Thursday, April 23, 2009

House Republicans to Napolitano: Get out!

According to Politico’s Patrick O’Connor, House Republicans want Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to resign from her post or be fired by President Obama over the release of a department report dealing with potential threats from Right-wing extremists.

The report, titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” has enraged conservatives and veterans’ groups, who allege that the Obama administration is targeting political opponents.

“Singling out political opponents for working against the ruling party is precisely the tactic of every tyrannical government from Red China to Venezuela," said Rep. John Carter (R-Texas). “The first step in the process is creating unfounded public suspicion of political opponents, followed by arresting and jailing any who continue speaking against the regime.”

”In particular, conservative members of the Republican Study Committee raised repeated concerns about the report and Napolitano's subsequent defense of its findings on Wednesday, calling on party leaders to raise the issue with President Barack Obama during a White House meeting on Thursday,” O’Connor writes.

The DHS report, which was released earlier this month, warned federal, state and local law enforcement officials that the troubled economy "could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past."

“Conservative bloggers and talk radio hosts immediately seized on the report as evidence that the Obama administration was trying to marginalize its critics on the right,” O’Connor adds.

Veterans groups, including the American Legion, accused the report of singling out service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last Thursday, Napolitano apologized to veterans who were offended by the report.

"I know that some veterans groups were offended by the fact that veterans were mentioned in this assessment, so I apologize for that offense. It was certainly not intended," she told CNN's "American Morning.” Napolitano also noted that Glen M. Gardner, Jr., national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, defended the report, saying it “served a vital purpose.”

Many conservatives are claiming that the report is “biased,” but do any of them care about the fact that it was initiated during the administration of George W. Bush? Why aren’t conservatives attacking Bush?

Oh, and does anyone not realize that the Obama administration issued a similar report about Left-wing extremism in January? That report, by the way, was also initiated by the Bush administration.

You can read both reports here and here. Take a look at them and tell me if you see any bias. And if you do, then blame Michael Chertoff, not Janet Napolitano.

I know I’ve been picking on conservatives a lot lately, but it seems as though the Right has gone haywire since the election last year. While I don’t relish the prospect of Democrats controlling our government over the next decade or so, the Republicans have not convinced me that they have the wisdom or the maturity to lead this nation again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Book on Great Depression Finds Favor Among Conservatives

Did President Roosevelt’s New Deal help America crawl out of the economic morass known as the Great Depression? One book is saying “no” to this question – and conservatives are saying “yes” to this book.

According to Andie Coller and Patrick O’Connor of Politico, House Republicans are really digging Amity Shlaes’ The Forgotten Man, a historical critique of FDR’s efforts to fix the U.S. economy during the 1930s.

“Shlaes’ 2007 take on the Great Depression questions the success of the New Deal and takes issue with the value of government intervention in a major economic crisis — red meat for a party hungry for empirical evidence that the Democrats’ spending plans won’t end the current recession,” Coller and O’Connor write.

“There aren’t many books that take a negative look at the New Deal,” explained Mike Ference, a policy aid for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). “Republicans are gobbling it up — and so are other lawmakers — because it tells you what they did, what worked and what didn’t.”

Earlier this year, Cantor invited Shlaes to have lunch with him and around two dozen other House Republicans in his Capitol suite. According to sources close to the whip, the main course was a large dish of scrod.

“It’s been suggested as required reading for all of us, I think,” said Erica Elliott, press secretary for Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.).

“Garrett said the book ‘is a good read’ that details, among other things, ‘how FDR engaged in vitriolic demonizing of Wall Street and Big Business to advance his agenda,’” Colller and O’Connor add.

You only need to take a brief glance at Shlaes’ book to see why it’s causing House Republicans to have such huge orgasms. According to Coller and O’Connor, Shlaes, a columnist for Bloomberg News, a senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former editorial board member at The Wall Street Journal, “presents a vision of the Great Depression that challenges the conventional wisdom that casts Herbert Hoover as a goat, FDR as a hero and the New Deal as the country’s salvation. It also looks at the Great Depression with particular sympathy upon the plight of those who were burdened with supporting the ‘weak members of society’ during the New Deal and endeavors to give a voice to those ‘forgotten men.’”

Naturally, the responses to The Forgotten Man have been polarized along ideological lines. In addition to House Republicans, many conservative authors and commentators have heaped praise upon Shlaes’ book. Steven F. Hayward of the National Review called it “The finest history of the Great Depression ever written.” Liberal scholars and columnists, however, have accused Shlaes of engaging in historical revisionism.

In a November 2008 article titled "Amity Shlaes Strikes Again," New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman charged the author with “misleading statistics.” In response, Shlaes fired back with an article of her own, which the Wall Street Journal ran. In her piece, titled "The Krugman Recipe for Depression," the author said that her statistics actually came from the Bureau of Labor Stastics.

I’m not sure if liberal historian and arch plagiarist Doris Kearns Goodwin has read The Forgotten Man, but my guess is that she hasn’t. Otherwise, Shlaes would probably be sleeping with the fishes right now.

When I was in college, I had to write a paper on the New Deal for a class on modern American history. Our professor, an avowed Marxist (Just kidding! Seriously, he was a brilliant and open-minded man!), had us young scholars (to use the term loosely) read several works on the topic from a wide range of political perspectives.

My own assessment was that FDR’s New Deal programs probably prolonged the Depression, but also brought about a number great things for the American people, including Social Security, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, and much-needed child labor laws. I also concluded that the Second World War was our economic salvation, not the New Deal. I still believe this today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Have the Republicans Discovered Obama’s Achilles Heel?

Is President Barack Obama a realist, or is he just another naïve liberal dolt?

According to Politico’s David S. Cloud, Republicans think they might have stumbled upon a winning formula in their battle against the president – portray him as “overly apologetic about U.S. misdeeds and naive about engaging unfriendly regimes abroad.”

In other words, the Right is going to try to convince the public that for all his talk of hope and change, Obama is, in reality, nothing more than a repeat of one of America’s worst presidents – Jimmy Carter.

However, in order to counter this image and avoid being Carterized, the president and his homeboys are arguing that the American people voted last November for an administration open to positive engagement with not-so-friendly regimes and taking responsibility for past mistakes. If Americans had wanted to continue the aggressive and confrontational policies of the Bush administration, say Obama & Co., then they would have voted for the Republican candidate in 2008.

”So for now, Republicans may find little political headway by bashing Obama for his cordial handshake with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the release of so-called torture memos and other recent moves that have been criticized by Vice President Dick Cheney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and some Republicans on Capitol Hill,” Cloud writes.

Although Cloud acknowledges that Obama’s humble pie approach carries some risks, he also points out that it could yield some beneficial results as well. In any event, it will be months before we know either way.

Fortunately for the president, the American people are still awarding him high marks for his performance in the geopolitical arena.

“Right now, the weight of public opinion is still with the administration and not with the Republicans,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “Americans are open to the idea that negotiations are part of our future,” although, he added, “they are looking for what comes after the handshake.”

I have mixed feelings about Obama’s approach. Personally, I don’t like the idea of cozying up to Left-wing tyrants like Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega. However, I realize that there are times when it is necessary and even beneficial for a president to reach out to unsavory leaders. Richard Nixon, one of my personal favorite presidents, established a rapprochement with one of the greatest mass murderers of all time, Mao Zedong, and as a result, he managed to exploit the Sino-Soviet rift to America’s benefit.

I also think much of the criticism being leveled at Obama from the Right is monstrously hypocritical. I didn’t hear any conservatives complaining when former President Bush continued and strengthened our government’s alliance (which began during the Clinton administration) with Islam Karimov, the brutal dictator of Uzbekistan. Since September 11, 2001, Karimov has used his position as a close U.S. ally to jail, torture and, murder dissidents and political opponents. No one on the Right made a sound when Bush (and Clinton) gave all kinds of military aid to Karimov, but now conservatives are up in arms because Obama shook the hand of President Chavez.

Some would argue that Karimov may be a son of a bitch, but, unlike Chavez, he is our son of a bitch.

True, but he’s still a son of a bitch. I’m just sick of the hypocrisy. If we as a nation want to support democracy around the world, then let’s actually do it. If we are okay with rubbing shoulders with ruthless dictators who give us what we want, then we should stop pretending that we care about the freedom of others.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Will the Republicans Reverse Their Position on Gay Rights?

Question: What do you call a Republican who supports gay rights?

Answer: A Democrat.

Okay, I can be serious now.

In the ongoing battle between the moderates and conservatives for the heart and soul of the GOP, the ever-contentious issue of gay rights may have just taken center stage. According to FOX News, Steve Schmidt, who served as Sen. John McCain’s chief campaign strategist and advisor during the 2008 presidential election, told an audience of fellow Republicans that the GOP needs to become more receptive to gay rights, including same-sex marriage. Otherwise, says Schmidt, it risks becoming the “religious party.”

"If you put public policy issues to a religious test, you risk becoming a religious party," he said. "And in a free country a political party cannot be viable in the long-term if it is seen as a sectarian party."

Why, you may ask, is Schmidt still alive after telling members of his own party this? The answer is because he was speaking to the gays and lesbians in the GOP – all two of them.

Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the jokes. I wear!

In his first political appearance since his former boss received an electoral ass-whooping courtesy of President Obama, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and the Gordon Gekkos on Wall Street, Schmidt addressed a Washington, D.C. convention for the Log Cabin Republicans last Friday.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the LCR, it’s a grassroots group composed primarily of sane homosexuals within the GOP – as opposed to twisted ones like former Sen. Larry Craig and former Rep. Mark Foley.

While Schmidt acknowledged that it would be impossible to convince the Republican base to accept same-sex marriage anytime in the near future, he said Republicans should at least endorse civil unions for now, and quit using the Bible as a rationale for opposing same-sex marriages.

"If the party is seen as anti-gay, then that is injurious to its candidates" in Democrat-leaning and competitive states, he said.

Give up the Bible? You might as well tell Osama Bin Laden to give up the Koran, or Nancy Pelosi to give up Botox.

“Schmidt predicted gay marriage will create a bigger and bigger divide between the GOP and the electorate in the years ahead,” FOX reports. “He said that as young voters age, they may adopt conservative views on the economy and national security -- but they will not abandon liberal, social beliefs. This would put the Republican Party at odds with a swath of voters, Schmidt said.”

Steve also added that social conservatives were still an "indispensable part of the conservative coalition."

During his speech, Schmidt talked a little about his lesbian sister and her relationship to him and his family. “On a personal level, my sister and her partner are an important part of my life and our children’s life,” he said. “I admire your group and your organization and I encourage you to keep fighting for what you believe in because the day is going to come.”

In related news, Meghan McCain, the (grand?)daughter of Sen. McCain and a rising star among gay conservatives, spoke to a group of Log Cabin Republicans on Saturday evening. In her address, Ms. McCain took shots at what she called “old school Republicans,” saying they were “scared shitless” of the country’s changing landscape.

"I feel too many Republicans want to cling to past successes," she said. "There are those who think we can win the White House and Congress back by being 'more' conservative. Worse, there are those who think we can win by changing nothing at all about what our party has become. They just want to wait for the other side to be perceived as worse than us. I think we're seeing a war brewing in the Republican Party. But it is not between us and Democrats. It is not between us and liberals. It is between the future and the past."

As an independent RINO-lover and a person with a minimal level of tolerance, I can generally agree with this. If the Republicans want to focus on legitimate issues like the president’s gargantuan budget and present realistic alternatives, that’s totally fine with me. But they need to ease up on the gay thing. I can understand why some people might have principled concerns about same-sex marriage, but much of the anti-gay rhetoric I hear coming from social conservatives strikes me as ignorant and mean-spirited.

Okay, I got to end with one more joke!

Question: What’s the difference between a gay Republican and a straight Republican?

Answer: One just wants to screw his or her partner, while the other wants to screw everyone else.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Were the Tea Party Protests Carefully Staged Events, or Did They Represent a Genuine People’s Revolt?

According to various news sources, the recent tea party protests have attracted hundreds of thousands of Americans in cities all across this great land of ours.

It was quite a sensation. Angry and frustrated citizens carried signs with Revolutionary War slogans on them, bags of tea were hurled over the White House fence, Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann got to open their cavernous mouths a little wider, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry threatened to have his state secede from the rest of the country (Whoo-Hoo!).

Before I continue, I just want to say that if the good governor does us all a favor and delivers on his threat, the new flag of the Lone Star State should feature a bible and a rifle soaked in petroleum.

Now back to the tea party. As can be expected, the responses to this event have been split largely along ideological lines. Many conservatives claim that the protests represent a mass, spontaneous revolt on the part of a large cross-section of Americans who are fed up with incompetent lawmakers in Washington and their gluttonous spending habits. Many liberals, on the other hand, claim that the protests are nothing more than carefully orchestrated Right-wing temper tantrums.

And then there are liberals like pop culture celebrity and Air America veteran Janeane Garofalo, who said on MSNBC’s “Countdown” Thursday that those who took part in the tea party protests are nothing but a bunch of intellectually challenged bigots who used this event to go after President Obama simply because he is black.

"Let's be very honest about what this is about,” Garofalo told “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann, a liberal commentator who also happens to be a monstrous dick in a cheap suit. “This is not about bashing Democrats. It's not about taxes. They have no idea what the Boston Tea party was about. They don't know their history at all. It's about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up and is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks. There is no way around that."

On April 8, Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog organization, accused FOX News of actively promoting the tea party protests, saying “Despite its repeated insistence that its coverage is ‘fair and balanced’ and its invitation to viewers to ‘say “no” to biased media,’ Fox News has frequently aired segments encouraging viewers to get involved with ‘tea party’ protests across the country, which the channel has described as primarily a response to President Obama's fiscal policies.”

FOX News commentator Bill O’Reilly, another monstrous dick in a cheap suit, shot back by saying that his network was merely covering a newsworthy event, while other networks were ignoring it altogether. Media Research Center, a media watchdog organization run by a conservative named L. Brent Bozell III, has charged MSNBC and CNN with covering the tea party protests in a biased manner.

In a piece titled “Radical Right-Wing Agenda,” Lee Fang of Think Progress, a liberal blog, says that local tea party events were organized by two lobbyist-run, Right-wing think tanks named Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works. “The two groups are heavily staffed and well funded, and are providing all the logistical and public relations work necessary for planning coast-to-coast protests,” Fang writes.

He then elaborates on this claim:

FreedomWorks staffers coordinate conference calls among protesters, contacting conservative activists to give them “sign ideas, sample press releases, and a map of events around the country.”

Freedom Works staffers apparently moved to “take over” the planning of local events in Florida.

Freedom Works provides how-to guides for delivering a “clear message” to the public and media.

Freedom Works has several domain addresses — some of them made to look like they were set up by amateurs — to promote the protests.

Americans for Prosperity is writing press releases and planning the events in New Jersey, Arizona, New Hampshire, Missouri, Kansas, and several other states.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman also accused conservatives of “astroturfing,” writing in an article Sunday that, “The tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.”

Rachel Maddow, a liberal host on MSNBC, also weighed in, saying, “One of the controversies about the teabaggers is the fact that insider D.C. corporate-funded PR shops and lobbying groups have done a lot of the organizing and promotion for these events. That‘s controversial because it‘s astroturfing. It‘s disguising a formal top-down organized paid for things as if it‘s some spontaneous grassroots event.”

And media figures aren’t the only ones making this claim. On April 15, a day that saw the largest number of tea party protestors in the streets, House Speaker and Botox poster girl Nancy Pelosi told an interviewer for Fox TV in San (Short for “Sanatorium”) Franpsycho that, “This initiative is funded by the high end... it's not really a grassroots movement. It's astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class.”

Tea party participants and their supporters on the Right vehemently deny that the protests were the work of astroturfers. Chris Good of The Atlantic Monthly wrote on Monday that members of the three conservative groups responsible for guiding the movement – FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and dontGO – say that the event’s grassroots foundation is indeed genuine.

“The movement is not tied to the Republican Party, group spokesmen said, despite a report that at least 10 House Republicans will be speaking at events across the country,” Good writes. “Eric Odom, founder of dontGO, has infamously turned down a request from Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to speak at the group's Chicago event.”

Adam Brandon, a spokesman for FreedomWorks, pointed out that his organization and others like it were simply employing the activist network model that has been used to great effect by Left-wing activist groups such as

"Activists in general have learned a lot from the last election," Brandon told Good. "You'd see 50 people standing outside a gas station. We feel just as strong about our issues."

”Progressive groups have employed that strategy in support of the same economic agenda the tea party protests seek to overturn: groups like ACORN and Americans United for Change have utilized their e-mail lists of supporters to organize field events across the country in support of the stimulus,” Good writes.

In other words, if FreedomWorks is guilty of astroturfing, then so is MoveOn and other groups on the Left.

With regard to charges that the tea party movement is nothing more than an elaborate ploy to bolster the fortunes of the GOP, Mr. Odom says he rejected the RNC chairman’s request to speak at his group’s event in Chicago in order to make it clear that dontGO’s goal is “not to promote Republicans at all.”

“I voted for Bob Barr,” he adds.

Personally, I sympathize with some of the protestors' grievances. I believe that our government’s fiscal policies are horribly misguided. Of course, I’m no economist and I could be wrong about this, but that’s just my gut feeling on this issue.

But a question has been nagging my brain ever since I first learned of these tea parties: Where were these protestors during the spend-till-you-drop years of the Bush administration? If anyone deserved a tea party, it was our own King George.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Grannies’ Protests Against Afghan War Falls on Deaf Ears

Where have all the flower children gone? What happened to all those ‘60s wannabes who accused the American president of being in league with the devil and were all too ready to believe that our servicemen and women were mass-murdering psychopaths?

Since the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the once-notable antiwar movement has all but dissolved. Sure, there are still a few peaceniks left, but they are quickly finding themselves on the brink of irrelevancy. Mainstream liberal groups such as, which spent eight years slamming the war policies of George W. Bush, have zipped up their collective lips as our new president draws down American forces in Iraq and increases their presence in Afghanistan. The few remaining antiwar groups are beginning to realize that silence is not so golden after all.

Take the Granny Peace Brigade for instance. This group made news a couple years back when 11 of its members pulled a publicity stunt by attempting to enlist in the U.S. military, not realizing that they could have gotten in if they had only waited a few months. According to Sebastian Smith of Yahoo! News, the grannies are now trying to organize protests against the Afghan war.

Unfortunately for them, no one is listening.

"It's pretty pathetic," said Joan Pleune, one of the grandmothers. "We've done all these symbolic actions. We get arrested here and there, but it's symbolic. We need masses in the street."

“The absence of those masses reflects significant change in the United States, where the occupation of Iraq drew fierce opposition, but the escalating deployment in Afghanistan retains broad support,” Smith writes. “Iraq fatally tarnished the presidency of George W. Bush. In contrast, Barack Obama won the White House promising to win in Afghanistan, something he soon backed up by ordering a 50 percent increase in US troop levels to 59,000.”

Well this makes sense. After all, the terrorists who planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks in the US were being harbored in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime. People like the Code Pinkers and these grannies need to realize that while you may look noble to many people when you oppose an unjust war, you look stupid when you oppose a war against a nation that actually aided an attack on America.

Of course, all of this could change if things go badly in Afghanistan and Obama takes the blame for it. Until then, the grannies will have to be content with the silent treatment.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Crackpot Jackpot

Sarah Palin may be avoiding the political fundraising circuit, but the political fundraising circuit is certainly not avoiding her.

According to Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel, the Alaska governor and former vice presidential candidate has become a veritable cash cow for Republicans and Democrats alike. Call it the Crackpot Jackpot, if you will. The mere mention of Palin’s name is enough to get diehard Leftists and Rightists foaming at the mouth and tearing open their wallets.

”The candidates and causes that have climbed aboard the Palin gravy train include, but aren’t limited to, abortion rights foes and supporters, environmental groups and political committees supporting both Republican and Democratic candidates,” Vogel writes. “It’s a testament not only to her star power but also to the strong feelings she generates among partisans.”

Due to her time-consuming work with the Alaska legislature, Palin herself has been largely AWOL from the fundraising scene. Even SarahPAC, the committee set up by the governor in January to raise money for members of her staff and conservative Republican candidates, has not done a lot of business.

”But that hasn’t stopped others from seeking to fill their own coffers by pillorying her in direct mail, piggybacking on her stances and symbolism, hinting she might appear at their fundraisers and sometimes even falsely implying contributions will go directly to Palin,” says Vogel. “With some groups, it’s not entirely clear what the overarching goal is other than to tap into the Palin cash pipeline.”

One such example is the now-defunct entity called “Sarah Palin’s Defense Fund.” When told by a lawyer working for Palin that all references to the governor must be removed “pending written approval,” the owner of this “defense fund,” a conservative group called Free American Citizens, simply discontinued this legally questionable enterprise and started another one called “Sarah’s War Chest,” whose primary purpose is to gather contributions “to encourage her to run in the upcoming election.”

SarahPAC spokeswoman Meg Stapleton says that regardless of how many groups cash in on her name to solicit financial contributions for their own agendas, the governor will still be able to be a successful fundraiser.

“If we find that other people have had a chance at the dollars first, that’s OK,” she said. “We’re not really concerned about diluting any message. It’s just we’re concerned about people thinking the dollars are going for her or her vision or her philosophy or values when it may just be going for a big-screen TV.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Steele: I Want More Delegates of Color

Calling all minorities! Calling all minorities! Michael Steele is seeking soul brothers and soul sisters to serve as Republican delegates!

According to Politico’s Andy Barr, RNC Chairman Michelle Steele is asking Florida Republicans to send delegates of color to the next Republican National Convention.

“Could you help a brother out? No more national conventions with 36 people of color in the room,” Steele reportedly told fellow Republicans on Monday. “Please send some folks to the convention that look like Florida.

Steele also informed members of his party that it was “time to get busy” and open up a can of whoop-ass on the Democrats, who appear to have the upper hand so far in the Sunshine State’s voter registration battle.

“We want to turn around those voter registration numbers. We want to turn around the turnout. And we want to keep Florida competitive for the Republican Party and not cede any ground, any area or any vote to the Democrats,” he said.

While I applaud Mr. Steele’s efforts to diversify the Grand Old White Man’s Party, he may have some difficulty with this task. According to the most recent census, only 55 nonwhite Americans identify themselves as Republican. However, all is not lost.

NASA reports indicate the existence of a large colony of minority Republicans located somewhere on the outer rings of Neptune. By all accounts, this is a truly remarkable discovery. Veteran astronomers are saying they have never seen anything like it in their entire lives.

If Steele and his amigos can get a spaceship out there by the end of the fiscal year, they may be able to bring back some of these extraterrestrials in time for the next GOP convention.

If this doesn’t work, maybe Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Cal Thomas, and others from the Right will agree to show up at the convention in blackface.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Give It Up, Newt, You’ll Never be POTUS

Former House Speaker and American(-Israeli?) Likudnik Newt Gingrich is apparently using the crisis with North Korea to launch his 2012 presidential campaign.

In a recent discussion with Politico readers via a live reader chat on the news site’s forum, Gingrich – also known as The Grinch to his fervent admirers on the Left – blasted President Obama, saying his response to the recent North Korean missile launch was a “vivid demonstration of weakness in foreign policy.” He went on to describe the commander-in-chief’s call for nuclear arms reduction as, “a dangerous fantasy that runs an enormous risk. ... Not since Jimmy Carter have we had an administration this out of touch with reality.”

During the online conversation, Gingrich also backed former Vice President Dick Cheney’s recent claim that the Obama administration’s terrorism policies were making Americans less safe. “Dick Cheney is clearly right in saying that between the court decisions about terrorists and the administration actions, the United States is running greater risks of getting attacked than we were under President Bush,” said the former Republican congressman.

“Now we no longer have a ‘global war on terror. We have ‘overseas contingency operations’ Now we will no longer have ‘terrorist attacks.’ We will have ‘man-made disasters.’ None of our enemies seem to have learned this new language.

“There was amazing symbolism in North Korea deciding to launch a missile the very day President Obama was speaking to Europeans about his fantasy of nuclear disarmament. The West has talked with North Korea for over 15 years and they just keep building nuclear weapons and missiles. We have been talking with the Iranians for a decade and they continue to build nuclear capability and missiles.

“Pakistan has a lot of nuclear weapons. Russia, India and China have nuclear weapons. Hamas in Gaza fires missiles into Israel virtually every day. In this reality, our president proposes we have a big meeting in Washington to discuss nuclear disarmament.”

When one reader pointed out that former president and conservative icon Ronald Reagan also proposed mutual reductions in nuclear weapons, Gingrich responded by saying, ”Ronald Reagan believed we had to have a missile defense system to stop any country from breaking free and blackmailing other countries. Reagan was also talking at a time when there were only five nuclear powers (the Soviet Union, China, France, Britain, the United States).

“Reagan would have been much more skeptical about a plan in an age of North Korean, Iranian and Pakistani nuclear developments. How do you apply his slogan of ‘trust but verify’ in dictatorships you can't trust and can't verify?

"Reagan felt that keeping a defensive shield alive was more important than a paper deal. The Obama administration is rapidly undermining our missile defense system while describing a fantasy world of trust and cooperation.”

Gingrich also took shots at Obama’s handling of the auto industry crisis, saying, “The concept of the president of the United States or the Secretary of the Treasury dictating the firing of the head of General Motors is an extraordinary extension of government power. ... The directed rewriting of the Justice Department career lawyers' opinion that the District of Columbia representation bill was unconstitutional is another example of the rule of politicians replacing the rule of law. There is a lot to be concerned about.”

Okay, I’ve had enough of this malarkey. Give it up, lizard. Obama may be no Abraham Lincoln, but there is no way in hell the American people will elect you as their commander-in-chief.

If conservatives make this philandering hypocrite their standard-bearer in ’12, then they have absolutely no principles or integrity. Not that it matters. Newt has always struck me as one of those people who may run for the big job one or more times, but never makes it. And Thank Dumblefore for that, because, more than anyone else, The Grinch would make this country less safe.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Poll: American Voters Have Lost Their Minds With Regard to N. Korea

Should the U.S. government use military force to prevent North Korean dictator Kim Jong-ill (No, that’s not a typo!) from acquiring nuclear weapons capability? Apparently the American people think so.

Politico’s Harry Siegel reports, “American voters across lines of age, party and gender support a military approach to eliminate North Korea's nuclear capabilities, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey released Sunday morning — and conducted in the two days prior to North Korea's test missile launch on Saturday.”

There could only be two explanations for this unbelievable development. Either Americans don’t understand the real situation with North Korea or they have simply lost their minds. More on that in a moment.

According to the poll, 57 percent of the public would support the Obama administration if it decided to go with the military option. Only 15 percent oppose such a move. Also, the use of military action enjoys broad support in both major parties: 66 percent, or two-thirds, of Republicans, and 52 percent of Democrats. The military option is favored by 57 percent of Americans of both genders.

”A majority of respondents, 51 percent, also oppose the U.S. offering economic aid to North Korea in exchange for it agreeing to dismantle its nuclear program,” Siegel writes.

On Sunday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a man who never misses an opportunity for a little grandstanding, informed “Fox News Sunday” that had he been the commander-in-chief instead of Barack Obama, he would have “disabled” the North Korean missile before it had a chance to launch.

As much as I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, we cannot afford to start a war with North Korea for two reasons.

The first reason is that the U.S. military has its hands full with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention thousands of troops in dozens of other countries around the world and security commitments up the wazoo.

The second reason has to do with North Korea’s military. It is estimated that the Korean People’s Army has around 1.2 million personnel in its active duty force, and another 7.7 million serving in its auxiliary components. It is also believed by many experts that President Ill commands one of the largest special operations forces in the world, with estimates ranging from 60,000 to well over 100,000 personnel.

This is not Saddam Hussein’s peasant army we’re talking about here. These guys do nothing but train for war. Approximately 20 percent of all North Korean males aged 17-54 are serving in the regular army. Each year, President Ill’s military eats up over 30 percent of his country’s GDP, a fact which makes this “Democratic People’s Republic” the world’s most militarized state.

How does war with North Korea sound now? Not very appetizing, is it?

If the U.S. attacked this little hermit kingdom in an attempt to stop its nuclear program, President Ill would undoubtedly order his army to invade his neighbor to the south, which has a military that is less than half the size of the KPA and whose security is guaranteed by Uncle Sam. Then all hell would break loose. And the 30,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines stationed in South Korea would be the first Americans to die in this war – but they wouldn’t be the last.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Deranged Divas of Code Pink (Pt. 2 of 2)

Ms. Benjamin is trying to cast her little intra-liberal banana war – or what I like to call “blue-on-blue” – as proof that Code Pink is not beholden to any political party.

Of course it isn’t. No sane Democrat or Republican would ally him or herself with these nutniks.

According to Nibit, Benjamin was invited to come on a bunch of Right-wing talk radio shows after her group’s squabble with mainstream Democrats. She later claimed she was able to “make a lot of friends” within the conservative crowd.

But Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of the right-wing blog RedState is having none of this. “They haven’t changed,” he said of Code Pink. “They still hate America. Which is why they won’t get any conservative support. They’re against the bailout because they hate capitalism.”

Erickson went on to say that the antiwar group is only relevant to the extent that Republicans can use it to “tar and feather Democrats.”

Not so fast, Mr. Erickson, if that is your real name!

”Democrats might have something to say about that,” Libit writes. “The organization has never held much sway over the Democratic
establishment, even when the two have shared positions on Iraq.”

“I don’t think the Democrats ever fully embraced Code Pink,” said Rebecca Kirszner, former communications director to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “Code Pink was always a little more extreme than the establishment.”

And establishment Democrats aren’t the only ones in the Liberalisphere who think the Code Pinkers are a bunch of shrieking hyenas in bad makeup. As Libit puts it, “Even outside Washington, other left-leaning groups have viewed the rosy ring of peaceniks with incredulity, if not contempt.”

“Code Pink has never been more than a nuisance — an ineffective, self-indulgent, obnoxious and tone-deaf organization,” said Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas. “It was never relevant before, and it certainly isn’t relevant today,” he adds. “I’m sure their antics make them feel good about themselves, make them feel as if they’re accomplishing something, but in reality they’ve done nothing but piss off everyone around them, including potential allies.”

Ouch! If an annoying Left-winger like Moulitsas says he can’t stand you, then you must be really unbearable!

Ivan Eland, a libertarian and a staunch opponent of the Iraq war, also weighed in, saying the antiwar group suffers from the nonprofit version of the bureaucratic politics theory, “where the organization becomes the end goal.”

If the Code Pinkers want to be taken seriously, then they need to do two things.

First, they need to present their arguments in a rational, adult manner, and not engage in childish and distasteful antics like grandstanding at Congressional hearings with “Impeach Bush” T-shirts and using dead and wounded soldiers as publicity fodder.

Secondly, the Code Pinkers need to come up with realistic alternatives to our government’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Get out!” is not a real solution. Actions have consequences and we as a nation need to make sure that the situation we leave behind in those two countries is not worse than the one we found when we went in.

To be fair, Code Pink has offered some solutions beyond total withdrawal, but none of them have any grounding in reality. The group’s website features two statements denouncing the Obama administration’s plans for the Iraq and Afghan wars, one released at the end of February and the other at the end of March.

The February statement criticizes the president’s decision to leave a residual force of 50,000 troops in Iraq until December 2011 and says the U.S. government should “increase efforts in diplomacy, humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement.”

And how, pray tell, are we supposed to give out all of this humanitarian aid and help refugees resettle if we don’t have troops on the ground to provide security and stability? And what good is diplomacy going to do us if the democratic government we are trying to create over there gets overthrown by Islamic radicals?

The March statement is similar to the February one. After blasting Obama for deploying thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan and increasing the budget for the war over there, it goes on to call for “tireless diplomatic engagement with Afghan and Pakistan governments.”

If the president were to pull all of our troops out of Afghanistan tomorrow, the country would descend into utter chaos and the Taliban would almost surely regain power. Not a lot of opportunity for “tireless diplomatic engagement” there. Also, a renewed and invigorated Taliban government in Afghanistan could make our situation in Pakistan even worse than it is now, and possibly help facilitate a successful Islamic revolution in that country – a nightmare scenario given Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

Make no mistake about it: Former President Bush dropped the ball in Afghanistan by shifting his entire focus to Iraq and his splendid little war there proved to be a disastrous move and a strategic blunder for the U.S. Clearly, the man did not consider the consequences of his actions.

So Bush and the Code Pinkers have something in common after all. The difference between the two, of course, is that the effects of Code Pink’s actions are merely irritating.

But President Obama can’t afford to make this mistake. And unlike certain deranged divas, our commander-in-chief is taken all too seriously by many people.

The Deranged Divas of Code Pink (Pt. 1 of 2)

Whenever I hear about the shenanigans of the antiwar group Code Pink, I am reminded of those stories in the news of Japanese soldiers from World War II who survived on remote Pacific islands decades after their government’s surrender on the U.S.S. Missouri, unaware that the conflict they were participating in ended long ago.

According to Daniel Libit of Politico, the Code Pink ladies are broadening their focus to include the ailing economy – which has taken center stage in the lives of ordinary Americans – in an attempt to prevent the public from seeing what they really are – an unrealistic and pathetic bunch of Left-wing nutjobs who constantly need to be reminded that the days of spoiled hippies, Woodstock, and bomb-throwing losers are long gone.

”On Saturday, this maneuver will be put on display in Lower Manhattan, when Code Pink joins in a rally led by another anti-war group, United for Peace and Justice, to address the military action in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economic crisis,” Libit reports.

Code Pink founder and confirmed Kool-Aid addict Medea Benjamin “sees a natural ideological and strategic connection between the economy and the war, and she argues that by maintaining relevance via the bailout debate.”

“It gives us a voice for the other work,” she says.

This woman has two master’s degrees and spent four years as an economist in Latin America and Africa, and yet it only took her seven years to realize that war and economy might be closely related. Amazing! She must have attended Bob Jones University, or a school of similar intellectual caliber.

Just to give you an idea of how irrelevant the ladies in pink are becoming, even the Democrats are getting sick of them. In fact, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are using a familiar Code Pink slogan whenever they address these deranged divas: “Get out!”

The antiwar group claims to have an email list of 200,000, but keep in mind that members with Multiple Personality Disorder get counted numerous times. According to Nibit, Code Pink “has neither the fundraising prowess nor the political might of, say, MoveOn. And while MoveOn does its thing with online work, advertisements, grass-roots mobilization and money, Code Pink has instead most often reached for noisy confrontation: protests and outbursts at hearings that typically do more annoying than persuading.”

So apparently the Women for Peace aren’t interested in giving the people any real peace.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and a man I rarely agree with, did something commendable last week when he told a group of Code Pink members to “grow up” after they tried to interrupt a hearing where Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were testifying.

“I do not know how you think you could advance any cause to which you might be attached by this kind of silliness,” Frank said.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sen. Dodd is now Sen. Doo-Doo

Politico reports Connecticut voters have locked Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd in the doghouse for his role in the AIG bonus scandal.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, former Republican congressman Rob Simmons, who officially announced last month that he would be challenging Dodd in 2010, is beating the five-term incumbent by no less than 16 points – 50 percent to 34 percent. Dodd is also trailing Simmons among independent voters by a whopping 31 points – 56 percent to 25 percent.

In layman’s terms, this ain’t good.

SIXTEEN POINTS! And keep in mind that Connecticut isn’t exactly Texas. For a Democrat who has served in the Senate from a blue state as long Dodd has, this is unusual.

And that’s not all. No, the fun’s just beginning. Politico also reports little-known GOP state senator Sam Caligiuri, who announced on Tuesday his intention to run for Dodd’s seat, is beating the embattled Democrat by four points – 41 percent to 37 percent.

“Dodd’s approval ratings are in the tank, with 58 percent of Connecticut voters disapproving of his job performance and only 33 percent viewing him favorably,” says Politico. “He doesn’t even have support within his own party – only 51 percent of Democrats approve of him.”

As can be expected, the voters of Connecticut are royally pissed at Dodd for helping to make it possible for greedy and inept AIG executives to get millions in bonuses. 74 percent of those surveyed said Dodd was to blame for those bonuses and 54 percent said he is not honest or trustworthy.

The good senator should have realized that the American people will not tolerate four things – extramarital affairs, homosexuality, atheism, and giving taxpayer money to rich and unscrupulous fat cats on Wall Street.

Still, Dodd has a year and a half to turn things around. I suggest that he immediately undergo sex reassignment surgery and change his name to Hillary Rodham Obama. Or maybe he can just skip the operation and change his name to Ned Lamont II.

Before I end here, I just have to say that while I have nothing against Dodd personally, I have always felt that he is the most boring person to ever serve in Congress. No kidding. This guy is so dull he makes Joe Lieberman look young and interesting. Dodd has “status quo” written all over his body. I understand why people are angry at him, but, seriously, was anyone really surprised to learn of Dodd’s actions regarding AIG?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Are Republicans Souring on Palin?

In the seven months since Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was first introduced to the American people as Sen. John McCain’s running mate, her prospects in national politics have gone from resembling a rising star to a skydiver whose parachute won’t open.

According to Politico’s Patrick O’Connor, Republicans are becoming uneasy about their favorite hockey mom. This is largely due to Palin’s recent public blunders, blunders that are being blamed on members of her inner circle as well as communication snafus between the governor’s staff in Alaska and her Washington-based political action committee, SarahPAC.

Here are a few of the latest incidents to come out of Palin’s gaffe-machine, as related by O’Connor:

The infamous YouTube turkey video in November where, unbeknownst to Palin, live turkeys were slaughtered just behind her within the camera frame.

A misfire involving the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. There, Palin had been slated for months to appear only to back out shortly before the event, leaving bruised feelings among organizers who thought they had a firm commitment from Palin herself. A spokeswoman for Palin’s PAC contends the governor had never agreed to appear and that Palin’s camp was surprised when CPAC announced the governor would be speaking at the event.

An interview with conservative filmmaker John Ziegler, who included Palin in his film, “Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted.” Comments by Palin about Caroline Kennedy and CBS News anchor Katie Couric contained in excerpts released by Ziegler generated tremendous controversy and prompted a Palin spokesman to blame Ziegler for blindsiding the governor. But Ziegler told POLITICO that Palin had called him to express support in a nearly 30-minute telephone call.

And here’s a new one to add to the growing list. O’Connor reports Congressional Republicans are dumping Palin as the keynote speaker for their annual Senate-House GOP dinner and replacing her with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. According to sources familiar with the situation, this was done because the former GOP vice presidential candidate “vacillated publicly about the appearance.”

The dinner is scheduled for June 8 at the Washington Convention Center. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) will host.

“The Governor never confirmed her attendance at the event. She was honored to receive the invitation and asked to confirm her attendance at the end of the legislative session,” said SarahPAC spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton. “Governor Palin is thrilled to hear that Newt Gingrich will address the audience as the governor continues to focus on Alaska.”

“However, the fact that Palin was never completely confirmed as a speaker was precisely the problem, according to sources familiar with the deliberations about who would speak at the dinner,” O’Connor writes.

Apparently the NRSC and the NRCC were under the impression that the governor, a major draw for conservative activists, would be the star attraction at the fundraising dinner. In fact, the committees even issued a joint press release heralding her expected appearance and the announcement was quickly picked by several media outlets. Also, “Palin’s PAC indicated to the committees that she would attend.”

“But the governor’s office later said that it had not put the event on the schedule,” O’Connor reports. “Three people close to planning for the dinner said Palin’s aides proceeded to hem and haw about the appearance, both publicly and privately, leading the committees to decide to replace her because they were nearing a deadline to send invitations and other fundraising materials to their donors.”

This is too funny. I can’t decide who is a bigger joke – Palin or Jindal.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Should Congress Pass the Employee Free Choice Act?

Politico is featuring op-ed columns on the controversial Employee Free Choice Act by two members of Congress, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.). As can be expected, Boehner comes out against the EFCA, while Sanchez comes out in favor.

According to Wikipedia, the EFCA “would require the National Labor Relations Board will be required to certify a union as the bargaining representative without directing an election if a majority of the bargaining unit employees signed cards, however, employees may still request a secret ballot election if 30 percent of employees petition for one.”

EFCA supporters argue that the act would protect the right of employees to join unions, while opponents say the proposed legislation would allow union organizers to coerce employees into joining their unions. They also claim that the privacy of workers could be violated.

Boehner writes, “Republicans support Americans’ right to unionize freely, and that is why we oppose this anti-worker legislation. Stripping workers of free choice in union organizing elections, this bill would leave workers open to coercion and intimidation — from either union officials or company management. In other words, rather than allowing an employee to make this critical choice in secrecy, the act would end workers’ right to privacy, making votes public for all coworkers, union organizers and employers to see — and that is simply not the way Americans conduct elections. Never have, never should."

Boehner says his party has a better alternative called the Secret Ballot Protection Act. According to the House Minority Leader, this piece of legislation would protect an employee’s right to a union election by secret ballot.

The Republican Congressman also accuses EFCA’s Democratic supporters of serving special interest groups at the expense of the American worker.

”Few rights are more fundamental to our democracy than the right to a secret ballot,” Boehner writes. “Even some of card check’s most ardent supporters, such as Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), have spoken in favor of secret ballot elections — but only when it serves their interests. Such duplicity highlights what is really at play here. This legislation is not about workers’ rights; it’s about satisfying the demands of Democrats’ special-interest political allies.”

For her part, Sanchez argues that, “This legislation gives workers more options to ensure they have the freedom to choose whether they want to form a union without facing intimidation and undue pressure from any entity. Several large companies, including AT&T and Kaiser Permanente, have voluntarily implemented some of the provisions in the Employee Free Choice Act, and the result has been a decrease in hostility in the workplace, which ultimately leads to increases in worker productivity.”

Sanchez goes on to rebut the claim made by critics of EFCA that the act would not give workers the right to have a secret ballot election.

“Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act label it ‘undemocratic’ and claim that it eliminates workers’ right to a secret ballot election,” she writes. “This is simply untrue. If one-third of workers prefer to have a secret ballot National Labor Relations Board election, then they are able to do that. The Employee Free Choice Act preserves this option while providing the majority vote process as an additional way to decide whether to form a union without the possibility of the employer rejecting the result.”

I must confess here that I am no expert on labor issues. What do you think? Should EFCA be passed or not? And why or why not? Does the EFCA really help the American worker, or does it hurt him or her?

Monday, March 30, 2009

McCain Refuses to Say Whether He Would Support Palin in 2012

Would Sarah Palin make a good president? At least one person isn’t sure – her former running mate.

According to Politico, Arizona Senator John McCain dodged and weaved when asked Sunday during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press whether he would support the Alaska governor if she chose to make a run for the presidency in 2012.

First, Meet the Press host David Gregory asked the man who ran as the Republican Party’s candidate in the 2008 election if he would “like to see” Palin become president.

"I'd like to see her compete. I think we got some very good candidates," McCain said before giving the names of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Utah Gov. John Huntsman.

When Gregory asked McCain point-blank if he would support Palin if she entered 2012 GOP primary, Mr. Straight Talk gave the usual ass-covering response: “I'd have to see who the candidates are and what the situation is at the time."

This is something McCain apparently didn’t do in 2008. Who says the elderly are slow?

What an odd thing for the senator to say about a woman he chose to run for the second-highest job in the land. After al, they say the vice president is just one heartbeat away from the presidency, and in Palin’s case, this was literally true, as her running mate was old enough to have crossed the Alps with Hannibal.

Of course, I’m being sarcastic. I’m really not this naïve. I have learned enough about presidential elections to know that when you are running for the Big Job and are deciding on a ticket partner, you pick the person who will help you get elected, not the person you like.

Still, given this, why did McCain pick The Hockey Mom. Why did he think she would help him with the voters? Who was his campaign strategist, James Carville?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Reid Says Chief Justice Roberts “Misled” Senate During Confirmation Hearings

Politico reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has accused Chief Justice John Roberts of misleading the Senate during his conformation hearings in 2005 by acting like a moderate and says the country is now “stuck” with him.

“Roberts didn’t tell us the truth. At least Alito told us who he was,” Reid said, referring to Samuel Alito, the second Supreme Court justice appointed by President George W. Bush. “But we’re stuck with those two young men, and we’ll try to change by having some moderates in the federal courts system as time goes on — I think that will happen.”

”Reid’s comments, which came during a wide-ranging discussion hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, reflect Democratic concerns that Roberts presented himself as a neutral arbiter of the law but has wielded a relentlessly conservative agenda,” writes Raju. “Republicans reject the attacks, saying Roberts has been a fair judge and has been consistent in his opinions.”

Reid says he and his fellow Democrats will seek out moderates to put on the bench, but he also said he will not attempt to keep Republicans from filibustering nominees they feel are too extreme. Four years ago, former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who was the Majority Leader at the time, threatened to use the “nuclear option” and do away with the filibuster. This triggered a harsh response from Reid and members of his party, who argued that such a move would eliminate the rights of the minority.

Ironically, if First had carried out his threat three years ago, Republicans today would not be able to filibuster President Obama’s judicial nominees.

“As I said at the time, the nuclear option was the most important issue I’ve ever worked on in my entire career, because if that had gone forward it would have destroyed the Senate as we know it,” Reid said.

“If the Republicans want to filibuster a judge, that is directly contrary to what their political philosophy was, but I guess it’s all subject to change,” he added.

Reid also recalled Senate Republicans’ campaign to block President Bill Clinton’s court appointees, calling it “a dark point in the history of our country. I would hope we don’t have to go through that again.”

I’m afraid I don’t know jack about the Supreme Court. In fact, I don’t even know the names of all of the justices. Can someone help me out here? Is Chief Justice Roberts really an extremist or a moderate?

Obama to Dole Out Some Tough Love to Automakers

Forget about bailout money. It’s time for President Obama to hand out some tough love to those automakers!

Ken Thomas and Tom Krisher of The Associated Press report Obama will announce a new aid package for General Motors and Chrysler within the next week or so and says the auto giants need to make “pretty drastic changes” if they want to save their industry in the long run.

“Obama gave a preview of his administration's approach to fixing the struggling U.S. auto industry during an online town hall meeting Thursday, promising additional aid only if the Detroit change its ways and receives concessions from stakeholders,” Thomas and Krisher write.

"We will provide them some help," Obama said. "I know that it is not popular to provide help to auto workers — or to auto companies. But my job is to measure the costs of allowing these auto companies just to collapse versus us figuring out — can they come up with a viable plan?"

"If they're not willing to make the changes and the restructurings that are necessary, then I'm not willing to have taxpayer money chase after bad money," he added.

Hmmm….not willing to have taxpayer money chase after bad money? What does B.O. think he’s doing with the banks?

All told, Chrysler and General Motors have received over $17 billion in bailout money since December and are requesting billions more. A presidential task force set up by Obama “has been meeting with industry officials and studying restructuring plans submitted by the companies to put them on the path to long-term profitability through tough concessions.”

"Everybody is going to have to give a little bit — shareholders, workers, creditors, suppliers, dealers — everybody is going to have to recognize that the current model, economic model, of the U.S. auto industry is unsustainable," Obama said.

Although the president believes the auto companies brought about many of their own troubles through mismanagement, he says it is vital to preserve the industry for symbolic and employment reasons. It is estimated that some 3 million American jobs would be lost if the car manufacturers were allowed to go out of business.

According to Thomas and Krisher, “The government can recall its loans to GM and Chrysler if they fail to sign deals for debt restructuring and other concessions from stakeholders, including the United Auto Workers union, by March 31.”

So when does the newspaper industry get a bailout? Seriously, should the government help the automakers in the name of preserving an important American institution and keeping many citizens employed, or should the automakers be allowed to pay for their mistakes and go out of business?

Obama and “Afghanistanization”

To escalate or not to escalate? That is the question.

Obama’s answer: Escalate.

Kim Chipman and Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg News report President Obama plans to deploy 4,000 troops to Afghanistan on top of the 17,000 he already sent there in February. According to administration officials, the additional forces will train the members of the Afghan army and “set benchmarks for progress in battling militants there and in Pakistan.”

It is hoped that this new strategy, which will be announced later today, will turn the tide in America’s eight-year-old war in Afghanistan and stem the recent wave of insurgent violence that has racked the landlocked nation. An important presidential and provincial election is scheduled to take place in Afghanistan on August 20 and security will be crucial to its success, as many expect the Taliban and other insurgents to do everything in their power to disrupt what would normally be a peaceful political event.

The London-based Times reports the top commander of the British Army is ready to deploy a further 2,000 troops to Afghanistan.

According to Simon Tisdall and Ewen McAskill of The Guardian, diplomatic and military officials say the Obama administration thinks it has only one year to make real progress in Central Asia before it loses the support of the U.S. public. The American people have never liked long conflicts, and for good reason. Unfortunately, the president may need more than a year to fix this situation.

The hyenas over at Code Pink want President Obama to immediately withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and focus instead on diplomacy and bringing humanitarian aid to that country. Are they serious? What good is humanitarian assistance if you don’t have troops there to stabilize the country and provide security? Of course, a conventional military strategy won’t work in Afghanistan and the Obama administration recognizes that fact, which is why it is putting a great deal of emphasis on training Afghan forces to protect their country. With regard to fighting the Taliban and other Islamic militants, this is an unconventional war and should be fought mainly by unconventional forces like the Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy Seals, Air Force Combat Controllers and PJs, and Recon Marines. But there still needs to be a certain number of conventional troops for the reasons I outlined above.

The Code Pinkers and those who agree with them need to come up with a more realistic alternative than the “Kumbaya” approach. Utilizing “soft” methods in a conflict such as this one is important, of course, but as a great man once put it, it helps to have a big (insert your own expletive) stick.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Republicans’ Transparency Push Interpreted by Democrats as an Attack on Michelle Obama

According to Politico, an effort is being made on the part of House Republicans to institute a change in federal law that would require first ladies to conduct their policy work in public. But many Democrats are interpreting this move as an attack on Michelle Obama and are warning their GOP colleagues that her husband, who has a big-ass nuclear arsenal at his disposal, might see it the same way.

This Republican push for transparency is being led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Issa, a key player behind the 2003 gubernatorial recall election of former California Gov. Gray Davis and a one-time target of the Jewish Defense League, launched what is shaping up to be yet another partisan campaign at a combative committee markup session on March 10.

If his proposed amendment passes, “any government policy group that Mrs. Obama or another first spouse regularly participates in would be subject to a law requiring meetings to be announced in advance and, in most instances, public.”

Issa’s initial proposal at the markup sparked a furious debate between Democratic and Republican House members that lasted more than half an hour. Rep. William Clay (D-Mo.) said President Obama might view the legislation as a personal attack and a brutal partisan fight could be the result.

“Let me… caution my friend from California that, as you’re probably aware, this president is very guarded about his family,” Clay said. “I think that, no matter what you’re intending with this amendment, that the president may view this as an attack on his wife. And I’m just saying, you know, let’s be careful--if we want to open up that can of worms. Let’s not go in that direction.”

For his part, Issa insists that he and members of his party are only trying to get the Obama administration to live up to its image of itself as a champion of transparency.

“We are trying actually to protect the historic role of the first lady,” Issa said. “I believe this is open government at its finest.”

So who is telling the truth here? Are the Republicans sincere in their transparency effort or are the Democrats right in their suspicion that this same effort is really nothing more than a not-so-subtle knock at the woman Michelle Malkin derisively refers to as “the Other Michelle”?

Republicans Eager to Counter “Party of No” Image

Politico reports House Republicans have unleashed a new legislative offensive to present “detailed alternatives” to President Obama’s policies and fight back against Democrats’ attempts to paint them as “the Party of No.”

On Wednesday, it was a housing plan,” says Politico writers Mike Allen and Victoria McGrane. “Thursday, it will be a big, TV-friendly stack of budget blueprints, ‘The Republican Road to Recovery.’ That’s to match the president’s own platitudinous budget title, ‘A New Era of Responsibility.’”

“The House Republicans’ budget document, provided to POLITICO ahead of its release, makes sure no one can miss the point: Each chapter begins ‘The Republican Plan,’ and each section is divided into ‘The President’s Budget’ and ‘Republicans’ Solution.’”

According to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the housing proposal he and eight of his fellow Republicans unveiled on Tuesday was designed as a response “to the administration — and the president himself, who continues to say that Republicans don’t have any ideas.”

“We’re here today to say yes we do,” Cantor said. “This is one in a series. It will not be the last. We are committed to trying to pull the agenda back to the mainstream and to respond to the problems facing America’s families today.”

”The documents — and the showmanship in releasing them — are the result of frustration by GOP leaders who repeatedly hear on TV that they have no alternatives,” writes Allen and McGrane. “In fact, they had their own plans. They just didn’t get much attention, partly because Republicans sometimes disagreed about them among themselves.”

“It’s the old ‘I want to see it in writing,’” said a top House Republican official. “They’re going to see it in writing.” Another official said: “We need to hold something up and say, ‘Here are our charts. Here are our graphs. It’s real.’”

The Republicans will also host a TV series called “Mr. Jindal’s Nation,” starring Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as the lovable and cuddly man who talks to American voters as though they were children.

Here are the lyrics to the show’s theme song, Won’t You Be My Supporter?

It's a beautiful day in this nation,
A beautiful day for a supporter.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...
I've always wanted to have a supporter just like you.
Even if I’m not in the same tax bracket as you.
I’ll cut your taxes and protect you from foes,
Ban gay marriage and liberal news shows.
You’ll be doing God’s will if you vote for me,
This nation will be Christian and how great will that be?
So, let's make the most of this beautiful nation,
And join together to celebrate the Good Lord’s Creation.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my supporter?
Won't you please,
Won't you please?
Please won't you be my supporter?

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