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“Moral Troglodytes”: Still Crazy, Fox News Gang Owes Hillary Clinton An Abject Apology

To most Americans, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s sudden hospitalization is an occasion for compassion, concern, and urgent wishes for her full recovery. But for her perennially obsessed adversaries on the far right, the former First Lady’s illness is a moment of deep embarrassment – or ought to be.

Until Sunday, when Clinton entered New York Presbyterian Hospital for treatment of a blood clot caused by a concussion she suffered a few weeks ago, her most irresponsible critics were suggesting that she might be faking the injury. The supposed reason for such a diplomatic illness, according to John Bolton, the Fox News personality and former UN Ambassador, was so that Clinton could avoid testifying on Capitol Hill about the Benghazi terrorist attack that left three State Department personnel dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Now that Clinton has been admitted to one of the nation’s premier hospitals for treatment with anti-coagulant medication, it is worth reviewing the false suspicions that Bolton, other Fox News personalities, the New York Post, and assorted reactionary bloggers tried to arouse about her. The anti-Clinton mania of the 90s – which infected mainstream media as well as right-wing propagandists – remains latent but highly contagious among certain Republicans. And it remains just as reliant upon misinformation and deception now as it did back then.

On December 17 – two days after Clinton’s doctors issued an official medical report through the State Department about her continued suffering from a stomach virus that had left her extremely dehydrated and caused her to faint – Bolton mocked her for feigning a “diplomatic illness.” She did not wish to testify about security at the Benghazi consulate, the subject of a critical State Department review that she had commissioned, and therefore had contracted “a diplomatic illness to beat the band,” said Bolton sardonically.

Bolton was not alone in uttering these unfounded claims. They were echoed on The Five, a Fox News chat show featuring four dim commentators and Bob Beckel. Monica Crowley, another regular Fox clown, likewise suggested that Clinton’s virus had “impeccable timing.”

Ten days later, Bolton again insinuated in an op-ed article for the New York Post – also owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp – that Clinton was attempting to avoid testifying about Benghazi. While accusing her of using “a series of excuses” to evade testimony, Bolton’s article didn’t specify the “diplomatic illness” charge again, prompting Washington Post press critic Erik Wemple to ask whether he was withdrawing that canard. In an email to Wemple, Bolton made feeble jokes but neither repeated nor withdrew the accusation. Meanwhile, wingnut bloggers claimed that Clinton was carousing at a resort in the Dominican Republic — just as she was being sent to the hospital in New York by her physicians.

With Clinton in the hospital, it should now be obvious even to the most addled hater that the repeated statements from the State Department about her medical condition have been accurate, that she is innocent of any deception, that she fully intended to testify in January as promised, and that she indeed took full responsibility for the Benghazi tragedy, even though she deserved no blame. It should also be obvious that she deserves an apology from Bolton, a figure who has brought ridicule and shame on the US government more than once in the guise of public service.

The first reactions from the Republican right were not promising, alas, as alarming symptoms of the same old sickness showed up instantaneously on Twitter. Nor was it reassuring that the Los Angeles Times gave credence to the charges in an online poll inquiring, “Did she fake it?”

“If anyone has mastered the victimhood complex it is Hillary Rodham Clinton,” cheeped a GOP activist from New York. “She plays it brilliantly. Has for 20 yrs.”

You see, it doesn’t matter whether Hillary is actually the victim of speculation, slur, and slander. It never has and – for those moral troglodytes – it never will.


By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, December 30, 2012

January 1, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Please Proceed”: The Top Two Words Of 2012 That Describe Republicans Walk Down The Road To Oblivion

So many end of the year lists are cluttered with five, seven or even ten things. Not this one. What we have here is two words, delivered in a single phrase, that didn’t just define the fall election, but reflect the broad political situation going into 2013. Those words?

Please proceed.

These two words, delivered by President Obama at the second presidential debate, have already drawn praise from Markos as his favorite moment of the election season, but they apply far beyond Mitt Romney’s debate stumble.

In saying these words, President Obama invited the Republican nominee to carry on indulging in the right-wing, echo chamber fantasy. Romney’s confidence that the president could not have used the term terrorists in association with the Benghazi attacks was gestated in a conservative movement that’s become so divorced from reality, that it felt free to invent its own narrative of events, and so convinced of its fantasies that it felt sure they would be accepted by everyone else.

It can be argued that those words were not all that important in securing the election. By that point, whatever temporary boost Romney (remember him?) had gained in the first debate had already faded in all but the most Republican friendly—and ultimately inaccurate—polls. However, that moment was important as the point where one thing became crystal clear to a majority of Americans: Republicans have gone crazy. Granted, that’s been true for awhile, and absolutely definitively true since the elections in 2008, but Romney’s high-profile walk through conservative conspiracyland was the nail in the coffin for the GOP as a reasonable, mainstream alternative.

Those words continue to fit. They could be used at any point in the last month as the Republicans proved themselves ever further divorced from the national will. Please proceed in your rigid ideology that places minor adjustments in the top tax rate over the economy and jobs. Please proceed in hyperbolic attacks on modest changes in the health care system. Please proceed in blind obedience to the NRA even as they turn every school in America into Thunderdome Elementary. Please proceed to publicly, loudly demonstrate that you’re being driven by demons of orthodoxy … with no real idea who defines what’s orthodox.

Really, GOP, please proceed.

It’s far too early to write an obituary for the Republican Party. They’ve stumbled from their deathbed in the past, flooding midterm voting booths with tea party zombies that still stink up the House and far too many state legislatures across the country. But in 2012, they showed a remarkable ability, not to recover from mistakes, but to proceed down the road that leads to oblivion.


By: Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, December 31, 2012

January 1, 2013 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Deal For All”: A New Focus For Congress Called “Fixing The Economy”

The Perils of Pauline melodrama over the “fiscal cliff” will drag on as Washington heads toward another “debt ceiling” faceoff that will climax over the next eight weeks or so.

This farce captivates the media, but no one should be fooled. This is largely a debate about how much damage will be done to the economic recovery and who will bear the pain. There is bipartisan consensus that the tax hikes and spending cuts that Congress and the White House piled up to build the so-called fiscal cliff are too painful and will drive the economy into a recession. So the folderol is about what mix of taxes and spending cuts they can agree on that won’t be as harsh.

Largely missing is any discussion of how to fix the economy, to make it work for working people once more. Just sustaining the faltering recovery won’t get it done. We’re still struggling with mass unemployment, declining wages and worsening inequality. Corporate profits now capture an all-time record percentage of the economy; workers’ wages have hit an all-time low. A little constriction, or a lot, won’t do anything to change that reality.

So how about a New Year’s resolution for Washington’s political class: Vow to focus on what can be done to fix the economy, rather than on how much to lacerate it. That would require dealing with causes, not effects. And those surely would include:

Inequality: Clearly — as even the International Monetary Fund has recognized — extreme inequality saps the effective demand needed for a robust economy.

We need to rebuild a middle class if we want to again have a vibrant, growing economy. That requires a lot more than repealing the Bush tax breaks for the top 2 percent. We should be lifting the minimum wage, empowering workers to bargain for a fair share of the productivity and profits they help to generate, and limiting CEO pay packages that give them multimillion-dollar incentives to ship jobs abroad or plunder their own companies. Congress and the White House might also imitate the Federal Reserve and keep pressing the stimulus pedal until we move much closer to full employment.

Catastrophic climate change: Gross domestic product registers growth when people go to work picking up the pieces after a climate disaster, but Americans suffer rather than benefit. It’s long past time for the United States to get serious about global warming, make the investments needed to capture a lead in the green industrial revolution that is sweeping the world, end the subsidies to Big Oil and King Coal, and help the movement to clean energy.

Fixing health care: The wrongheaded agonizing over whether to cut scholarships for poor students or lay off food inspectors ignores the gorilla in the accounting books. Our long-term budget deficits are a consequence of our broken health-care system. If we spent per capita what other industrial nations spend on health care (with, incidentally, better health results), we would be projecting surpluses. This isn’t about stripping 65-year-olds of Medicare; it’s about taking on the drug and insurance companies and hospital complexes that drive up our costs. Affordable health care is a right, not a privilege.

Rebuilding America. While Washington hyperventilates about cutting spending, the excesses of this conservative era have starved society of essential building blocks. A high-wage economy needs a modern, efficient, world-class infrastructure to be competitive. Families depend on effective governance for clean air and water, safe sewage, enforcement of occupational safety standards, world-class schools and more. Our debate has deteriorated to the point that a Democratic president brags that domestic discretionary spending — which covers basic public services from the Coast Guard to child nutrition — will be cut to a share of the economy not seen since Eisenhower. That is, in a word, goofy.

Why not at least begin an informed discussion of the services we need and the ways we can afford them?

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has started that discussion with its “Deal For All” — a smart mix of fair-share taxes and cuts designed to ensure that those who never benefited from “shared prosperity” don’t get whacked unjustly by the prevailing mantra of “shared sacrifice.”

Americans, sensibly enough, will grow more disgusted with Washington whatever resolution is reached on the fiscal cliff over these next weeks. Politicians will continue to fight about how much damage to do, not how to build what comes next. What the country needs is legislators who will focus on building rather than dismantling.


By: Katrina vanden Heuvel, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 31, 2012

January 1, 2013 Posted by | Congress, Economy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Stop The Gun Madness”: 2013 Must Be The Year When America Says, “No More”

Guns do kill people. Our national New Year’s resolution must be to stop the madness.

It is shameful that gun control only becomes worthy of public debate following an unspeakable massacre such as Newtown — and even more shameful that these mass killings occur so often. What usually happens is that we spend a few weeks pretending to have a “conversation” about guns, then the horror begins to fade and we turn to other issues. Everything goes back to normal.

“Normal,” however, is tragically unacceptable. In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans. Most of the deaths were suicides; a few were accidental. About a third of them — 11,078 — were homicides. That’s almost twice the number of Americans who have been killed in a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Britain, by comparison, the number of gun homicides in 2010 was 58. Here we’d consider that a rounding error.

What explains the difference? Well, I spent a few years as The Post’s London bureau chief, and I can attest that Britain has the same social ills that we have — crime, unemployment, alienation, racial strife, mental illness. Britain also has a powerful, rural-based constituency determined to protect the right of hunters to spend weekends blasting away at shadows in the woods. Gun-loving Brits are no less passionate than gun-loving Americans.

But Britain recognizes the obvious distinction between guns legitimately used for sport — shotguns, hunting rifles, some target pistols — and those meant only to kill human beings. Most handguns are banned. All automatic and semiautomatic firearms, including the kind of assault weapons used at Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech and the other mass shootings in this country, are banned.

In Britain, individuals must have a “good reason” to obtain a license to own a firearm. Self-defense is generally not considered an adequate reason — nor should it be, since research suggests that guns actually make the owner more vulnerable.

In an often-cited paper published in 1993 by the New England Journal of Medicine, a research group headed by Arthur Kellermann examined homicide records in the Memphis, Seattle and Cleveland metropolitan areas and concluded that guns “actually pose a substantial threat to members of the household.”

“People who keep guns in their homes appear to be at greater risk of homicide in the home than people who do not,” Kellermann’s paper said. “Most of this risk is due to a substantially greater risk of homicide at the hands of a family member or intimate acquaintance. We did not find evidence of a protective effect of keeping a gun in the home, even in the small subgroup of cases that involved forced entry.”

The National Rifle Association has been trying to discredit Kellermann’s findings for 20 years, and surely won’t stop now. The NRA’s appeal to public opinion is based on cultivating a state of paranoia: You need a gun because bad people have guns and they’re coming to get you.

Hence the unbelievable response by NRA chief Wayne LaPierre to the Newtown killings. The solution isn’t to take assault weapons out of the hands of madmen, LaPierre argued, it’s to put armed guards in the schools so there can be a great big gunfight when the homicidal madmen show up. Never mind that armed officers at Columbine tried, and failed, to stop that massacre. Just be paranoid. Fight guns with more guns.

This must be the year when America says: No more.

The solution certainly is to take assault weapons out of the hands of madmen. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) pledges to introduce legislation banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines as soon as the new Congress convenes. This should be just the beginning.

President Obama gave a moving tribute to the Newtown victims — who included 20 children, seven adults and the troubled assassin — then followed up by assigning Vice President Biden to come up with concrete proposals. That’s all well and good. But we’ve had our fill of elegies and blue-ribbon task forces and reports destined to gather dust. We don’t need talk, we need action — and we need it now.

Politicians, beginning with the president, must show the courage to stand up to the gun lobby. They must do it for the children of Newtown. They must do it for all the 11,000 men, women and children who otherwise will not live to see New Year’s Day 2014.


By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 31, 2012


January 1, 2013 Posted by | Guns | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I’m Not Holding My Breath”: Will Republicans Apologize For Accusing Hillary Clinton Of Faking Concussion

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital to undergo treatment for a blood clot, a potentially serious condition stemming from a concussion she suffered earlier this month. Aides say that Clinton, 65, is currently being treated with blood thinners, and that further action may be required to prevent the clot from worsening. In a worst-case scenario, the clot, if located in the head, could cause a brain hemorrhage.

The concussion forced Clinton to cancel weeks’ worth of engagements, including scheduled testimony before Congress on the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. Republicans have been highly critical of President Obama’s response to Benghazi, with many suggesting that the administration tried to cover up the incident. Clinton’s illness prompted several conservative commentators and prominent members of the GOP to speculate that she was faking her concussion to avoid testifying. John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, described Clinton’s condition as a “diplomatic illness.” Ousted Rep. Allen West (Fla.) said, “I’m not a doctor, but it seems as though — that the secretary of state has come down with a case of Benghazi flu.” Charles Krauthammer, the influential conservative columnist, told Sean Hannity of Fox News that Clinton had likely come down with “acute Benghazi allergy,” which led Hannity to respond, “Let’s see the medical report on that.” Other conservative news outlets also demanded a medical report.

Now that Clinton’s condition has taken a more worrisome turn, will these Republicans offer their apologies? “I’m not holding my breath,” says PBS’s Jeff Greenfield. The fake Clinton concussion will probably join a long list of conservative conspiracy theories that, despite overwhelming evidence to contrary, continue to thrive in certain corners of the GOP (see: Obama was born in Kenya, the polls are skewed, et al.). Indeed, it’s just as likely that the fake Clinton concussion will morph into the fake Clinton blood clot.


By: Ryu Spaeth, The Week, December 31, 2012

January 1, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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