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My Turn: From Inauguration to Baghdad, via Benghazi and Bergdahl

  • This image made from video shows smoke rising from an explosion as Kurdish Peshmerga security forces fighting militants from the al-Qaida inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Tel Al Wared, 20 kilometers 20 kilometers (13 miles) west of Kirkuk, Iraq on Saturday, June 14, 2014. After a decades-long dispute between Arabs and Kurds over the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, it took just an hour and a half for its fate to be decided. As al-Qaida-inspired militants advanced across northern Iraq and security forces melted away, Kurdish fighters who have long dominated Kirkuk ordered Iraqi troops out and seized full control of the regional oil hub and surrounding areas, according to a mid-ranking Army officer. He said he was told to surrender his weapons and leave his base. (AP Photo via AP video)

    This image made from video shows smoke rising from an explosion as Kurdish Peshmerga security forces fighting militants from the al-Qaida inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Tel Al Wared, 20 kilometers 20 kilometers (13 miles) west of Kirkuk, Iraq on Saturday, June 14, 2014. After a decades-long dispute between Arabs and Kurds over the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, it took just an hour and a half for its fate to be decided. As al-Qaida-inspired militants advanced across northern Iraq and security forces melted away, Kurdish fighters who have long dominated Kirkuk ordered Iraqi troops out and seized full control of the regional oil hub and surrounding areas, according to a mid-ranking Army officer. He said he was told to surrender his weapons and leave his base. (AP Photo via AP video)

  • President Barack Obama answers a question during a press conference on the White House complex  in Washington, Friday, March 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama answers a question during a press conference on the White House complex in Washington, Friday, March 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Bergdahl family and released by the Idaho National Guard shows then Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho. Afghanistan's Taliban says it has suspended "mediation" with the United States to exchange captive U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five senior Taliban prisoners held in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl's reception if he is released could vary from hero, a deserter, or just a young man from Idaho whose life took a U-turn in the mountains of Afghanistan. (AP Photo/The Bergdahl Family via Idaho Nayional Guard, File)

    FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Bergdahl family and released by the Idaho National Guard shows then Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho. Afghanistan's Taliban says it has suspended "mediation" with the United States to exchange captive U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five senior Taliban prisoners held in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl's reception if he is released could vary from hero, a deserter, or just a young man from Idaho whose life took a U-turn in the mountains of Afghanistan. (AP Photo/The Bergdahl Family via Idaho Nayional Guard, File)

  • FILE - In this May 25, 2013 file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks at a news conference at the World Economic Forum, in Southern Shuneh, southeast of Amman, Jordan. McCain said Friday, the day after he returned from an unannounced trip to Syria, that Syrian rebels battling the forces of President Bashar Assad need ammunition and heavy weapons to counter the regime's tanks and aircraft. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)

    FILE - In this May 25, 2013 file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks at a news conference at the World Economic Forum, in Southern Shuneh, southeast of Amman, Jordan. McCain said Friday, the day after he returned from an unannounced trip to Syria, that Syrian rebels battling the forces of President Bashar Assad need ammunition and heavy weapons to counter the regime's tanks and aircraft. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)

  •  Azzi

    Azzi

  • This image made from video shows smoke rising from an explosion as Kurdish Peshmerga security forces fighting militants from the al-Qaida inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Tel Al Wared, 20 kilometers 20 kilometers (13 miles) west of Kirkuk, Iraq on Saturday, June 14, 2014. After a decades-long dispute between Arabs and Kurds over the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, it took just an hour and a half for its fate to be decided. As al-Qaida-inspired militants advanced across northern Iraq and security forces melted away, Kurdish fighters who have long dominated Kirkuk ordered Iraqi troops out and seized full control of the regional oil hub and surrounding areas, according to a mid-ranking Army officer. He said he was told to surrender his weapons and leave his base. (AP Photo via AP video)
  • President Barack Obama answers a question during a press conference on the White House complex  in Washington, Friday, March 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Bergdahl family and released by the Idaho National Guard shows then Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho. Afghanistan's Taliban says it has suspended "mediation" with the United States to exchange captive U.S. soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five senior Taliban prisoners held in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl's reception if he is released could vary from hero, a deserter, or just a young man from Idaho whose life took a U-turn in the mountains of Afghanistan. (AP Photo/The Bergdahl Family via Idaho Nayional Guard, File)
  • FILE - In this May 25, 2013 file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks at a news conference at the World Economic Forum, in Southern Shuneh, southeast of Amman, Jordan. McCain said Friday, the day after he returned from an unannounced trip to Syria, that Syrian rebels battling the forces of President Bashar Assad need ammunition and heavy weapons to counter the regime's tanks and aircraft. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)
  •  Azzi

In 2009, President Barack Obama inherited a badly broken world – damaged way beyond Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rules. Eight years of President George W. Bush’s reckless interventionism and incompetence, egged on by his vice president and a cabal of Neocons, chickenhawks and Islamophobes, had eroded America’s global authority and prestige.

In 2009, on President Obama’s Inauguration Night, Republican lawmakers and strategists gathered in Washington, D.C.’s Caucus Room restaurant to plot a way to subvert the newly elected President’s agenda – even before he got a chance to present one.

Since that night, many Republicans and assorted co-conspirators have spent an inordinate and, to my mind, unpatriotic amount of time and national treasure trying to disenfranchise, neuter, delegitimize and humiliate this president – with disastrous consequences for the United States. Consequences that are playing out in Iraq today.

That gathering included Republican co-conspirators Eric Cantor, Pete Sessions, Paul Ryan, Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, pollster Frank Luntz and the irrepressible – and almost always wrong – Newt Gingrich.

After a nearly four-hour dinner, their strategy was set: Oppose everything.

The fact that in 2009 America was entering the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression didn’t deter them. A week later, Cantor led House Republicans as they unanimously voted against the president’s economic stimulus plan.

It never got any better. By October 2010, Mitch McConnell was quoted as saying that his party’s primary goal was to make Obama a one-term president. Obama’s opposition – Republican lawmakers, accompanied by a varying coterie of libertarians, Tea-Partyers, sovereign-staters, unreconstructed confederate sympathizers and racists – systematically worked and continue to work, to neuter the American president without regard for any potential consequences.

President Obama isn’t without fault. He failed to appreciate that Republicans had no interest in bipartisanship or cooperation, that they would oppose not just his agenda but him personally. It took the president too long to realize that nothing he could do would entice his opposition into cooperation, whether it was rescuing America from financial collapse or uniting on critical international issues.

Today’s Iraq news is grim. The Middle East, so carefully designed and demarcated by Western powers between 1914 and 1922, is unraveling, and President Obama is both being criticized and called upon to act by the very architects of Iraq’s destruction.

Witness John McCain, who believes the United States achieved victory in Iraq, who thinks the surge pacified Iraq, when in fact what it accomplished was to reduce the number of American casualties in Iraq without healing the fractured nation.

Witness John McCain, who believes that bringing back the Neocons, the chickenhawks and generals that brought us Iraq in 2003 can pacify Iraq today.

Witness the shameless return to the airwaves and op-ed pages of the five-time draft-evading Dick Cheney, of Paul Bremer, Judith Miller, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, Doug Feith and the infamous Kagans – all of whom never met a war to which they weren’t willing to send other people’s daughters and sons to die.

Witness the shameless embrace by America’s news media of those voices who cost us more than 4,400 American lives, tens of thousands of American wounded, nearly 2 billion U.S. dollars, more than 100,000 dead Iraqis and created a perhaps irreparable Middle East.

The damage done

Let me tell you what I think.

I think America destroyed Iraq. I think the Timberland-booted poseur Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, almost singlehandedly so humiliated and disenfranchised Iraq’s Sunni minority that they were easy prey for Sunni extremists preaching revenge, “piety” and Sunni solidarity.

I think hubris destroyed Iraq, empowered Iran, alienated allies and reignited regional sectarian differences that had been dormant for decades, if not centuries.

I believe that in 2009, Republicans, who by and large had supported Bush’s reckless American adventurism, were so focused on delegitimizing Obama that they failed to see how precarious America’s global posture had become as a result of George W. Bush’s incompetence, and continued to pursue President Obama even into international waters.

If you are a foreign leader and you hear former congressman Allen West say, “Ladies and gentlemen, I submit that Barack Hussein Obama’s unilateral negotiations with terrorists and the ensuing release of their key leadership . . . represents high crimes and misdemeanors, an impeachable offense,” then why would you think that Obama would pose a threat to you?

This week, in Mesopotamia, we are witnessing the cost of that reckless opposition.

If you are a foreign leader and you witness how Republicans and their right-wing enablers, by focusing on Benghazi and Bowe Bergdahl rather than on America’s international strategic interests, became co-conspirators in the weakening of America, why would you fear the United States?

Benghazi and Bergdahl

Given that in the case of Benghazi the facts are so well-known and in Bergdahl’s case the facts are yet to be determined, one can only assume that the opposition is either inexcusably ignorant or is being deliberately dishonest.

Between official inquiries, numerous investigations and David Kirkpatrick’s reporting for the New York Times, there is no controversy over what happened in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

I think the Benghazi mission was very clearly a CIA operation and that is the reason why Obama administration officials have never been able to speak fully about it. Some senators privy to this knowledge are taking advantage that not all aspects of what happened can be talked about without jeopardizing classified information.

Accept there are some things you will never know.

As for Bergdahl, we don’t know whether he had some form of PTSD, suffered from some form of dissociative fugue, went AWOL or deserted. There is time to get answers to those questions now that he’s home.

As we wait for the truth of Bergdahl’s capture and captivity, let’s note what New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote: “It doesn’t matter if Bergdahl had deserted his post or not. It doesn’t matter if he is a confused young man who said insulting and shameful things about his country and his Army. The debt we owe to fellow Americans is not based on individual merit. It is based on citizenship, and loyalty to the national community we all share.”

From the beginning, whether about a birth certificate, a liberation theology preacher, Benghazi or Bergdahl, the consistent Republican meme has been to continue to try to associate President Obama with Islam and Muslims.

Fox’s Bill O’Reilly said Bergdahl’s father “absolutely looked like a Muslim. He talked in the language of the Taliban, and he thanked Allah.”

Fox’s Brian Kilmeade questioned Bergdahl’s loyalty, suggesting he may have been “collaborating with the enemy.” Kilmeade also criticized Bergdahl’s father for growing a beard that made him look like a “member of the Taliban.”

Later, Fox presented a report based on “secret documents” alleging Bergdahl’s conversion to Islam.

Lawmakers who once pressed Obama to bring Bergdahl back were quick to criticize the deal. On Memorial Day, Sen. Kelly Ayotte called on the Obama administration to make Bergdahl’s release an urgent priority. Days later, she said, “The administration’s decision to release these five terrorist detainees endangers U.S. national security interests.”

Certainly there are questions, political, legal and military, and they will be answered because America can do that well.

Was it the right deal? I think so. Republicans forget that their beloved President Reagan had his own “Fast and Furious” program when his administration sent weapons to Iran so Iran would order Hezbollah to release hostages it was holding in Lebanon – weapons Iran then used against our then ally Iraq! But the larger question is whether, at a time when President Obama has been so weakened because of the relentless, over six-year long attack to emasculate him, America can act with the authority it takes to try not just to quiet the current fires in the Middle East but to partner with other parties, even with countries like Iran, to try to imagine a new Middle East based on local interests rather than upon outdated Western imperial interests.

(Robert Azzi is a writer and photographer living in Exeter. He can be reached at theother.azzi@gmail.com.)

Reading this I felt like I was watching MSNBC or RT as the hosts rant on every night. There are two Mr. Azzi's, the award winning photo journalist and the activist journalist who caused National Geographic to post its first and only retraction of a story in 1974. Azzi penned a piece about how good Jews living in Syria enjoyed their lives. Thousands of readers complained and National Geographic responded that "we erred" in printing the story without checking the facts. But back to Mr. Azzi's amateurish column here, his rhetoric shadows all views of reality. The rant makes broad accusations and in true extreme Left form using the usual buzz words like "Islamophobe", "Bush's incompetence", "Neo-cons", "chickenhawks". I guess I owe it to readers in this comment section to ask Mr. Azzi, in which branch of service he represented this country? Mr. Azzi's reputation precedes him as an extremist and as an activist for Islam. One needs to just know that on NPR's Tom Ashbrook's radio show, in 2008, that Mr. Azzi called the United States: "one of the most Sharia compliant countries". Thank you, but no thank you Mr. Azzi.

Did you have anything substantive to say about the Azzi piece? Or was your attempt at character assassination your only point in writing? What, nothing to say about Azzi's point that the right weakened the nation's hand in foreign policy with their absurd and paranoid claims, and this after giving the Bush administration a free hand to wreak Iraq by attempting the folly of bringing democracy at the point of a gun?

Incorrect.

What's "incorrect"? That you have nothing substantive to say? That your post wasn't attempted character assassination? That Republican intransigence towards Obama on anything and everything hasn't weakened U.S. foreign policy? That Republicans gave Bush a free hand to wreak Iraq? That Bush didn't wreak Iraq? The silence from the Carp per Diem Brigade in answering this charge, by wrapping themselves in the Flag at any and every opportunity, is deafening

Hey Bruce, have you noticed the Carpe per diem haven't said a thing about Benghazi since the alleged ringmaster of the attack has been caught? I wonder why??? Credit Obama with another victory.

Right on Mr. Azzi! Great column. It's time the tables were turned on the self-described "super-patriots" and ideologues of the far-right--like Allen West-- who "by focusing on Benghazi and Bowe Bergdahl rather than on America’s international strategic interests, became co-conspirators in the weakening of America...." Once upon a time, foreign policy disputes stopped at the water's edge, at least for a decent interval of time. That interval never happened this time, as the column makes plain. From Day 1, most of the GOP either sat on their hands, or deliberately worked to undermine every single thing Obama tried--in defiance of common sense and economic history. Fueled and financed by the right's oligarchical enablers, the "loyal opposition" in 2009 morphed into the disloyal opposition. The GOP is NOT the party of Lincoln any more--it's the party of Jefferson Davis and the old Confederacy.Their constitution would combine the Articles of Confederation with the Confederate Constitution, thereby creating the seeds of a new feudalism in what was the Cradle of Democracy. The Libertarian Right loathes democracy, and social conservatives would be elated if tossed the bone of a human life amendment. So it goes.

wasnt 2010 the year of the historical shellacking ...the American people either like divided government or...???

Nothing new here Bruce. Same old excuse machine, Poor President Obama, Bush prevented from fixing anything, those mean Reps. Get over your Bush syndrome. President Obama has been in office 6 years. What has he turned around? This President is detached, and has delegated everything to people that have no clue what they are doing. That is why he is surprised at every screwup. Every screwup brings out the excuse machine. Not his fault after 6 years.

Like I said down below-- it's the same empty-headed rant each time. Meanwhile pay no attention to the right wing ideologues and puppet-masters behind the screen orchestrating the right wing attack machine exemplified by the execrable Faux News. Keep the focus on that "marxist Islamophile" Obama bent on sapping our essence.

Bruce...both you and Robert have me wondering: what do you suppose that Grover Norquist thinks?? With his right-wing financing, he is so proud that "...the Republicans OWN the House until 2020!..." All he got his favored candidates to promise is to: vote against any and every tax. Dick Amey's FreedomWorks and the Kochs heavily funded all those Republican Congressional candidates and it backfired on them. Those TeaParty candidates forced Boehner to refuse to negotiate any tax increase with President Obama, even if it would have helped unemployed middle class Americans. So, Norquist got his nose rubbed in his own dirtt: he got his guys elected and they made him look stupid (which, he deserved). Haven't seen him around taking any credit for the recovering economy-I wonder why??

Nice creation of Bogeymen as if Dick Armey or Grover Norquist have any real power or influence over voters outside of the beltway. Honestly, I don't like the establishment in Washington on either side of the aisle. The politicians are entrenched and there is not a dimes worth of difference between either side. They serve for their own self interest. As much as you dislike the Tea Party, they are a breath of fresh air compared to the Mitch McConnell's or Harry Reid's, John Boehner's or Nancy Pelosi's. You did not mention ActBlue which is one of the largest contributors to democrats, contributing much more than the Koch brothers. You probably have no issue with unions contributing but owners of corporations who represent thousands of workers best interests, well, you can't have that happening. By the way, the economy is NOT recovering. Let's stop dragging the red herring, creating straw men and propagandizing deflection from Obama and his failures and over steps. Oh and deflection from all of the scandals or don't you think that emails being deleted and hard drives being destroyed on only those who are under investigation is not a scandal?

The economy has recovered from the Great Bush Recession. The recovery would have been faster and more robust had the stimulus measures--which Republicans opposed--been larger. Now you want it both ways--complaining the recovery has been too slow, after endorsing measures responsible for slowing the recovery. Had you and the GOP had their way--austerity measures--we'd be lagging behind Europe, which in the main did impose austerity measures, before discovering that causing massive unemployment, among other ills, was not the way to robust economic recovery. As for your other points, the right's spending on lobbying and political campaigns is far outpacing that of the Democrats. And your anti-union bent is tiresome. The contributions of unions and their members to this nation are significant, and helped drive many of the reforms we take for granted today. Germany's robust economy over the last 40 years is due in no small measure to her strong union tradition, and the power-sharing that gives significant voice to workers in corporate governance-- a practice we should long ago have emulated. We'd be a lot better off as a nation had we not weakened the ability of working men and women to unionize--something I consider a fundamental human right.

The economy has NOT recovered. Checked the price of meat lately? Have you checked the price of any groceries. Inflation is upon us hidden by smaller packaging. The difference between German unions and American unions is that the Germans actually have a work ethic and pride in their work. The rest of your points are the usual Keynesian flim flam.

Checked the reasons for the higher prices of meat and other food items lately? Of course not--probably too busy denying climate change. So just blame it on Obama. http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/sc/1406/extreme_weather_impacting_food_prices.html And while you're at it--as the self-proclaimed super-patriot and loyal American you are, slander your fellow citizens, American workers, in the same post. It doesn't get much better than this, does it? Yes, American industry went down the tubes because blue-collar workers got fat and lazy, lost their "work ethic" and their "pride". It has NOTHING to do with misguided trade agreements, laissez-faire economics, and capital flight.

Of late, that is the excuse, weather. But for two years, grocers have been artificially holding down prices. Some examples: Ice Cream Half Gallon is now 48 ounces. 16 ounce salsa is now often 13 ounces, Ketchup, cereal, rice.....all are less for the same price. So it is not just prices the last year. It is debatable if climate change is to blame, let's call it weather.

Itsa...are you stating that the only way to measure the recovery of the economy is by the price of meat?? REALLY?? Have you heard about the 'stock market'. Which has doubled under President Obama. And to think the only way you measure the economy is by price of meat. Go take Economics 101.

Wally, Wall Street and Main Street are two different stories.

Meanwhile, as Tillie, Gracchus, Rabbit, Walter, RightField, et al argue with each other . . . in a cave on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border kids are being taught to hate America and strap bombs to themselves . . .

Dan, I'm totally open to a discussion of WHY they are learning to hate America. The only statement off the table is: "They hate our freedoms." While we ask why they hate us, we need to likewise ask what we're doing that might antagonize them.

HG Wells was right. Eventually, the human race will devolve into two factions; the Morlocks and the Elois. And when it does, I got first dibs on Weena!

HEADLINE: Iraq crisis: Isis jihadists 'seize Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons stockpile' http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10910868/Iraq-crisis-Obama-may-launch-air-strikes-without-Congress-amid-calls-for-Maliki-to-go-live.html - look at 17.05

You cannot really believe this drivel. This administration has failed us at every level. Its time to stop blaming Bush and take some responsibility for the things that are happening. And what is wrong with honest dissent? You can't oppose this administration for its ideas or actions? What if you think it is the wrong thing to do? Isn't it the object of the party who lost an election to work to reelect one of their own? What about the transparency that was promised? Why should we just give this administration a blank check to run up the deficit? How does this administration justify unilateral decisions and constantly break the law? Do we just agree to this like sheeple? This letter is nonsense.

RF...did you know that when Cheney was pushing through the 2001 tax cuts, which became known at the Bush Tax Cuts, he is quoted as saying "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter!" The Bush Tax Cuts were OK with the Republicans, even though they acknowledged that it would raise the National Debt by $1.35Trillion. And, you probably have conveniently forgot how many attempts President Obama made to pass jobs legislation that never made it through Congress? And, why they all didn't make it through?

Nope, didn't forget. I remember that the House tried to make some amendments but were refused any input by Dingy Harry Reid. How's that for leadership? And "reaching across the aisle"? In fact, that is ALWAYS the case with the administrations agenda. There is NO conversation, only talk. My way or the highway. Is that how to get things done? And I agree that some deficit is good. Keeps the economy healthy. But in does not mean take and take and take. They are killing the middle class. Our kids kids will feel the economic mess we are creating for them. This administration is an embarassment and 2016 cannot come too soon. Who knows... if he continues breaking the law maybe it will be sooner.

You know, RF, I agree: Cheney didn't want any disagreeing with his proposal. I didn't remember Harry Reid being in the House then, but Cheney fired the Budget Director for disagreeing with him. Talk about 'my way or the highway' !!

Do you know what was in those job acts Walter? And are you accusing me of not wanting to help the poor? I think you can handle two questions.

What was in those jobs acts was funding for infrastructure work that was already approved. Of course, you don't want to help the poor (by voting for Reps and Sens that are Dems). BTW...tell me what the Republicans have done to help the poor or middle class in the last 50 years!!

Dems do not help the poor, they keep them poor. Yeah they do. They create programs that are now generational. Clinton tried with welfare reform and it worked. President Obama undid that. You lefties do not get it. The idea is to get folks out of poverty not keep them in it.

What else was in those job acts Walter? You are accusing me of not helping the poor. I thought so. That is how Progressives roll. You have no clue about me and if in fact I do help the poor. In fact, look it up. Reps give more to charity and donate more blood than Dems. Dems are great at spending other people's money but not their own.

Reps give more blood? How do you know? I have given blood, I don't remember being asked for my political persuasion. Maybe because it is blue you can tell it is Republican.. Republicans give more to charity so they can use it as a tax deduction. IF it makes you feel good to give "charity" then go for it and pat yourself on the back, but most people don't want charity, they want an equal opportunity to take care of their family in these United States.

Got the info from a NY Times article titled Cheapskate Democrats. Broke down charity giving. Stated that gays give more than any other Dem. Also stated that Dems tend to give to charities involving the arts, lobbying groups like climate change as opposed to charities like Cancer and Big Brother or Special Olympics. You can deduct a % of charity giving. That is true. As far as most folks not wanting charity, it is now generational with folks on govt programs. I do not pat myself on the back. I do not need to do that about anything. The true givers are the ones that do it silently. They do it from the heart, not for publicity or to put up their self esteem. Most charity givers I know give back because they have had experiences with bad times and want to help other going through what they went through. Lastly, can you ever post anything without insulting people? You seem bitter.

AH, is that a payback for calling you negative? If you gave silently I would never have heard of it. I think you are confusing non profits with charity. The arts, climate change, cancer, special olympics do not feed people or put roofs over their heads or give them heating assistance in winter. This help is not so glamorous as charity balls etc, but these are the people that need it all year round, not just a Christmas or Thanksgiving or for rich people to have a wing named after them at a college. .

You either did not get what I said or your twisting it. The Dems give to Arts, Climate Change etc. They do not give as much to to local charities or in fact volunteer as much at food kitchens. Read the book Who Cares. Dems believe government is charity. And as far as charity goes, every entitlement program is charity. Those that pay taxes donate to those programs. What is it now less folks pay taxes I believe. I was commenting on you stating that I should pat myself on the back, or terms you use like get off your high horse. I also asked you why you cannot answer a post without being insulting. But then again you ignore everything your asked. When ya cannot dispute it, just insult. The Democratic Way.

Wait a minute, who called who "bitter". Now Rabbit I think you are a politician because you bounce every question back and never give a straight answer. So you have complied what non profits Dems give to, what charities do Republicans give to beside giving more blood. One more thing, why do you assume that only Republicans pay taxes. There are quite a few lower class people that have been paying taxes all their working lives. Maybe even some of the poor people you disparage paid taxes. I don't get how you think volunteering at a food kitchen at Christmas is going to help people. You want to go back to orphanages and work houses do you? How do you people call yourselves compassionate Christians? No wonder Fox is down on Pope Francis.

No you wait a minute Tillie. I never assumed that only Reps paid taxes. Those are your words not mine. It is not just volunteering at a Food Kitchen, it is also donating to those food kitchens or heat programs in winter. The point in the book who Cares is that Dems are all about helping the poor, but they do not with their time, money or volunteering as much as Reps. You twist everything. I forgot you called me negative, I was referring that you think Reps give more to charities for tax deductions. You never answered my question. You start the name calling and cannot take the heat when ya do. I suggest ya be nicer and just maybe folks will not come back at ya. You ask for it and you admitted ya like doing it in past posts. So if it is too hot in the kitchen, ya might wanna get out.

Rabbit, stop bouncing. So you called me "bitter" and don't think that is name calling? I not only can take the heat and enjoy it better than the cold. What you can't seem to get through your head is that,, Republicans can go help in soup kitchens etc, but it won't really help the millions of people that need help. You all do it for show. Remember Paul Ryan in the white apron at a soup kitchen. So funny. Maybe it is too hot for you in the kitchen and you should get out and leave the poor people to eat in peace. WHAT IS YOUR QUESTION? Answer mine, how do you know Republicans give more blood than Democrats? Is it the color? Is it the type, Republicans have a rarer type?

Ya know Tillie, I can handle when folks are uninformed. But what seems to be a running theme here is that many who post here are not uninformed, they just lie. I do remember Ryan at the Soup Kitchen. What you fail to state in your post is that all the media mudslinging about it was a lie. Everybody had to recant it. NY Times, ABC, Huffington Post etc. The president of the soup kitchen recanted it. Said he was in fact not there, Ryan did get permission to go there and in fact washed dirty dishes. Simple case of the left demonizing their opponent with lies. It seems to not matter what is stated, even when facts back it up you ignore it. You state they are not facts, even when they come from govt depts. Why would you cite Ryan's Soup Kitchen visit and not be honest enough to state the media and the President of the soup kitchen had to recant it? Are you uninformed or dishonest?

Rabbit...its even starting to annoy me that after this long, you still get exercised about any of this. Tillie.et al will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever see it your way...give it up.

RabbitNH, the short answer is "dishonest". Remember, to progressives, the ends justify the means. Win at any cost so long as they can win.

Calm down, Rabbit, I couldn't care less about Ryan in the soup kitchen, The point is there are plenty of volunteers at the soup kitchen at Xmas, but who is there when there is no camera present? The poor need help to get out of poverty and there are plenty of working poor who have never been in a soup kitchen.

Tillie, RabbitNH is correct. Democrats think that government is charity. If you read between the lines on this forum when progressives talk about health care, they always bring up the fact that the use of emergency rooms cost them "much more" which shows that they are worried about their pocket books, does that make them "selfish" or "greedy"? FYI, people below $50,000 do not pay "taxes" generally, they pay withholding which goes to provide for Medicare and Social security later in life. I think they ought to AT LEAST contribute to that. Scott Browns taxes came out yesterday. He earned over $400,000 and paid 25% of his income in taxes. Now, 8 people who earn less than $50,000 pay nothing and two people who earn a combined total average of $200,000 each are paying $100,000 instead of the 8 persons earning $50,000 paying little or nothing. I think that is more than fair. Numerous studies since 2006 show that Republicans are more inclined to give to charitable causes, in fact Romney gives between 15%-20% of his earnings to charitable causes. The Obama's upon entering office gave 1% and have now increased that to 5%, Joe Biden gave $369 the year he first served as VP....heck I give more than that. The difference is that Democrats and progressives are all for helping the poor and needy, just not with their money. They feel a need to use others money instead.

I certainly hope that I never need a transfusion.

Don't be timid, Hare, if you can't tell me anything the NRP has done to help the poor and/or middle class, just admit it. I'm still waiting. But, I expect all you'll give me is another rant. And, where do you get the ridiculous idea that the Red Cross keeps track of party affiliation of its blood donors??

As I told Tillie Walter, I got the info from a NY Times article called Bleeding Heart Tightwads. There are tons of articles about the generosity index, some even broken down by states. Folks that want to be informed read all kinds of news. They do not just read the ones that agree with their politics. You have to these days because both sides stretch the truth. And as far as defending the Reps goes, what is the point of giving you opinions, facts etc. Both you and Tillie could care less about what is fact. You both either talk about past Presidents to blame, ignore stats from govt depts. and change the topic when you do not like what you are reading. When those tactics do not work, you insult and name call. Neither of you ever take on what is said or dispute it. And you cannot handle it when folks put out stats on any subject that prove your American Idol President is not telling you the truth.

Rabbit, you have told us time and time again what a well informed person you are, but it has not changed your views one iota. We know you talk about articles that you read that reinforce your beliefs, have you ever brought up any article you read that disputes your views and has changed your mind on anything?

That article sounded familiar so I looked it up. It was tongue-in-cheek, written 6 years ago just before Christmas telling liberals to get on the ball. Only Republicans would not see the joke. As it said most conservatives(surprise) give most of their charity to their church. But I notice you didn't repeat the sentence about the working poor giving a larger percent of their income to charity than anyone else.

Wally, "jobs bills" do nothing to create jobs. The cost of creating one job by government is about two or three times what the job actually pays. ONLY the private sector creates "jobs", government only creates busy work and generally any public service jobs go to the well connected, the relatives of existing state and federal workers and political hacks. Have you ever tried to apply from the outside and land a government job. If you do so, GOOD LUCK! "Jobs legislation" is wallpaper covering the problem or lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig.

Funny though, when it comes to corporate tax breaks that raise the deficit the Republicans seem to have no problem. Even Kuster and Shea-Porter went along with it.

Don't waste your breath rightField. They never address what you ask. They go back to Bush and Cheney. They cannot even tell you the number of folks who do not have insurance pre ACA. Ask them the breakdown of the 43 million.

Gracchus, tillie...there is absolutely NO way that you could ever persuade Rabbit or BPR to look at historic facts and draw a rational conclusion. They are so bound up in their own interpretation they cannot listen to anything that is contrary to their opinions. DO NOT confuse them with FACTS. It would give them PTSD. Robert Izzi has done a superb job of presenting factual recent history. What the National Republican Party decided to do ON THE DATE of his inauguration (to President Obama) cannot be, in any way, construed to benefit the middle class (at a time when the US economy was tanking), or the country. How, anyone, in their right mind can support the National Republican Party these days, strikes me as just as wacko as the Sunnis always fighting the Shiite !!

Walter, what did President Obama proposed that he did not get? Last time I checked he passed the ACA, extended food stamps, unemployment, put the EPA out there to discourage opening new business and a host of other Progressive policies. Along the way he divided us by race, gender and the size of our wallets. Name his accomplishments. What did Hillary accomplish, what is the real unemployment rate? Is GM paying taxes? How did that bailout work for them? President Obama is detached from everything. He just allows his clowns to do his job. He wants the title but not the responsibility. You cannot justify all this incompetence with stating the Reps blocked his every move. He pretty much has had a blank check, and does what he wants. If you cannot see that, then you are not willing to judge this President. Question is why does he get a pass? Tillie never answers anything or proves any stats wrong. She just ignores it when you state the budget office said this or that. Ask her or Gracchus how many folks are uninsured, ask her how those green investments panned out. You will get name calling as an answer.

Rabbit...You ask alot of questions that you really don't want to read the answers to; you just want to ran on....and on...and on. So, I shan't waste time respond, just refer you to Politifact and, I'm sure you will say how wrong they are, but anyway, here goes: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/subjects/politifacts-top-promises/

Not even you would dispute that on Day One the Republicans vowed to block anything Obama tried to do. And I would hope even you cannot dispute that ever since no real significant legislation has gotten through Congress(?) Allright then, let me get this straight: That is what you call a “blank check”?

No, no, no. They wanted to block our march to collectivism and Socialism and policies that would ruin this country. As an attorney, you ought to support individualism, hard work, entrepreneurship, less regulation on businesses. Although, maybe you see these regulations, etc. as opportunities to cash in.

Not President Obama's Fault! That basically is what this article states. Not very creative. it is never President Obama's Fault, Responsibility or should he be required to take ownership of anything. Look who is advising him on foreign affairs. Also ask yourself, why he is always surprised when things go sour. The list seems to be getting longer and he keeps repeating that he found out about this or that by reading it in the paper. Thank goodness he reads, or he would not find out anything. He has delegated everything to folks who do not know what they are doing. Things go sour, his fan club comes out with the same story. He just got handed obstacles that are too hard to overcome. He is not responsible for anything. The first President in history that is free from being judged on his term in office.

"...why he is always surprised when things go sour"? How's this for a reason: nobody in his right mind could have predicted what a massive screw-up the Iraq affair was becoming. Didja ever wonder why President Bush was so surprised when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center despite all the advance warnings? Perhaps you have forgotten the 8/16/2001 presidential daily brief, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” Just so you know, NOBODY claims President Obama isn't responsible for anything; we just wish your gang weren't so determined to blame him for EVERYTHING!

I suggest you read up on Bill Clinton Gracchus and the chances he had to get Bin Laden. Actually, Gracchus, you folks excuse everything this President does. Those excuses are for the economy, jobs, foreign policy and stating when he lies, his words were taken out of context. And when you run out of excuses you use your deck of cards. Race Card, War On Women, Evil Rich Folks and a whole slew of demonizing tactics on those you disagree with. We have some folks here that are actually putting forth the myth that they are independent thinkers. Now, lets talk about how you demonized Bush for everything. As a matter of fact, everything that this administration screws up is blamed on Bush for the last 6 years. If in fact you folks were willing to discuss anything this administration has screwed up, then maybe we could have a conversation about how to fix things. Instead we get, it is not his fault, so he should not be criticized. That is what we see hear and deal with. The fact that you are blind to what is going here and how we are being played to go after each other to divert what is going on is pretty evident.

It would be nice if the "conversation about how to fix things" included something more than the tired and failed policy suggestions that got us into this mess in the first place. More tax cuts, less regulation, blah, blah, blah! Here we go: I'll offer one idea how to fix multiple problems (federal deficit, growing economic inequality, market manipulation by high frequency traders). Impose a fraction of 1% tax on securities transactions. If I need to explain how it will work, then I give up now. Your turn: explain how to fix one problem, and no old tried-and-failed nostrums.

Or perhaps less government and less spending. What about a bureaucracy that is dictatorial and moves like a sloth where public employees are hired through nepotism and political favor. What about government efficiency.

The blame gets put to Bush because he and his pals are the ones who created the recession. And he is the one who put us in to the Middle East. It is your side, Rabbit, that has demanded feats of magic from our current President, while tying up or blocking pretty much every bit of legislation the President has requested. It is your side that has expected the Great Recession to be solved in 12 months even though most of our best minds all told us it would take many years to really turn things around again. Demand and blame, is all your side gas done for 6 years, after your glory-boy put us all in to this jam in the first place.

You can blame to the cows come home gdn1. That accomplishes nothing and is an excuse for doing nothing.. Ask those great minds how long it took to get out of our past recessions. What has President Obama accomplished? You tell me.

Since you asked: he has provided to Affordable Health Care coverage to the poorest among us. Now, come on, Rabbit, that can't be something you are happy with. Tell us how much you despise any attempt to help the poor!!

Walter walter walter - Nobody but nobody is ever turned away from a hospital - what you want is for somebody else to pay for it.

Who do you think was paying for it if they had no insurance? This is a REAL question. "Somebody else" was already paying it and just who do you think that "somebody else" is?

Nobody expected miracles gdn1 or the recession to get fixed in 12 months. As far as those great minds go, ask them how we fared in past recessions. Blame is an excuse for doing nothing. It is defeatist. President Obama did not focus on the economy, he focused on health care, dividing us and changing the rules. The community organizer evidently believed that his ideas would work, sit in the back of the bus he said. He created an enemies list, Republicans, Religion and Wealthy folks. He could not even figure out where to invest the stimulus. How many jobs did we get out of that? Where are those shovel ready and green jobs? His idea to stimulate the economy was to extend entitlements, focus on green mandates and get out of wars. He also did a pretty good job of dividing us by our gender, race and size of our wallets. How many more scandals do you need to realize that this administration is incompetent? Every day there is a new screw up. The answer from Progressives is that he has faced more problems than any other President, every scandal is a witch hunt, and Reps want dirty air, lousy schools and are evil. We are in year 6 and you still blame and make excuses. When will you hold this President accountable? How long does the list of screw-ups have to get before you realize he has no clue what he is doing and delegates everything to advisors that agree with his ideology? Not working.

Rabbit...you truly don't understand the Republican Party. IF, and that is a big IF, you were the least interested in how the National Republican Party was owned AND controlled by the rich, you might read: http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105 . My guess is you wouldn't want to do it because it might teach you more about the NRP. AND, while the NRP talks about shrinking the National Debt, check this out: dia.org/wiki/National_debt_by_U.S._presidential_terms#Changes_in_debt_by_political_affiliation. So, did you check out anything??Of course you didn't !! How could you continue ridiculous anti-progressive rants if you knew the truth behind the NRP.

The entire basis of a community organizer is to do by whatever means to get money from outside the community to flow into the community. Now - do any of the liberals care to tell us why that cant be taken to a national level?

Name 1 law passed by Bush that caused the economic downturn - ya cant because he did nothing to cause it. he did however bring the problem to the democrat controlled House and Senate 17 different times and barney franks said all was well - liberals .....sheeeeesh

Zzzzzzz.. Just one mindlessly repetitive rant after another. You never address substantively any of the issues Mr. Azzi raises. You're free to offer a SUBSTANTIVE response via letter at any time. We won't hold our breath.

again a liberal cant answer 1 simple question - are you waiting for something to cut and paste?

Wow! This was a tour de force! Thank you, Robert, for speaking the truth so clearly and so strongly!

at a time when the world needed a true leader like Ronald Reagan ....the democrats instead put forth a Marxist street agitator from the Chicago political machine and put him in the White House. A real Leader builds consensus not creates more division. Reagan worked with a democrat House and Senate and turned things around after the dismal democrat Carter. NObama could not get anything done with his own party ruling both the Senate and House . Not once in the 5+ years of democrat edict has the public EVER said the country is even close to going in the right direction. You can keep you 37% approval of the direction of the country or vote to return it to its days of glory. The letter above is pure liberal revisionist history. One only has to read " CIA Operation “Zero Footprint”, Qatar, Benghazi and The Connection To Ahmed Abu Khattala – The Real Motive For The Obama Administration’s Recent Arrest" to know who NObama supports...... and it isnt the USA

IF you continue such mindless rants, there is no need for an educated response-it is a waste of time.

"Accept there are some things you will never know." A statement unknown to Woodward/Bernstein

And yet, despite the claims here, the American people had more confidence in Bush than Obama. Re the latest polls.

Latest comparative Gallup Poll still ranks Obama's job approval higher than Bush's - 42% to 37%. By party, 78% of Democrats, 34% of independents, and 9% of Republicans approve of his efforts. Check the facts here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/124922/Presidential-Approval-Center.aspx

you didnt read my comment...try again

And now, this NBC/Wall Street Journal survey. Obama’s overall approval rate in the survey: 41 percent, a new low for this poll. More striking, just 37 percent approve of his handling of foreign policy. Trading Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban terrorists: 44 percent disapprove, 30 percent approve. And the killer statistic: 54 percent say he’s unable to lead the country and get the job done, compared with 42 percent who believe he can. Todd, who is NBC’s chief White House correspondent and political director as well as an MSNBC host, called this “a disaster for the president.” “Essentially the public is saying, ‘Your presidency is over’ by saying a number like that, 54 percent saying he no longer has the ability to lead and solve problems. That’s one of those things, you’re sitting at the White House going, ‘Wow.’”

This is how history will look at this in twenty or thirty years time. Just as the seeds of WWII were planted in WWI so the quagmire of the Middle East today was started by the US invasion of Iraq and its' aftermath.

I disagree Tillie. This problem in the middle east along with others it that area started when the western powers created the current countries of the middle east after the fall of the ottoman empire. The borders were created with no regard for the people who lived there for political reasons. Tensions have been building in this area ever since.

I hesitate to fall back on culture-is-destiny type arguments, but the troubles in the Mideast predate the conflict between Israel and Amalek. Only very brief periods have seen slight progress away from sectarianism and tribalism - the Abassids and the early Ottomans being the bright spots.

True, but this immediate problem and the fall of the dictators that fell like dominos after Saddam can be traced to the invasion. The US under Bremer threw out all the Sunnis from the army and their government positions and they are back for revenge. After the Civil War the Republicans took revenge on the south with reformation and the hate generated caused the KKK and Jim Crow and still today lingering problems. After WWI England and France humiliated and starved Germany as payback and it led to Hitler. It isn't so much the wars that cause the hatred, it is the aftermath by the victor. Because the US treated Japan and Germany with dignity we made allies. George Bush and Cheney caused these problems and they would have happened if we stayed there 50 years.

Simplistic at it's best. Not our fault, so we do nothing. That pretty much applies to everything, right Tillie? Basically your stating a defeatist attitude. Not what America was founded on.

It's not a defeatist attitude. it is reality. We are not talking about America here, you are talking about cultures that pre-date Americans by a few thousand years with issues just as old. Our values are fine for us but we are not talking about us. American values are just that, it's not one value fits all, we just never seem to grasp that.

Who are we to think democracy is for everybody?

Isn't it bad for your health to be negative ALL the time?

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