“That Was Our Policy,” Dick Said

“In war, truth is the first casualty.”

Aeschylus

sick to his Obama-hating core, Dick Cheney and his intellectual clone, daughter Liz, wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal (“The Collapsing Obama Doctrine”) that featured this not-meant-to-be-ironic line:

Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many. 

In his final press briefing before leaving the Administration, Jay Carney was asked about that comment and replied,

Which president was he talking about?

But Harry Reid did one better. Today on the Senate floor he said:

If there’s one thing this country does not need, is that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars. Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history. To the architects of the Iraq War who are now so eager to offer their expert analysis, I say…thanks, but no thanks. Unfortunately, we have already tried it your way and it was the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of the country.

Now, it is common for those who championed the Iraq war to dismiss critics like Reid by rubbing in their faces that infamous vote in 2002 to go to war. Harry Reid, along with 28 other Senate Democrats including Hillary Clinton, did indeed vote in favor of authorizing military action against Iraq. But unlike Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primary, Reid isn’t afraid to say he was wrong. Today he told Sam Stein:

“Do you know how I feel about that?” Reid asked during a sit-down interview in his office with The Huffington Post. “I’m sure this is no big surprise,” he said, pausing for ten seconds before continuing in a muted voice: “What a mistake.”

“I should never have voted for that,” Reid went on. “But I accepted what [former Secretary of State] Colin Powell and the others said. But it took me just a matter of a few months to realize it was a bad mistake, and my record speaks for itself. I’ve spoken out against what was going on, not once, not twice, but lots of times. And I’m sorry that I was misled, but I was, and it was a mistake for me to vote for that war.”

Mistake, indeed. Heck, even sellevangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson gets it now. So does the survivalist-baiter and gold-seller and slanderer Glenn Beck. But that Cheney-Cheney editorial never mentioned anything about pre-war mistakes, only alleged post-war ones. The Cheneys said not a word about misleading intelligence reports or faulty evidence. They did say, though, something that deserves more scrutiny:

When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge. Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

Leave aside that part about al Qaeda being largely defeated. Until our invasion of Iraq, there was no al Qaeda in Iraq to defeat. They came there to fight us. But did Obama abandon Iraq? You hear that all the time from those who want desperately for Obama to validate their monumental mistakes by continuing them, by keeping, I guess forever, American troops in a hostile environment like Iraq.

But I want to take you back to 2010, when a happier Dick Cheney, if there is such a creature, was basking in his Iraq “victory.” On ABC’s This Week, Jonathan Karl asked Cheney about Joe Biden’s foolish remarks in 2010 regarding how Iraq “could be one of the great achievements of this administration,” and Biden’s wise remarks about how “the war in Iraq was not worth it”:

CHENEY: I believe very deeply in the proposition that what we did in Iraq was the right thing to do. It was hard to do. It took a long time. There were significant costs involved.

But we got rid of one of the worst dictators of the 20th century. We took down his government, a man who’d produced and used weapons of mass destruction, a man who’d started two different wars, a man who had a relationship with terror. We’re going to have a democracy in Iraq today. We do today. They’re going to have another free election this March.

This has been an enormous achievement from the standpoint of peace and stability in the Middle East and ending a threat to the United States. Now, as I say, Joe Biden doesn’t believe that. Joe Biden wants to take credit — I’m not sure for what — since he opposed that policy pretty much from the outset.

KARL: I think what he wants to take credit for is taking resources out of Iraq, the fact…

CHENEY: That’s being done in accordance with a timetable that we initiated, that we  that we negotiated with  with the Iraqis. I mean, that was our policy.

Yes, that’s right. It was their policy. That was about the only thing Cheney got right in that exchange. Pulling out the way we did in 2011 was their policy. But now that things don’t look so good, it is suddenly Obama who “abandoned Iraq.” Horseshit. Just how long were we supposed to leave our troops there? A hundred years? A thousand?

I want to cite a right-winger (and senior staffer under Bush-Cheney) who said “George W. Bush warned that if America withdrew from Iraq, American troops would eventually have to return.” Yeah, well, he’s right. Bush did warn us about “withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready.” The problem is that Bush said that in 2007. And we stayed until 2011. And we left then because Bush, presumably because his commanders told him we would be ready, signed in 2008 the Status of Forces Agreement that Obama followed. Only in the strange brains of conservatives, most of whom were wrong about Iraq from Day One, can all of this mess be Obama’s fault.

But the Cheneys have a profound hatred for the President. Predictably, their tribute to family delusions that The Wall Street Journal eagerly published, came with this:

…President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch.

And to end their hit piece, the Cheneys wrote:

President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom.

That is what it has come down to, ever since Barack Obama dared sit his pigmented posterior on the Bush-Cheney-stained furniture in the White’s House. Obama means to do the country harm. He is, as Liz Cheney said last year, “working to pre-emptively disarm the United States.”

Whenever I hear talk like that, I regret that the newly inaugurated President Obama didn’t start his first term by ordering his attorney general to investigate Liz Cheney’s dad for possible war crimes. That would have been one way that Obama could have proven to all Americans that rather than desiring to take America down a notch, his intention was to elevate our moral standing.

 cheney behind bars

Let’s All Drink To Ozark Billy! He’s Made The Big Time!

What does a resident of Southwest Missouri and a Las Vegas gazillionaire have in common?

Billy Long.

Congressman Long, far from the Ozark hills he sort of calls home, will serve as master of ceremonies and will be introducing Dick Cheney at gazillionaire $heldon Adelson’s $uck-up-a-thon in Las Vegas this weekend. In what many are calling the “Adelson primary,” several GOP presidential hopefuls are prostrating themselves before Adelson, a major GOP donor, hoping against hope that they will get his very important vote and subsequently stuff their campaign pockets full of casino cash. (The overtly Jewish* Adelson reportedly “earns” $32 million each and every day from his gambling empire. Praise God).

billy long poker2Speaking of gambling, we all know Ozark Billy, the “citizen legislator” from Springfield, Mo., is fond of the poker tables in Las Vegas and elsewhere. And, of course, part of the Adelson suck-up-a-thon festivities are, uh, poker tournaments! Congratulations, Billy! You’ve died and gone to heaven!

In case any of you low-dollar locals want to celebrate with your congressman, well, don’t bother looking into it. As Time reported:

Most of the action will be taking place behind closed doors, as the speakers meet with Adelson and other top-tier donors privately.

As thousands of Southwest Missourians relax at home this coming weekend, many of them after putting in grueling hours at low-paying jobs and many of them enthusiastic Billy Long voters, may they rest peacefully knowing their family-values congressman is hard at work playing poker, drinking, and rubbing bellies with $heldon Adelson and Dick Cheney, much of the fun on donors’ dollars I’m guessing.

Life is good, if your name is Billy Long and if you have convinced a bunch of working stiffs from the Ozarks to vote Republican.

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adelson* The event is officially a leadership conference of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which describes itself as “the voice for Jewish Republicans” and “the most trusted and sought-out Jewish advisor to Republican leaders.” Sheldon Adelson is on the Board of Directors.

Remarks And Asides

I liked President Obama much more when he wasn’t dining with Republicans.

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Apparently, so did a lot of Americans:

Obama’s Approval Rating Now Underwater, Poll Shows

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Mitch McConnell, fresh off the revelation that he is more of a scoundrel than we otherwise thought, nevertheless managed to expose the mainstream press, which rather than focus on McConnell’s willingness to tolerate the trashing of Ashley Judd as “emotionally unbalanced,” instead focused on his call for an FBI investigation into the alleged illegal recording that revealed his sliminess.

And that is how miscreants like Mitch McConnell stay in power.

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Conservatives are attacking Obama for hurting old folks. Liberals are attacking Obama for hurting old folks. So, why is Obama hurting old folks?

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Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, whom President Obama considers a “friend” and who gets much credit for not being a nutty Republican, nevertheless called the emasculated agreement on background checks for gun purchases, worked out by Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Pat Toomey under the watchful eye of the NRA, “a government takeover of gun shows.”

Let’s get this straight: There are Republicans who don’t want the government sticking its nose in the gun business, but insist on the government sticking its nose in vaginas all over the country.

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Senator Rand Paul, Tea Party Wonder Boy at the moment, went to the historically black college, Howard University, on Wednesday and told those gathered that the Republican Party hasn’t changed a lick since, oh, Frederick Douglass was a baby, or something like that.

For his next stand-up comedy routine, Paul will team up with  Alaska congressman Don Young and tour central California and explain to the immigrant workers why “wetback” is a term of endearment and it really shows how Republicans are, and always have been, the party of immigration reform.

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And speaking of keeping the GOP up to date, Congressman Joe Barton, naturally from Texas, said not to worry about climate change, since the Almighty’s got everything under control and always has:

I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.

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Speaking of brilliant Republicans, Dick Cheney told Republican lawmakers that “We’re in deep doo doo” with North Korea making all those threats and that because of his personal experience of misreading the mind of Saddam Hussein, “you never know what they’re thinking.”

What brilliance, what stupefying brilliance.

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Speaking of Dick’s stupefying brilliance, it didn’t take a Dick to figure this out:

Penis Size Study Shows Women Find Men With Big Genitals More Attractive 

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Speaking of weiners, some of them have eyes but still can’t see:

Anthony Weiner Is Eyeing A Return To Politics

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Ann Coulter, a skinny version of Rush Limbaugh, “joked” about murdering Meghan McCain, John’s daughter, and all that will happen to Ann Coulter is that conservatives will buy more of her books.

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The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, which hands out awards— “Jefferson Muzzles”— to deserving anti-free speech advocates, handed an award to one of Missouri’s bright-light state legislators, Mike Leara:

There are some…who believe that merely proposing a law that restricts gun rights should be a criminal act. Earlier this year, Missouri State Representative Mike Leara proposed a bill that provides “[a]ny member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.”

Congratulations, Mike! And wear your muzzle proudly!

Remarks And Asides

TV evangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson has declared he is done with endorsing candidates: 

I’ve personally backed off from direct political involvement. I’ve been there, done that. The truth of the matter is politics is not going to change our world. It’s really not going to make that much of a difference.

Now, if only he will tell GOP Jesus that. The Man Upstairs has got at least three Republican candidates in the race.

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In response to an assertion from Dick and/or Liz Cheney that President Obama “slandered the nation,” and that he “owes an apology to the American people” for daring to criticize the Bush torture policy while subsequently following Bush-like counterterrorism strategy, John McCain said the following:

It is very obvious that one of the great recruitment tools that our enemy has is the fact that we tortured people, which is not in keeping with the standards of the treatment of prisoners. We never got useful information as a result of torture, but we sure got a lot of angry citizens around the world, and deservedly so.

Deservedly so.” Imagine, if you can, what would have happened if President Obama had said “citizens around the world” were “deservedly” angry at us for torturing prisoners. 

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Speaking of Obama’s imitation of the Bush-Cheney strategy on terrorism, Joshua Hersh at HuffPo reminded us of this quote from the 2008 version of Mitt Romney:

Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the War on Terror. They would retreat and declare defeat. And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like child’s play. About this, I have no doubt.

He had no doubt.  He had no doubt that “Barack and Hillary” “would retreat and declare defeat.” Someone should tell that to Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki and many others because they do have serious doubts whether Barack and Hillary would retreat and declare defeat.

Of course if you want to tell them you will have to call long-distance.

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In light of the Wall Street protests in New York and elsewhere, someone at HuffPo pulled this remarkable quote from an old George Carlin routine (I’ve changed the profanity to protect the innocent):

You know something? [Wall Street] will get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later, ’cause they own this (bleepin’) place. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club. … The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged. And nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. Good, honest hard working people … continue to elect these rich (bleepbleepers) who don’t give a (bleep) about them.

Bleepin’ A.

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Finally, take this all you Obama-hating, Warren Buffett-loathing Reagan worshippers:

Remarks And Asides

Senator Roy Blunt is now on record as favoring the death of Medicare. Perhaps voters won’t remember that vote by the time 2016 comes around.  I know I’ll do my part to help voters forget.

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I watched MSNBC’s Ed Schultz humbly and unequivocally apologize last night for calling the insufferable Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” on his radio show the previous day.  He directly apologized to Ms. Ingraham, as well as MSNBC and others affected. Schultz took himself off the air, unpaid.

Can anyone imagine Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck—people Schultz is often compared to—making such an apology?

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As a sure sign he wants to be a Republican presidential candidate someday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is pulling his state out of a 10-state regional greenhouse gas reduction program by the end of this year. He can now check that one off his “Get Right With GOP Jesus Checklist.” Let me see: Anti-choice? Check. Anti-gay marriage? Check. Anti-union? Check. Anti-gun laws? Uh-oh. More work to do on that one.

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Speaking of GOP Jesus, there seems to be some confusion as to just who is occupying that role at the moment. Dick Cheney told the Houston Chronicle,

I worship the ground the [sic] Paul Ryan walks on.

I suppose it’s only right that Cheney has booted Jesus out of the leadership, since it’s Ryan who is now hanging on the cross of Republican politics.

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There is hope for Southwest Missouri now that the race in NY-26 is over.  Like in this neck of the Ozark woods, the 26th district in New York is incorrigibly red and has put few Democrats in that seat over the last century—it was Jack Kemp’s seat for God’s sake.  But times are changing, and it’s just possible to put up a real Southwest Missouri Democrat in 2012—someone who will fight to protect our social safety net—and have at least a fighting chance against a candidate—Colonel Billy Long—who in every way supports the radical Republican agenda.

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A judge in Wisconsin has struck down the anti-collective bargaining scheme passed shamelessly by Republicans in that state, who, the judge ruled, violated that state’s open meeting law.  Expecting, though, that Republicans will simply pass the law again, a spokesman for We Are Wisconsin, a pro-union group, said that Republicans,

have one last chance to abandon Walker’s rapidly-sinking ship or be held to account in the upcoming elections.

Well, they won’t abandon the ship.  It’s clear that around the country Republicans believe this is do-or-die for reactionary conservatism, and Democrats had better be up to the challenge.  A lot is at stake.

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I heard Newt Gingrich address the flap over his gigantic Tiffany & Co. charge account by saying that he and his wife are “very frugal.”  Look, I believe him.  Who has extra money to spend on high-dollar jewelry with so many buffets out there waiting to be conquered?

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Speaking of Georgia congressmen, a freshman Republican congressman from Georgia lectured one of his constituents on personal responsibility—”You want the government to take care of you“—and then proceeded to say that the reason he accepted his government-subsidized health care is “because it’s free.”

Look, the way Republicans are opening themselves up politically by saying and doing dumb stuff like this, one would think they have a guilt complex and want to lose in 2012, as a sort of penance for their wrong-doing. 

I, for one, pledge to help them all get right with God.

Why Obama Is Not A Lefty

I expect right-wing media in this country to say ridiculous things about Barack Obama, like, say, he is a communist, a socialist, or just an average leftist who is way out of touch with “mainstream” America.  On the adult-less right, anyone slightly left of Rush Limbaugh is a muddle-headed moderate, a leftist sympathizer, or worse.

But one even hears such talk among those who are not committed reactionaries.  On Morning Joe, for instance, it is a given among many of the regular guests that Obama has governed from the far left and voters smacked him down this November for doing so.

Uh, well, no.  He has not only not governed from the far left, a good case can be made that he has, in so many ways, governed from either the center-right, or, sad to say, the right-right.

Here are some examples of Obama’s often-conservative governance:

Health Insurance Reform

Obama’s signature accomplishment to date is health insurance reform, the Affordable Care Act.  He is proud of that achievement, as all Democrats should be, since it cost them a lot to get it passed.  And Republicans say they are committed to repealing it and replacing it with God only knows what.  In fact, tea partiers absolutely hate it and give it as an example of Obama’s fondness for socialism.

Except that it’s not. It’s not even close.

I heard today that the health insurance companies, normally fond of Republican enthusiasm for exclusively protecting corporate interests, are lining up to urge Republicans to slow down in their efforts to repeal health insurance reform.  From NPR:

“No one has said what this bill would be replaced with,” said Richard Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “But doing away with this would certainly be the wrong thing. … People have been gearing up for some time, well before this actual bill got passed, to make these changes locally, and have invested a lot.”

The truth is that the Affordable Care Act may have helped save the private insurance company from the profit-killing effects of a growing number of uninsured Americans.  According to Jonathan Oberlander at the University of North Carolina:

“Usually we think of the health industry as being in alliance with Republicans and opposing more government intervention in the health care system,” Oberlander says. But you have to ask why did the industry support the health reform law in the first place?”

He says the reason is that the more people there were without health insurance, the more that threatened the industry financially. In other words, its entire business model was about to fall apart.

So, we can conclude that the new health care law, with its insurance mandate that will drive many new customers into the arms of the private insurance industry, is far from being a left-wing dream.  And besides all that, the basic structure of the Affordable Care Act is very similar to what Republican Mitt Romney approved of when he was governor of Massachusetts.  In fact, it is more conservative than RomneyCare, as Jonathan Chait points out.

And largely forgotten is the health care overhaul legislation offered by Republicans in 1993 in response to Clinton’s attempt to reform the system.  It has striking similarities to what eventually passed this year.  For a comparison, go here and look for yourself.

There’s simply no way the new health insurance reform law can be interpreted as a move to the far left.  Sorry.  But, then, I don’t expect members of the media, especially on sound bite political shows, to mention that very often.

The War in Afghanistan

Obama has tripled the number of troops in Afghanistan and has exponentially increased the number of drone strikes in Pakistan.  He has, essentially one-upped the Bush administration, so much so, that as Politico points out, Mr. Bush had good things to say about Obama’s strategy:

“I strongly believe the mission is worth the cost,” Bush wrote in “Decision Points,” which comes out Tuesday. “Fortunately, I am not the only one.”

He expresses gratitude that Obama “stood up to critics by deploying more troops, announcing a new commitment to counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, and increasing the pressure on Pakistan to fight the extremists in the tribal areas.”

Again, sorry pundits.  Obama’s war policy is Dick Cheney on steroids.

Financial Reform

Other than health care reform, there isn’t anything the left-wing of the Democratic Party has been more upset about than the financial reform legislation passed this year.  The left claims the law won’t do much to stop the practice of using “too big to fail” as an excuse for bailing out Wall Street gamblers.  In this, they have common agreement with many tea partiers. 

Even an admittedly liberal bright spot in the reform law—the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—has received criticism because President Obama refused to fight to install Elizabeth Warren—a hero on the left—as its head.  They fear that without her in charge, the “Banksters” will have their way with Obama’s rather conservative Treasury Department.

So, even financial reform turns out to be a frustratingly moderate approach to reigning in an out-of-control financial industry.

The Stimulus Plan and Lower Taxes

The New York Times reported recently:

In a New York Times/CBS News Poll last month, fewer than one in 10 respondents knew that the Obama administration had lowered taxes for most Americans. Half of those polled said they thought that their taxes had stayed the same, a third thought that their taxes had gone up, and about a tenth said they did not know. As Thom Tillis, a Republican state representative, put it as the dinner wound down here, “This was the tax cut that fell in the woods — nobody heard it.”

The tax cut nobody heard of was in the Recovery Act stimulus plan passed by—and only by—Democrats.  It was a $787 billion bill (CBO now estimates it will cost $814 billion). Of that total some $275 billion (now projected at $290 billion) was for tax cuts for 95% of Americans. Get that?  Tax cuts.  For cutting taxes. You know, those things Republicans believe are major stimulants of economic growth, at least when Republican propose them.  When Democrats propose them, they somehow fail to stimulate growth, but that’s another subject.

Tax cuts comprised about 36% of the Recovery Act stimulus plan and it received ZERO Republican votes.

Now, it is widely known that President Obama and the Democrats took the approach of including such massive tax cuts in the stimulus bill—despite there being arguably better ways to spend the money—in order to get bipartisan support.  In other words, they made the bill much more conservative—and thus less effective—than it needed to be, since Republicans didn’t support it anyway.  Most people on the left believe the bill was too small and wrongly designed to appeal to Obama-must-fail Republicans. 

So, we can conclude that much of the stimulus package represented essentially Republican tax-cutting ideas, hardly part of any leftist agenda I’ve ever heard of.

The GM Revival

Remember last year when the right-wing told us that Obama was fulfilling his desire to socialize America by stepping in to save General Motors?  Never mind that the GM bailout begun under Bush.  And never mind that Congressional Republicans had no problems bailing out bankers.  It was just union workers they had a problem helping.  As John McCain said, the GM-Chrysler bailout, “was all about the unions.”  Except that the unions were forced to sacrifice, too. 

And in the end, yesterday’s IPO, the second largest in history, saw Obama’s socialist stake in GM drop from 61% to around 33%.  Damn! I bet he’s pissed about that:

We are finally beginning to see some of these tough decisions that we made in the midst of crisis begin to pay off.

Okay, so he’s not pissed.  Why not?  Why isn’t he furious that he doesn’t actually control GM anymore?  Because he’s not a bleeping socialist, that’s why.

Anyway, leave it to the Wall Street Journal to put in perspective the GM comeback and the government’s role in it:

The most important step may have been the government’s efforts to stock GM with a new management team, to shake up its corporate culture and refocus the company on making money.

Making money?  Obama wanted GM to make money?  Huh?  What kind of left-winger is he?

Small Business Tax Relief

Including the Recovery Act, Obama has cut taxes on small businesses eight (8!) times since he sat his socialist keister in the Oval Office.  Additionally, eight (8!) more small business tax cuts have been stalled in the Senate because of Obama-must-fail Republican recalcitrance.

The Employee Free Choice Act

Despite widespread fear among the business class, Obama hasn’t done one damn thing to get the EFCA passed. It’s hard to remember now, but when Obama-the Communist assumed office, the EFCA was the Holy Grail for organized labor. So much for Obama’s radical agenda for unions, which, the right told us, would destroy America.

Budget Deficits and Debt

Who was it that appointed the deficit reduction commission?  Oh, yeah.  It was that radical spender, Barack Obama.  And he will have to answer for it, as Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson make the rounds and explain to us that although the wealthy made off with billions and billions at Wall Street casinos, and although the financial system had to be bailed out by taxpayers, the pain of budget cuts will fall on average Americans, who will have to work harder and longer for less.  Rah, rah, Comrade Obama!

Free Trade

Despite resistance from the left, particularly unions, Obama is pursuing free trade policies and trade agreements with trading cheaters all over the globe.  

War On Drugs

California had on its ballot this November an initiative that would have legalized marijuana. Surely, every leftist in America, and most libertarians, favored the measure. Yet, the Obama Justice Department made it clear that it opposed Proposition 19 and that it would “vigorously enforce” all federal laws related to dope smoking, no matter the outcome.  No one can possibly argue that a McCain-Palin administration would have acted differently.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Despite favoring repeal of the military’s ban on openly homosexual service, President Obama had a chance to end the policy by simply refusing to appeal a federal judge’s decision last month that prohibited the government from enforcing or applying the ban.  Of course, it turns out that the administration did appeal the decision, thus irking homosexual activists everywhere. 

Why would he do that?  Because he takes his job as head of the executive branch seriously.  And the executive branch is charged with enforcing the law, whether the president likes it or not. That, my friends, is conservative governance.

Guantanamo Bay

It’s still open.  Any questions?

 

“We Will Not Succumb To A Siege Mentality”

Here is a transcript of the last three minutes of President Obama’s speech today regarding the reviews he had ordered over the government’s failure to “connect the dots” in preventing the Christmas Day terrorism attempt.

I chose the last three minutes because this part of the speech illustrates why I and others like me support Barack Obama.  His deliberate-first-then-decide methodology is a welcome change from the last administration. But it is his profound understanding of what makes America a special place and his ability to express it that sets him apart.

The final three paragraphs represent an antidote to the poison injected into the politics of our country by Dick Cheney and others on the right who just can’t abide Obama in the White House and have accused him of not taking his responsibilities to protect us seriously.  Those three paragraphs also represent the thoughts of a man who not only loves his country, but understands why he loves it.  

In my opinion, the following words will go down as one of Obama’s best moments:

Ultimately the buck stops with me. As President I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. And when the system fails it is my responsibility.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against a foe that is bent on our destruction.  And while passions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let’s be clear about what this moment demands.

We are at war. We are at war against al Qaeda, a far reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them.

We have made progress. Al Qaeda’s leadership is hunkered down. We have worked closely with partners including Yemen to inflict major blows against al Qaeda leaders. And we have disrupted plots at home and abroad and saved American lives.

We know that the vast majority of Muslims reject al Qaeda. But it is clear that al Qaeda  increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations, not just in the Middle East but in Africa and other places, to do their bidding.  That’s why I’ve directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenges posed by lone recruits.

And that’s why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death, including the murder of fellow Muslims, while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress. To advance that progress we’ve sought new beginnings with Muslim communities around the world. One in which we engage on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect and work together to fulfill the aspirations that all people share: to get an education, to work with dignity, to live in peace and security. That’s what America believes in. That’s the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists. 

Here at home we will strengthen our defenses, but we will not succumb to a siege mentality that sacrifices the open society and liberties and values that we cherish as Americans. Because great and proud nations don’t hunker down and hide behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. That is exactly what our adversaries want and so long as I am President, we will never hand them that victory.  We will define the character of our country, not some band of small men intent on killing innocent men, women, and children.

And in this cause every one of us—every American, every elected official—can do our part.  Instead of giving in to cynicism and division, let’s move forward with the confidence and optimism and unity that defines us as a people. For now is not a time for partisanship; it is a time for citizenship. A time to come together and work together with the seriousness of purpose that our national security demands. That’s what it means to be strong in the face of violent extremism. And that’s how we will prevail in this fight. And that’s how we will protect our country and pass it—safer and stronger—to the next generation.

Gay Conservatives Want More Dick Cheney

Among the more perplexing terms, not to say oxymorons, in the world of politics is “gay conservative.”  I know they’re out there because Obama only got about 75% of the gay vote.  But in today’s GOP, just how does that work?

Reports are surfacing that Chris Barron, a former political director of the well-known gay conservative group, Log Cabin Republicans, hasn’t had enough of Dick Cheney.  He has begun the effort to “draft” Dick for the next presidential campaign cycle:

We hope that you will join our effort to convince former Vice President Richard Cheney to run for President of the United States in 2012. No other Republican leader has the stature or experience of Dick Cheney. He alone can lead the Republican coalition to victory in 2012!

And I thought Sarah Palin was a gift from God.

Barron, who says the 2012 race “will be about the heart and soul of the GOP,” is now affiliated with GOProud, yet another gay Republican organization, because apparently the Log Cabin Republicans just weren’t conservative enough for his tastes.

The mission statement for GOProud says the group is “committed to a traditional conservative agenda.”

Hmmm.  Someone needs to tell James Dobson  and Pat Robertson, who prefer the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach to conservatism, that gay Republicans are in their tent and consider themselves to be “traditional” conservatives. 

According to the CNN story, Barron says his Draft Cheney group will target Tea Party events. Tea Parties?  Out of respect for common decency, I will refrain from using tea bagger for the rest of this report.

Seriously, just how do conservative homosexuals, whose sexual orientation is sinful and abhorrent to masses of their political bedfellows, cope with such dissonance?  I bet those Values Voter Summits are a real hoot.

Anyway, back to Dick.  Apparently, gay conservatives aren’t the only ones hankering to put D.C. in D.C. in 2012.  CNN reported:

At an event in Houston for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who’s running for Texas governor, Hutchison was joined by Cheney, who endorsed her bid against fellow Republican incumbent Rick Perry. During the rally, Hutchison yelled out to the crowd “Cheney 2012!” and someone in the audience quickly responded “We need you, Dick!”

Indeed, we do.

Dithering Dick and the Chicken Hawks

Dick Cheney, safely out of power, wants Obama to fix yet another Republican mistake by escalating the War That Bush Forgot.  After years of neglect, the Republicans have a mysterious sense of urgency about introducing 40,000 or more troops into a war drama that doesn’t seem to have a “THE END” at the end of it.

Saying “President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision,” the former Vice President, who dithered his way through the Vietnam War, has gone too far this time.  I hope the Justice Department goes after the college campus warrior for all of his crimes, large and small.

Here is how the issue was handled on Morning Joe, Thursday morning:

UPDATE:  General Paul Eaton (Ret.) released a statement that included this opening paragraph:

The record is clear: Dick Cheney and the Bush administration were incompetent war fighters. They ignored Afghanistan for 7 years with a crude approach to counter-insurgency warfare best illustrated by: 1. Deny it.  2.  Ignore it. 3. Bomb it. While our intelligence agencies called the region the greatest threat to America, the Bush White House under-resourced our military efforts, shifted attention to Iraq, and failed to bring to justice the masterminds of September 11.

He ended with this:

No human endeavor can be as profound as sending a nation’s youth to war.  I am very happy to see serious men and women working hard to get it right.

Of course, there’s no way that General Eaton knows what the hell he’s talking about.  He only served 30 years in the Army and according to the National Security Network, “oversaw the training of the Iraqi military.”  That’s nothing compared to the military expertise of Dithering Dick.

Redneck Republik?

Paul T. Butler, in today’s Globe, has indicated his concurrence with Dick Cheney’s recent assessment that Obama is a dangerous man for, among other things, planning to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.

Now, Mr. Butler, who has previously indicated his pride in having sprung from “redneck” relatives, some of whom, according to him, were partly responsible for handing us our Republic, ought to have a little more pride in what sets that Republic apart from, say, the former Soviet Union. And he ought to dig a little deeper into the facts before he signs on with our former vice president.

In a story reported about a week ago, Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican and the chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, told the AP that many of the prisoners held at Guantanamo were innocent, and the Bush administration knew they were innocent:

In his posting for The Washington Note blog, Wilkerson wrote that “U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.”

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney fought efforts to address the situation, Wilkerson said, because “to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership.”

Mr. Wilkerson says that most of the remaining 240 prisoners still held at Guantanamo should be released, except for “two dozen” real “terrorists,” who should be put in “a high security prison like the one in Colorado, forget them and throw away the key.”

As to why Mr. Wilkerson is just now ratting out the Bush administration:

“I’m very concerned about the kinds of things Cheney is saying to make it seem Obama is a danger to this republic,” Wilkerson said. “To have a former vice president fearmongering like this is really, really dangerous.”

Fear is the currency of demagogues. Dick Cheney, who is a cultural hero to most people on the right-wing fringe, lacks the class to keep his mouth shut long enough to allow the new administration to assess the mess it has inherited.

Fortunately, not all former Bush administration officials are so classless. Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State, said the following on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

LENO: What do you make of Dick Cheney saying…? I know President Bush says he wants to remain silent and give Barack his opportunity. Uh, Vice President Cheney out there saying that Obama has made the U.S. less safe. Uh, we shouldn’t be closing Guantanamo Bay, uh, the interrogation methods… What is your opinion?

RICE: Look, these are difficult questions and difficult issues. My view is we got to do it our way. We did our best. We did some things well, some things not so well. Now, they get their chance. And I agree with the president. We owe them our loyalty and our silence while they do it, because I know what it’s like to have people chirping at you when they perhaps don’t know what’s going on inside. These are quality people. I know them. They love the country. And they won’t make the same decision perhaps that we did. But I believe they’ll do what they think is best for the country. And I’ll give my advice privately, and keep it to myself.

Finally, if Paul T. Butler’s distant relatives really did help defeat the British and establish our independence, then Mr. Butler should at least have some familial pride in the fact that we are a nation of laws, a nation that should not tolerate imprisoning innocents for years without recourse to justice, a nation that should set the example for the rest of the world (remember the Shining City on a Hill, Mr. Butler?).

And just endlessly repeating the term “enemy combatant” and applying it to someone does not make it true. Even if Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and Dennis Miller say so.
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COMMENTS:

Anson Burlingame writes:
 
Thursday, March 26, 2009, 02:39 PM
 
Mr. Graham, you have spurred me to action. If I can get Dave Woods and the IT department off their duff I will begin blogging in this section of the Globe online. I look forward to engaging you in public debate without word count restrictions such as guest columns. For starters, I have a question. Did you write as extensively and with such passion when you were an “Erstwhile Conservative”?

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Duane writes:

Thursday, March 26, 2009, 04:20 PM
 
I look forward to your blog. Good luck.

And, yes, I was as just as passionate as a conservative. Just ask anyone who knows me. But I didn’t write as extensively as I do now. Someteime I plan on writing an entry with quotes from some of my old letters to the Globe, etc. I receive some criticism from people who doubt I ever was a REAL conservative. Some people don’t like to believe that it is possible to deconvert from conservatism in the same way they don’t like to believe that you can deconvert from religious dogma.

RDG
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poetikus

Friday, March 27, 2009, 06:28 PM

Anson,
How in the world do you expect to “debate” with Graham? Debate, infers fact, logic, and reason, something his writings lack on all levels.

 

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