Burnard: Off the cliffWritten by Don Burnard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Just weeks after the presidential election and the GOP is trying to show its newfound bipartisanship by dealing with the “fiscal cliff,” a monster of its own making from way back when they were trying to keep President Obama from being able to raise the debt ceiling. They were being too cute by half, thinking that once their nominee was elected, and they took control of the Senate, they could do their thing to make it go away.
Well, things didn’t go exactly the way they planned, as we now know, and they’re stuck in the corner they painted themselves into. They deserve a little comeuppance, in my opinion. They let their hatred for Obama keep them from doing what was good for the country. And now the president is holding better cards. If I were Obama, I’d let it expire and let them stew in their own juices, but I don’t think the president is that kind of guy.
In the not-so-bipartisan department, several GOP members of Congress are ginning up a new tempest in a teapot over the statements made by U.N. Ambassador and possible Secretary of State nominee Susan Rice about the Benghazi attacks on the Sunday talk shows. Even though everyone actually in the know has said she was only repeating the facts she was given by the intelligence community, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham seem to have made it their life’s work to block the nomination of a very qualified black woman to be the secretary of state. So much for the new outreach effort to women and minorities.
There was a call for a Watergate-type investigation into the White House supposedly changing the talking points, but that’s been pretty well disproved by both former CIA director David Petraeus and the spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence Shawn Turner in a CNN interview: “The intelligence community made substantive, analytical changes before the talking points were sent to government agency partners for their feedback. There were no substantive changes made to the talking points after they left the intelligence community.”
According to Rep. Adam Schiff in The New York Times, Petraeus in his closed door briefing “was adamant that there was no politicization of the process, no White House interference or political agenda.” (Thanks to Think Progress, “GOP’s Benghazi Conspiracy Falls Apart, White House Didn’t Change Susan Rice’s Talking Points.”)
Another curious thing is the sudden GOP concern about embassy security. In 2002, the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, was attacked and 10 people were killed. In 2004, the U.S. Embassy was bombed in Uzbekistan with two killed and nine injured. Also in 2004, gunmen attacked the U.S. Consulate in Saudi Arabia, killing eight. In 2006, armed men attacked the U.S. Embassy in Syria, killing one. In 2007, a grenade was launched into the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece. In 2008, rioters set fire to the U.S. Embassy in Syria. Also in 2008, bombings in the U.S. Embassy in Yemen killed 10. These all happened during the Bush administration. Where was the hue and cry from the Republicans about embassy security then? How did they address this situation? In the fiscal year 2011 budget, they cut embassy security funds by $238 million! At the time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “The scope of the proposed House cuts is massive. The truth is that cuts of that level will be detrimental to America’s national security. I was very clear with the Speaker about the deep concerns we have with the FY11 spending bill.”
They certainly didn’t seem very concerned then, but now that four people were killed in Benghazi under Obama’s administration, it’s a huge deal. Maybe they shouldn’t have gutted embassy security. Oh well, like everything else, we’ll just blame it on Obama.
In the immediate aftermath of the election, petitions from all 50 states came in seeking to secede from the United States. Coincidentally, these states get far more back from the federal government than they pay in. If I were President Obama, I’d take them up on their offer to leave, after billing them for their share of the national debt, of course, but that’s just me. Good riddance, I say. Unfortunately, this won’t happen and I’ll quote Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on why: “Secession? I cannot imagine that such a question could ever reach the Supreme Court. To begin with, the answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”
At least the irony is delicious.