Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Charges against Strauss-Kahn dismissed but justice still not done.

The Manhattan District Attorney has formally dismissed all charges of rape against Dominique Strauss Kahn.

But that still leaves justice undone.

As was presented here on this blog the day after the charges were filed, while the press did their usual water buffalo-like stampede and others assumed Strauss Kahn guilty based on nothing except their own prejudices relating to class, race and gender, the accusations made by Nafissatou Diallo accusing Strauss Kahn of rape were from the very beginning preposterous to anyone who read her version of events and were in possession of any of the facts.

It was Diallo's knowing that rape accusations would be taken seriously by the DA, no matter how preposterous, and her knowing that rape is a crime where it is more likely that an accused would be considered guilty until proven innocent, that led her to make her charges in the hopes of one thing -- making money. Her charges led the press and many others to take the knee out of knee jerk assumptions and most decided that because she was black, an immigrant, a single mom and worked as a hotel maid, she had to be telling the truth while Strauss Kahn, white, male, prominent, a person of financial means and someone in a position of power and authority, had to be guilty in spite of the fact that every shred of logic and piece of evidence pointed to the opposite.

The clearly false allegation of rape made against him by Nafissatou Diallo caused immeasurable damage to Strauss Kahn, but also caused damage and altered world politics since he was not only the head of the International Monetary Fund but the leading candidate to be president of France. Her false accusations, motivated by her own greed and dishonesty and not caring who she harmed in her scheme to get rich, has had repercussions around the world. And justice will not be done until she pays an appropriate price.

The only person to have provably committed a crime in this whole fiasco is Diallo herself. It is a fact that she lied to investigators about different aspects of her story including her whereabouts after the alleged rape, which is a felony in itself. It is a fact that she lied to prosecutors about different aspects of her story and changed them repeatedly which is another felony. She has admitted to lying to the grand jury about different aspects of her story which is a third felony. And all those felonies leads to another -- obstruction of justice. She also admitted to lying under oath on her immigration form in requesting asylum and admittance into the United States, concocting a detailed and totally fabricated account of a gang rape which is another felony and grounds for deportation.

So Diallo has committed five provable felonies and that doesn't even include the felony of filing false charges against Strauss Kahn.

Hopefully the DA will pursue criminal charges against Diallo for all of her felonies. Justice demands that she be sent to prison and do at least some time in jail and that her perjury on her immigration application results in her deportation when she has served her time. It would be another crime for the DA to just let her walk free.

If any good has come out of this its that members of the New York City Council are considering a bill to put an end to the "perp walk" which plastered Strauss- Kahn all over the news media not just in New York but around the world, caused him to have to resign his position at the IMF and threw French politics into turmoil. Had there been a system as I argued at the time, which gives the same anonymity to an accused as it does to an accuser until there is evidence which proves guilt, the damage to Strauss Kahn by Diallo's fabricated charges would never have happened.

While that might take the fun out of it for those who were self righteous over Diallo's charges which let them find justification in their ideas regarding class and gender war fare even at the expense of an innocent man, there is no reason not to give the same cloak of anonymity to an accused in a sex crimes case as an accuser. It would also remove any motivation someone might have in making false accusations for the purpose of ruining someone's reputation. Or, as in the case of Diallo, extortion.

Hopefully justice will be blind and no one will take race, class or gender into consideration and Diallo will be going to prison and then deported back to New Guinea. And hopefully in the future, the press will think twice before splashing someone's name and picture all over the front pages and on television as having committed a sex crime without a shred of evidence to support it. The City Council ending the perp walks would be a good start.

A few weeks ago Diallo began an orchestrated PR blitz including an interview for Newsweek trying to drum up sympathy for herself. after filing a civil suit against Strauss Kahn. Diallo said she was doing it because all she wanted was justice. Obviously Diallo has never heard the old adage, be careful what you wish for, you'll probably get it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Telling Obama's fortune from a cookie.

I ordered Chinese food the other night. When I finished I broke open a fortune cookie that came in the little plastic wrap, took out the slip of paper and this is what it said:

"Compromise is always wrong if it means sacrificing principle."

I thought about Obama's saying the disastrous deal he made on raising the debt ceiling was the nature of compromise, then blaming the Republicans for refusing to compromise and it occurred to me at that moment that there are people writing fortunes for Chinese fortune cookies who know more about what it takes to be president than Obama.

In the New York Times on Sunday, no less a persona than Warren Buffet made the case for raising taxes on the wealthy.  He said it was essential. In every real budget compromise since the 1980's, both spending cuts and tax increases were part of the package. It was only Obama who agreed to a deal or "compromise" that consisted of spending cuts only leaving the burden of reducing the deficit falling on the middle class.

Hopefully the DNC and congressional Democrats won't need a fortune cookie to realize theirs and Obama's future because Obama has no chance of being reelected. Even if he wasn't the worst president in the history of the Democratic party, even if he wasn't the most blatantly dishonest, most duplicitous, and untrustworthy, even if he wasn't completely lacking in principles and convictions, even if he didn't have a 13 year history of accomplishing nothing which continued into his presidency, adding to his disasteous deal on the debt ceiling there is still history to be reckoned with which shows that no incumbent president with unemployment over 8% has ever been reelected for a second term.

And every economist of every stripe will tell you that no matter what policies are enacted, no matter how the economy comes back assuming it does, no matter what progress is made, no matter what positive signs may crop up, there is absolutely no chance that unemployment which now stands at 9.2% can get under 8% by November of 2012.

Add to that the total disgust so many Democrats feel towards Obama and his presidency, the discontent for all the things he failed to do but could have done when he had the largest congressional majority of any president in 60 years, all the promises reneged on, all the campaign speeches that were just what they seemed to be at the time -- empty slogans -- and there is no chance Obama can get another four years. The very idea is preposterous. In a recent poll in New York State Obama received only 49% of the vote against an unnamed Republican. His approval rating is down to 42% nationally.

The only chance for Democrats now is that the DNC and congressional Democrats start opening up the field to Democratic challengers to Obama in the primaries and let Democratic voters decide if they want Obama to be the nominee in 2012. You don't need a fortune cookie to know what the outcome of that will be.

But if the powers that be at the DNC won't allow challengers to Obama, if they try and repress free exercise of the democratic process the way they did in 2008 when they tried everything they could to stifle Hillary Clinton's campaign, ( with the attendant results) if they try to repress the process in the name of phony party unity as they did in 2008, then it wont be fortune cookies Democrats will be reading in 2012. It will be tea leaves.

UPDATE: Three days after this post, a new Gallup poll published today shows Obama now at an all time low not only in his overall job approval rating but in just about every other sub category that was polled. During the three day span of August 11-13 Obama's approval rating polled dropped to 39%. His weekly tracking number recovered slightly but only to 41%. Hopefully congressional Democrats and the DNC wont need fortune cookies to know what to do and will simply read the handwriting on the wall.  If they don't they really do deserve to get what will clearly be the case in 2012 which is to lose. Again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Obama tries snake oil on S&P downgrade and even more incompetence.

Now that the full faith and credit of the United States has been downgraded and is less than a AAA+ rating for the first time since 1917, Barrack Obama, and his spokespeople are doing what Obama has done his whole political life about everything that makes him look bad -- lie.

Obama is trying to make an issue out of the fact that Standard and Poor admitted to making a $2 trillion error in assessing the future US debt, while choosing to completely ignore the fact that Standard and Poor made it abundantly clear that the numbers and the mistake had absolutely nothing to do with the downgrade in the first place.

Hoping to seize on what amounts to a clerical error for political purposes, the charge by Obama spokesmen that the downgrade was a "facts be damned" decision on the part of SP not only shows how thoroughly dishonest Obama can be once again, but how politically incompetent since the downgrade could have been used as a powerful political sword against the Republicans and the Tea Party ( and not the butter knife Axelrod tried to use in stupidly blaming the Tea Party for the downgrade when it was Obama's incompetence in not taking care of the debt ceiling a year earlier when the Democrats had large majorities, not to mention his 3 time capitulation on extending the Bush tax cuts and his caving in to Republicans on the debt ceiling all of which was the real cause of the problem.).

Obama's criticism of SP is simply snake oil on top of smoke and mirrors. SP made clear that the downgrade was a result of the political "brinksmanship" that allowed the debt ceiling debacle to go down to the wire, tying it to a deficit reduction plan (something Obama himself could have avoided in many ways, not the least of which was invoking the 14th amendment, something Bill Clinton said he would have done) and the fact that the deficit deal Obama struck with Republicans was, in S&P's opinion, inadequate in dealing with the deficit.

And one of the big reasons SP found the deficit deal inadequate was because Obama once again, and to the detriment of the country, agreed to a deficit reduction deal with no tax increases. He went along with the proven past failures of the Republican position which always puts ideology over the best interests of the country. Bill Clinton, over the staunch objections of Republicans, raised taxes in 1993 with the additional tax revenue earmarked for the deficit. While Republicans predicted disaster, it resulted in a zero deficit, a balanced budget and the greatest economic expansion in U.S. history.

Obama is now repeating the obvious --  that we need tax increases in order to have real deficit reduction. It was Republicans cutting taxes at the same time Bush took the country to war in Iraq, something that had never been done before --  that was the major cause of the problem in the first place. But like he has before, Obama is taking a position after the fact and after he reneged on ending the Bush tax cuts on three different occassions. .Like his 2007 about face on the Washington D.C. hand gun ban as a U.S. senator, his reneging on his promise to use public financing as a candidate, his reneging on the public option and financial reform as president, he has now turned around again ( remember "sanctimonious purists"?) and began  making the case for ending the Bush tax cuts in the future.

Meanwhile the downgrade could not have been a more perfect weapon for Obama or any politically competent Democrat ( of which there seems to be none) to use against Republicans. After all it was John Boehner who boasted after the deal passed the House that " we got 98% of everything we wanted".

Even a marginally competent president or Democrat could easily make the case that  getting 98% of everything the Republicans wanted, including holding the debt ceiling hostage in order to get the 98% of everything they wanted, is precisely what led to the first downgrade of American credit since 1917.

Instead of using the sword the Republicans gave him him, Obama has, as usual, tried to lay the blame for the downgrade on Standard and Poor's clerical error,  something that had nothing to do with the decision to downgrade.

One can only hope that somewhere along the line the Democratic Party will finally take a page from S&P and downgrade Obama and look for credible challengers to Obama in the 2012 primaries. Because right now, both Obama's credibility and that of the Democratic Party is at an all time low along with America's credit rating. And if Obama is still the candidate in 2012 the American people will announce their own downgrade -- this one at the polls.

UPDATE: After both Geithner and an unnamed White House spokesman had  denigrated Standard and Poor  for two days over the downgrade, calling it a "facts be damned" downgrade,using the math error as the excuse,  Obama has( what else is new?) reversed himself and in brief remarks to the press on the downgrade,  dropped the attack on SP and finally and correctly attributed the downgrade to the political logjam and inadequate deficit package ( a package he capitulated to) as the cause behind SP's decision.

What he didnt mention was that every proposal for deficit reduction from Simpson-Boles to the Gang of Six included tax increases on the wealthy and the closing of tax loopholes, the one issue that Republicans were intrangient over, refused to agree to, used to hold the US credit rating hostage, and was capitulated to by Obama.

Obama's case for tax increases by eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, something he mentioned again in his remarks were made a year ago.  And he did nothing. And there is no reason to think it will change now unless Democrats can find a candidate to replace him.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Tea Party celebrates, progressives suck their thumbs.

That wonderful political group known as progressives, a group who formerly called themselves liberals but didn't have the guts to stand up to Republican attacks on liberalism and so changed their name, were left out in the cold again with their noses pressed up against the White House window pane ( or is it pain?) as they were again sold out by Barrack Obama on the debt ceiling, just as they have been every day he's been in the White House.

These are the people who, along with many in the press,  for three years going back to the 2008 Democratic primaries went into a fetal position on the subject of race for Obama's benefit, throwing away the content of his character ( which wasn't much), and judged him by the color of his skin, and still haven't come out of it while they watch Obama further destroy the Democratic Party and everything they have traditionally stood for.

Only two weeks ago, the Progressive Campaign Change Committee delivered a petition to Obama with a dire threat, warning Obama in no uncertain terms that if he cut social security and medicare and capitulated to Republicans, they would vote for him anyway.

That gets first prize as the most pathetic political petition in world history.  There were serfs in Saxony in 1056 who wrote stronger petitions to the king than the PCCC gave to Obama. Their petition told Obama that if he sold out again, this time they would not work for him or donate money. But made it clear they would vote for him anyway. I guess that meant that if he sold out on Medicare and socical security and didnt get rid of the Bush tax cuts they would refuse to wear Obama beanies in 2012 or set up card tables outside the local Stop N Shop.As for not donating money considering what Obama might get from the banks for selling out financial reform and from the health insurance industry for selling out the public option I dont think Obama will notice their money is missing.  I have no doubt that privately Obama and those around him laughed at their petition.

So while progressive groups like the PCCC and MoveOn continue to show symptoms of BOSS -- Battered Obama Supporter Syndrome, the Tea Party who really know how to threaten politicians and make their presence felt, are celebrating.And so are Republicans who once again demonstrate they know how to wield power and made the Democrats look like amateurs.

And speaking of MoveOn, ( who should change their name to MoveOver) how pathetic are they?  I received an email today from MoveOn. This is what was in the first paragraph::

" Tea Partiers hijacked the debt ceiling deal threatening to crash our economy to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest 1% and most Democrats caved in to their demands".

 The Tea Party hijacked the negotiations?  It's the Tea Party's fault that Obama is missing the part of the anatomy that James Carville said he's missing? It's the Tea Party's fault that MoveOn backed a candidate with no princples, no backbone, no convictions and no qualifications to be president? The truth is MoveOn is mad at the Tea Party because those people had more guts,were more galvanized and were willing to make more credible threats against their members of congress than MoveOn, the PCCC or anyone else was against Obama. And that's the Tea Party's fault?   It's the Tea Party's fault that they were able to do what MoveOn and the PCCC and other so called progressive groups were too timid to do by threatening to find credible challengers to those who dont vote to support their agenda?   Yes the demands of the Tea Party were close to treasonous in supporting an American default,  their values have no place in America because all they care about, all that motivates them is more money in their pockets and to hell with their childrens education, healthcare for everyone,a healthy economy and low unemployment. But whose fault is it that they won? Notice how they say, "and most Democrats caved into their demands". "Most Democrats" didnt. Barrack Obama did. Nancy Pelosi did. Harry Reid did. The Democratic  Congressional Black Caucus called Obama's deal a "sugar coated Satan sandwich" the closest anyone has come to telling Obama to go to hell. But for MoveOn and their racial neurosis,  its everyone else's fault but Obama. Thats why I call their disease BOSS -- Battered Obama Supporter Syndrome. They are like battered women who, without help, without wanting to see the truth, keep going back to the batterer and wont admit where the problem really is and that what they need to do is get out, slam the door and never go back. Instead they make excuses and go back for more.

And how truly pathetic was Obama on the debt ceiling negotiations? As pathetic as he was in caving in to health insurance lobbyists in dropping the public option, as pathetic as he was in caving into to Wall Street and banks on dropping the language from the financial reform bill that would have banned derivatives, the financial instrument banks gambled with and lost which caused the financial meltdown in the first place, and as pathetic as he has been in not once, not twice, but three times caving in on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, something he vowed to end since he began his run for the presidency, and something he has reneged on ever since.  And all that is the fault of the Tea Party? Even now Obama is trying to sell his snake oil saying that there must be tax increases on the wealthy and pledging to get them. Which shows neither he nor MoveOn know the rules of the game. Because its three strikes and youre out not four.

This is how useless Obama was in the debt ceiling negotiations compared to Republicans and what MoveOn's ridiculous email tries to ignore.

Obama: "Am I happy with the bill that passed? No. But its compromise"

Boehner: "We got 98% of everything we wanted".

Now, does that sound like a compromise to you? Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm just a sanctimonious purist. But that sounds like Obama's negotiating strategy was " heads you win tails we lose".

Boehner also boasted to the Tea Party that " we changed and framed the debate". That they did. But when you are debating someone with debating skills below that of a throw pillow that's not too hard.

The most disheartening ( for Democrats) example of just how pathetic Obama was during the negotiations, something by the way, that never would have occurred had he taken the bull by the horn and the recommendations of his own commission a year ago when Democrats controlled both houses of congress, were these significant comments about the Republican position in contrast to what Obama and the Democratic leadership agreed to:

" I agree that we need large tax increases to pay down the deficit and that the wealthy in this country should be the first to pay. Obama folded twice before on ending the Bush tax cuts and he just folded again".

Guess who said that? David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's Budget Director and he said it the night the House passed the debt ceiling bill.

The Republican position and tactics on the debt ceiling was publicly attacked and criticized from another quarter on four major points and the four points of criticism against Republicans are reprinted here verbatim:

1. Forcing the US to the verge of default

2.Shrugging off the needs and concerns of millions of the unemployed.

3. Protecting every single loophole, giveaway and boondoggle in the tax code as a
    matter of conservative principle.

4. Massive government budget cuts in the midst of the worst recession since WWII.

Those on target criticisms of the Republican and conservative position were made by David Frum, Republican and former White House speech writer for George W. Bush.

Here is a clue to MoveOn. When you are a Democratic president and your negotitating position is to the right of Ronald Reagan's budget director and a White House speech writer for George W. Bush you should be finished as a Democratic president. And when Reagan's budget director and Bush's speech writer can make a more cogent and effective case again the Republicans than a Democratic president, its long past time to find a challenger to Obama for the Democratic nomination. And long past time for progressive groups like MoveOn and the PCCC to take their collective thumbs out of their mouths and realize that ":daddy" is never going to be what they deluded themselves into thinking he is.

Unless progressive groups stop sucking their thumbs and grow up, and unless the Democratic party itself recognizes the catastrophe that is Barrack Obama and that this catastrophe will only continue and get worse, unless they find a credible challenger in the primaries for the Democratic nomination, a challenger that almost surely would win, they can kiss the White House goodbye and their agenda at least until 2016. And they deserve to.

There is at least two credible potential Democratic challengers out there, ( and possibly more) who would not only beat Obama handily in the Democratic primaries but win the general election. And he would energize the party and end the stupor and malaise caused by and perpetuated by Obama and the progressive groups still suffering from BOSS. ( or is it "YES BOSS"?) . Democrats in congress and every progressive group in the country should do everything possible to try and get challengers to run. And two that could win are Senator Bill Nelson of Florida,a former astronaut and the other is Al Gore.