Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bebe, Boehner, Clinton, Ferguson and Patreaus

Yesterday was an extraordinary day for our country.

At the invitation of the Speaker of the House; a foreign head of state stood before a joint session of congress and criticized the foreign policy of our president. The majority party in congress was forced to capitulate on a major policy initiative. A presumptive presidential nominee was accused of violating the law. The ugly racial divide in this country was exposed in a new light and a decorated war hero was pled guilty to inappropriately releasing classified documents.

BEBE – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered his much anticipated address before a joint session of congress. The atmosphere in the hall was electric. After extending his thanks and appreciation towards the president and the seated congressional body for their support of his country, the prime minister proceeded eviscerate the president’s efforts to stop Iran’s development of a nuclear program. On twelve separate occasions the hall exploded and rose to their feet in acknowledgment of the prime minister’s remarks. He went into great detail about Iran’s violent past and the threat that the regime poses to both Israel and America should it be allowed to obtain a nuclear bomb. It was a classic case of Fear Mongering 101. It was vintage Dick Cheney. Historians will remember that like Cheney, Netanyahu got in wrong in the post 9/11 fever to go after Saddam. When the prime minister wasn’t criticizing the president’s policy he was painting the president as na├»ve to think that Iran could ever be trusted to hold up its end of any negotiated deal. His conclusion was straight forward: “This is a bad deal…a very bad deal.” Unfortunately, like most of the president’s critics, he offered little in the way of a substantive alternative. Netanyahu faces a close election in the upcoming weeks. He is desperate to woo the hardline hawks, who prior to yesterday’s address, were not in his camp. Speaker Boehner allowed the prime minister to use the most important deliberative body in the world as a political prop. Never in the history of our republic has the head of a foreign power been invited to address congress for the purpose of attacking the policies of a sitting president. Speaker Boehner has the dubious distinction of being the first speaker to extend such an invitation. It was hard to watch. It used to be that disagreements over this country’s foreign policy ended at the water’s edge. Patriotism always trumped political opportunism. Never more!

BOEHNER – Once the Bebe pep rally ended, Speaker Boehner quietly called the House into session and went about the bitter task of passing a one year clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security. This was a complete capitulation on the part of Republicans who vowed for weeks that they would never take up a vote to fund the DHS unless the bill stripped out all of the president’s initiatives on immigration reform. In the end the House did what everybody knew they would do several weeks ago. The Republican Party is in disarray. If they can’t negotiate a consensus within their caucus how will they ever negotiate an agreement with the Democrats? Republican’s had promised us that we would see “effective governance” once they took control of congress. So far…not so much. The Speaker can thank the Bebe love fest for taking over the news cycle and overshadowing this huge defeat.

CLINTON – The firestorm over Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of her personal email account continues to grow. Yesterday, I wrote in this space that her use of a personal email account was in violation of the Federal Records Act. That was a misstatement on my part. The former Secretary of State has yet to be found guilty of violating any laws. However according to the procedural rules in place during her time as the country’s chief ambassador all federal government employees were required to secure their communications on the appropriate government servers so that they may be preserved for archival and security purposes. The White House has confirmed that all administration officials were expected to comply with these rules. We now know that Mrs. Clinton chose not to set up a secure government email account; preferring to use several personal email accounts to conduct government business. While her communications to other State Department officials were sent to their secure state department accounts and therefore archived; we have no idea what communications were sent to other parties by way of her personal email accounts. Consequently when oversight committees, such as Darrel Issa’s committee investigating the Benghazi affair, subpoenaed her state department emails, they found nothing. When the proverbial poop hit the fan the Clinton camp perused through her emails and decided among themselves which emails would be released. So much for oversight, security and archival integrity. From my prospective there is only one reason not to comply with the governments regulations on government communications…so that you can maintain sole control of access. Once again we see a Clinton playing fast and loose with the law. We should expect better from the presumptive nominee for the presidency.

FERGUSON – The Department of Justice released its findings on the inner workings of the City of Ferguson Police Department. You may recall the events in Ferguson, Missouri surrounding the police shooting of unarmed Michel Brown and the days of violent unrest that followed. The DOJ determined that a culture of racial bias was rampant within the police department. The DOJ found that over 85-95% of all arrests, fines, stops and incarcerations involved members of the black community. A review of police department emails produced racially insensitive correspondence. These findings come at the same time that white New York City Mayor Bill di Blasio continues to be disparaged for saying that he has to counsel his black son on how to behave in the presence of police officers. Racism in this country is alive and well. There are two Americas. People need to open their eyes to the reality.

PATREAUS – Former CIA Director and retired four star General David Patraeus has pled guilty to mis-handling classified documents. The war hero and former commander of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, shared classified military secrets including the names of covert operators, war strategies and conversations with the president with his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell. Patraeus took the plea deal to avoid jail time. Isn’t it interesting how the reaction in Washington to the general’s betrayal pales in comparison to the firestorm over Hillary Clinton’s emails?

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