Marc Platt's Politics: I'm a Lefty
Spying, according to Websters Dictionary:
- Work for an organization by secretly collecting information about enemies or competitors.
- Observe (someone) furtively.
Here are some examples of spying in America:
1. In the 1940's Alger Hiss, who had accompanied FDR to Yalta was imprisoned for espionage.
This was the case that made Richard Nixon into a household name. Nixon with help of Time Magaine's Whitaker Chambers did a number on Hiss and he was imprisoned without being convicted for espionage. Hiss died in 1996 and it turns out through de-classified
documents, he probably WAS a spy.
2. In the 1950's Julius & Ethel Rosenberg were convicted and sentenced to death for "Atomic Espionage." They too were guilty. They were executed in a very public and political case.
3. On May 1, 1960, a U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down near in the Soviet
Union. This put a huge strain on U.S. - U.S.S.R. relations. The details surrounding this event are to this day still shrouded in mystery. Powers worked for the CIA and was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment and 7 years of hard
labor. He only served 1 year 9 months and 9 days before being traded for the Soviet spy Colonel Rudolph Ivanovich Abel.
4. Daniel Ellsberg was a U.S.
Military Analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers, a study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the war in Vietnam. President Nixon went apeshit over this case (in 1970) and really put his political machine into action trying to smear Ellsberg,
even raiding Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office.
5. Watergate (1972): President Nixon's administration was rocked to it's core for trying to bug the DNC in the Watergate building. Nixon wanted info on Ted Kennedy. The U.S. government was caught spying for the first time in this case. Nixon resigned and others went to prison.
6. Iran Contra (1987): More of a scandal with traces of spying to get info on Iran to gauge their willingness to dump hostages for arms. There were a lot of backchannel conversations between U.S. cels and Iran in this deal. The goal Reagan had was to arm the drug-dealing Contra rebels. Oy veh.
7. The NSA Leak. The jury is obviously out on this one, but it is hard to comprehend that over 1 million people in the U.S. knew about "Prism" for YEARS before Edward Snowden leaked the program. This thing is going to explode. ALL of the major tech companies are involved and have lied, just like the Bush and Obama administrations have since 2006. U.S. citizens have been spied on just as NON-U.S. citizens have been. There has been a 51% accuracy that U.S. citizens were or were not spied on by accident. According to Gizmodo.com: "The Protect America Act of 2007 made it possible for targets to be electronically surveilled without a warrant if they were "reasonably believed" to be foreign. That's where that 51% comes in. It was followed by the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which immunized companies from legal harm for handing information over to the government. And that's the one-two punch that gives PRISM full legal standing."
What does this all mean?
The Constitution of the U.S. is really a bunch of BS in this Info Data/24-hour-Newscycle Age.
Our government always has done what it wants, despite a document that states otherwise. It doesn't matter if it is Obama, Nixon, Dracula, or Scooby Doo in the White House. The Senate Republican Senators like Lindsay Graham and John McCain are being VERY careful to play it down. Democratic California Senator Diane Feinstein has been so matter-of-fact about "Prism" and other murky programs, that most of America is confused.
Is this a scandal or the cost of doing business in America?
(Let's update this post, which I first made in June...Via HuffPost: "Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee whose office announced the action, will serve as lead plaintiff in the case, joining campaign-finance watchdogs Democracy 21, the Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen.
The lawsuit will address one of the main concerns that surfaced with the recent IRS targeting controversy: Differences between federal law and the IRS rules on eligibility for 501(c)(4) candidates.") Like I've been saying for 3 months, this is NOT a scandal.....
(1954 Tax Law regarding 501(c)(4) Tax Exempt Status for Organizations:
“exclusively for the promotion of social welfare”
From IRS.gov (1959 Tax GUIDELINES regarding 501(c)(4) Tax Exempt Status for Organizations:
“primarily for the promotion of social welfare”
This is the guideline the IRS has been following since 1959.
Look most of us are ordinary Americans who do not read Tax Code and IRS Guidelines. We trust our elected representatives to do that and make laws accordingly. There is a HUGE difference between "EXCLUSIVELY" and 'PRIMARILY."
The only problem with that scenario is that no one seems to be reading the law as it was originally written in 1954. It was changed from "...if it is exclusively engaged in social welfare activities" to "if it is primarily engaged in social welfare activities" in 1959 not in the actual law, but rather in the IRS Guidelines.
Many political groups liberal and conservative have been abusing this law since 1959, gaining tax exempt status because the word "primarily" suggests that a group can also perform a minimum of Social Welfare activities and qualify for these tax ememptions.
The Tea Party and conservative organizations that were "targeted" by the IRS because their names contained conservative-friendly names should never have been given these exemptions in the first place. Organizing For America and the James Carville group should also be held accountable if they have been abusing this "IRS GUIDELINE."
ALSO...No one was denied these illegal exemptions by the IRS anyway.
So what do we have? We have 6 congressional hearings going on about this "SCANDAL."
What a joke. We the people are paying our tax dollars to a government body to waste those tax dollars for hearings that should not even be going on.
Paul Ryan (R-WI) is a policy geek. He should know that this is an exercise in futility. Yet he chides his fellow congressmen in these hearings with a snide "Welcome to Washington."
Here is what needs to happen and SOON. No political organization should be given tax exemptions as a 501 (c)(4). These organizations are political, not for "Social Welfare."
Boys and girls, the jig is up!
I want a big funeral where people come and celebrate my life and talk about all the great things that I've done. Man, I gotta start doing some great things.
(From Alfred Hitchcock's "The Trouble With Harry")
Rand Paul wants in. The problem is only a small segment of America is interested in his Libertarian-based leanings. Some of his ideas like "...if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison.” These ideas are very hard to swallow, based on the fact that the GOP NEEDS these to people to elect them.
Here is another Rand Paul gem: “I say not one penny more to countries that are burning our flag.”
There are lots of future-voting immigrants AND American citizens who come from these countries. They will not be inclined to vote for men and women who say stuff like this.
If you spend ALL your time offending voters, it is very difficult to get them to back you in NATIONAL elections.
Paul's foreign policies need some tweaking also. Paul: “Foreign terrorists do not deserve the protections of our Constitution ... These thugs should stand before military tribunals and be kept off American soil.” If you are Archie Bunker or Al Bundy, you will get a response. If you are a law-abiding NON-Tea Party voter, you will have a hard time swallowing this line of thought.
Paul was a leading opponent of Obama's "American Jobs Act." The GOP has done little or nothing about jobs except yell and scream, BUT Paul will say things like: “We need a Republican Party that shows up on the South side of Chicago and shouts at the top of our lungs, ‘We are the party of jobs and opportunity! The GOP is the ticket to the middle class." Very far from reality. The only thing Rand Paul has really done is tell us what we need. He has not really offered viable solutions.
We live in a country that is slowly changing. The rest of the world is embracing the VERY things President Obama has been slowly moving us towards, things like clean energy. There has been no friendlier president to Wall Street in hopes of reviving an economy that is NOW finally starting to show signs of life. Paul: “There is nothing conservative about bailing out Wall Street. Likewise, there is nothing progressive about billion dollar loans to millionaires to build solar panels.”
Mr. Paul is excellent at throwing the RED MEAT to his believers. Now it is time for him to show he can compromise with Democrats and do some things that Americans can actually take notice of. Maybe some things that would actually allow people in Blue States like California and Vermont to take a serious look at a 2013-ish Republican. So far, no one has done anything at their job on the right side of the aisle to make Democrats want to vote for them.
Just a thought for Republicans who SERIOUSLY want a shot at the White House.
UPDATE (July 26, 2013):
John McCain: “We’re here to vote, we’re not here to block
Ted Cruz: “There may be more `wacko birds’ in the Senate than is suspected‘’
(Since I first posted this article in May, John McCain has teamed up with Chuck Shumer (D-NY) and several other senators to get Immigration legislation through the senate. McCain has BEEN trying to put coalitions together to knock the Tea Party off it's feet, before a government shutdown that could happen later this summer.)
John McCain v. Ted Cruz/Rand Paul...This is great TV and only a handful of us care to watch. McCain often calls Tea Party Republicans 'Wacko Birds.'
These guys are throwing down on the senate floor in a meaningful way that may change American politics forever.
What does this mean?
Could it mean that the only way to crush the Tea Party and their obstructionism-at-all-costs mantality?
How could this be done?
Enter Harry Reid, the befuddled Senate Majority Leader. If McCain and his old school U.S. Senate buddies were to align themselves with Democrats and actually get stuff done...Hmmm.
What if McCain were to grab some of the more moderate GOP members of the senate and create a block of Republicans who could vote with Democrats on certain bills and issues they feel passionatly about?
Would it take courage?
No it wouldn't. The Republican party is close to becoming obsolete anyway. The Tea Party element has no desire to help Americans. They want to help themselves.
I believe this HAS TO HAPPEN ASAP. The longer this goes on, the more likely it is these guys will lose their seats anyway. The mainstream GOP members MUST step up and crush these far right wing out-of-control Tea Party idiots. Michelle Bachmann is just the tip of the iceberg in continually calling for the repeal of Obamacare. Cruz and Paul are gaining some traction.
Reid needs to step up and change the filibuster rules. McCain needs to gather some of his buddies and create a voting block that cannot be stopped by Tea Party Senators. This would stop it cold.
Who would be in this voting block?
Here are my suggestions for McCain to try to grab while the going is hot:
1. Susan Collins (Maine) - The ONLY true moderate GOP Senator
2. Jeff Flake (Arizona) - Realistic chance. He took a beating in the polls after voted against background checks.
3. Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire) see Jeff Flake. Same deal.
4. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) has continually voted against GOP on certain issues like Dream Act.
5. Dean Heller (Nevada) - Harry Reid has some influence. Heller was appointed after Ensign resigned.
6. Mark Kirk (South Carolina) - He could be a short-term Senator if he is primaried by a more right wing guy.
7. Lindsay Graham (South Carolina) - buddies with McCain and Ayotte. He may have to make a bold move to retain his seat. Either go way right or take on "wacko-Birds" with McCain.
This will be an interesting summer in the Beltway. That is for sure.
What do these famous presidential quotes ALL have in common?
"..., I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I can say that in my years of public life, that I welcome this kind of examination because people have got
to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got."
(Richard M. Nixon)
"A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages."
"I did have a relationship with Ms Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible.
"The main reason we went into Iraq was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't have weapons of mass destruction..."
(George W. Bush)
These are all examples of REAL presidential scandals. These are four different examples of scandals that REALLY affected all Americans and they can ALL be directly tied DIRECTLY to the President of the USA.
1. Nixon misused his office to get political enemies.
2. Reagan was treasonous in trading arms for hostages with Iran. Iran was our enemy.
3. Bill Clinton lied about his affair and was duly censured by the congress.
4. George W. Bush misled the American public and Obama let him skate free without any prosecution.
Barack Obama is NOT doing a great job at the moment. I believe he is piloting a rudderless ship. He can fix this problem by bringing in a competent manager to take charge at the White House.
Obama has no one to tell him when he is floating off course. The 2nd term is the time to get things right.
The current "scandals" are NOT really scandals. They are examples of political incompetence and Obama needs to get someone like a Rahm Emanuel, James Carville or David Axelrod in the Oval Office ASAP or his legislative agenda will be toast. He will be crippled and NOT pick up seats in congress in 2014.
The Republicans have a little leverage right now, but they will screw it up because no one is in charge of THAT party either. House Speaker John Boehner called for "jail" for IRS officers. What a joke. The laws have been screwed up for five decades. The IRS mess is going to get cleaned up in a way the GOP will really detest now. ALL the political pacts are going to lose their tax exempt status (including the PROGRESSIVE ones).
The Citizens United ruling will be rendered useless for many of these "Organizations." They will be taxed just like everyone else and elections will be put on a level playing field once again.
The AP story is ridiculous. Obama is not directly involved. Eric Holder may end up paying for this one, but if you have a good memory you will remember the Bush White House tapped MILLIONS of phones. Remember the whole Deputy Assistant US AttorneyJohn Yoo affair and his "LETTER" authorizing phone taps for national security, etc...
The bottom line is these Obama Administration misteps (mostly indirect) are lame, BUT not enough to get the American people riled up. This is not game-changing stuff. This brings me to Benghazi.
This was tragic. Four Americans died at this facility in Banghazi that was mostly being used for a covert CIA operation. The Republicans are focused on the reaction of the Obama administration in the days following the attacks. REMEMBER Benghazi was not the only facility in danger on September 11, 2012.
Here is the main problem for the GOP story. The Republicans are mostly responsible for the inadequate funding of the embassies. Their obstruction backfired on them. Obama has taken the high road on this fact and not pointed fingers at the congress members who voted against the extra funding Hillary Clinton asked for in 2011. She warned them at the time that our security at these facilities would be compromized. She was right.
Yes my friends. Benghazi will go away.
The Obama-friendly media coalition is evaporating and he needs to step up and right the ship. He WILL serve out his full term, but how much damage will be done?
Right now Barack Obama is not doing the best job, but he has NOT committed the horrible atrocities these other guys did, RIGHT?