Let’s look at 50 reasons, some large and some small, why W. inspired so much anger.
1. He stole the presidency in 2000. People may forget that Republicans in Florida purged more than 50,000 African-American voters before Election Day, and then went to the Supreme Court where the GOP-appointed majority stopped a recount that would have awarded the presidency to Vice-President Al Gore if all votes were counted. National news organizations verified that outcome long after Bush had been sworn in.
2. Bush’s lies started in that race. Bush ran for office claiming he was a “uniter, not a divider.” Even though he received fewer popular votes than Gore, he quickly claimed he had the mandate from the American public to push his right-wing agenda.
3. He covered up his past. He was a party boy, the scion of a powerful political family who got away with being a deserter during the Vietnam War. He was reportedly AWOL for over a year from his assigned unit, the Texas Air National Guard, which other military outfits called the “Champagne Division.”
4. He loved the death penalty. As Texas governor from 1995-2000, he signed the most execution orders of any governor in U.S. history—152 people, including the mentally ill and women who were domestic abuse victims. He spared one man’s life, a serial killer.
5. He was a corporate shill from Day 1. Bush locked up the GOP nomination by raising more campaign money from corporate boardrooms than anyone at that time. He lunched with CEOs who would jet into Austin to “educate” him about their political wish lists.
6. He gutted global political progress. He pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol which set requirements for 38 nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, saying that abiding by the agreement would “harm our economy and hurt our workers.”
7. He embraced global isolationism. He withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, over Russia’s protest, taking the U.S. in a direction not seen since World War I.
8. He ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden. He ignored the Aug. 6, 2001 White House intelligence briefing titled, “Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S.” Meanwhile, his chief anti-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, and first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, testified in Congress that he was intent on invading Iraq within days of becoming president.
9. Ramped up war on drugs, not terrorists. The Bush administration had twice as many FBI agents assigned to the war on drugs than fighting terrorism before 9/11, and kept thousands in that role after the terror attacks.
10. “My Pet Goat.” He kept reading a picture book to grade-schoolers at a Florida school for seven minutes after his top aides told him that the World Trade Centers had been attacked in 9/11. Then Air Force One flew away from the school, vanishing for hours after the attack.
11. Squandered global goodwill after 9/11. Bush thumbed his nose at world sympathy for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, by declaring a global war on terrorism and declaring “you are either with us or against us.”
12. Bush turned to Iraq not Afghanistan. The Bush administration soon started beating war drums for an attack on Iraq, where there was no proven Al Qaeda link, instead of Afghanistan, where the 9/11 bombers had trained and Osama bin Laden was based. His 2002 State of the Union speech declared that Iraq was part of an “Axis of Evil.”
13. Attacked United Nation weapons inspectors. The march to war in Iraq started with White House attacks on the credibility of U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, whose claims that Saddam Hussein did not have nuclear weapons proved to be true.
14. He flat-out lied about Iraq’s weapons. In a major speech in October 2002, he said that Saddam Hussein had the capacity to send unmanned aircraft to the U.S. with bombs that could range from chemical weapons to nuclear devices. “We cannot wait for the final proof—the smoking gun—that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud,” he said.
15. He ignored the U.N. and launched a war. The Bush administration tried to get the U.N. Security Council to authorize an attack on Iraq, which it refused to do. Bush then decided to lead a “preemptive” attack regardless of international consequences. He did not wait for any congressional authorization to launch a war.
16. Abandoned international Criminal Court. Before invading Iraq, Bush told the U.N. that the U.S. was withdrawing from ratifying the International Criminal Court Treaty to protect American troops from persecution and to allow it to pursue preemptive war.
17. Colin Powell’s false evidence at U.N. The highly decorated soldier turned Secretary of State presented false evidence at the U.N. as the American mainstream media began its jingoistic drumbeat to launch a war of choice on Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
18. He launched a war on CIA whistleblowers. When a former ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson, wrote a New York Times op-ed saying there was no nuclear threat from Iraq, the White House retaliated by leaking the name and destroying the career of his wife, Valerie Plame, one of the CIA’s top national security experts.
19. Bush pardoned the Plame affair leaker. Before leaving office, Bush pardoned the vice president’s top staffer, Scooter Libby, for leaking Plame’s name to the press.
20. Bush launched the second Iraq War. In April 2003, the U.S. military invaded Iraq for the second time in two decades, leading to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and more than a million refugees as a years of sectarian violence took hold on Iraq. Nearly 6,700 U.S. soldiers have died in the Iraq and Afghan wars.
21. Baghdad looted except for oil ministry. The Pentagon failure to plan for a military occupation and transition to civilian rule was seen as Baghdad was looted while troops guarded the oil ministry, suggesting this war was fought for oil riches, not terrorism.
22. The war did not make the U.S. safer. In 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate (a consensus report of the heads of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies) asserted that the Iraq war had increased Islamic radicalism and had worsened the terror threat.
23. U.S. troops were given unsafe gear. From inadequate vests from protection against snipers to Humvees that could not protect soldiers from roadside bombs, the military did not sufficiently equip its soldiers in Iraq, leading to an epidemic of brain injuries.
24. Meanwhile, the war propaganda continued. From landing on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit to declare “mission accomplished” to surprising troops in Baghdad with a Thanksgiving turkey that was a table decoration used as a prop, Bush defended his war of choice by using soldiers as PR props.
25. He never attended soldiers’ funerals. For years after the war started, Bush never attended a funeral even though as of June 2005, 144 soldiers (of the 1,700 killed thus far) were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, about two miles from the White House.
26. Meanwhile, war profiteering surged. The list of top Bush administration officials whose former corporate employers made billions in Pentagon contracts starts with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, which made $39.5 billion, and included his daughter, Liz Cheney, who ran a $300 million Middle East partnership program.
27. Bush ignored international ban on torture. Suspected terrorists were captured and tortured by the U.S. military in Baghdad’s Abu Gharib prison, in the highest profile example of how the Bush White House ignored international agreements, such as the Geneva Convention, that banned torture, and created a secret system of detention that was unmasked when photos made their way to the American media outlets.
28. Created the blackhole at Gitmo and renditions. The Bush White House created the offshore military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as secret detention sites in eastern Europe to evade domestic and military justice systems. Many of the men still jailed in Cuba were turned over to the U.S. military by bounty hunters.
29. Bush violated U.S. Constitution as well. The Bush White House ignored basic civil liberties, most notably by launching a massive domestic spying program where millions of Americans’ online activities were monitored with the help of big telecom companies. The government had no search warrant or court authority for its electronic dragnet.
30. Iraq war created federal debt crisis. The total costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion, when the long-term medical costs are added in for wounded veterans, a March 2013 report by a Harvard researcher has estimated. Earlier reports said the wars cost $2 billion a week.
31. He cut veterans’ healthcare funding. At the height of the Iraq war, the White House cut funding for veterans’ healthcare by several billion dollars, slashed more than one billion from military housing and opposed extending healthcare to National Guard families, even as they were repeatedly tapped for extended and repeat overseas deployments.
32. Then Bush decided to cut income taxes. In 2001 and 2003, a series of bills lowered income tax rates, cutting federal revenues as the cost of the foreign wars escalated. The tax cuts disproportionately benefited the wealthy, with roughly one-quarter going to the top one percent of incomes compared to 8.9% going to the middle 20 percent. The cuts were supposed to expire in 2013, but most are still on the books.
33. Assault on reproductive rights. From the earliest days of his first term, the Bush White House led a prolonged assault on reproductive rights. He cut funds for U.N. family planning programs, barred military bases from offering abortions, put right-wing evangelicals in regulatory positions where they rejected new birth control drugs, and issued regulations making fetuses—but not women—eligible for federal healthcare.
34. Cut Pell Grant loans for poor students. His administration froze Pell Grants for years and tightened eligibility for loans, affecting 1.5 million low-income students. He also eliminated other federal job training programs that targeted young people.
35. Turned corporations loose on environment. Bush’s environmental record was truly appalling, starting with abandoning a campaign pledge to tax carbon emissions and then withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases. The Sierra Club lists 300 actions his staff took to undermine federal laws, from cutting enforcement budgets to putting industry lobbyists in charge of agencies to keeping energy policies secret.
36.. Said evolution was a theory—like intelligent design. One of his most inflammatory comments was saying that public schools should teach that evolution is a theory with as much validity as the religious belief in intelligent design, or God’s active hand in creating life.
37. Misguided school reform effort. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative made preparation for standardized tests and resulting test scores the top priority in schools, to the dismay of legions of educators who felt that there was more to learning than taking tests.
38. Appointed flank of right-wing judges. Bush’s two Supreme Court picks—Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito—have reliably sided with pro-business interests and social conservatives. He also elevated U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pickering to an appeals court, despite his known segregationist views.
39. Gutted the DOJ’s voting rights section. Bush’s Justice Department appointees led a multi-year effort to prosecute so-called voter fraud, including firing seven U.S. attorneys who did not pursue overtly political cases because of lack of evidence.
40. Meanwhile average household incomes fell. When Bush took office in 2000, median household incomes were $52,500. In 2008, they were $50,303, a drop of 4.2 percent, making Bush the only recent two-term president to preside over such a drop.
41. And millions more fell below the poverty line. When Bill Clinton left office, 31.6 million Americans were living in poverty. When Bush left office, there were 39.8 million, according to the U.S. Census, an increase of 26.1 percent. The Census said two-thirds of that growth occurred before the economic downturn of 2008.
42. Poverty among children also exploded. The Census also found that 11.6 million children lived below the poverty line when Clinton left office. Under Bush, that number grew by 21 percent to 14.1 million.
43. Millions more lacked access to healthcare. Following these poverty trends, the number of Americans without health insurance was 38.4 million when Clinton left office. When Bush left, that figure had grown by nearly 8 million to 46.3 million, the Census found. Those with employer-provided benefits fell every year he was in office.
44. Bush let black New Orleans drown. Hurricane Katrina exposed Bush’s attitude toward the poor. He didn’t visit the city after the storm destroyed the poorest sections. He praised his Federal Emergency Management Agency director for doing a “heck of a job” as the federal government did little to help thousands in the storm’s aftermath and rebuilding.
45. Yet pandered to religious right. Months before Katrina hit, Bush flew back to the White House to sign a bill to try to stop the comatose Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube from being removed, saying the sanctity of life was at stake.
46. Set record for fewest press conferences. During his first term that was defined by the 9/11 attacks, he had the fewest press conferences of any modern president and had never met with the New York Times editorial board.
47. But took the most vacation time. Reporters analyzing Bush’s record found that he took off 1,020 days in two four-year terms—more than one out of every three days. No other modern president comes close. Bush also set the record for the longest vacation among modern presidents—five weeks, the Washington Post noted.
48. Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld. Not since Richard Nixon’s White House and the era of the Watergate burglary and expansion of the Vietnam War have there been as many power-hungry and arrogant operators holding the levers of power. Cheney ran the White House; Rove the political operation for corporations and the religious right; and Rumsfeld oversaw the wars.
49. He’s escaped accountability for his actions. From Iraq war General Tommy Franks’ declaration that “we don’t do body counts” to numerous efforts to impeach Bush and top administration officials—primarily over launching the war in Iraq—he has never been held to account in any official domestic or international tribunal.
50. He may have stolen the 2004 election as well. The closest Bush came to a public referendum on his presidency was the 2004 election, which came down to the swing state of Ohio. There the GOP’s voter suppression tactics rivaled Florida in 2000 and many unresolved questions remain about whether the former GOP Secretary of State altered the Election Night totals from rural Bible Belt counties.
There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates on its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power. 
During the last five years, the news media have been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: in the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War.
As I wrote in ” The Party is Over,” the present objective of congressional Republicans is to render the executive branch powerless, at least until a Republican president is elected (a goal which voter suppression laws in GOP-controlled states are clearly intended to accomplish). President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets; because of incessant GOP filibustering, not only could he not fill the large number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, he could not even get his most innocuous presidential appointees into office. Democrats controlling the Senate have responded by weakening the filibuster of nominations, but Republicans are sure to react with other parliamentary delaying tactics. This strategy amounts to congressional nullification of executive branch powers by a party that controls a majority in only one house of Congress.
Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct “dragnet” surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented — at least since the McCarthy era — witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called “Insider Threat Program”). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress, to include arranging the forced landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory. Despite their habitual cant about executive overreach by Obama, the would-be dictator, we have until recently heard very little from congressional Republicans about these actions — with the minor exception of a gadfly like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrats, save for a few mavericks like Ron Wyden of Oregon, are not unduly troubled, either — even to the extent of permitting seemingly perjured congressional testimony under oath by executive branch officials on the subject of illegal surveillance.
by John Sexton
Obamacare did not help the President get reelected Tuesday, but exit polls suggest the narrative that Obama cares more may have been the difference between winning and losing.
We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid” coined by James Carville during the 1992 Clinton campaign. Focusing on the economy was clearly the GOP game plan in 2012 and Mitt Romney often beat Obama in polls of who would do a better job handling the recovery. NBC exit polling Tuesday showed Romney tied with Obama on this issue which was the number one concern of a majority of voters. So why didn’t Romney win?
NBC exit polling suggests an answer “On the attribute of whether the president or his GOP rival was ‘a candidate who cares about people like me’ Obama had a massive lead over Romney.” In other words, the candidates were tied on the big issue of the day, but voters were convinced Obama cared more. Advantage Obama.
CBS exit polling points toward the same conclusion albeit in a more specific way. In their poll, 15 percent of respondents said Obama’s response to hurricane Sandy was the most important factor in their vote. 15 percent! Another 26 percent rated it an “important factor” in their decision.
The importance of Sandy to Obama’s closing momentum was noted by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews who, in a moment of partisan honesty, said “I’m so glad we had that storm last week…politically I should say, not in terms of hurting people. The storm brought in possibilities for good politics.”
While many Republicans felt Obama’s tour of New Jersey was a photo op by a smart politician, there’s little doubt that many voters were favorably impressed. One can easily imagine this being especially true in Florida which is often the scene of hurricane disasters.
It seems the idea that Obama cared was more important to many Americans than Benghazi, or Iran’s nuclear ambitions, our growing debt, our failing schools or any number of other issues conservatives raised prior to Tuesday. A significant number of voters, who probably aren’t familiar with the details of these issues anyway, voted on what cut through. An image of compassion. That may not be strictly rational but the votes still count.
It’s at least arguable that the compassion vote has been a key segment of every winning presidential election in the last 25 years. George H.W. Bush gave a speech at the RNC in 1988 in which he promised a “1000 points of light” which would “keep America moving forward, always forward” Sound familiar?
In 1992 Bill Clinton was known for his charisma but also his empathy. He was someone who would “feel your pain.” In a town hall debate that year he told one woman “in my state, there’s a good chance that when people lose their jobs I’ll know them by their name.” This is more than a bit implausible since Arkansas had 2.4 million residents in 1992. It didn’t matter. Big-hearted Bill won that year and won again in 1996 despite the disastrous (for Democrats) ‘1994 midterm elections. Again, this should sound vaguely familiar.
In 2000 America was ready for a change. The turned to notably un-slick George W. Bush who announced that he was a new breed of GOP politician, a compassionate conservative. He ran against a politician known for being stiff and awkward and he won, just barely.
In the wake of 9/11 and two wars, Bush seemed to be on the ropes in 2004. He was aided by a late surge of evangelical voters. A Pew poll found that among Bush voters 44 percent listed “moral values” as their top issue that year while Kerry voters were concerned about Iraq and the economy. No doubt many Democrats felt voters had lost their minds, just as many conservatives feel about Obama voters this year.
Finally we reach 2008 where the nation was introduced to Obama as a man whose thinking was based on empathy. So much so that after 9/11 he wrote a column for his local paper explaining “The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers.” Whether he was voting against Justice Roberts confirmation or praising Planned Parenthood he framed his arguments in terms of “empathy.”
After his election, Obama signature legislative achievement was called Obamacare by his opponents. He eventually embraced the name saying “I do care.” He also added a warning “If the other side wants to be the folks who don’t care, that’s fine with me.”
Conservatives may understandably balk at the idea that compassion is a necessary element of a winning campaign. After all, we pride ourselves on being the daddy party, not the mommy party. We’re offering necessary fiscal discipline, not more government paternalism. We’re offering the nation math not a shoulder to cry on. Tuesday night we learned that competence and business savvy wasn’t enough.
For the record, I think Mitt Romney genuinely is compassionate, but he clearly didn’t like to talk about his own acts of charity and kindness. That’s a real problem when your opponents are spending several hundred million dollars to convince people you don’t care.
And that’s another point that demonstrates compassion was the key framework of this election. Whether it was the war on women, the 47 percent, vulture capitalism or the Joe Biden telling black Americans they would be “back in chains” the message was simple–Romney doesn’t care about you. The ugly negatives combined with the image of Obama touring the wreckage is the warp and woof of the Democratic effort. And despite high unemployment and slow growth, it worked. Compassion trumped competence.
As a party emphasizing rugged individualism, entrepreneurship and small government, fighting a battle over who is most compassionate may not come easy to conservatives. It certainly won’t feel as natural as it does for big government liberals. But there is good reason to think no one wins without winning, or at least strongly contesting, this battle. That may not be healthy for the country but it seems to be one of the few things that connects with millions of low information voters who enter voting booths with little else to go on.
It’s almost a cliche at this point: Conservative candidate declares how much he hates “The Gay” as a way to prove just how much of a family man he his. Family values are important, don’tcha know? Vote for me! I hate gays and I believe in protecting our children from them!
Being gay is bad, but I’ll molest kids instead!
Such is the story of Eric Bodenweiser, front runner for State Senator in Delware. Via Washington Blade:
The indictment includes 113 felony sex charges, including 39 counts of unlawful sexual intercourse — first-degree and 74 counts of unlawful sexual contact — second-degree. Although the indictment doesn’t identify the gender of the victim, the Gape Gazette identified the victim as a boy who allegedly was sexually abused by Bodenweiser between Oct. 1, 1987 and Aug. 31, 1990 when he was between the ages of 10 and 13.
The real story here isn’t that the GOP has yet another pedophile in its ranks, the Democratic Party has had some as well. The take away from this is the artificial nature of the GOP’s opposition to homosexuality. It seems that every other week, another secretly gay Republican comes tumbling out of the closet or another “pro-family” right winger turns out to be a sexual predator.
This is a clear indication that the GOP demands conformity on this issue regardless of how the candidate or elected official actually feels. The idea that a pedophile can look at homosexuality and declare that being gay is a threat to children is laughable. That a gay politician must vocally condemn his own sexual orientation while hiding it from the public is sad beyond words.
In both cases, it is absolutely mandatory to follow the party line. This quashing of dissent or reasonable discourse reveals that the GOP’s “hatred” of homosexuals is nothing but a political ploy to enrage religious bigots. They don’t really care about sexual orientation outside of the votes such intolerance can get them.
The fact that conservatives constantly (and 100% falsely) seek to tie homosexuality to pedophilia is more proof that the goal is to whip up hatred for crass political gain. Pedophilia is universally despised (outside of actual pedophiles), and has nothing to do with homosexuality, so what better vehicle to deliver misplaced loathing to a gullible electorate?
Is there anything more grotesque than advocating a hatred not personally fell, demonizing millions of innocent citizens and creating an atmosphere in which homosexuals are bullied to death and killed outright for nothing more than a politician’s need to stay in power?
I think not.
Correction: The original wording referred to “sexual preference.” This would incorrectly suggest that there is a choice involved. The correct phrasing, “sexual orientation” has been added. The author apologizes and will now deliberately stub his toe as penance.
If you don’t count Clint Eastwood, whose rambling, Bob Newhartesque conversation with an empty chair included implicit criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rand Paul may have been the only speaker at the Republican National Convention last week who questioned his party’s mindless militarism. The Kentucky senator said “Republicans must acknowledge that not every dollar spent on the military is necessary or well-spent.”
That mild rebuke—which came, fittingly enough, from the son of the Texas congressman whose resistance to promiscuous interventionism distinguished him from the other contenders for the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination—was no match for the foreign policy vision endorsed by the rest of the speakers, which amounted to a full-throated declaration of war on tyrants throughout the world. This view of America as the righter of all wrongs is hard to reconcile with Republican promises of fiscal responsibility.
John McCain, the GOP standard-bearer in 2008, posited in his convention speech that “it is our willingness to shape world events for the better that has kept us safe, increased our prosperity, preserved our liberty, and transformed human history.” The Arizona senator called not only for a continuing occupation of Afghanistan but also for U.S. intervention in Iran, Syria, and every other place where “people are seizing control of their own destinies” by “liberating themselves from oppressive rulers.”
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice likewise argued that the United States, through military force and foreign aid in support of “free peoples” and “fledgling democracies,” must “sustain a balance of power that favors freedom.” Conceding that “there is weariness, a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough,” she warned that the alternative is “chaos.”
At the same time, Rice worried that “when the world looks at us today, they see an American government that cannot live within its means.” Might that perception have something to do with the American government’s unbounded understanding of its role in the world
To the extent that there has been any attention paid to public policy issues amid all the mud-slinging in the 2012 presidential campaign, the most frequent subject has been jobs — and which candidate can create more of them over the next four years.
So far, that debate mostly involves attacking the other guy, rather than advancing any real solution. The Obama campaign has been trying to define Mitt Romney as an effete champion of outsourcing (with some justification) while the Romney camp has dwelled on Barack Obama’s failure to reignite the job market (also with some justification, though in some significant part the failure is because of GOP obstruction).
Their descriptions of their own plans are no more edifying. As the incumbent, Obama has to run on his record — and despite his talk of bold solutions, that means either exaggerating his successes or making a lot of excuses.
Romney, meanwhile, offers little more than a collection of vague allusions to the wholly disproven theory that tax cuts lead to hiring.
The fact is that there is no Democratic jobs plan, if Republicans are able to keep either their control of the House or their ability to paralyze the Senate, or both. And there is no Republican jobs plan at all.
PHOENIX — America’s self-proclaimed toughest sheriff finds himself entangled these days in his own thorny legal troubles: a federal grand jury probe over alleged abuse of power, Justice Department accusations of racial profiling and revelations that his department didn’t adequately investigate hundreds of Arizona sex-crime cases.
Rather than seek cover, though, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is seeking to grab the spotlight in the same unorthodox fashion that has helped boost his career as a nationally known lawman.
Arpaio on Thursday unveiled preliminary results of an investigation, conducted by members of his volunteer cold-case posse, into the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, a controversy that has been widely debunked but which remains alive in the eyes of some conservatives.
At a news conference, Arpaio said the probe revealed that there was probable cause to believe Obama’s long-form birth certificate released by the White House in April is a computer-generated forgery. He also said the selective service card completed by Obama in 1980 in Hawaii also was most likely a forgery.
“We don’t know who the perpetrators are of these documents,” Arpaio said, although he said he doesn’t think the president forged the documents.
Earlier, the 79-year-old Republican sheriff defended his need to spearhead such an investigation after nearly 250 people connected to an Arizona tea party group requested one last summer.
“I’m not going after Obama,” said Arpaio, who has criticized the president’s administration for cutting off his federal immigration powers and conducting a civil rights investigation of his office. “I’m just doing my job.”
Some critics suggest Arpaio’s aim is to divert attention from his own legal troubles while raising his political profile as he seeks a sixth term this year. The sheriff vehemently denies such strategies are in play.
“You say I need this to get elected? Are you kidding me? I’ve been elected five times. I don’t need this,” he said in a recent interview.
Democratic state Sen. Steve Gallardo said Arpaio is pandering to relentless critics of the president.
“It doesn’t matter what President Obama does, they’ll never support him,” Gallardo said. “It’s those folks who will continue to write checks to Sheriff Joe because of this stuff.”
Arpaio’s probe comes amid a federal grand jury investigation into the sheriff’s office on criminal abuse-of-power allegations since at least December 2009, focusing on the sheriff’s anti-public corruption squad. Separately, the U.S. Justice Department has accused Arpaio’s office of racially profiling Latinos, basing immigration enforcement on racially charged citizen complaints and punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish. Arpaio denies the allegations and said the investigation is politically motivated.
Critics also have sought Arpaio’s resignation for more than 400 sex-crimes cases over a three-year period ending in 2007 that were either inadequately investigated or weren’t investigated at all by the sheriff’s office after the crimes were reported. The sheriff’s office said the backlog was cleared up after the problem was brought to Arpaio’s attention.
Speculation about Obama’s birthplace has swirled among conservatives for years. “Birthers” maintain that Obama is ineligible to hold the country’s highest elected office because, they contend, he was born in Kenya, his father’s homeland. Some contend Obama’s birth certificate must be a fake.
Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama’s citizenship, and Obama released a copy of his long-form birth certificate in April in an attempt to quell citizenship questions. Courts also have rebuffed lawsuits over the issue. Of late, the president’s re-election campaign has poked fun at it, selling coffee cups with a picture of the president’s birth record.
On Thursday, Obama’s campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt offered a light-hearted dismissal of Arpaio’s probe – he tweeted what he referred to as a “live link” to the sheriff’s news conference, but instead provided a link to a snippet of the old conspiracy-theory based TV series, “The X-Files.”
Arpaio has said he took deliberate steps to avoid the appearance that his investigation is politically motivated. Instead of using taxpayer money, the sheriff farmed it out to lawyers and retired police officers who are volunteers in a posse that examines cold cases. Other posses assist deputies in duties that include providing free police protection at malls during the holiday season or transporting people to jail.
Even as he is under fire by the federal government, the sheriff remains popular among Republicans.
GOP presidential candidates have courted him for his endorsement throughout the primary season. At last week’s GOP presidential debate in Arizona, Arpaio won loud cheers. During a question about Arizona’s border woes, Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said the government ought to give local police agencies the chance to enforce immigration law as Arpaio has.
Bruce Merrill, a longtime pollster and senior research fellow at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said the subject of the investigation plays to the sheriff’s base of supporters. And, he said, it highlights Arpaio’s gift for publicity.
“It’s something that the press will cover,” Merrill said. “He’ll get a lot of exposure from it.”
Updated at 8:21 a.m. ET: LONDON — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested that Syria’s opposition will ultimately arm itself and said she would bet against President Bashar Assad staying in power.
Her comments came ahead of a meeting of Western and Arab nations on Friday that was expected to demand that Syria implement an immediate cease-fire to allow aid in for desperate civilians in bombarded cities such as Homs amid an 11-month-old revolt.
Speaking directly to Russia and China, which have blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions designed to end the violence in Syria, Clinton said Thursday that the government’s “brutality” against its own people was unsustainable in the Internet age.
“The strategy followed by the Syrians and their allies is one that can’t stand the test of legitimacy or even brutality for any length of time,” Clinton told reporters in London.
“There will be increasingly capable opposition forces. They will from somewhere, somehow, find the means to defend themselves as well as begin offensive measures,” she added.
“It is clear to me there will be a breaking point,” Clinton said. “I wish it would be sooner, so that more lives would be saved, than later, but I have absolutely no doubt there will be such a breaking point.”
Western and Arab foreign ministers were due to meet in Tunis on Friday.
While speaking to a group in London on Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discusses the violent situation in Syria and the future of President Bashar al-Assad.
The “Friends of Syria” meeting, that Clinton will attend, will call on Syrian forces to stop firing to give international aid groups access to areas worst hit by the violence which are running out of medicine and food, according to a draft declaration obtained by Reuters.
The draft also “recognized the Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change,” a phrase which appeared to fall short of full endorsement of the most prominent group opposed to Assad.
About 70 nations, including the United States, Turkey, and European and Arab countries that want Assad to step down, will take part in the talks, but Russia and China, which have jointly vetoed two U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria, say they will stay away.
U.S. officials avoided answering questions on whether the group may discuss the possibility of arming the opposition, something that some nations favor and that the United States, in a change in emphasis, on Tuesday suggested could become an alternative.
Alexei Pushkov, a Russian lawmaker, said Friday after meeting Assad that the Syrian president sounded confident and demonstrated no sign he would he step aside. Pushkov warned that arming the Syrian opposition would fuel civil war.
Under mounting international pressure against Syria, the United Nations says Syria is guilty of crimes against humanity. ITV’s Paul Davies reports.
The Syrian military pounded rebel-held Sunni Muslim districts of the besieged city of Homs for the 20th day on Thursday, despite international protest over the previous day’s death toll of more than 80, including two Western journalists, activists said.
Overnight, at least two people were killed as Syrian troops resumed the shelling of Homs, activists said.
More than 5,400 people have been killed in the nearly year-old uprising.
The draft conclusion of the “Friends of Syria” meeting also calls on Damascus “immediately to cease all violence” and pledges to deliver humanitarian supplies within 48 hours if Syria “stopped its assault on civilian areas and permitted access.”
The group will also commit to enforce sanctions aimed at pressuring Syria authorities to halt violence, including travel bans, asset freezes, a halt to purchase of Syrian oil, ceasing infrastructure investment and financial services relating to Syria, reducing diplomatic ties and preventing arms shipments to the Syrian government.
After the death of two more journalists, Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, the city of Homs remains under siege and civilians have few medical supplies. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.
If Assad fails to comply within 72 hours, a senior administration official in Washington said repercussions from the Tunis group might include new steps to plug the gap in sanctions Syria has tried to evade, including efforts to move money through Asia, Russia and Eastern Europe.
For decades, lobbies and special interests have ruled Capitol Hill, with PACs effectively steering the outcome of every major political campaign by injecting money and buying influence. Now we find out that Texas Congressman and GOP candidate Ron Paul has been targeted by a new breed of PAC, this time with foreign backing.
In recent years, activists and advocates have won back some ground in terms of placing limits and disclosure on campaign donations from individuals, businesses and have attempted to rein in some of the financial influence of political action committees (PACs). Just when one dragon was slayed, another, more menacing one was born. Enter the world of the Super PAC.
As 501c organizations, these new Super PACs take advantage of recent election funding rulings which allow corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to operate totally independently – and spend as much as they wish on election campaign media packages. Super PACs can also hold fundraisers to solicit money from donors – with no limits. The rise of the Super PAC has meant a complete runaround of any campaign ethics, or campaign finance regulation.
Where the game was often played according to how much special interests could buy a candidate, the game has now shifted into darker areas, namely, how special interests can take down, and eliminate a candidate during the early part of an election cycle. South Carolina residents are currently being slammed with a record number of Super PAC-funded TV adverts, some of which are negative in nature. More shocking is the fact that all these Super PAC ads are being paid for by just a handful of wealthy donors and establishment syndicates.
According to a recent article in the Washington Post this week, David Donnelly, National Campaigns Director for the Public Campaign Action Fund revealed, “There are probably fewer than 100 people who are fueling 90 percent of this outside money right now.” The report also adds:
In total, these new and unrestrained political action committees spent more than $15 million supporting GOP candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire and are now outspending the official campaigns in South Carolina by 2 to 1, according to advertising and expenditure data.
Out of this small handful of mega-rich donors, the Israeli lobby is represented heavily. The Washington Post adds here:
And casino magnate Sheldon Adelson recently dashed off a $5 million check to a group backing former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), marking what may be the largest single political contribution in U.S. history. Adelson is well known for supporting hard-line policies favoring Israel while also advocating measures that would benefit the gambling industry.
This level of allowable interference in US campaigns has seen Super PACs propping up certain alternate horses in the political race, in order to take votes away from the any serious rival to Establishment’s front-runner of choice. Based on election results and major polling, Mitt Romney’s only serious rival coming out of New Hampshire would be Ron Paul, yet, large sums of money are still flowing elsewhere in the field. Why?
In terms of the remaining GOP field, one could not find a more unappealing and unpopular candidate to commit millions in PAC funds for the duration of the primaries than Rick Santorum. Similarly, a complete non-runner and failure in all polling, John Huntsman, managed to bag a cool $2.5 million late in the game from the Super PAC, ‘Our Destiny’, which floated his campaign through Iowa and New Hampshire. Both men have secured some heavy backing, but skeptics should really be asking after these primaries have concluded, how a candidate with no real national support base could continue through the primaries – at such a great expense.