Is Obfuscation The New Art Of Politics?

As kids we learn at an early age that if we can change the question or the context we stand a chance of hiding the facts.  You know we have all done it.  For example:  Mom: “John, have you done all of your homework?”John: ” Sort of,  uh what’s for dinner?  I hope it’s that great meat loaf you make.”  Though he did not  know the word for it, he was obfuscating. He was trying to muddy the waters and change  the subject to avoid dealing with the reality.  We have all observed adults doing the same exact thing.  Some would say that this is the primary task of defense attorneys . Isn’t their job to provide the jury with a plausible alternative theory of the crime?  We have also observed this kind of behavior on the international stage.  It was particularly prevalent during the Cold War.  The UN Security Council sessions during the Cuban Missile Crisis provided the world with an extraordinary example of Soviet obfuscation.   Today we see Putin’s behavior following the downing of the Malaysian Airlines plane as another prime example of obfuscation.  We have come to expect this kind of behavior on the international stage whether from North Korea, Hamas, Iran or the many other bad actors we must deal with.  However, we have a right to expect more from our own elected officials

Max Weber, the noted 20th century economist and sociologist, stated that “politics is the art of compromise….”  While our nation has been faced with many difficult choices during what has at times been a tumultuous history, our ability to ultimately compromise has been a hallmark of our democracy.  Certainly, the Civil War is a major exception to this pattern and there have been other battles, but while not literally tearing the nation apart, have stretched the fabric of America to its limit.   But the art of compromise has been an ideal respected and sought throughout most of our history.  Yet, we seem to have lost our desire to achieve this goal over the past several years.  On the one hand we are told that we are an extremely polarized society.  Yet, on the other hand, polls on many social issues indicate consensus.  There is consensus on gun control and immigration for example. I don’t need to provide you with the numbers,  we all know them.  Yet, when we look to Congress to enact legislation that reflects that consensus, all we see is obfuscation.  Has ideology become a straightjacket that so confines our legislators that compromise has become impossible?  Do our legislators truly reflect the attitudes of the many rather than the attitudes of the few to which they are beholden for their reelection?  Has being reelected become so important that it overshadows the obligations inherent to the office?  Is obfuscation the new art of politics because it is safer to take no action rather than take action and risk offending those who disagree with that action?  Has, in fact, obfuscation become the new politics of survival for incumbents?

shifty

Whether or not this kind of behavior becomes the new standard for our representatives is up to we, the voters.  We have a choice in November.  We can reward those who have done everything possible to avoid taking action on critical issues confronting our nation and support them at the ballot box.  However, if you are as disgusted as I am by the cowardly, dishonest and destructive behavior of the GOP leadership in Congress over the past five years, you will do everything in your power to send that message in November.  The GOP leadership has clearly adopted obfuscation as their new definition of the art of politics.  We need to show them that obfuscation is the road to defeat.

Who Is Truly Oppressing The People Of Gaza?

Those of you who have followed my blog on WordPress and Daily Kos Diary over the past few years are aware that I typically dedicate this space to a discussion of issues that are  related to national politics or issues confronting the American people.  However, there are times when I feel compelled to move beyond our borders to highlight an event that is of concern to me as a human being and a citizen not only of this country, but of the world.  This is one of those times.  The events in the Middle East, impacting on the lives of innocent victims, cannot be ignored.  The superficial picture provided by an often ill-informed and lazy media simply feeds the myths and helps to perpetuate the tragedy.  In order to appreciate the truth of Gaza, it is necessary to know the recent history and understand the geography of this prime piece of real estate.

While Israel assumed control of Gaza after the Six Day War in 1967, it gave that control up in 2005 and forced the Jewish settlers to give up their homes and their livelihoods and vacate Gaza.    It should be noted that when the Jewish settlers departed, they left all of their homes, and agricultural and industrial infrastructure intact.  As of that moment, Gaza was under the control of the Palestinians.  Among their first acts was to  demolish all that was left to them by the Israelis rather than utilizing it to grow their own economy.  There were thousands of families living in dismal refugee camps administered by the International Red Cross at the time Gaza was ceded to the Palestinians.  There are still the same camps teeming with thousands of families today.  The beaches of Gaza rival the beauty of any beach along the Mediterranean., yet there is no economic development to attract tourism.  I haven’t just read or heard of these things, I have seen them.  I have seen the Jewish settlers’ homes and industrial infrastructure, the refugee camps and the beautiful beaches.  I have seen the potential wasted and turned into hatred and bomb factories.  This is no accident.  The two million residents of Gaza are being used as pawns in an ideological battle by Hamas against Israel.  It is both tragic and cynical.

To appreciate the full extent of this victimization there are a few facts that are important to be aware of.  First, the average age of the population of Gaza is 27.  This means that most people living in Gaza never remember a time when they weren’t either under the control of Israel or Hamas.   Second, the education received by the children of Gaza paints Israel as a relentless oppressor.  They are taught to hate Jews and Israelis both.  Third, there has been little investment in true economic development, while most investment has gone toward building and acquiring weapons.  Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, is a radical Islamic group, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States.  In order for Hamas to continue its control over this young and restless population it is necessary to maintain a siege mentality.  Thus the firing of rockets into Israel begets an Israeli response therefore fulfilling the need for constant vigilance and a sense of being under siege.    Consider the difference in reaction to the recent teenage murders between Israel and Gaza.  In Gaza, those who kidnapped and ultimately  murdered the three Israeli teenagers were held up as heroes and lauded for their achievement.  In Israel, those who killed the Palestinian teenager in revenge for the deaths of the three Israelis were apprehended and will be tried and punished.  The kind of thinking in Gaza, perpetuated by Hamas is dangerous and will lead to more violence.  As the residents of Gaza are encouraged to act as human shields protecting the rocket launchers cynically positioned in schools, mosques and hospitals by Hamas, they are clearly being used as pawns.    The press obediently then sends pictures across the world showing women and children who have been killed or severely wounded by Israeli bombs.  It is obvious that Hamas cares little for human life and values its ideological success above all.

It is time for the residents of Gaza  to harvest some of the fruits of the Arab Spring.  As long as they allow themselves to be controlled and manipulated by this group of radical Islamic extremists they will live in poverty and danger.  Gaza has a great deal of potential.  It is time for the Gaza’s residents to shed the yoke of Hamas oppression and work to realize that potential.

Fear, The GOP Weapon Of Choice.

When we were kids our parents realized at an early stage that while reasoning with us was preferable, instilling fear was a sure-fire technique.  Do you remember all of the warnings we used to hear about crossing the street, talking to strangers or perhaps taking gifts from someone you don’t know.  I’m sure that you can remember many more, but more importantly these warning, whether based on reality or fantasy, always had the same result.   They instilled enough fear in us  so that we would abide by these warnings without question.  Remember, what made the 60s so revolutionary is that we began to question this blind obedience to fear and think for ourselves.  Yet, there are still many who are susceptible to the fear gambit.  Lots of people are willing to believe whatever someone in authority proclaims to be the truth.  It is a fact that the GOP’s tactic of choice for many years is to press the “fear” button.  If we listen to them we find that there are so many things to be afraid of, to be very afraid of.

Paul pauses during a network news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington

Let’s look at a few of their claims.

  • First we all remember that they proclaimed that birth control and abortions would lead to an unprecedented period of sexual promiscuity and unwanted births.  It is a fact that the birth rate of babies born to teenagers has significantly diminished.
  • We need to be afraid of all gun control laws because “they” are trying to take away our 2nd Amendment freedoms.  This is nonsense on its face of it.  The modest attempt at a national background check system would have no negative impact on those who would have guns.  It would however, perhaps, refuse to put guns in the hands of those who, for all of our sakes, should not have them.
  • Resolving the immigration issues confronted by our nation will only cause Americans to lose jobs and increase the crime rate.  It is clear that resolving the immigration issues will increase the tax revenue of our country and will provide much-needed workers in sectors that are in need of them.  It will also tighten the borders and reduce crime and drug smuggling.
  • Continuing unemployment insurance will only lead to people not willing to look for jobs, since we are paying them not to work.  This one is not even worth a comment.
  • Of course we additionally need to be afraid of the IRS and it supposed harassment of right leaning organizations.
  • We hear that  marriage equality will endanger the institution of marriage. How?  Nobody has ever explained this.
  • We need to pass new voter registration and voting laws to prevent voter fraud.  There has been virtually no voter fraud, but the new laws will prevent many who typically vote Democratic from getting to the polls.
  • The Ukrainian Crisis, the Iraq Crisis, the Benghazi Crisis, the Syrian Crisis, the current border crisis all are reasons to be very afraid of this President’s willingness to ignore security issues we confront.  These outcries and warnings come from those foreign affairs experts that brought us the Iraq War.  Do they really think that they still have any credibility?

The list can go on and on.  It is a tactic that was used against Civil Rights advocates and Anti-war demonstrators and women’s rights advocates.  ‘They are all trying to change our country and take away your freedom to live in the America we love”, we were told.  “They are dangerous and we need to protect ourselves from them or all will be lost.’  .  We are not little children anymore.    The fact is, maybe what WE should really fear is the GOP.

OK, The Class-Action Suit Is Out, Now What?

It is clear from the many attorneys that weighed-in on my desire to file a class-action suit against Speaker Boehner and the House Republican leadership that such an effort is not viable for a variety of reasons.  First, thank you to the dozens who rendered their opinions.  However, now we are left with the question, if not a class-action suit, then what?  The fact is that the Constitution has provided us with the only remedy that seems to be viable in the current situation.  We need to vote.  Not only do we need to vote, but we need to work to make sure that everyone that we know or have influence over takes the time to vote in November.

voting booth

Let’s discuss some of the more pertinent issues that will be impacted by our vote.  For any of us who were appalled by the Hobby Lobby decision handed down by the Supreme Court on Monday, both the 2014 and the 2016 elections are of vital concern.  There is little doubt that the Supreme Court will be losing at least one and probably two Justices during the coming 6 years.  Who nominates the new Justices, and the makeup of the Senate that approves those new justices will determine the direction of the Court for many years to come.  If you are concerned about the reproductive rights of women, LGBT rights, campaign funding issues, voting rights, and the many other issues that will confront the Court during the next decade, you must vote.  It is clear that immigration reform doesn’t stand a chance of action, let alone passage in the current House.  It has been a year since the Senate sent its comprehensive immigration bill to the House for action.  As we know, nothing has happened.  Additionally, gun control, putting the heart back into the Voting Rights Act, renewal of unemployment insurance, equal pay requirements and many other issues have withered on the “tree of inaction” planted and tended to with great care by the House GOP majority.  The only way to chop down this “tree of inaction” is to vote.

We have heard the pundits telling us that the chances for a Democratic shift in the House is near on to impossible, while it will be a struggle to hold on to a majority in the Senate.  Are we willing to believe that these pundits have the power to see into the future?  Are we willing to allow them to create a self-fulfilling prophesy?  It is true that the gerrymandering implemented by the Republican state governors and legislative majorities in 2010 make Democratic victories in some districts more difficult, but the demographics have changed since 2010.  There are more minority voters , more young voters and more women voters.  The attempts by a significant number of GOP-controlled state legislatures to corrupt the voter registration and voting laws of their states verifies this fact.  A successful “get out the vote” effort in these districts can undo much of what the Gerrymandering did.  We may not win in every district we would like to, but we will be sending a clear message that the tide is turning and the day of GOP-created legislative paralysis must come to an end.

The GOP is angry and seeks to sue the President because he is calling them what they are, obstructionists.  They are afraid that when they go back to their districts not only will they have no progress to show in their effort to stop Obama in his tracks, but in fact, the President will, through Executive Order, have achieved some of the things they vowed to prevent.  The President is utilizing those remedies provided to him by the Constitution to achieve his goals.  Now it is our turn to use the remedy provided to us by the Constitution, the vote, to achieve our goals.  If you have an idea for another remedy I would love to hear it.

Are You Willing To Join This Class-Action Suit?

Whereas John Boehner is the duly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives,
And
Whereas the majority party in the House, the Republican Party, with its duly elected leadership controls all legislative and committee activity,
And
Whereas that leadership has systematically, purposefully and cynically prevented legislative action on:

The national budget
Immigration reform
Gun control
Unemployment insurance
Equal pay
Climate control
Infrastructure repair and retention
Marriage equality
Equal protection under the law

while pushing committee hearings on faux scandals, expending valuable resources.

Therefore
In that this inaction has caused the People both economic and emotional hardship, We the People find that John Boehner and the House leadership have failed to fulfill their Constitutional Obligations for which we hold them libel for damages.

Dear supporter,

This is only a draft. I am not an attorney, only an angry American. We need help to make this suit a reality so that we can have an impact on what is happening in D.C. If you are an attorney, please offer your assistance, pro bono, to write and file this suit properly. If you are just an angry American like me, tell me that you are willing to be a part of this class-action suit. Numbers count and the more persons we can attach to the suit, the more impact it will have. Write me back in the comments, and recommend this piece so that more people will see it. Join me to make the Republicans pay and help America work again.

The GOP’s Attempt To Set An Iraq Trap For The Dems

One of the things we have admired about those who represent us in Congress is their willingness to stand by their convictions and our best interests and vote accordingly.  Really?  Wouldn’t it be great if we could write that with a straight face?  Wouldn’t it be great if those we sent to Congress were men and women of principle and high values?  Wouldn’t we like them to be selfless and concerned only with what is best for their constituents?   Those hopes stand about as much of a chance of becoming reality as world peace and universal love.  Let’s get real.  We allowed those who represent us to become part of an elite ruling class more concerned with self-preservation than with true representation.  It is only by happenstance that our interests sometimes converge with theirs.  In fact, a study recently published by Princeton University states that we are no longer an actual democracy, but rather an autocracy.  They work very hard to create the illusion of representation while in fact placing most of their efforts in raising funds to perpetuate that illusion during their next re-election campaign.  In todays Congress the public committee hearing has become one of the favorite vehicles for self-aggrandizing and self-serving visibility.  The GOP-lead Congress has truly played the committee hearing card to its extreme with unabashed enthusiasm.  It, after all, provides them with the most visible platform to make statements that while securing the love and support of their constituents, requires no actual proof or substantiation.  Most importantly, it allows them to look like they are working on behalf of their constituents while never actually having to vote on anything, like perhaps legislation, that they might have to defend in the next election.  Another favorite vehicle for this kind of faux official behavior is the Sunday talk show circuit.  The undisputed king of this method is John McCain  He is also the undisputed GOP expert on everything related to war and peace.  However, while he talks a good game on Iraq, he is not willing to put his vote where his mouth is.

.Angry McCain

It has been very interesting over the past few days that while he and the once and always neocons have been pushing for more US involvement in the current Iraq crisis, they have made it clear that they believe that the President has authority to do what he wants without coming back to Congress for approval.  Yet, they have wasted no time in criticizing the President for his tentativeness and his less than full-throated commitment to do whatever is necessary to defend Iraq.  Why all of a sudden are they willing to yell from the sidelines and allow the President to call the shots, even when his actions aren’t up to their standards?  Could it be that they see an opportunity to remove the “Iraq albatross” from around the GOP neck before the 2014, and more importantly, before the 2016 elections?

Let’s go back to 2008 for just a moment to remember how a vote to approve the Iraq war played out on the Democratic side.  Here we have Obama clearly stating that he voted against the war, while we have Clinton trying to untie the knot around her neck because she voted in favor of the war. It is clear that this distinction played an important role in the ensuing campaign.   Let’s come back to 2014 and see how Obama is dealing with the current situation.  He can clearly state that he ended US military involvement in the war in Iraq, thus, cleaning up the GOP Iraq mess.  However, if he is compelled to somehow reintroduce US military involvement, it becomes the Democrats’mess.  Compound that with the fact that the probable nominee, Hillary Clinton voted for the war as a Senator and you have a great sigh of relief from the GOP in 2016.   If it comes back to Congress and the hawkish GOP is forced to vote on any increased US commitment to Iraq, the GOP loses the opportunity to untie the Iraq knot.

However, let’s be clear, this has nothing to do with the overwhelming desire by Americans of both parties to remain uninvolved in the current Iraq debacle. It has everything to do with the fact that recent polls show that 70% of Americans feel that the Iraq war was a mistake.  While the autocrats of the GOP still would like us to go back to war, they are afraid that it will impact on their electability.  They therefore want to have their cake and eat it too.  They want to force Obama to move more aggressively into involvement in Iraq, while they remove themselves from the responsibility of making the decision.  It’s simple, they believe in their correctness and their constituents incorrectness.  They simply want to create the illusion of supporting their constituents while doing everything they can do to achieve what they believe is correct.  I believe the term for that behavior is duplicitous.    Shocking that the GOP would behave in this manner.

 

 

The GOP Is Trying To Mitigate “W”‘s Iraq War Blunder

The idea is to blame someone else for the mess we made.  We learn that little trick at a very early age.  I’m sure you can remember either being the accused or the accuser in a multitude of incidents as a child.  We have all tried to deflect blame.  However, as we grow older and mature we learn that  everyone makes mistakes and honesty is an important value.  We learn that if we make a mistake we should acknowledge it, learn from it and move on.  Fortunately, most of our messes are small, impact on very few people and can most often be easily rectified.  However, when you are the President of the United States and you create a false case to get the U.S. into an unnecessary war, your actions impact on millions and it is not easily rectified.  In fact, those actions unnecessarily cost tens of thousand of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.  George W. Bush and his war-mongering cheerleader Dick Cheney, along with his loyal band of NeoCons, blundered into perhaps the worst foreign policy disaster in the history of this country.  It is no wonder then that the very same group is trying every which way to blame President Obama for the current Iraqi catastrophe and use an old childhood trick to blame the mess on someone else.

kid pointing #2

It is startling to listen to the words coming out of the mouths of the architects of our war with Iraq.   First we have to remember some of the things this brilliant group told the American people.  Remember they told us that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons.  We also remember that no evidence of any nuclear, chemical or bacterial weapons was ever found.  This was to be the rationale for the war.  Why than , if they weren’t found, did we still go to war?  Then we were told when we did invade we would be received as liberators and that the war would be a “cakewalk”.  Tell the parents, wives, husbands , sons and daughters of killed and severely wounded American soldiers about that “cakewalk”.   Finally, to listen to them, one would think that the war was a complete victory for the United States until the Obama Administration came in and messed it up.  The fact that ignorance of Iraqi political realities, cultural and sectarian hatreds and history dictated American policy is ignored.  This ignorance created a situation that spiraled out of control and foretold the current nightmare.   When the Bush Administration disbanded the Sunni-led army and the Sunni-led government without a transition plan for equal Sunni and Shia representation it created a leadership vacuum, destroyed government services and sowed the seeds for a renewal of sectarian violence.  When it allowed itself to be manipulated by Maliki’s Shia-led government, it further antagonized the Sunnis.  Finally, George W. Bush signed an agreement with the Maliki government to remove all American troops by the end off 2011. without leaving a transition force in place.   President Obama and his team worked hard to negotiate the opportunity to leave a small force of some 10,000 troops in place to aid in security and training,  however the Maliki government refused to negotiate a plan that would not place American soldiers at the mercy of the Iraqi Justice System.  No American President would now, or ever has left troops in a foreign country under those circumstances.

In short, the Bush Administration left the Obama Administration a mess in Iraq.  America has become war-weary and views the Iraq War as a mistake.  They view it as a Republican mistake.  It is not surprising, then, that the GOP is working hard to thrust blame for the war on the current administration.  They are hoping that war-weary Americans will find any move made by Obama to somehow ameliorate the current crisis as distasteful, allowing them to shift responsibility.  They are not just sitting around waiting for Obama to move, they are pushing every which way for him to use some form of force in the current crisis.  They, of course, hope that any such move will make matters worse.  Does that sound cynical?  Well, just remember who you’re dealing with.  This is the same group who got us into a war for no discernible reason.  This is the same group who cost this country dearly in blood and treasure.  Yet, they walked away wealthier and convinced of their correctness.  Am I cynical of their motives? You Bet!