Nel's New Day

July 19, 2016

Only GOP Gets Pass for Making Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. That’s what Republicans said this week when Leslie Stahl asked GOP vice-president candidate Mike Pence about staunchly supporting the Iraq War and Donald Trump excused him. That’s what a GOP delegate said about Melania Trump’s speech on the first night of the GOP convention that copied segments about values from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic convention, the wife of the man who Trump denigrated for his lack of values.

Plagiarism seems to be a family pattern for the Trumps:  much of the materials from Trump Institute’s “get-rich-quick” ideas came from “an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier,” according to NYT’s Jonathan Martin. Plagiarism ended Joe Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1988, but Trump has been called the Teflon Man because nothing sticks to him. The GOP position that mistakes are no problem seem to not be extended to Democrats.

Last night at the convention was a night of fear and doom highlighted by Patricia Smith, mother of a man who died in the attack on the diplomatic post at Benghazi (Libya), when she emphatically said that she holds Hillary Clinton personally responsible for the death of her son. (Fox watchers missed her speech, however, because it broadcast a live interview with Donald Trump at the same time as her speech.) Smith claims that Clinton lied to her; family members of other losses at Benghazi do not agree with Smith. Steve Benen described the manipulation of a woman’s grief for political purposes as “the lowest point a party has reached in my lifetime.” Throughout the evening, the incessant cry of “lock her up” about Hillary made the delegates sound like crowds rioting during the French Revolution.

While the media’s obsession with Clinton and Benghazi, it largely ignored George W. Bush’s part in the Middle East conflicts, a disaster that has killed hundreds of times more people—both in the 9/11 attack and the ensuing wars—than the four tragic deaths at Benghazi. As Maureen Dodd reported in a recent column, “Bush’s Call to Invade Iraq Looking Even Worse,” Trump agrees with a report in Jean Edward Smith’s biography, Bush, “that W. ignored warnings before 9/11, and overreacted afterward.” He behaved like a teenager who didn’t pay attention while driving and then over corrected into the ditch—but millions of times worse.

Recent reports show that Bush’s actions, responsible for the current dangers from radical terrorists, ignored the results of the 9/11 congressional inquiry released in 2002. After 14 years, former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) forced the release of 28 pages from this report showing that the United States blamed the wrong country for the 3,000 deaths on 9/11. Despite heavy redactions, the pages reveal that the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack on the United states were paid by Saudi Arabia and identifies serious communication failures between the CIA and the FBI that provided intelligence failure before the attacks.

In addition, the view of Saudi Arabia as an “ally” led to the FBI’s refusal to investigate the Saudi hijackers. Within the 28 pages is that statement that connections “suggest … incontrovertible evidence [exists] that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi government.” Another part of the newly-released findings is that “Saudi Government officials in the United States may have ties to Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist network.”

After the 9/11 attack, the FBI failed to interview key Saudi Arabian witnesses while relying on false second-hand information. Despite the FAA’s closure of the U.S. air space, they allowed key Saudi Arabians to almost immediately flee the United States because of their friendship with the Bush family. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were identified as Saudi citizens, but W. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.

Months before the attack on 9/11, however, W. and his administration had already begun planning to attack Iraq. He started immediately after his first inauguration when he also cut taxes by $1 trillion and created a deficit, beginning with $400 billion after the former president, Bill Clinton, had brought the country to a surplus. Dick Cheney said that “Saddam’s own son-in-law” told them that “Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.” Yet in 2003, reporters found that the son-in-law had said the opposite, that “all weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear—were destroyed.”

Despite claims to the contrary from Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice, the aluminum tubes were the wrong size for centrifuges but appropriate for conventional, non-WMD rockets and “innocuous.” There were no links at that time between Iraq and a Qaeda although Colin Powell said the opposite.  W. claimed an IAEA report said that Iraq was “six months away from developing a nuclear weapon.” No such report existed, and the IAEA reported that it had “found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.” And on and on with the lies.

Over one million Iraqi men, women, and children have been killed in the conflict, and another two million are refugees in other countries. Another 1.7 million are displaced within the country. One million U.S. veterans were injured in the war, and 4,491 died.

W. always claimed that releasing this information would “make it harder for us to win the war on terror.” What he really means is that the release of the information would be harder for him to start the war that developed the terror in today’s Middle East.

To accomplish his goal, he enlisted the support of Tony Blair, then British prime minister, “to start a war on dodgy intelligence with inadequate planning to control the killing fields of a post-Saddam landscape, a landscape that eventually spawned the Islamic state.” That’s the conclusion of the 2.6 million-word report from the British government’s Chilcot inquiry. They ignored the report of U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix who said that he found no weapons of mass destruction. Blair expressed concerns about the French, and W. answered:

“Yeah, but what did the French ever do for anyone? What wars did they win since the French Revolution?”

Key findings from the British inquiry into the Iraq War:

  • There was “no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein” in March 2003 and military action was “not a last resort.”
  • The UK “chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted.”
  • Tony Blair’s note to George W. Bush on July 28, 2002, saying UK would be with the US “whatever,” was the moment Britain was set on a path to war
  • Judgments about the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD “were presented with a certainty that was not justified.”
  • Tony Blair told attorney general Lord Goldsmith Iraq had committed breaches of UN Security Council resolution 1441 without giving evidence to back up his claim
  • Planning for post-war Iraq was “wholly inadequate.”
  • Iran, North Korea and Libya were considered greater threats in terms of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons proliferation.
  • The joint intelligence committee believed it would take Iraq five years, after the lifting of sanctions, to produce enough fissile material for a weapon.
  • There was no evidence that Iraq had tried to acquire fissile material and other components or – were it able to do so – that it had the technical capabilities to turn these materials into a usable weapon.
  • Saddam’s regime was “not judged likely” to share its weapons or knowhow with terrorist groups.

After the report came out, W. admitted “mistakes” in Iraq but said that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. The U.S. created Hussein, employing him starting in 1959 and sending him millions of dollars, intelligence and tactical advice after making him the dictator in the 1980s. W. simply destroyed any Iraqi institutions remaining with no plan on how to rebuild these. Thirteen years later, poverty and violence in Iraq are rampant, and many people are without reliable electricity, running water, and healthcare.

As always, conservatives blame everyone except themselves—in this case the Iraqis. James Kirchick wrote in the National Review:

“If supporters of the Iraq War can be blamed for anything, it is being guilty of, at worst, a naïveté whereby they expected too much from Iraqis—not, as the latter-day inquisitors of George W. Bush and Tony Blair would have it, of a malignant desire to rape and pillage. Iraq’s tragic predicament is the result not of Western imperialism but of the particular pathologies of a Muslim-Arab world whose depredations are now on full view across the region, from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen and beyond.”

The GOP push at this time is to complete wipe out terrorists in the Middle East. That means eliminating whatever infrastructure exists in these countries, putting in more dictators, and then leaving the countries worse off that they were before they did their regime-building. The result will be more hundreds of thousands of people dead and more hundreds of thousands of people left homeless and wandering a planet where they are unwanted.

This is the party that wants to put Hillary Clinton in prison after she was exonerated of involvement with the deaths of four people in Benghazi. The GOP must keep bombing countries—14 of them in the Islamic world since 1980—because politicians make money from contractors creating the war machines. In addition, the U.S. accounts for 79 percent of weapons sales to the Middle East, and the majority of all foreign weapons sales around the world.   That’s one way that GOP candidates get elected; they beat the war drums and then use funding from manufacturers of war weapons.

June 9, 2015

June Pot-pourri

Best news of the week: The gun-friendly Supreme Court may understand that enough is enough. In refusing to hear the case Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco, the Supremes have let stand a lower-court ruling that gun owners are required to keep their guns “well-regulated” by locking them up. Still standing is a 2007 San Francisco regulation requiring all guns to be locked up, disabled, and/or controlled by a trigger lock when stored in a home. The two dissenting justices are Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. A gun in the home increases the likelihood of gun related deaths, including accidental deaths, and injuries and death to children. The lower-court ruling came from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which covers my beloved state of Oregon.

Speaking fees from the GOP president: While conservatives rant about the “Clinton Cash scandal” when Hillary Clinton donates her speaking fees to charity, they ignore George W. Bush, who has been given $100,000 to $175,000 for over 200 paid speeches, putting the money into his personal account as he continues to “replenish the ol’ coffers,” according to Bush. The “coffers” are up to about $15 million dollars. One of these speeches was at the 2014 International Bowl Expo where Bush explained that “bowling is fun.” He also raked in $100,000 at a fundraiser in McKinney (TX) for a homeless shelter.

mckinney2Speaking of McKinney: Witnesses have given another side to the pool fight story in McKinney (TX) about unruly black kids who didn’t belong at the pool party. The problems started when a white couple came up to the kids—who lived in the area—and used racial slurs (“black f*ckers”), insulted them (“go back to your Section 8 housing”), and slapped the teenage girl who hosted the party after she tried to defend a 14-year-old white girl who was also at the party. The couple then called police, claiming that black kids were fighting. Eric Casebolt, now resigned from the force, shouted at the young black girl kneeling on the ground, “Get on the ground.” He immediately grabbed her hair and pushed her face down into the grass before putting his knee on her back.  On a Daily Show segment, Jessica Williams pointed out that there has been progress because “a cop pulled a gun on a group of black kids and nobody is dead.” That segment is here. Casebolt, who also pulled his gun on unarmed teens in bathing suits, was “2008 Officer of the Year.”

President Obama’s invasion of Texas: Texas citizens have received over $11 million in FEMA funds after the most recent severe flooding. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who couldn’t support aid for Sandy victims because of the “pork” and “wasteful spending” in the Disaster Relief Act of 2013, demanded money for his own state. The “pork” in the 2013 bill was to “replenish FEMA’s disaster relief fund, which funds relief from future disasters.” Other “pork” came from bribes to red state Republicans—including Texas—to pass the bill over their filibuster. Texas and Oklahoma have had over one-fourth of FEMA’s declared disasters in the past six years, Texas at 75 and Oklahoma at 45. Former Gov. Rick “I hate the federal government” Perry said after fire devastated much of his state, “It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency.”

Two sides of Ted Cruz:

“This [Disaster Relief Act of 2013] bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington–an addiction to spending money we do not have.”—2013

“Democrats and Republicans in the congressional delegation will stand as one in support of the federal government meeting its statutory obligations to provide the relief to help the Texans who are hurting.”—2015

Cruz isn’t alone in his hypocrisy. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) voted against emergency aid to Hurricane Sandy victims when he was a U.S. representative, arguing that he didn’t “think Arkansas needs to bail out the Northeast.” The Northeast bailed out Arkansas last July when Cotton got FEMA funds for his state after severe flooding. Every Colorado Republican in the House voted against post-Sandy relief before they wanted emergency funding for Colorado in September 2013.

Shocker of the week: President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy was wrong, according to his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He told the British newspaper The Times, that the plans to replace Saddam Hussein’s regime with democracy were unworkable and that he had serious concerns from the first time he heard about the idea. [After the article was published, Rumsfeld denied that he had criticized Bush or that his statements contradicted his previous positions about the Iraq War.]

Loss of the judiciary in Kansas: After Gov. Sam Brownback destroyed Kansas’ economy, he signed a bill to obliterate the state’s judiciary if is rules against a law that he likes. He went into a snit after the state supreme court ruled that the inequality between school funding for rich and poor districts was unconstitutional. The justices ordered the disparity fixed, and the legislature stripped the supreme court of its authority to appoint local chief judges and set district court budgets. Brownback and the legislature have threatened the supreme court with recall elections, splitting the court into two sections, lowering the retirement age, and creating partisan elections. If the supreme court strikes down these laws, it  loses its funding.

The week’s oddity: A ruling is imminent on the lawsuit from Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, founder of AIG, who is suing the U.S. government because it saved his company from financial ruin. He claims that the government seized his assets illegally and wants to be paid the original value of the company. Before the bailout, he was forced out of the company because he used off-the-books schemes to fake profitability and paid a $15 million fine for the crime while AIG paid $1.6 billion in penalties. James Millstein, the Treasury official who oversaw AIG’s restructuring, said about AIG:

“The AIG which came begging to the Fed’s doorstep was the AIG that Hank Greenberg built. Its capital structure was opaque, it was heavily dependent on short-term funding, with a highly leveraged financial products subsidiary that had been organized to evade effective regulatory oversight. [Greenberg] ran the parent company like a hedge fund with a triple A rating.”

AIG had gone to other lenders before, in a last resort, it went to the federal government. It would receive $85 billion for an 80 percent stake in the company and the option of additional lending. The U.S. Treasury took AIG’s offer. Greenberg’s lawyer is David Boies, whose career includes getting George W. Bush appointed to president for his first term and saving marriage equality in California. Judge Thomas Wheeler is a George W. Bush appointee. A Greenberg win could undo the entire financial bailout, possibly forcing every bailed-out bank, no matter how successful, into receivership. Greenberg just wants $40 billion.

GOP problem with losing “Obamacare”: With the Supreme Court judgment on King v. Burwell, everyone is getting nervous, especially the GOP legislators who can’t figure out what to do if the Supremes do what the GOP wants. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) wrote:

“Six million people risk losing their health care subsidies, yet @POTUS continues to deny that Obamacare is bad for the American people.”

The lawsuit to do away with subsidies in states that use the federal exchanges is funded by a conservative organization, promoted by conservative think tanks and conservative law professors, and backed by many top Republicans including several of Thune’s GOP colleagues. The minority of lower court judges siding with the plaintiffs are all Republicans. Only Republican-appointed justices are expected to vote for the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court, and the majority of the justices are Republicans. The lead attorney for the plaintiffs boasted that he does not plan to “lose any Republican-appointed judges’ votes” when his argument was being considered by a lower court. The Republicans are most likely more nervous after a poll shows that 55 percent of the respondents don’t want the subsidies taken away by the Supreme Court.

“News” that people can’t trust: Journalism is expensive which is why newspapers publish information that corporations send them. CNN plans to sell air time to corporations for in-house programs that look and feel like news but actually present the corporate PR goals and narrative. The new CNN advertorial program will be called “Courageous.” Corporations will be willing to pay for programming on “Courageous” in order to trade on the perception—from some—about CNN‘s “trustworthiness” and unwillingness to “blur the lines.”

Owned by Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting, CNN already published 18 “original series” last year, 17 of them sponsored by a corporation. CNN’s in-house studio will produce “news-like content on behalf of advertisers” to reflect marketers’ growing desire for articles and videos that feel like editorial work. “Courageous” will highlight “news,” such as the building of a manufacturing plant or a philanthropic effort, according to Otto Bell, the lead of the studio and former creative director at OgilvyEntertainment. Dan Riess, executive vice president of integrated marketing and branded content at Turner, said, “This isn’t about confusing editorial with advertising. This is about telling advertisers’ stories.” Oh, sure.

[Note: Nobody pays me for writing this blog. It’s just my perception of the world!]

September 12, 2014

George W. Bush Created ISIL

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 7:40 PM
Tags: , , ,

It started 13 years ago with planes crashing into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field. George W. Bush’s first action was to ensure that any potential accomplices from Saudi Arabia were flown home before any investigations. A month later, Donald Rumsfeld stood in front of a $2-billion bomber and told the aircrews:

“We have two choices. Either we change the way we live, or we must change the way they live. We choose the latter.”

Since then the U.S. has killed a million people and reduced tens of millions of others to disability, dislocation, and poverty with more than 94,000 air strikes. Most of these were launched on Afghanistan and Iraq, but others covered Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Rumsfeld achieved his goal of changing the way that they live. Three months before 9/11, Bush gave Al-Qaeda almost $50 million; two years later he acquiesced to their demand that he withdraw U.S. forces from U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia.

ISIL goes back to 2004 when Western propaganda needed a villain. U.S. military intelligence officers explained: “We were basically paying up to $10,000 a time to opportunists, criminals and chancers who passed off fiction and supposition about [the original leader of ISIS precursor] as cast-iron fact, making him out as the linchpin of just about every attack in Iraq.” After the leader’s death in 2006, the U.S. continued to describe the Iraqi Resistance as bloodthirsty religious fanatics instead of the people of an invaded country resisting Bush’s preemptive occupation. According to a Congressional Research Service investigation, the group was responsible for only two percent of violence incidents. The real violence came from U.S. air strikes, night raids, and other indiscriminate use of force.

The 1,000 members of ISIL found support after the Western- and Arab royalist-backed war in Syria during 2012. ISIL moved from there back to Iraq where it again exaggerates its strength and accents its brutality. By that time, the sectarian Maliki government had exacerbated the problems by politically and economically marginalizing the largely Sunni Arab areas of northern and western Iraq where security forces used brutality to deal with dissent and political demands.

The U.S. met resistance in Iraq by recruiting, training, and directing Iraqi death squads, largely from the Shia militia. Its reign of terror in 2005 and 2006 tortured and killed tens of thousands of mostly Sunni Arab men and boys by ethnically cleansing most of Baghdad. Adnan al-Asadi, the leader of that campaign is still in office where he runs the Interior Ministry. With the current crisis, al-Asadi has released a new surge of death squad activity.

Almost 70 years ago, George Orwell wrote, “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” He listed “torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians.” During the past 13 years, the U.S. has committed all these atrocities.

President Obama, elected on a “peace” platform, now has the biggest military budget since the second world war, supervised eight times as many drone strikes, and become commander-in-chief of special forces operations in at least 134 countries, twice as many as during the regime of George W. Bush. Night raids in Afghanistan have gone from 20 per month in May 2009 to 1,000 during the same time period by April 2011; senior officials report that these kill the wrong people most of the time.

The more deaths, the better the recruiting of terrorists. During the massive tonnage of U.S. bombs dropped on Cambodia, the CIA said that Khmer Rouge recruiting “has been most effective among refugees subjected to B-52 strikes.” During his speech this week, the president announced his intention of escalating U.S. bombing in Iraq, but he has already launched over 24,000 air strikes in Afghanistan, vastly increasing the number of U.S. enemies.

President Obama’s use of Islamist militias to destabilize Libya supported ISI by giving them weapons, equipment, and training. Many of them were veterans of groups that worked with the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Qatari special forces in Libya, with U.S. support, just moved over to Syria where they trained al-Nusra in the use of chemical weapons which almost started another U.S. bombing campaign last year.

The lesson of 9/11 should have been that creating and arming groups of religious fanatics to fight secular enemies leads to their increased power and refusal to submit to external control. The U.S. and its allies, the U.K., France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, insisted on undermining Kofi Annan’s 2012 peace plan in Syria and pledged ever more support, funding and weapons to the rebels. With the help of the Western propaganda, the coalition claimed to fund and arm only “moderate” forces, allowing ISIL to gain strength and eliminate any rivals.

When Iraqis participated in the 2011 Arab Spring protests, the repressive sectarian government sent security forces to beat, torture, arrest, and kill the demonstrators. Protests after the arrest of activist Dr. al-Issawi, a Maliki opponent, spread to 14 cities and were greeted with the usual brutality, firing on demonstrators in Mosul and Fallujah. The killings have continued since then as the Maliki’s government has banned satellite TV channels, including Al-Jazeera, to censor news of any uprising.

Since then, the Iraqi problems have worsened as the U.S. denies any diplomatic attempts to recognize opposition to the U.S.-installed Maliki government. Tribal leaders have tried to approach U.S. officials with no response. With no attempt to work out differences, ISIS will only grow stronger. If the nation can work out diplomacy with Iran, it can certainly do the same in Iraq if all people in the country can be given civil and political rights.

Instead of using air strikes and sending more arms to the Middle East for ISIL to take, the United States could work on changing the sectarian dynamics in Iraq. People who lost their jobs and suffered from bombings, arrests, torture, and watching murders are those who now support ISIL. Every bomb that is dropped has the marks of the Kurds and the Shia to the Sunnis. A partnership with Iran could move Iraq toward inclusive governing because Tehran is worried about its neighbor’s growing instability. Diplomacy, especially with a coalition, would undermine ISIL, and Middle Eastern countries might stop arming anyone in Syria, including the al-Qaeda supporter al-Nusra Front, who claims to be against Assad.

If the U.S. stopped sending arms to the Middle East, an embargo might stop Russia and Iran from supporting the Assad regime. As long as this nation sends arms, other countries—Qatar, Saudi Arabia, etc.—will send arms to what we see as the opposition. This policy could move toward eliminating nuclear arsenals, including that in Israel.

None of this can happen, however, as long as leading U.S. conservatives shout for war in the Middle East. The odd couple, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), are demanding that the president call for more war, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is agreeing with them. Republicans won’t notice that these legislators have the authority to call on Congress to declare war, that, in fact, it is the role of Congress and not the president. Voting to send more troops into Iraq would create a problem in the upcoming election. People want something done about ISIL, but they don’t want to go back to war.

Two beheadings in Iraq have driven 59 percent of the people in the United States toward war in the Middle East, yet tens of thousands of beheadings by Mexican drug cartels don’t seem to disturb them. This past summer, Israel killed 2000 civilians, and in the last month Saudi Arabia beheaded 26 people. Most people in the U.S. have either nodded sagely about the importance of these actions or remained ignorant of them, but they went insane over two beheadings.

Two years ago, Dennis Kucinich emphasized the importance “of strong and patient diplomacy, working together with the community of nations to address security challenges, letting our allies take responsibility for regional security, being willing to talk to anyone in the cause of stability, and setting aside stale, ideological doctrines of intervention.” Reasonable people could look for diplomatic solutions, but conservatives aren’t reasonable. Their only goal is to take over all three branches of government.

Bringing back the draft would make any war more relevant to the people of the United States, possibly making them more thoughtful about hard decisions.

December 12, 2013

How George W. Bush Failed the GOP – Rachel Maddow

Meet the Press - Season 65Rachel Maddow is expanding her job responsibilities: she now has a monthly column in the Washington Post with a six-month contract.  I don’t read the Post regularly and wondered if I would come across her first column. No problem! Reprints popped up today in two of my favorite online news services, Truthout and Reader Supported News (RSN).

The mission of Truthout, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, reads: “Truthout works to spark action by revealing systemic injustice and providing a platform for transformative ideas, through in-depth investigative reporting and critical analysis. With a powerful, independent voice, we will spur the revolution in consciousness and inspire the direct action that is necessary to save the planet and humanity.”

Both sites provide writings from the greatest progressive thinkers of our time, and both come from Marc Ash. Truthout donations are tax-deductible; contributions to RSN are not. Ash wrote, “This is a new experiment: can an organization serve the community and still pay its taxes? The answer should be yes.” In neither case, however, do corporations control the content.

Ash started Truthout in 2001 after George W. Bush stole the presidency; RSN came along in 2009. Scott Galindez joined Ash at RSN the next year. Like many of us, he is “angry, and believe[s] that one way to take our government back is to inform the public of the truth.” What he asks from the readers is “to spread the news we provide.”

Sister site of RSN is Writing for Godot where readers can post their own essays. In Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, Godot never comes, but many others do. Galindez writes that the “God” for which people wait can “be equated with social justice and order, tolerance and compassion.” These have not come for Galindez for the past nine years, but perhaps tomorrow …. And that’s why we follow progressive websites—reading about social justice and order, tolerance and compassion.

Since Jeff Bezos, the $33 billionaire founder/CEO of, purchased The Washington Post, he has kept a low profile. Hiring Rachel Maddow to write a column speaks well of his intentions. In no way would I presume to paraphrase Rachel Maddow. Here is her column, verbatim, about how George W. Bush failed the GOP. You can go to the original to find links to more information about her subject. Thank you, RSN.


After a presidency, what comes next? Not just for the president but also for the members of the administration, the president’s allies in Congress, his or her political party?

In the eight years of the George W. Bush administration, no hearty saplings were ever able to take root in the shade of that big tree. No one expected Vice President Dick Cheney to ever be a contender for the presidency – part of his effectiveness was his willingness to say and do very unpopular things. When he snapped at ABC’s Martha Raddatz, “So?” as she questioned him about public disapproval of the Iraq war, he wrote the perfect epitaph for his vice presidency.

But by the time the Bush era was winding down, the whole administration, including the president, was stewed in terrible, Cheney-level disapproval ratings. And now, almost no one who played a significant role in that administration is anywhere to be found in electoral politics, beyond the tertiary orbits of Punch-and-Judy cable news and the remains of what used to be the conservative “think tank” circuit.

That’s true even for former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who had no formal role in his brother’s administration but will probably always find the familial association an insurmountable obstacle to his own presidential hopes.

Unlike the Reagan administration, the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration, the George W. Bush presidency elevated precisely no one to the ranks of national leadership who wasn’t there before. The 2008 Republican presidential primaries were like some odd eight-year cicada hatch in which the candidates went underground in 2000 and then birthed themselves after Bush and Cheney were gone, as if the intervening years had never happened.

The 2000 second-place finisher, Sen. John McCain? You’re next in line for 2008! And four years later: second-place Mitt Romney? You’re next in line for 2012!

The unpopular presidency of George W. Bush has proved to be a blackball on the résumés of a generation of Republican leaders. Maybe Cheney’s daughter Liz will break the pattern next year with a successful Senate bid in Wyoming, but if you made it through that sentence without spitting coffee out your nose, you’re in rare company.

The fascinating turmoil in the Republican Party since 2008 is not just a personnel problem – it’s also ideological. If you were putting together a legacy to inspire the next generation of conservatives, you wouldn’t pick the Bush administration’s trailing ends of land wars, budget deficits, torture, a crusade against gay rights and a financial collapse to rival the Great Depression. The isolationism and libertarian iconography of the Ron Paul wing of the party really does appeal to young people more than Bush-Cheney Republicanism. Social conservatives really do feel backed into a corner and ready to fight against a country that is turning against them faster than most pollsters can keep up. There really is something ripe for renewal in Republicans’ self-conception as fiscal conservatives, when the clear pattern is that budget deficits grow under Republicans and shrink under Democrats. The Republican Party is a churning swirl of conflicting ideological currents, and that’s going to take some time to work out.

But part of the reason it may be taking so long already is those lost years: the period from 2000 to 2008 that effectively obviated the authority and the leadership potential of all of Washington’s Republican elites. The George W. Bush administration didn’t just cast too much shade on the next generation of leadership – it also apparently poisoned the ground.

The Obama administration’s ability to nurture and support the next round of national leadership in the Democratic Party is going to be a big part of its long-term legacy. Unless Vice President Biden’s presidential hinting suddenly takes a turn for the serious, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is the obvious inheritor of the party’s mantle. But, as in 2008, the Beltway may be overstating her inevitability. The grass roots aren’t all with her, frankly, and it’s yet to be seen if she’s interested in trying to win them over. Mainstream press may buy big-dollar donors (and more mainstream press), but it can’t buy the passionate volunteers and activists and excitement that are the oxygen for a winning campaign and sustained, effective leadership.

The collapse of national leadership prospects for the Republican Party is one of the greatest political failures and most important legacies of George W. Bush. Barack Obama looks less likely to repeat that fate, but it depends on a strong grove of nationally viable Democrats starting to grow now. The crescendo of attention to Elizabeth Warren is a healthy part of that process, as is the growing national interest in such diverse Democrats as Sherrod Brown, Claire McCaskill, Cory Booker, Wendy Davis, Martin O’Malley, Deval Patrick, Andrew Cuomo and Amy Klobuchar.

Inside the White House, the task of growing one’s own successors must seem like one of the less pressing items on the president’s long daily to-do list. But the previous administration’s trail of scorched earth and exiles has curtailed the prospects for the Republican Party and governing conservatism more profoundly than almost anything that administration pursued in terms of policy. It is a cautionary tale that Democrats and the Obama White House should heed sooner rather than later. Grow your successors, nurture your legacy.

November 10, 2013

Evangelicals Need Jews to Bring Jesus Back to Earth

Skip Thanksgiving—the far-right wingnuts have commenced the war on “War on Christmas” beginning with Sarah Palin’s new book. According to Steve Benen, the three-fold attack of this tome is a tribute to the holiday, an explanation of Christianity’s superiority to atheism, and a guide to opposing all those “litigious secularists.” Anyone trying to understand why a business wanting customers from all beliefs should incorporate inclusive holiday-season language or why a non-Christian might not want to listen to governments showing a preference for Christianity over all other beliefs won’t find help in Palin’s directions. Instead, she thinks that these fringe beliefs endanger religious freedom in the country.

Palin probably ignored the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht yesterday. Literally “Crystal Night” and also called the Night of Broken Glass, the term names the attacks against Jews in Germany and parts of Austria by Hitler’s forces and non-Jewish civilians that killed 91 Jews and arrested and incarcerated another 30,000 in concentration camps. The name came from the broken glass covering the streets because attackers smashed windows in Jewish businesses, homes, hospitals, and schools. That horrific event changed the persecution from economic and social to beatings, incarceration, and murder.

Seventy-five years after the turn toward open violence that led to a world war, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe again. Two-thirds of respondents to a poll believe that this prejudice is a problem, 76% thought that anti-Semitism had increased over the last five years, and 46% said they worried about being verbally assaulted or harassed in public because they were Jewish. One-third of the respondents were worried about being physically attacked, and 57% said they had heard or seen someone claim over the last year that the Holocaust was a myth or had been exaggerated.

Almost 6,000 Jewish people in eight EU member states–Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and the UK–took part in the survey. About 90 percent of the EU’s Jewish population lives in these eight countries. The survey found 29% of those surveyed had considered emigrating because of concerns about safety, with particularly high figures recorded in Hungary (48%), France (46%) and Belgium (40%). One in five respondents had personally experienced at least one anti-Semitic verbal insult and/or a physical attack in the year before the survey.

One British respondent said the Internet communicated a “phenomenal” amount of anti-Semitic material: “This is in some ways setting us backwards as now young people are circulating content like the [anti-Semitic hoax] Protocols of the Elders of Zion which had, prior to the Internet, pretty much died out.” The report also said that Jewish people faced discrimination in schools and the workplace.

This week the U.S. and the World Jewish Congress criticized the far-right Hungarian Jobbik party for unveiling a statue of the wartime leader Miklós Horthy, who allied Hungary with Nazi Germany.

Not all people in the United States are open to Judaism, including the immediate (appointed) past president George W. Bush. This coming week he is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser in Irving (TX) for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute. Its purpose is to train people in the world to convert Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The goal is to “restore” Israel and the Jews and bring about about the second coming of Christ. The Dallas-based MJBI claims that it acts like the Apostle Paul in helping to “educate Christians in their role to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy and thus save some of them (Romans 11:11-14).”

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said he is disappointed that Bush cannot “accept the validity of the Jewish covenant.” Rabbi David Wolpe of Los Angeles’ Sinai Temple was more direct when he tweeted, “This is infuriating.” Bush follows last year’s star, Glenn Beck, who received a “Defender of Israel” award. The tickets this year range from $100 to $100,000. MJBI refused to say whether Bush would receive a speaking fee and, in fact, took his name off the website as keynote speaker.

MJBI board member Rabbi Marty Waldman of Baruch HaShem, a Messianic congregation in Dallas, explained that money is needed to hasten the return of Jesus. When there are “enough” Jewish people who call Jesus their savior, “some sort of a trigger will go off in heaven, and our father in heaven will say, ‘Okay, son, it’s time to get your bride,'” Waldman said.

These are some characteristics of people who “call Jesus their savior”:

Ignorance: While protesting the bill on legalized marriage equality in Illinois, a state representative failed to understand why people would advocate for civil rights in the debate. According to him, the United States was founded on “the scriptures,” not the constitution.

Fraud: LGBT-hater Dave Wilson used a creative way to get elected to the Houston Community College Board of Trustees by pretending to be black. Right-Wing Watch reported:

 “Wilson’s campaign fliers were filled with black faces that he admits to simply pulling off of websites, along with captions such as ‘Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.’ Another flier announces that he was ‘Endorsed by Ron Wilson,’ which is the name of an African-American former state representative. Only by reading the fine print will voters discover that the ‘Ron Wilson’ who actually endorsed Dave is his cousin. The cousin lives in Iowa.”

Wilson beat long-time incumbent Bruce Austin, who really is black, in the African-American district.

phillips_family-427x193Hypocrisy: Doug Phillips, married and father of eight children, has preached about his strong belief in “biblical patriarchy” over women and home-schooling. Women should not “work alongside men as their functional equals” outside the home, according to Phillips. Last week he stepped down from his position as president of Texas-based Vision Forum Ministries. Phillips wrote:

“I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.”

Phillips’ ministry took in $3.3 million in 2011; the related for-profit group, Vision Forum Inc. was paid $193,176 in 2011 for “labor and services.” Phillips plans to retain ownership of the for-profit business. The photo of Phillips and his family is from Vision Forum Ministries.

Bigotry: American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer accused First Lady Michelle Obama of inviting “demons into the White House.” She hosted an event honoring the Hindu “festival of lights.” Fischer said:

“This is a counterfeit religion. It is an Eastern religion. It is, in essence, an occult religion.  It’s a counterfeit, a false alternative to Christianity.  It ultimately represents the doctrine of demons, that is what you have with Hinduism and now this is being celebrated in the White House.”

Fischer called on the people of the nation to elect a Christian president. He missed the fact that George W. Bush also celebrated the Hindu holiday.

Intolerance: After the Rev. Frank Schaefer officiated his son’s same-sex marriage “because I love him so much and didn’t want to deny him that joy,” the pastor faces a church trial with accusations that he broke his pastoral vows by performing the ceremony.  Hundreds of other Methodist ministers have rejected anti-LGBT doctrine, and some of them also face discipline. Today 50 clergy members showed support for Schaefer by presiding over a same-sex ceremony in Philadelphia, one which will not have state support because of Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage equality.

Stupidity: Pat Robertson has been awarded the British Stonewall “Bigot of the Year” award reserved for “an individual who has gratuitously caused hurt and offense to gay people around the world,” according to the Daily Mail. In the U.S. right-wing extremists are rejecting Robertson because he has said that the world is older than 6,000 years. He was mocked because he denied the myth about the Earth’s age because the 6,000 years came, not from the Bible, but from a book by Ireland’s Archbishop James Ussher in the seventeenth century.

Next Sunday, I’ll fill you in on how everyone knows that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs. If you can’t wait, you can Google it!

April 25, 2013

‘Mission Accomplished’–Bush Has Library

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:55 PM
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One of my GOP friends, who is very socially progressive, keeps asking me when I’m going to stop blaming George W. Bush for the problems that we have now. I tell her that I’ll stop when the messes he caused get cleaned up. Today is the 10th anniversary of “Mission Accomplished,” when Bush made his misguided statement and the victorious banner was bravely unfurled over eight years before troops were withdrawn.

Today is also the day that Bush was joined by the current president and the other three living ex-presidents to dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The word “library” for this $250 million edifice is a misnomer: it is more of a museum and a Bush policy institute.

News clips, interactive screens, artifacts—even “hanging chads” from Florida’s punch cards—comprise the exhibits. The museum invites visitors to make the presidential decisions. A display makes the case for the Iraq war although the word “Iraq” was not mentioned at any time during today’s speeches. The “Mission Accomplished” banner isn’t in the library either. (Check this out for what else is missing–and a history of real presidential libraries. Clue: Busts of presidential pets Barney and Miss Beazley are there,)


As Bush stays invisible, his popularity grows. The GOP didn’t even invite him to their convention last summer. In time, memories fade. Here are some of Bush’s actions that we should remember:

  • Stole the presidency in 2000 when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor by stopping a recount of Florida votes that would actually have provided Al Gore with the necessary electoral votes.
  • Most likely stole the 2004 election as well, gaining vital electoral votes from Ohio despite unresolved questions about whether the former GOP Secretary of State altered the Election Night totals from rural Bible Belt counties.
  • Claimed he was a “uniter, not a divider” while campaigning for office before he launched his extremist right-wing agenda.
  • Hid his past as a party boy and a deserter during the Vietnam War when he went AWOL for over a year from the so-called “Champagne Division,” the Texas Air National Guard.
  • Signed more execution orders—152 people, including the mentally ill and domestic abuse victims—than any other governor in U.S. history while sparing only one life, that of a serial killer.
  • Raised more campaign money from corporate boardrooms than anyone at that time, paid for by CEOs who “educated” him about political wish lists.
  • Assaulted reproductive rights by cutting funds for U.N. family planning programs, barring military bases from offering abortions, putting right-wing evangelicals in regulatory positions where they rejected new birth control drugs, and issuing regulations making fetuses—but not women—eligible for federal healthcare.
  • Cut Pell Grant loans for poor students, affecting 1.5 million low-income students, and eliminated other federal job training programs that targeted young people.
  • Allowed corporations to destroy the environment through over 300 actions beginning with abandoning a campaign pledge to tax carbon emissions and then withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases as well as putting industry lobbyists in charge of agencies to keeping energy policies secret.
  • Allowed schools to reduce evolution to the same standing as the religious belief in “intelligent design.”
  • Destroyed learning in school through his “No Child Left Behind” initiative that made preparation for standardized tests and resulting test scores the top priority in schools.
  • Appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who promote extremists pro-business and social conservative interests.
  • Gutted the DOJ’s voting rights section, including firing seven U.S. attorneys who did not pursue overtly political cases because of lack of evidence.
  • Caused average household incomes to fall 4.2 percent, the only recent two-term president to preside over such a drop.
  • Caused millions of people to fall below the poverty line, increasing that number by 26.1 percent.
  • Caused poverty among children to explode by 21 percent.
  • Increased the number of people who lacked access to health care by 8 million while people steadily lost employer-provided benefits.
  • Let black New Orleans drown during Hurricane Katrina and did almost nothing to help thousands in the storm’s aftermath and rebuilding.
  • Pandered to religious right, for example by flying back to the White House to sign a bill to try to stop  the comatose Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube from being removed, using the term “sanctity of life” that wasn’t present months later during Katrina.
  • Set record for fewest press conferences.
  • Took the most vacation time—1,020 days in two four-year terms equaling more than one out of every three days.
  • Gutted global political progress by pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol which set requirements for 38 nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.
  • Embraced global isolationism by withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
  • Ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden from White House briefings while proceeding with his determination to invade Iraq, even before 9/11.
  • Ramped up war on drugs instead of terrorists.
  • Kept reading the picture book The Pet Goat to school children for seven minutes after he knew that the World Trade Centers were attacked in 9/11.
  • Turned to Iraq instead of Afghanistan, despite Iraq’s lack of Al Qaeda link.
  • Attacked the credibility of United Nation weapons inspectors who were correct about no nuclear weapons in Iraq.
  • Lied about Iraq’s weapons that did not exist.
  • Launched a preemptive war, ignoring the U.N.’s refusal to authorize an attack on Iraq, caused hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and forced more than a million refugees in an attack that killed almost 6,700 soldiers.
  • Abandoned the international Criminal Court by withdrawing from the ratification of the International Criminal Court Treaty, necessary to protect American troops from persecution.
  • Forced Colin Powell to present false evidence at the U.N.
  • Declared a war on CIA whistleblowers, leaking the name and destroying the career of Valerie Plame in retribution for her husband’s denial about a nuclear threat from Iraq.
  • Pardoned Scooter Libby, the man who actually leaked Plame’s name to the press.
  • Looted Baghdad except for the oil ministry.
  • Made the U.S. more dangerous by increasing Islamic radicalism and worsening the terror threat.
  • Allowing companies to give U.S. troops unsafe gear–from inadequate vests as protection against snipers to Humvees that could not protect soldiers from roadside bombs—resulting in an epidemic of brain injuries.
  • Continued war propaganda that used soldiers as PR props.
  • Failed to attend any soldiers’ funerals, even those in Arlington National Cemetery, about two miles from the White House.
  • Promoted the surge of war profiteering surged as corporate employers of top Bush officials made billions in Pentagon contracts starting with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, which made $39.5 billion, and his daughter, Liz Cheney, who ran a $300 million Middle East partnership program.
  • Ignored an international ban on torture and created a secret system of detention.
  • Opened the Gitmo, the offshore military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, filled with men turned over to the U.S. military by bounty hunters.
  • Evaded domestic and military justice systems through renditions to secret detention sites in eastern Europe.
  • Violated U.S. Constitution by ignoring basic civil liberties, most notably his massive domestic spying program that used big telecom companies to monitor online activities of millions of Americans without search warrants or court authority.
  • Built a federal debt crisis of $4 trillion to $6 trillion through his preemptive war.
  • Cut veterans’ healthcare funding by several billion dollars, military housing by another $1 billion, and opposed extending healthcare to National Guard families when the members were deployed overseas.
  • Cut income taxes in a manner that sent approximately one-fourth of the cuts to the top 1 percent of incomes with only 8.9 percent going to the middle 20 percent of earners.
  • Turned the power-hungry, arrogant operators Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld loose on the people of the United States.
  • Escaped accountability for any of his actions.
  • And more about torture, Wall Street, lack of worker protections, etc.

How dumb is George W. Bush? Jonathan Chait has an assessment.

According to his autobiography, his favorite job ever was being a sporting goods salesman at Sears. Would that he had stayed there!

December 29, 2012

Krauthammer Blames Obama

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 3:32 PM
Tags: , , , ,

After twelve years of George W. Bush’s disastrous tax cuts, we’re still waiting for the solution to the country’s economic difficulties. With the deadline for raising all the taxes in the country a little more than 48 hours away, the Republicans are still playing politics, but the president is keeping to his word.

The GOP refuses to admit why Bush lowered the tax rates. His rationale was that the country was in such good fiscal shape that reducing the deficit even more would damage the economy. Thus he claimed that he would moderate this reduction.

In his first address to Congress (February 2001), the appointed president said that he would eliminate $2 trillion in debt over the next decade while keeping a “contingency fund” of $1 trillion for emergencies. At the same time he claimed that the country had “money left over” for a tax cut. At least one Republican understood that Bush’s approach was wrong. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits to go the most fortunate among us.”

Two years later the deficit was $378 billion. It was evident that the tax cuts plus the two unfunded Bush wars plus the housing bubble had begun to devastate the entire country. Any sensible person would recognize that Bush’s program had to be reversed. Yet the GOP denies that these were the causes.

These Bush problems decimated the country, but conservatives ask how long people can blame Bush. We can blame the country’s fiscal problems on Bush until the debt is paid off by the wealthy and not by those who failed to benefit from the advantages that the wealthy have during the last decade.

The United States is in the midst of four major struggles: allowing the wealthy to maintain their tax cuts; providing more money for defense as the wars wind down; stripping money from Social Security; Medicare, and Medicaid; and raising the debt ceiling.

The GOP has currently caused a stalemate because it wants to give money to the wealthy at the expense of the bottom 98 percent, pay for more excesses at the Pentagon, steal money from Social Security and Medicare funds, and refuse to pay their bills. The GOP has already taken the Social Security funds and doesn’t want to pay it back. Then they claim that refusing to pay the bills through increasing the debt ceiling will save money.

If you listen to Charles Krauthammer on Fox, President Obama is to blame for the stalemate. “[The president has] been using [the fiscal cliff talks]–and I must say with great skill, and ruthless skill and success–to fracture and basically shatter the Republican opposition. The only redoubt of the opposition is the House. And his objective from the very beginning was to break the will of the Republicans in the House, and to create an internal civil war. And he’s done that.”

If the problems with the GOP weren’t so serious, this accusation about the president would be laughable. The Republicans don’t need any help self-destructing; they’re managing just fine on their own, thank you very much. The Tea Party takeover has been going on far longer than this election, for example taking Indiana’s Dick Lugar out of the Senate and handing his Republican seat to a Democrat because of the weak candidate.

Even Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) wasn’t sure he would get re-elected, and now he’s so concerned about losing the Speaker position that he’s willing to see out the country. Meanwhile Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has the lowest approval rating in the country (37 percent) even by his personal poll. And performer Ashley Judd could defeat him!

After the Republican states did their gerrymandering magic, hyper-partisan districts provided a cult-like atmosphere in the GOP elite, frequently the ultra-conservatives. This resulted in a party that ignores the country’s evolution while it tries to return to a fantasy of life in the 1950s. They ignore the fact that the high taxes used to build the country’s infrastructure and the growing number of unions during that decade made the United States an economically successful country.

The GOP spent four years trying to get one job—the one that now belongs to the president for another term. He can’t run again, but the Republicans continue to have just that one target—the president’s job. With this intent, they have polarized the country in a manner reminiscent of the decades during the Civil War and its aftermath. Now Republicans believe they are in control of a government with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president.

Thank you, President Obama, for maintaining your resolve. May you continue to do so.

July 17, 2012

Republican Politicians Attack Obama

The Mitt Romney campaign is on the ropes and going crazy. The most recent issue is not just a gaffe; it’s a horrible mistake that won’t go away. No one who watches television can have missed the whole whooplaw about Romney’s refusal to release more than the past two years of income tax returns and his attempt to explain that he quit Bain Capital before the company sent jobs to China—except for those jobs in which they cut up aborted fetuses and burned them. I chuckle every time I hear Romney say, “I’ve put out as much as I’ve put out.”

George Will got it right when he said, “The cost of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, [Romney] must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.”  He did give a typical conservative answer about making sure that he could hide everything: “I do not know why, given that Mitt Romney knew the day that [John] McCain lost in 2008 that he was going to run for president again that he didn’t get all of this out and tidy up some of his offshore accounts and all the rest.” Will, by the way, is the staunch Republican pundit who stole Jimmy Carter’s questions before the 1980 debate and gave them to his opponent, Ronald Reagan.

The feeding frenzy isn’t going away, despite all the attempts by Romney’s supporters to divert the discussion. Speculation has run rampant through the media. Did he not pay taxes? Or did he make even more money from Bain than we realize?  Or did he have to pay fines? Or did he have even more offshore tax dodges than the ones in Bermuda, the Caymans, and the Swiss bank account? Or would the tax returns  show deductions from “controversial charities” that would turn off his potential voters?

The issue of Bain’s offshoring by sending jobs from its purchased companies to China has paled by comparison, but it’s equally as perplexing. Romney spent three weeks saying that there was nothing wrong with doing this until he calculated the problems from admitting it and told everyone who would listen that he wasn’t at Bain at the time that this happened. On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Ed Gillespie said that Romney decided to “retroactively retire” for the previous years in 2002, not explaining why Romney took money for working while retired. And even now, Romney doesn’t criticize offshoring; he just says that he didn’t do it.

The Olympics situation may add to Romney’s problems. When he was asked how he felt about the clothing for United States’ participants being made in China, he said, “No comment.” Possibly he wanted the entire question to go away because the clothing for the 2002 Winter Olympics torchbearers, the Olympics administered by Romney, were made in Burma, until last year a brutally military regime.

The Republican forces are gathering to protect Romney by attacking President Obama. After the president’s speech talking about how the United States has accomplished important things by working together to build an infrastructure, John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire said Obama’s recent defense of public infrastructure shows he “doesn’t understand how America works.” Later Sununu said, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.”

Another distortion of President Obama’s speech came from his statement that “U.S. policymakers are lazy in creating jobs.” True, but the Republicans are now running television ads that claim the president said, “Americans are lazy.”

Sununu may have gotten more talking points from Rush Limbaugh. “He [Obama] has no idea how the American system functions,” Sununu said on Fox News. “And we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent … another set of years in Indonesia.”

Limbaugh said Romney should “get down and dirty with Obama” and say:

“Look, pal, when I was out creating jobs, investing in businesses, and growing this economy, you were at Columbia smoking weed and snorting coke. You write about it in your book. You talk about how you got into Columbia and the Harvard Law Review, and you didn’t have to do anything. That’s what was great about it to you! You loved getting into Columbia ’cause all you had to do was go to class, get your grades, and smoke a little weed! Well, I was out building the country when you were doing that.”

I can’t understand what influenced Sununu to accuse President Obama of outsourcing “a major portion of the U.S. space program to the Russians.” FactCheck declared this statement false and explained that George W. Bush set NASA on a path eight years ago to retire the Space Shuttle and rely on the Russians for space travel. It was under President Obama’s charge that the Space Shuttle program ended, but it was George W. Bush who retired the shuttle because the White House refused to give NASA the authority and funds to replace it.

Bush directed NASA to retire the shuttle in 2010 to coincide with the scheduled completion of the space station as part of his plan for NASA that also called for the agency “to conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014,” with the goal of reaching the moon in 2020 and using it as a base for future trips to Mars.

In a 2007 speech at Georgetown University, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said the U.S. may have “no alternative other than to use Soyuz [Russian space craft] for crew transport and rescue.” Bush signed a bill on Sept. 30, 2008, so that Russians would provide transportation to the space station. U.S. astronauts also went to the space station aboard the Soyuz in 2003 after the Columbia disaster caused a suspension of the shuttle program for two years and Edward Lu used Russian transportation. If this is outsourcing, Sununu should have kept quiet because it’s the Republican president who offshored the NASA program.

Even sometimes-reasonable Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, has joined the irrational chorus. Because Republican governors in Utah and Nevada asked the Obama administration for flexibility in the welfare reform law that required adults to either work or participate in a work training program, the president granted flexibility to satisfy their needs. On a voluntary basis, states can now “experiment with ways to improve the number of people making the jump from government assistance to jobs.” On Fox and Friends, Huckabee said:

“It’s basically just a transfer of money from the taxpayer to the government, from the government to people who become beneficiaries of the government, because that way the government can own these people. It is a trap, and it is like the roach motel. Once you get in, but you never get out.”

It’s not the first time that conservatives have compared people needing the safety net to animals. Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, the GOP candidate for Arizona’s District 3, put the following on her website before she hastily removed it.

“The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is actually proud of the fact it is distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to ‘Please Do Not Feed The Animals.’ Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves. This ends today’s lesson.”

Arizona is one of the top two states with food insecure (aka hungry) children; in Arizona 29 percent of the children go to bed hungry each night.

Another Republican disaster today is the release of the first book from the George W. Bush Institute, The 4 Percent Solution: Unleashing the Economic Growth America Needs.  James K. Glassman, executive director of the Bush Institute, said the book states the country can achieve a 4 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by extending the Bush-era tax cuts, broadening the tax base by getting rid of special exemptions and loopholes, taxing consumption rather than income, and lowering corporate taxes. With GDP being the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a given period, it is often considered an indicator of a country’s standard of living.

During the reign of George W. Bush, who wrote the forward for The 4 Percent Solution, the GDP averaged just over 2.3 percent using the ideas promoted in the Bush Institute’s book. Because of the over 30% increase in imports during that time, business investment actually declined relative to GDP despite all the Bush tax breaks. Residential investment, which was almost 35% higher in 2005 than it was in 2000, plummeted to less than 83% of its 2000 level by 2008.

Republicans repeatedly say that President Obama’s policies are ruining the nation. He hasn’t had a chance to put his policies into effect. It’s the conservative Republicans’ policies that keep the GDP from growing as Republicans refuse to provide revenue and send jobs out of the country.


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