Kindling Mayhem

Kindling Mayhem

With all the torrid run amuck Republican escapades to comment about these past few years, it’s been rather rare to find true fault with Obama, but with a couple of recent factors coming to light under Obama’s discretion, it’s time to give him a blistering, for he’s certainly put himself into a knot creating some reluctant contortion.

Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom…just like that Obama has had five headaches pop up due primarily to partisan Republican politics…Benghazi, the IRS, AP, military sexual assaults and the NSA.

To lay out the ground works for all these committee and commission hearings, one has to first give a background on Representative Darrell Issa (R-Ca.) as acting chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. To say the least he’s had a checkered past, but then again, people can pull out of and above bad habits or...continue clinging to them. The verdict on which direction Issa is now on, is not quite in yet, but most definitely appears leaning heavily more towards the devious.

After dropping out of high school, Issa spent his early adult years dodging the police having been charged three times for grand theft auto and carrying a concealed weapon. To avoid jail time, he joined the Army and was attached to an explosive disposal unit. He claims he swept the 1971 World Series stadium for bombs while providing security for Richard Nixon’s appearance at the games, even though documents clearly show Nixon never attended any of the games during the ’71 World Series.

After leaving the military, Issa, along with his second wife moved to the greater Cleveland area. There, after taking $50,000.00 from his parents he invested in an electronics company known as ‘Quantum Enterprises’ ran by a friend of his. One of the company’s customers, the car alarm manufacturer ‘Steal Stopper’ was struggling financially. Issa took control of the company by foreclosing on a $60,000.00 loan he had issued to its founder, Joey Adkins who was late on one monthly payment owed. This is where Issa made his millions in turning the company around selling car alarms to Ford.

Later, in September of 1982 the offices and factory of the alarm company mysteriously caught fire quickly burning to the ground destroying all company documents and inventory. The investigation proved it was arson intentionally set by a flammable liquid in two places. Issa had three weeks earlier increased the company’s fire insurance policy by 462% and removed computer equipment holding accounting and customer information. Issa was implicated as the arsonist, but the insurance company could not validly prove without doubt that it was him who set the fire, so the court case was eventually dismissed. The insurance company though, was allowed to only pay out one-tenth of the insured amount.

Now back to the present. After receiving the oversight chair, back in 2011 Issa, out from the great beyond proclaimed that the Obama administration is “the most corrupt administration” this country’s ever had. To back that claim up Issa first starts accusing the Obama administration of malfeasance, then begins endless hearings to attempt at backing it up.

From the auto industry bailout through hearings on whether Obamacare infringes upon religious rights to low interest rate loans for fledgling renewable energy companies, Witch-hunt Issa has been trying in vain to find anything in countless hearings to discredit Obama. Unfortunately for him, his efforts to back up his 2011 claim has either dead panned, backfired or ran into a dead-end due to no factual substance or actually led to Republican culprits. This backward procedure of first filing accusations, then attempting to hunt down substantive facts to back it up is how Issa has been operating under all these endless hearings. It is truly a partisan ploy more than trying to reach the facts.                      

Obama, though of course as president has involvement in the five concerns. However, he is not directly responsible for two of them, partially responsible for one of them, has nothing to do with one, while the one remaining is the one I lay blame almost solely on him. This one, in my opinion, appears Obama transparency promises were thrown out the door, even though it is one of the least intensive ones Republicans are pursuing since it falls more in line with their political platform.

In most of these so-called scandals, Obama needs to go back more to his core values rather than playing the political card. So let’s pay a visit and review these crises one at a time and see if ya agree or not with any of my conclusions.

Rapacious Inquisition:
Benghazi is no scandal as Republicans have propped it up to be. Perhaps some negligence, but it is certainly no invective obloquy. Promising unlimited summer hearings on the matter will only rehash what is already known and should make the public grow tired of the endless melodrama.

Republicans accuse the Obama administration of a terrorist cover-up and the withholding of extra security when it was requested. First-off, Benghazi is not the American embassy in Libya, it is a consulate. A consulate is more like a satellite office dispersed throughout a country to take work load and distance off the embassy where the ambassador is stationed.

In the House of Representatives, Issa joined his majority Republicans in cutting almost half a billion dollars from the State Department’s two security divisions. One of those division cuts affected security personnel and security technologies, in which impacted adequate security measures within already under budgeted American consulates around the world. In order to salvage diplomatic budgets, in ensuring proper security for the embassy complexes left little for consulates. Further, Issa in 2009 supported a House amendment to cut 300 diplomatic security positions. Although it didn’t transpire, as it was voted down in the senate, Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget called for cutting foreign affairs spending by an extra 10%. 

Now, with a GOP voting record to whittle away foreign diplomatic security budgets, Republicans want to lay all blame squarely on the Obama administration for not adequately securing all our diplomatic posts. Kind of a contrast in terms wouldn’t one think?

Even if security was beefed up from a request to do so at the Benghazi consulate, it may not have thwarted the attack. Former security chief of the embassy in Tripoli, Gregory Hicks, who has complained of inadequate security measures, confesses that a higher wall and a half dozen more security guards still would not have been enough to deter the attack.

Happening on the eve of 9/11s 11th anniversary, there was a lot of confusion on what exactly went on there. Many embassies, in particular the one in Cairo, Egypt were enmeshed with protesters embroiled over from a personally U.S. made anti-Muhammad video. We may never know what exactly transpired, but many false and baseless GOP accusations flew. To bolster the terrorist attack angle, Republicans said there was early video evidence of the Islamist militia leader, Ahmed Abu Khatalla, founder of the Abu Obaida bin Jarrah militia as being present during the attack. Yes, he was there, but Ahmed was actually there rescuing and aiding the Americans trapped inside the consulate, not attacking them.

I must admit, I cringed when Susan Rice insisted on all the Sunday political shows that the attack was the result of protests over the video getting out of control. She said this in complete contrast to interim Libyan president, Mohammed Magarief’s earlier statement that the act was carried out by terrorists who had infiltrated the country.

I could see her point, for almost everyone there at the scene said they were indeed there protesting the U.S. made video…and I could see Magareif’s point also, for he didn’t want to think it was national Libyans protesting to have spontaneously carried out the attack on a country that was instrumental in aiding Libyans to rid themselves of the brutal dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. It was simply too early for any of them to be registering responsible culprits. Let the facts first reveal themselves.

In contrast to Issa’s star witness, Gregory Hicks who claimed any extra security to be sent to Benghazi was stood down, in testimony just today this Wednesday June 12, 2013, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey unequivocally testified that Army forces were never told to stand down. He also stated that Special Forces could not get to Benghazi on time and instead were instructed to enforce the Tripoli airport.

To say the Obama administration intentionally acted slowly to bring in reinforcements is wholly asinine. For Obama and Hillary, this was not only a policy issue it was personal, for Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was a close friend to both of them.      

The forged e-mails by an unknown Republican concerning Benghazi handed over to ABCs Jonathan Karl that were proven wrong once the entire White House e-mails were revealed, did not help the Republican’s case much either in pinning sole responsibility onto Obama’s administration; in fact it showed the highlighted partisanship level to promote bogus data in their void of facts ideologue quest.

The point is, Benghazi should not be a political ‘gotcha’ moment. A blame game for this incident is useless for understanding the results and bettering foreign security policies.

After the 1983 bombings of the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon where 69 Americans were killed plus the killing of 299 American and French servicemen in the Lebanon marine barracks bombing, Americans did not begin grabbing pitchforks, they came together. The Democrat majority congress did not put Reagan on trial to gain political points. Reagan actually cut and ran from the incidents instead of fortifying or investigating the cause and effect.

The 1998 simultaneous Kenya and Tanzania embassy attack bombings killing hundreds of people did not bring the then majority Republican congress to condemn President Clinton. No, Republicans weren’t as radical and extreme back then; they actually backed Clinton to aid in what and why it happened and to go after the perpetrators.

Let’s not even begin to comment about 9/11. With 2,996 innocent causalities under his watch, Bush was oafish not listening to intelligence concerns about possible al-Qaeda U.S. attacks, because at the time his administration was too busy coming up with schemes on why the U.S. needed to invade Iraq. Nonetheless, even with a commission formed to get at the details of the 9/11 attack, Americans did not blame Bush, in fact they gave him his finest loudspeaker moment throughout his presidency.

Now in this isolated but unfortunate Benghazi incident, an American facility was attacked with four Americans killed. One thing most of us don’t have is the statistics handy in showing that 54 terrorist attacks on American diplomatic facilities occurred under Bushs watch where 13 folks were killed. Now why are we mostly ignorant of that…because Democrats didn’t turn it into a one ring political sideshow. No, they did what should be expected...coming together in bipartisan fashion and attempt to alleviate trying concerns while beefing up proper security for our foreign diplomats and servicemen. So much for Republican claims of Obama projecting weakness, huh.

Tax Messaging:
The IRS, perhaps the one governmental department disliked most by Americans was too great a bait for Republicans not to seize upon and attempt to tie the Obama administration into the tax exempt status fiasco of conservative organizations.

Let’s put all this into some kind of context.

Supposedly, the IRS is accused of withholdining only conservative groups requesting 501(c)4 tax exempt status to register themselves as a social welfare charitable organization and as being apolitical. This occurred at the height of political conservative movements in 2010. In addition, with the Republican push to defund government, congress cut the IRS budget, which in turn cut personnel creating manpower shortages within the bureau. It made sense to collect and categorize group requests into familiar files.

Republicans are attempting to portray the IRS as strictly picking on conservative groups. Read any news coming from the media and it will make it appear as only conservative groups were being targeted. In fact only one-third of all groups targeted by the IRS had the ‘Tea Party’ moniker in their name, the rest of the two-thirds out of the 298 groups seeking 501(c) status were various other affiliated groups, even progressive groups that no one mentions.

It took the liberal group, ‘Progress Texas’ 479 days before the IRS signed off on their request for tax exempt status. Heck for that matter, some progressive groups weren’t just held up for review, but were denied tax exempt status during the same time frame. ‘Emerge America,’ a San Francisco based organization promoting and training women to become elected candidates and the abortion rights activist group, ‘Coalition for Life’ were outright denied their requests after prolonged reviews.

Ah, now there…are Republicans feeling like it is merely them being picked on. Now, how does that old saying go…trying to make mountains out of mole hills?
Let’s face it…groups with title names including ‘Tea Party,’ if one was to go out in the streets and ask folks is this a social welfare or political group…in reply, the answer one would receive would resoundingly be political. Even ‘True the Vote,’ (TV) a Tea Party off-branch were held up for review, but were finally granted their tax exempt status while their actions are clearly incriminatingly political in nature. TV is the one who harassed and intimidated minority voters in polling lines and donated to Republican candidates.

It is of my opinion (since Republicans have brought it up with their whining) that 501(c)3&4 status should all be terminated. Why should the taxpayer be fronting Karl Rove’s ‘American Crossroads’ as tax exempt when its intent is clearly a political agenda in donating huge amounts to Republican candidates and placing negative ads against Democrat candidates. When it comes to Rove and his political organization’s motives…charitable social welfare causes my aspirin bottle…  

These modern day conservative extremist groups were linked in with others by the IRS claiming tax exempt status for ‘charitable’ purposes, while in fact when you have names affiliated with ‘Tea Party’ name tags, you know end purposes are ‘political’...not ‘charitable.’ The IRS hasnt denied them...just held them for thorough review and for good reason. With the Republican push to defund budgets, congress cut the IRS budget, while in turn the IRS had to cut personnel.

Now let’s review… Laid out in all its glorious perspective, the time all these hordes of Tea Party groups began requesting 501(c) tax exempt status was just after the SCOTUS citizens united decision and Republicans cutting the IRS budget, thusly cutting personnel…I think that myself as anyone else, wouldve categorized them all neatly into a file as well for thorough review.

Imagine that...All the anonymous donations going into the Tea Party groups’ till to pay for lie-filled ads in attempts to throw a national election...then insisting on social welfare status instead of political...then when finding how the IRS handled their requests now scream, “Is this country a democracy anymore?”

Issa’s whole slant on this IRS escapade is that Obama knew about it this past April, but never revealed it to congress or the public as if the president had masterminded some plan in cahoots with the IRS in thwarting conservative groups’ tax exempt status. Unfortunately for Issa, Treasury Inspector General, J. Russell George, a card carrying Republican himself appointed by George W. Bush, gave light in testimony that he indeed had informed Issa way back in August of 2012, where Issa since then had refrained from having any knowledge of the IRS reviews.

It is Issa himself, who misled the public by claiming the GOP was never informed of the ongoing IRS investigations by the inspector general, not Obama.

Adding to this, Issa released partial committee IRS interview transcripts that out of context seemed to imply Obama had known earlier about the IRS Cincinnati office scrutiny of conservative groups’ tax exempt requests. Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on Issa’s House Inquisition Committee pressed Issa to release the transcripts in their entirety. Issa promised he would, but never did for they are in full very revealing with quotes that the Obama administration were unaware of the activity. In fact Obama by law is not allowed to directly communicate with the IRS chairman or its officials.

With Issa breaking his promise, Cummings himself arranged the release of the full transcripts and in it, the acting IRS manager of the Cincinnati office, who happens by the way to be a devout conservative Republican, emphatically states, “Washington had nothing to do with the inquiry. I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development.”

This made Issa furious ya know, getting caught in being deceitful and all, so in turn, in a nasty and disrespectful way scolded Cummings through a released letter. In the letter, Issa berets Cummings while accusing him of being an obstacle to seeking the truth. Now ain’t that just something. Issa contorts the truth with his partial cherry-picked transcript exposure, but accuses Cummings for obstructing the truth by releasing the full transcripts. Acting as if he was Cumming’s overlord instead of what he truly is…a fellow congressman; it is scandalous in itself for Issa to cover-up his singling out of pertinent data with his scathing letter.   

In Issa’s total disdain for Obama, it pushes him to lie and distort the truth. He and his Republican cohorts are utilizing vile partisan politics trying anything to discredit this president.

The sad state to all this malice and malaise uproar is that it has all been frivolous. The simple fact is that it isn’t even necessary for social welfare nonprofits to apply to the IRS for tax exempt status in the first place. No 501(c)4 is necessary to exist as a social welfare nonprofit. These type groups legally can bypass tax exempt status recognition by the IRS and immediately incorporate to start raising and spending money. The main reason they do apply is that an IRS recognition letter is an advantage for raising money from certain donors and corporations.                        

Ulcer Anxiety:
As far as the thousands of sexual assaults that go on in the military, no matter how many Republicans want to tie Obama into this in their efforts to discredit him, he for sure is not accountable for these actions. In fact over his watch, it is finally being seriously addressed. This has been a military problem that has knowingly existed for decades. It’s been a plague for a long time coming and appears to rise exponentially every year.

A note on this though, Democrat Senator Karl Levin’s panel rejected Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s measure to have military sexual assault cases taken away from the military chain of command and placed in the responsibility of special military prosecutors who have gained expertise in these matters.

Regardless of Levin’s inept decision, the changes adopted this week though in the senate, will add extra layers of review by superior military officers and will make retaliation against the victims, whether it be the perpetrator or any officer up the chain of command a criminal offense. The military may not have to tippy-toe now, but at least be on their toes.

Who knows what was in his head when cutting out the specialist military prosecutors and leaving responsibilities with the chain of command, for the chain has been the most vexing obstacle in prosecutions. Levin, in my opinion has been briefed by military brass stating the implications of debasing highly decorated soldiers and high ranking officers would wear on military pride and command. So be it I say, for they already corrupted those qualities in committing the crime or its covering up.

Gillibrand promises she will take up the fight on the senate floor later this year. Perhaps then Levin will have a change of mind, but for the time being, it appears Levin prefers to remain a member of the ‘good ol’ boys club.’

In the following last two items, as a redneck liberal Independent, I can find fault in Obama and his administration’s decisions and actions, but glaringly these are the two areas Republicans have almost been completely silent on. Why, because spying and pursuing whistleblower prosecutions are two big mandates in the GOP platform. What we are discussing here are the revelations of spying on reporters and the extent of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) reach into public citizens’ private lives. Funny though, Republicans contend gun control encroaches on individual rights, but spying and gathering information on the public as a whole is no breach of individual privacy rights.

Who spoke the following?
“I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedoms. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. That is not who we are and it is not necessary to defeat the terrorists.”

The quote above is from then Senator and candidate for the presidency Barack Obama in 2007. My, my how things must change from being candidate Obama to being President Obama.

Shame on Obama for not only taking up the Bush/Cheney US Patriot Act secretive spying by Big Bubba, but defending them as necessary in battling terrorism. The problem here though, it is not illegal, it is the law. Through the NSA, as long as the government receives blessings on their justifications from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts, government surveillance can demand from court orders that communication companies turn over calling records (data mining) of their customers. Even though they have no recorded phone conversations/e-mail correspondence, they can set up a network of who talked or wrote to whom. Special elected members of congress have also been routinely apprised and informed of who is being spied on and why.

As long as the U.S. Patriot Act is congressionally renewed to NSA functions, who by the way have been around since the late 1940s, all this spying is perfectly legal whether it be foreign or domestic.

A few Libertarian Republicans such as Senator Rand Paul have objected to the secretive privacy invasions. Even Democrats like Senator Ron Wyden have been pressing intelligence officials to testify and publicly explain their use of cell phone tracking since Wyden feels the secretiveness has gotten out of hand. But in testimonial this week, General Michael Hayden, former NSA director under Bush emphatically stated spying acts are now more transparent than they ever were under the Bush administration.

Security climate is far different today than when the founding fathers first wrote the Constitution and perhaps some individual rights might be necessary to be trampled on while hopefully not fully expunged, but we’ll sum it up with a Ben Franklin quote.

He said, “Any society to give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither.”

Spying on Associated Press (AP) reporters and the Fox News correspondent James Rosen for reporting on classified leaks, truly implicates Obama, for he was kept abreast by Attorney General Eric Holder.

This revolves around sensitive government material that was leaked in 2010 and 2011 that the government claimed could threaten the lives of covert operations agents. Once the government caught on, the justice department demanded the reporters to expose the leaker and not report the information for public review. The reporters refused, so the government decided to set up a spying operation by gathering the reporters’ phone records. Although they never charged him, federal prosecutors went so far as to claim Rosen was a criminal co-conspirator thereby seizing his personal e-mails.

There is a very fine line between freedom of press and keeping sensitive leaks out of the public eye, but I feel Obama may have jumped across that line a little too far.

At least Obama has setup a review of this incident and it is expected to be finalized this July 12th. In a speech Obama also confessed, “Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law. As Commander-in-Chief, I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field. To do so, we must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information. But a free press is also essential for our democracy. That’s who we are, and I’m troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable.”

Again, it’s time for Obama to go back to and lean more on his core values than continue shuffling political cards and he should draw that line a little more distinct.

Cruz Un-Control:
On a totally different topic, how about we end with Mr. Smarty Pants.

Rafael Cruz, otherwise choosing instead to be known as Ted in its appeal to tea baggers as an Anglicized name, is the most obstructionist senator sitting in congress. In the very beginning I said that this inept quack was going to realize he’s not back home on a Texas range with all the conservative comforts. No, he’s now in the U.S. senate where he needs to tone down his rhetorical ideologue and become a little more diplomatic in bipartisanship. If he doesn’t, well he’s gonna get some spankings and indeed he has…even some paddlings from his own party members.

Cruz doesn’t legislate, he obstructs legislation. He feels his whole purpose is to appease the tea baggers back home and what appeals to them most is anything that is against Obama. For that, Cruz has been true, but in the process has severely interrupted conducting the nation’s business.

As his obstinate process unfolds, he likes to lecture seasoned politicians. This most definitely is the wrong way for a junior senator to rub experience. He has been called out. They say he is smart graduating from Harvard with a law degree and all, but his actions are totally not just dumb, but dumbfounding for those that have to work with him. He will willingly lie to promote his biased agendas and I don’t count that form of conduct as being smart.

Cruz’ red baiting, contending that there were more communists belonging to the Harvard law school than Republicans was totally debunked by the Harvard law professor, Charles Fried, who taught at Harvard during Cruz’ time there and is a Republican himself who worked under the Reagan administration as solicitor general between the years of 1985 to 1989.

In 2010, Cruz stated that “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we [Obama included] were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.” He further added that Obama “would have made a perfect president of Harvard law school,” at attempting to portray Obama as a communist.

Fried rebuttals this outlandish statement by insisting Cruz’ “willingness to label the faculty Communist lacks nuance.” Fried goes on to say there were more than one Republican, but also there were liberals, but being liberal did not make them communists. Fried also states, “unlike Cruz or [Eugene] McCarthy,” he didn’t keep a poll or tabs on who was who, but would be totally “surprised if there were any members of the faculty who believed in the Communists overthrowing the U.S. government.”

On March 13, 2013 as a keynote speaker at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) convention Cruz had this to say, “Democrats are fighting a war on religion. Democrats are telling the Catholic Church change your religious beliefs or we’re going to use our power in the federal government to shut down your charities and your hospitals.”

With not one Democrat being found to have even hinted at that false Cruz accusation, this statement is so bogus ‘Politi-Fact’ gave it their highest ‘Pants on Fire’ truth-o-meter reading of over 100%.

So saith Cruz, “The biggest obstacle to passing common sense immigration reform is President Barack Obama.” ABC News 06/10/2013

Believe it and take Cruz for his word, but not for substance...merely for content only...for if anyone should know about being an obstacle to is none other than Cruz.

On the senate floor in May debating whether the senate appoint conferees should work out a federal budget, so saith Cruz, “Let me be clear. I dont trust the Republicans.”

Senator John McCain had just said that Cruz’ refusal to not appoint conferees was distrusting Republicans and surprisingly in not only trusting Democrats, Cruz concurs he doesn’t trust Republicans either. But of course he doesn’t, for he is one.

The true spankings Cruz has received thus far has actually been administered by women. Senator Diane Feinstein paddled him good after he gave her a lecture on the Constitution’s Bill of Rights during a gun control hearing. The second whipping was by Senator Amy Klobuchar during deliberations on the senate ATF nominee hearings this past Tuesday June 11, 2013.

Below are links to video segments of the two hearings. Please note the boyish arrogant face Cruz wears while being told about what are nuts and what are bolts in the bucket throughout the segment by Feinstein. 

In the second video segment, Cruz has to make sure the hearing includes his single coauthored bill. He introduces it by chastising ATF chair nominee Jones for not being aware of the Grassley/Cruz gun control legislation and its funding for prosecuting criminals acquiring guns illegally. Conveniently though, he left out the amount of funding, for it is only $50 million spread out over five years. That would be gobbled up in one medium sized U.S. city within one year, much less the entire nation. Unfortunately for Cruz, once Klobuchar chimes in, he has no more speaking time so had to sit silently, listen and weep.

In Reporting From
Duty & Honor

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