Bush

Obama’s time away from the office

The Obamas’ vacation home in Hawaii. (http://www.washingtonpost.com)

The more I interact via social networking, with people on “the right”, I hear them say that President Obama has taken more vacations than G.W. Bush and spent more money on those vacations than Bush.   I’m certainly going to pass this article on, but I also know that they won’t read it.  They’d rather remain in their little bubble and get their facts from the right-wing media…who seem to have a huge problem with facts.

The Maddow Blog

As August approaches, and President Obama schedules a little r-and-r at Martha’s Vineyard, there are apparently some predictable gripes on the right about his time off. The AP provides some context: “Obama has taken far less time away from the White House than his predecessor, George W. Bush, who spent weeks at a time at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Obama has taken 87 days off, compared with 399 days for Bush at a similar period in his presidency, according to CBS News’s Mark Knoller, who keeps detailed records of presidential travel.”

Let’s put that in chart form to help drive the point home.

A lot of folks forget this, but Ronald Reagan set the record for most vacation days for a sitting president — a record that stood until George W. Bush passed Reagan’s seemingly unbreakable benchmark.

As for the current president, conservative gripes not withstanding, it’s just not realistic to think Obama has a credible chance of even coming close to GWB’s record. At comparable points in their presidencies, for every day Obama has taken off, Bush had already taken 4.5 days off. Obama could stay on vacation for the rest of 2013 and still not be within striking distance of Bush’s hyper-lazy pace. The former two-term Republican just didn’t care for working particularly hard.

I don’t imagine this will curtail criticisms of the president from the right, but unless these same folks complained about his predecessor, their objections are better left ignored.

When the IRS targeted liberals

When the IRS targeted liberals

Thanks to Jueseppi B. for bringing this to my attention.

So, my question to the “outraged” Tea Party, GOP and most Republicans in general:

Where was your outrage in 2006 when the Bush administration targeted dissenters of his administration?

Salon

Under George W. Bush, it went after the NAACP, Greenpeace and even a liberal church

While few are defending the Internal Revenue Service for targeting some 300 conservative groups, there are two critical pieces of context missing from the conventional wisdom on the “scandal.” First, at least from what we know so far, the groups were not targeted in a political vendetta — but rather were executing a makeshift enforcement test (an ugly one, mind you) for IRS employees tasked with separating political groups not allowed to claim tax-exempt status, from bona fide social welfare organizations. Employees are given almost zero official guidance on how to do that, so they went after Tea Party groups because those seemed like they might be political. Keep in mind, the commissioner of the IRS at the time was a Bush appointee.

The second is that while this is the first time this kind of thing has become a national scandal, it’s not the first time such activity has occurred.

“I wish there was more GOP interest when I raised the same issue during the Bush administration, where they audited a progressive church in my district in what look liked a very selective way,” California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on MSNBC Monday. “I found only one Republican, [North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones], that would join me in calling for an investigation during the Bush administration. I’m glad now that the GOP has found interest in this issue and it ought to be a bipartisan concern.”

The well-known church, All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, became a bit of a cause célèbre on the left after the IRS threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status over an anti-Iraq War sermon the Sunday before the 2004 election. “Jesus [would say], ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine,’” rector George Regas said from the dais.

The church, which said progressive activism was in its “DNA,” hired a powerful Washington lawyer and enlisted the help of Schiff, who met with the commissioner of the IRS twice and called for a Government Accountability Office investigation, saying the IRS audit violated the First Amendment and was unduly targeting a political opponent of the Bush administration. “My client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” church attorney Marcus Owens, who is widely considered one of the country’s leading experts on this area of the law, said at the time. In 2007, the IRS closed the case, decreeing that the church violated rules preventing political intervention, but it did not revoke its nonprofit status.

And while All Saints came under the gun, conservative churches across the country were helping to mobilize voters for Bush with little oversight. In 2006, citing the precedent of All Saints, “a group of religious leaders accused the Internal Revenue Service yesterday of playing politics by ignoring its complaint that two large churches in Ohio are engaging in what it says are political activities, in violation of the tax code,” the New York Times reported at the time. The churches essentially campaigned for a Republican gubernatorial candidate, they alleged, and even flew him on one of their planes.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Ethics in Washington filed two ethics complaints against a church in Minnesota. “You know we can’t publicly endorse as a church and would not for any candidate, but I can tell you personally that I’m going to vote for Michele Bachmann,” pastor Mac Hammond of the Living Word Christian Center in Minnesota said in 2006 before welcoming her to the church. The IRS opened an audit into the church, but it went nowhere after the church appealed the audit on a technicality.

And it wasn’t just churches. In 2004, the IRS went after the NAACP, auditing the nation’s oldest civil rights group after its chairman criticized President Bush for being the first sitting president since Herbert Hoover not to address the organization. “They are saying if you criticize the president we are going to take your tax exemption away from you,” then-chairman Julian Bond said. “It’s pretty obvious that the complainant was someone who doesn’t believe George Bush should be criticized, and it’s obvious of their response that the IRS believes this, too.”

In a letter to the IRS, Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel, Pete Stark and John Conyers wrote: “It is obvious that the timing of this IRS examination is nothing more than an effort to intimidate the members of the NAACP, and the communities the organization represents, in their get-out-the-vote effort nationwide.”

Then, in 2006, the Wall Street Journal broke the story of a how a little-known pressure group called Public Interest Watch — which received 97 percent of its funds from Exxon Mobile one year — managed to get the IRS to open an investigation into Greenpeace. Greenpeace had labeled Exxon Mobil the “No. 1 climate criminal.” The IRS acknowledged its audit was initiated by Public Interest Watch and threatened to revoke Greenpeace’s tax-exempt status, but closed the investigation three months later.

As the Journal reporter, Steve Stecklow, later said in an interview, “This comes against a backdrop where a number of conservative groups have been attacking nonprofits and NGOs over their tax-exempt status. There have been hearings on Capitol Hill. There have been a number of conservative groups in Washington who have been quite critical.”

Indeed, the year before that, the Senate held a hearing on nonprofits’ political activity. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, the then-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the IRS needed better enforcement, but also “legislative changes” to better define the lines between politics and social welfare, since they had not been updated in “a generation.” Unfortunately, neither Congress nor the IRS has defined 501(c)4′s sufficiently to this day, leaving the door open for IRS auditors to make up their own, discriminatory rules.

Those cases mostly involved 501(c)3 organizations, which live in a different section of the tax code for real charities like hospitals and schools. The rules are much stronger and better developed for (c)3′s, in part because they’ve been around longer. But with “social welfare” (c)4 groups, the kind of political activity we saw in 2010 and 2012 is so unprecedented that you get cases like Emerge America, a progressive nonprofit that trains Democratic female candidates for public office. The group has chapters across the country, but in 2011, chapters in Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada were denied 501(c)4 tax-exempt status. Leaders called the situation “bizarre” because in the five years Nevada had waited for approval, the Kentucky chapter was approved, only for the other three to be denied.

A former IRS official told the New York Times that probably meant the applications were sent to different offices, which use slightly different standards. Different offices within the same organization that are supposed to impose the exact same rules in a consistent manner have such uneven conceptions of where to draw the line at a political group, that they can approve one organization and then deny its twin in a different state.

All of these stories suggest that while concern with the IRS posture toward conservative groups now may be merited, to fully understand the situation requires a bit of context and history.

8 Things You Won’t See at the George W. Bush Presidential Library

One commenter to this blog was offended over a negative post about “W”.  She felt that people were overlooking the fact that he promoted faith and morality.  I’ll paraphrase what I replied.   Bush may have walked and talk religion, faith and morality, but from where I’m standing (along with millions of other Americans) “W” failed to uphold those virtues himself.  Below, are a few examples…

Mother Jones

George W. Bush sunglasses

“Eight years was awesome and I was famous and I was powerful.”—Former President George W. BushJuly 2012

[...]

A presidential library is one way for an ex-POTUS to attempt to shape his long-term legacy. The historical assessment of Bush’s 96 months in office remains as harsh as ever (a few of the strikes against him: endorsing torture, launching war on convoluted make-believejumping the gun on “mission accomplished”decimating a record budget surplus, politicizing NASA and theDOJwiretappingditching Kyoto, bungling Katrina, restricting stem-cell research, and getting all pissed off at the South Park creators). Yet the former president’s supporters insist that he wants to address criticism of his administration head-on. “He really wants people to go in [the library and museum] and get a sense of what it was like to be president during that time and to use that to make an informed decision about his presidency,” longtime Bush adviser Karen Hughes told Yahoo News.

How thoroughly the library and exhibits (as well as the George W. Bush Presidential Centerencompassing them) handle and document history has yet to be fully evaluated. However, here are eight things we are confident visitors won’t see at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum:

1. Bush’s Pre-Invasion Plan for Governing Post-War Iraq

Because it didn’t really exist.

2. The American Flag Put on the Toppled Saddam Statue

American flag Saddam Hussein statue toppling

YouTube

3. The World’s First Monument to Shoes Thrown at Bush’s Face by an Iraqi Journalist

Because such a monument was already built—a six-foot-high sculpture depicting footwear chucked at Bush’s head was unveiled at an Iraqi orphanage in 2009. (The shoe monument was, however, removed one day after its unveiling.)

4. The Time George Bush Fist-Pumped About Making the Planet Worse

Because as Bush prepared to depart Japan on the last day of his final G8 summit, he “signed off with a defiant farewell over his refusal to accept global climate change targets,” and reportedly told his fellow leaders, “Good-bye from the world’s biggest polluter”—a dark joke that he followed by “punch[ing] the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.”

5. 12 CIA Torture Tapes

Because the CIA destroyed them in late 2005.

6. An Exhibit Dedicated to the George W. Bush National Park

Because of course it doesn’t exist…unless Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who recently secured $25,000 to study converting Bush’s childhood home to America’s next national park, gets his way.

7. These Will Ferrell Clips

Probably because the former president and the comic actor disagree so sharply about foreign policy.

8. Evidence of WMD

Come on, you know why.

Karl Rove Ranks Bush’s Presidency Somewhere ‘Up There,’ Just Below Washington, Lincoln, Reagan, FDR

Karl Rove just can’t seem to get it right on certain issues.   After all, he wrongly predicted the 2012 election would go to Mitt Romney then had a rather embarrassing display on Fox News on election night when he didn’t believe that Obama had won.  Not to mention that many American citizens and foreign nationals around the globe believe Mr. Rove is a war criminal.

So this from the guy who hasn’t gotten anything right since the 2000 election?  I think Rove has been around too long and all the big money deals with deep pocket donors contributing to his various PACs may just be taking its toll on poor Karl.  Not to mention that the Hague wants to have a little talk with Rove’s colleagues from the Bush administration: Cheney and Rove, Rice and Rumsfeld about the “war” in Iraq.  In fact none of the above can travel to Europe at this time…

The Huffington Post

Former President George W. Bush isn’t quite a George Washington or an Abraham Lincoln, his former campaign strategist Karl Rove admitted to ABC News on Thursday, but according to Rove, he’s not too far off.

“The greats, you can’t touch: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, FDR,” Rove said in Dallas at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. “But yeah, I’d put him up there.”

Rove’s claim came after an aggressive defense of Bush’s legacy, which he said history would view favorably more quickly than most thought. Bush left office in 2009 as themost unpopular outgoing president in the history of Gallup polling. Rove pointed to arecent poll that showed his popularity at 47 percent to argue that Bush was already experiencing a turnaround.

Rove also said that Bush deserved more positive treatment, claiming that he “kept us safe after 9/11″ and “tackled the big issues of trying to reform Social Security, Medicare, immigration, education.” He also defended the Iraq War as “the right thing to do.”

(Watch Rove’s entire interview at Yahoo News.)

Bush’s recent return to the main stage has highlighted the controversial decisions that he made as president, renewing a dormant battle between his supporters and his opponents. While Rove has been one of Bush’s most vocal defenders, writing a column in the Wall Street Journal this week jabbing back at his former boss’ critics, Bush himself has consistently maintained that his legacy doesn’t need defending.

In an interview published in USA Today last week, Bush declared that “there’s no need to defend myself” on issues like the Iraq War.

“I did what I did and ultimately history will judge,” he said.

That said, nobody has ever said you can’t attempt to nudge history into your corner. On Thursday, former President Bill Clinton ribbed Bush on that point, saying that his impressive facility was “the latest, grandest example of the eternal struggle of former presidents to rewrite history.”

 

13 Reasons To Be Glad Bush Is No Longer President

No matter how they try to white wash the George W. Bush years in the White House, there will always be a stench.

Starting from day one when the United States Supreme Court made an unprecedented decision to declare Bush the winner in Bush v. Gore to Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force which benefited Big Oil.  George Bush and Dick Cheney will be remembered as oligarchs who committed crimes against the American people and humanity, throughout their eight year-long reign of terror.

Think Progress

The five living presidents met in Texas on Thursday to dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. And while Bush and his aides were using the occasion to soften the 43 president’s image and solidify his legacy, a recounting of Bush-era policies — from his deregulation of Wall Street to the invasion of Iraq — greatly undermine the new rosy narrative of the Bush years:

Authorized the use of torture


Though the US Code bans torture, Bush personally issued a memorandum six days after the September 11th attacks instructing the CIA that it could use “enhanced interrogation techniques” against suspected terrorists. The methods included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and “stress positions.” A recently-released bipartisan committee concluded it was “indisputable” that these techniques constituted torture, and that the highest authorities in the country bore responsibility for the creation of a torture programs at Guantanamo Bay and CIA “black sites” around the world.

Politicized climate science

Bush’s “do-nothing” approach to climate change prevented the U.S. from pursuing meaningful action. Though he claimed that global warming was a serious problem that was either a natural phenomenon or caused by humans, the administration routinely edited scientific reports to downplay the threat of climate change, censored CDC testimony that climate change was a public health threat, and promoted climate denying studies financed by ExxonMobil. At the end of the Bush presidency, a top intelligence adviser warned the incoming president that climate change was a massive destabilizing national security threat that would lead to “Dust Bowl” conditions in the Southwest.

Ignored Afghanistan to launch a war in Iraq

Rather than consolidating gains after the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Bush and his neoconservative allies pushed for removing Saddam Hussein from power, kicking off a war that led to one mistake after another. Ten years later, the war is estimated to have cost cost up to $6 trillion and resulted in the death of more than 100,000 Iraqis, 4,000 Americans and another 31,000 wounded. Meanwhile, Afghanistan saw a resurgence of the Taliban after Bush shifted resources to Iraq.

Botched the response to Hurricane Katrina

Bush appointed Michael Brown — a man whose only real qualifications were political connections and a sting at the International Arabian Horse Association — to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2003 and he proceeded to undo everything the Clinton Administration had done to make FEMA functional, botching the response to 2004′s Hurricane Frances so badly as to prompt calls for his firing. But Bush kept Brown on board and, as a detailed timeline of the response to Hurricane Katrina demonstrates, neither man took the storm seriously until it was too late. Bush, who famously said “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” midway through the crisis, thus presided over the most deaths due to a single natural disaster in the United States since 1900.

Defunded stem cell research

At the turn of the century there was perhaps no greater hope for finding cures to illnesses ranging from Alzheimer’s to diabetes than ongoing stem cell research. But months after taking office, Bush eliminated all federal funding for any new research involving stem cells, citing a religious objection to the use of embryos — even though the embryos in question were byproducts from couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and would have been destroyed by IVF clinics regardless. Twice more during his presidency, Bush vetoed legislation that would have restored funding.

Required Muslim men to register with the government

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bush’s Attorney General, John Ashcroft, instituted an anti-terrorism program to register all male immigrants between 18 and 40 years old from 20 Arab and South Asian countries. Thousands of innocent men came forward to register, only to be rounded up for minor visa violations. Roughly 1,000 men and boys in the process of applying for permanent residence were arrested and confined in standing-room-only centers, enduring invasive strip searches and beatings by guards. Many were deported, while others were held for months after their immigration cases were resolved, without a shred of evidence they had any links to terrorism.

Reinstated the global gag rule

On Bush’s first day in office he reinstated a rule that prevented any non-profit doing work overseas from using any of their own, private money to fund family planning services. This so-called “Global Gag Rule” posed a serious threat to international maternal health, but it also cut off funding for HIV/AIDS initiatives, child health programs, and water and sanitation efforts.

Supported anti-gay discrimination

In 2004, President Bush endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), which would have banned same-sex couples from marrying in the U.S. Constitution. The Massachusetts Supreme Court had just ruled in favor of marriage equality, and Bush hoped to block the ruling from taking effect because “a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization.” Though the FMA failed numerous times in Congress during Bush’s tenure, he exploited the issue of same-sex marriage to turn out conservative voters for the 2004 election. That year, 11 states added constitutional amendments outlawing same-sex marriage.

Further deregulated Wall Street

Under Bush, federal agencies eliminated regulations on predatory lending, capital requirements, and other Wall Street practices, allowing banks to engage in riskier and more destructive practices that contributed to the financial crisis that started on his watch. Bush’s Treasury Department also pushed for even further deregulation that would have given Wall Street more oversight over its own practices even after the housing collapse had begun.

Widened income inequality

The per-person benefits of Bush’s tax cuts accrued to the top one percent of Americans, as therate for capital gains dropped to 15 percent. The CBO found that federal income taxes dropped far more as a percentage of the one percent’s income than for any other group after 2000.

Undermined worker protections

Under Bush, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, whose mission is to protect safe working conditions, issued 86 percent fewer rules or regulations and pulled 22 items from its agenda of proposed safety and health rules. The office’s funding and staff were also consistently reduced. Meanwhile, funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency charged with helping workers who claim discrimination against their employers, was similarly low and staffing fell even as the number of complaints increased, leading to a rising backlog of cases.

Ideological court appointments

Bush filled the federal bench with ideologues, including two lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. These conservatives believe that corporations should be able to buy and sell electionsruled against equal pay for equal work, and have sought to undermine a woman’s right to choose.

Presided over a dysfunctional executive branch

A 2008 analysis by the Center for Public Integrity documented more than 125 executive branch failures over Bush’s two terms. These included government breakdowns on “education, energy, the environment, justice and security, the military and veterans affairs, health care, transportation, financial management, consumer and worker safety,” and others. “I think we’ll look back on this period as one of the most destructive periods in American public life . . . both in terms of policy and process,” Thomas E. Mann, senior fellow at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution observed, noting “genuine distortion in the constitutional system, an exaggerated sense of presidential power and prerogative and acquiescence by a Republican Congress in the face of the first unified Republican government since Dwight Eisenhower.”

Obama: Washington Is ‘Not As Functional As It Could Be’

Obama Bush

No S**t Sherlock!

The Huffington Post

* Former presidents also due to attend dedication

* Memorial service for Texas explosion victims on the agenda

* Fundraiser will aim to help Democrats in midterm elections

U.S. President Barack Obama is in Texas to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with former President George W. Bush in what could serve as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle against terrorism, from the Sept. 11 attacks to the Boston Marathon bombings.

Obama is due to attend the dedication on Thursday of Bush’s presidential library at Southern Methodist University, along with former presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter and hundreds of Bush administration alumni.

While Democrat Obama and Republican Bush have deep political differences, they share a common belief that the United States must defend itself against violent extremism.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks defined Bush’s eight years in the White House and last week’s Boston Marathon bombing handed Obama another challenge to homeland security.

Obama, at a Democratic fundraiser soon after he arrived in Dallas on Wednesday night, said he was looking forward to attending the Bush library dedication and that he would project a bipartisan spirit.

“One thing I will insist upon is whatever our political differences, President Bush loves his country and loves its people and…was concerned about all people in America, not just those who voted Republican. I think that’s true about him and I think that’s true about most of us,” Obama said.

Bush told ABC News that the Boston attacks reminded him of his time in the presidency.

“I was deeply concerned that there might’ve been an organized plot,” Bush told ABC News. “I don’t know all the facts… But I was deeply concerned that this could’ve been, you know, another highly organized attack on the country. And it still may be. Again, I don’t know all the facts.”

Certain issues require a common response regardless of political party, said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Center at the University of Southern Illinois.

“They may get to the office as a conservative or a liberal but there are real forces that move them to the pragmatic center on a variety of issues and national security is one of them,” Simon said.

But Obama was also looking to a time when more Democrats could be elected to Congress. His first stop in Dallas was at a fundraiser that brought in $600,000 for the Democratic National Committee at the home of major Democratic donor Naomi Aberly.

It is his third fundraiser this year for his party in the hope that Democrats can wrestle control of the House of Representatives from Republicans and add to the Democrats’ Senate majority in 2014 midterm elections.

Without adding Democratic seats, Obama may find it difficult to overcome Republican opposition to many of the priorities of his second term, such as closing tax loopholes enjoyed mostly by the wealthy and stricter gun control.

“Washington is not, how should I put this charitably, it’s not as functional as it could be,” Obama said.

Still, he told the Democratic donors, he plans to keep talking to Republicans as he has in recent weeks to try to find common ground, even though “some of you may think I’m a sap” for doing so.

Thursday’s dedication of Bush’s library and museum has put Bush, the 43rd U.S. president, back in the limelight he has largely avoided since leaving office in January 2009.

At the time, the United States was laboring under the burden of two wars and a collapsed economy. Bush’s approval rating at the time was 33 percent. A Washington Post-ABC poll this week put his approval rating at 47 percent, basically equal to Obama’s.

The museum exhibits cover major points of Bush’s presidency and offer visitors an opportunity to decide how they would have responded to those challenges.

A central feature of the museum concerns the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Obama has found himself pursuing some of the same policies that Bush began, such using drones on military targets and trying to overhaul U.S. immigration laws.

Obama is expected to speak at the dedication along with the former presidents.

“Regardless of the times when they served and their political and policy differences, there is a commonality of experience that the president believes binds them together,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

After visiting Bush in Dallas on Thursday, Obama is scheduled to attend a memorial service at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for the 14 people killed when a fertilizer plant exploded last week in West, Texas. (Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Karey Van Hall, Toni Reinhold and Lisa Shumaker)

“Why I am no longer a Republican”

The Week

It has a lot to do with the Iraq War

This week has been filled with Iraq War recriminations and re-evaluations. While official Washington was strangely silent about the 10th anniversary of the start of the conflict, journalists and intellectuals have been (predictably) more vocal. Prominent neocons have reaffirmed, with minor caveats, their support for the war. Some (erstwhileliberal hawks have issued full-throated mea culpasOther liberals, meanwhile, have tried to have it both ways, denouncing the war they once supported while praising its outcome. And of course, lots of people who opposed the war from the beginning, on the right and left, have declared vindication.

My own position on the war fits into none of these categories. Ten years ago, I was working as an editor at First Things, a monthly magazine that’s aptly been described as the New York Review of Books of the religious right. (And no, that’s not oxymoronic.) The magazine strongly supported George W. Bush’s original conception of the War on Terror, and so did I. In his speech to Congress and the nation on September 20, 2001, Bush stated that the United States would seek to decimate al Qaeda as well as every other terrorist groups of global reach. To this day I remain committed to that goal and willing to support aggressive military action (including the use of drone strikes) to achieve it. But thanks in large part to the Iraq War, I no longer consider myself a Republican or a man of the right.

The reason I continue (like President Obama) to support the original vision of the War on Terror is that it was and is based on a correct judgment of the fundamental difference between (stateless) terrorists and traditional (state-based) military opponents. Even the most bloodthirsty tyrant will invariably temper his actions in war out of a concern for how his adversary will respond, and he will likewise act out of a concern for maintaining and maximizing his own power. Political leaders can thus be deterred by actions (and threats of action) by other states. Members of al-Qaeda-like groups, by contrast, seek in all cases to inflict the maximum possible number of indiscriminate deaths on their enemies and demonstrate no concern about the lives of their members. They are therefore undeterrable, which means that the only way to combat them is to destroy them.

Unfortunately, the right began to disregard the crucial distinction between terrorists and states right around the time of the January 2002 State of the Union speech, when President Bush broadened the scope of the War on Terror to include an “axis of evil” consisting of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. After that, the mood among conservatives began to grow fierce. Some columnists denied the effectiveness of deterrence against states and advocated unilateral preventive war to overthrow hostile regimes instead. Others openly promoted American imperialism. Still others explicitly proposed that the United States act to topple the governments of a series of sovereign nations in the Muslim Middle East, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

And these were the intellectually respectable suggestions, published in mainstream newspapers and long-established journals of opinion. Farther down the media hierarchy, on cable news, websites, and blogs, conservatives of all stripes closed ranks, unleashing a verbal barrage on any and all who dissented from a united front in favor of unapologetic American military muscle. The participants in this endless pep rally were insistent on open-ended war, overtly hostile to dissent, and thoroughly unforgiving of the slightest criticism of the United States abroad. Self-congratulation and self-righteousness ruled the day.

Continue reading here…

 

Jeb Covers Up The Family Legacy of Economic Destruction With a Lies

jeb-bush-this-week

PoliticusUSA

On ABC’s This Week, Jeb Bush lied about Obama’s record on the debt to cover up his family history of destroying the American economy.

Here is the video:

When asked about the debt, former Gov. Bush said that Obama has not been serious about deficit reduction,

I haven’t seen the seriousness of the president’s efforts. I’d love to see a specific plan that really did reform- bend the cost curve for Medicare and the entitlement system. I haven’t seen it, so if there is through these talks, some kind of consensus that emerged, I don’t think you should say, ‘no, no, no’ about anything.’

Frankly, there was already been one of the largest tax increases in American history a month ago. And frankly, we ought to be focused on sustained economic growth, which grows more revenue for people and for government than any tax increase that’s been suggested, so there are a lot of things that could be done to create a real grand bargain. And let the process work. I’m hopeful that the president’s sincere about this.

Jeb Bush was completely lying about both Obama’s seriousness about reducing the national debt, and the drivers of our debt. It is stunning that Bush would so openly try to fool the American people into forgetting his brother’s role in creating our current debt problem. Bush repeated the Great Republican Lie that entitlement spending is responsible for the debt. (Bush also ignored the fact that President Obama has put entitlement reform on the table numerous times during his presidency.)

The best way to illustrate both how we got here and who got us here is with the graph below:

debt-graph

If you look at the impact of the policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, it becomes clear who was/is not taking the debt seriously. President Obama’s policies will only add $983 billion to the debt over the course of his eight years in office, while George W. Bush’s policies added $5.1 trillion to the debt during his presidency.

The other debt on Obama’s record was caused by the collapse of the economy, and we all know who is responsible for The Great Recession:

george-w-bush

Before Jeb Bush can get back into politics, he has to rehabilitate the family name. He started this process with a speech defending his brother’s record at the 2012 Republican convention, and he is continuing it by trying to massage away from the memories of voters his brother’s responsibility for destroying the economic health of the country.

In order to explain away the facts, Jeb Bush has to repeat stupid and obvious lies about the president passing the “largest tax increase in history,” and “not being serious about the debt.” Entitlement spending and how this debt was created are two separate issues that Republicans are trying to mix up in order to accomplish their ideological goal of destroying the social safety net.

Before the sequester, Obama had already slashed the debt by $2.5 trillion. However, this apparently isn’t serious enough for Jeb Bush.

Jeb Bush wants back into politics, but his brother’s legacy is the main reason why he will never be president. Jeb Bush can tell all the lies he wants, but as long as Americans are still living with the economic pain caused by this brother, he will never win a presidential election.

Tuesday Blog Roundup – 3-5-2013

Health care will be an Obama legacy
Julian Zelizer says Republican officials now see powerful incentives for them to embr..

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McCain Admits Republicans Put Grudges Ahead of National Security in Hagel Filibuster

PoliticusUSA

Republicans have offered up a litany of excuses for filibustering former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel’s appointment as Defense Secretary, and none of them make a lot of sense. But the award of biggest fail belongs to John McCain. John McCain filibustered Hagel yesterday over Hagel’s criticism of Bush, but in 2008 McCain’s harsh unleashing on Bush left no stone unturned.

Republicans are supposed to be rebranding their party, but instead, they’re busy making history by filibustering a defense secretary nominee. This is the first time the filibuster has been used against a defense secretary nominee (note: Republicans are pretending it wasn’t a filibuster). Perhaps Republicans aren’t concerned about national security after all.

Of the many reasons given for obstructing the Republican nominee, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) offered the most insane. After McCain threatened to block Hagel unless the Obama administration answered his questions about Benghazi (McCain was too busy giving interviews on camera complaining about the lack of information on Benghazi to actually attend one of the briefings on Benghazi), and the Obama administration complied, McCain moved the goal post again. Now he’s holding a grudge over Hagel’s criticism of Bush. Apparently McCain thinks that aligning the party with George W Bush will be helpful.

Yesterday McCain cried to Fox News that Hagel has said mean things about George W Bush and people don’t forget that:

To be honest with you Neil, it goes back to there is a lot of ill will towards Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly. At one point said he was the worst President since Herbert Hoover. Said the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War which is nonsense. And was very anti his own party and people. People don’t forget that.

If “people” (aka: Republicans) are as petty as McCain said they are, then that would mean that the Republican Party put their grudges about Bush ahead of national security.

This probably isn’t the best argument McCain could have made for the GOP poutrage vote.

Furthermore, this is the same McCain who told the Washington Times in October of 2008 that he rejected many of Bush’s failed policies, and that he would not be four more years of W. McCain listed Bush’s many failures:

“Spending, the conduct of the war in Iraq for years, growth in the size of government, larger than any time since the Great Society, laying a $10 trillion debt on future generations of America, owing $500 billion to China, obviously, failure to both enforce and modernize the [financial] regulatory agencies that were designed for the 1930s and certainly not for the 21st century, failure to address the issue of climate change seriously,” Mr. McCain said in an interview with The Washington Times aboard his campaign plane en route from New Hampshire to Ohio.

“Those are just some of them,” he said with a laugh, chomping into a peanut butter sandwich as a few campaign aides in his midair office joined in the laughter.

Those are harsh words. McCain spared Bush nothing, raking him over the coals on his out of control spending, his financial regulatory agency failures, his $10 trillion debt, and of course, “(T)he conduct of the war in Iraq for years”, accused the man who now claims that criticizing the surge is a reason Hagel should not be nominated. Americans await McCain voting against himself, should he be nominated for anything, because people don’t forget.

41 Republicans voted against Hagel’s nomination to head the Pentagon, but he did get 4 votes from Republicans, giving him close the number he needs to overcome a Republican filibuster (essentially 59, he needs 60).

McCain admitted that Hagel is likely to be confirmed after recess, which sounded exactly like it reads: After Republicans get over their preschool recess pout, they will concede that — SIGH — having someone running the Pentagon is probably a decent idea. However, they will have achieved their goal of undermining Hagel and Obama in the eyes of the world, since Hagel will miss a defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels next week. Republicans must be pleased to force America’s defense secretary out of the NATO conference. This is coming from the party that made security at Benghazi an issue. They’d better hope nothing happens unitl they come back from recess. USA! USA! USA!

We can only hope that the rest of the world understands that Republicans are a minority insurgent party that doesn’t represent most Americans, and thus their lack of support is indicative of nothing other than their hurt feelings that they lost yet another national election. Hagel, after all, represents a stark rebuke of the modern day Republican Party. Hagel called out the Iraq debacle at the time, and although he supported McCain’s 2000 run, by 2008 he had drifted to the center (also known as away from crazy).

McCain’s latest excuse is just another reactionary hit, aimed at the messenger instead of the problem. Hagel’s criticisms were valid, and the neo cons will never forgive him for being right. The Republican Senators’ temper tantrum over Hagel should be recalled the next time a Republican tries to suggest that the problem in DC is that Obama won’t work with them.