Tag Archive: Republicans

Republicans shockingly partisan at Sally Yates Russia hearing

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Sally Yates, then Deputy Attorney General, in 2016

Republicans in Congress perhaps exceeded even their own partisan reputation at yesterday’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism entitled “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election.” The hearing featured Sally Yates, who was Acting Attorney General in the Trump administration until she was fired on January 30 of this year. Also appearing at the hearing was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Each of these witnesses has decades of experience serving in the government under presidents of both parties, and both have knowledge about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections. For example, both witnesses know about Michael Flynn, a campaign advisor and then National Security Advisor under Donald Trump for just a few weeks, until February 13. Flynn, a principal subject of the hearing, was fired after the Washington Post reported that he lied about his telephone calls with Russian officials, including Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, where the two discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia for interfering in the U.S. election that had just taken place. Yates testified at yesterday’s hearing that, in January of this year, she had urgent meetings and calls with Trump White House attorneys about Flynn, and that she recommended that action be taken regarding Flynn, because he was causing Vice President Mike Pence to lie to the American people about Flynn’s discussions with the Russians, and because Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail from Russia over his lies.

However, many of the Republican Senators on the panel did not seem to want to know about Russian involvement in our election. Instead, they criticized the “leaks” that led to the disclosure of Flynn’s activities, as well as the “unmasking” of Flynn. Part of what is shocking about the Republicans’ behavior at the hearing is that, had Flynn not been identified, he might still be National Security Advisor and would still be, as Yates explained, compromised by Russia.

Guns versus terror

Statue of Liberty with gun

Statue of Liberty with gun

In the ongoing war between the political right and left to control the national dialogue, the latest battle involves conservatives talking about terror and liberals talking about guns. We saw this on display during last Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, as the news headlines reported that “Terror takes center stage during Republican debate.” Likewise, terrorism but also gun safety law solutions took center stage at last Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate, as the ABC News moderators asked questions seemingly ripped from the Republican book of talking points.

The real American terrorists

Anti-NRA protest

Anti-NRA protest

We have a terrorism problem in America, and it isn’t Syrian refugees. The FBI defines “domestic terrorism” as actions that:

  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

Right wing domestic terrorist acts, such as the recent shootings at the Colorado Springs, Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, as well as four arsons in 74 days at other Planned Parenthood clinics, meet the definition. The same can be said about previous politically-motivated killings and attacks, such as the shooting of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, bombings, arson and attacks on abortion clinics, the attacks on black churches and their members, the shootings at the Sikkh temple in Wisconsin, attacks on mosques and Islamic centers, and attacks on LBGT Americans.

Terrorist terminology: what to call our enemies

Syrian refugee family arriving in Greece -- not our enemy

Syrian refugee family arriving in Greece — not our enemy

In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, the long-running debate about what to call our terrorist enemies has been renewed. This language battle also has strong political overtones.

Those on the right seem to have no problem using broad terms, which can discredit the entire religion of Islam. Their current preferred terminology is “radical Islam.” For example, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio says “we are at war with radical Islam.” Likewise, fellow candidate Lindsey Graham says that “the whole world is a battlefield and radical Islam is everywhere.” Graham even said, after last January’s Charlie Hebdo attack in France, that “we’re in a religious war.”

In Paris attack, Republicans draw first blood

Second Life commemorates the Paris attacks the next day

Second Life commemorates the Paris attacks the next day

The terrorist attack perpetrated in Paris on Friday night was shocking. Also shocking, however, was the speed in which Republicans and conservatives made ugly public statements to score political points. For example, a number of the Republican presidential candidates, not surprisingly, blamed President Obama. Donald Trump, doubling down on a statement he made last January after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, said the problem was too many gun laws in France. Ann Coulter tweeted that “Donald Trump was elected tonight.” Coulter explained in other tweets that Trump’s anti-immigration policies for America somehow would prevent the type of terrorist attack that occurred in Paris. Newt Gingrich, like Trump, suggested that the Paris attacks could have been thwarted by “10 to 15 citizens with concealed carry permits.” And conservative writer Judith Miller (who is infamous for cheerleading George W. Bush‘s Iraq War in the New York Times) almost incoherently tried to use the Paris attack to argue why black American college students should have no problem with racial discrimination against them.

Bypass the corporate mainstream media

Dick Cheney, CNN's go-to right wing apologist

Dick Cheney, CNN’s go-to right wing apologist

In 2015, the traditional news media — what we call the Corporate Mainstream Media — have continued to move to the right, in some cases sharply so. These television and newspaper media outlets are no longer reliable conveyors of facts that Americans need to make decisions at the voting booth and elsewhere. We should ditch these corporate mainstream media. Instead, we need to become our own news aggregators.

Here are some of the many examples of the mainstream news media’s rightward drift:

Republicans pummeled by two hurricanes

President George W. Bush's "Brownie" moment, Sept. 2, 2005

President George W. Bush’s “Brownie” moment, Sept. 2, 2005

The anniversaries of Hurricane Katrina (landfall in Louisiana August 29, 2005) and Hurricane (Superstorm) Sandy (landfall in New Jersey August 29, 2012) represent a perfect storm that continues to damage the Republican Party. Katrina showed President George W. Bush‘s detachment, and the criminally negligent incompetence behind his administration’s hands-off conservative Republican governing philosophy (“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”) Sandy is said to have helped President Barack Obama win and the Democrats do well in the 2012 elections, but that’s only true if one rejects the Republicans’ “government is bad” frame and accepts the Democrats’ “good government” philosophy. Apparently, many Americans have done just that.

Trump the builder, Trump the destroyer

Time magazine's latest Donald Trump cover

Time magazine’s latest Donald Trump cover

It seems like there are two Donald Trumps. New Yorkers came to know Trump beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Trump took on massive building projects, as well as massive city and state bureaucracies, and usually succeeded. This includes building the Trump Tower; renovating the old Commodore Hotel next to Grand Central Station and turning it into the black-glassed Grand Hyatt; and rebuilding the Wollman ice skating rink in Central Park after New York City officials failed for years to accomplish the task. Trump also navigated strict New Jersey licensing requirements to build casinos in Atlantic City. Moreover, long before Donald Trump became a politician, in taking on all the challenges of these building projects, Trump loved to criticize politicians.

Iowa Fair

Trump copter

Trump helicopter

One advantage of America’s long presidential campaign is that, eventually, each candidate’s character, intelligence and fitness to be president (or lack thereof) emerges. That process is currently on display at the Iowa State Fair. Thanks to C-SPAN, we can see and hear the candidates in Iowa, in long form.

Donald Trump showed up in his TRUMP-badged helicopter. No stranger to branding, Trump spoke with his helicopter in the background, a symbol of power and status similar to a president standing in front of Air Force One. In a bright red hat with his slogan “Make America Great Again,” Trump aggressively addressed or swatted away reporters’ questions, attacking his rivals, especially John Ellis Bush, in the process. Then Trump handed out helicopter rides to local kids and their moms, posing for selfies. Trump may know more about what the American people want than anybody in this presidential race.

Big enough Republican primary vehicle finally found

Republican Clown Town

Republican Clown Town

In years past, the parade of Republicans running for higher speaking fees, book sales and Fox News contracts a/k/a running for the Republican nomination for president, has been referred to as the Clown Car. This year, there are so many potential GOP candidates that they need a bigger vehicle. Say hello to Clown Town!