Fear and Apathy

Less than one third of the registered voters voted in the recent midterm elections, yet the Republicans claim a mandate and President Obama a lame duck who should quietly and passively accept that his is a failed presidency. Fortunately, he has refused to do so and seems to be responding to the election with renewed energy, resulting in his latest speech on immigration.

Of course, the major television networks, in an unprecedented failure to use the public airwaves for the public good, refused to broadcast the President’s speech.  Fox news, on the other hand, brought out the usual suspects to spew fear and rattled the swords of impeachment.

Meanwhile, a Republican controlled House committee determined that, contrary to the unrelenting “reporting” from Fox news, the allegations of wrongdoing in response to the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi Libya are completely unfounded. According to the Associated Press,

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the two-year investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, intelligence about who carried it out and why was contradictory, the report found. That led Susan Rice, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to inaccurately assert that the attack had evolved from a protest, when in fact there had been no protest. But it was intelligence analysts, not political appointees, who made the wrong call, the committee found. The report did not conclude that Rice or any other government official acted in bad faith or intentionally misled the American people.

Any guesses as to whether Fox news will offer retractions?

The House Intelligence Committee report was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week. Many of its findings echo those of six previous investigations by various congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth Benghazi investigation is being carried out by a House Select Committee appointed in May.

The attacks in Benghazi killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two CIA contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. A Libyan extremist, Ahmed Abu Khatalla, is facing trial on murder charges after he was captured in Libya and taken to the U.S.

In the aftermath of the attacks, Republicans criticized the Obama administration and its then-secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016. People in and out of government have alleged that a CIA response team was ordered to “stand down” after the State Department compound came under attack, that a military rescue was nixed, that officials intentionally downplayed the role of al-Qaida figures in the attack, and that Stevens and the CIA were involved in a secret operation to spirit weapons out of Libya and into the hands of Syrian rebels. None of that is true, according to the House Intelligence Committee report.

Of course, Fox news (And the Republican Party) has moved on from  criticizing the President about Benghazi to calling for his impeachment for “overextending” executive powers on immigration. The fact is, the current attitude towards immigrants is, at a very deep level, unAmerican. For most of America’s history, citizenship was granted based on residency requirements alone. Only in the relatively recent past has this changed in any significant way. Even then, as 18 executive actions on immigration by various presidents (5 of whom were Republican) across the past 50 years have shown, there have been ways for presidents to alter the situation. For example, amnesties of extremely large groups of Cubans in the past benefited that community. Both Senator Cruz and Rubio were born to Cuban citizens, and would today be called anchor babies by the Republicans.

The President acted because the Republican lead House has refused to. John Boehner should let the 2013 Senate Immigration Reform bill come to a vote instead of blocking it. The President has responded to immigration based upon what the majority of Americans want. As recently as last week, a Wall Street Journal poll showed that 74% of all Americans approve a pathway to citizenship that includes penalties and waiting periods — just like those found in the Senate bill.

The fact is, President Obama’s action, rather than an abuse of power,is a band aid intended to provide temporary relief. The Republicans will have a difficult time refusing act on immigration now that Democratic leadership would be wise to join him. If only the media would provide him the “bully pulpit” his position as President deserves.

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