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Paul Ryan appears to be taking a lesson from Eric Cantor’s primary defeat. He’s been attacked from the right for proposing budgets that don’t punish the poor enough and has mostly avoided weighing in on contentious social issues, but he threw the Teabaggers some red meat on Friday.

In a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Ryan went off on IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, calling him a liar over some Lois Lerner emails from 2009 to 2011 that were lost when her hard drive crashed. He was incensed that the Committee wasn’t notified that Lerner’s hard drive, as well as the hard drives for six other IRS employees, had crashed until the Committee actually asked about it. Ryan called Koskinen a liar by saying that nobody believes him. Actually, Mr. Ryan, you and the Teabaggers don’t believe him. You’ve also managed to sow doubt into the minds of those who are already inclined to distrust the IRS and pay more attention to Fox News rather than facts because of your Party’s constant demonization of the agency. People who actually pay attention to facts recognize this craven political charade for what it is.

Republicans call this yet another smoking gun conspiracy despite the facts in the case. Rep. Boustany, in making a failed attempt at taking the title of America’s Dumbest Congressman from Rep. Gohmert, apparently watched Mr. Peabody and Sherman one too many times and demanded to know why the Committee wasn’t told about the hard drive:

BOUSTANY: Why wasn’t this committee notified before a decision was made to completely recycle her hard drive?

KOSKINEN: Uh, the committee was not notified because that decision would have been made three years ago. It’s not a decision—none of this had anything to do with the investigation.

BOUSTANY: Well, I would submit it does have to do with the investigation, because we’re trying to get necessary information.

BOUSTANY: It disturbs me that this decision was made internally, without any kind of outside consultation, when this committee was vigorously pursuing information regarding this targeting scandal.

It disturbs me that we have people of such limited mental capacity as elected representatives. Lerner’s hard drive crashed and was recycled in 2011, two years before the House began any investigations in 2013! Now I suppose someone in the IRS could have said, “You know, someday a batshit crazy group of Republicans in the House may want to create a completely phony scandal as part of a campaign to delegitimize the President. Even though our computer forensic experts couldn’t recover any data, we should store that hard drive just in case.” Yeah, that should have happened.

In Friday’s hearing, several Republican representatives took turns demanding to know why they were just finding out about this hard drive crash. The problem with that is that they knew last year. The IRS has turned over 24,000 emails from Lerner and several of them referenced the lost hard drive. The House Republicans ignored those references because they couldn’t see any way to politically profit from the fact at the time.

These phony scandals are really getting ridiculous, but Republicans will keep them alive for the purpose of making Obama out to be either incompetent or an evil genius, depending on what day of the week it is. It has the side benefit of getting brain-dead Teabaggers to vote for them, thinking that the Republicans agree with their conspiracy theories. I’m sorry to tell you, Teabaggers, but they just aren’t that into you. They’re only want you for your vote.

P.S. It’s not polite to mention the 22 million emails the Bush administration lost and how the same Republicans who consider lost emails to be a grand conspiracy now considered it to be an innocuous software issue back then. That wouldn’t be pointing out Republican hypocrisy, after all, it would just be more blaming Bush for everything. /snark

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Weekly B4V Sucks Thread

Posted: June 20, 2014 by Marner in Open Thread
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Keep your anti-B4V rants here. Enjoy.

A person conservatives surely consider just a true American standing up to tyranny strikes again, with a man shooting a BLM agent and a police officer before being shot himself. He is yet another member of the “Sovereign Citizen” movement. The day after that news broke, a county in Utah declared that the BLM agents had no authority within its borders:

Any such attempted exercise of law enforcement powers by an official of a land management agency IS NOT RECOGNIZED by Carbon County,” the resolution stated (caps in original), “and shall be deemed AN IMMINENT THREAT TO THE HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE OF THE CITIZENS OF CARBON COUNTY.

I can’t wait to see the legal defense of the first person that kills a BLM agent in Carbon County. After all, what are the laws in Utah for using deadly force to protect against an “imminent threat to the health, safety, and welfare” of a person?

The Least Worst Option

Posted: June 17, 2014 by Marner in Current Events
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Iraq is devolving into open civil warfare, with the extremist group ISIS taking over cities and threatening to push into Baghdad. A number of things brought it to this point, including the “De-Ba’athification” instituted by the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003, the readiness level of the Iraqi military, and the utter failure and corruption of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. We are left with an Iraqi state that is no state at all. There is no sense of nationalism among the populace, who define themselves as Sunni, Shi’a, or Kurd rather than as Iraqis. You can’t get people to fight for something they don’t believe in, and Iraqis don’t believe in their country or their government. Out of self-preservation, they are left having to side with the strongest actor in their region until a stronger actor comes and takes his place. Right now, that actor is ISIS, a brutal group that maintains power solely through fear and intimidation.

That leads us to the question of what do we do now? We no longer have American forces in Iraq. Contrary to the lies of John McCain and other conservatives who want to pin the blame on Obama, it was al-Malaki’s decision for all of our troops to leave. He refused to sign a Standard of Forces Agreement that would have exempted the US military from Iraqi laws. Al-Maliki didn’t want the US military in the way of his plan to fully purge all Sunnis from the government and solidify his relationship with Iran. In the absence of a SOFA agreement, Obama had no choice but to pull all of our military out of the country. To leave them there, subject to the whims of the Iraqi “justice” system, would have been a serious breach of his responsibilities as Commander in Chief. Can you imagine the outrage if one of our soldiers had been charged, tried, convicted, and executed by the Iraqi government?

If al-Malaki signed a SOFA agreement now, we could have US forces back in Iraq in short order, but I don’t know if that is the right move. Obama has made the right statements about us not helping without serious changes in al-Malaki’s government, but I think all we would be doing is giving him the military force he needs to gain control once again, then when we leave he’ll be back to his same old tricks. Besides, we’ve learned from 10 years of war in Iraq that you can’t just install and prop up a government and hope the people will follow.

In the short term, we will probably continue to provide intelligence and we will likely engage in limited air strikes and close air support (assuming the Iraqis have any troops on the field to support), but I don’t think it will succeed. I believe that without drastic measures by the US, Iraq will eventually fall. It won’t happen overnight, because Iran will send their forces in to battle the Sunni insurgents, but it will happen. Our only hope then will be to contain the insurgents within the country’s borders. That’s the least worst option, but it just kicks the can down the road for someone else to deal with later, most likely with yet another invasion.

There may be a way to resolve Iraq once and for all, and that’s through occupation and pacification. It would be a long process and would come at great cost, but it may be the only thing that will work.

Obama should draft a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq for Congress to vote on. The AUMF would lay out the required authorizations as well as the criteria for termination.

The requirements:

  1. Activate the draft immediately for all military-age US citizens, male and female. Provide no exemptions for anything other than physical condition and conscientious objectors. Those exempted would be required to provide service for an identical period in organizations such as Peace Corps, Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, etc.
  2. Declare Iraq a hostile state and authorize the use of all means necessary to eliminate the threat.
  3. Provide the US State Department, with cooperation from the Department of Defense, the authority to create and implement a new system of government.
  4. The AUMF will remain in force until Congress has determined that all objectives have been fully achieved.

The objectives:

  1. An Iraqi government that is stable, fully functioning, and recognized as legitimate among the Iraqi people.
  2. Elimination of all terrorist and insurgent groups within the Iraqi borders.
  3. Elimination of the Iraqi populace placing ethnic identities over national identity.
  4. Iraqi populace pride and belief in their government.

This is not a 10 or even 20 year process. It will take generations to change the mindset of the Iraqi people, but I don’t believe peace is possible without that happening. It will not take 100,000 or even 500,000 US troops. It will be on the order of 1,000,000+. For the first decade or two, our military would have to function as the police, the military, and the entire government. It will take that long to raise people who can fill those positions that have more loyalty to their country than to their ethnic group and who won’t turn tail and run the first time shots are fired at them. We would have to function as benevolent dictators, completely occupying and pacifying the country. We would have to go door-to-door and disarm the entire populace to reduce the threat to our troops.

I recognize that this is an extreme step with no guarantee of success, but the strategy we’ve been following for the past few decades is doomed to certain failure. This approach would not be popular on the left or on the right and I’m sure I’ll take some arrows for even suggesting it. This approach would never happen because the political risk is too great for the President and members of Congress, but if you honestly believe that what is happening in Iraq is vital to the national security of the US, you have to be willing to do what it takes to fix the problem and that’s what I think it will take.

Holy shit, Eric Cantor just lost his primary! Cantor is about as conservative as it gets, but he crossed the Teahadists when he came out in favor of immigration reform. They were able to find a nobody college professor with no money to put up against Cantor and Cantor lost. He lost badly and the Teahadists are raping his corpse.

If Cantor isn’t pure enough, there is no hope for the Republican Party.

Coming on the heels of a “Sovereign Citizen” shooting up a Georgia courthouse, we have two people in Las Vegas who murdered two police officers in cold blood, then went to Wal-Mart, killing another person before they ended their spree in a murder-suicide pact. These two incidents are not isolated, but are the direct result of the hate-filled rhetoric that the rabid right wing has directed toward the government and President Obama in particular.

It turns out that the Las Vegas killers were ardent believers in positions espoused by the most extreme people on the right; the “Patriot” movement. They yelled, “This is the start of the revolution” and draped a Gadsden Flag (a symbol appropriated by extremist groups in recent years) over the body of one of the police officers. The couple’s Facebook page railed against anyone not 100% supportive of unrestricted 2nd Amendment rights and demonizes the federal government. Here’s an example of one of their statements on the 2nd Amendment:

“This is a declaration to all Americans. If you don’t agree with and hold dear the second amendment of the united states constitution (sic), then you ,need to self-deport yourself to someplace where people like you can congregate,” he wrote on Jan. 1, 2013. “We are already on our way to tyranny, and your corrupt evil ass needs to leave this country before you incite another civil war.”

“Your (sic) a traitor to this nation and its people who hold their rights dear to them and deserve to die a traitors death.”

And here’s one on the threat of the federal government:

“We can hope for peace. We must, however, prepare for war,” Miller wrote on June 2. “To stop this oppression, I fear, can only be accomplished through bloodshed.”

The rampage in Las Vegas is what happens when violent rhetoric is taken to the extreme. Right wing politicians have increasingly embraced this rhetoric in order to compete for the votes of the Tea Party and extremist conservatives who dominate Republican primaries without regard to how they are aiding and abetting attacks like the two that occurred in the past week. Joni Ernst talks about cutting off the testicles of big spending politicians and literally shooting Obamacare, other candidates shooting Obamacare, and even one candidate shooting a drone.

Since 2008, we have also seen the right attempt to delegitimize the President, and by extension any action he has ever taken and his entire party, by calling into question his citizenship and his religion. Their reasoning is that if can cast enough doubt on his legitimacy, nothing he does can be considered legitimate. The ones who are out there doing this in the public square are doing it for partisan political reasons (because angry people vote), but they aren’t giving any thought to how they are stirring up the masses.

Extremists use the rhetoric they hear from Tea Party candidates and take it to heart, not realizing they are being agitated. They, unlike the political candidates, actually believe what they are hearing. This gives rise to groups like Oath Keepers, who flocked to the Bundy Ranch in anticipation of being able to stand on the front lines of the coming civil war. Some of those people were salivating at the chance to put a bullet into a government employee and, in their view, start the campaign to free America from the tyranny of the left.

You would be hard pressed to put comments by the Las Vegas murderers, Tea Party candidates, and right wing bloggers and commenters side-by-side and determine who said what. Bloggers joyfully anticipate a Second American Revolution, but will deny that they mean anything that has to do with violence. Right wing commenters will talk about how they must prepare for the day when the left takes one step too far and they are forced to defend themselves and their property. They will talk about the jack-booted thugs oppressing Cliven Bundy and make comparisons between Democratic policies and Nazi Germany, then express shock and dismay when the Las Vegas murderers equate police officers with Nazis.

I’m sure we are all familiar with comments like this one from the Las Vegas killers:

There is no greater cause to die for than liberty. To die for that cause is easy, to live for it is another matter. I will willingly die for liberty. Death, in a sense is freedom from tyranny. Death, is the easy way out. Most notably is the “suicide by cop” routine. Yes, standing before despots is dangerous and most likely does not end well for you. I know this, my wife knows this. Soon they will come for us, because they don’t like what we think, and what we say. They don’t like the fact that we, simply will not submit to fascist rule. We don’t have much, but we are willing to sacrifice everything…….for you, for your freedoms. Even if you wouldn’t let us have ours. We know who we are and what we stand for, do you?”

The people who generate this type of rhetoric, whether they are politicians, pundit, bloggers, or anonymous commenters, need to own these violent acts. Their words are directly responsible. The only difference between the talkers and the doers is that one group actually means what they say, and I don’t know how to tell them apart anymore.

Weekly B4V Sucks Thread

Posted: June 6, 2014 by Marner in Open Thread
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We are going to try something new here. It seems that people tend to go wildly off topic in the threads going off on something said over at B4V. In an attempt to try and keep the other threads clean, I present to you your one-stop-shop for everything B4V related. Feel free to vent to your heart’s content, but please keep it here rather than putting it in the other threads. I’ll provide you a brand spanking new thread every Friday.

Enjoy.

FSM forbid anyone’s feeling should be hurt by calling people what they are.

Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said the shooter, Dennis Marx, walked into Forsyth County Administration Building on East Main Street at about 10:30 a.m. and opened fire. He was armed with an assault rifle, according to authorities. Piper said Marx threw stop sticks on the road so that cars could not approach.

The station reports that Marx has identified himself as a sovereign citizen, part of an anti-government group that has been tied to violent attacks on law enforcement around the country. He was due in court today to plead out on drug and weapons charges.

How many of these “Sovereign Citizens” were setting up sniper positions at the Bundy ranch?

Our Last POW Returns

Posted: June 3, 2014 by Marner in Current Events, Politics
Tags: ,

By now everyone has heard that SGT Bowe Bergdahl has been released from captivity and is now back in the hands of the US military. We traded five Taliban prisoners for his release. Rather than celebrating the fact that the sole prisoner of war from Afghanistan has returned safely, some have let their hate of everything Obama drive them to despicable depths.

Rep. McKeon from California and Sen. Inhofe from Oklahoma were first out of the gate when they chose not to welcome SGT Bergdahl home, but to accuse Obama of acting lawlessly by not notifying Congress 30 days prior to any release of Guantanamo detainees. They have been followed by more Republican deep thinkers like Sen. Cruz, Sarah Palin, and Dick Cheney. The worst is John McCain, himself a prisoner of war, saying he would not have made the deal and just left Bergdahl behind.

The bottom line that these chicken hawks don’t understand is you don’t leave a soldier behind. We are packing up and getting out of Afghanistan and Obama took the necessary steps to make sure there was not one person unaccounted for when the last plane leaves. Why Bergdahl left his post or what his distraught father may have tweeted just doesn’t matter. We get our soldiers back, then we deal with whatever they may have done. We don’t just say, “Fuck it, let him rot.” Most Americans understand this, but there are some out there who hate Obama with such passion that they would rather see an American POW die in captivity than see Obama achieve anything positive and the opportunistic grifters are more than happy to milk that sentiment for votes and book sales. Despicable.

I think if Rep. McKeon feels so strongly about this, he should immediately begin impeachment hearings. Put the President of the United States on public trial for bringing back the only US POW before leaving Afghanistan. Please, please do this so that we can get fewer assholes like you in Congress.

On Wednesday, Sen Rockefeller held a hearing of the Senate Commerce committee and some sparks flew. Rockefeller made this statement in a hearing about the ACA:

“It’s very important to take a long view at what’s going on here. And I’ll be able to dig up some emails that make part of the Affordable Care Act that doesn’t look good, especially from people who have made up their mind that they don’t want it to work. Because they don’t like the president, maybe he’s of the wrong color. Something of that sort,” Rockefeller said. “I’ve seen a lot of that and I know a lot of that to be true. It’s not something you’re meant to talk about in public, but it’s something I’m talking about in public because that is very true.”

That set Sen. Ron Johnson off.

“I didn’t object to this because of the race of the president. I objected to this because it is an assault on our freedom. And Mr. Chairman, I have to admit, I have a great deal of respect for you, but I’m the only one in the room, and I found it very offensive that you would basically imply that I’m a racist because I oppose this health care law. That is outrageous.”

Did you catch that? Rockefeller said some people oppose the ACA because of racism and Johnson twisted his words to say that Rockefeller called him a racist. This is the reverse race card played by Republicans on a regular basis. They make the false claim that liberals call all opposition to Obama racist, so therefore, no opposition to Obama can ever be racist. The GOP even went so far as to say racism has ended. It’s a weak attempt to keep liberals from pointing out that racism is alive and well in our country.

Just recently, numerous stories have appeared that only serve to reinforce that point. We have Cliven Bundy saying, “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro.” Republicans will say he is just a singular nutcase, even though they were full-throated in support of him until he opened his mouth, but he isn’t a lone wolf and racism is alive and well in the Republican Party. A New Hampshire police commissioner unapologetically called Obama a n****r. A county Republican Committee in Illinois sent out a newsletter calling Obama a zebra; half black, half white, and all ass. A Republican Party official in California sent out a picture of Obama’s face pasted on a chimpanzee’s body. A Republican Precinct Chairman in North Carolina opened up about the real reason for passing photo ID voting laws when he said, “If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.”

It’s not just about Obama, though. Racism is still prevalent throughout the country and it is not restricted to the South, as demonstrated by Robert Keller in Utah.

“What Keller wrote down, in a letter to the family last December, was a direct threat. His hate-filled letter – which concluded with “Get this n****r out!” – explicitly warned the parents that he would kill either the boy or the parents if they did not remove him from the neighborhood.

By Keller’s own description the letter read, “If it was my daughter – I think I wrote that I’d slice his throat or something like that.”

Keller told KUTV that he was inspired to write the letter out of fear that the boy might try to date white girls. “I just said, ‘What’s gonna happen later on down the road, when this black kid starts chasing these girls? Which I’ve seen,” he said. “That’s what set me off. I saw him walking down the street with a white gal.”

When Republicans try to shield themselves and their constituents from any accusations of racism, liberals need to forcefully push back. Stating the obvious fact that some opposition to Obama is based on racism is not the same as saying ALL opposition is based on racism. We can’t let the Republicans get a free pass to say anything they want by denying racism exists.