The Watering Hole, Monday, July 15th: FFS, There is NO Scandal!

While visiting ThinkProgress the other day, I noticed on the sidebar a photo of President Obama, with the following emblazoned over it: ‘OBAMA APPROVAL PLUMMETS – Is the IRS Scandal The Final Straw?

I couldn’t help myself, I had to click on it, and ended up at the following petition, sponsored (somewhat to my surprise) by Citizens United:


“Tell Attorney General Eric Holder To Appoint A Special Counsel To Investigate The IRS
Sign the Petition : 8,045 Signers So Far

Washington is embroiled in scandal and those at Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department cannot be trusted to conduct an independent investigation because there is a conflict of interest.

In a case this inflammatory – the politicization of the IRS – people serving at the pleasure of the President at the Department of Justice cannot be trusted to conduct an independent investigation because there is an inherent conflict of interest. How can you ask someone to fairly investigate their boss or others who work for their boss? The answer is you can’t.

The American people will not and should not stand for a political investigation into the politicization of the IRS. Please sign the below petition to tell Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Counsel to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal. Make your voice heard!

Thank you for signing this petition, we will keep you informed on the developments related to the fiscal cliff and additional content from Citizens United and the Presidential Coalition.”

[For more on the “Presidential Coalition”, here’s what SourceWatch and OpenSecrets have on the group.]

For your reading pleasure, here’s a selection of some of the dumbass comments posted by signers of the petition:

Lucy B. from Philadelphia, PA writes:
This was implemented to make sure Obama’s reelection would be secure and his opposition (Conservatives) would be denied money to carry on a political fight.

Robert B. from Chesapeake, VA writes:
Enforce the law on these lawleess jerks!!

Shirley H. from Pearland, TX writes:
Mr. Holder you need to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS. You have proven yourself unreliable and dishonest. Someone else should have investigated Fast and Furious and Bengahzi. You need to be fired and charged with several crimes.
Take yourself and the DOJ out of IRS investigation.

Herb P. from Boulder City, NV writes:
Repeal the income tax; our economy was better before the income tax.

larry b. from West Palm Beach, FL writes:
Shut Down the irs!!!!
flat tax NOW!!!

Geraldine R. from Milwaukee, WI writes:
Eric Holder needs to be investigated too.

robert w. from Hilliard, FL writes:
for this and bengazzi

Jan M. from Overland Park, KS writes:

Irv P. from Burbank, CA writes:
Your corruption breeds more corruption. It and you are putrid.

Everett S. from Darien, CT writes:
We want a AG that is fair , balanced and Just. Our nation needs and depends on this

[Note: I agree with this, but obviously, for reasons which are probably not the same as Everett’s.]

Laine P. from Austin, TX writes:
There is nothing to say that the “thought police” will not use against anyone with a brain left after these five years of oppression.

Mike H. from Palm Beach Gardens, FL writes:
He won’t do this because it would lead right to the White House.

Dr. Jim C. from Young Harris, GA writes:
bho is anti-American and the most divisive public figure to ever live in this Great Nation.

John T. V. from Tamaqua, PA writes:
These Chicago thugs, are like satan, “MASTER OF ALL LIES AND DECEIT.”

Anne M. from Hyde Park, MA writes:
Dear AG E. Holder: Do your job. Or perhaps it was your idea to pull this off in the first place? In that case, resign, if you have a trace of honor. That being doubtful, then know that you are unacceptable as chief law-enforcement officer of this country, because you have violated the Constitution you swore to uphold. Since you have all my personal information already, I’ll simply sign my self: Anne, A Citizen

Calvin M. from Bristol, VA writes:
The IRS is to Political. It has shown time and time again that it is out of control and cannot be trusted.

Richard B. from Chicago, IL writes:
Impeach Obama and dump his socialist Obamacare witch is a big Federal scam we are all in BIG trouble if its not repealed

christopher S. from Morocco, IN writes:
Holder and Obama are both black racist crooks need to be tried , convicted and sent to prison

Caroline C. from Sioux City, IA writes:
We have a president with blood on his hands
from the babies who survive an abortion and blood on his hands from the Benghai attack. The IRS is another President’s problem with their misuse of taxpayers’ money!!!!

Lucy B. from Philadelphia, PA [again] writes:
ABSOLUTLY! IRS apologized after his reelection was secured by eliminating his feared opposition the Tea Party which he marginalized used sexually divisive terms that great grandmothers didn’t even understand. And he has no respect for the RULE OF LAW.

Jo Ann C. from Jacksonville, FL writes:
For years, honest folks were afraid of the IRS…most with good reason as an audit by them put anyone in fear…even when they had done nothing wrong! Now it is our President who puts fear in us by all the things he has done and plans to do. He acts more like a Dictator than a President! I pray to God daily for the safety and security of our USA. I hope he is impeached and removed from office in order to save the America we know and love. I am an 80 year old woman and hope and pray for our Country…whomever reads this, please forward if you are like minded. Thanks

LEONARD C. from Glendale, AZ writes:
guilty as charged.this is a no brainer for a blind man.hang them for treason. god bless america.sent them all to kenya.

Now, I’m no fan of Eric Holder and his so-called “Department of ‘Justice'”, but this IRS “scandal” bullshit is just that, BULLSHIT. Yet Citizens United (spit) is still using it to incite and bilk the ignorant.

Well, since I can’t put all of the ignorant comments that I found into this post, I’ll leave you with this final winner:

susan D. from Latrobe, PA writes:
I have never seen so much corruption ever ;they just keep doing IT and getting away with everything ;that is so not right come on Gongress do your job ;fire holden @ Obama ;and Hiliray Clinton to . .there are many corruped people in the white house it is shocking .And they are trying so hard to make Balck and White such a bad rachal thing it is terbble ;i have no probelm with black people at all ;there all the same colour is not an issue it is the GOVERNMENT THAT IS THE ISSUE .

This is our Open Thread. Have at it!

Who Cast What At The Who Now?

This past Wednesday, Rep Louie Gohmert (R-Wingnuttia) accused Attorney General Eric Holder of a charge which, to my knowledge, has never been leveled at any cabinet level officer of the United States. He said that the Attorney General was “casting aspersions on my asparagus.” No, I didn’t mishear that, though my bad hearing might have led me to think he said something almost as disjointed. Listen for yourself Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 9, 2013: The Right Frame of Mind

As usually happens when a re-elected president begins a second term (and this is the first time since Jefferson-Madison-Monroe that we’ve had three consecutive two-term presidents) many of the people who served during the first term leave and new people get picked to replace them. Many of these replacements need to get confirmed by the US Senate, and it was during one of these recent Senate confirmation hearings that the subject of our nation’s use of unmanned drones was discussed, specifically their use against American citizens. It’s a very controversial subject. [NOTE: In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. I have never taken a law class nor attended a law school (though I used to fix copiers in one.) But none of those things should matter because, well, you’ll see where I’m going with this.]

The nominee in question, John Brennan, appointed to replace Leon Panetta as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (or NAMBLA), was being asked about a report by NBC’s Michael Isikoff regarding a Department of Justice White Paper that laid out the legal reasoning behind why it was felt the president had the legal and constitutional authority to order the assassination of a US citizen in another part of the world. Not just any citizen. The person in question had to be “a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force of al-Qa’ida.” According to a footnote, “An associated force of al-Qa’ida includes a group that would qualify as a co-belligerent under the laws of war.” And by “senior operational leader” they mean “an al-Qa’ida leader actively engaged in planning operations to kill Americans.” You’ve been hearing a lot about this White Paper in the news lately, and that’s primarily because John Brennan was involved in the crafting of that policy. What you haven’t heard very much about is that none of this is really news. It turns out Attorney General Eric Holder pretty much laid out the same rationale in a speech given at Northwestern University back on March 5, 2012. But what is even less widely reported is the Attorney General’s stretching of the truth in making that case.

In his speech, AG Holder said

Let me be clear: an operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful at least in the following circumstances: First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.

He then goes on to discuss what constitutes “imminent threat” and whether a capture is “feasible.” I’m not particularly impressed with his justifications for their definitions, and I’m not the only one, but my main problem goes even deeper. All of this discussion is based on one overarching concept with which I fundamentally disagree: That this is a “war.”

A lot of the discussions frame the conflict with al-Qa’ida (I’ll use the same spelling consistently in this post even though I have used other spellings in other posts) as a “war” and the justifications of how we use lethal force against Americans all speak of what we’re allowed to do in a “wartime situation.” This is very dangerous thinking because once you decide that you are engaged in a “war,” the door opens to do all kinds of things you would not ordinarily be allowed to do if you were not at “war.” In the same sense that if the only thing you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail, if you decide you are engaged in a war, everyone can look like an enemy soldier.

After long and careful thought, it is my very considered opinion that we should never have responded to the attacks of September 11, 2001, as if they were Acts of War, even though the perpetrators of those attacks considered them as such. I feel it was wrong of Congress to pass the Authorization for Use of Military Force, especially one so minimally but broadly stated. Under that AUMF, a president would have the authority to go after practically anyone because the decision on who to go after would be made solely by the president (as opposed to Congress or the Courts.). It says

the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

Anwar al-Awlaki, the American killed under the program discussed earlier, was not part of al-Qa’ida on September 11, nor did the al-Qa’ida in Yemen (or the Arabian Peninsula) exist at the time of the attacks. How they can be considered “co-belligerents” or even persons who aided the terrorist attacks confuses me. (This AUMF, BTW, was used as a justification for authority to invade Iraq even though they had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks, but let’s not even go there. The Congress foolishly left the determination of who we would attack to the president, and this authority was severely abused in the case of Iraq.) And yet the alleged authority to carry out these drone attacks against persons in Yemen supposedly stems from the AUMF. How can it? We have already strayed way too far in our excuses for why we are allowed to do what we’re doing, and it’s all because we have decided “we are a nation at war.” And we shouldn’t be.

Tragic and horrific though the 9/11 attacks may have been (and believe me, living about an hour and a half north of New York City, and knowing someone who lost relatives and friends in the attacks, and having personally witnessed the smoke rising from the rubble of the fallen Twin Towers, I know the horror of that day), they were still crimes, not Acts of War. And our nation’s response to them should have been appropriate to crimes. And you don’t send the full force of your military after people who broke the law. (After all, we are not a military police state.) Even in his speech, the Attorney General admitted that “we are not in a conventional war.” Do we have the right to defend ourselves against those who wish to do us harm? To a certain extent, yes, but that does not mean we can decide that we can send in our military to any country in the world and conduct war operations there. As much as some people would like to think it, we do not have the moral or legal authority to do whatever we want anywhere in world. I do not feel that terrorists should be treated like a nation state’s army. I believe that terrorists are criminals, guilty of committing, or planning to commit, horrible crimes, but they are not soldiers, and no matter how many guns they carry, they are not an army, and we shouldn’t wrap all our justifications for how we deal with them in the framework of a war. Because then there’s almost no end to what we feel justified in doing.

Usama bin Laden is dead. The hijackers who took over the planes that long ago day are dead. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the plots, is in custody. Why are we still “at war”? It cannot be because there are still terrorists in the world. There will always be terrorists and it’s impossible to kill or capture them all. The very fact that we keep sending unmanned drones in to kill alleged terrorists almost guarantees that more frustrated people will decide to join a terrorist organization near them in retaliation. Violence begets more violence. Something that never ceases to amaze me is the willingness of our citizens to use such deadly force and tactics, despite the fact that so many of these same people profess to be Christians. Didn’t Jesus say that if someone should slap our cheek we should offer him the other? How can so many people call themselves Christians and yet defy one of the main tenets of their religion?

There will always be people wanting to do harm to our nation and its citizens. We can’t just decide to call them all “terrorists” and convince ourselves the AUMF applies. The use of terrorism has always been a problem, and with advances in technology the danger has always increased over time. You’re never going to be able to kill everyone who wishes to conduct acts of terrorism, so when do we stop sending our military all over the world to kill them? When does it all end?

This is our daily open thread. The opinions expressed in this post reflect those of the author and not necessarily those of other members of The Zoo. Feel free to discuss this topic or any other.

Sunday Roast: The ghost of teabaggery past

This video is from earlier this year, when Allen West made his stunningly idiotic remark, “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

Aside from the hair-raising bad grammar, having publicly made such a statement is rather incredible — and just goes to show how out of hand our public discourse has become.  The new normal?  West’s remarks were generally reported in the media as just another crazy remark made by a crazy guy — if they were reported at all, outside the liberal blogosphere.

While Allen West’s grotesque remarks reminded Bill Moyers of the horrible Joe McCarthy, when his ghost “slithered into the room,” this video made me think of the more recent, and equally contemptible, behavior of Darrell Issa and his completely bogus witch hunt against Attorney General Eric Holder.

Who is today’s Joseph N. Welch?  Is there anyone on Capital Hill with the courage and integrity to say words to the effect of…

You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

I know we’ve been screaming it all along, but we’re just bloggers, you know.  The media doesn’t like to admit or acknowledge that bloggers now do their jobs, while they rake in the big bucks to say, “We’ll just have to leave it there.”

Bill Moyers ends his comments with this:

So beware, Congressman West, beware: In the flammable pool of toxic paranoia that passes these days as patriotism in America, a single careless match can light an inferno. You would serve your country well to withdraw your remarks and apologize for them. But if not, perhaps there are members of your own party, as possessed of conscience and as courageous as that handful of Republicans who took on Joseph McCarthy, who will now abandon fear and throw cold water on your incendiary remarks.

No, I don’t think there are any members of the Republican party who will stop the likes of Allen West, Steve King, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, etc.  As terrible as those times were in the McCarthy era, I believe they are worse now.  The Republicans have shown time after time that they are perfectly happy with the birtherism, tentherism, and racism of its more vocal extremists.  They will not shut the extremists down, nor will they ever disavow them in any convincing manner.  John Boehner and Mitch McConnell can barely conceal their glee and their “wink and a nod” toward the teabagger crowd.

And today’s media?  The band played on…

This is our daily open thread — Speak up!

Sanchez Condemns Fox News On Guns & Fear

A statement issued by Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General on January 15th: “This administration has no intention of doing anything that would affect a states regulation of firearms, or who could carry a firearm..  There is nothing that we have discussed, nothing is in planning, nothing I can imagine that we’re going to be doing in that regard.”

I don’t think Eric Holder left any grey area in that statement.  It is very cut and dry that the Obama administration is not taking anyone’s right to own a firearm away.

The sooner they close Guantanamo, the better..

This yesterday from Reuters, reporting from London:

Abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has worsened sharply since President Barack Obama took office as prison guards “get their kicks in” before the camp is closed, according to a lawyer who represents detainees.

Abuses began to pick up in December after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.

The Pentagon said on Monday that it had received renewed reports of prisoner abuse during a recent review of conditions at Guantanamo, but had concluded that all prisoners were being kept in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

“According to my clients, there has been a ramping up in abuse since President Obama was inaugurated,” said Ghappour, a British-American lawyer with Reprieve, a legal charity that represents 31 detainees at Guantanamo.

Continue reading

Senator Specter: Department of Justice needs to be “reprofessionalized”

Senator Arlen Specter responds to questions by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell regarding the choice of Eric Holder by President-elect Barack Obama for the US Attorney General.

Raw Story:

Specter said, “This business of wiretapping is not in order in accordance with Constitutional rights and where you have the immunity granted to the telephone companies, that is still a festering wound and some speculation as to whether that will be asserted by a new administration.”

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