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“Your Choice Mr. Speaker”: House Intel Committee Finds No Benghazi Scandal; Will Boehner Ignore Its Findings?

According to Representative Mike Thompson, Democrat of California, a report from the Republican led House Intelligence Committee on the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, “confirms that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given.”

Late last week, before Congress headed out of Washington for August recess, the body voted to declassify the document.

After nearly two years of investigations, millions of dollars spent, tens of thousands of pages of documents handed over by the administration, a Republican-led committee is about to release a report stating that there is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the Obama White House. In fact, nearly all of the accusations levied against the White House over the past year by conservatives in Congress, and amplified by the media, have now been determined to be false—by a Republican jury.

House Speaker John Boehner is now left with a choice. Will he allow Rep. Trey Gowdy’s kangaroo court, formulated in the guise of a select committee, proceed with its Benghazi investigation, covering ground already delved into not only by the House Intelligence Committee, but by the House Armed Services Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Accountability Review Board and numerous other investigatory panels?

Doing so would now be nothing short of an explicit vote of no confidence in House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican. What will Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, discover that two years of investigations by his GOP colleagues could not? If the House leadership views the Intelligence Committee as that incompetent, shouldn’t its chairman be replaced?

As The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake reported in May,

“There is deep unease within the Republican leadership that the select committee, which has yet to announce a schedule of hearings, could backfire, and badly. Investigate and find nothing new, and the committee looks like a bunch of tin-hatted obsessives. Investigate and uncover previously-hidden secrets, and it makes all of the other Republican led panels that dug into Benghazi seem like Keystone Kops.”

But what is even more clear now than it was a few weeks ago is that, for Boehner, the appointment of the Benghazi Select Committee has nothing to do with finding the truth about the attack that took the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens, along with those of Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods. It was theater—and bad theater at that.

Attempting to placate the ideological fringes of the Republican conference by using a taxpayer-funded investigation is at best the most cynical form of politics. To continue the charade after a Republican chairman releases findings that undermine the very core of your investigation is outright fraud.

But the Benghazi Select Committee will keep on moving forward. And it will not end after the 2014 elections. If Hillary Clinton chooses to run, the committee will become a principal tool in the conservative movement’s campaign apparatus against her, holding hearings designed to obscure the truth and smear Clinton during the least opportune moments of the electoral cycle.

And if Clinton is elected in 2016, there is little doubt the work of the committee will continue as long as Republicans continue to control the House of Representatives. Why surrender a taxpayer-funded campaign attack dog, especially one endowed by Congress with subpoena power?

 

By: Ari Rabin-Hayt, The American Prospect, August 4, 2014

 

August 5, 2014 Posted by | Benghazi, GOP, John Boehner | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Republican Chronic Affliction”: From Clinton To Obama; Why GOP Impeachment Fever Is Now So Predictable

Making predictions is a perilous practice for any political journalist. Too often, the would-be seers turn out to be dead wrong – as can be attested to by George Will, Michael Barone, Larry Kudlow, and the humiliated boy genius on Fox News, all of whom projected a big victory for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Yet there is at least one future event that could be safely forecast years ago, almost as soon as Barack Obama entered the White House: a movement among House Republicans to impeach the president.

In the conventional wisdom that chronically afflicts Washington, all the current muttering about impeachment is merely a theatrical display for the GOP’s wingnut base – as Democrats use the same threat to stir emotions (and donations) among Obama loyalists. Such complacent analysis misreads not only the mood and character of the Republican Party’s dominant Tea Party wing, but the recent history of impeachment as a political instrument of the far right.

The same forces that have sought to ruin Obama from the beginning were hatching schemes to remove Bill Clinton from office long before the unveiling of his reckless indiscretions with Monica Lewinsky. Back then, the talk of impeachment among zealots who schemed against Clinton, ranging from Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife and disgraced former attorney general Ed Meese to an assortment of back-bench congressmembers and religious hucksters, could be easily brushed aside. Today, many of the survivors among that old cast of characters are peddling Impeach Obama bumperstickers– notably including Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily, which features an “impeachment store” online.

Claims that Clinton had committed a high crime or misdemeanor worthy of impeachment under the Constitution dated as far back as 1994, the year after his inauguration, when the teamwork of determined right-wing activists and incompetent mainstream reporters ginned up a series of phony scandals. At secret meetings, the leadership of ultra-right organizations such as the Council for National Policy persuaded themselves that Hillary Clinton was about to be indicted (for something), and that Bill Clinton could soon be impeached (for anything).

The itch to impeach Clinton gathered momentum in 1997, not long after his re-election, a democratic victory that did not impress his right-wing enemies. As with Obama, they wanted to undo his presidency not because he had committed a supposed constitutional offense, but simply because his “liberal, globalist, socialist” politics offended their sense of morality. Of course, they feel the same way about Obama today. Indeed, from the perspective of the insurrectionary Tea Party Republicans and other self-styled “patriots,” elections hardly matter at all, unless their candidate wins. To them, a Democratic president lacks legitimacy by definition.

For a pungent whiff of irony, remember that electing Obama in 2008 was supposed to preserve us from another decade of political trench warfare, instigated by those polarizing Clintons. Electing Hillary Clinton would lead America back into the partisan psychodrama of the Nineties, or so the Washington pundits warned us; better to choose that nice, inspirational, bipartisan-sounding senator from Illinois, they advised.

And how did that work out for us? Scarcely through any fault of Obama, the result has been no different from the scary projections of a divisive Clinton presidency: legislative gridlock, economic brinksmanship, kooky conspiracy theories, and now congressional lawsuits accompanied by loud talk of impeachment. Clinton and Obama are just names for the object of hate, against whom any slanderous, mendacious, and vacuous attack can be mounted.

That was why gullible rubes once bought hundreds of thousands of videotapes accusing the Clintons of murder – and why the same kind of suckers bought into the race-baiting “birther” insinuations about Obama. It is why a top House Republican will lie blatantly on television about the Supreme Court’s dozen rebukes of this president’s alleged constitutional overreach – when most of those cases involved George W. Bush.

In temperament and ideology, the Tea Party Republicans who run the House aren’t much different from the Gingrich gang that went after Clinton. They don’t care whether Obama won the election in a near-landslide — or that seeking to remove him would be very dangerous for our country and the world. If their party wins control of the Senate in November, then the reactionary impulse to impeach may well become irresistible.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, The National Memo, August 1, 2014

August 4, 2014 Posted by | GOP, House Republicans, Impeachment | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Marco Rubio’s Unique Take On History”: Way, Way, Way Back To The Future

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) generated quite a few headlines in his interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep this week, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

The story that got tongues wagging inside the Beltway was hard to miss: the conservative senator dismissed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential future, arguing the nation is at a “generational, transformational crossroads,” and Clinton is “a 20th century candidate.”

Maybe it’s just me, but hearing a far-right lawmaker who opposes marriage equality, supports limits on contraception access, opposes reproductive rights, balks at ENDA, and fails to believe in climate science turn around and present himself as a forward-thinking leader for the future is a bit much. As Barbara Morrill joked, Rubio’s “the guy for a generational, transformational change. Assuming you’re talking about a transformation back to the 19th century.”

But just as interesting were the senator’s comments about comprehensive immigration reform, which Rubio co-sponsored in the Senate, which passed a bill fairly easily last year.

“I’ve been through this now, I was involved in the effort. I warned during that effort that I didn’t think it did enough on this first element, the [border] security front. I was proven, unfortunately, right by the fact that it didn’t move in the House.”

As the senator probably knows, this assessment doesn’t line up especially well with what’s actually transpired.

As Rubio now sees it, immigration reform died because the Senate bill – which is to say, Rubio’s bill – came up short on border security. We know this is wrong. To shore up GOP support in the upper chamber, the bill’s bipartisan sponsors agreed to a “border surge” that would nearly double the “current border patrol force to 40,000 agents from 21,000, as well as for the completion of 700 miles of fence on the nation’s southern border.”

It took border security so seriously that some reform proponents wavered, fearing it went too far in militarizing the border. One GOP senator conceded at the time that the legislation went so far on the security front that it was “almost overkill.”

Rubio now says he was right all along, warning senators that the bill wasn’t tough enough. But that’s plainly silly. Indeed, as Simon Maloy discovered, Rubio actually praised his bill’s security provisions at the time, boasting that it “mandates the most ambitious border and interior security measures in our nation’s history.”

So why did the House Republicans kill it anyway? Because the comprehensive solution required them to compromise, accepting a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the United States. House GOP lawmakers refused to strike a deal – hell, they refused to even go to the negotiating table – so the legislation died, again.

The related question is, why would Rubio make such obviously untrue claims now? The answer, I suspect, is that the Florida Republican took a sharp hit from his party’s far-right base for supporting immigration reform, and as Rubio looks ahead to the 2016 race, the senator needs a way to distance himself from his own legislative handiwork.

This, apparently, is the argument he’s come up with. If you’re thinking the talking points aren’t going to persuade anyone, you’re not alone.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 23, 2014

July 24, 2014 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Iraq Is Beyond Cheney’s Comprehension”: Democracy Is Not Something That Can Be Imported

Much has been said of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s Wall Street Journal op-ed where he criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of Iraq. Cheney’s contribution to the discourse in Iraq is as meaningful as someone holding an emergency meeting on the Titanic to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing bucket.

I doubt there are many levelheaded individuals who would take seriously anything Cheney offers about Iraq, given his dubious contribution to what can only be considered as an unmitigated disaster.

Included in Cheney’s recent screed was the now infamous quote: “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

Short of Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, what were the artisans of the Iraq War correct about? Weapons of mass destruction, victory would be a “slam dunk,” along with “mission accomplished” are among of the misguided quotes that placed American lives and treasure on a fool’s errand.

Appearing on Meet the Press, Republican Senator Rand Paul countered Cheney’s charges:

I don’t blame President Obama. Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution. But I do blame the Iraq War on the chaos that is in the Middle East. I also blame those who are for the Iraq War for emboldening Iran. These are the same people now who are petrified of what Iran may become, and I understand some of their worry.

While Paul appears to have come to the aid of the president, it was also a salvo fired toward former Secretary of State, and possible 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. An area where Clinton could be vulnerable remains the clumsy manner that she explains her vote as senator in support of the Iraq War.

But Clinton’s inability to explain her participation in Iraq is the least of America’s problems. What should America do as a growing number of Iraqi military forces are withdrawing in the wake of the consolidation of power by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is now reportedly controlling much of Iraq’s western border?

The latest developments in Iraq are the most glaring evidence to date how sophomoric the 2003 preemptive invasion has proven to be. Democracy is not something that can be imported. Nor is it displaying a purple finger after casting a vote.

Voting does not equate to democracy. Stalin had elections, as did the South during Jim Crow segregation.

Some even attempted to argue that the Arab Spring was the unintended consequence that vindicated former President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

What plagues Iraq and ostensibly the Middle East is most likely beyond America’s sphere of influence.

Columnist Tom Friedman has argued the Middle East needs someone that can appeal to the moral consciousness of the region, a Nelson Mandela, Mohandas Gandhi, or Martin Luther King-like figure.

While the aforementioned fought against oppression in their homelands, they did so in countries that possessed enough democratic infrastructure so that their marvelous abilities and influence could ultimately rise to the top.

Shadi Hamid, author of Temptations of Power, argues that before any democratic ideals can take hold authentically, the Middle East must go through its own form of Enlightenment period. But such efforts require time.

The Age of Enlightenment in the West began more than 200 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. Moreover, the Revolutionary War was fought while many Americans remained loyal to the British.

How can there be any type of stabilization in the Middle East that is not rooted in its own people? And how can the people undertake that revolutionary mission until there is an emphasis placed on reason and the individual that untangles the unhealthy interdependence between religion and politics?

These were probably questions that should have been posed before the preemptive invasion in 2003. But alas, everyone’s IQ is higher ex post facto — certain neocons notwithstanding.

 

By: Byron Williams, The Huffington Post Blog, June 24, 2014

 

 

 

June 26, 2014 Posted by | Dick Cheney, Iraq, Iraq War | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“June Is GOP Throwback Month”: Republicans Are Not Trying Very Hard To Escape Their Past

The right has long seemed stuck in the 1980s, ever basking in Ronald Reagan’s warm glow and policy solutions. This month it seems conservatives have decided to switch things up and temporally relocate themselves to the 2000s, if just for a little while.

So a giant squirrel is following former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton around the country on her book tour. Seriously. The Republican National Committee has dispatched someone in a bright orange squirrel costume to appear at her book events. The costume, Mother Jones reported this week, is left over from a similar 2008 publicity stunt in which the party used the squirrel to illustrate its concerns about ACORN, the now-defunct voter mobilization group. There was a logic to it then – squirrels and acorns – but now it’s as if someone at the RNC was cleaning out a closet, came across the squirrel suit and thought to themselves: Well, we can’t let this beauty go to waste. So the squirrel now wears a T-shirt which reads, “Another Clinton in the White House is Nuts.”

That sentiment neatly channels one of the early, sanctimonious premises of the George W. Bush presidency – the idea of Clinton fatigue, that the country didn’t want any more of the 42nd president, that “America wants somebody to restore honor and dignity to the White House,” as Bush put it while campaigning for the office. That somebody at the RNC thinks describing a return to Clintonism as “nuts” indicates that that particular delusion hasn’t been dislodged in the intervening 14 years. Remember that when he left office Bill Clinton enjoyed a 66 percent approval rating, according to Gallup. And just this week a Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg poll found that he is easily the most admired president of the last quarter century, with 42 percent of respondents naming him the most admired chief executive in that time. That’s light-years ahead of President Barack Obama (18 percent), the Bush who succeeded Clinton (17) and the one who preceded him (16). Peace and prosperity will do that for you.

Of course the Bush presidency reoriented itself after 9/11, and we’re getting a flashback of those years as well, thanks to the collapse of the Iraqi armed forces in the face of the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (an al-Qaida splinter group) and the civil war in Syria. So the whole neocon cast that devised the original Iraq fiasco have crawled out of the GOP memory hole apparently intent on proving the old Karl Marx-ism that history repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce. “This is about preventing another 9/11,” former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said on MSNBC this week, having updated his talking points not a wit from the first time he advocated sending armed forces into Iraq. Writing on The Weekly Standard’s website, Fred Kagan and Bill Kristol argue for air strikes and ground troops as “the only chance we have to persuade Iraq’s Sunni Arabs that they have an alternative to joining up with” al-Qaida or facing government death squads. Truly nothing persuades people of our benevolent intentions like bombing and invading their country. We’ll be greeted as liberators – just like we were the first time, right?

But the award for abject lack of self-awareness goes to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who wrote with his daughter in The Wall Street Journal this week: “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.”

Meanwhile back in the original Bush country – Texas – the 43d president’s gubernatorial successor this month channeled one of the uglier aspects of the 2004 presidential campaign, shameless gay-bashing. Recall the role played in the Bush re-election campaign of riling up the social right with state level campaigns against gay marriage. Speaking in San Francisco last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry compared homosexuality with alcoholism, saying that both afflictions can be resisted with a sufficient amount of will power. This sort of noxious comparison might have been unremarkable a decade ago, but times have changed and rapidly, with polls now showing majorities of Americans favoring marriage equality, for example. In 2014 it draws rebukes like this one, from CNBC host Joe Kernen: “I don’t think gay marriage leads to cirrhosis of the liver or domestic violence or DWIs.” Yeah, there is that.

Perry seems to have gotten the message, telling reporters at a press lunch on Thursday that he – and the GOP in general – shouldn’t get “deflected” onto social issues like the nature of homosexuality. “I stepped right in it,” he said.

Adjusting to rapid change can be hard, doubly so for conservatives whose ideology inherently resists it. Perhaps the best recent example of that emerged this week from North Carolina. State House Speaker Thom Tillis, the GOP Senate nominee, told “Carolina Business Review” in 2012 (the interview was ferreted out this week by Talking Points Memo) that “the traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable. It’s not growing. The African-American population is roughly growing but the Hispanic population and the other immigrant populations are growing in significant numbers. We’ve got to resonate with those voters.” When asked whether Tillis was characterizing whites as the state’s and the country’s “traditional population,” his spokesman said no, that he was merely referring to “people who have been in North Carolina for a long time.” This is transparent nonsense. He contrasted the “traditional” population with, among others, the African-American population, which I’m fairly certain has been in the Tar Heel State for some time now.

But take a step back and look past the offensive content: Tillis was answering a question about his party’s inability to appeal to minorities, so when he talked about non-“traditional” voters he was doing so in the context of wanting to “resonate” with them. If this is the right’s idea of reaching out, it’s going to be a long decade for them – no wonder they’re trying to C.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, June 23, 2014

June 24, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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