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When Did The GOP Become The Unpatriotic Party?

Posted by DownWithTyranny on June 4th, 2014

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

I just started reading Rick Pearlstein’s new book, The Invisible Bridge: That Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan. In the first chapter, he talks about who “America the Innocent” is “always searching for totems of a unity it can never quite achieve– even, or even especially, when its crises of disunity are most pressing: it is one of the structuring stories of our nation.” This leads to a look at the national orgy of self-congratulatory ecstasy and patriotic spectacle over “Operation Homecoming,” the release of the last American prisoners of war held in Vietnam.

One of the most quoted returning warriors was a colonel who noted all the signs reading “We Love You.” “In a deeper sense,” he said, “I think what people are saying is ‘We Love America.’” Another announced the greatest Vietnam miracle of all: that the POWs had won the Vietnam War. “I want you to remember that we walked out of Hanoi as winners. We are not coming home with our tails between our legs. We returned with honor.”

Pearlstein documents this kind of insipid glop for a few pages and then mentions that not all Americans were buying in. Long before an Australian neo-fascist ideologue and billionaire turned the New York Post into a crude scandal rag and an integral part of the Republican Party echo chamber, it was a respected liberal daily. Columnist Pete Hamill “pointed out that the vast majority of the prisoners were bomber pilots, and thus were ‘prisoners because they had committed unlawful acts’– killing civilians in an undeclared war.”

My natural instinct about the release of POW Bowe Bergdahl was to be happy for him and his family and to wonder if the U.S. had implanted tracking devices in the bodies of the 5 Taliban prisoners they had exchanged for him. I wondered if we’d ever find out. And then the Hate America Brigade at Fox News and the Republican Party went to work muddying the waters. Towards the end of the video above, from Maddow’s Monday show, there is the broader question Fox and the GOP don’t want to deal with: why can’t Obama just use the same powers he used to make the exchange to finally shut down the American gulag in Cuba? Fox News and Jason Chavitz may not want to deal with it, but Jason Leopold sure did.

Cori Crider, the strategic director for Reprieve, a U.K.-based human rights charity, said Monday that the transfer of the five inmates in exchange for P.O.W. Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. Army soldier, underscores that President Obama can move quickly to shutter Guantanamo if he has the political will to act.

“Many of these are being force-fed daily in a disgusting manner because they have been cleared so long they believe they will die in Gitmo,” Crider said. “Yet they could leave tomorrow with a stroke of Obama’s pen. Let’s hope this deal is a sign of more leadership from President Obama on letting the cleared men go home, too.”

When Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last December lawmakers gave Obama much more flexibility to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo than they had in previous versions of the spending bill. The bill calls on the Secretary of Defense to notify Congress 30 days in advance of any transfer and outline the steps the administration has taken to ensure the detainee is not engaging in terrorist activities against the United States.

…It appears that Obama may have acted on the authority claimed from Congress in his signing statement when he turned over the five long-term detainees to the custody of Qatar.

…[White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin] Hayden also said the administration is “making progress on a number of additional promising opportunities” to hasten the closure of Guantanamo, consistent with a promise Obama made after he was sworn into office. She said 17 prisoners have been transferred since Obama gave a major counterterrorism speech in May 2013. While Hayden noted that Obama lifted the moratorium on the transfer of Yemeni detainees none have been repatriated. However, she said the administration is “now reviewing Yemeni detainees on a case-by-case basis.”

That said, don’t expect any parades for Bowe Bergdahl any time soon. Obama, in Warsaw Tuesday: “The United States has always had a pretty sacred rule, and that is: we don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind. Regardless of the circumstances, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop.” Are Republican politicians and the Fox Nation still part of that “we?” Not from what I’ve been able to see in the last few years since the American people had the temerity to elect (and reelect) a person of color to the White House, something the Republicans will never forgive them for.

UPDATE: Wins For Bonnie Watson Coleman & Pat Murphy

Blue America celebrated a huge victory tonight for progressive champion Bonnie Watson Coleman in NJ-12. AP called her 4-way race a few hours after the polls closed. With 99% of precincts reporting, Bonnie had 15,121 votes (43%) to Linda Greenstein’s 9,974 (28%). Bonnie, who was also endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, will be replacing Rush Holt in Congress if she beats Republican Alieta Eck in November. If you’d like to help make sure she does, please consider contributing to her campaign here.

In Iowa’s open first congressional district, Blue America-endorsed Pat Murphy lasso won. AP just called the race for him. Right now, with 98% of precincts counted, Pat has 37% in the 5-person race. His closest competitor, Monica Vernon was polling 24%. Pat needs to score 35% to avoid a nominating convention.

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