Our New Republican Allies

There was a time before the American conservative movement moved to the extreme right, with denial of any facts which contradicted their extreme views, when some conservatives could be on the right side of some issues. In recent year it has become rare for Republicans to take a position which is grounded in reality or ethically justifiable. Despite their rhetoric, Republicans have run up huge deficits and acted to prevent economic recovery for political gain while pushing for an increased role of government in the private lives of individuals. On foreign policy we saw Republicans push for war with Iraq based upon arguments which can only come from extreme incompetence or blatant dishonesty.

As the Republicans moved to the extreme right there was no choice but to vote Democratic, even if not always agreeing with the Democratic candidates, as even when Democrats compromised principles and moved to the center Republicans offered an even worse alternative. Suddenly the Republicans have become useful in providing votes against war with Syria but I do wish they were taking this position out of higher principles than opposing it because Obama is for it.

While there are exceptions, for the most part the right wing blogosphere remains a cesspool of Obama-hatred, opposing intervention in Syria only because of Obama’s support, and spewing ridiculous claims against Obama even if they are on the right side in this vote. The most absurd arguments from the right include blaming the United States for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. More from Steve M. on this right-wing conspiracy theory.

Beyond various foreign policy disagreements, the biggest disappointments from the Obama administration have been on drug policy. I expected Republicans to be at least as bad, and most likely worse, but maybe not. There was a surprise comment from John McCain at a town hall in Tuscon. While he took the expected ultra-hawkish view on Syria, he also suggested that maybe marijuana should be legalized: “Maybe we should legalize. We’re certainly moving that way as far as marijuana is concerned. I respect the will of the people.”

Of course there is a huge difference between a comment thrown out such as this and actually taking action, but it is a sign of how attitudes towards prohibition are changing that McCain would feel comfortable raising this idea before his constituents.

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Sarah Palin Remains Clueless

The McCain campaign tried their hardest to keep Palin from embarrassing their campaign–not that this makes up for their lack of adequately vetting her. Palin still does not get it, as seen by this Fox interview as reported by BuzzFeed:

Former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said Friday she was banned by the McCain campaign from talking about Bill Ayers and President Obama’s controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright during the 2008 presidential election.

“Though I was during the campaign running for V.P., I was banned from talking about Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s friend Bill Ayers, ” Palin said in a Fox News interview. “Couldn’t talk about that. Couldn’t talk about Obama’s lack of knowledge, and job inexperience, and the things that he said like America had 57 states, things like that.”

Palin continued, “in the campaign, Greta this is important for Americans to understand, I wasn’t allowed to talk about things like that because those elitist, those who are the brainiacs in the GOP machine running John McCain’s campaign at the time said that the media would eat us alive if we brought up these things.”

Palin asserted that Obama was subsequently elected because she wasn’t allowed to discuss the controversial topics.

Let’s hope that who ever wins the 2016 Republican nomination seeks her campaign advice (which is not likely to happen) as opposed to those other elitist campaign strategists.

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Quote of the Day: More Conan on John McCain

“During congressional hearings, Senator John McCain asked Apple CEO Tim Cook why the apps always need to be updated. McCain also wanted to know how often he should feed Siri.” –Conan O’Brien

Related post here

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Quote of the Day

“During a Senate hearing yesterday, Senator John McCain said it was too hard to always have to update apps on his iPhone. No one has the heart to tell him the device he was holding was a garage door opener.” –Conan O’Brien

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Person of the Year: Barack Obama

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This was a rather obvious choice in an election year. As Time points out, Obama is “the first Democrat in more than 75 years to get a majority of the popular vote twice. Only five other Presidents have done that in all of U.S. history.” Time‘s explanation:

There are many reasons for this, but the biggest by far are the nation’s changing demographics and Obama’s unique ability to capitalize on them. When his name is on the ballot, the next America — a younger, more diverse America — turns out at the polls. In 2008, blacks voted at the same rate as whites for the first time in history, and Latinos broke turnout records. The early numbers suggest that both groups did it again in 2012, even in nonbattleground states, where the Obama forces were far less organized. When minorities vote, that means young people do too, because the next America is far more diverse than the last. And when all that happens, Obama wins. He got 71% of Latinos, 93% of blacks, 73% of Asians and 60% of those under 30.

They left out the more important fact that Obama ran against a Republican Party which has moved to the extreme right and very well might never again be able to win a national election until the party changes. (Some Republican apologists might counter by claims that John McCain and Mitt Romney are moderates but in reality both ran on platforms which were bat-shit crazy, even if the Republicans do have even worse lunatics among their ranks.)
Time’s interview with Obama gives indications we are living in a world which the authoritarian right just cannot handle. Obama took time to announce his support for gay marriage, but we may have reached a tipping point where any candidate who does not support marriage equality would be seen in the same light as someone who didn’t support interracial marriage. Obama is more conservative than many of his supporters on drugs, and it is a disappointment that he is not ending the drug war, but at least does not intend to use government resources for prosecution of marijuana users:

I have a couple of policy questions growing out of that shift. Do you expect your administration will join the gay marriage cases at the Supreme Court?

We are looking at the cases right now. I’ve already been very clear about DOMA, so there is no doubt that we would continue the position we’re on, that DOMA is unconstitutional and should be struck down. And I think the Prop-8 case, because the briefs are still being written, I should probably be careful about making any specific comments on it.

One of the other big things that happened in the election was in Washington State and Colorado, marijuana for recreational use was legalized. And, again, the same base — the younger people, more progressive people are in favor of that. Is a recreational marijuana user who is following state law someone who should be a federal law enforcement priority?

No. And I think what the Justice Department has consistently asserted is that it’s got finite resources. Our focus has to be on threats to safety, threats to property. When it comes to drug enforcement, big-time drug dealers, folks who are preying on our kids, those who are engaging in violence — that has to be our focus.

Now, obviously, you’ve got a challenge, which is federal laws that are still on the books making marijuana a Class I drug that is subject to significant penalties, and you’ve got state laws now that say it’s legal. We’re going to have to have a conversation about how to reconcile that, because it puts the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorneys in a pretty tough position; they don’t want to look like they’re nullifying laws that are on the books; their job is to carry out the laws of the federal government. On the other hand, I think not only have these states indicated that they’ve got a different view, but what’s also true isthat the public as a whole — even those who don’t necessarily agree with decriminalization of marijuana — don’t think that this should be a top priority for law enforcement.

So this will be something that we navigate over the next several months and next several years. I think that the broader lesson to draw here is that substance abuse is a big problem in oursociety, and we should be doing everything we can to prevent our kids from being trapped by substance abuse. I think a law enforcement model alone, or an emphasis on a law enforcement strategy and not enough emphasis on the public health approach and treatment has not yielded the kind of results that I think we would like. And we’re going to have to have a serious discussion about that.

There are many pictures worth viewing accompanying the articles:
Obama Clinton
Obama Spiderman
Obama from Behind
Obama Chicago
obama white house
Obama Families 911 Victims
Obama Bo
Obama 3D Glasses
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John McCain Was Not The Only Recent Candidate Who Had Bad Experiences With Running Mate

Lacking the desire to actually look in detail at the issues, many journalists are concentrating on stories about Romney’s potential running mates. Reports often stress the importance of not repeating John McCain’s mistake in choosing Sarah Palin, but McCain was not the only recent presidential candidate who made a mistake in running mate The New York Times reports that John Kerry’s staff also has advice for Romney:

Ms. Myers has sought advice from previous presidential campaigns, including aides to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s 2004 race, who warned against picking a candidate with unchecked ambitions.

Kerry’s office also blasted Romney for claiming that Kerry only released two years of tax returns when he actually released returns for five years when running for president, with earlier returns released when running for the Senate:

“As Senator [Daniel Patrick] Moynihan once said, people are entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own facts,” said David Wade, Kerry’s chief of staff and the Democrat’s national spokesman during the presidential race eight years ago.

“The Romney campaign needs to stop getting their facts wrong about John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry,” Wade added, saying Kerry had put a total of 20 years of tax returns into the public domain by the time he ran for president.

John McCain denies recent speculation that he picked Sarah Palin over Mitt Romney after seeing Mitt Romney’s tax returns. Steve Schmidt says that Romney’s wealth but not tax returns were a factor in the decision:

“Sen. McCain got caught flat-footed answering a question about how many houses he owned. In fact, they were Cindy McCain’s properties but that distinction was lost in the political optics and we knew it would be a big liability that the presidential and the vice presidential candidates together owned more than a dozen homes. It was like something out of a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit. I mean, come on.”

 

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Romney Retired Retroactively From Bain

The biggest problem for Mitt Romney is that every time he or his surrogates open their mouths it only digs the hole a little deeper. An “explanation” of the discrepancy in date in which Romney left Bain Capital based upon a claim that he “retired retroactively” his did not help Romney:

“There may have been a thought at the time that it could be part time, but it was not part time,” Gillespie said.

“He took a leave of absence and in fact he ended up not going back at all, and retired retroactively to 1999 as a result,” he added. “He left a life he loved to go to Salt Lake City and help a country he loves more, and somehow Chicago… is trying to make it something sinister.”

I believe that retiring retroactively is something like shaking away his position at Bain on an Etch-A-Sketch. Retiring retroactively probably does make sense to someone like Romney who has practiced baptizing the dead.

George Bush is kicking himself for never thinking to say he quit the Air National Guard retroactively.

In other bad news for Romney, numerous conservative politicians and pundits (including Bill Kristol, George Will and Matthew Dowd) are calling on him to release his income tax returns. There is speculation that John McCain might have chosen Sarah Palin after seeing what is in Romney’s tax returns. We don’t know if there is anything criminal in those old returns. My bet is that, at very least, they will show a pattern of tax avoidance which resulted in a tax rate far closer to zero than the 15 percent he has admitted to.

Barack Obama continues to refuse to a apologize to Mitt Romney for telling the truth about him.

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Pete Hoekstra Now Pandering To Birthers

My lunatic former Congressman is at it again. Pete Hoekstra, who has already been pandering to the Tea Party, is now going after the support of the Birthers. The Detroit Free Press reports:

At a tea party gathering in Lapeer earlier this month, U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra said he’d like to create a federal office in Washington that would verify that presidential candidates meet the minimum requirements to hold the office.

“This is not brain surgery. It should be an FBI person, maybe a CIA person,” said Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman from Holland, during the meeting in response to a question from the audience about Obama’s citizenship. “If you want to run for president, you’ve got to go with the proper documentation and get it certified that you meet the qualifications to be the President of the United States.”

Hoekstra also said that the issue became moot when U.S. Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate for president, declined to make it an issue during the campaign.

“I’d love to give you an answer and say I’m going to fight it and beat it and win it. But it wasn’t fought in 2008 and we lost,” he said.

Democrats jumped on the comments as being out of touch and out of the mainstream.

“You can’t get much further outside the mainstream than calling for the creation of a birther office staffed by the CIA and FBI,” said state Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer. “Our leaders should be focused on creating jobs, not on creating a new federal bureaucracy to comb through birth certificates.”

The Hoekstra campaign said this afternoon that Hoekstra believes that President Obama is a U.S. citizen.

In the past Hoekstra has done things such as claiming (along with Rick Santorum) that WMD was found in Iraq long after even the Bush administration conceded it did not exist, divulge military secrets on Twitter, use scare tactics when there was talk of moving prisoners from Guantanamo, play politics with the attempted terrorist attack on a flight coming into Detroit in 2009, and running a blatantly racist ad during the Superbowl.

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Attacking Obama As A Celebrity

Do Republicans really think this ad will help them and hurt Obama? It is a retread of the old McCain attacks on Obama as a celebrity. This is sure a strange attack line from Republicans who bring up Ronald Reagan’s name every chance the get  (despite the fact that their party has moved so far to the right that Ronald Reagan would no longer be welcome)

The bulk of the ad will help as opposed to hurt Obama in our celebrity-obsessed culture. There are a few moments in which negatives are brought up. These should not hurt Obama as the ad raised problems caused by Republican policies which Obama has been working to solve (with Republicans continuing to try to block him).

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Republicans Can’t Handle The Truth: Bin Laden is Dead and General Motors is Alive

The Republican Party has been playing politics with terrorism since the 9/11 attack, in a manner similar to how they played politics with anti-Communism in past decades. Republicans are now upset and in denial about two things: the Democrats have been far more successful on national security and, even worse, they dare to promote their success for political gain. The web ad by Bill Clinton which points out that Barack Obama made the decision to kill bin Laden, while Mitt Romney would not have done the same, has the right wing especially upset.

Right wing blogs are full of utterly senseless arguments to deny credit to Barack Obama for his accomplishment. Many come from a rather irrational post at Breitbart.com–a site which specializes in distorting the facts to support right wing narratives. Their argument comes down to attacking Obama for wanting information on the risks involved before proceeding. This sounds quite prudent and provides no evidence of their claim this was to avoid taking the blame if the operation did not succeed. If only George Bush had not ignored warnings about the risks involved in occupying Iraq before rushing to war.

John McCain, the war-mongering jingoist who has never shown reluctance to use war for political gain, actually had the chutzpah to attack Obama for promoting his success against bin Laden. There are endless examples of McCain and the Republican Party using national security for political gain, even managing to capitalize on Bush’s massive failure on 9/11, and claiming “Mission Accomplished” as their policies failed in Iraq. Digby has provided a handful of videos demonstrating how Republicans have used national security. Far more could be added.

Just as the Republicans, who wrecked the economy and have been doing everything possible to slow down recovery, are trying to claim can do more for the economy,  Republican who have gravely harmed our national security are trying to turn this into a political plus for them. It was the Republicans who tried to block Bill Clinton’s actions against al Qaeda, but despite this Clinton showed successes, such as stopping the planned Millennium terrorist plot. George Bush ignored both recommendations passed down from the Clinton administration for handling al Qaeda and ignored CIA warnings before the 9/11 attack. After ignoring numerous warnings before 9/11, Bush made matters even worse by going to war against the wrong country. Even when he had an excellent chance to kill or capture bin Laded at Tora Bora, Bush managed to mess it up.

Republicans object to Obama taking credit for his success because they do not want the facts to intrude upon the false narratives they create to run on. They want to claim to be stronger on national security despite their disastrous record. They want to run on fiscal responsibility despite their policies which are responsible for the deficit as they try to place the blame for their actions on Obama. They want to run as the party of small government and freedom despite a record of increasing the size of government and increasing government intrusion in the private lives of individuals.

Looking at the facts, there is really no question as to which party has been more successful in recent years, as the Republicans have increasingly ignored reality. Democrats have been successful in protecting the country against terrorism, while Republican policies led to a preventable terrorist attack succeeding and to a war which we never should have engaged in. Republican economic polices have been similarly disastrous for the country. Republicans will continue to whine and try to distort the facts, but this does not change the reality that bin Laden is Dead and General Motors is alive.

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