Archive for the ‘Honesty & Moral Integrity’ Category

The Shoe Thrower and the Flame Thrower

Written by Henry L. Chambers, Jr. on September 16th, 2009

Interestingly enough, this week has seen the release of the Iraqi journalist who threw a shoe at President Bush on his trip to Iraq last year as well as the continued discussion of the Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) “You lie” lie thrown at President Obama during his address to Congress last week.  Interestingly, the two incidents and their aftermath are instructive.  The shoe-throwing journalisttmpphpIaM5Yi[1] tried to make a point with respect to President Bush’s policy in Iraq and the resulting carnage that resulted.  His conduct was inappropriate, but one can understand that he felt compelled to do something after witnessing the carnage that he had witnessed in his own country.   His disrespect for President Bush, based on President Bush’s policies and their effect, was clear.  Nonetheless, he was, of course, arrested and sent to jail.  Rep. Wilson tossed his lie at President Obama not after witnessing carnage and not after seeing the effects of President Obama’s plans.  He tossed his lie at his president at an inappropriate place at an inappropriate time on an issue about which Wilson was inappropriately confused.  He showed disrespect to President Obama and the office of the President not based on what the president has done and not based on the substance of what the president said as the statement that precipitated the insult was true.  Rather, Wilson showed supreme disrespect for President Obama because he did not like what the president said and, I fear, because of who the president is.  The political price for Rep. Wilson’s actions as measured by the regard in which the public and his fellow legislators hold him should be significant.  However, almost certainly, the price will be a pittance.

Have They NO Shame? The Radical Right’s Savage Attack on Ted Kennedy

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 29th, 2009

From Media Matters:

Media Matters: Storming Camelot: Sen. Kennedy’s death brings out worst from the right

Following Wednesday’s early-morning news that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had lost his battle with brain cancer, Media Matters posted the following statement from president Eric Burns at 3:51 a.m. ET on the County Fair blog:

“Ted Kennedy was a true American statesman. The values that he so eloquently and tirelessly championed represent the best of our American ideals. He reached across the aisle to get hard work done but never sacrificed principle. Though he is gone, the dream will forever live on. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Vicki Kennedy, the Senator’s family, his loyal staff and the millions of lives he touched throughout his historic life and career.”

Far from letting Kennedy rest in peace, many media conservatives savagely attacked the Senate’s last liberal lion. Leading the charge was radio host Rush Limbaugh, who began his broadcast Wednesday morning eulogizing Kennedy by calling him “the lion of the Senate” before noting that “we were his prey.” Hardly finished, El Rushbo would go on to say that “Kennedy screwed up everything he touched.” He said Kennedy’s opposition to Robert Bork’s Supreme Court nomination was “the beginning of the dawn of the age of the current hate.” He claimed Kennedy “used the government to take money from people that work to give it to people that don’t work” and that “most of Senator Kennedy’s plans ended up damaging the people he seeks to help.” Finally, Limbaugh marveled at the fact that “the Constitution is still there, even after Ted Kennedy in the Senate for 52 [sic] years.” All that and more led MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Politico‘s Patrick Gavin to agree that “Limbaugh showed great restraint” in discussing Kennedy’s death. Can you imagine what Rush would have said had it not been for such “restraint?”

Limbaugh was hardly alone in his disgusting attacks on Kennedy. Radio host and Fox News political analyst Tammy Bruce kept it classy, claiming on Twitter that Fox News Sunday‘s Chris “Wallace noted the last great act of Kennedy’s career was to endorse [President] Obama. I agree: he left a woman to drown and now he’s left us to drown.”

Eric Sanger, a director at Premiere Radio Networks, ABC Radio/Citadel Media and The Sean Hannity Show, said on Facebook (emphasis added), “The irony is that the media is already positioning Ted as a champion for the little man against wealth and privilege. This piece of garbage was the poster child for wealth and privilege. Hopefully, this event will mark the end of this repugnant family and all the endless crap, entitlement, personal indulgences and collateral damage (Kopechne, Bessette, Bowman, Moxely, etc.).”

Wesley Pruden, a Washington Times columnist, wrote that Kennedy’s death was “a good career move” and that Democrats “are smiling through their tears,” while Andrew Breitbart, a fellow Times columnist, called Kennedy a “villain,” a “duplicitous bastard,” and a “prick” on Twitter, as noted by Politico. Riehl World View, a right-wing blog, came to Breitbart’s defense, claiming that liberals criticizing him were “hypocrites” because when Dick Cheney dies, they’re going to do the exact same thing. That’s right, liberals today are hypocrites because of what they might do in the future. Now that’s some crazy fortune-telling.

Fox News host Sean Hannity told his audience that “out of respect for his family,” he had decided not to “bring up Mary Jo Kopechne” or Kennedy’s “radical socialism.” Seriously.

When they weren’t busy attacking Kennedy’s legacy, media conservatives — like Fox News’ Laura Ingrahamwere attacking Democrats for purportedly attempting to use his passing to stifle debate and enact health care reform legislation, repeatedly calling this supposed tactic the “death card.” In a true episode of pot meets kettle, conservative media figures — like health care serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey — have used Kennedy’s death to attack health care reform, some even baselessly suggesting that if reform passes, elderly cancer patients — as Kennedy was — will be “denied” treatments or that their treatments will be “rationed.” Limbaugh said that “Ted Kennedy didn’t have to read a death book,” while Tom Marr, guest-hosting Lou Dobbs’ radio show, said under a public option, a “bureaucrat” would have told Kennedy, “77, brain tumor, bye-bye.”

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While Pattrick Buchanan intones about the “truce of God” on MSNBC pertaining to political quietude and respect for the passing of Senator Kennedy, the Radical Rights’ media savages haven’t the sense to postpone attacking the Senator until he is at least interred.  Is it the quest for fame, position, money, or downright meanness that motivates this hatred?  Whatever it is, it debases us all.

No, “the U.S. Doesn’t Torture!”

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on April 21st, 2009

According to recent reports: “The CIA waterboarded two al-Qaida terror suspects a total of 266 times, according to a report that suggests the use of the torture technique was much more extensive than previously thought.  . . .  The documents showed waterboardtmpphp3z3uf71.jpging was used 183 times on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who admitted planning the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times reported today.  . . . The US Justice Department memos released last Thursday showed that waterboarding, which the US now admits is torture, was used 83 times on the alleged al-Qaida senior commander Abu Zubaydah, the paper said. A former CIA officer claimed in 2007 that Zubaydah was subjected to the simulated drowning technique for only 35 seconds.  . . .  The numbers were removed from most of the memos over the weekend. But bloggers, including Marcy Wheeler from empytwheel, discovered that the figure had not been blanked out from one of the memos.  . . .  Barack Obama has banned waterboarding and overturned a Bush administration policy that it did not amount to torture.  . . . The president did not intend to prosecute Bush administration officials who devised the policies that led to such interrogations, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said yesterday.  . . .  Asked on Sunday about the fate of those officials, Emanuel told ABC’s This Week programme that Obama believed they ‘should not be prosecuted either and that’s not the place that we go’.” To read more click here.

Fortunately, the President has had second thoughts about categorically ruling out investigations of crimes committed during the Bush-Cheney administration. Perhaps, someone close to the President alerted him to the fact that the United States has a legal duty to prosecute war crimes committed by its “leaders.” A hearty thanks to the stalwart soul brave enough to convince the President that his rhetoric about “looking forward” is quite irrelevant when one has a legal duty to take action of a certain sort, that is, when taking such action isn’t discretionary. And thanks to the President for exhibiting the good sense and strength of character to reconsider is initial erroneous position.

W.’s Final Press Conference: What a Relief!

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on January 12th, 2009

With great pathos the man who never should have been president held his final press conference. His strident defiance, obtuseness, defensiveness, and absence of subtlety, and intellectual and emotitmpphpi1k4gz.jpgonal depth shown vividly throughout this exercise. Mr. Bush simply lacks the capacity to appreciate the nuances of public policy. He is paradigmatic of the sort of person who should never be given the job of making important decisions affecting the lives of others, certainly not decisions affecting the lives of vast numbers of people domestically and internationally.  Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley points out that ‘[a]s a . . . historian looking at what’s occurred on his watch, it is almost void of genuine accomplishment,’ and Pulitzer Prize historian Joseph Ellis  insists “I think President Bush might very well be the worst president in U.S. history.’ Perhaps some blame resides in the American electorate in not understanding how one-dimensional and incompetent this president really is.In any event, Americans will suffer the effects of the past eight years for decades.

Blagojevich’s Governing Gambit

Written by Henry L. Chambers, Jr. on December 31st, 2008

Yesterday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signaled his intention to appoint former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill the United States Senate seat President-elect Barack Obama vacated after he won the presidential election. Given the Senate leadership’s claims that it will not seat anyone appointed by Blagojevich due to the governor’s ethical problems, one might suggest that the governor is grandstanding and wasting time. However, the governor is simply doing his duty. Until he resigns or is removed, Blagojevich has the power and responsibility to act like a governor and do what governors do, that is, run his state. In this case, that includes appointing a senator. In a democracy, the duly elected executive holds executive authority until he or she is no longer the executive. This is not about a presumption of innocence for Blagojevich, it is about who holds the executive authority and what that authority is.

As long as Rod Blagojevich is governor, he will continue to make hundreds of decisions about the governance of Illitmpphppmtrgn1.jpgnois that will properly bind the state of Illinois. The appointment of a senator is arguably no different. The fact that a cloud of controversy has descended on the governor’s administration does not matter as long as he is the governor. Indeed, his job is to keep running the state even though there is a cloud. Of course, if any particular decision that he makes can be proven to be tainted, including a senatorial appointment, that decision can be stopped or appropriately undone at some later date upon proof of the taint. Otherwise, governors need to be allowed to govern. The arguments against allowing Blagojevich to govern appear to be based on frustration that governors cannot be removed more quickly when evidence against them seems to suggest corruption. However, given how the power to remove (or impeach) can be misused, we all should be careful what we wish for either at the state or national level.

What’s the Truth About McCain’s Negative Ads?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 1st, 2008

There is a determinate answer to this question. I don’t claim to know what it is, but I believe that it’s important to find out. Here’s one possibility.

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If this is a distortion or in some other way untrue, it would be helpful if Senator McCain would defend his accusations. If his accusations are false, he should then explain to the American public what steps he’s going to take to immediately divest his campaign of such pronounced Rovian approaches. Here’s what some are saying:

The traditional press is up in arms over John McCain’s latest dishonest ad attacking Barack Obama. MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell called the ad “completely wrong, factually wrong!” The New York Times said it was “a false account of what occurred.” The Washington Post said the ad offered “no evidence” to support McCain’s claims. And Media Matters tracks the timeline of the smear in detail. . . . McCain must disavow this ad and make sure it never airs again. We won’t let this race degenerate into ad distortions like the last election; we won’t be silent in the face of lies. That’s why we created this video entitled When McCain Attacks. . . . Help end McCain’s campaign of dishonesty. Sign our petition to compel McCain to disavow this ad and yank it from the air. Then send it to all your friends, family members, and colleagues. Tell them to spread it to everyone they know, and Digg it! . . . Hurry, because we’re already seeing McCain’s lies insidiously spread by other news outlets. Join us in declaring that we’ve had enough lies and dishonesty, we’re ready for a new kind of politics.

What’s the truth Senator McCain?