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Friday, May 31, 2013

Syria Will Demand International Leadership from President Obama

Syria is escalating into a very dangerous international confrontation. Americans are now in a position where reacting to the urgent needs of Syrian rebels puts our nation face to face in a conflict with Russia.

The world has become a more dangerous place during the time Republicans have been creating angst about a ridiculous trio of "scandals". This is particularly so because the Syrian government is now receiving military aid from Russia- a situation that threatens Middle East stability with potentially awesome consequences.

This ominous Russian involvement calls for a leadership moment from President Obama. Although he's been challenged by a rigorous re-election campaign while, concurrently, providing supportive executive grief counseling for a series of national tragedies, these situations haven't summoned the leadership skills of a John F. Kennedy, during the Cuban Crisis. In my opinion, the escalating Syrian crises, complicated by Russian involvement, requires John F. Kennedy type of leadership action.


President Obama has extended several threats to the Syrian government, but the rebellion continues to look like a massacre of the insurgents, many of them are Christian martyrs.

Russian involvement in the Syrian war is a deliberate taunting of the US warnings against such actions. Apparently, the Russians are looking for a confrontation.  One has to wonder about their motivation for this antagonistic interference?  

Well, we're likely to find out soon, very soon, because the carnage in Syria is demanding accountability.  

President Obama has a chance to demonstrate executive leadership, while creating historic significance, by protecting Middle East stability. Hopefully, he's preparing himself by reading a lot about President John F. Kennedy, General Dwight David Eisenhower and Sir Winston Churchill.

Unfortunately, Syria may become the unlikely legacy President Obama will leave on his history. 

(June 4th twitter from Richard Engel:  At least 147 people whose bodies were found in #Aleppo’s river between Jan- March probably executed in govt-run areas, Human Rights Watch)

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Obamacare Poll- Americans May Finally "Get It"; But Republicans, Ahhh, Not So Much

Republicans quickly misrepresented a popularity poll recently reported about how Americans perceive the health care reform called "Obamacare".  

Probably, the poll was taken, because the US House recently wasted even more time and money to vote to repeal the health care reform law - an obsessive compulsive reaction to the law . 

CNN commissioned a poll to determine if this repetitious waste of time is somehow gaining traction with the public.  What's evident in the poll is that the public has not moved on this issue.

Nevertheless, it turns out, Republicans jumped to the conclusion that Americans oppose the health care reform law. In fact, a break down of the data shows how those who oppose the law say it's because they actually want an expansion of the benefits.  

Health care colleagues I know say people who oppose "Obamacare" do so because they prefer a single payer system.

(Dateline) Washington (CNN) - CNN's latest health care poll, released Monday, is in the political crossfire. Conservatives say it's proof the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unpopular. Liberals, on the other hand, say it's a call for more reform and an aggressive policy to develop national health care.

As mentioned at the time, the national survey found that "a majority of Americans still oppose the nation's new health care measure, three years after it became law."

But, as was pointed out immediately in the second paragraph of the CNN story, " a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday also indicates that more than a quarter of those who oppose Obamacare, say they don't support the measure because it doesn't go far enough."

As you can imagine, after the poll went up online, opponents of the Affordable Care Act highlighted the first number in the survey, that 54% of Americans say they oppose the law.

But it's far from the whole story.

Supporters of the law point to the second number in the survey: That 35% oppose the health care law because it's too liberal, with 16% saying they oppose the measure because it isn't liberal enough. Add that 16% to the 44% who say they favor the law and that means that six in ten either support the law or don't think it goes far enough.

"It's sometimes difficult to remember, but at the start of the health care debate in 2009, many Democrats wanted nothing less than a single-payer system and were extremely disappointed when that approach was not part of the new law. That disappointment seems to have persisted among some groups," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

CNN has been asking the "support/oppose" question and the "too liberal/not liberal enough" breakdown since March 2010, before the bill was passed by a then Democrat controlled Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. The responses to both questions have stayed pretty much in the same ballpark over the three year period.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Rather than assist Americans with legislation to streamline the implementation of Obamacare; or educate providers about how to help the uninsured obtain access to health insurance coverage, the Republicans, instead, just want to cause trouble.  

A Republican misinformation campaign about Obamacare is intended to stir up fear and mistrust, two smear tactics they've certainly mastered, through their years of experience. 

Those who figured out how Obamacare might become a better benefit if it "morphs" into a national health plan, are on the right side of this issue.  Hopefully, these advocates will "get it" enough to vote the obstructionist Republicans out of office. In so doing,  Americans might be able seek a health care reform law the public can understand and support - in a single payer system. 

Let's get the polling data right and push harder for the health care reform Americans really want to support.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hypocritical Political Scandals - Republicans Have Short Memories (Among Other Problems)

Obviously, Republicans have no ideas about how to lead our nation. Otherwise, they'd be busy creating ideas to improve our human and economic conditions. Instead, they're busy muckraking scandals to make themselves look legitimate.  What's worse, the Washington DC scandals that Republicans are stoking, to spew up firestorms, expose their efforts as hypocritical.

Begin with hypocritical scenario number one: Benghazi a diplomatic mission in Libya, attacked on September 11, 2012.  Americans certainly don't know all there is to know about the tragic death of Ambassador Stevens and the security people who were sadly killed with him.  Nevertheless, the firestorm that killed the four Americans was one horribly incendiary incident. But, before creating a scandal about what we don't know, Republicans should look to the many thousands of deaths in Iraq and ask the very same questions they're raising about the Benghazi attack.  Thousands of Americans (and Iraqi citizens) have been killed in Iraq, in a baseless war, an invasion of a sovereign nation based on an assumption about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), that didn't exist.  I'm more interested to know how Americans wound up fighting the War in Iraq, when none of the questions raised about the invasion were sufficiently answered beforehand and an exit strategy wasn't prepared.  

Hypocritical political scandal two:  Associated Press reporters' telephone records subpoena by the Department of Justice.  In this scandal scenario, the Republicans refuse to look at how much they mistrust the "lame stream media" (Sarah Palin's memorable quote). Many acted self righteously when the subpoena of the reporters' information was announced by Attorney General Holder.  Nevertheless, any modern person, journalist or otherwise, must be delusional not to know how all electronic instant communications are subject to eavesdropping, especially so for those who are targeted for surveillance, like reporters can be, for any reason whatsoever.  Although I'm not defending the actions of Attorney General Holder in issuing the subpoena, I'm simply saying, the incident doesn't pass the straight face test among  Republicans, who want to enlarge the incident into a sinister scandal.  Certainly, the surveillance of news reporters is, honestly, nothing new.  

Finally, the Internal Revenue Service and the 501(c) 4 applications, for tax exempt status, received from right wing Tea-Party organizations. Apparently, a higher than usual number of these applications were targeted for special review for (presumably) political scrutiny. This third scenario is the most laughable of the three hyped and hypocritical scandals.  A 501(c) 4 tax exempt organization is a non-profit corporation created to be exempt from paying federal income taxes. Political organizations don't typically fall into the category of "non-profit", unless they demonstrate how the monies raised and expended are used to serve a public service "mission statement".  It's the job of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to sort through these applications, to determine whether or not they're legitimate.  If the IRS didn't do the job of thoroughly reviewing these tax exempt application, I suspect a special prosecutor would investigate whether or not the agency was being mismanaged, but for an entirely opposite reason than the one the Republicans are hyped about.  Of course, many right wing Republicans don't want anybody to pay taxes. Therefore, presumably, Republicans should advocate for all Americans to receive a 501(C) 4 status! Obviously, however, if no one paid taxes, the Republicans who screech about IRS over reach in the 501(c) 4 hyped scandal wouldn't receive any taxpayer subsidized salaries.  So, Republicans hypocritically gripe about the 501(c) 4 scrutiny of applications that, in my opinion, should never receive authorization.  Although it's just my opinion, very few, if any, political organizations should be non-profit, because somebody, somewhere, profits by a tax exempt designation.  In fact, the 501(c) 4 designation should be eliminated.  This "4" is a different designation than the 501(c) 3 that's required for an organization to be considered "charitable"; so, the "4" is simply not necessary.  An organization is either charitable or political, it can't be both.

Republicans in Congress get paid to support the US Constitution, which doesn't include creating or stoking scandals.  When it comes to scandals, Republicans have short memories, because their own political party certainly tried to hide a few in the recent past - Watergate being a paramount example.

Rather than continue their scandals attack, Republicans should apply their energy and money to communicating new ideas about how to lead and govern America.  Otherwise, the Republicans are a political party that needs to close for repairs. (Thank you Honorable Robert Dole).

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Closed for Repairs - American Patriot Robert Dole Calls for Republican Reforms on Fox News

We just love this slogan coming directly from a respected Republican leader. It's good advice to his political colleagues.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” the former Senate Majority Leader gave his fellow Republicans a piece of advice
“I think they ought to put a sign on the National Committee doors that says closed for repairs until New Year’s Day next year and spend that time going over ideas and positive agenda.”

Frankly, there's nothing wrong with the Republican's old ideas, if they'd just stick to them.  Instead of being focused on their tried and true principles to support efficient government through fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and minimal business regulations, the Grand Old Party is a storing house for stupid right wing ideas. Republican activists are involved in moral and social issues that make no sense whatsoever.   

Although Republicans stand in opposition to improving and protecting social safety nets like Social Security and Medicare, theirs is the political party that pushed through the Medicare Part D expansion.  This expensive add on to the Medicare benefit is a cash cow for pharmaceutical companies, which, of course, are very big businesses, that often support Republican candidates.

Part of the "repairs" Republicans need include shedding their attachment to stupid ideas, not supported by science.  They must fumigate their party of candidates who think creationism is a viable theory about how the earth was created, who speak about whether or not rape causes pregnancy (it can and does) and whether or not a zygote (fertilized egg) is human (we just don't know).  Republicans must also admit that guns really do kill people and support modifications to the Second Amendment to protect public safety.  

To save their Republican party from extinction, they might consider  the wisdom of President Calvin Coolidge (1924-1929).  "If we wish to erect new structures, we must have a definite knowledge of the old foundations," he said in his March 4, 1925 inaugural address.

In other words, repairing the Republican Party means going back to its political foundations.  They must open the tool box where the conservative movement was crafted and immediately fix the right wing plumbing that consumes so much wasted energy. At the same time, Republicans must attract intelligent political candidates who understand how to inspire enlightened leadership.

"Closed for Repairs", means Republicans must build a new and progressive road to support American prosperity. Rather than obstruct progress, they should support what's good for America and take credit for any subsequent success.

Of course, there's also a concrete interpretation of "repairs". Republicans must be willing to invest in building national infrastructures, like roads, bridges, schools and airports.

Unless Republicans take the advice of sage politicians like Robert Dole, as well as others who issue similar warnings, their political life expectancy can be counted by the number of votes it takes to put them out of power.  As a matter of fact, the sooner we vote the GOP out, the faster our nation can repair the damage caused by their senseless obstructionism.  

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Immigration and the American Military - Memorial Day Immigrants

Memorial Day parades pay tribute to American military veterans and those fallen in battles, but little, if any thing, is said or done to honor our immigrants who serve.

A Memorial Day Huffington Post headline:

U.S. Army Offers Citizenship Track For Immigrants With Specialized Skills

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Carolyne Chelulei came to the United States from Kenya on a student visa for a college education, but now the Army is offering her the chance to stay for good as a citizen. The 23-year-old is one of several hundred immigrants whose specialized skills, either in languages or in their professional background, make them eligible for a Pentagon program that repays service in uniform with an accelerated path to citizenship.

"I am excited about it," Chelulei said while visiting in her recruiter's office. "I like helping people, and I think I will be a great asset to America, to the Army."

While debate swirls in Congress about changing the nation's immigration policies, the Army is going ahead with offering some legal immigrants, living temporarily in the U.S., a path to citizenship, if they can fill certain critical jobs.


When my husband and I lived in the Philippines, our maid, named Norma, saved her weekly pay to have one electric light bulb installed in her house. Her purpose was to provide her son with enough light so he could study and speak English.  If he passed the English language exam, he had a good chance of being allowed to enlist in the US Navy.  

There are many times in American history when the military relied on immigrant or minority populations to aid in our nation's national security.  Let's begin with the French, who helped General George Washington's during the siege of Yorktown, in 1781, to win the American Revolutionary War, against Great Britain.  Japanese Americans served in all branches of the US military during World War II, while our nation was at war with Japan.  As World War II progressed, many young Japanese immigrants' children, who were born with American citizenship, volunteered to serve in the United States military. Japanese Americans served in all the branches of the United States armed forces, including with US Merchant Marines. Even Jim Bowie, the martyr of the Battle of the Alamo, was a Mexican citizen. Bowie became a Mexican  citizen after moving to Texas in 1830, and married Ursula Veramendi, the daughter of the Mexican vice governor of the province.  

My uncle, Pasquale Anselmi, was born in Italy, a World War II Axis nation; but, as an American, he earned a Purple Heart when he fought in the US Army, during the Allied invasion of Europe.  My Father-in-Law, William L'Heureux, was born in Connecticut, the son of French Canadian immigrants, and was a veteran of World War I.  My husband's French-Canadian grandmother, Emma Morin, of Biddeford, ME, was a Gold Star mother, after her son Napolean was killed in the Second Battle of the Marne, in France.

In spite of our nation's heroic immigrant ancestry, our US Congress, comprised overwhelmingly with people who are descendants of immigrant ancestors, are flooding meaningful immigration reform legislation with hundreds of daunting amendments. This obstruction makes no sense.

Aurura Bogado reports in "The Nation" blog, about how deportations continue while this Congressional debate is stalled:  "Congress has a long road ahead on immigration reform. The Senate Judiciary Committee started to consider some 300 amendments challenging the nearly 900-page bill crafted by the Gang of Eight. Lawmakers are hopeful that legislation will pass both houses by the end of summer. But, until then, the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants may continue full force. A group of advocates is now making a renewed call on President Obama to suspend deportations of those people who would gain status in the bill’s final version later this year,"she writes.

Although deportations continue, illegal border crossings continue, in spite of huge amounts of money put toward border security.  CBS news reported on May 1, 2013,  how the number of border crossings are actually increasing!  In Texas, just the debate itself is drawing new immigrants over the border.  Juan Mercado lives on border property his family has owned since the 1850s. Immigrants often sneak across there. But since January, the number has tripled, reports CBS News.

Illegal immigration through Mexico will never disappear.  Millions of people are Americans today, because their ancestors were among the people who crossed the southwest borders to find jobs and, eventually, citizenship. Republicans need to face up to this reality.  Illegal immigration via our nation's border with Mexico will never disappear, regardless of how much money we put towards deterrence and deportation. 

Americans need immigrants.  They're contributing to our national security and supplying workers for jobs Americans need to keep service industries solvent.  Moreover, while America's birth rate is flat and, in rare cases, even in negative numbers (as in Maine, for example) immigrants are growing in numbers.  Republicans aren't very good at math, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how the new immigrants will eventually be the "new-new" face of America.  Our US military is an example of this reality.  Take a close look at the picture of the US Military Academy at West Point:


This picture is the face of America today. These West Point future officer cadets are obviously and justifiably proud of their tradition of service. They're also descendants of immigrants who deserve our nation's tribute on Memorial Day.  Moreover, they are the proud example of our nation's tradition of accepting immigrants who have eventually become national heroes.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

GOP Failure in Infrastructure Investment - President Obama Gives Them Every Opportunity To Save Face

Right wing Republicans in our US Congress can only point to themselves when considering whose to blame about America's crumbling bridges and transportation infrastructure.

President Obama is clearly on the record, on several occasions, calling the Congress to invest in our nation's transportation infrastructure.  Otherwise, I'm absolutely certain, if the President had missed the opportunity to call for money to build American roads and bridges, right wing Republicans would quickly blame him for the recent collapse of Washington state bridges.

Bridge collapses in Washington state, and others, have renewed the urgency for funding infrastructure investment.  

Federal transportation safety agency chief says Washington bridge collapse is wake-up call:  'This is a really significant event and we need to learn from it, not just in Washington but around the country,' NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman said.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/federal-transportation-safety-agency-washington-bridge-collapse-wake-up-call-article-1.1355031#ixzz2UPypa7R5

It's impossible to understand why the US Congress is obstructing the important responsibility to improve our nation's essential transportation infrastructure, just because they can....

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama called for Congress to fund proposals to expand public-private programs, to build and repair modern ports, pipelines, schools and other infrastructure.

"..in Miami FL, Obama said strengthening the nation's infrastructure should be a non-partisan issue because it helps American business and creates jobs for the construction industry.  'We can't afford Washington politics to stand in the way of America's progress,' Obama said, adding that 'ultimately, Congress has to fund these projects'."

Obama's proposals followed up on his call in this year's State of the Union address for public-private partnerships to strengthen infrastructure development.

A White House aide told reporters traveling with Obama on Air Force One that the proposals outlined Friday would cost $21 billion, but added that they would not add to the federal deficit.

History Lesson:  Let's remind Republicans about who created our nation's interconnected highway infrastructure! It was Republican President Dwight David Eisenhower and the Highway Act of 1956.  

With an original authorization of 25 billion dollars for the construction of 41,000 miles (66,000 km) of the Interstate Highway System supposedly over a 10-year period, it was the largest public works project in American history through that time!!

Eisenhower understood, based upon his experience as a Five Star Army General, about the strategic importance of a strong national infrastructure. His visionary project is appreciated and enjoyed by all Americans, today.

Obviously, investing in transportation infrastructure is good for the economy.  In addition to creating jobs, building roads and bridges allows for efficient interstate commerce and access to tourism.

"Their impact (building roads and bridges) on the economy will be substantial...," said Alan Krueger, the chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

So, what's the hold up?  

Maybe President Obama needs to teach Republicans about their own political history.  I recommend he give a speech alongside a massive poster board image of President Eisenhower.  Another idea, perhaps President Obama should visit President Eisenhower's library in Abilene, Kansas to present an award to the late nation's 34th president, recognizing his visionary leadership in creating our nation's vital highway system.

Whatever works should be tried. Congressional Republicans must understand how utterly stupid they are to obstruct President Obama's leadership, especially about protecting our nation's highways and bridges.  

Moreover, Republicans have every opportunity to save face if they simply vote to lift the stupid budget sequester, a failed initiative everyone says is useless, and, instead, do something positive!  

Republicans are missing an opportunity to invest in America's important transportation infrastructure and, thereby, shine a light on their own party's President Dwight Eisenhower, for creating our successful highway system, in the first place. 

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day - the Veterans Cemeteries I've Visited: Many Thousands Who Died Too Soon

On this Memorial Day weekend 2013, I'm reflecting on the Veterans Cemeteries my husband and I have been honored to visit.

Although we're humbled by these experiences, it's impossible to view these beautifully serene cemeteries, browsing their rows of pristine headstones and memorials, without thinking about the potential buried in those graves. 


Practically all of the veterans in these cemeteries, particularly those that are in foreign countries, are the final resting places of young men and women, who could have been the next Einstein, or Rembrandt, Edison or Shakespeare.  Each one could have been exceptional. Instead, they were killed while protecting American freedoms, during our litany of wars, beginning with the Revolutionary War, to gain independence from Great Britain.

When my two sons were in the Boy Scouts, we would drive around the back roads of Maine to find veterans graves to decorate with American flags on Memorial Day.  It's surprising to see how many very old veterans graves are scattered around Maine and, likewise, I presume, throughout New England.  Some of the graves dated from the American Revolutionary War and Civil War.

In addition to proudly decorating these graves, my husband and I have decorated my father-in-law's headstone in St. Ignatius Cemetery in Sanford, Maine.  William L'Heureux (picture above) was a First World War veteran.

Here is a list of some Veterans cemeteries we visited. May all who are laid to rest in these inspirational settings, find eternal peace, although most of them likely, sadly, died in wars.

Arlington National Cemetery (Virginia)
http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/

Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial (France)

http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/am.php


National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific or "Punchbowl"(Hawaii)  http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/nmcp.asp

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial (Philippines)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manila_American_Cemetery_and_Memorial

Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kranji_War_Cemetery

Normandy American Cemetery Colleville Sur Mer (France)
http://battlefieldsww2.50megs.com/normandy_american_cemetery.htm
Beautifully inspiring statuary - "Youth Rising"

Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Augusta Maine
http://www.mevetscemetery.org/

Taps video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WChTqYlDjtI

My Bangor friend and lyricist, Joe Pickering, wrote these words after finding a piece of a rifle in the sands of Normandy Beach, while walking there, during his time in military service in the 1960's, in France.

If This Rifle Could Talk
by Joe Pickering

AS I WALKED ALONG A BEACH IN NORMANDY IN SIXTY ONE
I SPIED PART OF A RIFLE RUSTING IN THE SUN
HONEYCOMBED BY SALT WATER THROUGH THE YEARS
WAS IT STAINED BY A SOLDIER’S BLOOD AND HIS TEARS?

THIS WORLD WAR RELIC FROM A BEACH IN NORMANDY
CAME FROM THE SEA INVASION THAT CHANGED HISTORY
WHO CARRIED THIS RIFLE AND FROM WHAT DISTANT LAND?
DID HE GRIP THIS RIFLE TIGHTLY AS HE CHARGED ONTO THE SAND?
  
CHORUS:

IF THIS RIFLE COULD TALK WHAT TALES IT WOULD TELL
OF MEN LIVING AND DYING IN A MAN MADE HELL
THEY CAME TO FREE LIBERTY FROM THE IRON GRIP OF TYRANNY
BUT WHAT A PRICE THOSE MEN PAID TO KEEP US FREE

DID HE CLIMB UP THE CLIFFS WHERE THE GERMAN BUNKERS REMAIN
OR DID HE SPILL HIS GUTS ON THE BEACH IN A HELLISH WORLD OF PAIN?
HAD THIS MAN FOUGHT THROUGH THE WAR LIKE MY UNCLE HAD DONE
RETURNING HOME WITH A FULL HEART KNOWING FREEDOM HAD WON?

REPEAT CHORUS 

AS I GRIPPED THIS OLD RIFLE I PRAYED FOR THIS RIFLEMAN
MY HEART ACHED FINDING HIS RIFLE IN THE SAND
FOR IF HE HAD LIVED, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN IN HIS HAND
NOT PARTLY BURIED IN NORMANDY’S BEACH SAND.

REPEAT CHORUS 

Joe Pickering Songwriter                                                        C 2006            
King of the Road Music    BMI Music Publisher
13 Pond St.
Bangor, Maine 04401







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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Drones on Terror - 21st Century Warfare


President Obama gave a speech today explaining why Drone attacks are important to protect US national security.

I agree with everything President Obama said in defense of targeted Drone attacks, presented in today's speech.  American Drones are strategically attacking our terrorist enemies, those who are involved in Al Qaeda and spin off networks. We must protect our nation against these groups, attack them in their hiding places, because, given any opportunity, these radical networks will kill us.  

The Caucus blog asks:
Now that President Obama's speech is over, one of the outstanding questions is just how transparent the Obama administration will be about drone strikes in the future. Will administration officials begin to publicly confirm strikes after they happen? 

Of course. Americans must know about the frequencies and reasons for specific Drone attacks.  Transparency is essential to protect against abuse of this clandestine war technology.  Stealth Drone attacks are highly technical, but they don't happen without human control.  Americans need to know why Drone attacks are necessary so the human command and control over the "joysticks" don't somehow become overly powerful, leading to unnecessary use.

There was no mention of in the President's speech (and it's telling)  about the C.I.A., at all.  Therefore, this seemingly deliberate omission indicates that Drone operations in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere won't be declassified anytime soon.

Nevertheless, C.I.A. notwithstanding, the Drones are essential if America and our allies ever hope to win the international war against terrorist groups.  We can't let our guard down, because terrorists count on war fatigue to gain advantage over us.  They patiently wait their turn to kill, attacking when and where we least expect to find them.  Incredulous as it sounds, we must kill them first.  Of course, the flip side of using strategic Drone strikes can lead to the rise of zealots who, like the angry Boston terrorist Tsarnaev brothers', want to attack where they believe the U.S. will be weakened, like in New York City and Boston.  

Although the war on terror seems driven by religious fervor among some radical Muslim fringe groups, we must never allow bigotry to stereotype this enemy.  Americans must remember the name of the executed Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVey, who was a Christian. 

International terrorism won't be won with "boots on the ground". 20th century war strategies are already antiquated, like equipping infantry soldiers with horses.  War will never, in our lifetimes, be managed using rules of engagement. Terrorists are experts in gorilla tactics.  Consequently, Drones are essential to strategically target the "cells" that control terrorism and its deadly activities.

Unfortunately, the war on terror is a new international state of being.  I can't see a time when we'll be assured of peace.  If I'm (sadly) correct, this means Drones are essential to protect American lives, whether they're military fighters or civilians living at home. 

If it's even possible to win the fight against terrorism, the means to that end requires battles waged under the cover of darkness, with strategic Drone strikes, using night goggles worn by expert military snipers and supported by clandestine stealth technologies.  

Drones on terror are the only ways our military can protect people from terrorist networks, those that are bent on killing Americans. Drones save the lives of our military and civilians, while strategically protecting our national security.

Let's use Drones to our military strategic advantage; but always with the advantage of transparency about when and why they're deployed to attack and destroy our overt terrorist enemies.  

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

President Obama Leads a Political Trilogy with Oklahoma Executives Governor Mary Fallin and Lt. Governor Todd Lamb

President Obama will visit the tornado devastation inflicted on Moore Oklahoma on the Sunday prior to Memorial Day.

Thankfully, President Obama will combine common sense compassion with executive outreach by personally meeting the Oklahoma people, post the horrific May 21 tornado that descended on Moore with  the highest F5 damage velocity.  

When President Obama meets with the Oklahoma victims, I hope he'll also meet and demonstrate support for the state's articulate Republican Governor Mary Fallin and the Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb.  These two state executives are diligent about providing timely media communications for the purpose of keeping the world informed about the tornado's damage and recovery efforts. 

White House spokesman Jay Carney says President Obama will view the tornado damage first-hand. He also plans to meet with victims and rescue workers. The monstrous tornado barreled through the Oklahoma City suburb on Monday afternoon, demolishing an elementary school and reducing homes to piles of rubble

State authorities say two infants and eight children were among the 24 people who perished in the twister. The town of Moore is a community of 41,000 people located about 10 miles south of Oklahoma City. Residents of Moore continue returning to what's left of the rubble that was once their homes, to access the damage and retrieve what property they could.

It might seem like magical thinking, but a powerful political healing trilogy could be led by President Obama with Governor Fallin and Lt. Governor Lamb. Their joint extension of compassion to tornado victims could also have the impact of breaching the seemingly growing partisan divide of Americans who polarize nearly everything imaginable, including whether or not President Obama is an American citizen.

An executive healing leadership trilogy could even invite Oklahoma's Senator Coburn and Senator Inofe to join their meeting.  Both Oklahoma senators have been critical of federal disaster relief funding spent in other tragic events.  

Regardless of their past obstructionism, the two senators, with the executive trilogy, might come to understand how the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) money is essential to the people's recovery.  Oklahoma certainly can't afford the estimated 2 billion dollars needed to help the  state's devastated people to recover. Government support through FEMA is essential to help Oklahomans.

Although sad, the loss of life in the Oklahoma tornado is mercifully less than one would expect in an F5 event. Nevertheless, the Moore devastation is a leveled landscape of tumbled matchsticks.  

Little is physically left of Moore Oklahoma. But, the uplifting faith of the people and their relentless will to recover is like kinetic restoration energy.  

Americans must help our faithful fellow citizens to achieve their recovery goals. Let's applaud an executive trilogy led by President Obama with Governor Fallin and Lt. Governor Lamb. We must support their compassionate leadership. By affirming our dedication to provide disaster relief to the tornado victims during their people's grief, we might also help Americans bridge our partisan divides in other political recovery efforts.  Let's begin that particular journey by working to protect Americans from death and destruction during future tornadoes. By rebuilding the Moore community with government unity, we might, hopefully, also find a way to  repair our partisan divides.    

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Senator Coburn Creates Angst Over Oklahoma Assistance

What is Oklahoma Senator Coburn thinking? (He's obviously NOT.)


"Oklahoma Senator Demands Spending Cuts In Exchange For Disaster Relief,"- oh really? 

Why doesn't Senator Coburn  begin by cutting his generous government paid salary and benefits?

Dealing with the catastrophe aftermath of an F5 tornado should bring Senator Coburn in front of television cameras to praise the rescue efforts.  Thankfully, Oklahoma's well spoken Governor Mary Fallin is saying and doing all the right things to support Oklahoma and the victims of the tornado, while Senator Coburn creates angst. Shame on him!

On the other hand, while Coburn bristles politics, during his constituents' grief, President Obama has responded generously and appropriately. President Obama said:

"In the aftermath of the massive tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, President Barack Obama promised that, 'As a nation, our full focus is on the urgent work of rescue and the hard work of recovery and rebuilding that lies ahead,' and told the victims, 'You face a long road ahead, but you will not travel it alone. Your country will travel it with you'.”


Apparently, that sentiment wasn't shared by Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn (R). Just hours after the storm hit, Senator Coburn (R) told CQ Roll Call that he would not support providing disaster aid to his own constituents, unless it's offset by other federal spending cuts.

Although the tornado damage in Moore, near Oklahoma City, is still being assessed and the death toll is expected to rise, Coburn (R-OK) jumped to the conclusion that federal disaster aid to his suffering state must be paid for with cuts elsewhere.  This circular reasoning is incredulous. He shows complete insensitivity for the suffering of his Oklahoma constituents.
Coburn insists, according to National Memo, that he will fight to make sure disaster funding from the federal government is paid for. It’s a position he has taken repeatedly during his career when Congress debated emergency funding for disaster aid.

On Tuesday, after Coburn’s stance attracted widespread criticism, the senator’s office released a statement slamming those who say he's more concerned with ideology than with the economic reality or the well-being of his constituents.

Rather than his first statement to the press be an apology for his statement, or, (God Forbid) sympathy for his constituents, Senator Coburn, instead, defended his stupidity:

“It is crass for critics to play disaster aid politics when first rescuers are pulling victims from the rubble,” the statement reads, ignoring the fact that Coburn himself barely waited before announcing his preemptive opposition to the still-undefined aid package.

Oklahoma's senior Senator Inofe pushed back on Coburn's negativity.  Senator, Jim Inhofe (R), declined to endorse Coburn’s position during a Tuesday morning appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. Inhofe, who had called the Hurricane Sandy relief bill a “slush fund” before voting against it, insisted that the situation in Oklahoma is “totally different.” (Oh paleeeze! Really....????)

Well, both of Oklahoma's senators need to learn communications. They must take lessons from their state's governor Fallin, who clearly knows how to support her devastated citizens.

Perhaps, hopefully, one progressive outcome of the terrible Oklahoma tornado might be that voters will finally remove their two entrenched and highly paid senators. They need to be put out of office. (Especially, considering how Senator Coburn lied about recently debunked Benghazi emails, creating myths about another tragedy. Certainly, his deceitful behavior is grounds for censure.)

Meanwhile, Americans are emotionally united in support of the Moore, Oklahoma victims and all who were in harms way on Monday, May 20th, when the F5 destroyed their lives, forever.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Americans Must Reach Out to Help Tornado Victims in Moore, Oklahoma

United in outreach to meet Oklahoma's needs!http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/05/oklahoma-tornado-how-to-help/

Moore, Oklahoma F4 tornado with 200 mile an hour wind inflicts horror and devastation:  A devastating, mile-wide tornado touched down near Oklahoma City on Monday, killing at least 37 people and decimating homes, businesses and a pair of elementary schools in the suburb of Moore, OK.  According to the state's medical examiner, the death toll was expected to rise.  (Seven of the deaths so far reported are children.)


At times, when this tornado was on the ground, the reports are that it was as much as 2 miles wide, reports Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.  It's a national and an international headline story, because of the devastating randomness of this kind of horrible weather tragedy.

Fortunately, Americans put political differences aside during disasters, but it's truly unfortunate that it takes horrendous incidents to unite us, in times like these.  Obviously, we must stand in support of the victims of the Moore, Oklahoma F4 tornado. Thousands of families are dealing with the grief, and loss of their property, as well as, in many instances, injuries, and death of friends, family members and animals. Victims need help, and we should rally to meet their needs while they work on search, rescue and recovery.

There's no way to prevent tornadoes.  But, we can prevent as much loss of life as possible by creating advance weather bulletins, giving people time to find shelter.  This kind of advanced weather reporting requires investment in advanced scientific meteorology.  There comes a point when government must invest in protection of citizens by creating sophisticated advanced weather reporting systems.  Moreover, people living in tornado zones must comply with safety measures to protect themselves and others, when danger warnings are issued.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of all traumatic weather incidents causing injury, and loss of life, Americans must come together in grief and reach out to support the victims.

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Twitter Voyeurs and Myth Creators Give Right Wing Lift Power

Twitterzens Alert! 

Anyone who enters into the Twittersphere social networking quickly learns to shed thin skin. Indeed, the Twitterzen barrage of name calling, labeling and fear mongering I've experienced, as a result of putting facts in the face of myth creators, makes me wonder if these voyeurs are Hades underworld demons, let loose from Dante's inferno. 

An energized group of evil Twitterzens have escaped Hades. Like cockroaches, they've found fresh nests to inhabit on Twitter.

Every day brings a renewed infestation of these social demons. Under the guise of electronic anonymity, they craftily use the 140 character message limit to spread lies too fast to create an informed response. Even worse, they gleefully demonize those who rebut their venom with truth.

Recent, media hyped scandals, coming out of Washington DC, have an incendiary impact on these Hades escapees. Their cauldron bubbles with opportunities for them to spew too many lies for any mentally healthy persons to respond to. I've tried to exterminate the myths they declare, as evidence of their world gone wrong. Not one shred of "evidence" these myth creators spew would be admissible in any court. Even a Kangaroo Court would reject them. Nevertheless, these relentless predators of free speech create lies, because they can, and execute an electronic extermination on anybody who exercises our Constitutional rights to push back on their lies.
So, here are the current hot lies those Hades escapees are perpetrating as I write this blog:

Hot Lie #1: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is controlling Obamacare (lie). This leap of reasoning is preposterous, but without push back, the myth morphs and becomes too big to fix.
Let's try to simplify this ridiculously large leap from IRS to DHHS. First of all, Obamacare, aka "Health Care Reform", set to be implemented in 2014, is the responsibility of an executive cabinet official, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebilius. The IRS is not responsible for the control of Health Care Reform. Rather, the IRS is involved because a number of corporations formed, as a result of the law. Many new corporations are requesting tax exempt, or 501(C), status, which is a request the IRS must review and, either, accept or reject. Republicans are furious about the connection between the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services oversight of the Health Care Reform, because, government money is attached to the contracts being awarded under "Obamacare". Republicans want their rich friends to reap the benefit of these contracts and they don't want IRS interference with the flow of these contracts. Therefore, Republicans are feeding the hungry media with myths about how the Internal Revenue Service is controlling Obamacare. I'm frustrated because there's nobody pushing back on this myth. My futile Twitter education efforts are treated like fresh meat, cast in front of a pack of rats. I'm the victim of truth.
Hot Lie #2: Talking points on the Benghazi consulate attack of September 11, 2012, and the complicated ripple of lies resulting from the incident. Republicans claim the talking points, developed between the White House, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the State Department, were changed to describe the attack on the Benghazi consulate as something less than a terror attack. This point of view ignores the facts that four people were killed during this violent incident. There's no way the Obama administration can change this deadly fact. Among the four people who died was Ambassador Stevens, who died, despite rescue efforts, as a result of a fire that erupted during an attack on the consulate. Republicans don't really want any facts about Benghazi, unless their myths about their opinions are substantiated. A big fact we should know regarding the fatal attack is for somebody, with authority, to reveal the reason why Ambassador Stevens left the security of the embassy in Tripoli to travel to Benghazi, on September 11, 2012. Why don't we know this? Nevertheless, the absolute fact is that all officials, managers and bureaucratic people (anybody who writes statements for the press) engage in making changes to talking points. The issue is the intention of the changes. Did the Obama administration deliberately change the taking points to favor the 2012 election? Or, were changes recommended (or required) because communications officials wanted to keep information about the incident from falling into the hands of those who perpetrated the attack? Instead of finding truthful information about what happened in Benghazi, the Republican myth makers are feeding the media, including Morning Joe on MSNBC, with a misinformation campaign, led Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Coburn deliberately claimed that Benghazi email messages were either missing or lies. Later, it was revealed that Republicans perpetrated the lies about Benghazi, but there's been no apology by Senator Coburn, or by Joe Scarborough, who let this lie go by on Morning Joe, without challenging the misleading statement.

Although lies, spun from scandals of the week, usually die a humiliating death, this demise hardly ever occurs with the fanfare of the original incident that started the spiraling misinformation.

Meanwhile, until political lies are debunked, they provide air lift to Right Wing extremist groups that thrive on spinning misinformation.

Obviously, the best way to prevent the twitter voyeurs, myth creators and air lift to Right Wing extremists is to completely eliminate political scandals. Hmmmm. Oh well! I'll just keep pushing back on those Twitter demons. At least, these Hades escapees are teaching me to grow very thickly resilient political skin, in defense of the boiling social media oil they're pouring in my direction.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Media Creating News - Diseminating Lies Before Finding Truth

News about a controversial Benghazi email was given main stream media credibility when CBS reported the false communication as being fact.  

In fact, the email at the core of the (false) Republican case said that the White House fixed the Benghazi talking points, in the immediate aftermath of the attack on our US consulate, in order to edit out any reference to terroris'.  It was supposedly done to minimize public concern about the attack in the weeks before the 2012 election. But the email that Republicans spread lies about is a fake.  The actual White House email, far from proving an attempt by the White House to spin Benghazi for political purposes, shows a concerted effort between the White House, with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the State Department jointly concerned about getting the facts right. 

But CBS spun it differently.

Mark Twain aptly described the consequences of this CBS leap into yellow journalism when he described how a lie travels halfway around the world before truth puts its shoes on.

There's some media duplicity in this situation, as well.  Although American journalists are justifiably screaming in outrage about the Justice Department subpoena of Associated Press phone   records related to national security leaks, they're somewhat moot about the CBS email lie.

Contributing to this spiraling email lie was Joe Scarborough, on his "Morning Joe" program when Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn went unchallenged when he raised the spectre of a clandestine Benghazi email.  Frankly, Scarborough allowed Coburn to engage in tangential thinking about the now discredited email would eventually be revealed.  Scarborough didn't challenging Coburn to validate his claims.  It turns out, Scarborough was remiss in his responsibility to challenge Coburn. As for Senator Coburn, his lie should lead to a censure from the US Senate.  

Outrage about recently reported White House scandals involving the Benghazi emails, the subpoena of Associated Press phone records and the Internal Revenue Service targeting certain non-profits, should also include a scolding of CBS for spreading a lie.

What goes around comes around, is an age old truism.

As the media leaps to a hot lead for the purpose of gaining competitive advantage, as the first to report, they must also accept responsibility for contributing to Republican muckraking of current    scandals. 

CBS owes the American people an apology.  Likewise,  a "muzzle whistle" should be included in the Morning Joe program, so Scarborough can block Senator Coburn the next time (and there will be one) he goes into tangential lying mode.  

There's an abundance of media time to fill up these days, but none of it should accommodate lies.  

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Where's the Help? Americans Must Ask how Republican Scandal Obsessions Supports Middle Class and Poor


Americans are deluged by 24/7 news coverage whereby political scandals du jour captures headlines, while detracting from the debate needed to protect the economic needs of majority of middle Class and poor Americans.  

In other words, Congressional Republicans are deliberately ignoring the stupid sequestration, a series of fiscal cuts whereby working class people are subjected to the impact of cuts in government contracts. These cuts are forcing federal employee furloughs and reductions in funding programs for underprivileged children, like Head Start. Republicans can't even respond to the desire of 85 percent of Americans who want the Congress to do more to protect us against gun violence.

Instead, Republicans, who preach fiscal austerity, apparently have no problem wasting taxpayer money by building myths around real or perceived scandals. They demand ridiculous emails and documents to create doubt about administrative responses to the tragic outcomes in Benghazi. Their rhetorical questions that won't bring back four Americans killed in an attack on the US Consulate and where Ambassador Stevens died as a result of the violence.  

Included in wasteful Republican Congressional time are futile and repeated efforts to repeal health care reform, aka Obamacare.

For some unknown reason, Republican refuse to accept the results of the 2012 election and the victory of President Barack Obama.  Although Republicans are certainly capable of counting the number of voters who opposed their candidate - Romney, (many Democrats waited hours to cast their ballot for President Obama), they have, nevertheless, decided to follow a strategy to obstruct all of President Obama's progressive agenda.

Obstructionism and muckraking scandals does nothing to help ordinary Americans.  Of course, why would Republicans want to help ordinary Americans, who voted against them in 2012, in support of re-electing President Obama?   

In fact, all elected leaders take an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution, which means abiding by the will of the people.  Our US Constitution begins in the preamble with the phrase, "We the people....." .  This Democratic document does not begin with "We the Congress.....".  

Although the Congress recently began a practice of reading the US Constitution, a ritual at the opening of new sessions, the readers don't seem to understand the importance of the first sentence.

Average Americans need help protecting good paying jobs from being outsourced to cheaper labor markets.  Americans need help to protect our retirement income and Social Security safety net.  Americans need access to affordable, and quality health care to protect our well being against chronic diseases and debilitating infections.  Americans need safe infrastructure in our communities including good roads, reliable public transportation and a national policy to provide everyone with access to wireless technology.

Incredulously, Republicans simply can't find a way to rise above the 2012 election results  Instead of showing Americans how their leadership can improve our lives, they choose, instead, to create chaos. They're like the Cervantes character, Don Quixote, in Man of La Mancha, the man who fights windmills, thinking they're dragons.  Yet, instead of windmills, the Republicans are creating political dragons, by inventing myths and conspiracy theories, about real and imagined scandals. Moreover, Republicans soak up tax paid salaries, while doing nothing to lift the stifling, stupid and needless budget sequestration

Since Republicans don't get what happened in the 2012 election, it's time they receive an even more emphatic message in the 2016 elections. Americans must politically punish Republicans who won't (a) compromise on issues we care about, like improving gun safety, (b) don't seem interested in supporting the will of the people who elected President Obama, and (c) continue to be engaged in obstructionism by not lifting the sequestration (and blocking progressive programs that require raising taxes on the rich and super rich). 

It's time Americans demand accountability from Republicans. They must explain how they intend to help Americans, rather than create fear, obstruct progress and protect the rich from paying their fair share of taxes. Obviously, Republicans can't explain anything unless the facts are shrouded in lies and myths. 

Entrenched Republican politicians must go the way of Don Quixote, who died in a feverish sate of delusion.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Old Fashioned Political Scandals - Republicans Can't Get Votes but Smell the Power in Scandals

Republicans are dangerously close to becoming extinct, because their voting base is eroding, while the party alienates minority groups. Like cornered wild animals, the GOP can only use one offensive strategy - called the political scandal. 

Scandal muckraking is a old fashioned strategy that can demoralize voters.

A series of over reaching responses to Obama administration missteps gives the Republicans fodder to raise voter ire.  GOP rage over the Benghazi 9/11 tragedy, bolstered by an IRS response to 501(c) 4 non profit applications, submitted by conservative political groups, and fueled by a Justice Department admission to the subpoena of Associated Press reporters phone records, all contribute to the GOP strategy to demoralize voters, in advance of the 2016 elections.

Political scandals go deeper than the misuse of power. They accumulate and cause volcanic eruptions among voters. Now, the GOP, even in their last gasps of relevance, are given a gift in the Obama administration's mistakes.

CNN reports:  "News headlines of the past week portray an administration engulfed in potential scandal, providing opponents of President Barack Obama with plenty of ammunition to try to derail his agenda in the early months of his second term."

Meanwhile, in another, more politically significant story, a Hispanic Republican liaison in Florida has decided to abandon the GOP and became a Democrat. 

This Florida story should be news media leads. Instead, it's obviously become shrouded by the hype over a series of administration scandals.

Washington Post Politics reports: "The Republican National Committee’s former Hispanic outreach director in Florida has become a Democrat, citing the Republican party’s 'intolerance' and a general frustration with the party’s attitude toward immigration."

Therefore, while Democrats are growing in numbers, the Republicans have found the political fuel, fed by scandals, to demoralize energized voters.  When discouraged voters refrain from voting, the Republicans can win elections with zealous turnout and they who won't be outnumbered.

Obviously, the cluster of Obama administration scandals will build a relentless Republican response into the 2016 election. 

Political strategists know from past scandals how important it is for administrations to reveal ALL information about scandals, every shred of it, rather than allow these kind of stories to drip-drip-drip like an annoying metronome.

So, the only way to stop the Republican outrage is to be sure these cornered politicians have no new information to exploit.  Meanwhile, our news media has been desperate to fill the post election void, so any scandal fills their hungry air time and newsprint.  The news must be filled by facts to discredit scandals.

It's essential for the Obama administration to get ahead of these scandals and focus, instead, on how to win the 2016 elections!  Let's remove obstructionist Republicans from office, while eliminating the scandals that give fuel to their dwindling voter base.  Otherwise, old fashioned political scandals could define the 2016 elections.









































































































































































































































































































































 



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Monday, May 13, 2013

Gun Violence on Mother's Day and Little League Games

Another public shooting, this time in New Orleans, brought tragedy to a Mother's Day Parade.  This domestic terror incident is another in a growing litany of tragic incidents that are ruining people's lives and the fun of attending public celebrations

"I can assure whoever did this, we know a lot more about you than you think we do...and my recommendation to you is to collect yourself and turn yourself in," said New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

Police are closing in on the perpetratorr of yet another domestic terror but the New Orleans incident wasn't the only frightening Mother's Day incident.  

My friend Mary Anne, in Maryland, wrote about another ruined Mother's Day outing in Pennsylvania. A Buck's County Little League Game was cancelled due to the threat of gun violence brought on by pro gun demonstrators on Mother's Day.

Mary Anne wrote to me about the Pennsylvania Little League  incident, because it ruined hers and her grandson's mother's day.  She wrote, "(My husband) Barry and I were looking forward to watching (our grandson) play softball. He had a 1:30 (little league) game. He has been a terrific player, winning the game ball constantly for outstanding plays. We couldn't wait to watch him play. Instead, an anti gun rally was planned in Philadelphia. It angered the NRA (National Rifle Association) so they planned to show up to protest with guns in hand. Can you believe this? Dozens of (little league) games had to be cancelled in case there were flying bullets! It affected 500 kids. I agree, that for safety reasons, they had to cancel the games but my poor grandson was so upset, because he wanted us to see him play. We were so disappointed because we couldn't watch him play. Then, I watch the news and find out that 19 people including 2 ten year olds were injured when guns were fired into the crowds during a Mothers Day parade in New Orleans. When will this stop? The NRA needs to be buried!"

This Pennsylvania incident was reported in Philly.com, by Chris Palmer:

"Hundreds of Bucks County Little League players have unwittingly been caught in the midst of the national gun-rights debate. With competing gun-related rallies scheduled Saturday at Williamson Park in Morrisville, used by the town's Little League, league officials, at the urging of state police, are moving, rescheduling, or canceling more than 20 games to avoid any potential conflict that might erupt over the emotional issue. The matter is of particular urgency, since supporters of gun rights say they plan to legally carry guns as part of their rally."

There's no excuse whatsoever for these horrible gun violence and public threatening incidents.  

One incidents seems to feed into another until the American public become inoculated to the horrors.  What will it take for Americans to rise up against the National Rifle Association?  We've witnessed the murder of US president John F. Kennedy, attempted assassinations of public leaders, the shooting of Malcolm X, the killing of Reverend Martin Luther King, the mortal attack of Robert Kennedy, the near death of Congresswoman Giffords and the killing of her constituents.  We've witnessed the murder of students, children and teachers.  These incidents are now inciting more gun violence, too many to list.  

All of these murderous incidents were preventable. Guns caused these horrible tragedies. In the absence of guns, these incidents could not have occurred.  

Now, post New Orleans, we can expect the National Rifle Association to point fingers and demand that people who attend public celebrations carry guns, so we can kill those who want to kill us.

When will Americans rise up against the National Rifle Association?   
Too many innocent people are dying by gun violence, the numbers of terrorism incidents are rising, assassinations and random shootings don't even make the headlines anymore.  

Law abiding citizens cannot continue ignoring this growing culture of violence because of protecting "Second Amendment Rights".

Little league games must not be cancelled because of gun zealots who want Americans to lock step protect their Second Amendment Rights. 

Mother's Day must be a day of peace.  

Americans deserve public health and safety protection against preventable gun violence. The time is long overdue for the National Rifle Association to stop filling Americans with fear. Instead, the NRA should join the call for expanding background checks for gun sales, to protect Americans from the growing horror of preventable gun violence.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Republican Issa and his Circular Reasoning - a Meet the Press Sideshow Act

"...the reasoner begins with what he or she is trying to end up with."

This Sunday's Meet the Press with David Gregory started with a confusing interview about Benghazi, with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, of California.  Although Gregory tried, unsuccessfully, to focus the circular responses Issa gave about how Congress is relentlessly investigating the September 11, 2012, Benghazi incident, the answers were confusing and even contradictory.

Issa reminded me of the cliche Texas governor from the film musical "Best Little Whore House in Texas", played convincingly by Charles Durning who sang about "The Sidestep", in his Best Supporting Actor nomination performance.  Durning gave a comical tongue in cheek performance when he sang the lyrics:

"Fellow Texans, I am proudly standing here to humbly see. 
I assure you, and I mean it- Now, who says I don't speak out as plain as day? And, fellow Texans, I'm for progress and the flag-
long may it fly. I'm a poor boy, come to greatness. So, it follows that I cannot tell a lie. Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don't- ...."

On Meet the Press, this is how Issa explained his take on the politicization of the Benghazi tragedy  (transcript from Meet the Press):

Issa:  "...a full understanding of why urgent request repeatedly for more security before the attacks were denied? We’ve had statements that it wasn’t about money. But, at the same time, people are asking for more security, they got less. The British ambassador has two assassination attempts, and yet we keep a facility that was not able to withstand even a few minutes of attack. Then, those seven hours while the attack was going on. Was the response correct? Could it have been better? Why wasn’t-- why weren’t things at least tried or revved up to be tried? Those are important questions. And then afterwards, how could you change talking point 12 times from what seems to be relatively right to what seems to be completely wrong?"

What would the late Charles Durning say to the above?
"Ooh... I've come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step, cut a little swathe and lead the people on."

Let's try to straighten out Issa's circular reasoning.  Although Issa tries to create the conclusion that the attack on the consulate or outpost in Benghazi is shrouded in a cover up, the straight truth is that Republicans, like Issa, with his myth creating colleagues, are muckraking a tragic situation for political purposes. 

This over reach  on Behghazi is most likely because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may run for president and the right wing are terrified of another Democrat in the White House.

First of all - the consulate is not the embassy.  The "under protection" of the consulate must be distinguished from security at the embassy. Ambassador Stevens left the embassy for a yet to be explained reason, where he was tragically killed.  

Congressman Issa should ask why Ambassador Stevens was at the consulate when security there was known to be less than optimal?  Although the reason Ambassador Stevens left the Libyan embassy in Tripoli is irrelevant (as Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said, "what difference does it make?"),  if Congressmen Issa is wasting tax payer money by muckraking Benghazi, then Americans should have all the facts about the incident. This should include revealing why Ambassador Stevens left the security of the embassy, in the first place.

Rather than explain why Ambassador Stevens unfortunately left the embassy on September 11, 2012, Issa speaks, instead, about two assassination attempts on the British ambassador. 

"...(The Sidestep)...Now my good friends, it behooves me to be solemn and declare..."  Congressman Issa raises a red herring when he mixes facts about the British Ambassador with Benghazi.  Americans know very little about any horrible attempt to assassinate the British Ambassador and we probably don't need to know about the numbers of death threats to all American and British diplomats.

Additionally, Congressman Issa deliberately confused the issue by speaking about the inability of the consulate security to withstand even "a few minutes" of attack, when he acknowledges the Benghazi incident raged for seven hours.  I suspect this egregious statement by Issa would've made glaring headlines, if Issa were a Congressional leader, like Speaker Boehner.  But, he's a two year Congressman who his colleagues put up to confuse Americans

Dear Congressman Issa, don't get smug about the tragic Benghazi attack. By any measure, the Benghazi attack was a horribly protracted incident. I suspect the initial minutes were simply not taken seriously enough.  In fact, demonstrations were occurring in several locations on that day and the people at the consulate probably had every reason to believe the conflagration at the consulate was an extension of other unrest.  Sadly, the four victims were likely caught by surprise.

As for the changes in administration's talking points, post incident, this decoy statement is completely deceiving.  Every Congressman, including Issa and all his colleagues, routinely change talking points on press releases, speeches or public statements.  Repeating, "What difference does it make...?", as Secretary of State Clinton said.  The facts are indisputable   An American Ambassador was killed in Benghazi.  These facts were not altered.  

Finally, in the Gregory interview, Issa asks an important and unresolved question about the Benghazi incident.  Could security have been better?  You bet it could.  

Therefore, in the circular reasoning Congressman Issa created, he finally raised a conclusion with which all Americans will agree.

Congress should focus on the root cause of the Benghazi incident and, additionally, how to prevent another tragedy.  

Muckraking Benghazi does not honor the four Benghazi victims. Moreover, Ambassador Stevens is, sadly, no longer here to defend his decision to visit the consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.  

Congressman Issa and his conservative colleagues should use their tax payer funded salaries to improve the American human condition. Instead, they appear to prefer wasting resources by creating confusion and engaging in circular reasoning.

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