done so throughout the Obama years, so much so that I often
wished for a referee who would call foul and put a stop to all of the
obstruction and vituperation. Obama still steadily found ways to hold back
their extreme agenda and get things done. So they stonewalled in Washington,
voted to repeal the ACA eighty-five million times, voted to defund Planned
Parenthood, found ways to abuse traditional perks like gerrymandering to pack
statehouses with Republicans and ways to set voting rights back 50 years, ways
to keep Obama from appointing liberals to the courts, and still Obama did what
he could for Americans day after day.
So I loved President Obama’s last
SOTU address. I felt like he was Dumbledore summing things up, the good and the
bad for all the students of Hogwarts whether allies or enemies. I agree that we
are still a strong nation. I agree that civility is not dead, although it
sometimes seems that way. I believe that we have done great things in the past,
in the present and that in the future we will find a way to a new prosperity. I
believe we need to work together, although I have little faith that the GOP
fever has run its course. They have waited almost eight years for this moment,
and even if it is not turning out quite as planned, they can taste victory. But
I will miss Obama and I will not take a GOP victory as any kind of victory
because we will have to do things that we will later have to undo and that will
be a real waste of time for America and it may actually make our nation more
vulnerable to those who hope we fail. What we must do now is elect a Democrat
and, truth to tell either Hillary or Bernie will do. Better to have two good
choices than fifteen bad ones. 
By Nancy Brisson

Not Feeling Independent This July Fourth

This week a poll said that Obama is the least
popular American President ever and a large percentage of people polled also
said that Obama does not know how to govern. Who was actually polled?
Demographics were not given.
First of all, any survey done while a President is
in office represents very short term approval or disapproval. Historical
perspective is needed to really judge the effectiveness of a Presidency. Second
we are so fickle that polls change every time someone sneezes in Washington.
Most of us apparently have no loyalty to politicians unless they are doing
wheelies and spouting nonsense. As long as someone in Washington seems
passionate we don’t really examine what they are passionate about too
carefully.
Democracy often means that people in America feel
that they have done their duty when they go to the polls and elect a
representative, whether their candidate wins or not. They may watch the
election returns; they may raise a finger (not the finger) and utter an “uh” to
indicate that they might have a problem with a policy decision but there is no
carry through. When things are going fairly smoothly; when there is give and
take between the two major American political parties, we can often get away
with this sort of benign neglect. The past six years have not been like that.
The Republicans got such a taste for power during
the eight year reign of George W. (talk about a President who acted like a
King) that they have found it impossible to let go of sole control of
governance in America. Let’s not pretend that most of us wanted to go to war
with Iraq. Let’s not pretend that we had no doubts about those WMD’s. We
acquiesced to war because those in power used fear to persuade us to go against
our better instincts. Hillary was not the only person who was susceptible to
manipulation. It was done so skillfully that it was a temporary national
insanity (paranoia). The Patriot Acts were there and our patriotism could be called into
question.
We the people have let the Republicans manipulate us
for the past six years and they are not even sitting in the oval office. There
are good reasons why Republicans hold so many party meetings. One reason may be
because Democrats hold so few. Another reason has been that this format has
kept that base of theirs whipped into a frenzy. Republicans may have created a
monster they cannot completely control and that monster may turn back on them
occasionally and take a bite, but for the most part the monster has served them
well. People are still afraid, but now they think the enemy is the current
President. I do not think anyone gives the Republicans enough credit for their
diabolical strategies which have brought governance to a standstill, which have
chipped away at the size of government, and which have made Americans favor
policies that will stab them in the back if put into effect. It is bizarre and
humbling to watch what is happening in Washington.
It is even more bizarre and humbling to see how
complacent the American people have become. Things have happened that are so
obviously intended to wound the middle class and yet no one is angry, or at
least no one is angry enough to write his/her congressperson (admittedly a rather futile act right now), or meet to
demonstrate in front of their local federal building, or bus it to Washington
to march with signs. We don’t back the President up when he tries to raise the
minimum wage. We don’t back up a plan that gives health care to people who were
raising our health care costs by using emergency rooms as primary care
facilities. We don’t back up the President when the Supreme Court says that
rich people can spend as much money as they want on election campaigns. We don’t
back up the President when Republicans shut down the government. We are not
backing the President when Congress will not pass the Infrastructure Bill.
Congress has threatened to defund the President and we have nothing to say
about this.
Well it’s quite frustrating and there is actually little to
celebrate on this particular July 4th because the American people
are letting Republicans hijack our government even though we did not elect
them. We are leaving our elected President isolated and surrounded by enemies
and we don’t have his back. We deserve all of the things that are going to
happen in America next and they will not be things that make life for middle
class Americans easier or happier. As we sit surrounded by nations in chaos we
definitely do not need to be this divided, but we have no choice because
Republicans are trashing the Constitution and trying to take over in Washington
as they have already done in over half of the states. Geez Louise folks, you
ought to be making it clear how unhappy we are with being manipulated.
Sometimes staying Independent requires a Declaration.

I don’t believe that the President is so unpopular
because we hate his ideas for America; he is unpopular because we expect him to
do all the work for us but he can’t. He is blocked. Perhaps Obama should let
these idiots impeach him and let that be the way they are remembered in the
history books. Then the Republicans can have their way with America right now
and heaven help us all. They pretend to be Christians, but they are Old
Testament Patriarchs. Is this how a great Democracy ends, by tacit consent of
citizens too disinterested to pay attention?
By Nancy Brisson

Ceasefire in Washington is Temporary

Washington is so quiet right now. It may be lulling
Americans into a false sense of hope that the hostilities between Congress and
the Executive Branch have ended, but, of course, we really understand that this
is a very brief ceasefire in a battle that will rage right through to 2016 (unless Dems take back the House in 2014 and keep the Senate).
These years of Obama’s presidency have been full of bitter pills that Democrats
have had to swallow. The first African American President came to the White
House and we were mean to him. Worse, we did not allow him to govern because
either 1) we felt he would ruin American by passing bad laws, or 2) we did not
want this man in our history books. I feel embarrassed to be an American when I
consider the shenanigans of the past five years by grown, educated people who
should know better. So what if he read the writing on the wall early on and he
knew that he only had the support of his own party for the Affordable Care Act.
He was absolutely right about that. It has been sad to watch elected officials
acting like they have been mortally offended by the fact that this is not a
bipartisan act and to watch these adults whine that they will get their
vengeance, the American people be damned.
It is sad that these same elected officials (who
possibly won elections that were rigged so that they would win) have ground our
government’s forward momentum to a halt at a time when we needed our government
to help us adjust to a changed economic environment that requires action rather
than obstruction. In today’s Daily Beast
is an article by Nick Gillespie that says that Obama has lost the support of
the youth vote in America. They are upset at their job prospects, their low
wages, their high levels of unemployment and who would blame them. I suppose
they really don’t stop to ask themselves if this is really Obama’s fault since
he has not been allowed to legislate anything and if he even proposes a bill it
is sure to fail. This is certainly understandable because their prospects are
about the same today as they were when Obama entered office. They are young.
They don’t care if hope and change take time; they are not interested in
political backlash. They need to have a life and they need that now. Obama has
also had to face quite a few realities as the Commander in Chief of the Armed
Forces that have not allowed him to keep campaign promises he made. He promised
way too much. When you make strong promises and then don’t deliver and you do
that in this hyperactive news cycle, your feet will be held to the fire. The
ubiquitous presence of the NSA that we have become aware of is not helping
Obama either. If these young people were seeing their chances to build their
own affluence unfurling before them, they would be busy building lives and
might not care quite so passionately about Obama’s decisions in relation to
Afghanistan or Syria. If there had been funding for training programs and
infrastructure improvements and research and innovation, the disaffection of
our young people might not have been a factor. I don’t want to see these “beginner”
adults abandoning the light and going over to the dark side. I wish just saying
“do something” would work, but I know it won’t.
I know that the people who are really trying to
change America, the people who are trying to offer us a new America that has no
resemblance to the real America, are just waiting in the wings. They are taking
a break until the next budget battle which comes after Christmas. We know they
are still out there pulling their wicked strings to end hard won freedoms
because we just saw the Supreme Court uphold a Texas law to prevent abortions
after 20 weeks (even in cases where the mom might die). We see them refusing to
appoint liberals to the federal courts because it will tip the court’s balance
from right to left. They are correct in assuming that Obama wants to stuff the
courts. That is what the party in power usually gets to do. But they like the
courts that Bush gave us. They want those courts. They are keeping those
Conservative courts because they can. I could never have imagined that America
would find itself in the middle of this long and intense ideological battle. As
soon as I got a load of Glenn Beck’s act I knew, but I didn’t know that
Republicans would win the House in 2010, or that they would get a few fingers
onto the flying carpet, a few fingers that have allowed them to hoist
themselves onto a corner of that magic carpet and keep it from taking off. People
seem to imagine that what we are seeing now is just politics as usual, the
normal run of political push and shove. It isn’t. This is all push and no
shove. This is a war for America’s future; a war where one side prepared mightily
for battle and one side doesn’t even realize that engagement has begun. You had
better know what vision of America each side espouses and you had better pick a
side. You can’t look at just one issue; you have to look at the big picture.
Get a grip, America!
This is the view from the cheap seats.
This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

Basically A Rant

 

The correct strategies for America are not always
the most selfish ones. It’s not all about us all the time. Sometimes we must
look at the big picture because everything is interconnected. Some string that
is pulled somewhere else can unravel or re-knit our future.

And, then there is the truth that, at this point in
time, the Republicans will not allow Obama to pass any new laws that improve
the economy, the infrastructure, or jobs. If we don’t elect Democrats in 2014
we have almost 3 long years to concentrate on foreign affairs. If we truly do
not want to get involved in any more wars, I would trust Obama much more than I
would trust the Republicans to admonish a dictator without getting us involved
in a foreign war. The only way the war in Syria can escalate and suck in the
world is if a powerful force like Russia joins in. If Putin is serious about
helping get rid of the chemical weapons in Syria, then he probably is not
interested in starting World War III. If we stay civil and Russia stays civil
then perhaps we can pull this off. Americans do not appear to be too fond of
civility right now, sad to say. Instead all the little voices fall in line
echoing the charge that Obama is a weak President. I repeat; if Obama can end
the use of chemical weapons in Syria without starting a new war, then he is
anything but weak.

If there is anything this President does that is
weak it is to give Republicans another opening to tout his weakness and force
him to bargain when these Republicans know all along that they will say “no” to
him again and again and again. This does not make Obama seem weak to me. It
makes him seem like a President who respects the Constitution and who tries to
give Republicans every opportunity to cut out the partisan politics and do
their jobs as outlined in that very Constitution that describes how our
government is supposed to work. Nowhere in the Constitution I read does it say
that people outside the government should be promised a stronger allegiance
than is given to a fair consideration of the laws that build a stronger
America.

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist and the
Koch brothers should be like the rest of us. They are citizens with one vote
each. But they have found ways to pull the strings of large numbers of
Americans turning them into disenchanted citizens and puppet voters who repeat,
like mantras, arguments drummed into them by skillful pundits. These pundits
know the fears some Americans hold in their hearts and minds and they stoke the
fires lit under these fears, bank the coals, and then stoke them again. They
have fostered a bunch of conspiracy junkies and they will ruin America if we
let them. These pundits have been primed to serve the interests of Grover
Norquist, the Koch brothers, the Tea Party and whatever other shadowy figures
are in the Conservative Cabal.

So we have plenty of time to take the big view, the
long view, while we wait for America to wake up and throw off the strings of
the mind controllers who have taken over the GOP.

What would we like to see happen in the Middle East?
Perhaps we would like to see strong, healthy Middle Eastern countries where
government and religion are separate. Perhaps people in the Middle East will
chose peaceful coexistence and tolerance over hate and aggression; these
nations’ peoples will find a balance that will allow the citizens to live
stable and productive lives in which there is no dictator holding on to all of
the nations’ wealth. What can we do to encourage this? Wouldn’t such an outcome
have a profoundly positive effect on us and the world? Playing a bit of referee
doesn’t seem too much to ask from the rest of the world community. After all we
have plenty of time right now to keep an eye on the violations of war behavior
which result in the horrors of genocide. If we allow these practices we will
never achieve that real peace, tolerance, and prosperity we wish for the Middle
East and the world.

If you want Obama to accomplish our goals for our
domestic future then you had better raise your voice and tell Republicans to
stop obstructionism in Congress, to stop encouraging red states to pass laws
that challenge the current laws in America, and to stop brainwashing and
scaring gullible Americans. We need to elect Democrats in 2014.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

 

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com

 

Whistle-Blowers v. Leakers

 
v.

 
 
This issue of the DOJ and its investigation of reporters,
whether Fox News or the AP, comes down to whether you call whistle-blowers
heroes or dastardly leakers. The term whistle-blower is meant to sound
positive, but what if you are telling secrets that jeopardize national
security? What if the President calls some people “leakers” and other people
call the same people “whistle-blowers”? Who is correct? Is this like “one man’s
trash is another man’s treasure” or is there an absolute rubric for deciding who
is a whistle-blower and who is a leaker? Some of this seems quite subjective
and depends on which side you favor. Some of this inability to differentiate
between these groups can be blamed on the current collision of a post-9/11
world with a traditional view of freedom of the press. In fact, the dilution of
many of our former freedoms, can be traced to the Bush Administration Patriot
Acts.

Some of this depends on how you view President Obama. Is he
the mild-mannered Clark Kent, undercover wimp, is he Superman, or is he a
super-villain? 
 

 

Did he call “whistle-blowers” “leakers” to cover up dark
deeds that were about to be exposed to the light of day? Did these journalists
really “leak” secrets which jeopardized national security? Did the DOJ act alone
or at the behest of Obama and/or one or more of his cronies/appointees (you see
the role of semantics in all of this)?

A lot of people are throwing around an awful lot of
speculative charges against the President and chances are we will eventually
learn the truth about whether or not there were actual leaks or whether this
administration is hunting down innocent and courageous journalists who are just
trying to expose wrong-doing. I suspect it must be brutal out there in the 24/7
news cycle to keep coming up with stunning new material.

I like to hold on to my belief that Barack Obama is a good man but I may learn that he has been corrupted by a toxic Washington
culture just like most of our other politicians. We must remember that, for the
most part, he has been elected as a leader, prevented from exercising the
powers of his office, and then labeled weak and ineffective for not exercising
his powers. I can see how it certainly might be tempting to pull strings behind
the scenes, to protect himself against those who intrigue against him, and to perhaps
even overstep in his use of the few powers still available to him. Just because
it is tempting, does not mean that Obama has done that. However, as they say, “we
will (probably) get to the bottom of this” if there is anything to be worried about.

Put Your Money On The Table

The other day I posted an article in which the GOP complained that the 14 foundations backing the Democrats were far richer than the 75 organizations that back Conservatives, most of which are not foundations but groups formed by people of some influence who love what Conservatives stand for. They were implying that Obama had access to lots more funding than their guy, Mitt Romney. Don’t you believe those Republicans. They are tricky.
The Democrats have tried to pursue an election funding strategy that relies less on big donations from corporations, PAC’s, and Super PAC’s and more on grassroots donations. The huge difficulty with this is that Supreme Court ruling called Citizen’s United, which came out of nowhere, pushed campaign financing right out of reach of grassroots Americans. Obama also did some things that riled up certain groups who were past corporate donors. They are withdrawing financial support from Obama, but in doing so they are revealing the influence they have over the agenda in Washington, DC.
The foundations that back the Democrats are 501 (c) (3) organizations (not-for-profits). They cannot contribute to political campaigns. This is one big reason that Obama’s election funds are lagging behind those of Mitt Romney, quite a bit behind. The GOP makes a big stink every time Hollywood connections entertain Obama and raise funds for him. Mitt Romney is being expensively wined and dined also but by businessmen instead of movie stars.
If you agree with me that the Republican agenda is too extreme. If you agree that there is a lot more on their plate than just small government. If you agree that they have been quite mysterious about how small a government they are shooting for. If you agree that totally unregulated Capitalism will run amok.  If you believe that along with their obsession with making our federal government tiny, we get a sort of religious, moral agenda that will hardly bode well for freedom of religion, or even just freedom in American – then you need to make a contribution to the Obama campaign, however small. He does not have the deep pockets to plunder that the Republicans claim he has.
Make your contribution to Obama’s 2012 Election Campaign today.

Racism?

I am saddened by the way Congress has treated our 44th President. Is it possible that what is happening here is intentional or unintentional racism? This stonewalling that is going on in Congress I blame mostly on the Republicans. They have produced a lot of bills in the House, but they plant a little Democrat “bomb” in each bill which makes it impossible to pass it. This then allows them to accuse the Democrats of being the obstacles to progress, the “do-nothings” and they believe they waltz (never hip hop) away unscathed. We are not stupid though and the rubber-glue trick is getting really old. Still the trick you can see through is better than the one you haven’t figured out yet.
Of course things did not get off to a good start and we will not be allowed to forget this even though I wish you would put yourself in Obama’s place for a bit. He was just elected, he had made promises to the American people and we were quite enthusiastic about the promises he made. Then woosh the economy deflates like a bad soufflé; people are in foreclosure left and right; the economy which has been bleeding jobs looks like it will bleed out (OK, it’s a mixed metaphor, get over it); and he is faced with an angry and mean Republican minority. What would you have done if you were in his shoes? Would you have tried to solve the problems coming at you (like the guy with the tennis racket batting away the bat), would you have tried to get some of the agenda you promised the America people accomplished? Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh were out there and their attacks were dialed up, the Tea Party was out there, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann were everywhere. All anyone seemed to want was to get rid of Obama.
I sort of thought of Obama as our first “nerd” president, and I mean that in the kindest, nerds-are-very-successful-people sort of way. Sometimes, however, nerds don’t put their people skills first. Maybe Obama, tucked into the middle of his cronies, didn’t schmooz enough. But I do also believe that there were some people who were not happy that America had an African-American President. White men have had a lock on the presidency forever.
Whatever the reasons, Obama seems so lonely at the top. He has some great advisors and Leon Panetta seems to like him, but he seems to feel more comfortable out of Washington than in it and I don’t blame him. I am constantly embarrassed by the way he has been treated. If he was a bit inexperienced he could have been schooled instead of derided. I believe some people in Congress have acted very badly and they should be held accountable rather than rewarded for their behavior and I’m not talking about the Democrats, although some of them probably were less than helpful also. I further believe that under scrutiny we will admit that these “men” have been acting like playground bullies and that some of their motives stink (with a faint whiff of racism). These guys have been so nasty to Obama that I cannot imagine why he would agree to be our President for four more years. If he is elected, which I hope he will be, it would be interesting if people would make an effort to work with our first African-American President to solve some of the problems we have in our nation through a spirit of compromise and capability. Be your better selves!