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June 6, 2013

Disposing of President Obama's "scandals"

By Mike Kirchubel

President Obama has been under attack by the right-wing media for a series of so-called "scandals." If you look into these stories, you don't find much there. But what would they talk about on Fox without them?


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President Obama has been under attack by the right-wing media for a series of so-called "scandals."  If you look into these stories, you don't find much there.  But what would they talk about on Fox without them?  The following is a series of three weekly articles which appeared in the Fairfield, California Daily Republic from May 20th to June 3rd. 

Let's talk of cabbages and kings:

Like you, I was surprised last week to learn that our old pal, the Internal Revenue Service, was accused of subjecting Tea Party applications for tax-exempt status to an extra degree of scrutiny (See May 14th Daily Republic article, "IRS assured Congress Tea Party not targeted.")   It's hard to believe that the head of the I.R.S. at the time, George W. Bush appointee, Douglas Shuman, would have approved of a practice of targeting right-wing groups, but time will tell.   

Why would the I.R.S. give groups that had "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in their title an extra close look?   Most political organizations are "527" groups, which have strict limits on donations and must disclose the names, addresses, and occupations of donors of over $200 to the Federal Elections Board for all to see.   But apparently some Tea Party groups were trying to circumvent those restrictions and have the unlimited, anonymous donor status of a 501 (c) (4) group.   As we have discussed before in this Daily Republic column, 501 (c) (4) organizations are " social welfare" organizations, which have a tax-exempt status and can collect unlimited, anonymous donations, but politics cannot their primary activity.   Raise your hand if you think politics is not the primary activity of the Republican Tea Party.   As we discussed in "Devils, dirty deeds, and dark money," there is a reason why these big money devils want to remain anonymous.

While it is appropriate for the I.R.S. to target groups trying to break the law, it is not right for them to go after groups simply because of their name.   That would be "profiling."   Perhaps a Solano County Tea Party member can write a letter to the editor describing how it feels to be profiled by the authorities.   

Politics is getting more and more complicated and the good guys and the bad guys are becoming more and more indistinguishable.   Nowadays, it's not just the leaders of the Democratic and Republican Parties calling the shots, it's all the other stuff too: the talk-show radio personalities, political action committees, "super PACs," right-wing foundations masquerading as non-political "think tanks," corporate and billionaire donors, political TV shows, and heck, there's even an entire television "news" network devoted to political propaganda.   Many of these entities make their money and draw-in their audiences by sensationalizing everyday events.  

Every issue has become hyper-politicized so moderate Republicans don't have a chance.   Many are eliminated in the primaries by extremists who get the big money support.   There is scant hope for compromise and progress in Congress and American politics has devolved to the point where one party is merely trying to wound the other, to the detriment of all else.  

Who are the winners in this absurd, nihilistic game of attrition?   Is it the Republicans?   No, not according to the last election.   Is it the Democrats?   No, they are unable to pass meaningful legislation through Congress.   Is it you or me?   Is it the 99.9% of us on the bottom?   No, as always, it's the 0.1% on the top, the same people who purchase "our" representatives and orchestrate the chaos.   I'm disgusted by it all; how about you?  

We do have a tool in our box that can fix this mess.    Voter, we need to shun all big money politicians; they don't work for us.   Just like Grover Norquist's "No new taxes" pledge for the 0.1%, we need a "No big money" pledge for the rest of us.   Then, as concerned citizens, we must ignore the massive amount of meaningless political advertising shoved down our throats and honor honest politicians' "No big money" pledges with our votes.   
Republicans uncover Benghazi cover-up:

Other than covering the Oklahoma tornado, the right-wing media has been obsessing lately on President Obama's "scandals."   After Thomas Sowell's "Lies about Libya mount" article appeared in Sunday's Daily Republic, the online comments section exploded with the usual right-wing rants from the usual suspects.    Last week in this column, we disposed of Obama's I.R.S. "scandal," this week, let's clear-up Benghazi, one more time.

We discussed the Benghazi attack in this Daily Republic column last September in "Romney does the Benghazi Shuffle," and in October with, "Romney sees Libya from his kitchen."   Just last January in "Review of Fox News continues," I wrote: " September's Benghazi embassy attack, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, occurred at the same time as violent protests in Muslim countries over an anti-Islamic video. Fox was quick to blame President Obama for the deaths and, since there was some initial confusion about the attack, they took a giant mental leap, declaring he was trying to cover-up the incident.   "This is gonna go down as the biggest cover-up in history,' said Republican Senator James Inhofe on Fox News.

"The administration deliberately covered this up and misrepresented what happened in Benghazi.' This Fox story headlined show after show, from September through December.   Disturbingly, Obama's cover-up still exists in a zombie-like state on Fox."   Well, Fox's Benghazi zombie has again risen from the dead and can be seen wandering about aimlessly on nearly every Fox News show, apparently seeking brains.

According to a Public Policy Poll taken this month, 41% of Republicans feel that Obama's Benghazi "cover-up" is the "biggest political scandal in history."   The same poll tells us that 39% of the 41%, have no idea where Benghazi is.   To me, that's a joke set-up that's so good, you don't actually need a punch line.  

For those of you not up to speed on the current Republican Benghazi conspiracy theory, it's that Obama won the presidency because he didn't tell America that Benghazi was a terrorist attack and their "proof" is in the form of emails sent immediately after the attack describing the events.

Those emails were initiated by C.I.A. director, General David Petraeus, at the request of House Intelligence Committee member, C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, who wanted to ensure that other Committee members wouldn't inadvertently disclose classified information to the press.  

According to the May 22, Washington Post: "Near the diplomatic outpost was a CIA installation where about two dozen intelligence and security personnel were based. Their mission was to track weapons shipments out of the country and to identify the numerous militias operating in Benghazi.   Security at this annex was the responsibility of the CIA, not the State Department. But because the annex operated under diplomatic cover, its existence as an intelligence facility was classified.   "We had some new members on the committee, and we knew the press would be very aggressive on this, so we didn't want any of them to make mistakes,' Representative C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.) said last week of his request in an account supported by Republican participants. "We didn't want to jeopardize sources and methods, and we didn't want to tip off the bad guys. That's all.'"   "The only government entity that did not object to the detailed talking points produced with Petraeus's input was the White House which played the role of mediator in the bureaucratic fight that at various points included the CIA's top lawyer and the agency's deputy director expressing opposition to what the director wanted."  

Congratulations, Republicans, just like "outing" Valerie Plame, you've uncovered another C.I.A. cover-up, jeopardized sources and methods, and tipped off the bad guys.   That's all.     
And now, the A.P. phone "scandal":

Last week's article disposing of President Obama's Benghazi "scandal," generated a heated exchange on your Daily Republic website.   It seems there are a plethora of people in Fairfield who have invested a lot of time and emotional energy in this "scandal" and don't appreciate having their bubbles popped.   One person took offense to my using the term, "disposed of," and wondered why Fox hasn't contacted me to explain it to them.   Well, Fox makes a lot of money keeping gullible people entertained with these stories and facts tend to cause them to implode.     So, this week, let's dispose of Obama's Associated Press "scandal."

In response to the events of September 11th, 2001, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to launch a secret, warrantless wiretap program on American citizens while Congress passed a series of "Patriot," security, and surveillance acts and authorizations, all ostensibly intended to help thwart future terrorist attacks.   In this grand, Faustian bargain, we Americans gave up some of our rights and protections in exchange for the promise of added security that increased surveillance would provide.   From 2001 to today, we have all been watched and listened to considerably more closely.   In the past dozen years, communication monitoring has blossomed from room 641-A in a San Francisco AT&T office building, into a major, nation-wide industry.   According to the Washington Post, the National Security Agency alone collects over 1.7 billion emails, phone calls, and other electronic messages every day.   This was all being done secretly until a New York Times exposé, forced the B Bush Administration to admit that, in the name of "national security," they had been wiretapping America without warrants.   Congress scrambled and passed the FISA Amendment Act of 2008 which gave U.S. telecommunication corporations immunity "retroactively" for illegally allowing the government to monitor our calls and emails.  

Since this initial trampling of American privacy rights was done under George W. Bush's administration, the howls of protest came mostly from Progressives, with Conservatives basically insisting that they were unpatriotic, terrorist-loving scum.   But since Barrack Obama became President, these howls are now also coming from the right.   Personal privacy may be one issue where the right and left can join hands and march forward together toward a shared ideal.   Kumbaya!

Unfortunately, your "do-nothing" Congress, in a rare show of unity and in a remarkably unpublicized event, passed a five-year extension to the FISA Amendment Act last year and President Obama signed it, ensuring we will all continue to have our phone calls listened to, our internet searches documented, and our texts and emails read, without cause or judicial authorization, until 2018.   If you thought your U.S. Supreme Court would never allow such an unconstitutional infringement upon our rights, you are mistaken.   The Supreme Court refused to hear an A.C.L.U. lawsuit against the F.I.S.A. Amendment, letting stand the lower court decision allowing it.   Step by step, we edge ever closer to Dick Nixon's Orwellian vision: "When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal."  

None of the foregoing discussion has anything to do with President Obama's Associated Press phone record "scandal."   The Justice Department says they subpoenaed phone records to plug a national security leak and the AP claims this action will chill their reporters' relationship with their sources, which is bad for all of us.   Both parties make valid points.   Fortunately, these records are simply a list of dates and phone numbers just like your phone bill and not the reporters' private conversations with their sources.   Those conversations, however, were undoubtedly recorded by the National Security Agency, and that, dear reader, is the real scandal.

Submitters Website: http://www.amazon.com/Vile-Acts-Evil-Banking-America/dp/1448

Submitters Bio:

Mike Kirchubel writes a weekly Progressive/Economic column for the Fairfield, California Daily Republic and is the author of: Vile Acts of Evil, a look at the hidden economic history of the United States. Vile Acts of Evil almost wrote itself. With minimal prodding on my part, this long-buried story tenaciously clawed its way up to daylight through thick strata of rock-solid historic catechism and economic dogma. The words of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and about a hundred other notables seamlessly wove themselves together forming a web of intrigue. Each of these venerable men spoke the truth as he saw it in his day and their isolated patches of quotes spanning over two hundred years - formed a flowing, continuously consistent story quilt when sewn together. So, when you find your warm, well-worn, and comfortable convictions at odds with what you read, when you suddenly discover yourself angry, muttering or yelling at this book, when you absolutely refuse to believe what is written, don't get mad at me; take it up with these gentlemen, because it is his story, his story, history. Newsworthy events are typically viewed through many eyes, from several angles, and refocused through the mental lens of each observer's personal predisposition. Every story has at least two versions: The one you are told and the others you must discover. What we have been taught as a child to believe is straightforward factual 'history,' is actually a complex mélange of personal opinions, usually written to bolster or undermine a person or cause; always to the detriment of truth. 'History is mostly guessing, the rest is prejudice' - According to Ariel and Will Durant, whose mammoth collection, The Story of Civilization, defined world history for generations. Writers invariably have a reason for writing and discerning their motive is the key to interpretation and understanding. I claim nothing more here, other than this honesty: You will find my feelings open and transparent, not disguised in twists or spin, or hiding behind the patently deceptive mask of 'Fair and Balanced.' Judge accordingly. 'We cannot understand the role of the people in history unless we also understand the historical illusions which misrepresent history in order to serve the interests of privileged classes.' 'Man cannot fully master his present without reconquering his own history, repossessing the hidden heritage of the past.' John Howard Lawson, The Hidden Heritage, 1950. Your history has been hidden from you. History is written by the winners and, as you will soon understand, these winners, these privileged few, do NOT want you to know their history. Our ignorance enhances their power and knowledge undermines. It is class warfare and truth is the weapon. Wealthy people control your money, mind, and future." I invite all to review this work - I think you will find it answers many of your questions as to why the world is as it is today. Our current turmoil is not new, not happenstance, and it can be changed.