Thursday, May 21, 2015

With Iraq so much in the news, we should remember how much the news media lied about Iraq.

The lies actually started with 911 with the Bush administration trying to cover up their culpability in what was the worst case of presidential malfeasance and gross, even criminal negligence with regards to the national security of the United States in American history.

The Bush administration story was that there was nothing they could have done to have prevented 911. Two years later the 911 Commission hearings provided documentary proof that Bush, Rice and Cheney had so much intelligence, specific actionable intelligence that would have prevented the 911 attacks, there was not a cab driver in New York city who couldn't have prevented the attack with the information Bush and Rice was given, which included intelligence that Al-Qaeda was going to attack within the United States, that there were operational Al-Qaeda cells already within the United States, that Al-Qaeda had New York buildings under surveillence, that the attack was imminent, that, according to CIA intercepts of Al-Qaeda chatter, the attack was going to be "spectacular" and, the piece de' resitance, Bush and Rice was given intelligence on August 6, 2001 that the Al-Qeda attack  was going to involve the hijacking of U.S. commerical airliners. They did nothing.

Except use the attack as an excuse to invade Iraq, something the neo-cons had tried to convince Bill Clinton to do back in 1998.

Just as the news media rolled over for the Bush administration on 911 and even turned what amounted to a confession of incompetence by Condoleeza Rice when she admitted they had enough information but  " we couldn't connect the dots", into a term of art, they rolled over for Bush in Iraq and still are.

There were the New York Times famous front page stories spoon fed to Judith Miller by  Dick Cheney about Sadaam's WMD that the Times printed without lifting a finger to try and get a single second source of corroboration. The stories were rubber stamped by  Miller's Washington editor Jill Abramson (later promoted to executive editor, then fired)  and executive editor Bill Keller.  All  the stories confirming the existence of  Sadaam's WMD were false, provided by Cheney,  then used by Cheney himself citing the Times as an "independent" source confirming the existence of Sadaam's WMD which the Bush administration used to influence members of congress to vote for the war authorization.

Years later, in an online Q&A with Miller which I watched real time, Miller was asked about the fact that her reports on WMD were all wrong. Miller's response: " I'm sorry but if my source is wrong than I'm wrong".

The answer struck me as highly significant because anyone who had seen "All the President's Men" much less knew about journalistic craft,  knew that Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee insisted that Woodward and Bernstein get at least two separate sources to corroborate a  fact before they would publish a Watergate story.

 It was clear to me that Miller's use of the singular " source" and not " sources" showed how shoddy and irresponsible the Times had been in trying to get a scoop by publishing stories "confirming" Saddams' WMD as fact without any independent  corroboration. And there were plenty of sources at the time which would have disputed Cheney's claims,some from weapons inspectors like Hans Blix, some from the IAEA, and most of them reported by two reporters, Warren Stroebel and Jonathan Landay from Knight Ridder  newspapers which went unnoticed by other news outlets who instead preferred to run with the  bogus Times stories.

The Times must have recognized the significance of Miller's using "source" instead of "sources" because days later  when I went back to download a copy of the Q&A to have a copy of that particular exchange, they had doctored the transcript to change Miller's original wording from " source" to "sources". 

What we know about Iraq which the news media and some politicians are still  trying to bury is the indisputable fact that Bush and Cheney lied the country into war. And the news media as a whole and blind conservatives who accused anyone who opposed the war as being unpatriotic,  went right along with it and were instrumental in shaping public opinion about going to war.  And the news media continues to bury the truth because to admit it now is to admit their own complicity and malfeasance in spreading and promoting those lies, too afraid to contradict them which contributed  to the country being lied into war.

We know now that despite Jeb Bush's attempt at defending the Iraq invasion or Lindsay Graham saying Bush did the best he could with the intelligence he had,  the big lie still told by apologists  is that Bush received faulty intelligence about Sadaam's WMD.  The truth is there was no faulty intelligence because there was no intelligence from anyone that reported with any reasonable degree of certainty that Saddaam had WMD. None. The only faulty intelligence was at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

And speaking of intelligence,lest anyone forget given the current negotiations with Iran and their nuclear program, when former ambassador Joe Wilson went to Niger to try to confirm for the CIA if Bush and Cheney's assertion about Saddam trying to buy yellow cake uranium for an  atomic bomb was true and found that it wasn't, the Bush administration, in retaliation for Wilson's public statements blew the cover of Wilson's  wife Valerie Plame who was a covert agent for the CIA and whose undercover work involved guess what -- gathering covert intelligence on Iran's nuclear program.

 Thanks to the Bush administration's cheap political payback, exposing Plame destroyed her informant network inside Iran, 20 years in the making,  including scientists and other informants who were providing intelligence about Iran's nuclear program. Bush and Cheney destroyed that pipeline because Wilson's public statements undermined their dishonest pitch to invade Iraq. To this day the news media still ignores all  that and continues to let them all off the hook.

There is much more regarding the lies that took the U. S. to war in Iraq, which the news media promoted and still ignore to this day. 

Colin Powell's entire presentation to the UN to justify the invasion of Iraq was all based on false information given by an Iraqi  informer code named Curveball, who defected to Germany and  who, in return for asylum gave German intelligence information about Saddam's so called WMD. German intelligence was certain the informer was telling them what he thought they wanted to hear to gain asylum and  told the CIA that none of the information checked out and in fact they had learned the informant had lied about his own background and was an alcoholic.  

All of Curveball's  "intelligence" was passed on to the CIA station chief  in Germany as a courtesy with the caveat that none of it checked out and none of it was believed to be true. The station chief passed the information on to CIA headquarters who in turn passed it on to the Bush administration along with the same caveat,  that nothing checked out or was believed to be true. Yet Cheney fed that information to Colin Powell without telling him that the information was likely false.  Powell used what he  was given by Cheney and  it was that false "intelligence"  by Curveball that made up Powell's entire UN presentation.  To this day Powell considers that presentation to be the lowest moment of his life.

In another instance, former conservative Republican House majority leader Dick Armey who opposed the Iraq war authorization and was going to vote against it  said that Dick Cheney personally told him they had intelligence that Saddam had developed a nuclear suitcase bomb capable of destroying Washington  D.C.It was enough to get Armey to change his vote. To this day  that lie is also ignored by the mainstream news media and current GOP presidential hopefuls.

Florida Democratic senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut said that to get his vote former Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, told him that they had intelligence that Sadaam had drones capable of reaching the east coast of the United States with the capability of launching a chemical or biological attack. That was enough to get Nelson's vote too. A few years ago  Nelson learned about an Air Force intelligence report that was intentionally kept from him that stated that Saddam did have drones but their range was only 250 miles, were made of wood and had no military or attack capability. Nelson's press conference expressing his outrage went largely ignored by the news media. The same news media that was SRO for a press conference about Anthony Weiner's online sex chats.

Nothing has changed.  News media outlets like CNN  ignore the proof of Bush adminstration lies that drove the country to war because to bring it up also necessitates bringing up their own journalistic cowardice, malfeasance and culpability which allowed the invasion of Iraq to happen. And they are still ducking.

While Bush,Cheney and Rice are ultimately responsible for their horrendous dishonesty and judgement in lying the country into war and President Obama's decision making and judgement regarding Isis has been a disaster that has gotten worse every day, none of it could have happened without the news media rolling over and playing dead.   Isis is running rough shod in Iraq and Syria and causing death and destruction on a mass scale. Yet Wolf Blitzer in trying to carry water for Obama keeps trying to blame all of it on  the failures of the Iraqi army when the truth is Obama was told by everyone in a position to know from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and others that it was essential to keep a residual U.S. force of about 10,000 in Iraq. Obama refused. 

When Lindsay Graham pointed out the need to now send U.S. ground troops if Isis is to be defeated, Blitzer, in a response that smacked both of his own cowardice and obnoxious willingness to take cheap shots to make himself look tough and that he was defending the troops  said "even if it means U.S. soldiers coming back in body bags"?

Today the news media still refuses to hold anyone in power accountable including themselves.  And a news media who wont tell the truth about itself can't be trusted to tell the truth about anything else. Had the news media been willing to do their jobs with  a fraction of the courage the soldiers who fought there did theirs, those soldiers probably wouldn't have been there in the first place.  And the mess that is now Iraq, never would happened, a mess made even worse by Obama rejecting the advice of people a lot smarter and more knowledgeable than he is to arm the moderate Syrian rebels to stop Isis from the very start. 

The upshot is that the news media supported an invasion of Iraq when it was a lie and is now beating the drum for no U.S. combat forces on the ground when that might very well be necessary to destroy Isis because, like in 2002, they think that's where public opinion is. And Obama panders to the media and many in the media reciprocate. 

Obama got a lot of mileage during the 2008 primaries by claiming he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning and how history  proved he was right and had the  judgement to be president . His judgement could not have been more wrong and as we have seen all through his presidency, his statement was not exactly honest.

As a state senator, not a U.S. senator Obama was against the war. But for all the wrong reasons. Though not privy to any of the lobbying and phony intelligence  U.S. senators were subjected to, and of course not having a vote and so not having to worry about consequences, Obama accepted and believed  the existence of WMD in Iraq and  still was against invading Iraq because he didnt believe the U.S. should intervene in the affairs of another country. Had Sadaam actually had WMD as Bush and  Cheney were selling and  as Obama believed, he would have been a grave threat justifying the invasion.  So Obama's  judgement  and position was wrong on both counts, a judgement we are seeing manifest itself in dealing with Isis who, quite frankly, is winning in both Iraq and Syria. And a wrong headed judgement, as with Bush, the news media still ignores. 

Why all this matters now is because too many people in the news media, congress and the White House are using Bush's  war in Iraq and its disastrous consequences as a basis for decisions on what to do now in terms of destroying Isis. We've heard things like "learning the lessons of Iraq" and learning from the "mistakes of the past". The lessons to be learned from the mistakes of the past is simple: don't lie.

The news media who were so influential in taking the country to war by spreading those lies are trying to make up for their past mistakes by going in the opposite direction. Which could be another mistake. 

Obama recently sent out Defense Secretary Ash Carter to pin the blame for more failures on the Iraqi army by saying its up to them to fight for their country. It is. But this is Obama again looking for excuses  to duck responsibility for his own bad judgement and it's consequences.  Because  this is not about fighting for or defending Iraq. It's about Isis and the threat , if any, they pose to the safety and security of the  U.S. not aiding the government of Iraq. Carter said,"they're (the Iraqi army) the ones who have to defeat Isil". They are? And what if they don't?

If Isis is in fact a real threat to U.S. security at home, or will be if not destroyed,  and it's looking like they could be,  then  exactly what might be needed is sending enough  U.S. troops to Iraq to destroy Isis and not asking or  expecting the Iraqi military to do our fighting for us if in fact U.S. national security is at stake. Carter's comment could be further proof of what everyone from John McCain to Robert Gates , Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta has believed from the beginning   - Obama has no strategy for destroying Isis. He can't even correctly define the problem and if he can't do that then he can't solve it. 

The American military as always has the will and capability to defend America against it's violent enemies when necessary. And as one congressman and an Iraq war veteran put it, that's what the American military is there for.  Despite Wolf Blitzer's obnoxious  " body bags" comment in trying to do now what he didnt have the courage to stand up and do in 2002 when it mattered. Which could now  put  Blitzer crying wolf, and Obama and the news media as a whole, on the wrong side of what might actually need to be done.  Once again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

NFL justice: Brady 4 games for deflated footballs, Stallworth 6 games for killing a man while driving drunk.

If anyone needs more proof that the NFL is run by a bunch of cases of arrested development look no further than the penalty handed to Tom Brady over playing one half of football with a ball 1 lb  per square inch less than league rules.

And if anyone needs more proof that carrying a press pass is almost a guarantee of failing an intelligence test , look no further than the reaction of the news media especially sportswriters for what Rachel Nichols a sports analyst for CNN ( does anybody really need a sports analyst?) referred to as Brady "cheating", a word she used  about 8 times in one CNN segment on Brady's punishment.

First the punishment itself. Brady's 4 game suspension and the other sanctions against New England had everything to do with Ray Rice and nothing to do with Tom Brady. Roger Goodell left to his own devices suspended Ray Rice for 2 games for punching his wife out in a hotel elevator and knocking her out cold. For that he was handed two games. As everyone knows there was a hue and cry about the leniency of the suspension and Goodell, being a politician if nothing else would have upped the penalty to expulsion to Madagascar if could but instead suspended him for the season  before an arbitrator stepped in and reinstated Rice.

If Brady was handed 4 games for an under inflated football and Rice was given 2 games for punching out his wife imagine what Goodell would have given  Brady if he had punched out a football.

But the real hypocrisy of Brady's ridiculous suspension over breaking a minor  and trivial rule during one half of a football game  is  how Goodell and the NFL handled the 2009 case of Dante Stallworth, a wide receiver at the time for the Cleveland Browns and who eventually became Brady's teammate with the Pats. 

Stallworth had been doing some hard partying at the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami. Stallworth left the hotel after partying and drinking all night and at 7:10 a.m. driving  his  Bentley stone  drunk and over the speed limit hit and killed Mario Reyes, a 59 year old construction worker who was crossing the street to catch a bus to get to work.

Stallworth's blood alcohol level was 1.26. Florida's legal limit was 0.08.

In a plea bargain with the Miami DA  that should've drawn outrage everywhere and showed the kind of special treatment professional athletes get, Stallworth pled guilty to both driving drunk and vehicular manslaughter. His sentence was 30 days in jail and 250 hours of community service. For killing a man while driving drunk.

What was the reaction of Roger Goodell and the NFL?

Goodell and the  NFL put out a statement that said, " the NFL will review the matter for possible disciplinary action".

Possible disciplinary action. Possible. Like maybe. For killing a man while speeding and driving drunk. 

Goodell made one thing very clear.  Drive drunk, speed and kill a man and it just might get you into hot water with  the NFL. And it did. Goodell  got tough and hit Stallworth with a suspension that added up to 6 games.  Six games. For killing a man while driving drunk.  So you can understand how Brady gets 4 games for playing one half with a slightly deflated football.

In giving Stallworth six games and Brady 4 games Goodell made a very passionate  and socially significant statement : Footballs Matter.

As for the actual infraction by Brady and the absurd reaction of many in the news media or anyone who thinks Brady was " cheating" there is a difference between cheating and breaking a rule.

Cheating is when you get an unfair advantage over an opponent to win when you otherwise couldn't.  The under inflated footballs did none of that. The Atlanta Falcons were caught piping in extra loud canned crowd noise during a game to keep the opposing team from hearing its signals. That was cheating. Playing one half of a football game with a slightly under inflated football wasn't.

It had no effect on the outcome of the game against the Colts which the Patriots won 38-7 .  Brady's playing the first half with an under inflated ball had nothing to do with Andrew Luck not being able to put up more than 7 points against the Pats defense the whole game. And Brady's stats were as good if not better in the second half with the football inflated to league rules as he was in the first half.  His stats in the Super Bowl win over Seattle using the Roger Goodell approved inflated football was what Brady has been doing his whole career.  Yet Brady's suspension was the same as players get for using PED's. Which is absurd . There was nothing about those footballs that enhanced Brady's performance . 

Add to that the NFL cited past violations of the Pats which had nothing to do with Brady for the harshness of the penalties so the 4 game suspension doesn't pass the smell test. 

There are a lot of rules in the NFL.  Sometimes officials inadvertantly break them or get them wrong and it does effect the outcome of the game and a team loses when it shouldn't . Then the NFL apologizes but no one gets suspended.  There are NFL rules that state how long a players cleats can be. There are rules about having to have your jersey tucked in which no one seems to care about. There are known instances of running backs smearing Vaseline on themselves and their uniforms to make them harder to tackle.  

There is breaking rules , or not adhering to a rule and there is cheating. And they are not always the same.  For one half of a football game a rule was not adhered to. But it wasn't cheating in that it didn't give Brady or the Pats an unfair advantage that enabled them to win the game when they otherwise couldn't or give Brady the ability to do something he couldn't normally do. And the proof of that is not only the score but by looking at the converse.

If  Brady had an advantage using a football inflated to only 11 lbs per square inch instead of the 12.6 which is regulation, then you have to believe that every quarterback in professional football now and for as long as that inflation rule has been in effect has been at a disadvantage throwing a football inflated to  12.6 lbs per square inch and that the NFL intentionally wanted to make it harder to throw a football because they want to make it harder for NFL quarterbacks to throw with accuracy or velocity or touch. Deflate the ball to 11 lbs per square inch and anybody could do it, right? Easy. 

If you believe the NFL wants to intentionally put QB's at a disadvantage with that inflation rule because they're trying to hold down scoring or adversely affect a QB's performance, you should ask Goodell for a job.

If 12.6 doesn't put QB's at a disadvantage then 11.6 doesn't give a quarterback an advantage. 

Bill Poulian the former GM for the Colts and now an analyst at ESPN who unlike most talking sports heads actually knows what he is talking about said that the biggest advantage in using an under inflated football is that it's less like to be fumbled. And that would give an unfair advantage to a running back or reciever after they caught the ball. Or an advantage to a QB holding the ball during a sack. And that makes sense.

But that is not Brady cheating throwing the football. Rule breaking , yes, cheating no.  So fine the Pats for using the under inflated football for a half since a rule is a rule and there should be some consequences and fire the two equipment guys. But what Goodell handed down for the offense especially compared to suspensions given Rice and Stallworth is absurd. 

When an arbiter hears the case there is no doubt Brady's suspension will be reduced to 2 games at the most. The real punishment should be suspending Brady for the first half of one game which is equal to the one half played with the under inflated football.  And maybe that 4th round draft choice for the Pats. And some meal money. And a warning. And that's it. Instead of Goodell trying to get tough over nothing and trying to kill the Patriots season, which to Goodell as we have seen in the case of Dante Stallworth, seems to be worth more than a man's life. 

NOTE: Goodell's decision not to allow Brady's appeal to be heard by an independent arbiter and instead will hear the appeal himself tells everyone all they need to know about how valid Goodell thinks the suspension is. And how much he's afraid of being embarrassed again. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Charged up Baltimore States attorney Mosby needlessly overcharges cops.

Unless Baltimore state's attorney Marilyn Mosby,who charged 6 Baltimore cops in the death of Freddy Gray has some devastating direct evidence she didn't disclose in her statement of probable cause which among other things, charged Ceaser Goodson, the driver of the paddy wagon that transported Freddy Gray with 2nd degree murder and other officers of first and second degree manslaughter,  she is running the risk of making worse the very kind of mistrust and resentment she was supposed to fix. Which could lead to more violence and more demonstrations if and when those charges are dropped or the officers acquitted.  Because based on the facts as she presented them in her statement of  probable cause, there is no evidence that remotely supports charges of 2nd degree murder or first degree manslaughter.

By filing those second degree murder and first degree manslaughter charges, Marilyn Mosby did what prosecutors often do and do unscrupulously -- she overcharged those cops, either for political reasons, or reckless irresponsibility,pandering, and incompetence. 

For a community that is looking for signs of being able to trust both elected and appointed authority, overcharging these cops and the consequences if charges are dropped or there is an acquittal, is going to be explosive. 

Prosecutors often overcharge defendants and use the overcharging to try and coerce plea deals. Often it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Overcharging defendants is largely business as usual for prosecutors. But the Freddy Gray case is different. This case for obvious reasons should not be business as usual. And  Mosby should not be trying to win plea deals by using coercive overcharging. It will never work. Especially because the cops feel they are innocent of the charges. 

The community that Mosby is addressing isn't looking at overcharging as a tactic. Most are taking Mosby's probable cause charges at face value and believe they are legitimate.  They aren't. They believe  Mosby wouldn't be filing these  probable cause charges if she didn't think she had enough evidence for convictions beyond a reasonable doubt. She doesn't.  

Unless Mosby has something she is not sharing and hasn't made public before,  (and if she does she could have said so without revealing what that evidence is) there is no chance of a second degree murder conviction and even first degree manslaughter is questionable.

There is also every possibility that if Mosby cannot make a valid showing of probable cause and cannot show that she has evidence that can sustain a guilty verdict on 2nd degree murder, a judge might throw those charges out completely.  And based on what is known,  justifiably. And if that happens the same community that felt disenfranchised before and are now literally dancing in the streets because of the severity of the charges,  may, because of Mosby, erupt in anger, feel the system is stacked against them again and that games are being played to protect the cops.  Which would be all Mosby's fault for leading them to believe something that wasn't factually true from the beginning. Right now Mosby has less probable cause in filing the most severe charges than the cops had in arresting Freddy Gray. 

To get a second degree murder  conviction a prosecutor has to show that a defendant knew or should have known that their actions would or could result in a person's death. The language which varies slightly from state to state is usually a defendant causing the death of another by showing a "depraved indifference to human life", by knowing that their actions could or would cause death. It is different from manslaughter where a defendant intends to inflict harm but doesn't intend to kill yet the victim dies anyway.

Based on the available evidence there is no way Goodson knew or should have known, that the actions on his part would or could result in Gray's death. It is unlikely Goodson even knew of the severity of Gray's injuries. So there is no way Mosby or Clarence Darrow for that matter, could get a conviction on second degree murder by proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Goodson did know.  As Alan Dershowitz has already pointed out, the second degree murder charge is preposterous and in his words  "outrageous".

Criminally negligent homicide?  Maybe. Involuntary manslaughter? Maybe. Gross negligence? Probably. Certainly failure to provide  immediate medical attention resulting in death and a host of violations of department guidelines and a few other charges.  But second degree murder? That's a joke and a politically motivated prosecutor playing prosecutorial games and  pandering, maybe trying to throw demonstrators a bone, something to mollify them, and it's the last thing Mosby should be doing.  It makes her look like one more inept Baltimore official, like the mayor and police commissioner,having no leadership qualities, screwing things up and descending to the occasion to try and mollify an angry community.

Continuing to add to her legend as inept, Baltimore's mayor put out a statement in response to the charges that "there is no place for racism in the Baltimore police department". Which would be fine except that three of the officers criminally charged in Gray's death are black. 

Marilyn Mosby is also an elected official.  And as we've seen with the mayor, other mayors and governors, members of congress and even in the presidency going back to 2000  up to the current occupant ,   being elected has nothing to do with being qualified for anything. Mosby didn't take a test to get this job. But she's failed the test of doing her job. 

Mosby sounded more like a political hack in announcing her charges than a responsible prosecutor. She also sounded like a politician when she told demonstrators that she " heard them". She is not supposed to "hear them". She is supposed to follow the facts wherever they lead on behalf of all of the people of Baltimore whether there were  10,000 demonstrators, one demonstrator, or none.

She said she is going to get "justice for Freddy Gray". As the state's attorney she isn't supposed to do that either. She is supposed to get justice period whatever justice is based on wherever the facts lead, not grandstand like a politician. It's ironic but in Ferguson, demonstrators, the news media, biased and dishonest media commentators like Sunny Hostin on CNN , were all demanding Bob  McCullough recuse himself as prosecutor because his father was a cop. In Mosby's case her whole family were police officers including her grandfather, but before the charges were announced no one demanded she step aside. Whether race and gender bias had anything to do with that is for people to decide for themselves. But in the end Bob McCullough showed more integrity of office and professionalism and a refusal to buckle to mob pressure throughout the process than Mosby did in just one press conference. 

Mosby also misrepresented the facts when she called Gray's arrest " an illegal arrest". It was not an illegal arrest ( and the actual term is "false arrest") and calling it such is either a product of  incompetence, bias or her desire to politicize the events as a politician not a prosecutor. 

 A lot is being made out of whether the knife was an illegal switchblade or not.  And there are some insisting that it was.  Even if the knife found was not an illegal switch blade, even if Gray had no knife at all, Gray still ran from police and led them on a foot chase of more than a mile. Unless Baltimore's laws are different from the rest of the country, that is resisting arrest, felony evading,  refusal to obey a lawful order, reckless endangerment,  and probably a few other things. All of which even without the switchblade made it a legal arrest.

 If the knife wasn't an illegal switchblade and the cop who filed an arrest report said it was, but knew it wasn't, the cop is open to prosecution for filing a false report. But if whether it was or not is open to question as it seems to be, then it comes down to whether a reasonable police officer acting reasonably had reason to believe it was a switchblade. If Gray hadn't run and it wasn't a switchblade the charges would've been dropped. But the police still  had enough grounds from Gray running and leading them on a chase to make a lawful arrest.

If a judge dismisses the 2nd degree murder charge because Mosby didn't have evidence that can sustain probable cause,  much less proof beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction, or if the judge allows the charge because of the current climate and a jury acquits on murder and manslaughter,   Mosby runs the risk of  being responsible for the mistrust to explode again. She would be responsible for  causing  more  damage, more mistrust  and  more of the very resentment she was supposed to fix. All because of her own mishandling and politicizing of the case.

People in that community have a right to believe  that she wouldn't bring second degree murder and manslaughter charges against the police unless she had the evidence to support it and not play prosecutorial games.  But by doing just that,  by over charging without evidence based on what is known,  Mosby could see it all blow up in her face. And if that happens, there is the possibility  the community will   blow up again too.  Thanks to Mosby . And with it one more  black eye for Baltimore's government.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Is Obama laying the groundwork for a cave-in to Iran?

In Obama's latest press conference, in response to a question about the Iran negotiations and the obvious conflict between Obama's claims that sanctions would only be phased out over time contrasted to Iran saying all the sanctions had to be lifted on the first day of signing the deal, Obama said there "would have to be some creative negotiations".
For those who need the translation,  based on Obama's history,"creative negotiations"  means figuring out a way make concessions to Iran and then try and lie about it to everyone else by pretending they're not concessions just so he can claim he made a deal. 
Obama knows he's not going to fool the Ayatollah and the Iranian leadership with "creative negotiations" that are less than what Iran has insisted on publicly.  For Obama, coming up with "creative negotiations" is more about trying to fool the Washington press corps, members of congress, the American people or groups like MoveOn, Daily Kos and ThinkProgress who are the easiest for him to fool. 
Iran has said clearly they will accept no deal unless all the sanctions, all of them, are lifted immediately, on day one of signing the deal. Nothing less. They also made it clear from both their political and military leadership that there will be no unfettered inspections and military sites will be off limits. Those inspections are supposed to determine if Iran is complying with the agreement which are supposed to be tied to the lifting of sanctions and are to take place anywhere at any time. Iran has said they will never agree to that. 
 So what does Obama have in mind by "creative negotiations"?
The term " creative accounting"  comes to mind,  a wink and a euphemism for a sleight of hand or something of borderline legality.  Or creatively trying to circumvent reality and the truth. 

There are no creative ways around reality.  Creativity is all about bringing new ideas into reality. Not lying about failed ones.
And any  thought that Iran's defiant position on sanctions and inspections is only for public consumption in Iran as some have suggested,  is preposterous. The Iranian leadership doesn't have to worry about a free press or free elections or public opinion.  They are accountable to no one.  

When they make statements as unequivocal as their stated positions on the framework,  it's because they have no intention of backing down and looking weak and foolish to the world and home. 

A red line could have been drawn from the beginning so Iran always knew that sanctions would be  phased out only gradually over time based on Iran's compliance.  And to insure compliance there would have to be unfettered inspections anywhere any time since Iran had been caught lying and cheating before.   Iran could have been told those terms were non-negotiable.  Maybe don't call it a red line since Assad already knows what  that means coming from Obama and so does Iran.  But the terms of  lifting of sanctions and the inspections should have been a non-negotiable part of any agreement from the beginning,  not as Kerry once called it,  "sticking points".
Iran is not going to sign any deal that does not lift all the sanctions immediately. And they are not going to agree to unfettered inspections to insure they are complying. Which means that unless Obama is willing to walk away from the deal or pressure Iran into accepting his terms, (okay everybody can stop laughing  at that one) Obama is liable to try and pull the same  kind of bait and switch he did with healthcare reform and pave the way for a cave in to Iran.  Then try and claim it's not a cave in at all but a  good deal and "all" and "at once" "immediate" and  "unfettered" are just semantics. Obama will claim the deal does everything he wants. 

 The last time Obama claimed he got everything he wanted was in an interview with Jim Leherer on PBS after the Obamacare vote when Leherer reminded him that there was no public option and Obama lied and said " I never campaigned for the public option".
So be prepared for " I never said all the sanctions had to stay in place until Iran proved they were complying." And, " I never said Iran had to agree to completely unfettered surprise inspections". The one promise Obama seems willing to stand by is " if you like your nuclear reactors you can keep your nuclear reactors."
Unlike Nancy Pelosi who went along with the bait and switch on healthcare, this congress isn't going to let that happen with just as many Democrats as Republicans refusing to go along with any "creative negotiations" which tries to call concessions to Iran anything other than what they are.  Which means congress has a veto proof majority to refuse to go along. 
So when the senate bill  on the Iran negotiations which passed in committee 19-0 is passed by the whole senate, it might be a good idea for some in congress to publicly make clear what Obama wont -- that there will be no lifting of congressional sanctions immediately upon signing an agreement and since Iran has been caught cheating before, unfettered inspections to make sure Iran is complying is non-negotiable. If Iran wants the sanctions lifted, if they are being truthful that their nuclear program is only peaceful, they should have no problem with  agreeing to any of that. If. 
And that would actually help Obama  in the negotiations.  Iran would know that if they want a deal that eventually lifts all the sanctions it's congress they have to satisfy not Obama.  And unlike Obama, there won't be any "creative negotiations"  with congress.  That would save everyone a lot of time.  And Obama's face. And convince Iran that their current positions won't get them the results they want. And it will also tell Obama that trying to pave the way to make concessions to Iran just to say he made a deal  isn't going to work either. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A few tips for a successful Hillary Clinton campaign.

Here are a few things for Hillary Clinton to keep in mind to guarantee a successful presidential campaign:

 1. Clinton needs to distance herself as far from president Obama and Nancy Pelosi as humanly possible.  Getting too close to either of them would require a political HazMat suit. It's best to stay away.  Say thanks but no  thanks to offers of campaign appearances. Though both will give endorsements they will  mean nothing.  And should be accepted  like a birthday kiss on the cheek from an aunt you think is weird and needs a shower and you hope goes home early.

Pelosi it should be remembered, was, in 2008, one of the engineers behind one of the most rigged and underhanded and dishonest Democratic presidential primaries since the politics of Boss Tweed. She along with other DNC officials tried to disenfranchise 1,600,000 Democratic voters in Florida and Michgan, two states where Clinton had beaten Obama by landslide numbers so their votes wouldn't count. Pelosi consistently lied about the role of super delegates to try and give Obama an edge, famously said Obama was ready to be president from day one and eventually sold out congressional Democrats , herself and the American people by capitulating to Obama's sell out of health care by dropping the public option which she at one time said was the "centerpiece" of healthcare reform and which eventually  led to Democrats getting wiped out of the House in 2010.

The Democrats are in serious need of a major house cleaning and the party is currently in shambles, much like the way Republicans were after 8 years of George W. Bush, the result of having to defend a duplicitous, unqualified and failed president who has probably told more outright lies and reneged on or did an about face on more promises than any politician in history.

2.  Ignore so called "progressive" support groups like Daily Kos, MoveOn, and ThinkProgress.  These groups have become Tea Party Left  but without the influence the Tea Party had on Republicans.    These groups support outcomes on domestic issues that are  traditional Democratic goals and worth achieving, especially economically,  but lie, distort and fabricate on a daily basis in support of their agenda  as much as the right wing Tea Party does, when its not necessary to lie.  And their foreign policy positions are and have been a disaster and usually based on ignorance since they are against anything that might be construed as actually standing up to a dangerous adversary.  It's one thing to have been against the war in Vietnam in 1968 and to have been right. It's another to think its still 1968.

As an example  MoveOn currently portrays Democrats skeptical of the Iran framework deal which is already falling apart, as " Pro War Democrats".  This in spite of the fact that Iran's take on the deal is the opposite of what Obama said it was. Clinton doesn't need to be associated with that kind of stupidity.

These groups take foreign policy positions that have no intelligent basis or facts to support them and seem to be willing to play Russian Roulette with a nuclear Iran.  These are the same  groups who rolled over and played dead for Obama while he sold out and undercut every domestic Democratic goal or promise and like the Tea Party on the right, they frame everything in partisan terms. If Republicans offered free puppies to everyone they'd accuse Republicans of running puppy mills.  They put all the onus of congressional skepticism  on the Iran deal on Republicans while most Democrats are just as skeptical. So Clinton will always run the risk of  being put in an embarrassing position if she is seen to publicly align with them to closely. 

While some of these groups boast multi-million member email lists, most people on the lists aren't influenced. When MoveOn circulated a petition for Obama to renege on his pledge of a military strike against Assad if  he used chemical weapons,  less than 2% signed the petition while 98% didn't.  And while Obama did finally decide to put his integrity to a congressional vote, (his integrity lost), MoveOn tried to claim it was their petition that stopped the missile strike against Assad's military (which in the end would have saved thousands of lives so if MoveOn wants to they can take credit for thousands of additional dead Syrian civilians).

Most importantly these groups cannot influence an election. They fell flat on their faces trying to defeat Rahm  Emanuel in the mayoral race in Chicago after calling him every name in the book including being a sell out of Democratic principles and in the pockets of corporate interests while conveniently ignoring the fact that this underhanded corporate sellout was Obama's choice to be his chief of staff  for four years  and  probably had a lot to do with Obama's selling out health care reform to corporate interests and Wall Street reform to the bankers.  Everything these groups had to say about Emanuel they could've said about Obama four years ago but were too partisan and dishonest to do. And didn't have the guts. So they are not only without influence, they can be accused of hypocrisy.  Clinton should  deal with them using the Crazy Aunt strategy. 

3.  Keep the national news media at arms length and don't overestimate their influence or underestimate their lack of influence.

This doesn't mean shut them out or not be accessible. That is impossible and besides, wouldn't look good.  But it does mean don't be afraid to throw some of their nonsensical and juvenile questions back in their faces or hoist them on their own petard. Most of the American people have little to no respect for them and they have little or no influence on anyone's opinion. They usually have their own agenda which is generally about  trying to impress their friends. Which, based on cable news ratings are about the only people they are impressing.

The days of Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, John Chancelor and Frank Reynolds are long gone. More recently,  Dianne Sawyer is gone too. CNN and MSNBC's ratings start with a zero and there aren't any Fox News viewers who can win an election for Hillary nor would she need them, though if the Republicans don't field a credible  enough candidate to oppose her (Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio  not among them)  there are enough conservatives who praised her when she was in the senate ( John Mc Cain and Peter King of New York to name two) along with a liberal independent like Sen. Bernie Sanders, to put together a rare coalition.

But how to deal with the news media who are still smarting from the way Bill gave them enough rope to hang themselves and look stupid on Whitewater  will be Hillary's biggest challenge. Treating them with thinly veiled contempt when its deserved is not a bad strategy since most Americans have contempt for them to begin with. Remember, not one of them, not one, has the courage to stand on their own on anything. They run in herds like mindless water buffalo and will only attack in groups and if they feel it's safe. Stand up to them when they're being stupid,  and make any one of them look ignorant and they'll all back down and look for something else to hunt. 

A recent case in point: the so called email "scandal".

Since the email nonsense became an issue the State Department and White House email servers have both been hacked and her server wasn't. So to anyone who wants to make a security issue out of her use of her own email server, it looks like a pretty good decision now since her server was more secure than the State Department's or that of the White House.  She can always joke that given the hacking, if she is elected president she will bring in the same people who maintain her email system to do the same for the White House and State Department.

Case in point #2:  News media opinion. 

In discussing the Clinton announcement Peter Beinart on CNN said that Clinton must run on a continuation of Obama's policies otherwise she will seem " inauthentic". You will have to go pretty far and wide to find a political assessment as blatantly stupid and out of touch with reality as this one.  Of every point Beinart made, the precise opposite is true.

Obama sold out health care reform to the big corporate health insurance companies by dropping the public option, sold out Wall Street reform to the big banks, touted Yemen as one of his big foreign policy successes before it collapsed into chaos, called Isis the "junior varsity", rejected Clinton's advice and the advice of 3 secretaries of defense who all quit over Obama's refusal to take the same advice of arming the moderate Syrian rebels to stop Isis in their tracks before they got bigger,  was rolled by Putin in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and so far is looking foolish on the Iran negotiations since Iran is now saying everything Obama claimed is part of the deal isn't part of the deal which Obama said "was not a surprise",  but yet had no trouble getting  into a war of words with Netanyahu. Add to that the economic recovery is tepid, the ACLU has called Obama's  record  on civil liberties "disgusting" , even sycophants like MoveOn accuse Obama of offering cuts in Social Security to Republicans, and a continuation of all of Obama's inauthentic policies is something  only a lunatic would do.

Clinton distancing herself from that kind of record is not just common sense,it's vital.   The only thing that would be "inauthentic" to use Breinart's word, would be to pretend Obama was a success and some kind of  strong leader that the country wants more of  in the name of partisan politics when everyone, including Democrats,  knows he isn't. In fact, there is more buyers remorse among those who had supported Obama than with any Democratic politician in history. 

The only authentic thing for Clinton to do is what she's already done to an extent when she pointed out in her book the rift between her and Obama on Isis and arming the Syrian rebels and that Obama's credo of "don't do stupid stuff" was, in Clinton's words, not an organizing principle. 

As long as Hillary doesn't take anything the news media says seriously, remembers their bias, dishonesty and ineptitude in 2008, and acknowledges Obama's failures by promising to fix what needs fixing, she will be authentic. Anything else would be inauthentic. So in all cases ignore any and all opinion coming from the news media and their ignoring good vs bad policy wanting instead to focus on personality and rifts.

Republicans are already trying to portray Clinton as a continuation of Obama's failed polices. Rejecting those policies which in every case has  led to failure, and putting real distance between herself and Obama is not just easy, it's credible. Clinton can point to disagreements with Obama when she was secretary of state and make clear she will improve on or change policies both foreign and domestic she disagrees with and thinks needs changing.

But Clinton needs to realize what she is dealing with when it comes to the news media.  They are not her friends.  Clinton had not even made her announcement when Brianna Keilar on CNN was already criticizing "the Clinton campaign"  even though there was no campaign yet. Clinton's announcement was still hours away but it wasn't too early to start bashing with CNN running a banner that read "Clinton  campaign grinds to a start" which would be an uncharacteristically clever line for CNN  if it were true. It wasn't.

Which leads back  to the best strategy in dealing with the news media:  Crazy Aunt works  here too.

Limit accessibility to national media  which has no influence anyway, while doubling the number of interviews given to small town and local news outlets in both TV and print. Local news outlets are apt to have more integrity than the national media, and less likely to be trying to impress their friends  by asking stupid questions.

If the  national media complains about the emphasis on local media over national,  accuse them of elitism. Cable news' influence with voters is zero and their reach is small.

According to Nielsen ratings,  on a day last July, Wolf Blitzer's flagship Situation Room on CNN between 5 -6 p.m. had a national audience of 28,000.  That  would be considered a lousy crowd at Yankee Stadium much less a national cable news network who, like other news media,  will try and cover her presidential campaign by playing their own game.  But to sparse crowds and empty seats.