If you’ve read my blogs thus far – you’re probably thinking I’m some dyed-in-the-wool bleeding heart liberal. I went to a liberal arts college, have a degree in Journalism and Political Science, started a MS in International Politics with a concentration in Europe and the Middle East. You probably think I bleed blue and my favorite political animal is a donkey.
You’d be wrong.
I’m actually a registered Republican, and have been all my adult life. I’m the child of a military family, and traditionally the GOP has been stronger in those values and valuing the military and their dependents as well as the communities they represent.
Lately, however, I’ve been tempted to just go “independent”. The repeated efforts of the congress to do nothing but try and impeach the president, the birthers, and the far-right nuts have made me wonder why these anti-government individuals have gotten into government jobs at all.
Benghazi – the entire outrage and weeks of wasted hearings on talking points is making the entire nation just flat our exhausted. Where was the concern when the embassy in Kenya was attacked? What about the other 40+ violent incidents against diplomats globally during the Bush II administration? Nobody politicized those to this level.
Increasingly it seems like the GOP was becoming the party of satire, meme central. “The opposite of pro is con, therefore the opposite of progress is congress.”
And then the proverbial poo hit the fan. A double-whammy of WTF that makes even the most liberal of news watchers say “holy shit what was that?”
That the president is on national television, in a press briefing, saying “well I learned of it from press reports” does nothing but undermine his appearance as someone capable of leading. Are you that out of the loop? Really? Don’t you have cabinet members and advisers who are supposed to tell you what the hell is going on in the country before you read it in the morning paper?
The ultra-right needed no help with conspiracy theories, so the IRS and the Justice Department gave them some to really sink their teeth into.
I’ll start first with the one that hits closest to home. I used to be a news reporter, and AP stringer for elections coverage. I worked in the community surrounding the largest military base/complex in the nation, if not world. I was raised on military bases and know the true meaning of military security, top secret, eyes only, and the like.
So my entire life has been a balancing act, between my curiosity as an American and a journalist, and the child of a military man who knows the guys whose lives are on the line. The husband of one of my high school’s English teachers died in the Gulf War, on a C-130 that went missing. I was part of the press corps at 17 when VP Quayle came. (And lemme tell you, the secret service is good at vetting!) Years later when the Khobar Towers complex was bombed by terrorists in Saudi Arabia, the majority of the victims were at the base I lived near. Friends of mine lost co-workers and buddies. I stood between Wolf Blitzter and the British guy from that old news magazine A Current Affair when Clinton came to the memorial.
Balancing security interests versus the public’s right to know is difficult. But the reason the first amendment is the FIRST amendment is that the right to speak, and know, is the most important right and responsibility of the American citizenry and press to keep tyrants from running amok in our government. Guns are the second resort, not the primary one as the NRA would have folks believe, to words and knowledge, in keeping our nation free.
So last year, when the AP reported information from confidential sources, presumably within the CIA, who told them a plot to bomb the US as an anniversary retaliation for Bin Laden’s death, in my eyes, it was a good thing. We know that people are trying to keep 9/11 from happening again. Agencies are talking to each other, and the bad guys are getting stopped.
As the story is unfolding, it turns out multiple AP reporters and editors, at multiple locations, had their phones tapped and checked in an effort to find the whistleblowers. In my opinion that’s a gross overreach of the Justice Department’s purview in the guise of “national security.”
That said, it’s also becoming apparent that the mole hunt was at the urging of the same neo-con war hawks who are decrying the Justice Department actions. When it was learned of the leak a year ago, they demanded Obama’s administration go after the leaks because it was a national security threat. Eric Holder, the attorney general, recused himself and assigned special prosecutors to do just what the GOP-controlled house demanded … to find the source of the leak.
And now that it’s become public just how far the special prosecutors went, without supervision, the same politicos are calling for Holder’s head.
Here’s what chaps my ass – when Valerie Plame was outed by Scooter Libbey, Dick Cheney’s right-hand-man, there was no ruckus like this from the right. In fact they tried to keep an investigation of the leak from happening. It’s these same guys who demanded Obama’s administration find the leak though and independent investigation, and the same guys purporting outrage that they actually did.
You cannot have it both ways.
Case in point, the Watergate era. The mother of all scandals, where the leak on the Pentagon papers ultimately jailed more than 40 and brought down an administration. Watergate was bigger and worse on so many levels. Not only was it a leak hunt and wire tapping issue, but it additionally involved the implicit knowledge and direction of then-President Nixon, burglaries, and coverups of all involved. Just because someone shared the real costs of Vietnam with the NYT, because they felt the American people had the right to know.
This is why there are reporter shield laws, this is why there are whistle-blower laws. And at the same time, the politicians calling for impeachment and Eric Holder’s head because they resorted to targeting the press to find the leak — are the same congressional members who stripped the press of protections.
Bear with the first couple minutes of Maddow’s A-block from last night, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26315908/#51885608.
It explains how the Pentagon Papers tie into the AP and DoJ issues going on right now, and how some politicians are trying to have their cake and eat it too. And her fishing story’s kinda neat as well.
This too goes a bit to the IRS debacle.
Sometime ago, PACs figured out they could register as non-profit corporations and take advantage of 501c status to get around reporting donors and amounts, using tax code that they’re organizations that focus on social welfare. The tax laws weren’t written that way, and when Citizens United was decided by the Supreme Court in 2010, the floodgates were opened. Thousands of PACS registered as non-profit, social welfare groups to hide who their actual funding was.
Seems in Cincinnati’s IRS branch, a couple employees of the IRS decided that groups identifying themselves as anything with “Patriot” or “Tea Party” applying for the charity non-profit designation got ridiculous extra scrutiny.
What tweaks me about this issue isn’t that the Tea Party or Patriot PACs received extra attention, it’s that EVERYONE should have. Any group with a political motivation and affiliation trying to pass itself off as a charity non-profit focused on social welfare should get scrutinized. Maybe not quite to the level that these groups were, but it’s such an obvious and glaring affront to real social welfare oriented charities PACs as a whole should be disallowed a 501c designation. Period.
And it’s not as if this is the first time in history political forces have tried to use the tax arm of the government to influence outcomes. As recently in 2008, the IRS went the other way and tried to remove the NAACP’s designation as a 501c because of its political endorsements. Nevermind all the other social work the organization does, but remove the tax status and donor anonymity because they also have some political input. The groups targeted by the IRS this time around, are the exact opposite – agencies formed primarily for political work and doing the minimal in social welfare to get the designation.
What makes me chuckle is my senator, Marco Rubio, calling for the IRS director’s resignation. Yeah, the problem with that, is congress hasn’t approved the appointment yet, so there’s no director. And the guy in charge during the IRS mess in Cincinnati – was a GWBush appointee who quit last year. Good job slick. Way to make Florida, yet again, the place where political reason comes to die.
That said, hopefully heads will roll. I think Eric Holder was on thin ice after the F&F mess last year. Clearly he’s lost control of the DoJ.
And as likable a guy as Jay Carney is – the press office at the white house is as astute at media handling as a kindergartner at show & tell.
Obama, dammit, get pro-active. Quit reacting to all the crap going on behind your back. Demand your people tell you what is going on before it happens and get out ahead of it. It will keep the transparency you promised and put the crazies back in the cage.