Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mayor Knowles: 'Ferguson Has Been a Model for the Region...'

by Sunnyjane

Police Officer's Oath: I will preserve the dignity and will respect the rights of all individuals.

There have been so many differing versions, outright lies, and false witnesses swirling around the death of Michael Brown that it is virtually impossible to write a credible account of this tragedy.  Only two things are clear and undisputed: a white cop shot and killed an unarmed black eighteen-year-old and left his body in the street for four hours.  The remaining facts will be determined by investigators from the FBI and the Department of Justice.

It took the mayor of Ferguson, James Knowles, four days to make an appearance after Mike Brown's death.  It might have been wiser for him to remain hidden behind his mayoral office door, considering some of his statements, such as that Ferguson had been a model for the region since the population changed from white majority to black majority.  A model for what, exactly, he declined to share; readers will have to decide that for themselves.

The mayor went on to say that he was having difficulty seeing Ferguson as a racially divided city, and that This is not representative of our community.  Well, either James Knowles pulled a Rip Van Winkle and just woke up, or he's a liar.  Some insight that it just may be a lie came with this statement:  The African-American community — youth in the African-American community in particular — has something against law enforcement in many ways.  

In reality, Ferguson and the surrounding area have a history of racial strife, and by that hot day in August,  the majority population had had enough.

When Isolated Incidences Happen Far Too Frequently

Police Officer's Oath: I will discharge my duties with integrity and will promote understanding and conciliation.

It seems that each time an unarmed black person is shot by a police officer, it is shrugged off as an isolated incident, as if such a thing were so far out of the community norm that it's not worth keyboarding into a computer spreadsheet.  The latest figures available, January to June 2012, show that 136 unarmed blacks were killed by police officers, armed guards, or vigilantes disguised as neighborhood watchdogs.  That's one weaponless African American dead every thirty-two hours or so in a six-month period.

It is, um, interesting that the officer who shot Mike Brown had been commended in February by his department.  Chief Thomas Jackson read the citation:  Acting alone, you struggled with one subject and were able to gain control of the subject and his car keys until assistance arrived.  [Note that the subject was subdued; he was not shot six times.]  I say it's interesting because Darren Wilson received this recognition for subduing a suspected drug dealer, a far more heinous crime than shoplifting some cigarettes or cigarsThat particular issue still has not been determined, and Office Wilson was not aware of the supposed theft at the time he shot down Mr. Brown.  No further details have been released on the drug-dealer situation for which Office Wilson was commended, but I'd bet my next glass of wine that the suspect was white.  Go ahead, call me a cynic.

Ferguson Police, Protesters, and the Press

Police Officer's Oath:  I will act with honesty, courtesy, and regard for the welfare of others…

When Ferguson's citizens took to the streets to protest how the police department was handling the investigation into Mike Brown's death, they were met with officers showing off their shiny new paramilitary toys.  It was a unnecessary show of force that further exacerbated the whole situation.  It is interesting to learn that, contrary to popular belief, the FDP did not obtain these weapons from the Pentagon's 1033 program; to date, their provenance remains a mystery.  When asked by phone about the weapons, the FDP hung up on the reporter -- four times.
Many have urged for more police departments to utilize body cams and dash cams when patrolling their areas.  Not only do these units eliminate the ultimate he said/she said issues, but statistics have shown that police/citizen confrontations are lest hostile when both parties know they are being recorded.  And Ferguson had purchased three dash cams and two body cams; they've just never had them installed.  While it is true that cams would not be effective in every situation, they are certainly worth trying.

Naturally, the media arrived as soon as the protests began, and suffice it to say that they were not warmly greeted by the FDP.  They were threatened with arrest -- and some were arrested but not charged -- and told in at least one instance that they would be shot.  That's pretty civil, don't you think?  The international media has justifiably criticized our country for its hypocrisy on dealing with human rights.

Of course, the right-wing media is doing their best to be ornery, and succeeding very nicely.  Linda Chavez at Fox Nasty, egged on by Mike Doocy, opined that it is misleading to call Mike Brown an unarmed black teen.  I suppose black thug or known black hoodlum would appeal more to her, um, sense of propriety.  And on the blogger side of that fringe, the Dumbest Man on the Internet is trying to sell the tale that Capt. Ron Johnson once pulled his gun on a bunch of unarmed white kids.  It's true.  The only problem is that Hoft doesn't bother to tell the whole story.  Oh, and no innocent white kids were shot.   

For the time being, we have to wait for the two investigations to be completed.  No date has been forthcoming.  Fine; it is best that the investigations are thorough, no matter how long it takes.


Meanwhile, Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, and Ron Davis, father of Jordan Davis, discuss policing and race at a UN Review in Switzerland.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2016 GOP Presidential Hopeful Rick Perry Indicted -- OOPS!

by Sunnyjane

Breaking News: Rick Perry's Glasses Plead Guilty to Aiding and Abetting a Dunce
With the recent indictment of Alaska's little sister's chief executive, Greg Abbott has to be praying that Perry will step down so he can take over and act all, you know, governory until the November election.  Gov. Goodhair might want to be very careful from whom he takes, um, friendly advice.

The new West Coast Metrosexual, so named by a fellow Texas Republican, is charged with trying to coerce a Democratic District Attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, into resigning by threatening to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit in her office.  Lost in this story of DUIs and whether he was on solid legal ground for withholding funding is exactly why Perry wanted her gone so badly.  Seems he might have been trying to put the skids on an investigation into the possibly hinky grant awarding going on over at his pet project, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, whose chief has already been indicted; he will stand trial in December.  The entire scientific review team at CPRIT resigned because millions of dollars were being awarded for political favoritism.  But if Perry could get Lehmberg out, he could put a Republican in the District Attorney's office who would then be in a position to call a halt to the CPRIT situation that could prove very damaging to the governor's bid to become the GOP presidential nominee -- if he doesn't end up in prison first.  Perry's indictment caused one Texas Democrat to opine, It’s a reminder that there ain’t no cowboy that can’t be thrown. 

This is going to be big, and it's going to be ugly

In her book on George W. Bush, the late Molly Ivins advised that, when judging a Texas politician, one should do three things: The first is to look at the record. The second is to look at the record. And third, look at the record.

So let's do a little of that, OK?

For the Record: Fourteen Years as Governor of Texas 

He's just pissed 'cause I've ruined his opportunity for a photo-op at the border.
-- The Gov has been trying to make up for his 2012 primary gaffe when he told his fellow wannabes that if they didn't approve of his granting illegal immigrants in-state college tuition, they had no heart.  Well!  That simply would not do!  So he walked that comment back, calling it an error to insult his fellow GOPers, and then he had to go all out on his war against child immigrants surrendering themselves at the border this summer.  Royally pissed at the President's refusal to be taken in by his obvious attempt to make political hay out of new-found toughness, Perry sent a thousand Texas National Guard troops to the border nothing except cost his state's tax payers $12M a month plus $1.3M a week in other assistance in that little border security charade.

-- Perry badly wants creationism taught in public school classrooms.  He wants it so badly, in fact, that during the 2012 campaign, he told an audience in Iowa that Texas schools were teaching creationism and evolution side-by-side.  Like in, um, science class.  Fortunately, that's not true; doing so would violate the Constitution's Establishment Clause.  What, the governor doesn't even know what's really going on in his own schools?  Texas already boasts one of the highest high school dropout rates in the country; it is dramatically failing its Black and Hispanic students, who make up an overwhelming majority of dropouts; and the state is rated 35th in education standards in the country.  So sure, let's make the curriculum even worse by teaching creationism as science.

-- Before the infamous Texas-based Enron scandal came to light, every Republican politician in the state had benefited from the corporation's largesse.  In one particularly obvious bit of backdoor payments, Enron pressured Perry to appoint one of its former executives to head the Texas Public Utilities Commission.  Governor Perry did exactly that, and very soon afterwards received a $25,000 check from Enron CEO and Chairman Ken Lay.  There was a big hoohah about it, but Perry blew it off by saying that it was coincidental.  Uh, huh.

-- Even though Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the country (25%, or three million), Perry refused to authorize a state-based health insurance exchange for Affordable Care Act enrollment.  Using the Health and Human Services website, however, more than seven hundred thousand uninsured citizens of the Lone Star state signed up before the deadline and are enjoying affordable healthcare -- many for the first time in their lives.

-- After a U.S. District Court judge overturned Texas's ban on same-sex marriage -- calling it unconstitutional -- in February, Perry vowed to continue to fight because Texans ain't gonna be ruled by no stinkin' U.S. Constitution!  Or words to that effect.

Some record, eh?     

Onward to Uproot and Overhaul Washington

And find my coyote-killer weapon!  I can do that "stand your ground" thing, right?
Perry can don his spectacular spectacles and trade in his cowboy boots for wingtips, but those don't make him presidential material.  Remember, special glasses and naughty red pumps did not catapult the 2008 GOP vice-presidential candidate to victory.

But Ricky's trying.  He's spent the last two years attempting to erase his deplorable performance in the 2012 primaries, when he ultimately come out looking like a parody of an arrogant ignoramus.  Which, of course, was well deserved.  He's been making trips abroad to Israel and London -- and plans more of the same -- to introduce himself to the wider world.  Now that's a good thing, because in 2012 he was sure American troops were fighting in Afghanistan and Iran.  Close, but no cigar.

Rick Perry can change his footwear, introduce himself to world leaders, and confer with all the advisers he wants to.  There's no way he'll ever be President of the United States.  I hope.

End Note

Monday, August 11, 2014

Will GOP Candidate Ben Ghazi End His 2016 Presidential Bid?

by Sunnyjane

It came not with a roar, but with a squeak: The House Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, has concluded that there was no deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama administration in the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans...  This, after investigation by eight different committees, during which numerous House hearings were held, since September 2012.  The HIC also found no wrongdoing by then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Among the Committee's other findings:

 -- Intelligence agencies were "warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened."
 -- "A mixed group of individuals, including those associated with al Qaeda, (Moammar) Khadafy loyalists and other Libyan militias, participated in the attack."
 -- "There was no 'stand-down order' given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, no illegal activity or illegal arms transfers occurring by U.S. personnel in Benghazi, and no American was left behind."
 -- The administration's process for developing "talking points" was "flawed, but the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis."

Twenty-three months and millions of tax-payer dollars have been spent on this witch hunt.  It's important to review what happened during that time.

Mitt Romney and The Opportunity 

Yay!  I can use the deaths of four Americans to fulfill the White Horse prophecy!
So fixated were both political parties on Romney's 47% disaster from his speech at a big-donors fundraising dinner in May 2012 that the rest of that night's message was lost.  But during the question-and-answer period, one attendee asked him if there was some sort of scenario that would duplicate Ronald Reagan's defeat of Jimmy Carter because of the Iranian hostage situation.  Romney admitted that his campaign was anxious for a national security crisis to occur so they could use it as an opportunity to display the President's weaknesses on geopolitical matters: I mean, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.

In July, he wagered on a trip to England, Israel, and Poland to give his campaign much-need momentum.  What he ended up with was a whole lot of nomentum.  Even Republican leaders were scratching their heads about the ill-fated excursion.  One high-placed GOP strategist said, I find this trip borderline lunacy.

Romney also knew the trip had been a disaster.  On the flight back to Boston he sent an email to some of his aides in which he said, I can only imagine what the media looks like at home.  And I don't think I want to find out.   A really swell opportunity down the drain.

Anxious to forget that disaster-lampooned-round-the-world, Romney concentrated on choosing a running mate.  Did he consider someone who had foreign relations experience?  Of course not.  He decided on a lamebrain budget wonk, who probably doesn't even possess a passport.  Smooth move, Mitt.

But never mind all that.  On September 11, before anyone was sure exactly what was happening in Benghazi, Romney decided he had found his opportunity, and issued a statement in which he proved he certainly didn't know what was going on: I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi.  It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

What got Romney's magical Jockeys in a jumble was actually a statement issued by the U. S. embassy in Cairo hours before the attacks even began, and which was neither written nor approved by the White House or the Secretary of State.  Cairo's statement was referring to the film produced by right-wingers in this country that disparaged the Islamic religion, and was not in response to the attacks.  Oops.

The White House response was swift and condemning of Romney's shoot-first-and-aim-second statement: We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.

The following day, President Obama appeared in the Rose Garden to brief the press and the American people on the tragedy and said, in acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the values we stand for.  The President also said in the same statementWe will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done in this terrible attack, and make no mistake: justice will be done.  And the response from the GOP on the capture of the Benghazi attack suspect twenty-one months later?  Basically, What took ya so long?

What the President said the day following the embassy attacks became a much-relished spectacle during the second debate, of course, when Romney made a complete fool of himself by asserting that it had taken President Obama fourteen days after the deaths in Benghazi to call the attack an act of terror.  Which part of no acts of terror Romney didn't understand is unknown and was never explained by his campaign.  This debate was also famous for the fact that Tagg wanted to take a swing at the President and Ann decided it was classy to give the President the finger.  Please proceed, Governor.

The Hecklers in the Peanut Gallery           

We're all responsible for what we say and what we do.*  John McCain, 11/14/12
Republican nerves were severely frayed after their election loss on November 6.  Though none of the GOP leadership ever really embraced Romney, they had badly wanted to make Barack Obama a one-term president and if Mitt Was It, so what?  Grover Norquist had readily admitted during the primaries that it didn't matter who their 2012 candidate was because he'd do as he was told so they should just Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.   Looks like Palin missed her big chance.

And speaking of attacks, John McCain decided to go after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for statements she had made five days after the Benghazi incident, which were talking points derived from faulty intelligence reports.  Rice's name had been floated as a replacement for Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and McCain was having none of it.  He called Rice not qualified and not very bright. 

* Thank you, John, for asserting that one is, indeed, responsible for what one says and what one does.  Now let's talk about that time you selected an unqualified and not very bright individual to be your running mate, shall we?

Haaawww...I know all zee CIA's secrets and I vill tell zee terrorists everything!
For a year after the Benghazi consulate was attack, the were numerous of investigations into the incident; and then the Issa hearings began.  One of the most pressing questions the Republicans had was why there were security lapses at the compound, and they pounded hard on that issue before the election.  The answer could have been easily located in Paul Ryan's budget proposals.  Even though SoS Clinton had warned that slashing funding for embassy security would be detrimental to America's national security.  They did it anyhow.  Why?  Because as Jason Chaffetz said, We have to prioritize on the budget.  So obviously, the safety of Americans serving abroad is not a priority.  It should be noted that Ryan, Chaffetz, and Issa all voted for these cuts.  Hypocrisy lives and thrives in the Republican Tea Party.

In addition to the embassy budgeting indignity, Chaffetz and Issa managed during one of the hearings to reveal to the world -- including al Qaeda, of course -- that the compound was a CIA outpost.

Um...about those security lapses?

A New and Shiny Hearings Leader

The Democrats' Worst Nightmare?  In your dreams, Boehner.
Saying that there were still unanswered questions concerning Benghazi, John Boehner pulled the rug out from under Darrell Issa and his year-and-a-half obsession and appointed Trey Gowdy to head a new Select Committee.  Gowdy's three questions are: Why was our security profile in Benghazi so low on the anniversary of 9/11? Why were our assets not positioned across the globe in such a way that we could respond to northern Africa in time?  And thirdly, and in some people’s estimation most importantly, can we trust government?  Major yawn here.

Not one to take rejection lightly, Issa did a little number on Boehner by releasing details of a memo that confirms that the White House was correct on one aspect of the Benghazi issue: the right-wingers' video mentioned above.

Now that the House Intelligence Committee has released its No-Foul-Found  by the Obama Administration, will the Gowdy hearings go forward, just to keep the subject before the American electorate because they've got nothing else?  Is anyone even interested any more?

Let's ask these folks...

End Note

Fox News had absolutely nothing to say after findings of the House Intelligence Committee were released.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The GOP's 'New Normal' is Getting REAL Old

by Sunnyjane

New Speaker of the House, Canadian Senator Rafael Edward Cruz, was not available for this announcement.

Any little calendar square that ends in y is the perfect time for Tea Party Republicans to prove to the world that America is totally lacking in exceptionalism.  In the leaderless House, serial liver-abuser John Boehner has suddenly realized that this is an election year and is bumbling and stumbling around trying to find something -- anything -- that will prove he's in control of the situation. Perhaps it's that stunningly undeserved $49,500 extra he receives annually just for having the title;  I dunno.  But in another brilliant post for Esquire, Charles Pierce begins by wondering what Eric Cantor did with Boehner's balls when he quit his job in a huff, and concludes by deciding that Cantor passed said balls on to Ted Cruz.  Sounds very plausible.

Boehner has been Speaker for thirty-two months, during which numerous post offices have been named or renamed and repeal of the Affordable Care Act has been voted on about sixty times.  In GOP House parlance, that's called Doing the Work of the American People.  Well OK, there was that time in January 2013 when Louie Gohmert nominated -- and was actively seeking votes for -- Allen West to become Speaker of the House, even though West had lost his election the previous November and was no longer a member of congress.  But hey, that's Louie, just acting normal.

To take up some time during the paltry number of days they're actually in session -- 113 -- the House has held numerous hearings on supposed scandals, bringing Macbeth's soliloquy to mind:  ...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  (Just for edification, the Senate will be in session 193 days this year.)  Adding insult to injury for Republicans, a report very quietly published on August 1 -- the day after the House split for their vacation district work period -- shows that there was no wrongdoing by the Obama administration on the Benghazi issue.  Poor Darrell Issa and Trey Gowdy; how unfortunate for them.  

There may only be one Speaker of the House, but there are so many Speakers for the House that it's hardly any wonder their messaging -- as well as their policy making -- totally sucks.  So let's just delve right in and take a peak peek, shall we?

To Sue or Not to Sue, That is the Question

Another idler who partakes of strong drink and does not tend to his responsibilities.

So, coming up goose eggs on scandals, devoid of any desire to put forth bills that would truly benefit Americans, and adamantly against any proposal by the White House or the Democratic-controlled Senate, Boehner decided that suing the President for issuing an Executive Order delaying the employer mandate portion of the ACA until 2015 was a swell idea.  Perhaps it was just a lil' ole memory lapse that Boehner failed to mention that George W. Bush messed about with extending -- through Executive Order -- the Part D enrollment period back in the day.  IOKIYAR.

Only the politically ignorant, the intellectually incurious, and Fox News adherents (OK, that's all redundant, I realize) don't know that the House voted about fifteen days later to do the exact same thing.  

This isn't really about the employer mandate delay, of course.  It's those pesky Executive Orders that, according to Republicans, are unconstitutional.  Well, no; they're not.  Now truthfully, it was probably a Democrat, Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, who gave Boehner the SoSueMe idea, when he said in defense of the President's actions on Fox News in February of this year that if the President's actions were unconstitutional, somebody would have sued him by now.  This was the same show on which Mike Lee, an ass-kissing acolyte of Ted Cruz's, whined that while President Obama's use of Executive Orders went against the Constitution, there was nothing anybody could do about it.  Nevertheless, on Wednesday, July 30, the House voted to sue the President of the United States for what they termed executive order overreach.  Whatever.  There's now a pretty little ticky mark by Boehner's name to show that he actually took an action.  That oughta get him re-elected as Speaker, right?

The President actually had great fun with the lunacy of the whole idea: They’re not doing anything and then they’re mad that I’m doing something. I’m not sure which of the things I’ve done they find most offensive, but they’ve decided they’re going to sue me for doing my job!

Ted Cruz, who seems to be acting as Speaker, Leader, and Whip in the House lately, met with a dozen or so GOP representatives on Wednesday evening and encouraged them not to support Boehner's Border Bill vote on Thursday.  They didn't.  So in what can only be categorized as messaging whiplash, on the very next day, Boehner sent out a statement that said, in part,  There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.  Excuse me while I Snort! at such blatant hypocrisy.

The Squawking Impeach Him! Chorus

Arf!  Ruff!  Growl!  Yap, yap, yap...

John Boehner would have Americans believe that the GOP's latest impeachment talk is nothing but a White House scam to raise money and get Democrats to the polls in November.  No, John, it was your party who started that meme, oh, about six years ago.  It went something like this: We'll make Obama a one-term president or impeach him, whichever works.  And you can't blame that one-term-president thing on the Tea Party; it was Mitch McConnell who said loud and clear, several times, The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.   Some may argue that every party would like for the opposition president to be a one-termer; however, to say it is the single most important thing to be achieved is admitting that you don't give a damn about the problems of the citizens of this country, and that's been proven over and over by the GOP since January 20, 2009.

Blame Sarah Palin, for starters.  She called in her usual strident manner for the President's impeachment last October over the debt ceiling issue.  Now she's screeching no mas -- one of the few Spanish phrases other than cajones that she's familiar with -- about the southern border crisis.  Yep, in effect, Palin has lobbed her special brand of verbal flatulence into the face of the GOP while tossing sweet-scented rose petals to the Democrats.  Between Boehner's announcement that he would sue and Palin and her ilk threatening impeachment, the Democrats have raked in $7.6 Million in donations, including one million  contributed in one day alone.  Well, few have ever called Sarah the sharpest writing implement in the pencil box.

There are far too many instances of the right and far-right calling for the President's impeachment that I'm not going to bother wasting your time or mine listing them.  However, it's very curious that John Boehner has never ruled that such an action is off the table.  Fox News tried to float the fairy tale that the Democrats had called for George W. Bush's impeachment.  It took Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York to set Chris Wallace straight, saying that then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi clearly said impeachment is off the table back in 2006.  Jeffries then went on to say that John Boehner had never made an unequivocal statement that took impeachment out of the equation, and pointed out that Boehner has little credibility because he had also said there would be no government shutdown last year.  Well, we know how that turned out.