Greg Muttit, author of the book Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, interviewed by Chris Nineham from Stop the War Coalition. Video by Silvana Faria.
Former Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs General Hugh Shelton Drops A Bomb On Jon Stewart: “We Were Willing to Kill a U.S. Soldier On Purpose to Start the Iraq War”
From John Aravosis
At what point will Democrats on the Hill learn that this man is not their friend. He singlehandedly brought down Democratic control of the House, and now he’s still playing the “pox on both your houses” game.
This is a blueprint for this President’s approach to any problem. Rationalize, then cave. He actually thinks he’s a hero. The problem is that this President doesn’t understand that he keeps agreeing to deals that are far less than he could have gotten had he simply tried.
It’s not about not preferring compromise, and anyone who thinks that that’s what this is about is a fool. It’s about always preferring compromise, and worse, compromising with yourself. It’s about always striving for less because you just can’t bring yourself to fight for anything.
In brief remarks Monday evening, Obama said he was disappointed that the deal would extend breaks for the wealthiest households, but he warned Democrats not to make good on threats to allow all the cuts to expire, as an expression of the party’s opposition to preserving the top-rate cuts. “Sympathetic as I am to those who would prefer a fight to compromise — it would be the wrong thing to do,” the president said. “The American people didn’t send us here to wage symbolic battles.”And that is the problem, isn’t it. The President just can’t conceive of actually fighting for anything, and in fact, he seems to view the notion with distaste.
So, yes, if you’re afraid/don’t know how to/don’t believe in fight(ing), you would per se see any fight as symbolic because you know you’re going to lose, simply because you’re opening strategy is always to throw the fight.
Symbolic battles. Try symbolic presidency.
Lawmakers may embrace plans by President Barack Obama’s debt commission to curb the costs of Social Security and $1 trillion in tax breaks even as comprehensive deficit reduction hinges on whether both parties seek confrontation or accommodation.Gee, who’da thought? (Sucker.)
Note this list of names, from Digby. Suspects all:
This view about Social Security is backed up by Peter Orszag, recently departed from the administration (and reportedly headed to Citi), Dick Durbin, the president’s proxy in the Senate, ex-labor leader Andy Stern along with numbers of Democratic Senators, signaling that Social Security really is on the menu.Orszag is a known quantity, a made man. But Durbin and Stern still have some cred. Watch them carefully, especially Durbin. He’ll be re-burnishing lib-cred shortly. Don’t be dazzled.
You knew this was a war, didn’t you? Gird up; it’s (sadly) the times we were born to. Others have had it this bad; it just bad luck. When the Romans marched in, everything changed, and no one got a vote on it. Sucks to be us, but hey.
Note of hope — watch the House. If they have to re-vote on what the Senate vomits up, things could get interesting. Got a local “Democrat” representative? Sharpen those quills (politely, of course) and write.
UPDATE: Cave confirmed. Sam Stein of Huff Post is on Countdown now (hosted by the intelligent Sam Seder) calling the deal a “capitulation.”
UPDATE 2: Conyers is opposed, and Sanders (via The Ed Show) may filibuster. One can only hope.
And by the way, Ezra and others continue to misunderstand what the Republicans were really after here. As I’ve said ad nauseum they want the tax cuts to be temporary because they want to have this fight over tax cuts to continue into the presidential campaign. If the President agreed to extend the tax cuts permanently, the issue would be off the table and that’s not to their advantage. (Believe me, the business community is not really *uncertain* about anything at this point.)
Yes, it’s better that they didn’t extend them permanently, but are liberals looking forward to this argument two years from now? (And will there ever be any circumstances that will make it easier for them to expire than there were in the spring of 2009?) It’s a missed opportunity, and one which I suspect was always planned to miss. The Bushies knew what they were doing when they rigged this one and it would have taken a Democratic party and a president much more brave and populist than the ones we have to undo it.
I mean, I get that unemployment benefits could stand an extension, to be certain. Why not put that to an up-or-down vote on its own merits and let the Teabaggers and their relatives see what they have wrought?
Why not, for deficit reduction sake, let the goddamn moronic Bush tax cuts just die and pass a new set of targeted tax cuts?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the Republican whip, told different interviewers that they expect Congress to vote for the tax cuts, which have been in effect for almost a decade, to continue unaltered for at least several years in exchange for an agreement to extend an emergency unemployment program that expired last week for millions of people.“Obviously, the president won’t sign a permanent extension of the current tax rates. So we’re going to have some kind of extension. I’d like one as long as possible,” McConnell told host David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Moments later, he added: “I think we will extend unemployment compensation… We’re working on that package… I think we’re going to get there.”We are trading the long-term benefits of a tax increase on those who are doing quite nicely in the current economy, thank you, for a few weeks’ extension of benefits.We can do better. I think if we tied the unemployment benefits to a jobs creation bill (and there has to be at least one in the hopper now), it sends a far better message that Congress, this Democratic Congress, has the interests of the working and middle classes at heart, and then let the tax cuts die just to prove it.We’re going to have to restructure taxes next session anyway, and the Democrats, curiously, will have a bigger say in that, since they don’t have to wrangle 60 votes in the Senate.Weird to say, huh? They had a 60 vote minority, and the influence of asshats from sparsely populated states like Nebraska and Arkansas was grossly overstated because of it. Now, we can basically tell the Nelsons and Lincolns of the Congress to fuck off. (I know, Lincoln lost. Good riddance.) Your “services” are no longer required.We’ll fight this fight on ideology now.
After reading the details of the Obama/Republican tax cut deal, some Left leaning economists seemed at least not hostile to it. Yesterday morning, Jamie Galbraith skewered the President for agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts exclusively targeting the wealthiest Americans, but by that evening, after the President announced details of the deal, he reportedly called the agreement “defensible“. Brad Delong suggested the tax proposal amounted to a new stimulus, and perhaps even a “big win” for Obama, though later he conceded the plan produced “relatively low bang-for-buck“.
Dear Conservative Americans,
The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You’ve lost me and you’ve lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I’d like to give you some advice and an invitation.
First, the invitation: Come back to us.
Now the advice. You’re going to have to come up with a platform that isn’t built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more. But you have work to do even before you take on that task.
Your party — the GOP — and the conservative end of the American political spectrum have become irresponsible and irrational. Worse, it’s tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred. Let me provide some examples — by no means an exhaustive list — of where the Right as gotten itself stuck in a swamp of hypocrisy, hyperbole, historical inaccuracy and hatred.
If you’re going to regain your stature as a party of rational, responsible people, you’ll have to start by draining this swamp:
You can’t flip out — and threaten impeachment - when Dems use a parliamentary procedure (deem and pass) that you used repeatedly (more than 35 times in just one session and more than 100 times in all!), that’s centuries old and which the courts have supported. Especially when your leaders admit it all.
You can’t vote and scream against the stimulus package and then take credit for the good it’s done in your own district (happily handing out enormous checks representing money that you voted against, is especially ugly) — 114 of you (at last count) did just that — and it’s even worse when you secretly beg for more.
You can’t call for a pay-as-you-go policy, and then vote against your own ideas.
Are they “unlawful enemy combatants” or are they “prisoners of war” at Gitmo? You can’t have it both ways.
You can’t be for immigration reform, then against it .
You can’t flip out when the black president puts his feet on the presidential desk when you were silent about white presidents doing the same. Bush. Ford.
You can’t flip out when the black president bows to foreign dignitaries, as appropriate for their culture, when you were silent when the white presidents did the same. Bush. Nixon. Ike. You didn’t even make a peep when Bush held hands and kissed leaders of countries that are not on “kissing terms” with the US.
You can’t complain that the undies bomber was read his Miranda rights under Obama when the shoe bomber was read his Miranda rights under Bush and you remained silent. (And, no, Newt – the shoe bomber was not a US citizen either, so there is no difference.)
You can’t attack the Dem president for not personally* publicly condemning a terrorist event for 72 hours when you said nothing about the Rep president waiting 6 days in an eerily similar incident (and, even then, he didn’t issue any condemnation). *Obama administration did the day of the event.
You can’t throw a hissy fit, sound alarms and cry that Obama freed Gitmo prisoners who later helped plan the Christmas Day undie bombing, when — in fact — only one former Gitmo detainee, released by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, helped to plan the failed attack.
You can’t mount a boycott against singers who say they’re ashamed of the president for starting a war, but remain silent when another singer says he’s ashamed of the president and falsely calls him a Maoist who makes him want to throw up and says he ought to be in jail.
You can’t support the individual mandate for health insurance, then call it unconstitutional when Dems propose it and campaign against your own ideas.
You can’t be both pro-choice and anti-choice.
You can’t condemn criticizing the president when US troops are in harms way, then attack the president when US troops are in harms way , the only difference being the president’s party affiliation (and, by the way, armed conflict does NOT remove our right and our duty as Americans to speak up).
You can’t be both for cap-and-trade policy and against it.
If you push anti-gay legislation and make anti-gay speeches, you should probably take a pass on having gay sex, regardless of whether it’s 2004 or 2010. This is true, too, if you’re taking GOP money and giving anti-gay rants on CNN. Taking right-wing money and GOP favors to write anti-gay stories for news sites while working as a gay prostitute, doubles down on both the hypocrisy and the prostitution. This is especially true if you claim your anti-gay stand is God’s stand, too.
When you chair the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, you can’t send sexy emails to 16-year-old boys (illegal anyway, but you made it hypocritical as well).
You can’t criticize Dems for not doing something you didn’t do while you held power over the past 16 years, especially when the Dems have done more in one year than you did in 16.
You can’t spend more than 40 years hating, cutting and trying to kill Medicare, and then pretend to be the defenders of Medicare
You can’t praise the Congressional Budget Office when it’s analysis produces numbers that fit your political agenda, then claim it’s unreliable when it comes up with numbers that don’t.
You can’t vote for X under a Republican president, then vote against X under a Democratic president. Either you support X or you don’t. And it makes it worse when you change your position merely for the sake obstructionism.
You can’t call a reconciliation out of bounds when you used it repeatedly.
You can’t demand everyone listen to the generals when they say what fits your agenda, and then ignore them when they don’t.
You can’t whine that it’s unfair when people accuse you of exploiting racism for political gain, when your party’s former leader admits you’ve been doing it for decades.
You can’t complain about a lack of bipartisanship when you’ve routinely obstructed for the sake of political gain — threatening to filibuster at least 100 pieces of legislation in one session, far more than any other since the procedural tactic was invented — and admitted it. Some admissions are unintentional, others are made proudly. This is especially true when the bill is the result of decades of compromise between the two parties and is filled with your own ideas.
You can’t preach and try to legislate “Family Values” when you: take nude hot tub dips with teenagers (and pay them hush money); cheat on your wife with a secret lover and lie about it to the world; cheat with a staffer’s wife (and pay them off with a new job); pay hookers for sex while wearing a diaper and cheating on your wife; or just enjoying an old fashioned non-kinky cheating on your wife; try to have gay sex in a public toilet; authorize the rape of children in Iraqi prisons to coerce their parents into providing information; seek, look at or have sex with children; replace a guy who cheats on his wife with a guy who cheats on his pregnant wife with his wife’s mother;
You really need to disassociate with those among you who:
- assert that people making a quarter-million dollars a year can barely make ends meet or that $1 million “isn’t a lot of money”;
- say that “Comrade” Obama is a “Bolshevik” who is “taking cues from Lenin”;
- ignore the many times your buddies use a term that offends you and complain only when a Dem says it;
- liken political opponents to murderers, rapists, and “this Muslim guy” that “offed his wife’s head” or call then “un-American”;
- say Obama “wants his plan to fail…so that he can make the case for bank nationalization and vindicate his dream of a socialist economy”;
- equate putting the good of the people ahead of your personal fortunes with terrorism;
- smear an entire major religion with the actions of a few fanatics;
- say that the president wants to “annihilate us”;
- compare health care reform with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a Bolshevik plot the attack on 9/11,or reviving the ghosts of communist dictators (update: it’s also not Armageddon);
- equate our disease-fighting stem cell research with “what the Nazis did”;
- call a bill passed by the majority of both houses of Congress, by members of Congress each elected by a majority in their districts, an unconscionable abuse of power, a violation of the presidential oath or “the end of representative government”;
- shout “baby killer” at a member of Congress on the floor of the House, especially one who so fought against abortion rights that he nearly killed health care reform (in fact, a little decorum, a little respect for our national institutions and the people and the values they represent, would be refreshing — cut out the shouting, the swearing and the obscenities);
- prove your machismo by claiming your going to “crash a party” to which you’re officially invited;
- claim that Obama is pushing America’s “submission to Shariah”;
- question the patriotism of people upholding cherished American values and the rule of law;
- claim the president is making us less safe without a hint of evidence;
- call a majority vote the “tyranny of the minority,” even if you meant to call it tyranny of the majority — it’s democracy, not tyranny;
- call the president’s support of a criminal trial for a terror suspect “treasonous” (especially when you supported the same thing when the president shared your party);
- call the Pope the anti-Christ;
- assert that the constitutionally mandated census is an attempt to enslave us;
- accuse opponents of being backed by Arab slave-drivers or of being drunk and suicidal;
- equate family planning with eugenics or Nazism;
- accuse the president of changing the missile defense program’s logo to match his campaign logo and reflect what you say is his secret Muslim identity;
- accuse political opponents of being totalitarians, socialists, communists, fascists, Marxists; terrorist sympathizers, McCarthy-like, Nazis or drug pushers; and
- advocate a traitorous act like secession, violent revolution , military coup or civil war (just so we’re clear: sedition is a bad thing).
You can’t cut a leading Founding Father out the history books because you’ve decided you don’t like his ideas.
You cant repeatedly assert that the president refuses to say the word “terrorism” or say we’re at war with terror when we have an awful lot of videotape showing him repeatedly assailing terrorism and using those exact words.
You can’t just pretend historical events didn’t happen in an effort to make a political opponent look dishonest or to make your side look better. Especially these events. (And, no, repeating it doesn’t make it better.)
You can’t say things that are simply and demonstrably false: health care reform will not push people out of their private insurance and into a government-run program ; health care reform (which contains a good many of your ideas and very few from the Left) is a long way from “socialist utopia”; health care reform is not “reparations”; nor does health care reform create “death panels”.
You have to condemn those among you who:
- call members of Congress n*gger and f*ggot;
- elected leaders who say “I’m a proud racist”;
- state that America has been built by white people;
- say that poor people are poor because they’re rotten people, call them “parasitic garbage” or say they shouldn’t be allowed to vote;
- call women bitches and prostitutes just because you don’t like their politics ( re - pea -ted - ly );
- assert that the women who are serving our nation in uniform are hookers;
- mock and celebrate the death of a grandmother because you disagree with her son’s politics;
- declare that those who disagree with you are shown by that disagreement to be not just “Marxist radicals” but also monsters and a deadly disease killing the nation (this would fit in the hyperbole and history categories, too);
- joke about blindness;
- advocate euthanizing the wife of your political opponent;
- taunt people with incurable, life-threatening diseases — especially if you do it on a syndicated broadcast;
- equate gay love with bestiality — involving horses or dogs or turtles or ducks — or polygamy, child molestation, pedophilia;
- casually assume that only white males look “like a real American”;
- assert presidential power to authorize torture, torture a child by having his testicles crushed in front of his parents to get them to talk, order the massacre of a civilian village and launch a nuclear attack without the consent of Congress;
- attack children whose mothers have died;
- call people racists without producing a shred of evidence that they’ve said or done something that would even smell like racism — same for invoking racially charged “dog whistle” words (repeatedly);
- condemn the one thing that every major religion agrees on;
- complain that we no longer employ the tactics we once used to disenfranchise millions of Americans because of their race;
- blame the victims of natural disasters and terrorist attacks for their suffering and losses;
- celebrate violence , joke about violence, prepare for violence or use violent imagery, “fun” political violence, hints of violence, threats of violence (this one is rather explicit), suggestions of violence or actual violence (and, really, suggesting anal rape with a hot piece of metal is beyond the pale); and
- incite insurrection telling people to get their guns ready for a “bloody battle” with the president of the United States.
Oh, and I’m not alone: One of your most respected and decorated leaders agrees with me.
So, dear conservatives, get to work. Drain the swamp of the conspiracy nuts, the bald-faced liars undeterred by demonstrable facts, the overt hypocrisy and the hatred. Then offer us a calm, responsible, grownup agenda based on your values and your vision for America. We may or may not agree with your values and vision, but we’ll certainly welcome you back to the American mainstream with open arms. We need you.
(Anticipating your initial response: No there is nothing that even comes close to this level of wingnuttery on the American Left.)
There’s only one political party in the entire world that is so inept, cowardly and bungling that it could manage to simultaneously lick the boots of Wall Street bankers and then get blamed by the voters for being flaming revolutionary socialists.
It’s the same party that has allowed the opposition to go on a thirty year scorched earth campaign, stealing everything in sight from middle and working class voters, and yet successfully claim to be protecting ‘real Americans’ from out-of-touch elites.
It’s the same party that could run a decorated combat hero against a war evader in 1972, only to be successfully labeled as national security wimps.
Just to be sure, it then did the exact same thing again in 2004.
It’s the same party that stood by silently while two presidential elections in a row were stolen away from them.
How ‘bout dem Dems, eh?
One year ago today, there was real question as to what could possibly be the future of the Republican Party in America. That’s changed a bit now.
And, speaking of ‘change’, the one kind that Barack Obama did actually deliver this year was not that which most voters had in mind after listening to him use the word incessantly, all throughout 2008. Obama and his colleagues have now managed to bring the future of the Democratic Party into question, just a year after it won two smashing victories in a row.
Personally, I’m not real bothered by that. Today’s Democrats are, almost without exception, embarrassing hacks who deserved to get stomped a long time ago.
What really upsets me, however, is what these fools have allowed to be done to the name of progressivism, and to the country.
Barack Obama has now, in just a year’s time, become the single most inept president perhaps in all of American history, and certainly in my lifetime. Never has so much political advantage been pissed away so rapidly, and what’s more in the context of so much national urgency and crisis. It’s astonishing, really, to contemplate how much has been lost in a single year.
It was hilarious, of course, when Michelle Bachmann invoked the Charge of the Light Brigade at a rally against “Obama’s” (has he ever really owned it?) health care “initiative” (isn’t that too strong a word to use?), quite oblivious to the fact that the actual historical event was one of history’s greatest debacles. Obama, on the other hand, seems to be actually reliving the famous cock-up in the flesh. Except, of course, that he doesn’t really “charge” at anything. He just talks about things, thinks about things a real long time, defers to others on things, and waits around for things to maybe happen.
This week, though, something actually did happen. Alas, not precisely what the president had in mind, however.
But the election in Massachusetts was only slightly less inevitable than the sun rising in the east each morning. It was the product of an amazing collection of abysmal choices and practices over the last year that has produced a meltdown of equally amazing proportions for this president and his party. It is fitting that it comes on the anniversary of the president’s inauguration, a moment filled with so much hope for so many just a year ago.
What has Obama – this Conan O’Brien of presidents – done wrong in order to produce this devastating outcome? The short answer is: Just about everything imaginable.
* He does not lead. Americans, especially in times of crisis, want their daddy-president to pick a point on the horizon and lead them to it. Often – especially in the short term – they don’t even care that much which point it is. They will happily follow a president whose policies they oppose if he will but lead.
* And if he will demonstrate some conviction. I have never seen a president so utterly lacking in passion. This man literally doesn’t even seem to care about himself, let alone this or that policy issue. He doesn’t seem to have any strong opinions on anything, a sure prescription for presidential failure.
* He has therefore let Congress ‘lead’ on nearly every issue, another surefire mistake. Instead of demanding that they pass real stimulus legislation – which would have really stimulated the economy, big-time, and right now – he let those dickheads on the Hill just load up a big pork party blivet of a bill with all the pet projects they could find, designed purely to benefit their personal standing with the voters at home, rather than to actually produce jobs for Americans. And on health care, his signature issue, he did the same thing. “You guys write it, and I’ll sign the check.” Could there possibly be a greater prescription for failure than allowing a bunch of the most venal people on the planet to cobble together a 2,000 page monstrosity that entirely serves their interests and those of the people whose campaign bribes put them in office?
* Well, yes, now that you mention it. If you really want to bring your government crashing to the ground, why not spend endless months negotiating with vicious thugs, who will never vote for your legislation anyhow, because they are so entirely devoted to your destruction that they’re willing to call you a granny murderer? What a great and winning strategy!
* Another possible strategic move even stupider than deferring to Congress to write major legislation is to cozy up with the least popular people on the planet – including, in fact, the real-life granny killers. Got an economy that is so raw it’s leaving thousands in literal peril of losing their lives? Why not draft some legislation to bail-out the people who created that mess and guarantee that they retain their multimillion dollar bonuses?!?! You know, the same folks who are always talking about how great capitalism is and how important it is to take risks! The same ones who are always telling us how awful the government is – the same government that saved them from extinction. Those folks. That’s right, bail out with outrageous bonuses the very people who need it least and who caused billions of people around the planet to suffer, while leaving everyone else to fend for themselves! That’ll raise your presidential job approval ratings every time! And while you’re at it, bring in the much beloved health insurance and pharmaceutical corporate lobbyists, and negotiate a deal with them to craft your high profile health care legislation! What voter can’t get behind that?
* Another brilliant presidential tactic is to be such a Mr. Happy Nice Face that you acknowledge no enemies for the country, or even yourself. Not the health care corporate vampires who suck the blood out of Americans from San Diego to Bangor, providing absolutely no value-added health service whatsoever, while denying treatment to deathly ill human beings at every opportunity, all to rake in billions more in profits. Not the reckless pirates on Wall Street who bet all our money on insane gambles that wrecked the global economy, took government bail-out money to survive, and yet are still drowning in bonuses as rewards. Not the Republican Party who spent three decades downsizing the middle class, plunging the country into wars based on lies, deregulating every protection in sight, fattening up corporate cronies, wrecking the environment, trashing the Constitution and polarizing the country politically. And not even a catastrophic climate disaster speeding toward the planet with relentless determination. No! We must all be happy and talk nice! No bad guys. Not even the bad guys can be bad guys.
* While you’re at it, if you’re trying to run the most failed presidency ever, a really good idea is to campaign in the grandest terms possible, and then deliver squat. You know, talk about bending the arc of history. Invoke Martin Luther King’s dream and his struggles and even those of the slaves. Ring the big bells of generational calling. Remind voters every thirty seconds that the country badly needs “Change!”. Then get elected and turn around and continue the policies of your hated predecessor in every meaningful policy area. Only with less conviction. People will love that.
* A related brilliant move is to mobilize a giant army of passionate volunteers dedicated to putting you in the White House, and then do nothing with them once you get there, other than taking them completely for granted and never calling upon them to do anything in support of your agenda. Be sure to deflate their enthusiasm in every way possible.
* Even more importantly, if you’re trying to run your presidency into the ground you’ll definitely want to avoid mobilizing the general public behind your agenda. To make sure that you don’t repeat the great legislative victories of FDR or LBJ or (unfortunately) Reagan or (really unfortunately) Little Bush, never use their method of appealing directly to the people. Never express your legislative program as a moral imperative, a great calling to the nation. Never attempt to rally the public behind your cause. Never express any urgency. And never call upon them to demand that Congress pass your bills. Then, you can rest assured they won’t!
* And let’s take it up a whole ‘nuther level, while we’re on the subject. A successful president is one who articulates a strong and compelling narrative for the nation. So, in your quest to avoid rising even to mediocrity, be sure to leave a great big gaping canyon where that whole narrative thing is supposed to go. No New Deal, no Great Society, no New Frontier or War on Terror for you. Nope! Just a thousand little projects with little non-solutions to big problems. Hey, why not inject yourself into Cambridge, Massachusetts community police politics while you’re at it! Or the New York State Democratic Party gubernatorial primary! Or you could deliberate for weeks about which breed of dog to get for your kids! That’s a great use of the president’s political capital!
* As long as you’re walking away from the grand narrative, why not let the opposition define you as well? Let them say anything imaginable about you, and never respond. You’re a socialist! No, you’re a fascist! No, you’re both! At the same time, no less! You’re a granny killer! You’re not really even an American! You’re taking over the US for the Muslims! You’re a massive taxer and spender! You’re running around the world, apologizing for America everywhere you go! No worries. Just remember the golden rule, and your presidency is sure to sink: Never engage, never respond, never preempt, never attack, never fight back.
* In general, you’ll also want to take the most important power the president has – the bully pulpit – and totally piss it away. Appear everywhere at once, all the time, saying lots of nice words, about a thousand different issues. But never with passion, never with compelling simplicity, never with repetition, and never with urgency. Pretty soon you’ll turn being everywhere into being nowhere. Everyone one will tune out your ubiquitous self. Give up the high moral ground which is the most important asset of the office you hold, and you’ll make sure that no one ever listens to you anymore. You will persuade the public of nothing. Except that you are irrelevant.
* But you can do better still. Help your enemies, so that they can crush you more effectively! Start by not even realizing they are your enemies. Then, treat them with greater respect than your friends, even though they’ve run the country over a cliff. Defer to them at every opportunity. Consult with them even as they insult you to your face. Allow them to run Congress, even though they have small minorities in both houses. Never force them to vote against simple, popular legislation. Never call their bluffs. Never associate them with the destruction they’ve caused. Never label them the treasonous hypocritical liars that they are. Help them to resuscitate the comatose near-corpse of their political party, just before it’s about to die, so it can rise up and savage you.
* Another great trick for crashing a presidency is to pick all the wrong priorities to ‘fight’ for. Imagine, for example, if FDR had substituted for his ‘Day of Infamy’ speech right after Pearl Harbor a ringing call for an American revolution in cobbler technology! Yes, that’s right, in response to the devastating surprise attack by the armed forces of the Empire of Japan, what if the president urgently called upon us all to start making really amazing shoes?! Before it’s too late, and we all get blisters on our feet! Similarly, Mr. Obama, your spending the last year on (jive) health care and jetting around the world dipping your toes into foreign policy problems while Americans are losing their jobs and their houses is a fine way to kill your presidency. Guaranteed to work every time.
* And, finally, perhaps the most important thing one can do – and the thing that helps explain many of the other items above – is to adopt really, really pathetic policies. If you’re doing a stimulus bill, for example, make sure that it’s too little money, not targeted at real stimulative levers in the economy, costs a lot, doesn’t kick in for a year or two, gives away about a third of the money to ineffective pet projects for Republican while none of them vote for it anyhow, and leaves the unemployment rate stuck at a miserable ten percent. Or, if you’re doing a bail-out of the banks for the purpose of producing the liquidity essential to restarting the economy, let them take bonuses as big as they want, and don’t actually require that they loan out to anyone the money you’ve given them. Or, how about spending nearly all your political capital on ‘health care’ legislation, which is really an insurance company boondoggle bill instead? That’s really what the people want, eh? No wonder Obama’s not out there writing the narrative, fighting the good fight or crushing his enemies. Even he can’t get excited about his own priorities, so extraordinarily abysmal are they.
All of this represents the best prescription I can imagine for wrecking a presidency, and Obama has followed it with exacting precision. Indeed, doing so would appear to be his only real passion. It’s almost as if he were a Republican sleeper politician in some party politics version of the Manchurian Candidate, planted to arise on cue and destroy the Democratic Party from within.
And thus – while anything’s possible, of course – I am hard pressed to see how the Obama administration is anything but finished. Consider his options from here.
He could turn to the right, like Clinton did in 1994. But the first problem is that he’s already there. If you look carefully at his policies, he is basically running George Bush’s third term. Regressives (conveniently) forget that. They call him weak on national security, even while he dramatically escalates the war in Afghanistan, hardly draws down in Iraq, breaks his own promise to close Gitmo, and smashes through the $700 billion mark in military spending for the first time, not even counting Afghanistan’s costs. They ignore his Bush-cloned policies on state secrets, renditions, executive power and other civil liberties issues. They forget that Bush’s health care bill was far more socialistic and far more fiscally irresponsible than Obama’s, and that his bail-outs and stimulus actions were almost identical. So, in short, for Obama to turn to starboard at this point would literally require him to outflank the GOP to its right. Moreover, the Limbaughs and Becks and Palins would still excoriate him, no matter what. Worse still, such policies would only make the lives of ordinary Americans a lot worse, just as they have been doing for thirty years now. So what could be gained by a turn to the right?
Second, he could go small-bore, as Clinton also did in the 1990s. But, of course, these aren’t the 1990s. FDR didn’t win four terms during a Great Depression and a world war by focusing on school uniforms and V-chips. This is not the 1930s or 1940s, but it’s close. People are hurting, frightened and angry. Obama is suffering badly already because he is not addressing their very tangible concerns. More of the same policy-wise will produce more of the same politically. Going this route, he’d be lucky if the public was kind enough to let him finish his single term as a James Buchanan wannabe, then go home.
The obvious solution, of course, would be a sharp turn to the left. Go where the real solutions are. Fight the good fight. Call liars ‘liars’ and thieves ‘thieves’. Do the people’s business. Become their advocate against the monsters bleeding them dry. Create jobs. Build infrastructure. Do real national health care. End the wars. Dramatically slash military spending. Produce actual educational reform. Launch a massive green energy/jobs program. Get serious about global warming. Kick ass on campaign finance reform. Fight for gay rights. Restore the New Deal era regulatory framework and expand it. Restore a fair taxation structure. Rewrite trade agreements that undermine American jobs. Rebuild unions. Fill the spate of vacancies in the federal judiciary, and load those seats up with progressives. Rally the public to demand that Congress act on your agenda. Humiliate the regressives in and out of the GOP for their abysmal sell-out policies.
All of this could be done, and most of it would be very popular, especially if it was backed by an aggressive and righteously angry Oval Office advocate for the people who knew how to use the bully pulpit to shape the narrative, to market ideas, and to mobilize public support.
But I doubt Obama has anything like the constitution for that sort of presidency. I think his personal disposition is so strongly controlling of his politics that he would rather preside as a three year lame-duck over a failed one-term presidency, than actually throw an elbow or two and make anyone uncomfortable. Think how unpleasant it would be.
Moreover, by blundering during the only chance he’ll ever have at introducing his presidency, he’s now created an additional set of problems for himself which may well be insurmountable, even if he were to now try to live up to his campaign billing. He needs Democratic votes in Congress to do much of anything, but they’re all focused on the looming tsunami of next November. The very same people who might have swallowed hard and reluctantly followed the lead of inspirational new president Obama one year ago, today will join everyone else in the world and spit in the eye of useless, feeble, washed-up Barack. He’s got zero leverage over his own party in Congress now. As for the public, it’s gonna be pretty hard to now market himself as the great enemy of the people’s enemies, when he’s just finished a year of making secret sweetheart deals that benefit Wall Street bankers, health insurance pirates, and pharmaceutical predators, all while leaving his own base and the public he’s supposed to be serving out in the rain. Politicians can reinvent themselves, but you need time and there are certain limits of plausibility that cannot be ignored, any more than you can ignore the laws of physics.
Of course, I don’t give a shit about Barack Obama anymore, other than my desire that really ugly things happen to him as payment in kind for the grandest act of betrayal we’ve seen since Benedict Arnold did his thing. But what about the country?
Not so good there, either, I’m afraid. What happens when you have two parties to choose from, and one of them wrecks the country with dramatically evil policies so radical even backward America hates them, but then you turn to the other party, which spends an entire year on the campaign trail promising change, only to turn out nearly identical to the first lot when in government? What do you do?
One option is to find another party. To some extent that is happening, but absolutely not where it should be. The tea partyers are the ‘alternative’ vision for salvation in today’s America. (Very) unfortunately, they are not alternative in any sense, have almost no coherent vision whatsoever, and – as the possible third right-wing party for voters to choose from, out of three, obviously offer zero salvation whatsoever. All the tea party lunatics seem to know is that they don’t like taxes and they don’t like federal spending. But they can’t even tell you what they’d cut if they actually controlled the government. My guess is that it would be nothing, just like the Republicans before them, or else they’d slash entitlement spending, which would surely make them one of the flashiest flashes ever to get royally panned by the public.
The other option, which the voters are now exercising, is to continue a process begun in 2006 of voting for the party which is not the party in power. Today, that means Republicans, as witnessed in Virginia, New Jersey and now Massachusetts. The absurdity of this, of course, is that it was these exact same people who created this astonishingly thorough mess we find ourselves in. What is Mitch McConnell or John Boehner or Sarah Palin going to do for Americans who don’t have jobs? Cut taxes they no longer pay (and thus also further increase the national debt, by the way)? What will they do for those same folks who’ve lost their health insurance? Kill Democratic plans, even when they’re nothing but corporate giveaways anyhow?
Americans will simply be more sick, more broke and more unemployed two, four or six years from now than they are at this moment, if they put the Republicans back in control of the government.
Of course, there’s one other possibility, which is that this time the Cheney Party goes balls-to-the-wall, bringing down on our heads a full-on fascist dictatorship, serving corporate interests in total, and likely launching a couple of good wars abroad to complement the complete repression of dissent and freedom of expression at home.
Ridiculous? I try pretty hard every day – and it takes some work – to keep my most apocalyptic totalitarian nightmares for this country in check. But think about this chronological sequence for a second: The Democrats get killed in November for doing nothing while the public suffers. But they are still seen as the party in power in 2012, so they get killed even worse, with Obama sent packing and Palin or her equivalent moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But the new radical GOP regime’s policies are even more detrimental to voters than Bush’s or Obama’s. Maybe the public is distracted for a year or two by some bullshit foreign policy ‘crisis’ or another, but pretty soon they’re getting real restless. After about six years now of suffering badly, they’re getting real surly, and ‘anti-incumbent’ doesn’t begin to describe the mood of the country. Now they really want some serious change.
Of course, anything can happen – but which part of that sequence seems improbable? And if the answer is none, then the salient question becomes: What does the regime do at that point, faced with an angry mob? What are the Dick Cheneys and Sarah Palins of this world committed to? What are they capable of when pressed?
I don’t think those questions really require a response. I think we all know pretty well the answers.
This is the country that Obama – the great Hope guy – is bequeathing us.
Dante said “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality”.
Better stock up on the mist sprayers, Barack.
The Rachel Maddow Show’s video site summed this one up as well as I could ever hope to.
Rachel Maddow holds Dick Cheney and Republican opportunists to account for their shameless hypocrisy, distortions and outright lies in criticizing President Obama’s response to the attempted bombing of Flight 253 in the face of their abject, egregious failures to deal with terrorists threats to the United States when they were in power.
She also took at whack at her cohorts in the mainstream media for whether they want to act like journalists and fact check the B.S. that’s being fed to them instead of just repeating it, or do their jobs. This was truly one of Rachel’s finer moments on television.
I don’t expect either of the Cheney’s or any of the other hacks politicizing this terrorism debate to be coming on her show any time soon. Keep giving them hell Rachel.
MADDOW: After days of essentially unanswered Republican political attacks against the Obama administration, finally, today, we got the big kahuna. The white whale of Republican politics, former Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney, involved in this.
After five days of Republicans owning the airwaves on this issue, doubling and then tripling down on politicizing this thwarted terrorist attack, with almost no opposition from the Democrats, the maestro of terror politics, Mr. Cheney, gave a statement to Politico.com today. Not decrying the terrorist incident itself, but instead using that attack as an opportunity to bash the president, to accuse the president of not keeping America safe.
Now, as is often the case in politics, when attacks from one side go unanswered for a long time, when one side gets the platform all to themselves, that side can sometimes get over-exuberant. They can overplay their hand. Republicans, left to their own devices, have in this case excitedly launched a series of obviously baseless, factually incorrect, demonstrably untrue and hypocritical attacks.
Dick Cheney`s comments today probably the worst among them. He said, quote, “He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won`t be at war.”
Remember Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber”? Richard Reid was arrested December 2001, when a man named Dick Cheney was vice president. The Bush Justice Department let him, as they say, “lawyer up,” and Mr. Reid later pled guilty in federal court.
Remember 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui? Same deal. Given American rights, tried in the federal courts and convicted, all while a man named Dick Cheney was vice president.
What President Obama is doing right now with this case is the same thing that was done with the same type of cases while Dick Cheney was vice president. But Dick Cheney isn`t letting anything like that hold him back, saying, quote, “Why doesn`t he want to admit we`re at war? President Obama`s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war.”
According to Dick Cheney, see, this has to be seen as a military issue. This has to be seen as a war. This can`t be seen as law enforcement. This is something — according to Dick Cheney — this is something that you handle with the Department of Defense, right? Like Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, do you have any insights you can share with us about Richard Reid, the American Airlines shoe bomber?
DONALD RUMSFELD, THEN-U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: That`s a matter that`s in the hands of the law enforcement people and not the Department of Defense.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Nothing you can share?
RUMSFELD: And I don`t have anything I would want to add.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Where was Dick Cheney and his outrage when his administration was treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue?
But, wait, there`s more. Quote, “He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al Qaeda-trained terrorists still there, we won`t be at war.”
Like, for example, do you mean the Guantanamo prisoners your administration released to go to Saudi Arabia to be put in art therapy? The guys who then became leaders of the al Qaeda chapter in Yemen that is reportedly behind the plot to blow up that flight on Christmas Day? Did Mr. Cheney think that we weren`t at war when that decision was made by his administration? Where was his outrage over his own decision then?
We`re hearing over and over and over again from Republicans how President Obama waited too long to comment on the Christmas bombing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Disappointed it`s taken the president 72 hours to even address this issue.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: The president has decided to stay silent for 72 hours. That — he needs to explain that.
KARL ROVE, FMR. BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: It`s over 72 hours from the time from the incident until the time the president spoke today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Seventy-two hours. How could President Obama possibly wait so long to comment?
For the record, after the Richard Reid shoe bombing incident in 2001, President Bush was not seen or heard from for six days. Count `em, six days.
Like President Obama, Mr. Bush was on vacation at the time of that incident. He apparently did not see fit to comment on the situation until almost a full week after it happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: The shoe bomber was a case in point where the country has been on alert. I`m grateful for the flight attendant`s response, as I`m sure the passengers on that airplane, but we`ve got to be aware that there are still enemies to the country. And our government is responding accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Where was the Republican criticism of President Bush back then, for taking so long to make those comments? Perhaps President Bush dodged criticism on matters of terrorism, because of the language he used to talk about the war on terror. Remember, smoke `em out of their caves, bring `em on. That was the type of language that President Bush chose to use when talking about terrorism.
Mr. Obama does it differently. He has a distinctly non-cowboy rhetorical approach to this issue. And that is one of the things that`s also most rankling Republicans right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The important thing now, Harry, is that the president has downplayed the threat of terrorists since he took office. He doesn`t even use the word anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He doesn`t even use the word anymore. That is true, only in Jim DeMint`s mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Terror and extremism that threatens the world`s stability. Extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world. Suffering and civil wars that breed instability and terror. New acts of terror.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He never says the word “terror.”
Why let a 30-second Google search get in the way of your good sound bite, Senator?
But, you know, Senator DeMint is doing the country a service here — at least by clarifying things, by getting at the core of the conservative attack on President Obama. It was the whole point of Dick Cheney`s opportunistic statement today. The whole point was that President Obama ought to talk more about war.
Vice President Cheney said, quote, “He seems to think if he gets rid of the words “war on terror,” we won`t be at war. Why doesn`t he want to admit we`re at war?”
Keep in mind — this is coming from the former vice president of the administration whose record of talking about war includes dandies like these.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Thanks to the United States and our fine allies. Afghanistan is no longer a haven for terror. The Taliban is history. And the Afghan people are free!
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.
DICK CHENEY, THEN-U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I think they`re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know, talking about war incessantly, beating your chest about it, acting like a cowboy, making premature declarations of victory over and over and over again might feel good, but those things don`t actually translate into effectively waging war, Mr. Chatty Cathy former vice president.
For the most part, Democrats are letting these charges from Dick Cheney and the rest of the Republicans go unanswered, even though these are charges that collapse very quickly in the face of even rudimentary fact- checking.
But even if you step back from the specific, ridiculous claims that they are making, consider what Republicans are trying to do here. Republicans apparently think they can survive the fact-checking problems they will have here if anybody ever decides to look into these things they`re saying. They think they can survive the fact-checking because they imagine they have this transcendent credibility on national security matters. A credibility on national security that, what, transcends the facts of their record?
The Bush/Cheney administration created the terror watch list system that theoretically should have flagged the Christmas bomber this past Friday. As has been noted, this is a list that has more than 500,000 names on it. That`s handy.
It`s a list that`s full of so much noise, so much useless, incoherent junk that random people like the late Senator Ted Kennedy and the former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens` wife would get hassled at airports all the time because of their position on the list, even though that list could not function properly to keep actual terrorists off of actual planes.
That`s their list. It hasn`t been changed since then. Maybe the problem is that we haven`t cleaned up after the Bush/Cheney administration fast enough.
The Bush-Cheney administration is, inconveniently enough, also on whose watch 9/11 happened — unless, of course, you ask them about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA PERINO, FMR. BUSH PRESS SECRETARY: You know, we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush`s term.
MARY MATALIN, FMR. BUSH ASSISTANT: I was there. We inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation`s history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, remember how no terrorist attacks happened when Bush and Cheney were in office? Remember when the nation inherited 9/11 from that incompetent Democratic administration that was in place in September in 2001 — in the Bush administration`s own minds?
The rallying cry now from Republicans is that we shouldn`t try the Christmas bomber in civilian court — that, instead, he should be tried in a military tribunal, declared an enemy combatant. I mean, what`s the value of a military tribunal here, other than trying to make political hay out of this case? Really, what`s the justice, anti-terrorist, counterterrorist value on this?
You really think this kid can`t be convicted? You really think we don`t have enough evidence beyond the — beyond the, I don`t know, 300 or so eyewitnesses who were on the plane? The fact that we have the weapon that he tried to use? The fact that he confessed? You think that`s not enough to get this kid convicted?
You have that little faith in our criminal justice system? That little faith in the rule of law? You don`t believe that a supermax federal American prison is capable of holding this kid? You think it might be cool, instead, to martyr this kid as some impressive soldier, instead of some idiot confused rich kid who couldn`t even handle blowing up his own junk with a bomb that was secreted in his own underpants?
We`re supposed to take national security advice from you guys? Really?
Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra is still the captain of the team on this one, now raising money off of a terrorist attack on Americans, the attempted murder of 300 Americans — politicizing this issue by soliciting campaign donations for his run for governor of Michigan on the occasion of this terrorist attack.
We contacted Pete Hoekstra`s campaign today. They told us, we should expect to see more of this type of exploitive solicitation from them. They told us that Congressman Hoekstra himself personally signed of on the “using a terrorist attack on Americans to raise money” effort, proudly saying they think they`ve gotten a significant spike in donations as a result of it. Though it`s too early to tell, fingers crossed, maybe something else horrible will happen.
This is the Republican response to this terrorist attack at the end of 2009.
Again, my friends and colleagues in the media have two choices in covering this. You can just copy down what the Republicans and Vice President Cheney are saying, and click “send,” call it journalism, or you can actually fact-check those comments and put them into context. Your choice. It`s your country.
Once upon a time, there was a President named Bill Clinton, who was, by most historical standards, a typical Centrist Republican, although by a fluke of geography and circumstances he ran for public office with a “(D)” after his name.
Under his Administration, many Conservative ideas which had long gathered dust on the shelf — ideas such as welfare reform, a balanced budget, debt reduction, a strict “Pay as You Go” fiscal regime, a boom in technology jobs, budget surpluses, NAFTA, GATT, official bans on gay marriage, etc. — were finally realized.
And for all of his good work on behalf of their ideology, Conservatives spent eight, long years treating Bill Clinton — a Southern, White, Christian man — as if he were a case of flesh eating nuclear syphilis.
Because he did not run for office with an “(R)” after his name.
And because he did not run for office with an “(R)” after his name, according to the leading voices in the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement, Bill Clinton was, in no particular order, Hitler, a Socialist, a rapist, a warmonger, a serial murderer, and a drug dealer, whose Presidency was somehow vaguely illegitimate.
And counterpointing the 24/7 slime campaign, there were those endless, endless hearings. Whitewater. Travel office. Christmas Card lists. Lincoln bedroom. Etc ad nauseum.
Or don’t you remember?
He was “Not my President!” (Ollie North: War criminal, terrorist arms dealer, GOP Senate Candidate  and FoxNews Contributor.)
He was warned “not to set foot in my state.” (Jesse Helms: Professional Bigot, Confederate Senator, 1820-2003)
His picture was used for target practice by G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate felon, would-be assassin, radio personality and Republican hero.
From “The American Prospect”:
…it’s worth remembering just how virulent the opposition to Clinton’s presidency was. Republicans began plotting to impeach Clinton long before anyone had ever heard the name “Lewinsky,” and many on the right simply refused to accept that he legitimately occupied the office he held. Then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, when talking to Democrats, used to refer to Clinton as “your president.”
It was a warped, hysterical campaign funded by wealthy Right Wing thugs like Richard Mellon Scaife
and propagated by wealthy Right Wing thugs like Rupert Murdoch who made sure the lies were jack-hammered into the headlines day after day, year after year.
And judging by its objectives, it was also a very successful campaign: it legitimized and metastasized Hate Radio; killed the credibility of the “objective” media once and for all; made the overt mass-slander of political opposition by the Right acceptable; moved radicals, militia nuts, bigots, Creationists and Limbaugh zombies to the center of the Republican Party; accelerated the exodus of reasonable moderates the hell out of the Republican Party; destroyed the possibility of public discourse; and kicked the door open to the use of Congressional hearings as instruments of political vendetta.
But as successful as it was, it was also an incredibly high-risk strategy, because of a thing called the “public record”.
The public record meant that each and every time a Republican stood up to, say, slam the Democrat Commander-in-Chief during a time of war (from The Poor Man Institute:)
“You can support the troops but not the president”
-Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)
“President…is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation’s armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy.”
-Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)
“American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy.”
-Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)
“If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy.”
-Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W. Bush
“I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning…I didn’t think we had done enough in the diplomatic area.”
-Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)
“Well, I just think it’s a bad idea. What’s going to happen is they’re going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years”
-Joe Scarborough (R-FL)
“I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today”
-Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)
“Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?”
-Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99
“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”
-Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)
“This is President Clinton’s war, and when he falls flat on his face, that’s his problem.”
-Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN)
“Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly.”
-Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)
they left a documentary trail wide and bright enough to be visible from space.
Or from the next election cycle.
The public record meant that every frivolous Republican witch hunt and every syllable of hate and demagoguery gleefully poured out through public megaphones and megachurch pulpits to malign and demonize the Left could potentially represent a thick bar on the cage of any future Republican president’s imperial ambitions.
Because, after all, should the tables ever turn — should there ever be a Republican President whose election really was suspect, or who really did lie to the American public and flagrantly abuse his office, and did it in ways that cost the nation trillions of dollars and thousands of lives — after spending eight years establishing a public record in such clear and unambiguous language what the Hell could the Right possibly say?
After conspiring to bring about two of the most destructive events in modern American history — the impeachment of a US President over trivia, and the probable theft of the subsequent Presidential election — to what God could Republicans possibly pray that their eight years of insanity, venom and violence “might be wholly blotted out?”
On 09/11/01, their dark miracle came winging its way out of a clear, blue sky.
All of us, all together across all political, cultural and religious spectra watched the worst thing many of us had ever seen.
But in what now seems like less time than it took to wipe away our tears, the same depraved thugs who sponsored eight years of “Clinton Murdered Vince Foster!” hysteria began hijacking of our pain and patriotism to serve their partisan interests right before our eyes.
The minute the Bush Administration began trying to stretch the war they got into an excuse for the war they wanted, 9/11 stopped being merely a national tragedy and started being the Bush Administration’s bottomless political ATM machine.
The minute the Party of Personal Responsibility began using the mantra “9/11 changed everything” as the political equivalent of the Blood of Christ — as a means to absolve themselves of their personal responsibility for eight years of malice and derangement — for them September 11, 2001 stopped being a moment of shared, national anguish and started being a suit of cultural body-armor which magically deflected any criticism of their lies and their and hypocrisy.
An impervious sniper’s nest from which they could cynically escalate their war on the Left.
Or don’t you remember the day the Right robbed the graves of all those who perished on 9/11 to turn this
And the thing is, it worked.
By selling 9/11 for a mess of wingnut pottage, the Right bought itself an anti-Liberal free-fire zone and two Presidential terms-worth of blank checks. Two terms of an alternately supportive and supine media. Two terms of catastrophe, corruption and treason protected from scrutiny by an ablative shield made out of solid “Why do you hate America?”, and a promise that they could go on bareback fucking diseased monsters in the alley all night long, every night, forever and wake up each morning miraculously clean, virginal and still beloved in the eyes of God.
But they forgot that tempus just keeps fugiting along. And as time passed, the Right got so accustomed to butt-scooting their depravity all over the public square and never being called on it they simply stopped noticing that they were amassing a whole new post-9/11 public record so despicable and overflowing with Conservative atrocities that it positively dwarfed their antics during the Clinton Years.
And that brutal, meth-addict level of dependence on never being brought to book for anything they say or do left the Right completely unprepared for the one thing their leaders promised would never happen again.
And losing has driven them a special kind of crazy; that screaming-incoherently-and-lashing-out-in-every-direction kind of cold-turkey junkie withdrawal crazy.
In the few, short months since they lost, they have emptied out their entire store of raving invective and delusion.
Losing has left them insisting that that the legally elected President of the United States somehow isn’t really the President. That he is a secret enemy. A Communist. A Hitler. A Muslim sleeper cell. A Chicago gangster.
Has left them swearing that “their country” has been stolen and that somewhere hidden in secret code in a 1,000 health care bill is a plan to murder senior citizens.
To understand how deep and relentless their addiction goes, you need only consider the recent example of Mrs. Katy Abram, who leaped into microcelebrity and the wingnut pantheon a month ago with her Clown Hall rant of “I don’t want my county to become Russia!” speech.
Mrs. Katy Abram wants the world to believe that, like a wingnut Sleeping Beauty, she somehow slept through 9/11.
Slept through two wars and the two trillion dollar bill they racked up.
Slept through tax cuts for the wealthy that added another few trillion to our debt.
Slept through Katrina.
Slept through Terri Schiavo.
Slept through the screams of the Constitution as Bush Administration fed it an inch at a time through the wood chipper (the same Constitution she is now so deeply concerned about that she has somehow become, virtually overnight, an “original intent” quote-spewing expert) only to be awakened in a sudden, patriotic fury by the sound of a Black Democrat taking the oath of office.
I’m sure in Mrs. Abram’s mind – and in the tiny little minds of tens of millions of Americans just like her – she sees absolutely no contradiction between explaining that she never paid any attention to a single fucking thing prior to January of 2009….and saying that she started paying attention in 1991 “when we first went to the Gulf War” and that she has debated politics with friends at the opposite end of the political spectrum “a million times over”.
It is, in fact, a sign of the depth and effectiveness of their brainwashing that people like Mrs. Abram see no conflict between saying in one breath “I have never been interested in politics” and “I always seem to have faith in the government“ in the next.
Because during the Bush years, people like Mrs. Abram never saw their love of their Dear Leader and their fealty to his Administration as something “political”. They saw it normal. As the Universe being at its proper, wingnut default setting: White, male, fundamentalist Christian, Conservative, flight-suit clad and killing scary brown people. And as long as that remained true, all was right with the world and people like Mrs. Abram were absolved by their “Don’t Worry, Go Shopping” leaders of any responsibility for paying attention to anything their government was actually doing.
And once the Dear Leader’s reign ended, as far as people like Mrs. Abram were concerned, the natural order of mindless obedience in exchange for a smug and blissful ignorance collapsed. “Their country” was suddenly broke and fucked up for reasons that they dared not think about too much. “Their country” was suddenly awash in dirty fucking hippies, who for some reason were no longer satisfied with being cultural punching bags. “Their country”suddenly had politicians and activists who said mean things about the Dear Leader and the Republican Party…and got away with it!
And worst of all, “their country” suddenly had a Scary Black Man living in their Dear Leader’s pretty White House, probably having dirty, Muslim sex in the Dear Leader’s sacred, Christian bed and putting his filthy, Kenyan hands all over “their county’s” pure, white Constitution.
So, for example, when you hear the same people who fanatically supported President George W. Bush when he famously told Iraq war critics to fuck off –
“Well, we had an accountability moment, and that’s called the 2004 election.”
“…scrap the current grandiose plans and to start over.”
or when you see the mobs on the Right being whipped by talk of secession or revolution or spilling the “blood of tyrants” into a nearly-pornographic frenzy, understand that what you are witnessing are the echoes of political decisions made in the wake of September 11, 2001.
Political decisions that trained the Right to believe, on a visceral level, that a sufficiently bloody and horrifying disruption to the life of the country can — if properly exploited — wash away their eight otherwise-unforgivable years of sin and restore “their country” to its proper, wingnut default setting.
That if the right sacrifices are made to the right Gods in just the right way, then they can be virgins again.