Forty years ago today Richard Nixon tendered his resignation as president of the United States. The announcement was reportedly greeted with wild cheers throughout the capital, the sounds of which are said to have been carried all the way back to the White House itself. And while the humiliation President Nixon must have endured upon resigning must have been indescribable, he did so, by all accounts, with dignity and grace.
For what it’s worth, a recent poll commissioned by CNN released yesterday shows that, four decades after famously waving the American people goodbye before boarding Marine One for the last time, only about half of all respondents believe Watergate was a "serious" political scandal:
Fifty-one percent of those questioned say Watergate was a very serious matter because it revealed corruption in the Nixon administration, with 46% saying it was just politics - the kind of thing both parties engage in. The 51% is unchanged from 14 years ago, when CNN last asked the question.
And indeed, has been essentially unchanged since shortly after he left office. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that his resignation changed the course of world history (would, for example, Gerald Ford have ever served as president?) and reshaped the way we understand and discuss executive power and privilege.
I’ll leave you with this: President Nixon’s farewell address to White House staffers on the day of his resignation. Despite the somber atmosphere and Nixon’s disorganized delivery, it’s a classic speech to revisit and listen to on a day like today:
Democrats from red states are feeling the heat. Their constituents don’t like Obama, or his polices, and they have to somehow convince them that they’ll be somewhat independent when it comes to fighting for their interests.
Natalie Tennant, the Democratic candidate in West Virginia’s Senate race, is trying to disseminate that message of independene with this ad rebuking Obama’s energy policy. It was released at the end of July. She says that she’ll protect coal jobs in West Virginia and “stand up to leaders of both parties who threaten our way of life.” She then proceeds to turn off the power to the White House.
It’s strong stuff. But when asked about her support of Obama earlier this week by a disgruntled West Virginia resident at a Democratic campaign event, Tennant walked a waffled line. The gentleman on the video expressed frustration over the EPA’s new regulations.
While it didn’t help that a tracker captured this exchange, Tennant’s campaign manager, Major General Allen Tackett, didn’t do her any favors by interjecting saying that Tennant agrees with Obama on “most of his policies.” He later said he misspoke (via Metro News):
“They were right up in Natalie’s face and becoming very obnoxious. They kept saying, ‘Why do you support Obama? Why do you support Obama?’ I just tried to come to her defense and I made the statement, ‘Well, because she supports some of the policies’ and I misspoke,” Tackett said.
“(I said it) Just in the heat of the moment, just trying to defuse the situation.”
As the Charleston Daily Mail reported on August 5, Tennant isn’t your typical Democrat running this year. She’s against expanded background checks on firearms and the employer mandate of Obamacare. But, that might not be enough to carry her to victory this November, as she still carries the Democrat label. In 2010, that label virtually wiped out the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrat coalition in Congress due to the nation's negative reaction over the passage of Obamacare.
Yet, this exchange does capture what National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar was saying about authenticity and the role it’ll play in this election cycle. You can see how some people might find Tennant inauthentic given her interview on Fox And Friends last week:
On average, Tennant’s Republican opponent, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, is ahead in the polls with a comfortable nine-point lead. If Capito is elected this fall, she'll be the first Republican to hold a West Virginia Senate seat in nearly sixty-years.
What's up with Tapper lately?
David Coleman, current president of the College Board and lead architect of Common Core State Standards, has been accused of “inculcating a negative view of American history” in his proposed advanced placement curriculum. In a letter dated August 4, American Principles in Action and Concerned Women for America, presented an exhaustive list of how American oppressors and exploiters are highlighted while dreamers, innovators and heroes are left out.
The new material portrayed the colonists as bigoted and interpreted America’s attempt to spread democracy as “white racial superiority,” according to the letter:
The new Framework repeatedly ignores the heroism and sacrifices of America’s servicemen and women. For example, the Framework makes no mention of the sacrifices America’s Greatest Generation made to rescue much of the world from a long night of Nazi and Japanese tyranny. Instead, the Framework focuses solely on the negative aspects of America’s involvement in the war: “the internment of Japanese Americans, challenges to civil liberties, debates over race and segregation, and the decision to drop the atomic bomb raised questions about American values.”
Framework apologists have argued that the document is not intended to provide a comprehensive list of people and topics. But the expansion of the Framework from five to 98 pages makes it even more significant and troubling that American heroes such as Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Dwight Eisenhower, Jackie Robinson, Jonas Salk, Neil Armstrong, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have been excluded. While the document does not have room for these heroes it does have space for Chief Little Turtle, the Students for a Democratic Society, and the Black Panthers.
It is impossible to fit America's entire history into one curriculum. That being said, excluding key historic figures and events in our nation's history could be scarring to the some 500,000 high school sophomore and juniors who would use this curriculum annually.
January 21, 2009:
"The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable. The way to make government accountable is to make it transparent, so the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they're being well made, and whether their interests are being well served...For a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city. The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over, starting today."
That was then. This is now:
The IRS is missing emails. The EPA is missing emails. What's the latest agency to pull the "the dog ate my homework" card? An executive at the Department of Health and Human Services, Marilyn Tavenner, is claiming emails requested by the House Oversight Committee as part of an ongoing investigation into the Obamacare exchange and Healthcare.gov rollout, have been destroyed. The claim came around 5 p.m. Thursday. These same emails were subpoenaed 10 months ago by Congressional investigators.
A government website intended to make federal spending more transparent was missing at least $619 billion from 302 federal programs, a government audit has found. And the data that does exist is wildly inaccurate, according to the Government Accountability Office, which looked at 2012 spending data. Only 2% to 7% of spending data on USAspending.gov is "fully consistent with agencies' records," according to the report.
Independent watchdogs of dozens of federal agencies decried on Tuesday what they said were Obama administration efforts to delay or stall their investigations. A letter to Congress from a broad cross-section of inspectors general cites specific instances in which watchdogs for the Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency and the Peace Corps said they were denied timely access to documents and other information while doing their investigations. The letter says other inspectors general have faced similar obstacles, and that congressional action may be needed to ensure cooperation from government agencies. "Refusing, restricting, or delaying an Inspector General's access to documents leads to incomplete, inaccurate, or significantly delayed findings or recommendations, which in turn may prevent the agency from promptly correcting serious problems and deprive Congress of timely information regarding the agency's performance," the letter states.
Journalists have accused the Obama White House of running the most secretive administration since Nixon. Last month, a coalition of 38 journalism groups slammed the White House for its "politically-driven suppression of the news." The list goes on, and on, and on, and on...
UPDATE - Another round of US strikes:
Air strike two -> Four F/A 18s - eight bombs destroying 7 vehicles and a mortar position— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) August 8, 2014
The crisis gripping Iraq escalated rapidly on Thursday with a re-energized Islamic State in Iraq and Syria storming new towns in the north and seizing a strategic dam as Iraq’s most formidable military force, the Kurdish pesh merga, was routed in the face of the onslaught. The loss of the Mosul Dam, the largest in Iraq, to the insurgents was the most dramatic consequence of a militant offensive in the north, which has sent tens of thousands of refugees, many from the Yazidi minority, fleeing into a vast mountainous landscape. In one captured town, Sinjar, ISIS executed dozens of Yazidi men, and kept the dead men’s wives for unmarried jihadi fighters. Panic on Thursday spread even to the Kurdish capital of Erbil, long considered a safe haven, with civilians flooding the airport in a futile attempt to buy tickets to Baghdad.
In short, a worst case scenario is playing out in Iraq, and the United States is trying to play catch-up to extinguish some of the fresh fires. Innocent Iraqis are terrified. A group worse than Al Qaeda is on the march and gaining steam, armed with American weapons taken from unprepared Iraqi forces. This was all predictable and avoidable. But for years, the Obama administration placed political considerations above national interests. Obama wanted to fulfill a popular campaign promise and pull out from Iraq completely, and he didn't let pesky details like securing a crucial status of forces agreement stand in his way. The world is now witnessing the bloody consequences of those decisions, and Obama is sufficiently cornered by his own actions that he's done the unthinkable: Re-engaging a war he's made a career out of opposing. In another irony, Obama's power to intervene is laid out in Congress' original Authorization of Military Force in Iraq, which the White House has actively sought to vitiate. This was their position as recently as last week. Moving forward with strikes is the right decision, and Obama should be commended for making it -- but the context that has forced his hand cannot be ignored.The question now becomes how far the US is prepared to take this mission. White House officials have been quoted as alternatively describing it as "very limited" in nature, and a "very long campaign." The top US military leader in Iraq is calling for the neutralization and defeat of ISIS:
The violent advances of Islamic militants in Iraq is not an isolated problem but rather a “growing global challenge” that needs to be dealt with, the top American general in Iraq told Army Times. “We must neutralize this enemy,” said Army Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek, chief of the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq in a Wednesday phone interview. “This is not just an Iraqi issue. This is not just a regional issue. This is a common enemy issue that we’ve got to address.” Islamic State fighters have advanced across the northern and western parts of Iraq, seizing control of cities such as Mosul and Fallujah. Estimated to have about 10,000 fighters across Syria and Iraq, the militants have consolidated control over large swaths of territory during the past several weeks. The group “is not just a violent extremist organization,” Bednarek said. “This is an army, and it takes an army to defeat an army.”
At least one powerful Democrat is echoing those sentiments, warning that the extremist threat isn't limited to the Middle Eastern region:
Feinstein says ISIS is recruiting fighters in Western countries, training them to possibly return to carry out attacks on Europe & America.— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) August 8, 2014
Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Iraq and ISIS: "It takes an army to defeat an army..."— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) August 8, 2014
Welcome to the Iraq War 3.0 -- what will it look like, and how long will it last?
The "D-list actor" started it. In case you missed the latest high profile feud, actor/comedian Russell Brand recently started a YouTube program called “The Trews,” in which he offers his opinion on current events. Last week, his cyber show turned personal when Brand gave a harsh review of Sean Hannity’s Fox News interview with anti-Israel activist Yousef Munayyer.
Hannity challenged Munayyer when he refused to say whether or not Hamas was a terrorist organization. The host became understandably frustrated when his guest couldn’t answer the simple question. In a 12-minute tirade, however, Brand accused the host of wanting to exacerbate conflict with his style of questioning. That’s when the name calling began:
"Who in that situation was behaving like a terrorist? Using intimidation, bullying, being unreasonable? Sean Hannity. That’s where the terrorism is coming from."
Hannity responded to Brand’s hateful comments by fearlessly calling the actor “dumb and ignorant” and “educating” him on the conflict between Hamas and Israel, pointing out that Hamas started the hostilities by firing 3,000 rockets into Israel. His guest panelists may have had different opinions on the Middle East conflict, but all seemed to share Hannity's opinion of Brand.
Not to be outdone, Brand produced another video even more incendiary than the last, full of snark and sacrilege. In his own panel, Brand used a pot of flowers, and puppets of Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi to weigh in on the Israel v. Hamas debate. The actor insisted he was trying to promote “peace” and accused Hannity and his panel of treating the serious situation as a "game."
Brand’s “news” program features a picture of a dog with a ridiculous theme playing in the background: “Let’s have some trews!” Who exactly is treating important issues like a joke?
Then Brand - Russell Brand - offered Hannity some life advice.
“Sean, you’re a human being. Come back to humanity. You’ve lost yourself, mate,” Brand said. “Tonight when you go home, look in the mirror for a little while, take a deep breath, remember how you were as a child, remember how you feel about the people you love, remember that all human beings everywhere, they have those sensations and those feelings, try and speak from a perspective of love not from vengeance and hatred.”
Because nothing says “peace” and “love” like calling someone a fictional cartoon and a terrorist. What Mr. Brand, did you expect Hannity to sit quietly after you called him a terrorist?
Sir, take your own advice.
To my knowledge, only one news organization has been granted behind-the-scenes access to The Islamic State (IS) – the group sometimes referred to and formerly known as ISIS. Vice News embedded one of their journalists with some of IS' foot soldiers, and through his purview, we learn a great deal about the group's deranged and death-obsessed ideology. Above all, they’re determined to establish an Islamic State across the Middle East and, eventually, the entire world. As a spokesman for the group told Vice News: “I say to America that the Islamic Caliphate has been established. And we will not stop. Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House.”
These jihadists, it must be said, are the same cretins who have been slaughtering, raping and enslaving Iraq’s ethnic minorities in the north, and, as you will see in the video below, beheading and mutilating regime soldiers in both Syria and Iraq. They recruit and brainwash children, too, all of whom are susceptible to fundamentalism and their distorted Islamic worldview. Normally, I wouldn’t post such a graphic video on our website, but now that the US is committed militarily to ending the atrocities perpetrated by IS in Iraq, it’s important for the public to know exactly what we’re up against.
Needless to say, this video contains graphic violence, and is intended for mature audiences only:
(1) By my unofficial count, this is the seventh ceasefire or truce that Hamas has rejected, violated, or broken since the current conflict began last month. The genesis of this war, by the way, was the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers, perpetrated by a Hamas-funded terrorist cell in the West Bank. When Israeli entered the West Bank in search of the perpetrators (local Palestinians pelted the ambulance carrying the boys' bodies with rocks), Hamas stepped up its rocketing campaign targeting Israeli civilians. That bombardment has been going on for years, ticking up ever since Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza in 2005. Israel responded with force, culminating in the land incursion aimed at destroying Hamas' network of terror tunnels -- the purpose of which was to bypass Israel's weapons blockade, and to allow militants to slip into Israel to carry out attacks. The tunnels were built over a period of years, using supplies earmarked for projects such as schools and infrastructure construction. Child labor was reportedly exploited to built the passageways, reportedly resulting in approximately 160 deaths during the treacherous process.
(2) Hamas explicitly warned that it was preparing to resume its rocketing as soon as the latest 72-hour ceasefire expired. In fact, it looks like a miscue may have accidentally blown up a few of their own men in preparation for the resumption of hostilities. They ended up not just breaking the pause, but outright violating the temporary truce. Again. Perhaps they don't have functioning clocks, or perhaps they had itchy trigger fingers, or perhaps Hamas doesn't have control over the hive of violent radicals that pervade the Gaza strip. Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Egyptian government were all in favor of an unconditional extension of the truce. Hamas said no. Israel is now fighting back. By the way, a New York Times analysis of recent casualties in Gaza determines that the most disproportionately represented demographic group among the dead are…young men in their 20's -- a.k.a. the people most likely to fit the militant profile. Women and children under the age of 15, meanwhile, "were the most underrepresented." Why, it's almost as if Israel has been going to extraordinary lengths to narrowly target terrorists and avoid civilian collateral damage -- even as Hamas uses the latter group as human shields, firing salvos from crowded neighborhoods, storing rockets inside UN schools, and using a crowded hospital as a command center.
(3) The most depressing and most elementary reality is this: The Hamas radicals don't want peace. Their demands are slippery and ever-shifting; most recently, they're insisting that Israel lift its blockade in such a way that would allow Hamas to re-arm, unfettered, so they could gear up for the next war. (Israel already allows food, medicine, fuel, and legitimate commercial goods to pass through. Israel also provides much of the strip's electricity). The spokesman that Hamas has selected to represent them in Western media has been unable to answer questions about his own insane blood libel against Jews, nor has he backed away from they group's charter, which openly calls for genocide. If Hamas would simply acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and renounce violence, they would have peace. But they don't. People who reflexively blame Israel for the other side's genocidal hatred are flat-out siding with terrorism and barbarity over pluralism, peace and democracy.
As the World Burns: Obama’s “Stupid Stuff” Foreign Policy and its Disastrous Effects | Gayle Trotter