My apologies for not blogging this week! I am currently in Ohio after attending a family wedding. I will be continuing my travels this week but hope to post again next Sunday from Indiana. Until then, please allow me to recover from the recent SCOTUS decisions that have left me more disappointed in the High Court than ever! Have a great week.
Every time I go away for a week, I find myself trying to find time to stay in touch with current news cycles and it was no different during this past week while I was in Salt Lake City, Utah working as a Reader for the Educational Testing Service/College Board. While I was away, we learned from the Pew Research Center that more and more Americans see those not sharing their political beliefs as being "dangerous for America" (instead of viewing them as having a different, yet legitimate perspective on matters). Just yesterday, someone I was having lunch quipped that "there are two political parties in America, one that wants to take everything away from you and give it to others and one where they believe in hard work and individual success." With this simplistic and truly biased view of the existing mainstream political parties, it is no wonder that we as Americans are more divided than ever (ignoring the reality that both political parties are deeply engaged in selling out America to the highest special interest bidders). See http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/06/12/7-things-to-know-about-polarization-in-america/.
We also learned this past week that the ring leader of the Benghazi tragedy was captured and virtually all of Lois Lerner's IRS emails disappeared. Knowing I had very little time available to review the "breaking news" of these events, my roommate at the Reading tuned into Fox News daily for his "alerts." I know, you all have heard it time and time again, but no one can accuse me of not paying attention to Right Wing Media. In fact, I have not tuned into Left Wing Media in quite some time (unless you truly believe the New York Times is nothing more than a "Liberal Rag" and instead boast that Glenn Beck's The Blaze, Newsmax and Fox News are the only "neutral" sources of "real news"). Clearly, they are not.
But back to my point. After months and months of GOP investigations into Benghazi, the Far Right seems intent to constantly bang the drum that Obama is a "liar" (again and again) not because we "left the Ambassador to die without military protection" (the CIA was there to quell the attack, albeit too late to save lives), but because Obama's White House initially called the attack a response to an Anti-Islam film. While scoffing at the mere notion of the statement, GOP opponents latched their entire investigation onto the statement, as if it was covering up a failure to respond in some "Hollywood Rambo" type manner. In reality, most Americans have become so confused by the Media (they believe the attack in Benghazi was an attack on our embassy where much more security resides) rather than on a consulate (where there is inherently less security). But instead of investigating what really happened, the GOP engaged in determining whether Obama's Administration lied about the cause of the attack. With 20-20 hindsight, instead of leaning on finding ways to improve embassy and consulate security, the investigation targets who said what, when did they say it and why did the Administration call it one thing when it appears to be something otherwise? Except, the Obama White House has not changed their story. Not even once. Obama labeled the attack on Benghazi as an act of terror, but initially reports indicated the attack was caused by local bands of militants inflamed by the incendiary video (as claimed by the Obama folks). So, the entire "investigation" into the Obama White House and Benghazi is really focused only on the continued belief that Obama lied about the cause of the attack in order to defeat Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 nominee for president (most folks recall the exchange between Romney and Obama during the presidential debates).
Okay Rubin, we know Obama lied. We know he is a liar. We know this because the Media has been telling us this since 2008 (and before he was even elected as president). He needs to be stopped and stopped now before he ruins America. Except since 2008, the wealthy have become wealthier and the stock markets have reached all-time highs. The economy (albeit slowly) is recovering and the annual growth in deficits has slowed. Unemployment is as low as it was when Obama took office and the ACA is now operational where more than half of the participants are receiving health care insurance for the first time (see; http://kff.org/uninsured/). But Obama remains the "Liar in Chief" because the Ideologically Oriented For-Profit Media says so! So what's your point then?
Despite the fact that talking points and narratives have created a context that Obama cannot be trusted (remember, he's after all of your guns too), real facts have emerged proving the initial belief the attack on Benghazi was in fact stirred up from the anti-Islam video. According to The New York Times, the ringleader of the attack (recently captured in Libya...Obama is so weak, he couldn't bring the folks in Benghazi to justice..err, never mind) "On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy’s walls — images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world. As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him." Hmm, if the entire Benghazi "Scandal" is based upon a planned misrepresentation of the video as the cause for the tragedy to avoid embarrassment by Romney and the GOP just before the election, imagine what impact an admission by the ring-leader of the attacks might bring to the "Scandal" that the video was the spark for the attack? Just Imagine! Like anything else these days, the Media has already concluded Obama is a Liar and cannot be trusted, just look at the IRS scandal then (cue political pivot)! As we learn more and more about the truth, society (driven by media and their ideologically oriented talking points and narratives), cannot wait to move onto the next shiny object of "Scandal" instead of hashing out the truth for us all. Where is the overwhelming coverage that the actual ring leader of the attacks states the video was the cause for the unrest to become a full fledged attack on the consulate? Why should real facts get in the way of a real good story, embellished to excite and titillate the viewing public?
Just this past week, it was learned that former IRS Commissioner Lois Lerner's emails have "gone missing" and how suspicious this is considering the House of Representatives are demanding to know everything surrounding the investigation of conservative groups seeking non-profit Super PAC status (ignoring the fact that ALL such groups, conservative and liberal were being investigated). While watching Fox News this past week as the lost emails became "breaking news" I learned that the emails first went missing in 2011, close to two years before the House IRS investigation. More importantly, Fox News provided a copy of emails from Lois Lerner herself desperately asking the IRS Information Technology staff to find her missing emails and to safeguard them. Seems Lerner (a G.W. Bush appointee) was irate her emails had disappeared and demanded they not only be found, but also safeguarded from any further losses of data. Hmm, for me I thought Fox had finally done something appropriate. They revealed information that clearly evidenced Ms. Lerner was engaged in demanding that her emails be recovered and be safeguarded. But that was not enough! Nope. They then dedicated the remaining 45 minutes of the show by painting the worst picture of the Administration and Lerner possible. They spent the remainder of the show by starting every sentence with "IF".... "If Lerner destroyed the emails herself." "If Obama told Lerner to destroy the emails." "If the IRS purposely destroyed the emails to avoid Congressional inquiry (two years later) than Obama should be impeached!" Ah, the moment of truth. Providing evidence that there is absolutely no wrongdoing, but then speculating that had things been different, THEN we would have a "real scandal" on our hands. Except, there IS a real scandal here. The scandal is not that Lerner intentionally dumped her emails to avoid investigation. The real scandal is the fact that the IRS utilizes archaic technologies that are prone to dumping data and emails. Shouldn't there be an investigation into how it is even remotely possible the IRS could sustain such a sloppy record keeping system? For the critics of the government's failure to successfully roll out ACA last Fall, how can they now be so reluctant to accept the fact that many government computer systems are archaic and are prone to failures? If someone can criticize and revel in the computer failures of the ACA rollout, then why can't they seem more concerned about it happening with the IRS (instead of building conspiracy theories that always result in another Obama "Scandal")? See http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-16/the-irs-scandal-tempest-and-the-tea-party.
With the 2014 Midterm elections staring us in the face, with the 2016 Presidential elections rapidly approaching, wouldn't it make more sense to begin focussing on solutions that American desperately needs, like re-uniting a heavily divided nation? Like upgrading our government's computer systems and infrastructure? Like allocating funds to rebuilt America's electric, highway, rail and internet infrastructure? Like dealing with immigration with compassion and reality? Like recognizing true threats to our national security? Like providing higher education to all without forcing many into eventual bankruptcy? Isn't it time for the Media to be honest with Americans and hold themselves to the standard they demand of others? To tell the truth without bias? To educate and inform without seeking to rile up the ignorant and gullible? To prove the reality that both mainstream political parties continue to maneuver in ways to maintain their stronghold on authority in government. As President Thomas Jefferson once wrote; "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." America has a long way to go when it comes to informing the masses, but the Media sure could make that route shorter! Have a great week!
Just a reminder, I am currently reading for the Educational Testing Service/College Board's Advanced Placement United States Government and American Politics Exam in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a result, I have extremely limited time to do anything but score exams, eat and sleep. My apologies for not posting anything of real value today, however, I wish my father, Jean Rubin, my Father-In-Law Marvin Goldstein and my Son-In-Law, Dr. Ephraim Hollander and to all my friends and loyal followers, Happy Father's Day! See you next week! Be well!
There's the funny joke of the argument between a pessimist and an optimist. The Pessimist says, "It can't get any worse" and the optimist says, "Oh yes it can!" Just this past week, I found that after all of the nonsense spewed by the Media manipulating an uneducated electorate, things actually can and are getting worse! I mean, after all the vitriol infused political rhetoric tossed about since 2008, one would think that facts and reality would trump the incessant "the sky is falling" nonsense. But, nooo, the Media can't allow the shiny objects known as political theater to ever leave the forefront of political manipulation. I know, "there you go again Rubin, spouting the same old nonsense about manipulation. Isn't it time to get off that train?" To which I respond, if that runaway train is America and I have any chance to slow it down so that it does not derail, then yes, I will continue to point out the nonsense our politicians and their supporting media spew at Americans on a daily basis.
Just this past week, a former colleague wrote on Facebook that "President Obama will be the first sitting president sent to jail at the end of his term of office!" Huh? For what? More importantly, what would motivate anyone to actually publicly state such an opinion (when I say colleague, I do not mean a professor of Political Science or American History...he's a former Science teacher - and I wonder where he stands on climate change)? Letters to the Editor have taken a even more severe turn. One just yesterday stated that "America cannot survive another two years of Obama, and he needs to go!" But where should Obama go? And under what means is a duly democratically elected president supposed to be "removed" from office? Impeachment - we know getting 2/3 of the Senate to vote for conviction is virtually impossible - especially since there is NO evidence Obama has done anything to violate his oath of office. So what gives? I call it "Foot in Mouth Disease." You see, folks are reacting to stories designed to manipulate their emotions without stimulating their (now lazy) brains. Instead of seeing through the manipulation, they readily "buy into it" because it somehow makes them feel empowered while facing an otherwise difficult reality.
When high profile "Moocher and Taker" Clyde Bundy stirred up a bunch of gun toting anti-government nut jobs, the Right Wing Media immediately came out to support his efforts, even before realizing that Bundy had for years been heard in courts of law and found guilty. Before investigating the fact that his claims of land ownership predated statehood were outright lies, Sean Hannity of Fox News embraced him and his followers as "Patriots." Anything that appears to smack down the federal government (ie., Barack Obama), is "red meat" and a "dog whistle" to stir the pot of anti, well, anything, as long as it charges the emotions of their audience. We all know what happened with Bundy after he used Fox as his stage for proclaiming his "thoughts" on the benefits of slavery for African Americans. As if the collective nonsense of accumulated distortions was not enough (Fast and Furious, the IRS, and of course Benghazi), we now have the "rush to judgment" against Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and whether it was worth the expense of gaining his release from the Taliban in Afghanistan. Except, I know not one person that actually knows anything about Sgt. Bergdahl, but that does not stop the Media machine from its efforts to tell us what the guy was all about and what Obama wrongfully did to seek and obtain his release from his captors. Once again, Obama acted "illegally" for seeking the return of an American soldier held in captivity.
But, but, but...but what? He was a deserter! He is a coward! He is a traitor! But did he desert? Is he a coward? Perhaps he is, but what do we actually know about Bowe Bergdahl and his capture and subsequent release? Obviously, very little. So why do folks in the Media spurn on the electorate with misinformation and distortions based upon supposition and hearsay instead of real facts? Because it fits their political motivations and objectives. And to most thinking folks, this knee jerk reactionary punditry is getting tired and worn out. Case in point. Folks actually believe that Obama should be impeached for "illegally" negotiating with terrorists for the release of a traitor. Yet, the Media has purposely omitted some critical facts in this matter - like the very law Obama has allegedly violated, was accompanied by a Signing Statement and pursuant to that Signing Statement, the president reserved the right to act without Congressional knowledge or authority in the event "exigent" or "emergency" circumstances warrant said actions. Is there any wonder why Obama has continually pointed out the need to move quickly without Congressional knowledge or authority in this matter? Does it have anything to do with the exception he left open for him when executing the Signing Statement? Go figure! And the Taliban, albeit it awful to Afghani's, is not Al Qaeda, no matter how hard Fox tries to make them be. IF in fact Bergdahl is a deserter and a traitor, wouldn't it be best for American Military Courts to decide this instead of a biased Media and its like minded audience looking for a quick verdict based upon nothing but speculation and hearsay? Aren't we all supposed to be "innocent until proven guilty?" Isn't that also a concept found in the Constitution? Ask any politician accused of wrongdoing and you can bet they will fight to prove the charges as false. Why do we selectively "cherry pick" rights we like from the Constitution and conveniently ignore the ones that don't fit our ideology?
And what about the hysteria created by the Media we know as "The War on Coal?" Seems the Media has convinced folks that Obama has illegally endorsed new regulations through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon emissions from coal fired power plants. Immediately, politicians and their supporting Media have attacked Obama for his alleged illegal action. Somewhere along the line, folks have not been told that the EPA's authority to regulate the environment has recently been UPHELD by the Supreme Court as a Constitutionally valid exercise of the Executive (See http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/court-upholds-epa-rule-on-cross-state-pollution/2014/04/29/7978fd14-cfce-11e3-b812-0c92213941f4_story.html). But when do facts actually begin to interfere with the fantasy created by politicians and their Ideologically Oriented Supporting For-Profit Media?
Now we have the Texas GOP overwhelmingly endorsing Senator Ted Cruz for President in 2016. Yes, you read that right. Ted Cruz, the man who claims the federal government should be shut down now thinks he should be presiding over that very same government. Ted Cruz, a climate change denier (See http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/20/cruz-to-cnn-global-warming-not-supported-by-data/), also endorses the notion in Texas of "Reparative Therapy", an alleged treatment designed to "cure" gays and make them straight. Yes, you read that right! (See http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/08/us/texas-gop-gay-therapy/). Anyone else notice how the politicians that yell the loudest and the most often, somehow get elevated and promoted by the Media despite the fact their entire political beliefs are based upon lies? How the Media "proclaims" national leaders based upon the level of their vitriol and personal ambitions rather than upon the real solutions they should be offering to unite America instead of tearing it apart?
Now we learn the United States Supreme Court will be hearing arguments on whether threats posed through social media can be considered actual threats that should lead to criminal indictment without protection under the First Amendment. As anyone that writes blogs or posts online can relate, many Americans - sensing some form of anonymity and protection, seem to feel free to insult, denigrate and actually threaten others through social media. I have personally been under attack by someone for over a year (including threats that involve my employer). Where does anyone have the protected right to threaten others? Before social media, any threat that was perceived by the recipient as real, was legally actionable. Nowadays, folks seem insensitive to respecting others, while feeling empowered to run their uneducated opinions at will along with threats and language that would not be accepted in any household I know of. So, according to The Associated Press, the United States Supreme Court may be reviewing two cases involving threats made via social media to determine if the First Amendment protects them from legal action. According to the article, "True threats are not protected by the First Amendment under a doctrine established by the Supreme Court in 1969." Once again, the High Court must catch up to the realities of modern technology and address the issue of lying and distorting in order to foment hate against others. One thing is for sure these days, Americans have the right to remain stupid! But when does their stupidity cross a line? Opinion is one thing, attacking and destroying others that may not agree with you is another.
My bottom line is simple. Many will jump to the conclusion that I am an Obama Apologist and therefore have no credibility. That's fine (I guess), except I too have railed against Obama for a number of reasons, but unlike many, understand that the president has done nothing outside the realm of what other presidents have done. I would prefer however, that most of America's trumped up anger be redirected instead at Congress where it really belongs! America was built upon compromise and a sense of unity. Along those lines, I am always open to be convinced to change my positions on a myriad of matters. The only problem these days though, is that instead of raising cogent argument designed to persuade, I am seeing and hearing nothing more than the repetition of carefully designed talking points and narratives designed not to unite US, but to divide US. To pit Americans against Americans, all the while politicians reap the benefits from the public they have so carefully manipulated.
As President Abraham Lincoln once famously quipped, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." By their actions, we have become a nation of so many fools, following a manipulative political system and its supporting Media. Isn't it high time we come together to deal with our differences before it becomes too late? Before the uninformed and uneducated start actually believing the lies and distortions so they actually think democracy is better served by armed revolution? What else could folks be thinking when stating a "sitting president will be sent to jail" or "we must, for America, get rid of Obama before his term ends?" Clearly American Media has proven time and time again, they have removed all doubt about their foolishness!
Please note I will be unable to post a blog next Sunday as I will be working for the College Board scoring Advanced Placement United States Government and American Politics exams in Salt Lake City, Utah. Have a great couple of weeks!
Living in Southwest Florida gives ample opportunity to hear a lot of "fish stories" as many, many of my students are avid "outdoorsmen and women." Many of them share photos of their latest "catches" and they are typically, very impressive! But lately, there has been news about catching "stingrays" around our area. Not the kind that ply the ocean waters, but the kind that are engaged to snoop into private conversations, either from telephones or text messages. Huh?
Yep, according to Tom Lyons' article in today's Sarasota Herald-Tribune, "stingrays are portable devices that can mimic cell phone towers. They...are sold to law enforcement agencies for use in tapping information about calls and text messages as well as the past or present locations of cellphones, including the times when phones were not being used." (See http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20140601/ARCHIVES/406011035/-1/search10?Title=A-spying-device-cops-may-be-using).
Wow, instead of monitoring folks suspected of potential terrorist activities, our newly technologically energized police state has begun to set up camouflaged cell towers in an effort to invade private conversations, all under the guise of "public safety." You see, authorities have been covertly spying on citizens under the rationale that they are in fact protecting society by stopping crimes "before they happen." Wasn't the story line of "The Minority Report" similar to this? Where criminals were taken off the streets before they ever committed a crime, because the police state could "predict" their future wrongdoing. I know we have Constitutional protection against enacting laws rendering past legal acts illegal, but what protections does we have to safeguard us from government predicting future crimes (even though they may never happen)? And I am not alone in questioning this method. The ACLU has been actively engaged in monitoring these measures because they have included entire areas of communities for secret monitoring, all without judicial authorization or proven "probable cause." One can easily see the "slippery slope" we may all slide down if these types of measures are accepted as "routine" by law enforcement under the guise of "protecting us all."
One thing is for sure, with the expansion of social media, are we not all at risk of law enforcement being improperly used by government to manipulate public discourse, and perhaps intimidate public dissent? After experiencing the rampart loss of privacy under the English Crown, the Founding Fathers and Framers were keenly aware of the need to ensure the rights of Americans to maintain their privacy in their everyday lives. As Founding Father, Patrick Henry once wrote; "When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, sir, was the primary object." Covert spying looking for clues in the private conversations of ordinary citizens would certainly not be approved by Henry or his radical colleagues when breaking away from England and establishing the United States. Isn't it time (again) to remember what "Liberty" really means? Liberty, should always be the primary object, for all of US! Have a great week!
Daniel R. Rubin is an Attorney, Educator, Lecturer and National Award Winning Author. He is a recently retired adjunct professor of American History who also taught Advanced Placement United States Government and American Politics in Venice, Florida.