Monday, May 13, 2013

Short attention span musing

...Congressman Darrell Issa and the Republicans have been conducting a major witch hunt into the attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.

If I thought that they were legitimately interested in preventing the unnecessary loss of American lives or addressing the safety of American diplomatic personnel, I could actually support the "inquiry".

However, given the huge number of attacks on US embassies during the Bush Administration that took place with little more than a peep from the Rs, the thousands of Americans (and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis) who have died in Halliburton's Wars for Enhanced Profits with nothing more than drumbeats for higher body counts from the Rs, and the 14 dead and 200 or so injured when a Texas fertilizer plant exploded after decades of neglect of safety measures without any interest in finding the root cause of the disaster and prevent future disasters expressed by the Rs, well, it's obvious that saving lives or preserving safety isn't the primary goal of Issa and the rest.

Smearing the current administration and presumed 2016 Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is.

Wonder if the witch hunt would be*enthusiastic*...if instead of the American taxpayer footing the bill, the actual beneficiary, the Republican National Committee had to pay for it?

...On this week's edition of Sunday Square Off on Phoenix channel 12, political consultant Chip Scutari predicted that current AZSOS Ken Bennett, who is "exploring" a run for governor next year, will instead challenge fellow Republican Paul Gosar for the CD4 seat and current AZ House speaker Andy Tobin (R-Paulden) will challenge Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in CD1.

Couldn't find any open committees yet, but each prediction, if accurate, makes a bit of sense.

Bennett faces a Republican primary regardless of the office he goes after.  The race for governor is a statewide race and his power base is in Yavapai County; 75% of the state's population is in Maricopa and Pima counties.  The CD4 race is a "district" race where not being from Maricopa or Pima county might actually help him win against Gosar, who is still viewed as a bit of a carpetbagger in the district.

Tobin is termed-out of the House and has to run for something else.  There were a few whispers that he was looking at a run for governor, like Bennett above.  However, like Bennett above, while he has a strong base of support in Yavapai County, that may not be a strong or broad enough foundation for a statewide run.  On the other hand, that base could set him up well for a run at a northern AZ Congressional district.

...The biggest story of the last week was news breaking out of an IRS office in Cincinnati that certain groups may have been targeted for extra scrutiny if the name of the group included words like "tea party" or "patriot".  Unsurprisingly, Republicans are outraged at the idea that conservative groups are subject to scrutiny because they are politically conservative. 

However, lost in their histrionics is the outrage of liberals, from the President down to the humblest of bloggers.  We all have seen liberal groups targeted for "special" treatment, from J. Edgar Hoover "investigating" everybody who was to the political left of Adolph Hitler to the recent partisan jihad against ACORN.  We know how abhorrently un-American and how damaging such ideologically-motivated witch hunts are.

If it turns out that there was some deliberate malfeasance, a deliberate violation of the American ideal of freedom of expression here, the IRS employees involved and everyone in their chain of command who knew of their misdeeds should lose their jobs.  At a minimum.

...Another story, perhaps one that may more genuinely represent a serious violation of an American ideal, this one of the freedom and independence of the press, broke Monday.

From the Associated Press, written by Mark Sherman - 
The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for the Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news.

The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.

In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
The AP letter protesting the Department of Justice's unprecedently broad intrusion is here.

Ummm...I don't know what to say about this that hasn't already been said, and far more eloquently than I'm able to, but let me advise any member of the DOJ who was a party to this to take a refresher course on the American Constitution and civil rights.

MIT offers one here.

Harvard Law School offers a number of related lectures here.

There are others out there if you think that MIT and Harvard aren't good enough.
Ummm2...OK, so it isn't going to be eloquent, but let me say this: the people at DOJ who were a part of this should join the IRS employees above in the unemployment line.  At a minimum.

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