Sunday, August 30, 2015

Last Call For Lies, Dirty Lies, And Cheney Lies

If there's one person who lacks any and all reliability and credibility on US foreign policy matters, it's former Vice President Dick Cheney, who is desperately trying to remain relevant by directly attacking President Obama's nuclear deal on Iran.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz Cheney launched a broad attack against President Barack Obama's foreign policy in an excerpt of a forthcoming book that was published in The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

Both Cheneys accused Obama of lying about the Iran nuclear deal and said that the agreement would lead to the first use of a nuclear weapon since 1945.

"Nearly everything the president has told us about his Iranian agreement is false. He has said it will prevent the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons, but it will actually facilitate and legitimize an Iranian nuclear arsenal," they wrote. "The Obama agreement will lead to a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclear-arms race in the Middle East and, more than likely, the first use of a nuclear weapon since Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

The Obama administration has aggressively defended the deal, saying that it cuts off all pathways to a nuclear bomb. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that a better deal simply does not exist.

The Cheneys also blamed the rise of terrorist groups like ISIS on the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2011 -- a talking point that Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bushhas also used.

"He has abandoned Iraq, leaving a vacuum that is being tragically and ominously filled by our enemies. He is on course to forsake Afghanistan as well," the Cheneys wrote.

This would be laughable if this wasn't the same line of "mushroom cloud" garbage that was fed to the American people about Iraq, which caused us to invade and cost trillions of dollars, tens of thousands of civilian lives, and thousands of American soldiers.  Now he's saying the same thing about Iran.  The guy should be laughed out of the room.

Instead he's in the Wall Street Journal and on a book tour.

Amazing.  Even with the hindsight of the Iraq disaster, he's still out there pitching the same outright lies and of all things, accusing the President of misleading the American people.  This guy.

Why isn't he in prison?

I know, I know, Obama said we need to look forward.  But this is one time I wish the guy would have been vindictive as hell and put him and his boss in the slammer.

It's A Movement, Alright

Donald Trump is winning the Mad As Hell White Guy vote by pretty large margins.  Things went pretty well for middle-class white guys eight years ago, and an America where the rest of us are starting the catch up scares the hell out of them.

No wonder they're flocking to the GOP id.

Campaigning in Nashville, Tennessee, Trump on Saturday paid homage to his supporters — claiming they are a part of “a movement” and using colorful language to beg for their support.

“This is a movement,” said Trump, who often speaks about himself in campaign appearances. “I don’t want it to be about me. This is about common sense. It’s about doing the right thing.”

Trump also paid tribute to his setting, a country music hotbed and insisted there needed to be a greater emphasis on "law and order." And, as has become customary, he took shots at Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who is a rival for the Republican nomination.

Beyond the bragging, Trump’s appearance represented something more tangible: evidence of a campaign that has grown more tactically serious as it wears on.

His speech — full, as ever, with a mix of taunts and asides — was in front of the Presidential Presence Convention of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. The group that describes itself as “a grassroots movement of Republicans that seeks to restore the conservative principles of the Goldwater / Reagan Republicans.”

And those tactics are as old as time.  Blame those people for everything.

Mixed in with Trump’s talk of a “silent majority” was a call for “law and order.” He decried the rioting that took place in Baltimore in April in response to the death of a young black man in police custody.

“The police were not allowed to protect people,” said Trump. “We have to be tough. We have to be smart … I know cities where police are afraid to even talk to people.”

Trump said he has seen policing-related incidents that are “disgusting” and “horrible,” an apparent reference to the deaths of unarmed black Americans at the hands of police officers that have received significant attention over the last year. 
But he said that “99.9 percent” of what police do is good. “The problem is the good work doesn’t get shown on television,” he said.

And blame the media for giving those people a voice.

No Trump campaign stop is complete without a few shots at the media. At one point, as Trump was criticizing CNN’s coverage of a fundraiser he held on Friday — “We had this incredible event and they destroyed it,” he said — a supporter got his attention by shouting about “the criminal media.”

Trump used it as an opportunity to again emphasize the importance of his supporters. He attributed his continued lead in Republican primary polls to the intelligence of his supporters.

The reason is people in this country are smart. They don’t believe a lot of what they see in the media.”

Everybody's your enemy except for you and me friends, so what are you going to help me do to them in the elections, so we can put those people in their place?

Who do you trust?  Those people or the billionaire that you so desperately want to be?

He's the perfect Republican candidate for 2015 and his path to win is pretty clear.  Romney got 59% of the white vote in 2012 and lost.  At 61% he would have been a lot more competitive.  At 63% he would have won the popular vote but lost the electoral college. At 65% he would have been president, and that margin only was necessary because of record turnout among black voters.

The odds of Trump getting that percentage overall is extremely low.

But if he gets it, he wins.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Needs To Go

Yesterday I asked how Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz remained in charge of the DNC after making it pretty clear her loyalties were to Hillary Clinton and losing House seats stupidly.  Today I'm convinced more than ever that it's time for her to resign as chair of the DNC if this is true.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz prevented consideration of a resolution at the party’s summer meeting here that praised President Obama and offered backing for the nuclear agreement with Iran, according to knowledgeable Democrats.

The resolution was drafted with the intention of putting the national committee on record in support of the agreement as Congress prepares to take up the issue when members return from their August recess.

As a fallback, James Zogby, the co-chair of the Resolutions Committee, led a move to prepare a letter of support for the president and the Iran agreement that eventually gained signatures from a sizable majority of the members of the national committee. Zogby said Saturday that, in the end, this produced a satisfactory outcome.

“We wanted to show support for the president,” he said. “We found that the best way to show support was a letter that members would sign on to, and the overwhelming majority of DNC members signed onto the letter. This is the President Obama we elected in 2008 who said, ‘I choose diplomacy over conflict,’ and he did it.”

A party spokeswoman and said procedural issues prevented the proposed resolution from being considered. She did not directly address Wasserman Schultz’s role in the decision-making. Other Democrats said that it was congresswoman’s direct opposition that blocked its consideration.

Schultz has been an unmitigated disaster as DNC chair, with the Democrats losing the House and Senate under her tenure and giving Republicans that largest margin in the House in three generations. Now she sandbags the President on Iran?

Unacceptable.  She's clearly more afraid of AIPAC than Democrats, and that alone is a serious problem.  But when that turns into direct action against the President of her own party and his signature foreign policy achievment, she can't be shown the door quickly enough.

I'm tired of her losing.  I'm tired of her running against Barack Obama and losing to Tea Party Republicans.  I'm tired of her idiocy.

She needs to go.

Sunday Long Read: Structured To Deceive

Just in case you still had belief in humanity, Washington Post reporter Terrence McCoy brings us this story of how the structured settlement industry has been ripping off inner-city Baltimore black families over lead poisoning insurance payments.

The letter arrived in April last year, a mishmash of strange numbers and words. This at first did not alarm Rose. Most letters are that way for her — frustrating puzzles she can’t solve. Rose, who can scarcely read or write, calls herself a “lead kid.” Her childhood home, where lead paint chips blanketed her bedsheets like snowflakes, “affected me really bad,” she says. “In everything I do.” 
She says she can’t work a professional job. She can’t live alone. And, she says, she surely couldn’t understand this letter. 
So on that April day, the 20-year-old says she asked her mom to give it a look. Her mother glanced at the words, then back at her daughter. “What does this mean all of your payments were sold to a third party?” her mother recalls saying. 
The distraught woman said the letter, written by her insurance company, referred to Rose’s lead checks. The family had settled a lead-paint lawsuit against one Baltimore slumlord in 2007, granting Rose a monthly check of nearly $1,000, with yearly increases. Those payments were guaranteed for 35 years. 
“It’s been sold?” Rose asked, memories soon flashing. 
She remembered a nice, white man. He had called her one day on the telephone months after she’d squeaked through high school with a “one-point something” grade-point average. His name was Brendan, though she said he never mentioned his last name. He told her she could make some fast money. He told her he worked for a local company named Access Funding. He talked to her as a friend. 
Rose, who court records say suffers from “irreversible brain damage,” didn’t have a lot of friends. She didn’t trust many people. Growing up off North Avenue in West Baltimore, she said she’s seen people killed. 
But Brendan was different. He bought her a fancy meal at Longhorn Steakhouse, she said, and guaranteed a vacation for the family. He seemed like a gentleman, someone she said she could trust . 
One day soon after, a notary arrived at her house and slid her a 12-page “purchase” agreement. Rose was alone. But she wasn’t worried. She said she spoke to a lawyer named Charles E. Smith on the phone about the contract. She felt confident in what it stated. She was selling some checks in the distant future for some quick money, right? 
The reality, however, was substantially different. Rose sold everything to Access Funding — 420 monthly lead checks between 2017 and 2052. They amounted to a total of nearly $574,000 and had a present value of roughly $338,000. 
In return, Access Funding paid her less than $63,000.

It's bad enough that a generation of poor black kids grew up in the Baltimore projects with lead paint and brain damage.  It's bad enough that these were the poorest parts of a city crushed by crime and poverty.  No, we have people whose job it is to talk people like Rose out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution in order to profit off of such horrendous misery, and the fact is it's all perfectly legal.

Because you can't be just poor and black and screwed for the rest of your life because of lead paint chips, you have to be preyed upon as well.

America is beyond awful sometimes.
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