Benghazi hearing more about campaigning than Clinton or the truth

Clinton's face said it all.

Clinton’s face said it all.

After eleven grueling, often mind-numbing hours of testimony by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it seemed as if the GOP member of the Benghazi committee had met their match. Clinton remained calm, cool, and collected for most of the hearing, with Democratic members throwing barbs, while Republicans found new ways to ask the same question several dozen times. As the hearings wound to an end, I had a thought: what if this has nothing to do with Benghazi or stopping Clinton’s march to the White House? It sounds ludicrous. After all, Republicans have orchestrated Benghazi hearings for years with the goal of putting an end to Clinton’s dreams of winning the presidency, but with just a year until the general election, and a clown car of a GOP primary field, Republican members of Congress may consider Clinton all-but-invetiable. So why grill Clinton for 11 hours?

Congressional Republicans have elections to win in 2016 too. Their own.

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Internet memes: love them, hate them

Oh, social media, you entertain us on myriad levels. As a frequent Facebook user I am subjected to Internet memes on a daily basis. Sometimes they are inspiring and funny, other times they are annoying and infuriating. I rarely comment on the ones I find offensive or misleading, but two memes I recently saw compelled me to respond.

The first:

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This image was posted by ClashDaily.com with Doug Giles with the following hash tags: #‎irs ‪#‎nsa ‪#‎benghazi ‪#‎doj ‪#‎fastnfurious ‪#‎scandals

If the guy who posted this and all the hateful commenters had done a minimal amount of research, they would know the “scandals”—IRS, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, and Solyndra—were overblown, in particular with regard to allegations of direct White House involvement or malfeasance. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be investigations or at least assessments about what went wrong in these situations.  Darrell Issa, however, in his zealousness, has made repeated attempts to connect the White House (e.g. – President Obama) to these incidences, with little success. On the other hand, the NSA surveillance issue has major privacy implications and should be investigated thoroughly.

Still, conservative calls for Obama to resign are hypocritical. We heard nary a peep from these same quarters when George W: lied about weapons of mass destruction, started a war of choice that was a major disaster on so many levels—both financial and in American and Iraqi lives; allowed the torture (illegal) of suspected terrorists; and surveilled Americans without warrants through telecom companies.

The Obama bashing in the comments section was disgusting to say the least. Liberals are good at bashing the other side too, so I do not expect a different standard of online conduct from conservatives, though reasoned disagreement instead of slinging insults would be nice from everyone. Yeah, I know, I’m living in a fantasy world.

The second meme was posted and shared several times on Facebook: “You tell me…what’s the difference?”

meme

Let me tell you the difference.

The difference is that while both killings are tragedies, the police in Charleston did their job and arrested the killers of this white teenager and conducted a solid investigation. However, the same cannot be said in the case of Trayvon Martin. In fact, the Florida police in that community gave a collective yawn over the killing of an unarmed black teenager, basically slapping Zimmerman on the wrist and sending him home that same night, and only further investigating the murder after a national outcry.

The difference is not that a black child received national attention while a white child was ignored. If that is the argument some are trying to make, then one could refute it by pointing out that when girls/young women go missing in the United States and receive national media attention, they are mostly white. Missing white woman syndrome (MWWS) is a phrase coined by social scientists and media commentators to describe the “wall-to-wall coverage” given in media reporting, especially television, to missing person cases involving young, white, upper-middle class women or girls. Examples are here, here, here, and here.

When I researched this meme further, I discovered that the woman who created it did so because it hit close to home, not because of the racial component and media attention that many people have been suggesting. Still, the fact that she created it and asked the question about the “difference” makes one question her motive; it does seem to suggest a racial bias message.

Memes, political ones in particular, create quick impressions by fusing images with words and phrases that incite the emotions, causing us to respond very quickly to a post without taking a moment to pause about why it resonates so strongly with us, be it positively or negatively. The two memes I discuss in this post, are relatively tame; many others are not. Use  caution on social media and understand what it is you are “liking” and/or sharing before doing so. Remember, it’s your reputation out there in cyberspace.

Read both stories here:

Cross-posted at The Feisty Liberal

Enough of the “Impeach Obama!” nonsense

President Obama’s past few weeks have been pretty dismal. The Benghazi tragedy has garnered increased attention, so the White House released associated emails to quell accusations of a cover-up; subsequently and to the administration’s benefit in this matter, it was discovered that a Republican staffer had doctored an email; then McClatchy reported that Ambassador Stevens turned down two offers for increased security one month prior to the attacks. It was also revealed that the IRS had been targeting conservative social welfare groups requesting tax-exemption, though that is looking increasingly more like ineptitude, lack of resources, and the absence of clearly defined parameters for determining 501(c)(4) tax-exemption rather than outright politics. Then it came to light that the Department of Justice had been spying on reporters’ emails at the Associated Press.

Republicans are crying foul, they are mounting numerous congressional hearings, and some are even tossing about the “I” word–impeachment. Of course, this is hardly the first time Republicans have called for impeachment since Barack Obama took office. Some have even wanted to impeach him because they were, and still are, convinced he is not an American, and therefore his presidency is illegitimate. They refuse to drop theBirther” conspiracy no matter how many times President Obama’s birth certificate has been released to the public or how often Hawaiian officials testify to the veracity of said document.

More Americans might take these Obama “scandals” seriously, except for the fact that there was silence from these same quarters in the wake of the George W. Bush administration scandals. Some examples from the Bush-era include:  Alberto Gonzalez and the U.S. Attorney firings; the Abu Ghraib prisoner torture and abuse scandal; the NSA warrantless wiretapping program; IRS targeting of the NAACP in 2004 and a Pasadena Church in 2005 for criticizing various Bush administration policies; the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame after her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times refuting Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein had sought to obtain uranium from Africa (Niger); torture and indefinite detention; and the list goes on.

If none of the above Bush administration scandals warranted impeachment, risking the lives and futures of American soldiers and their families as well as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis by lying and manipulating evidence in order to justify a war in Iraq certainly was an impeachable offense. (See Iraq Ten Years Later: The Cost of America’s War of Choice for more details of the consequences of Bush’s preemptive war.) Sadly, cowardly Democrats aided and abetted this travesty.

Numerous misrepresentations were fed to Americans about Saddam Hussein’s WMD capabilities. Two are highlighted below:

  • “The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program … Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.” George W. Bush (This has been proven to be false; the aluminum tubes were not capable of uranium enrichment.)
  • “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” George W. Bush (See Joseph Wilson’s op-ed above.)

What is so confounding about the GOP Benghazi obsession is their almost maniacal outrage over the death of four Americans. While no death is acceptable, where was/is that same level of outrage over the nearly 4,500 American soldiers killed in Iraq? It seems Republicans’ anger is terribly misplaced when comparing these two situations. Understanding this, their relentless pursuit to find a scandal related to Benghazi reeks of politics.

When wrongdoing is uncovered, yes, it should be investigated and the guilty parties held responsible. This post is not condoning any Obama administration wrongdoing but merely pointing out the hypocrisy surrounding all the hype.  So please, those calling for it, stop with the “Impeach Obama!” nonsense.

Cross-posted at The Feisty Liberal

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