Saturday, April 04, 2009

GOP criticizes Democrats for wanting to address the economic crisis, fails to see self-parody

By Greg Prince

By now many people have reviewed Eric Cantor's idiocy on the Democrats' economic proposals:

As far as Rush, Rush has got ideas. He's got following. He believes in the conservative principles that many of us believe in -- of lower taxes, of making sure that we turn back towards a focus on entrepreneurialism in this country, to promoting innovation and not stamping that out by over-reacting, if you will, which this town often does, to crisis.

John at AMERICAblog raises a couple of good points. First, saying that the Democrats are wrong to prioritize the economy probably isn't "on message" for what the American public wants to hear these days. Second, after all the whining about Rush Limbaugh not being the leader of the national GOP, it looks more than a little foolish for the number two guy in the House to keep referring to "Rush, Rush."

But there's something else here that merits some attention. The Republicans' talk of turning back toward a focus on entrepreneurialism in the country.

Perhaps a primer is in order on what "entrepreneur" means, because it ties in to what has happened with the economy, the financial crash, etc.

To be an entrepreneur typically means to employ some creative force and initiative, but even more so it means to manage and organize and most of all TO ASSUME RISK.

You understand the difference between entrepreneurship and what has been taking place in our large corporations and especially in banking, insurance, and finance? Patrons of privilege play with other people's money as if it were a parlor game, assuming no risk to themselves of the consequences. Stock goes up? You get a salary and a bonus. Stock goes down? You get salary and a bonus. You make indefensible business decisions? You get a salary and a bonus. You drive a sector into bankruptcy and crisis? You get a salary and a bonus.

These are the people the GOP has been protecting, and these activities are about as far from the entrepreneurial backbone of the economy as you can be. Privatizing the profits and socializing the losses is not sustainable as government policy, and should never have been attempted to begin with.

Obama needs to stick to his guns. The reconciliation process is a wonderful tool wherever applicable, but it's just as important to control the debate. The Democrats cannot afford to let the GOP redefine such essential terms and the principles they represent to cloud history and distract people from what has really occurred.

(Cross-posted from Greg Prince's Blog.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

When trolls attack

By Capt. Fogg

"How's the hope and change thing working out for you, moron?" reads the comment. If you're a blogger outside the red tribe, you're used to this sort of thing. You're used to the cut and paste pop culture snark bombs: how's the _____ working out, I don't think so, Hello, etc. Of course, trying to rule while wearing only the hollow crown of cynicism only exposes the nakedness and weakness of someone who has to rely on mimicking sitcom characters to simulate insight or wit; and of course the smartest people around are called morons more often than the rest of us; far more often than actual morons are. It's a fact.

Of course, if you look back at every post I've made in the last few years, you'll not find a single "hope and change"slogan. In fact if you have the patience and stomach to read all or part of it, you'll note that I'm most consistently a doom and gloom nihilist with no hope for or expectation of change, unless it be decay. Still, I'm sure the armchair assassin thinks he really scored and perhaps he's getting his 5$ per post bonus from the GOP to boot. There's nothing to be done really and as I said, I'm a nihilist and a pessimist; I expect no better from my fellow apes.

If I did, I would have to feel insulted by the assumption that I was stupid enough to think a new president -- any new president -- could reverse the damage of decades in two months: two months of sabotage and opposition by people who ran the ship aground and pay sticky-fingered troglodytes to ask how the hope and change is going for us. Need we ask how the election went for them? or how the supply side, zero regulation market thing is going? Those tax breaks for Wall Street tycoons making you rich? Hello! I don't think so!

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Americans still don't like Bush and Cheney

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Gallup: "Neither George W. Bush's deliberate silence about the Obama administration nor Dick Cheney's ready criticism of it appear to have altered U.S. public perceptions about either man. The former president and former vice president are each viewed unfavorably by 63% of Americans, very similar to where they stood with the public in their final White House years."

History won't be kind to these two. This is just the beginning.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Michelle and Carla, a battle for the ages

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Seriously, it's hard to have much respect for the mainstream new media when you see headlines like these:

-- Telegraph: "Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in palace encounter"

-- The Guardian: "Michelle Obama's fashion face-off with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy"

-- Chicago Tribune: "Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni 'smackdown'"

Okay, the first two are British, and the sensationalism of the British press is hardly new, and, fine, the Guardian piece appeared in the "Fashion" section, but it's the American headline that is the worst of the three.

I realize that Barack and Michelle are American royalty, perhaps even more so than Brad and Angelina (are they still together?), and I realize that Bruni is a popular European celebrity (and now French royalty), and so some of this was to be expected... but still, really?

It's so stupid I feel stupid just thinking about it.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Being out in public

By Mustang Bobby

As expected, some people are not happy that the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that banning same-sex marriage in the state was unconstitutional. Rod Dreher at beliefnet laments,

This morning, I had breakfast with some guys, including a lawyer. We weren't aware of this decision, but we talked about this issue. The lawyer said that as soon as homosexuality receives constitutionally protected status equivalent to race, then "it will be very hard to be a public Christian." By which he meant to voice support, no matter how muted, for traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality and marriage. To do so would be to set yourself up for hostile work environment challenges, including dismissal from your job, and generally all the legal sanctions that now apply to people who openly express racist views.

First, being a "public Christian" does not mean being a pompous, arrogant, and sanctimonious prick. A lot of people who profess their faith in public are supportive of the basic concept of Christianity, which, according to the words attributed to Jesus Christ, is to "love thy neighbor as thyself." And a lot of Christians, including a lot of denominations, support the basic concept of constitutionally protecting all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation, from discrimination and granting them the same rights as everyone else. And these Christians welcome gays and lesbians into their congregations and celebrate their marriages and families. So I guess the "public Christians" this lawyer is talking about are just the loud-mouthed asses who hijacked the faith and proclaimed themselves to be the true believers. But isn't there something in the bible that warns against false prophets?

Second, as the Anonymous Liberal notes, if Mr. Dreher's friend thinks it's tough to be a "public Christian," he should try being publicly gay. Even in enlightened cities or workplaces where discrimination against gays is illegal, there's still the stigma against being out in public, or "flaunting it" with such outrages as putting a picture of your partner on your desk or talking around the water cooler about your Friday night date with someone of the same sex. Smiles become fixed and awkward laughter ensues. Compared to the public displays of Christian faith that are accepted as the norm -- Christmas decorations, desktop nativity scenes, iconic jewelry -- being gay in public is still considered cutting-edge. Most of us still have memories of what it's like growing up gay and remember all too well the scorn, derision, and outright hatred we got from the so-called "public Christians."

So forgive me, Mr. Dreher, if I really don't give a popcorn fart about you and your offended sensibilities about not being able to publicly speak out against your fellow citizens and having to take responsibility for your bigotry and medieval superstitions. I know you're shocked at the radical idea that all citizens are entitled to the equal protection of the law, but that's how we do things in a country that aspires to democracy, not theocracy. If someone gets fired for calling someone a "faggot" the same way they would if they used the N-word around African-Americans, well, that's just the price they pay for being a "public asshole."

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Reaction in review (April 3, 2009)

A Week' Reactions that deserve a second look:


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Crowded House: 'Don't Dream It's Over' " -- Michael writes a wonderfully entertaining and personal post defending one of his favorite songs of the 80s.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Blago, indicted, and on the radio" -- Discussion of this bizarre saga's latest chapter; see also, the latest chapter of the Ted Stevens story.

By Mustang Bobby: "Equality in Iowa" -- Bobby celebrates, " I always knew that for the concept of marriage equality to really take hold in this country, it would have to come from a place like Iowa."

By Carl: "Parallel lines" -- Carl's wonderful writing shines in this very thoughtful essay, comparing a decade in the Sixties with the one that we are experiencing now.


By Boatboy: "About that ugly GOP budget projection" -- Positing that "Barack Obama isn't the problem," this very well-done guest post thoroughly examines Republican fears of the future.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "The truth about Joe the Plumber -- he's as clueless as he is stupid" -- Michael explains Joe's labor position, "
Here is a celebrity-hero-icon-myth of the right basically admitting, with a camera in his face, that he doesn't have a ... clue."


By Grace: "Next step for the green movement?" -- Grace's "techie side" spotlights the new solar-powered cell phone.

By Jim Arkedis: "And now for something completely different..." -- Jim introduces himself to his readers and posts, with considerable skill and foresight, on the potential for a new direction in U.S. - Russian relations.

By Capt. Fogg: "Der Flughaven" -- Fogg chooses a wonderfully quirky April Fool post; Czech it out!

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Minnesota Senate Recount -- update 13" -- A very useful overview of the current situation with respect to Minnesota's protracted senatorial election; see also "Senator Franken, shortly."


By J. Thomas Duffy: "Top Ten Cloves: Great things about Obama taking over General Motors" -- Another masterfully funny post counting down the advantages of your government running the auto industry (included at no cost, Bonus Mister Goodwrench President riffs).

By Carol Gee: "Cheney's dark deeds come to light" -- This post focuses on the revelations of investigative journalist Seymour Hersh regarding former Vice President Dick Cheney's questionable extracurricular activities.

By Carl: "Political triage" -- Carl's incisive analysis, of what could have been behind President Obama's decisions regarding General Motors and the auto industry, seems right on point.


By Mustang Bobby: "No, thanks" -- Bobby's great post, on being forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh, garnered 15 very interesting comments.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "The case against torture, revisited" -- Michael explores the case of Abu Zubaida, concluding, ". . .
the U.S. got it horribly wrong . . . because it didn't even understand who he really was, and needlessly subjecting him to torture (not that there should ever be a "need" to torture).

By Carol Gee: "Pluses and minuses for the administration" -- After President Obama's first two months in office, this post takes stock and checks off several administration successes.

Bonus Creature Feature: Media Criticism -- There was no breach of royal protocol; 72; Because you can never make too much fun of Glenn Beck; What I learned from cable news today; Americans still like Obama and don't blame him for everything.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Crowded House: "Don't Dream It's Over"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

One of my favourite film critics is Slate's Dana Stevens. Along with the NYT's A.O. Scott, TNR's Chris Orr, and one or two others, she's one of the few critics I look forward to reading week after week, and one of the few critics whose views I respect and whose reviews I value and learn from. I don't always agree with her, of course, but even in disagreement I find myself persuaded by her. Even if I read her before I see the movie, I'll often go back and re-read her review, re-engaging with her take and often deepening my understanding of the movie.

That said, I cannot let this go: In her review of Adventureland, the new movie by Greg Mottola (Superbad) -- a movie I'm really looking forward to -- Stevens notes that the movie's soundtrack "includes a few classic '80s touchstones (the Cure's "Just Like Heaven," the Replacements' "Unsatisfied") but also unearths worthy smaller hits like Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over." This aroused greater indignation in me than anything else I read today.

"Just Like Heaven" may be a classic '80s hit, and it may even be a touchstone of sorts, and "Unsatisfied" may be something similar, if far less so, but how is "Don't Dream It's Over" a "smaller" hit? It's one of the greatest songs of that entire decade -- and, yes, one of my favourite songs ever. Who doesn't know "hey now, hey now, don't dream it's over"? It's not just one of the greatest songs of the '80s, it's one of the few great songs of that decade that actually holds up over time. It's not dated. It's not one of those songs, like "Just Like Heaven," that one can truly appreciate only within the narrow cultural context of the '80s. Furthermore, it's not retro, a song that makes one think of one's earlier, and often more embarrassing, years, that is itself somewhat embarrassing as being from a specific time and place, a song that arouses as much laughter as nostalgia. Simply put, it's just as good now as it was then, and it's a genuine classic.

Ask around. Do people remember "Just Like Heaven"? Sure, maybe they do -- if they were Cure fans, or if they remain so even now, clinging to some long-lost youth. Do people remember "Unsatisfied"? Honestly, I doubt it -- some do, most don't. But do people remember "Don't Dream It's Over"? Yes. If they don't, just play it for them, or hum it for them, and it'll come right back. It was, and remains, far more popular than the other two songs, one of the best songs ever to come out of Australia (I'd put it ahead even of The Church's brilliant "Under the Milky Way"), a huge international hit that made Crowded House famous.

One of my friends in college, Carrie, was one of the biggest Crowded House fans ever. I was never a huge fan, more a fan of individual songs who enjoyed listening to their albums now and then, but "Don't Dream It's Over" remains for me one of my own musical touchstones. Not for any particular moment in my life, but just for being popular at a time when I was growing up, a song of that time, of my adolescence, that reminds of that time even as it transcends time and place. Pop music is all about the here and now, with so much of it stuck there, forever. Occasionally, a song, an album, maybe even an artist, breaks free and achieves greatness. I think that way of my true musical love, Pink Floyd. From the '80s, I think that way of some of The Police and some of U2 (however much I dislike them now), some of the exceptions to the musical horror of that decade. I'd put Crowded House in there, too, and especially this song.

But enough of my glowing tribute. Here it is, performed by Crowded House at their Farewell to the World concert in Sydney on November 24, 1996. Enjoy.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Blago, indicted, and on the radio

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You may have heard that ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was indicted yesterday -- along with five others, including his brother, a top fundraiser, and two former chiefs of staff -- on "political corruption charges":

The sweeping indictment comes four months after Blagojevich was arrested and charged with engaging in pay-to-play politics in a major federal complaint that accused him of trading state jobs, contracts and regulatory favors for campaign contributions.

The criminal complaint charged Blagojevich with attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama and seeking the firing of Tribune editorial writers in return for state help on the sale of Wrigley Field.

Well, good. He and his cronies are only getting what they deserve.

As I mentioned the other day, though, Blago seems to have found the makings of a new career in talk radio, filling in as a guest host on a Chicago morning show. On Tuesday, TNR's Christopher Orr posted a snippet of Blago in action:

Blago: Let's take a call or two.

Newsman: Are those headphones going to mess up your hair?

Blago: I brought my brush.

Meteorologist: You brought the football?

Blago: I'm not governor anymore, it is a smaller brush.

The football? Yes, I suppose you'd need a brush that big.

But -- oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Equality in Iowa

By Mustang Bobby

This is impressive:

The Iowa Supreme Court this morning struck down a 1998 state law that limits marriage to one man and one woman.

The ruling is viewed as a victory for the gay rights movement in Iowa and elsewhere, and a setback for social conservatives who wanted to protect traditional families.

The decision makes Iowa the first Midwestern state, and the fourth nationwide, to allow same-sex marriages. Lawyers for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group that financed the court battle and represented the couples, had hoped to use a court victory to demonstrate acceptance of same-sex marriage in heartland America.

And it was unanimous. In Iowa, too, not New York, not California, not Vermont* or some other stereotypical bastion of commie-pinko-queer liberalism, but the middle of America, both geographically and politically, and the home of common-sense live and let live.

That's the whole point. It's not that gays or lesbians or anyone else is entitled to "special rights"; we're entitled to the same rights, unless you consider spending your life and committing yourself to someone on a legal basis as "special." I always knew that for the concept of marriage equality to really take hold in this country, it would have to come from a place like Iowa.

It's not over. I'm sure that there will be a movement like there was in California to pass a constitutional amendment like Prop 8, and there will be set-backs. But no one can doubt that the momentum is building, and thanks to the Supreme Court of Iowa, it continues.

*Vermont has passed legislation to allow same-sex marriage, but the governor is threatening to veto it.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


By Creature

That's the number of jobs lost in millions since this recession began. March saw another 663,000 jobs added to that number--bringing the unemployment rate up to 8.5% and climbing. Meanwhile, we have Republicans voting to undo any stimulus that could stem this bleeding. I have to assume Republicans do not represent actual people. Because, if they did, it's hard to imagine them giving any less of a shit about their well being.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Craziest Republican of the Day: Eric Cantor

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Firedoglake's Blue Texan notes that Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), one of the leaders of the extremist ideological mob that is the House GOP, thinks that his party can win back the House in next year's midterm elections.

Maybe Britney Spears has made him crazier than usual.


There has been some confusion as to Cantor's remarks, as reported by Politico's Glenn Thrush. Did he really say that Democrats are "over-reacting" to the economic crisis? Well, he did, sort of, but maybe not so clearly.

Steve Benen has more.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Alaska Republicans hypocritically call for Begich resignation, special election

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Wait. Mark Begich beats Ted Stevens in Alaska's Senate race in November, and now Alaska Republicans, including Palin, are calling for Begich to step down and run in a special election?

Look, I agree that things have changed somewhat now that the DoJ has dropped corruption charges against Stevens, and it may well be that some Alaska voters voted the way they did because of those charges, but... what's done is done. It's over. It didn't turn out the way you wanted. Deal with it. Begich won.

Thankfully, Begich is standing firm against such partisan hypocrisy: "Today, with our country in a severe recession, it's more important than ever that we have a senator focused on fixing our economy so Alaskans have the jobs they need to support their families. That is my job in the Senate, and I'm honored to serve Alaskans for the next six years."

Carry on, Senator.

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Investing in tomorrow

By Creature

Both houses of Congress passed the basics of Obama's budget yesterday. This is good news for those of us who understand that money must be invested today for a stronger America tomorrow. As for Republicans, not only did they all sit on their hands (again), they voted in favor of insane spending freezes in the midst of the worst recession since forever. They are a sorry and misguided bunch.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Parallel lines

By Carl

I think I've told the anecdote in the past here where I was sitting on the subway, and time reversed itself.

If I haven't, forgive me, because the older I get, the more I think I'm right that we're moving backwards in time.

It was early in the Bush the Elder administration. I was sat on a subway train pulling into Times Square station on my way to work. A Wednesday, as I recall.

The train stopped suddenly, went into reverse (which trains never do), stopped again, and inched forward. I made a mental note at the time to check if time had stopped and reversed itself.

I think it has.

Mark Twain famously observed that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme. It cycles, with each cycle events occur that reflect early events, if not directly, then certainly in shape and form.

This decade, the Oughts, seems to be mirroring another recent decade: the '60s. Only not so much. And in some ways, even more.

You can mark the '60s, I think, by three events: The election and death of our youngest (and first and only Catholic) president, a hated president who followed him in office and ran and escalated a war that no one wanted and was completely unnecessary, an economic boom that had lasted nearly 50 years, and an event that galvanized the world and brought us closer, the Apollo moon missions.

Here, we see an
almost didactic opposite decade. It ends with the election of change, and began with a tradgedy not unlike the assassination of JFK in the events of September 11. In between, we've had a despised president who led us into an unwinnable and costly war.

And the event that has galvanized the world is an economic depression. The questions remaining to be resolved are how long and how will it affect the world?

Will this economic meltdown bring America and the world closer together as a family of man or will it drive deep divisions into us all, and polarize the world further?

Signs for both outcomes are around us. History is not kind in this regard: economic crises of this magnitude usually require a war to make them end. The Great Depression did not end until World War II, although the seeds of renewal were planted in the New Deal policies of the Thirties. They might have sprung up anyway, more slowly and perhaps more safely.

The flip side is the heartening news that at least some people have not lost the
vision of a world culture. We know the future can only be embraced by humanity when we decide to lay down our arms, at least the ones that can wipe out the entire planet, and work together. A single currency would begin that transition. It would help prevent the large seismic shifts in economic power that history has shown us can be even more antagonistic than even an economic meltdown.

Indeed, those imbalances can cause economic meltdowns.

History cycles, and sometimes it cycles in reverse. Perhaps this time it's possible that a war created the global economic meltdown and that a currency "exchange" (trading into this Chinese scheme) would prevent a worse war.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Senator Franken, shortly

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Jason Zengerle has a fine post up at The Plank today on just why it is that it's taking so long for Minnesota to name the winner of its 2008 Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman.

It's not just that there was a recount, or that there were so many disputed ballots, with both sides challenging, rightly or wrongly, what should and shouldn't be counted, or even that the case is now in the hands of judges, with a likely Coleman appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and then possibly to federal court, coming up. Rather, Zengerle blames the whole Blago-Burris saga.

See, Senate Democrats, who didn't really want Burris to join their ranks, demanded that Burris have a formal election certificate in order to be seated. He had one, but it was only signed by his pal Blago. It needed to be signed by the secretary of state as well. Or so it was thought. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the Blago-only-signed certificate was enough, forcing Senate Democrats to back down. Burris was seated.

Franken, who is almost certainly the winner of the election, doesn't have a certificate. (Coleman blocked that.) Senate Democrats could seat Franken provisionally, that is, pending the outcome of Coleman's legal challenges, but they can't do that given their position on the Burris appointment.

But no matter. It will take a bit more time, but Senator Franken will soon be joining the Democratic majority in the Senate as its 59th member.

(See here for all of our coverage of the Franken-Coleman election.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Whoda thunk?

By Carl

So the first "referendum" on President Obama's administration has come and gone.
Or, maybe not gone...

A mere 65 votes separated the two candidates late Tuesday in a Congressional contest in upstate New York that received national attention and was widely seen as a referendum on the Obama administration’s economic recovery efforts.

With all precincts reporting, the Democrat, Scott Murphy, a 39-year-old venture capitalist, led 77,344 to 77,279 over his Republican rival, Assemblyman James N. Tedisco, 58, for the seat vacated by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, a Democrat. The turnout was surprisingly strong for a special election.

But 10,055 absentee ballots were issued — and 5,907 received so far, state election officials said — meaning the election cannot be decided until the paper ballots are counted. Moreover, it is likely that the count may not begin until at least April 6, said Bob Brehm, a spokesman for the State Board of Elections.

Republicans held out hope of recapturing the seat in the 20th Congressional District, which is heavily Republican and stretches from the Catskills through the Albany suburbs to the Adirondacks. Democrats, meanwhile, waited to see whether their standard-bearer, a first-time political candidate who campaigned on his support for the federal stimulus package, could pull off an upset.

In that last paragraph, you read the spin for both sides. Democrats recognizing that this is a heavily Republican district, despite the fact that the last incumbent was a Democrat (now-Senator Kirsten Gillibrand). Republicans trying to paint this as some sort of upset because Obama's party did not win a clear majority.

Either way this story ultimately breaks, we've not heard the end of it. Should Murphy lose, the seat will be recontested next year. Should Tedisco lose, he has his Assembly Minority Leader job to fall back on, and can spend the next year campaigning heavily.

Indeed, the district ought to be prepared for that in either case. The district has demonstrated that despite its heavily Republican roots, it can vote Democratic pretty easily. It went for Clinton, Spitzer, and Gillibrand in 2006, Obama in 2008, and appears to have chosen Murphy in 2009.

It has been said that there are parts of upstate New York which are so red they make Alabama look liberal. This is not one of those, but it could give Kentucky a run for its red money. Conversely, this district has not shown fealty to the Democrats, either, voting in two rock stars (Clinton and Obama) and electing one Congresswoman by dint of the abject failure of the previous incumbent to comport himself and represent the district with any kind of dignity.

Indeed, the name that stands out in that list of Democrats who won recent votes in the 20th is Eliot Spitzer, but remember he was running after a hugely successful incumbency at Attorney General for the state (he was years ahead of the curve in exposing AIG's fraudulent behaviors) and the governor's seat was vacant.

Clearly, then, the spin for both sides is right and not mutually exclusive. This is a bellwhether election, but not to the degree the Republicans would want us to believe. And this district is heavily Republican, but clearly not married to the idea of voting back in a party that ruined the state and the nation after decades of rule.

At least not just yet.

The real story, in fact, is that Tedisco had a twelve point lead as late as January in this race, and lost it all back and then some to Murphy. This sums up the recent political history of this district in a nutshell.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Quote of the Day

By Creature

"I think there's a clear to desire to replace the church with a bureaucracy, and to replace people's right to worship together with a government-dominated system." -- Newt Gingrich, scaring up votes from the religious right by claiming Barack Obama wants to cancel god.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

There was no breach of royal protocol

By Creature

Whatever the fuck royal protocol is. Enough with the stupid.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

About that ugly GOP budget projection

Guest post by Boatboy

Boatboy is the author of the blog The View from the Docks.

I've been reading the various posts by several eloquent individuals who have thoroughly and effectively dissected the GOP "budget" documents. Doing so, I noticed that there is something in the data that everyone else has missed.

The GOP graph that has spawned so much ridicule shows a radical increase in federal share of GDP starting about 2030. The GOP is claiming that this upswing is a consequence of current Democratic fiscal policy. However, the upswing is two full decades out. If this were a consequence of the current administration's policies, one would expect this upswing to occur much earlier. It does not.

This tells me one thing:

Barack Obama isn't the problem.

Not Obama. Not Pelosi, nor Frank, nor Dodd, nor any of the other Democratic figures currently in power. Obama's term will end no later than January 2017, so unless the numbers are an indirect way for the GOP to assert Obama will seek to repeal the 22nd Amendment and pull an Hugo Chavez so he can play the next FDR, then Obama will not be president for more than a decade before the increase hits. The others will likely all have retired some time before the moment when this upswing occurs, so they're out, too.

So the GOP isn't all that scared of our current administration, or its policies, or its current allies. But they are deathly afraid of something.

I see four possible causes for this.

1) Somewhere there's a handful of twenty- or thirty-something Democrats that scare the pogees out of the GOP. Who these people are, where they are, and what they've done to deserve this almost irrational fear I cannot say. But the President and Congress elected in 2028 clearly deserve the lion's share of the blame for the uptick, and whoever the GOP thinks these people will be are the chief culprits. Given recent history, I'm inclined to look at the disillusioned among the veterans of the GWoT and the Iraqulous War, who are through with GOP talking points and ready for Something Completely Different.

2) The graph includes the assumption that there will be a GOP successor to Obama, who will screw up the economy so badly that the electorate will welcome Democratic proposals unconditionally, and whose legacy will require the kind of expenditure indicated. Given how thoroughly ShrubCo cooked the federal goose in eight years, this is a very real potential if the GOP continue to pursue the same policies they have for the last fifteen years. This also assumes that the GOP understands that its policies are designed to fail, which torpedoes their own arguments just as it explains their projections.

3) The increases, as Conor Clarke points out here, may be related to increases in spending on Social Security and (especially) Medicare and Medicaid. This is at once admission of the failure of private medicine, assumption that both programmes will continue unchanged, which is unlikely given that the demands on both programmes are largely driven by skyrocketing health care costs already under close scrutiny – and a blatant case of elder bashing, since the problem clearly comes from all those old folks living so long.

4) Since the graph indicates percentage of GDP, not absolute dollars spent, the GOP is predicting a total private-sector collapse in two decades. Since their current financial model is one of minimal public investment, this assumption would describe the total halt of private industry as the continually-neglected domestic infrastructure collapses. In the resultant environment, the economy would require not merely repair to but complete replacement of domestic infrastructure: roads, power transmission, water, sewer and other systems will not only need repair and expansion, but outright replacement. Replacement is a lot more expensive than simple repair. It would also require public expenditure to replace private investment, which would no longer be possible if the entire economy crashes. Again, this points to GOP budgetary constraints, and the continuing neglect of public resources fostered by the party's ideology, far more than Democratic proposals to reinvigorate the economy and maintain the public sphere.

Of the four, the first seems to me the most hopeful scenario. Each of the others implies some sort of hardship for the nation, and half the options imply that hardship is a direct consequence of GOP fiscal and domestic policies.

In any event, the graph itself gives the lie to their own rhetoric. Obama's policies by themselves are not the problem: if they were, the increase would occur far earlier. The GOP is afraid of something else. Whether it's a SuperDemocrat entering office, or their own misdeeds coming back to haunt them, or some other factor, is unclear. What is clear is that it's not the next eight years that bothers them most.

(Cross-posted from The View from the Docks.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


By Creature

That's the percentage of people who look favorably upon our first lady, Michelle Obama. That's slightly higher than her husband who stills hold the favor of 69% of the people (despite turning America into a bastion of communist/socialist/fascist thought). With numbers like these it's clear, Rush, Sean, and Glenn need to pick up their game.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

The truth about Joe the Plumber -- he's as clueless as he is stupid

By Michael J.W. Stickings

When last we checked in with Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, he was off to the Pennsylvania heartland to campaign against the Employee Free Choice Act.

Well, as you might have expected, it -- that is, campaigning for an anti-labor group in a part of the country that is built on labor -- didn't go well. As Think Progress notes: "Wurzelbacher faced a tough crowd near Pittsburgh on Monday, where union members rallied against him. He faced a similarly critical audience in Harrisburg [on Tuesday], and then "skipped a subsequent rally in Philadelphia."

But maybe it also didn't go well because, well, Joe the Plumber didn't really know what the hell he was talking about. Indeed, when asked by Keystone Progress about his opposition to the legislation, he admitted that he hasn't actually read it and, well, that:

I don't know everything about everything.

Or anything about anything, for that matter, or at least nothing about this.

It was a genuinely revealing moment. Here is a celebrity-hero-icon-myth of the right basically admitting, with a camera in his face, that he doesn't have a fucking clue. Not that not having one has stopped him from cashing in on his 15 minutes, now stretched into months, whenever possible, whether it's heading over to Israel to "report" for the right-wing insanitarium or heading off to Pennsylvania to screw America's working men and women -- in both cases, we are supposed to believe that he's just a regular working Joe telling it like it is and standing up for America when what he really is is an empty vessel for right-wing propaganda.

The good people of Pennsylvania -- have I mentioned that I love Pittsburgh? -- basically told him to fuck off, to their everlasting credit, and, in the end, he was compelled to acknowledge his utter ignorance. But the right will stand by him, you can be sure of that, and that says much more about the state of American conservatism today than it does about Joe himself, who is far too much of a stupid opportunist to know what the hell's going on and how he's just being used.

Shame on "Joe" the "Plumber," but far more shame on his enablers and cheerleaders on the right.


Watch the clip:

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Because you can never make too much fun of Glenn Beck

By Creature

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

What I learned from cable news today

By Creature

Protesters are very scary and Michelle Obama has arms.


Bookmark and Share

Next step for the green movement?

By Grace

When I was looking for a new cell phone last year, I fell in love with KDDI's au Design Project prototypes, which are very artistically designed with quirky features. They're incredibly innovative and very stylish, and unfortunately, only available in Japan (no SIM cards, so there wasn't a chance to ask a friend to bring one over here. I was considering the Infobar 2).

A lot of the designs don't make it to mass production, but they're wonderful to look at. I visit their website every once in a while to see what they've dreamed up.

Now they've come up with something incredible: a solar powered cell phone. Three different prototypes: the GEM, the Voyage and the "soup atomic element". Environmentally friendly and beautiful. Whether they can be made affordable for general public use, who knows? But it's a great idea.

Way of the future? Maybe. iPhone, eat your heart out.

(See more photos here.)

Bookmark and Share

Twitter me stupid

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Now this is truly exciting:

Consolidating its position at the cutting edge of new media technology, the Guardian today announces that it will become the first newspaper in the world to be published exclusively via Twitter, the sensationally popular social networking service that has transformed online communication.

The move, described as "epochal" by media commentators, will see all Guardian content tailored to fit the format of Twitter's brief text messages, known as "tweets", which are limited to 140 characters each.

As someone who has written for The Guardian, struggling to edit my pieces down to 1,500 or even 1,000 words, I welcome this development with open arms, enthusiastic praise, and sustained applause. (It won't be easy to applaud with my arms open to their widest, but I'll try.)

Seriously, it's about time. Who has the patience, determination, time, and intellectual resources these days to make it all the way through a news article, let alone an opinion piece? The world is moving faster and faster, our lives are moving faster, and we just don't have the luxury anymore of sitting down with a cup of tea, or whatever your beverage of choice happens to be, and struggling through so many... words. Plus, grammar is so yesterday. The kids aren't into it, and can you blame them? Why make life more difficult than it has to be? (And don't even get me started on spelling. I mean, who cares?)

Even this blog... what's the point? Even our shorter posts verge on inexusable excess. We all know that the print newspaper industry is more or less dead. Well, so is the blogosphere. I mean, the freedom is great, and it's been a lot of fun to come out here day after day and spill my thoughts out into the virtual world, but I realize now that I must adapt, change with the times, maybe even a little ahead of the times. And the future is Twitter, which is sort of like the blogosphere, except that posts are, like, a line or two at most, and where we can hurl our opinions out into oblivion with relentless self-indulgence. Seriously, who needs a thousand words for anything? That's just too much, and you're just being selfish if you think otherwise.

The economic crisis? If you can't express yourself in 140 characters or less, then keep your opinions to yourself. Afghanistan? Same. As Rush once put it, "Conform or be cast out." (But if you want to intersperse your opinions with updates on every little facet of your life, from your eating habits to your bowel movements, hey, more power to you.)

Bow down, my friends. The stupidification of civilization is upon us. Smile, get with the program, and tweet away.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Quote of the Day

By Creature

"It's a terrible number. It is almost a loss of three quarters of a million jobs which is possibly the highest we have seen so far over the length of this crisis." -- foreign exchange trader Matt Esteve, reacting to the 742k jobs lost in March. These numbers are numbing.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

And now for something completely different...

By Jim Arkedis

Hi everyone -

For the past several weeks, Michael has been kind enough to cross-post a few pieces I've written for my own national security/foreign policy blog -- AllOurMight. A few days ago, Michael asked me to join The Reaction as a co-blogger, and I readily accepted. I aim to do several posts here per week, though my primary home on the internets will remain AllOurMight.

By day, I run the National Security Project at the Progressive Policy Institute -- a Washington, DC think-tank that pushes a centrist-progressive message. I'm also a member of the Truman National Security Project, which is a kind of cabal of center-left security/foreign policy practitioners. And prior to all this, I slaved away in the bowels of the Washington Navy Yard as a counter-terrorism analyst for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, or NCIS. ("Wait!" I can hear you giggle, "Isn't that a TV show on CBS with Mark Harmon?" Indeed.)

My areas of interest are quite diverse in the security/IR sphere, but generally stick to terrorism, defense spending, intelligence, Russia, European politics, Israel/Palestine, and the obligatory Iraq and Afghanistan.

And with that, here's my first post:

Mr. Medvedev Misses the Point

What’s missing in the first paragraph of Russian President Medvedev’s Washington Post op-ed?

It is hard to dispute the pessimistic assessments of the Russian-American relationship that prevailed at the end of last year. Unfortunately, relations soured because of the previous U.S. administration’s plans — specifically, deployment of the U.S. global missile defense system in Eastern Europe, efforts to push NATO’s borders eastward and refusal to ratify the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. All of these positions undermined Russia’s interests and, if implemented, would inevitably require a response on our part.

Now I’ve read that paragraph a good three times, and I still can’t find the words “invaded Georgia” or “keep shutting the gas off to Europe” anywhere.

In one sense, it would be easy to move past such omissions by chalking them up as a sunk cost towards greater diplomatic progress. “Sigh…” says the wistful American diplomat, “Oh well, that’s how the Russians will always be. But we’ve got bigger fish to fry - on to the next item!”

This is a tough pill to swallow - the Obama administration obviously wants to move forward with Russia, and that is an unambiguously good thing. But if Medvedev’s government is going to retain the Soviet-era mindset that eschews any notion of accountability, Russo-American relations will remain difficult. Without a sense of national responsibility for the strained relations, Russia simply won’t feel like it should make the big compromises necessary. If you haven't done anything wrong, why give some thing away?

What to do? I’d suggest a dual-track: Begin with areas of known mutual interest, like the need for a new START. Pun intended. Simultaneously, soften them up to admitting (publicly) their fair share of the blame. This approach builds basic confidence while impressing the need for accountability. Diplomacy with Russia needs both.

(Cross-posted to AllOurMight.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

The GOP budget

By Creature

Crafted as if we weren't in the depths of the worst recession since forever. These are very unserious people (taken way too seriously, unfortunately).

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Credit to Clinton

By Creature

I know it's a bit early to declare success out of Obama's first overseas trip, but with good Iran news, good Russia news, and good China news I have to say he is off to a strong start. I credit our new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her State Department for this. They're making their boss look good.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Der Flughaven

By Capt. Fogg

The average flight delay at FKI is 30 hours longer than next worst airport and the customer service help line connects you to a hat store in Stuttgart, but that's just a minor criticism of Prague's Franz Kafka International Airport. Corridors end in the middle of nowhere and you're likely to spend an eternity in the security check, or should I say Czech.

No, I'm not making it up. You can't make this stuff up, unless you actually are Kafka and of course you couldn't pick a better name for the labyrinthine, frustrating and surreal airport. Czech it out and maybe next time JFK won't seem quite so bad!

And for heaven's sake, don't put FKI on your itinerary on April 1st!


Bookmark and Share

Minnesota Senate Recount -- update 13

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Wait... what? It's still going on? It's not over yet? Yup.

It's been quite some time since our last few updates from early January -- and you can find all of our Minnesota-related posts here -- but, desipte the inevitable inevitabiliyt of it all, there's still no Senator Franken.

At long last, though, it's almost over. Almost:

Norm Coleman's lawyers all but conceded defeat Tuesday and promised to appeal after a panel of three judges ordered no more than 400 new absentee ballots opened and counted, far fewer than the Republican had sought to overcome the lead held by DFLer Al Franken.

The ballots include many that Franken had identified as wrongly rejected as well as ballots that Coleman wanted opened in his quest to overcome the 225-vote lead that Franken gained after a recount in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race.

"We are very pleased," said Franken lead lawyer Marc Elias shortly after the ruling, which calls for ballots to be opened next week.

Oh, but that was just a battle, not the war, and Coleman may yet take his fight to the next level, the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Maybe now would be a good time for the media to start paying a bit more attention to Coleman's other ongoing legal problems.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Top Ten Cloves: Great things about Obama taking over General Motors

By J. Thomas Duffy

News Item: Your Government, Running The Auto Industry

10. Presidential limo now covered by the new government warranty

9. Extra discount if you say you plan to drive your GM car sleeveless

8. Next year, GM Execs get to watch Super Bowl at the White House with the president

7. GM employees' children get to play on that great swing set at the White House

6. GM cars, with doors open, about the same span as president's ears

5. Bonus Bonus - When you buy a new GM car, before you drive off the lot, Rick Warren comes and gives it an invocation

4. Safer Roads - To purchase a GM car, you have to go through a vigorous vetting process

3. GM Executives can now use Air Force One to fly to meetings

2. All GM models will come with teleprompter installed as standard equipment

1. Any problems with your GM car? ... Blame Bush!

Bonus Mister Goodwrench President Riffs

Sam Youngman and J. Taylor Rushing: President Obama’s auto plan throws lawmakers

Conor Clarke: Is Obama's Auto Plan "Unprecedented"?

The Anonymous Liberal: Does the Press Corps Understand What Bankruptcy Is?

DownWithTyranny: Is GM Headed For Bankruptcy Afterall?

Megan McArdle: Whither GM?

What's Good For Tesla Motors ...

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Agree to disagree

By Carl

Say what you want about Obama's policies so far in his term,
he's put European leaders in a quandry:

Washington - The new American president's debut on the world stage, beginning Tuesday in London in advance of the Group of 20 meeting, is sure to have its share of "Hello!" magazine moments and glamour. He will, after all, meet with Queen Elizabeth II, an established member of the thin upper crust of global personalities and an international rock star in her own right.

But President Obama may be speaking sotto voce and out of the spotlight while in the company of presidents and prime ministers. That's because he is expected to articulate positions and prescriptions that are out of step with leaders from Western Europe, China, Russia, India, and beyond – on issues ranging from the global economic crisis to the war in Afghanistan.

Indeed, Mr. Obama may well find himself in the inverse position from where George W. Bush stood by the end of his White House run. Whereas Mr. Bush enjoyed greater cooperation and like-mindedness with many key foreign leaders, though he remained unpopular with the international public, Obama is expected to encounter an adoring public but a deep skepticism – even resistance – among heads of state.

England has already made conciliatory and supportive comments for Obama ahead of the summit, but the current leader of the European Union, the Czech Mirek Topolanek, has all but said Obama will drag Europe to damnation.

Pretty strong words from a diplomat, to be sure.

The pressing issue for this summit is the economic crisis. Obama has made some curious statements with respect to "more stimulus" from the European Union. Here's why this sounds sort of flat.

The European Union as a whole has the largest economy in the world, on a par with the US (currency fluctuations can have one or the other as the larger, so it's just easier to call them the same size). The difference is, the European Union has already invested the spending in the areas that Obama wants to port to America: healthcare, infrastructure, advanced energy technologies, green technologies, and so on.

The trade-off Europe makes in its GDP and its economic growth is this: its labor force is about 50% bigger than the United States, yet generates "only" as much revenue as we do. This means that much of its growth potential is tied up in taking care of its citizenry.

This is a good thing, but the downside to this equation is that this hurts them in terms of having a cushion from which to increase spending. Europe has a group commitment to see that deficits for individual states do not exceed 3% of the individual GDP, so deficit spending is not an option. So what little surplus the states may have is going to have to involve cuts to either its population or to its business models (read that as higher taxes), neither of which is an attractive option in a faltering economy.

So you can understand why European leaders are hesitant to jump on the US bandwagon here.

On the other hand, the general populations of the European nations look to Obama in many of the same ways they looked to Bill Clinton. He is a rock star, accorded rock star status by some truly legitimate rock stars like Bono, and as such will have powerful sway over public opinion.

Worse than that for European leaders, lets assume the average European is about as informed as the average American, e.g. they watch the TV news and then extrapolate to their lives. They're going to see Obama browbeating the EU for more spending and they're going to look around and realize that their friends are out of work, their mortgage payments are harder and harder to make, and the roads need repair.

As we've seen in America, if a politician promises to put more money in your pocket, he stands a very good chance of persuading you to his side. Couple this with the general attitude in Europe that governments ought to fear the people, rather than the other way around (this holds truer in "Old Europe," like France), and you have pretty enormous pressure for EU leaders to capitulate and throw money at problems.

I haven't looked at Obama's specific European recommendations but I suspect he'd call for more green technology spending, particularly in former Soviet republics like the Czech Republic... which is why Topolanek is crying "Uncle." After all, these are the economies with the most potential to grow quickly if cheap energy sources can be made available, manufacturing and industry were already solid performers there.

I would imagine Obama has asked for a stronger commitment to fighting global warming, although his footing here is unsteady, given the recent American stance on this issue and the Kyoto protocols, as well as the upcoming Copenhagen summit on this very topic.

Finally, the contention that NATO needs to strengthen its commitment to Afghanistan is tied into helping America out of it economic crisis. After all, every additional euro President Obama can wrest out of the EU is one and a half dollar less he has to spend there.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Fix it again, Tony?

By Mustang Bobby

When the president announced that he was giving Chrysler thirty days to work out an alliance with Fiat, the first thing I thought of was the ill-fated merger in the 1950s between two dying auto companies in the United States: Studebaker-Packard.

A bit of automotive history here. After the Great Depression and World War II, the auto industry, which at one time had over 100 manufacturers in the U.S. alone, was down to a handful that consisted mainly of General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Nash, Hudson, Studebaker, and Packard. When post-war production began again, it took nearly four years for the big companies to get newly-designed products out; the first cars in 1946 were basically warmed over models from 1941.

However, the smaller companies, like Studebaker, were able to get new designs out faster, but they couldn't keep up with the demand thanks to their antiquated plants, and by the mid-1950's, Nash and Hudson were struggling. They merged in 1954, creating American Motors, and stayed alive. Studebaker and Packard had trouble finding their footing, and in what was seen as a move of desperation, also joined forces in 1954. It was a bad fit; neither company was a match for each other.

Before the war, Packard was a luxury marque that competed with Cadillac, while Studebaker was more geared to the middle class; "Aunt Bee" drove a Studebaker. Each company thought the other was the savior, but the two halves didn't make a whole, either in terms of cash or market share. They built cars that attracted a lot of attention (see the interesting 1958 Packard Hawk below) but not a lot of buyers, and the recession of the late 1950s doomed a company that couldn't respond quickly enough to the new demand for compact cars like the Ford Falcon or the Dodge Dart. Even successful cars like the Studebaker Lark and the exotic Avanti couldn't hold up a company that was still working out of a plant and hierarchy that was a business model from the 1920s.

Studebaker built its last car in 1966 in its plant in Hamilton, Ontario, and today the vestiges of the auto giant is Studebaker-Worthington Leasing, "a subsidiary of Main Street Bank -- Kingwood Texas, which provides leasing services for manufacturers and resellers of business products and industrial products."

The circumstances are certainly different for Chrysler today, but I can't help but think that a shotgun marriage with Fiat is doomed. Chrysler has already proved it doesn't play well with others; its 1980s alliance with Mitsubishi and their ill-fated merger with Germany's Daimler are proof enough, and Fiat's reputation in the United States was tarnished by selling cheap cars that didn't hold up well on the American road; the joke was that the name stood for "Fix It Again, Tony." And it has a guilt by association with the disastrous venture known as the Yugo, which was basically a Yugoslavian Fiat.

For good or ill, when it comes to cars, the American public has a long memory. In spite of major improvements in quality, Detroit is still suffering from the stigma of poor quality cars that lost out to the Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s.

On the one hand, I would hate to see Chrysler go out of business. It would be a terrible blow to a lot of people, including a lot of people in my home town of Toledo, home of the Jeep. But if they can't build something that people want and do it in a profitable way, they're on the road to ruin anyway.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Quote of the Day

By Creature

"So far, there’s nothing pointing to a fundamental turnaround this year, or next, or for that matter as far as the eye can see." -- Economist Paul Krugman, warning us not to see the small glimmers of economic hope as anything more than a 1931-style head fake. I hope Krugrman's wrong, but he hasn't been so far.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Americans still like Obama and don't blame him for everything

By Creature

If one thing is clear from today's ABC News/WaPo poll, it's that the conversation happening in the Beltway regarding our new president and his handling of the economy is not the conversation happening on Main Street.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Cheney's dark deeds come to light

By Carol Gee

Seymour Hersh, perhaps one of the best investigative journalists in the news business, writes for The New Yorker magazine. His revelations about former Vice President Richard Cheney's activities over the years curl the hair of many readers. Hersh has been out and about for the past three weeks, and he is making news as he goes.

Hersh appeared Monday on Andrea Mitchell's news show on MSNBC, discussing his most recent article regarding recent happenings in the Middle East. The main point of his piece is that President Obama will likely be able to change the dynamics there. The headline was revealing "Seymour Hersh: Obama helped end Israel's Gaza offensive," from The Raw Story (3/29/09). Hersh also discussed the very real possibility for an agreement between Syria and Israel over the Golan Heights. And Syria's President Assad might want President to broker the deal. But Cheney could not stand the thought that Obama might have success as a peacemaker. So he tried to poison the new President's chances for deal effectively with Israel. To quote:

When former Vice President Dick Cheney learned that Obama had been putting pressure on the Israelis, he angrily disparaged him as "pro-Palestinian" and described him as someone who would "never make it in the major leagues."

Not content to write a book, join a think tank, or hold forth from his home in Virginia, Cheney has been making the rounds of the cable news shows trying to sabotage President Obama's success as President. And some have suggested that the public activity could be due to his increased concern about recent revelations of what he did as Vice President, i.e., "the best defense is a good offense."

Cheney suggested in recent weeks to CNN's John King that the country is now less safe with Obama as President. According to Glenn Greenwald in, "The outrageous offenses against Richard Cheney" (3/17/09), to quote, "Dick Cheney . . . accused Barack Obama . . . of lying to the public about his domestic politicies, taking advantage of the financial crisis to foist enlarged government on unsuspecting citizens, and leaving us all more vulnerable to slaughter by the Terrorists."

Greenwald's post was mostly about the subsequent media flap about Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' dismissive comments about Cheney's appearance on CNN. Greenwald rightly takes the reporters to task who were offended by Gibbs' Cheney characterization, saying "Of all people, journalists ought to be embarrassed to publicly play the role of decorum enforcers when it comes to how the politically powerful are treated."

Notably King did not ask Cheney anything about Seymour Hersh's most astonishing revelation, made at the University of Minnesota around the middle of the month. AlterNet, ran that story March 11, 2009: "Seymour Hersh: " 'Executive Assassination Ring' Reported Directly to Cheney Office#," To quote: "Under President Bush's authority, they've been going into countries ... finding people on a list and executing them and leaving." Blogger, emptywheel, that same day brought a great deal of clarity to the story with an explanation of how it worked, who in the government participated and where the operations took place. The title is as simple as it is shocking: "Cheney's Assassination Squads."

On the question of whether assassination squads are legal, the pertinent document is perhaps Executive Order 12333 signed by President Ford in 1975 and upheld by President Reagan in 1981 and others since then. It says, “No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.” There are a couple of exceptions that have to do with armed combat situations, or if specifically authorized by the President. Credit emptywheel for, "Pixie Dust and Cheney's Assassination Squads," (3/13/09). This story explores "pixie dust" as revealed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in 2006. "Pixie dust" is the practice of changing EOs without making any public record of the change. The post concluded,

It's all very nice that every President since Ford has upheld the prohibition on assassination in EO 12333. But in the era of pixie dust, that doesn't mean Bush also upheld it, even if it looks like he did.
After the Iran-Contra scandal, legislation was enacted to require that CIA covert operations be authorized via a "Presidential Finding," and that the Gang of Eight in Congress be briefed about the operations and authorize special funding. But similar military operations, according to OLC memos, gave President Bush and the military authority to order such activities under the Authorization to Use Military Force, AUMF. Congress was, thus not told about the actions of the military's Joint Special Operations Command , JSOC. Important details of the history of covert operations since the Reagan administration are in another in the very useful series by emptywheel (3/23/09), "Cheney's Assassination Squads and Iran-Contra Findings." To quote:
I've been talking about how Cheney had clearly integrated lessons learned from all his previous [Iran-Contra] scandals and I'm glad that Hersh has now confirmed that.

But consider what this means in regards to the disclosure that the covert ops going on in Iran and the rest of the Middle East. The "lessons learned" meeting concluded that:

  • It is desirable to run covert ops off the books by finding funding from non-congressional sources

  • To succeed such ops must avoid any revelations to Congress and most revelations to the CIA and Defense

  • Such ops should be run out of the VP's office directly

Richard Cheney, native to my home state of Wyoming, needs to go back to his own home now. His time in the public eye should be over, unless we can observe him getting the justice he is due. Otherwise, he needs to just move on.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share