Saturday, June 21, 2014

Does Nathan Deal do ANYTHING unless it has a political value to him?

Let's say you are Nathan Deal's campaign manager, and his opponent in the election is Jimmy Carter's grandson.    Wouldn't it be a great idea to exploit the past criticism and strained relationship between grandfather Carter and those in the Jewish community who resent Carter's support for the Palestinians, which many interpret as his being anti-Zionist, if not outright anti-Israel?

In my opinion, President Carter is not anti-Jewish;  but he does see the plight of the people of Palestine as a problem of human rights and fairness, and he has not shied away from offending some Israelis who believe anything they do is justified, because they would not do anything unless it was justified.

So, if you're Deal's campaign manager, one way to do exploit this tension would be to arrange a trip to Israel -- let's call it a trade expedition to drum up trade between Israel and Georgia.   Then you could have Deal visit all the important holy sites, have talks with important Israeli leaders, even visit with important American Jewish leaders who will be visiting Israel at the same time.    Great opportunity !!!

And wouldn't it be great too if you could get former Emory history professor Ken Stein to go along?    Stein, a staunch Zionist defender, famously broke with Carter some years back for just the reasons mentioned above.

Well, the news this week is all about Gov. Deal's leading a trade mission to Israel -- and Ken Stein is going along, and everything mentioned above is scheduled to happen, including the visiting Americans.

Wooo -heeee.    How do you spell Politics?   Exploit the anti-Carter tensions among Jewish voters and make yourself look like the greatest friend Israel ever had.

I am so cynical about this man Nathan Deal.   In my view, he probably couldn't do anything right at this point.   But this just seems so blatantly exploitive -- and it seems worse because it is fanning the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for crass political gain.   

Deal did something ever worse in the 2010 governor's race.   He trashed opponent Karen Handell for having made a contribution to the Youth Pride Center that supports GLBT teens, making derogatory remarks about what goes on at Youth Pride.    By doing that, he created even more risk for these teens and their excellent community center by fanning the flames of homophobia.

This man is despicable, in my opinion.    Not to mention his ethical problems and his attempts to quash any investigation of those problems.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Harry Reid takes down the Cheneys

Former VEEP Dick Cheney and his political-flop daughter Liz Cheney had a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece on Wednesday, in which they declare:
"Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."
We know from the context that they are referring to President Obama.   But read that sentence, without context.   It fits perfectly with George W. Bush and his using false claims to start the Iraq war.   And we know that Dick Cheney was the major influence on Bush at that time.

Harry Reid spoke out against Cheney from the Senate floor:
"If there's one thing this country does not need, is that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars. . . .  Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history. To the architects of the Iraq War who are now so eager to offer their expert analysis, I say . . .  thanks, but no thanks. Unfortunately, we have already tried it your way and it was the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of the country."
Reid also challenged Republicans not to listen to those (Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, and others) who pushed for us to invade Iraq in 2003 and who are once again being interviewed on Fox News as "experts."   Reid said of them:
"After all these years, their suggestions haven't changed.  They are in a time warp. Those who are the so-called experts are so eager to commit American soldiers to another war. Why is their advice so valuable?"
The big difference now is that opponents of those views are speaking up.  The other major difference is that we have a president and his team who are not wanting to go to war.


PS:   I just signed a CREDO sponsored petition to Dick Cheney that says:
"Blaming President Obama for the current religious strife and exploding humanitarian crisis you and George W. Bush created in Iraq is utterly reprehensible. Stop your self-serving attacks on President Obama in your disgraceful pursuit of endless war at any cost."

Anyone who wants to join this petition can go to: 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hillary' impressive Fox News interview on Benghazi

Hillary Clinton gave a 30 minute interview on Fox News with co-hosts Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren.   Much of the time was spent on questions about Benghazi.   She answered them all.

To quote the liberal media:   "They didn't lay a glove on her." 

I watched an extensive clip from the interview, and I have to agree.   Hillary nailed that interview.   She was concise, detailed, and confident in her answers.   She showed that she had been intimately involved in monitoring the situation and that she took appropriate action, given what we knew at the time.

She also pretty well dismantled -- at least for fair-minded listeners -- any charges of trying to manipulate or cover-up how Susan Rice's talking points were sourced.

Further, Hillary kept her cool and seemed entirely on top of the situation.   She looked fully capable of being commander in chief.   It's going to be hard for the right wing conspiracy theorists to twist anything she said into derogatory accusations.

Ironically, she appeared much more open and confident than she had with liberal NPR host Terry Gross in talking about the evolution of her ideas on gay marriage.    At least in the segments of both shows that I saw, Bret Baier was a much less challenging interviewer.  Terry got into a power struggle with Hillary by trying to force her to say that her views of gay marriage had "changed."   She wouldn't accept Hillary's preferred characterization as her views having "evolved."

There was nothing in Bret's interveiw segments on Benghazi (at least the portion I saw) in which he did the kind of relentless followup questions trying to force her to admit to a certain word.   Instead, he let her explain in her own words.

All in all, the Fox interview was a terrific performance for Hillary.  It should go a long was into dispelling questions about her competence, her command of the facts, and her temperament.  She is fully capable and ready to be president.


PS:   Hillary has widely been criticized -- both from the left and the right -- for getting "testy" in her exchange with Terry Gross.   First, I think that's unfair in that Terry was the one picking a fight and trying to force her choice of words.   It's quite sufficient to say your view have "evolved," without using "changed," which would have been spun by the opposition into "flip flop" and thrown back at her.

But, second:  If Hillary was "testy," then what do you call the insulting personal attacks (calling people "stupid" to their faces) that Chris Christie routinely engages in with the press?  Is this a sexist difference?   When Hillary stands her ground, she is "testy."   When Christie openly demeans people he is being a "bully" -- but the tone is that that's just him and you have to expect and accept it as his way.  It doesn't damage him the way "testy" does for a woman politician.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An astonishing admission from a conservative icon

Former TV personality and current talk radio host, Glenn Beck, said it yesterday on air: "Liberals, you were right."
"From the beginning, most people on the left were against going into Iraq. I wasn’t.... Liberals, you were right. We shouldn’t have." 

"Not one more life. Not one more life. Not one more dollar, not one more airplane, not one more bullet, not one more Marine, not one more arm or leg or eye. Not one more.  This must end now.  Now can't we come together on that?"
This is a stunning reversal from a iconic figure from the far right.   The war hawks do not have the influence they once had.   People are in a more questioning mood, having seen the results of blind faith in those we now know were selling snake oil.


Gov. Deal's actions result in rural hospital closings

Governor Nathan Deal's actions result in rural hospital closings.   That is a serious charge . . . and unfortunately, it is true.   Here's what happened.

Gov. Deal refused to accept the virtually free Medicaid expansion part of the Affordable Care Act.   In the original Act as passed by congress, the expansion in all states was virtually assured because of the stiff penalties states would pay if they did not expand.   As I remember, it would result in the loss of some or all of the Medicaid funds they already receive from the federal government.

Since then, the governor has also encouraged the legislature to pass, and then he signed, a bill that takes the decision out of the hands of the governor and gives it to the legislature.   Thus he attempted to ensure that subsequent governors could not later do the expansion.   Also it allows him to pretend that he does not have the power to do it -- so how can you blame him?    Duh !!! 

This is a standard Deal-making deal.

But this stupid action has real-life consequences.    Not only does it deny some 600,000 Georgians the health insurance, it also means that Georgia hospitals do not get the federal funds they used to get to help pay for indigent care.    The ACA reduced those funds, because the expected Medicaid expansion would have more than made up for them in income for these hospitals.

This loss of funding has hit rural hospitals particularly hard.   Already four hospitals in Georgia have had to close;  others are faced with sharply curtailing services, such as going to only emergency room coverage.

Besides the individual lack of health coverage, losing these hospitals is a devastating consequence of Gov. Deal's political -- yes, POLITICAL -- decision to thwart President Obama at the expense of needy Georgians, as well as communities that depend on these local hospitals.   Even if you have money to pay, people in these rural communities now will have to travel 40 or 50 miles to the nearest hospital.

And this doesn't even begin to address the loss of all those federal funds coming into the state, the jobs they would create, and the fact that our federal tax dollars go to help pay for the Medicaid expansion in other states -- while we refuse to accept our share of that money.



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hey, you GOP guys: You'd better listen up to Sarah Palin on this one

 There has been an unprecedented number of unaccompanied children coming over our southern border with Mexico.  According to an article on Huffington Post, roughly 48,000 have arrived since last Oct. 1, a 92% increase since the same time last year.

In trying to deal with the sheer numbers, the Homeland Security Department has been sending these young undocumented immigrants to a large warehouse holding facility in Nogales, Arizona.  At the present time there are 700 being housed there, and the number is expected to double.   As you can imagine in such a situation, conditions are not good for these children, many of whom are trying to reunite with their parents;   others are escaping from crime and poverty across Central America.

Sarah Palin lashed out at her fellow Republicans for failure to do something about the humanitarian crisis.   Writing on her Facebook, she threatened to "renounce" her "Republican ties."
"Finally, they have won me over. I actually agree with the liberals’ war whoop. . . .  I, too, demand that this issue of young illegal aliens flooding across our border into horrendous conditions be taken care of. Now! . . .

"As a Christian I find it unforgivable to ignore this issue of overrunning border security into these conditions in southern states, and this one issue is just about driving me to renounce my Republican ties because, see, even leaders on the RIGHT side of the aisle haven’t exerted all Constitutional power to stop the madness."
Not surprising that the plight of children would prompt a strong response from Palin.   What is surprising is her attack on fellow Republicans.   At least in the excerpt quoted in this article, she did NOT aim her attack at Democrats or President Obama.     Which seems fair, since they have been trying to get congress to deal with immigration reform, and it is clearly the Republican Speaker John Boehner who will not allow it to come up in the House.


NOTE:   The "not" in the last paragraph was added later.   I did not at first notice the omission.   I hope the context led people to read it that way anyway.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lindsey Graham's relentless confrontational stance

For a brief moment, the headline about Lindsey Graham's commentary on CNN's "State of the Union" had me thinking he had flipped his usual foreign policy stance of all-confrontation, all the time.    The HuffPost headline read:  "Lindsey Graham Urges Discussions With Iran On Iraq."

He did say, "You just sit down and talk with them."   His interviewer, Dana Bash, was also taken aback and asked him to repeat it.  "I'm sorry, it's sort of hard for me to believe that I'm hearing a Republican say, 'Sit down and talk with Iran,'" she said.  

Not to worry, War Hawks.   Little Boy Lindsey hasn't gone ga-ga on us.  Here's the larger version of what he said: 
"We should have discussions with Iran to make sure they don't use this as an opportunity to seize control of parts of Iraq. . . . They're already on the ground. We need to put a red line with Iran" . . . .

"If Baghdad falls and the central government collapses in Iraq, the Iranians are the biggest winner. We're the biggest loser. . . ."We should be the ones who save Baghdad . . . .  to ignore Iran and not tell them, 'Don't take advantage of this situation' would be a mistake."
OK.  So his idea of "talking with" them is to issue a threat and an ultimatum, not to discuss a way to cooperate to keep our mutual enemy terrorist organization from taking over.

Well, at least we don't have to worry about Lindsey Graham "going wobbly," to quote what that crusty old hawk Margaret Thatcher once said to Ronald Reagen when he hesitated on a hawkish position she wanted him to back.

But -- let's think another moment.    For Lindsey Graham even to utter the words "sit down and talk" in the same sentence with "Iran," is actually quite stunning.  We would more expect him to be calling for airstrikes on their forces.    So maybe there is something going on in that head of his, now that he survived his primary challenge from the Tea Party.


What a surprise: A Fox newsman criticizes Bush's taking us into Iraq

Shep Smith, one of the regular FoxNews guys, had this to say about those who want us to get involved in Iraq again.   As reported by Huffington Post:
"Are we about to be drawn back into a conflict in Iraq?" Smith asked. "The same people who 12 years ago told us this will be quick, this will be easy, this will be inexpensive, they will see us as liberators, it's the right thing to do, are now telling us, 'It's the right thing to do.' What's the endgame? Who's thought this through?"

Smith argued the Iraq war provided a valuable history lesson:  the George W. Bush administration led the U. S. into a war that exacted a heavy toll on all sides of the conflict for many years.

Talking Points Memo notes that Smith later told Fox News' Chris Wallace that he hasn't forgotten "being bamboozled" by the Bush administration's justification for invading Iraq. 
Are things changing at Fox News?   Or is this a token stab at living up to their motto of "fair and balanced news?"


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Does religion have anything to do with social values and the welfare of U. S. citizens?

Geoffrey Stone, Distinguished Professor of Law at University of Chicago, recently did some research on the values and social conditions in the ten most religious states.    

Those states are, in order:   Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Oklahoma.   Here are some of the things Professor Stone found:

Eight of these ten states joined the Confederacy and fought a bloody Civil War to defend the institution of slavery.  [The other two did not become states until much later.]

Nine of these ten states still had racially segregated schools at the time of the Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education;  and five are still among the worst states in the nation in terms of the continuing racial segregation of their public schools.

Eight of these ten states are among the eleven states in the nation with the highest rates of incarceration.  All ten still have the death penalty. 

Seven of these ten states are among the ten states in the nation with the highest percentage of their citizens living under the poverty level

Nine of these ten states are among the twenty worst states in the nation in terms of gun deaths per capita.

Nine of these ten states rank in the bottom eighteen states in the nation in per pupil expenditures for public education. 

A majority of these states rank in the lowest groups in five different categories concerning health.

Another link is that all ten states are fervently Republican:   80% of their senators are Republicans, compared to 36% of the remaining forty states.

Professor Stone was not quite sure what to make of all this. Perhaps it just means that people who live in states with bad values are more likely to turn to religion and the Republican party.

I would suggest another explanation.   In all of these states, "religion" means fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity or, in Utah, the Mormon church.    One characteristic of such fundamentalism is the continued literal belief in their religious texts, untouched by modern experience, scholarship, science, or moral philosophy.

Perhaps it is that anti-intellectual, anti-progress, narrow-minded literalism, rather than religion itself, that is the important factor.