New York Times Bill Clinton Interview: Bill Clinton Says He Had It Worse Than Barack Obama, Yet “HE” Got Things Done.


 

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President Clinton in 1998. He and his aides have compared his effectiveness during his time in office versus President Obama’s. Credit J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

President Clinton in 1998. He and his aides have compared his effectiveness during his time in office versus President Obama’s. Credit J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

I will refrain from commenting on this garbage until the end of this New York Times piece…….

From The New York Times POLITICS:

 

Toxic Partisanship? Bill Clinton Says He Had It Worse, Yet Got Things Done

 

President Obama heads into midterm elections in which he may face crushing losses. He has been spurned by his own party, whose candidates do not even want to be seen with him. The president’s supporters say the toxic atmosphere in Washington has made it impossible for Mr. Obama to succeed.

But there is a counter view being offered by a former Democratic president that as far as personal attacks go, he, Bill Clinton, had it worse. “Nobody’s accused him of murder yet, as far as I know. I mean, it was pretty rough back then,” Mr. Clinton said last month in an interview aired by PBS, when asked about the partisan climate facing Mr. Obama.

Whatever Mr. Clinton’s motivations, his comments, which his former aides frequently refer to when the topic comes up, do not permit Mr. Obama to excuse his legislative setbacks by simply citing hyper-partisanship. As one former White House aide to Mr. Clinton put it: “They impeached our guy.”

The tumult of the Clinton years — including conspiracy theories about the death of Vincent W. Foster Jr., a deputy White House counsel and friend of the Clintons’ from Arkansas who committed suicide in 1993, the investigation into Whitewater, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment — has come back as Hillary Rodham Clinton inches toward a run for president in 2016.

 

When asked last month what the single biggest misconception about his presidency was, Mr. Clinton told Charlie Rose on PBS, “I think that most people underappreciate the level of extreme partisanship that took hold in ’94.”

Twenty years later, Mr. Clinton has devoted much of his energy to campaigning for Democrats who do not want to be associated with Mr. Obama. At frequent campaign stops across the country, the former president does not talk about who had it worse, but instead emphasizes that polarization and an inability to work together are the cause of the country’s problems.

“Every place in the world people take the time to work together, good things are happening,” Mr. Clinton said this week at a campaign stop in Hazard, Ky., for the Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. “Every place in the world where people spend all their time fighting each other and telling everybody how sorry they are, bad things happen.”

If Mr. Clinton does not explain on the campaign trail how bad things were for him, his Democratic supporters do.

“Everyone looks at Clinton in this hazy glow of, ‘He’s so wonderful,’ ” said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic strategist. “But when he was president, boy, were there a lot of people who went after him in a very personal, some would say dirty, way.”

Even Mr. Clinton’s old rival, Newt Gingrich, a former Republican speaker of the House, said people had a gauzy view of the Clinton years. “Everyone is doing the, ‘Gee, Newt and Bill got things done, why can’t Obama get anything done?’ routine,” Mr. Gingrich said. “Maybe it’s driving Bill nuts.”

The underlying implication is that Mr. Obama does not have it so rough. Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Clinton criticize the current president for being less able or willing than his Democratic predecessor to woo congressional Republicans.

 

Bill Clinton Talks About Partisanship

Mr. Clinton talked to Charlie Rose of PBS about the level of partisanship during his presidency compared with what President Obama is facing now.

Publish DateOctober 24, 2014. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

 

Trent Lott, the Mississippi Republican who served as Senate majority leader from 1996 to 2001, said Mr. Clinton was “affable” and “approachable,” even toward his political opponents.

“You could talk to him,” Mr. Lott said. “He was also willing to make a deal for the good of the country.” In contrast, he argued, Mr. Obama “has just walked away” — so if Mr. Clinton even tried to give the current president a pass, it “just won’t sell.”

Congressional Republicans, of course, have also refused to reach across the aisle and work with Mr. Obama the way they did in Mr. Lott’s era. The current Congress is on track to become one of the least legislatively productive in recent history. That is partly because Mr. Obama faces a far more polarized electorate than Mr. Clinton did.

Over the past 20 years, the number of Americans who hold extreme conservative or liberal views has doubled from 10 percent in 1994 to 21 percent in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. And the middle ground has shrunk, with 39 percent of Americans taking a roughly equal number of liberal and conservative positions, compared with 49 percent in 1994.

Mr. Clinton often talks about this polarization and says that while the partisan gridlock is worse today, and the American electorate is less willing to hear arguments it disagrees with, the attacks he faced were more personal than those Mr. Obama has experienced.

In a 2012 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Clinton mentioned the “murder” conspiracy theory in the 1990s, and said of Mr. Obama’s tenure: “Nobody has tried to bankrupt him with bogus investigations, so it’s not quite as bad. But the political impasse has gone on longer.”

“I will certainly not contradict the president I worked for when he argues that it was even more personal then,” said William A. Galston, a former policy adviser to Mr. Clinton. “But the polarization of our official political institutions and our political parties has become even more acute than in the Clinton days,” he added.

Mr. Clinton in 1996 with the House speaker, Newt Gingrich, left, and the Senate majority leader, Trent Lott. CreditJoe Marquette/Associated Press

 

That argument absolves Mr. Clinton of his own part in the scandals of the 1990s, several historians said. “They’re different situations because there were criminal allegations” against Mr. Clinton, said Ken Gormley, the author of “The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr,”about the investigation led by Kenneth W. Starr.

President Obama has attracted a lot of attacks when it’s hard to point to something exactly he has done that warranted them,” Mr. Gormley added.

Some of the venom directed at Mr. Obama has a racial component that Mr. Clinton, a relatable white Southerner, never had to deal with, said Douglas G. Brinkley, a presidential historian and professor at Rice University. “The Clintons created huge problems of their own making,” Mr. Brinkley added, while “Obama’s problem is that he bullheadedly pushed Obamacare, and he happens to be African-American.”

“You can’t get more personal than questioning a person’s veracity for where he was born,” said Mr. Galston, the former Clinton aide, referring to the “birther” conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate.

Mr. Clinton’s reminders about how bitter things were in Washington when he was in the White House might not be the best message as Mrs. Clinton eyes an attempt at getting back there, as president herself this time.

Senator Rand Paul, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, has already seized on the Lewinsky scandal as a way to remind voters that the Clinton years were not just “peace and prosperity,” as Mrs. Clinton often characterized her husband’s presidency during her 2008 presidential campaign.

Mr. Clinton is not the only president who weathered harsh attacks. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, called former President George W. Bush a “liar” and a “loser,” and protesters depicted him as Hitler.

“Every president probably thinks he had it worse than all his predecessors,” said Kenneth L. Khachigian, a Republican strategist who served as a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. “But,” he added, “those of us in the Nixon years would have gladly traded places with Bill Clinton’s White House.”

The Last 24™


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From Deadline.com:

Documentary Banned By St. Louis Theater Heads To VOD Amid Racial Tension

 

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Talk about timing. Spanish Lake, the racially-charged documentary banned from St. Louis’ Wehrenberg theaters in the aftermath of the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson — known by the locals now as Ferghanistan — is now heading to VOD. The film couldn’t have come at a worse or better time (depending on your perspective). It chronicles the white flight out of Spanish Lake, a city only a few miles from the center of where the rioting and protests are taking place. The filmmaker’s father still lives in Ferguson which is on the verge of receiving more news about the white police officer involved in the shooting and whether or not he will be acquitted. Walmart today started to remove ammunition from its shelves in the hotbed area in light of that fact and after yet another police officer involved shooting.

 

SPANISH LAKE – Race, Class and White Flight in Missouri Documentary

 

Published on Sep 5, 2014

SPANISH LAKE, the new documentary on white flight, economics, race and class in Missouri is shared by documentary filmmakers Philip Andrew Morton and Matt Smith. In the wake of the Ferguson police shooting and protests, this documentary is particularly relevant to America and the ongoing discussion in the media and society, and the insights we get about the film with the trailer and film clips contribute to an illuminating edition of the world’s only talk show on documentary films, BYOD.

 

 

SPANISH LAKE is a bold and uncompromising documentary focused on economic oppression in the suburb of Spanish Lake, Missouri. Operating without a local government, the lack of community leadership has disastrous effects, including a mass exodus of the white population in the late 1990′s. The themes of the film parallel America’s growing political divide, underlying racism, and rise of anti-government sentiment. Most notably, the recent shooting of 18-year-old, unarmed Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson – only 8 miles away from Spanish Lake… In fact, the unrest in Ferguson caused the film to be banned by Wehrenberg Theaters in North St. Louis County, citing fear of the daily protests. AMC, in turn, also banned the film.

 

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Related: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: St. Louis Police Officer Under Investigation Following Call To Protester’s Employer.

 

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The White House Blog

 

Here’s What You Need to Know About Our Response to Ebola Right Now

 

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press after a meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating the government's Ebola response, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Oct.15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press after a meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating the government’s Ebola response, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Oct.15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

Chart of the Week: The Deficit Falls to Its Lowest Level Since 2007

 

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What You Missed: The First Lady Answers Your Questions on Let’s Move! and the White House Garden

 

 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Garden to Table: The Fall White House Kitchen Garden Harvest

 

October is National Farm to School Month, and in celebration of the incredible farm to school programs across the country, the First Lady invited students from schools in California, Arizona, and Ohio to participate in the fall harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden. Each of their schools incorporate fresh, local food into their meals and teach students about healthy eating through hands-on experience in their own school gardens as well as nutrition education in the classroom.

 

In addition, three chefs paired with three of this year’s Kids’ State Dinner winners as part of the Kids and Chefs Cook for Success collaboration also joined the fall harvest. Through the collaboration, all 54 winners of this year’s Kids’ State Dinner have been paired up with chefs in their communities to host free and healthy cooking demonstrations, reaching kids and families across the country.

 

All of the participants joined the First Lady in harvesting a variety of vegetables from the White House Kitchen Garden. Following their time in the garden, each chef worked with a Kids’ State Dinner winner and a team of students to prepare a delicious and nutritious fall-inspired meal with the produce harvested.

 

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Find all of the recipes on the Let’s Move! blog and try them out at home!

 

In Case You Missed It: Vine Q&A with the First Lady

As part of the fall harvest, the First Lady participated in her first-ever Vine and Twitter Q&A to answer questions about Let’s Move!. During the chat, Mrs. Obama talked about tips for eating healthy and being active, the White House bees, her favorite fall vegetable, and a turnip that you don’t want to miss!

 

Check out the full Q&A and follow Let’s Move! and the First Lady on Twitter for the latest updates and more opportunities to engage with Mrs. Obama and Let’s Move!.

 

Let’s Move! Active Schools Reaches 10,000 Schools

Last year, the First Lady launched Let’s Move! Active Schools to reintegrate physical activity before, during, and after the school day to ensure 60 minutes of physical activity each day is the new norm for schools. Last week, Let’s Move! Active Schools announced the milestone of reaching over 10,000 schools across 50 states and impacting more than 5 million students!

 

Join the movement today and become a school champion! Sign your school up at www.letsmoveschools.org.

 

Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties Goes Nationwide

Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties helps local elected officials develop long-term, sustainable and holistic strategies to promote improved nutrition and increased physical activity in their communities. Last week, Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties announcedthat more than 450 cities, towns and counties are now participating in the initiative, including all fifty states, which impacts almost 70 million Americans.

 

With national participation in Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties, sustainable strategies are being implemented in every state, and as Let’s Move! expands to more cities, towns and counties across the country, we ensure healthy communities and healthy futures for all of America.

 

Blog Highlights

This week is National School Lunch Week, and to celebrate, we’re highlighting school champions and districts working hard, coming up with innovative solutions to provide healthy meals that students enjoy. Check out the Let’s Move! blog for more great success stories from schools across the country.

 

Variety and Consistency are the Pillars to CentroNía’s “Eat Healthy, Live Healthy” Program
CentroNía is dedicated to providing healthy options to their students by cooking meals and preparing snacks that incorporate whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, more vegetarian proteins and local produce. They have been creative in coming up with a variety of new meals the students enjoy and consistent in offering healthy options. Thanks to their hard work, they have seen the positive impact of the students consuming healthier meals.

 

Farm-to-School and School Nutrition Programs: Dedicated to Serving Healthy Fresh Food
In Delaware, schools participate in farm to school programs to provide fresh, local produce to students in school meals. They also hold taste tests to introduce students to new vegetables and get their input on the taste and preparation. Through their work with local farms, students get access to nutritious foods, and the purchasing of local food supports the local economy as well.

 

For the full recap of recent activities and to get involved, visit the Let’s Move! blog, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

 

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What You Need to Know: Our Push To Get Long-Term Unemployed Americans Back to Work

 

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The Department of Defense Must Plan for the National Security Implications of Climate Change

 

President Obama Joins International Military Leaders to Discuss Coalition Efforts Against ISIL

 

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It's Raining Videos™

It’s Raining Videos™

The President Meets on the U.S. Response to Ebola

 

 

 

WATCH: Iowa Police Force Pregnant Woman In Labor To Ground At GunPoint

 

Published on Oct 16, 2014

CAUGHT ON TAPE: Pregnant Iowa woman in labor forced to ground at gunpoint by cops for speeding on way to hospital.
(NYDailyNews) Rachel Kohnen and her husband, Ben Kohnen, were rushing to the hospital in time to have their fourth child on Tuesday morning. Cops used tire spikes to stop the car and ordered the couple to the ground after they refused to pull over.

A pregnant woman was held at gunpoint on her way to the hospital after she and her husband refused to pull over their speeding car Tuesday in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

 

Rachel and Ben Kohnen sped to the hospital at about 4 a.m. Tuesday morning as Rachel Kohnen was in labor. They drove at 85 mph in a 55 mph zone, police said.

 

The Kohnens did not stop the car after an officer pursued them, Manson Police Chief Tom Ritts told the Daily News. The officer called for backup, and police laid tire spikes on the road to stop them.

 

Ben Kohnen told NBC13 the spikes blew out all four tires and forced them to come to a halt. The couple was ordered to the ground and held at gunpoint until officers realized what all the rush was about.

 

Rachel Kohnen gave birth to the couple’s fourth child, a nearly-10-pound baby named Hazel, about an hour after police escorted her to the hospital.
Rachel Kohnen said they could not stop the car because the baby was on its way quickly.

 

“I think I was screaming, ‘Oh, dear God, we can’t have the baby in the car,” the mother told NBC13.

 

The couple tried to call 911 to alert them, but the dispatcher could not understand them, Ritts said.

 

“She was in so much pain,” he said. “They couldn’t make heads or tails out of what she was saying.”
The police chief said the officer did not know why the car would not stop and followed typical protocol for a high speed chase.

 

“Normally when you get somebody clocked like that and they fail to pull over, the first thought in my mind is we’ve got somebody drunk or on drugs,” Ritts said.

 

No charges have been filed against the couple at this time, Ritts said.

 

Iowa cop police pregnant woman in labor gun draw ground surveillance caught on tape video footage Iowa cop police pregnant woman in labor gun draw ground surveillance caught on tape video footage Iowa cop police pregnant woman in labor gun draw ground surveillance caught on tape video footage Iowa cop police pregnant woman in labor gun draw ground surveillance caught on tape video footage

 

 

Remember the long gone days when if you were speeding to get your pregnant wife/girlfriend to the ER for delivery, the cops would escort you with sirens & lights blazing/flashing? Today you get your tires blown. My thought is, if you blow the tires of a car speeding to the ER, with a pregnant wife/girlfriend for delivery, you put everyone in that car at risk/danger to roll over and crash. In this case, mother to be, father to be AND unborn baby. Good use of common sense & logic Iowa cops.

 

 

The Black Panthers Party Founded in October 1966

 

Published on Oct 16, 2014

Eddie Conway, Baltimore Black Panther describes the political and social conditions that gave rise to the militancy and politics of the Black Panthers Party.

 

 

 

Umar Lee St. Charles County Announcement

 

 

 

Activist confronts Cop trying to intimidate her

 

Published on Oct 15, 2014

A Saint Louis community officer calls the employer of a local activist @stacksizshort in an attempt to intimidate and cause her to lose her job.

 

 

 

CDC Director: No Symptoms Before Nurse’s Flight

 

Published on Oct 16, 2014

CDC Director Tom Frieden was grilled by lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday on wide-ranging topics related to the agency’s management of Ebola, including giving a Dallas nurse permission to fly to Cleveland. (Oct. 16)

 

 

I’m not even going to call this idiot a lying muthafucka, even though he is a lying muthafucka. If this nurse called the CDC and said she had a fever, why would the CDC give her an all clear to travel without examining her? Think about it, she boarded a plane, with a fever, and other passengers. Dumbfuckery.

 

 

Supreme Court Lets Abortion Clinics Reopen, Easing Crisis of Access in Texas

 

 

 

‘Why Not A Military Coup?’ asks Right Wing Government Official

 

Published on Oct 16, 2014

Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan finds nothing wrong with her Facebook posts that have been brought to nationwide attention asking the military why they don’t just overthrow President Obama in a coup.

 

 

 

Gay USA 10/15/14

 

 

 

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Rolling Stone: In Defense of Obama.


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The Nobel Prize-winning economist, once one of the president’s most notable critics, on why Obama is a historic success

By | October 8, 2014 For Rolling Stone Magazine

 

When it comes to Barack Obama, I’ve always been out of sync. Back in 2008, when many liberals were wildly enthusiastic about his candidacy and his press was strongly favorable, I was skeptical. I worried that he was naive, that his talk about transcending the political divide was a dangerous illusion given the unyielding extremism of the modern American right. Furthermore, it seemed clear to me that, far from being the transformational figure his supporters imagined, he was rather conventional-minded: Even before taking office, he showed signs of paying far too much attention to what some of us would later take to calling Very Serious People, people who regarded cutting budget deficits and a willingness to slash Social Security as the very essence of political virtue.

 

And I wasn’t wrong. Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP’s unwillingness to make even token concessions.

 

But now the shoe is on the other foot: Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn’t deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward – and it’s working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it’s much more effective than you’d think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy.

I’ll go through those achievements shortly. First, however, let’s take a moment to talk about the current wave of Obama-bashing. All Obama-bashing can be divided into three types. One, a constant of his time in office, is the onslaught from the right, which has never stopped portraying him as an Islamic atheist Marxist Kenyan. Nothing has changed on that front, and nothing will.

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There’s a different story on the left, where you now find a significant number of critics decrying Obama as, to quote Cornel West, someone who ”posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit.” They’re outraged that Wall Street hasn’t been punished, that income inequality remains so high, that ”neoliberal” economic policies are still in place. All of this seems to rest on the belief that if only Obama had put his eloquence behind a radical economic agenda, he could somehow have gotten that agenda past all the political barriers that have con- strained even his much more modest efforts. It’s hard to take such claims seriously.

Finally, there’s the constant belittling of Obama from mainstream pundits and talking heads. Turn on cable news (although I wouldn’t advise it) and you’ll hear endless talk about a rudderless, stalled administration, maybe even about a failed presidency. Such talk is often buttressed by polls showing that Obama does, indeed, have an approval rating that is very low by historical standards.

But this bashing is misguided even in its own terms – and in any case, it’s focused on the wrong thing.

Yes, Obama has a low approval rating compared with earlier presidents. But there are a number of reasons to believe that presidential approval doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to: There is much more party-sorting (in which Republicans never, ever have a good word for a Democratic president, and vice versa), the public is negative on politicians in general, and so on. Obviously the midterm election hasn’t happened yet, but in a year when Republicans have a huge structural advantage – Democrats are defending a disproportionate number of Senate seats in deep-red states – most analyses suggest that control of the Senate is in doubt, with Democrats doing considerably better than they were supposed to. This isn’t what you’d expect to see if a failing president were dragging his party down.

More important, however, polls – or even elections – are not the measure of a president. High office shouldn’t be about putting points on the electoral scoreboard, it should be about changing the country for the better. Has Obama done that? Do his achievements look likely to endure? The answer to both questions is yes.

 

HEALTH CARE

When Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, an excited Joe Biden whispered audibly, ”This is a big fucking deal!” He was right.

 

The enactment and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, has been a perils-of-Pauline experience. When an upset in the special election to replace Ted Kennedy cost Democrats their 60-vote Senate majority, health reform had to be rescued with fancy legislative footwork. Then it survived a Supreme Court challenge only thanks to a surprise display of conscience by John Roberts, who nonetheless opened a loophole that has allowed Republican-controlled states to deny coverage to millions of Americans. Then technical difficulties with the HealthCare.gov website seemed to threaten disaster. But here we are, most of the way through the first full year of reform’s implementation, and it’s working better than even the optimists expected.

We won’t have the full data on 2014 until next year’s census report, but multiple independent surveys show a sharp drop in the number of Americans without health insurance, probably around 10 million, a number certain to grow greatly over the next two years as more people realize that the program is available and penalties for failure to sign up increase.

It’s true that the Affordable Care Act will still leave millions of people in America uninsured. For one thing, it was never intended to cover undocumented immigrants, who are counted in standard measures of the uninsured. Furthermore, millions of low-income Americans will slip into the loophole Roberts created: They were supposed to be covered by a federally funded expansion of Medicaid, but some states are blocking that expansion out of sheer spite. Finally, unlike Social Security and Medicare, for which almost everyone is automatically eligible, Obamacare requires beneficiaries to prove their eligibility for Medicaid or choose and then pay for a subsidized private plan. Inevitably, some people will fall through the cracks.

Still, Obamacare means a huge improvement in the quality of life for tens of millions of Americans – not just better care, but greater financial security. And even those who were already insured have gained both security and freedom, because they now have a guarantee of coverage if they lose or change jobs.

What about the costs? Here, too, the news is better than anyone expected. In 2014, premiums on the insurance policies offered through the Obamacare exchanges were well below those originally projected by the Congressional Budget Office, and the available data indicates a mix of modest increases and actual reductions for 2015 – which is very good in a sector where premiums normally increase five percent or more each year. More broadly, overall health spending has slowed substantially, with the cost-control features of the ACA probably deserving some of the credit.

In other words, health reform is looking like a major policy success story. It’s a program that is coming in ahead of schedule – and below budget – costing less, and doing more to reduce overall health costs than even its supporters predicted.

Of course, this success story makes nonsense of right-wing predictions of catastrophe. Beyond that, the good news on health costs refutes conservative orthodoxy. It’s a fixed idea on the right, sometimes echoed by ”centrist” commentators, that the only way to limit health costs is to dismantle guarantees of adequate care – for example, that the only way to control Medicare costs is to replace Medicare as we know it, a program that covers major medical expenditures, with vouchers that may or may not be enough to buy adequate insurance. But what we’re actually seeing is what looks like significant cost control via a laundry list of small changes to how we pay for care, with the basic guarantee of adequate coverage not only intact but widened to include Americans of all ages.

It’s worth pointing out that some criticisms of Obamacare from the left are also looking foolish. Obamacare is a system partly run through private insurance companies (although expansion of Medicaid is also a very important piece). And some on the left were outraged, arguing that the program would do more to raise profits in the medical-industrial complex than it would to protect American families.

You can still argue that single-payer would have covered more people at lower cost – in fact, I would. But that option wasn’t on the table; only a system that appeased insurers and reassured the public that not too much would change was politically feasible. And it’s working reasonably well: Competition among insurers who can no longer deny insurance to those who need it most is turning out to be pretty effective. This isn’t the health care system you would have designed from scratch, or if you could ignore special-interest politics, but it’s doing the job.

And this big improvement in American society is almost surely here to stay. The conservative health care nightmare – the one that led Republicans to go all-out against Bill Clinton’s health plans in 1993 and Obamacare more recently – is that once health care for everyone, or almost everyone, has been put in place, it will be very hard to undo, because too many voters would have a stake in the system. That’s exactly what is happening. Republicans are still going through the motions of attacking Obamacare, but the passion is gone. They’re even offering mealymouthed assurances that people won’t lose their new benefits. By the time Obama leaves office, there will be tens of millions of Americans who have benefited directly from health reform – and that will make it almost impossible to reverse. Health reform has made America a different, better place.

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FINANCIAL REFORM

Let’s be clear: The financial crisis should have been followed by a drastic crackdown on Wall Street abuses, and it wasn’t. No important figures have gone to jail; bad banks and other financial institutions, from Citigroup to Goldman, were bailed out with few strings attached; and there has been nothing like the wholesale restructuring and reining in of finance that took place in the 1930s. Obama bears a considerable part of the blame for this disappointing response. It was his Treasury secretary and his attorney general who chose to treat finance with kid gloves.

It’s easy, however, to take this disappointment too far. You often hear Dodd- Frank, the financial-reform bill that Obama signed into law in 2010, dismissed as toothless and meaningless. It isn’t. It may not prevent the next financial crisis, but there’s a good chance that it will at least make future crises less severe and easier to deal with.

Dodd-Frank is a complicated piece of legislation, but let me single out three really important sections.

First, the law gives a special council the ability to designate ”systemically important financial institutions” (SIFIs) – that is, institutions that could create a crisis if they were to fail – and place such institutions under extra scrutiny and regulation of things like the amount of capital they are required to maintain to cover possible losses. This provision has been derided as ineffectual or worse – during the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney claimed that by announcing that some firms were SIFIs, the government was effectively guaranteeing that they would be bailed out, which he called ”the biggest kiss that’s been given to New York banks I’ve ever seen.”

But it’s easy to prove that this is nonsense: Just look at how institutions behave when they’re designated as SIFIs. Are they pleased, because they’re now guaranteed? Not a chance. Instead, they’re furious over the extra regulation, and in some cases fight bitterly to avoid being placed on the list. Right now, for example, MetLife is making an all-out effort to be kept off the SIFI list; this effort demonstrates that we’re talking about real regulation here, and that financial interests don’t like it.

Another key provision in Dodd-Frank is ”orderly liquidation authority,” which gives the government the legal right to seize complex financial institutions in a crisis. This is a bigger deal than you might think. We have a well-established procedure for seizing ordinary banks that get in trouble and putting them into receivership; in fact, it happens all the time. But what do you do when something like Citigroup is on the edge, and its failure might have devastating consequences? Back in 2009, Joseph Stiglitz and yours truly, among others, wanted to temporarily nationalize one or two major financial players, for the same reasons the FDIC takes over failing banks, to keep the institutions running but avoid bailing out stockholders and management. We got a chance to make that case directly to the president. But we lost the argument, and one key reason was Treasury’s claim that it lacked the necessary legal authority. I still think it could have found a way, but in any case that won’t be an issue next time.

A third piece of Dodd-Frank is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild, an agency dedicated to protecting Americans against the predatory lending that has pushed so many into financial distress, and played an important role in the crisis. Warren’s idea was that such a stand-alone agency would more effectively protect the public than agencies that were supposed to protect consumers, but saw their main job as propping up banks. And by all accounts the new agency is in fact doing much more to crack down on predatory practices than anything we used to see.

There’s much more in the financial reform, including a number of pieces we don’t have enough information to evaluate yet. But there’s enough evidence even now to say that there’s a reason Wall Street – which used to give an approximately equal share of money to both parties but now overwhelmingly supports Republicans – tried so hard to kill financial reform, and is still trying to emasculate Dodd-Frank. This may not be the full overhaul of finance we should have had, and it’s not as major as health reform. But it’s a lot better than nothing.

THE ECONOMY

Barack Obama might not have been elected president without the 2008 financial crisis; he certainly wouldn’t have had the House majority and the brief filibuster-proof Senate majority that made health reform possible. So it’s very disappointing that six years into his presidency, the U.S. economy is still a long way from being fully recovered.

Before we ask why, however, we should note that things could have been worse. In fact, in other times and places they have been worse. Make no mistake about it – the devastation wrought by the financial crisis was terrible, with real income falling 5.5 percent. But that’s actually not as bad as the ”typical” experience after financial crises: Even in advanced countries, the median post-crisis decline in per- capita real GDP is seven percent. Recovery has been slow: It took almost six years for the United States to regain pre-crisis average income. But that was actually a bit faster than the historical average.

Or compare our performance with that of the European Union. Unemployment in America rose to a horrifying 10 percent in 2009, but it has come down sharply in the past few years. It’s true that some of the apparent improvement probably reflects discouraged workers dropping out, but there has been substantial real progress. Meanwhile, Europe has had barely any job recovery at all, and unemployment is still in double digits. Compared with our counterparts across the Atlantic, we haven’t done too badly.

Did Obama’s policies contribute to this less-awful performance? Yes, without question. You’d never know it listening to the talking heads, but there’s overwhelming consensus among economists that the Obama stimulus plan helped mitigate the worst of the slump. For example, when a panel of economic experts was asked whether the U.S. unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been without the stimulus, 82 percent said yes, only two percent said no.

Still, couldn’t the U.S. economy have done a lot better? Of course. The original stimulus should have been both bigger and longer. And after Republicans won the House in 2010, U.S. policy took a sharp turn in the wrong direction. Not only did the stimulus fade out, but sequestration led to further steep cuts in federal spending, exactly the wrong thing to do in a still-depressed economy.

We can argue about how much Obama could have altered this literally depressing turn of events. He could have pushed for a larger, more extended stimulus, perhaps with provisions for extra aid that would have kicked in if unemployment stayed high. (This isn’t 20-20 hindsight, because a number of economists, myself included, pleaded for more aggressive measures from the beginning.) He arguably let Republicans blackmail him over the debt ceiling in 2011, leading to the sequester. But this is all kind of iffy.

The bottom line on Obama’s economic policy should be that what he did helped the economy, and that while enormous economic and human damage has taken place on his watch, the United States coped with the financial crisis better than most countries facing comparable crises have managed. He should have done more and better, but the narrative that portrays his policies as a simple failure is all wrong.

While America remains an incredibly unequal society, and we haven’t seen anything like the New Deal’s efforts to narrow income gaps, Obama has done more to limit inequality than he gets credit for. The rich are paying higher taxes, thanks to the partial expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the special taxes on high incomes that help pay for Obamacare; the Congressional Budget Office estimates the average tax rate of the top one percent at 33.6 percent in 2013, up from 28.1 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, the financial aid in Obamacare – expanded Medicaid, subsidies to help lower-income households pay insurance premiums – goes disproportionately to less-well-off Americans. When conservatives accuse Obama of redistributing income, they’re not completely wrong – and liberals should give him credit.

THE ENVIRONMENT

In 2009, it looked, briefly, as if we might be about to get real on the issue of climate change. A fairly comprehensive bill establishing a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse-gas emissions actually passed the House, and visions of global action danced like sugarplums in environmentalists’ heads. But the legislation stalled in the Senate, and Republican victory in the 2010 midterms put an end to that fantasy. Ever since, the only way forward has been through executive action based on existing legislation, which is a poor substitute for the new laws we need.

But as with financial reform, acknowledging the inadequacy of what has been done doesn’t mean that nothing has been achieved. Saying that Obama has been the best environmental president in a long time is actually faint praise, since George W. Bush was terrible and Bill Clinton didn’t get much done. Still, it’s true, and there’s reason to hope for a lot more over the next two years.

 

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First of all, there has been much more progress on the use of renewable energy than most people realize. The share of U.S. energy provided by wind and solar has grown dramatically since Obama took office. True, it’s still only a small fraction of the total, and some of the growth in renewables reflects technological progress, especially in solar panels, that would have happened whoever was in office. But federal policies, including loan guarantees and tax credits, have played an important role.

Nor is it just about renewables; Obama has also taken big steps on energy conservation, especially via fuel-efficiency standards, that have flown, somewhat mysteriously, under the radar. And it’s not just cars. In 2011, the administration announced the first-ever fuel-efficiency standards for medium and heavy vehicles, and in February it announced that these standards would get even tougher for models sold after 2018. As a way to curb green house-gas emissions, these actions, taken together, are comparable in importance to proposed action on power plants.

Which brings us to the latest initiative. Because there’s no chance of getting climate-change legislation through Congress for the foreseeable future, Obama has turned to the EPA’s existing power to regulate pollution – power that the Supreme Court has affirmed extends to emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. And this past summer, the EPA announced proposed rules that would require a large reduction over time in such emissions from power plants. You might say that such plants are only a piece of the problem, but they’re a large piece – CO2 from coal-burning power plants is in fact a big part of the problem, so if the EPA goes through with anything like the proposed rule, it will be a major step. Again, not nearly enough, and we’ll have to do a lot more soon, or face civilization-threatening disaster. But what Obama has done is far from trivial.

NATIONAL SECURITY

So far, i’ve been talking about Obama’s positive achievements, which have been much bigger than his critics understand. I do, however, need to address one area that has left some early Obama supporters bitterly disappointed: his record on national security policy. Let’s face it – many of his original enthusiasts favored him so strongly over Hillary Clinton because she supported the Iraq War and he didn’t. They hoped he would hold the people who took us to war on false pretenses accountable, that he would transform American foreign policy, and that he would drastically curb the reach of the national security state.

 

None of that happened. Obama’s team, as far as we can tell, never even considered going after the deceptions that took us to Baghdad, perhaps because they believed that this would play very badly at a time of financial crisis. On overall foreign policy, Obama has been essentially a normal post-Vietnam president, reluctant to commit U.S. ground troops and eager to extract them from ongoing commitments, but quite willing to bomb people considered threatening to U.S. interests. And he has defended the prerogatives of the NSA and the surveillance state in general.

Could and should he have been different? The truth is that I have no special expertise here; as an ordinary concerned citizen, I worry about the precedent of allowing what amount to war crimes to go not just unpunished but uninvestigated, even while appreciating that a modern version of the 1970s Church committee hearings on CIA abuses might well have been a political disaster, and undermined the policy achievements I’ve tried to highlight. What I would say is that even if Obama is just an ordinary president on national security issues, that’s a huge improvement over what came before and what we would have had if John McCain or Mitt Romney had won. It’s hard to get excited about a policy of not going to war gratuitously, but it’s a big deal compared with the alternative.

SOCIAL CHANGE

In 2004, social issues, along with national security, were cudgels the right used to bludgeon liberals – I like to say that Bush won re-election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists. Ten years later, and the scene is transformed: Democrats have turned these social issues – especially women’s rights – against Republicans; gay marriage has been widely legalized with approval or at least indifference from the wider public. We have, in a remarkably short stretch of time, become a notably more tolerant, open-minded nation.

Barack Obama has been more a follower than a leader on these issues. But at least he has been willing to follow the country’s new open-mindedness. We shouldn’t take this for granted. Before the Obama presidency, Democrats were in a kind of reflexive cringe on social issues, acting as if the religious right had far more power than it really does and ignoring the growing constituency on the other side. It’s easy to imagine that if someone else had been president these past six years, Democrats would still be cringing as if it were 2004. Thankfully, they aren’t. And the end of the cringe also, I’d argue, helped empower them to seek real change on substantive issues from health reform to the environment. Which brings me back to domestic issues.

As you can see, there’s a theme running through each of the areas of domestic policy I’ve covered. In each case, Obama delivered less than his supporters wanted, less than the country arguably deserved, but more than his current detractors acknowledge. The extent of his partial success ranges from the pretty good to the not-so-bad to the ugly. Health reform looks pretty good, especially in historical perspective – remember, even Social Security, in its original FDR version, only covered around half the workforce. Financial reform is, I’d argue, not so bad – it’s not the second coming of Glass-Steagall, but there’s a lot more protection against runaway finance than anyone except angry Wall Streeters seems to realize. Economic policy wasn’t enough to avoid a very ugly period of high unemployment, but Obama did at least mitigate the worst.

And as far as climate policy goes, there’s reason for hope, but we’ll have to see.

Am I damning with faint praise? Not at all. This is what a successful presidency looks like. No president gets to do everything his supporters expected him to. FDR left behind a reformed nation, but one in which the wealthy retained a lot of power and privilege. On the other side, for all his anti-government rhetoric, Reagan left the core institutions of the New Deal and the Great Society in place. I don’t care about the fact that Obama hasn’t lived up to the golden dreams of 2008, and I care even less about his approval rating. I do care that he has, when all is said and done, achieved a lot. That is, as Joe Biden didn’t quite say, a big deal.

 

Thank you  &  Rolling Stone Magazine

 
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Someone YOU Should Know: Pfc. LaVena Johnson…..Does Black Life Matter?


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I don’t have the words, so I’ll just shut the fuck up and compose this post.

 

Death of LaVena Johnson

 

LaVena Johnson
Born July 27, 1985
Missouri United States Florissant, Missouri, U.S.
Died July 19, 2005(aged 19)
Iraq Balad, Iraq
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Years of service 2003–2005
Rank Army-USA-OR-03.svg Private First Class (PFC)
Awards Army Good Conduct ribbon.svg Army Good Conduct Medal
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal

 

LaVena Lynn Johnson (July 27, 1985 – July 19, 2005) was a Private First Class in the United States Army whose death, officially ruled a suicide, has attracted international attention amid allegations that her death was actually the result of rape and murder.

 

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Biography

The daughter of Dr. John Johnson, a service veteran, and Linda Johnson, Johnson was born and grew up in Florissant, Missouri.

 

The 5’1″ African American honor student enlisted in the Army immediately after graduating from Hazelwood Central High School. She was deployed to Iraq and stationed in Balad. She had been there for eight weeks before her death on July 19, 2005, nine days before her 20th birthday.

 

Death and controversy

Johnson’s death was officially ruled a suicide by the Department of Defense. However, her father became suspicious when he saw her body in the funeral home and decided to investigate. The Army initially refused to release information, but did so under the Freedom of Information Act after Representative William Lacy Clay, Jr. raised questions about it at the congressional hearings over Pat Tillman‘s death.

 

The autopsy report and photographs revealed Johnson had a broken nose, black eye, loose teeth, burns from a corrosive chemical on her genitals, and a gunshot wound that seemed inconsistent with suicide. Several reporters have suspected that the chemical burns were to destroy DNA evidence of a rape.

 

A spokesman from the House Armed Services Committee said in June 2008 that the committee was looking into Johnson’s death, but they were not yet committing to a formal investigation. Christopher Grey, chief of public affairs for the U.S. Criminal Investigative Command for the Army has said that the case remains closed as far as they are concerned.

 

Following a February 2007 KMOV news report on Johnson’s death, an online petition addressed to the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee was launched. This was followed by the creation of an official LaVena Johnson website dedicated to developments in prompting a new Army investigation of her death. The petition closed on May 24, 2008 with nearly 12,000 signatures; preparations are being made for delivery to the two committees. In July 2008, the online black activist group Color of Change launched another online petition calling on Henry Waxman, chair of the House Oversight Committee, to conduct a hearing into LaVena Johnson’s death and the Army’s handling of her case and others like it.

 

A documentary film about LaVena Johnson’s family struggle for justice was made in 2010, directed by Joan Brooker and titled LaVena Johnson: The Silent Truth.

 

On July 19, 2011, the criminal justice students in the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute (CCIRI) run as a student club by three universities, selected Johnson’s case, as their case for investigation. The CCIRI’s crime scene reconstruction will help shed light on this case that has attracted worldwide attention.

 

The Silent Truth (Trailer)

 

Published on Jul 1, 2014

Murder or Suicide? On a military base in Iraq, PFC LaVena Johnson is found dead, shot in the head. The Army rules it a suicide,her family believes it is murder. “The Silent Truth” follows the Johnson’s pursuit of truth and justice for their daughter.

 

 

 

The Silent Truth - LaVena Johnson

 

Is there an army cover up of the rape and murder of women soldiers?

 

Ninety-four United States military women have died in Iraq or during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).  Of these deaths some twenty occurred under extremely suspicious circumstances; defined by the Army and the Department of Defense as ‘non-combat related injuries,’ with the additional characterization of ‘suicide’.

 

‘The Silent Truth’, tells the story of nineteen year-old U. S. Army Private LaVena Johnson, who was found dead on the military base in Balad, Iraq in July, 2005, her death determined by the US Army to be suicide by a self-inflicted M-16 gun shot.  Through interviews with Ms. Johnson’s parents, Dr. John and Linda Johnson, this documentary tells the story of the family’s struggle to find the truth surrounding LaVena’s death, and their continued pursuit of justice for their daughter.  As Dr. Johnson explains it — from the day his daughter’s body was returned to him, he had grave suspicions about the Army’s characterization of her death as suicide.

 

He says that while viewing his daughter’s body at the funeral home, he developed concerns about the bruising on her face. He was also puzzled by the discrepancy in the autopsy report regarding the location of the gunshot wound.  Dr. Johnson, a U. S.  Army veteran and a twenty-five year U. S. Army civilian employee who had counseled veterans, was mystified about how the exit wound of an M-16 shot could be so small. The hole in LaVena’s head appeared to be more the size of a pistol shot rather than an M-16 round. He questioned why the exit hole was on the left side of her head, when she was right handed. But the fact that military uniform white gloves were glued onto LaVena’s hands, hiding third degree burns, is what deepened Dr. Johnson’s suspicion that the Army’s investigation into the death of his daughter was flawed.

 

As the documentary will show, over the next two and one-half years, Dr. and Mrs. Johnson and their family and friends, through the Freedom of Information Act and Congressional offices, relentlessly requested that the Department of the Army supply them with all documents concerning LaVena’s death. With each response of the Army to their demands, another piece of information/evidence about LaVena’s death emerged.

 

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Most shocking, was a CD Dr. Johnson received of photographs taken by Army investigators of his daughter’s body as it lay where it had been found, as well as other photographs of her disrobed body taken just prior to the autopsy.

 

These photographs reveal that LaVena, a small woman, barely 5 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, had been brutally beaten. The photographs of her disrobed body showed bruises, scratch marks and teeth imprints on the upper part of her torso. The right side of her back as well as her right hand had been burned and there was clear evidence of sexual assault.

 

As the Johnsons explain in our interviews, despite the bruises, scratches, teeth imprints and burns on her body, Lavena was found completely dressed in a burning contractor’s tent. There was a blood trail outside the tent.  She apparently had been dressed after the attack and her body moved into the tent and set it on fire.

 

On April 9, 2008, Dr. John Johnson and his wife, Linda, flew from their home in St. Louis for meetings with U.S. Congress members and their staffs, requesting that the Army reopen LaVena’s case.  There they met with Representative Clay from Missouri, his staff, and representatives from the Army’s investigative unit.  The Army maintained its position throughout the dialogue and had no answers for the Johnsons when contradictions in the evidence were pointed out.  They steadfastly insisted that LaVena had shot herself.

 

Today the Johnsons are continuing the fight to have their daughter’s case reopened by the Army and are still requesting a congressional hearing into the obvious cover-up.  As filmmakers we are following this renewed effort, and have initiated our own meetings with Congressional members of both the Armed Services Committee and the Oversight Committee.

 

Interviews with our Military Consultant, (Ret.) Colonel Ann Wright will also be included in the film. Colonel Wright will provide an overview of sexual abuse of women troops in the military, its alarming increase, and describe several other suspicious ‘suicides’, that have yet to be resolved.

 

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KILLED IN IRAQ: PFC LAVENA JOHNSON: MAY HER DEATH NOT BE IN VAIN; ONLINE PETITION STRIKES A CHORD WITH BAISDEN

 

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By D. Morton Glover, www.bmorenews.com

 

(FLORISSANT, MISSOURI – February 17, 2014) – Have you heard of the case of Private First Class LaVena Johnson?

 

Born July 27, 1985, Private First Class LaVena L. Johnson died in Iraq on July 19, 2005. The US military said that it was suicide. Others doubt it. Others believe she was brutally beaten, raped, mutilated and murdered in Balad by her own fellow soldiers. Needless to say, her family does not believe it is an isolated incident … at all.

 

LaQuay Juel recently shared news about the case … and its status. He created an online FaceBook page (LaVena Johnson Petition). It has since picked up lots of support.

 

The Johnson Family Story

 

Published on Jul 14, 2012

Nineteen year-old Army PFC LaVena Johnson, was found dead on a military base in Balad, Iraq in 2005. The U.S. Army ruled Lavena’s death a suicide, but an autopsy report and photographs revealed Johnson had a broken nose, black eye, loose teeth, burns from a corrosive chemical on her genitals, and a gunshot wound that seemed inconsistent with suicide. LaVena’s father, John Johnson, shares his family’s fight to get answers from the military about his daughter’s death.

 

LaVena’s story is the eighth mini-documentary that Protect Our Defenders has produced about military sexual trauma. http://www.protectourdefenders.com

 

Protect Our Defenders Foundation is a human rights organization. We honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been raped or sexually assaulted by fellow service members. We seek to fix the military training, investigation and adjudication systems for sexual harassment, assault and rape –systems which often re-victimize assault survivors by blaming them and failing to prosecute perpetrators. http://www.protectourdefenders.com

 

 

 

 ProtectOurDefenders

 

 

The Epidemic of Military Rape

 

 

 

Panayiota’s Story

 

 

 

Darchelle’s Story

 

 

Rebecca’s Story

 

 

 

Who Killed PFC LaVena Johnson???

 

 

 

Michael’s Story

 

 

 

Jenny’s Story

 

 

 

Heath’s Story

 

 

 

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Justice for Pfc. LaVena Johnson?

 

By 

 

PFC LaVena Johnson


It’s not easy to shock me anymore, but during a recent a conversation with a former female Marine about military rape, I received the shock of my life when she adamantly stated: “Military rapes are few and far between, and most of these bitches are filing false charges.”

 

Whoa. It’s not that I don’t believe false charges are sometimes levied. But to say that rapes are few and far between demonstrates the deep-seated denial currently in place. As her words sank in, I suddenly felt my face grow hot, and the distinct image of Pfc. LaVena Johnson’s raped and bloodied body surfaced in my mind.

 

Pfc. Johnson had been in Iraq for six weeks when her dead body was found inside of her tent in July 2005. The autopsy report received by the family from Army CID raised more questions than answers, so her parents, Dr. John Johnson and his wife Linda requested photographs of the death scene. Their suspicions were confirmed when the photos revealed severe injuries such as a broken nose, blackened eye, loose teeth, burns from a corrosive chemical on her genitals, and a gunshot wound to the head. Despite the strange array of injuries, the Army has remained steadfast in its determination that Johnson committed suicide.

 

Since that time, the Johnson’s have attempted to move heaven and earth to get her death reinvestigated by the Army. When that didn’t work, they put together their own team of experts. And guess what? It is their opinion that before Pfc. Johnson was murdered, she was raped.

 

I’ve known about PFC Johnson’s case for a long time. When I started the organizationMilitary Families for Justice along with retired Lt. Colonel Tracy Shue, widow of Colonel Philip Shue USAF, and Kimberly Stahlman, widow of Colonel Michael Stahlman USMC, LaVena’s was the first case we featured on our website. Over the years, we have witnessed people turn a blind-eye to the story. So much so, that we’ve often wondered if LaVena’s case would be taken seriously if she were not African-American.

 

We talk about it often, and every time, the conversation inevitably turns to the movie adaptation of John Grisham’s book, A Time to Kill. If you’ve never seen the movie, a black man kills the white men who raped his little girl. There is a scene when the defense attorney, portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, is giving his closing argument and asks the jury to close their eyes while he describes the brutal rape of his clients little girl. As he guides their imaginations through the horrific, prolonged attack, quiet tears start rolling down their faces. He repeatedly asks “Can you see her?” And just about the time their minds are fully immersed in the raw brutality of what happened to this young black girl, he abruptly switches tactics and tells them to “imagine she is white.” This leaves the all-white jury aghast and shocked; emotions they had not expressed when imagining the victim as black. In their minds, it had not been quite as horrible while they pictured a little black girl being raped and beaten.

 

Despite a considerable amount of media coverage, including a LA Times article by investigative reporter David Zucchino, the Johnson’s have not received even a modicum of justice in LaVena’s death and I cannot understand why. What’s the harm in reopening the investigation? Is it really because — dare I say — LaVena is black? The Johnson’s have never played the race card in their quest. But I am willing to pull that card. I can’t help but wonder if the military investigators and politicians in Washington D.C. would be so blind if she had white skin, blond hair and blue eyes. I suppose this is a question best left to them and their conscious.

 

Recently, there has been some rumblings of hope as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation to improve the military justice system for rape victims. The problem with this initiative is that it only helps those who are alive and able to speak for themselves. While this could be triumphant for sexual assault victims, it does nothing for alleged victims like LaVena. And how could it? As far as the military system of justice is concerned, LaVena killed herself, and since her family has no independent unbiased forum in which to have their own evidence judged that’s the way it will remain.

 

The answer to this problem may lie in The Bill of Rights for Bereaved Military Families. It’s an idea Military Families for Justice has been trying to get introduced to Congress. If adopted, it would provide the independent forum families like the Johnson’s need. The concept of giving rights to military families is not new; the United Kingdom already has something very similar in place under its Military Covenant that extends to a service members family, allowing them to speak for the deceased. So why can’t the United States do this? The point is not to prove the military right or wrong, its purpose is simply to seek the truth, whatever that may be. We have made many calls to both Senator Gillibrand as well as her co-sponsor Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). A representative from Collins’ office did show genuine interest in the idea and as of this writing we are waiting for their next call. Time will tell.

 

In the meantime, the dignified determination of the Johnson family soldiers on. Sometimes I wonder how they keep from mentally snapping just like the fictional father in Grisham’s story, but they remain dauntless. An example of their courage is visible in the 2010 Midtown Films documentary The Silent Truth. The film deals with the subject of military rape and how it has been swept under the rug for too long. It also reveals the trauma a family endures by simply asking for logical proof. In the film, I was awestruck by Dr. Johnson’s fierce love for his daughter as he delivered a warning to the military:

 

My daughter was beaten, raped, murdered, set on fire and then tried to burn her tent down with her body in it; and your evidence says that. So it will be a cold day in hell before I stop, and I mean that with all my heart.

It is an assault on the very fabric of our nation to ignore the pain, injustice and pleas for help from members of our Armed Services and their families. If you don’t believe these tragedies are occurring, open your eyes and look at LaVena.

 

Pfc.LaVena Johnson -The Silent Truth

 

 

I just do not have the comprehension how this could ever be ruled a suicide. Do YOU? I am saddened and ashamed that I have never heard this tragic story until right this moment. What does that say about the AmeriKKKan system of justice. More puzzling and shocking is this….what does it say about the AmeriKKKan system of media reporting. Would I have seen this on AmeriKKKan news outlets if Pfc.LaVena Johnson had been blonde haired and blue eyed?

 

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Sometimes: “Just An Image Says It All™”


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