The President: A Debate

posted in: Politics | 1

elgin_100x119 Elgin:

With the Benghazi scandal, the IRS scandal, the EPA scandal, and now the AP scandal, in addition to Fast and Furious, is the President really Barrack Millhouse Obama?


joelwatts_100x94Joel:

You may want to turn off right-wing noise for a while.
There is no EPA scandal. We don’t know what AP is yet – but Bush did this and worse. The Fast and the Furious and Benghazi are cooked up GOP “scandals” but Rep. crook, or as you may call him Issa.

Elgin:

🙂

“There is no EPA scandal”  is that why the head of the agency resigned and the current appointment is in touble?

“We don’t know what AP is yet – but Bush did this and worse.”   And you do not see a problem with this statement?  In any event this already goes well beyond anything that Bush may have done.

As for Bengahazi, it is just a fact that the President, and Hillary lied for weeks after the event. He lied about it again just today in his news conference.   The 12 versions of the talking points show there was an active coverup.  The real questions are what is it that they are covering up.  Why didn’t Hillary ever call Hicks back and just where was Obama?

As for Fast and Furious, it has been established that the initial letter of explanation given to Congress by the Justice department was clearly false, which is why they tried the unique response of trying to ask for it back. But you do not get a do over when you lie to Congress.  The question is how was this letter prepared and who was involved?  It was at this point that Obama invoked Executive Privilege, after claiming it was, … wait for it… wait for it… low level people.     The problem is that if it was only low level people, then executive privilege does not apply, and since it involves lying to Congress, it would not apply in any event, as Nixon found out. But that is working its way through the courts.

And I notice that you skipped the IRS scandal, no wonder, given that they have admitted it, though again we are assured that it was only “low level people.”  We shall see, hopefully.

Granted, it is always hard with people on your side does something wrong.  But our committment should be to the truth.

She is also in trouble because she would not answer the questions posed to her.  As for no one crying foul over Bush, yeah, like the dems were giving him a pass on everything…   You would have to give me a specifics,  vague claims will not cut it.  But in any event attempts to write off bad behavior by pointing to others is irrational.

If you think that my characterization of Benghazi is false, then where is it in error? It is just a fact that for weeks following the event the administration blamed this on a video. He even alluded to that again today! They are on tape and this is simply undeniable.  It is also a fact that the video, despite their claims, had nothing to do with this.  Now in theory this could have been the results of a mistake, but it is also clear that Benghazi was seen as an attack by those involved right from the start and this was reported to Washington within two hours. Since Hillary was involved in the 2:00 AM call she would have known.

So while in theory, this could just be gross incompetence, that simply is not credible, particularly given the editing of the talking points.   Thus it is blatantly obvious that they said things that they knew were false, which in my book means that they lied.  So again, just where am I going wrong?   Are you really going to try to claim that they did not say the things they are on tape saying?  Are you going to try and claim that it really was caused by the video?  As you may remember, I questioned this explanation right from the start.    Nor can this be written off on Fox news and conservative news sources. Not only is it logically flawed, it is not even true. Consider Jonathan Karl’s report on the 12 revisions of the talking points.   Honestly, would you characterize those changes as stylistic?

Just today the President said in his news conference “The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.”  Sorry, but he didn’t, and this was just one of many divergences from the truth in his comments.   The day after he generically labeled both Egypt and Libya as “acts of terror”  and in an interview on 60 minutes later that day, he he explained why he deliberately steered clear of calling it terrorism.

Frankly even if he had, then why did Ambassador Rice a few days later on the Sunday Shows blame this on a video?  Why did Hillary blame the video in the ceremony when the caskets arrived? Why did Obama do this a week later and then  at the UN two weeks later?  This is the point that Tom Brokaw made.  

And besides the lies, the questions remain.  Who changed the talking point from true to false and why? Why didn’t Hillary ever call back?  And just where was Obama?  It would seem that the 3:00 AM phone call of Hillary’s commercial happened, and the President was MIA?  Who gave the orders to stand down and why?  What really happened that night?

As for your theory about Nixon, let’s just say I have a different memory.  But Nixon committed obstruction of Justice.  In the investigation it was a Republican that asked probably the most important question.  When it became clear that Nixon had broken the law, Republicans went to the White House and demanded that he resign, as they should have.  If he had not resigned, he should have been impeached and convicted.  That is the record that Republicans have when the evidence becomes clear concerning one of their own.   To be clear I do not know of anything that Obama has done that should lead to impeachment.  Nor would I want that.   I would hate to think of a Biden Presidency. To date except for the IRS and F and F, these are policy scandals that show gross incompetence and mismanagement.

As for F and F, until his claim of Executive Privilege there was no direct tie to Obama himself, and frankly I think he probably did this more to protect Holder than himself.   However, there is no doubt that the letter the justice department gave to Congress was false and lying to Congress is a crime.

And the IRS story, while a crime, it is too new to know where it will lead.  But you are correct, the scandals are multiplying so quickly that it is hard to keep up with them all.


Joel:

No, Elgin — again, you repeat the time, tired right-wing talking points of the valiant Republican Congress and their effort to rid this country of the vile black guy, I mean, President, in the White House. But, in reality, as soon as the announcement was made, the GOP who had formerly supported her turned against her. Did you know she answered 1079 questions? Let’s be honest, here — the GOP blocks nearly every appointee the President is currently making. I can’t say 100% because I’m sure there is the lone example of someone making it through the process, but the GOP has taken this chance to derail the President and to abdicate their Constitutional duty. This has nothing to do with the lack of five questions, but the fact that she is appointed by the President.
Regarding Benghazi. He alluded to the video today, but not in an effort to pin the cause of the attack on it, but because he said it was a mistake to do so. You do not want an all powerful government, and I understand that — but you seem to want a government that is all knowing and without error. They have since recanted the video excuse, doing so shortly thereafter. To continue to bring it up makes my point that this is a political campaign with no real new facts known. Further, even the former SectDef, a GOP appointee, has said the facts of the story as known now and admitted to shortly there after, are correct. I mean, look at the Speaker of the House and his demands for the White House to release those emails! Of course, everyone on the planet who could have the emails has them — except the Speaker because he didn’t show up to the meeting. Even Bill O’Reilly and Bill Krystal can see through this latest garbage. The fact that you mention Hillary now tells me you are driven by the same right-wing agenda. Not of truth, or the fact that four Americans died and that everyone including the President has said we can and must do better — none of this matters, no does it matter that we are taking steps to prevent this. No, what matters is preventing Hillary Clinton from running for President in 2016. This scares the right-wing far more than anything else.
So, to imply that this is actually a scandal would require you to not only ignore the facts, but to demand people in the government be infallible.
Your memory doesn’t serve the facts well. While we didn’t know then what we know now, the facts remain what the facts are. This isn’t a theory.
Like your insistence something was done in FandF that hasn’t actually been proven, your allowance without ANY known facts that the IRS issue is a crime shows a willingness to place guilt upon the President even without facts. Listening to Scott Hodge this morning, the same guy who heads the Tax Foundation, was rather enlightening. He said there is no crime, that the IRS pushed the law to its fullest but most likely didn’t break it and if they did, didn’t break it en masse. Further, given the groups who were targeted, it seems like the IRS was diligent, if to a fault. What might be helpful, given that the IG hasn’t released its report (you know, IG, part of the Federal Justice Department) and Congress hasn’t investigated it yet — it might be helpful if you, as an American citizen living under the rule of law, a law that says innocent until proven guilty, would not assume a crime has been committed, and not be so willingly as to suggest it is an impeachable offense.
Come now, Elgin, what secret knowledge do you have that, before the facts of the case are fully known, you can say it is a crime?
Come now.
Let me ask you a question, if you don’t mind.
Can you name a few good things you like about this President? Do you believe anything this President says?

Elgin:

Labeling evidence that conflicts with what you believe as “right-wing talking points” is not quite the same thing as a refutation.  Nor is creating straw man arguments and motives.
As for McCarthy, her supporters may consider the issue trivial but her opponents do not.  Many conservatives see the EPA as out of control and that it has serious transparency issues.  Granted they might be wrong, but that is what they believe.  Thus as Senator Vitter recently said,  “after President Obama four years ago promised the most open and transparent administration in history, unfortunately, the landscape since then is a landscape of completely broken promises in that regard. And EPA is the single worst example in terms of an Obama agency. Email scandals using private email accounts, completely improper under federal law and practice, using fake names, clearly something used to avoid transparency and avoid information getting out, FOIA requests regularly being frustrated, complete lack of transparency and information with regard to the release of scientific data and studies that are supposedly behind their regulations, sue and settle agreements which are often negotiated in a very secretive, behind closed doors way with allied, left-leaning environmental groups. So it’s a clear pattern of lack of transparency. And that’s what we’ve been talking about and demanding answers and changes to in terms of this Gina McCarthy nomination.”

You can claim that this is just “right-wing talking points” but that is not a refutation.  As for your claim that Republicans are blocking “every appointee the President is currently making”  that is somewhat hard to sustain given that they have already approved about 60 this year, with 84 currently outstanding out of the 1264 appointments since he became President.

Concerning Benghazi,  I liked how you cherry pick your way around my arguments, avoiding the actual examples of lying on the part of the President I laid out. I read through the Media Matters defense, but it also was at best selective. It also seemed, at least to me, to be trying to use Obama’s statement “act of terror”  as if it were a reference to terrorism,  and imply the mentions of the video were aimed at “”spark[ing] outrage through the Muslim world.”

None of that actually addresses the actual points I made.   Nor does it answer the questions that I asked.  BTW, related to this, the Washington Post gave Obama’s statements at the News conference four Pinocchios, and this reflects on the Media Matters defense.  As for your citations of O’Reilly and Kristol,  they were on a commercial about Benghazi, not the scandal itself.  I do not watch Fox, but Kristol’s actual views on Benghazi are somewhat different than you portray.   He said after the hearings, in reference to the administration, “…that the brazenness of the lying, if I can just use that word, is really, I don’t know, it’s shocking.”

And so the questions remain.  Who changed the talking points from true to false and why? Why didn’t Hillary ever call back? And just where was Obama? Who gave the orders to stand down and why? What really happened that night?   Instead we effectively get, nothing to see here,  these aren’t the droids you are looking for, move along, move along.
As for Vietnam, frankly I am not sure what you are even talking about, but perhaps that is a topic for a future discussion.

As for your claim that noting has been proven in F and F, a lot is known. We know the administration allowed thousands of guns to go to the Mexican cartels.   We know that hundreds of people were killed with those guns including Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.  It is known that the letter sent to Congress  by the DoJ  concerning this was false and misleading.   We know that lying to Congress is a crime.  Currently further investigation is blocked because of the Presidents claim of executive privilege, which is at best strange since he earlier claimed he had nothing to do with this. So which is it?

As for your claim that my, “allowance without ANY known facts that the IRS issue is a crime shows a willingness to place guilt upon the President even without facts.”   I would make couple of points. First when I wrote, “the IRS story, while a crime, it is too new to know where it will lead”  did you miss the last part of that sentence?  I had already said that “I do not know of anything that Obama has done that should lead to impeachment.”   So just how did you get from this that I was accusing Obama of a crime in regards to the IRS story?  Particularly given that in context what I was pointing out with these comment on F and F and the IRS, was that there was nothing implicating Obama that would lead to impeachment.

Finally, at the time I wrote my reply  it was already being reported that the IRS had illegally sent information to liberal activist groups, and this was what I was referring to in my statement about it being a crime.

“Can you name a few good things you like about this President?”

Sure, granted there has not been a lot, but I thought his efforts in education early in his first term were a step in the right direction, and frankly I wish he had pushed that a bit harder.  Also, while I certainly have some differences I think that his early efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan were good, and over all I would give him a C, though that had been declining in recent years.

BTW,  it is worth noting that while there has been some criticism of Obama on the War over particularly policies and actions, there has been nothing like what we saw among Democrats and Bush, which runs counter to the claim that Republican opposition to Obama is just about him, not policy.

But still my disagreements with him far overshadow the few agreements.

“Do you believe anything this President says?”

There are some things, but not a lot.  Part of the problem here is that I have taught critical thinking for many years and I listen very carefully what is said.  Often Obama doesn’t actually say anything. On a teleprompter, reading a speech, Obama can soar to great heights of rhetoric.  Off prompter he frequently stumbles with a lot of ahs and ums.  Most of the time both are devote of actual substance, or so full of qualifications, and ill-defined terms that nothing is actually said.  This is not unusual for a politician but Obama is a master at it.

It was one of the problems I had with him in the first campaign for President.  For example, he ran on hope and change!  But what hope? What Change?  When you get right down to it much of what he says are grand and noble sounding words, but most of the time he leaves it to his listeners to fill in the blanks.  So hope, become my hope, change becomes the changes I want.   I think that this is one of the reasons why polls show that people do not like the things he has done, such as Obama care, but they support him.
When he does start to address policy, most of the time he sets up a false dichotomy and simply portrays his opponents as straw man, and then cast his position in terms of the consensus position, where the only objections are politically based.   It sounds good, but it is devoid of reality.  At other time he just invents things on the fly, such as his claim that doctors would amputate a foot to get the money.

Bottom line:  I do not see a whole lot there.  He is constantly in campaign mode, and leaves a lot of the actual governing to others. Thus for example, during the debate over Obama care, he complained about how people distorted his bill. Yet he did not have a bill and the things he claimed were distortion often were in the bills being considered in Congress.
BTW, on a side note, I came in to a meeting today a little early and one of the contractors was saying how his wife was just cut back to part time because of ObamaCare and how he could not find anyone who would quote a policy past January, because they expected huge increases, but were unable to determine what the requirements and thus costs would be.  He was not sure what they were going to do, because they just bought a house, and depended on his wife’s job for health care.   Personally, I think Baucus was right, this is going to be a train wreck.


Joel:
I “call ’em as I see ’em.” They are right-wing talking points. For instance, immediately, when these “scandals” broke, the right-wing started talking impeachment. You send this email with “Barack Millhouse Obama”. Further, Note your words regarding “act of terror” as somehow different than a terrorist act. This is the same line Rep. Issa said hours before your reply. You are, in fact, even if you don’t know it, repeating right-wing talking points. To go further, you quote David “I have sinned” Vitter.
Here’s the thing about the EPA, and I am as cautious here as possible. Your argument resides on anecdotal evidence. It doesn’t matter if all conservatives see something, if what they see is manufactured. It is a manufactured issue, pure and simple. Vitter is a liar.
Regarding Benghazi – I sent more than Media Matters. Further, have you seen the timeline? Your statements do not reflect knowledge of the actual timeline, Elgin. As I have sent more than just Media Matters, I would encourage you to read through everyone of them. The fact remains, the timeline as covered by everyone does not reflect the current politicization of the event. While Bill and Bill are commenting on a commercial, this is still the main goal of the current round of events. Unless you watch ABC, which has admitted they lied about the emails.
I rather enjoy the fact that people are so worried about rough drafts and speculation over office paperwork rather than how to solve the problem of Americans dying. In other words, this is a political event, and I pity those who see it as anything else.
You did write: “the IRS story, while a crime, it is too new to know where it will lead.” You called the IRS scandal a crime. What crime? Do you have proof? Or, are you simply getting your information from Rush again? The IG report states several interesting things, namely the White House is not involved, but fails to mention any crime. Not only that, but the Tea Party groups weren’t the only ones targeted. Reports do not a crime make.
I would suggest you breathe before you accuse anyone of criminality. And, turn off the right-wing propaganda machine.

Elgin:

I have no doubt you “call ’em as I see ’em.”  If I did, there would be no point to this discussion. My point however is that such labeling is at best empty rhetoric, and at worst fallacious reasoning.  I could just as easily, and just as accurately label most of your messages left wing talking points.   But that something is a left or right wing talking point does not make it wrong.  But you seem to use the phrase ‘right-wing talking point’ as a reason to reject something. If so, this is irrational, as it is a form of ad hominem attack, something that is pervasive in many of your replies.

As for “Note your words regarding “act of terror” as somehow different than a terrorist act.”  This is not just a right wing talking point is just true by definition.  While all acts of terrorism are acts of terror, not all acts of terror are acts of terrorism.   Any doubt about this was removed in the 60 minutes interview the day after the attacks when Steve Kroft and the President had the following exchange about the President’s use of “act of terror.”

KROFT: “Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word ‘terrorism’ in connection with the Libya attack.”

OBAMA: “Right.”

So for Obama to come back now and try to say that he did call it terrorism at the time, is just another lie as he deliberately avoided that label.
As for the header of my email, I think there is a clear parallel to Nixon, both in the number, the breath of the scandals and in the type, particularly using the IRS and other organizations to go after political opponents.  This is the Chicago machine moved to Washington. But while you are correct that some on the right have started talking impeachment, I did not, but instead explicitly rejected such claims in my reply.

We disagree on the EPA, but given your position, I will just leave it at that, as I do not consider it fair to press you when you are clearly limited in your ability to respond, and it is not as if we don’t have a lot to discuss.

Concerning Benghazi, I have seen several timelines, and they are pretty damning of the administration. Here is one from factcheck.org. So you would have to be a bit more specific.  As to your other articles, I did read them.  I think Capehart’s comments at best reveal a complete lack of understanding of what is at issue here.  It was not just that Rice’s and the administrations comments were “later deemed to be incorrect.”  It has been clearly established that it was known within the administration within 2 hours of the start to the attack that the administration line they pushed for two week’s was incorrect.

As for Gates comments there are a couple of facts that raise significant doubts.  1) There were the forces commanded by Lt Col Gibson already in Libya that wanted to help but were told to stand down.  2) The conflict went on for at least seven hours. Woods and Doherty died towards the end.  In the middle of the attack it simply was impossible to know how long it would last.  The siege in Iran lasted 444 days. So there was no way to say if forces would or would not get there in time.   3) There have been claims that just a fly over would not have helped.  Maybe, maybe not, but in his book Damn Few, written before any of this controversy Navy Seal Rorke Denver recounts an event where a flyby by jet without ordinance did disrupt an attack.

Bottom line you still have yet to point out any problem with the points I made.  We know what they said. We know what they said was wrong, and we know that they knew it was wrong while the fighting was still in progress.  Nor have you answered the questions I asked. Though realistically you can’t because only the administration knows, and they are not saying, and the leads to the question of why?  Why did they lie for weeks ? Why are they covering up now?

As for the IRS, as it continues to expand and unfold, so do the allegations of illegality.  Bottom line: it is illegal to disclose tax records.  It is also illegal for government official to withhold information from Congress, both of which have been pretty clearly established.   We can quibble about a lot of details but Mike Kelly summed up the issue pretty well.
You are right in that we now know that it does go beyond the Tea Party, and includes a wide range of Obama critics.   But do you really think it is legitimate for the any Government agency to ask about the details of prayer meetings?  And it seems like it might go well beyond the IRS.   When True the Vote applied for tax-exempt status in July 2010, not only did they get the special treatment that have been document form the IRS, but they were suddenly started receiving visits from the FBI, ATF, and OSHA.  Nor, does it seem that they are an isolated example.

Finally, I would point out that this is not the first scandal I have seen and whatever you think of the details, I think Jim Geraghty summed up the situation pretty well last week in what has come to be called the Geraghty rule when he wrote:

When there is evidence of scandalous or bizarre behavior on the part of a political figure, and no reasonable explanation is revealed within 24 to 48 hours, then the truth is probably as bad as everyone suspects.”

Nobody withholds exculpatory information. Nobody who’s been accused of something wrong waits for “just the right moment” to unveil information that proves the charge baseless. Political figures never choose to deliberately let themselves twist in the wind. It’s not the instinctive psychological reaction to being falsely accused, it’s not what any public communications professional would recommend, and to use one of our president’s favorite justifications, it’s just common sense.”