“Another World” Of Obama-Hating Hysteria (UPDATED)

Vladimir Putin is nuts, as far as German honcho Angela Merkel is concerned. At least that is what The New York Times reported regarding her telly talk with President Obama:

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. “In another world,” she said.

Well, speaking of another world and being out of touch with reality, we have the strange universe of Republican politics and punditry. Let’s start with a representative sample from Senator Lindsey Graham. CNN’s Candy Crowley interviewed him on Sunday about the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

CROWLEY: …the president has come out and spoken very forcefully on Friday about consequences. The U.S. has made it clear that it disapproves of what Russia has done. You’ve been tweeting about strong statements. What more do you want from President Obama at this point?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, number one, stop going on television and trying to threaten thugs and dictators. It is not your strong suit. Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin or anyone like Putin, everybody’s eyes roll, including mine. We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression.

“Invites aggression.” Now, speaking of nuts, speaking of a disassociation from reality, that statement is textbook. For a powerful U.S. Senator, right in the middle of a serious international crisis, to essentially blame that crisis on the President of the United States, while making fun of the Commander-in-Chief and calling him “weak and indecisive,” is indicative of something seriously wrong not only with Lindsey Graham, but indicative of a schizophrenia on the right that is so deep, and so potentially dangerous, that we all should be concerned as much with the present mental state of some conservatives as we are with the mental state of Vladimir Putin.Main Entry Image

Let’s move on to right-wing Fox pundit-god Charles Krauthammer. Four days ago, after President Obama said, “there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine,” the Fox know-it-all said:

The Ukrainians, and I think everybody, is shocked by the weakness of Obama’s statement. I find it rather staggering.

Staggering? He found it staggering? What Krauthammer didn’t find staggering, as Dorian De Wind points out, is a statement given by George W. Bush in August of 2008, five days after Vladimir Putin’s Russia invaded Georgia with civilian-killing bombers and jet fighters. Bush said pretty much the same things that Obama is saying now, including things like this:

Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century…These actions have substantially damaged Russia’s standing in the world. And these actions jeopardize Russians’ relations — Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe. It is time for Russia to be true to its word and to act to end this crisis.

I remind you that was five days after the invasion and reported estimated deaths of 2,000 people. Was that George Bush’s fault? Did Senator Graham go on a Sunday talk show and call Bush a weak and indecisive president? Did he say Bush invited the aggression? Was their a peep of criticism from easily staggered people like Charles Krauthammer, whose disdain for President Obama has become a personality disorder? No and no and no and no.

Here is the end of a column that Krauthammer wrote on August 14, 2008:

President Bush could cash in on his close personal relationship with Putin by sending him a copy of the highly entertaining (and highly fictionalized) film “Charlie Wilson’s War” to remind Vlad of 12623580-12623583-slargeour capacity to make Russia bleed. Putin would need no reminders of the Georgians’ capacity and long history of doing likewise to invaders.

Bush needs to make up for his mini-Katrina moment when he lingered in Beijing yukking it up with our beach volleyball team while Putin flew to North Ossetia to direct the invasion of a neighboring country. Bush is dispatching Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to France and Georgia. Not a moment too soon. Her task must be to present these sanctions, get European agreement on as many as possible and begin imposing them, calibrated to Russian behavior. And most important of all, to prevent any Euro-wobbliness on the survival of Georgia’s democratically elected government.

We have cards. We should play them. Much is at stake.

Can you believe that? Krauthammer cites “Bush’s close personal relationship with Putin” without so much as any criticism of Bush for misreading the Russian leader. No language about weakness or weak responses. Nothing like that. Remember Bush had said about Putin that, “I looked into his eyes and saw his soul.”* Can you even imagine what Krauthammer would have written if Barack Obama had made that same statement prior to Putin invading Ukraine? Just last September Krauthammer said Obama “has been played and continues to be” by Putin. Such hypocrisy is off the charts.

Let me also remind you that George Bush said the following about the Russian invasion of Georgia:

We insist that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected.

“We insist,” the Commander-in-Chief  said in 2008. Well, thousands of Russian troops still occupy about a fifth of Georgia to this day. Russia has declared the disputed territories, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, to be “independent states.” So much for George W. Bush’s “close personal relationship” with the thug.

And so much for expecting any semblance of sane commentary from people like Lindsey Graham and Charles Krauthammer. As Angela Merkel might say, they, like so many Obama-hating conservatives, are truly in another world.                                              [AP photo]

[UPDATE:Appearing on Fox's "Your (another) World with Neil Cavuto," former New York City mayor and current Chris Christie apologist, Rudy Giuliani, said that,

Putin decides what he wants to do and he does it in half a day. Right? He decided he had to go to their parliament, he got permission in 15 minutes...he makes a decision and he executes it, quickly. Then everybody reacts. That's what you call a leader. President Obama, he's gotta think about it, he's gotta go over it again; he's gotta talk to more people...

rudy and putinNow, even forgetting that the Russian parliament is not the U.S. Congress, in the sense that it is not a democratic body with a mind and real power of its own, the fact that a Russian thug is praised by a prominent Republican for acting like a thug, even a decisive one, is enough to turn one's stomach. And if the American people had any sense at all, they would tell not only Rudy Giuliani, but the entire Republican Party that harbors such stupidity, such undeniable nuttiness, to go straight to hell and never come back.]

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* Speaking of souls: It wasn’t that long ago when some culture-war right-wingers were singing the praises of the Russian thug, who was going to save Christianity from the homosexual heathens. From Pat Buchanan to the American Family Association to The American Conservative to the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute to the World Congress of Families to Sean Hannity—who actually said in September that he would take the word of Putin over Secretary of State John Kerry.

Government Jobs Are People Too

I know I posted a segment from The Rachel Maddow Show earlier today, but I just have to post the segment below because it is the best 8 1/2 minutes you will spend, in terms of hearing a rebuttal to what right-wingers claim both about the nature of government employment and the alleged radical nature of President Obama and his administration.

Before you watch the segment, here is a graphic St. Rachel uses to make the point that what was standard practice in fighting recessions in the past has been turned on its head during the Obama presidency. The graph plots the change in government employment during the 1981 recession when Reagan was president, the 1990 recession when George H.W. Bush was president, the 2001 recession when George W. Bush was president, and the Great Recession when the Scary Negro socialist/communist was president:

government employment and recession

As you can clearly see, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II did not seek to shrink government, and government employment, when the economy slowed down. That would have been stupid. And neither did President Obama initially seek to eliminate government jobs. Part of his stimulus plan put in place early in 2009 was designed to help states keep teachers, cops, firemen, and other government workers on the job. But that stimulus, much maligned by Republicans as a “failure,” is long gone. And nothing like it is coming back.

Here is the St. Rachel segment, which you should commit to memory, especially those of you who have hard-headed conservatives in your midst:

The Republican War On Class

Contemporary conservatives are a classy bunch:

♦ One of them, a Texas congressman, invited a vulgar, Obama-hating gun freak to the State of the Union address to provide, he explained, “balance.” The vulgar, Obama-hating gun freak then said he could not offer a reaction to the speech because, “I’m supposed to keep my pants on.” Now, that’s balance.

♦ Another conservative, a well-known and well-paid whore for the gun industry, urged people to buy even more guns just in case there is a “fiscal collapse” brought on by President Obama. If that sounds familiar, it is exactly the rationale of Nancy Lanza, a “prepper” who feared an economic collapse and kept several guns in her home to defend herself. Unfortunately, her disturbed son shot her in her sleep and proceeded to Sandy Hook Elementary School to kill six-year-olds and teachers before putting a gun to his own head.

♦ Two insanely-conservative U.S. Senators—I repeat: U.S. Senators—have essentially accused President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, former Republican Chuck Hagel, of being in bed with foreign terrorists. And 41 Republican Senators, including Missouri’s Roy Blunt—who had previously indicated Hagel should not be filibustered—supported a historic filibuster to keep Hagel’s nomination from coming to a vote, a vote he would otherwise clearly win.

Hagel’s offense, as John McCain eventually admitted, was pissing off his fellow Republicans many years ago by criticizing George W. Bush and the surge in Iraq. Republicans can forget all the damage they have done to the economy and all the debt they have racked up, but they can never forget one of their own who told the truth about them.

♦ Three Fox “News” hosts mocked Desiline Victor, the 102-year-old African-American woman who, because of Republican voter suppression tactics, waited hours in line to vote last November, with one of the hosts saying,

What was she the victim of? Rashes on the bottom of her feet?

♦ A Republican congressman from Georgia, seeking an open U.S. Senate seat in 2014, has bragged in a fundraising letter about his insight into Barack Obama:

I was the first member of Congress to call him a socialist who embraces Marxist-Leninist policies like government control of health care and redistribution of wealth.

Turns out the congressman is a liar, but not for saying Obama is a socialist who embraces Marxist-Leninist policies—heck, we all know he is—but because the congressman was not “the first” to say so.

♦ A big-time Tea Party group, FreedomWorks, which recently paid its former chairman Dick Armey $8 million bucks to go away, produced a video with a segment that featured two female interns, one pretending to be a panda and one pretending to be Hillary Clinton. The panda-intern was, reportedly, “performing oral sex on the then-secretary of state.”

Classy stuff. Real family values. Onward Christian soldiers!

The Right’s Convenient Outrage Over Benghazi

It’s official: John McCain thinks the President, who whipped his sorry behind four years ago, is a liar.

Regarding Benghazi, I heard him tell the low-information hosts on Fox this morning:

Why did the President of the United States continue to deceive the American people and the world? We need a select committee. Nobody died in Watergate. Nobody died in Iran-Contra. Four people died here because of their lack of action. As my friend Lindsey Graham says, they turned that consulate into a death trap.

Fox host Steve Doocy, in whose brain IQs go to die, followed McCain’s outrageous assertion with, “They did indeed.”

It’s amazing to me that without any evidence, with only “new questions” about what happened, the Foxers and their allies in Congress can continue to pretend that they know President Obama is guilty of everything from ignorance to treason.

I’m also amazed at how damned concerned are all those Foxers and Republican legislators about the four Americans who died in Libya, when those same people spent little time worrying about the Bush II administration’s failure to pay close attention to intelligence that seemed to foresee what happened on 9/11.

If Fox and its allies had spent a fraction of the time looking into that unfortunate episode as it has spent claiming that Obama is lying about what happened in Benghazi, we probably wouldn’t have had the second Bush administration.

And I guess that’s the point, isn’t it?

For the record, and because Fox “News” will never touch it, here is an excerpt from Kurt Eichenwald’s article two months ago in The New York Times:

On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.

It took almost three years for the Bushies to release that incriminating document, and they did so only under pressure from the 9/11 Commission. The Times article continued:

The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.

But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.

In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.

Eichenwald points out that despite the CIA’s “repeated warnings” and more briefs about the upcoming “planned assault,”

the White House failed to take significant action.

Get that, Fox? Get that, John McCain and Lindsey Graham and all you others out there who are now quick to blame Obama for Benghazi? George W. Bush failed to take significant action. He failed. Where was your outrage over that? Where is it today? Three thousand Americans died on 9/11 and many more have died in our response, much of it misguided, to those attacks that the CIA warned were coming. Where’s the ongoing outrage?

We don’t know if the 9/11 attacks could have been stopped, even if Bush and his neocon friends had paid sufficient attention to the warnings. But we know it wouldn’t have hurt if they had, as there were at least a couple of events—co-conspirator Mohamed al-Kahtani’s detention in Orlando in August of 2001 and flight-school trainee Zacarias Moussaoui’s arrest later that month in Minnesota—that might have led to the unraveling of the entire plan.

And we all know that the death of four Americans in Benghazi was indeed a tragedy, apparently one that could have, should have, been prevented, even though we don’t yet know enough to say what went wrong and who was responsible for it.

And, sadly, we know that people like John McCain and his channelers at Fox “News” will not wait to find out what happened before they hurl accusations at President Obama, even though not a damned one of them bothered to so much as question Bush’s ham-handed handling of intelligence warnings, just prior to the worst terrorist attack in our history—and on our own soil.

If McCain and other Foxers had been all over the Bush administration’s pre-9/11 failures, if they had been on television demanding Watergate-like hearings over those failures, then perhaps they would have more credibility today, as they prematurely demand a “select committee” over Benghazi, which would quickly turn into an Obama hate fest.

But they didn’t say a word about those prior failures, and I, for one, don’t give a damn what they are saying now.

A Candid Republican Tells The Truth About Racism In His Party

Friday night on MSNBC, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a Republican who served as chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell during the George W. Bush administration, was asked to comment on Republican bully and Romney bullshitter John Sununu’s race-based assertion that Powell endorsed President Obama because, well, “take a look at Colin Powell,” he said.

Wilkerson, forcefully and without qualification, said this:

My party, unfortunately, is the bastion of those people, not all of them but most of them, who are still basing their decisions on race. Let me just be candid: My party is full of racists. And the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants president Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as Commander-in-Chief, as President, and everything to do with the color of his skin. And that’s despicable.

All of you lurking conservatives out there who have followed this blog for the past three and a half years, who have indicted me, a Democrat, for what you claim are false accusations of racially-tinged resentment and false accusations of racism on the part of Republicans, can take it up with Colonel Wilkerson, one of your own.

A “Post-Truth” World

In an excellent blog post at Media Matters, Jeremy Holden reviews the incessant lies and disregard for fact-checking by the Romney-Ryan campaign, especially the lies about Obama’s so-called “apology tour” and Obama’s alleged elimination of the welfare work requirement.

Holden offered a tweet from a political reporter for the Boston Phoenix, which pretty much sums up the dilemma facing journalists:

Now what, indeed.

But Holden points out that The Washington Post—which employs Glenn Kessler as its fact checker, a fact checker who has given RomneyFour Pinocchios for months” but “Romney keeps saying this” —has its own problems with the truth, mainly because it continues publishing lies that have been fact checked by, uh, Glenn Kessler!

Among the culprits are Post columnist Marc Thiessen, who started that whole false meme about Obama and the security briefing (which caused John Sununu to call the President “lazy”).  Kessler gave Thiessen three Pinocchios for that one.

But prominent among offenders at the Post, offenders who practice what David Roberts of Grist has called “post-truth politics,” is Charles Krauthammer.

The Post publishes many questionable assertions written by Krauthammer, but perhaps most perplexing is why it continues to publish his columns that include references to that non-existent “apology tour.” Just today Krauthammer wrote:

Four years later, mid-September 2012, the U.S. mission in Benghazi went up in flames, as did Obama’s entire Middle East policy of apology and accommodation.

I don’t know how a reputable newspaper can employ a fact-checker and at the same time publish columns with claims that the fact-checker has repeatedly shot down as false.

But then The Washington Post is not what it used to be.

Meanwhile, another “news” organization, Fox, has been pushing an “Obama lied about Benghazi” meme night and day. And I mean night and day.

With only the flimsiest of evidence (that’s enough for Fox, when it comes to Obama) Fox has featured folks like Rudy Giuliani, who said yesterday on Fox’s Three Stooges and Friends:

I think there is no question that the administration was covering up from day one.

No question. None.

Mike Huckabee compared the whole thing to Watergate today on “America’s News(!)room”:

Let’s just get blunt. No way to sugar coat this — We’ve been lied to. We have flat-out been lied to. They know they’ve lied…Richard Nixon was forced out of office because he lied and because he covered some stuff up. I’m going to be blunt and tell you this — nobody died in Watergate. We have some people who are dead because of this. There are some questions to be answered and Americans ought to demand to get answers and it doesn’t matter what the politics are.

Yeah, it doesn’t matter what the politics are to right-wingers on Fox, right?

This afternoon I heard Fox’s Megyn Kelly ask Andy Card, George Bush’s chief of staff, this breathtaking question:

If George W. Bush had been the president and had sent Ambassador Bolton out to tell the world that these were spontaneous attacks, not pre-planned [sic], all over a video, and then it became clear that the intel community knew something very different all the while, what do you think the reaction would have been by the press?

CARD: I think the press would have been up in arms about President Bush.

Up in arms my ass. After the 9/11 attacks, the press fell into the arms of the Bush administration, as did all Americans. It wasn’t a time to throw rocks at the president (that would come later when it was revealed that a month before the attacks Bush had received a “presidential daily brief” titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” a story that did not get wall-to-wall coverage on Fox of course).

Neither was it the time, immediately after the murders in Benghazi, to do what Mitt Romney did—with the aid of Fox “News”and before the bodies were cold—when he began criticizing Mr. Obama shamelessly. There would be plenty of time to see what, if anything, the Administration did wrong in Libya, but shouldn’t we have an investigation and get the facts first? Huh?

It may well be that someone in the Administration purposely mislead reporters about the nature of the attacks, but what is more likely is that there was, and appears to remain, much confusion about them. Let’s see before we call this a Watergate or an October Surprise.

Meanwhile, a real scandal, but one involving Republicans and voter fraud (isn’t that ironic?) has been revealed and Fox, which pushed night and day the phony story in 2008 about ACORN and voter fraud, is, uh, busy with other things.

From Media Matters today:

In fact this morning, Brian Kilmeade hosted a Fox & Friends panel discussion about voter fraud. In 2008, the allegation that ACORN submitted questionable registration forms was routinely referred to and condemned as “voter fraud” on Fox. (To this day, Fox treats misaddressed voter registration forms as “fraud.”) But this morning, Kilmeade and his guests made no mention of the fact that the Republican Party was just forced to fire a consulting firm for submitting potentially bogus voter registration forms; forms being reviewed by local law enforcement.

Nothing is a scandal on Fox unless it is a Democratic scandal, real or imagined. And that is why Republicans spend much time bashing mainstream journalism and don’t give a damn about fact checkers.

Food And Republican Logic

While watching “Up with Chris Hayes” Sunday morning on MSNBC, a Republican guest’s comment inspired me to present the following premises and conclusion, which taken together represent the twisted logic of the right-wing and its ongoing and ridiculous, if not partly racist, claim that Mr. Obama is the Food Stamp President:

♦ The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was formerly known as and still is popularly called the Food Stamp Program. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Nearly 75 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.

♦ A significant change in SNAP occurred in 2002, including expanding it to “make more legal immigrants eligible for benefits,” according to the Agriculture Department. And according to a right-wing opponent of the increase in food stamp benefits, the 2002 bill, “increased benefits for families with more children, adjusted benefits for inflation and made it easier to enroll.”

♦ George Bush was president in 2002 and signed the expansion into law (as part of the big 2002 farm bill), saying at the time:

This bill is also a compassionate bill. This law means that legal immigrants can now receive help and food stamps after being here for five years. It means that you can have an elderly farm worker, somebody here legally in America who’s worked hard to make a living and who falls on hard times, that person can receive help from a compassionate government.

And as for Bush’s entire tenure as president, CNN reported earlier this year:

Food stamp enrollment has been rising for more than a decade. President Bush launched a recruitment campaign, which pushed average participation up by 63% during his eight years in office.

♦ Teapartiers Paul Ryan (whose famous budget cuts SNAP by $134 billion) and Jim DeMint (who now abhors increased spending on food stamps!), along with my former congressman and now senator from Missouri, Roy Blunt, voted for the 2002 food stamp expansion. So did then-senator and Missouri Republican Kit Bond.

♦ The 2008 version of the farm bill also expanded the food stamp program, and although Mr. Bush vetoed the bill (but not because of the food stamp expansion), Republicans provided the necessary margin to override his veto. That bill, again according to that same right-wing opponent of food stamp increases,

contained more than 30 provisions relating to food stamps, including higher minimum benefits. 

Again, Roy Blunt voted for the 2008 bill that expanded the program and voted in the House to override Bush’s veto.  In the Senate, the override vote saw 35 Republican senators—including Mitch McConnell—vote to override the veto. Missouri’s Kit Bond, along with both Kansas Republican senators, voted to override, thus expanding the food stamp program.

♦ The Great Recession, which cost millions of Americans their jobs and caused many people to seek help from the food stamp program, began while George Bush was president.

♦ Just before Mr. Obama came into office in January of 2009, the GDP shrank at an annualized rate of almost 9%. Yes, you read that right: “More than any other recession since the Great Depression.”

♦ The Democrats’ 2009 stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), did increase eligibility and funds for SNAP because:

In light of the increased demand for services and strained State budgets, the increased ARRA funding to State agencies that administer the SNAP program enables State governments to avoid reductions in services and to meet the increasing demand from low-income families and individuals resulting from the recession.

REPUBLICAN CONCLUSION: The fact that more folks needed and continue to need food stamps because of the Great Recession is all Barack Obama’s fault and he is, therefore, the Food Stamp President.

Besides admiring the audacity of the faulty logic of Republicans, it may interest you to know that for all the talk about food stamps and the number of Americans who need them, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average monthly benefit—I kid you not—is a whopping $133.84 (in Missouri it is $127.05).

Again, I kid you not. That tiny amount, most of it going to families with kids, is what generates all the divisive demagoguery—including Romney’s 47% nonsense—and what causes Republicans to bend the principles of logic in service to their Obama-hating agenda.

Conservatives Are Dangerous, And People Need To Know It

Democrats should go on the offensive and tell Americans just how dangerous conservatives are, in terms of the foreign policy of the United States.

As Ezra Klein pointed out last night, Mitt Romney’s intemperate attack on President Obama occurred about 16 hours after that now famous statement by an embassy staffer in Cairo was released. That was plenty of time to mull over the ramifications of his actions. The bottom line is that after all that time to think, he did not think wisely.

And that says something vitally important about him.

The New York Times reported that Romney’s “senior staff” all helped to craft Romney’s damning attack on the Commander-in-Chief. Assembling such a bumbling set of staffers also says something important about Romney.

But I want to focus on what unfortunately is the general conservative posture in moments like what happened on Tuesday—and what continues to happen today—as fanatical Muslims express ridiculously excessive outrage over insults to their religion.

This conservative posture—which infects Romney as much as any other conservative in the country—is dangerous because it is so, well, so unrestrained, so absent of sober judgment. Romney and his brain trust, conservatives all, displayed such a lack of sober judgement on Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning—and it continues.

But I have another example of such unrestrained posturing, this one important because it comes from someone who is supposed to be a thoughtful conservative, an intellectual of high regard, Charles Krauthammer.

However, before I get to that, I want to review the Cairo statement that started all of this nonsense, a statement we all need to remember that was released hours before Egyptians climbed the walls of our embassy:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others

Now, make sure you read that statement carefully. You will notice very clearly that it is not an apology for American values, as Romney and conservatives insist to this day. Indeed, it could have been released during, say, the George W. Bush presidency.* No, wait. It could have been uttered by Mr. Bush himself, who said similar things throughout his two terms, like the following from November of 2002:

Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans. Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others. Ours is a country based upon tolerance and we welcome people of all faiths in America.

Bush made that statement in response to statements made by evangelicals Jerry Falwell (“I think Muhammad was a terrorist“) and Pat Robertson—now a valued Romney supporter—who said of Muhammad,

This man was an absolute wild-eyed fanatic. He was a robber and a brigand. And to say that these terrorists distort Islam? They’re carrying out Islam!

Personally, I don’t care what Jerry Falwell, who has now met or not met Allah in the hereafter, or Pat Robertson said about Muhammad. Or what either said about Jesus, for that matter. But George W. Bush did care what those two and others said about Islam’s most important prophet because he knew that such things coming from high-profile evangelicals could be used against Americans both here and abroad. He acted responsibly by saying that such views,

do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans.

That part at least George Bush got right as he fought his so-called War on Terror.

But I want to quote what Charles Krauthammer, the brains of conservatism on Fox “News,”  said on Tuesday evening in response to the Cairo embassy statement:

That statement is an embarrassment. That’s a hostage statement. That’s a mob of al-Qaeda sympathizers in Egypt forcing the United States into making a statement that essentially is an apology, on 9/11 of all days! For something for which we are not responsible.

I would issue a statement saying to the mob, “Go to hell.  The way America works, the way democracy works, is that everybody has a right to express themselves, we don’t police our speech, and you are to apologize to the United States for storming an embassy and the violation of the ultimate sacred principle of democracy which is protecting embassies and missions abroad.”

For the U.S. to essentially issue a veiled apology I think is disgraceful.

Now we know where Romney got the idea of attacking Mr. Obama, saying it was,

disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

Like Krauthammer, sitting comfortably in a Fox “News” studio, what American didn’t get outraged over the attacks on our embassy? Who wasn’t profoundly pissed that in Libya four Americans, including our ambassador, were murdered? And who didn’t want to tell the mobs to go to hell?

But don’t we expect more than misinformed bluster from the commentariat? From our political leaders?

The problem is not just that when Krauthammer uttered that feel-good stupidity, he didn’t have all the facts. And the problem isn’t just that he and his colleagues put the facts they did have in the wrong order and mistakenly believed the statement came after the embassy in Cairo was breached.

The larger problem is that since he made that half-baked, testosterone-laden statement, and by now knows the proper chronology of events, he hasn’t changed his cowboy posture. You can Google “Krauthammer apologizes for ‘Go to Hell’ remark” and you won’t find any evidence that he regrets shooting from the hip, jumping to conclusions.

In fact, you will find hits like this:

AWESOME! Krauthammer says he’d tell the Egyptian mob “GO TO HELL”

AWESOME! indeed.

I doubt if Krauthammer ever retracts his remarks, which were based on a falsehood. The record now will be forever muddled in muddled minds because the right-wing propaganda machine will keep it that way for exploitation. These folks make a living off the muddle.

The important thing to know about Krauthammering conservatives, who like to talk all big and tall and tough with outrage, is that few of them actually went overseas and acted on their outrage, acted out their foreign policy fantasies,  when they had the chance. They were, and remain, perfectly content to express their ballsy patriotism within the safety of our shores.

But American voters have to know that if they put these people back in power, if voters opt for knee-jerk diplomacy of the kind Krauthammer and other conservatives—including other conservative intellectuals— have advocated, then they should not only expect that the world will be an even more dangerous place for Americans, they should expect to send their sons and daughters to die in the wars that will follow such stupidity.

_____________________________

*Speaking of apologies, how about this from May of 2008:

BAGHDAD — President Bush has apologized to Iraq’s prime minister for an American sniper’s shooting of a Quran, and the Iraqi government called on U.S. military commanders to educate their soldiers to respect local religious beliefs.

Bush’s spokeswoman said Tuesday that the president apologized during a videoconference Monday with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who told the president that the shooting of Islam’s holy book had disappointed and angered both the Iraqi people and their leaders.

“He apologized for that in the sense that he said that we take it very seriously,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. “We are concerned about the reaction. We wanted them to know that the president knew that this was wrong.”

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“We Are A Generous And Caring People. We Don’t Believe In A Sink or Swim Society,” Says The President

 

At this crucial time in our nation’s politics, I encourage you to read the following, from our president:

In America, we’ve not always lived up to our ideals, yet we always reach for them. We believe that everyone deserves a chance, that everyone has value, that no insignificant person was ever born. We believe that all are diminished when any are hopeless. We are one people, committed to building a single nation of justice and opportunity.

America rejects bigotry…we reject every act of hatred against people of Arab background or Muslim faith…Every immigrant can be fully and equally American, because we’re one country. Race and color should not divide us, because America is one country.

These American ideals of opportunity and equality come to us across the generations, and they have attracted millions from across the world. Yet, there are young Americans growing up here, under this flag, who doubt the promise and justice of our country. They live in neighborhoods occupied by gangs and ruled by fear. They are entitled by law to an education, yet do not receive an education. They hear talk of opportunity and see little evidence of opportunity around them.

Every American must believe in the promise of America, and to reach this noble, necessary goal, there is a role for government. America doesn’t need more big Government, and we’ve learned that more money is not always the answer. If a program is failing to serve people, it makes little difference if we spend twice as much or half as much. The measure of true compassion is results.

Yet we cannot have an indifferent Government, either. We are a generous and caring people. We don’t believe in a sink or swim society. The policies of our Government must heed the universal call of all faiths to love a neighbor as we would want to be loved ourselves…

Government cannot solve every problem, but it can encourage people and communities to help themselves and to help one another…

The same principles of compassion and responsibility apply when America offers assistance to other nations. Nearly half of the world’s people still live on less than $2 a day. When we help them, we show our values, our belief in universal human dignity; we serve our interests and gain economic partners. And by helping the developing nations of the world, we offer an alternative to resentment and conflict and terror…

It is compassionate to increase our international aid. It is conservative to require the hard reforms that lead to prosperity and independence. And with this approach, we’ll make a real difference in the lives of people around the world…

As we observe the detestation of government here at home expressed by teapartiers, and as we observe the calls from hysterical right-wingers in Congress to cut off aid abroad, perhaps we all should pay attention to George W. Bush and those words he uttered on April 30, 2002.

 

Hypocrisy That Just Pisses You Off

The following video segment involves Chris Hayes revealing a “glaring bit of hypocrisy” on the part of Paul Ryan related to the issue of stimulus spending and the economy. Needless to say, Ryan had a different opinion of the effectiveness of stimulus spending under George Bush than he did under Barack Obama.

You have to see this segment in order to believe it. The pro-stimulus Paul Ryan of 2002 sounds like the pro-stimulus Barack Obama of 2009. What a pile of fetid feces has the GOP become:

By the way, in the discussion that follows the above clip, Michael Grunwald, author of The New New Deal, which “reveals the vivid story behind President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus bill,” said this about the effectiveness of that bill:

People forget that in the fourth quarter of 2008, GDP fell at a 9% annual rate. That’s a depression. At that rate we would have lost an entire Canadian economy in 2009. In January of 2009 we lost 800,000 jobs. Then we pass the stimulus. The next quarter had the biggest improvement in jobs in 30 years.

Case closed.

Tough Love Is For The Other Guy

Paul Ryan said Saturday morning to a gathering of pale-faced Republican geezers in Florida,

Our solution to preserve, protect, and save Medicare will not affect your benefits.

Yesterday I posted a piece on how Republicans, in order to sell their plan to radically revamp Medicare, are appealing to the selfishness of current seniors, hoping those seniors won’t begin to wonder how long young folks will keep paying for benefits those young people will never get.

A retired local conservative commenter, who is living on a military pension, responded to my piece with this:

…cutting military retirement benefits is coming, like it or not by anyone. But you would not do it I hope for those that have planned their lives and are living on such benefits today.

Same with Medicare. People have planned their lives for that program and need it to live as planned.

The idea here is that “I’ve got mine” and it is too bad if folks in the future have to take less, but they should keep paying for “mine.” Nothing could better illustrate what I was trying to say in the piece I wrote than that conservative’s comment.

Another commenter on the piece characterized the conservative’s thoughts this way:

Being a silver-haired geezer myself, I can see that they want to do the same thing to Medicare and Social Security that has been done to the educational system. Hey, WE got our valuable college degrees for peanuts and earned the big bucks during our peak years, but now we realize it wasn’t fair, and so YOU are going to have to suck it up, kid. And don’t come begging at grandpa’s door, because I now believe in tough love!

Amen. Tough love, if you will notice, is almost always directed at someone else.  When Paul Ryan, for instance, had the chance to practice some tough love during the Bush administration and demand that the expanded drug benefit or the two wars be paid for, he made the decision to defer the tough love until later, which happened to be when a Democrat was in the White’s House.

And Ryan’s tough love was in full force when he opposed Obama’s stimulus plan to help start the economic recovery, even though he later sent letters requesting some of the money so his constituents wouldn’t have to suffer from his tough love. (And then, taking lessons from Romney, he lied about doing so.)

But our local conservative commenter, again a man who lives on an inflation-protected military pension that he earned from his years of service, wasn’t finished with his own tough love campaign. He wrote:

The GOP has said economic processes MUST CHANGE today because our national wants far exceed our national resources.

Here is my response to that comment:

What you call our national wants are actually national needs, unless you think we don’t need the social stability that Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid provide, or unless you believe we can stop funding the Defense Department.

But even if you consider those things “wants,” you are still wrong in claiming that those wants exceed our national resources. In fact they don’t. We have plenty of national resources, as we are very wealthy.

What we have is a political party, which you almost always support, that has designated most of our national economic resources as untouchable, except when it comes to the military.

And they have decided that the uneven distribution of income in America is not to be feared but to be embraced, as it will somehow inspire the have-nots to work harder so they too can someday send their excess dough to the Cayman Islands for some much needed rest.

The truth is that conservatives controlling the GOP today do not value the stability that comes from social programs, programs they routinely disparage openly and without apology.

For instance, Mr. Obama has been falsely called “the food stamp president” by Newt Gingrich, as if providing food stamps to folks who need them in bad times is worthy of condemnation. It turns out that George W. Bush was actually the food stamp president and God bless him for it. It was the least he could do for helping screw up the economy, which made food stamps such a necessity for many folks.

And you know what your conservative intellectual hero-columnist Charles Krauthammer recently wrote about Bush? He denigrated him for his,

philosophically undisciplined, idiosyncratically free-spending “compassionate conservatism.”

You see, for ideologues like Krauthammer, compassion has no place in conservatism, a point I am happy to make every day.

People like Gingrich and Krauthammer and Rush Limbaugh and a horde of Republican politicians often refer to an “entitlement society,” as if people—they want you to think it is mostly black people—who receive government help aspire to do nothing more than lie around the house and get fat on food purchased with money stolen from taxing “job creators.” That is what the Romney ads falsely claiming that Obama waived the work requirement for welfare benefits is all about.

You see, these folks have always hated the social safety net because most of them have never needed it or have arrived at a place where they know they never will. In one way or another, they’ve got theirs and to hell with everyone else.

And it is that sentiment that serves as the subtext of the Ryan-Romney campaign and that will be what voters affirm or reject in November.

Fussy Facts

I don’t much care for Paul Greenberg’s opinions, as regular readers of this blog know.  It’s not that he is a horrible writer or undeserving of his Pulitzer Prize. He’s a very fine writer and Columbia University is free to pass out Pulitzers to whomever it wants, especially to one who apparently was willing in the 1960s to defend civil rights in a most uncivil part of the country, the South.

There’ s just something about his tone, call it Arkansas Delta arrogance, a peculiar mix of experience-over-ideas conservatism and Southern sensibility and the kind of condescending charm that a man at war with the modern world passes off as genteel sophistication.

At least that’s how his prose rubs me.

In any case, Greenberg was at it again this morning in the Joplin Globe. After three nice introductory paragraphs about the upcoming campaign season, the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette wrote:

Some candidates eventually prove great presidents — a Lincoln or Franklin D. Roosevelt– and win eternal honor, or at least deserve to. Others are more like Jimmy Carter and the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Now, let’s take a minute to consider those two sentences, which discredit two alive-and-well Democratic presidents and praise a long-dead one.

First the dead one: FDR is one of those Democratic presidents that even some Republican-minded folks occasionally like to praise.  Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of Tea Party Republicans only because they are ignorant of his many compromises as our president, particularly admired Roosevelt’s leadership:

His strong, gentle, confident voice resonated across the nation with an eloquence that brought comfort and resilience to a nation caught up in a storm and reassured us that we could lick any problem. I will never forget him for that.

Or consider Reagan’s calling Roosevelt, “an American giant, a leader who shaped, inspired, and led our people through perilous times.”

Ah, that must be what Mr. Greenberg means by praising the man who gave us America’s social safety net: Roosevelt was an American giant and inspirational leader. 

Okay. But I’ve never met a conservative Republican who had a good word to say about what Roosevelt’s domestic policies actually accomplished.  In fact, the entire modern conservative movement materialized in opposition to the New Deal and morphed into its current unseemly fanaticism while the New Deal was giving birth to its first child, the Great Society.

So, it’s hard for me, a non-Pulitzer winner, to understand what Greenberg can possibly mean by including Roosevelt in his list of “great presidents,” but I am sure he has his reasons.

And one of those reasons must be to contrast the mythical and historically sainted FDR with two of Mr. Greenberg’s favorite demon-Presidents, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

Carter’s name seems to pop up whenever Greenberg needs to stick a Pulitzer-blessed screwdriver in the eye of Mr. Obama, like last summer, when he wrote:

Surely it’s just my fallible memory, but I can’t recall a presidential address that has fallen as flat as Barack Obama’s last week, at least not since Jimmy Carter gave his (in)famous malaise speech back in the dismal summer of 1979.

Never mind that Greenberg, like all Republicans sympathizers, has it all wrong about Carter’s so-called “malaise speech.” (You can read why here or read the speech yourself here.)

Sure enough, Greenberg once again wielded his Obama-hater weapon, Mr. Carter’s presidency, along with the former president’s sidekick, Mr. Malaise:

The stubborn unemployment rate that refuses to subside, a national debt that grows from alarming to crushing, a Great Recession that won’t go away. No wonder there’s a sense of that old devil Malaise in the air. Again the word stagflation is heard in the land, and some of the leftier economists say a little inflation (which has a way of becoming a lot) would be a fine thing. As in the Carter years? Please.

The not-so-subtle implication here is that unemployment, the national debt, and the Great Recession are Mr. Obama’s doing. Never mind the facts; Mr. Greenberg has a job to do.

Now, this is going to be the strategy to attack Mr. Obama, as we move toward November of 2012.  Just yesterday, Jeb Bush, who received praise for telling GOP presidential candidates to stop “ascribing bad motives” to Obama, nevertheless ascribed bad policies to him:

He’s made a situation that was bad worse. He’s deserving of criticism for that.

But facts are not just stubborn things, they are eternal obstacles to the kind of revisionist nonsense that Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Bush are trying to peddle.

Rather than going from bad to worse, things have gone from worse to, well, not-as-bad.

Jobs were bleeding from the Bush-sized wound in the economy (Greenberg’s “Great Recession that won’t go away”) at an alarming rate when Mr. Obama assumed office.  And it took some time to stop the bleeding and close the wound. But it did stop and the wound is healing, albeit agonizingly slow. 

And what healing is happening has come despite fierce opposition from Republican lawmakers, who have en masse not only refused to help Democrats restore the economy to normalcy, but have steadfastly obstructed any efforts to do so.

And Mr. Greenberg’s “alarming to crushing” national debt is also an inheritance from Mr. Bush and years of Republican governmental malfeasance, based on unfettered free-market theology, which Greenberg enthusiastically endorsed in 2006. 

The recession is responsible for much of the ongoing yearly deficits, but particular and deliberate policies of the previous administration—those famous Bush tax cuts and wars—are also to blame for the shortfall and for the accumulation of massive debt.

Greenberg the war hawk was also an enthusiastic believer at the time in the power of the Bush tax cuts to heal the economy, all without ever mentioning the resulting deficits and debt.  In fact, I searched in vain for a bad Greenbergian word about deficits and debt under the Reagan and Bush administrations.

Even though now, in the Age of Obama, Greenberg clearly sees and writes about “a national debt that grows from alarming to crushing,”  he apparently didn’t see it as either alarming or crushing when policies that caused most of it were being debated and adopted by his fellow conservatives.

Thankfully, The New York Times, put it in a form that even a conservative columnist with a self-described disdain for the theoretical can understand:

So, Mr. Greenberg and other like-minded Obama-haters can take their shots at the current president via comparisons with Jimmy Carter and FDR, but some of us still have a working-relationship with the evidence, with those obstinate, unyielding, and fussy facts.

Don’t Let ‘em Forget

As I have argued since the beginning of this blog, the cut-taxes-and-grow nonsense told by conservatives armed with laissez-faire logic has no support in the laboratory that has been our national experience since the end of WWII.

The most recent evidence, of course, happened during the Bush II years, when marginal tax rates were irresponsibly cut and job growth turned out to be nonexistent, a sad fact we should all be acquainted with now, since unemployment remains stubbornly high. 

Beginning early in 2008 and up until Bush left office in January of 2009, the economy lost 4.5 million jobs.  In the months following the inauguration of Mr. Obama, jobs continued to hemorrhage—credit them also to the Great Bush Recession—and the total job loss climbed to around 9 million.  Here’s the famous graph again that chronicles the damage: 

Bush and Republicans cut the rates that had been raised as a result of the 1993 Deficit Reduction Act under Bill Clinton and the Democrats, possibly the last piece of responsible tax legislation that will ever pass in my lifetime.  Those “high” and “punishing” rates on “job creators“—which Republicans at the time predicted would stifle economic growth—managed to coexist with an economy that created somewhere around 22 million jobs.

That is just recent history.  The Center for American Progress (Rich People’s Taxes Have Little to Do with Job Creation“) put together a more comprehensive look at the relationship between the highest marginal tax rate and unemployment:

 

There are lots of factors that contribute to a thriving economy and certainly one of them is the tax system.  But given the history of the issue, conservatives should be called out every time they use their “we can’t raise taxes on the job creators” mantra. 

Enough is enough.

A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away, Radicals Didn’t Control The GOP

Once upon a time, even Republicans thought it was “nutty to fool around with the Social Security system.” 

Those words were uttered in 1988 by George H.W. Bush during the Republican presidential primary, in which Republican candidate Pierre Samuel du Pont IV proposed partially privatizing Social Security, an idea that fell flat even with the GOP electorate.

But Bush II campaigned in 2000 on the issue of personal Social Security accounts and by the time he was reelected in 2004, he thought it was time to advance the idea beyond campaign rhetoric.  In his 2005 State of the Union address he said:

As we fix Social Security, we also have the responsibility to make the system a better deal for younger workers. And the best way to reach that goal is through voluntary personal retirement accounts.

Thankfully, given what happened in 2008, we didn’t “fix” Social Security in the way that Bush II and other conservative Republicans wanted to.  Bush’s first major failure—in 2010 the former President said it was his greatest failure—of his second term was handed to him not just by Democrats and the public, who wisely didn’t warm up to the idea, but also by legislators in his own party, legislators who controlled both houses of Congress at the time.

Well, the failures in the past haven’t deterred today’s radical Republicans from attempting to enact their privatization scheme.  Paul Ryan’s original budget proposal, the so-called “Roadmap for the Future,” essentially reiterated Bush II’s 2005 idea. 

And less than two weeks ago, with not nearly enough media attention, House Republicans introduced more privatize-Social Security legislation, this version with an immediate partial opt-out of Social Security and an eventual full opt-out of the system.

The bill, H.R. 2109, was introduced by the head of the House Republican campaign committee, Pete Sessions (TX).  Get that? The head of the House Republican campaign committee introduced a bill that would effectively kill Social Security.  How bold is that?

All of this demonstrates what Luke Fuszard at Business Insider (“How Republicans Win, Even When They Lose”) describes as the GOP’s, “remarkable capability for patience in advancing its agenda.” Extremists in the party have done this by continually offering radical ideas and hoping each time that those ideas will get more mainstream support, thus moving the debate in their direction.

It’s all really beautiful, in a macabre sort of way.

Fuszard uses as his prime example of this phenomenon the once-kooky Republican ideas on tax policy and the federal budget, ideas we know today as supply-side economics.  Again, once upon a time, both parties, Republicans and Democrats, agreed that tax rates and tax revenues ought to be such that the federal government could pay its bills.

How novel a notion.

But with the rise of Ronald Reagan and the Laffers, what were once fringe ideas became mainstream ideas.  Fuszard summarizes them:

Drawing on Austrian thinking, supply-side economists advocated large reductions in marginal income and capital gains tax rates. The resulting federal deficits would be temporary, they argued, as lowering tax rates would raise the needed revenue by causing faster economic growth.

He notes that with the Reagan victory,

Liberated conservatives decoupled tax rates from balanced budgets and no longer had to insist on fiscal responsibility. The theory was political genius that was easily sold to the American public – all the growth with none of the sacrifice. Republicans were transformed from a balanced-budget party to a tax-cutting party. In 1981, Reagan slashed the marginal rates for the top tax bracket from 70% to 50%. Later he further reduced the rate to 28%.

The rest, as they say, is budget history.  We are still living with the results of this fiscal foolishness, and Republicans, including current Republican presidential candidates, are still selling it as mainstream economic thinking.

Fuszard uses Tim Pawlenty’s “Better Deal” economic plan as an example:

According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, half of Pawlenty’s $7.6 trillion in tax cuts over the next ten years would accrue to people who earn $500,000 per year or more.

There’s nothing new, unfortunately, about Republicans proposing more tax cuts for rich folks or, God help us, proposing to privatize Social Security and Medicare.

What’s new is that they can be so bold as to broadcast their intentions to the public, seemingly without much hesitation or fear.

That’s how successful their long-term strategy has been.

Remarks and Asides

Newt Gingrich’s staff has divorced him.

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Rush Limbaugh, conservatism’s coronating coroner, has pronounced Mitt Romney’s presidential ambitions dead.  The killer was Romney’s outrageously mainstream views on climate change and energy efficiency.  Reuters reported Romney, in a rare moment of consistency, said to a crowd in New Hampshire:

“I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that,” he told a crowd of about 200 at a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire.

“It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.”

Bye-bye nomination,” said climate-science denier and radio climatologist Limbaugh.  The good news for Romney is that Rush once pronounced Obama’s presidential ambitions dead in 2008. So, don’t take any shit, Mitt!

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Speaking of Mitt, for strategic reasons he has decided not to compete in the decidedly undemocratic Iowa Republican straw poll this August.  You know, that’s the poll in which, thanks to the media and the deep pocket$ of hopeful candidates, a handful of extremist conservatives get disproportionate attention and nominate either an extremist loser like Pat Robertson (1987) or, God help us, George W. Bush (1999). 

Just to put things in perspective, the victory in the poll for George W, which he said, “jump-started our grass-roots organization for the main event, the Iowa caucuses,” was achieved by purchasing—literally, purchasing—the votes of 7,418 zealots.  Those are the folks we first have to thank for the costly disaster in Iraq and the costly disaster in our economy. 

The folks we have to thank last for those costly disasters are, of course, the Republicans on our laughingly impartial Supreme Court, who put W in office.

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The state of Alaska is ready to release thousands of emails emanating from the fingertips of Sarah Palin during what the AP reports as “her first two years as governor.”  First two years?  That must be sort of an inside joke among those AP types.  Always kidding around like that.

In any case, I’m just guessing here, but I bet that we will find, upon release of the 24,000 pages of emails, that Sarah Palin is really an accomplished policy wonk. 

I’m betting that those emails will be filled with much technical analysis of the economic trends in Alaska, the United States, and the world.  I’m betting there will be back-and-forth on such macroeconomic issues as inflation/unemployment in terms of expectations-augmented Phillips curve equations, or how price and wage spirals relate to inflationary expectations. 

Stuff like that.

What? You don’t think so?  Have some faith. After all, she was the Republican VP nominee last time.  Jeeze.   

_________________________________

Finally, speaking of brilliant conservatives, there’s this report:

A new Tennessee law makes it a crime to “transmit or display an image” online that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone who sees it. Violations can get you almost a year in jail time or up to $2500 in fines.

Get that? I guess I’m gonna have to stop sending this to my conservative Tennessee friends:

Republican Math, You Know

I know much has been made about Bill Clinton’s “I hope Democrats don’t use it as an excuse to do nothing” backstage comment to Paul Ryan, about the dazzling win by a pro-Medicare Democrat in blood-red NY-26.

But let’s look at Ryan’s comment to Clinton:

My guess is it’s gonna sink into paralysis, is what’s gonna happen. And you know the math. I mean, It’s just — we knew we were putting ourselves out there. But you gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving.

Despite Ryan’s sounding like a wounded pup looking for some comfort from his master, I will give him and the Republicans credit for putting themselves “out there.” They are out there, that’s for sure. But I’m more interested in this part of Ryan’s comment:

You know the math.

Ah. The math. As columnist Gene Lyons has said, Republicans have been waging a war on arithmetic for years. Now, it turns out that Ryan knows “the math.” And he knows others “know the math.” Which doesn’t explain why, if the math is so crystal clear, why his budget plan—now the plan of the entire Republican Party—fails so miserably in its arithmetic.

Let’s forget for the moment the eventual and drastic reductions in Medicaid; let’s forget for a moment the destruction of the Medicare system, replacing it with something worth much less; let’s forget about the cuts in domestic programs like food stamps—which money goes directly in the coffers of local retailers like Wal-Mart and Target and other grocers—and instead, let’s just focus for a minute on the Republican vision for taxes—which any realistic budget mathematician has to consider—and see what we find.

We find tax cuts.

That’s right. The man and the party so concerned about “the math” propose to cut taxes even more, cutting the top individual rate from the current 35% down to 25%, which represents the lowest rate since 1931. You remember 1931, right? That was before Social Security. Before Medicare. Before Medicaid. Before Democrats stepped in to rescue America from that era’s Republican Tea Party dominance.

With a federal budget already starving from insufficient revenues, a budget that is as much a victim of Republican arithmetic as an aging population, we have Republicans in Congress—both chambers, now—proposing to cut taxes even more, suggesting, as they always do, that doing so will result in—voilà!—a thriving, prosperous, job-creating economy. You know, like the one George W. Bush left us!

Paul Ryan said to Bill Clinton, “You know the math.” Yes, we know the math, the Republican math.

And a lot of us know it doesn’t add up, not now, not ten years ago, or twenty years into the future.

Remarks And Asides

Native Americans have raised a stink about the use of “Geronimo” as either the code name for Osama bin Laden or for the mission that was designed to get him.  Some folks at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where Geronimo was imprisoned and where he is buried, have asked for President Obama to apologize for the use of the name.

Damn, Obama can’t do anything right.

_______________________________

Reuters reported that the U.S. killed two “mid-level” al Qaeda leaders in Yemen today, in a “remote province where al Qaeda is active.” No doubt, these two terrorists, who were brothers, figured it was okay to stick their heads out for a couple of days, as those boastful Americans would be too busy celebrating the death of bin Laden to notice. 

Wrong.

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Fidel Castro, who said it was bad manners to kill bin Laden in front of his family, believes that the way bin Laden perished “has turned him into a much more dangerous man.”  No. That can’t be. CNN has confirmed that bin Laden is in hell, or at least that 61% of Americans believe so.  And everyone knows that if you go to hell, you’re too busy searching for shade to perpetrate any earthly mischief.   However, I’m with Alex Parenne of Salon, who urges President Obama to release the “photographic proof” that bin Laden is, in fact, in hell, so we can settle this pressing matter.

________________________________

President Obama is in New York City today to lay a wreath at Ground Zero and meet with the families of the victims of 9/11.  He had invited President Bush to come along, but according to reports, Mr. Bush “has chosen to remain out of the spotlight during his post-presidency.”

If only Mr. Bush had chosen to remain out of the spotlight during his pre-post-presidency.

_________________________________

John Kasich, Republican governor of Ohio, who essentially declared war on public employees when he took office, declared this week, “Public Service Appreciation Week.”  Short of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad being let out of jail to lay a wreath at Ground Zero, I can’t think of a worse idea.

_________________________________

Sam Stein reports: “Health Care Repeal Is ‘Dead.’  He says that a “top Republican” concedes that legislative efforts to overturn Obama’s health care law are doomed.  I, of course, won’t believe it ’till I see the photo.

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Finally, this shouldn’t go unnoticed:

SYDNEY — Claude Stanley Choules, the last known combat veteran of World War I, died Thursday at a nursing home in the Western Australia city of Perth, his family said. He was 110.

I recommend following the link and reading a little bit about Mr. Choules, who became a pacifist later in life and wrote his first book at the age of 108.

He told ABC in November of 2009:

I had a pretty poor start, but I had a good finish.

Words to live, and die, by.

Swiftboating Obama

“Sen. Kerry approaches the world with a September the 10th mindset…”

George Bush, October 7, 2004

“Fear was Bush’s ace in the hole. The Bush campaign wanted Americans to believe that if John Kerry was elected president, their families would be killed by terrorists.”

Sen. Al Franken, on the 2004 presidential campaign

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“Senator Obama is a perfect manifestation of a September 10th mind-set. … He does not understand the nature of the enemies we face.”

Randy Scheunemann, McCain campaign adviser, June 17, 2008

 “What they’re trying to do is to do what they’ve done every election cycle, which is to use terrorism as a club to make the American people afraid.”

Barack Obama, June 17, 2008

 

In 2004, I cast my first vote for a Democratic presidential candidate. It was for John Kerry.

And John Kerry should have been president.

But Republicans have always been good at casting Democrats as panzies on national security.  They waged an almost unspeakably dirty campaign against John Kerry in 2004. Kerry was a Vietnam veteran with three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star.  Yet, Republicans managed to scare enough voters that year to get George W. Bush elected again.

I will not forget that.

On Sunday night, Barack Obama, himself a target—but thankfully not a victim—of Republican scare tactics in 2008, announced the death of Osama bin Laden. By implication, he also announced the death of the terrible Republican strategy to smear Democrats with the soft-on-terrorism label, with the idea that voters should fear Democrats because they will not keep the country safe.

But there are many on the right who are trying to resurrect that strategy. 

That’s what all the torture talk, fueled by right-wing radio and television, is all about.  Instead of directly attacking Obama for being a 98-pound national security weakling—which just wouldn’t sell now with bin Laden’s bloody mug shot about to become an Internet sensation*—they are attacking him for not seeing the light on the “fact” that waterboarding brought us invaluable information that led to the killing of bin Laden.

I saw Donald Rumsfeld this morning on Fox “News” pushing this exact idea. After giving Obama “credit” for getting bin Laden, he added,

… they campaigned against most of the structures that President Bush put in place—the structures that have protected the American people now for close to a decade, indefinite detention, Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, military commissions. They’ve reversed their positions on all of those. 

The one place they seem not to have reversed it is with respect to enhanced interrogation techniques.  I think the CIA program that included waterboarding has been discontinued, notwithstanding the fact that George Tenet, the former CIA director, and General Hayden, the CIA director, and I believe most recently Leon Panetta, have all indicated that the enhanced interrogation technique used by the CIA actually produced a great deal of important intelligence.

Of course, Leon Panetta said no such a thing. Here’s what he did say:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Can you confirm that it was as a result of water boarding that we learned what we needed to learn to go after Bin Laden?

LEON PANETTA: Brian, in the intelligence business you work from a lot of sources of information and that was true here… It’s a little difficult to say it was due just to one source of information that we got… I think some of the detainees clearly were, you know, they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of these detainees. But I’m also saying that, you know, the debate about whether we would have gotten the same information through other approaches I think is always going to be an open question.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: So finer point, one final time, enhanced interrogation techniques — which has always been kind of a handy euphemism in these post-9/11 years — that includes water boarding?

LEON PANETTA: That’s correct.

No matter how many times you read that interview, you will not find Panetta admitting that torture produced “a great deal of important intelligence.”  In fact, the White House pushed back and said essentially that there is no evidence that torture produced information leading to bin Laden.**

So, we have the same old thing here.  John Kerry, war-hero, was unconscionably smeared in order to win an election.  Barack Obama, in the midst of a great victory that eluded our two previous presidents, is being smeared for not sufficiently embracing the obviously illegal and, for many Americans, morally unacceptable, practice of torturing our prisoners.

Stay tuned. The Right isn’t finished. The swiftboating has just begun.

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* UPDATE:  NBC News reported this afternoon that President Obama has decided against releasing the photograph.

** From The New York Times:

…a closer look at prisoner interrogations suggests that the harsh techniques played a small role at most in identifying Bin Laden’s trusted courier and exposing his hide-out. One detainee who apparently was subjected to some tough treatment provided a crucial description of the courier, according to current and former officials briefed on the interrogations. But two prisoners who underwent some of the harshest treatment — including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times — repeatedly misled their interrogators about the courier’s identity.

Remarks And Asides

The most poignant post-bin Laden comment I’ve heard so far came from the sister of a woman killed on 9/11. She was glad that the last thing Osama bin Laden saw on this earth was an American bringing justice.

__________________________________

There seemed to be four threads running through the otherwise crow-eating conservative commentary on Monday: 

♦ Obama shouldn’t have given bin Laden a short Muslim send-off into the depths of the Arabian Sea.

All I can say is that ceremonies for the dead, however small, are for the living, not the dead.  And since no matter what we did with his corpse, it wouldn’t please the Muslim extremists or the conservative ones, why not feed him to the tuna?  Who knows, someday part of him may end up in a tuna casserole on the table of Ayman al-Zawahri.  Yum, yum.

♦ George Bush was the real hero of the day.

If you listened to some right-wingers on Monday, including Republican presidential hopefuls, you would have thought that George Bush ordered SEAL Team Six into Pakistan to kill bin Laden.

Forget for a moment, if you can, that 9/11 occurred on Bush’s watch.

And forget that Bush reportedly told the operative who brought him the pre-9/11 memo titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S.,” the following: “All right, you’ve covered your ass now.” 

And forget that Donald Rumsfeld, Bush’s Defense Secretary, and General Tommy Franks, who led the attacks in both Afghanistan and Iraq, had a chance to get bin Laden at Tora Bora before he escaped, but, in the words of Peter Bergen, committed “one of the greatest military blunders in recent history” by failing to do so.  By the way, both of these gentlemen were guests on Fox on Monday night and neither was asked about their blunder.

In any case, forget all that stuff but remember that George Bush famously said about bin Laden in 2002 that, “I truly am not that concerned about him.”  

He demonstrated that by invading Iraq.

♦ Torture works.

Despite conservative claims, there is no hard evidence that torturing prisoners led to the killing of bin Laden.  Khaled Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times without coughing up the real names of any of bin Laden’s couriers. In the end, it involved tedious intelligence work to discover who the relevant courier was, but speaking of torture:

♦ Bin Laden is in hell.

If hell is located at the bottom of the North Arabian Sea then, yes, he is in hell.  Otherwise, he’s just dead.

Corporate Patriotism

ThinkProgress has posted a very revealing chart from a Wall Street Journal article.  Here is the entire set of graphics from WSJ:

As you can see, a dramatic increase in job exporting—outsourcing—coincided with the Bush II presidency.  ThinkProgress on the WSJ article:

The paper notes that this is actually a sharp reversal from trends in the late 1990s, when these major companies were creating more jobs in the United States than overseas. Yet by 2001, things took a turn for the worse, and these corporations have been adding more jobs abroad than at home…

ThinkProgress also posted a pie chart of the results of a survey of “many of the nation’s most powerful corporations” that attended an outsourcing conference in 2009:

 

Not much patriotism there, ThinkProgress notes, and ends with this:

Unfortunately, for some of these companies, sending American jobs overseas isn’t enough. They also want to bring the profits back into the United States with as little tax liability as possible. Cisco Systems, which had 26 percent of its workforce abroad at the start of the decade but 46 percent of its workforce abroad by the end, is currently involved in a lobbying campaign titled “Win America” calling for a tax repatriation holiday that would let big corporations “bring money they have stashed overseas back to the U.S. at a dramatically lower tax rate.” A similar tax break in 2004 actually increased the amount of money companies store overseas.

It continues to amaze me, as our patriotic military men and women fight overseas, that corporations doing business in America persist in this domestic sin, and should we ever decide to bring our military folks home, we might have to send them back overseas looking for jobs.

Gray-Blind

As I listened to Pat Buchanan and others talk this morning about Obama’s Libyan speech, I thought how comforting it must be to live in a Manichean world, a world in which all the decisions are easy ones, a world in which uncertainty and doubt are enemies, reservation and restraint weaknesses. 

That’s the world of conservatives like Buchanan.

He told us this morning that he was initially against intervention in Libya.  But now that we have gone in we have to go in all the way and get Qaddafi.  There’s no other possible solution. There’s no middle ground. Qaddafi’s a snake who will come back to bite us later, if we don’t get him now. He must go and we—America’s war-weary men and women—have to be the ones who take him out.

Pat Buchanan—whose combat experience is limited to punching a policeman over a traffic ticket while the young conservative was in college—confidently said it would take two weeks—two weeks—and it would be over.  Then we can get the Saudi’s to fund the aftermath—whatever that is—and get the Egyptians to supply troops and on and on. 

Just like that, Pat says. 

George W. Bush famously said, “I don’t do nuance.”  Indeed. You see, as with all those who are gray-blind, their eyes will not permit them to see the nuances involved in dealing with the different players in the world and the various events that challenge us both to act and to refrain from acting, all in America’s interests. 

In Libya, wisdom seemed to indicate that we act, in Obama’s words, “to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger,” but an Iraq-like invasion “is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

In other words, Libya is a unique situation. We can and will do our part, but not the whole part. “Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake,” said the President.

Why is that so hard to understand?

The Revisionism Has Begun: George Bush Is The Hero Of Egypt

Charles Krauthammer wrote this incredible paragraph, which is only a part of the Right’s campaign to revise history and resurrect the political carcass of Bush II:

Today, everyone and his cousin supports the “freedom agenda.” Of course, yesterday it was just George W. Bush, Tony Blair and a band of neocons with unusual hypnotic powers who dared challenge the received wisdom of Arab exceptionalism – the notion that Arabs, as opposed to East Asians, Latin Americans, Europeans and Africans, were uniquely allergic to democracy. Indeed, the left spent the better part of the Bush years excoriating the freedom agenda as either fantasy or yet another sordid example of U.S. imperialism.

It’s as if the preemptive invasion and occupation of Iraq never happened.  All that is left is Bush’s and the neocon’s “freedom agenda,” which according to many on the Right is bearing fruit in Egypt today.

Here is what Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser in the W. Bush administration said recently:

The Bush administration pushed hardest on democracy in Egypt in 2004 and 2005 and got some results. 2005 is when Mubarak, for the first time, actually had a presidential election; prior to that he was selected by the parliament without even a fake election… so there was some movement in Egypt in 2004, 2005 when we were pushing hardest.

See there?  The Bushies are taking credit for fake elections!  But here is what the Brookings Institution wrote in 2009 about Bush’s efforts:

Bush’s bombastic rhetoric alienated the Egyptian president, but produced some small gains in political freedom in Egypt that were quickly reversed when Bush’s pressure on democracy let up in 2006.

Abrams also wrote a column about Bush’s “freedom agenda,” extolling Bush for a speech he gave in 2003, which defended the idea of Arab democracy and self-government. Here’s how the Washington Post presented Abrams’ column on January 29:

Egypt protests show George W. Bush was right about freedom in the Arab world

Let me see.  Why did Bush had taken an interest in Arab freedom in 2003?  What happened that year?  Oh, yeah: We invaded Iraq and took over the country and found no WMDs there, thus instead of a whoops! we got the “freedom agenda.”

In fact, here’s how the Washington Post opened its story on the speech on November 6, 2003:

President Bush today portrayed the war in Iraq as the latest front in the “global democratic revolution” led by the United States.

Those were heady days, I suppose.

Maureen Dowd wrote half apologetically last week:

President George W. Bush meant well when he tried to start a domino effect of democracy in the Middle East and end the awful hypocrisy of America coddling autocratic rulers.

But the way he went about it was naïve and wrong. “In many ways, you can argue that the Iraq war set back the cause of democracy in the Middle East,” Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations who worked at the State Department during Bush’s first term, told me. “It’s more legitimate in Arab eyes when it happens from within than when it’s externally driven.”

All of this is not to say that efforts to stir up democracy in the region by both Bush and Obama—remember the Cairo speech?—were of no effect.  But no one outside of Egypt can take credit for what has happened there and therefore the main responsibility for what happens in the future is on those inside Egypt.

We can and should do all we peacefully can to aid and abet any forthcoming Egyptian democracy, but William F. Buckley was fond of quoting John Quincy Adams in this regard:

…the American people are friends of liberty everywhere, they are custodians only of their own.

It’s just sort of pathetic that apologists for the last administration are setting the Egyptian uprising in the context of Bush’s “freedom agenda,” and using this opportunity to try to make us forget that his agenda had more to do with justifying his disastrous invasion of Iraq than anything else.

[top image from Huffington Post; bottom from Reuters]

Obama’s Socialist Chickens Are Coming Home To Roost

You may not have noticed it, given the propensity of media outlets to accentuate the economic negatives, but domestic manufacturing is improving. 

First, though, let’s review. During the Bush years almost 4½ million manufacturing jobs disappeared.  Oh? Don’t believe me?  Would you believe Patrick J. Buchanan?  Two years ago Buchanan, who isn’t exactly Eugene Debs, wrote:

Beginning and ending in recession, the Bush presidency added a net of 407,000 private sector jobs over eight years, less than 51,000 a year, the worst eight-year record since 1927-35, which includes the first six years of the Great Depression.

By January 2009, the average workweek had fallen to 33.3 hours, the lowest since record keeping began in 1964.

From Jan. 31, 2001, through Jan. 31, 2009, 4.4 million manufacturing jobs, 26 percent of all of the manufacturing jobs in the United States, disappeared.

Semiconductors and electronic component producers lost 42 percent of their jobs. Communications equipment producers lost 48 percent of their jobs. Textile and apparel producers lost, respectively, 63 percent and 61 percent of their jobs.

As a source of American jobs, manufacturing, for the first time in our history, fell below health care and education in 2001, below retail sales in 2002, below local government in 2006, below leisure and hospitality, i.e., restaurants and bars, in 2008.

Between this unprecedented loss in manufacturing capacity and jobs, and the $3.5 trillion in trade deficits in manufactured goods alone, run up by George W. Bush, the correlation is absolute.

Of course, Buchanan, ever pessimistic, saw our national doom in the numbers:

These statistics, these realities — factories closing in the United States, manufacturing jobs being outsourced in the millions to China and Asia, enormous, endless trade deficits in goods — testify to a painful truth: America is a receding and declining world power.

Not so fast, Pat.  Perhaps there is some hope for us yet. From the AP today:

U.S. manufacturers are finally adding jobs after years of shrinking their payrolls. They added 136,000 workers last year, the first net increase since 1997. And in January, the manufacturing sector added 49,000 jobs – the most in any month since August 1998.

From the Financial Times last week:

US manufacturing activity expanded last month at the fastest rate since 2004 on the strength of robust new orders and production, offering hope that the sector will add momentum to the economic recovery…

The US manufacturing sector has shown growth for the last year and a half, with activity accelerating steadily during the last six months. Fourteen of the 18 industries that ISM tracks grew in January.

“This only confirms that the US is at the leading edge of the global pick-up in manufacturing,” said Alan Ruskin, strategist at Deutsche Bank.

Wow! How can that be in the Age of Obama?

And from CNN yesterday:

Demand for capital equipment in the US is starting to pick up strongly, manufacturers say, boosting confidence in the health of the economic recovery and raising hopes of a revival in American industry.

St. Louis County-based conglomerate, Emerson, is cited as telling its investors,

that it expected non-residential investment in the US to grow by 8-9 per cent this year; as much as the average for emerging markets.

Honeywell executive David Cote is quoted as telling the Financial Times:

I do believe the US economy is more resilient now. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we’re on the comeback trail.

Wow!  With a anti-colonialist Kenyan in the White House?

And Caterpillar, “the world’s largest manufacturer of earthmoving equipment,” will spend more than $1.5 billion “in the U.S. to build capacity.”

And this:

Eaton, the Ohio-based manufacturer of industrial equipment and components, has said it expected its US sales to grow faster than its international sales this year. Sandy Cutler, Eaton’s chief executive, told the FT that demand was “far stronger than people had thought it would be”.

Oh, I know that Republicans—who instead of jobs are currently focused on the old abortion debate—will take credit for this resurgence.  Just their calming, pro-business presence in Washington, as newly installed controller of 1/2 of 1/3 of the federal government, is enough to account for this release of pent-up investment, right? 

But we know the truth: Some of the socialist policies of the anti-capitalist, America-hating, African usurper in the White House are finally coming home to roost.

Remarks And Asides

Thanks to Moe at Whatever Works, I learned that the fruits of Dan Quayle’s genius didn’t fall far from the tree.  His son, now an Arizona congressman, said:

“When I was a child, President Ronald Reagan was the nice man who gave us jelly beans when we visited the White House.

I didn’t know then, but I know it now: The jelly beans were much more than a sweet treat that he gave out as gifts. They represented the uniqueness and greatness of America — each one different and special in its own way, but collectively they blended in harmony . . . “

I happen to think Congressman Quayle is on to something.  I never saw Ronald Reagan eat a black jelly bean. 

Come to think of it, J. Danforth Quayle himself had that race thing down to a science. Speaking before the United Negro College Fund in 1989, he reengineered the group’s motto:

What a terrible thing to have lost one’s mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is.

He also said this about David Duke, the Lousiana racist who ran as a Republican:

Unfortunately, the people of Louisiana are not racists.

And finally, he told a group of American Samoans:

You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be.

Genius, pure genius.

_________________________

Speaking of genius-ness, it looks like George W. Bush will not be going to Switzerland after all.  The Decider was supposed to appear as the keynote speaker at a Jewish charity dinner in Geneva, but he made one of those courageous decisions not to attend, due to “security” reasons.

Of course, it may be, as some allege, that W. fears spending some time in the hoosegow, since criminal complaints against him for torture have been filed in Geneva courts.  According to Reuters, Reed Brody, an attorney for Human Rights Watch said:

President Bush has admitted he ordered waterboarding which everyone considers to be a form of torture under international law. Under the Convention against Torture, authorities would have been obliged to open an investigation and either prosecute or extradite George Bush,” Brody said.

Whoops. Perhaps world travel is not in the cards for our former president. Looks like Dallas’ Preston Hollow residents will have to get used to seeing W. hanging around there more often. 

_________________________

I did it!  I finally lived long enough to agree with Bill Kristol!  In his column, he said that it is “not a sign of health” that Glenn Beck “rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East…and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left.” That’s great.

But speaking of health, if only Mr. Kristol would get his own check up.  He still believes the Iraq War he helped bring to pass was the right thing to do. He has argued for U.S. military action against Iran. He strongly urged John McCain to unleash Sarah Palin on civilization.  So, I don’t think he’s exactly the right guy to pass judgment on Glenn Beck’s health, but on the right there aren’t too many right guys.

_________________________

Speaking of Sarah Palin and her continued assault on civilization, the former fractional governor of Alaska’s 20-year-old daughter, Bristol, will join in on the family’s bilking business as she gets set to release her, ahem, “memoir” this summer.  The much-awaited book is tentatively titled, “John McCain Answers Prayers.” 

Declaring Rummy

According to the Washington Post, in former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s upcoming book he writes about the failure of the post-invasion strategy in Iraq:

There were far too many hands on the steering wheel, which, in my view, was a formula for running the truck into a ditch.

At least we know now that there was in fact a hand on the steering wheel.  It sure looked like the truck cab was empty at the time.

And Rumsfeld didn’t exactly let the cat out of the bag when he wrote the following about his boss, George W. Bush:

[he] did not always receive, and may not have insisted on, a timely consideration of his options before he made a decision, nor did he always receive effective implementation of the decisions he made.

“A timely consideration of his options before he made a decision”?  Now, why would “the decider” want to do that?  According to the New York Times‘ peak at Rumsfeld’s book, just 15 days after 9/11, Bush “ordered a review and revision of war plans—but not for Afghanistan.”  The Times continues:

“He asked that I take a look at the shape of our military plans on Iraq,” Mr. Rumsfeld writes.

“Two weeks after the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history, those of us in the Department of Defense were fully occupied,” Mr. Rumsfeld recalls. But the president insisted on new military plans for Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld writes. “He wanted the options to be ‘creative.’ ”

Apparently, “creative” didn’t include, “What the heck do we do with Iraq after we blow it up, Rummy?”

Finally, supposedly Rumsfeld is critical of John McCain in his new book, saying that McCain has a “hair-trigger temper” and “a propensity to shift his positions to appeal to the media.” 

Well, he got something right.

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