Tuesday, July 30, 2013

83 Disgraceful Democrats.

No, Anthony Weiner is not on the list. What these Democrats did is far worse than anything Anthony Weiner has ever done. These are the 83 Democrats who caved in to both Obama and Nancy Pelosi and voted to keep the NSA domestic  surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden, and now opposed by 67% of Americans and 205 members of the U.S. House.

Pelosi, who has been far more disgraceful to the Democratic agenda than anything Anthony Weiner ever did, lobbied hard with House Democrats at  Obama's bidding to keep the surveillance program intact.  And 83 weak Democrats went along. But  the amendment to defund the program, something that was considered a fringe effort only two weeks ago was defeated by only by 7 votes 205-212. So much for Snowden being a traitor.

Pelosi, who has taken on the characteristics of the candidate she supported during the Democratic primaries and as such,  has previously shredded her integrity on healthcare reform by dropping the public option which she had called "the centerpiece of healthcare reform"  to support Obama's cave in to the health insurance lobby in what is now Obamacare, did it again on the NSA surveillance program. 

Pelosi  who was recently booed on stage for her attack on Edward Snowden at a Progressive policy conference, was instrumental in defeating the amendment to junk the NSA program.  If  Democrats  ever muster the same resolve over issues they consider crucial as does the Tea Party and, like the Tea Party,  insist on holding elected officials accountable, Pelosi should find herself facing a primary challenge in 2014 and losing.

Pelosi's sycophancy to Obama was underlined even further when Republican James Sensenbrenner, the author of the Patriot Act, under which the NSA surveillance program was created,  urged a "yes" vote on the amendment to end the program and voted that way himself.

What exposes Pelosi's political duplicity even further was,  after the amendment's defeat, and now having to face the 111 Democrats who rejected her and Obama's  arm twisting and voted to eliminate  the surveillance program, Pelosi  had the gall to send a letter to Obama which she made public expressing  her "concerns"  and "reservations"  over the surveillance program she just helped to continue,and urged Obama to consider "changes", obviously sensing she is now on the wrong side of history. There has not in recent memory been a more disingenuous and  politically dishonest Democratic leader in the House than Pelosi has become as Obama's primary sycophant in the House.And this letter written after the NSA vote proves it.

Yet, in spite of the temporary defeat and of all the many good things Snowden's revelations has accomplished in informing the American people that their private data was being collected by the government without their knowledge or consent, maybe the biggest accomplishment while he languishes in a Moscow airport,  is that it has united previous political opponents, even those who would  be called political enemies,  and unified them, not based on Republican or Democrat, conservative or  liberal, but based on being Jeffersonian, Franklin and Adams Americans whose loyalty is to the constitution first.  On the other side,  there is  Obama, Pelosi, Mike Rogers,Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer,  Peter King and others of both parties who  have been supporting the Surveillance State in the name of keeping people safe.  Those are the divisions related to the NSA program. The momentum is on the side of the constitutionalists.

Through it all though it is important to keep in mind the president's words,which might be true soaring rhetoric:
 "The privacy of citizens cannot be infringed in the name of security".

 Unfortunately those words came from the president of Brazil.

A list of all those who voted for the amendment to end the surveillance and those who voted against it are here.An  "aye" vote was for the amendment to end the NSA domestic spying program. A "no"  vote was to keep it.







Sunday, July 21, 2013

In exposing Valerie Plame, Cheney and Libby did far more damage to U.S. security than Snowden.

The double standard and overt dishonesty exhibited by those in government entrusted with U.S. national security and  what most of the time seems like a state sponsored news media towing the government line attacking Edward Snowden with unproven accusations of damaging national security, continues unabated.

Both Obama and the news media as ususal, have been in pander mode over Snowden, not  based on what the majority of the country thinks or believes but on what the loudest voices and fist shakers have to say which in almost every case amounts to nothing of value and is usually motivated by dishonesty.  And as always, the fist shakers get the most coverage because the news media always mindful of ratings and web hits,  prefers the dog and pony show and any wild histrionics to the facts or truth about almost anything.

With Snowden's disclosures, the media has either been focused on those who call Snowden a traitor or where Snowden is and how is he going to get from point A to point B. Nothing about the content of what he revealed or whether those handful of people in the government criticizing him are being truthful about the alleged damage done or the even the value of the domestic surveillence programs Snowden revealed.  Especially since one, James Clapper, Director of  National Intelligence, clearly committed perjury in front of a congressional committee A perjury both congress and the news media have chosen to ignore. There also hasn't been much coverage about the 26 senators who broke ranks with those crying traitor and wrote a letter to Obama demanding more answers about the surveillence programs, clearly not satisfied with what they've been told.

 John Kerry's absurd assertion that Snowden's disclosures could end up causing people to die is the kind of overblown, overwrought nonsense that's been coming out of the Obama  administration from the beginning,  though not directly from Obama who doesn't seem to want his fingerprints on any of it. But more and more the Obama administration is sounding like the Bush administration trying to defend a program whose value and constitutionality is questionable. The same program by the way, Obama promised to end when he ran for president and instead expanded, proving again the value and truth behind anything Obama has to say on any subject generally means nothing.

So far no one in the press has pointed out, and certainly no one in congress criticizing Snowden,  that the damage  to U.S. national security caused by Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby by blowing the cover of former undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame for political reasons, is far greater and more lasting and more dangerous than anything Snowden has revealed so far.  In fact there is not a shred of evidence that anything Snowden revealed about the government spying on its own citizens and on its allies  has caused any danger at all. Or that the program had any real value.

Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA operative for 20 years  and her area of expertise was nothing less vital to U.S. national  security than Iran's nuclear weapons program. Her network of informants inside Iran was 20 years in the making. Her cover was blown by Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby because her husband, Joe Wilson,  a former U.S. ambassador to Niger, exposed the fact that Bush lied in his State of the Union message leading up to the war in Iraq when he said Sadaam Hussein  had been attempting to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger to make a nuclear weapon. This was one of Bush's primary justifications for going to war in Iraq. It was Condoleeza Rice who said, in trying to gather congressional support for invading Iraq " we can't afford to have the smoking gun become a mushroom cloud".

Plame's husband destroyed Bush and Cheney's  nuclear argument by pointing out after going to Niger to personally investigate at the request of the CIA,  that Bush's claim that  Sadaam attempted to buy yellow cake from Niger  was bogus.

Because Plame had recommended her husband for the job and in the hopes of undermining Wilson's credibility, Cheney, Libby and to a lesser  extent Karl Rove,  outed his undercover CIA  wife by pointing out it was she who recommended to the CIA that her husband investigate the claims. Because Wilson's revelations threatened to destroy their cover of using a nuclear threat by Sadaam to invade Iraq exposing Plame as the undercover CIA agent who recommended Wilson investigate Bush's allegations, they tried to paint the whole affair as part of a liberal agenda to undermine the need for invasion and partly as patronage. They even sent  out mouthpieces , principally Victoria Toensing a former U.S. attorney and conservative Republican propaganda machine  on the talk show circuit trying to assert, after the damage was done, that Plame wasn't really an undercover agent after all,  as much a lie as Bush's assertions about Sadaam's WMD but designed to take the heat off Cheney and Libby for what they did. Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, was eventually convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the investigation into who exposed Plame's identity.

The damage done by Cheney and Libby in destroying Plame's network of informants in Iran is incalculable. Everyone knows how difficult it is to get any information out of Iran. When Plame's cover was blown on orders from Cheney, 20 years worth of  information pipelines from Iran to the CIA were destroyed forever.  And unlike Kerry's preposterous claims of people dying  because of Snowden, there probably were some in Iran providing information to Plame who were actually killed by Cheney's disclosure.  There was at least one scientist and his family who  Plame had promised to smuggle out of the country and who had to be abandoned because of what Cheney and Libby did.

Plame herself has come out publicly and said that Americans should be grateful to Snowden for his revelations and laughed at Cheney's characterization of Snowden as a traitor given what Cheney had done. She also said Clapper should resign.

Neither the news media, nor the Democrats, whose idea of getting courageous is to get tough with  Anthony Weiner  over a picture of his underwear, ever held  Cheney or Libby accountable for the damage they did to national security by disclosing Plame's identity. 

Instead the news media seems to save their opportunities to look like defenders of justice or guardians of public morality by joining whatever mob is yelling the loudest and ganging up on the defenseless like Edward Snowden, a man with no real power other than his own beliefs and convictions,  which is something so clearly missing from both the news media and most politicians that whatever one thinks of what Snowden did, his courage is making them all look bad. And that is probably the real reason both would love to see Snowden  just shut up.

NOTE: At 4:30 P.M. today, July 22, Barbara Starr at CNN reported that intelligence officials are "now reviewing what information Snowden has and what damage may have been  caused by Snowden's leaks", adding that "Snowden did not get the crown jewels of the surveillence program".

That makes liars out of every government and elected official who had been telling us for week that Snowden caused incalcuable damage to U.S, security with his revelations. If they are now first "reviewing what information Snowden has" and are first evaluating "what damage his revelations may have caused" then they had no idea about either at the time John Kerry, Senators Feinstein and Schumer and Graham and Reps Peter King and Mike Rogers, Jeffery Toobin, General Keith Alexander and spokesmen for the Obama administration were attacking Snowden as a "traitor" and claimng grave damae to the secuirty of the American people.

Didnt Kerry say  "people may die" because of it? Didnt we hear over and over again how Snowden's disclosure of the surveillence programs now put Americans at risk and a whole lot more?

Are we now finding out that all this time these people really didnt know what they were talking about after spewing out all the doomsday damage they claimed from the beginning Snowden caused?

 It now been proved, as had been pointed out here repeatedly ever since the news about the surveillence program broke and government officials started attacking Snowden, that every word out of every government official telling us that Snowden caused severe damage to U.S. national security, was untrue and that we should not trust what people like Chuck Schumer John Kerry, Peter King and others were saying is now validated. If they are now first evaluating "the damage"  caused by Snowden as Starr reported today, then everything everyone of them had to say was based on nothing but a PR campaign against Snowden. And is one more peice of evidence that even if there could be some validity to the program, the people now in charge cannot  be trusted with the information.

There was however one statement coming from a government official that was notable who said, " The privacy of citizens cannot be infringed in the name of security". Unfortunately that didnt come from anyone in the U.S. government.  It came from the president of Brazil.





Friday, July 12, 2013

Lack of media coverage of archdiocese documents confirms news media deceit in attacks on Joe Paterno.


 On July 1, pursuant to a judge's court order as part of a bankruptcy settlement over law suits against the Milwaukee archdiocese by victims of church child sexual abuse,the archdiocese released a trove of previously secret documents that chronicled in great detail and specificity the wide spread, persistent and rampant child sexual abuse committed priest by  priest with the full knowledge of church hierarchy that according to the documents, span more than 80 years.

This comes on the heels of over 30,000 pages of church documents from the Los Angeles archdiocese also  released by court order, describing sexual abuse of children covered up and allowed to continue according the documents, since 1940.

The Milwaukee documents, like those in Los Angeles chronicle horrific and sordid detailed descriptions of child abuse including sodomy and rape that the church hierarchy  knew about and did nothing to stop, or to remove or punish the priests involved.

But there is one thing we haven't heard regarding these documents and the disclosures they contain and that is, there has not been so much as a word from the major news media outlets about these documents, their horrific contents or the gross and even criminal negligence of those who failed to  report or stop the abuse.  No headlines. No major news stories leading TV broadcasts on cable or network TV news. No outrage. No details. No pontificating. No fist banging. None of the usual suspects who show up on cable news shows to display their confusion over controversial issues. And no full page front page pictures in the Philadelphia Daily News with the word "Shame" across the top. As far as the news coverage was concerned, it's as if it didn't happen.

Compare that to the wall to wall 24 hour a day  national media coverage that went on day after day for more than a month  (which according to Pew Research made it the biggest news story in the country for three straight weeks)  attacking  Penn State football coach  Joe Paterno who "only" reported something he was told second hand about a vague and unsubstantiated report of something that went on in a Penn State shower that made Mike McQueary uncomfortable, to Paterno's superior, Penn State Athletic director Tim Curley as per Penn State protocols, and head of Penn State campus police, Gary Schultz. And Paterno did it within 24 hours.

As the facts show, Joe Paterno did more within 24 hours to report suspected claims of potential abuse than every member of the church  who knew about actual abuse in Milwaukee,(and elsewhere) over a span of at least 80 years. Because for 80 years or more,  they did nothing.  But  it was Paterno who recieved all the coverage, who was  the focus of the news media, supposedly for, in the media's headline grabbing justification, "not doing enough" .

 Which simply confirms again what  should have been obvious at the time and what is obvious now about almost everyone in what has become a virtually worthless domestic news media -- that the journalists and their editors who attacked Joe Paterno didnt care a whit about child abuse or protecting children and were simply a self serving mindless media mob, more interested in self promotion, self aggrandizement and even more than that,  generating the kind of revenue brought in by the Paterno  name in the form of ratings, newsstand sales and web hits which increase ad revenue.  That's what really mattered then, and all that matters and governs what they report now. All they're really interested in, no matter what the story  is what's in it for them. 

The documented instances of child sexual abuse by priests that were allowed to continue in the  Milwaukee archdiocese shows a degree of negligence and callousness that is breathtaking in its scope. Just as breathtaking is how completely the news media has ignored it.

The reasons are many. What drives journalists today for the most part is  fear and cowardice when it comes to dealing with power and/or subjects that carry with it the possibility of reprisals or consequences.  The first thing they want to know in reporting on anything is what's the safest way for them to do it. Then you have the combination of  their own mediocrity coupled with ambition and a desire to make themselves look good, as if they were champions of something, in this case child abuse, when the only thing they really champion are themselves.  Last but not least there is greed.

There's not  been a word from the most outspoken of those who attacked Paterno for "not doing enough", people like Stuart Scott, Jay Bilas, Jonette Howard, Jemele Hill, Gene Wojciechowski  all at ESPN, or Sean Gregory at Time magazine and Roland Martin of CNN, who called Paterno a coward after pretending to read the Freeh Report but who never had a thing to say about child abuse in his life along with most other journalists who, especially Wojciechowski, disparaged not only Paterno but Penn State campus police as not being "real"police which in turn led to their attacks on Paterno which they justified  for "only" reporting it to the head of campus police which in their eyes, wasn't really reporting it at all. All of them were factually challenged, misrepresented facts and evidence, behaved like a collection of trained seals and rolled over and played dead for authority figures, yet said nothing about the Milwaukee documents or the conduct of those in the church who knew and did nothing.

Because Paterno is who he is, and because his name and likeness sold newspapers, jacked up ratings and created web hits all of which meant increased ad revenue for a news media dying on the vine in terms of ratings, credibility and revenue, Paterno became a cash cow for a news media badly in need of  the spike in revenue and who also saw this as a chance to make themselves look like moral crusaders despite years, even decades of professional cowardice in almost all areas of journalism except for foreign correspondents.

How much was this really only about money? According to media statistics, Paterno's name and likeness were displayed at a ratio of 20-1 over that of Sandusky, the man actually accused and eventually convicted of abuse. The Philadelphia Daily News,before they even had any facts,  ran a full page picture of Paterno with the word "Shame". There was no "shame" treatment for William Lynn, the Philadelphia monsignor now doing 6 years in prison for burning a list of 34 pedophile priests on orders from Philadelphia cardinal Bevilaqua and never going to the police. And no "shame" treatment  for any of the priests, bishops and cardinals at the Milwaukee archdiocese for  committing and covering up 80 years of child sex abuse.

That Paterno did more in 24 hours to report even an unsubstantiated possibility of abuse of which there was no proof (and in the end, ironically  evidence showed did not occur, -- a jury acquitted Sandusky of the charge of sexual abuse in the Penn State shower while convicting him of 45 other counts)  than a succession of church officials did with thousands of cases of actual abuse,without a word from the news media about these documents and what they contained,  ( the number of allegations against the Milwaukee archdiocese alone is a staggering 8,000)  shows that the real shame, as usual, belongs to journalists and editors who used the horrors of child abuse and Joe Paterno's name, accomplishments, stature and reputation to further their own careers, to elevate themselves from their own mediocrity, to excuse all their past failures and cowardice for all the times they were and still are, too afraid to stand up for what was right if it carried any risk, and last, but for their editors and accountants certainly not least -- revenue.

For those who want to see what the news media has chosen to ignore  here is a link to the documents ordered released by the court on July1. 

NOTE: With the Paterno family announcing they are joining Penn State alumni, former players and others in a law suit against the NCAA for basing their sanctions on the Freeh Report, assuming the suit goes forward ( and there is no reason why it won't) it should be, given the facts, a virtual certainty that the plantiffs will win and the sanctions as they relate to the plantiffs will be vacated. If Vegas or sports books gives a price on it, I'd take it.

In addition Graham Spanier has filed a multi-million dollar defamation suit against Louis Freeh. If I were advising the Paterno family I'd advise they file their own defamation suit  against Freeh with the money going to charity since it's a suit they'd win easily.  And Freeh would have no choice but to go to court since an attempt to settle would be an admission that much of the report was a fabrication (as pointed out by former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh)  and it also wouldnt serve the purpose of getting the Freeh Report into a court of law where  it can  be destroyed along with the reputations of the journalists who believed it given there was not  a single factual basis or shred of proof to substantiate any of the accusations and conclusions in the Freeh Report against Paterno. 



Monday, July 1, 2013

Texas governor Rick Perry's Tea Party hypocrisy over FEMA rejection.

Texas Governor Rick Perry likes to talk as big as the state he governs. Unfortunately the talk is big but what's behind it is small. Unless you like your hypocrisy big. 

Perry has long been a Tea Party darling, has joked about Texas seceding from the Union ( yes he was joking, but used it to make his point) and has been anti-Washington and Washington policies and Washington spending since there has been a Democratic president ( like most conservatives he had no problem with Bush creating a $1 trillon deficit by not paying for the war in Iraq and putting it on a government credit card). He  has spent a lot of time chest beating about  how independent Texas is,  independent of Washington politics, policies and money.  That is until he needed something.

Perry as governor rejected $500 million in federal stimulus money joining with other conservative and Republican governors in opposing the stimulus package in 2009. He also rejected federal money for Medicaid for the same political reasons. He supported Mitt Romney for president who took the conservative position that FEMA should be abolished (bad timing considering Hurrican Sandy devastated the northeast a month before the election).  But Perry's disdain for federal  government programs didn't stop him from applying for tens of millions of dollars from FEMA for West Texas, the town damaged by the fertilizer explosion. FEMA rejected his request. And Perry is not happy.

When his own ox is being gored, or the oxen of the people of his own state,  suddenly political philosophy and grandiosity and disdain for Washington goes out the window.  Perry wants money from the very federal government agency whose very existence he opposed.

FEMA, much to Perry's chagrin has taken him at his word and agreed that the state of Texas and local governments have enough of their own money and resources to pay for the rebuilding without federal tax dollars from FEMA and ruled they do not qualify for FEMA money.

Perry says they NEED the money.  And he is appealing.

This isn't the first time that Perry, after trashing Democratic tax and spend policies  in Washington which provide money for emergency funding as well as other services  has gone ten gallon hat in one hand and the other hand out to ask Washington for money. He did the same when he pleaded (or groveled depending on your point of view) with the federal government to send money to help Texas fight its wild fires. That time he got it.

 This time he isn't. And he can't understand why. Maybe there are members of the Tea Party who can tell him.