From the May 20, 2013, edition of “Viewpoint.”
In the waning wake of Benghazi-gate, the GOP wants us to be inflamed over IRS-gate. And it’s become pretty clear the only real legislative scandal is the scandalous need for legislators to invent scandals so they don’t have to legislate, which I’m calling Gate-gate.
The people who once told us Obama was a Muslim with a bad Christian pastor, are now telling us Obama has masterminded all these scandals while being completely out of the loop. And now references to Watergate and Nixon are flying through the air like that guy Miguel’s crotch into America’s collective face.
Sen. Orrin Hatch says, “I’ve never seen anything quite like this, except in the past during the Nixon years.”
Congressman Steve King summed up the controversy by saying, “Add Watergate and Iran-Contra together and multiply by 10.” Which is confusing math because Iran-Contra already is Watergate times 10.
But the IRS scandal and Watergate are similar, in that Watergate led all the way to the top reaches of government, and the IRS scandal leads all the way up to people who’ve never met anyone in the top reaches of government.
So of course, both Watergate and IRS-gate are the same, if you believe that criminal behavior which results in a constitutional crisis is exactly the same as a bureaucratic IRS cock-up that results in extra paperwork for a few people.
But it may surprise you to learn there are a few subtle differences between Barack Obama and Richard Nixon.
When Nixon learned that the IRS had audited conservatives, he responded by ordering Haldeman to make the IRS audit liberals on his enemies list. He used the IRS to intimidate and investigate his enemies, because he was a drug-addled, delusional sociopath.
Obama’s IRS didn’t audit conservatives. They were questioning whether tea party groups with anonymous donors were really social welfare orgs. Obama’s Treasury Department investigators stopped the scrutinizing, which began under former IRS head Douglas Shulman, a Bush appointee. And Obama fired the acting head of the IRS even though it wasn’t his fault. Which would be like if “Two and a Half Men” fired Ashton Kutcher because that one time Charlie Sheen was all coked up and terrorized a call girl at the Plaza.
Nixon was forced to say, “I am not a crook.” Obama was forced to say, “I am not a Kenyan.”
Nixon used bribery, blackmail, spying, forgery, burglary and bugging by his plumbers squad to spy on the press for purely political purposes. And Barack Obama can’t even get background checks at gun shows when 90 percent of Americans support it.
Nixon had to deal with the journalism of Bob Woodward. Obama has to deal with the fact that Bob Woodward is no longer a journalist.
Nixon was also engaged in an unpopular, bloody and pointless war and Obama … oh, wait.
Now these men did have some real things in common. Both were pro-environment — Nixon started the EPA. And both were pro-health care — Nixon actually fought for universal health care. Both were corporate centrists, both liked the drug war a bit too much, both weren’t really shy about raising taxes.
But you see Nixon was a conservative who’s way more liberal than his party can admit, and Obama’s a liberal who’s way more conservative than his party can admit.
But the biggest difference? Nixon thought his opponents were out to get him, and Obama’s opponents really are out to get him.
Fareed Zakaria (CNN)
But, first, here’s my take. Conservatives are, of course, mad at Barack Obama, and we’ll talk about the various scandals in a moment, but they are also mad at a country that isn’t mad enough at him.
This frustration is now taking over mainstream and intelligent voices within the conservative movement and about broader issues than Benghazi.
Bret Stephens, the columnist for the Wall Street Journal, laments that President Obama is not paying a price for a foreign policy that he, Stephens, describes as “isolationist.”
Now, our isolationism will surely come as a surprise to the diplomats, soldiers and intelligence officers working on America’s vast foreign policy.
Washington spends more on defense than the next 10 great powers put together and more on intelligence than most nations spend on their entire militaries.
We have more than 200,000 troops stationed at dozens of bases abroad, from Bahrain to Germany to Japan to South Korea to Turkey. We have formal commitments to defend dozens of our important allies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
And our vast footprint has been expanded under the Obama Administration. The White House has extended America’s security umbrella to include defending Israel and the moderate Arab states against the threat posed by Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons.
It is enlarging the U.S. military presence in Asia with a new base in Australia to deal with China’s rise. To call all this isolationism is to mangle both language and logic.
In fact, President Obama’s worldview is rooted in American exceptionalism. You see, the fundamental pattern of international relations is that as a country becomes powerful, others gang up to bring it down. That’s what happened to the Habsburg Empire to Napoleonic France to Germany and, of course, the Soviet Union.
There is one great exception to this rule in modern history, the United States. America has risen to global might, and yet it has not produced the kind of balancing opposition that many would have predicted.
In fact, today it is in the astonishing position of being the world’s dominant power while many of the world’s next most powerful nations, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, are all allied with it.
The reason surely has something to do with the nature of American hegemony. After World War II, we helped revive and rebuild our enemies and turned them into allies. For all the carping, people around the world do see the U. S. as different from other, older empires.
But it also has something to do with the way that the U.S. has exercised power, reluctantly. Historically, America was not eager to jump into the global arena. It entered World War I at the tail end of the war. It entered World War II only after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
It contained Soviet aggression in Europe but was careful not to push too far in other places. And when we did, as in Vietnam, we paid a price.
From Dwight Eisenhower to Robert Gates-, there is a strand of American thinking, realism, that urges America to be disciplined about open-ended military interventions for just this reason.
We have just gone through a decade devoted to a very different idea, that American power must be used actively, aggressively, preemptively and in pursuit of expansive goals beyond the narrow national interest. The result was thousands of American soldiers dead, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians dead, $2 trillion spent and the erosion of American influence and goodwill across the globe.
Can we get please a few years of respite to rebuild our economic, political and moral capital?
SCOTT PELLEY: Also at his news conference today the president called for tighter security for U.S. diplomatic facilities to prevent an attack like the one in Benghazi, Libya, last year that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Of course, Benghazi has become a political controversy. Republicans claim that the Administration watered down the facts in talking points that were given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for television appearances while Mr. Obama was running for reelection. Republicans on Capitol Hill claim that they had found proof of this in White House e-mails that they leaked to reporters last week. Well, it turns out some of the quotes in those e-mails were wrong. Major Garrett is at the White House for us tonight. Major?
MAJOR GARRETT: Scott, Republicans have claimed that the State Department under Hillary Clinton was trying to protect itself from criticism. The White House released the real e-mails late yesterday and here’s what we found when we compared them to the quotes that had been provided by Republicans. One e-mail was written by Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. On Friday, Republicans leaked what they said was a quote from Rhodes. “We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation.” But it turns out, in the actual e-mail Rhodes did not mention the State Department. It read “We need to resolve this in a way that respects all the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.” Republicans also provided what they said was a quote from an e-mail written by State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland. The Republican version notes Nuland discussing: “The penultimate point is a paragraph talking about all the previous warnings provided by the Agency (CIA) about al-Qaeda’s presence and activities of al-Qaeda.” The actual e-mail from Nuland says: the “…penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings…” The C.I.A. agreed with the concerns raised by the State Department and revised the talking points to make them less specific than the C.I.A.’s original version, eliminating references to al-Qaeda and affiliates and earlier security warnings. There is no evidence, Scott, the White House orchestrated these changes.
I just got back from the Fleetwood Mac cover night at the Monkey House. The show took forever to start, and I heard that Blue Button canceled. The first guy on played Xylophone with a pre-recorded cassette. He played Caroline. It was ok, but not great. Just for the record, I checked online to be sure of the song title, and the version from Tango in the Night, sounded kind of like what he played. For his next song, his cassette died. It started to sound slow, and when he pulled it out, you could see the tape hanging. He wound it tight but it looked creased. For the next song it was just him and the mallets for Oh Daddy. Loosing the beat brought the sound of his instrument to the forefront, and it sounded great.
After that, there was a 30 minute switchover for Tooth Ache to play her electronic songs. The first guy sat in back, and triggered e-drums, but her voice was low in the mix and the two songs she played lacked a bit. Her second song, Say You Love Me, got the audience moving, but needed a bit more of her voice in the mix.
Swale followed with a reasonably quick set up, but it took a bit of time to get Amanda’s mic on. When ready, they did a very mellow Landslide, then upped the energy for Rhinnon and Gypsy. I think that was Tyler Bolleson bass, for the last two.
Vedora’s drummer Jeff LaBossierewas celebrating a birthday in the worst possible way, by being quite ill. Eric Olsen sat in on drums for Vedora’s first song and Jeremy Fredricks sat in for the other two. They played Dreams, Hypnotized, and finally, the full version of the Chain. I kind of knew they were going to do that, but wasn’t certain, until they did. Jeremy did a great job, but it didn’t pop like it does, when Jeff plays.
All in all it was a pretty good night. I don’t know who was on after, if anyone, but after Vedora, I was set. It wasn’t too cold, and a nice night for walking.
Republicans in the Ohio Legislature are pushing a plan that could cost the state’s public universities millions of dollars if they provide students with documents to help them register to vote. Backers of the bill describe it as intended to resolve discrepancies between residency requirements for tuition and voter registration, while Democrats and other opponents argue it is a blatant attempt at voter suppression in a crucial swing state.
“What the bill would do is penalize public universities for providing their students with the documents they need to vote,” Daniel Tokaji, a professor and election law expert at Ohio State University told TPM. “It’s a transparent effort at vote suppression — about the most blatant and shameful we’ve seen in this state, which is saying quite a lot.” The legislation is a provision in the state budget that was backed by the Republican majority in the Ohio House of Representatives. It is now headed to the Ohio Senate, which also has a GOP majority.
Currently, Ohio requires voters to be “a resident of Ohio for at least 30 days immediately before the election in which you want to vote” and to provide photo identification, a current utility bill, a bank statement, current paycheck, current government check, or “an original or copy of a current other government document, other than a voter registration acknowledgement notification mailed by the board of elections, that shows the voter’s name and current address.” Students who live in dormitories and do not have state identification or a job or bank account in Ohio might not be able to meet this requirement even if they have lived in the state for over a month. Public universities provide letters or utility bills to students to help them meet the residency requirement for voter registration. If the legislation is passed, it would force schools that provide this documentation to charge out-of-state students the same tuition they charge students from Ohio.
Bill Maher speaking about the Republicans and Benghazi “They want so bad to find a smoking gun, and there just isn’t one. There is no smoking gun. How sad is that? Someone in America, not able to find a gun.”