Posts filed under ‘Politics’

The Benghazi Hoax – A Review

“The Benghazi Hoax” was written by David Brock, Ari Rabin-Havt and the gang at Media Matters. The title of course says it all. These guys think that the entire controversy over the tragic events in Benghazi, Libya on September 11-12, 2012 were a hoax perpetrated by the right wing on a gullible public. Though I lean left, true to the “common sense” theme of this blog, I wanted to read the book as objectively as possible and apply some common sense to their arguments. In particular, I tried to inhabit the body of a skeptic (maybe even a conservative one) and see if the book met the basic test of convincing me of their assertion.

What follows is not my independent analysis of Benghazi. I fully admit I am not up to that task. This is simply my opinion of whether the authors of the “Hoax” met their test. I will run through the book, point by point, giving a YAY or NAY on each one,with a brief explanation of why I “voted” that way.

Let me start by saying that, to their credit, the folks at Media Matters devoted almost half the book to end-notes. It shows their effort to at least not do a half-assed job. I think it would make any college professor proud. The end-note that immediately caught my eye was a State Department report on attacks on embassies and embassy officials. It supports one of their conclusions that Barack Obama was certainly not the first President to deal with embassy related violence. How many other Presidents received this much scrutiny when these events happened on their watch? Folks will say “but this was an Ambassador”. Tell that to the many embassy workers who have lost their lives in dangerous locales over the years.

1. Mitt Romney’s Statement – YAY – Mitt clearly dropped the ball in both content and timing when he released a statement about Obama sympathizing with terrorists before the blood in Benghazi was even dry. Interestingly, the statement by Romney, castigating the Obama admin for being apologetic with respect to Cairo and Benghazi, tied both to the anti-Muslim video posted to the Internet. Clearly even the Romney camp bought into the theory that would later be used to smear Obama with lying and cover-up. Beyond that, Romney was factually wrong. The apologetic tone of the embassy in Cairo was independent of official State Department instruction and was quickly repudiated by the State Department. So he was wrong on the facts AND his timing — politicizing a tragedy in real time — could not have been worse.

2. Terrorism or Act of Terror – NAY – A single reminder to Media Matters: words matter. The Presidential statement in the Rose Garden in which he referred to “acts of terror” was so awkward and indirect that he deservedly was skewered by the right wing. In no part of his statement that dealt directly with Benghazi did he use the term “terror”. Only toward the end of his statement, in a generic declaration, did he employ the phrase “acts of terror”. When CNN’s Candy Crowley ambushed Romney regarding Obama’s wording during a debate on foreign policy, the part of me that wanted Obama to win the debate was cheering. But the truth is Romney was right. The president never clearly tied the the notion of terrorism to the Benghazi event in his Rose Garden remarks.

3. The Attack on Susan Rice – YAY/NAY – Their argument on Susan Rice gets a mixed review. On the YAY side they make the valid point that she was doing her assignment. Sometimes we forget that at the end of the day, these folks have JOBS that involve doing what your boss tells you to do. When I was in the corporate world I was assigned the role of Project Architect, a role for which I was totally unprepared. After my initial protest, I took one for the team and did the job as best I could. As cliched as it may sound, Rice’s appearance on five Sunday talk shows amounted to “just following orders”. She was taking one for the team. It must also be noted that she was tempering her language with an emphasis on how preliminary the findings were. She gave herself an “out” on the facts — an out that was subsequently ignored by the right. So why the NAY? The boys at Media Matters were doing fine with their argument until they lumped Rice in with Eric Holder and Van Jones to imply a racist motive for Rice’s persecution. That is total nonsense. Rice went on TV and gave misinformation that was fed to her. That made her easy pickings for opponents of the Obama administration. There was nothing racist about it.

4. The Talking Points – A qualified YAY — Moving from Susan Rice the person, to the actual points she made, Media Matters presents one compelling fact. The talking points tying Benghazi to Cairo and therefore to the explosive Internet video, originated not at the White House but at the CIA. David Petraeus, beloved by conservatives and head of the CIA at the time, was instrumental in this spin on events. The reason given was that the CIA didn’t want to put all our cards on the table so early in a criminal investigation. The reason I qualify my YAY is that White House documents (some released before the Media Matters book and one released just this past week) show a State Department interested in protecting its reputation. To any loved ones of the dead, this petty office politics is repugnant.

5. The Republican Investigations – NAY – The author’s analysis of Darrell Issa and his congressional committee amounts to whining. They accuse the committee of partisanship (no kidding) and incompetence but they don’t actually do a deep dive on what evidence the committee heard nor do they prove their assertion that the primary motive of the committee was Obama-hate.

6. The Fake Concussion – YAY – Not even worth discussing. The notion that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was malingering to avoid testifying to Darrell Issa’s committee is so grade-school it is embarrassing. That grown men and women promulgated this meme says volumes about how low our public discourse has fallen.

7. Hillary Clinton Faked Her Emotion – YAY/NAY — Again a mixed review from me. Some conservatives said that when Hillary teared up during her congressional testimony she was “acting”. This is right up there with the previous point about the faked concussion. Pure grade school foolishness. But then Media Matters slips up again and blames the conservative attack on, wait for it, sexism. So, not even halfway through the book the authors have played the race card and the gender card for no good reason.

8. A Disengaged Administration – YAY – The notion that Obama didn’t care about the events in Benghazi that night is another silly GOP talking point. The President was briefed on the event and gave the very obvious advice to his subordinates to stay on top of it. What Benghazi was real-time was confusing chaos. Everyone knows that it is the job of the President’s subordinates to handle situations and that he is enlisted for dedicated attention only when lower levels have been exhausted. The notion that he would delegate observation of this event down his chain is not at all unusual. It’s like expecting the President to drop everything he is doing to monitor the events at the latest Fort Hood shooting. It’s a naive assessment of Presidential priorities. (For that matter, if inattentiveness is the accusation, why did folks not ask about Obama’s whereabouts during the Cairo protests of the previous day? When does a threat to an American’s safety merit dedicated Presidential attention?)

9. Military Options – YAY – If you don’t want to believe the left leaning media about whether we responded adequately to the Benghazi attack in real-time, how about listening to two Republicans? Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates called the notion of military intervention “sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces“. “The House Republican Conference on the Events Surrounding the September 11. 2012 Terrorist Attacks in Benghazi, Libya” drew a similar conclusion in their preliminary report. No realistic military option had been summarily dismissed or overlooked.

10. The “Critical Cables” a qualified YAY – One of the prime faults in “The Benghazi Hoax” is the constant GOP bashing by Media Matters, that plays well to its liberal followers but ultimately undermines some of its arguments. In this particular argument they score a clear victory but obscure it in accusations of the Republicans trying to undermine Hillary Clinton’s 2016 aspirations. Honestly, whether or not that is true, it’s an unnecessary side show. The main point presented here is that Hillary does not physically sign most of the memos that the State Department sends out in her name. Anyone who works for a large firm and gets a letter from the CEO congratulating them on their 10th anniversary with the company is a fool to think the CEO really signed that letter — or for that matter has any idea who the hell they are. That is standard operating procedure for big bureaucracies. A memo “signed by Hillary” in relation to embassy security simply does not contradict the notion that she knew of no such memo. It is as simple as that.

11. Attacks on the ARB – YAY/NAY – The authors convincingly assert that the State Department did what anyone would expect them to do (and apparently what they are required to do): investigate the incident and recommend how to prevent a recurrence. The ARB report issued 64 recommendations and four staffers were disciplined (although not fired). The only NAY on this argument is that Media Matters does not adequately explain why Hillary Clinton was not more extensively interviewed by the investigators. Apparently they had a brief discussion with her at the end of their research. As head honcho at “Foggy Bottom” Hillary seems worthy of more than a brief interview at the end of the investigation.

12 Muzzled – NAY – Media Matters deals with the fact that a CBS reporter with a questionable past floated a story about the Obama administration intimidating possible witnesses who might testify to Issa’s panel. Unfortunately, they only discredit the muzzling of one whistle blower, Gregory Hicks. They don’t delve deeper to discredit the entire notion of intimidation. If you believe folks were coerced not to testify or to lie, this argument by Media Matters will not convince you otherwise.

13. Left Behind – YAY – The authors provide a timeline that I think lays to rest the notion our people were “left behind” to die.

14. The Stand Down Order – YAY – This is similar to the previous point. No order to tell forces to do nothing was issued. The House Armed Services Committee itself confirmed that no stand down order was issued related to Benghazi.

15. Jonathan Karl’s Scoop – NAY – ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported on an email chain that he did not actually read himself. He relied on a skewed reading by an “informant” thereby discrediting Karl’s “scoop” that State Department emails showed a preoccupation with protecting the department’s reputation. The only problem is that the REAL emails released by the White House do show State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland trying to cover the department’s ass. Emails from Deputy NSA Ben Rhodes, minus the skew, do come off less damning. (More email from Rhodes was released in the past week and frankly add nothing new to the emails we had already seen from him). Bottom line, all Media Matters does with this point is prove that Karl reported the truth badly. His incompetence in sourcing did not change the fact that Nuland was interested in protecting her boss.

Very sadly the primary point proven by “The Benghazi Hoax” was that the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2012 was politicized by both parties. One party went to absurd lengths to prove that a President would deliberately lie about the tragedy in order to get reelected. The other party for much less complex reasons — for rather mundane reasons — strove to cover its ass and cast aspersions on its opponents. The Republican’s endless digging for a smoking gun that simply doesn’t exist speaks for itself. But the tone of Brock and Rabin-Havt’s book shows an opposition of cry babies, ready to ascribe distracting accusations of racism and sexism to what is transparently simply politics. When you’re done reading, you have to wonder about the maturity of all the folks in Washington. So much of what is described in the book, from the GOP action to the left’s reaction is so Kindergarten that it is embarrassing.

From my reading of the book, the Benghazi “scandal” comes down to mundane petty office politics. Not even grand intriguing international politics. Just ordinary people playing CYA while their inquisitors indulge their fantasy of a terrorist-sympathizing President and his callous Secretary of State. The truth about Benghazi is not the drama you see on Fox and MSNBC.

The truth about Benghazi is tragic and ultimately very ordinary. We Americans don’t like ordinary. We like drama. That is what elevates Benghazi to a scandal.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

 

 

May 4, 2014 at 6:01 am 802 comments

Bundy is a Surprise?

Already a common criminal, rancher Cliven Bundy really stepped in it when he said that he wondered if some blacks would be better off slaves.

On Friday night’s Hardball on MSNBC Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart described slavery as robbing people of their dignity, humanity and liberty.

I have conservative friends in the comments section of this very blog who have argued that liberal policies strip blacks of their dignity, humanity and liberty. Hell, prominent BLACK conservative Ben Carson called Obamacare the worst thing since slavery.

All Bundy did was echo the thoughts of many conservatives who say our ghettos, our out of wedlock birthrate, our urban crime and a host of other problems that plague the black community are the fault of liberal ideology.

Bundy’s mistake is that he is a simple man with a simple mind who doesn’t know how to dress up typical conservative dogma in intellectual rigamarole.

Bundy surprises you?

Negro, please.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

April 26, 2014 at 3:37 pm 466 comments

Three Liberal Landmines

In the spirit of introspection, alluded to in my previous post, here are three thoughts on liberal landmines ranging from the trivial to the dead serious.

The Better Scandal

MSNBC spent the better part of the first two months of this year focused on one story: Bridgegate. Each prime-time show lead with some update on the New Jersey traffic snafu engineered by Chris Christie admin officials and appointees.  At first they tried to make hay of the possibility that an elderly woman died because her ambulance got stuck in the traffic jam caused by a bogus “traffic study”. Unfortunately, almost immediately a relative of the deceased woman said she didn’t blame Christie for the death, so MSNBC had to drop that bit of melodrama. In the backdrop was the fact that Christie was the only potential 2016 Republican candidate who was giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money. The obvious attempt of the network to discredit Hillary’s only real opposition was transparent — and disappointing to me, a long time fan of the network for their left-leaning but fair reporting.

Contrast this with Fox which for the better part of the past 18 months focused on Benghazi. Say what you will of the merits of the Benghazi “scandal”, four dead Americans including an ambassador trumps an amateur hour traffic jam any day of the week. If liberal news networks are going to go after Republicans they better come up with juicier stuff than Bridgegate.

A Drag on the Family

When conservatives compare our country to “the family” it usually sounds like grade school oversimplification.  The typical example is “why would you want your country in debt? You don’t want your family in debt do you?” I am pretty sure that many economists agree that a little debt is actually GOOD for a country while it may not be good for a family.

But I was thinking the other day about another country/family analogy and this one resonated a bit. Picture the family who is pretty normal except for that one loser who has never applied himself, never looked for a job and is always mooching off the other family members. The family either applies “tough love” and cuts him off or they go down the drain with him, constantly bailing him out.

I do not subscribe to the notion that all welfare recipients are lazy loafers, or in Paul-Ryan-speak, “takers”. But I am beginning to question whether the current welfare state discourages work. When I got laid off seven years ago, I did not apply for unemployment insurance because I wanted to start my own business and I assumed doing so would make me ineligible for assistance. When my wife applied for unemployment insurance after her layoff last year, one of my concerns was how this would affect her ability to earn money. From what I understand, she can make a small amount and still receive government assistance but a job that would pay only slightly more than the assistance we receive would make us ineligible. So living day-to-day, paycheck to paycheck, there is a disincentive to find at least a low paying job. In a sense you find yourself saying “I can’t afford to get a job”, as crazy as that may sound. And in this case we are talking about responsible people, my wife and I. If a hard-working person can’t afford to find a job imagine how a true loafer feels.

Welfare and unemployment insurance don’t allow you to live like a king (or the proverbial queen) so many conservative complaints about welfare recipients do  not resonate with me. Welfare recipients don’t live in swank penthouse apartments. But it is worth considering how government aid creates an unintentional disincentive to work.

Two approaches that come immediately to mind are workfare (not new) and mandatory health care assistance. How about the government paying your salary at a company instead of handing you a check while you’re not working? Basically you “volunteer” at a company — they pay nothing — and the gov pays you to work there. Time limits could be applied while you find a company who will pay you to work. In the area of mandatory health care assistance, how about legislation that forces any company with a health benefit plan, to continue to provide that benefit to any employee fired without cause (e.g. layoff)  for a period of two years while they search for employment.

The bottom line is liberals need to think outside the box, stop focusing on victimization of the poor, creating greater dependency, and find new creative ways to lift folks out of poverty. Creating a dependent class hurts those relegated to that class as well as the country that goes down the drain supporting them.

The New Jim Crow

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander is a book that I shall never read. I had the distinct misfortune of seeing the author discuss her premise and one phrase she used, yes — one phrase, left me so irritated that I will not give her book a chance. In discussing the plight of young minority men going to prison for longer terms than their white counterparts (the crack vs powdered cocaine dichotomy, to name one) she said (very close paraphrase), “these young men go to jail and are labeled criminals”.

NO NO NO. They are not labeled criminals. They ARE criminals. When you break the law you are a criminal. While it is perfectly correct to make the punishment fit the crime, isn’t our time better spent getting folks to STOP committing the crime in the first place? Words have meaning. When you say someone is “labeled a criminal” the implication is that forces beyond his control have created his condition. There are folks in the ghetto who would sooner die than break the law. This notion that ghetto life ipso facto creates criminals is the most counter-productive condescension imaginable.

It reminds me of a battle I fought in the comments section of another blog where a woman said she “found herself pregnant”. Mind you, she was not raped. She was not the victim of incest. She got pregnant through unprotected consensual sexual intercourse. She willingly actively engaged in behavior that, on occasion, results in a pregnancy. Yet she “found herself pregnant” as though no action on her part was involved. A total surprise — the sperm genie visited her while she was sleeping. Puhleeeze.

The same goes for this “labeled a criminal”. Brotha didn’t do a damn thing and our terrible racist society “labeled” him a criminal. Bull crap. Liberals use language to abdicate responsibility for behavior. It is always someone else’s fault. Frankly I’m sick of it. There is this thing in business called “root cause analysis”. When you “find yourself pregnant” or get “labeled a criminal” by some evil third-party, you are not getting at the root cause. Stop unprotected screwing! Stop buying, selling and using illegal drugs! Those are the root causes of the problem.

The question that remains is, are liberals well-meaning in this obfuscation or actually more odious than the “cold-hearted conservatives” whom they regularly attack? The jury is out for me on that one. But I can tell you this much– libs need to change their language and their perspective on the “down-trodden”. Some folks get screwed over because they screwed themselves over. That is not a problem we can fix by demonizing rich white men.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

March 30, 2014 at 6:17 am 918 comments

Time for a Reset

I’ve had a longer post in mind that I just haven’t been able to focus enough to commit to paper.

For the time being, let me say this. I’ve been famous for making prescriptions for what ails Republicans. I attended a professional webinar two days ago where I was reminded “you can’t change other people’s behavior, you can only change yourself.” In that spirit, what can I prescribe to cure what ails liberals?

Whether or not you find it sincere, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal have all called for Republicans to reconsider their tactics in achieving their strategic goals. It’s called introspection.

I’ve noticed lately that the one thing liberals lack is introspection. There is a self-righteous belief in their moral superiority. It’s assumed. It’s ironic because that is the very thing we accuse of Republicans. I’ve watched MSNBC morph from a liberal biased network that tried to be fair to the bizarro-world twin of Fox News.

In a mid-term election year where Democrats stand to get an ass-whupping their strategy is still how evil Republicans are. Where is the introspection? Where is the effort to find ways to be more effective?

Over the next few posts I’m going to try some political introspection. The posts will be less frequent. Introspection is hard.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

March 13, 2014 at 6:32 pm 418 comments

Various and Sundry

The CBO Findings-A Window into Party Perception

Let me start by saying I haven’t read the CBO report which states the ACA’s impact on future employment. All I’ve heard is the spin from both sides and it’s the spin that fascinates me.

Liberals say the CBO finding is good news. It means people will no longer be shackled to jobs they hate for fear of losing their health insurance. Conservatives say the ACA will provide yet another nanny state disincentive to work, proven by the CBO projections. I ask what is the more realistic and optimistic view?

Let’s talk reality. To afford even a heavily subsidized insurance premium people will have to work. This notion of folks just sitting back and not working doesn’t jibe with the realities of day to day life. But let’s also consider the optimistic vs pessimistic view of the American people. For all their patriotic screams of his-boom-ba, conservatives seem to view the American people as shiftless lazy loafers who will use any excuse not to work. What else could explain their reaction to the CBO report?

We WANT an economy in which number of jobs exceeds number of job seekers. It leads to lower unemployment and greater incentive for companies to make jobs more attractive to an employment pool that can now afford to be choosy. What could possibly be bad about a population that works for the joy of it and not because their health insurance is not portable?

I have to ask my conservative friends when we talk about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what about that last one do you not understand?

The Limits of Executive Power

Conservative leaders recently said they were reticent about going forward on immigration reform because they couldn’t trust the President to execute the law as passed. Normally I’d dismiss this as Republican excuse making but this time it made me stop and think. Obama has been explicit in his intent to do as much without Congress as possible. This makes any constitutionalist rightfully quake in their boots.

Here’s the catch. I believe our founders envisioned a Congress where matters were debated and progress coupled with compromise was achieved. I don’t believe they imagined the Boehner House, the least productive in recent history or the McConnell minority in the Senate making unprecedented use of the filibuster to stall legislation. What would they say is the obligation of the executive faced with the abject failure of the legislative?

I don’t share the sky is falling view of my more conservative friends. If Obama’s acts truly violate the constitution to a criminal extent then by all means he should be impeached. I believe in the long haul justice prevails. In fact a trial of Obama would be intersecting from this perspective.

From what I understand charges against Andrew Johnson were largely trumped up. Nixon faced impeachment for covering up a burglary. Clinton was tried for covering up a blow job. A trial of Obama would put to the test the true limits of executive power not involving petty crime and sexual scandal.

I’m not sure if Obama is overstepping his bounds. I am sure that Congress by neglect of their own duties has opened the door to greater executive authority. If they want to stop Obama they need to positively legislate, not simply oppose.

Why I’m (Almost) Through With MSNBC

Ahh I miss the old thrill I would get from a self righteous Keith Olbermannn speech. He could cover so much ground and scorch all the conservative patches of it. His only true obsession besides sports was his nemesis Bill O’Reilly. To watch primetime MSNBC the past few weeks you’d think the most vital issue in America today was New Jersey Bridgegate.

My conservative friends laugh at me and mock me because I considered MSNBC a fair source of commentary especially when compared to Fox News. Now they have every right to jeer. This Christie coverage is a transparent attempt to discredit the only credible rival to a Hillary Clinton 2016 candidacy. I’m not saying Christie’s record should not be scrutinized but the MSNBC coverage is way over the top.

Sadly, the network no longer stirs the fires in my political loins. I watch it now more for pure entertainment and by habit. There are nights when I’d just as soon watch the Food Network.

Enough About Hate Crimes

Let’s start with a simple thought experiment.

A black man is deliberately killed by a white man who hates black people.

A black man is deliberately killed by a white member of the NAACP.

Which black man is more dead?

This past week I heard yet another conjecture about whether the recent murder of a black man was a “hate crime”. I don’t remember the details and it doesn’t matter. The whole concept is absurd. It is based on the nutty liberal concept that you can legislate people into loving and accepting each other.

The surest way to turn a bigot into a bigger bigot is to self righteously lecture him about his beliefs. Hearts and minds don’t change via punishment. The hate crime distinction is actually counter productive in changing hearts and minds.

Intentional murder is intentional murder. Punish the crime. For the hate, you just have to wait for the bigots to die off and the younger generation to come along. We see examples of that progress every day.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

February 15, 2014 at 7:45 pm 808 comments

The Bully Pulpit

It is July 22, 2009 and President Obama is holding a press conference on health care reform. As the press conference nears its end, reporter Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times asks the president what he thinks about the arrest of Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates outside of his own home in Cambridge MA.

Obama replies, “Lynn, first of all we’re here discussing health care reform so what’s with the off topic question? Second do I look like the friggin Mayor of Cambridge to you? Or even the Governor of Massachusetts? I’m the president of the United States. I don’t spend my time worrying about local issues. Or maybe you think you get to ask me my opinion on anything black? Is that it, Lynn? Stupid question, next.”

Sadly that is not how it went down. Obama answered the question and inserted himself into a local issue he didn’t belong in.

My preferred answer would have come from Chris Christie. Folks call Christie a bully but he calls out stupid when he sees stupid whether from a reporter or a potential voter.

“Bridgegate” will be hard for Christie to overcome if for no other reason then it shows his incompetence if not outright dishonesty. That’s a rotten shame because I would love to see a straight talking president who actually does inspire some fear in our enemies and even our Congress.

I LIKE the fact that Christie intimidates people. Perhaps he can overcome the bridge fiasco and we can get a much needed bully in the White House.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

January 15, 2014 at 10:21 pm 745 comments

The Bill Moyers Suicide Pill

I have a running joke with myself (and those few who share my sense of humor) about the perfect selections for hold music on a suicide hotline. Just the notion of being put on hold on a suicide hotline makes me chuckle. In any case, I settled on such gems as “Dust in the Wind”, “Alone Again, Naturally” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. In recent months, however, I have discovered another resource not part of my sick imagination but very real that the clinically depressed should steer clear of. It is the PBS series “Moyers and Company“.

Bill Moyers, a participant in and observer of Washington since the days of LBJ is every liberal’s dream documentary host. He wears his heart on his sleeve as he shines a light on various flavors of American injustice. I enjoy him. I find him intelligent and genuinely curious about the world around him. When you watch him interview a guest, you get the feeling he is learning something new right along with you. The problem with “Moyers and Company” is it is long on problems and rather short on solutions. At the conclusion of each installment I find myself shaking my head in despair. Just a sample of episode titles is enough to send you to a shrink: “America’s Political Breakdown”, “How Dollarocracy is Destroying America”, “Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism” and the recent rebroadcast of “America’s Gilded Capital”.

In “America’s Gilded Capital”, Moyers interviews Mark Leibovich, the author of the Washington expose This Town. In the book (which I haven’t read) and the interview (which I did watch) Leibovich describes a Washington D.C. dedicated to job security. On every Congressman and Senator’s mind is first and foremost how to turn their time in government into some type of permanent gig, whether it be in government via reelection or outside of government in the private sector. The favorite private sector pastime of our elected officials is lobbying. Obama swore he would stop the “revolving door” of folks moving back and forth between government and lobbying firms, but his frequent exceptions have made the promise null and void. Leibovich describes a conversation he had with then Democratic  Senator Chris Dodd who insisted he would never join a lobbying firm but ended up heading up the MPAA which has a strong lobbying entity. Then there is the story of Evan Bayh who left the Senate fed up with Washington dysfunction only to whore himself out to the Chamber of Commerce. And if you thought bipartisanship in D.C. was dead, think again. It breathes deep where there is money to be made, case in point liberal pundit Steve McMahon of MSNBC and conservative mouthpiece Alex Castellanos of CNN who together worked for a company called Purple Strategies and made lots of money helping BP repair its reputation after the infamous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

This installment ended the way most episodes of “Moyers” end. This is just the way it is but we’ve done you a service by telling you about it.  Word to the wise, watch this show with a stiff drink in one hand and a bottle of Prozac in the other.

POSTSCRIPT

A few random thoughts: Some of my more loyal readers who disagree with everything I write had some fun with an old post of mine recently. The post was from 2008 and was entitled “America Says Enough”. It was written in the immediate afterglow of  Barack Obama’s election. The RL Blog “regulars” have had some fun mocking the piece in light of the 20/20 hindsight that shows Obama to be a bit in over his head, as demonstrated by his inability to shake off scandals, real and imagined, that have plagued him. Clearly the most recent example of gross incompetence is the botched technical roll-out of the ACA. Add to that the used car salesman rhetoric of “keeping your insurance and your doctor if you want to” and you have a beleaguered presidency that penetrates even the most rose-colored glasses.

With that said, I don’t take back a single word of what I wrote back in 2008. Back then Obama was a blank canvas upon which the right and left painted their worst nightmares and highest hopes respectively. But one thing I wrote in particular will never be sullied by Obama’s lackluster performance:

I can now look at my beautiful black daughter and tell her that she can be anything she wants to be, without exception, without caveat.

It cannot be underestimated just how many blacks like me never thought a dark-skinned man would be elected President in our lifetime. As much as I loved my country, I felt there were barriers that would not be breached for years, if not decades, to come. For anyone not to understand the emotion attached to seeing this barrier broken is to not understand the human condition.  As moved as I was back then, I still felt that if Barack Obama had been Barry Johnson, great-grandson of slaves, he would not have been nominated much less elected. The very exotic nature of Obama (which has ironically fueled the birther movement) made him acceptable to those who might otherwise have dismissed him. Nevertheless the cosmetics of this half-white, half-first-generation-American of immediate African descent, evoked a visceral reaction in many, including me, and I don’t apologize for it.

Cosmetics do not a great President make. With a four-year record to look back on, I wrote a very different piece in November of 2012. In my piece “Three Open Letters”, I offer the President advice rooted in the reality of his reelection and the imperfections of his administration. The piece in 2008 and the piece in 2012 were informed by the facts on the ground at that time and the accompanying emotions. I stand by both pieces.

—-

What I know about the problems in the Ukraine could fill not much more than this sentence but just on the surface, it is interesting to see a country whose leadership looks to “the dark side” (Russia) while its citizens want to align with the West. I’m just throwing darts here but could it be that social media and the democratization of information access makes it harder for a government to sell its agenda to its people?

—-

On Thursday’s installment of “The Daily Show”, Jon Stewart once again proves why he deserves every cent he earns. His take-down of Fox News’ war on Christmas coverage is classic in its humor and its truth. The Fox News coverage is so absurd that it is all Stewart can do to fit all the insanity into one segment. The ten minute segment can be found here and here and is worth a view.

Two unsettling things that Fox’s Megyn Kelly should remember: Santa Claus as we currently celebrate him, is neither white nor black — he doesn’t exist. Second, as Jon says, Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Jesus looked more like Mohamed Atta than a latter-day version of the Door’s Jim Morrison.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

December 14, 2013 at 6:32 am 582 comments

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